Rockville Centre, N.Y., Jun 20, 2008 (CNA) - Rockville Centre Bishop William Murphy has criticized New York Governor David A. Paterson for ignoring the democratic process in order to recognize same-sex “marriages” in the state and for acting contrary of the common good of the state.
In his weekly column in Long Island Catholic, the prelate began by recalling that in the wake of the decision to approve same-sex “marriages” in Massachusetts, the New York judicial system declared any ruling on the matter beyond its mandate.
However, the bishop pointed out, “previous governors indicated they would not support legislative action in favor of ‘same sex marriage.’ The Assembly and Senate did not seem eager to move in that direction despite strong pressure from special interest groups.”
In his column, Bishop Murphy explained that, “our new governor has decided to circumvent the legislature, the courts and any testing of the will of the people. He has decided by an administrative decree that unions of persons of the same sex which are recognized as ‘marriage’ in another state would be recognized and honored as such here in New York. This is just plain wrong.”
Though the new governor appeared to have brushed aside democracy, the bishop mentioned another important issue. “Put aside the questionable action of a sitting governor subverting the democratic process of discussion, debate and vote. Put aside the lack of reference to the constitution of the State of New York. Put aside the lack of consultation with the State Senate and Assembly. Put aside the total circumvention of any listening to the will of the people. All these are serious deficiencies that render the governor’s action unseemly and indefensible in a democratic society. The fact is what the truth is: this is wrong and no amount of trying to appeal to ‘fair play’ or ‘equality’ or ‘putting all relationships on the same footing’ can make this right.”
He explained that the state is able to give “certain rights and privileges to married couples” because “the state has a vested interest in the bond that a man and a woman make to each other in public when they marry. That interest is the common good of society which is enhanced and stabilized by marriage as a public institution which is the basis of all other societies. That interest is in the present and future good of society that can be guaranteed in the long run only by stable married and family life which is possible only in the natural order of a union between a man and a woman.”
The prelate continued by explaining that the Church’s teachings do not discriminate, “against homosexual men and women” and that “no one has a right to discriminate against persons because of their sexual orientation. This is not the denial of a “right” that some have and others do not.” Bishop Murphy wrote that he sees sexual relationships as “essentially private matters until they are made public by public action. Then they have to be scrutinized to see if they correspond to what is good and right and true for the common good of society.”
“In all these levels, sexual intimacy between persons of the same sex does not pass muster. They do not serve the common good. They cannot do so because they contradict biological teleology and the natural law. This does not impugn the motives or the goodness of any person. This does say that the truth must never become victim to misguided actions that seek to impose a false interpretation of what is real on our society.”
“In this case the governor not only sidesteps democratic process. He acts contrary to the common good and introduces into New York a phenomenon that corresponds to the desires of a few at the expense of the whole and at the expense of the good of New York.”
According to Newsday.com, Erin Duggan, a spokeswoman for the governor, denied that Paterson was sidestepping the democratic process, and said he was merely explaining what a recent court ruling meant for New York State government.
Bishop Murphy disagreed with this claim and called on New Yorkers to “protest this ill-considered and arbitrary action to the governor as well as to the members of the Long Island delegation in the Assembly and the Senate. And please continue to pray for all our brothers and sisters of any sexual orientation that we might all live in harmony and in truth, respecting one another while insisting on doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong for the good of our society and the common good of all.”
Newsday.com also points out that Bishop Murphy’s column has been criticized by David Buckel, chief counsel for Lambda Legal, a gay rights group who stated, “We live in the United States of America and he can't impose his views on others and he's got to respect that line if he's going to be an American."
Diocese of Rockville Centre spokesman Sean Dolan said that the bishop "is not imposing his will. He is exercising his responsibility as the shepherd of this diocese to teach the faith.”
Harare, Zimbabwe, Jun 20, 2008 (CNA) - The government of Zimbabwe has partially lifted a policy banning non-government organizations (NGOs) from entering the country, relenting to humanitarian aid organizations and Catholic leaders who had criticized the program. Mugabe's government now says it will allow workers in who distribute food and help for AIDS patients.
A Catholic archbishop leading a Southern Africa bishops’ conference and a cardinal heading a major global Catholic charity have spoken out for the NGOs, which aim to distribute food supplies and offer assistance to AIDS victims in the country.
The high-ranking clergymen have also addressed Zimbabwe pre-election conflict by reminding Zimbabweans that “electoral processes and outcomes are not an excuse for breaching God's commandments.”
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez, who is president of Caritatis Internationalis, and Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg, who is president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, issued a joint appeal on June 13 to the international community, especially South Africa. As reported on the Caritatis Internationalis web site, they criticized the regime of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe for endangering the lives of more than 4 million people.
