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‘No sacrifice too great’ for pro-life cause, says March leader


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The polar vortex couldn’t chill the ardor of thousands of participants who demonstrated their determination to continue speaking out against abortion at the annual March for Life and rally Jan. 22 in Washington.

Temperatures went briefly into double digits but hovered around 8 degrees.

Youth from St. John Cantius Catholic Church in Chicago drum and sing on Pennsylvania Avenue as they make their way toward the Supreme Court building during the March for Life in Washington Jan. 22. Bitter cold and snow did not stop tens of thousands of people from marching against abortion on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

At the rally, speakers highlighted the tenacious determination of the crowd, dressed in coats, scarves, hats and gloves, huddled together on the snow-covered National Mall. They likened the crowd’s bravery to the firm resolve they have shown in their efforts to change abortion laws and promote a culture of life in the U.S.

The rally began at noon, prior to the crowd’s march to the U.S. Supreme Court to protest the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, and it had a different feel this year, not simply because of the cold but in the variety of speakers.

Only three members of Congress addressed the crowd, instead of several, although a handful stood on the mall’s stage. No Catholic leaders addressed the crowd either, but Catholic bishops joined Orthodox leaders for the rally’s opening prayer given by Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios.

Among the Catholic prelates spotted on the stage were Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, chairman of the bishops’ pro-life committee; Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl and Auxiliary Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Washington; Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore; and Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla.

Under a blue and sunny sky, Christian singer and songwriter Matt Maher attempted to warm up the crowd while playing a guitar with fingerless gloves. “We’re all really cold,” he acknowledged, adding that the reason they had gathered was to “demonstrate to the world how much we need God.”

Patrick Kelly, chairman of the March for Life, told the crowd filled with young people that they were “freezing for the best cause in the world.” Jeanne Monahan, March for Life president, thanked the crowd for “braving the extreme elements today.”

“No sacrifice is too great for this cause,” she added.

A few times during the hourlong rally, she also advised participants suffering in the cold to visit one of the first-aid warming tents.

Kelly and Monahan stressed a new aspect of this year’s march: tweeting about it with the hashtag #marchforlife or #whywemarch. Marchers cheered as Monahan read a tweet from Pope Francis: “I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable.”She urged the crowd to retweet his message.

The theme of this year’s march was “Adoption: A Noble Decision.”

“When a woman makes a choice to be a birth mother, she embraces motherhood in its most heroic sense,” said Monahan, who also offered support for women who have not chosen life in the past. “For any woman who has had an abortion, you have to know there is hope and healing.”

In his remarks, Kelly noted that the March for Life has a new staff, logo and website and also aims to have a vital social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The goal, he said, is not just for participants to be here once a year but to be in touch with one another “365 days a year to build culture of life in America.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said the marchers’ endurance not only gives “voice to the cause of protecting life” but also shows that they are the “strongest weapon” of the pro-life movement. He said he was confident pro-lifers would win the culture war, because the right to life “is a moral truth written at the hands of our Creator.”

Last year, the House passed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and Cantor cited it as an example of changing public opinion on abortion. He exhorted the rally-goers to continue the battle. “We cannot allow the opponents of life to weaken the moral fabric of this country.”

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., criticized President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act “for its insurance plans that include abortion,” but he also stressed that “the pro-life movement is alive and well and making serious, significant and sustained progress.”

“In the last three years alone, a record 200 pro-life laws have been enacted in the states,” he noted. “By the grace of God, and because of you, your prayers and hard work — we are winning.”

He also echoed a theme of the day, telling youths in the crowd: “Never quit or grow discouraged, your generation will end abortion.”

The Rev. James Dobson, an evangelical Christian leader and founder of Focus on the Family, said, “Young people, you are the future of the pro-life movement. We will win this fight.”

Rep. Vicki Hartzler, R-Mo., encouraged leaders to support alternatives to abortion. “Or society must stop upholding abortion and start encouraging adoption.”

That message resonated with Nicole Peck, regional coordinator of Silent No More.

Speaking about her abortion, Peck said, “They took my money, my baby, and my self-respect.” She even lost her opportunity to experience childbirth: “I would never conceive another child.”

