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Archive of November 7, 2008

Most Catholic college students are inconsistent Catholics, study shows

Manassas, Va., Nov 7, 2008 (CNA) - A new survey from the Cardinal Newman Society’s (CNS) Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education finds that most students on Catholic campuses show an inconsistent adherence to their Catholic faith and often reject sexual morality and Catholic teaching on abortion.

While about thirty percent of Catholic students surveyed reported that their faith had increased in their time on campus, slightly more than half reported no change and more than ten percent reported a decrease.

“A clear majority of respondents who were Catholic in college still report no impact or a negative effect on Catholic belief and practice,” the report states.

CNS commissioned QEV Analytics to conduct the survey, which claims a plus or minus 4.4 percent margin of error. The 506 respondents to the survey included 251 cur­rent students and 255 recent graduates or attendees under 30 years of age. Survey questions asked whether a respondent somewhat or strongly agreed or disagreed with a statement, but the report does not distinguish those who strongly agree or disagree from those who somewhat agree or disagree with a given statement.

About 58 percent of respondents identified themselves as Catholic today and also while they were students at Catholic colleges and universities. Six percent were Catholic in college, but are not now, while only one percent were not Catholic in college but are now. Another 29 percent were not Catholic in their last year of college and are not currently Catholic, the survey says.

The survey distinguished between current Catholics and those who were “sacramentally-active” Catholics during their college years, the latter defined as those who attend Mass at least weekly and participated in the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year.  Respondents who were Catholics in college comprised 64 percent of all respondents, but only 48 percent could be categorized as sacramentally active.

About 64 percent of both Catholic groupings said they agreed that the fullness of God’s truth is found in the Catholic Church. Slightly more respondents, 67 percent of current Catholics and 69 percent of sacramentally-active Catholics, agreed that the communion bread and wine at Mass truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

In both groups, 61 percent agreed that women should be allowed to be ordained as Catholic priests.

Among all students at Catholic universities, 60 percent agreed that abortion should be legal, including about half of the Catholics. Similarly, 60 percent agreed that premarital sex “with someone you really care about” is not a sin, including slightly more than half of both Catholic groupings.

Further, 78 percent of all students disagreed that using a condom to prevent pregnancy is a serious sin, including 73 percent of current Catholics and 69 percent of the sacramentally active. Overall, about 57 percent agreed that same-sex marriage should be legal, including slightly more than half of current Catholics and slightly less than half of those sacramentally-active in college.

The survey also revealed significant statistics on moral behavior on Catholic campuses. About one in five students knew another student who had an abortion or had paid for one, while 46 percent reported engaging in premarital sex during their previous year at school.  More than one in four reported viewing pornography in their last school year, while about 30 percent regularly got drunk.

About 57 percent of Catholic students said attending a Catholic college or university had no effect on their participation in Mass and the sacrament of reconciliation, while 13 percent reported a decrease and 30 percent reported an increase. Similar figures were reported concerning whether Catholic students’ time at school had affected their support for the teachings of the Catholic Church, and whether it had affected their respect for the Pope and the Bishops.

The survey also found that those who were sacramentally-active, prayed frequently or did not regularly view pornography received higher grades.   

The full survey, titled “Behaviors and Beliefs of Current and Recent Students at U.S. Catholic Colleges,” may be viewed at www.CatholicHigherEd.org.

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Churchgoing Catholics chose McCain over Obama

Washington D.C., Nov 7, 2008 (CNA) - Exit polls are reporting that more weekly churchgoing Catholics voted for John McCain than for  President-elect Barack Obama, slightly favoring McCain by 50 percent to 49 percent.

Those who attend Mass on a weekly basis comprised 46 percent of the overall Catholic vote, while 54 percent of Catholics surveyed said they attend less than weekly. Among infrequent Mass goers, Obama was favored 58 to 40 percent.

The fact that practicing Catholics supported McCain over Obama runs contrary to assertions made by Fr. Thomas Reese S.J. and other commentators who used the category of Catholics who attend Mass less than weekly to suggest that the teaching of Catholic bishops was ignored by the faithful.

