Archive of April 2, 2009

Churchgoing Catholics strongly oppose abortion but divided on embryonic stem-cell research

Washington D.C., Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - A new Gallup Poll reports that a strong majority of churchgoing Catholics do not think abortion is morally acceptable. However, it claims about half of churchgoing Catholics dissent from Catholic morality on matters of sexual morality, divorce and human embryo research.

The Gallup Poll, whose results were released on Monday, surveyed 3,022 adults and claims a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points among all adults. About 24 percent of poll respondents identified themselves as Catholic.

According to the results, only 24 percent of churchgoing Catholics thought abortion was morally acceptable, compared to 52 percent of non-churchgoing Catholics. Catholics from both groups approved of abortion slightly more often than their non-Catholic counterparts.

Sixty-three percent of churchgoing Catholics found divorce to be morally acceptable, compared to 77 percent of their non-churchgoing coreligionists and 46 percent of non-Catholic churchgoers.

Asked about the morality of sexual relations between an unmarried man and woman, about half of churchgoing Catholics declared the action morally acceptable while about 77 percent of non-churchgoing Catholics did. This compares to only 30 percent of non-Catholic churchgoers.

The poll also found that about half of churchgoing Catholics believed human embryonic stem cell research was morally acceptable, compared to 70 percent of non-churchgoing Catholics. Jennifer Miller, Executive Director of Bioethics International, discussed with CNA why American Catholics may approve of the use of embryonic stem cell research.

Miller noted that she was not surprised by the poll’s results. She believes that science is progressing at such a rapid pace, that the average American cannot keep up with all the information.

When embryonic stem cell research started to hit mainstream news during the Clinton Administration, Miller explained, the average person "was not typically aware of the differences between embryonic and adult stem cell research." The result was that Americans "lumped the two together" and continue to believe that the Catholic Church unfairly was "opposed to all stem cell research, which of course was not the case."

Today, Miller believes that people are "slowly" coming to learn that "the two are not the same" and that one is morally acceptable, while the other has a "host of ethical questions."

The truth about stem cell research, Miller says is, that scientists initially preferred embryonic stem cell research to adult stem cell research, but that has shifted because scientists can now create "embryonic like" stem cells through "reprogramming" without the ethical consequences of destroying a human life.

When asked why Catholics are supporting embryonic stem cell research, Miller cited a "loss of moral authority" from the sexual abuse scandals as a contributing factor to this dissension.

Another factor, according to Miller, is a societal "‘Me, Inc.’ syndrome, where the truth has become relative to us: when does life begin for me? When do I feel a human organism is the subject of rights and merits protection and care?"

She also explained that when Bioethics International educates people on the ethical implications of embryonic experimentation and noted that the area of most resistance centers on "the value of a life created in a sterile petri dish and frozen." This is because, she continued, "people believe these "embryos will die anyway" they think it is "better to bring about some good from their ‘lives’."

The main issue, Miller believes, is "not a problem of gaps in scientific knowledge, but of our understanding of life in general. This is a question of whether we value life unconditionally, or conditionally. This question is much deeper and in my opinion is at the root of most ethical questions facing society today."


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Poland to mark fourth anniversary of John Paul II’s passing

Krakow, Poland, Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - On Thursday Poland will mark the fourth anniversary of the death of Servant of God Pope John Paul II with prayers, poetry and music as a website advocates for his beatification.

A web page has been created where readers can sign in and endorse the “Saint now” appeal launched in St. Peter’s Square on the day of the pontiff’s funeral.

“The page was not opened to pressure people or try to speed up the beatification process, but to send a tangible sign that the words ‘Saint now’ were not just uttered on the spur of the moment,” the page organizers said, according to SIR.

The appeal says “John Paul II exerts great influence on the moral attitudes of the Polish population and lives in our hearts as a saint.”

Signatures to the appeal are displayed under a short prayer thanking God for the gift of Pope John Paul II and asking that he be beatified soon, SIR reports.

The Polish-language website is located at

Also on Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI will preside at a Mass marking the anniversary of John Paul II. Young people from the diocese of Rome are particularly welcome at the ceremony as a preparation for World Youth Day, which is celebrated on the diocesan level on April 5.

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Iraqi Christians have ‘great hope’ in ‘tragic’ situation, Kirkuk archbishop says

Kirkuk, Iraq, Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Kirkuk Louis Sako, lamenting the number of Iraqi Christians who have been murdered or driven into exile by persecution, has said that the Christian community possesses “great hope” amid the “tragedy” of its circumstances.

