Respect Life

Life, Marriage, Religious Liberty Are Threatened

Ctp-2-350x250The US Bishops have re-issued a call to American Catholics to pray and fast on Fridays for the protection of all human life, religious liberty and the dignity of marriage and the sacrament of matrimony.

One suggestion is to abstain from eating meat on Fridays (just like the olden days). 

Holy Hours, rosaries and specific times for family prayer, e.g. around the shared table are other worthy suggestions. 

Visit their website for other suggestions: 

 

Bishops Call To Prayer for Life Marriage and Religious Liberty


"Life Is Winning Again In America"

 



Vice-President Mike Pence, the highest ranking administration official ever to address the March for Life in its forty-four year history, stirred hearts  with his hopeful words today.

In a far-ranging, 10 minute speech, the Vice-President confided that President Trump had asked him to attend today's march and that the President also extends his welcome to the marchers in Washington.

Pence highlighted two of the president's efforts for life so far: 1) his re-institution of the "Mexico City Policy" which prohibits the use of federal dollars for international organizations which promote or provide abortion; 2) he assured the crowd that next week, Trump would nominate a justice for the Supreme Court who stands for life, lamenting that the Supreme Court had turned away from life with its decision on Roe v Wade.

"Life is Winning in America" is a phrase the Vice-President used several times in his address, thanking the crowd for supporting life, but especially for their compassion toward mothers and their unborn children in crisis. He reminded listeners that when it comes to matters of the heart, gentleness is the strongest virtue of all.

He quoted both the Declaration of Independence and the words of Thomas Jefferson to assert that the right to life comes from God. Importantly, he pledged that the administration would work to bring about an end to tax payer support for abortion and for those who provide them. (emphasis mine)

The vice-president longed for a time in America when compassion is greater than confrontation and hope defeats despair. He urged that Pro-Lifers continue to use love and compassion as their message, not confrontation or anger.

Quite a speech, really - especially coming from the White House.

Amen.

 


March For Life Contingent From Holy Cross Off To Washington

Thankfully the weather looks relatively placid between here and Washington, D.C. and the temperature won't dip below freezing.

Our contingent, along with parishioners from nearby parishes got an early start this morning. No pictures yet, but hopefully soon.

Please pray for the success of all our prayers. As you may know, President Trump has already re-instated the "Mexico City" policy, which prohibits the international use of federal tax dollars for organizations which promote or provide abortions.

 


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. 


Thanksgiving For Life

                A statement from Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York Chairman, 
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities

Seven jurisdictions in the United States have now opened the legal door to this dangerous abuse of medicine, an alarming trend that must be stopped for the sake of human dignity and the sacredness of life.

In Colorado, Proposition 106 legalized the ability of a doctor to write prescriptions for the sole purpose of killing another human being, and the ability of insurance companies to refuse treatment of patients they consider terminal. The DC law is the most expansive and dangerous so far. It goes beyond assisted suicide by allowing third parties to administer the lethal drugs opening the door even further to coercion and abuse.

Every suicide is tragic, whether someone is young or old, healthy or sick. But the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide creates two classes of people: those whose suicides are to be prevented at any cost, and those whose suicides are deemed a positive good. We remove weapons and drugs that can cause harm to one group, while handing deadly drugs to the other, setting up yet another kind of life-threatening discrimination. This is completely unjust. Our inherent human dignity does not wane with the onset of illness or incapacity, and so all are worthy of protection.

The act of prescribing a fatal, poisonous dose, moreover, undermines the very heart of medicine. Doctors vow to do no harm, and yet assisted suicide is the ultimate abandonment of their patients. 

What seriously ill – and often depressed -- patients need is authentic support, including doctors fully committed to their welfare and pain management as they enter their final days. Patients need our assurance that they are not a burden -- that it is a privilege to care for them as we ourselves hope to be cared for one day. A compassionate society devotes more attention, not less, to members facing the most vulnerable times in their lives. 

So doctor-assisted suicide must now be opposed with renewed vigor. Catholics must join medical professionals, disability rights groups, and other concerned citizens in fighting for the authentic care of those facing terminal illness.

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.

 

 


Just To Be Clear On Church Teaching...

 

A Statement from Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities

An abortion advocacy organization called "Catholics for Choice" (CFC) placed deceptive full-page newspaper ads in multiple cities on September 12 calling for taxpayer funding of abortion in the name of the Catholic faith.

As the U.S. Catholic bishops have stated for many years, the use of the name 'Catholic' as a platform to promote the taking of innocent human life is offensive not only to Catholics, but to all who expect honesty and forthrightness in public discourse.

