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Archive of August 21, 2008

Bishop of Rhode Island requests a halt on immigration raids

Providence, R.I., Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - On Tuesday, the Bishop of Providence of Rhode Island sent a letter to U.S. authorities asking them to “declare a moratorium on immigrations raids in the State of Rhode Island, until our nation can implement a comprehensive and just reform of our immigration laws.”

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence sent his requests in a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Boston (ICE).  According to the Associated Press, illegal immigration has been a hot issue in the state as authorities recently raided courthouses in search of illegal immigrant maintenance workers.

Governor of Rhode Island, Don Carcieri, also signed an order that requires its “state police and prison officials to identify illegal immigrants for possible deportation,” the AP also reports.

The letter, posted on the diocese’s site, is signed by the bishop as well as 15 priests who serve the state’s immigrant community.

The bishop begins the letter by requesting “a moratorium on immigration raids in the State of Rhode Island, until our nation can implement a comprehensive and just reform of our immigration laws.”  Once it is reviewed, “it is our hope that such reform will make immigration raids obsolete.  Until then, we believe that raids on the immigrant community are unjust, unnecessary, and counter-productive.”

“As religious leaders we understand and support the need to apprehend and arrest individuals who are responsible for felonies and other serious crimes,” the bishop notes.  However, “the arrest of serious criminals is not what we have observed in the arrest and detention of immigrants that has taken place recently in our State...”

“What we have witnessed is that the police action of ICE against immigrants has divided the community, instilled fear in our streets, disrupted the everyday life of good people and separated family members, innocent of any crime, from one another,” the letter continued.  “As religious leaders concerned for our people we would be negligent of our pastoral duties if we didn’t speak out against these unjust government policies and practices.”

The letter also calls to attention the ICE officials who participate in immigration raids.  According to the diocese, the bishop and pastors believe that “agents should not be forced to participate in such raids if agents conclude that such actions are immoral or contrary to their personal or religious beliefs.”

“…we encourage the agents and staff of ICE to evaluate the morality of their participation in immigration raids in the context of their faith and sanctity of their conscience. If their discernment leads them to the conclusion that they cannot participate in such raids in good conscience, we urge them not to do so.  If ICE agents refuse to participate in immigration raids in conformity with their faith and conscience, we urge the Federal Government to fully respect the well-founded principles of conscientious objection.”

Along with Bishop Tobin, the following priests from the Diocese of Providence signed the letter:  Rev. Alfred Almonte, St. Bartholomew, Providence; Rev. Jose Cardenas Bonilla, Blessed Sacrament, Providence; Rev. Angelo Carusi, Blessed Sacrament, Providence; Rev. Thomas Ferland, St. Michael, Providence; Rev. Robert Giardina, St. Charles Borromeo, Providence; Rev. Gerald Harbour, St. John the Baptist, Pawtucket, Rev. Bernard Healey, Diocesan Governmental Liaison; Rev. Raymond Malm, St. Joseph, Newport; Rev. Stanley Nakowicz, Our Lady of Loreto, East Providence; Rev. Robert Perron, St. Joseph & Sacred Heart, Pawtucket; Msgr. Jacques Plante, St. John & James, West Warwick; Rev. James Ruggieri, St. Patrick, Providence; Rev. Mark Sauriol, All Saints, Woonsocket; Rev. Daniel Sweet, St. Anthony, Providence; and Rev. Mario Titotto, St. Bartholomew, Providence.

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Bishops of Ecuador remain firm on position regarding new Constitution

Guayaquil, Ecuador, Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - A spokesman from the Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador said this week that the bishops will not change their position regarding the country’s new Constitution, which will be the subject of a national referendum.  They also explained that the Church is not meddling in politics but rather promoting the defense of human life.

Conference spokesman Father Nicolas Dousdebes said on Ecuadoran television that members of the clergy are not violating the agreement between the Church and the State, and he lamented that the government is “criminalizing” the opinions stated by the bishops.  “We are not forming political parties,” the priest said.

