Brussels, Belgium, Dec 3, 2008 (CNA) - Citing a patent convention which forbids patenting inventions which would be contrary to public order or morality, the European Union’s patent office has rejected a patent on the grounds that the application would involve the destruction of human embryos.
The patent involved the “WARF/Thomson stem cell application” filed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation in 1995. The patent office appeal board ruled that it is not possible to grant a patent for an invention which necessarily involves the use and destruction of human embryos, LifeSite News reports.
The European Patent Convention (EPC) forbids patenting inventions whose commercial exploitation would be contrary to public order or morality.
Wesley Smith, a U.S. lawyer and bioethics writer told LifeSiteNews.com that the decision is the first indication from the EU that the moral status of the human embryo is an issue.
The patent office ruling does not outlaw the use of embryos in research, but Smith said it will “send a chill to those who would use embryos commercially.”
“In any event,” Smith continued, “let us hear no more about religious zealots imposing their will on rational modernists. Europe is as secular a culture as you will find in the world.”
Washington D.C., Dec 3, 2008 (CNA) - Following a secular humanist ad campaign in Washington D.C. which questioned religious belief, an initiative called “I Believe Too” has been launched to “counteract” the secular campaign with “a positive, upbeat ad that identifies God as mankind’s “true and loving creator.”
In November the American Humanist Association (AHA) bought advertisements on Washington D.C. buses reading “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake.” The campaign aspired to bring together the non-religious during the holiday season.
The “I Believe Too” campaign, sponsored by the Center for Family Development, called the AHA effort a “campaign against God.” Aiming to “fight back with the same campaign they are running,” the I Believe Too ads are planned for 10 buses with side posters, 10 buses with tail posters, 200 interior bus posters.
Costs of the full campaign are estimated to be $14,000. As of Tuesday morning, 64 donors had supplied the campaign with $3,400.
The ad itself uses an image from Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam,” focusing upon the outstretched hands and fingers of God and Adam.
“Why Believe? Because I created you and I love you, for goodness' sake,” the ad reads, attributing its words to God.
JoEllen Murphy, the initiative’s leader, explained her motivations on the I Believe Too web site.
“After a friend forwarded me an article about the AHA ad campaign, I thought, ‘Enough!’ I am so tired of God and religion being attacked that I decided to start a counter ad campaign,” she said.
The I Believe Too web site is located at http://www.ibelievetoo.org
Paderborn, Germany, Dec 3, 2008 (CNA) - German churches have criticized a businessman for selling thousands of chocolates shaped like Jesus.
The candies come from Frank Oynhausen’s "Sweet Lord" chocolate-making business, which wraps the figures in gold foil.
“I started thinking about how I could reintroduce traditional religious values into this commercial world," Oynhausen states on his web site.
The figures at present are custom-produced, costing about $190 for almost a quarter pound. Oynhausen expressed hopes of mass producing the product and exporting it for sale in countries such as the U.S.
The German Protestant Church criticized the idea as “tasteless.”
Aegidius Engel, a spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Paderborn, was also critical, saying:
"It is terrible that Jesus is being wrapped up in gold foil and sold along with chocolate bunnies, edible penguins and lollipops."
"This is ruining the symbol of Jesus himself," he added, according to Reuters.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Dec 3, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, expressed his disbelief this week that the U.N., which proclaimed life to be a “solemn right,” is promoting immorality—such as abortion—throughout the world.
“For this reason the Church fights in all parts of the world, because there are so many irresponsible people, beginning with international organizations, beginning with the U.N., which was founded in 1948 and proclaimed a solemn, first right: life. Sixty years later a woman has the right to kill her child. What have we come to? That was either a trick or this is just a comedy,” the cardinal said during a Mass for the month of the family.
The cardinal warned that “killing children or promoting marriages between all kinds of people, men with men, women with women,” leads to nowhere.
The countries that choose to experiment with these things “will sink morally,” he added.
“I don’t thank the U.N. for anything, nothing, since today it is making such a great effort to spread this immorality throughout the entire world,” Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez continued.
Calling on Dominicans to “defend our country,” the cardinal exclaimed, “To those who want to come and bring that immorality here, get out! We are not interested. We are quite capable here of figuring out how to live according to our own understanding.”
