Archive of September 17, 2008

Abortion survivor Gianna Jessen asks Obama to protect the unborn in new ad

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2008 (CNA) - Abortion survivor Gianna Jessen is featured in a new advertisement questioning Obama’s repeated opposition to legislation that would have protected infants who survive abortions. “If Barack Obama had his way, I wouldn’t be here,” she charges.

As an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama opposed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act in three separate attempts to pass it. In 2002, identical federal legislation passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 98-0.

The Illinois legislature did not pass a state version of BAIPA until 2005, after Obama had left that legislative body.

The new advertisement, from the 527 organization, shows abortion survivor Gianna Jessen asking:

“Can you imagine not giving babies their basic human rights, no matter how they entered our world? My name is Gianna Jessen, born 31 years ago after a failed abortion. I’m a survivor, as are many others…but if Barack Obama had his way, I wouldn’t be here. Four times, Barack Obama voted to oppose a law to protect babies left to die after a failed abortion. Senator Obama, please support born alive infant protections. I’m living proof these babies have a right to live.”

Jessen was the victim of an attempted saline solution abortion which was performed on her then-17-year-old mother in the third trimester of her gestation. The saline solution burned Jessen’s body for eighteen hours until she was delivered at a Los Angeles County abortion clinic at a weight of 2 lbs.

Her cerebral palsy resulted from the attempted saline solution abortion. Though doctors did not expect her ever to be able to hold up her head, sit up, crawl, or walk, she began to walk by the age of three.

Jessen, who was later adopted, now walks with a slight limp and runs marathons.

In remarks published in a press release, Jessen explained the reasons for her participation in the ad campaign:

“I want people to understand that there are babies born from failed abortions. No matter how they came to us, these babies are living and breathing human beings and deserve the same protections as the rest of us.

“Unfortunately, Barack Obama voted four times against affording these babies their most basic human right. I don’t trust Senator Obama on this issue given he voted against these protections four times as a state Senator. Just as abuse victims or rape victims share their stories to educate the public, fight for the common good and hope that as a result politicians do what’s right, I felt it was important to come forward and give these newborn babies a voice.”

According to the website of, the advertisement is now airing in Ohio and New Mexico. The advertisement is also available at

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U.S. bishops praise proposed conscience protections for pro-life medical workers

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2008 (CNA) - The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaking in public comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has praised proposed regulations protecting the conscience rights of health care professionals and institutions. Charging that some organizations are showing “undisguised hostility” to the rights of conscience, the USCCB encouraged the government to proceed with the proposals.

The regulations are based on existing federal statutes, some of which were enacted decades ago.

“We strongly commend the Secretary for publishing these proposed regulations,” the USCCB wrote. “For over three decades… Congress has sought to ensure that health care institutions and professionals will not have to choose between abandoning medicine and violating their conscience.”

The bishops’ conference said such regulations were especially needed in light of state and local government pressure on health care professionals and institutions to perform abortions, as well as “growing hostility on the part of some professional organizations and advocacy groups to rights of conscience in health care.”

The USCCB’s September 12 letter cited several such incidents of advocate groups’ pressure, characterizing them as showing “undisguised hostility to conscience rights.”

According to the USCCB letter, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in a November 2007 opinion, asserted that it is unethical for obstetricians and gynecologists to decline to provide or refer patients for abortion or sterilization. In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union has developed a bill that would require all hospitals to perform abortions, arguing the law “should not permit an institution’s religious strictures to interfere with the public’s access to reproductive health care.”

The group Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health claims that the right of a patient to “timely and comprehensive reproductive healthcare” must “always prevail” over a health care provider’s rights of conscience, while NARAL Pro-Choice America claims such conscience protections are “dangerous for women’s health.”

Citing the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the USCCB letter said that unjust laws pose “dramatic problems of conscience for morally upright people” and that when they are required to cooperate in morally evil acts they must refuse.

Such a moral duty, the pontifical council asserted, is a “basic civil right” that civil law is obligated to protect and recognize.

Asking the HHS to make conscience protection regulations as robust as possible, the USCCB suggested that the definition of abortion include “any drug, procedure, or other act that the objector reasonably believes may take the life of a human being in utero at any time between conception (fertilization) and natural birth.”

The bishops’ letter also suggested several technical changes to the proposal.

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Evolutionary theory ‘not incompatible’ with Catholicism, Vatican official says

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture has said that evolutionary theory is “not incompatible” with the teachings of the Catholic Church, insisting that the theory of biological change over time was never condemned by the Church.

