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Archive of January 31, 2008

Austrian cardinal to present book on creation and evolution in San Francisco

San Francisco, Calif., Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, will give an official presentation of his new book on creation and evolution in Berkeley, California this February.

Cardinal Schönborn’s book, titled “Chance or Purpose?  Creation, Evolution, and a Rational Faith,” continues a long debate about God and the creation of the world.  The cardinal’s book addresses the issues raised by recent atheist writers such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris.

The book also examines the interpretation of the Book of Genesis, the problem of evil and suffering in a world created by God and the place of humanity in relation to nature.  The place of chance and divine purpose in human existence is another featured topic.

In 2006, the cardinal, who was the main editor of the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, published an opinion article on evolution in the New York Times.  Some critics charged him with biblical literalism and Fundamentalist “creationism.”  Both critics and proponents of the “Intelligent Design” movement tried to associate his name with that position.

Cardinal Schönborn distinguishes the biological theory of evolution from “evolutionism,” which he describes as the reduction of all reality to mindless, meaningless processes.  Arguing that science and rationally grounded faith are not contradictory, the cardinal’s book examines philosophical and theological questions often overlooked or ignored by many contemporary thinkers.

The cardinal will speak at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley on February 15, from 2:15 - 3:45 pm Pacific Time.  The book’s website is www.ChanceOrPurpose.com .

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California abortionist to be tried for practicing medicine without a license

Los Angeles, Calif., Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - The owner of a California abortion clinic chain faces trial on charges of practicing medicine without a license, Operation Rescue reported on Tuesday. 

In addition, the accused woman’s clinics are now directed by a doctor accused of repeated negligence, including causing the death of a child during birth.

Bertha Bugarin, 47, owner of the Clinica Para La Mujer de Hoy abortion chain, was arrested last year on August 1 after five clinics were raided by the Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force of the Los Angeles Police Department.  She was charged with five felony counts of practicing medicine without certification and two misdemeanor accounts of dispensing medicine without a license.  Her sister, Raquel Bugarin, was also arrested and charged with five counts of “aiding or abetting the practice of medicine without certification,” according to a September 7 press release from the Los Angeles Police Department.

“Bertha Bugarin allegedly managed medical clinics in Panorama City, Baldwin Park, Los Angeles and Huntington Park,” said the press release. “When physicians were not in the office, she allegedly performed medical procedures on five patients. In some incidents, she was allegedly assisted by her sister, Raquel Bugarin.”  According to the press release, the incidents allegedly occurred in February and March 2007.

Bugarin has promoted her abortion clinics with street flyers distributed in Hispanic shopping areas.  Some flyers offered a $10 discount.

Bertha and Raquel Bugarin were released on $500,000 and $100,000 bail, respectively.  They are scheduled to appear in court on March 8 and if convicted they could face five years and eight months in prison.

Though Bugarin’s abortion clinics closed after her arrest, they reopened under the name Clinica Medica Feminina Para La Communidad, according the California Catholic Daily.

The clinics are now directed by abortionist Nolan Jones, who has a history of receiving disciplinary action from the Medical Board of California.  He has been accused of repeated negligence, incompetence, and violation of probation. 

In 1997 Jones was thrown off of the staff at San Bernardino Community Hospital for allegedly negligently causing the death of a child during birth.

According to a 1998 California medical board accusation cited by the California Catholic Daily, Jones ruptured the uterus of a mother in labor.  Though a fetal heart monitor showed a slowing heart rate, Jones left the hospital for hours.  While later performing a caesarian section on the mother, the accusation says, Jones observed the woman had experienced "a complete rupture of the uterus ... both the baby and the placenta were found in the abdominal cavity. The baby ultimately expired."

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President of ACN says that love must be at the heart of almsgiving

Konigstein, Germany, Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - Mr. Hans-Peter Röthlin, the President of the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), spoke yesterday in Rome about the recent papal Lenten message saying that, the Pope’s central point is that “the mystery of almsgiving is love.”

In his address Mr. Röthlin spoke about the life and work of the founder of ACN, the late Father Werenfried van Straaten, who died in 2003 and who was known to millions by the nickname of the "Bacon Priest".

