Saturday, November 29, 2008

MONDAY MORNING MISSION MEDITATION for week of November 30, 2008

Providing Help. Creating Hope.

VISION: Believing in the presence of God in our midst, we proclaim the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person by sharing in the mission of Jesus given to the Church. To this end, Catholic Charities works with individuals, families, and communities to help them meet their needs, address their issues, eliminate oppression, and build a just and compassionate society.

MISSION: To provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire Church and other people of good will to do the same.

GOALS: Catholic Charities is devoted to helping meet basic human needs, strengthening families, building communities and empowering low-income people. Committed to work to reduce poverty in half by 2020.

KEY VALUE: Hospitality

WHAT WE DO: Organizing Love. "As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community" (Deus Caritas Est, par. 20)

On Sunday (First Sunday of Advent) we read in Mark's gospel about the need to be ever vigilant, and "watch" for the Lord, since we do not know the exact hour of his coming. But we have hope that the Kingdom of God is among us now and in the future. We are assured in the First Reading from Isaiah that we have a compassionate and loving God, who is Father to us all.

Advent is a time of waiting, watching, hoping. At Catholic Charities, we are called to spend time with persons and families who are in need of hope. Sometimes just waiting with someone and listening to them gives a person the extra strength he/she needs to get through a crisis. Thank you for all that you do.

Some important date(s) this week:


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3. St. Francis Xavier. Nobleman from the Basque reqion. Studied and taught philosophy at the University of Paris, and planned a career as a professor. Friend of Saint Ignatius of Loyola who convinced him to use his talents to spread the Gospel. One of the founding Jesuits, and the first Jesuit missionary. Priest. In Goa, India, while waiting to take ship, he preached in the street, worked with the sick, and taught children their catechism. He would walk through the streets ringing a bell to call the children to their studies. Said to have converted the entire city. He scolded his patron, King John of Portugal, over the slave trade.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5. Saint Christina of Markgate Anglo-Saxon nobility, the daughter of Autti, a rich and influential guild merchant. At age 15 she visited Saint Albans abbey where she made a private vow of celibacy. Her parents opposed her vow, and arranged a marriage for her with a man named Berktred. Christina took her case to Bishop Robert Bloet who initially sided with her, but who was later bribed into changing his ruling. Christina was betrothed and married against her will, spending the first years of married life as a prisoner, refusing to consummate the union. With the help of ahermit named Eadwin, she escaped, and fled to Flamstead where she lived for two years with an anchoress named Alfwen.


That in the face of a spreading of a culture of violence and death the Church through her apostolic and missionary activity may promote with courage the culture of life.
That especially in mission countries Christians may show with acts of fraternal love that the Child born in the stable at Bethlehem is the luminous Hope of the world.

Corporal Works of Mercy: The seven practices of charity toward our neighbor

1. Feed the hungry
2. Give drink to the thirsty
3. Clothe the naked
4. Shelter the homeless
5. Visit the sick
6. Visit those in prison
7. Bury the dead

See our website at for links to the our ministries and services.

For more information on Catholic Social Doctrine and its connection to our ministries, visit my blog at:

Holy See: Human Needs Lost in Fight Against Hunger

Emphasizes Importance of Agriculture in Development

ROME, NOV. 28, 2008 ( ).- In the fight against hunger, human needs are not always ranked first, and the results are negative, says a Holy See representative.

Monsignor Renato Volante, permanent observer of the Holy See at the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), affirmed this at the group's 35th special session, held last week.

The priest affirmed that the address from his delegation "does not want to offer technical solutions, but rather to suggest an ideal orientation which may help in making concrete choices, focusing on the needs of each human person, especially when they are limited by conditions of life which compromise a dignified human life."

The FAO, he noted, is more and more called on to respond to the needs of states that have a growing lack of food.

These needs, the monsignor said, "are determined by a more general economically unfavorable situation, by natural conditions, but also by human interventions which often pursue partial interests or even show signs of indifference toward the fight against malnutrition."

Nevertheless, Monsignor Volante continued, the FAO faces more than just this problem.

He said that it is clear that "there are 'new' situations involving the agricultural sector. [...]. Among these, as underlined by the recent food crisis, the judgment about the central role of agriculture seems to stand out with a particular emphasis in the wider reality of economic activity and its important contribution to a realistic, sustainable development."

To make the FAO more effective, the monsignor contended, "it is necessary to recognize that fighting against hunger is conditioned by multiple factors and by the motives inspiring it. But too often strategies are adopted which pursue particular goals rather then a holistic vision which ranks the human needs first. Such an attitude produces negative effects in the rural sector, especially where poverty, underdevelopment, malnutrition and environmental degradation are more evident."

Thus, he said, the Holy See is "firmly convinced that the FAO structure and its activities must underline the essential importance of agriculture in the development processes, not promoting the mere management but those far-sighted management criteria and interventions which will really respond to the needs."

In the future

Monsignor Volante suggested that the future of the "rural world" will contain two main aspects: "First, the protection of the different agricultural ecosystems which are conditioned by climatic change causing floods or desertification even in areas that had never known such phenomena before.

"Second, the growing role of new processing techniques and the support that they receive both in their production process and in the food trade and use."

These situations are well-understood, the Holy See representative contended, and remedies for problems are known, but "the rush toward more immediate objectives causes a postponement of their feasibility, which should start from those possible and urgent recovering interventions in consumption standards and in the respect for creation."

A reform of the FAO "does not mean to be closed to new and perhaps better results made possible by scientific and technological research and new production systems," he clarified, "but what it does propose is an ordered balance between those systems and a proper prevention of the risks for people and the ecosystems."

"This means that an ordered research aimed at improving agricultural production so as to meet the growing food demand, must not forget the reasons of food security which is the consumers' health, nor crop sustainability, i.e. the environmental protection," he said.

Monsignor Volante concluded by urging the FAO to "further effort to cope with problems by paying proper attention to the needs of the least, in our case of those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition and more generally those who draw their living, employment and income from rural work."

Vatican: Financial Crisis Worsening

Holy See Warns of Financial Crisis Worsening
Says Human Person Needs to Be at Center of Solution

NEW YORK, NOV. 28, 2008 ( ).- The worldwide financial crisis will become a catastrophe if the dignity of the human person is not protected, the Holy See is cautioning.

This is the warning sounded by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, a day before the Doha conference on progress in international cooperation in development.

The conference begins Saturday and runs through Dec. 2.

"For some time now, we've found ourselves in the middle of a financial crisis that could become a catastrophe if it is allowed to affect other crises: economy, food, energy," the archbishop told Vatican Radio. "It seems that a decided return of the public sector to financial markets is necessary. It is necessary to increase coordination and unity in the search for solutions.

"It is necessary to recover some basic dimensions of finances, that is, the primacy of labor over capital, of human relationships over mere financial transactions, of ethics over the sole criterion of efficacy."

The Holy See representative recalled that "experts tell us that in this situation it would be highly counterproductive to raise up new barriers, as much for the interchange of goods and services, as for investments. Every protectionist measure of this kind could increase the tension of the current economic situation."

Above all, Archbishop Migliore affirmed, "criteria more in line with the human person" need to be adopted.

That is why, he concluded, the problem is ethical: "There were already many rules and ethical codes before the crisis; the problem is that great impunity was given to those who didn't respect them.

"It is also a problem of leadership, of governments' moral authority at all levels, which have the primary responsibility of protecting citizens, above all workers, those who save, normal people who do not have the possibilities of following the complicated financial engineering and who have to be defended against the tricks and abuse of the smart alecks."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Vatican Statement on Doha Meeting and International Financial Crisis

ZE08112601 - 2008-11-26

"A New Pact to Re-establish the International Financial System"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2008 ( Here is a translation of the document prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and approved by the Vatican secretariat of state on the causes and consequences of the world financial crisis.

The text was released ahead of the U.N. meeting to be held in Doha from Saturday to Dec. 2, and in the wake of the Nov. 15 meeting of rich nations in Washington. The Doha conference, set to consider progress on the goals set by the Monterrey Consensus, is seen as endangered by the world's economic situation.

