Archive of February 9, 2009

‘Abortion reduction strategies’ ignore half of the problem, Archbishop Chaput warns

Dublin, Ireland, Feb 9, 2009 (CNA) - During a trip to Ireland this past weekend, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver delivered a talk to the Irish chapter of Human Life International that outlined the “dos and don’ts” for the pro-life movement. Those who claim pro-lifers should avoid the “divisive” issue of ending legalized abortion and focus on providing better support for pregnant mothers are creating a false division, the archbishop insisted.

Following the theme “An American view on how to build a culture of life,” Archbishop Chaput explained that his goal was “to offer some lessons from the American experience that Irish Christians might find useful.”

More than three decades after the legalization of abortion in the U.S., Archbishop Chaput diagnosed Americans’ beliefs on abortion as schizophrenic as he gave an overview of the current situation. “Most believe abortion is wrong.  But most also want it legal under some limited circumstances,” he said.

The consequences of holding two such divergent views are that the U.S. has “a large and well-funded abortion industry” and that a “very vigorous prolife movement” has grown up “right alongside the abortion industry,” Chaput observed.

“American pro-lifers have had many setbacks.  They never have enough money.  They don't get treated fairly by the media.  Too many of their leaders argue with each other too much of the time.  But they just won't give up or die.  And so they've won quite a few modest but important legal victories.  Meanwhile they continue to work toward the strategic goal of overturning the 1973 Supreme Court decision.”

With all of this in mind, Archbishop Chaput offered what he sees as six “don’ts” and five “dos” that pro-lifers around the world should learn from their American counterparts.

“First,” he recommended, “don't let yourselves be tricked into an inferiority complex.” Drawing on a point made in his book “Render Unto Caesar,” he told his Irish audience:

“Critics like to say that religion is divisive, or intellectually backward, or that it has no proper place in the public square. … But this is nonsense.  Democracy depends on people of conviction carrying their beliefs into public debate -- respectfully, legally and non-violently, but vigorously and without apology.  If we are uncomfortable being Christians in a public debate, then we've already lost the war.  In America the word "pluralism" is often conjured up like a kind of voodoo shield to get religious people to stop talking about right and wrong.  In reality, our moral beliefs always shape social policy.  Real pluralism actually demands that people with different beliefs should pursue their beliefs energetically in the public square.  This is the only way a public debate can be honest and fruitful.  We should never apologize for being Catholics.”

The next two “don’ts” cited by the Archbishop of Denver were, “Don't let divisions take root” and “Don’t get trapped by politics -- especially partisan politics.”

He related how as a bishop he has been “baffled” by how much energy is wasted on internal pro-life bickering and that pro-lifers should “never allow our differences to become personal” since infighting within the movement is “a gift to the other side.”

Sticking to one political party is also dangerous, Archbishop Chaput argued. “The more pro-lifers tie themselves to a single political party, the less they can speak to society at large.  In the United States, Catholics -- both on the right and the left -- have too often made the mistake of becoming cheerleaders for a specific candidate,” he said.

“Don't create or accept false oppositions,” the archbishop cautioned as he waded into a topic that has caused great debate in the American pro-life community.

“During the last U.S. election,” Chaput recalled, “we saw the emergence of so-called pro-life organizations that argued we should stop fighting the legal struggle over abortion.  Instead we should join with ‘pro-choice’ supporters to seek ‘common ground’.”

“Their argument was simple: Why fight a losing battle on the legal, cultural and moral front since - according to them -- we haven't yet made serious progress in ending legalized abortion?  Let's drop the ‘divisive’ political battle, they said, and instead let's all work together to tackle the economic and health issues that might eventually reduce abortions,” he explained.

But this argument doesn’t sync with history, Archbishop Chaput stressed.

“Did Americans take a gradual, social-improvement road to ‘reducing’ racism?  No.  We passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” he pointed out.

