Archive of April 1, 2009

Abortion is a ‘defeat for medicine,’ says archbishop of Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) - During a pro-life rally on March 29 outside the Cathedral of Sao Paulo in Brazil, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer announced to the more than 5,000 people gathered that "abortion is a defeat for medicine."

After explaining to his audience that "the health of women who are raped can be recovered through medicine," the cardinal pointed out that "abortion is a radical attack against life. The Church supports everything that is done to save life. Abortion is a defeat for medicine."

The cardinal said the state should create laws that defend life from the moment of conception. "We cannot give the State the right to legally throw away the lives of the defenseless. It is a question of citizenship, not of religion," he continued.

Various pro-life leaders and lawmakers were present at the event, including Marilia de Castro of the National Movement of Citizens for Life. "We are going to defeat the measures that aim to kill our children," she said.

back to top

Catholic women convoke bioethics discussion and meet with Justice Alito

Denver, Colo., Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) - A Catholic women’s group will meet in Washington D.C. to hear a bioethics panel and to meet with Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

The event, “New Springtime for Women,” will be held on Saturday, April 25 at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. It is co-sponsored by the women’s group ENDOW, whose name stands for Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women.

The gathering will feature a panel presentation on “Biotechnology and the Human Person,” including panelists Marilyn Coors, Ph.D., associate professor at the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado, Denver; and Patrick Lee, Ph.D., a bioethics professor and director of the Institute of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

A mother-daughter event on April 24 will give teenagers and their mothers and grandmothers the opportunity to tour the Supreme Court and have a private meeting with Justice Alito.

Other event speakers include Helen Alvaré, Consultor for the Pontifical Council for the Laity and law professor at George Mason University School of Law; Jeanette DeMelo, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Denver; and Therese Polakovic, founder and executive director of ENDOW.

The Pope John Paul II Cultural Center and the Papal Foundation are co-sponsoring the event with ENDOW. Begun in 2003, ENDOW has nearly 5,400 participants in 64 dioceses in the U.S. and Canada.

back to top

Archbishop Nienstedt protests ‘egregious’ invite of Obama to Notre Dame

Minneapolis, Minn., Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) - Citing President Barack Obama’s “deliberate disregard of the unborn,” Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis has written to the president of the University of Notre Dame, protesting the “egregious decision” to invite the president as commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient.

The archbishop joins several other U.S. bishops who have opposed the invitation.

Writing a March 31 letter to University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Archbishop Nienstedt characterized President Obama as a former “pro-abortion legislator” who has indicated his “deliberate disregard for the unborn” by promoting “the FOCA agenda” and “lifting the ban on embryonic stem cell research.”

The Freedom of Choice Act involves laws that would further enshrine permissive abortion policies in federal law and could threaten both restrictions on taxpayer funding for abortions and protections for those who object to performing abortions. The “FOCA agenda” is a term used by FOCA opponents to describe the piecemeal implementation of FOCA and other pro-abortion legislation.

President Obama recently overturned President George W. Bush’s restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. President Bush did not ban the research outright.

Archbishop Nienstedt in his letter also objected to President Obama’s “open support for gay rights.”

“It is a travesty that the University of Notre Dame, considered by many to be a Catholic University, should give its public support to such an anti-Catholic politician,” the archbishop wrote, asking President Jenkins to reconsider the decision.

If the decision is not reconsidered, the archbishop said, “please do not expect me to support your University in the future.”

Responding to the letter, Patrick Reilly, President of the Cardinal Newman Society, said the faithful owe “a debt of prayerful thanks” to Archbishop Nienstedt.

The Cardinal Newman Society, an organization dedicated to strengthening Catholic higher education, has organized a petition drive asking President Jenkins to rescind the invitation to President Obama. As of Tuesday afternoon the petition had more than 220,000 signatures.

Notre Dame’s 2009 commencement is scheduled for May 17.

back to top

Catholic Church prepares for tens of thousands of U.S. converts

Washington D.C., Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) - Tens of thousands of new Catholics are expected to join the Catholic Church in the U.S. in 2009, with many doing so at the Easter Vigil liturgies on April 11.

Converts to Catholicism are known as catechumens if they have never been baptized and as candidates if they have received baptism in another Christian community and now seek full communion with the Catholic Church.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta, where Catholics have traditionally been a minority, estimates that 513 catechumens and 2,195 candidates will enter the Catholic Church in 2009, about 1,800 doing so at Easter. The figures do not include infant baptisms.

