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Saturday, April 27, 2013

MISSION / Vietnam: From Saigon to Central Highlands, 10 years of witness

From Saigon to the Central Highlands, 10 years of witness to Christ and the Gospel
Nguyen Hung
In the Year of Faith, the parish of Vuon Xoai celebrates the mission among the Montagnards. A 800 km long journey to bring the Word of God and celebrate Mass "every two weeks." The faithful ask for the creation of a stable community and the presence of priests. A " long cultivated" wish.

Kontum (AsiaNews) - Ten years of evangelization among the peoples of the Central Highlands of Vietnam "is a magnificent achievement", as well as a sign of "missionary journey" of the Vietnamese Catholic community. The work of proclaiming the Gospel "must remain the most important task" for each of the faithful, especially "among minorities, which are part of our people, still waiting for our contribution and our witness." This is what faithful of the parish of Vuon Xoai, Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City in the south of the country told AsiaNews, as they celebrate the "10-year mission" among the Montagnards in the central plains. "The feeling of a pastoral and social journey - they add - is extremely important, it is a sign of comfort and help of the [Holy] Spirit in our witness of life, particularly in this Year of Faith".
Since 2003, a parish of the Archdiocese of Saigon started a missionary program in the most remote and inaccessible areas in central Vietnam. Along a 800 km path, the faithful of the south bring comfort, material and spiritual assistance to a reality often on the economic and social margins of the nation and the Church itself. For a long time, in fact, the Catholics of the area have been waiting to be recognized as a parish of the Diocese of Kontum. "It's a long cherished wish"- say the faithful of the area.
The community is made up of about 3,600 people, scattered across 14 villages divided into three broad mission areas: Daktut, six villages and about 2 thousand faithful; Dakchung with five villages and 500 faithful; Dakchong, with three villages and a thousand faithful. The living conditions are difficult and resources scarce, in order to survive the local population lives of the produce of the forest.
"Even today, the mission presents many difficulties" says Mr. Nguyen, one of the leaders of the Vuon Xoai parish committee, especially when it rains and "lack of food" and other primary goods is keenly obvious. However, there is still a great faith and a desire to participate in the life of the Church and the Catholic community.
Because of the long distance, the priests can celebrate Mass only once every two weeks. And it is precisely this absence of a more stable pastor that deeply saddens the faithful. "It would be nice to go to Mass every week - says Mary, a young woman from the mission of Dakchong - the lack of food does not bother us at all, because we know that we can trust in the Providence of God."
He words are echoed by Gabriel A Jun, who invites Vietnamese Catholics to live the experience of the mission in the area: "It is a source of joy and happiness - he adds - and a source of blessing for all."
The area of ​​the central highlands of Vietnam includes the Diocese of Kontum, Pleiku, Ban Me Thuot, Qui Nhon and Da Lat. The few priests who cover such a vast territory must often face discrimination and obstacles from the government, despite efforts to bring practical assistance and spiritual comfort to people living in extreme poverty. The area is populated by the Montagnards, a mostly Christian minority, which has long claimed the right to religious freedom and land ownership in a peaceful manner. The authorities are often accuse them of separatism and opposition to the government: During the Vietnam War, in fact, the Montagnards, in an attempt to create an independent state, sided with the United States.

SOCIETY / Children: 'Oh God, I killed my baby': TV star says abortion led to a life of self-harm

'Oh God, I killed my baby': TV star Gemma Collins says abortion led to a life of self-harm

LONDON, U.K., April 25, 2013 ( – British reality TV star Gemma Collins opened up to the media this week about an abortion she had when she was in her 20s, saying the guilt she felt led her to a life of self-harm that included cutting herself and binge eating. She told NOW Magazine that, even now at 32, she wonders if her recent miscarriage was divine retribution.
Collins said she aborted her baby when she was three months pregnant, worrying that the child might have birth defects because of medication she had been taking.
She further explained to The Sun newspaper that she had been taking oral contraceptives at the time and had continued taking them, unaware that she was pregnant. She also took an antibiotic and Pepto Bismol in an attempt to ease her nausea.
"The doctor said the embryo wouldn't be a good one because I'd been taking medication," she said. "I got three doctors' opinions – I still felt really guilty about it, though."
Afterward, Collins told NOW, "I felt guilt and total despair. I was thinking: 'Oh my God, I killed my baby.'" She started cutting herself and binge eating, going from a UK size 10 to a UK size 18 in less than a year.
"Once I couldn't breathe, because I was ramming food down so quickly," Collins told The Mirror. "I'd have loved to have been sick, to get it all up. But it didn't work for me."
"Because I felt so sad, I thought, what's going to make me happy? Food. Food became my happiness," she said. "Instead of going out with my friends, I'd have a meal. Food became my friend."
Collins struggles with her weight to this day.
The star now says she worries a miscarriage she suffered on the night of the British National Television Awards may have been divine punishment for the abortion.
"I do feel guilty. What if I can never have a baby now? The miscarriage felt like God's way of punishing me," she told The Mirror.
Collins is not alone in her post-abortive suffering. A meta-analysis of 22 studies encompassing 877,181 women over a 14-year period published in 2011 in the British Journal of Psychiatry revealed that women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems. Substance abuse and suicidal behavior were especially likely after an abortion.
The study also revealed that nearly 10 percent of all mental health problems are directly attributable to abortion.
The UK's Royal College of Psychiatrists warned in 2008 that women should be counseled on the possible risk to their mental health before submitting to an abortion.

USA / Children: Obama takes swipe at pro-life activists

Obama takes swipe at pro-life activists, ignores Gosnell during Planned Parenthood speech

