London, England, Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - The presidents of the Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Scotland and England and Wales have issued a letter considering the forty years of legalized abortion in Britain. Their message emphasizes that "abortion is always a choice between life and death" and that political action must be taken to protect the unborn.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland, and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, called for social change and gradual political action to effect achievable pro-life reforms. "It is both licit and important for those in public life who oppose abortion on principle to work and vote for achievable incremental improvement to what is an unjust law," they wrote.
The United Kingdom has one of the most unrestrictive abortion laws in Europe, allowing abortion up to 24 weeks into gestation. In cases of fetal disability and other exceptional circumstances, abortions are permitted even until birth.
The cardinals also endorsed policies and habits that would lower the abortion rate even without outlawing abortion. "The law affects attitudes, but it does not itself compel anyone to have an abortion. Even without a change in the law the abortion rate could fall dramatically if enough minds and hearts were changed."
Examining the pro-choice rhetoric which says that having an abortion is about ‘the woman’s right to choose’, the cardinals pointed out that ironically, women who have had abortions have often said they did not have a genuine choice. "Abortion is a moment of choice. Abortion is always a choice between life and death, but we recognize that it is made in complex personal and domestic situations," they wrote.
The UK cardinals proposed improving these situations by encouraging fathers to take responsibility for their child, increasing counseling and health facilities for women in unexpected pregnancies, and dismantling the social "conveyor belt" that encourages women to abort without exploring alternatives. They stressed the importance of parents and families who would support their daughters and sons in making pro-life decisions. Further, they called for educational programs that both emphasize placing sexual relations in the context of marital fidelity and help people "understand realistically the joys and sacred responsibility of parenthood."
The two leaders of the Church in the UK closed their letter by holding up the dignity of human life created in the image of God and expressing hope that the next forty years would look much different than the past forty years of legal abortion in Britain.
Sacramento, Calif., Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - Many California parents are seeking some way to block implementation of the provisions of SB-777, recently signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. They say the new statute would impose a radical sexual agenda on California’s public schoolchildren.
The law bans school texts and activities that would exhibit any bias against homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality, and cross-dressing, according to Meredith Turney, legislative liaison for the Capitol Resource Institute, a pro-family lobbying organization based in Sacramento.
“Under this latest advance toward a Brave New World of polymorphous perversion, California textbooks will no longer be able to use words like 'mother and father' and 'husband and wife,' because they suggest that heterosexuality is the norm,” said Alan Carlson of the World Congress of Families. “Unbelievably, the law even allows students to use the restrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex if they identify with that gender,” Carlson told Christian Newswire.
But what can concerned parents do?
Capitol Resource Institute is seeking to block SB-777 with a referendum, which would allow voters to overturn the law. But qualifying a referendum for the ballot is not an easy task: it entails raising more than $500,000 and gathering 433,971 voter signatures in the next 90 days.
If the referendum were successfully placed on the ballot, SB-777 would not go into effect as scheduled on January 1, 2008. Instead, it would be up to the voters to decide the fate of the law in the June elections.
Assembly members Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) and Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) have already volunteered to serve as co-chairs of the referendum campaign. CRI’s Karen England told California Catholic Daily in a telephone interview she was confident a referendum is feasible. “People are rising up to stop [SB 777],” she said. “The referendum is absolutely doable.”
But even if the referendum is “doable,” Randy Thomasson of the Sacramento-based Campaign for Children and Families, another pro-family lobbying group, says he doesn’t think it goes far enough. “While the voters could reject and stop SB-777, a successful ballot referendum is a one-time deal,” Thomasson told WorldNetDaily. “Despite good intentions, a referendum – 'the power of the electors to approve or reject statutes' – simply does not prohibit the California Legislature from passing the same school sexual indoctrination bill next year, the year after, or whenever."
Thomasson said only a constitutional amendment -- a far more expensive and labor-intensive project -- could “wipe out SB-777 and prevent it from coming back.”
Ray Moore of Exodus Mandate, a nationwide group that promotes Christian private education and home schooling, has another solution: He says it’s time for Christians to abandon the public schools altogether. “This really is a call to conservative and Christian pro-family groups to give up this absurd idea of public school reform,” he observed on the web site exodusmandate.org. “It can't be done. The longer they talk about saving public schools, the longer they prolong this agony.”
The original story can be found at California Catholic Daily.
