Sunday, January 30, 2011

Standard of Living

In light of the growing number of troubled and increasingly desperate people in our society, it seems appropriate to repeat this post which first ran in 2009.

"Thanks" to Janice for sending this item and "Thanks" to my parents who taught me this same lesson growing up.

Your standard of living has very little to do with how much money you make or how many possessions you have. It depends primarily on the way you choose to live your life in each moment.

Your standard of living is not decided by where you came from. It is determined by where you choose to go.

You don't need anyone's permission or assistance to raise your standard of living. You simply must decide to make the very best of who you are and what you have.

Do you wish to live a magnificent life that's overflowing with joy and fulfillment? You can most certainly do that, right here and now, by choosing your attitude, your perceptions, your thoughts and your actions.

Raise your standard of living in every moment by doing something to make your world a more beautiful place. Achieve the very highest standard of living by faithfully following the purpose that lives at your core.

There is always something you can do to improve the quality of your life. Continually seize those opportunities for improvement, and enjoy a rich, rewarding standard of living all the time. --


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Strange Silence

January 18, 2011

You have to wonder some times about what provokes citywide outrage -- and what doesn't.

Last week, Schools Chancellor Cathie Black's offhand joke about how birth control would resolve school overcrowding elicited a cascade of angry responses flooding news outlets, blogs and Twitter. Before the sun was high in the sky, the usual suspects stood in front of the microphones and sat in front of their keyboards denouncing Black (who has now apologized).

Earlier in the month, news of some truly horrifying health statistics vanished almost without a peep.

First, Archbishop Timothy Dolan and several clergy leaders held a news conference to decry the high abortion rate in New York City. The most recent data are for 2009 -- when 41 percent of pregnancies ended in abortion. The Bronx had the highest rate, followed by Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island.

Almost a week later, the city Health Department reported that The Bronx ranked the worst among the boroughs on almost every major barometer of health, from infant deaths to cancer to HIV/AIDS. Cancer, chronic-obstructive-pulmonary disease, diabetes and abortion are far too common in The Bronx and are the leading cause of death in poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

None of the usual suspects expressed outrage, blasted Mayor Bloomberg or announced City Council hearings over these dismal statistics.

The expression of outrage over the city's high abortion rate was left to Dolan and maverick Rev. Michael Faulkner, who said he felt heartsick that abortion is "the leading cause of death among African-Americans" in the city.

It is indeed heartbreaking that 60 percent of all unborn African-American babies are aborted.

Just think about it: Black women in our city have three abortions for every two live births. The Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nation are giving "fist bumps" all around.

The local chapters of the National Organization for Women and Planned Parenthood reflexively defend this ugly disparity. Planned Parenthood says that if Dolan, Faulkner and their allies are really committed to lowering the city's abortion rate, they should support efforts to reduce unintended pregnancies, like sex education and birth control.

Yet the statistics should be sobering. Dolan says, "We've been hearing for many years from pro-choice supporters that abortion should be 'safe, legal and rare.' Well, if that's the goal, we've clearly, abysmally failed -- especially here in New York City."

Sorry: The NOW/Planned Parenthood-endorsed regime of "comprehensive" sex education, condoms and birth control has been in place for decades in New York City -- yet the abortion rate stands at 48 percent in The Bronx. The city is in the pregnancy-prevention business as well, having distributed 40 million free condoms in 2009.

None of this seems to be having the intended effect. It may be time for a different approach.

The 87,000 abortions performed in 2009 have caused me to question my pro-choice votes in the state Assembly in support of Medicaid-funded abortions. Was I an enabler of abortion as a family-planning tool?

I could at least console myself with my work to restore funding for the Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation -- a nonprofit that provides critical services to young, low-income pregnant women to help them to bear their children and raise them with dignity.

There's hope for common ground here: Traci Perry of Planned Parenthood also cites the need to "really begin to provide the health-care services and the information that these communities need to deal with unintended pregnancies."

I'm joining with the Chiaroscuro Foundation in working with Bronx clergy to design an outreach program for young women and men to combat unintended pregnancies and abortions in The Bronx. It's time to put our collective outrage into constructive action.

Shh! Did you hear that? That was the cry of a black baby being born.

Monday, January 17, 2011

41% of NYC pregnancies end in abortion

January 09, 2011
Michelle Charlesworth
Web produced by Jennifer Matarese
NEW YORK (WABC) -- Eye-opening statistics about the rate of abortions in New York City have been released by the Health Department.

It raises questions about the effectiveness of current birth control education.

41% of all New York City pregnancies end in abortion.

The rate for minorities is even higher.

Both sides say the high abortion percentage is a crisis.

"If 41% of New York babies are aborted, with the percentage even higher in the Bronx and among our African-American babies in the world, it is downright chilling," New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan said.

