Archive of November 5, 2008

U.S. bishops investigating church grants for ACORN

Washington D.C., Nov 5, 2008 (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has begun investigating the more than $1 million in church grants given to the voter registration group ACORN. Fearing the grants may have been used in partisan or fraudulent ways which could threaten the Church’s tax-exempt status, they have hired forensic accounting experts.

Workers with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) are being questioned by state officials and the FBI about voter registration forms they submitted with signatures from Mickey Mouse and members of the Dallas Cowboys football team, the Washington Times reports.

ACORN’s registration efforts target low-income neighborhoods believed to favor the Democrats. Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama himself once worked with ACORN as a community organizer and lawyer in Chicago.

According to the Washington Times, the Catholic Campaign on Human Development (CCHD) granted $1,037,000 to ACORN in 2007, including a $40,000 grant to an ACORN affiliate in Las Vegas that the Nevada attorney general’s office raided last month as part of a voter fraud investigation.

The CCHD has reportedly given more than $7.3 million to ACORN over the past decade for about 320 projects.

A $1.2 million grant to ACORN was frozen by the Church in June after the group was accused of voter fraud in 15 states.

Also in June, ACORN disclosed that Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, had embezzled nearly $950,000 from the organization in 1999 and 2000.  His actions were reportedly kept secret from most of ACORN’s board members until a whistleblower publicized the matter.

Bishop of New Orleans Robert Morin, who chairs a committee overseeing the CCHD, sent a July 11 letter to more than 200 bishops saying the investigation is “thorough, serious and ongoing,” adding that USCCB money was not knowingly misused.

Charles Jackson, communications director for ACORN, told the Washington Times that no investigators for the Catholic Church had contacted his group, adding that the group’s board has started its own forensic audit.

The CCHD receives about $9.4 million each year in second collections from Catholic churches. This year’s collection for CCHD will take place on November 23. According to the Washington Times, such donations go to anti-poverty groups, interfaith associations, peace and justice groups, immigrant aid groups, environmental coalitions, labor rights groups and housing coalitions.

Ralph McCloud, the new executive director for the CCHD, commented on the matter on Monday.

"While there is value in registering low-income voters, I am concerned that the whole ban on partisanship has been violated," McCloud commented, adding that he could not reassure voters that the funds donated before 2008 were not used in voter fraud.

"There is no way we can tell," he said, according to the Washington Times. "All our applications go through a rigorous screening, and we ask each organization to commit to being nonpartisan.  The overwhelming reality is most of the groups we fund do tremendous work."

CNA called CCHD twice for further comment, but received no reply by publication time.

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Justice for Croat refugees being ‘trampled underfoot,’ Bosnian bishop reveals

Konigstein, Germany, Nov 5, 2008 (CNA) - A Catholic bishop from Bosnia and Herzegovina has protested that neither the Bosnian government nor the international community is doing anything to enable Catholic Croat refugees to return to their homes some thirteen years after the end of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia.

Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka recently visited the headquarters of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in Germany. He said he and his priests had expected that the government and the international community would take steps to restore damaged infrastructure, but he fears the government does not seem to regard itself as responsible for the Catholics.

In the bishop’s view, the government appears to take the position that Catholics are the concern of the bishop, though Bishop Komarica pointed out that it is not the task of the Church to build homes, provide running water and repair roads.

According to the bishop, perhaps two percent of the Catholics who fled the area have returned. He added there was no discernable political will to implement the public declarations that Catholic Croats could return to their homes.

“Our appeals, pleas and protests have gone unheard", said Bishop Komarica. "Justice in this case is being trampled underfoot! Why do human rights apply in Germany, France and the USA, for example, but not to us in Bosnia?"

The bishop explained that the Catholic Church wishes to make a “fruitful contribution to the future of this country,” but he added: “in order to do so we must first be able to live here.”

Bishop Komarica told ACN that he will not tire of speaking out for all those disenfranchised.

