Archive of October 27, 2003

Vatican Supports Banning all Forms of Human Cloning at UN Conference

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2003 (CNA) - The Holy See’s Press office made public today the speech delivered last week by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations, during the International Convention Against the Cloning of Human Beings."

Archbishop Migliore focused on the “serious dangers that cloning involves for human dignity” and the need for international agreements that regulate all aspects of cloning.

“My delegation,” he stated, “wishes to reaffirm its view that the matter before us can be resolved through the earliest ban on human embryonic cloning”.

“It must be clear that the position my delegation takes is not, in the first instance, a religious one. It is a position informed by the process of reason that is in turn informed by scientific knowledge”, he added.

“Issue is not complex”

“We have heard,” continued Migliore, “a number of statements from a variety of delegations that this is a ‘complex’ issue.”
“The science may be complex –he added, - but the issue for us is simple and straightforward: The matter of human cloning that involves the creation of human embryos is the story of the beginning of human life,” and is “a universal issue because an embryo is a human being regardless of its geography.”

“If reproductive cloning of human beings contravenes the law of nature - a principle with which all delegations appear to agree - so does the cloning of the human embryo that is slated for research purposes.”

A cloned embryo for this purpose, explained the Vatican delegate, “is destined for pre-programmed destruction.”

The Vatican “wants to remind this distinguished assembly that one of the fundamental missions of the United Nations is to uphold the rights of all human beings,” concluded Migliore.

“If the United Nations were to ban reproductive cloning without banning cloning for research, this would, for the first time, involve this body in legitimizing something extraordinary: the creation of human beings for the express purpose of destroying them,” he finally said.

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“Voice of the Faithful” Summit Offers “Cooperation” after Harshly Criticizing Bishops

, Oct 27, 2003 (CNA) - Participants at the Summit of the lay organization “Voice of the Faithful” (VOTF) convoked this weekend at Fordham University's Rose Hill Campus, harshly criticized Catholic bishops, but also offered unspecified “cooperation” to face the Church’s current crisis.

VOTF’s Keynote speaker, former priest Eugene Kennedy, a psychologist, opened the meeting with a joke about the vacation plans of each person of the Holy Trinity and said the Holy Spirit option was: “I'd like to go to Rome. I've never been there.”
Kennedy also said that the church hierarchy, by denying sexuality, had lost its understanding of the human person and even true holiness, making scandal possible, and called homosexuals “the scapegoats of the age.” “This is a problem of the official church, in which the people have lost their confidence, not of Catholicism, in which they retain their faith,” he said.

On her turn, Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly, the former president of the College of New Rochelle, accused the bishops of fighting “numerous opportunities to give the laity a greater voice,” from with the Second Vatican Council to the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin's “Common Ground” initiative.

Sister Kelly also said lay people “have to be ready to sacrifice reputation, friends even, to press our cause” in front of what she called the hierarchy's “continued defensiveness.”

Steve Krueger, VOTF national executive director from Boston, insisted that the group's members, as faithful and committed Catholics, could be the bishops' “best friends” if the bishops “would just listen.”

But according to Gary Stern, correspondent of the Journal News “Somewhere, the ears of bishops were burning. And if they heard all that was said about them at yesterday's Voice of the Faithful conference in the Bronx, their stomachs might have been churning.”

According to Stern, who reported the event for his newspaper, in re-examining the church's sex-abuse scandal, the VOTF conference “berated, rebuked and belittled a church hierarchy that many in attendance seemed to believe has no regard for them.”

“Judging from attendance at yesterday's conference, which surprised even organizers, Voice of the Faithful has ample support in this region — at least among white Catholics over 50 who favor blazers and sweaters,” he added.

Victims of sexual abuse were also present at the meeting, urging VOTF to “keep the heat” on the bishops.

In fact, Paul Baier of Boston-based “Survivors First,” said that “The church has no right to talk about pro-life, genetic engineering, euthanasia, until we get this right.”

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Ten Commandments Case Might Get Review In Supreme Court

, Oct 27, 2003 (CNA) - America's highest court is expected to decide Nov. 3 whether it will review an Alabama case involving the public display of the Ten Commandments.

The Thomas More Law Center submitted a brief with the Supreme Court of the United States last week, petitioning the court to review a lower court decision to remove a public monument of the Ten Commandments.

