Archive of September 28, 2007

Northwestern Minnesota Diocese receives new bishop

Vatican City, Sep 28, 2007 (CNA) - The Diocese of Crookston received a new bishop this morning with Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of Monsignor Michael Hoeppner as its next spiritual head. Bishop-elect Hoeppner will replace Bishop Victor Balke who has been the bishop of Crookston since 1976.

Msgr. Hoeppner comes to Crookston from the Diocese of Winona, Minnestoa where he is well regarded for his service to the Church. 

Bishop Bernard Harrington of the Diocese of Winona praised Msgr. Hoeppner’s appointment. “I am delighted that Father Hoeppner has been appointed as Bishop of Crookston,” Bishop Harrington said. “He is well-prepared and well-qualified and I know the people and the clergy of the Diocese of Crookston will welcome him with open arms and work with him to build up the Church of Crookston.”

Bishop-Elect Hoeppner was born June 1, 1949, to Joseph and Anna Hoeppner in Winona. He has three siblings: Patricia, Edward and Mary. He attended Cathedral Grade School, Cotter High School, St. Mary’s College and Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, all in Winona.

He undertook his theological studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy, and was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Winona on June 29, 1975, by Pope Paul VI at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He holds a degree in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome and a degree in Canon Law.

The Diocese of Crookston includes 14 counties in northwestern Minnesota and serves about 36,000 Catholics.

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Verizon blocks messages of abortion-rights group

Washington D.C., Sep 28, 2007 (CNA) - One of the largest wireless telephone companies in the United States has rejected a request from Naral Pro-Choice America to make its mobile network available for a text-message program.

The other leading wireless carriers have accepted the program, which allows people to sign up for pro-abortion text messages from Naral. But Verizon Wireless says it has the right to block “controversial or unsavory” text messages, despite the profits it could have generated from the program.

In turning down the program, Verizon told Naral that it does not accept programs from any group “that seeks to promote an agenda or distribute content that, in its discretion, may be seen as controversial or unsavory to any of our users.”

Nancy Keenan, Naral’s president, said Verizon’s decision interfered with political speech and activism.

The group provided the New York Times with an example of a recent text message that it has sent to supporters: “End Bush’s global gag rule against birth control for world’s poorest women! Call Congress. (202) 224-3121. Thnx! Naral Text4Choice.”

According to legal experts,  private companies like Verizon probably have the legal right to decide which messages to carry. The laws that forbid common carriers from interfering with voice transmissions on ordinary phone lines do not apply to text messages.

Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said the decision turned on the subject matter of the messages and not on Naral’s position on abortion. “Our internal policy is in fact neutral on the position,” he said. “It is the topic itself that has been on our list.”

Nelson suggested that Verizon might rethink its position. “As text messaging and multimedia services become more and more mainstream, we are continuing to review our content standards.” The review will be made, he said, “with an eye toward making more information available across ideological and political views.”

Christopher S. Yoo, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania suggested that the market be allowed to determine the issue. “Instead of having the government get in the game of regulating who can carry what, I would get in the game of promoting as many options as possible. You might find text-messaging companies competing on their openness policies,” he said.

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Catholic League organizing boycott of Miller over 'anti-Christian' event

San Francisco, Calif., Sep 28, 2007 (CNA) - Catholic League president Bill Donohue is urging over 200 religious organizations to boycott Miller Brewing Company, which sponsored the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco this week.

The event featured an obscene ad that thrashes the Last Supper. Donohue described the Folsom Street Fair as an "incredibly outrageous and palpably anti-Christian event." More CNA coverage here.

"After being pressured, Miller offered a lame statement of regret and said it was pulling its logo from the ad," said Donohue in a news release on Thursday. The company has supported the fair for the last several years.

"Never have we experienced greater corporate arrogance than in this dispute with the Miller Brewing Company," he said.

"We take exception to the poster the organizing committee developed this year,” Miller Brewing told Cybercast News Service on Tuesday. “We understand some individuals may find the imagery offensive, and we have asked the organizers to remove our logo from the poster effective immediately."

But the Catholic League notes that Miller did not withdraw its sponsorship.

Donohue said his organization informed Miller that some of the money being raised at this festival would benefit a homosexual group, called Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Its members dress as nuns and use names, such as "Sister Hysterectoria", while taking part in events that "promulgate universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt." They were to hold a mock Last Supper dinner on Thursday night in San Francisco.

Miller was unmoved and unimpressed by this information, reported Donohue.

In a move to further demonstrate the vile nature of the fair, Donahue sent photographs from previous years to all eleven members of Miller's Executive Committee.

The Catholic League also plans to hold a long term boycott if Miller doesn't pull its sponsorship. "Over 200 religious organizations spanning six faith communities were sent a letter yesterday asking them to join us in the boycott. If S&M Miller doesn't pull its sponsorship, we will announce a game plan on Monday that will make the company regret it ever decided to insult Christians", the League said in a press release.

