Vatican City, Jul 21, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday, on the eve of the two week anniversary of the London blasts which killed 56 commuters, and in light of today’s evacuation of three more underground stations, Pope Benedict XVI said that terrorism must be fought with sincere prayer for peace, and dialogue--especially among the three religions which recognize Abraham as Father.
The Pope responded to reporters questions while returning to his vacation chalet from Val Grisanche in the northwest Italian alps. He is on holiday in the Valle d’Aosta region of Italy until July 28th when he will travel to the papal summer residence of Castelgandolfo, south of Rome.
As Benedict’s car returned to the chalet he surprised onlookers by asking the driver to stop and getting out to answer reporters questions. Among them, were his thoughts on the July 7th London attacks.
The Holy Father said that if it’s true that "terrorism is irrational" and therefore impervious to signs, then dialogue can at least "be one element, a cry of alarm, an invitation to abandon terrorism."
He also noted, perhaps optimistically, that even after the London attacks, there is no major clash of civilizations in the world--only "small fanatical groups."
In this vein, he stressed the importance of "dialogue between the three religions that recognize Abraham as father (Christianity, Judaism and Islam),” and encouraged prayer “that the desire, which exists throughout the world and is clearly against all violence, may prevail and grow stronger."
Asked about his vacation itself, which he has been on since July 11th, the Pope said: "It is a marvelous holiday, everything here is beautiful, it is a paradise."
Abuja, Nigeria, Jul 21, 2005 (CNA) - Following President Bush’s long awaited nomination of Judge John Roberts to replace retiring Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, Washington’s Culture of Life Foundation is commending Bush on picking someone who they say will not “legislate from the bench.”
Foundation president, Austin Ruse said that, "Roberts has the experience, education, and credentials necessary to excel at the noble and high calling of a Supreme Court justice,” and added that "President Bush is to be commended for following through on his commitment to appoint someone who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and not legislate from the bench."
"For too long,” he continued, “those opposed to the dignity of life, marriage and the family have turned to the courts to advance their agenda and many judges have been far too happy to accommodate…We are confident that Roberts possesses the temperament and character of a man who knows that his role on the bench is not to advance his own personal preferences but to enforce the law."
Bernard Dobranski, Dean of Ave Maria School of Law, and a board member of the Culture of Life Foundation added that he thinks Judge Roberts “is an outstanding choice, one well within the mainstream of American jurisprudence.”
He said that the nominee “possesses the intellectual ability and depth that is required for a member of the Supreme Court; he possesses the necessary integrity and strength of character; and, finally, he understands quite well that the Constitution is to be interpreted according to its text, the intent of its framers, and within the customs and traditions of the American people…The President has chosen well and is to be commended for the wisdom behind this nomination.”
Though Roberts is a conservative, even many on the left are optimistic about Bush’s choice, finding virtually no major flaws in the judge’s resume. Others however, are taking a wait-and-see attitude until the Senate finishes their upcoming scrutinizing process.
Washington D.C., Jul 21, 2005 (CNA) - With President Bush’s Tuesday nomination of Judge John Roberts to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor--historically seen as a swing voter on life and religious freedom issues--on the Supreme Court, people on all sides of the culture wars are looking to see what kind of judge the potential 109th justice will be.
The 50-year old Judge Roberts, who is married with two children, is a practicing Catholic and a 1979 graduate of Harvard Law School. Following law school, from which he graduated magna cum laude, Roberts clerked for well-respected Judge Henry Friendly on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and also Justice William Rehnquist on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Roberts also served for some time in the Regan administration, particularly as Associate White House Counsel, and from 1989-93, served as Principal Deputy Solicitor General--the government’s second highest ranking lawyer before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Having argued some 39 cases before the Supreme Court in his government practice and as a partner with the firm, Hogan and Hartson, Roberts has been described by various law journals as “one of [the Supreme Court’s] finest practitioners,” and “one of the top appellate lawyers of his generation.”
In 2003, he was nominated to the Washington DC Circuit Court of Appeals, where he received wide, bi-partisan support and on which he currently sits.
Samuel B. Casey, Executive Director of the Christian Legal Society said that, "John Roberts is well-known and respected as a 'lawyer's lawyer.' He is considered by many who practice before the Supreme Court to be one of the finest appellate advocates in the country."
