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Archive of July 29, 2008

Dozens of medical professionals attest that personhood begins at conception

Denver, Colo., Jul 29, 2008 (CNA) - Colorado for Equal Rights, an organization backing a measure on the Colorado ballot that would define a person in the state’s Constitution as “any human being from the moment of fertilization,” has released a list of over 70 physicians and pharmacists from around the United States who agree that a person includes any human from the moment of conception.

"We are honored to have received these endorsements from such respected physicians," stated Kristi Burton, head of Colorado for Equal Rights. "Science clearly proves that life begins at the time of fertilization. We are secure in the fact that we have science and reason on our side, and we are pleased to have the medical community supporting our efforts."

"As support for Amendment 48 accumulates, we are very encouraged as we get closer to November's election," Burton said. "Every human life should be protected, and the endorsements we continue to receive prove that our easy to understand amendment is one that all Coloradans can support."

The group needed to collect 76,000 signatures to put the amendment on the ballot in November and succeeded in doing so on May 31 with 103,000 signatures.

The list of medical supporters is viewable at http://www.coloradoforequalrights.com/.

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Chinese government forces hotels to install internet spying tools

Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2008 (CNA) - Although the Olympics are meant to be a time of celebration and athletic competition, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) produced evidence today that Chinese authorities are planning to spy on visitors’ internet usage.

Documents obtained by CNA from Sen. Brownback’s office, show that the Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) is requiring hotels to install a software program called the “Security Management System” and a hardware device, both of which will allow the PSB to monitor the use of the internet by their patrons.

Hotels and other companies who charge for internet usage were told to have the software component installed by April 28, 2008 and to have the hardware functional by July 31, 2008 or face fines from the PSB.

Those who refuse to comply with the orders will be fined $730 for individuals and $2,200 for a company. Serious violations, the notice mandating the installations warns, will result in a suspension of access to the internet or the cancellation of the company’s business license.

Several international hotel chains have confirmed to Sen. Brownback that they have received the order from the PSB but have requested anonymity because they fear retaliation by the government.

Brownback explained that, “in order to protect their safety, and in return for their courage in coming forward, I cannot divulge their identities.  These hotels are justifiably outraged.  On the other hand, these hotel chains have invested millions of dollars in their Chinese properties, and while they wish to find a way to reverse this order, if they are specifically identified, they could face severe retaliation by the Communist government." 

One notice posted by a hotel chain reads:

“We are pleased to offer access to high speed Internet service from this hotel. However, before you choose to use this Internet service, we wish to advise you that your communications and website activity are not private. All of your activity using this service such as sending emails and accessing websites is required by local law enforcement authorities to be accessible to them and a system is in place to provide that access.”

“If you have any questions, please speak with the hotel General Manager. We appreciate your business and understanding.”

Sen. Brownback denounced the Chinese spy tactics at a press conference in Washington DC today.

"I am very disappointed that the Chinese government will not follow through on its promise to the International Olympic Committee to maintain an environment free of government censorship during the Games," said Brownback. "The Chinese government has put in place a system to spy on and gather information about every guest at hotels where Olympic visitors are staying.  This means journalists, athletes' families and other visitors will be subjected to invasive intelligence gathering by the Chinese Public Security Bureau."

The senator also noted that, “Prior to being chosen to host the Olympic Games, China pledged to provide open access to information, and to allow journalists to write freely, for at least the duration of the Games.  However, in advance of the Olympics, foreign-owned hotels in China were ordered to install monitoring equipment on their network which will allow the Chinese Public Security Bureau to monitor the electronic information processed by thousands of international visitors staying in these hotels.”

The Chinese government has also faced criticism in recent days for its poor handling of journalists during the final sale of tickets to Olympic events. During the incident last Friday, reporters from Hong Kong Cable TV were roughed up by Beijing police and a South China Morning Post newspaper photographer was hit, arrested and detained after taking pictures during the scramble for tickets.

