Abortion Always Wrong

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A response to: One-Issue Voters

It is important to realize that the infallible magisterium of the Church has condemned abortion as an intrinsic evil and therefore a mortal sin under all conditions. But the magisterium has never condemned wars or capital punishment as an intrinsic evil under all conditions. The official catechism does consider capital punishment as unnecessary, but it is not an infallible and definitive judgment to be held de fide. The Church is strongly influenced by the Common Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, in all 3 issues. We are free to decide what to do as long as we do not contradict the definite teachings of the Church. We are free to debate, but personal opinions must be seen as such.

Joe Neri

Praying to decrease time in Purgatory

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Question from Andy on 5/27/2008:

Father is proper to ask God to decrease one's time in Purgatory, or would I be attempting to fathom his mercy and how he will deal with us at our death? Thank you and God bless you and the wonderful work you do.
Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 5/30/2008:

Andy, No, nothing amiss in praying for a decrease of time in Purgatory. Better even to do penance here in earth which decreasing that time too. Fr. Bob Levis

The Way of the Cross

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Question from Nancy Maria on 5/27/2008:

Dear Fr,

I would like to know, if The Way of the Cross should be said only during Lent, or if it can be said at anytime. My husband and myself say the Way of the Cross everyday in the mornings and the Rosary in the evenings. We said it everyday during Lent and stopped during the Easter season, now we started the Way of the cross again and my husband say's that the Way of the Cross should be said during Lent and not now. I feel I unite my weeknesses, trials and the sufferings of many to the passion of our Lord. I do not feel that I have to say it only at Lent, Though I try I surely sin everyday and Christ continues to suffer for my sins . I acknowledge his sufferings and my sins with each Way of the Cross and also my own sufferings with his. So my opinion is that the Way of the Cross can be said at any time. Fr. please advise, should we say it only during Lent? Thanks and God Bless Nancy everyday, but He has paid for my salvation,
Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 5/30/2008:

Nancy, The Way of the Cross is the story of our salvation, it remains central to our life of prayer and union with God. You have grown so much thru this devotion, never give it up. It is a perfect meditation, and so can be employed all thru all the varying seasons of the Church's liturgical year. Keep it up, encourage your spouse with you. Fr. Bob Levis

Eternal Punishment

Follow-up: Eternal Punishment
Question from Charles on 5/26/2008:

Dear Father Levis, thank you for your reply, but I don't think you quite understood my question (or perhaps I did not express it clearly enough).

You wrote in response that, "The sinner who sins, dies unrepentent." Perhaps this is the crux of the problem. You seem to be saying that in Heaven or Hell, a human being no longer has free will. If I have free will in Hell, I can repent. But God apparently does not accept the repentance of souls in Hell. On the other hand, if there is no free will in Heaven, then God is spending eternity with robots and automatons who are not freely loving and serving Him.

Do you see the problem, the paradox? Please help me understand. Thank you!
Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 5/27/2008:

Charles, WE never lose our freedom of will, either in Heaven nor in Hell. Those in Heaven are so attracted to the Divine Goodness, it is inconceivable that they would refuse to return divine love. Those in Hell are given by God precisely what they have chosen while on earth.They shoce anti-God, unfortunately die, and God gives them what they freely chose on earth. They have no chance of eternal salvation, they have lost freely that opportunity.In Hell they suffer from the misuse of free will on earth, from their freely committed sins.Freedom in Hell is not removed. They continue to choose evil for all eternity as they lived on earth, the place of trial and temptation, which trial they failed forever. Fr. Bob Levis

have not confessed for more than 10 years

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Question from Susan on 5/23/2008:

I have not been to confession for more than ten years. Can I just go to confession after that long or do I have to do something else first?
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 5/29/2008:

Yes, you can. Tell the priest how long it's been since you've been to confession, and if need be, he'll help guide you through making a good Confession.

Praying the rosary

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Question from BeBe on 5/22/2008:

When I pray the rosary with Father Mitch every morning as hard as I try, my mind wonders to other things other than the mysteries. I have family who I really want the pray for. On all but one decade I insert one of my grandsons name into the Hail Mary. "Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for (say name) now and at the hour of his death." I not only get prayers for them done,I find my mind stays very fixed on the mystery and my request. Is this acceptable?
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 5/29/2008:

The Rosary is a mix of recited prayer and contemplative prayer. While it's perfectly acceptable (and a good thing) to pray for specific intentions, it is probably not good to "personalize" the ancient prayers of the Church.

working on Sunday

working on Sunday
Question from Anonymous on 5/22/2008:

Please explain to me, how do we apply the teaching in the following situation... I want to start a family business, (Ice cream shop)and would expect that Sunday is a core day for the business, would being open on Sunday, working on Sunday be permissable? (FYI - Mostly my wife and I would run it, and during the summer my daughter comes home from college and could also help) (also FYI, I help out at our parish youth group on Sunday nights, so that might also be affected, the group continues fine on weekends when we are away) thank you Anon
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 5/27/2008:

As best as can be done, we should refrain from working on Sundays if we can help it. Read the catechism, paragraphs 2184-2188 for beautiful teachings on the Third Commandment.

Messianic Jews in Israel enraged by burning of New Testaments

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Tel Aviv, May. 29, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The burning of hundreds of copies of the New Testament in an Israeli town has drawn expression of outrage from Messianic Jews and thrown a public official on the defensive.

Uzi Aharon, the deputy mayor of Or-Yehuda, near Tel Aviv, told CNN that he had organized a collection of "Messianic propaganda" that had been distributed by Jewish Christians. But Aharon said that he was not aware the students who collected New Testaments planned to burn the books, and he stopped them once he realized what was happening.

Several hundred copies of the New Testament had been collected, mostly from homes in a neighborhood populated by Ethiopian Jews. The texts had been distributed as part of an evangelizing campaign by local Messianic Jews.

A spokesman for the Messianic Jews told CNN that his group would seek prosecution of those responsible for the Bible-burning incident.

read from the Bible

By Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD (May 28, 2008)

A good friend named Tom from a Divine Mercy prayer and study group in Texas recently sent me the following question:

During her retreat of June 2, 1938 ... Jesus instructed St. Faustina to Technorati Tags: , (see Diary of St. Faustina, 1751). In 1757 He said to her, "Today, you will read chapter fifteen of the Gospel of St. John. I want you to read it slowly. In Diary entry 1765 He said to her, "Today, My daughter, for your reading you shall take chapter nineteen of St. John's Gospel, and read it, not only with your lips, but with your heart." In entry 1773: "Today, for your spiritual reading you shall take the Gospel of St. John, chapter twenty-one." Can you explain why Jesus wants to confirm this message over and over again with her — and through her, with us?

Well, I will try my best, Tom. I think our Savior was persistent about this with St. Faustina, and through her Diary, with us all, because He knows that His Holy Word, the Bible, is a "dead letter" to us until we learn how to read it with the help of His Holy Spirit (the same Spirit, by the way, who inspired it to be written in the first place!).

As apostles of The Divine Mercy, we should commit ourselves to a daily time of prayer, always including Scriptural readings, especially a Gospel reading and meditation on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus our Savior.

In his book Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales tells us why such daily mediation on the gospels is so important (Part Two, section 1.1): "I especially counsel you to practice mental prayer, the prayer of the heart, and particularly that which centers on the life and passion of our Lord. Be often turning your eyes on Him in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with Him. ... Just as little children learn to speak by listening to their mothers and lisping words with them, so also by keeping close to our Savior in meditation and observing His words, actions, and affections we learn by His grace to speak, act, and will like Him."

Saint Francis counsels that we should choose a regular time and place for our daily meditation on the gospels, if our life circumstances make this regularity possible: "Set aside [some time] every day ... if possible early in the morning, when your mind is less distracted and fresher after the night's rest. ... If you can perform this excercise in church and find sufficient quiet there, that will be the easiest and most convenient place."

But of course, for many of us, just a daily quiet time in our own room will be sufficient.

Many Catholics do not know how to meditate on God's Word, simply because no one has ever bothered to teach them. But it is easy to learn.

