St. Paul, Minn., Oct 1, 2008 (CNA) - Paul Zachary Myers, a science blogger and biology professor at the University of Minnesota at Morris who posted on his blog what he claimed was a desecrated Eucharistic Host, has now promoted the YouTube videos of a person also purporting to show other such desecrations.
In July Myers wrote on his blog Pharyngula that he pierced a Host with a rusty nail and then threw it in the trash alongside coffee grounds, banana peels, and pages torn respectively from the Koran and a book by the atheist polemicist Richard Dawkins. He posted photos apparently corroborating his claims.
He said he did such acts in response to the case of a Florida university student who publicly removed a Host from a Catholic Mass held on campus and did not return it for a week.
In a September 29 post on Pharyngula, Myers promoted the videos of a YouTube poster called “FSMDude.”
“FSMDude” has posted several videos purporting to show various acts of Eucharistic desecration. In one video, a Host is flushed down the toilet. In other videos, Hosts are fed to ducks or other animals, put in a blender, or shot with a nail gun.
Myers’ post references a commentary on the Catholic site HeadlineBistro.com discussing the YouTube videos.
Noting that the Catholic site does not provide links fearing to boost the popularity of the activity, Myers said: “Here you go,” directing his readers to “FSMDude’s” YouTube page.
According to the blog ranking site Technorati.com, Pharyngula is ranked 94th in overall popularity as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Gosh, maybe more people will be publicly committing heresy now!” Myers sneered, confusing heresy with sacrilege.
“Get over it,” Myers told outraged Catholics. “As long as people aren't disrupting your services or pilfering chalices, there has been no interference with your religious freedom, and no harm done.”
Responding to reports that FSMDude cited Myers’ original act as inspiration, Myers said: “This is great! Everyone should join in! It makes me so pleased to see growing, vocal opposition to the fundamental absurdity of religion, do keep it up.”
Thomas Serafin, president of the International Crusade for Holy Relics, called for YouTube to pull the videos.
“YouTube has to be held accountable and stopped,” Serafin told HeadlineBistro.com. “If Catholics don’t take a stand right now, they can expect such outrages to continue.”
“The internet is, in many ways, a new world, and it is our duty to evangelize this world, but we have to speak up and be heard to do that.”
Washington D.C., Oct 1, 2008 (CNA) - Pro-life leader Dr. Alveda King, niece of civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., recently discussed her past experiences seeking services from a Planned Parenthood clinic in an interview. Saying the organization gave her “bad advice, bad counsel” and lied about her abortion, she called for taxpayer funding to be pulled from Planned Parenthood.
Speaking to Cybercast News Service, Dr. King described how she had two abortions and then later a miscarriage in the early 1970s, years before she joined the pro-life movement.
Describing herself as “uninformed and misinformed” about abortion, King said the doctor who performed the first abortion sent her to Planned Parenthood for the second.
There, counselors told her that the unborn child was not a baby, “it’s just a blob of tissue.”
“…between the two abortions and the surgical procedures, the IUD (intra-uterine device), and the birth-control pill, I got pregnant again later and had a miscarriage,” she continued. “So Planned Parenthood, [which] was supposed to be my health provider, continued to give me bad advice, bad counsel, and lied to me.”
King told Cybercast News Service that she believes the damage from the two abortions and the birth control devices prescribed by Planned Parenthood contributed to her subsequent miscarriage.
She went on to describe how she asked her grandfather, the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., who was the pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, for advice during a later pregnancy.
“He told me, ‘No, that’s a baby, not a blob of tissue. They’re lying, that’s a child,’” King said, explaining that her grandfather helped break what she called her family’s “cycle of death.”
Alveda King also reported that her grandfather had convinced her own mother not to abort her.
“Congress must defund Planned Parenthood,” King told Cybercast News Service. “Planned Parenthood is hurting our communities, it’s taking away lives.”
According to Planned Parenthood’s 2006-2007 annual report, the organization received over $300 million in federal grants and contracts last year, a figure which composes one third of its total revenue. The organization is the largest abortion provider in the United States, performing 264,943 abortions in 2005 and 289,750 abortions in 2006.
King also charged that Planned Parenthood targets the black community.
“Most of the Planned Parenthood clinics are in African American communities,” she stated.
Alveda King additionally charged that Planned Parenthood lied to her uncle, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., when it presented to him its Margaret Sanger Award in 1966.
Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger is regarded by some as a racist who wanted to control the black population.
“They said that, as a Negro leader, we want to commend you for caring about the community and of course we want to help you build a stronger community,” King explained, speaking of her uncle’s award. “But they [Planned Parenthood] had every intention, not of building a strong black community, but rather of becoming the largest abortion provider in America, being primarily responsible for the massive amount of black people that have been aborted.”
