Archive of April 21, 2009

Prelates join Archbishop Sheen foundation as beatification cause continues

Peoria, Ill., Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation has announced that twelve archbishops and bishops have joined its Episcopal Board of Advisors for the cause for Archbishop Sheen’s beatification. The foundation told CNA on Monday that the famous archbishop's cause is progressing "quite well."

The new members include Cardinal William Baum, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C; Cardinal Edward Egan, Archbishop Emeritus of New York City; Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles; Cardinal Adam Maida, Archbishop Emeritus of Detroit; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C.; Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston; and Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia.

Other new members include Bishop of Rockford, Illinois Thomas G. Doran; Bishop of Springfield, Illinois George J. Lucas; Bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida Robert N. Lynch; Bishop of Joliet, Illinois J. Peter Sartain; and Bishop of Paterson, New Jersey Arthur J. Serratelli.

The Archbishop Sheen Foundation also announced that its executive director, Fr. Stanley Deptula, received from the Holy See the title of Chaplain to His Holiness.

“Monsignor Deptula is a dedicated servant to the Church and is deserving of such an honor,” the foundation said.

Writing on his blog, Cardinal O’Malley said he was very honored to become an advisor.

“It was my privilege to have known Archbishop Sheen. When I was a child he would visit our parish regularly and I would often serve Mass for him,” he wrote. “[W]hen Archbishop Sheen was at the parish during the week, the church would be standing room only.”

Cardinal O’Malley said Archbishop Sheen was “a huge personality and a very important figure” in U.S. history.

“No one did as much to break down prejudice against the Catholic Church as Fulton Sheen,” the cardinal added. “I always say that John F. Kennedy could never have been elected president of the United States had it not been for the television program and radio programs of Archbishop Sheen.”

Saying Archbishop Sheen made “thousands of converts,” Cardinal O’Malley called him “a very holy priest” and said it would be “wonderful” to see him elevated to the altars.

Bill Engelbrecht, a member of the Archbishop Sheen Foundation’s board of directors, in a Monday phone interview told CNA the archbishop’s cause for beatification is “on track” and going “quite well.”

The Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation’s web site is located at

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Southern Catholic College could become Legion institution

Atlanta, Ga., Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - The Legion of Christ and Southern Catholic College (SCC) have signed a memorandum that opens the possibility for the college to become a Legion institution.

“We are excited about this development,” Jeremiah J. Ashcroft, president of SCC, said in a Monday statement. “By collaborating with the Legion, we’ll be able to attract students from across North America and develop programs with institutions around the world. This expanded reach and support greatly enhances our ability to achieve our mission to prepare moral and ethical leaders who will enlighten society and glorify God.”

Father Scott Reilly, LC, territorial director for the Legion, said the Legion can accelerate its desire to offer a “greater contribution” to higher education in North America by working with SCC. However, the agreement is “not a done deal yet.”

“Southern Catholic is a great college and there would be considerable sharing of best practices with our existing institutions,” Fr. Reilly said. “I expect that SCC will experience significant growth in student population in the years ahead, with added growth coming from Legion-affiliated secondary schools in North America.”

SCC was founded in 2000 as a co-educational liberal arts college. It is Georgia’s first and only residential Catholic college. It has more than 200 students on its campus in Dawsonville, Georgia.

The Legion of Christ, a religious congregation of Pontifical right, was founded in 1941. It operates in 22 countries and has 800 priests and more than 2,600 seminarians. It operates 15 universities, 50 institutes of higher education, and 176 schools.

In January it was revealed that the founder of the Legion, Fr. Marcel Maciel,  had fathered a child with a mistress 22 years ago, and that the Legion had been financially supporting them since.

In March Pope Benedict XVI ordered an Apostolic Visitation of Legion of Christ institutions. The visitation was to begin after Easter.

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U.S. ordination class of 2009 trending younger

Washington D.C., Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - Priests to be ordained in 2009 tend to be younger than those of recent years and come from a variety of different backgrounds, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reports.

Several dioceses will ordain large numbers of men this year. The Archdiocese of Newark will ordain 13 men for either the archdiocese or for the Neo-Catechumenal way. The Chicago Archdiocese will ordain ten men, while the Washington Archdiocese will ordain eight.

The Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee will ordain six men. Cincinnati, which has averaged five ordinations a year since 2000, will ordain seven in 2009.

The Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon will ordain seven, its largest class since the early seventies.

The median age of 2009 ordinands is 33, younger than in recent years. Allen Offa, one of three to be ordained for the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, is 25. Two of the five men to be ordained for the Archdiocese of Detroit are 26, while the oldest is 36.

There are several converts among the 2009 ordination class. Benjamin Roberts, of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, considered ordination in the Lutheran Church but converted to Catholicism in 1999. The Washington Archdiocese’s Daniel Gallaugher was raised as an Evangelical Protestant. Two ordinands from the Archdiocese of Detroit were Baptists.

Daniel Maxwell, an ordinand from the Diocese of Baker, Oregon who entered the Catholic Church at 17, is from a family who hasn’t had a Catholic blood relative for 200 years.

Some ordinands come from notably large families. Jacob Runyon, from Fort Wayne-South Bend, is oldest of 11. Matthew Mason of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire is the oldest of seven. The Philippines-born Giopre Pardo of Oakland is one of seven brothers, one of whom is a priest and seminary spiritual director in the Philippines.

Several other ordinands were foreign-born, the USCCB reports.

Justin Minh Nguyen of the Diocese of Austin was a skilled tailor and a refugee from Vietnam. He is one of five to be ordained for the diocese. Quy Vo, a refugee from the Philippines, is being ordained for the Diocese of Albany.

Joel Bugas, a 43-year-old to be ordained or the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, was a three-term mayor in his home town in the Philippines.

The foreign-born Fernando Jimenez will be the first Hispanic to be ordained for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, while Peruvian native Pablo Migone will be ordained for the Diocese of Savannah.

Pawel Sass, a native of Poland, will be ordained for the Archdiocese of Washington. Budi Wardhana, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, will be the third native Indonesian-born priest ordained to serve in the United States.

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Pope to declare five new saints next Sunday

Vatican City, Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) -

This coming Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square and give the Church five new saints.

At the 10 a.m. Mass, four Italians and one Portuguese religious brother will be canonized by the Holy Father.

The Italians are: Arcangelo Tadini (1846-1912), Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of Worker Sisters of the Holy House of Nazareth; Bernardo Tolomei (1272-1348), Italian founder of the Olivetan Benedictine Congregation; Gertrude Comensoli (1847-1903), Italian virgin and foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament; and Caterina Volpicelli (1839-1894), Italian virgin and foundress of the Institute of Handmaidens of the Sacred Heart.

The list of those to be canonized is rounded out by Nuno de Santa Maria Alvares Pereira (1360-1431), a Portuguese religious of the Order of Friars of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.

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Saginaw bishop appointed to lead Archdiocese of Saint Louis

St. Louis, Mo., Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - This morning the Holy Father named Bishop Robert James Carlson of Saginaw, Michigan to be the ninth archbishop of Saint Louis.  Bishop Carlson will fill the spot left vacant in June 2008, when Archbishop Raymond Burke was appointed to head the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court.

Over the past several months, the archdiocese has been under the administration of Bishop Robert J. Hermann who, in a press release, called Archbishop-elect Carlson “a very energetic, articulate, warm and gifted pastor and administrator. He thinks and works with the Church he loves, and will continue to build upon the legacy of his predecessors here in St. Louis.”

Bishop Hermann also praised Bishop Carlson’s successes in Saginaw saying, “he has raised the number of seminarians from two to eighteen! He has published six pastoral letters, and has created the Saginaw Area Catholic Schools system. He is very dedicated to Life issues. I am most deeply impressed with his energy and zeal for evangelization. I eagerly look forward to working with and for him.”

Archbishop-elect Carlson was born in Minneapolis in 1944.  He was ordained a priest in 1970 for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and in 1983 was consecrated as an auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese.  In his 25 years of episcopal service he also served in the Diocese of Sioux Falls, where he was first appointed as the coadjutor bishop, later becoming the bishop.  On December 29, 2004, Bishop Carlson was appointed the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Saginaw.

In a statement today, he spoke to the faithful of Saginaw, saying,  “I am grateful for having had the opportunity to worship, pray, and serve with the dedicated priests, religious, deacons, and lay faithful of the Diocese of Saginaw during the past four years.”

“I have been privileged to call mid-Michigan home and blessed to have been a part of this dynamic and generous local church.”