Alexandria, Va., Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - From Florida to Southern California, local Catholic Charities agencies are mobilizing to help their communities deal with recent and ongoing disasters.
With fires raging in Southern California, local Catholic Charities in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino/Riverside are coordinating and collaborating with their local Catholic and disaster relief partners to assess the needs and determine relief efforts.
In Florida, Catholic Charities of Northwest Florida is helping families who lost their homes recover from strong storms and a tornado that tore through the northern panhandle last week.
“Catholic Charities USA’s Office of Disaster Response is working closely with local agencies to ensure that our network has the tools and resources it needs to respond to these disasters,” said Kim Burgo, director of disaster response for Catholic Charities USA. “We anticipate making emergency grants available to our agencies to support their immediate efforts.”
Catholic Charities USA, which has been commissioned by the U.S. Catholic Bishops to represent the Catholic community in times of domestic disaster, responds with emergency and long-term assistance as needed. Its Disaster Response Office connects the Church’s social service agencies and disaster planning offices across the nation.
Vatican City, Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has called for the elimination of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in countries that have been involved in armed conflicts. The scale of the problem is quite large with around 70 million mines in areas of some 70 countries.
According to a press release issued by the pontifical council, on October 18 Cardinal Martino met with Heidi Kuhn, founder of the international Roots of Peace organization. The U.S. group is concentrate on reducing UXO through its "Mines for Vines" campaign, whose goal is to transform minefields into farmland.
"Every 30 minutes, a person is killed or maimed by UXO in countries that have been theaters of war. Every year 20,000 civilians are killed or injured because of the explosion of mines or cluster munitions,” the statement explained.
“This cruel type of weaponry does not discriminate between civilians and combatants; it is designed to inflict maximum suffering and not always to kill."
In the meeting, Cardinal Martino underlined the need "to increase commitment, particularly at the local level, to free the world from the dangers of UXO, which causes so much suffering and death in countries that seek to reestablish an order of justice and peace following the atrocities of a conflict."
Sydney, Australia, Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - World Youth Day 2008 organizers have hosted an information evening for more 15 Australian Jewish leaders. Bishop Anthony Fisher said that he sees World Youth Day as “an opportunity like no other for the renewal of every aspect of faith life in Australia.”
Coordinated through Stepan Kerkyasharian AM Chairperson of the Community Relations Commission, the meeting followed the briefing sessions held for Australian Muslim leaders and those of other Christian faiths.
WYD08 Coordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher OP said the meeting was also a chance to consider ways that the Jewish community might collaborate with the Catholic Church sponsored event, to be held in Sydney from 15-20 July 2008.
“World Youth Day is an opportunity like no other for the renewal of every aspect of faith life in Australia,” Bishop Fisher said.
“Although a Catholic initiative, World Youth Days have historically had a positive impact on all faiths in the countries where they have been held. This was one of the key messages we wanted to convey to the leaders.”
Bishop Fisher said 15 people attended the briefing including several Rabbis and representatives from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Jewish schools and services.
Vatican City, Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican Press, Libreria Editricie Vaticana, has announced that it will begin selling the Roman Missal of 1962.
The publication is being viewed as a sign of support from the Vatican for those who wish to celebrate the Mass in Latin according to the 1962 rite, recently encouraged by Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio instruction, "Summorum Pontificum."
It is available for purchase at a price of 59 Euros. Further details can be found at http://www.libreriaeditricevaticana.com/it/news/
Rome, Italy, Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - In a letter to the catechists of the world dated October 18, the feast of St. Luke, the prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, thanked them for their heroic service to the cause of evangelization.
“In this first year of my service to the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, at the Congregation for the Clergy, which is also entrusted with catechesis, I desire to send you my cordial and fraternal greetings,” the Brazilian cardinal said. He assured catechists of his appreciation for their hard work, which “often requires heroic sacrifices” offered “with joy and perseverance.”
“You all are one of the most promising signs with which the Lord never ceases to comfort and surprise us,” the letter continued. Cardinal Hummes encouraged them to continue being witnesses to the truth and to pass it on faithfully to the people of our times.
He exhorted catechists to strengthen their faith with prayer, formation and charity. “Always be joyful and diligent so that, through your work, ‘God may be glorified in all through Jesus Christ. To Him be the power and the glory’,” he said.
“In a world often without hope and victimized by violence and selfishness,” he went on, “may each gesture, each smile, each word you say be a living testimony that the Lord has overcome sin and death and that love is possible!”