Taking the logic a step further, the Denver prelate said, “Nor have I ever heard anyone suggest that the best way to deal with murder, rape or domestic abuse is to improve the availability of health care and job training.  We make rape illegal -- even though we know it will still sometimes tragically occur -- because rape is gravely evil.  It's an act of violence, and the law should proscribe it. 

“Of course, we also have a duty to improve the social conditions that can breed domestic and sexual violence.  But that doesn't change the need for the law.”

“Likewise,” Chaput reasoned, “if we really believe that abortion is an intimate act of violence, then we can't aim at anything less than ending abortion. 

“It doesn't matter that some abortions have always occurred, and some will always occur.  If we really believe that abortion kills a developing unborn life, then we can never be satisfied with mere ‘reductions’ in the body count.”

The new groups that materialized during the last election seem to operate from an “either/or” mentality, that argued that pro-lifers needed to choose between abortion “reduction” programs and outlawing abortion, the archbishop said. But protecting the unborn child “is not an ‘either/or’ choice.  It's ‘both/and’,” he countered. 

“We need to help women facing problem pregnancies with good health care and economic support; and we need to pass laws that will end legal abortion.  We need to do both.”

Despite this disagreement, the archbishop’s fifth “don’t” cautioned pro-lifers against hating their adversaries. “Our adversary is an opponent, but never our "enemy."  Our enemy is the Evil One,” he said.

Playing off his previous “don’t,” the Denver archbishop focused on adversaries again, saying, “Don't let your adversaries set the agenda.”

President Barack Obama’s recent reversal of the Mexico City policy in office served to illustrate this point for the archbishop. “His reason for signing the executive order was that it was time to put this ‘divisive issue behind us,’ once and for all,” Chaput reminded.

“There's something a little odd about rhetoric that tells that we're the ‘divisive’ ones, and lectures adult citizens about what we should challenge, and when we should stop. In a democracy, we get to decide that for ourselves. 

“An issue that involves the life and death of unborn children and the subversion of entire traditional societies can't be ‘put behind us’ with an executive signature.”

Switching gears, the archbishop moved on to give his Irish audience his list of “dos.”

“Do become martyrs,” he challenged as he quipped, “I said it was simple. I didn't say it was easy.  Be ready to pay the ultimate price.”

In modern society, you may not have to give your life for the unborn, but you may sacrifice your reputation or have lies told about you, the prelate counseled.

With the annual March for Life fresh in his mind, Archbishop Chaput called on pro-lifers to his second do—“keep hope alive.” “Many of the marchers are young, joyful people who radiate a strong hope in the future - and not the shallow hope of political sloganeering, but the real Christian hope that emerges from self-sacrifice and the struggle to do God's will.”

“I've never in my life seen a joy-filled pro-abortion event. And I've always found that instructive,” he added.

The third “do” offered by Chaput was to “be strategic.” Likening pro-life advocates to “sheep in the midst of wolves,” he told his audience that this “doesn’t mean we can also be dumb as rocks.” 

“Being strategic means planning ahead, setting the agenda, working together and outsmarting our adversaries.  To achieve these goals, we need a big dose of realism. We should never dream or whine about all the things we could do with the million Euros we don't have.  We need to focus on the ten Euros we do have,” the archbishop said.

Next on the “do” list was a message that echoed Pope Benedict’s recent message for the World Day of Communications—use new technologies to spread your message.

Archbishop Chaput closed out his “dos” by stepping back for a look at the big picture. “Remember that renewing the culture, not gaining power, is our ultimate goal,” he counseled.

Culture is everything, the archbishop stated as he encouraged pro-lifers to make evangelizing it their ultimate goal. “Our real task, and our much longer-term and more important goal, is to carry out what John Paul II called the ‘evangelization of culture’," he explained. 

Exhorting pro-lifers to continue fighting for this goal, Archbishop Chaput said “cultural trends can be changed.  And I'll prove it.” 