Bishop Carlson’s installation ceremony in Saint Louis has not yet been set. 

As archbishop, Bishop Carlson will serve 566,000 Catholics and 737 priests.

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Pope sends Diocese of Syracuse a New York native bishop

Syracuse, N.Y., Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - The Diocese of Syracuse in New York received the news this morning that it has a new shepherd—Bishop Robert J. Cunningham. The Buffalo-born bishop will move from the Diocese of Ogdensburg in upstate New York to serve the faithful in his new diocese.

Pope Benedict's appointment of Bishop Cunningham to lead the Diocese of Syracuse comes almost two years after Bishop James Moynihan submitted his resignation upon reaching the age of 75. Until Bishop Cunningham is installed on May 26 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, Bishop Moynihan will continue to oversee the diocese.

Bishop Cunningham was born in Buffalo, New York to Cecil and Grace Cunningham on June 18, 1943.

He attended college and seminary at St. John Vianney Seminary, East Aurora, where he earned both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Divinity degrees. In 1978 he received a Licentiate Degree in Canon Law from the Catholic University of America.

Bishop Cunningham was ordained to the priesthood by Auxiliary Bishop Bernard J. McLaughlin on May 24, 1969 at St. Joseph New Cathedral in Buffalo. His first assignment was associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Kenmore. In 1972 he became the assistant pastor at his home parish of St. John the Baptist, Kenmore.

Bishop Cunningham held numerous positions of leadership within the Diocese of Buffalo, including serving as a marriage tribunal judge, the chancellor and the vicar general. His faithful service earned him the title of Monsignor from Pope John Paul II in 1984.

On March 9, 2004 John Paul II appointed Msgr. Robert J. Cunningham as the 13th Bishop of Ogdensburg. Bishop Cunningham was ordained and installed as the Bishop of Ogdensburg on May 18, 2004 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg.

Speaking at a press conference this morning in Syracuse, Bishop Cunningham emphasized that he comes to his new flock primarily as a "shepherd of souls."

"Sent by Pope Benedict XVI, I come to teach and preach the Word of God; to love you with wholehearted affection and to serve your needs especially as a minister of the Eucharist and reconciliation."

The bishop-designate added that he hopes to be "a source of unity for the diocese."

As the Bishop of Syracuse, he will lead over 250,000 Catholics in a seven-county area that covers 5,479 square miles.

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Vatican calls Iranian president's Israel comments 'extremist'

Vatican City, Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) -

The Vatican's spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, reacted to the remarks made by the President of Iran at the conference on the Durban Declaration on racism, by deploring the fact that the president used the forum to adopt “political positions, of an extremist and offensive nature.”

Iranian President Mahmoud  Ahmadinejad was the first government official to take the floor at yesterday's Review Conference of the Durban Declaration of 2001 against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

In his remarks, Ahmadinejad called Israel the "most cruel and repressive racist regime" and that the U.S. and Europe helped establish Israel at the expense of Palestinians after World War II.

"They resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering," he said at the Geneva conference, according to the Associated Press. He also appealed for unity in the fight against racism.

The Iranian president's comments caused numerous Western diplomats to leave the conference room.

Fr. Lombardi recalled Pope Benedict XVI's words from last Sunday, when he said, “I express heartfelt prayers that the delegates present at the Geneva Conference will work together, in a spirit of dialogue and mutual acceptance, so as to put an end to every form of racism, discrimination and intolerance, thereby marking a fundamental step towards the affirmation of the universal value of human dignity and human rights, within a framework of respect and justice for every person and every people.”

The Vatican spokesman added that the “Holy See deplores the use of this United Nations forum for the adoption of political positions, of an extremist and offensive nature, against any State. This does not contribute to dialogue and it provokes an unacceptable atmosphere of conflict.”

“What is needed,” Lombardi said, “is to make good use of this important opportunity to engage in dialogue together, according to the line of action that the Holy See has always adopted, with a view to effectively combating the racism and intolerance that still today affect children, women, those of African descent, migrants, indigenous peoples, etc., in every part of the world.”

