Archive of March 6, 2006

Works of charity must not substitute for commitment to social justice, Pope tells Italian business leaders

Vatican City, Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI met with 8,000 members of Italy’s Christian Union of Entrepreneurs and Managers (UCID), with whom he stressed the deep need for a Christian ethic in the world of business, particularly in building a socially just society.

The statutes of the Union have recently received the approval of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

The Holy Father began his address by praising the expressed intent of the business people "to tend towards an ethic that goes beyond a simple professional code of conduct."

He said that this ethic reminded him of the profound relationship between justice and charity, one of the themes of his recent Encyclical "Deus caritas est."

"Christians”, he went on, “are called always to seek justice, yet they carry in themselves the impulse of love, which even goes beyond justice.”

The Pope pointed out that “the road traveled by lay Christians from the middle of the nineteenth century to today, has brought them to an awareness that works of charity must not substitute the commitment to social justice.”

“The Church's social doctrine,” he said, “and above all the activity of so many Christian-inspired groups such as your own, show just how far the ecclesial community has traveled in this matter."

Here, Pope Benedict recalled the 2004 publication of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which was drafted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

He said that it is "an educational instrument, extremely useful for all those people who aim to allow themselves be guided by the Gospel in their working and professional lives,” adding his hope that "it may become a constant point of reference" for members of the UCID as they seek solutions to the "complex problems of the world of work and the economy."

This area, he said, represents their "road to sanctification."

The Holy Father also commented on the "Charter of Values", a document drawn up for young members of the UCID.

He commended "the positive spirit of faith in the human person" that animates the document, and the fact that its declaration of principles is backed up by a positive commitment to put them into practice.

He said he particularly appreciated "the stated aim of valuing all individuals for what each of them is or can give, according to their talents, while avoiding all forms of exploitation; as well as the recognition of the importance of the family and of personal responsibility.”

“Unfortunately”, he lamented, “such values, also thanks to current economic difficulties, often risk not being followed by those business people who lack solid moral inspiration. For this reason, the contribution of those who draw from their own Christian formation is indispensable."

Concluding his address, Benedict challenged members of the group to draw their inspiration from St. Joseph--the patron saint of workers--both "in your daily tasks, ... and in your tenacious search for God's justice in human affairs."

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South Dakota Gov. signs Anti-abortion bill, widely acclaimed by Catholic groups

Washington D.C., Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - The State of South Dakota made history this morning as Gov. Mike Rounds signed a ban on virtually all abortions in his state. This is the first abortion ban passed by a state legislature since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that decriminalized abortion in all 50 states. The new law is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2006.

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, President of Human Life International (HLI), responds to the Signing of legislation banning most abortions in South Dakota.

“The people of South Dakota have spoken, and they have demanded an end to the killing of preborn babies by groups like Planned Parenthood in their backyard.

“Planned Parenthood along with other abortion profiteers will work to subvert the will of the people of South Dakota through legal challenges, but the inevitable march toward complete legal protection for persons from conception to natural death has been advanced one more step.

“Gov. Rounds is a hero, and all Americans should be proud of his moral courage and integrity. As a Catholic Priest I am delighted to see a Roman Catholic play such an important role in the creation of a culture of life in the United States . . .” concluded the Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer.

The Christian Defense Coalition points out that several states are now considering similar abortion bans and with the Supreme Court agreeing to hear a ban on partial-birth abortion and polls showing that Americans growing uncomfortable with abortion on demand, it appears the foundations of Roe are crumbling.

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, responds, "We applaud the courage of the Governor Mike Rounds and the South Dakota legislature for banning abortion and putting an end this tragic violence against women and children.  With several states waiting in the wings to ban abortion, momentum is clearly building nationwide to overturn Roe. Polls are showing that more and more Americans are becoming uncomfortable with abortion and the overwhelming majority of our nation's young people feel abortion is 'immoral.'

"Roe is slowly, but surely, being chipped away at. We thank Governor Mike Rounds for signing this bill and hope this will send a clear message to the other states to affirm the dignity of life," concluded Father Mahoney.

