Sunday, December 27, 2009

Homily for Feast of the Holy Family

A few comments about following God's will and being open to children :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New letter from Bishops to Senate on Healthcare

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 FOURTH STREET NE • WASHINGTON DC 20017-1194 • 202-541-3000
WEBSITE: WWW.USCCB.ORG/healthcare • FAX 202-541-3339

December 22, 2009

United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), we strongly urge the Senate not to move its current health care reform bill forward without incorporating essential changes to ensure that needed health care reform legislation truly protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all.

The Catholic bishops of the United States have long supported adequate and affordable health care for all, and insisted that providing health care that clearly reflects these fundamental principles is a public good, moral imperative and urgent national priority. In our letter of November 20 we urged the Senate to act as the House has in the following respects:

• keep in place current federal law on abortion funding and conscience protections on abortion;

• protect the access to health care that immigrants currently have and remove current barriers to access; and

• include strong provisions for adequate affordability and coverage standards.

Disappointingly, the legislative proposal now advancing to final approval in the Senate does not meet these moral criteria. Specifically, it violates the longstanding federal policy against the use of federal funds for elective abortions and health plans that include such abortions -- a policy upheld in all health programs covered by the Hyde Amendment as well as in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program -- and now in the House-passed “Affordable Health Care for America Act.” We believe legislation that fails to comply with this policy and precedent is not true health care reform and should be opposed until this fundamental problem is remedied.

Protecting Human Life and Conscience
Despite claims to the contrary, the House-passed provision on abortion keeps in place the longstanding and widely supported federal policy against government funding of elective abortions and plans that include elective abortions. It does not restrict abortion, or prevent people from buying insurance covering abortion with their own funds. It simply ensures that where federal funds are involved, people are not required to pay for other people’s abortions. The public consensus on this point is borne out by many opinion surveys, including the new Quinnipiac University survey of December 22 showing 72 percent opposed to public funding of abortion in health care reform legislation.

The abortion provisions in the Manager’s Amendment to the Senate bill do not maintain this commitment to the legal status quo on abortion funding. Federal funds will help subsidize, and in some cases a federal agency will facilitate and promote, health plans that cover elective abortions. All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions in a very direct and explicit way, through a separate premium payment designed solely to pay for abortion. There is no provision for individuals to opt out of this abortion payment in federally subsidized plans, so people will be required by law to pay for other people’s abortions. States may opt out of this system only by passing legislation to prohibit abortion coverage. In this way the longstanding and current federal policy universally reflected in all federal health programs, including the program for providing health coverage to Senators and other federal employees, will be reversed. That policy will only prevail in states that take the initiative of passing their own legislation to maintain it.

This bill also continues to fall short of the House-passed bill in preventing governmental discrimination against health care providers that decline involvement in abortion (Sec. 259 of H.R. 3962), and includes no conscience protection allowing Catholic and other institutions to provide and purchase health coverage consistent with their moral and religious convictions on other procedures.

Immigrants and Health Care Coverage
We support the inclusion of all immigrants, regardless of status, in the insurance exchange. The Senate bill forbids undocumented immigrants from purchasing health care coverage in the exchange. Undocumented immigrants should not be barred from purchasing a health insurance plan with their own money. Without such access, many immigrant families would be unable to receive primary care and be compelled to rely on emergency room care. This would harm not only immigrants and their families, but also the general public health. Moreover, the financial burden on the American public would be higher, as Americans would pay for uncompensated medical care through the federal budget or higher insurance rates.

We also support the removal of the five-year ban on legal immigrants accessing federal health benefit programs, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Medicare. An amendment authored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), which would give states the option to remove this ban, should be included in the bill.

Accessible and Affordable Health Care
The Catholic bishops have advocated for decades for affordable and accessible health care for all, especially the poor and marginalized. The Senate bill makes great progress in covering people in our nation. However, the Senate bill would still leave over 23 million people in our nation without health insurance. This falls far short of what is needed in both policy and moral dimensions.

The bishops support expanding Medicaid eligibility minimally for people living at 133 percent or lower of the federal poverty level. The bill does not burden states with excessive Medicaid matching rates. The affordability credits will help lower-income families purchase insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Exchange. However, the Senate bill would still leave low-income families earning between 133 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level financially vulnerable to health care costs, while it does provide more adequate subsidies for households 250 percent over the federal poverty level. Overall, the average subsidy provided for in the Senate bill is $1,300 less than the average subsidy in the House bill. We urge that the best elements of both bills be included.

For many months, our bishops’ conference has worked with members of Congress, the Administration and others to fashion health care reform legislation that truly protects the life, dignity, health and consciences of all. Our message has been clear and consistent throughout.