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Myanmar cyclone refugees return home hoping ‘way of the Cross’ is over

, Jul 29, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop of Yangon Charles Bo has circulated a letter describing the situation in Myanmar as the country continues to recover from cyclone Nargis. While returning refugees are happy to be home, he said, they are pained by the loss of life and the damage done to houses, schools, and places of worship. “We do hope our way of the Cross is over,” one returnee said.

The archbishop recounted the state of the Catholic rescue mission deep in Ei Ma in the Diocese of Pathein. He related that the parish priest Father Andrew Soe Win died during the cyclone there, and that refugees are returning in a “slow trickle.”

“Their church is gone and their pastor was buried,” the archbishop said, reporting the words of one returned refugee:

“Our altar around which we used to come as a village community is gone. And our Priest who used to tell us so many good things is gone. We were refugees, we begged for our bread in the last months. We do hope our way of the Cross is over. We are happy to be back where our homes used to be.”

Archbishop Bo said that spiritual rehabilitation remains a challenge, but Myanmar Catholics feel that they are “breaking bread with the broken people of Myanmar.”

“On the altar of suffering, with tears in their eyes, men and women sought fellowship in refugee camps and broken churches,” he continued.
The archbishop said using the “generous assistance” from the universal Church and the Caritas charity network, Myanmar Catholics have reached out to hundreds of refugees. “To all of you who responded with magnificent generosity, the people of Myanmar owe a debt of gratitude,” he wrote.

He said spiritual healing, the rebuilding of houses and the recovery of livelihoods are now major challenges, but the NGOs that helped Myanmar are decreasing efforts as media attention lessens.

Despite these developments, Archbishop Bo said, ordinary life is reasserting itself.

“Farmers have returned to the fields, mothers are busy sending their children back to school, and in the fields the seeds are once again sprouting, fighting the dark days of cyclone Nargis,” he said. “The human spirit fights back in every field.”

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Thousands in Philippines protest population control bill

Manila, Philippines, Jul 29, 2008 (CNA) - About 12,000 pro-lifers gathered on the grounds of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila last Friday to protest a proposed population control bill in the Philippines.

The event, called the “Rally for Life,” was addressed by Archbishop Angel Lagdameo on the topic of the House bill “Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008.”

Speaking in a homily during a Mass at the event, Archbishop Lagdameo argued the bill would not solve the problems of population growth but would only undermine the dignity of marriage and endanger women. He said that artificial contraceptives cause physical and psychological harm to women.

Archbishop of Manila Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, addressing the crowd after the Mass, said couples should instead practice sexual self-control.

Dr. Brian Clowes, an author and researcher for the U.S.-based group Human Life International (HLI) said the population control bill “is not a Filipino bill.”

“The language maybe written by Filipino hands but the language and texts comes from London, England and Washington DC,” he said, according to CBCP News.

“I’ve seen the same bill in many parts around the world,” Clowes claimed, arguing that powerful countries want to control the Philippines population in order to control the country’s natural resources.

He also argued that the passage of the bill would lead to legalized abortion.

Philippines President Gloria Arroyo, in her annual State of the Nation address in Quezon City on Monday, said the government was committed to its policy on natural family planning methods. She claimed the methods had curbed population growth by 2.04 percent.

“Our campaign spreads awareness of responsible parenthood regarding birth spacing,” President Arroyo said. “Long years of pushing contraceptives made it synonymous to family planning. Therefore, informed choice should mean letting more couples, mostly Catholics, know about natural family planning.”

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S. Dakota abortion clinic still not performing abortions, local pro-lifers say

Sioux Falls, S.D., Jul 29, 2008 (CNA) - South Dakota pro-life advocates continue to report that the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is no longer performing abortions after a rigorous informed consent state law took effect earlier this month, though they say further investigation is required for confirmation. “We were the first state that ever made Planned Parenthood put up a closed sign,” one pro-life leader said.