A total of 750 Christians have been murdered in the past five years, including Archbishop of Mosul Paulos Faraj Rahho, Archbishop Sako told a press conference convened by the charities Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Pro Oriente and Christian Solidarity International.

"Some 200,000 Christians have left the country. This is a tragedy for us," he said, appealing for support to help the Christian community to help its members remain in Iraq or return to their country.

Christians themselves are concerned about the proposed withdrawal of U.S. troops, he said, naming the lack of security in the country to be its gravest problem.

The Iraqi army and police were not yet strong enough to take over, the archbishop reported.

“Under Saddam's regime we had security but no freedom. Today we have freedom, but the problem is security,” he said, according to ACN.

Archbishop Sako called on the international community to help both Christian refugees and those Christians who remain in Iraq.

Many Christians are now living in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, a situation which the archbishop called “a great challenge for the Church.”

Families have also fled to small towns in northern Iraq where there is almost no employment.

The archbishop said it was “a scandal” that the human rights of Christians in Iraq were being ignored. Noting that Christians, too, are full citizens of the country, he said that they had been living in the country for 2,000 years and if they were finally expelled an important part of the culture and history of Iraq would also be lost.

He also reported that many Iraqis equate the country’s Christians with the U.S. troops, whom many believe have come to Iraq to fight against Islam.

Nonetheless, Archbishop Sako said Christians had not given up hope.

“We have many problems, but we also have great hope. We are not afraid, but rather we want to be able to live together with the Muslims in Iraq in peace,” he said.

A dialogue with Muslims is still possible, he said, but it must not be a theological dialogue but a “dialogue of life.” He added that it is important for Muslims to come to grips with the “responsible freedom” of man from their own religious perspective.

Saying that Muslims should find an interpretation of the Koran appropriate for the present, he said it is a problem that “Muslims are living as though in the seventh century.”

Archbishop Sako thanked ACN, Christian Solidarity International and Pro Oriente for their active help and projects in Iraq.

“This is helping the Christians to remain there, despite their difficult situation,” he commented.

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‘Bella’ star Verástegui returns from Sudanese relief trip

Los Angeles, Calif., Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - Returning from a tour of relief projects in the Sudan, both the star and producer of the movie “Bella” praised the work while drawing attention to the plight of the Sudanese people. The two emphasized the need to put faith in action.

On the trip over $2 million in food, medicine and other aid was distributed under the aegis of the Persecution Project Foundation, the Human Rights Education and Relief Organization (HERO) and Manto de Guadalupe (MdG).

“I hope that all will recognize that it is possible to make a difference to those who are suffering," said Eduardo Verástegui, founder of MdG and star of the movie “Bella.”

The Persecution Project has helped build 26 new water wells in the Sudan, where an estimated 500,000 people have been killed in the Darfur region and two million more have become internally displaced refugees within the last six years.

The population of the area of the Darfur region which the Persecution Project serves has grown from less than 100 people to 90,000 during the same period.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, responding to an arrest warrant issued for him by the International Criminal Court at The Hague, recently expelled more than a dozen foreign aid organizations already in the Sudan.

Verástegui said it was “a privilege’ to be part of the trip with Persecution Project Foundation. He also praised the foundation’s president, Brad Phillips, saying his work “should serve as an inspiration to all concerned with the plight of human rights.”

The movie star’s organization Manto de Guadalupe is dedicated to providing housing for the impoverished in developing countries.

Jason S. Jones, president of HERO and co-executive producer of Bella, praised the “invaluable work” of the Persecution Project and described his experience on the trip as “humbling.”

“HERO is committed to promoting the dignity of the human person at all stages, from the child in womb to the child in Darfur. From the embryo to the elderly, we must be consistent in our stand to honor the intrinsic worth of every person,” he said.

Jones arranged for HERO to purchase a healthy cow to provide milk for an orphanage and school supported by the Persecution Project.

Verástegui called for prayers and charitable work, saying “We must all remember to keep the plight of these precious people in our prayers. But it is equally important to remember the scriptural warning that 'faith without works is dead,' and therefore we must also back our prayers with whatever actions we can rally.”

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Holy See proposes alternative to new U.S. population policy

New York City, N.Y., Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivered a strongly worded speech yesterday, sharply criticizing the  “population reduction” mentality defended by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a Planned Parenthood gala last Friday.