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Brother of Terri Schindler-Schiavo Special Guest at 27th Annual Maryland Candlelight March for Life

, Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - Bobby Schindler, Brother of Terri Schiavo will be the special guest at the 27th annual  Maryland Candlelight March for Life that is to take place today in the evening in Annapolis.

He will represent the Schindler family at Monday’s event. Terri’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, were also scheduled to attend, but cannot due to illness. The event is titled: A New Vision to the Future: Maryland Without Roe, is expected to draw a large crowd of pro-lifers from around the metro area who will march through the streets of Annapolis.

“It is truly an honor to have the Schindler family represented at this year’s event. As we approach the first anniversary of the medical killing of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, I believe it is important that we honor her memory by renewing our resolve to protect the most vulnerable in our society—from conception to natural death,” said Stephen G. Peroutka, Esq., a Maryland attorney and chairman of the National Pro-Life Action Center (NPLAC). “Abortion and euthanasia both involve the intentional killing of an innocent human being and are anathema to the underpinnings of a civilized society. I believe Roe’s days are numbered and that we will see its reversal in the near future, but we must also continue to advance the cause of the disabled and infirmed.”

Peroutka will serve as the keynote speaker for the Maryland Candlelight March for Life on Monday, March 6, in Annapolis, Md. The event, titled, A New Vision to the Future: Maryland Without Roe, is expected to draw a large crowd of pro-lifers from around the metro area who will march through the streets of Annapolis to Lawyer’s Mall at the Statehouse. “The Schindlers are an inspiration to all who value and defend the sanctity of human life, and we are privileged to have them at our event,” said Paul S. Mulligan, a pro-life leader in Maryland and one of the event’s main organizers.

Many groups and pro-life associations as well as Church authorities are scheduled to participate in the march such as Archdiocese of Baltimore; Archdiocese of Washington; Charles County Right to Life; Christian Coalition of Maryland; Defend Life; Knights of Columbus; Maryland Association of Families.

The march Begins at St. Mary’s Church -- 109 Duke of Gloucester Street; and will head towards the Annapolis State House.

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Democrats For Life promotes initiative to reduce abortions

Washington D.C., Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - Democrats For Life is “fully committed to promoting a culture of life,” and supports the recent Catholic Statement of Principles, says its executive director, Kristen Day.

In a statement issued last week, Day promoted her organization’s 95-10 Initiative. She said her organization’s top priority is preventing abortion and working to create legislation, social policies and programs that will help pregnant women carry their babies to term and protect them from violence.

“The number one cause of death of pregnant women is murder – often by the baby’s father,” said Day. “Yet, President Bush’s 2006 budget, which cuts funding to help women escape domestic violence, speaks volumes about the commitment to promote a culture of life.” She also charged the Republicans with consistently cutting services for women and families.

On the contrary, she argued, the Democrats for Life 95-10 Initiative “will do more to protect unborn children by empowering women by providing the necessary government support to assist those who find themselves in crisis pregnancies” and ultimately reduce the abortion rate. 

Democrats for Life is calling on all people of faith to ask Congress to support programs that will help women carry their babies to term.

“While many people disagree on the morality and legality of abortion, people on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the issue can come together to significantly reduce the abortion rate and make a commitment to passing legislation to provide women with options other than abortion,” she said.

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Georgia bishops criticize proposed immigration reform

Atlanta, Ga., Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - Georgia’s proposed immigration reforms are “punitive” and run counter to Catholic social teaching which insists that the dignity and rights of undocumented immigrants be respected, said two Georgia bishops last week.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta and Bishop J. Kevin Boland of Savannah issued a joint six-page pastoral letter, criticizing Georgia’s immigration reform bills which would restrict health care, education and basic social services for illegal immigrants.

The treatment of immigrants, today and historically, “too often reflects failures of understanding and sinful patterns of chauvinism, prejudice and discrimination that deny the unity of the human family," reads the statement.

Archbishop Gregory said Americans “have a right to care for our borders and regulate the entry of people into our nation,” reported the Associated Press. But he also called on them to remember their history as “a nation of people who are largely immigrants.”

The archbishop commended Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for their proposed immigration reform bill, which he says is “comprehensive” and deals with smuggling in illegal immigrants and the production of fake documents.

