Madrid, Spain, May 17, 2009 (CNA) - The Spanish Federation of Pro-Life Associations has strongly rejected the government’s plan to liberalize abortion laws, saying it would grant amnesty to those who have profited for years from the practice.
"We publicly denounce that this law has no other purpose than to grant retroactive amnesty to the promoters of abortion who not only have no scruples about tearing children out of their often tormented mothers, but in addition, make a mockery of the current law," the Federation said in a statement.
"A crime does not become a right just because one says it is, or because it is adorned with euphemisms of freedom and progress. All of the lives that have been lost, all of the women who have been broken and the generations that have been mutilated is enough. Abortion is something terrible and painful for all and we cannot allow it as something inevitable, much less speak of it as an advance in social rights."
The Federation said passage of the law would only lead "to more pregnancies among young women, more death and more lives cut short."
"We wish to show our most profound indignation when people appeal to women’s freedom and their health in order to invent a right that is to kill a child without giving any explanation if it is done within a certain amount of time. A crime does not become a right because it is repeated many times and adorned with the euphemisms of freedom and progress," the Foundation said.
The pro-life organization expressed hope that "common sense will prevail and that the government will correct itself and withdraw this backwards and inhumane project, which will only please those who profit from the pain of others and will mean greater degradation and abandonment of women, children and all of Spanish society."
London, England, May 17, 2009 (CNA) -
An honor established by the Queen of Great Britain to recognize distinguished service and gallantry on the former British colony of Trinidad and Tobago has been declared unlawful following complaints that its Christian name and cross insignia were offensive.
The Trinity Cross of the Order of Trinity was established by Queen Elizabeth II in 1969, the Times Online reports. It takes precedence over all other British decorations except the Victoria Cross and the Gorge Cross.
The decoration has been received by 62 people including cricket stars, novelist V.S. Naipaul, and many of the islands’ leading politicians and diplomats. It is the highest national honor of Trinidad and Tobago.
However, some of those nominated have refused to accept it because of questions about its overtly Christian nature.
The Privy Council in London ruled that the decoration was unconstitutional because it discriminates against non-Christians. The council ruled that the creation of the honor breached the right to equality and the right to freedom of conscience and belief.
According to the Times Online, Lord Hope of Craighead in his Privy Council judgment said the Trinity Cross was perceived by Hindus and Muslims of Trinidad and Tobago as "an overtly Christian symbol both in name and substance." Lord Hope said the honor breached the islands’ Constitution of 1976.
The Council refused to make its declaration retroactive so recipients will not be stripped of their past honors.
The Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago has already agreed that the name of the award should be changed to the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The Order of the Trinity will become the Distinguished Society of Trinidad and Tobago. The decoration itself will be redesigned, having its cross replaced with a medal.
The islands’ Muslim and Hindu populations account for about 30 percent of their 1.3 million residents, the Times Online says.
Queen Elizabeth II, who is head of the Church of England, is expected to visit the islands in November.
South Bend, Ind., May 17, 2009 (CNA) - As President Barack Obama’s commencement address approaches this Sunday, protests have been heating up on the campus of the University of Notre Dame and the local bishop has joined pro-life students in prayer.
On Friday and Saturday, as pre-graduation festivities began, a number of protestors were arrested for acts of civil disobedience and “the abortion plane,” a plane hired by the Center for Bioethical Reform to display images of aborted fetuses, continued to fly above campus.
Yet, in the midst of the brewing storm, the prayerful and dignified aura of commencement was present at an informal prayer service held at the campus’s iconic Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Bishop John M. D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, led a crowd of approximately 350 people in praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. Many of the crowd members were graduates and their families and fellow undergraduates. Before the Rosary began, Michele Sagala, a graduating senior, announced the three intentions for which the Rosary would be offered and joined to more than 100,000 Rosaries had been prayed thus far for those same intentions.
The intentions included: for a greater respect for the dignity of all human life, for the Catholic identity of Notre Dame and all Catholic universities, and for the pro-life conversion of President Barack Obama.
Bishop D’Arcy, the local ordinary to whom Notre Dame is subject in matters of Catholic faith and teaching, has been vocal in his opposition to the University’s decision to invite and honor the president. Significantly, in his March 29th public statement regarding the controversy, he questioned Notre Dame’s motives, saying, “Notre Dame must ask itself if by this decision it has chosen prestige over truth.”
