Archive of March 14, 2008

Michigan abortion clinic accused of illegally disposing of babies’ remains

Detroit, Mich., Mar 14, 2008 (CNA) - An abortion clinic in Michigan has been accused of violating state and federal laws regarding the disposal of aborted babies’ remains and private medical records after trash bags containing both were videotaped by a pro-life investigator.

Dr. Monica Migliorino Miller videotaped the contents of several bags of trash removed from the back of a Lathrup Village abortion clinic named Womancare of Southfield.  The graphic video shows bloody surgical materials, hypodermic needles, private medical records, and the remains of aborted human babies. 

Michigan laws require that infectious medical waste, including human remains, must be placed in puncture-proof containers and disposed of in special sterile landfills.  The Federal Health Portability Protection Act mandates that medical offices must take “appropriate and reasonable steps” to keep health information secure.

Scanned images of actual documents from the abortion clinic’s trash have been posted on the web site of columnist Jill Stanek.

The Womancare of Southfield abortion clinic is headed by Alberto Hodari.  Hodari has been sued 23 times in the past 20 years.  He was responsible for the botched second-trimester abortion death of a fifteen-year-old girl in 2004.

Hodari has also said that he would continue to use a late-term abortion procedure that he considered dangerous, rather than risk violating the Partial Birth Abortion Act.  Before an audience at Wayne State University, he said that he seldom washes his hands between patients to prevent skin chafing, despite knowing its increased risks to patients. 

At that same appearance he said he believes abortionists have a “license to lie.”

Operation Rescue President Troy Newman denounced Hodari and urged Dr. Miller’s evidence be considered.

"Hodari is a dangerous man who is a public menace,” said Newman. “Dr. Miller has now documented clear criminal violations by Hodari that show a complete disregard for the law, for the privacy of his patients, and for the health and safety of those around him."

"We are asking for the public's help to call for the closure of Hodari's nasty and unsafe abortion mill," Newman said. Operation Rescue is also asking the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to close the Womancare of Southfield clinic and to consider criminal charges.

Editor’s Note: The footage in the video contains graphic images and may not be suitable for some.

The video is available at

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Archbishop’s death could drive Iraqi Christians underground

Baghdad, Iraq, Mar 14, 2008 (CNA) - A group called Iraqi Christians in Need (ICIN) has said that the killing of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho in Mosul could force the Church underground.

Archbishop Rahho was kidnapped by assailants on February 29 in Mosul.  In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Chaldean church officials said that the Archbishop's captors made "impossible" demands in exchange for his safe return, among them financial support for opposing Americans.

Archbishop Rahho’s body was discovered on Wednesday.  His abductors had claimed he was “very ill,” and later buried his body.

ICIN spokesperson Dr. Suha Rassam said, “The killing of Archbishop Rahho is shocking. Christians will now be even more in fear of their lives from Islamic fundamentalists.”

“The only way for the Church in the Mosul area to survive might be if it goes underground, like it did in the first and second centuries. This way, Mass and other services would be held in secret and priests go about their duties clandestinely.”

Dr. Rassam said that attacks on Christians have been escalating over the past eight months.  In June a priest and three deacons were murdered.  In October, two priests were kidnapped.  In January, four churches and a convent were bombed.

Referring to the possibility of Christians going underground, Dr. Rassam said, “This is not a situation anyone would want, but the Christian population is living each day in terror of being kidnapped or murdered.  When the Church is facing persecution of this magnitude, then desperate measures might have to be taken.”

The Institute for Religion and Democracy’s Director of Religious Liberty Programs Faith J.H. McDonnell called upon U.S. Christians to “begin to stand up for the Church in Iraq.”

"The Mosul area is known as a hotbed of Islamic extremism. This was no act by ordinary criminals, but rather an act of intimidation by cowards that preyed upon a peaceful infirm man," she said.

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Scottish bishop decries homosexual lobby’s “giant conspiracy”

, Mar 14, 2008 (CNA) - A Scottish bishop has said that the Catholic Church in Scotland has missed a “huge and well-orchestrated conspiracy” by homosexual activists, the Scotsman reports.

Joseph Devine, the Bishop of Motherwell, said the Catholic community did not know what it was doing in response to such activism. He warned that the gay lobby – which he labeled "the opposition" – had mounted "a giant conspiracy" to shape public policy.

“We neglect the gay movement at our peril,” Bishop Devine added.

