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Archive of February 2, 2008

Dallas lawyer addresses the Catholic position on immigration

Dallas, Texas, Feb 2, 2008 (CNA) - With an estimated 12 million illegal aliens in the United States, immigration is an unavoidable issue in the upcoming 2008 presidential election.  Paul Hunker, a Dallas immigration lawyer with 15 years of experience in the area has written a summary of the Catholic Church’s teachings on immigration policy.

In his synopsis, Hunker examines papal documents, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and also Catholic social doctrine to support his findings on the dignity of human persons and the importance of welcoming the foreigner; balanced with the common good of society in regards to immigration.

The document is featured in this week’s Political Punch column.

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Pro-life victory in the ninth circuit

San Francisco, Calif., Feb 2, 2008 (CNA) - The License Plate Commission of the state of Arizona violated free-speech rights when it refused to issue specialty license plates with the motto, “Choose Life,” the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled on Monday.

According to the appeals court’s ruling, in 2002, the Arizona-based Life Coalition, a non-profit group that provides care for those considering abortion or affected by abortion, submitted an application to the license plate commission for a plate that would display the Coalition’s logo and the words, “Choose Life.” Members of the commission, however, said they were concerned that approving the specialty plate would make it appear that Arizona endorsed the pro-life message. The commission delayed acting on Life Coalition’s request.

In 2003, when Life Coalition’s chairman, Gary Paisley, asked the commission what requirements his group failed to meet, the commission denied the application by a voice vote. When Paisley asked for an explanation for the denial, the commission’s chair, Stacey Stanton, said, “the action of the Commission is final.” Stanton said she did not believe “now is an opportunity for…further debate, or for further info that [Life Coalition] could put on additional applications.”

Life Coalition filed suit in Arizona federal court against the state, but the judge ruled that, since it issues license plates, the state has the right to control their content.

In the 3-0 Ninth Circuit ruling in favor of Life Coalition, however, Judge Richard Tallman said that messages on specialty plates are not public but private speech. “Life Coalition controlled the message of its special organization plate, and the individual members who choose to purchase the plate voluntarily choose to disperse that message,” wrote Tallman. Because such messages are private speech, the government cannot deny an application for a specialty plate because it opposes a message.

The ninth circuit’s ruling establishes new legal standards for federal courts in California and eight other western states.

California formerly allowed specialty license plates. Approved groups benefited from fees paid on their specialty plates, minus state expenses. Various groups, such as coastal protection, Yosemite National Park, and 9-11 victims groups have been approved for the state’s specialty license plate program. Pro-life groups, however, were not approved

After repeated refusals by the California legislature to approve “Choose Life” specialty plates, the Women's Resource Network, a non-profit that promotes adoption over abortion, brought suit against the state in a Sacramento federal court. In 2004, U.S. district court judge Garland Burrell, Jr. declared the entire state specialty license plate program unconstitutional. The section of state law giving the legislature the discretion to decide which non-profits would benefit from bills authorizing license plates, said Burrell, violated the First Amendment, since the law lays down no standard by which the judgment would be made.

California to date has not established a new specialty license plate program.

Printed with permission from California Catholic Daily.

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Rick Santorum endorses Mitt Romney for president

Washington D.C., Feb 2, 2008 (CNA) - Mitt Romney scored a victory in the political endorsement battle today, as Rick Santorum, a former Republican senator from Pennsylvania known as a strong conservative, gave him his backing.

Speaking about the caucus convergence known as “Super Tuesday,” Sen. Santorum said, “In a few short days, Republicans from across this country will decide more than their party's nominee.  They will decide the very future of our party and the conservative coalition that Ronald Reagan built.  Conservatives can no longer afford to stand on the sidelines in this election, and Governor Romney is the candidate who will stand up for the conservative principles that we hold dear.” 

Sen. Santorum also offered his assessment of Romney’s ability to unite the Republican Party: "Governor Romney has a deep understanding of the important issues confronting our country today, and he is the clear conservative candidate that can go into the general election with a united Republican Party."

Governor Romney received Santorum’s endorsement by pointing to their shared values. "I am honored to have Senator Santorum's support.  Throughout his career of public service, he has always led with a steadfast commitment to our party's conservative principles.  He has fought for life, marriage, tax cuts and a stronger national defense.  In the coming days, I look forward to working with him as we fight for our party's conservative foundations." 

Senator Santorum served two terms in the United States Senate where he was also Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, the third-ranking member of the Republican leadership.

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Italian priest calls on athletes to stop blaspheming

, Feb 2, 2008 (CNA) - Father Nicoló Anselmi, director of Youth Ministry for the Bishops’ Conference of Italy, has called on professional soccer players looked up to by thousands of young people to stop blaspheming during games.

“Players, please, stop blaspheming when something goes wrong on the field.  You are offending and irritating us instead of making us have fun,” Father Anselmi said after news programs repeatedly showed a famous player clearly utter a blasphemy during a game on Saturday after a call by the referee in favor of the other team.

Recently the Italian soccer teams agreed to promote “fair play” on the field and to add what they call the “third half,” during which players shake hands after the final whistle.

Father Anselmi said, however, that the effort to improve the atmosphere on the field should include asking the players to stop blaspheming, a practice that has become increasingly more commonplace.

He pointed out that many young people, following the example of players, also blaspheme “and they justify themselves by saying they are not doing it to offend God or the Virgin, but rather they do it without considering the consequences because ‘everybody does it’.”

“Blasphemy,” the priest explained, “not only offends God, who loves always and loves blasphemers also, it also hurts believers.  He who blasphemes offends a concrete person.”

Father Anselmi proposed that fans establish an award not only for soccer but for other sports as well, such as basketball, volleyball and water polo, in which “the most sportsman-like, the most polite and the most altruistic player” is recognized.  “This is also a means of proclaiming the teaching of Jesus,” he said in conclusion.

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Hanoi Archbishop praises the solidarity of Catholics in Vietnam and around the world

Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb 2, 2008 (CNA) - In an open letter dated February 1, Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi officially confirmed the concession from government to return the nunciature and praised the solidarity of Catholics in Vietnam and around the world.

 

Since December 18, thousands of Catholics in Hanoi and other dioceses have been organizing daily prayer vigils outside the former nunciature in Hanoi, pleading for return of the building that had been confiscated by the Communist leadership in 1959. Their protest has resulted in a stunning victory with the agreement from the government to turn the building over to Church leaders.

 

During 40 days of protest, “We have lived a new Pentecost,” the prelate wrote.  “We have been united and devoted ourselves to the prayers…despite challenges and hardship”.

 

The prelate expressed his appreciation to the solidarity which “is not limited within the archdiocese of Hanoi but extended world wide”.  Daily reports in various languages from Asia-News, Catholic News Agency, Catholic World News, Independent Catholic News, VietCatholic News Agency and others drew great attention of Catholics around the world. The protest also garnered international media attention with extensive coverage by secular media.

 

In particular, the prelate thanked the Holy Father and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, who closely and attentively followed events in the diocese. He trusted that the Holy See would always raise its voice for the legitimate aspirations of Vietnamese Catholics before the government.

 

Recalling challenges of the protest and the hardship that Hanoi clergy and faithful faced during the protest in cold rains and biting winds, the prelate praised the sentiments of fervent devotion and deep attachment to the Church, the deep loving relationship between pastor and flock, amicable relations between faithful, and devout prayers to the Lord. They are "a gift of grace from the Lord".

 

In conclusion, the prelate thanked all people in Vietnam and around the world for their prayers and their support and wished them a very happy new lunar year filled abundantly with Lord’s grace.

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