Archive of April 20, 2010

USCCB spokeswoman refuses to answer 'pie in the sky' charge from Stupak

Washington D.C., Apr 20, 2010 (CNA) - After speaking with Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) on March 26, CNA sought a reaction from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) about the representative's claim that the Conference was being unrealistic about some of its expectations for the health care bill. However, the USCCB refused to provide comment or allow any staff members to comment on three separate occasions.

In an interview with Rep. Stupak on March 26, CNA asked whether he thought the bishops’ actions in the health care debate helped secure the executive order issued by President Obama barring the use of federal funds for abortions.

“No, because they wouldn’t support it,” Stupak replied.

The fate of the Stupak Amendment was “decided in December,” he added.

For the bishops or any others to seek statutory language within the health care bill and not agree to an executive order, was “pie in the sky,” the Michigan representative stated.

Speaking to the U.S. Bishops about how he needed 60 pro-life votes in the Senate, but only had 45, Rep. Stupak said, “Find me 15 more votes. I’ll be happy to run the language, I’ll personally walk it over to the Senate. But you need 15 more votes, realistically. There comes a point in time you’ve got to be honest and say ‘here’s what we can and can’t do.'”

In response to Rep. Stupak's statements, on March 26 CNA contacted Richard Doerflinger, an associate director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities. Contrary to previous practice, Doerflinger explained that he could not give comments unless the media relations office first gave its approval.

On March 30, CNA contacted Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, director of the media relations office, who replied that the USCCB was not able to provide any commentary “during Holy Week.”

CNA asked Sr. Walsh if she could be re-contacted after Holy Week for someone to provide commentary. The spokeswoman said “yes.”

On April 15, CNA contacted the media relations director again to inquire if someone could now provide commentary on Rep. Stupak's remarks. Sr. Walsh refused to give commentary or provide access to any other USCCB staff member about the matter, saying, "I think we'll pass."

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Connecticut Post criticism of Catholic Church 'way off-key,' charges chancellor

Hartford, Conn., Apr 20, 2010 (CNA) - The Chancellor for the Diocese of Bridgeport charged that the paper was “way off-key” in a recent editorial criticizing the Catholic Church's opposition to H.B. 5473, a bill which would eliminate the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a minor.

On April 12, the Connecticut Post ran an editorial titled, “Wrong response to abuse bill” which stated that “it is inconceivable that Catholic officials would take a public stand on an issue involving child sex abuse that is not foresquare behind the rights of victims.”

The editorial further criticized the Connecticut bishops, saying their argument against the bill “is incorrect in its particulars” and also “shockingly tone-deaf.”

In a letter, Archbishop Henry Mansell of the Archdiocese of Hartford made a plea to parishioners in the state to fight the bill. The archbishop, along with other bishops in Connecticut, claimed that the legislation unfairly targets the Church since it excludes public institutions from lawsuits because they are protected under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, reported Jack Sheedy from the local diocesan paper, the Catholic Transcript. Currently, the statute of limitations in Connecticut is 30 years once the alleged victim is 18 years old.

“The problem here is the sense that, once again, the importance of the church is taking precedence over the rights of victims,” charged the Connecticut Post editorial. “The bishops' letter says the bill in question 'would undermine the mission of the Catholic Church in Connecticut.' This is alarmist and incorrect.”

Last Friday, the Chancellor for the Diocese of Bridgeport, Nancy B. Matthews, defended the Church, calling the editorial  “way off-key on the facts of the legislation and in its pronouncements regarding the impact of Raised Bill 5473 on the mission of the Catholic Church in Connecticut.”

The first problem with the bill, said Matthews, is that “civil claims could be brought from well over a half a century ago” despite the fact that the “current statute of limitation for civil abuse claims in Connecticut is already the longest, continuous and retroactively applied statute in the United States.”

“Even more dissonant,” she added, “is the Post's taking the Catholic bishops to task for not singing the tune of plaintiffs' attorneys and others who would use events in Ireland and Germany to create sympathy in order to pass bad law in Connecticut.”

“And this, in spite of all the Church has done in Connecticut to reach out to victims, to root out abuse and to create safe environments for young people.”

Matthews further claimed that the “expert panel” testifying in favor of the new legislation at the Judiciary Committee hearing was comprised of plaintiff's attorneys, some of whom have lawsuits pending against the Catholic Diocese in Connecticut.

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Christian student group in Supreme Court to overturn exclusion by California university

Washington D.C., Apr 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Christian student organization is seeking to overturn a court ruling that sided with a California university which denied recognition to the group because of its statement of faith.

The Christian Legal Society (CLS) was denied recognition by the University of California's Hastings College of Law because of the group's statement of faith, which prevents anyone who is “unrepentantly” engaging “in sexual conduct outside of marriage between a man and a woman” from being a group leader or member.

UC Hastings charged that this provision violates the school's ban on “sexual orientation” discrimination despite the fact that CLS's statement of faith is based on the conduct of members of any sexual orientation and not on one's “immutable status.”

In September of 2004, CLS asked UC Hastings if the group could be exempt from the religion and sexual orientation sections of the university's nondiscrimination policy. Adhering to those sections of the policy, claimed CLS chapter members, would force the group to admit members and elect leaders who held beliefs and engaged in conduct contrary to the mission and purpose of the group.

Sam Casey, General Counsel for Advocates International (AI), a Christian organization that helps represent law students globally, told EWTN News that contrary to some media reports, CLS did not claim in their statement of faith that homosexuals were not allowed membership.

