Madrid, Spain, Jan 20, 2005 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of Spain issued a press release this week clarifying statements made by the body’s spokesman, Father Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, which the press interpreted as official Church support for condom use to prevent AIDS. In their statement, the bishops maintained that, “It is not true that the teaching of the Church on condoms has changed.”
The bishops said that Father Martinez met with Health Minister Elena Salgado to “discuss the best way to work together in the prevention of the AIDS pandemic. It’s an issue that concerns the Church, Catholics, and the ecclesial institutions that work, most especially, in Spain and in the whole world, in the area of social and health care for those affected by this disease.”
According to the statement, Father Martinez spoke with Salgado about “the prevention program known as the ABC Strategy and proposed by prestigious scientists and experts of international stature. (See the magazine The Lancet from November 2004). The advice of experts is that, in order for prevention policies regarding the transmission of AIDS through sexual contact to be complete and efficient, they should be based on abstinence, fidelity and condom use—in that order. This is also affirmed by the World Health Organization.”
The statement clarifies that Salgado was told that “reports that claim that the Church, in promoting the correct use of human guided by the virtue of chastity, is going against scientific recommendations regarding the prevention of the spread of AIDS. On the contrary, abstinence from undue sexual relations, and mutual fidelity between spouses, constitute the only universal safe conduct in the face of the danger of AIDS. Recommendations by experts in public health agree in this sense with the moral teaching of the Church.”
Likewise, the bishops point out that at the end of their meeting, Father Martinez Camino “responded briefly to reporters who were waiting for him” that “the use of condoms has its place in the program called the ABC Strategy, which is an integral technical prevention plan against AIDS. This statement should be understood in the sense of the Catholic teaching that maintains that the use of the condom implies immoral conduct.”
“For this reason, the Church collaborates effectively and sensibly in the prevention of AIDS, promoting the education of people in conjugal love that is faithful and open to life, trying in this sense to avoid undue and promiscuous relationships, which lead to so-called ‘risky health situations.’ Based on these principles, it is not possible to recommend the use of condoms, as it is contrary to the morality of the person. The only thing that is truly recommendable is the responsible exercise of sexuality according to the moral law,” the statement concludes.
Vatican City, Jan 20, 2005 (CNA) - A speech given by Archbishop Celestino Migliore to the United Nations General assembly was published today regarding relief efforts in the areas devastated by the tsunami of December 26th.
Archbishop Migliore, who is the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, gave the speech on January 18th in New York regarding Item 39, Strengthening the Coordination of Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance of the United Nations, Including Special Economic Assistance: Draft Resolution.
The archbishop expressed "deepest condolences to the concerned countries," and noted that "since the very start of the emergency, His Holiness Pope John Paul the Second has expressed his deepest sympathy.”
He has committed the agencies of the Catholic Church to act in a genuine gesture of solidarity to all people without exception in each nation touched by this enormous tragedy."
He added that the Catholic Church's "institutions and the Papal Representatives present in the affected countries went into action immediately. Firstly, they gave out food and clothes as well as sheltering the affected populations.”
Tragically, it has become clear that the most affected group has been young children, of whom at least fifty thousand were swept away, but there are also tens of thousands left orphaned. For this reason we are placing special emphasis upon ways to bring help to surviving children in the zones worst affected."
"In cooperation with the Pontifical Council Cor Unum," Archbishop Migliore stated, "a very long list of Catholic agencies is already using funds from throughout the world, amounting to nearly five hundred million dollars, some of which is going into emergency aid and the rest into longer term projects through our local networks."
He underscored that "the extraordinary impact of the power of nature ... elicited an equally extraordinary response from the peoples and governments of the whole world. ...”
Such a swift and practical expression of global solidarity is surely a sign of the fundamental decency of the peoples of the world."
The Archbishop remarked that "the world's nations should seize this opportunity and the good generated by the world's peoples so as to further important humanitarian goals on the broader agenda at this time.”
“My delegation”, he added, “earnestly hopes, therefore, that this year will be one in which solidarity will be the hallmark of the political agenda."
