Ascension Catholic Church

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Florist faces second lawsuit over gay wedding refusal

Seattle, Wash., Apr 23, 2013 / 02:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A florist in Washington is being sued for a second time after choosing not to provide flower arrangements for a gay customer's upcoming wedding.  

Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene's Flowers in Richland now faces two lawsuits, one from the Washington state Attorney General and another from the American Civil Liberties Union, for turning away business for a same-sex couple’s wedding.

When frequent customer Curt Freed approached Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene's Flowers last month to provide arrangements for his September wedding ceremony to Rob Ingersoll, the florist said she could not provide services due to her religious beliefs.

On the company's Facebook page, Stutzman described the incident after many receiving comments, saying she explained her position to the customer who said he respected her opinion.

She said that “because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,” she could not comply with his request to do floral arrangements for his wedding. It is her deeply-held conviction that marriage is between a man and a woman, she wrote in the post.

Stutzman recalled that the two hugged and Freed left the store.

It was not until after the couple relayed the story to their friends who were “livid” with the florist’s decision and posted about it on Facebook, according to a Seattle Times story, that they began to receive attention from the local media, and eventually the state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

After he learned of the incident Ferguson sent a letter to Stutzman “requesting she reconsider her position and sign an agreement indicating her intention to comply with Washington laws.”

When Stutzman’s attorneys responded saying that she would challenge any action to enforce the state’s anti-discrimination law, the Attorney General filed a consumer protection lawsuit against the florist who has been serving the area for the past 37 years.

In it, the state seeks a fine of $2,000 and has issued a court-order requiring Stutzman to comply with state law.

“Under the Consumer Protection Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation,” Ferguson said in a statement on April 9.

“If a business provides a product or service to opposite-sex couples for their weddings, then it must provide same-sex couples the same product or service.”

Now Stutzman faces a second lawsuit as the American Civil Liberty Union filed one April 18 on behalf of Freed and Ingersoll.

“When a business serves the general public, the business owner’s religious beliefs may not be used to justify discrimination,” ACLU of Washington legal director Sarah Dunne said in a statement.

The ACLU lawsuit seeks a court order “barring the florist from discriminating against customers on the basis of sexual orientation” as well as damages “for the violation of the couple’s rights.”

Attorney Justin Bristol, who is representing the florist, argues that these cases are violating his client’s constitutional rights to freedom of speech, expression and religion.

Although Stutzman holds religious beliefs that do not validate same-sex marriage, enforcement of this law would force her “to express assent” for the issue.

“Can the state require a painter to paint a portrait of a gay couple? Could the state require a musician to write a song?” Bristol asked, according to the Associated Press. “Can the government compel them to say something they don't want to say? It violates the First Amendment.”

“It's not a public accommodation case,” he said. “She simply doesn't believe in gay marriage. She believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.”

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Bishops cautiously hopeful on immigration plan

Washington D.C., Apr 22, 2013 / 05:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Prominent U.S. bishops have expressed support for the immigration reform bill recently introduced in the Senate, although they noted that it still has room for improvement.

“We bishops are grateful for the brave senators who have introduced this bipartisan legislation,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York during a conference call April 22.

“We admire their leadership and courage in moving the issue forward, and in the name of my brother bishops I've assured them we look forward to working with them to achieve the fairest legislation possible.”

An immigration reform bill was introduced April 17 by a “Gang of Eight” senators who have been working to strike a deal between those who want to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and those who want to focus on securing the U.S. border.

If the legislation is passed, it will offer a 13-year path to citizenship to immigrants who are already in the country illegally. These immigrants will be required to pass background checks, be fingerprinted, pay fines and taxes, and prove gainful employment.

The bill would also institute other changes, including a wider pool of visas for migrant workers.

However, no undocumented immigrants can apply for temporary status until certain border security “triggers” are in place. These triggers include a border fence plan, employment verification and visa exit system to ensure immigrants cannot overstay their visa allowance.

