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Archive of May 12, 2006

Colombian bishops threaten civil disobedience, excommunication for creators of new abortion law

Bogotá, Colombia, May 12, 2006 (CNA) - In response to a ruling by Colombia’s Constitutional Court making the country the first in Latin America to legalize abortion, the country’s bishops said Thursday that civil disobedience may be necessary to resist the new immoral law. Likewise, Bogotá’s Archbishop, Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz is threatening excommunication against the responsible lawmakers.

The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro, rejected the Court’s decision to legalize abortion in certain cases and said it was a crime against human life.  “A door is being opened toward the elimination of the innocent lives of so many children who will not be allowed to live, we have always said this is wrong,” the archbishop said. 

“We continue to say that this is an act against the life of the unborn and it is immoral.”

Likewise, Cardinal Rubiano told Columbia’s El Tiempo newspaper that “all those who commit the crime, the sin of abortion, will be excommunicated immediately."

“This applies as well to those who foster or assist abortion,” he added, insinuating that the justices who passed the ruling to allow abortion in some cases, might be included in this excommunication, without mentioning them explicitly.

Cardinal Rubiano lamented that the justices did “open the door” for a broader legalization of abortion. “Draw your own conclusions,” he added, stressing that abortion is “a deliberate murder in the womb of the mother.”

For his part, Archbishop Castro said that “We must have a two-fold perspective, that is, to see the situation of the mother and help her in every way, but also look after the child, because nobody does it…Nobody looks after the baby, there is no consideration for a child that has been conceived, who tries to move forward in this world but has his possibilities cut off.”

The archbishop noted that in the conception through rape, “the child is innocent…the criminal should be punished and put in jail for a longtime, but the child should not have to pay for the sins of another.  He is an innocent baby. In this sense we defend the life of the baby as well.”

While Archbishop Castro underscored that a child conceived through rape is “the result of a deplorable action,” he emphasized that what exists in the mother’s womb is a child who committed no crime.  Many women who have conceived through rape, he noted, “accept their babies because they understand that the child is one thing, and the person responsible for the rape is another.”

The bishops of Tunja and Engativa decried the Justices for taking the easy way out and they noted that “not everything that is legal is moral.”  They said Colombians should question the legitimacy of the ruling.

“It is sad that the Justices have chosen the easy way, which is the path to crime,” said Bishop Hector Gutierrez Pabon of Engativa.  “In the Catholic Church, there is no such thing as a first, second or third class citizen and it should be this way also in society.”

“Many people will think that because it is legal it is okay.  No! What is legal is not always morally licit,” he added.


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When religion’s true nature is understood, it can help counter terrorism, Vatican representative tells U.N.

, May 12, 2006 (CNA) - The Holy See’s Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer to the United Nations, was in New York yesterday to take part in a General Assembly meeting gathered to explore counter terrorism strategies. The prelate stressed the need not only for political solutions, but also cultural and religious ones.

Archbishop Migliore began his address to the world body by first recalling the words of Pope Benedict XVI who, earlier this year, called on men and women of good will to unite in order to overcome the phenomenon of terrorism and build a just and peaceful society.
 
The Vatican representative said that the Pope feels “consideration should be given” not only to the political and social causes of terrorism, “but also to its deeper cultural, religious and ideological motivations."

For this reason, he said that the Holy See "is pleased to note that" the United Nations report on the subject "incorporates a cultural and religious component in its global strategy."

He stressed that "The Holy See is willing to support initiatives that encourage believers to be agents of peace. ... Moreover, when religion's true nature is rightly understood and lived out, it can become part of the solution rather than the problem."

He went on, saying that the United Nations should "encourage religions to make this important contribution on their own terms: that is, religions are called to create, support and promote the precondition of every encounter, every dialogue, and of every understanding of pluralism and cultural difference. That precondition ... is the dignity of the human person.”
 
This fact, the archbishop said, is of particular importance because "Our common human dignity is a true precondition because it comes before every other consideration or methodological principle, even those of international law. We see it in the 'Golden Rule,' found throughout the religions of the world."
 
In this light, he said that "Encouraging awareness and experience of this common heritage ... will surely help in the translation of this positive vision into political and social categories which will, in their turn, inform the juridical categories linked to national and international relations."
 