First, St. Francis de Sales tells us, we must place ourselves in the presence of God and invoke His assistance.

To place oneself in His presence, we can first bring to mind how our Father is present everywhere, all around us and within us. This is a truth frequently attested by Holy Scripture (e.g. Psalm 139: 7-12, and Acts 17: 26-28). Here is how the great Anglican spiritual writer of the 17th century, Jeremy Taylor, describes this first step:

God is wholly in every place, but limited to no place. ... We may imagine God to be as the air and the sea, with all of us enclosed in His embrace, wrapped up in the lap of His infinite nature; or as infants in the wombs of their pregnant mothers. We can no more be removed from the presence of God than from our own being. ... Let everything you see suggest to your spirit the presence, excellence, and power of God. Let your relationship with creatures lead you to the Creator. The more often you behold Him in the mirror of creation, the more often your actions will be done with an actual eye to God's presence. In the face of the sun, you may see God's beauty; in the fire you may feel His heat, in the water His gentleness to refresh you. He it is who comforts your spirits when you have taken a cordial. It is the dew of Heaven that makes your field give you bread, and the fountains of God pour forth drink to your necessities (from Holy Living).

According to St. Francis De Sales, a second way to place ourselves in the presence of God is to remember that "He is not only in the place where you are but also that He is present in a most particular way in your heart and in the very center of your spirit." Taylor puts it this way: "God is specially present in the hearts of His people by His Holy Spirit. Indeed, the hearts of holy men are truly His temples. In type and foreshadow, they are heaven itself, for God reigns in the hearts of His servants. There is His kingdom."

A third way to make our hearts and minds attentive to the presence of God is to imagine ourselves returning the loving gaze of Jesus our Savior. Saint Francis de Sales writes: "Consider how our Savior in His humanity gazes down from heaven on all mankind and particularly on Christians, who are His children, and most especially on those who are at prayer, whose actions and conduct He observes. This is by no means a mere figment of the imagination but the very truth. Although we do not see Him, it remains true that from on high He beholds us. At the time of His martyrdom, St. Stephen saw Him in this way (Acts 7:54-60)."

Having placed ourselves in the divine presence, we must do one more thing to begin to meditate: invoke the assistance of our Savior. True prayer is always something He helps us to do, by His Holy Spirit. It is a gift that we receive, not something we have to try to accomplish on our own. Jesus told us that to receive this gift, all we need to do is ask for it (Lk 11:13). Pope John Paul II reminded us of these important truths about authentic Christian prayer in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope:

In prayer, then, the true protagonist is God. The protagonist is Christ, who constantly frees creation from slavery to corruption and leads it toward liberty, for the glory of the children of God. The protagonist is the Holy Spirit, who "comes to the aid of our weakness." We begin to pray, believing that it is our own initiative that compels us to do so. Instead, we learn that it is always God's initiative within us, just as St. Paul has written [Rom 8:26].

Vatican Confirms Excommunication of St. Louis Group

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Hired Suspended Priest for St. Stanislaus

ST. LOUIS, Missouri, MAY 29, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A decision by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith confirmed an earlier declaration from the St. Louis archbishop that the board of directors of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Corporation and the priest they hired are excommunicated.

The corporation is associated with what used to be St. Stanislaus Kostka parish.

Archbishop Raymond Burke, in his weekly column in the St. Louis Review to be published Friday, explained the history of the Vatican congregation clarification.

He noted that in 2005, he "was obliged to declare the excommunication of the members of the board of directors of St. Stanislaus Kostka Corporation because of their persistence in schism. The members of the board had committed the most grievous delict of schism by hiring a suspended priest, that is, a priest not in good standing in the Church, for the purpose of attempting to celebrate the sacraments and sacramentals at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, all outside of the communion of the Catholic Church."

The priest involved, Father Marek Bozek of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, had left his priestly assignment against the expressed will of his bishop, Bishop John Leibrecht, in order to be hired by the St. Stanislaus Kostka Corporation.

The priest was suspended from all acts of the power of Holy Orders and of governance.

In St. Louis, Archbishop Burke said he "urged [Father Bozek] to be obedient to his bishop and not to participate in the schismatic activity of the Board of Directors of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Corporation. Reverend Bozek also refused to follow my direction and, likewise, incurred the penalty of excommunication because of persistence in schism."

The board appealed for a review, but the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith took two actions, the archbishop explained: "First, it has rejected the recourse presented by the Board of Directors of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Corporation, including Reverend Bozek. In other words, it has found the recourse to be without foundation.

"Secondly, the Congregation has confirmed my decrees of December 15, 2005, by which I declared that the members of the Board of Directors had incurred the canonical penalty of excommunication because of persistence in schism."

Photos link Governor Sebelius to late-term abortionist

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Governor Kathleen Sebelius at the reception with George Tiller. Photo Credit: Operation Rescue

Kansas City, May 29, 2008 / 05:29 pm (CNA).- In the wake of the Archbishop of Kansas City’s reaffirmation of his public admonishment of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius for her pro-abortion politics, a pro-life group has published damaging photographs showing Sebelius hosting a reception at the governor’s residence for a late-term abortionist and the staff of his abortion clinic.

The governor’s spokeswoman has admitted that a reception was held for notorious late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller last year at the governor’s residence. Nicole Corcoran, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Governor Sebelius had donated the reception as an item for a fundraising auction for the Greater Kansas City Women's Political Caucus, the Associated Press says. Tiller purchased the item and the event was held on April 9, 2007.

The pro-life group Operation Rescue, which has campaigned against Tiller’s abortion clinic, published photographs of the event on its web site on Wednesday night. The photos depict Tiller, his wife, and the staff of his Women’s Health Care Clinic at the governor’s residence.

In one picture Governor Sebelius cheerfully greets Tiller. According to Operation Rescue, Tiller presented her with a paperweight and pin bearing his favorite slogan, “Attitude is Everything.” Tiller’s wife and employees are shown with the governor both in one-on-one pictures and in a group photo.

In one photo, Governor Sebelius is seen holding a t-shirt with the words “Trifecta: Sebelius, Parkinson, Morrison.” All are pro-abortion Democrats supported by Tiller.

Operation Rescue said a “confidential source” described the event as a party held “exclusively in Tiller’s honor.” The group also alleges that Tiller has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to pro-abortion Democrats through a “complicated series of political action committees and non-profit organizations.”

According to the Associated Press, the governor’s spokeswoman denied that the April 2007 event should be characterized as one honoring Tiller.

Operation Rescue asserted on Thursday that, "There is not one shred of evidence to support Gov. Sebelius's claims” that the event was not held to honor Tiller.

Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue said that, “If Gov. Sebelius' story were to be true, the dinner prize that Tiller supposedly bid on would have been auctioned by the Greater Kansas City Women's Political Caucus at the Torch Dinner in 2006, because their 2007 auction event was held in November, 2007, well after the Tiller party.”

Newman says that he looked into Sebelius’ claims that the meeting was auctioned off.

“According to the Greater Kansas City Women's Political Caucus Political Action Committee expenditure reports on file with the Kansas Governmental Ethic Commission, auction receipts benefited the PAC, yet there is no evidence of any contribution from George Tiller, his wife, Jeanne, or his abortion clinic Women's Health Care Services in 2006 or 2007,” said Newman.

"Sebelius' office arrogantly believes that they can keep her strong ties to Tiller a secret, but their efforts to keep the truth from the public have only exposed their corruption,” Newman claimed.

"Sebelius would not be governor today if not for Tiller's financial support. She owes him her career. Every agency in Kansas that could hold Tiller accountable for illegal late-term abortions, from the Board of Healing Arts to the Kansas Supreme Court to the Attorney General, are all laced with Sebelius appointees. It is little wonder that they all have done nothing but stall and obstruct efforts to prosecute him.”

Operation Rescue also says it has obtained a receipt that shows that the State of Kansas paid for the April 9, 2007, dinner with George Tiller. Responding to queries about the state footing the bill on Wednesday, Gov. Sebelius said that the reception was reimbursed by the Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus. Upon examining the caucus’ financial records Operation Rescue says no such reimbursement exists.

Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph F. Naumann has called Dr. George Tiller “perhaps the most notorious late-term abortionist in the nation.” In a May 9 column in his archdiocese’s newspaper The Leaven, the archbishop asked Governor Sebelius to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion. In the same column he specifically lamented reports that Sebelius’ campaign has accepted donations from Tiller and his political action committees.

Archbishop Naumann has reaffirmed his actions concerning the governor in a more recent issue of The Leaven.

Governor Sebelius is considered a possible vice-presidential candidate for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama. As a white woman, it is believed she would appeal to voters that would vote for Obama rival Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Gay Marriage

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Question from Martha Dancy on 5/15/2008:

I heard on Fox News that gay marriage may be passed in California and that clergy would be forced to perform these so called marriages if a couple came in for one. What can the church do to prevent being forced to go against Her own faith and morals? Would the priests be willing to go to jail to uphold the teachings of the church? Can the government force churches to comply with immorality? I would rather go to jail than give in to these perverted views. Martha Dancy
Answer by David Gregson on 5/29/2008:

I doubt if it will come to that, clergy being forced to preside at gay weddings. But if it should, priests would be obliged to refuse, going to jail rather than desecrating the Sacrament of Matrimony. Whether all would have the nerve to refuse is doubtful, but there are always traditores in time of persecution.

Eucharistic Procession and Litany 2 of 2

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Adoration and Litany 1 of 2

Catholic hospital’s nurses vote against joining pro-abortion union

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Fresno, May 29, 2008 / 08:03 pm (CNA).- Nurses at a Catholic hospital in Fresno have voted against joining a pro-abortion nurses’ union by a vote of 452 to 327.

The California Catholic Daily reports that nurses at St. Agnes Medical Center had debated whether to choose the California Nurses Association to represent them in labor negotiations.

Association president Deborah Burger personally observed the voting and the nurses’ association leaders had even brought a cake to celebrate the victory they expected.

The California Nurses Association had a large staff of paid, professional organizers working to win the vote. The association represents more than 60,000 nurses and has annual revenues of $60 million. The association could have collected nearly $1 million in annual dues had St. Agnes nurses voted to join.

Last year a group of St. Agnes nurses began a self-funded effort to oppose association organizers, citing the organization’s pro-abortion agenda. On May 15 nurses rallied against joining the association, saying the organization’s values conflicted with those of a Catholic hospital. They cited the association’s support even for partial-birth abortion.

St. Agnes Hospital chaplain Father Henry Williams also spoke out against abortion and urged nurses to consider the organization’s abortion position in deciding their vote.

“Some of the views of CNA just didn’t gel with the views and philosophy St. Agnes has and that was a huge concern for many of the voters,” Inge Schlegel, one of the nurses opposing the California Nurses Association, told KMPH-26 television news after the election.

Representatives from the California Nurses Association said they would challenge the results of the latest election, which had a 94 percent turnout. The medical center’s nurses had previously rejected association representation in 1998 by a margin of only six votes.

50 Days; Melbourne Takes up the Cross

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Sydney Is Getting Ready for the Pilgrims

By Catherine Smibert

SYDNEY, Australia, MAY 29, 2008 (Zenit.org).- If they didn't know it before, the residents of Sydney now know that World Youth Day pilgrims will soon be flooding their streets, shores, shopping malls and media.

The city's consciousness was awakened last weekend when scores of young volunteers in Sydney gave up their Saturday to hand out postcards and balloons, informing the people of Sydney of the upcoming youth day.

The event is part of the archdiocesan Catholic Youth Service (CYS) strategy to engage the wider community in the activities to take place July 15-20. The mission is called "Operation Activate" -- or "Act1v8" -- based on the theme of the World Youth Day as taken from Acts 1:8.

Event coordinator of the CYS team, Vincent Haber, told me that the occasion was just one activity among many promotional engagements the group has been coordinating over the last couple of years.

"With this exercise though, we brought out the fresh face of World Youth Day, coupled with our enthusiasm for it, to the general public who could stop, ask questions, have a chat and get concise information booklets which aren't available online," he added.

Participant Monica Doumit, 26, felt the activity was vital in combating some of the negative secular press around the event. "There are people who have heard about World Youth Day, but many of them needed to have the facts clarified and be personally invited before taking that step toward volunteering or even registering."

Doumit's friend, Vicki Kassouf, added that she liked the chance to evangelize: "Some people were a little nervous about being open in their faith and it was so special when they stopped for a chat and talked about their past experiences and faith journey."

Corinne Lindsell, a 24-year-old homestay coordinator for her parish, noted that "the momentum was there, the excitement was there, and the reality that it is only seven weeks away hit home."

On Sunday, the Sydney bishops, priests and seminarians led the same youth team and general parishioners in a Corpus Christi procession.

The event attracted a lot of attention by passers by, and Sydney's youth were again on hand wearing T-shirts with the encouraging words "ask me" printed across them.

"Being able to use today as a trigger to discuss our faith with those on the streets is such a special witness we've given to our city," said 23-year-old World Youth Day coordinator for Franciscan youth, Ben Galea. "It's just a taste of what World Youth Day will do to our whole country."

On Monday -- exactly 50 days before the youth event -- the World Youth Day organizing committee held a press conference to unveil Benedict XVI's scheduled face-to-face encounters with young people.

These include the traditional lunch with 12 selected youth; a Mass with seminarians during which the Pope will bless and dedicate the cathedral's new altar; and a unique request made by Benedict XVI himself to meet with some of Sydney's disadvantaged young people.

"Those he will meet are young people alienated from the many positive messages that World Youth Day promotes," said Bishop Anthony Fisher at the press conference.

The coordinator of the youth day added, "This will be a beginning point that links them into the ongoing healing mission of the Catholic Church."

With 50 days to go, excitement is building, according to Activ8 volunteer, Monica Doumit. "Seeing the impact of those encounters last weekend alone, and recalling my experience in Cologne, now I can't help but engage everyone in World Youth Day conversation.

"I find myself talking about World Youth Day on the train, to the guy that I'm buying coffee from, at work and everywhere because we young people know its potential!"

* * *

Blogging a Journey

If you didn't catch the World Youth Day cross, icon and Aboriginal message stick as they traveled through Melbourne from April 25 to May 10, check on line.

The World Youth Day symbols have been traveling all over Australia, touching the lives of many Australians, but the Archdiocese of Melbourne wanted to reach out to even more by posting the events of the cross, icon and message stick online.

Belinda White, communications manager for Melbourne's Days in the Diocese, says that it's vital to utilize modern technologies combined with these events with "the aim to encourage young people to embrace their spiritual identity, celebrate empowerment and spread the strong message of peace."

The blog for the Melbourne journey of the cross and icon is filled with up-to-date video streaming, photos and reports composed "from the heart," as White says.

White and her team are highly conscious to engage all the pilgrims destined for Melbourne's Days in the Dioceses to know what they're about to experience.

She tells the youth of the world to be assured of meeting many faithful friends in Melbourne as the numbers of the attendees to these cross and icon events over the first six days alone drew double the amount of young people as the Melbourne team originally forecast.

Tim Davies, Days in the Diocese project officer looking after youth engagement and international liaison, observed with interest how the occasions have "gone beyond just the usual group we expected to attend and it was refreshing to see new faces from all over."

He says that though many are turning up not knowing what to expect, the impact of the journey of the cross and icon activities and symbols upon them is noteworthy.

"I have literally watched transformations," the young leader insists. "Girls from a particular school began one event by standing by distracted and uninterested. I observed their whole demeanor change as it came to be their turn to take up the cross. The reverence it suddenly inspired was astounding."

He continued with the example of "another occasion which had the students from six schools reflecting on the charisms of their respective founders. And when it came to Marcellin College, 50 teenage boys broke into spontaneous Latin a cappella song."

Stylistically, the week's events of the Journey of the Cross and Icon is indicative of the Days in the Diocese programming Melbourne is planning for July 10-14, noted Brother Mark Connors who heads up the Melbourne Days in the Diocese offices.

