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Archive of June 2, 2009

Abortion ‘absolutists’ blocking bill to support pregnant women, pro-life Dem says

Washington D.C., Jun 2, 2009 (CNA) - Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, has criticized the lack of support among the more “absolutist” Democratic supporters of abortion rights for a bill that aims to reduce the number of abortions by helping pregnant women. Day claimed the bill’s opponents think the bill “goes too far toward common ground.”

Day authored a May 22 essay in Newsday, titled “Is there a middle on abortion?”, explaining the provisions of the Pregnant Women Support Act (PWSA) and the proposed legislation’s political reception.

A “minority of Democrats on the pro-choice side” object to a provision requiring that abortion providers offer women the voluntary option of receiving pre-abortion counseling to learn of the risks associated with abortion, Day said.

“The opposition may even extend to objecting to the bill's providing pregnant women much-needed financial support,” Day wrote in her Newsday.com essay.

Describing the PWSA, Day said the bill would lead to fewer abortions and provide more support for women to carry their pregnancies to term.

The proposal would prohibit health insurance issuers from discriminating against a woman by classifying a pregnancy as a pre-existing condition. It would allocate more funds to campaigns against domestic violence targeting pregnant women, some of whom are “forced to undergo abortions” because of threats by the violent father of their child, she explained.

The bill would provide grants to colleges and universities for pregnant and parenting student services to help women and mothers finish school. Additionally, PWSA would increase support for food stamps for new parents and amend the tax code to increase the adoption tax credit.

Day reported that opponents’ biggest objection to PWSA was that “pregnancy-prevention measures” such as family planning services for the poor and “medically accurate” sex education programs about contraception are not funded by the bill.

She said that sponsors left such proposals out of the PWSA because they are addressed in bills such as the Prevention First Act.

Despite opposition from “absolutists” on the side of abortion rights, Day said that many are attracted to the legislation and want to expand it. However, she explained that efforts to merge teen pregnancy prevention, sex education and more funding for contraception programs failed in the 110th Congress and “detracted from the central premise” the PWSA, which Day characterized as “a comprehensive effort to address the needs of pregnant women.”

In a Monday phone interview, CNA asked Day to expand on her comments about pro-choice “absolutists” who think the PWSA goes too far towards common ground.

“A lot of people don’t want the abortion debate to be settled because it keeps people in business,” she said. “To actually solve this great problem, people don’t want to move in that direction. Or they want an ‘all-or-nothing’ approach. Some people just want to ban abortions, but don’t work towards reducing it.”

“It’s the same on the other side. Any compromise goes too far.”

Day told CNA that to her knowledge President Obama has not personally been asked to support the PWSA.

“We’re talking to the administration on a regular basis and whenever we do we bring it up,” she explained. “We’re very hopeful that we can get the support of the White House. The indications are moving that way.”

She cited President Obama’s comments at Notre Dame about more support for pregnant women as one such indication.

Asked about Congressional leaders’ views of PWSA, Day explained that DFLA had been talking to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid’s office. She told CNA there were “good indications” from them.

“They’re looking into the bill,” she reported, noting that in the last Congress, House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) was a co-sponsor of the bill.

PWSA supporters were concentrating on building “bipartisan support” in the House especially, Day said.

“If you simply have a Democratic bill with only pro-choice Democrats on board, that’s not common ground,” Day said. “What we’ve built here is really a common ground proposal.”

“If we are serious about reducing abortion and helping actually end it we have to step in and look at the value of life,” she continued, saying the bill took into account measures which have successfully reduced the number of abortions.

Day told CNA that one part of the bill would help direct women to a 1-800 number to secure assistance. A similar program in Michigan helped reduce the abortion rate by 11 percent, she reported.

“The lower numbers we have, the better. Even if we cut the abortion rate in half, that is a lot of lives we're saving.

“If we are serious about most vulnerable, we need to use money to do it.” she said, then posing the question: “What is the value of life?”

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Catholic bishops condemn Tiller slaying

Washington D.C., Jun 2, 2009 (CNA) - Several Catholic bishops have denounced the shooting of the abortion doctor George Tiller, offering their prayers for Tiller and his family while reiterating that the pro-life position can never serve as a justification for crimes.

Bishop of Wichita Michael O. Jackels said in a statement that the Catholic community extends sympathy to Tiller’s family. Bishop Jackels said that the violent crime against Tiller was made “even more heinous” by being committed in a church as he was preparing to worship.

