London, England, Mar 4, 2008 (CNA) - A man who tried to cause his wife to unknowingly abort their child by hiding abortifacient drugs in her food has been sentenced to three years and nine months in jail for administering a poison with intent to cause miscarriage, the Daily Mail reports.
Gil Magira, 36, hid abortion pills bought over the internet in his wife’s sandwich. After she started bleeding, he took his wife to the hospital, reportedly feigning concern for her and the unborn child.
However, the next day he gave her a second dose by mixing the tablets in her yogurt.
The drugs failed to work. Magira’s wife, Anat Abraham, 41, gave birth to a healthy son named Matan. The baby is now eight months old.
Magira was tried for the crime of “administering a poison with intent to cause miscarriage,” believed to be the first such prosecution since Britain legalized abortion 40 years ago.
According to the Daily Mail, Abraham discussed how the crime has affected her.
"You cannot imagine how wonderful it feels to hold my son,” she said.
"I know how close I got to never having him. I'll never get over what my ex-husband did to me.
"He tried to terminate our baby, end his child's life before it had even begun and that's the cruelest thing imaginable. "But despite everything Matan is here today," she added.
The couple, both British citizens, had met in Israel in 1997. They married two years later and returned to London, where they established bakeries and a restaurant selling kosher food.
They separated in 2004, largely because Magira did not want children. In May 2006, Magira said he was ready to start a family and they began living together again.
In November, Abraham told her husband she was pregnant. According to the prosecuting attorney, Simon Mayo, Magira panicked and pressured her to have an abortion.
"She told him she did not want one," the prosecutor said.
When Abraham showed her husband a scan of their unborn child, he said, "Oh, it does not even look like a baby."
In February 2007 Magira put the drugs in his wife’s food. He confessed soon afterward.
"What made it worse was seeing how determined he was to get rid of the baby that I already felt moving," Abraham said.
She also said she would eventually have to tell her son about the attack.
"I don't have any idea how I will possibly tell him,” Abraham said, “but I guess at some point I will have to find a way.”
Magira’s defense attorney, Jonathan Goldberg, had argued that Magira was mentally ill. Goldberg also said Magira realized he had sinned against his Orthodox Jewish faith by seeking an abortion. The attorney suggested Magira hoped to have access to his son once he was released from prison.
Daly City, Calif., Mar 4, 2008 (CNA) - A Catholic hospital that refused to allow its facilities to be used for breast implant surgery on a man that had undergone a sex-change operation will now allow the procedure, the California Catholic Daily reports.
In 2006 a doctor told Charlene Hastings, 57, that Seton Medical Center in Daly City would not allow him to perform breast-enhancement surgery on a transsexual. Hastings claimed that upon further inquiry a surgical coordinator at the hospital said to him, “It’s not God’s will” and “God made you a man.”
A 2006 memo sent by Seton Medical Center to physicians said, “transgender procedures or procedures that are part of the transgendering process may not be performed at Seton, as Seton is a Catholic Hospital.”
Hastings filed suit against the hospital in San Francisco Superior Court in December. The suit alleged that Seton violated state law, which allows religiously-based hospitals to refuse to perform abortions but makes no exemption for denying elective surgery for transgender operations.
On February 27 the San Francisco television station CBS 5 News reported that the hospital had issued a written statement to CBS 5 that said, “We regret any confusion that may have come from this situation. We want this patient and her physician to know that they are welcome at Seton Medical Center.”
The hospital still said that Catholic teaching prohibits the accommodation of sex-change operations.
The CBS 5 News station characterized the statement as a “veiled apology.” It said, “transgender Charlene Hastings has claimed moral victory against Catholics.”
According to the California Catholic Daily, Hasting’s attorney, Chris Dolan, said that a lawsuit seeking monetary damages would proceed.
“Like any good religious experience, first you need enlightenment and then you need atonement,” said Dolan. “And what we have here perhaps is a glimpse of enlightenment. Has it changed their heart? I don’t think so. Will it change their practice? It better.”
Hastings will not undergo surgery at Seton, saying he would not be comfortable because he would feel the hospital would be “doing it under duress.”
Sydney, Australia, Mar 4, 2008 (CNA) - The Perth Mint and the Australian Post Office have released a set of limited edition coins and stamps commemorating World Youth Day 2008.
The Perth Mint CEO Ed Harbuz presented the coins to Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, at a ceremony at St. Mary’s Cathedral House.
“The Perth Mint is delighted to present His Eminence with our Vatican-approved 1oz Gold Proof Coin and a 1oz Silver Proof Coin,” Harbuz said at the ceremony.
