Archive of July 7, 2006

Archbishop speaks to U.N. about true value of work and development

Geneva, Ill., Jul 7, 2006 (CNA) - Speaking to the annual meeting of the High Level Segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said that, "the dignity of the person is what gives work and development their true value."

Portions of the Archbishop’s speech, which he gave Wednesday in Geneva, were made public by the Vatican Information Service today.  Archbishop Tomasi serves as the permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and International Institutions in Geneva.
The Archbishop told the group, who is meeting to consider ways of, "creating an environment at the national and international levels conducive to generating full and productive employment and decent work for all, and its impact on sustainable development," that the Holy See delegation fully endorses, "the goal of equitable development regularly pursued by the Economic and Social Council," because it "highlights the central place of the human person, the value of human work, and this indicates the way to overcome chronic poverty and marginality." 

The outcome of the High Level Segment meetings is generally a united effort on the part of nations to work towards economic and social equality in one particular area of focus.  In 2003, for instance the High Level Segment implemented a plan for rural development, which promotes a public and private alliance to encourage economic and social advancement.  This UN Alliance has initially had an impact on rural development in Madagascar.
Archbishop Tomasi warned that worldwide unemployment problems risk provoking “disorderly behavior and, surely, a less secure world.”  In this context, he recalled the words of Pope Paul VI in 1967: "Development is the new name of peace."
"Local involvement can propel the economy forward," said the archbishop. "Step by step poverty is reduced, emigration becomes an option instead of a necessity, social standards begin to develop, people are lifted out of a vicious circle of misery. ... Assistance for capacity building will have to be adapted to the level of development of each country. In this way, a waste of resources will be avoided. Donors will see their solidarity fruitful for the receiving countries and, in the long run, also for themselves."
He went on: "In our present interconnectedness, to the necessity of preparing products for the global market corresponds the responsibility to help the people of the least developed societies to have the training and the know-how that allow them a fair chance to compete."
"When the process of transformation of society takes hold, decent work contributes another important dimension, that of a sense of future ... and self-respect. ...Children are not forced to work and instead can accede to education, the values of organization and participation are learned."
The Archbishop also spoke briefly about the World Trade Organization talks, known as the “Doha Round,” which are also taking place in Geneva this week and which are in serious danger of failure.  "If the Doha trade round negotiations fail to conclude with some positive agreements," Archbishop Tomasi concluded, "the world's poor and hungry will pay most of the price and the chance for their growth, their development and for decent work will vanish for a long time. The courage and political imagination to make the necessary compromises can lead instead to a renewal of common action and show a concrete commitment to the elimination of global poverty which is still a scandal and a threat to peace and security."

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Colorado bishops urge lawmakers to enact just immigration legislation

Denver, Colo., Jul 7, 2006 (CNA) - Two Colorado bishops are urging state lawmakers to legislate for the “common good” on the issue of immigration reform.

In a recent commentary, published in the Denver Post, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver and Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs weighed in on the current statewide debate on immigration reform, which they believe may impact the immigration debate on the national level.

“Two qualities shape the tone of today's national immigration discussion,” they wrote. “The first is a legitimate concern for public safety, respect for the law and the financial health of our civil institutions and services. The second is a much darker alarmism that would cast many undocumented workers as potential deadbeats or terrorists.”
“We need to resist proposals that emphasize enforcement at the expense of real reform,” they wrote. “Punishing criminals is justice. … But turning poor people who seek a dignified existence for their families into criminals in order to punish them is not justice."

The Colorado General Assembly has organized a special session to address immigration reform. It is holding special hearings on a handful of bills designed to increase restrictions on illegal immigrants, including ensuring that only citizens vote, limiting state services - including health services - to illegal immigrants, and toughening sanctions against employers who hire undocumented immigrants, reported the Denver Post.

“We fully support security policies that target real threats to our peace,” the bishops continued. “But that should not require that we push further into the shadows some of the very workers who are strengthening and building our country.”

