Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Planned Parenthood youth website promotes pornography to teenagers

Editor's Note: This article may contain quotes offensive to some readers

CNA STAFF, Feb 27, 2008 / 06:14 am (CNA).- A Planned Parenthood website for teenagers is promoting pornography to young people, Cybercast News Service reports.

A 2007 article on the Planned Parenthood-sponsored website advises pornography use as a “lower-risk form of outercourse.” "Many couples can read or watch sexy stories or pictures together," the article states. "They can also share or act out sex fantasies.”

Another advice piece, “Porn vs. Reality,” warns that it is against federal law for anyone under 18 to view pornography. The article then says “however, not everyone follows the rules, and you may run across some porn before you turn 18.” The article says that many people enjoy pornography “alone or with a partner.” It continues, “People have different ideas of what is arousing, and there are many different kinds of porn that appeal to people's different interests."

On the website’s “Ask the Experts” page, one writer assures a student concerned pornography use will affect his grades that “there is no correlation between using pornography and getting bad grades in school.” The writer assured another teenager that masturbation and pornography use did not constitute cheating on his girlfriend.

Cris Clapp, congressional liaison for the anti-pornography group Enough is Enough, told Cybercast News Service that the website lacked key information. “Overall has painted a picture that pornography is harmless fun," he said. Clapp noted that internet pornography includes very graphic content, including violent sexual images.

Clapp cited the November 10, 2005 congressional testimony of author and family therapist Jill Manning, who said, "Children and adolescents are considered the most vulnerable audience of sexually explicit material."

Manning told congress that youth are easily coerced into viewing or producing pornography, and have a limited ability to process material they encounter, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. They can be victims of others’ pornography consumption, and their sexual and social development can be negatively affected by exposure to false or traumatic messages about sexuality and relationships. Pornography also encourages unrealistic expectations in youth about their future relationships.

"However, this legal reality is rapidly losing momentum as widespread availability and accessibility of pornography normalizes illegal exposure," she also said.

Clapp told Cybercast News Service parents needed to be involved in the education of their children. "Unfortunately, parents are outsourcing their responsibility to talk to their kids about healthy sexuality to teachers, the culture and sites like, without any understanding about the sort of misguided messages that our children are hearing," she added.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Sacredness of Life and the Real Presence

The Sacredness of Life and the Real Presence
from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey

According to recent statistics, over one billion people use the Internet. The Internet grew out of a government experiment. In the 1960’s, the U.S. Department of Defense wanted to create a computer network that would continue to function in the event of a disaster, such as a nuclear war. Their work gave birth to the Internet. And the result has been explosive.

The Internet has changed the way we live, not just locally, but globally. Information, business, travel, and personal communication are no longer the same. People can shop on line for anything from books to baked goods. Hassling other bargain hunters in crowded stores, standing in line to purchase sports tickets or theater tickets, and browsing through a library are all rapidly receding into the past. Even banking is conducted on line.

Today many people sit in front of their computer. They live in a virtual world. They fade out of the real world. Because of modern technology, they can watch movies without ever going to a cinema. They can listen to music all alone on their iPod.

Technology that connects us also disconnects. We too easily forgo the many opportunities simply to be with other people. We lose the human touch. Surrounded by things, we become lonely. Perhaps this is part of the reason instant messaging, chat rooms, cell phones are so popular. We are a people constantly reaching out to stay connected. We need a sense of personal presence. And the deepest longing that we have for personal presence is fulfilled in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist as meal; the Eucharist as Sacrifice; the Eucharist as eschatological anticipation: all these dimensions of the Eucharist come together in the Real Presence. Theodore of Mopsuestia (350-428 A.D.) gives witness to the consistent faith of the Church in the Real Presence. He says, "The Lord did not say: This is a symbol of my body, and this is a symbol of my blood, but rather: This is my body and my blood. He teaches us not to look to the nature of what lies before us and is perceived by the senses, because the giving of thanks and the words spoken over it have changed it into flesh and blood" ( Epistle to Magnus, 6).