Father Theodore Book, director of the Office of Divine Worship for the Atlanta Archdiocese, said the archdiocese has been “blessed with an authentic dynamism” during recent years. He cited the archdiocese’s annual Eucharistic Congress, saying it draws nearly 30,000 participants.

“One of the many blessings that we have received from the Lord is the large number of individuals entering the Church,” he said.

The Archdiocese of Seattle will reportedly welcome 736 catechumens and 506 candidates, while the Diocese of San Diego will baptize 305 and receive into communion 920 other baptized Christians.

The mostly rural Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama reportedly will have 445 new converts. The diocese’s Cathedral of St. Paul could not hold them and their families for the Rite of Election, which had to be held in three separate ceremonies.

At St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, California resident Heidi Sierras will represent North America at the Easter Vigil, where she will be baptized by Pope Benedict XVI.

The 2008 Official Catholic Directory listed 49,415 adult baptisms and 87,363 people received into full communion in 2007.

back to top

Pope calls for an ethical G20 solution that remembers the poor

Vatican City, Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) -

Ahead of the G20 gathering in London tomorrow, Pope Benedict XVI has written to Prime Minister Gordon Brown to insist that any solution to the financial crisis involves the inclusion of ethics and be founded upon a "positive faith in the human person," especially those in extreme poverty.

Gordon Brown, who currently chairs the Group of 20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors from industrialized and emerging nations, received a letter from Pope Benedict as the leaders prepare for their April 2-3 meeting.

The Pope praised the "noble objectives" they have set themselves, saying that they arise from the conviction "that the way out of the current global crisis can only be reached together, avoiding solutions marked by any nationalistic selfishness or protectionism."

The upcoming G20 summit, the Pope noted, is intended to "coordinate, with urgency, measures necessary to stabilize financial markets and to enable companies and families to weather this period of deep recession, as well as to restore sustainable growth in the world economy and to reform and substantially strengthen systems of global governance, in order to ensure that such a crisis is not repeated in the future."

Examining what led to the current global recession, the Holy Father said that "a key element of the crisis is a deficit of ethics in economic structures." This same crisis, he insisted, "teaches us that ethics is not 'external' to the economy but 'internal' and that the economy cannot function if it does not bear within it an ethical component."

The Holy Father also drew upon his recently concluded trip to Africa to impress upon the G20 leaders the gravity of their decisions. While in Africa, the Pope wrote, he was able to "see first hand the reality of severe poverty and marginalization, which the crisis risks aggravating dramatically."

And although the poor would be the most affected population, Pope Benedict pointed out that their voice has little chance of being heard by the G20, where "sub-Saharan Africa is represented by just one State and some regional organizations."

This, he writes, "must prompt a profound reflection among the summit participants, since those whose voice has least force in the political scene are precisely the ones who suffer most from the harmful effects of a crisis for which they do not bear responsibility."

The solutions arrived at by the G20 must involve "a courageous and generous strengthening of international co-operation, capable of promoting a truly humane and integral development. Positive faith in the human person, and above all faith in the poorest men and women - of Africa and other regions of the world affected by extreme poverty - is what is needed if we are truly to come through the crisis once and for all, without turning our back on any region, and if we are definitively to prevent any recurrence of a situation similar to that in which we find ourselves today," he wrote.

The Pope concluded his letter by expressing the wish to add his voice "to those of the adherents of various religions and cultures who share the conviction that the elimination of extreme poverty by 2015, to which leaders at the UN Millennium Summit committed themselves, remains one of the most important tasks of our time."

Gordon Brown replied to the Pope's letter by saying that he agreed with the Holy Father's ideas and that "...we stand ready to support the most vulnerable in society. It is vital that rich countries keep their promises on aid, even in these tough times."

back to top

Peace for Africa can only be found in the Word of God, Pope recaps

Vatican City, Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) - Twenty thousand people gathered on Wednesday morning in St. Peter’s Square to participate in Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly General Audience. The Holy Father told them of the highlights of his trip to Africa and emphasized that his message to all Africans was that true hope of peace and reconciliation can only be found in the Word of God.

Pope Benedict told the faithful that with his visit, he had "sought to embrace all the people of Africa, and bless them in the name of the Lord," beginning with Cameroon, a country with "a profoundly religious soul which unites the numerous ethnic groups that inhabit it."