April 26, 2013 ( – President Obama took a combative stance during his speech to Planned Parenthood today, pledging his unconditional support to the abortion giant, and, at more than one point, taking a swipe at pro-life activists who oppose the organization.
"No matter how great the challenge, no matter how fierce the opposition, there's one thing that the past few years have shown," said President Obama, "that Planned Parenthood is not going anywhere. It's not going anywhere today. It's not going anywhere tomorrow."
He continued: "As long as we've got to fight to make sure women have access to quality affordable healthcare, and as long as we've got to fight to protect a women's right to make her own choices about her own health, I want you to know that you've also got a president who's going to be with you fighting with you every step of the way."
Obama was greeted enthusiastically by the crowd of some 1,000 Planned Parenthood supporters. "You're making me blush," he said in response to the protracted standing ovation.
During his speech he aimed his sights directly at pro-life activists. "The fact is, after decades of progress, there's still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st Century," Obama said. "And they've been involved in an orchestrated and historic effort to roll back basic rights when it comes to women's health."
"When politicians try to turn Planned Parenthood into a punching bag, they're not just talking about you," he said. "They're talking about the millions of women who you serve."
He also recounted how Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, "describes Planned Parenthood as the only organization that she's ever been at where there are opponents who, in her own words, 'literally get up every day trying to figure out how to keep us from doing our work.'"
He then quipped, "If she had worked in the administration she would be more familiar with this phenomenon."
Obama had been widely criticized for speaking to Planned Parenthood in the shadow of the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who stands accused of murdering several newborn babies after botched late-term abortions. During his speech, the president made no reference to the trial, and avoided any direct mention of the word abortion, instead referencing "choice."
Obama had originally been scheduled to headline Planned Parenthood's gala on Thursday evening, but backed out at the last minute earlier this week, saying that he wanted to spend more time at a memorial service for the victims of the fertilizer plant explosion in West Texas.
In his speech he also pleaded with Planned Parenthood clinic workers to help him get the word out about his health care reform law. Initial reports are suggesting that enrollment for the law's health care exchanges are dismally low, putting the whole law in jeaporady.
He concluded his speech saying, "Thank you Planned Parenthood. God bless you."
President Obama was reportedly the first sitting president ever to address Planned Parenthood.
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In the lead up to today's speech, pro-life activists had demanded that Obama cancel his appearance, pointing not only to the Gosnell trial, but also to Planned Parenthood lobbyist Alisa LaPolt Snow's testimony before the Florida House apparently defending infanticide, and revelations of horrendous conditions at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Delaware.
In a statement, Lila Rose of Live Action News, had said: "Over the past few weeks, we have heard the brutal details of the slaughter of innocent human beings that goes on within the walls of many abortion clinics, including Gosnell's 'House of Horrors' in Philadelphia and the 'meat-market' 'assembly-line' Planned Parenthood of Delaware."
"These accounts by former clinic staff have shell-shocked the nation and it is incumbent upon the President to reconsider his support for the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood, which last year profited from abortion $87 million dollars committing over 300,000 abortions," she said.
Obama has long had a close relationship with Planned Parenthood, which donated $15 million to his re-election campaign last year.
In a press release published earlier this week announcing the president's planned appearance at their gala, Cecile Richards heaped accolades on the president, saying: "President Obama has done more than any president in history for women's health and rights."
During the recent election cycle he repeatedly touted Planned Parenthood on the campaign trail, and condemned Republican lawmakers for seeking to defund the abortion giant. On election day, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards went door-to-door canvassing for the president.

FAITH: Ban on religion forced Albanians to pray in secret: one woman's story

Ban on religion forced Albanians to pray in secret: one woman's story

TIRANA, Albania (CNS) -- Almost every evening at 6, the sounds of the organ resonate in the brick Catholic church on Kavaja Street. The hymns may vary, but the organist, Maria Dhimitri, is always the same. It has been that way for nearly 23 years and could have been double that, Dhimitri said in a recent interview, if it had not been for a brutally enforced ban on religion in her country in southeastern Europe from 1967 to 1990. "They banned all religious practice," the 76-year-old musician told
Catholic News Service from an annex of Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Her smile belied the "long" and "painful suffering" that she agreed to talk about one recent Saturday in April. "They said God didn't exist. I couldn't come to church or pray or speak of God at all," she said of the communist regime that came to power in her country soon after World War II. The regime made worshipping increasingly difficult and finally imposed a ban on religion in the country in 1967, making Albania the first and only constitutionally atheist state. Dhimitri was teaching piano at one of the country's top conservatories for music in the capital, Tirana, and was married with two small children when the ban went into effect.