Over the past 15 years, Colorado and other states have seen a sharp increase in newcomers, many of them from Latin America.

The bishops urged that the debates in the special session take place in a spirit of goodwill. “If the legislature gets into a contest over which political party can be tougher on ‘illegals,’ we'll undermine our own best interests and miss an opportunity to help frame the national immigration discussion with common sense and justice,” they said.

“Immigration reform is not merely a policy debate. It's a profoundly moral issue,” they wrote. “Illegal immigration is a serious matter, but it should never be a felony.”

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Same-sex marriage defeated in New York, Georgia

, Jul 7, 2006 (CNA) - The highest courts in two states ruled against same-sex marriage Thursday.

In New York, the Court of Appeals ruled 4-2 that the state's law allowing marriage only between a man and a woman was constitutional, reported the Associated Press. The decision comes two years after homosexual and lesbian couples in the state first sued for the right to wed.

“Those who believe in judicial restraint will welcome today’s ruling; those who prefer a judicial system where judges impose their ideological predilections on the public will not be happy,” said Catholic League president Bill Donohue in a statement.

Donohue noted that a 2004 Daily News poll indicated that residents of New York City voted 47-40 against gay marriage. “Now, if gay rights advocates can’t win in New York City, they certainly are not going to win in the rest of New York State,” he said.

In Georgia, the court reinstated a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Georgia. Three-quarters of voters approved a ban on gay marriage when it was on the ballot in 2004. Lawyers for the plaintiffs had argued that the ban was not valid because the ballot language was misleading.

While high courts in Washington state and New Jersey are deliberating whether same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry, 45 states have specifically barred same-sex marriage through statutes or constitutional amendments.

Massachusetts is the only state that allows gay marriage, although Vermont and Connecticut allow same-sex civil unions that confer the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples. 

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Mexican bishops implore country to begin process of reconciliation following elections

Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 7, 2006 (CNA) - Following the announcement from the Mexican Federal Electoral Institute that the National Action Party’s (PAN) candidate, Felipe Calderón, had achieved victory in Mexico’s presidential election, the Mexican bishops issued a call to all sides to accept results of the election and to work towards reconciliation between the different political parties.

After praising the Mexican people for, “taking a great step in the path of democracy,” the Conference of Mexican Bishops said in an official statement that, “we must all make an effort of reconciliation between the various political options,” and that, “we do not have citizens viewed as conquerors and conquered; we are all Mexicans; we all desire the good and the progress of the country.”

In the letter, which was sent Thursday, the bishops express that the formation of “inclusive governments,” capable of dialogue and assuming the proposals of different parties is a sign of democratic maturity.

“It is now the time for harmony and for the search for agreement between candidates, the parties, the federal government, the state government, civil organizations, and the whole of society,” the letter continued.

Finally, the bishops exhorted citizens to, “overcome the partisan feelings and passions characteristic of the electoral race, and to consider the elections a process of competition and selection, the official results of which should be accepted.”  

And, they continued, “let us recognize the one winner and prepare ourselves to collaborate with the new government for the good of our country.”

Calderón received 35.88% of the votes, just over half a percentage point more than the candidate of the Revolutionary Democratic Party, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, which announced that it will seek a vote by vote recount.

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Priest humbled by appointment as auxiliary bishop of Adelaide

Adelaide, Australia, Jul 7, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI named the first Jesuit bishop in Australian history this week. Fr. Greg O’Kelly, SJ, will be ordained to the episcopate in September to serve as auxiliary to Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide.

“I was completely astonished because this is quite out of the ordinary for a Jesuit to be appointed to this position so it took me totally by surprise,” Fr O’Kelly said. “It is an honor to be asked to serve the Adelaide people in this way.”

Born and raised in Adelaide, Fr O’Kelly entered the Jesuit order in1959 and was ordained a priest in 1972. The 64-year-old is currently headmaster of Saint Ignatius’ College. He has been a consultor of the Australian Jesuits since 2003.

