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Archive of June 29, 2006

Parental notification initiative moves into hands of California voters

Sacramento, Calif., Jun 29, 2006 (CNA) - A new initiative requiring doctors who wish to perform an abortion on a minor to wait 48 hours after informing her parents has made it on to California’s general election ballot where this November, it will pass into the hands of the state’s voters.

The Parents Right to Know and Child Protection initiative has received broad bi-partisan support from around the state and many parts of the nation.

Paul Laubacher, one of the initiative’s organizers said in a statement that, "We collected over one million signatures in just over three months and from every one of California’s 58 counties…This shows the wide public support for requiring a doctor to notify a parent before performing an abortion on a minor daughter -- who may be 12 or 13 years old or even younger."

“Certainly”, he said, “a mother or father would want to be at least notified before any invasive surgical or medical procedure is performed by an unknown doctor on their minor child.  It's just common sense and good public health policy to protect the health and safety of young girls."

A similar initiative, then known as Proposition 73, failed to pass a Special Election in November, 2005, although proponents point to its slim defeat.

One sticking point which may raise concern among pro-life advocates is that the new initiative allows for a minor to obtain permission from a judge to go ahead with the abortion without her parent’s consent if she can prove that it is necessary.

Nevertheless, proponents of the initiative say that they are hopeful that it will have a profound impact on protecting minors from older sexual predators and exploitation.

The initiative’s organizers point to a recent study showing that of 46,000 pregnancies among school-age girls in California, some two-thirds were impregnated by an adult male whose mean age was 22.6.

Added Laubacher: "We want to make sure parents find out about this exploitation, so they can help their daughters get out of such destructive situations.”

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Ministry of Peter is united to the suffering of Christ

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2006 (CNA) - The Pope celebrated Mass today for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, a feast on which Catholics traditionally remember the Petrine ministry of the Pope.  The Holy Father discussed during his Homily, Peter’s service to the Church in relation to the suffering and death of Christ.

What did the Lord mean when he said to Peter, “You are rock and upon this rock I will build my Church?”  With this question, Pope Benedict XVI, the successor of St. Peter, began his homily.  With a large crowd gathered within the Basilica of St. Peter, the Holy Father considered the significance of his predecessor to the Church of the 21st century.  “What exactly is the Lord telling Peter with these words,” the Pope asked, “What do they promise him and with what do they charge him?  And what do they say to us - to the Bishop of Rome, seated here in the chair of Peter, to the Church of today?”

Pope Benedict said that to answer these questions, it is helpful to recall three different points in the Gospels in which, in three different ways, Lord gives Peter his particular assignment.  Though each point concerns the same assignment, he said, from the differences in situations and the images used it is possible to determine an answer to the questions as to what the Lord desires for Peter and for the Church today.

In the Gospel of Mathew, the Holy Father said, are three particular images of great importance to us concerning Peter - the naming of Peter as the rock on which Christ would build His Church, the giving of the keys, and the declaration of Apostles’ power to bind and unbind things on earth and in heaven.  Rather than discussing those images which, the Pope said, have been repeatedly covered over the centuries, the Holy Father wished to discuss the location and timing of the Lord’s words to Peter.  Benedict said it is very important that the promises made to Peter take place at the mouth of the Jordan, at the border of the Jewish and pagan worlds.  The importance of the moment is also of note, for it is at this time that the Lord begins his walk to Jerusalem, his walk to crucifixion.  “This is the first time,” Benedict said, “that the Lord tells his disciples that the way to the Holy City is a way to the Cross, ‘From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised’.”(Mt. 16:21)  

“Both things,” the Pope said, “go together and determine the inner place of the Primacy (of Peter), in fact, of the Church in general: the Lord is continually on a journey towards the Cross, towards the lowliness of the suffering and murdered servant of God, but at the same time, He is also headed for the vastness of the world, in which He goes before us as the Risen Lord, so that the light of His Word and the presence of His love may shine in the world.”  In this way the Lord demonstrates that “for the Church Holy Friday and the Passover always exist together.”

Thus, Benedict continued, “the Church - and Christ within it - still suffers today. In the Church, Christ is relentlessly mocked and stricken over and again; there are always efforts to push it out of the world. The small boat of the Church is forever being buffeted by the wind of ideologies that penetrate it with their waters, seemingly condemning it to sink. And yet, in the midst of the suffering Church, Christ is victorious. Notwithstanding everything, faith in Him is renewed in strength again and again. Still today, the Lord commands the waters and reveals himself as the Lord of the elements. He stays on his boat, the ship of the Church. Thus, is also revealed, even through the ministry of Peter the weakness of that which comes from man, on the one hand, but together as well with the strength of God.”

