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Archive of November 2, 2009

N.J. priest laid to rest after 'life of devotion and service'

Chatham, N.J., Nov 2, 2009 (CNA) - Fr. Edward Hinds, a New Jersey pastor who was stabbed to death last week, was laid to rest on Saturday in a Mass celebrated in St. Patrick's Church by Bishop Arthur Serratelli. Hinds was remembered as a "quiet voice of peaceful love," according to the Associated Press.

Hinds had chosen to be a parish priest. “Even though he had advanced degrees in canon law and was trained for administrative work, he wanted to directly work with people," retired Bishop Frank J. Rodimer told the Diocese of Patterson's newspaper, The Beacon.

His parishioners remembered Fr. Hinds as having been very concerned about the community. He also placed great emphasis on the family, always asking his parishioners how their families were doing, and telling those involved in ministry in his parish, “you got to take care of your family first. We are all called to ministry but also remember your sacrament of marriage first,” said John Polanin, a parish trustee at St. Patrick's. 

"There was nothing in his life that could have provoked such a violent attack," said Monsignor Kenneth Lasch, a retired priest who met monthly with Hinds. Hinds was found dead in the rectory of his parish on Oct. 23 after he failed to show up for daily Mass. He had been stabbed repeatedly with a kitchen knife.

The church janitor, Jose Feliciano, has been arrested for the murder, allegedly provoked by a discussion between Feliciano and Hinds regarding Feliciano's dismissal due to parish finances. Many members of the parish were shocked by the janitor's arrest, as he had been employed at the parish for 17 years.

In the end, said Bishop Serratelli, “a parish has been robbed of its pastor. Priests have been deprived of a brother. A bishop has lost a son. We mourn his passing, for we know that Fr. Hinds strove... to open for others the way to the heart of Christ. And so we pray for Fr. Hinds, May the Lord grant him the forgiveness of whatever sins he may have committed through human weakness and grant him everlasting peace.”

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Lawyer says Mexico should build daycare centers, not promote abortion

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 2, 2009 (CNA) - Constitutional lawyer Ingrid Tapia called on the Mexico City government last week to set aside public resources for the building of daycare centers instead of promoting abortion.

Speaking to Matutino Express, Tapia, who is a member of the Center for the Comprehensive Study and Formation of Women, underscored that human life exists from the moment of conception and that “abortion is a crime in 31 entities of the country.”

Tapia noted that 16 Mexican states have passed laws defending human life and that according to recent polls, 80 percent of Mexicans respect life.

She also said that women who seek abortions “do not do so in order to exercise a right, but rather because they are living in conditions of misery and deprivation.”  For this reason she called for improvement of the country’s social and health policies.

Referring to groups that promote abortion, Tapia said, “Instead of promoting a law to see how women can get rid of their children, there ought to be a law creating more daycare centers.”

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Catholic association calls for registration of doctors who perform abortions

Madrid, Spain, Nov 2, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, Dr. Jose Maria Simon, said last week that instead of creating a registry of doctors who refuse to perform abortions, the Collegial Medical Organization should create one for those who do.

In his judgment, it would be easier to register those who practice abortions, since “they are much fewer in number.” In addition, he believes that this would make it easier to keep the practice under control since it is still a crime, “although it has been legalized in certain cases.”

Dr. Simon added that the registry would diminish the likelihood of reprisals against doctors who are “respectful of human life” and would prevent restrictions on the right to conscientious objection, “which comes directly from natural law, from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and from the Spanish constitution itself.”

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Mexican bishops call for rigorous and honest fiscal policy

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 2, 2009 (CNA) - In response to the debate in the Mexican congress on next year’s budget and fiscal policy, the country's  bishops have called for a more just, rigorous and honest fiscal system.

We hope that by entering into discussion, as well as “searching for the best path for the good of our country, an appropriate solution can be reached,” the bishops said in statement about the heated debate over whether or not to raise taxes.

“The tax burden must respect the principles of solidarity, rationality and equality,” said Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez of Tuxtla Gutierrez, speaking on behalf of the Mexican bishops.

He said any fiscal reform must be “just, efficient and effective” and should be focused on protecting the poor and needy families, “so that we can all have a decent life.”

