Archive of January 12, 2010

Bishops of Venezuela call for end to violence

Caracas, Venezuela, Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela, Archbishop Ubaldo Santana, called for an end to the violence sweeping the nation and encouraged those living in the Americas to promote peace and unity.

“Venezuela has become a violent society,” the archbishop said in his opening remarks for the 93rd Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela. “It is troubling to see the increase in the number of violent deaths in cities, rural areas and on our borders.”

He added that the majority of the victims are children and young people.

“Violence has overcome the country without distinction for political affiliation, social class or religion,” he continued.

Turning to life issues, Archbishop Santana lamented the fact that “the sacred value of human life and the very meaning of existence has been quickly lost. We are facing a grave emotional and spiritual problem and a serious lack of strong public policies,” he said.

The prelate then referred to the presence of FARC in the Venezuelan territory, as well as the increasing tensions existing between Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. “The presence and activity of guerilla groups who move about freely on our borders is unacceptable,” he said.

“Faced with such a situation that threatens the peace and security of the these nations, the people of these three countries and of all of America should work to spread the Gospel and promote the value of human dignity as well as the sacred meaning of life,” Archbishop Santana stressed. “Everyone, without exception, should be deeply committed to promoting peace and unity,” he said.

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Police investigate grenade attack on cathedral in S. Philippines

Manila, Philippines, Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - Police in the Philippines are investigating a grenade attack on Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, early on Sunday.

An unidentified person threw a grenade at the tombs of the late bishops Francis Joseph McSorley and Benjamin De Jesus. Fr. Jose Ante, OMI, told Church authorities in Manila that the attack came before Mass early Sunday at the cathedral.

In a text message to Church authorities, Fr. Ante reported that nobody was injured but the glass windows were shattered by the blast. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the incident.

“God is still protecting us,” the priest said, according to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Bishop McSorley, a New Jersey native who died in 1970, was the first Vicar Apostolic of Jolo when it was established in July 1958.

Bishop De Jesus, also an OMI missionary, was Jolo’s second vicar apostolic who was gunned down by unidentified men in broad daylight on Feb. 4, 1997. He was 56.

Superintendent Leonardo Espina, Chief of the Philippine National Police’s Public Information Office, said they have yet to identify the perpetrators and local investigators are still trying to determine the signature of the improvised explosive device.

The southwestern island province of Sulu is located in the autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao.

In 2008 Catholic clergy and religious were put under military protection after a series of murders and kidnappings committed by Muslim militants who targeted Church personnel. In 2009 there were at least three mortar attacks in Jolo, one of which struck the Marist-run Notre Dame Boys School.

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Upcoming collection for Latin America to support catechesis and evangelization

Washington D.C., Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - The 2010 Collection for the Church in Latin America will be taken up in most U.S. parishes on the weekend of January 23-24. The collection, which has “Keep Faith” as its theme, is intended to assist the pastoral needs of the region by supporting dioceses, parishes and other Catholic institutions.

In 2009 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America distributed $6.8 million among 479 projects for catechesis, evangelization and training of religious personnel.

Its projects included helping in the formation of 20 novices and 70 junior sisters in Peru, evangelism among the Mapuche indigenous communities and training for 72 seminarians in the Archdiocese of Monterrey, Mexico, a USCCB press release says.

In August 2009 the subcommittee led a delegation to Cuba to observe how funds were used to rebuild churches and other structures after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike devastated the island in September 2008. The delegation toured the construction site of the new National Seminary, which the collection is helping to fund.

In September 2009 the collection provided funding for a national gathering of catechists in Brazil, while in December 2009 the subcommittee helped the Church in El Salvador after major floods.

Archbishop of San Antonio José H. Gomez, chairman of the subcommittee, said without the generosity of U.S. parishioners “our solidarity could not take shape into concrete programs of support and evangelization in Latin America.”

“Through your contribution you are being disciples and missionaries at the service of the body of Christ. On behalf of the U.S. bishops, as well as those who benefit from the collection, I offer my heartfelt thanks.”

While the national date for the collection has been set for the weekend of January 23-24, local dioceses may choose to participate on a different date.

More information about the collection and the projects it supports may be found at

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California abortionist accused of gross negligence in woman’s death

San Diego, Calif., Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - After the death of a 30-year-old woman who underwent an abortion, a previously disciplined California abortionist has been accused of gross negligence, incompetence and other legal violations. A judge has ordered him to stop performing abortions until his medical license is reviewed, while critics say their complaints were not addressed.

