Kansas City, Mo., Oct 23, 2008 (CNA) - With the presidential election only days away, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph is calling his flock’s attention to the gravity of the choice they face and is urging them to join him in prayer.
Bishop Finn describes the coming election in the opening lines of his column for The Catholic Key by quoting Deuteronomy: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.”
Finn also turns to Pope Benedict for insight on how Americans should view the choice they will face in the voting booth. ‘The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself. This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right – it is the very opposite. It is “a deep wound in society’.”
Contrary to some Catholics who have been arguing that other moral concerns can outweigh a candidate’s position on abortion, Bishop Finn said, “Our Catholic moral principles teach that a candidate’s promise of economic prosperity is insufficient to justify their constant support of abortion laws, including partial-birth abortion, and infanticide for born-alive infants.”
Finn also targeted the Freedom of Choice Act, describing it as a “pledge to eliminate every single limit on abortions achieved over the last thirty-five years.” Sen. Barack Obama has promised to sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law if he is elected president. “The real freedom that is ours in Jesus Christ compels us, not to take life, but to defend it,” Bishop Finn stated.
Given this political climate, Bishop Finn, along with the other Bishops of Missouri is calling on all the faithful to make the last week before the election “a week of prayer for our nation - a week of prayer for the protection of Human Life.”
Invoking the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary, Bishop Finn asks her to “watch over our country and bring us the victory of life.” The bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph also turns to the Guardian Angels for their intercession on behalf of the 47 million babies lost through abortion in our country in the last thirty-five years. “This horrendous loss of life remains one of the greatest threats to human civilization we have ever faced,” he writes.
“This week,” Bishop Finn exhorts his flock, “please pray and make some sacrifices for our country. I ask every parish to provide some additional opportunity for prayer in the church: an evening Mass, or rosary, or time of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Say the rosary as individuals or as a family, or even simply a decade each night with your children. Say the election prayer. Give up meat, or do without some convenience this week. Make a good Act of Contrition and get to Confession. Offer a worthy Communion.”
Bishop Finn closes his column by announcing that he will preside over an Eve of the Election Mass at St. Therese Parish, North at 7:00 p.m. on November 3.
Sao Paulo, Brazil, Oct 23, 2008 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Pedro Luiz Stringhini of Sao Paulo in Brazil has criticized the decision by a group of Catholic priests of the archdiocese to support the candidacy of pro-abortion politician Marta Suplicy, who is running for mayor of Sao Paulo.
In a statement, Bishop Stringhini related that “a meeting attended by more than 200 people, including 40 priests, 9 of which were from the Episcopal region of Belem,” took place on October 17.
The result of that meeting was a declaration of support for Marta Suplicy, which has been strongly criticized by lay groups and pro-life and pro-family organizations, as the mayoral candidate is an ardent supporter of abortion rights, homosexual unions and euthanasia.
After recalling that the 63 pastors in the region were notified that the posting of the letter in their parishes was prohibited, the bishop stressed that “the Church does not approve of the participation of priests in support of a political, partisan or electoral statement. The Gospel this Sunday exhorted us precisely to ‘render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
Lastly, the bishop asked forgiveness of Catholics who felt offended by the priests’ endorsement of Suplicy, and said, “in the name of all the parishes and their priests, I wish to convey peace and serenity through the same media that soon will be devoted to spreading incidents such as the aforementioned.”
Washington D.C., Oct 23, 2008 (CNA) - In a response to groups claiming that pro-life organizations should find ways to reduce abortions through government programs rather than trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, two prominent U.S. bishops have released a statement saying that Catholics must find ways to support pregnant woman as well as strive to overturn the 1973 Supreme Court decision.
In a statement released on Monday, Cardinal Justin Rigali, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activites, and Bishop William Murphy, the chairman of the bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, began by explaining the decision to legalize abortion and the bishop’s immediate opposition to it.
The two Church leaders then addressed how "some have called on the Church to abandon most of this effort" saying that "we should accept Roe as a permanent fixture of constitutional law, stop trying to restore recognition for the unborn child’s human rights, and confine our public advocacy to efforts to ‘reduce abortions’ through improved economic and social support for women and families."
Organizations such as Catholics United have stated that pro-lifers need to care for women and families through health care, jobs and education. The Catholics United website claims that even if the Supreme Court decision were overturned, only some states would vote for abortion to be illegal. In that case, the group says, “women living in these states could still go elsewhere to get an abortion. Overturning Roe cannot be seen as a substitute for policies that can work RIGHT NOW to end abortion, namely supporting women and families."
