, Nov 17, 2004 (CNA) - Yesterday morning a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against Ursuline Academy, a Catholic all-girls school in Willmington, Delaware, for having fired a teacher who supported, ran and signed a pro-abortion newspaper ad applauding the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The former teacher, Michele Curay-Cramer, also sued the diocese of Wilmington and its bishop.
"Short of a declaration that the Pope should pass draft encyclicals through the courts for approval,” said Judge Kent A. Jordan, “it is hard to conceive of a more obvious violation of the free exercise of the rights of the Catholic Church or a clearer case of inappropriate entanglement of church and state."
Judge Jordan added that "it is not the place of this or any other court to say what system of beliefs constitutes "true" Catholicism or makes for a "good" Catholic. Ours,” he affirmed, “is a system which, wonderfully, forbids any intrusion of the sort."
Barry Willoughby, the attorney who represented the school said that even though the judge’s decision allows some room for other arguments to be made in the state court system, the suit is finished in the federal court system.
“Obviously we’re extremely pleased,” Willoughby said. “It’s a major victory for religious freedom in schools.”
Vatican City, Nov 17, 2004 (CNA) - In today's general audience in the Paul VI Hall, Pope John Paul II catechized on the theme of Psalm 66, "May all peoples glorify the Lord," which he said instructs us to “break down the walls of division, hostility and hatred so that the family of God can gather in harmony” and praise Him.
The Pope said that the phrase "'the earth has yielded its fruit', makes us think of a hymn of thanksgiving, addressed to the Creator for the gifts of the earth, a sign of divine blessing."
"The divine blessing asked for by Israel manifests itself in the fertility of the land and in fecundity, or the gift of life,” he said. “Thanks to the blessing that Israel begged God for, all of humanity will be able to know 'the way' and 'the saving power' of the Lord, that is His saving plan.”
The Holy Father explained that “it is revealed to all creatures and all societies that God judges and governs the peoples and the nations in the entire world, leading everyone toward the horizons of justice and peace."
He pointed out that the psalm alludes to the "wall of separation that separated the Jews and the Pagans in the temple of Jerusalem," as described in the Letter to the Ephesians:
"'But now in Jesus Christ, you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. In effect, He is our peace: He who made us both one and who has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, enmity. ... So that you are no longer strangers or guests but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God."
"There is a message for us,” said the Pope, “we must break down the walls of division, hostility and hatred so that the family of God can gather in harmony around one table to bless and praise the Creator for the many gifts with which He enriches our lives, with no distinctions."
He also pointed out that Christian tradition "has interpreted Psalm 66 in a Christological and mariological way. For the Fathers of the Church, 'the earth has yielded its fruit' refers to Our Lady who gave birth to Christ."
During the Holy Father’s customary greetings to the pilgrims at the end of the audience, he also addressed the families of the Italian soldiers who died a year ago in Nassiriya, Iraq, while “carrying out their mission of peace."
Washington D.C., Nov 17, 2004 (CNA) - The American Life League published an ad in yesterday’s Washington Times, directed at the United States bishops who are meeting in Washington this week.
The pro-life group hopes that the bishops will decide to take a firmer stance against Catholic politicians who support abortion.
The ad’s main message is in its tag line, which states: "You can't be Catholic and pro-abortion."
"The scandal of pro-abortion Catholic public figures continues," it says.
Beneath a photograph of Sen. John Kerry is the tagline: "Even a loser's soul is worth saving."
The text states that under Canon Law 915, "pro-abortion 'Catholics' like John Kerry must NOT be allowed to receive Holy Communion."
The ad notes that during this year's presidential campaign, 10 of America's 186 Catholic bishops were "bold enough to warn Mr. Kerry that he would be denied the Eucharist in their dioceses."
"Now that the election is over, we pray [the bishops'] number one priority will be counseling and instructing John Kerry and the 69 other pro-abortion 'Catholic' politicians in Congress, who scoff at God and scorn His Church, that if they obstinately persist in their support for abortion, they will be denied the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion," the ad says.
"All American babies will be protected from abortion when the Eucharist is protected by all American bishops," the ad concludes.
Washington D.C., Nov 17, 2004 (CNA) - The abortion pill, RU-486, also known as Mifrepex, which has been linked to the deaths of several women, should be shelved, says a spokeswoman for the Pro-Life Secretariat of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., reacted after yet another woman died from using the drug. Details about the woman’s death were not given.
Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration announced changes to RU-486's label, stating that the new label will include information on "the risk of serious bacterial infections, sepsis, and bleeding and death that may occur following any termination of pregnancy, including use of Mifeprex."
"RU-486 doesn't need a better label, it needs to be shelved," said Ruse. "Young women depend upon the safety of FDA-approved drugs. How many have to die before this killer drug is taken off the market?"
The drug was reportedly under investigation by the FDA since the death last year of teenager Holly Patterson, who had obtained the drug from a Planned Parenthood clinic in California. According to an Alameda County coroner's report, Holly died from septic shock caused by the drug-induced abortion.
The drug has also been implicated in the death of another American woman, Brenda Vise.
RU-486 drug trials in Canada were suspended in 2001 following the death of a woman from septic shock. According to the FDA, trials in the U.S. excluded women under the age of 18 due to possible health risks.
Last year, U.S. Representative Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) introduced "Holly's Law" to suspend approval of RU-486 pending an investigation of its safety. Holly's Law has not been voted on, and the FDA has not suspended approval of the drug during its investigation.
