Christmas Blessings


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Article source: http://ndcatholic.org/latestnews/?p=1780

Merry Christmas!

CCC Christmas Card 2013

Article source: http://www.cacatholic.org/index.php/component/content/article/77-linked-articles-and-directories/775-merry-christmas

Measure to Protect Women and Children Moves One Step Closer to Becoming Law

Among the many atrocities revealed at Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s “House of Horrors” abortion clinic was that several of his staff members represented themselves as doctors although they had no medical training. A woman died and seven newborn babies were killed by infanticide in Dr. Gosnell’s abortion clinic. He is now serving three consecutive life sentences in prison for his role in the deaths.

This week the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed House Bill 587 to increase the penalty for those who commit the crime of impersonating a doctor. State Representative Matt Baker (R-Bradford, Tioga), prime sponsor of the bill, said, “Those in the medical profession are generally highly respected and trusted individuals whom people seek out when they are sick, vulnerable and looking for help. It is unconscionable that a person, for whatever reason, would pretend to be a doctor.” The legislation now moves to the state Senate.

Baker Bill Increases Penalties for Those Impersonating a Doctor,” press release – December 17, 2013

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/measure-to-protect-women-and-children-moves-one-step-closer-to-becoming-law/

Come Home at Christmas

 

 

 

To learn more about Archbishop Soroka’s request to invite friends and family back to Church at Christmas, click here.Christmas-Message--Soroka

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/come-home-at-christmas/

Sexual orientation bill could ‘coerce’ Catholic institutions

From the Catholic News Agency:

Harrisburg, Pa., Dec 13, 2013 / 02:19 am (CNA).- Legislation introduced in Pennsylvania to prevent discrimination could end up prohibiting Catholic schools from requiring teachers to abide by Catholic teaching, religious freedom advocates in the state are warning.

“The Church has been precise, in its moral teachings, in distinguishing between sexual orientation and sexual behavior. It has condemned all forms of hostility to any individual on the basis of her or his actual or perceived sexual orientation,” Amy B. Hill, communications director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, told CNA on Dec. 11.

“However, the Church also teaches that sexual activity between persons of the same gender cannot be reconciled with its beliefs and doctrines. It similarly does not condone heterosexual relations outside of marriage.”

A proposed Pennsylvania bill to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation fails to make this distinction, she said.

Read the entire article here.

Send a message to your legislators in support of religious freedom. 

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/sexual-orientation-bill-could-coerce-catholic-institutions/

“Somebody was with him when he went into eternity”

mercy-UPMCwebIn Pittsburgh, over 30 volunteers staff the No One Dies Alone program. Read more about it in this Pittsburgh Catholic article:

If ever an image of love pierces one’s heart, it is probably that of Mary at the cross as her son was dying. At UPMC Mercy, there is a prayerful vigil with the dying in the No One Dies Alone program.

“Only God knows when somebody is going to die. We don’t ever have it that precise. It can be challenging to anticipate the time. The role of this program is to attend the dying while they are here at UPMC Mercy when the family is not available,” said Denise Verosky, director of supportive and palliative care and a registered nurse of 35 years, who introduced the first program in Pittsburgh to the hospital.

In 2008, Verosky became interested in the program after a colleague shared an article on No One Dies Alone in a nursing journal written by the founder, Sandra Clarke, a nurse at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, Ore.

“Sandra’s story inspired me,” Verosky said. “Patients are dying all the time in acute-care hospitals. When a dying patient asked Clarke, ‘Will you stay with me?’ her answer was typical — ‘As soon as I check on all my patients.’ When she came back, his arm was outstretched and he had died.” Clarke went to the ethics committee, wrote a proposal and established No One Dies Alone.

“No nurse wants to abandon a dying person,” Verosky said. “But their job responsibilities pull them away. It’s morally difficult for nurses not to be there.”

While working on a project in palliative care at Edinboro University and performing clinical hours with Mercy Sister Diane Matje, former director of palliative care, Verosky met with the mission council at the hospital to begin the planning process for No One Dies Alone.

Phyllis Grasser, vice president of mission effectiveness and spiritual care, chaired the council and was involved with the implementation and start-up of the program in September 2010. Two additional members were added to the team: Maureen Kurp, a volunteer vigil coordinator, and Camillian Father Albie Schempp, a hospital chaplain.

