Archive of June 20, 2006

Supreme Court to review second partial-birth abortion case

Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2006 (CNA) - Yesterday the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of a second partial-birth abortion case and the outcome could mean an end to the procedure.  

The appeal to be heard may overturn a ruling by the 8th Circuit court of appeals that invalidated a 2003 law banning partial-birth abortions, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Bush.

The Supreme Court had already agreed to hear an appeal to a similar ruling passed down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.  The rulings under review represent two of three cases brought forward by the abortion industry immediately after the 2003 law was passed.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, a pro-life law firm, told LifeNews yesterday, "The Supreme Court took a significant step today that clearly puts the issue of partial-birth abortion front-and-center."

"By taking a second case involving the constitutionality of the national ban on partial-birth abortion, the Supreme Court puts the spotlight on one of the most horrific medical procedures in existence today," he added.

Although the Supreme Court overturned a ban on partial-birth abortion passed by the State of Nebraska in 2000, many think that recent personnel changes may effect the way the Court will rule this time.  The majority opinion for the 2000 case, which was decided by a 5-4 ruling, was written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.  O’Connor has since been replaced by Justice Samuel Alito, who many think will decide in favor of legislation banning the procedure.

Recent testimony of doctors may also have an effect on the ruling.  The 2000 Nebraska law was ruled unconstitutional because it failed to include a provision allowing for abortion in the case that the mother’s life was endangered.  According to LifeNews, doctors have since testified that the three-day long abortion procedure is never necessary to save the life or health of the mother and could cause a host of medical complications for her.

Partial-birth abortion, or what pro-abortion doctors prefer to call an “intact dilation and extraction,” involves a abortion practitioner partially birthing the baby from the mother's womb and inserting surgical scissors into the base of the baby's skull to kill her.  The baby is then pulled from the womb of the mother and discarded.  

LifeNews estimates the annual number of partial-birth abortions occurring in the U.S. to be between 5,000-10,000.   The abortions primarily occur during the fifth and sixth months of pregnancy on health mothers and health babies.  Most polls show that somewhere near two-thirds of Americans feel partial-birth abortion should be illegal in almost all cases

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Pope affirms rights of refugees and challenges Church to respond

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI asked Sunday that the rights of refugees “always be respected” and encouraged church communities “to respond to their needs.”

The Pope made these remarks after praying the Angelus on Sunday. His comments were in anticipation of World Refugee Day, an initiative promoted by the United Nations, which is being marked around the world today, June 20.

World Refugee Day, said the Holy Father, "seeks to draw the attention of the international community to the plight of so many people who are forced, because of grave forms of violence, to flee their own lands."
"These, our brothers and sisters, seek refuge in other countries, animated by the hope of returning to their own homeland or, at least, of finding hospitality in the places where they have sought shelter," he continued.

Millions are expected to mark World Refugee Day this year.

"All of us can do our part to give hope to the uprooted," the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said Monday, adding: "World Refugee Day is part of that common effort as we gather on June 20 in cities and towns, in refugee camps and in remote settlements to pay tribute to the courageous, unwavering hope of the world's refugees - and to assure them that they are not forgotten.”

In Geneva, Switzerland, home of UNHCR, the city's iconic 140-metre-high fountain as well as other public buildings around the country will be bathed in blue - the color of the United Nations - and World Refugee Day banners will line the Mont Blanc Bridge. Australia will do likewise in Canberra, illuminating the old parliament building and other landmarks.

In Ecuador, refugees will paint a mural on a wall in the city of Ibarra. It will become a permanent mark of the city's solidarity with refugees. The UNHCR office in Lago Agrio, near the border with Colombia, will organize a cultural and trade fair where refugees and Ecuadoreans will play sports and enjoy traditional music and food.

A major celebration is planned at the National Geographic Grosvenor Auditorium in Washington, where a senior US State Department official is slated to give a speech to increase awareness of refugee issues and a young refugee will talk about her experiences and the hope theme.

There are about 20.8 million displaced people in the world, including some 8.4 million refugees. More than 5 million refugees have been in exile for five years or longer.

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Pro-life group to lead prayer campaign for 2006 elections

Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2006 (CNA) - Priests for Life will lead an 18-week prayer campaign, starting July 4, to prepare the nation for the 2006 elections.

