Archive of November 6, 2009

Long-delayed Illinois parental notification law blocked by restraining order

Chicago, Ill., Nov 6, 2009 (CNA) - A judge has issued a temporary restraining order on the enforcement of a 1995 Illinois parental notification requirement for minors who seek abortions. Supporters of the law said the decision means Illinois will remain an “abortion dumping ground” for minors wanting to avoid other states’ restrictions.

On Wednesday afternoon Cook County Judge Daniel Riley said he felt the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which sought the order, had “demonstrated the distinct possibility of irreparable harm,” the Associated Press reports.

Thirty-five other states have similar laws, but Illinois has been delayed by various court actions. This means some teens seeking abortions come to Illinois to escape nearby states’ notification laws.

"This is a dumping ground for other states," commented Joseph Scheidler, national director of the Pro-Life Action League. "You go look at the license plates at the abortion clinics."

Lorie Chaiten, head of the Illinois ACLU’s reproductive rights project, claimed that the law would allow young women to be abused. Chaiten also cited the case of one young woman who was abandoned by her mother after she refused to have an abortion.

Assistant Illinois attorney general Thomas Ioppolo argued against the restraining order, asking "Why does Illinois have to have a law that doesn't take the parents into account?"

“The idea of having parental notification serves legitimate interests," he said.

Earlier on Wednesday the Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board had voted not to extend a 90-day grace period.

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation said that the board’s vote meant the law had gone into effect, but Judge Riley’s ruling bars the department from enforcing it.

Thomas Brejcha, president of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, called Illinois "an island of abortion in the Midwest."

A press release from the Thomas More Society said that its attorneys are “reviewing their options” after the decision. Its attorneys will return to court on Nov. 19 to argue in favor of the Society’s continued involvement in the case.

The law requires doctors to notify the parents or guardians of girls 17 or younger before the teens undergo abortions. The law does not require parental consent, but requires 48 hours notice before an abortion.

The law requires no notice in a medical emergency or in cases of sexual abuse. A provision allows girls to bypass parental notification by going to a judge.

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Maine voters upheld ‘the truth of marriage’ in Question 1 vote, archbishop says

Washington D.C., Nov 6, 2009 (CNA) -  
Responding to the successful passage of Maine’s Question 1, Archbishop of Louisville Joseph E. Kurtz has said that the people of Maine voted to “uphold the true nature of marriage as a union of one man and one woman.” Truth is inseparable from justice, he added, saying that society should strengthen marriage, not redefine and confuse it.

Question 1, an initiative which overturned the Maine legislature’s decision to recognize homosexual couples as married, passed on Tuesday by a margin of 52.9 to 47.1 percent.

Archbishop Kurtz, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, commented on the vote in a Wednesday statement.

“The voice of the people in this country has spoken once again on the side of justice, in favor of the truth about marriage,” he remarked.

“Law should be at the service of truth and justice. Laws based on untruths are unjust. Working for justice presumes that we work to preserve the true meaning of marriage,” Archbishop Kurtz explained.

The archbishop also emphasized that the Church stands for the basic rights of all people, including homosexual persons, and decries “any unjust discrimination against persons who experience same-sex attraction.”

“Protecting marriage between a man and a woman has nothing to do with denying basic rights to anyone, though it is often framed in such terms,” he remarked.

“Especially in our society where we see so many marriages fail, we should work to strengthen marriage rather than redefine it,” Archbishop Kurtz continued. “Marriage must be protected and promoted today for what it is and what it is meant to be: the lifelong, exclusive union between husband and wife. There are many ways to uphold the basic human rights of all people, but sacrificing marriage can never be one of them.”

The archbishop stated that marriage as an institution precedes all others, political or religious, and deserves the state’s reinforcement and protection.

“The Catholic Church recognizes that this truth is contentious and difficult for some to accept. Yet it is a truth both accessible to human reason and confirmed by revelation, and the Church reasonably and compassionately urges all to respect it.

“The nature of marriage is written in the truth of who we are as human persons, as man and woman. One can say it is written not merely on our hearts, but in our very bodies.”

Archbishop Kurtz also said that sexual difference is “real and valuable,” not a social construct that may be disregarded “at will and without cost.”

“Sadly, the attempts to redefine marriage today ignore or reject the unique identity and gifts of man and woman. Such a dismissal only fosters confusion about what it means to be human.”

Speaking on behalf of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, Archbishop Kurtz expressed his “deep gratitude” to Bishop of Portland Richard J. Malone and all organizations, individuals and voters who worked to support the “truth of marriage” in Maine.

