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LGBTQ+ law clinic at Gonzaga Law raises 'serious concerns' for Spokane bishop

Spokane, Wash., Feb 19, 2020 / 05:08 pm (CNA).-  

Gonzaga University’s plan to become the first Jesuit university to open a law clinic focused primarily on LGBT advocacy has raised “serious concerns” for Spokane's Bishop Thomas Daly.

“While the Catholic tradition does uphold the dignity of every human being, the LGBT Rights law clinic’s scope of practice could bring the GU Law School into conflict with the religious freedom of Christian individuals and organizations,” the Spokane diocese said Feb. 19 in a statement to CNA.

“There is also a concern that Gonzaga Law School will be actively promoting, in the legal arena and on campus, values that are contrary to the Catholic faith and natural law.”

“Bishop Daly and the diocese are studying the issue further and will be discussing these serious concerns with the university administration,” the diocese added.

The diocese told CNA it was not consulted before the university announced the creation of the clinic.

The Lincoln LGBTQ+ Rights Clinic at Gonzaga was developed in partnership with the school’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, the university said in an announcement Feb. 14.

The clinic “aims to advance the equal rights and dignity of individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ through education, programming, advocacy, research, and legal representation.”

It will also provide “a special opportunity for Gonzaga law students to help protect and advance the rights of the LGBTQ+ community,” the university added.

Gonzaga's law school dean, Jacob Rooksby, told CNA that the LGBTQ+ Rights Clinic fits within the Catholic identity of the university because “it allows our students the chance to learn firsthand how law and the work of lawyers can further respect for individual dignity.”

The university noted that Harvard, Cornell, Emory, and UCLA— all secular institutions— have developed LGBTQ+ law clinics.

Father Bryan Pham, S.J., a civil and canon lawyer and chaplain for the Gonzaga School of Law, told CNA that the goal of the clinic is to create a space that helps students understand the viewpoints of a broad range of clients.

"I don't think there's anything that the law school or the clinic will be doing that would be in opposition to the Church's teaching, other than the fact that we want students to engage in this in a civil context of a law setting," Pham told CNA in an interview.

He said the clinic is not “about converting people or trying to get them to believe one way or another.”

“The law in this country is pretty clear about discrimination, so how do we expand that conversation in a much broader context?” he said.

The Lincoln LGBTQ+ Rights Clinic will “offer legal services to members of the public” with the help of second- and third-year law students, under the direction of a full-time faculty member, the university’s announcement explained.

Pham said it will be up to individual professors to decide whether or not to present the Church’s teaching in the classroom. He said “when it's my turn to be part of the conversation, I will definitely bring it up, absolutely.”
 
Concerns mentioned by Daly about religious liberty seem rooted in litigation some Catholic institutions have faced in recent years.

In the United States, various Catholic schools and dioceses have faced lawsuits from employees who have been fired after contracting civil same-sex marriages in violation of the diocesan or school policy.

In some states, such as Illinois, California, and Massachusetts, Catholic adoption agencies which do not place children with same-sex couples have been forced to close their doors after losing legal challenges.

In addition, Catholic hospitals have faced lawsuits from people who identify as transgender and wish to recieve surgery or hormone therapy to change their sex.

CNA asked Gonzaga whether students participating in the clinic might find themselves representing clients who are suing Catholic institutions.

“We are in the early stages of this initiative, working to hire a director and launch the clinic in the fall. Given that we are early in our development in the clinic, it is premature on our part to respond to hypothetical circumstances,” university spokesperson Chantell Cosner said in an email response to CNA.

“We anticipate being in a position to speak more specifically about the work of the clinic later this fall.”

But Pham said even if the clinic advocates for same-sex marriage, “the Church won't recognize that, so this really isn't an issue.”

In 2003, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that “in those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty.”

“One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection,” the CDF added.

According to Pham, more basic issues are likely to be the clinic’s focus.

