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Archive of November 12, 2008

New book offers novena based on Mother Teresa’s writings

, Nov 12, 2008 (CNA) - As a follow-up to last year's New York Times bestseller, “Come Be My Light,” Doubleday has released a new book highlighting Mother Teresa’s spiritual life through a nine-day novena based on her inspirational writings.  The prayer offers insights into her exemplary life and her relationship with Christ.

 

In the new book,  “Jesus Is My All In All: Praying with the ‘Saint of Calcutta’,” readers can reflect upon the most uplifting aspects of Mother Teresa’s spiritual life by praying the novena based on her own inspirational writings, which have been assembled by Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, the editor of “Come Be My Light.”

 

Fr. Kolodiejchuk, who was associated with Mother Teresa for 20 years and is the director of the Mother Teresa Center, writes in the introduction about the importance of reflecting on the life of the Blessed.  “Allowing her message and example to penetrate our hearts prayerfully is essential to commemorating her life and holiness.”  It is through her “simple yet profound teaching” that we can learn to serve and love as she did: “All for Jesus though Mary” though “doing small things with great love.”

 

As we look “to Mother Teresa’s exemplary life for inspiration,” he continues, “we receive at the same time the blessings of her prayer for our needs and intentions.”

 

Following a novena format, the book provides a nine-day set of prayers and reflections on her life.  Each day of the novena has been given a chapter:  Knowing the Living Jesus; Jesus Loves You; Hear Him Say to You: “I Thirst”; Our Lady Will Help You; Trust Jesus Blindly; True Love is Surrender; God Loves a Cheerful Giver; Jesus Made Himself the Bread of Life and the Hungry One; Holiness is Jesus Living and Acting in Me.

 

The novena used in the book is a revised version of one originally prepared to commemorate the first celebration of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s feast on September 5, 2004.

 

Additionally, as a point of reflection and prayer, Kolodiejchuk includes Mother Teresa’s beautiful description of who Jesus is to her:

 

Jesus is the Word made Flesh.

Jesus is the Bread of Life.

Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the Cross.

Jesus is the Sacrifice offered at the Holy Mass

For the sins of the world and mine.

Jesus is the Word – to be spoken.

Jesus is the Truth – to be told.

Jesus is the Way – to be walked.

Jesus is the Light – to be lit.

Jesus is the Life – to be lived.

Jesus is the Love – to be loved.

Jesus is the Joy – to be shared.

Jesus is the Sacrifice – to be offered.

Jesus is the Peace – to be given.

Jesus is the Bread of Life – to be eaten.

Jesus is the Hungry – to be fed.

Jesus is the Thirsty – to be satiated.

Jesus is the Naked – to be clothed.

Jesus is the Homeless – to be taken in.

Jesus is the Sick – to be healed.

Jesus is the Lonely – to be loved.

Jesus is the Unwanted – to be wanted.

Jesus is the Leper – to wash his wounds.

Jesus is the Beggar – to give him a smile.

Jesus is the Drunkard – to listen to him.

Jesus is the Retarded – to protect him.

Jesus is the Little One – to embrace him.

Jesus is the Blind – to lead him.

Jesus is the Dumb – to speak for him.

Jesus is the Crippled – to walk with him.

Jesus is the Drug addict – to befriend him.

Jesus is the Prostitute – to remove from danger and befriend.

Jesus is the Prisoner – to be visited.

Jesus is the Old – to be served.

 

To me –

Jesus is my God.

Jesus is my Spouse.

Jesus is my Life.

Jesus is my only Love.

Jesus is my All in All.

Jesus is my Everything.

 

Jesus, I love with my whole heart, with my whole being.  I have given Him all, even my sins, and he has espoused me to Himself in tenderness and love.  Now and for life I am the spouse of my Crucified Spouse. Amen.

 

“Jesus Is My All in All: Praying with the ‘Saint of Calcutta’” can be purchased on Amazon.com.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-My-All-Praying-Calcutta/dp/038552725X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226080104&sr=8-2

 

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California parental notification campaign was outspent 11 to 1

Sacramento, Calif., Nov 12, 2008 (CNA) - Backers of California’s Proposition 4, which would have required the notification of at least one adult family member for an underage girl considering an abortion, have issued a statement reacting to the proposal’s defeat.

“Once again, Planned Parenthood and the mainstream media have combined to defeat a common sense proposal to enable parents to protect their daughters,” the statement said.

