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December 4, 2009

The Catholic News & Herald 1

Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte

Perspectives Too much Mary?; Oh, Christmas!; Catholic in practice, not just in name

Established Jan. 12, 1972 by Pope Paul VI December 4, 2009

Sharing in divine life

| Pages 14-15 Serving Catholics in Western North Carolina in the Diocese of Charlotte

Holy Trinity Middle School celebrates International Week

JANNEKE PIETERS correspondent

See BODY, page 7

no. 5

Many parts, one student body

Theology of the Body

ASHEVILLE — “A common perception about Theology of the Body,” said Bill Donaghy, speaker at a Nov. 21 workshop at the Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville, “is that it’s only about the sexual act and marriage. Ultimately, it’s about the union of the soul with God. It’s not just a part of Church teaching: it is the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Donaghy, a speaker from the Theology of the Body Institute (www.tobinstitute. o rg ) , l e d m o r e t h a n 7 0 attendees through a day of reflection on the late Pope John Paul II’s teaching. Father Wilbur Thomas, rector and pastor of the basilica, opened the day by praying that attendees would know “how to share with others the truth of who we are in You.” The workshop’s eight sessions discussed man and woman before and after original sin disfigured them, the vocation of all persons for communion with God in heaven, the call to celibacy, the sacrament of marriage, and how various sexual behaviors are contrary to God’s creative love. Donaghy, who is mentored by Theology of the Body expert Christopher West, compared the original beauty of God’s creation of man and woman to an artistic masterpiece. Original sin then crumpled and distorted the masterpiece. Pope John Paul II sought to


SUEANN HOWELL Special to the Catholic News & Herald

photos by sueann howell

Father Robert Conway (far left), chaplain for Holy Trinity Middle School and Charlotte Catholic High School, prepares the gifts during the International Thanksgiving Mass Nov. 23. Brenda Giraldo (upper right) performs a Colombian dance for the student assembly. Sixth-grade students at Holy Trinity (bottom right) present their “Spain Fun Facts” project during International Week.

CHARLOTTE — Holy Trinity Middle School is a diverse school. According to principal Kevin Parks, who shared a demographic chart with those gathered for a middle-school assembly during International Week Nov. 16-24, there are 50 different nationalities among the students, teachers and staff. International Week is organized by the language arts department at Holy Trinity to help give the students an appreciation for cultures around the world and to explore their multicultural heritage. “There are a little over See INTERNATIONAL, page 5

Hooping it up for charity First annual tournament a success SUEANN HOWELL Special to the Catholic News & Herald CHARLOTTE — Jim Brennan had a passion for sports. He played softball on the St. Gabriel Church team. He coached his sons’ soccer and basketball teams. He loved hiking, snow skiing, water

skiing and biking. In Oct. 2008, at just 50 years of age, Jim lost his battle with cancer. His memory and love for sports lives on, however, in the Jim Brennan Memorial Basketball Tournament held recently at three Catholic schools in the diocese of Charlotte. See TOURNAMENT, page 9

photo by sueann howell

Players and coaches from St. Gabriel School and St. Matthew School fifth-grade basketball teams gather at center court for a pre-game prayer at the Jim Brennan Memorial Basketball Tournament at St. Gabriel School Nov. 21.

Culture Watch

Around the diocese

In our schools

Brubeck’s sacred music; Handbell choir inspires; Word to life

Patriotic prizewinners; A spiritual pilgrimage; Credit where it’s due

Honoring veteran parents; Warm hearts, helping hands; Blessing the holiday feast

| Pages 10-11

| Page 4

| Page 12

December 4, 2009

2 The Catholic News & Herald


Current and upcoming topics from around the world to your own backyard

Bishops vote yes on two-year set of priorities and plans BALTIMORE (CNS) — The U.S. bishops Nov. 17 approved two items regarding their priorities and plans for the next two years during their fall general meeting in Baltimore. One was a priority plan titled “Deepen Faith, Nurture Hope, Celebrate Life,” which outlines goals and objectives for five priority areas of the U.S. church. The vote was 232-2, with one abstention. The other was a more than 330page set of “strategy and operational plans” for commissions, offices and departments of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. This passed 223-2, with five abstentions. Both votes needed a majority of bishops present and voting for approval. The five priority areas of church life identified by the bishops are: faith formation and sacramental practice; cultural diversity in the church; strengthening marriage; promoting vocations to the priesthood and

Diocesan planner cns photo by alessia pierdomenico, reuters

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the congregation while holding his new pastoral staff in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican to mark the beginning of Advent Nov. 28. The new staff is a gift from a Rome-based Catholic fraternal organization; it is 6 feet tall and weighs 5.5 pounds.

Keep track of your blessings during Advent, pope suggests VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Advent should be a time when Christians keep track of the little blessings they receive each day, blessings that are signs of God’s love, Pope Benedict XVI suggested. “To keep a kind of ‘inner diary’ of this love would be a beautiful and healthy task,” the pope said Nov. 28 as he celebrated evening prayer to mark the beginning of Advent. God enters the life of each and every person, Pope Benedict said. But in daily life, most people seem “to have little time for the Lord and little time even for ourselves. One ends up being absorbed in doing things,” he said. Taking a little time each day to recognize signs of God’s love reminds people that “God is here; he has not withdrawn from the world; he has not left us alone,” the pope said. Pope Benedict said that if people live each day with their eyes open to the signs of God’s presence, they will be filled with joy as they await the final coming of the Lord. The pope spoke about waiting and about Advent hope during his noon Angelus address Nov. 29. “The contemporary world needs hope above all; people living in

developing countries need it, but those in economically advanced countries do, too,” he said. “Seeing so many false certainties fail, we become aware that we need a hope we can trust in and that is found only in Christ,” the pope said. “Anyone yearning for freedom, for justice and for peace can stand tall and raise his head, because in Christ freedom is near.” During the evening prayer service Nov. 28, the pope used his new pastoral staff, replacing a similar one that had been used by Pope Pius IX. The new staff with a cross on top is a gift from a Rome-based Catholic fraternal organization; it is 6 feet tall and weighs 5.5 pounds. The paschal lamb, a symbol of the risen Christ, is in the center of the front of the cross and the four Gospel writers — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — are represented on its four points. The Chi Rho — the X and the P from the first letters of Christ’s name in Greek — are in the center of the back of the cross and the four points feature doctors of the church from the West and the East: Sts. Augustine and Ambrose and Sts. Athanasius and John Chrysostom. A ring around the base of the cross is inscribed with Pope Benedict’s name.

For more events taking place in the Diocese of Charlotte, visit www.charlottediocese. org/calendarofevents-cn. CHARLOTTE VICARIATE CHARLOTTE — “Annunciations” – A Guided Ignatian Advent Retreat will be offered by St. Peter Church, 507 S. Tryon St., with the opening session on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon in Biss Hall (under the church) and the closing session on Saturday, Dec. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon. Parking is free in The Green parking garage next door to the church. If you wish to register for the two-week guided retreat, please contact Father Vince at (704) 332-2901 to be paired with a guide. If you simply wish to attend one or both Saturday sessions, please email CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Catholic Women’s Group is having its annual Christmas Coffee & Reflection on Monday, Dec. 7th at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 6828 Old Reid Rd. Mass begins at 9 a.m. followed by coffee, refreshments and fellowship at 10 a.m. Father Timothy Reid, Pastor of St. Ann Church, will be our speaker. Reconciliation will be available. The mission of the Charlotte Catholic Women’s Group is to foster in women a greater desire to know, love and

consecrated life; and the life and dignity of the human person. The document outlines objectives on how to reach each goal, plus a larger number of activities to meet the objectives, such as evangelization tools, catechesis, ministry training, advocacy efforts, and preparation of various materials for Web site use and parish bulletins. It identifies coordinators in different departments of the bishops’ conference, as well as bishops’ committees to serve as collaborators. Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Priorities and Plans and secretary of the USCCB, said the bishops’ conference had been “engaged in the most extensive planning process it has ever engaged in.” He cited 2009 as the last of a three-year implementation process of a strategic plan that also restructured the conference’s committees, offices and staff. serve Jesus Christ and His Church. If you have any questions, please contact Molly Beckert at (704) 243-3252 or CHARLOTTE — A National Night of Prayer for Life uniting the Feast of The Immaculate Conception with the Feast of St. Juan Diego will be held at St. Ann Church, 3635 Park Rd., Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 8 p.m. to midnight. This pro-life prayer service will consist of Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, along with a Holy Hour of Reparation from 11 p.m. to midnight. For more information, contact Danielle Mathis at CHARLOTTE — A National Night of Prayer for Life for an end to abortion will be held at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick, 1621 Dilworth Rd. East, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Tuesday, Dec. 8, beginning with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 9 p.m. Following Exposition, the Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the mysteries of the rosary will be prayed. Benediction will take place at 1 a.m. Please join your brothers and sisters in Christ united in prayer throughout our country, for all or part of this beautiful, prayerful evening of reparation. For more information, call (704) 334-2283. CHARLOTTE — St. Matthew Church will host a St. Peregrine Healing Prayer Service on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. in the church at 8015 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy. All those suffering from cancer and other serious diseases are invited to join us for this solemn prayer service and blessing with a relic of St. Peregrine. For more information, call Pat White at (704) 543-7677. CHARLOTTE — Opus Dei Recollections will be offered for men and women at St. Matthew Church by a priest of Opus Dei on Dec. 11

December 4, 2009 Volume 19 • Number 5

Publisher: Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis Interim Editor: Heather Bellemore Graphic DESIGNER: Tim Faragher Advertising MANAGER: Cindi Feerick Secretary: Deborah Hiles 1123 South Church St., Charlotte, NC 28203 Mail: P.O. Box 37267, Charlotte, NC 28237 Phone: (704) 370-3333 FAX: (704) 370-3382 E-MAIL:

The Catholic News & Herald, USPC 007-393, is published by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, 1123 South Church St., Charlotte, NC 28203, 44 times a year, weekly except for Christmas week and Easter week and every two weeks during June, July and August for $15 per year for enrollees in parishes of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte and $23 per year for all other subscribers. The Catholic News & Herald reserves the right to reject or cancel advertising for any reason deemed appropriate. We do not recommend or guarantee any product, service or benefit claimed by our advertisers. Second-class postage paid at Charlotte NC and other cities. POSTMASTER: Send address corrections to The Catholic News & Herald, P.O. Box 37267, Charlotte, NC 28237.