“For us, it's more about how people are discriminated against. So in places of employment, housing, bank loans— you know, they won't give a loan to a couple because they're a same-sex union— so those are really basic human issues,” the priest said.

Pham said his main concern is people’s assumptions that the clinic will advocate for positions contrary to Church teaching.

"My concern is people jumping to conclusions, and just looking at the name of the clinic, and then making an assumption about it,” Pham commented.

“This is something that we're aware of, when we were thinking about doing this clinic. We are a Catholic Jesuit school, our foundation is within Catholic social teaching, so I think my main concern is people hearing about this and often jumping to conclusions without finding out.”

Pham said the university uses a 1997 document from the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Always Our Children,” as a guide for how “we work with our students and with community members who are of that community."

“Always Our Children” was, at the time of its release, criticized by groups who say they are faithful to Church teaching, such as Courage. It was largely embraced by groups critical of Catholic doctrine, such as DignityUSA. The document was not voted on by the full body of bishops, nor even discussed by them before its issuance, according to the National Catholic Register.

“Always Our Children” was revised and reissued in 1998, again, without a full vote of the U.S. bishops. One of the changes was the addition of a footnote to a 1992 letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding legislative proposals to address discrimination against people who identify as gay.

“There are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account,” the document says, “for example, in the placement of children for adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or athletic coaches, and in military recruitment.”

“‘Sexual orientation’ does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc., in respect to nondiscrimination,” the document continued.

“Including ‘homosexual orientation’ among the considerations on the basis of which it is illegal to discriminate can easily lead to regarding homosexuality as a positive source of human rights, for example, in respect to so-called affirmative action or preferential treatment in hiring practices.”

In 2006, the USCCB issued an new document, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination. That document, which was approved by a vote of the bishops, cited the CDF’s 1992 letter more explicitly.

“As human persons, persons with a homosexual inclination have the same basic rights as all people, including the right to be treated with dignity. Nevertheless “‘sexual orientation’ does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc., in respect to nondiscrimination,” the 2006 document said.

“Therefore, it is not unjust, for example, to limit the bond of marriage to the union of a woman and a man. It is not unjust to oppose granting to homosexual couples benefits that in justice should belong to marriage alone,” the document continued.

The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexual inclinations are not sinful, homosexual acts “are contrary to the natural law...under no circumstances can they be approved.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that people with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

For its part, the Diocese of Spokane said it will approach talks with Gonzaga with hope for a positive resolution to points of disagreement.

“Bishop Daly is a strong supporter of Catholic education and hopes that Gonzaga will continue to be a partner in the Catholic mission of faithful education in the Church,” the diocese said.

Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 2/20

Lost in the Crowd by Elinore Schnurr

There are times, Lord,
times that come too often,
times when I lose sight of you
- as when two friends in a crowd
separate from each other:
not an intentional disconnection,
not a calculated leave-taking,
but a gradual drifting apart
on waves of listless inattention
and careless distraction...

I wander aimlessly until I realize
I'm lost:
without you I lose my way
and my sense of direction
on the path my journey takes...

But when I'm lost
I find you're still there,
right there in the crowded confusion
of all that swept me from your side...

You, of course, never leave me,
it’s I who lose touch with you:
with your guiding hand
and your strong arm
holding me safe and close by your side...

And what a joy, blessing and comfort, Lord,
to find you again
to know I'm not alone
that in you I've found my way, 
my truth and my life...

Make me mindful of your company, Lord,
lest the crush of crowded days
find me drifting, again,
from the place I want to be:
the sanctuary of your Spirit
where I always find your presence,
your protection and your peace...

Amen.



 

   
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Biden touts Catholic faith as campaign falters

Washington D.C., Feb 19, 2020 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- Presidential candidate Joe Biden highlighted his Catholic faith in a new campaign ad, released on Tuesday, Feb. 18. The former frontrunner for the Democratic nomination has seen a sharp drop in his poll numbers following loses in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.

