Archive of August 3, 2005

Parental rights overwhelmingly supported in California

Sacramento, Calif., Aug 3, 2005 (CNA) - After a recent poll indicated that 85 percent of Scotts Valley residents support parental rights in education, the Capitol Resource Institute says the local school district should change its policy and require that parents be notified when their minor children leave school grounds for confidential medical services.

"State law permits school districts, as a matter of local control, to choose to notify parents when minor children wish to leave for confidential medical services or not to notify them," explained Amy Koons, an attorney with Capitol Resource Institute.

"We believe that the Scotts Valley Unified School Board should respect the values and opinions of their constituents and notify parents," said Koons.

More Scotts Valley residents were concerned about children leaving school grounds without parental knowledge than any other issue, including illegal immigrants obtaining driver's licenses, gay marriage, and increased taxation.

"Parents, whatever their position is on abortion, psychotropic drugs, etc., want to be involved in helping their children make medical decisions," said Karen England of the institute. "Parents do not want the public schools to help their children keep secrets from them."

The Scotts Valley Unified School District is expected to meet Aug. 9 to decide whether or not to overturn a district policy mandating that parents be notified whenever minor children leave campus for confidential medical services.

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God defends those who trust in him, says Pope Benedict

Vatican City, Aug 3, 2005 (CNA) - The Lord gives all those who trust and believe in him confidence and encouragement, even when they are faced with life’s difficulties or their own inner burdens of discouragement, mediocrity and fatigue, said Pope Benedict XVI.

The Pope, returning from his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, commented on Psalm 124 during his catechism and general audience this morning in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican.

“Psalm 124, one of the ‘gradual psalms’ traditionally recited during the pilgrimage to Mount Sion, proclaims that all who put their trust in the Lord stand solid and unshakeable,” the Pope said.

“As Jerusalem is protected from its enemies by the mountains that surround her, so the Lord’s faithful are defended from all danger by his presence,” he continued.

Even when a believer feels isolated and surrounded by danger and hostility, his faith must be serene.

“As believers, we may experience external difficulties and the inner burden of our own discouragement, mediocrity and fatigue, but the Lord, the just judge, gives us confidence and encouragement,” he said.

In this atmosphere of radical trust, the Psalmist reassures ‘the just’. Their situation may be worrisome or they may be tempted to participate in evil to avoid some inconvenience, but the Lord protects them from oppression, the Pope continued.

“The Psalm therefore infuses the soul with a profound trust”, which enables the believer to confront difficult situations, he added.

“With the Psalmist who contemplates the city of Jerusalem, the symbol of God’s peace, we trust in our loving Father, who leads us to that peace promised in Christ to God’s faithful people.”

The Pope welcomed pilgrims, in particular, a group of priests from China. He also greeted groups from Hong Kong, Ireland, the Philippines, Australia and the United States.

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Influential evangelist: U2’s Bono makes strong statement in support of Christ

, Aug 3, 2005 (CNA) - For years, the exact nature of the religious beliefs of Bono, lead singer songwriter of the band U2, have eluded fans and music experts. But now, in an interview published in the new book Bono in Conversation by Michka Assayas, the Irish superstar makes some very strong statements about Christ, grace and the nature of salvation.

Although the Irish-born mega star professes to be a Christian, and although many of his song lyrics reflect it, some say Bono’s actions, “rock star antics” and various statements contradict this.

The interview however, throws some new light onto the faith of a musician who grew up watching first hand the bloody battle between Catholics and Protestants which wracked northern Ireland for years. Bono grew up in Dublin with a Protestant mother and a Catholic father.

Perhaps in light of this, Assayas asks Bono if he thinks “appalling things” happen when people become religious. The singer responds by showing the deep personal relationship the Christian faith calls believers to with God, rather than the violent extremism the interviewer seems to be prodding to.

At one key point in the interview, Bono talks about the difference between Karma and Grace, a difference which he says, is a “mind blowing concept…that keeps me on my knees.”

“At the center of all religions” Bono tells his skeptical interviewer, “is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one."

"And yet,” he says, “along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that. . . . Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff."

Unwilling to divulge the “stuff” in question, Bono admits “I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge…It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity."

Later in the interview, the musician seems to take a page from C.S. Lewis, the famous British author and theologian, who wrote the famous “Lord, liar, or lunatic” discourse. He says, “Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: He was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius.”

“But actually”, he says, “Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook.”

“Christ says, No,” Bono continues. “I'm not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher. I'm not saying I'm a prophet. I'm saying: 'I'm the Messiah.' I'm saying: 'I am God incarnate.' . . . So what you're left with is either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase. . . . The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me that's farfetched."

Recently, just after the death of Pope John Paul II, the singer hung what has now become the tell-tale rosary which hangs around his neck--a gift from the late Pontiff, from his microphone during a concert, in a silent tribute to the great Pope.

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New movie on John Paul II to debut in US

Washington D.C., Aug 3, 2005 (CNA) - On August 15 the Hallmark Channel will debut a new Italian movie called, “Karol: The Story of a Man Who Became Pope,” which Pope John Paul II was able to view himself before he died.