CFC is not affiliated with the Catholic Church in any way. It has no membership, and clearly does not speak for the faithful. It is funded by powerful private foundations to promote abortion as a method of population control.

The organization rejects and distorts Catholic social teaching -- and actually attacks its foundation. As Pope Francis said this summer to leaders in Poland, "Life must always be welcomed and protected…from conception to natural death. All of us are called to respect life and care for it."

CFC's extreme ads promote abortion as if it were a social good. But abortion kills the most defenseless among us, harms women, and tears at the heart of families. Pushing for public funding would force all taxpaying Americans to be complicit in the violence of abortion and an industry that puts profit above the well-being of women and children.

According to a July 2016 poll conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, 62 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, including 45 percent of those who say they are pro-choice.

Finally, the CFC pits the needs of pregnant women against those of their unborn children. This is a false choice. Catholics and all people of good will are called to love them both. Consider supporting local pregnancy help centers, which do incredible work caring for mothers and children alike in a manner consistent with true social justice and mercy.

 

from the USCCB Cardinal Dolan's Message


Study Shows Most Terminal Cancer Patients Have Less Time to Live Than They Think

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A study published in the American Journal of Oncology (May 23, 2016) and highlighted by Bioedge reports the hardly surprising news that patients come to a clearer understanding about the prognosis of a fatal cancer after honest and effective communication with their doctors. 

Such communication may not be frequent or effective enough, however.  In this study only 5% of the terminally ill patients at the beginning of the study understood the gravity of their diagnosis. This improved over the six week period in which they were given more informed details about their disease and the likely outcome of chemo or other therapies. The authors of the study rightly worry that without such information, a person may not be able to make timely and appropriate plans for medical care especially hospice. 

Patients may not have the information they need for many reasons: they do not ask; family or physicians are reluctant to tell them; many of the clinicians, caregivers, family or patient may harbor unrealistic expectations of the outcome; fractured lines of communication between specialists and primary care physicians; fear of removing all hope from the suffering.

The authors of the study report conflicting evidence in the literature about the effects of accurate prognostic information on patients' peace of mind and equanimity. Some studies have reported the troublesome reactions we fear when we conspire not to tell someone about the dire nature of their diagnosis, while others report no harm to the psychological or spiritual well being of either the patient or those involved in such direct communication.

The study concludes that accurate, ongoing and  recent communication with oncologists and physicians can inform realistic decisions about end of life care in terminal cancer patients.

How does one balance hope and realistic acceptance? It is surely a spiritual discipline we can practice every day of the Christian journey, especially during times like Lent and around the time of mourning the death of a loved one or friend.

How and when to have these discussions needs prayer above all. The Sacrament of the Sick can be an important help to the dying and their loved ones in not only drawing strength from the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit, but with wisdom, prudence and courage.

 

 


Sweden May Ban Commercial and Altruistic Surrogacy

One of my favorite sources of contemporary issues in Bioethics, Bioedge reports that Sweden may ban both commercial and altruistic surrogacy. Surrogacy, as you may know, is the practice of a woman giving permission for implantation in her womb of an embryo from In-Vitro-Fertilization, carrying the baby to term and birth, then surrendering the child to the person(s) with whom they made the agreement. 

Fear that women may be pressured to become surrogates along with the fact that under Swedish law, the birth mother is the legal parent of the child were the two primary reasons to ban the practice according to a report given to the country's legislative body.

Kajsa Ekis Ekman, a Swedish journalist and author wrote a scorching commentary in support of a ban on both commercial and altruistic surrogacy. She mentions many difficulties with surrogacy, beginning with the famous Baby M case, in which the birth mother surrogate changed her mind about giving up the baby, but was forced by court order to relinquish the child. Deaths of surrogate mothers, demands of biological parents that defective or excessive embryos be aborted, and the bizarre case of a Japanese businessman who "ordered" 16 babies from clinics in Thailand are just some of the thorny dilemmas which arise from allowing surrogacy. Ekman writes:

Surrogacy may have been surrounded by an aura of Elton John-ish happiness, cute newborns and notions of the modern family, but behind that is an industry that buys and sells human life. Where babies are tailor-made to fit the desires of the world’s rich. Where a mother is nothing, deprived even of the right to be called “mum”, and the customer is everything. The west has started outsourcing reproduction to poorer nations, just as we outsourced industrial production previously. It is shocking to see how quickly the UN convention on the rights of the child can be completely ignored. No country allows the sale of human beings – yet, who cares, so long as we are served cute images of famous people and their newborns?