In his address to the graduates given early Saturday evening at the University’s Baccalaureate Mass, Bishop D’Arcy encouraged the crowd to abandon themselves unreservedly to Christ in their search for truth. Stating that faith and learning are in perfect harmony and cannot exist one without the other, he stressed the need for the search of truth in both one’s faith as well as one’s learning.
“Freedom is always subject to the truth,” the Bishop asserted.
In this same spirit, Bishop D’Arcy has been supportive of students involved in opposition to Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama. Particularly, he has stated openly his approval of the Notre Dame Response Student Coalition, a coalition of 12-student groups opposing the invitation and honor with “respectful and prayerful” action.
According to the ND Response website, D’Arcy has said “I am supportive of all efforts by ND Response or any other prayerful and dignified demonstrations by Notre Dame students.”
Though the Bishop does not intend to be present for the on-campus events being hosted by ND Response on Commencement Sunday, his leading students and their families and supporters in the Grotto Rosary has left an impression.
Echoing the sentiments of many seniors present, one graduate said, “Bishop D’Arcy has been an overwhelmingly inspiring leader through out all of this controversy. His Christian example is meaningful to so many. Knowing that the students have his prayerful support really reassures me that we are doing the right thing.”
Vatican City, May 17, 2009 (CNA) - On a warm spring day, Pope Benedict XVI met with tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sunday to pray the Regina Coeli and to reflect on his recent visit to the Holy Land.
The Pope began by thanking the Lord, the civil and religious authorities in the Holy Land and all those “who accompanied and supported me in their prayer” for his recently concluded pilgrimage to the region. He said, “This land, symbol of God’s love for his people and for the whole of humanity, is also a symbol of freedom and peace as God wills it for every one of his children.”
“However, yesterday’s and today’s history show that this land has become a symbol of the opposite, of divisions and never-ending conflicts among brothers,” he continued. “The Holy Land has itself become almost a metaphor of revelation a “Fifth Gospel”, as some have called it, which by virtue of its history can be considered a microcosm that sums up humanity’s tiring journey towards the Kingdom of justice, love and peace.”
In the last part of his reflection the Holy Father focused on praying for the civilians caught up in fighting in Sri Lanka. For the past several weeks he military has been on the offensive against Tamil rebels in the northern part of the country. Thousands of people have been caught in the crossfire.
Today the Sri Lankan government announced that all the displaced people had reached safe areas and that the 25-year war against the Tamil Tigers has ended in victory.
“We cannot end this Marian prayer without turning our thoughts to Sri Lanka, to express our affection and spiritual closeness to the civilians caught in the combat zone, in the north of the country; thousands of children, women and elderly who lost years of life and hope to the war,” the Pontiff said. “And so I call on the combatants to facilitate their evacuation, joining my voice to that of the United Nations Security Council which just a few days ago demanded guarantees for their safety and security.”
“I call on humanitarian organizations, including Catholic organizations, to leave no stone unturned in their effort to bring urgent food and medical aid to the refugees.”
“I entrust this dear country to the maternal protection of Our Lady of Madhu, beloved and venerated by all Sri Lankans,” Pope Benedict concluded. “I raise my prayers to the Lord that he may bring closer the day of reconciliation and peace.”
After the Marian prayer, the Pope addressed a few words to English-speaking pilgrims:
“I warmly greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Regina Coeli prayer. In today’s Gospel Jesus invites his disciples to remain in his love by their love for one another. These words of the Risen Lord have a special resonance for me as I reflect on my recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I ask all of you to join me in praying that the Christians of the Middle East will be strengthened in their witness to Christ’s victory and to the reconciling power of his love. Through the prayers of Mary, Queen of Peace, may the Christians of the Holy Land, in cooperation with their Jewish and Muslim neighbors, and all people of good will, work in harmony to build a future of justice and peace in those lands. Upon them, and upon all of you, I invoke an abundance of Easter joy in Christ our Savior.
New Orleans, La., May 17, 2009 (CNA) - This afternoon a priest and graduate from Notre Dame who serves as principal for a predominately black New Orleans high school will be speaking at a demonstration on campus today as President Obama arrives in South Bend.
Father John Raphael, a 1989 graduate of Notre Dame, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that though he is thrilled of the election of a black man as President of the United States, he firmly disagrees with Obama’s pro-abortion stance.
It is because of Obama’s stance on abortion, that Fr. Raphael felt compelled to speak out at the demonstration organized by NDResponse.
The priest elaborated on his pro-life beliefs in a February 7 column in the New Orleans archdiocesan Clarion Herald.