The Papal Nuncio began his opening remarks—a time usually reserved for non-polemical issues—by denouncing the anti-life attitude he saw in the preparatory documents for the U.N. summit for the International Conference on Population and Development (known as Cairo +15).

“In reading the preparatory documents for this session of the Commission one cannot help but get the impression that populations are seen as the hindrance to greater social and economic development rather than vital contributors to the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and greater sustainable development,” Archbishop Migliore said.

The Permanent Observer of the Holy See slammed “the preparatory statements by some NGOs,” which “give the impression that the very institution which launched the MDGs fifteen years ago is giving priority to population control and getting the poor to accept these arrangements rather than primarily focusing upon its commitments to addressing education, basic health care, access to water, sanitation and employment.”

Migliore recalled that 15 years ago “many demographic experts and politicians” were forecasting an apocalyptic vision of a  “population explosion.”

Nevertheless, “now, fifteen years later, the population growth has begun to slow, food production continues to rise to the point where it is capable of supporting a larger global population and is even being diverted to the production of fuel.”

The Apostolic Nuncio found “almost ironic” the fact that “environmental destruction is perpetrated primarily by States with lower growth rates and that developed countries are supporting population growth at home while simultaneously working to reduce it in developing countries.”

According to Migliore, experts agree that the increased birth rates in Africa represent “an unprecedented advantage in economic terms over regions whose ageing populations show growing economic challenges.”

But, “to capitalize on this opportunity, for Africa and ultimately for the whole world, greater commitment must be made to provide economic assistance and investment in human capital and infrastructure to support economic growth.”

Directly opposing the recently renewed U.S. commitment to population control, Archbishop Migliore said that “additional funding programs which focus upon lowering population growth rather than fostering an environment for development will slow, not expedite, the achievement of the MDGs.”

“Through its continued presence and emphasis on providing quality and affordable education, health care, access to food and respect for all human rights, the Holy See and its various organizations show that care for the poor, along with overall poverty reduction, serves as a model for a human centered approach to development,” the Archbishop said.

“My delegation reaffirms its reservations made at the Cairo and Beijing Conferences as well as its consistent affirmation that abortion is not a legitimate form of sexual and reproductive health, rights or services,” he stressed.

“Likewise, it hopes that international organizations and policymakers maintain or, where necessary, redirect public efforts towards the human centered approach to achieving the MDGs,” Migliore concluded.

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Guest column launched on CNA to discuss a variety of topics

Denver, Colo., Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - CNA’s newest addition to the site, a new column titled “Guest Columnist” plans to draw from a variety of columnists on a wide range of issues pertaining to Catholics today, such as life issues, the family, Church teachings, current events and politics.

The first contributor, Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), uses his column to analyze the controversial tactics of Randall Terry in the pro-life and Catholic arenas. 

On Friday, look for our second columnist, Rachel Campos-Duffy, a television host, pundit and mother of five, whose column will focus on the new face of the pro-life movement, a 20-year old named Lila Rose.

You can find “Guest Columnist” by scrolling to the bottom of the page and looking under “Columns.”

You can also follow this link:

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Judge manipulates statements by Father Lombardi to push for abortion in Nicaragua

Managua, Nicaragua, Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - The vice president of the Supreme Court of Nicaragua, Justice Rafael Solis, said this week a draft ruling exists to decriminalize abortion in the country, and to the surprise of many, he argued that the ruling would be based on one of Pope Benedict XVI’s discourses in Angola.

The ruling is related to a lawsuit filed by some feminist groups challenging the constitutionality of a law passed in October of 2006 that outlawed therapeutic abortion. Solis told a local news program that the draft ruling would legalize “therapeutic abortion” in Nicaragua. “We need to see if in cases of illness women are given the priority to save their lives, which is what the Pope said last week in Africa,” he said.

However, Pope Benedict XVI did not speak about this kind of abortion in Africa, and apparently Solis was attributing to the Pope statements made by the director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi.

On Saturday, March 21, in Angola, Father Lombardi explained the Pope’s condemnation of abortion saying, “Benedict XVI has not said that indirect abortion should be rejected, he has only spoken out against the programs of reproductive health that defend abortion as a means of population control.” Lombardi’s statements were distorted by part of the media which reported that the Church had changed its position on therapeutic abortion.

