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Archive of May 31, 2009

Daughters of St. Paul launch play in India about the Apostle

Mumbai, India, May 31, 2009 (CNA) - The Daughters of St. Paul in India have launched a project using theater to evangelize in the Indian metropolises of Vasai and Mumbai in the west-central state of Maharashtra.

The sisters wrote a dramatic script in the local dialect, Marathi, for a play titled “Parivartan Shaulacha,” meaning “The Conversion of St. Paul.”

According to Fides, the effort was launched in honor of the close of the Pauline Year on June 29.

Various lay Catholics and qualified artists helped the Daughters of St. Paul organize performances of the play, which will continue in Vasai and later be held in Mumbai.

The lead actor, playing Paul, was reported to have performed “with great intensity.”

According to Fides, the project shows the work of Paul and his love for Christ Crucified. The play has been useful in promoting vocations and evangelization. It has also attracted the interest of the youth.

Together with the Pauline religious orders, the Archdiocese of Mumbai has organized various study seminars and prayer encounters. The Year of St. Paul has reportedly been a time of dialogue and mission for the Catholics of India seeking to bring the Gospel to those who do not know about the Christian message.

Other initiatives in India include a new version of the Bible that features the contributions of numerous Indian experts and theologians, Fides says. The Bible, published by the Saint Paul Society, includes commentaries, notes and references to Indian culture to make it more accessible to Indian readers.

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Kmiec and Robert George disagree on how to deal with Obama and abortion

Washington D.C., May 31, 2009 (CNA) - Prof. Doug W. Kmiec of Pepperdine University and Prof. Robert P. George of Princeton University debated at the National Press Club on Thursday about the role of Catholics in politics and whether pro-life concerns should encourage support for or opposition to President Barack Obama.

Kmiec, a law professor and prominent Catholic supporter of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, argued that President Obama would implement policies to reduce abortions, and that he offered sound political positions on other important issues.

George, a law professor and a Republican member of the President’s Council on Bioethics, contended that President Obama really did not believe abortion to be a moral evil and did not believe in the human equality of the unborn.
Kmiec began his remarks by praising what he saw as President Obama’s ability to seek “common ground” and his exploration of whether common ground on disputed abortion policy can in fact exist.

Stressing that he considered “unacceptable” moral evasions about the immorality of abortion or the injustice of permissive abortion laws, he cited Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae,” about support for political proposals to lessen the negative consequences of abortion.

Intent is a “key element” in supporting such proposals, he said.

“Are we as Catholics expected to sit on the sidelines, aloof with our truth, talking among ourselves, reinforcing our goodness, or are we to engage our fellow citizens and indeed offer that gift of the truth of the human person… in matters of election and of public policy?” Kmiec asked rhetorically.

“Catholics must translate their faith tradition into understandable terms and offer it to their fellow citizens,” he advised.

Noting what he saw as President Obama’s praiseworthy positions, Kmiec said the president sought to end a war that leading prelates of Catholic Church had “pleaded” with President Bush not to enter. Kmiec said Obama seeks to be “a steward of the environment,” seeks to reform the health care system, and will “welcome the stranger” on immigration issues.

“And yet there is the issue of abortion. How to handle that question?” Kmiec continued.

Kmiec argued a Catholic may vote for an abortion supporter for “proportionate reasons,” so long there is “no active intent to advance the intrinsic evil of abortion.”

He said that National Institutes of Health draft regulations on embryonic stem cell research demonstrate that Obama is “listening” even “without agreeing with us.” Specifically, Kmiec praised the Obama administration’s funding of adult stem cell research and its decision not to use altered nuclear transfer/human cloning techniques to produce embryonic stem cells.

Kmiec also denounced as “intimidation” the proposed or actual denial of Holy Communion to abortion rights supporters such as Vice President Joseph Biden or former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. He argued this was “not an effective or Catholic approach.”

“The Church is not a political party and it can never find itself captured by a political party,” Kmiec concluded his opening remarks. “It is wrong to make the perfect the enemy of good, justice the enemy of love and, quite frankly, wrong not to recognize the good heart and genuine respect for life in someone coming from a point of view that is not necessarily the one that we ourselves have indulged in the past.”

Prof. George began by saying that he does not question the president’s sincerity when he speaks about human rights.

