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From the Office of Communications

This article first appeared in The Arlington Catholic Herald. View it here. 

A federal appeals court’s ruling that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional is “a fundamental misunderstanding of the intrinsic nature of marriage and is an injustice to Virginia voters,” said Virginia’s two Catholic bishops.

WTOP reported that a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond ruled July 28 that state constitutional and statutory provisions barring gay marriage and denying recognition of such unions performed in other states violate the U.S. Constitution. The Virginia gay marriage case is one of several that could go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde and Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo said in a statement released after the ruling they “once again affirm what our 2,000-year-old faith teaches: that all men and women are endowed by our Creator with equal dignity and worth.

Bishop Anniversary“We maintain that those with same-sex attractions must be treated with respect and sensitivity,” they said. “However, by rejecting the state amendment, which affirms marriage as the unique institution between one man and one woman, the Court seeks to redefine an age-old institution, rooted in natural law, and extend a right that does not — and cannot — exist between people of the same sex.”

The bishops said that marriage has survived for countless generations because it uniquely benefits the common good by recognizing the union of two different but complementary individuals – that is a man and a woman – who, by their union, may create a family.

“Indeed, by its very nature this institution is ordered toward the regeneration and survival of the human race. For that reason Virginia’s constitution rightly recognizes the unique contributions marriage – the union of one man and one woman – makes to children and to the common good.”

The bishops said they will continue to affirm the truth about marriage, the lifelong union of one man and one woman, as well as the importance of marriage to the common good.

“As pastors, teachers and faith leaders, we can do nothing less,” they said. “We will continue to fight this unjust ruling.”

Circuit Court Judge Henry F. Floyd said he recognized that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. “However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life,” he said.

Floyd was joined in his majority ruling by Circuit Judge Roger L. Gregory. Their colleague Paul V. Niemeyer dissented and called the ruling “fundamentally flawed.”

The ruling upholds a decision by District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen. It won’t take effect for 21 days to allow for a request for a rehearing or a stay. It was not immediately clear if or when the state would need to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Virginia case is unusual because state Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) announced shortly after taking office this year that he agreed with the challengers that the state’s restrictions are unconstitutional.

In 2006, Virginians voted 57 percent to 43 percent to approve the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Virginia laws also prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Information from the Washington Post was used in this report.

To see the statement in full, visit the Virginia Catholic Conference’s website here.

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From the Office of Communications

 

This article first appeared in The Arlington Catholic Herald. View it here

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Asking for forgiveness, Pope Francis told abuse survivors that “despicable actions” caused by clergy have been hidden for too long and had been “camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained.”

“There is no place in the church’s ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not,” and to hold all bishops accountable for protecting young people, the pope said during a special early morning Mass for six survivors of abuse by clergy. The Mass and private meetings held later with each individual took place in the Domus Sanctae Marthae — the pope’s residence and a Vatican guesthouse where the survivors also stayed.

Pope FrancisIn a lengthy, off-the-cuff homily in Spanish July 7, the pope thanked the men and women — two each from Ireland, the United Kingdom and Germany, for coming to the Vatican to meet with him. The Vatican provided its own translations of the unscripted homily.

The pope praised their courage for speaking out about their abuse, saying that telling the truth “was a service of love, since for us it shed light on a terrible darkness in the life of the church.”

The pope said the scandal of abuse caused him “deep pain and suffering. So much time hidden, camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained.”

He called sex abuse a “crime and grave sin,” that was made even worse when carried out by clergy.

“This is what causes me distress and pain at the fact that some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors” violated the innocence of children and their own vocation to God, he said.

“It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God. And those people sacrificed them to the idol of concupiscence,” the pope said.

The pope asked God “for the grace to weep, the grace for the church to weep and make reparations for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons” and left life-long scars.

He told the men and women sitting in the pews that God loved them and he prayed that “the remnants of the darkness which touched you may be healed.”

In an effort to help the abuse survivors heal, the pope met individually with each one, accompanied by a loved one or family member and a translator, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told journalists.

The pope spent a total of three hours and twenty minutes in closed-door talks with each person, showing the rest of the church that the path of healing is through dialogue and truly listening to victims, Father Lombardi said.

The Jesuit priest said the men and women were visibly moved by the Mass and meetings and had “felt listened to,” and that the encounter was “something positive on their journey” of healing.

The length and nature of the pope’s very first meeting with abuse survivors represent “a sign, a model, an example” for the rest of the church, that “listening is needed” along with tangible efforts for understanding and reconciliation, he said.

Responding to critics that the July 7 meeting and Mass were ineffectual and part of a publicity stunt, Father Lombardi said that if people had been able to see, as he had, the reactions of the men and women who took part in the private gathering, “it was clear that it was absolutely not a public relations event.”

