Archive of February 5, 2009

Fewer Catholic campuses performing ‘V-Monologues’

Manassas, Va., Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) claims that performances of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ are in “steady decline” after years of protest.

When the play was at its peak in 2003, performances were scheduled for 32 U.S. Catholic university campuses.

Performances for 2009 are scheduled for only 15 Catholic campuses, including DePaul University, the College of the Holy Cross, Fordham University, Georgetown University, the University of San Francisco and Loyola University Chicago.

The play is sexually explicit and favorably describes lesbian activity, group self-abuse, and the lesbian seduction and rape of a teenage girl.

CNS has often headed many protests against the play’s performances, which are sometimes linked to anti-domestic violence campaigns.

“We are hearing from more Catholic college and university officials that they are appalled by the content of the V-Monologues, but they feel compelled to allow campus productions as an exercise of academic freedom,” Patrick J. Reilly, CNS President, said in a statement. “In fact, there is no academic value to a third-rate, vile play presented to celebrate lesbian activity, objectify women and sell tickets, no matter how worthy the cause.”

“Catholic colleges and universities have a duty first and foremost to present the Truth to students,” Reilly continued. “The Holy Father has made it clear that ‘academic freedom’ can no longer be used as cover for ignoring the abuse of Catholic identity. A growing number of Catholic educators are embracing Pope Benedict’s vision for the future.”

The CNS called on its members and others concerned for “authentic Catholic identity” to contact the presidents of Catholic colleges with scheduled performances.

“CNS encourages protesters to be charitable and respectful, with the understanding that most Monologues productions are not officially sponsored by the colleges and universities but should nevertheless be prevented by policies consistent with Catholic education.”

A full list of Catholic colleges hosting performances of the play is available at the CNS website,

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New video reveals ‘lawbreaking’ Tucson Planned Parenthood

Tucson, Ariz., Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - A third Planned Parenthood clinic has been exposed as willing to cover up statutory rape after UCLA student investigator Lila Rose released more hidden-camera footage of Tucson Planned Parenthood counselors advising a 15-year-old not to bring her 27-year-old “boyfriend” to a judicial hearing to waive parental consent requirements.

In Arizona, sexual relations between an adult and a 15-year-old is a felony. The law also requires the reporting of statutory rape.

The investigative video was produced by Live Action Films as part of its Mona Lisa Project.

In the video, Live Action President Lila Rose accompanies her friend Jackie Stollar into a Tucson Planned Parenthood clinic. Stollar poses as a 15-year-old girl

The staffer informs Stellar that a surgical abortion costs $425 in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. “But if you go more than 12 weeks then your prices go up.”

When the actor seeking to secure an abortion tells the staffer she is 15 years old, the staffer says: “Yeah, we are going to be needing a consentment [sic] from your parents. If you don’t want your parents to know, I need to give you some papers so you can go…”

When Stellar interrupts, saying her parents can’t know about the abortion, the staffer continues:

“OK, so we can help you out. Let me get you some information, OK?”

Stellar and Rose then talk about a “judicial bypass” with a Planned Parenthood counselor named as “Araceli.” The counselor advises Stellar to “dress up nicely” for the court appearance.

“You want to look mature,” she says, advising that Stellar should look like she knows what she is getting into.

Other footage shows the counselor explaining the abortion procedure to Stellar and Rose, describing the instruments used.

She remarked that the abortion will be “a little bit uncomfortable” but “it doesn’t hurt.”

Turning to the topic of the baby’s supposed father, the counselor says “They say it’s better to have him with you for support.”

"Is he not a minor?" the Planned Parenthood counselor asks.

Rose, speaking on behalf of Stellar, says, "He's 27.”

“I wouldn't take him with me, no. I mean, don't take him,” the Planned Parenthood counselor says.

When Stellar asks if she will be asked about the father, the counselor says:

“You don’t have to say anything.”

Commenting in a Feb. 3 press release, Rose said: "These videos demonstrate that Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, is entrenched in an organization-wide policy of circumventing state law and concealing the sexual abuse of young girls."

Rose reported that Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at an event sponsored by Planned Parenthood. She then urged Arizona prosecutors to investigate the full extent of Planned Parenthood’s “sexual abuse cover-up.”