"Our mission is to serve and inspire young people here on their way to Sydney," he told me, "and we aim to do this through celebrating our Catholicity in the living Church of Melbourne, providing generous hospitality for pilgrims and creating opportunities where the gifts of life and faith are exchanged."

Brother Connors said Melbourne is expecting 25,000 youth from all over the world to visit the city and that "they are all set to be treated to a smorgasbord of events -- the biggest youth event ever to be staged in Victoria -- to prepare them better for their pilgrimage to Sydney."

* * *

On the Road

A common saying for youth day pilgrims is, "It's not the destination but the pilgrimage that counts." To that end, Sydney is gearing up to make journeying around the city as smooth as possible

The state government of New South Wales has created a World Youth Day Coordination Authority, and it is responsible for making all citizens aware of the events to take place this July. Large electronic road signs across the state have been programmed to count down the days to the World Youth Day celebrations, as well as call for volunteers to help out with it.

The authority has also created a system via their Web site "to provide the community -- participants and non-participants alike -- with the information they will need to plan and manage their lives, their businesses and their travel during the week of World Youth Day activities."

The Road and Traffic Authority will also provide detailed information to the site regarding detailed road closures, traffic flow alterations and additional public transport that will be in place for the events.

Apprehensions have been raised about the organization of roads and public transport for the pilgrims, but the World Youth Day organizers and the state of New South Wales assure that with just under three months to go, transport coordination for the mobility of both pilgrims and citizens is well under way.

When a journalist questioned Bishop Anthony Fisher, coordinator of the youth day, about the inconvenience of the event to citizens, the prelate stated, "When you have someone to your home to stay, it always puts you out a little from your average routine […] but that's the nature of hospitality."

"I'm sure that once the youth of the world are smiling throughout the streets of Sydney," he added, "we will forget about complaining."

Algerian archbishop calls on Muslim government to free convert to Christianity

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Rome, May 29, 2008 / 11:43 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Emeritus Henri Teissier of Algeria has called on that country’s government to free Christian convert Habiba Kouider, who was arrested on April 1 for “practicing a non-Muslim religion” and is facing a three-year prison sentence requested by prosecutors.

According to Vatican Radio, Kouider was found with a Bible and was detained by police. “I hope Habiba Kouider will be released since the judge in the case has expressed a different opinion from that of the prosecutor,” the archbishop told the El Kabar newspaper.

Ghechir Boudjema, president of the Algerian League of Human Rights, told Radio France Internationale that Kouider has done nothing illegal. “It is a good ruling because (the judge) said the police and prosecutors made a mistake by bringing charges against Habiba Kouider,” he said. There is no law in Algeria that forbids owning a religious book such as the Bible or the Koran, he added.

In the same city of Tiaret, six Algerian Protestants have been accused of proselytism and were arrested as they left a home where they had met for prayer. Prosecutors are asking for the men to be sentenced to two years in prison for “practicing a religion in an unauthorized place.”

Algerian Minister of Religious Affairs, Bouabdallah Gholamallah, said the group was acting “outside the law” and was seeking to “constitute a (Christian) minority in order to support foreign interference in the internal affairs of Algeria.”

Skin creams/aborted babies

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Question from Elizabeth on 5/29/2008:


I hope you can help me with this. There are many creams, as I'm sure you well know, that contain human collagen in them, and this is actually derived from the tissue of aborted children who are sold by the "batch" after abortions. I wondered if you, or any of your readers, know of a list of products that DO contain human collagen in them. Some of these products, like Aveeno, don't list their ingredients. Thank you!
Answer by Judie Brown on 5/29/2008:

Dear Elizabeth

On the narrow question of creams that might contain fetal cells from aborted babies, there is little information, partly because the federal government has rules that ban the use of these cells in American products.

If there is information about foreign products such as the statements about Chinese products a few years ago, they are rarely verifiable.

In the specific ase of AVEENO, which you mention, all of their material refers to natural products derived from herbs and grains; if they were using collagen from aborted babies, they would have to refer to a "human" source. They do not.

Judie Brown


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Question from FL resident on 5/29/2008:

Dear Judie, They way I understand "gay days" is that Disney has no advance warning of when such an event will take place in their parks. Those participating in Gay Days just show up. If a family, after being admitted into the theme park, is uncomfortable with Gay Days, Disney will refund their money upon request. This is what I have heard from those who have been there.
Answer by Judie Brown on 5/29/2008:

Dear Florida Resident

Thank you so much for this clarification.

Judie Brown

same sex marriage

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Question from Chris on 5/29/2008:

Hi, Judie,

California just recently okayed same sex marriage, and now New York is following suit. I am wondering who in the Catholic Church is visibly fighting against this in the media? I just read yesterday where a doctor refused to perform artificial insemination for a lesbian woman and she is suing. Our religious beliefs and freedoms are being undermined by our court system and government. If you don't go along with some of these new cultural changes, you can be literally sued and also sued for hate speech. i.e. a landlord refused to rent to a homosexual couple on religious grounds and was sued; a foster parent couple were forced to quit fostering children because they wouldn't teach them about homosexuality; this lesbian woman I mentioned earlier is suing. This is so frightening! Can you imagine priests being forced to marry homosexual couples; doctors being sued if they refuse to perform abortions? It is getting so that if you refuse, you can be sued for hate speech. In my state, West Virginia, the work force is already forced to contribute to abortion when they pay their taxes. These are just a couple of examples. Don't think it can't happen here because it already is! Who in the Church is fighting back legally? We had better take a stand and soon. I would support anyone or group who is actively countering these law changes. Do you know of any? Thanks, Chris
Answer by Judie Brown on 5/29/2008:

Dear Chris

In 2006 the Wisconsin Bishops spoke out. See http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=21926

In 2007 the Massachusetts Bishops spoke out. See http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0703440.htm

In California the reaction AFTER the fact can be read at http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/080515/20080515006233.html?.v=1

My point is that until the UNITED United States Conference of Catholic Bishops draws a line in the sand and stands on that line, such travesties will continue.

Judie Brown


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"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leapt in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit." —Luke 1:41

Mary is the spouse of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit overshadowed her and she conceived Jesus, Who is God (Lk 1:35). Mary is the minister of the Spirit. Both Elizabeth and John, the baby in her womb, received the Holy Spirit when Mary came to visit. Mary is the intercessor of the Spirit. In the upper room with Jesus' disciples, she prayed for the Holy Spirit to come (Acts 1:14). Mary is the spouse, minister, and intercessor of the Spirit.

On this feast day celebrating Mary's visit with Elizabeth and John, let's be open to the Lord working through Mary to renew us with the Holy Spirit of Pentecost. If we have stifled (1 Thes 5:19) or saddened the Spirit (Eph 4:30), we must repent. Mary, through her Immaculate Heart, will lay bare the thoughts of our hearts and confront us with our sins (see Lk 2:35). Then we can turn to Jesus, repent, go to Confession, and stir into flame the gift of the Spirit (2 Tm 1:6).

After the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Jesus' disciples experienced a new coming of the Spirit. "The place where they were gathered shook as they prayed. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God's word with confidence" (Acts 4:31). Today, when we commemorate both Mary's Visitation and her Immaculate Heart, we can, with Mary's help, receive both a renewed and new Pentecost. Come, Holy Spirit!

Prayer: Father, may I let You renew my Confirmation today.
Promise: "Bless your persecutors; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same attitude toward all. Put away ambitious thoughts and associate with those who are lowly." —Rm 12:14-16
Praise: The pureness of Mary's Immaculate Heart compelled her to think not of herself but of visiting her cousin Elizabeth in her time of need.

Vatican prelate cautious in meeting with Russian patriarch

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Moscow, May. 30, 2008 (CWNews.com) - In a personal message to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) thanked the Russian prelate for his "commitment to fostering relations between Catholics and Orthodox."

The Pope's message welcomed the "growing closeness" between Rome and Moscow, and the "shared desire to promote authentic Christian values and to witness to our Lord in ever deeper communion."

