Archive of July 15, 2009

Honduran cardinal states he did not support military coup or legitimacy of new president

Tegucigalpa, Jul 15, 2009 (CNA) -

The Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, said he did not support the ouster of Manuel Zelaya nor did he recognize the legitimacy of President Roberto Micheletti. However, the cardinal called on the deposed leader to be "prudent and patriotic" and for now, refrain from returning to Honduras.

"It is not true that we have recognized the legitimacy of Micheletti. We have explained what happened and what needs to be looked at here is the process and how Zelaya was violating the Constitution," the cardinal told the Argentinean daily Clarin. He added that he does not support military coups and that the Church did not support the ouster Zelaya.

Cardinal Maradiaga also questioned the use of public funds by the former administration, as well as the convening of a non-binding referendum to reform the Constitution, which was one of the causes of the crisis.

"Why so much money for a poll? The security cameras of the Central Bank show that $2 million was withdrawn in cash. Since when do governments do business in cash? This initiative was plagued by rampant corruption. There was no money for the victims of the earthquake, but there was to buy votes," the cardinal said.

Cardinal Maradiaga said that although Zelaya assured him was not a pawn for Chavez, his administration "was maintained by money from Hugo Chavez and that’s that." He went on to call the actions by the Organization for American States (OAS) in the crisis "a sad chapter." "I have known its secretary general, Jose Miguel Insulza, for a long time and he always acted as a gentleman during his visits to Tegucigalpa. I gave him all of the documentation about this case he never bothered to read it," he said.

"Look at the irony here: a few months ago presidents Chavez, Evo Morales (Bolivia), Rafael Correa (Ecuador) and Raul Castro (Cuba) said the OAS serves no purpose. This is the double standard of the OAS," the cardinal said.

He also stated that the dialogue between the representatives of Zelaya and Micheletti would resume this week, after the first round of talks ended without progress.

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Observers see ‘double standard’ in hearings for Catholic Supreme Court justices

New York City, N.Y., Jul 15, 2009 (CNA) - A prominent commentator and a prominent law professor have questioned whether there is a “double standard” in the treatment of Catholic Supreme Court nominees, depending upon whether or not each nominee is faithful to Catholic teachings.

William McGurn, political commentator and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, claimed in his Wall Street Journal column that Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s professed faith is being treated far differently than previous Catholic nominees to the high court.

In the discussion surrounding Justice Alito’s January 2006 confirmation hearings, Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal complained that the majority of the Supreme Court would be Catholics if he were confirmed, McGurn recalled.

In Chief Justice John Roberts’ confirmations, a Los Angeles Times article stressed the “strong anti-abortion views” of Roberts’ wife and characterized her as an “extremely, extremely devout Catholic.”

McGurn also said that Bill Pryor, a nominee to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, was the subject of speculation by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) that Pryor’s “deeply held” beliefs would “deeply influence” his adherence to the law.

By contrast, Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation would put six Catholics on the nine-justice court. Besides “a few scattered references,” McGurn said, the nominee’s religion has been greeted with a “yawn.”

“It's possible, of course, that Democrats and their allies in the media and activist community no longer regard Catholics with the suspicion they did back when President George W. Bush's nominees were up for consideration. More likely, the relatively soft reaction to Ms. Sotomayor's Catholicism is because of a calculation that when it comes to hot-button issues such as abortion or gay marriage, she doesn't really believe what her church teaches,” McGurn charged.

The commentator then cited Princeton law professor Robert P. George, who noted this apparent phenomenon may have its roots in different theories of jurisprudence.

One theory, which George said was held by Justices Roberts, Alito and Scalia, says that a judge may not bring his own moral beliefs to bear on legal rulings. Another theory holds that a judge has a responsibility to bring his or her moral beliefs to cases.

George told McGurn the latter theory leads to the “politicization of the judicial process” and also charged a double standard exists.

“The same people who feel no compunction in trying to use the Catholicism of an Alito or Pryor to raise suspicions about their suitability then cry foul when anyone demands to know the basis of the moral convictions and personal feelings of someone that a liberal Democratic president is trying to place on the Supreme Court.”