Scottish Gaelic Bible / Online text : Gospel of Mark, Chapter 1

Scottish Gaelic Bible: Mark Chapter I

1:1 T oiseachd soisgeul Iosa Criosda, Mac Dhe.
1:2 Air reir 's mar tha e sgriobhte san fhaidh Isaias: seall, cuiridh mi m' aingeal roimh do ghnuis, a reiticheas do shlighe romhad.
1:3 Guth neach ag eigheach san fhasach: Reitichibh slighe an Tighearna, agus dianaibh a rathadain direach.
1:4 Bha Eoin anns an fhasach a baisteadh, 'sa searmonachadh baisteadh an aithreachais gu mathanas pheacannan.
1:5 Agus chaidh duthaich Iudea uile mach ga ionnsuidh, agus muinntir Ierusalem gu leir, is bhaisteadh iad leis ann an abhuinn Iordain ag aideachadh am peacannan.
1:6 Agus bha Eoin air eideadh le fionnadh chamhal, is crios leathair mu mheadhon; agus dh' ith e locuist is mil fhiadhaich. Agus shearmonaich e ag radh:
1:7 Tha fear nas cumhachdaiche na mise tighinn as mo dheigh: neach nach airidh mise air cromadh sios is barail a bhrogan fhuasgladh.
1:8 Bhaist mise sibh le uisge; ach baistidh esan sibh leis an Spiorad Naomh.
1:9 Is thachair, gun tainig Iosa anns na laithean sin bho Nasareth Ghalile; agus bhaisteadh e le Eoin ann an abhuinn Iordan.
1:10 'S air ball a direadh as an uisge, chunnaic e neamh fosgailte, 's an Spiorad mar chalman a tearnadh 'sa fantuinn air.
1:11 Agus thainig guth bho neamh : Is tusa mo Mhac gaolach, is mor mo thlachd dhiot.
1:12 Agus ghrad-ghreas an Spiorad e dhan fhasach.
1:13 Agus bha e san fhasach da-fhichead latha, agus da-fhichead oidhche; is bhuaireadh le Satan e; 's bha e comhla ris na h-ainmhidhean, agus bha na h-ainglean a frithealadh dha.
1:14 'S an deigh do dh' Eoin a bhith air a chuir an greim, thainig Iosa do Ghalile, a searmonachadh soisgeul rioghachd Dhe,
1:15 'S ag radh: Tha 'n t-am air a choimhlionadh, 's tha rioghachd Dhe aig laimh; deanaibh aithreachas, agus creidibh san t-soisgeul.
1:16 'Sa gabhail ri taobh muir Ghalile, chunnaic e Simon,agus Anndra a bhrathair, a cur lion sa mhuir (oir b' iasgairean iad.),
1:17 Agus thuirt Iosa riutha: Thigibh leanaibh mise, agus ni mi iasgairean dhaoine dhibh.
1:18 Agus ghrad dh' fhag iad na lin, is lean iad e.
1:19 'Sa gabhail as a sin ceum beag air adhart, chunnaic e Seumas mac Shebede agus Eoin a bhrathair, 's iad a caradh nan lion sa bhata:
1:20 Agus ghairm e iad san uair. 'Sa fagail an athar Sebede maille ris an luchd thuarasdail sa bhata, lean iad e.
1:21 Agus chaidh iad a stigh do Chapharnaum; agus air dha a dhol a stigh gun dail air na laithean sabaid dhan t-sinagog, theagaisg e iad.
1:22 Agus ghabh iad ioghnadh ri theagasg: oir bha e gan teagasg mar neach aig an robh cumhachd, 's chan ann mar na Sgriobhaich.
1:23 Agus bha san t-sinagag aca duine anns an robh spiorad neoghlan, is dh' eigh e
1:24 Ag radh: Ciod an comunn eadar sinn agus thusa, Iosa bho Nasareth? An tainig thu gus ar sgrios? Is aithne dhomh co thu, Aon Naomh Dhe.
1:25 Is mhaoith Iosa air, ag radh: Bi samhach, agus gabh a-mach as an duine.
1:26 'S an spiorad neoghlan ga reubadh, 's ag eigheach le guth ard, chaidh e mach as.
1:27 Agus ghabh iad uile ioghnadh, ionnus gun d' fharraid iad 'nam measg fhein, ag radh: De tha so? De an teagasg ur so? oir tha e toirt orduigh le cumhachd do na spioraid neoghlan fhein, agus tha iad umhail dha.
1:28 'Agus sgaoil iomradh air gun dail feadh duthaich Ghalile uile.
1:29 'Sa dol a mach air ball as an t-sinagog, thainig iad maille ri Seumas is Eoin gu tigh Shimoin is Anndra.
1:30 Agus bha mathair-cheile Shimoin 'na laidhe ann am fiabhras; agus dh 'innis iad dha gun dail mu deidhinn.
1:31 Agus thainig e, 'sa breith air laimh oirre thog e i is ghrad-dh' fhag am fiabhras i, agus fhreasdail i dhaibh.
1:32 'S nuair thainig am feasgar, 'sa chaidh a ghrian fodha, thug iad ga ionnsuidh iadsan uile a bha easlainteach, agus anns an robh deomhain.
1:33 'S bha am baile uile air cruinneachadh aig an dorus.
1:34 Agus leighis e moran, a bha air an leireadh le iomadh gne ghalar, agus thilg e mach moran dheomhan, 's cha do leig e leo labhairt, a chionn 's gum b' aithne dhaibh e.
1:35 'S ag eirigh ro-mhoch, 'sa dol a mach, chaidh e gu aite fas; is rinn e urnaigh an sin.
1:36 Agus lean Simon e, agus iadsan a bha comhla ris.
1:37 'S nuair a fhuair iad e, thuirt iad ris: Tha iad uile gad shireadh.
1:38 Is thuirt e riutha: rachamaid dha na bailtean sa choimhearsnachd, gus an searmonaich mi an sin cuideachd: 's gur ann air son so a thainig mi.
1:39 'S bha e teagasg 'nan sinagogan, 's feadh Ghalile uile, 'sa tilgeadh a-mach dheomhan.
1:40 Agus thainig lobhar ga ionnsuidh, a guidhe air; 'sa tuiteam air a ghluinean,thuirt e ris: Ma 's aill leat, is urrainn dhut mo ghlanadh.
1:41 'Sa gabhail truais ris, shin Iosa a lamh, 'sa beantuinn dha, thuirt e ris : Is aill leam: bi glan.
1:42 'S nuair thuirt e so, ghrad-dh' fhag an luibhre e, agus bha e air a ghlanadh.
1:43 'S thug e sparradh cruaidh dha, agus leig e air falbh e gun dail;
1:44 'S thuirt e ris: Fiach nach innis thu do neach sam bith : ach falbh, fiach thu fhein don ard-shagart, agus tairg air son do ghlanaidh na nithean a dh' orduich Maois, mar theisteanas dhaibh.
1:45 Ach air dhasan a dhol a mach, thoisich e ri innse, 's ri sgaoileadh an sgeoil; air chor 's nach b' urrainn dha a nis a dhol a stigh don bhaile gu follaiseach, ach dh' fhuirich e a mach ann an aiteachan fas, agus chrunnaich iad as gach aite ga ionnsuidh.

SOCIETY / Children: Australian government weighs heavy subsidy for 'abortion pill' RU-486

Australian government weighs heavy subsidy for 'abortion pill' RU-486

CWN - April 26, 2013

Health officials in Australia have recommended a heavy government subsidy for the abortifacient drug RU-486.

Ignoring evidence regarding the health risks caused by the "abortion pill," the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee released its recommendation of the change on April 26. The government is expected to endorse the proposal. Opposition leader Tony Abbott, who in the past has taken a pro-life stand, said that the government "invariably" accepts advice from advisory groups on technical matters.

The proposed change would bring down the cost of an abortion using RU-486, from around $300 to only $12. Australian taxpayers would cover the difference in price.

German court says Catholic who renounced faith has no right to job at Catholic church

German court says Catholic who renounced faith has no right to job at Catholic church

CWN - April 26, 2013

A German court has ruled against a man who had claimed that he had a right to work for a Catholic charity even after he legally renounced his Catholic faith.

The plaintiff in the case had been dismissed as a tutor, working for Caritas Germany, after he changed his legal registration as a Catholic, in a public protest against Church policies. He said that his dismissal was a violation of his freedom of expression.

The court ruled that the Catholic Church, and other German religious groups, have the right to set their own standards for employment.

In Germany, citizens can register their religious affiliation, and a portion of their taxes are directed to their chosen church. Some Germans have changed their registration, dropping their affiliation with the Catholic Church. Although that public action does not constitute a formal renunciation of the Catholic faith, it does raise questions as to whether the individual can continue to be identified as Catholic.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

SOCIETY / U.K. : Firing teacher who called homosexuality a sin reflects ‘modern British tolerance’

Judge: Firing teacher who called homosexuality a sin reflects 'modern British values of tolerance'

