Saturday, February 1, 2020

#BreakingNews 1 of the Kidnapped Seminarians Killed and the other 3 Seminarians Released - RIP Br. Nnadi Michael in Nigeria

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria sent out a message on their Facebook page. They indicated that 1 of the 4 seminarians who were kidnapped was killed but the other 3 were released. Below is the Full Text:
This is to inform all our friends and well wishers that the remaining abducted Seminarian has been Found dead. Thank you very much for your prayerful support. Let us keep praying for Nigeria in Great Distress. Please let us remain faithful in the Risen Lord. May the soul of our Brother Nnadi Michael and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace with the Lord. Amen. Rev. Fr. Dr. Joel Usman. Registrar. Good Shepherd Major Seminary, Kaduna, Nigeria.
On January 31, 2020 they released this message indicating that 3 of the seminarians had been found:

With joy the Formators, Staff and Seminarians of Good Shepherd Major Seminary, Kaduna, Kaduna State, announce the safe release of 3 of our Seminarians by their captors. One is still at large. We thank you our brothers and sisters for your prayers in our travails. Kindly continue to pray for the remaining one and all those who are still in the hands of Kidnappers. Thanks and may God bless you all.

Feast February 2 : Presentation of Child Jesus in the Temple - #Candlemas

Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. or Purification of the Blessed Virgin (Greek Hypapante), Observed 2 February in the Latin Rite.
According to the Mosaic law a mother who had given birth to a man-child was considered unclean for seven days; moreover she was to remain three and thirty days "in the blood of her purification"; for a maid-child the time which excluded the mother from sanctuary was even doubled. When the time (forty or eighty days) was over the mother was to "bring to the temple a lamb for a holocaust and a young pigeon or turtle dove for sin"; if she was not able to offer a lamb, she was to take two turtle doves or two pigeons; the priest prayed for her and so she was cleansed. (Leviticus 12:2-8)
Forty days after the birth of Christ Mary complied with this precept of the law, she redeemed her first-born from the temple (Numbers 18:15), and was purified by the prayer of Simeon the just, in the presence of Anna the prophetess (Luke 2:22 sqq.). No doubt this event, the first solemn introduction of Christ into the house of God, was in the earliest times celebrated in the Church of Jerusalem. We find it attested for the first half of the fourth century by the pilgrim of Bordeaux, Egeria or Silvia. The day (14 February) was solemnly kept by a procession to the Constantinian basilica of the Resurrection, a homily on Luke 2:22 sqq., and the Holy Sacrifice. But the feast then had no proper name; it was simply called the fortieth day after Epiphany. This latter circumstance proves that in Jerusalem Epiphany was then the feast of Christ's birth.
SEE ALSO: Novena for the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple with Plenary Indulgence -
 From Jerusalem the feast of the fortieth day spread over the entire Church and later on was kept on the 2nd of February, since within the last twenty-five years of the fourth century the Roman feast of Christ's nativity (25 December) was introduced. In Antioch it is attested in 526 (Cedrenus); in the entire Eastern Empire it was introduced by the Emperor Justinian I (542) in thanksgiving for the cessation of the great pestilence which had depopulated the city of Constantinople. In the Greek Church it was called Hypapante tou Kyriou, the meeting (occursus) of the Lord and His mother with Simeon and Anna. The Armenians call it: "The Coming of the Son of God into the Temple" and still keep it on the 14th of February (Tondini di Quaracchi, Calendrier de la Nation Arménienne, 1906, 48); the Copts term it "presentation of the Lord in the Temple" (Nilles, Kal. man., II 571, 643). Perhaps the decree of Justinian gave occasion also to the Roman Church (to Gregory I?) to introduce this feast, but definite information is wanting on this point. The feast appears in the Gelasianum (manuscript tradition of the seventh century) under the new title of Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The procession is not mentioned. Pope Sergius I (687-701) introduced a procession for this day. The Gregorianum (tradition of the eighth century) does not speak of this procession, which fact proves that the procession of Sergius was the ordinary "station", not the liturgical act of today. The feast was certainly not introduced by Pope Gelasius to suppress the excesses of the Lupercalia (Migne, Missale Gothicum, 691), and it spread slowly in the West; it is not found in the "Lectionary" of Silos (650) nor in the "Calendar" (731-741) of Sainte-Geneviève of Paris. In the East it was celebrated as a feast of the Lord; in the West as a feast of Mary; although the "Invitatorium" (Gaude et lætare, Jerusalem, occurrens Deo tuo), the antiphons and responsories remind us of its original conception as a feast of the Lord. The blessing of the candles did not enter into common use before the eleventh century; it has nothing in common with the procession of the Lupercalia. In the Latin Church this feast (Purificatio B.M.V.) is a double of the second class. In the Middle Ages it had an octave in the larger number of dioceses; also today the religious orders whose special object is the veneration of the Mother of God (Carmelites, Servites) and many dioceses (Loreto, the Province of Siena, etc.) celebrate the octave.
Blessing of candles and procession
According to the Roman Missal the celebrant after Terce, in stole and cope of purple colour, standing at the epistle side of the altar, blesses the candles (which must be of beeswax). Having sung or recited the five orations prescribed, he sprinkles and incenses the candles. Then he distributes them to the clergy and laity, whilst the choir sings the canticle of Simeon, "Nunc dimittis". The antiphon "Lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plebis tuæ Israel" is repeated after every verse, according to the medieval custom of singing the antiphons. During the procession which now follows, and at which all the partakers carry lighted candles in their hands, the choir sings the antiphon "Adorna thalamum tuum, Sion", composed by St. John of Damascus, one of the few pieces which, text and music, have been borrowed by the Roman Church from the Greeks. The other antiphons are of Roman origin. The solemn procession represents the entry of Christ, who is the Light of the World, into the Temple of Jerusalem. It forms an essential part of the liturgical services of the day, and must be held in every parochial church where the required ministers can be had. The procession is always kept on 2 February even when the office and Mass of the feast is transferred to 3 February. Before the reform of the Latin liturgy by St. Pius V (1568), in the churches north and west of the Alps this ceremony was more solemn. After the fifth oration a preface was sung. The "Adorna" was preceded by the antiphon "Ave Maria". While now the procession is held inside the church, during the Middle Ages the clergy left the church and visited the cemetery surrounding it. Upon the return of the procession a priest, carrying an image of the Holy Child, met it at the door and entered the church with the clergy, who sang the canticle of Zachary, "Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel". At the conclusion, entering the sanctuary, the choir sang the responsory, "Gaude Maria Virgo" or the prose, "Inviolata" or some other antiphon in honour of the Blessed Virgin. Text from the Catholic Encyclopedia

