Browsing News Entries

Michigan lawsuit could imperil religious adoption agencies

Lansing, Mich., Sep 24, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Faith-based adoption agencies won't be able to adhere to their religious mission in Michigan if a lawsuit challenging state law succeeds, critics say.

“This suit challenging Michigan's law is mean-spirited, divisive and intolerant,” the Michigan Catholic Conference said Sept. 20.

“It is counter-productive toward efforts to assist vulnerable persons and to promote a variety of opportunities for differing families. It is imperative for the state law to be defended from yet another egregious attack on religious faith in public life.”

The conference defended the law as necessary “to promote diversity in child placement and to maintain a private/public partnership that would stabilize the adoption and foster care space for years to come.”

The federal lawsuit, filed Wednesday, is backed by the American Civil Liberties Union. It charges that the state law allows groups to use a religious test in carrying out public services like foster child or adoption placement. It contends this is unconstitutional and violates both the equal protection and establishment clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

The 2015 law, which was passed with the backing of the Michigan Catholic Conference, prevents state-funded adoption and foster agencies from being forced to place children in violation of their beliefs. The law protects them from civil action and from threats to their public funding. When the law was passed, about 25 percent of Michigan’s adoption and foster agencies were faith-based.

These agencies have worked in the state for decades and have helped place thousands of vulnerable children, the Michigan Catholic Conference said.

David M. Maluchnik, a spokesperson for the Michigan Catholic conference, told the Wall Street Journal that the law aimed to protect “the right of these agencies to operate in accordance with their religious mission.”

“We play a primary role in providing homes for loving families looking to adopt or foster a child,” he said.

The law requires agencies that decline to place children with same-sex couples to refer the couples to other providers.

ACLU attorney Jay Kaplan contended that the law allows agencies to discriminate and puts a child in a situation between “finding a permanent loving home or staying in the system.”

Kristy Dumont, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said she and her civilly recognized spouse Dana Dumont had wanted to adopt in Ingham County but were turned down by Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services.

Maluchnik said that there are many Michigan agencies that would place a child with the couple. He questioned why the plaintiffs sued rather than go to another agency.

Before the law was passed, Bethany Christian Services warned that future policies could force faith-based agencies to “choose between their desire to help children and families and their fidelity to their religious principles,” the Michigan-based MLive Media Group reported in 2015.

SSPX bishop signs letter claiming Pope Francis enables error

Rome, Italy, Sep 23, 2017 / 08:50 pm (CNA).- A letter presenting itself as a filial correction of Pope Francis for reputed errors and heresies has been signed by over 60 Catholic clergy and scholars, including most prominently Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the breakaway traditionalist Society of St. Pius X group.

The letter to the Pope, dated July 16, says it concerns “the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness.” It claims the publication of the exhortation and other acts of the Pope has given “scandal concerning faith and morals” to the Church and to the world,

“While professing their obedience to his legitimate commands and teachings, they maintain that Francis has upheld and propagated heretical opinions by various direct or indirect means,” a press release accompanying the letter said of the signers. It added that the signers do not believe the Pope has propagated these opinions as dogmatic Church teachings and make no judgment about the Pope’s culpability.

The letter was delivered to Pope Francis on Aug. 11, the press release said.

Bishop Fellay reportedly learned of the document only after its delivery. The district superior of the Society of Pius X, Father Robert Brucciani, is also a signatory. The society’s leader in 1988 ordained four bishops without papal permission in 1988 and all five prelates were excommunicated. Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications in 2009 and there have been continuing talks seeking to reconcile the society with the Church.

The letter to Pope Francis cites differences among the Catholic bishops and cardinals concerning the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and remarried. It objects to the Pope’s silence in the face of the “dubia” submitted to the Pope by four cardinals seeking clarification of “Amoris Laetitia,” in September 2016.

It charges that the Pope’s actions have allowed Holy Communion to be received sacrilegiously by divorced people now living as husband and wife with someone not their spouse.

The letter claims the Pope has voiced “unprecedented sympathy” for Martin Luther and suggested there is an affinity between Luther’s ideas and the ideas of “Amoris Laetitia.” It also blames theological modernism for provoking a crisis within the Church.

Other signers include Dr. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, past president of the Institution of Religious Works and an ethics professor at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, as well Msgr. Antonio Livi, dean emeritus of the Pontifical Lateran University.

Some U.S.-based signers include Dr. Philip Blosser, a philosophy professor at the Detroit archdiocese’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary; Christopher Ferrara, president of the American Catholic Lawyers’ Association and a columnist in the hardline traditionalist Catholic newspaper The Remnant; and Dr. John Rao, a history professor at St. John’s University in New York City who directs the Roman Forum.

My cousin the martyr: meet Blessed Stanley Rother's large family

Oklahoma City, Okla., Sep 23, 2017 / 04:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- They came from Illinois and they came from Wisconsin. They came from Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.

They came from Minnesota--three or four buses worth. At least 16 cars made the drive down from Nebraska.

The many, many, first, second and third cousins of Father Stanley Rother descended on Oklahoma City like the Boomers of old descended on the Oklahoma plains when there was free land for the claiming. But this time, they came to watch one of their own become “Blessed” in the eyes of the Church.

Fr. Stanley was born in 1935, and grew up with his parents and four siblings in the rural farming town of Okarche, Okla. He became a priest in 1963 and was martyred in 1981 in Guatemala at the age of 46, after serving as a missionary there for 13 years.

He was beatified on Sept. 23 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. His two surviving siblings, Sister Marita and Tom Rother, as well as hundreds of extended relatives, were in attendance at the Mass, along with 14,000 of the faithful.

Doris Horne was in charge of mobilizing the Nebraska contingent. Many Rother relations are from the small town of Humphrey, Nebraska, while others have settled in the Columbus, Ohio area.

“There are 140 of us from my Grandmother Smith-Fuchs side here, from six states,” she told CNA as she sat amongst many of them at the Cox Convention Center before the beatification Mass for Fr. Stanley Rother, her second cousin.

