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Archive of October 30, 2009

Ongoing pro-life campaign claims to have saved 2,000 babies from abortion

College Station, Texas, Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - The 40 Days for Life campaign says that its participants have now helped save at least 2,000 babies from abortion in the past five years.

The 40 Days for Life campaign began in Bryan/College Station, Texas in 2004. It presently organizes spring and fall events of prayer and fasting to end abortion, peaceful vigils outside abortion facilities, and grassroots community activism.

“We now have confirmed reports of at least 2,000 babies whose lives have been saved from the tragedy of abortion," David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life, said in a press release. "Who knows what wonders each of these children will bring to the world!"

“Through the grace and mercy of God -- and the faithful prayers of more than 200,000 volunteers standing vigil outside abortion facilities -- an incredible miracle has taken place,” he added.

The campaign estimated that two thousand children would fill at least 80 classrooms and make up 180 soccer teams.

“Just as importantly, this could represent 180 teams of soccer moms -- women who will enjoy watching their children run and jump and shout -- blessings they would have never known if they had fallen for the lies that are so often disguised by the rhetoric of 'choice,'" Bereit added.

He also discussed how the sight of people standing in prayer can convince a woman to turn away from abortion.

Bereit said he often tells those holding vigil to just pray and don’t worry about what to say.

“We have countless stories of women rejecting abortion and leaving the clinics even when not a single word was spoken," he explained. “Just last week, I heard about two little girls who were singing 'Jesus Loves Me' at a 40 Days for Life vigil. They sang as a woman went in for an abortion appointment -- then watched as she left the clinic in tears, read the number of a pregnancy resource hotline, and called for real assistance.”

The 40 Days for Life campaign says that it is the largest and longest coordinated pro-life mobilization in history. Its fall campaign began on Sept. 23 and will end on Nov. 1. It counts participants in 212 cities, spread out across 45 U.S. states, five Canadian provinces and Denmark.

Its website is http://www.40daysforlife.com.

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Anglican provision is a response to those ‘knocking at the door,’ former Westminster archbishop says

Westminster, England, Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has issued an extended commentary on Pope Benedict XVI’s new provision for Anglicans who wish to become Catholic. He reported that a similar proposal had been rejected under Pope John Paul II, but was revived after the “repeated requests” from Anglicans worldwide who have been “knocking at the door for a long time.”

He emphasized that Pope Benedict’s response to those Anglicans who wanted to become Catholic was not a reflection on the Anglican communion as a whole or of Catholics’ ongoing ecumenical relationship with them.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor’s comments came during the Richard Stewart Memorial Lecture, delivered at Worth Abbey on Oct. 29. The cardinal was joined at the lecture by the Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton and the Abbot of Worth, Christopher Jamison.

The cardinal, who was the Catholic Co-Chairman of the Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), titled his lecture “ARCIC: Dead in the Water or Money in the Bank.” He recounted his own work in ecumenism from an autobiographical point of view while discussing theological dialogue, the search for communion, and “spiritual ecumenism.”

He also discussed the recent Anglican provision, reporting that a special provision for Anglicans might have been “helpful” in 1993 and 1994 when other groups of Anglicans joined the Catholic Church. However, this proposal was rejected as inappropriate because the bishops of England and Wales were dealing solely with clergy of the Church of England and a provision would have to be provided to all the churches of the Anglican Communion.

“If the Holy See had offered such Personal Ordinariates then, and in particular here in England, it might well have been seen as an un-ecumenical approach by the Holy See, as if wanting to put out the net as far as one could,” Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor opined.

He said that both Pope John Paul II and then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would have been against such a proposal, as were the leading Catholic prelates of Britain.

“Matters have moved on since then and the repeated requests by many Anglicans, not only from England but from other Provinces of the Anglican Communion, have necessitated a new approach, which is why I think that the Personal Ordinariates offered by the Holy Father can be seen not in any way un-ecumenical but rather as a generous response to people who have been knocking at the door for a long time.”

His other lecture remarks discussed his early interaction with Anglicans, Congregationalists and Methodists. Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor told how he became “imbued” with what the Second Vatican Council said about the “important work” of ecumenism in its document on the topic, “Unitatis Redintegratio.”

