Archive of July 26, 2004

Kerry floats on abortion issue to win Catholic vote, says Catholic League

Washington D.C., Jul 26, 2004 (CNA) - In a press release issued on Friday, Catholic League president William Donohue accused Senator John Kerry of floating on the abortion issue because he wants the Catholic vote.

Donohue made this comment in reference to Kerry’s recent television interview with ABC TV anchor Peter Jennings.

“Senator Kerry recently said he believes life begins at conception,” Donohue pointed out. “Accordingly, Peter Jennings asked, why isn’t ‘even a first-trimester abortion not murder?’

“Because it’s not the form of life that takes personhood in the terms that we have judged it to be in the past. It’s the beginning of life,” Kerry replied.

Donohue compared the distinction Kerry made between human life and personhood with the 1857 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized slavery. In that ruling, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote that members of “the negro race” were “not regarded as a portion of the people or citizens of the Government.”

The judge concluded: “It is too plain for argument, that they have never been regarded as part of the people or citizens of the State.”

During the television interview, Kerry also said, “being pro-choice is not pro-abortion.” 

This “dichotomy,” says Donohue, “is equally troubling” and represents a “tortured logic on abortion.”

“Voters need to know exactly what it is about abortion that Kerry doesn’t like,” said Donohue. “In other words, why isn’t he pro-abortion? 

“Kerry wants the Catholic vote,” he said.

Donohue also made reference to an AP article, which states that most Massachusetts delegates are Catholics, who describe themselves as “non-practicing, lapsed, recovering and even unhappy.”

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Satanism suspected in horrific murder of priest in Chile

Santiago, Chile, Jul 26, 2004 (CNA) - Initial investigations into the murder of a priest at the Cathedral of Santiago, Chile, are pointing to Satanism as the motive behind the gruesome act in which a young man attacked the priest at the end of Mass, leaving him decapitated and with dozens of stab wounds.

74 year-old Father Faustino Gazziero D’Estefani of the Servants of Mary had just finished celebrating Mass at the Cathedral on Saturday afternoon when he was met in the sacristy by a 24 year-old man, dressed completely in black, who decapitated the priest and then inflicted numerous wounds upon himself.

According to parishioners who were at the Cathedral, before attacking the priest, the man shouted out blasphemies against God and the Church.

“The first thing I heard was a heartbreaking shriek over the loudspeaker and I ran forward thinking the priest had fallen or had suffered a heart attack, and I found him in a pool of blood and with the young man kneeling down, covered in blood and cutting himself on the face,” said a witness.

Police officers confirmed that only one person was detained and identified him as Rodrigo Enrique Orias Gallardo.  First reports indicated he did not have a criminal history but unofficial sources confirmed he belonged to a satanic sect in the country.

The suspect was transferred to a local hospital to receive treatment for lacerations of the trachea, but police said his condition was stable.

According to police chief Hector Henriquez, Orias Gallardo did not show signs of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago Cristian Contreras expressed his grief at the tragic death of the priest, but he said that he did not “want to say anything else that might distract us from this painful and sad act which has us all profoundly distressed.”

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Governor removes link to Planned Parenthood site after bishop’s letter

Sioux Falls, S.D., Jul 26, 2004 (CNA) - The governor of South Dakota has asked that a link to a Planned Parenthood teen site be removed from the state library Web page after Bishop Robert Carlson of Sioux Falls wrote him in May, urging him to take action.

Gov. Mike Rounds made the request to the state library board earlier this month and the board complied.

This action has spurred the debate once again about the separation of church and state.

Bishop Carlson told The Associated Press that it was his moral obligation to ask the governor to take action. 

Public officials must make decisions based on moral beliefs, Carlson told the AP, and his letter amounted to moral guidance to the governor.

However, Rounds said he did not object to the abortion information on the Planned Parenthood site. Rather, he said, it contained a link to another site that urged visitors to protest Bush administration initiatives. Rounds said he is not opposed medical information on abortion being on the state's Web site.

