Thursday, May 31, 2012


Vatican City.- Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for June is: “That believers may recognize in the Eucharist the living presence of the Risen One who accompanies them in daily life”.
His missionary intention is: "That Christians in Europe may rediscover their true identity and participate with greater enthusiasm in the proclamation of and participate with more enthusiasm in the Gospel".

(From  31 May VIS)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Osservatore Romano Interview with Archbishop Angelo Becciu

Vatican City, 30 May 2012  - The "Osservatore Romano" newspaper today published an interview with Archbishop Angelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, concerning the question of stolen papal documents.

Archbishop Becciu said that he has seen the Holy Father "suffering because, on the basis of what has thus far emerged, someone very close to him would seem to have acted in a completely unjustifiable manner. Of course, the Pope's prevailing sentiment is one of pity for the person involved, but the fact remains that he has been the victim of a brutal action. Benedict XVI has had to witness the publication of letters stolen from his own home, not simply private correspondence but information, reflections, expressions of states of mind, and effusive comments which he has received merely by virtue of his ministry. For this reason the Pope is particularly sorrowful, also for the violence suffered by the writers of the letters he has received".

In the view of the Secretariat of State, the publication of these documents "is an immoral act of unprecedented gravity, especially because it is not just a serious violation of the privacy to which everybody should have the right, but a despicable abuse of the relationship of trust that exists between Benedict XVI and those who turn to him, even if they do so to express some heartfelt protest. The question does not merely involve the theft of some of the Pope's letters; the consciences of those who address him as the Vicar of Christ have been violated, and the ministry of the Successor of the Apostle Peter has come under attack".

It is, Archbishop Becciu said, unjustifiable to claim that the stolen documents were published for the cause of transparency and reform in the Church. Robbery and accepting stolen goods are both illegal. "These are simple concepts, perhaps too simple for some people, but certainly when a person loses sight of them he easily loses his way and also leads others into disaster. Renewal cannot trample moral law on the basis of the principle that the end justifies the means, which is not in any case a Christian principle".

A number of articles which have appeared in newspapers in recent days have suggested that the published documents reveal turbid dealings inside the Vatican walls. On this subject the substitute for General Affairs notes that, "on the one hand they criticise the monarchic and absolutist nature of central Church government, while on the other they are scandalised because people who write to the Pope may express ideas or even complaints about how that government is organised. Many of the published documents do not reveal power struggles or vendettas but the freedom of thought which the Church is criticised for not allowing. ... Diverging points of view, even contrasting evaluations, are part of the normal order, and if someone feels misunderstood he has every right to turn to the Pontiff. What is scandalous about that? Obedience does not mean renouncing one's own opinions, but sincerely and fully expressing one's point of view, then abiding by the leader's decision".

In conclusion Archbishop Becciu tells the Catholic faithful that "the Pope has not lost that serenity which enables him to govern the Church with determination and foresight. ... We wish to echo the Gospel parable which the Holy Father himself mentioned a few days ago: the winds beat against the house but it does not fall. The Lord sustains it and no storm can bring it down".

(From 30 May 2012 VIS)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Holy See Participates in World Health Assembly Meeting

On Wednesday, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, head of the Holy See delegation, addressed  the sixty-fifth World Health Assembly  being held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 21 to 26 May. Speaking in English, the archbishop reaffirmed the Holy See's support for Resolution WHA64.9 on "sustainable health financing structures and universal coverage", which urges member States to aim for affordable universal coverage and access for all citizens on the basis of equity and solidarity.

He also stated: "progress towards universal coverage cannot be the effort of State machinery alone. It requires support from civil society. ... With over 120,000 social and healthcare institutions worldwide, the Catholic Church is,  in many developing countries one of the key partners of the State in healthcare delivery, providing services in remote areas to rural low-income populations, enabling them to access services that would otherwise be out of their reach. The efforts and contribution of such organizations and institutions towards universal access, merit the recognition and support of both the State and the international community, without obliging them to participate in activities they find morally abhorrent".