Cardinal Dolan was joined on the call by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, and Kevin Appleby, director of the migration policy office of the U.S. bishops' conference.

The Church in the U.S. is an “icon” of the country's immigrant composition, Cardinal Dolan noted. He went on to tout the Church as “one of the most effective tools of Americanization in its best sense” and praised it for helping to “integrate newcomers into the social fabric of our nation for well over two centuries.”

The principles for just immigration reform, the cardinal said, include citizenship for a maximum number of persons in a reasonable amount of time, that families remain together, and that poor and low-skilled workers can enter the country “legally and safely to support their family.”

Vulnerable populations, such as refugees and migrant children, must receive protection, the root economic and social causes of immigration need to be addressed in foreign policy, and the integrity of American borders must be assured, he added.

Cardinal Dolan urged an end to the “broken, unjust and unfair” immigration system that is in place, noting that untold numbers of families are being divided and that “these are human beings made in God's image and likeness, and redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, and we moral leaders can't just stand by and let that happen.”

Archbishop Gomez, while noting that the bill “does some positive things for families,” said the bishops want to see it “improved and advanced” into law.

Among the concerns he raised were strict eligibility requirements and obstacles, which will “leave many behind” in the path to citizenship. Rather than the 13-year path currently in the bill, he hopes for a period of no more than 10 years.

He also called for the possibility of citizenship to be extended to those who came to the U.S. after the bill’s Dec. 31, 2011 cut-off date, and advocated a reduction in the fees and penalties that must be paid, “so that also poor migrants and their families can attain citizenship.”

“If the goal is to solve the problem in a humane manner, then all undocumented persons should be able to participate,” concluded Archbishop Gomez.

Bishop Wester emphasized that immigration reform must be comprehensive, pointing out that enforcement-only policies “don't work, if they aren't complemented by human policies.” The focus on enforcement, he said, has failed to stem the tide of immigration.

A comprehensive approach, as outlined in the new Senate bill, “would increase legal avenues for migrants to enter our nation safely and securely,” he observed.

However, he also expressed concern over the border security “triggers.” It would be “best to de-link these triggers from the other elements of the bill,” he said, and all elements should be implemented “simultaneously,” for the sake and safety of American immigrants.

Bishop Wester noted that immigration is not merely a political issue, but a “human and moral” one. He hopes for the bill's debate to be characterized by “civil and respectful” dialogue.

“Too often we hear human beings being referred to with pejorative terms and being de-humanized and demonized in the rhetoric of the debate, and it's important for us to be careful to remember that we're talking about human beings,” he said.

Cardinal Dolan added that while the bishops are often caricatured as opposing any type of immigration control, Catholic teaching has constantly affirmed the right to national security. However, he said, building higher fences with more barbed wire is not going to change the reality of immigration and is “counter-productive.”

Rather than focusing on physical obstacles, border security could be more effectively achieved by spending a fraction of that money improving the economies of Latin American countries, he suggested.

“If there were family unification,” he added, “and a legitimate, just, and expedited path to citizenship, we wouldn't have so many people trying to sneak through the desert and trying to dodge the walls.”

Catholics should be quick to support “fair immigration reform,” the cardinal continued, because any Catholic family need go back only a few generations to “find an immigrant that came over.”

Appleby estimated that the process of approving the immigration reform bill could stretch into the end of summer of autumn. He expects that it should be out of committee by the end of May and debated on the Senate floor in June, and from there be passed on to the House. The group noted hopefully the political expediency of passing the bill, given the impact of the Latino electorate in last year's elections.

“We're hopeful but not naïve, and we have a long fight ahead of us,” Cardinal Dolan concluded.

“We've got a few complaints about the current legislation, as thrilled as we are about it as a sign of progress, but we know that even that is going to have a tough time getting through.”

Despite the bill's flaws, he re-iterated that the bishops “are on board with this one.”

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Peruvian lawmaker praised for rejecting contraception plan

Lima, Peru, Apr 22, 2013 / 04:07 pm (CNA).- The president of Peru’s congressional Committee on Women and the Family has reaffirmed her commitment to resisting pressure from abortion and contraception advocacy groups.

