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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Monthly Archives: January 2014
Tuesday

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 28, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News)—About 10 percent of those who took perpetual religious vows in the United States in 2013 said that educational debt delayed their application to religious orders or institutes, a new survey says.

The findings come in the annual report of Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, summarized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Vowed religious had a median educational debt of $30,000 when they first applied to join their religious institute. Among the 10 percent of respondents whose debt delayed their application to an institute, their average delay was two years.

The study surveyed men and women religious who professed perpetual vows in 2013. The survey received a response from 460 of 823 major superiors, who referred them to 107 women and men.

The professed religious who responded to the survey numbered 69 sisters and nuns and 11 brothers.

No religious brothers said they received assistance in paying down their debt. Several women religious reported assistance from family members, friends, or co-workers. Some reported assistance from their religious institute, their parish, or organizations such as the Labouré Society, the Serra Fund for Vocations, the Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations, or the Knights of Columbus.

Almost 90 percent of responding religious institutes had no professions of perpetual religious vows in 2013. About 10 percent reported one such profession, whereas 3 percent reported two or more.

In 2013 the average age of religious profession was 41. The youngest was 26 years old and the oldest was 73.

About 74 percent of respondents identified as white, 14 percent identified as Asian, and 12 percent identified as Hispanic.

More than 75 percent were born in the United States. The second-most common country of origin was Vietnam. Sixty-seven percent of Hispanic respondents were born in the United States.

Foreign-born respondents were 22 years old on average when they first came to the United States, and they lived in the states for 17 years before making perpetual vows.

About 82 percent of respondents were Catholic since infancy and almost as many had parents who were both Catholic. The 18 percent of converts converted at an average age of 22. They were more likely to have attended a Catholic high school and much more likely to have attended a Catholic college than the general Catholic population.

About half of respondents participated in youth ministry or a youth group, and about 33 percent participated in college campus ministry. Respondents were active in faith-formation or social-service ministry, and 10 percent taught in a Catholic school or served in hospital or prison ministry.

Almost all had a regular private prayer life, and 70 percent participated in eucharistic adoration. More than 50 percent regularly prayed the rosary or participated in spiritual direction.

Almost all took part in a vocation program or vocation retreat before entering their religious institute.

Click to learn more about Redemptorist vocations and vocation retreats.

Thursday

Live video: four Redemptorists are ordained priests

Thursday

By Adelaide Mena

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 23, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News)–Catholics in the pro-life movement must “evangelize with beauty and with joy” as they seek to offer compassionate aid to women facing difficult pregnancies, said Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston.

“People think Catholics are the ‘people of no,’” the cardinal said, but “in reality, we are the people of ‘yes’: yes to God, yes to life, yes to compassion with the poor and the suffering, yes to solidarity that makes us messengers of joy even in the valley of tears.”

Thousands of pilgrims from across the country packed the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., on the evening of January 21.

They gathered to attend Mass on the eve of the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions, which legalized abortion throughout the United States.

After the Mass the National Prayer Vigil for Life took place throughout the night with the rosary, confessions, and time for prayer, ending with a closing Mass the next morning. Those attending were then able to participate in the March for Life in downtown Washington, from the National Mall to the Supreme Court building.

Cardinal O’Malley, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, was the principal celebrant and homilist at the January 21 Mass. Assisting him were more than 500 seminarians, 300 priests, and 30 bishops.

“The Gospel of Life is the center of the Church’s social teaching,” Cardinal O’Malley said in his homily, explaining that “this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of every other kind of human life.”

Without protecting the right to life for all, the United States’ notion of defending human rights lacks a solid foundation, he said. Neglecting the most vulnerable members of society opens a “Pandora’s box that unleashes every kind of injustice and violation.”

This dismissive attitude toward human life, he continued, “jeopardizes the very meaning of democratic coexistence. Rather than societies of people living together, we risk becoming societies of people who are rejected, marginalized, uprooted, and oppressed.”

Therefore, when “the Church raises the cry ‘choose life,’ we are performing a prophetic service to all of society.”

However, he also stressed the importance of love and mercy in proclaiming this message to those in difficult situations.

