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Abortion

BACKGROUND

Abortion takes the life of an innocent unborn child and harms all who are involved. According to the World Health Organization, there are 40-50 million abortions per year and approximately 125,000 abortions per day. Yet the movement to end abortion is not about condemning women who have had abortions. These women need to be offered the appropriate care and support, as they typically experience much grief. Instead, the movement to end abortion is about making abortion illegal and addressing the socio-economic factors that lead women to have abortions. It is also about encouraging fathers to fight for the lives of their unborn child, since they too have played a part in bringing the child into existence.

From the standpoint of biology, conception is the beginning of human development, making the unborn child clearly a human. However, abortion advocates often claim that the unborn child may be a human, but the child is not a person. Yet such a distinction between human and person is arbitrary. Additionally, abortion advocates claim that the mother has the right to do what she wants with her body. Yet the right to body integrity is not absolute, especially when there are two people involved, the mother and the child. Often times, women who have an abortion feel pressured or are in poverty, so they are not even making such an alleged autonomous choice.

Thinking of an abortion? There’s hope. Click here for the alternative.

Need healing after an abortion? Click here.


THE CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE

God loves each human life from the moment of conception and entrusts the gift of the child to the protection of a mother and father. Human life is especially sacred because it involves the creative action of God (see Jeremiah 1:5). Likewise, God alone, who is the origin of life, is also the arbitrator of when life ends. Yet abortion is the killing of an innocent unborn child. Abortion, willed as either an end or means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. It is one of the most serious offenses against God. It also deeply wounds the mothers and fathers involved, even if these wounds are not felt until years later. This is why the Church unceasingly speaks out against the evil of abortion and offers pastoral care to all those impacted by it.

Abortion violates the inalienable right to life of each human person. It is of primary importance in the public policy arena and outweighs all other concerns. Simply stated, if human beings are not given a chance at life, then no other rights really matter. Education, healthcare, and economic opportunity are all important, but they are insignificant if the unborn children they are meant to benefit are not given the opportunity to survive.

In his Papal Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II discusses severity of abortion with perfect clarity:

But today, in many people’s consciences, the perception of its gravity has become progressively obscured. The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behaviour and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake… The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder and, in particular, when we consider the specific elements involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined. In no way could this human being ever be considered an aggressor, much less an unjust aggressor! He or she is weak, defenceless, even to the point of lacking that minimal form of defence consisting in the poignant power of a newborn baby’s cries and tears.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Know the facts

Inform others

  • Host information sessions in throughout the community
  • Start a parish pro-life group

Engage in pro-life activism

  • Attend the annual March for Life
  • Participate in the 40 Days for Life campaign
  • Support legislation that upholds the sanctity of human life
  • Defund Planned Parenthood

Help both pregnant mothers and expectant fathers  

  • Become a Visitation Co-Worker of Life
  • Encourage men to embrace fatherhood and protect their unborn child
  • Provides resources like bottles and diapers

Support pro-life young adult groups

Console women who have had abortions

For pregnancy services, click here.


PRAYER

The most effective way to end abortion is through prayer. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of unborn children.

Virgin of Guadalupe,
Patroness of unborn children,
we implore your intercession
for every child at risk of abortion.
Help expectant parents to welcome
from God the priceless gift of their
child’s life.

Console parents who have lost that
gift through abortion, and lead them
to forgiveness and healing through
the Divine Mercy of your Son.

Teach us to cherish and to care for
family and friends until God calls
them  home. Help us never to see
others as burdens. Guide our public
officials to defend each and every
human life through just laws.

Inspire us all to bring our faith into
public life, to speak for those who
have no voice. We ask this in the
name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who
is Love and Mercy itself.

Amen.

Abortion Expansion

BACKGROUND

For the past decade, various types of abortion expansion legislation (e.g., the “Reproductive Health Act”) have been introduced in the NYS Legislature for the past seven years. On January 22, 2019, the bill was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. New York now has the most liberal abortion laws in the nation.

WHAT DOES THIS ABORTION EXPANSION LEGISLATION DO?

New York now has the most liberal abortion law in the world — in fact, this new abortion law removes any limitations on abortion from our statutes. Specifically, it:

  • Encourages more late-term abortions – by removing our current law’s limit on abortions after 24 weeks.
  • Permits non-doctors to do abortions – granting a license to perform abortions would be entirely within the discretion of State bureaucrats. In fact, anyone could do an abortion and the only penalty they might face is a prosecution for practicing medicine without a license.
  • Eliminates all criminal penalties for abortions – so even if an abortion was involuntary or coerced, or is an unborn child is deliberately targeted for an act of violence, it could not be prosecuted.
  • Endangers children even after birth – by eliminating a law that requires that a baby born alive after an abortion be given adequate health care. Instead, this bill would allow abortionists to leave those children to die of neglect and starvation.

For more information, please read these blogs:

ISN’T THE TREND ACROSS THE NATION TO INCREASE REGULATION?

Yes. More and more states are enacting sensible limitations on abortion. Many states now require parental involvement in a minor’s abortion decision, prohibit most taxpayer funding of abortion, and have specific informed consent laws for pregnant women seeking abortion. States are also moving to enforce health and safety regulations on abortion clinics, requiring ultrasounds prior to abortion and to prohibit abortion in later stages of pregnancy.

