Archive of May 27, 2005

Archbishop Foley: Catholic editor should have represented Church teaching

Orlando, Fla., May 27, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to a joint meeting of Catholic communicators in Florida this week, Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said in a speech that ousted ‘America’ magazine editor, Fr. Thomas Reese, should have better represented Catholic teaching during his time with the Jesuit-run journal.

The Archbishop, who shared a podium with Fr. Reese during the three-day long meeting of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada and the Catholic Academy of Communications Arts Professionals, said that the cleric’s participation in the event was planned before the recent ‘America’ scandal.

He said that while he believes Fr. Reese to be a “fine gentleman” and a “fine priest”… “I generally find myself in agreement with a recent editorial in Our Sunday Visitor and with Russell Shaw's op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal that a priest-editor, who in some way is expected to represent the magisterium of the Church, cannot appear to give equal weight in a publication sponsored by a religious community to articles which present the teaching of the Church and articles which dissent from it.”

Fr. Reese’s resignation from the controversial weekly reportedly came at the request of his Jesuit order.  Reese’s supporters such as the National Catholic Reporter have argued his departure has been the consequence of “pressure from Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recently headed by now Pope Benedict XVI.

According to the Reporter, the Vatican had long standing objections to several articles published in the magazine, which favored condom use for AIDS prevention, homosexual priests, homosexual unions and other issues of dissent from Catholic teaching.

Critics say that ‘America’ gave to much support to those against the Church’s teachings and too little support of it.

Archbishop Foley used his brief stint as editor of Philadelphia’s Catholic Standard and Times at the time of the document ‘Humanae Vitae’s 1968 release, by way of example.

“A number of Catholic publications”, he said, “ignored the fact that there was dissent from the encyclical; a greater number highlighted the dissent and put the encyclical in a subordinate position. I decided to use the encyclical as the lead story and to use the dissent as a separate story on an inside page with the jump of the encyclical story from page one -- and then I did an editorial in support of the encyclical.”

He explained that he “felt that the encyclical represented the official teaching of the Church, which had to be highlighted and with which I happened to agree then, as I do now, but that the dissent was a significant fact that could not and should not be ignored.”

Highlighting this proper balance, he thought that, “the official teaching of the Church should be supported editorially -- both through comment and through story placement. If I were still an editor, I think that would remain my publication philosophy today.”

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Pope Benedict committed to health care for all, especially the poorest, says Cardinal

Vatican City, May 27, 2005 (CNA) - On May 18th, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry told 192 members of the World Health Assembly that Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican are committed to help “bring health care to everyone, especially the most unprotected.”

The Holy See made the speech, given to the decision making arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, public yesterday morning, adding that Archbishop Silvio Tomasi, Geneva-based United Nations office permanent observer was also part of the Vatican delegation.

In his speech, Cardinal Lozano conveyed Pope Benedict’s greetings and said that the Holy Father, "is very concerned about health problems in the world,” offering his personal support and assistance in the world effort to provide health care to all.

The Cardinal said that, "unfortunately, illnesses, especially infectious ones, are ever more virulent in the poorest countries that, precisely because they are poor, do not have the resources to obtain medicine that, thanks to modern technology, can easily offer some cures.”

“In fact,” he said, “each year infectious diseases are responsible for the death of 17 million persons, of whom 90 percent live in developing countries." He also lamented that many of these countries cannot even obtain the medicines to cure certain illnesses.

"It is terrible," he added, quoting the 2005 World Health Report on maternal and infant health care, "to note that of the 211 new human beings who were conceived, there were 46 million induced abortions, 32 who died prematurely or at birth and only 133 million reached birth and lived."

In his concluding remarks to the Assembly, Cardinal Lozano affirmed that, "as the Holy See is aware of these and similar problems, John Paul II established the 'Good Samaritan' Foundation' to help the most needy sick people in the world.”

“The new Pope, Benedict XVI,” he said, “with joy, has ratified this foundation. The initial objective of this foundation has been concretized by buying medicines for the most needy, and we have already been able to bring aid to the sick of 11 African countries, one in Asia and another in Latin America."

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USCCB commends ban on abortions at military hospitals overseas

Washington D.C., May 27, 2005 (CNA) - The House of Representatives rejected a measure to allow elective abortions in military hospitals overseas by a vote of 233 to 194 Wednesday.

“Abortion is not health care. It destroys the life of a child and represents an utter failure to address the real needs of women," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., an official with the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "We congratulate the House of Representatives for rejecting an amendment which would have compelled our nation’s fine military hospitals around the world to perform abortions on demand.”

