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Archive of May 27, 2009

Archdiocese of Newark leads the nation in priestly ordinations

Newark, N.J., May 27, 2009 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Newark on Saturday ordained 13 priests, the United States’ largest ordination class of 2009.

The men were ordained by Archbishop of Newark John J. Myers at a morning Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports.

Ten of the ordinands were foreign-born, with three from Colombia, two from Nigeria, and one each from Italy, Ecuador, South Korea, the Dominican Republic and Hungary.

Several of the foreign-born priests grew up in the United States.

Monsignor Robert Wister, a church historian at Seton Hall University, told the Star-Ledger that about one-third of the Catholics in the archdiocese are foreign born. About 40 percent are Latino.

“Just as the people have come from other countries, so a great number of seminarians have,” he said.

The newly ordained Rev. Matthew Dooley, 43, is a former funeral director, while the 34-year-old Rev. John Prada is a former laser surgery technician.

The average age of the class is just under 34.

Rev. Dooley said funeral work was much like a ministry and also kept him in regular contact with priests.

“So I had a particular priest who was unafraid to bring up the issue and initiated the discussion, and that did a lot to move me off the fence. It was enough to intensify my discernment,” he told the Star-Ledger.

The Archdiocese of Newark has two major seminaries: Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology in South Orange and Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary in Kearney.

The latter is associated with the Neo-Catechumenal Way, a lay Catholic movement. On average the seminary has produced five ordinands per year since its first graduating class in 1994.

In three of the past five years, the Archdiocese of Newark’s ordination class ranked the largest in the U.S. A reported 17 men were ordained in 2006, while 13 were ordained in 2007.

New Jersey’s other four Catholic dioceses are also ordaining priests this month. The Diocese of Camden has ordained two men, the Diocese of Metuchen has ordained three and the Diocese of Paterson has ordained seven. The Diocese of Trenton plans to ordain three men to the priesthood on Saturday.

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New ‘orthodox Anglican’ diocese forms in western U.S.

CNA STAFF, May 27, 2009 (CNA) - A group of Anglicans who have broken from the Episcopal Church have formed a new diocese in the western U.S. to “carry the banner of Anglican orthodoxy.”

The new Diocese of Western Anglicans includes California, Arizona, Montana, Idaho and Washington. Its 21 parishes claim an average Sunday attendance of 2,000 people. According to the California Catholic Daily, the parishes include former Episcopal parishes and some newly formed Anglican parishes.

The parishes formally asked for recognition by the Anglican Church of North America. A new bishop for the diocese will be elected by the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church of North America on June 20 and 21.

Rev. Bill Thompson, rector of All Saints’ Church in Long Beach, California told the Anglican website Virtue Online that his parish’s joining the new province was “a natural move for us.”

“We have moved from a fellowship to a diocese and this will give us a real identity," he said.

Rev. Thompson charged that the Episcopal Church had crossed “a bridge too far” for his fellow Anglicans in its move away from “the ‘faith once delivered’” and its official approval of “behaviors that are contrary to Scripture.”

"It was time to go,” he told Virtue Online. “We realize it is not without pain. There is a cost to discipleship and many of us are paying that price in litigation and more. But we are called to be faithful to our Lord first and foremost."

The clergyman said that whoever becomes bishop of the new diocese will continue as a priest in his parish.

“We are not anticipating setting up an independent diocesan headquarters," he explained.

The Provincial Assembly in June is scheduled to have a ratification vote for a draft constitution for the new diocese, the California Catholic Daily reports.

The draft says the members of the Association of Western Anglican Congregations are all “orthodox Anglican” congregations and hold to the “One, Holy, Apostolic and Catholic faith wherein Holy Scriptures contain all doctrine required as necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.”

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Archbishop of Dublin condemns ‘denial’ of abuse, warns of ‘last chance’ for renewal

Dublin, Ireland, May 27, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has addressed the recent report on physical and sexual abuse in Irish institutions, saying that the Church in Ireland must move out of “denial” and must never “water down” the suffering of abuse survivors. He warned that culpable religious orders face their “last chance” to renew their charism.