 

The teaching of the Catholic Church on surrogacy was clearly stated in Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life) promulgated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1987:

Surrogate motherhood represents an objective failure to meet the obligations of maternal love, of conjugal fidelity and of responsible motherhood; it offends the dignity and the right of the child to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up by his own parents; it sets up, to the detriment of families, a division between the physical, psychological and moral elements which constitute those families.

 


Holy Hour for the Family Wednesday 7:00 PM

Family

Join us in prayer for the family at 7 PM, Wednesday Feb. 24th. The Holy Hour is being sponsored by the Diocese of Trenton as part of a series of pilgrimage Holy Hours at each of the churches in the diocese privileged to have a Holy Door of Mercy.

Media, lobby groups and legislative initiatives assault the traditional family on all sides. Moreover, the frantic pace of overly scheduled lives, the increasing burdens of long-term illness and the changing economic landscape can exacerbate tensions inside the home.

Drawing strength from the Holy Family and with support from like-minded believers, our families can not only survive, but thrive as living witnesses to the power of faith lived in a broken world. Let us join together and pray for God's help.

 

 


Adult Faith Formation

Thank you to those who came to the viewing and discussion of the film Jerusalem held in the St. Joseph Meeting Room. There was good attendance and  the streaming media ran on our new OLED TV screen perfectly. The photography was stunning and even those who have been to the Holy Land gained a new insight into the geography and layout of the Holy City.

There is no meeting next Wednesday to make room for the Diocesan sponsored Holy Hour for Families being held in each parish which is fortunate enough to have Holy Door of Mercy.

Please join us next Wednesday at 7 PM for an hour of prayer and reflection in the church.

 

 


Respect Life Sunday 2015

Not a Slippery Slope, No Slope At All

Those who advocate caution before instituting a change to longstanding ethics and morals often warn that a small change or exception to a moral norm will lead to accelerated and uncontrolled change – the “slippery slope” argument.

 

  SLOPE

 

Such caution is often derided by those favoring social change who consider the use of the slippery slope argument pandering to fear.

 

 

 

Just exactly how many slips must we take before the slippery slope argument gets more traction? Each and every time we find ourselves sliding down the slope at morally dizzying speeds, it is well to remember we had been warned, but of little solace. NoSlope

 

Respect Life advocates have warned that physician assisted suicide, originally demanded for those in intractable pain with terminally fatal disease, will broaden to include non-life threatening conditions and be used without the patient’s consent. Moreover, the rights of health care providers to abstain from morally objectionable legal practices will come under assault. Recent popes and bishops have warned that permissive attitudes toward abortion will lead to a coarsening of social life and a commodification of the human person.

 

 

 Right to Euthanasia?

 

The Netherlands are a social experiment in end-of-life practice. Let’s take a look at a recent case report. (Bioedge ) A 19 year old woman who suffered from systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) since age 12 had, with her parents’ approval, applied for euthanasia under Dutch law. A date for the killing was set and was proceeding according to plan until the woman’s general health care practitioner withdrew her approval of the killing. The hospital at which the euthanasia was to occur then also withdrew its support. In despair, the young woman fled to her family’s apple orchard where she hung herself.  Her family has filed a complaint against the general practitioner with the medical regulatory board in order that the physician not be able to “get away with” withdrawing consent for the killing.

 

Right to Life ?

 

Closer to home, the undercover videos showing top administrators of Planned Parenthood cunningly discussing remuneration for the bodies of aborted embryos with an eerie indifference to the lives of their “material,” have demonstrated that almost any protection or prohibition built into our permissive abortion laws can be artfully dodged. It would be hard to write a script which shows the commodification of human life in the abortion industry more clearly than these business lunch discussions with Planned Parenthood officials show. Many Americans now demand that the flow of federal tax dollars to such a morally repugnant industry be stemmed.

 

 

 

Take some time this weekend to research some of the dangers to our lives on this planet, not just in the ecosystem, but in our attitudes and legislation. Let us pray for a deeper respect for each unique human life and demand that such respect be reflected in the way we care for the unborn and the vulnerable in our society. 

 


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.


Pope Condemns Execution of Christian Hostages by ISIS, Prays for the Deceased

I would now like to turn to my native tongue to express feelings of profound sorrow. Today I read about the execution of those twenty-one or twenty-two Coptic Christians. Their only words were: "Jesus, help me!". They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians. You, my brother, in your words referred to what is happening in the land of Jesus. The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ. As we recall these brothers and sisters who died only because they confessed Christ, I ask that we encourage each another to go forward with this ecumenism which is giving us strength, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians.

