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Archive of July 27, 2008

Priest close to Tony Blair celebrates 60 years of priesthood

London, England, Jul 27, 2008 (CNA) - A priest who is a close family friend and former tennis partner of former prime minister Tony Blair has been celebrating 60 years of life as a Catholic priest.

Fr. John Caden realized he wanted become a priest from a very early age and went to Ushaw College. He has been serving the Catholic community at Sedgefield, County Durham for 42 years despite being told "it wasn't the sort of place you'd want to stay for life."

The Universe reports that the 85-year-old priest baptized the four Blair children and was one of the few present at the former Labour leader's reception into the Catholic Church.

Fr. Jack, as he is affectionately known, has many special memories of his time at Sedgefield, including sharing a meal and getting a round of drinks for Blair and the U.S. president George W. Bush. 

"I remember getting non-alcoholic lager for President Bush and a Coke for Tony Blair and then actually having lunch with them on a table for 10. I had to keep pinching myself to reassure myself it was happening to me aged 80. Surreal is the only word to describe it."

Fr. Caden now helps run the parishes of Sedgefield, Trimdon and Coxhoe. At St. John Fisher Catholic Church, Sedgefield, two Sunday Masses are barely sufficient to accommodate worshippers, a situation that he describes as "a wonderful problem to have."

He has served for 25 years as chairman of governors at Carmel Roman Catholic College in Darlington, where he continues to celebrate a fortnightly Mass.

He was joined last week at a special diamond jubilee (60 year anniversary in Britain) Mass at Sedgefield, by Frs. George Dolan and Bill Bellamy, who were ordained alongside him. Another celebratory Mass, on the exact anniversary of his ordination, was held this week at St. Joseph’s in Coxhoe.

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Catholic adoption agency’s new policy will allow homosexuals to adopt

London, England, Jul 27, 2008 (CNA) - The largest Catholic adoption agency in England and Wales has decided to implement an adoption policy that does not rule out same-sex couples in the face of new laws that forbid such screening. The change in its adoption policy was made with the full support of the bishops who oversee the agency.

The decision, made by the Catholic Children’s Society of Arundel and Brighton, Portsmouth and Southwark (A&BSP) means the society will not turn away any homosexual couples who present themselves as potential adopters.

Terry Connor, chief executive of the society, explained to The Universe that any changes would not start until January and were a direct result of the recent Sexual Orientation Regulations which enforced “rights” for same sex couples who wish to adopt.

The move will undoubtedly be seen as controversial in some quarters. In January 2007, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor wrote to the-then Prime Minister Tony Blair suggesting that Catholic adoption agencies in England and Wales would be forced to close down if they were not allowed to opt out of new gay rights laws, which he said contradicted Catholic teaching.

The cardinal said forcing people to act against their consciences would mean discrimination on the grounds of belief, adding that it would be an "unnecessary tragedy" if Catholic agencies were forced to close.

In the cardinal's Westminster archdiocese, the Catholic Children's Society has opted to mount a legal challenge to the regulations by amending its constitution. But A&BSP, which prepares between 40-50 potential adoptive parents a year, has instead decided to comply with them.

In a letter sent to the society's supporters by Mr. Connor, he suggested that such a course offered the "only transparent, straightforward and guaranteed way of preserving our full range of much needed services for some of the most vulnerable children in the country."

His letter added that the bishops concerned - together with trustees, management and staff - had all agreed that, in the circumstances, it was the most reasonable and responsible course of action for the greater good.

Mr. Connor also stated clearly that that eligibility to apply to adopt a child was only the first step on the road to adoption.

"I suspect if a same-sex couple arrives at any of the agencies just to test out the system, they will not get very far," he said this week.

“We do not know whether we will actually be asked to consider same sex couples for the placing of children because, statistically, very few same sex couples go for adoption anyway.”

"We have to give an interview to same sex couples asking to be considered for adoption. But we are not anticipating we are going to get lots of same sex couples. It is much more likely that they will go to their local authority because it is the local authority which makes decisions about matching children with approved adopters, not the society.”

Mr. Connor added: "We need to make it very clear that the assessment of any adopters is very thorough. It is not about finding children for adults, but it is about finding families for very difficult children.”

"There are bishops who are taking the legal route about this, but ours are not. It remains to be seen whether that would result in more difficulties for their agencies.”

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Feminists ignore baby girls killed by sex-selective abortions, pro-life leader says

Front Royal, Va., Jul 27, 2008 (CNA) - Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute (PRI), has charged that American feminists are refusing to address the problem of sex-selective abortions, a phenomenon in which unborn children of an unwanted sex are aborted. Mosher claims that over 100 million girls are missing, primarily due to parents who use ultrasound examinations to choose whether or not to abort the unborn child.

Speaking in PRI’s latest YouTube video, Mosher says the disparity is particularly noticeable in East and South Asia, but also in American groups of Asian descent.

In China, India, and other Asian countries, there is a strong preference for boys,” Mosher says.  “This combination of a preference for boys and modern technology—the ultrasound machine—has proven deadly for millions upon millions of baby girls.”

The PRI video cites a recent study published by the National Academy of Sciences.

“Where are the feminists when you need them?” Mosher asks, alleging that American feminists’ dedication to permissive abortion laws makes them unwilling to oppose sex-selective abortion.

“I challenge the National Organization of Women,” says Mosher, “and other feminist groups, to join us in the battle to ban this terrible form of sex discrimination that is killing so many unborn baby girls.  Their continued silence only facilitates the killing.”

The PRI video is viewable at www.youtube.com/colinpri1

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Young people called to be apostles to their friends, Pope Benedict says

Castelgandolfo, Italy, Jul 27, 2008 (CNA) - Before the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about his July 12-21 trip to Australia for the 23rd World Youth Day. Recounting his experiences at the Sydney event, he encouraged young people to follow the example of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati by being apostles to their friends.

Speaking from the balcony of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father described World Youth Day as an “extraordinary experience.” He told his audience that in Sydney he met the “youthful face of the Church,” a “multicolor mosaic, composed of boys and girls from the world over, united in one faith in Jesus Christ.”

The World Youth Days begun by John Paul II, the Holy Father continued, reveal how “faith in Christ makes us all sons of the only Father who is in heaven and builders of the civilization of love.”

Pope Benedict spoke about the Holy Spirit, “unique to the Sydney gathering,” whom Christ promised would descend on the apostles. He added that the Sydney World Youth Day had been transformed into a “new Pentecost,” with the young people “called to be apostles to their peers.”  The Holy Father offered Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati as an example of one who shared his “personal experience with Jesus” with his acquaintances, thereby changing “the lives of his friends with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the love of God.”

Pope Benedict thanked the bishops of Australia, in particular the Archbishop of Sydney, for their preparations and hospitality shown toward him and the pilgrims. He also thanked Australia’s civil authorities for their collaboration and expressed gratitude to those around the world who prayed for the success of World Youth Day.

The Holy Father concluded by asking his audience to remain united with him in prayer as he travels to Bressanone tomorrow for his summer holiday.

After the Angelus, Pope Benedict directed these words towards the English-speaking pilgrims: “I greet the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims who are here today and I wish you all a pleasant stay in Italy. This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us that we should treasure above all else the faith that has been given to us. I pray that your visit to Rome and the surrounding area will help you to deepen your faith and to grow in your love for our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you all!”

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