Wednesday, January 28, 2009


WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops urged Congress to make poor families and vulnerable workers central priorities as Congress adopts an economic recovery legislation.

Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), made the call in a January 28 letter to both houses of Congress.

“Low-income families and individuals are experiencing the greatest hardship and have the least capacity to cope in this time of economic crisis,” Bishop Murphy said in the letter, adding that these people are also more likely “to use these new resources quickly to purchase the essentials of life and to help move our economy forward.”

Citing the need to avoid partisan or ideological agendas and to focus on the needs of the poor, Bishop Murphy offered the bishops’ support for aspects of the proposed recovery legislation. These include increasing funds for nutrition assistance through food stamps and other programs, protecting low-income families from losing Medicaid and social service assistance, and extending Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. He also urged the House to reject measures that regarding contraception and immigration as unnecessary and inconsistent with the purposes of the recovery legislation.
Bishop Murphy echoed Pope Benedict XVI’s call to bolster the economy by focusing on the dignity of the human person, adding, “This is a time to pursue the common good, beginning with help for the families and communities most hurt by this crisis.”
FULL TEXT of the Senate version of the letter follows:

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I urge you to make the lives and dignity of poor families and vulnerable workers central priorities as Congress adopts an economic recovery package. Low-income families and individuals are experiencing the greatest hardship and have the least capacity to cope in this time of economic crisis. Low income people are also likely to use these new resources quickly to purchase the essentials of life and to help move our economy forward. Economic policies that assist and protect ‘the least among us’ are the right thing to do morally. I believe they are also very effective economically.

In this crucial moment, Congress should resist pressure to advance ideological or partisan agendas. New measures to expand contraception coverage or prescribe rules for immigrant employment are particularly inappropriate in legislation to promote economic recovery. Attention to those most affected by the crisis with priority for the poor and vulnerable can restore economic growth by rebuilding hope and opportunity for those who are losing their jobs, their homes, and their chance at a decent life for their families.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have begun consideration of different versions of the economic stimulus package entitled American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This legislation includes several measures that reflect a priority for poor and vulnerable people. Unfortunately, in our view, others do not.

We urge your consideration of these important provisions:

• We strongly support efforts to strengthen and expand the refundable child tax credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit that would offer assistance to millions more poor and working families. These proven vehicles can get resources to those who need them the most and are almost certain to use this help to purchase the essentials of a decent life. It is essential these tax provisions be structured to include those with the fewest resources and the greatest needs.

• We strongly oppose the specific sections that target efforts to expand coverage for family planning (and only family planning) for low-income and temporarily unemployed women. They neglect women’s real needs and serve no legitimate purpose for an economic stimulus package. A non-pregnant woman who loses her job but is ineligible for Medicaid, SCHIP, and other government health care may have an urgent need for basic health care coverage for herself and her family, as well as assistance in finding gainful employment. This focus could even reduce basic health coverage, by cancelling support for “benchmark” and “benchmark-equivalent” health benefits unless they begin including contraceptive coverage. Finally, by covering any other related services only if they are “pursuant to” provision of family planning and offered in a “family planning setting,” effectively makes family planning clinics (many of which are abortion providers) a necessary entry point into the health care system, ignoring women’s genuine needs as well as their moral convictions.

• We support efforts for a temporary increase in nutrition assistance with more resources for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), and expanding eligibility for unemployed workers and legal immigrants. Our experience at the local level convinces us that additional funding is also needed for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP); the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), all of which provide critical assistance for families in need, the unemployed, the disabled, and the elderly.

• We also strongly oppose a provision in the bill that would require the use of the E-verify employer verification system by every organization receiving funding from the stimulus package. This provision could slow down implementation of the package and any subsequent economic recovery, because organizations would have to enroll in, learn, and implement the system. As a recent Congressional Budget Office report detailed, the E-verify program would add to the costs borne by small businesses, state and local governments, schools, hospitals, and non-profit organizations mandated to enroll in the system. The Social Security Administration database upon which the E-verify system relies has unacceptably high error rates and could lead to the wrongful dismissals of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. We urge you to remove this provision from the bill and defer its consideration to a more appropriate vehicle, such as legislation that reforms the nation's immigration laws.

• We support efforts to protect low-income families from losing Medicaid and social service assistance. Temporarily increasing Federal Medicaid matching payments (FMAP) and providing grants to state and local governments for social service programs (SSBG) will help ensure that the safety net remains strong.

• We support increased funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help poor families cope with costly heating oil and gas bills.

• We support extending Unemployment Insurance benefits (UI) to people in states with disproportionately high unemployment rates. Changes should be made to existing, arbitrary, and unnecessary rules which result in nearly 60 percent of laid-off workers being excluded from UI benefits.

• We support funding increases to HUD's Emergency Shelter Grant program that helps families avoid eviction or obtain new housing. A million more families with children could fall into deep poverty as a result of this economic crisis, putting them at a particularly high risk of homelessness.

• We support capitalizing the new Housing Trust Fund, which will employ workers in the construction or rehabilitation of homes for families facing dire situations. This will assist families through what may be a lengthy recession. Likewise, additional funding for additional housing vouchers would offer access to stable, affordable housing for vulnerable families.

• We support efforts to create jobs for unemployed and underemployed people in private, non-profit, and public sectors that advance important national priorities, reflect good stewardship of resources, and meet urgent and emerging needs (e.g. alternative energy, environment, and infrastructure).

We urge Congress to act quickly and wisely with a constant attention to addressing the human impact and moral dimensions of this recession. As Pope Benedict XVI in his recent address to members of the diplomatic corps reminds us, “Bolstering the economy demands rebuilding confidence. This goal will only be reached by implementing an ethics based on the innate dignity of the human person.” This is no time to seek economic or partisan advantage. This is a time to pursue the common good, beginning with help for the families and communities most hurt by this crisis.
I pray that working together you can find the courage, wisdom, and skill to build a prosperous economy with greater justice for all.