Cardinal Humes said today’s world needs ministers of the Gospel whose lives “irradiate the fervor of those who have received the joy of Christ,” rather than evangelizers who are sad, discouraged, impatient or anxious.
Barcelona, Spain, Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - A well known Catholic University in Spain will give a Honoris Causa Doctorate to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow (Poland) and the US Catholic author George Weigel.
Both personalities will be honored by Abad Oliba University for their roles in promoting the teachings of the Catholic Church and the life and ministry of Pope John Paul II.
Cardinal Dziwisz is being honored for his 27 years as John Paul II’s personal secretary and Weigel for his work in writing "Witness to Hope," which is regarded as the definitive biography of the late Pope.
The ceremony will take place on November 14 at the university's main campus of Bellesguard, in the northern Spanish city of Barcelona.
CNA STAFF, Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - Stand True Ministries is holding its Fourth Annual Pro-life Day of Silent Solidarity on Tuesday October 23. Tens of thousands of students from four thousand schools across the globe have registered to take part in the event.
Protesting students will remain silent and will also wear red armbands or red duct tape on their mouths. They will distribute educational flyers to anyone who asks why they are silent. Homeschooling students will participate by visiting malls and other public areas to distribute flyers. Protestors are instructed to respect teachers and other public officials, speaking to them when required.
"Thousands of American babies are permanently silenced every day by the violent act of abortion," said Bryan Kemper, President of Stand True Ministries. "This day is in honor of those children, and we will stay silent as an act of solidarity with these innocent victims."
Mr. Kemper said the last year's event had some vital successes. "Last year we heard back from 16 girls who cancelled their abortion appointments because of this event," he said.
Cornwall, United Kingdom, Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops(CCCB) has concluded its annual Plenary Assembly without coming to a decision concerning the human rights organization Amnesty International's new policy supporting abortion.
Outgoing conference president Andre Gaumond, Archbishop of Sherbrooke, examined the contradiction in the new policy. "This is a movement that defends the rights of the oppressed as well as freedom of conscience and expression. What a paradox that the smallest of human beings, unborn children, are now being put at risk by those who should be their defenders," he said.
Archbishop Gaumond stated that the CCCB had unsuccessfully appealed to Amnesty International leaders to reverse the decision. The issue has been referred to the CCCB Permanent Council to decide how the conference should respond to the issue. A decision is expected in late November.
Catholics have worked with Amnesty International since its very beginning forty-six years ago. Amnesty International was founded by a Catholic convert, Peter Benenson. It has campaigned against torture, capital punishment, and other human rights violations.
In the past, Amnesty International had described abortion as "outside its mandate." A recent international convention in Mexico City added campaigning for legalized abortion to the organization's mission.
Naples, Fla., Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - A Buddhist monk denounced the Myanmar military junta's violent suppression of protesters and called for prayers for freedom and peace at an interreligious gathering in Naples this past weekend.
Venerable Uttara became a monk twenty years ago in Myanmar but fled to Britain in 1992. He said he did this to avoid capture by the military, since they were searching for him for his role in the 1988 protests also led by monks. He is now head of a Buddhist temple in London.
UCA News reported that Venerable Uttara spoke at the “Religions and Men” meeting organized by the Catholic lay community of Saint Egidio in Naples. "I am here to pray with all of you for the freedom and peace of the whole world." He spoke with care for his fellow Myanmar monks, many of whom have been detained after massive peaceful protests against the ruling military dictatorship
"Many are dead; many were seriously injured; many live in hiding and in terror; and I want to pray for their salvation and so that they can return to a normal life as soon as possible in the near future," he said.
The monk described the protests as a reaction against "extreme poverty, brutal repression, and ignoble corruption." He said the monks spread "love and gentleness" in the hopes of victory against the regime.
Venerable Uttara expressed fear for the victims of the military junta's retaliation: "We have seen many thousands of monks during the demonstrations, but we are now very sad because we do not know where they are now. We have heard that the military tortured those peaceful monks during the curfew at night, and the number of victims have risen to the order of thousands," he said. The government admits to 3,000 detentions, and there are diplomatic reports of nighttime cremations.
The monk noted that Buddhism would not be the only religion oppressed by the Myanmar regime. "If they can destroy the most powerful religion in the country in a few days, then we fear that whatever religion will not have an opportunity to survive under this regime in Burma," he said.
Praying for an end to repression, the release of the protesters, the end of poverty, illegal arrests and torture, the Venerable Uttara thanked the gathering for its invitation to speak.
His ecumenical audience included Vatican officials, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, and the second-highest official in the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Petrograd. Government representatives present included the Italian Prime Minister, members of the Holy See's diplomatic corps, and the presidents of Ecuador and Tanzania.
Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has reacted violently to a new document by the country’s bishops criticizing his proposed constitutional reforms, calling the bishops “morally unacceptable.”
In a statement released last Friday, the bishops of Venezuela used that phrase to describe Chavez’s proposed reforms. “They are the ones who are morally unacceptable for our people, for our Church, for us Catholics and Christians,” Chavez stated. “These bishops are an embarrassment, and if anyone of them thinks he is the exception let him speak up,” he said during an interview on state-run television.
“It was so sad to hear a bishop, several bishops, lie to the country,” he went on. “May God forgive them for their ignorance and insensitivity!” Chavez screamed.
The Venezuelan president said he was also preparing what he called a “2008 Revolution Plan,” which he said would be “a revolution within the revolution.”
The revolution would begin with the approval of the constitutional reforms,” Chavez said, “but I am not going to give any preview of the 2008 Revolution, which will be a deepening of the revolution,” he reiterated.
Santiago, Chile, Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - The Chilean government has imposed multi-million dollar fines on three pharmacy chains for not selling the abortion pill, the legitimacy of which the courts in the country are currently debating.
The government announced it would impose fines on three main pharmacy chains for not carrying the morning-after pill. Up to now, all of the major Chilean laboratories have refused to manufacture the pill, and therefore the government and abortion organizations have had to import it from Colombia.
In addition to the fines, the government has required the chains to explain the reasons for which they are not carrying the drug.
Chile’s Ministry of Health claims the pharmacies are obliged “by law” to sell the pill, and it said it has acquired 25,000 doses of the drug from a Colombian lab. “Last year we did not impose fines because the pill was not available in the country, but now it has been available for the last five months, and they still have not bought it,” said Health official Mauricio Osorio, adding that pharmacies should “urgently” begin to sell the drug.
If the pharmacies refuse they will be subject to more fines or even the “closing of their stores.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Mexico, in an editorial published by its official newspaper Desde la Fe, said this week the lawsuit against Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera accusing him of covering up sexual abuse by a Mexican priest is a now a closed case, after a court in Los Angeles dismissed the lawsuit.
“Thus have the diabolical intentions of those who sued (the cardinal) over an alleged international conspiracy of the Catholic Church to protect delinquent priests have fallen to pieces,” the article stated.
Cardinal Rivera was the subject of a lawsuit in Los Angeles by Joaquin Aguilar, who claimed that the cardinal covered up abuse by Father Nicolas Aguilar, who was a priest from the Archdiocese of Mexico working in California.
The article called Aguilar a “deceitful young person” and said his lawsuit, brought by “unscrupulous lawyers” represented “an abuse against the cardinal, the faithful and all Mexicans.” It emphasized that in the wake of the incident, the Church must analyze what measures need to be taken to repair the damage that has been done, especially with regards to how it has affected young people.
The editorial praised U.S. Judge Eliu Berle for his meticulous ruling, noting as well that legal scholars say an appeal of the ruling would not likely succeed. “In the end,” it stated, “officials did not find any reason to judge the case in a U.S. court and they decided that the issue—if it has any merit at all—should be under the competence of the Mexican justice system.”
Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 23, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino defended the bishops’ recent criticism of proposed constitutional reforms by President Hugo Chavez, saying the bishops’ opinions are consistent with their mission to “serve the people” and not an attempt to seek power.
“We are Venezuelan citizens with full rights to intervene in the life of the country, but when we do so we do it not as a political party, not under a political banner, but simply as bishops of the Church, as builders of peace, as fathers and brothers of all. We intervene not like someone seeking power but rather like someone who desires to serve the people,” the cardinal said.
He called on all Venezuelans to seek out unity through Jesus Christ, “overcoming the differences in the distinct ways of thinking and in our political sympathies.” The bishops of the country are united, he said, “in service to all Venezuelans and without political loyalties. That is a gift of God for Venezuela,” the cardinal said.
In their recent document on Chavez’s proposed reforms, the bishops said the proposed reforms “harm the fundamental rights of the democratic system and of the human person, endangering freedom and social coexistence. We consider them morally unacceptable in light of the Church’s Social Doctrine.”