After a Jan. 7 hearing in San Diego, Administrative Law Judge James Ahler ordered Dr. Andrew Rutland to limit his practice to procedures other than abortion and delivering babies, the California Catholic Daily reports.

At a clinic in San Gabriel in August 2009, a woman named Ying Chen went into full cardiac arrest after a second-trimester abortion by Rutland on July 28, 2009. She died six days later at a nearby hospital.

Medical board records said she had been injected with the “dangerous” narcotic painkiller Demerol and the local anesthetic lidocaine. Her heart stopped beating and a later autopsy found that she died from lidocaine toxicity.

Judge Ahler said Rutland’s decision to perform the abortion at the San Gabriel clinic, which did not have adequate equipment to handle medical emergencies, “casts doubt on his professional judgment.”

The judge issued a ruling prohibiting Rutland from performing surgical procedures of any kind. However, he rejected the request by medical board representative Deputy Attorney General Douglas Lee that the doctor’s license should be immediately revoked.

Luis Mendoza, a pro-life advocate who conducts sidewalk counseling outside the Chula Vista clinic where Rutland operates, said that the medical board could have saved the woman’s life had it acted promptly on complaints filed about Rutland’s activities at the abortion facility.

“We complained that he was violating the terms of his probation by practicing medicine in the Chula Vista clinic without another doctor being present,” he said in an e-mail to San Diego-area pro-lifers. “Rutland overdosed the poor woman on July 28th. Four months after our complaint. A cease and desist order should have been issued against Rutland before the woman was killed.”

Mendoza reported he had received a call from the medical board in November, eight months after the original complaint. The board said that the investigation had been completed and the results had been forwarded to the attorney general.

At the time of Ying Chen’s death, Rutland was on five years of probation by the California Medical Board.

In 2002 he surrendered his medical license after investigations into the death of two newborns shortly after they had been delivered by Rutland, the California Catholic Daily reports. He was also accused of performing unnecessary hysterectomies, lying to patients, and having sexual relations with a patient in his office.

His license was later reinstated on the condition that he not practice medicine unless he was under the supervision of another qualified physician. Some of his former patients were outraged when he was reinstated, the Orange County Register reported.

One of the infants who died in his care, Jillian Broussard, had her spinal cord injured by forceps during her 1999 delivery. She died a week later.

Jillian’s father, Scott Broussard, said he and his wife were very disappointed that Rutland was allowed to practice again. The doctor had insisted Jillian had suffered a stroke.

Broussard told the Register the new allegation “doesn’t surprise me at all.”

“There’s the making of a mistake, but then there’s the way that it was made and the reaction by him afterward. He was not a man of honor or integrity… The responsibility for this death is on the medical board, to be shared with Dr. Rutland. They’re supposed to protect the public and they have failed.”

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More attacks on churches in Malaysia ‘Allah’ conflict

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - Attacks on Christian churches and institutions continue in Malaysia after a court ruling allowing non-Muslims to use the word “Allah” for God sparked protests and increased religious tensions. A government leader said the situation has stabilized and suspects are being pursued.

Four churches near the capital of Kuala Lumpur were attacked with firebombs in the initial incidents.

Since then, petrol bombs were thrown at a church and a convent school in the state of Perak and at a church in Sarawak on the island of Borneo, while another church was daubed with black paint, the BBC reports. Gasoline was also poured onto the front door of a church and set alight, resulting only in damage to the door.

On Monday Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said that there had been no serious incidents since Sunday night, the Malaysian Insider reports. He added that he was thankful that Sunday services “proceeded smoothly without any untoward incidents.”

Asked by a reporter about accusations that the government was passive in responding to the church attacks, he said that was “totally unfair” and noted that the only incident of the day was the burning of a door.

“I do not like statements of that nature, because in four days we have managed to stabilize the situation. We have not allowed it to spread to the streets and I think the way you ask that question is very mischievous.”

Hishammuddin reported that the police have narrowed down possible suspects but require more time to gather evidence. According to the Malaysian insider, he said people should not take everything on the internet or text massages as the whole truth concerning rumors of a gathering this Sunday.

According to the BBC’s description of the latest attacks, the petrol bomb thrown at a guard house of a Catholic convent school in the town of Taiping did not explode.

Several broken bottles and paint thinners were found at the church next to the convent and also at All Saints, one of the oldest Anglican churches in the country.

Bricks and stones were thrown at glass windows of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Miri, a logging and oil town in the state of Sarawak. In southern Malacca state, the outer wall of the Malacca Baptist Church was splashed with black paint.

