Archive of December 11, 2009

Right to Life in Spain rejects 'radicalization' of new abortion law

Madrid, Spain, Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) - The Right to Life organization in Spain has denounced the “scandalous” agreement between the Socialist Party and other left-wing parties to make abortion laws in the country even more radical.  The proposed reforms would eliminate one of two reports required for an abortion and would restrict conscientious protections for medical professionals.  The reforms would also eventually allow for the distribution of the morning-after pill using tax-payer funds.

The organization called the changes “an abject twist” to a measure that is already violent and inhumane.  “We demand the Socialist Party repudiate this extremist agreement, and we ask the Nationalist Basque Party to stop supporting a bill that has just been made even more radical than it was before,” said Gador Joya, the spokeswoman for Right to Life.

She also questioned the timing for making the agreement public after a long weekend, “with half of the people coming back to work after several days off.  They decided to radicalize a bill that was already extreme and incompatible with human rights,” Gador stated.

She denounced the Socialist Party, “which on the one hand, said it was open to dialogue and to amendments, and on the other, made the measure more radical.”  “They are pulling the wool over the eyes of not only the citizens but also of the groups they have been negotiating with.  The Nationalist Basque Party should realize that their offer to be more moderate has enabled the Socialist Party to negotiation the radicalization of the bill behind their backs.  The voters of the NBP will not understand it,” she said.

“This will cost them at the polls,” she said.  “We guarantee that the Socialists will lose power because of this senseless attack on the first of all individual rights, the right to life, and because of their scorn for the health of women,” Gador said.

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Fifteen Catholic Senators voted against Nelson Amendment

Washington D.C., Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) - A total of fifteen self-described Catholic Senators voted to table the Nelson-Hatch-Casey Amendment, which would have significantly restricted abortion funding from the Senate health care bill.

The Amendment failed by a 54-45 vote on Tuesday. It was co-sponsored by Democrats Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania, who were joined by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Senator Nelson is a Methodist, Sen. Hatch is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Sen. Casey is a Catholic.

Besides Sen. Casey, Sen. Ted Kaufman of Delaware was the only other Catholic Democrat to vote against tabling the Nelson Amendment. Sen. Kaufman replaced Sen. Joseph Biden when he became the Vice-President of the United States.

The Catholic Democratic Senators who voted against the Nelson Amendment were Patrick Leahy of Vermont, John Kerry and Paul Kirk of Massachusetts, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray of Washington state, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Mark Begich of Alaska.

Sen. Kirk, appointed to replace Sen. Edward Kennedy, is the great-nephew of Archbishop of Boston William Henry Cardinal O'Connell.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the only Catholic Republican to vote to table the Nelson Amendment.

In a Dec. 7 statement, Sen. Mikulski argued that the Nelson Amendment went “too far” and claimed the unamended bill is pro-life.

“Making it a debate about abortion is misguided and wrong,” she said.

In her view, the bill’s aims of providing universal access to health care, ending the denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions and strengthening Medicare are “pro-life principles.”

She claimed that the Nelson Amendment’s allowance of a woman to buy an “abortion rider” to specially cover abortions was “like putting a scarlet ‘A’ on a woman’s forehead.”

“No woman or family will buy such a plan - because no woman expects or intends to have an abortion,” Sen. Mikulski said.

Jason Jones, founder of, said Sen. Mikulski’s statement showed a “fundamental misunderstanding.”

“There is no social justice when the life of an innocent child is taken by abortion; abortion destroys a whole life and protects no one,” Jones continued. “The greatest threat to human dignity in the United States is the destruction of human life in the womb, not a lack of 'health care reform.”

Jones urged Sen. Mikulski to take a pledge recognizing that all human rights are based on a respect for all human life, “especially at its earliest stages in the womb.”

