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Anticipation is high but information is slow for those organizing bus trips to pope’s Mass in Philly Sept. 27

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Staff reporter

The excitement in the Diocese of Wilmington of those planning bus trips to attend the public Mass that Pope Francis will celebrate in Philadelphia on Sept. 27 is building, but a lack of details from organizers is proving frustrating.

Up to 1.5 million people are expected to fill the Benjamin Franklin Parkway that Sunday afternoon, but the city of Philadelphia, the World Meeting of Families and the Secret Service have yet to release details about several key issues that concern folks who will attend, according to Barbara Willis of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of the Diocese of Wilmington. Her group is sponsoring three buses that will depart from Salesianum School in Wilmington. Read more »

Teacher at St. Peter’s School in New Castle leaves classroom for principal’s office

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Staff reporter

NEW CASTLE – Mark Zitz has moved from the classroom to the principal’s office at St. Peter the Apostle School, where he envisions using his business and teaching experience to increase enrollment and continue the academic excellence at the New Castle school.

Mark Zitz is the new principal at St. Peter the Apostle School in New Castle. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Mark Zitz is the new principal at St. Peter the Apostle School in New Castle. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Zitz, 55, has been a teacher at St. Peter the Apostle for five years. He said his familiarity with the students and families will serve the school well as they won’t need to spend time getting to know each other, and with a faculty he knows, he can turn his attention to issues like enrollment, which is down a bit from last year.

“All Catholic schools face a hurdle in marketing because there are so many options for parents that don’t cost money,” Zitz said in late July. “We have to make a compelling case why Catholic education is the best option.

“That is my focus.”

Read more »

Commentary: When baby parts are worth more than the baby

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The problem is the child.

When you cut through the tortured logic Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards employs to defend the primacy of privacy over the natural law, what you are left with, unfortunately for the nation’s abortion Goliath, is the child. Read more »

Pope-pularity contest? Gallup poll finds Francis’ ‘favorability’ is down

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Is the honeymoon with Pope Francis over for Americans?

A new Gallup poll shows that the favorability rating for the pontiff among U.S. respondents is now about 59 percent, down from 76 percent in early 2014 and close to the 58 percent rating Americans gave him when he was elected pope in March 2013. Read more »

A ‘specious little argument’ or a ‘Lamborghini’? — New video of Planned Parenthood official discussing abortion

July 23rd, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized

By

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Amid an outcry from members of the GOP demanding answers to questions raised by a video of a Planned Parenthood physician talking about preserving fetal organs and tissue for researchers for a fee, a second video emerged July 21 of a different physician from the organization talking about the same topic. Read more »

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Undercover video of Planned Parenthood doctor prompts calls for investigation

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SAN FRANCISCO — A video released July 14 appears to show a top Planned Parenthood official discussing the sale of parts of aborted babies for research, including discussing ways the abortion procedure can be altered to preserve specifically requested body parts.

The nearly nine-minute edited video, filmed undercover and produced by the Center for Medical Progress, went viral and Planned Parenthood denied making a profit on the sale of aborted baby parts.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., speaks at a July news conference on Capitol Hill calling for an investigation into Planned Parenthood. (CNS photo/courtesy U.S. House Office of Photography

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., speaks at a July news conference on Capitol Hill calling for an investigation into Planned Parenthood. (CNS photo/courtesy U.S. House Office of Photography

“Planned Parenthood’s criminal conspiracy to make money off of aborted baby parts reaches to the very highest levels of their organization,” said David Daleiden, who led the undercover investigation.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal launched an investigation in his state, where the abortion provider is getting ready to open a $4 million clinic in New Orleans.

“Today’s video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing the systematic harvesting and trafficking of human body parts is shocking and gruesome,” said Jindal, who is a Republican presidential candidate.

In the video released July 14, a woman identified as Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Medical Services Department, says: “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

The video was shot at a business lunch in the Los Angeles area July 25, 2014, with actors posing as buyers from a human biologics company, according to the nonprofit Center for Medical Progress.