Dr. Allen Unruh, a leader in South Dakota’s Vote Yes for Life campaign, wrote a statement last week describing how on Monday, July 21 a sign on the Planned Parenthood clinic door said it was closed and women who had scheduled abortions were turned away.

“On this Monday, no unborn babies died in South Dakota by an abortion,” he said.

The clinic normally flies in a doctor from Minneapolis, Minnesota to perform fifteen to twenty abortions every Monday.

Dr. Unruh credited the state informed consent law for discouraging doctors from performing abortions.

“The penalties for abortionist's non-compliance could include a prison sentence, loss of medical license, and civil liability. In South Dakota, a wrongful death case can be brought for the death of an unborn child at any age of gestation,” he said.

“Time will tell if an abortionist will take the medical and legal risk of completing abortions in South Dakota without compliance to the 8th Circuit decision,” Unruh continued in his statement. “The new rules are that they must tell the truth. The immediate beneficiaries of this new law are the women and their children. The women will be better informed, and that information, for some, will most likely result in the women keeping their children. More children will live.”

In an interview with CNA on Monday, July 28, Dr. Unruh said there were still indications that no abortions were being performed at the Sioux Falls clinic. Sidewalk counselors had told him that none of the women who were apparently scheduled for abortions had showed at the clinic by 9:30 am.

He said pro-life advocates are still investigating the situation at the Sioux Falls abortion clinic, but Unruh was triumphant.

“We were the first state that ever made Planned Parenthood put up a closed sign,” he told CNA.

When informed of CNA’s Thursday interview with Minnesota-based Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kathi Di Nicola, who denied that abortion services had stopped in Sioux Falls, Dr. Unruh replied:

“Why didn’t the abortionists fly in on that day? They cannot deny that they had a closed sign there last Monday.”

He told CNA that local pro-lifers feel that the cessation of abortions in South Dakota is a “Gettysburg in the ‘civil war’ for the unborn.”

“What happens in South Dakota can change the world forever,” he said.
Dr. Unruh directed attention to the Initiated Measure 11 Campaign, which he said bans abortions “as birth control” and contains several exceptions which voters had requested in a previous pro-life initiative that failed to pass. He noted that the campaign website is located at www.voteyesforlife.com.

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Latin America receives $2.1 million for rural development

Vatican City, Jul 29, 2008 (CNA) - Efforts to assist the disenfranchised in Latin America received a shot in the arm from the Populorum Progressio Foundation to the tune of $2.1 million following the foundation’s most recent meeting. 

The new funding was agreed upon at the July 9-12 meeting of the Populorum Progressio Foundation’s administrative council in Guadalajara, Mexico. The contributions, which come mainly from the Italian Church, total $2,108,300 and will be distributed to some 200 new development projects.

The projects aim to support the poor indigenous mixed race and Afro-American rural communities of Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a communiqué released by the foundation yesterday.

The foundation explained the plight of the poor in these areas, saying, "Indigenous peoples and 'campesinos' represent a high percentage of the population of Latin America. The rapid process of urbanization of the continent and the imposition of a post-modern culture have isolated these peoples from the social context and from the development to which others have had access. Thus they have been largely marginalized and lack protection, on many occasions unjustly losing ownership of their lands.”

Support for these at risk communities has included numerous Popes, including Paul VI, Servant of God John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

This year the countries that presented the greatest number of projects were Brazil (39), Colombia (35), Peru (27) and Ecuador (18).

The process for presenting a project for funding involves various ecclesial communities and by pastoral groups submitting an application for the project to the local diocesan bishop, who then passes the application along to the administrative council, the foundation explains.

"They are all aimed at the integral development of peoples and involve the following sectors: 29.9 percent to agriculture, livestock and small businesses; 33.2 percent to public service infrastructures such as the supply of drinking water, fencing, toilets and communal halls; 19.46 percent to the building of schools, houses and health centers; 12.3 percent to professional training, communication, tools and publications; 5.14 percent to healthcare: medical equipment and staff training," according to the administrative council.

