Thursday, January 31, 2008

Catholic Identity Jeopardized, Denver

  • ZE08013006 - 2008-01-30Permalink:
    Denver's Biggest Charity Group Threatened
    Catholic Identity Jeopardized by "Anti-Discrimination" Bill
    DENVER, Colorado, JAN. 30, 2008 ( The largest provider of charitable and social services in the Denver area is threatened by the draft of a new bill that could force the organization to ignore religious beliefs in hiring personnel.In an editorial published today, the president of Catholic Charities defended the rights of his organization. Christopher Rose wrote that helping the poor and suffering is "not just the government's business. […] It's been the business of religious communities for centuries, and quite honestly, we often do it better and with fewer resources. That's why the government partners with us in the first place."Rose's letter is the latest step in a debate over a draft bill called HB 1080. The bill deals with legislation the Colorado bicameral passed last year to prevent discrimination in hiring based on sexual orientation or religion. That legislation was amended, giving an exemption to religious organizations and nonprofits. HB 1080 seeks to scrap the amendment.Archbishop Charles Chaput, in his weekly column of Jan. 23, said that Catholic Charities has a right to its religious identity.The Denver prelate said that "Catholic Charities has no interest at all in generic do-goodism; on the contrary, it’s an arm of Catholic social ministry. When it can no longer have the freedom it needs to be 'Catholic,' it will end its services. This is not idle talk. I am very serious."Archbishop Chaput went on to say: "Catholic organizations like Catholic Charities are glad to partner with the government and eager to work cooperatively with anyone of good will. But not at the cost of their religious identity. "Government certainly has the right and the power to develop its own delivery system for human services. But if groups like Catholic Charities carry part of society’s weight, then it’s only reasonable and just that they be allowed to be truly 'Catholic' -- or they cannot serve."Behind the scenesThe archbishop concluded his column voicing concern that the Anti-Defamation League was rumored to have a hand in drafting HB 1080.Bruce DeBoskey, the regional director of the league, responded Jan. 24 with a letter protesting the archbishop's column and acknowledging that the Anti-Defamation league did help draft the bill. Rose, Catholic Charities' director, responded to DeBoskey's claims with today's letter.He said that "what Mr. DeBoskey portrays as discrimination is actually the legitimate practice of faith-based agencies seeking to hire people of like faith to ensure that their mission of serving the poor is faithfully undertaken."Rose agreed with DeBoskey that Catholic Charities is not the only organization threatened by the bill. He cited other organizations, including Jewish Family Services, which would also be affected."DeBoskey notes that Archbishop Chaput would oppose a religious test for employees who work for the government. That's true," Rose affirmed. "But in regard to HB 1080, it's also irrelevant. "Jewish Family Services doesn't become a division of the U.S. Department of Human Services because it counsels low-income persons while receiving Medicaid dollars. […] If they do, then every private citizen becomes a government actor upon reaching age 65 and receiving Social Security benefits. And every taxpayer becomes a federal agency when he or she receives a tax rebate this spring. Receiving partial -- and sometimes inadequate -- compensation from the state to perform a public service does not transform a private agency into the government.""The real effect of HB 1080 is to purge religious engagement from the public square by either religiously neutering religious service organizations or forcing them to abandon their ministries in cooperation with government," Rose added.In RomeArchbishop Paul Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, commented on Archbishop Chaput's face-off with the Colorado government when he presented Benedict XVI's Lenten papal message Tuesda, which focuses on almsgiving."This bishop is doing the right thing," the National Catholic Reporter recounted. "Theologically, charitable activity and the good deeds of the faithful are always connected to the proclamation of the Word. […] Service is always tied to testimony to the Word of God, and no one must break this connection.""This points to a great contemporary problem," Archbishop Cordes said. "Thanks to the generosity of many donors, the charitable agencies of the Church are able to do their work. But this carries a risk that the spirit of a Catholic agency can become secularized, doing only what the donor has in view."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Church's Aid Agencies Seen as Exemplary

Church's Aid Agencies Seen as Exemplary

Cardinal: Low Operating Costs Mean Dollars Get to Needy

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 29, 2008 ( The Church's charitable organizations are models to imitate, in the sense that their low operating costs mean nearly all donated monies go directly to the needy, said a Vatican official.

