Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - In an editorial published yesterday, the news agency for the Archdiocese of Mexico City emphasized that the decision by the country’s attorney general to challenge the legalization of same-sex “marriage” does not constitute discrimination. The paper added that homosexuals cannot “bestow rights upon themselves,” such as adoption because it violates the rights of children.
The editorial expressed full support for the attorney general’s arguments in his challenge to the Mexico City law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. The attorney general will appeal the law to the Supreme Court, arguing that it violates Mexico's constitution on two levels.
First, the norm on civil unions enacted in 2006 in Mexico City is a departure from the constitutional protection of the family established in 1974. Also, the editorial continued, children have the right to be part of the family as it is understood in the Mexican constitution.
The attorney general is on target with his arguments, the editorial stated, as there is no discrimination against same-sex couples entering into civil unions Such individuals cannot bestow rights upon themselves that violate the rights of children.
These arguments are not “religious, but rather legal. This is not about agreements with the Catholic Church, but with legality. This is not about imposing an ideology but about reasoning with common sense and in accord with natural and ethical principles of humanity and social harmony.”
“Marriage and the family are not questions of the Church. They have always existed, centuries before the Church. The defense of the rights of children should not be up for discussion.” the editorial said.
It would be helpful, the article continued, if analysts and the media did not portray this as a confrontation between the secular state and the Church or religious values, let alone as an attempt by the Church to intervene and “impose her medieval dogmas, endangering the secular state.”
“The Church’s intervention in these matters is not an attempt to impose her religious dogma, but rather it is the expression of her convictions in relation to human coexistence, ethics and morality.”
“We cannot overlook either the meaning of marriage and the family or the respect for children,” the editorial concluded.
Washington D.C., Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - Members of the Knights of Columbus delivered 100,000 military prayer books to the headquarters of the Military Archdiocese for the Military Services in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.
The book, titled “Armed with the Faith: A Catholic Handbook for Military Personnel,” has had 500,000 copies printed and donated since 2003, the Knights of Columbus told CNA. The version for members of the armed forces is spiral bound, printed on special coated stock paper and is sized to fit in the pockets of field uniforms.
The prayer books are distributed by Catholic chaplains in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Another version of the book, printed on regular paper, is offered to the families of service members through the Knights of Columbus Catholic Information Service.
In 2009 the Knights of Columbus produced a book “Armour of Faith: A Catholic Handbook for Canadian Military Personnel.” The Knights report that 30,000 copies were printed and distributed for Canadian soldiers.
CNA STAFF, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - A “non-moralistic” abstinence-only sex education for pre-teens may be effective in delaying sexual activity and reducing pregnancy and venereal disease, a new study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine says. Defenders of abstinence education said the study vindicates their efforts.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, is the first to demonstrate that an abstinence-only education reduced the percentage of adolescents who reported sexual activity over a long period, two years after the education, Science Daily reports.
The controlled study involved 662 African American students in grades 6 and 7. Students were randomly assigned to an eight-hour abstinence-only intervention, an eight-hour safe-sex-only intervention, an 8- or 12-hour combined abstinence and “safer-sex” intervention, or an 8-hour health-promotion control group.
There was a 33 percent reduction in self-reported sexual intercourse from the abstinence-only group, compared to the control group. Of those sexually active in the study, there were fewer reports of recent sexual activity compared to the control participants.
The abstinence intervention was based on principles shown to be effective in reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It did not use a “moralistic tone” and did not portray sex in “a negative light,” Science Daily says. The intervention encouraged abstinence as a way to eliminate the risk of pregnancy and STIs.
Study facilitators used brief and interactive small group activities to teach the pre-teens about HIV and STIs, to bolster beliefs supporting the practice of abstinence, and to improve skills and confidence to resist pressure to have sexual relations.
Researchers found that none of the interventions had significant effects on consistent condom use or unprotected sex. For those who lost their virginity during the two year study, there was no difference in consistent condom use between the abstinence-only intervention and the control group.
