Archive of May 20, 2009

Novelist’s Catholic thriller explores Church division in face of ‘secular spirit’

Denver, Colo., May 20, 2009 (CNA) - A new novel by British author Piers Paul Read crafts a thriller story around terrorism, the 2005 papal election and the present-day conflicts within the Catholic Church. In an interview with CNA, Read explained how he drew on his experiences with liberation theology and “social Catholicism” to write his book, “The Death of a Pope.”

In his latest fictional work, published by Ignatius Press, Read depicts the mysterious behavior of ex-priest Juan Uriarte, a former liberationist who is put on trial for possessing sarin nerve gas. As Uriarte’s murky intentions are gradually revealed, the plot follows multiple characters in venues ranging from London and the Vatican to an African hospital for AIDS patients.

Read is also the bestselling author of “Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors” about the horrific plane crash of the Uruguayan rugby team.

He spoke with CNA by phone in a Monday interview, explaining that several different experiences helped inspire “The Death of a Pope.”

The novel’s opening trial scene, for example, resulted from his witnessing a trial at England's Central Criminal Court, commonly called the Old Bailey.

Read explained he was also very struck by the “hatred” that some people have for the Catholic Church and the rise of the “secular spirit” particularly evident in Britain and Europe.

Some people use advocacy for condoms in the African AIDS crisis as a “stick with which to beat the Church,” he added, noting that he noticed progressive Catholics thought the Church would change with a new Pope.

These elements combined to form his story about the ex-Jesuit, ex-liberation theologian on trial in London. Read told CNA he wanted to write a novel that was a good story about terrorism, but in a way that served to highlight the phenomenon of liberation theology and its contrast with what he called “the more supernatural and sacramental appreciation of what the Catholic Church is about.”

CNA, noting that Read’s book derives dramatic energy from factionalism in the Catholic Church, asked what his novel says about the present state of the Church.

“The Catholic Church is divided. I’m not one to cast aspersions on other people’s good will, but I do think that after Vatican II a large number of Catholics sort of took a few phrases from ‘Gaudium et Spes’ and elevated them into a kind of social ideology.”

He said this was particularly true in South America and El Salvador, and among some Jesuits in North America.

Read explained that he had once written about El Salvador on the anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. In his interviews for the story, he found that “progressive, revolutionary, Marxist Catholics” had taken control and enacted what was “almost a persecution” of traditionalist Catholics.

By that time, Read said, he had forsworn his “youthful enthusiasm” for liberationism and rejected its depiction of Jesus as a social revolutionary. He had come to believe the Church was “much more about spiritual, otherworldly values.”

The experience made him aware of the “polarization” within the Church between the “liberal or progressive or social Catholic view” and the “traditionalist, spiritual, sacramental view.”

Discussing the Church’s interaction with the secular world, Read noted the religious differences between the United States and Europe.

While Americans are “much more open to talking about God, talking about Jesus, and Christian life,” his native England has lost its formerly “widespread” Christian consensus after the “extraordinary changes” of recent decades, he said.

Christians and Catholics in particular have been “marginalized,” Read said, and many Catholics “keep their heads down.”

“There are many Catholics in quite prominent positions in Britain, but you’d never know they were Catholics.”

Turning to the controversy over the Catholic prohibition on condoms and AIDS prevention efforts, Read told CNA he gives “a fair crack of the whip” to both sides of the “complex” argument.

Once someone ceases to believe in the supernatural aspect of Catholicism and “the sacred nature of the human body,” he said, this lack of belief combines with the denigration of chastity and opens people to making arguments that Church teaching on condoms is “wicked.”

“The Death of a Pope” itself begins with a quotation from Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, who in 2002 said the Pope “kills millions through his reckless spreading of AIDS.”

Read also addressed the charge that his explanations of Catholic beliefs are imposed on the reader. The author countered that the discussions were not “Catholic propaganda,” explaining that a non-Catholic could read his novel and not feel like the beliefs are being imposed on him.

He added that a cardinal and two priests who are characters in the book offer “different takes on what you might find among Catholic priests today, but they’re not just mouthpieces of their particular points of view.”

“They are, I hope, grounded psychological characters who have a life of their own,” he remarked.