“The pro-life movement needs to be the merciful face of God to women who are facing a difficult pregnancy,” he said, adding that “being judgmental or condemnatory is not part of the Gospel of Life.”

Pointing to the day’s Gospel reading, the cardinal remarked that like the woman caught in adultery, many women facing difficult pregnancies must similarly feel “overwhelmed, unloved, afraid, and confused.”

Although the Pharisees wanted to stone the woman to death, Jesus defended her, reminding them that they too were sinful. He offered hope to the woman and encouraged her to embrace a new life.

In a similar way, Cardinal O’Malley said, the pro-life movement “has to be about saving mothers” and extending mercy, love, and understanding to women facing difficult situations.

“We can rescue unborn babies from abortion by rescuing their mothers from a life of hopelessness,” he said. This must begin with a “focus on the woman to try to understand what she is suffering.”

From there, he continued, the Gospel of Life leads us to pursue economic justice and a “new start” for all people.

“The antidote to abortion is solidarity, community where people are willing to care for each other and for the most vulnerable.”

When this happens, “more solutions present themselves” to help women facing difficult pregnancies, the cardinal said, giving the example of adoption, which was the theme of this year’s March for Life.

In a world in which many people see abortion as “a necessary evil,” he said, the Church’s task is to proclaim the truth.

He referenced the classic tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” in which swindlers convince a vain king and an entire kingdom that they had prepared a grand suit of clothes for the king and that anyone who was not able to see the clothes was “stupid and unfit to rule.”

Although the king and the citizens in the story pretended they could see and approve of the new “clothes” the king wore, only a small child had the bravery and honesty to proclaim that the king was actually naked.

“The king’s new clothes today,” Cardinal O’Malley explained, “are called reproductive rights, termination of pregnancy, choice, and many other euphemisms that disguise the reality and brutality that is abortion.”

Society is “afraid to question,” and so it plays along, saying that “those who do not applaud must be stupid, naive, obstinate,” while “the Church is like the child who declares before the world that the clothes are a lie, a humbug, a deception.”

“The Church, with the candor of the child, must call out the uncomfortable truth: ‘Abortion is wrong! Thou shalt not kill,’” the cardinal said. “‘Choose Life’ is the message of the Church confronted by the king’s new clothes.” 

Photo credit: Addie Mena, CNA

 

Wednesday

By Adelaide Mena

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 21, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News)–The annual March for Life plays a foundational role in the Church’s work of promoting human dignity at all stages of development, said a member of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life office.

Deirdre McQuade, assistant director of policy and communication for the U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat, told CNA that although numerous contemporary issues deal with human life and dignity, abortion is a “fundamental chop at the root of life.”

Coming together “for mutual encouragement” at the annual March for Life and other pro-life demonstrations is essential in building solidarity and showing that “the pro-life movement is strong, youthful,” she stated.

“Many, many good people have pro-life convictions but feel isolated,” she said, explaining that “if we don’t come together, we don’t know” how many other people hold these views.

Each year hundreds of thousands of pro-life demonstrators flood the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to participate in the March for Life, held on or near Jan. 22, the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that allowed abortion to be legalized throughout the United States.

McQuade said her own participation in the March For Life as a high school student helped her to realize how large the pro-life movement is.

“I was always pro-life,” she said, but attending the national demonstration helped her realize as a teenager “that this was the foundational civil-rights movement of our age.”

The march is also a statement to the nation about the reality of abortion and its impact on human rights, she continued.  

“Human dignity is not something we can add to or subtract from,” she said, and when society bases human rights on age or state of development, “we’re practicing mass discrimination.”

“If anyone has a right to life, all have a right to life.”

And for women who have suffered from past abortions, the March for Life has a distinctive “witness value,” she said.

“We’re standing in solidarity with those women,” McQuade explained, “saying we hope one day no one has to go through what you had to go through.”

The pro-life movement is “working toward the day in which no one feels like she has to have an abortion,” she said.

Although protesting Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, is an important part of creating a “culture of life,” McQuade said, there is more work that needs to be done.

The U.S. Catholic bishops having been working “across a variety of offices” in “issues throughout the life span,” she said, but their work is threatened by “oppressive” laws promoting abortion and stifling religious freedom throughout the country.

