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North Dakota law banning most abortions after six weeks overturned

April 18, 2014 Catholic News Service

Dodson said. “No matter what reason abortion advocates conjure up, viability, unlike a heartbeat, tells us nothing about the humanity of the unborn child and should not be used to determine whether a child can live or die.”

BISMARCK, N.D. (CNS) — A ruling by a U.S. District Court judge that overturned North Dakota’s prohibition on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected is unfortunate but expected, said the executive director of the state’s Catholic conference.

“The current holdings of the U.S. Supreme Court make it difficult to protect human life before the vague and subjective ‘viability’ stage,’” said Christopher Dodson in an April 17 statement.

His remarks came a day after Daniel Hovland, a federal judge, struck down the 2013 law, which banned most abortions after six weeks, when a fetal heartbeat is first detected.

Hovland said the law was unconstitutional and cited the Supreme Court, which he stated “has unequivocally said no state may deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at a point prior to viability,” when an unborn child could survive outside the womb, sometime between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy



Cross Catholic Outreach, Cor Unum provides housing in Guatemala

April 18, 2014 The Lay Catholic
Bishop Slattery Cardinal Sarah cropped CMYK

The project was a milestone for Cross Catholic Outreach because of its scale and integral mission approach to helping the poor by providing both housing and a chapel.

BOCA RATON, FLA- (TLC) This month, Cross Catholic Outreach marked another milestone in its decade-long collaborative relationship with the Pontifical Council Cor Unum with an inauguration ceremony for 17 homes and a chapel built in the Cuilapa area of the diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima under Bishop Bernabé de Jesús Sagastume Lemus.

The event was attended by Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and several delegates from the U.S.-based Cross Catholic Outreach ministry, including Bishop Edward Slattery, who represented its board of directors, and David Adams, the organization’s Vice President for Missions.

Cor Unum (“One Heart”) was established by Pope Paul VI in 1971 to express “the care of the Catholic Church for the needy, thereby encouraging human fellowship and making manifest the charity of Christ,” and the organization has carried out a variety of important relief and humanitarian outreaches in the decades since.  This most recent project represents a powerful example of Pope Francis’ concern for the poorest of the poor.  The homes built are for families left destitute and homeless following natural disasters that struck Guatemala in 2011



Papal preacher: Betraying Jesus is bad, doubting his mercy is worse

April 18, 2014 Carol Glatz

“Judas’ greatest sin wasn’t having betrayed Jesus, but having doubted his mercy,”

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Everyone is capable of betraying Jesus as Judas did, but no one should make the mistake of doubting God’s mercy and willingness to forgive, the papal preacher said.

Though Jesus knows well what is “unfolding in his disciple’s heart, he doesn’t expose it, he wants to give him the possibility, until the very end, of backing out” and repenting, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said during the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion.

Pope Francis presided at the April 18 service in St. Peter’s Basilica commemorating Christ’s death on the cross.

The pope began the rite after a silent procession down the central nave. Then he lay prostrate on the floor before the main altar in silent prayer, a sign of adoration and penance



Shifting opinions on death penalty: Views evolving after years of work

April 18, 2014 Patricia Zapoor

“if bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives … public authority must limit itself to such means,

WASHINGTON (CNS) — When Boston was asked at a news conference at the U.S.-Mexico border about how to persuade people to support comprehensive immigration reform, he pointed for an example to the Catholic Church’s decades-long efforts to shift opinions about the death penalty.

“There was a time when Catholics were very pro-death penalty,” Cardinal O’Malley said April 1. Then Blessed John Paul II made a strong push to include opposition to capital punishment as a part of a consistent pro-life approach, he said. Activists took on the task of changing minds and hearts.

Today, support for the death penalty overall has dramatically declined. So have the number of executions and death sentences. But it has been a lengthy process



Heaven without my children? How to receive Communion

April 18, 2014 Fr Kenneth Doyle

 Doyle-20110614nw782-web    Q. Is the happiness of heaven dependent on human factors? Specifically, when I die and — hopefully — get to heaven, how could I be eternally happy if my children were not to make it with me? (The way things are right now, that is a distinct possibility.) How could I ever be at peace knowing that they are being punished forever? (Aiken, S.C.)


A. In the kingdom of heaven, according to the promise of the Book of Revelation (21:4), God “will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.”

How exactly that is going to happen is hidden from us while we are on this side of heaven. To be honest, I have no direct answer to your question, which is a perennial one, except to say that I choose to put my trust in the revealed word of God



Matrimony in America

March 14, 2014 John Garvey

A new study by Harvard economist Raj Chetty indicates that the best predictor of economic mobility is the percentage of children who live in intact families.

In January, The Chronicle of Higher Education ran a special issue about a federal program to promote healthy marriages, run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The “HHS family of agencies,” as it likes to call itself, comprises 11 operating divisions and 10 regional offices. One of these is the Office of Family Assistance, which runs (among other things) the Healthy Marriage Initiative. It’s hard to say exactly how much the initiative costs, but it has about $60 million in grants outstanding.

Here’s how it works. Recruiters seek out poor parents, in places like hospitals and food-stamp offices, and offer them money and other inducements to attend 13 weeks of relationship education. Everyone agrees that children are better off with doting parents who love each other. The program aims to create families like this. A mere $60 million is small potatoes for an agency like HHS, but it comes to about $11,000 per couple for the program participants.

The results have been quite disappointing. A three-year study of eight grantees found that couples who took part were no more likely to stay together or get married than the control group. Fathers did not spend more time with children. Children were not more emotionally secure. Some programs actually showed negative outcomes, which is to say, the control group did better. The article in the Chronicle article asks, “So why aren’t we pulling the plug?”



Lebanese students discover a smile is a two-way street

April 2, 2014 Doreen Abi Raad

LebanonBEIRUT (CNS) — Bringing the face of Jesus to the poor is an experience a group of Lebanese 10th graders will long remember about this Lent.

As Mission of Life Sister Lina Maria Dib prepared the students for their first outreach, she led them in prayer and told them: “A lot of the situations you see will be unusual for you. But we are going to share our smile. And when you come back you are going to feel happy inside.”

The students, at the Maronite Catholic-run St. George School in the Zalka section of Beirut, belong to the first Youth of Life group formed by the Lebanese order, Mission of Life. An adept organizer, Sister Lina Maria divided the group into small teams, each of which would visit two families or individuals that day, accompanied by a missionary from the order or one of its experienced volunteers



Books present correlations between St. Francis and his papal namesake

April 12, 2014 Brian Welter

Books look at correlations between St. Francis and Pope Francis    “Reclaiming Francis: How the Saint and the Pope Are Renewing the Church” by Charles M. Murphy. Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, Ind., 2014). 160 pp., $13.95.

“Saint Francis, Pope Francis: A Common Vision” by Gina Loehr with Al Giambrone. Servant Books (Cincinnati, 2014). 144 pp., $14.99.


The mountain of books written on St. Francis of Assisi testify to the enduring attraction of this saint, usually regarded as the most perfect follower of Jesus. Why two more such biographies?