Biden, a baptized Catholic, said in the ad that “faith is what has gotten me through difficult times in my life,” including the deaths of his first wife, eldest daughter in a car accident, and his son Beau’s death from brain cancer. 

As Biden is speaking, the ad displays black-and-white pictures of the former vice president with various religious figures, including Pope Francis.

“Personally for me, faith, it’s all about hope and purpose and strength, and for me, my religion is just an enormous sense of solace,” he added.

“I go to Mass and I say the rosary. I find it to be incredibly comforting,” Biden said. 

The former frontrunner for the Democratic nomination quoted the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who said that “faith sees best in the dark,” to explain how his traumatic experiences have helped him develop and rely on his faith. 

“I marvel at people who absorb hurt and just get back up,” he said, drawing comparisons to the present state of the United States under President Donald Trump. 

“And I’m absolutely thoroughly convinced and optimistic about the prospects of this country. No, I really mean it,” he said. “There is nothing-there is nothing we can’t do.” 

While Biden is profiles his Catholicism in the advertisement, it has been a source of controversy over his lengthy political career, and he has endorsed policies that are contrary to Church teaching.

Shortly after his election as vice president, the then-bishop of his hometown of Scranton, PA, rebuked Biden for his views on abortion. 

“I will not tolerate any politician who claims to be a faithful Catholic who is not genuinely pro-life,” said Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton in 2008. “No Catholic politician who supports the culture of death should approach Holy Communion. I will be truly vigilant on this point.”

During the 2008 campaign, Biden also received a letter from the then-bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, after he received Communion at a parish in the diocese. The letter reiterated the Catholic Church’s views on abortion, and the bishop offered prayers that Biden would “live by the virtue of fortitude as you proclaim your support to the Person of Christ in the most vulnerable of his members: the pre-born child.” 

In October 2019, Biden was refused Communion at a Catholic church in South Carolina. The priest denied Biden Communion in accord with a 2004 diocesan policy that prohibits politicians who have been supportive of legal protection for abortion from receiving the Eucharist. 

“Catholic public officials who consistently support abortion on demand are cooperating with evil in a public manner. By supporting pro-abortion legislation they participate in manifest grave sin, a condition which excludes them from admission to Holy Communion as long as they persist in the pro-abortion stance,” says a 2004 decree signed jointly by the bishops of Atlanta, Charleston, and Charlotte.

At the time Biden was denied Communion, his website stated that one of his priorities as president would be to “work to codify Roe v. Wade” into federal law, and that “his Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate the constitutional right to an abortion,” including laws requiring waiting periods, ultrasounds, and parental notification of a minor’s abortion. 

“Vice president Biden supports repealing the Hyde Amendment because healthcare is a right that should not be dependent on one’s zip code or income,” said his website. 

Biden’s website also pledges him to “restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood,” and promises to “rescind the Mexico City Policy (also referred to as the global gag rule) that President Trump reinstated and expanded.” 

During his career as a senator, Biden voted numerous times in favor of the Hyde Amendment and Mexico City Policy, and opposed public funding for abortions. 

During the last year, Biden has shifted his views on abortion. Over the course of one week in June, Biden went from publicly supporting the Hyde Amendment--which prohibits the use of Medicaid funds for most abortions--to pledging to repeal it if he were to be elected president. 

Previously, Biden supported some aspects of pro-life legislation. In addition to his Senate vote in favor of the Hyde amendment, he also supported the Mexico City Policy in 1984, voted again in favor of Hyde in 1993, and voted to ban partial-birth abortion in 1995 and again in 1997.

In an interview shortly after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Biden refused to support unrestricted access to abortion and said that he thought the Supreme Court “went too far” in their decision. In 1981, he lent his name to the “Biden Amendment,” which bans the use of federal funds for biomedical research involving abortion or involuntary sterilization.

By 2012, in the vice presidential debate against then-Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Biden described himself as being personally pro-life, though he also expressed his support for legally protecting abortion.

