Washington D.C., Jan 19, 2006 (CNA) - The Supreme Court’s key decision yesterday in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England overruled a lower court's attempt to nullify New Hampshire's parental notification law and introduced the possibility of limiting abortions.
The "ruling is a great victory for both the fair judicial review of pro-life laws across the nation, and for New Hampshire parents who wish to protect their daughters from the significant health risks related to abortion,” said Bioethics Defense Fund president and general counsel Nikolas T. Nikas.
Nikas participated in the legal team that prepared New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte for Supreme Court oral argument.
Niks said the decision rejects the old 'abortion-distortion' double standard, which allowed abortion proponents, such as Planned Parenthood, “to challenge and strike down the entire abortion regulation if they could come up with even one possible scenario where the law could be applied in an unconstitutional manner.”
The ruling states that “if there are both constitutional and unconstitutional applications of the law, the lower court should sever the unconstitutional application and uphold the remainder of the law if it is consistent with the legislative intent," Nikas explained.
The 17,000-member Christian Medical Association had filed an amicus brief, which showed how “the lower courts erroneously relied on the testimony of a single physician, who came up with several pregnancy conditions which in his opinion merited an abortion,” said CMA executive director Dr. David Stevens.
“A careful medical analysis, however, showed that in each hypothetical case that the doctor suggested, an abortion would not only not be indicated; in many cases would actually be contraindicated," he stated
"Polls suggest that the American people have resoundingly embraced this basic principle [that parents have a right to guide their own child's healthcare] as it relates to notification on abortion,” said Stevens, endorsing the court’s decision. “Any good doctor realizes that the input of parents remains one of his or her most important assets in understanding children patients and providing appropriate care.”
Dorinda Bordlee, Esq., senior counsel for Bioethics Defense Fund said this case "allows New Hampshire parents to provide guidance to their healthy minors considering abortion.”
South Bend, Ind., Jan 19, 2006 (CNA) - University of Notre Dame officials have been alerted to a case of “apparent plagiarism” that involves one of its well-known staff members — Catholic author and former chairman of the university’s theology department Fr. Richard McBrien.
William Hobbib sent a letter to university officials stating that Fr. McBrien, who sits on Notre Dame's Academic Code of Honor Committee, copied some text from a Boston Globe article for a column he submitted for the Jan. 6 issue of The Tidings online.
Hobbib, a software industry executive, is a speaker at the Archdiocese of Boston's Defense of Marriage meetings and co-orgainzed the Convention on Voting "Authentically Catholic" on the eve of the Democratic Convention in 2004.
“I am writing to inquire as to the most appropriate way of lodging a complaint about a faculty member's apparent plagiarism,” wrote Hobbib.
Fr. McBrien “appears to have copied passages directly or almost directly from a Boston Globe columnist's Dec. 11 column,” stated Hobbib, who had attached the two pieces for comparison.
“Although the amount of text copied is not significant and this is not a major academic publication by Fr. McBrien, I imagine this sort of behavior is not what you would consider tolerable by any Notre Dame faculty member,” said Hobbib.
“I urge you to protect Notre Dame's reputation for academic integrity and to take the strongest action possible to punish this violation and also alert the school and general public about the problem of plagiarism by such a prominent theologian and faculty member,” said the layman.
Fr. McBrien, a diocesan priest, was hired as a consultant on the “Da Vinci Code” film and has been on record for expressing opinions that differ from those of the Pope.
The two articles can be seen at:
Los Angeles, Calif., Jan 19, 2006 (CNA) - Anonymous plaintiffs dropped their December 2004 lawsuit, which sought to stop the federal government from funding the preservation of California’s historic Spanish missions.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State represented the anonymous plaintiffs. It said the suit, filed to block $10 million authorized by Congress to restore and preserve the historic California missions, was withdrawn because Congress had failed to budget any funds under the California Missions Preservation Act.
The case was withdrawn Jan. 17 but it had been scheduled to appear before a judge today.
The plaintiffs had argued that since some of the historic Spanish missions still conduct church services, none of the missions—among them the oldest buildings in California—should be preserved using federal government funds.
However, the missions are the most frequented historic landmarks in California, and every fourth grade student in California visits the missions as part of the state's public school history curriculum.
Recognizing the missions’ historical significance, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer sponsored the 2004 California Missions Preservation Act. The Act received bi-partisan support and authorizes historic preservation grants to be distributed to the California Missions Foundation, a private, non-sectarian charitable organization established to preserve the missions.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed a motion last April to dismiss the lawsuit.
It intends to defend the Act's constitutionality if the plaintiffs ever decide to file a new lawsuit after funds are appropriated.
Washington D.C., Jan 19, 2006 (CNA) - The annual March for Life will mark the 33rd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion. The Jan. 23 event will begin with an ecumenical prayer service in the Senate Caucus Room of the Russell Building at 8:30 a.m., led by Fr. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life.
All U.S. dioceses are also called to observe Monday as a day of penance and prayer for violations to the dignity of human life through acts of abortion and for full restoration of legal guarantees of the right to life.
