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Pro-Life Committee Chair for U.S. Bishops’ Responds to SCOTUS Ruling Temporarily Blocking Louisiana Abortion Law

WASHINGTON–Late yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked Louisiana from implementing a law requiring doctors at abortion facilities to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had previously ruled in favor of the Louisiana law. While the petition on the merits of the law has yet to be filed and ruled upon by the Supreme Court, it ruled 5-4 on an application for a stay in the case of June Medical Services, LLC v. Gee. 

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement in response:

“The fact that abortionists and their facilities cannot or will not meet basic health standards exposes the lie of their clever slogan that abortion is health care. The abortion industry’s objection to such a reasonable law, and this Court’s decision to temporarily prevent it from going into effect, is further evidence of how abortion extremism actively works against the welfare of women.

“Regardless of this disappointing ruling, the pro-life movement will continue to work and pray for the day when every legislature and court recognizes the brutal injustice of abortion—to women and their children alike—and our society sees abortion as unthinkable.”

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Manifesto of Faith

By Cardinal Gerhard Müller

“Let not your heart be troubled!” (John 14:1)

In the face of growing confusion about the doctrine of the Faith, many bishops, priests, religious and lay people of the Catholic Church have requested that I make a public testimony about the truth of revelation. It is the shepherds' very own task to guide those entrusted to them on the path of salvation. This can only succeed if they know this way and follow it themselves. The words of the Apostle here apply: “For above all I have delivered unto you what I have received” (1 Cor. 15:3). Today, many Christians are no longer even aware of the basic teachings of the Faith, so there is a growing danger of missing the path to eternal life. However, it remains the very purpose of the Church to lead humanity to Jesus Christ, the light of the nations (see LG 1). In this situation, the question of orientation arises. According to John Paul II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a “safe standard for the doctrine of the faith” (Fidei Depositum IV). It was written with the aim of strengthening the Faith of the brothers and sisters whose belief has been massively questioned by the “dictatorship of relativism.”

1. The one and triune God revealed in Jesus Christ

The epitome of the Faith of all Christians is found in the confession of the Most Holy Trinity. We have become disciples of Jesus, children and friends of God by being baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The distinction of the three persons in the divine unity (CCC 254) marks a fundamental difference in the belief in God and the image of man from that of other religions. Religions disagree precisely over this belief in Jesus the Christ. He is true God and true Man, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. The Word made flesh, the Son of God, is the only Savior of the world (CCC 679) and the only Mediator between God and men (CCC 846). Therefore, the first letter of John refers to one who denies His divinity as an antichrist (1 John 2:22), since Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is from eternity one in being with God, His Father (CCC 663). We are to resist the relapse into ancient heresies with clear resolve, which saw in Jesus Christ only a good person, brother and friend, prophet and moralist. He is first and foremost the Word that was with God and is God, the Son of the Father, Who assumed our human nature to redeem us and Who will come to judge the living and the dead. Him alone, we worship in unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit as the Only and True God (CCC 691).

2. The Church

Jesus Christ founded the Church as a visible sign and instrument of salvation realized in the Catholic Church (816). He gave His Church, which “emerged from the side of the Christ who died on the Cross” (766), a sacramental constitution that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved (CCC 765). Christ, the Head, and the faithful as members of the body, are a mystical person (CCC 795), which is why the Church is sacred, for the one Mediator has designed and sustained its visible structure (CCC 771). Through it the redemptive work of Christ becomes present in time and space via the celebration of the Holy Sacraments, especially in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Holy Mass (CCC 1330). The Church conveys with the authority of Christ the divine revelation, which extends to all the elements of doctrine, “including the moral teaching, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, and observed” (CCC 2035).

3. Sacramental Order

The Church is the universal sacrament of salvation in Jesus Christ (CCC 776). She does not reflect herself, but the light of Christ, which shines on her face. But this happens only when the truth revealed in Jesus Christ becomes the point of reference, rather than the views of a majority or the spirit of the times; for Christ Himself has entrusted the fullness of grace and truth to the Catholic Church (CCC 819), and He Himself is present in the sacraments of the Church.

