Washington D.C., Jul 19, 2008 (CNA) - Some supporters of traditional marriage are protesting the fast food corporate giant McDonald’s over its decision to join the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) and its spokesman’s remarks suggesting those who disapprove of homosexual acts are driven by hatred.
The American Family Association had organized a boycott of McDonald’s for joining the NGLCC, Cybercast News Service reports. The boycott coalition also objects to the corporation’s donation of $20,000 to the chamber and the chamber membership of Richard Ellis, McDonald’s vice president of communications.
The announcement of the boycott prompted McDonald’s spokesman Bill Whitman to say in response “Hatred has no place in our culture. That includes McDonald's, and we stand by and support our people to live and work in a society free of discrimination and harassment.”
The comment was an “insult” according to Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs at the Liberty Counsel, which supports the boycott.
“He insulted tens of millions of Americans who believe that the historical definition of marriage between one man and woman is important and crucial to society. He said that we’re haters and we’re motivated by hate. That, on its face, is a bold-face lie,” he told Cybercast News Service.
Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, also attacked the comments.
“This is a canard that the homosexual activists have been pushing for years – that if you oppose homosexual activism you are somehow a ‘bigot,’ or a ‘hater’ or a ‘homophobe.’ It’s a scandal to see a spokesman for a seemingly pro-family organization like McDonald’s echoing the gay line like this,” LaBarbera said.
McDonald’s did not respond directly to questions about Whitman’s comments. However a letter attributed to McDonald’s chief diversity officer Pat Harris, said:
“At McDonald’s, we respect and value everyone… Diversity and inclusion are business imperatives and integral parts of our culture. We have a long and proud history of leadership in these areas and continually strive to maintain a work environment where everyone feels valued and accepted.”
“We recognize and appreciate the contributions diverse groups and individuals bring to our society, including McDonald’s. We stand behind and support everyone’s right to live and work in a society free from discrimination and harassment.”
A statement from NGLCC president Justin Nelson and CEO Chance Mitchell said the main focus of the organization is to connect major corporations with “LGBT-owned (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgendered) businesses that want to ensure their diverse supply chain looks like the customer and employee bases they have, or the customer and employee bases they are trying to attract.
“A company's decision to become a corporate partner doesn't reflect its entrance into the so-called ‘culture wars,’ as the conservative AFA suggested, but rather its commitment to diversity in the workplace and in its supplier relationships.”
Labarbera challenged the statement, saying the NGLCC is “a homosexual group which is working to extend advances made by homosexual activist groups over the last two decades or more” that also takes positions on legislation that concerns homosexuality.
“McDonald’s paid $20,000 so that one of its top executives could have a seat on the (NGLCC’s) board of directors,” LaBarbera said, according to Cybercast News Service. “How is that not an endorsement of the homosexual agenda?"
Ottawa, Canada, Jul 19, 2008 (CNA) - Mr. Natale Gallo, President of the Canadian Association of Knights of Columbus, has called on Canada’s 230,000 Knights to voice their opposition to the awarding of abortionist Henry Morgentaler with the Order of Canada and written a letter to Governor General Michaëlle Jean asking for the decoration to be “immediately rescinded.”
Gallo, the Canadian Knights of Columbus president, accused the Governor General of forgetting the hundreds of thousands of “links” in the “human chain” that have died from abortion in Canada and he urged all Canadian knights to contact their government officials to demand the revocation of the honor.
Twelve of Canada’s 88 bishops are known to have also publicly criticized the honoring of Morgentaler, LifeSiteNews reports. The critical bishops often exhorted their flocks to witness to the value of human life, to help those tempted to abort their unborn children, and to love and forgive those who have experienced abortion.
Bishop Fougere said the decision "belittles" the Order of Canada and those who have received it in the past. He asked Catholics to meditate on an important question, saying: "In your prayer, ask yourself the question: have we reached such a stage of moral and ethical bankruptcy?"
In a July 16 letter to Governor General Michaëlle Jean, Natale Gallo referenced her Canada Day comments referring to each Canadian making a “human chain” for the benefit of all.
“Yet, shortly after your remarks, in a list published through your office, we learned that one of the nominees for the Order of Canada award was Henry Morgentaler. Somewhere in between, you forgot the hundreds of thousands of ‘links’ that over the last forty years have been disposed of, thus breaking that ‘human chain’ of which you proudly spoke.”
