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ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
Updated: 19 min 51 sec ago

How one Hawaiian Catholic family got ready for the missile that never came

7 hours 29 min ago

Honolulu, Hawaii, Jan 16, 2018 / 05:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- It started out as a regular Saturday morning for most Hawaiians, including Dallas and Monica Carter and their five children.

Monica was getting breakfast ready for the kids before a busy day when the warning blared across smartphone screens throughout the island:

BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

It was the same kind of warnings Hawaiians are used to receiving for tsunamis and hurricanes - the kind of warning they’re used to heeding.

“That was quite terrifying, of course,” Dallas Carter, a theology lecturer for the Diocese of Honolulu, told CNA. Immediately, Dallas and Monica sprang into action, albeit in different ways.

Looking back, “it was a great dynamic to see how we reacted together but in different ways to the same crisis,” he said.

Dallas said he had four thoughts once he had processed the alert. The first was: “Oh (no) I haven’t gone to confession yet!” It was Saturday, and the family often goes on Sundays before Mass.

“Number two was, ok, how do I do this perfect contrition thing? Number three was we have to get the kids praying rosary, and number four was ‘where’s my whiskey,’” he recalled.

Soon after the initial warning, Dallas ran to the neighbors to see if they had gotten the same alert, and checked on some elderly neighbors while formulating a possible plan to get his family to the shelter of his concrete classroom.

When he ran back inside the house, he found that his wife had placed the family’s Our Lady of Guadalupe statue in the middle of the breakfast table, and all of the kids were praying the rosary. She had not long ago read a story about Jesuits in Hiroshima who were spared during the atomic bomb, and was inspired to start praying the rosary in part because of their story.

“My wife did probably the more important thing and she prayed,” he said.

“She said we can try to get to the classroom, but if the bomb hits, we’re goners, but what we can do is pray,” Dallas recalled. “The best possibility (of surviving) isn’t my concrete classroom, the best possibility is that the Blessed Mother provide us a miracle.”

Mariah, 11, the eldest of the Carter siblings, was awoken by her nine-year-old brother who ran into her room telling her there about the bomb threat.

“I remember thinking what’s going on? I literally just wanted to pray, I wanted to pray,” Mariah told CNA.

“I concentrated so hard on the rosary, I was like ‘come on Mary I know you can do this,’” she said.

Dallas said his 9 year-old son kept asking if they were going to die, and he wasn’t sure how to answer, objectively.

“That’s the first time in our lives that my kid asked me that, and I didn’t know what to say,” he said. Dallas and Monica tried to comfort their son by telling him it was an adventure that the whole family was on together.

After a few minutes, the family caught a glimmer of hope amidst the initial terror when Dallas called to check in on his parents, who were skeptical of the alert in the first place. Because they don’t have smartphones, they weren’t used to receiving alerts in that way, and thought it somehow must have been a fluke.

Furthermore, the missile sirens, which were tested on a monthly basis on the island, had not gone off at all, another sign that perhaps not all was as dire as it seemed.  

Desperate for news, Dallas ran to his truck to turn on the radio. Instead of hearing static, or more warnings, he heard a football game and talk radio - nothing out of the ordinary.

The family started to breath a little easier, but they would wait - along with the rest of the island - for another 30 minutes before they got the official all-clear. They would later learn that the false message was an error on the part of an employee at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.  

After that, most of the rest of their plans for the day fell through - its hard to go about your business after thinking your obliteration imminent.

The next day was Sunday, and his family’s parish was packed, a phenomenon he has personally dubbed the #MissileConversions. The pews were filled, and the line for confession was out the door. Friends from throughout the island said their parishes were the same.

Even though the crisis was a false alarm, Dallas said he and his family joined the confession line anyway, as a way of giving thanks for being able to go to confession again.

In his homily, the priest tried to bring a little levity to the grave situation that had caused so many to fill the pews out of a strange mix of subsequent fear and gratitude, Dallas said.

“He said you know that bible verse where it says Jesus will come again like a thief in the night? Well it looks like he almost came like a thief in the morning,” Dallas recalled.

Afterward Mass, the whole parish community had a barbeque at the beach.

“Yesterday’s beach session with friends and family was just the right amount of post-missile scare therapy,” he said.  

The harrowing experience also taught Dallas a few things in terms of material, and more importantly, spiritual, preparation.

Materially, he said, he found his hand-held radio and placed it in a prominent place on his desk, so that he wouldn’t have to run out to his truck in an emergency situation.

Spiritually, he said he learned: “Don’t play around with grace. Be in the state of grace, be prepared,” he said.

“And it doesn’t mean to get on your knees and don’t take shelter, but have the spiritual part ready. Don’t forget to recourse to the greatest resource we have in situations like that, which is prayer, especially to the Blessed Mother who isn’t going to let her children suffer and go through something that isn’t the will of God,” he said.

On a lighter note, he said he also learned: “Have the whiskey more readily available. I’d have the rosary in one hand and my favorite whiskey in the other.”

 

Meet the spiritual powerhouses of the pro-life movement

10 hours 28 min ago

Washington D.C., Jan 16, 2018 / 02:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Walk along in the March for Life and you may see them: a swarm of women – many of them young – dressed in long blue habits, white veils blowing in the breeze.

They are the Sisters of Life and they have  a message for women and for the pro-life movement: “You are not alone.”

“We really see ourselves primarily as a spiritual entity that intercedes for and upholds the work of the pro-life movement,” explained Sr. Mary Elizabeth, SV, Vicar General of the Sisters of Life.

She also said she hopes that the pro-life movement knows that they can depend upon the Sisters’ prayers and support: “They are not alone and they have a family of Sisters who love them very much and are praying for them daily.”

Joseph Zwilling, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of New York, where the Sisters of Life were founded, said he believes the Sisters of Life have already made a tremendous impact on the culture since their founding. “It’s about 25 years later and the Sisters of Life are growing, they’re thriving and they’re everywhere” he told CNA.

“Help Wanted: Sisters of Life”

While it may be impossible to quantify the full impact of the Sisters’ prayers and efforts, Zwilling said, “I truly believe that they have helped through their prayer, through their example, they’ve helped to change people’s minds and hearts about this issue.”

“I think that in the long run that’s going to be their greatest contribution.”

The Sisters’ journey began in 1990 with a newspaper column by then-Cardinal John O’Connor of New York. “This really was the brainchild of Cardinal O’Connor,” Zwilling said.

In the 1990s Cardinal O'Connor was a prominent leader in the pro-life movement in the Church and in the country, and saw the issue of abortion as one of the most pressing need of the time. Before acting, the cardinal reflected on the long history within the Church of the Holy Spirit giving life to religious communities able to meet these these challenges.

Cardinal O’Connor suggested  in his column that it was time for another order able to respond to the challenges of abortion. The piece was titled simply: "Help Wanted: Sisters of Life.”

Eight sisters answered the call, formally founding a community on June 1, 1991. During this time, they lived temporarily with the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate in the Bronx, praying, fasting, attending Eucharistic adoration, and discerning their vocations.

Sr. Josamarie, SV, was one of these first women to join the Sisters of Life. “None of us had been religious sisters before,” she said of herself and the other seven women who were part of the initial novice class. Moreover, God “called us from various things” – the young women had such backgrounds as scientists, college professors, and librarians.

As the sisters prepared themselves for a life of prayer and ministry to the most vulnerable in society, Cardinal O’Connor also introduced the Sisters of Life to members of the pro-life movement, including Mother Teresa.

Today, the order is thriving, with more than 100 Sisters, whose average age is mid-30s.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth joined the Sisters of Life in 1993 after graduating from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, having heard the cardinal talk on campus during her junior year. Already involved in pro-life activism, Sr. Mary Elizabeth explained that she “wanted to be part of the solution, offering other options to women” who felt like they had no options and turned to abortion out of desperation.

A Life of Prayer

The foundation of the Sisters of Life ministry and daily life is prayer and contemplation, explained Sister Mary Elizabeth. “Our spirituality is Eucharistic-centered and Marian,” she told CNA. In each of their convents, the Sisters participate in Mass and spend a Holy Hour in Eucharistic adoration daily. In addition, the sisters gather together to pray the Liturgy of the Hours throughout the day.

As part of the group’s Marian focus, the Sisters of Life also pray a rosary together “to support the works of the pro-life movement in our country and throughout the world each day.”

The Sisters of Life also draw upon the example of Mary in their spirituality, and from there, the way they engage other aspects of their lives: “A deep part of our spiritual life is living out a spiritual maternity, and so we take Mary as our model.” Sister Mary Elizabeth said the sisters’ goal is to carry Christ’s presence with them and to echo Mary’s “yes” to life and to Christ.



The Sisters of Life from The Sisters of Life on Vimeo.

One of the examples of Mary’s maternity they seek to emulate is her decision to journey forth and visit her cousin, Elizabeth, after the Annunciation. “Just as at the Visitation the presence of Jesus in Mary radiated out” and filled her cousin with joy, Sr. Mary Elizabeth said, “so we can have the same life and power dwelling within us and radiating out from us to touch all those women that we encounter every day who are pregnant and in need and hopefully them with joy and with hope.”

