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Archive of June 4, 2009

Eucharistic Adoration increases prayer, vocations in Uganda

Kampala, Uganda, Jun 4, 2009 (CNA) - Eucharistic Adoration in Uganda is attracting more lay people to prayer and encouraging vocations, an international Catholic charity reports.

Sister Consolate Shirima of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, based at Holy Trinity Monastery in Arua, on the northwest border of the country, discussed the phenomenon with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). 

She said that over the past five years, increasing numbers of lay people have joined the sisters for adoration. An estimated three or four hundred faithful join the monastery for prayer on Sundays, while daily visitors to the monastery’s chapel are so numerous the order has appointed a sister to look after them.

“They come for adoration on their own at any time they want to. There are some hours where you find two or sometimes three people – or even groups of 10,” she told ACN.

Holy Trinity Monastery is now too small to house the increasing number of sisters.

“Because of the lack of rooms we have to turn people away, so we are looking to extend the monastery,” Sr. Shirima told ACN.

An ACN grant of about $7,000 will help the monastery expand its space to house twelve more professed nuns and another novice.

Holy Trinity Monastery is of exceptional size in Africa, where contemplative orders are generally quite small. Most postulants join active apostolates instead.

Sr. Shirma explained that prayer is a consolation for the difficulties of life in the poverty-stricken area.
“When you have problems you are easily drawn to God – through adoration, some of them get consolations, even though these may be small,” she said.

“Poverty comes because people have died from AIDS leaving children living with their grandparents.

“Usually in Africa we have large families with up to 10 children, now because of deaths from AIDS you find one person bringing up over 20 children.”

She added that a lack of employment helps drive people to drink and drugs.

Another nun, Sr. Marie Claire of the Benedictine Nuns of the Blessed Sacrament, said that adoration gives people peace and prompts them to make peace in disputes with friends, relatives or enemies.

“They feel the Eucharist makes them reunited with others and the whole Church – that is what they say they feel when they come before the Blessed Sacrament,” she told ACN. “Some come afterwards and say, ‘Yes, I am now alright with my brother/husband/wife who has not been talking to me for two or three days’ – they continue with real life in peace.”

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Tribunal rules Catholic agencies broke law, must allow homosexual adoptions

London, England, Jun 4, 2009 (CNA) - In a decision that may end decades of Catholic adoption services, a British Charity Tribunal has ruled that Catholic adoption agencies will be breaking the law if they decline to place children with homosexual couples.

The agencies find homes for hundreds of children each year but may be forced to close. One diocese has already said it is likely to close its adoption charities, the Daily Mail reports.

The Labour Party implemented sexual orientation anti-discrimination rules in a 2007 bill.
According to the Daily Mail, the Catholic Care charity, run by the Diocese of Leeds, said the right to discriminate against homosexual couples was “a principle of Catholic organization.”

Tribunal president Alison McKenna ruled that Catholic Care was “a well-respected voluntary adoption agency which has made a significant contribution to the provision of adoption services in this country and facilitated many successful adoption placements.”

However, she joined two colleagues in ruling that its non-compliance with anti-discrimination law was unlawful.

After the Charity Tribunal ruled against the charity, a diocesan spokesman said that it “seems likely” that the charities will need to close their adoption services and one of their “flagship” services will be lost. The spokesman said the charities cannot provide unrestricted services without breaching their obligations to act according to Catholic teaching.

“We are concerned about the possible impact this will have on potential adoptive parents and children,” the spokesman added.

The government's regulations have already forced most of the 11 Catholic adoption agencies in England and Wales to sever their ties with the Church or close.

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White House ‘comfortable’ with controversial faith-based council appointee

Washington D.C., Jun 4, 2009 (CNA) - The White House spokesman has said that President Obama is “comfortable” with the makeup of his faith-based advisory council despite protests alleging anti-Catholic bigotry from one appointee who characterized Pope Benedict as a “discredited leader” and called the Knights of Columbus “foot soldiers” in an “army of oppression.”

Harry Knox, the controversial appointee, is a former licensed minister of the United Methodist Church and a leader with the homosexual activist group Human Rights Council.

Before being appointed to the president’s advisory council on faith-based partnerships, Knox had attacked Pope Benedict and some Catholic bishops as "discredited leaders" because of their opposition to same-sex "marriage."

Knox was also critical of Pope Benedict’s comments on condoms and AIDS in Africa. Writing on the Human Rights Campaign’s web site, Knox claimed the Pope’s statement was a “blatant falsehood” which was “morally reprehensible to spread.” He also suggested the Pope was further harming “the marginalized and the downtrodden.”

