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Archive of July 18, 2008

Anti-discrimination rule proposed to protect pro-life healthcare workers

Washington D.C., Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - The Bush administration has proposed a rule that any program run or funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other healthcare workers who object to abortion and abortafacient contraceptives.

Under the proposed rule hospitals, clinics, researchers and medical schools would have to sign “written certifications” as a prerequisite to receiving federal funding from the department, the New York Times reports. In areas like grant provision, state and local governments would also be forbidden to discriminate against hospitals and other institutions that have policies against providing abortions.

A section in the 39-page proposed rule states that the rule is necessary to ensure that federal money does not “support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law.” The proposal also voices concern about state laws that require hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims who request it.

According to the New York Times, the Bush administration said in the proposal that it could cut off federal aid to individuals or organizations that discriminate against people who object to abortion on the grounds of “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

"Over the past three decades, Congress has passed several anti-discrimination laws to protect institutional and individual health care providers participating in federal programs," the proposal reads. "HHS has an obligation to enforce these laws, and is exploring a number of options."

In the proposal, an abortion is defined as “any of the various procedures — including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action — that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.”

Mary Jane Gallagher, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, argued in the New York Times that the proposal’s definition of abortion is “so broad that it would cover many types of birth control, including oral contraceptives and emergency contraception.”

Other critics were more vocal.

"If the administration goes through with this draft proposal, it will launch a dangerous assault on women's health," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.

Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, praised the proposed rule.

“We’re pleased the Bush administration has finally acted on truth,” Brown said in a statement. “Birth control very often causes abortion – period. The medical community has known for a long time and the government is just now admitting it. We hope this 11th-hour consideration puts a new consciousness in the American people – the pill kills.”

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Football coach Sonny Lubbick and Bishop James Conley become new Catholic Foundation board members

Denver, Colo., Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - Colorado State University football coach Sonny Lubbick and Bishop James D. Conley, the new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Denver, have joined the board of the Catholic Foundation along with several other new members.

Sonny Lubbick in his fifteen years as CSU football Head Coach led the team in its most successful era. However, a statement from the Catholic Foundation noted, “it is Mr. Lubbick’s love for and commitment to the Church in northern Colorado that he brings to his service as a trustee of the Foundation.”

Bishop Conley has served as a Kansas parish pastor, a theology instructor, and a Vatican official. He was appointed to the Archdiocese of Denver in April and was ordained bishop on May 30.

The two new members joined the board at the trustees’ June 30 quarterly meeting.

Three other leading Catholics joined the Catholic Foundation Board at its March 17 annual meeting. They are Lou Jahde, who founded Palace Construction in 1963 and is now its CEO; Kevin J. Kopp, who is Senior Vice President and Senior Institutional Consultant at Smith Barney, and a successful money manager who has helped establish the 529 College Plan for the state of Colorado; and Terry Polakovic, a co-founder and executive director of ENDOW, a Catholic women’s studies program based on the teachings of Pope John Paul II.

Gerald J. “Bud” Laber, President of the Catholic Foundation, welcomed the new members, saying “each of our five new Trustees is an extraordinary addition to the Foundation and I look forward to working with them to ensure a promising financial future for the Church in northern Colorado and beyond.”

The Catholic Foundation board is predominantly composed of lay Catholic men and women who help the Foundation foster philanthropy, manage funds, and make grants to advance the priorities of the Catholic Church in northern Colorado and elsewhere. The Foundation’s Board of Trustees awards over $5 million in grants annually.

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40 Days for Life launches fall 2008 campaign, reports 500 babies saved

Washington D.C., Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - The 40 Days for Life initiative is launching its fall campaign to promote 40 days of prayer and fasting, 24-hour peaceful vigils outside abortion facilities and grassroots outreach across the country.

The fall campaign is scheduled to last from September 24 until November 2. It is the third such event organized by 40 Days for Life.

According to 40 Days for Life, 150,000 people in 43 states have responded to its previous calls for prayer and fasting, with more than 35,000 reportedly praying outside abortion facilities and Planned Parenthood centers. More than 500 unborn children were reportedly saved, while two abortion facilities that were prayer vigil locations have closed.

“Abortion claims more than 1.2 million innocent lives in the United States each year," said David Bereit, 40 Days for Life’s campaign director, "and in 2008, the stakes for our nation are higher than ever. People of faith and conscience are approaching this challenge with a heightened sense of urgency."

According to Bereit, people from over 300 locations across the U.S. and others from four different countries have expressed interest in the fall campaign.