He hopes to bring a greater outlook of hope, faith, and meaning to the archdiocese. “I hope that I can work with the priests, archbishop and families of the diocese to give young people a sense of meaning in their lives, based on values, hope, and faith,” he said.

Archbishop Wilson, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, welcomed Fr O’Kelly’s appointment.

“He brings to the episcopate the fruits of his Jesuit formation and experience,” the archbishop said. “He has also been well prepared for this new role by his diverse experience and leadership in Catholic education throughout Australia. I look forward to working closely with him as we face the challenges in the archdiocese and our state.”

The Jesuits have been in Australia for more than 150 years. When the first two Austrian Jesuits arrived at Port Adelaide in 1848, they were given a parish territory twice the size of France.

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Man who awoke from coma raises new questions about death of Terri Schiavo

Little Rock, Ark., Jul 7, 2006 (CNA) - The case of Terry Wallis, an Arkansas man who suddenly woke up from a 19-year long coma, has raised new questions about the death of Terri Schiavo, who died last year after a court ordered her feeding tube to be disconnected.  Wallis fell into his coma in 1984 after a serious car accident.  At the time he was 19.

According to, the doctors who have studied the Wallis case have published their initial conclusions in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.  The report explains that during the car accident Walls’ nerve connections in his brain were severed, putting him in a minimally conscious state and rendering him a quadriplegic. A young husband with a newborn child, Wallis was considered a hopeless case, especially considering that his family could not pay the $120,000 needed to consult a neurologist about any possibility of recovery. However in 2003, during one of the regular visits of his mother, who had regularly visited him at the Rehabilitation Centre in Mountain View, Arkansas, he made what seemed a sudden recovery, and spoke “mom”, his first word in 19 years.

Imaging expert Henning Voss and neurologist Nicholas Schiff of the Weil Medical College at the University of Cornell believe Wallis’ brain “rewired itself” and slowly re-grew the nerve connections that were devastated as a result of his accident.

Doctors at Wallis’ rehabilitation center believe the recovery is due in part to visits by his family, which could have acted as a kind of mental therapy for his recovery.

“He now seems exactly like his old self,” says Jerry Wallis, Terry’s father. Over the 19 years of Terry’s coma, both Jerry and his mother Angilee had doubts at some time or another about whether or not it was better for Terry to be alive. However, now both are glad they never caved into those doubts. Since then they have seen their son make strides in his recovery with the ambition of walking for his daughter. “He very often tells us how glad he is to be alive,” says Terry’s father. noted that the Wallis case stands in stark opposition to the case of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, who received no therapy from her philandering husband after her 1990 collapse. She was instead dehydrated to death by court order in March 2005. Although some doctors claim that Terri Schiavo could not have made Terry Wallis’ recovery since she was in a persistent vegetative state (PVS), witnesses such as former nurse Carla Iyer maintained that with therapy, Schiavo, who said words like, “mommy, help me”, could have indeed recovered over time.

In a BBC interview Dr. Ralf Clauss, a scientist in nuclear medicine and one of the drug researchers, stated that, “For every damaged area of the brain, there is a dormant area, which seems to be a sort of protective mechanism. The damaged tissue is dead, there’s nothing you can do,” he explained. “But it’s the dormant areas which ‘wake up’.” 

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Constitutional amendment would ban homosexual “marriage” in the Philippines

Manila, Philippines, Jul 7, 2006 (CNA) - In response to a court ruling allowing a transsexual to contract marriage, lawmakers in the Philippine Congress have drafted a Constitutional amendment that would prevent similar court rulings and would ban homosexual “marriage” in the country.

According to the Archdiocese of Madrid’s Analisis Digital, the measure, presented by Senator Rodolfo Biazon, would thwart efforts by the courts to legalize homosexual unions and would reverse the recent court ruling allowing transsexuals to contract marriage. The bill would only allow marriage between, “natural born males and natural born females.”