“While it stated quite clearly that the unity of the Church subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, it insisted that the Church must also pray and work to maintain, reinforce and protect the unity that Christ wills for her,” he explained.

Prayer in common with other Christians was “crucially important” because a change of heart and holiness of life should be regarded as the “soul” of the ecumenical movement, he said.

Turning to the “fruitful yet so inconclusive” aspects of ARCIC, he said: “In more than 40 years of official ecumenical dialogue with the Anglican Communion, it may be asked, ‘Where are we?’”

Some of the classic disputes at the root of divisions between Anglicans and Catholics, the cardinal stated, had been “basically resolved” through a new consensus on fundamental doctrine. While there is a “renewed understanding,” he said work remains on the relationship of Scripture and Tradition and the teaching authority which interprets it.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor also touched on the subject of the Anglican Communion’s decision to ordain women to the priesthood and the episcopate, a action that he said created a “Very difficult obstacle.” However, in his view the ARCIC documents are still “money in the bank” because they are an achieved consensus and a study and reflection on a “renewed vision” of Christ’s Church.

The Second Vatican Council’s teaching that the Church of Jesus Christ “subsists in” the Roman Catholic Church takes seriously that there are individual Christians, ecclesial elements, and in the case of the Orthodox even “genuinely particular churches” outside the “visible confines” of the Catholic Church

This teaching means that full communion, as the goal of ecumenism, “has not to be understood as simply a return of separated brothers and sisters and churches to the bosom of Catholic mother church.”

“This full communion, unity, does not of course mean uniformity but unity within diversity and diversity within unity,” he added.

The new Anglican provision must be understood in the context of the papacy’s mission to preserve Church unity and freedom from “one-sided ties,” the cardinal asserted.

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U.S. bishops launch grassroots effort to fight for Catholic concerns on health care

Washington D.C., Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - After attempting to persuade lawmakers to listen to Catholic concerns about health care reform, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has initiated a grassroots campaign to mobilize the faithful across the country. The effort includes bulletin inserts, pulpit announcements, web-based ads and an appeal for bishops to personally contact legislators who serve in their diocese.

Cardinal Francis George and the chairmen of the three major bishops' committees engaged in health care reform wrote all of the U.S. bishops on Oct. 28 and said, "The debate and decisions on health care reform are reaching decisive moments." In order to ensure that abortion is not funded with federal dollars, consciences are protected and that health care is affordable for all, the USCCB leaders asked every bishop to personally take action and lend their support.

The official memo sent out to every U.S. bishop includes a bulletin insert, a flier, a prayer petition and suggested pulpit announcements. In addition, every bishop was asked to personally mail, email and speak with those lawmakers who serve in their diocese.

The letter to the bishops also requests that they have every parish in their diocese insert or hand-stuff the USCCB Bulletin Insert on Health Care Reform "as soon as possible," since voting on the current health care measures is likely to take place in November. 

Catholic bishops have been calling for health care reform for years, the letter notes. Saying that “Catholic moral tradition teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential to protecting human life and dignity,” the bishops cite the numerous Catholic emergency rooms, shelters, clinics, and charities that “pick up the pieces of a failing health care system.”

Though health care reform is desperately needed, the U.S. bishops’ conference has concluded that all committee approved bills are seriously deficient on the issues of abortion and conscience, and do not provide adequate access to health care for immigrants and the poor.

If these issues go unaddressed, the bishops have pledged to vigorously oppose the current reforms.

Despite presidential and congressional assurances that abortions will not be funded by taxpayer money in the proposed health care reform bills, none of the proposed bills have such restrictions. The Capps amendment is worded in such a way that money to fund abortions is shuffled around so that it merely appears not to do so. Currently, no bill offers conscience protection clauses or ensures that legal immigrants are afforded access to health care.

The USCCB bulletin insert asks that Catholics contact the Senate and request that they listen to Catholics' concerns. “During floor debate on the health care reform bill, please support an amendment to incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights. If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed,” the insert says.

A similarly worded message for members of the House of Representatives suggests that each representative be encouraged to “support the Stupak Amendment that addresses essential pro-life concerns on abortion funding and conscience rights in the health care reform bill. Help ensure that the Rule for the bill allows a vote on this amendment.”

