Archive of January 26, 2009

Liam Neeson records the Way of the Cross to benefit Redemptorist missions

Denver, Colo., Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - Liam Neeson, known for his role as Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s film “Schindler’s List,” is the featured narrator on a new CD about the Stations of the Cross.  The CD features the 14 Stations and prayers taken from the writings of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists.


Neeson begins the CD by reading the “Introduction,” written by St. Alphonsus Maria Ligouri, the great 18th century Italian saint and doctor of the Church.  He then narrates the 14 Stations of the Cross which are taken from the classic text, “The Way of the Cross according to the Method of St. Alphonsus Liguori.”


“I had heard about the Redemptorists and their missionary work in the Amazon rain forest of Brazil and in the slums of Lagos and Ibadan, Nigeria,” Liam Neeson said in a press release.  “I was moved to help because the Redemptorists are living the Gospel message in some of the poorest parts of the world, offering hope to families who have been forgotten or abandoned.”


Praying the Way of the Cross is the third CD produced for the Redemptorists of the Denver Province by Ray and Theresa Herrmann, co-founders of Little Lamb Music, a company dedicated to providing families with high-quality Catholic music. In 2007 and 2008, respectively, they produced Praying the Rosary with St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori and Praying the Seven Sorrows of Mary with St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori.  On the CDs, the saint’s music is produced, arranged and performed by the company and other musicians and vocalists from some of the world’s finest orchestras and choral groups.


Ray Herrmann is a Grammy-award winning musician and one of the world’s finest session players and instrumentalists. He has spent the last 20 years playing with and arranging music for some of the biggest names in American music: Diana Ross, Chicago, Bob Dylan, Santana, LeeAnn Rimes, Stevie Wonder, George Benson and Herbie Hancock. Ray is also in the house band on the hit television show, American Idol.


On hearing Liam in the studio, Ray Herrmann said, “I was deeply moved by Liam’s reading of the words of St. Alphonsus. It was so beautifully done.  And I knew then I was part of something very special: a production that celebrates Good Friday with the voice of one of the world’s greatest actors with the sacred hymns and prayers of this great saint of the Church.”


Proceeds from the sale of the CDs will support the work of the Redemptorist missions in Brazil and Nigeria.


To purchase the CD or for more information, visit:



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Cardinal Poletto encourages Italian doctors to exercise conscientious objection in Englaro case

Rome, Italy, Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Severino Poletto, encouraged Italian doctors to resort to conscientious objection if they are ordered to let Eluana Englaro—known as the Terri Schiavo of Italy—die of starvation.


In an interview published in “La Repubblica,” Cardinal Poletto explained that “letting someone who is in a vegetative state starve to death is euthanasia, and the Church is against euthanasia as with any other form of taking a life.”


In 1992, Eluana Englaro, 38, fell into a vegetative state after a car accident. Last November, a court authorized her parents to disconnect her feeding tube and allow her to die, but until now, Italian health care professionals have refused to carry out the sentence.


“The law of God never goes against man. To go against the law of God means going against man.  Therefore, if the two laws are in contradiction it is because the law of man is wrong and will be revealed as such by its own fruits,” the cardinal explained.


Cardinal Poletto said, “The possibility exists of conscientiously objecting when the application of a law contrasts with his or her own principles.”  “No human law can go against conscience, obliging it to commit acts that are against our own convictions.”


“This is valid for a doctor who is being asked to practice an abortion, as well as for the one who is forced to remove Eluana’s feeding tube, or for the pharmacist who refuses to sell a certain pill,” he added.

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Church in Bolivia laments attacks by President at conclusion of election campaign

La Paz, Bolivia, Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - The bishops of Bolivia recently issued a statement lamenting the animosity with which President Evo Morales has attacked the Catholic Church.  The statement comes in the closing days of Morales’ campaign to promote a “yes” vote on the reform of the country’s Constitution.


Last Tuesday at a rally in La Paz, Morales demanded that the bishops define a “clear” position in support of the Constitution. “For me, it is easy to understand that people are saying: ‘I am in agreement with half of it and in disagreement with the other.’ But, there are two options here: We agree or we don’t agree! There’s no middle ground, there are women and there are men, there’s no in between. Or is there? As far as I know there isn’t,” he said in direct reference to the bishops of the country.


