St. Louis, Mo., Oct 28, 2008 (CNA) - A pro-life organization at St. Louis University is working to ensure that no pregnant college student has to choose between her baby and her education. The student group recently announced its efforts to establish an endowed scholarship to assist pregnant women with their educational costs.
Students for Life recently announced the new scholarship at an event during the university’s Respect Life Week, celebrated October 3 -12, reports the St. Louis Review.
Members of the organization explained that the need for a scholarship is out there. “There are students reaching out to us, saying ‘I could use this scholarship," Kathleen Neuner, past president of Students for Life, told the St. Louis Review. "The need is there."
According to Feminists for Life, nearly 10 % of college women become pregnant each year. However, Students for Life reports, little is being done on campuses to meet this need. Particularly at SLU, “there are no significant resources available to pregnant and parenting students at Saint Louis University (financial, housing, or childcare),” the organization says.
Additionally, Students for Life’s website states, pregnant students are rarely seen on campus leading to the conclusion that “SLU is not a welcoming environment for pregnant or parenting students,” and that many students have to choose “between staying at SLU and achieving their goals and having a baby.”
So far, Students for Life has raised nearly a quarter of its goal of $25,000, the minimum amount necessary to establish an endowment. When the goal is reached, the endowment will provide $1,000 to students in need of the financial resources.
The scholarship also is just one of several achievements of the group, which in recent years "has turned into a real training ground for leaders in the pro-life movement," staff adviser and SLU campus minister Steve Fowler told the Review.
The group has also been involved in several other projects on campus and within the community including creating and distributing brochures, hosting a baby shower at a local women’s shelter, participating in the campaign to ban human cloning and organizing talks on contraception.
For more information on Students for Life or to make a contribution to their endowed scholarship fund, visit: pages.slu.edu/org/sfl/about.html
Washington D.C., Oct 28, 2008 (CNA) - The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is now considering a legal case claiming that the erection of roadside crosses in Utah in memory of fallen state troopers is unconstitutional.
American Atheists are the plaintiffs in the case, while Col. Scott Duncan, head of the Utah Highway Patrol and the Utah Highway Patrol Association, originates with a cross erected by the private Utah Highway Patrol Association to memorialize a state trooper killed near the Utah-Nevada border in 1974. A 12-foot tall white cross with a biographical plaque was placed near the highway site of his killing.
The patrol association later decided to erect crosses for all their fallen comrades, with 14 crosses having been placed at the side of public highways across the state.
American Atheists is challenging the practice, claiming constitutional violations.
The Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty on Friday filed an amicus brief on behalf of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, arguing that the crosses do not violate the constitution because they are an expression of private speech.
The Becket Fund filed the brief on behalf of the other states because of their concern that a ruling against the practice would violate their citizens’ right of free speech.
“If this Court ignores the distinction between private and government speech, these private memorials will certainly be subject to attack,” the brief states.
"American Atheists argue that the crosses violate the Establishment Clause because they are a religious symbol. Our amicus brief seeks to change the debate," Luke Goodrich, legal counsel at the Becket Fund, said in a press release. "It is irrelevant whether the cross is a religious symbol or a secular symbol. In this case, the cross is a form of private speech. And when the government allows private speech on public property, it cannot discriminate between secular and religious speech and muzzle only the religious."
St. Paul, Minn., Oct 28, 2008 (CNA) - Al Franken, comedian and U.S. Senate candidate for Minnesota, has been criticized for his “diatribes” against Catholics.
Katherine Kersten, writing last Wednesday in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, described Franken’s several attempts at comic references to Christian and Catholic belief, such as a “Dog Confessional” skit depicting dogs confessing to priests and derisive comments about “Jesus’ skeleton.”
Citing one of his books, Kersten claimed Franken has described greeting a New York audience with the words, "Isn't Cardinal O'Connor an a**hole?"
Franken is running for the U.S. Senate as a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which is affiliated with the national Democratic Party.
Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, added to the criticism.
