Archive of March 5, 2009

Cardinal Mahony bans Bishop Williamson from L.A. archdiocese

Los Angeles, Calif., Mar 5, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony has banned Society of St. Pius X Bishop Richard Williamson from entering any Catholic church, school or facility of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles until he retracts his remarks minimizing Jewish suffering in the Holocaust.

The announcement came in a statement published online in the March 6 edition of The Tidings, the diocesan newspaper. The cardinal authored the statement jointly with Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, the U.S. Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee, and Seth Brysk, Los Angeles Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee.

Bishop Williamson was one of four bishops leading the breakaway Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) whose excommunications were lifted by Pope Benedict XVI in January.

Footage from a television interview showed the bishop denying the existence of Nazi gas chambers and claiming only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews had died at the hands of the Nazis, causing an international uproar.

The statement in the Tidings said that Bishop Williamson’s “outrageous comments” alarmed Jews and Catholics alike.

“Jews wondered whether the lifting of Williamson's excommunication suggested that anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial would be seen as acceptable positions for those within the Catholic Church,” it stated. Both Jews and Catholics questioned why the Vatican apparently had not thoroughly investigated Williamson, an unrepentant Holocaust denier and open anti-Semite, prior to the lifting of his excommunication.”

Subsequent statements from the Vatican rebuked Bishop Williamson and other Holocaust deniers and Pope Benedict reiterated the Catholic Church’s “deep respect and esteem for the Jewish people,” the statement reported.

According to the statement, Catholics and Jews were reassured by the Vatican declaration that the SSPX must fully recognize the Second Vatican Council and the legitimacy of all Popes before it may rejoin the Catholic Church.

Noting that Bishop Williamson is required to distance himself from his positions on the Holocaust in an “absolutely unequivocal and public way,” the statement said his recent comments “fall far short of satisfying the letter or the spirit of the Vatican’s directives.”

 “In the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Williamson is hereby banned from entering any Catholic church, school or other facility, until he and his group comply fully and unequivocally with the Vatican's directives regarding the Holocaust,” Cardinal Mahony wrote.

He also mentioned that he will visit Israel later this year and pay his respects to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust at the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem.

“Holocaust deniers like Williamson will find no sympathetic ear or place of refuge in the Catholic Church, of which he is not --- and may never become --- a member,” the statement continued, saying that the SSPX’s rejection of the Second Vatican Council also rejects Nostra Aetate, the document which explicitly rejected the charge of deicide against the Jews and affirmed “the kinship between the Catholic and Jewish faiths.”

Noting that Nostra Aetate had been composed after close work with the American Jewish Committee, the statement then quoted the document:

“The Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.”

Saying the past two months have been “difficult” for Jews and Catholics, the statement closed:

“We can take heart that Catholic-Jewish relations in Southern California remain strong… For our part, as Catholic and Jewish leaders in Los Angeles, we recognize that only by working together with renewed vigilance will we be able to keep anti-Semitism at bay and prevent its reassertion as a legitimate expression.”

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Obama’s pro-life backers risk usurping bishops, critic says

Washington D.C., Mar 5, 2009 (CNA) - Though some have hoped that pro-life Catholic supporters of President Barack Obama would persuade the president to moderate his “extremist” abortion agenda, they have instead attacked other pro-life advocates and have possibly usurped the place of bishops by redefining Catholic “life and action,” one commentator warns.

Catholic defenders of both Obama and the pro-abortion “rights” Catholic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius may even be assuming the place of bishops by redefining unrestricted abortion advocates as advocates of the true pro-life position, constitutional law attorney Matt Bowman claims in an essay at the American Spectator website.

Bowman, who also directs the website and blog, writes that pro-lifers had hoped President Obama’s pro-life backers might “really oppose” his abortion policies, dreaming “that Doug Kmiec might actually do some good, by using Obama’s listening ear by convincing him to moderate his extremist abortion agenda.”

He charges that Catholic backers of Obama were “silent” when Obama opened international funding to abortion-promoting organizations by rescinding the Mexico City Policy.

