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German bishops discuss intercommunion of Lutheran, Catholic spouses

Munich, Germany, Feb 22, 2018 / 10:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Reinhard Marx has announced that the German bishops' conference will publish a pastoral handout for married couples that allows Protestant spouses of Catholics "in individual cases" and "under certain conditions" to receive Holy Communion, provided they "affirm the Catholic faith in the Eucharist".

According to the press report of the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, the handout is primarily aimed at pastoral workers and is to be understood as a tool for pastoral situations, "to consider the concrete situation and come to a responsible decision about the possibility of the non-Catholic partner to receive Communion".

The announcement was made "after intensive debate" at the conclusion of the general assembly of the German bishops' conference, which was held Feb. 19 - 22 in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt, and attended by 62 members of the bishops' conference under the leadership of conference chairman Cardinal Marx.

The press release declares that its premise is that "in individual cases, the spiritual hunger for receiving Communion together in interdenominational marriages can be so strong that it could jeopardise the marriage and the faith of the spouse". The statement goes on to say that this applies all the more to spouses who "already want to live out their marriage very consciously" as a Christian couple.

The central message of the handout is "that everyone in a marriage that binds denominations," after a "mature examination in a spiritual conversation with their priest or another person charged with pastoral care, that has come to a decision of conscience to affirm the Faith of the Catholic Church as well as thereby concluding a 'grave spiritual need' as well as fulfilling the desire to receive the Eucharist may approach the Lord's table and receive Communion."

Cardinal Marx' statement emphasises: "We are talking about decisions in individual cases that require a careful spiritual discernment."

The handout is expected to be published in a few weeks' time.

The Code of Canon Law states that in the danger of death or if “some other grave necessity urges it,” Catholic ministers licitly administer penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick to Protestants “who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.”

The bishops' announcement follows a discussion of such a proposal at a previous general assembly held in the spring of 2017.

According to Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg in a report in the German diocesan newspaper "Tag des Herrn" from March 2017, Schick is quoted as saying that the bishops were seeking "a responsible decision" on the question of non-Catholic partners in interdenominational marriages in individual cases by pastoral means.


On Dec. 31 2016, the website of the Lutheran ecclesial community in Germany reported that Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück was hoping for a recognition of what was already the case, namely, that in many places, Protestants went to Communion with their Catholic spouses. "We have to give a foundation to what often already is in place in practice", the website quotes Bode from an interview with the Lutheran press agency EPD.


Bode, who also attended the 2014-2015 Synods of Bishops on the family, was elected vice-chairman to the German bishops' conference Sept. 26, 2017.

 

Annual Memorial Mass Honors Unborn, Helps Women, Families Facing Crisis Pregnancies

Over 700 Catholics and members of the Respect Life Movement gathered at the Cathedral Basilica on Saturday, Jan. 27 for the RLA's Annual Memorial Mass and prayer vigil. Together, they solemnly remembered the near 60 million unborn lives lost to legalized abortion since 1973, and the countless women, men, and families whose lives have been tragically impacted.

St. Louis Auxiliary Bishop Mark Rivituso celebrated the Mass and challenged and inspired all in attendance to "pray always so that we may indeed be a powerful witness to the Gospel of Life in all of our activities and events for pro-life." The Bishop also personally received donations from parishes throughout the Archdiocese to the LifeLine Coalition, a group of social service and pro-life agencies that help 10,000-plus women and families facing crisis pregnancies each year.

A Rose Procession was held right before Mass in which one person born each year since 1973 carried up a single rose to represent the lives lost during his or her birth year. The last person in the procession was an expectant mother whose unborn child represented 2018.

 

Directly following Mass, nearly 500 people also took part in a peaceful rosary walk to and from Planned Parenthood. Bishop Rivituso led the pro-life witnesses of all ages in prayer which included seminarians, priests, religious, young adults, families with young children, singles, and seniors from many different backgrounds. This group included the 150 members of the Crusaders for Life from Chicago who attend the event each year as part of their Midwest respect life pilgrimage.

The Annual Memorial Mass has been held each January since 2000 near the Roe v. Wade anniversary. The event is part of the RLA's Helpers of God's Precious Infants program, in which volunteers gather each month to pray for all those impacted by abortion and give public witness to the sanctity of human life. Learn more here.