The archbishop recalled that all Christians have the duty to pay taxes, as “taxes and public spending are of crucial economic importance for the civil and political community.”  He added that the objective should be “to make public financing an effective instrument of development and solidarity.”

Just and efficient fiscal policy “produces virtuous effects on the economy because it leads to growth in jobs, business and non-profit initiatives, and it contributes to the credibility of the State as the guarantor of social assistance and protection programs, which are intended particularly to protect those who are weakest,” Archbishop Cabrera said.

“In the distribution of resources, public finance policy must follow the principles of solidarity and equality,” with special emphasis on sustaining the family, he added.

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Father fights hospital, mother, to keep son on life support

London, England, Nov 2, 2009 (CNA) - A man in Great Britain is fighting to keep his 12 month old son on life support, while the boy's mother and the hospital are arguing that his rare neuro-muscular condition does not leave him with a sufficient quality of life to warrant continued treatment.

If the high court rules in favor of the mother and hospital, it would be the first time that a U.K. court has ruled against the will of a parent and determined that life support can be removed from a child who does not have any brain damage.

The child, who is only known as “Baby RB,” has been in the hospital since birth. He is currently on a ventilator, though his father argues that a tracheotomy would allow the child to breathe independently, and thus be cared for at home.

The father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is planning on submitting videos to the court that demonstrate that Baby RB's brain is unaffected, as he can see, hear, feel, and recognize his parents. He is also able to play with some toys and and enjoy stories and music.

Anthony Fairweather, a lawyer for the child's mother, told Sky News that “RB's mother has sat by her son's bedside every day since he was born.  In her mind the intolerable suffering experienced by her son must outweigh her own personal grief should she lose her child." Doctors say that the child's quality of life is so poor that keeping him alive is not in his own best interest.

This is not the first time that the life of a child has been determined by the British courts, though a General Medical Council survey found that 80 percent of parents don't think that courts should be allowed to decide whether or not a child should be kept alive. A spokeswoman for The British Medical Association told The Guardian that though such cases are disturbing, they must be resolved in the courts when the parents and doctors don't agree on the best treatment for the child.

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Archbishop Chaput calls on Obama to keep his promise to exclude abortion funding

Denver, Colo., Nov 2, 2009 (CNA) - Saying that no present proposals for health care reform adequately restrict federal funding for abortions, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has called on President Obama to fulfill his past promise for such restrictions. Criticizing “confusing political doubletalk” about the issue, he said that Catholics need to “vigorously oppose” the bills in their present form.

Writing in his Nov. 4 column for the Denver Catholic Register, Archbishop Chaput noted President Obama’s promise, voiced in an address to Congress on Sept. 9, that “his” health care plan would not provide public monies for abortion.

Though the president is solidly dedicated to preserving federal protections for legalized abortion, the Archbishop of Denver suggested that this gives him political space to compromise.

“Excluding abortion funding from the president's health-care efforts – I mean really excluding it and not sneaking it in under the cover of some bureaucratic shell game – would be an easy concession for Congress and the White House to make. It's a modest price to pay for Catholic and similar prolife support, or at least their neutrality. It might also put some meat on the bones of Washington's talk about “'common ground,'” the archbishop wrote.

Saying that “not one” of the present legislative proposals for health care reform lives up to President Obama’s promise to exclude abortion funding, Archbishop Chaput said that since last August the U.S. bishops and their staff have “worked tirelessly” with Congress and the White House to help craft “mutually acceptable” legislation.

“Let's remember that America's Catholic bishops have pushed for national health care reform for decades, long before our mass media discovered it as a theme,” he wrote, emphasizing that health care must include the unborn child.

“But every effort by concerned members of Congress to ensure morally acceptable legislation – despite the outstanding leadership of Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak – has been rebuffed, often with the kind of political doubletalk that seems deliberately designed to confuse,” he continued.

“The health-care reform debate has been dogged by a pattern of misleading, complex and at times flatly dishonest claims in Congress about the content of the 2,000 page legislation now taking final shape and nearing a vote. Don’t be fooled.”

