Washington D.C., Nov 3, 2004 (CNA) - Voters in 11 states approved constitutional amendments to maintain the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and to ban same-sex marriage yesterday.
The amendments won easy approval in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon and Utah, thus demonstrating widespread public disapproval of court rulings in favor of homosexual couples.
Gay-rights activists had hoped to prevail in Oregon, but the amendment was soundly voted in.
The Ohio amendment, which is considered the broadest of the 11, bars any legal status that "intends to approximate marriage."
The Associated Press reported that exit polls showed the ban winning by 4-1 in Mississippi, 3-1 in Georgia and 3-2 in Ohio.
Vatican City, Nov 3, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II spoke on the "Hymn of the Saved," from the Book of the Apocalypse during this morning’s general audience in Saint Peter’s Square, affirming that all people are called by God to become children of God.
This hymn, he said, "brings to the liturgy of evening prayer the simplicity and intensity of a chorus of praise. It is in line with the solemn vision of the opening of the Apocalypse which presents a sort of heavenly liturgy which we, still pilgrims on earth, join during our ecclesiastical celebrations."
The first element of the hymn "is the celebration of the Lord's works,” said the Pope. “Creation reveals the immense power of God."
He pointed out that the Book of the Apocalypse was written during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian who forced the people to call him "Domunis et deus noster," and said that Christians "refused to give such a title to a human creature" and only applied such terms of adoration to "Our true 'Lord and God'."
Christ, "the immolated lamb" on the Cross who now reigns glorious, is the focus of the canticle, said the Pope. "The beloved eternal project of God has been fulfilled in Christ. He has freed us from evil and has made us into a 'kingdom of priests.' All of humanity is called to be part of this community of the children of God."
The Holy Father said that the hymn is "a moment of pure contemplation, joyous praise, and a song of love for Christ in His paschal mystery. ... In the liturgy of the Church in a sense we already share in the festive communion of the heavenly liturgy."
Washington D.C., Nov 3, 2004 (CNA) - Californians voted in Proposition 71 yesterday agreeing to grant $3 billion in bonds to the biotech industry to conduct embryonic stem cell research. There will not be any oversight on the research, according to a statement by the Family Research Council, the funds for which are to be used specifically for human cloning and embryo-destructive research.
"California has voted to support embryonic stem cell research jeopardizing both their moral and financial standing," said Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council.
“For the first time,” he continued, “Californians have voted to use their money to finance highly controversial science that intentionally destroys nascent human life and will likely create cloned embryo farms."
"As a country we cannot afford to let this type of egregious disregard for human life to become common and accepted practice,” said Perkins, who added that “there is absolutely no ethical or scientific reason for public funding of embryonic stem cell research.”
“The approval of Proposition 71 diverts scarce resources from the successful adult stem cell research, which has already provided thousands of cures," concluded Perkins.
Wendy Wright, of Concerned Women for America, said that "this is a financial boondoggle that relies upon creating and killing of human beings…It has both moral and financial implications."
Tallahassee, Fla., Nov 3, 2004 (CNA) - Voters in Florida approved yesterday a law requiring that parents or guardians of minors be notified before the minor has an abortion.
"Even though we have a right to privacy that is a very good thing, this amendment is a first step to restoring the rights of parents to look out for their daughters," said Mike McCarron, executive director of the Florida Catholic Conference, on behalf of Florida’s Catholic bishops.
Court rulings had previously prevented the passing of the law on the basis that it violated the provision of privacy in Florida’s constitution, so supporters placed it on the ballot.
Stephanie Grutman, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Florida, expressed her disappointment and claimed that the result was due to voter confusion: "Our next battle is in the Legislature," she said. "We're going to work our hardest to ensure young women are protected."
, Nov 3, 2004 (CNA) - A new member of the U.S. bishops' National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People told the National Catholic Register that she's proud of her record of promoting abortion rights.
Attorney Pamela Hayes is one of five new members appointed to the 12-member National Review Board, which oversees compliance with sexual abuse and child protection policies in U.S. dioceses.