Cardinal Walter Kasper (bio - news), the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, delivered the Pope's message when he met with Patriarch Alexei in Moscow on May 30. Cardinal Kasper was in Russia for a series of meetings with both Catholic and Orthodox officials.

Pope Benedict said that he appreciated how the Moscow patriarchate "has been increasingly committed to dialogue with other Christians," and expressed his gratitude for "the signs of friendship and trust which your Church and its representatives have demonstrated in various ways."

Cardinal Kasper's meeting with Patriarch Alexei produced no major announcements. The Vatican has deliberately downplayed expectations for the visit, saying that the cardinal traveled to Russia in an effort to learn more about the life of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Although Vatican analysts speculated that Cardinal Kasper might seek to persuade the Moscow patriarchate to rejoin a joint Catholic-Orthodox commission for theological dialogue, there was no official indication that the cardinal had made such a plea, nor any indication that the Russian Orthodox hierarchy would reconsider the adamant stand that led Russian representatives to walk out of the latest commission meeting in Ravenna last October. On the contrary, Patriarch Alexei indicated that theological dialogue "couldn't develop without the world's largest Orthodox Church participating," the Interfax news service reported.

Interfax said that the Russian patriarch expressed concerns to Cardinal Kasper about the activities of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Orthodox leaders have complained frequently about the vigorous activity of Eastern-rite Catholics in Ukraine since the fall of the Communist regime and the revival of the Catholic hierarchy following years of government repression.

Patriarch Alexei and Cardinal Kasper agreed "in principle" that a meeting between the Pope and the Russian prelate might be arranged in the future. They also agreed that such a meeting should not be staged simply for appearances, but should be the product of a substantive improvement in relations between Rome and Moscow.

Tony Blair plans to devote life to religious partnerships

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New York, May. 30, 2008 (CWNews.com) - Former British prime minister Tony Blair has told Time magazine that he plans to devote the rest of his life to an effort to promote religious faith as a means of addressing world problems.

Religion should be a "civilizing force in globalization," Blair told Time. The power of faith, he said, would provide "an essential part of making globalization work."

Blair, who converted to Catholicism shortly after stepping down from his leadership role in the British government, is launching a new foundation dedicated to bringing together different religious groups to serve social needs.

Vatican Decree on the "Ordination" of Women

Vatican Decree on the "Ordination" of Women

VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the general decree of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the automatic excommunication for the "ordination" of women, published in today's print edition of L'Osservatore Romano.

* * *

On the Delict of Attempted Sacred Ordination of a Woman

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in virtue of the special faculty granted to it by the Supreme Authority of the Church (cf. Can. 30, Code of Canon Law), in order to safeguard the nature and validity of the sacrament of Holy Orders, decreed, in the Ordinary Session of December 19, 2007:

In accordance with what is disposed by Can. 1378 of the Code of Canon Law, he who shall have attempted to confer holy orders on a woman, as well as the woman who may have attempted to receive Holy Orders, incurs in a latae sententiae excommunication, reserved to the Apostolic See.

If he who shall have attempted to confer Holy Orders on a woman or if the woman who shall have attempted to received Holy Orders is a faithful bound to the Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches, he is to be punished with the major excommunication, whose remission remains reserved to the Apostolic See, in accordance with can. 1443 of the same Code (cf. can. 1423, Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches).

The present decree enters in force immediately after its publication in L'Osservatore Romano.

William Cardinal Levada

Angelo Amato, s.d.b.
Titular Archbishop of Sila

Brazilian bishops deplore approval of law allowing research on embryos

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Brasilia, May 30, 2008 / 02:08 pm (CNA).- The Bishops’ Conference of Brazil issued a statement yesterday deploring the approval of law that allows research with human embryos and underscoring its firm commitment to the defense of life from conception to natural death.

The Brazilian bishops’ response came in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that upheld the law which allows “the use of embryos created through in vitro fertilization and that have been frozen for more than three years in fertility clinics.”

The bishops noted the issue was “not one of a religious nature but rather of the promotion of human life,” and they underscored that life, which begins “at fertilization,” should be protected “in all circumstances.”

The embryo is “a human life,” as confirmed by “embryology and biology, and therefore the human embryo has the right to be protected by the State.”

“The fact that it is in vitro or in the mother’s womb does not diminish or increase this right. It is sad that the Supreme Court has not confirmed this clear right and has allowed human embryos to be destroyed,” the bishops said.

“Contrary to public opinion, embryonic stem cells are not the remedy for curing all illnesses. The more viable alternative for this scientific research is the use of adult stem cells, taken from the patients themselves, which have already benefited more than 20,000 people with different types of treatments for degenerative illnesses,” they explained.

“We reaffirm that the mere fact of being in the presence of a human being demands full respect for his integrity and dignity: any behavior that could constitute a threat or an offense to the fundamental rights of the human person, the first of which is the right to life, is considered gravely immoral,” the bishops stressed.

Release the Burden!

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mini me
By Lisa Duffy

I will never forget this story my friend Laurie told me about her divorce experience:

I actually began going to a divorce support group a month before my husband left me. I knew he would soon announce his decision to leave and I wanted to see what I had to look forward to, so I found a support group at a local church and began attending. There was this one woman who spoke each week, and she was very angry. Her comments were terribly bitter, but what I remember most about her was her face. She had so many wrinkles and her features were pinched with tension. Her small eyes constantly squinted with pain and resentment. I remember observing her closely, thinking to myself, "I don't ever want to look like that!" And so after my husband finally left me I had to find a way to suffer the loss of my marriage without carrying that burden of bitterness on my shoulder. This was no easy task, for my husband had been having an affair and in the end, he left me for that woman. The pit of my anger seemed to have no bottom. But it was my faith that carried me through that terrible time, and I believed that God would help me if I stayed as close to Him as I could. So I did, and through it all I realized that forgiving my husband was going to be a major key to my being able to get through this terrible pain. That became a turning point for me, and I worked on forgiveness throughout the next several years.

One evening, I had the opportunity to meet his new "wife" when he and I met to sign the papers for the sale of our house. I can't say I was happy about this or in the slightest way comfortable, but I had worked so hard to forgive them both that I was able to be pleasant and conversational. I wasn't filled with rage, nor was I biting my tongue to avoid rude remarks. I was painfully sad, but even in that moment, I was forgiving them.

Toward the end of our meeting, my ex-husband left the room and "she" and I were alone. As I began to talk, she actually started to cry. As she dabbed her eyes with a tissue, she told me how surprised she was that I could treat her so charitably after all that had happened. She said she was truly touched by my friendliness. She cried! How many tears I, myself, had cried over the two of them, but in the end, forgiving them was what healed me, and God had given me the grace to forgive this terribly unjust hurt. I am so grateful for that and for all the other ways He has helped me heal.

"Forgiveness" is a powerful word and one such that in the height of anger, many people choke on it. Why? Because the crime deserves a punishment! Well, yes, but primarily because forgiveness is hard. We don't want to let the offender off the hook! We want justice! Make them pay!! Forgiveness doesn't feel good. Making the offender pay feels good! Well, maybe only momentarily...

And there are so many people to forgive throughout the course of our lives, heck, even throughout the course of our day. There's the driver that won't let us change lanes even though he's seen the blinker blinking for two miles. There's the child who has taken a permanent ink pen to a piece of furniture. A nice piece of furniture. There's the family member who criticizes us endlessly. There's the one who stole your wallet. There are many people who have hurt us so terribly, and yes, there are many opportunities to forgive each day. But some days, we feel so beaten down, we just want justice... we just want someone to say, "I'm sorry." But no one does, and forgiveness becomes even harder.

Anger takes a physical and emotional toll. When I went through my divorce in 1993, I dropped 13 pounds in a matter of two or three weeks. I was consumed with rage over what was happening. My anger burned night and day, and it clouded my perspective and my ability to think straight. I had trouble sleeping and eating. I was filled with resentment and held tightly to these emotions as if they were precious gems. I was so wound up with anger that I couldn't see that by holding tight to unforgiveness I was only prolonging my pain. It wasn't until I learned how to forgive that I began to heal. It wasn't just my ex-husband that needed forgiveness, either. I needed to forgive his family, the other women, the friends who protected him in his infidelity, and myself, for reasons I knew of deep in my heart.