The sisters also seek to bring the example of Mary’s receptivity and welcome into the way they treat people – by recognizing the unique dignity of every person. When sisters encounter someone, Sr. Mary Elizabeth said, “we’re not in a rush, we’re not in a hurry.” This patience and attention, she continued, is “deeply rooted in our belief that every human person is created as a unique manifestation of God.”

“It’s a way we live out our spiritual maternity,” Sr. Mary Elizabeth noted.

As a contemplative and apostolic order, however, their prayer life does not stop at the sanctuary doors, but carries over into their ministry, too. “Our prayer kind of fuels our apostolic efforts, and then our apostolate brings us back to prayer,” Sr. Mary Elizabeth noted. “We can bring all those people we are working with to the Lord throughout the day.”

A Mission to Save Lives

The ministry of the Sisters of Life’s apostolate is focused upon the defense of human life at all stages. Sisters in each of the convents participate in a range of missions, from ministry with women facing crisis pregnancies or regret after an abortion to study of bioethics and theology.

At the center of the Sisters of Life’s apostolate is the Holy Respite Mission, a sanctuary in the Upper West Side of Manhattan for pregnant women in crisis situations to come and live with the sisters, join in the community and prayer life of the sisters, and stay until they are ready to go back into the world after the birth of their child. Women typically stay with the sisters between six months and a year.

Just a few blocks uptown lies the sisters’ Visitation Mission, which offers “practical support and compassion to women who are pregnant and find themselves in a crisis,” Sr. Mary Elizabeth explained. “Most of the women that come to us have been abandoned by everyone and are unsure of what they’re going to do.” The Sisters of Life serve around 1,000 women each year.  

The sisters, along with a crew of volunteer lay helpers called the Co-Workers of Life, provide women with the practical support they need. “We provide everything,” Sr. Mary Elizabeth elaborated, from physical needs like diapers, bottles, strollers, cribs, baby clothes, and maternity clothes, to other forms of aid like helping women find safe housing, moving help, navigating challenges with college administrators or employers, writing resumes, and finding jobs.

In addition, some Co-Workers of Life open their homes as a safe space for women in crisis and offer their friendship and support. Even simple gestures like talking or texting with expectant mothers can be an immense help for women with few other sources of support.

“They’re being pressured into having an abortion by their family, by their friends, by the medical community, their employers – it’s really outrageous,” Sr. Mary Elizabeth said. “They just need someone who’s supporting them and encouraging them in their decision to keep their child.”

Another important service the Sisters of Life provide is hope and healing outreach to women who have had abortions. “From the beginning, Cardinal O’Connor was very sensitive to those who had suffered the wounds of abortion,” explained Sr. Josamarie. Many women, she continued, feel pressured into abortion and then are left to suffer through the emotions alone afterwards.

Sisters provide opportunities to “work through” feelings of grief, anger and other emotions by counseling women, as well as offering specialized retreats where women also have access to the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, in addition to someone who will listen to them as they process their experience.

“It’s our experience that women hold this secret and don’t speak about it to others,” Sr. Mary Elizabeth added on the experience of post-abortive women. “It’s a tremendous burden that they handle alone.”

Finally, the sisters engage in a range of outreach and evangelization activities through their retreat center in Stamford, Conn., and their presence at pro-life and Catholic events such as World Youth Day, the March for Life in Washington, D.C., and the Walk For Life in San Francisco. These activities compliment the education work the sisters do through their pro-life library, their support of the Respect Life/Family Life Office for the Archdiocese of New York, research in their House of Studies in Maryland, and talks on college campuses and in parishes.

With their lives dedicated to the defense of life every day of the year, the Sisters aim to revitalize a love for life in the world.

Their hope, Sister Mary Elizabeth said, is to be “a spiritual force that generates a new culture of life within the minds of hearts of men and women across the world.”

If the thousands of lives they touch every year are any indication, they are well on their way.

This article was originally published on CNA Jan. 27, 2017.

Florida lawmakers consider mandatory ‘marriage prep’ guide

12 hours 29 min ago

Tallahassee, Fla., Jan 16, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A bill presented to the Florida House of Representatives on Jan. 8 would require couples to review a state-published “Healthy Marriage Guide” before tying the knot.

“The statistics have been staggering over the years for divorces and kind of the subsequent problems that go along with that, like children who don’t have families that are put together,” said Republican Representative, Clay Yarborough, according to CBS 47.

Yarborough introduced the bill to the state House days after Republican Kelli Stargel introduced a version of it to the Senate.

The legislation would establish the Marriage Education Committee, who will be appointed by Florida’s Senate president, state speaker of the house, and the state’s governor. The six-person committee would develop the guide, serving a maximum term of one year.

Couples would be required to read the guide as a prerequisite for a marriage license. The guide would cover communication skills, fiscal control, conflict management, spousal abuse, and parenting responsibilities.

Additionally, the guide would offer marital advice and resources for extra premarital education or for potentially failing marriages.

The legislation’s supporters say that money for the project will be funded by private sources, but the financial backers have not been clearly identified.

If passed, the act would take effect in July 1, 2018.

What Eminem has to say about post-abortion regret

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 16:37

Denver, Colo., Jan 15, 2018 / 02:37 pm (CNA).- After an abortion,men and women can experience deep feelings of sadness and emptiness, suicidal thoughts, dreams of the aborted child, trouble with intimacy and difficulty bonding with future children, according to an expert in the field.

Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel and the National Office for Post Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, told CNA Jan. 11  these experiences are “a big secret” nobody wants to address, which sometimes prevents women and men who have been involved in an abortion from talking about their difficulties.

“There's a lot involved there,” she said, explaining that many abortion clinics and post-abortion websites will tell women that having an abortion was a good thing, but minimize adverse reactions by saying “we understand you might be feeling bad.”

However, Thorn –  a certified trauma counselor and a member of the member of the Pontifical Academy for Life – said that despite apparent reassurances that feelings of sadness and regret are no big deal, the reality is that post-abortion, men and women both are “haunted by this experience.”

According to a recent report from the Guttmacher Institute, some 56 million abortions were performed globally each year between 2010-2014, with 25 percent of all pregnancies during those years ending in abortion.

The highest number of abortions took place in developing nations, as well as many eastern European countries. While the number of annual abortions in developed nations dropped significantly during the years of the study, it rose in underdeveloped nations, mostly due to population growth, according to the study.

But despite the relative silence on the post-abortive experience, some celebrities have spoken out about the profound pain and regret they feel over past abortions, some of which took place years ago.

Among the high-profile personalities who've addressed the issue are Eminem, Sinead O'Connor, Nicki Minaj, Kid Rock, and Kenny Rogers.

In his new album “Revival,” released Dec. 15, 2017, Eminem includes a song called “River,” telling the story of a man who had an affair with a woman, and the couple’s choice to end a pregnancy through abortion.

The chorus of the song talks about the pain he feels, and his desire for forgiveness from the “sins” of his past: “I've been a liar, been a thief/Been a lover, been a cheat/All my sins need holy water, feel it washing over me/Well, little one/I don't want to admit to something/If all it's gonna cause is pain/The truth and my lies now are falling like the rain/So let the river run.”

Later, in the last verse of the song, he speaks to both the woman and the baby, saying: “I made you terminate my baby/This love triangle left us in a wreck, tangled/What else can I say? It was fun for a while/Bet I really woulda loved your smile/ Didn't really wanna abort, but – it/What's one more lie, to tell our unborn child?”

Similarly, in her 2012 track “Autobiography,” Nicki Minaj refers to an abortion she had at 16. In the song, she asks her child for forgiveness, saying “I'm trapped in my conscience/I adhered to the nonsense, listened to people who told me I wasn't ready for you.”

“But how the – would they know what I was ready to do? And of course it wasn't your fault (no)/It's like I feel you the air, I hear you saying 'Mommy don't cry, can't you see I'm right here?' (yes)/ I gotta let you know what you mean to me, when I'm sleeping, I see you in my dreams with me.”

In his song “Abortion,” released in 2000, Kid Rock talks about the grief of a father after an abortion that is so great he contemplates suicide, saying “I've never heard you cry I've never seen you whine...I must die to get to you...where's my gun...”

Kenny Rogers released the song “Water and Bridges” in 2006, in which he sings about decisions that are “much too late to change.../How a father could have held his son/If I could undo what's been done/But I guess everyone is living/With water and bridges.”

Thorn said Sinead O'Connor was the first artist she ever heard sing about abortion in her 1990 track “My Special Child,” which talks about the sadness she experienced after she had an abortion after a relationship broke down.  

Each of the sentiments expressed by these artists “are common experiences,” Thorn said, explaining that men and women can have different reactions to abortion based on their biology and experiences of pregnancy.  

For women between the ages of 11-19, Thorn noted that their brains haven't finished developing, and they operate mostly out of the amygdala, which is the fear center of the brain. Many young women who have abortions, then, “make this decision out of fear.”

A woman's brain can't fully process trauma until 25, when the corpus callosum, which is “the linker between the right brain and left brain,” becomes fully active, Thorn said, explaining that in the early years of her pro-life work, she couldn't understand why most of her calls were from women around 25 years old.

