Archive for the ‘by Bishop Vasa’ Category

My Dear People of God:

There has been much written and said about the recent Health and Human Services Directive that every employer sponsored health plan must provide payments for contraception, which includes that abortion drug euphemistically known as the ‘morning after’ pill.  There is nothing I can add to that which has already been so well stated by many others.  Unfortunately, as Catholics we have allowed ourselves to be compromised in our values and teachings over the decades and this is the net result.

This moment presents us with a challenge to our free exercise of religion.  As one writer in the local paper implied, If the Catholic Church wants to participate in healing the sick, teaching the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, clothing the naked or any other work of mercy then this can only be done if they are also willing to kill the innocent and abandon doctrinal teaching.  The response is not simply that we will not do this but more properly, we cannot do this.  As painful and as difficult as it would be for the Church to leave these public works of mercy it would be grossly irresponsible for Church leaders to teach the truth and at the same time show a willingness to abandon or compromise that very truth when opposition is encountered.

In California this issue was faced a number of years ago when the State placed a similar mandate on Catholic Institutions which provide services for persons other than their own members or hire persons other than their own members.  I must admit that I have not yet fully understood how this was resolved but in light of this HHS ruling it will undoubtedly be necessary to revisit the accepted “solution”.

While we are perhaps stunned by the aggressiveness of the current mandate, the truth is that most health plans which our Catholic people pay for, either by way of private insurance or as Catholic business leaders who provide this benefit for their employees, already have plans which pay for all contraceptives, abortifacients and chemical and surgical abortions.   I would like every Catholic to review their  health care plans carefully and recognize the extent to which this teaching of the Church has already been publicly compromised.  While we can recognize the claims that large percentages of Catholics  reject  the  clear  teachings  of  the  Catholic  Church  (to  their  spiritual  peril)  about  the sinfulness of artificial contraception, the truth is that this is the official teaching of the Catholic Church and it is not scheduled to be changed.  Not only official Church Institutions but individual faithful Catholics have the right to have their free exercise of religion respected.  You should not be forced to pay for “objectionable services” in your health care plan and you should not be forced to provide for these same “objectionable services” to which your children would have free access even without your knowledge or consent.

The current mandate is an attack on institutional freedom of religion but it is also a part of a much greater attack on legitimate individual religious freedoms which touches children and family life.

May God bless you — Bishop Robert F. Vasa

We are 172,000 Catholics – We are 45,000 Families – We are 42 Parishes – We are 18 Missions

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By Bishop Robert Vasa

I have heard it said, not infrequently, that the perfect is the enemy of the good. This has recently been used in reference to the present and ongoing national health care debate. There is certainly some validity to this adage. It can happen that an insistence on a perfect solution can paralyze someone from accepting an otherwise good, prudent and morally acceptable solution, which is marginally inadequate. The application of this adage, however, needs to be done with caution and care lest it be used to justify and rationalize the promotion of the mediocre or even the support of evil. If someone were to acknowledge that the present plan is not perfect because of the abortion coverages in it that would be a serious understatement. If they were further to claim that the plan has so many other good features that an insistence on the elimination of abortion provisions is really a demand for an unrealistic “perfection” then they are in serious error. If they would then claim that this insistence on the elimination of abortion is really the enemy of the good then clearly there is a gross misunderstanding of “perfection.” Seeking a health plan that does not expand abortion is not a demand for “perfection.” It is the barest human and moral requirement. Demanding fidelity in marriage is not demanding “perfection.” It is rather the clear recognition that fidelity is the barest minimum required for a healthy marriage. Marriage without fidelity is not marriage. A program that funds the killing of innocent children is not health care. No one would claim that a fiancé’s insistence on fidelity on the part of his intended is an enemy of an otherwise “good” relationship. Absurd! No one would counsel an affianced to ignore the present infidelities of the intended on the grounds that he or she is really a good, well-intentioned person. No, the infidelity destroys the possibility of an authentic relationship. The provision of abortion funding or abortion expansion destroys the very heart of health care. The demand that such a provision be eliminated is not a demand for “perfection.” Such a demand, in this case, is not the enemy of the good, it is standing in the face of evil.