On Wednesday, Morales demanded that Cardinal Julio Terrazas, Archbishop of Santa Cruz, “tell the truth” to the people and “admit” that the Catholic Church “participated in the drafting” of the new Constitution that was approved in Oruro on December 9, 2007, and in Congress on October 21, 2008.


“The fathers of the Church, especially the Bishops’ Conference, even drafted some articles and some have been included (in the new Constitution),” Morales accused.


The Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia responded with a document expressing their “bewilderment and concern over the persistent attacks and criticism that the highest authority of the country is carrying out against Cardinal Julio Terrazas. These insults and accusations do not coincide with his high office and are solely for the purpose of diminishing the moral authority of the representatives of the Catholic Church.”


“With regards to the President’s accusations that the cardinal or the bishops would be co-authors of some articles in the proposed constitutional text, the Catholic Church calls to mind that her participation throughout the constitutional process has always been of public knowledge, through documents, reflections and timely exhortations.”


“The Bishops Conference of Bolivia is concerned that while the Catholic Church contributes with calm, objective and respectful analysis to an electoral climate that is peaceful, critical and responsible, some government officials resort to insult and criticism,” the document concludes.


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Official schedule for Pope’s trip to Cameroon, Angola released

Vatican City, Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - With less than two months before Pope Benedict XVI travels to Africa, the Vatican has published the itinerary for the March 17-23 visit.

On Tuesday, March 17, the Holy Father will depart from Rome’s Fiumicino airport at 10 a.m. and will arrive at 4 p.m. in Yaounde, Cameroon where he will be greeted by authorities.

The next day, he will visit the president of Cameroon at the Palais de l'Unite in Yaounde before meeting with the country's bishops in the church of Christ-Roi in Tsinga. He will then celebrate Vespers with both the local clergy and with representatives of ecclesial movements and of other Christian confessions in the basilica of Marie Reine des Apotres.

In the apostolic nunciature in Yaounde early on Thursday, March 19, the Holy Father will meet with representatives of the Muslim community of Cameroon. Later that morning he is scheduled to celebrate Mass at Yaounde's Amadou Ahidjo stadium, to mark the publication of the "Instrumentum Laboris" of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. In the afternoon, at 4:30 p.m., he will meet with the sick in the Cardinal Paul Emile Leger Centre and will pronounce an address before members of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

On Friday, March 20, the Pope will travel to the Angolan capital, Luanda, where he is due to arrive at 12.45 p.m. Following the welcome ceremony at the airport, he will visit the president of the Republic of Angola in the presidential palace where, at 5.45 p.m. he will also deliver an address to political leaders and the diplomatic corps. Later that evening, he will meet with bishops of Angola and Santo Tome in the chapel of the apostolic nunciature in Luanda.

At 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 21, Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in Luanda's church of Sao Paulo before meeting with young people in the stadium of Coquieros that evening.

The Holy Father will celebrate Mass on Sunday with bishops of IMBISA (Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa) at Cimangola. That afternoon, in the parish of Santo Antonio in Luanda, he will meet with Catholic movements for the promotion of women.

Finally, on Monday, March 23, the Pope will leave Luanda for Rome, where his plane is due to land at 6 p.m.


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The witness of martyrs ‘strengthens the faith of the Church,’ Pope explains to archdiocese

Vatican City, Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - Yesterday, the Holy Father sent a message to Archbishop Jaume Pujol Balcells of Tarragona, Spain for the conclusion of the archdiocese’s Jubilee year marking the 1750th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Fructuosus, bishop and patron of the city, and of his deacons St. Augurius and St. Eulogius.


"The commemoration of these martyrs," writes the Pope in his message dated January 19, "brings to mind a community which, having received at the dawn of Christianity the evangelical message transmitted by the Apostles, fearlessly confessed, lived and celebrated its faith in an atmosphere of incomprehension and hostility. The witness of those who gave their blood for Christ continues to illuminate and strengthen the faith of the Church, because it unequivocally indicates that the significance and fullness of our lives, our reason for hope and our deepest joy, is our relationship with God, the source of life.”


 "With this Jubilee Year, the ecclesial community of Tarragona ... has had a special opportunity to appreciate the treasure it conserves at its heart and that must shine out again today to give greater splendor and profundity to Christian life in people, families, and social relationships, the message concludes."