King said her uncle’s own statement “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” can be brought to bear on abortion.
“None of us can win, if we continue to abort our children,” she said.
Sacramento, Calif., Oct 1, 2008 (CNA) - William J. Cox, President and Executive Director of the Alliance of Catholic Healthcare, has submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concerning proposed federal regulations which would protect the conscience rights of medical professionals. He said the new rules are “especially important” in light of several attempts by California legislators to “single out” and “blacklist” Catholic hospitals.
“The proposed regulation would help ensure that federal funds do not support morally coercive practices in violation of federal non-discrimination laws related to abortion,” Cox wrote in his September 16 letter to Michael Leavitt, HHS Secretary.
The Alliance of Catholic Healthcare represents California’s Catholic health care systems and providers, a network that is the largest not-for-profit hospital system in California and the eighth largest in the
“While our members do not impose their religious and moral beliefs upon those they serve,” explained Cox, “they do hold themselves accountable, as health care providers, to Catholic ethical and moral standards.”
Citing the “noble American tradition of religious tolerance” and constitutional guarantees of religious liberty as “cornerstones” of Catholic health care providers’ interactions with their patients and communities, Cox said such Catholic groups and individuals have come to rely upon federal and state statutes that protect them from religious discrimination.
He said such statutes are “especially important” to religiously affiliated health care providers in California where, Cox charged, “several influential policymakers and State officials have engaged in a decade-long campaign to coerce them, under penalty of law, to provide medical services in violation of their deepest moral convictions.”
Cox cited a 1999 bill called California State Assembly Bill 525 (AB525) which he said would have “required Catholic hospitals to provide or arrange for abortions or lose tens of millions of dollars in annual state assistance.” The bill would have granted the attorney general the authority to review and restrict proposed mergers, including imposing restrictions that could violate Catholic ethics, and to “charge our hospitals for the state’s cost of doing so.”
The bill would also have required all health plans that contract with Catholic hospitals to single them out in their marketing materials to identify them as providers that do not provide abortions or other “reproductive services.”
Cox charged the bill with simply attempting to “blacklist” Catholic institutions and their religious beliefs.
“AB 525 was aimed directly at Catholic health care providers,” Cox asserted, noting that the bill failed by a “mere ten votes.”
Other threats to religious freedom Cox cited included the California Medical Assistance Commission’s (CMAC) “repeated, but unsuccessful” attempts earlier in the late 1990s to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortion and other reproductive services as a condition of receiving a Medi-Cal (Medicaid) contract.
California’s attorney general also filed suit against the federal Weldon Conscience Amendment, asking a federal court to declare the statute an unconstitutional infringement on the state’s ability to enforce its abortion laws.
Such threats prompted Cox to endorse the new federal proposals for conscience protections.
“Enforcing these important and necessary statutes through the proposed regulatory protections will help ensure that health care professionals and institutions in California, and elsewhere, will be able to serve their patients and clients free from religious and moral discrimination,” he wrote.
Cox noted that current recipients of federal funds are not informed of federal conscience protection regulations in funding forms. The new proposals would correct this situation, he said.
Cox, who represents 9,600 active doctors, recommended “more extensive compliance review” of federal funding recipients’ adherence to conscience protection rules, saying the Department of Health and Human Services should not merely react to complaints.
“Waiting for complaints of noncompliance to be filed may not achieve the desired result of compliance, as many individuals may not be fully aware of their conscience rights or the extent to which such rights are protected under federal law,” he wrote.
“Knowledge is power,” Cox concluded his letter. “By instilling an awareness of religious liberty and freedom of conscience, and the right to be free from discrimination based upon the exercise of these rights, the proposed regulation will empower employees and other protected persons. We fully support the proposed rule.”
Vatican City, Oct 1, 2008 (CNA) - This morning Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer intentions for the month of October were announced by the Holy See’s Press Office.
Pope Benedict XVI's general prayer intention is: "That the Synod of Bishops may help the pastors and theologians, the catechists and promoters who are engaged in the service of the Word of God to courageously transmit the truth of faith in communion with the entire Church."
His mission intention is: "That in this month dedicated to the missions, through the promotional activities of the Pontifical Missionary Works and other organisms, every Christian community may feel the need to participate in the Church's universal mission with prayer, sacrifice and concrete help."
Vatican City, Oct 1, 2008 (CNA) - Continuing his reflections on St. Paul, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated today's audience to two episodes that demonstrate Paul's respect and freedom in his relations with Peter and the other Apostles. The Holy Father reminded the faithful that only sincere dialogue, open to the truth of the Gospel, was able to guide the Church's way.