Overall, Catholics favored Obama 54 to 45 percent, according to an Edison Media Research exit poll conducted for CNA. In 2004 George W. Bush won the Catholic vote over John Kerry, 52 to 47 percent.

McCain also defeated Obama among all Americans who attend church once a week, 55 to 43 percent, compared to Bush's 58 to 41 percent margin over Kerry.

Protestants supported McCain 54 to 45 percent, a lead he extended among weekly church attendees to 66 to 32 percent.

Obama performed well among the 11 percent of people who said they had no religion, winning by a 75 to 23 percent margin.

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Future Obama abortion legislation will violate conscience rights, PRI president says

Front Royal, Va., Nov 7, 2008 (CNA) - President-elect Barack Obama’s concessions to his pro-abortion rights supporters will include the appointment of abortion-friendly Supreme Court justices and the signing of legislative acts which mandate federal taxpayer funding for abortions, strike down “any and all” federal restrictions on abortion, and violate the rights of pro-life conscientious objectors.

So report Steve Mosher and Colin Mason in the Population Research Institute’s (PRI) Weekly Briefing released on Thursday.

The PRI’s briefing reports that Obama has pledged to pay for abortions with Americans’ tax dollars, such as in the Prevention First Act which he co-sponsored in the Senate. The bill will “increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims.”

According to PRI, this language disguises the “ugly reality” that the legislation would “force insurance companies to fund, doctors to prescribe, and pharmacies to dispense, abortifacient contraceptives.”

Obama has also pledged to pass the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), whose language states that it would prohibit the states from “interference with a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability or . . . after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman” and prohibit so-called "discrimination . . . in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information."

“If passed,” the PRI briefing argues, “the Freedom of Choice Act would nullify any and all restrictions on abortion, from parental consent laws, to waiting periods, to informed consent provisions, and the like.  All of the hard work of pro-lifers over the past three decades would be swept away.”

 PRI claims that Obama has pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices “based on their friendliness to his agenda, and not their qualifications as impartial arbiters of the law.”

 In addition, the Supreme Court is “effectively deadlocked” on pro-life issues, with one justice reportedly interested in retiring and two more advancing in age.

“The next president may have ample opportunity to appoint more than one judge to the land's highest court,” the PRI briefing says.

The institute’s president goes on to advise action in the face of President-elect Obama’s “onslaught against life.”

“Those with pro-life convictions must continue to act on those convictions,” it continues, counseling continued presence outside of abortion clinics, continued counseling and material aid to women through crisis pregnancy centers, and support for remaining pro-life congressmen.

“Unless the Party of Abortion can muster 60 votes in the Senate, the Freedom of Choice Act will be a dead letter,” the PRI briefing states, asking pro-lifers to redouble their efforts to expose the abortion movement as “an anti-child, anti-woman movement that has cost America 50 million lives and counting.”

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Europe must not forget the lessons of oppression, Pope cautions

Vatican City, Nov 7, 2008 (CNA) - A younger generations of Europeans that never experienced totalitarian regimes risks losing the lesson their parents learned under persecution: God alone is the source of true happiness. Pope Benedict offered this counsel this morning as he received the credentials of the new ambassador from Lithuania to the Holy See.

 

This morning at the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Vytautas Alisauskas, the new ambassador of Lithuania to the Holy See and listened to the new diplomat speak about the “need for modern Europe to draw upon the tradition that flows from the teaching of the Gospel.”

 

The Holy Father then offered Ambassador Alisauskas a message of challenge and encouragement. Noting how "in recent centuries, the faith of the Lithuanian people has sustained them through periods of foreign domination and oppression, and has helped them to preserve and consolidate their identity,” the Pope said that Lithuanians must not forget this truth.

 

"Now that the Republic has regained its independence," he added, "it can offer moving testimony to the values which enabled its people to survive those difficult years.”