"It is extremely important to find an effective intervention that delays sexual activity; the younger someone is when they have sex for the first time, the less likely they are to use condoms," said the study’s lead author, John B. Jemmott III of the University of Pennsylvania. He said abstinence-only interventions may have an important role in delaying sexual activity in later in life and may help reduce pregnancy and STIs.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC) said in a statement that the study shows abstinence education is needed, not “the promotion of high-risk sexual behavior among teens.”
He said it was “unfortunate” that Congress and the presidential administration have eliminated abstinence education in favor of other sex ed programs. He claimed that despite the “enormous” amount of funding for “comprehensive” sex ed programs, recent Center for Disease Control data show that 40 percent of sexually active teen girls are infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
“The government does not promote drug use or underage drinking, and it should not promote high-risk sexual behavior either,” Perkins continued. “The evidence shows clearly that sexual abstinence is the healthiest behavior for youth.
Leslee Unruh, president and founder of the National Abstinence Clearing House, said the study shows what abstinence teachers have known “for years.”
“These programs help develop self-control and self-esteem, teaching kids they do not need to fall prey to the game of Russian Roulette with condoms,” she commented. “Abstinence programs show kids there are too many great things riding on their future to risk it to STDs, pregnancy and broken hearts. Abstinence is a message our kids want to hear - this study shows youth are making healthier choices and changing their behavior in response to this refreshing message.”
Boston, Mass., Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - Seeking to promote the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Archdiocese of Boston has launched a new website about how to make a good confession. Its priests will also offer confessions in every chapel and church on Wednesdays during Lent.
The website, www.TheLightIsOnForYou.org, describes how to prepare for confession with an examination of conscience. It also provides an act of contrition to recite before absolution.
Auxiliary Bishop of Boston Robert F. Hennessey recorded a video message on the website. In the video, he quotes Jesus as saying that Heaven rejoices more for one repentant sinner than for 99 that never needed to repent.
“Every time that someone returns to the Sacrament of Confession, Heaven celebrates. And that unbelievable experience of joy becomes ours when we are forgiven.”
The bishop also invoked the Parable of the Prodigal Son, saying it describes what happens in confession.
“We who are dead to sin are brought back to life again,”
“The priest sees the tremendous joy and relief that people experience in being freed from their sins,” he added. “Confession is one of our greatest gifts from God.”
The bishop explained he goes to confession frequently not only to confess what he has done wrong, but to receive “the grace to become a better disciple.”
“Confession gives us the chance to start over… It shows how forgiving and kind our God is.”
Those in confession will “deepen their friendship with Jesus” and experience “spiritual healing,” he continued.
Bishop Hennessey emphasized that God’s love is greater than any individual’s sins and no one should think he or she is beyond help.
The archdiocese’s confession website also provides other videos, parish resources and links to writings on confession authored by popes and bishops.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Bishop Hennessey have encouraged Catholics to invite others to Reconciliation. The archdiocese suggests going to parishes as a family or as a group, forwarding links to www.TheLightIsOnForYou.org via e-mail and Facebook, and personally inviting at least five family members and friends to confession.
The archdiocese also asks for prayers for the success of the initiative and also asks Catholics to thank priests for their involvement.
Every parish and chapel in the Archdiocese of Boston will have confession on the Wednesdays of Lent from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Denton, Neb., Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has announced its new seminary chapel at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Nebraska will be consecrated on March 3. Cardinal William Levada will attend the ceremony, which will be broadcast live on EWTN at 11 a.m. Eastern Time.
The ceremony is open to the public, but because of limited space rooms and television screens will be provided to those outside the chapel.
Bishop of Lincoln Fabian Bruskewitz will celebrate the Pontifical Consecration and Mass according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) is dedicated to the celebration of the Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962. In a press release, the FSSP said it was “delighted” at Cardinal Levada’s presence, describing him as one of the highest ranking officials in the Catholic Church.