“World Youth Day is a momentous occasion in the history of Australia and the Catholic Church and we hope that our range of commemorative coins will help to keep the memory alive for years to come,” he said
The coins each depict the Pope, the WYD08 logo, and the inscription “World Youth Day Sydney 2008” on the reverse side.
Australia Post, the nation’s postal service, has also released one domestic stamp and two international stamps using imagery of Pope Benedict XVI to represent the World Youth Day event to be held in Sydney this July. The stamps include a limited number of gold and silver-coated World Youth Day stamps, the first of their kind to be produced by Australia Post.
“Australia Post is proud to unveil the WYD08 stamps and to offer people around the world another medium through which to share their faith and excitement about the upcoming WYD08 event,” said Australia Post Philatelic Group Manager, Noel Leahy.
Both Australia Post and Perth Mint are official World Youth Day licensees. The products can be purchased through their respective websites.
London, England, Mar 4, 2008 (CNA) - On Saturday, the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle in England announced the death of its bishop, the Most Reverend Kevin John Dunn, who died of pneumonia at the age of 57.
Born in 1950 and ordained to the priesthood in 1976, Bishop Kevin Dunn was ordained the twelfth Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, by Bishop Ambrose Griffiths on May 25, 2004, the Feast of St Bede, at St Mary’s Cathedral, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Bishop Kevin had been admitted into intensive care at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle on February 8. Though at times his health was stable, his overall condition continued to deteriorate.
Before his death, the bishop’s family gathered together with the Vicar General, clergy from the Episcopal Council and the bishop’s secretary and prayed the prayers for the sick and dying.
In a press release from the diocese, the, the bishop’s family and the diocese gave their thanks to the “medical teams who did all they could to treat Bishop Kevin and keep him comfortable.”
The diocese also extended its “sympathy to Bishop Kevin’s mother Cath, his sisters Elizabeth, Mary and Julia and his brothers Stephen and Peter, and to his nieces and nephews, who will all miss him greatly.”
Vatican City, Mar 4, 2008 (CNA) - Despite no sign of negotiations emerging in the Armenian post-election dispute, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, left this morning for the former Soviet country after delaying his departure by two days.
The cardinal’s itinerary will be altered to accommodate his shorter stay, but everything is on track for his March 6-9 visit to Azerbaijan.
During his stay in the neighboring country, Cardinal Bertone will meet Sheikh Allashukur Pashazade, head of Muslims in the Caucasus, and other religious leaders, to tell them of the Catholic Church's desire to collaborate in the joint commitment to peace, harmony between peoples and the good of the human family.
In Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital city, “Cardinal Bertone will attend the inauguration of a new Catholic church built on land donated to Servant of God John Paul II by President Heydar Aliyev, father of the current head of State,” the Vatican’s press office reports.
, Mar 4, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict is planning to help the San Lorenzo International Youth Centre, which was founded by Pope John Paul II, kick off its 25th anniversary by celebrating Mass for its workers and guests on Sunday, March 9.
The Mass will be celebrated in the church of San Lorenzo, which is nearby St. Peter’s Square and connected to the youth center.
The San Lorenzo International Youth Centre was inaugurated by John Paul II on 13 March 1983. During a Eucharistic celebration held that day, the then Pope expressed the hope that the centre may become "a forge for the formation of authentic young Christians who are capable of bearing coherent witness to the Gospel in today's world".
According to a press communiqué released this morning, the "house for young people", supported by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and located next to the Holy See, is "a place of welcome, prayer, formation and encounter for young people from all over the world who are in Rome on pilgrimage". It is also "the site where the World Youth Day cross is kept".
The Eucharistic celebration presided by Benedict XVI will inaugurate a series of initiatives planned to mark the 25th anniversary.
On Thursday March 13, another Eucharistic celebration will be held, this time presided by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. It will be followed by a prayer vigil and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, due to last until midnight.
On Friday March 14, another vigil will take place, organised by the community of Taize and presided by Frere Alois, prior of the community. On Saturday March 15 a meeting of reflection and witness will be held on the theme of "the history and mission of the San Lorenzo International Centre" to be attended by Cardinal Rylko and by Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical council "Cor Unum", who promoted the foundation of the centre 25 years ago.
The events will come to an end on Palm Sunday March 16 with the Mass presided by the Pope in St. Peter's Square.
The San Lorenzo International Youth Centre, which welcomes all young people, remains open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday. Mass is celebrated every evening, followed by Eucharistic adoration.
Asunción, Paraguay, Mar 4, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Paraguay, Bishop Ignacio Gogorza, reiterated this week that former bishop Fernando Lugo, who is running for president, is still in a state of “disobedience to the Holy Father.”
