Archive of August 13, 2007

Pope’s next encyclical to focus on challenge of justice in a globalized world

Rome, Italy, Aug 13, 2007 (CNA) - A Vatican analyst in Italy says the social encyclical that Pope Benedict XVI was working on during his vacation time in northern Italy this summer will address the challenge of the just development of nations in the context of globalization.

Ignazio Ingrao, Vatican analyst for the magazine “Panorama,” quoted Vatican sources this week as saying the expected social encyclical by the Pope, the second of his pontificate, will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the historic encyclical by Pope Paul VI, “Populorum Progressio,” published on Easter Sunday, 1967.

According to Ingrao, the Pope will address the issue of social justice and ethics within the context of a globalized economy, “denouncing even as socially unjust the economic paradises where taxes are avoided.” The avoidance of taxes has been an issue in Italy since some politicians have said that Church authorities don’t speak out against the frequent Italian practice enough.

The encyclical will also advocate “a world in which world commerce and the economy are regulated in such a way as to prevent greater injustice and discrimination,” as a consequence of globalization.

Vatican watchers expect the new encyclical to contain important ethical criteria rather than “recipes” for running the world economy, basing their analysis on the symbolism of the Pope’s desire to commemorate “Populorum Progressio,” an encyclical in which Paul VI argued in favor of the development of the poorer countries through the direct action of richer ones. 

At the same time, he described the highest level of structures of human development in this way:  “What are truly human conditions? The rise from poverty to the acquisition of life's necessities; the elimination of social ills; broadening the horizons of knowledge; acquiring refinement and culture. From there one can go on to acquire a growing awareness of other people's dignity, a taste for the spirit of poverty, an active interest in the common good, and a desire for peace. Then man can acknowledge the highest values and God Himself, their author and end. Finally and above all, there is faith—God's gift to men of good will—and our loving unity in Christ, who calls all men to share God's life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men.”

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New testimony against Father Gelmini in Italy criticized by defense lawyers

Rome, Italy, Aug 13, 2007 (CNA) - The case of “inappropriate sexual conduct” against Father Pierino Gelmini in Italy entered a new stage as three new accusations of “inappropriate sexual conduct” against the 82 year-old priest were presented.

Six former residents of the rehabilitation centers that have made Father Gelmini into an icon for drug addiction recovery in Italy presented their accusations of “kissing and improper contact,” unleashing a series of media reports, with some painting the founder of the “Incontro” communities as guilty and others calling it a “media lynching” provoked by former residents expelled from the centers for stealing who are seeking revenge.

The case of the Italian priest is now in the hands of procurator Carlo Maria Scipio, whose office has been accused of leaking information to the press before a decision has been made on whether the case merits a trial.  That decision is expected to be made on September 15.

Last weekend three new accusations came to light, which Father Gelmini’s lawyer, Lanfranco Frezza, described as “foolishness.”

Frezza noted that none of the accusations against the priest were of sexual assault, as some media reports have said.  Regarding the ten accusations against Father Gelmini, Frezza told the Italian news agency ADNkronos, “It’s enough to read (the accusations) to see that they are complete folly, to see that they are totally unfounded and lack all credibility.”

In a recent interview with Vatican Radio, Father Gelmini said he was innocent but that he was “willing to carry this cross if I must do so, for Christ.”

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Bishops of Guatemala call for end to violence and for voting for candidates linked to drug trafficking

Guatemala City, Guatemala, Aug 13, 2007 (CNA) - In a new document on the upcoming general elections which will be held in September, the bishops of Guatemala have issued an urgent call to Guatemalans to overcome the temptation to avoid the pools and to refrain from voting for candidates linked to drug trafficking.

In the document, the bishops point out that with elections less than a month away there is “little enthusiasm” for the crop of candidates and election issues that voters will chose from at the polls.  They also call on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to investigate and resolve “the accusations circulating of possible fraudulent actions,” and they denounce “the deplorable violence and lack of security that we Guatemalans experience daily.”  “There have already been too many cases of candidates for local office who have been killed, and cases of politicians receiving death threats are also well-known,” the bishops state.

The bishops call on “all Catholics and all men and women of good will to prayerfully and seriously discern how and for whom they will vote in the elections of September 9.”  “Abstaining,” they continue, would amount to “indifference and social irresponsibility.”

“Voting for candidates who are suspected of being linked to crime and to drug trafficking would be in itself a morally incorrect action and, in the best of cases, would be seriously irresponsible, and in the worst, clear complicity,” they warned.

“Denying them one’s vote is important but giving it to them would be a serious weight upon the conscience of a voter,” the document points out.

“At this moment of such transcendence for our country we commend our nation to God our Lord and we ask Our Lady of the Rosary, patroness of Guatemala, to extend her mantle of protection over all her children and especially over the citizens called to exercise their civil duty at the polls,” the message concludes.

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Thomas More Law Center files lawsuit against Mich. Governor

Ann Arbor, Mich., Aug 13, 2007 (CNA) - The Thomas More Law Center has filed a federal lawsuit against Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm for discrimination against citizens who oppose embryonic stem-cell research. The law center is a national public interest law firm, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The governor is allowing citizens to use her office’s website to submit a petition urging legislators to lift the state’s legal restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research.