Nicole and her husband later adopted two children. “Their mothers are our heroes.”

Many of the freezing marchers had traveled for days to get to Washington.

Jennifer Camilleri, a freshman at Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio, came with hundreds of students from her university. She said that she believed that the Holy Spirit was working through people to encourage them to support life.

Monica Stephens, a 17-year-old student from Grinnell, Kan., in the Salina Diocese, came with her parish ministry group. When asked why she came, Stephens told Catholic News Service: “You have to stand up to help the babies. Apparently, it won’t happen by itself.”

Katie Friess, a recent college graduate from Hoxie, Kan., in the same diocese, said that it is “really important to be here because this is our chance to show the world we are pro-life.”

Jennifer Grant, a senior at Georgia Tech, said that “it is important for youth to be here to show that this matters to us, despite snow and freezing conditions.”

Grant and her classmates drove for 12 hours to attend the march. They dressed as pro-life superheroes, donning yellow tutus and hats.

Katie Talalas also contributed to this story.




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‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ — songs from an anti-life antihero

January 23rd, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,


Catholic News Service

The trials and tribulations of a 1960s folk singer are chronicled in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” a dark comedy-drama set amidst the moody music scene of New York City’s Greenwich Village in the early years of that turbulent decade.

Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan star in a scene from the movie “Inside Llewyn Davis.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. CNS/CBS Films

Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, who directed and wrote the screenplay, were inspired by the life of genre legend Dave Van Ronk (1936-2002). Aesthetically, the product of the siblings’ collaboration is an absorbing, atmospheric odyssey with hummable music.

Regrettably, however, their script is chock-full of filthy dialogue and, worse still, freighted with misguided values concerning the sacredness of human life and the gift of sexuality.

It’s 1961, and Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is down on his luck. His musical partner has committed suicide, leaving Llewyn professionally adrift, struggling to find a new niche as a solo act. He has cut the eponymous album, the title of which mimics that of Van Ronk’s seminal 1964 recording, “Inside Dave Van Ronk,” but it’s going nowhere.

Winter has set in, and Llewyn, without money or even a warm coat, is on the streets. As he searches for gigs, he relies for shelter on the kindness of his pals all over Manhattan, his ex-girlfriend, Jean (Carey Mulligan), among them.

Jean is in love with her musical partner, Jim (Justin Timberlake), but she’s carrying Llewyn’s baby. Jean wants out, as does Llewyn, so he arranges for her to have an abortion.

We learn that Llewyn has made such arrangements before for other girlfriends. He is staggered to discover, however, that one of them did not go through with the destruction of her baby after all. Consequently, he has a 2-year-old child out there, somewhere.

While this brief pro-life moment is refreshing, the revelation does not appear to change Llewyn’s self-absorbed ways, nor does it convince him to persuade Jean to change her mind.

Llewyn’s edgy musical style is out of step with the more popular, clean-cut folk singers. So he decides on a change of venue.

With an orange tabby cat as his new best friend, Llewyn bums a ride to Chicago with two dodgy characters: Johnny Five (Garrett Hedlund), a beat poet, and Roland Turner (John Goodman), a jazz musician and heroin addict.

Neither the Windy City nor his newfound companions turn out to be what Llewyn was hoping for, though, and he soon finds himself back in his original down-and-out situation. To the strings of the ballad “Fare Thee Well,” our antihero must choose between a bleak future in music or a mundane job with a steady paycheck.

For all but one of his offspring, by contrast, there is no future to worry about.

The film contains a benign view of abortion, promiscuity and contraception, drug use, pervasive crude language and some sexual banter. The Catholic News Service classification is O, morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R, restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.


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‘August: Osage County’ hot, bothered and vicious

January 23rd, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,


Catholic News Service

Somewhere Norman Rockwell must be spinning in his grave.

Chris Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch star in a scene from the movie “August: Osage County.” The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. CNS/Weinstein

The artist, known for his beloved paintings of traditional American life. including images of happy families gathered around the dinner table. would be horrified at the dysfunctional goings-on in “August: Osage County.”