The movie, to be aired during primetime at 8pm (Eastern), is four hours long and is divided into two parts.  Based on the book, “Stories of Karol: The Unknown Life of John Paul II,” by Gianfranco Svidercoschi, the film was shot at the Vatican and Krakow and narrates the life of the Holy Father from his involvement in the arts as a youth to his response to a priestly vocation, all the way to his election to the chair of Peter.

On June 12, Pope Benedict XVI issued a statement with his reaction to the movie.  “The film presents scenes and episodes that, in their severity, awaken in the viewers an instinctive ‘turning away’ in horror and stimulates them to consider the abyss of iniquity that can be hidden in the human soul,” he said.

“At the same time, calling to the fore such aberrations revives in every right-minded person the duty to do what he or she can so that such inhuman barbarism never happens again…I…express living gratitude to those who wanted to offer me…the opportunity to view this moving film.”

Vatican press spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said Pope John Paul II had seen the film in its entirety in a private viewing before his death and was “very impressed” with the portrayal and “appreciated the many scenes” from that period in his life.

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Bush says intelligent design theory ought to be taught along side evolution

Washington D.C., Aug 3, 2005 (CNA) - While President George Bush’s remarks Monday that the theory of intelligent design ought to be taught along side of evolution in America’s schools has angered some, others applauded the remarks, which call for a “fair debate.”

In the president’s statement, made to members of the Texas media, he says that "Both sides ought to be properly taught so people can understand what the debate is about.”

According to an official transcript of the interview session, Bush added: "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . . You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

John G. West of Seattle’s Discovery Institute, said in a statement that President Bush is to be commended for defending free speech on evolution, and supporting the right of students to hear about different scientific views about evolution."

The president’s remarks come less than two months after Austrian Cardinal Christof Schonborn, in a New York Times editorial, clarified the Church’s position on evolution saying that “neo-Darwinian”, evolution, or the idea that there is no intelligent design behind creation, is incompatible with the Catholic Church and in conflict with nature itself.

“Evolution”, he said, “in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.”

A national debate currently wages over whether or not clarifications and alternatives should be added to the overwhelmingly taught theory of evolution curriculum in public schools in the U.S. One school district in Pennsylvania is fighting to allow stickers an biology textbooks clarifying that the theory of evolution is not proven fact--but a theory. A lawsuit involving the ACLU is currently being pursued to disallow the stickers.

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Plenary Council of Venezuela expresses “complete solidarity” with Cardinal Castillo Lara

Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 3, 2005 (CNA) - The bishops of Venezuela gathered in a Plenary Council issued a statement Monday expressing their “complete and absolute solidarity with Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara,” one the harshest critics of President Hugo Chavez who has been the target of his verbal attacks.

In the statement, the bishops signaled their support for the cardinal “in response to the attacks against him, which have troubled not only the members of the Church, but the entire Venezuelan people.”

The bishops also rejected the attempts to discredit and mistreat those who express opposing views in political matters, saying “all persons and institutions have the right to believe according to their own convictions; such a right must be maintained and respected in any democratic society.”

They also acknowledged the difficult period which the country is facing, and they encouraged Cardinal Castillo to continue “carrying out his mission of proclaiming the beatitudes and denouncing everything that harms fraternity, coexistence, freedom, justice and peace.”

According to the president of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Baltazar Porras, the recent statements by Cardinal Castillo “were in support of what the Bishops’ Conference itself said in its last document, which praised some of the government’s achievements but criticized some of its failures.”

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Archdiocese denounces artificial insemination for homosexuals

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 3, 2005 (CNA) - The controversial case of an Argentinean lesbian couple attempting to undergo artificial insemination in order to have a child has led the Archdiocese of Cordoba to make a public statement on the nature of motherhood.

In an interview with the Argentinean daily La Mañana, the spokesman for the archdiocese, Father Pedro Torres, recalled that “motherhood is not a right,” since “one cannot consider a child as a possession or a thing.”

“The natural environment in which children are born is marriage.  Insemination as a scientific intervention cannot be a substitute for sexuality in marriage,” he explained, adding that “medicine exists in order to provide solutions, but not for replacing or manipulating that which is natural.”

Father Torres also said the issues of “a minority” should not be used to hide other “true” problems, such as the needs of the poor or security issues.

“Not everything that is technically or scientifically possible is ethically acceptable,” he noted.  “The ethical limits of science need to be discerned; it should not be used simply to satisfy whims.”

Although there is a legal vacuum in Argentina with regards to artificial insemination among homosexuals, Father Torres recalled that “procreation is participation in the creative work of God, with responsibilities and conditions. A child ought to have a father, a mother and a place of love.”

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Government commission recommends legalization of abortion in Brazil

, Aug 3, 2005 (CNA) - A government commission established to study the question of abortion in Brazil has made its official recommendation that the practice be legalized.  Members of the commission met on Monday to hammer out the final details of a proposed law which was sent yesterday to the Special Secretary for Policies for Women, Nilcea Freire.