He warned that it has become “criminal” to voice one’s principles in the country, “principles that aim simply to enlighten the consciences of persons according to the faith. I’m a person governed by more profound principles rather than by superficial ones,” Father Dousdebes stated.

Several days ago the bishops reaffirmed their position that the new Constitution attacks fundamental principles of the Catholic faith.

Father Dousdebes also recalled that the Church has the competence to address issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.  “Since some of the articles touch upon moral issues, it is incumbent upon the Church to respond. If they were economic issues, we wouldn’t have anything to say.  It’s not just a choice, it’s an obligation for us to provide guiding principles,” he added.

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Honduran congress considers measure to strengthen the family

Tegucigalpa, Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Honduran Congress, Roberto Micheletti, has put forth a proposal calling for the creation of a law that would strengthen the family, in an initiative that is coinciding with the “Month of the Family” in Honduras.
 
According to the website Hondudiariohn.com, “the purpose of the law will be to promote and strengthen the development of the family as the foundation of society and the essential place for the comprehensive development of the human person, based on respect for fundamental rights and the law, with special protection for those families that are living in poverty, extreme poverty or social danger.”
 
Likewise, the measure would call for new policies and actions to provide families with assistance, especially single mother families.  City governments and private and public institutions would also be encouraged to provide counseling for families.

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Census report shows more childless women, smaller family sizes

Washington D.C., Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) -

A new Census Bureau report shows that more women in their 40s are childless, while those who are having children are having fewer than ever before. The same report, released on Monday, shows that more than 28 percent of children born in the year preceding the 2006 survey were born to mothers who had never been married.

According to the Census Bureau’s report “Fertility of American Women: 2006,” over the last 30 years the number of women aged 40 to 44 with no children has doubled from 10 percent to 20 percent. Women of that age group who are mothers have an average of 1.9 children each, more than one child fewer than women in the same age group in 1976.

The census report used data from an annual survey of 76 million women ages 15 to 50 conducted from January through December 2006, the Associated Press reports. The data allows a state-by-state comparison of fertility patterns, collating statistics which could be used by state agencies to evaluate the need for maternal care services.

About 4.2 million women participating in the survey in 2006 had had a child in the previous year.

About 35.5 percent of women who gave birth in the previous twelve months were separated, divorced, widowed, or never married, with the never married women comprising 28.4 percent of the overall total.

In 2006 women with graduate or professional degrees recorded the most births of all educational levels. While women in the labor force accounted for 57 percent of recent births, unemployed women had about twice as many children as working women. About one quarter of all women who had a child in the previous year were living below the poverty level.

The census report says second-generation Hispanic women are having fewer babies than their foreign-born grandmothers and first-generation American mothers. California, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey had a greater percentage of foreign-born women who became mothers in 2006. The Southeast and Southwest U.S. had a bigger share of women in poverty who gave birth in the previous year

Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University, said the larger number of childless women could cause demographic problems in the future.

"It means that 25 years from now, there'll be many elderly people who are childless and who may not have anybody to care for them," he said, according to LifeSiteNews.com.

Pope Benedict XVI in a 2006 message to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences commented that children are too often looked upon in terms of their economic costs and not as gifts from God. He attributed the decline in birthrates to this mentality, also blaming it for being detrimental to children already born.

"It is children and young people who are often the first to experience the consequences of this eclipse of love and hope,” the Pope said. “Often, instead of feeling loved and cherished, they appear to be merely tolerated.”

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Critics attack Obama’s ‘condescending’ remarks about Justice Clarence Thomas

Washington D.C., Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - Sen. Barack Obama’s weekend remarks demeaning the quality of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ jurisprudence and legal thought brought harsh criticism from defenders of Thomas this week.

Speaking on Saturday at a televised presidential candidates’ forum at the Saddleback Church megachurch in Lake Forest California, Obama answered church pastor Rick Warren’s request to name a Supreme Court Justice he would not have appointed.

Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, named Clarence Thomas.

"I don't think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation, setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of a lot of the Constitution," Obama explained, according to Cybercast News Service.

Rachel Brand, former assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush, called the remarks “condescending.” She noted that Thomas had been confirmed by the Senate to three positions, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which Brand called the “second-most prestigious court in the land.”

Wendy Long, a former law clerk to Thomas, said Obama’s statements were “ludicrous.”

“They reveal that Obama is ignorant of facts and history, misunderstands the Constitution, and contradicts himself in his own alleged criteria for Supreme Court nominees,” she said.

Obama supporter Douglas Kmiec, a constitutional law scholar at Pepperdine University, said he was “disappointed” Obama mentioned Thomas.

“First of all, I think Justice Clarence Thomas is one of the best appointments that have been made by Republican presidents – or any presidents, for that matter – in recent times,” Kmiec told Cybercast News Service.

Kmiec said Thomas is the only Supreme Court Justice who prior to his appointment “recognized the relationship between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution – that the Constitution is a means of indicating the inalienable rights that are traceable to our Creator.”

Obama also said he would not have appointed Justice Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts, though he said he found the latter to be a “very compelling person” in individual conversation.

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, responded to Warren’s request by saying he would not have appointed four of the Supreme Court justices considered to be most liberal: Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and David Souter.

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Bishops praise freedom, creativity, and workers’ rights in Labor Day statement

Washington D.C., Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - The U.S. Catholic bishops have issued their 2008 Labor Day statement in which they address Catholic social teaching and defend workers’ rights, calling for “renewed vigor as we seek to build together a society that cares for its own, reaches out to the poor and vulnerable, and offers true hope to all.” According to the bishops, the more we share and exercise self-control over our possession and use of earthly goods, the less need we have for regulatory laws required when “economic privateers and profit seeking pirates” take over whole areas of the economy.

Noting that the United States is blessed with freedom, energy, and creative initiative, the statement reminds Catholics that such blessings must be tempered by “a deep sense of responsibility for one another, for our planet, and for the future.”

The statement was issued by William Murphy, Bishop of Rockville Centre, New York and Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

In the statement Bishop Murphy describes his inspiration, the late “labor priest” Monsignor George Higgins. Monsignor Higgins worked for workers’ rights for more than fifty years.

Bishop Murphy said Monsignor Higgins would be concerned about “the worker, the person, and the family whose lives are affected by a host of factors.” In the bishop’s view, were he alive today the monsignor would weigh all those factors by their overall impact on human beings and would point out the lack of union representation in emerging industries and workplaces “where exploitation has been most evident.”

The monsignor would also urge that Catholic social teaching still offers “one of the best ways to assess whether the human person is the center of economic life or whether workers who are poor and marginalized are forgotten.”

The Church, Bishop Murphy explains, continues to focus on the worker as “cornerstone of Catholic teaching on economic life” adding that the Catholic community is brought together by “the challenge of overcoming poverty.”

He further writes that the ethical principles of subsidiarity and solidarity are particularly relevant to the question of globalization. When joined together, the opportunity to be creative and productive becomes harnessed to the “makers of a vibrant economy.”

“This links their work into a set of relationships bringing new opportunities to one another across political and social divisions and especially across the great divide between rich and poor,” the statement says. “Let interdependence become the ‘solidarity’ of neighbor to neighbor in such a way that the subsidiarity of free creativity builds up and offers new possibilities for all neighbors, especially the poor and the vulnerable.”

The Labor Day statement also cites the bishops’ document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” stressing the need for one to form one’s conscience rightly by basing it not on personal feelings or popularity but on the truth of the human person and human society. Candidates and issues, it says, must be examined “from the perspective of human life and dignity, the true good of society, the common good of us all in our nation and in this world.”

The Labor Day statement particularly focuses on the “Faithful Citizenship” document’s sections on economic justice, labor, and workers’ rights.