December 4, 2009

The Catholic News & Herald 3


Pope speaks in battle against AIDS

Pledges church’s continued fight for millions VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI pledged the church’s continued fight against AIDS through prayer and assistance to millions of people suffering from the disease. The pope, speaking two days before World AIDS Day Dec. 1, said his thoughts and prayers were with “every person stricken by this disease, especially children, the very poor and those who are rejected.” “The church continues to do its best to combat AIDS, through its institutions and the personnel dedicated to this problem,” the pope said at his noon blessing. “I urge everyone to make their own contribution through prayer and

concrete attention so that those affected by the HIV virus may feel the presence of the Lord who gives comfort and hope,” he said. He expressed his hope that by “multiplying and coordinating efforts,” the disease can one day be stopped. The pope, on a trip to Africa last March, prompted international reaction when he said he thought the distribution of condoms made the problem of AIDS worse, and that the disease was best curbed by educating people in morally responsible sexual behavior. Church officials have pointed out that Catholic health institutions care for an estimated 25 percent of AIDS patients around the world.

(Men’s Recollection) and Dec. 12 (Women’s Recollection). The Men’s Recollection will start with confession starting at 6:30 p.m., and the program from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Women’s Recollection begins at 9:30 a.m. with confession, and then the program from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., which includes Holy Mass at 12 p.m. For more information, call Joe Ignacio (men’s program) or Remy Ignacio (women’s program) at (704)752-7155.

Reconciliation will be available beforehand starting at 2 p.m. For more information, call (704) 948-1678.

CHARLOTTE — The Abbey Choir from Sussex, England will be performing a Christmas Program, Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. at St. Gabriel Church, 3016 Providence Road. This amazing choir of 40 students has previously toured in Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Poland and Ireland. This is their first visit to the United States. The program is free. For more information, call the church office at (704) 364-5431. CHARLOTTE — St. Gabriel Church will present “The Journey – A Walk to Bethlehem”, a glorious festival of lessons and carols, on Friday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. at the church located at 3016 Providence Road. This free program will feature beautiful live scenes, traditional Christmas music and the extraordinary unfolding of the Christmas story narrated by Ty Boyd. The church is located at 3016 Providence Road, Charlotte. For more information, call (704) 364-5431. CHARLOTTE — Father Rick DeClue will lead an Advent Retreat for Women on Saturday, Dec. 19 at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 6828 Old Reid Road. It will begin with Mass at 9:00 a.m., followed by talks in the Activity Center on the theme, “The Word Became Flesh and Made His Dwelling Among Us.” For more information and to register, call Peggy Pohlheber at (704) 588-7311.


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Students at Catholic universities should pursue a deep knowledge of theology but be open to other areas of study so that they are better prepared to further the mission of the church in the world, Pope Benedict XVI said. Speaking Nov. 19 to students and professors from the pontifical universities of Rome and representatives from Catholic universities around the world, the pope said that such institutions of higher learning “play an irreplaceable role in the church and in society.” Pope Benedict said that Catholic education was an important form of evangelization. Such universities are essential in helping to bridge the gaps among faith, culture and science, he said. He reminded the audience that the Declaration on Catholic Education (“Gravissimum Educationis”), a document from the Second Vatican Council, promoted the creation of highlevel universities “to form people well versed in knowledge, ready to give

witness of their faith in the world and to assume roles of responsibility in society.” Deeper knowledge of the revealed truth must be the focal point of teaching and research, he said, but at the same time, “contacts with other fields of knowledge should be encouraged for a fruitful dialogue and above all to offer a precious contribution to the mission that the church carries out in the world.” The pope said that there were more than 1,700 Catholic universities and colleges spread across the globe, “giving testimony to the attention given by the particular churches for the formation of clergy and laity in the areas of culture and research.” The enthusiastic audience, which included several bishops and some cardinals, was gathered in the Vatican audience hall to hear the pope bless the new academic year and the work of the 23rd General Assembly of the International Federation of Catholic Universities.

GREENSBORO VICARIATE GREENSBORO — St. Paul The Apostle Church invites you to attend Coping With Cancer: Strategies for Growth and Healing, a presentation by Father John Allen, which will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at the Wesley Long Hospital Education Center in Classroom #2 at 5:30 p.m. All who are affected by a cancer diagnosis and need a strategy for personal growth and healing are invited to come hear his story as a fellow cancer survivor. For more information and to RSVP, call Terry Moore-Painter, chaplain, at the Moses Cone Regional Cancer Center at (336) 832-0364. GREENSBORO — The Men’s Early Morning Bible Study Group will discuss the Catholic Epistles through December. Join us for sharing, prayer and Bible study every Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. in the parish library, St. Paul the Apostle Church, 2715 Horse Pen Creek Road, Greensboro. For more information contact the church office at (336) 294-4696 or email

Is your parish or school sponsoring a free event open to the general public? Deadline for all submissions for the Diocesan Planner is 10 days prior to desired publication date. Submit in writing to catholicnews@charlottediocese. org or fax to (704) 370-3382.

CHARLOTTE — A Polish Mass will be celebrated on Sunday, Dec. 20 at 3 p.m. at St. Matthew Church. The sacrament of


Catholic students need theology, other subjects, for evangelization

Bishop Peter J. Jugis will participate in the following event:

December 5 – 10:00 a.m. Dedication of St. Ann Catholic Church Charlotte

December 10 – 10:00 a.m. Diocesan Foundation Board Meeting Catholic Conference Center, Hickory

December 9 – 7:00 p.m. Dedication of New Altar St. Barnabas Catholic Church, Arden

December 12 – 11:00 a.m. Institution to Ministry of Acolyte for Deacon Candidates Cathedral of St. Patrick, Charlotte

cns photo by debbie hill

A nun weeps at the beatification Mass of Blessed Mother Marie-Alphonsine Ghattas in the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel, Nov. 22. Mother Marie-Alphonsine, founder of the Dominican Sisters of the Holy Rosary of Jerusalem, was beatified by Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal during a Mass in the presence of more than 3,000 people.

Beatified nun from Holy Land NAZARETH, Israel (CNS) — A newly beatified nun from the Holy Land could serve as an inspiration for Christians who remain there, said the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem. T h e N o v. 2 2 b e a t i f i c a t i o n “breathes upon us a new spirit, renews our church and invites us to the happy hope that we ourselves, too, can be saints like her,” said Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal, referring to Blessed Soultaneh Maria Ghattas, founder of the Dominican Sisters of the Holy Rosary of Jerusalem. Patriarch Twal beatified Mother Marie-Alphonsine, as she is known, during a Mass for more than 3,000 people, who began filing into Nazareth’s Basilica of the Annunciation almost

two hours before the ceremony began. The Rosary Sisters sat along with other dignitaries, including Helen Zananiri, whose prayer paved the way for Mother Marie-Alphonsine’s beatification. Zananiri had prayed for the protection of her daughter following a premonition just hours before a group of girls fell into a collapsed outdoor septic tank six years ago. All of the girls, including Natalie Zananiri, who was under the toxic water for at least five minutes according to testimony given in the beatification process, were pulled out unharmed. “This is a very big event for us, for Christian Palestinians in this land,” said Helen Zananiri.

4 The Catholic News & Herald


December 4, 2009

A 1940s-style tribute Credit where it’s due

courtesy photo

Holy Angels in Belmont celebrates the announcement that its programs and facilities have received a three-year accreditation by CARF International (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitative Facilities) during an Oct. 29 employee celebration. The survey team commended Holy Angels for collaborative community partnerships and a positive reputation in the community. This accreditation decision represents the highest level that can be awarded to an organization. Holy Angels was founded in 1956 by the Sisters of Mercy. The private, nonprofit corporation provides residential services and innovative courtesy photo

St. Michael of Gastonia Youth Group hosts a dinner and 1940s-style USO show for veterans and their families Nov. 8. Veterans and their families were admitted free; others were asked for a $5 donation to help the youth group raise funds to travel to Washington, D.C., for the March for Life.  A video tribute honored parish veterans.  Emmett Ostendorf, the evening’s “Bob Hope,” introduced a variety of acts, which included tap dancing, the “Andrews

programs for children and adults with varying degrees of mental retardation and physical disabilities, some of whom are medically fragile.

Patriotic prizewinners

sisters” and a skit called “How I Hate to Get up in the Morning.” For the finale, members of the youth group and their families, who cooked and served, sang “God Bless America.” The 150 guests danced to music from the 1940s.

