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18th of October 2019.
Saint Luke the Evangelist
Liturgical colour: red    (more...)
I
N THE CHURCH TODAY
M
ASS INTENTIONS
Today (Thursday)12:00 amFlo Smyth (Anniversary)
Tomorrow (Friday)10:00 amNo Intention
R
ECENTLY DECEASED
We remember all those who have died recently:
Lucille Turner Funeral Notice...
Gerry Sinnott Funeral Notice...
Nora Bermingham Funeral Notice...
Michael Glynn Funeral Notice...
Kathleen Taylor Funeral Notice...
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha
TODAY'S READINGS
I
NTROIT
Da pacem DomineListenFollow
F
IRST READING
Romans 3:21-30
It is the same justice of God that comes to Jew and pagan alike
God’s justice that was made known through the Law and the Prophets has now been revealed outside the Law, since it is the same justice of God that comes through faith to everyone, Jew and pagan alike, who believes in Jesus Christ.

...Full Reading

God’s justice that was made known through the Law and the Prophets has now been revealed outside the Law, since it is the same justice of God that comes through faith to everyone, Jew and pagan alike, who believes in Jesus Christ. Both Jew and pagan sinned and forfeited God’s glory, and both are justified through the free gift of his grace by being redeemed in Christ Jesus who was appointed by God to sacrifice his life so as to win reconciliation through faith. In this way God makes his justice known; first, for the past, when sins went unpunished because he held his hand, then, for the present age, by showing positively that he is just, and that he justifies everyone who believes in Jesus.
  So what becomes of our boasts? There is no room for them. What sort of law excludes them? The sort of law that tells us what to do? On the contrary, it is the law of faith, since, as we see it, a man is justified by faith and not by doing something the Law tells him to do. Is God the God of Jews alone and not of the pagans too? Of the pagans too, most certainly, since there is only one God.

...Show Summary

R
ESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 129(130):1-6
With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
  Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
  to the voice of my pleading.
...Full Responsorial Psalm
With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
  Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
  to the voice of my pleading.
With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
  Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:
  for this we revere you.
With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

My soul is waiting for the Lord.
  I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
  more than watchman for daybreak.
With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

...Show Summary

G
OSPEL ACCLAMATION
Ps110:78
Alleluia, alleluia!
Your precepts, O Lord, are all of them sure;
they stand firm for ever and ever.
Alleluia!
...Alternative Acclamation
Alleluia, alleluia!
Your precepts, O Lord, are all of them sure;
they stand firm for ever and ever.
Alleluia!
O
R
Jn14:6
Alleluia, alleluia!
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, says the Lord;
No one can come to the Father except through me.
Alleluia!

...Show First

G
RADUAL
Laetatus sumListenFollow
A
LLELUIA
Timebunt gentes nomen tuumListenFollow
G
OSPEL
Luke 11:47-54
You have not gone in yourselves and have prevented others who wanted to
Jesus said: ‘Alas for you who build the tombs of the prophets, the men your ancestors killed! In this way you both witness what your ancestors did and approve it; they did the killing, you do the building.
...Full Gospel
Jesus said: ‘Alas for you who build the tombs of the prophets, the men your ancestors killed! In this way you both witness what your ancestors did and approve it; they did the killing, you do the building.
  ‘And that is why the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and apostles; some they will slaughter and persecute, so that this generation will have to answer for every prophet’s blood that has been shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the sanctuary.” Yes, I tell you, this generation will have to answer for it all.
  ‘Alas for you lawyers who have taken away the key of knowledge! You have not gone in yourselves, and have prevented others going in who wanted to.’
  When he left the house, the scribes and the Pharisees began a furious attack on him and tried to force answers from him on innumerable questions, setting traps to catch him out in something he might say.
...Show Summary
O
FFERTORY
Sanctificavit MoysesListenFollow
C
OMMUNION
Tollite hostiasListenFollow


L
ISTEN TO TODAY'S READINGS

(New American Bible.)


A House Divided 
Luke 11:14-26
(
TODAYS GOSPEL:
Luke 11:47-54 )

GOSPEL REFLECTION

At one point in today’s gospel reading, Jesus is very critical of the lawyers. The lawyer in the time of Jesus was the expert in religious law. He had made a special study of God’s Law, both the written law in the Scriptures and also the oral law that had grown up around that written law and that sought to apply the written law to the changing circumstances of people’s daily lives. ...Full Reflection

At one point in today’s gospel reading, Jesus is very critical of the lawyers. The lawyer in the time of Jesus was the expert in religious law. He had made a special study of God’s Law, both the written law in the Scriptures and also the oral law that had grown up around that written law and that sought to apply the written law to the changing circumstances of people’s daily lives. They lawyers were considered experts in the understanding of God’s will for people’s lives, as that will found expression in God’s Laws, both written and oral. They had the potential to penetrate to the truth of what God wants of us. However, Jesus accuses them of failing in their task. Yes, they have the key of knowledge, the key that gives access to God’s truth for our lives, but they haven’t used this key to gain access to this truth for themselves, and, more seriously, they have become an obstacle to others gaining this truth. Jesus speaks here as the one who is himself the access to God’s truth, to God’s will for our lives. He is the door; he is the key to the door. In looking at what Jesus does and in listening to what he says we discover God’s truth. Elsewhere in the Gospel Jesus declares that it is above all the wise and the intelligent, people like the experts in the Jewish law, who are failing to receive this revelation of God’s truth in Jesus, whereas what he calls ‘infants’ are doing so with ease. Perhaps the gospel reading is suggesting that sometimes learning and intelligence can be a block to faith, in so far as it makes us too sure of our own position. We need to bend low to receive God’s visitation in Jesus, to humble ourselves, to become like little children.

...Show Summary

TODAY IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

Old Calendar: St. Luke, evangelist

St. Luke, the inspired author of the third Gospel and of the Acts of the Apostles, was a native of Antioch in Syria and a physician, and one of the early converts from paganism. He accompanied St. Paul on a considerable part of his missionary journey. He was also his companion while in prison at Rome on two different occasions.

...Full Version


Old Calendar: St. Luke, evangelist

St. Luke, the inspired author of the third Gospel and of the Acts of the Apostles, was a native of Antioch in Syria and a physician, and one of the early converts from paganism. He accompanied St. Paul on a considerable part of his missionary journey. He was also his companion while in prison at Rome on two different occasions. His account of these events, contained in the Acts, is firsthand history.

Luke's Gospel is, above all, the Gospel of the Merciful Heart of Jesus. It emphasizes the fact that Christ is the salvation of all men, especially of the repentant sinner and of the lowly. Legend says that Luke painted the Blessed Virgin's portrait. It is certainly true that he painted the most beautiful word-picture of Mary ever written.

...Show Summary


St. Luke
St. Luke came from Antioch, was a practicing physician and was one of the first converts to Christianity. He accompanied St. Paul, who converted him, on his missionary journeys and was still with him in Rome when St. Paul was in prison awaiting death.

