Madrid, Spain, Nov 11, 2008 (CNA) - The author of the book, “I Aborted,” Esperanza Puente, said during a press conference last week that abortion clinics are inhumane, treat women as mere “customers,” and consider the babies they kill as mere “blobs of tissues” or “clusters of cells.”
According to the newspaper “El Dia,” Puente said the abortion clinic she went to exemplifies the inhumanity of such places. “The relationship between doctors and ‘clients’ is cold. Everyone thinks that those who go there are going to use a service they are paying for,” she said.
“In the waiting room, women cry without tears and scream without a voice,” she continued, “and the standard procedure is that women don’t see ultrasounds of the baby, which is considered to be a ‘cluster of cells’ or a blob of tissue, as one doctor in Madrid told a woman a few days ago.”
Puente stressed that in her case, as with many other women, “the psychologist doesn’t follow the law either, because he is not a specialist outside the clinic but rather is involved and only wants to get the woman to sign the informed consent papers as soon as possible, but he does not inform her of the scars the mother will bear for the rest of her life.”
Recalling the most difficult moments of her experience, including when “the nurse forgot about the remains of my child at my side,” she denounced “the lucrative business of the elimination of fetuses, which are used in cosmetics.”
Puente questioned whether the new abortion law under consideration in Spain would “provide complete information to women about the scars they will bear after an abortion.”
Nairobi, Kenya, Nov 11, 2008 (CNA) - Conflict between the Murulle and Garre Somali clans near the Kenya-Somali border has killed at least twenty people and has forced hundreds to flee. In a crime suspected to be related to the conflict, two Italian Catholic nuns have also been kidnapped.
The conflict between the clans dates back to 1984 and has been fueled by political differences and resource shortages. The most recent series of violence began in July due to a boundary dispute, the Catholic Information Service for Africa reports.
Violence peaked when a mid-September dawn raid on a Gari village left 12 dead, with two secondary school students being kidnapped that afternoon in broad daylight.
Two Italian Catholic nuns were kidnapped by bandits in a Sunday night ambush in the small town of El Wak in North-Eastern Kenya on the Somali border. The bandits opened fire on the house, where a watchman said he heard one of the sisters screaming as she was abducted.
The bandits are believed to be from one of the warring clans. They also invaded government quarters in the town, stealing vehicles and other valuables.
Maria Teresa Olevero and Catarina Giraudo were both members of the Contemplative Missionary Movement of Fr. Charles De Foucald. Sister Maria Teresa has been in Kenya since 1972 while Sister Catarina, a nurse, has been there since 1974.
The sisters’ service to the mainly Muslim people included offering medical and nutritional care to malnourished children, expectant mothers, and the elderly.
The fate of the sisters is unknown at present.
According to CISA, there are fears the bandits may have crossed into Somalia with the nuns.
Washington D.C., Nov 11, 2008 (CNA) - President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team is preparing the first actions of his presidency, planning to lift embryonic stem cell research funding restrictions and rules which prevent international organizations that receive U.S. aid from counseling women about the availability of abortion.
The latter rules, known as the “Mexico City Policy,” were developed under the Reagan administration, revoked by the Clinton administration, and restored by President George W. Bush’s administration.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America said her organization had been communicating with Obama’s transition staff almost daily. “We expect to see a real change,” the Washington Post reports.
John Podesta, Obama’s transition team co-chair, spoke about these changes on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.
“I would say that as a candidate, Senator Obama said that he wanted all the Bush executive orders reviewed, and decide which ones should be kept, and which ones should be repealed, and which ones should be amended,” Podesta said.
Podesta characterized Bush’s stem cell research policy as “probably not in the interest of our country,” also naming oil and gas drilling policy and health care.
“There's a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action,” Podesta continued, “and I think we'll see the president do that to try to restore the — a sense that the country is working on behalf of the common good, that we're going to try to restore wages, give people the right kind of ways that they can build on their own lives, and when they work hard that they'll be rewarded for it.”
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, responded to the reversal of the “life affirming executive orders” with a “profound sense of disappointment.”
“If Mr. Obama reverses the 'Mexico City Policy,' which forbids groups that receive American aid from counseling women about the availability of abortion, it would greatly increase abortions around the world. It would also create a scenario in which American evangelicals and Catholics would be paying for abortion referrals through their tax dollars.
“If President-elect Obama reverses this policy, it would show a complete and blatant disregard for the faith values of millions of American Christians as well as expanding the violence and tragedy of abortion worldwide. America should be exporting justice and human rights not brutality and violence.
“Is this what President-elect Obama means by hope and change?”