It is the reality of the Lord’s Presence that takes the Eucharist out of the category of mere symbolism and makes the Eucharist the Mystery of Divine Presence. Not only while Mass is celebrated and the Sacrifice is offered, not only when Holy Communion is received, but Christ remains with us in the Eucharist reserved in our churches. He is Emmanuel, that is, "God with us." Day after day, Jesus builds up His Church by his Eucharistic presence. As St. Paul teaches, "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1Cor 10:17). In the mystery of the Eucharist, Jesus draws us into the communion of divine life that is the Church. He prays at every Eucharist, as he prayed at the Last Supper, "Even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17:21). He makes our life sacred with the Presence of God.

It is especially in the Eucharist that we come face to face with the immeasurable treasure of divine love. Our communion with the Lord in the Eucharist through the reception of Holy Communion and through adoration is the true source of the unselfish love that transforms our personal lives and society as well. In the Eucharist, Jesus fulfills the longing of every disciple first expressed by the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. "They pressed him to stay with them saying, ‘It is nearly evening, and the day is almost over’" (Lk 24:29). In the Eucharist, the Lord stays with us. Day and night the Lord is in our midst. He dwells with us, full of grace and truth. "Therefore both public and private devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist even outside Mass should be vigorously promoted, for by means of it the faithful give adoration to Christ, truly and really present, the ‘High Priest of the good things to come’ and Redeemer of the whole world" (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 134). The worship of the Eucharist outside the Sacrifice of the Mass is closely linked to the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. It is not a devotion separated from the Sacrifice of the Mass, but a deepening of the very mystery of our redemption. In those parishes where there is regular adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, parish life is enriched, families are drawn together and vocations increase.

Because of the loss of the sense of the sacred in our world, we need to work at cultivating a lively awareness of Christ's Real Presence. Every parish, every Catholic, should set time aside to worship and adore our Eucharistic Lord. This is why it is most expedient that the Blessed Sacrament be reserved in every parish in a place of prominence. The placing of the tabernacle in a place clearly visible to the faithful who enter the church already draws us into that communion of love that takes places in the celebration of Mass and continues in our daily life. The arrangement of our churches should reflect our belief that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ, Crucified and Risen!

Likewise, our conduct should always reflect our faith. The reverence we show to the Blessed Sacrament by the positioning of the tabernacle in our churches, by our silence and prayer, and by the gesture of genuflection before the tabernacle—a custom lamentably lost in some places—lifts us beyond the profane into the awareness of the mystery of God among us.

Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament is an authentic expression of faith in the Eucharist. It helps us recover the sense of the sacred in the liturgy and also in life. By adoring the Most Blessed Sacrament, we come to know not simply intellectually but experientially the meaning of Jesus’ final words in Matthew’s gospel: "Behold, I am with you always, even until the end of time" (Mt 28:20). Thus, we become aware of how sacred all life truly is.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Where Have All the True Men Gone?

The "Other" Vocations Crisis
by Kenneth Henderson

What does it mean to be a man? We live in a time when the meaning of what it means to be a True Man has all but been lost. The vast majority of men are searching for meaning in their lives but don’t know where to find it. Many seek it in success, money, possessions and sex. Sadly, no man can ever find himself or the meaning of his life in these things.

We hear about the vocations crisis and how we need good priest to come into the Church, but there is another "Vocations Crisis" that is probably doing even more harm to our Church than the lack of priests; the “Other” Vocations Crisis is the crisis of Husbands and Fathers.

Of course this crisis is nothing new; it has been going on for a long time, ever since Adam failed to protect Eve from the temptations of the devil in fact. He froze in the face of danger and thereby exhibited a flaw that all men would deal with for many years to come…passivity. But there have been times in history when husbands and fathers where more in tune with what it means to be a True Man, to be a True Husband, True Father…a True Knight for the Kingdom of God. Arguably, the 20th Century saw the greatest increase in this crisis in all of history.

