Archive of September 28, 2008

Government incapable of accepting that Spaniards do not want new abortion law

Madrid, Spain, Sep 28, 2008 (CNA) - The spokesman for the organization Right to Life in Spain, Gador Joya, lamented the lack of debate on a new abortion law under consideration and said the government does not listen to society because it is incapable of accepting that they do not want new legislation on abortion.

"We think the government does not listen to society," she said. "It does not appear capable of accepting that society does not want a new law on abortion. But we want it to be seen that instead of helping women and pushing social policies that would help the family and mothers, it is moved by ideology and the culture of death," she told La Gaceta.

Joya said that defending "the life of the weakest is progressive," and that more than half of Socialist and leftist voters "want to leave the law as it is." However, she denounced the government for meeting with "the representatives of his industry" of abortion.

"The government has pulled out of its sleeve the idea that there is a demand in society for more abortions, it creates commissions to look as if there is debate of the issue, but in reality they are the same dogs only with different collars," she said.

Joya noted that Spain is now beginning to learn about post-abortion syndrome "thanks to the women who are coming out." She criticized abortion clinics and the government for not caring for women after they have undergone the procedure. "Women suffer before, during and after an abortion," she added.

She said abortion clinics should be required by law to provide complete information to women before performing abortions on them and "explain to them the alternatives, allow them a waiting period of at least 24 hours, and show them an ultrasound of the child they are carrying."

Joya said the fight against abortion belongs to society, and "we citizens are the ones who have to carry it forward."

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Poor box at SS. Peter and Paul hits million milestone

East Goshen, Pa., Sep 28, 2008 (CNA) - Week in and week out, parishioners of all ages at SS. Peter and Paul Parish thoughtfully slip cash — and occasionally checks — into the church’s five poor boxes.


Last month, their charitable acts of kindness topped more than $1 million for the 18 years the poor box ministry has been in place there.


“I’ve been looking forward to that,” said Msgr. James J. Foley, pastor of SS. Peter and Paul. “My hope, in the beginning, was that we could raise $6,000 a year. We raised $10,000. Now, we’re raising almost $10,000 every two months,” and sometimes much more.


An observation made by a nun who was visiting the parish sums up the program’s success. “She said, ‘It’s the only church I’ve ever been in where people line up to put money in the poor box,’” Msgr. Foley recounted.


The poor boxes are emptied by the pastor after each of the four weekend Masses. Most of the money that is deposited into the box are in bills — $1, $5, $10 and $20. Most of the donors are anonymous, although some write checks.


Some deposit their money before Mass so they don’t have to wait in line afterward.


“It’s unbelievable,” Msgr. Foley said. “People walk into church and after they bless themselves, they put money in the poor box.


“People are living the Gospel message where Jesus tells us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and shelter the homeless,” he added.


Misión Santa María, Madre de Dios in Avondale, Chester County is one of the recipients of the poor box donations.


Msgr. Francis J. Depman, mission chaplain of Misión Santa Maria, said the money the mission is allotted from the poor box is a blessing because it helps meets the needs and emergency expenses of many families in the community.


The needs vary, but may include an individual in dire financial straits who is in arrears on rent or on an electricity bill, someone who needs travel fare for a family emergency or someone who cannot afford the funeral expenses of a loved one.


Through the generosity of parishes such as SS. Peter and Paul, Misión Santa María is able to continue its work, Msgr. Depman said. “It’s always good to know that there’s a parish willing to extend a hand.”


In addition to the poor box, the parish remembers the mission throughout the year with clothing drives, donations of food at Thanksgiving and presents at Christmas, to name just a few.


“I’m always very grateful to Msgr. Foley, who was one of my professors in the seminary and has been someone who has always encouraged me in my priesthood and my ministry to the poor,” Msgr. Depman said.


Other organizations that receive money from SS. Peter and Paul’s poor box include Birthright, archdiocesan Catholic Social Services and Project H.OM.E. (Housing, Opportunities for Employment, Medical Care, Education).


“SS. Peter and Paul Parish has been a tremendous partner, helping Project H.O.M.E. strengthen and expand its work with homeless and low-income adults and children for years,” said Mercy Sister Mary Scullion, executive director and co-founder of Project H.O.M.E.


“Msgr. Foley’s leadership and compassion has made a huge difference,” she added.


Msgr. Foley admits that it was with some reluctance that he started the poor box nearly two decades ago when he was a parochial vicar at SS. Peter and Paul. A member of the parish pastoral council at the time had repeatedly asked if the parish could get one. Thanks to the councilman’s urging, the parish eventually installed two poor boxes.