Bishop Devine delivered his remarks on Friday in a lecture titled “Sectarianism and Secularism: Bugbears for the Catholic Church in Scotland.” The lecture was part of the fourth of the Gonzaga lectures held at St. Aloysius’ College in Glasgow.

"I want to ask you if you are able to see the giant conspiracy that's taking place before our eyes, even if we didn't see it at the time. I take it you're beginning to see that there is a huge and well-orchestrated conspiracy taking place, which the Catholic community missed," he said

Bishop Devine said, “the homosexual lobby has been extremely effective in aligning itself with minority groups.”  He noted attempts to connect homosexual rights to Holocaust memorial services, and also referenced the honors given to celebrities for their activism. 

"In this New Year's honors list, I saw actor Ian McKellen being honored for his work on behalf of homosexuals, when a century ago Oscar Wilde was locked up and put in jail,” the bishop said.

Speaking of the homosexual lobby, he said, "It's a very small group of people, but very active and organized – and extremely indulgent. The opposition know exactly what they're doing. We don't."

In remarks about the legislative battle over civil unions and same-sex adoptions the bishop said that the "supreme moral values of liberty and equality" had been placed above the values of “truth and goodness" in society.

Bishop Devine continued: "It was bound to result in state-sponsored morality at war with Christian values. We must resist being corrupted by secularism."

He vowed to fight on against the "forces of secularism". The bishop concluded his speech with a dramatic flourish saying,  "Like Mel Gibson, who said, 'I'm going to pick a fight', so am I."

Calum Irving, the director of the homosexual activist group Stonewall Scotland, said that the Catholic Church had far greater wealth and political influence than the gay lobby. 

“I'm flattered that the bishop thinks we could mount a 'huge and well-orchestrated' conspiracy, but he is much deluded,” Irving said.  He characterized the bishop’s statements as an “attack,” calling them “distinctly un-Christian and deeply out of step with the views of most Scots today.”

A spokesman for Bishop Devine later defended the bishop's comments. "Anything which attacks the sanctity of marriage and the family will be opposed by the Church," he said, according to the Times Online.

After Bishop Devine’s lecture, one audience member asked how Catholic parents should “come to terms with a child's mission to become homosexual.”

According to the Scotsman, the bishop answered, "This must be a nightmare moment for any parent. There are many days when I'm glad to not be a parent. I would try to handle it with a degree of compassion, but I would not tolerate [it]."

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Pope’s third encyclical to be titled “Love in Truth”

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI’s third encyclical will discuss Catholic social teaching, touching on issues as varied as poverty, peace, wars, international cooperation, energy sources, and globalization.

The encyclical will be titled “Caritas in Veritate,” “Love In Truth,” La Repubblica reports.

“Caritas in Veritate” will be Pope Benedict’s third encyclical.  His first encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est,” examined the virtue of love while the second, “Spe Salvi,” focused upon the virtue of hope.

The four-chapter encyclical will no longer be published on May 1 as previously planned, but will be delayed so that translations, especially the Chinese translation, may be completed.

The decision to offer a Chinese version of the encyclical comes at a time when Pope Benedict is seeking to improve relations with the Chinese government.

Last June, he sent a letter offering dialogue with Chinese authorities.  In September, Chinese priest Father Joseph Li Shan was installed as Bishop of Beijing with the approval of the Pope, an event that has not happened in fifty years.

Other Vatican-approved bishops are believed to have been installed in the official state church in China.  China has an estimated eight to 12 million Catholics split between an ‘underground’ Church loyal to Rome and a state-run Catholic Patriotic Association cooperative with the government.

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Thousands mourning loss of Iraqi archbishop told not to seek revenge

, Mar 14, 2008 (CNA) - Thousands of mourners gathered in the Christian village of Kremlis, Iraq today to bury Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, whose body was discovered yesterday.

The funeral procession included a throng of thousands who cried and wailed as the archbishop’s coffin was carried on the shoulders of about ten men. Security was very tight with a large number of soldiers as well as armored vehicles patrolling the village center.

Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly, who is the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, wept as he led the funeral Mass for the archbishop and called on Christians not to seek revenge for their shepherd’s death.

According to Agence France-Presse Cardinal Delly told the mourners that, "The people of the church should be self-restrained and patient." The funeral was held at Mar Aada church in Kremlis, about 22 miles east of Mosul.

Archbishop Rahho was kidnapped on February 29 by militants who killed the three aides accompanying him in his car.  The extremists demanded exorbitant sums of money for releasing the archbishop as well as an exchange of prisoners held by the United States military.

