Ventura, Calif., Sep 29, 2004 (CNA) - A recent survey carried out by the Ventura-based Barna Group shows that a “seismic shift” in the Catholic vote in favor of President George W. Bush may end up having a decisive role in the upcoming elections.
According to the Barna Group, which since 1984 has been conducting and analyzing cultural trends related to values and beliefs, “one of the big stories of the campaign is the seismic shift in preference among Catholic voters. Almost one out of every four likely voters (23%) is Catholic.”
The group reveals that in May, John Kerry held a small lead over President Bush, 48% to 43%. In the ensuing four months, however, “a myriad of events have stimulated a reversal among Catholics.”
“Currently, President Bush holds a commanding 53% to 36% lead over the Massachusetts Senator among Catholics who are likely to vote. That represents a 22-point shift in preference in just four months.”
“Equally surprising -the report says, - among Protestants who are likely to vote in November, President Bush has seen his 24-point lead over the challenger cut in half at the same time that his fortunes have reversed among Catholics. Since May, Mr. Kerry has picked up a small degree of support among Protestants (from 35% up to 38%) while President Bush has lost significant ground among Protestants (dropping from 59% to 50%). In total, that’s a 12-point drop in support for the President.”
According to the Barna study, “the significance of the faith factor cannot be overlooked in Campaign 2004. President Bush’s strongest support comes from evangelical Christians who are likely to vote: 90% of them plan to vote for the incumbent while only 2% plan to support Mr. Kerry. Non-evangelical born again Christians, who constitute about two-fifths of the likely voters, also strongly favor Mr. Bush (54% to 36%). Together, all born again Christians (evangelical and non-evangelical combined) are estimated to provide about half of the votes cast in November.”
Besides the support President Bush draws from the Christian community, the Barna survey also pointed out other significant results related to faith. Among those findings were:
· People who had read from the Bible during the past seven days, other than at church, are more likely to vote. They are also more likely to support President Bush (42% vs. 31% for Mr. Kerry).
· People who had attended a church worship service during the past seven days are more likely to vote. They are also more likely to support President Bush (47% compared to 26% of church attenders who back Mr. Kerry).
· People who had discussed a moral issue with someone during the past seven days are both more likely to vote and more likely to support President Bush (41% vs. 34%).
· People who had turned off a television program they were watching during the past seven days because of the morals and values it presented are both more likely to vote and more likely to support President Bush (45% vs. 29%).
The outcome of November’s election is in the hands of Christians, according to George Barna, the survey director. “Given the higher propensity to turnout on November 2 among evangelical and born again Christians, and their margin of preference for Mr. Bush, simply maintaining his support among those segments and among Catholics, and receiving a proportional split among the undecided will win Mr. Bush a second term in the White House.”
Asked to explain the reason for the rapid shift in support from Mr. Kerry to Mr. Bush during the summer months, Barna indicated that it was the result of a comprehensive consideration of each candidate. “That swing is attributable to an encompassing assessment by many Catholics of the leadership abilities, character, and policy stands of both men. We found that party identification and other matters had little to do with the reassessment of both candidates. Many of the Catholics now behind Mr. Bush have traditionally voted Democratic, but have chosen a different course this time around.”
However, Barna cautioned observers to remember that much can happen in the remaining five weeks of the campaign.
More information about the Barna research is available at:
Vatican City, Sep 29, 2004 (CNA) - In Pope John Paul II’s Message for the World Day of the Sick to take place on February II, 2005, the theme of which is "Christ, hope for Africa," he affirms that the only way to fight AIDS responsibly is through the true education of sexuality and the practice of the virtue of chastity.
In the message, dated September 8 and published today, the Pope laments that conflicts and wars in Africa "make intervention to prevent and cure the diseases that devastate the continent very difficult."