“Many Catholics have over the years engaged in peaceful protest outside of Dr. Tiller’s clinic, praying for an end to abortion, and especially late-term abortions; I have on occasion joined them for this purpose. This position and hope cannot however serve as a justification for committing other sins and crimes, like the willful destruction of property and, even worse, murder.”

“It is my prayer that the Tiller family find consolation, that Dr. George Tiller find mercy and the fulfillment of the great hope of Christians, and that all will find peaceful and legal means to resolve differences,” Bishop Jackels said.

Archbishop of Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali also responded to the crime. Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, the cardinal said the USCCB and its members “have repeatedly and publicly denounced all forms of violence in our society, including abortion as well as the misguided resort to violence by anyone opposed to abortion.”

"Such killing is the opposite of everything we stand for, and everything we want our culture to stand for: respect for the life of each and every human being from its beginning to its natural end. We pray for Dr. Tiller and his family."

Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput, a Kansas native, was joined by the Kansas-born Auxiliary Bishop of Denver James D. Conley in a Monday statement on the murder.

"The violence at the heart of every abortion and the abortion industry itself will never be ended by counter-violence. The killing of George Tiller is an inexcusable crime that cuts against everything pro-life Americans, and especially religious believers, stand for,” the two prelates said.

"We pray for Dr. Tiller and his family and for an end to the culture of violence that this country seems unable to escape. We ask Catholics across Colorado to do the same."

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Prayers collected for bishops who opposed Obama invitation

Manassas, Va., Jun 2, 2009 (CNA) - The Cardinal Newman Society has announced that it has begun sending “Spiritual Bouquet Certificates” of hundreds of thousands of prayers to the 83 bishops who publicly opposed the University of Notre Dame’s commencement invitation to President Barack Obama.

The “bouquets” consists of hundreds of thousands of prayers, primarily from people who had signed the Cardinal Newman Society’s (CNS) petition opposing the invitation. They include over 116,000 Mass intentions, 74,900 Divine Mercy chaplets, 146,000 Rosaries and 28,000 Days of Fasting.

Certificates for the bouquet read “On behalf of the members and staff of The Cardinal Newman Society and the more than 367,000 faithful who signed the petition at NotreDameScandal.com, this spiritual bouquet is made on the twenty-ninth day of May Anno Domini Nostri Jesu Christi two thousand and nine in grateful appreciation to the Church’s shepherds who prayerfully provided witness for a strong Catholic identity on Catholic campuses.”

Priests reportedly offered 2,272 Masses for the bishops.

A CNS press release said the prayers were offered in thanksgiving for the bishops’ “inspiring witness to the importance of Catholic Identity.” The society had requested the prayers on Ascension Thursday, May 21 and sent them to the bishops on Friday, May 29 before Pentecost Sunday.

“Our bishops deserve our support and prayers for their defense of Catholic identity, and as the battle for the soul of Catholic campuses continues, the bishops will need them more than ever,” remarked CNS president Patrick J. Reilly.

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American cardinal retires from Vatican post

Vatican City, Jun 2, 2009 (CNA) - The Vatican announced this morning that the Pope has accepted the resignation of 77-year-old Cardinal James Francis Stafford, the former Archbishop of Denver, from his post as the Penitentiary Major. He will be replaced by Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli, the current apostolic nuncio to France.

As head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Cardinal Stafford has dealt with matters related to sin, mercy and forgiveness. The Penitentiary is one of the three tribunals within the Holy See, and according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, is divided into two sections. The first section deals with the granting of indulgences, while the second is dedicated to resolving sins reserved to the Pope and matters of conscience forwarded to the Holy See.

The Cardinal in charge of the Penitentiary also assists the Pope during Jubilee years and prays certain prayers with the Pope while he is dying.

Recent indulgences granted by the Penitentiary include one for participants at World Youth Day in Sydney, one for the Year of St. Paul and one for the Year of Priests.

Cardinal Stafford has also been outspoken about his view of the election of President Barack Obama.

In a speech he gave at Catholic University of America, he described Obama as "aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic" and went on to speak about a decline in respect for human life and the need for Catholics to return to the values of marriage and human dignity.

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Spaniards reject abortion without parental consent

Madrid, Spain, Jun 2, 2009 (CNA) - New polling data shows that almost two-thirds of Spaniards reject the government’s proposal to reform the country's existing abortion law to allow minors to undergo the procedure without parental consent.
 
According to an article in El Pais, a poll carried out on May 27 and 28 revealed that “64 percent of Spaniards oppose abortion for minors without the consent of an adult.”
 