Picture this: Knights of Columbus publish new illustrated history

New Haven, Conn., Feb 19, 2020 / 12:00 am (CNA).- A multitude of photos and copies of historic records enliven a new history of the largest Catholic men’s organization in the world, “The Knights of Columbus: An Illustrated History,” to be released in March.

“It’s a testament to the power of faith in action,” Andrew Walther, a co-author of the book, told CNA.

Readers will “get a sense of just how many things the Knights have affected in so many different ways for the betterment of communities large and small.”

The book includes hundreds of photos depicting the Catholic men’s organization and its work through the decades alongside a written history of the Knights of Columbus, whose membership now numbers close to 2 million Catholic men around the world.

Walther is vice president for communications and strategic planning at the Knights of Columbus. He co-authored the book with his wife Maureen Walther, a lifelong parishioner at the Connecticut parish where the fraternal order was founded in 1882.

Father Michael J. McGivney, parish priest of New Haven’s St. Mary’s Church, launched the organization to help counter the pressures that Catholic men and their families faced, including peer pressure to leave the faith. If a family’s male breadwinner died, the family tended to be split up by the state for economic reasons and sent to poor houses or to relatives. This prompted McGivney to incorporate an insurance agency into the fraternal order to support its members and their families, and to use any profits from insurance sales to advance Catholic and charitable causes.

McGivney saw the need for an organization designed “to help men grow in faith together” and “to help keep families unified even in the event of tragedy,” Walther said.

“There was a sense that Catholics were second-class citizens, which was an additional level of pressure on these men in their faith,” Walther continued.

“Father McGivney named the organization after Christopher Columbus to make the clear point that a good Catholic could also be a good American, Columbus being the one Catholic hero of American history in the late 19th century.”

The Walthers’ book takes the reader from the founding of the Knights through the present day.

“It’s the first new history of the Knights in decades and it’s the first illustrated history ever,” he said, adding that the photos “really bring these stories to life in a way that people will find inspiring.”

Walther said he was surprised by “the breadth and depth” of the Knights of Columbus in its nearly 150-year history.

From the level of the local council to projects of a global scale, the Knights of Columbus have long been involved in charity work and disaster relief. Knights rallied to support victims of the massive 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, and have aided victims of more recent disasters, like Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and Harvey.

They have also spoken up for the faith in public life. In the early 1900s the order protested anti-Catholic policies in Cuba and the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. Knights objected to a strict French secularism law passed in 1905.

In the 1920s the Knights of Columbus opposed the persecution of the Church in Mexico, where anti-clerical Mexican leaders had made strict laws to hamper the clergy.  Priests who were not discreet risked execution. The Knights had “a real impact” on the thinking of the U.S. government, the American people and global opinion, Walther said.

“The Knights of Columbus was an organization decades ahead of its time on the integration issue,” Walther noted. The organization had African-American members in the 19th century and was the only U.S. group to run racially integrated recreation and hospitality centers for soldiers in World War I.

Responding to the exclusion of African-Americans from American history, the Knights commissioned the African-American scholar and civil rights advocate W.E.B. DuBois to write the book “The Gift of Black Folk.”

“We wanted to make sure the contributions of African-Americans were not neglected in the story of the country,” Walther said. The order also commissioned books about Jewish and Hispanic Americans.

“You see the Knights of Columbus having a real impact that was transformative in a lot of ways, and groundbreaking in others,” he added.

In the 1920s, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan empowered its strongly anti-Catholic politics. The Knights worked “to stop the Klan from outlawing Catholic education in Oregon” and funded the court case that led to a Supreme Court victory against a state law that mandated that all children attend public schools.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the organization spoke out against Nazi attacks on Jews and Catholics. Before and during the Cold War, it objected to communist persecutions. The knights backed religious freedom efforts in Poland and gave assistance to Pope John Paul II’s work to promote human rights in communist eastern Europe.