The center describes itself as a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances and in particular “contemporary bioethical issues that impact human dignity.”

In the video, Nucatola says specific body parts go for $30 to $100 and fetal livers are in high demand.

As head of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Services Department, Nucatola has overseen medical practice at of the federation’s locations since 2009. She also trains new Planned Parenthood abortion doctors and performs abortions herself at Planned Parenthood in Los Angeles on women who are up to 24 weeks pregnant, according to Center for Medical Progress.

Planned Parenthood acknowledged it sometimes charges for aborted fetuses’ body parts used for research. However, Erin Ferrero, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of communications, said in a statement: “There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or Planned Parenthood.”

Ferrero questioned the credibility of the video, calling it “heavily edited,” and said the money mentioned is for actual costs such as transportation costs.

The video of Nucatola is part of the “Human Capital” project, a 30-month undercover investigation by the center and also supported by Life Legal Defense Foundation, a Napa, California-based nonprofit group that advocates for pro-life issues through the law and education.

The Center for Medical Progress plans to publish more videos and said it also will post a “Human Capital” web series detailing Planned Parenthood’s alleged commercial exploitation of aborted fetal tissue.

Full footage of the Planned Parenthood official’s conversation and a 60-page transcript were available on the centerformedicalprogress.org website. The website also holds documents related to harvesting of aborted baby parts.

“This public revelation about Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in human body parts obtained as a byproduct of abortion is long overdue,” said Vicki Evans, respect life coordinator for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Her 2010 report on the fetal tissue industry, titled “Commercial Markets Created by Abortion: Profiting from the Fetal Distribution Chain” was published in the National Catholic Bioethics Center newsletter “Ethics &Medics.”

An undercover investigation of a Planned Parenthood affiliate conducted by Life Dynamics Inc. in 2000 resulted in similar findings, Evans said. Congressional hearings to investigate trafficking in fetal organs and tissue by private companies were held but nothing was done, Evans said.

“I hope this time, there is enough public outrage to finally stop the abortion giant from continuing to exploit women and their unborn children to increase its obscene profits,” Evans told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper.

In Washington, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, and two other House members were holding an afternoon news conference July 15 calling for a hearing and further investigation into the evidence presented in the Nucatola video.

Americans United for Life in a July 14 statement called for immediate congressional and state investigations into “abortion profiteering.”

Under the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984, the revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of 1987 and the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993, human fetal tissue or organs cannot legally be bought and sold in the U.S., said Evans. Money can change hands only to reimburse for expenses incurred.

In the July 14 undercover video, Nucatola says that the abortion procedure can be altered if the abortionist knows in advance what body part is desired by the buyer, saying extraction of the baby can be changed to breech to get more of the body intact for use by researchers.

“What she’s describing is a partial-birth abortion,” said Katie Short, Life Legal Defense Fund’s vice president for legal affairs. “She’s basically confessing to something illegal.”

The July 14 report renewed calls for an end to the more than $500 million in state and federal funds that Planned Parenthood receives annually.

“Why should the government fund an organization that is so corrupt as to be selling the brains, livers, eyes, legs and other body parts of the babies it kills, not to mention being corrupt enough to kill them in the first place,” said Father Frank Pavone, Priests for Life national director.

“The dehumanization of unborn children leads to the dehumanization of those who perform abortions, leading from killing living human beings to treating them explicitly as commodities,” he said.

— By Valerie Schmalz

 

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Viewpoint: Supreme Court does not decide what is or is not a sacrament

By

Catholic News Service

An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2010 added acts of violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to the list of federal hate crimes.

President Barack Obama signed it into law on Oct. 28, 2009. It was the first major piece of federal legislation in support of the rights of homosexuals and, when passed, was compared with the passage of 1960s civil rights legislation that empowered countless African-Americans.

In the Catholic understanding, bride (female) and groom (male) confer that sacrament of matrimony on one another; the priest or deacon is simply the official witness. (CNS)

In the Catholic understanding, bride (female) and groom (male) confer that sacrament of matrimony on one another; the priest or deacon is simply the official witness. (CNS)

This law acknowledged the dignity of people regardless of their sexual orientation and, as such, was a development to be welcomed by anyone committed to the principles of justice and human dignity.