LONDON, April 26, 2013 ( – In 2010, high school science teacher Robert Haye was dismissed from his position at Deptford Green School after he responded to questions from high school students aged 15-16 by saying that homosexual activity is a "sin."
Teaching authorities subsequently banned him "indefinitely" from teaching at any high school in the country, a ban that was later endorsed by Education Secretary Michael Gove.
Robert Haye faces discrimination in the UK.
A London High Court rejected Haye's appeal, saying that his comments were "inappropriate" and that he was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct, the campaign group Christian Concern reported, noting that this is the first case of its kind.
Haye, a Seventh Day Adventist, also reportedly told students that it those Christians who worship on Sundays are "basically worshipping the devil."
Haye cannot apply to return to the classroom for two years.
In his judgment, Mr. Justice King said that teachers must present positive information on homosexuality "to enable students to challenge derogatory stereotypes and prejudice," and that this policy reflected "modern British values of tolerance." He said Haye's appeal was "misconceived and must fail."
Robert Ogilvy, Haye's representative in court, said that the ban is "fundamentally unreasonable, unfair and disproportionate" and violated his client's freedom of speech and religion.
The judge disagreed, saying, "This case is not about the right of a teacher to hold sincerely held beliefs based on the Bible in relation to homosexuality or attendance at church on Sundays. It has been about how those beliefs and views are manifested in the context of teaching in schools with young people with diverse sexuality, backgrounds, and beliefs."
Haye said in a statement that the ruling was likely to end his teaching career, but that he would not recant his beliefs.
"God comes first," he said. "Christians are now being persecuted in this country for believing in the Bible."
"We have a right to believe and express what we believe, but people are now afraid of being punished for not being politically correct," Haye said. "This country is a free and democratic society – but is it? Is it really?"
The Church of England and the Catholic Church, as well as other religious groups, lawyers and some parliamentarians have repeatedly warned the government that the civil rights of both clergy and believing laity who have religious or moral objections to homosexual activity are under threat from the government's proposed "gay marriage" legislation.
Dozens of stories continue to emerge each year of British Christians being sacked and disciplined at work, sued in civil courts and even arrested for publicly objecting to homosexuality.
Speaking to Haye's case, Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said it is only one, with more to come should the government pass the bill into law.
Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.
"This case shows that even before any change in the law on marriage, people with strong beliefs on sexual ethics are being squeezed out of their jobs."
"There is a deep irony that, in the name of 'tolerance,' people are being forced into accepting a set of values to which they have not subscribed," he said. "The courts are actually propagating a growing intolerance and are failing to protect people's freedom of expression."
A new ComRes poll released in February found that one in 10 teachers would refuse to cover same-sex "marriages" in their lessons, while one in six said they "wouldn't be happy about it."
Campaign Director for the Coalition for Marriage, Colin Hart, responded to the findings, saying, "Tens of thousands of teachers face the real prospect of being disciplined, or sacked, over the government's proposals to redefine marriage, creating a poisonous atmosphere in every staffroom in every school.
He pointed out that the "safeguards" in the government's "gay marriage" bill – that they have called a "quadruple lock" – are all directed to clergy of the Church of England, that there is no wording included in the legislation that would protect lay people working in the public sector from legal action.
Michael Gove has reportedly agreed that teachers' freedom of speech and religion will be curtailed by the bill. President of Gove's Surrey Heath Conservative Association, Geoffrey Vero, told Radio 5 Live that Gove is "concerned" about the possible consequences.
"I think it has consequences for teachers, I think it has consequences for parents and children, and although Michael says in the Mail Friday that he has total confidence in the legislation, well that's not what he told me only a week ago when I met him in Parliament," Vero said. Even the "quadruple lock" that covers only Church of England clergy, is suspect, Vero said: "We don't have total confidence that that is going to stand the test of time."
Brendan O'Neill, editor of online libertarian magazine Spiked, has expressed his shock at how quickly the public "space" for disagreement with "gay marriage" has shrunk.
In his April 17th editorial, "Gay marriage: a case study in conformism," O'Neill wrote, "I have been doing or writing about political stuff for 20 years, since I was 18 years old, during which time I have got behind some pretty unpopular campaigns and kicked against some stifling consensuses. But I have never encountered an issue like gay marriage, an issue in which the space for dissent has shrunk so rapidly, and in which the consensus is not only stifling but choking."
He described being booed and receiving death threats after he criticised the proposal "from a liberal secular perspective."

I aborted healthy 26-wk baby for no reason, Canadian woman tells talk show host

I aborted healthy 26-wk baby for no reason, Canadian woman tells talk show host

MONTREAL, April 26, 2013 ( – A Canadian women who says she has aborted five pregnancies told a radio show host that her last abortion was performed while she was 26 weeks pregnant for no serious reason.

"But the last time it happened to me, the fifth time, I got pretty far into the pregnancy," a caller named Karel told show host Isabelle Maréchal from 98.5 FM in Montreal on April 9.

Talk show host Isabelle Maréchal.

"I was 26 weeks," said Karel.

The host was incredulous. "Oh wow, and they aborted you anyway?" he asked.

Karel: At the CLSC on Rue Sanguinet. They handle pregnancies of more than 24 weeks.

Host: Did you have a problem? Was it a [high-risk] pregnancy that endangered your life?

Talk show host Isabelle Maréchal.

Karel: No, I had no problems. I was O negative, but that was no problem, because today I have a child...

But the host was still in disbelief. "I don't understand how they could've aborted you at 26 weeks if you weren't in a high-risk pregnancy," he said.

"At 26 weeks? That…that's two-thirds of a pregnancy. We can't say it's an embryo any more," the host said.

Click "like" if you want to end abortion!

Many Canadians are surprised when they discover that Canada has no law regarding abortion, making abortion legal during all nine months of a woman's pregnancy for any reason.

A number of Canadian's were dismayed last November when Statistics Canada confirmed to that 491 babies were left to die after being born alive during failed abortions. Pro-choice advocates at first slammed the interpretation of the Statistics Canada data, arguing that late term abortions did not happen in Canada.

"No physician in Canada can terminate a pregnancy over 24 weeks without serious indications such as if the life of the mother at risk, or if the fetus has very serious malformations," wrote liberal and pro-abortion MP Carolyn Bennett earlier this year in a response to a column on the topic by the National Post's Jonathan Kay.

"Mr. Kay's assertion that late trimester abortions can be performed 'for any reason, or no reason at all' is just not true. I challenge him to find one late trimester abortion perfomed [sic] in Canada to a healthy mother with a healthy fetus," she said.

During the broadcast, the radio host expressed her own surprise and disbelief over the caller's decision to abort her baby at such a late stage.

Host: We can always debate about the [moral] state of the fetus, but it looks more like a baby than an embryo at 26 weeks.

Karel: Yes, he even moved. I thought it was gas. But it wasn't gas, it was kicks...The guilt that I experienced with that...I know there are plenty of people who judge but... it's gone beyond that. I am where I am. And I will tell you I'm very happy. And I don't regret it to be honest with you.

Earlier this month peer reviewed research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that late-term abortions resulting in both stillbirths and live births are steadily on the rise.

Researchers found that the "overall rate of pregnancy terminations, whether resulting in a stillbirth or a live birth" increased in British Columbia by 133 percent in less than a decade.

Pro-life advocates have pointed out that while most Canadian doctors will not perform late-term abortions, there are nonetheless a significant number who will. For such doctors, the Canadian Medical Association guidelines on abortion lack any binding force that would prevent them from aborting babies at late stages.