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Vatican daily explains link between lifting of excommunications and anniversary of Vatican II

Vatican City, Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - In an editorial this Sunday, the L’Osservatore Romano underscored that the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to life the excommunications of four bishops ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre is a “gesture of mercy” that should encourage the members of the Society of St. Pius X to embrace the Second Vatican Council, which “half a century after its announcement is sill alive in the Church.”


The editorial notes that “half a century ago, on January 25, 1959, the announcement of Vatican II by John XXIII was a great surprise which went beyond the confines of the Catholic Church.  By the next day, the Archbishop of Milan—who in 1963 would become Paul VI—defined the future Council as an ‘historic event of enormous importance’, that is, ‘important today, tomorrow, important for the nations and for human hearts, important for all the Church and for all of humanity.”


Paul VI, following the steps of John XXIII, “saw quickly and with clarity the historical and religious perspectives of Vatican II: the most vast assembly in history was conceived and opened by a 78 year-old Pope, a century after the interruption of Vatican I (desired by Pius IX of almost the same age), courageously fulfilling an idea that had been suggested under the Pontificates of Pius XI and Pius XII.”


The editorial goes on to explain that the application of Vatican II has not been easy “because of the impact of the council decisions on the life of the Church, on the liturgy, on the mission, on the relations with other Christian confessions, with Judaism, with other religions, on the affirmation of religious freedom, on the attitude towards the world.” 


“The latest Pope, Benedict XVI, who participated fully and enthusiastically at the council as a very young theologian, laid out the Catholic interpretation of the council in 2005: an event that is read not in the logic of a discontinuity that would make it absolutely isolated from tradition; but rather in the logic of a reform that opens it to the future. A council that, like all the others, should be inserted into history and should not be made into a myth, inseparable from its documents, which from the historical point of view cannot be set in opposition to a supposed ‘spirit’ of Vatican II.”


The editorial, whose date of publication also coincided with the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, highlights that “the good fruits of the council are innumerable and among these appears the gesture of mercy related to the bishops excommunicated in 1988.”


“A gesture,” the article explains, “that would have pleased John XXIII and his successors, in a pure offer that Benedict XVI, the Pope of peace, has wished to make public coinciding with the anniversary of the announcement of Vatican II, with the clear intention of seeing the painful fracture soon healed, an intention that will not be clouded by the unacceptable negative opinions and attitudes towards Judaism of some members of the community to which the Bishop of Rome has extended a hand.”


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Cardinal Urosa launches ‘intensive evangelistic action and ministry’ in Caracas

Caracas, Venezuela, Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - On Saturday, the Archbishop of Caracas launched the Great Continental Mission in the Venezuelan capital, calling it “a golden opportunity to renew our ecclesial structure and community,” to revive the religious faith and practice “of our Catholic people, and to give new impetus to evangelization.”

Speaking at the parish of Our Lady of Chiquinquira, Cardinal Jorge Urosa said the Great Mission “is a special grace” for the Church in Caracas.

“The strong secularization and religious indifference;” the scorn for the human person and human life; the loss of sexual mores; the decline in Mass attendance; and the weakening of marriage and the family demand “a new effort of evangelization and pastoral ministry - with new ardor, new methods and new expressions,” he said.

The cardinal explained that the first stage of the Great Mission is intended to motivate those in ministry and to recruit new evangelizers. This step will last from January 24 until Easter Sunday.

The next phase of missionary formation will last until the first Sunday of Advent and the final stage of evangelization will take place at the local level and last until the end of 2010. “We intend to carry out intense evangelistic action and ministry,” the cardinal explained.

He invited all of the faithful “to enthusiastically join in this activity,” as “disciples and missionaries of the Risen Jesus.”  “We entrust the success of the Mission to the maternal intercession of our loving Mother, Our Lady of Coromoto,” the cardinal concluded.

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Holy Father meets with French ambassador, discusses economy and international peace

Vatican City, Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - Today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Stanislas Lefebvre de Laboulaye, the new French ambassador to the Holy See. The Holy Father touched on several topics regarding France and the Vatican including bioethics, the economy and promoting peace.

After greeting the new ambassador, the Holy Father began speaking about the bioethical debate in France. The Pope spoke of his contentment "at the parliament having reached prudent conclusions, replete with humanity, on questions concerning the end of life. ... My hope is that this prudence, which recognizes the intangible nature of all human life, is upheld when it comes to revising the laws on bioethics."