Fr. Pavone will present a Pro-life Recognition Award to the family of Terri Schiavo for their efforts to defend Terri's life. He will also present an award to pro-life senator Sam Brownback of Kansas.
A Silent No More Awareness gathering will be held after the march at 4 p.m. at the Supreme Court building, where women will share publicly their pain and healing after abortion. The Silent No More Awareness Campaign Web site has a listing of other locations across the country where similar gatherings are planned.
Madrid, Spain, Jan 19, 2006 (CNA) - The EU Justice Affairs commissioner Franco Frattini announced this week at the EU Parliament in Strasburg that member states that do not eliminate all forms of discrimination against homosexuals, including the refusal to approve “marriage” and unions between same-sex couples, would be subject to sanctions and eventual expulsion from the EU.
According to a report by the Archdioceses of Madrid’s news service Analisis Digital, the commissioner’s statements came as the governments of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland ruled against legalizing homosexual “marriage.”
“Homophobia is a violation of human rights and we are watching member states on this issue and reporting on cases in which our efforts have been unsuccessful,” Fratti said. In this way “the Commission and the European Parliament seek to make any refusal to grant homosexual couples the same rights as a married couple a crime of ‘homophobia’,” the report warned.
Frattini, who was elected EU commissioner after the EU Parliament rejected the nomination of Catholic intellectual and friend of John Paul II, Rocco Buttiglione, because of his opposition to homosexual unions, has proposed “designating 2007 as the year of Equal Opportunity. The objectives would be to inform the public about their rights, promote diversity and, as a value of the Union, make this goal a priority.”
Expulsion from the EU
Some EU parliamentarians demanded specific sanctions against states that do not follow the anti-discrimination law and refuse to call homosexual unions “marriage,” for example.
Michael Cashman, President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Gay and Lesbian Rights, proposed expulsion from of the EU of those countries that “do not adhere to anti-discrimination legislation.” “If we do nothing we are accomplices in the crimes of violence that we see occurring in many member states,” said Cashman, who is also vice president of the organization Gay & Lesbian Humanists. The organization’s website says it is at war with “Catholic-inspired homophobia.”
Nevertheless, reports Analisis Digital, these proposals have been contested by Polish EU representative Jan Tadeusz Masiel, who called the adoption of children by homosexual couples “repulsive” and “shocking.” Likewise, her fellow Polish EU representative, Barbara Kurdycka, said the EU Parliament had no business telling people what they should think about homosexuality.
Madrid, Spain, Jan 19, 2006 (CNA) - The secretary of the United Left political party in the northern Spanish city of Gijon, Guillermo Miranda, acknowledged this week his party was divided over a manifesto against the Church signed by hundreds of party members and published in a regional newspaper.
The manifesto entitled “God’s Monopoly,” which was signed by a segment of the UL that defines itself as “atheist” and “anti-clerical,” provoked reaction by Catholics, said Miranda. But their objections, he claimed, “were basically over the title of the statement.”
Miranda minimized the conflict, arguing it was about disagreements “of an ideological and political nature” and that the document was a rejection of “the Church hierarchy” and its actions in public life, and not an attack on believers.
Vatican City, Jan 19, 2006 (CNA) - Upon completing his mission in Israel, the outgoing Holy See ambassador to Israel, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who is now the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, received an award from the Israeli Minister of Tourism, Abraham Hirshson, for his fruitful work in ecumenical dialogue in the Holy Land.
According to the EFE news agency, during his remarks thanking the archbishop, Hirshson highlighted his important contributions to peaceful relations between Christians, Muslims and Jews.
Palestinian representatives, as well as representatives of the Christian communities of both the eastern and western Churches participated in the ceremony.
Last December 17, the Holy Father appointed Archbishop Sambi Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.
Vatican City, Jan 19, 2006 (CNA) - As the Church continues its celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Benedict today met with an ecumenical Christian delegation from Finland, to whom he stressed the importance of appreciating what already unites Christians, despite deep differences.
The visit came on the occasion of today's Feast of St. Henry, patron saint of Finland.
The Pope began his address by recalling how his predecessor, John Paul II, regularly welcomed members of the delegation during their annual pilgrimage to Rome.
He said that, "These visits are an occasion for further productive work, as well as for a deepening of the 'spiritual ecumenism' which prompts divided Christians to appreciate how much already unites them."
The Pope stressed that "the present Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Commission in Finland and Sweden builds upon the substantial accomplishment of the Joint Declaration on Justification (1999).”
“In the specific context of the Nordic countries,” he said, “the Commission is continuing to study the achievements and practical implications of the Joint Declaration. In this way it seeks to address the still existing differences between Lutherans and Catholics concerning certain questions of faith and ecclesial life while maintaining fervent witness to the truth of the Gospel.”
He added that "During these days of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we are especially aware that unity is a grace, and that we need continually to ask the Lord for this gift."
Pope Benedict concluded his address by charging the group to “thank God for all that has been achieved so far in Catholic-Lutheran relations and let us pray that He may fill us with His Spirit Who guides us towards the fullness of truth and love."
Vatican City, Jan 19, 2006 (CNA) - As Pope Benedict XVI prepares for the release of his first Encyclical letter, which will deal with the nature--and sometimes abuse--of the concept of love, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, has announced an international congress on charity, which they hope, will piggyback on the Holy Father’s new work.