We regret to say that in all the areas of our moral concern, the Senate health care reform bill is deficient. On the issue of respect for unborn human life, the bill not only falls short of the House’s standard but violates longstanding precedent in all other federal health programs.

Therefore we believe the Senate should not move this bill forward at this time but continue to discuss and approve changes that could make it morally acceptable. Until these fundamental flaws are remedied the bill should be opposed.

Regardless of the outcome in the Senate, we will work vigorously to incorporate into the final legislation our priorities for upholding conscience rights and longstanding current prohibitions on abortion funding; ensuring affordability and access; and including immigrants. We hope and pray that the Congress and the country will come together around genuine reform.


Bishop William F. Murphy
Diocese of Rockville Centre
Committee on Domestic
Justice and Human

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo
Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
Committee on Pro-life Activities

Bishop John Wester
Diocese of Salt Lake City
Committee on Migration

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Homily for December 20, 2009

Those who have followed my blog for a while may find this homily sounds familiar. I used a large part of my homily from last Feb as the basis for today's homily

Here is the text for those who can't listen

The following story is quoted from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

As Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in World War II, General Eisenhower had been given information about the Nazi concentration camp system well before he led the invasion to liberate Western Europe (June, 1944). Reports on the massive genocide inflicted on Jews, Gypsies, political prisoners, homosexuals, dissidents, and other groups by the Schutzstaffel (SS) had been circulated among all the Allied leaders. Very few of the Allied commanders, however, had an accurate conception of what is now known to the world as the Holocaust until their troops began to encounter the death camps as they marched into Western Germany.

On April 4, 1945, elements of the United States Army’s 89th Infantry Division and the 4th Armored Division captured the Ohrdruf concentration camp outside the town of Gotha in south central Germany. Although the Americans didn’t know it at the time, Ohrdruf was one of several sub-camps serving the Buchenwald extermination camp, which was close to the city of Weimar several miles north of Gotha. Ohrdruf was a holding facility for over 11,000 prisoners on their way to the gas chambers and crematoria at Buchenwald. A few days before the Americans arrived to liberate Ohrdruf, the SS guards had assembled all of the inmates who could walk and marched them off to Buchenwald. They left in the sub-camp more than a thousand bodies of prisoners who had died of bullet wounds, starvation, abuse, and disease. The scene was an indescribable horror even to the combat-hardened troops who captured the camp. Bodies were piled throughout the camp. There was evidence everywhere of systematic butchery. Many of the mounds of dead bodies were still smoldering from failed attempts by the departing SS guards to burn them. The stench was horrible.

When General Eisenhower learned about the camp, he immediately arranged to meet Generals Bradley and Patton at Ohrdruf on the morning of April 12th. By that time, Buchenwald itself had been captured. Consequently, Ike decided to extend the group’s visit to include a tour of the Buchenwald extermination camp the next day. Eisenhower also ordered every American soldier in the area who was not on the front lines to visit Ohrdruf and Buchenwald. He wanted them to see for themselves what they were fighting against.

During the camp inspections with his top commanders Eisenhower said that the atrocities were “beyond the American mind to comprehend.” He ordered that every citizen of the town of Gotha personally tour the camp and, after having done so, the mayor and his wife went home and hanged themselves. Later on Ike wrote to Mamie, “I never dreamed that such cruelty, bestiality, and savagery could really exist in this world.” He cabled General Marshall to suggest that he come to Germany and see these camps for himself. He encouraged Marshall to bring Congressmen and journalists with him. It would be many months before the world would know the full scope of the Holocaust — many months before they knew that the Nazi murder apparatus that was being discovered at Buchenwald and dozens of other death camps had slaughtered millions of innocent people.
General Eisenhower understood that many people would be unable to comprehend the full scope of this horror. He also understood that any human deeds that were so utterly evil might eventually be challenged or even denied as being literally unbelievable. For these reasons he ordered that all the civilian news media and military combat camera units be required to visit the camps and record their observations in print, pictures and film. As he explained to General Marshall, “I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda.’”

His prediction proved correct. When some groups, even today, attempt to deny that the Holocaust ever happened they are must confront the massive official record, including both written evidence and thousands of pictures, that Eisenhower ordered to be assembled when he saw what the Nazis had done.

I bring up this story because it relates to a similar story that is taking place in our country, right now. There is a holocaust in our country that has led to the legal killing of over 45 million persons since Jan 22, 1973. Sadly, it is not a holocaust that we are trying to hide, but many of us fail to take notice of it happening. Those who are promoting the killing post their tally on the internet and in their “professional” journals.

