Archive of November 3, 2008

Uruguayan lawmakers to vote on legalization of abortion

Montevideo, Uruguay, Nov 3, 2008 (CNA) - The Uruguayan House of Representatives is set to vote November 4 on a reproductive health bill that would legalize abortion in the country. Pro-abortion lawmakers have been strategizing how to get the measure approved despite President Tabare Vasquez’s threat to veto it.
According to the newspaper El Pais, “There will be suspense up to the last minute, but next week the law that would legalize abortion has a great chance of coming up for vote. In any case, the ruling party faces a complicated situation:  the presidential veto continues to exist.”
The newspaper reported that if all 99 representatives show up for the vote, passage could be difficult as supporters would be just shy of enough votes to get the measure approved. Only if some representatives are absent for the vote would its passage be almost assured.  However, there are not enough votes in favor of the bill to override the certain presidential veto. 
Pro-life officials told CNA the same bill was rejected by the Senate in 2007 and “was fraudulently sent by senators to the House as if it had been approved.”
Pro-abortion senators were able to bring the measure before the full body again arguing that not all the senators were present for the vote, and the measure was passed.  In the House of Representatives, the bill went before the Committee on Health Care, where the vote was tied.  Normally this means the measure would die, but the Committee decided to nonetheless to send the measure to the floor for a full vote.

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Doug Kmiec takes Archbishop Chaput to task for his remarks on voting

Denver, Colo., Nov 3, 2008 (CNA) - Doug Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University and a supporter of Sen. Barack Obama, has criticized Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput, claiming that the archbishop’s comments on the election do not allow “proportionate reasons” to be considered in voting for a presidential candidate. He also charges that the outspoken prelate diverges from the counsel provided by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger concerning Catholics’ voting responsibilities.

Writing in an essay in National Catholic Reporter, Kmiec said the disagreement between himself and Archbishop Chaput is not over the “essence of Church instruction,” that is, “the promotion of human life.” Rather, their disagreement is over “the preferred means of implementing it.”

In Kmiec’s view, the archbishop argues for “the necessity of promoting life through law,” which primarily means working to reverse Roe v. Wade. He also claims Archbishop Chaput “discounts reducing the incidence of abortion by cultural (economic and social) means.”

According to Kmiec, this legal course has an “unsuccessful history,” saying the court has refused to overturn Roe v. Wade five times. The legal route also features “genuine uncertainty” because the prospects of judicial vacancies are speculative and as many as three more Supreme Court votes may be required to overturn the decision which imposed permissive abortion laws nationwide.

“The deliberations of conscience lead me to conclude that an alternative way to promote life must exist,” Kmiec remarked.

He argued this alternate route was found in Sen. Obama’s policies, such as adequate prenatal and postnatal care, funded maternity leave, and a “caring” adoption procedure.

“This kind of assistance especially into the lives of poor women has been shown to have significant impact in the reduction of abortion,” he noted, saying this reasoning means a Catholic can vote for Obama with a “clear conscience.”

“The Catholic difficulty stems not from having to avoid casting a ballot with the intent of not promoting or encouraging abortion - for, honestly now, who does that? - but instead having one's vote proclaimed cooperation with sin or evil without what the Church calls ‘proportionate’ reasons,” Kmiec argued.

He wrote that neither major party candidate is a “perfect Catholic candidate” on abortion, with “some remote cooperation with sin” being necessary regardless of the candidate. Obama supports the status quo on abortion while his Republican opponent Sen. John McCain’s position, if implemented, “leaves the states effectively pro-choice.”

Kmiec continued his argument by quoting from then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s counsel on voting. In a 2004 letter to Archbishop of Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the future Pope Benedict XVI wrote:

“When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion . . . but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

In Kmiec’s view, this means that Catholics “are not morally precluded from picking an imperfect candidate.” He claimed the statement also shows “some divergence” between Archbishop Chaput and Cardinal Ratzinger.

Kmiec argued that Cardinal Ratzinger allows individual conscience to decide what is a “proportionate reason” to vote for an imperfect candidate, but claimed Archbishop Chaput thinks “Catholics in the 2008 presidential race do not have both major candidates from which to choose - they have the one offered up by the Republicans.”

Archbishop Chaput’s “obvious and justifiable” concern that there is no proportionate reason that outweighs the 1.2 million abortions each year, Kmiec claimed, ignores that such injustices are already built into the “ethical calculus” of Cardinal Ratzinger.

Otherwise, in Kmiec’s view, a repetitious argument results: “Q. When can I vote given millions of abortions? A. When there are not millions of abortions.”