Stealing the wind from terrorists

Likewise, the U.N. observer pointed out that "the political, social and economic exclusion of immigrant communities stokes the frustration of young people and has led to breakdowns in order in some places; but the demand for a just solution to these questions remains a legitimate one.
 
"By resolving such questions swiftly and justly,” he said, “nations can rob terrorists of the oxygen of hatred and of grievances, real or imagined, by which they attempt to legitimize their evil deeds and recruit the impressionable."
 
“Counter-terrorism”, Archbishop Migliore said in closing, “must be characterized by denying the moral high ground to terrorists. This is just one reason why the treatment of terrorists and suspects should be according to international humanitarian norms."
 

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Hong Kong cardinal chides: Chinese government has no right to ordain bishops

Vatican City, May 12, 2006 (CNA) - The Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, reminded the Chinese government his week that it has no real authority to ordain bishops and said he would not mediate talks with the Holy See aimed at getting the Church to accept China’s conditions for establishing diplomatic ties.

“If the position of Beijing is that of appropriating authority to ordain bishops and to maintain a Patriotic Association that is above everything, it will bring no good to the country and will not be accepted by the majority of clergy and faithful,” he said in press release published by the South China Morning Post.

Beijing has insisted on two points for re-establishing ties with the Vatican:  First, that the Vatican recognize China’s authority to appoint bishops, and second, that the Vatican break its ties with Taiwan.  China broke of ties with the Vatican in 1953, when the Holy See’s representative was expelled by Mao Zedong.

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Vatican prepares for anniversaries of first Fatima appearance, JPII assassination attempt on Saturday

Vatican City, May 12, 2006 (CNA) - Officials at the Vatican are preparing to recognize two major anniversaries tomorrow. May 13th marks both the 89th anniversary of the first appearance of the Virgin Mary to 3 children in Fatima, Portugal and the 25th anniversary of the failed assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in St. Peter‘s Square.

For the occasion, a reproduction of the statue which resides at the shrine of Fatima will travel by helicopter to the Vatican before being part of a procession--led by Cardinal Ivan Dias, archbishop of Bombay, India--along the Via della Conciliazione and into St. Peter’s Basilica.

As the statue and procession cross St. Peter’s Square, all will stop for a moment at the spot where John Paul II was shot by Mehmet Ali Agca in 1981.

Some 20,000 pilgrims are expected to gather in Rome for the celebration of the 2nd annual World Day of Pilgrims, sponsored by the “Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi.”
 
Following the procession, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the Diocese of Rome will celebrate Mass in the basilica, before attending a celebration and fireworks show in St. Peter’s Square in memory of the late Pope.

In honor of the occasion, the Vatican has also placed a white, marble memorial, bearing John Paul’s coat of arms and the date of the attempt at the exact location where the shooting occurred.
 

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Tom Hanks defends Da Vinci Code as ‘fun, scavenger hunt nonsense’ not attack on faith

Los Angeles, Calif., May 12, 2006 (CNA) - As the controversial Da Vinci Code movie is set to be released next Friday, actors and production officials continued trying to answer the film’s critics. Star Tom Hanks offered his own comments trying to dissuade critics by saying that the “story we tell is loaded with all sorts of hooey and fun kind of scavenger-hunt-type nonsense.”

In comments to the British ‘Evening Standard, Hanks tried to convince people to see the movie more as an entertainment, and to put into perspective the serious implications of the movies content against faith.

"If you are going to take any sort of movie at face value, particularly a huge-budget motion picture like this, you'd be making a very big mistake,” he added.

"It's a damn good story and a lot of fun.... That never hurts,” he concluded.

The Da Vinci Code will make its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next Wednesday.

Cardinal Angelo Amato on the other hand, recently described the novel as "stridently anti-Christian" and called for believers to "reject the lies and gratuitous defamation" in the book.

He added: "If such lies and errors had been directed at the Koran and Holocaust they would have justly provoked a world uprising. Instead, if they are directed against the church and Christians, they remain unpunished. I hope you will boycott the film."

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U.S. House rejects military abortion bill

Washington D.C., May 12, 2006 (CNA) - The House of Representatives Wednesday rejected a measure which would have allowed military women to obtain surgical abortions at U.S. military hospitals using private funds.

