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Archive of October 1, 2004

Pro-family advocates see gain despite Congress failure to pass Marriage Amendment

Washington D.C., Oct 1, 2004 (CNA) - In response to the vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Constitutional Amendment to protect marriage, Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins released a statement claiming that the movement to protect traditional marriage is gaining momentum.

"We may not have won by 2/3, but momentum is on our side,” he said. “We have a majority of Congressional members on record now who are seeking to protect marriage.  We have 13 states that have passed or seeking to pass marriage protection amendments to their state constitutions this election cycle and we have a president who supports this amendment.”

Perkins stated that “We are moving forward steadily and we will succeed in protecting marriage. We've known from the beginning that this was going to be a long fight.  And I'm here to tell you that Family Research Council will continue an all out effort to protect and promote traditional marriage."

Family Research Council has been pushing for the amendment's passage through television programs, thousands of media appearances and grassroots activism.

The vote on the marriage amendment  was 227-186; 49 votes shy of the two-thirds needed to go back to the senate.

The measure drew the support of 191 Republicans and 36 Democrats. Voting against it were 158 Democrats, 27 Republicans and one independent.

President George W. Bush issued a statement expressing disappointment with the vote's outcome. ''Because activist judges and local officials in some parts of the country are   seeking to redefine marriage for the rest of the country, we must remain vigilant in defending traditional marriage,'' the President said.

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Pope commends Croatian fidelity to Catholic tradition

Vatican City, Oct 1, 2004 (CNA) - In an audience this morning with 2000 Croatian pilgrims from the archdiocese of Split-Makarska, Pope John Paul II highlighted their “adherence to the faith” confessed by Sts. Peter and Paul and the martyrs of that region throughout the centuries, and exhorted them to “promote a Christian humanism” in their lives.

The pilgrims met with the Holy Father on the occasion of the 17th centenary of the martyrdom of St. Domnius, patron of the archdiocese and city of Split-Makarska.

"You come from the place where St. Domnius and other martyrs in the region gave witness to Christ, from the very first centuries to this day, and you have come to the tombs of Peter and Paul and other Roman martyrs. In this way, you wanted to express your adherence to the faith which they confessed," said the Pope.

"This adherence," he continued, "requires a commitment of constant fidelity to Christ and His Church in order to bear brave and coherent witness in family life, in places of study and work and in other environments in society.”

“Make an effort,” exhorted the Pope in conclusion, “to promote a concrete Christian humanism in your life in both the private and public spheres.  May the heroic example of St. Domnius, and the other martyrs who, inspired by solid faith in Christ, sacrificed themselves for the good of their brothers and sisters,  guide and sustain you."

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Making homosexual unions equivalent to marriage is “counterfeit” says Spanish episcopate

Madrid, Spain, Oct 1, 2004 (CNA) - The secretary and spokesman of the Bishops Conference of Spain, Father Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, said this week that making homosexual unions the equivalent of marriage is like introducing “counterfeit money.”

“It is false that a union between one man and another is marriage.  If the law decrees it, that is like counterfeit money, that’s like imposing a virus, imposing on society something that is false and will have consequences,” he said.

The Spanish government on Friday approved a bill to legalise homosexual marriages. The reform notably also grants homosexual couples the right to adopt children.

The other two countries where homosexual marriage is legal are Belgium and the Netherlands, though only the Netherlands allows such unions to adopt children.  

Speaking on Spanish TV, Father Martinez Camino explained that the Church has “nothing personal” against homosexuals, but that the question of marriage “is not a personal question but rather a question of the organization of social life,” and he stated that the intention of the government to legislate that the union of two homosexuals is the same as that of two people of the opposite sex has no historical basis in any legislation or in any period.

Regarding the reform of the country’s divorce laws, Father Martinez Camino likened it to reducing marriage to the level of a sales contract.  “Marriage is a life-long commitment between two persons and in that sense plays a social role unlike any other human reality,” he said.

