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Saying he no longer has the strength to exercise ministry over the universal church, Pope Benedict XVI announced Feb. 11 that he would be resigning at the end of the month.
“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” the pope told cardinals gathered for an ordinary public consistory to approve the canonization of new saints.
Pope Benedict, who was elected in April 2005, will be the first pope to resign in almost 600 years.
He told the cardinals, “In today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
The pope has had increasingly trouble walking in the past year, often using a cane and always being assisted getting up and down steps. However, the Vatican has never released medical information that would make it appear the pope suffers from anything other than joint pain connected to his age.
The option of a pope to resign is explicitly written into the Code of Canon Law. It says a pope may step down, but stipulates that the decision must be made freely and “duly manifested.”
Fulfilling the canonical requirement, Pope Benedict solemnly declared to the cardinals, “Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of St. Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new supreme pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.”
It is up to the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, to make preparations for a conclave to elect a new pope.
Before ending his remarks, Pope Benedict told the cardinals, “I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the holy church to the care of our supreme pastor, our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the cardinal fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new supreme pontiff.”
The pope made no mention of his future plans, other than to say, “I wish to also devotedly serve the holy church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”
From the USCCB –
Bishops look forward to finding acceptable solutions to shortcomings
Concerned that first-rate charities still given second-class status
Seek clarification on confusing finance plan
WASHINGTON—The Feb. 1 Notice of Proposed Rulemakingfrom the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) shows some movement by the Administration but falls short of addressing U.S. bishops’ concerns.
“Throughout the past year, we have been assured by the Administration that we will not have to refer, pay for, or negotiate for the mandated coverage.We remain eager for the Administration to fulfill that pledge and to find acceptable solutions—we will affirm any genuine progress that is made, and we will redouble our efforts to overcome obstacles or setbacks,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), in a February 7 statement. “Thus, we welcome and will take seriously the Administration’s invitation to submit our concerns through formal comments, and we will do so in the hope that an acceptable solution can be found that respects the consciences of all.At the same time, we will continue to stand united with brother bishops, religious institutions, and individual citizens who seek redress in the courts for as long as this is necessary.”
He listed three key areas of concern: the narrow understanding of a religious ministry; compelling church ministries to fund and facilitate services such as contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization that violate Catholic teaching; and disregard of the conscience rights of for-profit business owners. These are the same concerns articulated by the USCCB Administrative Committee in its March 2012 statement, United for Religious Freedom.
Cardinal Dolan said the new proposal seemed to address one part of the church’s concern over the definition of a church ministry but stressed that “the Administration’s proposal maintains its inaccurate distinction among religious ministries.
“It appears to offer second-class status to our first-class institutions in Catholic health care, Catholic education and Catholic charities. HHS offers what it calls an ‘accommodation’ rather than accepting the fact that these ministries are integral to our church and worthy of the same exemption as our Catholic churches.”
Cardinal Dolan highlighted problems with the proposed “accommodation.”
“It appears that the government would require all employees in our ‘accommodated’ ministries to have the illicit coverage—they may not opt out, nor even opt out for their children—under a separate policy,” he said.
He also noted that “because of gaps in the proposed regulations, it is still unclear how directly these separate policies would be funded by objecting ministries, and what precise role those ministries would have in arranging for these separate policies. Thus, there remains the possibility that ministries may yet be forced to fund and facilitate such morally illicit activities.”
Cardinal Dolan also said the proposal refuses to acknowledge conscience rights of business owners who operate their businesses according to their faith and moral values.
“In obedience to our Judeo-Christian heritage, we have consistently taught our people to live their lives during the week to reflect the same beliefs that they proclaim on the Sabbath,” Cardinal Dolan said. “We cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally well-informed consciences.”
The statement is attached.
Keywords: Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Health and Human Services, Patient Protection and Affordable care Act, PPACA, Catholic, contraceptives, Ella, sterilization
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Statement of Cardinal Timothy Dolan Responding to Feb. 1 Proposal from HHS
For almost a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have worked hard to support the right of every person to affordable, accessible, comprehensive, life-affirming healthcare.As we continue to do so, our changeless values remain the same.We promote the protection of the dignity of all human life and the innate rights that flow from it, including the right to life from conception to natural death; care for the poorest among us and the undocumented; the right of the Church to define itself, its ministries, and its ministers; and freedom of conscience.