Most Rev. William F. Murphy
Bishop of Rockville Centre
Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vatican Official in US: Immigration Has Benefits

Says Migration Is Opportunity for Interreligious Dialogue

SAN DIEGO, California, JAN. 27, 2009 ( ).- Immigration presents both a challenge and an opportunity, and requires the promotion of authentic integration as well as respect for the dignity of each person, affirmed a Vatican official in California.
Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, said this today in an address at San Diego University. The theme of the conference was "Religion, Migration and National Identity."

Archbishop Marchetto spoke about the cultural identity of migrants, easily lost when they move to a new society, and the need to prepare people for this step through pre-migration educational programs.

He addressed the need for genuine integration of migrants into their host society, avoiding the extremes of total rejection of the new culture and its consequent marginalization, or the migrant's adoption of the "local cultural model without in the least attempting to evaluate its consequences on the way they conduct their own lives."

The prelate stated that this intercultural integration through dialogue is the responsibility of the immigrant as well as the host society.

He continued, "A simple juxtaposition of groups of migrants and locals tends to encourage a reciprocal closure between cultures, or the establishment, among them, of relations that are merely superficial or tolerant. We should encourage instead a mutual fecundation of cultures."

Archbishop Marchetto addressed the importance of emphasizing respect for the dignity of each person, including respect for their cultural practices and religious traditions.

He pointed out that due to the link between culture and religion, "international migration has become a golden opportunity not only for dialogue between cultures, but also for interreligious dialogue."

He added, "If therefore society wants to benefit from international migration, then it must respect the freedom of migrants to profess, practice and even change their religion."

In this regard, the archbishop advocated the principle of reciprocity, "a relationship based on mutual respect and on justice in juridical and religious matters" that "enables us to live together everywhere with equal rights and duties."

He concluded by affirming the "treasure" of plurality of cultures, and the need to promote the value of unity, living as one human family according to God's design.

--- --- ---

On the Net:

Full text:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bishops Welcome Obama Executive Order Banning Torture

WASHINGTON—An executive order banning torture signed by President Barack Obama was welcomed by Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

"Based upon the teachings of the Catholic Church, our Conference of Bishops welcomes the executive order," Bishop Hubbard said. "Together with other religious leaders, we had pressed for this step to protect human dignity and help restore the moral and legal standing of the United States in the world."

He added: "A ban on torture says much about us – who we are, what we believe about human life and dignity, and how we act as a nation."

In their November 2007 document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the U.S. bishops declared that "direct assaults on innocent human life and violations of human dignity, such as genocide, torture, racism, and the targeting of noncombatants in acts of terror or war, can never be justified" (No. 23). The bishops asserted: "The use of torture must be rejected as fundamentally incompatible with the dignity of the human person and ultimately counterproductive in the effort to combat terrorism" (No. 81).

In September 2007 Pope Benedict XVI, echoing the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, said "[T]he prohibition against torture 'cannot be contravened under any circumstance.'"

President Obama's Reversal of Mexico City Policy 'Very Disappointing,'

WASHINGTON—The decision by President Barack Obama to reverse the Mexico City Policy is "very disappointing," said Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

He made the statement January 23, after President Obama issued the executive order restoring U.S. funding to organizations that perform and promote abortion in developing nations. Cardinal Rigali's statement follows.

"It is very disappointing that President Obama has reversed the Mexico City Policy, which prevents U.S. funding of organizations that perform and promote abortion as a family planning method in developing nations. An Administration that wants to reduce abortions should not divert U.S. funds to groups that promote abortions.

"Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to President-elect Obama last week urging him to retain this policy. As Cardinal George said in his letter:

"'The Mexico City Policy, first established in 1984, has wrongly been attacked as a restriction on foreign aid for family planning. In fact, it has not reduced such aid at all, but has ensured that family planning funds are not diverted to organizations dedicated to performing and promoting abortions instead of reducing them. Once the clear line between family planning and abortion is erased, the idea of using family planning to reduce abortions becomes meaningless, and abortion tends to replace contraception as the means for reducing family size. A shift toward promoting abortion in developing nations would also increase distrust of the United States in these nations, whose values and culture often reject abortion, at a time when we need their trust and respect.'"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Holy See and Gaza: Humanitarian Relief


VATICAN CITY, 17 JAN 2009 (VIS) - "In the face of the unrelenting conflict in the Gaza Strip, which has provoked a major humanitarian crisis, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has affirmed several times his closeness to our brothers and sisters, who have already suffered so much", reads a communique released today.

"In his name, the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum', the dicastery of the Holy See entrusted with implementing the charitable initiatives of the Holy Father, has sent a personal concrete sign to aid the relief efforts of the small but fervent Catholic presence in Gaza. It is directed to Fr. Manuel Musallam, pastor of Holy Family Church, the Missionaries of Charity, and other religious congregations, who serve those especially vulnerable in the homeland of Jesus, now being tragically scourged by death, human pain, material damage, and tears that cry out for peace".

CON-CU/AID GAZA/... VIS 090119 (150)


VATICAN CITY, 17 JAN 2009 (VIS) - On 16 January, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, participated in the tenth emergency special session of the U.N. General Assembly dedicated to: " Illegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory: draft resolution (A/ES-10/L.21)".

Speaking English, Archbishop Migliore turned his attention to "the dramatic situation in Gaza and some Israeli cities", expressing his solidarity "with the civilians in those regions who bear the brunt of a cruel conflict". He also highlighted the need "to step up the pace of the joint diplomatic efforts and ensure that urgent humanitarian assistance reaches those in need.

"The Holy See asks that Security Council resolution 1860, of 8 January, which calls for an immediate and enduring ceasefire as well as for unimpeded humanitarian assistance, be implemented fully", he added. "In the past few days we have witnessed a practical failure from all sides to respect the distinction of civilians from military targets. Within the context of this resolution, we call on all parties to fully abide by the requirements of international humanitarian law, in order to ensure the protection of civilians".

