Archive of January 4, 2006

‘Women for Alito’ host press conference

Washington D.C., Jan 4, 2006 (CNA) - Concerned Women for America will host a press conference in support of Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito Jan. 5 at the National Press Club’s First Amendment Lounge at 10 a.m.

In a press release, the organization describes Alito as “a qualified candidate who fulfills the president’s promise of nominating a judge who will strictly interpret the Constitution and not legislate from the bench.

“Alito possesses the capability, character and commitment to the law America needs in a Supreme Court justice, and he deserves a swift and fair confirmation,” it says.

Ten women, representing eight organizations, will moderate the press conference.

The Senate Hearings for the confirmation of Judge Alito as associate judge at the United States Supreme court will start next monday, January 9.

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Experts challenge China’s children policy

Beijing, China, Jan 4, 2006 (CNA) - Some Chinese scholars and government officials have challenged China’s family planning approach, which restricts families to one child. At a recent forum on population, they recommend relaxing the policy and allowing couples to have two children.
The forum, hosted at Beijing University, came to the consensus that China should reflect on its policy scientifically and economically and seek proper resolutions to the serious gender imbalance, caused by male preference and selective abortions, and the growing aging population, reported

Currently, people above age 65 make up 7.6 percent of China's total population, and the average ratio of boys to girls is 117 to 100, exceeding the norm of 105 to 100.

Economists at the forum argued that these problems would impact long-term economic growth and cause economic and social problems.

China’s family planning policy, launched in the late 1970s, limits urban families to one child, but allows for two children in rural families if the first child is a girl. The policy does not limit the number of children in families of ethnic groups. The one-child policy has prevented an estimated 300 million births.

The reported that official statistics show that China now ranks in the low-birth-rate club with a natural population growth rate of 0.9 per 1,000.

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‘Living Catholic Faith’ Conference promises to renew, invigorate faith

Denver, Colo., Jan 4, 2006 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Denver is hosting its annual faith conference on March 17 and 18, which it says would renew and reinvigorate one’s Catholic faith.

The Living the Catholic Faith Conference features several dynamic workshops on Scripture, catechetics, liturgy, parenting, evangelizing, and challenges faced in the faithful in today's world. The Conference will be marked by the presence of Babsie Bleasdell, Dr. Philip Mango, and Denver's former Auxiliary bishop, and now Archbishop of San Antonio Jose H. Gomez, S.T.D

The conference will be held at the Adam's Mark Hotel. For more information, go to the archdiocesan Web site.


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Spanish bishop slams new film on St. Teresa of Avila

Madrid, Spain, Jan 4, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Tarazona, Spain, has issued a letter denouncing a new film on St. Teresa of Avila that portrays her as a sex symbol and is the subject of an “orchestrated media campaign” to depict the saint solely “through the prism of sex.”

Teresa, Muerte y Vida (Teresa, Death and Life) is currently being shot in Spain by director Ray Loriga and stars Paz Vega as St. Teresa.

In his letter entitled, “Poor St. Teresa,” Bishop Fernandez noted the human and spiritual transcendence of the Spanish mystic who “made history before the arrival of the feminist movement,” and he lamented the media attention being given to “the filming of a movie that presents the saint as ‘morbidly sexy’.”

“The curious thing is that the people behind these absurd ideas tend to accuse the Church of being obsessed with sex, and it turns out they are the ones who see sex everywhere, they see sex even where there is none,” Bishop Fernandez maintained.

Such individuals “are unable to grasp kindness and goodness, and instead project their own filth onto persons, realities and subjects which have nothing to do with what they are putting forward,” he continued. “They remain stuck in a sort of Freudianism—Freud himself has surpassed even his greatest followers.”

Bishop Fernandez noted that “mystical experiences are not neurotic experiences and they have nothing to do with sexual repression.”  Only through faith can one truly understand such experiences, he noted.  “A person who doesn’t have faith shouldn’t get involved with this subject matter because he or she will ruin it, and on top of everything else the person thinks he or she is creating a work of art,” the bishop added.

Spanish newspapers reported the film to be a portrayal of St. Teresa as a feminist sexual revolutionary who described her mystical experiences as “carnal orgasms.”  Bishop Fernandez responded by calling for respect for the saint.

“Respect for the truth as she explained it her life.  Respect to not damage under any pretext what are sublime experiences of God and the sacred.  Poor St. Teresa, or better yet, poor men and women who don’t know how to see anything but sex in these mystical experiences,” Bishop Fernandez stated.

He hoped that those involved in making a film about the saint would be “led to understand deeper realities that have nothing to do with sex.”

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Radio Maria played decisive role in latest elections in Poland

Warsaw, Poland, Jan 4, 2006 (CNA) - The Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza has provided extensive coverage of that country’s latest national elections and has concluded that the “real winner” is Radio Maria, which played a decisive role in the victory of Poland’s new president, Lech Kaczynski.

