San Diego, Calif., Jul 31, 2008 (CNA) - Tuesday the Federal District Court of Southern California ruled that the 29-foot cross overlooking San Diego County will not be removed from its position on Mount Soledad. The cross, originally dedicated in 1954 to honor Korean War veterans is the center of a national veteran’s memorial.
According to the Thomas More Law Center, Federal District Court Judge Larry Alan Burns ruled: “The Court finds the memorial at Mt. Soledad, including its Latin cross, communicates the primarily non-religious messages of military service, death and sacrifice.”
The judge also mentioned a friend of the court brief filed by the Law Center on behalf of the families of two Marines killed in Iraq when a missile hit their attack helicopter. The two Marines are honored along with over 2,400 American war veterans at the national veteran’s memorial.
The President and Chief Counsel for the Law Center, Richard Thompson, commented, “This is a wonderful victory, not only for the families of Majors Martino and Bloomfield who can have some comfort knowing that the memories of their loved ones are preserved under the Cross, but for all Americans who care about our young men and women who have sacrificed their lives in defense of our country.”
He added that the fight is not over. Thompson stated that he fully expects “the ACLU attorneys to appeal this decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.”
This isn’t the first time that the Law Center has defended the cross. In a recent release, the Law Center noted that they defended the cross in 2006 after an agreement was made between the City of San Diego and an atheist who wanted the cross to be removed.
The Law Center began by petitioning Justice Anthony Kennedy to request that the cross remain in its place until the appeals were completed. They also petitioned the federal government to transfer the cross from city to federal property, making any decision by the district court to remove the cross ineffective.
Soon after this victory, the ACLU filed a new lawsuit against the federal government claiming that the relocation was improper and that the cross violated the “wall of separation of church and state.”
The Federal government is defending the cross and, with the help of the Law Center, is planning to demonstrate the importance of the cross to the family members of the deceased war veterans.
Boston, Mass., Jul 31, 2008 (CNA) - In what marriage advocates called “part of a cynical strategy to inflict same-sex marriage on the unwilling citizens of other states,” the Massachusetts House on Tuesday voted by a margin of 119 to 36 to repeal a 1913 law that blocked marriage licenses from being granted to same-sex couples from out-of-state.
The Senate approved the repeal earlier in July, meaning the measure now requires one more procedural vote in each chamber of the legislature before it is sent to Governor Deval Patrick, who has said he will sign the measure.
Massachusetts became the first state to permit homosexual marriage in 2004, but then-Governor Mitt Romney ordered town and city clerks to follow a 1913 law that prohibits couples from marrying if the unions would be illegal in their home states.
At the time, Romney argued that repealing the law would turn the state into the “Las Vegas of gay marriage.”
The Catholic Action League denounced the House vote in a Tuesday statement, calling it “part of a cynical strategy to inflict same-sex marriage on the unwilling citizens of other states without the consent of the electorate.”
C. J. Doyle, Executive Director of the Catholic Action League, argued the legislation will allow homosexual couples to litigate to overturn existing marriage laws in other states which prohibit same-sex marriage.
“Once again, the judiciary will be used to evade the legislative process and circumvent the ballot box,” Doyle stated. “Ironically, by voting for this measure today, Massachusetts legislators may undermine the ability of their counterparts in other states to exercise that same right on this issue.”
Doyle also lamented Catholic politicians’ involvement in passing the law.
“Today, a majority of Catholics in the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted again in favor of homosexual marriage. There is a growing sense of outrage among faithful Catholics over the conduct of nominally Catholic politicians who repudiate fundamental Catholic moral teachings about the sanctity of human life and the integrity of traditional marriage. There is also a growing sense of urgency that this scandal must be brought to an end.”
Manila, Philippines, Jul 31, 2008 (CNA) - Following opposition from Catholic laity and prelates, several representatives to the Philippines Congress have withdrawn their support for a pending population policy bill that recommends implementing a “two child” policy and funding sterilizations and the distribution of contraceptives.
Romblon Rep. Eleandro Madrona on Wednesday phoned Jose Corazon Talaoc, the Bishop of Romblon, to say he is backing out of the proposal, CBCP News reports.
Bishop Talaoc reacted by saying, “I am celebrating my fifth episcopal anniversary now so I think this is the best gift for me ever.”
“Rest assured that I will be backing out of the bill and I will always support the stand of the Church,” the bishop reported Madrona as saying. He also reported that he legislator will release a letter formally withdrawing his support.
Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza of the fourth district of Batangas has also stopped supporting the measure.
Ramon Arguelles, the Archbishop of Lipa whose archdiocese includes Mendoza’s district, said Mendoza apologized for his position in a June 28 letter in which he made known his “change of heart.”
Father Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, praised the lawmakers’ change of opinion.
“We praise and thank God. Our prayers and hope that many will follow suit,” he said. “We beg our lawmakers, whom we love and respect, to drop the entire bill altogether.”
The priest also repeated the criticism that the bill, titled “The Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008,” is a doorway to legal abortion in the country.
“Reproductive Health is not a natural word, it is an alternative word that includes abortion,” he argued.
Chicago, Ill., Jul 31, 2008 (CNA) - As reports circulate that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama is considering Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, a Catholic who supports abortion, for his vice-presidential pick, the national Catholic advocacy group Fidelis is arguing that the choice of a pro-abortion Catholic as Obama’s running mate would put off Catholic voters who are still considering his candidacy.
"The choice of a pro-abortion Catholic for vice president would deal a major blow to any efforts by the Obama campaign to reach out to Catholic voters," said President of Fidelis Brian Burch, speaking in a press release. “Both the bishops and the laity continue to wrestle with the scandal of prominent Catholic politicians who support abortion, and the choice of a pro-abortion Catholic running mate would amount to scratching at a deep and festering wound in the American Catholic Church.”
Other pro-abortion Catholics have been named as choices for the Democratic ticket, including Sens. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.
Earlier this year Governor Sebelius was rebuked by Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph Naumann for her support for legalized abortion and her connections with notorious late-term Kansas abortionist George Tiller. The archbishop asked Sebelius not to receive Holy Communion until she renounced her stand.
“Given his position on abortion, everyone expects Senator Obama to select a pro-abortion vice presidential candidate. But the choice of a Catholic who publicly rejects the teachings of their faith on this 'foundational' issue could be disastrous," said Burch. "Just ask John Kerry or Rudy Giuliani.”
Sen. Obama has a history of surrounding himself with dissenting Catholics. The Catholic League argues that “not one of the 26 former and current public policy holders who constitute the group stand with the Catholic Church on all three major issues: abortion, embryonic stem cell research and school vouchers.”
Vatican City, Jul 31, 2008 (CNA) - The Vatican's Press Office released the Holy Father's prayer intentions for the month of August today.
Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for is: "That the human family may know how to respect God's design for the world and thus become ever more aware of the great gift of God which Creation represents for us."
His mission intention is: "That the answer of the entire people of God to the common vocation to sanctity and mission may be promoted and fostered, with careful discernment of the charisms and a constant commitment to spiritual and cultural formation."
Madrid, Spain, Jul 31, 2008 (CNA) - The National Association for the Defense of the Right to Conscientious Objection is deploring new data this week that indicates that 9 out every 10 babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted by their parents in Spain.
General coordinator of the Association, Jose Antonio Diez, said that in 94.5% of the cases that a prenatal diagnosis indicates the presence of Down’s syndrome, the baby is aborted.
He said such diagnoses are often used to “eliminate children with more or less serious defects. The doctor is not free to offer alternatives,” and for this reason many parents are now conscientiously objecting to prenatal diagnosis that is not intended for medical treatment, Diez said.
Spanish law does not permit abortion in cases in which the fetus is presumed to have “serious physical or mental defects,” such as Trisomy 21, spina bifida or anencephaly.
According to the “Women's Help Line Foundation” (Linea de Atencion a la Mujer), allowing the abortion of handicapped persons is discrimination “incompatible with the Convention on the rights of handicapped persons approved by the UN in New York on December 13, 2006. Spain signed that Convention on December 3, 2007, and it took effect on May 3.”
Article 10 of the Convention affirms that “the signatory States reaffirm the inherent right to life of all human beings and shall adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the effective enjoyment of that right by handicapped persons equal to all others.”
Paris, France, Jul 31, 2008 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of France announced that during Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit to the country September 12-15, a “Youth Festival” will be held with the Pontiff to mark the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Mary at Lourdes.
The Youth Festival will include three vigils in Lourdes with the Holy Father. On Friday, September 12, at vigil/concert organized by the Emmanuel movement will take place at 9 p.m.
The next day at 11 p.m., an adoration prayer vigil for young people will take place, with a special talk by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France.