CNA spoke with Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren, president of the Committee on Life and the Family of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference, who explained that indirect abortion is not the same as therapeutic abortion.

Archbishop Eguren said, “During his trip to Africa, the Pope neither changed nor broadened the teaching of the Church on abortion. Father Federico Lombardi—not the Pope—said the Church does not condemn indirect abortion. This kind of abortion is when the death of the unborn child is a result of a medical action that has a completely distinct objective from that of preventing birth. This moral case, which is completely extraordinary, has nothing to do with so-called ‘therapeutic abortion,’ which for both common sense and Catholic doctrine simply does not exist: abortion is never a cure for anything.”

“Today,” the archbishop continued, “there is practically no medical situation which requires choosing between the health of the mother and the health of the baby, and therefore, this kind of abortion is nothing more than an excuse to legalize in our countries this intrinsically perverse act that is always morally and medically unjustifiable.”

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Congressman Smith: Mrs. Clinton, choose either Our Lady of Guadalupe or Margaret Sanger

Washington D.C., Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - In an impassionate address to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ,) argued that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the speech delivered immediately after, in Houston, Texas, during Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award  were completely  inexcusable.


Smith said that Clinton’s visit to the Catholic Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, where she presented a bouquet of flowers on behalf of the American people, was “a very nice gesture.”


But the gesture was at odds with her speech while receiving the Margaret Sanger Award.


“In her remarks, Secretary Clinton said she was ‘in awe’ --I repeat, ‘in awe’-- of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.”


“To our distinguished Secretary of State, I respectfully ask: Are you kidding? In ‘awe’ of Margaret Sanger, who said in 1921, ‘Eugenics…is the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political, and social problems’ and who also said in 1922, ‘The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it’?” asked Congressman Smith.


He went on to say that Secretary Clinton in her speech said that Margaret Sanger's “life and leadership” was “one of the most transformational in the entire history of the human race.”


“Mr. Speaker, transformational, yes. But not for the better if one happens to be poor, disenfranchised, weak, a person of color, vulnerable, or among the many so-called undesirables who Sanger would exclude and exterminate from the human race.”


According to the New Jersey Representative, “the juxtaposition of last week's two very public events in Mexico City and in Houston bring into sharp focus two huge and irreconcilable world views.”


“On the one hand, the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe has for five centuries brought a message of hope, faith, peace, reconciliation and protection for the weakest, most vulnerable among us. On the other hand, each year, Margaret Sanger's Planned Parenthood kills approximately 300,000 unborn baby girls and boys in their abortion clinics scattered throughout the United States,” he added.


After briefly narrating the story of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Smith continued: “last Thursday, Hillary Clinton visited the shrine. On Friday, she paid homage to Planned Parenthood and to Margaret Sanger.  Margaret Sanger is the founder of Planned Parenthood. She was a self-described pro-abortionist eugenist and a racist who considered charity care for impoverished, disenfranchised women, including women of color, especially pregnant women, to be ‘cruel’.”


Smith extensively quoted little known, terrifying passages of Sanger’s writings, loaded with racism and contempt for the poor. 


“The most serious charge that can be brought against modern benevolence is that it encourages, and I say this again, the perpetuation of defectives, delinquents, and dependents,” was one of Sanger’s statement quoted by the NJ representative.


“Which begs the question, Mr. Speaker. Is our Secretary of State unaware of Margaret Sanger’s inhumane beliefs? Was she not briefed on Margaret Sanger’s cruel and reckless disregard for poor, pregnant women? Respectfully, Secretary Clinton should at a minimum return the Sanger award.”


“More importantly,” continued Smith “Congress and the White House must at long last take a long, hard, second look at the multimillion, almost billion, dollar corporation called Planned Parenthood – Child Abuse Incorporated.”


“There is nothing whatsoever compassionate, benevolent, ennobling, benign, or empowering about abortion. It is a violation of a child's fundamental human rights.”


“I strongly urge my colleagues to take that second look at Planned Parenthood. It is time to respect the value and the dignity of all human life,” he concluded.

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Vatican says arrest of Chinese bishop creates obstacles to dialogue

Vatican City, Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) -

As a meeting on the Church in China drew to a close yesterday, news reached participants that Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, 74, was re-arrested. The Vatican has reacted by saying the move creates "obstacles to that constructive dialogue" that the Church has been trying to establish with government authorities.