“Their victory did not come easily or cheaply. The opposition outspent us over 11 to 1,” the statement added, claiming opponents had spent more than $8 million on “deceptive ads and other campaign tactics.”

The Yes on 4 campaign named as its opponents Planned Parenthood, the California Nurses Association, the California Medical Association, the National Organization of Women, the ACLU, and the California Democratic Party.

The campaign said opponents’ “deep-pocketed institutional funding” overwhelmed its resources, which it claimed were already limited by “donor drain” caused by both other high-profile campaigns and by the instability in the financial markets.

According to the campaign, it has received many encouraging calls and e-mails and suggestions for future action.

“We welcome these messages, as it shows that this effort was more than just a single campaign; it is a part of a movement among Californians to wrest the care of our children back from Planned Parenthood and its ilk, whose idea of helping young girls is to give them a secret abortion and send them back into the same exploitive, abusive, or simply unhealthy situation they were in before.”

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Honor Roll lists top U.S. Catholic high schools

Ann Arbor, Mich., Nov 12, 2008 (CNA) - The National Catholic High School Honor Roll has announced its fifth selection of the best 50 Catholic secondary schools in the United States. Schools are chosen for the honor based on the criteria of academic excellence, Catholic identity, and civic education.

The Honor Roll, meant to recognize and encourage excellence in Catholic secondary education, is an independent project of the Acton Institute. The roll was produced in consultation with a national advisory board comprised of Catholic college presidents and Catholic scholars.

This year’s roll includes ten new honorees and eight schools which have been recognized in each year of the Honor Roll’s existence. Repeat honorees include Bishop Machebeuf Catholic in Denver and Holy Spirit Preparatory in Atlanta.

Texas and Michigan each had six schools selected for the Honor Roll, while California had four. Nine different religious orders’ schools are represented among the honorees.

Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, President of Catholic University of America and a member of the Honor Roll project’s advisory board, commented on the selections, saying:

“Catholic schools must examine themselves on a regular basis using a well-rounded approach that assesses adherence to the Church's educational calling… The Honor Roll strengthens schools by encouraging high standards and vibrant Catholicism."

In its five years of existence, more than half of the United States’ nearly 1,300 Catholic high schools have participated in the roll at least once. Nearly 300 schools completed the Honor Roll’s three detailed surveys meant to measure a school’s adherence to the Church’s educational mission. Each school is also evaluated in comparison to other schools nationwide.

“The best schools demonstrate a balanced excellence, which includes an active Catholic culture, sound college preparation and integration of Church teaching in all departments. These schools also display sound moral, catechetical and civic formation that prepares students for vocations in the world as political, religious, scientific, and business leaders,” a press release from the National Catholic High School Honor Roll states.

A list of the Honor Roll’s top 50 schools and the ten honorable mentions awarded in each category may be viewed at www.chshonor.org

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Cardinal O’Malley laments president-elect’s ‘deplorable’ abortion record

Baltimore, Md., Nov 12, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley has commented on the results of the 2008 election, comparing Sen. Barack Obama’s election to the presidency to a momentous occasion like the fall of the Berlin Wall. However, he lamented the president-elect’s “deplorable record” on pro-life issues.

Speaking in an interview with the Boston Globe’s Michael Paulson, Cardinal O’Malley said the recent election was “very complicated” and the abortion issue did not decide its outcome.

“It was more the economy, the war, and the dissatisfaction with the present administration,” he said.

Describing his past involvement with the civil rights movement, Cardinal O'Malley likened the election of an African American to the Berlin Wall falling. "I mean, for my generation, I suppose young people today can’t appreciate that, but to me it is something very big,” he told Paulson.

“My joy, however, is tempered by the knowledge that this man has a deplorable record when it comes to pro-life issues and is possibly in the pocket of Planned Parenthood,” the cardinal continued, noting the irony that the organization’s origins were racist and claiming its aims were to “eliminate the blacks.”

Saying he will try to work with the president-elect, Cardinal O’Malley said Obama should realize his election was not a mandate to “rush ahead with a pro-abortion platform.” He argued that the passage of marriage referenda in Florida and California showed that people who were socially conservative voted for Obama for other reasons.

Discussing the actions of the bishops, many of whom were vocally pro-life in the months leading up to the election, the cardinal voiced confidence that people understand the Church’s teaching on abortion.