The Holy Father then discussed the Gospel of St. Luke and the Last Supper, “at which the Lord confers a special assignment to Peter.”  The Pope discussed how Peter would be faced with great challenges from Satan, but would be strengthened by Christ Himself.

Immediately after the institution of the Sacrament, the Pope said, Christ speaks of what it means to be disciples, in the “ministry”, of the new community: he says that this is to make a commitment of service as Christ Himself came among them to serve. And turning to Peter, “Jesus continues: ‘I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail’ (Lk. 22:32). The prayer of Jesus is a limit imposed on the power of evil. The prayers of Jesus are a protection for the Church. We can seek refuge under this protection, cling to it and be sure of it. But, as the Gospel tells us, Jesus prayed especially for Peter: ‘that your faith may not fail’. There it is: don’t ever allow this faith to become dumb, always reinvigorate it, even in the face of the cross and all the contradictions of the world - this is the task of Peter. This is precisely why the Lord does not only pray for the personal faith of Peter but for his faith in the service of others. This is what He means when He says: ‘and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers’ (Lk22:32).”

The pontiff then, very briefly mentioned a scene of Peter in the Gospel of John (21:15-19). Recalling the scene of the resurrection, Pope Benedict said, “The Lord rose and as the Risen Lord he entrusted his flock to Peter. Here too, the Cross and the Resurrection are intertwined. In his words to Peter, Jesus portends his journey towards the cross. In this Basilica, erected over the tomb of Peter - a pauper’s grave - we see that the Lord, thus, through the Cross, always triumphs. His power is not a power according to the rules of this world. It is a power of goodness, of truth and love, which is stronger than death. Yes, his promise is true: the power of death, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church He built for Peter (cfr Mt 16:18), and that He, precisely in this way, continues to edify in person.”

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New bill proposes to limit abortions in Canada

Ottawa, Canada, Jun 29, 2006 (CNA) - A new bill tabled in the Canadian Parliament last week proposes to limit abortion to 20 weeks gestation. Currently, there are no limits to abortion in Canada, making it available at any point in a woman’s pregnancy.

The bill was tabled June 21 by Liberal MP Paul Steckle. Bill C-338, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (procuring a miscarriage after twenty weeks of gestation), would make those who perform an abortion after 20 weeks gestation guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment of up to five years, or else jail for up to two years and/or a fine up to $100,000.

The bill provides for exceptions where abortion beyond 20 weeks would be permitted "to save the life of a woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself" and also to "prevent severe, pathological, physical morbidity of the woman."

Pro-life groups in Canada are encouraged by the bill. The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) said the bill is “a step in the right direction.”

“We hope that the members of the Canadian Parliament will take advantage of this occasion to reconsider the best interests of Canada as regards the protection of the human fetus,” said Michele Boulva of COLF in a statement. “This law would enable them to limit the damage that is caused to Canadian society by abortion.”

Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), the political arm of the pro-life movement in Canada, applauded the initiative.

"Every poll on the abortion issue, taken in the last 10 years, has indicated that a majority of Canadians favor some restrictions," Mary Ellen Douglas, CLC national organizer told Lifesite. "Too often, political parties have ignored the wishes of the people to discuss crucial issues and have feared even to address the abortion topic.”

The latest statistics from October 2005 showed that 60 per cent of Canadians would like to see human life legally protected some time prior to birth (either at conception or after three or six months of pregnancy).

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Pope welcomes Orthodox Delegation, declares intent to visit Turkey

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI received today a delegation from Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, who were sent to Rome to celebrate the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, patrons of the Church of Rome.  The Holy Father emphasized the close relation of the Roman and Eastern Churches and thanked the Delegates for their visit.

The Holy Father began his message by echoing the greeting of St. Peter in his second letter, "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2 Pet 1:1-2).  “These words,” the Pope said, “call to mind our common faith and the mystery of the salvation we have received, a gift which we must pass on to the men and women of our day.”

The Pontiff then made known his continued desire, “to eliminate all dissonance from the choir of the one Church of Christ,” and unite the two Churches.  Benedict pointed out a title given to Peter by the Eastern Church of, protocoryphaeus, which, Benedict said, is, “a title charged with meaning, that of the first in the choir who has the task of maintaining the harmony of the voices, for the glory of God and the service of his people.”

