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During my three years at Nashotah House (a seminary of the Episcopal church in Wisconsin) I had the pleasure meeting a bishop from the Church of England: Bishop John Broadhurst, who is now a Monsignor in the Catholic Church and part of the English Ordinariate.

I cannot exactly recall why he was there (I think it was because the school was giving him an honorary doctorate) but I do recall one specific interaction. He was giving a talk, or maybe it was a homily, to the students (and this being an Episcopal seminary some of the students were women) in which he brought up the topic of the ordination of women to the priesthood. For those who do not know, Anglicans all over the world do allow for the ordination of women, but since the inception of this novelty in the 1970s it has always been a contentious subject. And Bishop Broadhurst was part of a group of bishops within the Church of England that refused to perform such an ordination. And during his talk that day the good bishop made it very clear that he was against such an innovation. Needless to say, there were some feathers ruffled by his saying so. He then posed a question to himself, which went something like this,
Some people at this point might want to say to me, "If we no longer allow
women to be ordained as priests then what will we tell women in the future that feel called to the priesthood?"
He answered his own question quite simply by saying, "Tell 'em NO!"

There are many times when we all need to have this same bold and frank attitude. Of course, when we speak we should do so in a loving manner that has true concern for the welfare of the other person. But consider this - what is more loving than to correct our brother when he is mistaken about something of vital importance? And I think everyone will agree that things pertaining to the salvation of another person's soul is of ultimate importance.

The Church is very clear: certain things are right and certain things are wrong. If we see our fellow man going down the path that could lead him to everlasting damnation then we have a duty to speak up and boldly "Tell 'em NO!"
I had the great privilege today of witnessing someone's profession of faith today. This was made even more special in that it was my first time to receive someone into the Catholic Church in such a way and also because I too am a convert to the Catholic Church.

At the Profession of Faith the new convert first recites the Apostles' Creed, being the historic symbol of Faith professed by countless converts throughout the centuries. Next is said,
I believe that seven Sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ for the
salvation of mankind, namely, Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist,
Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. I believe that the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, that he is the supreme visible head of the whole Church and that he teaches infallibly what we must believe and do to be saved. I also believe everything which the holy Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church defines and declares we must believe. I adhere to her with all my heart and I reject every error and schism which she condemns.
It was wonderful to see someone with the conviction to profess these Truths in order to become a full part of Christ's one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

But, it also makes me wonder: why are there so many Catholics, mostly those baptized as infants, who at best take these Truths for granted and at worst repudiate them. What went wrong in their lives to lead to such a state of affairs within the Church? Ultimately, only God knows who is to blame. But the blame doesn't really matter. What matters is from this moment on that each and every sincere and faithful Catholic does what they can to correct the problem. Therefore let us learn our Faith and never hesitate to profess it both in the Church and in the world.
When looking something up this morning I noticed that the internet search provider I was using had a one of those ribbons (that are used to promote supposedly good causes) on its main page. I clicked on it and discovered that the little white ribbon represented the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I then discovered that, ironically, this is sponsored by the United Nations.

I want to explain why I find this ironic. But first, let me unequivocally state that I am all for ending violence against women. Women are created in the image and likeness of God just like men and therefore deserve to receive their due dignity and respect from the rest of mankind, whether male or female. No one has the right to abuse, harm or take advantage of another person for any reason.

The UN claims to believe the same thing. But, even though they sponsor this campaign to end violence against women, they ironically promote things that can only perpetuate the violence they seek to end.

First of all, they advocate for 'safe abortions' (whatever that is supposed to mean - it is certainly not safe for the baby, who is about to be killed, or the woman who is having the abortion). Why, if you want to stop violence against women, would you support abortion?What action could be more violent to a woman than for someone to shove medical instruments inside her and brutually dismember unborn child?

It should be pointed out, though, that the UN website claims that they do "not support or promote abortion as a method of family planning." And yet they try to use a scary statistic to promote 'safe abortions' saying that each year 74,000 women die each year from 'unsafe abortions'. In their mind it must seem that the only way to keep this from happening is to have 'safe abortions.' When in actuality, the only way to keep this from happening is to have no abortions!