In Cameroon, "more than a quarter of the inhabitants are Catholic, and live together peacefully with the other religious communities,” he explained. “For this reason, John Paul II chose it to promulgate the exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, after the first synod assembly for Africa.”

“This time,” he added, “the Pope went there to deliver the Instrumentum Laboris [working document] for the next assembly, the theme of which will be 'The Church in Africa, instrument of reconciliation at the service of justice and peace.'”

He went on to mention his meetings with bishops in Cameroon and Angola, to whom he "reaffirmed the vital importance of evangelization, which is first and foremost the responsibility of bishops, highlighting the collegial dimension based on sacramental communion.”

“I also encouraged them to promote the pastoral care of marriage and the family, of the liturgy and of culture, also by putting lay people in a position to be able to resist the attacks of sects and esoteric groups."

The Pope then recalled that he met with representatives of the Muslim community at the Vatican embassy in Cameroon, where he reiterated the “importance of interreligious dialogue and of collaboration between Christians and Muslims.”

Turning then to consider the second stage of his African journey in Angola, he recalled how that county, "having emerged from a long civil war, is now committed to reconciliation and national reconstruction."

Reconciliation and national reconstruction, however, cannot hope to be successful if they come about "at the expense of the poorest who, like everyone else, have the right to share in the resources of their land,” he said.

"This is why, with my visit, the primary aim of which was to confirm the Church in her faith, I also sought to encourage the ongoing social processes."

"In Angola there is a palpable sense of something my venerated predecessors oft repeated: everything is lost with war, everything can be reborn with peace,” the Pope recalled. “But great moral energy is required to build a nation; and here, once again, the Church has an important role, [she is] called to play an educational role, and working to renew and form people's consciences."

“Africa is a very young continent, but too many of her sons and daughters, children and adolescents, have suffered serious wounds that only Jesus Christ can heal by infusing the power to love,” Pope Benedict proclaimed.

In Angola, "I paid homage to the women for the service that so many of them offer to faith, to life, to human dignity,” he recounted. “I recalled the full right of women to be involved in public life, without compromising their role in the family, to be carried out with the rest of society, and, above all, with their husbands and fathers."

Pope Benedict XVI then explained that the message he gave to women and families also extends to everyone. “I told the African people that if, like ancient Israel, they base their hope on the Word of God, in the richness of their religious and cultural heritage, they can truly build a future of reconciliation and stable peace for everyone."

The Pope concluded by issuing an invitation to "pray for the people of Africa, who are so dear to me, that with courage they may face the great social, economic and spiritual challenges of the present time."

back to top

Bishop offers Mass of healing for abuse victims

Gilbert, Ariz., Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) -

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted celebrated a March 25 Mass of Healing and Reconciliation at St. Anne Parish for victims of sexual abuse, their friends and families.


The diocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection began offering these yearly Masses across the Valley in 2005. Jean Sokol, director of the office, said it’s a chance for people to come together and “pray for healing.”


“One lady said the Mass was very healing for her,” Sokol said. “It was very emotional, but she felt like her Church supported her.”


Sokol said the fact that Bishop Olmsted celebrates the yearly Mass is a sign of the diocese’s commitment to healing and reconciliation.


“He supports the Mass wholeheartedly, even in his busy schedule,” she said. “The bishop’s homilies are always awesome, too. He speaks to people’s hearts and brings peace.”


Before Mass, the couple of hundred congregants prayed a Litany of Healing that sought protection for children, wisdom for counselors and therapists and repentance for abusers.


Because this year’s Mass fell on the feast of the Annunciation, Bishop Olmsted encouraged those gathered to find solace in Mary under her name, Our Lady of Sorrows.


“The sexual abuse of young people and other crimes of abuse make us keenly aware of how such sinful activity undermines the common good, and sows fear and insecurity in people’s hearts throughout society,” the bishop said.


“And the offenses make it very difficult for anyone involved to continue to have faith in God,” he said. “Yes, difficult but not impossible, for nothing is impossible with God. And in our pain, Our Lady of Sorrows is always near.”


Our Lady of Sorrows understands the pain of those who have been abused, the bishop said. She knows about “sleepless nights” and the “temptations to abandon our hope.”


“We want you who are survivors of abuse to feel embraced by the prayers and compassion of our entire Catholic community,” Bishop Olmsted concluded. “Together with Our Lady of Sorrows, we wish to journey with you in the presence of Christ our Redeemer.”


