By Fr. George Welzbacher
April 5, 2009 - Palm Sunday
As Holy Week begins, let's "absent ourselves from felicity a while" so that we can focus our thoughts on the savage onslaught of pain to which our Lord subjected Himself as the core of His mission to atone for your sins and mine. Let's spend some time this week asking ourselves what we have done-and what we ought to have done, and what we intend to do- for Him in return.
Here are some suggestions for making this week a very special week, a week in which we give thanks to Christ Our Lord for His astonishing, His self-sacrificial love, the love that led Him to the Cross. And let this be a week of intensified self-denial to make up for our own past tepidiity--or worse.
. First of all, if you haven't been to confession in a long, long time, there is no time better than Holy Week to make use of this Sacrament of God's mercy, though keep in mind that the practice, once fairly widespread in our archdiocese, of receiving general absolution without individual confession is not only illegal; in the absence of an emergency like 9/11 the imparting of such absolution is INVALID.
As your schedule of work permits, participate devoutly in the sacred liturgies of Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday (in the evening) and Good Friday (in the afternoon). Try to attend the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday evening at 7:00 o'clock.
If you happen to own a DVD player and if you own or are able to rent a DVD of Mel Gibson's extraordinary film The Passion of the Christ, plan to watch the film with your family, though parents might not want to expose their very young children to the segment that depicts Christ's scourging. And why not cut back this week on the time you may be in the habit of spending on television's vapid fare!
Plan to spend some serious time in private prayer. Praying before the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday evening would be particularly appropriate.
And what should we pray for? First and foremost for the desire and the grace to surrender our hearts more generously to the will of God. And we should pray for all of those who are dear to us, for our relatives and friends and especially for those who, it would seem, leave little room in their lives for God. And may I recommend with particular force an extremely timely special intention for holy Week 2009 (and for the months that follow): namely conversion of heart in those who, holding positions of power in government, have lent their support to the slaughter of the innocent, and in particular for those who publicly profess a faith, the Catholic faith, that their actions so flagrantly contradict. They are crucifying Christ in His Mystical Body over and over again today, with each new innocent human life that they cruelly help to destroy. "Whatever you do to the LEAST of my little ones you do to ME!" is Christ's exhortation-and His warning!
One such abortion-friendly Catholic politician will soon hold, if confirmed, a position of great importance in the ongoing Culture War. I refer to the present governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama's nominee to the post of Secretary of Health and Human Services, a position of crucial importance for the outcome of the struggle between the partisans of Life and the partisans of Death. The following report on Governor Sebelius' inveterate complicity in the promotion of abortion, both in her earlier career as state legislator and subsequently as governor of Kansas, appeared in the Christian journal of news and opinion that is published under the masthead World, issue of March 28th. May I share that report with you here, as providing all the more reason to pray for her conversion and for that of all of her fellow Catholic politicians who declare themselves to be "personally opposed" to abortion while doing everything they can to promote it.
* * * * *Health Concerns
By: Brian T. Johnson
From: World Magazine 3/28/09
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is a Roman Catholic. She says that abortion is morally unacceptable. And in April, 2007, she hosted a reception for notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller of Wichita at her official residence.
This disconnect took on national significance on March 2, when President Barack Obama nominated Sebelius to head the Department of Health and Human Services. If confirmed by the Senate, Sebelius will direct a massive federal agency that employs nearly 65,000 workers and oversaw more than $700 billion in spending last year. While tasked with implementing statutory law, she will also be able to put her stamp on the president's agenda through the department's regulatory powers.
What approach she may bring to the job is illuminated by her record back home.
In socially conservative Kansas the nation's abortion wars have spilled across the political terrain, and Sebelius has been intensely involved. Throughout her lengthy political career she has steadfastly supported legal abortion.
As governor, she VETOED numerous pieces of pro-life legislation during six years in office. The most significant may have been last year's Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act, or CARA. Passed by large BIPARTISAN majorities in BOTH legislative chambers, the package would have strengthened the state's informed consent law, safeguarded against coerced abortions, and strengthened enforcement of existing late-term abortion restrictions. She also BLOCKED abortion clinic licensing standards, late-term abortion clinic licensing standards, late-term abortion reporting requirements, and a state matching grant program designed to assist pregnancy resource and adoption centers.
Sebelius launched her public career as a state representative (before winning two terms as the state's insurance commissioner). Over the course of four terms in the Kansas House, she opposed basic limitations on abortion by voting AGAINST parental consent and notification requirements, patient waiting periods, restrictions on post-viability abortions, and reporting requirements on the same. On at least one occasion, she voted IN FAVOR of state funding for abortion services.
The governor's relationship with [late-term abortionist] Tiller and her efforts to protect other practitioners from legal scrutiny is another controversial hallmark of her time in office. By derailing requirements to report case information on late-term abortions, she made it more difficult for law enforcement officials to prosecute alleged violations of existing restrictions on the practice. Her court appointees have influenced the legal process toward a pro-abortion bias, and she even helped recruit political challengers to pro-life officials like former Attorney General Phil Kline....
To observers like Michael Schuttloffel of the Kansas Catholic Conference, the Governor's festive reception for Tiller says a lot about her personal feelings on abortion: "The back slapping and grinning between Sebelius and abortionists does not seem to indicate someone who is personally troubled by abortion." As a result of her actions on abortion, the local archbishop [Archbishop Joseph Naumann] has instructed Sebelius NOT to present herself to receive communion.
Liberal groups like "Catholics United" have endorsed her confirmation and suggested that Sebelius is a moderate who has actually reduced the abortion rate in Kansas. As part of a larger crime package the governor did sign a law criminalizing harm to an unborn child, and she once approved the state matching grant program for pregnancy resource centers-a program she had previously opposed and on which she reversed her decision the next year. Pro-lifers point to other political factors, like a veto-proof majority, that they say COMPELLED her to support pro-life laws in a FEW isolated instances. "She has signed some pro-life bills, but only under the gun," says Mary Kay Culp of Kansas for Life. The organization notes that abortion rates were on the decline in Kansas preceding her tenure in office, and lowered nationally during the same period in question.
On other Health-Care issues, Sebelius eschewed reforms integrating consumer choice, market competition, and individual responsibility in favor of a larger role for the state government in directly providing care and coverage to Kansans. Her vision of increasing access to health care included expanding eligibility guidelines for the state children's health insurance program, or S-CHIP, up to 250 percent of the poverty level. Some analysts believe such changes expand the entitlement program into the middle class, establishing the government over parents as providers for their children and crowding out private insurance in the process. One lawmaker bristled at the expansion, pointing out that his own family would qualify for public benefits under the plan ....
Administration supporters have cited the nominee's resumé of red state success as an indication of her bipartisan bona fides, and even the fact that her father was a Democratic governor and her father-in-law was a Republican congressman. More difficult to establish are examples of substantial, principled compromise in the nominee's history. Her record is that of a strongly ideological liberal rather than [that of] a moderate who sought to develop consensus.
Once installed at the HHS, Sebelius would have no shortage of opportunity to exercise her belief in an activist, liberal government. Decisions regarding federal funding of abortion are essentially under the control of Congress and the states, which manage Medicaid. However, one of Sebelius' first tasks might be to re-write the right-of-conscience regulations enacted by the outgoing Bush administration. President Obama has already signaled his intention to OVERTURN the policy allowing doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel to AVOID participating in procedures they deem morally objectionable, including abortion and perhaps some forms of artificial insemination and contraception. It will be up to the department to determine how broadly to apply the new rule and how aggressively to enforce it. Hospitals could be forced to fire such employees or risk losing critical federal funding streams.
Introducing Sebelius to the nation, Obama declared that his administration will be led by those "who push politics aside in favor ofproven science, who eschew stale ideology for sound ideas and focus on what works.'[As in the case of stem cell research? in which it is only NON- homicidal research on ADULT Stem cells that "works". and is "proven science", whereas the destructive cannibalizing of embryos finds justification only in "ideology", with nothing else to recommend it]. It was the type of rhetoric used ... in the past to dismiss moral concerns over issues like embryonic stem-cell research, various forms of fertility treatment, comprehensive sexual education programs, and provision of sexual health services to minors. With authority over a network of 11 sub-agencies and 300 programs across every manner of health research and service operation, Sebelius will be able to have an impact on every one of these areas.
Confirmation doesn't appear to be a problem for Sebelius. Her HHS bid immediately gained the support of at least two Republicans: HOME-STATE Senators Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts. The two senators released a statement congratulating Sebelius on the nomination, but Brownback declined requests for further comment ....