Alexandria, Va., Sep 27, 2007 (CNA) - Catholic Charities USA today urged Congress and the White House to avoid partisan positioning and instead come together to pass a comprehensive children's health insurance bill.
This week, the Congress is scheduled to vote on a compromise bill to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program, (SCHIP) a highly successful program that provides health insurance coverage to poor children. The program will expire on September 30 unless legislation is passed and signed to continue it, but President Bush has threatened to veto the compromise bill.
"Taking care of children without health coverage should not be a partisan issue," said Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA. "The compromise bill is a good step forward that will strengthen this critical program, provide more money for SCHIP, and expand eligibility to several million more of the 9 million children living without health insurance in this country.
"We strongly urge Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Senate to support SCHIP and to provide health insurance for more children in need," Father Snyder added. "Passage of this legislation is the right thing to do for America.
"It would be unconscionable if the White House and Congress weakened this valuable program- leaving millions of children without health coverage- when everyone agrees that the program works," Father Snyder said. "That is wrong, and it sends the wrong message about our nation's values."
In addition, Father Snyder sent a letter to President Bush urging him to sign the legislation.
"We are extremely disappointed that the president-just last week-reiterated his intent to veto this bi-partisan bill," Father Snyder said in a letter. "Mr. President, we call on you to keep your promise to America's children and sign this bill into law."
Catholic Charities USA is one of the nation's largest private networks of over 1,500 social service agencies and institutions providing essential services to more than 7.8 million people annually, and many Catholic Charities agencies provide critical health services to thousands of low-income families.
Catholic Charities has launched a Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America with the goal of cutting the poverty rate in half by 2020, and supports SCHIP as an essential program to ensure access to proper health care for millions of the nation's most vulnerable families.
"Catholic social teaching tells us that every person has a basic human right to adequate health care. Society has a responsibility to ensure that everyone has access to health care, to protect the dignity of the human person and ensure the common good," Father Snyder wrote. "Now is the time for our country to recommit itself to our children."
Catholic Charities said the President should follow through on a campaign promise to help uninsured children.
"At the 2004 Republican National Convention, you vowed to "lead an aggressive effort to enroll millions of poor children who are eligible but not enrolled in government health insurance programs." The number of uninsured children continues to rise," Father Snyder wrote. "We ask that you keep your promise to the well-being of children in our
In his letter, Snyder also asked that the Administration reconsider new restrictions recently imposed on the program by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that will reduce services to children.
"Over the past decade, SCHIP has helped reduce the number of uninsured children by one-third and has made significant progress in advancing the health and well-being of America's low income children," Father Snyder wrote. "Under the new rules, thousands of children will be dropped from coverage. At the time that their health coverage is restricted, many of these children could be depending on medications that must be taken regularly, waiting to undergo necessary medical procedures, or scheduled for checkups that can prevent serious health crisis."
For more information, visit www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.
Little Rock, Ark., Sep 27, 2007 (CNA) - In its 165 years of existence, the Diocese of Little Rock had never experienced its members being excommunicated, that is, until recently. Six sisters in Hot Springs, Arkansas were automatically excommunicated due to their participation in the Community of the Lady of All Nations, or more commonly called, the Army of Mary.
The group, which was founded in Quebec, Canada is known for elevating the Virgin Mary to the status of God, and the belief that their founder is “possesed by Mary."
"The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the declaration of excommunication on July 11, after extensive consultations with the Canadian bishops and the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Pope Benedict XVI approved the declaration, which was only announced by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on Sept. 12. CNA coverage here http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=10381
A Vatican official stated that the “association is no longer considered a Catholic organization because of its false teachings on the Trinity and Mary.”
Excommunication excludes members from “communion” within the Church. The members are not able to lead the Liturgy (if they are priests), receive the Eucharist or partake in other sacraments.
According to Arkansas Catholic, "They will no longer have any sacraments. We removed (the Blessed Sacrament) from the premises last night," Monsignor Herbert, archdiocese administrator, reported.
Although they cannot receive Communion, they are encouraged to attend Mass, he said.
According to the Arkansas Democratic Gazette, Monsignor J. Gaston Hebert, the diocesan administrator, said he notified the sisters of the decision Tuesday night after they refused to recant the group’s teachings.