The Church is not a man-made association whose structure its members voted into being at their will. It is of divine origin. "Christ himself is the author of ministry in the Church. He set her up, gave her authority and mission, orientation and goal (CCC 874). The admonition of the Apostle is still valid today, that cursed is anyone who proclaims another gospel, “even if we ourselves were to give it or an angel from heaven” (Gal 1:8). The mediation of faith is inextricably bound up with the human credibility of its messengers, who in some cases have abandoned the people entrusted to them, unsettling them and severely damaging their faith. Here the Word of Scripture describes those who do not listen to the truth and who follow their own wishes, who flatter their ears because they cannot endure sound doctrine (cf. 2 Tim 4:3-4).

The task of the Magisterium of the Church is to “preserve God’s people from deviations and defections” in order to “guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error” (890). This is especially true with regard to all seven sacraments. The Holy Eucharist is “source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324). The Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which Christ includes us in His Sacrifice of the Cross, is aimed at the most intimate union with Him (CCC 1382). Therefore, the Holy Scripture admonishes with regard to the reception of the Holy Communion: “Whoever eats unworthily of the bread and drinks from the Lord's cup makes himself guilty of profaning the body and of the blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27). “Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion” (CCC 1385). From the internal logic of the sacrament, it is understood that divorced and civilly remarried persons, whose sacramental marriage exists before God, as well as those Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Faith and the Church, just as all those who are not disposed to receive the Holy Eucharist fruitfully (CCC 1457), because it does not bring them to salvation. To point this out corresponds to the spiritual works of mercy.

The confession of sins in Holy Confession at least once a year is one of the Church’s commandments (CCC 2042). When the believers no longer confess their sins and no longer experience the absolution of their sins, salvation becomes impossible; after all, Jesus Christ became Man to redeem us from our sins. The power of forgiveness that the Risen Lord has given to the Apostles and their successors in the ministry of bishops and priests applies also for mortal and venial sins which we commit after Baptism. The current popular practice of confession makes it clear that the conscience of the faithful is not sufficiently formed. God's mercy is given to us, that we might fulfil His Commandments to become one with His Holy Will, and not so as to avoid the call to repentance (CCC 1458).

“The priest continues the work of redemption on earth” (CCC 1589). The ordination of the priest “gives him a sacred power” (CCC 1592), which is irreplaceable, because through it Jesus becomes sacramentally present in His saving action. Therefore, priests voluntarily opt for celibacy as "a sign of new life" (CCC 1579). It is about the self-giving in the service of Christ and His coming kingdom.

4. Moral Law

Faith and life are inseparable, for Faith apart from works is dead (CCC 1815). The moral law is the work of divine wisdom and leads man to the promised blessedness (CCC 1950). Consequently, the "knowledge of the divine and natural law is necessary" to do good and reach this goal (CCC 1955). Accepting this truth is essential for all people of good will. For he who dies in mortal sin without repentance will be forever separated from God (CCC 1033). This leads to practical consequences in the lives of Christians, which are often ignored today (cf 2270-2283; 2350-2381). The moral law is not a burden, but part of that liberating truth (cf Jn 8:32) through which the Christian walks on the path of salvation and which may not be relativized.

5. Eternal Life

Many wonder today what purpose the Church still has in its existence, when even bishops prefer to be politicians rather than to proclaim the Gospel as teachers of the Faith. The role of the Church must not be watered down by trivialities, but its proper place must be addressed. Every human being has an immortal soul, which in death is separated from the body, hoping for the resurrection of the dead (CCC 366). Death makes man's decision for or against God definite. Everyone has to face the particular judgement immediately after death (CCC 1021). Either a purification is necessary, or man goes directly into heavenly bliss and is allowed to see God face to face. There is also the dreadful possibility that a person will remain opposed to God to the very end, and by definitely refusing His Love, "condemns himself immediately and forever" (CCC 1022). “God created us without us, but He did not want to save us without us” (CCC 1847). The eternity of the punishment of hell is a terrible reality, which - according to the testimony of Holy Scripture - attracts all who “die in the state of mortal sin” (CCC 1035). The Christian goes through the narrow gate, for “the gate is wide, and the way that leads to ruin is wide, and many are upon it” (Mt 7:13).

To keep silent about these and the other truths of the Faith and to teach people accordingly is the greatest deception against which the Catechism vigorously warns. It represents the last trial of the Church and leads man to a religious delusion, “the price of their apostasy” (CCC 675); it is the fraud of Antichrist. “He will deceive those who are lost by all means of injustice; for they have closed themselves to the love of the truth by which they should be saved” (2 Thess 2:10).

