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Archive of July 23, 2004

Marriage Protection Act only a temporary solution, Pro-family groups say

Washington D.C., Jul 23, 2004 (CNA) - Major pro-family groups congratulated the House of Representatives for passing the Marriage Protection Act, but said it is only a a short-term solution until a constitutional amendment can be passed.

The House approved a bill Thursday to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over same-sex marriage cases. The Marriage Protection Act was adopted 233 to 194. Utah Republican Reps. Rob Bishop and Chris Cannon and Democrat Jim Matheson voted for the legislation.

GOP sponsors described the bill as a fallback measure that would prevent federal courts from ordering states to recognize gay marriages that are permitted by other states. The bill, drafted by Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., would prevent such a ruling by denying all federal courts, including the Supreme Court, jurisdiction to rule on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 federal law that says that no state has to recognize same-sex unions established in any other state.

Robert Knight,  from the Culture and Famly Institute said that "lawless judges are unilaterally destroying marriage by imposing a nonsensical version on us. They want to use the law to force us to say that a wedding without a bride is just like any other wedding. The mark of an oppressive government is when it forces its citizens to lie. Pretending that a marriage without a bride or without a groom is still a marriage would be a government-imposed lie that would reach down into our communities, undermine marriage itself and put more children at risk."

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released a statement saying that  the vote was necessary for two reasons: "Firstly, Congress is well within its authority to limit the ability of activist judges at the federal level to redefine marriage out of existence. Secondly, this vote will serve as a gauge for voters to see whether their Members of Congress truly believe that marriage should remain an institution reserved for one man and one woman."

"We applaud the House for passing this bill. However, because it is only a statute, like the Defense of Marriage Act, this measure is vulnerable to being struck down by an activist judge. For that reason, we will continue to push for both the House and Senate to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution protecting marriage. Only then will the hands of activist judges at all levels be tied,"  Perkins added.

Sonja Swiatkiewicz, state issues analyst for Focus on the Family, agreed that the legislation is good, but said it's not nearly as strong as having a marriage-protection amendment that would constitutionally define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

"The Marriage Protection Act, if passed, will be effective in what it is designed to do -- rein in the federal courts by removing the federal DOMA from their review," she said. "However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that state DOMA statutes and constitutional amendments are not addressed by this bill and will be left as vulnerable after its passage as they are now."

"We must pass the Federal Marriage Amendment to protect marriage in this country — both at the national and state levels," Swiatkiewicz added.

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., called  the bill good legislation that America needs.

"Throughout history, civilizations that have undermined the family have ended up on the dustbin of history books, of failed civilizations," Akin said. "And so this is an absolutely crucial issue to all of us."

The bill is likely to face strong opposition in the Senate, where some Republicans joined with Democrats last week to block a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

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Vatican announces international congress for priests in Malta next October

Vatican City, Jul 23, 2004 (CNA) - "Priests for the Formation of Saints for the New Millennium, In the Footsteps of the Apostle Paul" is the theme of the International Congress for Priests, organized by the Congregation for the Clergy, which will take place in Malta from October 18 to 23.

The congress will begin on Monday afternoon, October 18 in the capital city of Valletta with a solemn Eucharistic celebration in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, presided over by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

On Tuesday October 19, Cardinal Castrillon and Archbishop Bruno Forte, recently appointed metropolitan archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Italy, will speak respectively on "Paul, Evangelization and the Challenge of the Encounter of Cultures," and "Trinitarian Holiness of the Priest". In the afternoon, there will be a penitential celebration followed by confessions in different languages, after which Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Evangelization of Peoples, will preside at Mass in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Mosta.

On Wednesday October 20, the third speech on the theme "The Christocentric Holiness of the Priest" will be given by Msgr. Juan Esquerda Bifet, a theologian. Later, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M.Cap., preacher of the Papal Household, will speak on "Pneumatological-Pauline Holiness of the Priest."  In the afternoon in the Grotto of St. Paul the Apostle, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome, will give a meditation on "Pauline Holiness and Evangelization" and Cardinal Ivan Dias, archbishop of Bombay, India, will preside at a Eucharistic celebration in the Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle.

On Thursday October 21, Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy, will speak on "The Eucharistic Holiness of the Priest" and Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, will then deliver a talk on "The Marian Holiness of the Priest." In the afternoon, the participants will attend Eucharistic adoration, followed by a Mass presided over by Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster, Great Britain.