The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina raged from 1992 to 1995 following the collapse of Yugoslavia. More than 243,000 people died in the conflict and two million were driven from their homes.

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Attempted 'womenpriest ordination’ triggers automatic excommunication

Chicago, Ill., Nov 5, 2008 (CNA) - A woman claiming to be a Catholic bishop “ordained” a so-called womanpriest and three “women deacons” at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Chicago on Saturday. In response, a spokeswoman from the Archdiocese of Chicago said that her act automatically excommunicates the participants.

Dana Reynolds, from Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, claims that she was ordained a womanpriest in 2006, the California Catholic Daily reports. At an April 9, 2008 ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany, she became the first self-described U.S. bishop for the dissenting Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement.

A May 29 statement from the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reiterated traditional Church teaching that the Church has no power or authority to ordain women as priests. The statement also noted such attempted ordinations incur an automatic, latae sententiae excommunication for both the ordainer and the would-be ordinand.

On Saturday Reynolds “ordained” 60-year-old Barbara Zeman as a womanpriest. Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, Zeman claimed she was disobeying an “unjust law.”

“I am following my conscience, and I am obeying God's call. I'm not doing this for myself. I'm doing this for the generations of women to come, because I don't want those women to have the fight that I've had,” she said.

Reynolds also “ordained” three women deacons: Alta Jacko of Chicago, Linda Wilcox of Afton, Minnesota, and Mary Styne of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Archdiocese of Chicago condemned the ceremony and repeated the Vatican’s excommunication decree.

“Cardinal George could declare that those persons have been excommunicated by the law itself, but they are excommunicated whether the cardinal declares them so or not," archdiocesan spokeswoman Susan Burritt told the Chicago Tribune.

Reynolds has held several ordination ceremonies at liberal Protestant or Unitarian churches. Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois is being investigated for joining Reynolds in an attempted August ordination of a woman at a Unitarian church in Lexington, Kentucky.

The priest has been given a “canonical warning” and a future violation could result in dismissal from his order.

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Significant victories, defeats in pro-life, pro-family ballots around the country

CNA STAFF, Nov 5, 2008 (CNA) - Voters in South Dakota and California rejected proposals that would have limited abortions, but all propositions aimed at declaring marriage as between one man and one woman passed, even in California, where an unprecedented amount of money was spent by homosexual advocates to oppose the pro-marriage Proposition 8.


Voters in Colorado rejected by a margin of about three to one a measure defining a person to "include any human being from the moment of fertilization," which would have applied to sections of the Colorado Constitution that protect "natural and essential rights of persons."


South Dakota voters rejected by a 44 to 56 margin a proposal to prohibit abortions except in cases of rape or incest or where the mother's life or health is at risk. A similar measure that did not include exceptions for rape or the health of the mother lost on the ballot in 2006.


Voters in Michigan voted in favor of amending the state constitution to permit human embryonic stem cell research with certain restrictions. The embryos, which must have been created for fertility treatment purposes, would have to have been discarded otherwise, and may not be used more than 14 days after cell division has begun.


Results are still pending for California's Proposition 4, which requires physicians to provide parental notification to guardians of minors at least 48 hours before performing an abortion, but by early Wednesday  Prop 4, also known as "Sarah's Law" was trailing  by a margin of 52.6-47.4 after 79% of the precincts were counted.  


Florida voters approved by 62-38 an amendment adding language to the state constitution that will define marriage as only between a man and a woman. Florida already has a prohibition against gay marriage in state law, but supporters say the new definition was important to prevent court rulings allowing same-sex marriage like those in Massachusetts, California and Connecticut.


In Arizona, Proposition 102, which will constitutionally establish marriage as only between one man and one woman, passed with 56 percent of the vote. A similar measure failed in 2006.


In Arkansas, 57 percent of voters supported a measure to prohibit unmarried sexual partners from adopting children or from serving as foster parents. The measure specifies that the prohibition applies to opposite-sex as well as same-sex couples. Since same-sex partners cannot be legally married in the southern state, adoption will be permanently barred for same-sex couples.