Dr. Fraser Fellows, a London-area late-term abortionist, has admitted to performing abortions up to 23 weeks and six days. During a 2011 debate with pro-life advocate Stephanie Gray, Fellows admitted that graphic video footage of a real abortion that showed a baby about to exit the birth canal, but who was dangling limply with blood pulsing from his neck, was an accurate reflection of what he did during a late-term abortion.

Dr. Jean Guimond, head of abortion services at CLSC of Faubourgs, where the caller allegedly had her late-term abortion, is also known for his defense of abortion during all nine months of pregnancy on any grounds. He told a reporter in a 2007 interview: "The fetus is not a patient. The patient I am helping is the woman who is pregnant."

Suzanne Fortin, a pro-life activist and blogger at Big Blue Wave, who posted the Montreal radio interview on her blog, said that she could understand people's skepticism toward late-term abortions. "After all, it is widely repeated that abortions don't happen after 20 weeks." she said.

Fortin said that while late term abortions may be rare, "they do happen."

FAITH / Society: Gay activists curse and douse Bishop

Archbishop prays while topless gay activists shout curses and douse him with water

BRUSSELS, April 23, 2013 ( - In an astonshing display of gentleness in the face of a vile attack, the head of the Catholic Church in Belgium, Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, remained calmly seated with eyes closed in prayer Tuesday as four topless women attacked him with shouts and curses and doused him with water.
It's not the first time the bishop has been attacked for standing up for the Church's teachings on homosexuality and expressing his concern for those who live the homosexual lifestyle.
The incident took place at the ULB University in Brussels where the archbishop was participating in a debate on blasphemy laws.
The four women, representing the pro-abortion and homosexual group FEMEN, took to the stage where they disrobed to reveal black-painted slogans on their bare chests and backs, such as 'my body my rules,' and 'anus dei is coming.' They also held signs reading 'stop homophobia'. The women doused the archbishop with water from bottles formed in the image of the Virgin Mary.
(More photos here. Warning: uncensored)
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For most of the attack, which lasted a number of minutes before the women could be forced off stage, Archbishop Leonard sat drenched with water with eyes closed in prayer. After the ordeal, the archbishop kissed the image of the Virgin Mary on one of the water bottles that was used in the attack. Le Soir reports that one of the interveners said of the archbishop: "He was very calm and maintained a position of prayer. I have to believe he was praying for us."
According to FEMEN, Tuesday's attack was spurred by an interview three weeks ago where Archbishop Leonard said that when speaking to Christians who are inclined to homosexuality he suggests celibacy, as is required for all single persons.
Already in 2007, as Bishop of Namur, Archbishop Leonard was accused of an offence against the Belgian anti-racism act for calling homosexual acts "abnormal". In 2008 he was cleared of homophobia charges after appearing in court.
In 2010, as the new archbishop of Brussels, the archbishop was targeted by homosexualist groups, and condemned by the country's prime minister, after he said that AIDS is a consequence of risky sexual behavior, including homosexual sexual activity.
Also in 2010 he was attacked at his Cathedral by a man who shoved a cherry pie in the archbishop's face. Again in 2011, homosexual activists at the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve near Brussels threw a custard pie in the archbishop's face.
Archbishop Leonard has been a great supporter for the pro-life movement in Belgium, speaking at their inaugural March for Life in 2010.
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PHILOSOPHY & Faith: Come back, Richard Dawkins, all is forgiven

Come back, Richard Dawkins, all is forgiven
April 26, 2013
Have you heard about the New New Atheism? The old New Atheism is finished, as Ed West pointed out in these pages last month. It was a Noughties fad, like Emo or MySpace.
Richard Dawkins's crusade against the religion "virus" excited lots of people in the aftermath of 9/11 and the global panic about Islamic extremism. Today it just sounds tired and silly – and the whole angry atheist vogue seems little more than a brilliant publishing stunt to sell big books to small minds.
Dawkins himself has turned into a sad figure, an attention-seeking old man who insults Muslims on Twitter. The other atheist stars have faded, too. Christopher Hitchens is dead, poor man. And can you remember anything Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett have said? Nope, nor can I.
In their place, another breed of nuanced atheists has emerged – with books of their own to flog. They disdain Dawkins for his fundamentalism and his rudeness. They are quick to recognise the strengths of religion and admit the shortcomings of unbelief. Their high priest is not a scientist, but Alain de Botton, the pop philosopher and author of Religion for Atheists (just £8.99 on Amazon, thanks very much). De Botton says that religions are "too intermittently useful, effective and intelligent to be abandoned to the religious alone".
He intends to "steal" – he puts the word in inverted commas – some of the most useful parts of religion and deploy them in the service of secular Humanism. Instead of priests, he wants better therapists. Instead of Scripture, he wants high-brow literature. Instead of churches, he wants museums to be places of "consolation, meaning and redemption". In short, he wants to re-invent culture as religion. Well, good luck with that, Alain.
A number of other prominent atheists are talking about the need for a less strident secularism. Douglas Murray, the conservative intellectual, admits that life without religion can be hollow and that secularism is "faint on human suffering". "Just because something is not literally true does not mean that there is no truth, or worth, in it," he says. Murray is inspired by Richard Holloway, the former Anglican Bishop of Edinburgh who these days prides himself on being post-faith. Holloway says he doesn't believe in Christianity any more, but he still "wants to have it around".
The New Atheism of the 2000s was caused in part by a secular exasperation at organised religion's stubborn refusal to disappear from public life. But the newer atheism sees that anger is not an attractive position in the long run – especially not if it's coming from people who say they cherish rationality above all else. The New New Atheists are nothing if not reasonable. Attacking religion for its own sake just seems petty to them. Fashionable feminist writers such as Tanya Gold and Zoe Williams are not interesting in picking on the devout old ladies who set up soup kitchens. That would be self-defeating. They would much rather keep their powder dry for the bigger fight against the dreaded Religious Right – which means any Christian who doesn't fully support them on gay marriage, gay adoption, abortion, condoms, hating Tories, the whole Left-liberal shebang.
In one sense, then, the newer atheism is just a more targeted sneering – at those whose faith is uncompromising, like Catholics, for instance, or Evangelicals, or indeed Richard Dawkins. But something deeper is happening here, too. We might even be witnessing the beginnings of a reformation in the post-Christian world. Dawkins and co are the puritanical iconoclasts. The newcomers are more agnostic, even if many of them would be loath to admit it. They are moving away from unbelief and grasping through the medium of doubt for something more profound.
In this respect, the New New Atheism bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain sort of liberal Anglicanism. Both place a very English stress on good manners and fair-mindedness. Both accept the limits of human understanding. Both emphasise the social importance of shared values and ritual. Both appreciate The Selfish Gene and like to cast doubts on the literal veracity of the gospels. Both are deeply suspicious of firm beliefs and religious zeal. Just as the Church of England has been described as "the religion at the end of religion", the Church of de Botton might be called "the atheism at the end of atheism". Between them, there is plenty of room or what we might call inter-belief system dialogue.
And for certain type of godless metropolitan trendy, genteel Anglicanism, with its tea drinking and nice vicars, has a certain ironic retro appeal.
At first, Catholics and Evangelicals will welcome the shift away from outright antagonism and towards nuance. It makes for a more polite conversation. It restores our faith in human decency. But at least with Richard Dawkins, we knew where we stood.
There's something quite patronising about the newer atheists' attitude to faith: "Of course we are not so stupid as to believe any of it, but that doesn't meant it isn't jolly interesting and even handy in the fight against Right-wing individualism." That's not just patronising, it might be more destructive. Dawkins and Hitchens may have set out to finish off religion, but actually they saved several Christian publishers as religiously inclined readers ran to bookshops to arm their minds with good arguments. Still today there seems to be a cottage industry for anti-Dawkins literature.
But the New New Atheists are encroaching on the same intellectual territory, and by adopting the philosophical centre ground – the moderate middle between belief and unbelief – they may well prove more successful than their predecessors at pushing authentic religion towards the margins. Give me old-fashioned bile any day. Come back, Professor Dawkins, all is forgiven.
Freddy Gray is assistant editor of The Spectator
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Catholic Herald dated 26/4/13