Horne’s parents were first cousins to Fr. Stanley’s parents. Although she never met Fr. Stanley, Horne said she remembered his parents coming to visit. She was also able to make a pilgrimage to his mission in Guatemala on the 25th anniversary of his death.

“Everyone down there loved him, and the churches were packed” for the occassion, she recalled. “He was so loved down there.”

“I don’t know how to put it into words, but it’s an honor. We pray to him all the time, and I’m just honored to be part of the family,” she said.

Cousins have always been an important part of life for Fr. Stanley Rother, who came from a German Catholic family. The first wedding he ever celebrated was that of his cousin Kay Rother and her husband.

These days, Kay volunteers a lot at Holy Trinity parish in Okarche, Okla., where Fr. Stanley went to church and school. She said it’s probably a good thing Fr. Stanley wasn’t alive to witness all of his beatification happenings.

“With all this going on, he would not want it,” she said with a mixture of humor and bemusement, gesturing to the small crowd of journalists and distant relatives descending on the otherwise quiet parish grounds the day before the beatification Mass.

Stanley was a humble, quiet person and would have loathed being the center of attention, Kay explained.

“He wouldn’t like all the hubub,” she said. “He was very quiet and humble, and he didn’t brag on what he did.”

Besides being a cousin and the celebrant of her wedding, Fr. Stanley is dear to Kay for another important reason: she credits his intercession for saving the life of her daughter, Amber.

Several years ago, when Amber was just in her early twenties, she had a brain aneurysm rupture. The first hospital said there was nothing to be done except to take her upstairs and harvest her organs. Another hospital said if Amber lived, she’d spend her life in a vegetative state.

That’s when Kay’s husband called on Stan.

“My husband said don’t worry about it, I’m going to the cemetery. So he went to the cemetery and said ‘okay Stan, time for you to work.’ And three days later she opened her eyes, and today you’d never know it,” Kay said. Amber is healthy, and happily married, with one child.

Fr. Stan is a big reason she’s spent the past 30 years volunteering at the parish. Even in the midst of the beatification chaos, Kay was trying to fix the air conditioning in the church that had stopped working “today of all days.”

“I just felt like I owed it to him. It’s the least I can do,” Kay said, doing her best to hold back the tears.

When Fr. Stanley was killed in 1981, his heart remained interned at the altar in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. His body was flown back to Okarche, where it was buried in Holy Trinity’s cemetery until just a few months ago, when his remains were moved to a temporary resting place in the archdiocese, pending the completion of a shrine in his honor.

But his headstone still marks the original plot in the Holy Trinity Cemetery. “Padre A’plas”, it reads, the name for Father Francis in the native Guatemalan language of Tzutuhil, which he had learned to speak fluently.

Lee Rother and his family visited the cemetery the Friday before the beatification Mass, to honor Fr. Stanley, as well as the other Rother relatives buried there. As he walked through the grounds, Lee recalled fond memories of the people whose gravestones he passed. He must have known at least half of the people buried there.

Lee himself has settled in Minnesota, along with many of the other Rother relatives. He told CNA that he has given talks on Fr. Stanley, his third cousin, and is inspired by his faith.

“How he lived, how he served God and his people--he had a tremendous, deep faith in him,” he said.

This was something Fr. Stanley passed on to the Guatemalans he served.

“That parish flourished after he died, because he gave them a faith that they could lean on in the midst of their oppression,” he said, his excitement about his cousin palpale.

“It’s a tremendous thrill, it’s so exhilarating to have a relative who’s being beatified by the Catholic Church,” he said. “The best thing that’s ever happened to the Rother family.”

Kathy Rother is a cousin of Father Stanley’s who knew him growing up. Her family lived just a few miles down the road, and she went to school with Stanley and his siblings.

Kathy fondly remembered Stanley as a kind, brotherly figure, someone who once stopped the bullies on the bus from picking on her.

“The big boys would like to pick on the little kids because they were bored. They’d pull their hair or take your lunchbox,” Kathy said.

“I remember one time I was the butt of the jokes... and I remember looking around for one of my older brothers to rescue me, and they didn’t, but there was Stan sitting there and he patted the empty seat next to him, and I sat there and they left me alone, the boys just backed off,” she said.

“it wasn’t like Stan was a sissy, he was very self-contained, he knew what was right, and it wasn’t right to be picking on little kids,” she said. “He was very much looked up to.”

Kathy still remembers getting the news of her cousin’s untimely death. “That cut me to the heart”, she remembered, her eyes tearing up. But then, look what came of it, she added, smiling.

And he’s still there for her, though this time its through his prayers in heaven, rather than rescuing her from bus bullies.

“Many times I’ve called on Stan (in prayer),” Kathy said. “And he comes through.”

