Archive of November 19, 2009

Group warns Spanish government will use abortion law to impose sex-ed

Madrid, Spain, Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) - The organization, “Professionals for Ethics” warned this week that the Spanish Socialist government is intending to use the new law on abortion to force schools to teach its version of sex-ed, which includes gender ideology.

In a report, the organization said the new law on abortion includes measures to “incorporate sexual and reproductive formation in the school system.”

It also noted that the law would promote homosexuality and abortion among students through content that is not under the authority of school administrators but rather “health care personnel, especially pharmacists and nurses, as well as psychologists, sexologists and all the professional workers” the government decides to train.

For this reason, Fabian Fernandez de Alarcon, general secretary of Professionals for Ethics, said schools “would not be able to appeal the norms because in doing so they will be accused of not collaborating with public health.”

The organization said Spain’s Minister of Health, Trinidad Jimenez, has already announced that her department is drafting a legislative norm that would force all schools without exception to impart sexual education to all students beginning in elementary school.

This obligatory norm to impart sexual education contradicts fundamental international legislation, the organization said, and for this reason “the contents of sexual education addressed to minors cannot be of an obligatory nature.”

Otherwise, Alarcon said, it would be absolutely illegal and parents would have every right to voice their opposition.

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Louisiana Congressman drew on Ignatian spirituality for decision on health care vote

Washington D.C., Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) - A U.S. Congressman from Louisiana who is a former Jesuit seminarian said his background in Ignatian spirituality has helped him discern right decisions in his work. His attendance at Mass before a major vote on health care reform particularly affected him, he reported.

The Vietnamese-born Anh “Joseph” Cao told National Jesuit News that he uses Ignatian methods like the examination of conscience and the practices of the 30 day silent retreat.

“I do that very often. Using the whole process of discernment to see where the Spirit is moving me has been extremely important, especially in my recent decision to support the health care reform plan,” Rep. Cao said.

He explained that the Jesuit emphasis on social justice and advocacy for the poor, the widow, and those who cannot help themselves plays a significant part in his decisions, but ultimately he bases his choices on his conscience and how the Holy Spirit is moving him.

“The issues that we contend with in Congress affect every single person here in the United States, so I want to make sure that my decisions are based on good principles and good morals,” Rep. Cao said.

Cao, the only Republican Congressman to vote for the House’s proposed health care reform bill, told National Jesuit News that he went to Mass and prayed before the vote. The readings were from Isaiah and the priest gave a homily about not being afraid.

“I really felt a personal touch during this homily, that this homily was meant for me,” he reported.

Rep. Cao said he knew if he voted yes he would be “the most hated Republican in the country” but the Mass gave him the strength to support the bill.

The Congressman remarked that he sees everything in life as “a gift” and is “not too attached” to being a Congressman.

“I see myself as being there to serve God, to do what is God’s will in my life, and if things happen to change, the next year or two, then I’m pretty happy and pretty satisfied,” he explained.

Saying that health care reform is needed to help those “who cannot help themselves” he commented that it is also important to ensure that “core moral values” are not compromised.

He said he believed that supporting the bill would probably end his political career, but he made clear to the House leadership his non-negotiable opposition to federal funding of abortion.

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Bishop reiterates pro-life commitment in defense of CCHD

Baltimore, Md., Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) - The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee which oversees the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has defended the program against what he called “outrageous” allegations and claims. He reiterated that the campaign is pro-life and has “zero tolerance” for funding any group that violates Catholic teaching.

Bishop of Biloxi, Mississippi Roger Morin on Tuesday addressed the fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on the topic of the CCHD.

He said that some attacks on the campaign are motivated by concern for the poor or for the Church’s teachings. Some critics may not understand the social teachings of the church, while others charge that the bishops are funding groups that are pro-abortion.

“The critics are using this as an opportunity to attack the shepherds of the Church. I reiterate that we are pro-life, from conception to natural death,” Bishop Morin said.

The CCHD never makes grants to organizations that are specifically involved in promoting activities against Church teaching, he said.

“You will recall that CCHD was the first national group to cut funds for ACORN,” he added, referring to the community organizing group that was accused of voter fraud in 2008.