During a committee hearing on April 17, Aurelia Tan de Inafuko promised to continue efforts to respect life in the country, while rejecting calls to distribute contraception to minors without parental notification. 

Carlos Polo, director of the Population Research Institute’s Office for Latin America praised Congresswoman Inafuko for the “courageous” statement.

In statements to CNA, Polo warned that committee hearings are typically “one of the strategic places for pro-abortion organizations to triumph.”

He revealed that a close advisor to Congresswoman Inafuko said she has “rejected the ‘aid’ that UNICEF, Promsex and other pro-abortion organizations have always offered to her predecessors.”

This move, along with her public statements, are important to help push back against organizations in Peru that are seeking to change the law in order to allow minor children to receive contraceptives without parental consent, he said.

Such groups are also pushing for abortion legalization in some cases, although such proposals have been rejected by Peruvian government officials and congressional representatives.  

Polo voiced gratitude to the congresswoman for refusing to “bow to any pressure.”

He also laid out arguments for why the U.N. Human Rights Commission’s “recommendations” to legalize abortion in Peru and distribute contraceptives to students should be dismissed.

The recommendation does not reflect the official stance of the United Nations, he advised, because the human rights commission is an independent organ whose members exercise their functions in their own name.

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Franciscan University names Fr. Sean Sheridan as president

Steubenville, Ohio, Apr 22, 2013 / 01:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio has named as its next president theology professor and canon lawyer Father Sean O. Sheridan.

“I am honored to serve as the next president of Franciscan University,” Fr. Sheridan said April 19.

“It is inspiring and truly humbling for me to be here at Franciscan University with the students who are pouring their hearts into their education and their prayer life, falling in love with God and the Church, and striving to become saints.”

Fr. Nicholas Polichnowski, TOR, chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, said Fr. Sheridan brings to the university “an excellent blend of academic, pastoral, legal and business experience.”

He praised the next president’s “strong care and concern” for the university’s mission.

The private Catholic university serves 2,400 undergraduate and graduate students in Ohio. It has had five previous presidents since its founding in 1946.

Fr. Sheridan is a native of Cresson, Pa., a small borough 75 miles east of Pittsburgh. He served on Franciscan University’s Board of Trustees from 2007-2012. He also worked on the student Life Committee and chaired the Academic Affairs Committee from 2011-2012.

The priest joined Franciscan University’s theology department in fall 2012, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses.

He has served at Franciscan University summer conferences and has had parish ministerial duties and has served in hospital and campus ministry and in residence hall chaplaincy.

Fr. Sheridan worked in several careers before entering the Franciscan Third Order Regular. He received a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 1985 and a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1990.

He spent a decade practicing law in Sacramento and Pittsburgh, with a focus on healthcare litigation representing hospitals and physicians.

Fr. Sheridan joined the Franciscans in 2000 and made his solemn profession in 2005 and was ordained a priest in December 2006. Soon after, he graduated from Washington Theological Union with a master in divinity.

He received a doctorate in canon law from the Catholic University of America School of Canon Law in 2009. His dissertation was a canonical commentary on John Paul II’s 1990 apostolic constitution “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” which deals with the role of the Catholic university in the Church’s mission. Fr. Sheridan then became an assistant professor in canon law at Catholic University.

He has also served on the editorial board and as book review editor for the canon law journal The Jurist.

He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pa. and has been a canonical consultant to religious communities and Catholic universities. He has also served as a judge on the tribunal of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

Fr. Sheridan will succeed Fr. Terence Henry, TOR. He said his predecessor helped grow the university and increase its reputation for “excellent academics and faithful Catholicism.”

“I will build on that strong foundation, always with a view to serving the Church and the new evangelization,” Fr. Sheridan said.

Fr. Henry will stay at Franciscan University to help Fr. Sheridan’s transition. He said he has “the utmost respect” for his successor.