Sarawak and the neighboring state of Sabah are home to most of Malaysia’s Christians, who according to the BBC make up about 9.1 percent of the country’s 28 million people.

Rev. Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia, said Christians would not be intimidated by the attacks.

"We all have to stand together to stamp out terror perpetuated by these extremist groups," he said, according to the Associated Press.

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Madagascan Catholics receive papal condolences for cardinal's death

Vatican City, Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has sent his condolences for the death of Cardinal Armand Gaetan Razafindratandra, archbishop emeritus of Antananarivo, Madagascar, who passed away on January 9 at the age of 84.

In a telegram addressed to Archbishop Odon Marie Arsene Razanakolona of Antananarivo, the Holy Father described the late cardinal as having “dedicated his entire life to helping Madagascans, as a diocesan priest and later as archbishop of Antananarivo, giving the best of himself that Christ might be announced.”

Pope Benedict also offered a prayer in the telegram, asking that “by the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Africa, the Lord may welcome His faithful servant into His Kingdom of peace and light.”

Cardinal Armand Gaétan Razafindratandra, was born in 1925 in Ambohimalaza into a large family with deep Christian roots. He received his primary and secondary education at the parish school of Faravohitra directed by the Brothers of the Christian Schools of Andohalo. The late cardinal went on to the minor seminary of Ambohipo and finally, to the Jesuit-run St. Michael's College, where he earned his diploma.

After his ordination to the priesthood in 1954, Bishop Sartre sent him to the Catholic Institute in Paris, to study at the Institute of Pastoral Catechesis and the Institute of Social Studies, opposite the chaplaincy for Malagasy students.

He returned to his country in 1956 and became director of catechetical teaching, where he drafted manuals for all the classes aged 12 years and older. At the same time, he was responsible for the spiritual direction of the public and non-confessional private schools, giving 40 hours of his time a week, while also serving as vicar of the cathedral.

The cardinal subsequently became a parish priest in Ambohimitsimbina and then in Ambavahadimitafo. There he organized entertainment for the children of needy families in summer camps run by young volunteers.

He was appointed Bishop of Mahajanga in 1978 and installed the following July. The cardinal visited all of the parishes in his territory, almost always traveling to them on foot. In 1994, he was proclaimed cardinal by the Venerable Pope John Paul II.

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Vice president's mother laid to rest in Delaware

Wilmington, Del., Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - President Obama and the First Lady are attending a Catholic funeral service today for Vice President Joe Biden's mother, Mrs. Jean Biden. Services are taking place at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Wilmington, Delaware.

Vice President Joe Biden released a statement last Friday, announcing his mother's death, saying that Catherine Eugenia “Jean” Finnegan Biden “passed away peacefully today at our home in Wilmington, Delaware, surrounded by her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and many loved ones.”

“At 92, she was the center of our family and taught all of her children that family is to be treasured, loyalty is paramount and faith will guide you through the tough times. She believed in us, and because of that, we believed in ourselves,” Biden said Friday.

 “Together with my father, her husband of 61 years who passed away in 2002, we learned the dignity of hard work and that you are defined by your sense of honor. Her strength, which was immeasurable, will live on in all of us,” the vice president added.

Following the two-hour funeral today, the President and First Lady will return to the White House.

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Cardinal Bertone urges respect for Christians in Egypt

Cairo, Egypt, Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - After recent anti-Christian attacks in Egypt, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, called for the country to appreciate the contributions of Egyptian Christians to society and to respect their “fundamental right to religious freedom.”

The Vatican cardinal noted that new efforts should be made to foster collaboration, dialogue and peaceful coexistence among peoples of different faiths in Egypt, “especially when it comes to communities that have been there for a long time.”

After underscoring that the Coptic Christians attacked in the town of Nagaa Hamadi are part of a community “that has contributed to the development and the history of Egypt,” Cardinal Bertone reaffirmed “their fundamental right to religious freedom” and called for Egyptians to appreciate “the contribution that Christian communities have made to the development of the society in which they live.”

This contribution, he explained, “is recognized by all, even by non-Christians, and by the heads of Muslim states, especially in the areas of education and social assistance.”

“We want to reestablish a positive relationship with each and every community.”

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Daughters of St. Paul unfazed by threats from Church of Scientology

Rome, Italy, Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) -

In Italy, the pre-Christmas release of the book "The Courage to Speak Out - Stories of ex-Scientologists" was met with a promise from the National Church of Scientology of Italy to bring legal action against the author and "whomever has assisted her." A spokeswoman for the book's publisher told CNA that, as of yet, no such action has been taken against them.