“We say at CCHD that we have zero tolerance for any group that would violate the Church teachings.”

The bishop said it was “particularly disturbing” that people form an opinion of CCHD based on an individual incident of misconduct.

“They paint the whole organization with a broad brush using isolated instances.”

At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Bishop Morin continued his defense of the campaign. He said he wished there were not any scandals “and I wish that if there were any criticisms, that they were factual.”

He reported that he has not sensed an erosion of support for the campaign from the bishops. He also accused critics of being “constantly in operation.”

In November the CCHD issued a document “For the Record – The Truth about CCHD Funding” to respond to various charges and criticisms.

In that document, the CCHD said it “fully upholds” Church teaching on the sanctity of life.

“The Campaign funds projects that empower the poor and help them organize themselves to move out of poverty. All grant applicants are carefully screened and funds are provided only to projects with objectives and actions that are fully in accord with the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.”

Funding criteria, including conformity with the moral guidelines of the Catholic Church, are specified from the earliest stage of the application process, the CCHD commented. Projects are monitored through regular reporting and on-site visits and funding is discontinued if inconsistencies with Catholic teaching are discovered.

The Campaign noted Pope John Paul II’s praise for the CCHD, which says one of its goals has been to help poor people achieve self-sufficiency.

The CCHD document noted the allegation that its grants funded Young Workers United and the Chinese Progressive Association, who both produced voter guides that took a position contrary to Church teaching. Both groups backed same-sex “marriage” and Young Workers United reportedly also voiced support for legalized abortion and legalized prostitution.

After a joint investigation with the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the CCHD said it immediately canceled both grants and both organizations returned the grant money.

The CCHD said investigation was continuing into the Prebel Street group and the Women’s Community Revitalization Project, which allegedly were involved in activity contrary to Church teaching.

The CCHD said that investigations into several other accused groups found no activity contrary to Church teaching.

The Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), which was accused of promoting same-sex “marriage” and actively supporting contraception and the morning-after pill, was cleared by a review conducted by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the CCHD reported.

Addressing the charges against the Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (MIV) coalition in California, the CCHD said six of the seven coalition members are currently funded by the CCHD and all six confirmed that they were never consulted about MIV taking positions on ballot initiatives contrary to Catholic social teaching.

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Abortion funding restrictions vital to progress of health care reform bill, Rep. Stupak says

Washington D.C., Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) - Countering critics who claim the Stupak Amendment will be altered or stripped from Congress’ health care reform bill, Rep. Bart Stupak says his pro-life amendment is vital to the legislation’s progress and was added “fair and square.”

"They're not going to take it out. If they do, health care will not move forward," Rep. Stupak told Fox News.

In an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod said that President Obama does not think the health care bill should “change the status quo as it relates to the issue of abortion.” He predicted the president would intervene to change the legislation.

Abortion advocates claim that the Stupak Amendment, which restricts most abortion funding, would change the status quo by placing new restrictions on abortion coverage in the private market and by barring federally subsidized plans in the proposed insurance exchange from funding abortions.

PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times’ politics fact-checking website, says that some criticisms of the Stupak Amendment suggest its restrictions are “more severe and widespread than they actually are.”

Rep. Stupak, the pro-life Michigan Democrat who pressed for the amendment, dismissed the claim of Axelrod that President Obama would try to change the language.

"We won fair and square... That's why Mr. Axelrod's not a legislator. He doesn't really know what he's talking about," the Congressman told Fox News.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Tuesday said the Stupak Amendment’s language raised many House members’ “comfort level” with the bill.

The Stupak Amendment passed by a margin of 240-194, while the overall House health care bill H.R. 3962 passed by a narrow vote of 220-215.

Colorado Congresswoman Rep. Diana DeGette on Tuesday claimed that Rep. Stupak will not have the votes to block a health care bill that doesn’t contain his amendment’s restrictions.

Rep. DeGette, a Democrat and a co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, claimed that lawmakers who previously supported the amendment were developing a new understanding of its implications.

“I think he won't have the votes when people explain to those members what exactly the Stupak amendment does," she told ABC News’ “Top Line” webcast.

Rep. DeGette said that groups like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) should have a place in the process but not the final say, according to The Hill.