He said the committee urges prayers that leaders and all the people of the country will promote and protect the “truth and beauty of marriage” and its place in service to human dignity and the common good.

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Vietnamese preparations for Holy Jubilee celebrations are well underway

Hanoi, Vietnam, Nov 6, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Hanoi has said that preparations for Vietnam’s Jubilee celebrations are “well underway.” Despite “enormous obstacles,” the Catholics of the country will celebrate the 350th anniversary of the first apostolic vicariates of the country and the 50th anniversary of the elevation of the country’s three archdioceses.

In an interview published on the Vietnamese bishops’ website on Nov. 3, Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet said that among the obstacles was the fact that the local government did not understand how the Jubilee ceremonies will take place.

“Such a huge crowd coming from multiple dioceses will make coordination efforts a real challenge,” he explained, saying that the town of So Kien has shortcomings in logistical support.

"Nonetheless, everything is all well underway now,” he added.

So Kien was the first site the Church in Vietnam could build a large and durable complex of buildings. The archbishop noted the “harmonic architecture” of the area, whose 10 acres contain a cathedral, the Vicariate Office of Tay Dang Ngoai and a deteriorated Major Seminary.

The location is almost equidistant between Hanoi and other major cities.

Expected to attend are 30 cardinals and bishops, 4,000 priests and at least 100,000 faithful. It is believed the event will be the largest recent gathering of Catholics in North Vietnam.

The archbishop credited generous efforts of northern dioceses and the Archdiocese of Hanoi in particular.

The opening ceremony is scheduled to take place at So Kien on the evening of Nov. 23, the Vigil of the Feast of the Vietnamese Martyrs.

The martyrs Andrew Dung Lac and 116 companions were beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

The Diocese of Hai Phong has designed a giant torch for the event, while a musical troupe with 200 trumpeters will come from Bui Chu diocese. Another 200 drummers will come from Thai Binh Diocese and a large choir will gather together 750 singers from the dioceses of Than Hoa, Hung Hoa and Lang Son.

A large number of volunteers for the ceremony had registered with the Jubilee’s organizing committee. About 300 of them come from the remote dioceses of Vinh and Phat Diem.

All Vietnamese dioceses will observe a Novena from Nov. 15-23 in preparation for the Holy Year. After the grand opening ceremony at So Kien, each diocese will have an opening ceremony on Nov. 28. The Holy Jubilee will run through Jan. 6, 2011 with the closing ceremony to be held on the Feast of the Epiphany at La Vang National Sacred Marian Center, Fr. J.B. An Dang tells CNA.

On Sept. 9, 1659, Pope Alexander VII established the vicariates of Dang Ngoai (Tonkin) and Dang Trong (Cochinchine) with French Bishops Francois Pallu and Lambert de la Motte, appointed first prelates. On Nov. 24, 1960, Blessed Pope John XXIII established the Catholic hierarchy in Vietnam, elevating Ha Noi, Hue and Saigon to archdioceses.

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Priest’s new book challenges men to learn ‘true manhood’ by following Christ

San Francisco, Calif., Nov 6, 2009 (CNA) - Pennsylvania Catholic priest Fr. Larry Richards, aiming to clear up “gender confusion” and to challenge men to pursue holiness, has released a new book titled “Be A Man: Become the Man God Created You to Be.”

In the book, Fr. Richards recounts his own efforts to learn “true manhood” and shares inspiring stories from men he has counseled and served in his decades as a priest, a press release from Ignatius Press says.

He encourages men to appreciate the differences between men and women, to set the right goals in life, to acknowledge personal faults and limitations, and to be masculine without being “macho.”

“Would you take a bullet if someone was raping your wife?” is one of his provocative questions to men.

Be A Man looks at King David, St. Paul, and Jesus as role models for men.

“Jesus Christ Himself reveals to us what it is to be a man,” Fr. Richards said. “It is about taking the one life that God has given us and give it away. When men are invited to die for others, they put others’ needs above their own. To be like Christ, and like all great men, will cost men their very lives.”

“There is a difference in the way men and women were created,” he remarked. “Men are not called to be women and vice versa. We are different – not better, but different – and men are called to be fully men. This needs to be dealt with up front because it’s a problem – in the Catholic Church and in the world itself.”

Fr. Richards said he encourages men to become men of “true love and wisdom” and to pursue holiness and find strength in faith and love. Each chapter of his book ends with a list of tasks that must be accomplished and questions for discussion and reflection.

