Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Mar 13, 2009 (CNA) - The Scottish Government is drawing criticism for saying that the results of an official investigation into the effects of homosexual adoption in Scotland will not be made public. The announcement comes soon after Cardinal Keith O’Brien urged the government to promote adoption rather than permit same-sex couples to foster children.
In 2006 the Scottish Government passed laws allowing same-sex couples to adopt. The government is now working to permit same-sex couples to become foster parents.
Scottish Ministers began an investigation into the effects of homosexual adoption on children last month. The news that the results will not be published has sparked concerns that they may contain findings which would alarm the public, the Christian Institute reports.
Mike Judge, Head of Communications at the Christian Institute, criticized the concealment of the investigation results.
“This is an issue of massive public interest – we are talking about the country’s most vulnerable youngsters.
“We all deserve to know the outcome and the fact it is not being published will raise concern that ministers know their findings may alarm the public,” he said.
Last month, two middle-aged Edinburgh grandparents were told by officials that they would not see their grandchildren again unless they dropped their opposition to the children’s adoption by two homosexual men. The case sparked significant controversy.
The Equality Act passed by the British Parliament forced many Catholic adoption agencies to close or to cut their ties with the Catholic Church because the Catholic groups would not adopt children to homosexual couples.
In a March 9 statement, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh Cardinal Keith O’Brien called proposals to allow same-sex couples to become foster parents “as misguided and inappropriate as the previous change to allow same sex adoption.”
“In a consultation at the time of the change in adoption law, 80% of respondents opposed the change yet the Government ignored their concerns and changed the law. I urge the Scottish Government not to jeopardize the welfare of children who need foster care in a similar way," the cardinal added.
He argued that there is no evidence the change would widen the pool of potential foster carers. He said “a mass of evidence” attests to the instability of unmarried relationships and same-sex partnerships, “yet worryingly it is ignored.”
“Since less than two percent of the population is homosexual and a minority of this group are in a stable relationship, which would allow consideration as foster parents, It is difficult to see how the changes
advocated can have any meaningful impact on the widening the potential pool of foster families,” he continued.
“In any case, why not simply launch a high profile campaign urging more couples to consider fostering?
“For my own part I appeal to Scotland's 250,000 Catholic families and to the thousands of Catholic couples married in our churches every year to consider sharing the love and stability which I hope fills your homes with a child who has little or no experience of either, by offering to foster."
London, England, Mar 13, 2009 (CNA) - A leading embryonic stem cell expert in Britain has called for organs from aborted babies to be used in transplants to increase the supply of organs available for donation, drawing criticism from pro-life and Christian groups who called the proposal “absolutely horrifying.”
Professor Sir Richard Gardner of Oxford University, an advisor to the Royal Society and the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, made his comments at an Oxford International Biomedical Center conference, the Daily Mail reports.
Expressing surprise that the possibility has not been considered, he said using fetal tissues for organ transplant is “probably a more realistic technique in dealing with the shortage of kidney donors than others.”
Experiments in mice, he said, have shown that fetal kidneys grow extremely quickly when transplanted into adult animals.
Using aborted fetuses “is something that could be done but it's not something that's talked about much.”
“It is at least a temporary solution,” he said, also calling for a study into the feasibility of such procedures.
Professor Stuart Campbell, a London obstetrician who argued for the abortion time limit to be lowered, had no ethical objections to the proposal, arguing that many babies were aborted quite late.
“If they are going to be terminated, it is a shame to waste their organs,” he claimed.
“I am sure very few of those on the transplant list would rather die than accept an organ from an aborted fetus,” he told the Daily Mail.
Dr. Peter Saunders of the Christian Medical Fellowship said the transplants would be immoral because every human being deserves “protection, respect, wonder and empathy.”
Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, called the proposal “absolutely horrifying,” telling the Daily Mail:
“At what stage do you say to the woman who is to have an abortion, ‘Can we have some organs for transplant?’”
Washington D.C., Mar 13, 2009 (CNA) - Michael Steele, a self-described Catholic who is the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, has distanced himself from comments he made stating that he believes women “absolutely” have the right to choose abortion.
“I am pro-life, always have been, always will be,” he said in a statement through a Republican National Committee spokesman.
GQ magazine interviewer Lisa DePaulo had asked Steele how much of his pro-life stance is informed “not just by your Catholic faith but by the fact that you were adopted?”
“Oh, a lot,” he replied, saying he sees the “power of life in that—I mean, and the power of choice!”
Criticizing “these misguided conversations that throw around terms that really misrepresent truth,” he argued that “the choice issue cuts two ways.”
“You can choose life, or you can choose abortion. You know, my mother chose life. So, you know, I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other.”
