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Abortions from 2008 to 2011 decline 13 percent, lowest rate since 1973


WASHINGTON — Weeks after the national March for Life rally in Washington, the Guttmacher Institute reported a 13 percent drop in national abortion rates from 2008 to 2011 — making for the lowest rate since 1973 when abortion on demand was legalized in the U.S.

Shanya McCleary of St. Mary Parish in East Islip, N.Y., smiles as she and fellow pro-life advocates walk from Union Station to participate in the March for Life in Washington Jan. 22. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

However, “no evidence was found” of a correlation between the declining rate and new abortion restrictions set between 2008 and 2011, said the study released Feb. 3.

Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, stated that the study “shows the long-term efforts of the right-to-life movement,” even though Guttmacher gave no credit to groups against abortion.

Legislative efforts and pro-life campaigns “should not be minimized when discussing the decline in abortion numbers,” Tobias said in an NRLC news article.

The study reported 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 in 2011, totaling almost 1.1 million abortions that year. The peak was in 1981 with nearly 30 abortions per 1,000 women, according to The Associated Press.

Guttmacher wrote that “more effective contraceptive methods” may have contributed to the decline in unintended pregnancies, thus causing a decline in abortions.

“Contraceptive use improved during this period, as more women and couples were using highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptive methods,” Rachel Jones, an author of the study, told the AP.

Jones said the recent recession may have also contributed to the decline in pregnancy rates, as more women wanted to “avoid or delay pregnancy and child bearing” in tough economic times.

The student also showed a 4 percent drop in the number of abortion providers, but that had no effect on the decline in abortion rate, Jones said.

Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, said the authors of the study “conceded the fact that there was no data” to confirm a direct link between legislation and abortion decline, implying there was no way to trace such evidence.

“They have decent data that’s not 100 percent accurate, and they say that in the (study),” Monahan told Catholic News Service.

Despite this, March for Life and other organizations need data from the Guttmacher Institute to track measurement, she said, because there are no official government reports that have the same data.

Though pro-life organizations see positive signs in Guttmacher’s study, Monahan said there’s more to do.

“Obviously, we’’re delighted,” she said of the decline. “It’s great news for women and (the) babies … but the statistic ‘1.1 million’ is still so sad.”

Though the annual March for Life rally on the National Mall has come and gone — it was Jan. 22 — Monahan encouraged pro-life supporters on the March for Life organization’s blog to “make an impact all year-round in our communities, be it through starting a group, writing an op-ed, joining a school board or health board, or praying in front of an abortion clinic.”

Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, issued a statement Feb. 4 in response to the study and NRLC’s article.

“A decline in abortion, for whatever reason, leads us closer to our goal of protecting children in the womb by law,” he said. “The fewer abortions there are, the more legislators will consider it realistic to change public policy on the matter, and the more judges will consider it prudent to uphold such changes.”

In a Feb. 10 commentary posted on the website of the Witherspoon Institute, Richard M. Doerflinger, associate director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, noted various inconsistencies in the study by Guttmacher, which he said is described as a “pro-abortion-rights” think tank. He said Guttmacher’s “spin overwhelms its reporting.”

In one example, the study mentions there were 49 fewer abortion clinics from 2008 to 2011 and said that accounted for a 4 percent drop in the number of abortion providers. But Doerflinger said he did his own calculation of the study’s numbers and the number of abortion clinics dropped from 378 to 329 in that time period, which is a decline of … 13 percent,” the same as the decline in the number of abortions, he noted.

“The significance of this figure … is underscored by Guttmacher’s apparent effort to hide it,” he wrote.

Furthermore, he said, each abortion clinic performs up to 5,000 each year, so closing just one clinic could still have “a significant impact” on overall abortion decline.

“In short, pro-life Americans should rejoice at the good news, and redouble their efforts to help pregnant women and their unborn children,” Doerflinger wrote. “Notwithstanding the spin doctors of the abortion industry, we are seeing some light at the end of that long dark tunnel.”

— By Navar Watson


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Burning issue: Polish cardinal defends publication of Blessed John Paul’s notebooks


Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland — The former personal secretary of Blessed Pope John Paul II has approved the publication of the late pontiff’s private notebooks, despite a request in his will that they should be burned.