“Read the book. Accomplish the tasks at the end of each chapter, no matter how hard or how “hokey” you may think them to be,” Fr. Richards urged. “I guarantee that if a man commits himself to each task and challenge, in the end his life will be changed forever!”

Be A Man is published by the San Francisco-based Ignatius Press.

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Traditional Anglican Communion of U.K. first to accept Pope's offer

London, England, Nov 6, 2009 (CNA) - Members of The Traditional Anglican Church in Great Britain have announced that they will enter into communion with the Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans.

According to the group's website, members met on October 29 for their October 2009 Assembly.  They scrapped their initial itinerary for the meeting following the Vatican's Oct. 20 announcement that an Apostolic Constitution was being prepared in response to requests from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful wanting to enter into full communion with the Church.  Instead, the assembly focused on what the news from the Vatican meant for the small group of Anglicans who are part of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

Anglican Bishop David Moyer released a statement describing the October Assembly as “grace-filled,” noting that everyone in attendance became “aware of the movement of the Holy Spirit.”

“The bishops, priests, ordinands, and lay representatives were brought to a place of 'being in full accord and of one mind,' as St. Paul prayed for the Church in Philippi,” Bishop Moyer wrote.

During the assembly, Bishop Moyer as well as Anglican Bishops John Hepworth and Robert Mercer fielded questions about the Vatican proposal before the Assembly unanimously passed resolutions written to carefully “and clearly reflect TTAC’s corporate desire and intention.”

The resolutions state that the Traditional Anglican Commuion in Great Britian “offers its joyful thanks to Pope Benedict XVI for his forthcoming Apostolic Constitution allowing the corporate reunion of Anglicans with the Holy See, and requests the Primate and College of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion to take the steps necessary to implement this Constitution.”

Bishop Moyer added, “All present realised that the requirement for the days ahead is patience, charity, and openness to the Holy Spirit.”

Though the Apostolic Constituion is not yet available, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith announced on Oct. 31 that it will be ready “by the end of the first week of November.”

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Maine marriage victory proves Americans 'aren't on board' with same-sex marriage, says expert

CNA STAFF, Nov 6, 2009 (CNA) - Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, spoke to CNA about the victory of Question 1 in Maine, which repeals previous legislation legalizing gay ‘marriage.’ Gallagher said that the victory, which defies statistics and expectations, “is very heartening to marriage supporters and disappointing to gay ‘marriage’ advocates.”

Noting that the supporters of same-sex marriage were surprised and upset by this victory, Gallagher analyzed the circumstances leading up to the election. “The gay marriage advocates,” she told CNA on Thursday, “had a three-year head start. They put millions into building an extensive grassroots organization.” She also noted, “Maine was a socially liberal state… and they have the entire political establishment on their side.”

Also important in the preparation for the election, was the experience and information gathered from the failure of Proposition 8 in California. “They ran the kind of ads that the critics said would have won in California,” Gallagher said. But the voters in Maine rejected the proposition by an even larger margin than they had in California.

Question 1, an initiative which overturned the Maine legislature’s decision to recognize homosexual couples as married, passed on Tuesday by a margin of 52.9 to 47.1 percent.

The results of Monday’s election represent “a change in the social narrative they were trying to create,” says Gallagher. Despite all the preparation, the extra time, and the incredible financial advantage, the American people have made it known that “they aren’t on board with this gay ‘marriage’ thing,” she concluded.

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Beatification of John Paul II will not take place in April of 2010, confirms Cardinal Bertone

Vatican City, Nov 6, 2009 (CNA) - The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, denied reports this week claiming that Pope John Paul II will be beatified in April 2010.

According to Vatican Radio, the cardinal said, “No, the news about the beatification next spring is not based on any concrete decision.” Several phases in the late Pope’s cause have yet to be completed, he added.

Vatican Radio also reported that the cardinal’s statements “confirm the opinions recently made by members of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints” who noted “it would be difficult to conclude the beatification process of John Paul II by the fifth anniversary of his death,” that is, by April of 2010.

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Pope to inaugurate new Paul VI Institute in Brescia this Sunday

Vatican City, Nov 6, 2009 (CNA) - During his pastoral visit to Brescia, Italy this weekend, Pope Benedict will inaugurate the new headquarters of the Paul VI Institute, created in honor the late Pontiff 30 years ago.

The new offices, which are next to the home where Pope Paul VI was born, include an archive, a library, the Paul VI Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, an auditorium, study halls and labs. They will be inaugurated by Benedict XVI in a solemn ceremony on Sunday.