Let us pray for one another, and continue to advance in the way of wisdom, good will, strength and peace.

Pope Francis at the Vatican


The President, The Inquisition and The Crusades

Sunday homilies are constrained by length and by the understanding there are children of all ages present at most liturgies. They are never “speeches” or “talks” and even those that convey new information are not to be lessons or lectures. One of my pastor mentors in seminary used to say that a homily should always end with something we can do.  With that understanding, here is last Sunday’s homily.

 

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 1:29-39

Jesus heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law

 

Any week the President of the United States

Uses Christ’s name twice in one speech

In the same context with the

Inquisition and Crusades

Serious Catholics have some

Praying to do

 

My responsibility isn’t to criticize

The president

But his speech has left some sickened

 

My responsibility is to lift us up

With the gospel truth

Of Jesus Christ

Just as Christ raised up

Peter’s mother-in-law

From her sickbed

To full health

 

Don’t let anyone keep you

In a sickbed about your faith!

Read, study, know the truth

A few moments on the two issues

The president raised in his prayer breakfast speech:

 

In 1998 John Paul II made these concluding remarks in a speech about the Inquisition

       Yet the consideration of mitigating factors does not exonerate the Church from the obligation to express profound regret for the weaknesses of so many of her sons and daughters who sullied her face, preventing her from fully mirroring the image of her crucified Lord, the supreme witness of patient love and of humble meekness. From these painful moments of the past a lesson can be drawn for the future, leading all Christians to adhere fully to the sublime principle stated by the Council: The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it wins over the mind with both gentleness and power.

 

The modern synthesis of the Crusades in many academic and political institutions is that the soldiers of the First Crusade appeared without any warning to pillage and plunder the Holy Land and slaughter non-Christians.

  In truth, well before 1095 the year of the first Crusade which came to the aid of the Byzantine emperor in the West who feared Constantinople would fall to the Muslims, wars of Islamic aggression had already seized control of the formerly Christian territories of Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor and Southern France. Italy was under assault, Sicily was eventually taken. Muslim invasions would be led into Europe.

3 of 5 Christianity’s primatial sees had already been captured: Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria. Constantinople would eventually fall. Only Rome escaped…narrowly.

Any war, primitive or modern, is gruesome and brutal.

 Here is John Paul II’s prayer during a celebration of the Great Jubilee in 2000:

 Let us forgive and ask forgiveness! While we praise God who, in his merciful love, has produced in the Church a wonderful harvest of holiness, missionary zeal, total dedication to Christ and neighbour, we cannot fail to recognize the infidelities to the Gospel committed by some of our brethren, especially during the second millennium. Let us ask pardon for the divisions which have occurred among Christians, for the violence some have used in the service of the truth and for the distrustful and hostile attitudes sometimes taken towards the followers of other religions.

 

The silence of Islamic religious leaders

       Asking forgiveness for wars of aggression

       or disavowal of the acts committed by some

       in the name of their prophet

       is deafening

 

Our Christian baptism

does not put us on a “high horse" as the president said...

Far from it

We are touched by Christ

For service and to be his disciples

 

After today’s gospel miracle

       He set out on a preaching mission

       Throughout the whole region

 

We are empowered to

       Preach about Christ’s church

       His gospel message

And to condemn

       The abuse of human rights

       And religious freedom

       Wherever they occur

 Not because the church

       Can claim its members

       Are sinless saints

       But because

       Christ and his church

       Are the world’s best hope

       Not its greatest threat

       As some media pundits

       And militant atheists

       Would have us believe.

 

 We must be careful

       Not to let criticism of religious extremism

       turn to religious indifferentism

       Or hostility to

       Persons of any religious faith

 

But this is not a time for Christianity

       To be in bed with the flu

       Or to be weakened

       By medicinal doses of guilt

       Whether served up to us

       By the media or our president

 

Out of an abudance

       Of political correctness

 

Should our voices for an end to

       Senseless violence against civilians

              Men, women and children

              And graphic, public executions

              Be silenced?

 

Can we at least agree to condemn

       Beheadings, crucifixions

And slave markets

       Of Christians?

  

Can we condemn

Cowardly acts of terrorism

       Defend against them

       And try to make the world

       A safer place?

 

We must.

 

Lent is almost upon us.

A perfect opportunity

       To express our grief in ashes

       And our hope in Jesus Christ

       To pray, fast and do penance

       And work

       For peace.