News of the passage of that legislation in 2009 triggered expressions of hope from gay-rights activists that same-sex marriage would, sooner rather than later, be legally permissible anywhere in the United States. That day arrived with a decision of the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015.

Legal recognition of same-sex unions, and calling those unions “marriage,” was promoted as an anti-discrimination issue, but it consistently drew opposition from the Catholic community that sees not discrimination but defense of marriage — a sacramental union between a man and a woman — as the issue.

In the Catholic understanding, bride (female) and groom (male) confer that sacrament on one another; the priest or deacon is simply the official witness. There is no room for a same-sex union in the Catholic understanding of marriage. Defending this position is now, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, an enormous challenge for the church.

Catholic opposition to same-sex marriage will be more persuasive to the extent that it is explained by spokespeople who are unambiguous in their support of protection by the state of the rights of homosexuals in the matter of hate crimes, workplace discrimination, military service and similar situations.

The Catholic commitment to justice should also support partners in a same-sex union having, as a spouse would have and as the Supreme Court has now mandated, inheritance rights and access to a partner’s hospital bedside in times of illness.

Permitting partners in a same-sex union to have adoption rights is another matter. Here, Catholic opposition should be grounded in sound theory and solid data, evidence that the arrangement would not be good for children. It should rest on discretionary, not discriminatory, grounds and in no way impugn the dignity of any homosexual person.

The church has the ongoing challenge of defending its distinction between homosexual orientation (morally neutral) and homosexual behavior (morally impermissible). Pastoral explanation of this distinction remains a challenge for the church, which is not to say that it cannot be met.

Marriage, in the eyes of the church, is a sacrament. If the separation of church and state means anything, it certainly means that the state is not free to decide what is and what is not a sacrament, even though the state and other civic jurisdictions do, without objection from the church, issue what are called marriage licenses.

Now that the state has decided to approve and protect same-sex unions, the church can insist that the state has no right to call these unions “marriage,” but it is more difficult now than ever to make that case.

The long-standing acceptance of marriage licenses issued by the state poses a difficulty for the church in making that argument.

Without yielding any moral ground, however, the church could, if necessary, accept a two-tier system, common in other countries, of having Catholics appear before a civil authority in a civil ceremony to be followed by a church ceremony where the sacrament is conferred.

Other religions may, if they wish, welcome partners in a civilly recognized same-sex union to a subsequent religious ceremony of commitment.

Some denominations will surely do that. The Catholic Church will not. Its refusal to do so must be respected as an expression of commitment to sacramental marriage, not a condemnation of those with other views.

Jesuit Father Byron is university professor of business and society at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Email: wbyron@sju.edu.

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Under new system, Vatican budgets show previously unreported assets

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Under new reporting procedures that are more in line with international accounting standards, the Holy See reported $1 billion in net assets that had never been reported before and in a consolidated form.

The Vatican's figures for 2014 also showed a continued budget deficit on the part of the Roman Curia and nearly double the profits brought in by entities falling under the separate Vatican City State budget. (CNS file)

The Vatican’s figures for 2014 also showed a continued budget deficit on the part of the Roman Curia and nearly double the profits brought in by entities falling under the separate Vatican City State budget. (CNS file)

The Vatican’s final figures for 2014 also showed a continued budget deficit on the part of the Roman Curia and nearly double the profits brought in by entities falling under the separate Vatican City State budget.

In fact, the profits coming from the Vatican Museums, “cultural activities” and investments offset the deficit in the consolidated budgets of the Roman Curia and Vatican communications outlets to help the Vatican end the year 37.9 million euros ($41.3 million) in the black.

The Council for the Economy presented the financial statements July 14, and they were published July 16. The statements were prepared by the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, the Vatican’s budget management office. The statements were “reviewed and verified” by the Secretariat for the Economy, headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell, as well as by a brand new auditing committee of lay experts and an external auditor.