According to the Periodico de Cataluña, the headquarters of Radio Maria in the city of Torun sees “a constant parade of government limousines,” as well as a steady stream of visitors who come to drop off donations, pray at the chapel or browse the station’s bookstore.

Last October, shortly after his nomination as head of government, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz paid a visit to Torun to participate in one of Radio Maria’s popular programs. Marcinkiewicz is a practicing Catholic and father of five children.
On December 7, when Radio Maria celebrated its fourteenth anniversary, Poland’s Prime Minister sent several high-ranking officials to participate in the celebrations.

Radio Maria is among the most popular stations in Poland and receives a large percentage of its financing from Poles who live in other countries but support the station’s work in their homeland.

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Pope to visit nativity scene built by Rome street cleaners

Rome, Italy, Jan 4, 2006 (CNA) - Following a tradition begun by his predecessor, on January 5 Pope Benedict XVI will visit the traditional Christmas nativity scene built by the street cleaners of Rome.


On Thursday at 6pm local time, the Pope will make his way to Porta Cavallegeri, where each year the city’s street cleaners display a nativity scene. The Pope will also meet there with Rome’s mayor, Walter Veltroni.


The visit to the street cleaner’s Christmas crèche has become a tradition after John Paul II made such visits during 24 consecutive Christmases.  Pope Paul VI also visited the crèche in 1974.

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Childhood home of John Paul II up for sale

Warsaw, Poland, Jan 4, 2006 (CNA) - The Polish news agency PAP reported on Tuesday that two offers have been made to purchase the home where the late Pope John Paul II was born.  The news was revealed by the lawyer of the current owner, Miroslaw Kleber. 

Kleber said the owner of the home where John Paul was born in 1920, Ron Balamuth, is asking for $1 million for the home and that so far two offers have been made—one by a Polish company and the other by a private individual in Poland.

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Pope Benedict: True human progress leads man closer to Christ

Vatican City, Jan 4, 2006 (CNA) - In his first general audience for 2006, held today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI used the words of St. Paul to show that human history must progress toward a concrete goal: one that is grounded in Christ, the Savior.

The theme for Wednesday’s catechesis was the Christological hymn found in St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians, which expounds on Christ as the firstborn of creation, and “He who resuscitates the dead".

The Pope began saying that "the text begins with an ample formula of thanks. This helps us to create a spiritual atmosphere to live these first days of 2006 well, along with our path during the entire new year".

He said that in the hymn, praise rises to "God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ", whom the Pope called the source of salvation.

This salvation, he continued, is described negatively as "liberation from the power of the darkness", and re-proposed by St. Paul in the positive, as "participation in the destiny of the saints of light".

The Holy Father pointed out that at the hymn’s opening, "Christ is presented as the firstborn of all of creation…He is the "image of the invisible God".

In the second part of the hymn, the Pope said, "the figure of Christ the Savior within the history of salvation is dominant…the head of the body, that is to say, the Church…”

“This”, he pointed out, “is the privileged saving horizon where the liberation and the redemption, the vital communion that runs between the head and the parts of the body, that is between Christ and the Christians, is fully manifested".

Speaking off-the-cuff, Pope Benedict said that "St. Paul shows us something of great importance, history has a goal, it has a direction, history moves towards a humanity united in Christ.”

“In other words,” the Holy Father continued, “St. Paul tells us yes, there is progress in history, there is one if we strive for evolution in history, progress is everything that allows us to come closer to Christ, thus bringing us closer to a united humanity, to true humanism…”

“And behind these indications”, he stressed, “is also hidden an imperative for us, to work for progress, something we all want: all of us can work towards the closeness of men towards Christ, we can personally conform to Christ, going along the line of true progress".

Pope Benedict told his audience that "Christ is He who opens the doors to eternal life, tearing us away from the limitation of death and evil.”

Here, he said “…is that "fullness" of life and grace that is in Christ Himself, and is given and communicated to us. With this vital presence, which allows us to participate in divinity, we are transformed internally, reconciled, pacified".

The Pope then recalled the words of Saint Proclo of Constantinople, quoting: "Who redeemed us was not merely man…nor was He a God deprived of a human nature: in fact, He had a body. Had He not transformed into man, He would not have saved me. Appearing in the womb of the Virgin, He became the condemned man. There lies the tremendous exchange, He gave the spirit and took on the flesh".

Benedict concluded his first audience of the new year saying that “we are faced with the work of God, who achieved Redemption because He became man.”

“He is at the same time the Son of God, Savior, but also our brother and because of this proximity He infuses the Divine Gift in us".