In 1988, the Reagan Administration established a policy prohibiting elective abortions in military hospitals. President Bill Clinton overturned the policy in 1993, but a military survey of Army, Navy, and Air Force doctors stationed in Europe was unable to find medical personnel in the armed services willing to perform abortions. Congress overturned the Clinton policy in 1996. The House measure May 25 was an attempt to reinstate it.

The existing ban contains exceptions for cases where the mother’s life is endangered or where pregnancy occurred from rape or incest.

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Pro-abortion group confirms abortions decreased under Bush administration

Philadelphia, Pa., May 27, 2005 (CNA) - The claim that abortions have increased under the presidency of George W. Bush is untrue and based on selective research and an erroneous interpretation of statistics, says a new report by FactCheck. In fact, the report says, the claim was proven wrong by a pro-abortion research organization.

FactCheck belongs to the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. In a recent article, the organization traces how an opinion piece by Glen Harold Stassen, an ethics professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, published in Sojourners in October 2004, has led to this widespread misperception that has been promoted by abortion advocates.

The article also traces how several media outlets and Democrats picked up this incorrect information, in particular Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator John Kerry during the presidential campaign, to argue that Bush’s policies have been ineffective.

“Given the trends of the 1990s, 52,000 more abortions occurred in the United States in 2002 than would have been expected before this change of direction,” Stassen claimed.

But close reading of Stassen's article “makes clear that he didn't even pretend to have comprehensive national data on abortion rates,” said FactCheck.

Stassen had projected findings onto the entire country from 16 states; 12 of these, he said, had shown an increase.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion organization, was prompted by Stassen’s information to conduct its own research, this time in 43 states, not just Stassen’s 16.

Leila Darabi of the Guttmacher Institute explained to FactCheck that it was likely that many of the states Stassen picked have higher abortion rates historically, have a higher concentration of population subgroups that tend to have more abortions, and see abortion rates rise more quickly when they do go up.

Guttmacher found that two of the two of the states Stassen used — Colorado and Arizona — had unreliable reporting systems. In Colorado, for example, where Stassen claimed that rates “skyrocketed 111 percent,” the reporting procedure had been recently changed in order to compensate for historic underreporting.

Guttmacher announced its conclusions May 19: the 20-year decline in abortion rates continued after Bush took office. Their research showed the number of abortions dropped nationwide by 0.8 percent in 2001 and by another 0.8 percent in 2002. The abortion rate, which is the number of women having abortions relative to the total population, also decreased 1 percent in 2001 and 0.9 percent in 2002.

Had Stassen’s numbers proven accurate, the institute “would have reported and widely publicized a rise in abortion rates,” Darabi told FactCheck.

Guttmacher's statistics are widely used and respected by all sides in the abortion debate. It is the only organization to compile and publish national abortion-rate data other than the federal Center for Disease Control.

Founded in 1968, the Guttmacher Institute describes its mission as being" to protect the reproductive choice of all women and men in the United States and throughout the world.”

Since 1973, the nonprofit organization, named after a former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, has conducted periodic surveys of the nation’s nearly 2,000 abortion providers.

For the original article, go to:

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Bishop urges opposition to Delaware bill on embryonic stem-cell research

Wilmington, Del., May 27, 2005 (CNA) - Catholics must voice their opposition to new state legislation that would fund embryonic stem-cell research, which involves the killing of the human embryo, said Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli of Wilmington, Delaware.

In a pastoral letter, printed May 26, the bishop pointed out that Delaware’s Senate Bill 80, the Delaware Regenerative Medicine Act, does nothing to stop human cloning for scientific research and does not promote adult stem-cell research as an ethical alternative.

 “Unlike adult stem cell research, human embryonic stem cell research, in addition to being morally wrong, has not yielded a single medical cure. Adult stem cell research has already yielded many successful treatments for a host of medical conditions and should be encouraged by state and federal governments,” the statement says.

“As Christians, we believe that every human life is directly willed by God and is made in His own image and likeness,” he wrote. “Every human life, from the moment of conception, must be treated with the same respect we would want for ourselves or our loved ones,” reads the letter.

The bishop said people should never be treated as objects and human life should never be turned into a commodity, however well intended research might be.

The Diocese of Wilmington has established a special task force to educate public officials and voters about the ethical questions and scientific options surrounding human embryonic stem-cell research.

For the bishop’s full statement, go to:

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Court halts proceedings in abuse lawsuits

Pittsburgh, Pa., May 27, 2005 (CNA) - Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. halted proceedings in nearly three dozen sex-abuse lawsuits, filed against the Diocese of Pittsburgh, until the state Supreme Court issues an opinion regarding Pennsylvania's statute of limitations, reported the Associated Press.

The diocese had asked for a halt in the proceedings given a March ruling of the Superior Court, which declared that Pennsylvania's two-year statute of limitations on personal-injury lawsuits generally prohibits people allegedly abused by clergy decades ago from suing now.