Cardinal Paul Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the agency that coordinates and promotes the world's Catholic institutions of assistance and volunteering, affirmed this today when he presented Benedict XVI's 2008 Lenten message.

In a press conference, the cardinal said that despite the fact that "the fight against misery, from the financial point of view, registers successes, […] it is necessary to highlight that, for example, the structural costs of aid organizations are sometimes surprisingly high."

"On occasions," he continued, "internal costs represent just under 50% of revenue."

The cardinal said it would be useful if appeals for aid launched after disasters like the tsunami, "would not only indicate the bank account to deposit donations, but also the percentage which the agencies retain to maintain their institution."

This, he said, "would help the donor to discern how his gift arrives to the needy."

However, Cardinal Cordes affirmed, "The internal costs of the Church's aid agencies can be considered exemplary."

He offered as an example the 2006 administrative costs of Caritas Italy, which represented 9% of donations; the Sovereign Order of Malta, 7%; and Aid to the Church in Need, 6%.

The John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel and the Populorum Progressio Foundation in 2006 both spent only 3% of donations on logistic and operating costs.

The Pontifical Council Cor Unum, born from the initiative of Pope Paul VI in 1971, distributed some $2 million in 2007 in direct help from the Pope to populations that had suffered human or natural disasters.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Papal Message, Lent 2008

VATICAN CITY, 29 JAN 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was the 2008 Lenten Message of the Holy Father Benedict XVI. The text, dated 30 October 2007, has as its title a verse from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians: "Christ made Himself poor for you".
Extracts from the Message are given below:
"Each year, Lent offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters. In the Lenten period, the Church makes it her duty to propose some specific tasks that accompany the faithful concretely in this process of interior renewal: these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. For this year's Lenten Message, I wish to spend some time reflecting on the practice of almsgiving, which represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods. The force of attraction to material riches and just how categorical our decision must be not to make of them an idol, Jesus confirms in a resolute way: 'You cannot serve God and mammon'.
"Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbour's needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness. This is the aim of the special collections in favour of the poor, which are promoted during Lent in many parts of the world. In this way, inward cleansing is accompanied by a gesture of ecclesial communion, mirroring what already took place in the early Church.
"According to the teaching of the Gospel, we are not owners but rather administrators of the goods we possess: these, then, are not to be considered as our exclusive possession, but means through which the Lord calls each one of us to act as a steward of His providence for our neighbour".
"In the Gospel, Jesus explicitly admonishes the one who possesses and uses earthly riches only for self. ... In those countries whose population is majority Christian, the call to share is even more urgent, since their responsibility toward the many who suffer poverty and abandonment is even greater. To come to their aid is a duty of justice even prior to being an act of charity.
"The Gospel highlights a typical feature of Christian almsgiving: it must be hidden. ... This understanding, dear brothers and sisters, must accompany every gesture of help to our neighbour, avoiding that it becomes a means to make ourselves the centre of attention".
"In today's world of images, attentive vigilance is required, since this temptation is great. Almsgiving, according to the Gospel, is not mere philanthropy: rather it is a concrete expression of charity, a theological virtue that demands interior conversion to love of God and neighbour, in imitation of Jesus Christ".
"In inviting us to consider almsgiving with a more profound gaze that transcends the purely material dimension, Scripture teaches us that there is more joy in giving than in receiving. ... Every time when, for love of God, we share our goods with our neighbour in need, we discover that the fullness of life comes from love and all is returned to us as a blessing in the form of peace, inner satisfaction and joy".
"What is more: St. Peter includes among the spiritual fruits of almsgiving the forgiveness of sins. ... As the Lenten liturgy frequently repeats, God offers to us sinners the possibility of being forgiven. The fact of sharing what we possess with the poor disposes us to receive such a gift".
"Almsgiving teaches us the generosity of love. ... In this regard, all the more significant is the Gospel story of the widow who, out of poverty, cast into the Temple treasury 'all she had to live on'".
We find this moving passage inserted in the description of the days that immediately precede Jesus' passion and death, who, as St. Paul writes, made Himself poor to enrich us out of His poverty; He gave His entire Self for us. Lent, also through the practice of almsgiving, inspires us to follow His example. In His school, we can learn to make of our lives a total gift; imitating Him, we are able to make ourselves available, not so much in giving part of what we possess, but our very selves. Cannot the entire Gospel be summarised perhaps in the one commandment of love? The Lenten practice of almsgiving thus become a means to deepen our Christian vocation. In gratuitously offering himself, the Christian bears witness that it is love and not material richness that determines the laws of his existence, Love, then, gives almsgiving its true value; it inspires various forms of giving, according to the possibilities and conditions of each person".
MESS/LENT 2008/... VIS 080129 (820)