"The Courage to Speak Out" includes stories from 14 ex-members of the Church of Scientology.  It is the second volume from Maria Pia Gardini that relates first-hand perspectives from inside this church. The first edition, titled "My Years in Scientology," was based on her own time as a member.

Both books were co-authored by Alberto Laggia and put into print by the Italian publishing house of Pauline Publications, run by the Daughters of St. Paul.  The religious order, started by James Alberione in 1915, has a worldwide presence and is dedicated to using modern communication media to spread the Gospel and promote a message of peace, solidarity and fraternity.  As a part of their work they operate publishing houses and book stores across the globe.

The publication of the latest volume from Gardini was so ill-received by the National Church of Scientology of Italy that following its release, Luigi Brambani, from the organization's local public affairs office, released a statement threatening legal action against Maria Pia Gardini and "whomever has assisted her with activities that the Church considers detrimental to its image."

Brambani's Dec. 8 message also alleged that Gardini "has for years publicly spread falsehoods and libel, creating and encouraging a climate of hatred and discrimination against the Church of Scientology."

According to the spokeswoman, the Church of Scientology also reacted openly to the publication of Gardini's first book in September of 2007.

Speaking to CNA, the head of the press office for Pauline Publications in Italy, Sr. Beatrice Salvioni, said that the company is unaware of any legal action to date.

Sr. Salvioni also defended the decision to publish the book, despite the negative reaction from the church.

"The volume does not contain unfounded or defamatory news so we decided to publish it,” she explained to CNA in an email, citing no other motive for publishing the book besides that of informing the public and spreading awareness of such groups to the largest audience possible.

The charism of the Daughters of St. Paul, the sister stated,  is "to utilize cultural instruments and information in service of the Gospel," and this service is completed by offering instruments of knowledge, reflection and cultural insight.

Despite the complaints, Sr. Salvioni pointed out that "it won't be up to the reactions of Scientology to determine the choices of the editor and this is not because we wish to be noticed, but because we carry out a service to the Church and to society."

In a Jan. 2 press release the Church of Scientology reported that it has doubled its global presence in the last five years, which now includes 8,000 institutions in 165 countries. The Church of Scientology was founded by the American author L. Ron Hubbard in 1954.

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Mexican cardinal says Church cannot be silent in face of attacks on marriage

Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera reiterated this week that leaders of the Church cannot be silent in the face of attacks on marriage and the family - such as those by Mexico City lawmakers who approved same-sex unions and granted them the right to adopt children.

In response to the criticism he received for calling the Mexico City law immoral, unacceptable and condemnable, Cardinal Rivera thanked those who have shown solidarity with him and with the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, including many other Christian leaders in the country.

“The Word of God will always be the guide of our faith and a peace-filled consolation that comforts us during persecutions and tribulations,” the cardinal said. “For this reason, we can’t help but recall that passage from the Acts of the Apostles when the enemies of Jesus Christ, filled with hatred, forbade Peter, John and the disciples from speaking and teaching the name of Jesus.

However, the disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit, courageously responded, ‘We must obey God before men’.”

“They also want to forbid us, venerable brothers, from speaking the name of Jesus, preaching his doctrine, following the command of the Lord to proclaim the Good News and defending the sacred bond of marriage which St. Paul compared to the love of Christ for his Church.

“And no, we cannot be silent,” because one day we will go before “the supreme court of God,” who will ask us to account for the times we were too embarrassed to speak of Jesus' name.

“We, the shepherds of the People of God, cannot put men and their laws before God, as God’s law is supreme and unending. Every human law that goes against it is immoral and perverse, as going against his will brings society to moral degradation and ruin,” the cardinal said.

“Mexico is Christian,” he added. “Mexico is a country that loves the family, which is its basic cell and the center of social cohesion. For this reason we are very concerned about the attacks on marriage, the mockery of Christian values and of our most sacred beliefs. But,” he concluded, “we have discovered that the Lord has granted us an undeserved grace: that of being his witnesses, of embracing his Cross with joy in order to complete his Holy Passion.”

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USCCB media director lists bishops' health care concerns

Washington D.C., Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - In a Washington Post column on Jan. 8, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops outlined several problems with the health care bills proposed by the U.S. House and Senate, including funding for abortion, the lack of conscience protections and access for immigrants to health care.