Printed with permission from the Catholic Sun.

back to top

Addiction to pornography leads to broken marriages, expert warns

Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the organization Morality in Media, Robert Peters, warned this week that at least 10% of the world's population is addicted to pornography and that this vice is the cause of many failed marriages.

During the International Life and Family Congress at the Autonomous University of Baja California, Peters said that in most cases it is men who are addicted to pornography.

During his speech entitled, “The effects of pornography on our children,” he noted that one of the problems pornography poses to marriages is that the one with the addiction begins to lose interest in his or her spouse and wants to recreate the acts depicted in pornography.

He also pointed out that having pornography in the home exposes children to falling into the vice, and that the internet has allowed children to have increasing access to this kind of material. Porn has become one of the main educators of young people, he warned.

Laws must be strengthened to protect minors from pornography, Peters said, and religion is one of the more effective means for combating the addiction, in addition to professional help.

back to top

Ugandan doctor links African AIDS epidemic to Western sexual values

Kampala, Uganda, Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) - Each day more scientists, researchers and doctors are voicing their support for Pope Benedict XVI’s statement that condoms are not decreasing the spread of AIDS in Africa. Dr. Filippo Ciantia, a Ugandan doctor who specializes in tropical medicine, told CNA that, “In every African country where there has been HIV prevalence decline, this has been preceded by decline in casual and multi-partner sex.”

Ciantia worked in Northern Uganda from 1980-1989, the critical years where an unidentified virus, now known to be AIDS, began to spread. He described in a 2006 paper, “The Victory of Reason,” what he had documented.

“I began to notice some young adults … [who] were severely wasted, with chronic diarrhea, skin rashes and fever. Others were affected by disseminated tuberculosis. I still recall that I hardly believed the results of the biopsy…we were faced with a new disease.” The name given to this disease in Uganda was “Slim Disease,” but after it was identified as HIV/AIDS, Dr. Ciantia related that “it was clear that there was no cure.”

The Ugandan Government eventually realized that this new deadly disease could quickly “wipe away our country,” he recalled.  In order to prevent its spread early on, the government produced the booklet, “Guidelines on Control of AIDS,” which stressed the need for behavioral change instead of marketing condoms.

Regarding condoms, Ciantia clarified that he has found “limited or no direct evidence” that the societal promotion of condoms has contributed to “the reduction or slowing down of HIV in generalized epidemics.”

In 1991, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni rejected “condom social marketing” and instead emphasized a behavioral change approach at an AIDS conference in Florence, Italy. He said, “…I have been emphasizing a return to our time-tested cultural practices, which emphasized fidelity and condemnation of pre-marital or extra-marital sex. Young people must be taught the virtues of abstinence, self control and postponement of pleasure and sometimes sacrifice...”

Museveni and others in the medical and social work community in Uganda urged this approach, which “led to an impressive mobilization of the entire society, single persons, groups, the Church and other religious organizations and associations,” said Dr. Ciantia.

The “epic of the people of Uganda,” as Ciantia called it, awakened “people to discover the full dignity and value of human life and love.” Though difficult at times, it was through the virtue of hope and the support of friends and family that behavioral change was able to occur, he said.

The three behavioral changes encouraged by the Ugandan plan--known as the ABC behaviors--are: abstinence, faithfulness and lastly, condom use by casual partners. Out of these three changes, Ciantia reported that the behavioral change that made the greatest impact appears to be “faithfulness or partner reduction behaviors by Ugandan men and women, whose reported casual sex encounters declined by well over 50 percent between 1989 and 1995.”

Overall, the result of this approach has been the dramatic reduction of HIV/AIDS in the adult population from about 18% in the late 1980s to 6.4 % in 2005.

Dr. Ciantia explained that there are three major lessons we can learn from Uganda.  First of all, we see that development occurs when the people are the subject of change.  It cannot be accomplished by just handing over “technical or scientific tools,” there needs to be a real involvement of the persons and communities.

We can also learn that fighting HIV/AIDS needs to be based on evidence and proper verification of facts. The evidence shows that the “Ugandan experience provides, in the time of the evidence-based medicine, an African lesson to the whole world,” the tropical medicine specialist said.

Finally, we see that the solution must focus on the human person and her/his responsibility and not just a general addressing the “masses” approach, Dr. Ciantia emphasized.