Pope Francis at Mass says "Those who see things as Jesus does, learn how to live in order to serve." on World Day of Consecrated Life - Full Text


Vatican Basilica
Saturday, 1 February 2020

“My eyes have seen your salvation” (Lk 2:30).  These are the words of Simeon, whom the Gospel presents as a simple man: “righteous and devout”, says the text (v. 25).  But among all at the temple that day, he alone saw Jesus as the Saviour.  What did he see?  A child: a small, vulnerable, simple child.  But in him he saw salvation, for the Holy Spirit allowed him to recognize in that tender newborn “the Lord’s Christ” (v. 26).  Taking him in his arms, he sensed by faith that in him God was bringing his promises to fulfilment.  And that he, Simeon, could now go in peace: he had seen the grace that was worth more than life (cf. Ps 63:4), and there was nothing further to wait for.
You too, dear consecrated brothers and sisters, you are simple men and women who caught sight of the treasure worth more than any worldly good.  And so you left behind precious things, such as possessions, such as making a family for yourselves.  Why did you do this?  Because you fell in love with Jesus, you saw everything in him, and enraptured by his gaze, you left the rest behind.  Religious life is this vision.  It means seeing what really matters in life.  It means welcoming the Lord’s gift with open arms, as Simeon did.  This is what the eyes of consecrated men and women behold: the grace of God poured into their hands.  The consecrated person is one who every day looks at himself or herself and says: “Everything is gift, all is grace”.  Dear brothers and sisters, we did not deserve religious life; it is a gift of love that we have received. 
My eyes have seen your salvation.  These are the words we repeat each evening at Night Prayer.  With them, we bring our day to an end, saying: “Lord, my salvation comes from you, my hands are not empty, but are full of your grace”.  Knowing how to see grace is the starting point.  Looking back, rereading one’s own history and seeing there God’s faithful gift: not only in life’s grand moments, but also in our fragility and weakness, in our insignificance.  The tempter, the devil focuses on our “poverty”, our empty hands: “In all these years you haven’t got any better, you haven’t achieved what you could have, they haven’t let you do what you were meant to do, you haven’t always been faithful, you are not capable…”and so on.  Each of us knows this story and these words very well.  We see this is true in part, and so we go back to thoughts and feelings that disorient us.  Thus we risk losing our bearings, the gratuitous love of God.  For God loves us always, and gives himself to us, even in our poverty.  Saint Jerome offered much to the Lord and the Lord asked for more.  He said to the Lord: “But Lord, I have given you everything, everything, what else is lacking?” “Your sins, your poverty, offer me your poverty”.  When we keep our gaze fixed on him, we open ourselves to his forgiveness that renews us, and we are reassured by his faithfulness.  We can ask ourselves today: “To whom do I turn my gaze: to the Lord, or to myself?”  Whoever experiences God’s grace above all else can discover the antidote to distrust and to looking at things in a worldly way.
There is a temptation that looms over religious life: seeing things in a worldly way.  This entails no longer seeing God’s grace as the driving force in life, then going off in search of something to substitute for it: a bit of fame, a consoling affection, finally getting to do what I want.  But when a consecrated life no longer revolves around God’s grace, it turns in upon itself.  It loses its passion, it grows slack, becomes stagnant.  And we know what happens then: we start to demand our own space, our own rights, we let ourselves get dragged into gossip and slander, we take offence at every small thing that does not go our way, and we pour forth litanies of lamentation – lamentation, “Father Lamentation”, “Sister Lamentation” – about our brothers, our sisters, our communities, the Church, society.  We no longer see the Lord in everything, but only the dynamics of the world, and our hearts grow numb.  Then we become creatures of habit, pragmatic, while inside us sadness and distrust grow, that turn into resignation.  This is what a worldly gaze leads to. The Great Saint Teresa once said to the sisters: “woe to the sister who repeats these words, ‘they have treated me unjustly’, woe to her!”