Gregory Baylor, director of CLS’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom, added that "We are particularly pleased that Judge Roberts, by virtue of his public service and private practice, has an excellent working knowledge of the provisions of our Constitution that protect our first and most vital liberties of free speech, association and religious free exercise."
Even Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who holds the seat Roberts may fill called the nomination “first rate”, saying that, “I have watched Judge Roberts since he has been an advocate before our court, and I and my colleagues have been enormously impressed with his scholarship and his skills…He's earned an excellent reputation as a lawyer, so I think he's very well qualified."
While Roberts has not expressed his personal views on abortion, many pro-life advocates are optimistic that he will not cater to pro-abortion interest groups and will simply uphold the law, which should, they say, protect the right to life in all circumstances.
Denver, Colo., Jul 21, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic News Agency excitedly announced today new updates to the group’s website that they hope will better equip Catholics and Christians with the tools necessary to sift through today’s cultural minefield and better live out the Gospel in their everyday lives.
Alejandro Bermudez, CNA’s editor in chief said that, “we want to provide our readers not only with the news but also with analysis from people on the ground who combine great knowledge in their fields with solid Catholic identity.”
Some of the new features, due to debut on July 26th will include bi-weekly columns on topics ranging from Teen Life, Catholics and Politics, ‘What women want’, Catholic singles, No-nonsense economics for Catholics, Book Reviews, and items on understanding and defending the Catholic Faith.
The list of columnists include seasoned scholars like Professor William R. Luckey, Chairman of the Political Science and Economics Department at Virginia’s Christendom College and a Middle School student from Colorado.
“With so much information in the mainstream media--much of it hostile to the Church--we want to try and give Catholics a filter with which to see the world through an authentically Catholic lens,” said Scott Powell, CNA’s U.S. Bureau Chief.
The news agency has also launched its new donate page, a highly-secure server on which readers can make on-line donations to the non-profit group. It can be found at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/donation.php
, Jul 21, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic League president William Donohue has taken on Adele Stan of the online magazine American Prospect for stating that President George Bush’s nomination of Judge John Roberts for the Supreme Court is evidence of his "playing the Catholic card.”
"Unfortunately, within 24 hours of Roberts’ nomination, Catholic baiting has raised its ugly head,” said Donohue. “And the fact that it is coming from a mainstream liberal source is even more disconcerting.”
Donohue pointed out that most people weren’t even aware of Roberts’ religious affiliation until after his nomination.
But, according to Stan, Bush is "betting he’s bought himself some insulation—any opposition to Roberts, particularly because of his anti-abortion record, will likely be countered with accusations of anti-Catholicism.”
She says this is a “timely pitch” to “conservative Catholic voters prior to the midterm elections.”
Stan goes even further on her blog, AddieStan, by saying: "Rome must be smiling” at Bush’s choice. She is also urging “liberal Catholics” and others to protest the nomination.
But Donohue countered Stan’s claims by applying a similar logic to President Bill Clinton’s selection of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Steven Breyer for the Supreme Court.
“Did he do so because he liked ‘playing the Jewish card’?” Donohue asked. “And did he do so because he wanted his critics to be seen as anti-Semites? For good measure, was Israel ‘smiling’ when Clinton chose Ginsburg and Breyer?
"The fact that Jew baiting did not accompany the nominations of Ginsburg and Breyer shows how this nation has progressed,” he said.
Ottawa, Canada, Jul 21, 2005 (CNA) - Same-sex marriage may be the law of the land in Canada, but “the fundamental and universal reality of marriage remains the exclusive union of a man and a woman for life” and Catholics must continue to oppose same-sex marriage, said the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“From the perspective of the Catholic Church, the new federal statute denatures the moral values and principles,” the bishops stated, noting that a number of Catholic politicians voted in favor of the bill.
The CCCB issued its statement after Bill C-38 officially became law Wednesday. Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLauchlin issued royal assent, standing in for Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, who is on medical leave. The Senate had approved the bill in a late-night vote Tuesday.
But the bishops believe this debate is “far from over” and that same-sex marriage will be a significant issue in the upcoming federal election, expected in the spring.
Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the bishops stated that in the ongoing efforts to protect the traditional definition of marriage, “homosexual persons must always be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity … [and] every unjust discrimination in their regard is to be avoided.”
Catholics must also work to ensure that all provincial and territorial regulations on the solemnization of marriages provide full protection for freedom of conscience and religion, the bishops said.
