Washington D.C., Jul 1, 2008 (CNA) - A new advertisement from the Family Research Council’s lobbying arm, FRC Action, cites Sen. Barack Obama’s endorsement of fathers who “recognize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception” to press the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to defend his stand on abortion.
The 30-second television ad begins with a clip of Obama’s Father’s Day speech at a Chicago church in which the Illinois senator discussed the problem of absent black fathers. “We need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn't just end at conception,” he says in the clip.
The ad then shows commentary from FRC President Tony Perkins. Holding his squirming son Samuel in his arms, Perkins asks Obama “If, as you say, fatherhood begins at conception, when does life begin?”
Perkins says that, as a father of five himself, he thanks Obama for promoting fatherhood. Perkins then notes that Obama as a U.S. Senator voted to allocate taxpayer dollars to promote abortion in the United States and overseas.
In the ad the FRC president emphasizes the apparent contradiction between Obama’s pro-fatherhood and pro-abortion views, rhetorically asking “If I became a father at conception, when did Samuel here become my son?"
The advertisement aired on Friday in several cities across the United States. It is scheduled to be broadcast in Cincinnati and later in Dallas and Atlanta.
Sen. Obama has voted against the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which would have protected from infanticide those children who survive abortion attempts. He has also promised to pass the Freedom of Choice Act, which FRC Action says would “annihilate” every single state law limiting or regulating abortion, including the federal ban on partial birth abortion.
David Nammo, Executive Director of FRC Action, told CNA that there has been no official reaction to the advertisement from either Sen. Obama’s Campaign or the campaign of his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain.
Nammo said the FRC would like to see Obama acknowledge that life begins at conception and that fatherhood entails responsibility to the unborn. Further, the Family Research Council hopes Obama will renounce his support for taxpayer funding of abortions.
The FRC would also like to see Sen. McCain continue to speak strongly on family-related issues, such as his opposition to Roe v. Wade, Nammo told CNA.
Orlando, Fla., Jul 1, 2008 (CNA) - In a Sunday newspaper commentary Thomas Wenski, the Bishop of Orlando, Florida decried the California Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a ban on same sex marriage, saying the act of “raw judicial activism” reminds us that “society’s culture wars are far from over.”
Writing in the Ocala Star Banner, Bishop Wenski said advocates of homosexual marriage erroneously label their opponents as intolerant bigots. “To defend marriage as a monogamous union between one man and one woman is not bigotry,” Bishop Wenski wrote. “Nor are the efforts of those who seek to enshrine in state or federal constitutions the ‘traditional’ understanding of marriage intolerant.”
Bishop Wenski also addressed those who tolerate homosexual acts they believe are immoral and sinful as long as they are kept private. These people, he said, “do not invoke the coercive power of the state” to change homosexuals but instead “they might invite the person who experiences same-sex attractions to conversion and, in place of behavior viewed as sinful, propose chastity.”
The bishop accused proponents of same-sex marriage of “imposing their views and lifestyle on the larger populace” by redefining marriage to include same-sex unions. “Once legal the state's coercive power will punish those who refuse to embrace gay marriages,” Bishop Wenski warned.
He said that under a legal regime that permits homosexual marriage, public officials will be obliged to officiate at same-sex “weddings,” public schools will be required to teach children homosexual marriages’ acceptability regardless of their parents’ disapproval, and even First Amendment freedoms could face legal assault.
Bishop Wenski said marriage “has been primarily about the raising of children, who seem to be hardwired to be best raised by a father and a mother who are married to each other.” He also noted the state’s legitimate interest in favoring traditional marriages to help upcoming generations flourish.
He characterized the “culture wars” as a conflict about “the understanding of man and his relationship to truth and reality.”
One side, which, he argued, includes homosexual marriage advocates, “holds that anyone can essentially create his or her own reality. This side holds for a radical autonomy by which truth is determined not by the nature of things but by one's own individual will.”
This position, in the bishop’s view, is a “recipe for tyranny.”
The other side, the bishop argued, thinks men and women are “not self-creators but creatures.”
“Truth is not constructed, but received and thus must reflect the reality of things,” he said. This position promises freedom that is achievable only “through adherence to objective truth which we do not, and could never, invent.”
Ottawa, Canada, Jul 1, 2008 (CNA) - The Order of Canada Advisory Council has voted to award the Order of Canada to abortionist and militant atheist Dr. Henry Morgentaler. Some Members of Parliament and others are reportedly moving to attempt to stop the bestowal of the award, calling the decision inappropriate and unpopular.
