Archive of May 9, 2006

U.S. pro-life group leads campaign urging Amnesty International not to embrace abortion as ‘human right’

Miami, Fla., May 9, 2006 (CNA) - Human Life International, one of the most prominent pro-life organizations in the world, has reiterated its call to all pro-life advocates to write to Amnesty International (AI) and petition the organization not to promote abortion as a “human right.”

The leaders of AI are set to decide on May 20 if the organization will embrace the idea of abortion as a “human right.”

According to a press release by HLI, “The urgent need to write many letters to Amnesty International is due not only to the fact that their annual meeting is drawing near (May 20, 2006), but also because the British pro-life organization United For Life has sent four letters to the group's London headquarters in order to dissuade them from declaring abortion to be ‘an international human right’ and so far, has not received any response.”

Officials at HLI speculate that “This is probably due to the fact that many people and organizations that are either affiliated with Amnesty International, or supporters are unaware that this organization, at its highest levels, has unfortunately distorted the authentic concept of human rights.  Because of all this, we earnestly ask you to please write this organization and ask that it cease promoting abortion as an ‘international right’.”

“If Amnesty International persists in this campaign, we can only imagine the great harm that it will bring to the pro-life cause due to the ‘prestige’ that this organization has in the eyes of many,” HLI warned.

Letters can be sent to Amnesty International at the following address:

Amnesty International
International Secretariat
1 Easton Street

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Pope Benedict mourns Italian soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Vatican City, May 9, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI’s own words of condolence were read at the beginning of a funeral Mass, held this morning, during which Italy laid to rest two of its soldiers. Both lost their lives in a May 5th attack in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The message, sent by the Vatican’s Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, was read by Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who is military ordinary for Italy, at St. Mary of the Angels Church in Rome.

Cardinal Sodano begins the telegram: "Having learned the news of the ignoble attack on the Italian convoy in Kabul, which caused the death of two soldiers of the Alpine Regiment, the Supreme Pontiff wishes to communicate to parents and relatives an expression of his personal participation in their profound suffering.”

Pope Benedict also wished to “convey his heartfelt condolences for the grave mourning which has once again struck the entire nation of Italy, and especially the armed forces committed to upholding, with generous self-sacrifice, actions of peace among sorely tried peoples.”

The Cardinal said that Benedict assures “his fervent prayers that the Lord may welcome to eternal life the young victims who sacrificed their own lives,” and “invokes heavenly comfort upon those weeping their dramatic death.”

The Pope also sent his personal apostolic blessing, “with a special thought for the soldiers wounded in the attack."

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Italian, Dutch religious sisters to be beatified over weekend

Vatican City, May 9, 2006 (CNA) - The Vatican’s Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has announced that two religious sisters will be beatified on May 13th and 14th during ceremonies scheduled to be held almost simultaneously in Italy and Holland.

The first, Servant of God Maria Teresa di San Giuseppe, nee Anna Maria Tauscher van den Bosch, will be declared Blessed in Roermond, Netherlands on Saturday, the 13th.

Born to Lutheran parents in 1855, she became Catholic in 1888 before founding the Congregation of Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus in 1891. She died in 1938 in Holland.

On Sunday, Servant of God Maria della Passione di Nostro Signore Gesu Cristo, nee Grazia Tarallo, will be beatified in the cathedral of Naples, in Italy.

The Italian-born sister was part of the Institute of Crucified Sisters Adorers of the Holy Eucharist and near the end of her life, was said to have been physically sustained on nothing but the Eucharist.

She was born in 1866 and died in 1912. A declared miracle was ascribed to her, opening the door for her beatification, on December 19th, 2005.

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Muslim refugees desecrate Belgian churches

Brussels, Belgium, May 9, 2006 (CNA) - Illegal immigrants have taken refuge in some Belgian churches and, according to the conservative Brussels Journal, these churches “are being turned into mosques before [the bishops'] very eyes.”

A recent report in the journal indicates that t he Belgian bishops have opened their churches and offered sanctuary to illegal immigrants in order to pressurize the Belgian authorities to allow them to stay in the country.