On Thursday, after asking to speak to Archbishop Rahho, church authorities were told that he was dead and given detailed instructions where they could find his body.

An autopsy revealed that the prelate had been dead for five days before his body was recovered. It has not yet been announced whether Rahho died from natural causes or was killed -- there were no bullet wounds to his body, according to AFP.

The U.S. embassy in Baghdad and the American military are blaming Al-Qaeda for the archbishop's death.

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Pope sends condolences for passing of Chiara Lubich

, Mar 14, 2008 (CNA) - Early this morning Chiara Lubich, one of the founders of the Catholic movement Focolare, passed away. Upon hearing of her death, Pope Benedict sent a telegram conveying his sadness and “deep emotion” to the movement.

According to a press release from Focolare, Chiara Lubich passed away “in a serene climate, of prayer and deep emotion” at 2 a.m. March 14 in her home. Her death came after she spent a month being hospitalized for severe respiratory failure.

The well loved leader spent her last day on earth receiving hundreds of people – relatives, close collaborators and her spiritual children – who went to her room to pay her their last respects, then stopped in meditation in the adjoining chapel and stayed around the house, praying, for quite some time.

Pope Benedict XVI responded to the news of her passing “with deep emotion”, saying that it “came at the end of a long and fruitful life marked by her tireless love for the abandoned Jesus.”

The Pope also recalled the Focolare Movement’s “constant commitment for communion in the Church, for ecumenical dialogue and for fraternity among all peoples.”

He continued saying, “I thank the Lord for the witness of her life, spent in listening to the needs of modern man in complete faithfulness to the Church and to the Pope. And, as I commend her soul to divine goodness that she may be welcomed in the bosom of the Father, I hope that those who knew and met her, admiring the wonders that God achieved through her missionary ardour, may follow her footsteps and keep her charism alive.”


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Bolivia must avoid division and restore unity, Pope tells ambassador

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2008 (CNA) - Today the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Carlos Federico de la Riva Guerra, the new ambassador of Bolivia to the Holy See.  The Pope addressed the ambassador saying that though there are tensions in the country, the Church is ready to assist in restoring unity to its people.

In his address to the diplomat, the Holy Father recalled how "Bolivia's deep Christian roots have sustained its people” along the country’s history and have “promoted a sense of respect and reconciliation, so necessary in the difficult moments the nation has had to face.”

Currently, Bolivia is in the midst of trying times.  Pope noted, Bolivia "is experiencing a process of profound change which is producing difficult and at times worrying situations. ... We cannot remain indifferent when social tension is increasing and a climate unfavorable to understanding is spreading", he said.

To overcome these tensions, he indicated that "the authorities ... and the leaders of political, social and civil organizations" must seek "to promote ... the conditions necessary for dialogue and agreement. This praiseworthy aim will be facilitated if all Bolivians contribute the best of themselves with openness and diligence and, at times, not without abnegation and sacrifice."

"In this way," he continued, "sincere and altruistic collaboration among individuals and institutions contributes to eradicating the evils afflicting the noble Bolivian people" who, he added, "have also often been affected by natural catastrophes which call for efficient measures and fraternal sentiments to help resolve their serious consequences."

"Rebirth", said Pope Benedict, that is "civil and social, political and economic rebirth always calls for disinterested effort and generous commitment in support of a people who are appealing for material, moral and spiritual assistance. The attainment of peace must be based on justice, truth and freedom, and on mutual co-operation, love, and reconciliation among everyone."

The Pope reminded the ambassador that the Church is ready to assist the country in restoring unity.  The Church, "faithful to her mission, is always ready to collaborate in pacification and in the human and spiritual development of the country, proclaiming her doctrine and publicly expressing her opinion on questions concerning the social order. Hence, while recognizing the areas of responsibilities that are proper to the state, she sees her own duty as that of guiding the faithful, calling on them and on all of society to reject racial hatred, revenge and vendetta".

Benedict XVI pointed to the crisis surrounding the violation of human rights in Bolivia saying, "It is necessary for the defense and safeguarding of human rights to be firmly supported by ethical values such as justice, desire for peace, honesty and transparency, as well as by effective solidarity to correct unjust social inequalities.”

The family is integral to building these values.  “For this reason,” he added, “instruction in what is morally right, in what is just and unjust (without which no society could survive), is incumbent upon education from earliest infancy. The family plays a decisive role in this task and hence must be given the necessary assistance to accomplish its mission and become the 'principal agency for peace', for the benefit of everyone."