The clergymen asked international leaders to press the Zimbabwean government to prevent the violent repression of Zimbabweans and to reverse the “inhumane suspension” of international aid.
“That food is being denied to people facing starvation is a grave evil,” Cardinal Rodriguez said. “The government of Zimbabwe must also ensure that aid workers are able to work in a secure environment without threats of violence. The scale of the current political violence and threats is unacceptable.
"Restrictions on humanitarian workers and increasing violence severely hamper the Church in carrying out its mission to provide care and assistance to those most in need.
Archbishop Tlhagale said that “quiet diplomacy” was no longer effective.
“Quiet Diplomacy is not feeding people, but allowing the current structures to threaten the very survival of the extremely vulnerable,” he said.
“This situation is fast losing the Zimbabwe government and those who support it any sympathy that there might have been for their concerns. This post-colonial throwback rhetoric by Zimbabwean authorities must cease – let them prove that they have the interests of ordinary Zimbabwean at heart by giving them food,” he said.
Both clergymen called for an “immediate cessation of violence and all provocative statements and actions” and asked for independent monitors for the election. They reminded listeners that “electoral processes and outcomes are not an excuse for breaching God's commandments.”
According to Fides news agency, South African President Thabo Mbeki has visited Bulawayo, in western Zimbabwe, to meet with President Mugabe, who is conducting his electoral campaign. President Mbeki, who is a mediator in the Zimbabwe election crisis, urged Mugabe to end the run-off election scheduled for June 27. Mbeki has been criticized for his highly permissive attitude towards Mugabe’s regime.
The Zimbabwe opposition is facing further harassment in its election campaign. MDC Party leader Morgan Tsvangirai has reportedly been arrested several times while campaigning. At present he is effectively being stopped from leaving the country.
On Thursday, MDC deputy leader Tendai Biti was charged with subverting the government and rigging the election, offenses that could result in the death penalty if he is convicted.
Jacob Zuma, the president of the South African party Africa National Congress, has said he could not guarantee that the run-off election would be free and accurate, Agenzia Fides reports.
Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth, England has joined other Christian leaders in calling for the Southern African Development Community to redouble its efforts to ensure fair elections in Zimbabwe.
The presidential run-off election between President Mugabe and Tsvangirai is scheduled for June 27.
Manassas, Va., Jun 20, 2008 (CNA) - The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) has announced the launch of the Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education with the stated goal of studying Catholic colleges and universities “in accordance with the guidelines of 'Ex corde Ecclesiae' and in a manner faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.”
A press release from the CNS says the Center will publish a quarterly Bulletin of Catholic Higher Education, produce research reports and analysis on what it believes are key issues, and sponsor conferences and workshops for education leaders.
The Cardinal Newman Society says the Center will provide “much-needed research and analysis about the critical issues and ‘best practices’ at the heart of the renewal of Catholic higher education.”
“On April 17, Pope Benedict XVI presented an exciting vision for the renewal of Catholic higher education and called on Catholic college presidents to ‘ensure that the power of God’s truth permeates every dimension of the institutions they serve,’” said CNS President Patrick J. Reilly.
“This new Center will enlist Catholic leaders and academics to take up key themes in the Holy Father’s address, including the ‘crisis of faith’ that lies at the root of the modern ‘crisis of truth,’ the ‘unity of knowledge’ as it relates to curricula and teaching, and the proper application of academic freedom,” Reilly continued.
According to the Cardinal Newman Society, the Center will assume responsibility for researching and writing the second edition of the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, which will be released next year.
The director of the Center is Joseph A. Esposito, editor of the Newman Guide and former CNS director of research. A former Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Education, Esposito has also been a Catholic writer and an adjunct professor of history.
“We are looking forward to being a helpful resource to Catholic colleges and universities as they tackle some of the most important issues confronting Catholic higher education today,” Esposito said. “We expect the output of the Center to be prodigious as well as insightful.”
The new Center’s website is located at http://www.catholichighered.org/
Vatican City, Jun 20, 2008 (CNA) - Over 100 representatives of Catholic radio from around the world were greeted by Pope Benedict at the Vatican on Friday. Through their broadcasts, Catholic radio stations make it possible for their listeners to open their hearts to Christ, the Pope said.
The radio broadcasters were gathered in Rome for a symposium organized by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, which is headed by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli.
"As you work in Catholic radio stations you are at the service of the Word," the Pope told the more than 100 delegates from 50 countries. "The words that you broadcast each day are an echo of that eternal Word which became flesh. ... The Incarnation took place in a distant village, far away from the noisy imperial cities of antiquity. Today, even though you make use of modern communication technologies, the words which you broadcast are also humble, and sometimes it may seem to you that they are completely lost amidst the competition of other noisy and more powerful mass media.