The ruling applied only to claims filed by 18 plaintiffs against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. But some lawyers of the Diocese of Pittsburgh say they believe it set a standard that will eventually apply to most of the suits pending against other dioceses across the state.

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San Diego citizens to vote on future of cross landmark

San Diego, Calif., May 27, 2005 (CNA) - San Diego residents will vote July 26 on whether the Mount Soledad War Memorial and the large cross that is erected on it should be transferred to the federal government, reported AgapePress.

The 43-foot cross was built in 1952 to honor veterans of the Korean War. But nearly 16 years ago, a local military veteran, who is an atheist, sued the city, claiming the cross violates the Constitution.

If deeded to the federal government, it could be protected by a designation as a federal monument. However, some locals say the monument is an important city landmark and should remain municipal.

"This is a historical landmark of our civilization," former military chaplain Rod McDougal told Agapepress. "When our country was formed, it was primarily formed by Christian preachers and businessmen who said 'We want a country that is Christian, where people can worship freely.'"

The handful of atheists and ACLU who say that the landmark infringes on the Constitution are wrong, McDougal said.

“The Constitution says there shall be no law against the establishment of worship and praising and ministering unto the Lord," he stated.

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Catholics and evangelicals in Paraguay unite in opposition to anti-life, anti-family bill

Asunción, Paraguay, May 27, 2005 (CNA) - During an ecumenical service held at the archdiocesan Cathedral in Asuncion, Paraguay, Archbishop Pastor Cuquejo and various evangelical leaders expressed their rejection of proposed laws that would constitute an attack on human life and the family.

The service, which was held in response to a proposed law that would liberalize the country’s abortion and marriage laws, was attended by the president of the Association of Evangelical Pastors of Paraguay, Santiago Maldonado; Anglican Bishop Juan Ellinson; Pastor Jose Micena, and Archbishop Pastor Cuquejo of Asuncion.

Micena criticized lawmakers who want to “change the natural order established by God,” rejecting in the name of Evangelical churches, “the immoral and depraved bills that seek to relativize human life,” and he warned politicians that if they don’t change their attitudes, “the people will make them pay dearly.”

Anglican Bishop Ellinson invited all Christians to strengthen the family and he reminded parents that they should be the first teachers of their children.  “If relativism was stopped in Europe, it can be stopped here as well and moral values can be recovered.”

Archbishop Cuquejo called on lawmakers not to contaminate the country with phony laws.  “If we want to think about a new society, we need to think about God,” he emphasized.

“Today all Christians will pray for our legislators, that they do not pass laws that relativize life,” the archbishop said, adding that laws should “reflect the thinking of the Christian people, because this thinking is healthy and is in conformity with the will of God.”

The protest had a significant political impact: Paraguay’s House of Representatives voted on Thursday to reject the project by 57 votes against 6 and 3 abstentions.

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Filipino government investigating attempted bribery of archbishop

Manila, Philippines, May 27, 2005 (CNA) - The Filipino Ministry of Justice has launched an investigation into a bribery attempt on a local archbishop, who received a check sent by promoters of an illegal lottery to try to get him to cease from denouncing the practice.

The $183,000 check was turned over to authorities by Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan, with a death threat if he continued denouncing the “juenteng,” an illegal lottery worth millions.  The note said the archbishop should concentrate on “other matters (…), otherwise it may cost you your life.”

The archbishop also gave authorities a list of 16 suspicious local government officials who may be involved in the illegal lottery in 24 of the countries provinces and whose names surfaced during a congressional investigation in 1997.

Minister of Justice Raul Gonzalez has asked a government commission that looks into money laundering to see if the source of the check can be uncovered.

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Australian grandmother proud her cousin is new Pope

Melbourne, Australia, May 27, 2005 (CNA) - Erika Kopp hasn’t seen her cousin since 1979, when he was the cardinal of Munich. But she’s hoping to see him again soon, this time in his new role in service to God and the Church as Pope Benedict XVI.

Kopp is very proud of the little cousin she grew up with in Germany and who is now Pope Benedict XVI. Her father was the brother of the Pope's mother, Maria. The 79-year-old migrated to Australia with her late husband, Karl, in 1955.

"To me, he will always be Joseph. I don't know what you would say to a Pope," the grandmother of three told Australia’s Herald Sun. She sent him a congratulatory card.

Kopp told the Herald Sun that she was not surprised to see her cousin named pontiff.

When he was only five years old, she recalled, he told everyone that he would one day be a bishop, she said. He spent his childhood studying and playing the piano, she said, and he never got into mischief.

"He was always very religious,” she said. “He's a good man."

She believes her cousin will be a good spiritual leader and hopes he will remain in good health. "I think he will do good things to bring the people into the Catholic faith," she said.

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