“Mainline media have been telling us for a decade that the American public is evenly divided between those who consider themselves prolife and those who describe themselves as ‘pro-choice’.” 

“This is broadly true.  But the devil - or in this case, God -- is in the details.”

Archbishop Chaput went on to cite a national poll by Harris Interactive that came out in December 2008, which found among other things that “fewer than ten per cent of Americans support legalized abortion on demand as it stands today.” 

The findings of the poll show that “prolife efforts have made real progress in improving people's awareness of the sanctity of unborn life,” he asserted.

“We need to work to change the culture. And that demands a lifelong commitment to education, Christian formation and, ultimately, conversion. Only saints really change the world. And there lies our ultimate victory: If we change one heart at a time, while we save one unborn life at a time, the day will come when we won't need to worry about saving babies, because they'll be surrounded by a loving, welcoming culture.”

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Cardinal Bertone calls Italian president after food is withdrawn from Englaro

Rome, Italy, Feb 9, 2009 (CNA) - The trial of conscience playing out across Italy over the case of Eluana Englaro, drew Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano into the debate last Friday, when he refused to sign an emergency decree preventing the removal of food and water from the woman. On Sunday, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone spoke with Napolitano about the case over the phone.

At the center of the debate surrounding "Italy’s Terri Schiavo" is whether or not her father, Beppino Englaro should be allowed to end her life by removing hydration and her feeding tube.

The Catholic Church teaches that patients who require extraordinary measures to stay alive do not need to be artificially sustained, but those who only require ordinary means, such as food and water, should not be deprived of these basic necessities.

The Vatican released a statement on Sunday saying that Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone spoke with President Napolitano in a "cordial telephone conversation" about Eluana Englaro’s case.

"Concerning the Englaro case, appreciation was expressed for the acceleration given by parliament to the approval of the projected law," said the statement in reference to an emergency decree passed to prevent Eluana’s feeding tube from being removed. President Napolitano refused to sign the decree saying it is unconstitutional.

Pope Benedict XVI indirectly referred to Eluana’s case on Sunday by offering his prayers for her. "Let us pray for all the sick, especially those most seriously ill, who cannot provide for themselves in any way, but are completely dependent on the care of others. May each of them experience, in the concern of those beside him, the power of God's love and the riches of his saving grace. Mary, health of the sick, pray for us," he said.

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Holy Father urges Christians to care for suffering children and families

Vatican City, Feb 9, 2009 (CNA) - In preparation for the 17th World Day of the Sick on February 11, the Holy Father released his annual message on Saturday.  In his new missive, the Pope encourages Christian communities to care for children who are “sick and suffering,” those struggling with “incapacitating illnesses” and youth living in dangerous conditions.


Pope Benedict begins by describing the plight of suffering children around the world:


 “There are children who have been injured in body and mind by wars, and other innocent victims of the mindless hatred of adults.  There are street children who are denied the warmth of family life and left to themselves, and minors profaned by sordid individuals who wish to violate their innocence, inflicting psychological wounds which will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Nor must we forget the countless minors who die of thirst, hunger and lack of healthcare, and the young exiles who emigrate from their own land with their parents in search of better living conditions.”


The children caught in these deplorable circumstances “raise a silent cry of pain that appeals to our conscience as human beings and believers,” the Pope writes, adding that it is the “duty of the Christian community to intervene in such dramatic circumstances.”


"Daily dedication and ceaseless commitment in the service of sick children are an eloquent testimony of love for human life, especially for the lives of the weak and of those entirely dependent upon others,” the Holy Father continues.  “Though time may pass, the teaching incessantly proclaimed by the Church remains unchanged: human life is beautiful and must be lived to the full even when it is weak and enveloped by the mystery of suffering."


Pope Benedict then reflects on the teachings of his predecessor, John Paul II who “gave a shining example in his patient acceptance of his own suffering.”