Above all, the belief which must not be lost is the “deep conviction that true happiness is to be found in God alone,” the Pope said. Those who have survived this type of regime, “know that any society which denies the Creator inevitably begins to lose its sense of the beauty, truth and goodness of human life."

 

Pope Benedict then turned his attention to how a generation has grown up in Eastern Europe "which did not share in that experience of totalitarian government, and tends therefore to take its political freedom for granted.” The great disaster that Europeans must seek to avoid is abandoning their hard won belief in God in a modern society that is increasingly fragmented and morally confused.

 

The Holy Father proceeded: "It is both a paradox and a tragedy that in this era of globalization, when the possibilities of communication and interaction with others have increased to a degree that earlier generations could scarcely have imagined, so many people feel isolated and cut off from one another. This gives rise to many social problems which cannot be resolved on the political plane alone.”

 

Besides political efforts, the Church must play a vital role in building “a civilization of love.” This is made possible, Benedict explained, because “'love of God leads to participation in the justice and generosity of God towards others,' the practice of Christianity leads naturally to solidarity. ... It leads to a determination to serve the common good and to take responsibility for the weaker members of society, and it curbs the desire to amass wealth for oneself alone. Our society needs to rise above the allure of material goods, and to focus instead upon values that truly promote the good of the human person."

 

Pope Benedict told the ambassador that the field of cooperation for Lithuania and the Holy See is broad. It contains the “defense of marriage and family life, to the protection of human life from conception to natural death, and to the promotion of sound ethical practices in medical and scientific research: practices which are truly respectful of the dignity of the human person. We can promote effective solidarity with the poor, the sick, the vulnerable, and all those on the margins of society.”

 

"These values will strike a chord with all those, especially the young, who are seeking answers to their profound questioning about the meaning and purpose of life. They will resonate with all who are anxious to discover the truth that is so often obscured by the superficial messages propagated by post-modern society,” the Pontiff assured.

 

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Pope condemns organ transplant abuses as ‘abominable’

Vatican City, Nov 7, 2008 (CNA) - The Holy Father praised the generosity involved in the donation of organs or tissues and condemned the abuses in the transplant and trafficking of organs as he addressed an international congress on organ donation in Rome today.

 

Pope Benedict began his address to the conference entitled, “A Gift for Life. Considerations on Organ Donation.” by applauding the great advances of medical science in the realm of issue and organ transplants.  Though these measures give hope to people who are suffering, he lamented the problem of a limited availability of organs, as evidenced “in the long waiting lists of many sick people whose only hopes of survival are linked to a minimal supply which in no way corresponds to effective need."

 

Despite the fact that the supply of organs is limited, the Pontiff emphasized that people can only donate, “if the health and identity of the individual are never put at serious risk, and always for morally-valid and proportional reasons. Any logic of buying and selling of organs, or the adoption of discriminatory or utilitarian criteria ... is morally unacceptable,” he stressed.

 

The Pope went on to address abuses in the transplant plant of organs and tissues such as organ trafficking, which often affect innocent people such as children. These abuses, he said, “must find the scientific and medical community united in a joint refusal. These are unacceptable practices which must be condemned as abominable.”

 

Pope Benedict also strongly criticized the idea of creating human embryos for organ harvesting.  “The same ethical principle must be reiterated when it is suggested that human embryos be created and destroyed for therapeutic purposes. The very idea of considering the embryo as 'therapeutic material' contradicts the cultural, civil and ethical foundations upon which the dignity of the person rests."

 

The Holy Father then spoke about the necessity of informed consent being “a precondition of freedom,” ensuring "that transplants have the nature of a gift and are not interpreted as acts of coercion or exploitation." 

 

He then recalled the dignity of a dead persons reminding the congress that "vital organs must not be removed save from a dead body, which also has a dignity that must be respected. Over recent years science has made further progress in ascertaining the death of a patient. ... In an area such as this, there must be no suspicion of arbitrariness, and where certainty has not been reached the principle of precaution must prevail."