"Our footage gives the Arizona public and law enforcement a rare window into Planned Parenthood's careless abortion-first ideology," Rose stated. "With abortion as their first and only solution for the abused victim, Planned Parenthood assists sexual predators by violating the very Arizona state laws that protect children."

"Planned Parenthood is not above the law,” she argued. “They must cooperate with Arizona state authorities to reveal the full extent of their lawbreaking."

Live Action Films’ Mona Lisa Project exposed similar negligence in reporting statutory rape at two Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana. Both clinics either fired or suspended employees and state prosecutors launched investigations into Planned Parenthood of Indiana.

The video of the Tucson investigation is available at

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Deputy U.S. Attorney General nominee linked to porn industry

Washington D.C., Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - President Barack Obama’s selection of David Ogden to become Deputy Attorney General is being criticized because of Ogden’s links to the pornography industry.

A brief from the Chicago-based pro-family group Fidelis reports that Ogden has represented pornography businesses such as Playboy Enterprises and Penthouse Magazine.

He opposed the Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2000 as counsel of record for an amicus brief supporting the American Library Association in a case that challenged mandatory anti-obscenity internet filters in public libraries.

In the 1986 case American Council for the Blind v. Boorstin, he successfully sought a court order forcing the Library of Congress to use taxpayer funds to print Playboy Magazine’s articles in Braille.

Ogden also successfully challenged laws requiring pornography producers to personally verify that models were over 18 at the time their materials were made. According to the Fidelis brief, he argued that the decision would “burden too heavily and infringe too deeply on the right to produce First Amendment protected material.”

In other areas, Ogden has argued for homosexuals in the military and an unlimited abortion license.

In an amicus brief for the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision which reaffirmed Roe v. Wade’s mandating of permissive abortion laws, Ogden argued that abortion “rarely causes or exacerbates psychological or emotional problems.”

“The few women who do experience negative psychological responses after abortion appear to be those with preexisting emotional problems,” he continued.

He argued that evidence shows abortion is more likely to make women “experience feelings of relief and happiness” and claimed childbirth and childrearing or adoption may pose “concomitant (if not greater) risks or adverse psychological effects” compared to the effects of abortion.

In a Wednesday press release, Brian Burch, President of Fidelis, called Ogden “a hired gun from Playboy and ACLU.”

“Ogden’s record is nothing short of obscene,” he charged, adding: “David Ogden has collected checks from Playboy and Penthouse to fight reasonable protections for parents and children from pornography.”

“He can’t run from his long record of opposing common sense laws protecting families, women, and children.  The United States Senate has a responsibility to the American people to ensure that Mr. Ogden’s full record is fully reviewed before any vote on his nomination.”

“A vast majority of Americans support parental notification before a minor’s abortion and protecting kids from Internet pornography in our libraries,” Burch continued. “Yet David Ogden has fought tooth and nail against these common sense laws protecting our children from harm. At a time when America’s families are under increasing assault, Mr. Ogden is a dangerous choice for a position whose responsibilities include the enforcement of our nation’s laws.”

According to a July 2008 essay in New Yorker Magazine Ogden is not the only one with ties to the pornography industry.

The essay reported that Christine Hefner, who then headed Playboy Enterprises, played a role in supporting Barack Obama’s political career as early as 2002. Her support began after she met him at a gathering of an influential Chicago women’s group called Ladies Who Lunch.

“I was very proud to be able to introduce him during the Senate race to a lot of people who have turned out to be important and valuable to him, not just here but in New York and L.A.,” Hefner told New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza.

“I try and think about people who I think should know him,” Hefner said.

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Social justice group targets Republican senators over stimulus bill

Denver, Colo., Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - The group Catholics United is trying to rally support for President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan by running advertisements on Christian radio appealing to faith and targeting Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) in their respective states.

The aids will air in 18 cities on over two dozen radio stations during the morning rush hour on Thursday, Feb. 5, a Catholics United press release states. The radio ads coincide with an email and radio campaign that Democrats are launching to garner support for President Obama’s stimulus package.