RLA Accounts Croodinator Marlene Kren Honored for Seven Years of Service

The Respect Life Apostolate extends best wishes and congratulations to Marlene Kren upon her retirement as our part-time accounts coordinator.

Marlene faithfully helped us with all of our financial, donation and bookkeeping needs, overseeing convention registration and ad sales, and staffing various pro-life events around the archdiocese.


Marlene (third from left) who was also our behind-the-scenes prayer warrior as a daily Mass goer and office decorator extraorinaire. She joined the staff in 2011, serving the needs of the St. Louis Respect Life Movement for seven years. Executive Director Karen Nolkemper and the RLA staff will greatly miss Marlene's prayerful presence, amazing organizational ability, and gentle sense of humor.

She'll continue her pro-life mission as an RLA volunteer and devoting her time to her grandbabies, children, and husband Dave.

RLA Executive Director on STLToday.com: "Catholics are Bound to Accept Church Teaching on Abortion"

By Karen Nolkemper

Many Catholic politicians and commentators used the March for Life on Jan. 19 and teh recent failure of the U.S. Senate to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to publicly contradict the very tenets of their own faith on the sanctity of human life. It must be noted that the Catholic Church is opposed to abortion as "gravely contrary to the moral law." Catholics are bound to accept this teaching and cannot compromise for the sake of pragmatism.

St. Mother Teresa once said abortion is the "greatest destroyer of love and peace." Pope Francis has bluntly called abortion the "murder of an innocent person."

Women in difficult situations facing an unplanned pregnanciy need not resort to violence against their child. Numerous organizations, including the Catholic Church, stand ready to assist women materially and spiritually. We offer hope, healing, and forgiveness to anyone wounded by an abortion experience.

Regardless of the political climate, we find hope in Pope John Paul II's prophetic words: "In God's plan, life will be victorious."

See her original Letter to the Editor here.

What to do if you're too ashamed to go to Confession

Madrid, Spain, Feb 22, 2018 / 03:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- While Reconciliation is intended to allow Christ’s victory to overcome sin in our lives, what happens when shame over one’s sins is so great that it keeps people away from the sacrament?

The famous Spanish theologian Father José Antonio Fortea discussed this phenomenon, and practical solutions to it, in a blog post.

Normally, a sense of Christ’s mercy should be enough to help people overcome their shame and go to Confession, in order to receive forgiveness and healing.

However, in some cases, Fr. Fortea acknowledged, people are overwhelmed by their sins, and this shame becomes “a wall” keeping them away from Reconciliation.

“They would rather make a 100-mile pilgrimage than have to confess face-to-face certain things they did that are terribly and frightfully humiliating to them,” he said, reflecting on the torment that faces some penitents who struggle approaching the sacrament.

The Spanish priest first pointed out the importance of priests offering fatherly compassion on those who have “these burdens on their consciences.”

He also noted the importance of ensuring truly anonymous confessions. In each city, he said, “there ought to be at least one confessional where instead of a grill, there is a metal sheet with small holes, making it totally impossible to see the person making their confession.”

The person confessing should not be visible to the priest as they approach or leave, he continued. If there is a window on the priest’s door, it should not be transparent.

“With these measures, the vast majority of the faithful can resolve the problem of shame,” Fr. Fortea said.

But for those “truly very rare” cases where shame is still a major obstacle, even with anonymous confessionals, additional steps can be taken.

In these instances of extreme shame, the person can “make an anonymous phone call to a priest in the city and tell him about this problem.” Confession itself cannot take place over the phone, but “in many cases, the phone conversation will be enough so the penitent can get up his confidence and can approach the kind of above-mentioned confessional.”

If the penitent still finds that the shame of mentioning his sins is too great to bear, he can arrange for a written confession with the priest.

Fr. Fortea said that in several of the confessionals in his city of Alcalá de Henares, Spain, “it's possible for the penitent to move the screen slightly, just a fraction of an inch, and slip in a piece of paper.”

He offered guidelines for such written confessions: they should generally not be longer than one page, sins should be written “in a clear and concise manner,” or if possible, should be typed for clarity in reading.