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Obama’s science czar does not support coercive population control, spokesman says

Washington D.C., Jul 15, 2009 (CNA) - The office of President Obama’s “science czar” John Holdren has responded to concerns Holdren co-authored a book which allegedly contained comments supporting coercive population control measures. A spokesman for the department said that Holdren disavowed such policies at his confirmation hearing.

Holdren is currently Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

In 1977, he co-authored the 1,000 page book “Ecoscience” with Paul and Anne Ehrlich. The book included several descriptions of possible population control measures, including the addition of “sterilants” to the water supply to prevent human conception.

One section, titled “Population Law,” cited the radical group Zero Population Growth and said “it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society.”

“Few today consider the situation in the United States serious enough to justify compulsion, however.”

Another section discussed a “planetary regime” that might be given responsibility for “determining the optimum population for the world and for each region and for arbitrating various countries' shares within their regional limits.”

In Tuesday e-mails to CNA, Rick Weiss, the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Director of Strategic Communications, said the material at issue was from “a three-decade-old, three-author textbook used in colleges to teach energy policy.”

He could “easily dismiss” fears that Dr. Holdren favors government control over population growth.

“He made that quite clear in his confirmation hearing,” Weiss said.

He then quoted a section of the confirmation transcript in which Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) asked Holdren whether he thinks “determining optimal population is a proper role of government.”

“No, Senator, I do not,” was Holdren’s reply, according to Weiss and a transcript of the proceedings.

In other remarks at the confirmation hearing, not cited by Weiss, Holdren told Sen. Vitter he no longer thinks it is “productive” to focus on the “optimum population” for the United States. “I don't think any of us know what the right answer is.”

According to Weiss, Holdren “made clear that he did not believe in coercive means of population control” and is not an advocate for measures expressed in the book “and they are certainly not endorsed by this administration in any way.”

Weiss also provided CNA with a statement from the book's other two authors, Paul and Anne Ehrlich.

The Ehrlichs said they had been “shocked” at what they called the “serious misrepresentation” of their and Holdren’s views.

“We were not then,  never have been, and are not now 'advocates' of the Draconian measures for population limitation described -- but not recommended -- in the book's 60-plus small-type pages cataloging the full spectrum of population policies that, at the time, had either been tried in some country or analyzed by some commentator.”

Describing “Ecoscience” as a “textbook,” they said its descriptions can be “misrepresented as endorsement.”

Paul Ehrlich was the author of the 1968 bestselling book The Population Bomb, which predicted that massive famines in the 1970s would kill “hundreds of millions,” including Americans.

Coercive population control measures, including forced sterilizations and abortions, have been used in China’s one-child policy. In Peru in the 1990s, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the United Nations Population Fund provided support for what became an involuntary sterilization program which victimized an estimated 300,000 women.

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Beatification advances for ‘genuine martyr’ who resisted African witchcraft

Pretoria, South Africa, Jul 15, 2009 (CNA) - The conclusion of a five-year diocesan inquiry has advanced the beatification cause of a South African man who was murdered as a “genuine martyr” after a life of resisting witchcraft and condemning murderous witch hunts.

Servant of God Benedict Daswa belonged to the small Lemba tribe among the Venda people in the Limpopo Province in northernmost South Africa.

According to the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), he became a Catholic while training to become a elementary school teacher.

Realizing that common beliefs and practices concerning witchcraft were against his faith, he took a strong stand against them because he believed they led to the killing of innocent people accused of witchcraft activities.

Daswa also rejected the use of “muti” or medicines for protection against evil or for success in sports or other activities.

In 1990 he refused to give money for the purpose of “smelling out” witches. Days later, on Feb. 2, he was stoned and bludgeoned to death. He was killed four months before his 44th birthday.

“All the indications points to the fact that Benedict Daswa led a holy life and became a genuine martyr for the faith,” a statement from the SABC said.

The Diocese of Tzaneen opened an inquiry into Daswa’s death, concluding it on July 2, 2009. The investigation produced over 850 pages of testimonies from reliable witness to the life and death of Daswa.