Rounds is planning a review of state Web sites to see if they comply with the state's Web policy, which discourages content that advocates a political issue or party. He added that content should be suitable for all ages.

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Teacher’s union presses Archdiocese of Philadelphia for elections

Philadelphia, Pa., Jul 26, 2004 (CNA) - The Association of Catholic Teachers has put pressure on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to let the 125 custodians and maintenance workers of the archdiocese’s 21 high schools unionize.

The workers had expressed interest in joining the union last spring. However, the archdiocese refused to hold a private election to decide whether the workers could be represented by the teachers’ union, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Due to the archdiocese’s stance, the Association of Catholic Teachers filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board seeking an election, and a labor relations board hearing is planned for Friday.

The teachers’ association also turned to the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO for help.

Council president Patrick Eiding agreed to send a letter to AFL-CIO affiliates asking them to urge the archbishop, Justin Cardinal Rigali, to reconsider the archdiocese's position.

In a statement, the archdiocese said it was opposed to the involvement of the National Labor Relations Board and would challenge the board’s ability to “interfere with the right of religious schools to conduct their mission."

If the matter is not resolved by September, Rita C. Schwartz, president of the Catholic teachers' union, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that custodians and maintenance workers might set up informational picket lines outside Catholic high schools.

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National policy plan for women includes legalization of abortion in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 26, 2004 (CNA) - The First National Conference on Policy for Women in Brazil approved this week the legalization of abortion as a part of a set of guidelines for the government’s National Plan for Policies for Women.

The National Plan will be developed by a task force recently created by Brazil’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The Plan will be presented on November 25, the International Day of the Combating of Violence Against Women, and according to the Special Secretary for Policies for Women, Nilcéa Freire, the recommendations of the conference will be “considered” in the drafting of the document.

Freire explained that the recommendation of the legalization of abortion will be sent to Congress as a proposal that current law on the issue be reviewed.

 “We are saying that abortion is a key point to think about in policies for women,” said Jacira Melo, member of a feminist movement that lobbies for legalized abortion.

According to abortion proponents, the National Plan will also propose a review of legislation that deals with domestic violence against women and the broadening of services available for women who are victims of assault.

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Bishops says Church in Venezuela “does not make or change governments”

Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 26, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Mario del Valle Moronta of San Cristobal, Venezuela, said this week that while it’s not for the Church to make or change governments, it is her mission to enlighten the actions of the faithful in their task of building a new country.

“It’s not up to the ecclesiastical hierarchy or its institutions to make or change governments, but rather instead to enlighten the action of the faithful and men and women of good will in their task to build up and guide the members of society,” the bishops said in a seminar at the Tachira Catholic University.

Bishop Moronta explained that “the Church is on the side of man, without exception.  If the Church, particularly the hierarchy, takes up sides, we will not be able to promote reconciliation.  The personal leanings of bishops cannot be given priority;  what should be first is love and pastoral charity.”

He also mentioned that in the current national political struggle, “each group wants the Church to say what best suits it.”

Bishop Moronta clarified that “when the Church issues documents or opinions, she should do so in an evangelical sense, but also as part of the people which she serves.”

He went on to say that “the brokenness we are experiencing today is a consequence of social, cultural, economic and above all, moral deterioration, which all began decades ago.”

Therefore, he said Venezuelans “will not be reconciled with each other if we are not willing to look at the causes in order to confront and resolve them, without leaving aside everything that is currently be done to achieve reconciliation.  If we do not take this step, we may agree on how to live together and even on what type of government to have to certain degree, but in the end it will be very difficult and could lead to further frustrations.”

Bishop Moronta says it is urgent that “bridges be built between all levels of society” and that a process of reconciliation that values the human person be promoted.  Reconciliation must go hand in hand with forgiveness, not focusing on punishment but on taking the risk to help the other person who has done wrong to be converted and to change, he concluded.

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