Current Affairs

Human Rights Quiz

Take a quick quiz on Human Rights. Which of the following has the legal rights of a "person" according to its local jurisdiction? 

 

 Te Awapa Tupua River, NZ

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YES. Granted personhood by the New Zealand Parliament. Read this excerpt from Bioedge:

Riverine personhood is an untested concept in a Western legal system. According to the government, Te Awa Tupua will now have its own legal personality with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person. Lawyers say that the river cannot vote and cannot be charged with homicide if people drown in it. But it will have to pay taxes, if liable. The gender of the river is unspecified at the moment.

The government has awarded River Awapa (if I can be so bold to use the River's first name)  $80 million in pollution damages for the last 20 years along with $30 million toward improving its environmental, social, cultural and economic health. It will have two court appointed guardians: one by the indigenous people who brought the petition, the other by the crown. 

 Attorneys for the river indicated its gender had not yet been determined: "At this stage the river is referred to as "it" but it could be assigned a gender (and not just that of a man or woman). If the people appointed to act as the human face of the river want to ask people to use another pronoun, they can, just like everyone else."

With this Act of Parliament, I think that New Zealand has officially entered the age of liquid modernity. I am sure the search didn't take long for 2 guardians to administer the river's assets! Imagine the lawsuits When River gets angry and floods home and basements. I wonder if it has legal immunity from that?

 

Kiko  22308806-mmmain

 No, so far. (But litigating) Kiko is a deaf chimpanzee rescued by his current owners years ago from performing in circuses and movies, he lives on a Wild Life Preserve in upstate New York. A lawyer, Steven Wise is arguing before a court in New York that the chimpanzee's personhood rights are being violated by being kept in his enclosure. He should be freed according to Wise to live in a preserve in Florida.  

 

 A 35 Week Human In Its Mothers Womb

Bill of rights

 No. See Roe v. Wade for the irrational explanation. 

 

A 35 week old human in its mother's arms.

Et

Happily Yes, so far. 



The (Saint) Benedict Option

Another interesting book for Lenten reading, sobering but spiritual, The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher was published this week. A book in the genre of Archbishop Chaput's book, written from a slightly different perspective but arriving at the same conclusions: we (Christian believers) are in trouble around the world and here in America.

Dreher's thesis is that we have lost the culture war against religion. Just as the barbarians sacked Rome and then St. Augustine's city of Hippo, they have done so again in our age of "liquid modernity, a time when social change occurs so rapidly that no social institutions have time to solidify." Dreher complains we have become a society of strangers, each pursuing our own interests under minimal constraints. Barbarians abandon objective moral standards, refuse to accept any religious or culturally binding narratives except those they choose, repudiate memory of the past and reject history as irrelevant and distance themselves from community and any unchosen or unwanted social obligations.  

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Barbarians Enjoying the Culture They Destroy While It Lasts
Capitol One Ad Campaign 2003

Remember the Capital One credit card commercials with hordes of rapacious tribesmen rampaging through cities heedlessly destroying the structures of civilization? "Barbarians are governed only by their will to power, and neither know nor care a thing about what they are annihilating. By that standard, despite our wealth and technological sophistication, we in the modern West are living under barbarism, though we do not recognize it. Our scientists, our judges, our princes, our scholars, and our scribes—they are at work demolishing the faith, the family, gender, even what it means to be human. Our barbarians have exchanged the animal pelts and spears of the past for designer suits and smartphones." The barbarians are not at the gates, they are on the Supreme Court, in our national and state legislatures and our national security agencies in elected and non-elected positions of power. 

Don't think so? Consider how that in less than one generation, "Christian beliefs about the sexual complementarity of marriage are considered to be abominable prejudice—and in a growing number of cases, punishable."

He traces the roots of these losses from the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and  two World Wars. The most dramatic post-war losses here in America were the Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion and then only decades later the right to same-sex marriage. The gleeful, vindictive pursuit by same-sex marriage activists of a few Christian bakers and wedding planners who won't cater same-sex weddings should warn us, that Christian believers are the real targets, not a shortage of bakers and caterers for same-sex weddings.