...Full Version


St. Luke
St. Luke came from Antioch, was a practicing physician and was one of the first converts to Christianity. He accompanied St. Paul, who converted him, on his missionary journeys and was still with him in Rome when St. Paul was in prison awaiting death. We hear no more of him afterwards and nothing is known of his last years. The Church venerates him as a Martyr.

St. Luke's Gospel is principally concerned with salvation and mercy; in it are preserved some of our Lord's most moving parables, like those of the lost sheep and the prodigal son. Dante calls St. Luke the "historian of the meekness of Christ." It is also St. Luke who tells us the greater part of what we know about our Lord's childhood.

"According to tradition he was an artist, as well as a man of letters; and with a soul alive to all the most delicate inspirations, he consecrated his pencil to the holiest use, and handed down to us the features of the Mother of God. It was an illustration worthy of the Gospel which relates to the divine Infancy; and it won for the artist a new title to the gratitude of those who never saw Jesus and Mary in the flesh. Hence St. Luke is the patron of Christian art."
-Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.


St. Luke did not personally know our Lord, and like St. Mark, the author of the second Gospel, he is not included among the apostles. For this reason the Gospel chosen for their feast is the account of the sending forth of the seventy-two disciples. According to St. Jerome, St. Luke died in Achaia (Greece) at the age of 84, and it is unknown whether or not he died a martyr's death. His name means "bringer of light" (= luke).

Patron: Artists; bachelors; bookbinders; brewers; butchers; glassworkers; goldsmiths; lacemakers; notaries; painters; physicians; sculptors; stained glass workers; surgeons.

Symbols: Winged ox; winged calf; ox; picture of the Virgin; palette and brushes; phials of medicine; physician's robes; easel; book and pen; hatchet; wooden horse; books of his Gospel and of the Acts; bishop; painting an icon of our Lady.

Things to Do:

  • Read the Acts of the Apostles. St. Luke accompanied St. Paul on his missionary journeys — we could spiritually adopt a missionary and accompany him or her with our prayers.

  • See St. Luke, Evangelist and Artist for some excellent ideas on how to incorporate this feast into your family life.

  • St. Luke depicted Mary vividly in words. Learn and pray the three precious canticles preserved for us by him — the Benedictus, the Magnificat, and the Nunc Dimittis.

  • Pray for doctors and those who care for the sick through the intercession of St. Luke, patron of physicians.

  • Foods this day to honor St. Luke would include some beef dish, as he is known as the "ox" and is the patron of butchers. For dessert, bake some raisin Banbury Tarts to evoke the festivals of England on this day, or a cake in the shape of a book with decorations of a calf or ox for this evangelist.

  • Today is also known as "Sour Cakes Day" in Scotland, because baked cakes were eaten with sour cream in Rutherglen.

  • Around this feast is known as "St. Luke's Little Summer," a period of summer-like days that occur around October 18 named to honor the saint's feast day. It's similar to the the term "Indian Summer," which officially occurs between November 11-20). St. Luke gives us some golden days before the cold of winter.

  • Read more about St. Luke and his writings from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

...Show Summary


UPCOMING EVENTS

BETHANY GEC

24th October 20197:30 pm
Library
Info and Directions

MARGARET MURPHY 100 YEARS OLD

31st October 2019All Day
Info and Directions

RARA (Com Meeting)

5th November 20199:30 am
Library
Info and Directions

RARA

5th November 201910:30 am
HALL
Info and Directions

RARA BOOK CLUB

7th November 20192:00 pm
Library
Info and Directions

LATEST PARISH NEWS

November Altar List Envelopes

Envelopes are available at the back of the Church. Envelopes will be delivered to all homes in the Parish and will be available for distribution from next weekend. Please take a bundle from the Sacristy and deliver to the homes on your road next weekend.
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jason
WORLD MISSION SUNDAY: SPECIAL COLLECTION

Next weekend our parish will celebrate World Mission Sunday. It’s a way, chosen by Pope Francis, that gives support to those suffering within our Church family. On the 20th, every single parish worldwide will give what they can. It will be used to support overseas missionaries, many of whom work in some of the world’s most impoverished communities. Next week, if you can, please be
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jason

Amazon synod organizers: "Voice of local Church" led to married priest debate

Amazon synod organizers: "Voice of local Church" led to married priest debate The cardinal noted that the controversial preparatory document is not papal magisterium, but that regardless, cardinals and others are welcome to criticize it because, “now more than before, there’s freedom of expression,” in the Catholic Church. The instrumentum laboris, he said, is merely a summary of a two-year listening process the Church did in the Amazon.

Peruvian Cardinal Pedro Barreto Jimeno, spoke with a handful of reporters, including Crux, about the proposal of ordaining viri probati, meaning men of proven virtue, and the criticism the pope is receiving from some quarters.

“The synod is not a parliament,” Barreto said. “What we’re going to do is to present proposals to the pope. It is he who will decide, in accordance to what God asks of him, as the Successor of Peter – principal and foundation, perpetual and visible sign of the unity between the bishops and all the baptized.”

Despite the interest on the matter of ordaining married men to address the priest shortage in the Amazon region Francis himself has noted several times that this is a “side issue” in the discussion. Furthermore, the pontiff has repeatedly said that he has no intention of doing away with priestly celibacy.

On Wednesday, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, told journalists that he’s open to the debate but “skeptical,” and that he’s not the only one in the Vatican who is: “Above me there is someone who is even more skeptical who has authorized the debate, and that’s OK.” Asked point blank by journalists if he meant the pope, he simply smiled and said he didn’t want to put words in his boss’s mouth
Read More....
For more stories like these go to Catholic News and Opinion
Open Gospel Choir Rehearsal

Come and celebrate National Singing Week at an open rehearsal with the Rathfarnham Gospel Choir on Monday 7th October at 8.15pm in Parish Centre. Come for a sing, stay for a cuppa and see how good it is to sing amongst friends. No experience necessary.