“And obviously when you look at the differential between the way that Catholics who are church-going Catholics vote and those who are not church going Catholics, I think that the Catholics reflect the church’s teaching,” the cardinal continued. “Not as much as we’d like them to, but certainly this last election there were many other factors that intervened.”

Turning to the matter of the worthy reception of Holy Communion, especially as it concerns Catholics who publicly support abortion rights, Cardinal O’Malley noted a decline in awareness of the need to be both “spiritually prepared” and in a state of grace before receiving Holy Communion.

“Today I think we need to reinforce that teaching a lot. And once that teaching is better understood, then, I think, it will be obvious as to who should be coming to Communion and who shouldn’t. But until there’s a decision of the church to formally excommunicate people, I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people,” Cardinal O’Malley told Paulson.

He added that the bishops did not aim to generate confrontation within Mass.

“We do not want to make a battleground out of the Eucharist,” he said.

Stressing that everything must be done to reduce the number of abortions, he insisted on the necessity of working for “just laws that protect human life.”

“As long as those unjust laws are on the book, human life is threatened,” he added, criticizing the proposed Freedom of Choice Act which would make abortions more accessible to people and would fund them with taxpayer dollars. He further endorsed work to change the laws and people’s hearts so they better realize “how our humanity is diminished when we are not respectful of human life.”

Closing his interview with Paulson, he commented on the bishops’ fall assembly. Cardinal O’Malley said he would like to see the bishops have a “united voice” and a “strong response” that will emphasize that “there’s no new way of being pro-life” and will urge that both legal and cultural pro-life avenues must be pursued.

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Vatican cardinal says Obama embryonic stem cell policy change ‘good for nothing’

Rome, Italy, Nov 12, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the President of the Pontifical Council of Health Care, has responded to reports that President-elect Obama’s future administration will reverse a federal ban on human embryonic stem cell research funding. Saying that the stem cells produced by the destruction of embryos “serve no purpose,” he argued that embryonic stem cell research has not resulted in any significant cures so far and was “good for nothing.”

In comments made to reporters at the presentation of a conference on protecting children from diseases, Cardinal Lozano Barragan added that research on adult stem cells and umbilical cords has been shown to have “positive value,” though he recognized they too were not a “panacea.”

Professor Alberto Ugazio, Coordinator of the Department of Pediatrics in the Child Jesus Hospital of Rome, supported the cardinal’s remarks, saying according to SIR:

“In the medical field, we are always amazed at the excessive fuss ‘the media’ are making over fetal stem cells whose ineffectiveness is proved.”

The speakers endorsed pursuing the results of research into “hematopoietic” stem cells derived from the spinal cord or the umbilical cord. In their view, skin stem cells, hepatic stem cells, and stem cells from other organs had also produced worthy research.

The cardinal also accused the media of showing a “Malthusian mentality” to bring down the birth rate in poor countries, linking that mentality to embryonic research advocacy.

“The Church, instead, reaffirms the concept that human beings cannot be used as means, even at their embryo stage. Human beings always have a purpose,” he added.

According to the Times Online, Cardinal Barragan said the Vatican would seek clarification of President-elect Obama’s administration plans on the issue, saying he himself was not “fully aware” of the specifics.

John Podesta, Obama’s transition team co-chair, recently told Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace that the Bush administration’s ban on embryonic stem cell research funding was “probably not in the interest of our country” and suggested Obama’s administration would have a more permissive policy.

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Without the coming of Christ, the world will not be just or renewed, Pope teaches

Vatican City, Nov 12, 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 teaching on the Lord's second coming. The Holy Father stressed that without Christ's presence, there will never be a truly just and renewed world.

"Every Christian discourse on the last things, called eschatology, always begins with the resurrection,” Pope Benedict began as he turned to Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians.

“Probably in the year 52 St. Paul wrote the first of his letters, the First Letter to the Thessalonians, where he speaks of the return of Jesus. The Apostle writes, ‘For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord’.”

The essential message, Pope Benedict summarized, is to "be with the Lord."

Benedict XVI then pointed out how in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle "changes perspective and speaks of the negative events that will precede the end. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived, he says, as if the Day of the Lord were truly imminent by some chronological calculation. ... The continuation of the Pauline text makes it clear that the coming of the Lord will be preceded by apostasy and by the appearance of a person identified only as 'the lawless one', the 'one destined for destruction', whom tradition came to identify as the Antichrist."

