Archive of January 22, 2010

Pro-life rallies to be held in Spain on March 7

Madrid, Spain, Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - “Spain Says Yes To Life” is the theme organizers have chosen for numerous pro-life rallies planned to take place across the country on March 7.  Organizers chose the date to voice opposition to the government’s new legislation on abortion, which is expected to pass later in March.

During a press conference, spokesman for the event Gador Joya called on Spanish president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to convene a referendum so that the country's citizens can express their opinions regarding the new law.

If the president feels most Spaniards support the law, “he should have no problem convening a referendum and consulting the people,” Joya said. He noted that on January 28, one million signatures calling for the referendum will be sent to the government.

Joya said turnout in Madrid is expected to be smaller than it was for the October 17 protest last year because this time organizers will be holding rallies in different cities across the country. He also remarked that rallies will be held in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and France.

Joya added that organizers hope to establish a tradition of celebrating pro-life rallies each year during March to coincide with the World Day of Life, which is celebrated on March 25.

The spokesman argued that the majority of Spaniards support the right to life and want their voices to be heard.


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Earthquake in Haiti is not punishment from God, says cardinal

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, has firmly rejected the idea that the tragedy in Haiti was a punishment from God, as some have claimed.

In an exclusive interview with Catholic News Agency, Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez “emphatically” rejected the thought that God willed the January 12 earthquake as a punishment, as some reporters had suggested in recent questions to the cardinal.

“I have always maintained that God is a God of love. God can permit this in order to shake the consciences of insensitive people who see so many in need but do nothing,” he explained.

“We are helping many people while others have washed their hands of this,” the cardinal continued.  For this reason, he said, “I emphatically reject the idea that this is a punishment from God.  How can God be pleased with the deaths of so many? I completely reject that, and besides, theologically that cannot be explained.”

Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez said these kinds of disasters, like the tsunami that struck Indonesia in 2004, also have their origin in man’s sin. In response, “Christian men and women must have hope.”

After expressing his sorrow over the tragic situation in Haiti, the cardinal called for “absolute solidarity” from all countries, “including the United States and Canada,” as the Dominican Republic is not capable of responding to this emergency alone.

On Wednesday the cardinal celebrated a special Mass with the other bishops of the Dominican Republic to pray for the eternal rest of all who died in the disaster.

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Conference to explore work of Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand

Rome, Italy, Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - This upcoming May at the University of Santa Croce in Rome, a conference will be held to celebrate the renowned 20th century philosopher, Dietrich von Hildebrand, and explore one of his seminal works that was published in English for the first time last year.

“Our conference,” said John Henry Crosby, founder of the Hildebrand Legacy Project, “seeks to explore the question, 'what is love?' By bringing together philosophers, theologians, psychologists, doctors, scientists, writers, and artists to unpack the original insights of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s most important philosophical work, The Nature of Love.”

“We want to think deeply about what love is, what it is not, and how we can all learn to live it more deeply,” Crosby said.

The Hildebrand Legacy Project was founded in 2004 by John Henry Crosby with the help of his father, Franciscan University professor John F. Crosby, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand and friend Anthony Gualandri as an initiative “to promote the thought and spirit of Dietrich Von Hildebrand by preserving his memory and disseminating his writings, especially in the English speaking world.”

As part of this effort, the project is holding a conference in Rome May 27-29, 2010 for the purpose of discussing Dietrich von Hildebrand's work, “The Nature of Love,” published in 2009 for the first time in English.

“Pope John Paul II famously wrote that 'Man cannot live without love,'” Crosby told CNA, going on to finish the quote, 'He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.'

“If our conference has a premise,” he continued, “then there could be no better summary of it than these words of John Paul. For this very reason, the question of the nature of love is unavoidable. Love may be the most central human reality, that without which we cannot live, yet it is also enormously vulnerable to false conceptions.”

Anthony Gualandri, co-founder of the Hildebrand Legacy Project, told CNA that they are anticipating 300-500 people in attendance.

Pope Benedict XVI has taken an active interest in the Hildebrand Legacy Project, not only holding audiences in the past with John Henry Crosby and Alice von Hildebrand, the late philosopher's wife, but also giving a $45,000 Papal Foundation grant to the organization. Crosby has previously said that the Holy Father considers Dietrich von Hildebrand a voice of reason in an age that has largely despaired of reason.