Turning to the current economic crisis, the Pontiff noted that measures are needed that "favor social cohesion, protect those most exposed and, above all, restore to the majority of people the capacity and opportunity to become real players in an economy that creates true services and real wealth," he said.

After having expressed his pleasure at the French government's desire to enter into dialogue with the Catholic Church, Benedict XVI also thanked French bishops for their concern "to lay the foundations for inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, in which the various religious communities have an opportunity to demonstrate that they are agents for peace."

In the face "of the many crises currently characterizing the international scene ... the Holy See follows with concern situations of conflict and cases of violation of human rights; yet she does not doubt that the international community, in which France plays an important role, can make an ever more just and effective contribution in favor of peace and harmony among nations, and for the development of all countries."

The Holy Father concluded by reflecting on the Catholic communities in France "whose joy," he observed," will surely be great this year at the canonization of Jeanne Jugan, foundress of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor."

He continued, "This event will show once again how living faith is prodigious in good works, and how sanctity is a healing balm for the wounds of humankind."

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Pope prays for unity and reconciliation among Christians

Vatican City, Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - On Saturday afternoon, at the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Holy Father marked the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by presiding over the second Vespers of the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The Pope reminded his audience that is only by allowing ourselves to be conquered by the love of Christ that true unity can be achieved.

The ceremony, which this year coincided with the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of the Apostle, was attended by cardinals and bishops, as well as by representatives from other Churches and ecclesial communities.

In Pope Benedict’s homily, he reflected upon the conversion of St. Paul, saying "it presents us with a model of, and shows us the way to, full unity" which, "calls for conversion: from division to communion, from a lacerated unity, to a restored and complete unity."

The conversion of the Apostle to the Gentiles "was not a move from immorality to morality, from an erroneous faith to a correct faith, rather it was the fact of being conquered by the love of Christ, of renouncing one's own perfection. It was the humility of one who placed himself unreservedly at the service of Christ for his brothers and sisters. And it is only in this self-renunciation, in this conformity to Christ, that we also become united to one another, that we become 'one' in Christ. It is communion with the risen Christ that gives us unity."

The Pontiff continued, "Of course, the unity that God gives His Church, and for which we pray, is communion in a spiritual sense, in faith and in charity; yet we know that this unity in Christ is also a ferment for fraternity at a social level, in relations between nations and among the entire human family."

Benedict XVI then pointed out that "where human words are powerless because the tragic noise of violence and arms prevails, the prophetic power of the Word of God does not fail but repeats to us that peace is possible, and that we must be instruments of reconciliation and peace. Hence our prayer for unity and peace must always be backed up by courageous gestures of reconciliation among us Christians."

The Holy Father recalled that fifty years ago, Blessed John XXIII "first expressed his desire to call 'an ecumenical Council for the Universal Church'," which led to "a fundamental contribution to ecumenism, as recapitulated in the Decree 'Unitatis redintegratio'."

He continued, "The attitude of interior conversion to Christ, of spiritual renewal, of increased charity towards other Christians, has given rise to a new situation in ecumenical relations. The fruits of theological dialogue, with its points of agreement and with a more exact understanding of remaining differences, encourage us to continue courageously in two directions: in accepting what has been achieved and in a renewed commitment to the future."

"What remains before us is the horizon of complete unity," Benedict XVI concluded. "This is a demanding but stimulating task for Christians who wish to live in harmony with the prayer of the Lord: 'that they may all be one, that the world may believe'."


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Archbishop Chaput to bless new homeless shelter for women

Denver, Colo., Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - This evening, Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput will bless the Gift of Mary Homeless Shelter, operated by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.

The Denver charity, in their continuous search to serve the "poorest of the poor" has decided to move the shelter to a poorer neighborhood. Their new home, according to a press release from the archdiocese will be an old school building on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

"The sisters were looking for a poorer area to work," said St. Joseph pastor Rev. Jorge de los Santos. "Until now, they’ve been in [Capitol Hill]. ‘It’s not a poor area anymore,’ they told me. They found St. Joseph’s Parish to be a good place where they could work for the poor, live with the poor, and also help the homeless."