Turning his attention to the issue of religion in public schools, Father Martinez Camino recalled that the Church does not try to impose this teaching on anybody, but he called for respect for the rights of the 80% of parents in Spain who enroll their children in religions classes each year.

In his judgment, any measure that marginalizes religious education, relegates it to outside normal school hours, or provides some kind of alternative based on recreational activities or simply going home would not be an adequate response to this problem.  “A government that claims to be generous in the extension of civil rights should be so in this case,” he stated.

Lastly, Father Martinez Camino announced that the Bishops Conference will present a series of initiatives aimed at defending a Catholic vision of society, which priests will be able to speak on from the pulpit to help the faithful better understand their faith.

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Law Center sues California court after proposed removal of Christian quote

Riverside, Calif., Oct 1, 2004 (CNA) - The Pro-Family Law Center filed a lawsuit against the operators of the Riverside County Historic Courthouse after the operators acquiesced to the threat of litigation by the liberal Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Earlier this week, the ADL threatened the Riverside County Superior Court with legal action if it did not remove a quote by President Theodore Roosevelt that states: "The true Christian is the true citizen."

The quote, which has been there since 1930, is one of many quotes from other presidents, including Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.

But the ADL claims that the Roosevelt quote “marginalizes” non-Christians.

Since the quote is engraved in gold on a wall in the courthouse, courthouse personnel have proposed that the quote be covered up with a loose piece of wood.

But the Pro-Family Law Center says historical preservation laws make it a crime to alter the courthouse – a designated historical site – in any way, including the addition of a loose piece of wood.

The Pro-Family Law Center points out that the ADL has not challenged photographic images of Jews and other religious references placed in other courthouse buildings in the same district. The law center alleges that the ADL is acting to censor and single out Christians.

“The quotes from the various presidents represent a diversity of cultural and historic views,” said Richard D. Ackerman, the lead attorney and plaintiff in the action. “Removal of any one of the quotes would take away from the cultural diversity that is represented throughout the Riverside judicial system by historical engravings, photographic images of practicing Jewish people on display, and through the very cornerstone of the courthouse, which was placed there by a Masonic Lodge in 1903."

The Pro-Family Law Center views this case as one designed to protect all Christians in the United States and the contributions of people of all faiths since the nation’s founding.

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Global development must be integral and human, Cardinal Martino says

Vatican City, Oct 1, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in an address to the 16th Banking Conference held in London, spoke of the need for Global development more human, integral, sustainable, and marked by solidarity.

The theme of this year's conference is promoted by the Italian Chamber of Commerce for the United Kingdom and includes leaders from the British banking world, is "Is there a European model for global economic and social growth?"

Cardinal Martino made clear the need for greater cooperation in development. He pointed out that "the action of cooperation suffers from bureaucratic language, which imposes heavy burdens on the receiving countries in order to meet the requests for supervision and evaluation on the part of donors."

"Several governments are moving significantly in the direction” of giving greater funding for development, “with the moral support of the Holy Father and the Holy See."

Cardinal Martino underscored in conclusion that "models of development  must not degrade extraordinary richness and diversity present in Europe."

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Inter-religious dialogue, Latin America's Catholic identity in Pope's prayer intentions

Vatican City, Oct 1, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father's general prayer intention for the month of October is: "That, firm in their faith, Christians may be eager to dialogue with those who belong to another religious tradition."

His missionary intention is: "That the due presence of Catholics in the national life and media of the Latin-American Continent may increase."

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Catholic Charities USA sends long-term aid to Florida hurricane victims

Alexandria, Egypt, Oct 1, 2004 (CNA) - Catholic Charities USA has sent a $392,000 grant to Catholic Charities of Venice in Florida to support the agency's long-term hurricane recovery efforts, which will include temporary and permanent housing, mental health counseling, financial counseling, job placement and outreach to migrant farm workers.