The conference will be broadcast May 27-29 via their website

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Nigerian archbishop says Jos violence worsened by false reports and government neglect

Abuja, Nigeria, Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - Responding to the violence in the Nigerian town of Jos, the local archbishop has said the media is further inflaming the conflict with “counter-productive” false reporting. He also said the Nigerian government has failed to provide for its people, especially its youth.

At least 200 people have been killed in and around Jos since Sunday. The Financial Times said the latest violence began when angry youths confronted a Muslim man who was rebuilding his house, which was burned down in similar violence in 2008.

The clashes, which also have an ethnic aspect, have reportedly split along religious lines. Nigeria’s population is split about equally between mainly Muslims in the north and mainly Christians in the south.

Archbishop of Jos Ignatius Ayau Kaigama spoke to the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Critical of the national and international media, he called for “conscientious and prudent reporting.” He said the media tends to worsen the conflict by conveying false information and publishing numerous pictures in order to draw as many readers and viewers as possible.

The archbishop said that because Christians often have no voice in the media, they were in many cases portrayed as the aggressors.

Many people would believe these reports as “gospel truths” because they are unaware that the reports are often not factual but only contain the opinions of journalists, Archbishop Kaigama told ACN.

He said the actual facts of the recent violence are unclear and he warned about rumors reported as fact.

The archbishop added that the media focused on the violence but did not address issues of real importance. He said the violence is not so much religiously motivated but rather a social, political and ethnic conflict.

Criticizing the Nigerian government, he said the government fails to provide any form of social security. Many young people feel they have no future and there is no employment.

Being frustrated, they often turn to violence and this violence is often exploited by political and religious leaders.

Adults, too, are often unpaid or paid very late for their work, he continued.

Archbishop Kaigama told ACN that the government is not fulfilling its responsibilities. Almost all social services are provided by the Church, but her work is not supported by the government and is dependent on the support of outside aid.

He added that the curfew imposed after the violence makes the Church’s work more difficult and worsens the social tensions.

The archbishop called on the government to make Nigeria “a better country,” to develop the potential of the people and to provide security for them.

According to ACN, he also emphasized that the Church must continue to pursue dialogue with Islam, since it is an alternative to conflict. To increase social harmony among young people, he advocated projects in which young Christians and Muslims learn and work together.

The training of future priests and catechists is also important because they go out to the people “bringing hope and carrying out the work of peace and reconciliation right down at the grass roots.“

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Vatican sees improved outlook for 2010 finances

Vatican City, Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - The Council of Cardinals met in the Vatican from Jan. 20 - 21 to discuss the organizational and economic issues of the Holy See. Financial advisers told the meeting that they believe the Vatican's economic fortunes will fair better in 2010.

Nine members of the council were also present to meet with heads of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See, top representatives from the Vatican government, the president and secretary of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and administrative and general directors of Vatican Radio.

According a communique from the Holy See regarding the meetings, the results of the budgetary meetings "reflect the hope of possible economic and financial advancement" and, regardless of the prevailing economic climate, the predictions "indicate some slight improvement."

Among the principal expenses of the Holy See are salaries for the 2,668 people who work in Vatican City, those at Vatican Radio and other institutions dedicated to media communications.

As far as the estimated budget of the Government of the Vatican City State for 2010, Archbishop Velasio de Paolis, President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, said that the most recent report shows the Holy See "administers its finances autonomously and has substantially overcome the difficulties of previous financial years, enabling it to look to the future with greater confidence."

Financial figures haven't been released for 2009 yet, but in 2007 and 2008 the Holy See ran a deficit.

Besides costs associated with the institutional activity of the State, there are also the costs for the upkeep of property and buildings as well as payroll for 1,884 employees.

Pope Benedict XVI dropped in on the meeting for a while, "listening with great interest to their observations, thanking everyone concerned for their valuable assistance to the Apostolic See."

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Contraceptives delivery by 11-year-olds is ‘dangerous prescription,’ critics warn

Quito, Ecuador, Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - A Planned Parenthood partner in Ecuador is using youth as young as 11 to deliver the contraceptive injection Depo-Provera as part of a “peer-to-peer” model. Critics said it was a “dangerous” program that undermined parental authority, corrupted youth and would be illegal in the United States.

