Washington D.C., Jul 1, 2009 (CNA) - President Barack Obama on Monday addressed an “LGBT Pride” reception at the White House, characterizing opponents of homosexual political issues as holding fast to “worn arguments and old attitudes.” One critical observer said the event aimed to placate the president’s donors but was “insulting” to mainstream Americans.
The president began his comments by saying “Welcome to your White House.” Praising what he considered the “extraordinary progress that we have made,” he said there were “unjust laws to overturn and unfair practices to stop.”
“[T]here are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; and who would deny you the rights that most Americans take for granted.”
Noting the effect of the 1969 Stonewall riots and the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the LGBT movement, the president said the push for “basic equality” will continue. He said he has required all federal agencies to extend “as many federal benefits as possible” to “LGBT families” and also noted his advocacy of repealing “the so-called Defense of Marriage Act” to help end “discrimination.”
He pledged to push for “hate crimes” legislation, to increase more federal benefits for “LGBT couples and their children,” and to remove the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy barring open homosexuals from service.
“The truth is when these folks protested at Stonewall 40 years ago no one could have imagined that you -- or, for that matter, I -- would be standing here today,” the president’s remark’s concluded. “So we are all witnesses to monumental changes in this country. That should give us hope, but we cannot rest.”
The president also acknowledged some audience members, including the openly homosexual Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire V. Gene Robinson, whose consecration widened rifts within the global Anglican Communion. The president also greeted by name Ambassadors Jim Hormel and Michael Guest, Export-Import Bank chairman Fred Hochberg, and Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown. Brown describes herself as bisexual, while the men were all self-declared homosexuals.
Tom McClusky, Vice President of Family Research Council Action, commented about President Obama’s remarks in a Tuesday phone interview with CNA.
McClusky said he thought the president’s comment about “worn arguments and old attitudes” was “insulting the majority of Americans who still believe in marriage as between one man and one woman.”
“A number of his policies are outside the mainstream,” he remarked. “I’m not offended by his comments, but I think many Americans would be.”
He said LGBT activists try to frame the debate by saying to opponents “you’re the past, we’re the future.”
“I’d put it more like: We’re in eternity, trying to fight the present,” he told CNA.
McClusky said the president has “not at all” engaged with those who oppose LGBT politics.
“It’s been a very one-sided discussion, even more so than on the life issue.”
He claimed the president’s action was not responding to a policy issue but rather a “donor issue.”
“I’ve never seen a White House move so quickly from a position until they started hearing a number of homosexual donors were going to stop giving to the Democratic Party,” he added.
McClusky also charged that the president’s pledge to “shift attitudes” on homosexuality "certainly will" undermine parents who wish to instill sexual morals in their children. The FRC Action vice president pointed to Obama’s appointment of Kevin Jennings to the Department of Education. Jennings headed the group Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which McClusky described as working to “normalize” homosexuality among students from kindergarten onward.
“They’ve made it very clear that parents should have no rights in this kind of education,” he charged, noting Massachusetts court cases where parents were told they did not have the right to determine what was appropriate for their schoolchildren.
McClusky told CNA he thought President Obama is getting a “mixed reaction” among LGBT activists despite the number of LGBT appointments. In his view, there may be a backlash from the homosexual community but President Obama may fear more of a backlash among “everyday Americans who don’t agree with the homosexual agenda.”
“Those numbers are much greater,” he said.
Asked whether LGBT issues can succeed without marginalizing traditional morals and Christian beliefs, McClusky said it was “very clear” even to liberal scholars that “sexual license” will win “every single time” in disputes with religious liberty.
McClusky suggested that President Obama realizes he does not have the power to do what he intends and may run into resistance “even among his allies” in Congress who face re-election.
He then described President Obama as “very good at learning from past,” pointing to President Clinton overreach on homosexual issues which may have contributed to the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress.
“With this threat from donor pullout,” McClusky said, President Obama is discovering that he needs to answer to his donors and to his “eclectic group of organizations” who helped elect him “before he answers to anybody else.”
CNA also sought comment from several officials with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including an official with their media relations office, but did not receive a response.
London, England, Jul 1, 2009 (CNA) - ‘Groundbreaking’ invention creates life-sized 3D models of unborn children
An art design student in Britain has developed a new method to use ultrasound and MRI scans to create life-sized plaster models of living embryos. One leading obstetrician has called the invention “absolutely unique” and a “fantastic development.”