Hurricane Charley devastated the 10-county area served by Catholic Charities of Venice in August.  Many homes and business were destroyed and about 50,000 families were displaced. About 60 percent of the residents lost their homes in Desoto and Hardee Counties alone.

Catholic Charities USA sent the agency $20,000 in emergency grants several weeks ago to help meet immediate and basic needs. Recovery efforts have been hampered by hits from Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. The new sum is earmarked for reconstruction and long-term needs.

"This is going to be a long sustained recovery process. It could take possibly two years or more because so many buildings, homes, and crops were devastated," said Peter Routsis-Arroyo, president of Catholic Charities of Venice. "We need to get people back into their homes, back to work, and feeling secure and safe again."

The migrant farm workers have been the hardest hit community, said Routsis-Arroyo. Many live in dilapidated homes that were quickly destroyed in the hurricane and most barely get by financially on their wages. "The migrant farm workers will not only need new, safe, and affordable housing, they will need new jobs," he said.

To date, Catholic Charities USA has sent a total of $502,000 in aid to 10 local Catholic Charities agencies in the wake of Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. It anticipates providing more agencies with emergency relief and long-term recovery grants.

Monies in the Catholic Charities USA's 2004 Summer Hurricane Fund came from donations across the country. Contributions to the fund can be made at www.catholiccharitiesinfo.org.

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USCCB praises Justice Department’s appeal to rulings against Partial-Birth Abortion Act

Washington D.C., Oct 1, 2004 (CNA) - An official with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops praised the Justice Department’s appeal of two federal courts rulings against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

Earlier this month, Judge Richard Kopf in Nebraska and Judge Richard Casey in New York ruled against the Act.

In his lengthy opinion, Judge Kopf cited testimony that babies are alive during a partial-birth abortion, that the baby's heart can be seen beating before its head is punctured, and that partial-birth abortion is "excruciatingly painful for a fetus."

Judge Richard Casey stated in his opinion that partial-birth abortion is "a gruesome, brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized medical procedure" but he ruled against the Act under his reading of prior Supreme Court cases, in particular Stenberg v. Carhart.

"We are hopeful that the ban on partial-birth abortion ultimately will be upheld," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., spokesperson for the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "But no matter how the legal questions are finally resolved, these trials will have accomplished something extremely significant: they will have gotten the abortion industry on the record, under oath, admitting the horrifying truth about abortion."

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Same-sex marriage legal in another Canadian province, Supreme Court holds hearings next week

Halifax, Canada, Oct 1, 2004 (CNA) - Yet another Canadian province legalized same-sex marriage, making it the sixth jurisdiction in the last 18 months.

A Nova Scotia court made the decision Sept. 24, stating that the definition of marriage as one man and one woman is unconstitutional. The case had no legal opposition.

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Halifax said that it is now up to religious communities to safeguard marriage.

“We must recognize this decision as the end of state support for marriage as we have always known it,” he said in a press release.

“We’ve got more fools on the bench than we thought we had in this country, obviously. Marriage is not a provincial issue,” said Brian Rushfeldt, executive director of the Canada Family Action Coalition. The coalition seeks to restore Judeo-Christians moral principles.

“We’re going to have a next generation of children growing up being taught in public schools things that their parents don’t approve,” he told the Canadian Press.

Nova Scotia followed Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Yukon and Manitoba. All six provincial jurisdictions have married same-sex couples. Ontario was the first to grant a same-sex divorce Sept. 13, less than 18 months after it granted the first same-sex marriage.

The Nova Scotia ruling came two weeks before the Supreme Court of Canada is scheduled to hold hearings on the federal government’s same-sex marriage reference case at the beginning of October.

The Canadian government submitted a draft bill on same-sex marriage to the Supreme Court in July 2003, seeking its opinion on the bill’s constitutionality.

