Archive of August 5, 2005

Pope visits brother in hospital

Rome, Italy, Aug 5, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI traveled by helicopter from his summer residence in Castelgandolfo Friday to visit his brother Georg, who is hospitalized at the Gemelli Clinic in Rome.

“My brother is well, thank you,” the Pontiff said after visiting with 81-year old Father Georg, who underwent an emergency operation on Thursday to receive a pacemaker.

The Pontiff was received by hospital director, Dr. Cesare Catananti, and he affectionately greeted a number of other patients interned at Rome’s most important hospital.

Benedict XVI stopped to pray at the hospital’s small chapel before heading up to the tenth floor, where his brother Georg is recovering.  After spending thirty minutes with him, the Pope returned to Castelgandolfo.

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USCCB urges Supreme Court to uphold parental notification law in New Hampshire

Manchester, United Kingdom, Aug 5, 2005 (CNA) - In a friend of the court brief, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the bishop of Manchester, New Hampshire, urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold New Hampshire’s parental notification law.

The case, Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, arose when lower courts overturned the New Hampshire statute because it did not contain a “health exception.”

The brief described the decision by the First Circuit as a “throwback” to an earlier time before the Supreme Court acknowledged in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) that it had gone “too far” in striking down reasonable restrictions on abortion.

“Applying Casey and other precedent, this Court should reject the attempt to portray parental notice laws as creating a conflict between the rights of parents and the interests of their children,” reads the amicus brief, filed Aug. 4.

The parental notification law sought to advance the constitutionally protected responsibility of parents to be the guardians of their children’s health, says the brief.

It notes that the Supreme Court upheld a Minnesota parental notice law against constitutional challenge despite the absence of a “health” exception in Hodgson v. Minnesota, (1990).

“It would be a grave mistake to divest parents of meaningful input into the health care of their own dependent children,” the brief states. “The First Circuit’s decision falsely assumes a conflict between the right and responsibility of parents to care for their children, on the one hand, and the best interests of their children, on the other. In every other context, the law assumes that parents are the natural guardians of their children’s health and best interests. It should be no different here.”

The brief asserts that requiring a health exception in this case is unnecessary since the New Hampshire statute allows minors to bypass their parents through 24-hour access to the state courts. It would also undermine the whole point of the notification requirement.

A health exception would be subject to abuse, the brief said, because it would make an abortion practitioner with a financial interest in performing an abortion the custodian, in place of the parents, of a pregnant teen’s interests.

The brief was prepared by Mark E. Chopko, General Counsel, and Michael F. Moses, Associate General Counsel.

For the full brief, go to:

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Knights say will never consider Roe v. Wade settled constitutional law

New Haven, Conn., Aug 5, 2005 (CNA) - The largest international lay Catholic organization, the Knights of Columbus, has adopted two resolutions that affirm Roe v. Wade as bad constitutional law and that call for fair hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of John Roberts.

The first resolution states that the Knights “will never consider Roe v. Wade to be settled constitutional law.”

It recalls that the 1973 decision "was accurately described by Justice Byron White as an exercise of 'raw judicial power.'" Legal scholars, as well, have said the decision was based on "multiple and profound misapprehensions of law and history” and it is "bad constitutional law," the resolution points out.

It also "condemn[s] any use of a pro-Roe litmus test by members of the U.S. Senate when considering nominees for the federal courts, especially the Supreme Court.”

It calls on Catholic senators to “cease and desist from opposing, directly or indirectly, the teaching of the Catholic Church on the inviolability of innocent human life."

The Knights’ second resolution urges the U.S. Senate to “conduct prompt, fair and expeditious hearings” on the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, "to consider his nomination without delay or filibuster, and to allow him an up-or-down vote on his confirmation."

All U.S. Knights are urged to contact their senators asking them to support an up-or-down vote.

It also states that the Knights of Columbus "strongly condemn[s] any effort to block or impede his confirmation based upon his position on whether Roe v. Wade should be reconsidered."

During his annual address Tuesday, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said that in Roe v. Wade, "the Supreme Court created out of whole cloth a 'right' to extinguish the life of an innocent unborn child. And in the process, it seized for itself a power that no one has a right to exercise."

The Knights adopted these resolutions yesterday at their 123rd annual convention.

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Ten U.S. bishops to give catechesis at WYD

Washington D.C., Aug 5, 2005 (CNA) - Ten U.S. bishops have been scheduled to give catechetical sessions to young pilgrims at World Youth Day in Cologne in mid-August.

They include: Cardinal Francis George of Chicago; Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, of Washington; Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee, Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia for Ukrainians; Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio; Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, South Dakota; Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York; and Auxiliary Bishop Jaime Soto of Orange, California.