WHAT DO THE POLLS SAY ABOUT ABORTION?

A new poll from the Knights of Columbus and Marist College demonstrates the depth of pro-life feelings in our nation. Only a bare majority of Americans (51%) call themselves “pro-choice”, while 44% say they’re “pro-life”. But labels are deceptive — they conceal the real pro-life majority. This can be seen when the poll asks more specific questions about people’s actual beliefs:

  • 76% of Americans support limiting abortion to the first three months of pregnancy.
  • There is strong support for this limit across the political and ideological spectrum — Republicans (92%), Independents (78%), Democrats (61%) and even those who call themselves Pro-choice (60%).
  • 63% of Americans would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and 60% oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortion.
  • 56% of Americans continue to believe that abortion is morally wrong, and 64% believe it’s immoral to abort unborn children with genetic ailments like Down syndrome — a position that even 49% of those who are Pro-choice agree with.
  • In a sign of hope for authentic conscience protection, 54% of Americans agree that medical professionals and organizations with moral objections should not be required to be involved in abortions or cover them with health insurance.
  • Abortion continues to be a major issue in how people decide to vote for President (42%), Congress (45%) and local races (38%).
  • And despite decades of pro-abortion propaganda intended to establish that abortion is a positive good, a strong majority of Americans (52%) say that abortion does a woman more harm than good in the long run, while only 29% have bought the lie that abortion improves a woman’s life.

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT THIS?

We are asking people to sign a petition calling on legislators to repeal the law. This can be done through the Action Center of the New York State Catholic Conference.

Assisted Suicide

BACKGROUND

Assisted suicide refers to a suicide committed with the assistance from another, usually a physician. In the medical sense, assisted suicide occurs when physicians knowingly and intentionally prescribe lethal drugs to patients, so that the patients can then kill themselves. During an assisted suicide, the patient self-administers the means of death, whereas in euthanasia, the physician administers the means of death. Currently, assisted suicide is legal in Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. The states of Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine, and the District of Columbia have also legalized it.

Rhetoric is often employed that assisted suicide is “my choice” and that “my decision will not harm others.” However, the fact that a person is making a choice does not mean that what the person is choosing is right or good. If the person is harming themselves or if the well-being of others is also at stake, then society has a legitimate interest in intervening. The lives of those who are suicidal in the emergency room matter just as much as the lives of patients who are terminally ill. Neither group should be allowed to kill themselves. Yet if assisted suicide is legalized, it becomes a viable end-of-life option for everyone eligible, not just for those who explicitly request it. It creates a culture in which patients may feel guilty about actual treatment since the “efficient option” of assisted suicide is also available.

Proponents attempt to portray assisted suicide as a “compassionate option.” It is choice to which terminally ill patients should be entitled.  In fact, instead of using the term assisted suicide, they rely on euphemisms like “death with dignity” and “aid-in-dying.” Yet these terms just hide what is really occurring: patients are killing themselves with the help of physicians. In reality, assisted suicide is not a compassionate option. Instead of accompanying patients during illness, it gives up on them. It is about upholding a particular idea of which lives are worth living, as opposed to upholding the sanctity of all human life. In the vast majority of cases, people who commit assisted suicide do so because they are dissatisfied with their quality of life, not because they are experiencing unmanageable pain. In this sense, assisted suicide is a direct threat to the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the disabled. Because these people are not experiencing what society has deemed to be an optimal quality of life, advocates claim that they should be allowed to kill themselves.

In New York, the “Medical Aid in Dying Act” (A.2383/S.3151) is the pending bill that would legalize assisted suicide. The court case Myers v. Schneiderman was a NY lawsuit that sought to recognize a right to assisted suicide in New York. Fortunately, the New York State Court of Appeals recently held that there is no constitutional right to assisted suicide. However, the fight in the state legislature is not over yet. Please read the information below on ways to take action.

Our brief in Myers v. Schneiderman case can be found here.


THE CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE

Because assisted suicide is not an option, the Catholic Church envisions an alternative. It calls upon Catholics and society at large to come to the aid of those who suffering. It urges people to recognize the fact that real human dignity is not dependent on qualities or ability. When people are terminally ill, they are to be provided with the appropriate palliative care, necessary medical treatment, and moral support. They are to be accompanied through their journey of suffering. That is what the current health care system should be aiming towards, not offering patients the “compassionate option” to kill themselves.

Every human life is sacred because it involves the creative action of God and it remains in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end (CCC 2258). God alone, the author of human life, rightly decides the end of human life. As such, there are no circumstances under which a person may take his or her own life, or take the life of another innocent person. Because assisted suicide causes the death of an innocent human person, Catholics and Catholic institutions may never condone or participate in it in any way. Assisted suicide is simply a morally impermissible form of killing, even though those participating in it believe that they have legitimate reasons.