 

 

Supreme Judgement
Lawmakers Unto Ourselves

Dreher laments that the West has "lost the golden thread that binds us to God, Creation, and each other. Unless we find it again, there is no hope of halting our dissolution. Indeed, it is unlikely that the West will see this lifeline for a very long time. It is not looking for it and may no longer have the capability of seeing it. We have been loosed, but we do not know how to bind."

The only thing to do is to become like St. Benedict of old, who preserved ancient wisdom, fostered communities of belief and nurtured the flame of faith until the time was right for the faith to rekindle the world with the love of God.

Guess what? During Lent that looks like pray, fast, give alms. Grandparents and wise elders need to educate their adult children and their grandchildren in the riches of the Faith. Stations of the Cross, Palm Processions, the Veneration of the Cross and the solemn celebrations of the most Holy Days of the Christian year, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil give us the strength to "keep the flame of faith alive in our hearts until the Lord comes," as our parents and godparents were charged during our baptisms. This is as urgent now as it was in the days of the Roman persecution.

 

 


American Psychiatric Association Rejects Physician Assisted Suicide

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In a major boost to opponents of physician-assisted suicide, the American Psychiatric Association has taken a clear stand:

The American Psychiatric Association, in concert with the American Medical Association’s position on Medical Euthanasia, holds that a psychiatrist should not prescribe or administer any intervention to a non-terminally ill person for the purpose of causing death.

According to BioedgeDr Mark S. Komrad, of the APA ethics committee, says that “So far, no other country that has implemented physician-assisted suicide has been able to constrain its application solely to the terminally ill, eventually including non-terminal patients as legally eligible as well,” says Dr Komrad. “This is when psychiatric patients start to be included.”

This is a perfect example of the slippery slope argument, which far from being theoretical, has already been shown to lead to dangerous broadening of the laws restricting physician assisted suicide.

This is a welcome decision indeed. 


New Jersey Physician Assisted Suicide and Advent ?

Not exactly perfect timing is it?

Once again a physician-assisted suicide bill is being sponsored and voted on in the Jersey legislature. The Diocese of Trenton has assembled some resources which they have asked to be made available to parishioners through social media. 

The most important thing for Catholics to do is become informed about the dangers of physician-assisted suicide and then inform our elected officials of our opposition to what is being called "state sanctioned suicide."

Having worked against and spoken out against physician assisted suicide since the 90's, I've seen the political and social landscape truly shift from those days.

Some arguments against it have become weaker

More states have passed physician-assisted suicide, falsely allaying fears that legalizing assisted dying will open the floodgates of death by medication. The use of the slippery-slope argument against aid in dying has never been too effective even though more evidence has accumulated from the experience of European nations how quickly the initial restrictions placed on the practice are loosened. 

More testimony has been sought from speakers afflicted with illness which has made them consider and then reject assisted dying for themselves. While their personal testimony is poignant, proponents of aid in dying acknowledge, then dismiss it, asserting that the "right" to assisted dying should be offered to those who choose it.  I remember a seminar at which Christopher Reeve's mother speaking with tears in her eyes advocated the unrestricted use of human embryos for medical research, "Don't take away hope." The dramatic YouTube video of the fourteen year old Wisconsin girl who pleaded successfully to be allowed to die was credited with helping pass California's aid in dying legislation. The use of personal testimony is emotionally powerful on either side of the argument. In my view, it should be used sparingly, if at all.

So many more challenges have been brought to any moral absolute with dramatic success under the Obama administration. Gender, biology and choice have been blended into a spectrum. The right of an individual to choose almost anything has been broadened, except the right to object to policies which silence those espousing traditional Christian values.

Some arguments against aid in dying have become even more cogent

Health care has become more controlled by private and government insurers that are becoming reluctant to pay for life-prolonging treatment deemed futile or not cost-effective. This should alarm everyone. While prudent decisions must be made, they shouldn't be made by a board or trustees, or a government bureaucrat. The patient, the family, their physicians and caregivers should also be involved in clinical care decisions and making public policy.