Asked to discuss the development of his own faith and its relation to his work, Read told CNA:

“We all go through different ups and downs of faith and God sometimes feels closer and more absent… I’ve always believed and I’ve always gone to Mass on Sunday, but there were certain times when it meant more to me than at other times.”

Some novels have Catholic characters and necessarily deal with Catholic themes, he explained, adding that his Catholic values often also enter into his non-fiction, such as “Alive.”

“In the 1950s you could write novels about religious belief that would be intelligible to a wide readership. Whereas now, this novel isn’t published in Britain because of its too overtly religious themes.”

He concluded the interview by saying he hoped readers would enjoy its “certain moral beauty.”

Read is now touring the United States to lecture and to promote “The Death of a Pope.” He has planned appearances in several California cities, New York City, Washington, D.C., and other locales.

The book’s website is

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Ultrasound technology and laws credited for pro-life shift

Washington D.C., May 20, 2009 (CNA) - Some doctors and pro-life leaders now say ultrasound technology is partly responsible for Americans’ gradual shift to identifying themselves as pro-life. Nebraskan legislators are now considering joining the many states which require that a woman considering an abortion be provided an ultrasound of her baby.

A recent Gallup poll showed 51 percent of Americans now self-identify as pro-life, composing a majority for the first time.

The change has led to speculation that improved ultrasound technology has helped change minds.

"Ultrasound used to be less available, very grainy. Now the baby is very clear, very distinct," Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life told Fox News.

Massachusetts Doctor Eric J. Keroack reported to Fox News that a two-year study showed 75 percent of his patients who were unsure about having an abortion decided not to after choosing to view the ultrasound images of their child.

Currently, six states require verbal counseling or written materials to include information on accessing ultrasound services. Twelve states regulate the provision of ultrasound by abortion providers.

Last week Nebraska lawmakers advanced a measure requiring abortion providers to display ultrasound images of unborn children so that patients can easily view them. On Thursday they voted 37-5 to send the measure to a second round of voting.

Nebraska state Sen. John Harm told Fox News the proposed law gives struggling women the option to view an ultrasound and “hopefully see a beating heart and the development of the child.”

"I've had correspondence with women who've gone through an abortion and who've said that if they had the option of seeing the ultrasound, they might not have made that decision," he said.

Defenders of abortion argued that the technology is being used to generate guilt among women who have abortions.

"The other side has made it pretty clear that this is a strategy to get women to change their minds," Gretchen Borchelt, senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center, told

She said her organization does not support requiring women to view ultrasound images.

Last year Oklahoma passed legislation requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound on every woman seeking an abortion and to place the monitor in a position easy for the woman to view.

The legislation requires doctors to provide “a simultaneous description of what the ultrasound is depicting” and describe the dimensions of the unborn child, the presence of cardiac activity, and the presence of external members and internal organs if they are present and viewable.

The bill clearly states that there will be no legal penalty for either the physician or the woman if she refuses to look at the ultrasound images.

However, the bill is being challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents abortion clinics.

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New Jersey diocese to investigate alleged miracle attributed to Carmelite sister

Piscataway, N.J., May 20, 2009 (CNA) - The Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey on Monday opened an investigation into an alleged miracle believed to have been worked by Servant of God Mother Mary Angeline Teresa McCrory, the foundress of the Germantown, New York-based Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm.

Mother McCrory spent her life caring for the elderly and ailing in long-term care facilities operated by the Carmelite Sisters, who now operate 17 elder-care facilities around the country and one in Ireland. Mother McCrory died in 1984 at the age of 91.

"Sometimes you hear about somebody being an imposing figure," said Sister Kevin Patricia Lynch, a Carmelite sister who knew Mother McCrory, told "She was very imposing, but very warm."

At a 20-minute ceremony at the St. John Neumann Pastoral Center, Bishop of Metuchen Paul G. Bootkoski formally opened the diocese’s investigation into the alleged miracle, the details of which are not being made public.

However, Mother Mark Louis Randall, superior general of the Carmelite Sisters, told that the reputed miracle involves a family in the diocese’s general area that prayed to Mother McCrory to intercede with God after their unborn child was diagnosed with a genetic abnormality. When the child was born, the defect was not as severe as expected.

About twenty sisters from Carmelite elder care facilities attended the ceremony, where Bishop Bootkoski and a panel of investigators took oaths promising to put God and the Church first. They also promised to keep the details they learn in the investigation secret until the process is complete.