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi made such remarks while presenting the new interdisciplinary conference to mark the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species. The conference, which is a Vatican initiative to promote dialogue between scientists and theologians, is scheduled to take place in Rome in March 2009.

“Evolutionary theory is not incompatible a priori with the teaching of the Catholic Church, with the message of the Bible and theology, and in actual fact it was never condemned,” Archbishop Ravasi said.

He said the theologians, philosophers and scientists are attending the conference not necessarily for the purpose of coming to an agreement, but rather hoping to confirm “the possibility of dialogue and a common desire to interpret reality, albeit from different points of view.”

The prelate remarked that adversarial interpretations of the interaction of religion and science should be avoided, saying:

“We should stop thinking of history as a court of law that is continuously in session but rather concentrate on establishing franker and more efficient dialogue between two points of view that look at the same reality - that of man and his world”

While the Catholic Church has said Darwin’s theory of natural selection is the most probable cause of biological development, Catholic teaching has also emphasized God’s role in creation.

According to ANSA news agency, last September Pope Benedict XVI issued a strong criticism of interpretations of evolutionary theory which hold that the universe is “the random result of evolution and therefore, at bottom, something unreasonable.”

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Behind the anti-Christian violence in India

New Dehli, India, Sep 17, 2008 (CNA) - When they came for Narmada Digal, she wasn’t there. She had fled, five children and mother-in-law in tow, to the safety of the jungles. So, they set about what she left behind. A framed picture of Jesus, a Bible in Oriya, utensils in the kitchen and some clothes. By the time Narmada tiptoed back, her home was gone. What was left was still hot from the ashes, and smoking. Narmada took a good look, stood erect, and pulled her sari over her head. She began to pray.


“Lord, forgive us our sins. Save us from our misfortune. Free us, Lord.” She is weeping as she pleads for deliverance. So is everybody else. “I will die. But I won’t stop being a Christian,” Narmada says.


This is in the heart of Kandhamal, a district at the geographical center of Orissa, ravaged by probably the worst fighting in India between Hindus and Christians. The rise in the number of Christians in Kandhamal is offering radical Hindu outfits like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) the perfect alibi to launch an aggressive anti- Christian movement. The movement has two aims: to reconvert Christians to Hinduism, and to stop the alleged slaughter of cows.


The death of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati


An 81-year-old Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist, Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati, was heading the VHP movement in Kandhamal.  On August 23, Saraswati was gunned down while celebrating Janmashtami. It was the tenth attempt at killing Saraswati, a figure disliked by the Christians, but revered by a band of fanatic Hindu male followers.


RSS is an 83-year-old socio-political organization, which is the fountainhead of many Hindu outfits in India.


Few know who killed Saraswati. But, there are some theories. The Orissa Government says the Maoists killed him. A second theory is coming from the VHP. After Saraswati’s murder, VHP International President Ashok Singhal issued a statement saying, “Once again the cruel face of the Christian missionaries has been exposed. Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati was working for 45 years among the tribals by building hospitals, schools and hostels . . . Because of his work, the tribals were awakened to our culture and religion, which was an obstacle only for the Christian missionaries.”


Christian bodies, on the other hand, have a third view. They say they have nothing to do with Saraswati’s murder and have sought an inquiry by the Central Government.


Whatever the truth, the murder inflamed passions. By August 25, hordes of Hindu militants were attacking Christian homes and places of worship in Kandhamal. On September 1, the Orissa Government told the story in figures: 16 persons killed, 35 injured, 185 arrested; 558 houses and 17 places of worship burnt; 12,539 fed in 10 relief camps; 12 companies of paramilitary forces, 24 platoons of the Orissa State Armed Police, two sections of the Armed Police Reserve Force, and two teams of the Special Operation Group deployed.


The human story is worse. VHP International General Secretary Praveen Togadia said a Christian sect had killed Saraswati. It was enough to trigger murderous assaults on Christians in Kandhamal and elsewhere in Orissa. Hundreds of Christian homes were set ablaze, a few pastors were slain, and warnings were issued asking them to return home as Hindus, or never.


Christianity in Kandhamal


Today, there are around 1,500 churches and congregations in the 2,515 villages of Kandhamal. The Catholic Church has a big presence. And among the Protestants, the most active denominations are the Baptists, the Pentecostals, the Church of North India, and the Church of South India.