But probably the most emblematic victory is the almost certain victory of Proposition 8, which would enshrine marriage as only between one man and one woman in the California constitution.


One early Wednesday, with 80% of the precincts counted, Yes on 8 was leading 52-48. The heated campaign fueled by a record $73 million of spending -most of it on the part of pro-homosexual marriage – began four and a half months ago, when the California Supreme Court declared homosexual marriage as legal. During that legal "window," some 14,000 homosexual couples have procured a marriage license.


Another significant aspect of the pro-marriage victory is that the Yes on 8 campaign prevailed despite being heavily outspent and trailing by 17 points early in the campaign. "We caused Californians to rethink this issue," Proposition 8 strategist Jeff Flint told the Los Angeles Times. "We made them realize that there are broader implications to society and particularly the children when you make that fundamental change that's at the core of how society is organized, which is marriage," he added.


Finally, Washington State seems poised to become the second state to legalize assisted suicide.  On early Wednesday, about 58 percent of voters had approved Initiative 1000, which will allow terminally ill people who have been given six months or less to live to ask their doctor for a fatal dose of medicine, which they would self-administer.


Supporters say the initiative would give sick people at the end of their lives the right to control what happens to their bodies. Opponents have argued that the initiative doesn’t honor the sanctity of life, and could result in pressure for vulnerable people to commit suicide instead of choosing medical care that could prolong their lives.


As a side note, measure K, which would have decriminalized prostitution in San Francisco (CA), require the city to stop enforcing prostitution laws and restricted resources to anti-prostitution programs, lost 58-42.

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Vatican hopes Obama will promote human dignity

Vatican City, Nov 5, 2008 (CNA) - Speaking to Vatican Radio on Wednesday, the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Fr. Federico Lombardi, announced that Pope Benedict XVI has sent his greetings to President-elect Barack Obama, the content of which will not be made public "because of its personal nature."


“The duty that the President of the United States has is a task of the highest responsibility not only for his country but for the whole world, given the importance that the U.S. has in every field of the world scene," Fr. Lombardi said in Spanish.


“For this reason, we all hope the new President Obama will be able to respond to the expectations and hopes placed in him, by effectively serving what is right and just, finding adequate ways to promote world peace, favoring the growth and dignity of the human person, in full respect of the essential human and spiritual values,” the Vatican spokesman remarked.


“Believers pray that God may enlighten and assist him in this greatest responsibility," Lombardi concluded.

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Without the Resurrection, ‘Christian life would be simply absurd,’ says Holy Father

Vatican City, Nov 5, 2008 (CNA) - In the presence of thousands at St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI continued his weekly teachings on St. Paul, speaking about the apostle’s proclamation of the resurrection. The Holy Father noted that the true believer obtains salvation professing with his lips that Jesus is Lord and believing in his heart that God has raised him from the dead.

Looking at St. Paul, the Pontiff explained, we are offered an example of how to evangelize, explained the Holy Father.  In preaching Jesus Christ risen from the dead, “St. Paul is not concerned with presenting a comprehensive doctrinal exposition, but approaches the subject by responding to the concrete doubts and queries that were put to him by the faithful.” 

St. Paul concentrated "on essentials: we have been 'justified' - that its made just, saved - by Christ Who died and rose for us. What emerges above all is the fact of the resurrection, without which Christian life would be simply absurd.”

"On that Easter morning,” the Holy Father continued, "something extraordinary yet at the same time very real happened, something marked by specific signs recorded by numerous witnesses.”  For Paul, “the resurrection is linked to the testimony of those who had direct experience” with the risen Christ.  This not only involved seeing and feeing, but also with “an inner light that compels us to recognize what the exterior senses record as objective fact.”

We may ask ourselves, “For Paul, what is the importance of Christ’s resurrection?” the Holy Father asked.  “Why is it important for us two thousand years later?” In his Letter to the Romans, Paul responds by referring to “the Gospel of God… the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead.”