(from VISnews120524)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Forty-three Catholic Entities Challenge HHS Mandate

From The Catholic Free Press
By Nancy Frazier O’Brien Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Forty-three Catholic dioceses, schools, hospitals, social service agencies and other institutions filed suit in federal court May 21 to stop three government agencies from implementing a mandate that would require them to cover contraceptives and sterilization in their health plans. In all, 12 lawsuits were filed simultaneously on May 21  U.S. district courts around the country. The defendants in each case were HHS Secretary Sebelius; Labor Secretary  Solis; and Treasury Secretary  Geithner.
In addition to the Archdiocese of New York and Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the dioceses involved are the archdioceses of Washington and St. Louis and the dioceses of Rockville Centre, N.Y.; Erie, Pa.; Pittsburgh; Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas; Jackson, Miss.; Biloxi, Miss.; Springfield, Ill.; and Joliet, Ill. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which provides medical benefits to more than 1,100 Catholic institutions and approximately 10,000 employees in the state, also is a plaintiff.
Catholic universities joining in the lawsuits included the University of Notre Dame, The Catholic University of America and Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, as well as the University of St. Francis in Indiana
“Plaintiffs do not seek to impose their religious beliefs on others,” said  the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and its five co-plaintiffs in the suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The complete article here

 Catholic University of America
"August 1, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a rule requiring most health insurance plans to cover, at no added cost to subscribers, sterilization procedures and prescription contraceptives, including pills that act after fertilization to induce abortions. The rule included an exemption for “religious employers,” but that term is defined so narrowly that it excludes Catholic universities and most other Catholic institutions."
"On January 20, 2012, HHS announced its intention to make the rule final. Almost immediately there arose a public furor. In an effort to moderate the reaction, President Obama proposed that HHS might require insurance companies to pay for the mandated services in the first instance. Such a revision would not solve our moral dilemma. In the President’s scenario the cost of mandated services would be rolled into the cost of an insurance policy, which federal law requires Catholic University and other religious organizations to buy. The only change the “accommodation” offers is that the insurance company, rather than the University, would notify subscribers that the policy covers the mandated services. In the end the University, its employees, and its students will be forced to pay for the prescriptions and services we find objectionable."
"We have filed this lawsuit today only after concluding that time is running out and there are no other viable options. The HHS mandate was made final on February 15, 2012, and is now law. Efforts to overturn it in Congress have failed. The White House has refused to compromise on the central issues that cause us such grave concern. For some religious institutions, the law will take effect August 1 of this year; for others, August 1, 2013. In any event, our lawsuit will take time to work its way through the court system. Unless we can get judicial relief, we will soon have to take steps to conform to a rule we view as immoral."
Link to announcement.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokesperson for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the president’s accommodations were vague and insufficient and would still compel Catholic organizations to violate their consciences. “They sound like empty promises” . However, the USCCB did not join in the lawsuits. “Our bases are covered (by these lawsuits). Our concerns are addressed. No need to pile on,” Sister Mary Ann Walsh explained. The full statement of Cardinal Dolan is here.

The JD Journal  focused on the filing of the University of Notre Dame
The  complaint of University of Notre Dame  alleges that, “In order to safeguard their religious freedoms, religious employers must plead with the government for a determination that they are ‘sufficiently’ religious. Under the new mandate, religious employers qualify for exemption only if their purpose is to spread religious beliefs. Also they need to primarily employ and serve people with the same religious values. Such requirements are socially divisive and disrespect the separation between the church and the state.
Such requirements prevent schools and institutions run by religious trusts from providing secular education or employing persons without religious discrimination and in effect help to marginalize those who practice religious beliefs. The tenets of many religions, including Christianity, promote helping the needy without regard to the beneficiary’s own religious beliefs. However, Obama’s law means if Christians try to provide any facilities to non-Christians then they will also have to provide contraception or pay fines.
Notre Dame is committed to serving people of all faiths and religious denominations, and that is its religious belief. Mr. Obama is forcing religious institutions to go against their own principles or discard them, in one way or another. Link to article