An increasing number of physicians have become comfortable with the idea of offering physician assisted suicide to their patients. Some of them put their obligation to serve their patient's needs and wishes above their own personal judgement or without recourse to any other source of moral or legal obligation. While many physicians feel the intrinsic ethics of medical practice forbid physician assisted dying, some embrace it as part of the obligation they owe to their patients who choose it. Many people no longer fear that doctors can help them to die.

The Church's teaches that extra-ordinary medical care may be refused or discontinued if already begun. This  along with  priority for treating pain, even if the pain medication brings deleterious effects-including hastening death allows for merciful and dignified care near the end of life without recourse to physician-assisted suicide.

 

Article in The Monitor: Doctors, patients, testify against N.J. bill they call 'state-sanctioned suicide'


Prayer of Bishop John Carroll for the United States of America

Excerpts from the prayer Bishop John Carroll, first American bishop, composed this prayer in 1791.

 

John Carroll Stained Glass
Bishop Carroll's Seal


We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.

...We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.


The US Civil Rights Commission And Religious Liberty

The US Civil Rights Commission released a briefing report to the President entitled "Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties." It studied the conflict between the expanding Federal legislation and regulations on sexual identity and marriage vs. freedom of Religious organizations, institutions and individuals to practice their faith.

The Commission's recommendations are troubling, but telling

  1. Overly-broad religious exemptions unduly burden nondiscrimination laws and policies.
    Federal and state courts, lawmakers, and policy-makers at every level must tailor religious exceptions to civil liberties and civil rights protections as narrowly as applicable law requires.
  2.  RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) protects only religious practitioners’ First Amendment free exercise rights, and it does not limit others’ freedom from government-imposed religious limitations under the Establishment Clause.
  3. In the absence of controlling authority to the contrary such as a state-level, RFRA-type statute, the recognition of religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws and policies should be made pursuant to the holdings of Employment Division v. Smith, which protect religious beliefs rather than conduct.
  4.  Federal legislation should be considered to clarify that RFRA creates First Amendment Free Exercise clause rights only for individuals and religious institutions and only to the extent that they do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights protections against status-based discrimination.
  5. States with RFRA-style laws should amend those statutes to clarify that RFRA creates First Amendment Free Exercise Clause rights only for individuals and religious institutions.
  6. States with laws modeled after RFRA must guarantee that those statutes do not unduly burden civil liberties and civil rights with status-based discrimination.

The full report (over 300 pages) is linked here Peaceful Coexistence.

 

Comments from Chairperson of the US Civil Rights Commission,  Martin R. Castro, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011.

“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian
religion.” —John Adams

 

CASTRO_Bio
Chairman Martin R. Castro

The phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom” will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia,
Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.

 Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others.

However, today, as in the past, religion is being used as both a weapon and a shield by those seeking to deny others equality. In our nation’s past religion has been used to justify slavery and later, Jim Crow laws. We now see “religious liberty” arguments sneaking their way back into our political and constitutional discourse (just like the concept of “state rights”) in an effort to undermine the rights of some Americans.

This generation of Americans must stand up and speak out to ensure that religion never again be twisted to deny others the full promise of America.

 


Faith and the Full Promise of America

 

Lori
Archbishop William Lori


A Statement from Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

 

For the current Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, religious liberty is reduced to "nothing except hypocrisy," and religion is being used as a "weapon… by those seeking to deny others equality." He makes the shocking suggestion that Catholic, evangelical, orthodox Jewish, Mormon, and Muslim communities are comparable to fringe segregationists from the civil rights era. These statements painting those who support religious freedom with the broad brush of bigotry are reckless and reveal a profound disregard for the religious foundations of his own work.

People of faith have often been the ones to carry the full promise of America to the most forgotten peripheries when other segments of society judged it too costly. Men and women of faith were many in number during the most powerful marches of the civil rights era. Can we imagine the civil rights movement without Rev. Martin Luther King, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel? In places like St. Louis, Catholic schools were integrated seven years before the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Jesus taught us to serve and not to count the cost.