Mahoney charged that the reversal of the ban on federal funds for embryonic stem cell research would show “a lack of respect for social justice and the deeply held beliefs of millions in the faith community.”
“Embryonic stem cell research is the tragic destroying of human life and with modern breakthroughs in stem cell research is no longer needed. We invite President-elect Obama to step into the world of modern medical technology and move away from archaic barbaric medical practices.”
Rome, Italy, Nov 11, 2008 (CNA) - Vatican analyst Sandro Magister of the Italian web magazine L’Espresso will publish an extensive critique on Wednesday of the controversial book by Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the Archbishop Emeritus of Milan, entitled, “Nocturnal Conversations in Jerusalem. On the Risks of Faith.”
The book, which was written in an interview style with German Jesuit Georg Sporschill, was presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, and since then it has attracted the attention of the secular press because of Cardinal Martini’s criticism of the post-conciliar Popes—from Paul VI to Benedict XVI—accusing them of contributing to “regression” in the Church.
Martini not only slams Humanae Vitae, but also questions some fundamental aspects of the Church’s faith.
Magister points out that the book has not been criticized by the Italian Bishops’ newspaper “Avvenire” or by the L’Osservatore Romano.
However, he said, “in private there is harsh and worried criticism of the book’s authors at the highest levels of the hierarchy.”
“But in public the rule is to remain silent. The fear is that publicly responding to the book’s thesis only makes the damage worse,” Magister adds.
Nevertheless, Pietro De Marco, professor of the University of Firenze and of the School of Theology of Central Italy, issued a measured but consistent critique of the book by Cardinal Martini.
Magister will publish the entire critique by Professor De Marco in his article this Wednesday at http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/?eng=y
Vatican City, Nov 11, 2008 (CNA) - Helping children in danger from disease and exploitation was the focus of a press conference held by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan and other clergy at the Vatican’s press office this morning. The aim of the upcoming conference will be to examine what the Scriptures say about helping children and to seek ways to apply these teachings.
This year’s international conference being held by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care has as its theme: "Pastoral Care in the Treatment of Sick Children,” and will be held at the Vatican from November 13 to 15.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday morning, Cardinal Lozano Barragan began his remarks by highlighting the desperate situation of many children around the world with some statistics. The cardinal asserted that "in the last decade more than two million children have been killed in the course of armed conflict, six million have been left handicapped, tens of thousands mutilated by antipersonnel mines and 300,000 recruited as child soldiers. More than 4,300,000 children have died of AIDS.”
While Cardinal Lozano Barragan cited poverty as the “principal cause of childhood sickness,” he also underscored the fact that, “Two hundred and fifty million children under 15 work” and that many children and adolescents are “left to their own devices” when they view television programs or search the Internet.
“There are no controls on television programs or on the Internet where they navigate without any kind of moral guidance. The sex trade, pedophilia, violence in schools, crimes, organized bands, etc., are all growing phenomena. ... Many families have relinquished their duty to educate" their children and "very often school education is reduced to mere information, with authentic formation being abandoned," he lamented.
The international conference will address how to help children by a three step analysis of the situation. The first part of the examination will look at “the reality and origin of childhood diseases,” according to the cardinal.
In the second part of the conference, entitled "Reflection,” participants will analyze "what Holy Scripture and the Fathers of the Church have to tell us about the cure of children, examining what those cures were over the course of Church history and the witness of the saints who consecrated their lives to caring for sick children. ... We will conclude our reflection with a dialogue on the great religions: Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism," said the cardinal.
"The third part of the conference is dedicated to 'Action'," Cardinal Lozano Barragan went on. "What kind of catechesis and formation in the faith do we need in order to face this serious problem? How must we proceed in sacramental terms towards these children? How can we use the psychological sciences in this form of treatment? ... At a personal level, we will ask ourselves about the role of the diocese, of the parish, of religious orders and congregations, and of volunteers."
The cardinal concluded by recalling that the conference will be attended "by 41 specialists from various countries, all of them highly qualified in their specific fields."
Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 11, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, announced this week that during the World Meeting of Families January 16-18 in Mexico, Pope Benedict XVI will address the gathering via satellite from the Vatican.
Cardinal Antonelli said the Pontiff wanted to attend the event but will not able to make the trip on the advice of his doctors, who have advised the Pope to carefully select his international travels.
He also revealed that the Pope’s special envoy for the event will be Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2008 (CNA) - Speaking for all of the U.S. Catholic bishops, Cardinal Francis George issued a statement today on the economic situation. In the message, the bishops expressed their solidarity with those hurting financially and the need to remember “we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.”
The four paragraph statement, which was approved by the full conference of bishops at their Fall meeting today, begins with the bishops saying that they see “the many human and moral consequences of this crisis” being played out in dioceses across the country.