Writing Monday in an opinion essay in the Irish Times, the archbishop addressed the recently released Ryan report which exposed major abuse of students in industrial schools.

Noting the ineffectiveness of simple apologies, Archbishop Martin said that nonetheless “sorry” must “always be the first word.”

He said the Ryan report shocked him, but did not surprise him. The archbishop explained that as a student he had worked in a Dublin hostel for former industrial school residents. Later he had worked in a London center for ex-prisoners, many of whom had been Irish industrial school residents.

“Anyone who had contact with ex-residents of Irish industrial schools at that time knew that what those schools were offering was, to put it mildly, poor-quality childcare by the standards of the time. The information was there,” Archbishop Martin wrote in the Irish Times, noting that a clergyman and some journalists had tried to call attention to the abuse.

“The first thing the church has to do is to move out of any mode of denial,” he insisted. “That was the position for far too long and it is still there.”

The archbishop said that the Church had presented itself as different and more moral than other childcare institutions.

“Its record should have shown that and it did not. Ryan reveals church institutions where children were placed in the care of people with practically no morals,” he added.

He warned priests and religious not to let their “sense of shock” at what has happened to permit them to slip into a situation where they “feel themselves almost as the victims.”

“No one in the church must ever try to water down or reformulate the suffering of survivors. Let the survivors speak and tell their stories as they experienced them.”

Calling on the religious orders responsible for the institutions in which abuse occurred, he asked them directly:

“What happened that you drifted so far away from your own charism?”

The culpable orders’ credibility and survival, he said, depends on the honesty with which they examine themselves.

“People are angry and disillusioned,” he insisted.

Archbishop Martin said that somehow many had lost “the most essential dimension” of the life of followers of Jesus Christ.

“The Christian message is a message of love. What the Ryan commission recounts is sadly so very far removed from that. In Jesus’ eyes the poor deserve the best and they did not receive it here.”

He decried as “stunning” the orders’ incomplete response to an agreement with the government concerning abuse, criticizing the “poor excuse” about legal difficulties.

Calling for the religious orders to try to redeem their charism by supporting survivors and their families, the archbishop warned:

“In many ways it is your last chance to render honor to charismatic founders and to so many good members of your congregations who feel tarnished.”

Archbishop Martin closed his Irish Times essay by reporting that another report on the sexual abuse of children in the Archdiocese of Dublin will be released soon.

“It will not be easy reading,” he warned, saying that the sufferings of abuse victims will never be wiped away by new child protection measures.

“Let the truth, however, come out.”

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Follow St. Theodore's example to escape poverty and selfishness, Pope advises

Vatican City, May 27, 2009 (CNA) - In Wednesday's general audience, Pope Benedict XVI continued with his series of teachings on the great writers of the Eastern and Western Church by turning his attention today to St. Theodore the Studite, a Byzantine monk from the eighth century. Pope Benedict urged modern day Christians to follow the saint's example to combat poverty and to avoid spiritual self-centeredness.

Pope Benedict XVI began his weekly catechesis by telling the more than 15,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square about the early life of the great reformer of monastic life.

St. Theodore, the Pope recounted, was born in 759 to a noble and pious family and entered the monastery at the age of twenty-two.  But his life was far from a quiet one.

He vigorously opposed the iconoclastic movement and as a result, was put on trial and imprisoned. He died on November 11, 826 and is a saint both for the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Theodore, the Holy Father said, “characteristically insisted on the necessity of order and the monks submission to it.” "One of Theodore's basic convictions was that monks, more than others, have a commitment to observe Christian duties with greater rigor and intensity in order to offer a sign, an indication, to all Christians.”

Theodore also spoke of poverty, which is “from its outset a renunciation of all personal property, to learn how to live free from material things, in sobriety.”