Connected to this is the UN's promotion of artficial contraception. They support both the pill - an abortifacient - and so-called emergency contraception - also an abortifacient. Not only do both of these cause the violence action of abortion but both of these poisons are an act of violence against the dignity of women. These chemicals destroy something which is actually quite natural - her fertility. Not to mention that in addition to killing the baby she has conceived it can most certainly kill her.

Furthermore, chemical contraceptives can have a secondary cause of violence against women that is overlooked. With a so many women taking chemical contraceptives men can now almost assume that any woman is infertile. Therefore, there is no possible baby to worry about which in turn leads many men to take advantage of women, which is the very thing the UN is trying to prevent, right?

The UN - ending violence against women? More like UNending violence against women.
By Denise M. Burke, Esq.

As a 14-year veteran of military service, I have experienced first-hand the dedication and selfless service of military chaplains.  One of the most extraordinary Catholic priests ever to serve as a military chaplain was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor today.  Fr. Emil Joseph Kapaun served in the Korean War, and he died on May 23, 1951 in a Chinese prison camp.  He was only 35 years old.

Here is an account of Fr. Kapaun's service, offered by President Obama as he honored Fr. Kapaun in the East Room of the White House:

"After the Communist invasion of South Korea, [Father Kapaun] was among the first American troops that hit the beaches and pushed   their way north through hard mountains and bitter cold. In his understated Midwestern way, he wrote home, saying, “this outdoor life is quite the thing” and “I prefer to live in a house once in a while.” But he had hope, saying, “It looks like the war will end soon.”

That’s when Chinese forces entered the war with a massive surprise attack -- perhaps 20,000 soldiers pouring down on a few thousand  Americans. In the chaos, dodging bullets and explosions, Father Kapaun raced between foxholes, out past the front lines and into no-man’s land -- dragging the wounded to safety.

When his commanders ordered an evacuation, he chose to stay -- gathering the injured, tending to their wounds. When the enemy broke through  and the combat was hand-to-hand, he carried on -- comforting the injured and the  dying, offering some measure of peace as they left this Earth.

When enemy forces bore down, it seemed like the end -- that these wounded Americans, more than a dozen of them, would be gunned down. 

But  Father Kapaun spotted a wounded Chinese officer. He pleaded with this Chinese  officer and convinced him to call out to his fellow Chinese. The shooting  stopped and they negotiated a safe surrender, saving those American lives.  

Then, as Father Kapaun was being led away, he saw another  American -- wounded, unable to walk, laying in a ditch, defenseless. An enemy soldier was standing over him, rifle aimed at his head, ready to shoot. And Father Kapaun marched over and pushed the enemy soldier aside. And then as the soldier watched, stunned, Father Kapaun carried that wounded American away.    

This is the valor we honor today -- an American soldier who  didn’t fire a gun, but who wielded the mightiest weapon of all, a love for
his  brothers so pure that he was willing to die so that they might live. And yet,  the incredible story of Father Kapaun does not end there.  

He carried that injured American, for miles, as their captors forced them on a death march. When Father Kapaun grew tired, he’d help 
the wounded soldier hop on one leg. When other prisoners stumbled, he picked them up. When they wanted to quit -- knowing that stragglers would be shot -- he begged them to keep walking.

In the camps that winter, deep in a valley, men could freeze  to death in their sleep. Father Kapaun offered them his own clothes.  They  starved on tiny rations of millet and corn and birdseed. He somehow snuck past the guards, foraged in nearby fields, and returned with rice and potatoes. 

In  desperation, some men hoarded food. He convinced them to share. Their bodies were ravaged by dysentery. He grabbed some rocks, pounded metal into pots and boiled clean water. They lived in filth. He washed their clothes and he cleansed  their wounds.

The guards ridiculed his devotion to his Savior and the Almighty. They took his clothes and made him stand in the freezing cold for 
hours. Yet, he never lost his faith. If anything, it only grew stronger. At night, he slipped into huts to lead prisoners in prayer, saying the Rosary, administering the sacraments, offering three simple words: “God bless you.” One of them later said that with his very presence he could just for a moment turn a mud hut into a cathedral.

That spring, he went further -- he held an Easter service. As the sun rose that Easter Sunday, he put on [his] purple stole and led dozens of prisoners to the ruins of an old church in the camp. And he read from a prayer missal that they had kept hidden. He held up a small crucifix that he had made from sticks. And as the guards watched, Father Kapaun and all those prisoners -- men of different  faith, perhaps some men of no faith -- sang the Lord’s Prayer and “America the  Beautiful.” They sang so loud that other prisoners across the camp
not only  heard them, they joined in, too -- filling that valley with song and with  prayer.