In their letter, the bishops explained that the Catholic community has always advocated support for pregnant women. "Catholic hospitals, charitable institutions, and thousands of pregnancy aid centers, provide life-saving care and compassionate alternatives to the violence of abortion." Additionally, the Church supports “universal health care coverage, generous family leave policies, increases in the minimum wage, humane welfare policies for women who are pregnant or caring for young children, expanded funding for WIC and other nutrition programs, and a federal children’s health insurance program that includes coverage for unborn children and their mothers."
However, the prelates continued, these efforts “are not an adequate or complete response to the injustice of Roe v. Wade for several important reasons."
The first reason given by the bishops is that the 1973 decision denies "an entire class of innocent human beings the most fundamental human right, the right to life. In fact, the act of killing these fellow human beings was transformed from a crime into a ‘right,’ turning the structure of human rights on its head. Roe v. Wade is a clear case of an ‘intrinsically unjust law’ we are morally obliged to oppose.”
“Reversing it is not a mere political tactic, but a moral imperative for Catholics and others who respect human life,” Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Murphy stated.
Another reason that the bishops gave was that many challenges to the decision have led "to significant modifications of Roe. Most recently," they noted, in the ban on partial-birth abortion.
A third reason, they continued, is the enormous increase in the “annual number of abortions in our society” since the Roe decision. “By the same token, even the limited pro-life laws allowed by the Court since Roe have been shown to reduce abortions substantially, leading to a steady decline in the abortion rate since 1980.”
This progress could be lost through the Freedom of Choice Act, "which supporters say would knock down hundreds of current pro-life laws and forbid any public program to ‘discriminate’ against abortion in providing services to women," the bishops explained.
Senator Barack Obama has promised that he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law as his first act as president.
The bishops concluded their letter noting that "providing support for pregnant women so they choose to have their babies is a necessary but not sufficient response to abortion."
"By protecting the child’s life to the maximum degree possible, improving life-affirming support for pregnant women, and changing the attitudes and prejudices imposed on many women to make them see abortion as an acceptable or necessary solution, we will truly help build a culture of life," they stated.
Vatican City, Oct 23, 2008 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II is a Pontiff remembered for helping bring about the fall of the Iron Curtain, but less well-known is the fact that on October 16, 1978 the late Pope intervened in a confrontation between Argentina and Chile to establish peace. To recall the occasion, Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter to the archbishop of Buenos Aires.
The message, which was made public today, was sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone in the Pope's name, to Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio S.J., archbishop of Buenos Aires.
The original dispute between Argentina and Chile involved three islands that each nation desired to claim so that they could have rights over the territorial seas. Argentina desired to say that it had claims to the Pacific, while Chile wanted territorial rights to the Atlantic.
With the two South American nations about to declare war on Christmas Eve of 1978, Pope John Paul II intervened, sending a special delegate, Cardinal Antonio Samore to resolve the dispute. After years of negotiations, the governments of Argentina and Chile agreed to divide the islands in a way that neutralized their claims to territorial oceanic rights.
On October 16, 2008, a celebration was held in Buenos Aires at the Pontifical Catholic University to mark the 30th anniversary of John Paul II's mediation.
In the letter sent in Pope Benedict’s name, Cardinal Bertone recalls that the reason for the celebration is "to recall the pontifical mediation that helped resolve a controversy which was running the risk of turning into a conflict, and to reflect upon the fruits of peace which matured then and have lasted to our own time."
The letter praised Cardinals Antonio Samore and Agostino Casaroli, who took over negotiations after Samore’s death, for their efforts to secure peace between the two countries.
Bertone described the peace process as "an admirable example of building peace by the principal and ever-relevant method of dialogue, which aims not at the supremacy of power or interest, but at affirming impartial justice, the sure and stable foundation for coexistence among peoples."
Cardinal Bertone also pointed out that the episode shows that "in all controversies dialogue does not prejudice rights, rather it broadens the field of reasonable possibilities for solving differences." The message closed by calling on "the new generation, …to look to the future with eyes of hope and to commit themselves to building the civilization of love, of which John Paul II was prophet, though not always heard."
Washington D.C., Oct 23, 2008 (CNA) - With elections less than two weeks away in the U.S., a new website has been launched to help instruct Hispanic Catholics on voting according their faith as they go to polls and decide on the future of the country.
The new website at www.votocatolico.com features videos, documents and prayers for Hispanic Catholics who live in the U.S. and who are registered to vote in the November 4 election.