More recently, the Knights have supported persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East, especially those threatened by the Islamic State group. The order was instrumental in an official U.S. declaration recognizing the persecution as genocide.

In researching the book, Walther said the co-authors rediscovered some prominent people in history whose membership in the Knights of Columbus had been forgotten. This included Jim Thorpe, the athlete and Olympic gold medalist of the early 20th century; John Myon Chang, one of the founding fathers of the modern state of South Korea; and Prime Minister of Canada Louis St. Laurent.

“These men were leading figures and joined the Knights out of their sense of the faith and also because the knights were a really important element in their country and in their communities,” Walther said.

Other prominent men who were well-known Knights of Columbus include Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Babe Ruth, U.S. President John F. Kennedy, National Football League champion coach Vince Lombardi, and poet and World War I soldier Joyce Kilmer.

Charitable figures of the Knights of Columbus are tallied together, representing thousands of local councils and 2 million men who “contribute in an incredible way at this local level that then generates this global impact.

Walther described local councils as “the backbone of the Knights of Columbus.” When Knights pioneered the first national blood drive, this was driven by action in the local councils.

Walther had praise for his co-author and wife Maureen, whose connections to New Haven meant the early history of the Knights was deeply interesting to her as a local.

“She’s just an amazing researcher,” he added. “She found incredible nuggets on so many different elements. She uncovered a lot of things that might otherwise have been missed in the annals of Knights of Columbus.”

“The Knights of Columbus: An Illustrated History” will be released on March 9, and is now available for preorder.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson has praised the book, saying it is “not simply a record of yesterday’s harvest, but also contains within it the seeds of a future filled with promise.”

 

Christ is hope for the Church and the world, Archbishop Perez says at installation

Philadelphia, Pa., Feb 18, 2020 / 04:48 pm (CNA).- The hope of Christ is far more profound than hope as the world defines it, Archbishop Nelson Perez said during his homily at his installation Mass as Archbishop of Philadelphia on Tuesday.

“Hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised, and its strength is in his faithfulness. That’s hope,” Perez said.

He said that he chose “Jesus: Hope for the World” as the theme of the celebration of his installation.

During a Feb. 18 Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, Archbishop Nelson Perez was installed as the 14th bishop and 10th archbishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, succeeding Archbishop Charles Chaput, who is retiring.

Besides Chaput and Perez, the Mass was attended by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, as well as Catholics, priests, and bishops from the area and from throughout the U.S., including from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, where Perez had served as auxiliary bishop, and the Diocese of Cleveland, where Perez most recently served as bishop.

For Perez, the appointment to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is a homecoming of sorts. While he was born in Florida and raised in New Jersey, Perez was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1989, and continued to serve there as a priest until 2012, when Benedict XVI appointed him as auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre.

“My brother priests, I’ve always said that once a Philly priest, always a Philly priest, and while I left ministerially, I didn’t leave humanly,” Perez said in his homily.

“Know that I love you, and I need your support. I can’t do this alone and I shouldn’t do this alone, because this is not about me, it’s about us,” he added.

After he addressed and thanked the other bishops and priests in attendance, as well as his family, the people of Cleveland, and city officials, among others, Perez focused on the theme “Jesus Christ: Hope for the World.”

“What is hope, and what does hope look like? We know what the definition of hope is like in a dictionary...a feeling of expectation, a desire for a certain thing to happen, that’s how the dictionary defines it,” he said.

The word “hope” is used often, which can lead Christians to forget its Christian definition, Perez added.

“We say I hope you have a good day, I hope it doesn’t rain...I hope the Phillies win the World Series, and the Eagles the Super Bowl next year right?” he said. “Sometimes hope is just wishful thinking. I hope that I will weigh 30 lbs less in a month - wishful thinking.”

But Christian hope is rooted in the resurrection of Christ, Perez said.