Currently, 30 volunteers from diverse faiths and backgrounds are “on call” as compassionate companions.

Vigils are not to exceed two to three hours for each companion. So far, some 50 people have been assisted since the program’s inception.

Permission is obtained from family members to provide the program. Volunteers carry a comfort case for use in the patient’s private room that contains flameless candles, rosaries, prayer cards, Bibles and prayer books for different denominations, and an iPod speaker system for instrumental Christian music. There are no efforts to baptize, evangelize or proselytize patients.

The words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta convey the essence of the program: “No one should die alone … Each human should die with the sight of a loving face.”

Read the entire article here.

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/somebody-was-with-him-when-he-went-into-eternity/

As legislative session looms, we need your support

Published on December 13th, 2013

rickbarnesThis Sunday, as we light the rose candle on the Advent wreaths in our homes and churches, we will have a visual reminder that Christmas is drawing ever closer. We look ahead to the birth of a baby in a manger, the incarnation of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is proper that we pause in silent wonder at this loving gift from our heavenly Father.

At the same time, here at the New York State Catholic Conference, we must also look ahead, to the New Year and a new legislative session in Albany. This past year, thanks largely to your advocacy with your legislators, we defeated an insidious proposal pushed by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League designed to dramatically expand late-term abortion here and to lower medical standards for women seeking abortions by allowing non-physicians to perform them. While we were victorious, it was a narrow win, with only one vote in the state Senate keeping this bill from becoming law. The abortion groups, which have a financial stake in pushing for as many abortions as possible, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to date in their attempt to get it passed, and they have pledged to fight just as hard in the coming session. We can never match their financial resources, but with the power of prayer and the united voices of Catholics and other pro-life New Yorkers across the state, we are confident we can hold it off again.

At the same time, we will continue our efforts to enact passage of an Education Investment Tax Credit, to promote donations to scholarship funds for children in our Catholic schools and all schools in the state. We see this bill as critical to easing the financial burden faced by our tuition-paying parents, and we are getting closer than ever to victory. We will fight too for increased funding for programs that help people who are living in poverty as well as those who are old, infirm, mentally ill or otherwise vulnerable.

To be successful in these efforts, it is imperative that we have the resources to continue to educate Catholic citizens on these issues so that they can take action with their elected officials. We do this through our Catholic Action Network, which sends you alerts and information updates throughout the year, and through our annual Catholics at the Capitol event with the New York State Bishops, to be held on Wednesday, March 19.

Would you please consider a tax-deductible contribution at this time to help us with these important efforts? We hope to ramp up our network activities more than ever, but we need your help. Any amount, whether $5, $50 or $500, will be so valuable to us, the official public policy voice of Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the New York State Bishops.

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We are so grateful for your support and your prayers. May God grant you a Merry Christmas and a most blessed New Year.

Very Truly Yours in Christ,

Rick's signature cropped

 

 

 

Richard E. Barnes
Executive Director

P.S. Whether or not you can send a gift, please send any special prayer intentions you may have to prayerintentions@nyscatholic.org, and we will share with our Bishops so they can remember them at Mass.r
New York State Catholic Conference

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2013/12/as-legislative-session-looms-we-need-your-support/

ND Attorney General: No Such Thing as “Same-Sex Marriage” in North Dakota

(1) A person legally entering into a same-sex marriage in another state can come to North Dakota and enter into a valid (traditional) marriage with another person without dissolving the earlier same-sex marriage;

(2) The person would not commit perjury by declaring that he or she was never previously married.

Although the attorney general declined to answer whether such a situated person who then married in North Dakota would be committing bigamy according to the laws of another state. By implication, however, it would seem that he or she would not be committing bigamy according to the laws of North Dakota.

The opinion is an important affirmation of North Dakota’s recognition of marriage as only between one man and one woman.

Article source: http://ndcatholic.org/latestnews/?p=1775

HHS Mandate and Religious Liberty

Regular visitors have read a lot about the way the HHS mandate impacts religious employers, like Catholic charities, hospitals and colleges. But what about small business owners who have religious objections to the mandate that says they must pay for contraception, sterilization and abortion causing drugs?