Vatican City, Jan 20, 2005 (CNA) - This morning, John Paul II called on participants of the General Chapter of the International Union of Families of Schoenstatt to deepen “their understanding of marriage and the family in the light of faith.”
The Pope reminded the group that, "the future of humanity passes by way of the family,” quoting what he wrote in the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio.”
“It is good that the family represents the charism of your union. The family is a 'school of love.' Transmit your enthusiasm for marriage and the family to your people."
"Society currently needs more than ever healthy families who are capable of defending the common good," the Pope said. "If we strengthen the sacred institution of marriage and the family in keeping with the divine plan, love and solidarity between people will grow."
The Holy Father stressed that the year of the Eucharist represents "an urgent invitation to find 'the source of all communion in the supreme Sacrament of love'.”
He asked them to “discover anew the immense gift of the Eucharist 'in order to experience fully the beauty and the mission of the family'."
Toronto, Canada, Jan 20, 2005 (CNA) - Toronto Archbishop Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic sent an open letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin, urging him to block same-sex marriage by invoking the Canadian Constitution’s notwithstanding clause, The Globe and Mail reported Wednesday.
The clause, which can be employed to override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is a temporary measure that needs renewal every five years.
Cardinal Ambrozic says this five-year period would allow for more debate and give Canadians the opportunity “to observe the social experiments now under way” in countries where same-sex marriage is legal, such as in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper disagrees with the cardinal, saying that the notwithstanding clause is “not necessary.”
"It is necessary for the federal government to adopt legislation that protects the traditional definition and protects religious freedom,” he told the Canadian Press.
The Conservative Party is planning to launch a national campaign to defend traditional marriage with ads in multicultural newspapers and religious publications.
Meanwhile in India, the Canadian Prime Minister fielded questions from reporters after Joginder Singh Vedanti, the spiritual leader of the Sikhs, said: "Same-sex marriage originates from a sick mind."
"This is a question of civil marriage, not of religious marriage," Martin told reporters.
“I would point out that we are a country of ethnic and religious minorities,” he continued. "And the purpose of the Charter of Rights is to protect minorities, to protect them against the oppression of the majority."
Martin’s Liberal Party is expected to table a same-sex marriage bill in February and pass legislation by summer.
If Parliament defeats the bill, same-sex marriages will still be legal in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Yukon, where provincial courts ruled that the traditional definition of marriage is unconstitutional.
Washington D.C., Jan 20, 2005 (CNA) - An official with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says there is new evidence, indicating that “the culture is turning away from abortion.”
Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., director of planning and information for the USCCB’s Pro-Life Secretariat, pointed to a recent study by the Center for Gender Equality, which supports unlimited abortions, about “top priority” issues for the women’s movement. The survey results indicate that “keeping abortion legal” came in at last.
Ruse called the Roe vs. Wade decision a “social experiment on the lives of women and children,” from which people have begun to turn away.
“More and more people believe that all children deserve a chance to be born, and that women deserve better than abortion,” she said.
The pro-life movement has a strong grassroots, “especially among young people who have grown up under Roe and have seen the damage it has done," she said, adding that the movement is preparing for the possibility of changes to the Supreme Court.
Ruse again urged Senators not to impose a “pro-abortion litmus test” on judicial nominees to the Supreme Court.
"Requiring allegiance to Roe v. Wade as a condition for serving as a federal judge is … wrong,” said Ruse. “It not only offends Catholics, but also the majority of Americans who believe an unlimited right to abortion is wrong."
Washington D.C., Jan 20, 2005 (CNA) - "Jane Roe" – whose case first legalized abortion on demand 32 years ago – has formally petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade.
Norma McCorvey’s case cites the sworn testimony of more than 1,000 women hurt by abortion and 5,300 pages of evidence from medical professionals, reported Jeremy Reynalds, a freelance writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
McCorvey petitioned the court Jan. 14 and is still awaiting a reply. She says that if the court is unwilling to reverse the decision it should at least order a trial on the case’s merits, reported Reynalds.
“It was a dreadful day in America when the Supreme Court allowed a woman to kill her own child," said McCorvey in a news release from The Justice Foundation, the San Antonio-based non-profit, public interest law firm that has taken on the case.