A Monday press release from the Catholic League accused Franken of “virulent anti-Catholicism,” citing his mockery of the Eucharist, his ridicule of the Crucifixion, and his belittlement of practicing Catholics such as the Knights of Columbus.
The Catholic League also charged that Franken has “slandered” all priests as child molesters.
“Franken has a long and ugly history of Catholic bashing,” Donohue claimed.
“Franken’s diatribes against Catholics are not in jest,” he continued. “As Hillary Clinton said about him last week, he tells ‘truth through jokes.’ And the truth is that when Franken mocks the Body and Blood of Jesus, and jokes about the discovery of ‘the complete skeleton of Jesus Christ still nailed to the cross,’ his mean-spirited digs are designed to be injurious.”
, Oct 28, 2008 (CNA) - In a strongly worded article published next to a moving photo of an unborn baby in the womb, Cardinal Edward Egan, Archbishop of New York, compared tolerating abortions to the reasoning used by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin to commit mass murders.
The cardinal begins his column for the latest edition of the archdiocesan newspaper “Catholic New York” by explaining that “the picture on this page is an untouched photograph of a being that has been within its mother for 20 weeks. Please do me the favor of looking at it carefully.”
“Have you any doubt that it is a human being?” Cardinal Egan asks.
“If your answer to this last query is negative, that is, if you have no doubt that the authorities in a civilized society would be duty-bound to protect this innocent human being if someone were to wish to kill it, I would suggest—even insist—that there is not a lot more to be said about the issue of abortion in our society. It is wrong, and it cannot—must not—be tolerated.”
The Archbishop of New York continues by asking: “Why do I not get into defining ‘human being,’ defining ‘person,’ defining ‘living,’ and the rest?”
“Because, I respond, I am sound of mind and endowed with a fine set of eyes, into which I do not believe it is well to cast sand. I looked at the photograph, and I have no doubt about what I saw and what are the duties of a civilized society if what I saw is in danger of being killed by someone who wishes to kill it or, if you prefer, someone who ‘chooses’ to kill it.”
After describing a recent video depicting the humanity of babies in their mothers’ wombs, the Archbishop of New York says that “if you can convince yourself that these beings are something other than living and innocent human beings, something, for example, such as ‘mere clusters of tissues,’ you have a problem far more basic than merely not appreciating the wrongness of abortion. And that problem is—forgive me—self-deceit in a most extreme form.”
Cardinal Egan continues: “Adolf Hitler convinced himself and his subjects that Jews and homosexuals were other than human beings. Joseph Stalin did the same as regards Cossacks and Russian aristocrats. And this despite the fact that Hitler and his subjects had seen both Jews and homosexuals with their own eyes, and Stalin and his subjects had seen both Cossacks and Russian aristocrats with theirs.”
“It is high time to stop pretending that we do not know what this nation of ours is allowing—and approving—with the killing each year of more than 1,600,000 innocent human beings within their mothers. We know full well that to kill what is clearly seen to be an innocent human being or what cannot be proved to be other than an innocent human being is as wrong as wrong gets,” he adds.
“Do me a favor,” Cardinal Egan writes, “Look at the photograph again. Look and decide with honesty and decency what the Lord expects of you and me as the horror of ‘legalized’ abortion continues to erode the honor of our nation. Look, and do not absolve yourself if you refuse to act.”
Read Cardinal Egan’s full column: http://www.archny.org/news-events/columns-and-blogs/cardinals-monthly-column/index.cfm?i=9314
Vatican City, Oct 28, 2008 (CNA) - Calling Vatican II “an extraordinary ecclesial event,” Pope Benedict XVI has written to members of an international congress on the pontificate of John Paul II and the council, saying that the council’s documents must continue to be applied to the Church to lead people to Christ and give them hope.
The Pontiff sent the message to the St. Bonaventure Pontifical Theological Faculty which is hosting an international congress that opened today in Rome to discuss the theme, “Vatican Council II on the Pontificate of John Paul II.”
In his letter, Benedict XVI noted that John Paul II “welcomed the fundamental tenets of Vatican II,” making him a “qualified interpreter and coherent witness of the Council.”