The “other reasons” to vote for a pro-abortion rights candidate must be compared, Kmiec argued, claiming Archbishop Chaput balanced not competing candidate policies as they relate to abortion, but rather weighed abortion against each candidate’s policy.

“The former permits intelligent voting in a universe of imperfect candidates; the latter disenfranchises Catholics from the American electoral exercise until, well, ‘God mend thine every flaw’,” he wrote, quoting lines from America the Beautiful.

Reversing Roe v. Wade does not save the 1.2 million children, and there is “no direct improvement in the protection of human life” from what Kmiec called the “McCain-Chaput course of action.”

Obama’s cultural and economic assistance to Americans, he continued, would be of more help. “Obama's policy saves at least some children as against saving none,” he wrote, arguing Obama is the “better alternative in terms of overall Catholic social teaching.”  

Kmiec also criticized critics of Obama who cite the senator’s support for the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) as a reason to vote against him.

“At the Democratic convention, leading members of the House and Senate publicly expressed the view that FOCA is so deeply flawed - some scholars believing it unconstitutional and most lawmakers finding it unacceptable as a matter of policy - that it will never reach the president's desk. This is a fact that has some plausibility given its history, but of course, one that may change with the composition of the new Congress. This is more fairly an issue regarding the election of others, and not primarily Obama or McCain.”

Saying that voting does not mean support for all of a candidate’s policies, Kmiec suggested that Obama’s policies and abilities make him a “source of hope” for all Americans, “except those who are wittingly or unwittingly ensnared by the artificial cultural divisions of the past or trapped within the narrative framework of one political party.”

Sources at the Archdiocese of Denver told CNA that Archbishop Chaput has no plans to respond to Kmiec’s essay.

However, two prominent Catholic commentators told CNA their view of Kmiec’s pro-Obama efforts.

“Throughout this campaign, I fear that Doug Kmiec has wandered ever farther through Lewis Carroll's looking glass, into a world in which the White Queen teaches herself 'impossible things before breakfast' -- impossible things, like the manifest absurdity that Barack Obama, NARAL's poster child, is, in fact, the real pro-life candidate,” said George Weigel to CNA.

“If and when a President Obama and a Democratic Congress (led by a self-professed 'ardent Catholic') begin dismantling every legal achievement of the pro-life movement over the past three decades, it will be interesting indeed to see what Professor Kmiec has to say. As for Archbishop Chaput, he is a model bishop, and the Church in America should pray for two hundred more bishops with his insight and his courage,” Weigel continued.

Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, also weighed in:

“Doug Kmiec is not just arguing with Archbishop Chaput but with at least 100 other bishops who have spoken out strongly against a Kmiec-like position.

“We have never seen anything [that] so many bishops [are] willing to risk an IRS audits to speak out against the idea that other issues are proportionate to abortion or the absurd notion that Obama is anti-abortion.

“The first thing Obama will do is sign the Freedom of Choice Act which will overturn every tiny but meaningful restriction on abortion that has ever passed the Congress and the States. This includes things like waiting periods for adolescents and laws against taking a minor across state lines for an abortion. Kmiec's position that Obama is anti-abortion is tragically wrong on its face. In the not too distant future Kmiec will be looked upon as a tragic figure and Chaput as a brave hero,” Ruse told CNA.

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Death is not the end of life, Pope Benedict says at Mass for cardinals

Vatican City, Nov 3, 2008 (CNA) - This morning the Holy Father presided over the November Mass offered for the souls of the cardinals and bishops who died over the past year.  During the Mass, a papal tradition, the Pontiff assured the congregation that their deceased brethren had passed “from death to life because they chose Christ.”

Benedict XVI opened his homily by recalling the names of the ten cardinals who passed away during the past 12 months: Stephen Fumio Hamao, Alfons Maria Stickler S.D.B., Aloísio Lorscheider O.F.M., Peter Porekuu Dery, Adolfo Antonio Suarez Rivera, Ernesto Corripio Ahumada, Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, Bernardin Gantin, Antonio Innocenti and Antonio Jose Gonzalez Zumarraga.

Pope Benedict continued by noting that when death is viewed from a perspective of “evangelical wisdom,” it gives us “beneficial guidance because it forces us to look reality in the face, it compels us to recognize the transience of what appears so great and strong to the eyes of the world. In the face of death all reasons for human pride fall away, and what is really worthwhile emerges.”

We are not God, the Pontiff continued, we are merely creatures passing through the world.  “To recognize this difference between us and Him is the primary condition for being with Him and in Him. It is also a condition for becoming like Him, but only by welcoming the grace of His free gift.”