“For me and for the Catholic Church, he continues to be a bishop suspended ‘a divinis’ from his ministry and therefore, he is participating in politics in disobedience to the Holy Father,” Bishop Gogorza stated, adding that “the fact that he personally resigned does not authorize him, ecclesiastically speaking, to take part in politics.”
Lugo won the nomination for president from opposition parties in Paraguay.
On April 20, voters will elect a new president, vice president, 45 senators, 80 representatives and 17 state governors.
CNA STAFF, Mar 4, 2008 (CNA) - The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil has announced it will ask the country’s Supreme Court to declare part of a new law that allows research with human embryos to be unconstitutional.
The president of the Bishops’ Committee on Life and the Family, Bishop Orlando Brandes, noted that embryonic stem cells are not necessary for research, as adult stem cells have been already proven to be an effective alternative.
“The embryo is a human being, an individual who has the right to be born and has all of the necessary elements, according to science, to be an adult. It is a seed that is going to develop,” the bishop said.
The announcement by the NCBB comes as former Attorney General Claudio Fonteles filed his own brief challenging the law’s constitutionality and warning that the use of embryos “damages the inviolability of the right to life” guaranteed by the Brazilian constitution.
However, in a move to pressure the court, the Brazilian version of “Catholics for a Free Choice” commissioned a poll which alleges that 75% of Brazilians support research with human embryos.
Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 4, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, said this week “the good of the person and of society is intimately linked to healthy families,” and therefore the Church “is committed to defending and promoting natural dignity and the exalted value of marriage and the family.”
During Mass on Sunday, when Mexico celebrated the Day of the Family, the cardinal said, “It is with sadness that we discover that in a society with so much communication, that isolation and individualism can be terrible illnesses in family life.”
“Instead of living connected amongst ourselves, we live connected to the gadgets that technology offers us and instead of having our hearts open to communication with others, we have it blocked, like [we are] saturated, by so many things that take us away from the people that we should love,” he emphasized.
In response to this situation, Cardinal Rivera invited the faithful to “reflect on the darkness that may be present in our homes in order to get to work in eradicating it,” adding that while experts on the family “provide techniques for improving inter-familial relations,” there is “one area nobody can reach.”
“It is the area of sin. When the family is touched by sin, a good therapist or self-help book is not enough. The presence of Jesus Christ in the midst of the family is needed in order to things to move forward,” he said.
After noting that sin is selfishness, arrogance, the lack of charity and respect between spouses, negligence in the transmission of the faith and Christian values from parents to children, the cardinal recalled that “Christian spouses have the sacrament of marriage which, with the presence of the Lord in the midst of their relationship, can overcome the sin and evil that because of human fragility is present in the home.”
Bishop Jose Isidro Guerrero Macias of Mexicali also expressed his concern about the well-being of the family and called on lawmakers to propose laws in favor of the family, since it is there that people “experience the love of God, as there is no other love that is more tender and strong than that of the parents for their children and vice versa,” he said.
Archbishop Rafael Romo Muñoz of Tijuana said that for the Church, the family is one of the top priorities and that when a family breaks up it is because of “faults that involve all of society.”
“The family is the highest value, but because of self-interests it gets distorted,” he said. We must “respect it, bless it, promote it and defend it,” the archbishop stressed.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 4, 2008 (CNA) - The cause of beatification of Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, who died in 1998, could move ahead if the cure of 15 month-old boy who suffered from paint poisoning is declared miraculous.
The vice postulator of the cause, Beatriz Buzzetti Thomson, is responsible for investigating the complete cure of the child, whose identity has not been revealed and is two and a half years old.
According to local reporters, after the accident, the parents of the child prayed for the intercession of Cardinal Pironio. The child improved and was released from the hospital despite doctors’ assurances that if he survived, he would suffer long-term complications.
The prayer, which the parents found on the back of a holy card and has been approved by the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina, reads as follows:
God, our Father, you called your servant Eduardo Francisco Pironio to serve your Church as a priest and a bishop, comforted by the maternal care of the Virgin Mary, you made him a joyful proclaimer of hope and the cross. Grant us that, following his example, we may proclaim and give witness to our faith with a merciful and welcoming heart and, through his intercession, give us the grace that we confidently ask of you.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Eduardo Francisco Pironio was born in the town of Nueve de Julio, Argentina, on December 3, 1920. He was the 22nd child of a family of Italian immigrants.
At the age of 18 he entered the seminary of La Plata. He studied theology in Europe and was rector of the seminary of Buenos Aires and later dean of theology at the Catholic University of Argentina.
