Washington D.C., Mar 29, 2010 (CNA) - Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker has denied that President Obama’s executive order barring funding for abortions is of any enforceable value, saying the legislation’s funding provisions regarding abortion are “intentionally complicated.” She predicts that abortions will be funded at Community Health Centers because of the health care bill.
Opening her Sunday column by saying abortion is the last thing she wants to talk about, she charged that the president’s executive order on abortion funding cannot override statute.
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who secured the executive order in exchange for his support for the legislation, has described the order as an “ironclad” ban on abortion funding.
According to Parker, defenders of the health care bill have also said the bill nowhere says funds will go towards abortion and that the Hyde Amendment prohibiting federal funding for abortion applies to the legislation.
“Both are true - up to a point. It isn’t what the bill says; it’s what it doesn’t say,” Parker continued.
While the bill does not explicitly appropriate abortion funding and uses terminology that seems to “explicitly” forbid it, she said other areas are “swampier” and funds could be use to pay for abortion as circumstances change.
She explained that the Hyde Amendment is a rider that must be attached each year to the annual appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.
“Under its terms, it applies only to those funds,” Parker commented.
The Community Health Centers (CHCs) are not funded through this appropriations budget but rather does “an end-run around Hyde” by appropriating billions of dollars for a new “CHC Fund.”
“Because the Obama administration’s ‘fix-it’ bill did not include the abortion-ban language proposed by Rep. Bart Stupak, those billions appropriated to CHCs simply are not covered by Hyde,” Parker claimed.
While President Obama’s executive order purports to extend the Hyde Amendment restrictions to these dollars, she added, “regardless of Obama’s stated intentions, he can’t actually do this without an act of Congress.”
Although defenders of the bill say abortions aren’t performed at CHCs, under the new law they can, Parker argued.
“There’s nothing to stop them,” she said, explaining that statute requires them to provide all required primary health care services, including those related to “obstetrics or gynecology that are furnished by physicians.”
“Federal courts long have held that when a statute requires provision of health services under such broad categories, then the statute must be construed to include abortion unless it explicitly excludes it. Voila.”
“Prediction: Abortions will be performed at CHCs, you can bet your foreclosed mortgage on that,” her Washington Post column concluded. “There was always a will by this administration, and now there’s a way.”
Vatican City, Mar 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The tenth International Youth Forum closed in Rome yesterday with the celebration of Palm Sunday Mass by Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Vatican dicastery that organized the summit, summarized the week’s lessons for the youth in some words of advice about pursuing Christian love.
The Forum, "Learning to Love," was organized for 300 young people from 93 countries who represented more than 30 Catholic associations. The participants took part in workshops and discussions, and heard speakers throughout the week who took on themes corresponding to the beauty of Christian love as a vocation in modern society.
In his address, Cardinal Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, highlighted the Christian living as "a fascinating life project" and "not the frustration of our longing for happiness" as the media sometimes depicts it.
The Italian bishops' SIR news agency reported some highlights of the cardinal's address to the 300 participants, including the beauty of marriage, the priesthood and the Christian life, the importance of trusting in Christ and the freedom offered to Christians through their full commitment to God.
He told the youth to "trust Christ completely" because he "will not take away anything that is beautiful and has real value in life."
Offering some suggestions to the participants, he told them to " be careful not to grow old too soon," asking that they maintain the passion to grow, ask much of themselves and stay true to "the great ideals of love."
"Do not be afraid of becoming saints," he implored them.
Cardinal Rylko told the group that to be able to enjoy their freedom, they must "educate" it, because a part of freedom is the element of being able to make judgments and staying committed for a lifetime.
"Those who want to live their own life must be able to be converted every day, to question themselves again, every day, in front of God," he continued.
Cardinal Rylko drew his remarks to a close by urging the youth to be committed to building support networks in Christian communities, because "alone we are weak, together it is easier to discover things, to be supported by other people."
Pope Benedict greeted the delegates after Palm Sunday Mass, congratulating them on completing the week of spiritual exercises that took place in nearby Rocca di Papa from March 24-28.
Vatican City, Mar 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Mass at St. Peter’s on Monday evening for the fifth anniversary of Venerable John Paul II’s death. He called his predecessor a "great Pole" whose entire life was given out of charity.