To a man like Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati, the rise of the Church would’ve been an insult. Sometime in the 1960s, the RSS leadership summoned Saraswati. The RSS had begun to implement its plan of working in the most backward areas of India, unlike the Marxists who had begun to work in the industrial townships. The then RSS Orissa head Bhupendra Kumar Basu chose Kandhamal for Saraswati.


In December 2007, major clashes erupted between Hindus and the Christians when Saraswati ordered his followers to demolish an arch that the Christians had erected on government land in front of a church. The Christians said it was for Christmas and they would take the arch down in a day or two. Saraswati didn’t wait. After his men pulled the arch down, Saraswati drove down to see it.


Some Christians in the village stopped Saraswati’s car and pulled him out. Stones were also pelted at him. One of Saraswati’s assistants called friends in the VHP and told them “Babaji ko maar diya (they’ve got Babaji).” Saraswati’s men set upon the Christians on a scale similar to that of the current attacks.


After the December riots, Saraswati gave an interview, probably his last, to the RSS publication Organiser. He said, “With their numbers increasing, Christians forcefully took away Hindu girls and forced the neo-converts to eat beef.” He called for a constitutional ban on conversion of Hindus to “Abrahamic faiths” and warned that “Christians in India must understand fast that they cannot be protected by the US State Department writing its annual vituperative anti- Hindu reports on religious freedom and human rights.” He added: “Christians can be protected only by the goodwill of the majority Hindus in whose midst they have to live.” These thoughts Saraswati drilled into the Kandha tribals.


RSS war council


The tribals of Orissa are a tough people. They gave Ashoka the Great the fight of his life. Ashoka invaded Kalinga in 261BC. There was no king to oppose him, but the tribals fought against him. Ashoka won the Kalinga War, but 110,000 people died in battle. Ashoka never fought again and took to Buddhism.


It is this lineage that Rupesh Kanhar, 19, comes from. Rupesh and his friends are part of an RSS war council meeting on August 28 in the jungles near Gopingiya village. There are 15 people in the meeting who are working out plans to attack Christians. The meeting concludes that they will not kill Christians, but scare them into leaving Kandhamal.


Rupesh recites the RSS prayer fluently. He hasn’t killed a Christian, but he has burned some houses down. In a few hours, Rupesh and his friends will prepare to attack. Some of them would have downed plenty of liquor by then. The group will assemble at 9 pm, about 200 of them. They will have axes, swords and machetes and torches. They will tie red threads around their wrists, so tight in some cases that they leave red marks on the skin, and they will anoint each other’s foreheads with vermillion.


Rupesh and his group will march until past midnight, scaring Christians and sending them rushing into the jungles at night. It’s a daily routine in Kandhamal, the Hindu militants shouting slogans and conducting torchlight marches.


A conversion to Christ


But introspection respects no ideology. Even the best efforts of the RSS and the VHP can’t stop a change of heart. Vijay Pradhan, 35, is hiding in Raikia. For eight years, Vijay Pradhan says, he was an active RSS worker. He worked with Saraswati and conducted several reconversions. “I taught people what I was taught. That I must serve the country by fighting the Muslim and Christian religions, which are foreign to us. Our culture had to be saved. Then, one day a young pastor told me about Jesus. I was surprised at his courage in accosting me, but I was curious. This man told me that I could have eternal life with Jesus,” says Pradhan.


The one-time RSS worker says he was confused after this encounter. “I began searching for Jesus because I was intrigued by what I was told about him. On January 26, 1994, I challenged the creator. I said whoever you are, I need to know you by name. I threatened that I would turn atheist if the Creator didn’t show himself. I couldn’t sleep at night. At 4.30 am, as I was getting ready for yoga, I saw a human-like figure. There was plenty of light. A voice said, ‘I am the one you are looking for,’” says Pradhan.


He says his thought process changed after this. He began spreading the gospel and going to church. “The RSS workers came to me and asked me why I had converted. They asked me how much money I was given. I used to ask people the same things. But I wasn’t paid. The RSS searched for me. I had to hide in the jungles. As long as there is trouble, I will hide,” he says.


Pradhan says only those who are called by Jesus are the true converts. “Only the attraction of God can make them that. Hindus become Christians, they are never made into Christians. The reconversions by the VHP and the RSS are false. They are conducting a political war in the name of God.”


Christian defense


On the night of September 1, there were two meetings in the Raikia relief camp. The Inspector General of Police chaired a peace meeting with 21 officials and several Christian seniors. Then, a group of young Christian men met separately. They declared pride in two villages of Raikia: Gundhani and Gamandi. Christians mainly populate these villages. Yet, they have been untouched so far. Apparently, because the Christians there have put together a few home made bombs and repulsed at least one attack by Hindu militants.