A record 27 interveners are scheduled to present their arguments before the high court in the reference case Oct. 6-8, including the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Quebec questions federal jurisdiction

The Quebec Justice Department has submitted a paper to the Supreme Court of Canada, stating that the federal government is outside its jurisdiction to include a provision in the same-sex marriage law that guarantees the right of religious ministers to refuse to marry same-sex couples.

While the recognition of marriage is a federal jurisdiction, the solemnization of marriage is a provincial jurisdiction, it argues.

The federal government said the provision was written into the draft bill as a precaution, but a religious minister’s right to refuse to marry two individuals is already protected in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Parliament is expected to take a free vote on the bill after the Supreme Court’s decision sometime in the next year.

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Archbishop warns against dangers of “national secularism” in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Oct 1, 2004 (CNA) - Joining the debate in Spain over the place of religion in schools, the Archbishop of Valencia, Agustin Garcia-Gasco, said this week that “religion classes are a constitutional right of parents and not the Church,” and the said he was willing to allow religion classes to be held in the parishes of the archdiocese if it was not possible to do so at the schools.

According to the AVAN News Agency, Archbishop Garcia-Gasco pointed out that “80% of parents want religion to be taught to their children.”  Therefore, “this is no way an attempt to establish ‘nationwide Catholicism’ and those who are inclined to believe so are perhaps themselves falling into the temptation of ‘national secularism,’ which would be another mistake.”

In a press release, the Archbishop stated, “If it is necessary to hold religion classes in the parishes I am willing to do so, but we must never abandon our children and young people by letting them have the opportunity to learn whatever religion they want.”

Archbishop Garcia-Gasco recalled that “the non-sectarian nature of the State was proposed by the Church and acknowledged by the Second Vatican Council,” and according to Spain’s constitution, Church and State “are two institutions with complete autonomy and independence, but they are called to work together.”

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Argentinean bishop cautions against publicly announcing “miraculous cures”

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 1, 2004 (CNA) - In a statement on the public announcing of unconfirmed miraculous healings, Bishop Jorge Luis Lona of San Luis, Argentina, reiterated that alleged supernatural healings taking place during certain Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) prayer meetings should not be announced as fact without both confirmation by science and approval of the Church.

In his statement, Bishop Lona said the national advisor to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Argentina, Father Angel Gabriel Gayte, has expressed his complete agreement with church policy regarding such public statements, which in the CCR are known as “words of knowledge.”

Bishop Lona pointed out that Father Gayte himself has said that “regarding the charism of words of knowledge, it must be discerned in community.  Not everyone has this charism and many times it can be very tempting to have it because it makes one stand out and gives one a certain status in the Church, and therefore it falls to the bishop to discern if one has the charism or not.”

“This charism, in order to be credible, must be accompanied by clear testimony of what has occurred and should be certified by doctors or by the fact that one is healed of blindness, deafness, or someone who is paralyzed recovers the use of his legs and begins to walk,” he stated.

Bishop Lona clarified that his prohibition against local priest Father Miguel Angel Santurio from publicly announcing such words of knowledge “is not due to an arbitrary decision by the bishop, but rather in response to a medical investigation which disproved the alleged manifestations.”

“The thirteen cases of possible supernatural healings presented by Father Santurio all were scientifically explainable, according to the commission set up by the bishop with the Department of Medical Science from the Catholic University of Cuyo,” the statement said.

“And it must be mentioned, on the other hand,” said Bishop Lona, “that in one case in which he claimed to have received a word of knowledge and proclaimed the instant healing of a cancer victim, the person died soon after.”

“We are obliged to issue this clarification in response to statements by Father Santurio which could lead to confusion about the meaning of the measures that have been taken, the basis of which have been explained to him with excessive patience and consideration.”

The statement by Bishop Lona was accompanied by a press release from the Department of Medical Science of the Catholic University of Cuyo which stated that an independent panel of scientists concluded that in all of the cases of alleged miracles which the bishop asked to be evaluated, “none have proven to be the result of improvement or healing that does not have a scientific explanation.”

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