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Archive of May 31, 2008

Catholic Church in Myanmar asks for urgent help for survivors of cyclone

Rome, Italy, May 31, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar, Archbishop Paul Zingthung Grawng, has asked Caritas International for urgent help in assisting the survivors of cyclone Nargis which devastated the country several weeks ago.  He said at least $8 million is needed to respond to the disaster.

“Catholic workers arrived immediately at the hardest-hit towns to rescue survivors and evacuate them.  We can provide food, shelter and medicine to refugees in camps and churches.  We can also distribute aid to those who have remained in their towns,” the archbishop said.

“Many would be dead were it not for the work of the Church and the solidarity of Caritas.  The people of Myanmar for the first time feel they are connected to the outside world and are not alone,” he continued.  “We are very thankful for all the help.”

J.P. Nelson, emergency response team leader for Caritas International in Myanmar, said, “We need to help some 75,000 people in the areas hardest hit.”  All funds raised will be used to provide food and shelter to the survivors.  More information on how to help can be obtained by sending an email to:  [email protected]

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Leaders assail New York's same-sex ‘marriage’ decision

Albany, N.Y., May 31, 2008 (CNA) - The New York governor office’s decision to recognize same-sex marriages contracted outside of New York State has prompted critical reaction from many leaders, some of whom have called the decision “unilateral” and “anti-democratic.”

A Thursday memo from David Nocenti, legal counsel to New York Governor David Paterson, said that state agencies, including those governing insurance and health care, must immediately recognize same-sex marriages legally contracted outside of New York. The memo claimed support in a New York appellate court’s decision saying there was no legal impediment to recognizing the unions until the legislature acts to forbid such recognition.

New York State Catholic Conference Executive Director Richard E. Barnes said the decision was a “unilateral move” and an “unwelcome bypassing” of the state legislature.

“As we have said many times,” Barnes said, “the definition of marriage pre-dates recorded history. No single politician or court or legislature should attempt to redefine the very building block of our society in a way that alters its entire meaning and purpose. The state has a compelling interest in holding up marriage between one man and one woman as the societal model. What our biblical ancestors knew instinctively holds true today: Marriage between a man and a woman is the best way to assure the stable rearing of children and the flourishing of society. It should not be treated as simply one more lifestyle choice, equal to any other, because it is not.”

While saying homosexual men and women must be treated with dignity and should not be targeted by unjust discrimination, Barnes said that, “just as the state cannot declare a man to be a ‘mother’ or a woman to be a ‘father,’ it cannot declare a same-sex union to be a ‘marriage.’”

Matt Daniels, president and founder of the Alliance for Marriage (AFM), said the decision illustrates the need for the federal Marriage Protection Amendment drafted by AFM.

"The anti-democratic fallout of the California Supreme Court decision striking down marriage is not unexpected, and will only continue to crash down upon other states nationwide," Daniels said. "Most Americans - and most New Yorkers - want our laws to send a positive message to kids about marriage, family and their future. Today is a sad day for the people of New York who have lost the right to choose the course that is best for them, their families and their children."

According to Stephen P. Hayford, spokesman for the Coalition to Save Marriage in New York, the decision has eroded trust in government.  “The flawed decision recently issued by the Appellate Division, Fourth Department -- which may yet be reversed on appeal -- is a flimsy justification for the governor's action,” Hayford said.

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Personhood amendment certified for Colorado ballot

Denver, Colo., May 31, 2008 (CNA) - A Colorado proposal defining a fertilized egg as a human person has been certified for the November ballot by Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman, who said about 103,000 people validly signed petitions backing the proposal.

Only 76,000 signatures were required to place the proposal on the ballot, on which it will be listed as Amendment 48, according to the Associated Press.

Kristi Burton, who has led the push for the measure, said her group Colorado for Equal Rights will focus on Colorado voters who personally oppose abortion but don’t want to impose their views on others.  She said polling indicated such voters make up 20 percent of the electorate.

"Our job is to put the truth out there for the voters," she said. "Science is on our side."

Crystal Clinkenbeard, a spokeswoman for the organization Protect Families Protect Choices, said the measure isn’t “science-based” and said it made for “bad public policy.”

"We know (Burton's group) hopes to make Colorado ground zero in their fight," Clinkenbeard said.  She said her organization does not plan to challenge the signatures.

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