The young men said these villages were the pride of Christians and that they had shown the way. They said they needed to arm themselves so that they could fight the Hindu militants. Some pastors objected. They said Christianity doesn’t teach violence. They are not sure if they were heard.


Printed with permission from Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 36, Dated Sept 13, 2008   

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Judge in Argentina rules rape victim does not have to undergo abortion

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 17, 2008 (CNA) - After weeks of investigation, a family court judge in the Argentinean province of Mendoza blocked a request by a woman that her 12 year-old daughter, who became pregnant through rape, be forced to undergo an abortion.  The girl had expressed her desire to keep the baby and doctors testified an abortion would have carried serious medical and psychological risks.

Judge German Ferrer told reporters the abortion would not be going forward and announced measures to protect the girl and her baby.  “The fetus a developing person,” he said.  The girl was raped by her step-father, who is now in police custody.

Ferrer said guardianship of the girl would be granted to her grandmother, who did not want her to undergo an abortion either.

He ordered local officials to ensure the girl would be able to continue her education during her pregnancy, and he asked the Ministry of Social Development, which is providing her housing, to also provide her with psychiatric and psychological care both during and after the pregnancy.

He also ordered she be provided a subsidy to help with grocery and other expenses for her and the baby.

The girl’s mother had made the request for an abortion at the end of August, alleging she was experiencing mental problems.

Judge Ferrer ruled that “after analyzing the entire situation, it was clear that” an abortion “could have induced a severe personality disorder, due to irreversible psychiatric pathologies such as psychosis.”

He said he had been given detailed reports from medical experts that showed the girl would not suffer any physical or psychiatric risk by continuing with the pregnancy.

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Lourdes is a place to encounter God's healing love, Pope remarks

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2008 (CNA) - As is traditional at the general audience following a papal visit, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated today's audience to commenting on his trip to France for the 150th anniversary of the Marian Apparitions in Lourdes. He asked his audience to praise the Lord, for "Mary, appearing to St. Bernadette, opened a privileged place to encounter the divine love which heals and saves."

Pope Benedict began his speech by thanking the archbishop of Paris and the bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes for guaranteeing the success of the trip. The Pontiff also offered his gratitude to the President of the French Republic for his hospitality.

He proceeded, then, to recall Paris, where his trip began. There, "a healthy distinction" between the political and religious spheres matured according to Jesus' words: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." "A true separation between church and state does not leave out the spiritual dimension," the Holy Father explained, "but acknowledges that the latter is, in a radical way, a guarantee of our
freedom and autonomy in earthly matters."

Pope Benedict then recounted his meeting with the world of culture, during which he addressed the theme: "The origins of Western theology and the roots of European culture."

The roots of Europe’s culture grew out of a time of crisis in ancient civilization, Benedict XVI reminded. In the midst of this crisis, monks, oriented by the light of faith, chose "the way of listening to the Word of God." …“In seeking God Who revealed Himself to us in Sacred Scripture, an important role was played by the physical sciences, which seek to investigate the secrets of language. Consequently, what developed in monasteries was the 'eruditio' which facilitated the formation of culture. Precisely for this reason 'quaerere Deum' - seeking God - is today, as it was yesterday, the foundation of all true culture," he said.

Artistic expression and architecture, including Paris' cathedral of Notre Dame, are the result of the search for God, and it was in this cathedral that the Pope addressed priests, deacons, religious and seminarians. He exhorted them to give priority to listening to the Divine Word, "looking to the Virgin Mary as the sublime example."

The Pope then turned to his greeting of the numerous and enthusiastic young people in the cathedral square, where he entrusted two treasures of the Christian faith to them: the Holy Spirit and the Cross. The Holy Spirit makes human intelligence "comprehend the beauty and truth of the love of God revealed on the Cross," he said.

The Holy Father recounted that after a brief stop at the Institut de France, of which he is a member, he celebrated Holy Mass on the Esplanade des Invalides. Like Paul addressing the Corinthians, he invited the faithful of Paris and all of France to search for the living God, who shows "his true face in Jesus present in the Eucharist."

Next, Pope Benedict spoke about his visit to Lourdes, where on Saturday evening he participated in the traditional torchlight procession, an event he called "a stupendous expression of faith in God and of devotion to his and our Mother."

On Sunday, when he celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Pope Benedict delivered a homily in which he spoke of Mary’s appearance to Bernadette in the grotto of Massabielle. Mary's first gesture, he noted, was the Sign of the Cross, "a first initiation in the essence of Christianity." "The entire message of Lourdes is contained in that gesture of Our Lady," he highlighted.