“The rapid expansion of this effort has exceeded our wildest expectations,” Bereit said. “The call to participate in 40 Days for Life is a call to sacrifice. It's a call that people of faith are taking very seriously.”

An application period is open to pro-life leaders until July 29. Applications are available at the 40 Days for Life website at http://www.40daysforlife.com

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Leave the ‘Catholic ghetto’ and be an Apostle, Archbishop Chaput challenges

Sydney, Australia, Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - Young people gathered on Friday morning to hear Archbishop Charles Chaput speak on the Holy Spirit and the duty of Christians to be missionaries received a challenge to not live in a ‘Catholic ghetto.’

Beginning his teaching with the question, “How many of you think of yourselves as a spiritual father or spiritual mother?” Archbishop Chaput said that the problem is, “Some Catholics, even young people like yourselves, live in a kind of a “Catholic ghetto.”

At the root of this behavior, the archbishop found two causes: “First, there are those Catholics who feel ‘almost ready’ to evangelize” and “then there are those who claim that they’re not ‘people persons’.” 

For those who think they aren’t prepared enough to evangelize, Chaput pointed to God’s words of correction to the prophet Jeremiah who said he was ‘too young’ to prophesy. Those who find witnessing to Christ uncomfortable must contend with St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy in which he says, “Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient.”

There are numerous excuses for not evangelizing, the archbishop said, but the heart of the matter is that all Christians are called to be Apostles.  

What does it mean to be an Apostle?

According to Archbishop Chaput, being an apostle “actually means something closer to a ‘delegate’… a delegate of Christ…not someone who speaks about a particular doctrine or delivers a message, but someone who gives testimony of something he or she has experienced.”

“The nature of the Apostles' mission is powerfully explained in Chapter 10 of the Gospel of Matthew.  I urge you to re-read that Gospel passage and make it the basis of an honest examination of conscience,” he told his audience.

The Archbishop of Denver then went on to highlight the characteristics of an Apostle found in Matthew 10.

“First, the Apostle is aware that his mission has been entrusted to him by Jesus Himself. …Second, the Apostle is called to trust in God without preconditions, and especially without placing his trust in structures or methods. …Third, hardships and even persecution come with ‘the territory’ of being an Apostle. … Fourth, in this passage from Matthew, Jesus says that He will not fail in being with us to protect us … and Fifth:  Jesus calls us to be very vocal, brave and explicit when we announce the Gospel; He also reminds us that we can't betray or hide the Gospel's radical demands.” 

Overcoming the challenges of Apostleship

As he described each of the traits, the archbishop shared some of his own experience with the youth and clarified some misconceptions that people often have.

On the of topic trust without preconditions, he said, “Of course, good methods and structures can be helpful.  What Jesus tells us is that we should not place our confidence primarily in them, but in the person of Jesus Christ.”

Addressing hardships and persecutions he observed, “We live in a world that sees suffering as a curse to be avoided at any price.  But remember Jesus' warning that hardships, rejection and persecution by the world can’t be avoided. …You and I should feel encouraged, not defeated, by the trials that inevitably come our way.”

Thinking about his 38 years of ministry as a priest, the archbishop had this to say about Jesus never abandons his children: “I can assure you that Jesus never fails; He never fails.”

Archbishop Chaput spent the most time reflecting on the need to be brave in announcing the Gospel without hiding its demands. Matthew 10 shows us, he explained to the young people, “that the worst enemy of the Apostle is fear.  In fact, fear is one of the most underrated but most lethal dangers of our time, especially for your generation.”

“Pope John Paul was a visionary, chosen by the Holy Spirit to respond to the particular challenges of our day. And one of those great challenges, all over our world, but especially inside our Church and among our young people, is a fear of offending the world.”

Precisely because he was a visionary, Pope John Paul II was able to provide us the antidote to the paralyzing disease of fear: “Open wide the doors to Christ!” Archbishop Chaput instructed. If Christians follow this advice, they will be transformed by the Holy Spirit as the Apostles were. It’s only our fear that prevents God from unleashing all his power in our lives, he said. 

“Being ‘unafraid’ does not mean pretending not to fear. Being brave means overcoming our fear with the strength of the Holy Spirit, just as St. Paul and all the great Christian missionaries did, because proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ is worth any cost,” the American archbishop explained to the WYD pilgrims.

After calling on the young Catholics to seek out the gift of courage or Fortitude from the Holy Spirit, the archbishop also emphasized the need for formation to meet the challenges presented by modern society. 

Reminding the pilgrims of Pope John Paul II’s motto, “Do Not Be Afraid,” Chaput offered a brief reflection on the late Pope’s last words, spoken on his death bed: "I have searched for you, and now you have come to me, and I thank you." 

