Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jun 15, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, said last week that the country is “zealously watching” what Congress does with regard to “the right to life and the condemnation of abortion.”
The cardinal’s comments came during Corpus Christi Mass at the Quisqueya Stadium. “Dominicans will not allow international organizations to impose customs on them, such as abortion, which are not part of their culture,” he said.
“If other nations, including those that are supposedly civilized, are willing to accept that things be imposed on them that are not part of the soul of their cultures, we as the Dominican people will not accept that,” the cardinal stated.
He also warned against some in the media who speak incoherently about the “permissibility of abortion” and who are ignored by the majority of Dominicans.
“Many recent polls have shown that the Dominican people love human life and want respect for human life to be enshrined in the constitutional reform,” he said.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 15, 2009 (CNA) - Nearly 500,000 faithful from the Archdiocese of Durango gathered recently at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City together with Archbishop Hector Gonzalez Martinez to pray for an end to the violence that is occurring in their region and that is the result of organized crime.
This year pilgrimage, which was the 116th to the Guadalupe shrine by the Archdiocese of Durango, came after Archbishop Gonzalez Martinez denounced the presence of drug traffickers in that part of the country.
The organizer of the pilgrimage, Father Manuel Ramirez, said, “A lot of people like to stop in the different towns along the way, so many got a head start in order to enjoy the journey. And the closer we get to the final destination, the more joy we feel, especially because we are experiencing it in community. We are very happy to be at the Basilica of Guadalupe again,” he said.
La Paz, Bolivia, Jun 15, 2009 (CNA) - During the celebration of Corpus Christi, the Bolivian bishops of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and El Alto called on leaders to solve the country’s problems not with vain speeches or prefabricated violence but with tolerance and respect.
The Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandoval, told Bolivians he hoped the feast of Corpus Christi would motivate leaders to seek out peaceful and respectful solutions to the problems facing the country.
Likewise, he reminded Bolivians that Christians only bend their knees before the Lord, “and never before those who make a show of force and power in order to subjugate the human person.”
Bishop Jesus Juarez of El Alto said the country is in need of “tolerance, respect, and more than words, we need concrete actions to improve living conditions.”
Asked about the absence of public officials at Corpus Christi celebrations, Bishop Juarez said, “The faith is an invitation and a gift the Lord gives. We have invited them, and an invitation is either accepted or the Church is left out. Since there is separation between Church and State, we invite all, and whoever wants to come is welcome.”
Avila, Spain, Jun 15, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Jesus Garcia Burillo of Avila, Spain said recently that the current economic crisis has revealed another face of poverty--the poverty of values. In response to this values crisis, he called on the faithful to embrace solidarity.
“This crisis gives evidence to a profound anthropological rupture and a crisis of moral values. The dignity of the human being is the value that is in crisis when the person is the center of social, economic and business life; when money becomes an end in itself and not a means of service to the person and to social development,” the bishop said in a recent letter.
In addition to the economic poverty into which “a growing number of men and women have fallen,” the bishop added, “We have also seen another kind of poverty, in this case spiritual, which underlies the material, economic and employment crises.”
“It is the poverty of values and attitudes that is made manifest and has spread to different areas through some media channels,” Bishop Burillo said. “Together with that we cannot forget the crisis in education that is also present at the heart of the family. These are the faces of poverty,” he said.
Nevertheless, he went on, in the midst of “personal social and ethical misery,” “exemplary responses of solidarity” have also appeared. For this reason, he encouraged Catholics “to become aware not only of the Christian responsibility to spread good, but also of the need for personal and communitarian conversion.”
Imo, Nigeria, Jun 15, 2009 (CNA) - By a vote of 13-1, the legislature in the small state of Imo, Nigeria rejected the Reproductive Rights Bill last week, marking a pro-life victory in a state whose rich heritage, culture and religious traditions welcome life and respect the lives of unborn children.