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‘Dialogue with Islam needed to defend life, have world peace,’ concludes Catholic-Jewish meeting

Vatican City, Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - Participants at a high-level Catholic-Jewish meeting said they would like to involve Islam in a dialogue to help promote world peace and to defend life, from conception to natural death.

The Great Rabbinate of Israel for relations with the Catholic Church met with the Bilateral Commission of the Holy See for religious relations with Judaism at the Vatican last week, reported AGI.

Participants said they believe religion has a role to play in resolving conflicts and tensions. They also condemned all violence, especially that carried out in the name of religion, and affirmed that all life is a divine gift to be respected and preserved.

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Cardinal launches foundation to assist immigrants, refugees

Quebec City, Canada, Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - One of Canada’s cardinals has launched a foundation to assist immigrants and refugees. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec, began the foundation with a $20,000 personal donation and a matching donation from his archdiocese.

The Cardinal Marc Ouellet Foundation is the first in the province to provide funds exclusively to groups that work with immigrants and refugees. The foundation wants to help facilitate integration of immigrants and refugees into Quebec society.

In the last decade, most of the new arrivals have come from Colombia, Afghanistan and different African countries.

Many of the Colombian families and other immigrants from South America are practicing Catholics, infusing some local parishes with new life.

There are about 2,000 Colombian families in the Quebec City region and a few parishes have already begun responding to their needs by offering mass in Spanish. A Colombian priest recently arrived to minister to the needs of this new wave of immigrants.

The foundation is currently accepting donations to build up its endowment fund. It expects to start distributing grants next year.

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Mississippi governor says he would sign abortion ban

Jackson, Miss., Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said last week that he would likely sign the state’s proposed abortion ban into law if it makes it to his desk.

The Mississippi House Public Health Committee voted Tuesday to approve a ban on abortion similar to the ban in South Dakota. The bill may be put to a vote in the full House this week. If approved, it would move on to the State Senate.

Mississippi joins an increasing number of states — including Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee — that are attempting to ban abortion at the state level, hoping to force litigation that will challenge Roe v. Wade.

According to Operation Rescue, Mississippi has only one remaining abortion clinic — the Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

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True route to happiness, fulfillment is freedom from sin and lies, says Pope for first Sunday Lenten message

Vatican City, Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - Before praying his Sunday Angelus before a large crowd in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI told listeners that in order to discover true meaning for their lives, they must seek freedom from sin--something he called an apt activity for this season of Lent.

He began by recalling that yesterday, the Chruch celebrated the first Sunday of the liturgical period of Lent, a time which “encourages Christians to commit themselves on a preparatory journey that leads to Easter."
"Today's Gospel," he told the crowd, "reminds us that Jesus, after having been baptized in the River Jordan and moved by the Holy Spirit which descended upon Him and identified Him as the Christ, withdrew to the desert of Judah for 40 days where He overcame the temptations of Satan.”

The Pope said that in this light, Christians must “spiritually enter the Lenten desert” so as to follow “their Lord and Master…in order to face with Him 'the struggle against the spirit of evil.’"

He went on to explain that "in order to live fulfilling lives in freedom, it is necessary to overcome the trial that freedom itself brings: in other words, temptation. Only when freed from the slavery of lies and sin can human beings - through obedience to the faith that opens them to truth - discover the full meaning of their lives and achieve peace, love and happiness.”
The Holy Father said that "Precisely for this reason, Lent represents an appropriate moment for an attentive examination of life in meditation, prayer and penance."

As the Pope and the Roman Curia enter into their traditional Lenten spiritual exercises--which began last evening--Benedict expressed his hopes that they would "help me and my collaborators in the Roman Curia to enter with greater awareness into this characteristic Lenten atmosphere."

The exercises, led by Cardinal Marco Ce, patriarch emeritus of Venice, Italy, will last until Saturday.

The Pope called on the faithful to accompany him with their prayer during his time of retreat and assured them of his own prayers to the Lord on their behalf. Specifically, he promised his prayers that "for all Christians Lent may be a moment of conversion and of more courageous commitment to sanctity.”

“To this end,” he said, “we invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary."

In this vein, Pope Benedict announced that on Saturday, March 11th, the Vatican will host a Marian vigil organized by Roman university students.