Veena Siddharth, the vice president for international programs for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), and Dee Redwine, PPFA Latin America regional director, wrote about the program in a Dec. 15 article in Global Health Magazine. Planned Parenthood operates the program through a partnership with the Ecuadoran group, Centro Medico de Orientacion y Planificacion Familiar (CEMOPLAF).

“What if I told you that Juan, a community health care worker in rural Ecuador, is providing injectable contraceptives outside the clinic setting to indigenous community members?” the article begins. “What if I told you that Juan is actually a 15-year-old and the clients he’s reaching are also youth?”

The article says that Juan is one of about 30 young people ages 11 to 19 who receive training in “introduction to injections in general, training in Depo Provera in particular” and in biological safety procedures. The teens also distribute other contraceptives, including birth control pills and condoms.

Siddharth and Redwine go on to explain that the program reaches the hardest to reach indigenous people because for the first-time user the drug is “less invasive” than other long-acting methods. The article also praises the “confidentiality,” “accessibility,” and “convenience” of the program, saying a “promoter” goes to clients every 12 weeks.

Stephen Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute (PRI), told that the program was a “dangerous prescription” for young Ecuadorans.

“[J]]ust think of the emotional and the medical consequences of allowing teenagers – you can’t even get teenagers to make up their bed – and you are going to allow them to go out and inject their peers with a powerful, steroid-based drug without a medical examination, without awareness of any counter indication of taking the drug?” he said.

Mosher added that contraceptives do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases and can encourage them to become sexually active.

The program “encourages risky sexual behavior, absolutely,” he commented.

Jim Sedlak, vice president of the American Life League (ALL), called the program “absolutely outrageous” and an “assault” on parental authority.

“This would be totally illegal here in the United States,” he told “Certainly, Planned Parenthood has used these peer-to-peer programs frequently all over the United States, but they’ve carried it to a horrible extreme in Ecuador where they have 15-year-old kids going out and giving birth control shots to other 13-, 14-, 15-year-old kids.” reports that the website of Pfizer, the U.S.-based manufacturer of Depo-Provera, contains many warnings about the drug. It says women using the drug may lose “significant” bone mineral density, a loss that is greater with increasing duration of use and may not be completely reversible.

“It is unknown if use of Depo-Provera Contraceptive Injection during adolescence or early adulthood, a critical period of bone accretion, will reduce peak bone mass and increase the risk of osteoporotic facture in later life,” the warning adds.

It is not clear whether any of the hundreds of millions of dollars Planned Parenthood receives from the federal government is part of the $6.9 million it reported using for its “International Family Programs” during fiscal year 2007-2008.

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Archdiocese of Hanoi condemns savage beating of Redemptorist brother

Hanoi, Vietnam, Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Hanoi has condemned local government attacks against Catholics at Dong Chiem parish, including the “savage” and “brutal” beating of a Redemptorist brother by police.

The attack is the latest incident near Dong Chiem parish, where local authorities blew up a cemetery’s crucifix in the early morning of Jan. 6.

On Wednesday, police “brutally” beat Redemptorist Br. Anthony Nguyen Van Tang so severely that he lost consciousness, the archdiocese said in a statement.

The statement, signed by vice-chancellor Fr. Long Le Trong Cung, reported that a group of priests and religious had wanted to visit Dong Chiem after they learned of escalating violence against parishioners and priests.

As of Jan. 20, the parish was “completely besieged” and police at checkpoints prohibited anyone from entering, J.B. An Dang tells CNA.

The delegation from the archdiocese was stopped by police at Xay Bridge, about one-third of a mile from the church. Hanoi Redemptorists spokesman Fr. Peter Nguyen Van Khai told the Vietnam Redemptorist provincial Superior that four of the five policemen there attacked Br. Anthony Nguyen and a layman.

“The lay man was slightly injured, but Br. Anthony Nguyen suffered serious injuries on the head, lips and eyes,” reported Fr. Peter Nguyen, who said the brother was “savagely assaulted” and lost consciousness.

“The shirt of the lay man, and the one of a motorbike driver, who helped to transport him to a nearby parish, were soaked with the Redemptorist's blood,” he said.

Locals reportedly recognized the attackers as “police from [the] inner city of Hanoi.”

The Archdiocese of Hanoi expressed great concern about the violent situation at Dong Chiem, J.B. An Dang reports. It said “hundreds” of anti-riot police, militiamen and plainclothes police are deployed in the area to bar passage to and from the parish.