Our record is not perfect. We could have always done more. Nevertheless, we have long taught that the one God, maker of heaven and earth, calls each and every individual into being, loves every individual, and commands believers to love and show mercy to every individual. The idea of equality, which the Chairman treats as a kind of talisman, is incomprehensible apart from the very faith that he seeks to cut off from mainstream society.

Today, Catholic priests, religious and laity can be found walking the neighborhood streets of our most struggling communities in places abandoned by a "throwaway culture" that has too often determined that quick profits matter more than communities. We are there offering education, health care, social services, and hope, working to serve as the "field hospital" Pope Francis has called us to be. We wish we were there in even greater numbers, but we are there to humbly offer the full promise of America to all. Rest assured, if people of faith continue to be marginalized, it is the poor and vulnerable, not the Chairman and his friends, who will suffer.

Catholic social service workers, volunteers and pastors don't count the cost in financial terms or even in personal safety. But, we must count the cost to our own faith and morality. We do not seek to impose our morality on anyone, but neither can we sacrifice it in our own lives and work. The vast majority of those who speak up for religious liberty are merely asking for the freedom to serve others as our faith asks of us. We ask that the work of our institutions be carried out by people who believe in our mission and respect a Christian witness. This is no different from a tobacco control organization not wishing to hire an advocate for smoking or a civil rights organization not wanting to hire someone with a history of racism or an animal rights group wishing to hire only vegetarians.

In a pluralistic society, there will be institutions with views at odds with popular opinion. The Chairman's statement suggests that the USCCR does not see the United States as a pluralistic society. We respect those who disagree with what we teach. Can they respect us? We advocate for the dignity of all persons, a dignity that includes a life free from violence and persecution and that includes fair access to good jobs and safe housing. People of faith are a source of American strength. An inclusive and religiously diverse society should make room for them.

 

 


Plus jamais ca

 

 

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for Father Jacques Hamel, a French diocesan priest who was slain during morning mass in his parish by Islamic terrorists. I've posted some screencaps of the funeral televised by KTO TV, a French speaking Catholic channel founded in 1999 at the prompting of Cardinal Lustiger, then archbishop of Paris.

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Fr. Hamel's sister speaks at funeral.


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The funeral procession arrives at the Cathedral.

The family chose the gospel reading from Matthew's Sermon on the Mount, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." 

His sister noted that Father Jacques refused a promotion in the military during the war in Algeria since it would involve his giving orders leading to the deaths of others, something he could never do.

The Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun revealed that Hamel's last words as he tried to repel his attackers with his feet were, "Get away, Satan, Get away, Satan." The archbishop had words for those tempted to jihad: "You who are tormented by diabolical violence, you who are in the clutches of demoniacal murderous folly...we pray that God will free you from the grip of the devil. We pray for you, we pray that Jesus rescues those who are in under the power of evil. (As St. Paul said)..We are wounded, we are shocked, but not destroyed.

He asked those who might have strayed from the church to return on August 15 to light a candle to help sanctify the church after the sacrilegious attack.

The video shows the poignant procession of priests, family, faithful and famous at Father Hamel's funeral.

No more of this.


Attack on Our Catholic Church in Normandy


A Statement from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville
President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops



Catholic faithful around the world experienced the shock and sadness of this morning's barbaric attack on Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in France, as if the loss was in our very own parish. We pray for Father Hamel and his parishioners knowing, as St. Paul stated regarding the Body of Christ, "if one suffers, all the parts suffer with it." (1 Cor 12:26)

The Holy Mass is the most sacred and joyful act we, as Catholics, celebrate. Never are we closer to our Lord Jesus Christ than we are when we receive the Eucharist. No act of desecration – no matter how vile – can obscure the merciful presence of God.

Jesus calls us to be sisters and brothers, to strive to care for one another, and always to reject the evil that seeks to divide us. We give thanks to God for the unforgettable witness of the faithful this morning at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.