The Holy Father then discussed the title of Jesus, “Son of God.”  The name comes to illustrate the intimate rapport of Jesus with God, a rapport with is fully revealed that Easter morn. The resurrection reveals Jesus’ true identity as the eternal Son of God and Lord of the living and the dead.

We are called “to participate in the death and resurrection of Christ,” the Pope continued. St. Paul said: “We have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.”

This is the reality of the Christian life, explained Pope Benedict.  Our present sufferings become a sharing in Christ’s own suffering and death, while the hope of the resurrection even now draws us toward the fullness of life with all the saints in his Kingdom.

Paul tells us that salvation comes from confessing with our lips that Jesus is Lord, and believing in our hearts that God raised him from the dead. Along with the Apostle, the Holy Father concluded, let us strive ever more fully, in faith and hope, "to know Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection."

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British scientist abandons country, criticizes ‘obsession’ with embryonic stem cells

Madrid, Spain, Nov 5, 2008 (CNA) - Colin McGuckin, a professor of regenerative medicine at Newcastle University and an expert on the use of adult stem cells, announced this week he is leaving England for France because he can no longer work in the U.K. due to the country’s “obsession” with embryonic stem cells and the refusal to acknowledge his advances in research with adult stem cells, which pose no ethical problems.
According to, even though embryonic stem cells have not yielded treatment results, the British government continues to withhold financing for research with adult stem cells.
“The bottom line is my vocation is to work with patients and help patients and unfortunately I can't do that in the U.K.," McGuckin told the Times. The professor and his team of ten assistants, who specialize in research with cord blood and adult stem cells, will work at the University of Lyon, where he says there is a “much better environment" to cure patients and further his work.

"(France) is very supportive of adult stem cells because they know that these are the things that are in the clinic right now and will be more likely in the clinic," he added. "A vast amount of money in the U.K. from the government has gone into embryonic stem-cell research with not one patient having being treated, to the detriment of (research into) adult stem cells, which has been severely underfunded."

"Cord blood has already cured around 10,000 people, but despite this much of the U.K. stem cell funding goes towards other types of stem cells including embryonic stem cells, which are not expected to cure people in the next 50 years. Value for public money demands that this is addressed and patients get what they need," McGuckin said.

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Chinese Catholics thank the Pope for remembering them during closing of Synod

Rome, Italy, Nov 5, 2008 (CNA) - The Catholic Church in China is showing its gratitude for the concern extended to them by Pope Benedict following his Apostolic letter in 2007 and the recent day of prayer for the Church in China.


Fides relates that “Chinese Catholics were moved by the words of the one who has become an excellent ‘interpreter’ of their sentiments, the Holy Father Benedict XVI, and they reaffirmed their immense gratitude and fidelity to the Successor of Peter, committing themselves to the mission of evangelization in China, in order to make themselves worthy of the Pope’s words.”


On October 26 during the Mass at which he presided to close the Synod of Bishops, the Pope recalled the bishops of China, who could not travel to Rome, and asked God “to grant them joy, strength and apostolic zeal to guide the Catholic community in China, that is so beloved by us all, with wisdom and clarity.”


The Fides story included the testimonies of the Chinese Catholic Community.  “We are happy and enthused.  For the hundredth time it has been shown that we are in communion with the Holy Father and the Universal Church.  Despite the objective limits caused by non-religious motives and the physical and geographical distance, we are ever more united to Rome, after the Letter the Pope sent to us last year, as well as after the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China after the Synod.  This is a reality that no one can deny,” Chinese Catholics said.


One Chinese priest told Fides, “I admire the prudence and wisdom of the Holy Father.  With these words the Pope has said it all.  Even though we can’t forget that this is a critical and delicate situation, what remains above all else is hope.  The Pope encourages us, he gives us the strength to continue one with our mission of proclaiming Christ to the Chinese society.”

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Catholic bishops congratulate Obama on presidential victory

Washington D.C., Nov 5, 2008 (CNA) - Leading Catholic prelates have offered their congratulations to President-elect Sen. Barack Obama, praying for his wisdom in governance. Noting the historic character of his election, the bishops also ask Obama to protect the life and dignity of every human person.

Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), congratulated Obama on behalf of the bishops.

“I write to you, in my capacity as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to express our congratulations on your historic election as President of the United States. The people of our country have entrusted you with a great responsibility. As Catholic Bishops, we offer our prayers that God give you strength and wisdom to meet the coming challenges.

“Our country is confronting many uncertainties. We pray that you will use the powers of your office to meet them with a special concern to defend the most vulnerable among us and heal the divisions in our country and our world. We stand ready to work with you in defense and support of the life and dignity of every human person.

“May God bless you and Vice President-elect Biden as you prepare to assume your duties in service to our country and its citizens.”

Archbishop of Washington Donald W. Wuerl asked the faithful of the archdiocese to pray for President-elect Obama.

“We recognize that this election of the first African-American president is an historic moment in our nation’s history and we rejoice with the rest of our nation in the significance of this time,” he wrote.

“May our nation’s new leaders be guided in their decisions with wisdom and compassion and at the heart of all of their decisions may there be a deep respect for and commitment to the sanctity and dignity of all human life and support for the most vulnerable among us.”

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Expert finds 65 percent of women who have had abortions have PTSD symptoms

Madrid, Spain, Nov 5, 2008 (CNA) - Sixty five percent of women who abort suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome after undergoing the procedure, according to psychiatrist and member of the Right to Life Committee, Carmen Gómez-Lavín.

Gómez-Lavín said the risk of developing clinical depression is 65% greater in women who abort than in those who give birth, according to data published in the Medical Science Monitor by Doctors J.R. Cougle, D.C. Reardon and P.K. Coleman.

She pointed out the “paradox” that in Spain 97% of the more than 100,000 annual abortions are practiced for supposedly grave physical or psychological reasons, “when the fact is that all the scientific literature points out significantly and conclusively that the greatest risk for women comes after an abortion,” she added.

She also pointed to a comparative study on abortion and cases of diagnosed post-abortion syndrome in women in the United States and Russia, published by V.M. Rue in the Medical Science Monitor in 2004, which showed that 60% of women who undergo an abortion say, “Part of me died,” after the procedure.

The same article, Gomez-Lavin said, shows that “64% of pregnant women who underwent an abortion felt pressured to do so. In some cases the coercion became violent and life-threatening.”  “52% said they made the decision in haste and 54% were unsure of their decision at the moment of abortion.  67% had not received any previous counseling,” she added.

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Our environmental condition is connected to consumption and lifestyle, says archbishop

, Nov 5, 2008 (CNA) - Last week Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the U.N., addressed the second committee of the 63rd session of the General Assembly saying that in order to protect the global environment we must review our lifestyle and patterns of consumption.


Addressing the General Assembly, who was focusing on the theme, “Protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind,” the archbishop affirmed that "not only is there no opposition between the human being and the environment, but there is an established and inseparable alliance.”


The prelate continued by explaining that while the “environment essentially conditions the human being's existence and development,” through their creative activity, people are able to perfect and ennoble the environment.


Our responsibility to protect the climate requires us to focus on the correlation between climate change and food security, the archbishop continued.  This is done by emphasizing the “centrality of the human person, in particular on the most vulnerable populations, often located in rural areas of developing countries.”


Moreover, “the responsibility to protect the climate should be based on the alliance between the principles of subsidiarity and global solidarity.”  As our world becomes more and more interconnected, “we are witnessing the rapid expansion of a series of challenges in many areas of human life, from food crisis to financial turmoil."


Archbishop Migliore went on to indicate that "it should be borne in mind that the environmental question cannot be considered separately from other issues, like energy and economy, peace and justice, national interests and international solidarity."


Society “cannot respond adequately to the duty connected with the responsibility to protect the environment if it does not seriously review its lifestyle, its patterns of consumption and production,” the prelate concluded.  Therefore, we must become educated “in ecological responsibility, based on the fact that many ethical values, fundamental for developing a peaceful society, have a direct relationship to the environmental question."

