1. Republicans introduced measures in Congress to block a city effort to allow assisted suicide., By Fenit Nirappil, The Washington Post, January 13, 2017, Pg. B1.

Congressional Republicans on Thursday introduced measures to block a D.C. law allowing doctors to prescribe fatal drugs to terminally ill patients, invoking their rarely used power and setting up a battle between Congress and the city over self-determination.

It also thrusts the contentious issue of assisted suicide onto the national stage.  After more than a year of intense debate in the District, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) signed legislation in December authorizing terminally ill people to legally end their lives – joining Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California and Colorado.

To block the District’s “Death with Dignity Act”, Congress must pass a disapproval resolution introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio.) – and the president must sign it – within 30 legislative days, likely the end of February.

“Washington, DC’s assisted suicide bill would erode our culture’s respect for life, and possibly lead to the mistreatment and exploitation of the disabled and most vulnerable among us,” Lankford said in a statement.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who chairs the House committee overseeing District affairs, said Monday he wants to block the law.

District leaders vigorously oppose any attempts from Congress to intervene with local laws. Congress hasn’t successfully blocked a District law from taking effect since 1991, but has since used its appropriation powers to stymie other local initiatives.

Congressional attempts to void Oregon’s first-in-the-nation 1997 medical aid-in-dying law failed. But Congress did successfully pass a law barring it from appropriating funds in support of assisted suicide, and opponents say the D.C. legislation may run afoul of that law.

D.C.’s right-to-die legislation carries a $125,000 price-tag for modifying the city’s death registration system to collect data on people who use life-ending drugs authorized by the law.


2. In 2018 Synod questionnaire, Vatican asks world’s bishops to listen to young people, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, January 13, 2017.

The Vatican is asking the world’s national bishops’ conferences to respond to a questionnaire about how they serve the needs of young people in their countries in advance of a worldwide meeting of prelates set for 2018 that will consider the church’s relationship with youths.

Issuing a document Friday in preparation for the meeting, known as a Synod of Bishops, the Vatican takes an open and attentive tone, focusing not on how better to teach or preach at young people but rather how to listen to their needs and understand the changes the digital era has brought to their lives.

The Synod office says it plans to include “all young people” in the process through a new website with questions they can answer “on their expectations and their lives.” Bishop Fabio Fabene, undersecretary of the Synod office, said Friday that the website will be launched in May and will be located at http://www.sinodogiovani.va/.

Friday’s document continues with a three-step reflection on the world’s current social and cultural dynamics, on the steps of vocational discernment, and on the “key points” of a “pastoral vocational program for youth.”

The first part of the document gives a lot of attention to the changes taking place in the world, focusing particularly on young people who are facing poverty or other difficulties.

In the second part of the document the Vatican speaks about ministry to young people as a process of accompanying the stirrings of their consciences, citing from the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral constitution Gaudium et spes to call the conscience “an inviolable place where a promising invitation is present.”

The third part of the document calls on bishops and priests to walk with young people and to help them by supporting their ideas for the church, quoting from Francis apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.


3. The Captivating Sanctity of Fr. Sal, By Fr. Roger Landry, The Anchor, January 13, 2017.

The Church exists for the glorification of God and the sanctification of God’s children, and so it’s unsurprising that in the Church we will encounter those who by the radiant light of good works give glory to the Father in heaven (Mt 5:16).

On January 9, we marked the twentieth anniversary of the transitus into eternity of someone whose life had this type of impact on me and on so many others in Massachusetts and beyond, whose death was an exclamation point on a life fully given to God and others.

Father Sal Ferigle died, I like to say, as a martyr of the Sacrament of Confession. On Christmas night 1996, at Opus Dei’s Elmbrook University Center near Harvard, he was approached by Father John Agnew to hear his Confession. Although he looked a little pale, he generously consented. After hearing the confession, giving advice, praying the prayer of absolution, and concluding the Sacrament, he said to Fr. John, “You know, I really don’t feel well.” It turns out that during the Confession he was having a severe heart attack that he kept concealed until the Sacrament was complete.

Though he would never recover, he lasted long enough to encourage people — hundreds of lay men and women, priests, bishops and even a Cardinal — from his hospital bed at Mount Auburn Hospital to recognize, as he repeatedly said, “omnia in bonum,” that “everything works for the good for those who love God” (Rom 8:28).