The unspeakable antics of the relatives at the heart of this grim film, all of whom excel at being unhappy, would not be out of place on “The Jerry Springer Show.”

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts (who also wrote the film’s screenplay) and directed by John Wells, “August: Osage County” is a brutal assault on the senses as, one by one, each family member rises and falls. Here, the ties that bind are more like nooses around various necks, and reconciliation takes a back seat to retribution.

As Violet, the cancer-stricken matriarch of the Weston clan, Meryl Streep chews up the scenery with profanity-laced tirades fueled by a steady diet of alcohol, cigarettes and pills. She is vicious and manipulative, a bewigged spider drawing not-so-innocent victims into her tangled web.

The movie’s title sets the and place (northern Oklahoma). Violet summons a family gathering after her long-suffering husband Beverly (Sam Shepard) disappears. Soon the rambling homestead fills with kin, including her nosy sister, Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale).

Violet’s three daughters also assemble, and we learn about their many woes. Long-suffering Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) has never left home and is fed up serving as her mother’s primary caregiver. She’s secretly in love with shy Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch), her first cousin, he.s Mattie Fae’s son,and they plan on running off together.

The flighty Karen (Juliette Lewis) arrives from Florida with her pot-smoking fiance Steve (Dermot Mulroney), a smooth talker who has been married thrice before.

And then there’s Barbara (Julia Roberts), Daddy’s favorite and Mommy’s nemesis, who moved away to Colorado with her husband Bill (Ewan McGregor), and teenage daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin). Turns out, Barbara’s marriage is on the rocks, and her 14-year-old is a mess, smoking dope and fooling around with sleazy Steve.

No sooner has the tribe gathered than Beverly is found at the bottom of a nearby lake, a suicide. His death forces long-suppressed emotions and secrets to the surface, and the post-funeral family dinner is a nightmare of accusations and assaults: “truth-telling,” as Violet calls it.

To elaborate further would spoil the twists and turns of the story. A happy ending for this depressing lot is most unlikely, and a whole lot of good food, as well as people, wind up on the dining room floor.

Viewers will sympathize with Barbara when she declares, “Thank God we can’t tell the future, or we would never get out of bed.”

The film contains a relentlessly negative portrayal of family life, drug use, pervasive profane and crude language and some sexual talk. The Catholic News Service classification is O, morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.


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Ireland plans to reopen embassy to Vatican


Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin welcomed an Irish government decision to reopen a Vatican Embassy just over three years after closing it.

Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore announced Jan. 21 that Ireland was preparing to open a scaled-back embassy but gave no date for the reopening.

Gilmore came under sharp criticism in November 2011 when he announced that the embassy would close and a diplomat based in Dublin would represent Ireland at the Vatican.

At the time, the government said the closure was a cost-saving move, a claim rejected by opposition politicians who accused Gilmore of wanting to downgrade relations with the Vatican amid tensions about the church’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse against priests.

The Vatican had no immediate response to the announcement.

Archbishop Martin said that reopening the embassy, although on a smaller scale, was “a very constructive exercise.”

The archbishop, who previously served as a Vatican diplomat, said Pope Francis, from the outset of his pontificate, “has dedicated himself to being a strong voice for fighting poverty.”

The Vatican remains an important place of interchange on questions of global development, Archbishop Martin said, adding that a resident Irish ambassador will enhance relations between the Vatican and Ireland.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the new mission would be “a scaled-back, one-person embassy with a focus on international development.”

Gilmore said the embassy will “enable Ireland to engage directly with the leadership of Pope Francis on the issues of poverty eradication, hunger and human rights.”

Brendan Smith, spokesman for the opposition Fianna Fail party on foreign affairs, welcomed the move. “The reasons given for closing the embassy in the first instance were completely bogus and it was a mistake,” he said.

“At the time, we pointed out the diplomatic value of having representation at the Holy See and the networking influence it gave us,” he said. “But the Labor Party knew best and pressed ahead with their populist agenda.”

Questions remain about where the diplomatic offices will be housed because the former embassy on Rome’s Janiculum Hill now serves as Ireland’s Italian Embassy.


