Archive of July 26, 2007

Pope calls for protection of environment, says creation-evolution debate is ‘absurdity’

Lorenzago di Cadore, Jul 26, 2007 (CNA) - The debate between creationism and evolution is an “absurdity” since evolution can coexist with faith, said Pope Benedict XVI this week while vacationing in the mountains of northern Italy.

While there is much scientific proof to support evolution, the theory cannot exclude a role by God, he said according to MSNBC News.

“They are presented as alternatives that exclude each other,” the Pope said. “This clash is an absurdity because on one hand there is much scientific proof in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life and being as such.”

However, evolution does not answer all of the great philosophical questions, he said, including: Where does everything come from?

The Pope’s comments came during a question and answer session with a group of 400 priests, deacons, and seminarians from the region where he is vacationing.  In his responses he also spoke about the need to care for the Earth. He urged people to listen to “the voice of the Earth” or risk destroying its very existence.

“We cannot simply do what we want with this Earth of ours, with what has been entrusted to us,” said the Pope.

World religions have shown a growing interest in the environment, particularly the ramifications of climate change, he noted. “We must respect the interior laws of creation, of this Earth, to learn these laws and obey them if we want to survive.”

“This obedience to the voice of the Earth is more important for our future happiness ... than the desires of the moment. Our Earth is talking to us and we must listen to it and decipher its message if we want to survive,” he stated.

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Doctor saves mother and her unborn child who was subjected to RU-486

San Antonio, Texas, Jul 26, 2007 (CNA) - A 20-year-old woman changed her mind after taking abortion drug RU-486 and, after progesterone treatment, gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, recounted Ashley’s story in his bi-weekly column on the order’s website.

Ashley went to see Dr. Matthew Harrison when she was seven weeks pregnant. She had taken abortion pill RU-486 two days earlier but then changed her mind about the abortion and wanted to know if the baby could be saved.

The RU-486 process requires taking the drug that causes abortion (called Mifiprex) and then taking a second drug (called Cytotec or Misoprostol) three days later which induces contractions to flush out the unborn child. Ashley had taken the Mifiprex, but had not yet taken the Cytotec.

When Dr. Harrison learned what had happened, he excused himself, went into another room, and prayed. He consulted a number of medical resources, and then decided to give Ashley a progesterone treatment.

He informed Ashley about the risks of the treatment — that the baby might die anyway, bring additional complications to her or her child, or even kill her. Ashley went ahead with the treatment, placing everything in God’s hands.

She took the first progesterone shot, and began bleeding that weekend. But then the bleeding stopped, and with continued progesterone treatment, the pregnancy continued normally.

Ashley eventually delivered a healthy baby girl, whom she named Kaylie.
“It’s easy to think it’s too late,” said Fr. Frank Pavone in his column. “But where there’s life, there’s hope!”

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Ambassador to Holy See says nothing can eradicate Christians from Iraq

Rome, Italy, Jul 26, 2007 (CNA) - The Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See, Albert Edward Ismail Yelda, said this week Christians in the that country “are the seeds of the land of Mesopotamia, and I don’t think there is a force on this earth strong enough to eradicate them.”

In an interview with the SIR news agency, Yelda spoke of the persecution of Christians in Iraq, “which the Holy See follows with particular concern.”  He condemned “all of the atrocities committed against Christians in Iraq and other minorities by radical and extremist groups in collusion with and sustained by those who supported the former regime.”

“Islam as a religion is quite distant from these actions” that “seek to create chaos in order to undermine the new government’s efforts in the fight against terrorism, extremism and religious radicalism,” he stated.

Asked about the idea of creating a Christian enclave in Nineveh, the ambassador noted that “no plan exists for a separate zone for Christians. Most Christians in Iraq do not want it.  They are spread out all over the country and have lived side by side with Shiites, Sunnis, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and other religious minorities.  I hope they continue to peacefully coexist in the conservation and exercise of their own constitutional rights,” Yelda said.

“In order to have a secure Iraq,” he continued, “we must have a reliable security force that guarantees the protection of the borders, preventing terrorists from entering Iraq and killing innocent civilians.”  In order to accomplish this, the country needs “more help from the international community,” greater “intelligence operations” with neighboring countries,” as well as “coordination with our government by the multinational forces in Iraq, including US troops, which should inform us of their political and military operations before carrying them out.”

Referring to relations between Iraq and Iran, Yelda said the two countries should work together “in benefit of their peoples.”  “Normal relations between the United States and Iran will have positive repercussions in the political, social and economic aspects of Iraq and the entire region,” he added.

A stable and peaceful Iraq will bring stability to the entire Middle East, Yelda emphasized, and will contribute to “promoting the peace process, especially between Arab and Islamic states and the state of Israel,” he said.