Most of these illegal immigrants are Muslim, and the Brussels Journal accused the bishops of being “ignorant” to the fact that these immigrants are desecrating the churches.

According to the Belgian publication, the squatters live in tents in the churches. Catholic relief organizations provided the tents and offered radios, television sets and computers. They hold Islamic prayer services in the church and display banners showing the name of Allah. They have also moved the altar and covered the face of a statue of Our Lady with a cloth.

The journal documented these facts with photos and claim that the arrangements have existed for a number of years already.

Pictures were used with permission from photographer Chris Gillibrand and the conservative weblog:

Tents set up in the Church


Muslim prayer service in Chapel


Computers to play card games


Allah banner on walls of the Church

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Eleven new priests for Denver, largest ordination class in 40 years

Denver, Colo., May 9, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver will ordain 11 new priests for his diocese May 13, on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

The ceremony will bring the total number of ordinations for Denver this academic year to 14; three men were ordained in December. This is the largest number of ordinations in Denver since the 1960s. There were five ordinations in 2002-03 and seven in 2004-05.

The Archdiocese of Denver ranks third nationwide in ordination class size for 2006. According to the Official Catholic Directory, the Church continues to average between 400 and 450 priestly ordinations each year since 2003. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has cited a trend towards older and better educated ordinands; the average age of whom nationally is 37.

In Denver, their average age is 34 and many have had full-time careers in various fields. For example, Deacon Frank Garcia, 48, taught over 20 years in Colorado’s Jefferson County Public Schools before entering the seminary. Deacon Michael Freihofer, 42, was an officer in the U.S. Air Force for 10 years, where he taught calculus and coached the Academy’s women’s volleyball team.

When asked about their calling to the priesthood, many of the ordinands describe an attraction to the priesthood since childhood, while others experienced their calling in later years, usually during college or foreign missionary work.

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Boston Cardinal, local Catholics to support a ballot vote on marriage

Boston, Mass., May 9, 2006 (CNA) - Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley is urging Catholics in his archdiocese to contact their state senators and representatives and urge them to include a new amendment--defining marriage as an act between one man and one woman--on the November 2008 ballot.

“Our elected officials must hear from Catholics,” the archbishop said in a letter he had published in The Pilot, the local diocesan newspaper.

“In order to ensure that citizens can participate in decisions on the definition of marriage, it is important that you contact your legislators,” he wrote.

The cardinal said that he has joined a coalition, including the other bishops of Massachusetts, Catholic Citizenship and, to “support the right of citizens to vote on the definition of marriage.”

The Massachusetts State Legislature is expected to debate a proposed constitutional amendment, defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman, starting this month and as early as May 10. House Bill 4617 responds to the 2003 Supreme Judicial Court ruling that created a right to same-sex marriage in our state constitution.

The cardinal-archbishop pointed out that more than 123,000 citizens signed a petition supporting the amendment last fall. This was the most signatures ever certified in a ballot campaign in Massachusetts.

For more information, go to

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Recent polls show Americans shifting to pro-life attitudes

Washington D.C., May 9, 2006 (CNA) - According to recent nationwide opinion polls, support for Roe v. Wade is waning and the majority of Americans would support restrictions on abortion, observes Deirdre McQuade, director of planning and information at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.

McQuade notes that “public opinion has moved progressively away from supporting unqualified access to abortion.”

“This is a real sign of hope,” she said, “for both women and their unborn children.” McQuade is hopeful this trend will continue.

A May 4 Harris poll found that support for Roe v. Wade has dropped below 50 percent nationally for the first time in 30 years. It also showed that 44 percent of Americans said they would support a law in their own state like South Dakota's, which bans all abortions except to save the mother's life.

“An April 2006 survey by the Polling Company, Inc./WomanTrend found that 54 percent support limiting legal abortion to the extreme circumstances of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother,” McQuade said. An additional 21 percent would limit abortion to the first trimester. Roe v. Wade allows for abortion at any time throughout pregnancy.

In March, a Zogby poll found majority support for abortion regulations such as informed consent laws for women and parental notification laws, with 69 percent favoring such measures for girls under 17 years old.