Father Sal was born in 1923 in Valencia, Spain. On his way to graduating from the University of Valencia with degrees in chemistry and physics, he met St. Josemaria Escriva and discerned a vocation to Opus Dei and to living and proclaiming the universal call to holiness in the midst of ordinary life. At 25, with Servant of God Fr. Joseph Muzquiz, he was sent by St. Josemaria to bring Opus Dei to the United States, beginning in Chicago, where persevering through evangelical poverty and the vicissitudes that often accompany and purify God’s new foundations, he began to spread a zeal for holiness while getting his doctorate in Physics. After teaching at the Illinois Institute of Technology for two years, he went to Rome to obtain a doctorate in theology and was ordained a priest. As a priest he would touch so many.

Fr. Sal was a great evangelizer. He recapitulated many of the experiences of the apostles in spreading God’s call to holiness not only in Chicago, Milwaukee, Washington, St. Louis and Boston, but also in Japan, the Philippines and Australia. When he arrived in Cambridge in 1971 and saw the need for an apostolate among Spanish-speaking immigrants, with entrepreneurial ingenuity and indefatigability, he immediately got something off the ground.

He was likewise a tremendous catechist, whose courses and notes on the faith were legendary among university students, lay people, seminarians and clergy. For many years, he served as volunteer Director of Religious Education and RCIA director at St. Aidan’s Church in Brookline.

He was a much sought-after confessor and spiritual director, particularly to the young, serving as chaplain for young men at Elmbrook in Cambridge and at Bayridge University Center near Boston University for young women.

Finally, he was a tremendous lover of our Lady. He used to finish every homily and preached meditation by tenderly invoking her.

I have every confidence that Mary was praying for him not only on January 9, 1997, but throughout his life, helping him to imitate her fiat to God’s work within him and accompanying him in living out the mystery of the Visitation, as he brought the blessed Fruit of her womb to so many others through his preaching, his celebration of the Sacraments and his care for those for whom Christ died, and as he intoned his own beautiful Magnificat for all that the Almighty had done for him with a melody of life that those of us who were blessed to know him will never be able to forget.


4. Giving the Unborn a Voice: March for Life 2017 Preview: Countless thousands will be marching across the country in companion events to the national March for Life., By Joseph Pronechen, National Catholic Register, January 12, 2017.

On Jan. 27, tens of thousands of people are expected to take part in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. (broadcast live by EWTN).

But countless thousands more — adults, teens, school groups and families who cannot travel to the nation’s capital — will be marching in companion events held across the country, praying for the end of abortion, which has claimed nearly 60 million unborn babies in the past 44 years.

On Jan. 13, the 11th annual Charlotte March and Mass for Life (MarchforLifeCharlotte.org) in North Carolina begins with Mass. Main coordinator Tina Witt said that while the march averages up to 500 people, speakers are often major pro-life figures, such as Father Frank Pavone from Priests for Life, and speakers from Human Life International.

In colder climes on Jan. 14, the New Hampshire Right to Life (NHRTl.org) begins its March for Life with a memorial service for unborn children at Concord Landfill, where some years ago their remains were discovered to have been dumped. Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Concord follows; then the marchers will walk past an abortion business to the State House, before hearing speaker Jennifer Lahl, founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network.

As NHRL President Jane Cormier told the Register, “Typically, we have 400-600 people attend our event annually.”

The 11th annual March for Life St. Augustine (MarchforLifeStAugustine.com) in Florida will take place on Jan. 14. According to founder and coordinator May Oliver, this year’s theme is “A Call to Be Brave.”

“There’s a lot of interest and excitement,” Oliver [Gans Turner of National Right to Life] said. “Every year, it grows larger. We had over 3,000 on the 10th anniversary.”

The following week, the March & Stand for Life Jacksonville will take place Jan. 23 at the U.S. federal courthouse.

Also on Jan. 14, the North Texas March for Life (DallasMarchforLife.com) promises to be another pro-life bonanza.

“We generally have about 10,000 people marching each year,” Kyllen Wright, president of the event, told the Register.

Back north, this year’s March for Life Chicago (MarchforLife-Chicago.org) on Jan. 15, sponsored by Illinois Right to Life and others, has several featured speakers, including Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich.