During his lifetime, said Mr. Röthlin, Father Werenfried had been described as "the greatest beggar in the Church's history". He had hastened through the world in order "to dry the tears of God, wherever He weeps", and to "bear witness to the sufferings of the children of God". In the Western world above all, he had sought to "reawaken the conscience of the people", Mr. Röthlin continued. Almost his sole method had been preaching, whereby he had told his own story which was "a synonym for the history of his charity", Mr. Rudkin added.

The president of ACN underlined the fact that the Holy Father had said in his Lenten message that everything must tend "not to our own honour, but to the honour of God". Father Werenfried also emphasized this point by reminding people of the poor widow in the Gospels, and in his Spiritual Guidelines admonished those who give away donations that "they must never forget that they are administering not only the money but above all the love of our benefactors".

Mr. Röthlin stressed that in speaking of administering love along with money, Fr. Werenfried had hit on the "central point" of the papal message, namely that the mystery of almsgiving is love.

Turning to the fourth point in the papal message, which speaks of the joy in giving, Mr. Röthlin said that it had made him think of just how many people had gone away from Father Werenfried and from ACN with "their eyes full of happiness and joy" after having "emptied the entire contents of their wallets". The president of ACN recalled how Father Werenfried, after having preached during Holy Mass in the churches, would stand at the door with his legendary hat in his hand. People had "rushed up to him with banknotes in their hands, and had often striven to be the first in this contest of love".

Mr. Röthlin explained that while ACN has only now begun to write Father Werenfried's history, …they can confirm already that “this story is a story of love, love that has not diminished with the death of our founder".

Mr. Röthlin concluded his address by outlining the essence of ACN today. He did so with a quotation from Father Werenfried himself: "Our charity is a meeting place of the Universal Church, where God's children from every nation on earth meet together in supernatural love and mutually enrich one another."

The international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need, which has its headquarters in the town of Königstein, near Frankfurt in Germany, is a charity of pontifical right, and therefore directly answerable to the Holy See. It has national offices in 17 countries -- in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and Latin America -- and supports over 5,000 pastoral projects annually in some 140 countries around the world. The charity was founded in 1947 by the Dutch Norbertine priest and religious, Father Werenfried van Straaten and helps the Catholic Church wherever she faces persecution or discrimination or is too poor to fulfill her pastoral and social mission.

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Pope: Reproductive technologies are prone to violate human dignity

Vatican City, Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - This morning, Pope Benedict XVI asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to focus on "the difficult and complex problems of bioethics." More specifically, the Pontiff drew the teaching body of the Church’s attention toward issues associated with reproductive technologies, explaining that some of them violate human dignity.

Pope Benedict carefully explained the role that the CDF should pursue, giving them some limits. The "Church's Magisterium certainly cannot and should not intervene on every scientific innovation. Rather, it has the task of reiterating the great values at stake, and providing the faithful, and all men and women of good will, with ethical-moral principals and guidelines for these new and important questions,” he said.

As people grapple with the moral questions that arise from the advances in the bio-medical field, the Holy Father offered two “fundamental criteria for moral discernment.” The criteria are: “unconditional respect for the human being as a person, from conception to natural death; and respect for the origin of the transmission of human life through the acts of the spouses".

Among the "new problems" that require a re-evaluation are "the freezing of human embryos, embryonal reduction, pre-implantation diagnosis, stem cell research and attempts at human cloning," Benedict XVI said.

All these, he said, "clearly show how, with artificial insemination outside the body, the barrier protecting human dignity has been broken. When human beings in the weakest and most defenseless stage of their existence are selected, abandoned, killed or used as pure 'biological matter', how can it be denied that they are no longer being treated as 'someone' but as 'something', thus placing the very concept of human dignity in doubt".

Pope Benedict also wanted people realize that contrary to what some say, "the Church appreciates and encourages progress in the biomedical sciences, which opens up previously unimagined therapeutic possibilities".

Explaining why the Church speaks out about these modern concerns, he said that "she feels the need to enlighten everyone's consciences so that scientific progress may be truly respectful of all human beings, who must be recognized as having individual dignity because they have been created in the image of God".

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Card. Christoph Schönborn introduces Congress on Divine Mercy

Vatican City, Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - Today, at the Holy See’s press office, the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, announced the details of the first World Apostolic Congress on Divine Mercy, which will coincide with the anniversary of the death of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II.