The Stupak amendment attempts to apply the wording of the Hyde Amendment, which has kept federal funding from going to abortions, as well as provided conscience protections to health care professionals.

The USCCB has also released a banner ad which can be posted to individual websites to encourage visitors to take action and support health care reform that respects life.

More information about the grassroots campaign can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/healthcare/official_documents.shtml#alerts

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Catholics in Spain, France and Chile find Christian alternatives to Halloween

Madrid, Spain, Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - This week, the Spanish daily “La Razon” published an article discussing the efforts of Catholics in Spain, France and Chile to offer alternatives to customary Halloween activities.
 
According to the newspaper, Halloween “is not as innocent as dressing up as a witch and creating jack-o-lanterns with scary looking faces.”  Father Joan Maria Canals of the Committee on the Liturgy of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference told La Razon that the problem with Halloween is its connection to “occultism and anti-Christianity.”
 
Parents should “be conscious and channel the meaning of the day towards that which is good and beautiful instead of towards terror, fear and death itself,” he added.
 
In the Spanish Diocese of Alcala de Henares, the Emmanuel Community will hold a vigil on Saturday night beginning at 10 p.m. Children and young people will be invited to participate in “music, Eucharistic adoration and dancing ‘in a Christian spirit’.”
 
In Paris, Catholics have created something they call “Holywins.” Organizers of the activity say, “In a society that avoids the issue of death, the feast of Halloween has merit for making us focus on this issue, but it only deals with morbid and macabre rituals.”
 
For this reason, “the young people of Paris want to take advantage of the feast of Halloween to bear witness to the faith and hope of Christians regarding death on the vigil of All Saints and All Souls,” they said.
 
“La Razon” also noted that in Santiago, Chile, the evening of October 31 has become an occasion to celebrate a spring festival. “No monsters, ghosts or witches here. All the costumes children wear are of angels, princesses, and even saints,” the article stated, quoting one store owner who said demand has been changing for the past decade.
 
“Before customers only wanted scary costumes. Now they want to dress up as women from ancient times, as queens, Cinderella and angels,” he added.

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Holy Father encourages Panama to continue working for equality, moral stability

Vatican City, Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - In a meeting today with Panama's new ambassador to the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI called on the country  to work for equality among its peoples and to build a society based on stable moral virtues.

The Pope spoke to Ambassador Delia Cardenas Christie acknowledging that Panama’s identity, “which for centuries has been forged as a mosaic of ethnicities, peoples, and cultures, presents itself as an eloquent sign to the human family that peaceful co- existence between persons of diverse origins in a climate of communion and cooperation is possible.” 

Having noted Panama's existence as a diverse but cooperative nation, the Pope encouraged the Central American country to continue working toward “greater social, economic, and cultural equality between the distinct sectors of society.  He explained that this could be done by “renouncing selfish interests, strengthening solidarity, and reconciling wills.”

Pope Benedict also praised the efforts of Panamanian authorities “in strengthening democratic institutions and public life rooted upon strong ethical pillars.”

“In this respect they have spared no efforts to promote an efficient and independent juridical system and to act in all areas with honor, transparency in community activism, and professionalism and diligence in resolving the problems affecting the citizens.” The Pope implied such actions “will favor the development of a just and fraternal society in which no sector of the population is forgotten or doomed to violence or marginalization"

Benedict XVI also dwelt on the Church's role in Panama, which has “played an essential and constructive role in shaping Panama's identity, forming part of the nation's spiritual patrimony and cultural heritage.”  The Church in Panama has been particularly relevant in education, and assistance to the poor, sick, weak, imprisoned. It has also worked for the defense of life and marriage, fought corruption, and worked towards peace.

All of the actions, the Pope noted, “are irreplaceable elements for creating a healthy social fabric and building a dynamic society, precisely because of the stability of the moral values sustaining, ennobling, and dignifying it.” 

Benedict XVI concluded by emphasizing that the advancement of society depends on an abundance of “persons with inner righteousness, faultless conduct, and the resolute will to work toward the common good, and who also impart to further generations a true humanism, sown within the family and cultivated at school so that the welfare of the nation be the fruit of the fundamental growth of the person and of all persons.”  