"Now we know so much more, and I plead with the Court to listen to the witnesses and re-evaluate Roe v. Wade,” said McCorvey, who worked in abortion facilities and said she’s seen firsthand “the horrific nature of abortion and its devastation to women and girls."
Abortion has been known to result in a number of emotional complications for women, including personality changes, numbness, rage, ongoing mental anguish, and suicidal thoughts, reported Reynalds.
The Justice Foundation reports that a significant change in most state laws now provides an alternative to abortion, allowing a woman to take her newborn to a "safe haven" anonymously, with no questions asked if no harm is done to the baby.
Steubenville, Ohio, Jan 20, 2005 (CNA) - Around midnight on January 24th, over 500 students from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio will board charter busses and travel to Washington D.C. to commemorate the thirty-second anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.
The 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion practices in the U.S.
According to the University, a pro-life vigil, presided by Bishop R. Daniel Colon of Steubenville will mark the start of student’s pro-life activities.
Upon their arrival in the nation’s capital, “the students will attend Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception then join thousands of participants for a rally at the Ellipse and the annual March for Life.”
The theme of this year’s March is “It Is the Duty of Each American to Uphold the Life Principles for the Common Good of Self, Neighbor, and County—No Exception! No Compromise!"
The events at Franciscan University are part of hundreds of vigils and rallies being held across the country to commemorate Roe vs. Wade’s anniversary.
It is estimated by the Priests for Life website, that over 44 million babies have been killed by abortions since the 1973 case was decided.
Bogotá, Colombia, Jan 20, 2005 (CNA) - A judge in the Colombian city of Cali has sentenced to more than 35 years in prison two of the men responsible for the murder of Archbishop Isaias Duarte Cancino, which took place almost three years ago.
Judge Ruben Dario Plaza sentenced Alexander de Jesus Zapata to 36 years and 7 months in prison for co-authoring the murder as well as for illegal possession of firearms. Likewise he sentenced John Fredy Jimenez to 35 years and 7 months as the other coauthor of the crime.
Archbishop Duarte was killed on March 16, 2002, outside the Church of the Good Shepherd in Cali, Colombia, after having celebrated Mass and presided at the marriage of almost 100 couples. He was 62 years old.
Authorities captured Carlos Augusto Ramirez, Alexander de Jesus Zapata and John Fredy Jimenez after they were identified by witnesses. Ramirez was murdered while he was being held at a prison in Palmira, near Cali.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 20, 2005 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of Mexico has called for a special collection on February 27 to raise money for the fight against AIDS in Africa.
The Conference said the collection is in response to the call by the Pontifical Council for Health Care, which has expressed its concern for the number of children orphaned by the disease. Currently there are more than 15 million orphans due to AIDS and the number could rise to 18.4 million by 2010.
The Bishops Committee on Social Work, responsible for coordinating the collection, reported that according to statistics, the epidemic has not diminished and in fact continues to spread.
“We see a rising curve that speaks to the failure of the world’s efforts to stop it,” organizers said.
According to recent data, in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa more than 28 million people have the AIDS virus.
AIDS, say the bishops, is “the trunk of a tree of death whose branches are made up of orphans, insufficient services, unemployment, economic hardship, poor education, greater poverty, violations of human rights, disgrace and death, among other things.”
London, England, Jan 20, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, leader of the world's 70 million Anglicans, said euthanasia is unacceptable because it excludes God from certain aspects of life.
Reuters reported that the archbishop said euthanasia,which recognizes the legal right to assisted dying, could eventually entail a responsibility on others to kill.
"What anyone's life means is not exclusively his own affair. He lives in relation to others and to a society," Archbishop Williams wrote in an article in the Times.
"The right to be spared avoidable pain is beyond debate, as is the right to say yes or no to certain treatments,” he said. "But once that has mutated into a right to expect assistance in dying, the responsibility of others is involved."
The said an individual's decision to end their life would be the same as saying there was some aspect of human life where God had no place. It would be “an admission that faith had failed," he said.
Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland have legalized assisted euthanasia.