Their position became especially doubtful, Bowman says, when several of them attacked the pro-life campaign against the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), “even though that campaign is the only thing keeping FOCA from becoming reality.”

However, any remaining hopes have been “smashed” by a recent letter defending Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, nominee to become Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“They have declared full-scale war against Catholic and evangelical pro-life political activity,” Bowman claims.

On Sunday, the group Catholics United released a statement signed by 26 Catholics who defended Sebelius’ nomination. The statement claimed “Kathleen Sebelius has made clear that she agrees with church teaching that abortion is wrong and has lived and acted according to that belief.”

This argument risks redefining Catholic life and action, Bowman cautions.

“By claiming that Sebelius ‘lives and acts’ not just any high-minded ideals, but specifically pro-life Catholic teaching, the letter's signers are donning their own miters and claiming to teach Catholics what the faith is. That is a role only a Bishop can fill, and if Catholic Bishops recognize the attempt to usurp their own authority they just might respond,” he writes.

He notes that the letter contradicts Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph Naumann’s request that Gov. Sebelius refrain from receiving Communion until she publicly repudiates her position on abortion.

Comparing “Obama Pro-lifers” to the group “Catholics for a Free Choice,” Bowman suggests that they may be “largely neutralized” in much the same way by the bishops repeatedly condemning their errors.

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Maryland March for Life to rally against Sebelius pick

Baltimore, Md., Mar 5, 2009 (CNA) - The 30th Annual Maryland March for Life will take place on Monday, March 9, organizers have announced, saying they want to rally support after pro-life defeats in the Maryland legislature and in the nomination of pro-abortion rights Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to become Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The March will begin to assemble at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Annapolis at 5:00 p.m. on Monday. Archbishop of Baltimore Edwin O’Brien will celebrate Mass there at 5:30. A concurrent Evangelical prayer service will also be held.

Participants will then march to Lawyer’s Mall at the State House for a planned rally and demonstration. Bishop Harry Jackson, an African-American pro-life leader who pastors Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, will address the rally.

March organizers say recent action in the Maryland senate will be a topic of discussion.

The Maryland Senate Finance Committee on Feb. 20 defeated SB195, the Ultrasound Options Act, which would have required abortion facilities in Anne Arundel County that have ultrasound equipment to offer women the opportunity to view their ultrasound, view a printout of their ultrasound, or hear their baby’s heartbeat before going ahead with an abortion.

A statement from Maryland March for Life organizers alleged that the committee acted “against normal courtesy” by defeating State Sen. Brion Simonaire’s amendment to apply the bill statewide.

Organizers said the Maryland Senate’s action and the nomination of Gov. Sebelius might also rally pro-lifers in Maryland.

“The assault on the unborn and their mothers seems to grow every day under this new administration,” Family Protection Lobby Director Doug Stiegler said in a statement. “Governor Sebelius has done everything possible during her tenure to further the physical, emotional, and psychological destruction of women at the state level.”

Stiegler also noted Sebelius’ connections to late-term abortionist George Tiller.

“Every person across the State of Maryland should question this radical nomination of someone so closely tied to the abortion industry.”

He said that people had “let down their guard” because President Bush’s administration was “supportive” of pro-life issues.

“I want to encourage everyone who is outraged by the defeat of SB 195 and President Obama’s nomination of Governor Sibelius to join us for the 30th Annual Maryland March for Life,” Stiegler continued.

“The fight for the rights of Pregnant Women and their Unborn Children is just beginning, and it will start in Maryland on March 9th and spread across the nation as people of faith and conscience rise up and take to the streets!”

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Small Alaskan parishes thrive during Lenten season despite priest shortage

Anchorage, Alaska, Mar 5, 2009 (CNA) - Two full days after Ash Wednesday, Catholics in remote Alaska villages were walking around with freshly drawn ashen crosses on their foreheads.  Receiving the traditional Ash Wednesday ashes on Friday might seem odd to most Catholics, however in the frontiers of Alaska, the simple presence of a priest on Sunday can be cause for celebration.


