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Archive of February 2, 2010

Pharmacists question new decision allowing teens to have access to abortion pill

Madrid, Spain, Feb 2, 2010 (CNA) - Pharmacists in the Spanish region of Catalonia along with the organization, Network of Responsible Pharmacies, are opposing a new provision allowing the morning-after pill to be distributed to girls under the age of 16 without a prescription or parental consent.

The spokesperson for the Network of Responsible Pharmacies, Marta Perez, said the provision implemented by the Socialist government constitutes an attack on the professional freedom of pharmacists.  She added that it could endanger public health, especially that of young people, due to the misinformation about the true effects of the drug being distributed by the Ministry of Health.

Perez criticized the government for allowing ideological interests to prevail over scientific reasoning. In the case of girls under the age of 16 she said, “There are no representative studies showing that the use of the pill at that age is safe.”

She also questioned the support of the General Council of Official Colleges of Pharmacists for a pamphlet issued by the Ministry of Health despite its misleading information about the pill and its effects.  Such support contradicts the professional and ethical role of the Council to safeguard the health of the people, she added.

Perez also lamented the government’s lack of support for the right of pharmacists to conscientious objection.  She said the Network is calling on the government to reinstate the requirement of a prescription for the morning-after pill and is establishing legal protection for pharmacists who refuse to distribute it for reasons of conscience.

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Vietnamese Catholics call for end to government crack down

Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb 2, 2010 (CNA) - A Vietnamese priest has condemned the recent government attacks on Dong Chiem parishioners in the Archdiocese of Hanoi and has called for the removal of police forces in the area and for an “end of the besiegement.”

Civil unrest in Dong Chiem has followed the government's demolition of a crucifix from church property on Jan. 6. Parishioners who responded to the destruction with peaceful protests were beaten, arrested and suppressed.

The latest incident was the severe attack on a Redemptorist Brother Anthony Nguyen Van Tang, who lost consciousness after he was bludgeoned along with two of his brothers by police on Jan. 20 for visiting Dong Chiem, where he prayed with parishioners.

J.B. An Dang told CNA that Br. Anthony Nguyen was taken to his dormitory on Jan. 31, were police instigated a thorough search and arrested two more students living in the same room.

Beginning on Jan. 20, Dong Chiem was “completely besieged” with police at checkpoints preventing anyone from coming or going, reports J.B. An Dang. Although state media reported on Jan. 25 that police had withdrawn from the area “in order to restore normalcy in life there,” a large number of plain clothes police remain, aiming to prevent outsiders from entering the area.

In a statement reacting to the beating and detainment of Br. Anthony Nguyen, Fr. John Luu Ngoc Quynh, spiritual adviser for the congregation of Vinh in Hanoi, urged “the end of the besiegement at Dong Chiem and the respect of the right to free movement and to visit the parish.”

On Monday, Fr. Pham Trung Thanh, Redemptorist superior of Vietnam, told Asia News that despite calls for an investigation of the beatings, “No one from the government has tried to get in touch with me on that issue.”

Br. Anthony Nguyen had reportedly been returned to his monastery on Monday and “is doing better,” the Redemptorist superior said. “His wounds are healing,” but “he is still suffering from dizziness, headaches, tiredness, fatigue, and loss of appetite. He cannot yet make long walks by himself. Via the media, he wants to thank everyone, and ask them to continue praying. With faith in the power of God, he is in a high spirits and optimistic, even if healing will take a long time. Those who attacked him knew what they were doing. They caused internal injuries that are worse than those that can be seen on the outside. His treatment will be complex and take time,” Fr. Pham Trung told Asia News.

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More than 50,000 show support for Tebow pro-life Super Bowl ad

Washington D.C., Feb 2, 2010 (CNA) - Over 50,000 people have reportedly submitted comments to a website in support of college football star Tim Tebow’s appearance in a pro-life Super Bowl ad.

The Susan B. Anthony List set up the site BlockHardForTebow.com to show support for the ad, in which Tebow and his mother Pam discuss how Pam refused to abort Tebow despite a life-threatening infection.

“When someone this prominent is willing to put himself out there with a positive message about Life, we need to defend him,” the site says. 

The website, launched Jan. 27, allows visitors to send personal comments of support to Tebow. It also hosts a short ESPN video about Tebow.

The ad, sponsored by Focus on the Family for broadcast on CBS, has drawn protest from the National Organization for Women (NOW) and other pro-abortion women’s groups.

Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser claimed that NOW and its allies are “on the wrong side of American public opinion.”

“The outcry of national support for Tim Tebow’s pro-life leadership illustrates the strength of the growing American pro-life majority.”

She claimed that the campaign against CBS, the Tebow family and Focus on the Family was “going nowhere fast.” In Dannenfelser’s view, it was being led by “old guard feminists” whose “desperate arguments” ring hollow.

“The ‘pro-choice’ label has worn out its usefulness – it is an empty platitude for the pain women feel when they’ve made the abortion choice. Arguments that abortion is somehow as liberating and self-sacrificing as Pam Tebow’s decision to choose life in the face of great personal pain just don’t stand the straight face test. Such callous attitudes grate on the conscience and defy experience.”

The Susan B. Anthony List reports that the pro-abortion rights group EMILY’s List has collected 16,000 signatures asking CBS to refuse to broadcast the ad.

A New York Times editorial criticized the protests against the ad as “puzzling and dismaying.”

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Hawaiian lawmakers shelve same-sex unions proposal

Honolulu, Hawaii, Feb 2, 2010 (CNA) - Hawaii lawmakers on Friday decided not to vote on a bill that would create same-sex civil unions in the state. Opponents of the measure praised the action, expressing gratitude to the lawmakers but calling for continued vigilance.

While the state Senate approved a civil unions bill last week, the state House leadership indefinitely postponed the bill, numbered H.B. 444. According to the Associated Press, the House leadership was wary of pushing a controversial issue during an election year.

Opponents of the measure cheered in the House gallery, while supporters shouted “Shame on you!”

Last year 33 of 51 house members voted in favor of civil unions.

Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, has refused to say whether she would veto a civil unions bill.

In a Friday statement the Hawaii Catholic Conference and Hawaii Family Forum said that the House’s decision does not mean that the bill is dead.

“The first thing we should do is continue to pray and thank God for His grace and mercy. We appreciate all your prayers on behalf of Hawaii Family Forum and Hawaii Catholic Conference,” the statement said. “Remember that we are witnesses to Christ in all that we do and say and we must always show compassion to those who do not agree with us.”

The groups called for Hawaiians to express their thanks to the Representatives whose “courageous action” put the will of the people first. They also advised vigilance in the future.

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Pro-life groups voice concern about new Ellaone ‘emergency contraceptive’

London, England, Feb 2, 2010 (CNA) - A new “emergency contraception” pill called Ellaone is being distributed in the U.K. and claims to be effective up to five days after sexual relations. Some pro-life groups have opposed the drug, saying its use could kill a newly conceived human being.

Dr. Donna Harrison, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told ABC News that fertilization of egg and sperm can only happen within 24 hours of sexual relations. Any emergency contraception five days after intercourse must work by preventing the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.

“To label this as emergency contraception when it's clearly an abortive action is dishonest,” Harrison charged. “This is a thinly-veiled attempt to get an abortion drug over-the-counter.”

The U.K. group ProLife Alliance said the pill, called Ulipristal Acetate, has the potential to act as an abortifacient. It said the drug could prevent a new embryo from implanting in a woman’s womb.

Joanne Hill, a spokeswoman with the U.K. pro-life charity LIFE, said the new drug will give women “a false sense of security “leading them to believe that their ‘mistake’ will be even easier to rectify than ever before.

“More casual sex and more unintended pregnancy will inevitably be the result.”

The pill offers no protection from sexually transmitted infections, she added, and voiced concern about the long-term effects of the drug on young women’s reproductive health.

Hill characterized the pill as “a means of early abortion” and said it could cause the same physical and psychological ill-effects as later abortion.

“This is another example of the pro-choice lobby peddling the myth that casual sex has no consequences.  There is always a price to pay – it could be your health, your emotional well-being, or the loss of a baby you never even knew you’d conceived – but there is always a price.”

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Pope Benedict to observe World Day for Consecrated Life

Vatican City, Feb 2, 2010 (CNA) -

Today the Church is celebrating the World Day for Consecrated Life simultaneously with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. Pope Benedict XVI will observe the two celebrations by presiding over Vespers in St. Peter's Basilica this evening.

The World Day for Consecrated Life was inaugurated in 1997 by Pope John Paul II as an initiative for the entire Christian community to celebrate the mission of the consecrated life in the present and the future of the Church.