"Last I heard, we had separation of church and state in this country," she said. "I've got to say that I think that the Catholic bishops and all of the other groups should have input."

The Hill initially misquoted Rep. DeGette as saying that such groups should not have input, a comment which many pro-life leaders criticized before it was corrected.

However, Rep. DeGette in her 2008 pro-embryonic stem cell research book “Sex, Science and Stem Cells” dismissed “the many tentacles of the Catholic Church, trying to influence a dialogue that's already difficult to begin with.”

The House health care bill must be reconciled with any bill produced by the Senate. Presently, the Senate legislation does not contain a Stupak Amendment.

On Monday Kristen Day of Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) told CNA that pro-life Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska has already said he does not want any funding of abortion. Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania has also taken that position.

There are conflicting reports about whether these pro-life Democrats would support Stupak Amendment restrictions in the Senate bill. CNN has reported that Sen. Nelson would be satisfied with the less restrictive provisions of the Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill.

Sen. Casey also issued a statement which some reports construed as a retreat from the Stupak Amendment. However, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette politics blog “Early Returns” on Monday published a statement from Casey spokesman Larry Smar which read:

“The suggestion that Senator Casey thinks that there is no room for a Senate amendment like the Stupak Amendment that passed the House is incorrect and does not reflect his position or the statement I issued that explained his support for health care reform and his support for measures to keep the bill neutral on abortion.”

The spokesman added that Sen. Casey had voted for an amendment “very similar” to the Stupak Amendment.

“His position has not changed since that vote."

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D.C. board refuses to let voters add same-sex 'marriage' ban to ballot

Washington D.C., Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) - The Board of Elections and Ethics in Washington D.C. ruled Tuesday that allowing a same-sex 'marriage' ban on the ballot would violate the city's Human Rights Act of 1977.  On Wednesday, the organization, Stand4MarriageDC filed a lawsuit against the board saying it is denying D.C. citizens the right to vote on the definition of marriage.

The Marriage Initiative 2009 is currently seeking to put a measure on the ballot in which voters can decide if “only marriage between a man and woman" should be "valid or recognized" in the District of Columbia. The measure is being championed by an organization called Stand4MarriageDC, headed by Bishop Harry Jackson, Senior Pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md.

Board of Elections Chairman Errol R. Arthur said in a statement on Tuesday that "laws of the District of Columbia preclude us from allowing this initiative to move forward" and that the initiative "would authorize discrimination prohibited under the [District's] Human Rights Act."

On November 18, the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal alliance which seeks to defend religious liberty, filed suit against the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics on behalf of  Stand4MarriageDC, saying that the board precluded the right of citizens in the district to vote for or against the definition of marriage.

The people of D.C. have a right to vote on the definition of marriage,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks in a press statement. “The D.C. Charter guarantees the people the right to vote, and the council cannot amend the charter for any reason, much less to deny citizens the right to vote.

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America, also weighed in on the situation. "The D.C. Council reeks of rank hypocrisy. For years they have demanded that D.C. citizens should have the right to vote for congressional representation, which is in direct contradiction to the Constitution. Yet now they are denying D.C. citizens the right to vote on marriage, an institution so fundamental to America's well-being that territories were not allowed to become states unless they kept marriage between one man and one woman,” she said in a press release on Nov 18.  

Thirty-one states have already allowed citizens to vote on the definition of marriage. In every case, traditional marriage was preserved.

However, Mayor Adrian Fenty said that the D.C. Council was capable of making a decision regarding same- sex "marriage" because the council was elected by the citizens of the District of Columbia.

The City Council in D.C. is expected to vote on a motion for same-sex “marriage” on December 1.

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California bishops call on laity to be 'voice of life and dignity' in the political sphere

Sacramento, Calif., Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) -

The California Catholic Conference is calling on the state's Catholics to join the recently launched Catholic Legislative Network and become more involved in politics, California Catholic Daily reports. The campaign is beginning at the parish level and will encompass the entire state by next year.

The first step in launching the campaign for increased participation in the Catholic Legislative Network began on Oct 24-25, California Catholic Daily reported. Parishioners at St. Anthony's Church in Sacramento watched an introduction by Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto as well as short video about the new initiative. 

