(CNA/EWTN News) Sacred music has a special role in the Catholic liturgy, and Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland in Oregon has written a pastoral letter reflecting on how Catholics can help provide the best music for Mass. “We should always aim high to offer God the best and the most beautiful music of which we are capable,” Archbishop Sample said. Mass requires an “art of celebrating” in which perhaps nothing is more important than the place of sacred music.

Citing a sermon of St. Augustine, he said, “the new man sings a new song. Singing is an expression of joy and, if we consider the matter, an expression of love.” The archbishop’s pastoral letter, “Sing to the Lord a New Song”, was dated Jan. 25, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Sample voiced hope the letter will be well received in the archdiocese and help advance “an authentic renewal of the Sacred Liturgy according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the mind of the Church.”

Sacred music has a twofold purpose: “the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful.” This has serious implications for its place in divine worship. Sample’s pastoral letter traces teachings about sacred music from various popes and councils of the Church.



(ACI Prensa) The Justice and Peace Commission of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference is calling for an end to violence surrounding protests after Nicolas Maduro claimed to have won a second presidential term in a contested election. A communique from the commission draws from words spoken by St. Oscar Romero in its title: “In the name of God and in the name of this suffering people, whose lamentations reach up to heaven…stop the repression.”

“Since January 22 the repression and violence have been escalated by State security forces and armed bands against people civically protesting,” the document says. “We deeply deplore so much death, pain and suffering of our people. The toll of injured, dead, arbitrarily detained, tortured and persecuted throughout the land violates the dignity and human rights of the citizens. It is a clamor that cries out: Stop the repression.”

At least 26 people have died in the massive protests taking place around the country in the last week, the Venezuelan Observatory on Conflict reported, based on information gathered from morgues, hospitals and courts. Since Maduro succeeded Hugo Chávez as president of Venezuela in 2013, the country has been marred by violence and social upheaval. Under the socialist government, the country has seen severe shortages of basic goods, with inflation reaching an estimated 1.3 million percent last year, according to the National Assembly. Some 3 million people have emigrated since 2014.

Maduro’s swearing in for a second term as president earlier this month has prompted a recent wave of protests around the country. Maduro won a May 2018 presidential election which was boycotted by the opposition and has been rejected by much of the international community.





(CNA) A prominent Catholic theologian and Democrat has said that new pro-abortion legislation in New York diminishes legal protections for pregnant women facing violence from a partner. In a Jan. 28 op-ed for the New York Daily News, Charles Camosy, associate professor of theology at Fordham University in the Bronx, argued that the removal of abortion from the criminal code altogether also eliminates the potential to charge men who attack pregnant women with the crime of killing unborn children.

“It has always been difficult for abortion activists to explain how they can consider a fetus a mere object to be killed and discarded in an abortion context — while in other legal contexts she can be considered a human being who is killed via homicide. Indeed, many U.S. states have explicit laws against fetal homicide,” Camosy wrote.

The theologian, who also sits on the board of Democrats for Life of America, noted that New York stopped treating unborn children differently under different parts of the law through the Reproductive Health Act. But, he said, this was done at the cost of “common sense.” “Intellectually honest people know that when a pregnant woman is killed, something different has happened than when a woman who is not pregnant is killed. Both situations are incredibly tragic, but in the former situation, two human beings are killed, not one,” Camosy said.

The Reproductive Health Act was signed into law last week, on the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which found a constitutional right to abortion. More recently, pro-abortion advocates have become concerned that the decision may be reviewed or even overturned by the Supreme Court, prompting a new wave of abortion protections at the state level. In his column, Camosy also said that pregnant women are disproportionately likely to suffer violent trauma, and to die from it. Homicide is now the second leading cause of death among pregnant women in the United States.


Tej Francis

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