The FSSP said his attendance is connected with his position as President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclessia Dei, which is dedicated to facilitating the full incorporation of communities and individuals attached to the Extraordinary Form.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary is located in rural Denton, Nebraska and is the FSSP’s English-speaking seminary. The seminary itself has 100 seminary rooms and 13 priest suites. It began construction in the fall of 1998.
The chapel consecration will “crown the heart and jewel of the seminary,” the Fraternity explained.
The seminary chapel, designed by architect Thomas Gordon Smith, reflects a “contemporary rebirth” of classical Catholic architecture, the FSSP said in a press release. Behind its mahogany doors are an elevated main altar with a 31-foot marble canopy, called a “baldachino.” The chapel has seven side altars and liturgical choir stalls, which seat 92 seminarians and priests.
The chapel immerses the visitor in “beauty and grandeur,” the FSSP said.
The seminary website is at http://www.fsspolgs.org.
Port au Prince, Haiti, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - Catholic Relief Services and its Caritas partners in Haiti have provided food and water to hundreds of thousands of victims of the massive January earthquake and have provided medical aid to thousands. The agency says it has raised over $38 million for the task and is “extremely grateful” for all its donors.
More than 100,000 people have been fed by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Port-au-Prince, the organization reports. Just days after the earthquake killed an estimated 200,000 people and left as many as one million homeless, CRS turned a golf course in the Haitian capital into one of the first relief camps. About 40,000 people have been served there.
CRS is collaborating with the local Church and Caritas partners including Caritas Haiti and the Caritas Internationalis confederation.
A CRS team worked with Haitian colleagues to restore operations at St. Francois de Sales hospital, one of the country’s oldest. Though the Port-au-Prince hospital was 70 percent destroyed, CRS worked with the hospital administrator to restore its capacity to receive patients. Volunteer medical teams are now performing up to 200 critical operations per week.
Relief camps are becoming more organized but the rainy season—which begins in April—is looming, CRS reports. The relief agency is increasing efforts to build temporary shelter and prevent the outbreak of disease from polluted water and poor hygiene. It has begun installing large water storage bladders throughout the capital and has begun construction on latrines and washing stations that will serve thousands of people at various CRS sites.
Joan Rosenhauer, CRS Executive Vice President for U.S. Operations, said CRS was “extremely grateful” to U.S. Catholic dioceses, parishes and schools. These started mobilizing their networks immediately.
Rosenhauer said they have “generously and creatively” supported CRS work in Haiti.
CRS says it has raised more than $38 million for its emergency response. Parishes have held second collections and colleges and universities have set up special web sites. Catholic schools have held special Masses, prayer services, concerts and fundraisers.
“We even heard of one little girl who sold all of her stuffed animals to raise donations,” Rosenhauer said. “We really appreciate every effort, no matter how small or large.”
The CRS website is at www.crs.org.
Vatican City, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) -
On Tuesday evening, the Holy Father celebrated Vespers at St. Peter's Basilica for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the 14th annual World Day for Consecrated Life. In his homily he called for consecrated people to be "a bridge to God" for the rest of humanity.
"The offering of the Son of God - symbolized by his presentation in the Temple - is a model for every man and woman that consecrates his or her entire life to the Lord," said Pope Benedict, reflecting the on the significance of the observance of the two celebrations together.
The consecrated life, he declared, "witnesses and expresses in a 'strong' way God and man's reciprocal search for one another, the love that attracts them; the consecrated person... represents a 'bridge' to God for all of those that encounter him or her, a call back, a return."
This is only possible through the "mediation" of Jesus Christ between the divine and human worlds, the Pope added, alluding to verses from the Letter to the Hebrews. "It is, in fact, only on the basis of this faith, of this profession of faith in Jesus Christ the one and definitive Mediator, that consecrated life has meaning in the Church, a life consecrated to God through Christ. It has meaning only if He truly is the Mediator between God and us, otherwise it would merely be a form of sublimation or evasion.