The Archdiocese reported that Dong Chiem’s pastor, Fr. Nguyen Van Huu, and the assistant priest, Fr. Nguyen Van Lien, have been repeatedly summoned and interrogated by police.

“Parishioners have been subjected [to] beatings and massive arrests,” it continued, listing the names of 16 detainees.

Additionally, parishioners are being blasted by threatening messages on public loudspeakers which broadcast all day long.

The Archdiocese of Hanoi has asked all Catholics to “fervently pray” for priests and parishioners of the parish, especially for those who have been jailed and attacked “in this time of difficulty.” It also sought prayers for respect for human rights.

J.B. An Dang tells CNA that parishes have been asked to sing the “Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi” at the end of every Mass until the persecution ends and justice is restored.

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Prop. 8 trial witnesses make ‘troubling’ attack on religion and Catholic teaching

San Francisco, Calif., Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - Court witnesses arguing against California’s Proposition 8 have described religious beliefs of those who believe marriage is between a man and a woman as biased and a “chief obstacle” to homosexuals’ “political progress.” The comments were part of a “troubling” attack on religion, Proposition 8 defenders say.

Proposition 8, the successful 2008 California ballot issue that restored to state law the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a wife, is being challenged in federal court by opponents who claim it is unconstitutional.

On Wednesday one plaintiff witness was Gary Segura, a Stanford University political science professor who specializes in the political power of minorities, including homosexuals.

Segura said that religion is “the chief obstacle for gays’ and lesbians’ political progress.”

“It's difficult to think of a more powerful social entity in American society than the church,” he commented, according to a transcript of the trial.

Segura noted that America is a very churchgoing nation and religion provides an opportunity for people to meet together on a weekly basis. In his view, religious groups are “arrayed against the interests of gays and lesbians.”

He said that the biblical condemnation of homosexuality and the teaching that gays are “morally inferior” affects a “huge percentage” of the public. This makes the political ground “very hostile to gay interests.”

Asked to explain his understanding of an earlier witness, Dr. Young, he said Young “freely admits that religious hostility to homosexuals is an important role in creating a social climate that's conducive to hateful acts, to opposition to their interest in the public sphere, and to prejudice and discrimination.”

Andrew Pugno, general counsel for Prop. 8 backer, responded to Segura’s testimony in a Wednesday statement.

He said Segura offered “a serious and troubling line of attack against people of faith.”

“Today, religion has taken the stage, front and center, in the battle over the constitutionality of Prop. 8 and is being portrayed as an illegitimate basis for supporting traditional marriage. Religious bigotry surely found expression in today’s presentation by the plaintiffs,” he charged.

“To suggest that the people of California cannot consider their own political, moral and religious views when casting their vote on Prop. 8 is preposterous,” Pugno continued, adding that many issues are presented to voters that involve moral questions.

“The plaintiffs put the role of religion clearly in their cross hairs and are likely to fire away at the legitimacy of religious and moral views, as well as the votes and voices of those who hold them.”

On Thursday the Prop. 8 defense team asked Segura about assaults and death threats against supporters of the measure.

According to the Washington Post, Segura said that organized violence or broad disorderly behavior certainly has a negative impact on the homosexual rights movement. In his view, such behavior is "a cry for help or expression of frustration or maybe the ultimate expression of powerlessness."

Other opponents of Prop. 8 have attacked Christian sexual ethics during the trial.

On Jan. 13, San Francisco city attorney Therese Stewart asked Yale history professor George Chauncey to read official doctrinal statements from the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church. According to Jordan Lorence, senior council for the Prop. 8 defender Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), the statements “generally restated what the Bible says about the definition of marriage as one man and one woman.”

“Professor Chauncey said those doctrinal statements reflect historic bias against those who engage in homosexual behavior,” Lorence continued in a report at the ADF website. “It’s not hard to figure out what is so frightening about an attempt in federal court to attack and delegitimize the views of the two largest Christian denominations in America.”

Lorence claimed that the testimony was further proof that the trial is about “much more” than the personal relationships and feelings of those in same-sex relationships.

“It is about imposing a different and intolerant ‘morality’ on America and eradicating opposing ideas,” he charged.