A recent letter to the editor in the Harrisburg’s The Patriot News tells that story, “Forcing business owners to pay for employees’ abortions or other insensate procedures violates Americans’ rights to religious freedom. The nation’s founders did not exclude millions of individuals from religious freedom just because they worked in companies.” Read the entire letter here.

And send a message in support of religious freedom by clicking here.

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/hhs-mandate-and-religious-liberty/

Education Bills Kick Off 2014 Legislative Hearings

 school-bus kid150The California Catholic Conference continues to advocate for the equitable access to a quality education for all California school children. Very early in 2014, two bills will be heard to increase support for students attending public, independent, and faith-based schools through the use of proven tax policy employed in many other states.

SB 693 (Correa, D-Santa Ana) and AB 943 (Nestande, R-Palm Desert) address K-12 education needs by creating education tax credits or deductions that support parents and teachers in caring for their own school children’s learning needs and that encourage greater charitable contributions to expand local resources in K-12 education.

These bills will be the subject of an Action Alert during the first week of the year. They were both part of last year’s Catholic Advocacy Day efforts.

The equitable access principle also extends to students in high school and postsecondary learning. Two additional bills which we are supporting, SB 284 and SB 285 (De Leon, D-Los Angeles), will be re-introduced when the Legislature convenes. These measures would increase the Cal Grant B Access Award amount for California’s lowest income students. They aim to improve graduation rates through the use of state corporate tax credits that leverage federal tax deductions for charitable contributions.

The language of both SB 693 and AB 943 is being modified prior to their respective hearings but you can read a summary here.

 

Article source: http://www.cacatholic.org/index.php/issues2/education/771-education-bills-kick-off-2014-legislative-hearings

Bishop Pates Welcomes Pope Francis’ First World Day of Peace Message

Pope highlights fraternity as ‘foundation and pathway’ to peace Cites excessive inequality, ‘globalization of indifference’ as threats to peace Urges all people to engage in dialogue, regard one another as brothers and sisters

Pope Francis’ first message for World Day of Peace offers a profound challenge to all people to see each other’s humanity and pursue dialogue and peace over war and conflict, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace. Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, welcomed the release of “Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace,� December 12.

“Pope Francis offers a message both simple and profound: when we fail to recognize other people as our brothers and sisters, we destroy each other and ourselves,� Bishop Pates said. “This challenges everyone from governments and corporations to individuals and families in the course of our daily lives.�

“In God’s family, where all are sons and daughters of the same Father,� Pope Francis wrote, “there are no ‘disposable lives.’� The pope drew on the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis to illustrate that “we have an inherent calling to fraternity, but also the tragic capacity to betray that calling.�

The pope listed war, globalization, threats to religious freedom, human trafficking, economic disparity and abuses of the financial system as examples of fraternity breaking down and leading to violence against people

“In disagreements, which are an unavoidable part of life, we should always remember that we are brothers and sisters, and therefore teach others and teach ourselves not to consider our neighbor as an enemy or as an adversary to be eliminated,� the pope wrote. “Give up the way of arms and go out to meet the other in dialogue, pardon and reconciliation, in order to rebuild justice, trust, and hope around you!�

The Vatican has posted the message, dated January 1, 2014, the celebration of World Day of Peace, online: www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/messages/peace/documents/papa-francesco_20131208_messaggio-xlvii-giornata-mondiale-pace-2014_en.html

Article source: http://ndcatholic.org/latestnews/?p=1773

Which is more dangerous: tanning or abortion?

Published on December 11th, 2013

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

Today the New York City Board of Health voted to assume regulatory control over tanning salons. City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley called the practice of indoor tanning “unnecessarily dangerous.” So, since the city has no power to ban the salons, they are going to vigorously enforce the health and safety standards on the books: cracking down on unlicensed shops; requiring operators to undergo training; ensuring there are adequate warning signs and eye-ware for patrons; and certifying that no one under 17 years old gets inside (that’s state law.)tanning salon

All good. I have no beef with any of it. But come on! When was the last time New York City did anything about the unlicensed abortion clinics all over the five boroughs? Shouldn’t abortion facilities be held accountable to at least the same standards as tanning salons to protect the health and safety of women? Are routine inspections ever done to ensure trained staff, sanitary conditions, emergency back-up, and overall patient well-being?

