Pierre, S.D., Mar 28, 2005 (CNA) - Last week, South Dakota lawmakers created a roadblock for the abortion industry. A new state law now requires women seeking abortions to sign a waiver acknowledging that the life they are ending is ''a whole, separate, unique, living human being."
The new document also says that the woman has ''an existing relationship with that unborn human being", which is protected by the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the state of South Dakota.
Representative Roger Hunt (R), the prime supporter of the bill said that ''It is extremely important that we recognize this relationship exists."
The new bill also requires doctors to provide information on the physical and emotional risks of abortions. Failing to have a woman sign the waiver could land doctors in jail for up to 30 days with a $200 fine.
While supportive of the new bill, the South Dakota Catholic Advocate Network (CAN) is fighting to see abortion outlawed completely.
Although the new law still allows for abortions, CAN views its passing as a victory in the pro-life movement. In a statement on the group’s web page, they say, “In our country, where abortion is legal with very few limitations, we sometimes have to work in smaller steps to ultimately outlaw abortions.”
Quebec City, Canada, Mar 28, 2005 (CNA) - A committee of Christian parents submitted a petition to the Quebec government, with more than 56,000 signatures, in favor of keeping Catholic and Protestant religious instruction in the province’s public schools.
The petition was presented in the Quebec legislature on behalf of the committee March 24 by Mario Dumont, the leader of Action démocratique du Québec.
Quebec’s public schools have been fully secular since the passage of Bill-118 in 2000. However, the government invoked the Charter’s notwithstanding clause and granted parents the legal right to choose between Catholic and Protestant religious instruction and moral instruction for their children.
The clause expires June 30 and parents want the government to renew it for another five years.
However, the government-appointed Religious Affairs Committee has recommended that the government not renew the clause.
Rather, it has recommended that the Ministry of Education replace the current three-option system with a class for all students that would teach about world religions and encourage students to discern which religious tradition they prefer.
This course is clearly being imposed against the will of the parents, said committee president Jocelyne St-Cyr at a press conference March 23.
She pointed to statistics from Quebec’s Ministry of Education that show that 80 percent of parents choose Catholic and Protestant religious instruction for their children in elementary school and 60 percent choose it at the high school level.
The committee had a 75-minute meeting March 11 with Education Minister Jean-Marc Fournier to present a brief and discuss their position. The minister told the parents that the government has not yet made a decision on whether or not to renew the clause.
Quebec’s Liberal government is expected to enter debate on the notwithstanding clause in May.
Petitions are still circulating. The committee pledged that it would forward these petitions to the National Assembly.
Montreal, Canada, Mar 28, 2005 (CNA) - Jean Vanier will receive the Gaudium et Spes Award from the Knights of Columbus April 2.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson will be in Montreal to present the award to the founder of L’Arche at a banquet at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Knights from across North America are expected to fly in for the event.
The Gaudium et Spes Award is the most prestigious honor of the Knights of Columbus, recognizing individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the Church.
This is the first time a layperson is receiving the award. The first was conferred to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1992. Other recipients include United States cardinals James Hickey and John O’Connor, and the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah.
London, England, Mar 28, 2005 (CNA) - A new version of one of the world’s most widely read English-language Bibles has caused a stir among some Christians in the United States.
The New International Version, renamed Today’s New International Version, underwent a recent “modernization” by a team of 15 American and British scholars and was published March 15.
Scholars say that more than 45,000 changes, about seven per cent of the text, have been made in an effort to update the “archaic” language and use more colloquial terms.
But Paige Patterson, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told the Telegraph that the translators have gone beyond trying to clarify meaning.
"They have an agenda — to attempt to force egalitarian and even feminist perspectives on readers in the name of translation," he was quoted as saying.
Patterson is referring to the "inclusive" language that has been introduced in the new version.
Where the original read: "When God created Man, he made him in the likeness of God"; the new version says: "When God created human beings, he made them in the likeness of God."
The translators have also changed the word "aliens," which they thought younger readers would associate with extra-terrestrials, to "foreigners.” The term "saints", considered too "ecclesiastical", was changed to "God's chosen people." And the Virgin Mary is no longer "with child"; she is "pregnant."
The scholars rejected the charges, reported the Telegraph. They said the changes were a fair reflection of the original Greek or Hebrew texts or updated colloquial English words.
