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Archive of February 27, 2008

Coalition urges Catholic colleges to avoid hosting pro-abortion politicians

Manassas, Va., Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - After some Catholic college campuses hosted campaign events and appearances by pro-abortion political candidates recently, a coalition of Catholic organizations has released a statement urging all Catholic institutions to refuse to host politicians who oppose Church teaching on serious moral issues. 

On February 13, St. Mary’s University in San Antonio hosted a rally for Senator Hillary Clinton over the objections of Archbishop Jose Gomez.  St. Norbert College in Wisconsin hosted a similar rally.  St. Peter’s College in New Jersey hosted a large rally for Barack Obama on January 9, as did Loras College in Iowa in March.  Both candidates favor legalized abortion.

The statement calling for a boycott of politicians in conflict with the Church was organized by the Cardinal Newman Society, a group dedicated to the renewal and strengthening of Catholic identity in higher education.  Signatories included the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, Catholics United for the Faith, the Catholic Medical Association and the Society of Catholic Social Scientists.

Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick J. Reilly summarized the need for the statement, saying, “Like any Catholic institution, a Catholic college or university has a distinct and unique responsibility to provide an environment that supports and upholds Catholic values.”

While praising Catholic institutions’ promotion of peace, charity, justice, individual rights and the common good, the statement criticizes some schools for excessively compromising with moral relativism and secularism.

“Too often, however, some Catholic institutions pursue a misguided engagement with public policy and politics that compromises and even undermines their Catholic mission,” the statement said.  “Catholic institutions should engage the culture from a faithfully Catholic perspective, not a position of neutrality.  Political engagement does not require partisanship or endorsement of particular candidates.  But it also does not require secularization, by which Catholic institutions accept moral relativism and simply mirror secular culture.”

The statement exhorted Catholic colleges and universities to fidelity to Catholic teaching and respect for human life.

“We call on Catholic institutions to join us in finding opportunities—appropriate to the nature and mission of each institution—to engage in political and public policy dialogue by publicly proclaiming Catholic teaching, especially on issues related to human life and marriage,” the statement said.

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Culture of abortion pervades British medical profession, say English pro-lifers

London, England, Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - A British proposal to limit further the circumstances in which abortion can be performed has won acclaim from some in the British pro-life movement. However, pro-life leaders also lamented the British medical establishment’s support for loose abortion regulations as the new embryo research and fertilization bill nears a vote.

Tory leader David Cameron has said he will support reducing the time period for legal abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks into a pregnancy.

Anthony Ozimic of the Society for the Protection of  Unborn Children (SPUC)  told CNA in an email that this reduction only applies in very limited circumstances. "In fact, abortion is allowed up to birth in the UK. Only two of the Abortion Act's seven grounds are restricted to 24 weeks, all other grounds are without time limit i.e. up to birth."

Cameron’s announcement comes as the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill heads to the House of Commons for a vote.  The bill would loosen restrictions on research destructive of human embryos and in-vitro fertilization treatments.

Pro-life organizations will propose amendments to the bill aimed at reducing the abortion limit.

Julia Millington, a spokeswoman for the Pro-Life Alliance, said further limits would be supported.  “In Great Britain, in one hospital a child is aborted, while in another hospital a premature child is saved. It is ridiculous. There’s strong public consensus about reducing the legal limit for termination,” she said.

“We want more than a reduction of the legal limit, we want abortion to be completely abolished,” said Greg Clovis, director of Human Life International UK. 

“Unfortunately,” he continued, “a pro-abortion culture is pervading the medical profession. Every time they try to make the abortion law less liberal, we get the opposite result. In the next Parliamentary debate, they will try to make abortion easier by abolishing the need of two medical signatures, as needed today to terminate a pregnancy, and make it possible for a nurse or another health worker to give the go-ahead to the termination.”

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has voiced his concerns about Labour Party Ministers of Parliament being forced to support the bill against their consciences.  He has asked all Catholics to write their representatives, asking them to vote against further deregulation of abortion, embryonic research, and fertility treatments.

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Planned Parenthood youth website promotes pornography to teenagers

CNA STAFF, Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - A Planned Parenthood website for teenagers is promoting pornography to young people, Cybercast News Service reports.

A 2007 article on the Planned Parenthood-sponsored Teenwire.com website advises pornography use as a “lower-risk form of outercourse.”  "Many couples can read or watch sexy stories or pictures together," the article states. "They can also share or act out sex fantasies.”