“Sixty seven percent of female respondents said they were against allowing 16 and 17 year-olds to obtain abortions without the knowledge of their parents,” the article added.
 
Spanish pro-life groups pointed out that “teens are not prepared to confront the physical and psychological consequences of these kinds of decisions.”  The government of Jose Luis Zapatero alleges that “if 16 year-old girls can get any other medical treatment without parental consent, abortion should not be an exception.”
 
The overhaul of the country’s abortion laws, which must be approved by Congress, also proposes “abortion on demand until the fourteenth week of pregnancy, and beyond that according to medical review.”

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Dominicans pray for lawmakers who support abortion

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jun 2, 2009 (CNA) - At the conclusion of Mass on Sunday in all parishes in Santo Domingo, a list of names was read of the lawmakers who supported overturning the country's law protecting the unborn. Priests and the faithful “held a minute of silence for each one of them and their families and prayed they would reflect on their decision.”

Prayers were also said for all children who for whatever natural reason died before birth and for mothers and fathers who did not allow their children to live because they chose abortion.

Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo sent a message for Mother’s Day—celebrated in the Dominican Republic on Pentecost Sunday—in which he praised “mothers who have honored there femininity by accepting the marvelous gift of maternity.”

In his message, which was read in the 250 parishes of the archdiocese, the cardinal said, “There are great women in our nation at all levels who are proud of their femininity.”

“I have met and worked with them during almost 50 years of priestly and episcopal ministry, and among them there are women of great intellectual prestige, business leaders and officials, public and private employees, self-sacrificing stay-at-home mothers,” he said.

The cardinal also praised women who live and work in the rural areas of the country for the “simple yet admirable way in which they are open to life and undergo great sacrifices and hardships to educate their sons and daughters.”

“The same could be said of so many mothers who live amidst poverty and precarious living conditions in the big cities, where they stand out for their endurance, faithfulness to work, love of the family and piety,” he added.

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Mexican archbishop reminds polticians of Church's support for human rights

Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 2, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Rafael Romo Munoz of Tijuana admonished candidates in Mexico’s upcoming local and national elections that “any proposal they promote that goes against human rights will be opposed by the Catholic Church.”

The archbishop reminded the faithful who will be going to the polls that, as Christians, “We have the right to defend life,” and that they should “seek out leaders who pursue the growth of the country in every sense through paths of justice and peace.”

Likewise, the Archbishop of Tijuana called on voters to “analyze the proposals of each candidate with a critical eye before casting their ballots.”

He also reminded candidates that they will not be allowed to "engage in campaigning in any church.”

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President Obama declares June ‘LGBT Pride Month’

Washington D.C., Jun 2, 2009 (CNA) - In a Monday proclamation, President Barack Obama declared June 2009 to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, outlining his plan to advance homosexual political concerns.

Instead of acknowledging those who disagree with his stance on such issues, the president called on all Americans to “turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.”

His proclamation began by referring to “patrons and supporters” of the Stonewall Inn homosexual bar in New York City who rioted against police.

“Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans,” he said.

The President said he was proud to be the first president to appoint “openly LGBT candidates” to Senate-confirmed position in his first 100 days in office.

Saying there is “more work to be done” in the LGBT movement, President Obama advocated further protecting LGBT students and strengthening efforts against HIV/AIDS. He said he joined United Nations efforts to “decriminalize homosexuality around the world” and noted his advocacy of enhanced hate crime laws, civil unions, anti-discrimination laws, adoption rights for homosexuals, and ending the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy “in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security.”

“As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit,” he asserted, saying Congress and the American people should work to promote “equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

U.S. advocacy of homosexual issues may be affecting its image overseas.

Last Friday, the Baghdad Embassy employee association hosted a Gay Pride Theme Party at an employee pub. A flyer for the event, reposted on the Washington Post's website, encouraged attendees to “dress in drag or as a gay icon.”

A State Department source told the Washington Times that the party “throws gasoline on the fire” of Islamic insurgency and strengthens the perception that America is promoting decadence.

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Orange County rejects Planned Parenthood tobacco funding bid

Santa Ana, Calif., Jun 2, 2009 (CNA) - The health department of Orange County has rejected a Planned Parenthood affiliate’s application to open a breast care clinic for the uninsured using tobacco settlement grant money.

Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino counties was one of 19 local community clinics which had applied for a portion of about $4.5 million in available grant money.

Health department staff told Planned Parenthood that its proposal does not qualify under new rules requiring all the money to be spent on direct clinical care, the California Catholic Daily reports.

Planned Parenthood CEO Jon Dunn on Wednesday said he believes Planned Parenthood is being singled out.