However, he claimed President Obama “does not understand the concept of human rights, as Professor Kmiec and I do, to refer to rights—above all the right to life—that all human beings possess simply by virtue of our humanity. For the President, being human is not enough to qualify someone as the bearer of a right to life.”

He characterized this as an idea foundational to the president’s position on abortion.

George referred to Obama’s opposition to the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, saying that the president denied the “fundamental equality” of the child left unprotected because of his opposition to the law as an Illinois legislator.

“He has made clear his own conviction that the equality of women depends on denying the equality and rights of the children they carry. He has made what is, from the pro-life point of view, the tragic error of supposing that the equality of one class of human beings can and must be purchased by denial of the equality of another.”

George suggested that some of Obama’s supporters do not serve him well by “pretending” that his expressed willingness to find “common ground” with pro-lifers involves the recognition that abortion or embryo-destructive research is “bad or tragic because it kills a living member of the human family.”

Obama does not profess to be “personally opposed” to abortion or to believe that abortion is a wrongful act that must nevertheless be legally permitted because the consequences of outlawing it would be worse, George claimed.

“His belief, and his policy, is that abortion, if a woman chooses it, is not wrong. That is why he is not personally opposed to it. There is no wrong there to oppose,” he charged, citing the president’s past presentation of abortion as the “right solution to a problem” in which otherwise a woman might be, in Obama’s words, “punished with a baby.”

George then suggested that Obama views abortion as no more bad or wrong than a knee replacement operation:

“No one regards knee operations as desirable for their own sakes…. But a knee operation is not something that one would discourage or be personally opposed to.”

George attacked the “common ground” claim that Obama wants to reduce the number of abortions. He reported that pro-life activist Wendy Wright, meeting with the Director of the President’s Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes, was told that the precise goal of the administration is to “reduce the need for abortions,” not reduce the number of abortions.

This was echoed by Obama’s speech at Notre Dame, George claimed, when the president didn’t propose reducing the number of abortions; rather, the president said he would work to reduce “the number of women seeking abortions.”

“The President and his administration will not join us on the common ground of discouraging women from having abortions or even in encouraging them to choose childbirth over abortion. The proposed common ground is the reduction of unwanted pregnancies—not discouraging those in ‘need’ of abortion from having them.”

“The President and the people he has placed in charge of this issue, such as Melody Barnes, have a deep ideological commitment to the idea that there is nothing actually wrong with abortion, because the child in the womb simply has no rights.”

Because of his view of abortion the president “is utterly and intransigently unwilling to support even efforts short of prohibiting abortion that would plainly reduce the number of abortions.”

“On issue of embryonic stem cell research, Obama revoked President Bush’s executive order promoting research to advance non-embryo-destructive sources of pluripotent stem cells,” he added.

“The common ground I am interested in is with pro-life Americans who, like Professor Kmiec, have supported the President politically,” George’s remarks oncluded.

“On which issues will we support the President’s direction, and on which will we challenge him because he is heading in the wrong direction? Those pro-life Americans who voted for him and support him should not object when we speak for the most vulnerable and defenseless of our fellow human beings, even when that means severely criticizing the President’s policies. They should stand with us on common ground, and join their voices with ours.”

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Holy Spirit makes the Church more than a humanitarian agency, Pope teaches

Vatican City, May 31, 2009 (CNA) - After celebrating the Mass of Pentecost in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI addressed a crowd of at least 30,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The Holy Father told the faithful that the Holy Spirit is the “soul” of the Church and that without the Holy Spirit, the Church would only be a “humanitarian agency.”

“In truth many regard the Church in this way because they observe it from outside the viewpoint of the Faith,” Pope Benedict explained. “Yet in reality, its true nature and its real historic presence has ceaselessly been guided and formed by the Holy Spirit and by the Lord.”

“The Church is a living body, whose vitality is, exactly the fruit of the invisible, Divine Spirit.”

The Pope recalled that this year, the Solemnity of Pentecost falls on the day in which the universal Church celebrates the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, May 31, and inspired by this coincidence, he spoke of the youth of Mary and of the Church.

“The young Mary, who is carrying Christ in her womb, forgets herself to run to the aid of others. She is a wonderful icon for the Church in the perennial youth of the Holy Spirit, the Missionary Church of the Word Incarnate, called to bring it to the world and witness it particularly through charity,” the Pope reflected.