"He is the foundation, He who shared our frailty that we might share in His divine nature."
Pope Benedict further laid out the way consecrated people serve as a "bridge," saying that they "carry in their hearts and their prayers the anguish and desires of mankind, especially those who are far from God." Consecrated religious do this by experiencing the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God, he explained.
The life of the consecrated is therefore a "testament to the superabundance of love which stimulates us to 'lose' our own life in response to the superabundance of the love of the Lord, Who first lost his life for us."
The Holy Father then recalled how some consecrated people are afflicted by old age, sickness and even the burden of their daily toils but go unrecognized. "None of them are useless," he said, "rather, they are a precious gift for the Church, and for the world which thirsts for God and His Word."
In closing, Benedict XVI prayed that this Year for Priests might provide a stimulus for all consecrated people to accompany and sustain the priestly ministry with their fervent prayers.
Vatican City, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) -
During his Wednesday General Audience, the Holy Father spoke of St. Dominic, a saint described as the model for new evangelization. In his life, Dominic preached the Gospels to those who did not know Christ and also worked to re-evangelize Christian communities.
The founder of the eventual Order of Preachers, "spoke always with God and of God. In the life of the saints, the love for the Lord and for neighbor, the search for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls always go together," highlighted the Pope.
Young Dominic was known in Spain for his love for the poor and works of charity. When Dominic was ordained, he treated his priestly position as one of "service to render with dedication and humility," taught the Pope.
In his ministry, he was taken by Bishop Diego of Osma to Northern Europe to carry out diplomatic missions in which time he became aware of "two enormous challenges" for the Church. The first was that many people still did not know Christ. Dominic also noticed that there was an existence of a "religious laceration" that was having a negative effect on Christian life, particularly in southern France.
From that point on, continued Benedict XVI, he took on the apostolic goals of "missionary action towards those who did not know the light of the Gospel and the work of re-evangelization of the Christian communities."
"To this mission of preaching the Good News he dedicated the rest of his life."
The Pope reflected on this choice, pointing out that "this great saint reminds us that in the heart of the Church there should always burn a missionary fire, which drives (us) incessantly to take the first announcement of the Gospel and, where necessary, to a new evangelization..."
The Holy Father illustrated that Dominic of Guzman and his followers evangelized through the "concrete testimony" of their preaching whilst promoting community life in poverty and the importance of theological scholarship. They were able to reach the community by being part of the community.
Pope Benedict concluded by making an exhortation to pastors and lay "to cultivate this 'cultural dimension' of the faith, so that the beauty of Christian truth can be better understood and the faith can be truly nourished, reinforced and also defended."
He extended a similar appeal to seminarians and priests in observation of the Year for Priests, to "esteem the spiritual value of study," saying that "the quality of the priestly ministry depends also on the generosity with which we apply ourselves to the study of evealed truths."
St. Dominic, he said, "reminds us that theology has a spiritual and pastoral dimension, which enriches the character and life." Everyone, he summed up, can "find a profound 'interior joy' in contemplating the beauty of the truth that comes from God, truths always current and always alive."
Finally, reflecting on the legacy left by Dominic, the Holy Father recognized his care in providing for a number of women's religious communities. He said of these religious, "only in Paradise will we comprehend how much the prayer of the cloistered accompanies effectively apostolic action!" The Pope then expressed his "thankful and affectionate thought" to them.
Madrid, Spain, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - Parent organizations in Spain are fiercely protesting the curriculum of the Socialist government’s required education course, “Education for the Citizenry,” after it was revealed that in one Spanish city, students are being taught that sex can be freely practiced, even with animals.
According to the organization “Professionals for Ethics,” third grade students in Cordoba, located in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, are using course material stating that “nature has given us sex so we can use it with another girl, with a boy or with an animal.” Parents groups say the material indoctrinates children and camouflages an agenda that is pro-homosexual and critical of moral norms and values.