The American bishops are on record as opposing health care reform that includes coverage or expansion of coverage for abortion. They made this clear when the House was contemplating its bill. At that time they wrote: “We are concerned because the current legislation before the House of Representatives fails to keep in place the longstanding federal policy against the use of federal funds for elective abortion or for plans that include elective abortion — a policy upheld by the Hyde Amendment, Children’s Health Insurance Program, Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and other federal health initiatives. Without such protection we will have to oppose the current legislation until this fundamental flaw is remedied.”

I am not aware of any change in the bishops’ position. Legislation that fails to keep in place the longstanding federal policy against the use of public funds for abortion is fundamentally flawed. This is a lot stronger than saying that such legislation is simply “imperfect.” It is often necessary for us to live with that which is imperfect but a plan that includes funds for the direct and intentional killing of innocent human beings is much more than imperfect, it is nothing short of positively evil. Such a plan could not even be tolerated with a neutrality position much less supported. I do not at all believe it is legitimate to conditionally support such a plan even if there is a “promise” that the objections to abortion will be worked out once the plan is approved. Promises in the political arena are not as binding as other contractual promises.

According to one commentator: The present strategy would leave in place the Senate language on abortion. It would allow health plans receiving federal subsidies in a new insurance marketplace to cover abortion, provided they pay for it only with money collected from policyholders. The House bill, with the Stupak Amendment, would have prohibited the covering of abortion by health plans that receive subsidies from the federal government. The ugly truth is that all policyholders would thus be required to provide funding for abortion coverage whether they approve of abortion or not. Besides involving the federal government in the business of killing pre-born children, such a policy would coerce men and women to pay for a procedure they find absolutely abhorrent. This is a lot more than an “imperfection.”

While it would be easy to spend the rest of this column on health care, doing so would preclude me from mentioning my confirmation trip to St. Patrick’s in Madras and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in Warm Springs. This is an annual trip and it is really one of the easier trips due to its proximity to Powell Butte. It is not uncommon to travel for four or five hours after having had Mass or confirmation and thus spend the entire Sunday afternoon on the road. Being able to arrive home before noon is a treat. There were 38 youth in the confirmation class at Madras and I have found, by experimentation at the last few confirmations, that if I have them all stand during the homily and questioning I am more likely to get a response to questions or at least a reaction. I recognize that this creates a bit more stress for the confirmands but I also recognize that it contributes to making the day a bit more memorable for them. I have seriously “softened” the type and style of questions in an attempt to encourage more of the youth to participate in the answers. The catechists will often tell me, after the fact, that the youth knew the answers but for some reason simply froze or determined that someone else should answer.

Fear, anxiety, shyness, uncertainty, adolescence, self-consciousness and even just plain not knowing are among the possible and legitimate reasons for the silence. In their case I do not either expect or demand perfection.

Such an expectation would be an enemy of the good they do possess and exhibit. Such an expectation would be both unfair and unrealistic.

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By Bishop Robert Vasa

A murder trial took place in Kansas. It was the kind of murder trial over which editors of newspapers salivate. It is the case of a man accused of shooting and killing a well-known late term abortionist. It is most important, at the outset, for me to strongly condemn the action of the man accused of taking the abortionist’s life. Such an action, despite the heinousness of late-term abortions, can never be approved or in any way condoned as a means to end the even more horrific crime against humanity — abortion. The action this lone gunman took, even if driven by the conviction that in killing this one man he might be saving the lives of innumerable innocent children, cannot be viewed in any way as justifiable homicide.

Now there’s a juxtaposition of words that confounds the imagination — justifiable homicide. There is, however, a precedent in our land for just such a juxtaposition. The use of the death penalty by the state is, in reality, the result of a determination that, in some rare instances, it is permissible to directly and intentionally kill another human being. There are certainly other essential considerations and these cannot be dismissed. First, the state has the right and duty to protect its citizens from harm. Second, the victim of the state’s terminal action has been determined in a court of law, beyond a reasonable doubt, to be not innocent but rather guilty of a serious, state-recognized crime. Third, the state must have arrived at the conclusion that there is no other sufficient means to keep its citizens safe. According to the Catechism, if “non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.” (CCC, 2267) Finally, again according to the Catechism, “the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically non-existent.” (CCC, 2267)

