Archive of July 15, 2004

Battle for marriage ‘has just begun’ says family group after Senate blocks amendment

Washington D.C., Jul 15, 2004 (CNA) - The vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment in the Senate shows just how little regard senators have for the will of the people, said Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins yesterday.

The constitutional amendment, which would have preserved the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, had been debated both in and out of the Senate for months. However, senators only cast their votes yesterday.

Recent polls indicate that between 60 and 70 percent of Americans want marriage to remain one man, one woman, Perkins noted. In addition, nine states are poised to have state constitutional amendments on their ballots this fall on marriage.

“Americans realize that the protection of marriage is vital to the future of the family, the welfare of children and the security of our nation,” he said.

"The Senate's vote today has left the future of marriage in the hands of unelected judges, at least for the time being.”

Perkins vowed in a press release that the “fight [for marriage] has just begun.”

The FRC said pro-family groups have benefited from the debate over the past few days.

“Every time this issue is forced into the public square, the opposition to same-sex 'marriage' among the American public grows,” said Perkins. “Second, we now know which Senators are for traditional marriage and which ones are not, and by November, so will voters in every state.”

The FRC is promoting "thank you" or "shame you" messages to senators at:

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Cardinal Sodano meets with Russian foreign minister

Vatican City, Jul 15, 2004 (CNA) - This morning the vice-director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Ciro Benedettini, C.P., announced that a meeting had taken place between the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

“In the course of the meeting,” said Benedettini, “there was an exchange of views on bilateral relations between the Holy See and Russia and on the international situation, with special interest in dialogue among cultures and collaboration within international organizations.”

He added that “the serious problem of peace in the Holy Land and Iraq was also touched upon” and that “the meeting demonstrated the cordial relations that exist between the two parties and the possibility of further developments.”

Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States and Vitaly Litvin, ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Holy See, also participated in the meeting.

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Bishop Kicanas denies ‘conspiracy’ in announcing possible bankruptcy

Tucson, Ariz., Jul 15, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson defended his diocese’s decision to consider filing for bankruptcy in the Yuma Sun yesterday after begin accused of resorting to bankruptcy to avoid settling claims of sexual abuse.

The diocese is expected to appear before the court in three cases of sexual abuse in September.

Lynne Cadigan, an attorney representing an alleged victim of clergy sexual abuse, told the newspaper that the discussion about bankruptcy is a ploy by the diocese to taint the jury pool and persuade potential jurors that it is poor and can't afford to compensate victims.

But Bishop Kicanas rejects this argument. He told the Yuma Sun that filing for Chapter 11 is the best way for the diocese to respond to "those who have been hurt."

Last year, three Yuma families filed civil lawsuits against the Diocese of Tucson, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and a priest for the alleged sexual abuse.

The plaintiffs met with diocesan representatives May 17 in an attempt to reach a settlement, but the meeting was unsuccessful.

Bishop Kicanas said he was disappointed with the outcome of the meeting and that the demands of the plaintiffs remain beyond the means of the diocese.

There are 16 lawsuits against the Diocese of Tucson, alleging sexual abuse of minors by priests still pending.

Since the sexual abuse scandal was first reported, the diocese started a program for the protection of children. The diocese has background checks done on every staff member and provides training for staff to recognize abuse and report it.

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Vietnamese Catholic refugees arrive in U.S. diocese

La Crosse, Wisc., Jul 15, 2004 (CNA) - Thanks to Catholic Charities, about 3,600 Christian refugees from Hmong, Vietnam, will be resettled in Wisconsin. Almost 300 of these will be in La Crosse.

These refugees are a Catholic minority from Northern Vietnam, who were persecuted by the Vietnamese government for their faith.

The first of 28 Hmong refugee families, who are expected to resettle in La Cross, arrived Tuesday from Thailand, reported the La Crosse Tribune.

Most of the refugee families have relatives living in La Crosse, which officials believe will ease the process of assimilation. The refugees will be eligible for welfare-to-work services, food stamps and Medicaid. Wisconsin also has made $1 million available to counties, expecting large numbers of Hmong, to help pay for job training.

The refugees were among 15,000 Hmong who have been living in makeshift conditions in a temple compound, north of Bangkok, since the refugee camps there closed several years ago.

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Alarm in Italy as growth of Satanism creates “market” for consecrated hosts

Rome, Italy, Jul 15, 2004 (CNA) - Fr. Aldo Buonaiuto, director of an “emergency help line” that assists young people wanting to get out of satanic cults, expressed alarm this week at the growth of Satanism, which has created a “market” for consecrated hosts in Italy.