The award is scheduled to be bestowed on Morgentaler on July 1, Canada Day. Morgentaler is sometimes referred to as “Canada's Father of Abortion” and “Canada’s Father of Secular Humanism,” according to LifeSiteNews.com. He is responsible for Canada’s elimination of laws restricting or regulating abortion.
In February LifeSiteNews.com reported that a group of abortion supporters were trying to force Dr. Morgentaler’s nomination for the award in a “last ditch effort.” A public furor resulted, ending quickly when a February 20 press release from the office of the Governor General, who is responsible for the award, showed Morgentaler was not on 2008’s nominee list.
A June 28 e-mail from the organization 4MYCANADA reports that the normal Order of Canada award advisory process may have been changed. According to 4MYCANADA, the approval committee normally awards the honor by unanimous consent.
“From what we understand at this point,” 4MYCANADA says, “this committee, headed by Chief
Justice Beverly McLachlin, PC, decided to over-ride that protocol and take this one to a democratic vote on the committee. The majority of the committee voted in favor of Morgentaler's nominee and so, for (what we understand) may be the first time in history, the committee appointed someone without their normal unanimous consent - someone who millions of Canadians would not consider a hero in our nation."
Many pro-lifers have critically responded to the selection of Morgentaler for the award, the announcement of which comes over Canada’s major annual holiday weekend.
"It is dreadful that this honor should even be considered for a man who's only claim to fame is that he is a professional killer of defenseless babies in their mothers' wombs," said Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition. "Those who have received this prestigious medal should return it because it will have been devalued and disgraced.”
"If Morgentaler had any integrity he would refuse the medal", said Mary Ellen Douglas, National Organizer of CLC. "This presentation should be given to people who have made Canada a better place to live and the elimination of thousands of human beings who would have contributed to the future of Canada is a disgrace not an honor."
Columnist Douglas Farrow, in an article in the National Post, reports "the decision, which is to be announced in time for Canada Day, is clearly not driven by popular demand. For example, an online poll by the Globe and Mail, with over 300,000 respondents, went 92% to 8% against giving the award to Morgentaler."
Vatican City, Jul 1, 2008 (CNA) - The Holy See’s Press Office made known on Friday the prayer intentions of Pope Benedict for the month of July . During the coming month the Holy Father will be praying for an increase in volunteerism and for World Youth Day.
Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for July is: "That there may be an increase in the number of those who, as volunteers, offer their services to the Christian community with generous and prompt availability."
His mission intention is: "That the World Youth Day held in Sydney, Australia, may awaken the fire of divine love in young people and make them sowers of hope for a new humanity."
Vatican City, Jul 1, 2008 (CNA) - The Holy See’s Press Office revealed today that Pope Benedict has chosen the theme, "Combating poverty. Building peace" for the celebration of the 42nd World Day of Peace. The observance of the day will be held on January 1, 2009.
The Holy Father picked the theme because it "highlights the need for the human family to find an urgent response to the serious question of poverty, seen as a material problem but above all as a moral and spiritual one,” a communiqué on the event says.
This is not the first time that the Pope has spoken out necessity of quickly remedying the scourge of poverty. In a message to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization on June 2, the Holy Father said: "Poverty and malnutrition are not a simple fatality, provoked by adverse environmental situations or by disastrous natural calamities. ... Purely technical and economic considerations must not prevail over the duties of justice towards people suffering from hunger."
"The scandal of poverty,” the communiqué continues, “reveals the inadequacy of current systems of human coexistence in promoting the realization of the common good. This imposes the need for reflection on the deep roots of material poverty and, consequently, also on spiritual poverty which makes man indifferent to the suffering of others.”
“The answer, then, is to be sought first and foremost in the conversion of the human heart to the God of charity, so as to achieve poverty of spirit in the terms of the Message of salvation announced by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," according to the release.
Denver, Colo., Jul 1, 2008 (CNA) - Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput announced today that the archdiocese has settled nearly all of the claims of sexual abuse by priests through a mediation program, resulting in payments of $5.5 million for 18 separate claims.
At a press conference held at Bonfils Hall on Tuesday morning, Archbishop Chaput explained that all of the lawsuits against the archdiocese were connected to the deceased priests Harold Robert White and Leonard Abercrombie, with one exception. The alleged abuse by the two clerics occurred between the years 1954 and 1981.