Monday, January 28, 2008

USCCB Message on Economic Stimulus Plan

Make Poor No. 1 Priority, Say U.S. Bishops
In Letter to Lawmakers Debating Stimulus Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 27, 2008 ( The U.S. bishops are asking President George Bush and Congress to make the needs of the poor their number one priority as they debate and pass an economic stimulus package.

The bishops said this in a letter addressed to U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that urged bipartisan cooperation to "find effective ways to protect the poorest families and low wage workers from financial hardship during this economic downturn."

Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, chairman of the conference's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, sent the letter Wednesday.

The White House and leaders of the House of Representatives agreed Thursday on a $150 billion package that would provide rebate checks to 117 million families. The bill has yet to pass the Senate, which will debate the plan this week.
Bishop Murphy's letter promoted such initiatives as "unemployment compensation, food stamp benefits, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program as effective means to assist families and help the economy," which were all left out of the bill.

"We, as pastors and our many Catholic Church agencies working with the poor and vulnerable, know at first hand of what we speak," wrote the bishop. "We also know that, in the various proposals and positions being debated, too often the voices poor families and low paid workers are often missing.

"Allow us to remind one and all that, while their voices are not always heard, poor people have compelling needs that should have a priority claim on our consciences and on the choices and investments which you will make."

"A good society," Bishop Murphy wrote, "is measured by the extent to which those with responsibility attend to the needs of the weaker members, especially those most in need.

"Economic polices that help lower-income working families live in decency and with dignity should be a clear and common priority."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cor Unum Council Sponsoring Event for Charity Workers

Father Cantalamessa to Preach Retreat in Mexico
Cor Unum Council Sponsoring Event for Charity Workers

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2008 ( A retreat for the Americas is aiming to remind diocesan aid workers that Christian charity is not the same as mere humanitarian work.

The Pontifical Council Cor Unum is sponsoring its first spiritual retreat for leaders of diocesan charity organizations. It will be held June 1-6 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and preached by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the Pontifical Household.

Cardinal Paul Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, spoke to ZENIT about plans for the retreat. The cardinal recalled that Benedict XVI's first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est," emphasized the need for charity work to demonstrate the love of God.

“Jesus Christ always went about doing good in relation with a proclamation of the word," the cardinal said. This is what differentiates Christians: “We have the Red Cross, we have institutions of the United Nations … And all this is very good. But we want to have a different attitude."

He clarified that Church charities also seek material and even political means to end world suffering. But, he said, "what is specifically Christian consists in going beyond human misery. Frequently, even material help is no longer help, particularly when people go through difficulties in which it is impossible to help them with bread, with a roof, or with medicine. We can then give hope, speaking about the faith, praying with a dying person and consoling them by speaking of the good that God has prepared for us in eternal life.”

Cardinal Cordes said this retreat in the Americas will be followed by similar initiatives on other continents. He said Guadalajara was chosen to be somewhat closer for retreatants coming from South America.

“In a pragmatic, frequently superficial, pressured and insensitive world," the cardinal said, "we have to rediscover the roots of our qualities: a heart that listens and the strength of the Word of God.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Feb 11, 2008: Papal Message for World Day of the Sick

ZE08012004 - 2008-01-20

Papal Message for World Day of the Sick

"Mary Suffers With Those Who Are in Affliction"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2008 ( Here is a nonofficial Vatican translation of the Benedict XVI's message for the 16th World Day of the Sick, which will be celebrate on the diocesan level Feb. 11.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. On 11 February, the memorial of the Blessed Mary Virgin of Lourdes, the World Day of the Sick will be celebrated, a propitious occasion to reflect on the meaning of pain and the Christian duty to take responsibility for it in whatever situation it arises. This year this significant day is connected to two important events for the life of the Church, as one already understands from the theme chosen 'The Eucharist, Lourdes and Pastoral Care for the Sick': the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions of the Immaculate Mary at Lourdes, and the celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress at Quebec in Canada. In this way, a remarkable opportunity to consider the close connection that exists between the Mystery of the Eucharist, the role of Mary in the project of salvation, and the reality of human pain and suffering, is offered to us.