Another advice piece, “Porn vs. Reality,” warns that it is against federal law for anyone under 18 to view pornography.  The article then says “however, not everyone follows the rules, and you may run across some porn before you turn 18.”  The article says that many people enjoy pornography “alone or with a partner.”  It continues, “People have different ideas of what is arousing, and there are many different kinds of porn that appeal to people's different interests."

On the website’s “Ask the Experts” page, one writer assures a student concerned pornography use will affect his grades that “there is no correlation between using pornography and getting bad grades in school.”  The writer assured another teenager that masturbation and pornography use did not constitute cheating on his girlfriend.

Cris Clapp, congressional liaison for the anti-pornography group Enough is Enough, told Cybercast News Service that the website lacked key information.  “Overall teenwire.com has painted a picture that pornography is harmless fun," he said.  Clapp noted that internet pornography includes very graphic content, including violent sexual images.

Clapp cited the November 10, 2005 congressional testimony of author and family therapist Jill Manning, who said, "Children and adolescents are considered the most vulnerable audience of sexually explicit material." 

Manning told congress that youth are easily coerced into viewing or producing pornography, and have a limited ability to process material they encounter, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.  They can be victims of others’ pornography consumption, and their sexual and social development can be negatively affected by exposure to false or traumatic messages about sexuality and relationships.  Pornography also encourages unrealistic expectations in youth about their future relationships.

"However, this legal reality is rapidly losing momentum as widespread availability and accessibility of pornography normalizes illegal exposure," she also said.

Clapp told Cybercast News Service parents needed to be involved in the education of their children.  "Unfortunately, parents are outsourcing their responsibility to talk to their kids about healthy sexuality to teachers, the culture and sites like teenwire.com, without any understanding about the sort of misguided messages that our children are hearing," she added.

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Writer votes for Obama, defends his choice saying, “Bishops be damned”

Washington D.C., Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - A writer who wrote a Washington Post op-ed piece arguing against the U.S. bishops’ criticism of voters who support pro-abortion politicians and ended his article with a curse of the bishops could face canonical penalties for inciting hatred against the bishops.

Joe Feuerherd, a correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, attacked the bishops’ statement “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” in the Sunday edition of the Washington Post. In their statement, the bishops noted that voters’ political decisions could affect their salvation. 

Feuerherd also criticized the bishops’ efforts to ensure the worthy reception of Holy Communion in the case of pro-abortion politicians who attend Mass.

While describing himself as an opponent of liberal abortion laws, Feuerherd criticized Republicans and pledged his support for the Democrats.  “Sounds like I'll be voting for the Democrat -- and the bishops be damned,” his essay concluded.

Canon lawyer Dr. Edward Peters vigorously condemned the curse.  “To wish damnation on an individual or a group is to wish on them the absolutely worst fate conceivable: separation from God forever,” Peters wrote.  “Catholics possessed of even a rudimentary catechesis know that one cannot invoke upon a human being any greater calamity than damnation, and that it is never licit, for any reason, to wish that another person be damned.”

Peters said Feuerherd’s “words of contempt” were not made in the heat of the moment.  “Feuerherd's curse, ‘the bishops be damned’, was expressed in cold, deliberate, prose intended for maximum effect in a prominent national publication.”

Peters noted that Canon 1369 canon law mandates the imposition of a “just penalty” for a person who in published writing “expresses insults or excites hatred or contempt against religion or the Church.”  Another canon, 1373, commends “an interdict or other just penalties” to be imposed on a person who publicly incites animosities or hatred against an episcopal ordinary “because of some act of power or ecclesiastical ministry.”

“I believe Feuerherd has gravely violated both of these canons,” Peters said.  He stated that by virtue of their office, bishops should impose canonical punishments upon Feuerherd. “However much American bishops as individuals might willing to forgive Feuerherd on a personal level, they must also assess this terrible incident as Successors of the Apostles, that is, as men entrusted with a precious and holy office not of their making, but in their care,” Peters said.

J.D. Flynn, a canon lawyer for the Archdiocese of Denver, told Catholic News Agency the case for canonical penalties against Feuerherd was less clear.

“The bishops, in this case, are ordinaries.  The Washington Post is a public forum, and it is read by subjects of the bishops.  The issue, however, is that while issuing Faithful Citizenship probably constitutes an act of ministry, it is not entirely clear that Feuerherd incited others to disobey their ordinaries, so much as he stated that he was voting in accord with his conscience, as the bishops have commanded him to do. His obligation to form his conscience is another story.”
 