 

The Pope also spoke to organ recipients saying that they “should be aware of the value” of the donation.  “They are recipients of a gift that goes beyond its therapeutic benefit. What they receive, in fact, ... [it] is a testimony of love, and this must arouse an equally generous response so as to enhance the culture of giving and gratuity."

 

Transplants, "require all sides to invest every possible effort in formation and information, so as increasingly to awaken consciences to a problem that directly affects the lives of so many people,” the Holy Father concluded.  ‘It is important, then, to avoid prejudices and misunderstandings, to overcome diffidence and fear replacing them with certainties and guarantees, so as to create in all people an ever- greater awareness of the great gift of life."

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Pius XII’s canonization is exclusive competence of the Holy See, says Cardinal Bertone

Vatican City, Nov 7, 2008 (CNA) - On Thursday at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, gave a speech at a Congress on the 50th anniversary of the death of the Servant of God, Pius XII, and recalled that his cause for canonization is a religious act that demands respect from all and is the exclusive competence of the Holy See.

The cardinal pointed to “many signs” that indicate that the debate about the life and work of the late Pontiff is “increasingly more calm and balanced” and that the importance and greatness of his pontificate is more recognized, despite the controversies that have become “increasingly less understandable and above all have little to do with history.”

Cardinal Bertone noted that in Pius XII’s first encyclical, he denounced not only “the horrors of war but he also recalled the great works of charity that the Catholic Church carried out during the years of the conflict—charity that was dispensed to all without any distinction.”

“Proof of this,” he said, “are the more than three and a half million documents of the Vatican’s Office of Information about prisoners of war, which was instituted by Pius XII immediately after the war, as well as a section of Vatican archives up to the year of 1947 and that are available for research but are not used. Evidently some people only care about history if it can be used as a weapon,” the cardinal added.

The portrayal of Pius XII as indifferent to the victims of Nazism or as “Hitler’s Pope,” “besides being insulting, is above all unsustainable from an historical point of view, as is the image of a Pontiff subject to the Americans and ‘chaplain of the West,’ which was spread by the Soviets and their supporters in the European democracies during the Cold War.”

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Becket Fund to Award Canterbury Medal to Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap.

Washington D.C., Nov 7, 2008 (CNA) - For his bold defense of the role of Church in the public square, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has announced that it will be awarding Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput with its highest honor.

 

The Becket Fund will award Archbishop Chaput with the Canterbury Medal at its 15th Anniversary Dinner in Manhattan, on May 7, 2009.

 

The annually awarded Canterbury Medal is given by the Fund to the person who has "most resolutely refused to render to Ceasar that which is God's," a press release from the group says.

 

Past Canterbury Medalists include Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel, Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, Gov. and Mrs. Mitt Romney, financiers Foster Friess and Ted Forstmann, and former Ambassador to the Vatican James R. Nicholson.

 

"We are especially proud to add Archbishop Chaput to this distinguished list," says Becket Fund president Kevin "Seamus" Hasson. "He is neither shy nor soft-spoken when he believes religious liberty in general or his Roman Catholic faith are in jeopardy.  It is we who are honored by his acceptance of our medal."

 

Among the accomplishments cited by the Becket Fund for defending religious freedom are the archbishop’s book “Render Unto Caesar” and his frequent contributions to America’s public discourse. “His bold words have been cited and debated by leading commentators across political and religious lines,” the group says.

 

Vatican journalist John Allen notes, Archbishop Chaput writes not just for Catholics "but for anyone who cares about the state of America's soul."

 

In his book “Render Unto Caesar,” the Archbishop insists that American democracy depends on an engaged citizenry - people of character, including religious believers, fighting for their beliefs in the public square - respectfully but vigorously, and without apology.

 

Archbishop Chaput is a former two-term member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a tenure which included missions to China and Turkey. A member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe, he is the first Native American archbishop.

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Archbishop of Paris criticizes work on Sunday

Paris, France, Nov 7, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Paris and President of the Bishops’ Conference of France, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, has criticized laws that extend the workday on Sundays, which he recalled is the Day of the Lord and an opportunity for family time.