If You Didn't Get the Pokemon Craze the First Time...It's Back

 

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God and Pokemon ?


I thought I could safely ignore the Pokemon Go craziness, much like I was only casually acquainted with the Pokemon card collecting craze of years gone by. (You've got to be a bit older to remember the "Wacky Packs" craze of the late 60's.)

 

But after noticing a few more cars driving by the church slowly at night, I thought I might investigate a bit further.

Not news to many of you with children is that the virtual reality game requires you to drive or walk about guided by the GPS on your cell phone to find/hunt/collect and fight for Pokemon. Apparently there are teams / gyms at Tommy's, Woody's and St. George by the Sea and from what I can tell, Pokemon pop up with regularity around town.

Reaction on the web from pastors and churches seems quite mixed. Many are delighted that millennials come near their church for any reason and see an opportunity to evangelize. Others are not so sure. Japanese lore about monsters and  Shintoism raise concerns. Guess it would depend on whether the average person hunting for Pokemon is also looking for an answer to life's bigger questions.

I wonder if our cohort plans a Pokemon Outreach Ministry?

 

 

 

 

 


Holy Cross School Awarded National Blue Ribbon September 29, 2015

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Congratulations to the students and faculty of Holy Cross School who today learned our school has been awarded a National Blue Ribbon by the US Department of Education. 

Blue Ribbon Schools have "administrators and teachers who are dedicated to high standards of learning for all students, they engage in data collection and analysis to determine the efficacy of instruction and assessment, they have students who demonstrate academic excellence, and they undertake professional development to stay at the forefront of best practices."

 The award was created in 1982, so it is no wonder that some of us older folks didn't grow up hearing about it, or even understand the award's significance. It had been discussed as a goal for Holy Cross for several years and when a Principal Search Committee was formed some years ago, achieving the Blue Ribbon designation was identified as a high priority for our new principal.
 
After important curricular reforms were instituted by our principal, Mr. William Belluzzi, and most importantly after he gained the trust and confidence of students, faculty and parents alike, the Blue Ribbon goal was set and was achieved this year.
 
We are grateful the school receives the wholehearted support of parents of our students and parishioners alike.We are proud of our school, its history, its faculty and students. May we always have the enthusiasm and resources to form young boys and girls in the faith of the Catholic Church and prepare them well for everything they will encounter on their life's journey.
 

Wedding Annulments and the Diocese of Trenton from Bishop O'Connell

The revisions of canon law concerning the marriage annulment process promulgated by Pope Francis in his September 8 motu proprio letter Mitis Iudex Dominus Jesus (The  Lord Jesus, the Meek Judge) take effect December 8, 2015.  Until that date, the annulment process in the Diocese of Trenton will continue as it currently exists and those with cases currently pending will not be affected.
 
In canon law, valid consent exchanged between one man and one woman makes the marriage valid.  NO CHANGE PRESENTED HERE.
Marriages are presumed to be valid unless proven invalid through the annulment process. NO CHANGE PRESENTED HERE.
 
Annulments are not “divorces, Catholic style.”  A divorce is a declaration of civil law that the parties to a marriage have permanently separated because the marriage union has irreparably broken down.  The Catholic Church believes and teaches that, despite a divorce according to civil law, the “bond of marriage” cannot be dissolved by any power except death.   Divorced Catholics, therefore, are not free to remarry unless: (a) the spouse dies; or (b) an annulment is granted by the Church.  An annulment on the other hand is a declaration of canon law that the original consent to marriage was defective to the point that no marriage actually or ever took place.  Such a declaration requires investigation and proof.  Just as a civil divorce has no effects before the Church, a Church annulment has no effects before civil law.  For example, the children of an annulled marriage do not become illegitimate.   NO CHANGE PRESENTED HERE.
 
