New Column- Sandy Hook and Evil



What Adam Lanza did at Sandy Hook Elementary was evil. It cannot be explained away as solely the consequence of biology, psychology, economics, family situations, or laws. At the same time, Adam Lanza himself was not evil. A person’s act can be evil even if the person is not.

Read it here . . .

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Article source: http://ndcatholic.org/latestnews/?p=1322

Bishops Urge Retention Of Charitable Deduction, Other Tax Credits And Programs As Nation Approaches “Fiscal Cliff”

Catholic institutions rely on the charitable deduction to feed, house, clothe, educate, and care for millions of people around the world,� said the bishops who oversee the domestic and international justice and peace efforts of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and should be protected in any final agreement to avoid the “fiscal cliff.�

In a December 14 letter to Congress, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, called the tax system an “important tool� for raising adequate revenue and fulfilling the responsibility of ensuring basic human needs, such as food, clothing, health care, work and education, are accessible to all people.

“One way our tax system attempts to accomplish this is with the charitable deduction, which encourages taxpayers to support private charity, religion, and education,� the bishops wrote.

In their letter, Bishop Blaire and Bishop Pates also noted the importance of protecting the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, poverty-focused international assistance, and other programs that “help guarantee basic human rights for millions of people.�

Bishop Blaire also joined other Christian leaders of the Circle of Protection in releasing principles regarding the ongoing budget negotiations surrounding the fiscal cliff, and calling on Republicans and Democrats to adhere to the basic moral principle of protecting programs that serve low-income people. Circle of Protection leaders also called for protecting the charitable deduction.

Statistics on the number of people served by Catholic charities is available online: www.usccb.org/about/media-relations/statistics/health-care-social-service.cfm

The full text of the bishops’ letter is also available online: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/federal-budget-letter-congress-2012-12-14.pdf

Article source: http://ndcatholic.org/latestnews/?p=1319

USCCB Committees Call For Action In Response To Newtown Tragedy

United in prayer for families, communities mourning the loss of loved ones
Need to return to values that foster a culture of life
Need to improve resources to help the mentally-ill, their families, caregivers

WASHINGTON—In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the chairmen of three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a joint statement to decry violence in society. The bishops repeated the call from Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of USCCB, who expressed on the day of the horrible tragedy, deepest sorrow for all the victims and a call to work for peace in our homes, streets and world. They called on all Americans, especially legislators, to address national policies that will strengthen regulations of firearms and improve access to health care for those with mental health needs.

“As Catholic Bishops, we join together with the President of our Conference, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who on the day of the horrible tragedy expressed his profound solidarity with and prayers for the families, friends, neighbors, and communities whose hearts have been rent by the loss of a child or loved one,� said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

The bishops are chairmen of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Committee on Communications; and the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, respectively. “Sacred Scripture reminds us time and again to ‘be not afraid.’ Indeed, we must find within ourselves the faith-filled courage to address the challenges our nation faces, both in our homes and in our national policies,� they said.

They also addressed the need for healthcare policies that provide support to people with mental health needs, and called on the entertainment industry to address the proliferation of violence and evaluate its impact in society.

Full text of the statement follows:

Call for Action in Response to Newtown Tragedy
Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend
December 21, 2012

The Lord Jesus Christ, in his Sermon on the Mount, teaches us, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,� and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God� (Mt 5:4, 9).

In the face of the horrific evil that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, as people of faith we first and foremost turn to God and pray. We pray for those whose lives were robbed from them. As Catholic Bishops, we join together with the President of our Conference, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who on the day of the horrible tragedy expressed his profound solidarity with and prayers for the families, friends, neighbors, and communities whose hearts have been rent by the loss of a child or loved one. No words can capture your suffering. We look to Christ, his words and deeds, and ultimately to his Cross and Resurrection. It is in Jesus that we place our hope.

The Sandy Hook tragedy has caused great anguish for parents and others who attempt to safeguard our children. In addition to the outpouring of prayers and support from around the nation, understandably this tragedy has given rise to discussions about national policies and steps that can be taken to foster a culture that protects the innocent and those most vulnerable among us. It is time for our nation to renew a culture of life in our society.

Sacred Scripture reminds us time and again to “be not afraid.� Indeed, we must find within ourselves the faith-filled courage to address the challenges our nation faces, both in our homes and in our national policies. These challenges encompass many areas with various complexities. Here, we offer particular words regarding the issue of the regulation of fire arms, the standards for the entertainment industry, and our service to those with mental health needs.  As religious leaders, we are compelled to call on all Americans, especially elected leaders, to address these issues.

With regard to the regulation of fire arms, first, the intent to protect one’s loved ones is an honorable one, but simply put, guns are too easily accessible. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in their document, “The International Arms Trade (2006),â€� emphasized the importance of enacting concrete controls on handguns, for example, noting that “limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone.â€�

Secondly, our entertainers, especially film producers and video game creators, need to realize how their profit motives have allowed the proliferation of movies, television programs, video games and other entertainment that glorify violence and prey on the insecurities and immaturity of our young people. Such portrayals of violence have desensitized all of us. The massacre of twenty little children and seven adults causes each of us to reflect on our own understanding of the value of human life. We must improve our resources for parents, guardians and young people, so that they can evaluate entertainment products intelligently. We need to admit that the viewing and use of these products has negative emotional, psychological and spiritual effects on people.