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Catholic leaders react to Obama victory, offer advice

Washington D.C., Nov 5, 2008 (CNA) - Prominent Catholics’ reactions to the election of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as president have been cautionary, advising increased catechesis and cultural engagement while for Catholics warning that Obama’s use of the presidency to advance abortion rights must be opposed.

Austin Ruse, President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, told CNA Catholics should support Obama where they can and oppose him “with all of our being” on issues like abortion. He also emphasized a focus on catechesis.

“If Catholics were really acting on a proper understanding of their faith, Barack Obama would never have been elected,” he claimed.

Voicing his suspicion that regular Mass-goers favored McCain but “generic Catholics” favored Obama, Ruse said he thought the organized Catholic effort in the McCain campaign was “very weak.”

“It never really got off the ground and was hamstrung by bad planning and bad execution. I was fairly close to it and I know it was sadly gummed up with personal agendas that had little to do with electing John McCain and mostly with protecting turf. The Catholic outreach for the McCain campaign was extremely unedifying.”

However, Ruse said, the bishops were “stars.”

“We have never seen anything like it. More than 100 came out publically against the Culture of Death. I suspect that many of them will be hassled by the IRS. I hope they remain strong. I suspect they will and that they will be even stronger as the months progress.”

Ruse cautioned that Obama and his allies will be “the most pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage of any administration in history. The Church will be in semi-permanent opposition to the adminstration on these most important public policy issues in the church. I expect that the bishops will be very active as will faithful Catholic laity,” he told CNA, saying the Church will have to fight more vigorously for “life and family.”

Father Frank Pavone, President of Priests for Life, said Catholics should focus on challenging Obama “every day of his Presidency to stop the ongoing killing of children in America, and to work for ‘change’ in the Democratic Party so that it no longer is a herald of death for the unborn.”

Father Pavone noted that Catholics always play a “key role” in deciding who will be president and said bishops have made “many excellent statements” on the primacy of the right to life as an election issue. He claimed that the bishops’ teaching in “Forming Consciences For Faithful Citizenship” was “abused and distorted both within and outside the Church,” calling for those distortions to be corrected by the same mechanisms that created the document.

He added that the Catholic Church’s effort to register voters could have been “much stronger,” urging that registration drives for the 2010 election cycle begin now.

Turning his attention to voter education material, Father Pavone criticized many dioceses’ policies against allowing material from “outside groups.”

“It fosters a view of the Church which is bureaucratic and institutional rather than one of the Spirit-filled Body of Christ with many different parts, gifts, and ministries all encouraging one another,” he told CNA.

“I find it particularly unhelpful to be referred to as an ‘outside group’ and to have our vigorous efforts to educate our fellow Catholics in the teachings of the bishops be greeted with ‘we can only use our own materials,’ as if the teaching ministry of priests or the unity of the Church gets shut down at election time.”

When CNA asked about the role of the Church in the public square under an Obama administration, Father Pavone replied:

“The Church will face increasing pressure to not interfere with the positions of public officials on issues like abortion and marriage; yet the actions of a pro-abortion administration and a pro-abortion Vice-president will necessarily prompt a response from the Church. In other words, we have to be ready to fight.”

Vatican journalist John L. Allen Jr. told CNA that the Catholic Church “isn’t a political party, and its primary concerns aren’t about policy or legislation.”

The Church’s focus should be “where it’s always been – spiritual life, the sacraments, fostering a relationship with God through Christ.”

“That said, the Church is obviously interested in public affairs from the perspective of justice, and as it does with every government, it will want to try to work with the Obama administration to promote human dignity. In practice, that will mean continuing to make moral arguments on behalf of unborn life, while also pursuing natural areas of agreement with the new administration such as immigration reform, economic justice, peace, and environmental protection.”