The event will take place in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican from April 2-6, 2008.  It is a good sign, said Cardinal Schönborn, that the first world congress on mercy should open on April 2, third anniversary of the death of John Paul II, because “the congress in Rome must clearly show that mercy is the central core of the Christian message,” the cardinal said. “This message promotes peace in the world, between peoples and religions. It helps people to discover the true face of God, but also the true face of man and of the Church.”

St. Faustina was canonized by John Paul II on April 30, 2000; on that same day he also established the second Sunday of Easter as the Feast of Divine Mercy.

The archbishop recalled how during St. Faustina’s life (1905-1938) the message of divine mercy was “a special support and an inexhaustible source of hope ... for all the Polish people. This message is more necessary than ever in our own times, as the daily news constantly confirms.”

“In 2004 John Paul II appealed to the entire Church to be a ‘witness to mercy,’” said the cardinal. "While at the Regina Coeli prayer on April 3, 2005 he would have said: ‘Love changes hearts and brings peace. How great is the need for mercy in the world’. Death prevented that great Pope from pronouncing those words, but the message has lost none of its validity or relevance.”

Cardinal Schönborn concluded: “The message of John Paul II and of Faustina Kowalska is not some abstract principle, it has a name and a face: Jesus. ... ‘Looking to Christ', that is the heritage of John Paul II, it was also the theme of Benedict XVI's visit to Austria last year, and will be the nucleus of the First World Apostolic Congress on Mercy.”

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Denver archbishop continues to address Colorado bill

Denver, Colo., Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - In an interview with Rocky Mountain News, Archbishop Charles Chaput further explained his position on a proposed Colorado law that could threaten the identity of Catholic organizations that accept government funds.

 

Q: The most straightforward interpretation of your column suggests that you will shut down Catholic Charities if this bill - or any bill - passes which restricts your ability to hire or fire based on Catholic religious standards. Is that a correct reading of what you will do?

Chaput: No. Catholic Charities will continue its core mission to the poor with or without public funds. If the government wants to carry the burden it currently asks religious-affiliated groups to carry, that's the government's business, and so are the costs and problems that go along with it.

What I actually said is that Catholic Charities "is an arm of Catholic social ministry. When it can no longer have the freedom it needs to be 'Catholic,' it will end its services." At this point, HB 1080 is only a bill; a bad bill — but not yet the law. If HB 1080 were to become law, that would be the time for us to make service decisions based on the content of the law. But if you're asking me whether I meant what I said about closing services rather than compromise our religious identity, I most certainly did.


Q: What current standards do you and the Catholic archdiocese demand of your employees when it comes to sexual orientation and religion?

Chaput: We expect our employees to respect Catholic teaching and support it in their professional lives. That's logical and just because the Catholic community has a religious mission. Obviously, we respect the personal lives of our employees. We have no interest, nor does any other sensible employer, in intruding on their privacy or family autonomy outside their service to the Church. But it's self-defeating to imagine a Catholic-affiliated ministry where the key guiding people can't be required to be Catholic.


Q: You note that Catholic Charities already employs many non-Catholics. Obviously, you aren't discriminating against them in your hiring practices even today. So what's the danger of this law — its worst-case effect? Please give some specific examples of how it could impact an agency like Catholic Charities.

Chaput: I think I've said what I need to say pretty clearly in my Jan. 23 column, and Chris Rose amplified on that well in his Jan. 30 letter to the Denver Catholic Register.


Q: How do you respond to those who say, "Oh, the archbishop is just playing politics by threatening to shut down Catholic Charities. Would he really deny services to the poor and disadvantaged — take milk from babies' mouths — just to keep from complying with established discrimination laws?"

Chaput: Christians were delivering services to the poor long before government got into the business and will continue to do so long after any of us are around to argue. The Church didn't start the HB 1080 debate. We had it pushed on us. HB 1080 has bad implications for all religious service organizations, not just Catholic ones. This unfortunate bill and its fallout are entirely the work of others. But anyone who thinks the Catholic community is 'playing politics' on this matter is seriously mistaken. We're eager to cooperate with anyone of good will. Catholic Charities has a long track record that proves it. But we won't be used by the government to provide services, often at a financial loss to ourselves, and then be told we can't hire key people according to our religious identity because it allegedly compromises the public good. That's unjust, bad for the poor, alien to American history, and offensive to religious believers.


Q: Your opposition to this bill will also have some people wondering, "But isn't any kind of discrimination against groups of people just plain wrong? Shouldn't religious groups that believe in helping people want to outlaw every kind of discrimination, no matter what kind it is?" What do you say to them?