A spiritual pilgrimage

courtesy photo

Winners of the annual essay contest sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council 7184 in Hendersonville receive their medals and cash awards at Immaculata School there on Nov. 18. The contest – at Immaculata and also St. Dominic Savio home school – has been sponsored by the council since 2002. It challenges students in grades six through eight to write on a patriotic theme chosen jointly by the Knights and school staff. This year’s courtesy photo

theme was “What does saying the Pledge of Allegiance reveal about my life as a citizen

Parishioners from St. Dorothy Church in Lincolnton visit EWTN studios in Irondale,

of the United States?” Front row (left to right): Taylor Singleton, Eric Congdon, Reid

Alabama, during a spiritual pilgrimage Nov. 9. They were led by their pastor, Father

Motter, Madison Gold and A.J. O’Leary. Back row: Knight Roger Mehrtens, Reece Kelsch,

Matthew Buettner, on the three-day pilgrimage, which included a visit to the Shrine of the

Hannah Krowka, Grand Knight Ed Suarez, Kate Barham, reitred military chaplain of the

Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Ala., home of Mother Angelica. The St. Dorothy’s

Archdiocese of Philadelphia Father Richard Benonis, teacher Nancy Falzone and Knight

youth group is planning a similar pilgrimage with Father Buettner early next summer.

Sam Altomere. (Knight Randy Hair is hidden.)

December 4, 2009

The Catholic News & Herald 5

from the cover

50 nationalities, one school INTERNATIONAL, from page 1

1,000 people on our campus every day. We are all from different ethnic backgrounds, but as Catholics, as Christians, we make up one universal church…the one body of Christ,” said Parks. An International Mass of Thanksgiving, which the students helped organize, was celebrated by Father Robert Conway, chaplain for Holy Trinity Middle School and Charlotte Catholic High School, Nov. 23. Music was provided by the Holy Trinity choir, students and staff. Students involved in outreach ministries at Holy Trinity created eight homemade cornucopias, which were laid by the altar during the Mass to represent each ministry and signify the students’ desire to help others and to give thanks for God’s blessings. “Just think how thankful each and every one of those people is who will benefit from those ministries,” said Father Conway during his homily. In keeping with the theme of thanksgiving and being grateful, the Gospel of Luke was selected for the Mass. It tells the story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers and only one, a Samaritan, returns to thank him. Jesus tells the Samaritan, “Get up and go. Your faith has saved you.” Father Conway reminded those present, “Today is a very special day. We are celebrating Thanksgiving. And

in the Gospel that I just proclaimed… the Samaritan came back and said ‘thank you.’ Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? Our faith is a true gift from God. We have so much to be thankful for.” He then asked the students what they were thankful for. “A home,” said one student. “A loving family,” said another. “That’s very important, said Father Conway. “A family is a gift that only God can give. And we want to thank God that we have a family. But you know, our faith gives us so much to be thankful for…God’s kingdom gives us truth, gives us life, gives us grace, gives us peace and justice and love. Just think about that. If we practiced all those things in our life, just think how much better our world would be.” He encouraged the students by saying, “Don’t be afraid to say ‘thank you.’ Don’t be so in a hurry that you can’t say those two special words.” Following the homily, the Prayers of the Faithful were read by six students in their native tongues: French, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Arabic and German. The Our Father was then prayed in French by the sixth grade French students and then repeated in English by all those present. After Mass, in his closing remarks to the students, principal Parks said, “I want to tell you what I am thankful for. This past week I asked you a very simple thing, to bring in some canned food…. You all turned around and were more than generous, and you reminded me why I am so thankful and I am so lucky to be around you. You all did a wonderful

photo by sueann howell

Altar servers pause for prayer during the International Thanksgiving Mass celebrated at Holy Trinity Middle School Nov. 23. thing.” A cultural dance presentation was another highlight of the fourth annual International Week. It was organized by Jennifer Cabrera and Maritza Ortiz, Spanish teachers at Holy Trinity, and featured presenter/dancer Brenda Giraldo. She shared a slide presentation on Spanish, Native American and African influences on dance in the Americas, highlighting its evolution and spread to the United States. She dressed in authentic garments, performed dances from Mexico and Colombia (her family’s native country) and asked the students and those present to join her in the merengue to illustrate the beauty and collectivity of dance forms passed on by our ancestors. Students in the Spanish, French, German and all Social Studies classes made decorative flags, posters and projects featuring many countries’ attributes and contributions to art, music, food, industry and culture.

“The students were very excited about the opportunity to share not only their ethnic backgrounds with other students, but they were also thrilled to explore various other backgrounds throughout the week,” said Spanish teacher Jennifer Cabrera. Each day during International Week, morning prayers were read in a different language such as French, German, Spanish, Korean and Arabic. Students also enjoyed homeroom trivia and ethnic foods — Asian, Mexican and Italian — in the cafeteria. Principal Parks concluded the week’s events by saying, “When you collectively put your mind to something, like this past week, International Week, it’s good to learn about different nations, different peoples. But really the focus is on how we treat each other… . You all do treat people pretty well. Keep treating people nicely. We’re all different but we are all made in God’s image. Keep that in your mind.”

Retirement Fund for Religious “I invite everyone to thank the Lord for the precious gift of these brothers and sisters.” Pope Benedict XVI

Your tax-deductible gift supports the day-to-day care of thousands of elderly women and men religious.

Please Share in the Care Ninety-five percent of donations to the National Religious Retirement Office aid elderly religious.

To donate: National Religious Retirement Office/CHA 3211 Fourth Street NE Washington DC 20017-1194 Make your check payable to Retirement Fund for Religious

Or give at your local parish December 12–13.

©2009 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington DC. All rights reserved. Photographer: Jim Judkis. Photos (top row, from left): Sr. Laurene Toeppe, OSF, 81; Sr. Gertrude Martin, OSBM, 87; Fr. Leonard Blostic, TOR, 75; Sr. Ann Fedyszak, OSBM, 73, Fr. Fabian Sheganoski, TOR, 71; Sr. Elizabeth Jane Tepley, OSBM, 70; (bottom row, from left): Fr. Christopher Panagoplos, TOR, 60; Fr. Mark Reifel, TOR, 81; Sr. Rita Brunner, FSE, 95; Sr. Patricia Ann Froning, OSF, 73. Papal quotation taken from remarks made following the Angelus in Saint Peter’s Square, February 1, 2009.

6 The Catholic News & Herald

In THe News

Diocese of Charlotte Pastoral Center The Chancery December 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Parishes throughout the Diocese of Charlotte will conduct the 22nd annual collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious on the weekend of December 13. This is our opportunity to “Share in the Care” for the many women and men religious who have dedicated their lives to the service of others in the Church and world. Last year the Diocese of Charlotte contributed nearly $250,000 to this collection, which is conducted by the National Religious Retirement Office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. The 2008 national appeal enabled the Religious Retirement Office to distribute over $23 million to 483 religious institutes. Those funds supplemented the day-to-day care of elder religious and helped implement long-range retirement strategies. Funds from the collection have helped ensure quality of life and adequate health care for thousands of women and men religious formerly at risk. More than 35,000 Catholic religious are now past age 70. Over 5,500 women and men require skilled nursing care, where the average cost in the U.S. averages more than $55,200 annually. One out of every five religious institutes still has less than 20 percent of the amount needed to care for elderly members. Almost without exception, our elderly and infirm religious offer moving examples of aging with grace, dignity, and faith. Most elderly religious even continue volunteer ministry long after they retire from compensated ministry. Historically, older religious worked for years for small stipends, with surplus income reinvested in their ministries, such as schools, hospitals and social service agencies. Retirement was not a priority in the past when there were enough younger members to care for older ones. That is no longer the case. On the weekend of December 13, Catholics throughout the Diocese of Charlotte will have an opportunity to “Share in the Care” of our retired religious. The Collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious will be taken at all of the Masses on that second weekend in December. I encourage everyone to acknowledge the treasure that our elderly religious represent and respond generously to their retirement needs. Grateful for your prayers and generosity toward the retired religious throughout the United States, I am Sincerely yours in Christ,

Very Rev. Mauricio W. West Vicar General and Chancellor

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December 4, 2009

Survey reveals priests’ concerns

Retirement, health care, long-term care insurance B O N I TA S P R I N G S , F L — Many priests seem to have an overall lack of awareness about retirement issues, according to a comprehensive nationwide survey commissioned by the Laity in Support of Retired Priests (LSRP), a Southwest Florida non-profit organization. While most diocesan priests are satisfied with the health care benefits provided by their dioceses, they express concerns similar to aging Americans in other walks of life about long-term care issues and whether their meager savings will keep them from becoming a burden to others. The study, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, explored many issues surrounding retirement among diocesan priests, including understanding of diocesan retirement policies, attitudes and interest in continued ministry after retirement, housing during retirement, preparation for retirement, and communication and representation between retired priests and the rest of the diocese. Common issues for retiring diocesan priests that were identified in the study range from portability of retirement benefits, insufficiency of other funds for retirement, long-term care, retirement housing, continued service after retirement, representation within the presbyterate, preparation for retirement, personal spirituality, and interest in an association of retired priests. “Now that this CARA study provides a national perspective on these issues, it’s vital for us to advocate for support for diocesan priests in all levels of priestly life; active, retired and semi-retired,” stated LSRP President Thomas Hoban. “Just like the lay people they serve so faithfully, diocesan priests want to look forward to retirement. However, unless priests are supported fiscally, emotionally, physically and intellectually, that wish won’t come true. The LSRP is grateful to CARA for presenting accurate statistics that will propel us forward in the mission to support our diocesan priests in the future.” A significant number of adult Catholics in the U.S. are not aware of the related funding issues, according to a 2004 CARA Catholic Poll of a national random sample of Catholics.