“This is a painfully historic moment for us and the church,” he said.
The sisters, many who became involved with the community 20-30 years ago, say that they will continue to live in the convent, and strive to do God’s work.
“We want to do God’s will, and we believe we are Catholic,” said the 82-year-old Dionne, the assistant superior of the convent. “Even though they say we are not Catholic, this is not true,” said Dionne.
The Army of Mary was established by Marie Paul Giguere in 1971 after she began receiving visions from God. However, in 1987, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, ruled that two books the group used taught “erroneous doctrines”, and subsequently the groups was investigated for heretical teachings.
“When something comes up, particularly within the church, that contradicts or would add to or subtract from things which we believe to be the inspired word of God, we are going to be very vigilant,” Monsignor Hebert said. “Whether it is too liberal, whether it is too conservative, if it is opposed to the teachings of Jesus Christ as expressed through the Scripture and the Church, [then] that is heresy.”
Though they are excommunicated, the sisters can still receive the sacraments in extreme circumstances such as Last Rites. They are also allowed to attend Mass and can return to “full communion with the Church” if they renounce the movement’s teachings.
“They are still Catholic,” said McAllister, Chancellor of the diocese. “We are always ready for them to rejoin communion with the church.”
New Orleans, La., Sep 27, 2007 (CNA) - The Episcopal bishops of the United States, attempting to avoid a schism, promised to "exercise restraint" by not approving more gay bishops and not authorizing a formal ritual for blessing same-sex unions.
The pledge is part of an eight-point statement issued Sept. 25 in the final minutes of a six-day meeting in New Orleans, reported the Globe. According to church officials, it reduces the likelihood that the Episcopal Church will be ousted from the 77 million-member global Anglican Communion.
The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, referred to the statement as a clarification of positions already articulated by the U.S. bishops, but said she hopes that "our sacrificial actions and united actions" will help stave off schism.
The bishops’ eight-point statement also criticizes actions by Anglican bishops from the developing world (mostly from Africa and Latin America) who have agreed to oversee conservative clergy and congregations in the U.S.
It calls for the Archbishop of Canterbury to find a way for openly gay bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to attend next summer's Lambeth Conference and for “unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons."
"I think we did better than I expected," Bishop John W. Howe of Central Florida told the Globe. Bishop Howe is one of the most conservative bishops present at the meeting. He said he did not vote for the statement because it did not bar blessings of same-sex unions outright, but he also believed the majority of Anglican primates would find it acceptable.
Asked if he would try to remove his diocese from the Episcopal Church, Bishop Howe said "absolutely not."
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at a press conference here Friday said he would spend the next days reviewing the bishops' statement and consulting with other Anglican leaders before deciding how to respond to the American bishops' statement. But Episcopal Church officials said Tuesday that Anglican Communion leaders had been briefed on the bishops' statement and were satisfied.
However, when Bishop Martin Minns was asked about the meeting his response sounded notably less optimistic than the official statements made about the meeting.
Bishop Martyn Minns of Fairfax, Virginia commented that the conversation about the church splitting is becoming an issue of "when" rather than "if." “We've had years of meetings with no movement," said Minns, who is also a leader of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a network of churches that are considering severing ties with the U.S. church to form a network with an international body. "Sooner or later, we're going to have to acknowledge that the current approach isn't working."
CANA is gathering this week in Pittsburgh to discuss their future. Four or five of the 110 Episcopal dioceses are talking about trying to leave the Episcopal Church.
Washington D.C., Sep 27, 2007 (CNA) - The oldest Catholic university in the nation has changed its policy to permit grants to law students who intern with abortion agencies, such as Planned Parenthood.
Law Center Dean T. Alexander Aleinikoff of Georgetown University announced the policy change Sept. 7 in a letter published in the Law Center's student newspaper. It was reported in The Hoya, the Georgetown University newspaper.
The decision came after the Law Center got flack from pro-abortion students and faculty for directing student group Equal Justice Foundation to refuse funding to a student who applied to intern at Planned Parenthood.
The Hoya reports that the University Law Center will no longer consider the mission of organizations in determining grants, as was the case for the initial denial of funding.