The first premise is clear, the state has the duty to protect its residents from harm. This duty extends, not only to officials of the state, but to every citizen, especially every Christian. It is a most serious obligation. The state especially has the duty to protect its residents from the ultimate harm of being killed. Note, I did not say that the state has the duty only to protect its innocent residents but rather all of its residents, whether perceived to be innocent by someone’s individual judgment or not. Thus the state had the duty to protect the life of the abortionist and has the duty to prosecute the man who took his life. But what does one do when he becomes convinced that the state is grievously failing in its primary duty, that of protecting its innocent residents from death? Further, what does one do when he becomes convinced that the very men and women elected to government positions are grievously failing in their primary duty, that of protecting its innocent residents from death? Further yet, what do we do when we become convinced that we have failed to do all we can or should do to help assure that innocent residents are protected from death? There may be some who would seek to justify the Kansas man’s action with the eye for an eye argument — death for death, murder for murder. This is not, however, the law of our land and all of us must be grateful that it is not.

There is no doubt that the Kansas man is singularly responsible for his actions and a jury determined, as prudently as possible, the extent of his guilt and culpability. But where does responsibility or true moral culpability rest? The Kansas man acted within the context of a specific American set of conditions and circumstances. He acted in the context of a culture that fails and even adamantly refuses to recognize something I read recently in a clinically oriented embryology textbook published in 2008. There I read; “Zygote: This cell results from the union of an oocyte and a sperm during fertilization. A zygote or embryo is the beginning of a new human being.” In truth, this is something we all know. This is something legislators and judges know. This is something doctors know. This is something the abortionists know extremely well. It is thus perfectly legitimate to avow that abortion destroys an innocent human being. What it may not be legally correct to assert, in our culture, is that abortion is murder. It is correct to assert this as a moral conviction and that is a conviction I definitively hold — abortion is murder.

The cultural landscape, however, is such that this act of destroying the scientifically recognized human being is not legally murder, in fact, it is no crime at all solely because legislators and judges are failing to do their God-given duty of protecting human beings under their jurisdiction. Their failure is “justified” by the claim that this particular class of human beings is not “legally” recognized as sufficiently human to merit state protections.

I have no doubt that any killing of black men and women in the early history of America was murder even though such an action would not technically have been murder since the man or woman killed was not, at that time, a legally recognized human being.

Nevertheless, I believe that those men and women were real and actual human beings even before they were afforded state recognition of their personhood. The failure of the legislators and judges of that period to recognize them as full human beings pales in comparison to the failure of legislators and judges in our day to recognize real and actual pre-born human beings. Given the ease of communication today, the ready availability of scientific knowledge and the absolute clarity of Church teaching, an entire nation must now be declared complicit with or, perhaps even worse, increasingly complacent to the enormous numbers of “justifiable homicides” being committed each day under the guise of health care.

A Kansas man will undoubtedly be held accountable for what he has done. Every man and woman in America will be held accountable for what we have failed to do — for the little ones whom we have failed to recognize and protect.

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Excommunication is a declaration of acts that severs ties

By Bishop Robert Vasa

During the course of this past year there have been a number of occasions when bishops have hinted to laity that being Catholic involves a bit more than claiming the title. This has been done, in particular, with regard to politicians who may, in their own way, love Jesus, who may attend Sunday Mass and who do identify themselves as “faithful” Catholics. The press usually hints at the big “E” word, excommunication. The question of when a Catholic should be excommunicated has even been asked quite frequently and very seriously. While bishops are extremely reluctant to take the seemingly dramatic step of excommunication, I think there is very good reason for us to explore more thoroughly what excommunication really means and why it might be considered in certain circumstances.

The press would undoubtedly accuse Bishops who talk or even think about excommunication as being tyrannical power mongers but this is unfair. Excommunication is a declaration, based on solid evidence, that the actions or public teachings of a particular Catholic are categorically incompatible with the teachings of the Church. It is intended primarily as a means of getting the person who is in grave error to recognize the depth of his error and repent. A second reason, while somewhat secondary but no less important, is to assure the faithful who truly are faithful that what they believe to be the teaching of the Church is true and correct. Allowing their faith to be shaken or allowing them to be confused when Catholics publicly affirm something contrary to faith or morals, seemingly without consequences, scandalizes and confuses the faithful. This is no small matter. The Church, and particularly bishops, have an obligation to defend the faith but they also have an obligation to protect the faithful. We do not generally see the dissidence of public figures as something that harms the faithful but it has a deleterious effect upon them.