The Cross, the Pope added, "reminds us that true love without suffering does not exist."

Later, there was his meeting with the French episcopate and the Eucharistic procession with thousands of faithful, including many sick people. Reflecting on the procession, the Holy Father remarked, "The silence of these thousands of people before the Lord was moving." He described the silence as "not empty, but full of prayer and awareness of the presence of the Lord."

Pope Benedict noted Monday, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, was dedicated in a special way to the sick. He briefly visited the hospital chapel where Bernadette made her First Holy Communion and then, celebrated Holy Mass in the square in front of the Basilica of the Rosary, during which he anointed the sick.

The Pope concluded his reflections on the trip by stating, "In Lourdes, the Virgin Mary's smile invites us to go forward with great trust in the knowledge that God is good, God is love."

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Archbishop Chaput asks politicians, what about comprehensive immigration reform?

Denver, Colo., Sep 17, 2008 (CNA) - What happened immigration reform as an issue in the 2008 presidential election? That’s exactly what Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver is asking in his weekly column in the Denver Catholic Register, as he calls for an end to raids by customs agents and pushes for comprehensive reform. 

“Here’s the surest sign of an election year: Certain hot potato issues—the kind that nobody in either major party really wants to deal with in a tight race—mysteriously disappear,” writes the archbishop.

Archbishop Chaput notes that political calculations seem to be the culprit, saying, “Little more than a year ago, immigration reform drove a ferocious debate throughout the country. But in 2008, candidates know that if they seem too tough on immigration, they’ll lose the vital Latino vote. If they seem too soft, they’ll anger many non-Latinos worried about their jobs, national security and the solvency of their public institutions.”

The result of all this political maneuvering has been a kind of “unstated truce,” in which many candidates and public officials are offering “generic concern about the immigration issue, but few actually doing anything until after the election,” the Denver prelate writes.

Lest people raise an outcry that the archbishop is against the law of the land, he pointed out that “the Catholic Church respects and obeys our immigration authorities and discourages anyone from violating our laws.”

“It’s also true, however, that most undocumented immigrants in the United States are here filling jobs that Americans don’t want but upon which our economy depends. They live peaceful and productive lives, and many have children who are now American citizens. They deserve to be treated with the respect commensurate to their human dignity,” he says.

This is not the first time that a Catholic bishop has spoken out in favor of reforming the immigration system. Just last week, Bishop of Salt Lake City, John Wester, speaking on behalf of the rest of the U.S. bishops, called for an end to the raids being conducted on illegal immigrants. Bishop Wester, emphasized that the bishops did not question the right of the government to enforce immigration laws, but questioned whether worksite raids are effective and “most importantly, humane.”

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island also spoke out against raids in his state last month, calling them “unjust, unnecessary, and counter-productive.” 

Archbishop Chaput agrees: “Immigration enforcement raids demonstrate politically the ability of the government to enforce the law. They do little, however, to solve the broader challenge of illegal immigration. They also reveal, sadly, the failure of a seriously flawed immigration system, which, as we have consistently stated, requires comprehensive reform.”

“Whoever takes power in Washington, the archbishop writes, this November needs to face the fact of a broken immigration system and the intense frustration and family suffering it continues to cause.”

The archbishop closes his column by reiterating that, “We need comprehensive immigration reform. But until that happens, we can at least end the use of worksite enforcement raids and the human turmoil they create.”

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Community of Madrid: government 'supports abortion on demand and euthanasia'

Madrid, Spain, Sep 17, 2008 (CNA/Europa Press) - The vice president of the Community of Madrid, Ignacio Gonzalez, said this week that the country’s national government “is in favor of abortion on demand and euthanasia, even though it pretends to hide its position from Spaniards.” Gonzalez also accused President Jose Luis Zapatero of creating a false debate over the urgency of legal guarantees in an attempt “to hide what is behind certain court rulings.”

In statements to the Circulo de Telemadrid reprinted by Europa Press, Gonzalez said the government’s proposed reform of the law on abortion was “surprising” as there was not public outcry for such a move “until it was shown that there had been a fraudulent application of the law in abortion clinics, where the procedure was being performed in cases not contemplated by the law.”

Gonzalez also accused the government of “deceiving citizens” regarding its proposal on euthanasia, which it described as assisted suicide.  He called on Zapatero to admit that the government “is in favor of someone unilaterally deciding to end his or her life.”