That faith -- that they might be delivered from evil, that they could make it home -- was perhaps the greatest gift to those men; that  even  amidst such hardship and despair, there could be hope; amid their misery in the temporal they could see those truths that are eternal; that even in such hell,  there could be a touch of the divine. Looking back, one of them said that that  is what “kept a lot of us alive.”

Yet, for Father Kapaun, the horrific conditions took their toll. Thin, frail, he began to limp, with a blood clot in his leg. And then came  dysentery, then pneumonia. That’s when the guards saw their chance to finally rid themselves of this priest and the hope he inspired. They came for him. And over the protests and tears of the men who loved him, the guards sent him to a death house -- a hellhole with no food or water -- to be left to die.

And yet, even then, his faith held firm. “I’m going to where  I’ve always wanted to go,” he told his brothers. “And when I get up
there, I’ll  say a prayer for all of you.” And then, as was taken away, he did something  remarkable -- he blessed the guards. “Forgive them,” he said, “for they know not  what they do.” Two days later, in that house of death, Father Kapaun breathed his last breath. His body was taken away, his grave unmarked, his remains unrecovered to this day."
Fr. Kapaun was awarded the nation's highest military honor today, and some day soon he may also be a saint of the Church.  He was named "Servant of God" in 1993, and his cause for canonization continues.

By Denise M. Burke, Esq.

Nearly two years ago, the Obama Administration announced its patently unconstitutional "HHS Mandate," requiring many employers to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization without regard for the conscientious or religious objections of the employers or the employees to be covered by the insurance.  Since then, the Administration has issued two sets of proposed rules -- the most recent coming in February 2013 -- for implementing the Mandate.  Neither set of rules adequately protects freedom of conscience or religious liberties.

The fight over this coercive mandate continues both in the courts and in the equally important "court of public opinion."  Undoubtedly, the U.S. Supreme Court will eventualy have to decide whether the American Constitution still protects individual rights including freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

Thus far, 50 lawsuits involving more than 150 plaintiffs (both organizations and individuals, both Catholic and Protestant) have been filed in federal courts around the country challenging the constitutionality of the Mandate.  And here we have some good news:  In 18 of 21 cases involving for-profit organizations challenging the Mandate, the courts have issued decisions as to whether or not the Mandate can be enforced against these for-profit organizations.  And in 13 of those 18 cases, the courts have ordered that the Mandate cannot be enforced.  In so finding, the courts have been required to evaluate the constitutionality of the Mandate.  Since they have -- for the most part -- declined to enforce the Mandate, this essentially means that the courts do not believe the Mandate is, in fact, constitutional.  These results bode very well for the continued litigation over the Mandate and for the Supreme Court's ultimate decision on the enforceability of the Obama Administration's coercive and politically motivated mandate. 

For more information about the ongoing legal fight against the Mandate, visit HHS Mandate Information Central | Becket

By Denise M. Burke, Esq.

So many were overjoyed yesterday to hear the words, "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam."  I must admit that I began to cry when I saw the white smoke rising from the Sistene Chapel and also teared-up when Pope Francis asked for our prayers before blessing us.

I, like so many others, have been eager to learn more about the man who will lead us.  George Weigel, who has spent some time with our new Pope, offers some insightful analysis at National Review Online: 

"The wheelchair-bound beggar at the corner of Via della Conciliazione and Via dell’Erba this morning had a keen insight into his new bishop: “Sono molto contento; e una profeta” (“I’m very happy; he’s a prophet”). That was certainly the overwhelming impression I took away from the hour I spent with the  archbishop of Buenos Aires and future pope last May — here was a genuine man of God, who lives “out” from the richness and depth of his interior life; a bishop who approaches his responsibilities as a churchman and his decisions as the  leader of a complex organization from a Gospel-centered perspective, in a spirit of discernment and prayer. The intensity with which Cardinal Bergoglio asked me to pray for him, at the end of an hour of wide-ranging conversation about a broad range of local and global Catholic issues, was mirrored last night in his unprecedented request to the vast crowd spilling out of St. Peter’s Square and down toward the Tiber to pray for him before he blessed them. Gregory the Great, in the sixth century, was the first bishop of Rome to adopt the title Servus servorum Dei (Servant of the Servants of God). That ancient description of the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church will be embodied in a particularly winsome way in Pope Francis, who named himself for the Poverello of Assisi, the most popular saint in history."