“The priest will give his counsel, the penance and absolution without needing to bring up any questions for the penitent. In this case asking questions would be counterproductive,” he reflected.

While the general rule is that confession should be vocal, it can be done through writing in some cases, the priest said. He noted that those who are deaf or mute have always been permitted to make written confessions.

And in the case of insurmountable shame, this would also be licit, he said. “A psychological inability can be just as real as a physical one.”

This article was originally published on CNA Aug. 18, 2016.

In Aleppo, a heroine of endurance

Aleppo, Syria, Feb 21, 2018 / 03:23 pm (Aid to the Church in Need).- Annie Artin, 15, is a lonely girl who lives with her mother, Silva Owadis, 37, her grandmother, and aunt in a modest but new apartment in Aleppo, Syria.

The family has lived there since the middle of 2016, after moving a number of times, each time because neighborhoods had come under attack in the battle for control of the city.

Annie is lonely because she had to move so often and change schools, plus her father disappeared from her life. This Armenian Catholic family has no regular income and depends on support from local Catholic sources for its livelihood.

Annie is a tenth grader at a school run by her Church, Al-Markazia. She loves going to school and studies very hard.

Here is her story, in her own words:

“I came up against serious problems with both French and math. While I was the top student in chemistry, my math scores suffered a lot at one point. I attribute this problem to my teacher who did not have a streamlined approach to teaching. To make matters worse, my mother didn’t have enough money to pay for a math tutor. There were difficult circumstances, too, with many mortar attacks on areas very close to my school. Fortunately, we survived the terrible consequences of war after a long period of having to stay home from school.

“Even before the war started, things had not been going well between my mother and father; he was unemployed and rather lazy. Things got worse when the fighting started – they clashed every day. Eventually, my father decided to go to Armenia, supposedly in search of work and finding a way to make better life for himself and his family. He ended up disappearing, no longer responding to our communications and calls; he didn’t even try to ask about us.

“After a while, visiting a government center for some paperwork, my mother was shocked to discover that my father had divorced her and married another woman. My mother collapsed upon learning the news and got sick. I was left with no financial support owing to the fact that my father couldn’t care less about my school requirements. I was in dire need of financial help not only to pay tuition, but also to secure the basic necessities of life.  

“My father wasn’t even worried about us after a mortar shell hit the side of our apartment. To the best of my knowledge, fathers are not only supposed to be fully committed to their families, they are also in charge of providing financial support. Life dealt us heavy blows; my mother had lost her job and we were left homeless in the middle of very difficult circumstances.

“I was hoping my father would call to inquire about our situation, but there was no response from his side. Despite being in touch with him in the beginning after he first left, he vanished without a trace a few months later. In an attempt to survive hardships after being without food for quite so long, we tried desperately to ask my father for financial support, but he was reluctant to do anything for us. Even a few loaves of bread were not available to keep us alive for one single day. My heartless father kept giving us unjustifiable excuses, such as road blocks.  

“At one point, I fell gravely ill; I was also psychologically bruised as I had been fatherless, homeless, and penniless for a long time. My mother pleaded with the doctor repeatedly to call my father and ask him to call me to make me feel better, yet there came no answer. To be frank, I would never have survived without God’s blessings.

“My mother has been with me every step of the way in unimaginable situations. I owe my success to her long-term effort to keep me going despite the challenges. Despite being envious of my friends who had private tutors and generous fathers, I never lost faith in God. I kept wearing religious symbols to offer supplications to God. I clung onto hope that God would never forget me. I always felt comfortable after my prayers, confident that I would stay safe no matter what happened.

“I did not know what to do – but God did not leave us; he was with us in every sad moment; he used to send us many people who helped us; they were angels in our lives.

“I have always dreamed of moving to Tartus, where I was born. However, the prospect of living abroad has been haunting me because of the scarcity of job opportunities in Syria. Following long discussions with my mom, however, I came to realize that this lovely idea would be hard to pull off. No matter what, I will never relent in my pursuit of being a pharmacist; and faith in God is carrying me. And should I ever leave the country, I would hope to return to Syria as soon as security and stability are restored.