Catholics United argues that the economic recovery bill has “essential provisions” for struggling families and describes its passage as “of great importance to the faith community.”

The group says that Catholic social services and other faith-based organizations who care for the homeless, the hungry and the vulnerable “see the need for urgent action.”

The radio spot begins with a man’s voice asking “What are you praying for? What’s on your heart?”

“I am praying for my family during this economic crisis,” the narrator says. “Too many of us are asking: ‘How long will I be able to keep my job? How am I going to pay rent this month? Are my kids going to have a better future?’

“As Christians, we can do better. In Acts, chapter 4 verse 34, Luke states that in the early Christian communities ‘there was no needy person among them.’

“President Obama has a plan to help struggling families by creating jobs.  And we need it now more than ever.

“Help make it happen,” the ad concludes, asking listeners to call Sen. Specter or Sen. Voinovich, depending on the broadcast area.

“Catholics and people of all faiths expect an economy that works for everyone not simply a privileged few,” Chris Korzen, Executive Director of Catholics United, commented in a press release. “Jesus calls us to care for the least among us. That means looking out for our neighbors who are losing their homes, those who are unemployed and all those who are suffering.  We need this legislation to pass. It’s not about politics. It’s about moral responsibility.”

Sen. Specter is one of the most pro-abortion rights Republicans in the Senate, while Sen. Voinovich received a 100 percent rating in 2006 from the National Right to Life Committee.

Catholics United describes itself as “a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition.”

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput accused groups like Catholics United of doing a “disservice to the Church” and undermining pro-life progress through what he called their “Democratic-friendly” work.

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Conference on Faith and Evolution to be officially announced at the Vatican

Rome, Italy, Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - On February 10, the Vatican will officially announce the details of the international conference called “Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories. A critical appraisal 150 years after ‘The Origin of Species’," which will take place from March 3-7, 2009.

The conference, organized by the Pontifical Gregorian University and the University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA) and sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture, will be presented  by Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture;  Prof. P. Marc Leclerc S.J. of the Pontifical Gregorian University, who is also the Director of the event;  Prof.  Giuseppe Tanzella-Nitti of the Pontifical University of the Santa Croce; and  Dr. Saverio Forestiero, Professor of Zoology at the Roman University of  Tor Vergata, and member of the organizing committee.

The event, which is part of the Vatican-sponsored "Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest" (STOQ) project, will explore the commonalities between a moderate Evolutionism and Faith.

Some American academics have complained that renowned scientists from the "Intelligent Design" school of thought have not been invited to participate.

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Phoenix priest to become bishop of Gallup, New Mexico

Phoenix, Ariz., Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - This morning, the Holy Father appointed a Phoenix priest, Fr. James S. Wall as the new bishop of Gallup, New Mexico.  Fr. Wall, 44, will be the diocese’s fourth bishop.


Fr. Wall, the current Vicar for Priests for the Diocese of Phoenix, was born in 1964 in Ganado, Arizona on the Navajo reservation.  After studying History at Arizona State University, he went on to earn a Master of Divinity degree from St. John Seminary in Camarillo California, Jim Dwyer from the Diocese of Phoenix told CNA.


He was then ordained a priest for the Diocese of Phoenix in 1998.


Since then, Fr. Wall has served several parishes and is currently both the Vicar of Priests for the diocese and the Director of Mount Claret Retreat Center in Phoenix.


The bishop-elect will continue his duties in the Diocese of Phoenix until he is consecrated as a bishop. The date for his consecration is not yet determined.


Bishop-elect Wall will fill the position left vacant when Bishop Donald E. Pelotte, who retired in April 2008.  Bishop Pelotte attracted national attention when, in 2007, he fell down the stairs in his home, causing doctors to suspect he was the victim of an assault.  The bishop maintained he was not attacked by anyone.


Later that year, Bishop Pelotte went on medical leave, and since January 2008, Bishop Thomas Olmstead from the Diocese of Phoenix has overseen the diocese.


Bishop-elect Wall will serve 58,000 Catholics and 53 priests.

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Africa, JP II tribute on Pope's agenda

Vatican City, Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations today released the list of ceremonies that Pope Benedict will preside over during the next three months. Highlights of his schedule include: the annual spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia, the Pope’s trip to Africa, a commemoration of Pope John Paul II and the celebrations surrounding Easter.