In their statement on assisted suicide, the U.S. Catholic Bishops declare that life has meaning, even if one is terminally ill, suffering, or at the end-of-life. They offer words of reflection:

A caring community devotes more attention, not less, to members facing the most vulnerable times in their lives. When people are tempted to see their own lives as diminished in value or meaning, they most need the love and assistance of others to assure them of their inherent worth…No one should dismiss this time as useless or meaningless. Learning how to face this last stage of our earthly lives is one of the most important and meaningful things each of us will do, and caregivers who help people through this process are also doing enormously important work. As Christians we believe that even suffering itself need not be meaningless—for as Pope John Paul II showed during his final illness, suffering accepted in love can bring us closer to the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of others.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Form your conscience on end-of-life decisions

Learn the facts 

Contact New York State legislators

  • Urge legislators to oppose the “Medical Aid in Dying Act”
  • Write to legislators, meet with them, and attend their public events

Spread the word to others

Seek out Catholic end-of-life care

THINKING OF ENDING YOUR LIFE?

CLICK HERE OR DIAL 1-800-273-8255


PRAYER

Life is worth living, even if a person is terminally ill. Pray for all those who are at the end-of-life. The USCCB has prepared the intercessory prayer below.  

For the oldest man who in sickness
approaches death: that in his
weakness we may find strength,
and in his suffering see the cross
of Christ;
We pray to the Lord:

For those who have grown very old,
especially elderly parents and
godparents: that the love and respect
of their children might sustain them
and bring them joy;
We pray to the Lord:

For all who live in nursing homes,
and especially for those who are alone
or in pain: that we might cherish the
gift of their wisdom, and the perduring
example of their faith;
We pray to the Lord:

For families who have grown very old:
that we might rejoice in the gift of
their presence and cherish their wisdom;
We pray to the Lord:

For those who have grown very old,
and especially for those tempted to
die: that God might grant them
patient endurance to do his will and
serve his Gospel;
We pray to the Lord:

For all who are about to die: that
through our love, care, and devotion,
they might know the beauty of life, to
the moment of their final breath;
We pray to the Lord:

For all who are about to die,
and for their families: that God might
gently lead them home;
We pray to the Lord:

For those who are dying:
that they may await your call
with calm and dignity;
We pray to the Lord:

For those who have grown old or
weak: that we might see God’s
power in their fragility;
We pray to the Lord:

For those struggling with terrible
diseases: that each day might be a new
revelation of God’s love for them;
We pray to the Lord:

For those for whom death is near:
that all their days of walking with
the Lord might show them the way home;
We pray to the Lord:

For those tempted to despair by
constant pain: that they might join
their suffering to the Cross of Christ;
We pray to the Lord:

RESOURCES FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION

  • National Catholic Partnership on Disability: Rooted in Gospel values that affirm the dignity of every person, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) works collaboratively to ensure meaningful participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of the life of the Church and society.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
  • Make the Connection: MakeTheConnection.net connects veterans, their family members and friends, and other advocates with mental health information, local resources, and inspiring stories of recovery. Visitors can find reliable information on how to cope with challenges such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, and transitioning from service.
  • Suicide Awareness Voices of Education: Sucide Awarness Voice of Education (SAVE) was one of the nation’s first organizations dedicated to suicide prevention. Their work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. Through raising public awareness, educating communities, and equipping every person with the right tools, lives can be saved.
  • The Jed Foundation: Transitioning into adulthood can bring big changes and intense challenges. The Jed Foundation (JED) empowers teens and young adults with the skills and support to grow into healthy, thriving adults. It exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s young,

*Please note that the websites linked above are not affiliated with the Archdiocese of New York. They are provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered an explicit or implicit endorsement.

THINKING OF ENDING YOUR LIFE?

CLICK HERE OR DIAL 1-800-273-82555

Video Testimonies

Care for Creation

BACKGROUND

Creation refers to the entire universe and all that inhabit it. Though there is much debate regarding the cause and severity, the earth is currently experiencing environmental degradation. Widespread pollution, unsanitary living conditions, depleted lands, extinction of species, and harmful toxins in the atmosphere are just some of the many environmental problems. Yet proper treatment of the environment is especially important since it belongs to both current and future generations. Failure to care for creation will result in an uninhabitable earth. The poor and vulnerable will also be disproportionately targeted, as they typically occupy the areas that are degraded the most.

Misuse of creation goes beyond the environment and points to a larger crisis. Exploitation of the environment demeans what it means to be human. Humanity is called to protect the earth and live in harmony with it. When humans take advantage of the natural world, all of creation suffers.


THE CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE

Indications of God’s existence and purpose are found in creation (See Rom. 1:20). Likewise, creation is not something that can be used arbitrarily or exploited at will. Instead, humans are to show respect for God, the Creator, through their stewardship of creation (See Gen. 2:15). They are to safeguard the created world and to use their labor to enhance it. This is a difficult balance because it requires humans to recognize their limits, but also foster their creativity. However, God alone – not humanity – is sovereign over all of creation.

There is a connectedness between all of creation, linking respect for nature with respect for human life. If humans have no qualms about degrading the environment, that which they have been entrusted to protect, then it is likely that they will also have no qualms about disregarding the most vulnerable among them. Catholics cannot proclaim to respect life, but then degrade the natural world. Care for creation requires sacrifices, but it is a God-given duty.