Call

As workers in the vineyard of the Lord, we all have a responsibility to recall these fundamental truths by clinging to what we ourselves have received. We want to give courage to go the way of Jesus Christ with determination, in order to obtain eternal life by following His commandments (CCC 2075).

Let us ask the Lord to let us know how great the gift of the Catholic Faith is, through which opens the door to eternal life. “For he that shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation: The Son of Man also will be ashamed of him, when He shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38). Therefore, we are committed to strengthening the Faith by confessing the truth which is Jesus Christ Himself.

We too, and especially we bishops and priests, are addressed when Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, gives this admonition to his companion and successor, Timothy: “I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the living and the dead, by His coming, and His kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober.” (2 Tim 4:1-5).

May Mary, the Mother of God, implore for us the grace to remain faithful without wavering to the confession of the truth about Jesus Christ.

United in faith and prayer,

Gerhard Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith 2012-2017

 

Editor's note: After this text was published, the cardinal's office submitted to CNA three amendments to the text originally submitted to CNA. Two were minor syntactical corrections. The third change replaced the word "to" with "cannot" in the following phrase: "just as all who are not properly disposed, to cannot receive the Holy Eucharist fruitfully (CCC 1457) because it does not bring them to salvation."

 

Catholic Chair of National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue and Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Statement on Joint Statement of Pope Francis and Grand Imam Ahmad A

WASHINGTON—H.E. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago and Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, PA issued the following statement:

 
“In our increasingly hostile world in which violence too often predominates between Christians and Muslims—violence that has led to tragic consequences for the most vulnerable humans—we welcome with great joy this historic joint statement on human fraternity by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb. The statement, which represents the culmination of the first papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula and marks the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the encounter between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil in Egypt, is a clarion call for robust dialogue that leads to peace. We commend it to all people of good will, especially leaders of nations and religious groups, in the hope that it might serve as a resource to overcome division through a renewed commitment to dialogue and the establishment of goodwill.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Pope Francis, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue, Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue, Al-Azhar, Christian-Muslim dialogue,

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace Expresses Solidarity with Venezuelan Bishops’; Urges Administration to Provide Humanitarian Aid

WASHINGTON— Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services USA and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace has issued the following statement expressing solidarity with the Bishops’ of Venezuela.

The Archbishop’s full statement follows:

“On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I express our solidarity with the Bishops of Venezuela, and with all those working for a peaceful and just resolution to the crisis there. The humanitarian situation is dire. Severe malnutrition and death from treatable illnesses afflict a growing number of Venezuelans.
 
I am grateful for the United States Government’s pledge to provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance to Venezuelans. I urge the administration to help facilitate the provisioning of humanitarian assistance, and, where necessary, help coordinate safe migration options, in order to avoid more suffering. The Church in Venezuela, as its bishops stated on February 4th, acts ‘according to principles of independence, impartiality, and humanity,’ and stands ready to help distribute assistance justly and equitably.
 
May Our Lady of Coromoto, Patroness of Venezuela, watch over all Venezuelans as they strive for peace and prosperity in their country.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Military Services USA, Committee on International Justice and Peace., Venezuela, humanitarian assistance, safe migration, independence, impartiality, human dignity  
 
Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

National Marriage Week USA and World Marriage Day Highlights the Meaning of Marriage

WASHINGTON—February 7-14 marks the annual celebration of National Marriage Week USA. World Marriage Day is celebrated annually on the second Sunday of February. This year, World Marriage Day is Sunday, February 10.

National Marriage Week USA and World Marriage Day are opportunities for “building a culture of life and love that begins with promoting and defending marriage and the family,” wrote Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a letter to his brother bishops.

The USCCB offers resources to the faithful for the promotion and defense of marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman through its dedicated websites ForYourMarriage.org, PorTuMatrimonio.org, and MarriageUniqueForAReason.org. Additional resources specifically for the celebration of National Marriage Week, including a preaching resource, poster, and prayer intentions, can be found on the USCCB website: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/national-marriage-week.cfm.