Last Friday, the Administration issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the HHS mandate that requires coverage for sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortions.The Administration indicates that it has heard some previously expressed concerns and that it is open to dialogue.With release of the NPRM, the Administration seeks to offer a response to serious matters which have been raised throughout the past year.We look forward to engaging with the Administration, and all branches and levels of government, to continue to address serious issues that remain. Our efforts will require additional, careful study.Only in this way can we best assure that healthcare for every woman, man and child is achieved without harm to our first, most cherished freedom.
In evaluating Friday’s action regarding the HHS mandate, our reference remains the statement of our Administrative Committee made last March, United for Religious Freedom, and affirmed by the entire body of bishops in June 2012.
In that statement, we first expressed concern over the mandate’s “exceedingly narrow” four-part definition of “religious employer,” one that exempted our houses of worship, but left “our great ministries of service to our neighbors, namely, the poor, the homeless, the sick, the students in our schools and universities, and others in need” subject to the mandate.This created “a ‘second class’ of citizenship within our religious community,” “weakening [federal law’s] healthy tradition of generous respect for religious freedom and diversity.”And the exemption effectuated this distinction by requiring “among other things, [that employers] must hire and serve primarily those of their own faith.”
On Friday, the Administration proposed to drop the first three parts of the four-part test.This might address the last of the concerns above, but it seems not to address the rest.The Administration’s proposal maintains its inaccurate distinction among religious ministries. It appears to offer second-class status to our first-class institutions in Catholic health care, Catholic education, and Catholic charities. HHS offers what it calls an “accommodation,” rather than accepting the fact that these ministries are integral to our Church and worthy of the same exemption as our Catholic churches. And finally, it seems to take away something that we had previously—the ability of an exempt employer (such as a diocese) to extend its coverage to the employees of a ministry outside the exemption.
Second, United for Religious Freedom explained that the religious ministries not deemed “religious employers” would suffer the severe consequence of “be[ing] forced by government to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions.”After Friday, it appears that the government would require all employees in our “accommodated” ministries to have the illicit coverage—they may not opt out, nor even opt out for their children—under a separate policy.In part because of gaps in the proposed regulations, it is still unclear how directly these separate policies would be funded by objecting ministries, and what precise role those ministries would have in arranging for these separate policies.Thus, there remains the possibility that ministries may yet be forced to fund and facilitate such morally illicit activities. Here, too, we will continue to analyze the proposal and to advocate for changes to the final rule that reflect these concerns.
Third, the bishops explained that the “HHS mandate creates still a third class, those with no conscience protection at all:individuals who, in their daily lives, strive constantly to act in accordance with their faith and moral values.”This includes employers sponsoring and subsidizing the coverage, insurers writing it, and beneficiaries paying individual premiums for it.Friday’s action confirms that HHS has no intention to provide any exemption or accommodation at all to this “third class.”In obedience to our Judeo-Christian heritage, we have consistently taught our people to live their lives during the week to reflect the same beliefs that they proclaim on the Sabbath.We cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally well-informed consciences.
Because the stakes are so high, we will not cease from our effort to assure that healthcare for all does not mean freedom for few.Throughout the past year, we have been assured by the Administration that we will not have to refer, pay for, or negotiate for the mandated coverage.We remain eager for the Administration to fulfill that pledge and to find acceptable solutions—we will affirm any genuine progress that is made, and we will redouble our efforts to overcome obstacles or setbacks.Thus, we welcome and will take seriously the Administration’s invitation to submit our concerns through formal comments, and we will do so in the hope that an acceptable solution can be found that respects the consciences of all.At the same time, we will continue to stand united with brother bishops, religious institutions, and individual citizens who seek redress in the courts for as long as this is necessary.
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WASHINGTON—In response to today’s release of revised regulations for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, provided the following statement on behalf of the USCCB.
“Today, the Administration issued proposed regulations regarding the HHS mandate. We welcome the opportunity to study the proposed regulations closely. We look forward to issuing a more detailed statement later.”