To have the right kind of view on life, we ask to be able to perceive God’s grace for us, like Simeon.  The Gospel says three times that he was intimately familiar with the Holy Spirit, who was upon him, inspired him, roused him (cf. v. 25-27).   He was intimately familiar with the Holy Spirit, with the love of God.  If consecrated life remains steadfast in love for the Lord, it perceives beauty.  It sees that poverty is not some colossal effort, but rather a higher freedom that God gives to us and others as real wealth.  It sees that chastity is not austere sterility, but the way to love without possessing.  It sees that obedience is not a discipline, but is victory over our own chaos, in the way of Jesus.  In one of the regions affected by earthquake in Italy – speaking of poverty and community life – there was a Benedictine monastery that was destroyed and another monastery that invited the Sisters to come and stay with them.  But they were only there for a short while: they were not happy, they were thinking about their monastery, about the people there.  In the end, they decided to go back to their monastery, which is now two caravans.  Instead of staying in this big, comfortable monastery; they were like flies there, all of them together, but happy in their poverty.  This happened just last year.  It is a beautiful thing!
My eyes have seen your salvation.  Simeon sees Jesus as small, humble, the one who has come to serve, not to be served, and defines himself as servant.  Indeed he says: “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace” (v. 29).  Those who see things as Jesus does, learn how to live in order to serve.  They do not wait for others to take the initiative, but themselves go out in search of their neighbour, as did Simeon who sought out Jesus in the temple.  Where is one’s neighbour to be found in the consecrated life?  This is the question: Where is one’s neighbour to be found?  First of all in one’s own community.  The grace must be sought to know how to seek out Jesus in the brothers and sisters we have been given.  And that is precisely where we can begin to put charity into practice: in the place where you live, by welcoming brothers and sisters in their poverty, as Simeon welcomed Jesus meek and poor.  Today, so many see in other people only hindrances and complications.  We need to have a gaze that seeks out our neighbour, that brings those who are far-off closer.  Men and women religious, who live to imitate Jesus, are called to bring their own gaze into the world, a gaze of compassion, a gaze that goes in search of those far-off; a gaze that does not condemn, but encourages, frees, consoles; a gaze of compassion.  That repeated phrase in the Gospel, which, speaking about Jesus, says: “He had compassion”.  This is the stooping down of Jesus towards each one of us.
My eyes have seen your salvation.  The eyes of Simeon saw salvation because they were expecting it (cf. v. 25).  They were eyes that were waiting, full of hope.  They were looking for the light and then saw the light of the nations (cf. v. 32).  They were aged eyes, but burning with hope.  The gaze of consecrated men and women can only be one of hope.  Knowing how to hope.  Looking around, it is easy to lose hope: things that don’t work, the decline in vocations… There is always the temptation to have a worldly gaze, one devoid of hope.  But let us look to the Gospel and see Simeon and Anna: they were elderly, alone, yet they had not lost hope, because they remained in communion with the Lord.  Anna “did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day” (v. 37).  Here is the secret: never to alienate oneself from the Lord, who is the source of hope.  We become blind if we do not look to the Lord every day, if we do not adore him.  To adore the Lord.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God for the gift of the consecrated life and ask of him a new way of looking, that knows how to see grace, how to look for one’s neighbour, how to hope.  Then our eyes too will see salvation.

#BreakingNews Famous Catholic Author Dies at age 92 - RIP Mary Higgins Clark who Received an Award from the Franciscans