The video mentions government funding cuts for programs such as an insurance plan for children from low-income families and protective services for the elderly. It also demonstrates the increased need for such services since many Californians are losing their jobs and homes or facing a severe reduction in their income. It also juxtaposes the cutting of programs that embrace life with the continued push for pro-choice services, such as the advocacy for teenage abortions without parental consent.

More than 400 parishioners signed up to participate in the program, whose next step is the hosting of “Life and Dignity Sunday” within the diocese. According to the Catholic Legislative Network, “'Life & Dignity Sunday' will be held in all parishes in the Diocese of Sacramento on the weekend of December 5 and 6, 2009 and move out to the remainder of the state in the coming months.”

In his introduction to the video, Bishop Soto said, “We believe that a very important voice that is lacking in the decisions that are made both here in the capital and throughout the state is the voice of faith.”

Soto also said that he and his fellow bishops desire that California Catholics become a more vocal “voice of life and dignity” in the state.

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There is an urgent need to reunite faith and culture, Pope tells universities

Vatican City, Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) -

This afternoon Pope Benedict XVI met with professors and students of Roman Pontifical Universities and discussed the “urgent need, which still persists today, to overcome the separation between faith and culture.”

Speaking as well to participants in the International Federation of Catholic Universities (FIUC), the Holy Father drew from John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution “Sapienta christiana,” which has its 30th anniversary this year, and stated its continued relevance in today's society.

The concepts of “Sapienta christiana,” the Pope continued, “still retain their validity. Indeed in modern society where knowledge is becoming ever more specialized and sectorial but is profoundly marked by relativism, it is even more necessary to open oneself to the wisdom which comes from the Gospel.”

“Man, in fact, is incapable of gaining a full understanding of himself and the world without Jesus Christ,” continued the Holy Father. “He alone illuminates man's true dignity, his vocation and ultimate destiny, and opens his heart to a firm and lasting hope.”

Pope Benedict then discussed the methods for reuniting faith and culture and called for “a greater commitment to evangelization in the firm conviction that Christian Revelation is a transforming power.”

“It is capable of of illuminating, purifying and renewing man's conduct and his cultures,” continued the Pontiff, “and must remain the focal point for teaching and research...”

Professors and students “must never lose sight of the goal to be pursued,” said the Pope, which is “that of becoming instruments for the announcement of the Gospel.”

The Pope concluded his address by saying, “Catholic Universities, faithful to an identity which makes a specific point of Christian inspiration, are called to promote a 'new humanistic synthesis,' knowledge that is 'wisdom capable of directing man in the light of his first beginnings and his final ends,' knowledge illuminated by faith.”

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Terminally ill priest meets with Pope, offers sufferings for the Church

Vatican City, Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) - Father Luigi Squarcia, a pastor in the Italian town of Acquapendente who has suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease for the last four years, met with Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday and offered his “sufferings for the good of the Church.”

After the meeting with the Holy Father in Paul VI Hall, Father Squarcia said, “I came to offer the Pope my sufferings for the good of the Church.  I am here, for the first time, after years of working with the parishioners and the children at our school.”

Now, he told L’Osservatore Romano, “I can no longer move my arms or legs and I know I will lose my speech and later maybe the ability to breathe.”  He noted that more people than ever are coming to him for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Lou Gehrig's disease is a serious neuromuscular disorder that causes muscle weakness, disability and eventually death.

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Senate health care bill’s abortion provisions ‘completely unacceptable,’ pro-life leaders say

Washington D.C., Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) - Pro-life leaders have criticized the regulation of abortion funding in the Senate’s proposed version of health care reform legislation as “completely unacceptable.” A Senate version of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment is necessary to prevent federal funding for abortion, they said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday unveiled a health care plan that claims to extend health coverage to 94 percent of Americans and about 31 million uninsured people at a cost of $848 billion over ten years, Bloomberg reports.

“This legislation is a tremendous step forward,” Reid told reporters at the Capitol last night. “Tonight begins the last leg of this journey.”