MISSION: Church must evangelize humbly - Pope Francis

Church must evangelize humbly, Pope Francis reflects
April 26, 2013

Pope Francis in Paul VI Hall during an audience on

March 16, 2013. Credit:

Vatican City, Apr 25, 2013 / 11:10 am (CNA/EWTN News)
.-Christians are called to do the great work of evangelizing to the ends of the world in a spirit of humility rather than an attitude of conquering, Pope Francis said.
"Today we ask the Lord to become missionaries in the Church, apostles in the Church but in this spirit: a great magnanimity and also a great humility," he said in his April 25 homily at Mass for members of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops at Casa Santa Marta.
Also present at the Mass were Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, and police from the Vatican Gendarmerie, Vatican Radio reported.
To travel the world preaching the gospel is "the mission of the Church," Pope Francis said.
"But she does not go forth alone: she goes forth with Jesus...the Lord works with all those who preach the Gospel. This is the magnanimity that Christians should have."
A timid, or "pusillanimous" Christian, he added, "is incomprehensible: this magnanimity is part of the Christian vocation: always more and more, more and more, more and more, always onwards."
Preaching the gospel, said the pontiff, requires "humility, service, charity, brotherly love." To approach evangelization with an imperialism, or attitude of conquering "doesn't work." Rather, Christians evangelize by their witness.
"The Christian must not be like soldiers who when they win the battle make a clean sweep of everything."
Pope Francis addressed the tension between magnanimity, or greatness of spirit, and humility in which Christians are called to live.
"When we go forth with this magnanimity and humility, when we are not scared by the great things, by the horizon, but also take on board the little things – humility, daily charity – the Lord confirms the Word."
"This is divine – it is like a tension between the great and the small," he said, noting that "Christian missionary activity" proceeds "along this path."

During his remarks, the Pope also discussed the tension between suffering and Christian triumph."The triumph of the Church is the Resurrection of Jesus, But there is first the Cross."


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Syrian rebels kidnap 2 prelates

Syrian rebels kidnap 2 prelates

CWN - April 23, 2013

Syrian rebels have kidnapped two prominent Orthodox prelates while they were traveling outside Aleppo, the nation's largest city.
One of the kidnap victims, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of Aleppo, had said last September that "in its modern history Aleppo has not seen such critical and painful times" and that "Christians have been attacked and kidnapped in monstrous ways."
The other kidnap victim was Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi of Aleppo.

Israeli settlers occupy, then leave, Catholic hermitage

Israeli settlers occupy, then leave, Catholic hermitage

CWN - April 22, 2013

Jewish settlers briefly occupied a hermitage on land owned by the Latin-rite Patriarchate of Jerusalem, before moving away after protests by local Christians and Muslims.
The Jewish settlers raised the Israeli flag over the hermitage in Taybeh, northeast of Jerusalem, on April 19. The building had been constructed by a Catholic monk, but had not been occupied during the past year. The settlers moved out after protests.
Bishop William Shomali, an auxiliary for the Jerusalem patriarchate, visited the site on April 20 to speak with local officials. The bishop told the Fides news service that he wanted to reemphasize that "we protect our holy places, and we do not allow others to come and occupy lands, homes and places of worship where we have been for years and centuries."
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CHURCH: Protestant fragmentation, Orthodox disagreement slow ecumenical progress

Protestant fragmentation, Orthodox disagreement slow ecumenical progress, says Vatican cardinal

CWN - April 22, 2013

The Vatican has reached agreement with the Lutheran World Federation on a joint statement to be released for the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's theses, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity has disclosed.
The joint document will be released in June, Cardinal Kurt Koch told Austrian interviewers. In a candid exchange, the cardinal also spoke of some of the main obstacles to ecumenical progress. He listed the continued fragmentation of Protestant groups and the failure of Orthodox leaders to reach their own mutual understanding on the question of primacy.
The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople is "the most optimistic among all the patriarchs" regarding the prospects for unity, Cardinal Koch said. But the path to a real agreement appears blocked for now because Orthodox leaders have not agreed on any understanding of primacy beyond a "primacy of honor." The cardinal observed that such an understanding is workable "only in good weather."
If the Catholic Church had accepted a papacy based solely on "primacy of honor," Cardinal Koch said, the likely result would have been "the same fate as the Orthodox"—numerous national churches" rather than true and lasting unity.
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Monday, April 22, 2013

SSPX begins critique of Pope Francis

SSPX begins criticizing new pope

April 19, 2013 2:36am

PARIS - A rebel Catholic group at the heart of major controversies that plagued former Pope Benedict has begun criticizing his successor Pope Francis for the popular approach he has taken since his election last month.

In a letter to supporters this week, the head of the ultra- traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) asked whether the new pontiff's focus on serving people could be only "man-centered philanthropy" rather than true religious leadership.

Bishop Bernard Fellay's sharp criticisms of the Vatican attracted attention during Benedict's papacy because the now retired head of the Roman Catholic Church wanted to reintegrate the once-excommunicated group fully into the Roman fold.

Francis, the former Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, has upset many Catholic traditionalists by eschewing Vatican pomp, presenting himself as a humble servant of the poor and showing little interest in returning to centuries-old traditions.

