Vatican City, Jul 12, 2005 (CNA) - In a new document released yesterday the Vatican called prostitution a “form of modern day slavery” and an act of violence against women, saying that it gravely violates basic human rights.
The text was the final document of the First International Meeting of Pastoral Care for the Liberation of Women of the Street, which was held in Rome from June 20th to 21st and sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.
The new document states that "sexual exploitation, prostitution and trafficking of human beings are all acts of violence against women." As such they "constitute an offence to the dignity of women and are a grave violation of basic human rights."
It continues, saying, "The Church has a pastoral responsibility to promote the human dignity of persons exploited through prostitution and to advocate for their liberation and economic, educational and formative support. The Church must take up the defense of the legitimate rights of women," and "denounce the injustices and violence perpetrated against women wherever and in whatever circumstances this may occur."
Members of last month’s meeting stressed the need "to collaborate with the mass media to ensure correct communication about this problem." Moreover, they said, "the Church must demand the enforcement of laws protecting women against the scourge of prostitution and trafficking. It is also important to advocate for effective measures against the demeaning portrayal of women in advertising."
The document recommends in its closing that "networks be strengthened among all groups involved in the provision of pastoral care, e.g., volunteers, associations, religious congregations, NGOs and ecumenical and inter-religious groups."
It also highlights the need for "appropriate language and terminology when referring to the phenomena of sexual exploitation and prostitution. Society has a responsibility to provide alternative resources ... for persons seeking to 'leave the street'."
Vatican City, Jul 12, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to a group at the United Nations yesterday, the Vatican’s Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer to the U.N. called illicit arms trade a threat to peace, development and security and voiced the Holy See’s desire to bring it and related activities to an end.
The archbishop delivered yesterday’s speech to the "Second Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects."
"The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons”, Archbishop Migliore said, “is an obvious threat to peace, development and security…That is why the Holy See adds its voice to the calls for a common approach, not only towards the illicit trade in small arms but also to related activities.“
“Furthermore,” he added, “as well as considering the illicit offer of arms, we must also be mindful of the dynamics of the demand for arms."
The Vatican observer also brought another of the Holy See’s concerns to the table asking for weight to be given to “the special needs of children affected by armed conflict, as described in the Plan of Action.”
“Children”, he said, “need to be considered in programs of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) in post-conflict situations, in peace-keeping and peace-building, and in development programs, through community-based approaches."
Archbishop Migliore said that the meeting served "to review the realization of the Plan of Action and see if it is still the cornerstone it should be of the new international legal framework for the control of small arms and light weapons.”
He added that "the international community would do well to consider seriously a debate on the creation of an arms trade treaty, based on the best principles of international law on human rights and humanitarian law. Such an instrument could help contribute to the eradication of the illicit arms trade, while underlining the responsibility of States to reinforce the Plan of Action under discussion today."
London, England, Jul 12, 2005 (CNA) - A senior cleric in the Church of England has warned that he and as many as 800 other priests may join the Roman Catholic Church if the General Synod of the Anglican Communion approves women bishops.
Anglican Bishop Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet was the first to make this statement this past weekend, reports journalist Christopher Morgan.
The General Synod decided yesterday to approve the access of women to the Anglican episcopate. The new policy was decided by 42 votes against six, after a three hour long debate.
The vote in favor means women’s ordination to the episcopate will be three years away.
Bishop Burnham said he would be forced to quit if Anglicans did not make the proper provision for opponents of women bishops and create a third “province” in addition to those of Canterbury and York.
This third province would have only male bishops. However, it seems that a majority of the House of Bishops would not support a third province despite warnings that proceeding with women’s ordination to the episcopate would endanger the unity of the church.
Geoffrey Kirk, national secretary of Forward in Faith, the main Anglo-Catholic group in the church, also stated that he would join the Catholic Church if women’s ordination to the episcopate were approved.