We must also reflect on our own fears as we grapple with our prejudices toward those with mental health needs. Our society must provide health services and support to those who have mental illnesses and to their families and caregivers. As a community we need to support one another so no one feels unable to get help for a mentally ill family member or neighbor in need. Burdensome healthcare policies must be adjusted so people can get help for themselves or others in need. Just as we properly reach out to those with physical challenges we need to approach mental health concerns with equal sensitivity. There is no shame in seeking help for oneself or others; the only shame is in refusing to provide care and support.

The events in Newtown call us to turn to our Lord in prayer and to witness more profoundly Christ’s perfect love, mercy and compassion. We must confront violence with love.
There are glimmers of hope in this tragedy. Many people, including some of the victims, made extraordinary efforts to protect life. In particular, the teachers, the principal, the children, the first responders and other leaders showed tremendous courage during the tragedy. Some sacrificed their own lives protecting others.

In their memory and for the sake of our nation, we reiterate our call made in 2000, in our statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, for all Americans, especially legislators, to:

1.         Support measures that control the sale and use of firearms
2.         Support measures that make guns safer (especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children and anyone other than the owner)
3.         Call for sensible regulations of handguns
4.         Support legislative efforts that seek to protect society from the violence associated with easy access to deadly weapons including assault weapons
5.         Make a serious commitment to confront the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime.
As we long for the arrival of the Prince of Peace in this Advent and Christmas season, we call on all people of goodwill to help bring about a culture of life and peace.

 

Article source: http://ndcatholic.org/latestnews/?p=1317

USCCB Committees Call For Action In Response To Newtown Tragedy

United in prayer for families, communities mourning the loss of loved ones
Need to return to values that foster a culture of life
Need to improve resources to help the mentally-ill, their families, caregivers

WASHINGTON—In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the chairmen of three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a joint statement to decry violence in society. The bishops repeated the call from Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of USCCB, who expressed on the day of the horrible tragedy, deepest sorrow for all the victims and a call to work for peace in our homes, streets and world. They called on all Americans, especially legislators, to address national policies that will strengthen regulations of firearms and improve access to health care for those with mental health needs.

“As Catholic Bishops, we join together with the President of our Conference, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who on the day of the horrible tragedy expressed his profound solidarity with and prayers for the families, friends, neighbors, and communities whose hearts have been rent by the loss of a child or loved one,� said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

The bishops are chairmen of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Committee on Communications; and the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, respectively. “Sacred Scripture reminds us time and again to ‘be not afraid.’ Indeed, we must find within ourselves the faith-filled courage to address the challenges our nation faces, both in our homes and in our national policies,� they said.

They also addressed the need for healthcare policies that provide support to people with mental health needs, and called on the entertainment industry to address the proliferation of violence and evaluate its impact in society.

Full text of the statement follows:

Call for Action in Response to Newtown Tragedy
Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend
December 21, 2012

The Lord Jesus Christ, in his Sermon on the Mount, teaches us, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,� and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God� (Mt 5:4, 9).

In the face of the horrific evil that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, as people of faith we first and foremost turn to God and pray. We pray for those whose lives were robbed from them. As Catholic Bishops, we join together with the President of our Conference, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who on the day of the horrible tragedy expressed his profound solidarity with and prayers for the families, friends, neighbors, and communities whose hearts have been rent by the loss of a child or loved one. No words can capture your suffering. We look to Christ, his words and deeds, and ultimately to his Cross and Resurrection. It is in Jesus that we place our hope.

The Sandy Hook tragedy has caused great anguish for parents and others who attempt to safeguard our children. In addition to the outpouring of prayers and support from around the nation, understandably this tragedy has given rise to discussions about national policies and steps that can be taken to foster a culture that protects the innocent and those most vulnerable among us. It is time for our nation to renew a culture of life in our society.

Sacred Scripture reminds us time and again to “be not afraid.� Indeed, we must find within ourselves the faith-filled courage to address the challenges our nation faces, both in our homes and in our national policies. These challenges encompass many areas with various complexities. Here, we offer particular words regarding the issue of the regulation of fire arms, the standards for the entertainment industry, and our service to those with mental health needs.  As religious leaders, we are compelled to call on all Americans, especially elected leaders, to address these issues.

With regard to the regulation of fire arms, first, the intent to protect one’s loved ones is an honorable one, but simply put, guns are too easily accessible. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in their document, “The International Arms Trade (2006),â€� emphasized the importance of enacting concrete controls on handguns, for example, noting that “limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone.â€�

Secondly, our entertainers, especially film producers and video game creators, need to realize how their profit motives have allowed the proliferation of movies, television programs, video games and other entertainment that glorify violence and prey on the insecurities and immaturity of our young people. Such portrayals of violence have desensitized all of us. The massacre of twenty little children and seven adults causes each of us to reflect on our own understanding of the value of human life. We must improve our resources for parents, guardians and young people, so that they can evaluate entertainment products intelligently. We need to admit that the viewing and use of these products has negative emotional, psychological and spiritual effects on people.

We must also reflect on our own fears as we grapple with our prejudices toward those with mental health needs. Our society must provide health services and support to those who have mental illnesses and to their families and caregivers. As a community we need to support one another so no one feels unable to get help for a mentally ill family member or neighbor in need. Burdensome healthcare policies must be adjusted so people can get help for themselves or others in need. Just as we properly reach out to those with physical challenges we need to approach mental health concerns with equal sensitivity. There is no shame in seeking help for oneself or others; the only shame is in refusing to provide care and support.

