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Archive of November 2, 2004

Voters in 11 states to vote on same-sex marriage referendum today

Washington D.C., Nov 2, 2004 (CNA) - In addition to voting for president, voters in 11 states will decide today whether to impose constitutional bans on same-sex marriage.

Close to one-fifth of the electorate will be voting in a state same-sex marriage referendum. According to pollsters, most of the bans are expected to win approval.

Campaigns supporting the amendments were heavily supported and funded by churches.

Every Catholic diocese in Michigan contributed to the marriage-amendment campaign. In Georgia, Catholic bishops have urged parishioners to vote for the amendment. In Utah, the Mormon church has come out strongly in favor of heterosexual marriage.

National gay-rights groups have spent large sums of money in advertising and campaigning in several states to counter the strong religious campaign, but polls indicate that the electorate is not in their favor.

Recent polls showed support for the amendments at 76 percent in Oklahoma and Kentucky, 65 percent in Arkansas, 60 percent or more in Michigan, 59 percent in Montana and 57 percent in Ohio.

The 11 ballot measures result from a backlash to the court ruling almost a year ago that made Massachusetts the only state with legalized same-sex marriage.

Legislators and citizens' groups are seeking protection from such rulings in their states by placing proposed constitutional amendments on today’s ballots. The amendments would limit marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

The proposed amendments in Mississippi, Montana and Oregon refer only to marriage. Those in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah would ban civil unions as well.

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‘Most of us are with Bush,’ says national priests’ leader

Washington D.C., Nov 2, 2004 (CNA) - A well-known Catholic priest said he thinks most U.S. priests will vote for President George Bush in today’s election.

Fr. Frank Pavone heads up several national organizations (Priests for Life, the National Pro-life Religious Council, and Gospel of Life Ministries). He said he was speaking in his personal capacity, based on his conversations with priests across the country, and not as the representative of those groups.

Fr. Pavone said he thinks Bush “understands Christian moral values far better than John Kerry does.”

Catholicism is “a religion that does not allow us to privatize human rights to the realm of personal belief,” he said, adding that this is why Kerry is wrong in supporting abortion.

Fr. Pavone said he does not mean that the President should be a Catholic, but “if one claims to be a Catholic, then that person should adhere to what Catholicism teaches. Otherwise, have the integrity to say that you can no longer embrace that religion.

“That lack of integrity, furthermore, will spill over into other areas of life. And in the case of a President, that's particularly troubling," he said.

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Pro-lifers provide outreach at abortion chaplain's funeral

Wichita, Kan., Nov 2, 2004 (CNA) - Operation Rescue, a leading pro-life Christian organization, conducted a peaceful outreach outside the public funeral service for an abortion centre “chaplain” Sunday.

George Gardner worked at George Tiller's late-term abortion centre, Women's Health Care Services. He baptized the remains of aborted children and falsely encouraged women that God somehow favored their abortions, said Operation Rescue.

The outreach also included a memorial to the pre-born babies that were aborted during his employment at the centre. Operation Rescue displayed an infant-sized casket, with a banner that read "Gardner's Legacy: The Human Tragedy of Aborted Babies. Who mourns for them?" Other demonstrators held signs, with verses from Scripture. 

Demonstrators offered salvation tracts to funeral attendees, who included late-term abortionist George Tiller and his wife, Jeanne. A salvation tract was also handed to Candy Kruger, who escorts women into the abortion centre. Kruger threw her lit cigarette at one of the demonstrators, hitting her.

Some people thanked the members of Operation Rescue for their presence while a few expressed disapproval.

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Nova Scotians vote against Sunday shopping

Halifax, Canada, Nov 2, 2004 (CNA) - The majority of Nova Scotians voted “No” to Sunday shopping in a referendum in mid-October, making the Atlantic province the only Canadian jurisdiction without it.

The Archdiocese of Halifax was in the lead in the campaign against Sunday shopping. It organized a coalition that included several Christian churches, retail workers and small business owners.

The coalition campaigned on a $1,000 budget, while pro-Sunday shopping advocates spent more than $100,000.

The province’s Conservative government has pledged to stand by the election results.

“Our government made the commitment to let Nova Scotians decide the Sunday shopping issue, and today the majority made its collective choice clear,” said Justice Minister Michael Baker. “Sunday shopping will remain as it is now, governed by the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act.”

Deacon Bob Britton, chancellor of the archdiocese, said the coalition was pleased with the results.

“I think that our Church, standing in solidarity with other churches and people of goodwill, was a clear sign that our appeal was to the needs of all Nova Scotians and not only those who valued a Christian understanding of the Lord’s Day,” he told the Atlantic Catholic. “We discovered that all those who coalesced around this issue shared a common vision – that we human beings are more than consumers.”

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Fundamentalist attacks strengthen faith of Catholics in India

New Dehli, India, Nov 2, 2004 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops Conference of India, Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, stated this week the attacks by Hindu fundamentalists, rather than causing fear, strengthen the faith and witness of life Christians.

Speaking to the Fides News Agency, Cardinal Toppo said there will always be attacks by extremists, but he said these episodes “make us more careful and prudent but they also strengthen our faith and our witness of life. They are a sign that the Catholic community is alive and active and that our presence and witness are visible”.

The cardinal said such acts “prove that there exist forces contrary to Christianity,” adding that the Church is frequently “regarded with prejudice, suspicion, and its social service and charity works are regarded as proselytism”.   

The Church in India should have a greater presence in the media, so that the truth will prevail and everything being done in education, health care and development be made known.

Regarding the recent change of government, the cardinal explained that according to the rules of democracy, “governments bring change, and this is democracy. But changes do not happen overnight, they take time.