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Archbishop says attacks on Church attempt to distract from constitutional reforms

Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 26, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the Committee for Media and Culture of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela, Archbishop Baltazar Porras, denounced President Hugo Chavez for escalating his rhetoric against the Catholic Church, saying he is trying to distract Venezuelans from fundamental issues such as constitutional reform, the education of children and young people.

“I think we have seen an escalation since the month of May, when the president spoke out against Pope Benedict XVI and began a series of attacks on the Church, the latest of which was against Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga,” the archbishop told Union Radio.

Archbishop Porras said Chavez’s attacks are an attempt to politicize religion and set himself above the Church.  He also said the Venezuelan leader is trying to distract the public from important issues that would have a great impact on the country, such as the proposal of no presidential term limits.  “This is an attempt to distract public opinion and turn (the reform) into an issue that only interests one sector of society,” he warned.

The archbishop went on to note that the public is also being distracted from the growing crisis facing schools in Venezuela.  Government subsidies have not been received in many places and school employees and teachers have not received their vacation pay.  The result, he said, is that “the schools are sinking.”

Archbishop Porras also denounced the Chavez government for seeking to indoctrinate students from pre-school all the way up to the post-graduate level.  The government, he said, is seeking to impose “one way of viewing and thinking about society and the world” upon the entire country, and that such a policy poses serious risks for civil rights.

Such a policy is “the absolute negation of authentic democracy and pluralism,” he added.

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Polish priest apologizes for verbal attack on Poland's president

Krakow, Poland, Jul 26, 2007 (CNA) - A Polish priest apologized on Tuesday after calling President Lech Kaczynski a liar and his wife a witch, and making comments considered to be anti-Semitic, reported Reuters.

Fr. Tadeusz Rydzyk apologized for his comments about the president and his wife, as well as his ostensibly anti-Semitic comments.

The priest’s apology was published in the daily Gazeta Wyborcza. Fr. Rydzyk, who had also accused a "Jewish lobby" of trying to extract millions from the Polish state, wrote that he does not act against anyone on the basis of religion or race.

Audio tapes, released by a Polish magazine this month, also captured Fr. Tadeusz Rydzyk telling students of his outrage at the failure of the current presidency to toughen abortion laws.

Fr. Rydzyk is heard saying the support of the president's wife, Maria, for limited abortion rights amounts to backing euthanasia, and suggesting she should do it to herself first.

The Vatican has rebuked Fr. Rydzyk in the past for meddling in politics and for the xenophobic statements of his controversial broadcaster Radio Maryja. But Poland's conservative president and his twin brother, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the prime minister, have defended the station. The priest’s support helped them win the 2005 election.

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Children conceived by IVF have greater health problems

London, England, Jul 26, 2007 (CNA) - A recent British study has found that children conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF) have more health problems and spend more time as hospital patients than naturally conceived children.

The seven-year study, published in the June 21 issue of Human Reproduction, compared the hospital costs of IVF-conceived children with naturally conceived children.

The study found that, on average, a child conceived through IVF was in the hospital significantly more times than a naturally conceived child. During the seven-year period, 61 percent of IVF children were hospitalized versus 46 percent of naturally conceived children.

Dr. Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin, a lead researcher and professor at Imperial College London, told that the study showed certain disease groups, such as respiratory and inflammatory diseases, are more common among children born through IVF. Some neurological disorders are slightly more common among IVF-conceived children as well, she noted.

Jarvelin said researchers do not know the reasons for the increased amount of certain diseases among IVF children. However, most children born through IVF are healthy, she said.

"But we have to be more cautious and parents should be carefully informed that there might be some dangers that we might not know," she added.

Jarvelin said this study demonstrates the need to conduct more follow-up and long-term studies on children conceived through IVF.

The study included 303 IVF-conceived children and 567 naturally conceived children born between 1990 and 1995. The findings corroborate the findings of past studies, which have indicated that IVF-conceived children have a higher risk of deformity and health problems.

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Fake priest deceiving faithful in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 26, 2007 (CNA) - A forty-year old man who goes by the names Gilmert Dunot and Sarmiento Gilberto José has been posing as a priest in Argentina and deceiving hundreds of Catholics.

Officials said the man uses a Swiss passport and asks people for money, claiming he was robbed, that he is sick or that his father died, or that he needs to travel to Switzerland.

The pastor of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Buenos Aires, Father Romulo Puiggari, said the man showed up at the door and asked permission to concelebrate Mass, but Father Puiggari became suspicious after he could not produce any credentials.

Father Puiggari warned that the man dresses in clerical garb and has been posing as a priest in other cities in Argentina.  He said he appears to be working in coordination with others and that he speaks several languages.

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Spain still lowest European country least supportive of the family

Madrid, Spain, Jul 26, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the Institute for Family Policy (IFP) in Spain, Eduardo Hertfelder, said this week the $686 credit per child approved by the Spanish government is not real support for families because it is a measure that is too late, is insufficient and isolated. He also asserts that it is not part of a comprehensive policy allowing parents to deal with the economic costs associated with raising children.

