Madrid, Spain, Oct 7, 2008 (CNA) - The Supreme Court has sided with the Archdiocese of Valencia regarding the protection of church archives and exempted all of the Spanish bishops from having to acknowledge those who have renounced their baptism.
The Archdiocese of Valencia published a statement noting that the court struck down a previous ruling that said baptismal records could be modified or canceled at the request of those who wanted to renounce their faith.
The Supreme Court said in its ruling that church baptismal records are not subject to civil laws regarding the protection of information. The archdiocese had appealed a lower court ruling which sided with an individual who wanted to remove his record from his parish’s baptismal registry.
La Paz, Bolivia, Oct 7, 2008 (CNA) - The Church in Bolivia has encouraged further national dialogue to achieve a peaceful solution to the crisis that is affecting the country, in response to the news that opposition leaders are pulling out of negotiations in protest over the detention of one of their leaders, Jose Vaca.
Father Eugenio Cotter, who represents the Church in the negotiations, said the decision by opposition leaders was unfortunate as it came at a time when progress was being made. “The Catholic Church is concerned about the future of dialogue, and we hope [opposition leaders] will set aside their confrontational attitudes and return to the table to continue moving forward in this peace process, which is what the country is hoping for,” he said.
Likewise, Archbishop Tito Solari of Cochabamba said recently the country’s bishops would continue to facilitate the dialogue until an agreement is reached. Cardinal Julio Terrazas of Santa Cruz said he was in agreement and that the country’s hopes were in the results of this national dialogue.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 7, 2008 (CNA) - Father Joan Manuel Serra, a priest of the Diocese of Sant Feliu de Llobregat, has asked King Juan Carlos of Spain not to sign a royal decree that would modify mortuary policies and would make it legal to use “baby crushing machines” that would be used on the remains of babies aborted up to the seventh month of pregnancy in abortion clinics.
In an open letter, Father Serra recalled that current policy “obliges abortion ‘clinics’ to consider the remains of an abortion as cadavers, when they are human remains ‘of a sufficient entity,’ that is, at eleven or twelve weeks of pregnancy, and transfer them to a cemetery for their posterior dignified incineration or burial.”
However, after the scandal of the Ginemedex Clinic, where it was discovered that blenders were being used to cover up illegal late-term abortions, the government, “with the supposed support of the main opposition party,” has proposed changing the norms for mortuaries “so that the ‘remains’ of an abortion not be considered ‘human remains of sufficient entity’ until after the 28th week of gestation,” that is, nearly the seventh month of pregnancy.
“Your majesty, we are reaching levels of inhumanity that are completely inadmissible and that are putting the very foundation of our society at risk,” Father Serra said. “If we do not protect the right to life of all,” even those who are weakest, we are laying “the foundations of a very violent society that will end up destroying itself.”
Father Serra told King Juan Carlos that if the current policy is kept in place, “of properly burying or incinerating the human remains of abortions during the first few weeks, at least we would be giving a humane message to society. This will make many people think again about the value of human life from the moment of conception.”
CNA STAFF, Oct 7, 2008 (CNA) - An expert in the history of the Catholic Church, Domingo Ramos-Lissón, explained in an interview that the preparation of the early Christians for baptism could last up to three years, and that many professions prohibited a person from registering as a catechumen.
"If we follow the path taken by someone who wanted to become a Christian in the fourth century, initially we will see a thorough examination of his life, family conditions and aspiring profession," Ramos-Lissón said in an interview with the website PrimerosCristianos.com (First Christians).
In that regard, he explained, "some family situations, such as polygamy and concubinage, or professions, such as theatrical actor, magician, guardian of idols, gladiator and other offices, prevented that person from being considered a catechumen. However, once they changed their lifestyle, they were given the chance to be baptized.
Ramos-Lissón noted that once admitted, the catechumens "could attend the Liturgy of the Word in the Eucharistic celebration."
According to the stories of the fourth century, the preparation lasted at least 40 days and began eight weeks before Easter. "The formation included three aspects: doctrinal, moral and ritual."
However, he indicated that the early sources describe the preparation in the first second centuries. One reference speaks "of a three year long catechetical instruction."
Ramos-Lissón remarked that during this time, catechumens responded to various concerns including the threat of persecution and the presence of the heretics, "which could confuse the good faith of those who came to Christianity. These factors prompted the Church to bring the catechumens to the test of time and perseverance."
Charlotte, N.C., Oct 7, 2008 (CNA) -
A pro-life student group has charged that Planned Parenthood employees in North Carolina did not report two incidents of alleged statutory rape when college student volunteers posing as 15 and 14 years of age told clinic workers they had just had sexual relations with their mother’s live-in-boyfriend. The clinic workers, whose interactions with the undercover students were recorded and posted to YouTube, may have violated state law mandating the reporting of statutory rape.