Retirement for diocesan priests in not mandated under Church law; Canon Law 538§3 states: “When a pastor has completed 75 years of age, he is requested to submit resignation from office to the diocesan bishop who is to decide to accept or defer it after he has considered all the circumstances of the person and place.” With more than 64 million parishidentified U.S. Catholics, the parishionerto-priest ratio is now about 3,500 to one, compared to about 1,500 to one in 1970. The magnitude of this group of retired and retiring priests will impact every diocese nationally in the next few years. Few are cognizant of that fact that diocesan priests do not take the vow of poverty, and must provide for their own in retirement. “My greatest fear is to have no one to care for me in my old age or in bad health,” wrote one survey respondent. “All of my family is deceased and my priest friends will be very limited to help me if needed. Diocesan priests are not like the religious who live within the community, but they still need regular contact and support.” The CARA study surveyed a national stratified random sample of 3,500 active and 1,500 retired diocesan priests. The return rate was about 20%, a sufficient number of responses to ensure statistical significance in the overall analysis as well as comparisons between active and retired priests. The respondents included 64% in active ministry, 30% retired from active ministry, and 7% in semi-retirement. The Laity in Support of Retired Priests, Inc., or LSRP, is comprised of mostly retired lay business and professional leaders as well as active and retired priests and bishops formed to address the apparent need to organize retired priests to speak with a cohesive voice. The mission of the LSRP is to support diocesan priests in their retirement, in gratitude for their years of service to the Church. The organization seeks to enhance the ability of retired priests to continue in health and vitality to serve the Church, her people and the broader community – a commitment to which priests have dedicated their lives in creative and meaningful ministry.

December 4, 2009

From the Cover

The Catholic News & Herald 7

Theology of the Body is for every-body BODY, from page 1

uncrumple it through a series of 29 talks given from 1979 to 1984, writings that today are known as the “Theology of the Body.” Today’s culture remains fixated on the crumpled version in its obsession with sex and pleasure, Donaghy said. God’s original plan is that we share His divine life in and through our bodies. Through sharing in Christ’s redemptive sacrifice on the Cross, our souls as well as our bodies can experience redemption from the crumpled version, he said. Donaghy asked attendees about their earliest images of God. Some responded that God might look like a grandfather with a white beard, like Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings. In Genesis, a different picture of

God emerges. God created man as male and female — in the divine image — for a definite reason. “The human family is meant to be an icon of the Trinity here on earth,” Donaghy said. “God is not a solitude; God is a family.” Through sexual complementarity, man and woman are designed to unite in love and bring forth a third unique person, just as the Father and Son unite in love and the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, proceeds from Them. This is by way of analogy, because ultimately God is beyond our understanding, Donaghy said. “One need only look at what is most attacked in the world to realize what is most sacred,” he said, mentioning women, children, and the family. “Sexual complementarity brings life,” while the culture tries to minimize or eliminate this difference, he said. The result is a culture of death. Newlyweds Erin and Lane Hill from

photo by janneke pieters

Kim Perry, Margaret Wasaff, and Katie Wilson, members of the young adult group of the Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville, pause to smile during a break in the Theology of the Body presentation at the basilica Nov. 21.

photo by janneke pieters

Tom Troop, parishioner of the Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville, chats with speaker Bill Donaghy during a break in the Theology of the Body presentation at the basilica Nov. 21. St. Mary’s parish in Greenville, S.C., attended the presentation. “Theology of the body is new every time. It changes everything — how you view yourself, your husband, and everyone,” Erin said. During lunch, Tracy Winsor of Elizabeth’s Ministry, which helps women with poor prenatal diagnoses, spoke to the group. Attendees came from as far away as Atlanta as well as parishes throughout the diocese. In the afternoon, Donaghy discussed how theology of the body relates to vocation. Single and celibate persons are called to fruitful self-giving to others, including “deep communion with other persons.” Chaste celibacy is not just about “not having sex.” He emphasized that celibacy is an exclusive choice “to skip the appetizer for the main meal. Celibacy is needed because it’s a signpost pointing to the heavenly marriage,” or the deep union with God for which everyone yearns. Donaghy said it was no accident the mystics and saints spent their lives contemplating the Song of Songs, a book of intimate love poetry between God and the soul. Marriage is an earthly symbol of this heavenly reality. Citing Ephesians 5,

he said the husband, symbolizing Christ, should love his wife by dying to himself as Christ did, while the wife, symbolizing the Church, should allow her husband to love her this way. “When you look at it this way,” Donaghy said to laughter, “who gets the better end of the deal?” In the sexual embrace, married couples ought to ask themselves: “is this an expression of God’s free, total, faithful and fruitful love?” He said adultery, masturbation, pornography, contraception and homosexual sex each lack at least one of these four characteristics. Spouses who contracept distort the language of their bodies. Instead of unconditional self-giving love, their bodies say, “I will give you everything except my fertility” and my motherhood or fatherhood, Donaghy said. “Children are not carbon footprints. Children are the crown of marriage.” Donaghy also presented an evening workshop to approximately 40 teenagers from parishes around the diocese. “It takes real fortitude, creativity, and trust in God to face a large roomful of teens and talk to them about God’s plan for sex,” said Pat Glass, coordinator of the event and parishioner at the basilica. Willem Tax, a high school youth group member at the basilica, said Donaghy was “very accessible” and encouraged them “to take time to disconnect from our busy lives” to listen and pray to God. Throughout the day, Donaghy spoke about the Eucharist. He emphasized how Christ says through the priest, “this is my Body, which will be given up for you.” In Communion, each believer unites with Jesus’s body and blood in a “nuptial embrace,” becoming like Mary, who said, “Let it be done unto me according to your word.” Theology of the body is “for everybody.” Quoting C.S. Lewis, Donaghy said: “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” Catholics and others often try to “skip over” the body in order to focus on God, Donaghy said. But at the heart of theology of the body, he said, quoting Pope John Paul II, is the truth that God reveals Himself to us in and through the body.

8 The Catholic News & Herald

December 4, 2009


Wreaths wrought in Concord

Praying for life Night of prayer for life to be held in parishes around diocese

Courtesy photo

Faith formation students Mike Ambrosio and Katie Brankley of St. James the Greater Church in Concord prepare for the Advent of Jesus by making Advent wreaths for their homes. Confirmation students at the parish also studied the history of Advent wreaths and how to use them during the four weeks preceding the Nativity of the Lord. Redemptorist Father Joseph Dionne, the pastor, blessed the wreaths after they were assembled.

Blessings of Advent

CHARLOTTE — The twentieth annual National Night of Prayer for Life will be held in more than a dozen churches across the Diocese of Charlotte Dec. 8-9. The event is a pro-life prayer service consisting of exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the rosary, silent meditation and Benediction. “On this evening, we assemble to ask God’s help and forgiveness for sins against our most vulnerable brothers and sisters — the unborn,” said Maggi Nadol, director of the Catholic Social Services’ Respect Life ministry in the Diocese of Charlotte. Parishes typically begin the service at 9 p.m. on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, and continue until 1 a.m. on Dec. 9, when Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico. An “hour of unity” is designated for each time zone, so all parishes in the four U.S. time zones can be linked in prayer at the same time. For the Eastern Time zone, the hour of unity is 12-1 a.m. However, due to unique schedules and conditions, some parishes may adjust the schedule of the service. “For many years, this event has brought believers into the presence of our Eucharist and our Blessed Mother to pray for an end to the tragedy of abortion,” said Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. “Such activity on the part of God’s people is a fulfillment of our Holy Father’s call in ‘The Gospel of Life,’ as well as the call of our U.S. bishops, to have more fervent, regular prayer on behalf of life,” he said.

WANT TO GO? The National Night of Prayer for Life runs 9 p.m., Dec. 8, until 1 a.m., Dec. 9. However, times may vary for participating churches. Please call the church for the schedule. Participating parishes in the Diocese of Charlotte area: • St. Ann Church, Charlotte — (704) 523-4641 • Holy Family Church, Clemmons — (336) 778-0600 • Holy Cross Church, Kernersville — (336) 996-5109 • St. Matthew Church, Charlotte — (704) 543-7677 • Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Charlotte — (704) 391-3732 • Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Lexington — (336) 248-2463 • St. Gabriel Church, Charlotte — (704) 364-5431 • St. Michael the Archangel Church, Gastonia — (704) 867-6212 • St. Mark Church, Huntersville — (704) 948-0231 • St. Francis of Assisi Church, Franklin— (828) 524-2289 • St. Pius the Tenth Church, Greensboro— (336) 272-4681 • Sacred Heart Church, Salisbury — (704) 633-0591 • St. Leo the Great Church, WinstonSalem — (336) 724-0561 • St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Charlotte — (704) 549-1607 • St. Patrick Cathedral, Charlotte — (704) 334-2283


with Fr. Adrian Porras, Pastor, St. Barnabas in Arden, NC

May 27 - June 6, 2010 Your 11- day pilgrimage includes Lisieux, Mont St. Michel, Omaha Beach (Normandy), Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, Shrine of the Miraculous Medal, Sacre Coeur, Versailles, Lourdes and more! Includes 9 nights accommodations at 3- and 4- star hotels: 3 nights in Lisieux, 3 nights in Paris and 3 nights in Lourdes; daily continental breakfasts and 5 dinners, including a Welcome Dinner and special Farewell Dinner.