Gallo said the bestowal of the award upon Morgentaler “denigrates” the Order of Canada to the point that it becomes “meaningless, futile and divisive.” He also wrote that he expected the award to be rescinded immediately.
Writing in a separate letter to Canadian Knights of Columbus, Gallo noted that the Order of Canada motto, from the Letter to the Hebrews, reads “desiderantes meliorem patriam,” meaning “those who desire a better country.”
“Indeed it is a sad day when this honor is bestowed upon such an individual as Dr. Henry Morgentaler, who has brought destruction to the helpless and defenseless unborn,” Gallo wrote.
He exhorted Knights of Columbus state deputies and the more than 230,000 Canadian knights “to stand united with our bishops” and to contact the offices of the Prime Minister, the Governor General, and their respective Members of Parliament to express their “revulsion” at presenting the award to Morgentaler.
“It is imperative for us to urge our Canadian government leaders to ensure that this act of dishonor against our country and our families is revoked,” Gallo wrote.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 19, 2008 (CNA) - Over 180,000 pilgrims waving national flags and hoisting camping gear are processing through the streets of Sydney city today towards Southern Cross Precinct where the Final Mass for WYD08 will be held.
The six mile (10 kilometre) walk began early this morning in North Sydney where pilgrims walked over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, through Darling Harbour and the suburbs of Sydney to arrive at Randwick racecourse, within the Southern Cross Precinct. The trek took most of the youth around 3.5 hours.
WYD organisers said that the pilgrims will be “witnesses to Christ, to one another and also to the non-pilgrim community,” as they walk to the racecourse.
Holding a four meter long Philippine flag walking along the Sydney Harbour Bridge between a group of about 12 pilgrims, Rissy, 21, said, “It is such a humbling experience to be here. Philippines sent over 4,000 pilgrims to WYD08 and is the homeland to thousands of Australian-Filipino Catholics.
Lukasz Grabowski, 25, one of approximately 2,000 pilgrims from Poland, spoke to CNA before commencing the walk from North Sydney. He said that this was his second world Youth Day having attended the previous WYD in Colonge, Germany.
“I met my wife at the last WYD,” he told CNA, “We got married in April. We thought that either we could go to a beach for a week and lie there in the sun or go to WYD. We decided to come here for praise-giving to God. WYD is our honeymoon.”
“I think it is fantastic for people to come together to experience the faith. It is so wonderful that we are all from different nations but we can come and pray together, sing together and be happy together.”
Lukasz said he has lots of different jackets and piles of clothes to keep him warm during the sleepout.
“Or I could just dance in the light and mingle with the people!”
A Vigil liturgy lead by the Pope will be held at the Southern Cross Precinct at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The largest concert of all the youth festival will precede the Vigil, at which bands and artists will give performances, continuing the festive atmosphere of the week.
The themes of the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit will be explored during the Evening Vigil, in preparation for the Final Mass with the Pope.
Pilgrims are expected to give testimonies of their WYD experiences before the Pope gives an address to the gathered pilgrims.
After the Vigil, over 250,00 pilgrims will spend the night under the stars of the Australian sky at Randwick Racecourse.
The Pope will spend the night at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 19, 2008 (CNA) - Alongside the WYD cross and the icon of Mary, and under the "magnificent constellation of the Southern Cross," the Pope delivered a message to pilgrims gathered at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney for the final night of WYD08, inspiring them to offer hope, strive for unity and to transform their families, communities and nations empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The spectacular two-hour celebration included music, liturgy and the testimonies of seven young people from around the world.
"Tonight we focus our attention on how to become witnesses," said the Pope. "Indeed, society today is being fragmented by a way of thinking that is inherently short-sighted, because it disregards the full horizon of truth- the truth about God and about us."
"By its nature, relativism fails to see the whole picture. It ignores the very principles which enable us to live and flourish in unity, order and harmony…"What is our response, as Christian witnesses, to a divided and fragmented world?" asked the Pope.
"How can we offer the hope of peace, healing and harmony to those 'stations' of conflict, suffering and tension which you have chosen to march with this World Youth Day Cross? Unity and reconciliation cannot be achieved through our efforts alone," said the Pope. “God has made us for one another and only in God and his Church can we find the unity we seek.”
"Unity is the essence of the Church,” the Pontiff declared. “It is a gift we must recognize and cherish. Tonight, let us pray for the resolve to nurture unity: contribute to it! Resist any temptation to walk away! For it is precisely the comprehensiveness, the vast vision, of our faith- solid yet open, consistent yet dynamic, true yet constantly growing in insight- that we can offer our world."