Warsaw, Poland, Mar 28, 2005 (CNA) - The work of art is by Polish artist Piot Uklansk, of New York, who traveled to Brazil to photograph thousands of soldiers. He then used the outlines of each soldier to create a profile of Pope John Paul II. The picture is 31 feet tall and 26 feet wide and was shown in Brazil in March of 2004, during the 26th Biennial Modern Art Exhibit in São Paulo.
The showing of the picture in Poland is part of an initiative to build an modern art museum in Warsaw.
, Mar 28, 2005 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of Colombia and the National Reconciliation Committee issued a joint statement calling for “transparent dialogue and political negotiations that will allow for the building of a Colombia that is reconciled and at peace.”
The statement came as Congress is debating a measure that would allow for the reinsertion into social life of ex-rebel fighters.
Signed by the Archbishop of Bogota, Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz, the document calls for the establishing of judicial guidelines that “reconcile the demands for justice and the desire for peace,” adding that “the legislative debate on measures regarding these issues should unequivocally be oriented towards the achieving of national reconciliation, the supreme demand of the people.”
The bishops stated that, “Colombia needs a law that leads to reparation for the injustices of the conflict and that opens the doors to current and future peace negotiations.”
The statement concludes reiterating the call of the bishops and the National Reconciliation Committee “to the government and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia to sustain and strengthen their will for peace, to overcome the obstacles and difficulties in order to advance towards a the signing of accords that broadly embrace the free and democratic expression of the Nation made manifest in the decisions of the Congress.”
Vatican City, Mar 28, 2005 (CNA) - Thousand of Pilgrims at St. Peter Square were disappointed this morning when Pope John Paul failed to appear at his window on Easter Monday.
Easter Monday, a holiday in Italy, is also known as the “Angel's Monday,” and in this day the Pope used to lead the Easter Marian prayer "Regina Caeli" (Queen of Heaven.)
The event, marking the end of Holy Week celebrations had been on the original Vatican calendar, but had not been confirmed after the Pope left hospital two weeks ago.
Several thousand people at the Square chanted his name in the hope of drawing the Roman Catholic leader to the window. Even the Vatican's television cameras focused on the window, indicating there was a possibility he might wave to the crowd.
The most enthusiastic waited for three hours, until it was evident that, for the first time in his pontificate, the Holy Father would miss his Easter Monday appearance.
The Pope was unable to pronounce any word during Easter Sunday. According to the Italian news Agency AGI: “Today the doctors explain how yesterday's happening was due to a psychological factor: the great anxiety of speaking publicly after two weeks of forced silence.”
According to AGI, the Pope has been speaking with his assistants in private.
Pinellas Park, Fla., Mar 28, 2005 (CNA) - Terri Schiavo was given last rites and Easter communion after an initial opposition from her stranded husband Michael, while supporters are bringing Terri’s fight to DC.
By previous court order, Terri Schiavo was allowed to receive communion only with the consent of her husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo.
The Schindlers announced to the crowd one Easter victory: Terri received Communion wine after her husband finally allowed her to receive the sacrament.
The Rev. Thaddeus Malanowski held Terri’s right hand as he and hospice priest Rev. Joseph Braun placed the droplet on her tongue. Malanowski also anointed her with holy oil, offered a blessing and absolved her of sin.
"She received the blood of Christ," said Malanowski, adding he could not give her a fleck of communion bread because her tongue was too dry.
Terri’s mother, Mary Schindler, was not present at the ceremony, since intense emotions are keeping her from the hospice for the first time since Terri's feeding tube was pulled 10 days ago. Franciscan Fr. Paul O'Donnell, a family spokesman explained that “if she goes in there again, we might have to take her to the hospital”.
Also on Sunday, peaceful protesters dropped roses and Easter lilies at Michael Schiavo's lawn.
His fiancée’s brother picked up the flowers and took them away, saying that Michael Schiavo was “very upset.”
At noon today, Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, members of “Not Dead Yet,” and other supporters of Terri Schiavo, will urge President Bush to intervene on behalf of Terri and will hold a press conference in front of the White House.
After the press conference, the group plans to confront House Speaker Dennis Hastert, followed by Congressman Tom DeLay, asking them to explain why they have not enforced the subpoenas issued by Congress to Terri Schiavo.
The supporters of Terri will also urge Congress to find Florida Probate Judge George Greer in contempt for his treatment of Terri Schiavo's subpoena.
“We are Terri's voice. Right now, Terri is fighting for her life,” the Rev. Mahoney said.