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Father William Robinson, OFM Conv., admires the handiwork of Bud Martin, Stewardship Commission Coordinator, at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Winston-Salem. The church sponsored a Make-Your-Own Advent Wreath program where adults and children came together for a “Martha Stewart-inspired” endeavor, using glue guns, pie pans, fresh greenery and lots of creativity. Father Bill then blessed the wreaths in anticipation of the upcoming season.

Place your $350 deposit before January 15 and receive a $100 discount! $3,549 (per person, double occupancy) includes airfare from Charlotte (does not include approximately $400 tax/fuel surcharges). $3,649 if booking after January 15, 2010 -

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(This is a privately-sponsored trip, not sponsored by the Diocese of Charlotte.)

Our Lady of Consolation Ladies’ Guild

3rd Annual Chat & Chew Luncheon Saturday, December 12 — 11am - 2pm *Lovely holiday gift baskets raffled *Door prizes *Fun and games


New Life Parish Center, 1235 Badger Court – Charlotte Info or tickets: Carolyn Milbourne 704-540-9306;email

December 4, 2009

The Catholic News & Herald 9

from the cover

Memorial tournament honors beloved coach TOURNAMENT, from page 1

photos by sueann howell

The fourth-grade girls champions from St. Gabriel School (left) show off their medals after their victory in a tournament Nov. 21. St. Mark School players gather with their coach (right) for a pre-game strategy session.

“You feel Pennybyrn’s unique right away.”


~ From left, Pennybyrn residents Bill Horney and Ben Leach in the community’s Irish Pub, with Wait Captain Ahmed Ennissay. ~

The tournament, held Nov. 20-22 at St. Gabriel School, St. Ann School and St. Matthew School, featured 25 teams from five schools around the diocese. Both boys’ and girls’ teams, grades four through seven, vied for championship medals over the three-day competition. Referees donated their time. Parents and students volunteered to help run the event. “Jim is a man who touched so many lives and will continue to for years to come through this event,” said Brenda Jackson, who volunteered to run the welcome/donation desk at the St. Gabriel School location. Jim was an active parishioner at St. Gabriel Church, as well as a husband and father of four sons. He was a wellrespected partner with Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP. He was named one of “North Carolina Super Lawyers” in banking and government/cities/ municipalities in 2006 and 2008. He was a frequent speaker and panelist on public finance issues and served on the General Tax Matters Committee of the National Association of Bond Lawyers. Tournament coordinator, Gary King shares, “I met Jim about five years ago at St. Gabriel’s gym with our now seventh graders. I would see Jim every time I was at the gym… . He would have a bag of soccer balls or basketballs, and a lot of times he was helping another coach with a team he didn’t even have a kid on…. You could tell he truly cared about all the kids.” Four of the top five teams in the tournament were from St. Gabriel School. The other top finisher was the seventh-grade team from St. Matthew School. “The coaches, the kids, the parents and all the volunteers are the ones who made this event a huge success,” said King. “People have been very generous in their donations. Some have put $100 bills in the donation bucket. It’s great to see so many people honoring Jim’s memory like this,” he said. To date, over $4,400 has been raised. All donations collected will go toward the Coach Jim Brennan Memorial Fund Scholarship.

Ben Leach tirelessly researched retirement communities before deciding upon Pennybyrn. “It’s new, so easy to make friends, great dining, wonderful pool and fitness center, and then there’s the unique spirit. Sister Lucy genuinely strives to make everyone feel comfortable, and it prevails throughout the community.” And of course, Ben enjoys an occasional snack in the Irish Pub. “I’ve met so many people with interesting life stories; it’s easy to enjoy yourself. Pennybyrn is an exceptional choice.” You too can choose the best. Call (336) 821-4050 or toll-free (866) 627-9343. 109 Penny Road, High Point, NC 27260 Located less than a mile from downtown Jamestown and only 10 minutes from Greensboro.

photo by sueann howell

Fifth-graders compete in the St. Gabriel School gym during a memorial tournament Nov. 21. PB 322 pub_7.625x9_CNH.indd 1

11/10/09 1:01:12 PM

December 4, 2009

10 The Catholic News & Herald

Culture Watch

A roundup of Scripture, readings, films and more

WORD TO LIFE Sunday Scripture Readings: Dec. 13, 2009

Third Sunday of Advent Cycle C. Readings: 1) Zephaniah 3:14-18a Isaiah 12:2-6 2) Philippians 4:4-7 3) Gospel: Luke 3:10-18

Thriving in tough times SHARON K. PERKINS cns columnist

cns photo by mary t. carty

Jazz musician and composer Dave Brubeck poses at his home in late July in Wilton, Conn. The Catholic musician, who will be honored Dec. 6 with a lifetime achievement award from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, describes his sacred compositions as his greatest musical accomplishments.

Brubeck’s sacred music Jazz icon led to church through his compositions CINCINNATI (CNS) — Fifty years after the taping of his signature tune “Take Five,” jazz icon Dave Brubeck will be honored Dec. 6 with a lifetime achievement award from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. Brubeck, 88, discussed faith, sacred music, and jazz with St. Anthony Messenger magazine in an article in the October 2009 issue. While known for jazz, his impact as a composer of orchestral pieces, a Catholic Mass and other sacred music has gone less noticed. Brubeck acquired an interest in sacred music during World War II when he came up with the idea behind an oratorio based on the Ten Commandments. That musical fascination, especially with the prohibition “Thou Shall Not Kill,” took two decades before he finished his first major choral work, “The Light in the Wilderness.” It was the composition of a Catholic Mass, “To Hope! A Celebration,” that had the most profound effect on Brubeck’s life, written at a time when he did not belong to a denomination or faith community. When a priest asked him before its premiere in 1980 why there was no Our Father section of the Mass, Brubeck remembers first asking: “What’s the Our Father,” which he knew as the Lord’s Prayer. He resolved not to make the addition that, in his mind, would have wreaked havoc with the composition.

However, he said he “dreamt the Our Father” and hopped out of bed to write down as much as he could remember. “That’s when I decided they are trying to tell me something,” he said, deciding right then to add that piece to the Mass and to become Catholic. Brubeck’s Mass has been performed throughout the world, including in Russia in 1997 and before Pope John Paul II 10 years earlier in San Francisco during the pontiff’s pilgrimage to the United States. At that latter celebration, Brubeck was asked to write an additional processional piece for the pope’s entrance in Candlestick Park. Once again, it was a dream that led him to complete a sacred music project, known as “Upon This Rock,” that he initially refused as not workable. With all of his awards and jazzrelated achievements, the father of six children and husband of 67 years describes “Upon This Rock” and “The Light in the Wilderness” as his greatest musical accomplishments. Brubeck also does not make a distinction between his work as an orchestral and chorale composer and his performances as one of the world’s most foremost jazz bandleaders. Jazz and the sacred, he added, “have always been close.” The musician likens his creativity to snowflakes that are never duplicated despite the billions that fall from the sky. “If God can create like that,” Brubeck added, “we ought to be able to reflect a bit of that.”

A couple of years ago, I was able to visit my younger brother in California, and we spent an enjoyable two days touring several vineyards in Napa Valley. As a novice wine taster, I tried different vintages and learned about the primary factors — weather, the quality of the grape crop and the skill of the winemaker — that make some vintage years better than others. Historically, I’ve had good years, too — and some that were not so good. Like many people, I can pinpoint certain times in my life that seemed to bring one misfortune or hardship after another. In 12 months’ time during 1994-95, my husband and I both lost our jobs, my childhood home was destroyed by a tornado and I was debilitated by an acute case of postpartum depression. Caught up in our troubled circumstances, we knew a discouragement that made it difficult to see how God was present or

how things would ever get better. The readings today hold several keys to not only surviving, but thriving, in tough times: prayer, thankfulness and generosity. In St. Paul’s epistle, he plainly tells us to “rejoice in the Lord always,” and to “have no anxiety at all,” but to offer our prayerful petitions to God with thanksgiving. In the Gospel, John the Baptist tells his expectant hearers to be satisfied with their wages and to share their resources with the needy. These were the preferred means of not only preparing for Christ’s coming, but of recognizing Christ’s presence in their midst. Looking back now on the trials of 1994-95, I remember well the “crop” of challenging events and the stormy “weather” of our circumstances when it was difficult to maintain a positive attitude and proper perspective. Tough times can indeed bring despair and discouragement. But ultimately, the Lord — the “skilled winemaker” — is able to be present in all our circumstances, filling every year, even in times of adversity, with his grace and peace. Questions: When have you experienced discouragement due to difficult circumstances? In this time of preparing for the Lord’s coming, how can you replace discouragement with gratefulness and joy? Scripture to be illustrated: “Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst” (Zephaniah 3:16-17).