The claims of sexual abuse against the two priests began to be made in August of 2005. Upon learning of the accusations, the archdiocese sought to mediate the claims rather than resort to the courts.
The mediation process initiated by the archdiocese, which began in May 2006, was led by retired Judge Richard Dana, and also included an independent mediation panel consisting of Littleton, Colorado Chief of Police Heather Coogan and rehabilitation specialist Jack Dahlberg.
Participation by the abuse victims in the mediation program was voluntary, but according to Archbishop Chaput, “the majority of cases were resolved” through the process. The total amount paid by the archdiocese was $5,505,000 to settle 18 separate claims. Following today’s announcement, the Archdiocese of Denver now faces only two lawsuits related to sexual abuse by priests.
Speaking about the mediation process on Tuesday morning, Archbishop Chaput said, “It is my hope that these settlements help the victims and their families to heal.”
He also explained his role in trying to bring healing to the victims, “I’ve offered to meet personally with every victim. Some of them have responded to this request. I’ve also met with some of their family members who have been open to meet with me.”… “I wanted to apologize to them personally on behalf of the Church and also to express my own personal sadness over the pain in their lives and the pain of this experience.”
When asked why the Church turned to mediation instead of going through the court system, Archbishop Chaput said, “Litigation is fighting, it’s legal combat in some sense, and we don’t think healing comes about very well through litigation. We think meditation is a much better way to bring healing, especially if we have the chance to sit down and talk. Many of the victims did speak to me about their anger at the Church, at me, certainly at the priests who were involved in it, and I had a chance to apologize to them. I think that kind of human engagement is very helpful towards healing and I hope it’s the beginning of a restored relationship with the Church for those who wish that.”
The archbishop also revealed that the most recent settlements involved the archdiocese taking the “unusual step” of opening portions of Robert White’s file to his victims.
While he emphasized that the archdiocese has “always defended and will continue to defend the right to privacy of all our archdiocesan personnel,” Chaput said that he “took this step at the insistence of victims and to secure closure for them.”
Among the facts revealed by the file are: “prior to 1981, White engaged in wrongful behavior,” that decisions were made 25 years ago by archdiocesan officials that would “not satisfy current archdiocesan policies for handling allegations of sexual abuse” and finally, “after 1981, White’s file contains no evidence of abuse by him,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Chaput also described how the Church’s treatment of allegations of sexual abuse has changed, saying, “White’s file, despite its painful content, stands in sharp contrast to the life of our Church. For the last 20 years, the archdiocese has worked hard to understand the nature of sexual abuse, to prevent it and to protect our children from it. Our strict policy is that no priest, deacon or lay employee with a credible allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor is allowed to minister in our archdiocese.”
The leader of the Catholic Church in Denver closed his statement on the settlements by calling for continued support for the abuse victims. “These past experiences of sexual abuse have been tragic for those who've endured them and for the wider Church community. Victims need our help and support for their continued healing. I'm grateful that they've accepted mediation and I continue to pray they find peace in this resolution.”
Bogotá, Colombia, Jul 1, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga, said this week that amidst the climate of political tension that the country is experiencing, he hopes there will be a “solution of growth and not of crisis.”
In April of this year, former Colombian congresswoman Yidis Medina said she received gifts from the government in exchange for her vote in favor of constitutional reform that would allow President Alvaro Uribe to run for a second term. Her statements caused uproar in the country.
In statements to Caracol Radio, Archbishop Castro said, “We hope there is a solution,” adding that he does not consider it prudent to mediate in the confrontation due to the complexity of the matter.
The archbishop made his statements as the 85th General Assembly of the Colombian bishops takes place in Bogota. The bishops are focused on the celebration of the first centenary of the creation of the Bishops’ Conference, electing a new president, vice president and general secretary for 2008-2011.
Paris, France, Jul 1, 2008 (CNA) - In a press release issued on Monday about the practice of “rent-a-womb,” the president of the French Bishops’ Council for Family and Social Matters, Archbishop Jean-Charles Descubes said, “The starting of a family by a couple does not depend exclusively on the birth of a child.”