The CCCB thanked the “many Canadians of all faiths and also of no religious adherence” who rose to protect the traditional definition of marriage.
“A number of citizens, including public officials, have defended the true reality of marriage with great courage and considerable personal sacrifice, even at the risk of their own careers,” the bishops noted.
They also noted that some Catholic politicians voted for the legalization of same-sex marriage. “In this regard, they are in dissent from the teaching of the Church as enunciated by the Holy Father and the bishops,” the statement reads.
While the bishops did not mention if they planned to take action against these public officials, they did call the politicians’ dissent “a serious and problematic matter.”
The bishops pledged to study the immediate ramifications of this decision and issue further reflections in the defence of marriage and family life.
, Jul 21, 2005 (CNA) - The national director of Priests for Life has taken on the director of Catholics for a Free Choice, Frances Kissling, after she suggested in a recent press release that Catholics don’t have to adhere to Church teaching and that abortion can be justified.
"Nobody is forced to be a Catholic,” said Fr. Frank Pavone. “But if you don't subscribe to Catholic teaching, have the honesty and integrity to say that you are no longer Catholic. But don't try to have it both ways. That's a game children play, not adults.
He pointed out that over the last few years the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has stated several times that Catholics for a Free Choice is not a Catholic organization and it does not represent the Church.
Fr. Pavone said Kissling’s comments on abortion could be addressed even without discussions on the Catholic faith.
“We don't even have to enter the question of Catholic faith,” he said. “We just have to read the descriptions of the procedure and look at the pictures. It is an act of killing. Neither a private citizen nor a Supreme Court nominee can justify this act of violence.
“Those who claim that killing children has any place under our Constitution, or in any civilized society, have more than a problem with Catholic faith,” Fr. Pavone stated. “They have a problem with fundamental human rights.”
Jackson, Miss., Jul 21, 2005 (CNA) - Bethany Christian Services in Mississippi has voted unanimously to include Catholic families in all adoption programs.
Sandy and Robert Stedman, a couple who had been denied services from Bethany earlier this month because of their Catholic faith, told the Clarion-Ledger that the policy change is "a true testament to Christians working together to resolve an issue peacefully."
Bethany had initially explained to the Stedmans in a letter that it was the organization’s "understanding that Catholicism does not agree with our Statement of Faith.”
But yesterday Bethany Christian Services of Mississippi announced its new policy, saying that it “regrets any pain caused to families, especially to our Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ.”
The adoption agency, with offices in 75 U.S. cities, said it would continue to stand on its Statement of Faith but "we realize that we took too narrow a view in assessing adoptive applicants."
Local board president Peggy McKey told the Clarion-Ledger that the agency's past policy of excluding Catholic parents was "unintentional on our part" as Bethany had assumed Catholic Charities gave preference to Catholic couples seeking to adopt.
"We just didn't keep up with the times," she reportedly said.
Bethany Christian Services’ head office in Grand Rapids, Mich., also issued a statement that read: "All families in agreement with the agency's Statement of Faith, including Catholic families, are eligible to adopt."
Choose Life Mississippi, which distributes money received from the sale of Choose Life specialty license plates to 24 adoption and crisis pregnancy centers, including Bethany, said it was pleased with Bethany's decision.
Of the $244,000 generated by the sale of the license plates in 2004, Bethany received $7,053.
Springfield, Ill., Jul 21, 2005 (CNA) - Summer school is in for the bishop of Springfield, who is attending a five-week intensive course on Spanish language and culture in Mexico City this summer.
Bishop Timothy McDonnell said he decided to take the course in order to better serve the growing Spanish-speaking population in his diocese.
The program, which ends in mid-August, is designed for American and Canadian bishops, priests and seminarians.
Washington D.C., Jul 21, 2005 (CNA) - The United States bishops’ Committee on Migration has expressed its support for a new bill that proposes major reforms to the current immigration system. It is also urging Congress and President George Bush to endorse the bill.
The Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of 2005 proposes to create legal avenues for migrant workers to enter the U.S. safely. The committee noted that the bill also provides an opportunity for new immigrants to work toward permanent residency and additional visas for families to be reunited through the family preference system.
The bill, introduced in Congress last May, “represents a comprehensive and bipartisan approach to reforming our broken immigration system,” said Bishop Gerald Barnes, committee chairman, in a July 19 press release.