It was a decision that the national Nigerian newspaper This Day described as a “victory of the superior Imo cultural values over the new global Western Cultural Revolution” and “yet another triumph of reason… a triumph of democracy and the popular will.”
While the Reproductive Rights Bill claimed to deal with women’s reproductive health, it would have effectively legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Imo, a pro-life state, has rejected several attempts to legalize abortion, with the most recent being in 2006.
Large crowds of citizens ranging from school children to religious sisters to civil servants marched to the Imo State House of Assembly and protested the Bill last Monday morning.
Although the Public Hearing was scheduled for noon, all seats in the hearing room were filled by 7:00 a.m. Thousands of demonstrators overflowed outside the building, holding signs reading, “Children are our values,” “Reproductive right is abortion,” and “Imo mothers love children.”
Advocates of the Reproductive Rights Bill had defended it by saying that it never mentioned abortion and was aimed solely at promoting the health of Imo women. However, euphemisms within the Bill included phrases such as “control of fertility,” “timing, number, and spacing of their children,” and “choice of methods of fertility control and family planning,” all of which have been consistently interpreted in countries where abortion is legal as giving women the right to both abortion and contraceptives.
In addition, the people of Imo became concerned by the fact that one of the Bill’s prominent sponsors was the U.S.-based International Project Assistance Services (IPAS), a major abortion lobbying group that has been quietly promoting and selling handheld abortion devices and drugs for years.
The only support for the Imo abortion Bill at the Public Hearing came from the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), who claimed that the Bill would liberate women from oppression and dissemination. Yet, after the hearing, some of the women with the NCWS confessed to being hired to voice support for the Bill.
This pro-life victory in Nigeria occurred within days of the United States House of Representatives voting to fund the newly-established Office of Global Women’s Issues. Pro-lifers are worried that given the track record of the Obama Administration on pro-life issues, the new women's office will simply work to promote abortion in overseas areas such as Imo.
Orlando, Fla., Jun 15, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida on Monday called on President Obama and congressional leaders to move forward on immigration reform, saying a “substantive plan” must emerge to show the Obama administration intends successful change.
Writing in the Orlando Sentinel, Bishop Wenski reported that President Obama will meet with congressional leaders this week to discuss immigration reform and its political practicalities.
Noting that some supporters of immigration reform are concerned the meeting is “more political show than substance,” Bishop Wenski said the government must move forward on a bill.
“While opinions differ as to whether it is politically wise to move immigration-reform legislation in the first year, the president cannot afford to leave supporters empty-handed,” the bishop wrote. “What must emerge from this meeting is a substantive plan that shows that the administration intends to win this battle, even if it might take longer than expected.”
Bishop Wenski advocated “legislative and administrative actions” to increase public confidence that immigrants are “systematically” integrating into U.S. society. The actions should also increase confidence in the government’s ability to efficiently implement and enforce a new immigration system, he advised.
“I am not talking about more border enforcement. I am speaking of initiatives to show that, if we do intend to require 12 million people to earn citizenship, the infrastructure is in place to ensure that they are processed and able to learn English and civics in a reasonable time period,” he explained.
“In short, the administration must prove that these new immigrants, now in the shadows, can emerge and become good Americans.”
He added that a detailed national strategy on immigration would allay “cultural fears” that immigrants are “taking over” the American way of life and changing the country beyond recognition. The Obama administration must also hold “unscrupulous employers” accountable and enforce the rights of both immigrant and U.S. employees in the workplace.
Bishop Wenski credited the administration for “small steps” in reform, such as shifting enforcement priorities away from migrant workers to employer investigation and prosecution.
The bishop also called for the establishment of infrastructure to identify and process the 12 million immigrants in the country. His Orlando Sentinel essay also called for a reduction in the wait times for citizenship and other immigration benefits, which can often take “years.”
“In an era defined by Hurricane Katrina, government competency is an issue that cannot be ignored.”
“In order to move immigration reform forward, President Obama needs to take action, not just hold a meeting,” Bishop Wenski said.