“Never forget that human life is the supreme good in this world,” Bishop Murphy closes. “Never forget that human dignity is not an expendable commodity but belongs to everyone without exception. Every day we are pro-life. Every day we are champions of human dignity. Our voices and our votes should shape society by bringing these inalienable truths into every particular proposal and program, every particular candidate’s projects and plans.”

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Six new cases for sainthood under consideration by Archdiocese of Guadalajara

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - The newspaper of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, Mexico reported this week that Auxiliary Bishop Jose Trinidad Gonzalez has confirmed that the archdiocese is studying the lives of six persons who could be added to the list of Mexican saints in the near future.
 
Bishop Gonzalez said two cases correspond to Josefa and Coleta, two young people from the town of Degollado who were captured during the Mexican revolution. Instead of giving to attacks against their purity, the two jumped into vats of boiling soap at a factory.
 
Another case is that of an anonymous young woman who was taken prisoner during the Revolution and was mutilated for refusing to have sexual relations with one of the commanders.  The commander later converted to Christianity through the intercession of the young girl.
 
The archdiocese is also studying the case of Rafael Valdez, a father of two priests who offered his life in exchange for the release of his son Angel, who was a public official in the town of Villa Guerrero, where he was captured and sentenced to death.
 
The other cases are of the founder of the City of Children, Father Roberto Cuellar, Marist Brother Basilio Rueda, and Friar Antonio Alcalde y Barriga of Guadalajara.

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Is Obama the 'man his multi-million dollar media campaign portrays him as?’

Washington D.C., Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - The recent exposure of Sen. Barack Obama’s false representation concerning his opposition to the Born Alive Infants Protection Act has focused attention upon the candidate and his positions which are well-documented in David Freddoso’s book, “The Case Against Barack Obama.”

Sen. Barack Obama had repeatedly claimed that his opposition to the Illinois version of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA) was due to its lack of legal language that would protect the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout the country.

The Illinois BAIPA bill was supported by nurse Jill Stanek, who discovered that infants who survived abortions in an Illinois hospital were being left to die of neglect in a utility closet.

Documents obtained by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) show that in 2003, as an Illinois state senator chairing the Illinois Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Obama voted to add such language to the state BAIPA bill shortly before voting to kill the bill in committee.

When challenged about the NRLC’s findings in a Christian Broadcasting Network interview on Saturday, Obama accused the organization of lying about his record.  However, his campaign later admitted that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee had misrepresented his record on this question.

In the past, Obama has accused pro-lifers of discouraging compromises that would reduce the number of partial birth abortions because, he claimed, the image of a partial birth abortion helps win converts to the pro-life cause.

According to political commentator Pat Buchanan’s August 12 column “A Catholic Case against Barack,” Sen. Obama supports the procedure of partial-birth abortion, in which the abortionist draws the baby’s body into, but not through, the birth canal and then stabs the baby’s skull with scissors. The baby’s brains are then vacuumed out so its corpse may be removed through the birth canal.

When the U.S. Congress was voting to ban the procedure, Buchanan claims, Obama’s wife Michelle was signing fundraising letters pledging that Barack would be “tireless” in keeping legal partial birth abortion, which she called a “legitimate medical procedure.”

When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal partial-birth abortion ban, Barack Obama accused the court of denying “equal rights for women.”

The candidate pledged in 2007 that as his first act as president he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which Buchanan says would “cancel every federal, state or local regulation or restriction on abortion. The National Organization for Women says it would abolish all restrictions on government funding of abortion.”

Recounting Obama’s opposition to BAIPA, Buchanan asks:

“How is it essential for the life or health of a woman that her baby, who somehow survived the horrible ordeal of abortion, be left to die or put to death? Yet, that is what Obama voted for, thrice, in the Illinois Senate.”

“Obama says he opposed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act because he feared it might imperil Roe v. Wade,” Buchanan continues. “But if Roe v. Wade did allow infanticide or murder, which is what letting a tiny baby die of neglect or killing it outright amounts to, why would he not want that court decision reviewed and amended to outlaw infanticide?”