“The intention of this Letter of St. Paul is, above all, practical: the Lord's second coming does not dispense one from one's obligation in this world, but on the contrary, creates a responsibility before the Divine Judge regarding our actions in this world,” the Pope taught.

Turning to Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, the Holy Father observed how even though the apostle was  imprisoned and awaiting a possible condemnation to death, he was able to indicate his “complete being with Christ." Living for others demonstrates Paul's "perfect availability to the will of God." His being with Christ creates a great interior freedom: "freedom in the face of death, but also freedom in the face of all life's tasks and sufferings."

Pope Benedict then went on to consider what “fundamental convictions” Christians should have when faced with death and the end of the world.

“Firstly,” Benedict said, “the conviction that Jesus is risen, is with the Father and is always with us. … Secondly, the conviction that Christ is with me. … Thirdly, the conviction that the Judge has left us responsibility for the world and for our brothers and sisters in Christ and the conviction of his mercy. …We know that God is the true Judge, we are sure He is good, we know His face, the face of the risen Christ. ... For this reason we can be sure of His goodness and live our lives courageously."

At the end of his First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul "repeats a prayer of the early Christian communities of Palestine, putting it into the mouths of the Corinthians themselves: 'Marana tha! Our Lord, come!' ... which is also how the Book of the Apocalypse ends. ... Can we pray like this today? In our lives, in our world, it is difficult to pray sincerely for this world to perish, for the coming of the New Jerusalem, the Final Judgment, Christ the Judge. ... Nonetheless, like the first Christian community we can say: Come Jesus!”

“Of course we do not want the end of the world to come now,” the Pope explained. “On the other hand, we do want the world of injustice to end, we do want the world to change, the civilization of love to begin, a world of justice and peace to come, a world without violence and hunger. ... But without the presence of Christ a truly just and renewed world will never come."

In closing, the Holy Father turned to modern day circumstances and beseeched Jesus to come. "Let us also say, with great urgency and in the circumstances of our day: O Lord, come! ... Come in the refugee camps, in Darfur, in Nord-Kivu. Come where illegal drugs reign. Come also among those rich people who have forgotten you, who live only for themselves. We pray that Christ may be truly present today in our world and that he renew it."

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Vatican official calls for end to anti-Christian violence in India

Rome, Italy, Nov 12, 2008 (CNA) - Speaking to thousands of the faithful gathered in the city of Bharananganam in India, the prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, called for an end to the anti-Christian violence, “as a sign of authentic respect for the religious freedom of all the sons and daughters of India.”

According to the L’Osservatore Romano, during his visit to the country to mark the canonization of the first saint of India, Alfonsa de la Inmaculada, the cardinal said on Sunday, “Non-violence is the only possible solution to every kind of conflict and this begins with the resolve to instill fraternal solidarity.”

“Know that Benedict XVI has in his heart all those suffering in Orissa and other places in your country,” the cardinal said.  “The Pope prays that peace, like our prayer for daily bread, will be granted to all of India and that all signs of discrimination will disappear.”

“Neither poverty nor difficulties are signs that God has abandoned us,” he continued.  “He is always present wherever his children have difficulties. He comforts us and is our strength.  In remembering Saint Alfonsa, may our pilgrimage through life be a journey begun with simplicity and the dignity of being inheritors of the Spirit of God,” the cardinal said.

 

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Brazilian government promotes abortion in standardized testing

Brasilia, Brazil, Nov 12, 2008 (CNA) -

Pro-life leaders in Brazil have denounced the government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for using standardized testing in schools as "an instrument for imposing ideology" in order to make young people see abortion as "a necessary issue."

Rodrigo Pedroso of the Commission on the Defense of the Republic and Democracy of the Order of Lawyers of Brazil said the government is using standardized testing to make students see "abortion as a necessary issue" and is penalizing students if they fail to answer the question with this answer.

"The government doesn’t lose any opportunity to promote abortion," he said.

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Archbishop questions benefit of legalizing drugs in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 12, 2008 (CNA) -

Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello of Antequera-Oaxaca questioned the benefits of legalizing the growing and consumption of marijuana, saying it would do nothing to bring peace to Mexican families.

"Who is this law supposed to benefit? Society? Those who consume it? Or those who could then do business legally?" the archbishop asked in a press release.

"Behind drugs, corruption and violence is money as the supreme value," he stated, noting that experts have pointed out that such problems have led to a crisis of values.