In those early days, the poor box ministry netted $25 to $30 each week. With the permission of the pastor and pastoral council, Msgr. Foley began to vigorously promote the poor box from the pulpit. His goal was to give the poor box money to a different organization every two months.


Next, a committee was formed to further promote the cause. Eventually, representatives from the receiving organizations were placed on a schedule to speak about the cause to the parishioners after Masses or other special gatherings at the church.


Using that model, the parish’s poor box ministry quickly began netting more than $1,500 every two months.


Msgr. Foley, who became pastor in 1993, points out that the poor box has not negatively affected his parish’s regular collections. In fact, those collections have generally increased.


Good marketing, combined with personal testimonials about the positive impact the money has made on an individual and the organization the individual is representing, is what propel the poor box’s success, the pastor said.


“They tug not only at the purse strings, but at the heart strings,” Msgr. Foley added of the bond that is forged between the recipients and the donors. “Sometimes, you don’t have a dry eye in the church.”


For more information, visit the Web site


Printed with permission from Catholic Standard and Times, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.





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Panamanian government taking advantage of bishops’ absence to pass new law on "reproductive health"

Panama City, Panama, Sep 28, 2008 (CNA) - Pro-family groups in Panama are denouncing the government’s Ministries of Health and Education for taking advantage of the absence of the country’s Catholic bishops—who are currently in Rome for their ad limina visit—to present a controversial bill on sexual and reproductive health that would violate the right of parents to decide the kind of sexual education their children receive.

Although the measure is being promoted as a means of improving maternal health, preventing unwanted pregnancies and AIDS, it has been severely questioned because it grants so-called "sexual rights" to minors, "taking away from parents the possibility of being involved and correcting the danger sexual behavior of our children," pro-family officials told CNA.

They also denounced the Minister of Social Development, Maria Roquebert, "who said the law had been co-sponsored by the Catholic Church. This a huge lie." Before the measure was presented, Bishop Jose Luis Lacunza, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Panama, told Vatican Radio that just as in other parts of the world, in Panama there is an ongoing battle for the defense of the family and life.

He said Panama has been the target of attacks in the area of healthcare and education for the last two years, during which there have been numerous attempts to introduce laws on sexual and reproductive health.

Daisy de Guevara, executive secretary of the National Commission on Family Ministry, told CNA that "if that is true, they are taking advantage of the bishops’ absence in order to pass this law. As a citizen, I think this is an irresponsible and disrespectful attitude."

"In previous consultations with the Panamanian society, the Church has very clearly shown their opposition to this measure. Many of its articles are in conflict with the principles of the Church," Guevara said. She stressed that the new bill promotes homosexuality and new "sexes," and that such lifestyles are a "source of problems and suffering for these very same people. This is a non-negotiable issue for the Catholic Church," she said.

Juan Francisco de la Guardia Brin of the Panamanian Institute For Family Education remarked that the measure "distorts the greatness of human sexuality, as it makes sexual education based on gender perspective obligatory and introduces an ideology that is contrary to the promotion of the family as the pillar of our society."

"Not only is a hedonistic and mistaken concept of sexual relations being introduced to children and adolescents by teaching them different sexual orientations," he explained, "but under the premise of avoiding teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, minors are being exposed to the indiscriminate use of artificial contraceptives at an early age with little or no medical supervision, and promiscuity is being endorsed, which will make the number of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases that can cause death rise even further."

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Hundreds of thousands of Argentineans honor the Virgin Mary of the Rosary of San Nicolás

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 28, 2008 (CNA) - Some 200,000 people participated in the Eucharistic celebration near the Sanctuary of Mary of the Rosary of San Nicolás, for the 25th Anniversary of the appearances of Our Lady in Argentina.


The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by the Bishop of San Nicolás de los Arroyos, Héctor Cardelli who in his homily stressed that "when Mary calls us together, the family is reinforced, because the Mother is bringing her children together."


"How much she told us and how little we recall!  How opportune was the intervention of Mary, who reminds us to listen to Christ the Teacher…an encounter with Him ensures the presence of the Kingdom here, among us," he continued.  The bishop went on to emphasize that it has already been 25 years since “her maternal accompaniment has come to us and spoken of her love and fidelity to follow Christ, who is our Way, Truth and Life.  Christ is the point of reunion, because from Him, our steps have a course, our motivations have direction and our lives make sense."


