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Archive of May 4, 2007

Pro-family leader warns against federal ‘hate crimes’ as President Bush speaks out against current House efforts

Washington D.C., May 4, 2007 (CNA) - A California pro-family leader has warned about the consequences of passing "hate crimes" laws for children, religious leaders and regular citizens, as the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution in favor of the measure 237-180 on Thursday.

In the 1990s, the California Legislature (with a majority of Democrats) passed several "hate crimes" laws that placed transsexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality into the state's Civil Code and Penal Code, explained Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families.

In 1999, these "hate crimes" definitions were inserted into the Education Code, requiring all public schools in California to permit transsexual, bisexual, and homosexual teachers, in grades as young as kindergarten

"Today, California has transsexual kindergarten teachers and laws threatening $150,000 in government fines against anyone who refuses to hire a man who wears women's clothing,” he said in a press release. “H.R. 1592 isn't about stopping [hate] crime; it's a green light for government persecution of moral people in all 50 states."

"Adding transsexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality to 'hate crimes' laws is like opening Pandora's Box," warned Thomasson. He offered a chronology of events to demonstrate.

In 2001 and 2003, "hate crimes" definitions were placed into the Government Code, forcing business owners and landlords -- under threat of a state investigation and a $150,000 fine (without a trial) -- to hire transsexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals.

In 2005, these sexual lifestyles from the "hate crimes" statutes were expanded throughout the Labor Code, prohibiting every business that is open to the public from saying "no" to transsexual, bisexual, and homosexual customers or clients in restaurants, motels, and "businesses of every kind".

That same year, the state's definition of "gender" was inserted into the Insurance Code, forcing insurance carriers, i.e., ratepayers, to pay for sex-transition (sex-change) procedures.

In 2006, the Democrat-controlled California Legislature passed five laws promoting transsexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality in the housing industry, state and local elections, senior citizen programs, police departments, and courtrooms.

This year, the California Legislature is proposing to use the sexual definitions from the "hate crimes" laws to force all school curriculum, instructional materials, school sports teams, guest speakers, sex-education classes, and all school-sponsored activities to positively portray (or in the words of the Legislature, not "adversely reflect upon") all aspects of transsexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality.

"People of moral and religious values will suffer under the persecution that will result from this radical sexual agenda,” Thomasson warned. “California's experience proves it."

Regarding the current efforts in the House, the president said, "The Administration favors strong criminal penalties for violent crime, including crime based on personal characteristics, such as race, color, religion, or national origin.  However, the Administration believes that H.R. 1592 is unnecessary and constitutionally questionable.  If H.R. 1592 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

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Benedict XVI meets Mohammad Khatami for dialogue about the Middle East

Vatican City, May 4, 2007 (CNA) -

"This morning, Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, former president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, visited His Holiness Benedict XVI. He also met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

This meeting is of particular importance because of Pope Benedict’s call at Regensburg for a dialogue between civilizations. In a world, where the turmoil in the Middle East is constantly on display, Khatami’s meeting with Benedict is a sign of hope that constructive efforts towards peace are being made.

"The conversations provided an opportunity to consider the importance of serene dialogue between cultures, with the aim of overcoming the severe tensions that mark our time and of promoting fruitful collaboration in the service of peace and of the development of all peoples.

"Mention was also made of the situation and problems of Christian communities in the Middle East and in Iran.”

"Concerning the situation in the Middle East, the need was reiterated for robust initiatives from the international community - such as is happening at the meeting in Sharm al-Sheikh - with a view to beginning serious negotiations that take into account the rights of everyone, while respecting international legality and with an awareness of the need to rebuild mutual trust."

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A Cry for Prayer from Zimbabwe

Konigstein, Germany, May 4, 2007 (CNA) -
Bishops and priests have become the targets of security agents in Zimbabwe, reported Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The international Catholic charity received this news from a priest in Zimbabwe, who asked to remain anonymous.

“Following the most historic pastoral letter from our bishops, bishops and priests have become the targets of the security agents,” the unnamed priest said. The letter called for major political reform in Zimbabwe, including new leadership. The country is currently under the control of President Rogert Mugabe, who has engaged in a program of silencing all who oppose his regime.

“Some priests were arrested soon after reading the letter to the parishioners. One was actually dragged out of Mass before he even finished reading it,” the priest reported.

According to the cleric, a number of priests were blacklisted by Zimbabwe’s central intelligence and other security departments.

“We now live in fear of being arrested, tortured or killed,” read the letter. “Please, would you continue praying for us as we struggle to speak out for the voiceless people of Zimbabwe?”

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World Bank again promoting abortion after US acquiescence

Washington D.C., May 4, 2007 (CNA) - The World Bank has approved a new health policy that promotes abortion worldwide after the United States caved to pressure from the European Union.

Despite that most of the funds for the World Bank come from the United States and not from Europe, delegates from the Bush administration decided to lift the veto against a pro-abortion policy at the Bank in order to curry favor with delegates from Europe.