Buchanan also cites author David Freddoso, who in his book “The Case Against Barack Obama” says “I could find no instance in his entire career in which he voted for any regulation or restriction on the practice of abortion."

Speaking in a Tuesday phone interview with Catholic News Agency, David Freddoso described his book as an attempt to start a conversation on the “middle ground” between the people who “are smearing him on the internet for supposedly being a secret Muslim or supposedly not saluting the flag,” and those who “think he’s the messiah.”

Saying he hopes to begin a discussion that is “neither obeisant nor defamatory” about Sen. Obama, Freddoso said his book is “A look at Sen. Obama’s political and adult life just to try and see if he is the man that his multi-million dollar media campaign portrays him as,” and to see if he is the “reformer and the flexible reasonable man that the mainstream media has accepted him as.”

“I think even a cursory examination of his career puts the lie to both these ideas,” Freddoso said, arguing Obama has never been a “true reformer” or an “agent of positive change” and the idea that Obama is a reformer is a “great lie.”

“His attempt to appear ideologically flexible and moderate is deceptive and untrue, and his judgment is very poor” in his choice of personal associations, Freddoso continued.

He called Obama a “rigid and doctrinaire liberal” on many issues, for Catholics in particular because of his support for partial-birth abortion.

Freddoso claimed the Freedom of Choice Act Obama pledged to support is one that “among other things, re-legalizes partial-birth abortion.”

“People tell pro-lifers a lot that when you bring this issue up, you’re being divisive, and yet here he is promising to open that can of worms as his first act of office,” he commented.

Freddoso credited the success of “The Case Against Barack Obama,” which is currently at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list, to a “hunger” for information about the candidate because they’re “not getting the real story.”

He cited people’s surprise at discovering Obama’s support for BAIPA, but also noted their surprise at learning of Obama’s hardball tactics in his first electoral victory, in which the aspirant to political office had all of his opponents thrown off the ballot in a legal challenge.

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Spanish bishops express regret over tragic plane crash in Madrid

Madrid, Spain, Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Madrid and president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, expressed the profound condolences of the country’s bishops over the air tragedy in Madrid that took the lives of 153 people on Wednesday.
 
In a press release, Cardinal Rouco and his auxiliary bishops “together with the entire diocesan community, profoundly lament the accident which took place this afternoon at the Barajas Airport, and they pray to the Lord of life for the eternal repose of the great many who died, as well as for the recovery of the wounded.”
 
“To them, and to the family members of the deceased, the bishops of Madrid express their closeness in these moments of intense suffering to comfort them in their faith and their hope,” the statement said.
 
Likewise, the bishops “ask all parishes and Christian communities of Madrid to join together in intense personal and liturgical prayer that God in his infinite mercy might receive those who died into a place of light and of peace, and grant health to the wounded and comfort with the hope of eternal life to all the family members.”
 
According to the Spanish daily El Pais, the Spanair jetliner was carrying 172 persons to the Canary Islands.  After taking off and ascending to the “point of no return,” the left engine caught fire and the plane crashed in a field nearby.  It was Spain’s worst air accident in the last 30 years.

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Pope prays for victims and families of tragic Spanair crash in Madrid.

Vatican City, Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - The Holy Father sent a telegram to Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid and President of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, in which he expressed his condolences and offered prayers of support for the victims and families of the Spanair jetliner accident which occurred yesterday at the Barajas Airport in Madrid.

The telegram, signed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, noted that Pope Benedict “offers his full support for the eternal rest of the deceased.”

The accident has reportedly taken the lives of 153 passengers, leaving another 19 injured.

“Likewise, I beg of our Lord to send the condolences of his Holiness Benedict XVI to the families of the deceased, along with his spiritual closeness and desire for a quick and full recovery of the injured in this unfortunate accident,” the telegram read.