Jorge Lopes, the Brazilian design student whose invention was part of his Royal College of Art doctorate work, calls the method rapid prototyping, the Daily Mail says. The device used is comparable to a printer that prints plastic powder instead of ink, slowly building a three-dimensional model.
“It’s amazing to see the faces of the mothers. They can see the full scale of their baby, really understand the size of it,” Lopes remarked.
Lopes is sponsored at the college by the Brazilian government. His research examined the practical use of model-making over the centuries, beginning with mummies then moving to dinosaurs and then fetuses.
His work uses computer techniques first shown by Ron Arad, a designer famous worldwide who heads design products at the Royal College of Art.
Arad called Lopes’ work a “ground-breaking new field of world importance.”
One reviewer of Lopes’ doctoral work said he did not know whether he was looking at science or art.
King’s College head of obstetrics Stuart Campbell, who supervised Lopes, said the technology was “absolutely unique” and “a fantastic development.”
Campbell, a pioneer in ultrasound use, hoped the development would help mothers, especially blind mothers, bond with their babies, the Daily Mail says.
Chico, Calif., Jul 1, 2009 (CNA) - A man allegedly tried to run over a 60-year-old protestor outside a Planned Parenthood office in Chico, California on June 25. The protestor’s graphic picture of an aborted unborn child may have triggered the attack, police said.
Mathew Reid Haver, 40, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly tried to mow down James Canfield with a 1991 GMC sports utility vehicle, the Paradise Post reports.
Canfield avoided the SUV and was not seriously injured. However, Chico Police Lt. John Carrillo reported the man was clearly shaken by the experience. Canfield is a regular demonstrator at Planned Parenthood and also at the Women’s Health Center across the street from the Chico Police Department.
The protester reportedly has a large sign with a graphic photo of an aborted child.
According to the investigation, Haver had a child with him in the vehicle as he neared the demonstrator and the child asked what was on the sign. Lt. Carrillo said Haver apparently became enraged over the picture, lost control of his emotions and tried to strike Canfield with his vehicle.
Witnesses took down the SUV’s license plate and police were able to determine the identity and residence of the alleged driver. Officers detained, interviewed and arrested Haver at his home.
The accused driver was initially transported to a police department holding facility but had an unspecified medical emergency requiring his transport to Enloe Medical Center. According to the Paradise Post, Lt. Carrillo said no one attempted to harm Haver but would not say if he attempted to harm himself.
Assault with a deadly weapon is the most serious charge against Haver, but he also faces several misdemeanor charges. He was reportedly driving with a suspended license and had switched his license plates with another vehicle he had recently bought.
Vatican City, Jul 1, 2009 (CNA) - For the month of July, Pope Benedict XVI has chosen two prayer intentions that focus on unity and reconciliation throughout the world.
The Pope's general intention centers on the Middle East, which has been convulsed by violence in recent months. His intention is: "That the Christians of the Middle East may live their faith in full freedom and be an instrument of peace and reconciliation."
The Holy Father's mission intention has a broader scope. The Pontiff is praying, "That the Church may be the seed and nucleus of a humanity reconciled and reunited in God's one and only family, thanks to the testimony of all the faithful in every country of the world."
Vatican City, Jul 1, 2009 (CNA) - The Vatican has announced that Pope Benedict’s third encyclical, “Caritas in veritate” (Charity in Truth) will be presented on Tuesday, July 7 at 11:30 a.m. local time.
Last Sunday, following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father revealed that the publication of his latest encyclical “is imminent” and noted that the document delves “more deeply into certain aspects of the integral development of our age, in the light of charity and of truth.”
Those participating in Tuesday’s conference will be: Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino and Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace; Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," and Stefano Zamagni, professor of political economy at the University of Bologna, Italy and consultor of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Vatican City, Jul 1, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop Francisco Domingo Barbosa Da Silveira of Minas in Uruguay, in accord with canon 401, paragraph 2, after large numbers of the diocesan clergy accused their bishop of sexual misconduct.
Canon 401, paragraph 2 states : “A diocesan Bishop who, because of illness or some other grave reason, has become unsuited for the fulfillment of his office, is earnestly requested to offer his resignation from office.” The grave reason in this case would be the accusations made against the bishop of homosexual conduct.
