Archive of April 25, 2009

Hurricane Katrina-damaged statue once again secure atop Biloxi church

Biloxi, Miss., Apr 25, 2009 (CNA) - The statue of St. Michael the Archangel, which was toppled from its perch atop the parish’s day chapel by Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005, was securely reattached to the seashell shaped roof on March 29, despite having been desecrated days earlier by vandals who broke the sword off of the statue.

Several bystanders and a television camera crew stood by to witness the reattachment of the 700-lb statue and, while it may not seem like such a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it’s a huge step milestone for the St. Michael Parish family.

"St. Michael, in the history of spirituality and in the history of the Church, is an archangel. An archangel is a holy messenger. I’m trying to translate that into March 25, 2009," said pastor Father Greg Barras. "Putting St. Michael back on top of the day chapel, I think, speaks profoundly to our faith community as a sign of commitment, a sign of perseverance, a sign of endurance and a sign of restoration, not only for today but for the future."

"Look at the economy now," he continued. "What other types of storms will come – not just Mother Nature – but in living, loving, learning and caring for each other? St. Michael is a messenger of hope and strength and trust and commitment and that’s what the reattachment of the statue means to the St. Michael faith community, that we can get through these lived experiences, centered in God, and find meaning value and purpose."

After discovering that St. Michael, who is commonly portrayed wielding a sword, was no longer wielding one, Father Barras was afraid the event would have to be postponed.

"St. Michael had been sitting out on the front lawn for over three weeks. The sword had already been welded back once after having been broken by Katrina and statue was ready to be placed back atop the roof," Father Greg said.

"At some time during the night of March 23, someone came and broke off the sword. They were very kind though. They left the sword in the grass and we found that piece and, luckily, on Tuesday they were able to weld it back on and were able to follow through with our plan of placing the statue back atop the day chapel.

Father Barras had a word of warning for the culprit or culprits.

"If we catch them, we’re going to cut off their hands. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth – that’s what the Scriptures teach and we always follow the Scriptures," he said jokingly.

But, on a serious note, Father Barras said the reattachment of the statue was the final step of one phase of renovations to the parish.

The "Fisherman's Church," as St. Michael Church is best known, has served the people of Biloxi's Point since it was established as a mission in 1907.

Printed with permission from the Gulf Pine Catholic Newspaper of the Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi.

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New FDA policy could help cover up cases of statutory rape, pro-life group says

Arlington, Va., Apr 25, 2009 (CNA) - Reacting to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcement that it would allow 17-year-olds to purchase the “morning after” birth control pill without a doctor’s prescription or parental knowledge, Students for Life of America has charged that the policy would help cover up cases of rape.

In October 2008, SFLA released a video showing Planned Parenthood clinics in Charlotte and Winston-Salem, North Carolina covering up the putative statutory rape of two young girls.

In the videos, college student volunteers posing as 14- and 15-year-olds told clinic workers they had just had sexual relations with their mother’s live-in-boyfriend and wanted the “morning after” pill.

According to SFLA, the Planned Parenthood workers failed to report the statutory rape as required by North Carolina law. The workers also told the girl that the older man could go into any drug store to purchase the “morning after” pill, which is also known as “Plan B.”

“The FDA ruling this week which expands access of Plan B to minors is just going to allow rapists to continue to cover up their crimes. Parents won't even know that their daughters are being raped,” charged SFLA Executive Director Kristan Hawkins.

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Archbishop Hughes avoids Xavier commencement over pro-abortion speaker

New Orleans, La., Apr 25, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop of New Orleans Alfred Hughes, reiterating his “disappointment” with Xavier University of Louisiana, has said that he will not attend the school’s commencement exercises, saying pro-abortion rights strategist Donna Brazile’s appearance as its spring 2009 commencement speaker contradicts support for those “in their mother’s wombs.”

Archbishop Hughes expressed his objections in an April 22 letter to Dr. Norman C. Francis, President of Xavier University, writing:

“It is with regret that I make the decision not to participate in the Commencement Exercises this year at Xavier University in light of the university’s decision to invite Ms. Donna Brazile to be the Commencement speaker and receive an honorary degree. Ms. Brazile has a public record in support of keeping abortion legal.”

He cited the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) 2004 document “Catholics in Political Life,” which said Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”

Acknowledging that Brazile is a Catholic Louisiana native who has “worked effectively in service to the poor and African Americans in particular,” the archbishop said her public statements on abortion “are not in keeping with Catholic moral teaching.”