“Where is the source of hope? Not in us, not in the self-help section of the bookstore. The source of our hope is Christ, the same Christ who walked the planet, who rose from the dead,” he said.

“At the very core of our Christian faith is a basic reality, a truth,” he said. “Someone asked me, with everything going on in the Chruch and the world, do you have hope? And I said to this person: Listen, I gave my life to a faith that believes that a dead man rose from the dead. Yes, I have hope.”

“This is the foundation of our Christian faith, this hope, that no matter how dark it gets, no matter how much it appears that it is the end, it is not,” he added.

Perez said he wants to see the Church continue to be a sign of hope for all, especially those who have been hurt by the abuse scandals.

“Despite...the sad betrayal of some of our own, who have deeply hurt those they were called to serve, for which I and we are ever so deeply sorry to these victims, we continue to work with hope that we will make it right and be a source of healing for them,” he said.

Perez also invited everyone to renew their relationship with Christ, and invited those who have been away from the Church to come back.

“So wherever you find yourself on your journey...it is time to reach out and grab His hand, the Lord’s hands. Like the woman who hemorrhaged for such a long time, she had the conviction and hope that if she could just touch his garment (she would be healed),” he said.

In their remarks, both Perez and Pierre also thanked Archbishop Chaput for his years of service to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and to the other places where he served.

“Chaput faced lots of challenges when he got here, and he embraced them with great steadfastness … and he made decisions that sometimes a father has to make, that sometimes brought him great suffering and criticism,” Perez said.

Chaput is “a man of great faith, incredible faith, who proclaims the truth of the Gospel and our faith with courage, and the archdiocese owes this man an incredible debt of gratitude for who he was, is and will continue to be,” he added.

Pierre, who presented Perez with the official announcement of his installation signed by Pope Francis, also thanked Chaput for his “tireless promotion of the faith.”

He said that Chaput showed “courage and prudence” when confronted with handling the sex abuse crisis that had happened in the archdiocese when Chaput arrived.

“You ensured that the joyful message of the Gospel can continue to go forward,” Pierre added.

“I thank you for a lifetime of dedication and service, and I believe firmly you have earned a little rest.”

At the end of his homily, Perez said he does not have a “plan” for the archdiocese, beyond listening to its people and learning from them, but that he does have a vision, which he is taking from Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium.

“The Church which ‘goes forth’ is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first, and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast,” he said, quoting the exhortation.

The archbishop closed with his own quote, which he asked everyone present to remember: “Never underestimate the power of the Spirit of God working in you, through you, and despite you!”

Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 2/19




 

   
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Bishops and aid agencies praise coronavirus response

Washington D.C., Feb 18, 2020 / 02:41 pm (CNA).- American bishops and leaders of Catholic aid agencies have praised Vatican and U.S. responses to the coronavirus outbreak, and encouraged the faithful to stay informed about the disease.

“As communities and public health officials respond to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in China and closely monitor its presence and progression in other parts of the world, we join in solidarity and prayer for those impacted or working to treat those infected by the disease,” said a statement from Bishop David Malloy of Rockford (IL), Sean Callahan, president of Catholic Relief Services, and Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, president of the Catholic Health Association of the United States. 

Malloy is the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace. 

The three organizations “hope that governments will work together in partnership to improve all nations’ capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to this virus.”

“The Catholic Church in the United States stands in solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus and their families, health workers who are valiantly trying to diagnose and treat patients, and those under quarantine awaiting results of their screening for the virus,” said the statement. 

They offered both prayers for continued healing, as well as for support for various organizations that are working to contain the outbreak and treat those who are sickened. 

The statement highlighted efforts by both the United States and Vatican. 

Earlier this month, the Vatican sent 700,000 respiratory masks to China, and “Catholic healthcare providers are at the front line of providing treatment and care to those impacted by the virus.” 

The U.S. has transported more than 17 tons of medical supplies to China, something the bishops conference said “demonstrates the critical importance of the need to work together and to invest in crucial health care systems here and in other countries, thus preventing and responding to community-wide emergencies.”