The events in Newtown call us to turn to our Lord in prayer and to witness more profoundly Christ’s perfect love, mercy and compassion. We must confront violence with love.
There are glimmers of hope in this tragedy. Many people, including some of the victims, made extraordinary efforts to protect life. In particular, the teachers, the principal, the children, the first responders and other leaders showed tremendous courage during the tragedy. Some sacrificed their own lives protecting others.

In their memory and for the sake of our nation, we reiterate our call made in 2000, in our statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, for all Americans, especially legislators, to:

1.         Support measures that control the sale and use of firearms
2.         Support measures that make guns safer (especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children and anyone other than the owner)
3.         Call for sensible regulations of handguns
4.         Support legislative efforts that seek to protect society from the violence associated with easy access to deadly weapons including assault weapons
5.         Make a serious commitment to confront the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime.
As we long for the arrival of the Prince of Peace in this Advent and Christmas season, we call on all people of goodwill to help bring about a culture of life and peace.

 

Article source: http://ndcatholic.org/latestnews/?p=1317

US Bishops Call for Action in Response to Newtown Tragedy

US-capital-150WASHINGTON—In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the chairmen of three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a joint statement to decry violence in society. The bishops repeated the call from Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of USCCB, who expressed on the day of the horrible tragedy, deepest sorrow for all the victims and a call to work for peace in our homes, streets and world. They called on all Americans, especially legislators, to address national policies that will strengthen regulations of firearms and improve access to health care for those with mental health needs.

“As Catholic Bishops, we join together with the President of our Conference, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who on the day of the horrible tragedy expressed his profound solidarity with and prayers for the families, friends, neighbors, and communities whose hearts have been rent by the loss of a child or loved one,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

The bishops are chairmen of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Committee on Communications; and the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, respectively. “Sacred Scripture reminds us time and again to ‘be not afraid.’ Indeed, we must find within ourselves the faith-filled courage to address the challenges our nation faces, both in our homes and in our national policies,” they said.

They also addressed the need for healthcare policies that provide support to people with mental health needs, and called on the entertainment industry to address the proliferation of violence and evaluate its impact in society. 

Full text of the statement follows:

 The Lord Jesus Christ, in his Sermon on the Mount, teaches us, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt 5:4, 9).

In the face of the horrific evil that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, as people of faith we first and foremost turn to God and pray. We pray for those whose lives were robbed from them. As Catholic Bishops, we join together with the President of our Conference, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who on the day of the horrible tragedy expressed his profound solidarity with and prayers for the families, friends, neighbors, and communities whose hearts have been rent by the loss of a child or loved one. No words can capture your suffering. We look to Christ, his words and deeds, and ultimately to his Cross and Resurrection. It is in Jesus that we place our hope.

The Sandy Hook tragedy has caused great anguish for parents and others who attempt to safeguard our children. In addition to the outpouring of prayers and support from around the nation, understandably this tragedy has given rise to discussions about national policies and steps that can be taken to foster a culture that protects the innocent and those most vulnerable among us. It is time for our nation to renew a culture of life in our society.

Sacred Scripture reminds us time and again to “be not afraid.” Indeed, we must find within ourselves the faith-filled courage to address the challenges our nation faces, both in our homes and in our national policies. These challenges encompass many areas with various complexities. Here, we offer particular words regarding the issue of the regulation of fire arms, the standards for the entertainment industry, and our service to those with mental health needs.  As religious leaders, we are compelled to call on all Americans, especially elected leaders, to address these issues.

With regard to the regulation of fire arms, first, the intent to protect one’s loved ones is an honorable one, but simply put, guns are too easily accessible. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in their document, “The International Arms Trade (2006),” emphasized the importance of enacting concrete controls on handguns, for example, noting that “limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone.”

Secondly, our entertainers, especially film producers and video game creators, need to realize how their profit motives have allowed the proliferation of movies, television programs, video games and other entertainment that glorify violence and prey on the insecurities and immaturity of our young people. Such portrayals of violence have desensitized all of us. The massacre of twenty little children and seven adults causes each of us to reflect on our own understanding of the value of human life. We must improve our resources for parents, guardians and young people, so that they can evaluate entertainment products intelligently. We need to admit that the viewing and use of these products has negative emotional, psychological and spiritual effects on people.

We must also reflect on our own fears as we grapple with our prejudices toward those with mental health needs. Our society must provide health services and support to those who have mental illnesses and to their families and caregivers. As a community we need to support one another so no one feels unable to get help for a mentally ill family member or neighbor in need. Burdensome healthcare policies must be adjusted so people can get help for themselves or others in need. Just as we properly reach out to those with physical challenges we need to approach mental health concerns with equal sensitivity. There is no shame in seeking help for oneself or others; the only shame is in refusing to provide care and support.

The events in Newtown call us to turn to our Lord in prayer and to witness more profoundly Christ’s perfect love, mercy and compassion. We must confront violence with love.

There are glimmers of hope in this tragedy. Many people, including some of the victims, made extraordinary efforts to protect life. In particular, the teachers, the principal, the children, the first responders and other leaders showed tremendous courage during the tragedy. Some sacrificed their own lives protecting others.

In their memory and for the sake of our nation, we reiterate our call made in 2000, in our statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, for all Americans, especially legislators, to:

  1. Support measures that control the sale and use of firearms
  2. Support measures that make guns safer (especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children and anyone other than the owner)
  3. Call for sensible regulations of handguns
  4. Support legislative efforts that seek to protect society from the violence associated with easy access to deadly weapons including assault weapons
  5. Make a serious commitment to confront the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime.