At the end of the meeting, a new president and vice president of the administrative council were elected, respectively, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, and Archbishop Edmundo Luis Flavio Abastoflor Montero of La Paz, Bolivia.

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New, more literal English translation of Order of the Mass approved by Holy See

Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2008 (CNA) - The Holy See’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has approved the new English-language translation of the Order of the Mass submitted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The Order of the Mass, which is the first section of the translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal, includes most of the texts used in every celebration of the Mass, including the responses given by the people.

The new translation is more literal at times. For instance, the first line of the Sanctus, which follows the Consecration, reads “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts,” instead of “God of power and might.” The people’s response at the Ecce Agnus Dei (Behold the Lamb of God) is to be “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed,” which more closely follows the Scripture passage on which it is based.

The response “et cum spiritu tuo,” previously translated as “also with you,” is now translated as “and with your spirit,” while the Confiteor (Penitential Rite) now includes the text “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”

A letter from Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said the text is provided now so that there is enough time “for the pastoral preparation of priests, deacons and for appropriate catechesis of the lay faithful. It will likewise facilitate the devising of musical settings for parts of the Mass.”

The new text is covered under copyright law and the Statutes of the International Commission on English and the Liturgy.

The release date of the entire translation of the Roman Missal is not yet available, and liturgists contacted by CNA were hesitant to comment on the new translations until the U.S. Bishops’ Conference offers its explanation, which is expected sometime in early August.

The new translation is meant to give Catholics a greater awareness of the transcendent nature of the Mass, to elevate the language with which worship is offered to God and to more accurately reflect the original Latin prayers.

Bishop Arthur Sarretelli, who chairs the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, recently described the purpose of the changes, writing, “By the very fact that, in some instances, the new translations require thoughtful and careful attention to pauses when speaking helps to foster and create a less rushed and more reverent way of praying.”

He added that, “Liturgical language should border on the poetic.  Prose bumps along the ground. Poetry soars to the heavens. And our Liturgy is already a sharing of the Liturgy in heaven.”

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Authorities admit that Brazilian population is getting older at accelerated rate

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 29, 2008 (CNA) - An official study has confirmed that Brazil’s previous projections regarding its aging population are incorrect and that during 2006 the country’s fertility rate dipped to the ratio projected for 2043 of 1.8 children per woman—which does not guarantee population replacement.

The official figures from the National Survey of Demography and Health, published several days ago, revealed that the projections made by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics in 2004 have become a reality 40 years ahead of time.

Analyst Elza Berquo explained that the changes in the birth rate began forty years ago, and that recent data is consistent with those records.  “I don’t know why the Institute continued working with that estimate (of birth rate decline). Based on this tendency, I think fertility will continue to decline.”

Demographer Jose Eustasio Alves of the National School of Science and Statistics warned that the rapid decline in fertility will also accelerate the decline in the overall population.  The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics calculates that this will occur beginning in the year 2062, but the United Nations estimates that the population will begin to decrease in 2030.

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Pope to work on new document during vacation in Bressanone

Rome, Italy, Jul 29, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI may be working on the conclusion of the expected social encyclical or on a new document during his vacation in Bressanone, according to Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, who spoke to reporters on the first day of the Pope’s vacation in German-speaking northern Italy.

“It’s possible he will spend some time on the second part of his book about Jesus or on the conclusion of his long-awaited social encyclical. Or perhaps he is thinking of something different, like last year, when we were all expecting the social encyclical after his vacation in Cadore and instead he wrote Spe salvi,” Father Lombardi said.

This is the eleventh time Pope Benedict XVI has visited the seminary at Bressanone.  “The Pope comes specifically to the seminary, which he is very familiar with, especially the library, which he has had a key to since the time he was a cardinal,” said the seminary’s rector Father Ivo Muser.

Recalling the motto “Pietas et Scientia” (Piety and Knowledge) that is displayed over the entrance of the 400 year-old seminary, Father Muser noted that the seminary possesses “a great heritage of culture and art that is very stimulating for the Holy Father.”