"As long as money is the most important value and not life or the dignity of persons," the archbishop stressed, "vice and the use of force will only increase, and we will be imprisoned in our own homes, in search only of security and not respect."

He warned that experience in countries such as Holland and Sweden, where marijuana use is legal, demonstrates that it has not helped to solve the problem, but has "only made things worse."

Therefore he warned that through the legalization of marijuana, "we would be giving the message that we cannot overcome an illness that, because of its gravity and severity, has as its goal the destruction of our society."

Last October, Victor Hugo Cirigo of the left-wing Democratic Revolution Party, which also sponsored the legalization of abortion in Mexico City, put forth a bill that would legalize the use of marijuana.

 

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U.S. bishops swiftly and forcefully respond to pro-abortion policies from Obama

Baltimore, Md., Nov 12, 2008 (CNA) - The U.S. Catholic bishops have come out in a united front in a statement on abortion and politics, warning politicians not to misinterpret the election results as “a referendum on abortion,” and that “aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans.”

Cardinal Francis George, writing on behalf of all the U.S. bishops, begins his statement by heralding the historic election of Barack Obama as president and saying that the bishops look forward to working “for the common good of all” with the new government.

After listing priorities such as immigration, education, health care and religious freedom, the bishops state that the “fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents.”

Yet, they note that, “Legal protection for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in 1973.  This was bad law.”

Of particular concern, the bishops say, is that “a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself,” referring to the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).

The Act would “outlaw any ‘interference’ in providing abortion at will.  It would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry,” according to the U.S. prelates. 

The bishops further warn that impact of FOCA would be wide-ranging, including forcing all Americans to subsidize and promote abortion with their tax dollars; a cancellation of all parental notification and informed consent measures; and the striking of all partial-birth abortion bans and infants born alive protection laws from the books.

They further charge that abortion clinics would be deregulated, the Hyde Amendment restricting the federal funding of abortions would be revoked and that the Act could force health care workers to violate their consciences.  

Addressing the full assembly of bishops on Tuesday afternoon, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago said that Catholic hospitals would be forced to close if FOCA passes, since they would refuse to perform abortions. "I don't think I'm being alarmist," Paprocki added.

The entire body of bishops agreed with Bishop Paprocki in their statement, saying, "It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities.  It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.”

The U.S. bishops make certain to point out that they are united in their opinion of “the legal protection of the unborn.” We are “pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby.  Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men,” they write.

“The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted,” says the statement, which also notes that although it comes from Cardinal George, it is “written at the request and direction of all the Bishops.”

The vehemence of the bishops’ opposition to abortion was expressed during discussion on the statement on Tuesday afternoon. "Any one of us here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow--die tomorrow!--to bring about the end of abortion," Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann of St. Louis said.

The bishops’ statement also sends a message to President-elect Obama and his new administration, warning them not to misinterpret the election results through an ideological lens that sees them as “a referendum on abortion.” This interpretation will make the “unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis” impossible to achieve, the bishops alert.

“Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected.” 

Aware that President-elect Obama’s advisors have recently signaled that his administration will reverse President Bush’s executive order on stem cells, as well as the Mexico City policy which restricts federal funds from going to pro-abortion organizations outside of the U.S., the bishops explain that these reversals will only divide the country.

“Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion,” they state.

Reiterating their “great desire to work with all those who cherish the common good of our nation,” the U.S. bishops thank politicians for their sacrifices, while at the same time reminding them that “the common good is not the sum total of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.”

The statement closes by assuring President-elect Obama and his family of the prelates’ prayers for a smooth transition in government.  “Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of our elected ‘watchman.’ May God bless him and our country.”

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U.S. bishops use unusual process to deliver strong pro-life message

Baltimore, Md., Nov 12, 2008 (CNA) - Countering predictions that they would try to find “common ground” with President-elect Barack Obama and the Democratic Party on the abortion issue, the U.S. Bishops went clearly out of their way to deliver a strong message that the right to life of the unborn is a non-negotiable issue.

 

In fact, according to the bylaws of the conference, the body of bishops cannot write and approve a statement that is not submitted through the conference’s Administrative Committee. But the tight agenda of the three-day Fall meeting did not give sufficient time to follow the process to issue a statement.

 

Red tape was not enough to prevent the majority of bishops from pushing for a document that would make very clear to the upcoming administration that abortion is a non negotiable issue.