Copies of the investigation were sent to Archbishop Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for Causes of Saints. The documents were signed by Bishop of Tzaneen Hugh Slattery, Sr. Sally Duigan OLSH, Diocesan Chancellor Fr. Andre Bohas MSC and Promoter of Justice Eddie O’Neill SDB.

Fr. Bohas was the postulator in Daswa’s beatification and canonization cause, which is the first for a South Africa-born Catholic.

According to the SACBC, prayer cards and a novena will be prepared to help people pray for favors through the intercession of the Servant of God Benedict Daswa.

A short biography and DVD will be produced to make him more widely known in South Africa and in other African countries.

The SACBC statement called Daswa “a role model to us all and a great witness to our faith.”

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World must develop new model to answer health needs, Vatican official says

Vatican City, Jul 15, 2009 (CNA) -

Two days after Pope Benedict XVI released his new social encyclical, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi spoke to the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council about the need to increase efforts worldwide to help the poor and hungry in the face of the financial crisis and the H1N1 pandemic. This response should involve a "new model of global development centered on the human person rather than profit," he said.

Archbishop Tomasi began his address to the High-Level Segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) by describing the perfect storm of global events that threatens to trap "an additional 53 to 65 million people in extreme poverty" in 2009.

The Holy See's permanent observer in Geneva said, "the financial and economic crisis that greed and lack of ethical responsibility have brought about" has been further exacerbated by the influenza virus A-H1N1.

Citing predictions by the World Bank, Tomasi noted the spike in people threatened by extreme poverty and that the number of people chronically hungry is expected to "exceed one billion, 800 million of whom live in rural areas."

Although the temptation for countries is to "reduce public services for a short-term benefit against the long-term human cost," the archbishop urged that "aid for development should be maintained and even increased as a critical factor in renewing the economy and leading us out of the crisis."

Archbishop Tomasi also pointed to the disparities in health care between countries as well as the treatment of racial and ethnic groups. "Tragically, women continue in many regions to receive poorer quality health care," he said.

"The Catholic Church," noted the permanent observer, "sponsors 5,378 hospitals, 18,088 health clinics, 15,448 homes for the elderly and disabled, and other health care programs throughout the world, but especially in the most isolated and marginalized areas."

Yet "faith-based organizations do not receive an equitable share of the resources designated to support global, national and local health initiatives," he said.

Calling for more that the "mere quantitative tracking of aid flows and the multiplication of global health initiatives," Tomasi advocated for "access to primary health care and affordable life-saving drugs." "In an increasingly interdependent world," he noted, "even sickness and viruses have no boundaries, and therefore, greater global cooperation becomes not only a practical necessity, but more importantly, an ethical imperative of solidarity."

"However," the Holy See's observer stressed, "we must be guided by the best health care tradition that respects and promotes the right to life from conception until natural death for all regardless of race, disability, nationality, religion, sex and socio-economic status."

Tomasi closed his speech by saying the Holy See delegation believes "an ethical approach to development is needed which implies a new model of global development centered on the human person rather than profit, and inclusive of the needs and aspirations of the entire human family."

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Episcopal Church leaders vote to allow ordination of homosexual bishops

Anaheim, Calif., Jul 15, 2009 (CNA) - Turmoil in the Anglican Communion appears set to increase following Episcopal Church leaders’ approval of a resolution to ordain homosexual bishops. The new decision dismisses an earlier call by Anglican leaders to maintain a moratorium on the practice.

The vote on the resolution took place at the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in Anaheim, California on Tuesday.

The resolution itself said “God has called and may call such individuals (gay or lesbians), to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church.” It said Episcopalians included “same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God.”

The convention’s House of Deputies passed the resolution with 72 percent of the vote. It reportedly also passed the House of Bishops by a wide margin.

Three years ago, the convention passed a resolution which urged dioceses to “exercise restraint” in consecrating practicing homosexuals as bishops and also placed a moratorium on the practice.

Nancy Davidge, a spokeswoman for the Episcopal Church, said the latest resolution does not address the issue of same-sex “marriage,” Reuters reports.

According to the Episcopal News Service, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the highest-ranking clergyman in the Church of England, commented on the resolution before its final approval.