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Pope grieves with victims of German ice skating rink disaster

Vatican City, Jan 4, 2006 (CNA) - The Vatican announced today that Pope Benedict has sent his personal prayers and condolences to families of the victims of a German ice skating rink accident, which occurred on January 2nd.

The roof of a skating rink in the Bavarian town of Bad Reichenhall--close to the Pope’s own birthplace--collapsed under the weight of heavy snowfall killing 13. At least 8 children are among the victims.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, sent the telegram of condolence to Germany’s Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, Archbishop of München and Freising, expressing the Holy Father’s prayers and wishes of swift recovery for the injured.

"Pope Benedict XVI”, the message said, “is remembering in his prayers the people killed in this tragic accident, especially the children, and he is asking the Lord for a speedy help and rescue of those still trapped."

The Pope himself grew up in Traunstien, some 20 miles away from 15,000-resident Bad Reichenhall.

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Bigger than Kong? Narnia tops box office charts

Hollywood, Calif., Jan 4, 2006 (CNA) - The new film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ classic “Narnia: the Lion the witch and the wardrobe” fantasy has topped box office charts both in the U.S. and internationally, recently toppling the much touted remake of ‘King Kong.’

While some had doubted that the film’s heavily Christian allegory would be able to hold up at the box office, most doubts have likely abated as Narnia overtook Kong for Hollywood’s top spot in the days since Christmas.

R. Kinsey Lowe of the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that “’King Kong’ surpassed ‘Narnia’ over the four-day Christmas weekend with a Sunday-Monday boost, but the Disney movie directed by ‘Shrek’ veteran Andrew Adamson outperformed Peter Jackson’s extravaganza on every day since then.”

Some speculate that hints of the tenuous “culture wars” are playing out in the film’s success while others simply think ‘Narnia’ appeals to a broader market.

The film website, bluntly labeled the box office battle, “Jesus versus King Kong” and said that Narnia is “now showing more places than 'Kong' and its slightly shorter running time makes it easier for theaters to fit in more showings.”

“'King Kong'“, they reported, “has the better critical consensus but not necessarily better word of mouth. Christian groups are pushing hard for their parishioners to get out and watch the loose Christ-allegory in ‘Chronicles of Narnia.‘”

Many have praised the Narnia movies, which will continue to be released over the next several years in line with Lewis’ books, as Christianity’s answer to the popular ‘Harry Potter’ series.

Likewise, the film’s success has surely been accelerated by the recent completion and huge success of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ film adaptation trilogy.

Moreover, with ‘Narnia’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ appealing to such large, mainstream audiences, experts say that the door could now be open to more directly Christian-themed films.

Whatever the exact causes, this much is clear to the film industry: monster Kong has his work cut out for him as he races the lion Aslan, Narnia’s principal hero, for success at the box office this holiday season.

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EU Committee on Human Rights Says Doctors Should be Forced to Perform Abortion

Brussels, Belgium, Jan 4, 2006 (CNA) - A European Union advisory panel, The EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights has issued a statement that threatens the rights of medical professionals to refuse to participate in abortions and other procedures that may violate their religious beliefs. The opinion states that denying access to abortion may be a violation of international human rights.

The EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights, a panel commissioned by the European Comission to review the conditions of human rights in the Union, released in the last week of December its annual 40-page  report. Each year since 2002, the network produces a report on how fundamental rights are safeguarded in practice. It may also give opinions on specific questions upon the request of the European Commission.

While the Network acknowledged the right to conscientious objection, it warned that such a right was not "unlimited." "Indeed, the right to religious conscientious objection may conflict with other rights, also recognized under international law. In such circumstances, an adequate balance must be struck between these conflicting requirements, which may not lead to one right being sacrificed to another."

The opinion declares that the "right to religious conscientious objection".."should be regulated in order to ensure that, in circumstances where abortion is legal, no woman shall be deprived from having effective access to the medical service of abortion. In the view of the Network, this implies that the State concerned must ensure, first, that an effective remedy should be open to challenge any refusal to provide abortion; second, that an obligation will be imposed on the health care practitioner exercising his or her right to religious conscientious objection to refer the woman seeking abortion to another qualified health care practitioner who will agree to perform the abortion; third, that another qualified health care practitioner will be indeed available, including in rural areas or in areas which are geographically remote from the center."

The opinion on the right to conscientious objection sheds light on a proposed treaty between the Vatican and Slovakia. The treaty would guarantee that Catholic hospitals and medical professionals would not be legally obligated to "perform artificial abortions, artificial or assisted fertilizations, experiments with or handling of human organs, human embryos or human sex cells, euthanasia, cloning, sterilizations, [and] acts connected with contraception . . ." The Network was charged with determining whether or not such an agreement would be a violation of EU law. The report recognizes that its findings are recommendations and "not binding."

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