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Archive of July 9, 2004

A book by Pope John Paul II “being edited,” Polish Catholic news agency announces

Warsaw, Poland, Jul 9, 2004 (CNA) - Father Pawel Ptasznik, head of the Polish section of the Vatican's Secretary of State, has revealed to the Polish Catholic news agency KAI that a  book by Pope John Paul  II  is "being edited"  and ready for publication.

The book, dealing with issues of philosophy and existence, "seems…already ripe for publication," said Fr. Ptasznik; but he also explained that it is still in the editing stages.

"It is a long process and you should not expect it to be published in the immediate future," he added.  "As for its content, I can only say that reports that it is mostly about the problems of totalitarianism are not true," he said.

"It is an open secret that years ago Father Jozef Tischner suggested to the sovereign Pontiff an interview on philosophical and existential themes," Fr. Ptasznik also told KAI.

Father Jozef Tischner, a philosopher, theologian and author, died in Cracow on June 28, 2000 after a long illness at the age of 69.  A close friend of the Pope, it is said he held frequent and long conversations with him on questions of human existence and the accountability of human liberty, among other philosophical concerns.

Fr. Ptasznik told KAI that "unless I'm mistaken, the interview (with Tishner) took place in the summer of 1984 and was recorded." Since then, the Pope  "has reworked his ideas."

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Another U.S. diocese considers bankruptcy; Catholic Church Bankruptcy News publishes first issue

Covington, Ky., Jul 9, 2004 (CNA) - An attorney for the Diocese of Covington announced Wednesday that the diocese is considering filing for bankruptcy in order to remain financially solvent.

The Covington Diocese has already paid out $14 million to settle claims of sexual abuse. But it is currently facing a class-action lawsuit, alleging a widespread cover-up of abuse by diocesan officials, which could cost it tens of millions of dollars. The plaintiffs' attorneys claim to have hundreds of victims, involving more than 50 priests over the past half century.

Earlier this week, the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., filed for bankruptcy for the same reason.

"There is a popular myth that Catholic dioceses have unlimited funds and an unlimited ability to generate contributions from the faithful,” said attorney Carrie Huff of Chicago, who is defending the Covington Diocese in the lawsuit. “Portland, and probably several other dioceses, are about to demonstrate that this assumption is at odds with reality."

The Diocese of Tucson is also considering filing for bankruptcy.

Given these announcements, Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc., has created a per pay newsletter, Catholic Church Bankruptcy News, tracking this week's Chapter 11 filing by the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon and any other archdioceses that may follow.

Frauline S. Abangan, one of the newsletter's editors says that "while the Roman Catholic Church isn't a traditional business, the same principles apply in this restructuring as any other." 

"The value of the enterprise needs to be determined, creditors need to be lined up in order of their statutory priority and the value of the enterprise will be distributed to those creditors,” she said.

A free copy of the first issue of the newsletter is available at http://www.bankrupt.com/catholic.txt

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Stem-cell research must be guided by principles, says Archbishop Chaput

Denver, Colo., Jul 9, 2004 (CNA) - Catholics have the right and civic obligation to carry their convictions about the sacredness of human life into the public debate, as in the case of embryonic stem-cell research, said Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver in his most recent column in the Denver Catholic Register.

“Don't be bullied by claims that religious believers are ‘against science’ or ‘uninterested in cures.’ This is nonsense,” he said. “It's a smokescreen, designed to hide the motives of some of the scientific and corporate stakeholders in the stem-cell debate.

“The Church always supports scientific research that genuinely serves the human person. That includes, in a general sense, stem-cell research,” said the archbishop.

“Stem cells, harvested from adults or umbilical cords, pose no moral problems and have great value for medical research,” he clarified.

The real struggle in stem-cell research, he said, is really a narrower fight over the use of tissue from embryos and aborted unborn children.

“If we're serious about our Catholic faith, if we're really committed to a culture of life and to humanizing American society, then our approach to science should be governed by a simple and very sensible rule: The end never justifies the means,” he wrote.

“A good end, like researching a cure for Alzheimer's, can never excuse an evil act done to accomplish it, like destroying and using embryos for experiments, or colluding in the abortion industry by harvesting the remains of killed unborn children,” he continued.

“For Christians, human life from the moment of conception should always be treated as having the dignity of a child of God, and must never be treated as an object. The harvesting of cells from aborted unborn children is material cooperation in the evil of abortion itself, which always attacks and destroys a human life,” said the archbishop. “The use of cells obtained by destroying embryos is an equally direct attack on the human person.”

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Mel Gibson donates $140,000 to keep cross in LA county seal

Los Angeles, Calif., Jul 9, 2004 (CNA) - Mel Gibson is reportedly planning to spend more than $140,000 to keep a cross on a government seal in Los Angeles.

According to sources close to Icon Films, the Hollywood actor-director will actively take part in a campaign, which was begun a religious group to protest against the removal of the cross on the official Los Angeles county seal.

According to The Herald Sun, Gibson expressed his disappointment over the proposed scrapping of the cross because of legal threats from civil rights groups.