The 2014 budget reports were the first financial statements to follow sweeping new procedures begun under new rules that went into effect March 1, governing the guidance, oversight and control of Vatican financial and administrative activities, and codifying the mission of the council and secretariat for the economy.

The summarized statement released by the Vatican press office July 16 offered much of the same kind of information included in past statements released each year, as the transition to the new procedures is still a “step-by-step” work in progress, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters.

However, the one new figure released publicly was all the net assets of the Holy See. Totaling 939 million euros, the amount represents money that had never been included before in the Vatican’s old system of budgeting and reporting.

In an interview in December, Cardinal Pell said the new budgeting and reporting procedures had meant the secretariat discovered “some hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away in particular sectional accounts and did not appear on the balance sheet.”

Father Lombardi explained to reporters the next day that the money did not represent “illegal, illicit or badly managed funds,” just assets being held in numerous administrative offices that were not considered part of the main institutions of the Curia.

For 2014, however, all departments, bodies and foundations of the Holy See were required to report all assets, which totaled 1.1 billion euros, and liabilities, which totaled 222 million euros.

The budget of the Holy See, which is made up of 64 entities, ended 2014 with a deficit of more than 25.6 million euros.

The new reporting and budgeting practices made it difficult to compare figures with past years, the Vatican statement said.

In fact, it said if the new practices had been applied to the 2013 fiscal year, the budget deficit for the Holy See would have much higher — 37.2 million euros, rather than the 24.4 million euros that had been reported. The reduced deficient for 2014, it said, was “largely due to favorable movements in investments held by the Holy See.”

Other sources of income included contributions from dioceses around the world, which gave 21 million euro in 2014, down from 22 million the previous year. The Vatican bank, which donates profits from its investments to the pope to support works of charity and mission around the world, contributed 50 million euros, like past years.

The largest single item in the Holy See budget was personnel. The number of employees stayed relatively the same at 2,880 with total personnel costs being 126.6 million euros, an increase of more than 1 million euros from 2013.

The Vatican City State budget, which includes the income-generating Vatican Museums and Vatican stamp and coin office, ended 2014 with a profit of more than 63.5 million euros, nearly double the previous year’s surplus of 33 million euros.

No personnel costs were given in the summarized report of the 1,930 total staff members who come under the Vatican City State budget.

Budget forecasts, with anticipated revenues and expenditures for the coming year, for the 136 entities under the council and secretariat’s watch suggest “the deficits experienced in recent years are likely to continue in 2015,” the Vatican statement said.

“While rapid progress is being made in implementing reforms requested by the Holy Father, the complete transition” to international accounting standards “is likely to take several years. The 2015 budgets and the 2015 statements are the first important steps.”

“From 2015, the consolidated statements for the Holy See will include the new practices and additional entities, as required under the new financial management policies” in place at the Vatican and according to worldwide standards, it said.

 

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Pope Francis to activists: Demand economic reform, say no to exclusion and inequality

By

Catholic News Service

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia — Meeting with an international gathering of grassroots activists, Pope Francis not only encouraged, but tried to add fuel to their fire for “standing up to an idolatrous (economic) system which excludes, debases and kills.”

Addressing the World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz July 9, Pope Francis acknowledged he did not have a recipe for a perfect economic-social-political system, but he said the problems with the current system are obvious and the Gospel contains principles that can help.

Pope Francis speaks at the second World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, July 9. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis speaks at the second World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, July 9. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The activists — including labor union representatives and people who organize cooperatives for the poor who make a meager living recycling trash or farming small plots or fishing — combat “many forms of exclusion and injustice,” the pope said.

“Yet there is an invisible thread joining every one of those forms of exclusion,” the pope said. They all are the result of a global economic system that “has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature.”

The current global finance system is “intolerable,” he said. “Farmworkers find it intolerable, laborers find it intolerable, communities find it intolerable, peoples find it intolerable. The earth itself — our sister, Mother Earth, as St. Francis would say — also finds it intolerable.”