Andover, Mass., Nov 17, 2004 (CNA) - A Catholic priest has asked one of his parishioners to stop leading the church choir because her pro-abortion position as a Massachusetts state representative is counter to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Fr. William Cleary, the new pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Andover, told The Eagle-Tribune that since Barbara L’Italien rejects the Church's teaching on life issues, she cannot "be standing up at the pulpit singing or directing singing."
L'Italien, a lifelong member of the parish, says Fr. Cleary made the request after she was re-elected two weeks ago.
L'Italien told the newspaper that she refused the priest’s request and will not consider it unless she receives it in writing.
Madrid, Spain, Nov 17, 2004 (CNA) - Rocco Buttiglione, Italian Minister of European Affairs, explained this week the reasons for withdrawing himself as a candidate for the European Justice Commission, and said that in his case "a Christian has been excluded because of his religious beliefs and his freedom of conscience has not been respected."
In an interview with the COPE Radio network in Spain, Buttiglione, a close personal friend of John Paul II, said that given the choice between a position on the Commission and following his conscience, he chose the latter.
Asked about his statements regarding the rights of homosexuals, Buttiglione said they were "the least I could say without betraying my faith; perhaps I am not a very courageous Catholic, because I only said the minimum, but it was not enough. They wanted me to say that homosexuality has no negative moral component, and that is a violation of my conscience."
Buttiglione said he did not imply that a person should be discriminated against because he or she is homosexual, adding that "to believe that homosexuality is a sin does not mean one is better than homosexuals." "I may be a bigger sinner in other aspects, and in reality all of us are sinners," he emphasized.
He also called it ridiculous that some have tried to say he made discriminatory statements against single mothers. He clarified that the context of this statements was international politics involving Europe and the United States. "Reporters said I was against single mothers, when everyone knows I have always defended all mothers and single mothers as well," he stated.
Speaking about his situation, Buttiglione asked, "Do I have to think there is a certain hostility against me? A conspiracy? I don't know, but this proves it is possible."
Although he stated he was not at all certain that there was a conspiracy, he did say he had three questions about the matter. "Do we have a Europe in which Adenauer, Schuman and De Gasperi could not be commissioners? I hope not, I hope my case was just a mistake and that in the future this will not happen. But in this case what has happened is a Christian has been excluded because of his religious beliefs and his freedom of conscience has not been respected."
"The case of the United States is a curious one. It is a country that is modern in all fields and yet is the most religious country. So it is not true what some people say, that the future demands modernity without religion. Somebody said George W. Bush could not be a European commissioner today. And that is true. But neither could Kerry, because he also says that in his conscience he considers homosexuality and abortion to be morally negative. He thinks that way morally but not politically. Therefore Kerry would not be able to breeze by a committee such as the one I faced."
Lastly, Buttiglione left open the possibility that the attack against him was due to the fact that he is "a good target because it is well known that I am a Christian. If the idea is to kill one person to educate a thousand, as the Maoists say, I was a good target, although I am not a very courageous man and I only said the minimum in order not to betray my faith."
Madrid, Spain, Nov 17, 2004 (CNA) - During the Congress of Lay Apostolates which took place last weekend in Madrid, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, called on Catholics in Spain "to free yourselves from the inferiority complex and boldly be yourselves" and "to maintain a decisive and sharp presence in society."
The Archbishop exhorted them not to be conformed to the dominant culture and to not allow anybody to turn them into "a marginal and irrelevant minority." "Its time for Christians to awaken from our lethargy and be salt and light for the world," even if it costs us our very lives, because "this is the time of martyrs," he assured.
Archbishop Rylko also condemned "the effort to neutralize the Christian presence" in Europe. "The culture of weak thinking begets weak, fragmented and incoherent individuals. In today's socialist society all explicit expression of Christian identity is tagged as fundamentalism or integrism. Therefore, the faith becomes something strictly confined to one's private life."
"The dominant culture is replete with strong anti-Christian prejudices," he added, and "modern society wants to make us invisible, because we make society uncomfortable."
Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 17, 2004 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Durando, Mexico, Hector Gonzalez Martinez, warned Mexicans this week that people who suffer from illnesses due to stress and are seeking a cure through human remedies should consider that total alleviation of the ills of the soul can be found in the Gospel.
During a Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of Durango, the Archbishop explained that when society turns its back on the Word of God it begins to live in chaos.
Archbishop Gonzalez said that "Catholics are frightened when Protestants say the world will end soon" and "society begins to live in stress, in chaos, with no peace, not only because of the end of the world but also because of trivial things. Those who believe these things are the ones who get scared; the rest of us keep on working."
He also called on the faithful not to torment themselves with stress and to remember that the believer will live in peace with himself and with others "if he lives with spiritual tranquility and following the teaching of the Gospel."
Archbishop Gonzalez told the faithful gathered at the Cathedral to strive to build a better today and to not get bogged down with the future, as they can make the Kingdom of God visible every day in their daily tasks.
Vatican City, Nov 17, 2004 (CNA) - A new free exhibit of ancient art opens today at the Vatican Museums and runs until Jan. 31.
"The Colors of White" exhibit features 15 reproductions, some alongside the originals, which show the real colors with which ancient works were created, before the hues were washed away by rain and bleached by the sun over the centuries.
“It is as if these artworks were made right now by ancient artists,” said Francesco Buranelli, director of the Vatican Museums.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 17, 2004 (CNA) - The Foundation Argentina for Tomorrow denounced an offense committed against the Virgin Mary on a television program in which the Mother of God was portrayed in a degrading manner, surrounded by believers (who were also ridiculed) lighting candles and praying the Rosary.
Immediately the Foundation dedicated to the defense of family values issued a formal complaint to media agencies. They also called on Catholics to pray in reparation for the offensive act against the Blessed Mother.