The hundred and fifty years since the apparitions of Lourdes invite us to turn our gaze towards the Holy Virgin, whose Immaculate Conception constitutes the sublime and freely-given gift of God to a woman so that she could fully adhere to divine designs with a steady and unshakable faith, despite the tribulations and the sufferings that she would have to face. For this reason, Mary is a model of total self-abandonment to the will of God: she received in her heart the eternal Word and she conceived it in her virginal womb; she trusted to God and, with her soul pierced by a sword (cf. Lk 2:35), she did not hesitate to share the passion of her Son, renewing on Calvary at the foot of the Cross her 'Yes' of the Annunciation. To reflect upon the Immaculate Conception of Mary is thus to allow oneself to be attracted by the 'Yes' which joined her wonderfully to the mission of Christ, the redeemer of humanity; it is to allow oneself to be taken and led by her hand to pronounce in one's turn 'fiat' to the will of God, with all one's existence interwoven with joys and sadness, hopes and disappointments, in the awareness that tribulations, pain and suffering make rich the meaning of our pilgrimage on the earth.

2. One cannot contemplate Mary without being attracted by Christ and one cannot look at Christ without immediately perceiving the presence of Mary. There is an indissoluble link between the Mother and the Son, generated in her womb by work of the Holy Spirit, and this link we perceive, in a mysterious way, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as the Fathers of the Church and theologians pointed out from the early centuries onwards. 'The flesh born of Mary, coming from the Holy Spirit, is bread descended from heaven', observed St. Hilary of Poitiers. In the "Bergomensium Sacramentary" of the ninth century we read: 'Her womb made flower a fruit, a bread that has filled us with an angelic gift. Mary restored to salvation what Eve had destroyed by her sin'. And St. Pier Damiani observed: 'That body that the most blessed Virgin generated, nourished in her womb with maternal care, that body I say, without doubt and no other, we now receive from the sacred altar, and we drink its blood as a sacrament of our redemption. This is what the Catholic faith believes, this the holy Church faithfully teaches'. The link of the Holy Virgin with the Son, the sacrificed Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, is extended to the Church, the mystic Body of Christ. Mary, observes the Servant of God John Paul II, is a 'woman of the Eucharist' in her whole life, as a result of which the Church, seeing Mary as her model, 'is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery' (Encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," n. 53). In this perspective one understands even further why in Lourdes the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary is joined to a strong and constant reference to the Eucharist with daily Celebrations of the Eucharist, with adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, and with the blessing of the sick, which constitutes one of the strongest moments of the visit of pilgrims to the grotto of Massabielles.

The presence of many sick pilgrims in Lourdes, and of the volunteers who accompany them, helps us to reflect on the maternal and tender care that the Virgin expresses towards human pain and suffering. Associated with the Sacrifice of Christ, Mary, Mater Dolorosa, who at the foot of the Cross suffers with her divine Son, is felt to be especially near by the Christian community, which gathers around its suffering members, who bear the signs of the passion of the Lord. Mary suffers with those who are in affliction, with them she hopes, and she is their comfort, supporting them with her maternal help. And is it not perhaps true that the spiritual experience of very many sick people leads us to understand increasingly that 'the Divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of every sufferer through the heart of his holy Mother, the first and the most exalted of all the redeemed'? (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, "Salvifici doloris," n. 26).

