Aurora, Ill., Dec 7, 2008 (CNA) -
In response to a Planned Parenthood program offering gift certificates that may be used for abortions, the Pro-life Action League is asking supporters to donate to a national help line for those who are in a crisis pregnancy or who are dealing with the aftermath of an abortion.
The Pro-Life Action League (PLAL) in a Thursday press release advocated donations to Option Line, the 24/7 hotline at 1-800-395-HELP. The hotline, a joint venture between Heartbeat International and Care Net, connects callers to local pregnancy resource centers.
PLAL will also give free copies of the book "What Mary and Joseph Knew About Parenting" to the first 100 donors who contribute $42 or more between now and Christmas. According to the press release, $42 funds a half-hour of work on Option Line, helping an average of at least 14 people in that time.
"After the national outrage of Planned Parenthood's 'death' certificates that could be used for abortions, we wanted to let people know there are much better places to send their money to assist women who need help dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. Therefore we are alerting our national network to send Christmas gift donations to organizations that we've partnered with for years," said Eric Scheidler, communications director for the Pro-Life Action League.
The Indiana affiliate of Planned Parenthood recently announced that it is offering gift certificates for birth control and other services. The certificates may be used for breast exams and Pap smears, but may also be applied to defray the cost of an abortion, the Associated Press reports.
William Beckman, Executive Director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee, told CNA in an e-mail that Planned Parenthood of Illinois is also offering the certificates.
"What Planned Parenthood has to do with health is unknown," Beckman wrote. "Their promotion of casual sex leads to more unwanted pregnancies, more STDs, and more abortions. Pregnancy is not a disease and contraception is not medicine. Contraception tricks the woman's body into acting pregnant to try preventing a pregnancy. Sounds real healthy to me. And that is before you consider the negative psychological consequences of broken relationships and casual sex."
Eric Scheidler of PLAL connected the pro-life donation drive to Christmas, saying:
"Jesus came into the world to give hope to those who needed help. Mary and Joseph did not have the resources to have Jesus' birth in the Ritz Carlton, but rather a humble stable and He turned out fine. What Mary and Joseph knew about parenting was that even with limited resources there are ample options to care for a child, choices we know women will get as a result of donations to Option Line."
Option Line’s web site is located at www.optionline.org. Donors may write "Mary and Joseph" in the comment section in the web site’s contribution form to receive the gift offer, or send such a note with their check made out to Option Line to Heartbeat International, 665 E. Dublin Granville Rd., Ste 440, Columbus, Ohio 43229.
Dublin, Ireland, Dec 7, 2008 (CNA) - The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) is facing harsh criticism for rules which have banned a Catholic bookseller from advertising on the radio to attract customers seeking Christmas gifts.
The BCI claimed that mentioning "Christmas" during on-air advertising and reading out the website address could cause offense, the Irish Times reports.
Publisher Veritas, which is owned by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said the ban was ridiculous. Spokeswoman Maura Hyland accused the commission of double standards and said the group is considering a lawsuit to overturn the ban.
"We note a myriad of adverts being broadcast for alcohol, for example - which are not creating difficulties for the BCI," Hyland said, according to the Irish Times. "The products we sell will cause no harm or offense, as only those who want them as presents or for personal use will purchase them."
The BCI said its concerns were prompted by three lines from the ad.
"Christmas, aren’t we forgetting something? - Why not give a gift that means more? - So to give a gift that means more," were the phrases of concern.
Irish broadcasting law reportedly bars all ads that have a religious end.
"It is the Commission’s view that the scripts, as proposed may not comply with legislation and regulation regarding advertising directed towards a religious end," the BCI said in a statement, accusing Veritas of turning down its offer to re-write the ad.
Veritas countered the accusation, saying it had submitted three versions of the ad, all of which were rejected.
Solicitors Massan Hayes and Curran, who have advised Veritas, argued that a similar promotion by major stores would have been allowed.
"It is almost certainly the case that an identical advert from those advertisers would not be rejected by the Commission," they said, accusing the BCI of discrimination.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said the ban was hard to understand, asking: "Have we really forgotten what Christmas is all about?"
"I sincerely hope there is room in legislation on broadcasting currently before the Oireachtas that will see an end to bizarre interpretation of rules around religious advertising," the archbishop commented, according to the Irish Times.
John Murray, spokesman for the Catholic think-tank Iona Institute, also voiced criticism.
"No reasonable person could argue that the various Veritas ads banned to date are harmful to the common good," he said, the Irish Times reports.
Last year Veritas was accused of violating BCI rules when it mentioned "crib" in a Christmas ad. In April the Broadcasting Complaints Commission rebuked Veritas when a member of the public distributed an ad for Holy Communion presents.
Vatican City, Dec 7, 2008 (CNA) - From the balcony of his study in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the source of hope that Christians find in Advent. This true hope comes from Jesus, who liberates man from more than just political and social bondage; he creates a new humanity.
Advent, the Pope explained, "echoes a message full of hope, which simultaneously invites us to raise our eyes to the last horizon and to recognize in the present the signs of God-with-us."
The Holy Father proceeded to cite the Book of Isaiah, which announces Israel's liberation: "Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD double for all her sins."
During Advent the Lord "speaks to the heart of his People and to all of humanity so as to proclaim salvation," Benedict XVI said. To receive this message, we must follow the example of John the Baptist who heeded the call of Isaiah: "Prepare the way of the LORD!"
Today, Pope Benedict said, the Church raises her voice as the Baptist did. "For populations worn out by misery and hunger, for the crowds of refugees, for those who suffer grave and systematic violations of their rights, the Church places herself like a sentinel on the high mountain of faith and pronounces: 'Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord God.'"
This prophetic pronouncement by Isaiah is realized in Jesus Christ, the Holy Father said.
"He, with his preaching and then, with his death and resurrection, has brought to fulfillment the ancient promises, revealing a more profound and universal perspective," Benedict XVI explained. "He began an exodus no longer only earthly, historical, and provisional, but radical and definitive: the passage from the reign of evil to the reign of God, from the dominion of sin and death to that of love and life."
Christian hope, the Pope explained, "is more than the legitimate expectation of social and political liberation. That which Jesus began is a new humanity, one which simultaneously comes 'from God' and buds on this earth, in the measure in which it is left to fecundate by the Spirit of the Lord."
Believe in God, in his design of salvation, and at the same time, commit yourself to the construction of his Kingdom, the Holy Father challenged his flock.
"Justice and peace, in fact, are a gift of God, but require men and women who are 'good earth,' ready to gather the good seed of his Word."
"The first fruit of this new humanity is Jesus, Son of God and son of Mary," Benedict XVI said. "She, the Virgin Mary, is the 'way' by which God himself is prepared to enter the world. With all her humility, Mary walks at the head of the new Israel in exodus from every exile, oppression, and moral and material bondage toward a 'new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.'"
The Pope concluded by praying: "To her maternal intercession we entrust our expectation of peace and salvation of men of our time."