He also mentioned that the Hindu nationalist party Baratiya Janata Party has held power for six years and that therefore “the heritage of the old government will linger but with the Congress Party leading the country we hope for a change in mentality. The last elections were a success for democracy and tolerance and we are sure the new government will work to eliminate the major problems afflicting India: poverty, illiteracy and a precarious healthcare situation.”

Lastly he said Christians look to the future with optimism, “ready to make our contribution for the good of the country”.

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Pope marks All Saints Day with prayers for victims of terrorism

Vatican City, Nov 2, 2004 (CNA) - Leading a special recitation of the Angelus for the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, Pope John Paul II expressed his prayers “for all victims of terrorism” and for peace in the world.

From St. Peter’s Square, the Pope offered “special prayers for all the victims of terrorism.”

“I feel spiritually close to their families.  I pray the Lord will calm their suffering and I invoke Him for peace in the world,” the Pope added, calling as well for prayers “for those souls most in need of divine mercy.”

The Pope recalled that the communion of saints “is made plain to Christians when the pilgrim Church on earth raises its gaze to heaven and unites in exultation with the choir of those whom God has called to his glory.”

The Pope concluded his message with an invocation to Mary, “Queen of all Saints, that she may help us to faithfully follow Christ and reach the glory of Heaven.”

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Anacephaly abortion was beginning of slippery slope, Bishop warns

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Nov 2, 2004 (CNA) - A week after the Supreme Court of Brazil decided to suspend permission for anacephaly abortions, the Vice President of the Brazilian Bishops Conference, Bishop Antonio Celso Queiroz, said legalizing this type of abortion was to open the door to abortion on demand.

According to Bishop Queiroz, if abortion were accepted for this reason, future mothers would be tempted to obtain abortions “because their babies were not the sex they wanted or their eyes were not the color they had wanted.”

A few days ago, the Bishops expressed their satisfaction with the decision of the Court and said it “reaffirms the principle of full respect for the dignity and life of the human being no matter what its stage of development or condition.”

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The hour of death is the “hour of truth,” Spanish bishop exhorts

Madrid, Spain, Nov 2, 2004 (CNA) - On the eve of the celebration of All Saints and a day before All Souls Day, Bishop Jesus Garcia Burillo of Avila, Spain, called on the faithful to face death, “the hour of truth,” courageously and to live in love in order to live for eternity.

In a program on the COPE Radio Network, Bishop Burillo recalled that “the hour of death we can say is the hour of truth.”  It is “the hour when only what is definitive counts.  Our admiration for success, power, and riches, sustained throughout our lives, fades away in a moment.  What has been the purpose of all our desires?  Our whole life will be relativized in an instant.”

During the program, Bishop Burillo spoke about what is really necessary for that moment.  He emphasized faith and hope in the resurrection of the dead and in eternal life, as well as the need to be prepared.

“The question is: how are we preparing for that final moment?  Or how are we cultivating this eternal life which we already possess but which has not yet culminated in the final encounter with the Risen One.  The answer should be: love is the only dignified way to live, only love carries us towards that final voice: come, you blessed of my Father.”

The bishop concluded his remarks calling for prayers “on All Souls Day for all those, who are on the journey of purification, awaiting their final reward.  Our prayers make their time of waiting shorter.”

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Philippines priestly formation program targets problem of homosexuality among seminarians

Manila, Philippines, Nov 2, 2004 (CNA) - The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’s new Program for Priestly Formation has included express guidelines to help seminary directors better discern whether seminarians are actively homosexual, and has tried to clarify issues surrounding homosexuality.

Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, chairman of the CBCP’s Commission on Public Affairs, noted that the new Program makes it very clear that the Church will not tolerate active homosexuality among seminarians, saying that they will be expelled outright if discovered.

According to a report by Nikko Dizon in STAR, Iñiguez said that Filipino priests found guilty of abusing boys had been dismissed and pointed out that sexual abuse by clergy was not only a problem in the U.S.

The Program’s manual will serve to help seminary administrators create an "atmosphere where seminarians could be more open and honest to them regarding issues they concretely confront in the area of sexuality and celibate chastity," and also stresses vigiliance on the part of administrators on  the "presence of sub-cultures” such as the gay culture, machismo attitudes, convenient and casual sex, and the code of silence “that undermine genuine communion."

"A healthy community life in the seminary,” says the document, “must continue in a vibrant community of priests after ordination."

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Australian Prime Minister calls for debate on abortion law

Canberra, Australia, Nov 2, 2004 (CNA) - Following the release of recent statistics from the state of South Australia suggesting that the majority of women who have late-term abortions due to reasons of mental health, acting Prime Minister, John Anderson, has called for a debate on Australia’s late-term abortion policy.

It is time to "welcome a wider debate to re-examine our understanding of medical science and the law," said Mr. Anderson, according to a report Dennis Shanahan and Patricia Karvelas in The Australian.

However, he also said that any change in the law would have to reflect attitudes of the community, “from the bottom up.”

Some members of Australia’s Liberal party have backed a private member’s bill outlawing late-term abortions in two of the country’s territories, and Australia’s Health Minister Tony Abbot has called on Christians to build a political constituency against abortion.

Many MP’s are in favour of maintain the current law which permits late-term abortions, and few think there is any chance of the private member’s bill having any success.

The state of South Australia has released statistics revealing that due to a late discovery of pregnancy, the ending of a relationship, or embarking on a new job, women have aborted their healthy fetus after 20 to 22 weeks of pregnancy.  Over half of the 377 abortions carried out on these women were carried out because the pregnancy was considered detrimental to their mental health, stressful experiences or periods in their lives.

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