The site does not endorse a particular candidate but rather reminds believers of the higher values that should be considered when casting their vote, such as the defense of life from the moment of conception and marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
It features a particular section on the teachings of the Church, which includes papal documents and statements from the bishops on the responsibility of Catholics in political life. There is also a novena prayer which voters are encouraged to pray as they prepare for the elections.
More information can be found at www.votocatolico.com
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 23, 2008 (CNA) - By a vote of 27-5, the Sonora State Congress in Mexico amended the state’s constitution and enshrined protection of human life from conception to natural death, closing the door to legal efforts to expand abortion.
“The State of Sonora protects the right to life by upholding that from the moment of fertilization an individual is under the protection of the law and is considered born with all corresponding legal effects, until natural death,” the new section of the constitution reads. However, it upholds impunity for abortion in cases of rape or life of the mother, “based on the judgment of the assisting doctor, who should also solicit the opinion of another doctor.”
Speaking to reporters, State Representative Edmundo Garcia Pavlovich said lawmakers “are showing our support for life, and we condemn any attack on it, protecting the life of human beings from the very moment of fertilization.”
Sonora now becomes the second Mexican state to enshrine protection of the unborn in its constitution. The first state to amend its constitution was Chihuahua.
Rome, Italy, Oct 23, 2008 (CNA) - At the conclusion of this week’s Wednesday General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI greeted one of his old friends from seminary, Father Hans Waxenberger, with whom he briefly conversed about “the years of his youth,” the L’Osservatore Romano reported.
The Vatican daily reported that Father Waxenberger remembers the young Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, as “a outstanding student, first in his class, an avid reader and always interested in the Church and in matters of faith.”
Father Waxenberger was secretary to Cardinal Michael Faulhaber, who was Archbishop of München and Freising in 1951 and ordained Joseph Ratzinger to the priesthood on June 29 of that year.
Cardinal Faulhaber, he recalled, was “a great friend of then-Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli (Pius XII), the Apostolic Nuncio to Bavaria, and it was because of his action that the Church in Germany was able to survive during the years of the Nazi regime.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 23, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Monterrey, Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, called on the country’s political parties and organizations to take action to avoid infiltration in their ranks by drug traders.
According to the cardinal, all political parties are susceptible to being invaded by “drug politics,” and therefore he encouraged the creation of laws to prevent this situation.
As the new election season opens amidst a feeling of insecurity in the country, Cardinal Robles said, “A risk that all parties, all political parties and the entire political world has is that of becoming a key place where drug trafficking can penetrate.”
He called for solutions that get at the root of the problem and measures that would prevent and punish such influence.
Paterson, N.J., Oct 23, 2008 (CNA) - A New Jersey bishop’s newspaper column which criticized Sen. Barack Obama’s support for pro-abortion legislation has prompted the activist group Americans United for Separation of Church and State to request an Internal Revenue Service investigation. The group alleges that Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli violated regulations forbidding tax-exempt organizations from tying political issues to the candidates who support them.
In Bishop Serratelli’s October 23rd column, titled “A Politician’s Promise: No Right to Life! No Freedom!”, he examined the status of abortion law in America today, noting that most Americans now favor “some kind of a ban on abortion” and that the number of abortions is in decline.
“There is truly a deep sensitivity to life in the soul of America,” he continued, claiming the proposed Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would “mortally wound this sensitivity.”
According to the bishop, the proposed federal FOCA bill would remove the rights of medical personnel and hospitals which have moral objections to performing abortions.
“Gone the freedom of conscience so essential for a civil society!” Bishop Serratelli predicted.
Further, health and safety regulations for abortion clinics would be removed, as would waiting periods and parental consent laws, Serratelli stated. Under FOCA, he said, taxpayers could be forced to fund abortions and babies who survive abortions could even be left to die.
The bishop then referred to Sen. Barack Obama’s support for FOCA. He did not mention Obama by name, instead calling him the “present democratic candidate.” The bishop compared Obama’s promise to support FOCA to King Herod’s promise to Herodias, which resulted in the execution of John the Baptist.
“In a speech before the Planned Parenthood Action Fund last year,” Bishop Serratelli wrote, “he made the promise that the first thing he would do as President would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. What a choice for a new President!”
“Today we live in a democracy,” the bishop continued. “We choose our leaders who make our laws. Every vote counts. Today, either we choose to respect and protect life, especially the life of the child in the womb of the mother or we sanction the loss of our most basic freedoms. At this point, we are still free to choose!”
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, speaking in a Wednesday press release, claimed that Bishop Serratelli’s column “clearly sends a message that opposes Obama’s candidacy.”
Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of the group, sent a letter to the IRS on Wednesday arguing that federal tax law requires tax-exempt groups to “avoid any issue advocacy that functions as political campaign intervention.”