Though granting that the Knights of Columbus had done good works, he nevertheless has characterized its members as "foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression" because of the Catholic charitable fraternity’s support for the successful California ballot measure Proposition 8.

Proposition 8 restored the definition of marriage to being between a man and a woman.

A group of twenty Catholic and conservative leaders wrote a letter to President Obama protesting Knox’s appointment, characterizing him as "a virulent anti-Catholic bigot.” Lamenting what they said was the president’s “failure to act,” they called for Knox’s removal from the council.

CNSNews.com on Tuesday asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs if President Obama disagreed with Knox’s characterization of the Pope and if the president would take any action regarding requests for Knox’s removal.

“I haven’t seen that letter, but the president is comfortable with the makeup of his faith advisory council,” Gibbs said.

This marked the White House’s first response to the Knox controversy, CNSNews.com reports.

Knox responded to the letter protesting his appointment in statements to the news site Newsmax. Professing his love for the Catholic Church and his Catholic “brothers and sisters,” he said he has “tremendous” respect for the Catholic Church and “all the good that it does.”

“I do think that we have a real disagreement about the role of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, both in the role of the church and in the role of public service,” he added.

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New York Catholic bishops strongly oppose legalized same-sex 'marriage'

New York City, N.Y., Jun 4, 2009 (CNA) -

While New York's senators debate whether or not to legalize same-sex "marriage" in their state, the seven Catholic bishops of New York have issued a statement strongly opposing "such a drastic measure."

David Paterson, the governor of New York, introduced a measure to legalize same-sex "marriage" on April 16, claiming that it was the "right way" to proceed from a spiritual standpoint.

The New York State Assembly later passed the bill by an 89-52 vote, with five Republicans voting in support. The measure now awaits a vote in the Senate, but Sen. Tom Duane (D-Manhattan), the bill's main sponsor, is still trying to garner the 32 votes he needs to secure its passage.

On Monday, all of the Catholic bishops of New York, headed by the newly-installed Archbishop Timothy Dolan, issued a statement on the attempt to legalize same-sex "marriage."

"We face today the prospect of a law in New York which would radically change the timeless institution of marriage. As pastors of citizens from every corner of our great state, we stand unified in our strong opposition to such a drastic measure," the bishops said, urging Catholics to contact their senators.

Beginning with a historical approach, the group of bishops noted that "throughout history ... the one constant has been the conviction that marriage is the union of a man and a woman in an enduring bond, ordered for the procreation and stable rearing of children."

Although Catholic opposition to same-sex "marriage" is frequently cast as solely religion-based, the New York bishops stated that, "Just as importantly, it is based on reason, sound public policy, and plain common sense." They pointed out that "the state has a compelling legal interest in promoting marriage between men and women in order to create stable families and provide for the safety, health and well being of children.

On the other hand, "the state has no such compelling legal interest in recognizing a relationship between two people of the same sex," the prelates said.

Addressing the argument that homosexual couples face discrimination and must be protected by legalizing same-sex "marriage," the New York bishops advised, "If there are injustices against those in relationships other than marriage, those injustices can certainly be reformed and corrected in a way other than by drastically redefining marriage."

The statement from the bishops closed by recalling that their "firm beliefs about marriage … must not be misconstrued to be in any way a condemnation of homosexual people or an attack on their human dignity."

The statement was signed by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan (New York), Bishop Howard Hubbard (Albany), Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio (Brooklyn), Bishop Edward U. Kmiec (Buffalo), Fr. Terry R. LaValley (Diocesan Administrator of Ogdensburg), Bishop Matthew H. Clark (Rochester), Bishop William F. Murphy (Rockville Centre) and Bishop Robert J. Cunningham (Syracuse).

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Pro-Obama Catholic rewarded with government job at HHS

Washington D.C., Jun 4, 2009 (CNA) - Alexia Kelley, Executive Director of "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good,” one of the pro-Obama Catholic organizations that strongly supported the appointment of the former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has been named Director of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for the HHS.

Kelley co-founded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) in 2005 and co-authored with Chris Korzen, "A Nation for All: How the Catholic Vision of the Common Good Can Save America from the Politics of Division."