Over sixty years of coexistence, he went on, Israelis and Palestinians have "witnessed a long succession of conflict, but also of dialogue, including the Madrid meetings, the Oslo Accords, the Wye Memorandum, the peace process of the Quartet, the road map and the Annapolis Conference with their two State solution. Unfortunately, however, the many efforts to establish peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples have so far failed", he noted.

"The United Nations has the weighty task to get the parties to respect the ceasefire, pave the way to negotiations and agreements between them and ensure humanitarian assistance. In particular, this General Assembly can assist the parties in the conflict to discover new patterns for establishing peace, patterns based on mutual acceptance and co-operation amid diversity".


Sunday, January 18, 2009


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 (2nd Week of Ordinary Time, B Cycle) we read how Jesus' earliest disciples started to follow him. Jesus questions them: "what are you looking for?" The disciples do not know how to answer but rather change the topic and ask where he lives. Jesus invites them: "Come and see." We hear in the first reading from Samuel, that the Lord is persistent in His calling each of us; we have to be open to hearing that Word of invitation. St. Paul reminds the faith community at Corinth that as we respond to the Lord's call, everything changes: we are the Lord's and are called upon to act and be different.

In Catholic Charities we must demonstrate the same openness to each person who comes through our doors or call us on the phone. Since we continue Jesus' healing and loving ministry, we must be, look, and act differently with, to and for our clients. We are places of radical hospitality; people of great welcome no matter the need or fear you have, "Come and See."

Some important date(s) this week:

SUNDAY JANUARY 18-JANUARY 24: National Week: Christian Unity.

MONDAY JANUARY 19. National Holiday. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. See Bishop's Murry talk on Martin Luther King and call to reduce poverty as reported in the Youngstown Vindicator.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 22. St. Vincent Palloti. 1795-1850. Born to the Italian nobility. Priest. Taught theology. He lived in constant danger working with the sick during a cholera epidemic. Highly successful fund-raiser for charities for the poor. Founded guilds for workers, agricultural schools, loan associations, orphanages and homes forgirls. Felt a strong calling to bring Christ to Muslims, and founded a program to incorporatelay people in the apostolate of priests. Founded the Pious Society of Missions (Pallottines) for urban mission work. Started the special observance of the Octave of Epiphany for the reunion of theEastern and Roman Churches, and the return of the Church in England.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 23. St. John the Almoner. 550-616. Cypriot nobility; son of the governer of Cyprus. Married briefly, and father of one child. Entered the religious life when his wifeand child died of disease. Patriarch of Alexandria in 608. Archbishop. Known as the Almoner because of his generosity to thepoor. Helped refugees from Persian assults on the Holy Lands. Forced to leave Alexandria when the Persians threatened to overrun it, he returned to his home on Cyprus. Predicted the date of his own death.


January 2009
General: That the family may become more and more a place of training in charity, personal growth and transmission of the faith.

Mission: That the different Christian confessions, aware of the need for a new evangelisation in this period of profound transformations, may be committed to announcing the Good News and moving towards the full unity of all Christians in order to offer a more credible testimony of the Gospel.

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:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Holy See Decries Use of Civilians as Shields

ZE09011510 - 2009-01-15

Says Casualties Are Not Mere Side Effect of War

NEW YORK, JAN. 15, 2009 ( Civilian casualties in conflicts are not just a side effect of war; rather, civilians are being purposefully used to achieve political or military gains, the Holy See says.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, attested this on Wednesday at the U.N. Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.

He noted that the Security Council has been dealing with the topic of protecting civilians for more than 10 years.

"Yet," he said, "civilian security during conflict is becoming more and more critical, if not at times dramatic, as we have been witnessing in these past months, weeks and days in the Gaza Strip, Iraq, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name just a few."

The Holy See representative lamented that the "overwhelming mistreatment of civilians in too many parts of the world does not seem to be just a side effect of war. We continue to see civilians deliberately targeted as a means for achieving political or military gains."

Archbishop Migliore declared that in the past few days, there has been "practical failure, from every side, to respect the distinction of civilians from military targets."

"It is sadly clear," he said, "that political and military designs supersede basic respect for the dignity and rights of persons and communities, when methods or armaments are used without taking all reasonable measures to avoid civilians; when women and children are used as a shield for combatants; when humanitarian access is denied in the Gaza Strip; when people are displaced and villages destroyed in Darfur; and when we see sexual violence devastating the lives of women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

Responsible leadership

Archbishop Migliore contended that the first solution for such a scenario is "first and foremost good political will and action."

"Protection of civilians must be based on a widespread responsible exercise of leadership," he stated. "This requires leaders to exercise the right to defend their own citizens or the right to self-determination by resorting only to legitimate means; and it requires them to fully recognize their responsibility toward the international community and respect other states and communities' right to exist and coexist in peace.

"The broad spectrum of mechanisms the U.N. is putting in place to ensure the protection of civilians will be successful if, at the very least, it is able to foster a culture of responsible exercise of leadership among its members and holds them and every party in a conflict accountable to such a responsibility toward individuals and communities."

Bigger guns

Finally, the Holy See representative lamented that the "increasing burden of war casualties and consequences imposed on civilians comes also from the massive production, continued innovation and sophistication of armaments."

"The ever higher quality and availability of small arms and light weapons, as well as anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, tragically make the killing of human beings that much easier and more efficient," he said.

In this context, the archbishop's delegation expressed its support for the objectives of a U.N. general assembly resolution regarding an arms trade treaty, "which lays down the first important step toward a legally binding instrument on arms trade and transfers."

The archbishop also noted the support of the Holy See for the adoption of the Cluster Munitions Convention.

