Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 18, 2010 when a Centennial Mass was celebrated in honor of St. Margaret of Scotland (Waterbury) Church.
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WASHINGTON (CNS) – Pro-life concerns ranging from infertility treatments to sexual trafficking and from population control to the death penalty are part of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Respect Life program for 2010-11.

Materials in English and Spanish, including posters, fliers, liturgy guides, recommended resources, bulletin inserts and artwork, are available to help parishes, organizations and individual Catholics participate in the yearlong program that begins Oct. 3, Respect Life Sunday.

The theme of this year's observance is "The measure of love is to love without measure."

A brochure for this year's program offers vignettes from the experiences of Catholic families dealing with a teen's unexpected pregnancy, an elderly relative's persistent vegetative state and the impending birth of a special-needs child.

"There are no easy answers to challenges like these that families face every day, but there are clear answers, and we know deep down which answers are right and which are wrong," the brochure says. "Without trying to minimize the enormous sacrifices facing each of these families, the question comes down to this: Is it morally permissible to have a member of our family killed to avoid the tremendous personal sacrifice his or her care requires of us? The answer should be obvious: no."

The Respect Life package also specifically includes among pro-life concerns – for the first time since 2006 – opposition to capital punishment. Members of Catholics Against Capital Punishment had asked Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, to include the issue this year.

"We are concerned that by disregarding the issue of the death penalty, ... the pro-life committee may be ignoring the wise counsel offered three decades ago by the U.S. bishops in their historic 1980 statement on capital punishment," the organization said in a Dec. 2 letter to the cardinal. "In it, the bishops affirmed that in voicing their opposition to the death penalty, they sought to remove a 'certain ambiguity' about our church's affirmation of the sanctity of all human life."

In an article for the 2010-11 package, Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., linked the issue of capital punishment to God's divine mercy.

"As we seek a reason to put aside the practice of the death penalty, perhaps the best motive is our desire to imitate God in his mercy toward those for whom Jesus died," he wrote.

In addition to Bishop Finn's article, this year's Respect Life program packet includes articles on:

– "American Youth and the Culture of Life" by graduate students Megan Breen and Samuel Vasquez.

– "Sex Trafficking: The New Slavery" by Diane Bayly of the USCCB's Office of Migration and Refugee Services.

– "Hope for Married Couples Who Want to Have a Child" by Dr. John Bruchalski of the Tepeyac Family Center.

– "Caring for Each Other, Even Unto Death" by Marie Hilliard of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

– "Make Room for People" by Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute.

– "Losing a Child to Suicide: Trusting in God's Mercy" by Gladys Sweeney of the Institute for the Psychological Sciences.

This year's liturgy guide offers intercessions for life; suggested homily reflections for Respect Life Sunday and Jan. 22, the anniversary of the Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion; a litany for life; and a prayer, enthronement and novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Begun in 1972, the Respect Life program brings church teaching on the value and dignity of human life to the Catholic community and the wider public through education, prayer, service and advocacy.

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Editor's Note: Materials for the 2010-11 Respect Life program may be downloaded at www.usccb.org/prolife/programs/rlp/2010. They also may be ordered by calling (866) 582-0943 or by faxing orders to (301) 779-8596.

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alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.