* * *

A New Pact to Re-establish the International Financial System

The present Note, elaborated by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and approved by the State Secretariat, intends to offer some points of reflection on the present world financial crisis and its repercussion in the financing of development. The Holy See is aware that many of the issues pointed out here are susceptible to being addressed by very different technical means. Hence, the document is above all an effort to promote and animate Governments and the rest of economic agents to seek lasting solutions in solidarity.

Financing and Development: Importance of the Conference

1. The next international conference on "Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus," which will take place in Doha from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2, 2008, represents the end point of a process of revision, promoted by the United Nations General Assembly with the participation of civil society, of the contents and updating of the Document on Financing for Development, approved in 2002 in Monterrey -- the so-called "Monterrey Consensus." That document included six chapters on the great essential questions to finance development: the mobilization of internal resources; the flow of private capital; international trade; the issue of the external debt and last but not least important, the systemic question on the ways to give strength and coherence to the global monetary, financial and commercial system in support of development.

According to United Nations proceedings, the works of revision have led, during the first months of 2008, to outlining the sketch of a new document (the "Doha Draft Outcome Document"), which has been discussed and amended little by little, in order to be able to close the Doha Conference with a text that includes the consensus of all the participants.

In recent months, superimposed on this laborious negotiating process is the precipitation of the global financial crisis that was generated in subprime mortgage loans in the United States. Despite its long gestation, at the beginning of September the crisis spread to the point of affecting other sectors of the financial system and putting into difficulty a growing number of countries, whose financial situation, in the absence of an outside crash, did not seem to present problems of sustainability.

Hence, to the rise of agricultural and energy prices, which took place in the first months of 2008, has been added a financial crisis that is dramatic in certain aspects, with very negative consequences: above all, the subject of financing of development runs the risk of being relegated to second place.

2. In this situation, it is indispensable that governments and financial institutions act to counteract the further spread of the present financial crisis: In fact, many countries have introduced decisions radically opposed to the tendency, preferred up to the recent past, of entrusting the functioning of the financial market to his capacity for self-regulation.

Essentially, the governments of the countries affected by the crisis have adopted a variety of dispositions that entail a massive return of the public sector in the financial markets themselves which, in recent decades, had been deregularized, privatized and liberalized.

Given that a policy action of this nature has probabilities of success if the countries do not proceed in a dispersed manner, but coordinate their initiatives, an urgent summit of the great countries was called on Nov. 15, the so-called G-20, with the participation of significant emerging countries. Given the moment in which the G-20 took place two weeks before the Doha Conference promoted by the United Nations, very many countries did not participate in the summit out of fear, not without reason, that the first event, which entailed only a restricted number of countries, but which attracted the attention of international public opinion, would deprive the Doha Conference of political impact.

As a result, there are two important and very close worldwide meetings, with a similar purpose -- finance and its crisis, finance and development -- though characterized by very different political meanings and functions. Both meetings are important.

Everyone hopes that all the countries that met in Washington on Nov. 15 will take into account the Doha Conference and favor its success. The latter, in fact, not only has the objective to arrive at a formal inter-governmental consensus on six important topics already present in the "Monterrey Consensus," but also of progressively developing a common sentiment, a shared appraisal of those identified as emerging questions in the matter of the financing of development.

If it is indispensable to address, also on the political plane, the financial emergencies that appear, it is also important to look with attention at the picture as a whole and to the links between the problems, not only from the point of view of the economically important countries, but within a perspective that tends to be global. What is urgent is not always what is most important. On the contrary, it is ever more necessary to re-order the priorities as soon as the situation has become difficult.

Undoubtedly, today's financial emergency came after a long period in which, pressured by the immediate objective to pursue results in a short time, the dimensions of finance itself have been left to one side: its "true" nature, in fact, consists in favoring the employment of the resources saved where they favor the real economy, well-being, the development of the whole of man and all men (Paul VI, "Populorum Progressio," 14). Hence, the Doha Conference is an occasion that the international community should not lose to put back in the center the most important profound questions for the common good of humanity: financing for development is one of these.

The Important Issues Addressed by the Draft Document

3. In reference to the Drat Document, it seems opportune to consider it taking into account the two faces of the present financial crisis, namely, the emergency that has originated in the markets on one hand, and the situation of chronic inadequacy of the resources destined to support development on the other: both bring to the fore an inescapable moral question.

In a moment of crisis, such as the present, is it appropriate to ask oneself questions that, if things had gone well, would have been put aside or forgotten. How have we arrived at this disastrous situation, after a decade in which speeches have multiplied on the ethics of business and finance, and in which the adoption of ethical codes has spread? Why was enough weight not given to the verification of incidents that should have led to reflection?

The answer to these questions cannot but make evident that the ethical dimension of the economy and finance is not something that is accessory, but essential and must be constantly taken into consideration and really make a difference if there is a desire to carry out correct, long-term economic and financial dynamics fruitful in progress.

In this perspective, the Social Doctrine of the Church, with the rich variety of its moral principles, can and must make a contribution of realism and hope both to the questions discussed today, such as the financial crisis, or questions that, though being of vital importance for a large part of the world, do not receive the attention they deserve. There is the need for a new pact to refound the international financial system; the question of offshore financial centers and the nexus between financing for development and taxation; the financial market and norms; the role of civil society in the financing of development.

A New International Financial Pact

3. The present financial crisis is essentially a crisis of confidence. Acknowledged today among the causes of the crisis is both the excessive use of financial "swindles" on the part of operators, or the inadequate consideration of the risk elements that they entail. Acknowledged above all is the relation between the need for finance to fulfill its "real" function of bridge between the present and future, and the operators' temporal horizon of reference, essentially reduced at present. In other words, the global financial crisis has made reflection and action urgent on point 6 of the Draft Document, namely, on the questions of system.

Are we faced with the need for a simple revision or a true and proper re-establishment of the system of international economic and financial institutions? Many individuals, public and private, national and international, are calling for a sort of Bretton Woods. Beyond the expression used, the crisis has undoubtedly brought to the fore the urgency to find new ways of international coordination in monetary, financial and commercial matters.

It seems clear today that national sovereignty is insufficient, even the great countries are conscious of the fact that it is not possible to achieve national objectives counting only on internal policies: agreements, rules and international institutions are absolutely necessary. It is necessary to avoid the start of the chain of reciprocal protectionism; rather, practices of cooperation must be reinforced in the matter of transparency and vigilance of the financial system. It is even possible to reach solutions of "shared sovereignty," as the history of European integration demonstrates, beginning with concrete problems, within a vision of peace and prosperity, rooted in shared values.

Also in the re-designing of international policies and institutions a moral question of great importance arises. In particular, it is important that even the necessary political contrast between the "richer" countries not lead to solutions based on exclusive agreements, but that it re-launch a space of open and tendentially inclusive cooperation. This space is especially important in the matter of financing for development.

The financial flows that connect the developed countries with low-income countries present at least two paradoxical elements, the first is represented by the fact that in the global system, it is the poor countries that finance the rich ones, which receive resources from either the flight of private capital or governmental decisions to corner financial reserves under the form of "secure" financial activities placed in the financially evolved markets or in offshore markets. The second paradox is that the remittances of emigrants -- namely, of the less "liberalized" component of the processes of globalization -- entail an affluence of resources that, at the macro level, greatly surpass the flow of public aid for development. It is as though saying that the poor of the South finance the rich of the North, and the poor of the South themselves have to emigrate and work in the North to support their families in the South.

Offshore Financial Centers

3.b. To carry out this new international financial pact, the first necessary step is to consider carefully the role, hidden but crucial, of the offshore financial system in the two faces of the global financial problem described above: the emergency of the global crisis and the inadequacy of finances for development.

Offshore markets have been an important link, both in the transmission of the present financial crisis, as well has in maintaining a host of mad economic and financial practices: flight of capital of gigantic proportions, "legal" flows motivated by objectives of tax evasion and also channeled through the of international commercial flows, re-cycling of those stemming from illegal activities. Estimates of the amount of wealth held in offshore centers are difficult to evaluate, but sufficiently impressive if the information in circulation is confirmed: it is said that an ample gamut of groups and individuals hold financial applications in offshore centers that could yield close to US$255,000: more than three times the entire amount of public aid for development on the part of countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OSCE).