WEEKLY SCRIPTURE Scripture for the week of December 6-12 Sunday (Second Sunday of Advent), Baruch 5:1-9, Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11, Luke 3:1-6; Monday (St. Ambrose), Isaiah 35:1-10, Luke 5:17-26; Tuesday (The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary), Genesis 3:9-15, 20, Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12, Luke 1:26-38; Wednesday (St. Juan Diego), Isaiah 40:25-31, Matthew 11:28-30; Thursday, Isaiah 41:13-20, Matthew 11:11-15; Friday (St. Damasus I), Isaiah 48:17-19, Matthew 11:16-19; Saturday (Our Lady of Guadalupe), Zechariah 2:14-17, Luke 1:26-38. Scripture for the week of December 13-19 Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent), Zephaniah 3:14-18, Philippians 4:4-7, Luke 3:10-18; Monday (St. John of the Cross), Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17, Matthew 21:23-27; Tuesday, Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13, Matthew 21:28-32; Wednesday, Isaiah 45:6-8, 18, 21-25, Luke 7:18-23; Thursday, Genesis 49:2, 8-10, Matthew 1:1-17; Friday, Jeremiah 23:5-8, Matthew 1:18-25; Saturday, Judges 13:2-7, 24-25, Luke 1:5-25.

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December 4, 2009

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Elizabeth Keegan, Special Friends leader Barbara Keegan, Valerie Johnson, and Sean Costello participate in a rehearsal of the Special Friends Handbell Choir at St. Christopher Church in Nashua, N.H., in late July.

Handbell choir inspires Developmentally disabled adults are ‘great blessing’ NASHUA, N.H. (CNS) — Sean Costello plays guitar, has hosted an MTV music program, works at a local company and has Down syndrome. On Saturday afternoons, Costello, 43, rehearses with the Special Friends Handbell Choir at St. Christopher Parish in Nashua. It’s the only handbell choir exclusively for developmentally disabled adults in the Manchester Diocese. Parishioners who hear the group play during Mass are inspired by the joy and enthusiasm of the musicians. “They are a great blessing for the parish,” said the pastor, Father Richard Kelley. For parish music director Jeanne Polcari, the idea to start the handbell choir came naturally. Her 20-year-old niece, Beth Donahue, has Down syndrome and is a member of Special Friends, a local group of 35 developmentally disabled adults, ranging in age from 20 to 71. “All they needed was a chance,” Polcari said, noting that people with special needs still encounter significant prejudice in their daily lives. When the choir members perform, they receive a warm reception. “Many people are moved to tears,” said Barbara Keegan, whose daughter Elizabeth plays in the choir. Keegan started Special Friends in 1964 to help Elizabeth prepare for the sacraments. Parents of other special-needs children asked to AIRPORT SHUTTLE SERVICE


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be included, and Special Friends was launched. “In the past, people with handicaps were often hidden away, but we can’t let them be forgotten,” she said. “They can lead very normal lives and they have much to contribute.” Today, that contribution is often overlooked. Ethicists fear that the Down syndrome population is in danger of “disappearing,” because a fetal diagnosis of the syndrome often results in abortion. Some estimate the abortion rate in these circumstances is as high as 90 percent. When the Keegan family welcomed Elizabeth in 1960, they were undaunted by her condition. “She was gift from God and she has added a great deal to our lives,” said Keegan. “From the time she was born, Elizabeth was a star. People are drawn to her.” “We are one, big, happy family,” Elizabeth said of the choir. The impact on the group has been somewhat surprising, even to Polcari, who now serves as the special needs liaison for the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers in New England. “The action of the bell ringing frees up the body to move in a more coordinated and confident way,” said. “It truly has a healing effect on the body. In addition, the choir members are able to participate in the liturgy of the Mass, which is very important.” Bell ringer Nancy Stocking agrees. “I like to ring the bells,” she said. “I feel the prayers in the music.” “I have a lot of gifts to share,” said choir member Valerie Johnson. “I am God’s teacher. I teach people about God, patience, love and harmony.”

12 The Catholic News & Herald

December 4, 2009


Honoring veteran parents A recipe to remember

courtesy photo courtesy photo

Loaves & Fishes food bank collects food to feed 40 families from St. Ann School in Charlotte

St. Pius X School in Greensboro honors parents and Army veterans Major Brad Davis and

Nov. 24. The St. Ann School service project club collected canned goods, rolls and mashed-

Major Ed Kanir during a Nov. 11 Veterans Day ceremony. Kanir, a school board member,

potato mixes, and assembled Thanksgiving dinner bags, which students decorated. The

organized the day with school-stewardship committee chair Mary Ealley. The program

bags also contained recipe cards for green bean casserole.

included the color guard by the Boy Scouts, the National Anthem sung by the school choir and the “Missing Man” ceremony. Capt. Rick Schultz played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes and Davis presented the school with a U.S. flag that he had flown over Iraq on behalf of the school. Principal Anne Knapke said: “It is very important that 21st century

Blessing the holiday feast

students recognize the importance of veterans throughout history, and the pivotal role that they played in positively impacting the world in which we live.”

Warm hearts, helping hands

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Conventual Franciscan Father Bill Robinson, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church in Winston-Salem, blesses the 11 Thanksgiving Feast baskets decorated and filled by Our Lady of Mercy School students and staff Nov. 20. The baskets filled with food were distributed to needy families identified by the church’s outreach program.



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Middle-school volunteers from Our Lady of Mercy School in Winston-Salem display the coats and blankets for the needy and homeless Nov. 13. The Helping Hands of Mercy Service Club leadership team delivered the first installment from this year’s drive to the Helping Hands office. Several hundred bottles of hand sanitizer were also collected for 600 homeless children. Last year, more than 200 coats and 50 blankets were collected; this year the need is even greater.

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December 4, 2009


The Catholic News & Herald 13

Bishops OK marriage pastoral, ethical directives, liturgy translations BALTIMORE (CNS) — The U.S. bishops took their final look at the English translation of the Roman Missal and approved documents on marriage, reproductive technologies and medically assisted nutrition and hydration during their Nov. 16-18 fall general assembly in Baltimore. The approximately 300 bishops meeting in Baltimore also heard a preliminary report on the “Causes and Context Study” on clergy sex abuse being conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a staunch defense of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development against charges that it funds groups that opposed church social or moral teachings. They passed a $144.5 million budget for the USCCB in 2010 and approved a 3 percent increase in 2011 in the assessment on dioceses to fund the work of the conference, as well as priorities and plans and an operational strategy for the next two years. The bishops made their own an earlier statement by Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, USCCB president, pledging continued efforts to keep health care legislation abortion-neutral and thanking House members who had supporting those efforts. Approval of the pastoral letter “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan” also came Nov. 17, despite the

concern voiced by some bishops about the document’s pastoral tone and content. The pastoral on marriage offers support to married couples and affirms true marriage can involve only a man and a woman. It is another component in the bishops’ National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage, which began in November 2004. The 15-page document “Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology” says that although the Catholic Church shares the pain of married couples facing infertility problems, some reproductive technologies “are not morally legitimate ways to solve those problems.” It was approved Nov. 17 by a vote of 220-4, with three abstentions. Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said the new document would “fill a true pastoral need” among U.S. Catholics for a better understanding o f “ t h e d i ff e r e n c e b e t w e e n t h e Catholic understanding and the secular understanding of human life.” The bishops also overwhelming approved a revision to the directives that guide Catholic health care facilities, clarifying that patients with chronic conditions who are not imminently dying should receive food and water by “medically assisted” means if they cannot take them normally.

cns photo by bob roller

U.S. bishops applaud during a session of their general meeting in Baltimore Nov. 17.

MAGICAL IRELAND TOUR with Father Ed Sheridan

July 19-July 30, 2010 10 nights in Ireland including Killarney, Dublin, Tipperary, Westport, Kinsale, Bunratty -- Visiting Kilkenny, Kylemore, Dingle, Blarney Castle and more! A Great Christmas Gift! $2,948 plus departure charges ($215 pp). Deposit $500. Space is limited! Includes Irish breakfast daily and 5 dinners, and medieval banquet, plus first class hotels. Email or call Diane 704-364-5131 or or call BJ 704-847-9001.

Meeting Highlights 2009 USCCB fall general assembly • Accepted the English translations and U.S. adaptations of the final five sections of the Roman Missal. • Heard reports on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Synod of Bishops for Africa, Catholic Relief Services and a recent survey on religious vocations. • Approved a document criticizing reproductive technologies. • Approved a pastoral letter on marriage. • Viewed the first of several planned videos on protecting and promoting marriage. • Pledged to continue efforts to keep abortion out of health reform legislation.