The opposition to these lessons “is really ideological,” he charged, pointing out that “we are facing smoking and alcoholism with strong primary behavior campaign[s] and seriously limiting personal choices (for a public and personal health benefit). But sexual behavior cannot be touched! This is real Western taboo.”

He closed by noting that the Holy Father “has been realistic, reasonable and evidence-based. All criticize him, but actual empirical [data] support his position.”

Dr. Ciantia has also published a letter along with several African colleagues further detailing the evidence for their postion. It can be read at

back to top

Sebelius confirmation hearings see little focus on abortion record

Washington D.C., Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) - Yesterday Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius fielded questions about her plans for medical health care reform, but received only question from a senator about her positions on abortion.

Many pro-life groups have protested Catholic Governor Sebelius’ nomination as the Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department, including Catholics against Sebelius.  They said that they were disappointed by the lack of difficult questions asked of the Governor.

Wyoming Senator Michael Enzi, one of the Senators who didn't question Sebelius on abortion, said "I am and will remain staunchly pro-life, and will advocate for the lives of the unborn," but that he preferred to focus on health care reform instead of talking about abortion.

Despite having several other pro-life senators, including Catholic Senator Bob Casey, on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, only Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn questioned Sebelius about her views on abortion and President Obama’s plan for reproductive rights reform.

Coburn expressed his concern that Sebelius’ past support for abortion and Obama’s comments about supporting the Freedom of Choice Act would erode his right as a doctor, “As a pro-life obstetrician, I feel I have a constitutional right to have those protections as I practice medicine.”

Even though the Obama Administration has moved to modify or dispense with the recently enacted conscience protection statues, Sebelius said that Obama supports a “clearly defined conscience clause for providers and institutions,” without providing any specificity.

Referring to the HHS regulations enacted by the Bush Administration to protect health care workers, she said, "I don't think from the discussions that I've had that there is any intention of interfering with the underlying legal basis."

Coburn also asked Sebelius if the Obama Administration plans to amend Medicaid rules  so that RU-486 is classified as an “emergency contraceptive” and thus no longer subject to Hyde Amendment restrictions that prevent taxpayer dollars from funding abortion.

"Can you give us an assurance that that won't be changed or are there plans to change that?" Sen. Coburn asked.

Gov. Sebelius replied, "As far as i know, there are no plans, I certainly have had no discussions with anyone about changing that policy." "Again, I am not confirmed as secretary, I haven't had those discussions," she added.

In an attempt to moderate the perception of her abortion views, Sebelius also argued that she has always supported a “conscience clause” and pointed toward the fact that one remained in place in Kansas during her time as governor.

Sebelius’ confirmation hearings will continue Thursday morning.

back to top

Paramilitary group gives ultimatum to Catholic parish in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) - The armed group that controls an infamous slum in Rio de Janeiro gave an ultimatum this week to the archdiocese, demanding that it close down a parish and its community assistance center because the pastor refuses to pay the extortion the group is demanding.

The armed group controls the area known as Jacarepagua, where the parish of Our Lady of Loretto is located.

The leader of the group, which fights with drug traffickers for control of the area, gave an ultimatum to Father Luis Antonio, pastor of Our Lady of Loretto, to leave the parish by May 5.

I don’t know what the motive is behind the ultimatum, but the truth is the Church does not make agreements with these groups,” the priest said, adding that he has no intention of leaving the parish.

According to the Brazilian daily, “O Dia,” paramilitary groups control more than 500 neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro, claiming they are combating the drug traffickers. As a result of the deep corruption in the police force, the armed groups were at first welcomed as liberators from the drug traffickers, but now they have set up a “mafia-style” system of extortion, charging for supposed protection.

“The vigilantes have become new form of intolerable abuse,” Father Luis Antonio stated.

back to top

Salesian family celebrates 75th anniversary of canonization of St. John Bosco

Madrid, Spain, Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) - The Salesian family is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the canonization of St. John Bosco in Madrid today with a series of activities, including the launching of new online resources.

On April 1, 1934, 46 years after his death, Pope Pius XI canonized John Bosco and established January 31 as his feast day.

According to a press release published by the Salesian News Agency, the Salesian Family throughout the world will commemorate the anniversary, which coincides with the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Salesians by Don Bosco. “And it does so with the invitation of Father Pascual Chavez, superior of the Salesians, to ‘live 2009 as a year of grace, remembering where we came from, who we are and where we are going.’”