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fionacorless

LATEST WORLD NEWS

See more in the Catholic World section. News, Opinion, Reviews, Catholic Teaching, Living the Life.
Vatican denies Indian nun's appeal of dismissal from religious life for disobedience
Vatican City, Oct 17, 2019 / 02:22 pm (CNA).- The Congregation for the Oriental Churches has rejected the appeal of Sister Lucy Kalapura, who was dismissed from religious life in August for several acts of disobedience, including a protest of the handling of another nun's accusation that a bishop serially raped her. The congregation's Sept. 26 decree denying recourse to the nun of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation  was conveyed in an Oct. 11 letter from the apostolic nunciature in India. Sr. Lucy has the right to further appeal to the Apostolic Signatura. However, she told the BBC that “I don't see any point in doing that since they have made up their mind. I will now go to court on behalf of all the people who are being suppressed and facing illegal behaviour from authorities of the congregation.” She maintained: “I am not going to leave the convent. The lifestyle I lead is as per the rules and regulations.” Sr. Lucy was sent a letter Aug. 5 from the superior general of the FCC, Sr. Ann Joseph, notifying her she had been dismissed from the community, which decision had been confirmed by the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. Sr. Lucy has led a life against the principles of religious life, the community says, by disobeying a transfer order, publishing poems after having been denied permission to do so, buying a vehicle, withholding her salary from the congregation, and participating in a protest against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jullundur, who has been charged with several instances of raping a nun of a different congregation. The letter from Sr. Ann Joseph said that Sr. Lucy “did not show the needed remorse and you failed to give a satisfactory explanation for your lifestyle in violation of the proper law of the FCC.” Sr. Lucy had been sent a letter of warning Jan. 1, asking that she appear before Sr. Ann by Jan. 9 to explain her disobediences, or face expulsion from the congregation. In January Sr. Lucy said that the congregation was trying to silence her, and denied any wrongdoing. She was sent a second letter of warning in February, and India Times reported that she “failed to respond to a notice issued against her in March”. The congregation's General Council, held May 11, voted unanimously to dismiss Sr. Lucy, and asked for confirmation from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. In the January letter of warning sent to Sr. Lucy, the superior general wrote that she joined a protest regarding Bishop Mulakkal “without the permission of your superior. You have published articles in some non-Christian newspapers and weeklies … gave interviews to 'Samayam' without seeking permission from the provincial superior. Through Facebook, channel discussions and the articles, you belittled the Catholic leadership by making false accusations against it and tried to bring down the sacraments. You tried to defame FCC also. Your performance through social media as a religious sister was culpable, arising grave scandal.” The letter also said Sr. Lucy failed to obey a transfer order given her in 2015 by her provincial superior, and that she published a book of poems despite being denied permission to do so, and used 50,000 Indian rupees ($700) from the congregation's account “without proper permission” to do so. Sr. Kalapura is also accused of buying a car for about $5,670 and learning to drive without permission, and failing to entrust her salary from December 2017. Sr. Ann Joseph called these acts “a grave infringement of the vow of poverty.” The superior general added that Sr. Kalapura has been corrected and warned several times by her provincial over her “improper behaviour and violations of religious discipline.” “Instead of correcting yourself, you are simply denying the allegations against you stating that you have to live your own beliefs, ideologies and conviction. You are repeatedly violating the vows of obedience and poverty. The evangelization and social work you do should be according to the FCC values, principles and rules. The present mode of your life is a grave violation of the profession you have made,” Sr. Ann Joseph wrote. Another nun of the FCC, Sister Lissy Vadakkel, was transferred earlier this year from Muvattupuzha to Vijawada. Sister Alphonas Abraham, superior of the FCC's Nirmala Province, said in February that Sr. Lissy's transfer was unrelated to her acting as a witness in the case against Bishop Mulakkal. In April, Bishop Mulakkal was charged with rape.
‘No one ever talked about McCarrick and the boys’
Washington D.C., Oct 17, 2019 / 12:41 pm (CNA).- A man claiming to be a former child victim of Theodore McCarrick has written an open essay in response to a recent interview given by the former cardinal. Writing under the name Nathan Doe, the man says that McCarrick sexually abused a series of minors during his years as a cleric. Media reports have detailed a string of allegations made against McCarrick since the announcement of a Vatican investigation in June 2018. Those reports have referred to McCarrick’s alleged victims as including eight former seminarians and three minors. “The ‘third’ accuser they were referring to in those news articles was me,” Doe said. The man says he chose to maintain his anonymity because he does not wish to expose other innocent people to “pain and suffering” by making his name public. Much of the coverage of allegations against the former cardinal has focused on his apparent crimes against seminarians in the dioceses which he led during his career as a bishop, first in New Jersey and later in Washington, D.C., something which many people have since reported was an “open secret” among those around McCarrick. “I am not even sure I know what ‘open secret’ means,” Doe wrote in an essay published online on Oct. 17. “What I do know is that no one ever talked about McCarrick and the boys.” “I am referring to McCarrick’s targets and victims before he was given power and control over all of those seminaries. I am referring to the first act in McCarrick’s sexual abuse career that no one ever talked about before the Summer of 2018. I am referring to young Catholic boys - almost always between the ages of 12 and 16.” A source with knowledge of the Vatican investigation into McCarrick told CNA that the former cardinal is alleged to have regularly invited high school boys to accompany him on trips between 1971-1977, when he served as secretary to Cardinal Terrence Cooke, then-Archbishop of New York.  As previously reported by CNA, during that same period, McCarrick already had a well-established reputation among seminarians as a predator, with one former student at a New York seminary telling CNA last year that “the dean of our theology school was a classmate at CUA with McCarrick, and he knew about the rumors.”  The priest told CNA that so well-known was McCarrick’s reputation, the priest said, that when McCarrick would accompany Cooke to visit the seminary there was a standing joke that they had to "hide the handsome ones" before he arrived.  Similar accusations were reported by former students at Seton Hall University, home to the Archdiocese of Newark’s seminary. An independent report, commissioned in response to CNA’s reporting, concluded that as Archbishop of Newark, McCarrick created a “culture of fear and intimidation” at the Seton Hall and “used his position of power as then-Archbishop of Newark to sexually harass seminarians.”  In his essay, published on Thursday, Doe said that in addition to these seminary-related allegations, as a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, McCarrick abused a group of at least seven boys under the age of 16 who collectively provided evidence to Church authorities during the canonical penal administrative process which resulted in McCarrick’s laicization earlier this year. “Collectively, we were able to provide law enforcement with names, dates, times, locations, who was present, supporting evidence, and related documentation covering hundreds of Church-related or fundraising-related overnight trips between the years 1970 and 1990 that, as fate would have it, all resulted in McCarrick sharing a bed with a young Catholic boy.” Doe says he recognized his own experience, and those of other minors abused by McCarrick, in the account of James Grien, initially published anonymously in the New York Times last year. “To varying degrees, Grein’s story was our story. I don’t know James Grein, have never spoken to him, and I never even knew he existed until that moment, but there were too many details in that interview that only a person in our exclusive club would know.”  