These words, the archbishop recalled, were spoken “to the multitude, especially young people, gathered in St. Peter's Square at the news of his final hours. At the very end of his life, after traveling the world in search of all his flock, especially his lost sheep, the flock was coming to him. What an extraordinary way to meet the end of your life.  Reflect on the way you’d like to greet your own death, so that you’ll make the right choices in living your own life honestly and fully in the friendship of God,” he challenged the youth.

“I pray with all my heart that the Holy Spirit will awaken and unleash in you his joy and power, so that you may go out from this World Youth Day renewed, strengthened and encouraged to become apostles of Jesus Christ.”  

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Ecumenism ultimately points toward a common Eucharist, Pope tells Christians

Sydney, Australia, Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - Fifteen leaders of the Australian Christian church met the Pope in an Ecumenical event held in the St. Mary’s Cathedral Crypt on Friday morning. In his address to the church leaders, Benedict XVI called on them to not view doctrine as divisive since that view can prevent Christians from working to improve the world.

Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell represented the Catholic Church, while Rev. Robert Forsythe was present for the Anglican Church. Leaders representing the Syrian Orthodox, Maronite Catholics, Indian Orthodox, Chinese Methodist, the Lutheran and Uniting churches were also present.

Youth representatives were also present at the event, where approximately fifty guests were present because of their involvement in the Ecumenical Council of New South Wales.

The pope delivered a short address to the leaders, praising their commitment to the ecumenical movement, citing the Covenant signed in 2004 by the members of the National Council of Churches in Australia.

“This document recognizes a common commitment, sets out goals, and acknowledges points of convergence without glossing over differences,” said the Pope.

While Baptism is the starting point for ecumenical dialogue, the Pope said that, “The road of ecumenism ultimately points towards a common celebration of the Eucharist… we can be sure that a common Eucharist one day would only strengthen our resolve to love and serve one another in imitation of our Lord.”

"For this reason, a candid dialogue concerning the place of the Eucharist - stimulated by a renewed and attentive study of scripture, patristic writings, and documents from across the two millennia of Christian history - will undoubtedly help to advance the ecumenical movement and unify our witness to the world," the Pontiff said. 

The ecumenical movement has, the Pope observed, "reached a critical juncture. To move forward, we must continually ask God to renew our minds with the Holy Spirit, Who speaks to us through the scriptures and guides us into all truth. We must guard against any temptation to view doctrine as divisive and hence an impediment to the seemingly more pressing and immediate task of improving the world in which we live.”

This emphasis will lead to our works of charity speaking more eloquently of God’s bountiful goodness and love towards all, Pope Benedict said. 

Finally the Pope concluded his address by calling on the Christian world to work together.

“As ‘fellow citizens’ of the ‘household of God,’ Christians must work together to ensure that the edifice stands strong so that others will be attracted to enter and discover the treasures of grace within.”  

Following the meeting Pope met with religious leaders of other major faiths, at nearby St. Mary’s Cathedral Chapter House.

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Youth share lunch with the Pope at World Youth Day

Sydney, Australia, Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - Twelve young people from across the world shared lunch with the Holy Father at St. Mary’s Cathedral House Reception Hall on Friday. Armando Cervantes, the U.S. representative, said his encounter with the Pope made him realize that, “this is a man who loves us, who wants us to know and understand the love that Christ has for us.”

They were nominated by the Bishops Conference and included a representative from each of the continents.

WYD08 organisers also ensured that a representative from countries bringing large contingents to WYD08, and Australia’s neighbouring countries such as East Timor, and countries such as Congo and Nigeria that are enduring turmoil locally were a part of the luncheon.

The young people sat around a round table with the Pope with each sharing their personal stories and bringing greetings of warm welcome from their home country.

They each came bearing gifts from their native country. They included traditional rosary beads from Salamanca, an Aboriginal cloth, artwork from Nigeria, and some Korean handicrafts to mention a few.

Aramando Cervantes, 27 who represented USA gave the Pope a baseball, a book of blessings and photographs from the recent Papal visit to the U.S., and an orange ball.

Armando, a youth leader in the Diocese of Orange said that the Pope was “not only interested in what work we do, but also very much interested in us as a person."

When he first began the lunch Aramando said, “I was very nervous. As soon as he walked [in] he was very friendly, and open to listening to us.”

“It felt like a family reunion, coming together for Thanksgiving where everyone has been so spread out, and the grandfather was excited to hear about the stories. The Pope was excited just to be with us and very happy and smiling the whole time.”