Saturday 21-- At 11 a.m. in the Clementine Hall, consistory for certain causes of canonization.

Wednesday 25-- Ash Wednesday. At 4.30 p.m. in the basilica of Sant'Anselmo, "statio" and penitential procession. At 5 p.m. in the basilica of Santa Sabina, blessing and imposition of the ashes.


Sunday 1-- First Sunday of Lent. At 6 p.m. in the Apostolic Palace's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel, beginning of the spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia.

 Saturday 7-- At 9 a.m. in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel, conclusion of the spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia.

Tuesday 17 to Monday 23-- Apostolic trip to Cameroon and Angola.

Sunday 29-- Fifth Sunday of Lent. Pastoral visit to the Roman parish of the Holy Face of Jesus. At 9 a.m., celebration of the Eucharist.


Thursday 2-- At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Mass attended by young people from the diocese of Rome for the anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II.

Sunday 5-- Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord. At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, blessing of palms, procession and Mass.

Thursday 9-- Holy Thursday. At 9.30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Chrism Mass. At 5.30 p.m. in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, beginning of the Easter Triduum with the Mass of the Last Supper.

Friday 10-- Good Friday. At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, celebration of the Lord's Passion. At 9.15 p.m. at the Colosseum, Way of the Cross.

Saturday 11-- Holy Saturday. At 9 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Easter vigil.

Sunday 12-- Easter Sunday. Mass in St. Peter's Square at 10.30 a.m. At midday, from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.

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Woman conceived through rape pleads for life of unborn child in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - A 21 year-old Argentinean woman, whose mother is mentally ill and was raped in 1987, has written a moving letter pleading for the life of an unborn child of a 22 year-old woman from Santiago del Estero who is also mentally handicapped and was raped. The child’s maternal grandparents are asking permission to have the baby aborted.

“My twin sister and I are today almost 22 years-old and despite all of the misfortunes (as my grandmother says) that we have experienced, we are two warriors of life who are anxious to do something good with our lives, and I think this three month-old unborn baby hopes for the same,” the woman wrote in her letter published by Tucuman Noticias.

The woman, who preferred to remain anonymous, said she identified with the situation in Santiago del Estero, but not from the point of view of the law or the woman who was raped, but rather “from the point of view of the baby.”

In her letter, she explained that both she and her sister were raised by their grandmother and that her mother is “like a big sister.” She recalled that her mother suffered “a lot in her life” and that although she had experienced a lot of problems, she had a happy childhood.

She acknowledged that at different times she wondered why she didn’t have a father, until after much insistence as a teenager her mother finally told her the truth: “You don’t have a father. I was raped. I didn’t tell you before because I couldn’t tell a 12 year-old girl that she was the result of a rape and that I was willing to give you both away or give you up for adoption.”

“She thought about giving us up for adoption but she never considered abortion. She never considered taking away our chance to live, even though she was mentally ill, she never considered killing us, even though she didn’t want us,” the woman recalled, saying she loves her mother “because she is my mother” and because “she had the courage to tell me what happened and I can share her pain with her.”

She thanked Luciano Pavan, a lawyer from Santiago del Estero, for offering to adopt the baby of the mentally handicapped woman whose parents want to force her to undergo an abortion.

“If the family of the young woman can’t or don’t want to (take care of the baby) for whatever reason, I am happy to know that there are people who will and who are against abortion,” she wrote.

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Venezuelan bishop deplores attacks on main synagogue of Caracas

Caracas, Venezuela, Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - In a statement released Wednesday, the leadership of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela expressed its “consternation and pain” over a January 31 attack on a Jewish synagogue in Caracas.

The bishops described the attack as a “violation of a sacred space and the profanation of the most treasured religious symbols of the Jewish religion.”

This unprecedented act “in the history of our country is foreign to the spirit of tolerance and welcome that is traditional to the Venezuelan people; moreover, it is an attack on the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution about the person and religious freedom,” the bishops said.