He was auxiliary bishop of La Plata, bishop of Avellaneda and bishop of Mar del Plata. He also worked as secretary and president of the Latin American Bishops’ Council.
He was made a cardinal by Paul VI in 1976. During the last phase of the government of Maria Estela Martinez de Peron and the military dictatorship that followed, he received death threats and was transferred to Rome.
He participated in the conclaves that elected John Paul I and John Paul II. John Paul II named him president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 1984, a post he held until 1996. He was one of the architects of World Youth Day. He also served as prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic Life.
He died in Rome on February 5, 1998 from bone cancer and is buried at the shrine of Our Lady of Lujan in Argentina. His cause for beatification was opened on June 23, 2006.
Baghdad, Iraq, Mar 4, 2008 (CNA) - The Iraqi prime minister has made the release of a kidnapped Chaldean Catholic archbishop a top priority, saying the assault on Christians “represents an assault on all Iraqis,” Reuters reports.
Paulos Faraj Rahho, the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, was abducted on Friday after he left a church in Mosul, a northern Iraq city. Gunmen attacked the archbishop’s car, killing his driver and two guards. Sources familiar with the kidnappers’ demands informed CNA yesterday that a $1.8 million ransom if being demanded for the archbishop’s freedom.
"The prime minister has issued an order to the interior minister and all security officials of Nineveh province to follow the case and work very hard to release (Rahho) as soon as possible," the office of Prime Minster Nuri al-Maliki said in a statement.
The prime minister’s office said Maliki had written to Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, the Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, expressing “deep sadness and grief” over the abduction and saying he was carefully monitoring the situation.
"The Christian sect in Iraq is one of the basic components of Iraqi society and can never be parted from its people and civilization," Maliki said in the statement. "Any assault on its sons represents an assault on all Iraqis."
On Saturday, the U.N. envoy to Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, called on the Shiite-dominated government to “redouble its efforts” to protect religious minorities in Iraq. In the past, Cardinal Delly has criticized Iraq’s Shiite leaders for staying silent while Christians were persecuted.
Chaldean Catholics, who follow an ancient Eastern rite, are part of the Catholic Church. They form the biggest Christian community in Iraq. As a whole, Iraqi Christians make up about 3 percent of the country’s 27 million population.
Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, Iraqi Christians have been targeted by Islamic extremists who label them "crusaders" loyal to U.S. troops. These radical Muslims are able to use this strategy to recruit other extremists, raise terror funds, and force Christians to flee the country forfeiting their homes and property to extremists. The property is then sold or used to fund insurgency strikes against coalition forces.
Sydney, Australia, Mar 4, 2008 (CNA) - A rebel commander who took part in the assassination attempt on the president of East Timor surrendered to Timorese security forces early Sunday morning, inspiring hopes that a rebel leader will soon surrender to the Catholic Church, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Amaro Da Costa was at the home of East Timor’s President, Jose Ramos-Horta, the morning the president was shot and seriously wounded. Da Costa has agreed to tell authorities all he knows about the attacks.
Da Costa’s surrender is considered a breakthrough and has fueled speculation about the imminent surrender of other rebels. Da Costa, a former police commando, was a confidant of the rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who was killed during the gunfight at President Ramos-Horta’s house.
Another rebel leader, Gastao Salsinha, reportedly has been negotiating his surrender to the Catholic Church.
East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who was also targeted in the attacks, has approved the Church’s role, saying he does not want rebels killed during a hunt by Australian SAS troops.
Support for Salsinha has weakened after the attacks. More than 500 of his former soldiers have arrived in Dili for negotiations to settle their grievances. The soldiers had been fired from the army after going on strike, triggering a violent upheaval that killed 37 people and drove 150,000 from their homes. The government has indicated that it is willing to give the former soldiers three years’ salary or reinstate them in the army.
President Ramos-Horta continues to recover from his critical wounds in Royal Darwin Hospital in Australia. According to Reuters, the president has forgiven the rebel leader.
Acting President Fernando Lasama, who visited the president over the weekend, told a news conference in Dili that the president had forgiven Reinado and has asked the government to look after the rebel’s family. "The President also asked people to end the violence in the country," Lasama said, adding, "the operation against rebels must continue until petitioners and Salsinha's group give up and hand over all weapons."
The announcement is seen as an attempt to pave the way to reconciliation and to encourage the president’s attackers to surrender.
Prime Minister Gusmao has explicitly appealed for the remaining rebels to surrender. “I am asking you to co-operate with the joint command so that people can live in tranquillity," he said from the government palace on Sunday, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.