Students for Life America (SFLA) released the video on October 1.
Its first segment records a conversation between an undercover Students for Life volunteer college student posing as a 15-year-old girl. Speaking to a clinic worker at a Charlotte clinic, she asks if her mother can find out she was at the clinic.
When told "no," the student asks if they will provide her the morning-after pill and asks if she may return later for contraception.
Playing the part of a girl who has had sexual relations with her mother’s live-in boyfriend, she asks if she can get the morning-after pill at a pharmacy over the counter. When told legal minors may not purchase the drug that way, she initially describes the boyfriend as a person who is "older" and can acquire it for her.
Later she says the boyfriend is in his thirties.
"My concern is the age difference…" a clinic worker states at one point.
The undercover student replies: "Oh, no, it’s fine. There’s nothing bad going on."
"Well, legally, though, it’s illegal," one clinic worker replies. "It’s statutory rape."
The student then asks if she can return later and talk about it then. A clinic worker then schedules her for a birth control appointment.
Asked again about the morning-after pill, a clinic worker says "anyone over 18 can purchase it."
SFLA submitted a request for the records of all cases of reported statutory rape in Charlotte, North Carolina from June 13 to September 25. The records reportedly did not show that the case was reported to the authorities.
Later that same day, a different student posing as a 14-year-old girl made similar remarks at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Winston-Salem. Again she alluded to a sexual relationship with a man in his thirties who asked her to acquire the morning after pill.
A clinic worker then asks about her age and the age of her lover. Responding to her request for a morning-after pill, according to the SFLA video the worker says "Well sweetie we can give you Plan B. However, you’re underage, and we can’t really give you what you need right now."
"Do you know anyone who’s 18 who can buy it for you?" the clinic worker asks.
"Well he can," the student replies.
"OK well yea, that would be fine," a clinic worker remarks.
Soon after another clinic worker asks "You said you had sex with a 30 year-old man?"
"Um, yea" said the student.
"You know that’s against the law, right? And we have to report something like this," the worker says.
"Well, it’s not, it’s not like that," the student actor replies.
"It is against the law," the clinic worker says. "You do know that’s against the law?"
"We have to report it, since you came in as a minor saying that you had sex with someone that’s over 18."
Later that day, the student called back and gave the clinic worker an identity and an address to report. The clinic worker recognized her as the same girl and repeated that the alleged underage relationship was against the law.
"You do understand we have to report this, okay?" the clinic worker asked.
A later SFLA request for all reports of statutory rape in Winston-Salem from June 13 through September 30 produced no records showing that the second case was reported to authorities.
SFLA Executive Director Kristan Hawkins commented on the investigation:
"These videos are simply shocking. That Planned Parenthood staffers acknowledged the girls were being raped and then did not report the crime is horrific. They allowed these girls to go home to their rapists and even confirmed that their rapists could get the Morning After Pill for them to cover their crimes."
Tom McClusky, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Family Research Council, also responded to the investigation, saying:
"As long as Planned Parenthood puts their fealty to abortion on demand above protecting young girls from statutory rapists then investigations such as the ones done by SFLA will be needed."
The video is viewable at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkakpcWSyWY
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2008 (CNA) - Bishops from Africa, Asia, and Oceania spoke at the Second General Congregation of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Tuesday, discussing the challenges facing the evangelization of their regions and considering how the Word of God may be translated into their local cultures.
John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria, described the state of the Church in Africa, remarking that some of the earliest centers of Christianity, such as Alexandria, Carthage, and Hippo, were in Northern Africa.
“Our continent can boast of being a 'biblical land' in a way that many great Christian nations of today dare not,” the archbishop commented, the Vatican Information Service reports.
He said that acquiring a copy of the Scriptures is a significant problem in Africa, where a Bible may cost as much as a month’s wages.
Noting that many languages still do not have an adequate translation of the Bible, Archbishop Olorunfemi said interpretation must follow translation “so as to imbibe the true meaning of the message that the Holy Spirit intends for those to whom the Word is addressed,” he said.
“Here comes the task of interpretation, of exegesis both at the scientific level and at the popular level.”
The archbishop noted that Catholic missionaries to Africa from the late nineteenth century through most of the twentieth century were “men and women of their own times and of their own places of origin” and came from a milieu where “the Bible as a scriptural text was not very much a priority in the life of the Church in those days.”
“But this does not mean that they were ignorant of Sacred Scripture,” he continued. “The Catechism itself was based in an indirect way on the Scriptures. More important still was the liturgy. At Mass, regular passages were read and homilies delivered upon them.”
“Africa is still a continent of first evangelization. ... The task of primary evangelization obviously demands that the Word of God is announced and proclaimed in all its power and vigor. This requires that the scripture be properly presented to those whom we are inviting to accept the Christian message.”