The saint's teaching on poverty can be a lesson for the modern world, explained Benedict XVI. “We must not depend on property, we must learn to do without, we must learn simplicity, austerity, sobriety. Only in this way can we create a society of solidarity that is capable of overcoming the grave problem of global poverty,” the Pontiff said.

For Theodore, the Holy Father underscored, the main renunciation is in fact obedience, which he called the “martyrdom of submission.”

“Monks are an example to us all of how much we too are in need of this,” the Pontiff continued. “Many different currents are urging us towards a dangerous individualism and spiritual haughtiness.”

“Society cannot function if everyone only thinks of themselves,” Pope Benedict added. “Legality, in other words, submission and obedience to the rules of the common life and the common good, is the only thing that can heal a society, and ego itself, from the pride of being at the center of the world."

"For Theodore the Studite, one important virtue, equal to the virtues of obedience and humility, was 'philergia', that is, love for work,” Benedict XVI said. Theodore defined humility as “the criteria to test personal devotion” and “did not, then, allow monks, under the pretext of prayer or contemplation, to dispense themselves from work, which is in fact the means to discover God.”

“People who are fervent in work are also fervent in their spiritual obligations.” “A consequence merits mention: the wealth accumulated by community work was not destined for the monks but for the poor,” the Pope expounded.  “We all must learn from this.”

The Holy Father concluded by warning of the "numerous perils that today threaten the unity of the shared faith and push us towards a dangerous kind of spiritual individualism.” He added,” It is necessary to work to defend and develop the perfect unity of the Body of Christ, a unity in which the peace of order and sincere personal relationships in the Spirit can come together harmoniously."

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Priest with a ‘missionary spirit' like Saint Paul to become bishop of Allentown

Allentown, Pa., May 27, 2009 (CNA) - A Delaware priest who was baptized by Bishop Fulton Sheen in 1960 has been named the new Bishop of Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Bishop-elect John Oliver Barres will succeed Bishop Edward Cullen, 76, whose resignation was accepted by the Holy Father after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75.

Bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington W. Francis Malooly addressed the faithful in Allentown saying that they will receive a bishop with “a missionary spirit not unlike Saint Paul.”

"He is always looking to see how he can invite others to experience the Lord in their lives. You will quickly discover why, for twenty years of priesthood, he has been one of the most loved and respected priests of our diocese. We are saddened to lose his ministry here in Wilmington."

Born in Port Chester, New York in 1960, Msgr. Barres was baptized by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in the same year.  His parents had converted to Catholicism only five years earlier after spending years studying to become Protestant ministers, according to the Diocese of Wilmington.

After receiving degrees at both Princeton and New York University Graduate School of Business Administration, Barres studied theology at Catholic University of America as well as the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. 

He was ordained a priest in 1989, and served as an associate pastor before completing further studies in Rome.  Upon returning to the United States, the bishop-elect served as Chancellor for the Diocese of Wilmington.

Cardinal Justin Rigali of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia also released a statement following Msgr. Barres new appointment.  “I warmly welcome Bishop-elect Barres to the Province of Philadelphia, which is composed of the dioceses of the State of Pennsylvania. I am confident that he will be warmly welcomed by the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Allentown as their new shepherd."

Bishop-elect Barres will be installed in his new diocese on July 30 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  He will serve nearly 300,000 Catholics and 279 priests.

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Holy Father says Church offers solution to society's ‘loss of belonging’

Vatican City, May 27, 2009 (CNA) - Individualism and a loss of a sense of belonging are becoming more and more prominent in modern society, Pope Benedict said on Tuesday as he urged a greater understanding of what it means to belong to the Church.

The Pope made his remarks yesterday evening in the basilica of St. John Lateran, cathedral of Rome, where he inaugurated the ecclesial congress of the Diocese of Rome. The congress, which is due to last until May 29, has as its theme: "Church membership and pastoral co-responsibility."

The Holy Father addressed the gathering and began by calling on ecclesial movements to work in harmony with the diocese, with "a true sense of belonging to the Church."