“We urge the U.S. Congress to support these efforts by protecting access to domestic health care safety net programs and by providing additional emergency international assistance to areas impacted by the virus,” said the letter.

The faithful are encouraged to follow the Centers for Disease Control for up-to-date information about the coronavirus. 

China has so far reported approximately 2,000 deaths from coronavirus, although experts have speculated that the number could be far higher. 

The coronavirus has sparked a massive public health response in China and neighboring nations, including widespread quarantines. Catholic Masses have been canceled in Hong Kong and Singapore in an effort to prevent the faithful from contracting the disease. 

Retired Bishop Joseph Zhu Baoyu of Nanyang, who is 98 years old, recently became the oldest person in China to fully recover from the coronavirus. Zhu was diagnosed with COVID-19 pneumonia on February 3, and was declared free of infection on February 14. 

Zhu’s remarkable survival has resulted in mainstream media profiles in China.

Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 2/18

Image source: SheepShed



I'm sharing this version of Psalm 23 today
because it's beauty is always a shepherd for my soul,
as it is this morning...

Perhaps this psalm will bring you some peace today
or perhaps you'll pray it or share it with others you know
who need a shepherd's help to guide them
through a valley of shadows...

Let us pray...




The Lord is my shepherd,
Therefore can I lack nothing,
He shall feed me in a green pasture
And lead me forth beside the waters of comfort,

He shall convert my soul,
And bring me forth in the paths of righteousness,
For his name's sake,

Yea, though I walk through the
Valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
For thou art with me,
Thy rod and thy staff comfort me,

Thou shalt prepare a table before me
Against them that trouble me,
Thou hast anointed my head with oil,
And my cup shall be full,

But thy loving kindness and mercy
Shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell In the house of the Lord, forever.


  

    
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MONDAY MORNING OFFERING: 2/17


Coffee in the Morning by George Mendoza


Good morning, good God...

I have an armful of offerings 
to bring to you today, Lord...

I offer you the hearts of those I know
who rejoice this morning
with newfound peace and joy...

And I offer you the hearts of those I know
who struggle today to find you,
believe in you, trust and hope in you
in the midst of difficult times...

And I offer you the hearts of those I know
who are burdened with the pain
of sadness, loss and grief...

And I offer you the hearts of those I know
who are filled with discouragement
sadness, loneliness and distress...

And I offer you the hearts of those I know
who are troubled by fear and anxiety,
doubt and mistrust, unease and tension...

And I offer you the hearts of those I know
who live with sickness and pain
and pray for relief in mind and body...

And I offer you the hearts of those I know
who are confused and misdirected, 
troubled and distraught, 
unsettled and afraid...

And I offer you the hearts of those I know
who worry about others, who care for the sick,
who comfort the dying, who accompany those
whose journey is long and difficult...

All these hearts I offer to you, Lord,
and place in your safe keeping,
in your merciful and healing hands,
in the refuge of your own loving heart...

Bring your kindness and peace, Lord,
your consoling, healing presence, 
and the gifts of your Spirit
to those whose hearts I lift up today,
an offering to you
from whom all blessings flow...

Amen.


 
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Homily for February 16

Image source

Homily for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass


 
To what ever you choose, stretch forth your hand…
That was Sirach’s advice to us in today’s first scripture.
To what ever you choose, stretch forth your hand…

• So, TO WHAT do you and I stretch forth our hands?
What do we reach out for?
What do we try to grasp? What do we grabfor?
What do we try to get a grip on? get hold of?  glom on to?

• This “stretching forth our hands,” this “reaching out for,”
is a basic human gesture.
We see it in infants who early on
begin to reach out for what’s in front of them,
infants who reach out for us to pick them up,
to hold and embrace them, to feed and protect them.