In his Papal Encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis calls humanity to experience a conversion of heart, so that there can be a return to God’s original plan for all creation. He explains:

The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. For this reason, the ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion. It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become inconsistent. So what they all need is an “ecological conversion”, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Review Church documents on creation

Reflect on the connectedness of creation 

Take part in Catholic initiatives

Engage in eco-friendly practices 

  • Lifestyle changes may be challenging at first, but they are likely to make a positive environmental impact. Recycling, buying energy efficient appliances, using less water, installing solar panels, sharing materials, re-using items, planting trees, carpooling, and taking public transportation are all simple ways to care for creation.

Participate in environmental advocacy 


PRAYER

Our mission to care for creation must begin with prayer. Here is a prayer based on Laudato Si’.

Father of all,
Creator and ruler of the universe,
You entrusted your world to us as a gift.
Help us to care for it and all people,
that we may live in right relationship–
with You, with ourselves, with one
another, and with creation.

Christ our Lord,
both divine and human,
You lived among us and died for our sins.
Help us to imitate your love for the human
family by recognizing that we are all
connected–
to our brothers and sisters around the
world, to those in poverty impacted by
environmental devastation, and to future
generations.

Holy Spirit,
giver of wisdom and love,
You breathe life in us and guide us.
Help us to live according to your vision,
stirring to action the hearts of all–
individuals and families, communities of
faith, and civil and political leaders.

Triune God, help us to hear the cry of those in
poverty, and the cry of the earth, so that we
may together care for our common home.

Amen.

Gender Ideology

BACKGROUND

Gender ideology refers to theory that gender is not determined by one’s biological sex, but is a separate matter that is defined according to the subjective desires of the individual. The New York City Commission on Human Rights has bought into this ideology and now defines gender as “an individual’s actual or perceived sex, gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned at birth.” To these advocates, one’s biological sex is an arbitrary classification that is assigned at birth, and has no intrinsic connection with one’s actual sexual identity. As per gender ideology, one’s biological sex may be male, but one may identify as female if one so chooses.

This is a seriously flawed ideology. It asserts that the idea of being male and female has no inherent meaning, that sexual identity can be defined independently of physical reality, and that the physical differences between men and women are ultimately irrelevant. It also denies the unity of body, mind and soul, and it rejects the logical belief that biological sexual difference is essential to human nature. It treats the body as a mere physical shell that can be used or manipulated as one wishes. Yet gender ideology is especially damaging because it denies a fundamental truth about reality. Namely, there are things that exist independently of one’s beliefs, language usage, feelings, conceptual ideology, etc. The fundamental differences between men and women do not disappear or are rendered insignificant simply because someone wishes it to be so.

In terms of the law, gender ideology turns anti-discrimination law on its head. The traditional understanding of anti-discrimination law is that there are certain inherent qualities (i.e., race, sex, national origin, disability) that absolutely cannot be taken into account when making certain decisions (i.e., employment). This is an expression of the value that all persons must be treated equally under the law. Yet the drive to include “gender identity” in anti-discrimination laws actually does the opposite. It requires that people not only recognize the existence of this alleged quality, but also make it the essential factor in granting favorable treatment when making decisions (i.e., about bathroom access). In this one case, failure to use “gender identity” would be made unlawful.


THE CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE

The debate over gender is, at its heart, not just about bathroom access or being kind to those who have difficulty accepting their sexual identity. It is about the nature of the human person and the relationship between the human person and the created world. Fortunately, the Catholic Church proposes a vision of human nature and sexuality that allows every person to develop and flourish, just as God desires.

In the Catholic tradition, human sexuality can only be properly understood and expressed according to the fundamental truth that every human person is created male or female by the will of God. The Church holds that a person’s biological sex is part of the divine plan and that every person should acknowledge and accept his or her sexual identity based on the complementarity of the sexes. All humans are either male or female, regardless of how they might feel or how they might change their anatomy. As a result, there is no need for a notion of “gender identity” that is at odds with one’s biological sex. Every person is called to develop their sexual identity in a way that integrates their masculinity or femininity, and their call to live in relationship with others.

The human anatomy is one of the ways that male or female identity is revealed, but genetics, physiology, neurology, and psychology all recognize the intrinsic differences between the sexes. There are differences in the ways that men and women experience the world, have feelings, and form relationships. Yet the differences between men and women do not in any way imply inequality, but instead point to the complementarity between the sexes.

In his meeting with the Polish bishops, Pope Francis connects makes the interesting connection between gender theory and ideological colonization. He explains:

I’d like to conclude with this point, because behind this are ideologies. In Europe, in America, in Latin America, in Africa, and in some countries of Asia, there are real ideological colonizations. And one of them – I’ll say it clearly with name and surname – is gender. Today children – children! – are taught at school that everyone can choose their sex. And why do they teach this? Because the books belong to people and institutions that give money. They are the ideological colonizations, paid for by highly influential countries. And this is terrible. Speaking with Pope Benedict, who is fine and lucid, he said to me: “Holiness, this is the era of sin against God the Creator! He’s clever! God has created man and woman; God has created the world thus… and we’re doing the opposite. God gave us an ‘uncultivated’ state, in order for us to turn it into culture; and then, with that culture, we do things which bring us back to that uncultivated state! We should think about what Pope Benedict said: “This is the era of the sin against God the Creator.” And that will help us.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Understand the concepts

Discuss the flaws in gender ideology with others, especially young people

  • Gender ideology is often indoctrinated in schools and universities, so be prepared to discuss these concepts particularly with teenagers and young adults. Intuitively, people recognize that there is real significance to being biologically male or biologically female, and that one cannot choose a gender identity at odds with this biological reality.