Lay people, the Pope said, need to redouble their commitment to "not merely to be collaborators of the clergy" but to shoulder their own specific responsibilities in the life of the Church.

One of the erroneous tendencies that has surfaced is one of identifying the Church with her hierarchy while forgetting that everyone is part of her "from the Pope to the most recently baptized." Another faulty way of thinking that the Pope singled out is that of conceiving of the People of God in sociological and political terms, while overlooking the novelty of the Church.

In the same vein, those who see the Second Vatican Council as a break in the continuity of Church tradition, are also in error, Pope Benedict stressed.

The Pope then invited young people "to experience the beauty of being Church" in a world where individualism reigns and a sense of belonging is being lost.

The Holy Father also proposed creating missionary groups in the workplace, where many people spend most of their time, and highlighted the need for "adequate pastoral care on environment issues."

Recalling then how many baptized people do not feel they form part of the ecclesial community and that few lay people, though they call themselves Catholic, are ready to work in the various fields of pastoral activity, the Holy Father encouraged pastors to favor a climate of spiritual and apostolic growth in their flock and to reach out to the population of Rome.

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Christian organization in Barcelona denounces attacks by abortion supporters

Barcelona, Spain, May 27, 2009 (CNA) - The headquarters of the organization E-Cristians was attacked on Tuesday morning by abortion supporters who covered the walls with anti-life graffiti.

E-Cristians denounced the attacks as an attempt to “prevent free expression” and warned the acts of vandalism are an expression of violence inappropriate for a “democratic society.”

The group noted that this was the “second attack in recent days in Barcelona. The first was against a church.”

E-Cristians has called on local government officials to issue a warning to try to prevent further violent acts from taking place.

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Minnesota Catholics receive new shepherd

St. Paul, Minn., May 27, 2009 (CNA) - The Catholics in Minneapolis and St. Paul received a gift from Pope Benedict today when the Vatican announced that the Pope has appointed Father Lee Piché as an auxiliary bishop for the more than 850,000 faithful in the area.

Bishop-elect Piché replaces the Most Reverend Richard E. Pates, who was installed as the Bishop of the Diocese of Des Moines in May of 2008. The bishop-elect’s ordination will be on June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, in St. Paul Cathedral.

"I am honored and humbled by the Holy Father’s confidence in me," Piché said of his appointment. "This is a great Archdiocese, with many blessed and talented individuals, parishes, and institutions, and with some significant challenges, too. I am grateful to God for calling me to serve in this way. Since receiving this news, I have been praying that God will strengthen me to be faithful in the ministry of bishop."

"It will be a privilege for me to offer another kind of assistance to Archbishop Nienstedt, whom I have come to admire and respect greatly during my time as Vicar General. He works hard and communicates well, often, and clearly. You always know where you stand with him. He will be a good mentor for me," Piché stated, according to a press release from the archdiocese.

Archbishop John Nienstedt praised the Holy Father’s selection of Bishop-elect Piché, "I have been praying every day, sometimes several times a day, for a good and holy assistant and my prayers have been answered. Bishop-elect Piché is one of the most respected priests in the Archdiocese. He has been a successful pastor of several large parishes and has served with distinction as Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General. I look forward to ministering with him in meeting the pastoral needs of this great and vibrant Archdiocese."

"I have watched Archbishop Nienstedt working very hard to keep up with the relentless requests and heavy demands on his time – doing work that was previously done by three bishops – and many of us in the chancery have been praying every day for the arrival of an auxiliary bishop to take some of the load of confirmations and other engagements. I just never expected that those prayers would be answered in exactly this way," Piché said.

A native of Minneapolis, Piché attended the Saint Paul Seminary for his theological formation and was ordained a priest in 1984 at the Cathedral of Saint Paul. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Theology from the Saint Paul Seminary, and a Master of Philosophy degree from Columbia University in New York.

Son of LeRoy and Cecilia Piché of New Brighton, MN, he is the eldest of seven children. Three of his four brothers and his two sisters live in the Twin Cities; one brother lives in Fresno, CA. He is uncle to sixteen nephews and five nieces.