• Agreed to a $144.5 million budget for 2010. • Approved a priority plan and a 330-page operational strategy for the work of the USCCB. • Heard Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago envision the challenges of a world without priests in his address as USCCB president. • Heard a preliminary report on the causes and context of clergy sexual abuse of children. • Selected five new chairmen-elect for USCCB committees and board members for CRS and CLINIC. • Approved revised directives for the withdrawal of medically assisted food and water in Catholic health facilities. ©2009 CNS

December 4, 2009

14 The Catholic News & Herald


A collection of columns, editorials and viewpoints

Too much Mary? Having been raised by Mexican immigrants in this country, I can definitely attest to the devotion that most people of Mexican heritage have toward the Virgen Morena (the Dark Virgin). My grandmothers have always had at least 10 images in the house of just the Virgin of Guadalupe, not counting all of the other crucifixes, statues of Saints Joseph and Jude, and countless other articles. Even at the folksiest of Spanish Masses, there are songs to the Virgin of Guadalupe that serve as the religious soundtrack for any childhood in the Mexican barrio. I have even known evangelical Protestants who long ago rejected the faith of their ancestors, only to still carry pictures of la Guadalupana in their wallets – perhaps as a “good luck charm,” or perhaps as a reminder of the home they left long ago in pursuit of a better life. So when some in the church criticize certain Catholic societies for being too “hung up on Mary” and not enough on her Divine Son, I am not necessarily the best person to respond to their criticism. I can’t relate to the argument – nor, I suspect, could many other Catholics: From the Virgin of Czestochowa in Poland, to the Virgin of Lujan in Argentina, to Our Lady of Prompt Succour here in New Orleans, having “your own Virgin” has been formative to how Catholic peoples think of themselves, how they form an identity, and how they approach the mystery of God Himself. Devotion to the Virgin Mary is not something that you can ignore. It is so ingrained in your psyche that even if you hate the church and despise God, images of God’s tender Mother continue to haunt you and influence how you see family, love, and the feminine in an increasingly secularizing world. In the experience of the Christian people, the motherhood of the Virgin Mary given to us by Christ on the Cross is not a sentimental add-on to the faith, but part of its very essence. Mary takes care of us like any mother does. She has held back hostile armies, cured the sick, or perhaps just found us work. There is no apostolic Christianity where Mary is not present, no ancient church where prayers to her are not said. A dream of Christianity sans Mary is like a dream of Christianity without the Cross. For without her, there would have been no Body to be offered on it for the life of the world. The Catholic faithful have known for two millennia the deep significance of the gift of Mary’s motherhood. Being a Christian means being part of a family; it means being taken into a way of life that has been going on for centuries. To use an Augustinian axiom: Unus christianus, nullus christianus (one Christian is no Christian). No greater sign exists of this than Mary

Guest Column ARTURO VASQUEZ guest columnist

herself, the most important member of God’s own family and the icon of the Church Universal. Devotion to Mary everywhere brings tenderness, meekness, and the closest thing to real religious fervor that many people will have. For if you know you have a Mother in Heaven watching you, wouldn’t you try to behave better? Indeed, more love for Christ’s mother seems only ever a good thing. And to all those who think it distracts too much from the devotion that we should have to her Son: I am sure He doesn’t really mind. So can we have too much Mary? I will stick to what I know, and that is another old Latin axiom: De Maria numquam satis. Of Mary, there is never enough. Arturo Vasquez is a writer and independent researcher who lives in Berkeley, CA. He blogs regularly at Reditus: A Chronicle of Aesthetic Christianity.

Mary: A role model for young mothers Among many other reasons why I love the Christmas season is this one: The holly and the ivy, the creche and the evergreen remind me that I need not look to the celebrities and renowned authors of our day to find a suitable role model of a mother. Mary is there. In the book “A Classic Christmas,” a compilation of beautiful reflections and Christmas Scripture verses, I read these words from the Trappist monk Thomas Merton: “When a room is heated by an open fire, surely there is nothing strange in the fact that those who stand closest to the fireplace are the ones who are warmest. And when God comes into the world through the instrumentality of one of his servants, then there is nothing surprising about the fact that his chosen instrument should have the greatest and most intimate share in the divine gift.” In other words, Mary has much to teach us. Now I studied theology, but I still have a hard time comprehending the miracle of the Incarnation ... the miracle of Christmas. However, Mary helps me to understand it better. Merton writes in his meditation: “Mary, who was empty of all egotism, free from all sin, was as pure as the glass of a very clean window that has no other function than to admit the light of the sun. If we rejoice in that light, we implicitly praise the cleanness of the window.” I suspect therein is the hardest part of motherhood: to stay pure, to not get caught up in ego and self, so that we can

Our Turn THERESE J. BORCHARD cns columnist

hear the true desires of our children but also those of God. So to the list of great moms I add another: Mary, the mother of Jesus.

cns photo by j.d. long-garcia, catholic sun

This image of Our Lady of Guadalupe hangs in the basilica named for her in Mexico City. The appearance of Mary in 1531 is said to have resulted in millions of conversions to Catholicism. The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is Dec. 12.

Bethlehem brothers and sisters in Christ In your November 20th issue, the article “Cardinal says Catholics called to bring hope to Middle East Christians” rang very true with me. Having recently returned from a trip to the West Bank, where I stayed primarily in Bethlehem, I saw first-hand how disconnected the place has become with Christian pilgrims. While all the pilgrims would make the requisite short stop at the Church of the Nativity, they would not cross Manager Square to see anything else about Bethlehem nor interact with any of the local Palestinians. It was disturbing to see and hear people’s perceptions of Palestinians, some of whom are our own brothers and sisters in Christ. Instead of bringing hope or encouragement to such a troubled region, we are perpetrating fear and mistrust based off of incorrect stereotypes or perceptions. I remember meeting a Palestinian Christian who owned a little souvenir shop right behind the Mosque of Omar and Manager Square in the area where most tourists do not go. After hearing that I was a member of a Catholic Church

Letters to the Editor back home in North Carolina, he pleaded with me to tell my fellow Catholics that the rest of Bethlehem is safe to visit. By shunning places throughout the Middle East for fear of them being “unsafe,” when in actuality they are safe such as in the case of Bethlehem, we are disconnecting ourselves further from the Christians who are already a minority in the region. Danielle Turner Mount Holly, NC Father Hemrick is right on in his column about Christian Palestinians. Having just completed an excellent tour of the Holy Land, sponsored by the Diocese of Charlotte, I have a much different perspective than before. Our tour guide, a Catholic Palestinian Israeli

citizen, explained many aspects of the problem that we Americans don’t usually get from our news. All we can do at present are some of the projects suggested by Father Hemrick, pressuring our government to try to find a solution, and prayer. Harold R. Imbus Greensboro, NC

Write a Letter to the Editor The Catholic News & Herald welcomes letters from readers. We ask that letters be originals of 250 words or fewer, pertain to recent newspaper content or Catholic issues, and be in good taste. To be considered for publication, each letter must include the name, address and daytime phone number of the writer for purpose of verification. Letters may be condensed due to space limitations and edited for clarity, style and factual accuracy. The Catholic News & Herald does not publish poetry, form letter or petitions. Items submitted to The Catholic News & Herald become the property of the newspaper and are subject to reuse, in whole or in part, in print, electronic formats and archives. Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Catholic News & Herald, P.O. Box 37267, Charlotte, N.C. 28237, or e-mail

December 4, 2009

The Catholic News & Herald 15

Oh, Christmas! “Oh Christmas!” That is what my 89-year-old mother says sometimes when she is overwhelmed. It probably is an oldfashioned “circumlocution” (literally “speaking around”). It’s a way of letting off steam without taking the Lord’s name in vain. But it expresses the way a lot of people feel about Christmas: overwhelmed. It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. We have done this to ourselves. Many Christians down through the ages didn’t even celebrate Christmas. The Puritan settlers forbade the celebration of Christmas. It was seen as a Papist holy day, filled with useless frivolity. They saw no point in enjoying themselves. It was 19th-century England, by way of people like Charles Dickens, that gave Christmas its modern form. But the 19th-century Christmas was far simpler than ours. For one thing, it was only 12 days, not two months. Remember that Bob Cratchit in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” only asked for Christmas Day off the day before. And Scrooge did not think he should give it to him. Most of the stuff we identify as part of the Christmas celebration is very recent and not very Christian. The only essential to celebrate is the

Incarnation. We want to celebrate our faith that God entered into our time and our space and our human condition. He cares about us. By coming among us, he says we are valuable to him. That really is something to celebrate. We are not “lost in the cosmos,” as Walker Percy said in his book by the same title. We are remembered and wanted by no less a person than God himself, who took on our flesh. The only essential of Christmas is to celebrate that. For Catholics the most important part of the Christmas celebration should be the liturgies of the season. If we plan our Christmas around anything, it should be the liturgy. Oddly, I find that more and more the liturgy is an afterthought in the planning of the season. Mass gets sandwiched in around the shopping and wrapping and entertaining. A symptom of this sandwichedin phenomenon is the fact that the Christmas Eve Masses are crowded but the Christmas morning Masses are empty in many churches. People just don’t go to church much on Christmas Day. They get Mass “out of the way” on Christmas Eve so they can be free to celebrate Christmas. Odd. Besides the liturgy, I think the most important thing about Christmas is

Catholic in practice and not just in name After the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, among the lessons from the history of the Church’s interaction with “pro-choice” Catholic politicians on Capitol Hill is that an education-alone approach has proven a total failure. The church should consider anew the type of one-on-one instruction that Jesus describes in the Gospel (Mt 18:15-18), traditionally called fraternal correction, in which individual “prochoice” Catholic politicians would be helped to see the teaching of the Church on the dignity of human life, the evil of abortion, and the duties of Catholic politicians. An example of what this fraternal correction looks like is presently ongoing in the state of Rhode Island. It is notable — considering that Senator Kennedy, through his enormous influence and stature, was in many ways the progenitor of scores of other “pro-choice” Catholic politicians — that the recipient of this correction is Senator Kennedy’s son, Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI). Senator Kennedy’s position on abortion, inadequately addressed and corrected in his generation, led to greater confusion in his son’s generation. That’s why the efforts of Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin to remedy that confusion are relevant not merely to Congressman Kennedy, but to the whole church. The Congressman’s problems began

at the end of October when, during an interview on health care reform, he echoed his father’s claim that changing the health care structure rather than stopping the killing of innocent human beings is the most important social injustice issue facing us. Bishop Tobin was quick to respond and wrote the Congressman to schedule a meeting to discuss Kennedy’s position on abortion. The meeting was then cancelled, reportedly because Bishop Tobin refused to accept Congressman Kennedy’s demand that the meeting be kept private. The purpose of the meeting was to remedy his erroneous public statements and scandalous public track record on abortion, both of which require a public response. Kennedy then wrote a public letter to the bishop that asserted, among other things, “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” Bishop Tobin hoped his public response to that statement “might be instructive to other Catholics, including those in prominent positions of leadership.” Disagreement with the hierarchy on some issues does make someone less of a Catholic, Bishop Tobin clarified, because “when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish

Parish Diary FATHER PETER DALY cns columnist

remembering others. This is especially important for children and people who would be otherwise forgotten. Like most parishes, we have Christmas baskets and dinners for the poor. We have a giving tree to remember the children and disabled in our community who won’t get a gift. This year we are helping a young widow with five children. Her husband died of cancer at age 30. We also are remembering relatives and parishioners who are overseas in the military by sending gift packages to their units in Afghanistan and Iraq. We’re also remembering some people who are in prison. Just because people are gone should not mean they are forgotten. What about the rest of the stuff? It doesn’t really matter. If it stresses you out, forget it. Christian feast days are not meant to be a burden. They are supposed to be a joy. When we exclaim “Oh Christmas!” it is not exasperation but exultation: Oh Christmas!!