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Judge orders removal of Mt. Soledad Cross

San Diego, Calif., May 9, 2006 (CNA) - After a 17-year legal battle, Federal District Judge Gordon Thompson ordered San Diego officials to remove the historic Mount Soledad Cross within 90 days or face fines of $5,000 per day thereafter.

The 43-foot cross was erected in 1954 and is currently the centerpiece of a national memorial honoring American veterans of all wars.

A similar order was issued in 1991 in this case between the city of San Diego and atheist activist Philip Paulson.

But lawyers from the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, have said the issue is not over.

“The judge’s order is not the end of the Mt. Soledad saga. We are looking at several options: asking President Bush to take the land under the federal government’s powers of eminent domain,” said Charles LiMandri, the west coast regional director of the Law Center, which has been involved in the defense of the Mt. Soledad Cross and National Memorial for several years.

In 2004, just weeks before the cross was to be removed, the Law Center devised the legal blueprint to designate the land a national veteran’s memorial, which the area’s congressmen implemented in a federal omnibus appropriations act Dec. 8, 2004.

Just days before Judge Thompson’s order to remove the Cross, LiMandri hand-delivered a supplemental legal memo on behalf of San Diegans for the Mt Soledad National Memorial, pointing out how recent federal court decisions supported keeping the Cross where it is.

“I understand that after 17 years, Judge Thompson would want to get this case off his docket,” said Richard Thompson, the Law Center’s president and chief counsel.

“But what is troubling, to do so he not only ignored the change in the law and facts since his 1991 order, but he ignored the will of Congress and the United States President that made the Mt Soledad Cross a part of a national memorial, and he ignored the will of San Diego citizens of all faiths who overwhelmingly voted to maintain the Cross as the centerpiece of this memorial.”

For more on the Mt Soledad Cross controversy, go to

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Salvadoran cardinal says Church’s authority on condom use belongs to the Pope

San Salvador, El Salvador, May 9, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador, El Salvador, said this week that only the Pope has the authority to define the Church’s position on the use of condoms by married couples in which one spouse is infected with HIV or AIDS.

In the midst of a debate in El Salvador about a policy that would center the country’s efforts to fight AIDS on the distribution and promotion of condoms, Archbishop Saenz was asked by local reporters about the statements by Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who called the use of condoms in such cases a “lesser evil.”  “These opinions have not been expressed by the Pope, who is the only one with authority to speak on this matter,” the archbishop said.

“We should not be spreading confusing ideas about such important issues that affect morality and the nature of the marriage act,” he added.

Many media outlets have recently reported that the Vatican is planning a new instruction on the use of condoms, but so far, pertinent Vatican offices have denied the suggestion.

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Family is sole hope of humanity, says Spanish cardinal

Madrid, Spain, May 9, 2006 (CNA) - During the closing of the International Congress, “Europe for Life,” held this past weekend at the Catholic University of San Antonio in Murcia, Spain, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, Archbishop of Toledo, called the family “the sole hope of humanity.”

The cardinal made his statements during a talk on the cultural importance of the family.  He noted the “close relationship between the deterioration of the family and the attack on human life,” thus referring to terrorism and abortion as “examples of that attack.”

“Without a doubt,” the cardinal said, “the most serious injustice and oppression of the present time is that of the great multitude of defenseless human beings whose fundamental right to life is being squashed.”

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Church in Cuba wants to spark spiritual renewal

Havana, Cuba, May 9, 2006 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Havana announced that on September 8th, the feast of the patroness of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity, a new pastoral plan will be implemented in order to promote a spiritual renewal among the faithful.

“The previous Plan had as its priority the formation of (new) Christian faithful, but in a well-organized national survey, the Catholics of Cuba have overwhelmingly expressed their view that Catholics are need of spirituality,” Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, said in an interview published by the archdiocesan magazine.

The cardinal said the plan also aims to encourage the faithful to assume a more active and leading role in the transformation of Cuban society.  

Likewise, reports say that it will also foster the Church’s efforts at evangelization and pastoral action.

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