At the meeting, sponsored by the Vatican and organized with the help of Bolivian President Evo Morales, Pope Francis shared the sense of urgency shown by participants, who adopted a long statement of commitments promising to mobilize in the defense of the rights of the poor and of the Earth.

“Time, my brothers and sisters, seems to be running out; we are not yet tearing one another apart, but we are tearing apart our common home,” the earth, he said.

“Perhaps the most important” task facing the world today, the pope said, “is to defend Mother Earth. Our common home is being pillaged, laid waste and harmed with impunity. Cowardice in defending it is a grave sin.”

“Today, the scientific community realizes what the poor have long told us: Harm, perhaps irreversible harm, is being done to the ecosystem,” Pope Francis said. “The earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished” by the effects of pollution, exploitation and climate change.

“And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called ‘the dung of the devil,’ an unfettered pursuit of money,” the pope said.

When money becomes a person’s god, he said, greed becomes the chief motivator of what people do, permit or support. In the end, he said, “it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.”

In a talk that had harsh words for those who exploit the poor or destroy the environment, Pope Francis also very formally spoke to the indigenous people present about the Catholic Church’s cooperation with the Spanish and Portuguese who settled much of the Americas.

“I say this to you with regret: Many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God,” the pope said. “Here I wish to be quite clear, as was St. John Paul II: I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.”

At the same time, Pope Francis asked the meeting participants to recognize that many Catholics — priests, nuns and laity — willingly gave their lives in service to the continent’s peoples.

Most people, including the poor participating in the Santa Cruz meeting, he said, wonder how they can make a difference in the face of such huge problems and an economic system that seems to shrug off any effort at accountability.

The pope urged participants to look to Mary, “a humble girl from small town lost on the fringes of a great empire, a homeless mother who turned an animals’ stable into a home for Jesus with just a few swaddling clothes and much tenderness.”

The pope and the Catholic Church do not have a program or recipe for solving the problems of injustice and poverty in the world, he said. But it is clear that the economy should be “at the service of peoples. Human beings and nature must not be at the service of money.”

“Let us say ‘no’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than service. That economy kills. That economy excludes. That economy destroys Mother Earth,” he said.

The change the popular movements are working for and the inspiration for Catholic social justice efforts cannot be an ideology, he said; it must be about people.

A person with a heart, the pope said, is moved not by cold statistics, but by “the pain of a suffering humanity, our own pain, our own flesh.”

Pope Francis said the goal must be the creation of “a truly communitarian economy, one might say an economy of Christian inspiration.” Its hallmarks are respect for human dignity, guaranteeing a right to land, housing and work, but also access to education, health care, culture, communications and recreation.

“It is an economy where human beings, in harmony with nature, structure the entire system of production and distribution in such a way that the abilities and needs of each individual find suitable expression in social life,” he said.

Such an economy is not a dream, he said. The people, the talent and the resources exist.

In working toward a new economy, Pope Francis called the popular movements “social poets,” people who are “creators of work, builders of housing and producers of food, above all for people left behind by the world market.”

One does not need to be rich or powerful to impact the future of humanity, he said. The future “is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize.”

Pope Francis told the community activists, “I am with you. Let us together say from the heart: no family without lodging, no rural worker without land, no laborer without rights, no people without sovereignty, no individual without dignity, no child without childhood, no young person without a future, no elderly person without a venerable old age.”

At the end of his 55-minute speech, Pope Francis made his customary request that his audience pray for him, but knowing that many of the meeting participants are not believers, he asked those who cannot pray to “think well of me and send me good vibes.”

 

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Eucharistic sharing is call to mission, to feeding the poor, Pope Francis says in Bolivia

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Catholic News Service

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia — The Eucharist is a missionary sacrament; it calls people to give all they are and have to God, seek his blessing and then take his love to the world, Pope Francis said at the opening Mass for Bolivia’s national eucharistic congress.

Obeying Jesus’ command to “do this in memory of me,” he said, “demands exchange, encounter and a genuine solidarity.” Read more »

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