“I thought that was the weirdest thing in the world,” she said, noting that it wasn't until several years later when she learned more about brain research that she understood women were calling “because now they can process it.”

For the woman who's had an abortion and is struggling with the decision, “we have to remember that she's a mother who lost her child in a traumatic and unnatural fashion,” Thorn said. “Society says abortion is a simple medical procedure, but we don't talk about what really happens.”

In terms of biology, Thorn said pregnant women go through something called “microchimerism,” in which cells from the child pass to the mother. And in cases of abortion or miscarriage, women carry more cells from those children than children they give birth to.

“These cells are part of biological knowledge, someone's missing,” she said, explaining that the feelings could come up at any time, even years later, but at a certain point there is a “trigger-incident', and I'm suddenly aware that that abortion was an offending event.”

The sense of loss that comes after is enormous, she said. And while globally abortion is discussed as something that “solves a problem” as simple as a fixing a bunion, “it's much, much deeper, and that knowledge of the cells makes a difference.”

“The sadness, this sense of responsibility, 'I did this.' Those are all parts of her experience,” Thorn said, adding that many times a woman will have a second or third abortion because “she's compelled to get pregnant again. It's a biological thing. She started the cycle of pregnancy and all the changes that go with it, and didn't finish it.”

And it's not just women. Men also have a biological experience, she said, and can tell that a woman is pregnant before she herself knows “because our scent changes...at four weeks we smell different.”

If the woman is with her partner during pregnancy, his body also undergoes “the whole raft of changes, hormonal and other things.” Men, she said, frequently experience “couvade,” also called “sympathy pregnancy,” in which they have some of same symptoms as the expectant mother.

As the end of the pregnancy gets nearer, the man's hormones “go crazy,” Thorn said. “His testosterone drops, his estrogen goes up, he gets more of a bonding hormone and he gets a nursing hormone for at least six weeks. We don't talk about that. But those are real, physiological changes.”

She said there are many men who would have tried to stop the abortion of their child if they'd had the chance. “They would have put their life in front of a car, and they grieve deeply, deeply.”

There are the men who wanted the abortion and later regret it, there are men who wanted to keep the baby but were told it wasn’t not their decision, and there are men who were never told about a pregnancy and didn't find out until years after the abortion and are “blown out of the water,” Thorn said.

“For men, in a sense the grief for men is difficult because they're told that they should have no feelings about this. It's her body, it's her life, it's none of your business, so he doesn't have a place to turn,” she added.

In the end, “they turn to drugs, they turn to pornography because they swore they'll never touch a woman again, depression, all kinds of things.”

She said it's important for men to have a voice in the discussion because “biologically they are changed by the pregnancy, there's a physiological thing going on here. He can't control that, that's biology. God is turning him into a father.”

Suicide is also frequent and strong temptation for both men and women post-abortion, she said, recalling stories she's heard of men with seemingly perfect lives who jumped from bridges and no one understood why until a friend or relative revealed that there had been an abortion that the man “had never recovered from.”

Thorn said that just a few years ago in Milwaukee there was a murder-suicide prompted by an abortion in which a man killed his girlfriend and then killed himself after she had an abortion he did not want.

Many men who would have tried to stop the abortion of their child but couldn't do it at times confess to having “violent thoughts” because “they couldn't protect” their baby, Thorn said. “It's this sense of male impotence, not sexual impotence, but that men are protectors, and they really struggle with that.”

Women, especially during the teen years, “are ten times more likely to attempt suicide after an abortion in the months that follow, that first six to eight months,” Thorn said. “That tells you the depth of the woundedness.”

After those first months, “denial kicks in,” she said, noting that while women will say they are doing fine, “they're emotionally very numb.”

Commitment also becomes an issue for men and women after abortions, she said, explaining that “only about 30 percent of couples survive abortions as a couple.”

If they move on to another relationship, they often won't tell their partners about feelings of betrayal or regret, “and that's going to be an intimacy killer in the bedroom, because she doesn't trust men – the one she was with forced her to have an abortion – and he doesn't women, it was his fiance that had his child aborted, so this is a huge wound.”

Women suffering from an abortion loss will often go into a “shut-down” phase, she said, noting that it is these women who become staunch defenders of abortion, and are the loudest voices arguing that it’s a woman's right.

“That's another way to cope,” she said. Pointing to various stories of people who have left the abortion industry, Thorn noted that “almost all of them had their own abortions first or during that time. It's a way to cope with what they've done; I need it, other women must need it, so I'm going to protect that right.”

“It's a very incredibly deep sadness and women never forget. They have the biology that makes it impossible to forget, it's always a part of them,” she said, adding that in her experience, the people who have found help and healed from past abortions “never support abortion again.”

Abortion can also affect parenting and one's relationship with future children, because women who don't heal after an abortion “don't bond very well in a different pregnancy. They're very over protective, but sometimes they're emotionally distant from their child.”

Fathers, on the other hand, “are overly committed to the child and become enmeshed, they really sort of take the role of the mother and push the mother away.”

Other family members, such as siblings or cousins, are also affected by abortion, she said, noting that she has met many people who grew up with a strong sensation that they should have had a brother or sister, and only later found out that an abortion had taken place.

In her view, Thorn said there is not enough discussion or awareness about the effects of abortion “because it's an uncomfortable piece, because there are so many abortions and people do not want to talk about it.”

“But what we're seeing in these songs is people are finding a way to tell their story to somebody in hopes that somebody's listening, and that's part of the healing process, is an opportunity to tell the story,” she said.

The fact that so many songs are being sung about the topic is “an indication that people are looking for a way to speak the truth about what happened,” she said, “and that's a way to do it if that's your talent and your gift.”

 

If you or someone you know is suffering after abortion, confidential non-judgmental help is available:

Call Project Rachel's national toll-free number: 888-456-HOPE(-4673) or visit HopeAfterAbortion.org.

Spanish-speakers may visit EsperanzaPosaborto.org”

Help is also available for men at http://menandabortion.info/

 

 

A look at world's 50 most anti-Christian countries

Mon, 01/15/2018 - 13:55

Washington D.C., Jan 15, 2018 / 11:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There are more than 215 million persecuted Christians worldwide according to the 2018 World Watch List, Open Doors USA's annual ranking of the 50 worst countries for violence and persecution against Christians.

The report found that one in twelve Christians worldwide are victims of violent persecution. Open Doors USA cites the spread of radical Islam and increasing religious nationalism as the two major drivers of global Christian persecution.

North Korea tops the list of worst offenders, as it has for the past 16 years. Although the communist North Korean government claims to provide freedom of religion in its constitution, no one can be openly Christian within the atheist state without facing arrest, re-education in a labor camp, or, in some cases, execution.

Despite the danger, Open Doors USA finds that there has been tremendous growth in underground Christianity in North Korea in the last two decades. The report estimates that there might be up to 300,000 Christians living clandestinely in North Korea.

Afghanistan comes in a close second in this year’s World Watch List ranking. Afghan citizens in this 99 percent Muslim country are banned from becoming Christian. Open Doors USA reports that underground Christians in Afghanistan have been killed by their own family members, who viewed the Christian conversion as a shameful apostasy.

Islamic oppression continues to be a growing concern for many Christians around the world. For eight of the top ten countries on the World Watch List, Islamic extremism is the primary cause of Christian persecution.

Islamic militancy has been on the rise in Somalia, where Christians, if discovered, are often martyred. Christians in Egypt, India, Libya, and Kazakhstan also experienced increased persecution since last year’s report.

Pakistani Christians experienced the most documented violence according to the report. Islamic militants in Pakistan specifically target Christians. A suicide bomb on Easter Sunday 2016 killed 74 people and injured hundreds more.

In addition to the spread of radical Islam, the report identified a rise in religious nationalism and intense persecution in central Asia as major trends in the persecution of Christians. Hindu nationalism has increased in India and Nepal, as has Buddhist nationalism in Burma and Sri Lanka. And persecution of Christians in central Asian nations, including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan, is intensifying under nationalist, pro-Islamic governments.

Also included on the list were Mexico and Colombia, where organized crime and corruption were cited as the source of Christian persecution.

Open Doors USA documented that 3,066 Christians were killed; 1,252 were abducted; 1,020 were raped or sexually harassed; and 793 churches were attacked within the reporting period for the 2018 World Watch List.

The World Watch List includes specific prayers requests for each of the top 50 countries, recalling Open Doors USA's founder Brother Andrew’s faith in the power of prayer to aid those who are suffering afar: “Our prayers can go where we cannot … There are no borders, no prison walls, no doors that are closed to us when we pray.”

The nuns who witnessed the life and death of Martin Luther King

Sun, 01/14/2018 - 19:17

Washington D.C., Jan 14, 2018 / 05:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- This Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be the first without Sister Mary Antona Ebo, the only black Catholic nun who marched with civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Ala in 1965.

“I'm here because I’m a Negro, a nun, a Catholic, and because I want to bear witness,” Sister Mary Antona Ebo said to fellow demonstrators at a March 10, 1965 protest attended by King. Ebo was, in fact, the only African-American nun at the protest.

The protest took place three days after the “Bloody Sunday” clash, where police attacked several hundred voting rights demonstrators with clubs and tear gas, causing some severe injuries among the non-violent marchers. 