According to Bloomberg, the bill has some safeguards to keep federal dollars from funding abortion but not the restrictions adopted in the House bill’s Stupak Amendment. Pro-abortion advocates have threatened to vote against a final bill if it contains the House language and have worked to keep it out of the Senate version.

On Thursday the press office of House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner charged that Sen. Reid’s bill charges a “monthly abortion premium” to all enrollees in the government-run health plan.

Under the Senate legislation, Boehner’s office said, “the Health Benefits Commissioner is to assess the monthly premiums that will be used to pay for elective abortions under the government-run health plan and for those who are given an affordability credit to purchase insurance coverage that includes abortion through the Exchange. The Commissioner must charge at a minimum $1 per enrollee per month.”

Criticizing the Senate bill, National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) Legislative Director Douglas Johnson charged that Sen. Reid has rejected the “bipartisan” Stupak-Pitts Amendment and substituted “completely unacceptable language that would result in coverage of abortion on demand in two big new federal government programs.”

Johnson said in a Wednesday statement that Sen. Reid tries to conceal this “unpopular” fact with “layers of contrived definitions and hollow bookkeeping requirements.”

He quoted Rep. Lois Capps (D-Ca.) who said the Senate’s approach “closely mirrors” her proposed amendment to the House bill.

Capps’ amendment was originally included in the House bill but was replaced with the Stupak-Pitts Amendment by a vote of 240-194, with 64 Democrats approving it.

Johnson explained that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment applies pro-life provisions like those of the Hyde Amendment to the new programs created by the health care legislation. Those provisions forbid both direct funding of abortion procedures and subsidies for plans that cover elective abortions in federal programs like Medicaid, federal employees’ benefits program, and the military health system.

The Senate health care bill, according to Johnson, authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to require coverage of “any and all abortions” throughout the public option program.

“This would be federal government funding of abortion, no matter how hard they try to disguise it,” he commented, adding that the bill also creates tax-supported subsidies to purchase private health plans that will cover abortion on demand.

Johnson charged that Sen. Reid has sought to please “the militant minority that demands funding of abortion through federal programs.”

The NRLC will continue to advocate for the Stupak-Pitts Amendment in the Senate, he reported.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, was also critical of the Senate bill’s abortion provisions.

In a Wednesday statement she charged that “lies, scare tactics, and misdirection” were being used to drive Democrats to support “radical feminists.”

“But now senators have a bigger problem – a bill that is out of step with the majority of America,” Dannenfelser added, reporting that Americans reject government funding of abortion.

“On behalf of a majority pro-life America, I urge senators to vote no on the cloture vote on the motion to proceed. Until the pro-life Stupak language is added to the Senate health care bill, the measure must be opposed. Senators Casey, Landrieu, Lincoln, and Nelson must recognize that a vote for cloture is a complete betrayal of their pro-life constituents.

“There is no middle ground, either you fund abortion or you don’t,”
When the Capps Amendment was being considered in the House, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) viewed it as a “phony compromise,” his press secretary said.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Penn.), co-sponsor of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, in August said that the Capps Amendment would still allow taxpayer funding for health plans that cover abortion.

“This is a fig leaf, designed to lure votes from Members who want cover on the issue,” he charged. “The American people will not be fooled. We want an explicit exclusion in the bill to prevent any taxpayer funding from paying for abortions. Anything else is wrong, and contrary to overwhelming popular opinion.”

If the Senate passes health care legislation, its differences with the House bill would have to be reconciled.

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Members of Philadelphia parish celebrate dedications of Rome's largest basilicas

Vatican City, Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) - Yesterday, the Church celebrated the feast of the dedication of two of the four Roman basilicas: St. Peter's and St. Paul Outside the Walls. Among those in attendance at the celebrations were pilgrims from St. Anselm's parish in Philadelphia, Pa.

CNA met with Father Keith Chylinski and 23 of his parishioners as they celebrated this event as part of a 10-day pilgrimage planned in large part to follow the footsteps of Padre Pio through Italy.  Fr. Chylinski said they put the trip together for the "benefit of the parish" and St. Paul's was one of the final stops on their journey.  

The group from St. Anselm's began planning the trip a year ago, including the stop for Mass at the Chapel of San Sacramento at the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on November 18 in their plans, not knowing at the time that this was the anniversary of its dedication.  Fr. Chylinski said it was "God's providence that we had Mass here” on that particular day.