The accusations against Bishop Barbosa were made known last Friday after a court investigation the prelate requested as a victim of extortion. "Two adults with criminal backgrounds were charged with the crime” and allegedly were involved in homosexual liaisons with the bishop. Judge Daniel Erserguer found them guilty and sentenced them to prison.
Bishop Francisco Barbosa is popular in Uruguay although he holds some controversial theological positions, as manifested by his episcopal motto, “Gotta keep moving on,” which is taken from a pop-song. The refrain to the song is often used by a pro-abortion coalition as their slogan.
Vatican City, Jul 1, 2009 (CNA) - As typically done following his Wednesday general audience address, Pope Benedict gave public greetings to groups who were present. Today the Pope singled out an Italian group dedicated to helping those victimized by usury.
The Holy Father thanked the Italian National Anti-Usury Council for their "important and much appreciated work."
Both usury, the act of charging exorbitant interest on a loan, and the use of extortion, were condemned by the Pope.
"My hope," he added, "is that there be a renewed commitment on everyone's part effectively to combat the devastating phenomenon of usury and extortion, which constitutes a humiliating form of slavery. On the part of the State may there be no lack of appropriate aid and support for families in difficulties who find the courage to denounce those who take advantage of their often tragic situation."
People who are vacationing were also mentioned by Benedict XVI, who said he hopes that their holiday will be "serene and profitable for everyone." To the people who, for various reasons, "are unable to enjoy a vacation," he said, "goes my hope that you may not lack the solidarity and closeness of your loved ones."
Finally, "my special thoughts go to young people who are currently sitting examinations, I assure them all of a mention in my prayers."
Vatican City, Jul 1, 2009 (CNA) - At the general audience in St. Peter’s Square this morning, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the Year for Priests, laying out the essentials of the priestly mission and identity. He also prayed that this Year will be “an opportunity for the inner renewal of all priests and, consequently, for the revitalization of their commitment to the mission."
The Pope announced that much of his teaching in coming months will center of St. John Mary Vianney, during this Year marking the 150th anniversary of his death.
Of the many virtues exhibited by the Cure of Ars, the Holy Father said he finds that one of the most remarkable was “his complete identification with his ministry. He used to say that a good pastor, a pastor after God's heart, is the greatest treasure the good Lord can give a parish.”
The Priestly Mission
“In fact, it is by considering the dual term 'identity-mission' that each priest will become better aware of the need for that progressive self identification with Christ which guarantees the faithfulness and fruitfulness of his evangelical witness,” Benedict continued. “Thus, in the life of a priest, missionary announcement and worship are inseparable, just as sacramental identity and evangelizing mission are likewise inseparable.”
The goal of priests' mission, the Pope taught, could be described as, “'of worship': that all men and women may offer themselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, receiving the charity which they are then called to dispense abundantly to one another.”
This charity is dispensed through love for others and works of mercy, which Benedict described as “not so much a question of social morals as the expression of a sacramental conception of Christian morality.” These outward manifestations of the indwelling of charity finds its full expression through priestly ministry, where “the spiritual sacrifice of all the faithful is accomplished, in union with the sacrifice of Christ, the only mediator,” the Pope said. “This is the sacrifice that priests offer bloodlessly and sacramentally while awaiting the second coming of the Lord.”
Benedict XVI also addressed the issue of priestly identity, saying, "In the face of so many uncertainties and so much weariness, even in the exercise of priestly ministry, it is vitally important to regain a clear and unequivocal view of the absolute primacy of divine grace.” "The mission of each individual priest depends, then, also and above all on an awareness of the sacramental reality of his 'new existence.' Upon the certainty of his own identity - not artificially and humanly constructed but freely and divinely given and received - depends his perennial enthusiasm for the mission."
“Having received such an extraordinary gift of grace with their consecration, priests become permanent witnesses of their own encounter with Christ,” and “are able to carry out their mission to the full, announcing the Word and administering the Sacraments,” he added.
The Pope noted that after Vatican Council II, "in some places the impression arose that there were more important things in the mission of priests in our time: some people believed that the priority was to build a new society."
However, Pope Benedict countered that “announcement and power” remain the “two essential elements of priestly ministry,” demonstrated when Christ sent his disciples to preach the Gospel and gave them power to drive out demons. In other words "Word and Sacrament, are the pillars of priestly service, over and above the many forms it can take."