Not one of the proposals offers true “common ground” on issues vital to Catholics, Archbishop Chaput added, reporting that leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced that efforts to revise the proposals have failed.

“All of the health-care reform solutions currently facing Congress violate human dignity in potentially grievous ways. Unless these proposals are immediately changed to reflect the concerns of Congressman Stupak, other like-minded members of Congress, and leaders of the national Catholic community, Catholics need to vigorously oppose and help defeat this dangerous legislation.”

The archbishop announced that he and Auxiliary Bishop James Conley would speak directly to the Catholics of his archdiocese in a letter read at all Masses.

He also urged Catholics to contact their senators and representative immediately to demand Catholic and pro-life concerns be respected in health care legislation.

More information about the health care debate can be found at: www.usccb.org/healthcare.

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Texas Planned Parenthood director has change of heart, becomes pro-life

College Station, Texas, Nov 2, 2009 (CNA) - A director of a Planned Parenthood affiliate in Texas has resigned after eight years with the organization because watching an ultrasound of an abortion triggered a “massive” change of heart.

"I just thought I can't do this anymore, and it was just like a flash that hit me and I thought that's it," said Johnson, who resigned from Bryan Planned Parenthood on Oct. 6.

She had been its director for two years, KBTX TV reports.

Johnson said Planned Parenthood was struggling in the tough economy and was changing its business model from one that advocated prevention to one that focused on abortion.

"It seemed like maybe that's not what a lot of people were believing any more because that's not where the money was. The money wasn't in family planning, the money wasn't in prevention, the money was in abortion and so I had a problem with that,” Johnson told KBTX.

She said she was told to bring in more women who wanted abortions.

"I feel so pure in heart [since leaving]. I don't have this guilt, I don't have this burden on me anymore that's how I know this conversion was a spiritual conversion," remarked Johnson, a churchgoing Episcopalian.

She has now given her support to the Coalition For Life, a pro-life group with a building down the street from Planned Parenthood.

According to the Coalition's website, Johnson's decision to resign occurred during its sixth 40 Days for Life campaign. “This is by far the most amazing thing that has happened to the Coalition for Life throughout its entire history...we thank God!” the site says.

The Coalition’s volunteers regularly pray on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood. Johnson has been meeting with Coalition executive director Shawn Carney and has prayed with volunteers outside of Planned Parenthood.

In an e-mail to supporters, Carney said Johnson experienced a “massive change of heart” after witnessing an abortion on an ultrasound machine.

“I have been working with Abby over the last few weeks and she has even prayed outside of the clinic she once directed,” he reported.

“I have known Abby ‘through the fence’ since getting involved and working for the Coalition for Life. We have always been on the sidewalk to pray for everyone involved in abortion, especially those who work in this industry and it has been a blessing to see this happen over the last few weeks.”

Carney reports that Johnson left Planned Parenthood “on good terms.” The organization offered Johnson her job back with more money, but she refused on moral grounds.

“Abby believes in the power of prayer and she thanks all of you for your peaceful presence outside of her former workplace all of these years,” Carney’s message concluded, asking for continued prayers for Johnson.

According to KBTX, on Friday both Johnson and the Coalition for Life were issued temporary restraining orders filed by Planned Parenthood.

“We regret being forced to turn to the courts to protect the safety and confidentiality of our clients and staff, however, in this instance it is absolutely necessary,” said Rochelle Tafolla, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson.

The organization contends that it would be irreparably harmed by the disclosure of certain information.

A hearing about the order has been set for November 10.

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Denver bishop: Catholics must demand delivery from Obama on health care promises

Denver, Colo., Nov 2, 2009 (CNA) - Stressing that “there is very little time to act,” Bishop James Conley, the Auxiliary Bishop of Denver, told CNA in an exclusive interview on Monday that now is the time for President Obama to prove his critics wrong and show them that he really meant it when he said abortions would not be funded in the health care reform bill.

Bishop Conley added, “If we don't demand honesty from our public officials and responsiveness to the serious concerns of the Catholic community, nobody will do it for us -- and we, our beliefs and our institutions will be the losers.”

The full interview between CNA and Bishop Conley follows.