***The photos can be viewed at The Catholic League’s website , however viewers should be warned that they are at times extremely graphic.

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Feminists and false Catholics demand abortion be legalized throughout Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 28, 2007 (CNA) - Representatives of feminist and pro-abortion movements such as “Catholics for a Free Choice,” are demanding that the law allowing abortion in Mexico City be extended to the entire country.

The day before September 28—which pro-abortion groups have designated as the “Legalization of Abortion in Latin America Day”—activists re-launched their campaign to get abortion legalized in various Mexican states.

During a press conference, CFC spokeswoman Minerva Santamaria demanded the law be broadened, arguing that “not a single complication has occurred in the more than 1,600 legal terminations of pregnancy that have taken place in public hospitals in Mexico City, which shows that abortion practiced under safe conditions does not represent a risk to the health of women.”

Other pro-abortion organizations in Mexico demanded state governments adopt legal reforms allowing abortion and “respect the freedom of conscience of women who decide to terminate their pregnancies.”

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African archbishop claims condoms were infected with AIDS

Maputo, Mozambique, Sep 28, 2007 (CNA) - The head of the Catholic Church in African country of Mozambique is suspicious of the condom campaigns created to avoid the spread of AIDS and is proposing abstinence instead.

However, Archbishop Francisco Chimoio’s opposition to condoms goes beyond the Church’s teaching on sex and sexuality. He believes that some European-made condoms have been deliberately tainted with the HIV/AIDS virus to kill African people.

"I know of two countries in Europe who are making condoms with (the) virus on purpose, they want to finish with African people as part of their program to colonize the continent," Archbishop Chimoio told Reuters on Wednesday.

"I also know some companies who are manufacturing anti-retroviral drugs already infected with the virus, also in order to finish quickly the African people", he added.

The archbishop declined to name the European countries in question or the source of his allegations.

Catholics make up 17 percent of Mozambique's population. More than 16 percent of Mozambique's 19 million people, mostly aged between 14 and 49, are infected with HIV/AIDS. About 500 infections are recorded every day, according to the health department. AIDS patients occupy more than 50 percent of Mozambique’s hospital beds.

Diogo Milagre, deputy executive chairman of Mozambique's National Council for the Fight Against AIDS, said the government's efforts to combat the scourge were hampered by a struggling health infrastructure and staff shortages.

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Vote Life, Canada! urges Canadian bishops to join 40 Days for Life Campaign

Washington D.C., Sep 28, 2007 (CNA) - Vote Life, Canada! is urging Canada’s Catholic bishops to join the 40 Days for Life Campaign, which was launched in the United States Sept. 26 and will run until Nov. 4.

The 40 Days for Life movement includes prayer and fasting along with peaceful vigils at abortion facilities. The vigil is a quiet prayerful presence. No graphic signs are allowed and every participant must sign a Statement of Peace, which gives rules for maintaining a law-abiding, respectful vigil.

Parishes in 80 U.S. cities and 33 states have signed on.

"A nationwide, curbside effort to invoke conversion, forgiveness and prayer for participants, providers and supporters of abortion could very well turn the tide of legalized child-killing in our nation," said Eric Alcock, president of Vote Life, Canada!  in a press release.

Alcock hopes Canadian bishops will formally organize Canada's own 40 Days for Life in the future.

For information, go to:

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Paul VI led Church through difficult times with evangelical wisdom, Pope says

Vatican City, Sep 28, 2007 (CNA) - During difficult times of profound change, Paul VI provided a “precious service” to the Church and the world with evangelical wisdom and courage, guiding the barque of Peter “with evangelical realism and optimism,” fueled by “indomitable faith,” Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday while commemorating the 110th anniversary of the birth of Pope Montini.

The Holy Father made his comments at Castelgandolfo after a concert by the Festival Pianistico Internazionale Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli to commemorate the birth of the late Pontiff.

“This afternoon,” the Pope said at the conclusion of the concert, “music has given us the chance to remember an illustrious Pope, Paul VI, who provided the Church and the world precious service in difficult times and in social conditions characterized by profound cultural and religious changes.”

Benedict XVI praised “the evangelical wisdom” with which Paul VI “guided the Church during and after the Second Vatican Council.”  "With prophetic intuition,” he continued, Paul VI “understood the hopes and fears of the men and women of that time, seeking to highlight the positive aspects and illuminate them with the light of truth and of the love of Christ.”

"The love he fostered for humanity with its achievements, the marvelous discoveries, the advantages and rewards of technology and science, did not stop him from bringing to light the contradictions, errors and risks of scientific and technological progress detached from a strong reference to ethical and spiritual values."