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Pontifical Biblical Commission meets to study new document on Bible and morality

Rome, Italy, Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - The Pontifical Biblical Commission is holding its annual Plenary Assembly April 20-24 at the Domus Sanctae Marthae at the Vatican on the theme of “Inspiration and Truth in the Bible.” The Assembly will also review a new document by the Commission entitled, “Bible and Morality: Biblical Roots of Christian Behavior.”
The document, which was published in 2008 in Italian and English, is being translated into French, German and other languages.
Father Klemens Stock, pro-secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, said the document begins with the listing of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes, “as characteristic expressions of biblical morality in the Old and New Testaments.”
The document “is made up of two parts,” he continued.  “The first part’s title is ‘A Revealed Morality: Divine Gift and Human Response,’ while the second part is entitled, ‘Biblical Criteria for Moral Reflection.’  The first part deals with certain principles of biblical morality, while the second lays out certain principles based on the Bible that can help in the search for solutions to the moral problems of the day, which were unknown in Biblical times.”
The document addresses three points about revelation that are fundamental for Christian behavior.

“First of all it is the gift of God, which should always be appropriately welcomed by the human person, and as a consequence, in the Bible one can find guidance for knowing what the just manner of behaving is.”

Secondly, he continued, “the kindness of God is made manifest not only in the gift but also in forgiveness.”

“And finally, the scope of human behavior is not restricted to the earthly life, but is open to eternal communion of life with God.”

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Benedict XVI to entrust WYD cross to the youth

Vatican City, Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - At tomorrow’s weekly general audience, Pope Benedict XVI will recall the 25th anniversary of the handing over of the World Youth Day cross by John Paul II to the young people of the world.  In commemoration, the Holy Father will again entrust the cross to the youth as it travels to Spain to prepare for the next World Youth Day.

During the Holy Year of Redemption (1983-1984), John Paul II ordered a simple wooden cross be erected next to the altar in St. Peter's Basilica. At the close of the Holy Year, exactly 25 years ago, he entrusted that same cross to the youth of the world, saying: "Take this into the world as a sign of the Lord Jesus' love for humankind, and tell everyone that only through Christ, Who died and rose again, comes salvation and redemption."

“The invitation was taken literally by the young people of the San Lorenzo International Youth Centre,” the Vatican said in a press release.   Since then, the cross has traveled across the globe, visiting every WYD country and also “carrying a sign of hope also to other places such as the continent of Africa, where it was welcomed with great devotion by thousands of young people."

Since 2003 the cross has been carried along with the Marian icon “Salus Popli Romani’ “as a sign of Mary’s maternal protection.”

Tomorrow, Pope Benedict will again entrust the cross to the youth of the San Lorenzo Centre, in the presence of Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Vatican dicastery responsible for organizing World Youth Days.

Following the Pope’s general audience, the cross and the icon of Mary will be part of a procession to the San Lorenzo Centre, pausing in St. Peter's Square so those present can venerate them. That afternoon the procession will pass through the historic center of Rome as far as Piazza Navona. The celebration of the anniversary will conclude at 5 p.m. at the San Lorenzo Centre with an hour of adoration, followed by Mass.

The cross, known as the "WYD Cross," will then leave for a brief pilgrimage through Poland before moving on to Spain, where it will be taken through all the dioceses of the country in preparation for the 26th World Youth Day, scheduled to be held in Madrid August 2011.

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Pope honors wisdom of St. Anselm, commemorates 900th anniversary of death

Vatican City, Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - Benedict XVI today sent a message for the 900 year anniversary of the death of St. Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury and doctor of the Church, whose feast day is celebrated today.  In the letter, the Holy Father praised the saint’s wisdom and encouraged all people to draw close to him by studying his teachings on the Church.

"Recalling with a devoted heart the figure of this saint," writes the Pope in his Latin-language message addressed to Fr. Notker Wolf, abbot primate of the Benedictine Confederation, "we wish to exalt and illustrate the treasure of his wisdom so that the people of our time, especially Europeans, may draw close to him and receive his sound and abundant doctrine."

St. Anselm was born in Aosta, Italy, in 1033 and entered the monastery at the age of 27.  Three years later, he was made a prior.

The saint is also known for his extensive writings in all areas of theology. They include: Monologium on the metaphysical proofs of the existence and nature of God; Proslogium, a contemplation of God's attributes; On Truth; On Freewill; On the Fall of the Devil (or On the Origin of Evil); On the Conception of the Virgin; On Original Sin; and a book on the art of reasoning called Grammarian.

In 1093, he was named Archbishop of Canterbury. He refused to accept the title until lands which had been taken from the Church by the king were returned and Urban II was acknowledged as the lawful Pope.