Father Scott Garrett is a pilot who serves all of Southwest Alaska — one of the largest parish boundary areas in the world. It is a region that encompasses more than a dozen tiny villages and fishing outposts that stretch across the long reach of Alaska’s Aleutian Chain, explains the Catholic Anchor.


Only parishioners at Father Garrett’s “big” church, Holy Rosary in Dillingham, had an Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday.


Other villages such as Clark’s Point received ashes on Friday, and little Levelock — with only 70 people in the entire village and only a handful of those, Catholics — received the symbolic black marks on Saturday.


And those are the larger areas. Another 15 locations, all accessible only by air, bear names like Cold Bay and Chignik Bay.


Connecting to the faith


All these parishioners share a special common bond during Lent — “the little black book” of Lenten meditations which Father Garrett distributes, wherever his plane touches down.


But aside from the common book, these Catholic outposts have myriad other religious acts that bind them together.


B.J. Hill, who helps administer St. Therese in the fishing village of Naknek, said “Father Scott has us pretty well covered,” as the priest flies the 64 air miles from Dillingham, on most Sundays.


Hill said about seven families make up the core of the St. Therese Catholic community.

Like most of the little communities, parishioners at St. Therese take advantage of services that can be celebrated, while they wait for a priest.


“We have a really nice church with hand-carved Stations of the Cross,” and someone from the parish will lead the stations each Friday in Naknek, said Hill.


On the road system south of Anchorage lies sparsely populated Cooper Landing, the site of many great sport fishing adventures. For Tom and Chris Farrington, it has been home since they moved from Anchorage several years ago.


Someone from the little parish of St. John Neumann takes a turn leading the Stations of the Cross each Friday during Lent, said Chris, and often there’s a Bible study in someone’s home. The congregation is so small that “everyone has a key to the church” she said, “and a lot of people make a visit every day.”


Cooper Landing is served by Father Richard Tero from Sacred Heart in Seward, and he receives help from retired associate Father Bill Hanrahan. The extra aid allows the parish to celebrate Mass every Sunday, although they won’t have a Holy Thursday or Good Friday service.


In Homer, and farther north in Talkeetna, Catholics celebrate a Lenten tradition that larger parishes often do not – each offers a Passover Seder dinner (a traditional Jewish meal) during Holy Week, with advice and help in Homer offered by a Jewish neighbor. The meal is slightly modified for Christian use and recognized as a forerunner to the Last Supper, at which Jesus instituted the Eucharist.


In St. Bernard Church in Talkeetna, Renamary Rauchenstein has been the pastoral leader for 12 years, and she said the parish sees a priest about twice a month, although they do expect a visiting priest for Holy Week.


Despite the lack of a resident pastor, St. Bernard remains an active parish during Lent, with soup suppers, Stations of the Cross and a Good Friday “faith walk.”


The solemnity of the season is affected by Talkeetna’s proximity to the 20,000-foot Mount McKinley, said Rauchenstein.


“We’re slammed during the latter part of Lent,” with people coming to town to set up medical camps and other mountain-related activity as the climbing season approaches.


Three new Catholics will enter the church at St. Bernard’s at the Easter Vigil, two of them from nearby Trapper Creek, where St. Philip Benizi’s tiny church can hold about 30 worshippers.


To learn more about rural Catholic life in Alaska, visit Holy Rosary Church’s Web site at:


Printed with permission from

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Itinerary for Pope’s visit to Roman Town Hall released

Rome, Italy, Mar 5, 2009 (CNA) - Today the schedule for Pope Benedict’s brief March 9 visit to Rome’s Town Hall was made public by the Vatican. 

On Monday just before 11 o'clock, the Holy Father will arrive at the Town Hall, located on Rome's Capitoline Hill, where he will be welcomed by Mayor Gianni Alemanno.  He will then attend a special session of the municipal council where he will deliver an address.

Following the speech, Roman citizens will have an opportunity to greet the Pope at the loggia on Palazzo Senatorio. 

Leaving the Town Hall, Benedict XVI will travel to the nearby monastery of Santa Francesca Romana at Tor de' Specchi. After pausing in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and venerating the saint's body in the chapel of the choir, he give a brief address to those in attendance.