In addition, students from various other European and African countries will also participate through radio and television links.

"It will be," Benedict said, "an appropriate occasion to pray to the Most Holy Virgin that the Gospel may open new channels of communication between the peoples of Europe and of Africa.”

“Dear young people,” he added, “I hope you will participate in large numbers!"

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Gaining headway: Colorado Catholic Bishops endorse revised sexual abuse bill, continue to fight another

Denver, Colo., Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - In a victory for the Catholic faithful of Colorado--and, as they would point out; the state’s young people--Colorado’s Catholic bishops have spoken out in favor of a newly amended state House Bill which no longer punishes the Church, as the bishops say it currently had.

All three of Colorado’s bishops, including Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput, Pueblo’s Bishop Arthur Tafoya and Colorado Springs’ Bishop Michael Sheridan have publicly endorsed a revised version of House Bill 1088, which was originally among a group of three bills seeming to unfairly target the Catholic Church‘s role in the ongoing sexual abuse scandal.

Two others however; House Bill 1090, and what is seen as a severely flawed Senate Bill 143, are still in the center of what the Church sees as a battle for justice.

"We're grateful to [Colorado state] Representative Marshall and Senator Sandoval for listening to the concerns of the community, and revising HB 1088 to make it viable," said Timothy Dore, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference.

That bill, as revised, eliminates the criminal statute of limitations for incidents of sexual abuse against a minor which occurred or occur after July 1, 2006. It now covers all perpetrators equally and is not retroactive. In addition, civil statutes of limitation will remain in place.
Dore said that although the bishops continue to support statutes of limitations as an important element of the justice system, as amended, the Marshall-Sandoval bill is acceptable public policy.

Echoing the bishops, he also pointed out however, that Senate Bill 143 “is bad law and bad public policy.”

He said that “it was heavily influenced by plaintiffs’ attorneys seeking to retroactively change the law to gain advantage in lawsuits they already filed. Its core concept is so deeply flawed that it probably can’t be fixed to qualify as useful to the common good."

Colorado's three bishops have stressed that, on a matter as grave as the sexual abuse of minors, "the same civil and criminal penalties, financial damages, time frames for litigation and statutes of limitations should apply against both public and private institutions and their agents.”

Unfortunately, the bill, in its current form, only targets private and religious institutions--the majority of which, in Colorado, are Catholic--and does nothing to protect against sexual abuse in public schools and institutions.

In a letter to all parishioners of the Archdiocese, Archbishop Chaput wrote last month that “some Colorado legislators seem determined to be harsh when it comes to Catholic and other private institutions, and much softer when it comes to their own public institutions, including public schools. And it will be families, including Catholic families, who suffer.”

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World experts submit amicus briefs to stop legalization of abortion in Colombia

Vatican City, Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - World-renowned pro-life expert Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Sciences, is among more than 100 experts from around the world who have submitted amicus briefs to the Colombian Constitutional Court to stop the legalization of abortion in that country.

Professor Hoyos submitted three boxes of amicus briefs to the court Feb. 10, presenting each brief separately. Some organizations and individuals put in heroic efforts, preparing their documents in a very short period of time.

The briefs came from pro-life experts and advocates in Australia, Canada, Spain and the United Kingdom. Members of the European Parliament submitted two briefs; one of these was signed by Dr. Kathy Sinnott and 11 members of the European Parliament.

Twenty-one briefs were submitted by pro-life experts and advocates in the United States, including: Dr. Bernard Nathanson; Teresa Stanton Collett, professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law; Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America; Bradley Mattes, senior fellow of Men and Abortion Network, and; Dr. Joseph DeCook, vice-president of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Briefs have been submitted from a number of organizations in Latin American countries as well, namely Human Life International’s Hispanic branch.
The Colombian Constitutional Court is currently considering the case and is expected o return with a decision within several weeks. The court is reportedly not favorable to the pro-life position.

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CELAM asks monastic and contemplative communities to pray for upcoming Conference

, Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - In a letter addressed to members of all monastic and contemplative communities of the Americas, the leaders of the Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM) asked for their prayers for the success of the V General Conference scheduled to be opened by Pope Benedict XVI in May 2007 in the Brazilian city of Aparecida.

