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Archive of October 20, 2009

Students go speechless for Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity

Troy, Ohio, Oct 20, 2009 (CNA) - Students in 3,000 schools across 25 countries will participate in the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity today to protest against the killing of innocent children by refusing to speak, a pro-life group reports.

In addition to remaining silent, students will wear red armbands or place red duct tape on their mouths and distribute educational flyers. Many homeschoolers will participate by visiting local malls and other public areas to distribute flyers.

Student participants are instructed to be respectful towards teachers and other officials and to speak with them when required.

Stand True, Christ-Centered Pro-life, the Ohio-based organizer of the worldwide event, says that last year participants reported about 59 girls canceled their appointments for abortions because of the students’ efforts.

"By refusing to speak the students create a huge buzz and abortion will be the most talked about subject on campus," said Bryan Kemper, President of Stand True Ministries. "This generation is fed up with the senseless violence of abortion as is determined to bring an end the abortion holocaust."

Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director of Students for Life, commented that the event will allow pro-life students to honor those “permanently silenced” by the “violent act of abortion.”

The website for the Pro-life Day of Silent Solidarity is at http://www.silentday.org.

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YouTube video records attack on pro-life advocate near abortuary

Fresno, Calif., Oct 20, 2009 (CNA) - A Latino pro-life advocate participating in the 40 Days for Life campaign outside a California abortion clinic was assaulted last Thursday by a pro-choice woman who cut his arm while going on an obscene tirade. Video of the attack has been posted on YouTube.

Victor Fierro, director of Latinos4Life, was outside the Planned Parenthood Mar Monte affiliate in Fresno, California when a woman passed by and shouted obscenities at him. She also called him a “fascist” who “hates women’s rights.”

According to audio of the off-camera incident posted on YouTube, one man chuckled in reply, saying “Thank you very much and God bless you.”

Soon after, the woman returned. She cut Fierro's arm with an unknown object, drawing blood, before returning to her car and fleeing the scene. The attacker’s face and license plate were captured on camera.

Asked by someone if these attacks happened often, a man replied, “That’s the first time this year.”

A police report was filed concerning the incident.

Right to Life of Central California (RLCC) condemned the attack and alleged there is a pattern of threats and intimidation against pro-life volunteers.

“We’re just trying to hold a peaceful prayer vigil out here. We’re law-abiding citizens, standing on a public sidewalk, with the full support of the Fresno Police Department, and yet several pro-abortion-choice people have been harassing us since day one. Now it’s turned physical,” said RLCC Education Director Josh Brahm.

RLCC said that another police report has been filed concerning another individual who has stolen signs and made threatening remarks.

Further, a man called the Fresno Right to Life office on Friday, trying to link the protesters with those who “go and shoot doctors.”

“Why don’t you just die,” he reportedly said, alongside several obscenities.

Brahm insisted that Fresno Right to Life has “a long and undeniable history of peaceful pro-life activism, which we will proudly continue even in the face of bullying and intimidation.”

RLCC charged that local media ignored the story of the assault. KMPH Fox 26 told Brahm that they would not cover the story because Fierro “wasn’t stabbed, just scratched.”

Uncensored video of the attack, which contains obscene language and gestures, is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoY1WSRbriA.

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U.N. bureaucracy co-opts anti-terrorism report to redefine gender, critics argue

New York City, N.Y., Oct 20, 2009 (CNA) - A recently submitted report on human rights in counter-terrorism efforts uses language defining gender as “a social and shifting construct” that is not static but changeable. Critics charge that the United Nations bureaucracy has made the report “highly ideological” and has distracted from its true purpose of protecting women.

Focusing upon gender-based issues, the report “Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism” was authored by U.N. Special Rapporteur Martin Scheinin.

In his report summary, Scheinin wrote that many of the report’s measures concern the human rights of women. However, he added, “gender is not synonymous with women, and, instead, encompasses the social constructions that underlie how women’s and men’s roles, functions and responsibilities, including in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, are understood.”

“Gender is not static; it is changeable over time and across contexts,” he stated.

Understanding “gender” as “a social and shifting construct rather than as a biological and fixed category,” in the rapporteur’s view, would help identify the “complex and inter-related gender-based human rights violations caused by counterterrorism measures.” Scheinin wrote that such understanding would also help “design strategies for countering terrorism that are truly non-discriminatory and inclusive of all actors.”

