Archive of October 22, 2003

Pro-Life Activist Says Attempts To Change Abortion Laws Come From Foreign Interests

San Salvador, El Salvador, Oct 22, 2003 (CNA) - A Catholic pro-life worker cried foul yesterday about a recent BBC report on a pro-choice organization and their efforts to legalize abortion in Latin America.

Julia Regina de Cardenal, president of Fundación Sí a la Vida (Yes to Life Foundation), claims that the Oct. 16 BBC report on Catholics For a Free Choice (CFC) is biased, that the group "is not Catholic and its members are anti-Catholic activists."

"The organization exists precisely for the purpose of pushing abortion acceptability worldwide," she said.   

The BBC report about an international conference in Mexico, which focused on how illegal abortions in Latin America are the major cause of death or illness among women, was largely based on the testimony of a Peruvian woman, who nearly died from an infection and a ruptured uterus after receiving an abortion at an illegal abortion clinic.

In the report, Maria Consuelo Mejilla, director of Catolicas por el Derecho a Decidir (Latin American branch of CFC) and chair of the conference, said abortion is one of the top three causes of maternal death in Latin American countries. The article claims that in Peru an estimated 50,000 women either die or suffer serious injury after an illegal abortion by unqualified medical personnel each year. The organization essentially argue that the only way to reduce the number of deaths is to make abortion legal.

"The article appears to be written by one of their publicity people, not by an independent professional journalist," said de Cardenal. "I see no apparent attempt to verify figures, statistics or interview those with another point of view."

For the most part, judiciaries in Latin America protect the right to life for all, including the unborn, said de Cardenal, whose organization offers women the support they need to continue their pregnancies. "The Latin American people do not want legalized abortion," she said. "Virtually every attempt to legalize abortion legislatively in Latin American countries has been defeated."

Many of the attempts to change the laws regarding abortion in Latin America "come from efforts designed and supported by foreign interests," says de Cardenal.

She claims that Catholics for a Free Choice is "a U.S.-based organization which receives millions of dollars" from large U.S. foundations, such as the Ford Foundation.

"If outsiders really care about us as Latin American women, they will provide desperately needed assistance to improve maternal health care, not manipulate public opinion to favor the killing of our children in the womb," she said.

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British Catholics Announce Boycott Of BBC

London, England, Oct 22, 2003 (CNA) - A new pressure group in London called Catholics Unplug Your Television (CUT) is urging the faithful switch off their sets and stop paying their license fee, which goes to support the BBC, after the recent attacks against the Church by the network.  

The boycott was organized after statements from the Bishops of England and Wales which denounced the anti-Catholic bias of several documentaries blaming the Catholic Church for the spread of AIDS and the abuse of children, and the announcement of a new animated series attacking Pope John Paul II, called Popetown.

CUT Director, Steffano Mazzeo, told the Catholic Times that every time Catholicism is mentioned on BBC it is followed by a "detrimental comment."   

In Britain, every household pays a TV license of more than £120 which directly funds the BBC. Even householders who only watch commercial TV stations must pay the license or risk a fine or even imprisonment.

Mazzeo explained that the BBC has a constant offensive tone against Catholics and that other religions are not treated in that fashion.  He hopes thousands of Catholics will join the boycott.

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Pope tells Cardinals to "Take Courage"

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2003 (CNA) - Take courage and trust in the promise of Christ. This was the message Pope John Paul II conveyed to his cardinals this morning at a mass celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica.

During the mass, held for the entire College of Cardinals, 30 new cardinals each received their cardinal's ring - "a sign of dignity, solicitude and communion" with the See of Peter. The new cardinals were installed yesterday at the Consistory in St. Peter's Square.

In his homily, the Pope told the cardinals they should not be surprised if they experience fear and discouragement, for Jesus had forewarned his disciples of this. Instead, they should seek comfort in the promise of Christ: "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (Jn 16:33)

Personal prayer, and in particular the prayer of others for us, infuses us with strength and courage, he said. "I have experienced its comfort," he confided.

"And it is also one of the reasons that I wanted the 25th year of my pontificate to be dedicated to the holy Rosary," he said, "to underline the primacy of prayer, particularly contemplative prayer, done in spiritual union with Mary, Mother of the Church."

The Pope reminded the cardinals that the prime mission of the Church is to announce the Good News to the community of the faithful and to all people, without exception.