CNA: The U.S. bishops are now calling on Catholics around the country to immediately contact their federal representatives and senators to demand changes in the health-care bill.  Why the urgency?

Bishop Conley: There's very little time to act.  Congress could try to push legislation to a vote within days.  All of the five main proposals currently under congressional discussion as of today, November 2, are fatally flawed.


CNA:  Why did the bishops wait so long to act?


Bishop Conley
: It depends on what you mean by "wait."  Keep in mind that the bishops have been urging health-care reform for decades.  And they've been vigorously engaged, personally and through their staffs, with informing their people about the key issues involved in reform this year.  They've also been active in trying to collaborate with Congress and the White House.  The Church wants to work with the president and Congress in ensuring basic health care for everyone in our country.  I think the bishops waited so long to turn to their people because they believed Congress would act responsibly.  They believed the president would keep his word about excluding abortion and abortion funding from any plan he signs.  That may still happen.  But I wouldn't count on it...  It's clear that not everyone we tried to work with in Washington was acting in good faith.


CNA: How could you summarize the USCCB's position on health care in general, and on the bills currently being discussed in Congress?

Bishop Conley: The Church regards basic health care for everyone as a right, not a privilege.  That's the principle, and it applies especially to the poor, the unborn child, the immigrant and the elderly.  Of course, those services can legitimately be delivered in many different ways.  That's a matter for elected officials to resolve.  That's their job.  The Catholic preference in approaching social problems is always toward subsidiarity.  In other words, problems should be handled by the people and resources closest to the problem, at the lowest possible level.  Government can certainly play a role in helping to solve the problems, and at times government involvement may be the only way to ensure justice.  But for Catholics, government action is never the first, or even the preferred way, of resolving a social problem.

Regarding the bills currently in Congress: The bishops have stressed all along that health-care reform needs to exclude abortion and its funding.  It needs to provide strong conscience protections for medical professionals and institutions.  Despite all the claims to the contrary, none of the bills currently facing Congress adequately addresses these needs.

Obviously, we also need a system we can pay for.  It needs to be grounded in economic reality, and financially sound.  That's also a moral issue, and every parent knows it from experience.  We can't help anyone if we're insolvent. 


CNA: President Obama, during his September 9 address to Congress on health care, promised that abortion would not be covered with federal tax dollars and that strong conscience protection would be included in his bill. Isn't this time for Catholics to address especially President Obama, as much as they should address Congress, to deliver on his promise?

Bishop Conley: I think many Catholics listened to the president back in September during his congressional address and were moved to believe in his good will, even if they hadn't voted for him.  The president's critics have claimed all along that he tells people what they want to hear, then finds reasons to do something quite different.  This is the moment when the president will prove his critics wrong -- or right.  The president is the leader of his party, and his party controls both houses of Congress.  It would use up very little of the White House's political capital to meet the health-care concerns of the Catholic community.  If the effort isn't made by the White House to meet our concerns, then we'll know the difference between shrewd marketing and real commitment when it comes to public eloquence about the "common ground."


CNA: Some Catholics suggest that health care reform should be supported even without the conditions proposed by the USCCB, since the goal of universal health care is a greater good. What would you answer to that?

Bishop Conley: The health of a society is never served by allowing or funding the killing of innocent life, beginning with the unborn child.  The common good is also never served by abusing the conscience rights and religious freedom of individuals and institutions. A good end never justifies morally compromised means.  Good intentions are the first victims of bad choices, and that applies just as forcefully to public policy as it does to personal behavior.


CNA: What would be the "worst case scenario" on this crucial issue and what are the Bishops considering doing?


Bishop Conley: I think the bishops are doing everything they can do.  The "worst case scenario" in the current health-care debate is faithful Catholic laypeople doing nothing, or underestimating the gravity of the problems in the pending federal health-care legislation.  If we don't demand honesty from our public officials and responsiveness to the serious concerns of the Catholic community, nobody will do it for us -- and we, our beliefs and our institutions will be the losers. 

Unless and until these very reasonable Catholic concerns are met, Catholics need to treat this legislation as dangerous and inadequate; work to defeat it; and failing that, press the president to veto it.

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