In her column, titled, “Politics of health care 'reform' can make you sick,” Sr. Walsh recalled that while the bishops have been calling for health care reform for years, the bills proposed by Congress are more about politics, than health.

Sr. Walsh explained that there are five main concerns the U.S. bishops have with the proposed bills, the first being the government funding of abortion.

“The bishops have argued for an 'abortion neutral' bill, so that no one can use health care reform to put money into elective abortions,” she wrote.

Moving to the second problem, Sr. Walsh noted that the bill does not adequately protect conscience rights. “Under both the House and Senate bills, employers such as the Church, may be forced to provide for services that directly violate their teachings.”

She expounded, “There is no way that the church should be required, within its own house, to purchase insurance plans that include procedures the Church opposes.” The final bill, Sr. Walsh suggested, should have language similar to the Weldon Amendment “that prevents federal and state governments from discriminating against hospitals, physicians and nurses that do not perform, refer for, or pay for abortions. Health care facilities and health care personnel have the right to operate according to a value system honoring each human life.”

Focusing on immigration, media relations director described the bills as lacking “basic fairness,” saying that they “leave in place a policy that prevents legal immigrants, that is, people who are on the path to citizenship and pay taxes, from access to health services available to other taxpayers.”

Though they can fight in the Army, these immigrants “are still ineligible for Medicaid for the first five years of their U.S. residency. It is appalling that we can ask people to risk their lives to defend the nation, but cannot let them (have) access to the country's basic health care. Legislators should ensure that any final bill provides equitable access to health care for legal immigrants and their families.”

Sr. Walsh then lamented the fact that “undocumented persons” would not be allowed to purchase the insurance using their own money. This position not only smacks of unfairness - if people want to buy insurance, why not let them? - it is bad economics. The more people in the insurance pool the better.”

Furthermore, she pointed out that “undocumented persons have to rely on the emergency room for basic medical care - the most expensive ordinary care there is - to deal with matters as simple and contagious as strep throat and tuberculosis. If as many as possible had access to decent health care, including care that prevents serious disease or treats it early, keeping the spread of disease in check would have a chance of becoming the rule.”

Finally, Sr. Walsh questioned the affordability of the insurance provided by the current health care reform legislation.  “As written now, a family of four earning $29,500 would have to pay four percent of its income for health insurance premiums and would have inadequate protection on high deductibles and co-payments. That's almost $2,000 dollars a year.”

“Look at the cost of food, housing, transportation, and clothing and do the math. It is heartless to force people to have to choose rent over health care or medical treatment over minimum financial solvency.”

Summarizing her points, Sr. Walsh cautioned that if “decent health care becomes a matter of politics over the public good, we'll all lose. That's enough to make you sick.”

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Pope to visit to synagogue Sunday, Patriarch of Jerusalem to join him

Vatican City, Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - As the day of the papal visit to the Synagogue of Rome approaches, another religious leader has decided to join the Pope for what looks to be a full itinerary.  On Jan. 17, Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem will accompany the Holy Father on his historic stop.

According to Vatican Radio, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal, the archbishop of the Latin Rite Catholic churches of Israel, Palestine and Jordan, will be with the Holy Father on his Sunday visit to the synagogue.  

The Pope, the Patriarch and other officials from the Holy See will be met a short distance from the synagogue just before 4:30 p.m. by the Presidents of the Jewish communities of Rome and of Italy. The two Jewish leaders will lead them past two monuments where all will pay their respects to those deported from the Jewish ghetto of Rome on Oct. 16, 1943 and  remember a small child that was killed in an attack outside of the synagogue in 1982.

The Pope and his retinue will then be met by the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, on the central staircase leading into the synagogue. Once they are inside, the Catholic visitors will be welcomed by choral music.  Speeches and prayers will follow.

At the conclusion of these addresses, the Holy Father and the Head Rabbi will meet privately.  After the meeting, Benedict XVI will visit the synagogue's gardens, where an olive tree will be planted in commemoration of his visit. 

The afternoon visit will conclude with the opening of an exhibit in the Jewish Museum of Rome and a meeting with representatives of the Jewish community.

The visit will make Benedict XVI the second Pope to officially enter the Synagogue of Rome after Pope John Paul II first did so in 1986.


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Church neutral on re-election of Colombian president

Bogotá, Colombia, Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - The secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba, explained this week that the country’s bishops are taking a neutral stance on the possible re-election of country's Catholic President Alvaro Uribe.