3. If Lourdes leads us to reflect upon the maternal love of the Immaculate Virgin for her sick and suffering children, the next International Eucharistic Congress will be an opportunity to worship Jesus Christ present in the Sacrament of the altar, to entrust ourselves to him as Hope that does not disappoint, to receive him as that medicine of immortality which heals the body and the spirit. Jesus Christ redeemed the world through his suffering, his death and his resurrection, and he wanted to remain with us as the 'bread of life' on our earthly pilgrimage. 'The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the World': this is the theme of the Eucharistic Congress and it emphasises how the Eucharist is the gift that the Father makes to the world of His only Son, incarnated and crucified. It is he who gathers us around the Eucharistic table, provoking in his disciples loving care for the suffering and the sick, in whom the Christian community recognises the face of its Lord. As I pointed out in the Post-Synodal Exhortation "Sacramentum caritatis," 'Our communities, when they celebrate the Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in him to become "bread that is broken" for others' (n. 88). We are thus encouraged to commit ourselves in the first person to helping our brethren, especially those in difficulty, because the vocation of every Christian is truly that of being, together with Jesus, bread that is broken for the life of the world.

4. It thus appears clear that it is specifically from the Eucharist that pastoral care in health must draw the necessary spiritual strength to come effectively to man's aid and to help him to understand the salvific value of his own suffering. As the Servant of God John Paul II was to write in the already quoted Apostolic Letter Salvifici doloris, the Church sees in her suffering brothers and sisters as it were a multiple subject of the supernatural power of Christ (cf. n. 27). Mysteriously united to Christ, the man who suffers with love and meek self-abandonment to the will of God becomes a living offering for the salvation of the world.

My beloved Predecessor also stated that 'The more a person is threatened by sin, the heavier the structures of sin which today's world brings with it, the greater is the eloquence which human suffering possesses in itself. And the more the Church feels the need to have recourse to the value of human sufferings for the salvation of the world' (ibidem). If, therefore, at Quebec the mystery of the Eucharist, the gift of God for the life of the world, is contemplated during the World Day of the Sick in an ideal spiritual parallelism, not only will the actual participation of human suffering in the salvific work of God be celebrated, but the valuable fruits promised to those who believe can in a certain sense be enjoyed. Thus pain, received with faith, becomes the door by which to enter the mystery of the redemptive suffering of Jesus and to reach with him the peace and the happiness of his Resurrection.

5. While I extend my cordial greetings to all sick people and to all those who take care of them in various ways, I invite the diocesan and parish communities to celebrate the next World Day of the Sick by appreciating to the full the happy coinciding of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes with the International Eucharistic Congress. May it be an occasion to emphasise the importance of the Holy Mass, of the Adoration of the Eucharist and of the cult of the Eucharist, so that chapels in our health-care centres become a beating heart in which Jesus offers himself unceasingly to the Father for the life of humanity! The distribution of the Eucharist to the sick as well, done with decorum and in a spirit of prayer, is true comfort for those who suffer, afflicted by all forms of infirmity.

May the next World Day of the Sick be, in addition, a propitious circumstance to invoke in a special way the maternal protection of Mary over those who are weighed down by illness; health-care workers; and workers in pastoral care in health! I think in particular of priests involved in this field, women and men religious, volunteers and all those who with active dedication are concerned to serve, in body and soul, the sick and those in need. I entrust all to Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother, the Immaculate Conception. May she help everyone in testifying that the only valid response to human pain and suffering is Christ, who in resurrecting defeated death and gave us the life that knows no end. With these feelings, from my heart I impart to everyone my special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 11 January 2008


[Translation by Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry]

Catholic Charities USA Calls for National Commitment to Address the Challenges of Race and Poverty

Catholic Charities USA Calls for National Commitment to Address the Challenges of Race and Poverty

Released : Monday, January 21, 2008 11:00 AM

New Paper on Race and Poverty Released on Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

DETROIT, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Catholic Charities USA today marked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day by calling for a renewed commitment to address the intertwined problems of racism and poverty that undermine America's fundamental promise of liberty, economic security, and justice for all.

The call to action was made today during a holiday Mass at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit where Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, released a new paper on the issue: Poverty and Racism: Overlapping Threats to the Common Good.

"In order to adequately and seriously address poverty in this country, we must have a candid conversation and subsequent action that changes the impact race has on poverty," Father Snyder said. "We realize that racism is an uncomfortable subject for many people, but we also believe that Catholic Charities must be willing not only to talk about racism, but to initiate and lead a conversation that is desperately needed if we are going to truly provide help and offer hope to those we serve."