The report comes just weeks before the U.S. bishops will meet for their third assembly since the McCarrick scandal broke in June 2018. In November 2018, the bishops defeated 83-137 a resolution that would have urged the Vatican to release a comprehensive dossier on McCarrick. In October 2018, Pope Francis ordered an internal Vatican investigation into the career of the disgraced McCarrick. Results of that investigation have not been released. While many have criticized the delay in making public a report into McCarrick, Doe said he was undeterred by the apparent delay. “I have no insights at all into who is writing that report and how all of that will work. What I can tell you is that if they had completed and issued their report before today, I would be sitting here telling you that they closed the book too soon,” he wrote. Calling McCarrick a “walking jurisdictional nightmare,” Doe said it is important not to “underestimate the sheer volume of information that began coming in last year, the number of different channels that information came in through, and all of the various investigative processes and law enforcement agencies that have been involved with the examination of the information.” “I am personally inclined to grant all of the investigators all the time they need to do whatever work is necessary to get this done right once and for all,” he said. Sources in Rome and Washington have confirmed to CNA that large quantities of documents and a detailed report on archdiocesan records have already been compiled and forwarded to Rome, but the Archdiocese of Washington has repeatedly declined to comment on those records. In June 2019, Newark Cardinal Joseph Tobin told CNA he was precluded by a state attorney general’s investigation from releasing the files and reports compiled by his diocese on McCarrick, who was Newark’s archbishop from 1986 to 2000. Tobin is believed to have also forwarded a report to the Vatican detailing McC’s time in Newark. Doe wrote that despite seeing the coverage of McCarrick’s disgrace, and even though he participated in the canonical process which resulted in the former cardinal’s laicization in February, he “never” thought about making a public statement. “That all changed when I read McCarrick’s recent interview with Slate magazine where he attempted to discredit the victims of his sexual abuse while creating further division and confusion within our Church.” In that interview, McCarrick said he is “not as bad as they paint.”  “I do not believe that I did the things that they accused me of,” McCarrick said, while going on to suggest that his accusers “were encouraged” to come up with allegations by “enemies” of the former cardinal, pointedly referring to former Vatican diplomat Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano as “a representative of the far right” for coming forward with a series of allegations about McCarrick and apparent Vatican knowledge about his behavior. Some senior Church officials have told CNA that McCarrick was under consideration for an influential Vatican post in 1999; concerns about the former cardinal’s lifestyle are rumored to have played a role in scuttling that plan. McCarrick was nevertheless appointed Washington’s archbishop in 2000, where he continued to serve until his retirement in 2006. Doe said that he was only concerned with the integrity of McCarrick’s victims, whom he said McCarrick had further abused by suggesting they were politically motivated. “I don’t have an axe to grind with anyone other than Theodore McCarrick. For me, this is not an attack on our Church. This is not about Conservative vs Liberal. This is not about Straight vs Gay. This is not about Benedict vs. Francis. In my view, those arguments are a distraction.”  “For me, this is about our humanity. This is about the criminal, sexual abuse of minors,” Doe said.
Sasse resolution: Church beliefs should not jeopardize tax-exempt status
Washington D.C., Oct 17, 2019 / 11:59 am (CNA).- One U.S. senator is looking to bring up a vote on protecting churches from attempts to police their beliefs, after a presidential candidate said churches should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has introduced a resolution in the Senate expressing support for freedom of conscience (S.J.Res. 58). He said on Wednesday that his measure aims to put senators on the record on protecting the tax-exempt status of houses of worship, amidst attempts to condition that status on a church’s support for same-sex marriage. Introduced Wednesday, the joint resolution recognizes the importance of religious freedom to the framers of the Constitution and the role of religion in the history of the U.S., and says that the government cannot condition religious protections such as tax-exempt status upon certain viewpoints it deems “correct.” The resolution states that “government should not be in the business of dictating what ‘correct’ religious beliefs are; and any effort by the government to condition the receipt of the protections of the Constitution of the United States and the laws of the United States, including an exemption from taxation, on the public policy positions of an organization is an affront to the spirit and letter of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” Sasse introduced his resolution on Wednesday in response to comments by Democratic presidential candidate and former congressman Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke at a “#PowerOfOurPride” town hall on LGBTQ issues sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign and broadcast by CNN on Oct. 10. At the town hall event, O’Rourke had said in response to a question by moderator Don Lemon that “religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities” should be stripped of their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage. O’Rourke’s campaign later offered a clarification, saying he was not referring to the tax-exempt status of houses of worship but rather access to public grants and tax dollars of religious-based charities. On Sunday, O’Rourke told MSNBC, “when you are providing services in the public sphere, say, higher education, or health care, or adoption services, and you discriminate or deny equal treatment under the law based on someone's skin color or ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation, then we have a problem.” Despite the clarification, however, the comments sparked backlash and questions about the constitutionality of such a proposal. Sasse, on Wednesday, issued a rebuke of O’Rourke’s original proposal on the Senate Floor, calling them “extreme intolerance,” “extreme bigotry,” and “profoundly un-American.” “I don't care what some nitwit said on CNN last week to satisfy his fringy base and try to get a sound bite in a presidential debate. The American people ought to know that this body stands for the historic First Amendment, that's what we all took an oath to uphold and to defend and that's what we ought to vote to affirm again,” Sasse said. The government cannot regulate the speech of churches and cannot “define true and false religion,” he said. “Government doesn't rifle through your pastor's or your rabbi's sermon notes, government doesn't tell your clerics what they can or can't say, government doesn't tell your religious leaders how they will perform their services, government doesn't tell you where or when you will worship,” Sasse said. The Supreme Court ruled in a 1970 decision Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York that tax exemptions for houses of worship did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. In a 7-1 decision, the Court said that such exemptions did not single out one particular religious group for favor, but rather “creates only a minimal and remote involvement between church and state, far less than taxation of churches would entail.” Furthermore, two centuries of tax exemptions for churches “has not led to an established church or religion, and, on the contrary, has helped to guarantee the free exercise of all forms of religious belief,” the Court said. Other presidential candidates—Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Pete Buttigieg—said in the past week that they would not take such action to strip churches of tax exemptions. “Religious institutions in America have long been free to determine their own beliefs and practices, and she [Warren] does not think we should require them to conduct same-sex marriages in order to maintain their tax exempt status,” a statement from the Warren campaign to NBC News read. On CNN on Sunday, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said that removing tax exemptions “means going to war not only with churches, but I would think with mosques and a lot of organizations that may not have the same view of various religious principles that I do.” He added that “if we want to talk about anti-discrimination law for a school or an organization, absolutely. They should not be able to discriminate.” At the same town hall where O’Rourke made his original comments, fellow presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), was also asked if he would strip houses of worship of tax-exempt status for opposing same-sex marriage, and responded that such a move would produce a “long legal battle,” but added that “if you are using your position to try to discriminate others, there must be consequences to that. And I will make sure to hold them accountable using the DOJ or whatever investigatory [body].”
Bishops in Middle East urge prayer for northern Syria