It was founded by the Holy Father for three reasons: to praise the Lord more solemnly and give thanks to him for the gift of the consecrated life, to promote knowledge of and esteem for the consecrated life by the entire People of God and to give consecrated persons an opportunity to return to the sources of their vocation.

It is no mistake that the Day coincides with the celebration of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple.  This celebration, wrote Venerable John Paul II, is an "eloquent icon of the total offering of one's life for all those who are called to show forth in the Church and in the world, by means of the evangelical counsels 'the characteristic features of Jesus -- the chaste, poor and obedient one.' "

At it's inception as a World Day in 1997, the Pope entrusted it to the Virgin in the hope that it "bear abundant fruits for the holiness and the mission of the Church" and "heighten" the esteem in the Christian community for consecrated vocations. 

The Feast and World Day will be celebrated by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday evening with Vespers at the basilica of St. Peter's in the Vatican City.  A special invitation is made every year to members of the Institutes for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

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Cardinal Rodé addresses dwindling number of consecrated brothers

Vatican City, Feb 2, 2010 (CNA) -

Speaking with Vatican Radio on Tuesday, Cardinal Franc Rodé called to attention the need for the Church to place greater emphasis on the vocation of the religious brother.

The number of lay brothers has experienced an "enormous decline" in the last few decades, explained the cardinal, who is prefect of  the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.  He noted that in Christian schools alone, the presence of consecrated brothers has been greatly affected, comparing 16,000 in 1965 to today's total of less than 5,000. Additionally, he reported, the decrease in brothers is greater even in mixed congregations of priests and brothers. "So, there is a problem and we need to do something."

Cardinal Rodé explained that the congregation believes the drop is due to a "lack of attention" from the Church for the figure of the consecrated lay brother.  "Neither Vatican II, nor the post-conciliar documents have reaffirmed the importance of this vocation," he pointed out, adding that only allusions are made to the ministry.

However, by next fall, the cardinal noted, the congregation hopes to release a document reaffirming the value of the consecrated lay brother in the Church as a "figure that has a meaning in itself, that has its own identity."

A brother is not someone who "hasn't wanted or been able to... become a priest," he continued. The vocation of the brother has a particular mission in the Church, which is proved, in the history of the important roles of lay brothers in education and as saintly witnesses.

Cardinal Rodé also spoke of his plans to release a separate document reinforcing  the "absolute necessity" of prayer for the religious life, which is made difficult by the "busy" world we live in today.

It's possible, he added, that the document could include a section written by Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera addressing the importance of liturgical formation of young religious and its correspondence to the will of the Church.

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Youngest archbishop in Spain installed in Oviedo

Oviedo, Spain, Feb 2, 2010 (CNA) - Last weekend Bishop Jesus Sanz Montes became the youngest archbishop in Spain after being installed as the new ordinary of the historic Archdiocese of Oviedo.

Previously, the new archbishop was head of the Diocese of Huesca-Jaca, located in northeast Spain.

During his installation ceremony, Archbishop Sanz Montes, 54, thanked the 39 prelates in attendance and expressed his commitment to defending life from conception to natural death.

In his homily at the Cathedral of Oviedo, Archbishop Sanz Montes said he was not seeking “praise nor applause” and that he was not afraid “of unpopularity.”

The archbishop has spoken out against the Spanish government's acceptance of abortion in recent years.  In a pastoral letter last October, the then-Bishop of Huesca-Jaca criticized leaders for calling abortion a “right,” which, he explained, is “a venomous source of immorality and injustice that mars the entire law.”

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Vatican releases first report on religious death toll in Haiti

Vatican City, Feb 2, 2010 (CNA) - Twenty days after Haiti was ravaged by the 7.0 earthquake, the Vatican has released its intial assesment of the number of male and female religious who died in the cataclysmic event. The report also lists buildings that were destroyed or damage in the disaster.

According to Fides, the news agency of the Vatican's Congregation for Evangelization, the list of dead religious shows that the quake inflicted “irreparable damage” on the Catholic Church in Haiti, without accounting for the extensive material destruction of the Church's infrastructure.

The preliminary report shows that the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul have suffered damage to their community houses and the loss of one religious sister.

The Daughters of Wisdom suffered the complete destruction of their house and school, and the death of six sisters.

The Daughters of Mary were hit extremely hard, with 13 religious losing their lives to the violent tremor.

The Daughters of Mary Help of Christians had their community house and school leveled, while the Christian Brothers lost their provincial house, three schools and the lives of two brothers.