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Cardinal O’Malley says ‘choice,’ ‘reproduction rights’ rhetoric hides brutality of abortion


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Supporters of legal abortion are like the emperor from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” said Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston.

Young people pray during the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 21.The all-night vigil is held before the annual March for Life, which this year marked the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the nation.

The “vain and proud king” gullibly believed the swindlers who “told the king that those who could not see the (‘magic’) cloth were stupid and unfit for office,” said Cardinal O’Malley, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

“The king was quite deceived and paraded through the street of his capital to receive the ovations of his people. The crowds lined the streets and applauded when the king passed by. The crowd shouted compliments and congratulated the king on his magnificent clothing. Suddenly a little child shouted, ‘But he has nothing on at all,’” Cardinal O’Malley said.

“’The king’s new clothes’ today are called reproduction rights, termination of pregnancy, choice, and many other subterfuges that disguise the reality and the brutality that is abortion,” he added. “The voice of the church is like the child who declares before the world that the new clothes are a lie, a humbug, a deception. The church with the candor of a child must call out the uncomfortable truth. Abortion is wrong. Thou shall not kill.”

Cardinal O’Malley made his remarks in the homily of the Jan. 21 Mass opening the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The cardinal said he has been to every vigil since they started 35 years ago.

“When the value of life is compromised or diminished, all life is at risk,” he said. “Human rights, without the right to life, are the king’s new clothes; it’s a fraud, an exercise in self-deception.”

Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), “laments the fact that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “The good news is that God never gives up on us. He never tires of loving us. He never tires of forgiving us, never tires of giving us another chance. The pro-life movement needs to be the merciful face of God to women facing a difficult pregnancy. Being judgmental or condemnatory is not part of the gospel of life.”

Pregnant women considering an abortion feel “overwhelmed, alone, afraid, confused,” he added. Referencing the Gospel reading of the Mass, the cardinal added, “We must never allow that woman to perceive the pro-life movement as a bunch of angry self-righteous Pharisees with stones in their hands, looking down on her and judging her. We want the woman to experience the merciful love of Christ.”

Shrine staff had the task of clearing snow from sidewalks and roadways, not to mention the dozens of icy steps leading to the upper church where the Mass was celebrated.

While organizers have come to expect 10,000 each year for the National Prayer Vigil for Life, the numbers may have been down somewhat. Buses weren’t parked along streets leading to the shrine as they customarily have. Looking from the shrine’s choir loft, the side aisles did not seem as crammed with people as they typically do, and the occasional pew had room for one person, although it may have been taken up by coats or backpacks.

Bad weather in the Midwest and East, snow followed by diving temperatures, may have kept some away. It kept at least two prelates away — Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, where there was a record high snowfall of more than 13 inches for Jan. 21. Archbishop Chaput had been scheduled to be the main celebrant and homilist at the Jan. 22 Mass closing the vigil.

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Wilmington that had scheduled buses to take students to March for Life activities in Washington, including the morning Mass Youth Rally at the Verizon Center, also canceled their trips due to the snowstorm.

Those who did make it to Washington had an easier time traffic-wise as the capital and its surrounding suburbs were virtually shut down for the day, with governments and schools closed in anticipation of snow, which ranged from 3 to 9 nine inches depending on the location.

One young woman who said she was from Miami had but a modest jacket, thin cotton gloves and no hat. She said she hoped her group would stop by a drugstore before hunkering down in a Baltimore church to buy some hand-warming packets.


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Winter wonderland keeps students home another day

January 22nd, 2014 Posted in Our Diocese Tags: ,


Scenes such as this at Rodney and Cedar streets outside St. Elizabeth School in Wilmington have resulted in another snow day for schools in the diocese. Photo courtesy of St. Elizabeth School.


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Obituary: Wilmington native Father Michael McDermott, 65




Father Michael McDermott, a retired priest of the Diocese of Wilmington, died Jan. 21. He was 65.