Speaking to the 20,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict began his speech by noting that every Council and Synod of the Church is an "event of the Holy Spirit." St. Luke, shows us this reality when he recounts the first Council of the Church by introducing the Apostles' letter to the Christian communities: "It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us."
The assembly of Jerusalem, the Pope explained, was a response to the problem of pagan followers of Jesus Christ and whether they were free from the Mosaic Law, that is, from the observance of the necessary norms to be just men. On that occasion, Paul laid out for the Twelve Apostles his gospel of freedom from the Law. "Christ is our justice and all those who conform to him are 'just,'" Pope Benedict summarized.
"If," he went on, "for Luke the Council of Jerusalem expressed the action of the Spirit, for Paul it represented the decisive recognition of the freedom that all the participants shared: freedom from the obligations arising from circumcision and from the Law."
"Nonetheless," the Holy Father continued, "Christian liberty is never to be identified with libertinism or with the freedom to do as one pleases; it is enacted in conformity with Christ and, hence, in true service to our bothers and sisters, especially those most in need."
This type of service brought to the Pope’s mind the collection organized by St. Paul for the poor of Jerusalem, which he explained "was an expression of his communities' debt towards the Mother Church of Palestine, from which they had received the priceless gift of the Gospel."
The incident in with unclean foods in Antioch, Syria, the Holy Father recalled, attests to the interior freedom that Paul was enjoying. The other epicenter of the Mosaic observance emerges: "the distinction between pure and impure food," the Pope noted. Paul accused Peter and the others of hypocrisy: "If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?"
Writing to the Christians of Rome a few years later, Paul finds himself in a similar situation and asks the strong to not eat impure food so as to not scandalize the weak. Paul writes, "(I)t is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble." The incident in Antioch revealed itself as a lesson for Peter and for Paul. "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit."
"This is a lesson we too must learn," the Holy Father concluded. "With the different charisms entrusted to Peter and to Paul, let us all allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit, seeking to live in the freedom that has its guide in our faith in Christ and its concrete form in service to others. It is vital to conform ourselves ever more closely to Christ. In this way we truly become free and find within ourselves the real centre and profound essence of the Law: love of God and of neighbor."
Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 1, 2008 (CNA) - Eduardo Verastegui, the Mexican actor who starred in the movie “Bella,” joined pro-life sidewalk counselors and prayerful demonstrators at a Los Angeles abortion clinic on Saturday as he counseled women to turn away from aborting their unborn children.
Many of the demonstrators were present at the Family Planning Associates abortion clinic as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign.
John Anthony, co-coordinator of 40 Days for Life Los Angeles, described Verastegui’s efforts in an e-mail to CNA.
The actor arrived at the clinic just after eight in the morning and stayed until shortly after noon. According to Anthony, Verastegui spent time in prayer and counseled and encouraged women to keep their babies, acting with “love, tenderness, humility and compassion.”
Verastegui and his four of his friends showed some women the pro-life film Dura Realidad (A Hard Truth) and directed mothers to the Los Angeles Pregnancy Services (LAPS) crisis pregnancy center for help.
Anthony told CNA that LAPS was “busier than ever,” reporting that one LAPS staffer said the morning was the busiest they had ever seen.
“Five babies were saved that morning!” Anthony said. “Prayer and love in action were key and beautifully exemplified by all present.”
“The day had a dramatic ending when eight nurses from the mill came outside to meet Eduardo!” Anthony continued. “He spoke with them and gave them a Miraculous Medal as well as a copy of the video Dura Realidad.”
John Anthony asked for prayers for the women who made “precious turnarounds,” the conversion of all clinic workers, and for Eduardo Verastegui, whom Anthony called “a courageous witness and backer of courageous words with action.”
New Dehli, India, Oct 1, 2008 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of India issued a statement this week denouncing the anti-Christian violence that has swept the country and calling on the government to take greater steps to ensure the safety of all believers.
The Fides news agency reports that the bishops of India said they were “moved and concerned by episodes of extreme violence against Christians” and they expressed their disagreement “with the apathy and indifference of the government both at the central level as well as in different states.”
“The ancient civilization of India is humiliated and its values such as Truth, Tolerance and Respect, so jealously guarded throughout the centuries, are trampled upon. The lay and democratic image of India is being seriously damaged in the eyes of the international community,” the statement claims.
The bishops also call for strong measures against terrorism, such as the immediate disarmament and detention of fundamentalist groups, compensation for Christian churches that have been damaged and the bringing to justice of those responsible for these actions.