Chaput: I'd ask them to use their common sense. It's reasonable for a religious organization to ensure and protect its religious identity. It's also reasonable to expect religious organizations to refrain from proselytizing when using public funds.

But it's unreasonable — in fact, it shows a peculiar hostility toward religion — to claim that religious organizations will compromise the public good if they remain true to their religious identity while serving the poor with public funds. That's just a new form of prejudice using the 'separation of Church and state' as an alibi.

Published with permission from the Archdiocese of Denver

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Legionaries of Christ founder passes away

Denver, Colo., Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - Father Álvaro Corcuera, General Director of the Legionaries of Christ, announced today that their Founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, has died in the United States at the age 87 from natural causes.
 
In the official statement, Fr. Corcuera announced "the departure of their beloved founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado to heaven on January 30,” as well as the Legionaries “deep gratitude to all those who wish to unite in prayer for the eternal repose of his soul".

By the will of Father Maciel, the funeral will be celebrated privately, "in an atmosphere of prayer and simplicity in his hometown, Cotija, in the state of Michoacán, Mexico."
Fr. Marcial Maciel was born in Cotija de la Paz, Mexico on March 10, 1920.

At the age of fifteen, he entered a seminary run by his uncle, Saint Rafael Guizar y Valencia, the bishop of Veracruz. According to his official biography, it was in 1936 when he felt the call to found what in time would become the religious congregation called the Legionaries of Christ, with the later addition of the Regnum Christi lay movement.

On January 3, 1941, with the bishop’s blessing, he established a community in the style of a minor seminary with thirteen teenagers, while he was only 20 years old.

He was ordained a priest on November 26, 1944; and on June 13, 1948, the bishop of Cuernavaca, Bishop Alfonso Espino y Silva, canonically established the religious congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and of Our Lady of Sorrows, which would later be called the Legionaries of Christ.

The Legionaries of Christ gained recognition as a congregation of pontifical right through the “Decree of Praise” granted by Pope Paul VI in February of 1965.

The Legionaries of Christ currently have three bishops, about 750 priests, and close to 2,500 aspirants to the priesthood, novices, and religious in formation, with centers established in 20 countries. Regnum Christi currently has 70,000 members from about 40 different nations.

The Center for Higher Studies of the Legionaries of Christ in Rome currently forms more than 400 religious, and through Regnum Christi, Father Maciel also established an international network of Catholic volunteers.

Father Maciel participated in the bishops’ synods on priestly formation (1990), on consecrated life (1994), and on the Americas (1997). He also took part in the Fourth General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate in Santo Domingo (1992).

After directing the congregation for 64 years, Father Maciel declined to accept re-election as the General Director in January of 2005.

Sixteen months later, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement to settle the issue of accusations of misconduct leveled against him.

Father Maciel "spent his final years in a private life of prayer, a spirit of obedience, submission, and reverence for the Catholic Church which he had so deeply loved and taught others to love", the official statement says.

A date for his funeral has not been released.

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Benedict XVI revisits teachings on ecumenical dialogue and evangelization

Vatican City, Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - This week as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) holds a plenary session at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI received its members in an audience to reaffirm the beliefs that the Catholic Church is the “one and only Church of Christ” and that no one is exempt from the need to evangelize.

The Pope recalled how last year the congregation published “two important documents presenting ... certain clarifications necessary for the correct functioning of ecumenical dialogue, and of dialogue with the religions and cultures of the world.”

Pope Benedict first spoke about the document titled, “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church”, which reiterated the constant teaching of the Church on salvation.

He recalled the teaching which says, “the one and only Church of Christ has subsistence, permanence and stability in the Catholic Church and, consequently, that the unity, indivisibility and indestructibility of the Church of Christ is not invalidated by separations and divisions among Christians.”

This understanding of what the Church is differs markedly from other Christian churches’ concepts of ‘Church’. The Holy Father noted this difference and then said, “This, far from impeding true ecumenical commitment, will be a stimulus to ensuring that discussion of doctrinal questions is always carried out with realism, and with complete awareness of the aspects that still divide Christian confessions,” he said.

The Pope then moved on to the other document published by the congregation last year, the “Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization”, issued in December.