God created man for a purpose; to be the head of his family, to lead his family to God and protect his family from the dangers of the world, the flesh and the devil. This purpose requires that men strive to live lives of heroic honor, virtue and purity, in an impure world. However, the 20th century could also be labeled the most impure society in all of history.

Modern Men started to loose their sense of purpose early on in the beginning of the 20th century with the feminist movement wanting to equalize the roles of men and women. Later with the introduction of contraception and the “free love” movement that followed in the 60s more and more men became enslaved to a sense of false manhood, a manhood based primarily on financial success and sexual prowess. Isn’t it ironic that in an attempt to equalize the roles, the feminist movement played a major role in the most intense period ever for the objectification of women? Women are valued less now for true womanhood than ever. With the onslaught of pornography, more and more women are falling victim to the mindset that to find love is to be sexually desirable. But I digress and this is a topic for yet another time.

Men are just as much to blame if not more so for this “vocations” crisis. We have abdicated our roles due, yet again, to passivity; the very same flaw that our first parent Adam displayed. We live in a time when false men are fighting false battles, because they have no idea what it means to be a true man; many display swaggering machismo to compensate for a loss of their true sense of purpose.

Man and woman are not to only ones to blame here. Remember that the serpent was also present in the garden, just as he is present today, and with a renewed intensity. The devil has one goal in mind; to destroy humanity. He is also a great strategist and he knows that to defeat any foe, you must take out its leader. Man was created by God to be the “head” of the family, while woman was created to be the “heart.” When the head is cut off from the body, the body dies. Our society is filled with many dead bodies.

The evil one knows the easiest way to render a man helpless, to cut him off from the body; by attacking him with lust and enslaving man to the sins of the flesh. This is why our society is the most sexually immoral society ever. With the easy accessibility of porn on the internet, Satan has been able to enslave more men to sex than ever before. St. Thomas Aquinas said that when man gives into the sins of the flesh, his intellect becomes darkened. So much so that even simple truths can not be understood. Many men are living lives in the darkness. This is why men have been abandoning their families in record numbers, if not by outright abandonment, then by passivity, leaving their families like a body without a head. As The Irish philosopher Edmund Burke observed, all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Sadly this problem is passed on to the next generation because sons will often follow in the footsteps of their fathers. Only when a man comes to recognize his weakness and call upon the grace of God can he begin to break this generational curse.

More men in the middle ages knew their true purpose in the family than many men do today. They practiced the "Code of Chivalry" in which they knew that the key to true manhood was to place women above themselves; to serve and honor women and protect them, especially their wives. They also knew that it took a knight to raise a knight. They knew that the only way to ensure that their sons would be worthy to lead their own families was to strive to be a role model for a life of virtue. They also knew that they where instrumental in determining the fate of their daughters and strove to be the model of the man that their daughters would one day marry. Now while not all men of that period lived this ideal, many did and many also knew the supreme importance of spiritual headship. They understood the importance of being the primary instructor of the faith for their children. This can be seen exemplified in the life of St. Thomas Moore, who placed the welfare and salvation of his wife and children as most important job of his life, even above that of Lord High Chancellor of England...second most powerful man in all of England.

St. Thomas Moore knew that to be a man of heroic honor, virtue and purity, he must also be a man of prayer and a man who defends the supreme Truths of the Catholic faith. He knew that only by centering his life on Jesus Christ and our Lord’s presence in the Holy Eucharist could he have the strength to be the True Man that God created him to be. St. Thomas knew that this meant great sacrifice and was not willing to compromise on any of his beliefs, even if it meant losing his own head...defending the sanctity of marriage. King Henry the VIII had Thomas beheaded because Thomas would not support his decision to go against the Church and divorce his wife. St. Thomas Moore is a model for own times, and there are many others like him. His example shows us the answer for the “vocations” crisis of fatherhood…in fact the priestly and religious vocations crisis as well, because when fathers begin to model the Truths of the faith, then their children will be more inclined to do so as well.

Adapted from a talk given by Kenneth Henderson at the 3rd Annual Hudson Valley Catholic Conference on July 21st, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Which religion is the right religion?