The murder convictions against Philadelphia late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell earlier this year should give us all pause. Gosnell blatantly disregarded the law, preyed on indigent women who were in their final weeks of pregnancy, and callously killed at least one woman and three babies born alive in his abortion mill. The grand jury report on his actions indicated that his abortion facility was not inspected in 17 years, and that the reason for this was purely political: administration officials concluded that inspections would be “putting up barriers to women seeking abortion.”

C’mon, New York City, we are better than that, aren’t we? Please, please enforce the law, inspect the clinics, provide necessary oversight, and safeguard vulnerable women.

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Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2013/12/which-is-more-dangerous-tanning-or-abortion/

Our Lady of Guadalupe and Immigration

GuadalupewebTomorrow, December 12, is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Also called the “Patroness of the Americas,” this feast of the Blessed Mother   provides us with an opportunity to focus on our shared Catholic identity, regardless of our national origins.

In their pastoral letter Strangers No Longer (SNL) the Catholic bishops of the United States and Mexico noted that “under the light of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the littlest of her children, who were as powerless as most migrants are today, our continent’s past and present receive new meaning. It was St. Juan Diego whom our  Mother asked to build a temple so in it she could show her love, compassion, aid, and defense to all her children, especially the least among them. Since then, in her Basilica  and beyond its walls, she has brought all the people of America to celebrate at the table of the Lord, where all his children may partake of and enjoy the unity of the continent in the diversity of its peoples, languages and cultures” (SNL, #20).

The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering whether to address immigration reform legislation that can provide significant relief to potentially millions of people and their families. Now is a critical time to contact your House members and urge them to pass common sense immigration reform.

On this Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, you can join the U.S. bishops  and other Catholics in this effort by clicking here to send a message to your member of Congress, asking him or her to pass just and compassionate immigration reform legislation.

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/our-lady-of-guadalupe-and-immigration/

Court Proceeding to be Streamed

Tomorrow, December 11, at 9:00 a.m. the North Dakota Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a very important case on abortion and women’s safety.  The proceedings will be streamed over the internet.  For more information go to: http://www.ndcourts.gov/court/webcasts.htm

Article source: http://ndcatholic.org/latestnews/?p=1769

Reflections on Pope Francis’ Leadership Style

francis-wavePope Francis is both an effective preacher of the Gospel and also is non-judgmental, in the view of Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire.

Bishop Blaire reflected on the Pope’s leadership as part of a leadership class at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga.

Blaire identified three strengths of the Pontiff that make him a strong leader.

“First, he’s speaking a language that people can understand, very much in tune with the Gospel.”

Citing the Pope’s recent apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel) Bishop Blaire said “I’ve never seen a papal document before where the Pope speaks so personally: ‘here’s something that pains me’ or ‘here’s something that gives me joy.’”

Bishop Blaire continued “If we are going to communicate the Gospel we have to speak the language of the people,”

“Second, he speaks from experience. He knows the street life of Buenos Aires; he knows the pain of people; he knows their experiences.”

“The Pope certainly has that. He is able to take the truths of our faith and bring them down to our everyday experiences.

“Third, he is simply bringing his own authentic understanding of the Gospel” into contemporary life, as did the prophets and writers of the Bible who “brought their prophetic message into the situation in which they lived.”

Reflecting how Pope Francis’ style is impacting him, Bishop Blaire said “It is saying to me: am I exercising my ministry in a way that really communicates to people? that really brings the love of God to touch their lives in a very real way?

“What the Pope is trying to get at is that you put the ethical and moral teachings in a context. The overriding context is of the love of God, the compassion of God, the dignity of the human person, the value of the other person.

“And he makes the point that we have moral standards, but that does not give you the right to judge a person. Only God can judge a person.

“But that does not mean we don’t have accountability and responsibility for what we have done, if we have harmed someone, or society.”

Bishop Blaire observed that throughout its history the Church has maintained “a sense of where people are, what they are going through. “ Pope Francis has that sense, in Bishop Blaire’s view.

The discussion was the final event of a course on leadership brought in more than 25 leaders to reflect on leadership.