So many people hold on to the resentment day after day. We replay scenes of hurts occurring in our heads, wishing we had reacted differently. We may have hurts that occurred years ago that we are still acting out in our memories. This means our hearts are in battle each day, maybe even all day. We get no satisfaction from it whatsoever, and we expend huge amounts of energy on feeling lousy.

There are many reasons why taking the high road and relaxing our grip on our need for justice is the good thing to do, the right thing. First and most importantly is because Jesus asks us to forgive. He tells us in the gospel of Matthew that, "unless you forgive your brother from your heart" God will treat us with the same justice (cf. Matthew 18: 21 - 35). Yikes! But there are many other reasons, as well. Let's focus on one: our own physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

A priest once asked me in confession if I loved my children and of course, I said yes. He then asked me how I could say that I "love" my children if my heart was so full of anger and resentment toward those who had hurt me in the past? How could I love when my heart was full of anger? I saw his point and I knew he was right. But recognizing it was one thing and actually curing the disease was something different. How could I forgive my offenders of the hurts they have caused? How could I let them off the hook? Why would I let them off the hook?

The answers are simple, but they take our resolve and God's grace. We must resolve to forgive which means we need to set aside our pride and our desire for justice. We need to let go of the "rights' and "wrongs", the "deserves" and "don't deserves" and think of Christ with the little children on his knee and all around Him saying, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18: 3). Wow. That's powerful. Becoming childlike certainly means forgiving.

Then, we must acknowledge there will be times when we don't want to forgive. That's when God's grace takes over. God will fill in what we are lacking. He loves to do this for us, He waits for the opportunity to help. We simply need to give Him the authority to take over our hearts.

Forgiveness is a process. It happens gradually, just like most of the healing process. It's amazing how God's grace can free us of the most terrible hurts and fill us with love so we never need to cling to the hurts again. All He needs to heal us is our open hearts. My prayer for you is an open heart and freedom from the past.

Choosing to Forgive

Technorati Tags: , WASHINGTON - Choosing to Forgive, an interfaith religion special on the meaning and practice of forgiveness, will be broadcast Sunday, June 8 on the CBS Television Network. For exact airing time check your local station.

Choosing to Forgive presents the idea of forgiveness from both a religious and a scientific point of view. Several major faiths teach we must forgive those who do us wrong. In recent years, the subject has interested psychologists who have studied it as a potentially effective means of getting past wrongs and injustices.

This special presentation is produced in cooperation with the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission (IBC), including the National Council of Churches, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), a consortium of Jewish organizations and the Islamic Society of North America. Read more here.

Ahmadinejad to meet with Pope?

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Rome, May. 29, 2008 (CWNews.com) - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is likely to meet with Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) during a visit to Rome this week, according to some Italian media reports. But the circumstances of the meeting-- if it takes place-- remain unclear.

The controversial Iranian leader has made an urgent request for a meeting with the Pontiff. The Vatican has not announced plans for a private audience.

The daily La Repubblica now reports that the Pope will hold an unofficial meeting with Ahmadinejad-- a private talk without the usual trappings of honor guard, anthems, and official addresses. On the other hand Corriere della Sera predicts that the Pope will meet with Ahmadinejad in a group, along with other government leaders who are attending the FAO conference.

Ahmadinejad will be in Italy during the first week in June for a meeting of UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which is headquartered in Rome. The Iranian embassy has disclosed that the Islamic leader has asked "repeatedly" for an opportunity to speak with the Pontiff. Iran has made a concerted effort to enlist the help of the Holy See in its efforts to ward off diplomatic pressure from the US and the UN.

Ahmadinejad has no plans to meet with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano or with the country’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi while he is in Italy.

parts of mass

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Question from Sandy Peters on 5/25/2008:

I am wondering is it going against cannon law to show a slide show at mass just before the final blessing? During our confirmation mass that was celebrated by our priest because the bishop was ill, the youth minister showed a slide show of the JR. high retreat. My father-in-law said that was not rightthat it is detering form the mass and can't do that because of cnnon law, I said you could as long as all points of the mass were convered. Who is right?
Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 5/26/2008:

I suppose this was done as part of the "announcements" in a broad sense. This is the time of Mass when announcements are permitted.

If such a slide show was necessary, I think that it would have been better to end the Mass completely and then show the slides. But at long as it was done at the time of the announcements, I suppose that it is not in violation of the letter of the law.

Cannon 1097

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Question from Charlie Szatkowski on 5/25/2008:

I have some questions about cannon 1097 (error about the quality of the person). My current wife of five years has led me to think that she is not in full communion with the Church. I am a "strong" Catholic that agrees with everything that the Church teaches regarding faith and morals, but I have come to see that my wife holds more Protestant positions on things I view as crucial (missing Mass on Sundays, the Church was instituted by Christ, the Pope is infallible, etc.) We argue about religion so much that I have dropped the subject. She says that I'm "brainwashed" and a "freak" for thinking as I do. I am not happy with the loneliness I experience due to the friction we have. My faith is the most important thing in my life, but I cannot share this with my wife. This leads me to think that I may be able to annul the marriage using cannon 1097. I initially thought that she was a "good Catholic wife" of my hopes and dreams. But even she tells me that she's not what I thought she was, and that she can she me marrying someone else... someone who would be "a good Catholic wife." I thought she would be one at the time of our marriage. If I knew just how divergent our views were about religion, I would not have married her. Also, two years into the marriage I learned of a cocaine addiction she had that I was not informed of. It took a forced drug test to reveal this. To this day I still have issues with trusting her when she goes out with friends. It turns out that this was going on during our courtship as well. I was naive enough not to see this because I didn't know the signs of cocaine addiction. I have forgiven her regarding the drugs and lying, but do not want to see a relapse, especially if we ever had children. Drug and alcohol abuse runs on her side of the family. She says she's clean now. But I have huge concerns about the validity of our marriage union. Would I have a case for an annulment using cannon 1097? -My apologies for the length of this question.
Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 5/26/2008:

An error based on canon 1097, 2 must be an error directly and principally intended. I don't see anything that you directly and principally intended in what you have described.

Let me give an example of a situation where canon 1097, 2 would apply: A woman intends to marry a man whom she believes to be a doctor. He lies and tells her that he is a doctor, and she would not have married him if she had known this to be a lie. Then a couple of months after the marriage, she finds out the truth and immediately leaves him in anger.

What you are describing is a woman who is as not as strong a Catholic as you would have hoped. But it is hard to see how this rises to the level as required by canon 1097, 2.

(Canon 1097, 1 only applies if it is completely the wrong person -- like when Jacob married Leah while intending to marry Rachel in the book of Genesis.)

I would say that there might be other grounds for nullity, perhaps psychological grounds related to the drug use.

Am I allowed to receive the eucharist?

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Question from Anonymous on 5/24/2008:

My husband and I are Catholic. We are married outside the church. It is my first marriage, however my husband was married before in the church. His first marriage is not annulled. I understand that he can not receive holy cummunion, but am I allowed?
Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 5/26/2008:

No, neither of you is permitted to receive Holy Communion because you are both living in an invalid marriage and in an objective state of grave sin.

communion cookie

communion cookie
Question from Ellen Simoni on 5/24/2008:

I have read all the previous answers, but in a Catholic church I visited last Sunday Father consecrated a nabisco-like wafer. (the kind of waffle like cookie filled with cream we can still buy in the stores made by Nabisco>) This did not have much sugar, if any (I'd like the recipe to make sure) and probably not leavened, but it was thicker than the regular wafer,crunchy, and oblong about 3/4 of an inch by 1 and 3/4 inches. I was so shocked when I got up close to receive I asked Father if it was really the body and blood of Jesus and he said yes. I took communion, but I figured it wasn't Jesus. After Mass the Priest was busy shaking hands, but another officious looking greeter was not so I asked him about it and he said it was mandated by the Bishop and besides it was more easily digested and tastes better. I was a visitor but their bulletin is full of ways to contact everybody in the parish and I can email the Pastor to ask for the recipe. So, if the cookie is made from wheat and water with no additives and merely poured thinly into a waffle making machine and cut in rectangles, it would be Jesus?