It is because of your faith, that your friends turn to you in times of difficulty, the Pope explained. All humanity harbors a "cry for recognition, for belonging, for unity.”
“From the forlorn child in a Darfur camp, or a troubled teenager, or an anxious parent in any suburb, or perhaps even now from the depth of your own heart, there emerges the same human cry for recognition, for belonging, for unity. Who satisfies that essential human yearning to be one, to be immersed in communion, to be built up, to be led to truth? The Holy Spirit! This is the Spirit’s role: to bring Christ’s work to fulfillment. Enriched with the Spirit’s gifts, you will have the power to move beyond the piecemeal, the hollow utopia, the fleeting, to offer the consistency and certainty of Christian witness!”
The Pope told of how he decided to study the witnesses to the Holy Spirit whom he described as "the neglected person of the Blessed Trinity," which is how he discovered the works of the Saint Augustine. He proclaimed the lessons of St. Augustine, saying that "at first [Augustine] was suspicious of the Christian teaching that God had become man." Yet his experience of the love of God present in the Church led him to … three particular insights about the Holy Spirit."
The first was that "the 'Holy' and 'Spirit' refer to what is divine about God... what is shared by the Father and the Son." Hence, "Augustine concluded that the Spirit's particular quality is unity.
The second insight of Augustine, said the Pope was the understanding of "the Holy Spirit is abiding love." "Love is the sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit!" proclaimed the Pope.
"The third insight- the Holy Spirit as a gift- Augustine derived from meditating on a Gospel passage we all know and love: Christ's conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. The Spirit is "God's gift" – the internal spring, who truly satisfies our deepest thirst and leads us to the Father."
"The Holy Spirit is God eternally giving himself; like a never-ending spring he pours fourth nothing less than himself. In view of this ceaseless gift, we come to see the limitations of all that perishes, the folly of the consumerist mindset. We begin to understand why the quest for novelty leaves us unsatisfied and wanting. Are we not looking for an eternal gift? The spring that will never run dry?"
"Dear young people…Inspired by the insights of Saint Augustine: let unifying love be your measure; abiding love your challenge; self giving love your mission! These gifts of the Spirit- each of which, as Saint Francis de Sales reminds us, is a way to participate in the one love of God- are neither prizes nor rewards."
The Pope went on to distinguish the value of practical action with and without faith.
"What constitutes our faith is not primarily what we do but what we receive. After all, many generous people who are not Christian may well achieve far more than we do. Friends, do you accept being drawn into God's Trinitarian life? Do you accept being drawn into his communion of love?"
Turn to the Holy Spirit, the Pope implored the youth, "Turn to him dear young people, and you will find the true meaning of renewal."
Finally, the Pope praised the beauty of the night's vigil saying, "Tonight, gathered under the beauty of the night sky, our hearts and minds are filled with gratitude to God for the great gift of our Trinitarian faith… Let us invoke the Holy Spirit: he is the artisan of God's works. Let his gifts shape you!”
"In the end, life is not about accumulation. It is much more than success. To be truly alive is to be transformed from within, open to the energy of God's love. In accepting the power of the Holy Spirit you too can transform you families, communities and nations. Set free the gifts! Let wisdom, courage, awe and reverence by the marks of greatness!"
Sydney, Australia, Jul 19, 2008 (CNA) - As he made his way to the Evening Vigil at Randwick racecourse on Saturday evening, Pope Benedict paid a brief visit to some of Australia’s retired Church officials, who were delighted by their encounter with the Pontiff.
The Holy Father stopped by the Mt. St. Joseph’s Home in Randwick - run by the Little Sisters of the Poor - on his way to the World Youth Day 2008 (WYD08) Evening Vigil at Randwick Racecourse tonight.
The Pope first visited with retired Cardinal Edward Bede Clancy, 84, who was the seventh Archbishop of Sydney, serving from 1983 to 2001.
A spokesman for WYD08 said the Holy Father also visited retired Bishops William Brennan and William Murray.
The Holy Father also met with 92 year old Rosemarie Goldie, the Sydney-born former under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity - the first woman to hold such a high office in the Vatican.
Pope Benedict also spoke with several retired priests staying at the home in a visit that lasted around 20 minutes.
It is understood all were thrilled by the Holy Father’s visit, a late addition to his schedule, the spokesman said.