“Aside from being against the laws of God and the laws of nature, marriages under these circumstances are against the interest of society in general,” Biazon said.

The Philippine Bishops’ Conference and numerous lawmakers are backing the measure.

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Argentinean bishop says sterilization betrays “gift of procreation”

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 7, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Luis Stockler of Quilmes said this week that tubal ligations and vasectomies constitute, “a total mutilation of the human body that among other things cuts off the gift of procreation which is born of the act of love, open to life, of spouses.”

The bishops expressed disbelief that Argentina’s Congress would dare to, “authorize the irreversible sterilization of men and women with the claim that people are free to do with their bodies whatever they wish and under the guise of preventing the increase of poverty.”

Bishop Stockler emphasized the urgency of rediscovering the, “essential and natural human values and morals that derive from the very truth about the human being,” which the Bishop said is necessary for, “the future of society and the development of a healthy democracy.”

“These are values that no individual, no majority and no State can ever create, modify, or destroy, but rather must be recognized, respected and promoted,” the bishop continued.  Therefore, he said, it is necessary to keep in the mind the relationship between civil law and moral law.

Meanwhile, the National Secretariat for the Family of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina exhorted lawmakers who sit on the Committee for Family, Childhood and Adolescence to develop sex-ed programs that, “respect freedom of conscience as a right of parents, children, teachers and schools.”

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Spanish cardinal rejects negotiations with Basque terrorists

Madrid, Spain, Jul 7, 2006 (CNA) - Responding the news that the Spanish government will hold peace negotiations with the Basque separatist group ETA, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares of Toledo said political negotiations with terrorism are useless and that, “the only thing that works is for it to disappear.”

“Who are we going to dialogue with? A bunch of terrorists?” the cardinal questioned, saying that terrorism can never be justified and pointing to a statement by the Spanish bishops that declared terrorism to be, “intrinsically perverse and unjustifiable.”

“Therefore, you cannot negotiate politically with terrorism, the only thing that works is for it to disappear, for ETA to be definitively dissolved, but nobody has said this,” the cardinal stated.

Speaking on the COPE radio network, Cardinal Cañizares said the unity of Europe is a moral good that is being weakened, troubling “many people.”  He also noted the importance of a Europe united by, “a common tradition, a commonly shared history and solidarity.”  In fact, he emphasized, there are many moral goods that are in jeopardy in Europe today.

Cardinal Cañizares also underscored the need to support and strengthen the family, founded upon marriage that is, “exclusive and indissoluble between a man and a woman,” as it is “the future of humanity.” 

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Guides prohibited from Goa basilica holding relics of St. Francis Xavier

Goa, India, Jul 7, 2006 (CNA) - Officials at the basilica that houses the relics of St. Francis Xavier have decided to restrict tour guides because of numerous complaints by devotees that they are disruptive.

"There were complaints from devotees that guides explaining the church's historical importance to the tourists in a loud voice was a nuisance during prayers and hence we decided to restrict guiding activity within the Basilica Bom Jesus Church," the church's rector, Fr. Savio Barretto, told

"We welcome tourists to the Basilica but not the guides who create noise during the prayers. People come here to pray in peace," Fr. Barretto said. Several thousand tourists visit the basilica every day.

This 16th-century church is included among the 21 world heritage monuments, selected by Archeological Survey of India and among the seven world heritage monuments in Old Goa Complex. St Francis Xavier died in Goa 1552 on his voyage to China.

Another problem at the basilica is that non-Catholic tourists often approach to receive Communion, which Catholics believe to be the true presence of Christ - Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.  Therefore, only those who share in this belief and profess the Catholic faith are allowed to partake.

"Communion is a part and parcel of the Catholic faith, and it cannot be received unless you are baptized in the Catholic faith," Fr. Barretto stated.

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