In preparing for this weekend’s homily, I went to the Guttmacher Institute’s web page. They have a page entitled, “Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States”. I’d like to share with you a few of the facts.

• Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion. Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.
• Each year, about two percent of women aged 15-44 have an abortion; 47% of them have had at least one previous abortion.
• Forty-three percent of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% as Catholic

The sad reality about this holocaust in America today is that we have pictures of what is happening. Like many of those in Germany, we know the gruesomeness of the killings, but we try to bury our heads and pretend that they are not taking place. We refuse to look at the pictures because it might require that we step forward and do something about the violence that is taking place. I have copies of the pictures and would really like to pass them around, but it is not something our children should see. I just hope that by not passing these pictures around that I am not helping you in your denial of the reality of abortion in our society.

I have mentioned in the past that 3,000 to 4,000 abortions occur every day. The most recent statistics that I could find, which is 2005, point to approximately 3,300 abortions each day. We have about 6,600 people who die each day. That means that 1/3 of all deaths in our country each day are as a result of abortion.

In today’s gospel, we hear the response of Elizabeth when Mary comes into her presence. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Truly, every fruit of the womb should be seen as blessed.

I’d like to share the following from Mother Teresa,

"America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts -- a child -- as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters"
And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign." (Mother Theresa -- "Notable and Quotable," Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14)

Most of you are probably aware of the health care debate that is taking place in Washington, even as we speak. Even as it approaches a vote in the senate, the legislation will require Catholics to pay for abortions. From what I hear today, some states could opt out, but in those states who do not our taxpayer money will be subsidizing insurance payments for those wanting abortions. Now, I know, some of you are going to want to challenge me to say I am taking a political stand. In reality I am taking a moral stand in encouraging you to contact our senators and representative. As I’ve said before, as those who vote, we need to hold our elected officials accountable.

I also realize that some of you are wishing I would stop bringing up this topic. There are some who want to bury their heads in the sand so that we can pretend that this is not happening. Perhaps the priests who have served here in the past have tried to keep their homilies focused solely on God’s love and have not presented many challenges as we strive to live out our faith. We can’t ignore our obligations as Catholics to be active in the world to make a change for the good.

I’d like to close with quote from John Paul II.
"America you are beautiful . . . and blessed . . . . The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sen. Casey's proposal still pays for abortion

The health care proposal by Sen. Casey still does not protect life to the extent life has been protected in the past through the Hyde Amendment.

in reference to: Sen. Casey says faith groups praise his abortion proposal, U.S. bishops not satisfied (view on Google Sidewiki)

Let's hope we can see some real prohibitions against taxpayers, and those required to join the government plan, from paying for abortions directly, or indirectly.

Fr. Barron comments on Abortion and Health Care

Fr. Barron came back from sabbatical to teach at Mundelein during my last two years there.

He's doing great things with

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Catholicism Project

Venerable John Paul II?

We've Waited Long Enough

Many of you may have heard about the petition going around encouraging the bishops and Vatican to wait on the translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal into English. Last month, the bishops of the US approved the final sections of the translation, with a little bit of drama brought up by those who do not agree with the text. The new translation should be ready for use in a year, or year and a half from now. Yet, there are still calls that 10 years of discussion is not enough.

A friend started this petition in response to the petition that wants us to wait longer. Please consider signing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 13, 2009 Homily

Here's the homily I delivered in Geraldine last Sunday

Friday, December 11, 2009

Homily for Dec 6, 2009

I'm a little late posting this. I thought I had lost my cable that goes from the digital recorder to the computer. I then realized I was looking past the mini USB port on the recorder.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bishops to Senate

A letter from our bishops to the Senate
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), we strongly urge the Senate to adopt essential changes to the health care reform bill to ensure that needed health care reform legislation truly protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all.

Therefore we urgently ask you to support an essential amendment to be offered by Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Robert Casey (D-PA) to keep in place the longstanding and widely supported federal policy against government funding of health coverage that includes elective abortions.

Sadly, the current Senate bill fails to keep in place the longstanding federal policy against the use of federal funds for elective abortions or health plans that include elective abortions -- a policy upheld in all health programs covered by the Hyde Amendment, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program -- and now in the House-passed “Affordable Health Care for America Act.” We believe legislation that violates this moral principle is not true health care reform and must be amended to reflect the Hyde restrictions. If that fails, the current legislation should be opposed.

This amendment will have the same effect as the Stupak-Pitts-Ellsworth-Kaptur-Dahlkemper-Lipinski-Smith Amendment already accepted in the House by an overwhelming bipartisan majority (see attached fact sheet). Like that amendment, it does not change the current situation in our country: Abortion is legal and available, but no federal dollars can be used to pay for elective abortions or plans that include elective abortions. This amendment does not restrict abortion, or prevent people from buying insurance covering abortion with their own funds. It simply ensures that where federal funds are involved, people are not required to pay for other people’s abortions.