Vatican City, Dec 3, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI's catechesis during this morning's General Audience was dedicated to Saint Paul’s teaching on original sin. This teaching is presented by Paul as the relation between Adam, the first man, and Christ, the second Adam, the Pope explained.
The Apostle, in his Letter to the Romans, “traces the basic outlines of the doctrine of original sin,” the Pope began.
"The center of the scene is occupied not so much by Adam and the consequences of sin on humanity, but by Jesus Christ and the grace which, through Him, was abundantly poured upon humanity."
"If, in the faith of the Church, an awareness arose of the dogma of original sin, this is because it is inseparably connected to another dogma, that of salvation and freedom in Christ. This means that we should never consider the sin of Adam and of humankind separately, without understanding them within the horizon of justification in Christ," the Pope continued.
The Holy Father then said that, “Men today should ask themselves: What is original sin?”
Taking stock of current answers to the question of original sin, the Pope said, “Many think that, in light of the history of evolution, there is no room for the doctrine of a first sin. As a result, the question of Redemption and of the Redeemer loses its basis.”
The real answer to whether or not original sin exists requires men to distinguish between two aspects of the doctrine on original sin, Benedict said.
“There exists an empirical, tangible reality, the other relating to the mystery, the ontological foundation of the event. In effect, there is a contradiction in our being.
“On the one hand we know we must do good, and in our inner selves this is what we desire, yet at the same time we feel an impulse to do the opposite, to follow the path of egoism, of violence, to do only what he enjoys even though we know that this means working against good, against God and against our fellow man…This inner contradiction of our being is not a theory. We all experience it every day as around us we see the second of these two wills prevail. Suffice to think of daily news of injustices, violence, and dissipation. This is a fact. From the power evil has over our souls, a foul river of evil has arisen over history, poisoning the human landscape.”
Blaise Pascal, the Pope recalled, spoke of a “second nature,” which puts itself above man’s original nature. This “second nature” makes evil appear normal to man. Evil appears to have become a second nature.
“This contradiction of man, of his history must provoke, and provokes even today, the desire of redemption,” the Pontiff explained.
The Holy Father then turned to reflect on the desire that “the world change and the promise that there be created a just, peaceful, good world is present everywhere.”
“In politics,” the Pope remarked, “everyone speaks of the need to change the world, to create a more just world. This is an expression of the desire that there be a liberation from the contradiction that man experiences in himself.”
“The power of evil in the heart and history of humankind is undeniable, yet how do we explain it? In the history of thought, discounting Christian faith, there exits one main explanatory model with a number of variants. This model holds that human beings are inherently contradictory: they carry good and evil in themselves.
"The faith tells us that there are no two principles, one good and one evil. There is only one principle, which is God the Creator, and He is solely good, without shadow of evil. Hence, neither are human beings a mix of good and evil. The human being as such is good.
“This is the joyful announcement of the faith: there is but one source, a source of good, the Creator, and for this reason, life too is good.
"There is also a mystery of darkness, which does not arise from the source of being, it is not original. Evil arises from created freedom, a freedom that has been abused,” Benedict XVI said. “How has this happened? This remains unclear. Evil is not logical. Only God and goodness are logical, only they are light. Evil remains a mystery.”
“It remains a mystery of darkness, of night. But there is immediately added a mystery of light. Evil arises from a subordinate source; God with His light is stronger. For this reason evil can be overcome, for this reason the creature, man, is curable.”
“Man is not only curable but is in fact cured. God introduced the cure. He personally entered history and, to counteract the permanent source of evil, placed a source of pure good: Christ crucified and risen, the New Adam Who opposes the foul river of evil with a river of light. That remains present in history.
Pope Benedict then reflected on how Advent proclaims redemption in Christ.
“In the language of the Church the word Advent has two meanings: presence and expectation. Presence, the light is present. Christ is the new Adam, he is with us and among us. Already the light shines and we must open our heart to see the light.”
“But Advent also means expectation. The dark night of evil is still strong. Therefore, we pray, in Advent: ‘Rorate caeli desuper.’ We pray with insistence: Come Jesus; come, give strength to the light and to the good; come where dishonesty, ignorance of God, violence and injustice dominate; come, Lord Jesus, give strength to the good in the world and help us to be bearers of your light, workers of peace, witnesses of truth. Come Lord Jesus!”