The brief argues that the attack on the Ten Commandments is based on the 1980 Supreme Court case of Stone v. Graham. The court ruled that a Kentucky law, which required the Ten Commandments to be posted on public school walls, was unconstitutional. Since then, lower federal courts have used this decision to remove such monuments throughout the nation. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, has not decided a case involving the Ten Commandments outside of a public school context.

Richard Thompson, chief counsel of the Law Center, said this fight over the monument represents a much larger battle over the future of religion in the U.S. He said the debate has surfaced the hostility towards Christianity and the country's religious heritage.

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Venezuelan Archbishop Says Country Following Playbook of World's Inhumane Regimes  

Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 27, 2003 (CNA) - The President of the Venezuelan Bishops Conference and Archbishop of Diocese of Mérida, Archbishop Baltsar Porras, said that in the face of the crisis the country is currently facing, the government is following the playbook of inhumane regimes such as that of Nazi Germany. 

In an interview with a nationwide television program, Archbishop Porras explained that "to see what is happening in Venezuela reminds me of the mentality of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Francoist Spain, the Sandinistas of Nicaragua, and the Cuban playbook which Evo Morales is following in Bolivia." 

The Archbishop pointed out that the Venezuelan government has adopted certain "propagandistic aspects, strategies designed to grab hold of institutions and bring them down through false accusations and lies."

He also called it fallacy to say there are many priests supportive of the government of Hugo Chávez. Some priests, he explained, "had been very hopeful" that certain problems would have been addressed by Chávez, but instead those in political office "have acted like moral superiors rather than as governors of  the people" 

Archbishop Porras also said that despite attacks on the clergy, the Church in Venezuela stands firm. History demonstrates how "governments pass away and the Church remains."  

However, he continued, the Church does nothing nor will she do anything to bring about the demise of the Chávez government, because "governments fade away all by themselves." 

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Chileans and Argentines Remember Pope's Intervention That Prevented War

Santiago, Chile, Oct 27, 2003 (CNA) - Catholics in Chile and Argentina gathered together this past Saturday to express thanks for the Pope John Paul II's role in mediating a crisis between the two countries that could have led to war.

The theme for the gathering, which coincided with celebrations honoring John Paul II in his 25 years as Pope, was "Blest are you, messenger of life and peace," bringing Catholics together in the southern regions of Chile and Argentina.

Those participating in the event included the Apostolic Nuncios, Archbishops Aldo Cavalli and Adriano Bernardini, of Chile and Argentina respectively, Bishop Luis Infanti of Aysén, Bishop Pedro Ronchino of Rivadavia, and civil authorities of the Aysen region and of the Andean province of Chubut.

The act of thanksgiving took place Saturday evening at Our Lady Of Peace Chapel in Balmaceda and included special prayers for John Paul II on his anniversary and in gratitude for his important role in diffusing the crisis in 1978 between the two countries that could have led to war, which would have greatly impacted the families that live in the area.  After the celebration of the Eucharist, participants celebrated with folkloric dance and music.

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Media Should Respect John Paul II Says Vatican Radio Official

Rome, Italy, Oct 27, 2003 (CNA) - Vatican Radio's Latin America Marketing Director, Father Javier San Martín, has called on the media to treat the Holy Father with greater respect and refrain from exalting his frailty.

Speaking to Mexican reporters, Fr. San Martín lamented the morbid focus on the Holy Father's health problems prevalent in many media outlets, focusing more in his gestures rather than his message in recent public appearances.  He pointed as an example to the emphasis given to the Pope's reading difficulties, the effort it takes him to speak, or to speculations about papal succession. 
"It's interesting that they don't even mention that the Pope's health is stable.  It's always said to be increasingly worse, especially during the last year."

He added that with such a prognosis, "by now the Holy Father would no longer be with us."  

Fr. San Martín denounced the fact that at least sign of movement or expression by the Holy Father, the cameras are on him showing the image of a Pope that, according to the press, is about to die."

Likewise, he said that out of respect for the Pope, journalists should act with professional ethics and objectivity, because although he is weak and old, "he should be seen as human in order to admire his strength."

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Catholic Nurses In Africa Restate Opposition To Abortion

Benin City, Nigeria, Oct 27, 2003 (CNA) - The Catholic Nurses Guild of Nigeria has vowed to continue to uphold the value of human life and oppose abortion and euthanasia, which are contradictory to all Christian teachings and Church doctrines.