DePaulo asked if he was saying he thinks women “have the right to choose abortion.”
“Yeah. I mean, again, I think that’s an individual choice,” Steele replied.
“You do?” DePaulo questioned.
“Yeah. Absolutely,” he told GQ.
Saying that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided “as a legal matter,” he said that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, the states should decide about the legality of abortion.
“That’s what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide.”
DePaulo asked Steele if pro-choicers have a place in the Republican Party, to which he answered “Absolutely!”
Calling the Republican Party “a big tent party,” he said “we recognize that there are views that may be divergent on some issues, but our goal is to correspond, or try to respond, to some core values and principles that we can agree on.”
He argued that the Republican Party is more welcoming to pro-choice people than Democrats are to pro-lifers because the Democrats “wouldn’t allow a pro-lifer to speak at their convention.”
Many believe Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey was blocked from speaking at the 1992 Democratic National Convention (DNC) because of his pro-life views. His son, Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., was allowed to speak at the 2008 DNC, where he briefly alluded to his disagreement with Barack Obama on abortion.
Steele contrasted this long Democratic hostility towards pro-lifers with the Republican National Convention’s acceptance of pro-abortion rights speakers.
“We’ve had many a pro-choicer speak at ours—long before Rudy Giuliani. So yeah, that’s something I’ve been trying to get our party to appreciate. It’s not just in our words but in our actions, we’ve been a party that’s much more embracing.”
In a Thursday statement, Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins commented on Steele’s GQ interview, saying earlier in the week he had expressed his “concerns” to Steele about “previous statements that were very similar in nature.”
“He assured me as chairman his views did not matter and that he would be upholding and promoting the Party platform, which is very clear on these issues,” Perkins stated. “It is very difficult to reconcile the GQ interview with the chairman's pledge.”
He said he would not publicly comment further on the interview or its impact on social conservatives’ support for the Republican National Committee until Steele responds to his personal message.
Steele commented on his GQ interview in a statement delivered through a spokesman.
“I am pro-life, always have been, always will be,” he insisted, saying his interview comments tried to present why he is pro-life while recognizing that his mother had a “choice” before deciding to put him up for adoption.
“I thank her every day for supporting life. The strength of the pro-life movement lies in choosing life and sharing the wisdom of that choice with those who face difficult circumstances. They did that for my mother and I am here today because they did,” he said.
Steele reiterated his support for the repeal of Roe v. Wade, acknowledging that some Republicans disagree with him.
“But the Republican Party is and will continue to be the party of life. I support our platform and its call for a Human Life Amendment. It is important that we stand up for the defenseless and that we continue to work to change the hearts and minds of our fellow countrymen so that we can welcome all children and protect them under the law.”
Vatican City, Mar 13, 2009 (CNA) - Eucharistic adoration was the focus of remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI today as he received participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Adoration of Jesus in the Eucharist must lead us to union with "the living Lord and with His mystical Body," Benedict emphasized.
Speaking to the Congregation’s full assembly, Pope Benedict said that he hopes their reflection on Eucharistic adoration "may help to clarify… the liturgical and pastoral means by which the Church of our time can promote faith in the real presence of the Lord in the Blessed Eucharist, and to ensure that the celebration of Mass fully incorporates the aspect of adoration."
The Pope also took care to highlight the truths of the faith that adoration is rooted in. "The doctrine of the transubstantiation of the bread and wine, and of the real presence, are a truth of faith, already evident in Holy Scripture and later confirmed by the Fathers of the Church," noted Benedict XVI.
After then explaining that, "in the Eucharist, adoration must become union: union with the living Lord and with His mystical Body," the Pope illustrated this reality by drawing upon what he said at World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne: "God no longer simply stands before us as the One who is totally Other. He is within us, and we are in Him. His dynamic enters into us and then seeks to spread outwards to others until it fills the world, so that His love can truly become the dominant measure of the world."
"On that occasion," he recalled, "I also reminded young people that in the Eucharist we experience the fundamental transformation of violence into love, of death into life. This brings other changes in its wake."
Renewing and promoting Eucharistic adoration is also important, the Holy Father stated, adding that it "will only be possible through a greater awareness of the mystery in complete faithfulness to Sacred Tradition, and by enhancing liturgical life within our communities."
In this context, he also expressed his appreciation at the fact that the plenary had examined the question of "the formation of all the People of God in the faith, with particular concern for seminarians, favoring their development in a spirit of authentic Eucharistic adoration."