Finally, Benedict XVI, “in these moments of sadness, gives us the comfort of his Apostolic blessing, as a sign of consolation and hope in the risen Lord.”

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Caritas Italy collecting aid for victims of conflict in Georgia

Rome, Italy, Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Italy has tasked Caritas with organizing two days of prayer and solidarity for the victims of the conflict in Georgia, particularly for the people of South Ossetia, on the Sundays of August 24 and 31.  The funds raised will be used to help with reconstruction in the country.
 
Caritas Italy has already set aside $148,000 for aid, half of which has already been sent to provide food and medical supplies.  Caritas workers in Georgia report they have had difficulties bring aid to those affected by the ongoing conflict.
 
According to the L’Osservatore Romano, the director of Caritas Georgia, Father Witold Szulczynski, is seeking to increase the aid being distributed in South Ossetia, where some 800,000 are receiving assistance.
 
He told LOR that young people in the area are providing much needed assistance in distributing aid.

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WYD Sydney's success is principally religious, says Cardinal Pell

Rome, Italy, Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - One month after the end of World Youth Day in Australia, the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell underscored that the success of the event is not only related to the numbers of those who attended, but above all to the spiritual and religious fruits that were achieved.
 
In an interview with the L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal explained, “We cannot be certain about how the divine economy operates, but the response to the Via Crucis showed the spiritual power of Christ our Lord and his redemptive history.”
 
Cardinal Pell expressed thanks for the economic support given to WYD and for the numerous initiatives aimed at welcoming young people from all over the world to Australia, including young people who traveled to WYD for the first time from countries such as Papua New Guinea.
 
After noting that a recent poll showed that 80% of the inhabitants of Sydney said they were happy to see so many young Catholics in their city, the cardinal praised the Australian media’s positive coverage of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.  The Pontiff, he said, conveys a “tranquil nature that reveals a good and gentle man, at peace with himself and with the world around him.”
 
“People said they had the feeling he was taking to them personally.  Benedict XVI was happy and thankful for the official and public cordiality that was shown to him, and he was perhaps a bit surprised at the depth of faith he found,” the cardinal added.
 
He said that he used important ornaments during WYD, such as the pectoral cross of the first Archbishop of Sydney, “the English Benedictine John Bede Polding, and the staff of the first Australian cardinal, Francis Patrick Moran, of Irish origin,” as a way of “keeping the heritage of our Church’s faith alive.”
 
Cardinal Pell wished success upon the Spaniards who will be hosting the next WYD.  “The faith of the Church in Australia has been strengthened by WYD and I am sure the same thing will take place in Spain.”

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Australian woman dies from taking ‘the Pill’

Melbourne, Australia, Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - The death of an Australian woman is being blamed on her use of oral contraceptives, which were recommended as part of her acne treatment.

Adelaide Now reports that the 24-year old woman, Tanya Hayes died earlier this week from a pulmonary embolism, blood clotting in her lungs.

Hayes had been taking Yasmin for four months, an oral contraceptive recommended for patients using the acne medication, Accutane.

After having ignored the contraceptive’s symptoms, including “breathlessness” and “a nasty, hard cough,” she collapsed outside of a Ferntree Gully restaurant and was rushed to Angliss Hospital where she died five hours later.

Associate Professor Graeme Thomson, Angliss Hospital’s director of emergency medicine, explained to Adelaide Now that Tanya's death was "caused by blood clotting caused by factors related to taking the oral contraceptive pill.”

The fine print in the packaging of Yasmin states that “breathlessness” is a “very rare…very serious side effect.”

Hayes mother, Genevieve noted, "If we had read the Pill's directions more carefully . . . maybe we would still have Tanya here.”

"My daughter wasn't a vain person, but she'd had acne for 13 years and just wanted to clear it up."

Oral contraception was recommended to Hayes in addition to her acne medication.  According to Dr. Stephen Shumack, secretary of the Australian College of Dermatologists, women on Accutane have an “extremely high risk of having a baby that is severely deformed" if they become pregnant.