 


Fawzy Basily writes for Aid to the Church in Need, an international papal charity providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org

Attacks against India's Christians doubled in 2017

New Delhi, India, Feb 21, 2018 / 12:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Compared to 2016, attacks against Christians in India by Hindu extremists more than doubled in 2017 amid efforts to label the religious minority a danger to the state.

The persecution ranges from threats and physical violence to destruction of church property, but false allegations against Christians have also increased.

"It is a new trend to accuse Christians of serious crimes," said Shibu Thomas, founder of the ecumenical forum Persecution Relief.

The allegations are "a clear indicat[ion] that those opposed to Christians want to portray them as serious threats to the nation's safety and security," he told UCA News.

According to a report from Persecution Relief, last year 736 incidents of attacks occurred throughout India compared to the 348 that happened in 2016. Most of these are "daring physical attacks," the report said, but the victims of these attacks were also accused of sedition, discrimination, and destruction of religious property.

"When victims reach for police help, they find themselves accused of violations. … This is a dangerous sign. Unfortunately, the police are in league with fanatics and elects members support their actions," Thomas said.

Attacks against Christians have increased since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won the general election in 2014, naming Narendra Modi as prime minister.

The party has now the largest representation in the country's parliament. A majority of the attacks stem from four of India's 29 states - Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Chhattisgarh - three of which are governed by the BJP.

"Christians are not safe anymore in India under the current situation," said Anil Andrias, who leads a protestant congregation in Uttar Pradesh.

Andrias told UCA News that the persecution against Christians could be physical attacks and false allegations, but he also said Christians have been denied government services, such as collecting public water or using public roads.

Christians make up 2.3 percent of India's population, with 80 percent identifying as Hindu.

Bishops praise Christian witness of evangelist Billy Graham

Charlotte, N.C., Feb 21, 2018 / 11:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The evangelist Billy Graham died Wednesday at his home in Montreat, N.C., his family has announced. He was 99.

Born in Charlotte, N.C., Graham was ordained a Southern Baptist minister in 1939. During his work in ministry, he wrote more than 30 books and conducted the annual Billy Graham Crusades until his retirement from active ministry in 2005. His last book, Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond the Now, was published in 2015.

During his time in ministry, Graham insisted that his crusades and rallies be racially integrated, and was friends with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 1981, Graham first met with St. John Paul II, who said that the two were “brothers.” They would meet again several times. When John Paul II died in 2005, Graham said he believed that the Pope had been “the most influential voice for morality and peace in the world during the last 100 years,” and praised his “strong Catholic faith” and perseverance through his illnesses.

Prominent Catholics reacted with sadness to Graham’s death, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. In a statement on the archdiocesan website, Dolan wrote that while his family was Catholic, there was a level of respect for Graham’s work in bringing people to Christ.

“There was no question that the Dolans were a Catholic family, firm in our faith, but in our household there was always respect and admiration for Billy Graham and the work he was doing to bring people to God,” said Dolan.

“As an historian, my admiration for him only grew as I studied our nation’s religious past, and came to appreciate even more the tremendous role he played in the American evangelical movement.  May the Lord that Billy Graham loved so passionately now grant him eternal rest."

Dolan’s sentiment was echoed by Catholic Herald editor Damian Thompson, who praised Graham’s evolution on Catholicism. Thompson called Graham a “fine man, a powerful force for good.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Billy Graham started out as an typical evangelical anti-Catholic and ended up acclaiming St John Paul II as the world’s greatest witness to Christianity. A fine man, a powerful force for good: rest in peace.</p>&mdash; Damian Thompson (@holysmoke) <a href="https://twitter.com/holysmoke/status/966317143523495936?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 21, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, offered condolences to the Graham family and said that he was praying for the repose of his soul. DiNardo praised Graham for his work spreading the gospel around the country, and said he was thankful for his ministry.

“His faith and integrity invited countless thousands around the world into a closer relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God for the ministry of Billy Graham,” said DiNardo.