A man looks at a copy of “I Am Very Much in God’s Hands” at a bookstore in Warsaw, Poland, Feb. 5. Blessed Pope John Paul II’s former personal secretary called the collection of notes a great testimony to the “spirituality of a great pope.” (CNS photo/Kacper Pempel, Reuters)

“In writing his will, the Holy Father knew he was entrusting these notebooks to someone who would treat them responsibly,” said Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, who not only served as the pope’s personal secretary throughout his almost 27-year pontificate, but was his secretary in Krakow, had been a student of then-Father Karol Wojtyla in the seminary and was ordained to the priesthood by him in 1963.

“I had no doubt these were such important items, testifying to the spirituality of a great pope, that it would be a crime to destroy them,” Cardinal Dziwisz told a Jan. 22 news conference in the southern Polish city to announce the release of the notebooks by the local Znak publishing house.

However, the planned Feb. 5 publication of the notebooks has been widely criticized in Poland as an act of disloyalty toward the late pope, who said in his will, published at his death in April 2005, that he counted on his secretary to ensure his wishes were observed after his “years of cooperation and help, full of understanding.”

An expert on the Catholic Church’s communist-era role, Father Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, urged Poles to boycott Znak and said publication of the notebooks would be “very hurtful” in “consciously violating the pope’s will.”

“In European culture, a final will is always binding, as long as its realization isn’t against the law and morality; this is required not just by legal statutes and good manners, but also by respect for the dead,” the priest told Poland’s TVN television.

“This public act of disobedience is a form of anti-witness and can’t be justified by any explanation that it’s for the good of the church. Does a clergyman serving as a secretary know better than St. Peter’s successor?” he asked.

In a statement, Znak said Cardinal Dziwisz had acted “out of respect for John Paul II” in not destroying the “two simple notebooks,” covering the years 1962-2003, which contained the pope’s “most important personal questions.”

It added that the 640-page book, “I Am Very Much in God’s Hands,” would reveal Blessed John Paul’s “care for his dearest friends and collaborators, and the church entrusted to him,” and allow readers to “know Karol Wojtyla’s weaknesses,” and “accompany the pope at moments of his greatest closeness to God.” The former pope will be canonized April 27 at the Vatican.

Znak’s director, Henryk Wozniakowski, described the notebooks as “a publisher’s dream,” adding that Znak was ready to collaborate with “all the biggest world publishing houses” on foreign-language editions.

However, a Catholic Polish Radio commentator called the publication “no more than a marketing ploy.”

“The pope left a great deal behind him, illuminating his views and beliefs in every area, and these notebooks merely confirm what we already know,” the commentator, Malgorzata Glabisz-Pniewska, told Catholic News Service Jan. 27.

“Having given so much of himself to the world, John Paul II had a right to keep something private. He taught us the good of the individual, however interesting to others, must always take priority over the good of society,” she said.

Cardinal Dziwisz, 74, said in the foreword to the new book that he had “faithfully followed the Holy Father’s will” after his death by “distributing all his possessions, particularly his personal mementos.”

However, he added that he had not “had the courage to burn the notebooks” because they “contained important information about his life” and provided “the key to his spirituality.”

Speaking at the January news conference, Cardinal Dziwisz said he would use his share of profits from the book to complete a 13,000 square-foot complex being built at a cost of $ 40 million in memory of Blessed John Paul in Krakow. The complex will include a basilica housing blood and other relics from the pope.

He added that burning the pontiff’s notebooks would have been comparable to destroying the wartime letters and notebooks of Pope Pius XII, which many historians and researchers had since “deeply regretted.”

The former secretary -general of Poland’s bishops’ conference, Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, told Catholic News Service Jan. 27 that he believed the pope had “not left an unambiguous instruction” to burn the notebooks, adding that Blessed John Paul would have agreed to their publication if they were judged “creative and useful to others.”

The editor of Krakow’s Catholic Tygodnik Powszechny weekly, Piotr Mucharski, told CNS he believed criticisms would die down when readers saw the value of the book.