“Faced with the risk of persistent religious and cultural relativism,” he said, this document “stresses that the Church, in a time of dialogue between religions and cultures, is not dispensed from the need to evangelize and undertake missionary activity among peoples, nor does she cease asking mankind to accept the salvation that is offered to everyone.

“The recognition of elements of truth and goodness in other religions of the world, ... collaboration with them in the defense and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of universal moral values, cannot be understood as a limitation to the Church's missionary task, which involves her in the constant announcement of Christ as the way, the truth and the life,” the Pope explained.

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Updated--Vatican Secretary of State asks Vietnamese archbishop to facilitate dialogue

Hanoi, Vietnam, Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, has sent a letter to the Archbishop of Hanoi asking him to facilitate dialogue with the Vietnamese government by ensuring peaceful public demonstrations.

In his letter written in French and dated January 30th, Cardinal Bertone explains that he has been following the events in Hanoi “with great attention and concern” as the longstanding tensions between the Archdiocese and the communal authorities have come to a boil.

As he has watched the protests unfold, Cardinal Bertone wrote that he was filled with admiration for “the sentiments of fervent devotion and deep attachment to the Church and the Holy See expressed by the thousands of faithful who, day by day, gather peacefully to pray before the place, which has become a symbol demanding that civil authorities to take into account the needs of the Catholic community.”

However, the Secretary of State also expressed his concern that “there is the danger that the situation may get out of control and could turn into verbal and even physical violence.”

Given the possibility of violent repression, he asked in his letter to Archbishop Ngô, “in the name of the Holy Father… to intervene, so as to avoid gestures that disrupt public order and so that things may return to normal. In that way, it will be then possible, in a more serene climate, to resume dialogue with the authorities, and find an appropriate solution to this delicate problem.”

Cardinal Bertone closed his letter by saying, “I can assure you that the Holy See, on its side, as it has always done, will not cease to be a messenger of the legitimate aspirations of Vietnamese Catholics before the Government of your country.”

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St. Paul shows that proclamation of Christ is born of love, say Turkish bishops

, Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Turkey said this week that “proclaiming Jesus Christ for Paul was a necessity that was born of his love for Him.  This means that whoever encounters Christ can’t help but proclaim him in word and deed.”

The bishops’ message comes from a pastoral letter entitled, “Paul, witness and apostle of the Christian identity,” which they have issued on the occasion of the Pauline year proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI for June 28, 2008 through June 29, 2009, for the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of St. Paul in Tarsus, Turkey.

St. Paul, the bishops write, reminds all Christians that “we cannot encounter God except through Christ.  He is the door and the bridge between us and the Father.  The Apostle, who with his example and words that strengthen identity, is also a man of dialogue.”

Used to encountering people of different ethic and religious traditions, “Paul understood that the spirit of Christ is present not only in the Church but precedes her and encourages her towards the outside,” they said.

After encouraging dialogue with the Muslims in the country, who are in the majority, the bishops concluded by inviting the faithful to read the letters of St. Paul, study them in their parishes and “make them an instrument for cultivating ecumenical initiatives.”

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Monument to John Paul II almost ready in Cuba

Havana, Cuba, Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - A tower, a bell, a cross and a statue of John Paul II make up the new monument dedicated to the late Pontiff who visited Cuba a decade ago and that will be inaugurated on February 23 by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State.

The monument, which will be erected in the city of Santa Clara, where the Pope celebrated his first Mass on Cuban soil, is the first one ever on public lands, that is, on land that is not the property of the Church.

The project was developed by the construction office of the Diocese of Santa Clara and was designed by architect Luis Orlando Fernandez Squitin.  Flanked by the flags of Cuba and the Holy See, it consists of a tower with a bell, crowned by a cross, with a statue of John Paul II in front.  Behind the tower is a 13 panel mural with an image of Our Lady of Charity with her mantle extended as a sign of protection.  On one of the panels is John Paul II’s phrase: “Be not afraid, open the doors to Christ.”

Speaking to the SIR news agency, Bishop Jose Felix Perez, executive secretary of the Cuban bishops, said that during the ten years since the papal visit, “some things have changed for Catholics.”  “The pastoral dynamism of the Church has changed positively, as well as the missionary spirit, but there is a lack of access to the media and a wider social action of the Church,” he said.

During the last decade, he added, “the number of Catholic communities has grown and the quality of the faith has improved.”