Both Kelley and Korzen have supported controversial political decisions and appointments made by the Obama administration, including the suspension of the Mexico City Policy and the decision to allow federally-funded embryonic stem cell research. Kelley and Korzen lent their support despite both measures drawing criticism from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The pair of political activists also created the website www.catholicsforsebelius.org to promote the confirmation of the pro-abortion Catholic Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The campaign was conducted in spite of the fact that Sebelius' own bishop, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, asked her to refrain from receiving Holy Communion because of her support for abortion. Kelley and Korzen contended that while Sebelius is pro-choice, “she is personally opposed to abortion and has worked to reduce the number of abortions in the very red state where she, a pro-choice Democrat, was elected twice as governor.”

In a statement issued on Thursday, CACG congratulated Kelley “on this distinguished appointment,” and offered its “deepest appreciation for her tireless service to Catholics in Alliance over the past several years.”

“In her new position, Kelley will play a critical role empowering faith communities across the nation to advance a bold agenda for health care reform that ensures all American families have the affordable and quality care they deserve. Inspired by our faith’s teaching that health care is a human right central to serving the common good, Catholics will continue to be front and center in this critical effort,” the statement says. 

Vicky Kovari, the National Field Director for Catholics in Alliance, has been named Interim Executive Director.

“At a time when millions lack health care, immigrants are often demonized as ‘aliens’ and the silent genocide of poverty shames a nation committed to equal opportunity, our core mission remains as vital as ever,” Kovari said.

She also addressed the issue of abortion, saying, “We are also poised to make real progress on preventing and reducing abortion. We are committed to finding common ground on this critical issue.”

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Cardinal Rouco warns doctors cannot be forced to perform abortions

Madrid, Spain, Jun 4, 2009 (CNA/Europa Press) - Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid warned the government of Spain this week it cannot force doctors to perform abortions or to distribute the morning-after pill.

During the closing of a course on ethics and the future of democracy at the University of San Pablo, the cardinal said that in the case of judges who deny marriage to a homosexual couple, “the situation is different.”

The case of doctors and pharmacists, he said, is “very clear.” Catholic politicians “cannot be active subjects in the drafting of a law” such as the law on abortion or homosexual marriage, the cardinal added.

As regional elections approach this Sunday, Cardinal Rouco called on voters to prudently cast their ballots. “No party completely represents the Gospel,” he pointed out.

He went on to note that today’s society is undergoing “a moral crisis” that is mainly affecting the right to life and marriage. Some laws are questioning and even destroying the conscience, he said. The State has no right to make itself “the creator and shaper” of the family,” the cardinal warned.

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Vatican official pleads with countries to protect children from economic crisis

Geneva, Switzerland, Jun 4, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, is calling for a “common code of ethics” between rich and poor countries to prevent the economic crisis from affecting aid programs, whose direct recipients are defenseless children and other members of the community who are most in need.
 
In a message to the 62nd World Health Assembly taking place in Geneva, the archbishop pointed out, “We cannot allow these defenseless children, their parents and other adults of the poorest communities of the world to be more and more vulnerable due to the global economic crisis that is fed extensively by selfishness and greed.”
 
The archbishop said the crisis is leading to the cancellation of many aid programs for developing countries.  “This will dramatically endanger their health care systems, which are in collapse because of the strong impact of endemic, epidemic and viral illnesses,” he warned.
 
Archbishop Zimowski said the deficiencies in the health care system have repercussions for the development of children, who do not reach their full potential due to the vast differences that exist.
 
For this reason, he called for “decisive action” aimed at preventing illness and curing children, using all the latest discoveries in medicine and the best hygienic and sanitary conditions.

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Former Spanish president slams 'right to abortion'

Madrid, Spain, Jun 4, 2009 (CNA) - The former president of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar, has criticized the government’s proposal to overhaul the laws on abortion saying, “Abortion is not and can never be a right” because “what is a right is the right to life.” He also slammed the government for “pretending to make the ending of human life into a right.”

During a speech at the University of San Pablo in Madrid, Aznar warned that Spaniards should be suspicious of a government that “manifests grave difficulties in distinguishing between what is human and what isn’t,” especially in a scientific sense, which he said was “especially alarming.”

“To proceed down a path that leads to the destruction of the right to life and to pervert it into a false right to end life is, simply, to go backwards on the path of civilization,” the former president said.

It is not the State’s job, said Aznar, to come up with “new and degrading definitions of what a human being is,” or to “torpedo the educational role parents have with their children.”

He also warned that society should be concerned when the government uses its power to “obscure the ethical judgment of its citizens, especially of minors,” or when the government “assumes the right to decide a matter that should only be the responsibility of the individual.”

Aznar went on to specifically criticize a provision in the proposed reform that would allow girls aged 16 to 18 to obtain abortions without parental consent. “I am one of those who think that a good father or mother is one who stands by his or her daughter to help and support her precisely during the most difficult moments,” he emphasized.