Al-Hasakah, Syria, Oct 17, 2019 / 11:36 am (CNA).- Bishops in Syria and Iraq have called for worldwide prayer as fighting between Turkish and Kurdish forces further destabilizes northern Syria. “We were very concerned when we learned of the Turkish incursion at our borders, for our Christians,” Melkite Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo told Vatican News Oct. 14. The archbishop said that the Turkish invasion revives a memory for Christians of the Ottoman occupation of the region. “Our country and our entire region was occupied for four centuries already,” he said. “We hope that finally all the Syrians will unite to liberate the country and give freedom to all people, whether Christians, Kurds or Muslims, so that they can return to live in this country as they did before: all together and with the security that is lacking in past years,” the archbishop said. While US government officials and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are scheduled to meet Oct. 17 in an American effort to pressure Turkey to end the offensive against the Kurds, the humanitarian situation in northern Syria has worsened. Christians civilians have been killed and wounded in Turkey’s bombing of the Syrian towns of Ras al-Ayn and Al-Darbasiyah, which both have large Christian populations, according to In Defence of Christians. Aid groups working in northeastern Syria have begun to pull out of the area, saying that it is becoming too dangerous. More than 100,000 people have been displaced in the past week by the violence, according to the United Nations. Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said that his community is preparing to receive another wave of refugees. “Already in Erbil over the past two years we have witnessed a growing number of Syrian Christian refugees who have sought safety within the Christian community here. We expect that should additional Christians seek to flee conflict in Northeast Syria, most of them would come here to Erbil,” Warda said in a statement Oct. 12. “We pray that the government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the international community would not turn them away, but would help in providing for their care, along with all the other innocents of all faiths,” he said. Archbishop Warda called for all people to pray “at this critical time” for Syria and Iraq, stressing, “minorities will not be able to withstand another serious conflict.” “As the Church, our prayers and hopes are always for an end to this never-ending cycle of violence from all participants. We urge all parties to remember at all times their obligations to protect innocent civilians,” Warda said. US President Donald Trump pledged $50 million in stabilization assistance to ethnic and religious minorities in northeast Syria in an Executive Order Oct. 13. It stated: “the United States condemns the persecution of Christians, and we pledge our support to Christian communities everywhere suffering under the burden of oppression and brutal violence.” Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon Louis Raphael I Sako "appealed to all the Chaldean churches in the world, asking them to pray for a week for peace in Syria and Iraq,” Curial Bishop Basel Yaldo of Babylon said Oct. 16. Bishop Yaldo said that Middle Eastern Christians “are afraid of a return of the Islamic State.” Both Islamic State and al-Qaeda have experienced a resurgence in recent months, regrouping in rural areas, following U.S. disengagement, according to two former Pentagon officials writing in Foreign Affairs. After the fall of the Islamic State caliphate in April, the U.S. cut its troops down by half. The White House announced Oct. 6 that Turkish forces would take over some security responsibilities in northern Syria and that the U.S. would no longer maintain its military forces in the region. The announcement has caused widespread concern among Kurds in northern Syria and Iraq, and some human rights advocates have accused Trump of abandoning Kurdish allies while implicitly sanctioning a Turkish military offensive. After the U.S. announcement, Turkish military forces moved into Syria, with the stated aims of repelling Kurdish forces in Syria perceived to be a threat to Turkish security, and creating a space within Syria in which to house 2 million Syrian refugees now living in Turkey. Amid the conflict, 950 Islamic State supporters escaped from the Ain Issa detention facility, according to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. The U.S. government announced Oct. 14. sanctions on senior Turkish officials responsible for the offensive in Syria, and the House of Representatives voted Oct. 17 to condemn the president’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Kurdish-controlled Syria. Pope Francis appealed for dialogue and prayer for Syria in his Angelus address Oct. 13. “My thoughts go once again to the Middle East. In particular, to the beloved and tormented Syria, from which dramatic news arrives again about the fate of the people of the country’s northeast, who are forced to abandon their houses because of military actions,” Pope Francis said.
Moroccan king pardons woman who procured abortion, those who participated
Rabat, Morocco, Oct 17, 2019 / 10:39 am (CNA).- Morocco's king pardoned Wednesday a journalist, her fiance, and the medical team who last month were found guilty of procuring and performing an abortion. The country's penal code bars abortion except in cases when the mother's life is endangered. Mohammed VI's pardon was granted Oct. 16. Hajar Raissouni, 28, had been sentenced Sept. 30 to a year imprisonment for procuring an abortion and for fornication. Her fiance, Rifaat al-Amin, was also given a years' imprisonment, and her doctor, Mohammed Jamal Belkeziz, was given two years in prison and a two-year ban on practising medicine. A nurse and an assistant at the Rabat obstetrics-gynecology clinic were given suspended sentences. Th e pardon was communicted by a statement from the justice ministry saying the king's act was “within a framework of royal compassion and clemency” and considered his concern “to preserve the future of the two fiances who intended to found a family in conformity with religious precepts and the law, despite the error they committed and which led to the legal proceedings.” Raissouni writes for Akhbar Al-Yaoum, which is critical of the Moroccan government. Prosecutors have said her arrest has “nothing to do with her profession as a journalist,” but some worried it was politically motivated. Raissouni was arrested in August as she left the clinic. Saad Sahli, a lawyer for Raissouni and al-Amin, said that Raissouni had been receiving treatment for internal bleeding at the clinic where she was arrested. After her arrest, Raissouni was taken to hospital where she was given a gynecological exam. Prosecutors say there were indications of pregnancy and that she had received a “late voluntary abortion.” Rabat officials have also indicated the clinic where the five were arrested if being surveilled, after reports that abortions are regularly procured there. Raissouni and al-Amin have been religiously, but not legally, married. Sunni Islam is the established religion of Morocco. The country has strict rules on moral behavior and has criminalized debauchery and adultery. According to a group that support abortion rights, most abortion-related arrests in the country involve medical officials, and only rarely do they include the women who procure abortions. In 2018, Moroccan courts tried more than 14,500 people for debauchery; 3,048 for adultery; 170 for homosexuality; and 73 for abortions, AFP reported.
Amazon Synod At Half Way Mark
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New ‘eRosary’ launched to pray the Rosary for peace
The ‘Click To Pray eRosary’ is an interactive, smart and app-driven wearable device that serves as a tool for learning how to pray the rosary for peace in the world. It can be worn as a bracelet and is activated by making the Sign of the Cross. It is synchronized with a free App of the same name, which allows access to an audio guide, exclusive images and personalized content about the praying of the Rosary. Organisers say it is within the reach of everyone. Aimed at the peripheral frontiers of the digital world where the young people dwell, the ‘Click To Pray eRosary’ serves as a technology-based teaching tool to help young people pray the Rosary for peace and to contemplate the Gospel.  The project brings together the best of the Church’s spiritual tradition and the latest advances of the technological world. Physically, the device consists of ten consecutive black agate and hematite rosary beads, and a smart Cross which stores all the technological data connected to the app.  When activated, the user has the possibility to choose either to pray the standard Rosary, a contemplative Rosary and different kinds of thematic rosaries that will be updated every year. Once the prayer begins, the smart rosary shows the user’s progress throughout the different mysteries and keeps track of each Rosary completed. This smart rosary belongs to the family of “Click To Pray”, the official prayer app of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (where Pope Francis has his own personal profile) that connects thousands of people around the globe to pray every day. The eRosary is also intended to accompany him in his daily and monthly intentions in order to build a world with the taste of the Gospel. GadgeTek Inc. (GTI), a tech company dedicated to innovative lifestyle gadgets with operations spanning five continents around the globe, was responsible for the technological design of the wearable device. For more information, visit Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. ENDS  Source: Vatican News