The famous author Mary Higgins Clark has died on January 31, 2020, Naples, Florida, at the age of 92. She was born on December 24, 1927, in the Bronx, New York, United States of Irish parents. She died  Her children include: Carol Higgins Clark, Patricia Higgins Clark, David Higgins Clark, Marilyn Higgins Clark, Warren Clark Jr. She married John Conheeney from 1996–2018, and Warren Clark from 1949–1964. 
In an interview with Catholic News Service she explained, 
“I’m a writer who happens to be Catholic,” she said. “It’s no surprise that the Catholic faith, which has played a large role in my life, will be a key influence on my characters.” 
 According to Fordham, she was active in Catholic affairs, Higgins Clark was made a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, a papal honor. She is also a Dame of Malta and a Lady of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. She received the Catholic Big Sisters Distinguished Service Award in 1998 and the Graymoor Award from the Franciscan Friars in 1999. Honors she has received include the Gold Medal of Honor from the American-Irish Historical Society (1993), the Bronx Legend Award (1999), the 2001 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Passionist’s Ethics in Literature Award (2002), the first Reader’s Digest Author of the Year Award (2002), and the International Mystery Writers’ “First Lady of Mystery” Award (2008). She is an active advocate and participant in literacy programs.
January 31, 2020 - Carolyn K. Reidy -  President & CEO - Simon & Schuster, Inc.
It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that Mary Higgins Clark died earlier today in Naples, Florida, at the age of 92, from natural causes while surrounded by loving family and friends.
It is impossible to overestimate the importance of Mary’s contribution to our success, and her role in the modern history of Simon & Schuster. Beginning in 1975 with the publication of WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN, each of her  56 books has been a bestseller. There are more than 100 million copies of her books in print in the United States; they are international bestsellers and have been translated into every major and many less well-known languages.
But these storied publishing accomplishments tell only a small part of the larger story that is Mary Higgins Clark. She was, simply, a remarkable woman who overcame an early life of hardship and challenges, never doubting her ability as a natural-born storyteller (and she was one for the ages), and who persevered through trial and rejection until she at last achieved her Holy Grail of being a published author.
Those of us who are fortunate to have worked with Mary—and at Simon & Schuster, that is multitudes—know her as a person of tremendous loyalty and dedication: In this day and age it is exceedingly rare for an author, especially one as prized as Mary, to remain with a single publisher for an entire forty-five-year career.
She was similiarly devoted to her readers, until very recently going out of her way to meet them while on tour for every one of her books, and drawing tremendous energy and satisfaction from her interactions with them, even though she long ago could have pulled back from that part of being an author. She was, too, a generous member of the literary community, especially toward new authors, and was well known beyond the publishing world  for her support of innumerable philanthropic and civic causes.
Of course, no one here has been associated with Mary longer than Michael Korda, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Simon & Schuster, who says:
“Mary and I have been dear friends, and worked together since 1975, during which time we never had a cross word between us, which surely sets something of a record for author-editor relationships.
“She was unique. Nobody ever bonded more completely with her readers than Mary did; she understood them as if they were members of her own family. She was always absolutely sure of what they wanted to read—and, perhaps more important, what they didn’t want to read—and yet she managed to surprise them with every book. She was the Queen of Suspense, it wasn’t just a phrase; she always set out to end each chapter on a note of suspense, so you just had to keep reading. It was at once a gift, but also the result of hard work, because nobody worked harder than Mary did on her books to deliver for her readers. She was also, unfailingly, cheerful under pressure, generous, good humored and warm-hearted, the least ‘temperamental’ of bestselling authors, and the most fun to be around. I feel privileged to have enjoyed forty-five years of her friendship, and saddened that I will no longer be able to pick up the phone and hear her say, ‘Michael, I think I’ve figured out how to make this story work.’ She was a joy to work with, and to know.”
Yes, she was deservedly known as the Queen of Suspense, but in our building we have long and fondly thought of her as the First Lady of Simon & Schuster. Today we did not just lose an author, but a true and well-loved member of the Simon & Schuster family. I will miss her tremendously, both on a personal and professional level, but we all can be grateful and proud for having had the privilege of being her publisher these many years, and thankful for all she has meant to her millions of readers and for her kindness and service to many generations of authors.
Please join me in offering heartfelt condolences to Mary’s children and extended family.

BREAKING Official Brexit of UK from the EU while European Leaders express Sadness and COMECE releases Statement - Full Text

BBC reports that European leaders have expressed sadness at the UK leaving the EU. France's President Emmanuel Macron said he was "deeply sad" while the EU's Guy Verhofstadt pledged to try and "ensure the EU is a project you'll want to be a part of again". Celebrations and anti-Brexit protests were held on Friday night to mark the UK's departure. . The UK officially left the European Union on Friday at 23:00 GMT after 47 years of membership, and more than three years after it voted to do so in a referendum.
 In a message released on social media, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would bring the country together and "take us forward". "For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come," he said. "And there are many of course who feel a sense of anxiety and loss."
COMECE | Catholic Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the EU
Full Text Statement of the COMECE Presidency on Brexit 
For more than four years, Brexit has been a source of concern for the future, an element of instability for many people, families and communities on both sides of the English Channel. From today onwards, the United Kingdom is no longer part of the European Union. We are saddened, but as defender of freedom of expression and democracy, the Catholic Church in Europe respects the will expressed by the British citizens during the 2016 Referendum. As stated by the Bishops of the United Kingdom, we welcome the Brexit Deal recently achieved between the UK and the EU. It can be seen as a victory of common sense and good neighbourly relations. A No-Deal scenario would have had negative effects on both the United Kingdom and the European Union, but, overall, it would have been harmful for the most vulnerable people. Even if the United Kingdom is no longer part of the EU, it will continue being part of Europe. We are all destined to live and work together in the full respect of everyone else’s choices and diversities. It is crucial, therefore, to maintain good relations with each other. We invite all people of good will to pray and work for the common good and make sure that Brexit will not succeed in shattering the fraternal relations between brothers and sisters on both shores of the sea. It might be a long and challenging process, but it could also be an opportunity to trigger new dynamics between European peoples and rebuild a sense of community in Europe. Despite Brexit, the Bishops’ Conferences of the United Kingdom will remain an integral part of the Church in Europe. Their Bishop Delegates will even continue to be participating at COMECE, at the political level as observer members, and at the technical level within the framework of the COMECE Commissions and Working Groups.
COMECE Standing Committee