Bishop-elect Piché will help serve 852,000 lay people, 484 priests, 217 permanent deacons and 1,142 religious.

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Year of Priests to help rediscover beauty and identity of the priest

Vatican City, May 27, 2009 (CNA) - The Cognregation for the Clergy has issued a letter to the bishops of the world noting that the Year of Priests, decreed by Pope Benedict XVI to take place June 19, 2009 through June 19, 2010, is an occasion for “rediscovering the beauty and importance of the priesthood and the ordained,” as well as for promoting vocations.

The letter signed by the Congregation’s prefect Cardinal Claudio Hummes invites bishops to utilize the Year of Priests as an opportunity to raise awareness among “the entire holy people of God: consecrated men and women, Christian families, those who suffer, and above all, young people who are so sensitive to great ideals lived out with authentic courage and constant fidelity.”

Likewise, the cardinal writes, the Year of Priests will be a privileged occasion “for a theological-spiritual deepening and pastoral ministry, of benefit first of all to priests themselves, called to renew their awareness of their own identity, and consequently, to reinvigorate the missionary zeal that springs forth from divine intimacy, from ‘being’ with the Lord.”

After encouraging the use of the media to announce the Year of Priests and the resources at www.clerus.org, the cardinal urges priests to remember that the initiative by Benedict XVI is an event that “should be experienced above all as an interior renewal in the joyous rediscovery of one’s own identity, of the fraternity of the priesthood and of the sacramental relationship with one’s own bishop.”

Cardinal Hummes also reported that during the Year of Priests a new Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors will be published, as well as a collection of texts by Benedict XVI on certain essential aspects of the life and mission of priests in today’s world.

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Paya denounces prison conditions for members of Varela Project

Havana, Cuba, May 27, 2009 (CNA) - The leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya, denounced the inhuman conditions at the federal prison in Pinar del Rio, where Varela Project member Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona is incarcerated and has been on a hunger strike since May 15 to protest the poor treatment.

In a recent press release, Paya said that Arroyo Carmona, a journalist and promoter of the Varela Project, was “unjustly condemned to 26 years in prison in April of 2003. His protest is over the lack of medical care, the overcrowding of 130 prisoners in a single hallway for months, the denial of chaplain visits and the cruel and degrading treatment to which he is subjected.”

After noting that Arroyo Carmona is “allowed to see the sun just once per month,” Paya reported that “while he was confined to the hellish [Cuban] prison in Guantanamo, Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona was on a hunger strike for 25 days to protest the same inhumane conditions there. Both at the Guantanamo prison and the prison at Pinar del Rio…as well as at so many other Cuban prisons, the conditions in which prisoners are keep and the treatment they receive constitute true torture.”

Given this treatment, Paya called on “the entire international community and especially Cubans to demand the liberation of Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona and of all prisoners of conscience being held in Cuban prisons, to thus defend their freedom and their lives.”

“Let all Cubans remember that if Victor Rolando Arroyo Carmona and all peaceful Cuban political prisoners are unjustly incarcerated in inhumane conditions, it is for peacefully defending the rights and dignity of Cubans themselves,” Paya said.

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Dialogue between faith and reason fundamental, says archbishop about Galileo case

Rome, Italy, May 27, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Giuseppe Betori of Florence said this week the dialogue between faith and reason is essential, especially in relation to the Galileo case, in order to overcome this “painful misunderstanding.”

The archbishop’s comments came on the eve of the International Congress “Galileo 2009,” which will bring together experts to discuss the issue from an historical, philosophical and theological point of view May 27-29.

“Often this ‘painful misunderstanding’ is interpreted erroneously as ‘a reflection of a substantial opposition between science and faith.’ My hope is that this event shows that this opinion is unfounded,” the archbishop said.