She passed away Nov. 11, 2017 in Bridgeton, Missouri at the age of 93, the St. Louis Review reported at the time.

After the “Bloody Sunday” attacks, King had called on church leaders from around the country to go to Selma. Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter of St. Louis had asked his archdiocese’s human rights commission to send representatives, Ebo recounted to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2015.

Ebo’s supervisor, also a religious sister, asked her whether she would join a 50-member delegation of laymen, Protestant ministers, rabbis, priests and five white nuns.

Just before she left for Alabama, she heard that a white minister who had traveled to Selma, James Reeb, had been severely attacked after he left a restaurant.

At the time, Ebo said, she wondered: “If they would beat a white minister to death on the streets of Selma, what are they going to do when I show up?”

In Selma on March 10, she went to Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, joining local leaders and the demonstrators who had been injured in the clash.

“They had bandages on their heads, teeth were knocked out, crutches, casts on their arms. You could tell that they were freshly injured,” she told the Post-Dispatch. “They had already been through the battle ground, and they were still wanting to go back and go back and finish the job.”

Many of the injured had been treated at Good Samaritan Hospital, run by Edmundite priests and the Sisters of St. Joseph, the only Selma hospital that served blacks. Since their arrival in 1937, the Edmundites had faced intimidation and threats from local officials, other whites, and even the Ku Klux Klan, CNN reported.

The injured demonstrators and their supporters left the Selma church, with Ebo in front. They marched towards the courthouse, then blocked by state troopers in riot gear. She and other demonstrators then knelt to pray the Our Father before they agreed to turn around.

Despite the violent interruption, the 57-mile march would draw 25,000 participants. It concluded on the steps of the state capitol in Montgomery, with King’s famous March 25 speech against racial prejudice.

“How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” King said.

King would be dead within three years. On a fateful April 4, 1968, he was shot by an assassin at his Memphis hotel.

He had asked to be taken to a Catholic hospital should anything happen to him, and he was taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Memphis. At the time, it was a nursing school combined with a 400-bed hospital.

There, too, Catholic religious sisters played a role.

Sister Jane Marie Klein and Sister Anna Marie Hofmeyer recounted their story to The Paper of Montgomery County Online in January 2017.

The Franciscan nuns had been walking around the hospital grounds when they heard the sirens of an ambulance.  One of the sisters was paged three times, and they discovered that King had been shot and taken to their hospital.

The National Guard and local police locked down the hospital for security reasons as doctors tried to save King.

“We were obviously not allowed to go in when they were working with him because they were feverishly working with him,” Sister Jane Marie said. “But after they pronounced him dead we did go back into the E.R. There was a gentleman as big as the door guarding the door and he looked at us and said ‘you want in?’ We said yes, we’d like to go pray with him. So he let the three of us in, closed the door behind us and gave us our time.”

Hofmeyer recounted the scene in the hospital room. “He had no chance,” she said.

Klein said authorities delayed the announcement of King’s death to prepare for riots they knew would result.

Three decades later, Klein met with King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, at a meeting of the Catholic Health Association Board in Atlanta where King was a keynote speaker. The Franciscan sister and the widow of the civil rights leader told each other how they had spent that night.

Klein said being present that night in 1968 was “indescribable.”

“You do what you got to do,” she said. What’s the right thing to do? Hindsight? It was a privilege to be able to take care of him that night and to pray with him. Who would have ever thought that we would be that privileged?”

She said King’s life shows “to some extent one person can make a difference.” She wondered “how anybody could listen to Dr. King and not be moved to work toward breaking down these barriers.”

Klein would serve as chairperson of the Franciscan Alliance Board of Trustees, overseeing support for health care. Hofmeyer would work in the alliance’s archives. Last year both were living at the Provinciate at St. Francis Convent in Mishawaka, Indiana.

For her part, after Selma, Ebo would go on to serve as a hospital administrator and a chaplain.

In 1968 she helped found the National Black Sisters’ Conference. The woman who had been rejected from several Catholic nursing schools because of her race would serve in her congregation’s leadership as it reunited with another Franciscan order, and she served as a director of social concerns for the Missouri Catholic Conference.

She frequently spoke on civil rights topics. When controversy over a Ferguson, Mo. police officer’s killing of Michael Brown, a black man, she led a prayer vigil. She thought the Ferguson protests were comparable to those of Selma.

“I mean, after all, if Mike Brown really did swipe the box of cigars, it’s not the policeman’s place to shoot him dead,” she said.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis presided at her requiem Mass in November, saying in a statement “We will miss her living example of working for justice in the context of our Catholic faith.”

 

 

Catholics lament Trump's 'regrettable' comments on migrants

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 19:07

Washington D.C., Jan 12, 2018 / 05:07 pm (CNA).- Fr. Martins Emeh is a Nigerian who has been living in the United States for the past 20 years.

As a Catholic and a migrant, he told CNA that U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent remarks disparaging poor countries were “lamentable.”

On Thursday, during a meeting with lawmakers about solutions for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, Trump reportedly said he would not want more migrants coming to the United States from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.

“Why are we having all these people from s---hole countries come here?” Trump said, according to reports from the Washington Post.

On Friday, Trump tweeted that “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.” Sen. Richard Durbin, who attended the meeting, later told the Washington Post that its initial report was accurate.

Many Catholics, including Catholics who are migrants themselves, or those who have worked with migrants from these countries, said that they found the comments troublesome.

“Reports of recent disparaging remarks about African countries and Haiti have aroused great concern,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement.

“All human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, and comments that denigrate nations and peoples violate that fundamental truth and cause real pain to our neighbors...As a vigorous debate continues over the future of immigration, we must always be sure to avoid language that can dehumanize our brothers and sisters,” the bishops said.

Fr. Emeh, parochial vicar of Epiphany of the Lord parish in Katy, Texas and a Nigerian who has lived in the U.S. for the past 20 years, called the president’s comments “lamentable.”

“(T)he President, who should be the moral voice of the country, has turned out to be the divider-in-chief,” he told CNA.

Emeh said that the president’s comments show a lack of understanding of the continent of Africa, which is comprised of more than 50 countries, as well as a harsh dismissal of the poor.

“Trump isn’t Catholic so he probably doesn’t understand some of Catholic social justice teaching, but you don’t even have to be Catholic to appreciate social justice, the preferential option for the poor,” Emeh told CNA.

“The poor need our help,” he said, noting that the Statue of Liberty itself welcomes migrants to America with the quote: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

“I believe there’s a reason why that was engraved on the Statue of Liberty, that’s what this country is about,” he said. “A lot of the people who came here, including Trump’s (ancestors), to escape what he calls these ‘s---hole countries.’ His ancestors came here fleeing one, and now Trump doesn’t think that other people should have the same opportunity.”

Trump’s comments come amidst intense political debate over the status of various protected groups of migrants in the United States. These include DACA recipients and those with Temporary Protected Status, such as migrants from Haiti and El Salvador who came to the United States legally, fleeing natural disasters and violent political situations in their own countries.

David Quinn is a Catholic missionary from Hastings, Neb. who has lived in Haiti since the spring of 2015. Quinn told CNA that in his experience, Haitians who migrate to the United States come looking for work and want to contribute to society.

He added that the president’s reported comments were inhumane, especially in light of Catholic social teaching.

“We’re all brothers and sisters, and to say (those things) is to really reject part of our humanity, to reject our brothers and sisters. It’s just terrible,” he said.

Bill Canny, executive director of Migration and Refugee Services at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CNA that the president’s comments go against what Pope Francis has asked of Catholics when it comes to the issue of migration.

“The Holy Father has asked us to gaze into every migrant’s face and see Christ in their face,” he said.

He echoed Quinn’s sentiments that on the whole, migrants are hardworking people who want to contribute to society.

“We’ve seen immigrants and refugees come into this country, and 90 percent of the refugees that we resettle are working within nine months,” he said. “There are a variety of types of work in this country available to these people, and the immigrants and refugees that come in start working right away.”

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami said in statements posted to his social media accounts that DACA youth, which includes about 700,000 young people, represent the “best and the brightest” of the immigrants to the U.S.

“On Tuesday, the President suggested that he would sign whatever Congress brought him on the issue of DACA and a broader immigration reform. When he met with the bipartisan leaders to discuss their negotiations yesterday he brought with him some of the most hardline of the immigration restrictionists – people from FAIR and Numbers USA. His remarks laid bare the true motivations of those that want to close our nation to immigrants and hopefully these remarks have discredited the restrictionists' position,” he said.

“So now is the time for Congress to move ahead – to give a path to residency and citizenship to DACA recipients as well as to TPS beneficiaries, and to bring about comprehensive immigration reform that legalizes those irregular migrants already in the country and addresses border security in a rational way and provides an avenue for work-based visas when the labor market requires workers that cannot be found in the country,” he added.

Several other Catholic leaders spoke out against the president’s reported sentiments on their social media pages.

Obianuju Ekeocha, an international pro-life speaker and founder of Culture of Life Africa, said that people from the poor countries that the president reportedly disparaged understand the “inestimable worth and dignity” of every human being.