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Fulton Sheen wanted everyone to be saints, Archbishop Dolan says at memorial Mass

New York City, N.Y., Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) - At the Mass marking the 30th Anniversary of Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s death, Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan thanked God for the life of the “magnetic” television and radio personality. He said Sheen’s talent and wisdom were at the service of his key goal of getting himself and the world to heaven.

In attendance at the Mass, celebrated in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, were many of Sheen’s friends and admirers who still look to him with “love and gratitude,” Archbishop Dolan said in his homily.

Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, representing Sheen’s home diocese, was present as was Msgr. John Kozar, who succeeded Sheen as national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

In his homily Archbishop Dolan noted that Pope John Paul II had embraced Archbishop Sheen and praised him as “the preacher to the world” in St. Patrick’s Cathedral on October 2, 1979. Sheen himself was interred in the crypt below the main altar, beside Ven. Pierre Toussaint and the previous archbishops and bishops of New York.

“As members of a supernatural family, the Church, we gather to thank God for him, eager to swap stories about a particular episode, a witty comment, a word of advice, a particular quote, his hypnotic eyes, his soothing yet challenging voice, or an occasion when we were with him,” the archbishop’s homily began.

Archbishop Dolan recounted his own meeting with Archbishop Sheen while a seminarian in Rome. Walking through St. Peter’s Square, the seminarian saw a crowd gathered around Sheen.

Sheen told the crowd he had come from an audience with Pope Paul VI. Asked what the Pope had said to him, he “blushed a bit” and replied:

“The Holy Father looked at me, took my hand, and said, ‘Fulton Sheen, you will have a high place in heaven.’”

Someone in the crowd asked him what he said back.

According to Archbishop Dolan, Sheen replied with “that familiar sparkle and grin.”

“I replied, ‘Your Holiness, would you mind making that an infallible statement?’”

Archbishop Dolan remarked that this encounter showed the “key message” of Archbishop Sheen: “He wanted to get to heaven; he wanted to bring the world with him.”

Through his radio and TV shows, his “avalanche” of books and articles, his talks and conferences were all to help us discover the purpose of life, “eternal union with God.”

“Fulton J. Sheen wanted to get to heaven. Fulton J. Sheen wanted to bring all of us with him. Fulton J. Sheen wanted to be a saint. Fulton J. Sheen wanted us to be saints, too,” the archbishop summarized.

For Sheen, Jesus was “alive, still active, still powerful, still teaching, still healing, still leading us to heaven” because the Incarnation was “still going on.” Jesus is as alive in His Church as He was “on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.”

Archbishop Dolan closed his homily with praise for Archbishop Sheen.

“Would that we could return to that innocence and simplicity extolled by the Master in this evening’s gospel, as we gratefully recall listening to him on the radio or watching him on TV as children or youth, a man who, while indeed clever and wise, still realized he was at his best when but a child in the arms of his blessed mother, or on his knees for an hour before the Real Presence of the Way, the Truth, and the Life, magnetic eyes closed, and renowned voice reduced to a sigh.”

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Steubenville conference launches N. American endeavor on faith and culture

Steubenville, Ohio, Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) - The Pontifical Council for Culture began its “intentional engagement” of North America with a conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Speakers discussed the Church’s relations with science and the future meetings, part of a series called “From Sea to Shining Sea: Faith and Culture in North America.”

The conference, which took place December 2-4, included major public addresses on faith and culture, and homilies at student Masses. Long work sessions mapped out future meetings on the arts, political life, science, music, secularization, atheism, economics and other topics.

Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, presented one public talk titled “The Church’s Engagement With Science After Darwin and Galileo: Overcoming Cultural Icons.”

According to a press release from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Msgr. Sanchez said that while secular media and some scientists have portrayed Galileo and Darwin as “victims of the Church’s relentless persecution of science,” the historical evidence leads to a different conclusion.

Regarding Darwin and his theory on the origin of the species, Msgr. Sanchez said the “indisputable facts” show that Vatican authorities never condemned the theory of evolution.