The only fee attached to the granting of an annulment concerns the costs of services employed in the process (eg., secretarial assistance and salaries in the Tribunal; the use of experts by the Tribunal; office utilities, stationery, communications in the Tribunal; maintenance of the Tribunal, etc.).  The Diocese of Trenton requests a $700 contribution for these purposes.  Last year, the a Diocese subsidized 2/3 of all Tribunal costs with contributions constituting less than 1/3 of all costs incurred.  Pope Francis has not eliminated this fee.  He has “recommended” its elimination whenever possible, in accordance with the considerations of the episcopal conference of the country and the ability of Tribunals to support themselves.  The total cost of the Tribunal operations to the Diocese was $292,412 last year alone.  
The revisions to the annulment process made by Pope Francis that will affect the Diocese of Trenton include:
1. The required automatic appeal of an affirmative decision regarding marriage nullify has been eliminated; parties may make an appeal if they so choose;
2.  The process itself has been simplified with the local bishop being granted more authority;
3.  The texts of some provisions of canon law have been changed; the revisions are procedural in nature and do not alter Church doctrine;
4.  The local bishop has been asked to develop structures for his Diocese that demonstrate an effort to expedite the marriage annulment process.  These will be communicated once developed.
 
The December 8 implementation date provides the Diocese of Trenton with ample lead time to study the revisions further, to discern their consequences and to make any required changes deemed necessary.  As Bishop, I do not anticipate the transition to be unduly burdensome.  Any effort to make ecclesiastical procedures less bureaucratic and more accessible, without compromise to Church teachings and beliefs, should be seen as positive.  
 
Most Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., J.C.D.Bishop of Trenton

More Information On Passes for Papal Events in Philadelphia

FOR ANNOUNCEMENT AT ALL MASSES, VIGILS Sept 5 AND SUNDAY Sept 6, 2015

___________________________________

The Diocese of Trenton received a letter from Archbishop Chaput on September 1, offering a limited number of standing passes to registered parishioners of the Diocese of Trenton for several events during the Papal Visit to Philadelphia on September 26 &27.   A combine total of a few hundred passes will be available to registered parishioners of the Diocese of Trenton for:

(1) the Papal Visit to Independence Hall at 4:45 pm on Saturday, September 26, and,

(2) the combined Festival of Families on Saturday, September 26 at 7:30 pm and the Papal Mass on Sunday, September 27 at 4 pm.  Both of these events will take place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway facing the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Passes are offered specifically to registered parishioners of the Diocese of Trenton on a FIRST COME/FIRST SERVED BASIS and will be for either the Independence Hall Visit on Saturday, September 26 or the combined Festival of Families on September 26 and the Papal Mass on Sunday, September 27.  No one may obtain passes for both the Independence Hall event and the combined Festival of Families / Papal Mass events.

All applicants will need to arrange for their own transportation, should be ready and able to walk a good distance, and be ready and able to stand for significant periods of time.

Standing passes for registered parishioners of the Diocese of Trenton are only available by applying through www.dioceseoftrenton.org/papalpasses on September 8th beginning at 9am, on a FIRST COME/FIRST SERVED BASIS.  Standing passes are limited to four (4) persons per registered family for either, but not both, events until the supply is depleted. 


Merciful Forgiveness For the Evil of Abortion

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The media is buzzing with news about Pope Francis' decision to extend to all priests permission to forgive the sin of abortion and reunite the penitent with the church and its sacraments during the Year of Mercy. Not surprisingly, some of it is slanted and/or incorrect. The pope is not relaxing the teaching on the immorality of abortion, but changing a disciplinary practice in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Church teaches that anyone who undergoes a completed abortion commits a grave moral evil, and anyone who performs one, helps procure one or assists at one cooperates with a grave moral evil. Those who do so deliberately and freely with knowledge of its serious consequences commit a mortal sin which disrupts their relationship with God and separates them from the church and its sacraments. Recent popes beginning with John Paul II have noted that fear, coercion, economic and social factors may lessen a person's culpability for the sin, but not the moral gravity of the offense.