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New York Times refuses to publish Archbishop Dolan's op-ed on anti-Catholic bias

New York City, N.Y., Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - The New York Times declined to publish an op-ed presented by the Archbishop of New York, Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, in which he made the point that the “Gray Lady” has been reporting stories with a strong anti-Catholic bias.

In his new blog on the archdiocese’s website, Archbishop Dolan explains that his article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed, but the Times declined to publish it.

In the blog version, Archbishop Dolan says that next to baseball, “sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-Catholicism.”

“If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church,” writes the Archbishop, “look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks.”

On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community.

“Yet,” Archbishop Dolan observes, “the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency.”

“Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so... but I can criticize this kind of ‘selective outrage,’” he insists.

The op-ed explains that “In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools; while in 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that showed numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students.”

“Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs,” the Archbishop writes. 

The Archbishop then takes issue with a New York Times October 16 “front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child.” 

“Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible.”

“However,” he writes, “one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan.”

“No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention,” he charges.

Then, on October 21, the Archbishop recounts, “the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome.”

“Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans.

“Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition,” he explains.

Nevertheless, the Archbishop of New York says the “most combustible example” was  “an intemperate and scurrilous piece” on the opinion pages of the Times by Maureen Dowd, a 57-year-old alumna of Catholic University of America who has a history of anti-Catholic bias.

“In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription -- along with every other German teenage boy -- into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.”

Describing the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives as “the matter that triggered the spasm” of Dowd, Archbishop Dolan says that it “is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning.” “But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.”

“I do not mean to suggest that anti-Catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times,” writes Archbishop Dolan, who also admits that “the Catholic Church is not above criticism.”

“We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be ‘rained out’ for good.”

The Archbishop of New York, also an alumnus of the Catholic University of America with a doctorate in Church History, writes that “my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.”

“Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.”

The full version of Archbishop Dolan’s column is available at:  http://www.archny.org/news-events/columns-and-blogs/blog---the-gospel-in-the-digital-age/index.cfm?i=14042

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Argentinean experts warn of risks associated with legalizing same-sex unions

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - As the Argentinean Congress prepares to debate two bills that would legalize same-sex unions, the Institute for Marriage and Family of the Catholic University of Argentina warned that these measures would result in “the redefining of marriage and thus the changing of its essence, thus affecting the common good.”

The Institute stated that marriage “is founded on the free, permanent and exclusive bond between one man and one woman.”  They continued, “the human right to be married belongs to all people, but only with regards to marriage contracted between man and woman, as the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights explicitly states.”

After reaffirming that traditional marriage “is an authentic good for society,” the Institute noted that “limiting marriage to the union between man and woman is not unjust discrimination.”

The Institute also warned that the bills would allow homosexuals the chance to adopt children, which would put the interests of adults above those of the child. “Scientific studies show the importance of the presence of father and mother in child rearing,” the organization added.

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Bishop calls on Dominican political parties to nominate candidates with ‘clean’ criminal history

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Jesus Maria de Jesus Moya of San Francisco de Macoris called on political parties in the Dominican Republic to nominate candidates with a clean criminal record so citizens can cast their vote without worry.

"Parties have the serious obligation not to nominate candidates who are involved in drugs, crime, corruption or theft, because politics is supposed to be about promoting the common good," the bishop said.

He stressed that Dominican voters need to choose from candidates with a clean record in order "to cast their vote in peace and tranquility."

Bishop Jesus Moya also called for the strengthening of the family and the teaching of values as a means of combating the lack of safety in the country.

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Legionaries of Christ barred from ministry in Archdiocese of Miami

Miami, Fla., Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - On Thursday the Archdiocese of Miami published a short disclaimer on its website, without any link, announcing both in English and Spanish that “the Legionaries of Christ are prohibited from functioning in the Archdiocese of Miami.”

“Furthermore, Regnum Christi - a group of lay Catholics related to the Legionaries of Christ - are not and have never been approved by Archbishop Favalora to work in any parish, school or other Archdiocesan entity,” the short web post says.