Dr. Robert George, a professor at Princeton University and a former chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, compared Graham to St. John Paul II and other religious figures, saying that while he was “firmly rooted” in his denomination, Graham was able to reach all people.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Billy Graham was like John Paul II, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Martin Luther King, Jr. He was firmly rooted in a particular tradition of faith, yet somehow spoke to--and in a sense belonged to--all of us.</p>&mdash; Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) <a href="https://twitter.com/McCormickProf/status/966320319681187841?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 21, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Fr. Scheid Players Open 39th Season with - The Man Who Came to Dinner

The Catholic Youth Apostolate is pleased to announce that the Fr. William Scheid Players will open their 39th season with The Man Who Came to Dinner, a Broadway favorite about a noted cultural critic and radio show personality who, while on a national speaking tour visits the Ohio home of the prominent and conservative Stanley family. He slips on the ice, breaks his hip, and the local doctor says he must remain confined there. Whiteside turns the Stanley household upside down, forcing everyone in town to cater to his egotistical demands. A three-ring circus of machinations and celebrity appearances ensues.

This year’s cast features two priests of the Archdiocese, Monsignor Norb Ernst of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish and Fr. Bill Wigand of Regina Cleri, along with talented adult performers from the Archdiocese.

Performance dates are:

  • Friday, March 16 at 7:30 pm
  • Saturday, March 17 at 7:30 pm
  • Sunday, March 18 at 2:00 pm

We have a wonderful new venue for the spring play. All performances will be at the Heagney Theatre on the campus of Nerinx Hall High School, 530 E. Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves, Missouri 63119.

All advanced tickets are $12 for reserved seating. Tickets are available at the door for $15. The theatre provides ample seating and parking. To order tickets, please mail your check along with the Ticket order form. For additional ticket information, please contact Ann Madden at annmaddenstl1@gmail.com or call (314) 605-7520.

To further help support the Catholic Youth Apostolate you may wish to consider placing an ad in our program book. This is a great opportunity to send a congratulatory message to one of the performers or to bring awareness of your business or ministry. Please download Ad Book Order Form for further information. The deadline for placing an ad is March 7. For more information about placing an ad, please contact Debby Mooney at (314) 853-7651 or email debbymo@aol.com.

All proceeds from performances benefit the ministries of the Catholic Youth Apostolate. Thank you for your continued support!!  We hope to see you at the show!!

These St. Louis Women Describe Why They Are a Part of the March for Life

Three Different Perspectives Weave a Rich Pro-Life Witness

Anna Jones

After attending the Generation Life pilgrimage for the first time as a freshman, Anna Jones marched back to St. Louis, determined to start a pro-life club at Kirkwood High School.

At the end of their pilgrimage, Generation Life teens were invited to make a personal commitment to life issues -- thus how Pioneers for Life was born.

Finish reading Anna's story here.

Pam Coughlin

When Pam Coughlin called to reserve a spot for the Missouri Life Caravan, she didn't know a single person on the trip to Washington, D.C. But as it turns out, Coughlin was well-known by members of Missouri Right to Life, which organizes the annual bus trip.

Missouri Right to Life had come to Coughlin's defense, when in the mid-1990s she was fired from her teaching job as an associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis. With a doctorate in social work and master's in nursing, Coughlin taught a class called "Child Development Through the Life Cycle." During that class, she showed students "The Silent Scream," a 1984 documentary that used ultrasound images to show the horrors of abortion in graphic detail.

"I gave them the opportunity to stay or leave," recalls the now 82-year-old member of St. Justin Martyr Parish in Sunset Hills. "Four of the girls left the room, went to the administration and tried to get it stopped."

Read the rest of Pam's story here.

Alexis Carrasquillo & Zita Myers-Carrasquillo

Alexis Carrasquillo believes that "everyone deserves a life." That's why she was inspired to attend the March for Life with Rosati-Kain High School.

It was the first march for Alexa and her mother, Zita Myers-Carrasquillo, who came along as a chaperone. Alexis called the experience "awesome," although she said "there were some things I didn't want to see," referring to some of the graphic images of aborted babies along the march route.

For Alexis and her mother, taking a stand for life of the unborn has been the newest link in their efforts to support life at all stages.

Read the rest of their story here.

(All three stories were written by St. Louis Review's Jennifer Brinker; photo collage by Lisa Johnston)