The congress, themed, “…But the greatest of these is love,” based on St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, is due to be held on January 23 and 24 in the Vatican's New Synod Hall.
It will immediately precede the release of the Pope’s Encyclical, called "Deus Caritas est" and, according to a statement released by Cor Unum, has the aim of "maintaining alive within the Church a sense of Christian commitment to others."
The meeting is scheduled to be inaugurated by Cor Unum president, Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, and will likely be attended by some 200 participants, including cardinals, bishops, ambassadors, heads of international aid organizations, and national delegates from Caritas and from non-governmental groups.
According to a calendar of events, released by the group, presenters will include James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank from 1995 to 2005, Denis Vienot, president of Caritas Internationalis, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland, all of whom will analyze “the two great sectors of humanitarian aid: that of civil society and that of the ecclesial world.”
On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI himself will address the participants, and later, during the afternoon session, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls will present a series of testimonies on "experiences of charity."
Most of the morning of the second day will feature an interview with Italian film director Liliana Cavani. Cavani, known for her films on the life of St. Francis of Assisi, will explain how the call of charity has affected her depiction of love in film.
Cardinal Francis Eugene George O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, will conclude that day’s session with a theological lecture on the nature of charity.
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, vice dean of the College of Cardinals and president emeritus of the Pontifical Councils of Justice and Peace and "Cor Unum", will close the congress Tuesday afternoon with a Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter's Basilica.
Vatican City, Jan 19, 2006 (CNA) - The Vatican announced today its final plans for the celebration of the fifth centenary of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, the world’s oldest standing military corps.
The celebration will open on Sunday, January 22nd, when Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano will preside at Mass in the Sistine Chapel for the 110 active members of the Guard as well as their families.
Simultaneously, Cardinal Georges Marie Martin Cottier O.P. will celebrate Mass in the cathedral of St. Nicholas in Fribourg, Switzerland, where more than 500 former Swiss Guard members will be gathered with their families.
At noontime, a guard of honor, made up of 70 members of the corps will be on hand in St. Peter’s Square for Pope Benedict XVI’s Angelus prayer where they will receive a papal blessing.
This will reenact an event from 500 years ago performed by Pope Julius II. Former guards gathered in Fribourg will be able to follow the events via live television.
The Vatican also noted that the day will conclude with a presentation of a special commemorative papal medal, made for the occasion. This will take place in the Courtyard of Honor of the Swiss Guard.
Steubenville, Ohio, Jan 19, 2006 (CNA) - On Monday, some 500 university students from Steubenville, Ohio, will board a line of charter busses bound for the nation’s capital, where they hope to bear witness to the sanctity of human life.
Two days of pro-life activities at the school will commence with a prayer vigil on the evening of Sunday, January 22nd, marking the thirty-third anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision which legalized abortion in the U.S.
The service will include a presentation by pro-life activist Liz Brown, who will speak personally about the pain caused by her own abortion, as well as a candlelit procession to the campus’s “Tomb of the Unborn Child.”
Tom Sofio, spokesman for the school, said that around midnight, students will board the busses to join thousands of other pro-life advocates in Washington D.C. for Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the annual March for Life.
Likewise, Tom McFadden, Director of Admissions for Christendom College in Virginia noted that the entire student body and faculty of that school will make the short trip east to the capital, where they will join March as well.
Organizers have noticed a marked increase in the number of young people attending the March in recent years, as more colleges and college groups, many inspired by the late John Paul II, have begun voiced their own disdain for what the late Pope coined as “the culture of death.
Brussels, Belgium, Jan 19, 2006 (CNA) - A resolution adopted by the European Parliament on Wednesday about homophobia in Europe, is taking new steps in the legalization of homosexual unions throughout Europe.
First, it strongly encourages member states to change their legislation to be friendlier to gay rights. Basing itself upon Human rights conventions, the charter of fundamental rights, as well as previous resolutions, the resolution states facts about homophobia, but it goes further, going against any form of discrimination.
The European Parliament goes as far as asserting that “ same-sex partners in some Member States do not enjoy all of the rights and protections enjoyed by married opposite sex partners and consequently suffer discrimination and disadvantage.”
There is therefore discrimination, according to the European Parliament in not having equal rights as married heterosexuals, meaning member states should legalize some sort of union, or that homosexuals partners should enjoy the exact same rights as married couples, such as adoption of children.
It also strongly recommends state governments to publicize homosexuality, by leading campaigns against homophobia, in schools, universities, public administration, media, etc…
The Parliament is setting an evaluation of countries regarding their legislation and actions toward homosexuals by saying that “not all Member States are fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation nor promoting equality,”
The Parliament finally “Urges Member States to enact legislation to end discrimination faced by same-sex partners in the areas of inheritance, property arrangements, tenancies, pensions, tax, social security etc, “ making therefore clear that homosexual are entitled to the same rights as married heterosexual couples.
It also threatens to sanction countries that purposely alter their legislation to ban same-sex unions and wish to stress that marriage is between a man and a women. The three Baltic countries and Poland have done so.