Archive of August 2, 2008

New Zealand abortion committee rejects judge’s finding that many abortions are illegal

Wellington, New Zealand, Aug 2, 2008 (CNA) - New Zealand’s Abortion Supervisory Committee is appealing a High Court judge’s decision that said there is reason to doubt the legality of many abortions in the country.

On June 9 Justice Forrest Miller, having a completed a Judicial Review of the Abortion Supervisory Committee on the High Court in Wellington, issued a judgement finding “there is reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions authorised by certifying consultants. Indeed the Committee itself has stated that the law is being used more liberally than Parliament intended.”

“In my opinion, the statistics and the Committee’s comments over the years since the Court of Appeal made that observation do give rise to powerful misgivings about the lawfulness of many abortions,” he wrote, adding that the data tend to confirm the view that New Zealand “essentially has abortion on request.”

A registered practitioner may legally perform an abortion in New Zealand only if acting under a certificate approved by two consultants, who are appointed by the Abortion Supervisory Committee.

The Abortion Supervisory Committee is seeking to reverse Justice Miller’s judgment on several grounds in the Court of Appeals. According to a statement from Right to Life New Zealand, the committee’s appeal argues there was no evidence for doubting the lawfulness of many abortions or for its claim that the approval rate for abortions “seems remarkably high.”

The appeal also argues that the Court made a legal error in concluding that the committee can form its own opinion about the lawfulness of consultants’ decisions to grant or to refuse approval for an abortion.

Right to Life New Zealand said it is confident the Court of Appeal will uphold Justice Miller’s ruling. The organization also stated it will cross-appeal and re-present its case, previously denied in the High Court, arguing for the legal recognition of the status of the unborn child.

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Colorado Catholic Conference launches 'Get Out the Vote' campaign

Denver, Colo., Aug 2, 2008 (CNA) -

The Colorado Catholic Conference (CCC) has launched its Get Out the Vote campaign in which it uses a web site and DVDs to examine and promote “faithful citizenship,” the correct formation of conscience, and voting participation among Catholics.

Featuring reflections from all the bishops of Colorado, its web site also contains information about voter registration, bulletin announcements and inserts, testimonials from Colorado Catholics, homily notes, and live streaming of the campaign’s DVD presentation.

“We hope that Catholics around the state will recognize the moral and civic duty they have as Catholics and citizens to vote and to do so with a properly formed conscience,” a statement from the campaign said.
“If we as Catholics want to effect change in our society and culture we must vote and encourage our friends and family to do the same.”

Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput is joined on the DVD by Bishop of Colorado Springs Richard J. Sheridan and Bishop of Pueblo Arthur N. Tafoya.

“The Catholic Church certainly understands and also believes in the separation of church and state,” Archbishop Chaput says on the DVD, “but that doesn’t mean we believe in the separation of faith and politics.

“Faith is what drives the thinking of Catholics—of Christians—in terms of their relationship with God and also in terms of their relationship with their neighbor,” he explains. “Because of that our political relationships, which are about our relationship with our neighbor, are informed by our faith. So serious Catholics, whether politicians or ordinary voters, have an obligation, actually, to make sure that faith informs their political decisions and their actions.”

“We Catholics are not one issue voters, but neither do we Catholics believe that every issue is of the same moral weight or value,” says Bishop Sheridan. “All of the many issues and rights about which we are so rightfully concerned are grounded in that fundamental right, which our Declaration of Independence calls ‘unalienable,’ and that is the right to life.”

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U.S. Bishops praise passage of national housing trust fund

Washington D.C., Aug 2, 2008 (CNA) - The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) praised a bi-partisan congressional effort to create a Housing Trust Fund they say will assist the lowest income households in the U.S. by aiding the construction and preservation of affordable rental housing.

The fund was created by a provision in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on Wednesday.

A permanent program with a dedicated source of funding, at least 90 percent of the fund must be used for the production, preservation, rehabilitation or operation of rental housing. Ten percent of the fund can be used for helping first-time buyers with down payments, closing costs, and interest rate buy-downs.

Seventy-five percent of the funds must benefit extremely low income households, that is, those at or below 30 percent of area median income.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the respectively nicknamed Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Mortgage Corporation, are required to make annual contributions to the Housing Trust Fund.

The fund itself is to be administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which will make grants to states and allocate funds to qualified organizations and agencies that build and operate affordable rental housing.

Had the Housing Trust Fund been fully implemented in 2008, its financial resources would have stood at an estimated $300 million. Its present financial resources are expected to grow over time.

The U.S. Bishops have advocated the creation of the national Housing Trust Fund for more than a decade.

“The Bishops’ conference has worked for years to enact a national Housing Trust Fund because affordable housing is vitally important to the stability and sustainability of families and communities throughout the country,” commented Bishop William Murphy, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

“This new institution and resources are welcome signs that that the Administration and Congress can work together across party lines to make the housing needs of low-income families a common national priority,” he continued, speaking in a USCCB statement.

Bishop Murphy said the national effort could be a possible model for state and local efforts.

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