In a reference to statements by the current president, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Aznar said a government must be called into question when it scorns and attacks the family by saying that parents who worry about their pregnant 16 year-old daughter are interfering. Such statements lack even a “minimum sense of ethics and basic common sense,” he said, and are a warning sign that “something worse” is on the horizon.

Aznar said that when a government adopts the principle that when in doubt is better to err against rather than in favor of human life, and when it considers it has the authority to erode family bonds, the government “has lost its way in a society of free citizens, in a plural society at whose service it ought to be.”

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Massive pro-life demonstration being organized in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Jun 4, 2009 (CNA) - More than 40 civic organizations have joined together to organize a massive pro-life demonstration in support of pregnant women and in opposition to the government’s proposal to reform Spain’s abortion laws. The demonstration is set to take place on October 17 in Madrid.

The spokesperson for the organization Right to Life, Gador Joya, told reporters this week that the pro-life community intends to make its voice heard and to urge the government to turn back from the “most violent and radical abortion program in Europe.”

“Our more than 100,000 volunteers will do their best to make the October demonstration another success for an independent and free society in the face of imposition and abuse by our leaders,” she said.

The president of the watchdog website HazteOir.org, Ignacio Arsuaga, said his organization would put all of its resources to work in helping to organize and publicize the event.

This will be the second massive demonstration against abortion, after the March for Life that took place on March 29, when 500,000 took to the streets of Madrid to protest in support of human life. Eighty seven other marches took place simultaneously across Spain and Latin America.

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New Hampshire law marginalizes supporters of traditional marriage, bishop says

Concord, N.H., Jun 4, 2009 (CNA) - New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch on Wednesday afternoon signed a bill to legalize same-sex “marriage” in the state. In response, the Bishop of Manchester expressed “deep disappointment” and concern that those who treasure marriage have been “marginalized” by the positioning of the issue as a “civil rights” matter.

The bill had been held up after disputes over religious freedom protections.

Gov. Lynch, a Democrat, had previously expressed opposition to same-sex “marriage,” and at the signing of the bill, said he “personally opposes” the practice.

The law establishes civil and religious marriage licenses and allows each party to a marriage to be identified as bride, groom or spouse. Same-sex couples already in civil unions will be assumed to have a “civil marriage,” the Associated Press says.

The governor had required that religious freedom protections be added to a bill previously passed by the legislature. The religious freedom protections contained in the newly-approved law consist of one sentence saying that church-related organizations that serve charitable or educational purposes are exempt from having to provide insurance and other benefits to same-sex “spouses” of employees.

The law also specified that all religious organizations, associations or societies have exclusive control over their religious doctrines, policies, teachings and beliefs on marriage, protections presumably guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Lynch’s proposed language was rejected by two votes. The latest vote concerned a revised bill negotiated with the Senate.

The bill passed the New Hampshire Senate by a vote of 14-10, while the House passed it 198-176.

At the signing ceremony, Lynch said “Today, we are standing up for the liberties of same-sex couples by making clear that they will receive the same rights, responsibilities — and respect — under New Hampshire law.”

Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire V. Gene Robinson, an open homosexual whose election as bishop caused a deep split in his church, praised the law. He said it is about “being recognized as whole people and whole citizens.”

The Catholic Bishop of Manchester John B. McCormack said in a statement obtained by CNA that he was “deeply disappointed” by the signing of the bill.

“The new law passed our Legislature through the narrowest of margins with precipitous haste and without extensive study,” he critiqued. “The law strikes a blow to the cornerstone on which our entire civilization is built and sustained: the marriage between one man and one woman.”

“In a manner unlike any other relationship, the union of a husband and wife makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the common good of society. A man and a woman in a marriage bring children to life and model the way in which women and men live interdependently and commit, for the whole of life, to seek the good of each other. Our state has an obligation to protect the unique gift of marriage between one man and one woman.”

Bishop McCormack said he would continue to teach about the nature of marriage, a “natural truth” confirmed by “divine Revelation” that marriage is a “faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman.”

“As a citizen of this state, I am troubled that those who respect and treasure marriage as it has been understood for thousands of years have been marginalized while others position same sex marriage as a ‘civil rights’ issue. Marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities.”

He added that upholding marriage is “just” and does not offend the dignity or rights of homosexuals.

“I pray that the citizens of this state will recognize the clear need for a constitutional amendment on marriage,” he said.

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