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Chinese Catholics begin new year by honoring ancestors


CHICAGO — Outside the wooden doors of St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church in Chicago, the piercing crackle of hundreds of firecrackers ushered in the lunar new year.

Fathers CheLong Bai and RunBao Zhang pass out red envelopes following Mass Feb. 2 at St. Therese Chinese Church in Chicago’s Chinatown as part of a kick-off of the Chinese lunar new year. A red envelope is a monetary or other gift given during holidays or special occasions. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)

Then a bright red lion moved up and down the aisles in the church, dancing to the staccato pulse of drums and cymbals. After the lion’s performance, elementary school girls twirled around holding big paper fans in a dance in front of the altar. Then the Mass started.

Reading in Chinese from two big scrolls hanging on either side of the altar draped in festive red cloth with a golden dragon and festooned with yellow chrysanthemums, Father Francis Li proclaimed in his homily: “Whoever reveres one’s parents prolongs one’s life. Whoever obeys the Lord brings comfort to one’s parents.”

“Parents are important,” said Father Li, pastor at St. Therese. “Children are important. Life is important in our Catholic culture and faith. This is true for the Chinese culture, too.”

For the past two decades, St. Therese has combined elements of the Chinese new year with elements of Catholicism during the first Sunday Mass after the new year begins.

In an interview with Catholic News Service, Father Li highlighted some of the major points.

In the Chinese new year “there is an expectation for new things to happen, for better things to happen, for good things to happen,” Father Li said. “In that sense … that’s what our celebrations of Christmas and Easter are about. We celebrate the new life in God.”

He also said being with family was an essential part of the new year custom. This also includes those who came before.

After Communion, there was a solemn tribute to venerate ancestors. Three big sticks of incense burned at a table set before the altar. Offerings of oranges, traditional new year rice cake, rice wine and flowers surrounded the incense.

According to the program, the incense is a “symbol of our voices raised in prayer to proclaim our gratitude and love for God.” The fruit is offered in recognition of being the fruit of one’s ancestors’ love and of one’s children being the fruits of their love, while the rice cake symbolized “how God satisfies our hunger for him in life.”

At a lectern, longtime St. Therese parishioner John Lin read an introduction to the veneration.

He read, “We are not worshipping idols. We are reminding ourselves in this ceremony that we are the beneficiaries of the good deeds (of) our ancestors and we should continue their tasks by following Christ’s teachings. And pass it along to our future generations.”

Lin said that explaining this distinction was necessary because it wasn’t until the early 1930s, that the Vatican accepted this practice among Chinese Catholics.

“The missionaries came to China and saw people using incense, like today, doing this ancestral veneration. So for people that do not understand the culture they would take this as worshipping idols,” said Lin. “But in actual fact there’s a lot more to that because in Chinese culture it is very important to pay respects to your elders, whether they’re living or deceased. And so that is the interesting part … that concept is exactly the same as the Catholic communion of saints.”

The Mass concelebrants bowed three times before the incense to pay their respects. Then they invited the congregation made up of different races and ethnicities such as Italian, Indonesian and Hispanic and some non-Catholics to also bow thrice in honor of their ancestors.

Sister Muriel Cameron, a Religious of the Sacred Heart, called the Mass “beautiful.”

“I come from a part of the United States in the south where there is very much veneration of ancestors,” Sister Cameron said. “Family heritage is very important. … It’s a precious belief and as Christians we see it even more profoundly. And I like the idea that we honor the faith and the culture and the life that is already in people and see Christ in that.”

Sharon Wong led the planning of the celebration. The 35-year-old said that the even smallest details, such as the decorations, and Catholic elements were integrated into Chinese tradition.

“I think it’s a very great opportunity … for parishioners, especially Chinese to have something to promote our culture,” said Wong.

— By Simone Orendain


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Auks’ girls win fifth straight with upset of No. 4 St. Elizabeth


For The Dialog


WILMINGTON — Senior Katelyn Payne scored eight of Archmere’s 10 points in overtime, including a pair of clutch free throws with five seconds left to lead the unranked Auks to a 45-42 win at No. 4 St. Elizabeth on Tuesday night at the St. E Center. It was the Auks’ fifth win in a row and ended St. Elizabeth’s four-game winning streak.