Live the alternative to gender ideology

  • The complementarity between the sexes is not meant to be a source of oppression or inequality, but testifies to the beauty of God’s plan for humanity. Lasting peace is achieved when biological sex and gender identity are in harmony.

Contact state and federal representatives 


PRAYER

Cultivating the virtue of chastity is the first step in embracing God-given sexuality identity. Here is a prayer for chastity.

Jesus, Fortress of mankind,
You are Immaculate as God and Man!
Bless me with Your infinite graces,
That I may remain in a state of purity.
Strengthen my body, spirit and soul
To continually reflect Your chastity.
Protect my soul in its daily struggles,
Guiding it to ponder on Your Godliness.
Defend me from the forces of evil,
Those that seek to acquire my soul:
I am truly Yours forever and ever.
Holy is my King, the Conqueror of sin!

Human Trafficking

BACKGROUND

Human trafficking is a modern type of slavery. It is the trade of humans for the purposes of sex slavery and/or forced labor. Victims – usually women and children – are forced into prostitution, pornography, and other forms of sexual exploitation. Forced labor, both sexual and non-sexual, involves the use of threats and coercion to reduce people to involuntary servitude. Human trafficking is present in our city and state, but frequently goes unnoticed because it takes many ambiguous forms, and its victims live in the shadows.

The number of victims of human trafficking is staggering. The UN estimates that there are over 1.5 million victims in the United States, Canada, and Europe alone, excluding the number of victims from all other regions. Women and children are disproportionately targeted: 98% of sex trafficking victims are female, while children make up 26% of all victims – over 5.5 million child victims around the world.

ARE YOU A VICTIM OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING?

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO MIGHT BE?

CLICK HERE OR DIAL 1-888-373-7888


THE CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE

Human trafficking is a serious violation of the dignity of the human person. It treats humans as objects to be bought, sold, transferred, and exploited, often for the purposes of the sex industry. Regardless of its forms, victims are manipulated and coerced into performing acts – both sexual and non-sexual – against their will.

Pope Francis has repeatedly condemned human trafficking as a “crime against humanity.” In his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis denounced human trafficking in the strongest terms:

I have always been distressed at the lot of those who are victims of various kinds of human trafficking. How I wish that all of us would hear God’s cry: “Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9). Where is your brother or sister who is enslaved? Where is the brother and sister whom you are killing each day in clandestine warehouses, in rings of prostitution, in children used for begging, in exploiting undocumented labour? Let us not look the other way. There is greater complicity than we think. The issue involves everyone! This infamous network of crime is now well established in our cities, and many people have blood on their hands as a result of their comfortable and silent complicity. 


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Stay informed

Host information sessions to educate others

Join an organization that directly works to end human trafficking

Contact public officials

The United States and New York State have laws against human trafficking, but these laws can be strengthened and more aggressively enforced.

Report trafficking concerns


PRAYER

One of the best things we can do is pray for the victims of human trafficking. It is especially appropriate to pray to Saint Josephine Bakhita, who was herself a victim of trafficking, having been sold into slavery as a young girl.

St. Josephine Bakhita,
you were sold into slavery as a child
and endured untold hardship and suffering.
Once liberated from your physical
enslavement, you found true redemption in
your encounter with Christ and his Church.

O St. Bakhita, assist all those who are
trapped in a state of slavery;
Intercede with God on their behalf
so that they will be released from their
chains of captivity. Those whom man
enslaves, let God set free. Provide comfort to
survivors of slavery and let them look to
you as an example of hope and faith.
Help all survivors find healing from their
wounds. We ask for your prayers and
intercessions for those enslaved among us.

Amen.

Immigration Reform

BACKGROUND

The current immigration system is undoubtedly flawed. Ineffective border enforcement strategies have contributed to numerous deaths, many immigrants have been forced to live in an unauthorized capacity, and family members of lawful permanent residents have been required to wait years for reunion. Overall, there is a pressing need to balance the interests of border security with the interests of people seeking a better life in the United States.

A humane immigration policy must reconcile competing interests. It must not excuse unlawful entry or circumventions of immigration laws, but it must respond to the realities of separated families and growing labor demands. A promising approach is a comprehensive system of immigration that upholds the dignity of those transferring to a new country, while also including some border enforcement measures.


THE CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE

According to section 2241 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there are two major duties with regards to immigration. The first duty is to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the human person. People have the right to immigrate when needed and governments must accommodate this right as best as possible. The second duty is to secure the border of a nation and enact laws for the sake of the common good. Good government has the right to enforce laws and all people must obey the legitimate laws established by the government.