The meeting lasted from March 30 to April 1 and addressed the need for better formation of clergy and consecrated people, drawing upon Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 Letter to Chinese Catholics.

The commission, which includes representatives of the Chinese episcopate and of religious congregations, also expressed how their work in this area is hampered by the "complex problems of the current ecclesial situation in China, problems deriving not just from internal difficulties of the Church, but also from the uneasy relations with the civil authorities."

This discussion quickly brought the news of the re-arrest of Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding on Monday to the fore, an action that the commission "greeted with profound anguish."

"Situations of this kind create obstacles to that constructive dialogue with the competent authorities which, as is known, the Holy Father in his above-mentioned Letter expressed the hope might be pursued," the Vatican commissioners said.

"This is not, unfortunately, an isolated case," they noted. "Other ecclesiastics are also deprived of their freedom and subject to undue pressures and limitations in their pastoral activities."

"To all of them the participants wish to send assurances of fraternal closeness and constant prayers in this time of Lent, illuminated by the Paschal Mystery," said a statement from the Vatican.

The meeting concluded with an audience with the Holy Father, who underlined the importance of helping Catholics in China to tell others of the beauty and reasonableness of Christian faith, and to present it as the proposal offering the best answers from an intellectual and existential standpoint.

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Follow John Paul II’s example and stand for truth of Christ, Pope tells youth

Vatican City, Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - During the solemn Mass celebrated for the 4th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s death, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged young people to follow the example of his predecessor, who did not accept any compromise when the Truth was at stake.

“We are gathered this evening by his memory, which remains alive in the hearts of the people, as shown by the uninterrupted pilgrimage of faithful to his tomb at the Vatican catacombs, Pope Benedict said.

Addressing the Roman youth present at the Basilica to celebrate the Diocesan World Youth Day, the Pope said, “your presence brings to mind the enthusiasm that John Paul II was able to infuse in the new generations. His memory is a stimulus for us all… to allow us to be enlightened and challenged by God’s word.”

Commenting on today's Gospel, the Holy Father told the youth that “it is indeed difficult to give witness of Christ. And our thoughts go to the beloved Servant of God Karol Wojtyła – John Paul II, who since his youth was an ardent and intrepid defender of Christ. For Him, he did not hesitate to spend all his energy to transmit the light all around; [he] did not accept any compromise about proclaiming and defending His Truth; he has never tired of transmitting His love.”

Commenting on the first reading –God’s promise to Abraham—Pope Benedict said that John Paul was granted Abraham’s spiritual fruitfulness.

“We could say that especially during the years of his long pontificate, he generated the faith of many children.” 

“You are the visible sign, dear youth present here this evening. You, youth from Rome, and you, youth arrived from Sydney and Madrid, you represent the large number of boys and girls who have participated at the 23 World Youth Days, in different places around the world.”

“How many vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, how many young families who decided to live the Gospel’s ideal and move toward holiness are associated with the testimony and preaching of my venerable predecessor!”

“How many boy and girls have converted, or have persevered in their Christian way thanks to his prayer, his encouragement, his support and his example!” the Pope exclaimed.

Pope Benedict also described  John Paul II as “an affectionate father and attentive educator,” who “pointed out ... the solid reference points indispensable for everyone, especially for the youth.”

John Paul, the Pontiff said, “underlined several times the need for radically adhering to the Gospel … and I have wanted to take on this desire of his.”

“In the age of growth, the youth are in need of adults capable of proposing their principles and values; are in need of persons capable of teaching with their lives, even before [they teach] with their words, to spend themselves for high ideals.”

“Dear young people, we cannot live without having hope. Experience shows that everything, even our own life is at risk, and can collapse for any reason internal or external to us, at any time. This is normal: everything that is human, and therefore even hope, has no foundation in itself, but needs a ‘rock’ to be anchored to.”

Pope Benedict warned that “in moments like this one,  given the cultural and social context  in which we live, the risk of  reducing Christian hope to an ideology, a group slogan, an external decoration, could become stronger.” 

“Nothing is more opposed to Christ's message!” he alerted the youth.

Jesus wants his disciples “to ‘be’ hope, and we can be so only by remaining united to Him.”

“This is the torch that Pope John Paul has left us as an inheritance. He has given it to me, as his successor; and I, this evening, give it, one more time, to you, young people of Rome.”