“I’m happy to be leaving the University to his leadership, and I am certain he will continue to raise the bar of excellence,” Fr. Henry said.

Fr. Sheridan will take over as president on June 1. His formal installation will take place at the university’s inauguration ceremony on Oct. 10.

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St. George's feast becomes Vatican holiday this year

Vatican City, Apr 22, 2013 / 01:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- St. George's feast day falling on April 23 means Vatican employees will have the day off to celebrate the saint their boss, Pope Francis, is named after.

But the Holy Father, formerly known as Cardinal Jorge (George) Bergoglio, will continue with his practice of presiding over daily Mass.

Instead of holding it at Saint Martha’s as he has been since being elected Pope, the Eucharistic celebration will take place at the Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace, alongside the cardinals who live in Rome.

Under Pope Benedict XVI, the Solemnity of St. Joseph was a Vatican holiday, since his baptismal name is Joseph Ratzinger.

Pope Francis will celebrate the feast of Saint George, a martyr who lived around the year 300 in what is now Turkey.

St. George, the patron saint of England, was a soldier in the army of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

Diocletian beheaded him in Palestine for protesting against the Emperor's persecution of Christians and refusing to take part.

Christians rapidly began venerating the saint for his bravery in protecting the poor, the defenseless and Christians.

His banner, the red cross of a martyr on a white background, was adopted for the uniform of English soldiers and later became the flag of England.

St. George’s fame grew after James of Voragine published a book in 1265 called “Legenda Sanctorum,” which later became known as the “Legenda Aurea” (The Golden Legend).

The medieval legend goes that he slew a dragon and rescued an innocent maiden from death.

The Church now commemorates St. George, and although his existence is certain, little is known about him.

It is believed that he was killed in 303 on April 23, the day his feast is now observed on.

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Mistaken obituary labels George Soros as 'predatory' billionaire

Denver, Colo., Apr 22, 2013 / 12:07 pm (CNA).- A mistakenly-published article erroneously announcing the death of George Soros described the atheist billionaire as a successful “Hungarian-American financier” who has donated huge sums of money to liberal causes.

“George Soros, who died XXX at age XXX, was a predatory and hugely successful financier and investor, who argued paradoxically for years against the same sort of free-wheeling capitalism that made him billions,” said the article, written by Reuters.

The April 18 article was a pre-written obituary, with X’s for dates and ages that would need to be filled in before the story ran. It was published mistakenly, as Soros is still alive.

Reuters quickly removed the story and issued an apology, explaining that it had been published in error.

Born in Hungary, Soros emigrated to Great Britain and eventually became one of richest men in the world. He is a well-known liberal philanthropist and has been associated with groups that have drawn criticism for undermining Church teaching.

The Reuters article said Soros is known as “the man who broke the Bank of England” for “selling short the British pound in 1992,” a move that devalued the pound while earning him more than $1 billion.

It also noted that he was “widely blamed for helping trigger the Asian financial crisis of 1997, by selling short” certain Asian currencies. Soros has called this charge “a wholly unfounded accusation.”

The article also acknowledged the controversy that surrounded Soros, calling him “an enigma, wrapped in intellect, contradiction and money.”

Soros was convicted on charges of insider trading – which he denied – but was required to pay only a small penalty, the obituary observed.

It also noted his donations to legalize marijuana and his vocal support of assisted suicide, which he offered to help his own mother commit.

Through the Open Society Institute and the Soros Foundations, both of which he founded, Soros has pumped billions of dollars into liberal causes. In addition to promoting more open societies in emerging nations, the financier has promoted various progressive causes in the United States. Some of these endeavors have been labeled as contentious and anti-Catholic by those who oppose them.

“In a bid to stop Bush's re-election, Soros donated $23.5 million to more than 500 liberal and progressive groups during the 2003-2004 U.S. election cycle,” Reuters explained.

Tax records show that the Open Society Institute gave at least $150,000 to Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a group that has been accused by both lay and bishop leaders of misleading Catholics about the natural priorities of the Church’s social teaching.