Given that public financing for development can only come from fiscal detractions, this becomes a critical minimum in the age of globalization. In fact, the processes of globalization have changed the type of composition of the transaction, not only from direct to indirect (with the probable consequence of a lesser "progressivity" of taxes, namely, of a lesser capacity of weighing more percentage-wise over those that dispose of higher incomes), but above all have entailed a translation of the valuation of the capital to the valuation of the work.

Fiscal detraction is eroded over the most important and mobile business activities in the international field, or that can easily take recourse to the offshore centers. Valued instead primarily are the less "mobile" productive factors, which cannot easily escape from the tax burden, namely, of workers and small businesses.

These points are very complex politically. To address them means to act directly in the sphere of national fiscal sovereignty. The Draft Document speaks of this and, in point 10, proposes reinforcing international cooperation in fiscal matters, above all in view of a drastic redimension of offshore financial practices.

Regulation of the Financial Market

3.c. The present crisis came to a head in a context of taking decisions in which the temporal horizon of financial operators was extremely brief and in which trust -- essential ingredient of credit -- was placed more in the market's mechanisms than in relations between members. It is no accident that trust has decreased in the exchange that was "secure" above all, namely, inter-bank transactions; however, without this trust all is blocked, including the possibility of the normal functioning of productive enterprises. The financial crisis and its consequences has, in fact, as component the expectation that the financial climate will worsen. All this leads operators to behave in a way that makes more probable the effective worsening of the situation with a foreseeable cumulative effect. The crisis has brought about the fall of fideist confidence in the market, understood as a mechanism capable of self-regulation and of generating development for all.

The present situation is an emergency, because important questions have been avoided: the traceability of financial movements, the proper rendering of accounts of operations in the new financial instruments, the careful appraisal of risk. Many authorities, especially in the more financially evolved countries, have proposed specific choices, moved by the economic profits that derive from housing a strong financial industry, profits that last as long as the phase of financial euphoria.

International financial institutions themselves are not endowed with the mandate and the instruments necessary to answer these questions decisively. In general it was thought that the market was enough to give the correct price to risk.

Financial markets cannot operate without trust; and without transparency and without rules there can be no trust. Hence, the market's good functioning requires an important role of the State and, where appropriate, of the international community to establish the rules of transparency and prudence and have them respected. It must be recalled, however, that no interervention of regulation can "guarantee" its efficacy by dispensing with a well-formed moral conscience and the daily responsibility of the market's operators, especially of the businessmen and the large financial operators.

Today's rules, based on yesterday's experience, do not necessarily prevent tomorrow's risks. Thus, even if good structures and good rules exist that help, it is necessary to recall that they are not enough in themselves. Man can never be changed or redeemed simply from the outside.

It is necessary to reach the most profound moral being of people, a real education in the exercise of responsibility towards the good of all, on the part of all individuals, at all levels: financial operators, families, businesses, financial institutions, public authorities, civil society.

This education to responsibility can find a solid foundation in some principles indicated by the Social Doctrine, which are the patrimony of all and the basis of all social life: the universal common good , the universal destiny of goods, the priority of work over capital.

Deep down, the financial crisis is the result of a daily practice that had as its point of reference the absolute "priority of capital" in relation to work -- even of work alienated from the financial operators themselves (very long and stressful working hours, very short temporal horizon of reference for decisions). It is also the result of an erroneous practice of giving loans to those who seem "too big to fail" rather than to those who take the risk of creating real occasions for development.

Role of Civil Society in Financing for Development

3.d. Financing for development requires questioning public aid for development or the role of other actors: individuals, businesses, organizations. In particular, civil society not only carries out an important active role in cooperation for development, but also plays a significant role in financing for development. It does so, above all, through the voluntary contribution of person to person, as the remittances of immigrants, or through relatively simple organizational ways (think of adoption at a distance). Then there are the resources for development mobilized by enterprises in the active exercise of their own social responsibility; and those at times too conspicuous, provided by important Foundations.

Responsible behavior in the matter of consumption and investment is also an important resource for development. The spread of this responsible behavior, from the point of view of the material effects, can make the difference between the functioning of certain particular markets, but their importance lies above all in the fact that they express a concrete participation on the part of persons -- in so far as consumers, investors of family savings or decisive for business strategies -- to the possibility that the poorest emerge from their condition of poverty.

Financial Crisis and Public Aid for Development

4. Concern over the financial emergency that has taken place in mature markets effectively can obfuscate the need for financing development. It is reasonable to think that public aid for development, which comes from allocations of the budget that each country establishes year after year, will suffer because of the great public resources necessary to cover the emergency of the financial crisis. Undoubtedly, this is an evil. Adequate financing for development requires a long-term horizon: it is necessary that the resources flow in a foreseeable manner, in favorable conditions, to finance works that perhaps require much time before producing benefits for the local population.

However, the financial emergency linked to the brief period and the "normality" of long-tern financing are closely connected, both in the negative but also in the positive sense: there is the possibility, which must be sought for tenaciously, to contribute to a sustainable way out of the financial crisis, also establishing the conditions so that the savings generated are truly dedicated to development, namely, to the creation of occasions of work. Suffice to think of the many existing unsatisfied needs, especially in low-income countries: those needs are the other face of the occasions of work that it is possible, and hence obligatory, to create.

To give other elements that can support the reasonableness of this "royal" way to come out of the financial crisis, we might recall that the three crises of 2008 -- the food crisis, the energy crisis and the financial crisis -- are closely united among themselves. The expectation of the increasing prices of agricultural and energy products (in a certain sense, a physiological expectation, if we think of the greater demand for food and fuel in countries such as China and India) has produced a race for supply and the purchase of "futures," namely, of promises of future provision at a certain price. This behavior has fueled in turn a rise in prices which has attracted not only the future users of the primary products, but also the financial operators that, from a purely speculative point of view, have betted on the possibility of a further rise in prices.

Now, such risky behavior tends to flourish without control when there is in the financial markets much -- too much -- availability of credit. It is no accident that the present financial crisis, which is manifested above all in the extreme difficulty to obtain credit, brought with it a fall in the prices of primary products, and above all of oil. It is understood that, if it is necessary to address the problems "one by one," it is dangerous to do so without looking with lucidity at the total picture and the connections among the problems themselves. The financial crisis will probably "take away" resources from public aid to development. However, only by allocating resources -- public but also private -- for "real" development will a healthy financial system be able to be reconstructed, capable of really producing, because the resources have really sustained work and the economy.

Current Direct Investments in Poor Countries

5. In general, the greater part of direct foreign investments continues to affect advanced countries, both as origin and destiny, though in recent years two decidedly new phenomena have been observed. The first is the affirmation of direct foreign investments arising from "emerging" countries, often motivated by the objective to reinforce the presence of the research enterprise in its own macro-region -- hence, they are South-South investments, destined to countries of middle and low income. The second has to do with the significant growth of transcontinental investment flows destined to certain low-income countries, generally endowed with important mining and energy resources; some of these are made from so-called "sovereign funds," hence, they present double the value of economic investment and an important socio-political link.

The object of the second chapter of the Draft Document is how to proceed to increase direct foreign investments. Very opportunely it underlines that it is necessary also to consider carefully the qualitative aspects of investment. Necessary, in fact, is caution before interpreting the flows of capital to countries as an unequivocal positive sign and, consequently, simply increase the amount. In many cases, it is a question effectively of important occasions of economic growth and social development; in others, it is not so. There are, in fact, investments that entail the implication and formation of local workers, the transference of technology, the spread of responsible management practices, but there are also investments that are limited to assessing the mineral resources for the benefit of a few -- of the local political or economic elite --in addition, of course, to the foreign investor.

