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Archive of August 17, 2004

Pope to celebrate mass, beatify three at Loreto

Vatican City, Aug 17, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II is scheduled to celebrate mass and beatify three people in Loreto, home to the renowned shrine, which is believed to contain within its walls the house of the Holy Family.

The Pope will make his day trip from Castel Gandolfo to Loreto by helicopter Sept. 5. During the 10 a.m. mass, he will beatify Fr. Pedro Tarres Y Claret, Alberto Marvelli and Pina Suriano. The Pope is scheduled to give the homily.

Following the noon Angelus, the pontiff will visit the Pope John Paul II Youth Center, where he will have lunch and rest before returning to Castel Gandolfo.

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Vatican willing to help dialogue in Iraq on condition of serious intent for peace

Vatican City, Aug 17, 2004 (CNA) - Several entities have asked the Holy See if it would be possible for it to intervene in the suspension of the fighting in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq, says a press release, issued by the Holy See Press Office this morning.

“The Holy See, obviously, is always willing to help the parties dialogue,” says Fr. Ciro Benedettini, director of the press office, “on the condition that there truly exists the will to speak seriously about peaceful resolutions to the conflict.”

The aposotolic nuncio in Baghdad is following the situation, he added, and the Vatican’s secretary of state remains in strict contact with him, as well as with the Chaldean patriarch and the conference of Iraq bishops.

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U.S. bishops up efforts for Sudan

Washington D.C., Aug 17, 2004 (CNA) - The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a call for prayers and a special collection in parishes for the people suffering persecution and deprivation in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Bishop Wilton D. Gregory has asked that special prayers be offered Aug. 22, and that parishes take up a special collection at a convenient time. The funds would be forwarded to Catholic Relief Services, which is currently working with the Church in Sudan to try meet the needs of the people. However, more assistance is needed, he said.

The bishop said Catholic Relief Services would ensure that all funds go to the Sudanese people who are most in need.

World leaders have called the current situation in Sudan the "worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” While the conflict has been on for decades, government-backed Arab militias there, known as the "Janjaweed," have killed an estimated 30,000 Black Africans in the Darfur region in the last 17 months.

Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, chairman of the USCCB International Policy Committee, recently traveled to the Darfur region to assess firsthand the dire humanitarian situation. He visited camps, where tens of thousands of people were huddled under plastic sheets for protection against the driving rains and wind.

The people of Darfur told Bishop Ricard how armed groups rode into their villages, killed family members, and drove people from their homes and lands.

"We pray for the intercession of St. Bakhita, native of Darfur and the first Sudanese saint, that the conflict might end and the rights and dignity of each and every person might be respected," said Bishop Gregory.

In related news, a broad coalition of religious, human rights, and humanitarian organizations will hold a "Day of Conscience" for Sudan, Aug. 25.

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National clergy leader urges voters to take pro-life convictions into voting booth

Sioux Falls, S.D., Aug 17, 2004 (CNA) - This year’s presidential elections are pivotal for the pro-life movement, says Fr. Frank Pavone. With that focus, the director of the international pro-life organization Priests for Life, will be in the Sioux Falls region this week to speak to thousands of area residents about the November election.

Talks are scheduled to take place Aug. 18-19 at St. James parish in Chamberlain, the John Paul II School in Mitchell, St. Benedict Church in Yankton, and St. Joseph's Cathedral in Sioux Falls. Fr. Pavone will also lead demonstration and prayer vigil in front of the Sioux Falls Planned Parenthood clinic, and will meet privately with Bishop Robert Carlson.

The focus of Fr. Pavone's message is that it is impossible to be a Catholic in good standing with the Church and yet vote for pro-abortion candidates. Fr. Pavone will be aggressively targeting Catholic and Christian voters, and urging them to "bring their Christian convictions into the voting booth on November 2nd."

He will also challenge all priests to make the abortion issue and the election the central focus of all their homilies between now and November and to urge their parishioners to vote pro-life candidates into office.

Fr. Pavone dismissed charges that he and Priests for Life are trying to unfairly influence the presidential election.

"All we are saying is that this year's elections are pivotal for the pro-life movement, and that it is therefore imperative that we elect more public officials who are willing to do something to restore full protection to the lives of unborn children," he said.

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Pro-lifers win right to demonstrate in front of abortion clinic

Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Aug 17, 2004 (CNA) - It was a major win for pro-life demonstrators in the City of West Palm Beach, where a federal judge ruled that the area outside an abortion clinic is public property and no trespassing arrests can be made there, reported The Associated Press.

In three years, the city has made at least three arrests and threatened to arrest others on the swale between the road and sidewalk at an abortion clinic, under the mistaken belief that the land was private property.

Protesters insisted the land was public property, but the city disagreed. However, a survey completed in June, concluded the land was public, Assistant City Attorney Joni Hamilton told U.S. District Judge William Zloch.

Hamilton told the judge that city police would no longer arrest or threaten to arrest people in those areas.

Demonstrators also are challenging the city's noise ordinance, which allows the clinic to play music from a boombox in its driveway but forbids the demonstrators from using a megaphone.

The city ordinance bans sound originating on public but not private property from traveling more than 10 feet.