Vatican City, Dec 3, 2008 (CNA) - Last week Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s representative to the United Nations Offices and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, spoke about how to be "inclusive" in education. Archbishop Tomasi noted that a truly inclusive education does not ignore differences or impose an ideology.
Addressing the 48th International Conference on Education sponsored by UNESCO, Archbishop Tomasi acknowledged that education must not discriminate against anyone and take into account individuals’ needs.
While saying that schools must promote "mutual respect and acceptance," the archbishop also warned against the concept of inclusiveness that is "an ideology that wears down all differences and loses sight of the situation of the concrete person, of her history and experiences."
A truly inclusive education, he said, is one that "combines transmission of knowledge and development of personality." This type of education seeks to answer the questions of "of life and history, of change and dissolution, of love and transcendence."
Archbishop Tomasi further counseled that children should be taught within the environment they live in, whether that be inner-city or rural. Educators should also "remain aware that they carry out their service in co-operation with parents, who are the first 'educational agency' and have the priority right and duty to educate their children," he said.
Rome, Italy, Dec 3, 2008 (CNA) - Muslim convert to Catholicism and journalist Magdi Allam has launched a new political party in Rome called the “Protagonists for a Christian Europe.” The new party will present candidates for the next European elections on June 7, 2009.
Allam’s new party aims to “fill the ethical void” that exists in Italy and in Europe and will be based on the “Judeo-Christian roots of Europe.” These values “must be recovered and affirmed with clarity now more than ever” in response to the threats of “savage capitalism, relativism and the spread of Islamic extremism,” Allam said.
He also warned of a growing tendency “in some countries of Europe to recognize ‘sharia’ as an integral part of the rule of law, as is occurring already in England, where decisions by private Muslim courts regarding polygamy are indirectly beginning to be legitimized.”
However, he stressed that his party would “not be anti-Islamic,” which is demonstrated by the fact that “a female Muslim is among its founders.”
Allam also noted that he does not define himself as an “ex-Muslim, but rather as an Italian and a Catholic who has chosen to become involved in politics.”
Allam said the new party aims to collaborate in “the building of the common good based on the recognition of the fundamental rights of man” and on “non-negotiable values.”
In this sense, he insisted on the need for Europe to rediscover its own identity. “If you don’t know what the values are in which you believe and what your identity is, you will not be able to be a credible partner in dialogue” with others, he stated.
Rome, Italy, Dec 3, 2008 (CNA) - “Omelie,” the new book of homilies by Pope Benedict XVI published in Italian, will soon be available in Spanish and English, according to the publishers of the work.
After the General Audience last Wednesday, the Holy Father greeted the book’s publishers—who also publish the largest financial daily in Italy, ‘Il Sole 24 hore”—and Vatican analyst Sandro Magister, who selected the homilies and wrote the prologue for the book.
During the exchange, Magister was accompanied by his wife Anna and his daughters Sara and Martha. The Pope congratulated him for his work on the book “Omelie.” Magister responded by calling Benedict XVI a true “narrator” of the “marvelous story which is the liturgical year.”
Rome, Italy, Dec 3, 2008 (CNA) - The prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, said in a homily this week that the task of Catholic schools is “to show Christ present in our times and in our history.”
The L’Osservatore Romano reported that the cardinal made his statements during a Mass for the congress on “Catholic Schools in the European Public Sphere,” which took place in Rome and was promoted by the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe.
Cardinal Grocholewski also pointed out that “our Catholic scholastic institutions today are often the only places where many hear about Christ, where they can find him in culture, art, literature, and see what the Gospel has produced in Europe.”
For this reason, “schools and Catholic education should speak of Christ” to young people who are experiencing difficult moments, “so that they can feel the need to encounter Him.”
Rome, Italy, Dec 3, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said in an interview with the L’Osservatore Romano this week that the situation in Iraq “is quite good and this means refugees could return to their homes. There are hundreds of empty and abandoned rooms and tents that await the return of Christians.”
“Christians draws near,” the archbishop said, “and what better time to come together and await the birth of our Lord Jesus?” he asked.
“Our Muslim brethren also await the return of the Christian community. When Muslims are in need and ask us for help, we do not hesitate. I assure you that in Iraq there has always been a great spirit of coexistence and reciprocal respect,” he added.