Archbishop Olorunfemi said some African Catholics face problems from fellow Christians who are “not only of the fundamentalist type but clearly anti-Catholic.”
Many Catholics are often “embarrassed” by attacks and harassment from such groups, “especially when they themselves are not properly prepared to defend their Catholic stand. Many of our members however have been challenged to take the Scriptures more seriously, precisely to be able to stand their ground when others attack them and their Church.”
He explained that the Africans at the synod hope that their enthusiasm for the Word of God will be strengthened and sustained by the gathering.
“We are hoping too that having told our story about the challenges we face and the limits of our resources, we can look forward to more support from those who have been helping us in the areas of need already mentioned," he concluded.
Archbishop Tomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, India also touched on the theme of translation, saying Christian evangelists in India translated their “Word” into action. Citing the example of Mother Teresa, he said such Christians’ services in education and health are “greatly esteemed.”
“They are active in the struggle for justice for oppressed groups; in the work for social change, cultural promotion, protection of environment, defense of life and family; in advocacy on behalf of the weak, downtrodden and the marginalized and giving voice to the voiceless. ... Even where the Gospel is resisted most, the evangelical witness of socially relevant works find welcome."
He noted the apostolic work of priests, sisters, and catechists is encouraging “significant Church growth” among “responsive communities” such as ethnic minorities in different parts of China, the Indonesian islands, North Myanmar, Thailand, and Northeast India.
“Religious life is understood in Asia, its relevance recognized, its contribution appreciated, and its representatives respected,” he continued, explaining that other religions’ native models are already present.
Renunciation, austerity, silence, prayer, contemplation, and celibacy are highly regarded, the archbishop reports.
“Religious persons are considered the guardians of religious and human wisdom in Asia,” he continued, saying young religious can become “effective announcers of the Christian message” with adequate formation.
He explained that the borrowing of elements suitable for faith and worship from other religions must be handled “with care,” lest adherents to those religions view such an act as a violation and come to see Christianity “as an imposition of something alien.”
The spread of Christianity in Asia is effectively done through personal witness, he continued, which is shown either in assistance to the hungry and the poor, peacemaking, justice work, and equality advocacy on matters such as class, gender, caste, or ethnicity.
“These efforts are different from a textbook presentation of Christ based on truth claims, debates and arguments. But they explain the teachings of the Gospel most eloquently. They translate the Christian message into life,” Archbishop Menamparampil remarked.
“In many countries in Asia, Christians are under heavy pressure. Freedom is restricted, new converts are harassed, and the believing community is persecuted as happened in Orissa, India, recently. However, the patience manifested by the community, the restraint shown, the moderation in response, the spirit of forgiveness -- all these have an evangelizing power"
Bishop Michael Ernest Putney of Townsville, Australia addressed the synod concerning the Gospel in Oceania.
Saying evangelization has “borne enormous fruit” throughout the Pacific, Bishop Putney said that missionaries introduced some elements that were “culturally alien” to the native peoples, while some native elements “inconsistent with the Word of God” continue to influence.
The Church in Oceania faces the challenge of transitioning from village communities to urban life, which stresses family life and the social fabric.
The multiplicity of languages is another problem Bishop Putney cited, reporting that there are over twelve hundred “quite different” languages in Oceania.
Calling Australia “one of the most secular countries in the world,” he said the descendants of Europeans in Australia and New Zealand are far less religious than Pacific Islander people.
"The challenge confronting Australia and much of Oceania is to find new ways to enable this gift of the Gospel to be heard," he concluded.
Panama City, Panama, Oct 7, 2008 (CNA) - The Church in Panama and several pro-family movements claim that pressure continues to remain in the country to pass a law of "sexual and reproductive health." The bill, endorsed by the government, reportedly violates the right of parents to educate their children according to their moral convictions.
In a recent statement, the Catholics Bishops Conference of Panama said that this project does not consider the ethical dimension of sexuality focused on values and moral virtues, which reveals the dignity of human beings as a whole.
According to the bishops, this bill ignores "love" as a component of human sexuality; the complementarity of men and women; and it diminishes the family's role as the primary educator of children, ignoring the parents' work in the delicate matters of sexual and reproductive health of their children.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 7, 2008 (CNA) - Parents in the province of Cadiz, Spain are demanding the removal of Teresa Jimenez Vilchez, minister of education in Andalusia, for having violated the privacy of children by publishing their names in the region's official newspaper.
"We demand that the president of Andalusia, D. Manuel Chaves immediately dismiss the Minister of Education, Mrs. Teresa Jimenez Vilchez," parents expressed in a statement. They also urged the Prosecutor's Office of Children to intervene.