"Recalling three penitential practices particularly dear to biblical and Christian tradition (prayer, almsgiving and fasting)," he exhorted the assembly to "encourage one another to rediscover and practice fasting with renewed fervor, not only as a form of asceticism but also as a preparation for the Eucharist
Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 13, 2009 (CNA) - In response to repeated questions by reporters during his visit to Monterrey, Mexico, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, explained his position on the case of Eluana Englaro, the Italian woman who died after her family members requested her feeding tubes be removed.
"I said it then and I repeat now: whoever kills an innocent person is a murderer. Whoever does not kill is not. This is what I have always said," the cardinal told reporters who inquired about the lawsuit Englaro’s father has threatened to file against him.
During his visit to the University Hospital of Monterrey, Cardinal Lozano recalled that God has given a commandment "Thou shalt not kill."
He also pointed out that medicine should seek to cure the patient, and if that is not possible, it should work to alleviate the pain with "palliative care." This is essential because "death is a most crucial moment for a person and one should take that definitive step with as much consciousness as possible."
The cardinal noted that the Church does not support the use of extraordinary means in which "medicine or techniques…do not alleviate or cure and only prolong a difficult agony."
"No one is obliged to use disproportionate means instead of allowing nature to take its course," Cardinal Lozano said, pointing out however that this was not the case with Eluana Englaro
"Eluana was not ill with anything. Therapeutic care does not include food or water. To deny water or nutrition to a patient is to condemn them to a terrible death by thirst and starvation," he explained.
Rome, Italy, Mar 13, 2009 (CNA) - "An emotional and unprecedented document that has come from the heart of Benedict XVI to contribute to peace in the Church. That is what the letter of the Pope is to the Catholic bishops regarding the lifting of the excommunication of the bishops consecrated in 1988." Thus began Thursday’s editorial in the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano.
In the article, L’Osservatore Romano director Giovanni Maria Vian explains that the Pope’s letter has no "precedent because there is no precedent for the storm unleashed after the publication of the lifting (of the excommunication) last January 24."
It was no coincidence that the announcement of the lifting of the excommunications came on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, "because the intention of the Bishop of Rome…was to avoid the danger of a schism, with an initial gesture of mercy, perfectly in line with the Council and with the tradition of the Church."
Vian goes on to write that among the many attacks made against Pope Benedict, the media dishonestly twisted the Pope’s gesture just in time to coincide with the statements denying the holocaust by one of the bishops involved in the case. "Unacceptable statements they were—and this was quickly pointed out by L’Osservatore Romano—just as the attitudes towards Judaism are unacceptable of some members of the groups to which Benedict XVI has extended a hand."
In his analysis Vian stressed that the Pope does not avoid difficult issues, such as the need for improvement in how such matters are handled and explained by the different Vatican offices. His letter goes to the heart of the issue, which is the problem of the Lefebvrists and the "distinction between discipline and doctrine." At a disciplinary level, the Pope has lifted the excommunication, Vian reiterated, but at the doctrinal level, he was very firm in warning that the Church’s magisterium could not be "frozen in 1962," that is, before Vatican Council II.
Vian concluded his editorial echoing the Pope’s words that this gesture of mercy towards the Lefebvrists was a priority "because in a world in which the flame of the faith is in danger of being extinguished, the priority is to lead mankind towards the God who spoke on Sinai and manifested himself in Jesus. A God who seems to be disappearing from the human horizon and who is only made believable by the testimony of the unity of believers."
Rome, Italy, Mar 13, 2009 (CNA) - During his remarks at the opening of the International University Forum of Campidoglio, whose theme is “Gospel: Culture and Cultures,” Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone underscored that the “Gospel reaches man at his specific point in history,” and that culture “represents the way for encountering the truth, so man can develop himself and the human family.”
If in the past, Cardinal Bertone explained, “culture was an expression of the civility of a people or a community, with its values and customs; in today’s society the idea of the primacy of culture as knowledge is emerging, to the point of assuming a genetic role in civility.”
This change, he said, “is creating several difficulties in the understanding of the concept of culture, which assumes an ever more ambiguous and undefined meaning.”
Cardinal Bertone went on to state that evangelization is never in opposition with the culture of different civilizations, but rather it encounters them all to assist with the realism of the faith in the salvific work of Christ, in order to sustain the development of the culture so that each culture can be freed of prejudices and ideological instrumentalization.
In this context, the experience of St. Paul in the Aeropagus—the cultural center of ancient Greece where the Apostle also proclaimed the Gospel—becomes amazingly current, the cardinal explained. “The spiritual and socio-economic crisis, which has been hammering people and nations in the opening years of the third millennium, calls us to tirelessly work for the encounter between the Church and the university, so that the university can respond to the new expectations of society and the Church can continue proclaiming the presence of God in history,” Cardinal Bertone concluded.