The IFP noted that the average Spanish family spends a minimum of $2,000 per year on each child until he or she reaches the age of 18, totaling some $36,000.  The $686 credit from the government covers barely 2.5% of the needs of each family.  Even if the $400 in additional aid is taken into account, government aid only covers 7.9% in the best of cases.

Despite the $1.5 billion in family aid allotted by the Spanish government, Spain will continue to be the EU country that provides least assistance to the family—only 0.8 percent of its GDP, well below the European average of 2.2 percent, Hertfelder.

The Spanish government’s family policy is taking the country in the opposite direction as the rest of the countries of Europe, which are implementing measures and policies that are much more family-friendly.  The IFP pointed to the urgent need for a comprehensive family policy that fosters a culture that is supportive of the family and encourages parents to have the number of children that they wish.

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Holy Father appoints Bishop for Diocese of Hearst

Vatican City, Jul 26, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Vincent Cadieux O.M.I. of Moosonee, Canada as the bishop of Hearst (area 108,830, population 36,681, Catholics 27,908, priests 22, permanent deacons 2, religious 7), Canada. Bishop Cadieux will remain as bishop of Moosonee, governing the two dioceses united "in persona Episcopi." The dioceses of Moosonee and Hearst are located in northern Ontario, Canada.

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Chinese clarify: Pope can visit only if Vatican cuts ties with Taiwan

Beijing, China, Jul 26, 2007 (CNA) - The second in command of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, Mr. Liu Bainian, has said that a visit by the Pope to China requires certain conditions be met first.

Mr. Bainian’s comments came in lieu of an interview that he gave to the Italian daily La Repubblica earlier this week. In that interview he said, “I hope with all my strength to be able to see the pope one day here in Beijing, celebrating Mass for us Chinese." However, he claims that this quote was taken out of context.

Mr. Bainian clarified his remarks by telling the China Daily that before a papal visit can occur, “The Vatican must sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan and stop interfering in China's internal affairs if it wants to normalize ties with Beijing.”

"What I meant was I hoped the Pope could visit China and celebrate Mass but only after normalization of diplomatic ties.”

"If the two issues can be resolved properly, the two sides will have favorable conditions to improve ties."

Pope Benedict XVI must have realized that these two preconditions still existed because when he was asked on Tuesday about Liu Bainian’s invitation to visit, his reply was, "I can't speak at this time… It's a bit complicated."

Beijing and the Vatican have been at loggerheads since China severed ties in 1951 after the Vatican recognized Taiwan, where the papal envoy had fled a year earlier.

The atmosphere worsened in 1957 when China set up its own Catholic church administered by the atheist communist government.

The Chinese government still insists upon its “right” to appoint bishops and manage its churches. It says that it can do this because political and economic policies should be independent  from religious beliefs.

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Expert warns of likely failure of new Spanish school model

Madrid, Spain, Jul 26, 2007 (CNA) - In an interview with the Archdiocese of Madrid’s weekly paper, Alba, Inger Enkvist, adviser to the Ministry of Education in Sweden, said it was “cynical” that Spain would copy an educational model that is a proven failure.  The absence of effort, the lack of authority and the precariousness of the content will exert a heavy cost.  The only winners will be the teachers “plugged into the budget.”

Enkvist has spent decades studying the process of decay in European public schools and she thinks that the deterioration of education is the cause of “constructivism,” which is a “process assumed by the majority of European educational models.  It is based on the idea that the truth is only that which we construct ourselves, thus destroying the tradition and knowledge accumulated by previous generations.  Constructivism teaches that the child should know the truth on his own.”

However, she countered, “The teacher should always be the one to lead the student towards the truth.  Constructivists worry a lot about how you teach but not about what you teach.”  “A teaching method in which what is put first is not effort but rather that the children are happy, that they play and work together as a team, and that they say what they want, has already proven to be a failure,” Enkvist said.  The ones who benefit most are the teachers who have created this system sustained by public funds.

“This constructivism creates adolescent adults who want everything right now,” she continued.  “It’s like a permanent 1968 generation. Of course, nothing in life is immediate, most of the fruit of our labor comes after much effort, and the [constructivist] attitude renders some unfit for life because they confuse desires with reality.  They end up believing that if they want something to be true, reality will end up conforming to their desires,” she added.

“This is not a problem of resources,” Enkvist continued, “but of the system itself.  And perhaps the system would work better with fewer resources.  In Asian countries, where classrooms overflow with 50 or more students, textbooks are of poor quality and teachers are underpaid, amazing results are being achieved.”

She praised countries like Britain, “where they decided to turn back from constructivism and return to giving priority to content.  And the reform by Thatcher was continued and even improved under Blair, becoming a policy of the State free of politics.”

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