Attorneys for Plaintiffs:
The suits were filed by Jones Day, an international law firm with more than 2,400 attorneys on five continents. On March 26, 2012, it  argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business that the Anti-Injunction Act does not bar the Court from hearing a challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's individual mandate requiring the purchase of health insurance.
Jones Day is reported to have stated that the firm “looks forward to presenting its clients’ cases in court....The contraceptive mandate “unconstitutionally authorizes the federal government to determine which organizations are sufficiently ‘religious’ to warrant an exemption from the requirement,” the statement says. “This regulation is in violation of the religious liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and other federal laws.”

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pope Addresses Catholic Lay Volunteers

On Saturday, Benedict XVI addressed more than 8,000 members of three Catholic international volunteer associations in the Paul VI Hall.

"Culture, volunteering and work are three inseparable elements of the daily commitment of Catholic lay people…. These three aspects are linked by a common denominator: the giving of self. ... Your activity must be animated by charity. This means learning to see with the eyes of Christ and giving others much more than what is externally necessary; giving them ... the gesture of love they need. This arises from the love that comes from God, Who first loved us; it arises from intimate contact with Him".

The activity of Catholic volunteers bears witness to "the logic of giving of one's time, abilities, knowledge, and professionalism; in a word, attention to others without expecting a return in this world. By doing so, not only do people do good for others, but they also discover profound happiness, according the logic of Christ Who gave all of Himself".

The Holy Father encouraged the volunteers "to continue in their commitment towards their brother and sisters. Part of this is the task of highlighting injustices and bearing witness to the values which underpin human dignity, promoting forms of solidarity which favor the common good".

From (VISnews 120521)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tribute to the "Father of Saint Bridget's"

At the suggestion of fellow Sacred Heart parishioner, Vince Guiliano,  Adrian O'Connor has devoted his Valley Pike column in Wednesday's Winchester Star to an encomium dedicated to Chester "Chet" Hobert".
Few men, notes O'Connor, have had such an impact on their church and civic communities as Chet Hobert has had on Saint Bridget's and Berryville.
O'Connor also includes some comments of Father  Krempa in his column.---"He was a very, very, very, fine man.". Fr. Krempa also suggests that Berryville might christen the whole corner of town for Chet since Saint Bridget's Hobert Hall sits across the street from Berryville's Chet Hobert Park -- a connecting thread linking the three great passions in Chet Hobert's life -- church, community and family.

For the full column, buy a copy of the the Wednesday, May 16 edition of the Winchester Star. Access to the online version of the column is limited to subscribers.

Benedict's Reflection on the Feast of the Ascension

During the traditional greetings  to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square on the eve of Ascension Thursday, Benedict XVI noted that the Solemnity of the Lord's Ascension "invites us to look to Jesus who, ascending to heaven, entrusts the apostles with the mandate of carrying His message of salvation to the entire world... The Lord has prepared a place for each of us and it is waiting for us. May our thoughts and our deeds be directed toward our heavenly homeland".

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

USCCB Submits Comments On Proposed HHS Rulemaking,

On May 15, the General Counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops  submitted comments on  the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on its "preventive services" mandate.  The ANPRM declared the Department's intention to propose additional regulations in order to establish alternative ways of ensuring contraceptive coverage for employees enrolled in health plans of religious organizations not exempted from the HHS mandate while still "accommodating" such organizations.
The comments  outlined the continuing objections of USCCB to the HHS "preventive services" mandate and listed six problems with ANPRM.
More information is on the USCCB website along with a link to the full text of the USCCB comments on the ANPRM

St. Bridget's Annual Picnic Announcement

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Rite for the Blessing Of A Child In The Womb