Concerning the Church’s reaction to Galileo’s theory that the earth revolved around the sun, he noted that the theory was initially labeled as heretical and caused Galileo to be placed under house arrest. However, he added, “as soon as the scientific arguments grew stronger, theological resistance decreased.”

In his view both cases were “unique’ and not representative of the Church’s ongoing relationship with science.

While the secular scientific community often points to Galileo and Darwin to block the Church from commenting on bioethical issues like embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia, Msgr. Sanchez said that both issues concern “the totality of man as a person” and have “immediate” ethical consequences.

“They can’t be compared to the Galileo affair,” he commented.

For the second public talk, Pontifical Council for Culture official Richard Rouse discussed the From Sea to Shining Sea conferences.

“The council now aims to strengthen the dialogue between faith and reason in North America…whose cultural mentality has a huge effect on the rest of the world,” Rouse explained. “I don’t think Europe is aware of the great work being done in America on the life issues.”

Participants at the conference included Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Archbishop of Detroit Allan Vigneron, Bishop Emeritus of Shreveport, Louisiana William Friend and Bishop of Lake Charles, Louisiana Glen Provost.

Cardinal DiNardo preached on the evangelistic mission of St. Francis Xavier at the Dec. 3 Mass for the University Committee. Archbishop Vigneron and Bishop Friend also celebrated Masses and delivered homilies to the student body.

Dr. Max Bonilla, conference coordinator and vice president for Academic Affairs at Franciscan University, said the meeting was a “launching pad” for what he said will be an important reference point among influential people disposed to engage in “an open, respectful and intense conversation” about the world and mankind’s place in it.

“What unites us is a sincere desire for truth and to support the common good,” he added, noting that the conferences will invite learned individuals of all faiths or of no faith to speak with council members and other leading Catholic intellectuals.

He said Franciscan University of Steubenville was “honored” to host the first conference. With God’s blessing, he said, the conferences will be “a strong network of communication for a fruitful dialogue in this area of the world for years to come.”

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Irish bishops’ conference decries ‘failure of moral leadership’ in clerical sex abuse scandal

Dublin, Ireland, Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) - The Irish bishops have apologized to victims of clerical sexual abuse, decrying the “failure of moral leadership” and “the scale and depravity of abuse” described in a newly released report on the issue.

The first day of the Irish Bishops’ Conference’s Winter General Meeting gave full attention to the Commission of Investigation Report into the Archdiocese of Dublin, which was published Nov. 26.

“We, as bishops, apologize to all those who were abused by priests as children, their families and to all people who feel rightly outraged and let down by the failure of moral leadership and accountability that emerges from the Report,” the bishops said in a statement.

The bishops said that their initial response to the Report was to ask the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church to explore a mechanism to ensure that the Church’s current practices are best and that allegations of abuse are properly handled.

“We are deeply shocked by the scale and depravity of abuse as described in the Report. We are shamed by the extent to which child sexual abuse was covered up in the Archdiocese of Dublin and recognize that this indicates a culture that was widespread in the Church,” their statement continued.

“The avoidance of scandal, the preservation of the reputations of individuals and of the Church, took precedence over the safety and welfare of children. This should never have happened and must never be allowed to happen again. We humbly ask for forgiveness.”

The Report raises issues such as the functioning of the bishops’ conference and the lay faithful’s more effective involvement in the Church.

The bishops also responded to concerns about the use of “mental reservation,” an ethical concept related to honesty and truth-telling. The bishops said that the mental reservation “has no place in covering up evil.”

“Charity, truthfulness, integrity and transparency must be the hallmark of all our communications.”

The bishops’ statement reported that Cardinal Seán Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin have been called to the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI, who will be briefed on Friday. The Church leaders will also evaluate the “painful situation” of the Church in Ireland following the Report’s publication.

“We humbly ask that you continue to pray for all those who suffer due to child abuse,” their statement concluded.

