Archive of January 10, 2006

Reduce demand for arms by analyzing need, promoting peace, says Vatican rep. to U.N.

, Jan 10, 2006 (CNA) - In an address yesterday to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent U.N. observer for the Holy See, called on the world body to more thoroughly analyze the reasons behind demand for small arms, so as to eradicate their illicit trade.

Archbishop Migliore’s address was given in New York to the "Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in All Its Aspects."

The Archbishop began by saying that the upcoming conference is likely to be the most important such meeting to take place since the U.N.‘s 2001 adoption of the "Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate Illicit Trade in SALW in All its Aspects” itself.

He pointed out that the program is "having important repercussions on the promotion of disarmament, peace and post-conflict reconstruction, the fight against terrorism and large- and small-scale organized crime."

"The 2006 conference”, he opined, “should agree to establish major international cooperative programs and mechanisms to promote key parts of the Program of Action, which may include stockpile management and security, weapons and ammunitions collection and their safe and secure destruction, and national controls on SALW production and transfers.”

Because of the potential success of the gathering, Archbishop Migliore suggested that the U.N. “start a serious reflection on the possibility of negotiating a legally binding instrument on international arms trade ... based on the more important principles of international law."

"The 2006 review conference”, he said, “could take useful steps to promote effective engagement on SALW, ... by launching a process enabling interested States and relevant organizations to flesh out principles, policies and programs that address the links between efforts to prevent and reduce SALW trafficking, proliferation and misuse.”

The Archbishop lamented that this process has too often “focused its attention on the supply side of arms sale.”

“However,” he said, “if we consider both the humanitarian costs of SALW and the profound connection between them, and the process of human and sustainable development, then it becomes clear that greater attention now needs to be paid to reducing the demand for SALW.”

He said that drastically reducing the demand for small arms “requires not only political will but better focused research into the dynamics of conflicts, crimes and violence.”

“This obliges us to act responsibly to promote a real culture of peace and life among all members of society,” he told the group.

The Vatican observer closed his address by stressing what he called the “urgent need” for "adequate international norms and programs to address the question of demand…as well as the implementation of educational and awareness activities through, among other things, the involvement of civil society."

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Abortion takes top billing at Alito hearings

Washington D.C., Jan 10, 2006 (CNA) - As senate confirmation hearings for would-be Supreme Court Justice Judge Samuel Alito enter their second day, senators--particularly those on the left--have made it clear that abortion will be one of the judge’s most aggressively pressed issues.

While the battle seems clearly split down party lines, watchers on both sides of the debate admit that the abortion issue will likely pervade the entire confirmation process.

In his opening statements, Alito steered clear of controversial issues and said that a judge’s only obligation "is to the rule of law. And what that means is that in every single case, the judge has to do what the law requires."

He said that as a federal appellate judge, "I swore that I would administer justice without respect to persons, that I would do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I would carry out my duties under the Constitution and the laws of the United States."

He added that “if I am confirmed, I pledge to you that that is what I would do on the Supreme Court."

Despite the conciliatory tone however, and the highest recommendation of the American Bar Association, many Senate democrats seemed unconvinced that Alito’s Reagan influence and Catholic faith would not prevail in his opinions.
Recently, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer warned senators that attacking Alito on the grounds of his Catholic faith would “only succeed in further aliening Roman Catholics who increasingly feel not wanted in a Democrat Party that seems to stand for nothing but abortion on demand.”

He cited what he called an “unrelenting campaign waged by many Senate Democrats, some who claim to be Catholics themselves, against Catholic judicial nominees who embrace and practice their Catholic faith…”

He said that the act “is disgraceful at best and at worst is a blatant form of religious bigotry reminiscent of a less civil period of history.”

Following yesterday’s opening statements, some, like Republican Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter feared that decisions--on both sides of the aisle--had already been made even before the first question was asked.

According to the Associated Press, he said that, "That applies to a few of the senators on my side of the aisle, but many more among the Democrats."

The senators made it particularly clear that Alito would be aggressively questioned on the issue of abortion and the so-called right to choose in the coming days and weeks.

