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Archive of June 28, 2009

ACLU affiliate sides with Diocese of Bridgeport over lobbying investigation

Bridgeport, Conn., Jun 28, 2009 (CNA) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut has protested a state investigation into whether the Diocese of Bridgeport should be categorized as a lobby group for fighting a bill that would have forcibly reorganized the Catholic Church. The group argues the investigation jeopardizes the core First Amendment rights of both the Church and all state residents.

"The free exchange of ideas, which is a hallmark of our society, suffers when the state places hurdles in front of the free speech of any group," said Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut (ACLU-CT).

A press release from the ACLU-CT said that a “burdensome” state lobbying law requires that any rally sponsors who advocate for or against legislation be required to register as lobbyists when their costs exceed $2,000.

Registered lobbyists are required to provide the Office of State Ethics (OSE) with financial disclosure of any activities that might be regarded as lobbying, including any rally or statements on a website. Lobbyists must submit to OSE audits. Failure to register or follow the rules can result in fines that compound daily.

“These requirements deter individuals and organizations from exercising their First Amendment Rights when they are applied to political activities beyond those the courts consider lobbying,” the ACLU-CT press release said.

Commenting on the ACLU-CT’s action, Bishop of Bridgeport William E. Lori said their decision to join the case demonstrates it is “a matter of fundamental civil liberties that threatens the Constitutional rights of all citizens.”

"Holding a protest rally on the steps of the State Capitol and posting information on our diocesan website are not lobbying but an expression of our First Amendment rights of free speech. We welcome the support of the Nation’s leading civil liberties organization, and look forward to making our case against the misguided actions of the Office of State Ethics."

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Italian newspaper reveals key paragraphs from Pope's upcoming social encyclical

Rome, Italy, Jun 28, 2009 (CNA) - The upcoming social encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI "Caritas in veritate" - Charity in truth - will bear the date of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, but will likely become public on July 6 or 7, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera said on Saturday.

An article by Gian Guido Vecchi quotes what he claims are several original paragraphs of the Pope’s third encyclical.

"Without truth, without trust and love for what is truthful, there is no conscience or social responsibility, and the social action falls under the control of private interests or logics of power, with destructive effect on society, even more on a society on the way to globalization, in difficult moments like the current ones,” the Pope will say in “Caritas in veritate,” according to Vecchi.

Corriere della Sera says the Pope highlights in the forthcoming document that globalization is not an evil in itself, but it cannot be left to self-regulation.

“In the midst of the new international economic, commercial and financial context,” the Pope will suggest an international agreement to lead the process of globalization: “an authority that should be regulated by law, should stick coherently to the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, should be aimed at achieving the common good and committed to fostering an authentic integral human development, inspired in the values of charity and truth.”

In what Vecchi describes as “a very theological and theoretical” document, Pope Benedict will highlight from the beginning that “the charity of truth, which Jesus Christ has shown to us along his entire earthly life and, above all, with His death and resurrection, is the main resource at the service of the true development of each individual human being and humanity as a whole.”

According to the Pope, the current crisis has been sparked by "a deficit of ethics in the economic structures.” A reform of the current system, therefore, will require “a common code” based on “the truth from both faith and reason,” capable of providing “the light through which the human intelligence arrives at natural and supernatural truth of charity.”

Vecchi claims that the Pope will recall the “social responsibility of private companies,” but also underscore that “true development is impossible without honest men, without financial operators and politicians who strongly feel in their own consciences the call to [serve] the common good.”

The encyclical will also pay attention to the “ecologic health of the planet,” but will remind that “the duties we have to the environment are connected to the duties we have toward the human person,” because “the first capital to be protected and cherished is the human person in its integrity.”

According to Vecchi, the encyclical will hardly be “good news to the liberals and bad news to the conservatives,” as claimed by some analysts who have not seen the text of the document.

“The Pope quotes Paul VI’s Populorum progressio, which in 1967 denounced the gap between rich and poor countries, but the encyclical also draws on Humanae vitae to criticize abortion and contraception,” Vecchi writes.

The encyclical, in fact, is likely to say that “openness to life is at the core of every true development,” and regarding the ambiguous policies aimed at “reducing the need for abortion” by means of other social policies, the Pope warns that “if personal and social sensibility toward the welcoming of a new life is lost, even other forms of welcoming [life] useful to social life become fruitless.”

The encyclical will also tackle global injustice, especially world hunger.

“Charity in truth requires an urgent reform to confront courageously and without hesitation the great problems of injustice in the development of the nations,” the encyclical will say.

The document will also say that “food and water are universal rights,” and will remind that the Greek word Oikonomia - from which the word “economy” comes -  means the rule or management of the oikos, the home: “the development of all nations depends above all in recognizing that we are one single family.”

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Pope Benedict sums up Pauline Year as Year for Priests begins

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2009 (CNA) - On Sunday Pope Benedict XVI addressed thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Angelus prayer. Benedict XVI summed up the Pauline Year, which comes to an end tonight, and told those present to follow St. Paul in their passion for Christ and the Gospel.

The Pope launched the Pauline Year to remember the 2,000 years since the birth of the Apostle of Tarsus. The Pauline Year, the Holy Father explained, was "a true period of grace in which, through pilgrimages, catecheses, publications and various initiatives, the figure of Saint Paul was offered again to the entire Church. His vibrant message among Christian communities revived everywhere the passion for Christ and the Gospel.”

The Apostle Paul, Pope Benedict added, represents “a splendid model to follow” in the Year for Priests, which began on June 19, a year which can strengthen priests’ commitment to inner renewal, making them "stronger and more incisive evangelical witnesses in today’s world.”

Pope of Tarsus, he continued, exemplifies the priest who identifies totally with his ministry, as did the Curé d’Ars, conscious that he carries a priceless treasure, which is the message of salvation, but in an “earthen vessel.”

“For this reason he is at the same time both strong and humble, intimately convinced that everything is due to God, everything is his grace.”

“The presbyter must belong wholly to Christ and the Church, to whom he must devote his undivided love, like a faithful husband to his wife,” the Pontiff expounded.

Pope Benedict XVI concluded: “Dear friends, together with Sts. Peter and Paul the Apostles, we now invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary that she may obtain from the Lord many blessings for priests during the Year for Priests which just began. May Our Lady, whom Saint Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney loved so much and who persuaded his parishioners to love, help each and every priest to reinvigorate the gift of God which in him is virtue of the holy Ordination, so that he may grow in holiness and be ready to bear witness, if necessary through martyrdom, of the beauty of his total and final consecration to Christ and the Church.”

After the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope greeted Maronite Catholic faithful from Latakiyah, Syria and their parish priest.

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