He encouraged countries to ratify this treaty "as a matter of priority and a sign of their commitment to addressing civilian casualties."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Letter from Francis Cardinal George, USCCB President, to President -elect Obama and House/Senate

January 13, 2009
The Honorable Barack Obama President-elect
Presidential Transition Team Washington, D.C. 20270

Dear Mr. President-elect,

As our nation begins a new year, a new Administration and a new Congress, I write to outline principles and priorities that guide the public policy efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). As President of the Bishops' Conference, I assure you of our prayers, hopes and commitment to make this period of national change a time to advance the common good and defend the life and dignity of all, especially the vulnerable and poor. We continue to seek ways to work constructively with the new Administration and Congress and others of good will to pursue policies which respect the dignity of all human life and bring greater justice to our nation and peace to our world.

As Bishops, we approach public policy as pastors and teachers. Our moral principles have always guided our everyday experience in caring for the hungry and homeless, offering health care and housing, educating children and reaching out to those in need. We lead the largest community of faith in the United States, one that serves every part of our nation and is present in almost every place on earth. From our experience and our tradition, we offer a distinctive, constructive and principled contribution to the national dialogue on how to act together on issues of economic turmoil and suffering, war and violence, moral decency and human dignity.

Our nation now faces economic challenges with potentially tragic human consequences and serious moral dimensions. We will work with the new Administration and Congress to support strong, prudent and effective measures to address the terrible impacts and injustices of the economic crisis. In particular, we will advocate a clear priority for poor families and vulnerable workers in the development and implementation of economic recovery measures, including new investments while strengthening the national safety net. We also support greater accountability and oversight to address irresponsible abuses of the system that contributed to the financial crisis.

The Catholic Bishops of the United States have worked for decades to assure health care for all, insisting that access to decent health care is a basic human right and a requirement of human dignity. We urge comprehensive action to ensure truly universal health care coverage which protects all human life including pre-natal life, and provides access for all, with a special concern for the poor. Any such legislation ought to respect freedom to choose by offering a variety of options and ensuring respect for the moral and religious convictions of patients and providers. Such an approach should seek to restrain costs while sharing them equitably.

On international affairs, we will work with our leaders to seek a responsible transition in an Iraq free of religious persecution. We especially urge early, focused and persistent leadership to bring an end to violent conflict and a just peace in the Holy Land. We will continue to support essential U.S. investments to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through increased and reformed foreign assistance. Continued U.S. leadership in the fight against HIV-AIDS and other diseases in ways that are both effectively and morally appropriate have our enthusiastic backing. Recognizing the complexity of climate change, we wish to be a voice for the poor and vulnerable in our country and around the world who will be the most adversely affected by any dramatic threats to the environment.

We will work with the new Administration and Congress to fix a broken immigration system which harms both our nation and immigrants. Comprehensive reform is needed to deal with the economic and human realities of millions of immigrants in our midst. It must be based on respect for and implementation of the law. Equally it must defend the rights and dignity of all peoples, recognizing that human dignity comes from God and does not depend on where people were born or how they came to our nation. Truly comprehensive immigration reform will include a path to earned citizenship with attention to the fact that international trade and development policies influence economic opportunities in the countries from which immigrants come.

We stand firm in our support for marriage which is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman and must remain such in law. In a manner unlike any other relationship, marriage makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the common good of society, especially through the procreation and education of children. No other kinds of personal relationships can be justly made equivalent to the commitment of a man and a woman in marriage.

With regard to the education of children, we will continue to support initiatives which provide resources for all parents, especially those of modest means, to choose education which best address the needs of their children.

We welcome continuing commitments to empower faith-based groups as effective partners in overcoming poverty and other threats to human dignity. We will work with the Administration and Congress to strengthen these partnerships in ways that do not encourage government to abandon its responsibilities, and do not require religious groups to abandon their identity and mission.

Most fundamentally, we will work to protect the lives of the most vulnerable and voiceless members of the human family, especially unborn children and those who are disabled or terminally ill. We will consistently defend the fundamental right to life from conception to natural death. Opposed to abortion as the direct killing of innocent human life, we will encourage one and all to seek common ground that will reduce the number of abortions in morally sound ways that affirm the dignity of pregnant women and their unborn children. We will oppose legislative and other measures to expand abortion. We will work to retain essential, widely supported policies which show respect for unborn life, protect the conscience rights of health care providers and other Americans, and prevent government funding and promotion of abortion. The Hyde amendment and other provisions which for many years have prevented federal funding of abortion have a proven record of reducing abortions. Efforts to force Americans to fund abortions with their tax dollars would pose a serious moral challenge and jeopardize the passage of essential health care reform.

This outline of USCCB policies and priorities is not complete. There are many other areas of concern and advocacy for the Church and the USCCB especially: religious freedom and other civil and human rights, news media and communications, and issues of war and peace. For a more detailed description of our concerns please see Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (USCCB 2008), pages 19-30.

Nonetheless, we offer this outline as an agenda for dialogue and action. We hope to offer a constructive and principled contribution to national discussion over the values and policies that will shape our nation's future. We seek to work together with our nation's leaders to advance the common good of our society, while disagreeing respectfully and civilly where necessary for preserving that same common good.

In closing, I renew our expression of hope and our offer of cooperation as you begin this new period of service to our nation in these challenging times. We promise our prayers for you, that the days ahead will be a time of renewal and progress for our nation and that we can work together to defend human life and dignity and build a nation of greater justice and a world at peace.

Monday, January 12, 2009


WASHINGTON—Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, Utah, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, urged President-elect Barak Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon to work together to end abuses against migrants—both in the United States and Mexico—and to address “push” factors that compel migrants to undertake dangerous journeys to the United States. President-elect Obama and President Calderon were scheduled to meet in Washington on Monday, January 12.

“The issue of illegal immigration transcends borders and must be addressed on a regional, if not hemispheric, level. The United States and Mexico must cooperate to ensure that policies are adopted that permit migrants to migrate and work in a safe and controlled manner,” Bishop Wester said. “Today, they are subject to abuse and exploitation by unscrupulous employers and human smugglers and other criminal elements, as well as to lengthy and unnecessary detention in substandard jails.”
“Sadly, many have died tragically in the American or Mexican desert,” he said. Since 1994, more than 4,000 migrants have died attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
In addition, Bishop Wester stated that the two leaders should work to economically develop poor areas in Mexico and other nations of Latin America so migrants and their families can remain in their countries of origin and work and live in dignity.