In particular, Archbishop Hughes cited her support for President Barack Obama’s reversal of the Mexico City Policy. Brazile has said the policy, which allows federal funds for organizations that promote or provide abortions overseas, would “save lives.”

The archbishop also charged that Brazile has “relativized the importance of the fundamental life issues” on national television by suggesting that there are more important things to discuss.

“She has supported and worked for the election of candidates who support contraceptive practices and abortion on the basis that this stance is pro-woman,” he added.

“The Catholic Church stands in support of all of those who want to serve and plead for the poor and vulnerable in our midst,” Archbishop Hughes explained. “This, however, must include those who are most vulnerable in their mother’s wombs. Moreover, contraceptive practice actually leads men to be less responsible toward women and abortion both harms the mother and kills the child.”

“I have always enjoyed being a part of the Xavier Commencement when I was able to do so,” he said, applauding the school’s “remarkable history” of providing public service and offering respected university education to African Americans.

“The University has received an extraordinary legacy from its holy founder, St. Katherine Drexel. I pray that the university will be faithful to that legacy in every way including respect and protection of all human life,” the archbishop’s letter concluded.

Responding to Archbishop Hughes’ letter in a statement, Xavier University said that the school has had the “honor of his presence at ceremonies” when the archbishop’s schedule permitted.

“Xavier understands the reasons for his absence at our 2009 Commencement Exercise. From the founding of Xavier by St. Katharine Drexel eighty-four years ago, our institution has promoted respect for the dignity, well-being and the protection of life for all persons,” the statement said.

“Xavier’s legacy and mission remain in its commitment to ‘create a more just and humane society,’” the statement continued.

According to a press release from the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Archbishop Hughes’ letter to Xavier University marks the second time he has written to a Catholic university in the last month. He also wrote to the president of the University of Notre Dame expressing disappointment with the choice of pro-abortion rights President Barack Obama as its Spring commencement speaker.

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Sebelius veto of partial-birth abortion law brings HHS nomination into question

Washington D.C., Apr 25, 2009 (CNA) - Kansas Governor and HHS Secretary nominee Kathleen Sebelius has vetoed a bill that would change a state law further regulating late-term abortions. The veto prompted much protest from pro-life leaders as Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said her nomination should be withdrawn if questions about her stand on abortion are not answered.

The bill, S. 218, would have required late-term abortionists to report additional information on the killing procedures to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. It also would have allowed women or girls who later believed their abortions to be illegal to sue the abortionist.

Under the proposed change, women’s husbands or minors’ parents or guardians would have been able sue if they believed the abortion was illegal.

In her Thursday veto message to legislators, Gov. Sebelius argued that doctors could have faced criminal prosecution even if they tried to comply with the law. She claimed the law would “lead to the intimidation of health care providers and reduce access to comprehensive health care for women, even when it is necessary to preserve their lives and health.”

Legislators could attempt to override the veto, though the bill was approved with less support than is needed to override it.

The pro-life group Concerned Women for America (CWA) criticized Sebelius’ veto in a Friday statement, calling the legislation “a common-sense bill” that would prevent the abortion of an “almost-born infant” for “frivolous reasons.”

CWA noted Gov. Sebelius’ connections to late-term Kansas abortionist Dr. George Tiller, who has been a major contributor to her political campaigns.

The group also argued the action contradicted the governor’s attempts to portray herself as a moderate on abortion to U.S. Senators considering her confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

“For those of us in Kansas, it is no surprise that she once again shielded the abortion industry, with which she has close ties both financially and ideologically, from common-sense regulations that protect patients," said Judy Smith, State Director of CWA of Kansas. "It is tragic that a woman who claims to be for women's rights would be so cavalier about rejecting their opportunity for legal recourse when their rights are violated by an abortionist.”

Smith accused Gov. Sebelius of trying to hide her relationship with the abortion industry.

“This time her actions prove who she really is,” she said.

National CWA President Wendy Wright called the governor “brazen in her allegiance” to Tiller and charged that she put his financial interests above patients’ well-being.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Thursday charged that Sebelius had not been forthcoming about her ties to Tiller, saying “significant questions remain” about her “evolving relationship” with him.

He said there are also questions about her position on late-term abortions, the Associated Press reports.

“If Gov. Sebelius and the Obama administration are unwilling to answer these questions, President Obama should withdraw her nomination,” Steele asserted.

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