This love and grace from God is freely given and we must also “make of ourselves a free gift to others,” the Holy Father went on.   “In this way we know God as we are known by Him, ... and we pass from death to life like Jesus Christ, Who defeated death with His resurrection thanks to the heavenly Father's glorious power of love."

This is a “great comfort to us as we face the mystery of death, especially when it strikes people who are dear to us. The Lord today assures us that our lamented brethren, for whom we are praying in a special way in this Mass, passed from death to life because they chose Christ ... and consecrated themselves to the service of others. And therefore, even if they have to accept their share of redress due to human frailty - which marks us all, helping to keep us humble - their faithfulness to Christ allows them to enter into the freedom of the children of God."

The Holy Father ended his homily by praying that our eyes never stray from our heavenly destination. "Let us pray that we, pilgrims upon the earth, always keep our hearts and eyes turned towards the final goal to which we all aspire, the House of the Father, Heaven."

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Pro-life groups denounce economic interests of ‘experts’ on subcommittee on abortion in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Nov 3, 2008 (CNA) - The Right to Life group in Spain has called for two experts on a congressional subcommittee analyzing a new law on abortion to recuse themselves from the positions because of their associations with the abortion industry.

 The group pointed to two of the experts on the committee, Santiago Barambio, president of the Association of Accredited Clinics for Pregnancy Termination, and Guillermo Sanchez Andres, president of the Administrative Council of the Dator Clinic—one of the most profitable abortion companies in Spain—as having economic interests in getting on-demand abortion legalized.

The subcommittee also includes two members of the Planned Parenthood Federation, which Right to Life described as “one of the international organizations that has pressured the most for ‘free and unrestricted abortion’ in all countries.”

On Thursday, October 30, Right to Life marched to the doors of the Spanish Congress to call for transparency on the sub-committee of "experts."

With slogans like "Life yes, abortion no," "A committee without manipulation" and "Yes to life, for women," the 200 protesters defended the right to life and the right of women to informed motherhood.

The president of, Ignacio Arsuaga, said the demonstrations would continue until the government withdraws the unjust and totalitarian draft "for the establishment of free abortion.”

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Iraqi bishops describe anti-Christian violence as an intentional political move

Rome, Italy, Nov 3, 2008 (CNA) - The Conference of Catholic Bishops of Iraq issued a statement last week denouncing the anti-Christian violence the country is suffering from as part of an intentional political plan that "seeks to create pain and conflict between the different components of the nation."

According to the SIR news agency, the bishops said it was their “moral and patriotic responsibility” to affirm that “Christians are an integral part of the entire Iraqi patrimony,” adding that “public officials must move quickly to prevent Christians from suffering violence and to protect them. What has happened (in Mosul) contrasts with the responsibility of the State to protect all citizens.”

The Iraqi bishops also encouraged Christians to continue working with their fellow Iraqis, “in the joy and in the sorrows, to reject living in isolation,” and to give life to Article 50 of the Iraqi Constitution which “guarantees our representation and participation in the responsibilities of the nation.”

The bishops expressed their thanks to organizations and individuals in Iraq and around the world “for their solidarity in this time of trial, for having pointed out that grave dangers of the attacks, and for calling for a return of the displaced and for reparations for the harm that has been done.”

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New poll shows 13 point McCain lead among Catholics

Los Angeles, Calif., Nov 3, 2008 (CNA) - As the Tuesday elections approach, a new tracking poll from the Investor’s Business Daily shows Sen. John McCain leading Sen. Barack Obama among Catholics by 51 percent to 38 percent.

Among all voters, Obama leads McCain 46.7 percent to 44.6 percent. Among Protestants, McCain leads 55 to 36 percent.

The October 29-November 1 poll of 844 likely voters was conducted by TechnoMetrica Institute of Policy and Politics (TIPP) and claims a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. TIPP was named the most accurate pollster of the 2004 election for coming within three tenths of a percentage point of George W. Bush’s actual margin of victory.

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Illegal status of Obama’s aunt highlights hot topic with Hispanics

Washington D.C., Nov 3, 2008 (CNA) - With just hours to go before the U.S. election, Sen. Barack Obama has dared to comment on the politically sensitive subject of immigration, saying that he supports the deportation of his aunt, who has illegally been living in the U.S. for the last four years.

In an interview with CBS News' Katie Couric on Sunday, Obama said: "If she is violating laws those laws have to be obeyed. We're a nation of laws. Obviously that doesn't lessen my concern for her, I haven't been able to be in touch with her. But I'm a strong believer you have to obey the law."