The Pope warned that when this two-fold core of the priest is forgotten, “it becomes truly difficult to understand the identity of priests and of their ministry in the Church.” He called on all people to remember this important truth during this Year for Priests, and to “pray for all the clergy. ... Prayer is the primary duty, the true path of sanctification for priests and the heart of authentic pastoral care of vocations.”
Benedict concluded by offering encouragement, saying, "The low numbers of priestly ordinations in some countries not only must not discourage us, it should stimulate us to dedicate greater space to silence and to listening to the Word, to improving spiritual guidance and the Sacrament of Confession, so that the voice of God, which always continues to call and to confirm, may be heard and followed by many young people."
Rome, Italy, Jul 1, 2009 (CNA) - After the announcement on March 31 that Pope Benedict XVI had ordered an Apostolic Visitation of the Legionaries of Christ, many wondered when it would begin. Vatican watcher Sandro Magister has answered the question by reporting it will begin on July 15 and that five bishops have been charged with the task.
Magister states that the visitors will be Bishop Ricardo Watti Urquidi of Tepic, Mexico; Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Colorado; Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Concepcion, Chile; Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi of Alejandria, Italy; and Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Bilbao, Spain.
Magister said the five bishops were chosen because of their experience and dedication and will be tasked with getting to know the life and apostolate of the congregation. They will present a report to the Holy See at the conclusion of the Visitation.
The five bishops met with Cardinals Tarcisio Bertone, William Levada, Franc Rode and Stanislaw Rylko last Saturday at the Vatican, according to Magister.
Sources at the Holy See confirmed to CNA the accuracy of Magister’s report and said a public announcement would be made on July 15. Sources also said that contrary to the article, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko was not present at the meeting.
Magister's report on the areas designated to each bishop was confirmed as accurate.
Bishop Ricardo Watti Urquidi will be tasked with visiting Mexico and Central America; Archbishop Chaput will visit the order in the United States and Canada; while Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi will visit the Legionaries in Italy, Israel, the Philippines and South Korea.
Bishop Ricardo Ezzati will visit the Legionaries in Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela; while Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez will be tasked with visiting the order in Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Holland, Poland, Austria and Hungary.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 1, 2009 (CNA) -
During his homily on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City called for the defense of life from conception to natural death and for support for women, as the country prepares for local and national elections on July 5.
During his remarks, the cardinal explained that the Church "ought to follow her best traditions of healthy feminism. We must esteem and defend total equality between man and woman on a personal level and in the area of human rights. But we must also affirm their diversity, not as something contradictory or juxtaposed, but as complementary."
"We cannot continue applying the outdated theory of class struggle to man and woman as if they were two irreconcilable beings," he warned.
"In today’s circumstances, when so many cultivate and proclaim a culture of death, Christians and the Church must promote the dignity of human life and defend it from conception to natural death," the cardinal exhorted.
He went on to state, "Today we need to urgently promote and defend human life in our country because of the many attacks against it from different sectors of society, which some even hold up as a sign of progress and social struggle."
Cardinal Rivera also warned that "Christians and the Church cannot just merely denounce everything that attacks life, but rather following the example of the Lord of Life, they must bring men and women from less humane to more humane conditions, to the point of full knowledge of Jesus Christ."
Sacramento, Calif., Jul 1, 2009 (CNA) - The U.S. District Court has agreed to allow ProtectMarriage.com to defend Proposition 8 in a lawsuit, after the state's Attorney General, Jerry Brown, refused to do so. The ruling will allow the coalition to defend the successful California initiative from last November that restored marriage to being only between a man and a woman in the state constitution.
Andrew Pugno, general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, has said that he is “pleased that the court will allow us to defend marriage and the will of the people against challenges to the voter-approved measure.”
“This decision will give the official proponents of Proposition 8 a full seat at the table in this litigation,” Pugno told CNA, observing that the coalition will now have the same rights and powers as the other participants in the case.
In its decision, the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California noted that California Attorney General Brown was not defending the law, claiming that the voter-approved proposition was unconstitutional, despite the ruling of the California Supreme Court last May, which upheld the constitutionality of the proposition.
Today's ruling observed that “although the responsibilities of the Attorney General of California contemplate that he shall enforce the state’s laws in accordance with constitutional limitations, Attorney General Brown has informed the court that he believes Prop 8 is unconstitutional.”
“This should be disturbing to the people of California, since the constitutional duty of the Attorney General is to defend measures passed by voters,” Pugno told CNA.