The bill also “best reflects principles for immigration reform set forth by the United States bishops,” he added.
Bishop Barnes said he is willing to work with the sponsors of the legislation to add important provisions to the measure. These provisions would include: additional labor protections in the essential worker program for both U.S. and foreign workers; mechanisms to ensure that migrants are treated humanely by enforcement personnel; and provisions which allow for the involvement of community organizations in the implementation of the new program.
Lima, Peru, Jul 21, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Miguel Irizar Campos of Callao, Peru, said this week Peruvian society continues to be rampant with corruption because there is a lack of will on the part of leaders, as well as little vigilance and collaboration from citizens, to eradicate it.
In a letter entitled, “A Peru Without Corruption,” the bishop explained that a “strong ethical and moral conscience” is necessary in the battle against this scourge.
He recalled that in 2001, then-President Valentin Paniagua established a special commission to deal with the problem of corruption. The commission found that the commitment to serve the common good was “weak,” and that politicians and leaders frequently violated ethical norms in order to bestow favors on certain groups and individuals.
The commission recommended the creation of “an autonomous organism elected by Congress” that would institutionalize “the fight against corruption,” as well as “guarantee transparency and accountability in public affairs.”
Nevertheless, Bishop Irizar pointed out that four years later, “I wonder what we have done in the fight against corruption in Peru,” at the Executive, Legislative and Judicial levels, as well as “among the populace in general.”
“Those in public office bear much responsibility in this battle,” he noted, adding that they should strive for the correct application of the law and conduct public affairs with transparency.
“Corruption is difficult to neutralize,” Bishop Irizar explained, “because it adopts multiple forms; it is stamped out in one area, and resurfaces in another.” In order to eradicate it, he maintained, “we need persistent will on the part of leaders and the generous collaboration of all citizens.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 21, 2005 (CNA) - Several Mexican bishops have denounced the possible inclusion of the morning after pill in government sponsored health plans, calling it a “lethal weapon against the innocent.”
In an editorial published in the Archdiocese of Mexico’s newspaper Desde la Fe, the bishops called the decision by the Department of Health to distribute the pill irresponsible, and they dismissed criticism that the Church is out-of-touch for defending human life and the dignity of the person.
“The wrong decision by authorities is leading to a moral and social degradation, the costs of which we are already paying in a society that has become increasingly inhumane. It is not by distributing contraceptives in bulk that we will resolve the health problems related to sexuality, because this activity is not merely genital, but is rather an integral part of the person,” they added.
In Mexico City after Sunday Mass, Cardinal Norberto Rivera questioned the decision by Health Minister Julio Frenk to only follow the advice of the World Heath Organization and hastily allow the distribution of the pill. “This is a measure which Mexico does not need. There is no reason to place such a weapon in the hands of people in order to kill the innocent,” he noted.
Although the cardinal warned that the decision “is very dangerous because it has been proven that this morning after pill can be abortifacient,” he expressed hope that there could be a dialogue with Frenk about the issue.
“We want decisions to be made that are reasonable, once dialogue has taken place. This is not about a power struggle, we know that they are the ones with power, that they are running the government and can impose these decisions,” he stated.
For his part, Bishop Jose Guadalupe Martin of Guadalupe, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, called on President Vicente Fox to an examination of conscience about the decision, “because if he is Catholic, he will have to give an account for betraying his faith when he goes to meet God.”
Madrid, Spain, Jul 21, 2005 (CNA) - In an effort to denounce the leaders of a “Gay Pride Parade” in Madrid for crimes against family associations and slander against Catholics, in only five days more than 1,000 people have downloaded a sample protest letter prepared by the civil rights website Hazteoir.org.
During the parade, dozens of gay activists engaged in obscene and violent acts, while many others carried signs threatening the bishops and family groups and calling Benedict XVI a Nazi.
The sample letter denouncing the parade calls on public officials to investigate alleged crimes committed during the event and to identify the government officials and homosexual leaders who organized the parade and failed to condemn such actions.
On July 7, Hazteoir.org brought a complaint before Spain’s Attorney General supported by photographs and videos of the parade. The complaint was accepted and is under consideration by Justice officials in Madrid.
Hazteoir.org says the lawsuit is based on statutes in the Penal Code that criminalize “provocation of discrimination, hatred and violence against religious beliefs.” After reviewing the case, officials will decide whether or not to bring charges against the organizers of the parade.