The Holy Father said his predecessor was "prudent and courageous in guiding the Church with realism and evangelical optimism, fueled by indomitable faith."

He said that Paul VI "hoped for the coming of the 'civilization of love,' convinced that evangelical charity constitutes the indispensable element for building an authentic universal brotherhood."

“His successors have taken up this spiritual heritage and have followed in his steps,” Benedict XVI said in conclusion.

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Catholic publisher’s manual on teaching Islam in schools not supported by Spanish bishops

Madrid, Spain, Sep 28, 2007 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Spain announced Thursday that the publication of a controversial manual on how to teach Islam in schools by SM Publishers, which is operated by the Marianists, was done so with out the knowledge or consent of the bishops.

“In order to avoid confusing the true and much-wanted inter-religious dialogue with relativism and religious indifferentism, and in response to doubts that have been raised in this regard, it should be known that this publication has not been carried out with the knowledge or the consent of the Bishops’ Conference,” the statement indicated.

“Responsibility for the publication of this book and others planned for the same series lies with the Publisher,” the bishops stated.

The book in question, “Discovering Islam,” was put out by the Santa Maria Foundation’s publishing company with financing from the Ministry of Education and Science.

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Vatican officials deny claims John Paul II rejected medical care

Rome, Italy, Sep 28, 2007 (CNA) - Vatican officials have strongly denied claims by an Italian doctor that John Paul II hastened his own death by “refusing” to accept nourishment through a feeding tube.

In an article Dr. Lina Pavanelli questioned the reasons for which John Paul II received nourishment from a feeding tube “only” starting on March 30, 2005, three days before his death.  Pavanelli said the Pope clearly needed this treatment earlier.  She claimed the Pope chose not to receive adequate nourishment in order to weaken himself and die in a sort of “assisted suicide.”

Vatican officials told the Associated Press that the Pope did in fact use a feeding tube before March 30 but that it was not made known officially until that day.  They pointed out Pavanelli has not had access to the Pope’s medical records and that her accusations are based merely on media reports.

Father Thomas Williams told CBS News that euthanasia “is the intentional acceleration of the death of a person. And, I think, to allege that they intentionally accelerated Pope John Paul's death is really farfetched. I have spoken with a number of doctors, both ... in Italy and in the United States about this," Williams continued, "and there's no consensus there. Dr. Pavanelli is definitely in the minority in saying the tube should have been inserted earlier. In fact, the tube is only put in when the patient is no longer able to ingest food and liquid by his or herself. And the pope was able to do that until shortly before his death."

"Everybody loves a conspiracy theory, especially when it relates to the Catholic Church. I remember back in 1978, when Pope Paul VI died, everyone started putting forth theories that he was poisoned or killed in some way. The same thing happened after the death of John Paul I, so I'm not really surprised," Father Williams said.

"There has been an immediate statement by the pope's personal doctor ... who was there at the pope's bedside up to the point of his death,” Father Williams pointed out.  “He said these allegations are simply false."

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Patriarch denounces legal obstacles in Egypt that hamper the Church

Konigstein, Germany, Sep 28, 2007 (CNA) - During a recent visit to the headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, the Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt, said that while that country’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion and of conscience the contradictory legal situation in Egypt is making life difficult for the Church.

During his visit, Patriarch Naguib said most Muslims in Egypt follow Islamic law, according to which a Muslim cannot convert to another religion without being punished or even put to death.

Another grave problem for the Church in Egypt, resulting from the unclear legal situation, is the difficulty in obtaining permission to build churches.  A 19th century law still in force makes it difficult for Christians to obtain premises for religious worship, he said.

While there are many voices calling for equality in the country, Patriarch Naguib said changes would depend on the “good will” of the particular individual holding office. 

In Egypt there are about 250,000 Coptic Catholics and 80 million Muslims. The Catholic Church is divided into seven dioceses and has a total of 11 bishops and 150 priests.

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Bishops reverse earlier opposition to state law requiring Plan B for rape victims

Hartford, Conn., Sep 28, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic Bishops of Connecticut have reversed a previous decision and are allowing Catholic hospitals to provide Plan B, an emergency contraceptive, to rape victims without an ovulation test.

Their decision comes just days before a new state law would require the distribution of Plan B, regardless of religious beliefs. The Act Concerning Compassionate Care for Victims of Sexual Assault, which takes effect Monday, will require a pregnancy test, but not an ovulation test, before the drug is administered.

In a statement from the Connecticut Catholic Bishops, “The Bishops and other Catholic health care leaders believe that this law is seriously flawed, but not sufficiently to bar compliance with it at the present time. We continue to believe this law should be changed.”  Originally, Church officials had stated that the treatment was identical to abortion, however they have backed away from this position.