In the region of Castille and Leon, some 500 students have been excused from participating in the course for reasons of conscience, while hundreds in Madrid and Valencia are awaiting a ruling from the courts on whether or not they are required to attend.
Vatican City, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - At the general audience this morning, the Holy Father was treated to a circus spectacular. Artists from the group "Circo Americano" pleasantly surprised everyone with a choreographed performance, which Pope Benedict happily applauded.
The Togni Family and their "Circo Americano" entertained Benedict XVI and the thousands of pilgrims on hand for the audience on Wednesday at St. Paul VI Hall. They took over the stage with their juggling and acrobatics routine set to disco music.
Upon reaching the end of the show, Pope Benedict thanked the more than 50 artists with kind words and a smile, encouraging them, along with a soccer club in attendance, "to work with generous commitment in your respective fields to contribute to building a better future for all."
Concluding the audience, the Holy Father also recalled the several martyrs' feast days will be celebrated this week and expressed his wish that "the courage of these heroic witnesses of Christ help you, dear young people, to open your hearts to the heroism of holiness; supports you, dear sick, to offer the precious gift of prayer and suffering for the Church; and that it gives to you, dear newlyweds, the strength to impress Christian values upon your families."
Havana, Cuba, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - The Catholic newspaper for the Archdiocese of Havana, “New Word,” recently published an opinion column calling for internal dialogue regarding the current economic crisis on the island and offering suggestions for improving Cuba’s economy.
The column, written by Father Boris Moreno who holds a Master of Science in Economics, noted that Cuba’s economic situation “has become significantly more complicated” and appears to be “plunging deeper into decline.” Fr. Moreno also suggested that the worst may be yet to come.
The priest and economist charged that the island’s economic woes are a result of the political system that uses a rigid centralized ideology “to maintain an economic system that believes it essential to avoid other political options despite its own manifested inefficiency.”
Cuba’s economy is currently debilitated by its own internal imbalances, caught up in the worldwide economic recession and is affected by a decrease in tourist visits.
It is also negatively impacted by a lower yield of nickel, a substance whose price has already fallen by 80%.
“The calls to work hard and to work efficiently will not succeed in changing the situation,” the article noted. “The socioeconomic conditions of a country cannot change because of decrees or discourse.”
Fr. Moreno proposed a few basic measures for improving the Cuban economy: promoting independent work and protecting such work by law; implementing and amplifying pay for positive results; international investment with better security; and accomplishing a budget with the principle of subsidiarity.
He also proposed a few measures for “general anesthesia,” saying, “I believe the first and foremost would be for the government to formally promise to recognize the capacity of every citizen to have an opinion without fear of repercussion, because it would generate a climate favorable to debate.”
“I would like for this article, under the auspices of the means by which it was published, to spark a debate on these and other means of helping the economy,” noted Fr. Moreno.
Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, has called on young people in the country to “overcome fear in order to carry the banner of Christ," preaching “faith, hope and charity with courage,” after the example of the Venerable John Paul II.
The cardinal made his comments during the Mass for National Youth Day at the Minor Seminary of Mexico.
Cardinal Rivera encouraged the young people to “act as missionaries...without fear of preaching Christ in the city and doing so with the conviction that you are missionaries called by God to be light.”
“Do not be afraid to be missionaries, do not be ashamed of preaching Christ to others in your surroundings and in your city. You must overcome the fear of carrying the banner of Christ, of love, of hope and of faith,” he said.
Thousands of young people from Mexico City attended the celebration, which included games, cultural and spiritual activities, and vocational discernment.
Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - The government of Mexico City noted in a report this week that abortion has become a “plague” in the capital, as 7 out of every 10 women who inquire about the procedure end up choosing abortion.