Bishop John Broadhurst of Fulham, who has been linked with plans to create an Anglican-style grouping within the Roman Catholic Church, also forecast that the Church of England would face an exodus if the third province were rejected.
Orlando, Fla., Jul 12, 2005 (CNA) - The Founding Fathers of the United States were right is setting up a limited government, yet these checks and balances were set up “to limit the power of the state over purely religious affairs,” said Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando.
Separation of church was state “was meant to keep the state from dictating to the church,” the bishop explained. “It did not mean that government must be insulated from religious values, or the separation of faith from society.”
The bishop published his comment, dated July 3, in the Sentinel for Independence Day and said Americans should be grateful for their freedom of religion, guaranteed by the Constitution's First Amendment.
“While often described as a secular nation, the United States could be more correctly described as an interfaith nation,” he stated. “Its founding principles acknowledge the presence of a supreme being from whom certain inalienable rights are received. The Declaration of Independence is based on the worldview that God exists. Hence, one could argue that the existence of God is a first principle of our form of government. God is the one who endowed us with those rights.”
The bishop noted that the Church embraced the principle of secularity at the Second Vatican Council as the legitimate “distinction between the political community and religions." The Pope, he said, reaffirmed this point in meeting with Italy's president last month.
However, this accepted definition of secularity has become much more radical, the bishop noted, pushing faith right out of public life and policy. This, he said, is contrary to the intentions of the Founding Fathers.
“Our courts, however, as seen in the recent Supreme Court's ruling on the public display of the Ten Commandments, have abandoned the secularity of our founders, and uncritically embraced an ideology of radical secularism, whose roots lie in the French Revolution,” he wrote.
“Our founders saw religion not as a rival of the state, but a partner,” he wrote. “Today the champions of a secularist worldview tell us that religion is a private matter.
“Such a privatized religion would no longer be the ‘Faith of our Fathers,’ he concluded.
, Jul 12, 2005 (CNA) - In response to a federal appeals court which recently ruled that the U.S.’s ban on partial birth abortion is unconstitutional, one prominent priest is speaking out saying that the court’s decision is utterly “irrational”, and that the Supreme Court needs new judges “who are not activists.”
Fr. Frank Pavone, president of the group Priests for Life, gained recent recognition as an advocate for the family of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman who was starved by court order in defiance of her parent’s wishes.
On Friday, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called the 2003 federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act unconstitutional because they say it fails to allow for exceptions to protect a woman’s health.
"In effect,” wrote Judge Kermit Bye, “we believe when a lack of consensus exists in the medical community, the Constitution requires legislatures to err on the side of protecting women's health by including a health exception."
Fr. Pavone however, begs to differ. "Our elected representatives have passed a law that our president has signed," he said. "This measure will protect the lives of women and unborn children and end the barbaric procedure of partial birth abortion, a procedure that benefits nobody except the abortion industry.”
He added that “It is the responsibility of the courts to preserve the Constitution from the utter irrationality that would conclude that a procedure like this could ever be Constitutional. It is likewise their responsibility not to insult our intelligence by saying the ban is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court needs to resolve this issue -- with new Justices on the bench who are not activists."
Washington remains today in the midst of a heated debate over the replacement of retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was often seen as a swing voter on pro-life and religious freedom issues.
Easton, Mass., Jul 12, 2005 (CNA) - In an effort to strengthen family life and society through the Catholic faith, a number of organizations have collaborated to organize the first Northeast Catholic Family Conference, July 17-18, at Stonehill College, Easton, Mass.
The theme of the weekend is Making the Faith Visible: Embraced by the Father; Taught by the Son; and Filled by the Spirit.
About 2,000 Catholics from Massachusetts and New England are expected to participate. The conference will feature prayer, workshops and celebration. There will also be a "Kids' Camp" initiating young people in Eucharistic adoration and fun workshops on the faith.