He explained that his pro-life beliefs have old been strengthened from the history of slavery.
“If we believe that slavery was wrong, if we believe that segregation was wrong, if we would never support a politician who upheld these odious practices, then we must believe that abortion is wrong and actively fight to protect the unborn, regardless of who occupies positions of leadership,” he wrote.
“If abortion is OK, then slavery was OK because it was always a matter of choice – the choice of those who were in control,” he continued. But if these things were wrong because they deprived men and women of human and civil rights, then how much more is that act wrong and offensive to God which deprives an innocent human being of his or her very life?”
He asked: “Are we are willing to stand up for the unborn today as our forebears stood up for us? If we are not, then unto what purpose is our faith? In the end, we must be accountable to God and there is no doubt where he stands: ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I consecrated you, a prophet to the nations, I appointed you’ (Jer 1:5).”
San Diego, Calif., May 17, 2009 (CNA) - As President Obama is honored at the University of Notre Dame, hundreds of San Diego Christians are holding a pro-life rally today in defense of the unborn.
The rally, titled "Choose Life!" will be held this afternoon at the San Diego County Administrative Building.
In a press release, Dr. Jim Garlow, Pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego said of the event: "Never before have area mega pastors united as one with such magnitude to defend life, representing tens of thousands of San Diego Christians, creating a powerful revival and new face to the pro-life movement."
The speakers scheduled for the rally are: Pastor Jim Garlow, Pastor David Jeremiah of Shadow Mountain Community Church and Host of The Turning Point, Pastor Miles McPherson of the Rock Church, Pastor Mike MacIntosh of Horizon Christian Fellowship, Pastor Shawn Mitchell of New Venture Christian Fellowship, and Pastor Chris Clark of East Clairemont Southern Baptist Church..
UCLA student Lila Rose whose undercover filming and expose' of Planned Parenthood has brought national attention to the abortion industry will also be speaking.
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South Bend, Ind., May 17, 2009 (CNA) - President Barack Obama addressed graduates of the University of Notre Dame this afternoon. As he spoke about the importance of diversity and the "call to love," hundreds of protesters gathered in a prayer vigil for the conversion of the President on his stances on life issues such as abortion.
As the President began his speech, according to Fox News, protesters in the crowd began to shout before they were drowned out by others in the audience.
President Obama told the graduates that they must find a way to "reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity - diversity of thought, of culture, and of belief."
"For the major threats we face in the 21st century - whether it's global recession or violent extremism; the spread of nuclear weapons or pandemic disease - do not discriminate. They do not recognize borders. They do not see color. They do not target specific ethnic groups."
"Moreover, no one person, or religion, or nation can meet these challenges alone. Our very survival has never required greater cooperation and understanding among all people from all places than at this moment in history," he continued.
Finding common ground isn’t easy, he said. "Part of the problem, of course, lies in the imperfections of man - our selfishness, our pride, our stubbornness, our acquisitiveness, our insecurities, our egos; all the cruelties large and small that those of us in the Christian tradition understand to be rooted in original sin. …And so, for all our technology and scientific advances, we see around the globe violence and want and strife that would seem sadly familiar to those in ancient times."
He went on to ask, "how do we work through these conflicts?" "How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?"
"Nowhere do these questions come up more powerfully than on the issue of abortion."
The President the discussed a letter received from a Christian, pro-life doctor who was bothered by a phrase on Obama’s campaign site. It said that he would fight. "right-wing ideologues who want to take a way a woman’s right to choose." The doctor then said that he assumed Obama was reasonable, but that if he "truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable."
The doctor wrote: "I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words."
"Fair-minded words," repeated the President.
He explained that after reading the letter, the President changed the words on his website and prayed that he might "extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that - when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do - that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground."
The President then urged the crowd to seek to reduce the number of abortions "by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women."
He continued: "Understand - I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it - indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory - the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature."
The President went on to explain that as a community organizer he worked in neighborhoods with a diversity of people: Catholics, Protestants, Jews, African-Americans and Hispanics. "All of us with different beliefs. But all of us learned to work side by side because all of us saw in these neighborhoods other human beings who needed our help - to find jobs and improve schools. We were bound together in the service of others."