 

In lieu of the normal process, the bishops asked the President of the USCCB, Cardinal Francis George, to write a “letter” to be published “with the bishops’ approval.” Thus, while it would formally remain a statement of the President, it would not have to wend its way through the Administrative Committee and still retain the public force of a document issued by the U.S. episcopate as a whole.

 

For that purpose, the document is peppered with constant references to the collective nature of the text. “On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will,” the text says, for example.

 

According to John Allen Jr. reporting from the Baltimore’s meeting, “‘No retreat, no surrender’ is perhaps the best way to sum up the spirit of the U.S. bishops’ discussion of abortion and politics.”

 

In fact, by finding a way to issue a strong statement, the U.S. Bishops rejected “predictions” and even formal requests from Catholic commentators such a Fr. Thomas Reese S.J. and Peter Steinfels to use a “smooth” language and avoid the abortion issue in order to secure a good relationship with the Obama administration.

 

Dr. Patrick Whelan, President of the group “Catholic Democrats,” had also warned on Tuesday that “angry statements” –meaning strong pro-life language- “from church leaders were counterproductive and would only alienate Catholics.” “We're calling on the bishops to move away from the more vicious language,” Whelan said.

 

But on Wednesday, the bishops decided not to follow his recommendations.

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Same-sex couples saying ‘I do’ in Connecticut

Hartford, Conn., Nov 12, 2008 (CNA) -

While gays in California are seething over the passage of Proposition 8, same-sex couples in Connecticut are celebrating the state’s Supreme Court ruling that proclaimed that laws banning gay marriage violate Connecticut’s constitution.

On October 10, the Connecticut Supreme Court came to a 4-3 decision saying that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marriage. According to the Associated Press, on Wednesday, a lower court judge entered a final order to comply with the Supreme Court allowing gay marriage.

"Today Connecticut sends a message of hope and inspiration to lesbian and gay people throughout this country who simply want to be treated as equal citizens by their government," said Ben Klein, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. "This is living proof that marriage equality is alive and well and making progress in this country," reports the Boston Globe.

Couples began to marry less than two hours after the judge’s final order.

Barbara and Robin Levine-Ritterman, one of the eight couples who challenged Connecticut’s law banning same-sex marriage, became the first of the plaintiff couples to receive their marriage license. According to the Globe, though the couple obtained a civil union in 2005, it "just did not compute" for their twin 11-year-old sons, Carlos and Fernando, said Barbara Levine-Ritterman. "Now they can say our moms are married," she said.

Following Barbara and Robin were Jeffrey Busch and Stephen Davis, a couple who has been together for over 16 years. After receiving their marriage license, Busch told reporters, "This feels like the beginning of a long married life together."

As same-sex couples continue to plan their weddings, traditional marriage groups have not given up the battle. Peter Wolfgang, the executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, remarked that though prohibiting same-sex weddings in Connecticut will be difficult, he vowed never to give up. "We will work for the day when marriage as between a man and a woman will be protected and restored in Connecticut," he said. "In the meantime, we will work to limit the damage," he told the Hartford Courant.

Wolfgang also noted that the Supreme Court’s decision was undemocratic.

"Unlike California, we did not have a remedy," Wolfgang said. "It must be overturned with patience, determination and fortitude."

The Catholic Bishops of Connecticut reacted the initial court decision in October saying that they were "extremely disappointed" in the decision, and charging that it "imposes" the recognition of same-sex marriage upon the people of Connecticut.

"This decision is in direct conflict with the position of our state legislature and courts of other states and is a terribly regrettable exercise in judicial activism," they stated.

Furthermore, the bishops and the Connecticut Catholic Conference argued that "Four people have not just extended a supposed civil right to a particular class of individuals, but have chosen to redefine the institution of marriage."

Currently, Massachusetts is the only other U.S. state that has legalized same-sex marriage. In spite of the issue generating debate around the country, last week citizens in California, Arizona and Florida voted to ban gay marriage.

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Another 'champion of abortion' becomes defender of life: the story of Stojan Adasevic

Madrid, Spain, Nov 12, 2008 (CNA) - The Spanish daily “La Razon” has published an article on the pro-life conversion of a former “champion of abortion.” Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

“The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue,” the newspaper reported.  “Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares.”

In describing his conversion, Adasevic “dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence.  The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. ‘My name is Thomas Aquinas,’ the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint.  He didn’t recognize the name”

“Why don’t you ask me who these children are?” St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.