Pointing to other legal challenges against traditional marriage in California law, he added that “today’s ruling designating us to defend Prop. 8 reflects the unfortunate fact that, if left up to state officials, the will of the people would not be defended at all.”
Cases in which California's Attorney General has refused to defend an existing law are extremely rare. One such instance was in 1964, when California voters approved Proposition 14, which would have allowed for racial discrimination in selling and renting houses. In that case, the state’s Attorney General refused to defend the law, claiming that it was blatantly unconstitutional. Both the California and U.S. Supreme Courts agreed, striking down the proposition.
Attorney General Brown has recently tried to draw parallels between the two situations, telling the Huffington Post, “As California's Attorney General, I believe the Court should strike down Proposition 8 for remarkably similar reasons -- because it unconstitutionally discriminates against same-sex couples and deprives them of the fundamental right to marry.”
Perry v Schwarzenegger, a lawsuit filed in May, challenged the constitutionality of Prop. 8. In addition, a motion for a preliminary injunction was also filed, which would suspend Prop. 8 and allow same-sex couples to resume obtaining marriage licenses while the case worked its way through the courts. A hearing to determine whether the injunction will be ordered is scheduled to take place tomorrow.
However, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker suggested using tomorrow's hearing to set a trial schedule instead. The judge said that a quick trial would be favorable to avoid that confusion that may be caused for the state if a temporary injunction were to be ordered.
Both Attorney General Brown and Governor Schwarzenegger have argued against the injunction, saying it will create too much chaos and complexity. Both have also voiced support for a quick hearing of the case.
Pugno told CNA that despite being granted intervenor status, ProtectMarriage.com will not be receiving taxpayer funds to support them in defending Proposition 8. “The cost and burden will fall entirely upon the proponents and their supporters,” he said.
Yet in spite of these obstacles, Pugno remains hopeful about the future of Proposition 8.
“Marriage between a man and a woman predates government, is recognized as the foundation of the family, and has been twice reaffirmed in a statewide vote as the will of the people in California,” he explained. “We look forward to helping safeguard what the voters have put in place as this lawsuit moves forward.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 1, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata in Argentina, said yesterday that the political campaign leading up to this weekend’s elections has been marked by eccentricities.
“To be honest, one has the impression that voters were not aware of the precise nature of these elections, which are only for the legislature,” the archbishop said. He urged voters to give serious thought to “who they will charge with promulgating the laws the country needs.”
Such reflection presupposes that there has been a debate about which ideas and values are best for Argentinean society, he added, “but this has not occurred, there has not been a debate about ideas in this campaign.”
“What gives meaning to a campaign season, in the end, is that candidates say what they think and that they do so truthfully, and that they respond to these basic and fundamental questions,” Archbishop Aguer said.
“It’s enough to make generic references to the past in order to demonize it or to romanticize it, or to the future in order to make promises that will probably not be kept,” the archbishop asserted.
“We must refer above all to the present and not run from clearly defining the issues that are of capital importance for the life of a just, unified and authentically human society,” he said.
Miami, Fla., Jul 1, 2009 (CNA) - A year after five Planned Parenthood clinics in Florida were shut down amid financial mismanagement including a missing $440,000, the organization is opening new clinics in Pembroke Pines and Oakland Park.
Clinics with Planned Parenthood of South Palm Beach and Broward Counties where shut down and disaffiliated from the national Planned Parenthood organization, the Miami Herald reports. The local organization could not account for about $440,000 of its $3 million budget.
The new clinics will be opened in August and operated under a different entity, Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast. It is the largest Planned Parenthood affiliate in the state.
According to the Miami Herald, the Broward health centers will cover exams, HIV testing and access to birth control. It was not reported whether they will provide abortions.
A press release from Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast described itself as a “trusted health care provider” which produces “critical reproductive health care and education services.”
Lillian A. Tamayo, President and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Affiliate, said there was an “overwhelming need” for “affordable reproductive health services” and “comprehensive sex education.”
The financial mismanagement at Planned Parenthood of South Palm Beach and Broward Counties echoes other problems at Florida abortion clinics.
In February the Florida Board of Medicine revoked the medical license of abortionist Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique. Renelique headed a Hialeah, Florida clinic where clinic owner Belkis Gonzalez allegedly placed a live baby girl in the trash after an abortion failed to kill her.