On October 22, there will be a pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine of Ta' Pinu on the island of Gozo. In addition, there will be the rosary with meditation and a Mass with the Christian community of Gozo presided over by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State. Cardinal Castrillon will then make an act of consecration to Our Lady.

In a letter addressed to priests with information on the program of the congress, Cardinal Castrillon indicates that it has not been possible to create a fund of solidarity in order to cover the costs of those who could not afford the conference.

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Pope expresses sadness, unity in prayer with victims of train crash in Turkey

Vatican City, Jul 23, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father sent a message of sympathy to Archbishop Edmond Farhat, apostolic nuncio in Turkey, upon hearing of the train crash that occurred last evening between Istanbul and Ankara that killed at least 36 people and left 79 injured.

“Having learned of the dramatic train accident that happened between Istanbul and Ankara and which caused many victims,” the message reads, “the Holy Father expresses his sympathy and his spiritual closeness to the families touched by this tragedy.”

“He entrusts the deceased to the mercy of the All Powerful and he assures all the wounded and their families of his prayers, remembering also all the people who took part in the rescue operation,” read the telegram.

“The Pope presents his sincere condolences to the authorities of the country and to the Turkish people, asking everyone to show support for those tried by this catastrophe. As a sign of comfort, he implores for everyone the support of divine blessings,” the message concluded.

Search and rescue efforts, launched after a high-speed train en route from Istanbul to Ankara derailed in northwestern Turkey, ended on Friday, the local Anatolia news agency reported.

The train left Istanbul at 6:00 p.m. Thursday (1500 GMT) with 234 passengers and 12 crew aboard. About halfway to Ankara, it derailed near Pamukova town of northwestern Sakarya province around 7:45 p.m. (1645 GMT).

According to the government crisis center, most of the casualties were in the first two cars of the five-carriage train.

The high-speed train made its first journey between Istanbul and Ankara on June 4, when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim joined the first passengers of the train.

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Pro-Life Democrats puzzled by DNC pro-abortion platform

Washington D.C., Jul 23, 2004 (CNA) - Just one day after the Democratic National Committee invited the Democrats For Life of America to attend their convention next week, the DNC Platform Standing Committee issued a statement today clearly rejecting all pro-life efforts.

“Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman’s right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay.  We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right,” reads page 36 of the platform, which is to be ratified at the convention in Boston.

“The platform committee has confused pro-life Democrats across America,” said Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats For Life of America.

“We are proudly pro-life and proud Democrats. But given that we are 100 percent committed to protecting the rights of the unborn, are we now considered Republicans in the eyes of the Platform Committee?” questioned Day.

Day believes this sentence in the platform document is an oversight of the committee. She hopes the DNC will clarify this language before the Convention begins in Boston next week.

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New Catholics not detracted by abuse crisis, say their faith is holding strong

Cincinnati, Ohio, Jul 23, 2004 (CNA) - Catholics in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, who are new to the Church, say their faith has not been deterred by the sexual abuse crisis. Rather, they are enthusiastic about their faith and the future, reported the Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph.

Heidi Miller, who was raised in the Evangelical Church of God, was received into the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil. Miller said her journey to Catholicism was not side-tracked by the abuse crisis.

"The Church has problems that it needs to address, but that didn’t detract me at all from joining,” she told the diocesan paper. “It was a sin committed on the part of a few priests, so we should blame the sinners but not the Church. The Church is a gift to keep us together. We need to look past this and see this as Jesus’ Church."

Pat Haungs was raised by a German Jewish father and a Methodist mother. The mother of nine was active in the Presbyterian Church but decided to leave after a difficult struggle. Several years later, she joined the Catholic Church.

Haungs said the abuse scandal did not detract her from joining the Catholic Church. The widow also knows two abuse victims and is well aware of their hurt and pain.

"The Church isn’t the priest or the nuns, the Church is the people," she told the Telegraph. "It’s time to get rid of the evil and take control. It’s the people who make the Church, and there is no Church with out them."

Both Miller and Haungs believe that Catholics, struggling with their faith as a result of the crisis, need to stay involved with the Churh and help it to grow. Also, they would like the clergy to deal with thinds more openly.

“Abandoning the Church is like abandoning Jesus,” said Miller, “and He would never abandon us as much as we might sin."

Jim Kapp believes contemplation and prayer are key to the healing process. The former Methodist admits to having experienced only an initial impact by the abuse crisis. His wife’s faith and his own familiarity with the Church helped him keep things in perspective.

"Certainly it’s a serious issue and one that need be addressed, but you can get hung up on one issue," he said. "For me, the bigger picture is our faith and the Church itself.”