Austin Ruse, President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), told CNSNews.com that the document was “highly ideological” and that acceptance of Scheinin’s definition will trigger U.N. debate. His “radical” definition of gender will gain more impetus because of its inclusion in a report authored by a special rapporteur and accepted by the General Assembly.

“Even though the radicals have tried to get this statement agreed to, that gender is a social construct, the General Assembly has decided not once, not twice, but three times that gender is based in nature,” Ruse added.

The C-FAM president said he doubted the report had a chance of being accepted by the General Assembly, noting a “growing opposition” to it. Though acknowledging uncertainty about the issue, he told CNSNews.com he fully expected a “massive negative reaction” to the report.

Julie Gunlock, a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, charged that the report veered from its intended subject of women and diluted its importance.

The changes “managed to turn this into something that looks more like some politically correct corporate human resources manual,” she told CNSNews.com.

In a Monday e-mail Ruse told CNA that the report points to an “ongoing tension” between U.N. Member States and the United Nations bureaucracy.

“What happens is that the Member States make a decision, then the hard left bureaucracy does exactly what it wants even if it is the opposite of what Member States decide. While the Member states have decided this issue on behalf of tradition, this pipsqueak bureaucrat injected his own ideology and his own sexual proclivities into this report.”

Ruse said that the writer is a “homosexual activist” who helped author “other nasty reports.”

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Pope Benedict approves structure for admitting large groups of Anglicans into Catholic Church

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2009 (CNA) - In a Vatican press conference today, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, announced that an Apostolic Constitution has been prepared in response to “many requests” from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful wanting to enter into full communion with the Church.

The Apostolic Constitution, which Cardinal Levada said “provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon,” will be a “single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application.”

The new canonical structure will allow former Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Church while “preserving elements of distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony,” said Cardinal Levada. Addressing the status of married clergy, the cardinal said that married Anglican clergy would be allowed to be ordained as Catholic priests just as takes place in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Similarly, following the same tradition, those priests will not be allowed to be ordained bishops.

These ‘Personal Ordinariates’ will be formed, “as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world,” the cardinal prefect said.

He added: “The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for Promotion of Christian Unity.”

One large group of breakaway Anglicans which has been requesting a formal structure to be corporately received into the Catholic Church has been the Traditional Anglican Communion, made up of an estimated 400,000 members worldwide.

Cardinal Levada explained that this initiative “has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans.” He went on to say: “They have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion.”

The prefect of the CDF also shared what Pope Benedict's hopes are for the process.

“It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism.'”

Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, the former under-secretary at the CDF until recently, who helped draft the new structure, said: “We’ve been praying for unity for 40 years. Prayers are being answered in ways we did not anticipate and the Holy See cannot not respond to this movement of the Holy Spirit for those who wish communion and whose tradition is to be valued.”

He said there has been a “tremendous shift” in the ecumenical movement and “these possibilities weren’t seen as they are now.” He rejected accusations that the new Anglicans be described as dissenters. “Rather they are assenting to the movement of the Holy Spirit to be in union with the See of Peter, with the Catholic Church,” he said.

Technical details still need to be worked out, and these Personal Ordinariates may vary in their final form, Archbishop DiNoia said. Full details of the Apostolic Constitution will be released in a few weeks but today’s press conference went ahead because it had been planned sometime ago.

Cardinal Levada said 20-30 bishops have made requests, but more details will be given at a later date. Members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity were consulted and although they were invited to attend today’s press conference, no representatives were able to attend.

The Traditional Anglican Communion broke from the Anglican Communion in 1991 over the decision of the Church of England to ordain women as priests. The TAC, as well as other breakaway groups of traditionalist Anglicans, have been hoping for such a structure ever since. The TAC formally made a request two years ago, after all its bishops signed their approval of the Catechism of the Catholic Church at a ceremony in England. Discussions were protracted owing to the unique nature of such a structure, in particular over whether Anglicans should have their own rite.

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Efforts continue to free missionary kidnapped in the Philippines

Rome, Italy, Oct 20, 2009 (CNA) - The Vicar General of the Diocese of Pagadian in the Philippines, Father Gilbert Hingone, reported this week that although there has not been any direct contact with the kidnappers of Father Michael Sinnot, he is hopeful for his release thanks to the work being done by the civil-military committee to free the missionary.

Speaking with Fides news agency, Father Hingone said the committee “is working well, thanks to intelligence work. We are hopeful. There are positive developments in this case - small steps - although there is still no direct contact with the kidnappers.”