Beginning at 6 p.m. on Monday, January 26, Archbishop Chaput will join the parish community and the Missionary sisters in blessing the new location. The welcoming ceremony will begin with Mass at 6 p.m., followed by a Eucharistic procession from the main church to the shelter’s new chapel. In the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, Archbishop Chaput will then offer a prayerful blessing upon the building.

The Gift of Mary Shelter is dedicated to providing housing and spiritual support to homeless women specifically. The shelter is capable of housing a total of eight women, providing them personal living accommodations, food, gathering space and spiritual guidance.

Since the closing of St. Joseph’s Catholic school in 1993, the parish has used the building for various religious classes and activities. The Archdiocese of Denver has since donated over $300,000 towards renovation of the building, in preparation for the shelter’s needs.

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Benedict XVI thanks Chaldean prelates for courage in the face of violence

Vatican City, Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - On Saturday at the Vatican, the Holy Father met with prelates from the Chaldean Catholic Church who had just concluded their "ad limina" visit. During their meeting with the Pope, the Chaldean bishops presented him with a cape used by Archbishop Faraj Rahho of Mosul and a stole belonging to Fr. Ragheed Aziz Ganni, both killed in Iraq over recent months.

Through Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, the Pope sent greetings to all the Chaldean faithful, assuring them of his fervent prayers "at this very difficult time for your region, especially for Iraq." Recalling Archbishop Rahho and Fr. Ganni, he said: "I ask God that the men and women of peace in that beloved region may unite their efforts to put an end to violence and enable everyone to live in security and mutual harmony."

The Pope then spoke of the origins of the Chaldean Church "which stretch back to the first centuries of the Christian era" and have a "long and noble tradition." He then explained that today, the Church remains an important institution in the country and must continue to serve the people and assist them in spiritual development.

The Holy Father then invited the Chaldean bishops to place the Word of God at the center of their pastoral activities and projects, because "it is on faithfulness to that Word that unity among all the faithful is founded, in communion with pastors." In that patriarchal Church, he went on, "the synodal assembly is an indubitable gift which must be used as a means to help make ties of communion stronger and more effective, and to experience inter-episcopal charity," because the synod "is the place where co-responsibility is effectively achieved thanks to real collaboration among its members."

"Furthermore the Chaldean Church, above all in Iraq where it is the largest [Christian community], has a particular responsibility to promote the communion and unity of the mystical body of Christ. Thus I invite you to continue meeting with pastors of other 'sui iuris' Churches, and with leaders of other Christian Churches, in order to further the cause of ecumenism."

The Pope also dwelt on the critical situations bishops have to face, in the first place that of the "faithful who must confront the daily threat of violence," and he expressed his appreciation "for your courage and tenacity in the face of the ordeals and dangers to which you are subject, especially in Iraq."

He then asked the bishops "to help your faithful overcome current difficulties and affirm your presence, appealing to those in charge for the recognition of your human and civil rights." and he invited them "to love the land of your ancestors to which you remain so deeply rooted."

Finally the Pope praised "the Church's witness of charity towards all those in need, without distinction of origin or religion. This cannot but stimulate all people of good will to expressions of solidarity." In Iraq, "despite the terrible moments the country has gone through", such witness has given rise to works of charity "which do honor to God, the Church and the Iraqi people."

"I invite you," he concluded, "to continue your mission with courage and hope. ... May the prayers and assistance of your brothers and sisters in the faith, and of so many people of good will, accompany you, that God's loving gaze may continue to illuminate the long-suffering Iraqi people."

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Japanese corporations cut workday to boost birth rate

Tokyo, Japan, Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - Japanese electronics giant Canon and other, seeking to boost Japan’s flagging birth rate, now allows employees to leave early twice a week to encourage them to have more children.

The Japanese birth rate is 1.34 children per woman, well below the 2.1 required to maintain population size, CNN reports. Its population is aging at a faster pace than any other country in the world.

Japan’s 12-hour workday is one factor blamed for the low birth rate, in addition to the country’s high cost of living and social rigidity towards women and parenting.

"It's great that we can go home early and not feel ashamed," Canon employee Miwa Iwasaki told CNN.

"Canon has a very strong birth planning program," Canon spokesman Hiroshi Yoshinaga said to CNN. "Sending workers home early to be with their families is a part of it."

Canon’s 5:30 pm “lights-out” program also helps the company cut overtime expenses during the global economic downturn.