In the letter signed by CELAM president Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz of Santiago, Chile, and Bishop Andres Stanovnik of Reconquista, Argentina, the leaders invited contemplatives and monastic religious to “actively participate” in the reflection on the theme of the upcoming gathering and they expressed their hope that they “would send their input through your respective Episcopal conferences.”

The CELAM leaders noted that the laity are also providing input for the bishops by meeting in their respective communities to reflect on the theme chosen by the Pope: ‘Disciples and Missionaries of Jesus Christ so that our people may have life in Him’—‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ (Jn 14:6).”

“In order that this work be lived as a true expression of zealous and committed faith, the Holy Father has given us a beautiful Prayer for the V Conference, which we would like to especially entrust to all of the contemplative communities and to the heart of each person consecrated to the Lord,” the letter states.

 “Join us in imploring the light of the Holy Spirit during the celebration [of the Conference], that He may enlighten our minds and awaken in us the desire of contemplating Jesus Christ, love for our brothers, above all the afflicted, and zeal for proclaiming Him as this century begins, and thus respond with faithfulness to our vocation to be His disciples and missionaries so that our peoples may have life in Him.”

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Center dedicated to Padre Pio inaugurated in Brazil

Rome, Italy, Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - On Saturday a huge center dedicated to Padre Pio, including a church, a school and a clinic was inaugurated in the Brazilian town of Autazes.

According to the Fides news agency, the center is part of the program “Padre Pio Missionary in the world”, which built a similar structure at Thakimagre, in India.

There is a strong devotion to St. Padre Pio among the faithful in this area, located in the center of the Amazon forest, 12 hours by boat from the main regional city Manaus.

The new structure will be at the service of the local people, women and children in particular, for their human, spiritual and cultural growth, Fides reported.

The inaugural ceremony will be presided by Bishop Alfonso Ribeiro, in charge of the Apostolic Prelature of Borba, in the presence of local Catholics, authorities and a delegation of benefactors from Italy .

The project is also supported by the Pontifical Holy Childhood Mission Society.

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Archbishop of Caracas says Church will offer mediation for dialogue between opposition and government

Caracas, Venezuela, Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas said last week the bishops of Venezuela would be willing to mediate a dialogue between opposition groups and the government of Hugo Chavez in order to ensure presidential elections scheduled for December 3 take place in climate of trust.

“The Church is going to make an effort to help this dialogue to happen.  The first thing we are doing is issuing this call to openness so that there might be true political peace in Venezuela,” said the archbishop, who has been named a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Urosa said it was important that Venezuelans begin to trust again.  Therefore, he “insisted on the need for there to be political will on the part of the government in order to create these conditions.”

Opposition leaders said they sought the support of the bishops because of the Church’s credibility in the country.

Archbishop Urosa said he hoped the dialogue would help all Venezuelans to feel more united and that “the democratic channels are open for all.”

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Spanish archbishop says term “pre-embryo” a mocker of human dignity

Valencia, Fla., Mar 6, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Valencia, Agustin Garcia Gasco, called on Spaniards to defend the dignity of human life at all stages and denounced the manipulation of language by those who “use the term pre-embryo to mock the human dignity of those most vulnerable.”

Archbishop Garcia warned that “a society that treats the human embryo like the embryo of a pig will end up fostering attitudes in which such confusion will affect other stages of life, especially the most vulnerable.”

In his weekly letter entitled, “The human being: untouchable in all of his stages,” the archbishop rejected the destruction of human embryos in order to harvest some for the curing of illnesses, adding that just as “it is not licit to eliminate the unborn child suffering from disease or illness, so too it is not licit to create children destined for destruction in order to heal a sibling.”

Medical research must take into account the dignity and right to life of each human being, the archbishop continued.  “No one owns the life of another,” he warned.

Society’s commitment to the rights of the child face a three-fold threat:  “the separation between the unborn and the born; between the healthy and the sick; between the rights of children and the truth of the family,” the archbishop stated.

He added that from conception on, there is nothing that adds to or takes away from the dignity of the person, as each human being has his or her own genetic code and is completely unique.

The rights of children must be protected, he said, and there must be a public recognition in all countries of the value of infancy.

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