The teams were close all night, with the biggest lead, five points, coming in overtime when Archmere went up, 40-35. Read more »

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‘Open Your Heart to Christ’ in Annual Catholic Appeal


For The Dialog


Christine Smith has her pride as well as her needs.

“I don’t come unless I need help,” she said in a low voice recently at the Seton Center in Princess Anne, Md. “Sometimes you get low on food.”

When Smith does need assistance, she is not afraid to call upon the staff of Seton Center, an arm of Catholic Charities.

“I feel comfortable here. They treat you good here,” she said. “They treat you like a family member.”

Smith’s encounter with Seton Center staff provides a nutshell view of what the Annual Catholic Appeal is all about. This year’s theme is “Open Your Heart to Christ,” based on John 9:1-41. Catholics who open their hearts to Christ and donate to the Appeal enable the staff at Seton Center to open their hearts and services to those in need. Read more »

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Thieves confess, but relic of Blessed John Paul II still missing

January 30th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Less than a week after a relic of Blessed John Paul II disappeared from a country chapel east of Rome, Italian police arrested two men for the theft, but the venerated piece of fabric stained with the late pope’s blood was still missing.

A broken glass of a display case where the reliquary with the blood of Blessed John Pail II was located is seen next to a painting of the late pontiff in the church of San Pietro della Ienca, near the city of L’Aquila, Italy, Jan. 28. (CNS/Reuters)

Italian media reported Jan. 30 that police had found an empty iron reliquary, along with a stolen cross, buried on the grounds of a drug treatment facility in the city of L’Aquila, about 75 miles east of Rome. Two men in their early 20s, who were being questioned in connection with another crime, confessed they had stolen the objects and then revealed their location to police.

But the men said they had discarded the relic itself, reportedly a piece of the clothing Blessed John Paul was wearing when he was shot May 13, 1981, by throwing it into some bushes near the facility. Members of Italy’s specialized scientific police were searching the grounds.

The relic and the cross were first reported missing from the church of San Pietro della Ienca over the weekend of Jan. 25-26. The church, where Blessed John Paul often prayed, is located 13 miles north of L’Aquila, in the mountainous Abruzzo region where the late pope frequently went on brief vacations.

Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, who served as Blessed John Paul’s personal secretary during his pontificate, gave the relic to the chapel in recognition of the late pope’s many visits.


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Backgrounder: Two types of HHS mandate cases are at different points in legal process


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is involved in two types of issues related to claims by employers who say they should not have to provide coverage of contraceptives in their workers’ health insurance plans because this violates the employers’ faith-based moral objections.

The headquarters of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is seen in Washington in this file photo. CNS

Both matters revolve around requirements in the Affordable Care Act that employer-provided health insurance include coverage of contraceptives, sterilizations and other types of birth control opponents say can induce an abortion.

The law, the main provisions of which took effect Jan. 1, includes rules that allow an exemption for some religious employers that fit certain criteria. Other nonprofit, faith-based institutions that are not exempted because they don’t fit the criteria have the option of signing a waiver, which the government calls an accommodation and directs a third party to provide to their employees the contraceptive coverage they find objectionable.

Some religious institutions, including the Catholic Health Association, have accepted the exemption and waiver options. CHA in July said it would help its member organizations comply with the accommodation. Others say the provisions don’t adequately protect religious rights and have sued the federal government.

The Becket Fund, a religious liberty law firm that represents many of the plaintiffs who have sued the federal government over the mandate, counts 91 lawsuits representing about 300 plaintiffs. Half are by for-profit employers, half by nonprofits.

Because the final rules for how the health care law applies to nonprofits weren’t released until June 28, legal challenges by nonprofit entities are many months behind the lawsuits filed on behalf of for-profit employers, who are not covered by any of the exemption options.

While many of the nonprofit suits — such as that by the Little Sisters of the Poor — have been through the federal courts for an initial ruling about whether the employers must comply with the mandate while the legal cases proceed, none has yet worked its way through lower courts to the point of appeal to the Supreme Court on the merits of the challenges.