Keidanren, Japan’s largest business group with a membership of 1,300 major corporations, has asked its members to let employees go home early to spend time with families and help improve the birth rate.

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Monsignor William Smith, medical ethicist, dies at 69

, Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - Monsignor William Smith, a leading Catholic medical ethicist, died on Saturday at a hospital in Yonkers, New York. He was 69.

A native of Yonkers, Monsignor Smith was ordained a priest in 1966, the Journal News reports. Shortly afterward, Cardinal Terence Cooke chose him to pursue a doctorate in moral theology and return to teach at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.

He became a leading Catholic spokesman on issues like abortion, reproduction, euthanasia, stem cell research and cloning.

His wake will be observed at St. Joseph Seminary on Sunday afternoon and evening. An additional wake will be Tuesday afternoon, with a Mass of the Holy Eucharist to be celebrated at 7:30 p.m. by seminary rector Bishop Gerald Walsh. According to the Journal News, Rev. Donald Haggerty will be the homilist.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on behalf of Monsignor Smith at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Scarsdale, where the monsignor had celebrated Sunday Mass for years. Cardinal Edward Egan will be the principal celebrant, while Monsignor James O'Connor will be the homilist.

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Kmiec considers himself a candidate for Vatican ambassadorship

Malibu, Calif., Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - Pepperdine University law professor Doug Kmiec, a pro-life advocate of President Barack Obama’s election, has stated that he thinks he will be considered as a choice for U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

Kmiec and his wife attended a private worship service with President Obama the morning of the presidential inauguration and also attended the Illinois inaugural ball that evening, Pepperdine’s student newspaper The Graphic reports.

"The President is nowhere close to determining such things because of the order of events … everyone's first order of business is economic recovery," Kmiec said, according to The Graphic. "At the appropriate time, when diplomatic relations through the State Department need to be addressed, I think my name would be part of the discussion."

Kmiec, who served as legal counsel for the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, has recently been criticized for his contention that a pro-life Catholic could vote for Obama in good conscience.

The U.S. Ambassador under George W. Bush, Mary Ann Glendon submitted her resignation to the White House prior to President Obama's Inauguration, as is customary for all ambassadors when a new President is elected, reports Inside the Vatican.

In a Catholic News Service Story updated on January 26, after the first Vatican negative reaction to the Obama administration, John Thavis wrote: "the Vatican is closely watching for Obama's choice of a new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. An early appointment would be viewed at the Vatican as a sign of the president's interest and attention to the Holy See."

The choice of ambassador is, of course, up to the president. One informed Vatican official dismissed an earlier report that the Vatican, in a nod toward conservative Catholics, might veto the appointment of a high-profile Catholic supporter of Obama. Rejecting an ambassador for those kinds of political motives is not in the tradition of Vatican diplomacy and would, in fact, be very dangerous, the official said."

President Obama’s reversal of the Mexico City Policy, which had prohibited federal funding of international groups that promote or perform abortions, prompted Vatican officials’ first critical response of his presidency.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has criticized "Among the many good things that he could have done, Barack Obama instead has chosen the worst," he said.

"I do not believe that those who voted for him (Obama) took into consideration ethical themes, which were astutely left aside during the election debate. The majority of the American population does not take the same position as the president and his team."

In November, a Vatican official with the Secretary of State denied that Prof. Kmiec has a chance of becoming a U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, telling CNA under condition of anonymity "This will never happen."

CNA recently consulted the same official, who said:

"Obviously the Holy See will not openly veto Kmiec's appointment. But the process is not that simple. There are always back channel consultations with the (Vatican) Secretary of State, and there is no chance that he (Kmiec) will pass that test.

"There are many ways to tell the Obama administration way in advance that such an appointment would not be a good idea. There are many other candidates, Catholic or not, that would not spark the kind of antagonism and division that Professor Kmiec has sparked, as he himself has recently admitted," the official told CNA.

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Pelosi attempts to justify funding for contraception in economic stimulus package

Washington D.C., Jan 26, 2009 (CNA) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in a Sunday interview tried to justify the inclusion of hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for contraceptives in the $825 billion economic stimulus package by claiming family planning services “reduce cost.”


Speaker Pelosi made her comments in an appearance on ABC’s This Week with host George Stephanopoulos.


Stephanopoulos asked how the expansion of “family planning services” could be considered an economic stimulus.  The Speaker replied:


“Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.”