The Catholic Church in the United States is characteristically an immigrant Church, with a long history of embracing diverse newcomers and providing assistance and pastoral care. Catholics have an explicit moral obligation to “welcome the stranger” (see Matt. 25:31-46) and treat them with proper dignity. This is the guiding principle for immigration reform.

In their pastoral letter Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity, the U.S. Catholic Bishops declare:

In this context of opportunity and challenge that is the new immigration, we bishops of the United States reaffirm the commitment of the Church, in the words of Pope John Paul II, to work “so that every person’s dignity is respected, the immigrant is welcomed as a brother or sister, and all humanity forms a united family which knows how to appreciate with discernment the different cultures which comprise it” (Message for World Migration Day 2000, no. 5). We call upon all people of good will, but Catholics especially, to welcome the newcomers in their neighborhoods and schools, in their places of work and worship, with heartfelt hospitality, openness, and eagerness both to help and to learn from our brothers and sisters, of whatever race, religion, ethnicity, or background.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Get Informed

Support Catholic initiatives to welcome immigrants

Contact government representatives 

Welcome immigrants into the community

Consider making a monetary contribution


PRAYER

We must pray especially for migrant families who are caught in the midst of immigration reform.

Good and gracious God,
we thank you for the gift of families.
We are grateful for all of the joy and love
that they bring into our lives, and we ask
that you provide special protection for all
families, particularly those who face
hardships as they move in search of a
better life.

Show mercy to those who travel in
danger, and lead them to a place of safety
and peace. Comfort those who are alone
and afraid because their families have been
torn apart by violence and injustice.

As we reflect upon the difficult journey
that the Holy Family faced as refugees in
Egypt, help us to remember the suffering of
all migrant families. Through the
intercession of Mary our Mother, and
St. Joseph the Worker, her spouse, we pray
that all migrants may be reunited with their
loved ones and find the meaningful work
they seek.

Open our hearts so that we may provide
hospitality for all who come in search of
refuge. Give us the courage to welcome
every stranger as Christ in our midst. We
ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your
Son, who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

Amen.

Download the prayer card.

Marriage

BACKGROUND

Marriage is and can only be the union of one man and one woman. It is a permanent, faithful, and fruitful partnership between members of the opposite sex, established by their free mutual consent. It has two purposes: the good of the spouses, known as the unitive purpose, as well as the procreation and education of children. It is the only institution that entirely unites a man and a woman with each other and with any child who comes from their union. Couples in cohabitating relationships or in same-sex relationships may experience certain benefits, but they cannot experience the fullness and completeness of what marriage offers. Yet it is also important to recognize that marriage is a natural institution that predates government. Every human society has acknowledged that the sexual union of man and woman is important, especially since it creates the next generation. The future of society depends on healthy marriages.

As of June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that states must recognize same-sex unions as if they were marriages. This is a tragic decision that denies the truth of the human person and usurps the authority of the people and the states to define the law regarding marriage.


THE CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE

Marriage is an original gift from God to humanity. Although sin entered the world damaging the marital relationship, this gift was not lost, but redeemed by Christ and raised to a sacrament. Sacred Scripture proclaims that God created humanity in “His image” as “male and female” (Gen. 1:27). So unique is this relationship that the marital union makes of the husband and wife “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Procreation, Scripture teaches, is a gift from God. When spouses conceive new life, they participate in God’s creative power.

While Christ elevates Christian marriage to a sacrament, the complementarity of the sexes and the natural meaning of marriage can be known through reason without appealing to Scripture. Sexual difference, male and female, is a biological reality. It is also essential for marriage and children. Our bodies, as male and female, have complementary significance, and this is the basis by which marriage is unable to be redefined.

In his official statement with regards to the U.S. Supreme Court decision on “same-sex” marriage, Archbishop Kurtz explains:

The unique meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is inscribed in our bodies as male and female. The protection of this meaning is a critical dimension of the ‘integral ecology’ that Pope Francis has called us to promote. Mandating marriage redefinition across the country is a tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us, especially children. The law has a duty to support every child’s basic right to be raised, where possible, by his or her married mother and father in a stable home… I call upon all people of good will to join us in proclaiming the goodness, truth, and beauty of marriage as rightly understood for millennia, and I ask all in positions of power and authority to respect the God-given freedom to seek, live by, and bear witness to the truth.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Understand the Catholic view of marriage
The Catholic understanding of marriage is not about oppressing men and women or about restricting freedom. Instead, it is based on what is best for the human person. Marriage, although challenging, enables men and women to flourish, and lead happy and stable lives.

Witness to others
Men and women who are married couples are called to be witnesses to others. They are to demonstrate the realities of marriage, but also the joy and satisfaction of being in the permanent, faithful, and fruitful partnership that is only available through marriage. This can be accomplished by mentoring couples preparing for marriage at parishes, teaching marriage preparation classes, and by simply serving as examples to family, friends, and community members. Contact the Family Life Office for more information on how to get involved.

Engage in political activism


PRAYER

The defense of marriage must always be rooted in prayer. Here is a beautiful prayer for marriage from the USCCB.

God our Father,
we give you thanks for the gift of marriage:
the bond of life and love, and the font of
the family.