Faithful martyr and missionary Father Stanley Rother beatified in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Okla., Sep 23, 2017 / 02:16 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Father Stanley Rother, an Oklahoma priest martyred in Guatemala, was beatified Saturday during a Mass in Oklahoma City attended by over 20,000 people. Pope Francis named him blessed in a letter that cited his “deeply rooted faith,” his “profound union with God,” and his “arduous duty to spread the word of God in missionary lands, faithfully living his priestly and missionary service until his martyrdom.” His feast day is set for the anniversary of his death, July 28, 1981, which the papal letter described as “the day of his heavenly birth.” Blessed Stanley Rother served indigenous people of his Guatemala parish at a time of civil war. He returned to his home state of Oklahoma after a death threat, then returned knowing the dangers. Before his last Christmas, the priest wrote to a parish in Oklahoma about the dangers in Guatemala: “The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger,” he said. Armed men broke into his rectory, intending to abduct him. He resisted and struggled, but did not call for help, so others at the mission would not be endangered. He was shot twice and killed. At a time of great social and political turbulence, the priest lived as a disciple of Christ, “doing good and spreading peace and reconciliation among the people,” Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect for the Congregation of Saints, said in his homily. “Unfortunately, this immediate recompense on this earth was persecution and a bloody death, in accord with the Words of Jesus: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit,” said the cardinal, citing the words of the Gospel. Celebrating the Mass with Cardinal Amato were Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley, dozens of bishops, scores of priests and thousands of laity, including some from Guatemala. The Mass took place at Oklahoma City’s Cox Convention Center. Family of Fr. Rother were also in attendance. Sister Marita Rother read the first reading, from the Book of Sirach. Though Blessed Stanley faced difficulties in his seminary studies, he showed great dedication to the manual labor he was familiar with from his youth on his family farm near Okarche, Okla. After volunteering for the Guatemala mission Santiago Atitlan, the priest learned Spanish. He even the local language of the Tz’utujil Mayan Indians so well that he could use it in his preaching. He would spend 13 years of his life there, diligent in visiting newlyweds and baptizing and catechizing their children. He was vigorous in both religious and social formation, drawing on his experience to work the fields and repair broken trucks while also building a farmer’s co-op, a school, a hospital and the area’s first Catholic radio station. Blessed Stanley even took action after a major earthquake in 1976. “With courage he climbed the ravines in order to help the very poor, pulling the wounded out of the ruins and carrying them to safety on his shoulders,” Cardinal Amato said. Cardinal Amato recounted the civil conflict in Guatemala. From 1971 to 1981, there were numerous killings of journalists, farmers, catechists and priests, all accused falsely of communism. “This was a real and true time of bloody persecution of the Church,” the cardinal said. “Fr. Rother, aware of the imminent danger to his life, prepared himself for martyrdom, asking the Lord for the strength to face it without fear.” “He continued, however, to preach the gospel of love and non-violence.” Both the priest’s mission and the aid he gave to the victims of violence were seen as subversive, explained the cardinal, who added: “a good shepherd cannot abandon his flock.” “In the face of kidnappings and violence Fr. Rother felt helpless because he did not succeed in changing the situation of reconciliation and forgiveness,” Cardinal Amato continued. “He often cried in silence to a Carmelite nun who asked what to do if he were killed.” “Fr. Rother responded: ‘Raise the standard of Christ Risen’.” Others spoke about Blessed Stanley. Oklahoma City Archbishop emeritus Eusebius Beltran voiced gratitude to God for the beatification of the first native-born priest and martyr of the United States. “His death was a tragedy for Oklahoma and for Guatemala. However, through his death, his saintly life has become known well beyond the boundaries of Guatemala and Oklahoma and the faith of all those who are now familiar with his life is greatly strengthened, and the Church continues to flourish,” Archbishop Beltran said. Archbishop Coakley said that the priest “chose to remain with his people” and “gave his life  in solidarity.” “Pray that Church will experience a new Pentecost and abundant vocations, aided by the intercession of Bl. Stanley Rother,” he said. The Mass was multi-lingual, incorporating Spanish, Comanche and the Mayan language of the indigenous people Fr. Rother served. The offertory was dedicated to the Guatemalan parishes where Blessed Stanley Rother served, in order to help meet their needs and sustain the faith there. The Catholic Foundation of Oklahoma is managing donations through the webpage http://stanleyrother.org/mass

Vatican at UN: Nukes won't save us – let's seek a better path

New York City, N.Y., Sep 22, 2017 / 08:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Nuclear weapons are a force for instability and any claims they promote peace are chasing illusions, the Holy See's Secretary for Relations with States told leading diplomats seeking a nuclear test ban treaty.

“While having no illusions about the challenges involved in achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, the challenges posed by the status quo ante of growing tensions, continuing proliferation, and new modernization programs are far more daunting,” Archbishop Paul Gallagher said.

“Nuclear arms offer a false sense of security. The uneasy peace promised by nuclear deterrence has time and time again proved a tragic illusion. Nuclear weapons cannot create a stable and secure world. Peace and international stability cannot be founded on mutually assured destruction or on the threat of annihilation.”

The U.K.-born archbishop's words came in remarks to the 10th Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, held at the United Nations in New York City. The Holy See signed the treaty in 1996.

“The rising tensions over North Korea’s growing nuclear program are of special urgency,” he said. “The international community must respond by seeking to revive negotiations. The threat or use of military force have no place in countering proliferation, and the threat or use of nuclear weapons in countering nuclear proliferation are deplorable.”

“We must put behind us the nuclear threats, fear, military superiority, ideology, and unilateralism that drive proliferation and modernization efforts and are so reminiscent of the logic of the Cold War,” he said.

Putting the treaty into force is even more urgent considering contemporary threats to peace, he said, citing continued nuclear proliferation and some nuclear states’ major new modernization programs.

Archbishop Gallagher said political analysis that relies on nuclear weapons is misleading. The supposed peace based on a balance of power and “threats and counter-threats, and ultimately fear” is “unstable and false.” He called for the replacement of “a logic of fear and mistrust” with “an ethic of responsibility” that would foster multilateral dialogue and consistent cooperation between all members of the international community.

The archbishop said the Holy See is troubled by “the continued lack of progress” in making sure the treaty enters into force. The two decades since the treaty’s launch have been a lost two decades in achieving “our common goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”

The Holy See welcomes the opportunity to join other states that have ratified the treaty in appealing to remaining states whose ratification is necessary, he added.

“In ratifying this treaty, these States have an opportunity to demonstrate wisdom, courageous leadership, and a commitment to peace and the common good of all,” he said.

The comprehensive test ban is “a critical component to broader nuclear disarmament efforts.”

He cited Pope Francis' Sept. 25, 2015 speech urging the U.N. General Assembly “to work for a world free of nuclear weapons” and for a full application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty that aims for “a complete prohibition of these weapons.”

“An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations, which would end up as ‘nations united by fear and distrust,” the Pope said.

Pope Francis has also written to Elayne Whyte Gómez, president of the U.N. conference seeking a nuclear weapons ban, urging the international community to go beyond nuclear deterrence and adopt “forward-looking strategies to promote the goal of peace and stability and to avoid short-sighted approaches to the problems surrounding national and international security.”

On Thursday, the Holy See was among the first to sign and ratify a new treaty that prohibits nuclear weapons. Archbishop Gallagher signed on behalf of the Holy See and Vatican City at the U.N. in New York, Vatican Radio reports. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Weapons has over 40 signatories and it will take effect 90 days after at least 50 nations formally ratify it.