They went on to say that “no person or religious group should be coerced or intimidated in religious matters against their conscience, nor should the teaching or public profession of faith be inhibited. Civil officials have the duty to protect and promote this right, just as they do with other inviolable rights of mankind.”

The bishops expressed their “prayer and solidarity” with the entire Jewish community of Caracas and Venezuela and said they hoped “violence and intolerance will give way to unity and dialogue among all the inhabitants of the country, with regard to origin, race or religious creed.”

According to the daily El Nacional, a group of “at least 15 armed men broke into the synagogue on Friday night and spent several hours destroying sacred objects and painting graffiti on the walls, until the early morning hours when they escaped.”

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Society has duty to help Eluana live, says Archbishop of Udine

Udine, Italy, Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Pietro Brollo of Udine, where the “Terri Shiavo of Italy” is facing death by starvation, said on Wednesday, “The only duty society has towards this young woman is to help her to live.”

“Udine is ready to embrace Eluana Englaro, a daughter of this land. Upon learning of her arrival, I ask first of all that this woman be guaranteed care, hydration, nutrition and every means that someone who is sick, particularly someone who is very incapacitated, is due by those who have the professional duty in conscience to provide a cure,” the archbishop wrote in a statement published by the SIR news agency.

Upon learning of the case of Eluana Englaro, who is at a local hospital where her father intends to euthanize her, Archbishop Brollo said, “At this time, after court rulings and debates, in order to leave no room for confusion or misunderstanding, I reiterate that the only duty society has towards Eulana is to help her live.”

“All of the natural dynamics of a living organism are at work within her, and we have no way of knowing about what she experiencing interiorly.” Archbishop Brollo also asserted that “whoever says her medically assisted nutrition and hydration should be suspended is saying the death of this defenseless woman should be artificially provoked, in an act of true euthanasia.”

For this reason, the archbishop called on “everyone in conscience who understands that she is a living person to demand she be protected, and on those who still have some doubt to have the wisdom and prudence to abstain from any irreparable decision.”

He urged the faithful of the archdiocese the pray for Eluana, emphasizing that “prayer can change the course of events, enlighten souls and sustain us in our sorrow. Every Christian of this diocese should know that with faith nothing is lost,” he said.

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Obama taps young liberal Evangelical to head Faith-Based office

Washington D.C., Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - Joshua DuBois, a 26-year-old former associate pastor who handled religious outreach for President Barack Obama’s presidential bid, will head up the administration’s new Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Mr. DuBois, who grew up in Nashville, Tennesse, and Xenia, Ohio, is the stepson of a minister at an African Methodist Episcopal church, a branch of Christianity born in protest against slavery in 1816.

While studying at Boston University, Mr. DuBois became an evangelical Christian and joined Calvary Praise and Worship Center, a small African-American Pentecostal congregation in Cambridge. He became an associate pastor at age 18.

He started his political career as an aide to Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), then took a position as a fellow in the office of Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), both  staunchly pro-abortion. He has also participated in Sojourners, a group of liberal Christians headed by Jim Wallis that claims to be pro-life without working to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Sen. Obama hired DuBois in 2005 to spearhead a religious outreach program in his senate office, and he quickly became Obama's consultant on all faith-related issues.

In 2007, the liberal group "Faith in Public Life" described DuBois as "guarded in discussing his personal positions" on critical issues, especially abortion.

In fact, he resisted disclosing his view on abortion during an interview with the evangelical magazine WORD in 2007. Nevertheless, he has adhered to the "let's move beyond the legal battle and let's reduce abortions" argument that has been promoted by organizations like Catholics United and Catholic in Alliance for the Common Good. Both claim to be non-partisan, but have significant ties with the Democrat Party.

"Abortion is certainly a deeply moral issue, but so is struggling to afford decent health care for your family, or straining to put food on your table," DuBois said to a group of Catholics considering a vote for Obama during the campaign.

So far, DuBois has received praise from several Catholic organizations that openly or subtly supported Obama despite his pro-abortion record, such as Catholics for Obama and the Matthew 25 Network.

Speaking to the Washington Times, Bill Donohue expressed his concern over DuBois' association with groups involved in what he believes is "diluting" Catholic identity.