Lori Albanese, diocesan chancellor and notary of the investigation, said the process might take about four months. Officials will interview family and friends of the child, as well as medical experts. The medical experts will include two people who are independent of the Church and the case.

She explained that the investigative panel’s task is to collect evidence, not to determine whether the case is an actual miracle attributed to Mother McCrory.

Mother McCrory’s home diocese, the Diocese of Albany, has also extensively investigated her life.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints will decide on whether there was an actual miracle attributable to her. If the miracle is verified, Mother McCrory can be beatified. If a second miracle is then attributed to her, she may be canonized.

Those who believe their prayers for Mother McCrory’s intercession have resulted in a miracle are asked to contact the Carmelite Sisters.

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Pope Benedict looks for resurrection of the Holy Land

Vatican City, May 20, 2009 (CNA) - At his Wednesday general audience, Pope Benedict XVI recalled his recent trip to the Holy Land. He told the 20,000 pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square that peace is possible in the Holy Land, with the help of faith.

“I will never cease to thank the Lord because it revealed itself to be an immense gift for St Peter’s Successor and for the entire Church,” the Holy Father said of his visit.

After having thanked the bishops, governments and all those who collaborated in the success of the visit, Benedict XVI then recalled the first stage of the voyage: Jordan, and his visits to Monte Nebo and then Bethany Beyond Jordan, where Christ was baptized. Monte Nebo, he explained, is “a site of strong symbolic significance, its speaks of our condition as pilgrims, between what was and what has yet to be, between a beautiful hope and the fulfillment that goes beyond us.”

At Bethany the Pope blessed the foundation stones of two new churches—one Greek Melkite and the other a Latin rite Church. These churches, he stressed, are “a sign of the respect of the Hashemite Kingdom has for religious freedom and the Christian tradition.”

The Pontiff also visited the al-Hussein bin-Talal Mosque, which was built by King Abdullah II in memory of his father. “How important it is,” he commented, “that Christians and Muslims live together peacefully in mutual respect.” The Christian community in Jordan, Pope informed, provides education and aid to the needy  independent of their religious convictions.

The Holy Father recalled that when he visited the Our Lady of Peace (Regina Pacis) Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled, “I was able to bring a word of hope, but I received it in turn.” He also brought to mind the opportunity he had to bless the cornerstone of Madaba Catholic University, which “tangibly manifests the Churches love for the search for truth and common good, an essential first step to dialogue between civilizations.”

On May 11, Benedict XVI arrived in Israel on a trip as “a pilgrim of faith in the Land where Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again, and, at the same time, as a pilgrim of peace, imploring God that there, where He became man, all people may live as His children, that is, as brothers and sisters."
"In that Land blessed by God at times its seems impossible to escape the spiral of violence. But nothing is impossible for God and for those who trust in Him! For this reason, faith in the one God, just and merciful, which is the most precious resource those people have, must have the power to release all its potential of respect, reconciliation and collaboration." The Pope went on to explain how he had expressed this hope to the Grand Mufti and the heads of the Muslim community of Jerusalem, to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and to organizations dedicated to inter-religious dialogue.

Jerusalem, the Pope said, is “the crossroads of these three great religions and its very name means city of peace, it expresses God’s divine plan for humanity.” “All believers,” he added, “must leave prejudice and the will to predominate at their backs and unanimously practice the fundamental commandment that is to love God with all our being and love our neighbor with all of ourselves.”

“This is what Jews, Christians and Muslims are called to witness, to honor by our deeds the God that we pray to with our tongues,” the Pontiff continued.  “This is what I carried in my heart as I prayed in Jerusalem at the Western Wall and at the Dome of the Rock.”

The visit to Holocaust memorial museum Yad Vashem was marked by a “moment of intense contemplation.” “Every human person is sacred and his name is written on the heart of the eternal God,” the Holy Father reflected. “Never must we forget the tremendous tragedy of the Shoah: on the contrary it must always be in our memory as a universal warning of the sacredness of human life, which always bears an infinite value.”

“I would like to sum up the entire itinerary in the sign of the Resurrection,” Benedict XVI concluded. “Despite wars and destruction and even conflicts between Christians, the Church has continued in its mission, it is on the road to full unity.”