Brazilian bishop: Yes, Amazon people can understand celibacy
Breves, Brazil, Oct 17, 2019 / 03:12 am (CNA).- A retired bishop from Brazil has spoken out against the claim that married priests are necessary in the Amazon region because the indigenous people do not understand celibacy. “It’s not the indigenous culture that finds insurmountable difficulties in understanding celibacy. It's that there was not a real inculturation of the Gospel among them,” said Bishop emeritus José Luis Azcona of Marajó, Brazil. “For many reasons, there has been a transmission of the faith that was not transformed into culture, a faith that was not completely received, not thought out completely, not lived faithfully.” Therefore, he said, “the first step in solving the problem of celibacy is not the abolition of it” but to work toward a more authentic incultration of the Gospel. In an article sent to ACI Digital, CNA’s Portuguese language sister agency, Azcona commented on the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, an Oct. 6-27 meeting on the Church’s life and ministry in the region. Bishop Erwin Kräutler, the retired head of the Xingu prelature in Amazonian Brazil and a contributor to the synod’s working document, said last week that married priests are the only option in the region because “the indigenous people do not understand celibacy.” Azcona, who led the Amazonian diocese from 1987-2016, rejected this argument, noting that cultures throughout history have had to learn truths about sexuality and celibacy, and saying this learning process does not post “an insurmountable hindrance.” The Greeks, Romans, and Jews, he said, “all had the same difficulty in understanding, but at the same time they experienced the unbridled joy of 'glorifying Christ in their bodies.'” “It’s not an indigenous world-vision that determines evangelization and establishes what can or cannot be accepted of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he stressed. Doing so would create a pseudo-Gospel, based not on the person of Christ and on his Church, but instead “arising from the indigenous, from their cultures or from their analysis.” “The evangelization of the Amazon cannot arise from the desire to please men, or to win their favor,” he stressed. “It's Jesus Christ and his Spirit that transcends all culture, but at the same time he is incarnated in the values and deepest expressions of each culture. He is the beginning, the middle and the end of all inculturation.” The bishop argued that elements of the synod’s working document reflect a secular worldview and lacks the joy and hope that come from authentic Christian witness. He added that celibacy in the priesthood allows for an undivided focus on the work of God. Abandonment to the will of God will create the environment in which priestly celibacy can be joyfully understood and experienced, Azcona said. “It is exclusively God who gives the gift of celibacy. Man is incapable of achieving it with his own efforts,” he said. Rather than abandoning celibacy, the bishop urged the Church to renew its prayers to Christ for strength to carry out his will. “The time has come to reaffirm in the Amazon the importance of prayer in face of the activism and secularism that threatens many Christians in evangelization.”  This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Digital. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Brazilian bishop: Lack of holiness among clerics an obstacle to vocations
Young people are looking for models of holiness and will be drawn to it when they see it, the bishop said
Thought For The Day – October 17th
Thought for the day for October 17th – Anti-Slavery Day 2019
Morning Catholic must-reads: 17/10/19
A daily guide to what's happening in the Catholic Church
Gonzaga, Catholic Charities team up to offer immigration legal assistance
Spokane, Wash., Oct 17, 2019 / 12:08 am (CNA).- Gonzaga University Law School in Spokane is partnering with Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington to offer immigration legal assistance to low-income individuals, as well as training in immigration law for students. Second- and third-year law students under faculty supervision will assist clients pro bono in the “Catholic Charities Immigration Clinic at Gonzaga Law School” starting this fall. “We're viewing this almost like a joint venture between the two of us,” Jacob Rooksby, dean of Gonzaga Law School, told CNA. “The attorney in charge has a vast network through her time at Catholic Charities. We envision the students and the attorney going on-site to different areas of the state to provide walk-up assistance, and that's going to start as we get further into the project,” Rooksby said. The law school has several pro bono clinics already, including Indian Law, Elder Law, and Business Law. The students will work with Megan Case, an attorney who formerly worked with Catholic Charities. Case told CNA that the center has a significant caseload at the moment, mostly on family reunification cases, whereby legal immigrants can petition for other family members to come and join them in the United States. The center will also work with individuals seeking asylum. Additionally, they have an immigration court hearing scheduled for January in a deportation case. Case noted that immigration law is one of the broadest and most complicated areas of U.S. law. She said during her time at Catholic Charities, she oversaw a number of naturalization cases, family reunification cases, and green cards, among others. They also helped individuals who qualified for victim-based visas. She noted that the center assists both documented and undocumented individuals. “There's definitely a need for attorneys to assist people in these types of cases, and there's a lot of work,” Case told CNA. Rooksby said there is already student interest and client need for the program. “As a Jesuit institution, I think we're taking seriously the Catholic Church's position on immigration as being one of the signature issues of our time,” he said. “So we see this as very consistent with our mission...the need is already there.”
Oct. 17 Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr, Memorial
St. Ignatius is one of the great bishops of the early Church. He was the successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Antioch. He was condemned to death by wild beasts during the Emperor Trajan's persecution. On his way to Rome, he wrote seven magnificent letters, which we still have today, concerning the Person of Christ, his love for Christ, his desire for martyrdom and on the constitution of the Church and Christian life. His sentiments before his approaching martyrdom are summed in his word in the Communion antiphon, "I am the wheat of Christ, ground by the teeth of beasts to become pure bread."
Catholic snakebite clinic in India saves thousands of lives each year
Patna, India, Oct 16, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- In most religious orders’ novitiate year, prospective sisters study and pray. Sister Crescencia Sun, however, had another habit to acquire: killing venomous snakes. In rural Bihar, about 4,500 people die of venomous snake bites each year. When the Sisters of Our Lady of Missions arrived in the Indian state in the 1990s to educate young girls, the sisters realized that God was calling them to another mission – a medical snakebite clinic. “Initially, we didn't have in mind to open the snakebite clinic, but because the people, so many of them suffered from snakebites and … many people were dying, we trained our sisters to learn this because they are nurses already,” Sister Crescencia Sun told CNA. During the hot summer, the sisters treat 40-50 patients per day at their snakebite clinic, saving the lives of thousands of snakebite victims each year. “In this place, many people are bitten by snakes … such as cobra, vipers, russell vipers, and krait to name a few,” Sr. Sun shared at the “Women on the Frontlines” symposium in Rome Oct. 16. The symposium – hosted by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See – highlighted religious sisters’ work in some of the most dangerous parts of the world. “Women religious are among the most effective and vital partners we have on the frontlines in fragile communities around the world,” Callista Gingrich, US ambassador to the Holy See, said at the symposium. “Women religious are often the last beacons of hope for millions of people who otherwise would not have a voice. They serve the displaced and the desperate, frequently at the risk of personal harm, in places where governments have failed and humanitarian organizations struggle to operate,” Gingrich said. Sister Sun told CNA that, at first, she found the work at the snakebite clinic to be very emotionally draining. “The first three months that I stayed there, I saw very many people