The raw emotion on people’s faces, including the pope’s, as well as his strongly worded homily, all showed the effort had been about “a dialogue with a pastor and father who tries to understand deeply” the wrongs that have been committed and the need “to be honest about reality,” the Vatican spokesman said.

It was the first time Pope Francis met directly with a group of victims of clerical abuse, following a tradition begun by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who met with victims for the first time as pope in 2008 during a visit to Washington, D.C. The retired pope subsequently met with other victims during his pastoral visits to Sydney, Malta, Great Britain and Germany.

Pope Francis had told reporters in May that he would be meeting with a group of survivors of abuse from various countries and would celebrate a private Mass with them. The pope had asked Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston — the head of a new Vatican commission on protecting minors — to help organize the encounter.

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which the pope established in December, met July 6 at the Vatican, and its members, including Cardinal O’Malley, were also present at the July 7 Mass.

The commission, which currently has eight members, including a survivor of clerical sex abuse, mental health professionals and experts in civil and church law, is tasked with laying out a pastoral approach to helping victims and preventing abuse.

 

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From the Office of Communications

**EDITOR’S NOTE: Bishop Paul S. Loverde today issued a statement regarding the Supreme Court of the United State’s decision in favor of Hobby Lobby in the widely watched religious liberty case. This statement appears on the Catholic Diocese of Arlington’s website here.

(ARLINGTON, VA) – The Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of ABishop Anniversaryrlington and spiritual leader of Northern Virginia’s nearly half million Catholics, made the following statement today on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case:

Today’s decision seems to be very good news for Americans who wish to run their businesses without government coercion to violate their consciences by paying for coverage of sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraceptives for their employees.  Catholic business owners and family businesses should not have to cede their religious liberty at the marketplace door, and today’s Supreme Court decision, though closely decided, provides reasonable and welcome relief.

As we observe this week the third annual Fortnight For Freedom, we can take real satisfaction in the Court’s ruling. But as I noted this past Saturday during the panel discussion with Catholic University of America President Dr. John Garvey and March for Life President Jeanne Monahan at our diocesan Religious Freedom Assembly, the government’s unprecedented HHS mandate remains a clear and unacceptable violation of religious liberty. Under the Obama Administration’s so-called accommodation for religious institutions, the funds used in the procurement of coverage for sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraceptives still come from religious employers and their employees.  Further, the administration’s mandate penalizes the Church for its long history of charitable works, targeting our colleges, hospitals, and other facilities that serve others regardless of their faith.

I urge the Catholics of the Diocese of Arlington to continue to pray, sacrifice, and advocate for religious freedom here at home and abroad. The Church and its related institutions must be free to provide health care coverage for their employees that is consistent with our religious and moral principles, and without the threat of government coercion.  Church institutions have provided healthcare and education to our fellow citizens since our nation’s founding. We have always supported health care services for all people, but pregnancy is not a disease, and the Church cannot abandon the dignity of the human person and submit to complicity in the destruction of innocent life. ### Paul S. Loverde is bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. A new edition of his pastoral letter on pornography, Bought with a Price, and his recent letter on the new evangelization, Go Forth with Hearts on Fire, are available at Amazon for Kindle and at www.arlingtondiocese.org/purity.

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The Catholic Diocese of Arlington wishes you and your family a blessed and merry Christmas. As we all celebrate the joy of the Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we thank God for all of the blessings He has bestowed on us throughout the year. We should also turn our thoughts to the less fortunate and the poor, who struggle with meeting their daily needs.

As Pope Francis said in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium, “Small yet strong in the love of God, like Saint Francis of Assisi, all of us, as Christians, are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its peoples” (Evangelii Gaudium, 216). Our Bishop Paul Loverde also wrote on the importance of service and charity in his pastoral letter, Go Forth With Hearts On Fire, saying, “As children of God and followers of Christ, we seek opportunities for acts of charity, for living out our faith in concrete ways. Expressing the love for the Gospel through our actions is vital to being faithful disciples of Jesus and His authentic witnesses” (Go Forth With Hearts On Fire, 27).

12daysofcharity2This year, we’d like to offer you a daily challenge to support those in need. We’ll be posting a charity every day of the 12 days of the Christmas season on our Facebook and Twitter pages, and compiling all 12 on our blog. We hope that this opportunity inspires you to give generously, knowing that you’re following Our Lord’s command in Luke, “Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 13:13-14). God bless you and your families this Christmas season and always.