“Therefore, it is not clear to me that he violated [canon] 1373,” Flynn wrote in an email.  He told CNA that any episcopal action would begin with fraternal correction, then possibly continue with an investigation to determine if Feuerherd had committed a willful wrong.  If it was determined such a wrong had been committed, the bishop could then initiate a penal procedure. 

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St. Augustine’s conversion is a model for all Christians, says Pope

Vatican City, Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - With today’s general audience Pope Benedict XVI concluded his series of teachings on St. Augustine of Hippo, telling the faithful that the saint’s journey of conversion remains a model for each of us.

Inclement weather forced the audience indoors this week, with the crowds of pilgrims and visitors divided between St. Peter's Basilica and the Paul VI audience hall.
 
The Holy Father began by greeting those gathered in the Vatican Basilica.
 
"Dear Brothers and Sisters, I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking visitors present here today.  May your stay in Rome strengthen your faith, and grant you courage to continue your Lenten journey in prayer, fasting, reconciliation and compassion".
 
He then made his way to the adjoining audience hall where he began the last of his reflections on the life and legacy of the great fourth century saint, with a discussion of the process of St. Augustine's interior conversion. 
 
"In reading his Confessions, we see that his conversion was a life-long journey marked by a passionate search for truth.  Despite living an errant life as a young man, Augustine had learned from his mother a love for the name of Christ.  Platonic philosophy led him to recognise the existence of Logos, or creative reason in the Universe, which he later came to understand more fully by reading Saint Paul and finding faith in Christ.  He completed this fundamental phase in his search for truth when he was baptized in Milan by Saint Ambrose". 
 
Pope Benedict XVI then moved on to the he second stage of St. Augustine's  conversion, which saw him  return to Africa, where he founded a small monastery with a group of friends dedicated to contemplation and study. 
 
"Three years later, he was ordained a priest and turned to the life of active ministry, placing the fruits of his study at the service of others through preaching and dialogue.  The last stage was a conversion of such profound humility that he would daily ask God for pardon.  He also demonstrated this humility in his intellectual endeavours, submitting all his works to a thorough critique.  Augustine has had a profound effect on my own life and ministry," the Holy Father told the pilgrims listening to his address. 
 
"Having converted to Christ Who is truth and love", the Pope continued, "Augustine followed Him throughout his life and stands as a model for all human beings who seek after God. ... Today too, as in his time, humankind needs to know this fundamental reality and, above all, to put it into practice: God is love and meeting Him is the only answer to the disquiet of our hearts".

Pope Benedict XVI said it was his hope that we can all learn from this great and humble convert who saw with such clarity that Christ is truth and love.
 
"Upon all of you”, the Pope said as he concluded the audience, “I invoke God's abundant blessings of joy and peace".

 

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Russian Orthodox open to dialogue on status of Catholic dioceses in Russia

Moscow, Russia, Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - The haggling over the status of Catholic dioceses in the Orthodox lands as well as the status of the Orthodox dioceses in traditionally Catholic countries seems to have taken a turn for the better with Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, the Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to European Institutions, calling for a "serious and elaborate discussion" on the matter.

"Many Western people think that the concept of a 'canonical territory' has lost its sense altogether in the modern situation because Orthodox believers coexist side by side with Catholics, Protestants and representatives of other faiths," Bishop Hilarion told Interfax.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, also brought up this difference recently.  It is hard to discern a quality difference between Catholic dioceses in Russia and Orthodox dioceses in the West, Cardinal Kasper said. In addition, he called on the Russian Orthodox Church to show the same openness that Catholics are demonstrating in relation to Orthodox parishes in Western Europe and the U.S.

In 2002, the Vatican made the decision to upgrade the status of Catholic territories in Russia to the level of dioceses. This change led to protests from the Russian Orthodox Church which said that the Catholic Church was encroaching on its territory.

Recently, Cardinal Kasper revealed that the outcry from Moscow over the change and the subsequent request from the Patriarchate, which asked that the Pope abolish the four Russian Catholic dioceses created by Pope John Paul II, was "very unexpected."

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Cardinal Bertone and Raul Castro conclude meeting with hopes for better ties

Havana, Cuba, Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - The historic meeting between Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, and the new president of Cuba, Raul Castro, came to an end on Tuesday with the hope of better relations between the Catholic Church in Cuba and the Communist government, although without concrete promises.