I find, very frequently, when I speak a bit more boldly on matters of morality or discipline, there are a significant number of the faithful who send messages of gratitude and support. It is their gratitude which stirs my heart for it makes me realize how much there is a need to support and affirm the clear and consistent teachings of our Catholic faith for the sake of the faithful. While the press may caricature such bishops in rather uncharitable fashion, I trust that they are men devoted to true compassion and to the truth itself. Their compassion extends to those who are misled and to those who, while not misled, are discouraged when their faith is attacked without rebuttal. This discouragement of the faithful is not insignificant. When we look at the word itself we see that its root is “courage” and allowing someone’s courage to be dissipated, or “dissed” as the young might say, is harmful to the person. En-couragement, by contrast, builds up the courage of the faithful and increases their strength for doing good. It is life giving and revitalizing. Allowing error, publicly expressed, to stand without comment or contradiction is discouraging.

When that moral error is espoused publicly by a Catholic who, by the likewise public and external act of receiving Holy Communion, appears to be in “good standing” then the faithful are doubly confused and doubly discouraged. In that case, the error is certainly not refuted. Furthermore, the impression is given that the error is positively condoned by the bishop and the Church. This is very dis-couraging to the faithful. In such a case, private “dialogue” is certainly appropriate but a public statement is also needed. In extreme cases, excommunication may be deemed necessary.

It seems to me that even if a decree of excommunication would be issued, the bishop would really not excommunicate anyone. He only declares that the person is excommunicated by virtue of the person’s own actions. The actions and words, contrary to faith and morals, are what excommunicate (i.e. break communion with the Church). When matters are serious and public, the Bishop may deem it necessary to declare that lack of communion explicitly. This declaration no more causes the excommunication than a doctor who diagnoses diabetes causes the diabetes he finds in his patient. The doctor recognizes the symptoms and writes the necessary prescription. Accusing the doctor of being a tyrannical power monger would never cross anyone’s mind. Even when the doctor tells the patient that they are “excommunicated” from sugar it is clear that his desire is solely the health of his patient. In fact, a doctor who told his diabetic patient that he could keep ingesting all the sugar he wanted without fear would be found grossly negligent and guilty of malpractice.

In the same way, bishops who recognize a serious spiritual malady and seek a prescription to remedy the error, after discussion and warning, may be required to simply state, “What you do and say is gravely wrong and puts you out of communion with the faith you claim to hold.” In serious cases, and the cases of misled Catholic public officials are often very serious, a declaration of the fact that the person is de facto out of communion may be the only responsible and charitable thing to do.

Failing to name error because of some kind of fear of offending the person in error is neither compassion nor charity. Confronting or challenging the error or evil of another is never easy yet it must be done.

The adage usually attributed to Edmund Burke was correct: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

The Lord has called bishops to be shepherds. That shepherding entails both leading and protecting. In an era when error runs rampant and false teachings abound, the voice of the Holy Father rings clear and true. The teachings of the Church are well documented and consistent. Bishops and the pastors who serve in their Dioceses have an obligation both to lead their people to the truth and protect them from error.

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By Bishop Robert Vasa

I had the good fortune while listening to a Christian television station to hear a congressman from Georgia who was talking about the Sanctity of Human Life Act. This is a bill introduced in November, 2007, that defines human life as beginning at fertilization and would protect all human life even that life created by human cloning or in-vitro fertilization. This is not at all new news, but hearing the congressman speak gave me a renewed sense of just how complacent and confused we are in the United States about the worth and dignity of human life.