Starting February 7, a daily virtual marriage retreat for couples will be made available on the ForYourMarriage.org website and via the For Your Marriage social media channels on Facebook and Twitter. The seven-day retreat will focus on the theme “Marriage: Made for a Reason.” A rosary for married couples and for families in need of healing will be live-streamed from the chapel at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC via the USCCB Facebook page and Twitter feed on Friday, February 8 at 3:00 pm EST. A conversation about marriage will be livestreamed on the USCCB Facebook page Wednesday, February 13 at 2:00pm EST.

A wide array of prayer cards, books and pamphlets on marriage and family can be ordered online through the USCCB store.

National Marriage Week USA, launched in 2010, is part of an international event seeking to mobilize individuals, organizations, and businesses in a common purpose to strengthen marriage in communities and influence the culture. For information and resources, visit: NationalMarriageWeekUSA.org. World Marriage Day was started in 1983 by Worldwide Marriage Encounter.

For the Spanish version of this release, please click here http://www.usccb.org/news/2019/19-030sp.cfm

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Keywords: Archbishop Charles Chaput, National Marriage Week USA, World Marriage Sunday, marriage, family, USCCB, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, For Your Marriage, Por Tu Matrimonio, Marriage Unique for a Reason

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Anti-Catholicism: “the last acceptable prejudice”

By Bishop Arthur Serratelli

In The Innocents Abroad, published in1869, Mark Twain humorously narrates his travels thorough Europe and the Holy Land. He goes out of his way to praise the great hospitality that Catholic priests offered to any pilgrim traveling through 19th century Palestine. They readily welcomed all, whether they came “in rags or clad in purple.” Twain was pleasantly surprised by this, because, as he readily confesses, he had been “educated to enmity toward everything that is Catholic.” Enmity toward everything Catholic! Not a thing of the past.

Most recently, the hatred was aimed at one of the most charitable and benevolent group of individuals in this country, the Knights of Columbus. During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s review of Omaha-based lawyer Brian C. Buescher for the position of judge on the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska, Senators Mazie Hirono, a democrat from Hawaii, and Kamala Harris, a democrat from California, grilled Buescher on his membership in the Knights of Columbus. In their questions, they boldly gave voice to an anti-Catholic prejudice in our society.

Hirono accused the Knights of having “taken a number of extreme positions.” And, what are those extreme positions to which she is so vehemently opposed? The Catholic teaching on marriage as a union established by God. The sanctity of human life. The rights of a child in the womb to take his or her place at the banquet of life. For many, when it comes to birthing a child, only a woman has rights. And, when it comes to marriage, only what an individual wants matters. In their eyes, God’s design for his creation cannot limit the freedom of anyone to choose as they wish. 

Holding to what the Catholic Church has always taught, according to their line of questioning, now disqualifies someone from public office. In effect, both senators were applying a religious test as a qualification for public office. Responding to this blatant attack on a man’s religion, on January 17, 2018, the United States Senate unanimously passed the resolution that disqualifying a member of the Knights of Columbus for a federal office actually violates the Constitution of the United States. Article VI of the Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required as qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Sadly, this recent attack on Catholicism is not an isolated incident. Last September, Senator Dianne Feinstein expressed serious concern about the qualifications of Amy Barrett for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit. Feinstein is an unflinching supporter of abortion. It was no surprise that she zeroed in on Barrett’s position on Roe v. Wade. Because Barrett is a practicing Catholic who faithfully holds to Catholic teaching on this and other hot button issues, Feinstein remarked “in your case, professor…the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.” Clearly, the Senator sees no place for what the Catholic Church teaches on major moral and societal issues. 

It is becoming more and more obvious that the Catholic Church is being targeted as the public enemy of our society. Talk shows and news media attack the Catholic position on the right to life as misogyny and the Catholic teaching on marriage as intolerance and hatred. One can only wonder why those States that are investigating the Catholic Church on its record of protecting children are not looking into other public institutions. Why is there not a comparable investigation into their own school systems or other religious groups? Is the terrible crime of child abuse limited only to Catholics? Today’s media would even have people believe that abuse of minors is becoming more frequent within the Church. Patently false. But, too often facts do not matter when a villain is needed.