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Pope meets with Irish bishops, plans measures to respond to abuse

Vatican City, Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI and high-ranking members or the Roman Curia met with two members of the Irish bishops’ conference in the papal library on Friday to listen to their concerns and discuss the issue of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin.  The Pope was admittedly “deeply disturbed and distressed” by the contents of the Murphy Report released on Nov. 29 and expressed his commitment to investigating the matter further.

Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, and Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin met for 90 minutes with Vatican representatives, including Secretaries of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.  Also present were Cardinal Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Cardinal Re, Cardinal Ballestrero, Cardinals Wells and the Irish Nuncio.

In a press communiqué delivered to the press by Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Holy Father responded that he “wishes once more to express his profound regret at the actions of some members of the clergy who have betrayed their solemn promises to God, as well as the trust placed in them by the victims and their families, and by society at large.”

The meeting with the Pontiff comes two days after the Irish bishops’ conference issued a public apology for the abuse committed by some members of the Irish Catholic clergy over the last three decades. In part, their statement said, “This should never have happened and must never be allowed to happen again. We humbly ask for forgiveness.”

Benedict XVI also said that “he shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland, and he is united with them in prayer at this difficult time in the life of the Church.”

The Pontiff provided his assurance that the Church will continue in its efforts to discover “how these shameful events came to pass and how best to develop effective and secure strategies to prevent any recurrence.”

“The Holy See,” added the Pope, “takes very seriously the central issues raised by the Report including questions concerning the governance of local Church leaders with ultimate responsibility for the pastoral care of children.”

A pastoral letter to the Irish faithful will be forthcoming “in which he will clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the situation.”

In closing, Benedict XVI encouraged “all those who have dedicated their lives in generous service to children to persevere in their good works in imitation of Christ the Good Shepherd.”

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Buddhist extremists brutally attack Catholic church in Sri Lanka

Rome, Italy, Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) - More than 1,000 Buddhist extremists armed with clubs, swords and stones ferociously attacked a Catholic church in the town of Crooswatta, Sri Lanka on December 6, destroying the altar, statues and pews.

L’Osservatore Romano reported that Father Jude Denzil Lakshman, pastor of Our Lady of the Mystical Rose, said “I still can hear their shouts in my ears, ‘Cut him to pieces, kill him’.”

The attack took place after the 7 p.m., Sunday Mass, leaving several parishioners wounded. “It is obvious that the attack was well-planned and that the mob waited for us to come out after Mass,” Father Lakshman said.

One parishioner told the Archdiocese of Colombo that as the congregation was leaving the evening Mass, they saw a mob coming towards them. 

The parishioner added that the mob “set fire to Fr. Lakshman's car and then someone attempted to strike him with a sword,” but a young man heroically pulled him away.

The extremists “then damaged all other motor bikes, ordinary cycles of the poor people including a three-wheeler. Some persons armed with swords and batons went on beating the people. There are six Catholics in the hospital with cuts and injuries."

The archdiocese noted that Air Force personnel were deployed immediately to bring the mob under control.  Guards are still in the area to guarantee the safety of the faithful, which include 293 families.

As of now, police have arrested 11 suspects from Buddhist extremist groups that have attacked the church in the past.

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Pro-abortion politicians do not represent honest citizens, says Brazilian archbishop

Recife, Brazil, Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Emeritus Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda y Recife, who tried to defend and protect a nine year-old girl before she underwent a court-ordered abortion, remarked that pro-abortion politicians and candidates cannot represent honest citizens.

The archbishop, who publicly defended the young girl who was pregnant with twins and tried to keep her from undergoing an illegal abortion in March of 2009, made his statements in a letter to the author of the “Catechism Against Abortion,” Father David Francisquini.

Archbishop Sobrinho told the author that he hoped “many other voices would join his in courageously proclaiming that the Law of God is above any human law.”

In response to abortions occurring in Brazil and around the world, the archbishop noted that “the silence of so many people is extremely worrisome, especially by those who are in public office.”