“Last year, we had 5,000, and it was pretty cold,” said Regina D’Amico, program manager for Illinois Right to Life.

Westward in the Rockies, Celebrate Life and March Denver 2017 (RespectLifeDenver.org) expect thousands of participants on Jan. 14.

In addition, California was to see the Walk for Life West Coast and One Life L.A. events on Jan. 21.


5. O’Malley says autonomy can be a threat to the common good, By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, January 12, 2017.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, a close adviser to Pope Francis, has said that economic autonomy is a healthy thing when it’s placed at the service of the common good, but it’s dangerous if it suggests the lack of any moral limits or any sense of responsibility.

The Second Vatican Council endorsed autonomy in Gaudium et Spes, its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, when it defines that “created things and societies themselves enjoy their own laws and values which must be gradually deciphered, put to use and regulated by men,” O’Malley said.

Yet Vatican II also criticized autonomy when it is “interpreted apart from moral limits and in isolation from any religious meaning,” the cardinal said. But “when work and creativity are located within a moral and religious framework, together they serve to enhance human dignity and social justice.”

O’Malley made his remarks at a conference, “Erroneous Autonomy: The Dignity of Work,” Jan. 10 at The Catholic University of America that was co-sponsored by the university’s Institute of Policy Research and Catholic Studies and the AFL-CIO.

“St. John XXIII called for a country’s economic and social goals to include consideration of the international common good,” the cardinal said. “The church also recognized the need for international institutions and agreements to address the growing complexity of an interdependent world.”

The saint’s words carry over to the Vatican’s current inhabitant, Pope Francis. “In his words and actions, Pope Francis has been a strong public advocate for the dignity of labor, including making interventions when companies were intending significant elimination of jobs. He has argued strongly that in the midst of the forces of technology and globalization, people cannot be reduced to arguments for greater efficiency,” O’Malley said.

Bishop Robert J. McElroy of San Diego, who also addressed the two previous Erroneous Autonomy conferences in 2014 and 2015, spoke this time about “solidarity in society as the alternative pathway to the various forms of erroneous autonomy which flourish under different labels in American society but are linked by a radical individualism.”

He identified three such manifestations as “the sovereignty of markets,” “the technocratic paradigm” and nationalism.

“As Catholic social teaching has made clear in every moment of the modern era, free markets do not constitute a first principle of economic justice,” McElroy said.


6. Syria’s Catholic Leader Calls For End To Western Sanctions, By Vatican Radio, January 12, 2017.

The leader of Syria’s Catholic Church [Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III Younan]  has urged the West and the United Nations to immediately end sanctions against his country and to stop supporting rebels, saying this is the only way to find a solution to a war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

He also expressed concern about the kidnapping of many Christians, including Bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi, who have been missing since their abduction in the northern city of Aleppo on April 22, 2013.

With the war ongoing, as many as 600,000 Christians have fled, and thousands died. Those staying behind are facing multiple challenges: they are in the crossfire in fighting between opponents and supporters of President Bashar Assad or face attacks by the Islamic State group and other militants.

Yet the Syrian church leader says he hopes Christian refugees will one day return to Syria, after Russian-backed Syrian forces “freed” the eastern part of the devestated Aleppo.


7. Love God now – because you might not have tomorrow, Pope says, By Hannah Brockhaus, CNA/EWTN News, January 12, 2017, 8:56 AM.

Pope Francis reflected on Thursday how each person, not knowing what will happen in the future, has only “today” to love God and open their heart to the Holy Spirit – while the temptation to put things off is foolish, because there may not be another day.

“I do not say this in order to scare you, but simply to say that our life is the present moment: today or never,” he said Jan. 12. “I think upon this. Tomorrow will be the eternal tomorrow, without sunset, with the Lord, forever. If I am faithful to this moment.”

In his homily at Mass, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s first reading, which comes from the Letter to the Hebrews and says, “Oh, that today you would hear his voice, ‘harden not your hearts…’”

And a few lines later: “Encourage yourselves daily while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.”

For ourselves then, he said, we must search our hearts, asking ourselves the questions: “how does it go, my present moment, in the presence of the Lord? And my heart, how is it? Is it open? Is it solid in the faith?” Does it leave space for “the Lord’s love?”

With these questions, he said, “we ask the Lord for the grace of which every one of us has need.”