Raul Castro met with Cardinal Bertone on Tuesday afternoon at the “Palace of the Revolution.”  Both leaders were accompanied by large entourages. Representatives of the Cuban government included Carlos Lage Davila and Esteban Lazo Hernandez, vice presidents of the Council of the State; Chancellor Felipe Perez Roque; the head of the Religious Affairs Office of the Communist Party in Cuba, Caridad Diego Bello; Eumelio Caballero Rodriguez, vice minister of Foreign Relations; and Raul Roa Kouri, Cuba’s Ambassador to the Holy See. 

Cardinal Bertone’s entourage included the Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino; Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, Apostolic Nuncio in Cuba; Archbishop Juan Garcia Rodriguez of Camaguey; Auxiliary Bishop Juan de Dios Hernandez Ruiz of Havana; Bishop Emilio Aranguren Echeverria of Holguin; Msgr. Jean Marie Speich, advisor of the Apostolic Nunciature; and Msgr. Nicolas Henry Thevenin and Msgr. Lech Piechota, both officials of the Vatican Secretariat of State.

According to the State-run newspaper “Prensa Latina,” Cardinal Bertone and Raul Castro “held formal talks during which they discussed the progress of relations between the Cuban state and the Holy See and the Catholic Church in Cuba.  In addition, they talked about issues of multilateral and international interest.”

During a brief meeting with reporters before heading back to Rome, Cardinal Bertone said talks with Cuban officials had been “satisfactory and hopeful” and were an opportunity to talk about the need to improve relations between the government and the local Church and to allow a “wider participation” of the Church in Cuban society.

The meeting ended, however, without any specific commitment on the part of Cuban officials to grant the Church in Cuba greater leeway on evangelization, education or access to the media.

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Church sees U.S. embargo of Cuba as ethically unacceptable

Vatican City, Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - On Monday February25, Cardinal Bertone met with Felipe Perez Roque, foreign minister of Cuba. After his meeting with Roque, the cardinal said that both the Church and the new Cuban government oppose the U.S. economic embargo as "unjust and ethically unacceptable".

Cardinal Bertone recalled how John Paul II condemned the embargo in 1998, which he described at the time as "an oppression for the people of Cuba", not a means "to help the Cuban people achieve dignity and independence" and "a violation of the people's independence".

In response to questions from journalists, the cardinal also confirmed that he had not asked the Cuban government for an amnesty but for "gestures of reconciliation", adding that the Church considers the recent release of certain prisoners as "a positive gesture".

Cardinal Bertone also made it clear that he had personally asked the government of the United States to facilitate the reunion of Cuban émigrés with their relatives still on the island, saying this would be a humanitarian gesture and everything possible was being done to achieve it.

Tuesday’s meeting with the new Cuban president, Raul Castro, marked the close of the cardinal's visit to Cuba.

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Benedict XVI appoints new bishop of Lansing, Michigan

Vatican City, Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - The Pope has appointed Bishop Earl A. Boyea as the bishop of Lansing, Michigan.  He will take the position which was filled by 77 year-old Bishop Carl F. Mengeling, whose resignation was recently accepted by the Vatican.

Most Rev. Boyea was born in Pontiac, Michigan in 1951 and was ordained in Detroit, Michigan in 1978.  He served on the faculty of Sacred Heart Seminary for 12 years before being named President of the Pontifical College Josephinum.  He has served as an auxiliary bishop of Detroit since 2002.

He will be the fifth bishop of the diocese of Lansing and will serve 230,981 Catholics and 194 priests.

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Chavez supporters invade chancery, expel employees and bishop

Caracas, Venezuela, Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - A group of Hugo Chavez supporters (Chavistas) violently took over the chancery of the Archdiocese of Caracas for several hours to stage a protest against the Catholic Church and the only standing independent TV station, Globovision.

The group of 15 Chavistas, some of them wearing masks, were led into the Church's premises by Lina Ron, a member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela –a political front for supporters of president Hugo Chavez- and a well-known street demonstrator.

The demonstrators violently expelled the officials working at the chancery, including Bishop Jesús González de Zárate, who was installed as an auxiliary bishop of Caracas a month ago.

The Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Sabino, was not at the chancery at the moment of the attack.