Pope Francis says ".. the suffering become...signs of the presence of Christ, the Son of God, who came to heal.." Full Text


Clementine room
Saturday, February 1, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters,

I cordially welcome you, representatives of the Villa Maria Group: doctors, nurses, administrative staff and managers. I thank the President for his words. I listened to the illustration of the purposes and purposes from which the life of your Group is animated, for forty years active in the health sector and at the service of human health. I congratulate you on the dynamism that has led you to extend your business, as well as in Italy, to other countries, always at the service of human life marked by disease. I encourage you to persevere with dedication in the works undertaken, and I hope that your structures, places of suffering but also of hope and human and spiritual experience, can be increasingly marked by solidarity and attention for the sick person.

Technological evolution and the same changes of a social, economic and political nature have changed the fabric on which the life of hospitals and healthcare facilities rests. Hence the need for a new culture, especially in the technical and moral preparation of health workers at all levels.

In this perspective, what the Villa Maria Group has done so far to meet the needs of patients and their families, sometimes forced to migrate to specialized centers far from their territory, is important. The commitment to widen the range of action with the acquisition or creation of new structures and the expansion of infrastructure, denotes the desire to ensure the equipment and comfort necessary for the hospitalization of the sick and for their recovery.

It is desirable that the places of care are more and more houses of welcome and comfort, where the patient finds friendship, understanding, kindness and charity. In short, you find humanity. The patient is not a number: he is a person who needs humanity. In this regard, it is necessary to stimulate the collaboration of all, to meet the needs of the sick with a spirit of service and an attitude of generosity and sensitivity. This is not easy, because the patient is sick, and he loses patience and many times he is "out of his mind". It is not easy, but it must be done. To achieve these objectives, it is necessary not to let oneself be absorbed by the "systems" that aim only at the economic-financial component, but to implement a style of proximity to the person, in order to be able to assist them with human warmth in the face of the anxieties that invest them in the most critical moments of the disease. . In this way it contributes concretely to humanize medicine and the hospital and health reality. I said a word, proximity: We must not forget it. Proximity - let us say - is also the method that God used to save us. Already to the Jewish people he said: "Tell me, what people have their gods so close, as close as you have me?". The God of closeness made himself close in Jesus Christ: one of us. Proximity is the key to humanity and Christianity.

Those who recognize themselves in the Christian faith are called to carry out their service in the spirit of the words of Jesus: "All that you have done to one of these younger brothers of mine, you have done to me" (Mt 25,40). Here is the evangelical foundation of service to others. Thus the sick and the suffering become for those who have faith living signs of the presence of Christ, the Son of God, who came to heal and heal, taking on our frailty, our weakness. Taking care of the brother who suffers will mean, in this sense, making room for the Lord. From the places of treatment and pain also comes a message for everyone's life; a great lesson that no other chair can teach. In fact, the man who suffers understands more the need and the value of the divine gift of redemption and faith, and also helps those around him to appreciate and seek this gift.

And I would like to express my closeness, my closeness, to the sick and to the people in your facilities, which I ask you to convey to them. I join in their expectation of recovery, spiritually sharing their trial and hoping that it will soon end, so that everyone can return to their home, to their family as soon as possible. For them I invoke the gifts of patience and trust from the Lord, together with so much strength of endurance, to always be docile to the will of God, trusting in his paternal and provident goodness.
To all of you, dear friends, I renew my appreciation for your service to the sick, the service of humanity. Thank you, thank you for this! I entrust your work to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary Health of the Sick and I cordially bless you all. Please don't forget to pray for me. I need this too.
Full Text Source: - UnOfficial Translation - Image Source Google Images

US Administration HHS Alex M. Azar II hosts International Health Leaders to Form Pro-Life Coalition

On January 16, 2020, the Trump administration hosted an international strategy meeting for ambassadors, ministers, and other government officials to discuss a way forward for the pro-life cause internationally as reported by C-Fam and the WashingtonTimes.

C-Fam reported that last year, 24 of the 34 countries who attended the gathering issued public statements in support of U.S. pro-life diplomacy.