A radical feminist, Freire is renowned in Brazil for her efforts to legalize abortion and the morning-after pill through reinterpretation or modification of existing laws.  

At the conclusion of Monday’s meeting, she stated approval of the commission’s proposal would be one of the priorities for feminist groups in the country.

Congresswoman Jandira Feghali, a supporter of the measure and member of the Communist Party of Brazil, said the approval of the proposal “would not be easy.”  “The different social movements need to move quickly in order for the proposal to be considered this year.  If it is postponed until 2006, which is an election year, the chances of it being approved will be even less.”

Brazil’s Health Minister, Saraiva Felipe, said if the proposal is approved by Congress, he would not put any obstacles in the way of its application, but in no way would he work for its approval.

On the other hand, pro-life Congresswoman Angela Guadagnin expressed disappointment at the commission’s conclusions.  “Such conclusions by the commission were to be expected since most of the members were in favor of the legalization of abortion.  They certainly do not represent the will or the desire of society.” 

At the same time, she said, the commission’s final report will have little importance.  “As opposed to what happened with the Commission, the situation in Congress will be different.  In fact, there is a sharp divide over this issue and the proposal will not go forward,” she predicted.

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"Miracle baby" born, Torres family says "life is a gift from God"

Arlington, Va., Aug 3, 2005 (CNA) - Susan Torres, a brain-dead woman who was kept alive for almost three months to give her unborn baby time to develop has given birth to a girl two months premature.

The baby is being monitored at the neo-natal intensive care unit at a hospital in Arlington, Virginia.

Torres, a devout Catholic, suffered a stroke on 7 May after an undiagnosed cancer spread to her brain. Doctors said she was brain dead but they offered to keep her alive for the sake of the baby.

She was four months pregnant with her second child. The baby, Susan Anne Catherine Torres, was delivered by Caesarean section at a Virginia hospital on Tuesday and weighed 800g (1lb, 13oz).

On Wednesday, the Torres family released a statement saying that "earlier this morning, after a brief goodbye with her husband, parents, and other family members, and after receiving the last sacraments of the Catholic Church, Susan Michelle Rollin Torres passed away after the machines, which sustained her life for the past 12 weeks. She was 26 years old."
"This is obviously a bittersweet time for our family," says the statement. "We are overjoyed at the birth of Baby Susan and deeply grieved at the loss of her mother. From the beginning, we knew that two things would get us through to the baby's birth: God's providence and Susan's determination. Susan was always the toughest person in that ICU room. Her passing is a testament to the truth that human life is a gift from God and that children are always to be fought for, even if life requires-as it did of Susan-the last full measure of devotion.
The family especially gave thanks "the many thousands of people who have taken this story to heart, donated to the Susan M. Torres Fund, and most especially, sent us their prayers and best wishes. This family has literally been lifted up in prayer, and I can never express adequately our gratitude for the prayers and support we have received from people all over the globe."

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US has new Vatican ambassador

Washington D.C., Aug 3, 2005 (CNA) - President George Bush has nominated Florida businessman Laurence Francis Rooney to be the new ambassador to the Vatican, replacing Jim Nicholson.

The chairman and chief executive officer of Rooney Holdings Inc., must now be confirmed by the Senate.

The Associated Press reported that Rooney was a major fundraiser for Bush, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars for his two presidential campaigns. He also contributed $250,000 to help underwrite the 2004 inauguration.

Based in Naples, Fla., Rooney Holdings is an investment company that deals with construction and the distribution of building materials.

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US youth join in social action projects before WYD

Washington D.C., Aug 3, 2005 (CNA) - More than 2,700 American youth, representing 125 college, diocesan and parish groups, will roll up their sleeves and dedicate one day to social action projects in Germany during their pilgrimage to Cologne for World Youth Day (WYD).

These pilgrims will work on social action projects with other young people from about 20 German dioceses during the Days of Encounter, a pre-WYD program, Aug. 8-15.

The Days of Encounter provide an opportunity for pilgrims and their hosts to get to know one another and share their faith. But a day of social action is planned Aug. 12, called Under Construction: Help Build a World in Justice.

Both German and international youth will participate in projects that include: excursions with people with disabilities, organizing a soccer tournament with young asylum seekers, gardening for welfare institutions, making wooden toys with children, singing at senior citizens residences, creating a trout hatchery, and putting on sketches about peace and justice.

The U.S. youth participating in the Days of Encounter hail from three Jesuit-sponsored universities — Regis University in Denver, Georgetown University in Washington, and Loyola-Marymount University in Los Angeles — as well as the University of St. Thomas in Texas.

Other pilgrims taking part in this program come from the archdioceses of Miami, St. Louis, San Antonio and Seattle; and the dioceses of Burlington, Cheyenne, Forth Worth, Lansing, Lincoln, San Jose, Springfield, and Syracuse.

In total, about 24,000 U.S. youth and 72 bishops plan to attend the WYD event, Aug. 16-21, in Cologne.

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