The bishops also reaffirmed that constitutional rights should be enjoyed by all Indian citizens, including Christians, and they noted that the response of Christian communities to the violence has always been one of peace and forgiveness.
On Tuesday, the Bishops’ Conference also expressed its thanks for India’s Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for assuring the European Union that the Indian government would protect Christians’ constitutional rights. Singh also described the violence against Christians as a “National Shame.”
Barto, Pa., Oct 1, 2008 (CNA) - Pennsylvania police are investigating the disappearance of a 1,200 pound bronze angel that was reportedly stolen from the grounds of the National Centre for Padre Pio last week. While officers have continued to search, no concrete leads have been found.
The bronze statue is known to visitors as the "Angel of the Roses" and was originally cast in the 1930s. It was first placed in the Hall of Justice in San Paolo, Brazil before the centre's founder, the late Vera M. Calandra, purchased the statue in 1999 at an auction. Calandra was immediately attracted to the angel because it reminded her of Padre Pio's special relationship with the angels. Additionally, the bronze angel holds five roses - each representing one of the five wounds of Christ that St. Pio bore on his body, known as the stigmata.
The angel greeted visitors to the centre, located in Barto, Pennsylvania. However, on the morning of September 22, maintenance workers found that the four metal bolts that fastened the angel to the base had been broken and the angel, valued at $60,000, was missing.
It’s incredible," said Julia Calandra-Lineberg, whose family founded the Pio center. "I think everyone in my family is in shock. How could anybody just drive up and steal a statute? Especially one of religious significance," she said to the Reading Eagle.
"I couldn’t believe it," she said. "I just kept thinking, No, no, they must be mistaken."
Although the police are continuing to search for the bronze statue, no concrete leads have been found. Area officials have alerted scrap yards asking them to be on the lookout for the statue.
Anyone having information is urged to call the Pennsylvania state police who are heading the investigation or the National Centre for Padre Pio: http://www.padrepio.org/
Asunción, Paraguay, Oct 1, 2008 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Antonio Dias Duarte of Rio de Janeiro said this week during an international congress on sexuality that the virtue of chastity is “the positive integration of the sexuality of the person” and that spouses are chaste in the measure in which they respect each other and are faithful to their marital commitment.
The bishop said chastity should not be confused with celibacy. He also referred to the anti-values that the fashion world imposes on people, especially on women, attacking the virtue of chastity and turning them into sexual objects.
According to the local media, the event was organized by lay and family movements and was attended by experts from Guatemala, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
Toledo, Spain, Oct 1, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Antonio Canizares, has sent a letter to the administrators, teachers, parents and students of the archdiocese’s Catholic schools instructing them that the controversial course Education for Citizenship cannot be taught in its current form and must be adapted to Church teaching.
To not do so, he said, would be “to violate the character of our own schools, the right of parents to choose the kind of religious and moral formation they want for their children, and the legitimate right they have to exercise conscientious objection, which many have already done. In addition, it is not right to impose a specific moral formation on everyone,” he said.
Europa Press reports that in his letter, the cardinal acknowledged the legal character of the government-sponsored course. “For this reason, in our schools, students will indeed be taught based on the truth of the person to be moral and honorable citizens who fulfill the principles and mandates of the constitution,” he stated.
The cardinal said the contents of the course would be adapted to the nature and mission of Catholic schools and that teachers would be provided with materials for the course that “do not contradict the Christian vision.”
“We support the law and we want to obey it,” Cardinal Canizares emphasized, but some aspects of Education for Citizenship “are not compatible with the Christian vision of man which is what gives our schools their identity and which is what you parents and teachers have opted to have.”
The course imposes a “moral and human formation” that has not been chosen by parents and is imposed on schools in violation of Catholic doctrine, Cardinal Canizares added. “In our diocesan schools, we defend liberty, within and at the service of the common good,” he said.
The Bishops’ Conference of Spain has decried the Education for Citizenship course for elements “contrary to Catholic teaching and to authentic humanism, such as moral relativism and gender ideology.”
Madrid, Spain, Oct 1, 2008 (CNA) - The siblings of Alexia Gonzalez-Barros y Gonzalez, whose cause of beatification is underway, have sent a letter to Spanish filmmaker Javier Fesser protesting the distortion of the girl’s history and her family’s attitude in response to her death in 1985.
Alexia, the youngest daughter of an Opus Dei family, died after a battle with cancer. Fesser used her story, without the family’s consent, in a new film entitled “Camino,” which was presented at the San Sebastian Film Festival, where it was given a tepid reception. It is scheduled to hit theaters in Spain in mid-October.