In particular, Benedict XVI highlights a passage from John Paul II that reads: 'On this Cross is the Redeemer of man, the Man of Sorrows, Who has taken upon himself the physical and moral sufferings of the people of all times, so that in love they may find the salvific meaning of their sorrow and valid answers to all of their questions'."


Ending his message, the Holy Father expresses his gratitude to the organizations “that care for sick children with generosity and self-sacrifice,” and sends his special greetings to all the children who are sick and suffering. 


“The Pope embraces you, your parents and your families with paternal affection, and assures you of a special mention in his prayer, inviting you to trust in the maternal assistance of Mary Immaculate," he writes.

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Pope Benedict and German Chancellor discuss Holocaust comments

Vatican City, Feb 9, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have spoken on the phone to discuss the Vatican’s position on the Holocaust, according to a statement released from the Holy See Press Office yesterday.

The communiqué stated that at the request of Merkel, the two heads of state spoke over the phone where they “were able to reciprocally exchange of points of view, in an atmosphere of the greatest respect.”

Last week Merkel asked the Vatican to clarify its position on the Holocaust due to controversy over Bishop Richard Williamson’s comments during an interview with a Swedish TV station.

The interview with Williamson, a bishop from the Society of St. Pius X, was aired on television shortly before Pope Benedict lifted the excommunication status of the society’s bishops.

In the conversation between the Holy Father and Merkel, the two heads of state spoke about remarks made by Pope Benedict at his general audience on January 28 and by Merkel on February 5.

According to the AP, last week Merkel said that she did not believe “sufficient clarification” had been made regarding the Vatican’s stance on the Holocaust. 

Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s Press Office replied at the time by referencing the Pope’s January audience at which he stated: “As I once again affectionately express my full and indisputable solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters who received the First Covenant, I trust that the memory of the Shoah will induce humankind to reflect upon the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man. May the Shoah be for everyone an admonition against oblivion, negation and reductionism...”

Fr. Lombardi continued, the Pontiff’s “condemnation of the Holocaust denial could not have been clearer.”

Commenting on the phone conversation, Ulrich Wilhelm, spokesman for the German federal government, and Fr. Federico Lombardi noted that “it was a cordial and constructive discussion marked by their shared and profound conviction that the Shoah represents an ever-valid admonition for humankind'."


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Neurologist says Eluana Englaro is a healthy woman

Udine, Italy, Feb 9, 2009 (CNA) - In an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, the neurologist of the Englaro family, Carlo Alberto Defanti, who is overseeing the withdrawal of food and water from Eluana Englaro, said the Italian woman is “healthy.” “She has never had any diseases and has no need for antibiotics.”

Eluana has become the “Terri Schiavo of Italy” in a case that has rocked the entire country and is being followed around the world. The association Scienza & Vita noted that it has been arguing for several months that Eluana “needs little, very little, to continue living.”

“For this reason,” the association stated, “it is even more incomprehensible that she has been removed from the care of the sisters at Lecco, who not long ago were taking care of her as a simple and genuine gesture of love.”

Likewise, Dr. Defanti said Eluana Englaro’s “physical state is optimal.  Probably, and I underscore the term, she has resistance that is above-average. From the moment of the suspension (of food and hydration which were withdrawn on February 6), 12-14 days will go by.”

He went on to say that Eluana “does not have any damaged or injured internal organs. The tests performed at the hospital in Lecco, before her departure (to the La Quiente Hospital in Udine where she is currently staying) were perfect.”

Dr. Defanti mentioned a specific episode in the health of Eluana from last October, when she was suffering from internal bleeding. “She got better on her own, without any external help. She had lost a lot of blood. She got better on her own, without transfusions, and this is a sign of good physical condition.” 

For these reasons, Scienza & Vita argued, “If then Eluana is a living and healthy person, it is even more necessary to support any attempt to stop the countdown in Udine” and begin providing her food and hydration again.