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Philadelphia auxiliary named sixth bishop of Saginaw

Saginaw, Mich., May 20, 2009 (CNA) - The newly appointed Bishop of Saginaw, Bishop Joseph R. Cistone, who has spent the last five years as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said today that he is excited to lead the Michigan diocese and emphasized the importance of Eucharistic Adoration.

“Today, I commit myself to you, the faithful of the Diocese of Saginaw, to shepherd you in faith and love. I fully trust in the providence of God and I know it is the hand of God which has placed me in your midst to lead and serve,” he said in a statement provided by the Diocese of Saginaw.

While the bishop noted that he has much to learn about his new diocese, he said that what he does know is that “Jesus Christ must be at the center of all we do: all our prayers...all our thoughts...all our actions.”

“Pope John Paul II, in his great encyclical on the Eucharist, reminded us that ‘The Church draws her life from the Eucharist.’ And so, what I can tell you is that I will do everything possible to foster ever greater devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, whether it be by encouraging greater attendance at Mass, more worthy reception of the Eucharist, or prayerful adoration in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.”

According to the Diocese of Saginaw, Bishop Cistone, 60, was born in Philadelphia and completed his seminary studies at St. Charles Borromeo in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.   He was ordained a priest in 1975. 

In 2004, he appointed as an auxiliary bishop for Philadelphia and, after serving there for five years, will now become the sixth bishop of Saginaw.

While the bishop noted that he is greatly anticipating his new position, he acknowledged that leaving Philadelphia, his home, may be a transition.

“I have served as a priest of Philadelphia for 34 years, five of those years as an auxiliary bishop. So, it will be an adjustment to move away from my parents, my family, relatives and friends, and, in particular, my brother priests. I ask your patience with me during this time of transition.”

Archbishop of Philadelphia, Cardinal Justin Rigali expressed his joy at the news of the appointment in a statement from his archdiocese saying, “With this appointment the Holy Father demonstrates his great trust and confidence in Bishop Cistone to carry his love of the Church with him to the faithful of Saginaw. We celebrate this announcement for all of those eagerly awaiting Bishop Cistone's arrival in his new Diocese but at the same time we will miss his wisdom, assistance and faithful service here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”

“I am grateful to Bishop Cistone for his constant willingness to serve the Church of Philadelphia and for his assistance to me as Vicar for Administration and his pastoral care of the parishes in his episcopal region. I know that I am joined by my fellow bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious and all the faithful of the Archdiocese in offering Bishop Cistone my warmest congratulations. We join together in offering our prayers that God will watch over Bishop Cistone and bless him as he shepherds his new Diocese," the cardinal said.

Bishop Cistone will lead 119,000 Catholics and 100 priests in his new diocese.

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Pope calls for Internet evangelists

Vatican City, May 20, 2009 (CNA) -

Pope Benedict XVI is calling upon young people to evangelize using the Internet as the Church prepares to celebrate the World Day for Social Communications.

At the end of his Wednesday general audience, the Holy Father launched an appeal asking that cyberspace be a place that promotes a "culture of respect, dialogue and authentic friendship where the values of truth, harmony and understanding can flourish."

Speaking English, the Holy Father recalled how in his message for this year's celebrations, "I am inviting all those who make use of the new technologies of communication, especially the young, to utilize them in a positive way and to realize the great potential of these means to build up bonds of friendship and solidarity that can contribute to a better world.

"Young people in particular, I appeal to you: bear witness to your faith through the digital world!" the Pope urged.

"Employ these new technologies to make the Gospel known, so that the Good News of God’s infinite love for all people, will resound in new ways across our increasingly technological world!"

The World Day for Social Communications will be held on Sunday, May 24 this year.

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Pope plans to reach youth with Facebook profile and website

Rome, Italy, May 20, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, announced on Thursday the launching of a new website,, to reach out to young people and bring them into contact with Pope Benedict XVI.

The archbishop told L’Osservatore Romano that the initiative is part of the activities surrounding World Communications Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday, May 24 under the theme, “New Technologies, New Relationships.”

The idea behind this website, the archbishop said, “is that in order to be able to enter into a fruitful, rich dialogue characterized by respect and friendship, we wanted to use the digital world, that is, the instrument most friendly to young people, through which they encounter each other daily and often without meeting each other in person.”