Thus, in the first cases to reach the Supreme Court on the nuts-and-bolts of the legal challenges, on March 25 the court will consider the claims of two for-profit employers who say they should not be required to provide coverage to which the owners have moral objections.

Those cases, brought by Hobby Lobby Stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, challenge the contraceptive insurance mandate on behalf of owners who say it infringes on their religious rights to have to provide coverage that they believe is immoral. Both companies are privately held and family owned.

At issue in both cases will be First Amendment arguments that the contraceptive mandate violates the owners’ Free Exercise rights as well as their rights under a 1993 law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, the Green family won a ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said their chain of more than 500 arts-and-crafts stores and Mardel, a chain of 35 Christian bookstores, could proceed with seeking an injunction protecting the companies from meeting parts of the contraceptive mandate issued by the Department of Health and Human Services as part of the health care law.

The Christian family that owns Hobby Lobby does not object to covering contraceptives for its employees. It already does that; they object to being required to cover birth control drugs that are considered abortifacients.

The second case, Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius, is an appeal by the Hahn family, the Mennonite owners, of a 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that they had to comply with the contraceptive coverage requirement. The circuit court ruled that as a for-profit, secular corporation, Conestoga Wood and its owners are not protected by the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment.

As of Jan. 28, dozens of entities with an interest in the outcome of the cases had filed “amicus,” or friend-of-the-court, briefs raising various legal arguments. Those included the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and another by a group of 67 Catholic theologians and ethicists.

The legal claims being made by the Little Sisters of the Poor echo many of the First Amendment legal arguments raised in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cases.

But they were not what the Supreme Court court addressed in its Jan. 24 action to continue an injunction. That three-sentence order issued by the court as a whole continued an emergency injunction granted Dec. 31 by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The order addressed only the issue of whether the Little Sisters must submit required paperwork to qualify for an exemption from the contraceptive mandate. Their co-plaintiffs are Christian Brothers Services and Christian Brothers Benefits Trust, which manages the religious order’s benefits.

The Supreme Court’s order said the federal government is enjoined from enforcing the provisions being challenged, pending final resolution of the case in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The sisters’ challenge to the mandate itself now goes back to the 10th Circuit.

The Supreme Court’s action means that until the 10th Circuit rules, the employers in the case need only inform HHS in writing that they are “nonprofit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services.”

The Supreme Court’s order said specifically it was not addressing the merits of the case itself, only the injunction issue.

The Becket Fund, which represents the Little Sisters of the Poor in their lawsuit and plaintiffs in other suits, describes the Little Sisters case as a class action representing more than 400 Catholic institutions whose benefits are managed by the Christian Brothers. A class action must, however, be affirmed as such by a court.

Legal analyst Lyle Denniston, writing for the SCOTUSblog, a blog on the Supreme Court, said Jan. 27 that lower courts have not approved the lawsuit as a class action, and that was not addressed by the Supreme Court. He noted that the Justice Department, which is defending the federal government, has said it would not object if other employers sought similar injunctive relief.


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Happy Feast of St. Francis de Sales

January 24th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:


“Do not fear what may happen tomorrow.

Photo of a mural of St. Francis de Sales in St. Sigismuch Church in Strobl, Salzburg, Vienna. Photo taken by Wolfgang Sauber, used with permission from Wikimedia Commons.

The same loving Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and everyday.

Either he will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”

— St. Francis de Sales

Today, January 24,  is the feast of St. Francis de Sales, Patron of the Diocese of Wilmington, and patron saint of journalists.

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Mount Aviat students honor school’s patron saint

January 23rd, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized


Staff reporter


CHILDS, Md. – The namesake of Mount Aviat School is a saint, and “we can pray for her intercession and guidance,” Oblate Sister Joseph Margaret Kimura told the 250 students at a service Jan. 13 marking the 100th anniversary of the French nun’s death.

The legacy of St. Leonie Aviat is physical and spiritual, said Oblate Sister Audrey Frances Moran. She established an order of sisters who educate students all over the world, including at Mount Aviat. The Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales also minister in parishes, such as St. Paul’s in Delaware City, and at DeSales University, and that is just in this area. Spiritually, she was an example of personal holiness, Sister Audrey said, “a beacon of hope for our world.