President-elect Obama’s immigration reform platform, announced during the presidential campaign, includes efforts to address the root causes of migration from Mexico. President Calderon has emphasized the need for job creation in Mexico for low-skilled workers.

“The long-term solution to illegal immigration is not militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, but economic development in poor nations,” Bishop Wester stated. “At a minimum, U.S. trade and international economic policies should not contribute to this forced migration.”

“Migrants risk their well-being and lives to migrate in order to find work and support their families—it is a decision made out of necessity, not choice,” he added. “As a global institution present in both sending and receiving nations, the Catholic Church understands the economic and social forces that drive migrants to leave their families and home and seek work in another land.” Church-based organizations in both the United States and Mexico daily respond to the basic humanitarian needs of migrants and families separated across borders.

“The two nations must build bridges of cooperation, not walls of separation,” Bishop Wester said.

Upon his visit to the United States in April, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI and President Bush issued a statement recognizing the “need for coordinated immigration policies” between the United States and Latin American countries, “above all with regard to human treatment and the well-being of families.”

In the near future, the United States must reform national immigration laws, so that undocumented persons can come out of the shadows and fully participate in society. “Reform of U.S. immigration laws is crucial to ensure family unity and protect human dignity,” Bishop Wester said. “A majority of immigrant families in the United States have one or more members who are out-of-status and who are at risk of separation. They live in fear and alienation from the community.”
Mexico also must examine and reform its immigration laws, so that migrants from Central and South America are not subject to exploitation. In 2003, the U.S. and Mexican Catholic bishops issued a joint pastoral statement which outlined steps each nation should take to repair flawed immigration systems.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

MONDAY MORNING MISSION MEDITATION for week of January 11, 2009

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 (The Baptism of the Lord, B Cycle) we end the Christmas season with another "epiphany" of who the Christ is: Jesus, the Son of God. All week, the Liturgical readings have been sharing that many thought that John the Baptist might be the One. But John insisted that he "must decrease" as he pointed the way to Jesus, "who must increase." In today's Gospel, we see signs from God about the "identity" of His Son in his baptism and call to ministry: the tearing of the heavens, the sign of the Spirit, the appearance of the dove, and the Voice of God declaring favor. As John the Baptist points out the way to Jesus, we read in the second reading from St. John to his community, that we are children of God and are called upon to live out his commandments, especially the commandment to love. St John further reflects that God's commandments are "not burdensome" but rather Spirit giving.

In Catholic Charities we share in knowing our identity as tied to the Spirit....we are the service ministry of the Church that organizes to one another. When persons and families visit us, we are that incarnated face of love, living out our baptismal call to serve and proclaim Good News. Catholic Charities provides that place where persons and families can come, see and feel the love of God, without burden; without cost. Our goal, like the prophet Isaiah proclaims, is to be that encounter on behalf of the Church with those in need, and call out: "All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!."

Some important date(s) this week:

MONDAY January 12 and Tuesday January 13: Workshops on Human Trafficking. Human Trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Victims of human trafficking are young children, teenagers, men and women. Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 victims annually are trafficked across international borders world wide, and thousands are trafficked every year right here in the United States.This program will be presented by Theresa Flores, author of The Sacred Bath, and is a must for parents, teachers, school counselors, students, social workers, social service and health providers. Catholic Charities in collaboration with Collaborative Initiative to End Human Trafficking/Religious Women are sponsoring three workshops: Jan 12 in Canton in the evening; Jan 13 at Cardinal Mooney in the morning (9 AM) and at St. Columba Hall, 6:30-8:30 pm. Call 330-744-8451 ext 320 for more information.

SATURDAY, January 17. St. Anthony the Abbot 251-356.
Following the death of his parents when he was about 20, Anthony insured that his sister completed her education, then he sold his house, furniture, and the land he owned, gave the proceeds to the poor, joined the anchorites who lived nearby, and moved into an empty sepulchre. At age 35 he moved to the desert to live alone; he lived 20 years in an abandoned fort. Anthony barricaded the place for solitude, but admirers and would-be students broke in. Hemiraculously healed people, and agreed to be the spiritual counselor of others. His recommendation was to base life on the Gospel. Word spread, and so many disciples arrived that Anthony founded two monasteries on the Nile, one at Pispir, one at Arsinoe. Many of those who lived near him supported themselves by making baskets and brushes, and from that came hispatronage of those trades. Descriptions paint him as uniformly modest and courteous. His example led many to take up themonastic life, and to follow his way. Late in life Anthony became a close friend of Saint Paul the Hermit, and he buried the aged anchorite, leading to his patronage of gravediggers. .His relationship with pigs and patronage of swineherds is a little complicated. Skin diseases were sometimes treated with applications of pork fat, which reduced inflammation and itching. As Anthony’s intervention aided in the same conditions, he was shown in art accompanied by a pig. People who saw the art work, but did not have it explained, thought there was a direct connection between Anthony and pigs - and people who worked with swine took him as their patron.


January 2009
General: That the family may become more and more a place of training in charity, personal growth and transmission of the faith.

Mission: That the different Christian confessions, aware of the need for a new evangelisation in this period of profound transformations, may be committed to announcing the Good News and moving towards the full unity of all Christians in order to offer a more credible testimony of the Gospel.