“In this administration and in this time, sadly, we’re more in a mode of defense rather than actively moving to protect more lives,” she said.

The bishops’ conference is currently focusing on two proposed laws to protect vulnerable unborn lives.

The Healthcare Conscience Rights Act “protects two populations in a very necessary way,” McQuade said. It secures the conscience rights of health-care workers who are threatened with losing their jobs if they do not perform or participate in abortions.

It also offers protection to “Catholic and other business owners” who face penalties for following their conscience by offering “good insurance” plans that exclude contraception, sterilization, and some early abortion drugs.

In addition, the bishops are supporting the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, McQuade said, explaining that the legislation would solidify “into law a longstanding federal policy” that prevents taxpayer funding of abortions for domestic programs.

The Affordable Care Act effectively bypasses longstanding restrictions on federal funding of abortion, and “a fix is necessary,” she said, adding that it is an “absolutely essential piece of legislation.”

“There is a direct relationship between the state funding of abortion and the number of abortions,” she said. “If [people] consider themselves pro-choice but don’t want more [abortions], they should support the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.”

“It can have a systemic effect on protecting human lives.”

Tuesday

NEW YORK CITY, January 21, 2014 (CNA)—Catholics have joined with members of other faiths to support the Holy See’s permanent observer status at the United Nations, defending against a group of abortion proponents seeking to oust the body from the international organization.

“The Holy See’s special status enables it to encourage genuine dialogue, promote peaceful resolution of conflicts, and appeal beyond the mere territorial interests of states to the consciences of their leaders,” said a declaration and petition supporting the Holy See’s unique presence in world diplomacy.

The statement explained that the Holy See’s “disinterested, nonpartisan service has always been appreciated by the member states at the United Nations.”

“We join with the member states in gratitude for the spiritual and moral witness of the Holy See at the United Nations,” it continued. “The world would be far poorer if the voice of the Holy See within the United Nations were ever silenced. May that day never come.”

The declaration and petition was launched by the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute January 17.

Austin Ruse, the institute’s president, said the petition campaign is a response to efforts to remove the Holy See from the U.N. General Assembly.

“The Holy See is the conscience of the U.N. It is the only delegation that does not have political considerations in how it negotiates. It negotiates purely from first principles,” he said.

Drafted by Princeton Law School professor Robert P. George and William Saunders of Americans United for Life, the declaration noted that the Holy See has been working in diplomacy since the fourth century A.D. It now has diplomatic relations with 177 nations.

The declaration charged that opponents of the Vatican’s presence at the U.N. dislike the Holy See’s “steadfast defense of the sanctity of human life and the inviolable dignity of the family.”

“Certain organizations, in the name of a false ‘liberation,’ seek to undermine central truths regarding the nature of the human person and of the family. In the name of a false doctrine of human rights, they deny what makes men truly human and violate true human rights,” the statement said.

The abortion advocacy group “Catholics for Choice” has been a longtime opponent of the Holy See’s permanent observer status. The U.S. bishops have warned that this group is “not a Catholic organization” but promotes teachings “contrary to the teaching of the Church.”

The group’s president, John O’Brien, used the Holy See representatives’ recent appearance at a hearing of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child to criticize the permanent observer mission.

He that the Holy See “inexplicably . . . continues to enjoy the privileges of a state at the U.N.”

“The Holy See has no right to a seat at the U.N. and should not be signing these treaties and conventions,” he argued January 16.

The Holy See’s representatives at the January 16 hearing condemned violence against children and child exploitation, saying that the Vatican in recent years has made child protection a priority.

Signatories of the petition deplored efforts to end the Holy See’s permanent observer status, charging that these groups see the Vatican as “an obstacle to their goals of re-engineering humanity and revising basic moral understandings.”

“While many of us do not share or endorse the claims of the Catholic Church, we are united in supporting the Holy See’s continued role as permanent observer at the United Nations,” the document said.

A similar declaration was launched in the year 2000, gaining support from Protestant and Muslim groups as well as Catholics.

Ruse urged supporters of the Holy See’s U.N. presence to sign the petition and ask others to do so.

The signatories will be presented to representatives of the Holy See in New York, Geneva, and Rome before the end of 2014.

The petition can be viewed in full at www.defendtheholysee.org.