Originally published July 26, 2007

Is the pope Catholic? I ask because the recent foofarah over Benedict XVI's statement that the Roman Catholic Church is the only Christian ecclesial body that possesses the fullness of truth scandalized quite a few folks, even some Catholics.

Well, what did they expect? It's the pope's job to explain and defend Catholic teaching, which makes unique and exclusive truth claims. It would be logically inconsistent for the pope to affirm Catholic teaching while asserting that churches proclaiming contradictory things are equally correct.

Benedict said nothing new. He reaffirmed the Catholic position that Christ's saving work can occur among non-Catholic Christians, despite rejecting Roman orthodoxy. What caused the most consternation was the pontiff's point that Protestant churches aren't proper churches at all.

Defending the faith
Undiplomatic? Sure. But Benedict was clarifying an important point of Catholic theology: that you cannot have a real church without a valid Eucharist. You can't have a valid Eucharist without a sacramentally legitimate priesthood. And you can't have that in ecclesial bodies that have severed the line of apostolic succession, as Protestant communions have.

You don't have to agree, but this is what Catholicism teaches. And this is why Metropolitan Kirill, leader of the ecumenical office of the Russian Orthodox Church - which Catholicism theologically qualifies as a church, though "defective" inasmuch as it is not in full communion with Rome - welcomed Benedict's directive as an "honest statement." Better to know where we really stand with one another, Kirill rightly said, than to gloss over fundamental theological differences for the sake of making nicey-nice.

The angry reaction, especially from some Catholics, shows why Benedict's statement was necessary.

An earnest journey
When I endeavored to convert to Catholicism as a young man, the priest and the nun leading our class spent week after week encouraging us to talk about our feelings, and nothing but.

Sick of this cotton-candy catechism, I went to a crusty old Irish priest in an inner-city parish. "When I get t'roo wit' ye, lad, ye might not want to be a Catlick," Father Moloney said. "But ye'll know what a Catlick is!"
That good priest respected me and the Catholic faith enough to give me the straight dope. Later, when I was received into the Roman church, I knew what was expected of me and why it mattered.

Years later, after a prolonged spiritual crisis, I lost my Catholic faith and am now a communicant of the Orthodox Church. Rather than be offended that Benedict considers my church to be theologically defective - as Orthodoxy in turn regards Catholicism - I rejoice that the Bishop of Rome is far too serious a man to sugarcoat important truths.

Build on honesty
Good relations among believers must be built, but only on a foundation of honesty. It does not follow that acknowledging theological differences - particularly the exclusive correctness of one church or religion - therefore requires a program enacting political or social superiority. In fact, the Second Vatican Council proclaimed that religious freedom is a fundamental human right. Acknowledging that people have a right to be wrong about God is a moral breakthrough for humanity, an idea that should be spread.

It's wrong and dangerous, though, to expect a religious believer to affirm that all beliefs about God could be equally true - which is what Benedict's critics really demand. To do so would be to empty religion of its deepest meaning - to turn it into something that's merely socially or personally useful.That's where American religion is headed, however. Several years ago, researchers with the University of North Carolina's National Study of Youth and Religion polled American teenagers and found that faith was important to them. But it's faith not in established religion but rather in what NYSR's social scientists termed "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism."

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, as researchers explain, teaches that a vaguely defined God exists, cares about us and wants us to be good, nice and fair. You don't need to get too involved with God, absent a problem or crisis. The point of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself. Good people go to heaven.

Train up a child
Whatever that relativist mush is, it has little to do with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or any traditional religion. Researchers concluded that either American youths don't know their traditions' teaching, or don't much care. Strikingly, they found that many teenagers interviewed had never discussed theology with an adult. The theological content of our faiths is fast eroding because of the lazy indifference of older generations to whom the traditions were delivered.