Those who advocate for the radical autonomy of the individual find in the Church an indomitable opponent. The Catholic Church stands firm in her teaching on contraception, abortion, stem cell research, in-vitro fertilization, marriage and divorce. The Church teaches that every choice that touches on the gift of life and the beauty of marriage is judged by a law higher than the autonomy of the individual. And, for this reason, today’s secularists judge Catholics as public enemies to the good of the society they wish to construct. A society without God. A society without a future.

Almost every day, a politician or teacher or public speaker is lambasted for a statement that is judged to be homophobic, misogynistic, racist or anti-Semitic. In some cases, not even an apology can save their careers. Yet, a free pass is given by society to any anti-Catholic view or statement. Someone can make an insulting or slanderous remark about Catholics, Catholic teachings or the Church herself and emerge unscathed. In his essay on The Significance of Jacksonian Democracy, historian and Harvard professor Arthur Schlesinger, Sr., himself not a Catholic, made the often cited assertion that anti-Catholic prejudice is “the deepest bias in the history of the American people.” According to Baylor University professor Philip Jenkins, anti-Catholic prejudice is “the last acceptable prejudice.”
 

Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Urges Senate Vote and Passage of Born -Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act

WASHINGTON–Last night, the Senate failed to adopt by unanimous consent the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act—legislation that would ensure that a child born alive following an abortion would receive the same degree of care to preserve her life and health as would be given to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.
 
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement in response:
 
“Last night, the United States Senate had an opportunity to unanimously declare to the nation that infanticide is objectively wrong. That they failed to do so is unconscionable. No newborn should be left to suffer or die without medical care. It is barbaric and merciless to leave these vulnerable infants without any care or rights. Congress must take up and pass this bill and ensure that the legacy of Roe v. Wade does not extend itself from killing unborn children to killing newborn babies.”
 
The Archbishop also sent a letter to the U.S. Senate today urging the body to bring the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to the floor for a vote and to pass it this week. In his letter, Archbishop Naumann asked the Senate to support the “common-sense legislation” that would protect infants who survived abortion attempts.
 
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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann , Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protections Act, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, abortion, born alive, infants, human being, child, individual, person, abortionists, accountable, preservation of life and health
 
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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

One in a million: reflections on NY's Reproductive Health Act

By Katie Trudeau

Has anyone ever told you in life, “you’re one in a million”? For me, that sentence has a whole new meaning after last week.

Being in utero in New York in 1995, my life was somewhat protected under statutes if my birthmother was killed, as by a weapon or in a vehicular accident. Nearly two decades later, a unborn baby in the state is completely unprotected at any stage. In fact, women and unborn babies are in even more danger. From the moment of conception until one minute before being born, an unborn baby can be wiped from existence in the world due to the passage of the Reproductive Health Act.

I used to be proud to say I was adopted from New York. As of last week, I have nothing but sorrow for my home state.

At the age of 23, I may never know the circumstances that brought my birth mother to a delivery room, but I do know that she chose life under difficult circumstances. She seemed to have been the perfect candidate to procure an abortion: a young, middle-class, well-educated, white woman.

I survived her thought of a deadly procedure to stop my heart from beating, or to halt another brainwave, just after six weeks. I survived her enduring thoughts and pressures from society for a young woman to make her situation easier by erasing my existence, and never telling a soul.

One in a million odds seems rare, right? A miracle if anything.

In 1995, I survived both U.S. and New York state law on abortion. These laws took 1.2 million unborn children that same year, according to the CDC. Abortions have only increased in New York since Roe v. Wade with 239 unborn babies stripped of the dignity of life each day.

A procedure that was once intended to be safe, legal, and rare, has now more dangerous (with respect to late-term abortions) and more frequent.

New York state law isn’t all that shocking to most involved in the pro-life movement. New York has always been the sanctuary abortion state, whether the mothers were minors traveling across state lines or desperate third-trimester seekers. In 2003, partial-birth abortion was condemned by federal law and surrounding progressive states, yet New York maintained a voice for so-called “choice”. Between 1975 and 1995, the number of adoptions dramatically dropped by roughly 60,000 adoptions each year.

The root problem with legislation like New York’s new allowance of late-term abortions de-regulation comes from a larger division in today’s political climate. In 1971, Massachusetts' Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy spoke against legislation such as this: “Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized – the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.”

Today, some Democrats support the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion and fist-bump each other on state and federal Senate floors, blocking the right to life of an unborn baby at the gestational age of 20 weeks — even when scientists have overwhelmingly told us “they feel pain!”