The report, which was delivered to the Legislative Assembly’s Commission on Health, reveals that between April 2007, when abortion was legalized in Mexico City, and December 2009, there were 50,936 inquiries about abortion before the 12th week of pregnancy. Sixty-eight percent of these women (34,660) opted to have the procedure while 32% (16276) chose to continue their pregnancies.
The report says that the Beatriz Velasco de Aleman Clinic and the Ticoman General Hospital have become the two main locations where abortions are performed.
Centerport, N.Y., Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - MaterCare International (MCI), an international organization of Catholic health professionals dedicated to the care of mothers and their born and unborn children, has answered the call of the Missionaries of Charity to provide care for Haitian women and their babies.
While many organizations have rushed to provide aid to the quake-stricken nation, much of the aid being provided is for very basic needs. Organizations are focusing on providing food, shelter or basic medical care. However, as MaterCare’s Executive Director Dr. Rob Walley pointed out, “pregnancy does not stop because of a disaster of this kind.”
Following the earthquake, there has been a great need for obstetrical care.
“From previous experience in East Timor, after the occupation forces left and during the Kosovo crisis back in 1999, it seems that the needs of women during pregnancy and childbirth are forgotten as if pregnancy and birth can be put on hold,” Dr. Walley said.
In Haiti, he added, “these mothers have also endured the earthquake, suffered injury and the loss of children, husbands and other family members.” In the disaster's aftermath “they face infectious disease from contaminated water as well as starvation."
“For the mothers about to deliver the situation is particularly bleak since, with the total loss of 6 hospitals in the capital with their medical and nursing staffs, they have few options for safe, clean, facilities, in which to deliver or the help of doctors or midwives.”
Even before the tragic tremor, “Haiti already had one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world,” Dr. Walley noted.
In response, MCI sent their project manager and executive director down to Haiti two days after the earthquake in search of a location to set up their clinic. They were able to successfully find two places to begin their ministry, as well as a joint arrangement with an obstetrics and gynecology team from Milan. Their doctors are working in two hospitals in order to bring necessary care to Haiti’s new and expectant mothers.
MCI plans on being in Haiti for the long term. “The reconstruction of Haiti is going to take decades,” said Dr. Walley. “MCI’s mission is to help mothers and to work with Haitian doctors and midwives to re-establish maternity services perhaps in two centers.”
Dr. Walley and his organization are committed to making motherhood safer and healthier in Haiti, all without the contraceptive and abortive practices common to many organizations providing care for women.
More information about MaterCare International is available online at www.matercareusa.org.
Vatican City, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - In commemoration of the World Day for the Sick, the basilica of St. Peter's will host pilgrims with illnesses from all parts of the globe. The celebration of the Mass will also mark the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Council for Health Ministry.
The Eucharistic celebration will be presided over by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter's on the morning of Feb. 11.
As is customary on the occasion of the World Day for the Sick, the Holy See extends a particular invitation for the celebration to the members of UNITALSI, an Italian association that organizes pilgrimages for thousands of sick people to a number of holy sites every year. They also arrange for a pilgrimage to Rome every year on this date to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes and celebrate the Day for the Sick.
Hours after the celebration of the Mass, the sick and the volunteers associated with UNITALSI, the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Ministry, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski and the mayor of Rome will take part in a Eucharistic procession carrying with them the relics of St. Bernadette and a Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. The route will run the half-mile from Castel Sant'Angelo to St. Peter's Square, where the Pope will impart upon them the Apostolic blessing from the window of the Papal apartment.
The event will wrap up a series of activities scheduled to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Pontifical Council for Health Ministry.
CNA STAFF, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - The recent announcement that Tim Tebow and his mother will appear in a pro-life Super Bowl ad has generated much criticism, but such appearances are not new to football, as evidenced by a video published by the American Life League in 2007.
The 1986 Super Bowl featured the New York Giants vs. the Denver Broncos, with the Giants besting the Broncos 39-20.
Following their victory, six different members of the team spoke in a video about the evil of abortion. They used their personal experience, tying it into their experience on the field, to show just what they thought of the practice of killing potential future champions in the womb.