"In partnership with the Equal Justice Foundation, the Law Center will provide grants to all students who work on law-related issues at a public interest organization or government agency," wrote Aleinikoff.
Joy Welan the president of the Catholic University Law Center's pro-abortion group, Law Students for Choice, was pleased with the decision. She said her group met with Aleinikoff several times over the policy.
"We think that this compromise is fantastic news, for students who are interested in pursuing careers in reproductive rights advocacy," Welan told The Hoya. "The dean has taken a huge step forward in advancing Georgetown's commitment to public interest law, and we applaud him for it."
Daniel Hughes, president of the Law Center's pro-life group - "Progressive Alliance for Life" - said plainly that the Catholic University was now funding abortion advocacy.
"Aleinikoff has a radically secular, morally relativistic vision for the Law Center," Hughes said in an e-mail to The Hoya. "He and other administrators have crafted a dishonest, legalistic 'compromise' that will allow students to gain assured, extensive Georgetown funding for pro-abortion legal work."
Atlantic City, N.J., Sep 27, 2007 (CNA) - The Alternatives abortion clinic in Atlantic City, New Jersey, opted to surrender its license to the state instead of correcting the list of health violations detailed in a 116-page report.
Atlantic City Councilman John Schultz, who leased the facility to Alternatives, said the clinic's equipment was emptied out of the building last month and the space is available for lease.
The state's report detailed a slew of violations at the clinic, including bloodstained operating tables, expired drugs and the absence of a sterilization sink.
"The situation at Alternatives is a snapshot of the condition at abortion mills across the country. Clinics have been recently closed for filthy and unsafe conditions in Ohio, Alabama, Florida, and Kansas. Abortion clinics in Missouri are fighting laws that would make them clean up or force them to close," said Cheryl Sullenger," Senior Policy Advisor for Operation Rescue.
The fact that these clinics would rather close than clean illustrates in a dramatic way just how dangerous abortion mills really are," said Sullenger. "And even if they did comply with safety standards, they have illustrated an attitude of disregard for the health and safety of their patients that doesn't go away with clean floors and sanitized instruments.”
The June 22 inspection was the first time the clinic had been surveyed by health officials in six years, although Health Department rules require inspections of licensed clinics every other year.
Alternatives abortion clinic owner Dr. Alan Kline, who also owns the Princeton Women's Center in Princeton, has not been willing to comment since the closing.
Washington D.C., Sep 27, 2007 (CNA) - The president of Human Life International, Father Tom Euteneuer, said recently that the latest document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on nutrition and hydration for terminal patients should lead Catholics who supported the killing of Terri Schiavo to "seriously repent and re-evaluate their consciences."
In an article for LifeSiteNews.com, Father Euteneuer referred to the response of the CDF to a question by the US bishops about whether it was morally obligatory to give food and water to a patient in a vegetative state. “Even though a child can figure out that it's not right to starve people to death, the Vatican set the issue to rest this week,” he said. “In its technically-precise language, the CDF vindicated our beloved Terri Schiavo by saying that no one can dare to commit or justify such an atrocity as her killing by any interpretation of Catholic teachings.”
Father Euteneuer continued, “The response was unambiguous.” “A patient in a 'permanent vegetative state' is a person with fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means."
“How many of us, at the time of Terri Schiavo's death, actually heard even so-called ‘good Catholics’ say that they should just let her die because ‘no one should have to live that way’ and other nonsense like that? The real message of this declaration is that no one should have to think that murderous way any more,” he said.
“The Vatican has spoken with the clear voice of conscience and has also vindicated all of us who fought for Terri's life and dignity, not because we were pro-life activists, but because we are Catholics,” Father Euteneuer continued. “Anyone who advocated her death in 2005, whether by sloppy reasoning or culpable agreement with the atrocity, needs to seriously repent and re-evaluate his conscience in light of the Church's teaching. After this declaration, there is no excuse for not getting it right.”
Detroit, Mich., Sep 27, 2007 (CNA) - St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic School was evacuated Wednesday after close to a dozen children became sick during a school Mass.
One child passed out and four seventh-graders were taken to local hospitals. Doctors could not determine the cause of their headaches and nausea, but their conditions were not believed to be serious.
The other students and staff walked across the street to Oakland Community College where parents were directed to pick up their children.
