Archive of November 8, 2008

Prof. Robert George receives U.N. appointment

, Nov 8, 2008 (CNA) - Intellectual heavyweight, Professor Robert P. George, has received an appointment as a member of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST).


The conservative law professor serves as the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.


Professor George recently made the news with his articulate academic critique of Doug Kmiec's reasons for voting in favor of Obama.


As a member of COMEST, Prof. George will join 17 other experts to advise the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the ethics of its endevors in the fields of science and technology. George was appointed by Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director General of UNESCO, and will serve for a term of four years.


Prof. George is also currently serving a two year term on the U.S. president’s Council for Bioethics.

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Obama's aunt to fight deportation from U.S.

Cleveland, Ohio, Nov 8, 2008 (CNA) - President-elect Obama’s aunt, who is living in the U.S. illegally, will fight a deportation order, her lawyer says.

Zeituni Onyango was found to be staying with relatives in Cleveland after fleeing her public housing in Boston, where she had lived for five years, the Associated Press reports.

Onyango, a Kenyan native, is Obama’s father’s half-sister. She was ordered to leave the country in 2004 by an immigration judge who rejected her request for asylum.

Her Cleveland attorney Margaret Wong said she is exploring legal options and may appeal to re-open Onyango’s case. According to the Associated Press, Wong says Onyango is upset because she believes someone leaked information about her immigration status to try to hurt her nephew’s candidacy just before Election Day.

In a Sunday interview with CBS News’ Katie Couric, Obama said he supports the deportation of his aunt if she has been violating the law.

“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,” he said.

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.” 

“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 increasingly targeting immigrants.

He said the “national crisis” calls for national leadership, saying that after a new government is sworn in “we need to insist that our leaders roll up their sleeves and get to work on comprehensive immigration reform.”

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Florida bishop counsels Biden to examine conscience before Communion

Tallahassee, Fla., Nov 8, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop John Ricard of the Diocese of Tallahassee-Pensacola has written to vice-President-elect Sen. Joseph Biden regarding his recent attendance at a Sunday Mass in the diocese.  Commenting on his support for laws that do not protect the unborn, Bishop Ricard reminded Biden about the need to examine one’s conscience about his fidelity to Church teaching in his personal and public life.

The bishop’s November 4 letter began by thanking Biden for his collaboration with the bishops in legislation beneficial to the poor and the destitute.

“It is as a collaborator for the common good, and as pastor of the Church in Pensacola-Tallahassee that I write to you with similar urgency,” he wrote.

Noting that Sunday Mass provides Catholics with the “nourishment to live in the image of Jesus Christ,” the bishop described Christ’s mission as one “directed to the orphan and the widow, to the poor and the vulnerable.”

“The common good is served only when the least of our brethren are accorded full rights corresponding to their inviolable dignity. Thus, human life is to be respected from the moment of conception until natural death. The Church has taught this from the beginning, and civilized societies live by this principle,” he continued.

Noting that the worship of God culminates in the reception of Holy Communion during Mass, Bishop Ricard added that at that moment the Holy Spirit nourishes us and strengthens us and grants us the “gift of courage to stand up in fortitude to protect the weakest among us.”

“While grateful for the effective collaboration you and your office have offered on so many worthy projects and concerns, I also observe, by your support for laws that fail to protect the unborn, a profound disconnection from your human and personal obligation to protect the weakest and most innocent among us: the child in the womb,” the bishop wrote.

Quoting the words of St. Paul about the worthy reception of Holy Communion, Bishop Ricard noted the necessity of examining one’s conscience.

The bishop concluded with a prayer, saying:

“I pray that the Catholic faith you have been raised in, the faith by which you pray, and the life of virtue which flows from both may strengthen you so that you may have the strength needed to witness Jesus, even as the martyrs did, and live by the virtue of fortitude as you proclaim your support to the Person of Christ in the most vulnerable of his members: the pre-born child.

“You are, Senator, always welcome to nourish such a faith within the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.”

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Kmiec pro-life strategy criticized as ‘implausible’

CNA STAFF, Nov 8, 2008 (CNA) - Discussion continues over Pepperdine University law professor and pro-life Catholic Doug Kmiec’s arguments on behalf of the pro-abortion rights President-elect Barack Obama. Ross Douthat, a political commentator writing on, critiqued Kmiec while defending the pro-life political strategy focused upon appointing Supreme Court nominees to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Douthat expressed his astonishment at Kmiec’s position, which he said seems to be “that the contemporary Democratic Party, and particularly the candidacy of Barack Obama, offered nearly as much to pro-lifers as the Republican Party does.”

Critiques of Obama’s abortion stand, which Kmiec labeled as “outright lies and falsehoods,” were, according to Douthat, “more or less the truth.” Obama’s record can only be described as “very, very pro-choice,” his positions involving a rollback of “nearly all the modest—but also modestly effective—restrictions that pro-lifers have placed upon the practice and/or appointing judges who would do the same,” Douthat wrote.

While granting that anti-abortion voters might have reasons for voting for Obama despite his abortion position, Douthat argued “Kmiec's suggestion that Obama took the Democrats in anything like a pro-life direction on the issue doesn't pass the laugh test.”

 Douthat added that he believes Kmiec’s suggestion that pro-lifers pursue a Human Life Amendment is “far more implausible” than working towards securing favorable Supreme Court justice nominees.

“The trouble with seeking common ground on abortion is that the legal regime enacted by Roe and reaffirmed in Casey permits only the most minimal regulation of the practice, which means that any plausible ‘compromise’ that leaves Roe in place will offer almost nothing to pro-lifers,” Douthat continued on

Even “modest restrictions” that prevail in Europe, which Douthat claimed coincide with lower abortion rates, are “out of the question under the current legal dispensation.”

“This, in turn, explains why the national debate inevitably revolves around the composition of the Supreme Court and the either/or question of whether a president will appoint justices likely to chip away the Roe-Casey regime or justices likely to uphold it.”

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