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Cuban dissidents denounce mistreatment of political prisoner

Havana, Cuba, Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - The Christian Liberation Movement is denouncing the mistreatment of Cuban political prisoner Jose Daniel Ferrer, saying he is the victim of continuous abuse by Communist officials.

In a statement, the CLM reported that seven months ago Ferrer was put into solitary confinement and has not been allowed to receive food or clothing sent to him by family members.

The movement also condemned his transfer to the Potosi prison, known for its inhumane treatment of inmates.

Last August, it was revealed that a prisoner at Potosi was confined without clothing in a cage called the “punishment cell,” where where mosquitoes fed on his unprotected body.

The CLM called on all defenders of human rights to demand Cuban officials halt the life-endangering abuse of Ferrer.

More information can be found at:


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Bishops of Mexico condemn anti-family laws

Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - In a statement this week, the bishops of Mexico reiterated their condemnation of all laws attacking the family and marriage between one man and one woman.  The prelates emphasized that natural law must always be respected and that the Christian faith is not an obstacle to freedom or science.

The bishops recalled the recent words of Pope Benedict XVI to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “The natural law does not exclusively or predominantly belong to one confession, although Christian revelation and the fulfillment of man in the ministry of Christ illuminates it and develops its doctrine in fullness.”

Reiterating their condemnation of the recently passed law on same-sex unions in Mexico City, the bishops said the moral life is “founded upon human nature itself and is accessible to every rational creature.”  They also noted that it “thus constitutes the basis for entering into dialogue with all men who seek the truth and, in general, with civil and secular society.”

This norm touches one of the essential aspects of law and calls into question the consciences and responsibility of lawmakers, the bishops said.

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Mexican priests participate in First National Congress of Priests

Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - More than 500 Mexican priests are attending the First National Congress of Priests, which is being held January 18-22 in Acapulco under the theme, “Fidelity and Priestly Fraternity.”  The event was organized as part of the Year of Priests decreed by Pope Benedict XVI.

The opening session was attended by the president of Caritas International, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga; the Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, Archbishop Christophe Pierre; Bishop Marcelino Hernandez of Orizaba; Bishop Alejo Zabala Castro of Chilpancingo-Chilapa; and Archbishop Felipe Aguirre Franco of Acapulco.

During his opening remarks, Archbishop Aguirre said he hoped the event would help priests to “rediscover the beauty and importance of the priesthood.”


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Pro-life marchers flood D.C. in protest of legalized abortion

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - Hundreds of thousands of people are gathered in the nation's capital today to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and protest abortion in the annual March for Life. Gathering from all over the country, protesters of all ages first heard from prominent pro-life, political and religious leaders before beginning the march.

Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) was among the politicians who addressed the crowd on Friday, saying, “Thank you one and all for being an important part of the greatest human rights struggle on earth – the right to life movement. By the grace of God, we stand behind, with and unabashedly for both victims of abortion – women and children.”

The sheer number of people has caused a traffic advisory to be issued for the District. The volume of protesters has also allowed for two separate marches to take place. The first route will proceed East on Constitution Avenue to First Street, NE, then South on First Street, NE, to the United States Supreme Court where they will rally and then disband.

The second march route will proceed West on F Street to 10th Street, NW, south on 10th Street to Constitution Avenue, NW,  West on Constitution Avenue to 12th Street, NW, then South on 12th Street to the National Mall, where pro-life marchers will also rally and eventually disband. 

CNA contacted the D.C Metropolitan Police Department for a crowd estimate but was told that due to disputes in the past between the city and protest organizers over the amount of people gathered, they have stopped giving estimates. However, police said that the march has progressed peacefully and without indecent thus far.

According to EWTN, 300,000 demonstrators are estimated to be taking part in the March for Life.

Just one day before the March for Life in Washington D.C., the results of a new survey put out by the Knights of Columbus and Marist College showed that the number of Americans who say they are pro-life is continuing to grow. Members of the Millennial generation (18-29 year-olds) say abortion is “morally wrong” at a rate of 58 percent.

The survey, which was conducted between December 2009 and January 2010, asked if abortion was “morally wrong.” Fifty-six percent of Americans said they thought that abortion was indeed “morally wrong.”

In addition to showing that more Americans are becoming pro-life, the results showed that the upcoming generations are more pro-life than those nearing retirement.