He then denounced the more than 50 million abortions that take place each year.  “Silence can be interpreted as tacit acceptance, and it can constitute complicity in the practice of abortion,” he warned.

For this reason, the archbishop said that “honest citizens” cannot vote public officials into office who defend “abortion, divorce or other violations of the Law of God.  Such candidates cannot represent Catholics or Christians or any honest citizen.”

Archbishop Sobrinho recalled the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states in paragraph 2270, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”

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Without God we risk our own destruction, writes Benedict XVI

Rome, Italy, Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict officially congratulated the Italian bishops’ conference for hosting this week’s “Conference on God.” He outlined the importance of such initiatives for keeping God within “man’s horizons,” because without Him “humanity loses its orientation and risks committing steps towards its own destruction.”

The conference was kicked off with a letter that the Holy Father wrote to the president of the Italian bishops' conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. In his message, the Pope praised the work of the episcopal conference and its cultural project committee in organizing this meeting of the minds “that confronts one of the great themes that has always fascinated and exposed the human spirit.”

“The question of God is central also for our age,” said the Pope, describing it as an era “in which we often tend to reduce man to just one dimension, the ‘horizontal,’ considering openness to the Transcendent irrelevant to his or her life.”

“The relationship with God … is essential for the path of humanity, the Church and each Christian has the duty to make God present in this world, to seek to open to men the access to God.”

In a way, wrote the Pope, the Conference on God seeks to “show the various routes that lead to the affirmation of the truth about the existence of God.” But that’s not the only thing this open debate serves for, continued the Holy Father, saying it also sheds light on the “essential importance that God has for us, for the hope that illuminates our path, for the salvation that waits for us after death.”

Pope Benedict also pointed out that mankind cannot forget history. “The experience of the past, also not far from us, teaches that when God disappears from the horizon of man, humanity loses its direction and risks making steps towards its own destruction.

“Faith in God opens man up to the horizon of a certain hope,” on which we can rely, so as to “abandon ourselves with trust into the hands of the Love that sustains the world.”

The conference is an initiative organized and promoted by the “Cultural Project Committee” headed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. It has gathered believers and non-Christians from a wide variety of backgrounds to ensure that the “God debate” is present in an increasingly secular society.

At the opening of the conference on Thursday, Cardinal Bagnasco thanked the Pope for his words of support and added that the three-day gathering would be “moved by the typically human and profoundly Christian demand to seek the Truth.”

This, he continued, might sound “vane or illusory” to the non-Catholic, but the process of seeking Truth “demands an open investigation, in all areas, on the profound significance of living and functioning.”

And this search, said Cardinal Bagnasco, is one of the elements that most “distinguishes man from animal or machine.”

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Lesbian nominee approved by Senate committee despite pro-family outcry

Washington D.C., Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) - Despite the complaints of her critics that she supports same-sex "marriage" as well as previously endorsing polygamous relationships, the Senate HELP Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Chai Feldblum to be one of five commissioners on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and sent her nomination to the Senate for a full confirmation.

“At this time of challenge, Americans need committed, capable public servants working full time on their behalf,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) on Thursday. “These nominees will serve Americans by protecting workers from discrimination, facilitating public service and preserving our rich national traditions in the humanities. I am pleased to move their nominations forward.”

The nominations for all the EEOC members were not considered by the HELP committee indivually but were instead voted on "en bloc," according to a press release.

Feldblum, who was nominated to the EEOC by President Obama on September 15, is not a stranger to controversial topics.

She served as one of the leading expert in the creation of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), which would create a federal ban on workplace discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Feldblum has also worked to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights throughout her career.

Another action of Feldblum's that has drawn criticism is her signing of a manifesto titled, “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for all Our Families and Relationships.” The declaration was released on July 26 of 2006 and supported the idea of “committed, loving households in which there is more than one conjugal partner.” The document was signed by various activists, writers, artists, clergy and academics, including Feldblum who has taught at the Georgetown University Law Center since 1991.