During the same ceremony, the Holy Father will confer the International Paul VI Prize, defined by John Paul II as the “Catholic Nobel Prize.”

The Paul VI Institute was created shortly after the late Pontiff’s death by the Work for Christian Education of Brescia in order to study the personality, magisterium and times of Pope Paul.

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Cardinal Rode: Feminism, secular influence among reasons for visitation of U.S. sisters

Rome, Italy, Nov 6, 2009 (CNA) - Speaking to Vatican Radio on Tuesday, Cardinal Franc Rode shed more light on the reasons behind the ongoing apostolic visitation of female U.S. religious orders, saying that a “secularist mentality” and a “feminist spirit” evident in the communities were among the factors leading to the visitation.

The apostolic visitation was launched earlier this year with the stated aim of helping strengthen religious communities in the U.S., which are suffering from a sharp decline in vocations.

In his Tuesday interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Rode said “some criticism arrived from United States and an important representative of the U.S. Church warned me about certain irregularities or deficiencies in the lives of American women religious.”

Though Cardinal Rode did not say who the representative was, he also revealed the problems include “a certain secularist mentality that has spread among these religious families, perhaps even a certain 'feminist spirit.'”

“There a desire was manifested to take steps to find a remedy to this situation that many say is not as good as that of past decades,” Cardinal Rode explained to Vatican Radio.

Cardinal Rode also addressed the general criticisms of the visitations, specifically the belief that they are somehow fueled by mistrust of the women religious communities. “There are indeed misunderstandings,” he said, “as if it were an act of mistrust of the U.S. women religious congregations or as if it were a general criticism of their work. It is not about that.”

The prefect reiterated his earlier statement that the purpose of the visitation is “mainly to see the current situation of feminine consecrated life in the United States,” and that, “it is an obvious fact that the number of American women religious has dropped a lot, that their presence in schools, health and other social institutions is greatly diminished. The question then is: what are the causes for this decline in numbers and this much weaker presence in the Church and society in the United States?”

The apostolic visitations are currently in phase two of a four-phase process.

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U.S. Bishops to vote on revision of guidlines for patients in vegetative state

Washington D.C., Nov 6, 2009 (CNA) - During their Nov. 16-19 general assembly, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will vote on the moral obligation to provide medically assisted nutrition and hydration to patients in a persistent vegetative state.

The vote will take place in Baltimore at the bishops' semi-annual plenary meeting.

The document up for consideration will be a proposed revision of the "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care." The reworked directives state more definitively what the moral obligation is regarding medically assisted nutrition and hydration.

The current directive, issued in 2001, states that “there should be a presumption in favor in providing nutrition and hydration to all patients, including patients who require medically assisted nutrition and hydration, as long as this is of sufficient benefit to outweigh the burdens involved to the patient.”

Given cases like that of Terry Schiavo, who died in 2005 when her feeding tube was removed, the need for stronger terminology and a more definitive position on this issue has become apparent.

In addition to other changes, the proposed revision states that “as a general rule, there is an obligation to provide patients with food and water, including medically assisted nutrition and hydration for those who cannot take food orally. This obligation extends to patients in chronic conditions (e.g. the 'persistent vegetative state') who can reasonably be expected to live indefinitely if given such care.”

In order for the revision to be adopted it must be approved by the majority of the bishops present and voting at the meeting.

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Health care bill contains money-laundering system for abortion, Catholic bishops’ memo says

Washington D.C., Nov 6, 2009 (CNA) - A memo from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says that the Ellsworth Amendment to the U.S. House’s proposed health care reform bill is not a “meaningful compromise” but instead is a “money-laundering system” that does not address pro-life concerns about federal funding of abortion.

The memo, written by U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities associate director Richard Doerflinger, discusses H.R. 3962 and the Ellsworth Amendment.

The amendment claims to prevent federal funds from being used for abortions, reports. It requires that federal money be segregated from individuals’ premium payments and that abortions can only be paid for by using the premiums and not the federal subsidies.

On examination, Doerflinger wrote, this is “not a meaningful compromise.”

“It addresses none of the substantial criticisms offered by the Catholic bishops’ conference and other pro-life advocates for health care reform,” he said.

“While all funds in the public plan begin as private funds, in the pockets of taxpayers and purchasers, they all become federal funds once they are paid to the government (whether paid as taxes or as premiums) – and all abortions in the plan are paid for by the federal government,” the USCCB memo continued, according to

“So this money-laundering system, aside from making the operation of the public plan more unwieldy, does nothing to address pro-life concerns.”