That treaty bars the development, production, testing, acquisition, possession or stockpiling of nuclear weapons or other nuclear devices. It also bars the use or threat of use of these weapons. Most nuclear powers did not take part in the negotiations.

2017 Creative Writing Contest Winners Announced

On May 3, 2017, 121 finalists in the Annual Respect Life Creative Writing Contest gathered at the Cardinal Rigali Center to be recognized for their outstanding entries. 

Protect LifeThese finalists, representing over 70 different Catholic elementary schools, parish schools of religion, and home schools, were selected from over 1000 entries. Finalists received a certificate of commendation, T-shirt, and book and were recognized by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson. Open to 8th graders in the Archdiocese, the contest asked students to respond to the prompt: Explain why living the virtue of chastity protects us from abortion and blesses us with true holiness, health, and happiness.

From these finalists, four students were recognized as honorable mention winners and six students were selected as scholarship winners. Honorable mention winners received a $500 award; the scholarship winners received a $2000 scholarship to be applied to their Catholic high school of choice. All honorable mention and scholarship winners also each received three tickets to the Annual Respect Life Convention in October, hosted by the Respect Life Apostolate.  

Honorable mention winners this year are:

  • Indira Kar from St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Grade School and Parish (Cor Jesu Academy)
  • Sarah Keys from St. John Paul II Preparatory School and Mary, Queen of Peace Parish (St. John Paul II Preparatory School)
  • Dallen Nelsen, a homeschooler from St. Gianna Parish (Homeschool)
  • John Niebrugge, a homeschooler from St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish (Homeschool)

Scholarship winners this year are:

  • Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell Scholarship: Nicole Bergen from Holy Spirit Grade School and Parish (St. Joseph Academy)
  • Mary Forrestal Hennessey Scholarship: Natalie McDonough from Holy Spirit Academy Homeschool and St. Joseph-Cottleville Parish (St. John Paul II Prepatory School)
  • Mr. & Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarships:
    • Gabriel Serri from Immaculate Conception-Dardenne Grade School and Parish (St. Dominic High School)
    • Sarah Hughes from St. Joseph-Cottleville Grade School and Parish (St. Joseph Academy)
  • Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council Scholarship: Noah Apprill-Sokol from St. Gabriel the Archangel Grade School and Parish (St. Louis University High School)
  • St. Joseph Evangelization Network Scholarship: James Brunts from the Academy of the Sacred Heart and St. Charles Borromeo Parish (St. Louis University High School)

To read the winning essays, click on each student's name.

Congratulations to all of our finalists, honorable mention winners,
and scholarship winners!!

Winners


Nicole Bergen from Holy Spirit Grade School and Parish (St. Joseph Academy) - Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell Scholarship Winner

Seeing Through the Eyes of God

God created us all in His divine image, and in turn calls us to treat others with respect and dignity. Sadly, in our world today, we let our differences divide us. Perhaps the most overlooked form of disrespect to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is abortion. So many innocent people have been robbed of the chance to live their lives because we indulge in the luxury of choice. But if choice is so important, than why don’t we extend this same freedom to the unborn? A baby is formed at conception, a person who deserves to live just as much as anyone else. Age is just another way to divide us, but it does not affect our worth or who we are. God loves everyone unconditionally, so we need to stop making exceptions. All people have a right to live.

Chastity is one way to fight the injustice of abortion because it shows respect for others. Our misleading society puts value on things that will give us pleasure but not true happiness. True happiness can only come from a lasting relationship with God. Chastity also shows devotion to your future spouse by waiting until marriage to have sex. Marriage is a sacrament in which a couple is joined together in unbreakable unity, so sex is a way to express selfless love to a spouse. Our sexuality is a gift from God that we should use to glorify Him.

Our culture underestimates our ability to live according to God’s will, acting as if chastity is an impossibility, but this isn’t true. Every person has the strength to stand up to the temptation of sin through Jesus Christ. We are all equal and united as one Body of Christ, and every person should be treated as a valued child of our Father. When we place our trust in God and allow ourselves to be open to His plan of chastity, we will see the beauty in all of creation. In order to respect life, we need to see through the eyes of God.


Natalie McDonough from Holy Spirit Academy Homeschool and St. Joseph-Cottleville Parish (St. John Paul II Preparatory School) - Mary Forrestal Hennessey Scholarship Winner

Chastity

During the thirteen years of my life, I have spent roughly 400 hours protesting abortion and praying for pregnant women and their babies in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., in Jefferson City, our state capital, or in St. Louis at Planned Parenthood. Though I don’t mind praying for these intentions (I know my prayers will always be heard), I wish that I no longer needed to pray for an end to abortion. Imagine if abortion was not legal; I could have spent those 400 hours in other ways, such as learning to canoe, reading the complete works of Shakespeare, or concocting a food to end world hunger! If everyone practiced chastity, there would be no more unplanned pregnancies or “need” for abortion.

Chastity is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is self-control in areas concerning the ways we think, speak, and act regarding our gift of sexuality. This valuable virtue is spiritual armor that helps protect us from sin, diseases, and depression. When we practice chastity, we not only show respect for God and others, but also respect for ourselves. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. It is our job to recognize God within these temples. Living an unchaste life can “vandalize” our temples and can often result in an unplanned pregnancy, which sometimes leads women to choose abortion. Abortion always leads to a higher risk of breast cancer, possible infertility, regret, and unhappiness. Our sexuality within marriage is a blessed thing that, if God wishes, can blossom into a child. God gives us children as a gift, not a “problem.”

Although I will never regain the hours I have spent protesting abortion and praying for women and their babies, I do hope that I won’t have to add to them. It is my prayer that everyone, young, old, male, and female, will practice the virtue of chastity in their everyday lives so abortion will no longer be a choice. Chastity helps everyone to live a healthy, holy, and happy life.