Archbishop Betori expressed hope that “the celebration of the international year of astronomy and the memory of the life, work and genius of Galileo” would lead to a greater understanding of the importance of “the fundamental dialogue between faith and reason” and a “permanent and constructive collaboration between the Church and the institutions of scientific research, economic development and social promotion.”

“Faith,” he said, “does not grow with the rejection of rationality, but is rather inserted into a wider horizon of rationality.”

The archbishop went on to explain that “reason itself, without faith, runs the risk of being reduced to a calculation and to the exclusive assessment of conflict of interests, often blind to essential questions, fundamental values, dramatic and human situations.”

For this reason, the archbishop asserted, “Dialogue between faith and reason must continue.” Nature, with all of its complexity, and the rapidly changing developments in scientific research and technology “demand interior freedom and good will on the part of all, believers and non-believers alike,” he said.

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Archbishop-elect of Toledo rejects abortion as 'just another form of contraception'

Toledo, Spain, May 27, 2009 (CNA) - In comments this week about the Spanish government’s proposal to overhaul the country’s abortion laws, Archbishop-elect Braulio Rodriguez Plaza of Toledo said abortion could not be considered “just another form of contraception” and that the practice points to “a failure in the sexual education of Spaniards.”

In an interview with the Toledo daily “La Tribuna,” the newly appointed archbishop said the government is not open to any criticism of the new proposals and that he is convinced there has been a failure to adequately educate Spaniards in the area of sexuality.  “The government has failed because unwanted pregnancies are not dropping and thus other solutions need to be found.  Abortion cannot be considered just another form of contraception,” he said.

“I think this can’t be ignored by the government, but they have dug in, and I don’t know why. I would like to know why abortion is being portrayed as a huge problem in Spanish society that must be addressed immediately, when there are other more serious problems,” the archbishop-elect added.

In the interview, Archbishop-elect Rodriguez said his appointment to the Archdiocese of Toledo was a “vote of confidence” from the Pope and that it is not like a political appointment in which the post is taken the next day. It has a different timetable, he said.

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Prop. 8 supporters pledge to ‘vigorously oppose’ federal lawsuits

Sacramento, Calif., May 27, 2009 (CNA) - As news comes that two prominent lawyers have challenged Proposition 8, pro-family supporters say they will “vigorously oppose” any further efforts in state and federal courts to invalidate or weaken the successful 2008 California ballot measure which restored the definition of marriage to being between a man and a woman.

On Tuesday the California Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Prop. 8 by a 6-1 vote.

ProtectMarriage.com, the group representing supporters of Proposition 8, said in a statement that it would “vigorously oppose” any further state and federal court efforts to invalidate the law.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, who served in the George W. Bush administration, and David Boies, a prominent lawyer who represented Al Gore in the legal fight following the 2000 presidential election, have filed a preliminary injunction in federal court calling for an injunction on the California Supreme Court decision.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the two filed suit on Friday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California arguing that Prop. 8 makes homosexuals “second-class citizens” and violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection guarantees.

Olsen and Boies are co-counsels for the lawsuit, which is the first project of a new organization called American Foundation for Equal Rights.

ProtectMarriage.com said that efforts to legalize same-sex “marriage” must now “go to the people and seek their permission—something they have never done.”

Andrew Pugno, chief counsel for the group, reacted to news of the lawsuit by saying, "Just one day after the California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, the will of the voters is under attack once again.  This new federal lawsuit, brought by a pair of prominent but socially liberal lawyers, has very little chance of succeeding.  But we will take it seriously and take action to provide a vigorous defense of Prop 8, just as we did in the California courts.”

Ron Prentice, Chairman of the ProtectMarriage.com Executive Committee said the group will change focus to the long-term goal of protecting marriage and strengthening family values.

“We will now turn our attention to public education and outreach so that citizens come to better understand and appreciate the many benefits that traditional marriage provides for society and our families,” Prentice said.

“The institution of marriage as we have always understood it has served California and our broader society since the nation was founded. We look forward to working with young people, churches, ethnic communities and all of California with an ongoing discussion about the benefits of traditional marriage.”

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