Financial Cooperation for Development

6. In the wake of the Monterrey Conference, some significant steps forward have been taken, in the direction indicated by the "Monterrey Consensus." In "Action Against Hunger and Poverty," promoted initially by some developed and developing countries and subsequently made its own by many other States, different possible innovative sources of financing have been identified: a shared tax on air tariffs; reduction of tax evasion made possible by the existence of tax havens; the mobilization of immigrants' remittances for the local development of countries of destiny with initiatives, for example, of micro-credit; taxing of and/or arms trade; the creation of innovative loan instruments such as the International Financial Facility; the emission by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of special rights; the voluntary contribution associated with the use of credit cards; financial investment in "ethical funds"; collections through shared lotteries.

Some of these proposals have been carried out partially. It is the case of the pilot project of the shared tax on air tariffs, already in execution in some States and destined to a fund for the purchase of drugs against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, managed directly by the World Health Organization (WHO). Also in 2006, the proposal to create an International Financial Facility, was translated in the activation of Iffi (Iff for immunization) to which a certain number of countries have adhered. Essentially, it was a question of the emission of international public titles which have been placed in the financial markets and have made it possible to gather private resources for financing programs of vaccination. The countries that have issued the titles are responsible for interest surcharges and for the future restitution of the funds received, reciprocally determined to provide resources for development. This determination is effectively credible, in so far as its eventual diminution would expose countries to a loss of reputation in the international financial markets on which they depend for financing of the imbalances in their accounts. All these initiatives have in common the fact of disconnecting the gathering of financial resources for development through taxes, from the public budget decisions of each country.

7. However, despite the progress, financial cooperation for development continues to be a problem. Moreover, many other ambits of action included in the "Monterrey Consensus" have not seen progress; this is true above all when it comes to questions of system and, in particular, of the coherence of international economic policies. Think for example, of the nexus between the aid for development policies and the commercial policies of advanced countries: the different forms of manifest or hidden protectionism, as well as the persistent limitations to access to the exports of poor countries in the markets of rich countries, are an enormous obstacle to development. National policies continue to be strongly inconsistent: one hand gives the other takes away.

One last but important caution: It is necessary to be careful not to confuse the means (the financial resources) and the end, namely, development. It is not enough to predispose an adequate amount of financing to think of obtaining development in a mechanical way. The latter is not so much the "result" that will be seen at the end, but the way that day after day is traced by the concrete choices of multiple actors: Donor and recipient governments, NGOs, local communities. In regard to public aid for development -- the main object of the Doha Conference, which will imply in the first place the States -- it must be recalled that the international community has recently addressed, in the Accra Conference, the question of aid effectiveness.

Today the preponderant tendency is that of considering the channel "from State to State," the so-called "budget support," as the most effective way to have the resources arrive in low-income countries. This tendency is seen with certain concern, because it carries with it the risk of a "bureaucratization" of national policies to combat poverty and to re-dimension the resources available through different forms of local social initiative, both on the part of organizations of the civil society, as well as on the part of local realities rooted in the territory such as faith-based organizations. "However, these realities are the real protagonists of development understood as the course followed day by day.

Africa and Financing for Development

8. Particular attention is necessary to the African continent, in which the map of development registers hefty disparities. The situation is different in each African country; what is more, noted is a tendency to polarization between successful situations when obtaining resources and making them fruitful, and situations of total marginality. For example, only few African countries attract direct foreign investments not solely interested in exploiting the mineral or energy resources. It depends a lot on the internal situation of each country; in terms of the "Monterrey Consensus": by the capacity to mobilize internal resources and to combat the flight of capital, tax evasion and corruption.

Moreover, it is obvious that in situations of armed conflict -- numerous, unfortunately, in Africa -- the economic dimension of development simply becomes un-proposable.

In so far as canceling of the external debt, there has been progress; however, the resources for the cancellation of the debt rarely have been additional in relation to the flows of aid and this has entailed effects of recomposition of the public budgets without a real increase of available resources for action to combat poverty.

Two points should be opportunely underlined. One has to do with the choices in international policy of African governments; support must be given to the growing will for South-South international cooperation, in a continent where to acquire a certain custom of international cooperation might contribute to channel preventively the conflicts in a space of bloodless negotiation. The second has to do with the choices in internal policy, in subsidiary material, which appreciates and reinforces the ways of response to the needs of the African society born "from within," which society has a great patrimony of shared culture able to express itself with extraordinary testimonial force.

The experience of international cooperation for development is today sufficiently ample to permit concluding that the policies and resources "coming from on high" can produce immediate beneficial effects, but on their own they do not provide adequate answers to how to emerge, in a sustainable way, from poverty. The principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, so cherished by the Social Doctrine of the Church, can inspire a genuine development in the sign of an integral and shared humanism.

Vatican, Nov. 18, 2008

May Thay All Have Bread: Vatican Delegation to FAO

VATICAN CITY, 27 NOV 2008 (VIS) - Made public today was an address by Msgr. Renato Volante, head of the Holy See delegation to the 35th special session of the Conference of the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The meeting was called to examine the results of an evaluation into the management of the FAO and to analyse proposals to make the organisation better able to deal with problems related to the rural world.

"The delegation of the Holy See does not want to offer technical solutions", said Msgr. Volante speaking English, "but rather to suggest an ideal orientation which may help in making concrete choices, focusing on the needs of each human person, especially when they are limited by conditions which compromise a dignified human life.

"If we consider the data regarding FAO activities", he added, "it shows a constant and active engagement ... responding to the needs of the member States, in particular of those whose economic system requires new paths for the development of the agricultural sector and to satisfy the growing needs for food".

"At the same time, looking at the future of FAO, it becomes clear that there are 'new' situations involving the agricultural sector which demand efforts by the organisation and its member States".

"To bring about a reform of FAO, it is necessary to recognise that fighting against hunger is conditioned by multiple factors and by the motives inspiring it. But too often strategies are adopted which pursue particular goals rather then a holistic vision which ranks human needs first. Such an attitude produces negative effects in the rural sector, especially where poverty, underdevelopment, malnutrition and environmental degradation are more evident".

"The delegation of the Holy See is firmly convinced that the FAO structure and its activities must underline the essential importance of agriculture in the development processes, not promoting mere management skills, but those far-sighted administrative criteria and interventions which will really respond to the needs".

"This means that research aimed at improving agricultural production so as to meet the growing demand for food, must not overlook food security - which is the health of consumers - nor crop sustainability, i.e. environmental protection. For these objectives, invoked in different ways by every State as a 'priority', it is necessary that FAO must continue to enjoy the resources and the necessary trust of the international community as a whole".

The head of the Holy See delegation concluded by saying that, "the Holy See, for its part, wants to reaffirm the availability of the Catholic Church, its structure and organisational bodies, to contribute to this effort so that everybody can receive his 'daily bread', as the motto of FAO itself reminds us: Fiat panis!'"


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

US Bishops' Conference/Catholic Relief Services call for Strong international affairs budget. Please consider acting

Urge Congress to invest in a more prosperous and just world
Write your members of Congress now!

TAKE ACTION NOW! Ask your members of Congress to sign a bipartisan letter to President-elect Barack Obama in support of a strong international affairs budget that includes critical assistance for poor and marginalized people worldwide.

WHAT WILL THIS ACTION ACCOMPLISH? A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives has prepared a letter to President-elect Obama to urge him to include a strong international affairs budget in his overall proposal for the fiscal year 2010 U.S. government budget. While the current financial crisis is seriously straining our nation, now more than ever is the time for the U.S. to remain engaged in the world. A strong international affairs budget will demonstrate our nation’s commitment to help poor people. In the long-term, such investments will also promote a more stable world and protect the global economy.

WHY IS THE INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS BUDGET IMPORTANT? The U.S. international affairs budget includes overall funding levels for our nations’ investments in global humanitarian, economic, and diplomatic initiatives. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) receives some of the funding from the international affairs budget for its emergency response, agriculture, education, HIV and other health programs.

At this point in the process of developing the 2010 international affairs budget, CRS and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are principally concerned with advocating for the highest possible total funding level. That will allow the programs that we care about most the ones that feed millions of hungry people, save millions of lives affected by HIV, help poor people start their own business and become financially independent and educate millions of children around the globe to expand and multiply. It is only later in the budget process that we will focus our advocacy on specific programs that address poverty and injustice.