Read the entirety of George Weigel’s analysis at The First American

Posted by Denise M. Burke, Esq.

As I was reading many of the articles and commentaries from the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I ran across an amazing speech from the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus that is as relevant today as when it was originally given in June 2008.  Fr. Neuhaus was a eloquent and much-esteemed pro-life champion whose words still inspire.  He encourages us to remain steadfast in our fight to protect the most vulnerable among us.

"The journey has been long, and there are miles and miles to go. But ... the word is carried to every neighborhood, every house of  worship, every congressional office, every state house, every precinct of this our beloved country— ... the word is carried that, until every human being created in the image and likeness of God—no matter how small or how weak, no matter how old or how burdensome—until every human being created in the image and likeness of God is protected in law and cared for in life, we shall not weary, we shall not rest. And, in this the great human rights struggle of our time and all times, we shall overcome."

It is well worth your time to read the remainder of Fr. Neuhaus'

By Denise M. Burke, Esq.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, one of the Supreme Court’s most tragic and notorious decisions; however, even on such a sad occasion, there is reason for hope.

When abortion was legalized in 1973, many abortion advocates believed that they had won an enduring victory.   They argued that Roe was “settled law” and could not be eradicated.  They also believed that the American public would eventually embrace a regime of
unrestricted – and even taxpayer funded –abortion-on-demand and come to see the easy availability of abortion as the ultimate liberation of women.

Four decades after Roe, abortion advocates could not have been more wrong.  If anything, abortion is an even more controversial and polarizing issue now than it was in January 1973.  
Pro-life advocates continue to challenge Roe in the courts and have not accepted abortion advocates’ fallacious assertion that Roe is “settled law.”  Test cases are currently under way in courts across the nation seeking to fence in the abortion license and to lay the
groundwork for its demise.  Pro-life advocates continue to accumulate victories that we hope will lead to Roe’s ultimate reversal. 
The weight of medical and sociological evidence is proving that abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women, rather than the panacea for life’s challenges as abortion advocates argued.  As a result, many Americans do not view abortion as legitimate healthcare or as beneficial to women.  Instead, we are seeing increasing support for the life-affirming work of pregnancy care centers which provide much-needed help to women, their families, and their communities.  We need look no further than abortion advocates’ vitriol toward pregnancy care centers for affirmation of the tremendous impact these centers are enjoying.

 And, importantly, more and more Americans, especially younger generations, are self-identifying as “pro-life.”  Further, in a recent poll, more than 80 percent of respondents (whether they identified as “pro-life” or “pro-choice”) supported significant restrictions on abortion.

 The battle is far from over, but the pro-life movement’s victories are many and significant.  Importantly, we must continue to persevere in the face of the most pro-abortion presidential administration in American history.  

On many occasions and prior anniversaries of Roe, abortion advocates have tried to declare victory in the face of growing defeat, but we must remain steadfast in our commitment to the unborn and their
mothers. Our goal is just:  a nation in which everyone is welcomed
in life and protected in law.

It has been way too long since my last post. What I want to say today will be brief but hopefully edifying. At the beginning of the Year of Faith instituted by Pope Benedict I started a process of reading the entire Catechism from cover to cover. I have always known the Catechism is a wonderful resource. Even as an Anglican I turned to it to find answers to questions I had. But in my reading it from the beginning I have discovered already so much that I had not heard of before. For instance, you have probably heard someone say to you when something bad happens, "God can bring good from this." But this is not the fullness of the Truth. The Catechism states the following in §324:

The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life.

So the correct understanding is not that God can bring good from evil but that, if He permits evil to happen at all, He will bring good from it. Remembering this, especially after horrifying events like the school shooting that happened in Newtown, CT this week, can help us cope with such senseless tragedies. But let us not forget to pray for those who have lost loved ones from this awful event. More than likely, they will never see the good that can come from this until they enter into eternal life. May God have mercy on the souls of those who died and the ones they left behind.