On June 1, LA County supervisors caved in to a demand made by the ACLU, which threatened to sue the county if it did not remove the cross. As a result, the county decided to remove the cross.

But the Thomas More Law Center, a national, public-interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed a lawsuit in federal district court in California, seeking to prevent county officials from removing the cross from the county's official seal.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Ernesto Vasquez, a county employee, who objects to the removal of the cross because it sends a government-sponsored message of hostility towards Christians in violation of the United States Constitution.

The specific use of Gibson's donation has not been specified, but it will be used to support the campaign against ACLU's effort to remove the cross from the county seal.

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Pope calls for solidarity to end poor countries' debt

Vatican City, Jul 9, 2004 (CNA) - In a letter to Cardinal Renato Martino president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Holy Father called developed countries to solidarity with the poor by ending the debts of less developed countries.

The Pope’s letter was penned on the occasion of the Council-sponsored international seminar being held today in the Vatican on “Poverty and Globalization: Financing for Development, including the Millennium Development Goals.”

Assuring the participants of his “prayers and encouragement for this most important work,” the Pope noted that “the conditions of extreme poverty afflicting many millions of people are a cause of grave concern to the international community.”

“The Church, committed to a 'preferential option for the poor', naturally shares in that concern and strongly supports the Millennium goal of halving the number of people living in poverty by the year 2015,” he wrote.

“Through the many Catholic aid and development agencies,” he continued, “She makes her own contribution to relief efforts, thereby continuing the work of Christ Himself, who came to bring good news to the poor, to feed the hungry, to serve and not to be served.”

“Much work has already been done,” he wrote, “to reduce the burden of debt afflicting poor countries, but more is needed if developing nations are to escape from the crippling effects of under-investment and if developed countries are to fulfil their duty of solidarity with their less fortunate brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.”

“In the short to medium term,” he continued, “a commitment to increase foreign aid seems the only way forward, and the Church therefore welcomes the search for innovative solutions, such as the International Finance Facility.”

The Pope added that “at the same time, financial support from wealthy nations places an obligation on the receiver to demonstrate transparency and accountability in the use made of such assistance.”

“I am confident that the governments of rich and poor countries alike will take seriously their responsibilities towards each other and towards their people,” he said in conclusion.

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European court denies personhood and human rights to unborn child

Brussels, Belgium, Jul 9, 2004 (CNA) - The European Court of Human Rights meeting in Strasbourg, France,  rejected  an immigrant’s appeal requesting that human rights be granted to an unborn child.

The 17-judge panel said it could not rule on a case filed by a French woman in France who was forced to have an abortion after a doctor's mistake.

Thi-Nho Vo, a French national of Vietnamese background,  had argued that France had violated the right to life of her unborn child.

Vo, 36, went to a hospital in Lyon  on Nov. 21, 1991 for an exam when she was six months pregnant.   On the same day, another woman of Vietnamese origin with the same last name, Thanh Van Vo, was due to have a contraceptive device removed.

Vo did not speak French and her gynecologist mistook her for the other. The doctor pierced her amniotic sac, making abortion necessary.

After French courts refused to convict the doctor of involuntary homicide,  Vo took the case to the European court.

In a 14-2 decision, the European Court concluded that “it was neither desirable, nor even possible ... to answer in the abstract the question whether the unborn child was a person.”

The court also said that personhood  was “a question to be decided at national level ... because the issue had not been decided within the majority of states.”

The decision was welcomed by the London-based Family Planning Association, which filed arguments warning that accepting a right to life for a fetus could make abortions illegal in all 45 countries that recognize the court's jurisdiction.

“The decision will safeguard the laws on abortion which have been widely adopted in the European member states, and will serve to protect women's rights to life, health, self-determination and equality,” said Anne Weyman, Executive director of the pro-abortion organization.

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Young pro-lifers walking for life from Maine to DC arrive in NY

Washington D.C., Jul 9, 2004 (CNA) - 12  pro-life Catholic college students walking from Maine to D.C. as part of the American Life League's “Summer Crusade for Life,” arrived in New York state, and are planning demonstrations in key New York areas.

This Saturday, July 10, beginning at 8:30 a.m., the walkers will conduct a march from Brooklyn to the Bronx that will include stops outside six abortion clinics along the way-including the nation's second largest abortion clinic in Manhattan.

"In a city that has experienced so much sorrow and loss of innocent human life in recent times, we feel it is important that women know the truth about abortion. It is not their only option, and it always results in at least two casualties: the mother and her child," said Emily Bissonnette, a Crusade walker and a senior at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.

"This march will give us the opportunity to affirm the two basic tenets of our effort: the hidden reality of the child in the womb and the hidden reality of Christ truly present in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist," she added.

The Summer Crusade for Life is part of American Life League's Crusade for the Defense of Our Catholic Church, an effort launched in January 2003. American Life League is calling on all Catholic bishops in the United States to enforce Church law (Canon 915) and bar all known pro-abortion "Catholic" public figures from receiving Holy Communion until they publicly recant their public support for the "grave moral evil" of abortion and return to communion with the Church through the sacrament of Penance.

