Archive of July 29, 2004

Vatican's congregation to publish document confronting feminism, "gender" ideology

Vatican City, Jul 29, 2004 (CNA) - On Saturday, July 31, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will publish a document that confronts confusions generated by feminism and by the "gender" ideology.

The document, published with the approval of Pope John Paul II, is entitled "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World."

According to Vatican officials who spoke to CNA, the document confronts some of the most critical consequences of  "women's issues."

In particular, the text offers the Catholic perspective to two common distortions of feminism:

" First, the tendency to see women as opposed to men, and therefore, their liberation as a task that is only accomplished by seeking to grab "power" from men.

" Second, the tendency to minimize sex as a physical difference and replace it by the "purely cultural element" of "gender."

The document sees this second feminist distortion as the source of current cultural and politician trends calling into question family and marriage as the commitment between one man and one woman.

According to Vatican sources, the document will only provide "initial reflections" from a biblical and theological perspective on the issue, and will propose a perspective of reconciliation -"active collaboration"- between the sexes, highlighting the difference between man and woman as complementary and not opposed.

The document will be published in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

CNA will make the full document available to its readers on Saturday.

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AMA's demand for morning-after pills 'appalling', says USCCB official

Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2004 (CNA) - The American Medical Association's request to make the morning-after pill available over-the-counter is "sad" and "appalling," says Gail Quinn, Executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.

The medical association joined abortion advocates yesterday in a campaign to make morning-after pills available over-the-counter so that young women and girls will be able to obtain these drugs, "whether or not they 'need' them, whether or not they might be contraindicated, … without even a doctor's oversight," says Quinn.

The Federal Drug Administration decided last month to reject the request on scientific grounds - there was no evidence that the drug did not have adverse effects on teenage girls.

The drug's manufacturer, Barr Laboratories, admitted to the FDA that there are no studies of the drug's effect on adolescents and no data indicating that it is safe effective and usable across age groups.

"That a highly regarded medical association such as the AMA would attack the FDA for fulfilling its mandate - to put health interests over commercial interests - is as sad as it is appalling," said Quinn.

Barr is estimated to make $25-$100 million on the drug.

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U.S. Bishop urges Bush to reconsider travel restrictions to Cuba

Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2004 (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement July 27, urging the Bush administration to reconsider the recent restrictions it imposed on travel from the United States to Cuba.

These restrictions, say the bishops, "will serve only to exacerbate the situation" in Cuba.

Earlier this year, the Bush Administration announced more stringent restrictions on the amount of baggage licensed travelers to Cuba may carry and on the types of items that can be sent in gift parcels to Cuba.

The measure, aimed at financially strangling Castro's regime, is severely affecting the economy and living standards of Cuban families, who receive significant support from U.S. resident relatives.

"We believe the goals of improving the lot of the Cuban people and encouraging the democratization of the governance of Cuba are best accomplished through more rather than less contact between the Cuban and American peoples," said Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee. Bishop Ricard is the chairman of the USCCB International Policy Committee.

Bishop Ricard thanked members of the U.S. House of Representatives for their support of an amendment, offered by Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona to the Commerce, Justice, and State appropriations bill. The bill would bar the Commerce Department from enforcing the new restrictions.

"The Flake amendment addresses a small part of the larger structure of travel limitations, sanctions and the embargo imposed by the U.S. government against Cuba," said Bishop Ricard. "We encourage you to revisit the more significant Treasury Department's Cuba travel regulations later this year with a view toward softening their unnecessarily restrictive aspects."

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Pro-life group files suit to challenge broadcast ban, defend freedom of speech

Milwaukee, Wis., Jul 29, 2004 (CNA) - In an effort to defend its freedom of speech and run an advertising campaign as a grass-roots organization, Wisconsin Right to Life (WRL) filed suit yesterday against the Federal Election Commission in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The suit requests an injunction to allow WRL to run anti-filibuster grass-roots lobbying ads into a broadcast ban blackout period.

The WRL ad campaign in question asks citizens to contact Senators Russell Feingold and Herbert Kohl and to urge them to oppose the filibustering of President Bush's judicial nominees.

However, under the provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, more commonly known as McCain-Feingold, WRL is prohibited from airing its media campaign, because it names Sen. Feingold - who is running for re-election - within 30 days prior to the primary election on Sept. 14 and then within 60 days prior to the general election.