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Mentally handicapped woman undergoes abortion in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb 9, 2009 (CNA) - The Argentinean media reported on Friday that a mentally handicapped woman who became pregnant through rape underwent an abortion at the Regional Hospital of Santiago del Estero.

The director of the Maternity Ward, Martin Costas, confirmed the abortion took place and said the fetus was turned over to investigators to determine who was responsible for the rape.

This was the first instance in which the courts in Santiago del Estero authorized an abortion to be performed.  Pro-abortion groups in Argentina celebrated the news and said it was an “important precedent.”

The case generated much controversy throughout the country, with one lawyer even offering to adopt the baby to keep the abortion from taking place. A 22 year-old woman whose mentally ill mother also conceived her through rape wrote a moving letter pleading for the life of the unborn child.  However, the courts sided with the pregnant woman’s parents and authorized the abortion.

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Eluana Englaro dies at hospital in Italy

Rome, Italy, Feb 9, 2009 (CNA) - The 38 year-old Italian woman who was in a coma and whose father had waged a battle in the courts to disconnect her feeding tube and euthanize her died today at 8:10 p.m. local time.

Four days after her food and water were withdrawn, amidst a divisive debate throughout the country over the passage of a law that could have saved her, Eluana Englaro died at the La Quiete Hospital in Udine.

According to La Repubblica, upon learning of the news via telephone of his daughter’s death, Beppino Englaro said, “Yes, she has left us. But I don’t want to say anything else, I want to be alone.”  Mr. Englaro led the fight to have her daughter’s feeding tube disconnected and bring about her death.  He also had taken Eluana to the hospital in Udine where her food and hydration were withdrawn.

The director of the La Quiete Hospital, Ines Domenicali, confirmed that Eluana had died.  “She’s dead. I don’t know what time it was, don’t ask me any more questions.”  Outside the hospital where she was taken after being removed from the care of a group of the Sisters of Mercy in Lecco, some 200 people had gathered to pray for Eluana.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the President of the Pontifical Council of Health Care, reacted to the news of Eluana’s death, praying, "May the Lord welcome her and forgive those who led her there (to her death).”

The Vatican prelate also emphasized that "it must be seen under what circumstances the death occurred, whether it was because of the suspension of food and hydration, or by various causes."

The case drew requests from dozens of leaders to save the Italian woman, while promoters of euthanasia were hoping her case could become a precedent for the legalization of euthanasia in Italy.  Polls showed 70% of Italians favored euthanizing her. 

Intense coverage of the case by Vatican watcher Sandro Magister and the Italian bishops’ daily L’Avvenire moved public opinion against disconnecting her feeding tubes, with the daily Corriere della Sera reporting on Monday that support for such a decision had dropped to 50%.

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Carlos Paya criticizes Spanish left for supporting dictatorship in Cuba

Madrid, Spain, Feb 9, 2009 (CNA) - Carlos Paya, the representative in Spain for Cuban dissident group the Christian Liberation Movement, is criticizing the left in that country for supporting the Castro dictatorship in Cuba, despite the knowledge that human rights are violated on the island.

In statements to, Paya asserted that the Spanish left “knows that that (regime) is a dictatorship.” The Cuban dissident also addressed those who doubt the severity of living in a country where freedom of expression is suppressed. “To those people I would say, Do you really know what goes on there?” he said.

Paya criticized the Minister of Exterior Affairs and Cooperation, Miguel Angel Moratinos, for not protesting the statements by the Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister, who stood in front of Moratinos and said the political prisoners in Cuba were mercenaries and terrorists.

After reaffirming that the purpose of the dissident group is to achieve peaceful transition in Cuba, Paya maintained that nobody believes in the Cuban Communist Party and that what is needed is dialogue between Cubans in the country and abroad.

“Right now Cuba does not belong to the Cubans,” Paya said, noting that the country belongs “a ruling nomenclature that makes the decisions” about what is done in the country, including in peoples’ private lives.