"I encourage those who are able to dedicate themselves to stopping these tragedies. I remind those responsible for selling arms of what I have written: 'Those who perpetuate the wars in Africa through arms trafficking are accomplices to hateful crimes against humanity'," he says
The Pope states that "in order to fight [AIDS] in a responsible way, prevention must be increased through education on life issues and the proper view of sexuality." STD’s can be prevented "especially through responsible behavior and the observance of the virtue of chastity," he says.
The Pope reminds governments and authorities of their duty to provide accurate information and adequate education concerning sexually transmitted diseases.
He praises "pharmaceutical industries that are committed to keeping the cost of drugs low," and recalls "with admiration the numerous health care workers, religious helpers and volunteers, who, like good Samaritans, spend their lives caring for AIDS victims and their families."
"The celebration of the World Day of the Sick," he writes, "offers us all the possibility to understand better the importance of pastoral health care. ... It is precisely in the moment of illness that one urgently needs to find appropriate answers to the deepest questions regarding man's life: questions on the meaning of pain, suffering and death, considered not only as a mystery which must be confronted with strength but as a mystery in which Christ incorporates our life to Him."
The main celebration of the World Day of the Sick will take place at the Shrine of Our Lady, Queen of Apostles in Yaounde, Cameroon.
Vatican City, Sep 29, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II has chosen as the theme "The Communications Media: At the Service of Understanding between Peoples," for the 2005 World Communications Day.
Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, made the announcement today, stating that the theme "reflects the Pope's desire that the media contribute to an authentic dialogue and mutual comprehension among peoples, leading to understanding, to justice and to an enduring peace."
"World Communications Day," underscored Archbishop Foley, "is the only worldwide celebration called for by the Second Vatican Council" as outlined in the document "Inter Mirifica" of 1963. "It is celebrated in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost" which next year is May 8.
The announcement of the theme is traditionally made on September 29, the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Rafael, and Gabriel, because Saint Gabriel is the patron saint of those who work in radio. The publication of the Holy Father’s message for World Communications Day traditionally happens on January 24, the memorial of Saint Francis de Sales, patron of writers, to allow bishops’ and diocesan conferences time to organize materials for the celebration of the day in May.
Vatican City, Sep 29, 2004 (CNA) - During today’s general audience in Saint Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II greeted some of his fellow Poles in Rome on pilgrimmage with the ‘Solidarity’ movement, and expresses his hope that the spirit of ‘Solidarity’ is infused throughout a united Europe.
"This movement, born in Poland, opened up the doors to freedom in many countries in Europe,” the Pope said. “I am happy because the spirit of 'Solidarity' continues to unite so many people in our country. I hope that this healthy spirit may also penetrate a united Europe."
The Pope’s audience focused on Psalm 44, "The king's wedding feast," which is a poem in honor of the Jewish sovereign, composed by a scribe.
According to Jewish tradition, explained the Holy Father, this text "is a hymn to the Messiah-King. Christian tradition, however, reads the passage in a Christological light, and, with the queen's presence, also in a mariological perspective."
"The Letter to the Hebrews, applying the psalm to Christ, does not hesitate to recognize the divine plenitude, which is not merely symbolic, of the Son of God who enters into His glory," he said in conclusion.
Vatican City, Sep 29, 2004 (CNA) - Yesterday evening Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, following the release of two Italian women who had been kidnapped on September 7 as they volunteered in Iraq, issued a statement expressing Pope John Paul II’s “great joy [at] the news.”
“His thoughts also went to their families and, together with them and with all other people of good will, thanks God for this humane gesture," continued the statement.
Washington D.C., Sep 29, 2004 (CNA) - Abortions are having a clear impact on the U.S. political landscape in more ways than the recent obvious debates and controversies surrounding pro-abortion politicians. Abortions may actually be increasing the pro-life vote over the long-term and quite literally “killing” the pro-choice movement, says a USCCB official in a comment released last week.
Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., spokesperson of the Right to Life Office of the USCCB highlighted the recent observations of journalists and political analysts that aborted children also impact politics as “missing votes” for the pro-choice side.
She refers to Wall Street Journal reporter James Taranto, who has coined these missing votes as the "Roe effect."