The two nine-week periods of prayer will conclude Nov. 7, which is Election Day.

“The intentions of the campaign are that citizens take an active role in the elections and understand that the most important issue is abortion,” said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.

A special website,, has been set up for the prayer campaign. People are invited to say each day a prayer specially composed for the campaign. The prayer can be found on the website, and visitors can indicate online their intention to participate.

Priests for Life is also publishing a booklet, called “Ten Easy Steps to Voting with a Clear Conscience”, to accompany the campaign.

Priests for Life was recently recognized as one of the top 20 Christian political organizations in the United States.

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Cardinal Sodano says that he will stop being Secretary State when the pope wants

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2006 (CNA) - The Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, confronted speculation by the press about his possible departure and affirmed that he will be in his position as long as, “the Pope wants.”

Several news sources have recently said that Cardinal Sodano will be leaving his post and will be replaced by Cardinal Tarscisio Bertone, Archbishop of Genova.  Some papers have gone as far as claiming that Pope Benedict XVI has already signed the appointment.

"I see you have very noisy colleagues who are always looking for new events,” Cardinal Sodano told Italian newspaper L'Eco di Bergamo. “Saint Paul used to speak in his time about some Christians who had ‘itching ears' that always desire to seek new sensations. Maybe they don't know the way we work (in the Vatican): with order and serenity.”

The cardinal also said that "years pass for everybody. I look forward to handing-off my dicastery when the Pope wants". He said decisions in the Holy See are never rushed. "I’ve met four cardinals who have been State Secretary in my 45 years of service to the Vatican.  They were all an example of calm work in order to serve the Pope well. Each of us passes-away and the Church goes on."

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Baghdad Bishop says people are frightened but strong in faith

Konigstein, Germany, Jun 20, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Andreas Abouna, Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad, has told Aid to the Church in Need that a recent attack on a church in his diocese demonstrates the daily fear that his people live in and the faith that they continue to display.

Bishop Abouna described how a parish community spent the night consoling their traumatised parish priest after a rocket was fired at his church.  Father Jamil Nissan narrowly escaped with his life when the bomb smashed through a wall at the Church of the Ascension, in the east of Baghdad about 10 days ago. The church hall was damaged but nobody was hurt. As news spread of the disaster, parishioners rushed to the church and stayed with the priest until morning in an attempt to calm his nerves.

Abouna praised the courage and faith of his people at a “desperate and very tense” time. The prelate said that he is now to the point of “expecting” attacks at any time.

“Of course, the people here are frightened,” he added, “but there is something stronger than their fear - it is their faith. When the people were told about the attack on the church, they telephoned the priest. They were very aware that the priest was alone, that as a human being he was very afraid. They wanted to stay with him.”

According to Bishop Abouna, nobody has admitted responsibility for the attack, but he is convinced that it was a deliberate assault on the Christian community.

The bishop said the incident was part of a growing cycle of violence, which the government is trying to stem with “very severe” curfews. “People are desperate,” he stated. “They have waited three years for peace and they are still waiting. This makes people very sad; they feel that there is no solution for them.”

“We always ask why the churches are targeted,” the Bishop lamented, “They are places of peace and prayer - just somewhere for Christians to come together and be happy - nothing more than that.”

Bishop Abouna also responded to reports that Christians were being targeted as alleged sympathisers with so-called ‘crusader’ forces, saying: “People here understand that we are Christians. They know that this does not mean we are one and the same as the West.”

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Mexican cardinal calls on candidates to respect election results

Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 20, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, has called on presidential candidates to respect the results of the upcoming July 2 elections no matter how close the margin of victory is, in order to prevent a long period of transition between the two administrations.
“Democracy must be respected,” the cardinal continued, and “even if someone wins by just one vote,” the results should be accepted to avoid any negative impact on the economy or the government.  Cardinal Rivera also repeated his call to Mexicans to get out and vote for new leaders.
Cardinal Rivera said he is confident in the country’s electoral institutions, but he said he would not be surprised to see negative campaigning continue right up to election day.  He expressed his hope that when elections have concluded, the country would come together in unity.
The Archdiocese of Mexico’s weekly newspaper, “Desde la Fe,” chided Mexicans for giving more importance to the soccer’s World Cup than to their own national elections.  “Soccer is only a momentary pastime, while political involvement is a commitment for everyone, which defines the way we live together and the development of our country both now and in the future,” the article indicated. 