During the interview, Paya also addressed business leaders who see Cuba as a place to do business. He called on them to practice “responsible ethics,” as it would be “very profitable” for an unscrupulous businessman to make money in a country where workers have no right to strike because they are controlled.  Such business owners end up being accomplices with the regime, he stressed.

Paya was also harsh in his critique of Che Guevara, who has been made into a myth, he said, in contrast with facts about his true life.  He lamented that very little is said about this other aspect of his life, as “his blood was to shed blood.”

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Spanish cardinal urges defense of 'three natural rights'

Valencia, Fla., Feb 9, 2009 (CNA) - The Apostolic Administrator of Valencia in Spain, Cardinal Agustin Garcia-Gasco, has issued a strong call to Catholics to defend life, marriage and the family, as well as religious freedom and freedom of conscience.

In his most recent pastoral letter, the cardinal said that the promotion of human dignity today should focus on three essential natural rights which should be respected and promoted by all: “the defense of human life, the recognition of religious freedom and freedom of conscience, and the defense of marriage and the family.”  

“The affirmation of human dignity implies the affirmation of the inviolable right to life from conception to natural death,” he continued.

Therefore, “the absolute right to life reminds us that each person is unique and unrepeatable, and his or her mere presence, whether healthy or sick, strong or weak, powerful or lowly, enriches others. No state or individual can put a price on the dignity of human beings or legitimately decree that their lives can be suppressed,” the cardinal said.

He went on to stress that man is by his very nature a religious being, and that “any nation that wants to truly ensure the wellbeing of the person and of society should effectively recognize the right to freedom of conscience and of religious liberty, with complete awareness that this is one of the highest goods of public life.”

“In today’s current cultural context,” the cardinal added, “the commitment to defend marriage and family acquires special urgency.” Both institutions are unique and irreplaceable for proper the development of society, he said. 

The cardinal closed his letter encouraging “all of the faithful and all people of good will to exercise these three natural rights that serve to build a better world for the benefit of society.”

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Pope encourages Brazil to defend life at all stages

Vatican City, Feb 9, 2009 (CNA) -

Upon receiving the credentials of the new ambassador from Brazil to the Holy See this morning, Pope Benedict stressed the need to defend all life from conception to natural death.

Speaking to the new ambassador, Luiz Felipe de Seixas Correa, the Pope lauded how Brazil has "always been a stern defender" of human dignity and said that he hopes this continues to be true, "especially when this involves explicit recognition for the sanctity of family life, the protection of unborn children [and of life] from the moment of conception to natural end."

On the subject of "biological experimentation," the Holy Father informed the new diplomat that "the Holy See has always firmly promoted the defense of ethical principles that do not damage but protect the existence of the embryo and its right to be born."

Benedict XVI then turned to the Brazilian government’s efforts to struggle against poverty at both the "national and international level."

The Holy Father noted how "the policy of redistributing internal revenue has facilitated greater wellbeing among people," expressing the hope that Brazil may "continue to encourage a better distribution of wealth, increasing social justice for the good of the people."

But there is another type of poverty that concerns Benedict - moral poverty. "Over and above material poverty, the moral poverty which is spreading throughout the world also has a decisive influence, even where there is no lack of material goods," he said.

"In fact, the danger of consumerism and hedonism, together with the lack of solid moral principles to guide the lives of ordinary citizens, weakens the structure of Brazilian families and society. For this reason we cannot overemphasize the urgent need for solid moral formation at all levels - including the political sphere - in order to counter an ongoing threat from persisting materialist ideologies, and in particular the temptation to corruption in managing public and private finances. In this, Christianity can make an important contribution."

Finally, the Holy Father referred to a recently-signed agreement "defining the juridical status of the Catholic Church in Brazil and regulating the fields of mutual interest between the two sides," highlighting how this is "a significant sign of the sincere collaboration that the Church - while performing her own mission - wishes to maintain with the Brazilian government."