During that time, the President had the opportunity to hear Cardinal Joseph Bernardin when he was Archbishop of Chicago. Obama said, "I can still remember him speaking at one of the first organizing meetings I attended on the South Side. He stood as both a lighthouse and a crossroads - unafraid to speak his mind on moral issues ranging from poverty, AIDS, and abortion to the death penalty and nuclear war. And yet, he was congenial and gentle in his persuasion, always trying to bring people together; always trying to find common ground. Just before he died, a reporter asked Cardinal Bernardin about this approach to his ministry. And he said, ‘You can't really get on with preaching the Gospel until you've touched minds and hearts’."
He continued: "My heart and mind were touched by the words and deeds of the men and women I worked alongside with in Chicago. And I'd like to think that we touched the hearts and minds of the neighborhood families whose lives we helped change. For this, I believe, is our highest calling."
"You are about to enter the next phase of your life at a time of great uncertainty," the President said, "In this world of competing claims about what is right and what is true, have confidence in the values with which you've been raised and educated. Be unafraid to speak your mind when those values are at stake. Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. Stand as a lighthouse."
The President then made a call to love. He said, "for if there is one law that we can be most certain of, it is the law that binds people of all faiths and no faith together. It is no coincidence that it exists in Christianity and Judaism; in Islam and Hinduism; in Buddhism and humanism. It is, of course, the Golden Rule - the call to treat one another as we wish to be treated. The call to love. To serve. To do what we can to make a difference in the lives of those with whom we share the same brief moment on this Earth."
He continued, "I will not pretend that the challenges we face will be easy, or that the answers will come quickly, or that all our differences and divisions will fade happily away. Life is not that simple. It never has been."
"But as you leave here today," he concluded, "remember the lessons of Cardinal Bernardin, of Father Hesburgh, of movements for change both large and small. Remember that each of us, endowed with the dignity possessed by all children of God, has the grace to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we all seek the same love of family and the same fulfillment of a life well-lived."
South Bend, Ind., May 17, 2009 (CNA) - Father Wilson Miscamble, a Holy Cross priest and History professor at Notre Dame spoke at a rally organized by ND Response today and praised the students and their firm support of life.
Fr. Miscamble began his address, provided by Pewsitter.com, by reflecting on the founding of the University of Notre Dame noting that the Holy Cross priests "aimed to serve Christ here. And they sought to evangelize in His name under the patronage of the Blessed Mother."
Fr. Miscamble noted that though the school "faced horrendous tribulations during its initial years," the priests never gave up. "Under God’s providential care, our university did recover and grow. Father Sorin … his determined band … and the generations of Holy Cross religious and their lay collaborators who followed them built something special."
"These folk built Notre Dame into a distinctive place that nurtured its students’ religious and moral development, as well as their intellectual lives. Notre Dame challenged them to serve God and neighbor. And, as it did so, it proudly proclaimed its Catholic identity and its loyal membership in a Church that was and is unafraid to speak of moral truths and foundational principles and beliefs," the priest continued.
"Now friends, jump ahead to today. The formal leadership of the University still proclaims its fidelity to this vision," Miscamble said, however, "The words have not been matched by deeds. Instead of fostering the moral development of its students Notre Dame’s leaders have planted the damaging seeds of moral confusion."
He explained that by honoring President Obama, the administration has not only let its students down, but it has "betrayed the loyal and faith-filled alumni who rely on Notre Dame to stand firm on matters of fundamental Catholic teaching – and so to affirm the sanctity of life."
"The honor extended to Barack Obama says very loudly that support for practically unlimited access to abortion – and approval for the destruction of embryonic life to harvest stem cells – are not major problems for those charged with leading Notre Dame." The priest went on to quote Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of South Bend who said, "Notre Dame chose ‘prestige over truth.’ How embarrassing for an institution dedicated to the pursuit of truth to settle for temporary attention over eternal honor."
Fr. Miscamble asked that his audience reflect on the Holy Cross religious who have served Notre Dame and the Church for ages. "In some ways, the task before us today is tougher than theirs. In those early days, the problems were clear – but so too was the mission.
"Now we are engaged in a more intellectual and spiritual struggle. Will we be true to the founding vision? Can we resist the subtle and not so subtle temptations to surrender our distinct religious identity --and conform to the reigning and rather barren secular paradigm of what a university should be?"
Though Obama’s visit suggests that Notre Dame’s leaders have "succumbed to this temptation," Fr. Miscamble said that "when we look back on these days, I have a sense that what will stand out is how a group of dedicated prolife students, wonderful alumni, and ordinary Catholics who cherish this place refused to acquiesce in the Administration’s willingness to wink at its most fundamental values in exchange for the public relations coup that attends a presidential visit."