On Sunday, September 14, at 9 p.m., another concert vigil will be organized by the Community of St. John.
The bishops’ conference estimates that some 250,000 people, many of them young people, will attend the closing Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI together with hundreds of bishops and priests.
Asunción, Paraguay, Jul 31, 2008 (CNA) - The controversial ex-priest and leader of Marxist liberation theology, Leonardo Boff of Brazil, said this week that the former bishop and President-elect of Paraguay “fully identifies with liberation theology and plans to implement it in his government, the preferential option for the poor.”
Boff made his comments after a meeting with Lugo, according to the Paraguayan daily “Ultima Hora.” He said it was also “important that policies be adopted to make citizens aware of the importance of conservation in order to protect the environment” and that he met with Lugo “as an environmentalist seeking support for regional environmental projects.”
On July 28, Lugo attended a talk by Boff on education in environmental issues at the National University of Asuncion in the city of San Lorenzo.
“Boff’s teaching not in keeping with Catholic Church”
Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano of Ciudad del Este spoke with the Paraguayan daily La Nacion about Boff’s views: “It’s not that liberation theology opts for the poor, as if the Catholic Church did not opt for the poor. Their manner of opting for the poor is exclusionary. For this reason John Paul II said the option for the poor is not exclusive or exclusionary, and he was referring to liberation theology.”
Bishop Livieres explained that Boff “is free to go where he pleases, I don’t agree at all with his theological opinions. He was condemned by the Holy See in 1985 and he left the Church in 1992. I would ask him not to go to the Catholic University because that is where the teaching of the Catholic Church is imparted and Boff’s teaching is not that of the Catholic Church.”
Commenting on the relationship between Lugo and Boff and the eventual application of Marxist liberation theology in Paraguay, Bishop Livieres said the two “have a relationship that goes back years. Liberation theology is an internal problem of the Church; it is not a guerrilla movement. It is a mistaken way of understanding the priesthood and all theology. Lugo has fallen into this error for many years, but it is not a political error; it is a doctrinal one,” he said.
The bishop also denied suggestions that there would be friction between the Church and the incoming government in Paraguay, as long as Fernando Lugo “does not meddle in Church affairs or the Church in State affairs.”
Rome, Italy, Jul 31, 2008 (CNA) - The Italian region of Alto Adige, where Pope Benedict XVI is spending his vacations and where a small but active German-speaking Catholic community resides, is experiencing a renewal of faith with the presence of the Holy Father in the region.
Bishop Wilhelm Egger of Bolzano-Bressanone told reporters that the enthusiasm of local residents, both German and Italian-speaking, was expressed in the large welcome the Holy Father received on Monday upon arriving in Bressanone.
In addition, he said, thousands of people in the region are requesting permission to attend the Angelus with the Holy Father on August 3 and 10—one of the few public acts the Pope will host during his vacation.
Officials said giant TV screens will be set up near the Cathedral of Bressanone to accommodate the large crowds.
The Pope’s coat-of-arms has been placed over the main entrance to the Cathedral in homage “to the numerous times Professor and Cardinal Ratzinger has prayed in this very Cathedral, celebrated Mass and proclaimed the Word of God.”
The Bressanone City Council has granted the Pontiff honorary citizenship and a small private ceremony of bestowal will be held on August 9 at the Seminary of Bressanone.
Asunción, Paraguay, Jul 31, 2008 (CNA) - Gloria Rubin, who has been tapped as Minister for Women’s Affairs by Paraguay’s President-elect and ex-bishop Fernando Lugo, said Wednesday she openly supports the legalization of abortion in the country.
In a confrontational press conference in which she responded to the rejection of her nomination by pro-life organizations, Rubin raised her voice and said, “Abortion is prohibited by law? And? Has anything been done? Has maternal or infant health improved in the country? Have there been fewer deaths because of this? These are the questions I have for pro-lifers who criticize my nomination,” she said.
Echoing the arguments of pro-abortion organizations, Rubin said, “Despite being penalized by Christian confessions and with severe penalties by the law, abortion is the greatest cause of death for women in Paraguay.”
However, official data does not show abortion as one of the ten leading causes of death for women in the country.
The Federation of Associations for Life and the Family issued a statement protesting the naming of Rubin to head the Ministry for Women’s Affairs. “We are against appointing to positions in government people who publicly campaign against life by promoting abortion methods in society,” said Celia Meyer, secretary of the Federation. “Ninety seven percent of the Paraguayan population is Christian, mostly Catholic, and ex-bishop Lugo was voted in by this majority,” she added.