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago said in a tweet that migrants “made America great. We continue to be enriched by the gifts they bring to our shores,” he said.

Fr. Emeh added that while the president’s comments are discouraging, Christians and people of goodwill should not lose hope.

“We can’t give up. The president gets four or maybe eight years to do what he wants to do, but as preachers of the Gospel, we continue to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ,” he said.

“Jesus Christ wasn’t hanging out with just the rich, he looked to the poor, to the sick and the dying, those in need of help, and that’s where our focus should be. And as long as I live, that’s the Gospel I’ll continue to preach and live.”

 

Bill to aid victims of child pornography passes US Senate committee

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 18:38

Washington D.C., Jan 12, 2018 / 04:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The damaging effects of child pornography are undoubtedly incalculable, but a bipartisan bill has been introduced to bring its victims financial restitution and means for emotional healing.

The bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Jan. 11.

“Child pornography leaves in its wake a trail of tragedy and shattered life. While public policy may never eradicate this evil altogether, it can at least alleviate the suffering of its victims,” read a Jan. 10 op-ed by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Dr. David Corwin published in the Daily Herald.

Hatch, former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the bill Nov. 16, 2017 alongside Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Corwin is president-elect of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children.

Titled the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act, the bill is named out of respect for the victims of the some of the most widely circulated child pornography series in the world.

“Child pornography is different than other crimes in the way it continuously hurts victims,” Hatch said. “Victims of this insidious crime deserve assistance tailored to how often the offense imposes harm, especially when images are trafficked on the internet. The Amy, Vicky, and Andy Act will provide meaningful assistance for victims to help them recover and reclaim their lives.”

Feinstein said that “the sexual abuse and exploitation of children is one of the most heinous crimes and child-pornography victims are affected for the rest of their lives. Our bill makes it easier for these victims to secure restitution from those that produce and traffic child pornography.”

Unlike a bill passed over two decades ago which requires restitution for victims of sexual abuse, this new bill seeks healing for reoccurring damages of child pornography victims, which may worsen due to the explicit material being shared on the internet.

According to the op-ed, a recent study has shown that 70 percent of adults who are victims of child pornography are afraid of being recognized by someone who has viewed the images of their sexual abuse. An estimated 30 percent have reported having been recognized.

“Few could name a more traumatic experience than being sexually abused during childhood. But photographs or video of that abuse circulating on the Internet can turn a victim’s life into a never-ending nightmare,” said Hatch and Corwin.

“The Supreme Court itself has acknowledged that ‘every viewing of child pornography is a repetition of the victim’s abuse.’”

Under the bill, victims of child pornography trafficking would receive from each defendant between $3,000 and one percent of their total losses as restitution.

Victims of child pornography production could receive a single compensatory payment of $35,000.

Perpetrators would be fined up to $17,000 for possession, $35,000 for distribution, and $50,000 for production crimes.

“The ongoing nature of child pornography’s harm means that its victims can require lifelong treatment to address their chronic distress,” Hatch and Corwin said, noting the money could fund the physiological aid that may be necessary for healing.

Child pornography victims would have the same access to images depicting them as do defendants, so as to facilitate victim identification, forensic analysis, and treatment.

Although the bill is still in its early stages, the victims after whom the bill is named have expressed gratitude for its introduction, and have called on Congress to advance it.

“I’m lucky, and so is Vicky and Amy and so many other mostly silent victims out there, to have you on our side and everyone else in the Senate,” said Andy, one of the victims.

“This bill is an important and needed step in the process of healing and making those who have harmed so many accountable for the damage done. We are thankful for the efforts of all who have brought this to this point and urge Congress to go the last mile to make this happen,” wrote Vicky and her husband.

Father Matthew Lamb, influential American theologian, dies at 80

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 13:43

Ave Maria, Fla., Jan 12, 2018 / 11:43 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Father Matthew Lamb, the Cardinal Maida Chair of Theology at Ave Maria University, died early Friday morning, the university announced. A fitting conclusion to a life dedicated to education and a teaching career of 45 years, Lamb died in the company of two graduate students, who were keeping a prayer vigil at his bedside.  

He died after a brief illness caused by pulmonary fibrosis. Lamb was 80 years old.  Officials at Ave Maria University report that in the days leading to his death, he spoke openly about his desire to meet Jesus, and received the anointing of the sick and the Eucharist.

Lamb was born in Washington, D.C., in 1937, and entered the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Spirit in May, 1952. He was ordained a priest in 1962 in the Abbey Church. He later became a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

He earned a licentiate in sacred theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1966, and in 1974, completed a doctorate in theology at the Westfalsche Wilhems University in Munster, Germany.  

During doctoral studies in Germany, he was formed by influential philosophers and theologians Josef Pieper, Fr. Bernard Lonergan, and Fr. Josef Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI.

Lamb taught at Marquette University, and later Boston College. While teaching in Boston, he was a cofounder of an influential academic study group on the work of St. Thomas Aquinas, which drew scholars from Boston College, Harvard University, Providence College, and other institutions.  

He co-founded the Society for Catholic Liturgy in 1995, and the Academy for Catholic Theology in 2007. He served as a board member of the American Academy of Religion, the Catholic Theological Society of America, the Archdiocese of Denver Theological Institute, and the John XXIII National Seminary.      

He was the author of 12 books and hundreds of scholarly articles and papers. He was a member of the editorial board for Communio, a theological journal cofounded by Fr. Josef Ratzinger.

Fr. Lamb was an advocate for the development of rigorous and faithful centers of theological study, rooted in Catholic methodologies and practices. In 1997, he wrote that “there is no doctoral program in North America with a rigorous ratio studiorum that offers an integral formation in the doctrinal and theoretical traditions of Catholic teaching.”  

In 2004 he left Boston College, with the intention of beginning such a program at Ave Maria University. For 10 years, he served as chairman of the university’s department of theology, where he drew renowned faculty to teach scripture, patristics, and systematic theology. In 2014, he stepped down from his administrative position, but continued to teach and write.

He was known as a serious intellectual, a prudent spiritual director, and an instrumental part of the renewal of American Catholic universities after the publication of Pope St. John Paul II’s Ex corde ecclesiae in 1990.

He had been honored with an honorary doctorate from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, the Robert Bellarmine Award from the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Ex Corde Ecclesiae and Veritas Medals from Ave Maria University, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Maritain Association.

In 2014, writer Michael Novak wrote that Lamb “has passed along to others his own contemplation in the presence of the Love of the Holy Trinity, where all theology begins.”

Funeral arrangements for Fr. Lamb have not yet been announced.

'Made for Love' a new podcast focusing on marriage, family

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 05:04

Washington D.C., Jan 12, 2018 / 03:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Made for Love is a new podcast that aims to convey the truth about marriage and families by helping Catholics tell stories of God's work in their lives.

Hosted by Sara Perla, a program specialist for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Made for Love is under the aegis of Marriage: Unique for a Reason, an initiative of the bishops' conference.

While the podcast is focused on people “living out the call to love,” it is not afraid to explore the less-rosy forms of “love” in the world. During the show, Perla speaks with guests about each episode's theme, while also narrating a framework of what the episode is about.

In the series’ first three episodes, Perla discusses the relatively unique phenomenon of a priest who is able to baptize his own parents; a woman who had to care for her terminally ill spouse during the majority of their marriage; and a woman who sought a declaration of nullity for her marriage.

While these topics may seem dicey, or even dark, Perla told CNA she thought it important to share these stories, and she thinks her listeners can be helped by hearing what others have gone through.

“I do think it’s important to get real about the challenges that people face, and that we all benefit from seeing how other people get through hard times,” said Perla. She continued, saying that when someone has suffered through a trying situation, they can use what they’ve learned to help others.

“When you’ve suffered in a dramatic way, had time to process that, and come to a place where you are ready to speak about it, others can benefit from the lessons that the Lord taught you through that experience,” Perla said.

Perla hopes the podcast is able to reach Catholics who may feel alone in their faith or who might need encouragement. She also hopes that she’s able to reach non-Catholics with the podcast, and is able to convey successfully the beauty of the faith.

“If I do my job well, the podcast will inform people of the 'whys' of Catholic teaching and expose them to resources they may not have known were out there,” explained Perla. “I think it could be a useful tool for teachers and catechists as well.”

Perla hopes to to publish at least two episodes a month, and upcoming episodes will be coordinated with various awareness weeks, such as National Marriage Week.

Made for Love can be streamed on iTunes.

Couple sues abortion clinic for malpractice

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 21:00

Denver, Colo., Jan 11, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Boulder abortion clinic is accused of malpractice, after allegedly leaving nearly two inches of a fetus’ skull inside a patient’s uterus during a late-term abortion, apparently forcing a patient to undergo a hysterectomy.
 
Jennifer and Jason DeBuhr filed a lawsuit against Dr. Warren Hern and the Boulder Abortion Clinic in 2015, according to the Denver Post. The botched abortion, and subsequent hysterectomy, left the couple unable to conceive a baby.

“The harm that Dr. Hern caused is reflective of the general nature of carelessness for patients that abortionists hold,” said Matt Lamb, a spokesperson for Students for Life.  