dying of snake bites. I was very sad, and I said: 'Maybe this is not the mission for me,'” Sun shared. “But, you know, when you see the people keep coming, then you get the courage, and I prayed to God everyday 'Lord, if this is what you want me to do, you are the one to give me the courage and the strength,’” she said. Apart from treatment, the sisters work in preventative education, explaining to people in the surrounding villages the danger and how to protect themselves from the snakes. “Hindus worship snakes, so they do not kill them, even when they become victims of snakebites. So during summer, we work 24/7 day and night,” she said. Because of poverty, many of the patients they see live in huts made of bamboo and grass with a type of mud floor that can attract venomous creatures, particularly in the summer and rainy seasons. “We have many stories of people telling us that when they get up in the morning, they just put their foot down from their bed and that is where they were bitten by a snake,” Sun said. To keep themselves safe, the sisters have also trained dogs to detect the presence of snakes. “I was very much afraid of snakes. But, being in Bangalore for my novitiate, training to become a religious, in that area we also have plenty of snakes and cobras. That is where I learned how to deal and even have killed a number of snakes, so when I came here, that was a kind of preparation for me,” she said. In 2018, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Our Lady of the Missions treated more than 6,000 snakebite patients at their snakebite clinic in Kanti, Bihar. “I believe that God uses us religious as instruments and miracles take place because God heals,” Sister Sun said.
UN set to elect slave state to human rights council
Geneva, Switzerland, Oct 16, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- Mauritania, the west African nation where slavery remains a widespread practice, is expected to be voted on to the United Nations’ Human Rights Council on Thursday.  According to its website, the UNHRC is “an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.” The UNHRC membership spaces are allocated according to different regions of the world, with some regions only having as many candidate nations as there are slots to fill. For this election, there are four African countries--Libya, Mauritania, Benin, and Sudan--seeking election to the four spots on the Human Rights Council reserved for African nations. This means that they are essentially guaranteed to be elected to the council on Oct. 17.  Mauritania made slavery illegal in 1981, but did not criminalize the practice of owning slaves until 2007. It was the last country to abolish slavery. According to a 2012 CNN report, only one slave owner had been prosecuted for owning another human being since the practice was made illegal.  While the Mauritanian government officially denies that slavery is ongoing in the country, Mauritanian watchdog groups allege that one out of every two members of the country’s Haratine ethnic minority group are enslaved, and that as many as 20% of the population is enslaved. The exact number of slaves within the country is unclear, and estimates range from 90,000 to 500,000. The Global Slavery Index estimates more than 140,000 people are currently enslaved in the country. Slavery in the country is most often found being enforced on farms and in homes. According to media reports, slave owners give away people as gifts, and enslaved women are regularly sexually assaulted by their owners.  In a report jointly authored report by UN Watch, the Human Rights Foundation, and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, Mauritania, Libya, and Sudan were all rated as “unqualified” for the council, and Benin was evaluated as “questionable.” Libya, Mauritania, and Sudan were criticized for their authoritarian governments, limits on freedom of the press, and for their “negative” UN voting records.  The report singled out Mauritania for its history of corruption, ethnic discrimination by government actors, slavery, human trafficking, child labor, and criminalization of homosexuality. The country’s current president, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, was elected in June of this year despite reports of irregularities in the voting process. The country’s internet was shut down to quell protests that erupted after the elections.  In addition to slavery, Mauritania is subject to a range of other human rights concerns. The United Nations estimates that over one third of Mauritanian women are married before they reach the age of 18, and female genital mutilation is commonplace. Sex outside of marriage is not legal in the country, and women who were raped can face prosecution if they report their assault to the police. A State Department official told CNA that the U.S. “hopes that ultimately only suitable candidates will be supported and confirmed for election to the Council.”  “We hope that the new members of the Council will follow through on their commitments to improving human rights conditions in their countries,” said the official.  While the election for the African slate is uncontested, a UN voting nation is not required to actually vote for a country to join the UNHRC if it does not wish to.  “Voting nations can and should refrain from electing rights abusers to the UN’s highest human rights body,” said Hillel Neuer of UN Watch.
Legal assisted suicide puts people with disabilities at risk, report finds
Washington D.C., Oct 16, 2019 / 01:24 pm (CNA).- Leaders in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops applauded the National Council on Disability for its recent research on the risks of assisted suicide for people with disabilities. “Every suicide is a human tragedy, regardless of the age, incapacity, or social/economic status of the individual,” said Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, and Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida. Naumann is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Dewane heads the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. “The legalization of doctor-assisted suicide separates people into two groups: those whose lives we want to protect and those whose deaths we encourage,” the bishops said. “This is completely unjust and seriously undermines equal protection under the law.” Last week, the National Council on Disability released findings of a national investigation into the effects of assisted suicide laws on people with disabilities. In its examination, the council said it found “that the most prevalent reasons offered by someone requesting assisted suicide are directly related to unmet service and support needs.” The agency called on lawmakers to remedy these unmet needs through changes in legislation and funding. It added that in states where assisted suicide is legal, “safeguards are ineffective and oversight of abuses and mistakes is absent.” In the U.S., assisted suicide is legal in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia, and in Montana by a court ruling. A law allowing it in Maine will take effect Jan. 1, 2020. The National Council on Disability is an independent federal agency that advises lawmakers on how policies and practices affect those with disabilities. The council’s report, entitled “The Danger of Assisted Suicide Laws,” was released Oct. 9 as part of its series on bioethics and disability. The report found that state regulations intended to prevented abuses in the practice of assisted suicide sometimes fall short. It pointed to instances of insurance companies denying costly, life-sustaining medical treatment while covering deadly drugs. In addition, doctors rarely refer for a psychological evaluation before prescribing lethal drugs, the report found, despite the fact that depression is a leading factor in requesting assisted suicide. Financial pressure may compromise patient freedom in making end-of-life choices, the report added, and misdiagnoses of terminal diseases may lead patients to end their lives under the mistaken assumption that they are close to death. Neil Romano chairman of the National Council on Disability, said in a press release that while fighting cancer, he was once given weeks to live. But today, years later, he is alive and thriving. “I know firsthand that well-intending doctors are often wrong,” he said. “If assisted suicide is legal, lives will be lost due to mistakes, abuse, lack of information, or a lack of better options; no current or proposed safeguards can change that.” “Assisted suicide laws are premised on the notion of additional choice for people at the end of their lives, however in practice, they often remove choices when the low-cost option is ending one’s life versus providing treatments to lengthen it or services and supports to improve it,” Romano stressed. The agency’s report also documented suicide contagion in states that have legalized assisted suicide and pointed to an easing of safeguards initially intended to prevent abuses. In Oregon, where assisted suicide has been legal for two decades, the report noted that the practice has been expanded to include non-terminal illnesses, such as arthritis and diabetes. The National Council on Disability opposed the legalization of assisted suicide. It called for federal investment into long-term services and supports as an alternative to assisted suicide. It also urged further research “on disability related risk factors in suicide prevention, as well as research on people with disabilities who request assisted suicide and euthanasia.” In their statement, Archbishop Naumann and Bishop Dewane urged lawmakers and medical professionals to take seriously the recommendations in the report. “The human rights and intrinsic worth of a person do not change with the onset of age, illness, or disability,” they said. “We must do what we can to uphold the dignity of life, cherish the lives of all human beings, and work to prevent all suicides.”  