“Let us invoke the intercession of Mary, most Holy, so the Church of our time may be continually strengthened by the Holy Spirit,” he urged.

The Pope also prayed for those Christians who are being persecuted, saying,“May the ecclesial communities who suffer persecution for Christ feel the comforting presence of the Paraclete, so that by participating in the Lord’s suffering they may receive in abundance the Spirit of Glory.”

Following the Regina Coeli prayer, the Pontiff spoke of the young people of Italy’s Abruzzo region who will mark a regional Youth Day soon. “In communion with the young people of that land that was badly hit by the earthquake (last month),” he said, “we ask the Risen Christ to send upon them his Spirit of consolation and of hope.”

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Pro-life movement decries murder of Kansas late-term abortion provider

Wichita, Kan., May 31, 2009 (CNA) - Prominent voices of the pro-life movement have repudiated the murder of the late-term abortion provider George Tiller, who was shot and killed Sunday morning at a Wichita Lutheran church.

Tiller was shot dead by an unidentified assailant shortly after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Wichita. The 67-year-old was one of the few U.S. physicians who still performed late-term abortions in the country.

Troy Newman, President of the Kansas-based Operation Rescue said in a statement that his organization “has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning. We pray for Mr. Tiller's family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ."

Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List -a nationwide network of Americans dedicated to representing pro-life women in politics-  also condemned "this anti-life act in the strongest of terms."

"The heart of the pro-life movement is one founded in love. Without this driving powerful center no justice can possibly be achieved. Authentic progress in women's rights has always encompassed the protection of human rights of every person across the board. The rights of one human being can never be honored by diminishing or ignoring the rights of another. This week as we gather for our annual June Tea event, themed Love Lets Live, we will lift up George Tiller's loved ones in prayer," Dannenfelser said.

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, expressed his sadness at hearing of George Tiller's murder.

"At this point, we do not know the motives of this act, or who is behind it, whether an angry post- abortive man or woman, or a misguided activist, or an enemy within the abortion industry, or a political enemy frustrated with the way Tiller has escaped prosecution. We should not jump to conclusions or rush to judgment."

"But whatever the motives," Pavone emphasized, "we at Priests for Life continue to insist on a culture in which violence is never seen as the solution to any problem. Every life has to be protected, without regard to their age or views or actions."

Shaun Kenney, executive director of American Life League, explained that leaders within the pro-life movement "often discuss justice in connection with our mission to end the tragedy of abortion. Today, Dr. George Tiller's life ended in an act defying those principles."
"With genuine sorrow, we reflect on today's events in prayer. Justice for all human beings includes the lives of those with whom we fundamentally disagree as well as the victims of abortion. We firmly hope the perpetrators of this act are apprehended, that the facts be made known, and that justice according to the law is preserved and dispensed," Kenney said.

Rev. Patrick Mahoney, a former national spokesperson for Operation Rescue  who had just completed leading two weeks of prayer vigils in Wichita during the latest trial of Dr. Tiller, also denounced the shooting, and said that he and other pro-life leaders will hold a news conference in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday "to discuss the impact the shooting of Dr. George Tiller will have on the pro-life movement and the Supreme Court."

Tiller began providing abortion services in 1973 but during the 80's became one of the most prominent and vocal late-term abortionists.

In 1991, his abortion clinic was the center of the "Summer of Mercy" protests organized by Operation Rescue. The protests drew thousands of pro-life  activists to Wichita for peaceful demonstrations marked by civil disobedience and mass arrests.

After the protests, Tiller kept mostly to his heavily guarded clinic, but remained prominent in the news. In 1993, Tiller was shot in both arms by a protestor.

Tiller was a significant donor to the political campaigns of the former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, the  pro-abortion Catholic recently appointed as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Tiller contributed to Sebelius directly and to political action committees that he controlled. During Sebelius' tenure as governor, Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann declared that Kansas had become "infamous for being the late-term abortion center for the Midwest."

Sebelius repeatedly vetoed legislation that would have affected Tiller's business.

According to the Wichita Police Department, a 51-year-old suspect was arrested three hours after the shooting about 170 miles from Wichita. 

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