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Homosexual activists influence sex-ed content in public schools of Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 9, 2004 (CNA) - The news agency Notivida is denouncing a controversial sex-ed curriculum written by the extremist Gay and Lesbian Society for Integration in Argentina and which will soon be under consideration by the Education Committee of the Buenos Aires local government.

According to Notivida, the sex-ed material is openly “hedonistic and pro-gay” and includes references to sexual orientation, using the word “gender” instead of “sex,” the promotion of gays, lesbians, transvestites and bisexuals as minorities, and the portrayal of masturbation and sexual relations between three or more individuals as normal “sexual conduct.”

Notivida warned that if approved, the material would be distributed by the Secretary for Education of the city of Buenos Aires and would be obligatory “for all students at all levels of the educational system.”

Moreover, the material would be distributed “in all teaching institutions in the city of Buenos Aires, whether they are public or private,” and “parents would not be able to exempt their children from the sex-ed classes.”

Notivida said it was alarming that the material was based on the conclusions of a meeting in May of 2000 in Guatemala, organized by the Pan American Organization of Health and the World Association of Sexology. 

At that meeting plans were made to introduce legal changes at the international level, and it defined “sexual rights” as “fundamental and universal human rights with precedence over cultural values.”

The “sexual rights” the Pan American Organization of Health wishes to spread in the region include “the right to sexual freedom,” the “right to sexual equality,” the outlawing of discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation, “the right to sexual pleasure,” including masturbation, the “right to free sexual association,” including the right to marry or not, to get divorced and to establish other types of sexual relationships between persons of the same sex, and the “right to make free and responsible reproductive decisions,” including recourse to abortion.

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Jail sentences for two men that disrupted Mass in German Cathedral

Berlin, Germany, Jul 9, 2004 (CNA) - A German court in Maguncia has sentenced two men to 5 months in jail for disrupting Mass last Sunday celebrated in the city’s Cathedral by the local bishop and president of the Bishops Conference of Germany, Cardinal Karl Lehmann.

The two men, 29 and 45 years old respectively, received jail time just one day after the profaned the celebration of a Mass that was being broadcast live on television in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the first televised Mass on the Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen network.

The two men interrupted the Sunday Mass, pulled the linen off the altar, sending the ornaments and candles of the altar crashing to the floor.  One of the men shouted indiscernible Bible verses through a megaphone inside the Cathedral.

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Cardinal Rouco tells homosexuals baptism cannot be erased

Madrid, Spain, Jul 9, 2004 (CNA) - Responding to the decision of about 1,500 homosexuals who “officially” renounced their Catholic faith in writing to the Archdiocese of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco said Baptism is a sacrament that leaves an indelible mark and the person that receives it will always be Catholic.

The Cardinal recalled that whoever receives Baptism will be a Catholic “always, their whole life,” and although one can renounce one’s faith, like a child who repudiates his father, being Catholic is something that cannot be erased—it is a “part of one’s DNA.”

The Cardinal underscored that Baptism “cannot be erased” and that baptismal records always serve a civil purpose since they are used to determine the number of Catholics.

He also emphasized the indelible mark left by Baptism, comparing it to a child who denies his father.  “He might be able to repudiate him, change his last name, renounce his inheritance, refuse to know anything about him, but he will always be his son and there is nothing that can be done about that,” he said.

He also referred to the example of a priest who leaves the clerical state and marries.  He will never cease to be a priest, since orders is a sacrament which also leaves an indelible mark.  “It is for all eternity,” said the Cardinal.

Cardinal Rouco expressed his sadness over the recent decision of homosexuals, emphasizing the “affection” of the Church for all her children and the special “the charity and comprehension” it extends to homosexuals.

Homosexual unions

Cardinal Rouco also reiterated the impossibility of making homosexual unions the equivalent of a marriage contracted between one man and one woman, which has one of its purposes procreation.

Marriage “is a common sense thing” and defended not only by the Catholic Church, but it is also a reality that belongs to natural law 350 years before Christ, he added.

Cardinal Rouco also recalled that the Pope recently exhorted the Spanish government during the visits of the new ambassador to the Holy See, and the president of the country, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero:  defend the family and avoid treating homosexual unions as “marriages.”

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90 year-old Spanish priest starts center for AIDS patients in China

Madrid, Spain, Jul 9, 2004 (CNA) - 90 year-old Spanish priest, Fr. Luis Ruiz Suarez, has opened a home for AIDS patients called “AIDS Caring Centre” in the Chinese port city of Hong-Jian, on the Yuan River.

Although his work is not as well-known as that of Vincent Ferrer or Mother Teresa of Calcutta, since his arrival in China in 1941, Jesuit Fr. Suarez has opened a total of 145 homes for victims of leprosy, giving assistance to more than 10,000 victims of the disease, according to the magazine “Missionaries of the Third World.”

Chinese authorities asked the Spanish Jesuit to open a center for the treatment of AIDS patients.  After accepting the invitation, Fr. Suarez obtained all of the resources and material to open the center, which includes a detoxification and rehabilitation facility for drug addicts.

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