The language of the bill is both instructive and challenging: “The right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being, and is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person.” No one in these United States could take exception to this. The congressman talked about the relativistic and rather arbitrary method of determining just who is that person worthy of the protections guaranteed by the Constitution. Certainly that “person” is every human being whose birth process has been completed. There is nothing, however, in the birth process that changes anything of the nature of the one who is brought to birth. Thus the person who is fully delivered is the same “person” he or she was three or five minutes earlier. That which is essential to personhood, having the nature of a human being, is not changed by birth. What changes is what philosophers identify as the “accidents.” For instance, a doll possesses the “nature” of a doll. A doll is, for the sake of this discussion, a miniature human creation resembling a human being. You may put that doll in a box where no one sees it and it is still, by its own nature, a doll. That doll may be loved or completely neglected and it is still a doll. You may dress it in red, yellow, orange or blue and it is still a doll. You may even paint it a variety of colors and even disfigure it but it still remains a doll unless it is nearly destroyed. If you do not believe this try to take a beloved “doll,” which has long since lost its clear appearance as a doll, from its child owner. The doll’s location, relationship with persons, dress color or type, skin color, size and even general physical condition are all accidents, not essentials. None of these things change the “nature” of the doll. We know this now, though it was not always known or believed, in relation to the color of a person’s skin. That color or the national origin of a human being does not alter that which is essential to being a human being.

Unfortunately, by a kind of legal sleight of hand the Supreme Court has managed to overlook what is essential about a human being, his or her human nature, and make a distinction of personhood based on accidents of location, relationship, size, appearance, and degree of dependence. None of these things changes the nature of a human being and so none of these things should be used as ploys to grant or deny basic human rights. Yet, this is precisely what the Supreme Court has done.

The congressman’s bill seeks to correct this erroneous distinction by focusing precisely on that one thing which is essential. The only pertinent question should be: Is this a metabolizing biological entity of human origin with the genetic makeup of a human being? The bill incorporates this essential definition into law: “The life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent . . . at which time every human being shall have the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.”

In making his case to his fellow congressmen, the bill’s author said: “We have a moral and constitutional obligation to protect and defend every precious soul that comes into existence.” The use of the word “soul” in this context refers more to human being than a specific spiritual reality we in the Catholic Church would identify as one’s “immortal soul.” It would not be proper to try to put into civil law this spiritual understanding of the nature of man. Identifying the nature of a human being, however, is not an attempt to impose anyone’s religious belief on someone else. It is rather the acceptance of a biological and scientific fact. That which is essential to the definition of a human being is already present from the moment the human ovum is fertilized by human sperm. Everything else is accident.

In keeping with this proper understanding of that which is essential to the human being, the Sanctity of Human Life Act declares that: “the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being, and is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person; and the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, irrespective of sex, health, function or disability, defect, stage of biological development, or condition of dependency, at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” This is not a statement of religious belief but rather the logically consistent application of sound philosophical and biological reasoning.

Some new human entity is created when the human sperm and human ovum unite. That new entity begins a whole new form of living from the moment of fertilization. That new entity does not evolve into something else over the period he or she develops. He or she does not evolve from plant matter to animal matter or to a human being after passing through the birth canal. He or she undergoes no essential changes from what he or she possesses at the beginning. That which is granted to the baby who has been fully born is based legally on a number of accidents when it ought to be based on that which is essential.

The Sanctity of Human Life Act does not seek to introduce some inane legal fiction, but rather seeks to overturn a faulty legal fiction. The fiction, in which we are presently living, inanely pretends that human beings are not really human beings unless the Supreme Court passes judgment on them and declares them to be so. African slaves were always human beings and the Supreme Court decisions said or did nothing to change that. It simply recognized the truth. The Sanctity of Human Life Act seeks legal recognition of the same truth.

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by Bishop Robert Vasa

The headline from Vatican City dated February 18, 2009 as reported by the Catholic News Agency (CNA) should have been neither shocking nor surprising but in many ways, it was both.

The story had been circulated that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be received by the Holy Father after his usual Wednesday Audience and this was accurate. There was a fear that somehow the Holy Father’s meeting would signal some kind of approbation of her erroneous thinking about life issues. The news story was very direct: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s photo-op with Pope Benedict XVI turned sour when the Pontiff used the 15-minute meeting to reaffirm the teachings of the Catholic Church on the right to life and the duty to protect the unborn.” Certainly this would have been “sour” for House Speaker Pelosi and perhaps it may have been a bit “sour” for other erroneously minded “pro-choice” Catholics but I find it difficult to describe it as “sour” in itself. For most in the Pro-Life Community, the news, far from being deemed “sour,” was received as a bit of fresh air, indeed even as “sweet.”