Fesser’s film, which he says is “pure fiction,” gives an erroneous portrayal of the young girl’s story and claims her cause for beatification is a fraud. It ends with a dedication to the memory of Alexia Gonzalez-Barros y Gonzalez.
Alfredo González-Barros González, who signed the letter in name of all of Alexia’s siblings, told Fesser: “I sat down to watch your press conference at the San Sebastian Festival with one objective: I wanted to hear how you would explain to journalists why you never contacted us and why you have not honored our formal request to remove the explicit reference to Alexia in your film.”
In the past, the family members had written Fesser, who responded that there was no intention “to use the name of Alexia, nor to make any reference to her or to her cause of beatification as part of the film’s marketing.” Nevertheless, the girl’s name was indeed used. The new letter took issue with the portrayal of family as “applauding at the time of Alexia’s death.”
“Such an unjust and terrible claim pains my soul,” Alexia’s brother wrote. “It shouldn’t be necessary for me to tell you that my sister Alexia did not die surrounded by applause. She died surrounded by affection. The affection of her beloved ones: her parents and brothers and sisters, and with the silent respect of the nurses and doctors who came to her room on their own,” he said.
Alexia “died while we tried to hold back our tears,” he continued, “because—and don’t forget this—for us it was truly difficult to think that we would have to endure her loss.”
Alexia González-Barros y González was born in Madrid on March 7, 1971. She was the youngest of seven brothers and sisters. Her parents, Francisco and Moncha, brought her up in an atmosphere of freedom, affection and joy. The day after her first communion, on May 9, 1979, she attended John Paul II’s audience at the Vatican. The Pope blessed her and kissed her forehead. She led a normal life, studying and thinking about the future with her friends. She accepted her illness from the beginning and offered her sufferings for the Church, the Pope and for the world.
Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 1, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Baltazar Porras lamented the recent insults and accusations leveled by officials of the Hugo Chavez government against certain individuals and institutions and said they revealed a lack of credibility.
The archbishop said some officials seem to want “to destroy every institution and everybody” and that not only the president but also those around him in government are losing more credibility each day.
Speaking on Union Radio, he pointed out that “the only thing this kind of language brings is an increase in violence and in the impunity they enjoy. In no way is this what is best or most desirable for the Venezuelan people and society. They intimidate the media so that it coverers stories from one sole perspective,” the archbishop said.
He also recalled the recent statement by the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference and underscored their insistence that “we need a different climate, and not continuously accent the division between Venezuelans, so that our actions are not guided by irrationality.”
Archbishop Porras added, “We know that acting out of passion and irrationality only leads to greater craziness. We need sensibleness, peace and serenity in order to seek out common projects that lead to a better future.”
Rome, Italy, Oct 1, 2008 (CNA) - Another Christian woman was killed and 300 more houses were burned down in anti-Christian violence in the India state of Orissa on Wednesday. Her death brings to 60 the number of Christians who have been killed by Hindu extremists since August 23, with 18,000 people injured and over 50,000 people having fled their homes.
State authorities have imposed a day and night curfew in the district of Kandhamal, SIR reports. However, violent attacks are spreading to other Indian states, even the traditionally harmonious regions of Karnataka and Kerala.
Father Carlo Torriani, a missionary for the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions to the lepers of Mumbai, told SIR that even the Christian community of Mumbai is worried.
Reports from a Mumbai suburb claim that the radical activists of Rashtrya Swayam Sevak Sangh met to plan attacks in the state of Maharastra, where Mumbai is located.
“There is the risk that they may try to do something even here, even if inter-religious dialogue works well here,” Father Torriani told SIR.
The priest agreed with the Indian Bishops’ September 26 letter which claimed the anti-Christian violence is part of an “organized strategy.”
“What happened in Orissa can be explained by social factors, that is, the rivalry between the outcaste tribe members, because some of them enjoy government concessions and others don’t,” he explained. “In addition, the Christians who have been educated at school are not prepared to be exploited by their masters any longer.”
The spread of violence to other states, however, indicates a “hidden political agenda.”
He claimed that Hindu fundamentalists, whom he called the “hidden hand” of the prominent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), want to spread a “climate of fear” to win support in next year’s national election.
Leaders in the Indian government, Father Torriani said, “pretend the problem does not exist and even the national press doesn’t give it much coverage.”
“The fundamentalists are having it easy, because the hidden political agenda behind all this is to embarrass [Indian National Congress president] Sonia Gandhi, because she is Italian and has already been accused of being the spy of the Vatican,” the priest continued.
Father Torriani said it will be important to lobby European governments to rouse the Indian government to investigate the cause of the violence and to compensate victims.
“But little or nothing has been done so far,” he remarked to SIR.