However, his time as bishop was frought with problems, leading him to govern Canterbury from Italy and France, from 1097 to 1109. Still, he continued to write, completing “Why God Was Made Man” and “On the Faith of the Trinity and Incarnation.”

St. Anselm died on April 21, 1109 and was name a Doctor of the Church in 1720.

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Runner-up Miss USA lost crown for 'gay marriage' response

Las Vegas, Nev., Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - Sunday night, Miss North Carolina Kristen Dalton was named Miss USA, but news  coverage of the pageant since then has focused on Miss California and her answer to a judge’s question regarding “same-sex marriage.

The Las Vega pageant, which included women from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, aired Sunday night on NBC.  The contestants were judged in swimsuit and evening gown competitions before being asked a question by one of the judges.

Miss California, Carrie Prejean, was asked a question by the pageant judge Perez Hilton, who is an openly homosexual gossip blogger.  In the final round of the competition, Prejean, from San Diego, was asked by Hilton: “Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?”

To which she answered:  “I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be between a man and a woman."

Reaction to her response has been mixed.  Immediately following her answer, cheers and boos could be heard throughout the audience.

Keith Lewis, one of the state’s directors for the Miss California competition told Fox News that he was “saddened” by Prejean’s response.

"As co-executive director of Miss CA USA and one of the leaders of the Miss CA family, I am personally saddened and hurt that Miss CA USA 2009 believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman," said Lewis in a statement. "Although I believe all religions should be able to ordain what unions they see fit, I do not believe our government should be able to discriminate against anyone. Religious beliefs have no place in politics in the Miss CA family."

Also voicing his disapproval for Prejean’s answer, Hilton spoke with Access Hollywood after the pageant and explained that her answer was the reason she was not named the winner.

“The way Miss California answered her question lost her the crown, without a doubt! Never before that I’m aware of has a contestant been booed at Miss USA.”

However, Prejean told Fox News that she is happy to continue standing by her answer, a statement she repeated when she was interviewed by Billy Bush, who co-hosted the pageant, on Monday morning.

According to Access Hollywood, Prejean told Bush, “It did cost me my crown.  I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I said what I feel. I stated an opinion that was true to myself and that’s all I can do.”

She continued: It is a very touchy subject and he is a homosexual and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would’ve wanted me to be more politically correct. But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything.”

“I feel like I won. I feel like I’m the winner. I really do,” Prejean said.

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Paya calls on governments of Americas not to be silent accomplices of Castro

Havana, Cuba, Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya, called on the governments of the Americas not to be accomplices with the Cuban regime by being silent on human rights abuses. Instead, he said, they should begin an open dialogue that includes the Cuba people.

“No honest man should talk about Cuba or for Cuba before demanding respect for Cubans’ rights and the release of those cruelly imprisoned in our country for peacefully defending human rights,” Paya said in a message for the recent Summit of the Americas.

In his message, the Cuban dissident leader called on the government of the United States to lift the economic embargo, since Cubans “have never asked for, nor do we want, the isolation and exclusion of our country.”

Paya also mentioned those who wish to use the embargo to justify the lack of rights in Cuba.

“Those who justify the lack of rights in Cuba with the existence of such an embargo, or who silence the lack of civil, political and economic rights, do not have the best interests of our people at heart, nor do they respect our interests,” he stated.

With regard to the violation of human rights, Paya criticized the majority of the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean of forgetting the Cuban people by maintaining relations with the Communist government “based on complacency and silence about the gross violation of civil and political rights in Cuba .

“These governments use, for their political interests, a false image of the Cuban reality that has been distorted and replaced by a mask imposed by the culture of fear in our society,” Paya stated.

Paya also denounced “artists, intellectuals and politicians, who with both good and sinister intentions, use our country as a stage to rave about hatred and the utopia of totalitarianism, while presenting themselves as defenders of the poor.”

“The Summit of the Americas should be the start of this new dialogue that would be a new hope for the New World,” Paya said.

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Mexican states continue to preempt efforts to legalize abortion

Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - The Nayarit State Congress in Mexico has passed a reform of the state’s constitution that guarantees the right to life of all human beings from conception to natural death.