“And so her spirit lives on in her daughters,” she continued, and those who come into contact with them. Read more »

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Pope says Internet is a ‘gift from God,’ should be used for solidarity

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


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Like the good Samaritan, who stopped on the road to help a person in need, travelers along today’s communication highways should offer support to those they encounter there, Pope Francis said.

“The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people,” he said in his message for World Communications Day.

“The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people,” Pope Francis says in his message for World Communications Day. (CNS photo illustration/Lisa Johnston/St. Louis Review)

Modern means of communication, especially the Internet, offer “immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity,” he said. Because of that, he said, the Internet is “a gift from God.”

“Communication at the service of an authentic culture of encounter” is the theme of this year’s World Communications Day, which most dioceses will mark June 1, the Sunday before Pentecost. The message, released Jan. 23, was dated Jan. 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of journalists.

“Good communication helps us grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately to grow in unity,” the pope said.

“The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another,” he said. “A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive.”

Good communicators must take the time necessary to listen to others and, more than just tolerate, truly accept them, he said.

“Engaging in dialogue does not mean renouncing our own ideas and traditions, but the claim that they alone are valid or absolute,” the pope said in his message.

Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told reporters that the pope is not proposing “a relativism” of the faith, but is continuing his predecessors’ calls for the church to engage with a multi-cultural and multi-religious world.

“I can’t have an outlook of being the only one and the absolute,” Archbishop Celli said. “I am just a concrete incarnation of that truth that is Jesus Christ and his Gospel,” which people live out in myriad ways in different cultures and traditions across the world.

Pope Francis, in his message, quoted Pope Benedict XVI’s 2013 World Communications Day text, which says effective Christian witness is “about our willingness to be available to others ‘by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence,’” not by “bombarding people with religious messages.”

Pope Francis said genuinely paying attention to others’ experiences helps one appreciate the various gifts and richness in other cultures and traditions.

A culture of encounter, listening and dialogue will help everyone see and “appreciate more fully the important values inspired by Christianity, such as the vision of the human person, the nature of marriage and the family, the proper distinction between the religious and the political spheres, the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity and many others,” he said.

Though there are drawbacks and risks with an accelerated and sometimes isolating means of communication, “they do not justify rejecting social media,” he said.

Technology should serve humanity, helping it “grow in humanity and mutual understanding.”

The pope called for an attitude of “neighborliness” in communication, to promote closeness and community.

The good Samaritan is a model for how to approach and interact with others on today’s digital highways, taking responsibility for the hurt and lost there, the pope said.

“Whenever communication is primarily aimed at promoting consumption or manipulating others, we are dealing with a form of violent aggression like that suffered by the man in the parable,” beaten by robbers and abandoned on the road,’ he said.

“There is a danger that certain media so condition our responses that we fail to see our real neighbor,” the pope said. Information overload or overexposure to injustices like poverty can make us “so accustomed to these things that they no longer unsettle us.”

Good communicators bring beauty, goodness and truth to people, something no snappy or sophisticated media strategy can do, he said.

“Let our communication be a balm which relieves pain and a fine wine which gladdens hearts,” the pope said.

“May the light we bring to others not be the result of cosmetics or special effects, but rather of our being loving and merciful ‘neighbors’ to those wounded and left of the side of the road.”

Pope Francis said impartiality in the media is an illusion, since only by going out into the world and taking the risk of being truly and transparently oneself can communicators become a trusted and “true point of reference.”

“Personal engagement is the basis of the trustworthiness of a communicator,” he said.

The pope said he prefers “a bruised church which goes out to the streets” and helps people encounter Christ to “a church suffering from self-absorption,” with its doors and digital spaces closed to outsiders.

“We are called to show that the church is the home of all,” he said, where people, “whatever their situation in life, can enter.”

The text of the pope’s World Communications Day message in English is available online at: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/messages/communications/documents/papa-francesco_20140124_messaggio-comunicazioni-sociali_en.html


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