Among the many others taking part in the Mass was Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow Stanislaw Dziwisz, the late-Pope's personal secretary. The Mass was celebrated four days before the actual day of Pope John Paul II's death, April 2, because it falls on Good Friday this year.
In his homily, the Holy Father likened John Paul II to the figure of the "Servant of God" described by the prophet Isaiah in Monday's Liturgy of the Word. The Servant, the Pope said, "will act with steadfast firmness, with an energy that is not lacking until he has realized the task he has been assigned."
"What the inspired prophet says about the Servant, we can also apply to the beloved John Paul II," the Holy Father said, noting that late-Pontiff was guided by the Lord to "exercise a very fruitful ministry, for which, once again, we give fervent thanks to God."
Pope Benedict went on to say that John Paul II's actions reflected the charity we see in today's Gospel reading which recounts the story of Mary of Bethany, who washed the feet of Jesus with an expensive oinment and dried them with her hair.
"The entire life of Venerable John Paul II took place in the sign of this charity, of the capacity to give himself generously, without reservation, without measure, without calculation," explained Benedict XVI. "What moved him was love for Christ, to whom he had consecrated his life, an overabundant and unconditional love."
The Pope especially greeted those from Poland at the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, telling them in their native language that the life of this "great Pole" can be a source of pride for them. He said, though, that they must remember that his life "is also a great call to be faithful witnesses of the faith, hope and love that he taught uninterruptedly."
Pope Benedict concluded his homily with a call for everyone to "entrust ourselves ... following the example of Venerable John Paul II, to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, so that she may sustain our commitment to being, in every circumstance, untiring apostles of her divine Son and his merciful Love."
Santiago, Chile, Mar 29, 2010 (CNA) -
Eighty percent of religious sites in the Chilean regions hit by last month's earthquake are in desperate need of repair, according to a report prepared by the Office of Statistics for the bishops' conference of Chile. The prelates note that some $260 million will be needed for reconstruction efforts.
Twelve of the country’s 27 dioceses were affected by the earthquake, with 545 religious facilities reporting damage, 440 of which are churches.
The statistics indicate that nearly one million Chilean Catholics are currently unable to attend their regular parishes. For this reason, pastors and parish assistants have made extra efforts to ensure the continuity of liturgical services and pastoral ministry.
Due to the severity of the damage, the executive committee of the bishops' conference has established a Reconstruction Support Commission to collaborate with the prelates on restoration efforts across the country.
Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 29, 2010 (CNA) - In a recent article for the newspaper, “El Grafico,” Mexican pro-life expert Carolina Beauregard applauded actions by 18 of the country's states to establish legal protections for the unborn and encouraged the remaining states to pass similar pro-life laws.
Beauregard, who advises several Mexican pro-life groups, wrote that the constitutional reforms protecting life in 18 Mexican states advanced with the overwhelming majority of political parties and strong support by the people. She added that support for the right to life is on the rise, despite efforts by some groups in opposition.
“Lawmakers are seeking to protect the lives of the unborn and the mother at the same time,” she explained, noting that in some states, women who undergo an abortion are sentenced to community service instead of a prison term.
Beauregard called on all organizations in Mexico to safeguard the right to life, underscoring that “we should reflect on the kind of society that we want - one in which life is valued and defended above any circumstance.”
Rome, Italy, Mar 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The comments of three cardinals on the Church's discipline of having celibate priests have been featured widely in the Italian news media in the last 24 hours. Cardinal Walter Kasper, who works at the Vatican, said that tying sexual abuse to celibacy "is a true abuse of the abuses."
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, told Italy's La Stampa newspaper in an interview published Monday that "celibacy has nothing to do with the sexual abuses of the clergy against minors."
He underlined that according to the studies of experts, "the very great majority of cases of abuse occur in families and not in ecclesiastic environments."
He added that to call celibacy into question "is a true abuse of the abuses." It continues to conserve its meaning, so there is no need to "take another look at the state of things," especially not at this point in time in a climate "poisoned by the scandals," Cardinal Kasper said.
Cardinal Kasper's views have been contrasted with those of a second prelate in the news across Europe today. Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, archbishop emeritus of Milan, made a comment in a letter printed in Sunday's edition of the German paper Die Presse. He wrote, "ways out of the crisis after the abuse cases" must be sought out. In his view, the Church needs to "rethink the obligation of celibacy as the lifestyle of the priest."