The teaching community of The Little Sisters of St. Therese suffered the loss of four sisters, seven teachers and 60 students. Two of the order's community houses and five of their schools were flattened.

The Salesians of Don Bosco lost three brothers to the earthquake as well as one community house and one school.

The final religious community to report a death was the Sisters of St. Anne, who lost one sister.

The Franciscan Sisters informed the Vatican congregation that their school was a total loss.

According to the report, there is also extensive material damage to the structures of the Marianists, the Missionaries of Scheut, the Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation.

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Dominican cardinal calls on youth to make a difference in society

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Feb 2, 2010 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, called on young people in the country to “make a difference in Dominican society.”  He urged them to stay away “from “the path of vice and 'easy money' that many have chosen.”

The cardinal made his comments during a Mass for National Youth Day.  Many young people have “gotten involved in drugs, violence, male and female prostitution and theft,” he said. “Drug trafficking has permeated honorable families, military organizations and other sectors of society.” 

The presence of these in society “is very unfortunate for you,” the cardinal continued.  “Young people should build their future, and this will not happen on the street.”

He encouraged the youth to shy away from superficial and irresponsible relationships and called on society to “put greater emphasis on improving and building up the family” in order to combat this evil.

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CNA staff members recount trip to Haiti following earthquake

CNA STAFF, Feb 2, 2010 (CNA) - Catholic News Agency sent two members of its staff to Port-au-Prince after the January 12 earthquake that took the lives of 150,000, left 200,000 wounded and three million homeless. CNA's Spanish-language editor-in-chief, Walter Sánchez Silva Saldarriaga, recently recounted their experiences in the devastated island-nation.

Sánchez Silva, along with José Castro, director of television services, arrived at Port-au-Prince on January 15.  “The residents of Port-au-Prince are in need of everything,” Sánchez Silva said.  He explained that when they arrived, it was 7 p.m. and already dark.  “You could see groups of people on the streets with candles, cooking the little they had, drinking whatever water was left.”

“We could see homes destroyed, hotels in ruins, and rubble impossible to identify,” he continued.  “We saw desolation and extreme poverty.”

Commenting on the interview the two had with the Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Sánchez Silva said, “He met with us and gave us an extensive, long and profound interview that was full of emotion.”

“He told us about how Archbishop Serge Moit of Port-au-Prince died, about the seminary in ruins and about how the Church of the Sacred Heart, the most beautiful in Haiti, was now destroyed.”

Adding that the city's cathedral was also left in ruins, the archbishop lamented the fact that so many people were in need of assistance, but not enough supplies were available to go around.  “They will need help for years if not decades,” Archbishop Auza told Sánchez Silva. 

Sánchez Silva then recounted the experience of visiting the ruins of the seminary and witnessing the “terror of the seminarians” as an aftershock shook the island.  After avoiding a shooting in downtown Port-au-Prince, Silva and Castro went to the city's cathedral.

“At the Cathedral we saw something interesting. Both the Cathedral and the Church of the Sacred Heart have a very similar crucifix outside...  In both cases they were still standing, almost completely intact. I felt hope when I saw that.”

The most heart-wrenching leg of the journey was in downtown Port-au-Prince, Sánchez Silva said.  “Hundreds, thousands of people walking aimlessly about. People looking for assistance, searching for their deceased loved ones, confronting each other over something to eat using whatever they had—sticks, stones, rubble. If somebody found something, others piled on top of him and whoever was strongest won.

“Chaos everywhere. Nobody was helping anyone else. It was completely the law of the jungle.”

In his account, Sánchez Silva included an urgent call from the Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, whose words left an impression on the CNA staff members.  Referring not only to the disaster in Haiti, but to all the needs of our brothers: “What should we do now?” the cardinal asked.  “Solidarity.”

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Archbishops of Indianapolis and New Orleans make Super Bowl bet

Indianapolis, Ind., Feb 2, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis and Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans have made a friendly bet on the upcoming 44th Super Bowl this Sunday between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints.

Archbishop Buechlein revealed in an email provided to CNA that, “Archbishop Aymond and I have made a wager on the Saints vs. Colts Superbowl.”

“He receives Southern Indiana pork chops if the Saints win. I receive Gumbo if the Colts win,” he wrote.

Archbishop Buechlein also has a reward planned for his flock, according to the archdiocesan newspaper The Criterion.