Communications Professor Fr. Mike Russo framed the presentation with the question: “How do we best inform and prepare our young people with a moral and ethical literacy?”

Saint Mary’s College President James Donahue participated in the discussion.

 

Article source: http://www.cacatholic.org/index.php/about/bishops-of-california/770-francis-leadership

Bishop Blaire Reflects on Pope Francis’ Leadership

francis-wavePope Francis is both an effective preacher of the Gospel and also is non-judgmental, in the view of Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire.

Bishop Blaire reflected on the Pope’s leadership as part of a leadership class at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga.

Blaire identified three strengths of the Pontiff that make him a strong leader.

“First, he’s speaking a language that people can understand, very much in tune with the Gospel.”

Citing the Pope’s recent apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel) Bishop Blaire said “I’ve never seen a papal document before where the Pope speaks so personally: ‘here’s something that pains me’ or ‘here’s something that gives me joy.’”

Bishop Blaire continued “If we are going to communicate the Gospel we have to speak the language of the people,”

“Second, he speaks from experience. He knows the street life of Buenos Aires; he knows the pain of people; he knows their experiences.”

“The Pope certainly has that. He is able to take the truths of our faith and bring them down to our everyday experiences.

“Third, he is simply bringing his own authentic understanding of the Gospel” into contemporary life, as did the prophets and writers of the Bible who “brought their prophetic message into the situation in which they lived.”

Reflecting how Pope Francis’ style is impacting him, Bishop Blaire said “It is saying to me: am I exercising my ministry in a way that really communicates to people? that really brings the love of God to touch their lives in a very real way?

“What the Pope is trying to get at is that you put the ethical and moral teachings in a context. The overriding context is of the love of God, the compassion of God, the dignity of the human person, the value of the other person.

“And he makes the point that we have moral standards, but that does not give you the right to judge a person. Only God can judge a person.

“But that does not mean we don’t have accountability and responsibility for what we have done, if we have harmed someone, or society.”

Bishop Blaire observed that throughout its history the Church has maintained “a sense of where people are, what they are going through. “ Pope Francis has that sense, in Bishop Blaire’s view.

The discussion was the final event of a course on leadership brought in more than 25 leaders to reflect on leadership.

Communications Professor Fr. Mike Russo framed the presentation with the question: “How do we best inform and prepare our young people with a moral and ethical literacy?”

Saint Mary’s College President James Donahue participated in the discussion.

 

Article source: http://www.cacatholic.org/index.php/about/bishops-of-california/770-francis-leadership

USCCB President Applauds Pope’s Decision To Establish Commission for Protection of Minors

Every effort must be made to protect children
Broad-based approach to problem is welcome
U.S. bishops have made great strides but still more to be done

December 5, 2013

WASHINGTON—Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed the decision of Pope Francis to establish a commission on the protection of minors. The move was urged by the Council of Cardinals, an advisory group to the pope that met at the Vatican, December 3-5. Archbishop Kurtz praised the effort in a December 5 statement.

The statement follows.

The decision of Pope Francis to establish a commission for the protection of minors is a most welcome initiative. Abuse of minors is a sin and a crime, and every step must be taken to eradicate this blight. Such abuse is especially grave when committed by anyone in ministry in our Church.

The problem of sexual abuse of minors exists throughout society and every effort must be made to protect children, particularly within the Church.

The announcement of this initiative reflects a broad-based approach that considers changes in Vatican procedures in dealing with clerics accused of abuse, seminary training for future priests, and other pastoral efforts to address this horrific problem. This international effort is particularly welcome as we have come to learn that this tragedy affects many, if not all, parts of the world.

As president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I promise full cooperation of the U.S. bishops with this commission and look forward to more information on its implementation. In the United States, we have learned of the importance of background checks, education of children and adults on child safety, the swift removal of offenders, and the need for the Church and civil authorities to work together. While these efforts have resulted in a dramatic reduction in abuse cases, much work remains to be done.

Our prayers are with Pope Francis and this commission, and we are grateful for this effort.

December 5, 2013

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/usccb-president-applauds-popes-decision-to-establish-commission-for-protection-of-minors/

Bishop Soto Elected President of CA Catholic Conference

sotoBishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento has been elected by his brother bishops to lead the California Catholic Conference (CCC) – the public policy arm of the two Archdioceses and 10 Dioceses in California. Bishop Robert McElroy, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, was elected Vice President of the Conference, and Bishop Richard Garcia of Monterey was re-elected as Treasurer.