The bill currently before the Senate allows the HHS Secretary to mandate abortion coverage throughout the government-run “community health insurance option.” It also provides funding for other plans that cover unlimited abortions, and creates an unprecedented mandatory “abortion surcharge” in such plans that will require pro-life purchasers to pay directly and explicitly for other people’s abortions. The bill does not maintain essential nondiscrimination protections for providers who decline involvement in abortion. The Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment simply corrects these grave departures from current federal policy.

We urge the Senate to support the Nelson–Hatch-Casey amendment. As other amendments are offered to the bill that address our priorities on conscience protection, affordability and fair treatment of immigrants, we will continue to communicate our positions on these issues to the Senate.

The Catholic bishops have long supported adequate and affordable health care for all. As pastors and teachers, we believe genuine health care reform must protect human life and dignity, not threaten them, especially for the most voiceless and vulnerable. We believe health care legislation must respect the consciences of providers, taxpayers, and others, not violate them. We believe universal coverage should be truly universal, not deny health care to those in need because of their condition, age, where they come from or when they arrive here. Providing affordable and accessible health care that clearly reflects these fundamental principles is a public good, moral imperative and urgent national priority.


Most Reverend William F. Murphy
Bishop of Rockville Centre
Committee on Domestic Justice
and Human Development

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo
Archbishop of Galveston-Houston
Committee on Pro-life Activities

Most Reverend John Wester
Bishop of Salt Lake City
Committee on Migration

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Creator of the Stars of Night

A little something for Advent.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Benedict XVI Invites Faithful to Confession

This is from Zenit

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2009 ( Benedict XVI today encouraged the faithful -- and particularly priests -- to trust in God's goodness and approach the sacrament of confession.

The Pope spoke of this sacrament today as he concluded the general audience in St. Peter's Square. In his customary greeting to youth, the sick and newlyweds, he observed that today marks the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's apostolic exhortation, "Reconciliatio et paenitentia."

The document "called attention to the importance of the sacrament of penance in the life of the Church," the Holy Father said. And he pointed to some "extraordinary 'apostles of the confessional,' tireless dispensers of divine mercy: Sts. John Mary Vianney, Joseph Cafasso, Leopold Mandic, Pio of Pietrelcina."

Turning to youth, he expressed his hope that the witness of these saints would be an encouragement "to flee from sin and to plan your future as a generous service to God and neighbor."

Read the whole thing

Bishop-elect of Cheyenne an outdoorsman from a faith-filled family

This sounds like my kind of bishop. His brother, Bernie, was ahead of me in the seminary.

Indianapolis, Ind., Dec 2, 2009 / 03:01 am (CNA).- Fr. Paul D. Etienne, the bishop-elect of Cheyenne, is an Indiana outdoorsman whose vocation was nourished by a faithful mother and relatives in the priesthood and religious life.

Fr. Etienne, 50, will become one of the youngest Catholic bishops in the U.S. when he is installed as Bishop of Cheyenne on Dec. 9. The Indianapolis Star reports that he celebrated his final Masses as pastor in his two parishes in Perry County, Indiana where he has been assigned since July.

. . . .

Archbishop of Indianapolis Daniel M. Beuchlein told the Star that he had submitted Bishop-elect Etienne’s name as a candidate fit to become bishop.

"I think the outdoorsman part probably caught the papal nuncio's interest," Archbishop Buechlein said. "They were looking for somebody like that for Wyoming."

Bishop-Elect Etienne said a friend has given him a new fly rod for trout fishing in his new home.

“I can’t wait,” he told the Indianapolis Star.

Read the whole article from the link above.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

St. Louis Archbishop responds to gay rights protest outside cathedral

From the Catholic News Agency

In a statement Monday, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis responded to a demonstration held outside the city's cathedral by a gay rights group protesting the use of archdiocesan funds to defend traditional marriage in Maine. Catholics have an obligation to “carry out Christ's teachings, whether in the privacy of our own home or in the public square,” stated the prelate on the Archdiocese of St. Louis website.

On Sunday, gay rights organization Show Me No Hate protested the donation of $10,000 that the Archdiocese of St. Louis made to the “Yes on 1” campaign in Portland, Maine earlier this year. The initiative, which supported traditional marriage between a man and a woman, was voted on and passed during the mid-term elections.

Check out the whole article. It seems several of those who have left comments do not agree with the Church's teaching. Perhaps we can help turn the tide of the discussion.