Cardinal Francis Stafford, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary and former head of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, will also give a catechesis.

The catechetical sessions are arranged by language groups and can vary in size from a few hundred to over 15,000 participants. They will take place in various venues in the cities of Dusseldorf, Cologne and Bonn. The sessions include a teaching by the bishop, interaction between the bishop and the youth, music and liturgy.

Among those scheduled to address groups from the United States are Cardinal George Pell (Australia), Cardinal Francis Arinze (Vatican), Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, OFM (South Africa), and Bishop Terrence Prendergast, SJ (Canada).

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Iraq’s draft constitution borders on sharia rule, debate needed, says expert

Washington D.C., Aug 5, 2005 (CNA) - An open debate among Americans and Iraqis about Islamic sharia law is critically needed as Iraq prepares to finalize its constitution, which points to the creation of a state governed by sharia, says religious freedom expert Nina Shea.

The draft constitution is expected to be completed next week and be put to a referendum in three months.

“This plan for the radical transformation of Iraq has been introduced into the draft, without public debate or a legislative mandate,” said the director of Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom. “Terrorist violence and neighborhood-based Shiite vigilantism have also worked to mute a public critique of sharia rule.”

Shea is also a member of the USAID-funded International Advisory Group to assist the Iraqi Constitutional Committee. She says the debate should be a priority for Americans and for Iraqis, who like most Muslims have not lived under sharia and may not understand its implications.

According to Shea, Iraq’s draft constitution:

  • stipulates that "sharia is the main source of law"
  • includes a "repugnancy clause" that states no law can contradict Islam
  • limits freedom of speech, religion and association with the phrase "in accordance with the law," which Shea says can be interpreted as sharia
  • states that women’s equality must not violate sharia law
  • jeopardizes a woman’s ability to defend herself in court, since extreme sharia states give less weight to women's testimony, as well as her rights regarding marriage, inheritance and child custody
  • fails to formulate religious freedom as a right of the individual. 

She pointed out that the draft does not specify who will interpret sharia, “leaving the door wide open for unelected clerics or other Islamic experts to supplant the legislature and exercise unbridled power to veto and even make laws.”

“Iraq's current Transitional Administrative Law banned detentions for ‘political or religious beliefs,’ but that provision has now been dropped,” said Shea, who also serves as vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

She warned that in extreme sharia states, religious minorities, including Muslim minorities, are treated as a danger to society.

The draft's failure to formulate religious freedom as a right of the individual will likely reinforce prosecutions for blasphemy and remove Iraqi women’s right to “opt out of religious control,” she added.

“Extreme sharia states tend to foster anti-Americanism… [and] requires an official posture of hostility toward the West,” Shea said.

“No American blood should be spilt for the creation of a sharia rule state,” she concluded.

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Lutheran church debates dropping ban on openly homosexual clergy

, Aug 5, 2005 (CNA) - The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the latest Christian denomination to enter the debate over whether or not to allow openly homosexual clergy.

Church leaders will gather in Orlando, Florida next week for their General Assembly where they will decide whether to allow exceptions for the ordination of certain actively-homosexual clergy, discuss a new policy for the pastoral care of homosexuals, and vote on a recommendation for unity in the church despite different biblical interpretations regarding homosexuality.

Dr. Roy Harrisville however, head of the group, Solid Rock Lutherans, is skeptical.

He thinks that the new exceptions to previous church policy and Bible teaching is “a recipe for disunity, not for unity…[I]f the church is seeking to find some ground on which to stand with unity, that's not going to be it."

Dr. Harrisville thinks that the church’s attention should be focused less on the approval of gay clergy and more on things like its "Renewing Worship" program, which includes new hymnals, worship styles, prayers, and services.

"As the church prays, so it believes. And the way we worship, of course, always determines the character of the church," he says. "Unfortunately, however, we have talked very little about this new hymnal and these new services."

The ELCA joins the debate which surrounds many mainstream protestant denominations regarding the ordination of openly gay clergy. The most prominent is the Episcopal church, which ordained its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson in 2003 and is still reeling from criticism and continued internal strife.

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Missionary children ready to evangelize Cuba

Havana, Cuba, Aug 5, 2005 (CNA) - More than 370 children and teenagers attended the II National Congress of Missionary Children, which took place July 29-31 in the eastern Cuban city of Camagüey.  The event began with a procession in which participants received a large pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Charity, the patroness of Cuba.