As we long for the arrival of the Prince of Peace in this Advent and Christmas season, we call on all people of goodwill to help bring about a culture of life and peace.

 

Article source: http://www.cacatholic.org/index.php/news2/usccb/586-us-bishops-call-for-action-in-response-to-newtown-tragedy

US Bishops Call for Action in Response to Newtown Tragedy

US-capital-150WASHINGTON—In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, the chairmen of three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a joint statement to decry violence in society. The bishops repeated the call from Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of USCCB, who expressed on the day of the horrible tragedy, deepest sorrow for all the victims and a call to work for peace in our homes, streets and world. They called on all Americans, especially legislators, to address national policies that will strengthen regulations of firearms and improve access to health care for those with mental health needs.

“As Catholic Bishops, we join together with the President of our Conference, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who on the day of the horrible tragedy expressed his profound solidarity with and prayers for the families, friends, neighbors, and communities whose hearts have been rent by the loss of a child or loved one,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

The bishops are chairmen of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Committee on Communications; and the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, respectively. “Sacred Scripture reminds us time and again to ‘be not afraid.’ Indeed, we must find within ourselves the faith-filled courage to address the challenges our nation faces, both in our homes and in our national policies,” they said.

They also addressed the need for healthcare policies that provide support to people with mental health needs, and called on the entertainment industry to address the proliferation of violence and evaluate its impact in society. 

Full text of the statement follows:

 The Lord Jesus Christ, in his Sermon on the Mount, teaches us, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt 5:4, 9).

In the face of the horrific evil that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, as people of faith we first and foremost turn to God and pray. We pray for those whose lives were robbed from them. As Catholic Bishops, we join together with the President of our Conference, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who on the day of the horrible tragedy expressed his profound solidarity with and prayers for the families, friends, neighbors, and communities whose hearts have been rent by the loss of a child or loved one. No words can capture your suffering. We look to Christ, his words and deeds, and ultimately to his Cross and Resurrection. It is in Jesus that we place our hope.

The Sandy Hook tragedy has caused great anguish for parents and others who attempt to safeguard our children. In addition to the outpouring of prayers and support from around the nation, understandably this tragedy has given rise to discussions about national policies and steps that can be taken to foster a culture that protects the innocent and those most vulnerable among us. It is time for our nation to renew a culture of life in our society.

Sacred Scripture reminds us time and again to “be not afraid.” Indeed, we must find within ourselves the faith-filled courage to address the challenges our nation faces, both in our homes and in our national policies. These challenges encompass many areas with various complexities. Here, we offer particular words regarding the issue of the regulation of fire arms, the standards for the entertainment industry, and our service to those with mental health needs.  As religious leaders, we are compelled to call on all Americans, especially elected leaders, to address these issues.

With regard to the regulation of fire arms, first, the intent to protect one’s loved ones is an honorable one, but simply put, guns are too easily accessible. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in their document, “The International Arms Trade (2006),” emphasized the importance of enacting concrete controls on handguns, for example, noting that “limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone.”

Secondly, our entertainers, especially film producers and video game creators, need to realize how their profit motives have allowed the proliferation of movies, television programs, video games and other entertainment that glorify violence and prey on the insecurities and immaturity of our young people. Such portrayals of violence have desensitized all of us. The massacre of twenty little children and seven adults causes each of us to reflect on our own understanding of the value of human life. We must improve our resources for parents, guardians and young people, so that they can evaluate entertainment products intelligently. We need to admit that the viewing and use of these products has negative emotional, psychological and spiritual effects on people.

We must also reflect on our own fears as we grapple with our prejudices toward those with mental health needs. Our society must provide health services and support to those who have mental illnesses and to their families and caregivers. As a community we need to support one another so no one feels unable to get help for a mentally ill family member or neighbor in need. Burdensome healthcare policies must be adjusted so people can get help for themselves or others in need. Just as we properly reach out to those with physical challenges we need to approach mental health concerns with equal sensitivity. There is no shame in seeking help for oneself or others; the only shame is in refusing to provide care and support.

The events in Newtown call us to turn to our Lord in prayer and to witness more profoundly Christ’s perfect love, mercy and compassion. We must confront violence with love.

There are glimmers of hope in this tragedy. Many people, including some of the victims, made extraordinary efforts to protect life. In particular, the teachers, the principal, the children, the first responders and other leaders showed tremendous courage during the tragedy. Some sacrificed their own lives protecting others.

In their memory and for the sake of our nation, we reiterate our call made in 2000, in our statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, for all Americans, especially legislators, to:

  1. Support measures that control the sale and use of firearms
  2. Support measures that make guns safer (especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children and anyone other than the owner)
  3. Call for sensible regulations of handguns
  4. Support legislative efforts that seek to protect society from the violence associated with easy access to deadly weapons including assault weapons
  5. Make a serious commitment to confront the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime.

As we long for the arrival of the Prince of Peace in this Advent and Christmas season, we call on all people of goodwill to help bring about a culture of life and peace.

 

Article source: http://www.cacatholic.org/index.php/news2/usccb/586-us-bishops-call-for-action-in-response-to-newtown-tragedy

Pennsylvania to join federal exchange; impact on abortion issue unclear

The news of Pennsylvania opting out of its own state exchange was covered by Catholic News Service:

“PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced Dec. 12 that the state would not set up its own health insurance exchange and instead join the federal exchange, which will cover elective abortions.

Just how the decision will impact such issues as abortion was not totally clear.”