The Holy Father said that he hopes to return the gesture of their visit by taking part in the celebrations on the occasion of the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, in Turkey.  Andrew, who was the brother of Saint Peter, is seen as the patron of the Orthodox Churches.  “I am certain,” the Pope said, “that this mutual exchange will strengthen our ecclesial fraternity and facilitate collaboration in our common initiatives.”

“May the Lord help us,” Benedict concluded, “to move forward with renewed confidence towards the day when we will be able to celebrate together the Holy Eucharist of the Lord, as a sign of full communion.”

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A super savior? New ‘Superman’ film prompts strong religious emotions

Los Angeles, Calif., Jun 29, 2006 (CNA) - Yesterday, the long awaited ‘Superman Returns’ movie hit theaters amid a strong buzz of religious interest. While many are praising the film for it’s heavy Judeo-Christian imagery, others are concerned about a potentially Da Vinci Code-esque  picture of savior.

An article in Newsweek, published earlier this month, recalled that, “In the original 1978 movie as well as in the new one, the superhero’s father says to him about mankind: ‘They can be a great people . . . They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all - their capacity for good - I’ve sent them you, my only son.’”

"Yes," the author concludes, “Superman is a Christ figure.”

Likewise, Steven Graydanus, a reviewer for the National Catholic Register praises the film for its positive portrayal of the superhero. He writes that in the years since the Superman I and II movies of 1979 and 1981, the film world has seen a “succession of darker, grimmer cinematic super heroes: Batman, Wolverine, Daredevil. This long absence is reflected in the title as well as the plot of ‘Superman Returns‘, directed by Brian Singer, whose two ‘X-Men’ movies helped resurrect the superhero genre after Joel Schumacher’s ‘Batman’ sequels killed it.”

However some, like Daniel Pulliam, writer for the web log GetReligion.org, says that with ‘Superman’s’ release, America may not have seen the end of controversial religious movies for the year.

“While there seems to be plenty of surface material for Christians to appreciate about this film,” he writes, “beneath the surface there is the potential for the movie to attract a Da Vinci-ish controversy. But since this is a comic book-based movie, no one will really care. Or will they?”

He points to a recent Time magazine review which compares ‘Superman Returns’ to the recent Dan Brown novel-made-movie. In it, author Richard Corliss writes, ”The movie cogently ransacks elements from all kinds of myths, classic and modern. Superman is the god who fell to earth, enduring a cycle of death and transfiguration. And since he has sired a boy who is part human, he could be the Jesus of the Gnostic Gospels. And Lois? Mary Magdalene!”

Many Gnostic gospels taught that Jesus was either not truly divine or not truly human--both concepts declared heretical by the Catholic Church. The Da Vinci Code also suggested that Jesus had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene who bore him children.

In a similar vein, the Dallas Morning News recently quoted Reg Grant, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary who said that ’Superman Returns’ holds a “vital difference from the message of Christianity: The caped, comic book ‘savior’ is not sent to save people from their own evil. ‘He comes to help us find our potential.’”

“In fact,” the article said, “the new movie, despite its Christ imagery, could hardly be less theological. There’s nothing of prayer or heaven. Superman offers salvation only from the perils of this world.”

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Bishops slam proposal to sterilize poor in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 29, 2006 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Argentina issued a statement this week expressing their complete rejection of a bill being debated in the country’s House of Representatives which would legalize hysterectomies and vasectomies.

In their statement, the bishops underscored that such procedures “are mutilations that deprive the person of the functions of a healthy organ.  For this reason they are not therapeutic (they do not cure an illness but rather nullify the normal functioning of the body) and their legalization constitutes a violation of the human right to corporal integrity thus falling into an unsalvageable unconstitutionality.”

The statement comes as a group of lawmakers has put forward the bill claiming it is necessary to help the poor.  The bishops slammed the proposal as a “form of discrimination against those who are most poor, as sterilization does not solve poverty and is simply limited to preventing new births.”

“Socio-economic problems require socio-economic solutions, not medical ones,” the bishops stated.  “Unfortunately the aforementioned bill is just a repeat of the solutions of the wild liberalism of the past decade that have been tried already in other countries,” they continued.  Such strategic health plans result in “those most poor being forced to undergo practices that limit them for life” and which they will never be able to undo.

The Peruvian case

In their statement the Argentinean bishops made an indirect reference to the case of Peru, where the approval of a similar sterilization law led to a massive forced-sterilization campaign that left more than 100 women dead and 90,000 sterilized against their will.  The US Congress condemned the program as a violation of human rights.