The lives of various holy men and women will be presented as a way of teaching how to make the faith visible. They include: St. Gianna Beretta Molla; Blessed James Alberione; Blessed Teresa of Calcutta; Servant of God Fr. Patrick Peyton, CSC; and Servant of God Fr. Michael McGivney.
Topics for the adult workshops include: Theology of the Body; successful parenting; the role of grandparents and extended family; evangelizing through the rosary; raising Catholic children in a secular age; and family and media.
Speakers include Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston, Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus; Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, CEO of Salt + Light Catholic Television in Canada; Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, superior of the Sisters of Life; Fr. John Phalen, CSC, president of Holy Cross Family Ministries; Sr. Julia Mary Darrenkamp of the Daughters of St. Paul, and Andy Flathers of Proud2bCatholic.
The event is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, Holy Cross Family Ministries, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Daughters of St. Paul and the Archdiocese of Boston.
London, England, Jul 12, 2005 (CNA) - The World Health Organization has added two abortifacient drugs on its list of essential medicines for developing countries, says a report published in the British Medical Journal July 9.
The two-drug combination has been presented as an alternative to surgical abortion, which leads to the deaths of an estimated 68,000 women each year. WHO argues the drugs would reduce these deaths.
The combination includes mifepristone, followed some 36 to 48 hours later by misoprostol, to induce abortion within nine weeks of pregnancy. According to WHO guidelines, the drugs would be administered under "close medical supervision."
This drug combination already exists in the UK, France, Germany, the United States, Russia, China, Israel, India, New Zealand and South Africa.
However, the decision by WHO has been harshly criticized. According to an April 21 report in the Guardian, the U.S. did not support the addition of the drugs to the list and placed pressure on WHO not to include them.
In order to deal with the possible controversy in some developing countries, WHO has recommended that the drugs be used “where permitted under national law and where culturally acceptable.”
The British Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said it "hoped enough cultures rejected the drugs as they would bring innocent life to an end."
Fatima, Portugal, Jul 12, 2005 (CNA) - The international shrine of Our Lady, located in Fatima, Portugal, will hold an evening prayer vigil today in remembrance of the victims of last week’s terrorist attacks in London.
Participants will pray in spiritual unity with all those still suffering after the violence and ask Our Lady, Mother of God, for peace and an end to terrorism.
The Portuguese office of the international organization Aid to Church in Need (Fundação Ajuda à Igreja que Sofre) expressed its solidarity to the victims’ families, those who were injured and all British people.
ACN Portugal’s staff and about 100 benefactors will participate at the vigil. They have been on retreat there since July 9.
Ottawa, Canada, Jul 12, 2005 (CNA) - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has been given one last chance to argue its case against the legal redefinition of marriage before a Senate hearings committee tomorrow.
Canada’s same-sex marriage legislation, Bill C-38, was passed in the House of Commons June 28 and is now in the Senate.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec and primate of the Catholic Church in Canada, and Hélène Aubé, a lawyer and mother from Gatineau, Que., will present the Canadian bishops’ breif before the 12-member Senate committee, chaired by Liberal Senator Lise Bacon.
With this intervention, the CCCB has taken public position against same-sex marriage almost 30 times since the debate began in Parliament in the fall of 2002.
The bill has already passed second reading in the Senate by a vote of 43-12, with six abstentions. The Senate invoked closure after only four hours of debate at second reading.
However, the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs is holding three days of hearings on the bill, July 12-14. Several organizations and individuals were invited to participate in the hearings, after which the bill will have its third reading. The bill is expected to pass the Senate by a majority vote.
Iain Benson, executive director for the Centre for Cultural Renewal, is scheduled to present his arguments against the bill at the Senate hearings today. He also presented before the parliamentary hearings committee last month.
“There is a vast democratic deficit in Canada and at times like these, when so many are cynical about the ability of politics to respond to the big issues rather than the knee-jerk pulling of noisy elite groups, the actual performance of the institutions is on public view,” Benson commented.