The bishops mention that they are seeing families losing their homes; retirement savings being threatened; workers losing jobs and health care; and many people “losing a sense of hope and security.”
Amidst this “complicated situation,” the bishops’ statement reminds people of the universal truth: “we are all children of God. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. We all are in this together. Hard times can isolate us or they can bring us together.”
Despite the tough times, “the Catholic community will continue to reach out to those in need, stand with those who are hurt, and work for policies that bring greater compassion, accountability and justice to economic life,” the statement continues.
The bishops listed Americans’ needs by quoting from Pope Benedict’s 2008 Message for the World Day of Peace: “The family needs to have a home, employment and a just recognition of the domestic activity of parents, the possibility of schooling for children, and basic health care for all.” These needs, the Pope said, must be addressed through public policy.
The U.S. bishops close their message by offering their prayers for “the families and individuals, our sisters and brothers, who are hurting, anxious or discouraged in these difficult times. We also pledge our prayers for our wounded nation and suffering world. We pray that, working together, we can find the courage, wisdom and ways to build an economy of prosperity and greater justice for all.”
At a press conference following the approval of the statement, Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, who requested the statement, described how the faithful in his diocese have continued to suffer job losses and why he thought the message was needed. “I thought that this is the kind of statement of understanding and compassion, and also of solidarity of neighbor for neighbor, which I think is very important in these troubled times,” Bishop Blair said.
Archbishop George Niederauer, the U.S. bishops’ chairman of communications, also commented on the needs people have during times of economic difficulty: “historically, when there have been recessions and depressions, there’s an unfortunate thing that happens: just as people’s needs for services from charitable organizations [increases]…the funding for the resources can dry up.” So it is important for us—in terms of charitable services—to raise the consciousness of people, he said.
Madrid, Spain, Nov 11, 2008 (CNA) - The Spanish weekly, “Alba,” reported this week that excessive budget cuts of more than $62 million from programs for families and childcare show the Spanish government’s lack of interest in the family.
The newspaper reported that last year such programs received from $79 million in funding but are only slated to receive $17 million in 2009.
It said the cuts will have an impact on large families as rising inflation has led to a drop in income.
Alba reported that the cuts will affect more than two million Spaniards, according to the Ministry of Employment’s statistics, which show that there are more than 413,000 families in the country with at least five members.
The budget changes, the paper said, “paint a good picture of what Zapatero’s priorities are in trying to implement a more ‘austere’ spending policy.”
Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2008 (CNA) - Children in the womb will now be able to receive a special blessing from their parish priests following an overwhelming vote by the U.S. bishops in favor of the new blessing.
"The Blessing of a Child in the Womb" has been in the works for two years, but Bishop Michael Saltarelli noted at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon that, “happily it’s come to fruition at this time when I think it’s important to reaffirm and focus our attention on the life of the unborn.” The bishop’s remarks were apparently made in reference to the recent election results and Cardinal George’s remarks on not giving any ground to those who insist that Catholics set their beliefs aside in public dialogue.
The prayer for the child in the womb was approved for use in the dioceses of the United States with a 223-1 vote this afternoon at the bishops’ General Assembly in Baltimore. The bishops also approved a Spanish version of the blessing with a 224-0 vote.
The Blessing of a Child in the Womb was prepared by the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities after receiving requests from dioceses for such a blessing and not finding an existing blessing for a newly conceived child.
The new blessing, which can take place either during Mass or outside of it, still requires the approval of the Congregation on Divine Worship and the Sacraments in Rome before it can be used in the dioceses of the United States of America. Upon approval by Rome, the new prayer will be published in any new editions of The Book of Blessings.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 11, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata has called on Argentineans not to be fooled into thinking that in order to get into politics one has engage in deceit, adding that “a healthy political life” demands “respect for the truth.”
In his television program, Keys to a Better World, the archbishop recounted a meeting he had with a young man who did not want to enter politics because he figured he would have to “live in deceit.” The archbishop stressed that the Church views political service as an act of charity and that those who are ready to enter politics should not refrain from doing so because of some “moral hindrance.” There is a great need for truth in politics, he continued, which is a sign of “our civil and cultural decadence.”
Those who participate actively in politics “should be characterized by prudence, and prudence is the capacity we have to be truthful, to carry out the truth.” “Only truth and love can assure that we live together in a healthy and peaceful way, allowing everyone to grow.”
The purpose of politics, he continued, “is not to superficially convince us that things can be different. Obviously there needs to be people who are willing to take risks and who, amidst a general atmosphere of lies, dare to speak and live in the truth.”