The list of children was published on October 1 containing, "the first and last names of 91 minor children of objectors," in the Official Gazette of Andalusia.
"We understand that the counseling of Education Government of Andalusia has infringed the right to personal and family privacy of minors," as the inclusion of their names "can only have malicious intentions," the parents added.
Washington D.C., Oct 7, 2008 (CNA) - Armando Valladares, a leader in the human rights arena, has said that electing Barack Obama as the next U.S. President, would go against "the values, principles and ideals that have shaped this great nation," because the Democrat candidate strongly supports abortion, promotes the adoption of children by gay couples and advocates to terrorists.
Valladares, Cuban and a former U.S. ambassador under the Reagan and George Bush Sr. administrations, published a Spanish-written article entitled "Obama Presidente" in the Journal of the Americas.
He wrote that what is happening with Obama, "reminds me of what happened to Fidel Castro and later what happened with Chavez. When our friends warned Venezuelans that the price of this 'change,'" could cost their freedom, they accused us of empty threats. However, "we were right, but it is already too late."
Valladares spent 22 years in a Cuban prison before moving to the United States, where he currently resides. According to him, Obama is governed by the Marxist belief that "the end justifies the means."
The Latino leader said that if Obama wins the election, "more than ever, our society will be in great danger. One of his objectives is the dissolution of the family and its values. Obama supports marriage between same-sex partners. He wants to bring it to the Constitution. Obama is in favor of the adoption of children by gay couples. Rather than favoring prayer in schools, he advocates the distribution of condoms."
The greatest concern of Valladares is Obama's relationship with terrorists. "William 'Bill' Ayers was one of the founders of the leftist organization ‘The Weatherman.’ It was this group that put the bomb at the headquarters of the police department in New York back in 1970. Additionally, the bombings at the Capitol in Washington in 1971 and at the Pentagon in 1972 are among their other terrorist acts."
"Obama and Ayers served together in the extreme leftist organization, Woods Fund Board, from 1999 to 2002. Ayers introduced his terrorist friends to Obama and organized parties at his house to raise money for Obama's campaign to the Senate in Illinois. They appeared together many times in public lectures, panels. Ayers was a donor to the Obama campaign in 2001."
According to Valladares, if Obama is elected, Ayers would have a place in his administration.
Mr. Valladares currently serves on the board of directors for the Human Rights Foundation, whose president Thor Halvorssen stressed to CNA that the organization does not make political endorsements, and that Valladares was speaking only in a personal capacity.
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2008 (CNA) - The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, stressed the prophetic nature of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, published 40 years ago by Pope Paul VI. The encyclical, which has also been controversial, explains the Church's teaching on human sexuality and denounces attacks against life.
L'Osservatore Romano published Cardinal Bertone’s homily given on October 4 for participants of the Congress on Humanae Vitae. According to Cardinal Bertone, "only in God’s loving plan can the conjugal act have full meaning. That, of course, presupposes respect for life, not a selfish attitude of possession. The vocation of man, created in the image and likeness of God, takes place fully only in the gift of self to God and neighbor."
The Vatican Secretary of State spoke about the right to life from conception to natural death. He said that "love truly generates and nourishes life” and to defend life as a gift of love “is part of our vocation as Christians."
After warning that today there is a tendency to reject the plan of God and to consider the life of the unborn as an obstacle to personal freedom, Cardinal Bertone remembered that Pope Paul VI, who issued the encyclical, was “well aware of this situation” and was prepared “to defend the nobility of married love.”
The document affirmed “the sanctity of human life, as an essential element for the promotion and respect of the person in the service to the truth of the faith," he noted.
Finally, Cardinal Bertone pointed out that "responsible parenthood is a matter of courage and love. The human resources may not be sufficient, which is why the Church does tire of inviting those in need to come to the aid of God. Follow the law of God, which at first glance may seem onerous, however, it is not the case. "
Steubenville, Ohio, Oct 7, 2008 (CNA) - Franciscan University of Steubenville has announced that on Monday, Fr. Terence Henry, TOR, accepted the resignation of one of the school’s board of trustee members, Dr. Nicholas Cafardi, who recently made public his support of Sen. Barack Obama for president.
Shortly after becoming aware of Dr. Cafardi’s position in support of Sen. Obama, the university, which is known for its strong pro-life convictions, issued a statement emphasizing that Cafardi’s views were his own private views and underlining the university’s opposition to abortion.
Four days after distancing itself from Cafardi, university president Fr. Terence Henry announced that he had received a voluntarily submitted letter of resignation from Dr. Cafardi, and that he had accepted the board of trustee member’s resignation.
A statement from the university says that Fr. Henry expressed his thanks for the "many ways Dr. Cafardi has assisted and advised Franciscan University over the years."