In November of this year, after her nomination to the EEOC in September, Feldblum asked for her name to be removed.

Despite her efforts to tamp down controversy, pro-family and pro-woman organizations remain unconvinced.

“Chai Feldblum is absolutely dedicated to granting rights for engaging in non-heterosexual, non-monogamous sex that would be superior to religious freedom,” Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America (CWA) told CNA.

“She seeks to change the social and sexual mores of America which would take a jackhammer to America's foundation.

“Her end goal, as she has stated, is 'Gays win; Christians lose,'” Wright warned.

When asked about the significance of Feldblum's nomination to the EEOC, Wright told CNA that “as an EEOC commissioner, she would have inordinate power to impose her ideology on Americans by requiring workplaces to conform to her views on sexuality and (this would result in) delegitimizing religious beliefs.”

“Judeo-Christian values on marriage, family, children and sex – bedrock virtues for a functioning society – would be targeted for punishment by Feldblum,” continued Wright. “Feldblum would have federal regulations deny human nature. She would require people to ignore nature and embrace – and subsidize – unnatural and harmful behavior and living arrangements.”

“For Feldblum, 'sexual liberties' trump religious liberty,” Wright charged. “For a lawyer, this is an extraordinary and deliberate deviation from the constitution.”

Wright's claim was also echoed by the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), which sent a letter signed by dozens of pro-family groups and individuals to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions  (HELP) Committee.

"Ms. Feldblum has a system of identifying rights which is separate and very different from that in the Constitution," said TVC Executive Director Andrea Lafferty.

"She uses terms like 'belief liberty' and 'sexual liberty' and concludes generally that a 'sexual liberty' claim always trumps any objection or claim of those who are asserting a religious belief.”

Chai Feldblum's nomination now goes to the full Senate for confirmation.

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Christian Liberation Movement urges government to return sovereignty to Cubans

Havana, Cuba, Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) - The Christian Liberation Movement this week urged Cuba's National Assembly to return sovereignty to the people because Cubans have fought for the “well-being of all, not for the power of only a few.”

“If lawmakers are not willing to fulfill this duty immediately, they should hold the referendum proposed by the Varela Project so that the people can vote on the beginning of a new age of liberty with rights for all, the liberation movement said in a statement.

The Varela Project seeks peaceful democratic change in Cuba

The movement added that Cubans lack fundamental rights that are denied by the Communist government.  “They deny freedom in the name of justice, but power is monopolized by a small group that has all of the privileges while the poor majority continues to be poor and has no voice to express themselves.”

The poor also do not have opportunities “to improve their lives.”

For this reason, the movement said, it is the duty of the National Assembly to give Cubans the possibility to freely associate, to establish their residence in any province, to be able to leave and re-enter the country without asking permission, to generate their own sources of work, to elect their leaders and to express themselves freely without fear of incarceration.”

“History confirms that when power is the goal of those who govern, they are not at the service of the people, but rather they put the people at the service of their own power. They call this a revolution, which they want us to accept unconditionally, although many Cubans have dreamed and fought for the well-being of all and not for the permanent power of a few,” the movement said.

“Rights are not negotiable,” the movement said, and “Cubans have a right to have rights because we are human beings and God created us freed.”

The CLM said Cubans who want change must demand it without fear. “We Cubans can and should be the protagonists of our history. Let us unite in hope because we can peacefully achieve these changes that will mean freedom, rights and reconciliation.”


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Rep. Stupak to discuss pro-life prospects for health care bill in EWTN interview

Washington D.C., Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) - An interview with Rep. Bart Stupak, the Michigan pro-life Democrat who rallied 64 Democrats to amend the House health care bill to ban federal funding for most abortions, will be broadcast on EWTN Friday evening.