Commenting on Pope Benedict XVI's call to young people to use the internet to evangelize, Archbishop Celli said the Holy Father was encouraging them to participate in online social networks and “bear witness to the love of God for all mankind.”

The archbishop also said the new site would be directly linked to Facebook from which users will be able to send pictures of the Pontiff and excerpts from his discourses to their friends.

“The presence of the Pope on Facebook is limited to this, to the possibility of sending a picture of him with an excerpt from his teaching,” Archbishop Celli noted.

The new website will be in five languages: Italian, Spanish, English, French and German. Young people will be able to access “not only all news referring to the Pope and his activities, but also they will be able to enter into contact with the person of Benedict XVI through his words,” he said.

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Congressmen call on Obama to honor pro-life consciences by keeping HHS regs

Washington D.C., May 20, 2009 (CNA) - Two congressmen on Tuesday responded to President Barack Obama’s commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame, calling on him to honor pro-life consciences by rejecting the possible cancellation of federal conscience protection rules for pro-life medical workers.

Speaking at a Washington, D.C. press conference and also sending a letter to the President, Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) noted President Obama’s Notre Dame commencement speech remark that he wanted to “honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion.”

Expressing their agreement on the need for a conscience clause, the representatives’ letter asked that President Obama end the White House Office of Management and Budget’s review of the Department of Health and Human Services’ conscience protection rules enacted by the Bush administration. They also asked him to “completely forgo” their rescindment.

“In addition, we urge you to commit to defending conscience protections in future rulemaking that affects both individual and institutional health care providers,” they wrote to the president.

“We should reduce the number of abortions by continuing the restrictions on abortion funding… We urge you to use all the tools at your disposable to keep conscience protections in place and reduce the number of abortions in the United States,” Reps. Sensenbrenner and Smith continued.

“If this Administration wants to be the Administration of choice, then all people need to have their choices protected,” Rep. Sensenbrenner said at the press conference. “The religious and moral views of health care workers should be respected. Workers should have the right to refuse to participate in an abortion procedure without the fear of losing their job or being discriminated against.”

“We’re simply asking President Obama to ensure that his deeds match his words,” said Rep. Smith, who co-chairs the House Pro-Life Caucus.

He added that President Obama could “honor the conscience” of pro-life workers simply by stopping efforts to rescind what Rep. Smith called the “fundamental right” to refuse to participate in procedures they find “morally reprehensible.”

“Protecting conscience is the truly pro-choice position and respects the diversity of opinion in our society as well as the sanctity of life,” he continued.

Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) also attended the press conference.

The conscience protection rules implement existing federal laws by requiring hospitals, clinics, researchers and medical schools to sign written certifications as a prerequisite to receiving Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funding. The rules also forbid state and local governments which receive federal grants from discriminating against pro-life hospitals and other institutions.

A December 2008 HHS announcement said the rules would “increase awareness of and compliance with” federal laws. The rules also designated the HHS Office for Civil Rights as an entity to receive violation complaints.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has supported the conscience protection regulations, citing in a Sept. 12, 2008 letter the “growing hostility on the part of some professional organizations and advocacy groups to rights of conscience in health care” and describing other “undisguised hostility to conscience rights.”

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President of Honduras gives green light to morning-after pill

Tegucigalpa, May 20, 2009 (CNA) - President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras has vetoed a decree that prohibited the sale of the morning-after pill in the country, thus giving a green light to the sale of the drug that prevents the implantation of a newly conceived child.
The president’s private secretary, Eduardo Reina, said Zelaya vetoed the bill “because it is unconstitutional.”  The Honduran congress will need a two-thirds majority in order to override the presidential veto.  The measure to prohibit the drug was supported by the Medical College of Honduras.
Abortion is illegal in Honduras, and the pill’s abortifacient mechanisms led the country’s Congress to pass the measure outlawing its sale and consumption.

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Installation of new Archbishop of Westminster to take place May 21

London, England, May 20, 2009 (CNA) - The new Primate of England and Wales, ArchbishopVincent Nichols, will be installed as the leader of the Archdiocese of Westminster on May 21 in London.

According to the SIR news agency, Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (who heads the Anglican Church), have all been invited to the event. Some two thousand people are expected to attend.