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Thousands of Peruvians in pro-life march demand President ban abortion pill

Lima, Peru, Aug 17, 2004 (CNA) - Thousands of Peruvians of all ages gathered in front of the country’s Palace of Justice to demand for the protection of human life from the moment of conception and that President Alejandro Toledo stop distribution of the morning after pill and ensure that the Peruvian Constitution is obeyed.

Families, students, professionals, and representatives of diverse civil groups marched in the streets of the capital, carrying banners, balloons, and signs referring to the defense of human life.

Several speakers shared their testimonies and spoke out against the misinformation, the distribution and commercialization of the morning after pill, as well as its inclusion in the public health policy of Peru.

Protest organizers denounced the efforts by Peru’s Health Minister, Pilar Mazzetti, to hide the pill’s abortifacient effect from the public. They added that the march is the beginning of a series of activities to defend the unborn, the constitutional right to life from conception to natural death, and to promote the family.

Protestors signed a statement that will be given to President Toledo, which among other things calls for the defense of all human rights and the suspension of the sale and distribution of the morning after pill.

Various pro-life groups in Peru, as well as international pro-life organizations such as Human Life International and the Population Research Institute, lent their support to the march.

Manipulation in the media

Although pictures of the march—published by some communications media—confirmed the participation of thousands of Peruvians, newspapers such as “El Comercio” and “Peru 21” downplayed the event.

“El Comercio” claimed that “some one thousand members of diverse organizations were convened by the United for Life National Coordinator to demand the prohibition of the morning after pill, which they consider to be abortifacient.”

In an even more blatant example of bias, “Peru 21”—which belongs to the same editorial group as “El Comercio”—reported that the march was attended by just 200 people.  The newspaper is known for openly aligning itself with groups that promote the legalization of abortion and birth control.

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Pakistani bishops to present letter on family life in Asian bishops’ conference

Lahore, Pakistan, Aug 17, 2004 (CNA) - The “Pastoral Letter on Family Life” published by the Pakistani bishops conference will be presented by Mgr. Lawrence John Saldanha, Archbishop of Lahore, and Mgr. Anthony Lobo, Bishop of Islamabad – Rawalpindi, at the 8th Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) that opens today in Daejeon, South Korea.  They will join the other 90 other Asian bishops to discuss “The Asian Family: towards a Culture of Life.”

“It is a great opportunity for bishops from across Asia to interact with one another. It is an experience that cannot but enrich and push us to work and cooperate more closely,” Mgr. Saldanha told AsiaNews yesterday evening.

“We shall submit to the FABC Assembly the ‘Pastoral Letter on Family Life’ we released back at Easter, and shall speak about the discriminatory laws Christians endure in Pakistan,”  he said.

Discrimination against Christians in Pakistan is commonplace and the state’s ‘blasphemy laws’ do nothing to discourage it.

The issues touched upon in the letter include major problems of divorce and abortion. “We would like to reaffirm the teaching of the Church that a valid Catholic marriage cannot be dissolved. So we do not accept divorce, even though other religions may allow it.”

“We already have family life commissions in every diocese,” Archbishop Saldanha said, “but we want them to become more active in helping people prepare for married life according to Christian doctrine.”

The bishops have planned to commission married couples who will be trained as counsellors to engaged or married couples on issues such as natural birth control in an attempt to give families more support, education and guidance.

Abortion is the primary method used to limit the growth of families in Pakistan, one the Pakistani bishops can only vehemently speak out against, repeating the Church’s teaching that the killing of unborn children is murder.

There are about 1.3 million Catholics in Pakistan in a population of about 143 million.

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Archdiocese of Mexico calls for “just and sensible” immigration reform

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 17, 2004 (CNA) - Speaking with reporters in the Mexican capital, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City, criticized the use of rubber bullets against Mexicans trying to cross the border into the US and he called for immigration reform that respects the dignity of the human person.

“All countries have the right to guard their borders and regulate immigration, but without violating human rights or sacrificing people’s dignity,” the Cardinal said.

 Meanwhile the latest edition of the Archdiocesan newspaper called for “just and sensible” immigration reform and rejected the use of violence against Mexican immigrants.

The newspaper called the authorization of the use of non-lethal arms against illegal immigrants inhumane, saying they endanger the lives of many people.

It underscored that before human rights continue to be trampled upon, a detailed evaluation of current policy is necessary, as well as consultations over the use of non-lethal weapons on the border with Tucson, San Diego and El Paso.

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Salvadoran Archbishop says country cannot give in to terrorist threats

San Salvador, El Salvador, Aug 17, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle exhorted the country’s government and population not to give in to supposed threats by terrorist groups that seek to destabilize the country.

“To be frightened and change our attitude about plans in the face of terrorist warnings, whether they are true or false, signifies a serious weakening in the rule of law,” said Archbishop Saenz.

The archbishop called on all international governments and organizations to discover and control terrorists so they will no longer “keep humanity in suspense.”

At least three Islamic organizations linked to Al Qaeda have threatened to launch attacks on El Salvador if the country continues to maintain its contingent of military forces in Iraq, and they demanded the country reverse the decision to send a third contingent to the country.

Since last March 380 Salvadoran troops are in Iraq working on humanitarian projects.

The Archbishop of San Salvador offered his support to the soldiers and called on the country to “pray much for our fellow countrymen, because to go in these circumstances is heroic.”

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