“The Roe Effect theorizes that ‘pro-choice’ women are more likely to have abortions than pro-life women, and that children tend to espouse the views of their parents. Thus, there are fewer and fewer children growing up to become ‘pro-choice’ adults -- and this, according to the theory, has political ramifications,” explains Ruse.
Ruse cites Larry Eastland’s recent piece on the Roe Effect in The American Spectator. Eastland said children who were aborted in any given year can be considered "Missing Voters" 18 years later, the year they would have reached voting age. He calculated that abortions from 1973 to 1982 resulted in approximately 13 million Missing Voters in the 2000 election.
According to Ruse’s calculation, the total number of Missing Voters in the upcoming election will be 19 million.
While Ruse states that there is truly no way of knowing how these aborted children may have voted, “still, as a general proposition, children tend to absorb the values of their parents, including their political views, and tend to develop the same lifestyle as their family. So if pro-lifers beget pro-lifers, then pro-choicers beget pro-choicers – unless they abort them instead.
“If the Roe Effect is true,” says Ruse, “then it's not a stretch to say that the ‘pro-choice’ movement is quite literally killing itself.”
Washington D.C., Sep 29, 2004 (CNA) - October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the U.S. bishops' are urging Catholic priests and other pastoral leaders to preach against domestic violence and to learn about it to better assist women in need.
The bishops’ Committee on Women in Society and in the Church has sample homilies and examples of how to connect the Sunday readings and domestic violence to help priests preach about domestic violence.
They also include suggestions for dealing effectively with abused spouses and abusers in sacramental reconciliation and pastoral counseling. The resources are available at the USCCB Web site: www.usccb.org/laity/violence.htm.
The Web site also includes the full text of "When I Call for Help," the U.S. bishops' document about domestic violence, in which they state: "violence against women, inside or outside the home, is never justified. Violence in any form—physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal—is sinful."
The bishops took the action in response to the many Catholics who say they never hear about domestic violence from the pulpit.
, Sep 29, 2004 (CNA) - Catholic League president William Donohue spoke out against a full-page ad in the New York Times, which he says attacks the integrity and professionalism of all Christians.
MoveOn.org, an organization funded by billionaire Democrat George Soros, took out a full-page ad attacking the methodology of Gallup, the renowned polling group.
The ad states that a recent Gallup poll, which shows President George Bush with a 14-point lead over Senator John Kerry, is exaggerated because it is predicated on more Republicans turning out to vote on Election Day than Democrats.
In the ad, MoveOn.org argues that this “inflated lead” over Kerry, is affecting news coverage in a way that favors Bush.
But this is not the sticking point, says Donohue. “MoveOn.org blames the alleged bias of George Gallup Jr. on his Christian faith,” he said.
He noted that at the ad ends with quotes from a commencement speech Gallup gave at a theological seminary. It reads: “Gallup, who is a devout evangelical Christian, has been quoted as calling his polling ‘a kind of ministry.’ And a few months ago, he said, ‘the most profound purpose of polls is to see how people are responding to God.’”
Donohue argues that the real message MoveOn.org is trying to send with this ad is that Gallup polls are not credible and that they demonstrate that “Christian bias is at work.”
The ad, through which “Soros has impugned the integrity of all Christians,” infers that “only secularists, apparently, are capable of rendering an objective survey,” says Donohue.
“For the record, in the final poll before the 2000 election, the predictions of Gallup and Zogby proved to be the most accurate,” Donohue offered. He also pointed out that George Gallup Jr. retired May 31 and has not conducted a poll since.
Baghdad, Iraq, Sep 29, 2004 (CNA) - The Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Emmanuel Delly, said this week the Church in Iraq played “all her cards” in working for the release of two Italian volunteers kidnapped several weeks ago in Baghdad by Muslim extremists.
Italians received with joy the news of the arrival of a Red Cross plane that returned the “two Simonas,” Simona Pari and Simona Torretta, to their country. The two women were kidnapped while working as volunteers in the Iraqi capital.