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced on Tuesday that the “Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb” is now available for use by dioceses in the United States. The text of the blessing is posted online and is being published as a booklet addendum to the Book of Blessings/Bendicional. The blessing will be included in future editions of those liturgical volumes. The blessing can be offered within the context of the Mass as well as outside of Mass.
“We hope the use of this blessing will provide not only support and God’s blessing for expectant parents and their child in the womb, but also another effective witness to the sanctity of human life from the first moment of conception,” said Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

More information and the text of the blessing is on the USCCB web site.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Pope Speaks on Catholic Education

The question of religious education and the formation in the faith of the next generation of Catholics in the United States was the theme of the Holy Father's remarks to prelates of the USCCB  as they completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.
 The Holy Father noted that..." providing young people with a sound education in the faith represents the most urgent internal challenge facing the Catholic community in your country...The essential task of authentic education ... is not simply that of passing on knowledge, essential as this is, but also of shaping hearts. There is a constant need to balance intellectual rigor in communicating ... the richness of the Church’s faith with forming the young in the love of God, the practice of the Christian moral and sacramental life and, not least, the cultivation of personal and liturgical prayer"
He  praised efforts  in the United States "to preserve the great patrimony of America’s Catholic elementary and high schools, which have been deeply affected by changing demographics and increased costs, while at the same time ensuring that the education they provide remains within the reach of all families, whatever their financial status".
From (6 May 2012 VIS)

Friday, May 04, 2012

Benedict XVI: National Laws Must not Increase Social Inequality

On the occasion of receiving five new  non-resident ambassadors to the Holy See, Benedict XVI spoke about global economic and spiritual poverty and  the need to strengthen the human factor of social and political life. He emphasized the role of spiritual values and religion in building a society which recognizes the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity

"The global economic crisis has caused an increasing number of families to live in precarious conditions....When poverty coexists with enormous wealth, a sense of injustice arises which can become a source of rebellion. Therefore it is necessary for States to ensure that legislation does not increase social inequality and that people can live dignified lives".

"...Experiences such as micro-credit, and initiatives to create cooperative associations show that it is possible to harmonize economic objectives with social necessities, democratic government and respect for nature. It is also advisable to encourage manual work and to promote an agriculture which works in favour of local people, viewing these activities with the respect they deserve"

"Religion helps us to recognize others as brothers and sisters in humanity. Giving everyone the opportunity to know God, in complete freedom, is to help them forge a strong personality which will enable them to bear witness to good, and put it into effect even at great cost. In this way we will build a society in which sobriety and fraternity triumph over misery, indifference and selfishness, over exploitation and waste and, above all, over exclusion".

From (4 May 2012 VIS)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Sacred Heart and Saint Bridget: Insights of the Paster

The Diocese of Arlington has a collection of videos about the parishes of the diocese on facebook. In one,  Father Krempa speaks about Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Winchester. To view the video, follow this link and click on Sacred Heart of Jesus, Winchester. (You may be required to log in to access the video)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Bishops Welcome Repeal Of Death Penalty In Connecticut

 The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) congratulated the Connecticut bishops, the Connecticut Catholic Conference, Catholic Mobilizing Network, and all dedicated advocates against the death penalty for their work to bring about the repeal of the death penalty in Connecticut. Governor Dan Malloy enacted the legislation April 25, making Connecticut the 17th state to repeal the death penalt
“As Catholics we are dedicated to promoting a consistent ethic of life, which values all human life as full of dignity and inherent worth – even those convicted of the worst crimes,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. “We welcome the courageous decision by the governor and the legislature to abolish the use of the death penalty in Connecticut. We stand in solidarity with all those who work for a just and safe society that protects its citizens and upholds the sanctity and dignity of all human life.”
Pope Benedict XVI, like his predecessor John Paul II, has called for the end of the use of the death penalty. In November 2011, Pope Benedict expressed support for efforts for “political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty.”