Lima, Peru, Nov 11, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, said this week “the family is a gift from God” and that contrary to the common saying, it’s not enough to be “good people,” “we should be saints.”
During his program Dialogue of Faith, the cardinal called on parents to raise their children “with patience and good example,” adding that “human work is not just economic exchange, it is also a wonderful way to develop oneself and to improve positive attitudes.”
Cardinal Cipriani noted that the great changes in the world do not take place through political movements, but rather through individual persons, and therefore he called the faithful to conversion, to be “honest, joyful and generous,” to attend Sunday Mass and to help the sick, “because these small details are the soul of any change.”
The cardinal also referred to the Christian meaning of liberty, saying the freedom of the person is reflected in his or her commitment. “The greater your word is, the freer you are, the more faithful you are at home, with your children; you are freer because people say: this guy doesn’t sell out. I think we are attacking this free and joyful world God has given us with our pride and selfishness,” he explained.
“We must struggle to be more faithful to the word given to us in that beautiful prayer, or in that friendship,” Cardinal Cipriani said. “We need to be a little bit more generous. Brothers and sisters, look and see if there is light in your life, and I’m talking about your heart, your conscience, that need to go to our Father God. It’s not enough to just be a good person, we need to be saints. We need to continue putting our love and trust in the Lord,” he said.
Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2008 (CNA) - The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has not yet been able to determine if grants made to ACORN were used for fraudulent voter registration, but has cut off all funding to the community organizing group, Bishop Roger Morin announced on Tuesday.
Shortly after addressing the full assembly of U.S. Catholic bishops, Bishop Morin spoke to reporters about what the bishops had learned concerning the use of grants from the CCHD to the group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), which is currently under investigation in 13 states for voter fraud.
CCHD originally announced in July 2008 that it was suspending funding to ACORN because of the embezzlement of 1 million dollars by the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke. Today, however, the Bishop Morin went one step further and announced the cancelation of all funding to the group.
When Bishop Morin was asked by the press why CCHD didn’t cancel funding earlier, given the nearly decade-old accusations of voter fraud, he responded that “there are hundreds of local ACORN affiliates” and then made reference to his estimate that CCHD only had a relationship with 40 to 45 of them.
“It’s a mistake and an erroneous assumption when people equate ACORN activities with something that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is doing,” Bishop Morin added.
In an earlier report to the full assembly of bishops, Bishop Morin announced that a forensic audit that was conducted for the bishops found that "our funds were not involved with those that had been embezzled.”
However, speaking at the press conference, he added that “the question I can’t answer, which I think is essential, is whether or not CCHD did make or has ever made a grant or activities to those particular ACORNS [involved in voter fraud].”
“We have not had reports from individual locations where we’ve been involved in a funding relationship that those local authorities were involved [in]. If they were, then funding was cut off,” Bishop Morin said, stressing that CCHD’s ability to discover how its funds were used is hampered by the co-mingling of Catholic dollars with other grants.
Bishop Morin also pointed out that the forensic audit conducted for the bishops was a fiscal audit that did not look at the activities of the ACORN branches and not their activities.
The press conference then turned to questions about the Freedom of Choice Act and the statement that Cardinal Francis George will make on Catholics and politics tomorrow.
Los Angeles, Calif., Nov 11, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony has issued a statement following the electoral victory of Proposition 8, a California ballot measure which restored the legal definition of marriage to be a union between a man and a woman. Its passage, he said, resulted from an “unprecedented coalition” of people who understood the importance of “the bedrock of marriage” as it has been lived out through recorded history.
“I am grateful to the Catholic Community of Los Angeles for your commitment to the institution of marriage as fashioned by God and to work with such energy to enshrine this divine plan into our State’s Constitution,” he wrote in a November 5 statement.
The cardinal then explained “God’s plan for the human family,” referring to the Book of Genesis’ account of God’s creation of man and woman.
Efforts in support of Proposition 8, Cardinal Mahony explained, centered solely on “preserving God’s plan that marriage between one man and one woman is to be that unchanging reality.” Their mutual love becomes fruitful through “bringing forth children to continue the human family,” and these children’s formation and maturation is “destined by God to take place within a traditional family of one father and one mother.”
“Proposition 8 is not against any group in our society,” the cardinal continued, acknowledging that the Church understands that there are people who live together in relationships other than traditional marriage.
“All of their spiritual, pastoral, and civil rights should be respected, together with their membership in the Church,” he said.
“This special effort across California has also been assisted by many who live outside our state because they recognized the importance of maintaining God’s plan for marriage as a bedrock institution for society,” Cardinal Mahony’s statement concluded.
“May the new definition of marriage in our state Constitution be enlivened by our continuing support for married couples and their families.”