Benedict XVI also spoke of his hope that the agreement "may facilitate the free exercise of the Church's evangelizing mission and further strengthen collaboration with civil institutions for the integral development of the person."

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George Weigel suggests papal investigator for Legionaries

Washington D.C., Feb 9, 2009 (CNA) - Catholic intellectual George Weigel is suggesting in an article published on the website of First Things that the solution to the crisis in the Legionaries of Christ is for the Pope to appoint a papal legate to investigate the corporate culture that allowed its founder to lead a double life.

Calling to mind the Holy See’s disciplinary action against Fr. Marcial Maciel in 2006, Weigel relates that one senior Vatican official told him the "action was intended to ‘save the Legion and Regnum Christi’."

"Assuming, as we can and must, that this remains the Holy See’s intention, it must now move without delay to address the accelerating train-wreck-heading-toward-the-cliff that the Legion and Regnum Christi have become over the past ten days, as credible reports appeared in the blogosphere that Fr. Maciel had lived a life of sexual and financial scandal, probably for decades," Weigel writes.

Weigel’s call for immediate action does not stem from ill will towards the Legionaries as he explained to CNA. "I have had and continue to have a very high opinion of the Legion priests I have worked with," he said.

Yet, the Catholic teacher and writer sensed something was amiss. "Some aspects of Legion and Regnum Christi culture, including the veneration of the founder, always struck me as excessive, but I was prepared to attribute them to forms of piety with which I was unfamiliar and personally uncomfortable. It now turns out that my instincts in that regard were correct," he commented.

Looking at the response to the scandal surrounding Fr. Maciel fathering a child, Weigel writes in his First Things article that the reactions from the top leaders of the Legion have been inadequate.

"There has been no full disclosure of what is known about Fr. Maciel’s corruptions. There has been no disclosure as to the nature and extent of the web of deceit he must have spun within the Legion of Christ, and beyond. And there has been no public recognition of what faithful, orthodox, morally upright Legionary priests believe have been grave corruptions of the institutional culture of their community."

The only way to save the Legion is through a "full, public disclosure of Fr. Maciel’s perfidies" and a "root-and-branch examination of possible complicity in those perfidies within the Legion of Christ," Weigel says.

"That examination must be combined with a brutally frank analysis of the institutional culture in which those perfidies and that complicity unfolded. Only after that kind of moral and institutional audit has been conducted, and has been seen publicly to be a clean audit, can the Legion of Christ, and the broader Church, face the questions of the Legion’s future…"

This internal audit, Weigel asserts, cannot be conducted by the Legion leadership, "as the flailings and failures of the past ten days have made clear."

Because of the numerous pressure most likely besetting the leadership of the Legion, the papal biographer of Pope John Paul II argues that any potential investigation "must be mandated by the pope, and it must be conducted by someone responsible to the pope alone—not responsible to the relevant parts of the Vatican bureaucracy, not responsible to the cardinal secretary of state, but responsible to the pope alone."

"There is simply no other way open to an accounting that will be both scrupulously honest and publicly credible."

Weigel believes that the Church could draw upon a concept found in corporate law called "receivership." This would involve a personal delegate, appointed by the pope, "empowered to take over the governance of the Legion of Christ and to conduct the moral and institutional audit required."

Although such an investigation would normally be channeled through the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, Weigel thinks that this would be unwise given the fact that the congregation showed a predisposition towards an ineffective solution, namely, allowing the Legionaries to internally reform themselves after the 2006 sexual abuse allegations involving Fr. Maciel.

Adding to its demonstrated hesitancy to investigate is the Curia’s recent bungling of the rehabilitation of Bishop Richard Williamson, who denied that Jews were killed in gas chambers during the Holocaust. This incompetence shows "just how dysfunctional the curia remains in terms of both crisis analysis and crisis management," Weigel claims.