"But do not be disheartened!" he encouraged the media professionals.
"The words which you transmit reach countless people, some of whom are alone and for whom your word comes as a consoling gift, some of whom are curious and are intrigued by what they hear, some of whom never attend church because they belong to different religions or to no religion at all, and others still who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ, yet through your service first come to hear the words of salvation.”
The Holy Father explained that this work, which requires “patient sowing, carried on day after day, hour after hour, is your way of co-operating in the apostolic mission."
Another facet of Catholic radio that the Pope underlined is how its mission is to serve the Truth. “Jesus Christ gives us the Truth about man and the truth for man and, on the basis of that truth, a hope for the present and future of humanity in the world," he reminded his listeners.
Because radio involves the speaking of words, it is associated with the Word of God, and “participates in the mission and visibility of the Church,” Benedict XVI said. Additionally, “it also creates a new way of living, of being and of making the Church; this brings with it various ecclesiological and pastoral challenges. It is important to make the Word of God attractive, giving it consistency through your transmissions so as to touch the hearts of the men and women of our time, and to participate in transforming the lives of our contemporaries."
"What exhilarating prospects your commitment and your work open up!" the Holy Father exclaimed.
"Even now, your networks can be a small but real echo in the world of the network of friendship that the presence of the risen Christ, the God-with-us, inaugurated between heaven and earth and among mankind of all continents and epochs. In this way your work will become a full part of the mission of the Church, which I invite you to love deeply.”
Pope Benedict closed his address to the radio workers by reminding them of the bigger picture. “By helping the heart of each person to open to Christ, you will help the world to open to hope and to that civilization of truth and love which is the most eloquent result of His presence among us."
Madrid, Spain, Jun 20, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Jose Ignacio Munilla of Palencia in Spain said this week that amidst the attacks from secularism and relativism, the Church “needs interior freedom in order to carry out God’s will, which is justice, love and hope for all men.”
In a recent article, the bishop stressed the need to avoid judging others “in order to work in justice and in the truth. Whoever is worried about the criticisms of others or about receiving praise will be unable to act in conscience.”
After telling the story of a father and son traveling on a donkey through various towns and changing places as they pass through each stage of the journey—the son on the donkey and the father walking, the father on the donkey and the son walking, or both walking beside the donkey—trying to please everyone who sees them and getting criticized by everyone, the bishop asked, “Isn’t the same thing that happened to the main characters in the story happening to the Church today? Don’t we also have to acquire that interior freedom so that the life of the Church can be what God wants, without being intimidated by mockery, satire and fickle comments?”
“Sometimes the Church is accused of paternalism and/or authoritarianism: ‘Look at them…they speak ex cathedra and believe they have the truth!’ In a society in which the figure of the father, and even the very meaning of authority, is in complete crisis, there is an allergic reaction against the Magisterium of the Church.”
The Church is also misunderstood for her defense of the weakest, Bishop Munilla continued, in the same way that those who speak out publicly in the name of the Church are criticized and told that they should restrict their religious beliefs “to their consciences and to the sacristy.”
“We must not forget that the modern means of evangelization must be accompanied by prayer and penance in order for them to be efficacious and fruitful,” he said. The bishop also emphasized that Catholics “must not lose their peace over the fickle judgments and constant criticism that surrounds us.” “This is the moral of the story: God is our audience! The Church needs interior freedom in order to carry out the will of God, which is justice, love and hope for all men,” the bishop said.
Phoenix, Ariz., Jun 20, 2008 (CNA) - The Arizona legislature on Wednesday passed another bill to create legal penalties for doctors who perform late-term abortions using what opponents call a “horrific procedure.” The bill is likely to be vetoed by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.
The measure would allow state and county prosecutors to prosecute doctors who perform a controversial late-term abortion procedure known as “partial-birth abortion,” a procedure which is already banned by federal law, the Arizona Republic reports.
While Gov. Napolitano vetoed a similar measure passed earlier in the legislative session, proponents of the latest version of the proposal say they have tried to address the governor’s concerns. The new version allows doctors to seek an opinion from the medical board about whether an abortion is necessary to save the mother’s life, a situation which is exempted from the law.
"We've done the best we can to meet her stated objections," said Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, speaking to the Arizona Republic.
“The new partial birth abortion bill going to Governor Napolitano includes the two specific items to which she objected in her veto of an earlier bill. It is our hope that the Governor would now sign this measure and allow local prosecutors the ability to make sure this horrific procedure is never performed in our state,” Johnson told CNA.