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:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

HOLY SEE Annual "State of the World" report to Diplomatic Corps

In his traditional New Year's greeting to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, this morning the Pope delivered the Vatican's annual "State of the World" address, here below in its official English translation:

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The mystery of the incarnation of the Word, which we re-live each year on the Solemnity of Christmas, invites us to reflect on the events marking the course of history. And it is precisely in the light of this hope-filled mystery that this traditional meeting takes place with you, the distinguished members of the diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See – a meeting which, at the beginning of this new year, offers us a fitting occasion to exchange cordial good wishes. I express my gratitude to His Excellency Ambassador Alejandro Valladares Lanza for the good wishes he has kindly offered me, for the first time as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps. My respectful greeting also goes to each of you, along with your families and staff, and, through you, to the peoples and governments of the countries which you represent. For everyone I ask God to grant the gift of a year rich in justice, serenity and peace.

At the dawn of this year 2009, I think with affection of all those who have suffered – whether as a result of grave natural catastrophes, particularly in Vietnam, Myanmar, China and the Philippines, in Central America and the Caribbean, and in Columbia and Brazil; or as a result of violent national or regional conflicts; or again as a result of terrorist attacks which have sown death and destruction in countries like Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Algeria. Despite so many efforts, the peace we so desire still remains distant! Faced with this reality, we must not grow discouraged or lessen our commitment to a culture of authentic peace, but rather redouble our efforts on behalf of security and development. In this regard, the Holy See wished to be among the first to sign and ratify the "Convention on Cluster Munitions", a document which also has the aim of reaffirming international humanitarian law. On the other hand, while noting with concern the signs of crisis appearing in the area of disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, the Holy See has continued to reaffirm that peace cannot be built when military expenses divert enormous human and material resources from projects for development, especially the development of the poorest peoples.

It is towards the poor, the all too many poor people on our planet, that I would like to turn my attention today, taking up my Message for the World Day of Peace, devoted this year to the theme: "Fighting Poverty To Build Peace". The insightful analysis of Pope Paul VI in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio has lost none of its timeliness: "Today we see people trying to secure a sure food supply, cures for disease, and steady employment. We see them trying to eliminate every ill, to remove every obstacle which offends man’s dignity. They are constantly striving to exercise greater personal responsibility; to do more, to learn more and to have more, in order to be more. And yet, at the same time, so many people continue to live in conditions which frustrate these legitimate desires" (No. 6). To build peace, we need to give new hope to the poor. How can we not think of so many individuals and families hard pressed by the difficulties and uncertainties which the current financial and economic crisis has provoked on a global scale? How can we not mention the food crisis and global warming, which make it even more difficult for those living in some of the poorest parts of the planet to have access to nutrition and water? There is an urgent need to adopt an effective strategy to fight hunger and to promote local agricultural development, all the more so since the number of the poor is increasing even within the rich countries. In this perspective, I am pleased that the recent Doha Conference on financing development identified some helpful criteria for directing the governance of the economic system and helping those who are most in need. On a deeper level, bolstering the economy demands rebuilding confidence. This goal will only be reached by implementing an ethics based on the innate dignity of the human person. I know how demanding this will be, yet it is not a utopia! Today more than in the past, our future is at stake, as well as the fate of our planet and its inhabitants, especially the younger generation which is inheriting a severely compromised economic system and social fabric.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if we wish to combat poverty, we must invest first and foremost in the young, setting before them an ideal of authentic fraternity. During my apostolic visits in the past year, I was able to meet many young people, especially in the extraordinary context of the celebration of the Twenty-third World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia. My apostolic journeys, beginning with my visit to the United States, also allowed me to assess the expectations of many sectors of society with regard to the Catholic Church. In this sensitive phase of the history of humanity, marked by uncertainties and questioning, many people expect the Church to exercise clearly and courageously her mission of evangelization and her work of human promotion. It was in this context that I gave my address at the headquarters of the United Nations Organization: sixty years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I wished to stress that this document is founded on the dignity of the human person, which in turn is based on our shared human nature, which transcends our different cultures. A few months later, during my pilgrimage to Lourdes for the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the appearances of the Virgin Mary to Saint Bernadette, I sought to emphasize that the message of conversion and love which radiates from the grotto of Massabielle remains most timely, as a constant invitation to build our own lives and the relations between the world’s peoples on the foundation of authentic respect and fraternity, in the awareness that this fraternity presupposes that all men and women have a common Father, God the Creator. Moreover, a society which is "secular" in a healthy way does not ignore the spiritual dimension and its values, since religion – and I thought it helpful to repeat this during my pastoral visit to France – is not an obstacle but rather a solid foundation for the building of a more just and free society.

Acts of discrimination and the very grave attacks directed at thousands of Christians in this past year show to what extent it is not merely material poverty, but also moral poverty, which damages peace. Such abuses, in fact, are rooted in moral poverty. As a way of reaffirming the lofty contribution which religions can make to the struggle against poverty and the building of peace, I would like to repeat in this assembly, which symbolically represents all the nations of the world, that Christianity is a religion of freedom and peace, and it stands at the service of the true good of humanity. To our brothers and sisters who are victims of violence, especially in Iraq and in India, I renew the assurance of my paternal affection; to the civil and political authorities, I urgently request that they be actively committed to ending intolerance and acts of harassment directed against Christians, to repairing the damage which has been done, particularly to the places of worship and properties; and to encouraging by every means possible due respect for all religions, outlawing all forms of hatred and contempt. I also express my hope that, in the Western world, prejudice or hostility against Christians will not be cultivated simply because, on certain questions, their voice causes disquiet. For their part, may the disciples of Christ, in the face of such adversity, not lose heart: witness to the Gospel is always a "sign of contradiction" vis-à-vis "the spirit of the world"! If the trials and tribulations are painful, the constant presence of Christ is a powerful source of strength. Christ’s Gospel is a saving message meant for all; that is why it cannot be confined to the private sphere, but must be proclaimed from the rooftops, to the ends of the earth.