“Whenever we spoke he was very much engaged, and nodding. You could tell he was really listening.”

“Some of us spoke in Portuguese, Spanish, German, and French, and he just spoke to everyone where they were at.”

When Armando met him, he admitted that he didn’t really know what to do.

“I did end up kissing him on the hand the first time, and the ring on the second time and put his forehead to my head. You really don’t know what you’re going to do, you’re just so nervous.”

“I mentioned to him that the U.S loves him and is praying for him, and sends all their love.”

“It wasn’t just about the show, or the media, he was really genuinely excited to see, meet us and hear our stories.”

When the Pope said to the youth, “I’m very happy to go where the young people go,” Armando realized that “this is a man who loves us, who wants us to know and understand the love that Christ has for us.”

Following the youth lunch, the Holy Father proceeded to lead the prayer at the first station of the Stations of the Cross held in locations across Sydney. The event is expected to attract half a million spectators in the city alone.

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Pope: 'The world’s religions draw constant attention to the wonder of human existence'

Sydney, Australia, Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - Addressing around twenty religious leaders from the Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist faith communities, Pope Benedict called on them to help promote a harmonious relationship between religion and public life.

The Pope received the inter-faith group at the Chapter Hall of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney on Friday. The guests included Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence, Sheikh Mohamadu Saleem and Rev. Shigenobe Watanabe, the Buddhist community leader.

Sydney Archbishop Cardinal George Pell greeted the guests gathered saying “The presence here today of leaders from other faiths is an acknowledgement that this wisdom is not limited to Christians alone, but to all believers…”

The Pope spoke of the importance of a “harmonious relationship between religion and public life” particularly at a time when religion is considered as “a cause of division rather than a force for unity.”

The Pope also spoke of the special role religion plays in leading people who are searching for "concrete ways to contribute to the common good.”

“Religions… teach people that authentic service requires sacrifice and self-discipline, which in turn must be cultivated through self-denial, temperance and a moderate use of the world’s goods.”

The Pope also used this opportunity to encourage religions in their efforts at education saying “ faith schools and State schools could do even more to nurture the spiritual dimension of every young person.”

Finally the Pope emphasised that commonalities of humanity as a force for creating peaceful dialogue between religions.

“The universality of human experience, which transcends all geographical boundaries and cultural limitations, makes it possible for followers of religions to engage in dialogue so as to grapple with the mystery of life’s joys and sufferings.”

“Religion offers peace, but more importantly, it arouses within the human spirit a thirst for truth and a hunger for virtue. May we encourage everyone- especially the young – to marvel at the beauty of life, to seek its ultimate meaning, and to strive to realize its sublime potential!”

The Church shares these observations with other religions out of charity, Pope Benedict said. When the Church approaches dialogue with other religions, she does so "believing that the true source of freedom is found in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  Christians believe it is he who fully discloses the human potential for virtue and goodness, and he who liberates us from sin and darkness," the Holy Father explained to the religious leaders.

The Pope was also addressed by the Chief Minister of Sydney's Great Synagogue, Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence who praised the Catholic Church for its contributions to society, and to the Jewish faith.

“It is a world which has become enriched and improved to a great part through the endeavours and enterprises of you and your worthy predecessors at the Vatican,” Rabbi Lawrence said.

Sheikh Mohamadu Saleem, representing Muslims and the National Council of Imams also gave a short speech.

“Christians and Muslims, in particular the youth, are working together” he said, to achieve “justice and peace in many parts of the world.”

“The Muslim community in Australia is very grateful for this opportunity to welcome your respectful eminence.”

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More than 500 million tune in for WYD Stations of the Cross

Sydney, Australia, Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - An audience of half a billion tuned in to watch the performance that involved around 80 performers and was played out by young people at six major venues around Sydney. Over 270,000 international and local spectators also made their way to points around the city to watch the Stations of the Cross live and on big screen televisions.

The first station held on the steps of St Mary’s Cathedral was attended by Pope Benedict XVI who led the prayer.

“Make us generous and insightful as we try to walk in your footsteps,” the Holy Father prayed.

The Pope then watched the procession on television from St. Mary’s Cathedral Crypt. 

The procession moved through the Domain, a large open space in Sydney; the Art Gallery of NSW; and the Sydney Opera House, where the actor playing Jesus, Alfio Stuto 27, received the crown of thorns. At Darling Harbour, the stations were played out on a wharf built across the small bay specifically for the purpose before travelling by ferry to Barangaroo.

A somber and reverent mood permeated the crowds, previously filled with cheering and chanting.