Opponents of the ban have doubted the necessity of passing a state version of a federal law and also have voiced concerns that a doctor could be tried under both state and federal law.
Since she took office, Gov. Napolitano has vetoed every bill the legislature has passed to restrict legalized abortion.
Lima, Peru, Jun 20, 2008 (CNA) - With financial backing from worldwide abortion supporters, film maker Eve Reinhardt is traveling through Peru this week seeking interviews with bishops and pro-life leaders for a documentary she is directing and that—far from being unbiased as she claims—is intended to become an instrument for regaining financial support from the United States for making abortion legal in poor countries.
One of the pro-life leaders contacted by Reinhardt was Carlos Polo, director of the Latin American office of the Population Research Institute. Polo discovered that the project is called “The Decency Gap,” and he met with Reinhardt to unmask her intentions. The encounter was caught on video by Polo.
Polo told CNA that Reinhardt contacted him by phone and said she was an “independent” film maker who wanted to interview people on both sides of the abortion debate, that her project was not yet titled and that she had already interviewed bishops and pro-life leaders in Cuzco and Lima.
However, Polo discovered that the project not only has a title, but also an official web site (http://www.thedecencygap.org). “The Decency Gap,” Polo discovered, is not a neutral production but rather is funded by the fiercest abortion supporters from around the world, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Marie Stopes International and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
He said the project is intended to push for the end of the U.S. government’s Mexico City policy, which prohibits U.S. funding of organizations that carry out abortion or promote its legalization in foreign countries. Polo said the purpose of the documentary is “to influence American public opinion in order to regain access to tax-payer funds and use them for the international abortion industry.”
“Such a perspective makes it impossible for Reinhardt to claim she is impartial in the area of abortion. Her interest in recording the testimonies of pro-life leaders was more than suspicious,” Polo added.
He said an interview with the Population Research Institute would have been of special interest to Reinhardt because “through its research into the abuse of human rights, it has contributed to restricting funds for the abortion industry more than any other entity in the world. The evidence compiled on China’s one-child per couple policy and on forced sterilizations in Peru by the Fujimori government are only some of the actions carried out by the Institute that have meant a loss of more than $500 million for the international pro-abortion movement,” Polo said.
“This is always the way pro-abortion groups lie to us. They invite pro-lifers to pseudo-debates that are supposedly unbiased only to later call us fundamentalists and backwards. This time it wasn’t even an invitation but rather a sick deception,” said Polo.
“‘The Decency Gap’ intends to portray us as enemies of poor women, when in reality it’s religious groups, mostly Catholic and evangelical, that take care of poor women and their children when they don’t want to have abortions. The only thing ‘The Decency Gap’ and its collaborators want is to legally and financially protect powerful economic groups that have made an industry out of abortion. And this is repeated around the world,” Polo said.
CNA has learned that following the publication of this article on its Spanish language news site, “The Decency Gap” web site was removed from the internet.
Rome, Italy, Jun 20, 2008 (CNA) - The secretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Angelo Amato, said this week Catholic radio should present “programs that elevate souls” and should be at “the service of the truth of God, shedding light on the lives of our brothers and sisters in the faith.”
According to the Italian news agency SIR, the archbishop made his comments during a speech at the World Congress of Catholic Radio taking place in Rome. “The microphone of a Catholic radio station could be seen as a modern-day pulpit,” he said, placed in the heart of the human community. “While before the faithful would fix their gaze upon the traditional pulpit, today they fix their attention on this modern pulpit that is invisible but yet present and alive in reality, listening to the marvels that God has done and is doing in the history of humanity,” the archbishop said.
He added that Catholic radio should also help listeners understand and accept the documents of the Magisterium, “especially the Pope’s encyclicals.” Such a task is essential in order foster the “double ecumenical dialogue of charity and the truth,” in order to “present the Catholic point of view in the inter-religious dialogue.”
Havana, Cuba, Jun 20, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Christian Life Movement, Oswaldo Paya, has been targeted by the Cuban government for his dissident activities. This time they have responded by cutting off the phone service at his residence to keep him from communicating with the media during the visit to Cuba by Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez.
“As we know, the coordinator of our movement sent a letter to President Tabare inviting him to visit his home in the poor suburb of Havana called Cerro, in order to discuss what is really happening right now in Cuba,” the movement said in a press release.
The movement denounced the new measures and the continual harassment and intimidation against Paya, saying they were related to the tense relations with the European Union, which has taken note of the lack of willingness on the part of Cuban officials to expand human rights and release political prisoners.