Mr. DuBois "has been very skilled, very deft," he added. "His entire Catholic outreach was toward groups who said they opposed abortion but agreed with Obama on every decision he made. These were new Catholic organizations that served the Obama agenda."

In a speech Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama outlined how the new faith-based office under DuBois will be different from that of the Bush administration. The president said the initiative "will not be to favor one religious group over another -- or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line our founders wisely drew between church and state."

DuBois said on Wednesday that Obama will sign an executive order requiring his office to seek guidance from the attorney general on constitutional issues, including religious hiring.

In other words, support provided to faith based organizations will be handled on a case by case basis –but in consultation with a Justice Department reshaped by Obama with personalities that make pro-life organizations nervous.

Critics believe that such a process of consultation will lead to a system that only funds religious organizations if they have ideological similarities with the president's agenda.

In a statement following the appointment of DuBois, Donohue said that “those who walk in the middle of the street risk getting run over by cars on both sides. We know what President Obama wants—he said during the campaign that religious organizations that receive federal monies should not have the right to determine who works for them. But now he’s preoccupied with issues of a more urgent matter. Thus, the balk.

“Sending requests on a case by case basis to lawyers to examine the constitutional questions is a ruse: We already know what the law says. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, in Section 702 (a), specifically allows an exemption for religious organizations in hiring. The legislators who passed this historic act knew that for the government to deny religious organizations that receive public monies the right to determine who should service its constituents would effectively neuter them. That position is as true today as it was then.

“It was also announced today that this office will expand its domain by working with the National Security Council ‘to foster interfaith dialogue with leaders and scholars around the world.’ Bunk. What in the world does servicing the poor and promoting responsible fatherhood—two of the four priorities outlined by DuBois—have to do with having the National Security Council sit down with Ahmadinejad for a chat? This is just another way to gut faith-based initiatives."

Other experts believe that Obama's approach to his Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will not only be prone to bias, but also lead to dangerous social consequences.

Speaking about groups with longstanding government grants or contracts, such as the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, that take religion into account in hiring, Dr. Carlson-Thies, director of social policy for the Center for Public Justice told the Christian Science Monitor that “maybe in an economic crisis, when calling for all hands on deck, it’s not the best thing to pass a ban and discover the fallout later.”

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Attacks on federal marriage protections could create ‘legal Armageddon’

Washington D.C., Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - Radical left-wing Democrats’ attempts to repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) could lead to “rapacious lawsuits” and “legal Armageddon,” one commentator warns.

Niger Innis, who is an advisory board member of Alliance for Marriage and national spokesperson for the Congress of Racial Equality, wrote in the Feb. 4 Washington Times commentary that President Barack Obama should not inflict “great harm” upon the “future of marriage” by allying with those who “falsely invoke” the Civil Rights movement to “radically” change the definition of marriage.

Innis claimed that certain legislators and their media allies are pushing for a repeal of DOMA, which he called the “legal underpinning” of marriage amendments passed in 30 states.

He wrote that DOMA provides federal statutory protection to states against legal efforts to force them to recognize same-sex “marriage” through federal court decisions.

“This statutory protection is now more important than ever, as witnessed by the rapacious lawsuits of radical activists in California,” he argued in the Washington Times. “If federal DOMA falls, every state marriage amendment stands to be overturned by activists in federal court.”

He said an example of the “intense level of legal Armageddon” may be witnessed in California, where in May 2008 the California Supreme Court “voided” the California Defense of Marriage Act passed by voters in 2000.

Even though the successful passage of Proposition 8 in the November 2008 elections reversed the state Supreme Court, that legal status may not hold, Innis warned, because the same justices are deciding upon the constitutionality of Proposition 8.

“A court ruling voiding a second democratic vote on marriage in the nation's most populous state would mark the beginning of the end for democracy in America,” Innis claimed.

He argued that the redefinition of marriage has resulted in freedom of religion, association and conscience being “trampled upon.” He cited the decision of Catholic Charities in Boston to end its adoption services because it could not place children with homosexual couples as required by a new Massachusetts law.

“What happened in Massachusetts is simply a foretaste of what is to come to every state from California to Missouri to Virginia - with or without state constitutional amendments - if federal DOMA falls.”