Read the entire article here. 

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/pennsylvania-to-join-federal-exchange-impact-on-abortion-issue-unclear/

Protect People and Families Striving to Live in Dignity from the “Fiscal Cliff”

Tell your senators and representative that programs serving working poor families must be protected from the “fiscal cliff.” In discussing the various proposals, programs that help families escape poverty and live in dignity should be strengthened.

Congressional leaders and President Obama continue to discuss a budget package to avoid the “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year by replacing automatic tax increases as well as across the board spending cuts put in place last year. They are dealing with big numbers and important questions, however the record number of people living in poverty, and the millions more looking for decent work, should receive priority consideration.

Last week, Bishop Stephen Blaire, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Richard Pates Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote to Congress calling on Congress to avoid the “fiscal cliff” with a bipartisan and balanced agreement that raises adequate revenue and protects programs that serve families living in poverty. Read the letter HERE.

Click here to read more and to take action by contacting your elected officials!

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/protect-people-and-families-striving-to-live-in-dignity-from-the-fiscal-cliff/

Saturday Mourning

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

I woke up the day after the Connecticut elementary school massacre with literal tears in my eyes.  I had dreamt of the shootings, and my grief was palpable.

I peeked in on my one “baby,” asleep in his bed, safely home from college for Christmas break. I called the second one, who lives away from home, just to hear his voice.

For a full day I had listened to the journalists, politicians and talking heads analyze, scrutinize and pick apart every little detail of the destruction, (despite the fact that so many details were unknown.) I heard one CNN reporter argue fiercely for action on gun control measures so that she wouldn’t be “standing in front of a camera three weeks from now at another tragedy.”

Did she really think it was that simple? That one or two public policy changes would be the magic potion to prevent future horrors? Would it be lesser access to guns? Greater access to treatment for mental illness? Would a reduction in violence on video games be the quick fix?

While we surely need to look at all of these important issues, I suspect that the changes needed are much bigger than the passage of a new law; it’s a cultural change that we need.  I hate to be a one-note Kathy, but what our society is lacking is fundamental respect for human life. We need to model the virtues of respect, love, generosity, and selflessness. We need standards, ethics, family, and God…in the home, in the workplace, and in the classroom.

I pondered these thoughts as I continued my Saturday morning errands. Perhaps it was my imagination, but parents seemed to be holding their children closer, check-out cashiers seemed friendlier, drivers more courteous.

I think that’s a good start.

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Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2012/12/saturday-mourning/

Saturday Mourning

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

I woke up the day after the Connecticut elementary school massacre with literal tears in my eyes.  I had dreamt of the shootings, and my grief was palpable.

I peeked in on my one “baby,” asleep in his bed, safely home from college for Christmas break. I called the second one, who lives away from home, just to hear his voice.

For a full day I had listened to the journalists, politicians and talking heads analyze, scrutinize and pick apart every little detail of the destruction, (despite the fact that so many details were unknown.) I heard one CNN reporter argue fiercely for action on gun control measures so that she wouldn’t be “standing in front of a camera three weeks from now at another tragedy.”

Did she really think it was that simple? That one or two public policy changes would be the magic potion to prevent future horrors? Would it be lesser access to guns? Greater access to treatment for mental illness? Would a reduction in violence on video games be the quick fix?

While we surely need to look at all of these important issues, I suspect that the changes needed are much bigger than the passage of a new law; it’s a cultural change that we need.  I hate to be a one-note Kathy, but what our society is lacking is fundamental respect for human life. We need to model the virtues of respect, love, generosity, and selflessness. We need standards, ethics, family, and God…in the home, in the workplace, and in the classroom.

I pondered these thoughts as I continued my Saturday morning errands. Perhaps it was my imagination, but parents seemed to be holding their children closer, check-out cashiers seemed friendlier, drivers more courteous.

I think that’s a good start.

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Saturday Mourning

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

I woke up the day after the Connecticut elementary school massacre with literal tears in my eyes.  I had dreamt of the shootings, and my grief was palpable.

I peeked in on my one “baby,” asleep in his bed, safely home from college for Christmas break. I called the second one, who lives away from home, just to hear his voice.

For a full day I had listened to the journalists, politicians and talking heads analyze, scrutinize and pick apart every little detail of the destruction, (despite the fact that so many details were unknown.) I heard one CNN reporter argue fiercely for action on gun control measures so that she wouldn’t be “standing in front of a camera three weeks from now at another tragedy.”

Did she really think it was that simple? That one or two public policy changes would be the magic potion to prevent future horrors? Would it be lesser access to guns? Greater access to treatment for mental illness? Would a reduction in violence on video games be the quick fix?

While we surely need to look at all of these important issues, I suspect that the changes needed are much bigger than the passage of a new law; it’s a cultural change that we need.  I hate to be a one-note Kathy, but what our society is lacking is fundamental respect for human life. We need to model the virtues of respect, love, generosity, and selflessness. We need standards, ethics, family, and God…in the home, in the workplace, and in the classroom.

I pondered these thoughts as I continued my Saturday morning errands. Perhaps it was my imagination, but parents seemed to be holding their children closer, check-out cashiers seemed friendlier, drivers more courteous.

I think that’s a good start.

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Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2012/12/saturday-mourning/

Bishops Urge Catholics To Pray For Life, Marriage, Religious Liberty

The U.S. Catholic bishops have launched a pastoral strategy addressing critical life, marriage and religious liberty concerns. The five-part strategy or call to prayer was approved by the bishops in November and is set to begin after Christmas. The overall focus is to invite Catholics to pray for rebuilding a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections of religious liberty.