HOW MUCH MONEY IS THE U.S. INVESTING IN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS? The majority of Americans believe that we spend much more money on international affairs initiatives than we actually do. Only about one percent of the entire U.S. government budget or a little more than 34 billion funds international initiatives. While the international affairs budget has grown in recent years, it is still far less in real terms than at the height of the Cold War. Especially as the global economy faces challenges, the poor and marginalized need our assistance.

WHAT DOES THE INTERNATONAL AFFAIRS BUDGET HAVE TO DO WITH MY FAITH? Catholic social teaching is rooted in upholding the fundamental dignity of every human life and directs us to be in solidarity with our neighbors. As Catholics, we are called to help people who are poor, dying, and sick whether they live here in the United States or across all continents. A strong U.S. international affairs budget can demonstrate our nation’s moral commitment to upholding human life and dignity by providing much needed funding to programs that help feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the refugee, and heal the sick.

CRS and the USCCB welcome you to join our Catholic Campaign Against Global Poverty that seeks to address some of the root causes of global poverty. Please visit our campaign website to join today.

CDF new Bioethics Document...forthcoming

Bioethics document coming in December
Posted on November 26, 2008 by John Thavis from CNS news blog

VATICAN CITY — A new Vatican instruction on bioethics, prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is scheduled to be published Dec. 12, informed sources said Wednesday.

The document, under discussion for at least two years, is expected to examine ethical issues in biological research and health care that have emerged in recent years, including the cloning and freezing of human embryos, stem cell research and new therapeutic possibilities.

When members of the doctrinal congregation met in a plenary session last January, U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, congregation prefect, said much of their discussion focused on the field of bioethics.

At that time, the cardinal hinted that a document was in the works. He said it might examine new therapeutic options and some ethical problems that were not explicitly considered by two previous church documents: the doctrinal congregation’s instruction “Donum Vitae” (”The Gift of Life”) in 1987 and Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, “Evangelium Vitae” (”The Gospel of Life”) in 1995.

Pope Benedict XVI was head of the doctrinal congregation when both those documents were published. Addressing the congregation in January, the pope said the new problems included the freezing of human embryos, the selective reduction of embryos, pre-implant diagnosis, research on embryonic stem cells and attempts at human cloning.

The pope said the starting point for the church’s reflection remains the same:

"The two fundamental criteria for moral discernment in this field are unconditional respect for the human being as a person from the moment of conception to natural death, (and) respect for the originality of the transmission of human life through the acts proper to spouses."

The new document is expected to be unveiled at a Vatican press conference, the sources said.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Vatican Official Urges a Culture of Respect

Solidarity Called Christian Response to Migration

LIVERPOOL, England, NOV. 24, 2008 ( ).- In a world with more than 200 million migrants and refugees, the Vatican is encouraging a "culture of solidarity" that respects people's material and spiritual needs and, especially, their dignity.
Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, promoted this culture in a conference sponsored by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.

The Wednesday through Sunday conference focused on "The Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Foreign Students."

In the Church, the prelate observed in his address, no one is a foreigner, because it embraces every nation, race, people and tongue. Christ, moreover, is present in the Church, bringing it to walk "with and toward" him.

The unity of the Church, the archbishop continued, "does not stem from her members having an identical national or ethnic origin but from the Spirit of Pentecost, who makes all nations a new people whose goal is the Kingdom, whose condition is the freedom of sons and daughters, and whose statute is the law of love."

Thus, the Church feels that it is profoundly involved in the "evolution of civilization of which [human] mobility is a striking feature," and is therefore called "to proclaim peace also in situations of forced migrations," he said.

"To walk with and toward Jesus Christ, present in the refugees, a fundamental biblical vision has to sustain us," Archbishop Marchetto continued, noting that the history of salvation went through various stages regarding the treatment of foreigners.

"On the one hand there was some fear that relations with foreigners might lead to a loss of religious purity and consequently of national identity. The Israelites, in fact, had to protect themselves against this, with the consequential behavior whereby intermarriages were forbidden and observances of purity needed to be followed," he said.

In other cases, the prelate continued, "the stranger was to be treated in the same way as the Israelites," based in the outlook that sought justice also for the vulnerable: the poor, the widows and the orphans.

"The Israelites were therefore frequently reminded of God's special concern for the weak. […] [The weak] were not to be abused and were to receive equal treatment before the law," the archbishop explained.

Jesus, too

Christ would take up the same position, expressing a preference for the excluded who were considered ritually impure. Christ, the prelate affirmed, "does not hesitate to associate himself with foreigners."

This outlook was also promoted and transmitted by the first Christian communities, which built up "equality and unity among different peoples who gave witness to [Jesus] and announced the Gospel," he said.

Little by little, hospitality became an integral component of Christianity, the prelate continued, with structures such as monasteries, which provided room for travelers and care for the ill, as well as providing for the poor of the local community.

Refugees are "always in the heart of the Church" Archbishop Marchetto affirmed. Ministry should thus take into account both spiritual and physical needs, with special emphasis on protecting family unity.

Personal responsibility

The Church is guided in this ministry by the principles of social doctrine, the Vatican official continued. One of the main principles of this doctrine is the fundamental dignity of every human person, such that if a person cannot live a decent life in his homeland, "he has the right, under given circumstances, to move elsewhere."

Aware of the grave situations in which refugees find themselves, the archbishop added, the Church believes this problem can only be resolved with sincere international collaboration.

"In order for this to happen," he said, "it is necessary for a culture of solidarity and interdependence to spread and deeply penetrate the universal conscience and in this way sensitize public authorities, international organizations and private citizens to the duty of accepting and sharing with those who are poorest."

Long-term policy making should be accompanied by attention to the immediate needs of migrants and refugees who continue to knock at the doors of countries that enjoy a high level of development, the archbishop added.

Solidarity, he affirmed, "is the Christian response, both personal and collective, also for globalization. It begins in everyone's heart, when he considers the other -- and not only the poor -- a brother, a sister, rather even more, because he is a member of the body of Christ itself. And in exercising responsibility, no one can take my place in doing what I can do. Let each one of us therefore feel called to respond personally."

--- --- ---

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pope's Angelus meditation on Christ the King, Nov 23, 2008

Today, on this final Sunday of the liturgical year, the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe. We know from the Gospels that Jesus refused the title of king when this was intended in a political sense, along the lines of the "kings of the nations" (cf Mt 20:24). Instead, during his passion, he took upon himself a singular regalness before Pilate, who asked him: "Are you a king?" and Jesus replied: "You say I am a king" (Jn 18:37); but shortly before this he declared: "my kingdom is not one of this world" (Jn 18:36). The royalty of Christ, in fact, is the revelation and accomplishment of God the Father, who governs all things with love and justice. The Father entrusted to his Son the mission of giving eternal life to man, loving him even unto the supreme sacrifice, and at the same time conferring on him the power of judgment, from the moment he became Son of man, like us in every way (Jn 5:21-22,26-27).

Today's Gospel insists upon the universal royalty of Christ the Judge, with the magnificent parable of the final judgment, which St Matthew placed immediately before his account of the Passion (25:31-46). The images are simple, the language is common, but the message is extremely important: it is the truth on our ultimate destiny and on the criteria with which we will be valued. "I was hungry and you gave me good, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt 25:35) and so forth. Who isn't familiar with this? It's a part of our civilization. It's marked the story of the peoples of Christian culture: the hierarchy of values, institutions, the host of beneficial social works. In effect, the reign of Christ is not of this world, but brings to completion all the good that, thanks be to God, exists in man and in history. If we put into practice our love for our neighbor, according to the Gospel message, we then pave the way for the lordship of God, and his kingdom is realized by means of us. If instead each one thinks only of his own interests, the world can't help but go forward in ruins.