For this reason, he said the Congress of Racial Equality and the Alliance for Marriage have launched

“While the battle over the repeal of federal DOMA may largely go unnoticed among a financially battered and worried general public, its outcome will undoubtedly leave a legacy for future generations well beyond the nation's financial meltdown,” Innis wrote in the Washington Times.

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Vatican spokesman says Curia needs a culture of communication

Vatican City, Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - Citing poor handling of the lifting of the excommunication on the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi called for the creation of a “communications culture” at the Vatican.

The lifting of the excommunication provoked much controversy and negative media coverage, especially following revelations that SSPX Bishop William Richardson had made statements minimizing the suffering of Jews during the Holocaust.

“We didn't control the communications,” Fr. Lombardi said to the French daily La Croix.

Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to lift the excommunications was initially announced by the Vatican Press Office in a simple statement accompanied by a Vatican legal document.

According to Fr. Lombardi, the communiqué accompanying the announcement “left too much in doubt, giving rise to different interpretations.”

"I think we still have to create a communications culture inside the Curia, where each dicastery (ministry) communicates by itself, not necessarily thinking of going through the press room or issuing an explanatory note when the issue is complex," Fr. Lombardi said to La Croix.

He said that the Vatican could have avoided the recent controversy if it had issued the order for Bishop Williamson to recant his views along with the announcement of the removal of the excommunications.

"Especially when it's about hot topics, it's better to prepare the explanations," he told La Croix.

While some Vatican documents are meant for specialists of canon law or theology, he explained, others are meant for all Catholics.

"But today, whatever the type of document, it all ends up directly in the public sphere. It gets difficult to manage."

Fr. Lombardi said that Vatican officials had focused on the views of SSPX leader Bishop Bernard Fellay and not those of Bishop William and the other bishops.

"They didn't take the views of the other bishops enough into account," he said. "One thing that's certain is that the pope didn't know. If someone should have known, it was Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos.”

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos heads the Pontifical Commission of Ecclessia Dei, dedicated to reconciling breakaway traditionalist Catholics with Rome.

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Vatican government publishes list of coins and stamps for 2009

Vatican City, Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - The Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office has published its 2009 program, which will include coins and stamps commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Vatican City State, the World Day of Peace and the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.

According to the L’Osservatore Romano, the Office will issue coins for the following occasions: a Commemorative Bimetallic Coin for the International Year of Astronomy; a Silver Celebrative Coin for 42nd World Day of Peace; a Silver Celebrative Coin for the 80th Anniversary of the Vatican City State; Commemorative Gold Coins depicting the masterpieces of sculpture in Vatican City “The Good Shepherd” and “The Laocoon”; and commemorative gold coins depicting the Sistine Chapel’s “Adam and Eve cast out of Eden.”

The stamps for 2009 will commemorate the following events: the 80th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Vatican City State; the Centenary of the Papal Biblical Institute; the World Day of Books and Copyrights; Europa 2009 – Astronomy; Bicentenary of the Birth of Louis Braille; the Fourth Centenary of the canonization of Saint Francis of Rome; The Journeys of Benedict XVI throughout the world - year 2008; Italia 2009 – International Philatelic Exhibition; 700th Anniversary of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Europe; the Bicentenary of the death of Franz Joseph Haydn; 250th anniversary of the death of Georg Friedrich Händel; the Bicentenary of the Birth of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy; the 50th Anniversary of the convocation of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council; and Christmas 2009.

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Stem cells developed in Brazil without need of embryos

Brasilia, Brazil, Feb 5, 2009 (CNA) - Brazilian media reported this week that at least five groups of scientists are developing stem cells without using human embryos, thanks to a technique that uses human pluripotent stem cells (iPS) being developed in United States, Germany, Japan and China.

At the end of January, a group of scientists led by Stevens Rehen of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and Martin Bonamino of the Division of Experimental Medicine of the National Institute of Cancer, were able to cultivate human pluripotent stem cells, that is, cells capable of developing into any kind of tissue.

Other groups in Brazil, such as the Department of Medicine at the University of Sao Paulo also announced they have been able to cultivate the iPS cells.

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