On the same day, all parishes in Miami received a memorandum signed by the Chancellor, Monsignor Michael Souckar, stating that “the Legionaries of Christ are prohibited from functioning in the Archdiocese of Miami, effective immediately.”

“In the past,” the memorandum explains, “their priests were given individual approval by the Vicar General each time they wished to come to the Archdiocese of Miami but their ministry was restricted to their own members.”

“Because the Legionaries of Christ has not abided by these restrictions, Archbishop Favalora has barred them from any ministry in the Archdiocese of Miami.”

In addition, Msgr. Souckar’s letter says, “Regnum Christi is not nor has it ever been approved to work in any parish, school or other Archdiocesan entity. It recently has been discovered that Regnum Christi was involved in several schools without Archdiocesan approval. Any such involvement with Regnum Christi is to end immediately.”

“Pastors/Administrators are asked to share this information with school principals and those who coordinate parish events,” the memo finishes.

Legionaries of Christ spokesman Jim Fair offered CNA a brief reaction on Friday, stating, “First of all, we're really surprised.”

Fair explained that the reason for the decision was not yet clear to the Legion and that he expects there to be further discussions. “Obviously, we'll be obedient to the directives” issued by Archdiocese of Miami, he added.

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Bishops' campaign declares war on abortion funding in health care

Washington D.C., Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is calling on Catholics nationwide “to prevent healthcare reform from being derailed by the abortion lobby,” the conference said on Friday. The unprecedented campaign encompasses 19,000 parishes across the country, and asks the faithful to fight for restrictions on abortion funding in the health care bills by contacting their congressmen.

Because the USCCB has championed the cause of health care reform for over a decade, their current effort is extraordinary.

“The bishops want health care reform, but they recoil at any expansion of abortion,” explained Helen Osman, USCCB Secretary for Communications.

The bishops, who described the mobilization of parishes as “a make or break effort,” have already told Congress in a letter, “If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously.”

While the grassroots effort does not appear to have risen to the level of outright opposition, the bishops also reiterated in their bulletin insert that “our nation is at a crossroads. Policies adopted in health care reform will have an impact for good or ill for years to come.”

The time line for influencing members of Congress appears to be short, with a vote on the bill expected in early November.

The Catholic bishops are also pushing for affordability, access to health care for legal immigrants and the protection of consciences.

“Genuine health care reform is much needed and should protect the life and dignity of all people from the moment of conception until natural death. Mandated coverage for abortion should be excluded and longstanding policies against abortion funding and supporting conscience rights should be included. No one should be required to pay for or participate in  abortion,” they said, reiterating that no current bill meets these criteria.

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Ecuadoran president forgets ‘Caritas in Veritate,’ asks Pope to write social encyclical

Madrid, Spain, Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - President Rafael Correa of Ecuador surprised reporters in Europe during a conference at the University of Oxford in which he reviewed various papal documents and complained that Pope Benedict XVI should issue an encyclical that addresses social issues, unaware apparently of “Caritas in Veritate.”

According to the Cope Radio Network, Correa was claiming to address Church issues during his remarks at Oxford and said he “would like to see an encyclical that vigorously and directly denounces, without euphemisms, the ideology disguised as science that some wanted to impose on us as the conclusion of the story.”

Cope reported that Correa mentioned various Episcopal and magisterial documents but made no mention of the documents of Benedict XVI, such as the recent encyclical “Caritas in Veritate.”

He claimed that his own personal social and economic principals “are founded upon the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, on Liberation Theology, and the 21st century Socialism which we are building in Latin America, at least in Ecuador, which also draws from these sources.”

Correa also accused the Church in Latin America of removing social concerns from the “center of pastoral action” and placing “greater emphasis on the issues of individual morality and the liturgy.”

He praised Pope Leo XIII's encyclical “Rerum Novarum” by for rebelling against “the consequences of the industrial revolution and workers’ issues,” and he said, “As a Catholic, I anxiously await an analogous encyclical for the times in which we live, denouncing the issues of employment and immigration.”

“How will we be able to ethically explain to future generations that in this supposed globalization, we want to be able to mobilize capital and markets more and more easily, but we penalize and even criminalize the movement of human beings with ever greater rigor?” Correa asked.  “We cannot end misery with coercive measures, with an institutionalized apartheid,” Correa said.