Large TV screens will be set up outside the Cathedral for those unable to enter, and EWTN will broadcast the event live.

The newly installed archbishop will give the homily, while his predecessor, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz, will deliver remarks at the end of the Mass.

After the reading of the Papal Decree by the Chancellor of the Diocese, Bishop John Arnold, the new archbishop will be installed and will receive the episcopal staff from Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor.

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Nuncio to Israel says Pope’s heart close to the Holy Land

Jerusalem, Israel, May 20, 2009 (CNA) - The Apostolic Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Antonio Franco, said this week that in the wake of Benedict XVI’s visit to the Holy Land, “We have felt the Pope’s heart close to the reality of the Holy Land, and for all Christians it was a marvelous experience.”

The Nuncio told the Italian bishops' news agency that the Pope’s visit was “extremely positive” and that the Holy Father “has given us wonderful memories in the Holy Land. They were very intense days, whether during the times in which there was some tension or during the times when there was great participation and spiritual fervor.”

Archbishop Franco said, “Benedict XVI experienced all of the realities of the Holy Land, as they are genuinely experienced day by day. He experienced the fatigue, the difficulties and the tensions of Jerusalem, the more relaxed atmosphere of Bethlehem and later the family atmosphere of Nazareth.”

“Many reactions and difficulties fell away on the eve of the trip for sure,” the Nuncio recalled. “An atmosphere of profound communication was created despite that there was not a personal encounter with everyone. But we have felt the Pope’s heart close to the reality of the Holy Land and this has been a marvelous experience for us Christians.”

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Papal visit to Holy Land renews hope amid conflicts and poverty

Jerusalem, Israel, May 20, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Holy Land has renewed its peoples’ strength and hope despite its conflicts and its poverty, Caritas Jerusalem has said.

His assurances of his prayer and solidarity with those suffering have had a very strong impact on people of the Holy Land regardless of their religion, Fides reports. The Palestinian people have appreciated the moral authority of the Pope, while all hope that the international community will respond to his messages and open an authentic peace process to bring stability and harmony to the Holy Land.

The charity Caritas Jerusalem supports poor families who are victims of conflict in the Holy Land and those who live in economic difficulty because of growing unemployment.

Caritas has provided $1.9 million in food, medical supplies, educational materials and other supplies. Their outreach touches nearly 10,000 families in the Gaza Strip.

The Caritas-run Polio Center in Gaza provides prosthetics to many of those maimed in war, giving them the possibility of living a normal life and allowing them to return to their normal activities.

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Editor of Vatican newspaper says ‘Obama is not pro-abortion’

Rome, Italy, May 20, 2009 (CNA) - The Editor-in-chief of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano explained today to Paulo Rodari, a Vatican analyst for the daily “Il Riformista,” that President Barack Obama’s speech to graduates of Notre Dame was very respectful and that he “is not a pro-abortion president.”

In the interview with Rodari, Editor-in-chief Gian Maria Vian discussed his thoughts on President Obama at the University of Notre Dame. “Obama has not upset the world,” he said. “His speech at Notre Dame has been respectful toward every position. He tried to engage the debate stepping out from every ideological position and outside every ‘confrontational mentality.’ To this extent his speech is to be appreciated.”

Vian continued, “Let me be clear, L’Osservatore stands where the American bishops are: we consider abortion a disaster. We must promote, always and at every level a ‘culture of life’.”

“What I want to stress is that yesterday, on this precise and very delicate issue, the President said that the approval of the new law on abortion is not a priority of his administration. The fact that he said that is very reassuring to me. It also underlines my own clear belief: Obama is not a pro-abortion president,” he told Rodari.

Continuing the interview, Rodari stressed that L' Osservatore Romano ran two different stories on the same issue, one positive about Obama's speech at Notre Dame, the other extremely critical about his embryonic stem cell research position which quoted the concerns of the USCCB.

Vian answered: “This is our policy, the way we inform. If a national bishops’ conference says something, we report it.” However, he continued, it is “appropriate to present other perspectives” to the readers so they can accurately judge "international information.”

According to Rodari, "the words of Vian are important. Because they speak about a confrontation between Obama and the Catholic Church which for now seems to be limited mainly among part of the American episcopate. A confrontation that the Holy See neither approves nor disapproves. Simply observes."

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