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs Katalin Novák of Hungary, and the Deputy Chief of Mission Minister-Counselor Fernando Pimentel of Brazil also spoke at the private meeting. 

Official Full Text Remarks at the Blair House

Alex M. Azar II
Foreign health leaders
January 16, 2020
Washington, D.C.
President Trump has been clear, at the U.N. and on the world stage: Health care exists to improve health and preserve human life—the universal goal we all share.
As Prepared for Delivery
Your Excellencies and distinguished guests, welcome to Blair House. Thank you for honoring us with your presence.
The purpose of our gathering today is twofold.
First, today is an opportunity to thank those countries that we have worked with over the past year to promote a positive vision for women's health, to protect the lives of the most vulnerable, to defend the important role of the family, and parents in particular, in the health and well-being of their children, and to respect national sovereignty.
Second, we want to launch an ongoing discussion about how we can more effectively work together this year to build upon the successes we've achieved so far, and invite other countries to partner with us.
Before we proceed with the program, let me introduce our distinguished partners joining me at the head table, from whom you will hear in just a few minutes. Without leadership from these countries, we never would have made the progress we have achieved to date.
First, we have Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs Katalin Novák, representing Hungary, a valued ally that has been unafraid to recognize and promote the importance of the family for a healthy society
Next, we have Brazil's Deputy Chief of Mission here in Washington, Minister-Counselor Fernando Pimentel, who was one of our two earliest partners, co-lead on the first joint statement in Geneva at the World Health Assembly, and a partner on each of our three joint statements in 2019.
Before we begin, I want to note that we are holding this important gathering at an auspicious location in the history of American democracy. Many world leaders have stayed here during State Visits, from the Queen of England to the King of Jordan, the former President of Poland, Lech Walesa; President Sadat of Egypt; and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the first Prime Minister of Nigeria.
This home was officially established as the White House's guest house for foreign heads of state during World War II, because of how frequently British Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited President Franklin Roosevelt and stayed at the White House.
The story goes that it was President Roosevelt's wife, Eleanor, who finally realized the need for an official guest house. One night, she encountered Winston Churchill wandering the hallways of the White House, trying to find President Roosevelt to wake him up for a discussion on war policy—it was 3 AM, and Churchill had a cigar in his hand. Mrs. Roosevelt convinced him the discussion could wait until breakfast.
The conversations that took place between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill helped to forge greater cooperation between Britain and the United States as they sought to defeat evil and bring peace to a world at war. In 1941, they laid down particular principles, known as the Atlantic Charter, for how nations would work together toward peace and prosperity in the post-war world.
The Atlantic Charter highlighted the need for greater cooperation and collaboration, and emphasized that each nation has a sovereign right to self-determination. These same principles came to undergird the work of the institutions that play a role in our modern world, including the United Nations and affiliated agencies like the World Health Organization.
These organizations were founded to protect human rights, defend the vulnerable, and give voices to all nations.
So it is fitting that we are gathered here, in this historic diplomatic setting, to take the next steps in our work to make these organizations live up to their founding ideals.
As a group, we have made much progress already. So, please accept the sincere thanks of the Trump Administration for joining together with us, and for fighting for positive health policies that will enable women and families to live healthy, fulfilling lives. Thank you for taking a courageous stand with us for the unborn. Thank you for standing up for the idea that every life has value. And thank you for making clear that national sovereignty is not a vague or old fashioned concept, but the most important duty for each of us as leaders in our respective governments.
Every country has the right, and the duty to its own citizens, to decide for themselves how laws and policies can best strengthen the family, ensure optimal health for women and adolescents throughout their lifespan, and protect the unborn.
These issues are a topic of active debate here in the United States, in our domestic politics, including with regard to our abortion laws, which are some of the world's most liberal. The Trump Administration has worked extremely hard to provide better protections for the unborn in the United States, and we do so working through our own legislative and legal systems.
There is no role in this debate for interference from U.N. agencies or other countries.
Just as we would never presume to tell France, Denmark, Sweden or the EU to change their laws, we do not welcome interference and pressure from other countries on these issues.