“In particular, during the Year of the Priesthood, which will begin on June 19, be open, if Jesus calls you, to follow him in the way of the priesthood or the consecrated life,” the Pope said.

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Vatican official says beatification cause of John Paul II moving forward

Rome, Italy, Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - In an interview with Vatican Radio, the prefect for the Congregation of the Causes of the Saints, Archbishop Angelo Amato, revealed some details about the beatification cause of the Servant of God, John Paul II, who died four years ago on April 2.

The archbishop said that John Paul II’s cause accelerated rapidly with the decision by Pope Benedict XVI on May 9, 2005, to waive the five-year waiting period normally required before opening a cause.

Asked if this would mean that the late Pontiff would soon be beatified, Archbishop Amato said, “Because this is the cause of a Pope so well known and beloved, it’s being expedited demands great precision in terms of methods and content, with respect for the established procedures. Expedited does not mean hurriedness or superficiality, but the contrary, it implies diligence and professionalism.”

“As you all know,” the archbishop continued, “the diocesan process concluded happily in May of 2007. The positio was delivered to the Congregation for the Saints at the end of November, 2008, for an initial review by theologians. Once it passes this review—and we cannot predict how long that will take—the cause will fall to the judgment of the Ordinary Session of Cardinals and Bishops, in order to finally be decided by the Holy Father for the decree of Venerability.”

Likewise, he continued, “the alleged miracle is submitted to a strict procedure which comes before the next step: the opinion of two medical experts, the collegial examination by the medical team, the examination by theologians and the Ordinal Session of the Cardinals and Bishops. The results are delivered to the Holy Father for his final decision. Once this procedure is concluded—which I repeat, out of respect for the importance of the Servant of God, should be done with particular precision—an eventual date for the beatification can be considered.”

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Spanish expert uncovers connection between Socialist leader and Planned Parenthood

Madrid, Spain, Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - Spanish expert David del Fresno has published a report on the career of Leire Pajin, Secretary of Organization of the Socialist Party, exposing her connections with the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which explains Pajin’s vocal support of legal abortion in Spain.

In his article, Fresno reviews Pajin’s career as a sociologist who has worked for the Socialist party since she was 21. In the year 2000, at the age of 24, she burst onto the national political scene as a representative from Alicante.

It was then she met Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who was then a representative from Leon and invited her to join a group of lawmakers that would later take control of the Socialist party. After their victory in the 2004 elections, Pajin announced the party was determined to "fulfill its campaign promise" and make homosexual unions equal to marriage.

In recent years she has worked in the Spanish state department, where she was in charge of an eight billion dollar budget. Last July she was named secretary of organization for the Socialist party.

According to Fresno, the relationship between Pajin and Planned Parenthood began in 2001 when she was invited by the organization to India. Such invitations are commonly made to lawmakers and members of the media to secure their support for sexual and reproductive health programs carried out by Planned Parenthood in underdeveloped countries.

In March of 2001 Pajin signed a declaration opposing President Bush’s decision to reinstate the Mexico City policy, prohibiting U.S. federal funds from being used to promote abortion overseas.

Fresno explained that Planned Parenthood has special interest in Spain, given the country’s cultural, political and economic influence in Latin America, where the organization hopes Spain’s influence can help bring down laws that restrict abortion.

In recent years Pajin has led the drive to direct millions of dollars to promote abortion and the homosexual agenda in Spain.

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Five thousand Spanish youth to receive WYD Cross in Rome

Madrid, Spain, Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - A red sea of five thousand Spanish youth will be in Rome April 3-6 to receive the World Youth Day Cross from their Australian peers, which will be taken to Spain for WYD 2011 in Madrid.

The Spanish daily La Razon reported that the Spanish youth will "participate in Palm Sunday Mass with Pope Benedict XVI, at the end of which the Australian youth will hand the cross over to the Spaniards, together with the icon of the Virgin."

"On April 6 in the morning, the young people will have an audience at 9 a.m. with Benedict XVI, who will speak words of encouragement to them and send them off to Madrid to be witnesses of the Crucified One."

Likewise, the Pontifical Council for the Laity announced in a statement it will be organizing a meeting with youth ministry leaders from around the world April 3-5 to prepare for the next WYD in Madrid.

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Archbishop Beltran: 'Notre Dame has certainly turned against the Catholic Church'

Oklahoma City, Okla., Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran of Oklahoma City has sent a letter to University of Notre Dame President John Jenkins in which he says that “Notre Dame University has certainly turned against the Catholic Church,” and that he is “appalled, disappointed, and scandalized” by the school's honoring of President Obama.