There are two aspects to the sin of abortion - restoring our relationship with God and being welcomed back into communion with the church and its sacraments. Here are Bishop O'Connell's words on this subject:

     Canon Law states that "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs an automatic excommunication (c. 1398)."  This law pertains to all who deliberately procure an abortion or who deliberately cooperate or assist in its procurement.  The Church considers abortion so serious a sin that it attaches a penalty of automatic excommunication to its procurement.  There are two realities involved: (1) the sin of abortion itself and (2) the penalty of automatic excommunication attached to it.  Abortion as described here is considered a "reserved  sin;" that is, its absolution (the sin) and the lifting of its attached penalty (the automatic excommunication) requires the permission of the bishop, requested by the confessor confidentially as "a case or instance" without ever revealing the identity of the penitent involved.  The confessor asks the penitent to return to confession after his receiving permission from the bishop to absolve the sin and lift the penalty and he imparts absolution (of the sin) and remission (of the penalty).

Pope Francis has eliminated the need for recourse to the bishop during the Holy Year of Mercy ordinarily attached to the procurement of abortion.  All priests, therefore, may absolve the sin and lift the penalty of those confessing the sin with true contrition without first requesting the permission of the bishop.

In the Diocese of Trenton, some years ago, as permitted by Canon Law, Bishop John Reiss extended that same faculty to all priest confessors in the Diocese of Trenton without restricting it to any period of time.  That permission was never withdrawn and is still in force.  The Holy Father's extension of this provision does not represent anything new or not already in practice in the Diocese of Trenton.

I was informed by Bishop Reiss of this privilege at my ordination and am blessed to have been able to be part of the joyful reconcilation when a woman or a man seeks the merciful graces of the Sacrament of Penance.


Fr. Rutler's Weekly Column: The Best Things in the Worst Times

I'm so grateful for Fr. George Rutler's weekly homilies, pastor at St. Michael's Church in Manhattan, which always give me something to think and pray about. 

Here's an excerpt from this week's column, which reminded me of our church project at Holy Cross:

In our distressed nation, nothing is more essential than what barbarians consider unessential. I think of the youth who in the days of Oliver Cromwell and his iconoclasts built a church in defiance of a hostile government. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and died at the age of 27. The tablet in his church in Leicestershire is inscribed:

In the year 1653 when all things sacred were throughout the nation either demolished or profaned, Sir Robert Shirley, Baronet founded this church; whose singular praise it is to have done the best things in the worst times and hoped them in the most calamitous.


Traffic and Horn Honking

Coney-island
Coney Island on July 4, 1946 (NY Daily News)

As many of you know who've tried to get anywhere this weekend, the traffic can be snarled. Friday and Sunday were particularly difficult. Usually starting a little after 10 AM, it builds to a crescendo between noon and 2 PM until in the afternoon, early beachgoers begin heading home.

This year for the first time in many years I can remember, there has been some horn blowing in the traffic. I doubt blowing your horn on Ward Avenue helps the bridge close, or the traffic light in Sea Bright to change to green or makes more parking spaces available.

Let us hope that the horn blowing doesn't become the usual way visitors to the Sea Bright beaches will release their frustration at the traffic! 

 


Abraham Lincoln's Prayer for Peace

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.


Pray For And Demand Religious Liberty

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It is fitting that the US Bishops fortnight for freedom prayer for Religious Liberty will be prayed at all the masses this weekend, especially in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision affirming the right of gay couples to marry in all 50 states. Whether or not the decision will be as controversial and divisive as another 5-4 ruling, the Roe v. Wade decision which paved the way for legalized abortion in the United States, remains to be seen.

Almost that same day, in a surreal coincidence, Pope Francis appeared to endorse divorce in certain circumstances.

No doubt the law suits will begin against those who deny such couples their rights under the 14th amendment and they will surely not be limited to Christian bakers who refuse to decorate wedding cakes with same-sex wedding themes. The battle to not only permit, but to force individuals and institutions to sanction same-sex marriage will intensify. Loss of tax exempt status , loss of authority to perform civil marriages for certain ministers and priests, and prosecution of preaching as hate speech are some of the problems experts identify for church based groups which oppose same-sex marriage. 

Pray with us this Sunday to preserve the rights and freedoms of all.