The Holy Father is due to return to the Vatican at 1:15 p.m.

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Bishops call a 'Mexico stained with blood' to conversion

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 5, 2009 (CNA) - The bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Chihuahua have exhorted “those who are involved in violence” to be reconciled with God and change their lives in order to stop Mexico and the state of Chihuahua from continuing to be “stained with blood.”

“We ask them to consider that no one’s life may be taken.  We cry out with a shepherd’s heart: ‘Repent and change your lives.’ God is willing to forgive you, but this forgiveness implies being willing to reverse course, to repair the harm and to remove oneself from this activity of death,” the bishops said.

According to the Mexican media, 2009 has already seen 381 homicides in the state of Chihuahua. “The figures speak for themselves,” the bishops noted.

They pointed out that the crisis reveals there is “a lack of spirituality” which demands that Mexicans “turn back to God and to life” and allow Him to be a part of society, political life, schools and families. Conversion, they said, is Christ’s invitation to a total and radical change of attitude, as “we can no longer negotiate with the evil we have allowed to enter, and we need to change from the inside out.”

“It’s not only the government, the military or our prisons that can solve what is happening. All of us, by changing from the inside out, can build a new world. Only new hearts can make a new society. And only God can change our hearts, if we let Him,” they reminded.

We must return “to the perennial principles: respect for life, the dignity of the human person above and beyond the pursuit of money, legitimate work, the rule of law that protects and regulates relationships between individuals and society and honesty,” the bishops asserted.

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Mother of comatose woman: ‘My daughter is the most beautiful thing I could ever have’

Asunción, Paraguay, Mar 5, 2009 (CNA) - The Paraguayan Catholic weekly “Cristo hoy” published the moving story of Carolina Ramirez who, like Eluana Englaro, has also been in coma for 17 years, after being injured in a car accident in 1991. Her mother says their faith sustains them and that her daughter “is the most beautiful thing I could have.”

When Carolina, or Carol, as her friends and family members affectionately call her, suffered her car accident she was studying accounting at college. She was very athletic and often spent time at the gym. Every day since she fell into a coma, her parents have been at her side thanking God for her life.  They find the reasons for the death of Eluana in Italy to be incomprehensible.

Carol’s mother Ketty said their faith is what sustains their lives.  “My daughter is the most beautiful thing I could have.”  “I feel especially chosen by the Lord,” she added. Although her daughter will never be normal again, Ketty is grateful for the 21 years she was able to spend with her daughter and for the guardian angel that today watches over her.

“I don’t know what the father of that girl was thinking to make her die. The last thing I am going to do is choose euthanasia,” Ketty said in reference to Eluana Englaro.

Maria Celeste Solis, Carol’s friend, remembers her to be somewhat introverted, very intelligent, athletic and simple. “Carol has a special charisma that draws people to her. She was very quiet, but when she spoke she made us smile,” Maria said.

Archbishop Pastor Cuquejo of Asuncion told Cristo hoy, “The teaching of the Church holds that taking a life for humanitarian reasons is not a solution. The Lord always gives us his life. He shares our life with his and only He can take it at the time when that human life can no longer continue on this earth.”

The archbishop also reiterated that God alone is the Lord of life and that in these cases the family needs to stand by the patient “until the end, with tenderness and affection, because we don’t know how much he or she might be feeling all of this. Perhaps he or she does not want to let go of that affection and closeness.”

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Calling Sebelius pro-life is ‘very, very dishonest,’ says Kansas City archbishop

Kansas City, Mo., Mar 5, 2009 (CNA) - In response to reports that Governor of Kansas Kathleen Sebelius is the reason the abortion rate in her state has decreased, Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph Naumann noted that due to her 30 year career supporting legalized abortion, the claims are “very, very dishonest.”

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who was recently tapped to become Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, was reprimanded by Archbishop Naumann last year for her support of legalized abortion.  However, despite her pro-abortion “rights” advocacy, some have pointed out that as governor of Kansas, the abortion rate decreased.