Gabriel Serri from Immaculate Conception-Dardenne Grade School and Parish (St. Dominic High School) - Mr. & Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarship Winner

Chastity provides a means to bring about the creation of a child born in the image and likeness of God. It is an expression of mutual love and giving of one’s self between a man and a woman in the sacrament of marriage. Abortion, however, is the complete opposite. It takes away the life of the baby inside a mother’s womb. Chastity and abortion are not compatible. Whereas chastity is a selfless act, abortion is simply a selfish act. Every January the March for Life is held where people can go to Washington, D.C. and protest against the right to kill an unborn baby in a mother’s womb. After many years, these protests are beginning to make a difference.

However, even banning abortion in all states will not do the job to end abortions. It is up to the women AND men of our generation to use their bodies for the right reasons and remain chaste. By practicing the virtue of chastity, we can end the horrid idea of any type of abortion. From dressing modestly to waiting until marriage to have sex, loving others in chaste ways can protect our babies from death and save their lives.

Chastity isn’t something that is just suggested by God for us to live out. He wants us to live in the footsteps of His Son, Jesus, so we can make it to heaven and have eternal life with Him in His divine kingdom. We are required as a people to live out the virtues, commandments, and works of mercy given to us. But if we want to end the painful effects of abortion all together, it is our duty to educate our generation about the joy and beauty that comes from living a chaste life. By changing the hearts and minds of those who are lost, we will be able to have a future celebrating the culture of life, rather than the culture of death.


Sarah Hughes from St. Joseph-Cottleville Grade School and Parish (St. Joseph Academy) - Mr. & Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarship Winner

A Poem for the Hurting Heart of a Mother

I close my eyes and ponder what could have been
Perplexity in my partner’s eyes
Ready to start a virtuous family
Just as the will of God implies.

I cuddle my beautiful baby girl
As her blue eyes gaze into mine
I thank the Lord for this precious gift
A mystery and a blessing combined.

I envision the road ahead
Full of obstacles and success
Witnessing my baby grow up
Will be divine and nothing less.

With my new mission came a new name
Like Peter once took
I vow my love in the sacrament of marriage
As I write my unwritten book.

I open my eyes and examine the room
No family to be found
Ten years ago, I aborted my child
And stomped my heart to the ground.

At seventeen, we all made mistakes
An erratum in the book of life
I could have chosen to be chaste
And as consequence I’m not even a wife.

I take a look at my life today
Depressed, abandoned, and a fool
In high school I was sinful and immodest
Just to be considered “cool.”

Abortion, an atrocity, a cruel offense
Has no place on our beloved earth
For God has a plan for each of us
Commenced far before birth.

Killing an innocent child
Isn’t just wrong and unjust
It’s a crime against humanity
And to Satan it’s a must.

It is necessary to combat this uncivil act
For abortion is hitting its peak
To earn justice and the right to life
For the heartbeat heard at just six weeks.

Life is brimming with open doors
In which some we evade
It’s our decision to open the closed
And to take on what God’s displayed.

Virtue and sin are two distinct paths
In which Satan’s is more tempting to embrace
Popularity is misconceived happiness
Nothing compared to God’s grace.

Love yourself, love God, and His plan for you
You will be rewarded for doing right
Hold your head high and away from Satan
And you will conquer this fight.


Noah Apprill-Sokol from St. Gabriel the Archangel Grade School and Parish (St. Louis University High School) - Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council Scholarship Winner

We are made in God’s image; our bodies are sacred gifts. Human bodies are beautiful, amazing, and holy creations. This includes human sexuality and the union of man and woman in a loving relationship. We must honor God’s creation by honoring and caring for our bodies. This is a privilege that God has granted us through our free will. By choosing to adopt a chaste life, we grow in holiness by taking responsibility for our bodies and God’s creation.

Chastity does not necessarily mean we must shun all sexual desires. These desires are meant to be expressed in the life-long promise of marriage and the openness of having a family. A chaste life helps us to realize that sexual fulfillment is only a part of a committed married relationship that draws us closer to God. Leading a chaste life effectively prevents pregnancy before marriage, and therefore removes the possibility of abortion. More importantly, it means viewing sex as a sacred physical sign of a commitment between spouses and a gift from God. As a gift from God, the fruits of this gift are cause for joy – never an unwanted, unloved, or uncherished burden. Finally, honoring our God-made bodies helps us stay physically healthy by avoiding diseases that are transferred in promiscuous sexual relationships. Having sex with multiple partners is an easy way for sexually transmitted diseases to spread; over 30 million U.S. men and women currently suffer from one. Living a chaste life significantly reduces the likelihood of contracting these diseases.

Our society focuses too much on the sensual pleasure of sex, which is, at best, a fleeting happiness. It neglects the lasting fulfillment of God’s love and the honoring of God’s creation. Chastity is really a way of saying that sexuality is just one part of who we are as God’s creation. The lasting joy we seek is through a union with God; we are only fulfilled through His love.


James Brunts from Academy of the Sacred Heart and St. Charles Borromeo Parish (St. Louis University High School) - St. Joseph Evangelization Network Scholarship

Our world is constantly adapting. Every day new discoveries are made, new theories proved, and new trends formed. As a global community, we’re losing sight on what it means to live the way God intended. If we truly want to find happiness in our lives and live as God calls us, we must live a life of chastity. Chastity is not only the virtue of abstaining from sex before marriage, but also the virtue of loving others as we love ourselves and as we love God.

 Living with chastity allows us to connect on a more personal level with God and helps us in our journey to fulfill his plan for us. Additionally, if we live chastity, we ourselves will experience a more fruitful and beneficial marriage, should we be called to matrimony by God. As stated before, I believe our society’s grip on what is holy is fading, and it appears no one wants to live a chaste life anymore. Very quickly, our society is becoming more obsessed with sex, specifically, sex outside of marriage. Instead of two people bonding and eventually deciding to spend their lives with each other forever, many are “hooking up” for a few days, maybe even one night, and having sex outside of marriage. Unfortunately, many couples who seek sexual pleasure outside of marriage end up aborting their children, which we know to be a complete violation of God’s plan.