In an interview with the Adnkronos News Agency, the Chaldean Patriarch said, “I am very happy for the two Italians and I thank the Lord for hearing our prayers.”
“Let us ask the Lord to bring peace and tranquility to Iraq. We played all of our cards for the release of the two Italians, and I thank the Lord because He freed them, and we ask also that all the other hostages be released. May they all be freed.”
It is still unknown how the release of the two Simonas was negotiated. Italian press is speculating that efforts by the Patriarch of Baghdad and the King of Jordan were decisive.
Glen Ellyn, Ill., Sep 29, 2004 (CNA) - Protests Sunday by homosexual-rights groups of a church, hosting an ex-homosexual speaker, are "a telling glimpse into the anti-religious heart of the gay-activist movement," said Illinois Family Institute executive director Peter LaBarbera.
In Oak Park Sunday, protesters affiliated with the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network chanted that Calvary Memorial Church was a "House of Hate" for hosting Stephen Bennett, who left the homosexual lifestyle when he became a Christian.
The Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association held a calmer protest in the morning, but one man had to be carried out of Calvary Memorial when he started yelling "born-again bigots" during a church service.
Bennett, who is now married and the father of two children, also gave a free concert yesterday at Arlington Heights Evangelical Free Church. He now runs Stephen Bennett Ministries, which helps others overcome a homosexual lifestyle.
"These anti-Christian protests are typical of the gay Left's escalating attack on the Church," LaBarbera said, adding that homosexual activists “are just petrified of the truth getting out that nobody has to be gay.
"If hate-crime and sexual-orientation laws progress in the United States as they have in Canada, one day these same homosexual activists could be filing discrimination lawsuits against churches merely for teaching that homosexuality is a sin,” he warned.
LaBarbera called on pastors to “wake up and understand that they cannot avoid preaching the truth about homosexuality and gay marriage, because no movement in this country has the potential to criminalize Christianity as this one does."
Caracas, Venezuela, Sep 29, 2004 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of Venezuela strongly objected this week to a change in the country’s Penal Code that would legalize abortion and called on Congress to vote against the measure.
The bill before Congress invokes the “right of a woman to the free unfolding of her personality and to not have children when she doesn’t desire to do so,” and it states that abortion should be legal and establishes a time frame for the implementation of the law.
“The Catholic Church deplores and absolutely rejects the proposal to decriminalize abortion through the reform of the Venezuelan Penal Code,” a move sanctioned by the Supreme Court on September 22, the bishops said.
In their message, the bishops issued “a call to conscience to Catholic and non-Catholic lawmakers to vote against (the proposal),” as Congress will make the decision on the proposed reforms.
The bishops underscored that abortion is “a violation of the constitutional right to life and a crime against an innocent and defenseless human being.”
“To voluntarily interrupt the development of a human life through abortion, in whatever form, is to deny a person or citizen his first human right: the right to exist, to live.”
The bishops reminded lawmakers that “the laws of a nation are called to manifest, promote and defend the values upon which social life is based,” and that “the decriminalization or legalization of abortion would mean the abandoning of a fundamental ethical value of all judicial order and of all social life.”
In their statement, the bishops also recalled that “from the moment of conception in the mother’s womb, human life should be recognized and protected.”
Lastly, the bishops exhorted all citizens, no matter what their beliefs or political positions, and especially organizations that defend human rights, to “actively express their rejection of the proposal to decriminalize abortion.”
Washington D.C., Sep 29, 2004 (CNA) - Giving a pro-abortion Catholic politician Communion contravenes Canon Law and creates a source of scandal for all believers, said canon law expert Fr. John J. Coughlin, OFM, at a scholarly conference Sept. 16.
The conference, called “Public Witness/Public Scandal: Faith, Politics, and Life Issues in the Catholic Church,” was sponsored by Our Sunday Visitor Foundation and Ave Maria School of Law at the Washington National Press Club.
Fr. Coughlin said according to Canon Law, bishops should deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians or any other Catholic who engages in “manifest grave sin.”