Archbishop Sako also noted that “towards the middle of December at the offices of the Archdiocese of Kirkuk, a day of prayer and reflection will be held, which will be attended not only by Christians but by leaders of other faiths as well. It will be day of prayer during which hymns and psalms will be read and we will ask Jesus to help us live together, to dialogue and to keep Kirkuk and Iraq free of violence. This will once again show the spirit of coexistence and peace that is found in Iraq.”
“Of course,” he warned, “we cannot underestimate the terrorist groups, whose objective is to spread fear among Christians and break the good relations that unite the country. But with common prayer we can lessen the danger.”
Sacramento, Calif., Dec 3, 2008 (CNA) - Leaders of the successful California Proposition 8 campaign to restore the definition of marriage in the state have criticized state legislators opposed to the measure of “grandstanding for the cameras.”
Openly homosexual legislators and other members of the GLBT Caucus on Tuesday held a press conference in Sacramento announcing the introduction of a legislative resolution declaring Proposition 8 to be an illegal “constitutional revision” and advocating that the California Supreme Court overturn the law.
Lawsuits challenging the legality of Proposition 8 argue that the measure ignores the civil rights of a vulnerable minority group and claim that the successful proposition illegally revised the constitution instead of merely amending it.
A press release from the ProtectMarriage.com – Yes on 8 organization questioned the legislators’ qualifications as constitutional scholars and reported that their resolution has no standing in courts of law.
“This resolution adds nothing to the debate about the validity of Proposition 8. It is simply designed to get press coverage for the legislators involved,” said Andrew Pugno, General Counsel of ProtectMarriage.com. “The California Supreme Court, at our request, has already decided to hear the challenges to Proposition 8.”
Pugno, agreeing with several legal scholars, expressed confidence that Proposition 8 will be upheld.
“The Court is not swayed by meaningless legislative resolutions that have no bearing on the outcome of the court challenges,” he remarked.
Ron Prentice, Chairman of ProtectMarriage.com – Yes on 8, was also critical of the legislators.
“You’d think that these legislators would be focused on resolving the budget deficit or improving the economy. Instead, they seem more interested in grandstanding for the cameras and thumbing their noses at voters who enacted Proposition 8 by a nearly 600,000 vote margin,” Prentice said. “Sadly, with an approval rating hovering at an all-time low of 15%, the Legislature continues to disregard their duties to the citizens of California.”
The California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Spring of 2009, the California Catholic Daily reports.
California Secretary of State Jerry Brown and lawyers for the Yes on 8 campaign were directed by Supreme Court justices to submit arguments by December 19 explaining why the initiative should not be nullified. Plaintiffs must respond to the Yes on 8 arguments by January 5.
Proposition 8 passed with 52.3 percent of the vote, comparable to the national margin won by President-elect Barack Obama. It reportedly received about 2 million votes more than Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in his 2006 re-election.
Atlanta, Ga., Dec 3, 2008 (CNA) - The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List has welcomed the Tuesday night runoff election victory of U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, calling him a “great pro-life leader.”
By a 57 to 43 margin, the Republican Chambliss defeated Democratic candidate Jim Martin, preventing the Democratic Party from achieving a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the U.S. Senate.
According to the Associated Press, Alaska Governor and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin campaigned on Chambliss’ behalf, headlining across the state at four rallies that attracted thousands of attendees.
A pro-life Voter Education and Mobilization Program run by the SBA List reportedly contacted over 400,000 pro-life voters through media in Georgia prior to the general election and ran educational ads on Christian radio before the runoff, a press release from the Susan B. Anthony List said.
"Today Georgia voters re-elected a great pro-life leader in Senator Saxby Chambliss," said Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund. "The U.S. Senate needs his leadership and passionate protection of mothers and innocent unborn children. The Susan B. Anthony List and pro-life advocates across the country look forward to working with Senator Chambliss to fight for strict constructionist judges who won't legislate from the bench."
Dannenfelser claimed her organization’s get-out-the-vote efforts made a difference in the race.
The nonpartisan Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund claims to have helped elect 79 pro-life candidates to the House, seven to the U.S. Senate, and nine others to state-level offices.
The SBA List reported that Chambliss had a one-hundred-percent pro-life voting record in the U.S. Senate. It also mentioned that as a state legislator, Chambliss’ opponent Jim Martin voted against parental notification requirements for a minor’s abortion and had pledged to oppose a bill banning partial-birth abortion.