In the article, Cardinal Martini also writes that only through open discussion of the "questions of sexuality" can the Church "reconquer the trust" of the people, especially of the "young generations."
A third prelate, Cardinal Severino Poletto, Archbishop of Turin, spoke to journalists on the same issue on Monday. The archbishop said that he is against revising the Church norms on celibacy.
Cardinal Poletto echoed remarks that Pope Benedict has used so often: "it is a gift that God wanted to give to the Church."
He added that in dividing his time between his family and his ministry, the priest would "end up being a civil servant and no longer a consecrated priest at the service of the Church 24 hours a day."
Cardinal Poletto also recalled a statement from the Italian neuro-psychiatrist Dr. Vittorino Andreoli who said, "let's stop putting pedophilia in relation with celibacy: it doesn't enter into it."
Valencia, Spain, Mar 29, 2010 (CNA) - Catholic intellectual and writer, Juan Manuel del Prada of Spain, warned last week that the abandonment of values and “unconscious renunciation of principles based on faith,” is leading the Western world, specifically Spain, “to experience of a process of self-destruction.”
In a speech at an educational forum in Valencia, Prada offered an analysis of the situation that the country is facing as a result of the loss of faith.
He recalled that many of humanity’s advances have their origin in religion, which has the “last word” on human rights. For this reason, he said, “The rupture in the faith is also a rupture in the profound sense of human rights, which have ceased to be a recognition of dignity.” Rather, human rights “have become gracious concessions that those in power grant us in order satisfy our whims.”
Prada noted that one of the main reasons for society’s ills is the cult of unrestricted freedom, which “in reality enslaves us more than ever.” “By exalting freedom, we have turned present-day democracy into something sacred and untouchable, even though this system of government, like any other, can end up degenerating into tyranny.”
“Modern tyrannies are infinitely more powerful than those of the past, because instead of repressing and censuring, they freely allow the expression of all points of view, thus people become unaware of their submission,” he said.
Washington D.C., Mar 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In an article published on Monday, noted Catholic scholar George Weigel condemned the recent media treatment of Pope Benedict XVI, particularly by the New York Times, as part of a larger agenda to take “the Church down” and discredit its moral authority. Weigel also praised the Holy Father's “determination to root out” what the Pontiff previously called “filth in the Church.”
Weigel began his First Things article by arguing that the media has recently portrayed the Catholic Church as “the epicenter of the sexual abuse of the young,” when in fact, it is “by empirical measure, the safest environment for young people in America today.”
“According to other recent studies, 2 percent of sex abuse offenders were Catholic priests,” he asserted, “a phenomenon that spiked between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s but seems to have virtually disappeared (six credible cases of clerical sexual abuse in 2009 were reported in the U.S. bishops’ annual audit, in a Church of some 65,000,000 members).”
Weigel argued that the media is not interested in these facts, however, and that the recent deluge concerning Pope Benedict is more “about taking the Church down – and, eventually, out, both financially and as a credible voice in the public debate over public policy.”
“For if the Church is a global criminal conspiracy of sexual abusers and their protectors,” he added, “then the Catholic Church has no claim to a place at the table of public moral argument.”
A prime example of media distortion, according to Weigel, is the coverage of the New York Times, whose reporters and editors have “abandoned any pretense of maintaining journalistic standards.” In the papal biographer's view, an article published on March 25 “demonstrated just how low those determined to bring the Church down were prepared to go.”
In a front page article last week, the New York Times claimed that the Holy Father had prevented sanctions against Father Lawrence Murphy, a Milwaukee priest who abused an estimated 200 deaf children several decades ago. The allegations against the Pope in the March 25 article were “simply not true,” said Weigel, “as the legal papers from the Murphy case the Times provided on its Web site demonstrated.”
The scholar also took issue with the fact that the New York Times used the scandal-ridden former Archbishop of Milwaukee Rembert Weakland and the sex abuse settlement attorney Jeff Anderson as two “implausible” and “disqualified” sources. Weigel then called the the paper's “descent into tabloid sourcing and innuendo” even more “offensive” given Pope Benedict’s “determination to root out what he once described as the 'filth' in the Church.”