However, WRL can mention Sen. Kohl since his name is not on the ballot. The campaign began with radio ads July 26. TV ads are slated to start next week.

This year's election will be the first test of the provisions of McCain-Feingold, which was enacted in March 2002. Numerous organizations, in addition to WRL, have expressed opposition to this broadcast ad ban, including the AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Right to Life Committee.

In December 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the broadcast ban. The Court, however, left open claims that the broadcast ban would be unconstitutional as applied to certain types of ads. WRL is the first organization in the country to file suit in federal court, claiming that the broadcast ban is unconstitutional as applied to grass-roots lobbying advertisements.

"Now is the time for organizations like Wisconsin Right to Life to challenge a law that we believe infringes on United States citizens' First Amendment right of freedom of speech," said Barbara Lyons, executive director of WRL. "The broadcast ban wrongly restricts citizens' ability to learn about and influence on an upcoming vote in Congress."

"The McCain-Feingold law drastically reduces the influence of the citizen of average means because the association of like-minded individuals is essential to effective participation in the public arena," said James Bopp Jr., who filed the suit on WRL's behalf.

"With the little guys locked in the dungeon of nonparticipation, the rich and powerful will run politics, much as they did before the adoption of the first and foremost campaign reform, the First Amendment," he said. "The First Amendment protects the right of citizens to influence those in power on the critical issues of the day through grass-roots lobbying."

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Vatican Dicastery publishes book on family and ethical questions

Vatican City, Jul 29, 2004 (CNA) - The Pontifical Council for the Family has published a book compiling ethical questions related to family and marriage that have been addressed by bishops during courses promoted by the dicastery around the world.

The book, published in Italian and entitled "The Family and Ethical Questions," is the first in a series of three books that will confront moral issues related to family and marriage.

In the introduction, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Council, writes that during these courses, the more than 1,200 bishops who participated reflected on "the central themes of the pastoral mission in terms of the family and life and pastoral ethical questions."

"The twenty-five years of the pontificate of John Paul II, successor of Peter and the Pope of the family and of life," writes Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, "have given a global and historical dimension to the questions addressed in this volume and in future editions. For this reason, we want this publication to be a tribute to the universal pastor, example of closeness and passionate concern for the family, the domestic Church and sanctuary of life."

The Council has announced that the book will be published in other languages as well.

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Bishop kidnapped by Marxist rebels not given message for government

, Jul 29, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Misael Vacca of Yopal, Colombia, who was released after being kidnapped for three days, confirmed he was held captive by the illegal Marxist group ELN, but he said that because of "a lack of coordination" the guerrilla movement was not able to send the political message it had announced it would.

According to the bishop, the ELN intended to have him convey a message to the President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe.

"From what they told me, I was kidnapped because they wanted me to bring a message to the government, but apparently the person who was going to give me the message wasn't able to show up, so the only thing they gave me was a huge scare," the bishop told reporters in Yopal.

Bishop Vacca confirmed that he was held on a ranch by four people, two men and two women.

"The troops (of the Colombian military) were present in the area and that for sure was what prevented this person from showing up and bringing the message that they wanted to give me," he added.

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Spanish politician says grandparents should encourage their children to have more babies

Madrid, Spain, Jul 29, 2004 (CNA) - On the occasion of Grandparents' Day, which traditionally falls on the feast of Sts. Joachim and Ann, a leading politician in the Spanish region of Galicia, Manuel Fraga, reminded older adults that their role in increasing the country's birth rate is to encourage their children to have more babies, "because today people are not having enough."

Fraga made his comments in front of 400 grandparents from all over Spain gathered in Santiago de Compostela.

"Children are the best investment for the future of Galicia, and grandparents must guarantee that this investment is made," said Fraga.

Fraga praised the work of grandparents in contributing through their "daily efforts" to the building up of a "more just, more humane, more united" society.  Likewise, he reminded them that the enjoy a "privileged position" for "encouraging" their children to have "more babies," thus increasing the birth rate and contributing to the development of the country.

Fraga underscored the "important and marvelous" relationship which grandparents have with their grandchildren. 

As a grandparent himself, Fraga says he enjoys immensely his seven grandchildren and considers them a "treasure."  But, he lamented the fact that his children "married too late, because if they had done it like me I would already be a great-grandfather."

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