Unfortunately, as all of you well know, this kind of pressure does arise in the context of global health policy. For this reason, the Trump Administration, and my department in particular, reached out to your countries, and other likeminded countries, this past year to come together to state our common views on these issues.
Individually, we can raise our own voices, but together, we are much stronger and have the ability to change the debate. It is not just one or two countries that care about national sovereignty, the family, protecting the unborn, and ensuring a genuinely positive vision for women's health. In fact, many countries share this vision—and thanks to your willingness to work together with us, that can no longer be denied.
I stated this fact at the United Nations this past September, and I'll repeat it here: there is no international human right to abortion. On the other hand, there is an international human right to life.
President Trump has been clear, at the U.N. and on the world stage: Health care exists to improve health and preserve human life—the universal goal we all share.
If the other side's goal of making abortion an international human right becomes a reality, it will mean all countries with laws protecting the unborn will be in violation of international human rights laws, with all the consequences that could carry.
I am sure you are all familiar with the constant drumbeat in the halls of the United Nations and the WHO to normalize the terms "sexual and reproductive health" and "reproductive rights." What reproductive rights are they talking about? In this context, it is increasingly becoming clear that some U.N. agencies and countries want this to mean unfettered access to abortion, and we cannot let this threat go unanswered.
Together, our nations can join together to support more sensible language in U.N. and WHO resolutions, which puts the focus back on critical women's health needs. Further, we can fight to insert language making it clear to U.N. agencies and other countries that national context and local laws take precedence on these matters, providing protections for our countries even when we don't prevail on definitional issues.
Looking back, in 2019, we came together on three joint statements that declared our strong support for a positive global women's health agenda and for standing firm against the assertion of rights that simply do not exist. In all, 24 countries signed on to one or more of the joint statements, and it should be an encouragement to all of us that these countries are home to well over 1 billion human beings.
Together, we built a pro-life, pro-family, pro-sovereignty coalition that is a force to be reckoned with. But our informal coalition needs to grow and be more active. We cannot stand still, because we have much work to do in 2020 and beyond.
In addition to standing up for our views at the United Nations and the World Health Organization, our partnership must continue to educate likeminded countries about what really is at stake, increase our ranks, and work in closer partnership. I hope that today will provide us with some useful ideas for how we can accomplish those goals—and we have little time to spare.
In just a few days the World Health Organization will hold its board meeting in Geneva. A few weeks after that, the Commission on the Status of Women will meet at the U.N. in New York. Several months after that, the WHO will host the World Health Assembly in Geneva. And a few months later the UN General Assembly will meet in New York.
All of these events—and many more in between—are venues where the vital issues I mentioned will be debated. At all of these meetings, my team will be ready to work with your countries to ensure a focus on national sovereignty and a positive vision for women's health, rather than controversial policies which will never enjoy consensus.
To that end, we invite each of your countries to attend an upcoming global women's health conference on Saturday, May 16, 2020, in Geneva, just before the World Health Assembly begins. This conference will highlight the lifesaving work we can do together to improve the health and outcomes for women across the globe. This is an ideal time and venue to affirm the positive work our nations do to reduce health disparities for women, as well as to focus on critical work yet to be done. A save-the-date invitation is at your seat. Our Special Representative for Global Women's Health, Valerie Huber, will be in contact with more information.
So, thank you again for honoring us with your presence this morning. Thank you for being a part of this important coalition, and thank you for your efforts to bring other likeminded countries on board.
We should all take great pride in the fact that, together, the 35 nations represented in this room are home to 1.7 billion human beings—people whose rights and perspectives we will continue to fight for on the global stage. We hope to work with all of your nations in a more coordinated way in 2020.
At this point, I would like to ask my friends at the head table if they would each like to make a statement. Following those remarks, I will read a letter from Dr. Jane Aceng, Minister of Health of Uganda, who is one of our strongest and most reliable partners but who is unable to join us because of pressing business back in Kampala. Then, we will open it up for a discussion and dialogue on how we can work more effectively together and reach the goals we all share.
Minister of State Novák, would you like to begin?