• Just yesterday morning I celebrated a beautiful baptism,
a baby boy, Benjamin Francis.
Benjamin didn’t know where he was or what as happening to him
but there he was in his baptismal outfit  --  reaching out!

• And once we begin stretching forth our hands
reaching out as infants  --  we never stop.
Even if illness or age keeps us from physically stretching forth our hands,
our hearts and minds reach out all the time for what we want,
what we desire and what we choose.

Sirachraises the stakes here when he writes that God sets before us: 
 “good and evil, life and death…”
- and that we’re called to reach for
good over evil   --   life over death.

• Those are pretty heavy categories to contend with!
And sometimes, we do actually face off with “good and evil,”
sometimes we have to make real “life or death decisions.”
But more often,  we face smaller challenges
- but even these fall under the headings of good and evil
and ultimately lead us in the direction of life - or death.

• I’m talking about the kind of challenges you and I meet
day in and day out,
the almost daily choices we make
between telling the truth and lying,
between begin greedy and generous,
between playing fair and cutting corners,
between good, wholesome thoughts and lusty fantasies,
between foolishness and wisdom,
between honesty and fraud,
between welcoming others in or shutting others out,
between being faithful or unfaithful to one’s partner,
between healthy entertainment and junk food for the mind,
between speaking a cruel  word or speaking a kind word,
between gossiping and minding my own business,
between laziness and using the talents God gave me,
between wasting time and spending my time well…

• And those are just someof the many choices
that fall under the categories of good and evil,  of life and death.
When faced with these options, or let’s be more particular:
when you and I were faced with these very options
in just the past week,
to which did we “stretch forth our hands”?   what did we reach for?

• Not every choice or decision is a “life or death” option.
But everything we think and say and  do    does fall somewhere
along the spectrum between what’s right and what’s wrong.

• Everything we think and say and do leads us, ultimately,
to either a greater life and a deeper love of God and neighbor
or to a lesser life that weakens and drains our potential
for goodness, for greatness,
for becoming the persons God made and called each of us to be.

• And it’s very easy, isn’t it - oh, so easy! -
for any of us to point to choices and decisions that others make,
and to criticize their making what we deem to be
bad decisions and poor choices.

• But the scriptures today call us to look at ourselves first:
to see if we possess, if we exercise what St. Paul calls wisdom.
a wisdom he deemed keener than that of his own times
and deeper than that of our own times, some 2,000 years later.

• This is the wisdom that bids us seek the truth
and to live by the truth once we find it.

• The wisdom of a studied and well-formed conscience.

• The wisdom of those with courage enough
to speak up and act when the truth demands it
and to hold our tongue when silence is called for.

• This is the wisdom of common sense,
a wisdom that survives the ages
even when common sense is periodically
twisted by the fads and trends of the day.

• This is the wisdom that counsels us, as Jesus does,
to say, Yes when we mean Yes
]and to say No when we mean No.

• The wisdom we need
to be honest, loyal, and faithful to the truth
in what we feel and say - as well as in what we do.

• This is the wisdom we find sadly absent in today’s daily news…


• This is the wisdom keen enough to understand
that we fail in our hearts long before we fail in our deeds.

• The wisdom which, when we follow its counsel,
brings us the deepest satisfaction and joy
- no matter how hard it was to make the wise choice.

• This is the wisdom that nourishes and nurtures us
every time we come to this table
to receive Jesus, Jesus who is the Wisdom of God,
Jesus who laid down his life for us on the Cross
and who offers his life for us, again, here
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.

• We are invited here at the altar to feast on wisdom
to nourish us and help us make good choices, the right choices.

• We act wisely when we choose good over evil,
truth over lies, the genuine over the counterfeit,
the selfless over the selfish, life over death.
Any time we make less than a wise choice,
we make a foolish choice.

• So pray with me that you and I will stretch forth our hands,
to reach for that goodness that serves God and neighbor,
that we reach out for anything and everything
that deepens our life in God
who is our greatest, our only, our one, true Wisdom.









  
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