Lawrenceville, Ga., Mar 13, 2009 (CNA) - Thursday it was announced that the Georgia Senate has passed a bill to ban the creation of embryos for the purpose of research, human cloning or creating human-animal hybrids.
While the bill, SB169: The Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act, allows for the continuation of research being carried out on existing stem cell lines, it supports the scientific research and discoveries that continue to be found through adult stem cell research, as well as the use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPs)," reported a press release from Georgia Right to Life.
Additionally, the new bill limits the creation of new embryos in Georgia for destructive, scientific purposes, such as human cloning and human-animal hybrids (called chimeras).
"We've established a Sanctity of Life beachhead in the 21st century but know that we have major battles ahead," remarked Dan Becker, president of Georgia Right to Life.
"We have always supported adult stem cell research which to date has 70 documented cures to its credit. We are opposed to destructive Human Embryonic Stem Cell research and applaud the Georgia Senate for passing SB 169," continued Becker. "It is a step in the direction of constitutional Personhood for all humans from fertilization to natural death."
The bill will now go to vote in the state’s House of Representatives.
Vienna, Austria, Mar 13, 2009 (CNA) - In wake of the fall-out from the controversial priest Gerhard Maria Wagner’s auxiliary bishop appointment and resignation, Vienna Archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn has called for patience and understanding in a pastoral letter released earlier this week.
The cardinal empathized with his flock by stating, "Many people find it impossible to understand recent decisions by the Vatican, which have made some of them angry. I understand their reaction."
Schönborn agreed that the Church needed to admit Her mistakes and called for solidarity during this time, "I appeal to you to remain on our common path," he said.
Last week, the Vatican announced it would not be sending an apostolic delegation to Linz to investigate the former auxiliary bishop-designate Wagner and the controversy surrounding the conservative priest and his statements concerning the Harry Potter book series as "a work of Satanism," homosexuality as "curable" and natural disasters like the 2004 tsunami in Southeastern Asia and 2005 Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans as God’s punishment of human sin.
Wagner’s comments also include the topic of Baptism and the decrease of the Catholic Church’s influence in Austria. Wagner asked believers at a Catholic Church in Windischgarsten: "If the Church isn’t that important anymore, why is a child brought into the Church to be baptized? Why don’t people take their children somewhere else?"
In other sermons, Wagner warned that "many more people than you think have made a pact with the devil, with Satan," and complained about people who "make use of catholic Holidays" but don’t "want to have anything to do with the Church."
Wagner’s controversial public comments led to an exodus of Catholics from the Church in the diocese after his nomination.
The Pope formally accepted Wagner’s resignation last week.
Bridgeport, Conn., Mar 13, 2009 (CNA) -
Declaring that the defense of religious liberty is "genuine patriotism," Bishop of Bridgeport William Lori has thanked the Catholics of Connecticut for helping derail a senate bill he called a "legislative attack." The bishop also rebuked the bill’s sponsoring senator and said he has no business interfering with the Catholic Church or any other church.
The Connecticut Senate’s S.B. 1098 targeted the Catholic Church for financial reorganization and would have stripped Catholic bishops and pastors of their governing roles. Though the bill was withdrawn on Tuesday, thousands of protesters attended a Wednesday rally against the bill.
"Thousands of you, the Catholics of Connecticut rejected this unconstitutional piece of legislation built upon a pretext," Bishop Lori wrote in a March 12 entry on his blog. "So many of you called and e-mailed State Senator Andrew McDonald and State Representative Michael Lawlor and the members of Judiciary Committee that the phone system at the State Capitol shut down and the e-mail addresses of legislators were overwhelmed."
Noting that the hearing on the bill was canceled by the co-chairs of the Judiciary Committee, the bishop said:
"In bringing this about you showed real love for your Church and for your country. With all my heart, I thank you."
He said believers and citizens should remain "alert" and "on guard" against other legislation unfriendly to the Church or efforts to silence the Church on current issues.
"Religious freedom may have dodged a bullet, but the struggle isn’t over. Other salvos are coming," he warned, defending the constitutionality of existing Connecticut religious corporation statutes.
"After all the protest and expert testimony, Senator McDonald still doesn’t get it," Bishop Lori asserted. "He regrets that he didn’t have a more ‘inclusive’ forum. He has no business having any forum about the Catholic Church or any church."
"I will be calling on you from time to time to defend the Catholic Church here in the Constitution State. Defending religious liberty is genuine patriotism," the bishop said.
In his statement, Bishop Lori praised the United States’ "unique" relationship between Church and State. First Amendment restrictions, he said, bar churches from playing an official governmental role and also keep the government out of the affairs of churches.