In explaining the appropriate separation between Church and State, the bishop said, “The president as a person can be of another faith and as an individual can praise his God...but as head of state he can't, since he is head of a secular state, and not a state with an official religion.”

“If he said that the bishops are the ones who decide whether or not I will continue, that would be a mistake, meaning the state is not secular,” the bishop told Caracol Radio.

He went on to stress that the Church hierarchy in Colombia has no role in the question of Uribe’s re-election.  “We do not want to say either yes nor no, because a shepherd does not divide his flock,” he said.

He explained, that if the bishops say “yes,” those in disagreement will “leave the Church.”  However, if the bishops say “no,” those for the president “will feel their shepherds are not supporting them.”

“A pastor does not divide, he unites, and for this reason we won’t say either “yes” or “no,” he concluded.

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Judge recuses herself from trial of Notre Dame pro-life protesters

South Bend, Ind., Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - The trial judge assigned to the legal case involving 88 pro-life activists arrested for demonstrating at the University of Notre Dame recused herself from the case last week. The activists had demonstrated against the university’s decision to host President Barack Obama as a commencement speaker and award him an honorary degree.

Defense attorneys had appealed Judge Jenny Pitts Manier’s ruling denying their request that she recuse herself. In Indiana the standard for recusal states that the judge must be shown to have actual bias or the perception of bias. The defense argued that Judge Manier should recuse herself based on her prior rulings in abortion protest litigation, her husband’s criticism of Catholic pro-life teachings as a tenured philosophy professor at Notre Dame and other factors.

The case will be sent back to the chief judge of the St. Joseph County civil court for the assignment of a new trial judge, a press release from the Chicago-based Thomas More Society reports.

In December 2009, attorneys Tom Dixon and Dave Wemhoff had argued for the recusal and also argued that the trespass charges against the defendants should be dismissed.

The motion to dismiss all the cases was to be heard on a “global” basis, with all 88 cases consolidated for that purpose.

The defense lawyers charge that Notre Dame campus police exercised state arrest powers in a manner that was “viewpoint discriminatory.” They allegedly arrested pro-lifers at a series of demonstrations on campus while tolerating similar demonstrations from supporters of President Barack Obama.

Those arrested include Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” from the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, and Alan Keyes, a former Republican presidential candidate who ran for the Illinois U.S. Senate seat against Barack Obama.

Judge Manier’s decision to recuse herself was issued on Jan. 6, the Feast of Epiphany.

Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, said her recusal was an “unexpected gift” for Epiphany.

“It is essential that these important cases be decided by an impartial tribunal. We look forward to securing a favorable ruling on the pending motion for dismissal,” Brejcha commented in a press release.

The Thomas More Society and others have called on the university to intercede with the county prosecutor to obtain an early dismissal of the charges.

Many of the defendants as well as Fr. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, plan to attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 22.

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Knights of Columbus rally members to oppose federal funding of abortion

New Haven, Conn., Jan 12, 2010 (CNA) - Following the U.S. Bishops' announcement of their grassroots campaign to encourage the faithful to speak out against federal funding of abortion, the Knights of Columbus is calling upon its members to become active in voicing Catholic concerns as well.

“Knights and their families are strongly urged to contact their Senators and Congressmen during the recess, and ask that they support the House language authored by Representative (and brother Knight) Bart Stupak (D-MI), which retains the long-standing policy against federal funding of abortion,” reads an official statement from the Knights of Columbus.

Speaking on the topic of politicians and the Catholic conscience, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson expressed his concern in a recent column, saying that those who have argued that they were “personally opposed” to abortion but unwilling to “impose” that view on the rest of the country are now guilty of the same principle that they have tried in earnest to avoid.

“By working and voting to include abortion coverage in health care legislation, several Catholic politicians stand at the precipice of being the deciding votes in forcing a particular immoral view on their fellow Catholics, by forcing them to fund abortion through their tax dollars,” Anderson stated on Dec. 7, 2009.

Anderson also asserted that “It is doubly ironic that a law that would force millions to violate their conscience by paying their taxes and would entangle thousands of Catholic physicians, nurses, hospitals and charities in the evil of abortion is being considered at precisely a time when the majority of Americans 'in greater and greater numbers' are increasingly becoming more pro-life.”

Bulletin inserts distributed to over 19,000 parishes, a prayer campaign and pulpit announcements are all part of the USCCB campaign initiative. The effort is to help ensure that the final version of the health care reform bill sent to President Obama will include Hyde amendment protections explicitly preventing the use of federal money in promoting or paying for abortions.


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