Bishop Soto succeeds Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and begins a three-year term as the Conference president.

“The Gospel’s message of the sacredness of life and the dignity of every human often goes unheard in the Capitol of California while increasing economic disparities and deteriorated social infrastructure underscore a lack of political will to serve the common good,” said Bishop Soto.   “Pope Francis has recently reminded us to construct a new culture of encounter, “encuentro,” that defies the prevailing ‘culture of exclusion.’ ‘There is no place for the elderly or for the unwanted child; there is no time for that poor person in the street.’” (Rio de Janeiro, 7-27-13)

“Gathering together as a Conference of Bishops helps us address those inequities at the local and state level as well as provide teaching, resources and support to Catholics in California committed to justice,” he said.

Bishop Soto offered special thanks to the outgoing president: “On behalf of the entire Conference of Bishops, I would like to express our deep gratitude to Bishop Wilkerson for his outstanding leadership as President. His steady guidance and pastoral approach to complicated issues has kept the Conference on target, improved its effectiveness and helped both the Bishops and California Catholics to make faithful and wise decisions in California policy matters.”

The California Catholic Conference (CCC) is the official voice of the Catholic community in California’s public policy arena. Its mission is to advocate with the legislative, administrative and judicial branches of state government for the Catholic Church’s public policy agenda and to facilitate common pastoral efforts in the Catholic community. The CCC also enables ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and action.

Biographies for each of the Bishops are available at these sites:

 

Article source: http://www.cacatholic.org/index.php/about/bishops-of-california/769-bishop-jaime-soto-elected-president-of-california-catholic-conference

Column: The Holy Family and Catholic Social Doctrine

nativityThe Holy Family and Catholic Social Doctrine
by Christopher Dodson
Executive Director, North Dakota Catholic Conference

The Advent and Christmas seasons are great times to reflect on the lives of the Holy Family and how they relate to God’s concern for the poor, justice, and human life.

Central to the Church is her concern for the poor and the marginalized. The Holy Family was most certainly poor, even by the standards of their time. The sacrifice offered at the presentation in the temple was one prescribed for poor people. Nazareth and Bethlehem were not centers of wealth. Our God’s closeness to the poor is also expressed by the fact that our Lord was born in a stable.

The infancy narratives contain other examples of the Holy Family’s lowliness and marginalization, as well as special concern for justice. Mary’s Magnificat praises God because he exalts those of low degree, fills the hungry with good things, and sends the rich away empty. They lived in a conquered nation subject to the whims of the often brutal Roman empire. They were Jews in a pagan world. They were homeless, with no room at the inn. Jesus’ first visitors were shepherds, who at that time were considered dirty outcasts.

Mary and Joseph most likely experienced first-hand what it is like to be subjected to ridicule and rejection. We know in hindsight the circumstances of Jesus’ conception, as did Mary and Joseph. Those around them, however, probably saw only a girl who conceived out-of-wedlock and a man who was willing to bring shame on himself by marrying this “fallen� girl. Although they committed no sin, we can be assured that they hear the prayers and feel the pain of those ostracized and feeling alone.

The innate dignity of all human persons is, of course, brought forth in the lives of Mary and Joseph, but it can also be seen in others in the infancy narratives. We live in a society that often marginalizes the old. At Jesus’ presentation in the temple we see the prophetess Anna. Working from Luke’s text, some scholars conclude that she might have been 105 years old. Elizabeth and Zachariah were old, at least beyond child-bearing years. Yet God answers their prayersand they conceived John the Baptist.

John the Baptist’s story demonstrates the dignity of the human person at the other end of the spectrum. When Mary, bearing Jesus, visits Elizabeth the babe “leaped in her womb� and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Note to abortion advocates: clumps of tissue do not leap or receive the Holy Spirit.

After Jesus’ birth, the Holy Family again experiences some of the same pains and trials experienced by people today. Like refugees fleeing places like Syria and Somalia, the Holy Family was forced to leave their homeland for Egypt. They became immigrants, aliens in an strange land. The massacre of the children by Herod’s men that followed should remind us of the children today who are killed by war, terrorism, and abortion.

