Archive for the ‘Faithful Citizenship’ Category

Father Scott Daniels makes TV debut tonight on “Defending Life”

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Father Scott Daniels, O.P., a pastoral associate for Priests for Life, will have his television debut tonight as the new season of “Defending Life” kicks off on EWTN.

Father Daniels has been passionate about pro-life issues since his seminary days in the 1980s. Since 2009, when he was granted permission to work full-time as a priest associate with Priests for Life, he has been traveling across the country, leading pro-life parish weekends, teaching school children and speaking at pro-life events.

Tonight’s show will focus on ways to evaluate candidates for political office.

“I am thrilled to have an opportunity to co-host ‘Defending Life’ on EWTN,” Father Daniels said. “Television gives us a unique opportunity to go into people’s homes to tell the truth about the issues that really matter. With Election Day less than three weeks away, what matters now is choosing the right candidate.”

Mrs. Morana agreed. “Voters must make sure they know how every candidate for every office feels about abortion,” she said. “The life issue is the most important at every level of government, because without the right to life, the rest of our rights are meaningless.”

The show can be seen on EWTN every Thursday at 11 p.m. and every Saturday at 2:30 a.m. It can be heard on EWTN Radio every Friday at 1 a.m., Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 a.m. (All times Eastern). The series also will feature Janet Morana, Executive Director of Priests for Life, as co-host, along with Fr. Denis Wilde, OSA, associate director.

For more information about “Defending Life, go to www.priestsforlife.org/defendinglife.

 

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Can the Government Veto a Sermon?

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Friends,

Lots happening this weekend… It’s Respect Life Sunday (and we have resources at ProLifePreaching.com), it’s Life Chain Sunday (and I’ll be participating in one in Detroit… I hope all the Life Chain organizers are ready to collect names, numbers, and emails of the participants to help engage them throughout the year!), it’s the opening of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization (Priests for Life was pleased to send input to the synod on the connections between new evangelization and the pro-life movement) – but what I want to focus on for a moment here is that it is also “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”

Here’s the question: May the government filter, edit, or veto the contents of a sermon?  No court has ever heard a case regarding whether the Internal Revenue Service can do so. Yet every day – and especially in these weeks prior to an election – preachers act as if their sermons have to be vetted and approved by the IRS.

Indeed, the IRS issues guidelines saying that in order to retain its tax exemption, Churches and other organizations set up as “501 (c)(3)” entities must avoid any intervention in a political campaign.

But this restriction is not in the Constitution. In fact, it only goes back to 1954, to a provision that has no legislative history and has never been challenged in court.

And the result of the restriction, and the ambiguity often surrounding it (because the IRS says that all the “facts and circumstances” have to be taken into account to determine exactly when a preacher has “crossed the line,” therefore meaning in practice that you may not know that you’ve crossed the line until after the fact), what in fact happens is that speech is chilled and pastors do far less than they are able to do.

Since 2008, therefore, pastors across the nation have begun to rise up with a simple message: No government interference in the pulpit! They have decided, on a designated weekend, to preach sermons outside the usual restrictions of the IRS, and have sent those sermons to the IRS. The hope is that this will lead to a court case that can clarify whether the restrictions are in fact even constitutional.

In 2008, some 33 pastors did this. The IRS did not respond.

In 2009, some 84 pastors did this. Again, only silence from the IRS.

In 2010, a hundred pastors engaged in this project. The IRS raised no complaint.

Last year, 539 pastors sent in their sermons challenging the IRS restrictions. And nothing but silence came from the IRS.

This year’s numbers will surpass all the previous years.

It seems clear that the IRS does not want the 1954 restrictions subjected to court scrutiny. We will report more of what happens as a result of this Pulpit Freedom Sunday. Stay tuned!

Fr. Frank

 

 

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Today’s Pro-Life Reflection

Monday, September 10th, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This reflection is taken from my book Pro-Life Reflections for Every Day, which is available for purchase at: ProLifeReflectionsForEveryDay.org.

“In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. The State is no longer the “common home” where all can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenseless members” (John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, n.20).

Reflection: Some see laws permitting abortion as a minor flaw; the Pope is saying here that they change the very nature of the state.

Prayer: Lord, free us from the tyranny of governments that think they can dispose of human life. Amen.

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A Renewed Call to Faithful Citizenship and the Priority of Life

Monday, October 10th, 2011

“Pope John Paul II explained the importance of being true to fundamental Church teachings: Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination (Christifideles Laici, no. 38).”

These words come from paragraph 26 of the document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States. Every four years, just before a Presidential Election year, the bishops’ conference issues a statement on political responsibility. The bishops recently re-issued the same document they voted on four years ago, accompanied by a new introductory note.

Two other quotes found in the document are as follows:

“The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many (n. 28).”

“In our nation, ‘abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others’ (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 5) (n. 22).”

Now some people will say, “Yes, but that’s only part of what the document says.” Of course it is. And many will comment on other sections. As for me, I carry out a prophetic ministry to call the People of God to place priority and urgent attention on ending the slaughter of children by abortion. And nothing in any of the Church’s teaching contradicts that priority, or any of the quotes above.

We at Priests for Life echo the bishops’ call for a consistent ethic of life, properly understood, which begins with the proclamation that life is sacred and that the right to life can never be denied to a person, whether born or unborn. This ethic continues to call for the efforts of public officials and citizens to preserve other fundamental rights and to enhance the quality of life in the arenas of education, health care, security, and many more.

The bishops furthermore point out that as we participate in political parties, we are also called to change those parties wherever and whenever their positions fail to correspond to the demands of justice and the common good. In particular, we at Priests for Life call upon the Democratic Party to abandon its pro-abortion stance, recognizing that such a stance imperils and dilutes any progress that can be made on other issues.

The statement encourages Catholics to use voter education materials produced by their dioceses, and so do we. Unfortunately, many dioceses do not produce any voter guides or election-related materials. Priests for Life urges such dioceses to do so. The faithful, of course, are always free to produce and use other election-related material. This is consistent with the statement’s call to be active in the political process and in political parties themselves.

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Faithful Citizenship

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

At various times, in parishes, dioceses and universities, seminars and presentations are held on “Faithful Citizenship,” that is, the Church’s teachings on our responsibilities as citizens and voters. While it is necessary that we have teaching on this point, it is unfortunate that a common pattern is that these presentations become slanted in one way or another to partisan politics. It’s not that the presenter says, “Vote Republican” or “Vote Democrat.” It’s that they will emphasize one part of the Church’s message to the neglect of the other. For instance, one point often omitted is that the Pope and bishops have said often that the right to life is the most important issue in any election, and this is not only Church teaching – it’s common sense. After all, if we don’t have life, we don’t have anything.

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