Terry Dougherty, the couple’s attorney, said Hern allegedly failed to inform the couple of the procedure’s risks. Additionally, he said the doctor had failed to inspect the fetal remains to confirm the completion of the process, according to the Lincoln Journal-Star.

“Abortion is never safe, because at a minimum it ends the life of a preborn baby,” Lamb said.  

The clinic’s attorney, Cook Olson, has denied the accusations.

DeBuhr traveled to Boulder from Southeast Nebraska in December 2013, for an abortion during the 25th week pregnancy. A prenatal MRI had shown that her unborn child was missing a portion of his brain, and would likely live less than a year, according to court records.

Although DeBuhr says that she was not advised of any complications in the procedure, a 2014 ultrasound discovered that a 4 centimeter-long skull fragment was embedded in the wall of her uterus.

In 2016, Hern was the subject of a congressional investigation into the practices of late-term abortionists. The panel requested information on any infants who were born alive at his clinic and the babies’ records thereafter. According to the Denver Post, Hern refused to provide any of the requested documentation, calling the panel a “witchhunt.”

The Journal-Star reported that the lawsuit began Monday and is expected to last 10 days.

 

What’s the secret to happiness? The beatitudes, this priest says

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 14:27

Charleston, S.C., Jan 11, 2018 / 12:27 pm (CNA).- A parish priest in South Carolina has developed a beatitude challenge that seeks to combat cultural misunderstanding of happiness and encourage Christians to pursue authentic joy.

“The word ‘happiness’ has been hijacked by secular culture, and as Christians we want to take the word back, because that’s a word that properly belongs inside the life of the beatitudes,” said Father Jeff Kirby, pastor at Our Lady of Grace parish in Indian Land, South Carolina.

“In the end, happiness is knowing we are blessed and loved by God, and seeking always to be a blessing and an instrument of love to those around us,” he told CNA.

The “Be Blessed Challenge” has three parts: a book, a website, and a DVD.

The book is called Kingdom of Happiness: Living the Beatitudes in Everyday Life. Each of the book’s eight chapters examines one beatitude, offering examples of the virtues in daily life as well as prayers that coincide with the specific beatitude.

Also entitled Kingdom of Happiness, the companion DVD focuses on powerful stories of people who have lived the beatitudes, both in ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. An example of “Blessed are the merciful” is a woman whose brother and son were killed in the line of duty as police officers. After their deaths, she purposely reached out to the state to request the death penalty not be administered to the murderer.

The website maps out practical ways to live the beatitudes. It includes definitions of each beatitude, psalms and other reflections for each day, and challenges to implement the beatitude in a concrete way.

Father Kirby received his doctorate at Holy Cross University in Rome. He said happiness and the beatitudes were a major theme for the school’s moral theology department, but when he later became a pastor, he realized that his parishioners were pursuing happiness inadequately.

“I’ve realized that the work in the academic classroom, in theology, is not reaching as broadly as we would have liked – the peoples in the pews [and] in the trenches.”

He said the desire to instruct people in the true meaning of happiness arose out of a frustration over seeing people accept a hopeless and unhappy life as the norm.

People seem to have the impression that happiness belongs only to childhood dreams and that hopelessness is the normal human state in life.

But this belief is incorrect, he stressed. Being truly happy is found in being truly human, living out the beatitudes

“Happiness is not just about euphoria, it’s not just about an emotional high, [and] it’s not just pleasure,” he emphasized.  

True happiness is achievable, he said, but it requires a level of suffering and self-sacrifice that people rarely associated with happiness. Instead, the culture clings to hedonism, materialism, and egotism, he said.

“It will involve an aspect of sacrifice,” he acknowledged, but “if we are willing to take up that challenge and make the sacrifices, and we are willing to suffer, then we will understand the full breath and the full enrichment happiness can give to us and those around us.”

 

 

How Catholic Extension support migrants along the US-Mexico border

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 07:00

Denver, Colo., Jan 11, 2018 / 05:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A U.S. cardinal has called Catholics to support the needs of refugees and immigrants living along the 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico.

“The story of our salvation in Jesus begins with the story of refugees. The Holy Family were refugees,” reflected Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, chancellor of Catholic Extension, in a recent documentary detailing ministries supported by the missionary support apostolate.

Catholic Extension has invested more than $12 million dollars in Catholic ministries along the U.S.-Mexico border region in the past five years, according to Catholic Extension.
 
“It is at the core of who we are to ensure that those who are on a journey are protected by the Church and that we advocate on their behalf,” Cupich added

A papal society founded to support Catholic underfunded parishes and dioceses in the United States, the organization provides grants for projects that support migrants along the 2,000-mile US border with Mexico. Recent projects in the border region have included emergency shelters for women and children, and legal resources for asylum seekers.

In McAllen, Texas, parishioners of Sacred Heart Catholic Church have utilized their parish hall to aid 74,000 women and children entering the U.S. since the Central American child refugee crisis in June 2014. A $100,000 grant from Catholic Extension funded the construction of a new facility for their Humanitarian Respite Center.

The center provides a bed, warm shower, clothes, and phone service to those awaiting asylum court hearings after being paroled from detention centers. The center primarily serves families from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, countries plagued by poverty, persistent gang violation, and corruption.

“What I see is the need to respond to the dignity of the people that we see coming to our border and that need our help,” said Sister Norma Pimentel in a statement released by Catholic Extension. Pimentel was praised by Pope Francis for her leadership at the Humanitarian Respite Center during his pastoral trip to the U.S.-Mexico border last year.

The Extension-funded La Posada Providencia emergency shelter in San Benito, Texas, worked with more 350 university students and 100 other volunteers in 2016 to serve refugees and asylum seekers.

Catholic Extension funds the construction of churches, provides education for ordained and lay leaders, and supports catechetical and service ministries within geographically large, underfunded “mission dioceses,” including several in the border region.

Since its founding by Father Francis Clement Kelley in 1905, Catholic Extension has contributed more than $500 million to Catholic dioceses in need across the country, including $120 million to dioceses along the United States border with Mexico.

Cardinal: Fight racism with love to honor MLK's legacy

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 02:11

Washington D.C., Jan 11, 2018 / 12:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Americans must recommit to the fight against racism through love and faith, said the head of the U.S. bishops’ conference in the days leading up to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

“In recent years – including last summer in Charlottesville – we have glimpsed an appalling truth that lurks beneath the surface of our culture. Even with all the progress our country has made on the issue, racism remains a living reality,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a Jan. 10 statement.

“As our nation celebrates the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we are given an important time to recommit ourselves to the Gospel message he preached, that the sin of racism can be defeated by active love and the light of faith,” DiNardo continued.

The U.S. honors the legacy of Dr. King by marking the third Monday of January as MLK Day – an American federal holiday. Celebrations throughout the country commend his life and achievements in the name of equality and civil rights.

Cardinal DiNardo quoted Dr. King’s 1958 essay, in which the civil rights leader said: “Along the way of life, someone must have the sense enough and the morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethics of love to the center of our lives.”

In today’s world, DiNardo said, “breaking the chain of hate” requires not only courage, but also commitment. In addition to Dr. King’s witness, the cardinal pointed to the example of Sr. Mary Antona Ebo, a Franciscan sister who was the first African-American nun to march with Dr. King during the famous Selma to Montgomery march in 1965.

Sr. Ebo is known to have said that she marched because she was “a Negro, a nun, a Catholic, and because I want to bear witness.” She died last year at the age of 93.

“She remained a bold and dedicated champion of civil rights throughout her lifetime, and her witness should inspire our own,” DiNardo said.

He challenged Americans to renew their commitment to human dignity by following the examples of Dr. King and Sr. Ebo, working to end the plague of racism and hatred.

“We pray in confidence that Jesus Christ will remind us all that he is the most powerful means to break the chains of hate that still bind too many hearts, a truth which lies at the center of Dr. King’s legacy,” DiNardo said.

“Our challenge is to bring Dr. King’s message into the present moment in a way that inspires lasting change.”

Nebraska governor plans to block federal funds from abortion clinics

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 21:00

Lincoln, Neb., Jan 10, 2018 / 07:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Unveiled on Wednesday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts’ new state budget proposal would block federal funds from going to health clinics that provide abortion services.

Ricketts said that the move makes sense because of the values of Nebraska voters.

“Nebraska is a pro-life state, and the state’s budget should reflect those values,” Ricketts said in a statement on Monday.

The governor’s proposal takes advantage of a newly relaxed policy from Congress last year that gives states more leeway in determining the distribution of Title X funds, which are federal funds earmarked for providing family planning and related health services such as contraception.

“Thanks to action by Congress, Nebraska can now take new steps to protect unborn life by ensuring that these dollars are not used to fund abortion,” Ricketts said.

Title X funds are technically banned from being used for abortion services by the federal government, though this is often not enforced at the state level. The new Nebraska budget plan would require clinics that provide abortions either to physically and financially separate abortion clinics from their other services, or to refuse Title X funding altogether.

“With this change, no health clinics can receive funding unless they are truly separate and independent of any entity that performs abortions,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

Tom Venzor, Executive Director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, applauded the governor’s efforts to separate Title X funding from abortions.