No one of us can afford to take any kind of gaudium or delight in the fact that the Speaker of the House was rather sternly rebuked. Rejoicing in this is to rejoice in her embarrassment and that lacks charity. It would also be uncharitable to rejoice that the gravity of the Speaker’s error necessitated such a reprimand by the Holy Father. Yet, in this, there is a cause for a suitable kind of rejoicing. One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to admonish the sinner and we can rejoice that this Spiritual Work is being exercised. We can be confident that the Holy Father did not do what he did in order to embarrass or vilify House Speaker Pelosi. We can be confident that he spoke and acted as he deemed was good and necessary for both the admonishment of the sinner and the instruction of the ignorant, another Spiritual Work of Mercy. This second Work of Mercy is further exercised on behalf of any of those who have been misled by some of Speaker Pelosi’s statements. The clarity of the Holy Father’s words also serve as a bit of counsel for the doubtful, yet another of the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

The news story continued: “No photo of Speaker Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and the Pope will be forthcoming since the meeting was closed to reporters and photographers. The two met in a small room in the Vatican just after the pope’s weekly public audience.” The fact that there were no photographs allowed could be interpreted to mean that the Holy Father did not want the media to send mixed messages, one in words and the other in pictures. I have no doubt that the Holy Father was nothing but extremely gracious when Madame Speaker met with him and a photograph of that graciousness could be used to put a different spin on the seriousness of the meeting. The disallowing of photographs puts an exclamation point at the end of the Official Press Release.

There is yet another Spiritual Work of Mercy which is operative here and it is one directed at all those who have grave concerns about the diminution of reverence for human life in our culture. The Holy Father’s decision and action stands as a great source of encouragement and even comfort to those who work so ardently in the Pro-Life trenches. The Spiritual Work is that of comforting the sorrowful. A vast number of increasingly discouraged Catholics, who are in many ways suffering and sorrowful over the ongoing legal disregard for our pre-born brothers and sisters, were greatly comforted and encouraged by the courage and clarity of the Holy Father.

The CNA news story then quoted the Official Statement of the Holy See’s press office: “Following the general audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage. His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in co-operation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.”

I think this is quite clear. It is even clearer when one looks more carefully at the operative verb, that simple word “enjoin.” The Church’s teaching “enjoins” all Catholics and especially legislators to create just laws which protect innocent human life. The dictionary defines enjoin quite strongly: “to direct, prescribe, or impose by order typically authoritatively and compellingly and with urgent admonition.” Thus the Holy Father is not issuing here a gentle reminder or a subtle suggestion, he is reiterating a directive with an urgent admonition. While this admonition was issued on the occasion of the House Speaker’s visit to the Vatican and while it was clearly issued for her benefit, it was not directed solely to her but rather also to all Catholics. It should serve for us all as a call to Lenten repentance.

Since I have covered four of the seven Spiritual Works of Mercy it is a good time to complete the roster with the final three. These final three are particularly appropriate for our Lenten reflection for they do not look at the weaknesses or shortcomings of others but rather at our own. How about bearing wrongs patiently or forgiving all injuries as a pair of focused Spiritual Works for Lent 2009? There is a lifetime of work in simply trying to achieve some measure of success with regard to these two.

Finally, one that we can all relatively easily participate in, to pray for the living and the dead.

In light of the present discussion there are many possible beneficiaries of our prayers and we generally remember the major ones in our petition prayers at Mass. There we always remember Pope Benedict XVI. There we also pray for government leaders and our personal petition for them should always include: “That they work to create a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development. We pray to the Lord.”

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By Bishop Robert Vasa

“The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death.”

So begins the Sept. 8, 2008 Instruction from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the dignity of the human person. This instruction is a follow-up and updating of a previous instruction from the same Congregation titled, Donum Vitae (The gift of life). The new instruction is not long and I would certainly encourage that it be read. It can be found on the Vatican website … ” There are a few areas which Dignitas Personae, as the instruction is titled in Latin, tackles which bear repeating and comment upon here:

*A human embryo is a human person

*Every human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception

*Some forms of so-called ‘contraception’ take a human life

*Dignitas Personae helps Catholics form their consciences

*Lives are saved, but some vaccines aren’t morally neutral

*Dignitas Persona

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