To me, living chastely is like giving a gift. It’s a gift we give our children, our spouse, and all of the people around us. When you are given a gift, you feel loved because you know someone was thinking about what you specifically would want to receive being the unique person you are. By giving the gift of chastity, we know how those surrounding us want to be loved and respected as individuals. I know that I will be living chastely throughout my life so that I remain holy and so my children, born or unborn, will have my gift of respect and the gift of life that God has granted us all.

Did you see us in the St. Louis Review?

Holy Trinity School in St. Ann was featured in the St. Louis Review for their Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline Program, a CCHD funded program! Click here to read more.

If you're looking to support CCHD in funding programs such as this, our annual collection is taking place this weekend, November 19th and 20th, as the second collection at mass. Please consider us in your donations and prayers!

2016 Annual Creative Writing Contest Winners Announced

2016 Finalists

On April 20, 2016, 125 finalists in the Annual Respect Life Creative Writing Contest gathered at the Cardinal Rigali Center to be recognized for their outstanding entries. 

These finalists, representing over 80 different Catholic elementary schools, parish schools of religion, and home schools, were selected from over 1100 entries. Finalists received a certificate of commendation, T-shirt, and book and were recognized by Bishop Edward Rice. Open to 8th graders in the Archdiocese, the contest asked students to respond to the prompt: Explain why living the virtue of chastity protects us from abortion and blesses us with true holiness, health, and happiness.

From these finalists, six students were recognized as honorable mention winners and five students were selected as scholarship winners. Honorable mention winners received a $250 award; the scholarship winners received a $1000 scholarship to be applied to their Catholic high school of choice. All honorable mention and scholarship winners also each received three tickets to the Annual Respect Life Convention in October, hosted by the Respect Life Apostolate.  

Honorable mention winners this year are:

  • Brianna Dierks from St. Patrick-Wentzville Grade School and Parish (Liberty High School)
  • Taylor Elmore, a homeschooler from St. Bridget of Kildare Parish & PSR (St. Francis Borgia High School)
  • Sara E. Franke from Queen of All Saints Grade School and Parish (Nerinx Hall)
  • Patrick Meehan, a homeschooler from St. Dominic Savio Parish (Bishop Du Bourg High School)
  • Peter Francis Montgomery from St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Homeschool and St. Clement of Rome Parish (St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Homeschool)
  • Harrison Petty from St. Clement of Rome Grade School and Parish (Saint Louis University High School)

Scholarship winners this year are:

  • Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell Scholarship: Maria Klassen from St. Joseph-Cottleville Grade School and Parish (St. Dominic High School)
  • Mary Forrestal Hennessey Scholarship: Daniel Vaporean, a homeschooler from St. Joseph-Manchester Parish (Homeschool)
  • Mr. & Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarships:
    • Madeline Derleth from St. Joseph-Cottleville Grade School and Parish (Barat Academy)
    • Elle Reardon from St. Clement of Rome Grade School and Parish (Villa Duchesne)
  • Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council Scholarship: Eric Meyer from St. Charles Borromeo Grade School and Parish (Chaminade College Prep)

To read the winning essays, click on each student's name.

Congratulations to all of our finalists, honorable mention winners,
and scholarship winners!!

 

Winners

Above our scholarship and honorable mention winners pose for a photograph with Bishop Edward M. Rice, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Michael Auchley, Missouri Knights of Columbus Respect Life Director, and Brian Cochran, nephew of the late Bishop Edward O'Donnell after whom one of the scholarships is named. Winners pictured from left to right are Madeline Derleth, Maria Klassen, Daniel Vaporean, Taylor Elmore, Harrison Petty, Peter Francis Montgomery, Elle Reardon, Sara Franke, Brianna Dierks, Patrick Meehan, and Eric Meyer.

 


Maria Klassen from St. Joseph Grade School in Cottleville (St. Dominic H.S.) - Bishop Edward J. O'Donnell Scholarship Winner

The atrocity of harming a child
Is brought to its very height
In this supreme outrage of natural law
And trespass of human rights.

To kill a small child who’s not even born
But was always a part of God’s plan
Shows a coldness of heart and a lack of respect
For every woman and man.

I think that it’s time that we recognize
Each individual’s worth
And treat other people the way they deserve
Even before their birth.

Abortion and chastity are so much alike
In more ways than we realize
For to hurt a small child or a woman or man
Is surely akin in God’s eyes.

Each child of God has a dignity
That we must learn to protect
To lead one away from the kingdom of Heaven
Is not something we should accept.

We must learn to put others before our own lives
And safeguard innocence at all costs
If we don’t save this treasure before it’s too late
It’s not long before all will be lost.

You deserve true love, and so does your child
And so does everyone
And to be satisfied with less than enough
Is to give in, and say that you’re done.

We should search for true love, and wait for the one
Who is truly and perfectly right.
One who will help us to follow God’s laws
And keep the right path in our sight.

Fight for love, and fight for life,
And fight for all that is true
For you may be sure, although you can’t see it
God is fighting for you.


Daniel Vaporean, a homeschooler from St. Joseph in Manchester Parish (Home School) - Mary Forrestal Hennessey Scholarship Winner

Good versus Evil

Each day of our lives we bravely fight on a battlefield where evil clashes with good. Piously, St. Paul who preached to the Ephesians, advised to wear the spiritual “armor of God” for protection in battle. Utilizing the spiritual armor, which consists of the shield of faith, the breastplate of righteousness, and the helmet of salvation will help us to live chaste lives. By living chastely, while preventing the evil of abortion, we will be blessed with true holiness and our lives filled with health and happiness.

The shield of faith protects chastity by helping us to live as God planned, which is through obedience to the Ten Commandments and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Since God’s plan for marriage is the uniting, both physically and mentally, of one man and one woman, it is important that they commit to each other freely, fruitfully, faithfully, and forever. Living according to this plan, sexuality would only be shared by married couples who truly love each other. This would prevent the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy, which may lead to an abortion. The breastplate of righteousness assists in prudence and practicing self-control. Willfully avoiding movies, music, and pornography, which encourage unchaste behaviors, keeps our souls holy as we exercise good judgment. Dressing modestly avoids attention being drawn to our sexual bodies and allows friendships to develop which are not based on lust. In keeping our bodies chaste with the helmet of salvation, we will have healthy bodies and avoid the risk of getting sexual diseases which may cause suffering and death. Valiantly remembering to wear our spiritual armor, we will be protected by God and His teachings to live a life of chastity.