This is the tenth year that the House has rejected such an amendment to the defense authorization bill, reported United Press International. In 1996, Congress banned abortions — even if paid with an individual’s personal funds — at federally funded facilities, including military hospitals.

The amendment, tabled by New Jersey Democrat Robert Andrews, was defeated 237 to 191; 30 Democrats joined House Republicans to defeat the amendment.

Military women who are overseas and want abortions, have to take personal leave or vacation time to fly to the U.S. or another country where abortion is legal. However, military hospitals may provide the abortifacient RU-486 in cases of rape or when the woman's life is in danger.

Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, was pleased with the House vote. “The military shouldn’t be deployed against unborn babies,” he said in a press release.

There are nearly 200,000 women in the U.S. military; 12,000 are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Vatican officials decry religious ignorance of ‘Da Vinci Code’

Rome, Italy, May 12, 2006 (CNA) - Three top Vatican officials have expressed dismay at what they see as a clear religious ignorance evident in book “The Da Vinci Code,” which will make its film debut on May 18th.

During a conference on religion and literature in Rome, the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Paul Poupard, said the Dan Brown book seriously distorts the history of the Church and takes advantage of the ignorance of many Catholics about their faith in order to confuse reality with fiction.  

“The lack of basic knowledge makes it difficult to distinguish between fables, fantasies and attacks on the history and values of the Church,” he noted.

Commenting on one scene that focused on the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Julian Herranz, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, said it seemed “like something from a movie about the mafia, a kind of gangster meeting in Chicago.”  

He said the Church had "to urge people to do some reading (so they can) confront lies with the truth of the Christian faith."

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said he had no doubt that both the novel and the film show a great ignorance about the true history of Christ and of the Church.

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Anti-pornography advocates pleased as .XXX domain proposal crumbles

Washington D.C., May 12, 2006 (CNA) - The five-year battle over whether the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) should implement a .xxx domain for porn sites finally ended after the private agency rejected the proposal this week in a 9-5 vote.

The .xxx domain proposal had been floating around since 2001, but the decision on it was delayed several times. Proponents argued that the domain would make it easier to keep track of porn sites. Opponents argued that the domain would legitimize pornography and lead to greater state control over the creation of pornographic content, reported TG Daily News.

Last June, ICANN voted to give the project preliminary approval. But this was delayed in August 2005 at the request of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which said that it had "concerns" over the proposal.

Concerned Women of America (CWA) applauded ICANN’s decision. Jan LaRue, CWA’s chief counsel said she met with officials at the U.S. Department of Commerce last year to express vigorous opposition to the porn domain. According to LaRue, after thousands of e-mails were sent to the Department of Commerce, the Bush administration announced its own opposition to the domain. Letters of opposition were also sent to Paul Twomey, CEO of ICANN.

“We objected for many reasons but the most obvious was that porn sites would be free to keep all of their current domains, such as .com, and add the .xxx domain,” LaRue said in a press release.

“This vote proves the power of regular folks when they raise their voices against the power-brokers who think they can run the universe without opposition. This is a win against a multi-million dollar, six-year effort on behalf of the porn industry,” she said.

Twomey told journalists that the ICANN board’s decision “was not driven by a political consideration.” But that didn’t stop EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding of accusing the U.S. Department of Commerce of "political interference in ICANN,” reported TG Daily News.

Some proponents have accused the U.S. of wanting to maintain control over the Internet. In order to make a change to the domain name structure ICANN would need the approval of the US Department of Commerce.

According to the TG Daily News report, some people accuse the U.S. of espousing a "hands off" policy in public, but of being responsible behind the scenes for delaying and then killing the .xxx domain.

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Group says Democratic support was key passage of South Dakota anti-abortion bill

Washington D.C., May 12, 2006 (CNA) - Democrats For Life of America commended the South Dakota legislature for recently approving a bill that will prohibit abortion in the state, noting that the vote from pro-life Democrats was critical to the ultimate passage of the bill.

“Pro-life Democrats in South Dakota saved the day on this bill,” said Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats For Life, in a May 11 press release. “There were just as many Democrats who voted for this legislation as there were Republicans voting against it. So when it comes to protecting the unborn, pro-life Democrats stepped in and gave the voiceless, a voice in South Dakota.”