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Nuncio to deliver message from Pope at Haitian archbishop's funeral

Port au Prince, Haiti, Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - Funerals for Archbishop of Port-au-Prince Serge Miot and Vicar General Charles Benoit, who both died in the catastrophic earthquake last week in Haiti, will be held on Saturday, January 23. During the Mass, the Apostolic Nuncio will read a message from Pope Benedict to all the country's Catholics.

Speaking to CNA outside the Apostolic Nunciature in Haiti, the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Bernardito Auza said he expects large crowds to attend the funeral services for Archbishop Miot “because he was very beloved. Priests, religious and lay people will be present.”

“The archbishop's burial will be temporary,” the nuncio explained. “As an archbishop, he has the privilege of being laid to rest in the Cathedral, but since the Cathedral was destroyed, he will only be able to be transferred there once a new one is built, and we don't know when that will happen.”

Archbishop Auza told CNA that the Funeral Mass will start at 8 a.m. in front of the cathedral and that the  main celebrant will be the President of the Conference of Bishops of Haiti, Archbishop Louis Kebreau of Cap-Haitien. The homilist will be H.E. Bishop Joseph Lafontant, Auxiliary Bishop of Port-au-Prince.

“I will say a brief word and read the Message of the Holy Father to the Church in Haiti after the homily,” stated the nuncio, who added that a message from the Pope to the priests and faithful of Port-au-Prince will also be read.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, Chairman of the Board of Catholic Relief Services, will also be in attendance and will read a letter from Cardinal Francis George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Archbishop Auza also explained the activities following the funeral, saying, “After the Mass, there will be a convoy to Lilavois (Santo 19) for the internment of the remains of Msgr. Miot, at the seat of the Bishops' Conference … Then the USCCB delegation will have a brief tour - two distribution points, Saint Francois de Sales Hospital, the offices of the CRS and Caritas, then back to the Apostolic Nunciature, where the delegation is staying.”

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Brother of Terry Schiavo claims 'lies' are still being spread about her

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - Nearly five years after the death of his sister Terri Schiavo, Bobby Schindler has said that the general press is still “telling lies” about her.

Schindler explained his perspective and said that news accounts “refer to Terri as being brain dead.”

“I see that all the time,” he continued, “ and it simply is not true. They say that she was on artificial life support, without explaining to people what artificial life support means. There's this perception out there that Terri was on a machine – that people like Terri need machines to keep them alive.”

“It's still being reported by the mainstream media,” Schindler told on Thursday. “There's things that are being said that were simply not true.”

Terri Schiavo died in March of 2005 when a Florida judge ordered the removal of her feeding tube, a move that was requested by her then husband, Michael Schiavo who had custody of her. The case made headlines and was the subject of a public feud on right to life issues. Terri's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler had fought for two years to try and prevent their daughter's death.

Bobby Schindler claimed that the autopsy report following his sister's death showed that she was in good physical shape when her feeding tube was removed, and that the pathologist indicated that Terri could have “quite easily lived a normal life span.”

“Terri died because we took away her food and water,” Schindler stated, “just like we would all die if our food and water was taken away.”

“It took almost two weeks.”

According to Schindler, the media continues to report that Terri was brain-dead, that she was on artificial life support, and that she was unresponsive and blind.

“These are simply not factually correct,” Schindler stated to “It's patently false. If Terri were alive today she could be here to 'March for Life' with us. All she needed was a wheelchair, and we could have taken her anywhere. But there's the perception out there that these people basically need to be bed-ridden, and that they are unable to be taken anywhere. It's just not true.”

“If you go on YouTube, or go on MySpace, and put my sister’s name in there and see all the horribly offensive things that come up, and how she’s made fun of,” he continued, “it frightens me, because of what exists in our culture today and how we view people like my sister and people with cognitive disabilities.”

“I think we’re being taught to look at these people as burdens, as inconveniences, instead of what I believe they are – as gifts. They allow us to show our compassion, our love. I believe that they are blessings.”

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Haitians need more than material assistance, advises Caritas in Port-au-Prince

Rome, Italy, Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - The local president of Caritas in Haiti, Bishop Pierre-Andre Dumas told L'Osservatore Romano about Caritas' activities in reaching the people with assistance and underscored the necessity that the international community not allow Haitians to lose hope and confidence. "They need to hear, 'We are here and we are staying!'”

