Vatican City, Oct 31, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI accepted, today, the resignation of Cardinal Dario Castrillòn Hoyos from his office as Prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy and named as his replacement Cardinal Claudio Hummes, O.F.M., who was serving as Archbishop of Sao Paulo, Brasil.
Cardinal Castrillòn Hoyos, a 77 year old Colombian, had offered his resignation to the Holy Father after reaching the age limit of 75, as established by in Canon 354 of the Code of Canon Law. He was appointed to his office by Pope John Paul II in 1998.
Cardinal Hummes, a son of German immigrants, was born in Montenegro in the state of Rio Grande do sul, August 8th 1934. He was ordained a priest on August 3rd 1958. The cardinal received his Doctorate in Philosophy from the Pontifical Antonianum University in Rome. He also completed studies in ecumenicism at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey in Geneva, Switzerland. Hummes has also served as Provincial Superior for his Franciscan order and President of the Franciscan Council of Latin America.
He was named Bishop of Santo André in 1975 and Archbishop of Fortaleza in 1996.
Two years later, in April of 1998, when he thought that his “next serious move would be retirement or the tomb,” Archbishop Hummes was named the new Archbishop of Sao Paulo, succeeding Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns.
The new Prefect was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II on February 21st of 2001. In 2002 he preached the Vatican Curia’s annual Lenten Retreat at the request of John Paul II. He is a member of several Vatican dicasteries.
The Congregation for Clergy has three principal responsibilities, the collection, suggestion, and promotion of initiatives regarding the sanctity and intellectual and pastoral training and ongoing formation of diocesan Clergy, as well as oversight of whatever pertains to the pastoral ministry of priests; the oversight and promotion of the catechetical formation of all faithful of all states of life; and the oversight of legal matters regarding the management of issues relating to care for the clergy and parishes.
Chicago, Ill., Oct 31, 2006 (CNA) - Members of Amnesty International at a Chicago conference last week were unable to debate the rights’ organization’s controversial draft policy that would support unlimited and international access to abortion as a human right. And some now say that the organization is deliberately ignoring their point of view on Amnesty’s predetermined road to support for abortion.
At the international level, Amnesty has drafted but not yet adopted a position endorsing and implementing the worldwide decriminalization of abortion. Last April Amnesty International USA made public their position favoring the legalization of abortion.
However, Amnesty’s Midwest Regional Conference in Chicago, which ended on Sunday, refused to reconsider or to discuss that position or the draft policies implementing it.
“If events in Chicago are typical, AI adoption of decriminalization as a worldwide goal seems almost inevitable because many objections to such a position among its non-member supporters, its members, and even its leaders are not reaching the Amnesty higher-ups who will make the final decision,” said AI member and law professor Richard Stith in a statement. Stith, who resides in Indiana, attended the Chicago conference.
“I believe it would be highly unwise for Amnesty international to endorse its draft policy endorsing rights to abortion. Such a right might benefit powerful elites, but it would harm many of our most vulnerable sisters in the developing world,” Stith wrote in an open letter to AI members.
“It would clash head-on with the recognized human right to life of the unborn, and even with Amnesty’s own foundation in universal human rights. Many AI supporters may be alienated not only by the substance of the proposed policy but also by the un-open fashion in which the new policy is being debated.”
“The right to life of the unborn child is explicitly protected by a number of international treaties and national constitutions; fundamental rights to abortion are recognized far less extensively,” Stith continued.
Many pro-life and pro-abortion members have continually urged AI to remain neutral on the abortion issue and presented a resolution to this effect.
In Chicago, the neutrality resolution was voted down by a small “working group” immediately after it was introduced Saturday afternoon. According to Stith the resolution was rejected without substantive debate, and without time for voters to read it through first. According to a press release, many conference attendees did not know that the resolution would be proposed or that they could vote on it by attending the working group meeting.
Pro-abortion AI members have argued in favor of the neutrality resolution on the basis that the policy, if adopted, could lead to loss in membership.
“Our death penalty abolition efforts could suffer, as some of our most crucial allies oppose executions as part of a comprehensive position in support of the right to life,” wrote pro-abortion AI members Angie Hougas and Carolyn Coglianese in their resolution.
The draft policy statement decrimnializning abortion, for possible adoption in 2007, was made available with a questionnaire requesting feedback. The draft policy supports the right to sex-selection abortions and abortions for “potential disability status of the fetus.”
The questionnaire asks whether members agree decriminalization of abortion in all cases or only “decriminalization except for gestational limits.”
Meeting with AIUSA national executives Saturday morning, regional Amnesty leaders expressed chagrin that they had not previously been informed of the existence of the survey, though its deadline is Dec. 1.
A two-hour “Policy Discussion” of “Sexual and Reproductive Rights” was scheduled for late Saturday, but its accompanying description explained that “participants will not be debating the potential policy/policies,” but rather “AI’s discussion process.”
Washington D.C., Oct 31, 2006 (CNA) - Priests for Life launched an election novena yesterday, asking that “God to give believers the grace to vote in a way that advances the Culture of Life.”