The groundbreaking legislation passed both chambers of the South Dakota legislature. Pro-life Democratic Senator Julie Bartling introduced the legislation in the Senate. One-third of House Democrats, including three women, sponsored the House version.

This bill builds on successive laws that discouraged abortion. Most recently, in 2005, the South Dakota legislature passed a law requiring doctors to provide accurate information about the possible emotional and physical side effects of abortion, including statistics that show there are higher suicide rates among post-abortive women, as well as the legal and financial responsibilities of the father.

Democrats For Life of America was founded in 1999 to elect pro-life Democrats, support pro-life elected officials, promote a pro-life plank in the Democratic Party platform and achieve legislation that fosters respect for human life.

For more information, go to www.DemocratsForLife.Org

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U.K. bishops call on government to take urgent action against human trafficking

London, England, May 12, 2006 (CNA) - Stating that current measures to protect victims of human trafficking in the United Kingdom are inadequate, the bishops of England and Wales are urging the British government to sign and implement the Council of Europe’s Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings.

In a press release issued May 10, the bishops welcomed the government’s public consultation on its national action plan against trafficking. They also reminded policymakers that, “the dignity and human rights of the person and maintaining the integrity of the family have always to be central to the formulation of anti-trafficking policies.”

But they insisted that the convention be signed in the meantime, as it is currently “the only international law that provides minimum standards of victim protection, support and redress.”

Trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation is a criminal offence in the UK, but the bishops sadly noted that “trafficked people are often treated as illegal immigrants, rather than victims of an evil trade in human suffering.”

The bishops stated that thousands are trafficked to the United Kingdom each year from Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and the former Soviet Republics and coerced through threats of violence into sexual exploitation and forced labor.

The bishops expressed particular concern for the welfare of children and women trafficked for sexual exploitation. “These crimes are an offence to the dignity and integrity of human beings,” they stressed.

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Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, British religious authorities urge Parliament against euthanasia bill.

London, England, May 12, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster has signed a joint letter with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, urging opposition to the controversial Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill that would allow terminally ill patients to request euthanasia from their doctors.

The Bill is currently being debated in the House of Lords.

The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and nine of his Episcopal colleagues joined an impassioned debate in the House of Lords today to oppose a controversial Bill that would give terminally ill patients the right to an assisted death.

“We believe that all human life is sacred and God-given with a value that is inherent, not conditional,” the joint statement, published in the London Times begins.

The three men said they feared that a right to die would soon become a "duty to die," adding, "Were such a law enacted, the elderly, lonely, sick or distressed would find themselves under pressure, real or imagined, to ask for an early death. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that economic pressures might not come to play a significant part in determining whether to treat or recommend assisted death."

Finally, they wished to stress the “acute implications for others — relatives, friends, colleagues, medical professionals and the wider community.”

“As such, any change in the law would irrevocably change the delicate relationship of trust between patient and doctor and between citizen and society,” the letter concludes.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor also teamed up with Dr Rowan Williams for a rare joint interview on the BBC today.

To read full statement:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-2175950,00.html

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Spanish Minister of Justice says government will not seek legalization of euthanasia…for now

Madrid, Spain, May 12, 2006 (CNA) - The Socialist government in Spain has decided not to use an upcoming reform of the country’s Penal Code to legalize euthanasia, according to Minister of Justice, Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar.  The announcement came as left-wing lawmakers restarted debate on the issue in the wake of an apparent assisted suicide by a severely handicapped man.

According to the ABC newspaper, before the announcement, the country’s Health Minister, Elena Salgado, had indicated there was not a consensus in Spain on the legalization of euthanasia.  “This is a debate that should not take place at this time,” she said.

Writer Lopez Aguilar emphasized that the government considers “sufficient” the consensus achieved in 1995, when Spain’s laws on health care were relaxed to allow for the omission of treatments that are “beyond what is humanly possible to bear.”  

The Justice Minister said that while the government will move ahead with its plan to reform the Penal Code, it will not seek any changes in the laws referring to euthanasia.  It will, however, seek to bolster “the will and autonomy” of patients in other areas, such as palliative care, cases of terminal illness or informed consent in order to receive certain treatments.

Left-wing lawmakers said they intended to present a bill that would regulate euthanasia and the “right” to death with dignity.

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