“Bishop Serratelli is essentially telling congregants that they have to vote against Obama or they’ll lose basic freedoms,” said Lynn, according to the press release. “He went right up to the line and then leaped over it. The IRS should act.”
According to USA Today, Lynn also claimed it is “impossible to interpret this passage as anything but a command to vote against 'the present Democratic candidate' because of his promise to sign a certain piece of legislation disfavored by the Catholic Church's hierarchy.”
A spokesman for Americans United told USA Today that the group has filed about 90 similar claims with the IRS since 1996. Of these, four have previously accused Catholic bishops or dioceses of “electioneering.”
Earlier this year, the group asked the IRS to investigate Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin for criticizing former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was a Republican presidential candidate at the time.
The Diocese of Patterson issued a statement commenting that Bishop Serratelli’s column was focused on proposed abortion legislation, not the upcoming presidential election.
“It's absolutely, positively misleading to say that the bishop urged Catholics not to vote for Sen. Obama,” the diocese said.
Ramsey, N.J., Oct 23, 2008 (CNA) - Investor's Business Daily and the TechnoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics (IBD/TIPP) has just released a tracking poll that shows that John McCain has dramatically shortened the his deficit with Barack Obama, taking a significant lead among Catholics.
In the midst of the polling confusion, this poll has been regarded as relevant, since an analysis of Final Certified Results showed IBD's polling partner, TIPP to be the most accurate pollster for the 2004 election.
IBD/TIPP reported late on Thursday that McCain has cut into Obama's lead for a second day in a row and is now just 1.1 points behind. The spread was 3.7 on Wednesday and 6.0 on Tuesday.
"The Republican is making headway with middle and working class voters, and has surged 10 points in two days among those earning between $30,000 and $75,000," the report says.
McCain has also gone from an 11-point deﬁcit to a 9-point lead among Catholics, with only days remaining before the November 4 election.
The heated debate around abortion and the stepping up of bishops' statements on the incompatibility of pro-choice positions with Catholic doctrine is believed to be one of the possible reasons for the Republican candidate's surge among Catholics.
Greensburg, Pa., Oct 23, 2008 (CNA) - The U.S. presidential election is having influence in ways previously not imagined. Upon learning that Prof. Douglas Kmiec, a Catholic professor who has endorsed Barack Obama for president, was invited to speak at Seton Hill College, Bishop Lawrence Brandt issued a statement expressing his displeasure and saying that Kmiec “distorts Catholic teaching.”
According to Bishop Brandt, he received word on October 21 that Seton Hill University had extended an invitation to Prof. Douglas Kmiec to speak on its campus regarding faith and politics.
Although Seton Hill is in his diocese, Bishop Brandt said that he tried “in vain to reach the President of Seton Hill, Dr. JoAnne Boyle.”
Bishop Brandt took issue with inviting Kmiec because he believes that the professor “distorts Catholic teaching by making it synonymous with his own personal views.”
Kmiec has made the case that it is possible for Catholics to support Barack Obama in good conscience, in spite of the senator’s stance on abortion. The law professor argues that Obama’s plan to reduce abortions by supporting pregnant mothers and promoting sex education is a legitimate plan that Catholics can support.
In answer to Kmiec’s claim, the Bishop of Greensburg said, “There is no ‘other’ Catholic position except the one which appears in authentic Church documents. His misrepresentations of Catholic doctrine do a grave disservice to the Catholic community and far beyond.”
Bishop Brandt also criticized the university for giving a platform to Kmiec, citing the U.S. bishops’ document “Catholics in Political Life,“ which says that “the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”
CNA was able to reach Becca Baker, the Associate Director of Media Relations for the university, who said that the university was aware of the bishop’s statement. Ms. Baker said that statement would be issued, but it was not received by CNA before press time.
Denver, Colo., Oct 23, 2008 (CNA) - The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders has published its first two “position papers” in its newsletters to further its mission to serve the Latino communities and the common good of the United States.
The first document, written by Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput, lists ten points Catholics should remember about faith in public life. Explaining the non-partisan nature of the Church, he counsels readers to be faithful and well-formed about Catholic teaching and to remember their faith’s public consequences.
“The Catholic faith is always personal, but never private,” he explains.
CALL’s second document, written by Archbishop of San Antonio José H. Gomez, discusses Catholic teaching on the death penalty. Noting that Catholic teaching does not entirely exclude the death penalty, he says the practice cannot be treated as the moral equivalent of abortion or euthanasia.
However, the archbishop insists the death penalty must be avoided to establish a true “culture of life.”http://www.call-usa.org/