The Pope concluded by praying that Bolivia may witness the triumph of "the truth that seeks respect for others, even those who do not share the same ideas; the peace that joins with justice and opens the doors to harmonious and stable development; the good sense that strives to find balanced and reasonable solutions to problems; and the harmony that unites wills in overcoming adversity and achieving the common good."

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Cardinal Bertone encourages business leaders to embrace gospel values

, Mar 14, 2008 (CNA) - In a meeting with Italian business leaders and professionals, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, encouraged the fostering of an authentic humanism for the business world based on Gospel values.

During his comments to business leaders meeting at the Basilica of St. John Lateran’s, Cardinal Bertone said, “It is Christ died and risen who should guide you in your choices and your decisions.  Animated by his Spirit, allow yourselves to be infused in order to pass on the rich heritage of values that you have received, to bear witness with an enterprising conscience that is ever illuminated by the ethics of responsibility and the skills and values that can contribute to authentic humanism in business.”

Cardinal Bertone also called on those present to see work “as a gift, as a true mission,” in which they should display the highest professional morality, “a morality that puts at center of work relationships the protection and promotion of the growth of the human person, the balanced use of the goods of the earth and respect for the environment.”

In an age characterized by the “vast phenomenon of globalization” the correct exercise of business and professional life is needed in order to obtain the fruits of the talents that Divine Providence has bestowed to bring about economic and social progress “attentive to the comprehensive well-being of man and society.”

“The Church counts on you,” Cardinal Bertone said, noting that Pope Benedict XVI “sends you his greeting and his blessing,” because “the mission you are called to fulfill” is great.

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Nuncio to Iraq asks for security guarantees for Christians

, Mar 14, 2008 (CNA) - The apostolic nuncio to Iraq, Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt, has called for security guarantees for Iraqi Christians after news of the death of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul, who was kidnapped on February 29.

“Up until this morning we hoped to find Archbishop Rahho alive in order to bring him back to his community.  His death is now added to those of his two bodyguards and his driver, who were killed during the kidnapping,” the nuncio said to Fides news agency. 

Archbishop Francis Assisi went on to say that in “Mosul on July 3, 2007, Catholic Chaldean priest Father Raghhed Ganni and three deacons were killed.  After these criminal acts, the government had promised a full investigation.  Let’s still hope it will be finished,” he said.

“They should also investigate this case and guarantee the security of Iraqi Christians,” he continued.  “I don’t have enough information to say with certainty that Archbishop Rahho was killed or died for reasons of health.  Archbishop Rahho, as everyone knew, needed constant medical care which he might not have had during his captivity.  We’ll know the whole truth in a few days,” Archbishop Francis Assisi explained to SIR news agency.

“It’s clear that this would not have happened if he had not been kidnapped, and so the immediate reason is the kidnapping.  Neither can we forget the bloody murders of his three companions.  This is a tragic and bloody occurrence that must be denounced and condemned,” he added.


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WYD organizers up number of international attendees to 125,000

Sydney, Australia, Mar 14, 2008 (CNA) - Organizers of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney are expecting at least 125,000 non-Australians to participate in the event this summer, according to WYD operations officer Danny Casey.

According to the SIR news agency, Casey explained that “reduced numbers have been circulating for some time and are due to outdated information. Today, after counting the numbers of foreign pilgrim groups we can say that the figure of 125,000 international attendees is confirmed.  21,000 will come from the United States alone,” he said.

The organizing committee also unveiled the three catechetical topics of WYD Sydney 2008, which were chosen by the Pontifical Council for the Laity: “The thread that connects the three days is the Holy Spirit, who is present in the general theme of WYD. ‘Called to live in the Holy Spirit’ is the theme of the catechesis for July 16; ‘The Holy Spirit, soul of the Church’ is the theme for July 17; and for July 18 the theme will be, ‘Sent into the world: the Holy Spirit, principal agent of mission’.”

WYD general coordinator and Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney explained, “The catecheses are the heart of WYD.  I encourage the participating young people to begin reflecting now on these topics in order to appropriately prepare for this event,” he said.

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Youths confess to the Pope, listen to message of openness to Holy Spirit

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2008 (CNA) - St. Peter’s Basilica was filled on Thursday afternoon as thousands of young people participated in a liturgy of Reconciliation. Pope Benedict heard the confessions of some of the youth and delivered a talk to them in which he encouraged them to be open to the Holy Spirit so that through His grace they can become ‘redeemers of the young people of the world’. 