"Unity and openness, communion and mission: this is the breath of the Church," he said.

The Pope thanked the cardinals for the support they promised him yesterday at the Consistory. In the service of unity and mission, the Pope said he "avails himself in a particular way to the collaboration of the cardinals," whose College mirrors the universality of the Church, he said.

"Let us draw close to Christ, living rock!" he urged the cardinals. "Let us announce to all the wonder of his love, without fear or hesitation because he assures us: Take courage; I have overcome the world."

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Cardinals assure John Paul he can rely on them

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2003 (CNA) - In an homage paid to Pope John Paul II, the newly appointed cardinals told the Pope that he can rely on them to be faithful servants of the Church.

Thirty-one cardinals were welcomed into the Roman Catholic Church yesterday at the Consistory held in St. Peter's Square.

"Until now, we have sought to serve the Church, doing our best. Now members of the College of Cardinals, we desire to profess before everyone our firm will to love the Church even more and to commit ourselves with abnegation in its mission of evangelization," said Jean-Louis Cardinal Tuaran on behalf of the new cardinals.

"Our sole ambition is to contribute to the growth of the Church in the third millenium," he continued. "With you, Holy Father, we want to proclaim to our contemporaries the sole Savior of mankind."

In his homage, Tuaran thanked the Pope for teaching, through his very person, that "the Church lives by Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ."

"Thank you for having taught us this, over the past 25 years, with your words and examples," he concluded. "Holy Father, you can count on us."

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Colombian Priest Convinces 38 Guerilla Fighters To Lay Down Their Arms

Bogotá, Colombia, Oct 22, 2003 (CNA) - A group of 38 guerilla fighters surrounded by the Colombian Military in Cupica Bay requested mediation from a representative of the Catholic Church in order to negotiate their surrender to authorities.

Father Dalmero Metaute received a message from the Colombian Military Forces to come to Cupica Bay at the request of the guerillas "in order to avoid a massacre."

Despite concern by parishioners for his well-being, Father Dalmero responded to the message and agreed to meet with the guerillas.  "They were specific.  They wanted to surrender but they wanted guarantees and so they asked the Church to mediate," he said.

After the meeting, Father Dalmero spoke with Colonel Héctor Aguas, commander of the 6th Infantry of Bahía Cupica, informing him of the guerrilla's intentions. Colonel Aguas agreed to their conditions for surrender.

"We were afraid this effort might not pay off.  We asked the guerrillas to trust and believe in the Church to guarantee their safety and return to civil life," the priest said. 

The leader of the guerrillas, who was only 23 years old, said, "We made the decision because it is impossible to work with the current President and we have become an obstacle to what the government is trying to do.  We don't want to be a part of this war anymore." 

The 38 guerrillas were detained briefly by the Military and then handed over to the Attorney General to being the process of reintegration into civil life.

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Church In Mexico To Ask Congress To Outlaw Cloning

Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 22, 2003 (CNA) - The director of Ministry for the Sick of the Archdiocese of Mexico City, Father Jorge Palencia, announced he will petition members of the Mexican congress to outlaw cloning in the country.

Palencia explained the legislators sometimes face intense pressure from the scientific community to talk about therapeutic or reproductive cloning without allowing equal time for those opposed to the practice.

The National Pro-Life Committee also called on the government of President Vicente Fox to change the "shameful" position of Mexico at UN gatherings, in which it has not expressed opposition to the discussions on the approval of embryonic human cloning, which will be up for vote next Monday.

The President of the Committee, Rocío Gálvez, also requested that Mexico's position at the United Nations be consistent with national law concerning the illicit use of human organs, tissues, cells and corpses, including embryos and fetuses. 

While participating in a Youth Congress organized by the Pro-Life Committee and titled, "Cloning: baby machines," Father Palencia emphasized, "More attention should be paid to what our society thinks about the defense of human life.  The majority of Mexicans defend the right-to-life of the embryo from the moment of conception."

He also proposed seven strategies which should be followed: Insist on open dialogue with heath officials and NGO's; build bridges between science and bio-ethics; insists "with our own life" what it means to respect the human embryo; work for the full disclosure concerning the human genome project and assisted reproduction; proclaim the justice of the Kingdom of God for those who have no voice, especially the unborn; and fight for the rights of the embryo.

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