The pilgrims had already visited Padre Pio's home in Pietralcina and the Capuchin monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo where he lived for 42 years.  The group had also stopped in Assisi as well as Lanciano, the site of a Eucharistic miracle in the 8th century.  St. Paul's was on the schedule in addition to other Roman sites.

Pilgrims have visited the site since pre-Constantinian times, as it is believed to be where St. Paul was beheaded in the year 66 or 67 AD.  His tomb is located below the central altar. 

Fr. Chylinski provided those in attendance at Mass with some parting wisdom for the end of the pilgrimage, emphasizing the importance of being like St. Paul, to share the faith, if only by telling the story of the pilgrimage.  Likening the human experience to their journey, he said, "Have always in mind that life is a pilgrimage, a pilgrimage of faith that is meant for every human being in the entire world."
The group went two-for-two yesterday, attending the papal audience just off St. Peter's square in the morning where Pope Benedict XVI addressed a greeting directly to all English-speaking pilgrims, saying in English, "Upon you all I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings!"

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Notre Dame professor appointed to International Theological Commission

South Bend, Ind., Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) - On Thursday, the Vatican announced the appointment of Notre Dame Professor John C. Cavadini to the International Theological Commission.

The ITC is a department of the Roman Curia that consists of 30 Catholic theologians from around the world. Its purpose is to advise the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Cavadini is an associate professor of Theology and department chair at Notre Dame as well as a scholar of patristic and early medieval theology. The Notre Dame professor also has special interests in the theology of St. Augustine as well as the history of biblical exegesis.

Professor Cavadini's publications include three books and well an numerous journal articles.

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Austrian bishops call country's new same-sex partnership 'neither appropriate nor necessary'

Vienna, Austria, Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) - The Austrian Bishops' Conference responded to new legislation which provides for the country's recognition of same-sex partnerships, saying that the law was “neither appropriate nor necessary, because the existing provisions for civil rights already grant appropriate protections.”

According to the AFP, the new Austrian law, which will take effect January 1, 2010, provides recognition of same-sex unions in the official register, though the unions cannot have a ceremony in the registry office. Partners are allowed to take each others names, but the couples will still be denied access to artificial insemination and adoption rights.

The new law provides rights regarding tax, inheritance, pension and alimony to the same-sex partnerships, though there are 37 other rights which are only afforded to married couples.

Chairman of the Austrian Bishop's Conference, Vienna Archbishop Christoph Schoenborn, noted in a press release that the positive aspect of the law is that it does not create parity between these “registered partnerships” and true marriages. However, he added that this new law has “unforeseeable consequences for all of society.”

Though the law is extremely limited in comparison to similar ones in other European countries, the Austrian bishops expressed concern that “the present draft provides the basis for a development that will ultimately lead to the complete equality of 'registered partnerships' with traditional marriages.”

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Michigan doctor charged with forcing abortion on teenager

Flint, Mich., Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) - A lawsuit has been filed against Michigan abortionist Abraham Alberto Hodari, alleging that he forced  an abortion on an 18-year old woman.

Judy Climer, President of Flint Right for Life explained to CNA that she recently noticed a “for sale” sign at Hodari's clinic in Flint, Michigan. Suspicious as to why the abortion clinic was for sale, Climer went to the Court House for further research and there found the 18-year old's complaint.

Climer passed the complaint on to pro-life organization Operation Rescue who has since posted it online.

The woman, Caitlin Bruce, filed a lawsuit against Hodari over the incident that took place in April 2008, claiming that Hodari and his assistant performed an abortion on her against her will. Bruce allegedly sought an abortion at Hodari's clinic but changed her mind before the procedure began.

When she notified Hodari that she no longer wanted the abortion, Bruce claims that Hodari and his assistant forcibly restrained her, covered her mouth to muffle her and continued with the procedure.

The suit, filed on June 17, 2009,  includes six counts against Hodari: lack of informed consent/medical malpractice, battery, fraud, misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and ethnic/gender intimidation.