Judge Alito was named prior to Thanksgiving as President Bush’s choice to replace outgoing Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

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Fidelis launches animated ad for Alito hearings

Washington D.C., Jan 10, 2006 (CNA) - A Catholic advocacy group, called Fidelis, launched an Internet-based animated advertising campaign Jan. 9 to coincide with the confirmation hearings of Judge Samuel Alito.

The ad is designed to illustrate the heavy influence of left-wing groups over Senators on the Judiciary Committee, and shows how the agenda championed by these groups will likely dictate much of the attacks on Alito during his confirmation hearings.

Fidelis president Joseph Cella said: "I think it's important to show how many of the Senators that attack Judge Alito are working hand in glove with the leadership of far left-wing groups that have a policy agenda to protect. Rather than a real debate about the proper role of a judge, the law and the Constitution, Senators and many left-wing groups declare Alito unfit because he refuses to commit to enacting their policy preferences from the bench."

The ad is a parody of The Sound of Music's "The Lonely Goatherd" by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

To see the ad, go to:

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Montana Bishop: Catholic priesthood stands in marked contrast with secular success symbols

Helena, Mont., Jan 10, 2006 (CNA) - Speaking last month on the occasion of the first priestly ordination in his diocese since becoming its head in 2004, Helena Bishop George Thomas called the Catholic priesthood a marked sign of contrast to the values of secular culture.

The bishop’s comments come as the priesthood faces profound challenges because of recent sexual abuse scandals, controversy over homosexuals in seminaries and heightened secular scrutiny.

Overall though, Bishop Thomas said that “Eric [the new priest] is being ordained in a day and age when science and technology are king, and an understanding of priesthood eludes glib sound-byte descriptors.”

“He is being called to Holy Orders at a time when degrees, pedigrees and status symbols are often the measure of the man. The Catholic priesthood stands in marked contrast to these secular symbols of success.”

He went on to explain that “The identity of the Catholic priesthood is rooted in an other-worldly vision, a vision entirely unknowable, except as it has been revealed in Jesus Christ.”

“The whole Christian life”, he said, “is a communion with each of the Divine Persons, and [priests are] called, consecrated and sent to lead others into this great Mystery of Faith.”

Bishop Thomas stressed that “a priest must maintain an active and vibrant life of prayer so that he can keep his true identity ever in focus.”

He also cited the late Pope John Paul II, who, in a meditation on the priesthood wrote that, “The proclaimed truth must be discovered and adopted in the intimacy of prayer and meditation.”

“This”, the bishop added, “is why St. Paul wrote to Timothy, ‘I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands,’ (2 Tim 1: 6) referring to the laying of the bishop’s hands on the head of a candidate during ordination.

Eric Gilbaugh’s ordination took place on December 9th at the Cathedral of St. Helena.

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Bishop calls for classes in method of birth control

Phoenix, Ariz., Jan 10, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix is now the third U.S. bishop to require a full course of natural family planning for couples who want to marry in a Catholic church. The other dioceses are Denver and Fargo. Most other dioceses only require an introduction to the method.

In a series of articles, Bishop Olmsted said artificial birth control is a grave wrong that is at the root of many of the problems afflicting American society, reported the Arizona Republic. He said: "marriage itself is gravely harmed" when a couple uses birth control, and that marital infidelity increases. He added: "The use of contraceptives is always morally evil, and many of them have harmful side effects as well."

Peggy Frei, who heads the Natural Family Planning Center of the Diocese of Phoenix, told the Arizona Republic that there are no statistics on how many people use natural family planning, but her office taught the full course to 422 people in 2004 and 2,469 individuals took the introductory class.

Once the full-course requirement is in place, it will teach about 2,000 couples a year, the average number of marriages conducted in the diocese since it was founded in 1969.

The American Academy of Family Physicians says that when couples are diligent, natural family planning is 90 to 98 percent effective.

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Mexican cardinal criticized xenophobic attitude of US against immigrants

Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 10, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, criticized what he termed the “xenophobic attitude” of the United States as news that construction of a 559-mile fence along the US-Mexican border to keep illegal immigrants out is moving ahead.

After celebrating Mass at the archdiocesan cathedral, the cardinal said such expressions of xenophobia were beneath the United States and any other country in the Americas.