Through the Open Society Institute, Soros has also funded Faith in Public Life, a group that was criticized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last summer after it sent a memo to media groups with instructions on how to trap the Church with questions about the bishops’ allegedly false religious freedom concerns.

In recent years, several charges have also been made regarding a connection between Soros and Catholics United, an organization that has sparked controversy numerous times over accusations of left-leaning political activism rather than a true representation of Church teachings. Catholics United has denied any connection with Soros.

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No room for self-promoters in God's kingdom, Pope says

Vatican City, Apr 22, 2013 / 10:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis warned that some people, even in the Church, are “social climbers” that try to promote themselves, instead of seeking to glorify Christ.

“These social climbers exist even in the Christian communities, no? Those people who are looking out for themselves ... and consciously or unconsciously pretend to enter but are thieves and robbers,” he said at an April 22 Mass for Vatican press office and Vatican Radio employees.
 
“Why? Why steal the glory from Jesus? They want glory for themselves and this is what (Jesus) said to the Pharisees: ‘You seek for each other's approval,’” the Pope responded.
 
The result of this approach is that the faith becomes “something of a ‘commercial’ religion,” he reflected.
 
“I give glory to you and you give glory to me. But these people did not enter through the true gate. The (true) gate is Jesus and those who do not enter by this gate are mistaken.”
 
Christians can know which way or gate is Jesus’ by looking for the marks of the Beatitudes, he said.

There are many paths that we can follow, he explained, some perhaps more advantageous than others in getting ahead, but they are “misleading, they are not real; they are false. The only path is Jesus. "

"Some of you may say, 'Father, you're a fundamentalist!'” Pope Francis recalled.
 
“No, simply put, this is what Jesus said: 'I am the gate,' 'I am the path.’ … It is a beautiful gate, a gate of love, it is a gate that does not deceive, it is not false. It always tells the truth, but with tenderness and love.”
 
But, he noted, “we still have … the source of original sin within us, is not it so? We still desire to possess the key to interpreting everything, the key and the power to find our own path, whatever it is, to find our own gate, whatever it is.”

"And this is the temptation to look for other gates or other windows to enter the Kingdom of God.

We can only enter by the gate whose name is Jesus,” he emphasized, reminding the congregation that any other path of entering is for 'thieves and robbers.'
 
“He is simple, the Lord. His words are not complex. He is simple.”

Pope Francis concluded by encouraging every to ask for “the grace to always knock on that gate.”

“Sometimes it's closed: we are sad, we feel desolation, we have problems with knocking, with knocking at that gate. Do not go looking for other gates that seem easier, more comfortable, more at hand. Always the same one: Jesus. Jesus never disappoints, Jesus does not deceive, Jesus is not a thief, not a robber. He gave his life for me. Each of us must say this: ‘And you who gave your life for me, please, open, that I may enter.’”

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Being Christian means risking following Jesus, Pope teaches

Vatican City, Apr 22, 2013 / 04:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Lukewarm Christian try to build a church that conforms to their own common sense and see too much risk in following Jesus, Pope Francis preached.
 
“They are Christians of good sense only: they keep their distance. Christians, so to speak, who are ‘satellites,’ that have a church small in size: to quote the words of Jesus in Revelation, ‘lukewarm Christians,’” the Pope said at the April 20 morning Mass in the chapel of St. Martha’s residence.  
 
“They walk only in the presence of common sense, common sense ... that worldly prudence: this is a temptation (to use) just worldly prudence,” he added.
 
He delivered his homily on the Gospel reading from John 6 in which Jesus declares that unless believers eat his flesh and drink his blood they will not have eternal life. Participants in the Mass included volunteers from the Vatican’s St. Martha pediatric dispensary, along with the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent De Paul who run the outreach.
 
"These people have turned away, they are gone, they say, 'this man is a bit strange, he says things that are hard,’” the Pope said referring to the Gospel reading.
 