God desires the best for us. When we love as He wants us to love, we experience true joy and happiness. We will be content because we know we are following God’s unsurpassable plan. Abortion will be no more. Living our lives in this way will help us increase in virtue and holiness. By faithfully wearing our spiritual armor and living chastely, evil will be defeated and good will win!


Madeline Derleth from St. Joseph in Cottleville Grade School (Barat Academy) - Mr. & Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarship Winner

A Smile on God’s Face

There are many virtues that make us unique,
But chastity really requires us to think.
Created in God’s image we shall always cherish,
But forgetting chastity will cause us to perish.
Pure and holy our bodies must remain,
For if we forget, then a life of pain.
Our bodies were created in God’s image of great beauty.
Protecting it and keeping it safe is our duty.
True love waits for that special one,
Whether that be a spouse, staying single, or life as a nun.

Our society seems as if it has forgotten this virtue,
Saying it is alright to do things that hurt you.
Having sex on a first date,
It’s ok, you don’t have to wait.
Doesn’t anyone see the lies they say?
Innocent lives and the prices they’ll pay?
So many abortions because of this sin,
Giving up chastity so Satan will win.
Statistics don’t lie, they speak the truth,
So many abortions from those unchaste youth.
Eighty-three percent of abortions that take place,
Are on women who have not married in God’s holy space.
Forgetting chastity doesn’t only hurt you,
Innocent babies are suffering too.
Abortion is forever, you can’t go back,
So remember your worth to keep you on track.

Your health is important and must be treated with care,
But abortion will scar you and recovery is rare.
Your body and mind will never be the same,
Stay chaste and remember your health isn’t a game.
True happiness doesn’t come from what you get this minute,
Staying true to yourself and your values will win it.
Remember to think before you act,
Because once you do, you can never go back.
All life is precious and valuable too,
So stay chaste to be a happier you.

Remember that God loves you so much,
Remaining chaste will help keep you in touch.
Holiness is your goal to achieve,
Keeping your body pure is what you must believe.
Not only will you be filled with grace,
But you will put a smile on God’s face.


Elle Reardon from St. Clement of Rome Grade School (Villa Duchesne) - Mr. & Mrs. George Kletzker Scholarship Winner

As a teen, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by mixed messages related to moral issues. The idea that chastity protects us from abortion might initially sound unlikely. Choosing to have sex doesn’t necessarily mean someone supports abortion. Although in reality, the compromises made in deciding to live an unchaste life can lead to further compromises in believing abortion is acceptable. Chastity is crucial for prohibiting abortion because it prevents the circumstances where someone would seek an abortion. Chastity protects us from worrying about unplanned pregnancies and feeling pressured to resort to an abortion.

Chastity blesses us with true holiness, health, and happiness because it honors a commitment to yourself, your future spouse, and the Holy Spirit. It may seem like chastity is depriving us from happiness because of social media’s influence giving us an inside view of what others are doing minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day. Jenny went to Paris! Joe got a hoverboard! The latest posts make it appear as though happiness is found in having new and exciting experiences. Your life can look boring in comparison, making you doubt your own choices, leaving you with fear of missing out. It may distort your perception of what is morally acceptable because “everyone else is doing it.” What isn’t’ seen in those online posts is how one teenager cried herself to sleep feeling ashamed for having sex or how another teen felt scared to learn he had a sexually transmitted disease. There was also the girl whose parents were mourning because she felt forced to have an abortion for fear of embarrassment. Chastity truly protects us from negative consequences.

Our relationships are strengthened by valuing the gift of chastity. True happiness is found in the joy of honoring God and in being mindful of moments in life that give genuine meaning to your beliefs. I believe abortion is morally wrong and that chastity is the first step in saving millions of unborn lives. I challenge you to step up and commit to honor the virtue of chastity as your personal vow to protect the unborn.


Eric Meyer from St. Charles Borromeo Grade School (Chaminade College Prep) - Knights of Columbus Missouri State Council Scholarship Winner

The Past, Present, and Future of Chastity

When I was younger, life seemed simple. My parents made all of my decisions. There were few differences between the boys and girls in my class. I never thought about chastity because I didn’t know what it was and it was not an important issue. I learned the difference between right and wrong, but the situations I faced never seemed life-changing. I realize now how easy things were back then and sometimes wish they were still that way.

Now times are different. My parents are beginning to trust me to make my own decisions. Some decisions are small, like what to eat for dinner. Other choices aren’t so simple. For example, whether to join in when other boys are behaving poorly so I can look like I am part of the “popular crowd.” As a teenager, I am starting to understand what the virtue of chastity means. Chastity refers to having pure thoughts and actions. The relationships I have with my female classmates are different now because we are changing physically and emotionally. I must remember to treat them respectfully and not make crude comments while texting or in person. Chastity is also not having sexual relations before marriage. When I am older and have a girlfriend, chastity will be more of an issue. But I know if I stay strong in my faith and live a chaste life, I will not have to worry about STDs, pregnancies, or abortions. This seems like an easy decision, doesn’t it?

In the future, I hope to get married. It would make me happy to tell my wife that I remained chaste and I would love for her to say the same thing to me. It would be nice to begin our life together knowing that our past decisions will lead to holiness, health, and happiness in our marriage. I think that being a role model for my children is also important. If throughout our lives we stay close to God and practice the virtue of chastity, there will be no need for abortions and we will have a life full of blessings.

 

 

 

 

The Year of Mercy and the Gospel of Life

On April 11, 2015, Pope Francis declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy in Misericordiae vultusWhen one thinks of mercy, particularly in the context of our Catholic faith, forgiveness and the Sacrament of Confession come to mind. Something deeper, however, is going on. At its core, this Jubilee Year of Mercy focuses us on restoring our dignity as sons and daughters of God; it is intimately connected with the Gospel of Life and its call for a greater respect and defense of human dignity.