Allen suggested the Church and the Obama White House could work together to promote development in Africa, saying 2009 is shaping up to be a “Year of Africa” for global Catholicism. Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit Cameroon and Angola in March and the Synod for Africa will be held in October.

Citing exit polls, Allen said Obama captured a majority of overall Catholics while narrowly losing among white Catholics. Noting that many of those white Catholics were “undoubtedly” motivated by life issues such as abortion, he said that if Obama truly wishes to be a unifier, “he needs to reach out and find common ground on the life issues, especially abortion.”

In Allen’s view, most of the bishops adhered to the position of their “Faithful Citizenship” document, with only a “small minority” making statements with “a clear partisan edge.”

“I think it would be a mistake to treat the result as a ‘defeat’ for the bishops; for the vast majority of bishops who taught that making specific political choices is the task of a well-formed laity, the election of Obama (or McCain, had it turned out that way) could not be a victory or a defeat.”

He explained that the Church now faces the challenge of establishing a relationship with the Obama administration that isn’t “exclusively one of chronic opposition.” Allen suggested the bishops study the work of Vatican diplomacy, which has “centuries of experience” in dealing with regimes that are “in one way or another are hostile to some aspect of Church teaching.”

Allen stated that the prospects for an outright reversal of Roe v. Wade are “extremely limited” under an Obama administration.

“Perhaps the challenge is therefore to shift gears a bit, investing greater resources in winning the argument for life at the cultural level. In other words, perhaps we should rely less on the coercive power of the state, and more on the disposition of the human heart to respond to the truth,” Allen wrote.

George Weigel, political commentator and biographer of Pope John Paul II, said serious Catholics should focus on trying to protect pro-life legal gains over the past thirty years from “President Obama and a radically pro-abortion Congress led by a self-described ‘ardent Catholic’.”

Weigel reiterated the necessity of defeating the federal Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would eliminate abortion restrictions and could remove protections for pro-life conscientious objection.

The Catholic vote also needed to be studied, he told CNA:

“It will be interesting to see how the ‘Catholic vote’ finally broke, but it will be essential to pick that vote apart and look at how regular-Mass-going Catholics voted as distinguished from occasional church-goers and other ‘tribal’ Catholics.”

Weigel argued that the bishops can “no longer ignore” the question of the reception of Holy Communion by national leaders “who persistently and willfully advance the culture of death.”

He added that if Congress repeals the Hyde Amendment, which prohibited federal funding for abortions, bishops and theologians will have to consider the ethical consequences.

“The Washington State euthanasia victory was a large blow to the cause of the Culture of Life, and we clearly need to revisit the question of how we argue that issue,” he closed.

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Pope’s ability to explain Word of God brilliant, says Cardinal Ruini

Rome, Italy, Nov 5, 2008 (CNA) - During the November 5th presentation of the book, “Homilies: The Liturgical Year Narrated by Joseph Ratzinger, Pope,” at the Valdina Palace in Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the former Vicar for the Diocese of Rome, said Benedict XVI has a brilliant way of making “the bread of the Word of God and the mystery of our salvation understandable for all.”


According to the L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Ruini first explained that “for the life and mission of the Church and for the future of the faith, it is absolutely necessary that the dualism between exegesis and theology be overcome,” which the Pope stressed at the recent Synod of Bishops.


Cardinal Ruini emphasized the “essentially biblical, patristic, liturgical and historical” nature of the Holy Father’s theology, which has made him “an extraordinary preacher of homilies and an extraordinary catechist who, with the simplicity and substance of his words, makes the bread of the Word of God and the mystery of our salvation understandable to all.”


He went on to add that Benedict XVI does not leave the Scriptures “locked in the past,” but rather relates them to the great problems the world faces today, with profound understanding of their meaning and their origins.


“For this reason,” the cardinal continued, “his homilies and his theological works and magisterial statements speak to us and compel us to be light and encouragement for our lives today.”


He went on to explain that these homilies by the Pope that are “collected in this agile volume show how the texts of the biblical readings of the unique celebrations can be understood in all of their full and authentic, historic and theological meaning.”

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