In statements published in the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana, Fr. Buonaiuto explained that “a proliferation of cults exists which practice black masses, with the profanation of consecrated hosts, rape and torture.”

“We know of cases of consensual vampirism, and also the assaulting of young people who have been drugged in the course of ritualistic orgies.” 

According to Fr. Buonaiuto, “A true ‘market’ for consecrated hosts exists. They sell for 80-500 euros, depending on the size of the host, the prominence of the church from which they were stolen, and who consecrated them.”

“The highest price is placed on those that are consecrated in the churches of Rome, above all those closest to the Vatican.  They are stolen in two ways: from the tabernacle, but also at the time of Holy Communion,” he said.

“Some cults perform rituals with the consecrated hosts while under the influence of LSD or cocaine, led frequently by ex-priests who have offered themselves in the service of Satan,” he told Famiglia Cristiana.

According to Fr. Buonaiuto, the proliferation of these cults is very much connected with “the loss of the sense of the sacred.”  “Man needs to fill himself with something, and today the market is full of superficial alternatives, among them, Satanism,” he concluded.

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Turkish convert persecuted for the faith hopes to return as a priest to his country

Madrid, Spain, Jul 15, 2004 (CNA) - Seminarian Timothy Aytac, a Turkish convert from Islam, who suffered not only rejection but also persecution and violence in his country, expressed his desire to return to his native Turkey to serve the Church in the ministry of the priesthood.

“They beat me with a baseball bat for converting to Christianity,” Aytac told the Spanish newspaper “La Razon,” explaining his difficult path towards conversion to the Christian faith.

“I met Christians through a friend when I was 18.  I spoke often with my Christian friends about religion, and thanks to that I realized that I really didn’t know that much about Christianity.  So I began to read the Bible,” said Aytac.

“My conversion was a process that lasted almost two years.  I was fascinated by Jesus, by his love for mankind, especially for me, because He gave his life for me on the cross.  On the outside, there are not many differences between Christianity and Islam, but when you get interested and begin to compare, you realize the differences are great, especially in the essentials.  When I was a Muslim, to me Jesus was only one of the prophets.  Now I believe He is the Son of God,” he added.

Asked about the reaction from those around him, Aytac said his decision was not accepted by his family and he had to leave home.

“In my country, when I speak about my faith I am safest behind the walls of a church.  Behind those walls there is no problem, I can speak and act freely.  Although sometimes I cannot be at ease:  one time I was attacked in a church, I was struck with a baseball bat.  Fortunately they didn’t hit my head, which could have killed me!”

The future priest says he is no longer afraid of persecution “because I belong to Christ, it doesn’t matter if I am alive or dead.”  Therefore, he is intent upon returning to Turkey after being ordained.

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Colombian bishop battling cancer and seeking peace with rebels

, Jul 15, 2004 (CNA) - For a long time Bishop German Garcia Isaza of Apartado, Colombia, has been battling against two very powerful enemies: lymphatic cancer and the internal conflict in Colombia.

In a report published in the newspaper “El Tiempo,” Bishop Garcia acknowledged he is suffering from the terrible disease but he said it has not limited his work as the Catholic Church’s envoy, together with Bishop Julio Cesar Vidal of Monteria and Fr. Leonidas Moreno, in discussions between the Government and rebel leaders.

His work for peace entails “a series of trips from Apartado to Monteria and to Santa Fe de Ralito, which he has completed without incident, and he is optimistic now that negotiations are underway.”  In the meantime, his illness requires him to “spend three weeks in a room at the Clinic of the Americas in Medellin, where he receives chemotherapy.”

“Yes, I do have lymphatic cancer, but I have quietly accepted it,” said the 67 year-old bishop, adding that “during treatment I try to encourage other patients so that they do the same.  I tell them the first life we receive is from mother and father.  It’s like an ice cream cone, delicious, but soon it’s gone, like it or not.  The other life, that of Baptism, does not end.  It is nourished by the Body and Blood of the Lord, and with prayer.”

“My life has been an exciting adventure, with good things and bad.  I had a difficult period when I was Apostolic Prefect in Tierradentro, where I had a confrontation with guerrilla soldiers who tried to attack me, and since that didn’t work they killed some of my friends and catechism teachers.  That was very hard.  It was the first and only time in my life I felt the temptation to hate.  Fortunately God got me out of that situation,” the bishop recalled.

Bishop Garcia is convinced that he will see peace come to Colombia.  “This beginning of negotiations is going to end successfully,” he said.

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