The national president of the guild, Hon. I.L. Amaseimogha, restated this recently as part of the guild's aims and objectives at its 17th national conference held at the Bishop Kelly Pastorate Centre, Benin City.

Catholic nurses are determined to serve God "through the application of spiritual care, as we see Christ in the faces of the sick," she said. They will continue to resist all forms of socioeconomic immorality and defend the sanctity of the family in the Christian spirit, she added.

Amasiemogha explained that the guild follows the doctrines of the Church strictly and condemns mercy killings or euthanasia.

"We believe in preserving human life; the Catholic nurse never gets involved in criminal abortion as the Church condemns it in its entirety," she said.

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Catholic Students Better At Math

, Oct 27, 2003 (CNA) - Catholic school students scored higher on New York States fourth- and eight-grade math exams than public schools. The data was released Oct. 22 Diocese of Syracuse.

The results showed a stark contrast: 92 per cent of the elementary school students in the 16 Catholic schools Onondaga County passed the fourth-grade math test, while only 78 per cent of public school students passed the test. In the eighth grade, 75 per cent of Catholic school students passed the test, while only 51 per cent of public students passed. At five Catholic elementary schools, all of the fourth-graders passed the exam.

Teachers explained the good results are a result of small class sizes, structured classes, strong parent involvement and extra time spent during and after school to make sure students master problem areas.

Some of the Catholic schools also had children scoring a Level 4 on the tests, meaning that they exceeded state standards. At one Catholic elementary school, 80 per cent of the children scored at Level 4. About 13 per cent of Catholic grade eight students scored at Level 4, compared with 9 per cent in public schools.

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Cardinal Terrazas Implores Bolivians to Stop the Bloodshed and Revenge

La Paz, Bolivia, Oct 27, 2003 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santa Cruz, Cardinal Julio Terrazas, called on Bolivians to stop the cycle of revenge and begin to work for reconciliation in the country. 

“No more bloodshed—we cannot continue to soak our country in blood, because we are showing the world we are acting almost like savages.  Let’s not make the dead our cause for vengeance,” said the Cardinal.

Just back from the Vatican where he celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s papacy, the Cardinal said it was time to begin healing the wounds caused by the social unrest which led to the resignation of President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada.

Cardinal Terrazas said the country needs peace and tranquility, but he also called on the new leaders to resolve the problems that led to the tragic events of the last few weeks.

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Schiavo To Get Guardian

, Oct 27, 2003 (CNA) - The law signed by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, which allowed him to order Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube reinserted states that the brain-damaged woman must receive an independent guardian within five days.

A judge ordered lawyers for both sides to agree within five days on Terri’s independent guardian, who would become her advocate in legal proceedings. However, her husband, Michael Schiavo, would remain the decision-maker.

If an agreement cannot be reached, the judge will appoint Dr. Jay Wolfson, a professor of health and law at Stetson University.

The 39-year-old woman’s parents have accused their son-in-law, who has a girlfriend with whom he has a child, of selfish motivations. He won $1.2 million in a malpractice case against his wife's gynecologist and another $250,000 in a settlement with her general practitioner. In addition, he received $300,000 for pain and suffering and loss of consortium.

Michael Schiavo declined to comment on whether there is an outstanding life insurance policy on his wife.

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Brain-Damaged Daughter Responds to Kisses

, Oct 27, 2003 (CNA) - Bob Schindler who has fought for more than five years to keep his brain-damaged daughter Terri Schiavo alive said when he visited her yesterday she responded with a gutteral “Uh-uh” to turn down his kisses, reported CNN.

"I was in front of her and I'm kissing her on the cheek, and she doesn't like that," Schindler told CNN. He said he then asked if he could kiss her again and she said:”Uh-uh. Uh-uh.”

The Schindlers and Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, have been battling in the courts for the last five years about Terri’s fate. Her husband says Terri would not have wanted to continue in this vegetative state. Her parents say their daughter is responsive and should not be left to die. After the court ruled in Michael’s favor last week, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush intervened in the case on Tuesday and ordered Terri’s feeding tube reinserted.

Up until Wednesday night, Michael was not allowing Terri’s family to visit her. He has since changed his mind, but he is still not allowing Terri’s family access to the medical reports on her current condition.

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