The penitential liturgy was held with young people from Rome in preparation for the 23rd World Youth Day. Youth from around the world will gather for the celebration in Sydney, Australia from July 15 to 20. The theme for the gathering is: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses".

"At the roots of being Christian", the Holy Father told the young people, "is an encounter with an event, with a Person. This opens a new horizon and, with it, a decisive sense of direction". In order "to favor this encounter you are preparing to open your hearts to God, confessing your sins and - by the action of the Holy Spirit and through the ministry of the Church - receiving forgiveness and peace.

"Thus", he added, "we make room in ourselves for the presence of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity which is the 'soul' and the 'vital breath' of Christian life. The Spirit helps us to grow 'in an understanding of Jesus that becomes ever deeper and more joyful and, at the same time, to put the Gospel into practice'", he said.

On this subject, Pope Benedict recalled one of his own meditations on the Pentecost when he was archbishop of Munich and Freising, inspired by the film “Seelenwanderung" in which one of the characters sells his soul in exchange for worldly success. "From the moment he freed himself of his soul he no longer had any scruples or humanity", said the Pope, "providing striking evidence of how the facade of success often hides an empty life".

"A human being cannot throw away his own soul, because it is the soul that makes him human. ... Yet he does have the frightening possibility of being inhuman, of remaining a person but at the same time selling or losing his own humanity.

This change from human to inhuman is not viewable with one’s eyes and likewise, the Holy Spirit "cannot be seen with the eyes,” the Pope said. “Whether it enters into a person or not, it cannot be seen or demonstrated; but it changes and renews all the perspectives of human life. The Holy Spirit does not change the exterior situations of life, but the interior".

"Let us then", the Holy Father continued, "prepare ourselves, with a sincere examination of conscience, to present ourselves before the people to whom Christ entrusted the ministry of reconciliation. ... Thus will we experience true joy, the joy that derives from the mercy of God, flows into our hearts and reconciles us to Him. ... Be bearers of this joy, which comes from welcoming the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and witness its fruits in your own lives".

"Always remember that you are 'temples of the Spirit'. Allow Him to dwell in you and humbly obey His commands, in order to make your own contribution to the building of the Church and to discern the type of vocation to which the Lord calls you. ... Be generous, allow yourselves to be helped by using the Sacrament of Confession and by the practice of spiritual guidance".

Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by recalling how 25 years ago John Paul II inaugurated the San Lorenzo Youth Centre near the Vatican "to facilitate the welcome of young people, the sharing of experiences and the witness of faith and, above all, the prayer that helps us to discover the love of God".

On that 13 March 1983, John Paul II said: "Where can we go in this world, with sin and guilt, without the Cross? The Cross takes upon itself all the misery of the world, which is born of sin. It is the sign of grace. ... It encourages us to sacrifice ourselves for others".

"May this experience be renewed for you today", said Benedict XVI. "Look to the Cross now, and let us accept God's love which is given to us by the Cross, by the Holy Spirit which comes from the pierced side of the Lord and, as John Paul II said: 'Yourselves become redeemers of the young people of the world'".

During the ceremony, many of the thousands of young people present confessed with the Holy Father and with the hundreds of priests and penitentiaries from the four papal basilicas.

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California state superintendent endorses right to homeschool

Sacramento, Calif., Mar 14, 2008 (CNA) - The California state Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, has insisted that parents still have the right to homeschool despite a recent court ruling claiming that parents had to be credentialed teachers to school their own children.

"The California Department of Education policy will not change in any way as a result of this ruling. Parents still have the right to homeschool in this state," O’Connell said.

The Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District in Los Angeles ruled on February 28 that the law required children to be educated in a full-time public day school, a full-time private day school, or private tutoring under a credentialed instructor.

Many homeschoolers believed the ruling effectively outlawed homeschooling.

Michael Farris, Chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), supported the superintendent’s statement.

"O'Connell has it right," Farris said. "But the court decision must still be overturned before homeschool freedom can be restored in California."

"We hope the statement from O'Connell puts the brakes on any enforcement action," he continued.   "We have just started the legal battle to restore homeschool freedom in California."

The HSLDA has said it would pursue several legal options, including seeking a review of the case by the Supreme Court and petitioning the Supreme Court to depublish the appellate court’s opinion.

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