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Spanish bishop says public expression of faith is a right, not a “concession” from government

Madrid, Spain, Jun 20, 2006 (CNA) - During his homily for the Solemnity of Corpus Christ, Bishop Demetrio Fernandez Gonzalez, of Tarazona, said this week that the public expression of one’s faith “is not just some privilege that public officials grant us,” but rather “a right that we exercise.”
“In expressing publicly our faith,” Bishop Fernandez continued, “we are exercising a civil right that is rooted in the religious freedom of a free country.  It is not some privilege that is granted by public officials.  It is a right that we exercise in a civil way and as citizens.”
The Spanish bishop maintained that the expression of religious faith is not something that should be merely tolerated, but respected, “as the free expression of those who profess that faith, as part of a pluralistic society and, therefore, favored by those who should be looking after the common good of citizens.”
Bishop Fernandez went on to chide those who “proclaim a secular state in which religion is relegated to the private sphere of conscience” and churches in which “the state promotes a neutrality in which anything goes.”  The free exercise of religion should foster a coexistence and respect for others who believe differently, he continued, “but not preventing those who do believe from expressing their faith on the streets, in public life, in politics, education and all areas of life.”
“One who is a believer should not act as if he weren’t.  He should be recognized as one and should defend an outlook on life proper to a believer, wherever he happens to be.  This is not about defending an official State confession, but we should not allow a non-confessional, secular and atheist State to be imposed upon a society in which there are an abundance of believers,” the bishops noted.

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Church not asking to be official religion of the State, Bolivian cardinal says

La Paz, Bolivia, Jun 20, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Cardinal Julio Terrazas, exhorted Bolivians not to be fooled by certain congressional candidates who are misleading people by claiming that the Church is asking that Catholicism be the official religion of Bolivia.
During his Sunday homily, the cardinal noted that with congressional elections just days away, some candidates are claming that if they are elected, “they are going to request that the Church not be the official religion.”  Cardinal Terrazas countered by saying the bishops are not seeking or fighting to achieve such a goal, and that as recently as one month ago, they said they were open to proposals to review the Bolivian constitution’s article establishing religious freedom and granting recognition to the role of the Church.
“They keep saying we are fighting for that article.  Not so!  Let it be reviewed, but let it be done intelligently and fully.  Let’s not deny that this country has truly received the seeds of the Kingdom of justice and of truth that the Lord has brought, and that that has been part of her history, and that is why in so many parts of Bolivia we are proud to be Catholics,” the cardinal noted. He pointed out that the Bolivian constitution has not established any one religion as “official” since 1967.
The Church is simply asking for “respect” and “recognition of the work she has done.”  “We are not afraid of Bolivia becoming a secular state,” Cardinal Terrazas continued.  However, he denounced that those who constantly use that phrase “are hiding their other intentions.” Secularism, the cardinal warned, seeks to remove the faith and “order a country in such a way that God is not present.”  Such an agenda constitutes a threat to the fundamental human right to freely express one’s love of God, he said.
Article 3 of the Bolivian constitution states: “The State recognizes and sustains the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Religion.  It guarantees the public exercise of all other faiths.  Relations with the Catholic Church shall be governed by concordats and agreements between the Bolivian State and the Holy See.”

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Mexican bishop says, “without disrespect,” homosexuals have no right to be fathers

Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 20, 2006 (CNA) - During Mass this past Sunday, which was also observed as Father’s Day in many countries, Bishop Benjamin Castillo Plascencia of Tabasco said homosexuals don’t have the right to be fathers “because they cannot give an example of true masculinity.”
Homosexuals “find it hard to understand that there is a certain deficiency, a certain error, and therefore there is a natural limitation that must be accepted,” the bishops said at the end of Mass.

“They cannot give an example of true masculinity, there is a deficiency there that must be acknowledged, without showing disrespect for them in any way,” Bishop Castillo stated. 
The bishop also explained that simply procreating without a commitment does not make one a father.  To be a father one must “be dedicated and supportive not only with food or by just being a good provider, but also by entering into dialogue and closeness with one’s children.”

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