Campaign components include monthly Eucharistic holy hours in cathedrals and parishes, daily family rosary, special Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses, fasting and abstinence on Fridays, and the second observance of a Fortnight for Freedom.

Read more here and watch for local events in your area.

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/bishops-urge-catholics-to-pray-for-life-marriage-religious-liberty/

Bishops Urge Catholics To Pray For Life, Marriage, Religious Liberty

The U.S. Catholic bishops have launched a pastoral strategy addressing critical life, marriage and religious liberty concerns. The five-part strategy or call to prayer was approved by the bishops in November and is set to begin after Christmas. The overall focus is to invite Catholics to pray for rebuilding a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections of religious liberty.

Campaign components include monthly Eucharistic holy hours in cathedrals and parishes, daily family rosary, special Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses, fasting and abstinence on Fridays, and the second observance of a Fortnight for Freedom.

Read more here and watch for local events in your area.

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/bishops-urge-catholics-to-pray-for-life-marriage-religious-liberty/

Bishops Urge Catholics To Pray For Life, Marriage, Religious Liberty

The U.S. Catholic bishops have launched a pastoral strategy addressing critical life, marriage and religious liberty concerns. The five-part strategy or call to prayer was approved by the bishops in November and is set to begin after Christmas. The overall focus is to invite Catholics to pray for rebuilding a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections of religious liberty.

Campaign components include monthly Eucharistic holy hours in cathedrals and parishes, daily family rosary, special Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses, fasting and abstinence on Fridays, and the second observance of a Fortnight for Freedom.

Read more here and watch for local events in your area.

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/bishops-urge-catholics-to-pray-for-life-marriage-religious-liberty/

Send a Message In Support of a Pro-Life Insurance Exchange

In consultation with the USCCB and other pro-life groups after yesterday’s announcement, it appears that a legislative remedy can be found to assure that the federally administered insurance exchange can exclude elective abortion coverage.

Access to health care remains a priority concern for Catholics, but no health insurance program should include coverage of abortion.  Simply put, pregnancy is not a disease and elective abortion is not health care.

The PCC will continue to monitor the developments on this issue and will post updates as they are available. Please click here to send a message to your representatives in support of legislation that removes taxpayer funded abortions from health insurance exchanges.

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/send-a-message-in-support-of-a-pro-life-insurance-exchange/

Pennsylvania will not set up state health exchange

Governor Corbett announced this afternoon that Pennsylvania will not set up its own health insurance exchanges under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  In his statement, the governor said, “Healthcare reform is too important to be achieved through haphazard planning. Pennsylvania taxpayers and businesses deserve more. They deserve informed decision making and a strong plan that responsibly uses taxpayer dollars.”

The Catholic Church has long and consistently advocated for the reform of the American health care system. Access to health care is fundamental and necessary for human dignity. Yet concerns raised during the health care reform debate about conscience protection and coverage of elective abortion are not resolved. Without a state exchange, Pennsylvanians who qualify will be enrolled in the federal exchange, which will cover elective abortions. PCC, with other pro-life organizations, will explore every option to avoid the federal elective abortion provision.

If Pennsylvania had created its own exchange, it would have been able to opt out of this abortion coverage.  As Pennsylvanians work with the state and federal government to address issues of cost and flexibility, we must also be concerned about taxpayers supporting the flawed and damaging idea that elective abortions are basic health care.

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/governor-corbett-will-not-set-up-state-health-exchange/

Archbishop Cordileone Calls Supreme Court Decision to Hear Marriage Cases Significant Moment for Nation

cordileoneDecember 7, 2012 – WASHINGTON—Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, responded to today’s U. S. Supreme Court decision to hear the case challenging California’s Proposition 8 and a case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear these cases is a significant moment for our nation,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “I pray the Court will affirm the fact that the institution of marriage, which is as old as humanity and written in our very nature, is the union of one man and one woman. Marriage is the foundation of a just society, as it protects the most vulnerable among us, children.  It is the only institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers together. We pray for the Court, that its deliberations may be guided by truth and justice so as to uphold marriage’s true meaning and purpose,” Archbishop Cordileone said.

In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 8, which defines marriage in California’s State Constitution as the union of one man and one woman. DOMA, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for purposes of federal law. A decision by the Supreme Court is expected by next June.  Depending on the Court’s ruling, there could be ramifications for marriage laws throughout the country.

Earlier this week the bishops issued a Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty as part of a pastoral response for the protection of life, marriage and liberty. Information is available at www.usccb.org/life-marriage-liberty.

Article source: http://www.cacatholic.org/index.php/issues2/family-life/marriage-public-policy/581-archbishop-cordileone-calls-supreme-court-decision-to-hear-marriage-cases-significant-moment-for-nation

Update on Death Penalty Cases In PA

Hundreds of you have sent emails to the PA Board of Pardons and the Governor about the death penalty in recent months. You can send another message here.  

Here is an update on the pending capital cases:

1)      Terrance Williams:  On September 28, 2012, Common Pleas Court Judge Sarmina ordered a stay of execution and granted the defense request for a new sentencing hearing.  The prosecution filed an emergency petition with the Pa. Supreme Court to vacate the stay.  The Pa. Supreme  Court denied the emergency petition and ordered a briefing schedule to be set.  Currently, there are consolidated appeals filed by the prosecutors to vacate Judge Sarmina’s order which are pending before the Pa. Supreme Court.  To date, the Supreme Court has not set a briefing schedule in the appeals. There is no pending execution warrant for Mr. Williams.