According to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, a woman who has been raped has the “moral right” to prevent pregnancy for three reasons:

“First, the rapist (including his sperm) is an unjust aggressor who has violated the woman’s dignity.  Second, rape is an act of force and violence, unlike the conjugal love in marriage whereby both spouses give freely of themselves in an act of unitive and procreative love.  Third, the woman is not responsible for the action, and thereby has the right to prevent the pregnancy.”

However, according to the Arlington Catholic Herald, the real difficulty in rape treatment protocols is having moral certainty that conception has not occurred.  Once conception has occurred, the new life is a new, unique human being.  As stated in the Declaration on Procured Abortion, "From the time the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already.”
Determining whether or not conception has taken place, has been the issue in Connecticut.  With the new law, and the uncertainty surrounding Plan B, the Catholic hospitals will be allowed to provide Plan B without ovulation tests.  However, the bishops have determined that due to the fact that “the teaching authority of the church has not definitively resolved this matter and since there is serious doubt about how Plan B pills work…[t]o administer Plan B pills without an ovulation test is not an intrinsically evil act.”

The bishops say in their statement that a pregnancy test will provide them with enough information to determine whether or not conception has taken place.

Plan B is a high dose of a drug found in many regular birth-control pills. Its maker, Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc., got approval last year to sell the drug over-the-counter.

The company says Plan B can lower the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The drug works by stopping ovulation and has no effect on an existing pregnancy.”

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Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue issues letter for end of Ramadan

Vatican City, Sep 28, 2007 (CNA) - Every year the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue issues a message to all Muslims at the end of Ramadan, the month in which Muslims fast and pray. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, respectively the president and secretary of the council, have called in their letter for Christians and Muslims to promote a culture of peace.

Extracts from the letter are given below:

"In the troubled times we are passing through, religious believers have, as servants of the Almighty, a duty above all to work in favor of peace, by showing respect for the convictions of individuals and communities everywhere through freedom of religious practice. Religious freedom, which must not be reduced to mere freedom of worship, is one of the essential aspects of freedom of conscience, which is the right of every individual and a cornerstone of human rights. It takes into account the requirement that a culture of peace and solidarity between men can be built in which everybody can be firmly engaged in the construction of an increasingly fraternal society, doing everything one can to reject, denounce and refuse every recourse to violence which can never be motivated by religion, since it wounds the very image of God in man.

"We know that violence, especially terrorism which strikes blindly and claims countless innocent victims, is incapable of resolving conflicts and leads only to a deadly chain of destructive hatred, to the detriment of mankind and of societies.

"As religious believers, it is up to us all to be educators of peace, of human rights, of a freedom which respects each person. ... No individual in the national community should be excluded on the grounds of his or her race, religion, or any other personal characteristic. ... We are particularly responsible for ensuring that our young people, who will be in charge of tomorrow's world, are formed in this spirit" providing "everyone an education appropriate to his or her particular circumstances, especially a civic education which invites each young person to respect those around him or her, and to consider them as brothers and sisters with whom he or she is daily called to live, not in indifference, but in fraternal care."

"In this spirit, the pursuit and intensification of dialogue between Christians and Muslims must be considered important, in both educational and cultural dimensions. Thus all forces can be mobilized in the service of mankind and humanity so that the younger generations do not become cultural or religious blocs opposed to one another, but genuine brothers and sisters in humanity. Dialogue is the tool which can help us to escape from the endless spiral of conflict and multiple tensions which mark our societies, so that all peoples can live in serenity and peace and with mutual respect and harmony among their component groups. ... This is the ardent hope I share with you: that Christians and Muslims continue to develop increasingly friendly and constructive relationships in order to share their specific riches, and that they will pay particular attention to the quality of the witness of their believers."


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Nation's largest wireless provider allows pro-abortion text messages

Newark, N.J., Sep 28, 2007 (CNA) - Earlier this morning Verizon chose to reverse yesterday’s decision that Naral Pro-choice America could not send text messages on their wireless network. 

Verizon spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said that, "The decision to not allow text messaging on an important, though sensitive, public policy issue was incorrect, and we have fixed the process that led to this isolated incident."

"Upon learning about this situation, senior Verizon Wireless executives immediately reviewed the decision and determined it was an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy," Nelson said. "That policy, developed before text messaging protections such as spam filters adequately protected customers from unwanted messages, was designed to ward against communications such as anonymous hate messaging and adult materials sent to children."

The newly approved text message program from Naral allows cell phone users to sign up to receive texts by sending a message to a five-digit number. These numbers are known as "short codes," and have become a popular way to get updates on everything from sports to politics to entertainment news.

Other leading wireless carriers have accepted Naral's request to use their networks, according to the AP.

Naral president Nancy Keenan said today that the organization was distressed by the company's original denial of Naral's request. Keenan also leveled accusations of “corporate censorship” against Verizon, a private company, for its denial of Naral’s short code.

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