Concerning private insurance plans which can be purchased with federal subsidies, Doerflinger said the bill’s approach of “segregating” the cost of abortion into a distinct “abortion surcharge” charged to all purchasers “only makes the mandatory payment of abortion in these plans even more specific and direct than if the purchaser had to pay it as part of an overall premium.”

CNA spoke about the health care bill with Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, in a Friday phone interview.

“The situation is very fluid,” said Johnson, who reported that all Republicans are opposed to how abortion is treated in the current bill. “There is an important group of Democrats who in different degrees, want to fix the pro-abortion provisions. We, as well as the USCCB, are working hard to oppose abortion financed either directly (by the government) or through private plans who provide abortion.”

“Unfortunately we are against the leadership in Congress and the White House, whose allies and staff are running around actively opposing the amendments we are seeking and who just want to paper over the problem.”

“This is even less than a shell game,” Johnson told CNA. “Regrettably most of the mainstream media are helping in the confusion either by laziness or because of ideological sympathy with the cover up.”

Pro-life leaders have sought to add a “Hyde Amendment” to the bill which would explicitly exclude federal funding for most abortions.

In a letter sent to the House of Representatives on Friday, the U.S. bishops urged lawmakers to vote against a “closed rule” motion that if approved would prevent the addition of amendments to the current health care bill, including the pro-life Stupak-Pitts Amendment.

The bishops wrote, “we write to strongly urge you to vote for essential changes and a fair process in the House of Representatives to ensure that needed health care reform legislation truly protects the life, dignity, health and consciences of all. Unfortunately, the legislation moving to the House floor falls fundamentally short of this essential goal.”

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Bishops remind Ecuadoran president that Pope has already written social encyclical

Quito, Ecuador, Nov 6, 2009 (CNA) - The Ecuadoran bishops' conference issued a statement Thursday in response to recent comments by President Rafael Correa, surprised reporters during a conference at the University of Oxford in which he complained that Pope Benedict XVI should issue an encyclical that addresses social issues.

The bishops' statement noted that at the Oxford conference, Correa “passed negative judgment on the bishops of Latin America, and consequently, the bishops of Ecuador. He called on the Holy Father to issue an encyclical on various issues and said his political agenda was the fruit of the Church’s social teaching.”

The bishops added that they recognize their particular responsibility to “care for the Sacred Liturgy, the rites, because they are the source of the Christian life and the sustenance for our mission in the world.” But, they noted that they “also have concern for the failures and problems of individuals, because we try to serve our faithful in a personalized way, without treating them as anonymous members of a group.”

After pointing out that “social sins don’t just appear out of nowhere, but rather are the accumulation of moral deficiencies of individuals,” the bishops explained that “the vocation to social service of the Ecuadoran episcopate is expressed in its continual teaching and in more than three thousands ministries in support of those in need.”

They added that this service has been ongoing “for many years and spread throughout the provinces of the country.”

The bishops also reminded President Correa that Pope Benedict XVI, “in the recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate, addressed current-day problems, from globalization and immigration to climate change and biogenetics.”

“There is only one faith,” they continued, “and the Church is everyone’s house, especially the poorest. Within the Church, each believer has the right to choose whichever political path he feels is best, as long as there is no discrepancy with the principles of the faith. It is also part of Catholic sensibility to treat the Holy Father with love and respect,” they concluded.

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Teen charged in 'unlawful killing' of Sr. Bartz

Gallup, N.M., Nov 6, 2009 (CNA) - Nineteen-year-old Reehahlio Carroll was charged on Friday in the death of Sr. Margaurite Bartz.

According to the Associated Press, Carroll told investigators that he broke into the sister's trailer home on Halloween night in search of money or valuables.

Caroll was confronted by Sr. Bartz, 64, who hit her intruder with a shoe. The teen reacted by beating Sr. Bartz with a flashlight and kicking her, before returning to search for valuables.

The AP explains that before long, Carroll heard Bartz begin to scream again. The criminal complaint reads:

“In an effort to silence the woman, Reehahlio Carroll took a black shirt that was in the room and, while standing over the woman's body, tied the shirt over the woman's mouth, fastening the shirt with a knot tied at the back of the woman's head.”

The next morning, her body was found by a colleague after she failed to attend Mass.

A Rosary for Sr. Marguerite will be held at the St. Michael Indian School student chapel today, while the funeral Mass will be held at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Gallup at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Her burial will take place  at the St. Michael Indian School Sisters’ Cemetery following the funeral Mass.

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