In declaring the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis stated, “This Holy Year will bring to the fore the richness of Jesus’ mission echoed in the words of the prophet: to bring a word and gesture of consolation to the poor, to proclaim liberty to those bound by new forms of slavery in modern society, to restore sight to those who can see no more because they are caught up in themselves, to restore dignity to all those from who it has been robbed” (Misericordiae vultus, no. 16). Yet, how does a focus on mercy restore human dignity?

Human Dignity and Mercy

Perhaps the clearest connection between the Gospel of Life and the concept of mercy can be found in St. John Paul II’s encyclical Dives in Misericordia, promulgated in 1980. In reflecting on the parable of the Prodigal Son, The Return of the Prodigal Sonhe focuses on the interior disposition of the son who realizes that the greater loss he has suffered was the loss of his status as a son in his father’s house. The loss of the son’s dignity would certainly be warranted under the order of justice for not only squandering his father’s material goods but also by offending his father in his actions. The father, however, is faithful to the love he has in his fatherhood. Love is the well-spring from which the mercy of the father springs. This love causes the father to be concerned about the dignity of his son. Despite the material loss caused by the son, the father sees the greater good to be saved: the son’s humanity. The father is able to rejoice because his greatest concern is of the dignity of the son; he cannot help but continually await his son’s return.

From this reflection, we see that, fundamentally, mercy, rooted in love, restores human dignity. St. John Paul II puts it this way: “Mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man” (Dives in Misericordia, no. 6). This type of mercy, rather than humiliating or causing uneasiness, restores one to his or her proper dignity. We see the attitude of the father not as one seeking to judge or condemn the prodigal son, however much he may have deserved it; rather, the father is filled with joy. The son is able to appreciate who he is and his actions in the light of truth.

A Divine Dignity

This dignity is also what lies at the center of the Gospel of Life, that is, a profound relationship between human beings and God. The Gospel of Life is about proclaiming the desire of God to be in an everlasting communion with us, granting us a dignity “little less than a god, crowned…with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:6). As St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote, “Man, as a being, is of no account; he is dust, grass, vanity. But once he is adopted by the God of the universe as a son, he becomes part of the family of that Being, whose excellence and greatness no one can see, hear, or understand. What words, thoughts, or flight of the spirit can praise the superabundance of this grace? Man surpasses his nature: mortal, he becomes immortal; perishable, he becomes imperishable; fleeting, he becomes eternal; human, he becomes divine” (De Beatitudinibus, Oratio VII).

Merciful Like the Father

This call to share in the very life of God is the source of the incomparable dignity and worth of each human person. It is this dignity which we seek to uphold and defend in working to end abortion, prevent euthanasia, and in serving the poor. Every person is created for and designed to exist in an eternal relationship with God. Violations of a person’s dignity inhibit one’s ability to freely live in that communion.

In Evangelium vitae, St. John Paul II points out that, even after Cain slays his brother, God is still merciful to him, protecting and defending him from others wishing to kill him, even those seeking to avenge the death of Abel. He says that “not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this” showing for “the paradoxical mystery of the merciful justice of God” (Evangelium vitae, no. 9). Even in the face of grave sin which ripped away another’s dignity, God remains merciful.

There is a reason why feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful and so forth are called works of mercy: they restore dignity to those from whom it has been taken. As Pope Francis states, “Mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action towards us. He does not limit himself merely to affirming his love, but makes it visible and tangible.” (Misericordiae vultus, no. 9) These acts, in imitation of Christ, speak of the mercy of the Father and make visible the great love the Father has for each and every one of his children.

Building a Culture of Life is therefore intimately tied with being heralds of mercy. We bring mercy to the unborn child at risk of abortion for they are on “the outermost fringes of society” with no voice. We bring mercy to those impacted by abortion by speaking of the peace and forgiveness found in Christ Jesus. We bring mercy to those sentenced to death, recalling the mercy God had on Cain in Genesis. We bring mercy to those seeking physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia or those who are at risk of being victims by confirming their dignity as sons and daughters of God and sharing in their suffering.

Thus, as Pope Francis calls for the Church to “announce the mercy of God,” it is truly a command to recognize the God-given dignity of every human person and to help them realize it in themselves. To do so may require stepping outside of our comfort zones or breaking down our lens of indifference to see situations from a different perspective. By being “merciful like the Father” in charitable acts towards others, invitations to return to the Sacraments, prayers, and evangelization, may we reveal the love of God for every person.

This article originally appeared on Catholic Stand and is reprinted with permission.

What is CCHD?

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by funding community programs that encourage independence. CCHD does this by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families, and communities. Click here for more information on the mission of CCHD.

CCHD PosterPrograms that assist those that are marginalized to speak out and improve their communities are funded by the generous support of Catholics in the United States. Each year, Catholics around the country donate to the annual CCHD collection, which is held the weekend before Thanksgiving. Money raised from the collection is then distributed to community organizations to support their anti-poverty initiatives. To qualify for CCHD grant money, applicant organizations must not, in any way, support or promote activities that work against Catholic values. Grants to local anti-poverty efforts are screened, awarded, and monitored in close partnership with local Catholic dioceses. Click here to learn more about how collection funds are distributed to anti-poverty programs. 

This year, the collection to support CCHD will be held on November 19th and 20th. You are essential to its success. Your generous donations will give those in poverty the support they need to make lasting changes. Together, we can make a difference both locally and nationally. Please donate prayerfully and generously.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, "The Eucharist commits us to the poor" (#1397). The Eucharist, celebrated as a community, teaches us about human dignity, calls us to right relationship with God, ourselves and others, and sends us on a mission to help transform our communities, neighborhoods, and world. The work of CCHD is an example of "Eucharistic" living. 

"To love God and neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means seeing in every person the face of the Lord to be served, to serve him concretely. And you are, dear brothers and sisters, the face of Jesus." - Pope Francis

From the USCCB website.