12 Days of Charity

Day One: Catholic Charities

Day Two: Gabriel Project and Project Rachel

Day Three: Alpha Omega Clinic

Day Four: Divine Mercy Care

Day Five: Catholic Relief Services

Day Six: Migration and Refugee Services

(Please note: to donate directly to the Arlington Diocesan MRS affiliate office, please visit http://www.ccda.net/programs_mrs.php.)

Day Seven: St. Vincent de Paul Society

Day Eight: Retirement Fund for Religious

Day Nine: Pontifical Mission Societies

Day Eleven: MaterCare International

Day Twelve: John Paul II Medical Research Institute

Thank you for supporting the 12 Days of Charity! We hope you were inspired to give and that you had a joyful Christmas with continued blessings in the new year!

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The Gabriel Project set to Celebrate 10 Years of Active Ministry

Did you know the Gabriel Project has been actively offering pregnancy assistance in the Diocese of Arlington for ten years? We wanted to share with you what some recent parents have had to say about the difference this ministry has made in the lives of their families.

Please pray for these expectant parents, for their babies and for all those who are involved in this life-supporting ministry. If you want to become more involved, check out the Gabriel Project website.

The Gabriel Project Assists Parents:

ImageWith the Heart of Christ, making a difference to expectant mothers

One mom came to visit us some weeks ago to pick up an Easter basket donated by Blessed Sacrament Church’s Gabriel Project.

She told us: “When I didn’t have any other options for my pregnancy, I saw a Gabriel Project ad in the Herald and I called you. And you were really kind and sweet and showed me that there was hope and options.  You guided me to different resources, and I have been so grateful. Thank you for all you have done for me, especially for taking the time to listen to me.”

“That is the reason my baby’s name will be Gabriel”

In their faith journey

We recently had a conversation with a mom we are assisting who has no family in the state, just lost her job, has no money for rent, and was struggling with feelings of desperation.

Gabriel Project volunteer: “We talked about the importance of having a good relationship with God and the power of prayer. We encouraged her to pray to Our Lady and to entrust all her concerns to Mary.”

“Two days later, she called back and said that she has been doing her homework (praying) and that she feels more peaceful. She wants to start going to Mass.”

In their familypromoting values

Some month ago, we received a call from “Rosa” who was looking for prenatal care and didn’t know where else to go. She was feeling sick, had just been in the hospital because of pregnancy complications, and was really worried for her baby.

The Gabriel Project used their resources to help her: prenatal care at Tepeyac Family Center, a Gabriel Angel (parish-based volunteer) for transportation, and a Gabriel Angel for translation services.  Things began to fall in place, and she began to have more peace and confidence.

One day, she asked one of her Angels about sterilization, because she wanted to have the procedure done immediately after her baby was born. When the volunteer called, we started to pray for this mother.  In the meantime, the volunteer explained to the mother about the beauty of family and love. From the Gabriel Project office she received a mailing with NFP information as well as resources about the importance of marriage and God’s loving plan for her and her family.

After a month or so of prayer, conversations, material and, most of all, love and care, the mother relayed that she and the father of the child were planning to talk with a priest after the baby is born, so they could learn more about NFP and also about marriage.

More recently, the mother told us that she had been talking with the father of the child about the possibility of marriage and believed they were moving towards it. She said, “Thank God that people like you exist. You all have been a blessing in my life.”

In their womanhoodacknowledging their dignity

After talking with a mom about the dignity of her body and her life, as well as the importance of being chaste and living according to Christian values, she said, “thank you for sharing with me this thought. You don’t hear good things frequently, and you tend to forget what is good and right.”

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Did you know that 150 people coordinate and serve meals at Christ House, Alexandria, in the evenings? Did you know that many struggling to find work are aided by volunteers? Did you know Catholic Charities in Arlington serves 35,000 people a year?

During this first month of the year, many of us are prioritizing our goals for 2012. If one of your goals is finding time to help others in need (whether it be serving a meal, stocking a food kitchen, helping coordinate donations or helping to fund raise), I’d encourage you to read this great outline of all that volunteers at Catholic Charities do.

If you want to help, there is a place for you!

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Did you know that the Diocese of Arlington has been sponsoring a Catholic community in the Dominican Republic since 1991? Before that time, the area had been without a priest and the sacraments for nearly eighty years! For the past twenty years, our diocesan priests have been stationed there serving the missions of San Francisco De Asis and San Jose. Groups from Northern Virginia regularly spend time down in the Dominican Republic working on various service projects and getting to know the community there.

Bishop Loverde leaves today to visit Banica in celebration of the twenty year anniversary of its relationship with the Diocese of Arlington. As we wait for him to return (no doubt with many travel stories!) I’ve been looking over photos taken last year when our Chancellor visited the Mission – see below. You can also find out more about the missions here.

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