"I've contributed to a lot of pro-choice candidates, and so what? So what?" Hayes told the National Catholic Register in an interview Oct. 21. "What are they going to do about it? If they don't like it, then don't put me on the board.”
Hayes is one of five new members who will succeed outgoing members Charles Keating, Robert Bennett, Anne Burke, William Burleigh and Leon Panetta.
The newspaper reported that Hayes spoke harshly about U.S. bishops who have encouraged Catholics to consider a politician’s stance on abortion before voting. She also expressed support for embryonic stem-cell research.
A recent press report said Hayes had donated to Emily's List, an organization that lobbies in support of pro-abortion politicians. The story also revealed $2,000 in donations to John Kerry for President and two $250 gifts to pro-abortion Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
However, Hayes pointed out to the Register that she gave much more money to Clinton. "They haven't a clue how much money I've given to her," she said. She had also served on Clinton’s finance committee. Hayes said the story failed to mention numerous other pro-abortion causes and candidates, which she has supported over the years.
"If they're pro-choice and they're Democrat, they're my kind of candidate," the parishioner at St. Aloysius Parish in Manhattan told the Register.
Hayes is not the first pro-abortion member on the review board. The Register reported that Federal Election Commission records reveal that outgoing members Bennett and Panetta also donate to pro-abortion candidates. Panetta voted for abortion funding in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Bill Ryan, deputy director of communications for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Register neither he nor other officials at the conference would comment about Hayes’ pro-abortion views, saying that it would be “inappropriate to comment on the views of an individual board member.”
The Register contacted USCCB president Bishop Wilton Gregory, general secretary Msgr. William Fay, and director of communications Msgr. Francis Maniscalco, but they were unavailable for comment.
Brussels, Belgium, Nov 3, 2004 (CNA) - Gustaaf Cardinal Joos of Belgium, who gained notoriety when he called homosexuals “sexual perverts” earlier this year, died yesterday at age 81 at his parish home. The cause of death was not released.
Cardinal Joos, who was appointed to the College of Cardinals last year, fell ill after saying mass yesterday morning at a church in Landskouter, 44 km northwest of Brussels, reported The Associated Press. The cardinal had served in Landskouter since 1970.
The cardinal shared his controversial remarks about homosexuality in a January interview with the news and entertainment weekly P-Magazine.
"I am prepared to sign here in my blood that of all those who say they are lesbian or gay, at most five to 10 percent are effectively lesbian or gay. All the rest are simply sexual perverts," the cardinal had said.
Other leading Catholic leaders, including Godfried Cardinal Danneels, distanced themselves from his comments.
The interview was on the state of Catholicism in Belgium, where the majority of the population is Catholic and where same-sex marriages were legalized last year. Belgium’s same-sex couples may soon be allowed to adopt children.
Santiago, Chile, Nov 3, 2004 (CNA) - The Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) organized a gathering of “experts” on family and public policy in Chile last week which pro-life groups say was dominated by feminist groups attempting to redefine the concept of the family in Latin America.
The summit took place October 28 and 29 in Santiago and was attended by 55 representatives from nine countries and was intended to provide analysis on “families” in Latin America, put together a network of specialists in family issues and propose corresponding public policy.
However, speakers and participants in practice sought to strengthen the concept of “families” as opposed to “the family,” disparaging the traditional family and “democratizing” the family without concern for gender.
According to the delegation from Mexico, Maru Cardenas and Guillermo Macias, there was “a significant absence of qualitative concepts and variables. They did not define what they meant by family, home, democracy or well being, among other things. After long hours of debate, one speaker mentioned that the family should be united by love. A woman stopped her cold: ‘Love is not measurable, the economists and experts do not understand that terminology. Please return to using hard data’.”
Likewise, the delegation denounced that “the only source of information was from the documents of the ECLAC and the studies by the very feminists who, patting themselves on the back, quoted and congratulated each other during their respective presentations.”
Speakers heavily criticized the traditional family. “They considered this reality to be traditional, ideal, and worse, conservative, they said with spite. Instead they spoke of a variety of different households which they proposed be called families,” the Mexicans said.