Emergency medical crews and hazardous materials teams went to the school of 860 students and officials tried to determine what caused the illnesses.
Bloomfield Hills fire crews could not find any indication that carbon monoxide was the cause.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 27, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata has denounced the actions of various federal and local officials, including Argentina’s Minister of Justice and the Supreme Court, for conspiring to allow a handicapped girl who became pregnant through rape to have an abortion, and he warned that “the totalitarianism of the pro-abortionists hovers over Argentina like a sinister threat. Like the shadow of Herod.”
Archbishop Aguer expressed regret over the Supreme Court’s authorization of this “abominable crime.” “Will we have to become accustomed to justice being violated by those charged with administering it, ignoring the fundamental rights that are protected by the constitution?” the archbishop asked. He contrasted the court’s decision with that of the doctors at the Parana Hospital who refused “to take an innocent life for reasons of conscience.”
In an article entitled, “The Shadow of Herod,” Archbishop Aguer criticized Argentina’s Minister of Health for “adding a new item to his resume as promoter of the culture of death,” by sending the young girl to a state hospital for the abortion. “Under ‘legal’ cover, and through official means, the right to be born of a child who was only a few months in the womb was deprived,” he said.
Archbishop Aguer also pointed out the “gross error” of the governor of the Buenos Aires province who has backed the doctors that performed the abortion, arguing that “each one has the right to have his own religious belief, but not to force others to act in accord with his religion.” “This is not about religious beliefs” the archbishop responded, “but rather about certainties furnished by biology, genetics, embryology and law!”
He noted that confusion and “ideological prejudice” prevent many people from seeing that the right to life is a truth that is merely rational, natural and scientific, and not religious. He pointed to the case of a prominent journalist who reported on the “unending legal Calvary” that the young handicapped girl had to endure until the Supreme Court authorized her abortion.
“Calvary is what the child endured, and not a legal but a bloody and deadly one!” the archbishop exclaimed.
Archbishop Aguer went on to note the intolerance that is inherent in the pro-abortion ideology, especially in political life, pointing to the example of some lawmakers who want to file legal action against officials who supported the child’s right to life.
“Nobody talks about the child. Of course, we haven’t seen his face; there was no time to call him by his name,” the archbishop said. “But what is certain is that he was alive, and they killed him,” he stated.
Rome, Italy, Sep 27, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Myanmar (CBCM) has called on Catholics to pray for their country as street demonstrations by Buddhist monks against the military government which has ruled for 45 years entered a second week.
According to press release published by the UCA News Agency, the bishops said, “The Church in Myanmar has been making chain prayers, fasting and perpetual adoration turn by turn in all the parishes of all the Archdioceses and Dioceses for peace and development in the country since February 1, 2006 up to now.”
“Especially at the present situation,” the bishops continued, “all Catholics are requested to make unceasing prayers and to offer special Masses for the welfare of the country. They also noted that in accordance with “the Canon Law and Social Teachings of the Catholic Church, priests and religious are not involved in any party-politics and in the current protests.”
The statement was signed by Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon and Archbishop Paul Zinghtung Grawng of Mandalay.
, Sep 27, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Hugo Barrantes of San Jose, Costa Rica, stated that a flyer circulating through the city that claims he is opposed to the Free Trade Agreement is an “abuse” and is “completely out of place.”
On Monday, Representative Mayi Antillon showed reporters the flyer printed with the name of the archbishop with an invitation to a “Vote No” rally against the referendum that is scheduled for October 7.
“Attempting to manipulate the voters by falsely using the name of Archbishop Barrantes is very serious, he is not involved in this,” she said.
Antillon stressed that the archbishop is very concerned about the matter because “we have been saying the truth, and not lies, must be used. In no way would he ever do something like this,” she added, insisting that the archbishop’s position has always been “totally neutral.” She also said the archbishop has not sponsored other activities organized by groups opposed to the referendum, including a group that has organized a protest at the auditorium owned by the Bishops’ Conference. “I find it very strange that the Conference and the auditorium managers would be part of this, as it would be sort of consenting to it,” she emphasized.