Fox News is also reporting that Bayer, the manufacturer of Yasmin, said Hayes' death was being "investigated as a priority.”

 

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Bishop of Beijing says Chinese Catholics ‘strongly hope’ for papal visit

Beijing, China, Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - Joseph Li Shan, Bishop of Beijing, speaking in a Wednesday interview with an Italian television station, said China’s relations with the Vatican were improving and expressed hopes that Pope Benedict XVI could visit China. In response, the Vatican said the invitation was “very positive and encouraging,” but also “premature for now.”

 “We very much hope that the Pope will come to China,” Bishop Li told the Italian state television organization RAI. “It's a great aspiration, and we hope it will materialize. Relations with the Vatican are constantly improving.”

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that talk about a papal trip to China was “premature for now,” but Bishop Li’s invitation shows “all Chinese Catholics love and respect the Pope and recognize his authority,” the Times reports.

Father Lombardi said there were “still many unresolved problems” in China-Vatican relations.

A spokesman for the state-recognized Catholic Church in China responded to the invitation by commenting to Agence France Presse, “We hope he can visit China as soon as possible. That would be good for the Chinese Catholic Church. However, the first step is to establish diplomatic relations.”

China has demanded that the Vatican end its official relationship with Taiwan before establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing, which broke off in 1951 after the communist takeover.

Further, controversy continues about the Chinese government’s control of the state-recognized Catholic Church. Though the government controls the appointment of bishops to the official church, many new bishops, including Bishop Li, have been consecrated with Vatican approval.

According to the Associated Press, Bishop Li is well-regarded at the Vatican and his installation was seen as a positive sign in relations between China and the Holy See.

The Catholic Church was banned in China through most of the 1960s and 1970s, when all religion was outlawed. At present there are an estimated 12 to 15 million Catholics, many of whom worship outside of the state-approved church and are often arrested or harassed.

In his remarks to RAI, Bishop Li denied there was an underground Church, saying, “the problem of clandestine Catholics does not exist.”

Pope Benedict has made the improvement of relations with China a priority of his papacy. Last year the Pope sent a special letter to Catholics in China, in which he insisted there is only one Church in the country.

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Infants’ organs removed before meeting criteria for brain death

, Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - A new report reveals that doctors in Colorado removed dying infants’ hearts from their bodies just minutes after the hearts stopped beating so the organs could be transplanted. While the doctors, who carried out the procedures with familial consent, argue that the legal and ethical definition of death is flawed, the infants did not meet criteria for brain death. One critic claimed it is an “open-and-shut case” to decide that the doctors violated medical ethics.

In typical practice, organs have been removed only after doctors determine that a donor’s brain has completely stopped working.

The Denver cases, detailed in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), were examples of a procedure called donation after cardiac death, the Associated Press says.

All three infants were on life support after suffering brain damage from lack of oxygen when they were born. They reportedly showed little brain function, but they did not meet the criteria for brain death.

Having obtained the families’ consent, medical staff removed the newborns from ventilators and surgeons removed their hearts for transplant soon after they stopped beating.

One surgery took place in 2004 while two took place in 2007. The infants were on average about four days old when taken off life support.

In two of the cases, doctors waited only 75 seconds after the infants’ heartbeats stopped. The authors of the NEJM study said the period of 75 seconds was chosen because there had been no known cases of hearts restarting after 60 seconds.

Other surgeons in organ donation surgeries wait two minutes after the donor’s heart stops, while the Institute of Medicine has suggested five minutes.

The infants’ hearts were donated to three babies born with heart defects or heart disease. All three recipients survived and their conditions were indistinguishable from 17 other pediatric heart transplants done at the same time using hearts from donors who were declared brain dead.

"It seemed like there was an unmet need in two situations," said Dr. Mark Boucek, who led the study at Children's Hospital in Denver. "Recipients were dying while awaiting donor organs. And we had children dying whose family wanted to donate, and we weren't able to do it."