In his letter, Fellay urged Francis "not to allow souls to perish because they no longer learn sound doctrine", by which he meant the ultra-traditionalist views the SSPX advocates.

"What good is it to devote oneself to serving people if it hides from them what is essential?" asked Fellay, whose group claims 500 priests and a million followers around the world.

Aiding the poor has always been a concern for the Church, he said, "but if it becomes merely man-centered philanthropy, then the Church is no longer carrying out its mission".

Fellay, who had long hoped that Benedict would give in and reintegrate his group without conditions, had avoided public comment on his successor until now.

Soon after his election, the SSPX head for South America, Rev Christian Bouchacourt, denounced Francis's simple style as humiliating and undignified for the Church.

'Not a Catholic'

While Benedict criticized some reforms of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council, Francis praised it on Tuesday as "a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit" that remained to be fully implemented although some wanted to turn back the clock.

Benedict's wooing of the SSPX, part of a his wider plan to bring back many Catholic traditions sidelined after Vatican II, triggered several controversies during his eight-year papacy.

His 2007 decision to allow wider use of the old Latin Mass met with a mixed reaction among Catholics and Jewish groups said it revived an old Latin prayer they considered anti-Semitic.

Two years later, Benedict set off a firestorm of criticism from Catholics, Jews and German politicians when he lifted the excommunications on the four SSPX bishops, including the notorious Holocaust-denier Bishop Richard Williamson.

Lifting the excommunications meant the four bishops were once again full members of the 1.2-billion member Church, but they and the SSPX had no official position or role within it.

In 2010, the Vatican launched theological discussions with the rebels aimed at an agreement that would make the SSPX a "personal prelature" or autonomous institution in the Church.

They ended in deadlock last year and Benedict made clear he would not give in on central Vatican II reforms such as its opening to dialog with other faiths, especially Judaism.

Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, the top doctrinal official in Rome, told Germany's Catholic news agency KNA last month that all priests accept the Council's reforms as valid.

"Whoever does not recognize this is not a Catholic," he declared. Reuters

Romero Beatification May Move forward

Francis 'unblocks' Romero beatification, official says

 |  Apr. 22, 2013

A Vatican official responsible for the sainthood cause of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador announced Sunday that the cause has been "unblocked" by Pope Francis, suggesting that beatification of the assassinated prelate could come swiftly.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia spoke Sunday in the Italian city of Molfetta at a Mass honoring the 20th anniversary of the death of Bishop Antonio "Tonino" Bello, known as one of Italy's premier "peace bishops."

In addition to being the president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, Paglia also serves as the postulator for Romero's sainthood cause.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints has been studying the Romero case since 1996, after the church in El Salvador formally opened the procedure in 1990.

At the end of his 20-minute homily Sunday dedicated to the memory of Bello, Paglia said: "Just today, the day of the death of Don Tonino, the cause of the beatification of Monsignor Romero has been unblocked." Here is a video of Paglia's homily:

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Through an aide, Paglia told NCR on Monday that he "confirms" the announcement made Sunday in Molfetta, and hopes to have additional details to add shortly.

Paglia had been received by Pope Francis on Saturday, and presumably the decision to authorize moving forward with the cause came out of that session.

Romero was shot to death while saying Mass in El Salvador on March 24, 1980. While he is seen as a hero to many because of his solidarity with the poor and his opposition to human rights abuses, his cause has also been viewed with suspicion in some quarters, partly because of Romero's links to the controversial liberation theology movement.

Although both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have said publicly that Romero was a martyr for the faith, there's also been some question as to whether his death meets the classic test for martyrdom of being killed in odium fidei, meaning "in hatred of the faith," or whether the motives were more social and political.

If Romero is judged a martyr, he could be beatified without having a miracle attributed to his intercession.

Immediately after the election of Francis, there was speculation both in Rome and in El Salvador that history's first Latin American pope would generate new momentum for the beatification of Romero.

Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez, Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador, said March 26 he knows Francis personally, "and I know he is absolutely convinced that Romero is a saint and a martyr."

"Everything points to his beatification being on the cards," Chavez said, "although we follow God's time frame which is not the same as ours."

In an interview with NCR shortly after Francis' election, Paglia likewise confirmed his commitment to the cause.

"Romero is an example of a pastor who gave his life for others," Paglia said at the time.

"Beyond any canonical problems in terms of whether he died directly in odium fidei, Romero continues to be a point of reference for millions and millions of people, believers and non-believers alike."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Faith is not theoretical, but a personal relationship with Jesus

Faith is not theoretical, but a personal relationship with Jesus, Pope says

CWN - April 18, 2013

Faith in Christ means belief in a real person, not a theoretical being, Pope Francis said in his homily at an April 18 Mass for Italian police serving around the Vatican. The Pope contrasted the Christian understanding of God with the notion of "an intangible essence, mist, or spray," a god who is "a little bit everywhere but who no one really knows anything about." On the contrary, he observed, Jesus is a historic person with whom a personal relationship can be formed.
To illustrate his point the Pope alluded to the day's Scripture reading, which recounted St. Philip's meeting with the eunuch from the Egyptian court. Although he was "a careerist," the courtier received and recognized the good news, the Pope said. The Acts of the Apostles record that "he went on his way rejoicing." Pope Francis remarked: "It is the joy of faith, the joy of having encountered Jesus, the joy that only Jesus gives us, the joy that gives peace."

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On Finding Out Where Home is and Staying There: Some advice from Jesus

On Finding Out Where Home is and Staying There. Some advice from Jesus for Saving Souls and Evangelizing


There is a small bit of advice that Jesus gave his first evangelizers that we do well to heed, lest we be overwhelmed with the task of trying to evangelize a culture that has gone increasingly dark. In effect Jesus counsels: 

When you enter a place, first say, 'Peace to this house.' If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house (Lk 10:5-7).

Note the two counsels:

1. Find out where home is and
2. Stay and work there.

A few brief thoughts on both these areas.

As for finding where home is, all of us in the Church, have both a vocational call and  some specific gifts within that call. Are you called to marriage, priesthood, religious, or perhaps a life of dedicated celibacy?

As a priest, I am a parish priest. And thus my primary work is to till the ground of my own parish, which is understood not merely as a roster of people, but a physical territory with boundaries. I, and my parish with me, are responsible to see that every human person in our boundaries has heard the call of Jesus Christ to be disciples. And, to all who will answer that call, I and my parish with me, must help to deepen the faith of one another, through Word, Sacraments and Witness. This is the "house" I am to find and stay here.

It is similar with religious, who may move about in a wider sort of way and be less territorial, but who nonetheless find their home in the charisms and apostolic work of the community they join.