2)      Hubert Michael:  On November 7, 2012, Federal District Court Judge Jones denied Michael’s request to reopen his federal appeal and denied the motion for a stay of execution.  On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit granted Michael’s request for a stay of execution and remanded the case to Judge Jones to address a technical matter related to the appeal issues.  By order dated November 19, 2012, Judge Jones addressed the appeal issues discrepancy and the case was returned to the Third Circuit.  According to the Third Circuit, it will be issuing “an expedited briefing schedule” to address Michael’s appeal issues, but to date no such schedule has been published. There is no pending execution warrant for Mr. Michael.

3)      Mark Spotz:  Execution date – January 8, 2013.  Spotz’ direct and State post-conviction collateral appeals have been exhausted.  However, according to his attorneys, he has never been afforded any federal review of his conviction and death sentence.  On November 14, 2012, Spotz’ attorneys filed a motion for a stay of execution in Federal District Court to allow time to file a federal habeas corpus petition.  To date, the prosecution has not responded to the defense motion.

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/update-on-death-penalty-cases-in-pa/

Pro-life talk slider

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

The post-election suggestion by some in the Republican Party that the GOP pro-life plank be dropped from the platform is more than misguided…it’s just plain wrong.  All pro-life politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, need to stay the course; to continue to walk the pro-life walk. Their votes are critical to changing policies and saving lives.

But just as critical is “talking the pro-life talk,” and on that, politicians could learn to be more effective. Public opinion polls continue to show that Americans are trending more and more pro-life, and that a good number stand somewhere in the mushy middle on abortion. Here’s how to appeal to them:

  • Say what you’re for, not what you’re against. You are for life, for maternal health, for the protection of children, for the ethical integrity of medicine, for parental rights, for families…need I go on?
  • Strive for balance and reason. Abortion is out of control in our society and common- sense regulations will help reign it back in. Large majorities of the public will agree with you when you advocate for parental notification, informed consent, limits on late-term abortion and taxpayer funding of the procedure.
  • Show how you are trying to reduce the tragedy.  Abortion is not good for women, children or families. Government should be working to reduce the pain, heartache and long-term repercussions.
  • Accept incremental advances. Rape is also a tragedy, a horrific wound on an innocent woman. She deserves compassionate care in order to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Abortion compounds her wounds with yet another injury. But there’s a difference between what you think of abortion in the case of rape, and what realistically can be achieved through public policy changes. Outlawing (or eliminating funding of) abortion with exceptions for cases of reported rape, incest and life of the mother would outlaw (or eliminate funding of) 98% of all abortions. While this falls short of the Church’s teaching regarding the sacredness and dignity of every human life, nevertheless, it is still a giant step in the right direction.
  • Support and highlight policies that provide real choices to pregnant women like prenatal care, family and medical leave, quality child care, parenting education, adoption subsidies and the like. Empower women and enable them to bear their children and raise their families with dignity.

It’s not rocket science. It’s a simple reframing of the message.

Effectively talking the pro-life talk is vital. It will persuade others to do so, help build consensus, change hearts and minds, and ultimately shape the future of our culture.

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Talking the pro-life talk

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

The post-election suggestion by some in the Republican Party that the GOP pro-life plank be dropped from the platform is more than misguided…it’s just plain wrong.  All pro-life politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, need to stay the course; to continue to walk the pro-life walk. Their votes are critical to changing policies and saving lives.

But just as critical is “talking the pro-life talk,” and on that, politicians could learn to be more effective. Public opinion polls continue to show that Americans are trending more and more pro-life, and that a good number stand somewhere in the mushy middle on abortion. Here’s how to appeal to them:

  • Say what you’re for, not what you’re against. You are for life, for maternal health, for the protection of children, for the ethical integrity of medicine, for parental rights, for families…need I go on?
  • Strive for balance and reason. Abortion is out of control in our society and common- sense regulations will help reign it back in. Large majorities of the public will agree with you when you advocate for parental notification, informed consent, limits on late-term abortion and taxpayer funding of the procedure.
  • Show how you are trying to reduce the tragedy.  Abortion is not good for women, children or families. Government should be working to reduce the pain, heartache and long-term repercussions.
  • Accept incremental advances. Rape is also a tragedy, a horrific wound on an innocent woman. She deserves compassionate care in order to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Abortion compounds her wounds with yet another injury. But there’s a difference between what you think of abortion in the case of rape, and what realistically can be achieved through public policy changes. Outlawing (or eliminating funding of) abortion with exceptions for cases of reported rape, incest and life of the mother would outlaw (or eliminate funding of) 98% of all abortions. While this falls short of the Church’s teaching regarding the sacredness and dignity of every human life, nevertheless, it is still a giant step in the right direction.
  • Support and highlight policies that provide real choices to pregnant women like prenatal care, family and medical leave, quality child care, parenting education, adoption subsidies and the like. Empower women and enable them to bear their children and raise their families with dignity.

It’s not rocket science. It’s a simple reframing of the message.

Effectively talking the pro-life talk is vital. It will persuade others to do so, help build consensus, change hearts and minds, and ultimately shape the future of our culture.