State laws require that an organ donor must be declared dead before organ donation, based either upon irreversible, total loss of brain function or heart function.

Critics of the study say the Denver cases violate the requirements because it was possible for doctors to restart the transplanted hearts in the organ recipients’ bodies.

"In my opinion, it's an open-and-shut case. They don't have irreversibility, and they don't have death," said Robert Veatch, a professor of medical ethics at Georgetown University.

Drs. Robert D. Truog and Franklin G. Miller, writing recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, questioned the idea of cardiac death and brain death as the standard of ethical organ donation, writing “although it may be perfectly ethical to remove vital organs for transplantation from patients who satisfy the diagnostic criteria of brain death, the reason it is ethical cannot be that we are convinced they are really dead.”

Most moral ethicists, agreeing with the generally accepted Catholic view, consider the death of the donor as the event making it ethical to remove vital organs for transplant. They argue that removing vital organs from a living donor would constitute actively killing a person

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Advocacy group seeks injunction against Federal Election Commission for its new Obama ad

Terre Haute, Ind., Aug 21, 2008 (CNA) - The advocacy group, The Real Truth About Obama, Inc., filed a motion to seek an injunction against the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice to permit the broadcast of a new ad accusing Barack Obama of lying about his voting record on abortion.

 

The Real Truth About Obama, Inc. (RTAO), is an issue advocacy 527 group created to inform the American people the real truth about Senator Obama’s public policy positions.

 

RTAO’s first project exposes Obama’s radical pro-abortion views and voting record. According to the group’s press release, “RTAO does not make ‘express advocacy’ communications, but rather only does issue advocacy. The Supreme Court has stated that such issue advocacy is constitutionally protected as it ‘conveys information and educates.  An issue ad's impact on an election, if it exists at all, will come only after the voters hear the information and choose--uninvited by the ad--to factor it into their voting decisions.’ Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. v. Federal Election Commission (WRTL II).”

 

However, RTAO still is concerned that if it broadcasts its new advertisement, “it will be subject to an enforcement action by the FEC and DOJ for violating campaign finance laws.”

 

RTAO first filed suit against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) three weeks ago challenging FEC regulations and an FEC enforcement policy that unconstitutionally restrict RTAO’s ability to engage in issue advocacy.

 

First, RTAO challenges the FEC’s flawed alternative definition of express advocacy, which has been used in the past by the FEC to prohibit groups from participating in protected issue advocacy.

 

RTAO also challenges the FEC’s regulation dealing with solicitation of donations, the FEC’s enforcement policy which requires issue advocacy groups to register as political committees, and finally, the FEC’s rule which limits the corporate prohibition on “electioneering communications.”

 

 “It’s unfortunate that before an organization can exercise its First Amendment right to speak out on an issue it must first seek an injunction in federal court,” states James Bopp, Jr., lead attorney for The Real Truth About Obama. “Something must change. I’m hopeful that as a result of this case, and others like it, we can push back overreaching campaign finance laws and restore to the people the right to speak out on political issues.”

 

Also in the press release was the text of RTAO’s latest ad titled “Survivors:”

 

NURSE: The abortion was supposed to kill him, but he was born alive.  I couldn’t bear to follow hospital policy and leave him on a cold counter to die, so I held and rocked him for 45 minutes until he took his last breath.

 

MALE VOICE: As an Illinois Democratic State Senator, Barack Obama voted three times to deny lifesaving medical treatment to living, breathing babies who survive abortions.  For four years, Obama has tried to cover-up his horrendous votes by saying the bills didn’t have clarifying language he favored. Obama has been lying.  Illinois documents from the very committee Obama chaired show he voted against a bill that did contain the clarifying language he says he favors.  

 

Obama’s callousness in denying lifesaving treatment to tiny babies who survive abortions reveals a lack of character and compassion that should give everyone pause. 

 

Paid for by The Real Truth About Obama, Inc. 

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