He continued: "The people who refuse to give up – and I speak especially of you students ---have taken on the role of teachers here. While the administration and many of the faculty sold out easily for the photo-ops etc, you and some of your alumni sisters and brothers showed the benefits of your Notre Dame education. You held firm to the foundational principles of respect for life and for the dignity of every person. You are the ones who have understood what really matters. You refuse to just go along. You have made your voice heard and led the way to a better future."
"You represent the very best of Notre Dame. You – along with your good professors and faithful alums – are the ones who can help Notre Dame recover from this painful and self-inflicted wound. You will not find it easy, and you will have moments where you will be discouraged. But you must remember there is so much that is good at Notre Dame that you can never relent in your efforts to call this place to be its best and true self --proud of its Catholic identity and its loyal membership in the Church."
Fr. Miscamble drew his address to a close calling on the crowd to move forward. "Let us take our instruction from the Lord, in the words that the great champion of life, John Paul II, used at the outset of his papacy: BE NOT AFRAID. --Let us labor in this vineyard, so that Notre Dame might regain its true soul … be faithful in its mission as a Catholic University … and truly become the "powerful means for good" that Father Sorin dreamed about."
South Bend, Ind., May 17, 2009 (CNA) - Although he had initially planned to stay away from campus today as President Barack Obama was honored at Notre Dame, Bishop John D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana changed his mind and spoke at a campus pro-life rally.
According to the Fort Wayne News Sentinel, the bishop spoke in front of 2,500 people protesting the university’s award to pro-abortion President Barack Obama.
Initially Bishop D’Arcy had planned to boycott the graduation festivities, however he decided to appear on campus due to the school’s pro-life undergraduates.
"It is certainly the place for the bishop to be here," D'Arcy said. "John D'Arcy's not important, but the office of bishop if very important and it must always be like Pope John Paul II to stand up for life all the time, everywhere without exception."
Last night the bishop began an all-night vigil for students and other pro-lifers on campus.
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South Bend, Ind., May 17, 2009 (CNA) - At least four pro-lifers disrupted President Barack Obama's commencement speech at Notre Dame with shouts like "stop killing babies," and "abortion is murder," but they were immediately escorted out by campus police and their voices silenced by the audience chanting Obama's campaign motto "Yes we can."
Wearing the blue robes of Notre Dame after receiving an honorary Law degree, President Obama was welcomed onto the stage with an ovation from 12,000 graduating seniors, master’s, doctoral and law graduates, their guests and staff.
Obama's remarks followed Fr. Jenkins' speech in which the battled President of the Catholic institution dramatically tried to justify the rightness of Notre Dame's decision to confer Obama with an honorary degree despite the fact that his views and political record on abortion are completely opposed to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
“More than any problem in the arts or sciences, engineering or medicine, easing the hateful divisions between human beings is the supreme challenge of this age,” Father Jenkins said. “If we can solve this problem, we have a chance to come together and solve all the others.”
“Difference must be acknowledged, and in some cases even cherished,” Jenkins also said. But “we can persuade believers by appeal to both faith and reason. As we serve our country, we will be motivated by faith, but we cannot appeal only to faith. We must also engage in a dialogue that appeals to reason that all can accept.”
A few minutes into his speech, President Obama was briefly heckled by four pro-lifers positioned in different corners at the Joyce Center Arena.
The President was interrupted at least three times by the protesters, but they were finally silenced by the cheering crowd with chants of "Yes we can!" and "We are ND."
Two of the protesters removed from Joyce Center Arena were Joseph Landry and Andrew Beacham, both members of www.stopobamanotredame.com, the group of protesters organized by Randall Terry. But the others were unknown members of the crowd, possibly students.
Less stridently and mostly ignored by the press, about 100 students inside the arena had yellow crosses with baby feet drawn atop their mortar boards. Those students remained seated when Obama received his honorary degree and during the standing ovations the president received from the rest of the crowd.
Despite the interruption, President Obama continued with his speech calling for common ground.
Support for the president's speech and Fr. Jenkins' justifications for his controvertial invitation were strong among most in the audience.
According to Amy Welborn, who blogs on Catholic issues for Beliefnet, the largest religious portal, “I was as distressed as anyone by the rock-star reception by Obama, just as I would if Bush or any other politician were greeted in such a way at a Catholic institution. We've had enough problems with sucking up to civic authority over the last few dozen centuries, haven't we? It was creepy in a 'Justice Sunday' kind of way."
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