“I regret the fact that the will to observe a moratorium is not the will of such a significant part of the church in North America,” he said during a question-and-answer session following his Monday address to the Church of England’s General Synod.

Questions about theology, the authority of Scripture, sexual ethics, the ordination of women and homosexuals and other issues have split the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the 80 million-member Anglican Communion.

Ian Douglas, one of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies, told Reuters that the resolution confirmed the church’s “commitment to nondiscrimination.” He also said there is “no desire” within the Episcopal Church to “leave the Anglican fold.”

However, many Anglican Churches of other countries have broken communion with the two million-member Episcopal Church.

Others are breaking from the Episcopal Church itself. Last month, former Episcopalians formed the Anglican Church in North America, which now claims 100,000 members.

Jeff Walton, the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Director of Anglican Action, commented on the resolution. He said it shows that the Episcopal Church “wants to remain at the table, but only on its own terms.”

"In the Anglican Communion, 22 out of 37 other provinces are already in a state of either impaired or broken communion with the Episcopal Church. This move by the Episcopal Church will further widen their effective separation from the bulk of worldwide Anglicans.

"The Episcopal Church understands that by abandoning scriptural authority it is cutting itself off from the Anglican Communion. As an autonomous church, it has that choice, now it must live with the consequences," Walton said.

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Bishop of Aosta shares details behind Pope’s Alpine vacation

Rome, Italy, Jul 15, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi has revealed details about Pope Benedict XVI’s vacation in the Italian town of Aosta and said the local residents are pleased to have the Pontiff with them until July 29.

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the bishop said, “We haven’t prepared anything special or spectacular” for the Pope.  “We want to respect his quiet time. We’ll see him if and when he wants. The people are happy just to have him here and they welcome him as if they were hosting him in their own homes.”
The Holy Father, he said, “will enjoy the wonders of this land, in serenity and tranquility.  Everyone will be able to see him on Sunday morning when he recites the Angelus with us.”
Bishop Anfossi said the retreat house where the Pope is staying will allow him “to live immersed in nature and almost in isolation.  It is a small building that can also house whatever staff is strictly necessary.”
He noted the location is away from any tourist areas and provides access to the many nearby mountain trails where the Pontiff will be able to take quiet walks. “When the Pope eats lunch he will have a spectacular view of Mount Blanco before him,” the bishop added.
He also said a piano has been installed in the house for the Pope to play and that the library has been updated with a number of new titles for the Pontiff to peruse.
“The only thing I have asked the Pope is that before he leaves, if he could meet with the priests, religious and lay representatives of the Diocese of Aosta,” Bishop Anfossi said.

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Former Legion priest discusses way forward for the movement

CNA STAFF, Jul 15, 2009 (CNA) - In a recent interview, a former member of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Thomas Berg, addressed both the strengths and weaknesses within the Legion as well as what must occur for it to move past the scandals of its founder.

Fr. Thomas Berg, now a priest of the Archdiocese of New York as well as director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, was interviewed by Sandro Magister this past Monday.

Fr. Berg discussed the Legion of Christ and the Apostolic Visitation of the order that begins today, July 15.  The visits are taking place due to recent information regarding the “double life” of the Legion’s founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel.

Fr. Berg explained to CNA that he has decided to share his thoughts on the Legion now because there are “still a number of things which, in conscience, I believe should be said publicly. Now seemed to be the right time, and the interview offer looked like a proper venue.”

In the interview, Fr. Berg explained to Magister that he is hopeful for the Legion, now that the visitations have been announced.  Though it will be difficult, he noted, “I believe it is possible that a majority of these wonderful men and women will rise to the occasion because they really do have a profound love for Christ in their hearts.”

The Legion of Christ consists of priests, called “Legionaries of Christ” and a lay movement, “Regnum Christi.”

Fr. Berg went on to suggest that the visitors appointed by the Vatican can “help the Legionaries engage in an honest and objective self-critique.”  He expressed hope that the Legion can move beyond what he calls “group think” which has grown within their culture.

“That inability to see and honestly recognize the flaws and errors that so many people outside the Legion are able to see speaks volumes,” Berg noted.  Once the Legion can see its errors, it can then begin to reform “itself from within.”