“It is truly a different mood here. Sydney has taken on a somber, more reflective mood,” said Fr Mark Podesta WYD08 spokesman, “The pilgrims are recognizing the gravity of the passion of the Christ.”

Camillus Okane, a 21-year-old university student, was chosen to do play the role of Thomas.

“It was a touching experience, in a special way to see the reactions of the people, some of them were crying, others were praying. It made an impact,” he said.

The director of the Stations of the Cross, Fr Franco Cavarra, has been preparing this presentation since December when a group of young people were chosen to play the roles.

Over 90 wardrobes were created for twenty people, three months prior to the presentation.
The dramatic highlight was the crucifixion of Jesus in a 3.5 meter (11.48 ft.) cross, upon the elevated stage at Barangaroo.

The performance concluded when Jesus’ body was carried from the cross and through the crowd watching at Barangaroo.

“It was a fairly realistic representation of what actually happened,” said Rachel, a local pilgrim from Sydney.

“It felt very solemn,” she continued. “The music was very suitable. Overall, everyone paid a lot of attention to it.”

After the Stations of the Cross performance, Pope Benedict met with a group of disadvantaged youth at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney.

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Young people who accompanied Pope on boat ride call it “extraordinary experience”

Rome, Italy, Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - “It was an extraordinary experience to have the Pope among us.  We were all in the boat with our flags, very happy to be living those moments.”  These were the words Ryan Stichweh used to describe the boat ride he and 200 other young people shared with Pope Benedict XVI during the opening ceremonies of World Youth Day.

Tran Huuong Quyen, a Vientnamese youth, told the SIR news agency it was “very emotional” to be with the Pontiff, while Malaysian youths Eddy Dorairaja and Valerie Chen said being close to the Pope was very intense.  “We were under the awning and we saw him up close.  We said hello and we waved our flag, and he waved back.  It was extraordinary.”

Yvette Necheine said she was very happy to be a part of the experience, which she called “a true privilege.” “Although I did not get to speak to him directly, because security was very tight, I saw him and I was surprised by his simplicity.”

For Canadian Sebastian LaCroix and Australian Wasan Sadik, who is of Iraqi origin, the experience was also unforgettable.  “We read and sang hymns … We danced and waved our flags and scarfs to the young people awaiting the Pope,” they said.

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The youth give 'great hope for the Church and the world,' says Spanish bishop

Sydney, Australia, Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez of Madrid, who is in Sydney for World Youth Day 2008, said young people give “great hope for the Church and the world.”

In an interview with CNA following his catechetical session with young people from Chile, Venezuela, Costa Rica and other Hispanic countires, Bishop Martinez said, “Seeing the attitude of the young people who have come and who participate in the Church, we realize that a Catholic youth movement exists that is not confined to one country but is rather present everywhere.  They are young people committed to living the Christian life, and therefore there is great hope for the Church and for the world.”

Asked about the possibility of the next World Youth Day taking place in Spain, Bishop Martinez said he was thrilled at the idea. “If the Holy Father makes the announcement, as the rumors indicate, the youth of Spain will welcome it with great enthusiasm as an occasion to evangelize the young people and the society of Spain, which needs it so much.”

He invited young people “to attend the next WYD to meet with the Pope and strengthen their faith and commit themselves decidedly to Jesus Christ and to the good news of salvation.”

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‘Catholics for Choice’ to publish open letter to Pope criticizing Humanae Vitae

, Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - A group of Catholic dissenters plans to publish an open letter to Pope Benedict XVI in a major U.S. and a major Italian newspaper criticizing Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae on the fortieth anniversary of its promulgation, July 25. The group Catholics for Choice (CFC) claims that the encyclical’s teaching against contraception has been an “utter failure” that endangers women’s lives and leaves millions at risk of HIV. However, a major pro-life leader said the group’s accusations were hard to take seriously.

According to the version of the open letter obtained by CNA, CFC argues that there is a “paradox” in Humanae Vitae because “most Catholics use modern contraceptives, believe it is a moral choice to do so, and consider themselves Catholics in good standing.” The letter asserts that the encyclical has been an “utter failure” in convincing Catholics to abandon contraceptive use.

Catholic condemnation of contraceptive use, the CFC letter claims, has also hindered what it calls “good public health policies” on family planning and HIV prevention. It further claims that most Catholics support the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV.

Focusing on Pope Paul VI’s Birth Control Commission, which he consulted in preparing Humanae Vitae, the CFC letter says the commission had “voted overwhelmingly” to recommend rescinding the Catholic ban on artificial contraceptives. The majority reportedly argued that contraceptive use was not intrinsically evil and that previous Catholic teaching was not infallible, but according to CFC, Pope Paul listened to the commission’s minority report, which supported the historical Catholic prohibition of contraceptives.