Stephanopoulos responded, “So no apologies for that?”


“No apologies. No,” Speaker Pelosi replied. “We have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.”


Speaker Pelosi is a self-described Catholic. However, Catholic teaching considers contraceptive use an intrinsic evil.


The “family planning services” in the stimulus package “would expand federal funding for contraception through Medicaid, allowing those not poor enough to be currently eligible for Medicaid to nonetheless qualify for the contraception aid,” reports


The article goes on to explain that the Clinton administration created a program allowing individual states to “seek a waiver to offer Medicaid ‘family planning’ services to those who are otherwise not qualified for Medicaid.”  Once the state receives the waiver, “the federal government matches state Medicaid family planning funds with $9 in federal money for every $1 the state spends.”


Under Pelosi’s provision, states would not need to apply for the waiver to receive the 9-1 federal contraception funding. also reported that even the White House has backed away from Pelosi saying that the family planning provision was not President Obama’s idea.



Father Tom Euteneur of Human Life International also criticized Speaker Pelosi’s economic reasoning.


“She presents as self-evident the idea that children are a hindrance to improving states' economies. Lies don't become truth by repeating them, they only become more acceptable,” he commented to CNA.


“The problem is, however, that it is sick. We must never reduce a human being to his or her economic value. The Speaker is no more ‘Catholic’ than she is an economic expert,” he charged.


“What she and her fellow anti-life crusaders are doing is trying to sneak their destructive ideology into law by convincing the ignorant that it is fiscally necessary,” he continued. “‘Never waste a crisis,’ is how Rahm Emmanuel, Obama's new Chief of Staff put it.


“When people are scared, they'll agree to almost anything that is presented as a solution to their problem, even if, as is the case here, it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with economic stimulus. This is an insult to both the intelligence and the moral consciences of the people she is supposed to represent.”


Even if Speaker Pelosi could prove that having fewer children is a net benefit for the economy, Father Euteneur said the moral cost of contraception must also be considered.


According to Father Euteneur, Russian demographics provide a cautionary example.


“Look at Russia, the birthplace of the progressive ideal of widely available contraception and abortion. Their birthrate is now the lowest in the developed world. There are more abortions than live births in Russia and they can't seem to change people's minds back to the idea of having children.


“Their society is crumbling as the few young people they have decide they don't want to pay for their elders' care, or they simply leave. Russia, once the bright light of the future for "progressives", now is evidence of what this deep spiritual illness does when it is allowed to run amok in a formerly beautiful and rich Christian culture. Will we learn from their example and reject contraception and abortion as a solution to society's ills?”


He suggested that Planned Parenthood and its subsidies will be the obvious beneficiaries of the contraceptive funding.


“You'll also see increased promotion of contraception in state hospitals and in ‘education’ to young people in our schools,” he predicted.


“We are reminded time and again that the demons of abortion and contraception cannot be defeated by us in our political efforts alone.... It is going to require renewed prayer, fasting, and conversion of our hearts. We pray that it is not too late and we have hope based on our faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ,” Father Euteneur’s e-mail to CNA concluded.


CNA also sought comment from Dr. William Luckey, former chairman of the Political Science and Economics Department at Christendom College and author of the CNA column “Indispensible Economics.”


Luckey asked how long Speaker Pelosi expects the recession to last.


“Children conceived today will be born 9 months from now. Does she think that the economy will be in recession then? How can she tell? So even if these plans went into effect today, which is impossible given the time Congress takes to do anything, the economic downturn will probably be reversed by then.”


He also stated that Speaker Pelosi appears to think that children are an economic burden to society. He said the number of children who use public services must be considered, wagering that they are only “a small minority.”


In the long run, Dr. Luckey said, “most every child born now grows up to be a positive contributor to society.  People, with rare exceptions, produce more than they consume. If you cut back on the population, you cut back on production.”


He told CNA that many European countries are suffering demographic decline from birth control policies.


Finally, he asked, “where is the logic that says that if you take money from me to give to others so that they can have sexual pleasure without taking responsibility for it, the economy will be helped? Why not just let me keep my money in the first place to spend on more valuable things for my family?”


He called the contraception initiative “immoral” and “completely based in ignorance.”


“She is probably buying votes from the birth control lobby—and abortion will be next as a solution to our economic woes,” Dr. Luckey claimed.


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