Poland's ruling party accused of trying to ban sex education
Warsaw, Poland, Oct 16, 2019 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- The governing party in the Polish parliament has introduced a bill that could criminalize some forms of sex education in schools. The Law and Justice Party (PiS), which won a majority in the country’s recent elections, is supporting a “Stop Pedophilia” law in the Sejm, the lower house of the country’s parliament. The law would criminalize the “promotion of underage sexual activity” by folding it under existing treatment of other crimes against minors.  Currently, Polish schools do not offer formal sex education but, according to Reuters, are charged with providing courses aimed at helping students “prepare for family life.” How the courses are organized and administered differs between local authorities. Opposition MPs have said that the bill leaves sex education teaching open to possible penalities including up to five years in prison for potentially encouraging sexual acitivty among children. MP and Now! Party member Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus told Reuters that the bill was a “gesture towards ultra-Catholics and the Church,” and accused the government of promoting a false narrative of “culture and civilizational war” in the country. PiS legislators have insisted that such concerns are overblown. Marcin Ociepa, a PiS MP, said in a recent radio interview that the bill only prevents teachers and others from encourgaing children under 15 “to have sex or to conduct other sexual activities” and that claims that teachers could go to prison were “overinterpetations.”  Bishop Ignacy Dec of Swidnica was recently quoted in a Polish newspaper expressing concern about sex education programs.  “It is worrying that some local authorities are introducing to pre-schools and schools sexualisation programs recommended by the World Health Organization, which just harm children and youths,” he said. The law is due for introduction in the Sejm on Oct. 16 and expected to be considered by the country’s Senate as early as Friday. The legislation is part of a broader popular effort to remove sex education. More than 200,000 people participated in Marches for Life and Family in 130 cities across Poland in June, in protest of sex education in schools. The Catholic Church in Poland supported the marches, and the Polish Bishops’ Conference thanked the faithful for participating in the marches at their plenary meeting in June. According to the conference press office, the bishops “warned against the promotion of ideologies inimical to natural law and Christian values and against the attempts at introducing such ideologies to schools under the guise of sexual education.” In August, the leader of PiS, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, praised the Archbishop of Krakow for speaking out against attempts to redefine marriage and impose gender ideology in Poland. Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski, in an August 1 homily on the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, said that “our land is no longer affected by the red plague” of Communism but that a new “rainbow plague” threatens “to control our souls, hearts and minds.” Earlier this month, Jędraszewski compared the rise of LGBT identitarian politics to Poland’s former communist regime, calling it  “the next great threat to our freedom,” and “of a totalitarian nature.” He said that the movement, like that of communism, stems from a “radical rejection of God.” “As a consequence of this rejection, a new vision of man is being proclaimed in which he becomes a caricature of himself,” said the archbishop.  In June, the Congregation for Catholic Education issued a document titled “Male and Female he Created Them” which discussed the rise of LGBT and gender ideology, saying that they presented “a cultural and ideological revolution driven by relativism” and promoted “the possibility of the individual determining his or her own sexual tendencies without having to take account of the reciprocity and complementarity of male-female relationships, nor of the procreative end of sexuality.” With regards to school programs on sex and sexuality, the Congregation said that the relationship between parents and school “has entered into crisis.” “The school must respect the family’s culture. It must listen carefully to the needs that it finds and the expectations that are directed towards it.”
This princess saint was not Harry Potter’s owl: St. Hedwig of Silesia
Wrocław, Poland, Oct 16, 2019 / 11:20 am (CNA).- Readers who find this story through a search engine probably were looking for information about Hedwig, Harry Potter’s snowy owl. St. Hedwig of Silesia was not an owl. But read on anyway: she was a princess, a wife, a mother, and a builder of bridges between the German and Polish people. And her husband’s name was “Henry the Bearded.” St. Hedwig, whose feast is Oct. 16, lived in the 13th century and received a good education in her youth at a convent in Bavaria. She is recorded to have said that knowledge plus holiness of life leads to greater glory for souls in heaven. Hedwig “became known as a helper of poor people and after her canonization, she became a beloved patron saint of the same groups of people,” Bishop Andrzej Siemieniewski, auxiliary bishop of Wroclaw, told CNA. She came from a holy family: Hedwig’s sister Gertrude was the mother of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. While still a girl, Hedwig moved to the lower part of Poland, the region called Silesia, to marry Duke Henry I the Bearded. Together they had seven children, only two of whom lived to maturity. St. Hedwig loved the Eucharist, prayer, and reading and meditating on scripture. In her own household she had scripture read aloud during meal times. Despite her wealth as a duchess, she practiced serious asceticism: she fasted, ate plain food, and lived with few personal possessions. After her children were grown, Hedwig devoted herself to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, especially helping the poor, sick, hungry, widows, orphans, and expectant mothers. Unlike other princesses of the time, Hedwig helped people with her own hand, and not through her servants. She also gave shelter to sick and disabled people in her castle. A biographer of Hedwig wrote that the poor followed her everywhere she went, as if she was their mother. She would also visit and bring food and other items to the imprisoned and send money to people who could not repay their debts. She used her position as a duchess to defend and intervene on behalf of prisoners and people sentenced to death so that they would receive lighter sentences or be freed. St. Hedwig was responsible for bringing the Cistercian Order to Silesia. She had a monastery and several churches, including the first, built in the region. One of these churches, in modern-day Trzebnica, where she is buried, is now a shrine to the saint, who was canonized in 1267. The shrine is a popular place of pilgrimage for people from all over the world. The monastery connected to this church is still active and is considered to be the largest existing 13th-century building in Central Europe. Hedwig lived in that monastery near the end of her life, and though she did not take religious vows, lived in community with the religious sisters there. Tradition at the monastery says that she would pray a lot, to the point of sometimes locking herself in the chapel overnight. The saint also had a strong love of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and would carry a statue of Our Lady around with her, using it to bless the sick, some of whom it is said were afterward healed. She was buried with this statue, and tradition says when her tomb was opened years later, the fingers gripping it were not decomposed. Images and statues of St. Hedwig usually depict her holding a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, feeding the poor, or holding a church. St. Hedwig, as a Bavarian, became a symbol of “Catholic and Christian living” in the region, and how Germans and Polish could could live together as members of one Church, Bishop Siemieniewski said. In Wroclaw, Poland, there is an important statue of St. Hedwig next to a monumental bridge. This symbolizes, he said, the bridge she formed between the neighboring nations of Germany and Poland. She is also beloved by Czech people. “St. Hedwig is considered a mother to the Silesian people, and Silesia meant, in older times, ‘home for many nations,’” he explained.