“‘It's too big a risk to go down this road. We have common sense, eh? Let's go back a little and not (be) so close to him.’ These people, perhaps, had a certain admiration for Jesus, but a little from afar: ‘not to meddle too much with this man, because he says things that are a bit strange,’” the Pope summarized.
 
But “these Christians are not united in the Church, they do not walk in God's presence, they don’t have the security of the Holy Spirit, they do not make up the Church,” he stated, describing them as “Christian satellites.”  
 
Today, the Pope noted, there are so many Christians who “bear witness to the name of Jesus, even unto martyrdom.”
 
And these believers are not ‘Christian satellites,’ because “they go with Jesus on the path of Jesus,” the Holy Father said.
 
Reflecting on the first reading that described the life of the early Christians, Pope Francis pointed out that the first believers went through a period of persecution, it walked and grew “in the fear of the Lord and with the comfort of the Holy Spirit.”
 
"It is a style of the Church. To walk in the fear of the Lord is a sense of adoration, the presence of God, no? The Church walks and so when we are in the presence of God we do not do bad things or make bad decisions,” he commented.
 
And being “in God’s sight with joy and happiness: this is the security of the Holy Spirit, that is the gift that the Lord has given us - this comfort - that keeps us going,” the Pope preached.
 
“Let us pray for the Church,” he said, that it “will continue to grow, unite, to walk in the fear of God and with the security of the Holy Spirit.
 
“May the Lord deliver us from the temptation of that ‘common sense,’ and in inverted commas, the temptation to whisper against Jesus, ‘because it is too demanding,’ and from the temptation of scandal.”
 

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Catholic agency hopes for lasting food aid reform

Baltimore, Md., Apr 21, 2013 / 04:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic Relief Services is supportive of a proposal to make changes in the way that government food aid is delivered internationally, provided that it has long-term provisions that will not be subject to annual budget debates.

Recently, the Obama administration proposed shifting the model for international food aid. Under the current model, money is used to purchase food produced in the U.S. and ship it overseas. The new proposal would rely more heavily on purchasing food locally in impoverished and disaster-stricken nations.

“This set of reforms offers a great deal of flexibility and ways to make food programming more efficient and to enable us to use our local purchase mechanism to support the local farmer and the household which needs food,” said Lisa Kuennen-Asfaw, Catholic Relief Service's public donor group director.

“But the concern we are raising is that there's got to be an authorizing framework in place to make sure that it's a consistent program available year upon year....that the vehicle for this funding stays in place,” she told CNA on April 18.

The president's recent budget proposal suggests shifting funds from the Food for Peace Act to USAID, a government agency responsible for administering foreign aid. This would allow greater freedom in how the funds are utilized than at present.

A 2011 USAID report estimated that cash-based programs such as local purchasing could save 25-50 percent in food aid costs, and do so much more quickly.

“Buying food locally, instead of in the United States, costs much less,” Rajiv Shah, director of USAID, said at an April 10 meeting of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “That’s because the average prices of buying and delivering American food across an ocean has increased from $390 per metric ton in 2001 to $1,180 today.”

“We agree with the goals of the president's proposal,” said Kuennen-Asfaw. “We've been working for quite a few of these reforms over a long period of time, and we feel that the reforms being proposed would be very helpful as long as they are enshrined in some sort of a legislative authorizing mechanism.”

Without an authorizing framework giving “substantial long-term support to those programs,” she explained, the proposal would be “subject to the whims of every single budget year.”

“Presidential initiatives come and go, and support for specific budget lines may come and go. But the needs of the poor and vulnerable are ongoing.”

Catholic Relief Services says the flexibility of the new proposal is of the utmost importance. The kind of aid that will be most helpful in any particular situation is “very context-specific” and shouldn't be hampered by red tape.

The Catholic agency provides food aid using both food procured in the U.S. and local purchase programs.

Currently, much of U.S. government food aid is done by purchasing food from American producers and paying to have it shipped internationally. That system is perceived to be grossly inefficient in many sectors.