Fr. Sinnott,78, was taken at gunpoint by six men who stormed his home in Pagadian City on the island of Mindanao on Oct. 11. According to Reuters, witnesses said the Colombian priest was bundled into a van and later dragged to a boat.

The priest is known to have a heart condition and needs a daily dosage of medicine.

Father Hingone also explained that the people are being asked to collaborate “in order to send him the medication he needs. We hope that this case will end well soon.”

According to the latest intelligence reports, Father Sinnot should be in the northern province of Lanao. General Benjamin Dolorfino, the commander in Western Mindanao, said the kidnappers are a group of pirates led by Guingona Samal, who is known for various crimes and kidnappings for extortion.

The Bishop of Pagadian, Most Rev. Emmanuel Cabajar called on the faithful there to pray and cooperate as much as possible with officials.

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Thousands of Colombians stand up for life, women and the family in Medellin

Medellin, Colombia, Oct 20, 2009 (CNA) - At least 10,000 Colombians took to the streets of Medellin on October 17 for the March for Life, Women and the Family to voice support for the unborn in response to plans to build an abortion clinic in the city with public funds. The number of protestors who came out for the event surpassed even the organizers’ expectations.

Young people, children, the elderly and entire families marched from the Explora Park to Cisneros Square carrying signs and chanting pro-life slogans. At the conclusion of the march, various pro-life leaders addressed the crowd on abortion and adoption, with some women sharing personal testimonies.

Colombian actress Amanda Rosa Perez joined in the march saying, “I support the dignity of women and the family, and I’m here because I want people to recover family and human values…today everything is relative, good is being confused with evil, and we are become enslaved by a world filled with malice.”

Television personality Adriana Eslava emceed the event and said, “I am here because I am concerned about the thousands of women, not only here in the Province of Antioquia, but in all of Colombia, who are being led to believe that abortion is inconsequential.”

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Anglican and Catholic archbishops say declaration won't change dialogue

London, England, Oct 20, 2009 (CNA) - Catholic Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Anglican primate Archbishop Rowan Williams held a press conference today in London to say that the newly announced structure for Anglicans to join the Catholic Church will not harm ecumenical dialogue between the two Churches.

Earlier on Tuesday morning at the Vatican, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), announced that Pope Benedict has approved the creation of ‘Personal Ordinariates’ which will allow Anglicans to enter into communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining some aspects of the “distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony.” 

These ordinariates will be formed, “as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world,” the cardinal prefect explained.

Meanwhile, at the offices of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, Archbishops Nichols and Williams jointly stated that the declaration by the Pope “is further recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic Church and the Anglican tradition” which grew out of the last 40 years of dialogue.

The two prelates also stressed that today's announcement does not mean an end to ecumenical dialogue between the two Churches. “With God’s grace and prayer we are determined that our on-going mutual commitment and consultation on these and other matters should continue to be strengthened,” the joint statement said. 

However, the announcement was not without some friction, which Archbishop Williams revealed in a letter he sent today to the Anglican bishops around the world.

“I am sorry that there has been no opportunity to alert you earlier to this;  I was informed of the planned announcement at a very late stage, and we await the text of the Apostolic Constitution itself and its code of practice in the coming weeks,” the Anglican archbishop wrote.

He also shared how he is responding “in the local English context,” drawing upon his joint statement with Archbishop Nichols.

On the Vatican front, Archbishop Williams wrote, “in the light of recent discussions with senior officials in the Vatican, I can say that this new possibility is in no sense at all intended to undermine existing relations between our two communions or to be an act of proselytism or aggression. It is described as simply a response to specific enquiries from certain Anglican groups and individuals wishing to find their future within the Roman Catholic Church.”

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U.S. Catholic and Episcopalian leaders respond to Vatican’s new Anglican provision

Washington D.C., Oct 20, 2009 (CNA) - Responding to the announcement of a new apostolic constitution to assist Anglicans in entering the Catholic Church, Cardinal Francis George has said the provision will serve the unity of the Church. An Episcopalian spokesman said the full implications of the action are still being studied and ecumenical dialogue will continue.

On Tuesday Cardinal William Levada announced that an apostolic constitution had been prepared to respond to the “many requests” from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful who wanted to enter full communion with the Catholic Church. The ecclesiastical structure will preserve elements of Anglican traditions and could help hundreds of thousands of Anglicans become Catholics.