After taking control of the chancery, Lina Ron read a manifesto which the condemned the Catholic Church for its alleged support of the April 2002 failed coup attempt against President Chavez.

Chavez followers claim that the late Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Ignacio Velasco, supported the attempt against Chavez, but allegations that Velasco and the Venezuelan bishops were involved have strongly and repeatedly been denied.

Ron also accused the Apostolic Nunciature of being "counterrevolutionary," for giving political refugee to Nixon Moreno, a university student that lead several demonstrations against Chavez until he was declared a criminal by the government.

But the demonstrator's main target was the last standing independent TV station Globovision. "We would like to put a bomb on it, but we will leave that to anyone's initiative," Ron said in her manifesto.

The Chavista leader demanded that the state organization that regulates airwaves, CONATEL, "take action against the TV station.

Before leaving the Chancery, Lina Ron shouted: "with the commander (Chavez) everything, without the commander, lead (meaning bullets.)"

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Vatican daily strikes new distribution deal with Italian diocese

Vatican City, Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - The Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano has reached an agreement with the Italian Diocese of Bergamo, giving the newspaper a major boost in circulation in the country.

L’Osservatore Romano’s new director, Giovanni Maria Vian, explained that thanks to the recent overhaul of the newspaper, it can now be found in bars and restaurants—places where it was impossible to find it before.

The Pope’s daily “truly deserves to be more and more known and distributed,” Vian said.  To achieve this goal, Vian has secured a deal with one of the most important Catholic newspapers in Italy, the “Eco de Bergamo,” which has wide distribution throughout Italy.

Starting this Sunday, March 2, through the end of the year, the Sunday edition of the “Eco” will include the complete Sunday edition of L’Osservatore Romano, which will be printed outside the Vatican for the first time since 1929.

The deal means the Vatican newspaper will reach thousands of new readers with no subscription increase necessary. 

Vian said the deal was possible “thanks to the generosity of Bishop Roberto Amadei of Bergamo, who has put himself at the disposition of Benedict XVI on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the election of one of his great predecessors, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (Blessed John XXIII), who was from the land of Bergamo.”

Vian expressed the “humble confidence that, under the sign of Benedict and John, L’Osservatore Romano is increasingly being disseminated.”

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Cuba sees publication of new independent periodical. Will Castro allow it?

Havana, Cuba, Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - The Christian Life Movement, led by Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, has announced the publication of the first edition of “Liberacion,” an independent Christian magazine that will now be the official voice of the movement. 

The first edition, published electronically, explains that the new magazine takes up the mantle left by a previous Catholic publication, “Pueblo de Dios,” which “was created 20 years ago at the Parish of the Hill, as an initiative of a group of lay Christians who wanted to proclaim liberty and the rights of all Cubans and of all human beings, who ‘have the right to have rights because they are children of God’.”

“Pueblo de Dios” was the “first free publication to proclaim the great and good news of the liberation of Cubans, amidst the oppression that our people suffer.”

“That humble but radical publication,” the new magazine Liberation noted, “was the voice of the Christian Club of Cuban Thought, a group that met to think and debate and was predecessor to the Christian Liberation Movement.”

“Pueblo de Dios” ceased publication and the Christian Club was disbanded, but some of its members founded the Christian Liberation Movement in September of 1988.

“Today,” the magazine stated, “the periodical ‘Liberation’ is born, on the 155th anniversary of the passing to eternal life of Father Felix Varela,” the precursor of Cuban independence whose cause for beatification is open.

Liberation exists “for the people and as the people’s voice, to serve with the Truth, inviting all to seek it with a sincere heart.  Rather than define it, we want to embrace the Truth and encourage everyone to do so,” the magazine’s editors said.

The magazine also exists “to proclaim and defend the rights of the person…to defend the marginalized and the poor of our nation, those who nobody mentions, those who suffer illness and injustice…by proposing reflection and criticism, practicing prophetic denunciation, calling all to dialogue in order to achieve justice in our homeland, promoting freedom of conscience and exhorting the exercise of freedom…in any circumstance and beyond any human strength.” 

“We commend our mission to Jesus Christ, the Lord of History,” concludes the presentation of the movement’s new publication.

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U.S. bishop delegates to World Synod appointed

Washington D.C., Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - The Vatican has appointed United States delegates to the twelfth World Synod of Bishops, which will be dedicated to reflection on and examination of Holy Scripture.

The delegates are Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), USCCB vice-president Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston, and Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington.