“This provision in our state budget will finally end the use of Title X money to prop up and help finance the abortion industry in Nebraska,” Venzor told CNA. “The policy will ensure that organizations and facilities that perform, counsel for, or refer for abortion will no longer receive state money through Title X, until they separate their abortion activity from their Title X services.”

“We are thankful for a governor who works to affirm the protection of unborn life in our state,” Venzor added. The budget proposal was officially unveiled by Ricketts on Wednesday in his annual State of the State speech. If enacted, it would potentially cut funding from Planned Parenthood clinics in Lincoln and Omaha which provide abortions and any other independent clinics that provide abortion services.  

It is the second consecutive year that Ricketts has attempted to separate Title X funding from abortions. Last year, while the proposal was in the governor’s original budget plan, but it was dropped by the time it reached the full state legislature.

In a statement Monday, Lt. Governor Mike Foley said that he and Ricketts “strongly urge State Senators to enact this recommendation, and we look forward to working with them to help Nebraska’s budget reflect our pro-life values.”

Bishops stand with 'Dreamers' as DACA battles continue

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 17:54

Washington D.C., Jan 10, 2018 / 03:54 pm (CNA).- Catholic leaders have responded to developments in the legal battle over the DACA program, including a court order maintaining legal protections for undocumented youth, known as “Dreamers,” and a presidential commitment to legislative support for them.

U.S. District Judge William Alsap’s Jan. 9 order temporarily blocks President Trump’s attempt to phase out the DACA program, which was initiated by President Obama in 2012. Nearly 690,000 undocumented immigrants are beneficiaries of the DACA program. 

While President Trump has worked to phase out the program, he has also called for a legislative solution to resolve the immigration status of DACA recipients. In a televised meeting with bipartisan lawmakers Tuesday, President Trump that he hopes to reach a solution for DACA recipients with a “bill of love.”

In a recent column, Archbishop José Gomez expressed concern for the estimated 125,000 DACA recipients who live within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, all of whom could face deportation when the program ends in March.

“It would be cruel to punish them for the wrongs of their parents, deporting them to countries of origin that they have never seen, where they may not even know the language,” Archbishop Gomez wrote.

The archbishop called for systematic immigration reform, explaining that most DACA recipients have not experienced a healthy U.S. immigration system in their lifetime.

“This debate is passionate and partisan, as it should be. Systematic reform of our immigration policy is absolutely vital to our nation’s future. And we need to have this conversation. But Congress needs to separate the conversation about DACA from these larger issues.”

Deportation of DACA recipients, Gomez said, “would lead to a humanitarian crisis.”

The DACA program postponed deportation of undocumented immigrants under the age of 30, who had been brought to the U.S. before the age of 16 and lived in the U.S. since June 2007.

DACA participants are eligible to apply for work permits, obtain social security numbers, and, in most cases, apply for a driver’s license. In 2017, a group of business leaders explained that if DACA recipients were deported, “our economy would lose $460.3 billion from the national GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions.”

In a Jan.10 statement, Bishop Joe Vasquez, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, wrote that bishops are “encouraged by the consensus that emerged from yesterday’s White House meeting that Congress and the President should move expeditiously to craft and enact legislation that would provide urgently needed relief for Dreamers. For years, these young people have been living in and enriching the United States in many ways. They are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes and communities. They and their families deserve certainty, compassion, generosity, and justice.”

Vasquez also called for financially sound, effective, and safe measures to strengthen national security at the US border. “Our teaching acknowledges and respects the right of sovereign nations to control their borders,” he wrote. “However, we caution against introducing unrelated, unnecessary, or controversial elements of immigration policy—especially those that jeopardize the sanctity of families or unaccompanied children—into the bipartisan search for a just and humane solution for the Dreamers.”

The Minnesota Catholic Conference recently organized a postcard campaign urging lawmakers to support bipartisan legislation that “protects the dignity of every human being,” particularly the “immigrant youth who entered the United States as children and know America as their only home.”  Other Catholic organizations have organized similar campaigns.

“As a nation, we have a moral and humanitarian obligation to Dreamers,” Vasquez wrote.

 

Speaker Paul Ryan will headline March for Life

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 14:52

Washington D.C., Jan 10, 2018 / 12:52 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) will address the upcoming March for Life, organizers announced on Wednesday. This is the first time Ryan has spoken at the March for Life in person since he was elected speaker in 2015.

The 45th annual March for Life will take place on January 19th in Washington, D.C., and is the country’s largest pro-life protest. The event is held each year near the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.

Last year, Ryan appeared at the march via a video message, encouraging marchers and thanking them for their passion and courage in fighting for the unborn.

On Twitter, Ryan said that he looked forward to attending the March for Life, and said that he will “march to defend the rights of those who cannot defend themselves.”

 

We march to defend the rights of those who cannot defend themselves. I look forward to attending the 45th annual #MarchForLife next week. https://t.co/GVz2oVRtsQ

— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) January 10, 2018


 

March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said in a press release that she was honored that Ryan would be speaking at the March for Life. Ryan, said Mancini, is an “unwavering champion” for the cause.

“It is an honor to have Speaker of the House Paul Ryan address the 45th annual March for Life. Speaker Ryan has been an unwavering champion for the pro-life cause since taking office, and continues to utilize his post to promote the inherent dignity of the human person at all stages of life,” she said.

Ryan will be joined at the March for Life by his congressional colleagues Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), along with Tim Tebow’s mother, Pam Tebow, and Sister Bethany Madonna of the Sisters of Life. More speakers will be announced in the future.

The theme of this year’s march is “Love Saves Lives.” Over 100,000 people are expected to attend.

 

Commentators Douthat and Faggioli to debate Pope Francis

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 14:00

New York City, N.Y., Jan 10, 2018 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- Two commentators on Pope Francis, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat and Villanova University theology professor Massimo Faggioli, will debate the Pope’s impact on the U.S. and the Church.
 
The debate, titled “Francis@Five: Assessing the Legacy of Pope Francis Five Years After His Election,” will be held in New York City Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. at the 12th Floor Lounge of Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus.
 
The Center on Religion and Culture is co-sponsoring the event with the Religion News Foundation and Religion News Service. The Canada-based Salt + Light Television will be the event’s media partner, the Religion News Foundation said Jan. 8.
 
The two debate participants “offer two important and distinct perspectives on Pope Francis and his impact on the church universal, and especially the Pope’s impact on the U.S.,” said Tom Gallagher, president and CEO of the Religion News Foundation and publisher of RNS, the foundation’s subsidiary.
 
David Gibson, Director of the Center on Religion and Culture at Fordham University and a past national reporter for RNS, will moderate the event.
 
In a Sept. 20 New York Times column, Douthat had advocated more “serious argument” and “respectful debate” amongst academics, theologians, and bishops, instead of “conflicting inquisitions, liberal and conservative,” .
 
“There is no way forward save through controversy. Postpone the inquisitions; schedule arguments instead,” he wrote.
 
Douthat, who is Catholic, had noted the firings or speech cancellations affecting prominent Catholics. He mentioned Prof. Joseph Seifert, a Catholic philosopher dismissed from the University of Granada in Spain after raising questions about the Pope’s 2016 exhortation Amoris laetitia. Douthat also cited Catholic University of America’s cancellation of Father James Martin, S.J.’s appearance following controversy over his book on LGBT outreach.
 
In his Sept. 20 column, the New York Times columnist cited an October 2015 advocacy campaign of over 50 academics, organized by Faggioli, objecting to Douthat’s commentary on the Synod on the Family and questioning his ability to comment on theological affairs.
 
“I myself am only a train ride away from Professor Faggioli’s Villanova and would happily allow him to educate me on my theological deficiencies on a platform of his choosing,” Douthat said.
 
Faggioli said he welcomed the debate.
 
“The opportunities to meet in person and discuss with fellow Catholics with different perspectives have become rare these days and I am grateful to all those--Ross Douthat first of all--who made this possible,” Faggioli told CNA Jan. 9.

“I believe that the most important differences about our views of Pope Francis is in term of perspective and point of view about the meaning of this pontificate,” he said. “I try to look at Pope Francis in the framework of a global Catholicism and not just from the perspective of the United States. An exclusively American perspective makes it almost automatic for the American debate on Francis to label him as a conservative or as a liberal.”
 
Faggoli sees himself as taking “an historical perspective” on this papacy, not seeing the Francis papacy as just “a reversal or confirmation of the previous pontificate.”
 
“The narrative on Francis as the cause of instability and uncertainty in the Catholic Church today is typical of an American perspective with insufficient attention to the dynamism of Church history,” he said.

CNA contacted Douthat for comment but did not receive a response by deadline.
 
Douthat’s 2015 academic critics, including Faggioli, were themselves the subject of critique from Bishop Robert Barron.
 
“If a doctorate in theology were a bottom-line prerequisite, we would declare the following people unqualified to express an opinion on matters religious: Thomas Merton, Flannery O’Connor, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, C.S. Lewis, William F. Buckley, W.H. Auden, or to bring things more up to date, Fr. James Martin, George Weigel, and E.J. Dionne,” Bishop Barron said in October 2015 on his website Word on Fire Ministries.
 