However, the governor has refused the request of pro-life groups to place a petition on the same website opposing efforts to lift the ban.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of three pro-life organizations, the Lansing Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, Flint-Area Right To Life, and Right To Life - Lifespan, after the governor refused their request.

“Governor Granholm’s decision to use public funds to discriminate against citizens who disagree with her on the issue of stem cell research violates our clients’ constitutional rights of speech, association, equal protection, and petitioning,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, in a press release. 

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Lansing. It seeks a declaration that Granholm’s policy violates the constitutional rights of those citizens who were denied equal access to, and use of, the website.

It also seeks injunctive relief ordering Granholm to cease discriminating against citizens based on their views about legal restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research in Michigan.

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City officials vow to remove condom ad before Catholic school opens

Boston, Mass., Aug 13, 2007 (CNA) - City officials have promised to take down a giant condom ad, placed across the street from St. Kevin Catholic School in Dorchester, after the school administrators lodged complaints.

The school is trying to instill good Catholic values, vice-principal Kim Mahoney told The Boston Herald. Furthermore, Mahoney does not believe the ad is appropriate for young children to see everyday either.

The ad shows two hands holding a condom fresh out of a plastic wrapper. Across the billboard runs the question: “Are you using?” In smaller print, it reads: “I am. Use a condom. Know your HIV status. Call for a free test.” It lists the AIDS Action Hotline number. The Boston Public Health Commission sponsored the ad.
The billboard was part of a $100,000, citywide ad campaign launched by the commission’s HIV/AIDS bureau during gay pride week in June.

The ad went up before the end of school and students in grades 5-8 had a clear view of it from their classroom windows. St. Kevin’s caters to inner-city children, from kindergarten to grade 8.

The health commission and the mayor’s office told The Herald last week that the ad would be taken down before school resumes.

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Islamic extremists kill Pakistani Christian and issue death threats against anyone involved in his funeral

Rome, Italy, Aug 13, 2007 (CNA) - On July 30 Islamic extremists killed Sadiq Masih, a Pakistani Christian who requested a leave of absence from his job because he was mistreated for his faith.  After obtaining it, Masih’s Muslim boss and his relatives broke into Masih’s house and killed him, leaving one of his sons seriously wounded as well.

The killing took place in the town of Rani Ke Minar in the province of Punjab.  Police have taken two of the men responsible into custody, according to Aneeka Maria, a lawyer for the Masih family.

“The pressure on the murdered father had been going on for some time.  His bosses, all from the Chaudhris family, had falsely accused two of Masih’s sons of a murder they did not commit.  The two children are still being held.

On July 30, the Chaudhris went to Masih’s home and killed Sadiq, leaving his oldest son seriously wounded.  He remains in critical condition at a local hospital.  Aneeka Maria said although he is under the watch of doctors, Masih’s son is still in danger as the Chaudhirs said they are seeking to kill him as he could possibly testify against them in a trial of the murder of his father. They have also threatened to kill anyone who is involved in organizing Masih’s funeral.

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Leftist politician demands Spanish government “normalize abortion as public health benefit”

Madrid, Spain, Aug 13, 2007 (CNA) - A prominent leftist congresswoman has asked the Spanish government to “normalize abortion as a public health benefit.”

Carme Garcia of the United Left party, who recently also sent a written question to the government asking about the possibility of removing abortion as a crime from the country’s Penal code, justified her new demands based on a report by a pro-abortion feminist group that says only 2.9% of abortions are performed in public health care facilities.

In her previous inquiry, Garcia lamented the “numerous obstacles” and limitations still present in Spanish law that make it difficult to obtain abortions, and she asked the Socialist government for an opinion on whether or not to eliminate abortion as a crime from the Penal Code.

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Australian PM approves $15M more for WYD

Sydney, Australia, Aug 13, 2007 (CNA) - Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced an additional $15-million government contribution to support the international World Youth Day gathering next year, reported The Age.

Sydney is hosting the event, which is expected to draw 500,000 young people and Pope Benedict XVI. This amount is in addition to the original $20 million the government had already committed.

The announcment came last week, after the Catholic bishops made an appeal for extra event funding.

"World Youth Day will be a great opportunity to showcase Sydney, Australia, and the youth of our country to the world," Howard was quoted as saying.

WYD 2008 will be the largest-ever single gathering of people in Sydney and the largest-ever Catholic gathering in Australia.

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Italian priest, released by kidnappers, heads home

Manila, Philippines, Aug 13, 2007 (CNA) - Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, the Italian priest held captive by the extremist Abu Sayyaf group for 39 days, was sent to Rome by his superiors on Saturday because of increased violence in the region he was assigned to.

He was accompanied by Fr. Gian Battista Zanchi, the superior general of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, to which Fr. Bossi belongs.

Prior to his departure, the 57-year-old missionary told the Filipino bishops’ CBCP News that he’s happy he’s leaving the country to meet his mother and brother and sister “but sad because he’s going home because I got kidnapped.”

Fr. Bossi was expected to have a two-day visit with his brother and sister in Rome before heading to his hometown of Abbiategrasso near Milan to visit with his elderly mother.