According to Meyer, Lugo’s appointments are in response to directives from the UN Population Fund, the World Bank and other international organizations that work to promote abortion in order to allegedly reduce poverty.
Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2008 (CNA) - The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a resolution calling on China to end human rights abuses to ensure that the Olympic Games take place “in an atmosphere that honors the Olympic traditions of freedom and openness.”
The legislation includes two amendments asking China to release at least 734 political prisoners and to end its coercive population control policy that includes forced abortions and has helped produced a gender imbalance caused by what one lawmaker called “gendercide.”
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) , who sponsored the two amendments, said in a statement that dissidents in China are suffering “not in spite of, but precisely because of the Olympic Games.”
“In recent months, the Chinese Government has been filling its jails, watching, intimidating, house arresting and warning all known dissidents,” he claimed. “Tragically, but predictably, the Olympics have been the occasion of a massive crackdown designed to silence and put beyond reach all those Chinese whose views differ from the government line.”
Smith related that a trip he made to China in July was affected by the government crackdown when several human rights lawyers were detained by the Chinese police when they attempted to meet with him and Rep. Frank Wolf.
The New Jersey lawmaker argued that China’s coercive population control policy has imposed “unspeakable violence, pain and humiliation on hundreds of millions of Chinese women.” He noted China’s suicide rate among women is the highest in the world.
Smith said that tens of millions of girls are missing in a disparity caused by sex-selective abortions.
“The lost girls of China is gendercide,” he said, asserting that the Chinese government’s population policy constitutes “one of the greatest continuous crimes against humanity in human history.”
Emphasizing that “human rights are indivisible,” Smith noted that he and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) had presented a list of 734 political prisoners to the Chinese government and asked for their freedom.
The resolution, with both of Smith’s amendments, was passed by the House by a vote of 419 to 1.
According to the Guardian, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the U.S. government should curtail what he called "the disgusting actions of this small group of anti-Chinese lawmakers.” He argued that the lawmakers were attempting to politicize, interrupt, and sabotage the Beijing Olympics.
, Jul 31, 2008 (CNA) - A new web site produced by the Columbia/Williamette, Oregon Planned Parenthood affiliate features videos in which a middle-aged man “dressed something like Mr. Rogers” advises teens in the middle of suggested sex acts about sexually transmitted diseases. The site, which also presents songs with obscene lyrics, has been criticized for providing erroneous information, sexualizing young people, targeting very young “tweens,” and undermining the sanctity of sex.
The videos on the Columbia/Williamette Planned Parenthood’s web site “TakeCareDownThere.org,” variously show two teenage boys purportedly engaged in a deviant sex act, advise two other teens how to be tested for disease after intercourse and instruct how to use condoms. One of its videos features a song with a long list of slang terms for male and female genitalia set to music.
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, told Cybercast News Service that in one video the middle-aged man appears as a teenage boy and girl embrace and kiss.
“Guys, guys, it looks like it’s getting a little hot and heavy in here,” he says to them. “Before we take this to the next level we want to make sure that you know how to use a condom.”
Wright said that Planned Parenthood has developed a reputation for controversy with another of its websites, teenwire.com.
Marie Hahnenberg, a researcher with the American Life League, said “TakeCareDownThere.org” was another example of Planned Parenthood activities that “attempt to sexualize our young people.”
“It seems to make fun of sex, making it as some kind of game, as Planned Parenthood claims, when sex is something so sacred that it should only be between a married man and woman,” she stated.
Liz Delapoer, marketing director at the Columbia/Williamette Planned Parenthood, told Cybercast News Service that the new site was meant to be “fun” and “playful” and was designed to discuss with “the younger demographic” the topic of sexually transmitted diseases.
“We wanted to empower people to really take care of their own reproductive and sexual health,” Delapoer commented. “Through the Web site and the videos, we wanted to speak in a language that would be non-threatening to a younger demographic.
Katie Collins, a journalism scholar with the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, said the site seems to be aimed at “tweens” or even younger demographics.
“This Web site was especially repulsive to me because it appeals first to very young teenagers, and contains scientifically inaccurate information but also because it denigrates sexual intimacy,” Collins explained.
She said one skit presents the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a major cause of cervical cancer in women, as something that can be combated by regular testing.
“For men especially, regular testing does not show threat information on human papillomavirus (HPV) or herpes,” she argued.