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Bishop Zubik on Lawsuit Dismissal

The lawsuit filed by the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Inc. and the Catholic Cemeteries Association of Pittsburgh against the Department of Health and Human Services mandate that threatens religious freedom was “dismissed without prejudice” by U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry on November 27. Bishop David Zubik issued the following statement:

While I am disappointed in the ruling that our lawsuit cannot proceed at this time based on the very narrow argument that we allegedly have no real damages yet from the Health and Human Services mandate, I am very encouraged that it was “dismissed without prejudice.” That means that we have every right to file again in the future.

We will now await in good faith the accommodation to religious freedom that the federal government has claimed it will offer. However, we must all be aware that no modification to the original HHS mandate in regard to religious freedom has yet been made.

Other courts have reached differing conclusions in the challenges to the HHS mandate, so this remains fluid. I do want to make clear, however, that we cannot and will not negotiate away our constitutional rights to religious freedom and religious expression.

Learn more here.

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/bishop-zubik-on-lawsuit-dismissal/

PA Task Force on Child Protection Applauded for Its Examination of Child Protection Laws

The Task Force on Child Protection, which was created by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Governor Tom Corbett, has issued a report recommending several changes to the existing laws governing child abuse.

“The task force’s recommendations call for what is essentially a complete rewriting of the Child Protective Services Law – such as redefining and clarifying what constitutes child abuse itself, and expanding the list of those who are required to report child abuse to Pennsylvania’s ChildLine,” said Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, chairman of the task force. The report also calls for upgrading some crimes and adding new offenses, transforming the way information about child abuse is handled and maintained, how crimes are investigated, and how people who are responsible for the wellbeing of children are trained.

Suspected abuse can be reported to ChildLine 24 hours a day and seven days a week at 1-800-932-0313.

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) commended the 11-member task force for its thorough examination of the laws and procedures designed to protect children from abuse. PCC said it would review the task force report and support recommendations that strengthen reporting, screening and educational requirements for adults who interact with children.

The Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania have for some time required training and extensive background checks for both employees and volunteers who have substantial contact with minors. The Church has trained hundreds of thousands of adults engaged in Church ministries about creating a safe environment for children.

Specifically, the Church trains those who have substantial contact with children to recognize signs of abuse and to understand their responsibility to take action if abuse is suspected. Students also receive instruction in age-appropriate child abuse awareness programs. Many of the stringent reporting and training requirements were implemented following the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which examined child abuse in the Church.

Several Pennsylvania dioceses and other Catholic organizations submitted written comments to the task force in support of tougher mandatory reporting laws, less red tape for background checks and more awareness of child abuse prevention.

In addition to contributing to the task force process, the PCC supported legislation sponsored by Sen. Pat Vance of Cumberland County that requires school employees and independent contractors to provide training on child abuse recognition and reporting to their employees who have direct contact with children. The bill was signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett.

Click here for more information about victim assistance and child protection efforts in Pennsylvania’s Catholic dioceses

 

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/pa-task-force-on-child-protection-applauded-for-its-examination-of-child-protection-laws/

VIDEO: Careless Cuts Cost Lives

U.S. poverty-focused international assistance saves lives worldwide. But some in Congress propose significant cuts to this lifesaving aid to address our nation’s deficit even though it makes up less than 1% of the U.S. budget. Send a message to your elected officials here.

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/video-careless-cuts-cost-lives/

Give thanks, then work even harder

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

I opened the newspaper on Thanksgiving morning to read that the US abortion rate had dropped by 5%, the largest single-year decrease in a decade, according to the CDC. The abortion numbers, rates and ratios all decreased. Truly, something for which we give thanks! Less abortion = less women harmed, less children destroyed, less families shattered.

Of course, the CDC statistics are surveying a drop from 2008 to 2009, not exactly current numbers. Here in New York State, our numbers are a bit more up-to-date (2010), and, praise God, we also see a continued decrease in abortions from year to year.

But the New York numbers are still out of control and way out of line.  The CDC reports the national abortion ratio at 227 abortions per 1,000 live births. Sadly, New York is at 458 abortions per 1,000 live births, with some counties (like the Bronx at 885 abortions per 1,000 live births) recording breathtakingly unacceptable ratios. And when you consider that many abortions go unreported, especially at unlicensed clinics, the numbers are likely higher.

Today’s newspaper reports that the American Academy of Pediatrics’ now recommends that all adolescents be counseled about the availability and use of emergency contraception such as Plan B. Sorry, doctors. I fear such a policy will be moving the abortion numbers in the wrong direction, as study after study confirms that greater access to contraception, (particularly emergency contraception,) does not reduce unintended pregnancies or abortions (See this fact sheet.)

Nope, it’s going to take a bit more work than just telling kids where to get pills. We need to rededicate ourselves to educating young people about the awesome gift of human sexuality, the importance of self-respect, the wonder of creation and the value of each and every unrepeatable human life.

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Obituary for Henry J. Aschenbrenner

Henry J. Aschenbrenner, a long-time Director of Education and Deputy Executive Director, passed away on Thursday, November 15.

During his 28-year career at PCC, Henry achieved numerous victories for Pennsylvania’s nonpublic school students including bus transportation, textbooks, instructional materials and services. He was a tireless advocate for school vouchers and paved the way for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.

Henry was a founding member of the REACH Alliance and received the organization’s initial Founders’ Award in January 2010. He served as chairman of the State Education Advisory Counsel. He was awarded the Distinguished Graduate Award at Central Catholic High School and was inducted into the Philadelphia Hall of Fame for Distinguished Graduates.

Read more here, and keep Henry and his family in your prayers!

Eternal rest, grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/obituary-for-henry-j-aschenbrenner/