The Indianapolis archbishop has declared Monday, February 8, 2010, the day after the Colts play in the Super Bowl, as an official day off for all archdiocesan Catholic schools in the area.

In granting the day off, Archbishop Buechlein praised the Colts for being “strong examples of positive role models and community involvement” and offered the team his gratitude and support.

The Colts have a 14 and 2 win-loss record, while the Saints come into the championship game with a 13 and 3 win-loss record. This Sunday's Super Bowl will start at 6:25 p.m. Eastern Time on CBS.

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CCHD clarifies connection to activist network that opposed Stupak Amendment

Washington D.C., Feb 2, 2010 (CNA) - Researchers examining the activities of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and its grantees have raised questions about its connections with a network of community organizing groups involved in homosexual issues and abortion advocacy, including opposition to the Stupak Amendment.

The Reform CCHD Now Coalition’s research was primarily conducted by the American Life League (ALL) and adds to the findings of the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry (BVM), a group which has examined CCHD-funded organizations involved in activities contradicting Catholic teaching.

One group that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has come under fire for supporting is the Center for Community Change (CCC), which was listed on the CCHD website as a group that Catholics could support to help low-income people build “effective organizations that can change their communities and public policies.”

The reference to the CCC was deleted from the CCHD website before noon Tuesday.

The CCC says it strengthens, connects, and mobilizes grassroots groups to increase their influence. According to Bellarmine Veritas, 31 CCHD grantees have been identified as CCC partners.

However, through its activism arm, Campaign for Community Change joined the Stop Stupak coalition. The coalition has opposed regulating health care legislation with the Stupak Amendment, which would restrict federal funding for most abortions.

Marvin Randolph, the CCC’s Director of Organizing and Politics, delivered remarks at a Dec. 2, 2009 Stop Stupak Coalition Day of Action on behalf of the Campaign for Community Change.

He accused “anti-choice activists” of working to restrict “women’s access to reproductive health care” by joining a “general campaign of hate and misinformation.” He said that health care reform should not come “at the cost of more restrictions on reproductive health.”

In a response to Our Sunday Visitor's editor John Norton, USCCB spokeswoman Sr. Mary Ann Walsh replied that CCC has not received any funding from CCHD since 2001, when the Campaign gave the group $150,000.

The American Life League also charged that there was an overlap between the CCC leadership and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development (JPHD) in the person of John Carr, JPHD’s executive director.

Carr has worked with the CCC at least as far back as 1983. He served on its board of directors from 1999 to 2005 and was on its executive committee from 1999 to 2001.

Although Carr currently oversees the CCHD, Sr. Walsh explained to Norton that in 2001, when the grant was given to CCC, Carr did not have jurisdiction over the Campaign.

After Carr left the CCC’s board of directors, Tom Chabolla, associate director of programs for the CCHD until 2008, joined the board.  This charge has not yet been addressed by the USCCB.

ALL’s lead researcher on the CCHD, Michael Hichborn, alleged that the reports show “full-blown Catholic cooperation with a pro-abortion and pro-homosexual organization at the highest levels of the CCHD.”

CNA sought comment from John Carr and CCHD head Ralph McCloud, but did not receive a reply after repeated attempts.

John Carr responded to the ALL report in Monday comments to OSV's John Norton. He said he had left the CCC board in February 2005 and had no involvement in or knowledge of the actions alleged by ALL or the BVM.

“My experience with CCC was that it focused on poverty, housing and immigration and had no involvement in issues involving abortion and homosexuality,” Carr told Norton.

He said the board never acted on any position involving these matters and he would have “vigorously opposed” any advocacy if it had.

“I have spent my personal and professional life defending human life and dignity and Catholic teaching, including current efforts to keep abortion funding out of health care reform,” Carr added.

He said investigators’ failure to contact him or the CCHD led to the “unfair” allegations.

Responding to Carr’s comments on Tuesday, ALL said he had not addressed some of its points. ALL asked for explanations why over 50 CCHD-supported organizations are engaged in pro-homosexual causes “in some capacity” and why 31 CCHD grantees are partners with the CCC.

It also noted that Tom Chabolla, former associate director of programs for the CCHD, was on the CCC board when it was involved in such abortion and homosexual advocacy.

ALL asked why Carr’s USCCB bio omitted his involvement with the CCC. It also asked how he will address the CCC’s “ongoing problem” with funding pro-abortion and homosexual advocacy groups if he did not recognize the “direction” in which the CCC was headed.

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