Organized by the National Director of the Pontifical Missionary Works in Cuba, Father Raul Rodriguez Dago, and the National Secretary for Missionary Children, Enrique Cabrera Napoles, the gathering offered participants the opportunity to reflect on such questions as, why they are missionaries and what their role is in the strengthening of missionary work.  It was also an invitation to discover more deeply the call of Jesus and to involve other children in missionary activity.

Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, Archbishop of Havana and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Cuba, sent a message to the Congress inviting the young participants to persevere in their missionary work, “whether with older people or with the youth,” and he reminded them that “the first area of work for you is with the children of your own age with whom you share school, play and festivities.  They are the ones you should invite first to know Jesus.  You are called to say to them: ‘Come and see that the Lord is good.’  May every one of the Missionary Children be an apostle to other children.”

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Chilean diocese denounces massive government plan to distribute condoms

Santiago, Chile, Aug 5, 2005 (CNA) - The Diocese of San Bernardo in Chile is denouncing a government plan to promote the use of condoms, saying the plan goes against the common good and a healthy understanding of sexuality among young people.

In a statement, the Chilean diocese noted that the government’s determination to go ahead with the plan demonstrates its inability to address the delicate issues related to the formation of young people based on rigorous scientific and moral criteria.

“The authorities know that condoms are not the answer to possibly contracting AIDS” or any other sexually transmitted disease, affirms the statement.  Similarly, it adds, they do not prevent the problem of so-called unwanted pregnancies, as condoms have a failure rate of “between 15% and 36%.”

The diocese is calling on Catholics to openly reject the government plan “and demand that authorities come up with true solutions to the problems that are affecting our young people and so many others.”

“The Christian conscience of our society must be able to see in these campaigns an evident attempt to undermine the most essential fundamentals of human sexuality and the family,” the statement reads.

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Bishop calls for greater implementation of Church’s social teachings in Latin America

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 5, 2005 (CNA) - During the presentation of the Compendium of Social Teachings of the Church at the Catholic University of Argentina (CUA), the President of the Bishops’ Committee on Social Ministry, Bishop Carmelo Giaquinta, called for greater study and implementation of the social teachings of the Church in Argentina and Latin America.

Bishop Giaquinta emphasized the importance and usefulness of these teachings for achieving a just and peaceful social order in the Latin American nations that goes hand in hand with true human progress.

During the ceremony an agreement between the CUA and the Pontifical Lateran University was also signed for the joint development of a Masters in the Social Teachings of the Church.  The President of the Redemptor Hominis Pastoral Institute of the Lateran University, Father Denis Biju-Duval, said the Compendium is an updated synthesis of the Church’s social teachings, in which the teachings of the Vatican Council and of John Paul II shine forth.

He also called the text “an especially valuable instrument” that the laity can use to “gage the ecclesial nature of their social commitments.”  The Compendium, Father Biju-Duval noted, is “a true source of inspiration for giveing ever-new answers to the challenges of the times, in complete communion with the entire Church.”

The 570-page volume was published by the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina with the economic assistance of the German bishops.

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Bishops reject violent protests in northern Peru

Lima, Peru, Aug 5, 2005 (CNA) - The President of the Bishops’ Conference of Peru, Bishop Hugo Garaycoa said this week the bishops in the northern provinces of Ayabaca, Huancabamba, San Ignacio and Jaen have not encouraged the violent protests between police and citizens which have left one dead and dozens injured.

According to a statement signed by Bishop Garaycoa, “the presence of the Bishops in that place and in the midst of this difficult situation does not reflect any kind of political interests but rather an interest in encouraging peace and dialogue, in order to attain, with clarity, paths towards a solution in a context in which unfortunately some parties have entrenched positions and are unwilling to reach a necessary and urgent consensus.”

“Both Bishop Daniel Turley of Chulucanas and Msgr. Francisco Muguiro, Apostolic Vicar of Jaen, are aware that their mission as shepherds of the Church in this region is to promote respect for life and social harmony.  In no way have they contributed to the fostering of the conflict or the violence. On the contrary, from the beginning they have said that the solution to this problem should be peaceful and should be attained through sincere dialogue,” Bishop Garaycoa said.

“In the name of the Bishops of this region and in my own, we reject all the violence that has unfortunately claimed the life of one person here.  We also reject the attacks in San Ignacio against the Vice Minister of Energy and Mining, but it should be clarified that this violent act was carried out by an intransigent party that has turned its back on dialogue,” he stated.

“The Church in this region of Peru is concerned about adequate attention for those wounded and about those who have been detained,” said Bishop Garaycoa.  “We must be hopeful in the midst of this difficult situation in order to attain justice and peace, and therefore we should have confidence in dialogue and we should seek above all a peaceful and efficacious solution” to this crisis.

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