It was at this seminary where then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the first chapters of his book, “Jesus of Nazareth,” and where in 1984, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he was interviewed by Vittorio Messori for his book, “The Ratzinger Report.”

During his first full day of vacation, the Pope spent all of his time inside the seminary.

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Cardinal calls on Peruvian government to resist pressure to approve abortion

Lima, Peru, Jul 29, 2008 (CNA) - During the Te Deum marking Peru’s Independence Day, the Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, called on the government to resist international pressure to pass laws that would “attack life and the family.”

During the ceremony at the Cathedral of Lima attended by President Alan Garcia and numerous government officials, the cardinal pointed out that the Church “defends the person, today more than ever, because she is concerned about some tendencies to limit the inviolable value of human life itself or to disassociate it from its natural environment, which is human lived in marriage and the family.”

He warned that “there is more and more pressure from certain ideological groups to achieve the legalization of abortion in the countries of Latin America, including our own. These minority groups, which make a lot of noise in the media and receive millions from overseas, seek to intimidate the average citizen and push for the legalization of new forms of abortion, under the pretext of ‘reproductive health’ and other slogans that lead to confusion,” the cardinal said.

“We wish to recall on this solemn occasion that the right to life is a right that should be recognized by all, because it is a fundamental right with respect to all other human rights,” he stated.

Cardinal Cipriani warned that some groups “of the so-called first world want to use the benefits of globalization to impose the idea that what is important in life is power, money and influence in the areas of politics, economics and the media.”

These pressures must be resisted, he said, because they stem from “practical materialism,” which is dehumanizing and damaging to human dignity and human relations. Cardinal Cipriani also called on members of the media to reflect on the responsibility they have for today’s entertainment-driven society.
 
The media must urgently “assume the role it has in the education of children and young people and in the formation of a coherent moral framework that must serve as the spiritual basis for the material development we are pursuing,” he said.

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Replica of famous statue of Sacred Heart destroyed in Madrid

Madrid, Spain, Jul 29, 2008 (CNA) - Last week a group of unknown delinquents chopped the head off of a statue of the Sacred Heart located in the gardens of the hermitage of San Antonio de la Florida in Madrid.

According to the Spanish daily “La Razon,” the nearly five-foot statue is a replica of the famous statue that sits atop the Cerro de los Angeles in Madrid and was made with stones from that statue, which was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.

“When the faithful came to attend Mass on Tuesday morning they found the statue on the ground,” said parish secretary Alejandro Diaz.  “Therefore the attack must have happened on Monday night or early Tuesday morning,” he said, adding that the attackers smashed the pedestal upon which the statue was standing several times in order to break it.”

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Clergy confraternity calls for prayer and fasting in reparation for Eucharistic desecration

Baltimore, Md., Jul 29, 2008 (CNA) - The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, a national association of over 600 priests and deacons, has responded to the reported desecration of the Eucharist at the hands of a Minnesota biology professor and science blogger by asking for the Catholics of Minnesota and the entire nation to join in a day of prayer and fasting.

“We find the actions of University of Minnesota (Morris) Professor Paul Myers reprehensible, inexcusable, and unconstitutional,” the group said in a statement. “His flagrant display of irreverence by profaning a consecrated Host from a Catholic church goes beyond the limit of academic freedom and free speech.”

The confraternity argued that Myers’ claim to have acquired and desecrated a consecrated Host is a violation of the freedom of religion guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

“Lies and hate speech which incite contempt or violence are not protected under the law,” they further asserted, arguing that freedom of religion means “no one has the right to attack, malign or grossly offend a faith tradition they personally do not have membership [in] or ascribe allegiance.”

The confraternity lamented the inaction of the University of Minnesota chancellor, who they said refused to reprimand or censure Myers.
“Tolerating such behavior by university officials is equally repugnant as it lends credibility to the act of religious hatred,” they stated.

The confraternity said it would pray “that Professor Myers contritely repent and apologize.”

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