“Where there is the appropriate food available in the local market, it supports local agriculture and processing,” explained Kuennen-Asfaw. “The whole value chain for local development can be supported by providing cash instead of bringing food in.”

But when there isn't sufficient food available, as in an acute crisis situation, it can be better to avoid large-scale local purchasing lest aid agencies push food prices “above the reach of those who previously were able to afford it,” she remarked.

Typically, though, “we would be able to incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables and perhaps some animal proteins with a local purchase program, whereas it’s hard to do that kind of thing when we have something procured in the U.S. and shipped around the world,” said Kuennen-Asfaw.

“We would be able to utilize foods appropriate for local tastes and consumption habits, so when we build our nutrition messages around the program, we're talking about things people use on a daily basis instead of something foreign. So it's those kinds of considerations that have encouraged us … to procure food locally, where it's appropriate and feasible for us to do so.”

Catholic Relief Services makes a point of doing market analysis before and during food aid interventions, to protect against doing harm to local agricultural economies.

When doing food purchasing programs, the organization can provide vouchers to needy families so that they can purchase food from vendors whose food safety and quality has been verified.

Obama's proposal is supported by the head of USAID, but it has met with resistance on Capitol Hill. Both the shipping and domestic agricultural industries benefit from the Food for Peace Act.

To allay the fears of those groups, the proposal ensures that at least 55 percent of funding for emergency food assistance will continue to be used for providing goods produced in the U.S.

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Minister with constant joy, Pope Francis counsels new priests

Vatican City, Apr 21, 2013 / 07:48 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis ordained 10 men as priests this morning, reminding them that they should carry out their ministry with “constant joy and genuine love.”

“Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ. You are pastors, not functionaries. Be mediators, not intermediaries,” the Pope told the newly ordained.

The Mass of Ordination began at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica, and the crowd was large enough that it spilled out into the square where the crowd followed along on large screen TVs.

The ceremony fell on the 50th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which was first instituted by Pope Paul VI.

The men who were ordained came from Rome’s Major Seminary, the diocesan college Redemptoris Mater and the seminary of the Oblates of Divine Love.

Pope Francis’ homily based on the one found in the Italian edition of the Pontificale Romano, with a few personal additions. He was joined in celebrating the ceremony by the Vicar General of Rome Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Bishop Filippo Iannone, the diocese’s auxiliary bishops, and the rectors of the various seminaries.?

An English translation of the Pope’s homily follows:


Beloved brothers and sisters: because these our sons, who are your relatives and friends, are now to be advanced to the Order of priests, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which they are about to be raised.

It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ. Nevertheless, our great Priest himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in his name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church. For Christ was sent by the Father and he in turn sent the Apostles into the world, so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Indeed, priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.

After mature deliberation and prayer, these, our brothers, are now to be ordained to the priesthood in the Order of the presbyterate so as to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and
Shepherd, by whose ministry his body, that is, the Church, is built and grows into the people of God, a holy temple.

In being configured to Christ the eternal High Priest and joined to the priesthood of the Bishops, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord’s sacrifice.

Now, my dear brothers and sons, you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy. Remember your mothers, your grandmothers, your catechists, who gave you the word of God, the faith ... the gift of faith! They transmitted to you this gift of faith. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practice what you teach. Remember too that the word of God is not your property: it is the word of God. And the Church is the custodian of the word of God.

In this way, let what you teach be nourishment for the people of God. Let the holiness of your lives be a delightful fragrance to Christ’s faithful, so that by word and example you may build up the house which is God’s Church.

Likewise you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar, in union with the faithful, in the celebration of the sacraments. Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate. As celebrants of the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your members is sinful and to walk in newness of life.

You will gather others into the people of God through Baptism, and you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance. Today I ask you in the name of Christ and the Church, never tire of being merciful. You will comfort the sick and the elderly with holy oil: do not hesitate to show tenderness towards the elderly. When you celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the world—remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ. You are pastors, not functionaries. Be mediators, not intermediaries.

Finally, dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.
 

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