Not only do some support late-term abortion, they also believe that if an infant is breathing after a failed abortion, literally born through natural delivery, they should be left to die on a stainless tray in a back room or closet of a hospital.

No longer is it a universal belief that if a human being survives an abortion procedure, their life is worth saving. Our civilized neighbors in some states stand against hospitalization and adoption or foster-care protocol. Instead, like ancient Romans, they lawfully choose to leave the infant, anywhere above 20 gestational weeks old, to suffer and die on a cold stainless tray like an animal of lesser worth than something wanted in this world.

If you want to offer real “choice”, why leave a human baby on a tray to starve or suffocate to death? After procuring, or attempting to procure, an abortion, nobody is faulting a woman for feeling overwhelmed, scared, lonely, or ashamed. However, someone will be faulted leaving a living baby on a tray to die slowly, painfully, by itself in a dark room.

Do we really want to be the type of people who kill our own kind, at viability, strictly based on whether the baby is “wanted”?

No law will change the emotions overwhelming an unwed woman (or married woman with a handful of kids already) who finds herself holding another positive pregnancy test crying on the bathroom floor, locked, with the shower running to drown out her tears. Some women will continue to have abortions. Some will choose adoption.

But how can we choose to impact our families and communities to choose life?

First and foremost, we must love our neighbor. The shame a woman feels in this position is traumatic. Love her (be she your daughter, sister, mother, aunt, best friend, or a stranger). Support her (offer encouragement, a hand to hold). Help her (financially or spiritually).

Mother Teresa used to say: “May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in.”

Maybe it’s time your heart truly broke for a woman in need, because love requires sacrifice.

After all, you may just save the next child who grows up to realize they were the lucky one in a million.

Can Asia Bibi remain acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan?

By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer

This Tuesday a three-judge panel of Pakistan’s Supreme Court will decide whether to reconsider its acquittal of a Pakistani Christian mother-of-five on charges of blasphemy.  
 
Yes, you read that right. One of our allies in the fight against terror may be having second thoughts on whether a middle-aged mother-of-five deserves to be put to death for defending herself and her faith.
 
Asia Bibi is a Christian, a Roman Catholic to be precise, who lived in Pakistan’s  predominantly Muslim province of Punjab. This peasant woman worked in a berry field to help her husband support their children. Asia’s status as a religious minority was not a “protected” one. Far from it. She suffered constant insults from neighbors, even though they, too, shared in the same suffering that comes with extreme poverty.
 
One day, while working in that berry field, Asia went to the well for some water. She drank from the common cup available to those working the land. In that moment — in that simple human act of relieving one’s thirst—a series of dreadful events unfolded.  
 
A co-worker in the berry field confronted her and said that Asia —a Christian —could not drink from the same cup as the other Muslims. Asia was “unclean.” Asia spoke her mind. She defended her faith. Later that day neighbors beat Asia when she returned home. Her persecutors claimed Asia confessed to having uttered derogatory remarks about the prophet Muhammad when confronted at the well in the berry field. And the next day the local cleric, Qari Muhammad Salaam, filed a complaint against Asia.       
 
Asia was charged and convicted of blasphemy in 2010. In Pakistan, a blasphemy conviction carries a mandatory death sentence. The local authorities  sentenced her to death by hanging.  
 
Asia languished in prison for more than eight years. Prison officials gave her food to cook, knowing that she would likely be poisoned if she ate with the general prison population. They also placed her in solitary confinement and limited her contact with anyone outside of her immediate family. The years of imprisonment must surely have taken their toll.


Most Pakistanis accused of blasphemy don’t live long. Mob rule executes the death sentence long before the government has the chance to do so. In last year’s annual report, the U.S. Commission on International Freedom once again recommended Pakistan be identified as “a country of particular concern.” It specifically mentioned Asia as an example of the “continued misuse [of blasphemy laws] against religious minorities and progressive Muslims.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heeded the Commission’s advice and listed Pakistan among those countries guilty of severe religious freedom violations.