To the surprise of many, Correa insisted that as a Catholic he “anxiously awaits an encyclical that denounces how in today’s world, as during the industrial revolution, capital has more rights than human beings.”

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Cardinal Pell sees anti-Christian motives in government bid to take over hospital

Canberra, Australia, Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - The Australian Capital Territory Government’s bid to buy Calvary Public Hospital in Canberra could endanger other public hospitals run by religious organizations, Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell has said. He has also asserted that anti-Christian motives may be driving the proposal.

The cardinal gave his full support to Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Mark Coleridge, who opposes the sale of the 250-bed Catholic-run hospital.

According to the Archdiocese of Sydney, Cardinal Pell said the motives behind the effort to buy the hospital, which is also a leading teaching hospital, appear to be ideologically driven by anti-Christian elements in the ACT’s Labour Government.

The ACT Government, which oversees the capital area of Canberra within New South Wales, offered $77 million to hospital owners Little Company of Mary Health Care (LCMHC). It claimed the takeover would boost investment in the hospital and streamline services.

The LCMHC would be able to purchase the nearby palliative care center, Clare Holland House, for $9 million. It has provisionally agreed to the deal.

The Government's claims of improved service and taxpayer savings, the Archdiocese of Sydney reported, are seen by many as “no more than smokescreen with many Catholics and non-Catholics in Canberra unconvinced by such claims.”

Cardinal Pell believes the Government’s offer should be seen in the wider context of hostility to religious participation in public life and service provision. He has warned that other religious-run public hospitals will be targeted if the sale of Calvary Public Hospital is successful.

“Whatever the peculiarities of the ACT, what happens at Calvary will inevitably have some effect on other Catholic health care institutions,” Archbishop Coleridge commented. He said the loss of the hospital would diminish the Catholic voice and Catholic contributions to the ethical debate concerning the adoption of a Charter of Human Rights.

Cardinal Pell and religious leaders of other faiths have voiced concerns over the proposed Charter, citing the British Human Rights Act of 1998 as an example of a charter that can create severe restrictions on religious freedoms and freedom of speech.

“Perhaps there is in the ACT Government an ideological bias not found elsewhere – a bias which claims that private health providers, let alone Catholic providers, have no place in public hospitals," Archbishop Coleridge speculated.

However, the archbishop, Cardinal Pell, and Catholic organizations are concerned that any bias is not unique and may relate to the larger pressures of secular society.

ACT Health Minister Katy Gallagher has denied that “ideology and Christian values” have been part of the government’s consideration. She has accused Cardinal Pell of interfering with the proposed sale.

However, opposition health spokesman for the ACT, Jeremy Hanson, said the cardinal was entitled to his comments, which highlighted the flaws of the proposal.

Others concerned about the sale worry that the $77 million price for the hospital would affect finances for health services for several years.

Permission from the Vatican must be granted to the LCMHC before the ACT can take over the hospital, Further, the Archdiocese of Sydney reports, submissions from ACT citizens and the church must also be heard.

Archbishop Coleridge has urged Catholics to speak “vigorously and creatively” before submissions close.

"This is required of us, I think, if we wish to honor the legacy of those who worked so hard to establish and conduct Calvary as a first rate Catholic hospital at the service of the whole community, especially the vulnerable," he remarked.

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National Catholic Bioethics Center backs campaign against abortion funding in health care

Washington D.C., Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - In the wake of the U.S. bishop's call for a massive grassroots campaign to remind Congress that health care is only truly health care if it respects every human being's right to life, the National Catholic Bioethics Center has stated its support for the campaign.

The NCBC warned that if the current proposed legislation is passed, “immoral mandates will be imposed if there is no explicit conscience provision.”  They also support the bishops' position which declares that no taxpayers should be required to fund abortions and that no government authority should mandate the availability or performance of such immoral procedures.

In their message of support for the bishops' campaign, the NCBC agreed that the voters' obligation was to make Congress's first priority the inclusion of pro-life language and conscience protections into the health care reforms.

However, they also noted that if such language and provisions were not included in the bill when it came to vote, it must be defeated, thus ensuring that the evil of abortion not be introduced in the sheep's clothing of health care reform.

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