By Fr. George Welzbacher
April 1, 2007
Properly observed, Holy Week should move us to a closer imitation of our Crucified Lord. A devout reception of the Sacrament of Penance, with an honest and humble confession of our sins, is an important first step toward achieving that goal. Unfortunately many Catholics are asking today: why bother with confession? Why not just go to a service that provides general absolution? Sing a hymn or two, and you're off the hook! On this subject the Catechism of the Catholic Church has quite a lot to say. It's the Catechism, after all, that presents the authentic teaching of the Church, not some self-appointed prophet who proclaims good to be evil and evil good.
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Catechism of the Catholic Church
1456 Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance: "All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue [i.e., are deliberate acts of the will in the silent world of thought]; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly."...
When Christ's faithful strive to confess all the [mortal] sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon. But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest, "for if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know." (St. Augustine).
1457 According to the Church's command, "after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year." Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution... Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time.
1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us to form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of our Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as He is merciful.
1483 In case of grave necessity, recourse may be had to a communal celebration of reconciliation with general confession and general absolution. Grave necessity of this sort can arise when there is imminent danger of death without sufficient time for the priest or priests to hear each penitent's confession [eg.:9/11] Grave necessity can also exist when, given the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors to hear individual confessions properly in a reasonable time, so that the penitents through no fault of their own would be deprived of sacramental grace of Holy Communion for a long time. In this case, for the absolution to be valid the faithful must have the intention of individually confessing their sins in the time required. The diocesan bishop is the judge of whether or not the conditions required for general absolution exist. A large gathering of the faithful on the occasion of major feasts [e.g., Christmas or Easter] or pilgrimages does not constitute a case of grave necessity.
1484 Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church...
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The enemies of human dignity and of human life never rest. Driven by greed and by a Satanic delight in the very act of desecration, the pornographers' assault on the dignity of Man is relentless, abetted by courts that are all too willing to sacrifice the innocence of childhood and the holiness of marriage on the altar of unlimited free speech. And the fanatical enemies of human life are adamant in ignoring the basic fact that the DNA that governs the embryo's development into a viable child is present and operative right from the start, from the instant of conception. Right here at home in our North Star State a whole new front in the attack on human life has just opened up with the introduction of a bill in the House of Representatives, sponsored by Phyllis Kahn, DFL, District 59B. With a similar proposal before the Minnesota Senate sponsored by Richard Cohen, DFL, St. Paul, the Kahn plan would, if enacted into law, set up a tax-supported "Murder, Incorporated." The March 2007 issue of The MCCL News provides a sobering report.
Deadly Kahn Cloning Bill may pass Legislature. State Legislators considering embryo-killing bill, need to hear from you now.
MCCL News, March 2007
State lawmakers are considering legislation to fund human cloning and the killing of human embrvos. Taxpayers would beforced to pav for the destruction of human life on a scale never before seen in Minnesota.
Citizens need to contact their legislators and urge them to uphold the sanctity of life by strongly opposing this bill.
"This is the most dangerous threat to human life in years, " said Jenny Hoelscher, MCCL legislative associate. "It is difficult for taxpayers to believe that their elected offeials are even considering legislation which would require such massive destruction of human life."
The deadly Kahn Cloning bill, H.F.34S.F.100 would require millions of dollars in taxpayers' funds to kill living human embryos. These same funds also would finance the large-scale production of cloned human embryos for the sole purpose of destroying them for experimentation. Proponents of the hill, realizing the strong public opposition to human cloning, have used an alternative scientific term when referring to cloning. They have claimed that somatic cell nuclear transplantation (SCNT)-the bill's name for cloning---is not cloning at all.
They also sought to silence opponents by redefining cloning as only occurring when the human clone is allowed to reach the "newbom" stage. In other words, researchers must kill all human clones within thefirst nine months or be guilty of a felony.
However, Dr. Meri Firpo, an embryonic stem cell researcher at the University of Minnesota, testified on February 22 in support of the Kahn bill, describin- the SCNT process. Dr. Firpo admitted that "one way of cloning a human being is by using SCNT."
When asked by a committee member what could result from placing one of these human clones into a woman's womb, Dr. Firpo answered, "It might develop into a pregnancy. " She unwittingly exposed the deceit of her allies.
MCCL's legislative associates have testified against the destructive legislation in every hearing on the bill. Pro-Life citizens need to speak up, too.
"The vast majority of Americans are opposed to research that requires human cloning and the killing of human embryos," Hoelscher explained. "The killing of innocent human life at any age is unethical, and taxpayers must not be forced to fund it."
In testimony before the House Committee on Biosciences and Emerging Technologies, MCCL emphasized that ADULT stem cells offer real hope for people suffering from diseases and conditions such as cancer, lupus, Crohn's, Parkinson's, cardiovascular diseases, immunity disorders and many more. More than 72 cures and treatments have already been developed from ADULT stem cell research; in stark contrast, no EMBRYONIC stem cell cures or even clinical trials exist.
Hoelscher emphasized that embryonic stem cell research and human cloning are a waste of taxpayer dollars.
"If these horrors they call "research' were at all promising, biotech firms would pour billions of dollars into them." she noted. "The biotech industry is seeking to force taxpayers to fund this research precisely because it is illusory, highly speculative and deadly."
Minnesota's scientific, academic and ethics communities have also testified in strong opposition to the proposed legislation.
Dr. Steven Calvin is an obstetrician and gynecologist, an associate professor at the Universitv of Minnesota and has collaborated with researchers at the U of M's Stem Cell Institute. He spoke in objection to the bill not only because it permits the destruction of human embryos and fetuses, but also because it unbelievably calls for the harvesting of eggs from abortedfemale unborn babies later in development.
"Either from ignorance or subterfuge, this bill permits and encourages the use of fetal parts for research, " Dr. Calvin noted.
Bishop Richard Pates of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis testified that embryos left over from in vitro fertilization have "intrinsic dignity" and must be protected.
"The so-called excess embryos in any situation should not become fodderfor lethal experimentation simply because they may die soon, anymore than a prisoner condemned to death or a terminally ill patient should, " said Bishop Pates.
"Every human being especially the most vulnerable among us, has an inviolable claim to our respect and protection from harm" declared Paul Wojda, a University of St. Thomas professor and former chair of the Archbishop's Biomedical Ethics Commission. The bill's "central provision would permit the deliberate destruction of our most vulnerable neighbors, and even worse, would demand that destruction."
Dr. Kirk Allison agreed. As director of the U of M's Program in Human Rights and Helath, Dr. Allison noted that the bill shockingly puts no limits on the gestation of embryos-meaning they could be allowed to develop to any stage before they were destroyed.
"H.F.34 disregards the 2005 United Nations Declaration on Human Cloning which calls upon member states 'to adopt all measures necessary to prohibit all forms of human cloning inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life." Dr. Allison stated.
The Senate version of the bill, S.F.100 has been introduced by Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL,St. Paul. All of Minnesota's Pro-life citizens need to contact their state senator and representative immediately and Urge them to oppose this legislation.
Tell your state lawmakers to oppose human cloning and the killing of human embryos for experimentation with your tax dollars. Urge them to uphold the dignity and sanctity of human life at every stage, including the smallest and most defenseless.
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How to Contact Yout State Legislators
House of Representatives
State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
House information: 651-296-2146
Minnnesota State Senate
St. Paul, MN 55155
Senate information: 651-296-0504