Broken down by race for 2009:

Specifically non-Hispanic Blacks have a 59.8% abortion rate.

Hispanics have a 41.3% abortion rate.

Asians have a 22.7% abortion rate.

And non-Hispanic Whites have a 20.4% abortion rate.

The fact that 41% of all pregnancies in New York City end in abortion is not a secret and it's not anything new.

In fact, things have been getting better over the past decade.

Back in 1998, 12 years ago, the number was actually 46%.

Planned Parenthood is also not happy about the numbers, but pushes education.

"We believe in comprehensive sex education, which by the way does include abstinence, but abstinence by itself has been proven to be ineffective,"

Archbishop Dolan reiterated the pro-abstinence, pro-life, anti-contraceptive position of the church.

"My word, what have we done the last 30 years. There's candy bowls on people's desks with condoms, they're dropping them from airplanes, yet nothing seems to improve, so they've been on the wrong track here," Archbishop Dolan said.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Pope John Paul to be Beatified May 1

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The pope on Friday signed off on the miracle needed for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, and set May 1 as the date to honor one of the most beloved popes of all times as a model of saintliness for the church.

Pope Benedict XVI said in a decree that a French nun's recovery from Parkinson's disease was miraculous, the last step needed for beatification. A second miracle is needed for the Polish-born John Paul to be made a saint.

The May 1 beatification, which Benedict himself will celebrate, is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Rome — a major morale boost for a church reeling from a wave of violence against Christians and fallout from the clerical sex abuse scandal.

Once he is beatified, John Paul will be given the title "blessed" and can be publicly venerated. Many people, especially in Poland, already venerate him privately, but the ceremony will make it official.

"This is a huge and important cause of joy," Warsaw Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz told reporters at his residence in the Polish capital.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul's longtime secretary and friend, expressed "huge thanks" to Benedict for the decree. "We are happy today," he said.

Benedict put John Paul on the fast track to possible sainthood just weeks after he died in 2005, responding to the chants of "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood immediately!" that erupted during his funeral.

Benedict waived the typical five-year waiting period before the process could begin, but he insisted that the investigation into John Paul's life be thorough so as to not leave any doubts about his virtues.

The last remaining hurdle concerned the approval by Vatican-appointed panels of doctors and theologians, cardinals and bishops that the cure of French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, was a miracle due to the intercession of John Paul.

The nun has said she felt reborn when she woke up two months after John Paul died, cured of the disease that had made walking, writing and driving a car nearly impossible. She and her fellow sisters of the Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Maternity Wards had prayed to John Paul, who also suffered from Parkinson's.

Last year, there were some questions about whether the nun's original diagnosis was correct. But in a statement Friday, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints said Vatican-appointed doctors had "scrupulously" studied the case and determined that her cure had no scientific explanation.

Born in Wadowice, Poland, in 1920, Karol Wojtyla was the youngest pope in 125 years and the first non-Italian in 455 years when he was elected pope in 1978.

He brought a new vitality to the Vatican, and quickly became the most accessible modern pope, sitting down for meals with factory workers, skiing and wading into crowds to embrace the faithful.

He was the most traveled pope ever, visiting more than 120 nations during the third-longest papacy and covering distance equal to nearly 1 1/2 trips to the moon.

His Polish roots nourished a doctrinal conservatism — opposition to contraception, euthanasia, abortion and women priests — that rankled liberal Catholics in the United States and Western Europe.

But his common touch also made him a crowd-pleasing superstar whose 26-year papacy carried the Roman Catholic Church into Christianity's third millennium and emboldened eastern Europeans to bring down the communist system.

He survived an assassination attempt in St. Peter's Square in 1981 — and then forgave the Turk who had shot him.

He died in his Vatican apartment on April 2, 2005 after suffering for years from the effects of Parkinson's disease. He was 84.

While adored by Catholics, John Paul did not escape scrutiny about the clerical abuse scandal which came to light in the final years of his papacy. Many of the thousands of sexual abuse cases that emerged in Europe and beyond last year concerned crimes or cover-ups that occurred under his watch.

Vatican officials have said there was nothing in John Paul's record that called into question his path to beatification.

Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus, one of the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organizations, noted that John Paul's beatification process is not a "score card on his administration of the Holy See."

Rather, he said, it's a statement about his personal sanctity since beatification is way of holding up Catholics as models for the faithful.

"Pope John Paul's life is precisely such a model because it was lived beautifully and with love, respect and forgiveness for all," Anderson told the AP in an e-mail. "We saw this in the way he reached out to the poor, the neglected, those of other faiths, even the man who shot him. He did all of this despite being so personally affected by events of the bloodiest century in history."

Associated Press reporter Vanessa Gera in Warsaw contributed to this report.