The love of husband and wife enriches
your Church with children, fills the world
with a multitude of spiritual fruitfulness
and service, and is the sign of the love of
your Son, Jesus Christ, for his Church.

The grace of Jesus flowed forth at Cana at
the request of the Blessed Mother. May your
Son, through the intercession of Mary, pour
out upon us a new measure of the Gifts of
the Holy Spirit as we join with all people
of good will to promote and protect the
unique beauty of marriage.

May your Holy Spirit enlighten our society
to treasure the heroic love of husband and
wife, and guide our leaders to sustain and
protect the singular place of mothers and
fathers in the lives of their children.

Father, we ask that our prayers be joined to
those of the Virgin Mary, that your Word may
transform our service so as to safeguard the
incomparable splendor of marriage. We ask
all these things through Christ our Lord,

Amen.

Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.

Persecution of Christians

BACKGROUND

The persecution of Christians around the world, especially in the Middle East, has become a major humanitarian catastrophe. Massive numbers of Christians are being subjected to horrific violence, displacement, sexual slavery, and even death, explicitly because of their faith. In fact, the death of Christians and other religious minorities by the so-called Islamic State has been recently declared genocide. Yet this crisis has not been taken seriously in the West, and few governments are acting in response.

Because of their religion, the majority of the Christians in the Middle East have been forced to flee their homes under the threat of death, while those who remain live in constant fear. In fact, the UN has identified close to 2.5 million internally displaced people across Iraq, and over 12 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria. Almost 4 million have fled Syria as refugees, and over 7.5 million are internally displaced. This is especially concerning since many of these refugees live in camps that do not have adequate resources, they are moving to countries that do not have the ability to sustain them, and they may never again return to their homes.


THE CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE

The Middle East is a region of immense importance to the Catholic faith. It is the birthplace of Christianity and the land of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Christians have lived in this area since New Testament times and it is home to many ancient Christian communities, including the Assyrians, Melkites, Armenians, Chaldeans, Copts, and Maronites. Without the Christian population, a fundamental part of Middle Eastern identity will be lost and the harms of this loss will be experienced by all.

Unfortunately, the persecution of Christians in the Middle East has become very serious. It is the most extreme form of religious persecution in contemporary times and has resulted in genocide. Those who participate in the genocide participate under the burden of mortal sin. Yet Catholics around the globe, no matter how far away, are impacted by the sufferings of their fellow Christians. Catholics are called to stand in solidarity and help alleviate the plight of persecuted Christians around the world, particularly in the Middle East.

In his address to the members of the diplomatic corps, Pope Francis references fundamentalist terrorism and the throwaway culture as having facilitated the Christian persecution in the Middle East. He also calls upon the international community to take action:

The Middle East is tragically embroiled in other conflicts which have lasted far too long, with chilling repercussions, due also to the spread of fundamentalist terrorism in Syria and in Iraq. This phenomenon is a consequence of the throwaway culture being applied to God. Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext. In the face of such unjust aggression, which also strikes Christians and other ethnic and religious groups in the region – the Yazidis for example – a unanimous response is needed, one which, within the framework of international law, can end the spread of acts of violence, restore harmony and heal the deep wounds which the ongoing conflicts have caused. Here, in your presence, I appeal to the entire international community, as I do to the respective governments involved, to take concrete steps to bring about peace and to protect all those who are victims of war and persecution, driven from their homes and their homeland.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Learn about Christian persecution in the Middle East

Contact federal officials

  • Urge federal officials to support international religious freedom legislation
  • Advocate for humanitarian assistance in the Middle East

Fast for persecuted Christians

  • The three day fast of Nineveh (Baoutha) is required in the Orthodox Church, and is practiced by Chaldean Catholics, but it can also be practiced by other Christians.

Donate to agencies that help persecuted Christians


PRAYER

The sufferings of persecuted Christians can always be eased through prayer. The Knights of Columbus have prepared an excellent prayer for persecuted Christians.

O God of all the nations,
the One God who is and was and always
will be, in your providence you willed that
your Church be united to the suffering of
your Son.

Look with mercy on your servants who are
persecuted for their faith in you. Grant them
perseverance and courage to be worthy
imitators of Christ. Bring your wisdom upon
leaders of nations to work for peace among
all peoples.

May your Spirit open conversion for those
who contradict your will, that we may live
in harmony. Give us the grace to be united
in truth and freedom, and to always seek
your will in our lives.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us

Download the prayer card.

Religious Freedom

BACKGROUND

Religious freedom is the freedom to believe and act according to one’s faith. It is a fundamental principle and constitutionally protected right in the United States. Yet it is more than just the ability to attend religious services or pray in private. It is the ability to practice one’s faith openly, without undue interference from the government or any others. Without religious freedom, it is very difficult to live one’s faith and engage in the works prescribed by it. Furthermore, in the absence of religious freedom, all people suffer, since they are deprived of the contributions to education, health care, and social services made by people of faith.