John Paul II’s “constant concern was to make everyone aware of the advantages that would ensue from welcoming the conciliar vision, not only for the good of the Church, but also for that of civil society and of the people in it."
"We are all debtors of that extraordinary ecclesial event," Pope Benedict said as he described how the “vast doctrinal patrimony” found in the council’s Dogmatic Constitutions, Declarations and Decrees, “still stimulates us to a deep appraisal of the Word of the Lord in order to apply it to the Church today.”
Before concluding his message, the Pope also discussed St. Bonaventure’s teachings and Vatican II saying that the Church Father “can still offer you valid guidelines with which to approach the conciliar documents in order to seek satisfying answers to the many questions of our time.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 28, 2008 (CNA) - The Baja California State Congress has voted to reform its constitution to guarantee the right to life of the unborn, making it the next Mexican state after Sonora to head off attempts to legalize abortion.
Representatives from all the major political parties voted to amend article 7 of the State Constitution to protect the life of the unborn “from conception to natural death, without exceptions.”
The move comes as the two Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua recently amended their constitutions to protect the right life in the wake of the legalization of abortion in Mexico City.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 28, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Institute for Family Policy in Spain, Eduardo Hertfelder, has demanded that the Socialist government publish the figures on the number of abortions that took place in 2007 and inform the public in order to put an end to the manipulation of the debate on the new law on abortion.
Hertfelder said that with abortion becoming the main cause of death in Spain, the government’s move to “kidnap” statistics on the practice and its insistance on an “obsolete and erroneous policy that has been shown to be a failure” was “unprecedented.”
He went on to note that the number of abortions in the Spanish communities of Madrid, Andalucia and Valencia have increased 11 percent since 2006.
Taking into account these statistics, he said, the numbers for 2007 are expected to be around 110,000.
Since 1985 the number of abortions that have occurred in Spain has reached 1,200,000, with 301 taking place each day. For this reason, Hertfelder demanded that the Ministry of Health “drastically reorient its health and sexuality policy,” in order to stop and diminish “this huge increase in abortions, which results in 300 taking place each day in Spain. New laws expanding access to abortion are not the solution, he said.
Vatican City, Oct 28, 2008 (CNA) - Addressing the violent attacks against Christians in India was the focus of this year’s message to Hindus for the celebration of Diwali from Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the pontifical council for Inter-religious Dialogue.
This year Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, falls on October 28, and for the occasion, Cardinal Tauran has penned a message in English entitled, "Christians and Hindus: Together in Favor of Non-violence."
The celebration of Diwali should be an opportunity to consider “how we can live harmoniously in today's society, witnessing to the truth, light and hope,” Cardinal Tauran wrote.
Saying that “religions are often blamed for society's ills,” Tauran said that “we know that it is rather the manipulation of religion, contrary to its fundamental beliefs, that is used to carry out so many forms of violence."
The latest wave of violence against Christians by Hindu extremists, which began on August 23 in India, has left about 100 Christians dead and scores of churches demolished. The violence began after the radical Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was killed by Marxist rebels and his death was blamed by his followers on Christians.
The latest violence led Cardinal Tauran to remind Christians and Hindus of their shared belief in non-violence.
"In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus called on His disciples to love their enemies, to pray for those who hated them. ... In the Hindu tradition, non- violence is one of the more important teachings,” he wrote.
Cardinal Tauran also pointed to Mahatma Gandhi, who he described as “the Father of the Indian nation,” who is “respected and held in high regard by people of different generations around the world for his complete dedication to the service of humanity.”
“During the course of his struggle for freedom,” the cardinal reminded Hindus, “he realized that 'an eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind'. Throughout his life, he developed among others, the concept of 'Ahimsa' (non-violence).”
"He is a model for non-violence and he led by example to the point of laying down his life because of his refusal to engage in violence.”
"Non-violence is not merely a tactical maneuver but is the attitude of one who, as the Pope affirmed, 'is so convinced of God's love and power' that he is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one's enemy is the revolution of love, a love that does not rely ultimately on human resources but is a gift of God,” the cardinal asserted.