Since Michigan has a statute that forbids intimidation based on gender or ethnicity, reports Operation Rescue, the fact that Bruce is African American has added to the charges. Statistics have shown that the abortion industry disproportionately targets African American women. 

The lawsuit is not a novel occurrence, as Hodari has been sued 23 times in the past 20 years.

“This man should be in jail,” said Operation Rescue President, Troy Newman. Commenting on the recent closing of Hodari's Flint Clinic, Newman continued to say, “To avoid having to pay for his crimes, it looks like Hodari is trying to liquidate his assets, take the money and run.”

Judy Climer told CNA that although a date for the Caitlin Bruce hearing has not been set, she has informed Bruce's attorney that “if he needs an audience for the hearing, I will provide one.”

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Family Research Council urges pro-life senators to 'denounce' abortion funding

Washington D.C., Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) - In reaction to Senate Majority leader Harry Reid's new health care bill, the Family Research Council urged pro-life senators to “denounce abortion funding provisions and make every effort to include the Stupak-Pitts amendment.”

In a statement Thursday, FRC President Tony Perkins said that “Sen. Reid's new health bill does not include the Stupak-Pitts amendment that was designed to prevent federal funding for abortion on demand.”

Perkins continued to say that the new senate bill “provides tax credits for private plans that cover abortion-on-demand and strips important conscience protections for providers who refuse to perform elective abortions.”

The FRC President explained that “the Stupak-Pitts amendment adopted with 240 votes in the House would prevent federally funding for abortion,” and further stated that “clearly the straightforward language of (this) amendment is not what Sen. Reid and his pro-abortion colleagues want. Rather, they want government funding of abortion on demand.”

Perkins concluded saying, “Pro-life senators...must denounce the Reid abortion funding provisions and make every effort to include the Stupak-Pitts amendment in the Senate bill in order to prevent the establishment of a government funded abortion program for the first time in over three decades.”

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Presenter asks U.S. bishops’ assembly to help create a ‘culture of vocation’ to the religious life

Washington D.C., Nov 19, 2009 (CNA) - Presenting the results of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) study on vocations to religious life at the U.S. bishops’ fall assembly, a religious brother has encouraged the bishops to work more closely with religious institutes to create a “culture of vocation” to all forms of ordained and vowed religious life.

Holy Cross Brother Paul Bednarczyk, Executive Director of the Chicago-based NRVC, presented the results at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) fall assembly in Baltimore.

The study’s key findings include the need for dioceses, Catholic educators and families to collaborate in creating a “culture of vocation” within the Church, a press release from the USCCB reports.

The NRVC’s Study on Recent Vocations to Religious Life in the United States showed a 65 percent drop in religious vocations since their peak in the mid-1960s. The study also found that new members bring increased ethnic and cultural diversity and a strong desire for communal living, prayer and Catholic identity.

“Despite the challenges presented by the changing demographics,” Br. Bednarczyk commented, “our study affirms that the Holy Spirit continues to inspire and guide the Church as evidenced by the founding of new religious institutes, the multitude of charitable works established by religious, and most encouraging, the zeal and passion for the gospel and hope for the future embraced by our newer members.”

Br. Bednarczyk asked for the bishops’ help in promoting consecrated life as “a viable, joyful and grace-filled option for the men and women in your dioceses.”

He suggested that bishops meet with the major superiors and religious priests, brothers and sisters in their diocese to discuss the results of the NRVC’s research. He advised they prioritize vocation promotion to all forms of ordained and vowed religious life and speak often about vocations, especially to young people.

He also suggested the bishops provide a component in their diocesan vocation offices to promote religious priesthood and consecrated life in addition to the diocesan priesthood, the USCCB says.

Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation “Vita Consecrata” had advised bishops to make a place for consecrated religious life in their dioceses, Br. Bednarczyk noted.

“If religious life, like priesthood, is a gift to the local church, clergy, religious, and laity all need to share in the responsibility for its promotion,” the brother said.

He added that he felt the USCCB’s invitation to address the bishops was an affirmation of the priority the USCCB gives to religious life and its future.

The NRVC study was conducted by the Georgetown University-based Center for the Applied Research in the Apostolate. The study and Br. Bednarczyk’s address to the bishops are available at

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