“The USCCB stands ready to collaborate in the implementation of that Provision in our country,” Cardinal George, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said in a Tuesday statement.

Echoing Cardinal Levada, he explained that the new Anglican provision responds to a number of requests from groups of Anglicans seeking “corporate reunion.” He said the provision also recognizes the desire of some Anglicans and Episcopalians to live the Catholic Faith “in full, visible communion with the See of Peter” while also retaining some elements of their liturgical, spiritual and ecclesial traditions which are “consistent with the Catholic faith.”

Cardinal George described the provision as being “at the service of the unity of the Church.” He said it calls the faithful to join in Jesus’ prayer that “all may be one” (Jn 17:21) in the quest for “greater communion” with all baptized Christians.

“For forty-five years, our Episcopal Conference has engaged in ecumenical dialogue with The Episcopal Church, which is the historic Province of the Anglican Communion in North America,” the cardinal’s statement concluded. “The Catholic Bishops of the United States remain committed to seeking deeper unity with the members of The Episcopal Church by means of theological dialogue and collaboration in activities that advance the mission of Christ and the welfare of society.”

Episcopal Bishop Christopher Epting, the Church’s Deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations, issued a Tuesday afternoon statement concerning the provision. Speaking on behalf of the Episcopal Church, he said the Church is “in dialogue” with the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury and will continue to “explore the full implications” the action will have upon ecumenical relations.

“The announcement reflects what the Roman Catholic Church, through its acceptance of Anglican rite parishes, has been doing for some years more informally,” Bishop Epting’s statement said. “We in the Episcopal Church continue to look to the Holy Spirit, who guides us in understanding of what it means to be the Church in the Anglican Tradition.”

The bishop said the Episcopal Church continues to remain in dialogue with the Catholic Church through the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Consultation (ARCIC) and the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in the USA (ARC-USA).

His statement closed by describing the Episcopal Church as working with other Anglican provinces and with ecumenical and interfaith partners to “promote God’s reign on earth.”

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Spanish bishop denounces new law on abortion as 'venom of immorality'

Huesca, Spain, Oct 20, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Jesus Sanz Montes of Huesca in Spain has called the new law on abortion being promoted by the Zapatero administration “chauvinist and unjust.” He added that calling abortion a “right” is “a venomous source of immorality and injustice that mars the entire law.”

In a pastoral letter, Bishop Sanz criticized the government for its demagoguery and half-truths, which are so laughable as to not merit a response “were it not for the fact that the human life of an innocent human being is in question.”

He also warned against the “economic agenda of abortion clinics and laboratories that are ‘marketing’ abortion pills” and against politicians who wink and nod at so-called progress in order to obtain political benefits and social status, while turning a blind eye to issues such as the economic crisis, corruption and loss of prestige at the international level.

“Abortion has a profound effect upon women, who would otherwise not be given the time of day by pro-abortion lawmakers who vote to provide funding for the nonsense that takes place in laboratories and clinics,” the bishop said.

“It is a suicidal killing in which the unborn baby dies and the mother begins her long and terrible agony,” he added.

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Archbishop denounces murder of 400 children in Guatemala

Guatemala City, Guatemala, Oct 20, 2009 (CNA) - The Office of Human Rights of the Archdiocese of Guatemala denounced the murders of over 400 children between January and September of this year, and called for an end to the “culture of violence and intolerance for personal integrity” that is affecting the country.

According to a report published by the Efe news agency, “of the 400 children killed between January and September, 52 percent died from gunshot wounds.” The figure represents an increase from 2008 when “493 children were killed.”

During the first nine months of 2009, “an average of 1.46 deaths of children occurred each day, very similar to the 1.5 that occurred during the same period in 2008,” the newspaper reported.

A spokesman from the archdiocesan human rights office, Carlos Chacon, said these numbers “represent a ‘discouraging’ outlook because children ought to be in schools and not on the streets.”

According to officials, there is an average of 17 murders each day, most attributed to youth gangs and organized crime related to the drug trade.

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Former Anglican sees new Vatican provision as 'slap-down' of liberal agenda

New York City, N.Y., Oct 20, 2009 (CNA) - Fr. George Rutler, an Anglican convert and pastor in New York City, has written a guest column for CNA following the announcement by the Vatican that the Pope has approved a new structure for Anglicans desiring to enter into communion with the Catholic Church. The priest argues that move is a rebuke to the liberal agenda of some in the Anglican Communion.