Beltran’s letter joins a chorus of people expressing their disagreement with the invitation and honoring of a president at odds with the Catholic Church's teachings.

The letter from Archbishop Beltran is as follows:

Reverend John I. Jenkins, CSC, President
University of Notre Dame
300 Main Building
South Bend, Indiana 46556

Dear Father Jenkins:

I am appalled, disappointed and scandalized! Notre Dame University has certainly turned against the Catholic Church. I believe you have a moral responsibility to withdraw the invitation to President Barack Obama to be your commencement speaker in May. I also ask that you refrain from giving him any award whatsoever.

President Obama has publicly and ruthlessly affronted the Catholic Church of America during the short time of his presidency. His single-handed actions have totally reversed decades of successes of the Church in the prolife cause. Needless to say, he deserves no honor or recognition from Notre Dame or any other Catholic institution.

Please have the courage to take this extraordinary stand in view of the extraordinary scandal you have generated.

May Our Lord and Savior and Giver of Life bless you during this penitential season of Lent.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Eusebius J. Beltran

Archbishop of Oklahoma City

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New president of Cuban bishops’ conference urges faithful not to fear change

Havana, Cuba, Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) -

In an interview with the magazine Palabra Nueva, Archbishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez, the new president of the Bishops’ Conference of Cuba, called on all Cubans not to fear change, but noted that the will of the Church to "serve and be here together with the people" will remain unchanged.

Archbishop Garcia also spoke with reporter Orlando Marquez about the challenges that the Church is facing in Cuba and her expectations for change in the government of Raul Castro.

"The first change is that we are talking about the word ‘change,’ because three years ago we didn’t speak about this. But we should not be afraid of the word ‘change,’ since life itself is a manifestation of change. The important thing" he explained is that the changes are made to improve the lives of those living on our society.

According to the archbishop, "That is the reason for our expectations and our desire that the necessary changes take place to solve many of the difficulties we are experiencing, and at the same time to know how to maintain what should be maintained for the well-being of our people."

"This is the attitude that the Church has sought to maintain in Cuba in recent times and it is the one she will maintain for years to come," the archbishop stated.

Archbishop Garcia went on to say that the Church wants to offer a word of faith and hope from the Gospel, keeping in mind the human person as the main subject that must cared for both by the State and by all of society. The Church desires to continue speaking in this sense."

Regarding the signs of a possible improvement in relations between Cuba and the United States, Archbishop Garcia said, "It falls on the politicians to decide what happens so that it is…the citizens of both sides who will benefit. And we all win when there is peace, when there is stability, when there is justice, solidarity and respect for the dignity of the person."

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Catholics must announce and witness to the Gospel, instructs Holy Father

Vatican City, Apr 2, 2009 (CNA) - The Holy Father spoke today of the importance of evangelization through the witness of one’s life and by sharing the Gospel message as he spoke to a second group of Argentinean bishops at the Vatican.

Benedict XVI told the bishops that in order to evangelize, they must bear witness “in a simple and direct way, to God revealed by Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit,” and also share the Gospel message that Christ is the Savior of the world.

“This clear and explicit announcement of Christ as man's Savior is part of the exhilarating search for truth, beauty and goodness which characterizes human beings." For this reason "announcement and witness of the Gospel are the primary service Christians can give to individuals and the entire human race," the Pontiff explained.

"All evangelizing activity springs from a threefold love: for the Word of God, for the Church and for the world. ... Through Sacred Scripture Christ makes Himself known to us in His person, His life and His doctrine." Hence, said Benedict, bishops must "facilitate the access of all faithful to Sacred Scripture so that, placing the Word of God at the center of their lives, they may welcome Christ as Redeemer and His light may illuminate all areas of human existence."

Since the Scriptures cannot be understood separate from or outside the Church, he continued, it is essential to encourage a “spirit of communion and faithfulness to the Magisterium, especially among those whose mission it is to transmit the Gospel message in its entirety.”

Sharing the Gospel involves the whole Church, “including the lay faithful who receive that mission through Baptism and Confirmation," said the Holy Father as he wrapped up his address.  He encouraged the bishops "to ensure that lay people become increasingly aware of their vocation as living members of the Church and true disciples and missionaries of Christ in all things."

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