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Socialists want to change definition of “human remains” to facilitate abortions

Madrid, Spain, Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - Spain’s Socialist government has proposed a new law that, if approved, would change the definition of “human remains” in order to exclude the remains of aborted babies and thus diminish public pressure over abortion clinics.

Current law in Spain considers the human remains from abortion to be “cadavers,” requiring that they be transported in a funeral service vehicle under appropriate conditions to a cemetery for cremation or burial.

The socialist proposal would modify current law to exclude the remains of babies aborted up to the 28th week from the definition of “human remains.”

Pro-life organizations have pointed out that advances in science have made it possible for pre-mature babies that are 28 weeks old or even less to survive outside the womb.  They point to the recent case of Amillia, born at 22 weeks in the United States.

If the new law is approved, the remains of the unborn babies who are 28 weeks or younger will be considered “trash” or “recyclable”. 

According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, more than 12,000 abortions take place between the thirteenth and the twenty-ninth week.

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Coalition of Colorado religious charities unites against discrimination bill

Denver, Colo., Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - Several faith-based organizations are protesting a proposed Colorado law that would forbid charities which receive government funds from using religious-based hiring standards.

Ten organizations gathered on the steps of the state capitol on Wednesday, including the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver, the Protestant-evangelical group Focus on the Family, and Avista Adventist Hospital, run by the Seventh-day Adventists.  They expressed their opposition to House Bill 1080, calling it "a drastic departure from Colorado state law."  The bill removes religious organizations’ existing exemption from anti-discrimination measures if the organizations accept government funding.

Christopher Rose, CEO of Catholic Charities of Denver, said the organization “would seriously look at ending our partnerships with all governments” if the bill passes, according to the Rocky Mountain News.  Rose said refusing government funding would mean the charity would have to close a homeless shelter for veterans and end childcare and mental health counseling programs for the working poor 

Catholic Charities, the region’s largest private, nonprofit social services provider, uses $12.7 million in government funds, out of a total budget of $30 million.

Jim Pfaff, CEO of Colorado Family Institute, said the bill would end mutually beneficial partnerships between religious groups and state and local governments. 

"Historically, government encouraged such groups because they were successful precisely because of their religious beliefs," Pfaff said.  "Government is responsible to protect the free exercise of religion, both public and private.”

The Colorado House Majority Leader and bill sponsor Alice Madden, a Democrat representing Boulder, distributed a statement responding to the protests.  "(The bill) will not change the real world practices of organizations such as Catholic Charities," her statement said.

She also promised to address the concerns of the charitable organizations. 

Last year Colorado state law added sexual orientation and religion to categories covered by anti-discrimination regulations.

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Spanish bishops: Vote "no" for policies against the faith

Madrid, Spain, Jan 31, 2008 (CNA) - The Executive Committee of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference has issued a statement in view of the upcoming general elections reminding Catholics that while they can belong or support different political parties, some policies are incompatible with Christian teachings and therefore should not be supported.

In view of the March 9 elections, the bishops said they were offering “to Catholics and all those who wish to listen to some considerations that encourage responsible voting.”  “We speak as pastors of the Church who have the duty and the right to guide the moral discernment that is necessary when making decisions that will contribute to the full recognition of the fundamental rights of all and the promotion of the common good,” they stated.

The bishops expressed their respect for “those who see things differently,” but they called for “freedom and respect for freely proposing our way of seeing things, without anybody feeling threatened or without our comments being interpreted as an offense or a danger to the freedom of others.”

“While it is true that Catholics can support different parties and be active in them,” they added, “it is also true that not all policies are equally compatible with the faith and the demands of the Christian life, nor are they equally close and proportionate to the objectives and values that Christians should promote in public life.”

For this reason, “Catholics and citizens who wish to act responsibly, before casting their vote in favor of a particular proposal, should evaluate the different political options, keeping in mind the appreciation that each party, each policy and each leader gives to the moral dimension of life,” the bishops said.

“The State’s neutrality on religion or secular nature should not be confused with a moral disconnect and the extinction of objective moral obligations,” the bishops continued. “In saying this we are not pretending to submit government leaders to Catholic moral criteria.  But we are asking them to abide by the common moral denominator founded upon reason and upon the historical experience of each nation.”

The bishops recalled that “it is not just to try to artificially construct a society without religious references, [making it] exclusively worldly, without worship of God or any aspiration for eternal life.”

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