Highlighting the fact that “[n]on-violence is encouraged by many other religions,” the Council for Inter-religious Dialogue president called on religious leaders “to uphold the truth found in our respective religions and to “foster non-violence among our followers and support it in their actions.”
The cardinal closed his letter for Diwali with an appeal to Hindus to help Christians “do all we can to promote the sacredness of human life, the good of the poor and lowly in our midst and collaborate, through dialogue, to foster the dignity of the human person regardless of race or caste, creed or class.”
“As Hindus and Christians, especially in the present situation, let us be won over by love without reserve, with the conviction that non-violence is the only way to build a global society that is more compassionate, more just and more caring."
, Oct 28, 2008 (CNA) - Fordham University’s plans to award Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer an ethics prize at a Wednesday night dinner in New York continue to draw criticism for honoring the justice who has supported abortion rights to the point that he defends partial-birth abortions as constitutionally protected.
Archbishop of New York Cardinal Edward Egan has reportedly called on the university’s leaders to ensure “a mistake of this sort will not happen again,” the Associated Press reports.
The Cardinal Newman Society is one group leading the campaign against awarding Breyer the Fordham-Stein Ethics Prize. The group claims more than 1,100 Fordham alumni and others have signed a petition to the university administration calling for the award to be revoked.
The petition cites Justice Breyer’s majority opinion in the 2000 case Sternberg v. Carhart that struck down a Nebraska law banning partial-birth abortion and also notes that the justice dissented from a 2007 Supreme Court decision upholding the ban.
“Fordham is honoring Justice Breyer for his leadership on legal ethics,” Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly told CNA. “Not only was Justice Breyer's decision defending partial-birth abortion clearly unethical from a Catholic perspective—in accord with the truth to which a Catholic university must commit itself—but by legislating from the bench to protect a false 'right to choose,' Justice Breyer is no model of legal ethics either.”
According to The Ram, the student newspaper at Fordham, the campus pro-life group Fordham Respect for Life reports that several Jesuit priests, faculty, and staff at the university have expressed support for the protest.
“Alumni and faculty are now much more aware of the problem and have expressed their displeasure with the situation,” a Fordham RFL student said, speaking of the petition. “We think that we have brought the matter to people's attention.”
The student added that the group feels its media campaign to pressure the administration has been “very successful.”
“And we hope that we have helped initiate discussion throughout the University community which will lead to positive policy changes for the future,” the student continued.
Sheldon Momaney, president of the Respect for Life Club, explained the reasons for the protest to The Ram:
“We would never deny that Justice Breyer is a man of great intellect, a good lawyer and that he contributed a lot to jurisprudence," he said.
"We're interested in the teaching of the Church, which says that the right to life is a fundamental right, from which all other human rights extend. Justice Breyer had multiple times in his career when he actively opposed the right to life. His behavior is not in line with the teaching of the Church - he's not Catholic, so it's nothing about him personally.
“But the onus is on the University in this case, not on Justice Breyer. They are just plain denying their mission statement and the unchanging teaching of the Church.”
The university’s mission statement reads in part: “Guided by its Catholic and Jesuit traditions, Fordham fosters the intellectual, moral and religious development of its students and prepares them for leadership in a global society.”
Jennifer Portillo, Respect for Life Club treasurer, also weighed in:
“Justice Breyer has consistently supported decisions that allow for late-term abortions. Condoning the ending of any life goes directly against the value of justice that Catholicism pursues. Fordham must commit to being 'the hottest Catholic school in America,' by being a true Catholic institution. It is the responsibility of the student body to object to an award that blatantly disregards Fordham's stated values, and it is for this reason that I support Respect for Life's cause.”
Washington D.C., Oct 28, 2008 (CNA) - Action star Chuck Norris has written an essay defending the right to life, attacking Sen. Barack Obama’s stand on abortion and urging voters to “vote their values” in the upcoming election.
Writing for WorldNetDaily, Norris disagreed that abortion is an “old” issue that should be dropped.