“All of these restrictions being placed on funds were clearly aimed at us and services we provide,” Dunn said. “Now they're trying to create new restrictions and rules.”

Lisa Wolter, executive director of the Orange County affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation also expressed disappointment.

County supervisors had voted unanimously to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, with some expressing concern the money could be used to pay for abortions, the Orange County Register says.

A later review confirmed that Planned Parenthood was using its grant to provide sex education to teens and preteens but not abortion services.

Following the advice of legal counsel, supervisors reinstated Planned Parenthood’s funding and implemented the new restrictions on future grants.

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Salvadoran archbishop calls on new president to seek the common good

San Salvador, El Salvador, Jun 2, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador called on the country’s new president, Mauricio Funes, to seek out the common good and to “surround himself with qualified people” in his government.

The archbishop called on the newly-elected president, who is a former journalist, to heed the counsel of experts “who know what they are doing.”

The new government, he said, “must work for the common good in order to confront the crisis that we are facing in the country.”

“The nation hopes that the new government will have a positive attitude in seeking out prosperity, freedom and development,” the archbishop said.

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Cardinal Terrazas encourages Bolivians to evangelize with courage

La Paz, Bolivia, Jun 2, 2009 (CNA) - During the launching of the Permanent Mission in Bolivia, the Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandoval, called on Catholics to proclaim the faith “with courage, generosity and creativity,” under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

In his homily, the cardinal reminded the faithful that it is the Holy Spirit who guides us towards the full truth, and “that is the purpose of the Permanent Mission.”

“He wishes to guide us towards the truth, that truth that will make us courageous in confessing our God. That is what we must strive for during this entire missionary work until we truly become a people that believes in the Lord of life and that never serves the gods of death,” he added.

The cardinal went on to remind Catholics that there are “still great challenges to be met in Bolivia,” such as poverty, violence and abuse. He invited the faithful to work to eradicate these problems and to give an example to those responsible for administering justice that they must be “respectful, respectful of all, even of those who have fallen.”

At the conclusion of the celebration, Cardinal Terrazas gave each regional leader of the mission a copy of the medal with the image of Christ “which the Pope gave to the bishops at Aparecida.”

“In the center is the risen Christ,” he said, “who is the cause of our joy. This must be taken to our parishes, to each home, to each group, to wherever the Lord has called us to work for his kingdom,” he added.

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Denver archbishop to hold immigration forum with congressmen

Denver, Colo., Jun 2, 2009 (CNA) - Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput has announced that he will join two U.S. Representatives in sponsoring an open forum to discuss immigration reform on June 13. “We need to get down to the practical steps of changing our immigration laws in a sane and positive way – now,” said Chaput.

The Archbishop, along with Congressmen Jared Polis (D-CO) and Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) will engage in a discussion on immigration reform at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Northglenn, Colorado. 

In a column published by the Denver Catholic Register, Chaput clearly stated the problem to be addressed: “Our immigration policies are outdated, and our immigration laws too often don’t conform to reality or our nation’s real needs.” 

Archbishop Chaput described current situation faced by millions undocumented immigrants as a “legal Twilight Zone.” This situation is “morally inexcusable,” he said, noting that the vast majority of these individuals are hard working, law-abiding individuals, many of whom have families threatened by the current immigration system. 

Emphasizing that the Catholic Church respects the nation’s laws, Chaput added that, “We can’t ignore people in need, and we won’t be quiet about laws that don’t work — or that, in their 'working,' create impossible contradictions and suffering.” 

The President and Congress need to “act quickly and justly to solve this problem,” he stated.

In his column, Chaput stressed the importance of intelligent dialogue and swift action in solving the legal dilemma.  “Good people can disagree honorably about the specifics of immigration reform,” he said.  “But we can’t honorably ignore the need for reform or the suffering of families who pay the cost of doing nothing.” 

“We need to remember that how we treat the weak, the infirm, the elderly, the unborn child and the foreigner reflects on our own humanity,” said Chaput, noting that, “We become what we do, for good or for evil.”

“Our country’s immigration crisis is a test of our humanity. Whether we pass it is entirely up to us,” the archbishop said in closing.

The June 13 forum is part of a national outreach tour known as “Familias Unidas.” The tour encompasses 22 major cities across the country and is intended to help gain a better understanding of the harm to individuals and families caused by the current immigration system, a press release from Rep. Polis' office says.

The forum will include testimony of individuals and families whose lives have been affected by the current immigration system, along with those who are at high risk. 

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