In an interview with Our Sunday Visitor (OSV), the Kansas City archbishop acknowledged that during her term as governor, abortion did drop, but added that he thinks this occurred despite her actions.


“I think that’s very, very dishonest and not at all accurate. It’s true that abortion dropped during her term as governor but I don’t think she really had anything to do with it, although she likes to take credit for it. And in fact, during that time she vetoed measures that could have helped prevent abortion.  At one time, she struck from the budget a pregnancy maintenance initiative that gave state funding to crisis pregnancy centers,” Archbishop Naumann told OSV.


Because of her stance, the archbishop explained that in August of 2007 he wrote the governor a private letter asking her not to “present herself for Communion.” 

When Sebelius continued to receive the Eucharist, Archbishop Naumann wrote a second public letter in May 2008.  He told CNA in an September 2008 interview that he had been in conversation with her for “a couple years” and that the discussions took place at “various levels.”

In today’s interview with OSV, the archbishop explained that he had a two-fold purpose for writing the letter.  First, he hoped it would trigger a conversion in Sebelius.

“One of the tragedies of this appointment, it places her where she is either going to have to go against the person who appointed her or she is going to be persisting in these positions that promote, encourage and support abortion.

“So, I’m concerned about her.”

“I think the other thing, though, that why I did what I did was to protect others from being misled by her actions and I think as a Church, those of us responsible for teaching in the Church, we have to continue to make that clear to our people that this just isn’t acceptable. It’s not a morally coherent position to say I’m personally opposed but publicly I’m going to do all of these things that support abortion.”

“Frankly after the pastoral action I did take with the governor,” the Kansas City archbishop told CNA, “there were several [people] who communicated with me that, ‘we didn’t realize how extreme she was’.”

To Archbishop Naumann’s knowledge, she has not received communion since then.


Speaking to OSV the archbishop also spoke about how he was offended that President Obama “would choose a pro-legalized-abortion Catholic to head this office.”


He noted that while he can understand how Obama would select someone for his Cabinet who would encompass the values of his campaign, he said that “it’s sad because it places another high-profile, pro-abortion Catholic into national leadership along with Vice President [Joe] Biden and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and a raft of others that are in the Congress.”


Analyzing the recent nomination of Sebelius to head HHS, he noted that it is “particularly troubling” due to the importance of her influence on topics such as “conscience rights as well as health care reform.”


He explained, “One of the frightening things about the proposed health care reform could be the inclusion of abortion as a fundamental right as part of the health care package, and it could really put Catholic doctors, nurses and health care institutions in a real bind. So it’s not helpful to have someone with her record and history as the head of HHS, but I think although many people voted for President Obama, not because of his support for legalized abortion but despite it, they have to realize that in electing a president with his views, they empowered him to make these types of appointments in his administration and even more devastating, I think to our courts.”

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Pro-life experts ask Obama not to push abortion in Latin America

Santiago, Chile, Mar 5, 2009 (CNA) - The Latin American Post-Abortion Care Network has sent an open letter to President Barack Obama asking him to reverse his efforts to fund abortion in the region.

In response to the reversal of the Mexico City Policy, the Network, which provides pastoral care to those who have undergone abortions, explained that in “Latin America, we believe in the self-determination of nations, a basic principle of international law, and we believe in the absolute respect for human life as the basis for all other human rights.”

“Therefore, we appeal to common sense to not interfere by providing resources to groups identified with feminist trends that radically promote abortion as a form of birth control.”

“We call for abortion practices not to be pushed on our countries in Latin America, under the guise of so-called reproductive rights and we consider it to be incoherent to describe as a right a false solution that causes so much harm as described by the women who come to us for post-abortion help,” the Network stated.

The Network urged President Obama to reject any policy that would discriminate against people because of their young age or because they are in the womb of their mothers.

It also called for efforts to reduce poverty by providing "comprehensive care to women, to help them have their children and not harm them through abortion, maintaining a spirit of respect for human rights. Abortion always causes harm.”