In his statement entitled, “Right to a child or right of a child?,” Archbishop Descubes said that while “the suffering of couples who cannot have a child should not be ignored,” it is necessary to keep in mind that when considering this issue, “three kinds of maternity are mixed together and at the same time separate: that of the person who donates the ovum, that the one who receives it, and that of the one who carries it. This separation creates bonds of ‘social intimacy’ until now unknown. It is different from adoption, which is a response to a situation that already exists.”
He questioned the idea of a woman making herself an instrument for “carrying” someone else’s baby and noted that during pregnancy a woman establishes a strong bond with the child in her womb as she realizes she has become the child’s mother. “She is not a nest or an incubator. Numerous unconscious, affective and unique factors link the mother to her child and vice versa,” the archbishop said.
He went on to note that modern society “thinks that science can control all suffering and always has the last word.” “By renting somebody else’s womb are we not making the birth of a child the instrument for resolving the problem of sterility in an illusory way?” the archbishop asked.
Richmond, Va., Jul 1, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of the Diocese of Richmond was told that a diocesan charity planned to help a 16-year-old ward of the federal government obtain an abortion in January and was told he could not prevent the action.
Stephen Neill, spokesman for the Diocese of Richmond, told the Washington Times that Bishop DiLorenzo “was told erroneously that everything was in place and there was nothing he could do to stop it.”
“He is very apologetic about the whole episode,” Neill continued. “It is very awkward, it is very embarrassing. A human life was taken. He certainly has not taken it lightly in any way. He is clearly opposed to abortion."
Neill told the Washington Times that Bishop DiLorenzo was informed of the planned abortion on January 17, the day before the abortion was performed on the unborn child and the 16-year-old Guatemalan girl who was a foster care client of Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Richmond (CCR). CCR is incorporated under the diocese.
The girl, who already has one child, reportedly had been fitted with a contraceptive device provided by CCR members two months before the January 18 abortion. The Washington Times reports that CCR members or volunteers signed the consent form required for a minor to have an abortion and also arranged her transportation to and from the abortion clinic.
Neill said a volunteer, not a CCR staff member, drove the girl to the abortion clinic.
Writing in a June 25 letter, Bishop DiLorenzo called the abortion a “monumental tragedy.”
“I join my sadness to yours at the loss of the life of an unborn child whose teenage mother was in the foster care of Commonwealth Catholic Charities, he wrote. Because of “issues of privacy” and “the ongoing legal investigations,” he said, there is a need to “be prudent in making any public statement.”
The bishop said that questions about CCR oversight and the apparent lack of a pro-life formation of CCR employees would have to be answered by “the board, the administration and the staff of Commonwealth Catholic Charities.”
Bishop DiLorenzo issued an extended apology, saying:
“Obviously, respect for the life of the unborn is a basic tenet of our Catholic faith and morality. I would ask all of you to pray that we correct what needs correcting and strengthen areas that need strengthening so that Catholic Charities might continue their mission of service to those in need.
“The guilt and depression that many of us experience as a result of the behavior of a few is something that we will bear for a long time to come,” he wrote. “Finally, I express my profound apology for the loss of the life of one of the most vulnerable among us, and I apologize for the profound embarrassment this has caused the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, and Catholics throughout the United States.”
The teenage mother was a ward of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS had contracted with CCR to care for the girl, whose parents are not in the United States.
Federal law forbids any federal funds to be used for an abortion, while Virginia law requires parental consent for a minor seeking to obtain an abortion.
In a June 19 statement CCR Executive Director Joanne Nattrass said the provision of the abortion was “contrary to basic teachings of the Catholic Church.” She wrote that neither CCR nor diocesan funds paid for the abortion. She also stated that a CCR staff member had signed the consent form for the abortion.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Neill said that Nattrass also knew the girl was getting an abortion. Nattrass reportedly told the bishop there was nothing they could do to stop the planned abortion.
Bill Etherington, an attorney for the diocese and for CCR, said Bishop DiLorenzo was given bad information about whether the abortion could be prevented, the Washington Times reports.
"He was told it could not be stopped," Etherington said. "It was erroneous information. He didn't have to sign off on it. He was not personally involved."
A Diocese of Richmond spokesperson did not respond to CNA inquiries by press time.
Minneapolis, Minn., Jul 1, 2008 (CNA) - Rings with gems and crosses made of precious metal were stolen from the home of Archbishop John Nienstedt, the head of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, in a well-planned heist executed early on Saturday.
"These things are historically and reverentially irreplaceable," the archdiocese spokesman, Dennis McGrath, said Monday, according to the Associated Press. "They're beyond value."