There are a number of threats to the religious freedom of the Church and the religious freedom of individuals. Employers have been required to provide health insurance that offers immoral services, medical professionals have been stigmatized for their inability to perform abortions and assisted suicides, college students have been silenced on campuses, and educators have been forced to abide by gender ideology in their classrooms. Religious people have been asked to engage in behaviors that go against the tenets of their faith or suffer the consequences. For more information on current cases, see Alliance Defending Freedom and The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Most notably, in August 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), acting under the authority given to them by the Affordable Care Act, announced regulations to define what had to be covered by health insurance policies under the term “preventive services.” These regulations required all employers and health insurance policies to cover contraceptives, including drugs that cause early abortions, and sterilizations. There was an extremely narrow exemption for religious employers, but no exemption for religious individuals or insurance companies with objections. This has led to the lawsuit Zubik v. Burwell (also known as the “HHS Mandate case” or the “Little Sisters of the Poor case”).


THE CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE

Since the Second Catholic Council, the Church has recognized the right to religious freedom. Dignitatis Humanae explicitly states:

The human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that in matters religious no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs… whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits…This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed. Thus it is to become a civil right.

A large portion of the Catholic faith involves the ability to go out into the world and witness to others. This is why it is vital for Catholics to have the freedom to live their faith. Catholicism is not meant to be relegated to the private lives of individuals, but is meant to influence society at large. Yet religious freedom is especially important in a society that is increasingly hostile to Catholic values. Catholics cannot be coerced into behaving in ways that are contrary to their faith or into accepting an ideology that is at odds with their beliefs.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Review Church teaching on the freedom to live the faith

Be aware of the current threats to religious freedom

  • Overview from the USCCB
  • Contact public officials to support conscience protection bills

Participate in a Fortnight for Freedom

  • Each year, parishes around the country arrange special events to highlight the importance of religious freedom. The Fortnight for Freedom is from June 21, the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, to July 4, Independence Day.
  • Hosting a prayer vigil or movie night and discussion are some effective ways to celebrate. A Man For All Seasons, For Greater Glory, and Becket are all movies that highlight the importance of religious freedom.

PRAYER

We must pray fervently to uphold our religious freedom. Here is also a prayer from the USCCB.

O God Our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness. You have called us as your people
and given us the right and the duty to
worship you, the only true God, and your Son,
Jesus Christ.

Through the power and working of your
Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in
the midst of the world, bringing the light
and the saving truth of the Gospel to every
corner of society.

We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious
liberty. Give us the strength of mind and
heart to readily defend our freedoms when
they are threatened; give us courage in
making our voices heard on behalf of the
rights of your Church and the freedom of
conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and
daughters gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our
nation, so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our
grandchildren, and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation,
under God, indivisible, with liberty and
justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Surrogate Parenting

BACKGROUND

Surrogate Parenting is an arrangement where a surrogate mother carries a child on behalf of a commissioning parent or parents. After giving birth to the child, the surrogate mother gives the child to the commissioning parents, forgoing any right or responsibility to the child. Full surrogacy occurs when the surrogate mother and the child share no genetic material. The child is conceived through in-vitro fertilization, using the sperm and egg of the commissioning parents or donors. In contrast, partial surrogacy occurs when the surrogate mother and the child share some genetic material. Regardless of whether the surrogacy is full or partial, it will be classified as either commercial or altruistic. Commercial surrogacy is where the surrogate mother is paid for her services, while altruistic surrogacy is where the surrogate mother volunteers to carry the child.

In all of its forms, surrogacy is fraught with serious ethical issues. Children are human beings with inherent rights and dignity, not products to be commissioned. Likewise, pregnancy is more than a mere commercial service and women deserve to be viewed as more than incubators.


THE CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE

The Church teaches that although individuals involved in surrogacy arrangements may have good intentions, surrogate parenting is still inherently flawed and must always be opposed. No type of regulation can remedy its dangers. Namely, surrogacy treats children as commodities, intentionally fractures families, and exploits women, particularly poor women.

The Church explains that not only is human life sacred, but also the means by which human life comes into existence. Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple, are gravely immoral. Likewise, in Section 2378 of the Catechism, the Church makes clear that a child is not something owed, but a gift. A child possesses genuine rights, such as the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.”

In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis expresses the perspective that surrogacy in not empowering towards women, but is oppressive. He explains:

History is burdened by the excesses of patriarchal cultures that considered women inferior, yet in our own day, we cannot overlook the use of surrogate mothers and the exploitation and commercialization of the female body in the current media culture. 

Surrogacy subjects women to various physical and psychological harms. Women need protection from exploitation, not additional opportunities to be exploited.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

Learn more about surrogacy

Contact local officials 

Raise awareness that surrogacy harms women

Encourage adoption as an alternative to surrogacy


PRAYER

Surrogacy is an offense against human dignity. We must pray for a greater respect of life.

Heavenly Father, the beauty and dignity of
human life was the crowning of your creation.

You further ennobled that life when your
Son became one with us in his incarnation.

Help us to realize the sacredness of human
life and to respect it from the moment of
conception until the last moment at death.

Give us courage to speak with truth and
love and with conviction in defence of life.

Help us to extend the gentle hand of mercy
and forgiveness to those who do not
reverence your gift of life.

To all, grant pardon for the times we have
failed to be grateful for your precious gift
of life or to respect it in others.

We ask this in Jesus’ Name.

Amen.

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