With unanimous approval both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (HR 21) and Senate (SR 10) passed resolutions designating January 27 – February 1, 2013, as Catholic Schools Week to express congratulations and appreciation to Catholic elementary and secondary schools across this Commonwealth. Both resolutions acknowledged the valuable contribution Catholic schools make to our communities:
Over 10,000 pilgrims, many of them youth from schools around the nation, are expected to gather in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to pray for an end to abortion at the Opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life, Thursday, January 24, at 6:30 p.m., the eve of the annual March for Life. The vigil coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision on January 22, 1973, which legalized abortion nationwide. Since the decision was handed down, an estimated 55 million abortions have been legally performed in the United States.
In a recent column, Richard Doerflinger of the USCCB writes about an updcoming postcard campaign,
“Soon parishes throughout the country will distribute postcards to help Catholics communicate with their elected representatives in Congress. This Project Life and Liberty campaign will encourage Congress to make sure that taxpayers are not forced to subsidize abortion, and that Catholic (and other) individuals and institutions are not forced to violate their moral and religious convictions when they provide or purchase health care.
The bishops of the United States have seen a need to sponsor this kind of campaign in times of urgent necessity before. Events provoking this campaign include a federal mandate forcing even many Catholic institutions to include female sterilization as well as contraceptive and abortifacient drugs and devices in their health plans, and new trends that force Catholic agencies and health care professionals to either stop serving the needy, or start violating their conscientious respect for human life.”
On January 22, 1973, in its twin decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the U.S. Supreme Court created a constitutional right to abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. These decisions have been widely criticized on historical, scientific, and legal grounds. Scholar John Hart Ely said of Roe: “It is bad because it is bad constitutional law, or rather because it is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.” (“The Wages of Crying Wolf,” Yale Law Journal 1973)
Do you know what the Court did in Roe and Doe and why these fundamentally erroneous decisions must be corrected?
Learn more at endroe.org.
According to a recent report from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 36,280 lives were lost in our Commonwealth because of abortion in 2011. It is a sobering number– we’ve legally allowed 36,280 citizens to be killed, and 36,280 mothers are left with an irreversible scar.
If the numbers from the Department of Health are looked at further, we can find an even more telling statistic. There were 139,542 births and 36,280 abortions in Pennsylvania in 2011. That means that over 20% percent of pregnancies in Pennsylvania ended in abortion.
We would decry any other health condition that had a 20% death rate. But in Pennsylvania, being conceived carries with it a 20% mortality rate.
Further, nearly 1 in 3 women in America will have an abortion by age 45 (Source: Guttmacher Institute). These women have faced the most difficult, unimaginable decision and instead of meeting them with love and support so that they might choose life, our society tells them that violence towards their children is the answer to the problem.
Certainly, there are signs of hope: the numbers released by the Department of Health show a slight decrease in abortions over the previous year (1.4%, or 498, more abortions were performed the prior year). The current number is also a 44.8% decrease from the highest annual number of abortions – 65,777 in 1980 – ever recorded.
But these numbers should serve as a call to action. There are several ways pro-life Pennsylvanians can work to promote a culture of life in our Commonwealth. You can reach out to your local pro-life office to see how you can help women in need in your area. You can click here to send a message in support of pro life legislation and sign up to become a member of the Catholic Advocacy Network. Legislators need to hear from their pro-life constituents.
Later this month, thousands of Pennsylvanians will travel to Washington DC to participate in the annual March for Life. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and many parishes and dioceses organize bus transportation for interested parishioners.
Accepting that 20% of the pregnancies in our state end in abortion or that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by age 45 impacts not only the mother and the child. Mother Teresa reminds us of this, “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
Joelle Shea is the Director of Outreach for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference – the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania.
National Migration Week will be observed in dioceses around the country January 6-12. This year’s theme, “We are Strangers No Longer: Our Journey of Hope Continues,” includes a postcard campaign that calls for comprehensive immigration reform.
As part of this year’s National Migration Week celebration the USCCB Migration and Refugee Services will launch a postcard campaign that calls on Congress to pass fair and comprehensive immigration reform that would:
1. Provide a path to citizenship for undocumented persons in the country.
2. Preserve family unity as a cornerstone of our national immigration system.
3. Provide legal paths for low-skilled immigrant workers to come and work in the United States.
4. Restore due process protections to immigration enforcement policies.
5. Address the root causes of migration caused by persecution and economic disparity.
Catholics are also urged to support this campaign.