The alternate delegates are Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Washington.

The synod, whose theme is “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church,” will take place at the Vatican from October 5 to October 26.

The US bishops voted to recommend the delegates during the USCCB plenary meeting last November in Baltimore.  Pope Benedict XVI ratified the selection. 

For the past several months, bishops have been studying the synod’s working document and proposing suggestions for the meeting’s final agenda.

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Philippines Catholic bishops stop short of calling for Arroyo's resignation

Manila, Philippines, Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - The Catholic bishops of the Philippines have stopped short of calling for the resignation of the country’s president, but instead urged her to allow officials to assist inquiries into a massive corruption scandal involving her husband.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and some cabinet members have faced harsh criticism after allegations of corruption in a now-canceled program to build a national broadband network.

Rodolfo Lozada, a former government consultant, testified before a Senate committee on February 8.  He claimed a Chinese telecommunications company’s $329 million broadband service contract contained $130 million in kickbacks.  Lozada implicated the former head of the election commission, Benjamin Abalos Sr., and President Arroyo’s husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, among others.

The Philippines Conference of Catholic Bishops convened an emergency meeting on Tuesday to determine their response to the crisis. 

An explicit condemnation of Arroyo from the bishops would have increased pressure on the president and some amongst the general populace were expecting just that.  However, the bishops addressed their criticisms more generally. 

"We strongly condemn the continuing culture of corruption from the top to the bottom of our social and political ladder," they wrote in a two-page statement.  "We ask the president to allow her subordinates to reveal any corrupt acts without being obstructed in their testimony no matter who is involved."

President Arroyo had issued an executive order preventing officials from cooperating in corruption investigations.  Critics have called the move a “gag” designed to prevent officials from incriminating members of the administration.

The CBCP statement asked the order be revoked, saying, “We strongly recommend the abolition of EO 464 so that those who might have knowledge of any corruption in branches of government may be free to testify before the appropriate investigating bodies.”

Rodolfo Lozada, the scandal’s whistleblower, on Tuesday said he respects the “collective wisdom” of the CBCP in its decision not to join the calls for the president’s resignation. 

Early on Tuesday former Philippines president Corazon Aquino called on Arroyo to resign. 

According to Reuters, Aquino said in a speech to the influential Makati Business Club, “Our guiding light should not be an obsession to evict the president."  

"But,” he continued,” in an environment where abuse of power closes all doors of legitimate redress, sadly we are too often pushed to the brink. That is why the most noble--and least disruptive--way out of the moral crisis would be for the president to resign.

"These critical times call for strong moral leadership, which clearly she is no longer in a position to provide," he said.

President Aquino had also called on Arroyo to resign during a 2004 scandal. 

President Arroyo has already survived three impeachment attempts and at least three coup plots.  Arroyo’s presidential term, her final, ends in 2010.

Archbishop Andonio Ledesma said on Tuesday that the bishops could issue another statement if the corruption crisis is not properly addressed.

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William F. Buckley passes away, lauded for his contribution to American public life

Washington D.C., Feb 27, 2008 (CNA) - William F. Buckley Jr., the champion of many conservatives in the United States passed away on Wednesday morning while at work in his study.

Buckley died overnight in his study in Stamford, Connecticut at the age of 82, according to the National Review Online. His son, Christopher, told the New York Times that Buckley had suffered from diabetes and emphysema, although the exact cause of death was not known.

Buckley was found at his desk and might have been working on a column. He died the way would have liked to—“with his boots on, after a lifetime of riding pretty tall in the saddle," his son said.

As an editor, columnist, novelist, debater and host of the TV talk show "Firing Line," Buckley worked at an almost unheard of pace, taking as little as 20 minutes to write a column for the magazine he founded in 1955, National Review.

Various colleagues and supporters praised Buckley’s legacy.

George Weigel told CNA that “Bill Buckley may have been the most publicly influential U.S. Catholic of the twentieth century; he would certainly be on any serious list of the Top Five. A man of unfailing good humor blessed with a great capacity for friendship, he left an enduring mark on American public life as did few others of his generation.”

Mrs. Beverly LaHaye, founder and chairman of Concerned Women for America, said, "Bill Buckley's passing is a tremendous loss to America. He was a leader of principle and passion. His ideas shaped the conservative movement and the thinking of several generations of American leaders. The world is poorer for his loss. I send my condolences to his family and his colleagues."

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