Guest Column FATHER ROGER LANDRY guest columnist

their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church.” After quoting Canon Law, the Catechism, and a Vatican document on Catholics in political life, he continued, “There’s lots of canonical and theological verbiage there, Congressman, but what it means is that if you don’t accept the teachings of the Church your communion with the Church is flawed, or in your own words, makes you ‘less of a Catholic.’” He concluded his letter by inviting Congressman Kennedy, “as your bishop and brother in Christ, to enter into a sincere process of discernment, conversion and repentance,” offering his help to that end and reminding him that “it’s not too late for you to repair your relationship with the Church, redeem your public image, and emerge as an authentic ‘profile in courage,’ especially by defending the sanctity of human life for all people, including unborn children.” Father Roger J. Landry is pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in New Bedford, MA and Executive Editor of The Anchor, the weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Fall River.

Love of God, fellow man gives meaning The Pope Speaks POPE BENEDICT XVI

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Choosing to love God and fellow human beings is the only choice that gives meaning to peoples’ lives, Pope Benedict XVI said in reviewing the teachings of a 12th-century monk. At his weekly general audience Dec. 2 in a sunny St. Peter’s Square, the pope explained the writings of William of St.-Thierry, a monastic theologian who believed that love of God is “the ultimate vocation and driving force of the human spirit.” Pope Benedict has been analyzing the lives and works of important church figures from Europe in the Middle Ages during his weekly catechesis, drawing out ideas that can be relevant to contemporary men and women. The pope called William “a singer of love and truth,” whose writings “teach us to make the fundamental choice of our lives, that which gives sense and value to all the other choices: the love of God and our neighbor.” Only by making this choice, the pope said, “can we have true joy and beatitude.” Here is the text of the pope’s audience remarks in English. In our catechesis on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, we now turn to William of Saint-Thierry, an outstanding monastic theologian and a close friend of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. William took active part in the twelfth-century movement of monastic renewal and, after serving as abbot of Saint-Thierry, he entered the Cistercian monastery of Signy. A central theme of his writings is the nature and power of love, seen as the ultimate vocation and the driving force of the human spirit. For William, this innate human drive finds perfection in the love of the triune God, the source and goal of all love. As the culmination of a process of purification and integration of the affections, the love of God brings supreme human fulfilment, and a profound experiential knowledge of both God and the world about us. In William’s celebrated phrase, Amor ipse intellectus est – love itself brings knowledge. By contemplation of the mysteries of the faith, we grow in the image of God and, by uniting our will to his, we become one with him. May the example and teaching of William of Saint-Thierry strengthen our desire to love God above all things and to let that love overflow in love of our neighbour. May we thus discover authentic joy and the foretaste of eternal bliss.

December 4, 2009


The Catholic News & Herald 16

‘An enormous disappointment’ Pope appeals for rights USCCB critiques Senate health reform bill

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The health reform legislation now before the Senate is “an enormous disappointment, creating new and completely unacceptable federal policy that endangers human life and rights of conscience,” the chairmen of three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Nov. 20. A letter from the three chairmen outlining the USCCB’s problems with the Senate bill’s provisions on abortion and conscience protections, coverage of immigrants and affordability for lowincome Americans went out about 24 hours before the Senate voted, 60-39, to begin debate on the legislation. The debate began Nov. 30 after senators returned from a weeklong Thanksgiving break. The Senate’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, drawn up by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada from legislation approved earlier in two Senate committees, “does not meet ... moral criteria” outlined by the bishops, especially on the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, the letter said. “We believe legislation that violates this moral principle is not true health care reform and must be amended to reflect it,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishops William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., and John C. Wester of Salt Lake City. “If that fails, the current legislation should be opposed.” They head the USCCB committees on Pro-Life Activities, on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and on Migration, respectively. In addition to their three-page letter, the three leaders sent each senator a copy of a four-page fact sheet designed to refute “a number of misunderstandings and false claims” about the House-passed Stupak amendment, which they called “a modest and reasonable measure.” The amendment reflects “existing federal abortion funding policies in the context of health care reform,” the fact sheet says. “Under this policy, anyone who actually wants abortion coverage can buy it with their own money; the government does not use taxpayer funds for abortions; and no one who opposes abortion is forced through their health premiums to pay for other people’s abortions.” In their letter, the committee chairmen said the Senate bill as currently written “does not live up to President (Barack) Obama’s commitment of barring the use of federal dollars for abortion and maintaining current conscience laws.” “The bill provides federal funding for plans that cover abortion and creates an unprecedented mandatory ‘abortion surcharge’ in such plans that will require pro-life purchasers to pay directly and explicitly for other people’s abortions,” they said. In addition, “the bill seriously weakens the current nondiscrimination policy protecting providers who decline involvement in abortions, providing stronger protection for facilities that perform and promote abortion than for those which do not,” the USCCB letter said.

The bishops also urged changes in other parts of the Senate legislation. “We support the inclusion of all immigrants, regardless of status, in the insurance exchange ... (and) the removal of the five-year ban on legal immigrants accessing federal health benefit programs,” they said. To bar undocumented immigrants from purchasing health insurance with their own money “would harm not only immigrants and their families, but also the general public health,” the letter said. And to penalize legal immigrants would be unfair in light of the praise for them “in past immigration debates for their many contributions and for playing by the rules,” it added. The Senate bill also would leave more than 24 million people without health insurance, the bishops said, urging the expansion of Medicaid eligibility for people living at 133 percent of the federal poverty level or less. The letter also recommended changes to help keep out-of-pocket health care costs down for low-income families. The bishops cited several aspects of the Senate bill that they support and urged that they be retained. “Reforms that will strengthen families and protect low-income and vulnerable people — such as eliminating denial of coverage based on preexisting conditions including pregnancy; eliminating lifetime caps; offering longterm disability services; and extending dependent coverage of uninsured young adults — are significant steps toward genuine health care reform,” the letter said. The USCCB representatives said choices made in the health reform debate “are not just political, technical or economic, but also moral decisions” and that the questions they raise “are not marginal issues or special-interest concerns.” “They are the questions at the heart of the health care debate: Whose lives and health are to be protected and whose are not?” they said.

cns photo by molly riley, reuters

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington Nov. 20 while Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, looks down at the health care bill that was previously unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada (not shown).

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI urged governments and international organizations to give special attention to the rights of child immigrants, who often are victims of exploitation and abandonment. Minors forced to immigrate for reasons of poverty, violence or hunger are the most vulnerable, he said. The pope made the comments in his annual message for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated Jan. 17 in most countries. The papal text was released at the Vatican Nov. 27. “I warmly hope that proper attention will be given to minor migrants who need a social environment that permits and fosters their physical, cultural, spiritual and moral development,” he said. Pope Benedict referred to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which recognizes children’s “fundamental rights as equal to the rights of adults.” But “unfortunately this does not always happen in practice,” he said. M e a n w h i l e , t h e Va t i c a n ’s representative to United Nations agencies based in Geneva said the increase in illegal global migration shows that so far efforts to manage immigration have not worked.

Speaking Nov. 25 to the International Organization for Migration, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said data from the United Nations and individual governments show that 15 to 20 percent of all immigration is illegal, amounting to 30 million to 40 million people. Illegal and legal immigration are closely linked by the same root causes, he said. The difference is that some people are diverted to irregular channels because no legal channels are effectively available. In fact, Archbishop Tomasi said, the phenomenon is growing, “notwithstanding increased control of borders and of work places.” But immigrants themselves deserve compassion and consideration even if they have entered a country clandestinely, he said. “Bound up in all these considerations, the dignity and inalienable human rights of irregular migrants call for a new management strategy.” If international organizations and governments are able to construct a framework that opens more possibilities for legal immigration and guarantees basic human rights, he said, “everyone will gain: migrants, national economies and peaceful coexistence.”

cns photo by david maugn

Oswaldo Franco, 34, right, eats a bowl of beans served for dinner outside the “Albergue Temporal Zona Norte” homeless shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, Nov. 9. Franco had been living undocumented in the U.S. for four years until he was deported to Mexico six months ago.

Dec. 4, 2009  

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