He is expected to spend some time resting with his family in the mountains before his Sept. 1 meeting with Pope Benedict in Loreto, which is also the occasion for a youth gathering.

Fr. Bossi told CBCP News he intends to share his experience with the Pope and ask the pontiff to remember those in the missions who work with dedication and in a hidden way.

The priest said he will return to the Philippines immediately before or after Christmas this year and would prefer to return to his parish in Payao, but he recognizes the decision remains with his superiors.

Fr. Zanchi, however, told the Inquirer that if Fr. Bossi returns to the Philippines, he would not be assigned to Payao, the location where he was kidnapped.

Asked if he had a message for his abductors, Fr. Bossi said: “It’s very easy. I will pray for them, as I still pray for them. I told them my prayer is, in a way, for them to change their heart and one day for them to go home to sit around the table with their family and have dinner together.”

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Abortionists injecting unborn babies with lethal drugs to avoid performing partial-birth abortions

Boston, Mass., Aug 13, 2007 (CNA) - Abortion providers in Massachusetts are making doubly sure that they don’t let unborn children accidentally live if they botch an abortion.


In a startling article in the Boston Globe entitled, 'Shots assist in aborting fetuses' it explains how "In response to the Supreme Court decision upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, many abortion providers in Boston and around the country have adopted a defensive tactic. To avoid any chance of partially delivering a live fetus, they are injecting fetuses with lethal drugs before procedures."


The article continued by saying, "In Boston, three major Harvard-affiliated hospitals -- Massachusetts General, Brigham and Women's, and Beth Israel Deaconess -- have responded to the ban by making the injections the new standard operating procedure for abortions beginning at around 20 weeks' gestation, said Dr. Michael F. Greene, director of obstetrics at Mass. General."


Phil Magnan, President of Biblical Family Advocates responded by saying, "American medicine has reached a new low in which once again doctors are utilizing their God given skills to take the life of a small child. What should always give us pause is the fact that at one end of the hospital they are fighting to save a small 20 week preemie baby from dying, offering them excellent lifesaving procedures; and yet at the other end of the hospital they are giving children lethal doses of drugs to kill them in an attempt to shield themselves from botched abortions. Their actions are screaming medical hypocrisy."


Magnan continued, "The majority of Americans signed onto the partial birth abortion ban because we at least had a collective agreement that pre born children should not be killed, especially when they can survive outside of the womb. But it is apparent that this is a weak position; so it has become even clearer that unless this country passes an outright ban on abortion, we will not save one human life from being callously thrown into the bloody trash heap of 'choice'.


It is truly reprehensible that doctors will continue to skirt the intent of the law because they lack the compassion and moral capacity to protect the very patients they are supposed to care for.


Many of us, who indeed stand for life, continue to wonder when this country will have the kind of compassionate leadership to actually believe that the 13th and 14th amendment of the US Constitution applies to children in the womb and will honor their oath of office by actually enforcing the U.S. Constitution to protect them," said Magnan.



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Amnesty International holds Mexico City meeting as controversial abortion policy causes uproar

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 13, 2007 (CNA) - As Amnesty International convened a high-level meeting in Mexico City this past Saturday, its new policy on abortion has taken center stage again. 

Some of the organization's supporters have said that they hope the gathering will result in the overturning of a recent controversial decision by the human rights group to adopt a pro-abortion policy.

The Vatican and Catholic bishops in several countries have warned that if Amnesty International sticks with the change, Catholics will be urged to withdraw support for the organization.

AI on Saturday opened the annual meeting of its 400-strong international council, the organization's "supreme governing body." The meeting is closed to the press and public, and the agenda has not been made public, reports CNS News. Queries sent to the organizers' spokesman about the program and the abortion issue drew no response.

Two weeks ago, AI Secretary-General Irene Khan was quoted as saying that although the abortion issue may be discussed in Mexico City, the policy decision had already been taken.

Despite the repeated pleas from Catholics, Amnesty's spokespeople around the world have reacted with an attitude of open defiance.

In fact, Amnesty's deputy secretary-general, Kate Gilmore, has angrily accused the Catholic Church of misstating the facts.

"We have the dirt under the nail and the blood and pain of the people that we are responding to. The Catholic Church, through a misrepresented account of our position on selective aspects of abortion, is placing in peril work on human rights."

Gilmore said Amnesty defends the right of the Church to address moral beliefs, but "our purpose invokes the law and the state, not God. It means that sometimes the secular framework of human rights that Amnesty upholds will converge neatly with the standpoint of certain faith-based communities; sometimes it will not."

In response to the policy change, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said that if the group persisted with the change, "individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support because, in deciding to promote abortion rights, AI has betrayed its mission."

Amnesty International maintains that its new policy, which was adopted and not made public for some time, is one that is still neutral on the issue of abortion as a universal right.

However, Catholic League president Bill Donohue described AI's statement as dishonest.

"While it is true that Amnesty has thus far withheld support for abortion as a universal right, the very fact that it has -- for the first time -- engaged this issue (on the pro-abortion side) means that it has broken its silence," he said in a statement.

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