Obama’s reaction comes after the Associated Press revealed last Friday that his half aunt, Zeituni Onyango, is living in public housing in Boston after having been denied political asylum and told to leave the country by a federal immigration judge in 2004.


The AP also discovered that Onyango had donated $260 in small amounts to the Obama campaign, which is illegal for non-U.S. citizens to do under campaign finance law. The Obama campaign has announced it is returning the money.

The plight of Obama’s aunt raises the situation of immigrants to the national stage at the eleventh hour of the election campaign.


Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio, who is an American citizen with a Hispanic background, recently addressed the national debate surrounding immigration, calling it “bad for the soul of America.”  


“There is too much anger. Too much resentment. Too much fear. Too much hate. It’s eating people up. And it’s just no good for people to be consumed by fear and hate. It’s no good for their souls. And it’s no good for our country, my friends,” Archbishop Gomez said at the Missouri Catholic Conference in early October.


Archbishop Gomez also lamented that American laws at the state and federal level are beginning to “reflect these kind of fears and resentments.”


“I don’t know how many anti-immigrant laws have been enacted this year. I’ve lost track. The last I heard, it was something like 200 new laws in 40 states. And that’s just this year. In 2007, I believe there were 240 new laws in 46 states,” Gomez stated.


This “national crisis,” Gomez said, “calls for national leadership. I understand that the presidential candidates don’t want to touch this issue before the election. … But this is the hard work of democracy. As soon as this election is over and a new government sworn in, we need to insist that our leaders roll up their sleeves and get to work on comprehensive immigration reform.”


Obama’s stand on whether or not his aunt should be deported could cost him votes within the Latino electorate, which views him as having a Latino-friendly stand on immigration.

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Archdiocese of Mexico City issues clarification about St. Jude and the ‘St. Death’

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 3, 2008 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Mexico issued a statement last week clarifying that St. Jude Thaddeus is not the “patron saint” of criminals or drug lords and that devotion to “Saint Death” is not compatible with the Catholic faith.

The statement noted that “many people who commit crimes believe that St. Jude is their patron saint.”  “In no way would this saint be interceding before God in heaven for those who act contrary to the commandments of Christ, violating the precepts of Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

During the recent celebration of the feast of St. Jude, known traditionally as the patron saint of lost causes, the archdiocese said that the Church encourages authentic expressions of devotion to the saint, but that it was obliged to point out that “in some cases there are serious incompatibilities” with the teachings of the Church.

The archdiocese added that true devotion to St. Jude “is completely the opposite of the devotion to ‘Saint Death,’ as Christ himself overcame death in his glorious rising from the tomb, promising eternal life to those who keep the commandments of the law of God.”

The devotion to “Saint Death,” which is linked to witchcraft and becomes more prominent as the feast of All Souls approaches, has become popular in recent years in parts of Mexico.

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Kmiec’s claims against Denver archbishop irrelevant, false and deceptive, say analysts

Washington D.C., Nov 3, 2008 (CNA) - An online ethics publication has responded to pro-Obama professor Doug Kmiec’s essay criticizing Archbishop Charles J. Chaput on his strong pro-life stance in the U.S. presidential election.


Last week, Professor Kmiec went after the Denver prelate in an essay published in the National Catholic Reporter, in which he claimed that an Obama presidency would save more lives than a McCain presidency. However, on Monday, Public Discourse editor Ryan Anderson and Sherif Girgis responded to Kmeic’s assertions by putting them in the category of “the irrelevant, the false, and the fallacious.” 


The Irrelevant Claims


The article begins by focusing on “the irrelevant” claims.  In his address to the archbishop, Kmiec remarked that voting for a candidate “need not imply support of all his positions” and that neither candidate can be regarded as fully committed to protecting all human life. 


Additionally, he maintained that overturning Roe v. Wade “would not directly save the 1.2 million American lives killed by abortion each year.”


Anderson and Girgis respond by explaining that no one has denied these irrelevant points, but that the real issue is “whether society has an obligation in the meantime to protect the unborn against the crime of feticide, or instead to sanction it, widen its availability, and even fund it while purporting to address its deeper causes.”


Looking at Roe v. Wade, they note that overturning the 1973 Supreme Court decision “would not completely restore justice to the unborn, but it would remove a grossly unjust and otherwise insurmountable obstacle to their legal protection, something that ethical principles--and Church teaching--require.”