The bishops called on each Argentinean representative and on society in general to seek out real solutions to poverty and to become instruments for the common good and for the development of persons and families, “respecting the dignity and integrity of the human being.”

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New Catholic high school makes college a reality for Kansas City’s low income residents

Kansas City, Mo., Jun 29, 2006 (CNA) - A new Catholic high school is making waves in the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas--and providing a college preparatory education to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

Christo Rey Catholic high school will open its doors this August for its first class of low-income students from around metropolitan Kansas City.

113 students gathered for orientation on June 19th where they were instructed on topics ranging from dressing for success, team building, and workplace ethics--all of which, school officials hope, will help them succeed in the school’s mandatory work-study program.

The school’s unique approach will allow students to work at any of 30 participating local businesses, using their pay to cover all or most of their tuition costs. This, Christo Rey officials hope, will help build a work ethic which will prepare students for college and life goals thereafter.

The school, whose stated mission is to “provide a Catholic, college prep education enhanced by an innovative corporate work-study program to culturally diverse students with economic need,” is modeled after a similar one in Chicago.

Sister Vickie Perkins SCL, the school’s president told Kansas City’s Leaven newspaper that the keys to the school are economic hardship and serious students who are expected to continue on to college. “If you can afford another Catholic high school,” she said, “you can’t come here.”

In addition, nationally, 95 % of graduates from Christo Rey schools go on to college or university.

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Colombian archbishop optimistic about Marxist rebels’ openness to dialogue

Bogotá, Colombia, Jun 29, 2006 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro, termed “hopeful” the latest statements by the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) expressing their interest in dialoging with the government.  “This could smooth out the path in the search for a humanitarian accord,” he said.

Speaking to the French daily “L’Humanité,” FARC’s number two leader, Raul Reyes, said the rebels were open to sitting down for talks with the government of Alvaro Uribe, but he said the demilitarization of the Colombian states of Caqueta and Putumayo would be a condition for beginning dialogue.  Such a condition has been rejected by Colombian officials.

Nevertheless, former Colombian president Alfonso Lopez said the FARC’s openness to dialogue was a positive development despite the group’s demands.  “Now FARC has again raised its price and wants Putumayo and Caqueta, but the normal thing to do in negotiations is to split the differences,” Lopez said during a radio interview.

Archbishop Casto called for prudence and said the parties involved should seek direct contact with each other “and discontinue speaking through the media.”

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Book allows easy access to papal history

Ottawa, Canada, Jun 29, 2006 (CNA) - A new dictionary delves into the remarkable 2000-year history of the papacy, providing a concise guide to all of the Popes, from St. Peter to Benedict XVI.

The Pocket Dictionary of Popes offers a succinct outline of each Pope’s life and the main characteristics of his reign. This reference book is also packed with lesser-known facts and provides answers to questions such as: Which Pope tried to bring about world peace on the eve of the First World War? Which Pope refused Henry VIII a divorce? Which antipope was a pirate before embarking on his ecclesial career? Is Benedict XVI the first German Pope? Who were the Borgia Popes?
 
The 184-page book conveniently lists the Popes alphabetically according to their papal and family names. There is also a chronology of the Popes so they can be followed in historical order. Italics are used in the case of antipopes, and dates marked with an asterisk indicate an abdication.

The book is co-published by Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Publications and Burns and Oates. To order or for more information, e-mail [email protected]

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Brazilian bishop seeks new means to evangelize youth

Konigstein, Germany, Jun 29, 2006 (CNA) - New ecclesial movements, Catholic media and renewed efforts in youth ministry are three means the Brazilian bishops have identified to evangelize youth in their country.

“Currently, we are losing our young faithful in schools, universities and in the professional life, while the sects are full of youngsters,” said Bishop Carlos Verzeletti of the northeast Brazilian diocese of Castanhal.

“But now, the Brazilian bishops are convinced that there must be 1000 ways to evangelize young people,” he told Aid to the Church in Need during a recent visit to the organization’s head office in Germany.

He stressed the importance of the new ecclesiastical movement and spoke of his intention to establish prayer groups for young people in his diocese.

The diocese also intends to publish catechetical booklets for young people. The first, titled “In Christ, Free from Sin,” is aimed at strengthening the ethical dimension of pastoral work with young people.

He recognized the importance to the work of permanent deacons. To date, there are 60 candidates in his diocese. He also established The Nazareth Foundation in 1995. the foundation runs a radio and a TV station for the Amazon region as well as a Catholic weekly newspaper and a website (www.fundacaonazare.com.br).

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