Dear friends, the kingdom of God is not a question of honors and appearances, but as St Paul writes, it is "justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rm 4:17). To the Lord takes our good to heart, that each man and woman might have life, and especially that his "smallest" of children might join in the banquet he has prepared for all. Thus he knows not what to make of those kind of hypocrites who say "Lord, Lord" and then transgress his commandments (cf Mt 7:21). In his eternal kingdom, God welcomes those who push themselves day after day to put into practice his word. For this the Virgin Mary, the humblest of all creatures, is the greatest in his eyes and sits as Queen at the right hand of Christ the King. To her heavenly intercession let us entrust ourselves again with a child's trust, that we might realize our Christian mission in the world.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Providing Help. Creating Hope.

VISION: Believing in the presence of God in our midst, we proclaim the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person by sharing in the mission of Jesus given to the Church. To this end, Catholic Charities works with individuals, families, and communities to help them meet their needs, address their issues, eliminate oppression, and build a just and compassionate society.

MISSION: To provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire Church and other people of good will to do the same.

GOALS: Catholic Charities is devoted to helping meet basic human needs, strengthening families, building communities and empowering low-income people. Committed to work to reduce poverty in half by 2020.

KEY VALUE: Hospitality

WHAT WE DO: Organizing Love. "As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community" (Deus Caritas Est, par. 20)

On Sunday (Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, A Cycle ) we read in Matthew's gospel about the story of the Last Judgment. We are confronted with the a final question: how did each of us respond to Jesus? Who, Lord? If we knew it was you, we certainly would have been there for you.....but no, we are challenged: how did you respond to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine? How you responded to them is how you responded to Me. We hear this echoed in the first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel, "The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal..." One artwork which helps articulate this idea includes the work "Christ of the Breadline" by Fritz Eichenberg (1901-1990)

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the Preacher of the Papal Household, writes in his reflections on these readings today: "The solemnity of Christ the King, with the Gospel of the final judgment, responds to the most universal of human hopes. It assures us that injustice and evil will not have the last word and at the same time it calls on us to live in such a way that justice is not a condemnation for us, but salvation, and we can be those to whom Christ will say: 'Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'"

At Catholic Charities, we are called to help others respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters, as though they were Jesus himself.

Some important date(s) this week:
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 27. Happy Thanksgiving. Please pray for the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall volunteers and staff, who are working today. Thanks for all you do!


That the testimony of love offered by the Saints, may fortify Christians in their service to God and neighbour, imitating Christ who came not to be served but to serve.
That Christian communities in Asia, contemplating the face of Christ, may find the most suitable way to announce Him in full fidelity to the Gospel to the peoples of that vast continent so rich in culture and ancient forms of spirituality.

Corporal Works of Mercy: The seven practices of charity toward our neighbor
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick
Visit those in prison
Bury the dead

See our website at for links to the our ministries and services.

For more information on Catholic Social Doctrine and its connection to our ministries, visit my blog at:

COR UNUM: Bishops Urged to Be Leaders in Charity

ZE08112106 - 2008-11-21

Cardinal Says It's a Responsibility of Evangelization

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 21, 2008 ( Bishops must be careful not to delegate too much charity work to others, as it's necessary that they take an active leadership role themselves, says the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, said this Thursday on Vatican Radio, after having returned from a trip to the United States. The cardinal participated in the U.S. bishops' fall meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, and met with directors of Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services.
Upon his return to Rome, the cardinal repeated his message to the U.S. bishops. He warned against a double risk: "on one hand, that bishops have the feeling that charitable works 'walk alone,' and on the other, that the organizations that carry them out are separate to the mission of the Church."
"It is necessary that bishops recover their responsibility in regard to evangelization, of which charitable action is a part," he explained.
Cor Unum's president reminded his listeners that the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" underlines "the responsibility of the bishop himself so that charity is a clearly ecclesial work. He cannot delegate completely to others: He must allow himself to be helped, always remembering that he is the decisive person in charitable work."

No accident

For Cardinal Cordes, "there is in the world today great sensitivity to the commandment to love one's neighbor," hence, "it's no accident that the Pope chose this argument for his first encyclical."
"With it, he wished to launch a message: If one loves one's neighbor, it is because he was first loved by God. Hence, it is necessary to communicate a dimension of faith to this humanism, to this philanthropy," he explained.
At present, especially in Western countries, there is a "temptation of secularism" in Catholic charitable organizations, a "tendency to be separate from the ecclesial mission," due to the fact that they must be very occupied in purely administrative aspects, explained the cardinal.
"This new orientation that tends to functionality, to social effects, does not imply necessarily an interest in the faith," he added.
The cardinal said "Deus Caritas Est" is very important, because it "underlines that the mission of the Church has two faces: to proclaim the Word of God and to do good, namely, to know that God loves his people."
In regard to the present economic crisis, Cardinal Cordes said that, although for now there has not been an increase of requests for aid in his dicastery, it is affecting the lack of liquidity.
In addition to the aid sent recently to assist the victims of the war in Congo, the cardinal mentioned the aid offered by his dicastery to those affected in the latest natural disasters, such as Pakistan's earthquake, the hurricanes that struck Cuba and Haiti, and the victims of the earthquake that recently shook China.
"This last case was a novelty,"' he said. "Despite the fact that continental China's relations with the Church aren't very easy, the Pope's aid was well received."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cardinal Rodríguez on World AIDS Day 2008

“Greater leadership on HIV is still needed as we mark the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Despite some progress, HIV is a major obstacle to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The pandemic causes incalculable human suffering. It threatens the social and economic infrastructure of the human family. More needs to be done.

“Children will be a key focus for Caritas in 2009. A third of adults who need them now receive the necessary anti-retroviral medications to live longer and better lives. But only 15 percent of children living with HIV get these essential drugs. Many die before their second birthday. Pharmaceutical companies and governments must show leadership by developing child friendly medicine for HIV and improving testing. We will be campaigning to prevent further loss of these vulnerable children.

“On the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day, I am immensely proud of the leadership of Caritas Internationalis, its 162 members and their Catholic Church partners in response to the HIV pandemic. Together, we provide a large proportion of all HIV healthcare in developing countries. We advocate at all levels for an end to discrimination and policies that are sensitive to the needs of those most vulnerable to the pandemic. Part of the essential “capital” of the poor person is good health. We will remain committed to raising those assets.”

Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care: Helping Sick Children


VATICAN CITY , 15 NOV 2008 ( VIS ) - The Pope today received participants in the Twenty-third International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. The meeting, which had as its theme this year "Pastoral Care in the Treatment of Sick Children", was held in the Vatican from 13 to 15 November.

The Holy Father indicated how the meeting had thrown light on the difficult conditions experienced by "large numbers of children in vast regions of the earth" and how, despite the fact that medical advances have considerably reduced infant mortality, "much remains to be done in this field. Suffice it to recall", he said, "that four million newborn infants under the age of 26 days die every year".

"Today's challenge is to prevent the emergence of many illnesses once typical of childhood and, overall, to favour the growth, development and maintenance of a correct state of health for all children".

After highlighting the difficulty in achieving "a proper balance between the continuation and abandonment of treatment so as to ensure adequate care for the young patients without giving way to the temptation of experimentalism", the Pope recalled how the focus of all medical activity "must always be the authentic good of the child, considered in his or her dignity as a human being with full rights. Children must, then, always be cared for with love, to help them face suffering and sickness, even before birth, in a way appropriate to their situation.

"Bearing in mind the emotional impact of the sickness the child must undergo, and of the treatment, which at times can be particularly invasive, it is important to ensure constant communication with the relatives", Benedict XVI added.

"The sick, and especially children, have a particular understanding of the language of tenderness and love as expressed though sensitive, patient and generous service, which in believers is animated by the desire to show the same predilection that Jesus showed for children", he said.

The Holy Father highlighted how "all human beings have an inherent value because created in the image of God, to Whose gaze they appear even more precious the weaker they seem in the eyes of man. With how much love, then, must we welcome a child not yet born and already affected with sickness". In this context he also mentioned "the orphaned or abandoned children of poverty and family disintegration, ... the innocent child victims of AIDS or war, ... and children who die through poverty drought or hunger.

"The Church", he added, "does not forget these the smallest of her children and if, on the one hand, she applauds the initiatives of the richer nations to improve the conditions for their development, on the other she feels the compelling duty to call for greater attention to be paid to these brothers and sisters, so that, thanks to our joint solidarity they may look upon life with trust and hope".