The birth of Christ in the lowly stable of Bethlehem leads us naturally to think of the situation in the Middle East and, in the first place, in the Holy Land, where, in these days, we have witnessed a renewed outbreak of violence provoking immense damage and suffering for the civilian population. This situation further complicates the quest for a settlement of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, something fervently desired by many of them and by the whole world. Once again I would repeat that military options are no solution and that violence, wherever it comes from and whatever form it takes, must be firmly condemned. I express my hope that, with the decisive commitment of the international community, the ceasefire in the Gaza strip will be re-established – an indispensable condition for restoring acceptable living conditions to the population –, and that negotiations for peace will resume, with the rejection of hatred, acts of provocation and the use of arms. It is very important that, in view of the crucial elections which will involve many of the inhabitants of the region in coming months, leaders will emerge who can decisively carry forward this process and guide their people towards the difficult yet indispensable reconciliation. This cannot be reached without the adoption of a global approach to the problems of these countries, with respect for the legitimate aspirations and interests of all parties. In addition to renewed efforts aimed at the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which I have just mentioned, wholehearted support must be given to dialogue between Israel and Syria and, in Lebanon, to the current strengthening of institutions; this will be all the more effective if it is carried out in a spirit of unity. To the Iraqis, who are preparing again to take full control of their future, I offer a particular word of encouragement to turn the page and to look forward in order to rebuild without discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic group or religion. As far as Iran is concerned, tireless efforts must be made to seek a negotiated solution to the controversy concerning the nation’s nuclear programme, through a mechanism capable of satisfying the legitimate demands of the country and of the international community. This would greatly favour détente in the region and in the world.

Looking to the great continent of Asia, I note with concern that, while in certain countries acts of violence continue, and in others the political situation remains tense, some progress has been made, enabling us to look to the future with greater confidence. I think for example of the new negotiations for peace in Mindanao, in the Philippines, and the new direction being taken in relations between Beijing and Taipei. In this same context of the quest for peace, a definitive solution of the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka would also have to be political, since the humanitarian needs of the peoples concerned must continue to receive ongoing attention. The Christian communities living in Asia are often numerically small, yet they wish to contribute in a convincing and effective way to the common good, stability and progress of their countries, as they bear witness to the primacy of God which sets up a healthy order of values and grants a freedom more powerful than acts of injustice. The recent beatification, in Japan, of 188 martyrs brought this eloquently to mind. The Church, as has often been said, does not demand privileges, but the full application of the principle of religious freedom. In this perspective, it is important that, in central Asia, legislation concerning religious communities guarantee the full exercise of this fundamental right, in respect for international norms.

In a few months, I will have the joy of meeting many of our brothers and sisters in the faith and in our common humanity who dwell in Africa. In anticipation of this visit, which I have so greatly desired, I ask the Lord to open their hearts to welcome the Gospel and to live it consistently, building peace by fighting moral and material poverty. A very particular concern must be shown for children: twenty years after the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, they remain very vulnerable. Many children have the tragic experience of being refugees and displaced persons in Somalia, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are waves of migration involving millions of persons in need of humanitarian assistance and who above all have been deprived of their elementary rights and offended in their dignity. I ask political leaders on the national and international levels to take every measure necessary to resolve the current conflicts and to put an end to the injustices which caused them. I express my hope that in Somalia the restoration of the State will finally make progress, in order to end the interminable sufferings of the inhabitants of that country. In Zimbabwe, likewise, the situation remains critical and considerable humanitarian assistance is needed. The peace agreement in Burundi has brought a glimmer of hope to the region. I ask that it be applied fully, and thus become a source of inspiration for other countries which have not yet found the path of reconciliation. The Holy See, as you know, follows with special attention the continent of Africa and is pleased to have established diplomatic relations with Botswana in the past year.

In this vast panorama embracing the whole world, I wish likewise to dwell for a moment on Latin America. There too, people desire to live in peace, liberated from poverty and able freely to exercise their fundamental rights. In this context, the needs of emigrants need to be taken into consideration by legislation which would make it easier to reunite families, reconciling the legitimate requirements of security with those of inviolable respect for the person. I would also like to praise the overriding commitment shown by some governments towards re-establishing the rule of law and waging an uncompromising battle against the drug trade and political corruption. I am pleased that, thirty years after the start of the papal mediation between Argentina and Chile concerning their dispute over the southern territories, those two countries have in some way sealed their desire for peace by raising a monument to my venerable predecessor, Pope John Paul II. I hope, moreover, that the recent signing of the Agreement between the Holy See and Brazil will facilitate the free exercise of the Church’s mission of evangelization and further strengthen her cooperation with the civil institutions for an integral human development. For five centuries the Church has accompanied the peoples of Latin America, sharing their hopes and their concerns. Her Pastors know that, to favour the authentic progress of society, their proper task is to enlighten consciences and to form lay men and women capable of engaging responsibly in temporal affairs, at the service of the common good.

Turning lastly to the nations which are nearer at hand, I wish to greet the Christian community of Turkey, while recalling that, during this special Holy Year marking the two-thousandth anniversary of the birth of the Apostle Paul, numerous pilgrims are making their way to Tarsus, his native city, a fact which once more indicates how closely this land is linked to the origins of Christianity. The hope of peace is alive in Cyprus, where negotiations for a just solution to problems associated with the division of the Island have resumed. As for the Caucasus, I wish to affirm once more that the conflicts involving the states of the Region cannot be settled by recourse to arms; and, in thinking of Georgia, I express my hope that all the commitments subscribed to in the ceasefire of last August – an agreement concluded thanks to the diplomatic efforts of the European Union – will be honoured, and that the return of the displaced to their homes will be provided for as quickly as possible. Finally, with regard to the Southeast of Europe, the Holy See pursues its commitment to stability in the region, and hopes that conditions will continue to be created for a future of reconciliation and of peace between the populations of Serbia and Kosovo, with respect for minorities and commitment to the preservation of the priceless Christian artistic and cultural patrimony which constitutes a treasure for all humanity.