The novena will run nine days, ending on Election Day, Nov. 7. The novena consists simply of saying a daily prayer prepared for this purpose.
“No act of violence claims more life than abortion, which kills some 3,500 children a day in America,” said national director Fr. Frank Pavone in a press release. “How can we build a society that feeds the poor if we can’t feed our own offspring; how can we welcome the immigrant if we can’t welcome our own children; how can we promote peace between nations if we cannot even maintain peace between a mother and her unborn child?”
Additional prayers have been composed for specific states that have important ballot measures related to abortion. The prayers are available at www.PrayerCampaign.org.
Washington D.C., Oct 31, 2006 (CNA) - The U.S. bishops are calling on the Bush administration to secure the safety of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.
In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the bishops made four concrete proposals which they think could help protect Christians and other religious minorities from deliberate violence against them in the war-torn region.
The bishops said they deplore the sectarian violence engulfing the Shia and Sunni communities in Iraq, but they are especially concerned about the “deliberate violence perpetrated against Christians and other vulnerable minorities.”
“The growing and deliberate targeting of Christians is an ominous sign of the breakdown in Iraqi society of civil order and inter-religious respect and represents a grave violation of human rights and religious liberty,” reads the bishops’ letter.
The letter mentions in particular the recent beheading of a Syriac Orthodox priest in Mosul, the crucifixion of a Christian teenager in Albasra, the frequent kidnappings for ransom of Christians, including four priests, the rape of Christian women and teenage girls, and the bombings of churches.
According to the U.S. bishops, Christians in Iraq continue to decline from a pre-war population of more than 1.2 million to a current estimate of about 600,000.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates that approximately 44 percent of Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, and Turkey are Christian, even though they represent only about 4 percent of the total population of Iraq. Some are fleeing to the north of Iraq as well.
In an effort to offer security to Christians and other religious minorities, the bishops are urging the U.S. government to consider the creation of a new “Administrative Region” in the Nineveh Plain Area that would be directly related to the central government in Baghdad.
“This could provide Christians and other minorities with greater safety and offer more opportunity to control their own affairs with assistance from the central government,” the letter reads.
The bishops also recommend that the U.S. government work with the Kurdish authorities in the north to ensure the safety of Christians in the Plain of Nineveh and to provide adequate protection and assistance for religious minorities in areas controlled directly by the Kurds.
The bishops urged an urgent review of economic reconstruction aid programs to ensure that aid is distributed fairly and reconstruction is possible in all segments of society.
Finally, the bishops urged the U.S. government to adopt a more generous refugee and asylum policy, including the possible resettlement of at-risk cases to the United States.
The bishops indicated they would like to meet with Rice to discuss the situation and their proposals further.
The letter was sent by Bishop Thomas Wenski, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Policy on behalf of the U.S. bishops’ conference.
Madison, Wis., Oct 31, 2006 (CNA) - The definition of marriage should not be altered as it is defined by natural law, which is based on human reason, said Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison in an open letter to the people of Wisconsin.
“These are not tenets of our ‘faith’ which we are defending,” he said, adding to the defense of marriage, the protection of all human life from conception to natural death, and the abolition of the death penalty. “They are universal truths, based on reason alone.
“They are based on the fact that every human person has an unsurpassed dignity; upon the fact that every human being is sacred from the moment from conception to natural death,” he continued. “Otherwise nothing else we do to care for other human beings makes any sense. This is a truth of reason; it is true for every human being.”
The bishop explained that some things are objectively true and intrinsically good based on reason. “When we recognize the objective truth, we need to reconcile ourselves to that truth, never the other way around – this is the natural law,” he stated.
“The truth that marriage is one man, one woman, one lifetime, with openness to children is inscribed in the human mind-heart which yearns for one-flesh union, and is inscribed in the human body’s procreative ecology,” he said.
He argued that male-female definition of marriage should not be altered to consider heterosexual-homosexual definitions.
“In arguing to protect and promote marriage, I have not once brought up homosexual orientation, nor will I,” he stated. “Jesus Christ died for every human being, and I want all to be treated as worthy of the shedding of His blood.”
“The truth about the human person revealed by reason alone should be supported by the state and in some instances by law,” the bishop said.
He said while Wisconsin law currently recognizes marriage as the union between one man and one woman, there are other states in which legislators and judges have “taken it upon themselves to change the definition of marriage – which they have no right to do.”
“Because [marriage] is defined by the natural law, no one, not the Church and not the State, has the right to redefine marriage as anything but one man and one woman, one lifetime, with openness to children,” he said.
By adding the definition of marriage to the state constitution, it can protect it “from being illegitimately altered by judges or legislators.”
“I will never suggest that ‘faith’ be legislated or to tell people how to live their lives,” he said, “but I will always engage the culture with the truth, as can be known by reason alone, and insist that State recognize this truth.”
Lima, Peru, Oct 31, 2006 (CNA) - As the courts in Peru continue to debate about whether to legalize the morning-after pill, the Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, called the promoters of the morning-after pill “liars and killers.”