In his column, Fr. Rutler says that he sees the announcement as not only “a dramatic slap-down of liberal Anglicanism,” but also a “total repudiation of the ordination of women, homosexual marriage and the general neglect of doctrine in Anglicanism.” The new provision has the potential of bringing hundreds of thousands of Anglicans into the Catholic Church.

“It basically interprets Anglicanism as a spiritual patrimony based on ethnic tradition rather than substantial doctrine and makes clear that it is not a historic 'church' but rather an 'ecclesial community' that strayed and now is invited to return to communion with the Pope as Successor of Peter,” Rutler writes.

The pastor also touches on the press conference announcing the new structure, the phenomenon of married Anglican clergy becoming Catholic priests and the impact that the new provision will have on the rest of the world.

You can read the full text of Fr. Rutler's comments here:  http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=987

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Population control advocates neglect concrete health problems, Steve Mosher says

London, England, Oct 20, 2009 (CNA) - Researchers who claim that an increased human population size harms the environment have written an editorial in a prominent British medical journal promoting contraceptive use in the Third World, leading Steve Mosher of the Population Research Institute to warn that concerns about population control and climate change neglect the concrete health problems of people.

Leo Bryant, who is a researcher at the World Health Organization and an advocacy manager for the international pro-abortion group Marie Stopes International, authored an editorial in The Lancet claiming that increased access to contraceptives would slow population growth and curtail climate change, Reuters reports.

He claimed that two hundred million women want access to birth control but cannot get it. This reportedly results in 76 million unintended pregnancies every year.

His study on the relationship between climate change and population growth in the world’s 40 poorest countries reportedly indicated that rapid population growth puts pressure on the environment.

Though population growth in poor nations with low carbon emissions is considered unlikely to increase global warming significantly, Bryant said that overpopulation combined with climate change will worsen living conditions and degrade natural resources, Reuters says.

The research, to be published in the World Health Organization Bulletin in November, reports that population growth in countries such as Ethiopia and Rwanda is exacerbating drought and straining fresh water supplies.

Bryant told Bloomberg that the “environmental relevance of family planning” should be examined.

“Reproductive health services ought to be integrated into the climate adaptation strategy,” he said.

Advocates of population control claim that contraceptive family planning is five times cheaper than “green” technologies intended to fight climate change.

According to Reuters, policymakers neglect family planning in order to avoid being associated with efforts like China’s one-child policy, whose implementation has included coercive abortions and sterilizations.

Bryant told Reuters that researchers are not advocating that governments instruct people how many children they can have.

“The ability to choose your family size… is a fundamental human right,” he claimed. “But lack of access to family planning means millions of people in developing countries don’t have that right.”

Steve Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute (PRI), commented on the Lancet essay in an e-mail to CNA. He charged that population control advocates blame people as the economy sours.

Claims in the article’s subtitle calling climate change “the biggest global health threat” of the century, in Mosher’s view, are “simply not true.”

“Everyone reading the Lancet article will be dead in a hundred years, and I guarantee that they will not die from ‘climate change.’ Rather, they will die from infectious diseases, from cancers, from heart attacks, from strokes, and so on.”

“These are the real health threats of our age,” Mosher claimed. “These are the threats to our lives and wellbeing that should command our attention and our resources, not some vague, unpredictable and indirect health consequences of supposed ‘global warming.’”

Population control advocates are distracting from “more immediate threats” to human health and are delaying the discovery of cures for fatal illnesses, he charged.

The immediate health concerns of Africans, particularly HIV/AIDS, is a topic that has been raised by bishops at the synod for Africa in recent days.

Many Catholic prelates in Africa have criticized the distribution of contraceptives, the use of which Catholic teaching considers to be a sin against marriage.

Bishop of Capra, Namibia Joseph Shpandeni Shikongo addressed the Synod for Africa, meeting in Rome this month, on the topic of condoms.

He stated that they spread a “secular and relativistic vision of sexuality” and encourage promiscuity.

He also criticized the government in his country for undermining the Church’s promotion of abstinence in the face of HIV/AIDS, adding that the Namibian government is much better financed, has international advisors and better access to the media than the Church.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, who is Archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, has also reported that faulty condoms imported to Ghana often break and give a “false sense of security” in fighting HIV/AIDS.

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