Ladies and Gentlemen, at the conclusion of this overview which, due to its brevity, cannot mention all the situations of suffering and poverty close to my heart, I return to my Message for the celebration of this year’s World Day of Peace. There I recalled that the poorest human beings are unborn children (No. 3). But I cannot fail to mention, in conclusion, others who are poor, like the infirm, the elderly left to themselves, broken families and those lacking points of reference. Poverty is fought if humanity becomes more fraternal as a result of shared values and ideals, founded on the dignity of the person, on freedom joined to responsibility, on the effective recognition of the place of God in the life of man. In this perspective, let us fix our gaze on Jesus, the lowly infant lying in the manger. Because he is the Son of God, he tells us that fraternal solidarity between all men and women is the royal road to fighting poverty and to building peace. May the light of his love illumine all government leaders and all humanity! May that light guide us throughout this year which has now begun! I wish all of you a happy New Year

Sunday, January 4, 2009

MONDAY MORNING MISSION MEDITATION for the week of January 4, 2009

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 (Epiphany of the Lord,) we celebrate the 12th day of Christmas (January 6, specifically though celebrated in the United States today in the Roman Church) wherein the Christ Child is revealed to the entire world through the visit of the Magi from the East. St Paul states in his Letter to the Ephesians that God has been revealed to all, and we are all called to be "co-heirs, members of the same body." We read in the Gospel of Mathew about how Herod tried to find this Child (obviously to kill the Good News) through the Magi, but they left by another route after their encounter with the Child. The Psalmist sings of this 'revelation' that "he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save" (Ps 72).

In Catholic Charities we "see" the Lord in each person we serve, and we "reveal" the Good News to each person we encounter. Like in the Psalm (Ps. 72) we reach out to the afflicted and the poor in Jesus' name, as we "organize love" on behalf of the Church.

Some important date(s) this week:

SUNDAY JANUARY 4-10. National Migration Week. Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice.

Prayer for Migrants and Refugees
Lord Jesus, when you multiplied the loaves and fishes, you provided more than food for the body, you offered us the gift of yourself, the gift which satisfies every hunger and quenches every thirst! Your disciples were filled with fear and doubt, but you poured out your love and compassion on the migrant crowd, welcoming them as brothers and sisters.
Lord Jesus, today you call us to welcome the members of God's family who come to our land to escape oppression, poverty, persecution, violence, and war. Like your disciples, we too are filled with fear and doubt and even suspicion. We build barriers in our hearts and in our minds.
Lord Jesus, help us by your grace,
To banish fear from our hearts, that we may embrace each of your children as our own brother and sister;
To welcome migrants and refugees with joy and generosity, while responding to their many needs;
To realize that you call all people to your holy mountain to learn the ways of peace and justice;
To share of our abundance as you spread a banquet before us;
To give witness to your love for all people, as we celebrate the many gifts they bring.
We praise you and give you thanks for the family you have called together from so many people. We see in this human family a reflection of the divine unity of the one Most Holy Trinity in whom we make our prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

MONDAY, January 5. Saint John Nepomucene Neumann Son of Philip, who was German and owned a stocking factory, and Agnes Neumann who was Czech. John was a small and quiet boy with four sisters and a brother, and was named after Saint John Nepomucene. An excellent student, John early felt drawn to religious life.Seminarian at Budweis, Bohemia in 1813, he studied astronomy and botany in addition to theological topics. Studied theology at Charles Ferdinand University at Prague in 1833.

When time came for his ordination, the bishop was sick; the date for was never reset because Bohemia had an over-abundance of priests. John decided to go to America to ask for ordination and work with emigres. He walked most of the way to France, then took ship forAmerica.

John arrived unannounced in Manhattan in 1836. Bishop John Dubois was happy to see him as there were 36 priests for the 200,000 Catholics in New York and New Jersey. John was ordained on 28 June 1836, and sent to Buffalo. There the parish priest, Father Pax, gave him the choice of the city of Buffalo or of the rural area; John chose the more difficult country area. He stayed in a small town with an unfinished church, and when it was completed, he moved to a town with a log church. There he built himself a small log cabin, rarely lit a fire, slept little, often lived on bread and water, and walked miles to visit farm after remote farm. John's parishioners were from many lands and tongues, but John knew twelve languages, and worked with them all.

Joined the Redemptorists at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1840, taking his vows at Baltimore, Maryland in 1841, the first Redemptorist to do so in the United States. Home missionary in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Rector of Saint Philomena church in Pittsburgh in 1844. Vice-regent and superior of the Redemptorists in America in 1847. Bishop of Philadelphia in 1852.

Built fifty churches and began building a cathedral. Opened almost one hundred schools, and the number of parochial school students in his diocese grew from 500 to 9,000. Wrote newspaper articles, two catechisms, and many works in German. First American man and first American bishop to be canonized.


January 2009
General: That the family may become more and more a place of training in charity, personal growth and transmission of the faith.

Mission: That the different Christian confessions, aware of the need for a new evangelisation in this period of profound transformations, may be committed to announcing the Good News and moving towards the full unity of all Christians in order to offer a more credible testimony of the Gospel.

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:

Friday, January 2, 2009

National Migration Week to be Celebrated January 4-10

WASHINGTON—The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Migration Week on January 4-10, 2009.

This year's theme, Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice, "reminds us of our obligation to bring hope to the hopeless and to seek justice for those who are easily exploited," said Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, in a letter sent every parish and Catholic school across the country.

"For many migrant communities, injustice and hardship are too commonplace an experience. Given the often marginal and vulnerable status of migrants, it is important that communities everywhere treat migrants justly and provide a welcoming presence to all people on the move," said Bishop Wester.

Last April, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged the Bishops of the United States to continue to act in this regard.

"I want to encourage you and your communities to continue to welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrows and trials, and to help them flourish in their new home," said the pope.

The Bishops' website provides materials that address issues related to human trafficking, immigration, refugees, and Catholic social teaching on migration; information on how to acquire the revise edition of Unity in Diversity: A Scriptural Rosary, to guide spiritual reflection on migration; and a foldout poster.

More information can be found at