We usually gloss over these facts when remembering Christmas. Our Christmas cards and nativity scenes present an ideal pastoral image rather than the aesthetic ugliness of poverty. We sanitize the portrayal so we are left only with the Holy Family’s humility. They truly were humble, but their humility and faithfulness should not cause us to lose sight of their plight. Nor should we twist the scriptures to conclude that because Mary and Joseph did not complain the poor should “buck up� and accept what is dealt them. On the contrary, because Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were poor, we need to help the poor. Because they were immigrants, we need to welcome the immigrant. Because they were human persons, we should protect and embrace all human life.

Article source: http://ndcatholic.org/latestnews/?p=1763

Please join us in a NOVENA TO OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE, Dec. 4-12

Our Lady of GuadalupeThe faithful of the state of North Dakota are invited to pray a Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 4 – 12.  On December 11, the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the North Dakota Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that could determine the fate of North Dakota’s pro-life laws.  Abortion proponents are asking the court to find that the North Dakota Constitution provides a “fundamental right� to abortion.  If the court agrees, all of the state’s laws to protect life, family involvement, and women’s health would be in jeopardy.  Please join us as we implore the intercession of the Patroness of Unborn Children to protect our current state laws and pray for all those involved with this court case.

 

NOVENA TO OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

Virgin of Guadalupe, Patroness of unborn children, we implore your intercession for every child at risk of abortion.

Help expectant parents to welcome from God, the priceless gift of their child’s life. Console parents who have lost that gift through abortion,

and lead them to forgiveness and healing through the Divine Mercy of your Son.  Teach us to cherish and to care for family and friends

until God calls them home.  Help us never to see others as burdens.  Guide our public officials to defend each and every human life through just laws.

Inspire us all to bring our faith into public life, to speak for those who have no voice.

We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who is Love and Mercy itself.  Amen.

Article source: http://ndcatholic.org/latestnews/?p=1759

Bishop Ricken Welcomes Pope Francis’ Exhortation on the New Evangelization

Pope Francis is leading the world to deeper faith, and the U.S. bishops look forward to sharing his words in their dioceses, said the chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, welcomed the release of Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), the pope’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation to 2012’s Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.

“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day,� Pope Francis wrote in the opening of the document. The pope presented the exhortation over the weekend in Rome, at events commemorating the end of the Year of Faith, which began October 11, 2012. It is the pope’s official response to the discussions held as part of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, which occurred October 7-28, 2012, in the Vatican. Bishops from around the world gathered to discuss how the Catholic Church can renew the energy of Catholics, strengthen their faith and better share the Gospel with the rest of the world.

“Pope Francis is a living model of the New Evangelization,� said Bishop Ricken. “He is showing us how to live the Gospels and reach out to the world with what every person needs, a relationship with God. He is leading the world to deeper faith, and the bishops of the United States happily receive this exhortation with faith and look forward to sharing it in our dioceses.�

The Vatican has posted the exhortation online: www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium_en.html

USCCB has also made the exhortation available for order online: www.usccbpublishing.org/

The Synod of Bishops is an international gathering of Catholic bishops, convened every few years for discussion and to advise the pope on specific concerns related to the Church and the world. It was first convened by Pope Paul VI in 1967 and has subsequently met to discuss Scripture, the Eucharist, priesthood, the laity, pastoral circumstances in different regions of the world and other topics. Pope Francis has announced an Extraordinary Synod on Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization, to be held in October 2014, followed by an Ordinary Synod on the same topic in 2015.

Article source: http://ndcatholic.org/latestnews/?p=1757

Abortion Coverage in Pennsylvania Health Insurance Plans

With the roll out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) well underway, some states are making headlines because of the inclusion of elective abortion coverage in their plans.

In Pennsylvania, thanks to the passage of House Bill 818 in June, no elective abortions can be covered in the plans available via the state exchange (which is run by the federal government in Pennsylvania).

As far as private plans available outside the exchange, the Abortion Control Act passed in 1982 requires that insurance providers offer at least one plan that does not include elective abortion coverage.

To learn more about the pro-life laws in Pennsylvania, read “Past and Present Pro-Life Legislation in Pennsylvania.”