“They are the ones you killed with your abortions,’ St. Thomas told him. 

“Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions,” the article stated.

“That same day a cousin came to the hospital with his four months-pregnant girlfriend, who wanted to get her ninth abortion—something quite frequent in the countries of the Soviet bloc.  The doctor agreed. Instead of removing the fetus piece by piece, he decided to chop it up and remove it as a mass. However, the baby’s heart came out still beating. Adasevic realized then that he had killed a human being,”

After this experience, Adasevic “told the hospital he would no longer perform abortions. Never before had a doctor in Communist Yugoslavia refused to do so.  They cut his salary in half, fired his daughter from her job, and did not allow his son to enter the university.”

After years of pressure and on the verge of giving up, he had another dream about St. Thomas. 

“You are my good friend, keep going,’ the man in black and white told him.  Adasevic became involved in the pro-life movement and was able to get Yugoslav television to air the film ‘The Silent Scream,’ by Doctor Bernard Nathanson, two times.”

Adasevic has told his story in magazines and newspapers throughout Eastern Europe. He has returned to the Orthodox faith of his childhood and has studied the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

“Influenced by Aristotle, Thomas wrote that human life begins forty days after fertilization,” Adasevic wrote in one article. La Razon commented that Adasevic “suggests that perhaps the saint wanted to make amends for that error.”  Today the Serbian doctor continues to fight for the lives of the unborn.

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Humanist association launches ad campaign for lonely humanists

Washington D.C., Nov 12, 2008 (CNA) - The American Humanist Association has launched a $40,000 ad campaign to generate interest in their non-religious cause. The campaign will run Washington, D.C. bus advertisements which read “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake.”

"We are trying to reach our audience, and sometimes in order to reach an audience, everybody has to hear you," Fred Edwords, spokesman for the humanist group, told the Associated Press. "Our reason for doing it during the holidays is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists and other types of non-theists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion."

The ads and posters will include a link to a web site established to connect and organize like-minded people in the D.C. area.

Edwords explained the campaign’s purpose is not to argue that God doesn’t exist or to change people’s minds, but claimed his group is “trying to plant a seed of rational thought and critical thinking and questioning in people's minds.”

According to the American Humanist Association, humanism is “a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.”

In a press release, the group predicted the campaign “will raise public awareness of humanism as well as controversy over humanist ideas.”

"Humanists have always understood that you don't need a god to be good," Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, remarked in a press release. "So that's the point we're making with this advertising campaign. Morality doesn't come from religion. It's a set of values embraced by individuals and society based on empathy, fairness, and experience." 

Edwords added that they expect the campaign to generate “a lot of public interest,” but insisted its purpose wasn’t to offend.

“We just want to reach those open to this message but unaware how widespread their views are,” he said.

CNA spoke with Edwords in a Wednesday phone interview.

Edwords estimated that in the United States, humanists number “probably in the millions” between five and ten percent.

“Probably closer to five [percent] would be humanists in our sense of the term, but they don’t usually join groups. We’re just letting them know they’re not alone,” Edwords told CNA. He noted that Humanist numbers vary in other countries, with a higher presence in Europe in particular.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reported in 2008 that 92 percent of Americans believe in God.

Asked why people should be good “for goodness’ sake,” Edwords said the phrase was “just kind of a stand in, a quip, to point out that human moral values come from humanity.”

“Just as we develop our laws with consent of the governed, our moral values do too,” he argued. “They come from who we are as a species, who we have become, through the process of civilization.”

Explaining that “goodness” is “a term of art,” he said it did not exist as “some sort of independent entity or thing.”  “We call these things ‘good’ because we are drawn toward them, and we call things ‘bad’ because we are pushed away from them,” Edwords explained.

“There are these inclinations that are a product of evolution,” he claimed, arguing that similar phenomena are at work among other primates.

 

American Family Association president Tim Wildmon, was dismissive of the Humanist campaign.

"It's a stupid ad," he told the Associated Press. "How do we define 'good' if we don't believe in God? God in his word, the Bible, tells us what's good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what's good, it's going to be a crazy world."

Mathew Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, was also critical.

“It's the ultimate grinch to say there is no God at a time when millions of people around the world celebrate the birth of Christ,” he said. “Certainly, they have the right to believe what they want but this is insulting.”

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