Weigel concludes his piece by stating that though the Vatican is improving in responding quickly to media attacks, “it could still do better.” He advised a more thorough explanation on canonical procedures and a time line of how the Archdiocese of Munich dealt with an abusive priest who was under then-Cardinal Ratzinger's jurisdiction.
George Weigel added one other useful change as he closed: “elementary fairness from the global media.”
To view the full article, visit: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/03/scoundrel-times
Managua, Nicaragua, Mar 29, 2010 (CNA) - The bishops of Nicaragua released a message last week reminding Nicaraguans of God's love for all human beings and encouraging them to continue defending life.
“God wished to be born and live among us. The incarnation of the Son of God is the quintessential act of love,” the message began. “Each human being who is born is a continuation of this mystery of love and life that we contemplate in the incarnation of the Son of God,” the bishops said.
They expressed gratitude to Mary, “the Virgin of love,” for her total fidelity to God. Of her was born “the Son of God who is love incarnate; she welcomed life with faith and love, and consecrated herself totally in service to the Lord.”
The message, addressed to all Nicaraguan Catholics, was released on March 25, the Day of the Unborn, and the Solemnity of the Annunciation. The bishops also urged Catholics to participate in Holy Week celebrations in order to deepen their faith and prepare to celebrate Easter with joy.
Vatican City, Mar 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Italy's Il Foglio newspaper noted over the weekend that in the nearly five years of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate, he has been criticized repeatedly, often being accused of turning back time to the period before the Second Vatican Council. The Vatican journalist Paolo Rodari underscores that despite the attacks, the Pope's teachings remain, because "you cannot run away from his words."
Rodari, Il Foglio's Vatican analyst, explains that "words are the first way with which the Pope guides and addresses the Church" even if his detractors maintain that they are "old fashioned when compared to contemporary culture, to the progressivism of the new times."
In his General Audience on March 10, recalls the author, the Pope cited the style of St. Bonaventure, for whom "governing was not simply doing, but was most of all thinking and praying." The Pope provided insight into his own thought when he added "the Church is not governed only through commands and structures, but through the guidance and illumination of souls."
This style, continues the journalist, typifies Benedict XVI's pontificate and is evident in the "illuminated thought" of his recent pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland on bringing about the renewal of the Church in their country.
"Words are the first way with which the Pope guides and addresses the Church, aware that the diffusion of authentic Christian thought is the true 'sword' brought into the world."
The article goes on to illustrate specific criticisms launched at the Pope for his way of thinking.
For example, in Africa when the Pope proposed that AIDS cannot by overcome by the distribution of condoms, many in the media attacked. But, Vatican journalist Benny Lai told Il Foglio, "he had said a just thing: to combat AIDS, the education of man is needed to bring him to consider his own body in a different way."
In his now famous address at Regensburg, the Holy Father spoke of the relationship between religion and civilization, affirming that using violence for conversion is against reason and against God. These words unleashed a media frenzy and the indignation of some within the Muslim world.
And, even then, pointed out Rodari, "the words of the Pope remained. Because you cannot run away from his words."
In Dec. 2005, when he spoke to the Roman Curia for the first time, Benedict XVI challenged those who would like a Church "of the world" and not a Church that is "for" or "close to" the world.
In saying this, notes Rodari, the Pope was agreeing that the Second Vatican Council was not a "break with the past," and that those with a contrasting interpretation only “align themselves with the ‘sympathy of the mass media, and also of a part of modern theology.'”
The publication of Summorum Pontificum, which brought back the Tridentine Rite, and the lifting of the excommunication of the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X have also been met by accusations that he would like to return to the past.
Between the two, the accusation remain the same, observes the author, that the Pope is against modernity and wishes to return to the pre-Conciliar times.
To this, the author offers the words of the Pope himself, who said, the Church cannot remain "frozen in the year 1962," however, "whomever wishes to be obedient to Vatican II, must accept the faith professed in the course of centuries and cannot cut the roots by which the tree lives."
Portland, Maine, Mar 29, 2010 (CNA) - The Diocese of Portland, Maine has cut the funding for a homeless aid group who lied to about their support for same-sex "marriage." Sue Bernard, spokesperson for the diocese, told CNA on Monday that “it's a shame that the funding had to be moved,” given the group's dishonesty.