The amendment, approved by a vote of 27-3, was supported across party lines. Representative Roberto Contreras Cantabrana of the Party of the Democratic Revolution said, “I support life. I will never support disturbing the development of a new life. The Mexican government and the Health Department work every day to protect healthy pregnancies so they end with a safe delivery.”

Representative Juan Antonio Echegaray of the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico said, “There is no room her to discuss abortion, since this is a reform that recognizes and guarantees the right to life....”

“In order for there to be an abortion, conception must have taken place,” he added, underscoring that the reform of the constitution makes it clear that human life exists from the moment of conception.

National Action Party Representative Jose Manuel Bautista said the reform was in keeping with the federal Constitution and with the international agreements and treaties signed and ratified by Mexico.

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Cardinal Rouco warns that 'crime of abortion casts shadow over history'

Madrid, Spain, Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Madrid and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, said Monday during the opening of the bishops’ 93rd Plenary Assembly that the “crime of abortion casts a shadow over the history of humanity,” in a reference to a measure the government intends to put forth this summer that would change the country’s law on abortion.

The cardinal said the new law “attempts to reduce democracy to an empirical mechanism” through which the approval of laws represents “simply a sort of common denominator of diverse opinions and interests present in society, even when what is in question is the fundamental right to life.”

“Without an objective moral foundation,” he continued, “not even democracy can ensure a stable peace, and the more peace is not founded upon the values human dignity and solidarity between all mankind, it is often an illusory peace.”

Cardinal Rouco said Spain has been immersed in recent decades “in a process of deterioration of moral awareness with respect to the sacred value of human life.”

“Since the 1983 law decriminalizing abortion, the situation has worsened both in practice and in law,” he added.

The cardinal noted that the concern over abortion “has always been at the center of the bishops’ interests during recent decades.”

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Promoters of ‘Angels & Demons’ two-faced about fact and fiction, Bill Donohue says

New York City, N.Y., Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, has accused promoters of the movie “Angels & Demons” of “trying to have it both ways” by first claiming the movie’s “pernicious lies” about Catholics are fiction, but then promoting its premise as based in fact.

He said that the actions echo the tactic used to promote the movie’s predecessor, “The Da Vinci Code.”

Donohue and Ron Howard, director of “Angels & Demons,” exchanged arguments about whether the new movie based upon a Dan Brown book is anti-Catholic.

Claiming that the makers of the movie “do not hide their animus against all things Catholic,” Donohue charged that the movie’s trailer “lies” when it says the Catholic Church ordered a massacre to silence the Illuminati, an occult secret society featured in the movie.

Howard, responding to Donohue in a Tuesday essay at the Huffington Post, wrote “Let me be clear: neither I nor ‘Angels & Demons’ are anti-Catholic.”

He said he believed Catholics would enjoy the movie as an “exciting mystery” set in the “awe-inspiring beauty” of Rome. Howard also said that the accusations of the Illuminati massacre would be a lie “if we had ever suggested our movie is anything other than the work of fiction.”

Howard claimed he and Donohue both like to create “fictional tales,” characterizing a pamphlet by Donohue as a “silly and mean-spirited work of propaganda.”

Howard professed respect for Catholics and their Church and their “many good works.” He also said he believed his movie treats the Church with respect and “even a degree of reverence” for its traditions and beliefs.

Responding to Howard in a Tuesday press release, Donohue said that Dan Brown’s book claims that the Illuminati were factual and were “hunted ruthlessly by the Catholic Church.” Donohue quoted Tom Hanks’ character in the “Angels & Demons” trailer as saying, “The Catholic Church ordered a brutal massacre to silence them forever.”

Donohue also reported that Howard in an interview said “The Illuminati were formed in the 1600s. They were artists and scientists like Galileo and Bernini, whose progressive ideas threatened the Vatican.”

“All of this is a lie,” Donohue remarked. “The Illuminati were founded in 1776 and were dissolved in 1787. It is obvious that Galileo and Bernini could not possibly have been members: Galileo died in 1647 and Bernini passed away in 1680. More important, the Catholic Church never hunted, much less killed, a single member of the Illuminati. But this hasn’t stopped Brown from asserting that ‘It is a historical fact that the Illuminati vowed vengeance against the Vatican in the 1600s.’”

He characterized as “delusional” a statement of Howard which claimed that Vatican officials will like his movie.

CNA spoke with Bill Donohue for further comment in a Tuesday phone interview.