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 5/26/2008:

If the bread is made only of wheat and water, it would be valid.

However, in order to also be licit, it must be made in the traditional form -- i.e., in the form of a host.

canonizing saints

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Question from wondering on 5/24/2008:

You said "A problem with saying, however, that a canonization is infallible is that infallibility extends to matters of faith and morals, that is, a doctrine that is part of the deposit of faith. Is the canonization of a particular individual part of the deposit of faith?"

In your expert opinion, is it a part of the deposit of faith?

You then said, "Also, in terms of the law, the canon requires that something be declared as 'definitive'. The actual papal decree canonizing the saint does not use the term 'definitive'."

In a quote from a decree of canonization you quoted "we declare and define Blessed So and So to be a Saint, and we inscribe his name in the catalogue of the Saints, ordaining that, throughout the universal Church, he be devoutly honored among the Saints". Does "define" or "ordaining" in this instance make it definitive?

What makes somethng a matter of faith?

Answer by Rev. Mark J. Gantley, JCL on 5/26/2008:

Revelation was complete with the death of the last apostle. So anything that comes up after that cannot be considered to be part of the deposit of faith. For example, the Church might approve an apparition, but the messages of the apparition cannot be considered as adding anything to the deposit of faith. Rather, the messages of the apparition must be measured against Revelation/the deposit of faith.

I am open to the possibility that a canonization is an exercise of infallible teaching office, along the lines of what you state about "defining" and "ordaining." However, I am not sure that it is clear.

There are different levels of authoritative teachings. Just because something is not an infallible teaching does not mean that it is a false teaching. If a diocesan bishop issues a statement on some local issue, that is an authoritative teaching, even if fairly low in the exercise of the Church's authority. On the high end of authoritative teaching would be a papal encyclical letter. However, even an encyclical letter does not necessarily mean that the letter is infallible teaching.

To see different levels of teachings, look at the various documents of Vatican II. There are dogmatic constitutions, pastoral constitutions, declarations, and decrees. By using these different labels for the various documents, the council makes it clear that there are different levels of authority being invoked. Certainly matters stated in a decree are more open to reform and greater precision in articulation than those matters stated in dogmatic constitutions.

So whether or not a canonization of a saint is an infallible teaching, it is certainly issued with a great deal of certainty, so I don't think that we have any reason to doubt what is being defined.

Peruvian feminists expel pro-lifers from press conference

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Lima, May 28, 2008 / 02:46 pm (CNA).- Two renowned pro-life leaders in Peru were kicked out of a press conference organized by pro-abortion organizations who promoted the event as “open” to the media and other interested parties.

Maggela de Tejada, secretary of the Peruvian Bishops’ Committee on the Family, and Carlos Polo, director of the Population Research Institute’s Latin American office, were “invited” to leave the press conference for no apparent reason.

Polo told CNA, “An hour before the press conference, we called the contact person listed on the invitation, Sonia Puerta, and she told us the event was open. However, it was Ms. Puerta herself who asked me to leave.”

Tejada was also asked to leave after she said she was a member of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference, as “the invitation was only for members of the media.” “It was useless to explain to them that the bishops’ conference operates a number of media outlets and that if they kicked me out it would be a case of open discrimination and intolerance, since without any explanation they insisted that I leave,” Tejada said.

Another person attending the conference who asked to remain anonymous told CNA that he was not required to prove he was a member of the media. “In fact, I’m not, but they thought I was a sympathizer of their cause and they let me stay without any problem,” he said.

“This intolerant attitude shows that abortion supporters not only aim to interpret the law in an abusive manner, but also that they are closed to any kind of debate,” Polo said.

“These organizations,” he added, “seek to give the impression that they are open, they continuously repeat their slogan of ‘freedom of choice’ and even accuse others of being ‘fundamentalists’; however, they embrace an ideological totalitarianism that is expressed in the manipulation of the freedom of many poor women.” “They can’t even tolerate those who wish to listen to them with a critical ear,” Polo stated.

Eucharistic fast

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Question from anon on 5/22/2008:

Dear Father,

I have a question on Eucharistic fast.

I find that usually we start to receive Holy Communion approximately 15 mins. before end of mass. So if I want to attend a mass at 12 p.m. and I finish eating at 11:40 a.m., can I still receive Holy Communion? Or do I have to finish eating before 11 a.m.?

Thanks very much for your help and God bless you.
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 5/26/2008:

This is a popular question that comes up often. But what happens if there is a different priest who says Mass faster? Or what happens if he has, say, laryngitis, and does not preach a homily? Now you finished eating at 11:40 and you're receiving Holy Communion at 12:25.

The best thing to do is to not eat for one hour before Mass is scheduled to begin. Therefore, a 12 noon Mass means no eating after 11am.

green scapular

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Question from ms on 5/22/2008:

Have you heard of the green scapular? If so, can you tell me anything about it? Thanks.
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 5/27/2008:

While I've seen the green scapular in catholic gift shops, I don't know anything about it, except for what you normally know about Scapulars (I don't know what sets a green one apart from a brown one).

working on Sunday

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Question from Anonymous on 5/22/2008:

Please explain to me, how do we apply the teaching in the following situation... I want to start a family business, (Ice cream shop)and would expect that Sunday is a core day for the business, would being open on Sunday, working on Sunday be permissable? (FYI - Mostly my wife and I would run it, and during the summer my daughter comes home from college and could also help) (also FYI, I help out at our parish youth group on Sunday nights, so that might also be affected, the group continues fine on weekends when we are away) thank you Anon
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 5/27/2008:

As best as can be done, we should refrain from working on Sundays if we can help it. Read the catechism, paragraphs 2184-2188 for beautiful teachings on the Third Commandment.

New poll understates Californians’ support for same-sex marriage ban

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Bill May, chairman of Catholics for the Common Good,

Sacramento, May 28, 2008 / 08:18 pm (CNA).- A new poll examining support for homosexual marriage in California vastly overstates voters’ opposition to a marriage amendment to the state constitution and understates support for the measure, Catholics for the Common Good charges.

The Field Poll survey, conducted between May 17 and May 26, follows a state Supreme Court decision which ruled that barring homosexuals from marrying each other violates the California Constitution.

According to Reuters, the poll reported that 51 percent of respondents were against approving a proposed November ballot measure that would ban homosexual marriage, while only 43 percent favored it. A differently-worded question found 54 percent opposed and 40 percent in favor.

Broken down by demographics, the Field Poll found that 68 percent of 18-29 year- old respondents approved of same-sex marriage, while those 65 or older disapproved by 55 percent.

According to the poll, 51 percent of Californians approve of homosexual marriage, an increase from 46 percent in 2006 and 30 percent in 1985. The poll of 1,052 California voters claimed a margin of error ranging from plus or minus 3.2 to 5 percentage points, depending on the question.

Mark DiCamillo, the poll's director, called the results a “milestone in California. You can't downplay the importance of a change in an issue we've been tracking for 30 years."

William B. May, chairman of Catholics for the Common Good, disputed the findings, saying, “Today's Field Poll shows data inconsistent with other reputable polls that show voter support for defining marriage in the state constitution as between a man and a woman.” Mr. May cited both a May 21 poll showing Californians supported the homosexual marriage ban 54-46 and a May 15 SurveyUSA poll showing a 52-36 margin favoring the ban. He said that results can vary substantially depending on how questions are asked, the order in which they are asked, and sampling techniques.

“I am confident that when voters read the one-sentence initiative in November, they will see it as common sense and will vote for it. But this election to reinstate marriage as only between a man and a woman will be very close and hard-fought," Mr. May said.