Pope Francis Welcomes New President of Argentina, Alberto Fernandez, and they Discuss the Situation the Pope's Homeland

Jan. 31/20 - This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, His Holiness Pope Francis received in audience His Excellency Mr. Alberto Fernández, president of the Argentine Republic, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Monsignor Mirosław Wachowski, Under-Secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed over the good relations that exist between the Holy See and the Argentine Republic. Afterwards, the situation in the country was examined, with particular reference to problems such as, the economic-financial crisis, the fight against poverty, corruption and drug trafficking, efforts to build up society, and the protection of life from conception. In this context, it was noted the significant contribution of the Catholic Church in favour of all in Argentine society, especially the more vulnerable sectors of the population.

Discussions continued and focused on themes of common interest regarding the regional context.


RIP Archbishop Emeritus Alexander J. Brunett - Death of Beloved Former Seattle Archbishop at age 86

Seattle Archbishop Emeritus Alexander J. Brunett dies
Seattle, Wash. January 31, 2020 - Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett, who led the Archdiocese of Seattle from 1997 to his retirement in 2010, died in the peace of the Lord today. He was 86.
“Since my early days here in Seattle, I have learned of the high esteem in which Archbishop Brunett is held,” said Archbishop of Seattle Paul D. Etienne. “I always enjoyed my visits with the archbishop, and found him to be joyful, grateful, and always ready to pray and give his blessing. These are true hallmarks of any disciple of the Lord, and we are grateful for his presence and service in the Archdiocese of Seattle.”
The second of 14 children, Archbishop Brunett was born January 17, 1934, and grew up in Detroit. He was ordained to the priesthood on July 13, 1958, for the Archdiocese of Detroit, where he served as a parish priest, pastor, university chaplain and seminary dean.
In 1973, he was named the ecumenical officer for the Archdiocese of Detroit and he was instrumental in launching a national Catholic-Jewish dialogue, receiving numerous awards and commendations for his pioneering interfaith efforts. One of his hallmark achievements in ecumenism came as co-chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission in 2004 with publication of “The Seattle Statement,” the first joint international statement of understanding by two Christian communions on the place of Mary in the doctrine and life of the church.
He was appointed bishop of Helena, Montana, by Pope John Paul II in 1994. He was appointed archbishop of Seattle on October 28, 1997 and installed December 18, 1997.
The eighth bishop and fourth archbishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle, Archbishop Brunett faced severe economic recessions and dramatic increases in health care, priest pension and other employee costs, as well as the unfolding sex abuse crisis, during his 13-year tenure. He undertook numerous initiatives and building projects to nurture the faith life of Catholic people in Western Washington while implementing policies and procedures for child protection and outreach to past victims of abuse.
Confronting these challenges with characteristic energy and optimism, Brunett selected “A Future Full of Hope” as the title for his five-year pastoral plan launched in 2004. Under his leadership, annual contributions by local Catholics to the archdiocese nearly doubled. Building on more than 20 years of leadership by his predecessors, he expanded the local church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis while meeting personally with many sexual abuse victims to apologize and extend his pastoral support. Among his major accomplishments were the establishment of a new program of deacon formation in 1997 and the $7-million purchase, renovation and expansion of the Palisades Retreat Center in Federal Way, which was renamed the Archbishop Brunett Retreat and Faith Formation Center in 2011. Archbishop Brunett also asserted leadership on behalf of Catholic education, establishing the Fulcrum Foundation, a local endowment to support Catholic schools and students in need, in 2002. Upon turning 75 in 2009, Archbishop Brunett submitted his letter of retirement to Pope Benedict XVI in accordance with canon law. He was succeeded as archbishop of Seattle by Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who was installed on December 1, 2010.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI called Archbishop Brunett out of retirement to serve as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Oakland, California. After returning to Seattle, he suffered a stroke in 2013 that severely restricted his mobility. Despite his impairment, the emeritus archbishop was a fixture at major events around the archdiocese until he suffered a fall on April 26, 2019.
Funeral arrangements are currently underway.
About the Archdiocese of Seattle
The Archdiocese of Seattle encompasses all of Western Washington, stretching from Canada to Oregon and from the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. There are 169 parishes, missions and pastoral centers in the archdiocese, with more than 500 weekly Masses celebrated in eight languages. Archbishop Paul D. Etienne leads the archdiocese with his two auxiliary bishops, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo and Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg. For more information about the Archdiocese of Seattle, visit
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Today's Mass Readings and Video : Saturday, February 1, 2020 - #Eucharist

Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary TimeLectionary: 322 Reading 12 SM 12:1-7A, 10-17
The LORD sent Nathan to David, and when he came to him,
Nathan said: “Judge this case for me!
In a certain town there were two men, one rich, the other poor.
The rich man had flocks and herds in great numbers.
But the poor man had nothing at all
except one little ewe lamb that he had bought.
He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children.
She shared the little food he had
and drank from his cup and slept in his bosom.
She was like a daughter to him.
Now, the rich man received a visitor,
but he would not take from his own flocks and herds
to prepare a meal for the wayfarer who had come to him.
Instead he took the poor man’s ewe lamb
and made a meal of it for his visitor.”
David grew very angry with that man and said to him:
“As the LORD lives, the man who has done this merits death!
He shall restore the ewe lamb fourfold
because he has done this and has had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David:  “You are the man!
Thus says the LORD God of Israel:
‘The sword shall never depart from your house,
because you have despised me
and have taken the wife of Uriah to be your wife.’
Thus says the LORD:
‘I will bring evil upon you out of your own house.
I will take your wives while you live to see it,
and will give them to your neighbor.
He shall lie with your wives in broad daylight.
You have done this deed in secret,
but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel,
and with the sun looking down.’”
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
Nathan answered David: “The LORD on his part has forgiven your sin:
you shall not die.
But since you have utterly spurned the LORD by this deed,
the child born to you must surely die.”
Then Nathan returned to his house.
The LORD struck the child that the wife of Uriah had borne to David,
and it became desperately ill.
David besought God for the child.
He kept a fast, retiring for the night
to lie on the ground clothed in sackcloth.
The elders of his house stood beside him
urging him to rise from the ground; but he would not,
nor would he take food with them.

Responsorial Psalm51:12-13, 14-15, 16-17

R.    (12a)  Create a clean heart in me, O God.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R.    Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R.    Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Free me from blood guilt, O God, my saving God;
then my tongue shall revel in your justice.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
R.    Create a clean heart in me, O God.

AlleluiaJN 3:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMK 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind,
and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”