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Archive of August 20, 2004

U.S. expected to grow while rest of world shrinks, says report

Washington D.C., Aug 20, 2004 (CNA) - A report released this week claims that almost all of the developed world will face serious and sustained population decline over the next five decades except for the United States. An above-replacement fertility rate and immigration will account for continued population growth, says the Population Reference Bureau (PRB).

Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute reported on the PRB report in its latest issue of the Friday Fax.

According to the report, entitled "2004 World Population Data Sheet," the U.S. is one of few countries in the world whose fertility rate is not falling.

The report predicts that the U.S. population will grow from its current 294 million to 420 million by 2050. “Among the developed countries, only the United States is likely to see significant growth,” it says.

In contrast, Europe is facing fertility rates that fall well below the replacement level, which is two children per woman. "In many European countries, the annual number of births is [already] less than the number of deaths," says the report.

It appears that the regions of Southern and Eastern Europe will face the most severe population decline. Both regions now have an average fertility of 1.3 children per woman. Northern Europe averages 1.4 children per woman, while Western Europe fairs slightly better at 1.6 children per
woman.

PRB projects that because of such low fertility, most Eastern European nations will shrink by about a quarter of their population size. Bulgaria will shrink by about 40 percent, from a current population of 7.8 million to 4.8 million by 2050. A number of Southern European countries, including Italy, Portugal and Greece, are expected to lose at least 10 percent of their current populations.

Such decline is all but inevitable, because these countries already possess too few young people in proportion to older people, says the report.

For Europe, there are now only slightly more people under the age of 15 than over the age of 65, a problem that is even worse in Asian countries such as Japan, where only 14 percent of the population is below age 15, while 19 percent is above age 65. These trends mean that the Japanese population is due to contract by 21 percent over the next 50 years.

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Papal Nuncio in Iraq concerned about massive exodus of Christians

Vatican City, Aug 20, 2004 (CNA) - The Apostolic Nuncio in Iraq, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, expressed this week his concern at the growing exodus of Christians fleeing the country during the last two weeks, in the wake of terrorist attacks against churches in Baghdad and Mosul.

However, Archbishop Filoni did not confirm or deny reports by Minister of Displacement and Emigration, Pascale Icho Warda, the only Christian official in the Iraqi provisional government, that 40,000 Christians have fled the country in the last 14 days.

The nuncio said that the exodus by Christians could be stopped if the international community, which is in theory committed to bringing peace to the country, “translated those intentions” into concrete actions.

“I don’t have accurate information on the exodus of Christians from Iraq, and therefore I cannot express an opinion on the issue,” he told AsiaNews.  “40,000, of course, is an extremely high figure,” he added.

Lastly, the Archbishop said, “We must reestablish security and civil order for all Iraqi, Christian and Muslim people.”

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Bishops issue Q&A flyer on stem-cell research

Washington D.C., Aug 20, 2004 (CNA) - In an effort to provide more information on the Catholic Church's position on stem-cell research and human cloning, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is publishing a one-page flyer in a clear, easy-to-read question-and-answer format.

The flyer is entitled "Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning: Questions and Answers" and is intended for distribution in parishes and Catholic organizations across the country. It will also be available on the USCCB Web site.

"Stem-cell research has become a highly visible issue," says William Cardinal Keeler, chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, "but some public statements have spread more heat than light. Many people fail to distinguish between different kinds of stem-cell research, and that obscures the moral issue at stake. Through this resource, we hope Catholics can arrive at a more informed perspective on one of the fundamental moral issues of the 21st century."

According to stem-cell expert Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center: "To have an informed debate, people need to be aware of what the real parameters of the discussion are."

The flyer shows that the Catholic Church is not opposed to medical research and innovation, even in the area of stem cells. However, it states the Church's undeniable commitment to human life and its opposition to the destruction of human embryos for research.

"Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning: Questions and Answers" bulletin insert, No. 5-665, 100/$10.00, is available August 30, 2004. To order this resource or to obtain a catalog of other USCCB titles, call toll free 800-235-8722. In the Washington metropolitan area or from outside the United States, call 202-722-8716.