The False Claims


The pair of writers then focuses on the “false” claims of Kmeic’s essay.  They call to attention that Kmiec insists that his disagreement with the Denver archbishop, “is not over the essence of Church instruction which gives primacy to the promotion of human life, but rather, the preferred means of implementing it,” a line that Public Discourse calls “patently false.”

“A fundamental principle of Catholic social teaching--and any sound political philosophy--is that all members of the human family possess inherent and equal dignity, and deserve the protection of the law. This applies regardless of sex, race, or creed, but also regardless of age, size, stage of development, or level of dependency. Chaput affirms this principle. Kmiec equivocates--at best. Obama denies it.”


Anderson and Girgis go on to show Obama’s record in denying protection to the unborn and his opposition to legislation “to protect children who are born alive after failed abortions.”


In defense of Kmiec, the writers points out that he touts Obama’s support for pregnant women.  However, Anderson and Girgis note that, “As a matter of rhetoric, this might be true; as a matter of record, it too is demonstrably false.”  Obama “did not endorse the Pregnant Women Support Act, a bill sponsored by Democrats for Life aimed simply at making it easier for women to choose alternatives to abortion. Obama has even opposed this bill's extension of health insurance to unborn children and its provision that women considering abortion be informed of possible health risks and the gestational age of their child.”


Kmiec’s contention that Obama would save more lives under his policies, than McCain  would under his was also examined by the Public Discourse duo. They claim that the evidence proves this is false, especially when embryonic stem cell research is taken into consideration. 


First, write Anderson and Girgis, “President Obama would likely sign into law a bill he co-sponsored as senator that would sanction the mass production by cloning of embryonic human beings for research and effectively require their subsequent destruction. This bill alone--which McCain opposes--would multiply the killing of tiny human beings on an industrial scale.”


Kmiec conveniently skips this point and only focuses on the “significant impact” Obama’s welfare programs will have on the “reduction of abortion.”


However, research is not in the Obama-camp’s favor.  “As political scientist Michael J. New has demonstrated, such programs have been shown to have next to no effect at all. But pro-life legislation--limited after Roe to modest measures like informed-consent and parental notification laws and public-funding restrictions--have dramatically reduced abortion rates. Obama would eliminate all of these laws.”


The Deceptive Claims


Turning their attention to Kmiec’s “fallacious” claims, Anderson and Girgis zero in on Kmiec faulting Archbishop Chaput “for suggesting that our vote in the presidential election should be guided by possible Supreme Court appointments. Kmiec argues that this legal-judicial pro-life approach has not worked in the past and relies on uncertainties about the timing and number of upcoming Court vacancies.”

“Never mind that abortion-rights activists fear a McCain presidency because they see as clearly as anyone--except, apparently, Doug Kmiec--that it could mean a fifth vote to overturn Roe. Never mind that the four justices that think Roe was wrongly decided were appointed by Republican presidents.”


However, Anderson and Girgis note a deeper fallacy underlying “Kmiec's central thesis about the justifiability of voting for a pro-choice candidate.”


Putting aside Kmiec’s falsehoods, “What about his argument that Church teaching--including Pope Benedict's stated views on the matter--would leave room for a principled defense of a vote for Obama? Is Kmiec right to claim that there can be reasons to vote for a pro-choice candidate over a pro-life one that are proportionate to the possibly unintended harms of doing so?”

Anderson and Girgis consult Notre Dame legal scholar Gerard Bradley’s thought experiments.  “What if it were not unborn babies being denied legal protections, but some other class of people? If 1.2 million American women a year were being killed by abusive husbands, he asks, would we vote for a candidate who was ''pro-choice'' about the ''private'' matter of lethal domestic violence but favored addressing its root causes (say, with anger-management classes and education)?”

”Given Obama's record, we can even strengthen the analogies: What would we think of a candidate who favored financially supporting legalized domestic abuse or extermination of the unwanted?”


While some could object that this case differs from the lives of the unborn, Kmiec has stated that he accepts unborn babies are human beings.  “So every pro-life citizen should see the radical unsoundness of his argument that there are proportionate reasons to accept the publicly funded and sanctioned killing of unborn human beings when another candidate would remove obstacles to their legal protection,” Anderson and Girgis write.


The article concludes that Kmiec’s response to the Denver prelate is filled with red herrings, baseless factual claims, and glaring non sequiturs “in the service of a conclusion whose logic would be laughable if it did not threaten countless innocent lives: that the most pro-abortion politician in American history would be a blessing for the unborn.”


“Barack Obama offers the unborn no hope to believe in but much change to deplore. Doug Kmiec offers Barack Obama cover for his assaults on the sanctity of human life.”

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