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Bishop receives death threats for denouncing human trafficking rings

Madrid, Spain, Mar 5, 2009 (CNA/Europa Press) - Bishop Jose Luis Azcona of Marajo, Brazil, has received death threats for denouncing the sexual exploitation of human trafficking rings in which “politicians, businessmen and police officers” are implicated.

Born in Pamplona, Spain, and a member of the Augustinians, Bishop Azcona met with a congressional committee on the exploitation of minors in the Brazilian state of Para, where he reiterated his protests.  “They snatch girls from school and take them away to sexually exploit them, especially in French Guyana and in Spain,” he stated.

In a telephone interview with Europa Press, the bishop said he is taking the threats “with calm.” 

“Thanks be to God I don’t feel any anxiety or anguish,” he said. 

He acknowledged that he has refused the security detail offered to him by the Government not because he doesn’t trust them, but because there are two other bishops—one from Austria and the other from Italy—and 200 priests who have also received death threats.

Bishop Azcona recalled his 24 years of missionary work in Marajo and said that despite the death threats, he does not want to leave Brazil, and in fact hopes to end his days there.

However, he accuses politicians and police officials of not “taking the necessary measures.”

“A police officer in Marajo was found to be engaged in human trafficking, sending 178 women, many of them minors, to become prostitutes in French Guyana,” he noted.

The only organization that has spoken out about the death threats is the Bishops’ Conference of Brazil, which has expressed its support for those that have been targeted. “Any aggression against them is against all of us, their brothers in the episcopal ministry, and against the people they serve with unmeasured zeal and courage,” the bishops said.

“In Christ we are one with them and with the persons they defend: the indigenous peoples, women, children and adolescents used in human trafficking and are sold into sexual exploitation and killed by drugs. We also support their commitment to the defense of the environment that is devastated by profiteering with harmful consequences for human life,” the bishops stated.

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Expert says abortion was legalized in Colombia with invalid statistics

Bogotá, Colombia, Mar 5, 2009 (CNA) - The head of the bioethics department for the University of La Sabana’s school of medicine, Pablo Arango Restrepo is claiming that advocates of abortion used exaggerated statistics and rare cases to make abortion legal in Colombia.

In exclusive statements to CNA, Arango recalled that “in May of 2006, the Constitutional Court of Colombia legalized abortion in three circumstances: when the life of the mother is in danger, when there are congenital deformities incompatible with life, and in cases of rape.” He also noted that “during the campaign to get legalization, all kinds of doctored statistics were used that referenced a supposedly enormous number of clandestine abortions.  They claimed there were some 400,000 such abortions” in Colombia.

“After the legalization, the number of legal abortions has been minimal, barely one hundred, and the abortionists are the ones most surprised because it doesn’t square with their statistics,” Arango said.

“Now they have started up the campaign again to legalize abortion for any reason and these ‘inflated’ statistics have shown up once more,” he warned.

Several days ago the Colombian daily El Tiempo reported that attorney Monica Roa, who orchestrated the legalization of abortion in Colombia, “believes that some 3,000 legal abortions have taken place in Colombia since 2006,” a number that greatly surpasses the 201 abortions reported by the government last July.

Arango said that in addition to doctoring the numbers, abortion activists cite the circumstances in which abortion is legal to arbitrarily justify aborting a child. “The danger to the life of the mother [allowance] is alleged for any small circumstance that departs from the normal progression of a pregnancy; the congenital deformities incompatible with life are portrayed to be numerous, including Down’s Syndrome, which is in no way incompatible with life, and lastly cases of rape.”

Before the court ruling, he went on, “a woman who was raped had to get a medical examination corroborating the fact, and now she does not.  She must only present a police report, the day of violation, or she can simply say she was raped, and she does not need to provide any medical documentation.”

Arango denounced the “campaigns against health care workers, especially doctors who are being denied the right to conscientious objection and whose future employment is being threatened.”

He warned of the presence in Colombia of pro-abortion forces who are “lying to the public, exaggerating every medical case or the case of every child who shows up pregnant.”