Nevertheless, last October a three-judge panel of the Pakistani Supreme Court overturned Asia’s conviction. It said that the prosecution had “categorically failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.” Not only that, but the case was based on flimsy evidence and proper procedures had not been followed. The panel pointed out that Asia’s alleged confession had been made in front of a crowd “threatening to kill her.”   Asia Bibi was, it seemed, free at last …

… but her freedom proved fleeting.
 
Qari Muhammad Salaam, the local cleric who brought the complaint against Asia, demanded she be prevented from leaving Pakistan and led widespread protests of the ruling. He also filed a petition for reconsideration by Pakistan’s Supreme Court. Salaam argued that the Supreme Court panel failed to meet the standards of jurisprudence or Islamic law and the "normal principle of justice with reference to application in blasphemy laws.”


Well aware that some of their countrymen are violently intolerant of Pakistan’s religious minorities, the three judges will decide Tuesday whether to defend their October 2018 acquittal or back away from it. It’s a moment for Pakistan, but for the United States and the rest of the civilized world, too. In one of our allies in the war on terror, the rule of law and religious freedom, to say nothing of a mother-of-five’s life, hang in the balance. Will the story of Asia Bibi end in her freedom or martyrdom?

 

The collapse of our country: the antidote

By Bishop Arthur Serratelli

Beneath the soil of every continent lie buried the ruins of fallen civilizations. The Sumerians, Akkadians, Mayans, Assyrians, Babylonians, Minoans, Romans: all of them, faded memories of past grandeur and glory. History records the collapse of at least thirty-two major civilizations that once thrived and prospered before our time. 

No great civilization is built in a day. No great civilization disappears in a single instant. Historians try to explain how these civilizations once so great have slowly vanished into the dustbin of history. Weather, economics, population decline, wars, politics are some of the reasons that they offer. But, ultimately, a civilization disappears when it loses its identity, forfeits its unity and jettisons its commitment to the common good.

Today’s relentless front-page news reports of scandal and sin (many times, stale news served up as current), the incessant discord of our politicians, the unending string of acrimonious tweets, and the rage of angry voices make one wonder whether or not we are facing the decline of our own civilization. Has our unity as a nation become so fragmented that it cannot be repaired?

The TV sitcoms, the talk shows, the din of warring cable news channels do little to promote serious discourse. Rather, they seem at times to make us despair of receiving unbiased reporting. They hardly inspire us to respond to the gospel’s clarion call for truth, justice, compassion and charity. Have we lost our commitment to the common good? Are we in the midst of an unstoppable decline of our nation? 

Some say this is the age of tolerance. As a result, good and evil, right and wrong, vice and virtue, truth and error are accepted as equally valid. But, this is not the age of tolerance. Those who are pro-life are marginalized. Those who cherish and protect the life of the child waiting-to-be-born, the elderly and the terminally ill are branded as bigots, unwilling to show compassion to those suffering. Those who accept the sanctity of marriage and human sexuality as designed by the Creator are vilified. We live at a time when some are not only intolerant to our basic Christian values, but are actively engaged to silence Christians, target the Church and reduce her to ruins. 

In an age of relativism, has it become almost impossible to dialogue rationally on the major issues that face us, such as poverty, migration, and the sanctity of life itself ? “Relativism is the order of the day. Good and evil, right and wrong, innocence and guilt – all these binaries are deliberately confused as antipodal extremes are brought into artificial congruence. Moral clarity is muddled and logical cogency diluted. All inherent preference is suspended out of a misguided attempt to achieve balance where there is none” (Brandon Marlon, “The Decline and Fall of Modern Civilization: 8 Simple Steps to Squandering It All,” The Algemeiner, January 22, 2015).

From the Church, we receive a rich heritage of truth, morality and charity. We have solid and clear moral principles given to us by Jesus. These are the solid building blocks with which to construct a just and peaceful society. Could it be that we ourselves are slowly abandoning these principles? How is it possible that those trained in the Catholic faith assume leadership roles in government and then jettison their Catholic morals? How is it that any one of us can remain complacent to the slow moral deterioration of our country? 

Our country will not collapse if we refuse to hand over our future to those who deny the existence of God and live as if this world is all that there is. Our society will not collapse if we are courageous enough to draw on our moral and spiritual heritage to solve the issues that divide us. Our nation will not collapse if we remain true to our identity given to us by our Founding Fathers as a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Our courage as moral individuals to stand for justice, truth and compassion is the antidote to the collapse of our country.