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/abortion-coverage-in-pennsylvania-health-insurance-plans/

Archbishop Lori Applauds Supreme Court Decision to Hear Two Cases on HHS Mandate

Court to hear challenges from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood

Court will decide whether family-owned companies can exercise religion

Individuals and families who own businesses seek to practice their faith in daily life

November 26, 2013

WASHINGTON—Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today to hear arguments in the cases of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties. The U.S. government and the Hahn family, Mennonite owners of Conestoga Wood, a cabinet-making company, respectively, petitioned the Supreme Court to review these cases. The Court will consider the legality of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “preventive services” mandate, which requires virtually all employers to include female sterilization and all drugs and devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as contraceptives in their employee health care plans.

“The Supreme Court’s review of these cases highlights the importance of this conflict between the federal government and people seeking to practice their faith in daily life,” said Archbishop Lori. “We pray that the Supreme Court will find that the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protect everyone’s right to religious freedom. We are encouraged by the advances in the lower federal courts so far in cases involving family-owned companies as well as non-profit religious organizations. On behalf of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, I would like to thank all of the litigants—including those who run diocesan service ministries as well as the lay faithful who run closely-held businesses—for their courageous actions in seeking religious liberty in courts around the country.”

The HHS mandate requires family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood to cover abortifacient and contraceptive drugs and devices in their employee health care plans, even if providing those particular items violates the religious beliefs of the individuals who own and operate the company. In a unanimous “Special Message” on the HHS mandate issued last month, the U.S. bishops reaffirmed their opposition to a mandate that “compels our faithful people in business to act against our teachings, failing to provide them any exemption at all.”

 

These cases are among at least 84 lawsuits filed by over 200 plaintiffs against the HHS mandate.

Keywords: Archbishop William Lori, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS mandate, religious liberty, religious freedom

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Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/archbishop-lori-applauds-supreme-court-decision-to-hear-two-cases-on-hhs-mandate/

Dioceses of Pittsburgh, Erie win injunction against HHS mandate

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, “The right of church-related organizations to keep a clear conscience trumps the federal government’s desire to improve access to contraceptives, a federal judge ruled Thursday in a preliminary decision that could set the tone in a legal fight of national scope.”

A preliminary injunction was granted to the Catholic Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Erie, Catholic Charities agencies and other affiliated Catholic non-profits. On January 1, 2014, the agencies do not have to comply with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that would force Catholic employers to buy coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that induce abortion.

Bishop Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh said, “ Judge Schwab refused to accept that religious freedom is solely the freedom to worship behind closed doors. When the Church ‘loves our neighbor,’ Judge Schwab effectively ruled, it cannot be punished or forced to compromise its beliefs. These good works are not secondary to the practice of faith, but are central. Judge Schwab’s ruling affirms that fundamental constitutional understanding of religious freedom.”

This is a significant victory for religious liberty, but the issue is not yet resolved. Dozens of other cases throughout the United States are still pending. It is likely one of more of the cases will come before the U.S. Supreme Court. Concerned Catholics are also pressuring Congress to pass legislation to remedy the situation.

Send a message in support of religious freedom through the Catholic Advocacy Network here.

Read the statement from Pittsburgh’s Bishop Zubik here.

Catholic dioceses of Pittsburgh, Erie win injunction against Affordable Care Act,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – November 21, 2013

Judge rules for Erie diocese in contraception fight,” Erie Times-News – November 21, 2013

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/dioceses-of-pittsburgh-erie-win-injunction-against-hhs-mandate/

PA Senate Recognizes PCHA

PA Catholic Health logo_v7 On November 13, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the good work of the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association (PCHA) and honoring its 50th anniversary.

SR 267, sponsored by Senator Rafferty, reads in part,

“Whereas, over 3 million Pennsylvanians are assisted at Catholic hospitals each year and hundreds of thousands more are helped at homes for the aged, health care centers, social service centers and other facilities; and whereas health care in America is in a time of transition and yet the timeless values present in Catholic health ministry remain steadfast and as necessary as ever; therefore, be it resolved that the Senate congratulate Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association on the 50th anniversary of its founding.”

Read the entire resolution here.

Article source: http://www.pacatholic.org/pa-senate-recognizes-pcha/