“We can't just be concerned about our finances,” he wrote. “We also must be concerned about America's future and those who will occupy it. Our posterity matters. Their rights matter. And that includes their ‘unalienable Rights,’ with which they have been ‘endowed by their Creator,’ and among them are the quintessential rights: ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness’.”
Denying that abortion is about a woman’s “right to choose,” Norris insisted abortion is instead about a “more fundamental” right to life, adding that such a right is identified in the Declaration of Independence and in the U.S. Constitution.
“It is a violation of government's primary purpose: to protect innocent life,” he continued.
The action star then cited Thomas Jefferson, who in 1809 wrote: “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government."
Norris argued that Jefferson’s belief should still stand today, adding that “our next president needs to uphold those same concerns, not say that such arenas are ‘above his paygrade’.”
Norris attacked Obama’s stand on abortion, claiming the Democratic presidential candidate has “the most liberal views and voting record on abortion of any president in American history.”
Norris cited Obama’s opposition to legislation similar to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which protects infants who survive an abortion attempt, and also noted Obama’s opposition to the partial-birth abortion ban and parental notification laws.
“He does not support the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion through Medicaid,” Norris continued, citing Obama’s 2007 promise to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund to sign the Freedom of Choice Act.
According to Norris, the Freedom of Choice Act would again legalize partial-birth abortion.
“With the next president likely adding two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, it is clear that as president, Obama would appoint and support the most liberal judges and legal eagles, resulting in a pro-abortion advantage in our courts that would push abortion liberties to every extent of the law and land,” Norris claimed.
Chuck Norris then argued that the Founding Fathers held that humanity is special and unique.
“We need to get back to a view of humanity that emphasizes the immortal worth of every human being,” Norris urged, noting that he has dedicated an entire chapter to the reclamation of the value of human life in his book “Black Belt Patriotism.”
“Winning the election is not just about what the underdogs -- such as John McCain and Sarah Palin, two maverick pro-life advocates -- should do. But it's about what the citizens who are fighting for the underdogs can do. We the people must stand up, go back to the basics, and once again vote our values,” Norris concluded.
Havana, Cuba, Oct 28, 2008 (CNA) - The founder of the Christian Liberation Movement and promoter of the Varela Project—which seeks peaceful democratic change in Cuba—Oswaldo Paya, criticized the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela and Spain for offending Cubans by their lack of support for the re-launching of the initiative.
Last week at a press conference held by the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicolas Maduro and his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos in Madrid, Maduro said that the Varela Project had “little credibility,” and Moratinos decline to comment.
Oswaldo Paya responded to the comments in a letter to reporters saying, Maduro “offended Cuban citizens who have promoted the ‘Varela Project’ and the Spanish minister seconded me by his silence, thus avoiding having to speak the truth.”
“These officials have offended thousands of Cuban citizens who have signed this petition for a referendum, which is also a demand for fundamental rights and which the Cuban government is denying its citizens,” Paya said.
“Lord willing, the people of Venezuela will learn of this,” he continued, “and whatever is left of the free press there will report this so that the Venezuelans will see the rights they will totally lose” if they live under a regime like the one in Cuba.
Paya explained that the “Venezuelan government needs totalitarianism to continue in Cuba because Cuba is its sanctuary and the model for its plan to have permanent and total power.”
Madrid, Spain, Oct 28, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Institute for Family Policy in the Spanish region of Cataluna, Liberto Senderos, has denounced regional government officials for organizing a workshop promoting homosexuality at a family festival in Barcelona.
According to officials, the “workshop” is intended for children of all ages and will focus on “family diversity.” The workshop’s activities will include card games that families can play with their children to teach them to “understand and accept today’s diverse family structures,” which include “single-parent and homosexual parent” families.
Senderos said the workshop is an attempt to “indoctrinate children to make them think that anything can be a family and to support the interests and proposals of minority groups.”
“Instead of helping and promoting the family,” he said, “the government wants to impose a new model of society at the service of its ideology, disregarding the opinion of the majority of parents in Cataluna.”
Senderos said the event is just another example of the government’s attempts to marginalize the family and promote of other kinds of relationships.