The video, in its entirety, can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wShTRUGdGAA
London, England, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - After criticism from national religious leaders and Pope Benedict XVI, The British Government has retreated from plans to implement an Equality Bill many saw as oppressive of religious freedom.
The rules of the failed anti-discrimination proposal could have barred groups from requiring Christian sexual ethics from youth leaders. Some warned it could have also made the male-only priesthood of the Catholic Church illegal.
On Monday Pope Benedict said the proposed laws imposed “unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs.”
A source at 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s residence, told The Telegraph, “We are clear that these parts of the Equality Bill should not go forward. The Pope's intervention has been noted.”
Many Catholic Labour Ministers of Parliament are reportedly upset that the new bill has provoked such strong reaction from Rome.
Naomi Phillips, head of Public Affairs at the British Humanist Association, characterized the pope’s remarks as an attack on “modern, liberal values” and said they further motivated her group’s opposition to the Pope’s state visit to the United Kingdom.
Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols told BBC Radio 4 that the Pope was “certainly not” getting involved in party politics but was trying to give his “reasoned voice” a hearing in the public debate.
The archbishop thought Pope Benedict’s words will find an echo among many in Britain who are “uneasy” that an unintended consequence of recent legislation would “drive religious belief and practice into the sphere of the private only.”
Rome, Italy, Feb 3, 2010 (CNA) - The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano republished an interview on Wednesday detailing current research on a new source of stem cells that is being called "the future of medicine."
According to the Vatican newspaper, the pioneering research is presently taking place at the Biocell Center of Busto Arsizio in Milan and involves using stem cells taken from amniotic fluid to create a retinal regeneration therapy. This stem cell source is considered morally licit as it does not require the destruction of human embryos.
In an interview with Giuseppe Simoni, an Italian biologist and geneticist from Milan, L'Osservatore Romano's Joseph Reguzzoni shed light on amniotic stem cells, which are now at the forefront of genetic research. The interview was originally published in September-December 2009 edition of the magazine "Communio."
"We are studying a particular type of stem cell, the amniotic stem cell, that represents a 'first' in the course of our existence," Simoni said of Biocell. "We are investing all of our work in the conviction that the study of amniotic cells could bring us to better understand many phenomena, and in consequence improve the lives of the sick, cure pathologies (which are) to-date incurable, and make more effective the remedies already used. In the field of amniotic cells, additionally, we are really at the beginning: everything still needs to be studied, verified, demonstrated."
"The possibilities are really so many and the hopes infinite," Simoni said.
When asked to explain why stem cells have been so pursued by medical researchers, Simoni explained that "The stem cells and their behavior are important to understanding the dynamics of tumors, the regeneration of tissues, the continual cell proliferation that takes place each minute in the course our entire lives."
Simoni also outlined the differences between embryonic stem cells and ones obtained from amniotic fluid. "Unlike embryonic stem cells," he noted, "in a not so distant future, everyone could possess their own amniotic cells, or have in close relatives an availability of compatible amniotic cells."
"For the embryonic cells, on the other hand, the conversation is more complicated, you need to find the embryo, develop compatible lines..." which, according to Simoni, not only have large costs associated with them but also have the power to generate large profits.
"All this," he stated, "is inconsistent with our mission and irreconcilable with our code of ethics."
"We believe, actually, that ethics are necessary in everything," he continued. "You can't work well if you don't have respect for the person, also for a person yet to be born. How can something good come out of an injustice or an inethical behavior?" Simoni asked.
"In this sense the study of the amniotic fluid and the stem cells they contain are not inconsistent with ethical principles."
L'Osservatore Romano reported that in addition to the Biocell Center of Busto Arsizio, numerous other institutions have agreed to take part in the research on amniotic stem cells and retina regeneration. The list includes Harvard Medical School's Department of Opthalmology, the IRCCS Foundation and three Italian hospitals.