The Bush administration tried to include language in the overhaul of the Bank’s health policy that would have prevented the use of the ambiguous and pro-abortion phrase “promotion of reproductive health services.”

Nevertheless, according to LifeSiteNews.com, World Bank officials from Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany and Norway demanded it continue its coercive pro-abortion policy worldwide, including in countries where abortion is not legal.

The Unites States caved in to the pressure and abstained from presenting objections to the policies before the Bank’s self-imposed deadline, leaving the institution free to continue promoting abortion.

According to a press release from the World Bank, “in its new strategy, the Bank is committed to working on population issues in countries with great unmet needs in the area of sexual and reproductive heath,” terms euphemistically used by international organizations to refer to forced birth control and abortion.

Stephen Mosher, founder and director of the Population Research Institute, denounced the US administration for failing to maintain the Bank’s policy against abortion.

Mosher said there are sufficient public documents to show that the World Bank is financing, with US money, efforts to promote abortion, especially in Africa.

“World Bank money, in sum, is financing the promotion of abortion, something that most Americans consider unacceptable,” Mosher told LifeSiteNews.com.  “Two weeks ago here in Washington I had a dozen representatives of Latin American countries that are profoundly offended by these programs for multiple reasons, and nevertheless we continue trampling on their values, traditions and moral convictions.”

Mosher denounced the World Bank for spending its money on birth control rather than addressing the real needs of developing countries.

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McGreevey headed for Episcopalian seminary

, May 4, 2007 (CNA) - Former governor Jim McGreevey, whose political career ended nearly three years ago amid claims of an adulterous affair with a male aide, was welcomed into the Episcopal Church and may become an Episcopalian priest.
 
McGreevy has been accepted into a three-year master of divinity program at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in Manhattan, reported The North Jersey. He will begin the master’s courses in September which are the typical path to priesthood in the Episcopal Church.

The 49-year-old had made his Catholic faith and upbringing central to his public person. While mayor and later governor, McGreevey would boast of his Catholic school education and years in parish life. He has said that, as a boy, he had a desire to become a priest.
 
While governor, he and wife, Dina, attended Mass regularly at the Aquinas Institute in Princeton. The couple even had a private audience with the late Pope John Paul II during their honeymoon in Rome.

However, once in office, McGreevey’s stance on social issues like stem cell research and abortion rights put him in conflict with church authorities.

McGreevey’s decision to contemplate a vocation comes as his estranged wife is launching her book on their marriage. The two are divorcing and their court filings have become increasingly testy.

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Mexico City government refuses to publish list of doctors authorized to perform abortions

, May 4, 2007 (CNA) - The government of Mexico City has refused a request by the president of the National Pro-Life Committee, Jorge Serrano Limon, to publish the list of doctors authorized to perform abortions.

“We are not going to give them anything. They have no authority,” said Mexico City governor Marcelo Ebrard, who said no hospital would be allowed to reveal the number of abortions it has provided.

Serrano Limon said pro-life groups will launch a kind of “operation rescue” in the capital in order to encourage women to save their unborn children.

Ebrard also refused requests to meet with a representative of the Church.  “Each of us has to work in his sphere, and the government has to do its work and follow the law,” he said.

 

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Women in White: Cuban people await freedom

Havana, Cuba, May 4, 2007 (CNA) - A group of women resisting the oppression of the Cuban government through non-violent means, continues to agitate for the release of those imprisoned by Fidel Castro’s government.They are called the “Women in White” because they wear white clothing for their protests.  

According to statements by Berta de Moya, wife of Cuban prisoner of conscience, Angel Moya, the silent protest of the Women in White, who meet each week at the Church of St. Rita of Casia to publicly pray for their imprisoned family members, is encouraging more people to publicly speak out in Cuba.

“By pressuring the government we can get what we want,” Berta explained in a recent interview published online.  “These men,” she explained in reference to the family members of the Women in White, “are not killers, they are not violent, they are peaceful men.  We have the truth in our hands.”

“What we have in Cuba is a totalitarian government that wants us to think and act like it says we should.  But there are men and women who are not blind and see beyond things.  They want freedom and they will not stop until they get it.  And moreover I am sure that with the solidarity of the world, of the people, and with action, we can get it (freedom),” Berta added.

She also expressed her confidence that change would soon come to Cuba.  “The situation is bad for the people and for the government.  This silence…there is a lot of uncertainty, we don’t know anything…We have Raul Castro who is worse than Fidel Castro.  There is no change, no improvement and increased repression.  And on top of it all there is not enough money; many elderly sell peanut shells or coffee because they can’t make ends meet, and to make matters worse the police make them leave and go home.”

Repression in Cuba, Berta said, “is not only levied against the opposition but against the entire nation.  The nation is tired, we want change.  When they see that breach open, 60% of Cubans will come with us and the government will not have it easy.”

Berta said the Women in White have given an important example despite threats and attacks, because “we remain united, because we respect each other, and when we get together we only struggle for their (the political prisoners’) freedom.”