As part of the jubilee, the relics of Don Bosco will travel to each region where the congregation has a presence. The urn will be taken to various countries through 2015, when the Salesians will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of their founder.

back to top

Mexican bishop responds to threats: 'I will continue preaching in support of life'

Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) -

Bishop Florencio Olvera Ochoa of Cuernavaca in Mexico said this week that he will continue defending the right to life, despite the lawsuits and threats against him by some politicians in response to his 2009 “Decalogue of Electoral Sins.”

Bishop Olvera Ochoa was already the target of lawsuits because of the Decalogue he published during the previous election season, when he pointed out the issues that disqualify a candidate from receiving the Catholic vote: support for abortion, euthanasia, homosexual “marriage,” genetic manipulation and the denial of the right of parents to educate their children.

This year the bishop published an updated version of his guide and again became the target of criticisms and threats.

“Like the moment when Christ was crucified, He felt fear but despite that remained firm in his conviction to sacrifice himself for humanity, so we should not feel fear” in the face of so many threats, the bishop said in his homily.

“Preaching the Gospel is complicated and difficult, we need to show love to all people: Christ loved all and we should love all—gays, lesbians, prostitutes, even assailants and kidnappers. They are human persons and we should love them, but we cannot accept their vice,” the bishop said. “If they criticize you,” he added, “be firm in your principles, because you proclaim what is good, what is important and what helps others.”

“Let us pray for those who promote abortion, euthanasia, but don’t be fooled. Tell them: I respect you as persons but your actions are evil, they are not of Christ,” the bishop said.

Bishop Olvera went on to explain that when one preaches the doctrine of Christ, “people think you are attacking others; and how they lie, let me tell you,” he said as he pointed to the area where journalists usually sit.

“I have and always will preach the truth,” he continued, “but I have never pointed fingers at any one (politician). For this reason I complain (about journalists) because they blame me for many things that happen. They can do what they want with me, but I will always preach the truth.”

back to top

Bishops call on Notre Dame to defend life, cancel Obama invite

South Bend, Ind., Apr 1, 2009 (CNA) - Still more U.S. bishops have written regarding the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama to deliver the spring commencement speech and receive an honorary degree. The Archbishop of Newark has encouraged the school to underscore its commitment to the Gospel and the reverence for life, while an Oklahoma bishop called the invitation a “scandal” and asked it be withdrawn.

Archbishop of Newark John J. Myers, writing in a Wednesday statement, said he was “pained” to learn of the invitation.

Acknowledging that not all people believe what the Church teaches, he said the extension of honors to those who “do not share our respect and reverence for life in all stages” creates the perception that the honor is an endorsement.

“We cannot justify such actions, and the Bishops have stated so clearly and strongly,” he wrote.

“If the president of Notre Dame University truly wishes to show that his institution is rooted in Catholic teaching and tradition and committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he must underscore this message at commencement plainly and clearly, and invite everyone to embrace an immutable and all-inclusive reverence for life,” Archbishop Myers wrote.

Bishop of Tulsa Edward J. Slattery, in a Tuesday letter to University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, asked the invitation be canceled.

“As you know, President Obama is aggressively promoting abortion on demand not only here in the United States but all over the world,” he wrote, saying the president wants doctors to be required to perform an abortion whenever the mother asks.

“Faithful Catholics and all men and women of good will are appalled by the sin of abortion. It is a cancer in our society which is eating away at all the other pro-life issues because abortion destroys human life at its very beginning and has become so common,” he wrote.

“For President Obama to be honored by Notre Dame is more than a disappointment, it is a scandal – especially to young adults,” Bishop Slattery added, arguing the school’s honoring of the president will make it easier for a woman contemplating abortion to undergo the procedure.

He said the cancellation of the president’s visit would be remembered as “an affirmation of the intrinsic value of human life, a courageous example of prophetic witness worthy of a Catholic institution.”

According to the Oklahoman, Archbishop of Oklahoma City Eusebius Beltran sent a similar letter.

“President Obama, by word and action, has approved of abortion and other atrocities against human life. Therefore he deserves no recognition at a Catholic institution,” Archbishop Beltran said, noting that he will comment on the matter in the April 5 edition of the archdiocese’s newspaper, the Sooner Catholic.

back to top

Follow us:

Recent activity: