"Catholics Come Home" responds to TV attack
The founder of Catholics Come Home, Tom Peterson, last March responded to an attack by prominent TV personality Bill Maher on Real Time with Bill Maher. Peterson noted how "Maher specifically edited and perverted one of the highly-effective national commercials produced by the lay Catholic charitable outreach organisation, CatholicsComeHome.org."
The attack occurred at the start of Lent, while nine US dioceses were partnered with Catholics Come Home to "share the life-giving power of faith in God by inviting inactive Catholics home to the Church during the Lenten season."
So far the Catholics Come Home ads and interactive Website have reached 40 million viewers in the US and another 1.5 million in other countries.
According to census statistics published by participating dioceses, Catholics Come Home ads have helped more than 200,000 fallen away Catholics come home to the Church. And where the ads have aired, Mass attendance has increased by an average of 10%, and by as much as 18%.
"But despite these gentle television invitations, Bill Maher has continues to rant against all things Catholic, in an effort to 'crucify' the Catholic Church by holding it up to continual ridicule and scorn," Peterson's statement noted.
"Maher inaccurately claims that the 'Catholic Church made these ads.' False. The hierarchy of the Church did not produce these ads ... [They] were created and are supported by a group of Catholic families and individuals inspired by Pope John Paul II's call for a New Evangelisation."
Tom Peterson then reflected on the organisation's mission to reach out to Catholics.
"Most say that they are not upset with the Church nor disagree with her teachings. In fact, the vast majority, about 90%, are telling us that they just drifted away from their practice of faith due to the many secular lures of the world. When they are asked, 'Why did you come home?' the majority of returnees answer, 'Because you invited me'."
Zenit News Agency
Russian Orthodox official praises Pope Benedict
Calling for a "strategic alliance" in which Catholic and Orthodox believers act as "allies," the Russian Orthodox Church's chief ecumenical officer lauded the "real positive results in normalisation of Orthodox-Catholic relations in recent years."
"Especially significant changes in this direction have happened after the election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, as he knows the Orthodox Church very well," said Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. "Today, for example, we don't see aggressive proselytising activity of Catholics in our territory that took place in early 90s.
"Orthodox and Catholics face the same challenges cast by the modern epoch to the traditional life-style," he added, referring to the threats to human life, marriage, and the family. "Here it's not the matter of theological issues, but the present and future of the human community which is in question."
Catholic World News
Vatican deplores UN's anti-religious stance
A Vatican representative to the United Nations has spoken out against attacks on freedom of conscience and religion, directed against Catholics and others who hold traditional beliefs about sexual morality and human nature.
Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council on 22 March, called attention to what he described as a "disturbing trend" in debates over social life and human rights. "People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behaviour between people of the same sex," Archbishop Tomasi told the council.
"When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature, which may also be expressions of religious convictions, or state opinions about scientific claims, they are stigmatised, and worse - they are vilified, and prosecuted."
The archbishop said these attempts to silence Catholics, and other critics of homosexual practice, were "a human rights violation according to the council's own standards. These attacks contradicted the fundamental principles announced in three of the Council's resolutions of this session."
The archbishop's remarks came as the council revisited the subject of "sexual orientation" as a human right, a subject that has caused tension between the Vatican and the UN in the past.
He pointed out: "For the purposes of human rights law, there is a critical difference between feelings and thoughts, on the one hand, and behaviour, on the other."
A state should never punish a person, or deprive a person of the enjoyment of any human right, based just on the person's feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings.
"But states can, and must, regulate behaviours, including various sexual behaviours. Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviours must be forbidden by law. Pedophilia and incest are two examples ... Human sexuality, like any voluntary activity, possesses a moral dimension."
Archbishop Tomasi reiterated the Catholic Church's position on human sexuality as not only an article of faith, but a universal matter of natural law: "Human sexuality is a gift that is genuinely expressed in the complete and lifelong mutual devotion of a man and a woman in marriage."
Catholic News Agency
Tie foreign aid to human rights: Cardinal O'Brien
Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien has denounced UK foreign policy as "anti-Christian" after the government announced it would double foreign aid to Pakistan.
"To increase aid to the Pakistan government when religious freedom is not upheld and those who speak up for religious freedom are gunned down is tantamount to an anti-Christian foreign policy," Cardinal O'Brien said.
"Pressure should now be put on the Pakistan government, and the governments of the Arab world as well, to ensure religious freedom is upheld. The provision of aid must require a commitment to human rights."
Catholic World News