Father McDermott was born in Wilmington to Miles and Marguerite McDermott. He attended St. Paul School before beginning studies for the priesthood at St. Mary’s High School in St. Mary’s, Ky. He continued his education at St. Bonaventure University and its seminary in western New York before completing seminary studies at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, N.Y. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 3, 1975, at Church of the Holy Child in Brandywine Hundred. Read more »

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Obama will visit Pope Francis in March

January 21st, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama at the Vatican March 27, the White House announced and the Vatican confirmed.

The spring meeting would be Obama’s second visit to the Vatican as president, but his first with Pope Francis, who was elected March 13, 2013.

The White House said the Vatican visit would be part of a presidential trip to the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.

“The president looks forward to discussing with Pope Francis their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality,” said the Jan. 21 White House statement.

During the same trip, Obama will participate in a summit in the Netherlands on nuclear security, visit the presidents of the European Council and the European Commission in Brussels, and hold talks in Rome with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met his Vatican counterpart, Cardinal-designate Pietro Parolin, at the Vatican Jan. 14, he told reporters, “I know that the Holy Father is anticipating the visit of President Obama here, and the president is looking forward to coming here to meet with him.”

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters that Cardinal-designate Parolin and Kerry had discussed, among other subjects, “themes that have been the object of concern and discussion by the U.S. bishops,” particularly “the health care reform and its relationship to guarantees of religious freedom,” an apparent reference to the contraception mandate that has proven a major point of tension between the Obama administration and the church.

In general, employers who provide health insurance to workers were required as of Jan. 1 to comply with a government mandate that those policies include various types of contraceptives, including sterilization and abortifacients. The penalty for noncompliance is potentially thousands of dollars daily in fines. Although the Obama administration has made some allowances for exemptions for religious institutions, when final rules were issued in June, some Catholic employers said the exception still did not address their moral objections.

Obama met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in July 2009. The pope gave the president a signed, leather-bound copy of his encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” (“Charity in Truth”), and a copy of the 2008 instruction “Dignitas Personae” (“The Dignity of a Person”) on bioethics issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


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Sals battle Philadelphia hoops power, fall, 62-61


For The Dialog


BRANDYWINE HUNDRED — Salesianum’s basketball team faced Constitution High of Philadelphia on Monday afternoon at the Concord Classic, and the two teams left the spectators in the packed gymnasium something to talk about. In the end, Constitution, ranked 89th in the country by Max Preps, held on for a 62-61 win in a back-and-forth contest.

Constitution jumped out to a 16-6 lead after one quarter, ending the period on an eight-point run. Kimar Williams hit two three-pointers in the first on his way to a 15-point night. The Sals chipped away at their deficit in the second quarter as junior Donte DiVincenzo scored 11 of his game-high 27 points in that stanza. Salesianum also converted eight of nine free throws in the quarter, including three of three from senior Brian O’Neill. The halftime score was 29-27 in favor of Constitution. Read more »

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Pope’s morning homily: Be open to Gospel and God’s surprises

January 20th, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,


Vatican Radio — Speaking during his Jan. 20 homily at morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said we must always be ready to welcome the message of the Gospel and the surprises that God has in store for us.

God’s word is alive and full of strength, it discerns the sentiments of the heart, but we must be open to receive it. Speaking to those present for morning Mass in the Vatican, the pope highlighted the need to really welcome the message of the Gospel with an attitude of docility and openness.

Pope Francis (CNS/Reuters)

The Gospel, Pope Francis said, doesn’t just tell us the things we want to hear. It is alive and strong and full of novelty; God’s Word, he continued, is “free” and full of surprises because “our God is the God of surprises, the God of the Revelation.”

And urging us to be malleable and docile, he said we must ask ourselves whether we adapt ourselves to the novelties of the Gospel? Or do we process the message until it becomes something different to what God wants it to be?

And Francis reflected on the first reading of the day in which the prophet Samuel reprimands King Saul for not obeying the voice of the Lord and for attempting to justify his disobedience by masking his greed with generosity. The pope said it is important is to have a docile and obedient heart, listening to the voice of the Lord and doing what he commands us to do so that in obeying him, we share in his life and love. And this, he continued, leads us to reflect on the true meaning of Christian “freedom” and of Christian “obedience”, both of which, he said, are to be found in the Word of God and in the courage to really be open to his message.




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