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Editor of National Catholic Reporter resents blow to “impact” story

Washington D.C., Aug 20, 2004 (CNA) - Tom Roberts, editor of the liberal weekly newspaper  National Catholic Reporter  wrote an  editorial column yesterday expressing his resentment with the conservative National Review for blowing up a story  the Reporter was preparing against Catholic leader Deal Hudson.

On Wednesday, Hudson, editor of the Catholic monthly Crisis Magazine, wrote a column called “The Price of Politics: Getting ahead of a potential distraction,” warning that his past was being dug up for political reasons — “in an attempt to undermine the causes I have fought for: the defense of Church teachings on life, the priesthood, the authority of the Pope, and the need for faithful Catholic participation in politics.”

Hudson’s head start prompted Roberts to post an angry editorial column in which he says it is “intriguing that the National Review would allow its Web site to be used in such a fashion.”

“The National Review allowed Hudson to characterize the unpublished story, which was still in the process of being written –writes Roberts- as an unfair look at his personal life.”

The four-page article that was “still in the process of being written,” appeared suddenly on Thursday at the National Catholic Reporter’s website.

The story, as National Review’s column predicted, was centered on Hudson’s past moral flaws down to the details.

Roberts justified the article, written by the Reporter’s correspondent in Washington, by saying that Hudson “is a public figure, seeking the spotlight and rubbing elbows regularly with the most powerful in the land,” who “wields his power with a bravado that rarely shuns the limelight.”

Responding ironically to Roberts’ justification, Catholic League President William Donohue said also on Thursday that “effective today, the Catholic League has a new requirement for all future employees: all candidates must show proof of being immaculately conceived, that is, they must demonstrate that they were conceived without sin.”

“You see, unlike the puritans at the NCR, we at the Catholic League are sinners,” he added.

According to Donohue, Tom Roberts “cannot defend a single Catholic teaching on sexuality.  I know, because I made this charge to him on national TV and he could not respond.”

“Yet he is the same person who says the reason he decided to ‘out’ Deal Hudson is because Hudson had criticized Ono Ekeh, founder of Catholics for Kerry,” he also said.

“Take note, people: this is their understanding of what it means to be Catholic,” Donohue concluded.

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Death toll for the “Boat of death”

Madrid, Spain, Aug 20, 2004 (CNA) - The organization “Women on Waves” will no longer be able to perform abortions in international waters aboard their abortion boats.  A judge in Amsterdam has rejected the group’s request to continue bypassing the laws of countries where abortion is illegal by picking up women and taking them out to international waters to where they can receive abortions.

The judge rejected Women on the Waves’ request to perform abortions more than 20 miles away from the Dutch hospital which contracted the group, according to the Dutch news agency ANP.

The Secretary for Health in Holland, Clemence Ross, specified in a license granted two years ago that the organization was not authorized to carry out abortions more than 20 miles away from the Slootervaart Hospital.

The ruling means it will be impossible for the group to perform abortions on a boat in international waters, or outside the borders of Holland.

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Trenton diocese invalidates girl’s first Communion because of use of substitute wafer

Brielle, N.J., Aug 20, 2004 (CNA) - An 8 year old girl who is unable to eat wheat has had her first Communion invalidated by the diocese of Trenton because she received a wafer that didn’t contain any unleavened wheat.

The Church holds that Communion wafers must contain some unleavened wheat, like the bread served at the Last Supper.

But the Elizabeth Pelly-Waldman, the girl’s mother, has written to the Holy Father and to Cardinal Ratzinger asking that an exception be made for her daughter who has been diagnosed with celiac sprue disease, a disorder which occurs in people with a genetic intolerance for gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains.

If she was to consume wheat the gluten it contains could damage the lining of the small intestine, blocking nutrient absorption and leading to vitamin deficiencies, bone-thinning and sometimes gastrointestinal cancer.

"This is not an issue to be determined at the diocesan or parish level, but has already been decided for the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world by Vatican authority," Trenton Bishop John Smith said in a statement last week.