The CFC letter in its conclusion asks Pope Benedict to be true to “the positive aspects of Catholic teachings on sexuality” and also to “lift the ban” on contraception.

Father Tom Euteneuer, President of Human Life International, addressed some of the reported contents of CFC’s open letter in an e-mail to CNA, saying “I find it hard to take seriously the accusation that Humanae Vitae is an ‘utter failure’.”

Father Euteneuer attacked the credibility of CFC, explaining, “An organization founded by a lady who ran illegal abortion clinics in the Third World before she graduated to higher levels of malfeasance is hardly an authority we should take seriously.” He reported that the organization has been condemned twice in open session by the U.S. Catholic Bishops as a deceptive and false “Catholic” organization.

Judging the success of Humanae Vitae, Father Euteneuer asserted, should not be colored by what he called CFC’s “pro-abortion glasses.”

“Millions of Catholic men and women are faithful to this teaching and will not send out press releases to tell about it,” he declared. This was evidenced, he said, by the success of organizations like Couple to Couple League, One More Soul, the “phenomenal popularity” of Janet Smith’s Humanae Vitae presentations and the new “Theology of the Body” of Pope John Paul II.

Father Euteneuer also countered the claim that Catholic teaching hindered HIV prevention efforts in the Third World. “The only country that has effectively controlled its HIV problem has done it through non-condom prevention programs. That is the Catholic Philippines,” he said.

He also noted that Uganda had reversed its “skyrocketing HIV-AIDS rate” through abstinence and behavioral change programs that shunned what he called “the condom savior.”

“They went from a 30% infection rate down to 5%; no other country in the world has done that, and the success can be laid at the feet of Catholic teaching,” he wrote, also crediting the work of the Franciscan nun Sister Miriam Duggan.

Father Euteneuer suggested that abstinence programs might not be as popular as condom-based programs because “abstinence costs nothing” and “cannot garner millions of dollars of economic aid like condoms can.”

Regarding the CFC letter’s claims about the 1967 Birth Control Commission, the HLI president wrote:

 “The majority were in favor of changing the teaching and the minority were real Catholics. Whatever the outcome, the sole determinant in the truth of the Church teaching is only one vote, that of the Holy Spirit, and Pope Paul VI followed His inspiration in issuing Humanae vitae at a time when it was overwhelmingly unpopular. He was the Pope, not a politician, and he did exactly what he should have done in reaffirming centuries-old infallible teaching.”

The fulfillment of what he deemed the “so-called Humanae Vitae prophecies” in paragraph 17 of the encyclical vindicated Pope Paul VI’s judgment, in Father Euteneuer’s view.

The HLI president explained Human Life International’s own plans for the fortieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae, saying they had a priest and seminarian newsletter centered on the encyclical at www.humanevitaepriests.org. He reported that the organization also has prepared parish bulletin inserts, homily notes, and a petition campaign to declare assent to the encyclical.

“We will also call for a day of fasting and prayer on the anniversary of the encyclical so that good Catholics can make reparation for the sins of the likes of CFC,” Father Euteneuer stated.

CNA’s attempts to obtain comment from CFC on their letter went unanswered before press time.

 

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Bishop of Avila laments the promotion of 'reign of secularism' in Spain

Avila, Spain, Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Jesus Garcia Burillo of Avila lamented the desire of some in Spain to impose “a secular gospel where the values of the Kingdom of God are substituted with ‘progressive values’ and the “reign of secularism,” whose signs are abortion, euthanasia and secularism.

In his latest pastoral letter, the bishop pointed out that recently leaders have been speaking of a “transformation of Spanish society” that will “change the mentality and lifestyle of today’s society, which is now passé, into a future of progress” with “signs” such as “abortion, euthanasia and secularism.”

He called on the faithful to reflect on this issue and to realize that the expectations of the ruling party are “in reality signs of death and not of life.”

Bishop Garcia Burillo warned that euthanasia is being proposed as “a personal right to death with dignity,” when “the practices that we know of, which are used to widen this right to die, consist in the sedation of a person in order to make him or her disappear.”

He also referred to the school course Education for Citizenship, “which aims to teach our children and teenagers according to the dominant cultural trends, a culture of death, a culture of equality of genders” that “aspires to be the educational basis of a truly secularist society, according to the anthropological model proposed by the State.”
Parents’ right to conscientiously object to the course must be respected, he added.