Benson added that he is appearing before the committee, “trusting in its ability to do the right thing, to consider the legislation and the problems with it. I shall not be impressed if ‘the fix is in’ and we are not truly heard.”
Some of the amendments he suggested regarding the protection of religious freedom and charitable status were reportedly added to the bill before passage in the House.
Montevideo, Uruguay, Jul 12, 2005 (CNA) - Popular Jesuit priest Father Horacio Bojorge denounced the decision by two cable operators in Montevideo to drop EWTN from their lineup and said it was causing great concern among Catholics, who are facing an increasingly hostile secularism.
“The silencing of EWTN El Canal Católico (the network’s Spanish-language broadcast) in the city of Montevideo has generated great concern, and at the same time it is an attempt to cement the strong prevailing secularism,” Father Bojorge said.
He reiterated that the Church in the country is constantly facing a “ferocious secularism” that “has taken shape in different areas of social life.”
Although Uruguay has a Catholic university, he went on, it is only 20 years old. Likewise, Radio Oriental, which was purchased two years ago by the Archdiocese of Montevideo, “is facing serious problems in obtaining sponsors,” and Radio Maria had to overcome serious obstacles in order to open a station in the country.
Father Bojorge explained that the Uruguayan culture is being influenced by a secularism with a hundred year-long history which, according to the prevailing thought of the day, validates or invalidates the actions of Catholics.
This has even influenced “the thinking of the clergy and the Catholic people,” who often are encouraged to “be more Uruguayan than Catholic.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 12, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, said this week the country is still in need of true religious freedom, but he explained that this would depend on a constitutional reform, which should be initiated by Parliament.
At the conclusion of Sunday Mass, the cardinal said it is the desire of the Catholic people to see progress in this area, because this right goes beyond freedom of religion and worship.
Likewise he indicated that the fact that some members of the Fox administration are Catholic does not imply that progress in religious freedom would take place, because “this decision falls to the Legislative branch.”
The cardinal noted that only Parliament could bring about a constitutional change. This “cannot take place through the efforts of one person or the will of some official; it requires a national consensus.”
Cardinal Rivera also called for a reform of campaigning rules in order to allow for greater oversight of political campaigns.
Asunción, Paraguay, Jul 12, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Claudio Gimenez Medina of Caacupe and President of the Paraguayan Bishops’ Conference told the Fides news agency this week that the recent approval of gay “marriage” in Spain is the “fruit of an age that shows itself increasingly more decadent.”
Bishop Gimenez stated that by approving the law, the Spanish government has trampled upon “the fundamental principles” solely “out of a mania for appearing to be a progressive nation.”
“This is nothing more than the aberration of a society without purpose or vision and which is provoking great confusion,” he warned, adding that this “attack on the family and on life is a world-wide orchestrated hoax” that requires a global and unified response, so that actions such as those have taken place in Spain will not be repeated in other countries.
Bishop Gimenez noted that after listening to the reports presented at the recent Plenary Assembly of the Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM) in Lima, one could conclude that “the attacks on the family and life are the same,” although with different characteristics in each country.
He explained that in some countries there are attempts to make homosexual unions equal to marriage through ambiguous legislation, in order to hide the bill’s “true intentions.”
Regarding abortion, he said a vast array of reasons are put forth to justify it. The same occurs with the morning-after pill, which some want to make available despite its “clearly abortifacient” nature.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 12, 2005 (CNA) - The president of Caritas Argentina, Bishop Jorge Casaretto, said last week that improving education is the key to overcoming “the inequality and lack of integration among Argentineans.”
During a conference on equality and social and political integration at the Catholic University of Argentina, Bishop Casaretto noted that while social problems can be traced in part to a lack of employment, “the crisis experienced by Argentineans is not only economic or political, but rather it is fundamentally moral and ethical because individualism and social irresponsibility have been exacerbated.”
Bishop Casaretto called plans to assist mothers in sending their children to schools very positive, and he said such programs “are still necessary because unemployment has not decreased.”