The professor of law at University of Notre Dame Law School and a doctor of law from both the Gregorian University and Harvard Law School addressed the controversy over Catholic politicians who consistently advocate and vote against pro-life positions.
His address, entitled “Canon Law and the Refusal of Holy Communion to Catholic Political Officials,” was recently made public by the Ave Maria School of Law.
Fr. Coughlin provided an analysis of Canon 915 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which states: “Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
He referred to several recent Church documents to explain what constitutes grave sin, since, he admitted, this question “has been answered differently throughout the Church’s history.”
He referred to the 2002 Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, which states that the minister of Holy Communion must refuse the sacrament to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, who have not obtained an annulment.
He cited Pope John Paul II’s clear declaration in Evangelium Vitae that abortion and euthanasia are gravely immoral. Based on this document, Fr. Coughlin said, there is no question that the Church considers abortion and euthanasia to be gravely sinful.
As well, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s Statement of Six Principles “state that abortion and euthanasia have a greater moral weight than other serious moral issues, including ones that involve the taking of human life such as the death penalty and the application of just war theory,” he summarized.
The cardinal also affirms that Communion must be refused to a politician who continues to support abortion or euthanasia, even after being warned by his or her pastor.
“One can not logically profess to believe on a personal level that abortion or euthanasia is the killing of innocent human life, while speaking and acting in public as if the crime constituted some kind of good,” he stated.
Fr. Coughlin addressed the argument that a consequence of refusing Communion to Democratic public officials, whose positions on social justice are closer to the teaching of the Catholic Church, “could have an overall detrimental effect with regard to issues of social justice.”
“Although this kind of overall effect must be given its due in the application of Canon 915,” he said, “no political or financial reality no matter how pressing can alleviate the duty of a Church official to address the evil of taking innocent human life.”
Canon law serves to protect individuals and the entire ecclesial community, he stated.
“As with any rule of canon law, there can be exceptions,” but they “should not eviscerate the law from its deeper theological meaning,” he said.
Fr. Coughlin wondered “if the rule of Canon 915 is being taken seriously by the bishops in the United States.”
“During the last four decades in the United States, the rule of canon law was often not respected in the handling of sexual abuse cases,” he observed, “and the consequences of the failure are now all too painfully evident.”
Fr. Coughlin’s full remarks can be read at:
Vatican City, Sep 29, 2004 (CNA) - In his homily for yesterday evening’s Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Altar of the Chair for the deceased pontiffs, Paul VI and John Paul I, Cardinal Ratzinger, Dean of the College of Cardinals, spoke of the mission and responsibility of the papacy, saying that truth and love are "the two poles of the mission entrusted to the successors of Peter."
"Guiding the flock of Christ and loving the Lord are the same thing," he said. "It is love of Christ that guides the sheep on the straight path and builds the Church."
He stated that this love was at the heart of Pope Paul’s vision of Vatican II and papal primacy; "All of us at the feet of Christ, to serve Christ, to serve the Gospel: The essence of Christianity is Christ - not a doctrine, but a person, and evangelizing is leading in friendship with Christ - to communion with the Lord Who is the true light of our lives."
Cardinal Ratzinger said that papal primacy "in its most intimate essence is not the exercise of power but is 'carrying the weight of others', it is the responsibility of love. And love is precisely the opposite of indifference with respect to others. ... The love of Christ is love for the poor, the suffering.”
“We know well that our Popes have been committed strongly against injustice, and for the rights of the oppressed, the powerless," he said.
"Love would be blind without truth," the cardinal stated. He noted that "the prayer after communion asks the Lord to allow the Supreme Pontiffs, His servants, 'to enter into full possession of the truth, in which, with apostolic courage, they confirm their brothers'.
“Paul VI and John Paul I confirmed, 'with apostolic courage', their brothers. At a time where we see Satan 'sift through' the disciples of Christ 'like a grain, the imperturbable faith of the Popes was the visible rock on which the Church sits," he said in conclusion.