The Christian Life Movement called on the international community to increase efforts to end the “intimidation and isolation” and to ensure that the opinions of those who disagree with the Cuban regime can be heard.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 20, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, said this week Pope Benedict XVI has not yet determined whether or not he will travel to Mexico for the World Meeting of Families that will take place in January, but he hopes the decision will be made after the Holy Father’s trip to Sydney for World Youth Day 2008.
“We haven’t been told yes or no regarding a possible visit by the Holy Father Benedict XVI,” Bishop Aguiar said. He said discussions have taken place but that a decision would not be made until after the Pope’s trip to Australia.
He said the Pope would be following the event very closely nonetheless and that if he could not be present physically he would at least address the meeting via satellite from Rome.
Bishop Aguiar also said the Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, has accepted an invitation to come to Mexico to preside at the Mexican bishops’ week for formation. “We will be pleased to have his presence among us,” he said.
While he was in Rome, Bishop Aguiar related that he met with Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, who is recovering from surgery and that the cardinal told him to thank the Mexican people for their prayers for his health.
Denver, Colo., Jun 20, 2008 (CNA) - After a meeting with Catholic leaders in Philadelphia last week,
Sen. John McCain’s pro-life credentials are being questioned some
pro-lifers who wonder if he would veto the Freedom of Choice Act, which
if passed, would invalidate many of the laws that regulate abortion.
Leaders who were present at the meeting informed CNA that they believe
McCain would undoubtedly veto the bill.
The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was most recently introduced on introduced April 19, 2007 -- one day after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice the impact of FOCA being passed, would be to “create an absolute right to abortion that would override any federal, state or local law that simply 'interfered with' that right, no matter how compelling the justification for the law."
The Republican National Coalition for Life also was of the same opinion, saying, “The heart of the (FOCA) bill is a ban that would nullify all of the major types of pro-life laws that the Supreme Court has said are permissible under Roe v. Wade, including the ban on partial-birth abortions and bans on government funding of abortions.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who introduced the bill, saw the legislation differently, describing it as being about “the absolute right to choose” prior to fetal “viability.” However, the Republican Coalition for Life pointed out that FOCA goes even further. “The no-restriction policy would also apply after “viability” to any abortion sought on the grounds of “health.”
During his meeting with Catholic leaders last Friday, Sen. McCain reminded Philadelphia Catholics of his pro-life voting record and emphasized that he would “maintain that commitment” if elected president.
Deal Hudson, one of the leaders present at the meeting, informed CNA that when it came to McCain vetoing FOCA, “Nobody asked him that question. My view is that, of course, he would veto it."
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life agreed with Hudson, saying, “I have no doubt that he would veto it.”
“Moreover, it’s so extreme, I really don’t think it would ever reach his desk, even if the Democrats increased their numbers in Congress,” Fr. Pavone said.
Barack Obama has made his position on FOCA clear by promising at a July 17, 2007 speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that signing it into law would be his first act as president.
Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2008 (CNA) - The U.S. House of Representatives has passed an appropriations bill for the Iraq war after stripping a Senate provision that would indirectly subsidize Planned Parenthood and university health clinics that distribute contraceptives.
A Friday press release from Concerned Women for America said the provision in the War Supplemental Bill, if approved, would have allowed some Planned Parenthood clinics and university healthcare centers to acquire drugs at reduced prices, including the Plan B “morning-after pill.”
The $168 billion bill passed by a vote of 268-155, Reuters reports.
The Senate version of the bill had added under “Title VI—Other Health Matters” a section titled “Restoration of Access to Nominal Drug Pricing for Certain Clinics and Health Centers” which included the discount for contraceptives. The House version of the bill lacked the same Title VI.
The provision had been added by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senators Patty Murray (Wash.), Herb Kohl (Wis.), Tom Harkin (Iowa), and Ben Nelson (Neb.), all Democrats, had requested that the amendment be added to the bill.
“Our troops need funding, and their bill should not be loaded up with benefits for Planned Parenthood,” said Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America. “Planned Parenthood already receives over $300 million in funding from federal, state and local governments. In 2006, Planned Parenthood reported a record revenue of $112 million. CWA is pleased this bill funds our troops instead of lining the already inflated pockets of Planned Parenthood.”
“This is one of those situations where, because of the entanglements [of legislation] there’s really no one to call and thank, but it’s still a very big victory, and it lies at the heart of our grassroots activists,” said Martha Kleder, a CWA policy analyst, in an audio briefing posted at the CWA web site.
In 2005, as part of the Deficit Reduction Act, Congress made university health clinics and clinics that dispense birth control and abortion drugs ineligible to receive discounts on drugs provided under the Public Health Service Act.