Berg noted that one of the issues that needs to be addressed within the Legion is a “mistaken understanding and living of the theological principle - in itself valid - that God's will is made manifest to the religious through his superior.”

He believes that the Legionary seminarian is led to a “hyper” dependence upon his superior for too many of his decisions.

Fr. Berg continued by explaining that this belief that the seminarian holds “entails rather an unhealthy suppression of personal freedom” and can occasionally be an “unhealthy” restriction on personal conscience. 

“Furthermore,” Berg added, “Legionary norms regarding "reporting to," "informing," "communication with," and "dependence on" superiors constitute a system of control and conformity which now must be considered highly suspect given what we know about Fr. Maciel.”

This type of mentality, which “suspends reason in the obedience” encouraged the “cult of personality” to emerge which led to the development of Maciel’s persona, and allowed  his “misdeeds” to remain hidden, he said.

“Granted, the primary motivation behind such living of obedience is the ideal of total ‘immolation’ of oneself for the love of Christ as embodied in the relentless living of all norms and indications of the superiors,” Berg explained. 

While their motivation is “valid,” over time it has proven to become “problematic.”

Fr. Berg also noted a few items of concern that he hoped the apostolic visitors would look into such as why priests were meeting for a two-month retreat in Cotija, Michocan Mexico and why they are continuing to “engage in vocation work” at the present time.

One of Berg’s “deepest concerns” is that Legionary seminarians cannot adequately discern their vocation because they need a “complete presentation of the basic facts of Fr. Maciel's double life” and an “honest admission on the part of the major superiors of the Legion's errors.”

The Question of the Legion's Charism

A question of great relevance for members of Regnum Christi and the Legionaries “is the question of the charism,” the former Legionary priest noted.

He said there is a need for the Church to “reaffirm the validity of an institutional charism in the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi.” Berg believes that Regnum Christi members  need to know if there “really was a genuine charism inspired by the Holy Spirit” that created  the Legion and Regnum Christi, or whether the Church witnessed a “phenomenon of the Legion was rather God simply drawing much good out of a primarily human and deeply flawed enterprise.”

This issue, Berg said, “is very serious” and is “unprecedented in the history of the Church.” His hope is that the Holy See's visitors will find useful information that will assist the Church in discerning the authenticity of the Legion charism.

Looking toward the future, Fr. Berg acknowledged that docility must be the strength that the Legion must rely on to move forward. “If the Legion is true to its word, then the Church should be able to count on the docility of Legionaries and Regnum Christi members to embrace whatever is ultimately determined about them and their future.”

Berg said he believes that “The Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi are composed of hundreds of good, holy men and women of God” and prays that the Holy See will arrive at “proper discernment of the most adequate solution for the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement.”

Finally, responding to the question of whether or not the Legion can survive without the “model” provided by Maciel, Fr. Berg placed his trust in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 

“The Holy Spirit could surely raise up a group of Legionaries - cofounders who have disassociated themselves interiorly from Fr. Maciel - who, under the Spirit's inspiration, could provide model lives for future members and direct a new generation of Legionaries to draw from the rich treasure trove of religious spirituality which is the Church's patrimony.”

“This could also be transmitted to the Regnum Christi movement,” he concluded.

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Primate of Spain rebukes government claim that abortion is a right

Toledo, Spain, Jul 15, 2009 (CNA) - In an interview on Tuesday about the Socialist government’s plan to revamp the country’s abortion law, Archbishop Braulio Rodríguez Plaza of Toledo and Primate of Spain said, “Abortion is not a right.”
Speaking on the COPE Radio Network, the archbishop explained that while the Spanish government portrays abortion as a right, many in the country, including the Catholic Church, “do not see it as a question of rights.”
He also said that the proposed law views abortion as a contraceptive such that “if the condom fails, if the morning after pill fails, abortion is still an option.  This is the logic” behind the law, he said.
After pointing out that the controversial course Education for the Citizenry only seeks to impose an ideology on children and young people in Spain, the archbishop praised the new encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Pontiff, he said, has laid out a series of general principles to “overcome a crisis that is much more than economic.”

