From the Catholic Bishops Conference in Pennsylvania.

October is Respect Life Month – a special time each year when we prayerfully reflect on how each person at every stage of life deserves dignity and respect, and when we remind ourselves of the need to protect the most vulnerable among us.

It is also a time when we must pause to give thanks to God for the freedom we enjoy as Americans and as citizens of Pennsylvania to participate in civic life. Recognizing our responsibility to promote the common good, we encourage our Catholic citizens, after they have formed their consciences in accord with right reason and Church teaching, to take the opportunity that our democracy affords them to influence the choices their government bodies will make in the future.

We encourage our Catholic people to read and study the document of our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org/. This document provides a good overview of Catholic teaching on important issues affecting public policy in our nation and here in Pennsylvania, reminding us that the core of Catholic moral and social teaching is respect for the life and dignity of every human person.

We wish to reiterate that the intentional destruction of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia, is not just one issue among many. Time and time again, we bishops have taught that the right to life is the most basic and fundamental human right and must always be defended. Intrinsic evils can never be supported. Catholic teaching does not treat all issues as morally equivalent. The protection of human life from conception until natural death is the preeminent obligation of a truly just society.

The Catholic Church teaches a consistent ethic of life which includes important teaching also on issues of war and peace, economic justice, care of the needy and vulnerable, education, stewardship of the Lord’s creation, etc. We have a moral obligation to defend human life and dignity, to protect the poor and the vulnerable, and to work for justice and peace. At the same time, however, we must never forget the words of our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. He wrote, “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.” (On the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful, no. 38)

We encourage the Catholic citizens of Pennsylvania to study carefully the Church’s teaching as they prepare for Election Day. We bishops do not endorse any candidate or party. Our role is to teach and form consciences. Above all else, we seek to ensure that the message of the Gospel is heard and upheld. Many of the issues facing our nation and our Commonwealth have important moral and ethical dimensions. We urge our Catholic faithful to be informed and guided by the moral truths of our faith and to exercise faithful citizenship.

May the Holy Spirit guide us with His manifold gifts! May God bless our nation and our Commonwealth with His abundant grace!
(c) 2008


After The Fight -- Making Up

Susan Stith, the Family Life Director for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, PA gives fighting couples some guides toward making up. When you’ve had a falling out or feel distance between you, how do you come back together and reconcile? The following might help:

  • Ask yourself if there are unfinished issues with your parents that you have super-imposed on this issue with your partner?
  • Talk it out using the Speaker-Listener technique. (One person speaks, the other listens and then paraphrases what they heard. The speaker confirms whether the listener heard correctly. Only after the listener gets it right does the speaker go on, or the listener asks for “the floor” and shares his/her own thoughts.)
  • Remember the rules. Don’t jump prematurely into identifying a specific solution until you’ve respectfully heard and been heard.
  • Put out the Unity Candle you used at your wedding or reception (or use another symbolic item) to signify that you’re calm enough to talk.
  • Apologize for your part. This doesn’t mean that your beloved is blameless, just that you are expressing sorrow for any way that your actions or words may have hurt your relationship, even unintentionally.
  • The Sacrament of Reconciliation can help you to forgive yourself and heal.
  • Seek professional counseling when the two of you aren’t making any headway in resolving the issue and it is infecting other parts of your marriage; you are feeling hopeless; you tend to distance rather than tackle the issue and the distance is growing; physical or verbal violence is being used (in this case, go to counseling separately).
  • In marriage, using lovemaking as a substitute for talking things out can bury the issue instead of resolving it. However, lovemaking after you have reconciled is a wonderful way to celebrate.


How Does Pornography Harm Us?

Children, teens and young adults are being victimized by an industry that objectifies people by eliminating the human dimension of their lives. Everyone involved in the pornography industry— whether its production, distribution, sale or use—“cooperates and, to some degree, makes possible this debasement of others” because sexuality “is reduced to a demeaning source of entertainment and even profit.” How can we expect our young people to practice chastity when they are bombarded daily with messages that tell them to do otherwise? This violates the sexual latency of children and promotes teen/college-age promiscuity, resulting in out-of-wedlock/crisis pregnancies and the spread of STDs at epidemic levels.

Within marriage, addiction to pornography can destroy intimacy. Eventually, the husband or wife who views pornography can lose the ability to relate on a personal and intimate level with the real person of his or her spouse.

Pornography addiction is defined as “a psychological addiction to, or dependence upon, pornography, theoretically characterized by obsessive viewing, reading, and thinking about pornography and sexual themes to the detriment of other areas of one’s life.” The statistical evidence, as well as the testimony of experts in the field of sexual addiction, shows that pornography is the foremost addiction in the world today due to its pervasiveness and its growing level of acceptability in our culture.

Addressing Porn Addiction on a Natural Level Pornography addiction is a multi-dimensional problem requiring a multi-faceted solution. Such addiction involves the mental, emotional, physical, relational, and spiritual components of a human being.

In his book Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction, Dr. Mark Laaser explains that sexual addiction is a result of trauma or wounds experienced over the course of one’s life. Emotional, spiritual or physical abuse during childhood, inflicted by family and the culture at large, can trigger an addiction in adulthood as an attempt at “self-medication” in response to the trauma. There are practical measures that offer significant hope for those struggling with pornography.

Here are five ways that those addicted to pornography can begin the recovery process:
1. Decide to get well and resolve to stop viewing all forms of pornography.
2. Remove all sources of temptation that may prevent one from healing.
3. Be willing to make sacrifices, which may involve changing current duties or habits.
4. Become familiar with the process by which one begins to repeat addictive behavior.
5. Find a support group or a network of “solid” people to help in one’s recover.
Taken from Pornography: What's the Problem by Mark Houck

Prayer of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus to the Holy Face

O Jesus, who in Thy bitter Passion didst become "the most abject of men, a man of sorrows", I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead; but now it has become for me as if it were the face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men.

The tears which well up abundantly in Thy sacred eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, whose adorable face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy divine image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.