Officials from both the Diocese of Portland and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) recently told the non-profit homeless agency, Preble Street, that it had violated its grant agreement by supporting Maine's “No on 1” campaign last November which opposed legislation that would overturn the legalization of same-sex “marriage.”
The Portland Press Herald wrote on March 24 that although Mark Swann, the agency's executive director, stated that his organization did not promote or advocate same-sex “marriage” in his funding application, Preble Street was listed as a coalition partner on the “No on 1/Protect Maine Equality” website leading up to the November mid-term elections in 2009.
In December, Catholic Charities Maine, headed by Bishop Richard Malone, sent a letter to Preble Street asking it to return the $2,400 that the diocese had granted for the Homeless Voices for Justice program, which is supported by the aid group. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development likewise asked for a funding return from Preble Street in a Jan. 27 letter. CCHD had awarded a grant of $30,000 to Homeless Voices for Justice, $17,400 of which has already been spent.
Swann called the funding cut “punishing” and “deeply troubling” in a Feb. 12 letter to the CCHD. Echoing his sentiments was Anne Underwood, co-founder of the pro-same-sex “marriage” group Catholics for Marriage Equality, who charged in the Portland Press Herald last week that the diocese and CCHD were employing “petty vindictiveness” and that people “who are homeless should not be used in political games.”
Bernard countered these statements and told CNA on Monday that “We ask that non-profits who apply for the money are honest in the grant-making application. The money that we give to charities through CCHD is collected annually from the Catholic faithful who are made aware that their offerings will support activities that are not contrary to the foundation of our faith.”
Regarding Swann's dishonesty, Bernard stated that the funding application “was quite clear.”
“Regarding marriage and family life it asked: does your organization support, promote or advocate for other forms of relationships such as bisexual or homosexual/lesbian lifestyles or same-sex marriages? Mr. Swann answered, 'no,'” she recalled.
“We are responsible for administering the funds under those conditions,” she added. “Just as individuals give to charities based upon their core values or personal experiences, the Church does the same. Our values are meaningful to us and it would be wrong to ignore them. We are giving the returned money to another worthy charity.”
“It’s a shame that the funding had to be moved to another charity (that charity is pleased however),” said Bernard, “but the responsibility for the loss is Mr. Swann’s, who as the head of a non-profit, decided to take a political stand knowing what the grant stated and therefore, put the funding at risk.”
Moscow, Russia, Mar 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and the Latin Catholic Archbishop of Moscow have reacted to the Moscow Metro bombings with bewilderment and pain. Catholic Mass attendees missed the attacks by “a matter of minutes.”
Several dozen people were killed and more than 100 injured in the attacks, reportedly carried out by two female suicide bombers. Chechen rebels are suspected.
The first attack struck a station near the headquarters of the F.S.B., the security agency which succeeded the Soviet-era K.G.B. According to the New York Times, officials suspect that attack was intended as a message to the security services which helped lead the crackdown on Islamic extremism in Chechnya and other parts of the Caucasus region.
Moscow’s mayor Yuri M. Luzhkov said the attacks came when there would be “the maximum number of victims.”
Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow told SIR News that the bombs went off when Mass was being celebrated in two churches near the bombed areas. The archdiocese had feared the faithful were among the victims.
“Luckily though, we found everyone was there, it was a matter of minutes.”
Archbishop Pezzi said any further comments on the attack would be “uncalled for.”
He said “bewilderment” is strong because the attacks hit “innocent, simple people.”
The archbishop said the Catholic churches of Moscow and St. Petersburg will pray for the victims and for the good of the city and its residents, especially at the upcoming Chrism Mass.
Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia issued a statement saying his heart “pains” over the terrorist acts.
“I am praying for the rest of the victims’ souls, for consolation of their near and dear, and for the soonest recovery of the wounded. I beseech the Lord to help the rescuers, medical workers, and all who are trying to alleviate the consequences. I have instructed clergymen to visit the injured persons in hospitals.”
The attack is not the first in Russia in recent months, he noted.
“We see clearly that peril is lying in wait for all of us at any minute,” Patriarch Kirill continued. “However, we should not respond to it by fear, panic, or animosity. Let our response be the unity of our people, their strong will to stop the terrorists and those who support, finance, or justify them. God’s retribution will come to them. I believe that human justice will not be a long time coming, too.”