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House Rules Committee blocks vote on amendment to restore D.C. abortion funding ban

Washington D.C., Jul 15, 2009 (CNA) - The House Rules Committee on Tuesday voted against a rule that would allow a House floor vote of an appropriations bill amendment which would restore a ban on abortion funding in the District of Columbia.

Unlike other U.S. states and territories, the budget for the District of Columbia is reviewed and modified by Congress and the President before it is approved.

In its submission for the fiscal year 2010, the Obama administration reversed the “Dornan Amendment,” introduced in 1988 to prevent both federal and local tax dollars from funding abortions in the District of Columbia. Exceptions were included for rape and a mother's life being at risk.

Under the Obama administration's alterations, the prohibition will only apply to federal tax money, and the exemptions would be expanded to include any case “where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness,” including those physical conditions that endanger the life of the mother.

The changes made to the Dornan provision prompted Reps. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) and Lincoln Davis (D-TN) to propose a new amendment to restore the restrictions.

The proposal had eight additional Congressmen from both parties as cosponsors. The amendment would have modified the Financial Services Appropriations Bill, but it was ruled out of order under existing House rules.

Two co-sponsors of the amendment, Reps. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) will be voting against both the final bill and the obstructing committee rule, a press release from the Republican National Coalition for Life (RNCL) said.

Because of the rule, pro-life Congressmen will not have an opportunity to vote directly to restore the funding ban.

“A vote to pass the Financial Services bill without the full DC funding ban is considered a vote for taxpayer funded abortion in the District of Columbia,” commented the RNCL.

Colleen Parro, RNCL Executive Director, explained via e-mail that implications of the House Rules Committee ruling.

“The only way the Dornan language can have a chance for debate and a vote is if the rule is defeated when considered by the full House. That would require pro-life Democrats to join with pro-life Republicans to vote ‘No’ on the rule. This is pretty technical stuff for the ordinary grassroots pro-lifer to understand.

“It’s also unlikely that it can happen,” she added, explaining that some pro-life groups plan to score representatives based on their vote on the rule that prevented vote, as well as their vote on the bill.

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Catholic surgeon general nominee supports Obama abortion stance, White House says

Washington D.C., Jul 15, 2009 (CNA) - Speculation about whether President Barack Obama’s new nominee for surgeon general is a pro-life Catholic has been circulating in the press and on the internet. On Wednesday, a White House spokesman touched on the matter but only said Dr. Regina Benjamin supports the president on “reproductive health issues.”

Dr. Benjamin, a rural Catholic doctor from Alabama, has served on the board of the Catholic Health Association. She  has also received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award from the Pope because of her example in her Catholic faith and in her medical profession, Monsignor Michael L. Farmer told CNA on Monday.

Msgr. Farmer, rector at the cathedral in Mobile, Alabama, said Dr. Benjamin had served as a lector there. Acknowledging that he did not “explicitly” know the nominee’s position on abortion and other life issues, he said that to his knowledge she has been “in conformity with the Catholic Church.”

The monsignor also expressed hope she would adhere to Catholic moral teaching in a position with the Obama administration.

However, White House spokesman Reid Cherlin told McClatchy Newspapers on Wednesday that Dr. Benjamin “supports the president’s position on reproductive health issues.”

President Obama supports legalized abortion, public funding of contraception and “comprehensive” sex education.

“Like him she believes that this is an issue where it is important to try and seek common ground and come together to try and reduce the number of unintended pregnancies,” Cherlin continued, according to McClatchy. “As a physician, she is deeply committed to the philosophy of putting her patients' needs first when it comes to providing care.”

Dr. Benjamin founded and operated the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic, which does not perform abortions. An unidentified clinic employee told McClatchy that patients seeking information about abortions would be referred to providers in the state.

The surgeon general nominee was also a board member between 1996 and 2000 of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), an international group that has advocated access to “safe” abortions in its investigations of conditions in some countries.

A PHR associate of Benjamin's said that during her time on the board abortion “was never a focus of her advocacy work.”

Dr. Benjamin is President Obama’s second proposed candidate for surgeon general. He had previously considered CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who withdrew himself from consideration in March.

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