The cardinal, who made his comments during the inauguration of the bishops’ Plenary Assembly, asked, “Is earning more money the main purpose of human existence?” adding that for Christians, Sunday “is the day of the Lord, but also a day for family time.”

“If the law extend the workday on Sundays, the harm to people and to society that will result will have an economic impact,” he warned.  Such a step would further “the rupture in our collective life and would have no small effect on Christians,” he stated.

During his remarks the cardinal also recalled the recent visit by Benedict XVI to France, who “showed to attentive and unbiased observers that the image of a decadent Church does not correspond to reality.”

The cardinal’s words come as the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy attempts to breathe life into the French economy by loosening restrictions on sales. Opponents of the change point to the1906 law forbiding sales on Sundays as upholding a less spending-obsessed French way of life.

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Knights of Columbus congratulate Obama, celebrate pro-marriage votes

Washington D.C., Nov 7, 2008 (CNA) - Mr. Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, released a statement on Friday extending his congratulations to president-elect Barack Obama and expressing the organization’s joy for the success of the pro-marriage ballots passed in California, Florida and Arizona.

The election of Barack Obama “represents a decisive affirmation of our national commitment to racial equality.” “Having had the privilege of serving on the United States Commission on Civil Rights, I believe that we cannot understate the importance of the election in this regard,” Anderson wrote.

The Supreme Knight said that “America will face many urgent problems during the years to come, and we must work together to come up with solutions. It is also said that we may face challenges from abroad during the early months of the new administration.”

But “no potential foe should ever doubt that we will stand together as a nation in the face of such a challenge,” he warned.

The Knights of Columbus “join with the Catholic Bishops of the United States in extending our congratulations to the president-elect and offer our prayers that God will grant him strength and wisdom during the years to come.”

Finally, Mr. Anderson expressed his gratitude to the fact that “the citizens of California, Florida and Arizona voted to approve state constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman.”

“Marriage is the institution that provides the optimal environment for having and raising children, and clear majorities, in every one of the 30 states where this question has been put to the voters, have decided to preserve this understanding in their constitutions,” he concluded.

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Pro-legal abortion Catholic wins hotly contested congressional seat

Roanoke, Va., Nov 7, 2008 (CNA) - Thomas Perriello, a Catholic who is in favor of legalized abortion has defeated Republican incumbent Virgil Goode by 648 votes in the race for Viriginia’s Fifth Congressional District.

On Friday afternoon, the Perriello campaign declared victory, even though Goode will likely demand a recount if the lead remains less than 0.5% of the vote.

Despite claiming to be an ardent Catholic, Perriello ran on an agenda that treats abortion as one of several equally important social issues to be addressed instead of the paramount human rights and social justice violation that Catholics must fight to end.

This theory has been frequently criticized by Catholic leaders, including Archbishop Charles Chaput, who recently described the organization Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good—co-founded by Perriello—as having  “done a disservice to the Church.”

Chaput charges that these groups have confused “the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress prolifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn.”

“All of them seek to ‘get beyond’ abortion, or economically reduce the number of abortions, or create a better society where abortion won’t be necessary.  All of them involve a misuse of the seamless garment imagery in Catholic social teaching.  And all of them, in practice, seek to contextualize, demote and then counterbalance the evil of abortion with other important but less foundational social issues,” Chaput said at a dinner for the women’s group ENDOW in mid-October.  

The Catholic Diocese of Scranton has also warned about Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, saying that the group tells people “that a Catholic may vote for a candidate who supports abortion . . . (but) they are neither united nor allied with authentic Catholic teaching. Catholics and non-Catholics alike should not be misled by them.”

Ignatius Reilly, from “rightpundits.com,” says that “at this early stage in his career, his resume (Ivy League education, community organizing skills, and liberal nonprofit causes) is remarkably similar to President-elect Barack Obama. We should keep an eye on Perriello to see how he moves forward from this stunning upset. Meet our newest liberal member of Congress.”

Perriello, the youngest of four children and single, received his B.A. from Yale University in 1996.