Benedict knows how critical this is. Count me on the side of Christians, Jews, Muslims and others who aren't afraid to say - respectfully - that I'm wrong about God. At least they understand what's at stake.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Social Networking Sites are Porn Directories According to a Study - Christian Newswire

Social Networking Sites are Porn Directories According to a Study - Christian Newswire

MEDIA ADVISORY, July 23 /Christian Newswire/ --, the world's largest Christian portal with twelve million monthly page loads, recently talked with a parent who surfed through several pages of one of the largest social networking sites. "Thinking these sites were kid safe websites, I clicked on a picture that leads to a blog. I never expected to see hard core porn images. There was no censorship what-so-ever," stated Mary, the concerned parent. "I never had to enter a login or register. I just clicked my way through offensive material! As a Christian, mother, wife, and woman, I would never again visit a site like this, nor would I allow my husband or children to participate."

To substantiate claims from this and other pro-active parents, ChristiaNet conducted their own test. The results revealed that with surprising ease, children can access pornography through these advertised kid safe websites. Ten user profiles were accessed on one of the most popular sites and 186 pornographic images, 52 counts of cursing, 14 links to porn directories, and multiple references to drugs, racism, Satanism, and violence were found.

Many parents may be unaware that their children have access to hard pornography through seemingly innocent social websites. The number of pre-teens, teens and young adults using social networking online is increasing by 160,000 users daily - according to web news sources. Social networking sites are a place where users may post personal information about themselves including photos, videos and music. Users can send mail, instant messages and write comments on each other's pages. If parents believe that children are safe from adult content within the cyberspace walls of the largest social networks which promote to children and teens, they may want to take an eye-opening look at the reality of what's posted on these pages.

In an effort to educate parents about social networking sites, ChristiaNet's president, Bill Cooper advised, "Parents should place the home computer in an open area within the house and install monitoring software to keep tabs on what children are seeing. As much as we want agencies that promote to children to act with responsibility, it's ultimately up to parents to control what their children are being exposed to."

To combat unsafe social networks, ChristiaNet has just released its Free Christian Penpals. Using the latest Internet technology, ChristiaNet has made it simple to chat and make new friends in a safe family friendly environment.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Great Mystery of Marriage: A "Foretaste of Heaven" or Satan's Battleground?

Possibly one of the most beautiful gifts that God has given to humanity is the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Sadly, it is also the most attacked and profaned by Satan. Many people have very little understanding of just how important and holy the gift of marriage is. This can explain why many do not see the importance of saving the gift of sexuality for after they are married, why so many marriages end in divorce and why there is an increased push for homosexual unions. At the root of this problem is a lack of understanding of just what a sacrament is... [Read More]

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Power of Kindness and Humility

Christ teaches us that we are to respond to any attack or wrong done to us with kindness. Pagans exchange an attack with a counter-attack. Christians know by humility that we are all capable of horrendeous wrongs and that we must appeal to the grace of God to bring a kind act to our brothers and sisters. It is easy to love your friends...but it is not so easy to love your enemies. But Jesus told us that we MUST love our enemies. That one act of kindness, offered up to God, can counter many grieveous sins. An act of kindness done through the grace of God can even counter the effects and temptations to act out in impurity. Acting out of kindness and humility toward someone who you feel has wronged you can be an act of mortification that is more powerful than fasting for a day.

Not only that, but when we repay an unkind act against ourselves with an act of kindness...conversions happen. More people have converted to Catholicism because of a kind act than by any other means. St. Francis de Sales said: "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar."

St. Terese the Little Flower showed us that we can do great things for God if we just offer up all our little sufferings. That includes offering up our petty grievences against our friends and enemies.

It is only by kindness that we can lead each other to holiness. That is our Know God, to Love God, and to Serve God. To know God is to recognize Him in every single human being on this planet. Friends, family and enemies. To love God is to Love one another as HE loves us. To Serve God is to do the Will of the Father...I don't believe the Will of the Father includes being unkind to people we feel have wronged us. On the contray it REQUIRES us to repay an unkind act toward us with a prayer for that person and an act of kindness in return.

Think of what an incredible place this world could be if EVERY Christian, or if even 10% of ALL Christians were to behave in this manner.

Think about it...and do the Grace of Almighty God!