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Employees accuse Planned Parenthood of racism, file claims with employment commission

Los Angeles, Calif., Aug 20, 2004 (CNA) - Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles is the subject of multiple complaints of racism, filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, reports the Pro-Family Law Center.

Afro-American and Latino employees filed the formal complaints. Specifically, several male employees allege that Planned Parenthood is controlled by white women, who have created a hostile environment for male and minority employees.

According to one affidavit, a management employee of Planned Parenthood “used the word ‘nigger’ directed to me. I am African and was shocked by her cultural insensitivity. I immediately placed my concerns in writing and requested disciplinary action with the human resources department at PPLA. Nothing ever happened to my complaint. In fact, I was later put on probation by a female supervisor and then terminated. . . . there appeared to be a damaging anti-male bias in the organization.”

According to another statement, from a female PPLA contractor, responsible for ensuring compliance with EEOC regulations, “[a corporate officer] initiated an investigation on the occasion of one of his employees being called a ‘nigger’ and he was prevented from finishing this investigation. The perpetrator of this ethnic slur . . . was never punished for this action.”

This statement also says that Planned Parenthood posters, which are displayed throughout the office, show males as irresponsible. For example, one shows an African American leaving his child abandoned in the middle of an apartment. Planned Parenthood had postings criticizing President George Bush. As a nonprofit organization, Planned Parenthood is legally required to avoid political activity.

Richard D. Ackerman, the lead attorney for two claimants, said: “This is a really sad state of affairs. It is unfortunate to find out that PPLA, as a self-proclaimed promoter of ‘tolerance and diversity,’ is engaging in what appears to be the most primitive form of hate against its own employees.” Ackerman has invited the ACLU and NAACP to become involved in the case.

Reverend Clenard Childress, Jr., of Life Education and Resource Network says he is not surprised at Planned Parenthood’s degrading and discriminatory remarks toward its employees. “This demeanor is indicative of its founder Margaret Sanger, whose comments regarding minorities often parallel these racist and bigoted slurs,” he said.

Mark Crutcher of Texas-based Life Dynamics, Inc., agrees. “As revolting as these revelations about Planned Parenthood are, no one should be surprised by them,” said Crutcher. “After all, the organization was started by an admitted eugenicist, whose stated goal was to create what she called ‘a race of thoroughbreds.’

“And don’t be so naïve to think that the ‘thoroughbreds’ she was talking about included anyone other than ‘white n’ wealthy’. The fact is Planned Parenthood’s racist agenda has never been any different than that of the Nazis or the Klan,” Crutcher claimed. “That they regard their employees with the same sleazy attitude that they have always held toward the general minority population is hardly unexpected.”

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Priestly celibacy, obedience and prayer find their meaning in the apostolate, says Argentinean bishop

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 20, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Carlos Malfa of Chascomus, Argentina, said this week that celibacy, obedience and prayer are three “absolute requirements” for priestly life that find their meaning in pastoral charity.

The bishop made his comments during an ordination ceremony in the diocesan cathedral.

He said a priest’s prayerful attitude “allows him to deepen his interior life, overcome fatigue and monotony, so that he has something new to offer, because it is an encounter with the Father.”

Likewise, obedience “is only valid,” he said, “inasmuch as it is a sacrifice to God, and it finds its meaning in the communion of the Church.  A responsible, authentic and mature obedience requires a profound attitude of faith, love and sincere dialogue.  Obedience should be loyal and frank,” and it can be broken “by rebellion, indifference or cowardness,” he explained.

“Pastoral charity gives meaning to celibacy, which can only be understood in the context of absolute love.  The Lord and the Church have the right to a form of exclusive love.  It’s not that celibacy is essential for our ministry.  But it is a sign and an incentive of pastoral charity and a peculiar source of spiritual fruitfulness in the world,” Bishop Malfa went on.

He concluded his homily with a prayer that “the Holy Spirit will make our entire diocesan church a people of prayer that raises its voice to the Father imploring holy vocations to the priesthood, religious life and missionary service.”

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