"Considering this brief history, if only 25 years, we see nothing more than grace after grace, where our faith has grown based on acts and the Word being translated into reconciliation, peace, prayer and mission," he concluded. 


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New technique advances embryonic stem cell alternative

Boston, Mass., Sep 28, 2008 (CNA) -

Researchers have refined an experimental process that could produce stem cells without needing to create and destroy human embryos. The process turns adult cells into what are called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) believed to have high potential for therapeutic treatments for many severe medical conditions. New research has reportedly eliminated iPS cells’ tendencies to become cancerous.

"We have removed a major roadblock for translating this into a clinical setting," Harvard University stem cell researcher Konrad Hochedlinger told the Washington Post.

"I think it's an important advance," he continued.

Hochedlinger and his fellow researchers published their research online yesterday in the journal Science.

Last year scientists discovered how to generate iPS cells by introducing four genes into mice adult cells using retroviruses. The genes changed the cells into a state similar to that of embryonic stem cells.

However, such retroviruses can cause cancer in animals and can integrate their own DNA into that of the host cells.

Hochedlinger and his colleagues used a different virus, called an adenovirus, to introduce the same four genes into mice adult cells.

"The adenovirus will infect the cells but then will clear themselves from the cells. After a few cell divisions there are no traces of the virus in the cell," Hochedlinger said, according to the Washington Post. "You can't tell the virus was ever there."

Tests showed that the cells produced by the new method were indistinguishable from embryonic stem cells and could be transformed into any type of tissue such as lung, heart, brain, and muscle.

Unlike the retrovirus-treated cells, the adenovirus-treated cells do not produce cancerous tumors.

"What our experiment shows is you can do this without an integrating virus. You do not need integration of the DNA into the genome to produce iPS cells," Hochedlinger said.

Robert Lanza, a stem cell researcher at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass., called the research a "huge step forward," saying the cancerous properties of earlier iPS cells prevented clinical therapies from being developed.

"The use of iPS cells to treat or even cure human disease may not be far away," Lanza told the Washington Post.

Rudolf Jaenisch, a professor of biology at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, praised the new findings but said the new process is 100 times less efficient than the retrovirus technique.

According to the Washington Post, Hochedlinger said his team is trying to streamline the production process, perhaps by supplementing the new genes with chemicals that flip biological switches.

Critics of embryonic stem cell research praised the findings as evidence that ethically questionable embryonic research is unnecessary.

"This is the latest in a line of studies showing that the practical problems associated with using 'reprogrammed' adult cells are rapidly being solved," Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in an e-mail to the Washington Post.

Hochedlinger and others argue research on embryonic stem cells must continue because it is unclear whether other stem cell therapies will prove effective.

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Benedict XVI recalls humility of John Paul I on the 30th anniversary of his death

Vatican City, Sep 28, 2008 (CNA) - On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the death of John Paul I, Pope Benedict I dedicated his Sunday Angelus to the Pontiff whose reign lasted 33 days.

Speaking from a balcony in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict recalled Sunday’s readings. In the Parable of the Two Sons, Jesus calls on sinners to convert and teaches humility as the means to accepting the gift of salvation.

In his Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.” St. Paul’s sentiments are the same as those of Jesus, who out of love for humankind, became man and died on the cross. The verb used – ekenôsen – literally means that Jesus “emptied himself” and “makes clear the profound humility and infinite love of Jesus, humble servant par excellence.”

The Pope said that the biblical texts brought to mind John Paul I. The deceased Pontiff chose the same episcopal motto as St. Charles Borromeo: Humilitas. One word synthesizes the Christian life and indicates the indispensible virtue of who, in the Church, is called to serve in a position of authority. In one of his four General Audiences, John Paul I repeated Jesus’ words: “Learn from me because I am gentle and humble of heart.” Humility can be considered John Paul I’s spiritual testament.

Pope Benedict explained that John Paul I used examples from daily life. The Venetian Pontiff’s simplicity, the Holy Father continued, “was a means of solid and fruitful instruction, which, thanks to the gift of an excellent memory and vast culture, was enriched by numerous citations of church and secular authors.” He was an unmatched catechist, in the footsteps of St. Pius X, his countryman and predecessor, first in Venice, then in Rome.

The Pope concluded by encouraging his audience to thank God for the gift of John Paul I to the Church and to cultivate the late Pontiff’s humility.

The Holy Father then prayed the angelus, greeted those present in various languages and gave his Apostolic Blessing.


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