During the summit, Catholics were accused of have a conservative position that is “an obstacle” and of “aligning internationally and fostering an authoritarian, patriarchal concept of the family.” Speakers even said that “the traditional family is not only idealized, many times, rather than helping, it is very hurtful for its members.”
Rome, Italy, Nov 3, 2004 (CNA) - Brian Savio O’Connor, the Indian Christian who was condemned to 10 months in prison and 300 lashes in Saudi Arabia, was deported to his home country this week “without conditions.”
O’Connor, 36, spent more than seven months in a Saudi prison. He was arrested on March 25 but formally charged with four felonies in September: the selling of alcohol, the possession of pornography, the possession of Bibles and the spreading Christianity.
O’Connor pleaded innocent to the first two charges but was sentenced nonetheless.
After several requests to the King of Saudi Arabia and the President of India for clemency by Christian groups in India, O’Connor was deported to Mumbai, India, where he was met by friends.
O’Connor arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1998 to work for Saudi Airways, where he was employed until his detention.
Madrid, Spain, Nov 3, 2004 (CNA) - The National Confederation of Parents of Families and Parents of School Children in Spain proposed this week that parents specify that if both of them should pass away prematurely, their children should not be allowed to be adopted by homosexual couples.
The Confederation proposed that married couples express their will to the corresponding local government officials, so that if both were to die and not leave behind other family members, their children could not be adopted by homosexuals.
The statement adds that married couples should request that Civil law be changed to reflect this.
The Confederation made its recommendations in the wake of the imminent implementation of a new law making homosexual unions equivalent to marriage. The group said precautions must be taken to keep homosexuals from adopting children because it would be “illicit” competition for true marriages.
The statement warns that if these adoptions are allowed, other countries might not allow Spaniards to adopt children from their country for fear that they would end up in same-sex households.
Lastly, the Confederation emphasized that the government has decided to legislate in favor of minorities, and while they should be respected, they cannot be allowed to become dictators for the majority. The group called for measures that truly protect the family.
Santiago, Chile, Nov 3, 2004 (CNA) - During the celebration of All Saints Day, Archbishop Antonio Moreno Casamitjana of Concepción, Chile, reminded the faithful to always expect politicians to base their work on justice and truth.
During the Mass celebrated at the general cemetery, Archbishop Moreno said society expects of every politician a commitment to the truth, so that he or she will work for the good of the community.
The archbishop said every person, believer or non-believer, has the duty to seek out and respect the truth.
He added that those politicians for whom “the only thing that matters is power and who believe that truth is wherever there is power” are cause for concern, as well as those who act like Pilate, who showed little interest for knowing the truth.
On the other hand, Archbishop Moreno called on the hundreds of faithful gathered at the cemetery to imitate the Christian way of living of the saints, who are the models of how one should live as a Christian in this world, working for justice and truth.
, Nov 3, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Patrick Flores of San Antonio presented a $1-million check to a capital campaign that will fund the restoration and preservation of four Spanish mission churches in the archdiocese.
The check was presented to Las Misiones during a press conference at the Catholic Chancery Oct. 29. The donation, extracted from the annual Archbishop’s Appeal, will be paid in $100,000 increments over the next 10 years.
Las Misiones is a capital campaign that was begun by Old Spanish Missions, Inc., in October 2003 to preserve and restore the church structures of Mission San José, Mission Concepción, Mission Espada and Mission San Juan.
Considered national treasures, the mission churches are the largest cluster of Spanish-Colonial architecture in the United States. The churches are suffering from a number of urgent structural problems, including foundation stabilization problems, drainage issues and rising damp, a condition where the walls retain moisture that causes deterioration.
This recent donation from the archdiocese brings the campaign total to $4 million to date. Its goal is $15 million. Eight million dollars will be used to make urgent improvements over the next 10 years, and the remaining $7 million will establish an endowment fund.
Msgr. Balthasar Janacek, archdiocesan director of Old Spanish Missions, Inc., said he was humbled by the generosity of San Antonio’s Catholic community.
Las Misiones seeks to raise voluntary contributions by educating San Antonio and beyond of the historic, economic, architectural, cultural and spiritual significance of church structures.
For more information on Las Misiones, go to www.lasmisiones.org.