“In point of fact, it is often the case that those outside of the official academy often have the freshest and most insightful perspectives, precisely because they aren’t sequestered in the echo-chamber of politically correct faculty lounge discourse,” he said.

Pregnant women find family at California shelter

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 05:28

Orange, Calif., Jan 10, 2018 / 03:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Raised by an alcoholic mother and without her birth father, Cordiella James found out she was pregnant while she was in jail in Orange County.

Her future at the time seemed bleak, but today, Cordiella says her life is full of blessings. She has learned how to manage her finances, is an office manager at a manufacturing employment agency, and has an apartment where she lives with her son.

Cordiella credits much of her transformation to the help and resources she received from Precious Life Shelter, a homeless shelter for pregnant women in Los Alamitos, California. She says the shelter and its programs saved her life.

“When I entered the doors of the shelter, of course I was scared, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t even know I was going to stay there,” she told CNA.

“I’ve just been very, very blessed. I just thank God and I thank the community for putting their part into Precious Life Shelter.”

Cordiella is one of more than 3,000 pregnant, homeless women who have come through the doors of Precious Life Shelter since 1989. The goal, said executive director Theresa Murphy, is helping women not only to get off the street, but to become self-sufficient.

About half of the women who move beyond the first stage of the programs offered by Precious Life Shelter will go on to remain in the job market, continue parenting their child, save money, and move into independent living, she told CNA.

Unfortunately, she noted, other women fall back into their former life. The transition out of homelessness can be extremely difficult, and even a 50 percent success rate is extremely encouraging.

Precious Life Shelter was founded by Theresa Sherrin, a volunteer at a local women’s center. One day, she and her husband received a call from the center that a young woman there was in need of a safe place to stay until her child was born.

The Sherrins, who already had six children, offered her room at their home until she had the baby, whom she placed up for adoption. After she left, the family went on to open the doors of their home to more than 44 pregnant women. Seeing how great the need was, they eventually opened Precious Life Shelter in Los Alamitos at the beginning of 1989.

“They really realized how many women did not have a safe place to stay and have their child, and the danger of termination or abuse was very great. That was the birthing of Precious Life Shelter,” continued Murphy, who has been with organization since the beginning.

The first shelter contained just six beds and two cribs, but the organization has since expanded to 32 beds and an infant care center, where daycare services are provided for 10 children under the age of two. The organization will usually see around 80-100 women a year.

Precious Life focuses heavily on teaching women to be self-sufficient, with the help of three programs to address various needs.

The first step is the Emergency Program, a short-term solution for pregnant women to have immediate shelter for up to 30 nights. This allows women to remove themselves from negative situations, such as relationship violence, drug abuse, or prostitution.

Since the organization does not allow women to repeat any level of the program, residents at this stage have the opportunity to decide whether to pursue the next step, the Transitional Program. Here, women have lodging for about two to six months, or until about two months after their baby’s birth. During that time, they participate in several character and professional development classes. They are also encouraged to reunite with their families to develop a proper support system.

If reunification with family is not possible, then the women may apply for the Single Parent Efficiency Program, which allows the mother to stay until the child is two years old. In order to qualify, the residents must have a full-time job and participate in more self-improvement courses.

For Cordiella, the programs at Precious Life Shelter offered support in gathering the identification documents necessary to find a job, and maintaining accountability in fighting substance abuse.

“Anything that you need, they help you out with…When I entered the program, I had 25 dollars and a bag of clothes, that weren’t even mine…to (now) having a two-bedroom apartment for me and my son,” Cordiella told CNA.  

“They give you an apartment, so you have to learn how to clean it, to maintain it, to take care of your child, while holding down a full-time job.”

Although reconnecting with her parents would not be healthy right now, Cordiella said she has found support through the women at the shelter, calling them her “handpicked family from God.”

As Precious Life continues to grow, Cordiella will be entering the shelter’s new permanent housing program, which will offer four women access to two-bedroom apartments at a discounted rate.

Before entering the program, many of these women have no idea how to take care of themselves or their child, Murphy said.  

But their transformations are profound and joy-filled, she continued, explaining that some women even return to give back to the shelter.

“We see those clients coming back to us either as board members, educators and mentors to our clients, or are now paying it forward to share apartments so [other women will] have a safe place to stay,” Murphy said.

 

The story behind an anti-Nazi priest and a Florida miracle

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 18:57

Palm Beach, Fla., Jan 9, 2018 / 04:57 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- More people need to know about the Dutch priest Blessed Titus Brandsma and his heroic death in a Nazi concentration camp, according to a Florida priest who says Brandsma’s intercession led to a miraculous healing from cancer.
 
“He was bold. He was brave,” Father Michael Driscoll, 76, told CNA. “He knew when he was in the pulpit preaching that there were people in the congregations taking notes for the Nazis about what he would be saying. Yet he continued.”
 
Driscoll has faced his own struggles. He was diagnosed with advanced melanoma in 2004. Shortly after that, someone gave him a small piece of Brandsma’s black suit, which the American priest applied to his head each day.
 
He underwent major surgery, with doctors removing 84 lymph nodes and a salivary gland. He then went through 35 days of radiation treatment, the Boca Raton Sun-Sentinel reports.
 
Still, his cancer had a very poor survival rate, of only 10 to 15 percent after ten years.
 
“Doctors have stated Fr. Driscoll’s cancer is now gone and have said his good health over the past 12 years defies all odds,” the Diocese of Palm Beach said Dec. 13. “They have stated his healing and recovery from Stage 4 cancer cannot be explained medically."

Driscoll recounted his doctor’s words three and a half years ago: “no need to come back, don’t waste your money on airfare in coming back here. You’re cured. I don’t find any more cancer in you.”

The apparent miracle could lead to the canonization of Bl. Titus Brandsma. The Palm Beach diocese, where Driscoll serves as a retired priest, sent its findings and evidence to the Vatican in December 2017.

Brandsma, a Netherlands-born Carmelite priest, was a professor and a journalist. He was a strong critic of Nazi ideology. After the Nazis occupied his country in May 1940, they persecuted Jewish citizens and laid increasing restrictions on others.

The priest defended freedom of Catholic education and of the Catholic press against Nazi pressures.

“He was a spokesperson for the Dutch bishops,” Driscoll said. “He got the message across against the Nazis and what they were doing against the Catholic press, the Catholic schools, the persecution of Jews, you name it.”

Due in part to Brandsma’s refusal to expel Jewish children from Catholic schools and because he opposed mandatory Nazi propaganda in Catholic newspapers, he was arrested by the Nazis in January 1942. He was was eventually sent to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, joining 2,700 other clergy. He faced inhumane conditions and abuse from his captors.

“He apparently was very kind to other prisoners, telling them to forgive the people who were persecuting them and punishing them in this prison, giving up little bits of his food to others,” Driscoll recounted.

Non-German priests weren’t allowed to celebrate Mass in the camp, where the majority of the priests were Polish.

Still, Brandsma carried out priestly duties.
 
“The German priests used to smuggle the Eucharist to him so he could distribute it to various prisoners, by an eyeglass case. That’s where he hid the Eucharist,” said Driscoll. “He would go around giving encouragement to other prisoners and giving them the Eucharist too, as best he could.”

Brandsma, who was always frail, was sent to the prison hospital.
 
“It is said that anybody who went to this prison hospital never came out,” Driscoll said. “Probably when he went there, he knew all sorts of things might happen to him.

The hospital’s doctors regularly engaged in human experimentation.
 
Driscoll said a nurse gave Brandsma a lethal injection on July 26, 1942 and he died immediately. His remains were likely cremated within a day. He was 61 years old.
 
A nurse on duty at the time of the priest’s death later testified that the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, had ordered his death.
 
“Before he died, he gave this person his rosary, which was a rather primitive rosary, made with some kind of beads,” Driscoll said. “He told her to pray the rosary. She objected that she didn’t understand how and wasn’t a believer anymore.”
 
“He said all you have to do is go from bead to bead and say ‘pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.’ And just keep saying ‘pray for us sinners, pray for us sinners’. And that’s enough,” the American priest recounted.
 
Brandsma was beatified in November 1985 as a martyr for the faith.
 
For Driscoll, the priest’s life teaches us “to preach the gospel boldly, forcefully, and not be afraid.”
 
“I think that’s one of the important issues,” he said. “Being kind to one another, as he was to his fellow prisoners, and try to console them when they fell down. I assume many of them were totally depressed by their condition. He encouraged people.
 
Driscoll also reflected on the nature of faith, sickness and healing. Those who suffer illness should “try their best… try to not lose hope.”
 
“It’s faith that heals. I believe, and that’s important,” he said. “I tell people ‘It’s not the touching of this piece of cloth to you. It’s faith that saves.’ You should not give up hope, but have faith. Jesus says ‘ask and you shall receive.’ You keep praying for that. Certainly everybody’s prayer is answered somehow. It may not be the way that you like, but it is answered.”
 
Fr. Mario Esposito, a Carmelite priest from New York, is a vice-postulator for the case. He told the Sun-Sentinel that he knows of no other miracles attributed to Brandsma that are under investigation.
 
“We hope this could be the one, but there are very exacting standards, and Rome is going to go over this case with a fine-toothed comb,” Esposito said.

 

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