Bishop Garicia Burillo said Catholics should take a break from the media, which encourages people to selfishly fulfill their own needs without limits and sows “a reign of confusion.”

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Tiller abortion clinic allegedly performs abortion on unwilling sixteen-year-old

Wichita, Kan., Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - A sixteen-year-old Kansas girl was allegedly forced by her mother to undergo an abortion on Wednesday at an abortion clinic run by the notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller. Reportedly both the teenage girl and the baby’s father, who was also sixteen, objected to the abortion. The young father arrived at the clinic too late to stop the abortion, a pro-life group says.

According to an incident report from the Kansas Coalition for Life (KCFL) the sixteen-year-old girl was two months pregnant. Her mother brought her to the Women’s Health Care Services clinic in Wichita for the abortion at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday.

The KCFL says that Dillon, the reported father of the baby, arrived at the clinic in his own vehicle in the early afternoon. He reportedly told Jennifer McCoy, who was a KCFL pro-life counselor at the site, that his parents were willing to raise or adopt the baby and do whatever they could to help the teenage parents. Dillon claimed that he planned to marry his girlfriend when they graduated from high school and that his parents were supportive of the idea.

According to Dillon, only the girl’s mother wanted her to have the abortion and had threatened to disown the girl if she did not have one.
Jennifer McCoy sent Dillon into the abortion clinic to talk to the girl and to tell her that if she said she did not want the abortion, KCFL could call police to intervene on her behalf.

Thirty minutes after Dillon entered the clinic he, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s mother came to the gate and left the parking lot in their cars. According to KCFL the girl was crying, but her mother did not stop at the gate.

Dillon, also crying, stopped at the gate and told KCFL that he was just minutes too late. The baby was already dead when he was allowed to talk to his girlfriend. He asked KCFL to dedicate one of the on-site crosses to his baby as a memorial.

KCFL claims that organization volunteers have witnessed at least four similar incidents since they began their continuous presence at the clinic on Mother’s Day in 2004.

“It is not an uncommon scenario, and most young girls simply do not know their rights in this regard,” KCFL said.

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‘Jesus Christ welcomes you with open arms,’ Pope tells disadvantaged youth

Sydney, Australia, Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI met with disadvantaged youth at Sacred Heart Church on the Darlinghurst campus of the University of Notre Dame Australia on Friday. Exhorting them to become “ambassadors of hope” to others, despite their regrets and disadvantages, he asked the youths to commit themselves to a lifelong friendship with Jesus Christ, who the Pope said welcomes them “with open arms.”

The Pope based his remarks on the word “Alive,” the name of the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Social Services Agency program which is assisting the at-risk youth. He considered the nature of life and being alive, noting that Christ wished mankind to have life “abundantly.”

“The most basic instinct of all living things is to stay alive, to grow, to flourish, and to pass on the gift of life to others,” he noted. “So it is only natural that we should ask how best to do this.”

The Israelites, he said, had to “choose life” by turning away from their false gods and then by obeying God’s commandments in order to rightly worship the true God. While idolatry seems unlikely in the present age, Pope Benedict said, “sometimes people worship ‘other gods’ without realizing it.” These ‘false gods,’ he explained, almost always center upon material possessions, possessive love, or power.

While noting that material possessions are good in themselves, the Holy Father said that greed and the refusal to share what we have with the needy makes them into false gods. “Instead of bringing life, they bring death.”

Love, too, is obviously something good, Pope Benedict said.

“Without it,” he continued, “life would hardly be worth living.  It fulfils our deepest need, and when we love, we become most fully ourselves, most fully human.  But how easily it can be made into a false god!  People often think they are being loving when actually they are being possessive or manipulative.  People sometimes treat others as objects to satisfy their own needs rather than as persons to be loved and cherished.”

The abuse of love, such as that found in permissive approaches to sexuality, is also a false god that brings life rather than death.
Power, when used responsibly and properly by good leaders, can transform humanity for the good. However, when used “to grasp at power for its own sake, to seek to dominate others or to exploit the natural environment for selfish purposes” it too becomes an idol.

All these “cults,” the Pope said, lead people to try to “play God” and to seize total control “with no regard for the wisdom or the commandments that God has made known to us.  This is the path that leads towards death.”

Worship of the true God, however, is the way to choose life. True worship of God means “recognizing in him the source of all goodness, entrusting ourselves to him, opening ourselves to the healing power of his grace and obeying his commandments.”