Besides “Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good,” he helped to launch FaithfulAmerica.org, an organization described as “dedicated to bringing together faith-based communities to support liberal causes like a higher minimum wage, environmentalism, and peace in Iraq.”

He is also the co-founder of Avaaz.org, an international on-line community “dedicated to building a liberal global response to problems without borders such as climate change.”

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Vatican says objection to Education for Citizenship not only 'opportune' but 'necessary'

Rome, Italy, Nov 7, 2008 (CNA) - The prefect for the Congregation for Catholic Education, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, has said conscientious objection by parents and students to civic education that is contrary to their convictions “is not only opportune but necessary.”

In an interview with Italian media, the cardinal was asked whether it is licit that parents and students exercise conscientious objection to a school course that, “as in the case of Spain, promotes a society based on relativism and anti-Christian nihilism,” he responded, “Yes, of course, because the fundamental rights of man recognized in the Universal Declaration of 1948 are being damaged.”

The Polish cardinal recalled that during the Communist regime, he joined with others in conscientiously objecting to communist ideology by, “organizing courses in the Catholic faith,” which at the time were illegal.

According to Cardinal Grocholewski, “All dictatorial regimes seek to steer schools into making citizens docile” to their slogans, which in the end convert them into “slaves.”

“I personally have experienced this reality in my own country of origin, in Poland, where the Communist regime dictated what should be taught and which kind of behavior should be called good,” he said.

“Catholic schools were closed and they tried to silence the Church.  This was a clear violation of the basic right of parents to teach their own children according to their convictions,” the cardinal continued.  “And it is also a violation of the basic principles of democracy,” he explained.

The cardinal said the same kind of political current is moving through the halls of power today in an attempt to impose “a relativistic concept on ethical-moral behavior,” in order to stifle opposition to their decisions.

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'Bella' star works to protect the unborn in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Nov 7, 2008 (CNA) - Mexican actor turned pro-life leader Eduardo Verastegui is in Spain this week promoting his movie “Bella,” which debuts there this weekend. While in Barcelona, Verastegui spoke about his desire to protect the unborn, especially Hispanics in the U.S.

According to the Efe news agency, Verastegui said the film, directed by Alejandro Monteverde, is intended “to touch the hearts of all,” and is a result of his desire to produce a film that “elevates and saves the dignity of Hispanics in the United States.”

“It’s also a hymn to life and to the respect for the basic values that are being lost, especially among young people,” he added.

“Bella,” which won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival in 2006, will debut in 100 theaters in Spain this weekend.  Verastegui plays Jose, a soccer star about to sign a multimillion dollar contract whose life takes a tragic turn until he meets Nina, a pregnant waitress who wants to get an abortion.

“There’s nothing greater than protecting life, from conception to natural death,” Verastegui said, adding that he is disappointed with Hollywood’s stereotyping of Hispanics.

“Hispanics are more often portrayed as crooks, rappers or womanizers instead of as everyday heroes who struggle to find their place in society through hard work,” he said.

“So I promised myself I would never offend the Hispanic community, my values and my family again,” he stated, adding that the result was the birth of Metanoia Films, the company that produced “Bella.”

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Minister of Health supports presidential veto of abortion in Uruguay

Montevideo, Uruguay, Nov 7, 2008 (CNA) - The Uruguayan daily El Pais reported that the country’s Health Minister, Maria Julia Munoz, has said she would support a presidential veto of the controversial law on sexual and reproductive health approved by the House of Representatives this week.

Munoz reiterated that if President Tabare Vazquez asks her, she would have “no problem in conscience signing” the veto of the law, which includes an article legalizing abortion.

According to Munoz, government ministers are designated by the President “to carry out the government’s agenda under his direction,” and signing the veto of a specific law is part of their work, as the issue of abortion is not part of this government’s agenda.

However, she pointed out that “there is still no law,” as the bill has been sent back to Senate for last minute changes. If approved, the measure would come before the President’s desk, where it faces a certain veto.

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