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Press report reveals Catholic lawmakers ignore bishops

Washington D.C., Jul 23, 2004 (CNA) - An Associated Press report reveals that Catholic lawmakers are ignoring the U.S. bishops’ statements that those who support abortion should not receive Communion. The report, based on interviews with 75 Catholic politicians and published yesterday, also reveals that Catholic politicians do not believe voting for abortion jeopardizes their standing in the Church.

At the end of their plenary in June, the U.S. bishops issued a statement that lawmakers, who consistently support abortion, risk "cooperating in evil" and must examine whether they should receive the sacrament.

However, many of the politicians interviewed said they would not change how they worship and resented attempts to link the Communion to politics.

Virginia Lt. Gov Tim Kaine, who supports abortion rights with restrictions requiring parental consent for minors and banning late-term abortions, told the AP that he believes he is in accordance with Church teaching.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio said he would refrain from taking Communion at the request of his bishop, but his bishop has not asked him to do so.

U.S. Rep. James Langevin, a Democrat from Rhode Island, said he believes abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest or if a mother's life is in danger. "I am very comfortable with my status, and quite frankly, my relationship with God is direct and personal and the Church is merely a guest in that relationship," he told the AP.

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said she respects the Church’s view that abortion is wrong, but as a senator, she would “not make criminals of those women who do not agree with the Catholic Church's position."

Republican New York Gov. George Pataki and Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy from Vermont told the AP that their faith was a personal matter and declined to comment.

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Pregnant women in Spain who suffer from AIDS request help to avoid abortion

Madrid, Spain, Jul 23, 2004 (CNA) - The Association of Abortion Victims (AAV) in Spain are responding to calls from pregnant women infected with AIDS who are being pressured by health officials to procure abortions, despite the fact that new treatments have brought about a reduction in the chances of the virus being passed on the fetus.

The AAV referred to the case of a 23 year-old woman “who has been pressured this year because she is HIV-positive and she wants to continue her pregnancy by taking the necessary medical treatment to prevent her baby from contracting the virus.”

The woman became pregnant “after she had already become HIV-infected and the chief doctors and gynecologists of the Hospital in her area pressured her not to have the child.”

“They told me to get an abortion because they said the baby was going to be born HIV-positive for sure, that he would be deformed and that he would be a monster,” said the mother, who decided not to kill her child and instead sought medical treatment throughout the pregnancy.

Her child was born completely normal and HIV tests were negative.  “We are awaiting the results of a second test, but even if my son has the virus, I have the right to have him and to be a mother.  They had no right to treat me like this for nine months.  My child has not been a burden to anybody, and if he is sick, I will take care of him,” she told the AAV.

According to the AAV, “This 23 year-old mother did not want to get an abortion and she has had to defend the life of her child during the entire pregnancy, leaving her psychologically devastated.”  “There are more cases like this coming to the attention of Association.  Men and women are becoming victims of social pressure to not have their children,” the group said.

“In the name of all those pressured by their doctors, bosses and families, and of all those who have been forced to have an abortion,” the association called for greater support from society for couples in difficult situations who want to continue forward with their pregnancies.

“People must know the scientific truth about the physical and psychological consequences of abortion or the termination of pregnancy and they should have other options besides abortion,” the Association added.

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Brazilian Archbishop says candidate’s stance on life must be priority

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 23, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Dadeus Grings of Porto Alegre, Brazil, issued a pastoral letter this week exhorting Catholics not to vote for candidates who support abortion and denouncing candidates who take advantage of the “people’s needs.”

In his letter, published just days after a Federal court legalized abortion for babies suffering from anencephaly, the Archbishop explained, “There are various factors in deciding whom to vote for.  In terms of local elections, where it is easier for everyone to know each other, these factors are more easily understood and applied.  In terms of one’s ideology, for us the most fundamental factor is one’s stance on life.”

“During the first years of Christianity, there were three sins considered the most serious and which required public repentance:  murder, adultery and apostasy,” said the Archbishop, adding that “today the issue of murder involves abortion, euthanasia, and all violence in society.”

“In other words,” he continued, “the first factor in determining one’s vote is the position that the candidate takes on the value of the human person.”

Likewise, referring to how candidates act, the Archbishop warned that “many candidates, in spite of the laws, continue taking advantage of the needs of the people in order to obtain votes.  Because of this we can barely say we live in a democracy.”

“The Church is not a party, she does not favor any one party or candidate,” he added, saying that for this reason “no party can claim the title of Catholic or Christian.”

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