This way of operating, he said, is “in keeping with the style of totalitarian regimes that trample upon the human right of conscientious objection.”

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Archbishop Naumann says Gov. Sebelius nomination ‘particularly troubling’

Kansas City, Mo., Mar 5, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph F. Naumann has responded to Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination to President Obama’s Cabinet, calling it “particularly troubling” that an “outspoken advocate of legal abortion” was chosen for the key position.

He also raised concerns about her connections to abortion “rights” lobbying groups and Kansas late-term abortionist George Tiller.

Gov. Sebelius, who has been named to become Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), was rebuked by the archbishop in 2008 for her support for abortion. He asked her to refrain from receiving Communion until she publicly retracts her position and makes a worthy confession.

Writing in a March 6 column in The Leaven, Archbishop Naumann said that normally it would be “a source of joy and pride” to have a Kansas Catholic named to the Cabinet.

“Unfortunately, I experience neither,” he said.

Acknowledging the governor as “a very bright and gifted leader” who represents Catholic social teaching in “many important areas,” the archbishop praised her work for affordable housing, health care access, and incentives encouraging adoption.

“Yet, on the fundamental moral issue of protecting innocent human life, Governor Sebelius, throughout her career, has been an outspoken advocate for legalized abortion,” Archbishop Naumann wrote. “For this reason her appointment to HHS is particularly troubling.”

Though Kansas has the most restrictive laws concerning late-term abortions, the archbishop said, Kansas is “the late-term abortion capital of the Midwest” because the current laws have not been enforced and because Gov. Sebelius has vetoed legislative efforts to improve their enforcement.

Archbishop Naumann noted that early in her political career Gov. Sebelius accepted political contributions from the abortionist Dr. George Tiller.

“When this was no longer politically opportune, Dr. Tiller established a political action committee through which he donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the election and re-election of Governor Sebelius, as well as other equally staunch supporters of legalized abortion,” the archbishop charged.

Saying that the HHS Secretary will be a “key figure” in implementing health care reform, he alerted that groups influential in the Obama administration and in Gov. Sebelius’ political career want abortion to be considered a “health care right.”

Groups like Planned Parenthood, the National Organization of Women and NARAL, Archbishop Naumann warned, want to have abortion mandated as one of many “basic health care services.”

If they are successful, he said, it is “entirely possible that doctors, nurses and health care institutions will be compelled to cooperate in the provision of abortion.”

“Those advocating for abortion to be considered a ‘right’ would love to see Catholic hospitals faced with the choice to either cooperate in providing abortions or close,” the archbishop claimed.

Noting the Obama administration’s efforts to rescind HHS conscience protection rules for health care workers and providers, the archbishop also mentioned that President Obama as U.S. Senator co-sponsored the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). This version of the bill would have “forced health care providers to cooperate in abortion.”

Explaining his admonishment to Gov. Sebelius not to present herself for Communion, Archbishop Naumann said he did so hoping the action would motivate Gov. Sebelius to reconsider her support for an “intrinsic evil,” the destruction of human life in abortion.

He also voiced his “personal concern” for the governor, saying:

“Her appointment as Secretary for HHS places her in a position where she will have to make many decisions that will in all probability continue her personal involvement in promoting legalized abortion and her cooperation in this intrinsic evil.”

“I also took this pastoral action to protect others from being misled by the Governor’s public support and advocacy for legalized abortion,” he said in The Leaven, adding that he is concerned about the many nationally prominent Catholics who support legalized abortion.

“It saddens me that so many Catholics, to gain political advancement, have chosen to compromise their Catholic faith by their failure to defend the most fundamental of all human rights – the right to life,” he wrote.

“We need to pray for all Catholics who serve in public life that they will have the courage and integrity to be true to the teachings and principles of our Faith no matter the political consequences.”