"A curia in which no one in authority had the sense to Google "Richard Williamson," and no subordinate had the nerve or capacity to compel the superiors to pay attention to a potential landmine, is not a curia capable of getting to the roots of the Maciel betrayal. Nor, candidly, is it a curia capable of conducting an investigation that can command public credibility. It is regrettable that this is the case, for there are many honorable people working in the Roman curia."

George Weigel told CNA that he "would hope that, in the wake of the Williamson fiasco, the Holy See is paying much more attention to the Catholic cyber-world. There are multiple, interesting proposals out there for dealing with the Legion crisis, including suggestions by such unimpeachably orthodox scholars as Ed Peters and Germain Grisez, and they ought to be taken under advisement by the Holy Father, in my view."

The solution to the crisis, Weigel suggests, is for Pope Benedict to appoint a priest who is a vowed religious, who knows the dynamics of religious life, to take over governance of the Legionaries of Christ.

Weigel paints a detailed picture of the qualifications this papal legate should have: "experience in dealing with financial and sexual scandal in a forthright, courageous, and effective manner; ideally, he would have been involved in the reform of a religious house, seminary, or community that had suffered a fall from its professed ideals. He must have good Spanish, for much of the paper trail here will be in that language; he should also have good Italian and English, so that he can conduct his investigations and interviews in the principal languages of Legion life. He must know something of canon law, and he must know competent canon lawyers."

"Men with these qualifications exist," George Weigel says in closing. "One of them must be given this difficult, onerous, but essential task—and soon—if the good that remains among faithful Legionary priests and among the members of Regnum Christi is to find a path toward the future, for the sake of the entire Catholic Church."

The original story can be found here:


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British foster mother disqualified after Muslim girl’s conversion to Christianity

London, England, Feb 9, 2009 (CNA) - A British woman who has fostered more than 80 children over ten years has been disqualified from service as a caregiver after a teenage Muslim girl in her charge converted to Christianity.

The woman, a churchgoer in her 50s, has lost the farmhouse she rented to look after vulnerable teenagers because of the loss of income. Another girl in her charge has been taken back into foster care.

According to the Telegraph, the caregiver said she discouraged the 16-year-old Muslim girl’s interest in Christianity and did not pressure the girl to convert.

"I offered her alternatives. I offered to find her places to practice her own religion,” she said.

"I offered to take her to friends or family. But she said to me from the word go: 'I am interested and I want to come [to church]'."

The girl had been placed into foster care after she was assaulted by a family member.

The caregiver said the girl saw her baptism as “a washing away of the horrible things she had been through and a symbol of a new start.”

The woman, an Anglican, claimed that social services staffers were aware that the girl was attending her evangelical church and the council heads only objected when they discovered the girl had been baptized.

According to the Telegraph, abandoning Islam is strongly condemned in the Koran and is considered taboo in Muslim communities.

Officials advised the teenage girl to reconsider her decision and to stop attending Christian meetings.

In November, they removed the caregiver from the register, claiming she breached her duty as a foster parent.

"They consider that in some way she should have taken steps to prevent the conversion,” the caregiver’s solicitor Nigel Priestley explained to the Telegraph.

Priestly is demanding a judicial review of the council’s decision. He claims they breached Article 9 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees freedom of religion for both the caregiver and the girl.

He said that the now 17-year-old teenager, who has returned to her parents’ custody, was “distressed” that her action had produced such effects and supports her former caregiver’s challenge.

Priestly reported that the council has offered to review its decision but his client is prepared to pursue legal action.

The caregiver told the Daily Telegraph: "I just want to get my life back.

"I still hope to resolve this so that I can possibly foster again in the future as I simply enjoy helping young people."

The Christian Institute is funding the caregiver’s legal case. Institute official Mike Judge commented on the case, saying:

"I cannot imagine that an atheist foster carer would be struck off if a Christian child in her care stopped believing in God.

"This is the sort of double standard that Christians are facing in Britain."

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