“Mexican immigration to the US is due to the lack of well-paid jobs in this country, and not only does the Mexican government bear responsibility for this; so also do businesses,” he said.  “Political corruption” has become one of the main factors behind immigration, Cardinal Rivera continued, although such a problem “didn’t just pop up yesterday; it has been with mankind from the beginning.”

He added that he believes the United States “has the right to protect its borders, but when this is set against the fundamental right that every human being has to seek out dignified employment, there must be dialogue.”  The cardinal noted he had no intention of contacting the presidential candidates of the upcoming national elections in Mexico about the matter, but he did say he would ask the next Mexican president to address the issue.

The Archdiocese of Mexico’s newspaper, Desde la Fe, called effort to build the fence an “absurd anti-immigrant measure” and said the US was “myopic” in not recognizing “the need for the cheap labor that our fellow countrymen provide and that constitutes a foundation that enables a portion of the economy to thrive.”

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Former secretary of John Paul II accepting of decision to free Mehmet Ali Agca

Krakow, Poland, Jan 10, 2006 (CNA) - The late Pope John Paul II’s personal secretary, Archbishop Stansilaw Dziwisz of Krakow, said this week he accepts the decision by the Turkish courts to release from prison Ali Agca, the man who attempted to assassinate John Paul in 1981.

According to the Associated Press, a Turkish court has decided to grant conditional release to Agca on January 12.  The would-be assassin was extradited to Turkey in 2000 after completing a 20-year prison sentence in Italy for firing upon the Pope in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981.

Archbishop Dziwisz, who was the Pope’s personal secretary, caught John Paul II in his arms as he was struck down by Agca.  The archbishop said through his spokesman, Father Robert Necek, “John Paul II forgave Ali Agca a long time ago.  Now John Paul II prays for him in Heaven and I am praying for him too.  The decision to free him lies with the judicial system in Ankara.”

Just as John Paul II, Father Necek continued, Archbishop Dziwisz also “has forgiven him from his heart.”

It is believed that Archbishop Dziwisz saved the Pope’s life by making the decision to take the Pontiff directly to the hospital rather than waiting for an ambulance to arrive.  “His instantaneous decision was the correct one,” Father Necek stated.

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Legislature must represent plurality of Venezuela, say bishops

Caracas, Venezuela, Jan 10, 2006 (CNA) - The President of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela, Archbishop Baltazar Porras Cardozo, said this week the country ought to be governed by a pluralist government that is aware of its role in society.

During his opening remarks for the bishops’ general assembly, Archbishop Porras referred to the new National Assembly, which is dominated by 167 representatives of the ruling party, who were elected on December 4 by less than 30% of the electorate.

The makeup of the new Assembly, said the archbishop, raised questions about its ability to represent all Venezuelans.  He noted that 2006 would be a crucial year for the country, as presidential elections are scheduled to be held as well. In this sense he called for an overhaul of the country’s electoral system in order to give it more credibility and legitimacy. 

Archbishop Porras also called for discernment in the adoption of policies, as the delicate and fragile state of Venezuelan society demands that leaders seek to build “bridges that unite and that overcome fundamentalism and fanaticism.”

“The people feel disheartened and deceived by campaign promises,” the archbishop noted, and he called for “clear vision, courage, detachment, and sincere proposals” from those who seek to remain in power as well as from those who seek to attain it.

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Anglicans move ahead with proposal for female bishops, despite threats of schism

London, England, Jan 10, 2006 (CNA) - Although several Anglican communities have expressed their rejection of the proposal, a number of Anglican bishops have said they plan to go ahead with a proposal at the next General Synod to allow women to be ordained bishops.

A group of Anglican leaders opposed to the idea plan to meet at Westminster this month together with over 1000 priests, bishops and laity.  They plan to argue that sacraments administered by women or by any male priest ordained by a female bishop are not authentic.

The leaders say the issue of active homosexuals in the Anglican clergy has already caused enough tension in the communion.

According to document leaked to The Times, if the proposal is approved at the General Assembly, the first female bishops could be ordained in less than six years. 

Many Anglican leaders consider the proposal to be premature and they hope to postpone discussion of the matter for five to ten years. 

The proposal also includes the possibility of allowing a female bishop to be named Archbishop of Canterbury—the primate of the Anglican Church—or Archbishop of York. 

Women currently make up 16% of the total clergy of the Anglican Communion.

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