However, he cautioned, some people throughout U.S. history have tried to alter that arrangement "for their own purposes."
"In recent years, some government officials have sought to attack religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular, in an effort to make an already secular society virtually religion-free in matters of public policy," he added, characterizing S.B. 1098 as one such example.
"The proposed bill was aimed only at the Catholic Church. No other religious organization in the state was mentioned," he remarked. According to the bishop, the bill’s authors were responding to complaints of parishioners following an embezzlement scandal at St. John Parish in Darien.
"The four disgruntled people who pushed this bill don’t even belong to Saint John’s which, by the way, is flourishing," he said in his blog entry, reporting that the lay leadership of the parish has told him they are pleased with their pastor and the financial management system the diocese has put in place.
"This bill was introduced without any notice or consultation of any kind with the bishops of Connecticut and was put on a legislative fast track to preempt effective opposition," Bishop Lori reported, noting that the plan "didn’t work" because of protests against it.
He compared "this kind of legislative attack" to the efforts of the anti-Catholic Know Nothing Party, which he said gained control of the legislature in the 1850s and used "trusteeism" as a "ploy" to try to cripple the Church.
"The 19th-century attack on the Church was the product of anti-Catholic bigotry in its time, and this 21st-century attack is nothing less than an updated form of anti-Catholic bigotry," Bishop Lori charged.
Washington D.C., Mar 13, 2009 (CNA) -
A longstanding amendment banning federal funding for research in which human embryos are destroyed, discarded, or "knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death" was part of an omnibus bill signed by President Barack Obama on Wednesday. However, some backers of embryo-destructive research are advocating the amendment’s repeal.
The provision, known as the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, has been included in the annual appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) since 1996. According to CNSNews.com, it is located in Section 509 of Title V, on page 280 of the 465-page H.R. 1105, the Omnibus Appropriations Act 2009.
Barring repeal, the amendment will be in force through September 30, the end of the fiscal year.
The amendment defines the human embryo as "any organism… that is derived by fertilization, parthenogenesis, cloning, or any other means from one or more human gametes or human diploid cells."
On March 9 President Obama overturned President George W. Bush’s executive order barring federal funding for new stem cell lines derived from destroying human embryos. While embryonic stem cell researchers may not use federal funds to create and destroy human embryos for their stem cells, they may acquire stem cells from human embryos destroyed with non-U.S. government funding.
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), who has sponsored the House version of a bill that would have legalized federal funding of embryonic stem cell research using embryos from in vitro fertilization clinics, has said she is considering the possibility of repealing the Dickey-Wicker Amendment.
"Dickey-Wicker is 13 years old now, and I think we need to review these policies," Rep. DeGette told the New York Times on Monday. "I’ve already talked to several pro-life Democrats about Dickey-Wicker, and they seemed open to the concept of reversing the policy if we could show that it was necessary to foster this research."
However, other pro-life Democrats are against the embryo-destructive research.
On Wednesday Kristin Day, Executive Director of Democrats for Life of America (DFLA), told CNA her organization is opposed to using human embryos and experimenting on them.
"The end doesn’t justify the means," she said.
Some Republicans have also joined the calls to reexamine the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. Rep. Mike Castle (R.-Del.), a co-sponsor of Rep. DeGette’s bill, said the amendment is "something we need to look at."
"That was passed in 1996, before we realized the full potential of embryonic stem cell research. Some researchers are telling us now that that needs to be reversed," he told the Congressional Quarterly on Monday.
A Tuesday New York Times editorial also called for the repeal of Dickey-Wicker, saying it has "hobbled" other "important embryonic research."
According to CNSNews.com, National Right to Life Committee spokesman Douglas Johnson on Monday said that President Obama’s embryonic stem cell research executive order "set the stage" for efforts to repeal Dickey-Wicker.
"Any member of Congress who votes for legislation to repeal this law is voting to allow federal funding of human embryo farms, created through the use of human cloning," he warned.
In his Monday announcement of his executive order overturning embryonic stem cell funding restrictions, President Obama said "we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong and has no place in our society, or any society."
Some advocates of human embryonic stem cell research try to distinguish between "reproductive" and "therapeutic" cloning, arguing that the latter practice should be allowed. Prospective embryonic stem cell therapies may require cloning to avoid rejection of the cells by patients’ immune systems.
If such research and therapies are developed, embryos will be cloned from the patient and then killed for their stem cells.
According to CNSNews.com, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R- Utah) sponsored a bill in the last Congress which would specifically permit federal funding of research using human embryos that are created by cloning and kept alive for no more than 14 days.