The paper intends to start, enrich, and inform a conversation within the Catholic Charities network and throughout the country by compelling every individual to serve, educate, and advocate for programs and policies that will foster unity in communities, eliminate racism, and significantly reduce poverty. The paper is part of Catholic Charities USA's Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America, an effort which seeks to cut the U.S. poverty rate in half by 2020.

While whites make up the majority of the poor in the U.S., poverty rates are highest among minorities. U.S. Census figures show that in 2006, the overall national poverty rate was 12.3 percent, with the rate for African Americans at 24.3 percent, nearly three times higher than the 8.2 percent poverty rate for whites.

"Local Catholic Charities agencies across the country help nearly 8 million people a year," said Fr. Snyder. "Every day, we see the faces of the poor across America, and we know firsthand how race and poverty are interconnected."

Father Snyder acknowledged that great strides have been made in addressing racism in the United States, but emphasized that more can and must be done.

"Poverty is a moral and social wound on the soul of our nation, and the ghosts of our nation's legacy of racial inequality continue to haunt us," he said. "Racism fractures the unity of the human family, violates the rights of individuals, mocks the God-given equal dignity that everyone deserves, and is absolutely incompatible with our Christian faith and belief."

The paper contends that racism entails more than conscious ill-will, more than deliberate acts of avoidance, exclusion, malice, and violence perpetrated by individuals. Racism also describes the reality of unearned advantage, conferred dominance, and invisible privilege enjoyed by white Americans, to the detriment, burden, and disadvantage of people of color. The paper states that this network of racially conferred advantages and benefits, which has been termed "white privilege," also must be addressed.

Catholic Charities Seeks Change in Federal Programs

In addition to examining the reality and history of racial injustice in America, Poverty and Racism: Overlapping Threats to the Common Good also calls for a renewed commitment to racial equality as a national priority. It urges Congress and the Administration to strengthen laws that address poverty that is racially caused or aggravated. These include:

-- Adoption of progressive affirmative action programs for education and employment;

-- Passage of programs that promote quality educational opportunities for the poor;

-- Making critically needed investments in public schools and in safety net programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, and Medicare;

-- Comprehensive immigration reform;

-- Wide-ranging criminal justice reforms;

-- Improved fair housing laws;

-- Increased federal funding for affordable housing;

-- Enactment of tougher laws to punish predatory lenders; and

-- Adoption of measures that help the poor get access to low-cost Internet service.

"Our battles against poverty and racism will not be easy, and success will be measured in years, not days or months," Father Snyder said. "It is my hope that our work can make a difference, even if it is just laying the foundation that others may build upon. We ask others to join us in our effort to fight racism and cut poverty in half so that together, we can make our country whole."

The paper, Poverty and Racism: Overlapping Threats to the Common Good, can be found online at

Catholic Charities USA's members -- more than 1,700 local agencies and institutions nationwide -- provide help and create hope for more than 7.8 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic background. For more than 275 years, local Catholic Charities agencies have been providing a myriad of vital services in their communities, ranging from day care and counseling to food and housing. For more information, visit

SOURCE Catholic Charities USA

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pope: Girl Migrants Face Particular Risks/World Day for Migrants and Refugees

ZE08011309 - 2008-01-13

Pope: Girl Migrants Face Particular Risks

Encourages Youth to Work for Just and Fraternal World

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 13, 2008 ( Benedict XVI is exhorting young migrants to work with their peers to build a more just and fraternal society.

The Pope said this today after he prayed the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square. Today is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which is focusing this year on the plight of young migrants.

"There are numerous young people who are forced for various reasons to live far from their families and countries," the Holy Father said. "Girls and minors are especially at risk. Some children and adolescents are born and grow up in 'refugee camps': They too have a right to a future!"

The Pontiff expressed his gratitude for those who "commit themselves to help young migrants, their families and the integration of their work and study."

And he invited ecclesial communities to "welcome with sympathy the young and the very young with their parents, trying to understand their stories and helping them to become assimilated."

Benedict XVI's final exhortation was directed to the young migrants themselves.

"Dear young migrants! Commit yourselves together with your contemporaries to building a more just and fraternal society, fulfilling your duties, respecting the laws and not allowing yourselves to be caught up in violence," he exhorted. "I entrust all of you to Mary, Mother of all humanity."