He said it was true that young people support same-sex marriage more than other demographics, explaining, “Young people have been immersed in a culture that is largely indifferent to marriage and have even been taught in schools that marriage is simply a lifestyle choice reflected in the fact that marriage has declined over the last thirty years.”

Mr. May argued that the California Supreme Court decision is “clearly in conflict with the common interest of every child without exception in having a married mother and father.

“Marriage has declined to the point that four out of ten children are now born out of wedlock -- a serious problem that calls for promoting and supporting marriage for people who engage in reproductive acts. However, it is now illegal for public schools or other government agencies to promote marriage for men and women, because it discriminates against the private interests of a particular group of adults,” he said.

Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health, issued a directive to California’s clerks on Wednesday afternoon explaining that, barring a reversal of the California Supreme Court’s decision, June 17 will be the first day homosexuals can be recognized as married in California.

Suffering and Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Question from Michele on 5/27/2008:

I recently received an email from Women of Grace which quoted Our Lady's words to Juan Diego:

"Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more?"

How can I understand this in light of the recent tragedies in China and Myanmar? How were any of these victims under the shadow and protection of Our Lady? How are any of us, for that matter, with so much horror happening around us (and to us), each day?
Answer by Catholic Answers on 5/28/2008:


Recommended reading:

The Problem of Suffering Reconsidered by Peter Kreeft

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers

Eastern Orthodox liturgy

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Question from Brad on 5/27/2008:

This is not really a question as much as a response to a previous answer given on 4/28/08 regarding SSPX. I have no idea what SSPX is but the response stated that "Eastern Orthodox liturgies are extremely beautiful, but I daresay we would agree that Catholics ordinarily should not attend...."

Indeed, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is very beautiful, but your advice that Catholics should not attend is misplaced. Rather, occasional attendance at Orthodox services should be commended and encouraged in the name of Church unity. As both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have stated, we are branches of the same holy, catholic and apostolic Church and our connection is profound.

Although we are no longer in full communion we must pray that the day will soon come that full communion is once again realized. That being said, I recognize that attendance at an Orthodox liturgy cannot constitute fulfillment of our Sunday obligation to attend Mass; nor can a Catholic receive Communion at the Orthodox liturgy.
Answer by Catholic Answers on 5/28/2008:


1. For an explanation of "the SSPX," see this Q&A.

2. I did not say that Catholics "should not attend" Eastern Orthodox liturgies. I said that Catholics "ordinarily should not attend," a very important qualifier that basically states that "occasional attendance" for just reason is fine.

3. The Catholic Church is not a "branch" of the one, true Church. It is the one, true Church. The Eastern Orthodox churches are local churches that are in schism from the one, true Church. When Catholic leaders speak of the Eastern and Western churches being "the two lungs" of the one, true Church, they are not referring to the local Eastern Orthodox churches and the universal Catholic Church, but to the Eastern churches (Catholic and Orthodox) and the local Western Catholic church of the universal Catholic Church that is in union with Rome.

4. Ordinarily, a Catholic should not receive Communion at an Eastern Orthodox liturgy, but there are extraordinary circumstances in which the Catholic Church recognizes that a Catholic can approach an Orthodox minister for Communion.

Whenever necessity requires or a genuine spiritual advantage commends it, and provided the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, Christ's faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister, may lawfully receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose churches these sacraments are valid (canon 844 §2, Code of Canon Law).

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers

Can Catholics pray for their deceased pets?

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Question from James on 5/23/2008:

Just recently my dog died. Her death was untimely and a complete shock to me. She was my only company and friend, since I live alone. Since Brittany's death I have been so depressed and I feel so lonely without her. I pray quite often and this includes the rosary. I want to pray for my beloved pet and friend, I am not sure if it is allowed by the Church since she is an animal and animals, from what I've been told, don't have souls to pray for. Could someone clear this up for me?
Answer by Catholic Answers on 5/23/2008:


I'm so sorry for your loss. May God grant you comfort and healing during this difficult time.

Animal souls are material and do not survive death. While we may hope that God might recreate animals we have known and loved in the next life, there is no need to pray for them in the interim. What you can do is to offer up your grief over your pet's death, in union with Christ's cross, for the salvation of souls. If you want to do so by praying the rosary for this intention, that would be fine.

Recommended reading:

Do animals have souls?
Do our beloved pets go to heaven when they die?
A Travel Guide to Heaven by Anthony DeStefano

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers

terminal illness

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Question from vincent on 5/28/2008:

My brother is suffering from cancer in the advanced stage. He is going through the treatment as per the doctor's advice.If God wills he may be healed. The question is, his wife has left him alone saying I have no money to spend on him. She is a working woman and has a child. Her another reasoning is that if she uses her money on him she will not have anything left for her, though the property she owns is a joint ownership of her and her husband. Are we catholics doing the right thing to allow a patient to die without giving the treatment he deserves even if he is suffering from a terminal illness?
Answer by Judie Brown on 5/28/2008:

Dear Vincent

Your question deserves to be answered logically and with charity. We Catholics are called to reflect the mercy of God in all that we do including affirming the lives of each of our loved ones. The fact that someone is suffering from a terminal illness should invite us to be even more loving toward that person, even if it means unselfishly providing for that person to the best of our ability.

As Pope John Paul II taught:

"The parable of the Good Samaritan belongs to the Gospel of suffering. For it indicates what the relationship of each of us must be towards our suffering neighbour. We are not allowed to "pass by on the other side" indifferently; we must "stop" beside him. Everyone who stops beside the suffering of another person, whatever form it may take, is a Good Samaritan. This stopping does not mean curiosity but availability. It is like the opening of a certain interior disposition of the heart, which also has an emotional expression of its own. The name "Good Samaritan" fits every individual who is sensitive to the sufferings of others, who "is moved" by the misfortune of another. If Christ, who knows the interior of man, emphasizes this compassion, this means that it is important for our whole attitude to others' suffering. Therefore one must cultivate this sensitivity of heart, which bears witness to compassion towards a suffering person. Some times this compassion remains the only or principal expression of our love for and solidarity with the sufferer.

"Nevertheless, the Good Samaritan of Christ's parable does not stop at sympathy and compassion alone. They become for him an incentive to actions aimed at bringing help to the injured man. In a word, then, a Good Samaritan is one who brings help in suffering, whatever its nature may be. Help which is, as far as possible, effective. He puts his whole heart into it, nor does he spare material means. We can say that he gives himself, his very "I", opening this "I" to the other person. Here we touch upon one of the key-points of all Christian anthropology. Man cannot "fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself"(92). A Good Samaritan is the person capable of exactly such a gift of self." (APOSTOLIC LETTER SALVIFICI DOLORIS)

Judie Brown

souls and the holy spirit

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Question from Bruce on 5/27/2008:

I watch EWTN all the time. One person said that the Holy Spirit enters the child at baptism. Another said that the soul enters at the moment of conception. Wouldn't it be better to have the soul, how is that different from the Holy Spirit, ? enter at the moment of conception. Killing the container of the Holy SPirit would be more compelling an argument against abortion wouldn't it?
Answer by Judie Brown on 5/28/2008:

Dear Bruce

The Vatican Declaration on Abortion addressed the question of the soul and the preborn child. Here is what it says:

"FOOTNOTE 19. This declaration expressly leaves aside the question of the moment when the spiritual soul is infused. There is not a unanimous tradition on this point and authors are as yet in disagreement. For some it dates from the first instant; for others it could not at least precede nidation. It is not within the competence of science to decide between these views, because the existence of an immortal soul is not a question in its field. It is a philosophical problem from which our moral affirmation remains independent for two reasons: (1) supposing a belated animation, there is still nothing less than a human life, preparing for and calling for a soul in which the nature received from parents is completed, (2) on the other hand, it suffices that this presence of the soul be probable (and one can never prove the contrary) in order that the taking of life involve accepting the risk of killing a man, not only waiting for, but already in possession of his soul."

So, I would recommend that we address the fact that the Lord infuses the human being with a soul, and therefore regardless of the precise timing, every innocent human being from the instant his life begins is worthy of protection.

Judie Brown