During a Mass celebrating the feast of Our Lord of the Miracles, the cardinal exhorted the faithful to pray “especially for those babies still in the wombs of their mothers.”
In referring to the morning-after pill and its potential abortifacient mechanism, the cardinal exclaimed, “Stop with the lies about that drug that claims to be science but only kills and the nonsense about the day before or the morning-after. Liars! Killers!”
“They should not say that the religious culture of the Church should be a personal matter; that is not true. Let us not be carried away by license or by those who say, I do what I want. We must do good. This is a civilization that is greatly attacking the family. Let us pray for the family, because life is under attack,” he told the thousands of faithful gathered for the Mass.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 31, 2006 (CNA) - The spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina, Father Jorge Oesterheld, said this week a fire that completely destroyed the Chapel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the Diocese of Puerto Iguazu several days ago is a painful event that could have a serious impact on the faithful in that region.
Father Oesterheld called for an investigation to determine if in fact the fire was intentional, as was reported by police and firefighters. “Let justice appropriately clarify the facts about the attack against this church, of which only the cross hanging out front remains. No doubt this was an irrational attack that profoundly affects the Church,” he said.
Police sources believe the fire could be related to the upcoming elections which will be held in the province of Misiones and in which voters will select a group of delegates to reform the province’s constitution. Bishop Emeritus Joaquin Piña is leading the opposition to approve the re-election of the provincial governor, Carlos Rovira, for an indefinite period.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 31, 2006 (CNA) -
In response to the possibility that an Argentinean congressional committee might begin considering approval of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the National Secretariat for the Family of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina warned the ratification of the convention could force abortion to be legalized in the country.
In a statement this week, the secretariat said approval of the Convention would “imply the renouncing of sovereignty and would open a wide door to the future approval of abortion.”
“The Church’s commitment is to support the rights of women and cannot be dependent upon agreements or recommendations that pretend to guarantee the practice of abortion as a public service,” the bishops said.
Likewise the secretariat warned lawmakers of the danger of a cultural dependence that ratification of the Convention would entail, as it would mean renouncing the values that characterize the people of Argentina.
Various provincial governments, including those of Misiones, Salta, San Juan and Mendoza, have expressed their opposition to the ratification of the Convention.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 31, 2006 (CNA) - A report on Danish television revealed this week that a clinic in Barcelona is profiting from “abortion tourism” and is performing macabre procedures on women who are more than seven months pregnant. For $5,000 (USD) the clinic will inject poison into the unborn child, who at that stage is viable, thus causing his death in the womb through cardiac arrest.
The EFE news agency reported that a correspondent from the Danish television network DR, carrying a hidden camera, visited the E.M.E.C.E Clinic in Barcelona, which “fraudulently and systematically makes use of the law in Spain that permits abortion at any time during the pregnancy in cases of life or physical or mental health of the mother.”
In Denmark abortion is legal for any reason up to the twelfth week of pregnancy and afterwards only in cases of serious deformation of the fetus. A Danish journalist who is thirty weeks pregnant contacted the clinic and pretended to be interested in an abortion.
Carrying a hidden camera, she interviewed the director of the clinic, Carlos Morin, who said the clinic sees patients from France, Great Britain, Holland, Germany and even Australia and claimed that the procedure is legal and safe for women.
According to EFE, Morin said, “Digoxin, which is used to treat heart problems, is injected into the heart of the fetus and causes death by cardiac arrest before it is removed from the uterus.”
The undercover journalist told clinic workers she supposedly wanted an abortion because she had just broken up with her boyfriend and not because the baby suffered from any problem. She was only asked to fill out some forms about her mental and physical health.
“Later, they gave the woman three psychological tests that consist of general questions, arguing that the only way for the abortion to be legal is for supposed physical or psychiatric problems to be determined, even though during the interview the woman acknowledged that her heath was ‘good’,” EFE reported.
The clinic director said the tests were only for “bureaucratic” purposes, and in a later interview he told the woman all the paperwork had been completed and that the abortion would cost $5,000. When the Danish woman returned to the clinic and revealed her identity, Morin tried to argue that more tests were needed.
The Danish exposé also included an interview with Jose Maria Simon Castellvi of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, who said Spain is suffering from “abortion tourism.” Thousands of Europeans have traveled to Barcelona to obtain illegal abortions, he said.
The Association of Abortion Victims (AAV) said it has testimonies from numerous women that confirm that the clinic in Barcelona “commits the crime of falsifying documents and faking psychiatric pathologies in order to administer abortions.”
The AAV cites the case of 40 year-old Maria, a Spanish woman from Valencia, who received an abortion at the clinic in 2000, when she was six months pregnant, because “she wanted to have a daughter and she was carrying a son.”
“Carlos Morin saw me and told me to pay and they would do what I wanted, no problem,” Maria explained. “He said they would inject my child to kill him. He told me to sign a paper, I don’t remember what it said.” Maria would later attempt to commit suicide. “Why didn’t they make me understand the madness of my decision? My child was healthy and they were doctors who were supposed to care for the health of both us,” she said.