He said Howard’s claim that the Catholic League’s objections were targeting a merely fictional work was “rather astonishing.”

“This is not one of these ‘he said, she said’ things, he’s simply wrong,” Donohue commented, accusing Howard of “making up out of whole cloth the idea that there was this Illuminati in the 17th century, which he has to put in the 1600s so he can drag out Galileo.”

He reiterated that the Illuminati was not formed until the 18th century.

Donohue also accused Brown and Howard of being two-faced in describing their work as fictional but then promoting it as fact-based.

“They can’t have it both ways.” Donohue said, noting that Ron Brown went on “The Today Show” about another of his books, “The Da Vinci Code,” and claimed it was fiction. Soon afterward, Brown claimed it was “based on fact.”

“They try to play both sides of the street,” Donohue told CNA. “Dan Brown is a master of this.”

“If Ron Howard wants to debate me on this, I’ll be glad to go on any television station. I have a feeling he won’t do it,” he added, saying a debate would be better than “to have somebody write something for him on the Huffington Post and then walk away from it.”

Donohue reported that Canadian priest Fr. Bernard O’Connor was on the “Angels & Demons” set in plain clothes and overheard “some of the most vicious anti-Catholic statements, made repeatedly.”

“The agenda is to smear the Catholic Church, which they did in The Da Vinci Code,” Donohue argued.

“What is happening here is that [Howard] is fueling some of the basest appetites and stereotypes,” he told CNA. “‘Amos and Andy’ was just a comedy, but CBS won’t air it on reruns because it’ll offend African-American communities.

"Nobody’s going to say ‘it’s okay.’ People would complain that would feed the worst stereotypes.”

“Every demographic group has their dirty laundry, and they also have the lies and the smears and the myths. People in Hollywood don’t make films based on the lies and smears and myths,” he said, adding that the Catholic League wanted Catholics to be likewise treated with “some degree of tolerance and respect.”

He told CNA the movie advanced “one of the most pernicious lies” against the Catholic Church, namely the claim that it is anti-reason and anti-science.

“The Catholic Church doesn’t have a problem with evolution, it’s more a problem with our Protestant brothers and sisters,” Donohue remarked.

CNA asked Donohue how he responds to the claim that his objections are just giving the movie free publicity.

Donohue argued that it is a false generalization to claim that all objections about bias generate profitable publicity, even though that may happen in some cases.

He pointed to the anti-Christian movie The Golden Compass, saying its sequels have not been made because of its box office failure. Donohue told CNA that Philip Pullman, author of the book on which the movie is based, has said the boycott worked in the United States.

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Senate Finance Committee recommends confirmation of Gov. Sebelius

Washington D.C., Apr 21, 2009 (CNA) - The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday voted to recommend the confirmation of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as the new Health and Human Services Secretary.

The final tally was 11-5, with Republicans Sens. Olympia Snowe of Maine and Pat Roberts of Kansas joining the Democrats.

Before the committee vote, Senate Minority Whip John Kyl (R-Ariz.) declared his opposition. He raised questions about Gov. Sebelius’ ties to the Kansas late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller, who contributed to her campaigns for state office.

Pro-life groups have objected to Sebelius’ nomination because of the contributions. She initially claimed to have received $12,450 from Tiller between 1994 and 2001. On April 14, she reported that she had actually received $39,600.

The Senate Finance Committee’s ranking Republican, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, expressed concerned about the higher revised total, as did Sen. Mike Enzy (R-Wyo.).

During Sebelius’ 2002 run for Kansas governor, Tiller personally provided $200,000 through his political action committee Pro Kan Do to defeat her opponent, a copy of a letter released by Operation Rescue on April 15 said.

According to The Hill, Sebelius’ confirmation would complete President Barack Obama’s cabinet. Her confirmation by the full Senate could be delayed by a “hold” from any Republican senator. It is believed that all 56 Senate Democrats and two independent Senators who caucus with them will vote to confirm.

Sen. Snowe’s vote, added to the votes of Sen. Roberts and Sen. Sam Brownback, both Kansan Republicans who have endorsed Sebelius’ nomination, would provide the 61 votes needed to overcome any attempt at a filibuster.

Sebelius, a self-described Catholic, is also an advocate of abortion “rights,” and has been asked to refrain from receiving Communion by Archbishop Joseph Naumann, the head of her diocese.

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