“Here we talk about the prisoners and we are united by the same suffering, by one thing: their liberation.  And therefore I assure you we will continue forward.  Those of us who are here now will continue this in the future, or maybe we won’t be here anymore.  But what is certain is that some of us will continue to be the Women in White.  The Women in White will never die because others will come after us since we have taught the people, family members how to struggle for freedom with dignity and truth and our principles,” Berta said in conclusion.

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Islamic diplomats to attend course on Holy See’s international policy

Vatican City, May 4, 2007 (CNA) - Diplomats from some twenty Islamic countries of the Mediterranean and Middle East will participate in the seminar “The Catholic Church and international policy” May 7-27, which is being organized by the Gregorian University Foundation and the Jacques Maritain International Institute in order to contribute to the formation of mediators for relations between states.

The seminar will take place in Rome May 7-21 and in Turin May 21-27.  The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino, will inaugurate the course.

“The purpose of the course is to introduce the institutions of the Catholic Church and the international policy of the Holy See to diplomats of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern region, in order to contribute to the formation of important mediators in the relations between states, peoples and cultures, with the desire of fostering a better knowledge between peoples and religions in the difficult context of today’s world,” organizers said.

Diplomats from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Albania, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon and other countries are expected to attend. 

Diplomats from the Palestinian Authority, Qatar and Yemen will not be present due to scheduling conflicts, while officials from Oman and Tunisia rejected invitations to attend.

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Son of militant atheist asks Supreme Court to allow public prayer

Washington D.C., May 4, 2007 (CNA) - Protestors gathered outside the US Supreme Court building this week to demand that the judicial body reinstate the right to pray in public places.  Among those present was William “Bill” Murray, son of the late Madelyn Murray O’Hare, the militant atheist who won a 1963 court battle to prohibit prayer in public schools.

Several years ago, William Murray converted to Christianity and today he leads the Coalition for Religious Freedom.  He grew up under the shadow of his mother, who won the famous court battle that removed expressions of faith from the public school system in the United States.

The Rev. Rob Schenck, who participated in the protest, said the presence of Murray was emblematic.  “Nobody knows this issue like he does.  He was used, abused and indoctrinated to think that prayer violated the Constitution.  Now he uses the genius that God gave him to return prayer to the schools and to all public life in America,” he said.

Murray became one of the most outspoken critics of the work of his mother, who was accused of manipulating her followers, robbing funds from her organization and tax fraud.  Madelyn Murray O’Hare was killed in 1995 together with her son Jon and her granddaughter Robin, William’s daughter.

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Catholic Higher Education Officials Engage in Dialogue at 'City on a Hill' Symposium

Steubenville, Ohio, May 4, 2007 (CNA) - Representatives from dozens of Catholic colleges and universities worldwide gathered at Franciscan University of Steubenville to dialogue about the purpose and identity of Catholic higher education.

College presidents, administrators, and faculty shared their visions and aspirations for Catholic education, April 19-22.

Archbishop Michael Miller, who is the secretary for the Congregation of Catholic Education in Rome, delivered the inaugural Henkels Lecture.

In his lecture, Archbishop Miller spoke about the need to strengthen and maintain Catholic identity within Catholic institutions of higher learning. Addressing the neglected norms of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II's 1990 Apostolic Constitution on Catholic higher education, he objected to the "bleaching" of Catholic identity.

"Some institutions have ignored, hidden, or lost their ecclesial identity," he noted.

To correct that problem, Archbishop Miller urged schools to adopt quantifiable measures of assessment for their Catholicity. He recommended that schools ensure that a majority of the faculty are Catholic, that all scholarship and research are in accord with Catholic teaching, and that the schools' theologians obtain a Mandatum from their bishop, guaranteeing that all they teach is in conformity with the Church.

Fr. Michael Garanzini, SJ, president of Loyola University in Chicago, spoke on Friday about the obstacles Catholic colleges and universities encounter when attempting to strengthen their identity, the challenges of integration and the need for service as a component of that identity.

On Saturday morning, Fr. John Jenkins, CSC, president of the University of Notre Dame, addressed the importance of the intellectual life on the Catholic university campus and the need to facilitate a dialogue between faith and reason.

"What are the implications of God's law for society, for the moral life, for music, for literature, architecture, economic life, political life, and so on?" Fr. Jenkins asked. "These are questions that should animate the life of the Catholic university."

European Parliament Vice President Mario Mauro on Sunday delivered the closing address. He asserted that Catholic universities must show man "the meaning of his life and teach him how to be human."

"We have tried to get by in education with giving all the information, except the information that matters most, information about meaning,” he said. “The results are in front of us: invincible boredom, an incapacity for true interests. What students really need is to be introduced to the totality of reality and to be shown its relevance to their life."

For the next several years, the Franciscan University at Steubenville will devote the spring Henkels Lecture to the topic of Catholic higher education.

 

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