Those who live the live of a kind of dedicated celibacy, (perhaps because they cannot marry, or have simply not found a suitable marriage partner) need to find "home" by assessing the gifts God has given them and using them in a focused sort of way, whether in a specific place or manner.

If you are married, your primary responsibility is your spouse and children, any grandchildren, and to some degree, your wider family. Evangelization is most essential here. This is the house your are to find and stay there.

But note, in all these areas, the key is to find out where "home" is and stay there. It is to find out where and what God has called me to do and do that with stability and regularity.

It is too easy for us to get out of our lane, and range far from home. And this leads to several problems.

Problem of the Perfunctory – We can cast our net too widely, and become involved in too many pursuits, or in too many far flung places. If we are not careful, our work for the Lord ends up being a thousand miles wide and only two inches thick. Depth is often more important that width.

Problem of Proximity – It may well be argued that our culture has suffered such a rapid decline because there is too much mobility, and cultivating the deeper relationships necessary to handing on the faith and culture are largely absent. Even members of nuclear families spend little real time together. Parishes too have very ephemeral memberships, and often experience little continuity in leadership. No one knows where home is anymore. But that is where the faith is cultivated. There is a lot to be said for proximity and stability.

Problem of Pride – Finally there is a sense in which not staying in our lane leads us into others lanes. In particular today there is the problem of easily critiquing the vineyard of others, but not tending our own. It is easy for a priest to critique the Bishop or bishops, and yet his won parish has serious problems. It is easy to critique the pastor or bishop for the poor condition of the Church or even the culture, and yet, meanwhile, some of those who critique have numerous family members who are away from the faith, living in sin and disorder.

Yes, when we fail to stay in our own lane and work our own issues, it is so much easier to find fault with others. The best course is to find out where home is and stay and work there, to find our lane and stay in it. To be clear, some mutual critique is necessary and helpful, but only if offered in the humility and experience of having worked and struggled in one's own vineyard.

There is a second sense of staying it might be of some value to pursue. For another of our modern tendencies is to want quick results, and to give up easily when results are not fairly instant. In this since we do well to ponder another meaning of the Lord's command to stay.

We sometimes speak in English of "Staying in the conversation." Generally this means that we appreciate that persuasion, and drawing someone to some aspect of the truth, is not often accomplished merely in one moment. Rather a conversation stretching over many sessions, even weeks for years is sometimes necessary bring about the kind of consensus we seek in the truth of Jesus Christ.

One sermon, class or talk is seldom enough to draw forth sudden and instant conversion. Rather, the ongoing conversation of a lifetime is what it really takes to prepare us to meet God.

This is also true in our desire to draw others to the faith, especially those closest to us. Ongoing conversation, and the deepening of relationships is usually what it takes to effect lasting conversion.

Thus, in this sense, when the Lord says "stay,"  he means "persevere." When a farmer plants a seed, he would be foolish to expect a harvest the very next day. Rather, the seed having been planted, it is now necessary to cultivate around the seed, see that the field is irrigated, and the crop is kept safe from the poison of disease and insects. It is an ongoing work which, by God's grace yields and abundant fruit in due season.

The human person of course may require more than a season. All the more reason that we must stay in the conversation with others.

Indeed, sometimes we must be content to plant seeds that others will harvest. As a priest, I have sometimes had the joy of harvesting where others have planted. Perhaps there is a knock at the rectory door and someone returns to the Church after 30 years away to make a confession. I am simply bringing in the harvest someone else planted. I am continuing conversation to someone else began.

In my parish, as we go out in the neighborhood and knock on doors, or witness in the local park, we experience both the planting of the seed, and also sometimes the harvest. Sometimes too we are engaged in cultivating. For some only grudgingly accept our invitation for a moment of their time, and we are breaking hard ground to plant seed. In other cases, some joyfully receive us and tell us how their mother was Catholic or their  spouse and that they are happy to join us in prayer, or  for the Mass on Sunday. Still others are not ready for the harvest, but we are able to cultivate a bit, perhaps clearing out the weeds of misinformation or misunderstanding, or showing for the smiling supportive face of the Church, where as they had been hurt in the past.

But all of us need to be willing to initiate and stay in the conversation in our families, our parishes, and wherever the Lord calls us to work.

Mad, Sad, Glad - Finally, one of the things I have discovered as a priest is that, as our culture has become more secular, and soft, many biblical themes are  shocking when people hear them, often for the first time, or for the first time in a long number of years.

When I was first ordained, people often called me "a different sort of priest." This was because I spoke of things that many of them had not heard from the mouth of the priest for many, many years, or ever. I trained myself to preach by listening to everything Bishop Fulton Sheen had ever uttered, or written. I had also listened to a great number of Protestant evangelical preachers. And thus when I preached, I spoke in the terminology of the "old-time religion."  I warned of death, and judgment, heaven and hell. I spoke plainly of the reality of mortal sin, and the need for confession and repentance.  And I named certain sins such as contraception, fornication, abortion. I also took plainly the meaning of the Lord's words it if we did not learn to forgive, we would not be forgiven and that we ought to develop a holy Fear of the Lord.

And speaking in this way, I noticed that people at first were quite shocked. A few were pleased, but many more were angered and dismayed. They had grown accustomed to the abstractions and generalities of common Catholic preaching in the 70s and 80s. In those years there was a  sort of unwritten rule among Catholic preachers to do no harm, and offend no one, ever, under any circumstances.

Despite early push-back from parishioners and some fellow clergy, something in me (I pray it was the Lord rather than my pride) told me to stay in the conversation, to not give up. I figured it might take time, but the people would get used, once again, to hearing basic biblical and Catholic terminology. And largely, I have found this to be true.

Today, when I first go to a parish, people don't often know what to make of me. But, to their praise, most of them stay in the conversation, And little by little, we both day and I move forward To re-appropriate the  biblical vision that had become somewhat obscured in these secular and soft times. There tends to be a kind of cycle where they go from mad, to sad, to glad, at least collectively speaking. Some never adjust and, while denying that I should mention Hell, tell me to go there :-) But, most people readjust to God's truth just fine. By God's grace too, many younger priests with the similar thinking have also emerged to do this work of speaking again in strong and clear biblical terminology.

So, if you are a parent, or family member, a priest or religious, it is important for all of us to learn how to stay in the conversation, and to be patient with one another as we try in stages to grow in a holy conversation. All of us need to accustom our ears to hear the unvarnished Word of God, and also to have our lips trained to speak it clearly and with love.

It is a process that takes time on both sides of the equation. And thus the Lord says to us today, Find out where home is and stay there;  find your part of the kingdom to cultivate your part of the culture to convert. Find your gifts and use them. And in doing this, stay put, persevere, have the long run in mind, develop deeper relationships, and stay in the conversation.