Pope Benedict referenced the parable of the Prodigal Son, who he said sought the “illusory pleasures” promised by false gods but was welcomed home with joy when he returned to his father. The Pope noted that many in the audience had personal experiences similar to those of the Prodigal Son, whether through drug or alcohol abuse, criminal activity, or self-harm. While such sins may have once seemed to “offer a way out, he said “You now know that, instead of bringing life, it brings death.”

The disadvantaged youth’s “courageous” acceptance of help from family, friends, and “Alive” program staff had returned them to the path of life, just like the Prodigal Son’s return, the Pope said.

Having returned to the right path, the Pope said the youths could help others do the same.

“Dear friends,” he exhorted, “I see you as ambassadors of hope to others in similar situations. You can convince them of the need to choose the path of life and shun the path of death, because you speak from experience.”

Those who had taken the wrong path, Pope Benedict noted, were “particularly loved by Jesus, because once they recognized their mistake, they were all the more open to his healing message.” While the self-righteous criticized Jesus, “it was those who were willing to rebuild their lives who were most ready to listen to Jesus and become his disciples.”

“You can be sure that, just like the Father in the story of the prodigal son, Jesus welcomes you with open arms,” the Pope proclaimed. “He offers you unconditional love – and it is in loving friendship with him that the fullness of life is to be found.” 

The capacity for deep and lasting love, the Pope said, is “hard-wired” into every person but is evident only if we sacrifice our preference to serve others and to give our lives for others, “above all for Jesus.” Doing that, he said, is what it means to be truly alive.

Pope Benedict then voiced his prayer for the youths, saying:

“Let his Spirit guide you onto the path of life, so that you obey his commandments, follow his teachings, leave behind the wrong turnings that lead only to death, and commit yourselves to a lifelong friendship with Jesus Christ.  In the power of the Holy Spirit, choose life and choose love, and bear witness before the world to the joy that it brings.”

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Pope apologizes to victims of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in Australia

Sydney, Australia, Jul 18, 2008 (CNA) - At the consecration of the altar at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney this morning, Pope Benedict XVI issued an anticipated formal apology to people who experienced sexual abuse by clergy of the Australian Catholic Church.

During his message to 3,400 of Australia’s bishops, seminarians and novices the Pope paused to address the issue that attracted significant media interest in light of World Youth Day held in Sydney.

“Here I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country.”

“These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation.”

“They have caused great pain, they have damaged the church’s witness.”
The Holy Father then urged the religious members of the Church who were present, to work together in “combating this evil.”

“Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice.”

“It is an urgent priority to promote a safer and more wholesome environment, especially for young people.”

“In these days marked by the celebration of World Youth Day, we are reminded of how precious a treasure has been entrusted to us in our young people, and how great a part of the Church’s mission in this country has been dedicated to their education and care.”

The Pope’s statements follow his comments about sex abuse and the Church made to the media during the Papal flight to Sydney, where he said, “We have to consider what was insufficient in our behaviour and how we can prevent, heal, reconcile.”

“He was really sorry, and said that he understood it was painful for others,” said Lorena, part of the Marian Community of Reconciliation in Sydney, who was close to the Pope, sitting in the fifth row.

"“I was personally touched by the message. Even if it was not the Pope  who committed the abuse, I was touched by the humility that the Pope has shown to us," said John Paul Esclaran, a 24 year old Filipino seminarian, part of the Diocese of Parramatta and studying at the Holy Spirit Seminary.

This apology is a similar to statements made by the Pope in his recent visit to the United States. 

Pope's message to young seminarians and religious of the Australian Catholic Church

“Dear friends: with great generosity you have set out on a particular path of consecration, grounded in your Baptism and undertaken in response to the Lord’s personal call."

"You have committed yourselves, in different ways, to accepting Christ’s invitation to follow him, to leave all behind, and to and to devote your lives to the pursuit of holiness and the service of his people."

“In this way, dear young seminarians and religious, you yourselves will become living altars, where Christ’s sacrificial love is made present as an inspiration and a source of spiritual nourishment to everyone you meet."
 
“By embracing the Lord’s call to follow him in chastity, poverty and obedience, you have begun a journey of radical discipleship which will make you “signs of contradiction” (cf. Lk 2:34) to many of your contemporaries."

“Model your lives daily on the Lord’s own loving self-oblation in obedience to the will of the Father.  You will then discover the freedom and joy which can draw others to the Love which lies beyond all other loves as their source and their ultimate fulfilment.”

“Listening to the sharing of the nun and what she saying about her life as a religious person, I was inspired about my own discernment, and said to myself, this is the life I’m going to take," said John Paul.

"It added to my discernment, it certainly helped.”

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Lk 9:51-56

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