Archbishop Barrantes stressed that churches and religious places should not be used to promote a “yes” or a “no” vote on the referendum, even if the Supreme Court “says the clergy can take a position.” “What the Church teaches is that we are above this, not in favor or against, in order to provide ethical enlightenment,” the archbishop stated.
Caracas, Venezuela, Sep 27, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the Venezuelan Plenary Council, Bishop Emeritus Ovidio Perez Morales, said this week the constitutional reforms proposed by the government are designed to monopolize and centralize power in the hands of President Hugo Chavez.
“This is not a reform, this is another constitution,” the bishop warned, emphasizing that the Church does not take sides politically but rather sees her mission as fostering peace among all Venezuelans.
“We want to work for reconciliation,” he said. “The Church is not aligned with either the government or with the opposition. The Church desires and has the doors open to dialogue, she must foster tolerance, she is grieved by exclusions,” he added.
While the bishop acknowledged that everyone shares the blame for the mistakes in the Venezuela, “this country belongs to everyone. It must be a common home, whether you embrace Socialist thinking or not.”
San Francisco, Calif., Sep 27, 2007 (CNA) - Following an uproar over its sponsorship of the annual homosexual event known as the Folsom Street Fair, Miller Brewing Company has pulled its support from the event.
The scuffle over the brewer’s sponsorship is over a poster for the fair that portrays half-naked sado-masochists as Christ and his disciples at the Last Supper.
After several groups voiced their opposition and outrage—among them Americans for Truth, The Catholic League and the Family Research Council—Miller withdrew their support saying, "While Miller has supported the Folsom Street Fair for several years, we take exception to the poster the organizing committee developed this year. We understand some individuals may find the imagery offensive and we have asked the organizers to remove our logo from the poster effective immediately," according to Cybercast News Service.
The group responsible for creating advertising for the “world’s largest leather event” said it was not intended to be either "pro-religion or anti-religion." The attempt to maintain neutrality didn’t convince the poster’s critics.
The ad promotes the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco -- essentially a multi-city block party for homosexuals. It shows a group of men and women scantily clad, at a long table, laden with sex toys and sado-masochistic implements.
In response to the ad, Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth (AFT) -- an organization that says it aims to expose and counter "the homosexual activist agenda" -- said the homosexual movement contains a strong anti-Christian element.
Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the conservative Family Research Council (FRC), also weighed in on the controversial poster.
Sprigg told Cybercast News Service that imitating "The Last Supper" to promote the event was "a very bad idea, and it's naïve of them to suggest that this is only a take-off of a work of art and think that it would not be offensive to people who worship the central figure in that work of art, namely Jesus Christ."
He said that using the image to promote a homosexual festival "would be bad enough, but when you look at the picture, you see that the people are dressed in a way suggesting they engage in sado-masochistic sex acts, which makes it even worse."
"Implicitly, Jesus' disciples are portrayed as sado-masochists, and how that could not be profoundly offensive to Christians escapes me," Sprigg added.
LaBarbera agreed. "What's worse even than this open and blatant anti-Christian bigotry is the fact that the city of San Francisco blocks off several city blocks for a festival that celebrates perverted, sadistic sex," the ATF president said.
"I've actually attended this event as a critical observer," he said. "I've seen booths where men are whipping one another" in what LaBarbera called "a sickening spectacle. It's interesting that it's tolerated and promoted by homosexual activists."
Catholic News Agency has learned that the festival will also hold an event called “The Last Supper With the Sisters,” which will make the mockery of the sacred Christian event.
On Friday, the Sisters will bring in porn stars to entertain the leather crowd. The big day is on Sunday, or what the Sisters call “the biggest and baddest fetish fair fundraiser in the world!”
The president of the Catholic League, Bill Donahue has responded to Miller’s support for the event saying, “Apparently, Miller has decided to side with a small band of depraved and bigoted gays against Catholics (25 percent of the population) and Protestants (60 percent of the nation). This is an ethical and marketing fiasco of colossal proportions. I will announce within the next day exactly what our game plan will be. The collision course that Miller wants with Christians is now on.”
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom also seems supportive of the sadomasochists as he personally ran a full-page ad in the event's 64-page program that reads: "To all organizers and attendees of the Folsom Street Fair, their families, friends, colleagues and visitors from home and around the world, have a great day and enjoy this wonderful and exciting event."