Archbishop Nienstedt was in Rome at the time of the robbery receiving his pallium from Pope Benedict XVI.
Police spokesman Peter Panos said the thief or thieves climbed onto a first-floor roof and then broke into a second-story window of the archbishop’s home.
"These guys were pros," Panos said. "The glass they broke through is like three or four inches thick. They couldn't get through without a sledgehammer. They executed a well-thought-out plan. They knew exactly where to go in his bedroom.”
In addition to the rings and crosses, rosaries and a small safe are believed to be missing.
, Jul 1, 2008 (CNA) - Michelle Obama, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, on Thursday told the Democratic National Committee’s Gay and Lesbian Caucus that her husband wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and reverse the rule on homosexuals in the military.
In her speech, she also compared homosexual advocacy groups with the civil rights movement, referring to events “from Selma to Stonewall” as a progression of justice.
Cybercast News Service reports that Michelle Obama began her speech by praising the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down anti-sodomy laws. Because of the decision, she said, "same-sex couples would never again be persecuted through the use of criminal law."
“We are all only here because of those who marched and bled and died, from Selma to Stonewall,” she said. Selma, Alabama was the starting point of a famous civil rights movement, while The Stonewall Inn, a bar in Greenwich Village, New York, was where a 1969 gay and lesbian riot against police officers marked what many believe to be a turning point in the homosexual rights movement.
Michelle Obama said her husband supports “a world where federal laws don't discriminate against same-sex relationships” and he advocates equal treatment for “any relationship recognized under state law.”
“That is why he has said the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide for themselves how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples -- whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union or a civil marriage,” Obama said to the DNC’s Gay and Lesbian Caucus.
A position paper on the Barack Obama campaign’s website says the candidate wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and also states that a homosexual marriage in one state does not have to be recognized in another state.
The repeal of the federal law could mean that the more than 40 states that have statutory or constitutional bans on same-sex marriage would be required to recognize a homosexual marriage license from another state as a legally binding contract.
The Obama campaign’s position paper also states Obama’s desire to enact legislation that would ensure the “1,100-plus federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally recognized union.”
Lynn Wardle, a law professor at Brigham Young University, told Cybercast News Service it is likely this statement references the federal definition provision that, if so modified, would extend Social Security and other government benefits to same-sex couples. This, Wardle said, could effectively nationalize same-sex marriages.
“If a judge in San Francisco says 'for Social Security purposes, that's the law,' then a trial judge in San Francisco could affect the whole country,” she told Cybercast News Service.
"A marriage is valid where it's performed and valid everywhere, with one exception, if it violates public policy," she continued. "As a political move, this would inevitably mean gay marriage in most states. It's a step in nationalizing gay marriage."
Sen. Obama’s opponent, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. He joined Obama in opposing a federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, saying he believed states should decide on the matter.
McCain supported a 2006 state constitutional amendment defining marriage as a heterosexual institution in his home state of Arizona, but the amendment failed in the November election.
Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 1, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, rejected the participation of any priest or layperson in the so-called “Reformed Catholic Church” and said the “authentic Church of Jesus Christ has as its purpose proclaiming the gifts of Christ to the entire world, regardless of political matters and of the political affiliation of the faithful.”
The “Reformed Catholic Church” has been founded by dissidents from different churches with the explicit support of the government of Hugo Chavez which, some sources say, has financed its founding.
During the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, marking the beginning of the Pauline Year, Cardinal Urosa said, “With regard to the creation of a supposedly new Church that wrongly calls itself “Reformed Catholic,” allow me to express here my rejection of the participation of any Catholic, much less any priest.”
“Jesus Christ Our Lord is the only founder of the Church of God, which subsists in the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church, that is, united around the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope,” the cardinal said. He noted that the new religious group is made up of dissidents from various traditional denominations.
He warned the Catholic faithful that “joining this new dissident group is a schismatic act, that is, a rupture with the ecclesial unity, which is punishable by excommunication.”
“In the case of priests who pretend to be Christian bishops based on an invalid ordination, that is an empty and ineffective act, but that is an aggravating factor of the grave sin of schism and a scandal for the faithful,’ the cardinal warned.
He also questioned the validity of the episcopal ordination that the bishops of the Reformed Church claim to have received from Anglican bishops, saying such ordinations are “empty and ineffective.”