Benedict XVI concluded by thanking people "who commit their energies and material resources" to helping children. And he expressed particular appreciation "for our own 'Bambino Gesu' Hospital and the many Catholic social-healthcare associations and institutions which, following the example of Jesus Christ the Good Samaritan and animated by charity, bring human, moral and spiritual support and relief to so many suffering children, who are the objects of God's special love".

AC/SICK CHILDREN/... VIS 081117 (570)

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Says Some Humans Shouldn't Be Used for Others

By Carmen Villa

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 11, 2008 ( The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry is warning the president elect of the United States that it is unethical to give the green light to embryonic stem-cell research.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán said this today (11-11) during a press conference to present the dicastery's upcoming international conference on child illness. He was responding to a question regarding an announcement Sunday from Barack Obama's team that the future president would reverse the policy of George Bush and give the go-ahead to embryonic stem cell research.

A basic principle of bioethics, the cardinal recalled, is that "what builds up man is good, what destroys him is bad."

Noting that human dignity is an end in itself, and not a means that can be manipulated, the Vatican official affirmed: "One person can never be used as a means for another."

It is not possible to kill one human being to save another, he insisted.

Moreover, Cardinal Lozano Barragán noted that there are many other ways to get stem cells, such as by extracting them from the umbilical cord or other organs.

"When we're dealing with transplants that endanger neither the donor nor the receiver, everything is welcome; there is no question to the contrary," he said.

Furthermore, the prelate noted, there is misinformation in the public sphere about stem cells. They were initially presented as a "panacea," he said, but stem cells taken from embryos have yet to give any of the promised results.

Professor Alberto Ugazio, coordinator of the department of pediatric medicine at the Bambino Gesù hospital of Rome, seconded the cardinal's affirmation.

With the use of embryonic stem cells "not even one study has given positive results," he said. Meanwhile, the doctor explained, lives have been saved with stem cells taken from other parts of the body.

MONDAY MORNING MISSION MEDITATION for week of November 16, 2008

Providing Help. Creating Hope.

VISION: Believing in the presence of God in our midst, we proclaim the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person by sharing in the mission of Jesus given to the Church. To this end, Catholic Charities works with individuals, families, and communities to help them meet their needs, address their issues, eliminate oppression, and build a just and compassionate society.

MISSION: To provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire Church and other people of good will to do the same.

GOALS: Catholic Charities is devoted to helping meet basic human needs, strengthening families, building communities and empowering low-income people. Committed to work to reduce poverty in half by 2020.

KEY VALUE: Hospitality

WHAT WE DO: Organizing Love. "As a community, the Church must practise love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community" (Deus Caritas Est, par. 20)

On Sunday (33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, A Cycle) we read in Matthew's gospel about the story of the wise, and not so wise, stewards. Three persons were given various supplies of "talents." Some invested while another hide his talent. Jesus tells the story that when the master returned, he wanted to know what happened to those talents. Those who invested and increased their talent were praised and rewarded with more. In the letter from St. Paul to the Thessalonians we hear about the end times -- it could come like a thief in the night. We read in Proverbs about the praise for the faith-filled woman who lives a virtuous life. These readings all indicate the type of life a faithful disciple of the Lord is called to live.

At Catholic Charities, we too will be judged by how we live our lives, and invest our monies entrusted to us by many donors and grantees. One important area that we have invested our monies is to assist and empower young families with small children. "First Step for Change" helps and challenges these mostly single moms with children, to stabilize their lives. This program constitutes one of our critical priorities and core services. We pray that like the stewards in the Gospel story, we have invested monies wisely to help young families grow in virtue and find a path out of poverty.

Some important date(s) this week:
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17. St. Elizabeth of Hungary. (1207-1231) (Patroness of St. Elizabeth Hospital, Youngstown) Princess, the daughter of King Andrew of Hungary. Great-aunt of Saint Elizabeth of Portugal. She married Prince Louis of Thuringa at age 13. Built a hospital at the foot of the mountain on which her castle stood; tended to the sick herself. Her family and courtiers opposed this, but she insisted she could only follow Christ's teachings, not theirs. Once when she was taking food to the poor and sick, Prince Louis stopped her and looked under her mantle to see what she was carrying; the food had been miraculously changed to roses. Upon Louis' death, Elizabeth sold all that she had, and worked to support her four children. Her gifts of bread to the poor, and of a large gift of grain to a famine stricken Germany, led to her patronage of bakers and related fields.


That the testimony of love offered by the Saints, may fortify Christians in their service to God and neighbour, imitating Christ who came not to be served but to serve.
That Christian communities in Asia, contemplating the face of Christ, may find the most suitable way to announce Him in full fidelity to the Gospel to the peoples of that vast continent so rich in culture and ancient forms of spirituality.

Corporal Works of Mercy: The seven practices of charity toward our neighbor
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick
Visit those in prison
Bury the dead

See our website at for links to the our ministries and services.

For more information on Catholic Social Doctrine and its connection to our ministries, visit my blog at:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Vatican: Anniversary of Human Rights

VATICAN CITY, 13 NOV 2008 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presented the programme of events planned to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The initiatives, organised by his dicastery, are due to be held in the Vatican on 10 December.

Cardinal Martino explained that the aim of the initiatives is, “on the one hand, to celebrate that famous United Nations document and, on the other, to highlight its perennial value, underlining once again its importance as an educational tool and a guide for building a more just and united world.

“The Church”, he added, “holds that human rights express the transcendent dignity of human beings, the only creatures to be loved by God for themselves, the end and never the means; and she believes that the 1948 Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man was a moment of fundamental importance in mankind’s development of a moral conscience that accords with human dignity”.

The cardinal reiterated the fact that “the Church has made her own contributions, both through reflections on human rights in the light of the Word of God and of human reason (such as the treatment of the subject by Blessed John XXIII in his ‘Pacem in Terris’), and through her commitment to announce and denounce which has made her such a tireless paladin of the dignity of mankind and human rights in the sixty years since the 1948 Declaration”.

He continued: “The latest powerful testimony to the value of the Universal Declaration was that of the Holy Father Benedict XVI on 18 April this year when he visited the Untied Nations and declared: … ‘The merit of the Universal Declaration is that it has enabled different cultures, juridical expressions and institutional models to converge around a fundamental nucleus of values, and hence of rights’.

“On this basis, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, together with the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, will organise a celebration to take place in the Paul VI Hall on 10 December. The initiative will be divided into two phases. The first, at 4 p.m., will consist in a commemorative meeting dedicated to reflection and study, attended by heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia and by members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. Contributions on the value and importance of the Declaration will be forthcoming from Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B.; Juan Somavia, director general of the World Labour Organisation, and Jacques Diouf, director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.

At 6 p.m. that evening, Benedict XVI will attend a public concert by the Brandenburrgisches Staatsorchester of Frankfurt, led by the Spanish conductor, Inma Shara.

Shortly before the concert, the St. Matthew Foundation’s annual prizes in memory of Cardinal Van Thuan will be presented. Among this year’s winners is Cornelio Sommaruga, former president of the International Red Cross.

USCCB Statement: Hope/Obstacles for Obama Administration

Cardinal George Voices Hope for Obama Administration, Points to Possible Obstacles to Our Desired Unity

BALTIMORE—Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), voiced hope for the Obama Administration but pointed to possible obstacles to our desired unity, in a Nov. 12 statement at the end of the annual fall assembly of the USCCB.

"The bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all," he said.

He said that "the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve," if the administration's policies increase abortions.

"Aggressive pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion."

"We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation," he added. "The common good is not the sum total of individual interests: it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all."

Cardinal George's remarks follow.

STATEMENT of the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
"If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil." (Psalm 127, vs. 1)

The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this moment of historic transition and look forward to working with President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the common good of all. Because of the Church's history and the scope of her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our provision of better education and adequate health care for all, especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious freedom and foster peace at home and abroad. The Church is intent on doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government and all others working for these goods.

The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.

In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any "interference" in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the number of abortions in our country.

Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion. Abortion clinics would be deregulated. The Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated. FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.

FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.

On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.

The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.

This statement is written at the request and direction of all the Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great sacrifice to themselves and their families; and we are grateful. We express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation. The common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.

Our prayers accompany President-elect Obama and his family and those who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in government. Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of our elected "watchman." (Psalm 127) May God bless him and our country.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

USCCB Statement on Economic Crisis, 2008

"Solidarity at a Time of Economic Crisis"

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
November 11, 2008, General Session
His Eminence Cardinal Francis George, OMI, President

As the Catholic bishops of the United States gather in Baltimore, and as servants of Jesus our hope, we bring with us our concern for people in our dioceses, and we want to express our active support and solidarity with all those who are being hurt by the current economic crisis. As pastors and bishops, we see the many human and moral consequences of this crisis. Clearly, the impact is greater in some regions than others. However, across our nation families are losing their homes; retirement savings are threatened; workers are losing jobs and health care; and many people are losing a sense of hope and security.

This disturbing and complicated situation brings home a universal truth: we are all children of God. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. We are all in this together. Hard times can isolate us or they can bring us together. The Catholic community will continue to reach out to those in need, stand with those who are hurt, and work for policies that bring greater compassion, accountability and justice to economic life.

Pope Benedict XVI has outlined our goals in his 2008 World Day of Peace message: “The family needs to have a home, employment, and a just recognition of the domestic activity of parents, and the possibility of schooling for children, and basic health care for all.” He also insists that society and public policy should be “committed to assisting the family in these areas.”

We offer our prayers for the families and individuals, our sisters and brothers, who are hurting, anxious or discouraged in these difficult times. We also pledge our prayers for our wounded nation and suffering world. We pray that, working together, we can find the courage, wisdom and ways to build an economy of prosperity and greater justice for all.

Pope's Encyclical said to give charities encouragement/guidance: USCCB/Cardinal Cordes

Pope's encyclical said to give charities encouragement, guidance

By Patricia Zapor
Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Domestic and international charitable organizations have found encouragement and helpful guidance in Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est" ("God Is Love"), said the heads of Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Relief Services at a Nov. 9 workshop for bishops in Baltimore.

One of the themes of the nearly 3-year-old encyclical emphasizes the role of charity as an outward expression of love.

Cardinal Paul Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican agency that promotes and coordinates the church's charitable work, summarized the key connections between the 16,000-word encyclical and charity during the workshop preceding the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, said the encyclical has become a sort of strategic vision for the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency. "It has given us a new spirit," he said.

Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, a national network of diocesan social service agencies, said the encyclical was "an incredible gift" and also "a significant challenge."

Cardinal Cordes the next day addressed the whole conference of bishops, saying it was a great joy for Cor Unum that the pope's first encyclical would address the importance of charity in such a strong way.

The cardinal commended the U.S. bishops for their generosity to charitable programs around the world, and he cautioned that some charity work brings complications from connections to governments, such as requirements on whom an agency employs.

At the workshop, Hackett said the pope's call to charity is "not another form of philanthropy; rather it is rooted in our spirituality," and it underscores the centrality of the work of CRS in the life of the church. He also said it connects the church's teachings to the mission of CRS.

"This is what distinguishes a CRS from some of the other well-known humanitarian organizations, like CARE, Save the Children or Mercy Corps," Hackett said. "They all do excellent work and we collaborate on a regular basis. But our motivation and guidance comes from a very different place."

Hackett said CRS, which is based in Baltimore, sees its role as embodying the concern of Catholics in the United States for their brothers and sisters who live in poverty around the world, grounded in the belief "in the sacredness and fundamental dignity of every human life."

He said that is reflected in work such as rebuilding communities after the 2004 tsunami in Asia; aiding the victims of cyclones in Bangladesh and Burma, violence in the Congo or poverty in the Philippines; and improving agricultural techniques in poor regions.

"CRS loves our neighbors through projects that increase peoples' economic capacity through microcredit and that care for the most vulnerable members of society," said Hackett. "We embrace and comfort our neighbors affected by the HIV and AIDS pandemic."

Father Snyder said the encyclical has led Catholic Charities to look at the balance between professionalism in its field and the need for formation in Catholic teaching.

Professionalism is necessary, he noted, "not only because we must be accountable to donors, but because the poor deserve the best."

At the same time, as the pope said in the encyclical, our workers "must first be bearers of God's love," the priest said.

He said historically the church's charities have been managed by priests or religious whose primary training was in theology. "They may or may not have had management experience, but they had the theological formation," he said.

In the last 50 years, that balance has reversed, with managers of agencies now primarily having experience in management or providing services, but lacking the theological background.

Father Snyder said Catholic Charities USA, which is based in Alexandria, Va., has been trying to balance those demands by providing training in the church's social doctrine for its managers and volunteers. Programs range from local in-service sessions to an institute sponsored by the University of Notre Dame in Indiana that offers in-depth training for 10 agencies a year.

He said he would guess that about half the employees of Catholic Charities affiliates are not Catholic, but training in Catholic teaching is encouraged for all.


VATICAN CITY, 11 NOV 2008 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, a press conference was held to present the Twenty-third International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, which has as its theme this year: "Pastoral Care in the Treatment of Sick Children". The meeting is due to be held in the Vatican from 13 to 15 November.

Participating in today's event were Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, Bishop Jose L. Redrado O.H. and Fr. Felice Ruffini M.I, respectively president, secretary and under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care; Bruna Costacurta, professor of biblical exegesis in the faculty of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and Alberto G. Ugazio, co-ordinator of the department of paediatric medicine at Rome's "Bambino Gesu" Hospital.

In his remarks, Cardinal Lozano Barragan indicated that "in the last decade more than two million children have been killed in the course of armed conflict, six million have been left handicapped, tens of thousands mutilated by antipersonnel mines and 300,000 recruited as child soldiers. More than 4,300,000 children have died of AIDS.

"Poverty", he added, "remains the principal cause of childhood sickness. One billion two hundred thousand people live with less than a dollar a day. Even in the richest countries, one child in six lives under the poverty line. ... Two hundred and fifty million children under 15 work, including some 60 million who do so in dangerous conditions", while "many children and adolescents are left to their own devices. ... There are no controls on television programmes or on the Internet where they navigate without any kind of moral guidance. The sex trade, paedophilia, violence in schools, crimes, organised bands, etc., are all growing phenomena. ... Many families have relinquished their duty to educate" their children and "very often school education is reduced to mere information, with authentic formation being abandoned".

Having provided these statistics, the cardinal turned to focus on the forthcoming meeting's theme of caring for sick children. "In the first part of the conference, entitled 'Situation'", he said, "we will consider the reality and origin of childhood diseases. We will begin with the history of treating sick children in the world, the demographics of the infant population and their mortality rates. We will then study the principal sicknesses to which children are exposed before evaluating whether globalisation represents an opportunity or a risk for the sick. ... We will also examine the question of lifestyle and diet. ... As concerns the political side of the question, we will study .... legislation and healthcare systems. ... In its ecological aspects we will consider initiatives undertaken by the World Health Organisation".

In the second part of the conference, entitled "Reflection", participants will analyse "what Holy Scripture and the Fathers of the Church have to tell us about the cure of children, examining what those cures were over the course of Church history and the witness of the saints who consecrated their lives to caring for sick children. ... We will conclude our reflection with a dialogue on the great religions: Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism", said the cardinal.

"The third part of the conference is dedicated to 'Action'", Cardinal Lozano Barragan went on. "What kind of catechesis and formation in the faith do we need in order to face this serious problem? How must we proceed in sacramental terms towards these children? How can we use the psychological sciences in this form of treatment?. ... We will examine research into medicines, nutrition and lifestyle. ... From a socio-political standpoint, we will highlight the role that the social communications media, and national and international healthcare systems must have, ... as well as the problem of migration. ... At a personal level, we will ask ourselves about the role of the diocese, of the parish, of religious orders and congregations, and of volunteers".

The cardinal concluded by recalling that the conference will be attended "by 41 specialists from various countries, all of them highly qualified in their specific fields".