Arroyo, writing in a Friday e-mail, reported that Stupak has told him he is determined to accept “no compromise” on abortion. The Congressman wants the Hyde Language to apply to the federal health care bill in order to bar government from funding abortion except in very limited cases.

“With the defeat of the Nelson amendment in the Senate, Stupak and his band of pro-life democrats are the last line of defense,” Arroyo wrote.

“After weeks of ignoring him, the White House arranged a meeting with Stupak last night. They are obviously nervous--and they should be,” he revealed.

The EWTN host, who described Stupak as a “committed Catholic,” said the interview will reveal what the Congressman is prepared to do next and how he intends to keep his pro-life language in any health care bill.

The interview will be broadcast on EWTN’s The World Over at 8 p.m. Eastern Time Friday night.

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Americans trust physicians over politicians on health care reform, says Gallup analyst

Princeton, N.J., Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) - In a follow up conversation with CNA on Friday, Gallup poll analyst Lydia Saad spoke more about her findings on Americans trusting health care workers over Members of Congress, particularly in regard to the current health care reform.

Saad was careful in telling CNA that “the fact that far more Americans believe nurses and doctors have high honesty and ethical standards than say, the same of political leaders does not necessarily equate with trust in each on crafting healthcare reform legislation.”

“However,” she continued, “we do have additional evidence along these lines.”  

Referring to a Gallup poll that she conducted in June, Saad told CNA that evidence shows more Americans display trust in the medical field than Congress to “make the recommendations for healthcare reform.”

According to Saad's June study, “nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) say they are confident in doctors to recommend the right thing for reforming the U.S. healthcare system” which is “significantly higher than the public confidence extended to President Barack Obama” or to Members of Congress.

Although President Obama received rankings in June that indicated Americans trusted him “a great deal or fair amount to make changes in the healthcare system,” Saad explained to CNA, “at the same time, our most recent approval rating of Obama on healthcare tilts negative.”

Those results show that “40 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove – in part reflecting Obama's dampened approval rating,” Saad said.

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Relations progress as Vietnamese president meets with Pope

Vatican City, Dec 11, 2009 (CNA) -

Pope Benedict XVI met with the President of Vietnam, Nguyen Minh Triet, this morning at the Apostolic Palace in a much awaited encounter. Although it appears that the two countries have not yet decided to establish full diplomatic relations, the Vatican called it "a significant stage in the progress of bilateral relations with Vietnam."

President Triet and a group of at least 12 other delegates from his administration were in attendance for the morning audience. The occasion took place in what was described as a ‘friendly’ atmosphere and lasted for around 40 minutes, incidentally the same amount of time the Pope dedicated to the U.S. President on his visit earlier this year.

Members of the press who witnessed the audience described the atmosphere in particular as “striking” and “almost festive” and said the Pope talked to the delegation “right up to the door” on their way out.

The meeting of the two world leaders was especially meaningful because it showed another solid step towards renewing what were at one time mostly stable relations. Relations with the Holy See were ruptured in 1975 following the unification of North and South Vietnam, at which time there were acts of aggression against the Church, including the expulsion of the Pope's respresentative.

The warm reception on both sides could be considered another reason to celebrate for Vietnamese Catholics, who have just celebrated 350 years of evangelization in their country and the 50th anniversary of the episcopal conference.

There was hope from Catholics in the communist country that this visit had been arranged to announce even stronger formal diplomatic ties, thus producing greater religious freedom in the country and even possibly paving the way for a papal visit at some point in their jubilee year.

Nevertheless, prior to the visit, Catholics throughout Vietnam continued to face persecution for demanding the return of church properties that were seized during the 1975 Communist Revolution.

Monsignor Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon, Bishop of Dalat, and president of the Vietnamese bishops' conference explained to Fides news agency on Wednesday, "For us, this encounter is a sign of reciprocal respect, that will allow for a very useful exchange. The communication serves for a mutual understanding that will open up new promises and hopes for Vietnam and for the Catholic Church."

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