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‘Strong majority’ of California justices against overturning Prop. 8

San Francisco, Calif., Mar 5, 2009 (CNA) - The California Supreme Court on Thursday began hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, the successful ballot measure which restored the state’s definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. According to one supporter, a “strong majority” of justices are not inclined to overturn the proposition.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the legal questions center upon whether Proposition 8 violates constitutional separation-of-powers by sidestepping the court’s duty to interpret the constitution and how the approximately 18,000 legal marriages contracted by same-sex couples will be treated if Proposition 8 is upheld.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Equality California, joined by the first lesbian couple to contract a legal same-sex marriage in California, filed a lawsuit immediately after the election to try and overturn Proposition 8.

Proposition 8 was a political response to the California Supreme Court’s June 2008 ruling that same-sex “marriage” was mandated by the state constitution.

Andrew Pugno, the General Counsel of – Yes on 8, in November called the lawsuit a “frivolous and regrettable” attempt to invalidate the decision of voters.

“These same groups filed an identical case with the California Supreme Court months ago, which was summarily dismissed,” he said in a Nov. 5 statement.

Speaking of Proposition 8 opponents, he said:

“It is as if their campaign just spent $40 million on a losing campaign opposing something they now say is a legal nullity. Their position is absurd, an insult to California voters and an attack on the initiative process itself.”

The Proposition 8 proponents arguing in court on Thursday were Dennis Hollingsworth, who is now the state Senate Republican leader, and the Yes on 8 campaign committee represented by attorneys Kenneth Starr and Andrew Pugno.

According to a Thursday press release from Yes on 8 –, lead attorney Kenneth Starr told the court that the California constitution “has now been amended by the sovereign people who are its creators. That is the beginning and end of this case.”

“The people have the inalienable right to control their constitution,” he said, speaking for a total of 60 minutes.

“Proposition 8’s brevity is matched by its clarity. There are no conditional clauses, exceptions, exemptions, or exclusions. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Describing Proposition 8 as a revision to the state constitution depends on characterizing Proposition 8 as a radical departure from the fundamental principles of the California Constitution,” argued Starr.

Starr, a former U.S. appellate judge who served as U.S. Solicitor General, attacked such a portrayal as “wildly wrong.”

“Proposition 8 is limited in nature and effect. It does nothing more than restore the definition of marriage to what it was and always had been under California law before June 16, 2008 – and to what the people had repeatedly willed that it be throughout California’s history,” he added.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown argued in opposition to the measure. According to the Mercury News, he has said that same-sex “marriage” is a fundamental, inalienable right that should not be revocable by popular vote under any circumstances.

Starr said embracing Brown’s view would be a “revolution… utterly without formalization in the court’s jurisprudence.”

Dozens of amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs have also been filed by the proposition’s supporters and opponents.

Frank Schubert, Campaign Manager of the Yes on 8 campaign, spoke with CNA in a Thursday phone interview about the day’s oral arguments, reporting they went “very well” for Proposition 8 supporters.

“Starr did an extraordinary job presenting our arguments,” he said, saying they saw “great skepticism” from the judges concerning the arguments against Proposition 8.

In Schubert’s view, judging by their comments and questions, “it seems clear that a strong majority [of justices] are very much not inclined to overturn.”

Justices did not appear to focus on the argument about separation of powers, he reported.

However, the fate of the some 18,000 same-sex couples in state-recognized marriages will be “a much tougher decision for them to make.”

“It’s clear that they are struggling what to do with those couples,” he told CNA, adding that there is no question that there is sympathy for them.

Schubert described Attorney General Brown’s argument that Proposition 8 violates same-sex couples’ “liberty rights” as being met with “widespread skepticism”  and as a “novel legal argument which has never been raised before.”

Schubert said he thought the justices “resoundingly rejected” that argument.

Asked why the court was revisiting the argument concerning whether the ballot measure was a constitutional revision or a constitutional amendment, Schubert said that that pre-election challenge to Proposition 8 had been dismissed and was not decided on its merits.

“They had the opportunity to throw out Prop. 8, and they declined,” he told CNA.

The argument was being revisited, Schubert thought, because it was opponents’ “last hope” to overturn the measure.

“It’s very much a long shot for them, and it’s clear they’re not going to succeed.”

“They failed at the ballot box and they’re trying to overturn the people’s judgment the only way that they can.”

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