"Now the survivors need more than anything to feel that we are their neighbors, they need encouragement and hope. They need to hear someone say, 'We're on our feet and we want to stay standing',” said the bishop in an interview with the Vatican newspaper.

Asked about the alleged poor management of resources by agencies providing assistance in Haiti, Bishop Dumas said, "If there is controversy, this surely does not regard the Catholic Church."

Calling the Caritas operation a "machine," the bishop explained that he and another operative from Caritas International personally coordinate the operations which are a point of reference for non-religious humanitarian organizations.

Mentioning that from their observations, dropping supplies in by air is not the "most idyllic solution,” they work to reach areas on the ground. He elaborated, "We have chosen to send trucks directly with aid products, without making them wait in storage, as has otherwise happened, provoking chaos in the connections."

The bishop said that there are now 15 international Caritas agencies at work in Haiti. Some have come with dogs to find people under the rubble.

"The Church, through the commitment of Caritas, is giving proof of true leadership and of strong unity."

"This is the best answer to the controversy and to those who want the emergency to become a race of who does best and first. To be the best means to discover God in the suffering faces of each person and concretely render timely and effective aid, without losing ourselves in questions that are not useful."

Bishop Dumas said the the main things that are needed in Haiti right now are food, water, tents and hygiene kits.

But, he added, "most of all, the population needs to not feel abandoned. The fear is that everything will be resolved in a wave of material assistance, without there being a serious reconstruction plan that follows."

There is also a risk that some people might take advantage of the situation while it is very important to show human spiritual and brotherly "proximity" right now.

"The Haitian people have already suffered from murder and other natural disasters. That's why they must not lose confidence, they need to hear, "We are here and we are staying!'”


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Rep. Smith refers to abortion as the 'greatest human rights struggle on earth'

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2010 (CNA) - U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.) has spoken out against abortion twice in the past two days: on Thursday, he addressed the House floor calling abortion the “greatest human rights struggle on earth.”   Then on Friday at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. he encouraged the massive crowds to “pray, fast and work to protect” all human life.

Speaking to his fellow congressmen on Thursday, Smith posed a rhetorical question asking “How can so many seemingly smart, sane, compassionate and accomplished people – especially in politics – support, promote and if President Obama has his way in the pending health care legislation, lavishly fund with public dollars, the violent death of unborn children and the wounding of their moms by abortion?”

“Is it really so hard to understand that abortion is violence against children, a pernicious form of child abuse falsely and aggressively marketed as choice, a human right, or health care?” he continued. “How long will we permit the pro-choice cover-up and bogus safety claims to misinform, especially in light of the reams of evidence documenting serious injury to women who abort?”

Rep. Smith then recalled a story he had read in a book written by his friend Dr. Jean Garton. While Garton was once preparing a lecture on abortion, her three-year old child unexpectedly walked into the room and saw a picture of an aborted baby. The child then gasped and shouted “Mommy, who broke the baby?” said Rep. Smith.

“That young child saw the brutality of abortion with unclouded comprehension,” the congressman asserted. “That child was unencumbered and unaffected by the deceptively clever and preposterously misleading propaganda dished by the multi-billion dollar pro-choice industry.”

“That child saw, and knew immediately that babies are smashed and broken to bits by abortion.  And with alarm, wanted to know, who did it.”

Rep. Smith also spoke on the recent story of Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson who had previously described herself as “extremely pro choice” before witnessing an abortion at her Texas clinic via ultrasound. Quoting her words after she had seen the abortion, Rep. Smith said “I could see the baby try to move away. I just thought, what I am doing...never again.”

At the March for Life rally on Friday, the congressman addressed the current health care reform debate to the large crowds and asserted that “Abortion isn't health care. There is nothing whatsoever benign, healing or nurturing about abortion.”
“Safe?” he continued. “Certainly not for the 52 million babies who have been dismembered or chemically poisoned or starved to death since 1973.” 

“Safe for women? At least 102 studies show significant psychological harm, major depression and even higher incidences of suicide in women who abort. This has been covered up.”

“Abortion is a serious human rights abuse, Mr President,” concluded Rep. Smith. “With indomitable trust in God, we today recommit and reiterate our resolve to pray, fast and work to protect and enfranchise all, regardless of age, race, sex, disability, wantedness or condition of dependency.”

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