Gonzalez pointed to the existence of palliative care and pain management units “that help everyone experience death with dignity.” At the same time he singled out a group of doctors at the Severo Ochoa Hospital in Leganes for malpractice, alleging that they improperly administered sedatives to patients.

He also accused the Spanish socialist party of diverting attention away from the issue by claiming the doctors had been professionally mistreated, when in reality they have continued in their practice with impunity and are hiding the fact that they support euthanasia.

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Ecuadoran bishops demand Correa respect opinion of bishops and priests

Quito, Ecuador, Sep 17, 2008 (CNA) - The adjunct Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador, Father Nicolas Dousdebes, has sent a letter to President Rafael Correa asking him to respect the opinions of bishops and priests even though he may not agree with them.


In the letter, Father Dousdebes called on the president to remember that priests are included in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which says that “all people have the right to express their opinion on whatever issue they wish through any means.” “Please don’t exclude us from that,” he wrote.


“Christians should love peace but without renouncing the defense of the values of the Gospel and teachings of the Church,” he said. Acting this way, Dousdebes said, is “just like any other voice in a democratic society and should be respected and listened to.”


Father Dousdebes lamented that bishops and priests have become the targets of “insulting epithets,” “for the sole ‘crime’ of expressing their disagreement with some parts of the new constitution that are ambiguous and could be interpreted as favoring abortion, putting homosexual unions on par with marriage, and stifling parents’ rights to educate their children.”


The bishops’ spokesman reminded President Correa that priests are not “ghosts dressed in black, freaks or perverse liars like your expensive ad campaign states, but rather citizens who, like you, serve the people, sometimes without recognition or reward.  We don’t receive any kind of salary from the state, and therefore we have the freedom to say that we do not agree with everything the government says, as if it were the sole voice of truth, especially in matters of morality and life,” he said.

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Young people need hope and wisdom of the elderly, says Argentinean cardinal

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 17, 2008 (CNA) - During a Mass for the elderly at the archdiocesan cathedral, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires said old age should be “a blessing” for others and that senior citizens should respond to young people’s thirst for hope with “silence, counsel and above all blessing.”

During the Mass, Cardinal Bergolgio reminded the elderly, “You have a mission to enlighten the path of others who are immersed in violence, hatred and envy.”  “The elderly are like good wine, because their hearts have been matured by wisdom.”

He noted that young people are thirsty for models of hope and the elderly “can satiate that thirst with silence, counsel and above all with blessing.  You have an immense responsibility in society, to give wisdom to our society that needs it so much.”

The cardinal thanked senior citizens for all they do for their country “as daily heroes,” and for their “testimony of desiring to continue living, despite sometimes suffering from poor care and slim pensions.”

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Google agrees to allow religious pro-life ads following legal action

London, England, Sep 17, 2008 (CNA) - The internet search engine company Google has settled a lawsuit filed by the UK-based Christian Institute out of court after the company refused its draft advertisement concerning abortion law. The amicable settlement includes a policy change to permit religious groups to purchase Google advertisements for factual campaigns against abortion.

The legal action began in April after Google refused an ad which read:

“UK abortion law: Key views and news on abortion law from The Christian Institute.”

The non-denominational Christian group was trying to publicize its articles against abortion before a controversial vote in the House of Commons that could have placed restrictions on abortion. Google policy at the time prohibited advertisements which mixed “abortion and religion-related content.”

According to the Daily Mail, the institute has the support of former Tory MP Anne Widdecomb, a Catholic. In April she criticized Google’s policy, saying “It does seem to me to be the most appalling and blatant case of religious discrimination and also to be a very silly attempt to stifle due debate.”

Google explained its change of policy in a Tuesday statement which read:

“The issue of abortion is an emotive subject and Google does not take a particular side.

"Over the last few months we have been reviewing our abortion ads policy in order to make sure it was fair, up-to-date and consistent with local customs and practices.

"Following the review we have decided to amend our policy, creating a level playing field and enabling religious associations to place ads on abortion in a factual way."

The Christian Institute also issued a statement about the settlement.

 “We are delighted to confirm that our legal proceedings against Google for blocking our abortion ad have been settled on amicable terms,” the Christian Institute said.

According to the statement, Google has reviewed its AdWords policy to enable religious associations to place ads on the topic of abortion in a “factual and campaigning way.”

“The new policy will apply world-wide with immediate effect,” the organization said. “This is an important issue of free speech and religious liberty and we are pleased with Google’s constructive response to this matter.”

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