Casey explained that the issue was in practicing chastity and not engaging in sexual activity unless it took place within a marriage between a man and a woman. According to Casey, the university claimed that CLS was violating sexual orientation discrimination policies because it defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

The school refused CLS's request for exemption and subsequently stripped the chapter of recognition, including funding for student activity fees. In October of 2004, CLS filed a lawsuit against university officials.

In 2006, a district court ruled in favor of the university, which prompted CLS to appeal the decision. In March of 2009, a panel in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reiterated that UC Hastings College of Law acted in accordance with the constitution in denying recognition to CLS.

In May of 2009, CLS filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a reversal of the Ninth Circuit's decision.

“Ninth Circuit's decision should deeply alarm all who care about the rights of those holding minority viewpoints on America's campuses, as it will make nearly every campus group vulnerable to takeover and dissolution by its enemies if it is adopted by the Supreme Court,” said Sam Ericsson, president of Advocates International on Sunday.

Ericsson, along with AI's, Sam Casey, said on Sunday that “if student organizations cannot require that their leaders and voting members actually share the group's viewpoints, freedom of association on college campuses will be stripped of all meaning.”

“If we are to have meaningful freedom of association on college campuses, individual students must have the right to form groups around shared beliefs – and the state must not be able to dictate what those groups' beliefs should be.”

Oral arguments before the Supreme Court commenced on Monday, April 19. The case will be closely watched because it involves religion, education and homosexuality.

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Poll of Ireland shows overwhelming support for continued abortion ban

Dublin, Ireland, Apr 20, 2010 (CNA) - A survey of the Republic of Ireland shows that 70 percent of Irish people support the constitutional protection for the unborn, including the prohibition of abortion. One pro-life leader said the “hugely reassuring” results show “overwhelming public support” for unborn children and their mothers.

The survey, commissioned by the Pro-Life Campaign, asked respondents if they favor or oppose “constitutional protection for the unborn that prohibits abortion but allows the continuation of the existing practice of intervention to save a mother’s life in accordance with Irish medical ethics.”

Seventy percent supported the constitutional protections while only 13 percent opposed it. Another 16 percent of respondents did not know or had no opinion.

The Pro-Life Campaign’s Dr. Berry Kiely announced the results last week at a press conference at Buswells Hotel in Dublin.

She said the poll is distinguished from other polls showing support from abortion by its distinction between necessary medical interventions in pregnancy and induced abortion “where the life of the unborn child is directly targeted.”

“This is a critical ethical distinction which abortion advocates constantly seek to blur,” she charged.

“Some abortion advocates claim that legalized abortion ‘confronts the reality of crisis pregnancy.’ However, this contention ignores the humanity of the unborn child throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy and the latest research highlighting the negative consequences of abortion for women.”

“If we are to have a genuinely honest debate on abortion we cannot arbitrarily airbrush the unborn child out of the debate or the many testimonies of women who regret their abortions.”

“All human beings share a common dignity by virtue of their humanity. To deny the right to life simply because the unborn child is at an early stage of development completely undermines an authentic vision of human rights,” Kiely commented.

She also said Ireland should be “immensely proud” that it is currently listed as the safest country in the world for pregnant women by the latest U.N. survey on maternal health.

The survey was conducted by Millward Brown Lansdowne and used a quota-controlled sample of 950 people over the age of 18. It was conducted between Jan. 27 and Feb. 6.

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Virginia bishops: Budget amendment offers chance to end state-funded abortions

Richmond, Va., Apr 20, 2010 (CNA) - The Virginia Catholic Conference (VCC) has urged the passage of a proposed budget amendment to restrict state funding of abortions, saying it is an “unprecedented opportunity” to eliminate the vast majority of state-funded abortions.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed the amendment, which will be considered by the Virginia General Assembly on Wednesday.

A press release from the VCC said that Virginia has funded abortions “for reasons that go well beyond even what federal and state statutes require.”

The Catholic bishops of Virginia “strongly support” the amendment, urging Catholics to ask their legislators to vote in favor of the amendment and to alert other Virginians to the need to pass it. Its website provides a form for Virginians to contact their legislators.

The VCC said “countless lives” can be saved, possibly more than 100 per year.

“In prayer and in public, your voices are urgently needed to bring Gospel values to bear on decisions that literally determine life and death!” the Conference said.

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Bishop Wenski named to lead Catholic Archdiocese of Miami

Miami, Fla., Apr 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Tuesday, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando as Archbishop of Miami. Archbishop-designate Wenski is succeeding Archbishop John C. Favalora, whose retirement resignation was recently accepted by Pope Benedict.

“Humbled by the Holy Father’s confidence in me and aware of my own limitations and shortcomings, I once again ask the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, that I may worthily fulfill my new duties as the fourth Archbishop of Miami upon my installation on June 1, 2010,” said Bishop Wenski in a statement Tuesday. 

Bishop Wenski was born in West Palm Beach in 1950 and grew up in Lake Worth, Florida where he attended Catholic school. After studying at St. John Vianney Minor Seminary in Miami and St. Vincent de Paul Major Seminary in Boynton Beach, he was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Miami in 1976.

In 1996, after being appointed director of Catholic Charities, Bishop Wenski lead an effort to provide over 150,000 pounds of food to Caritas Cuba for Hurricane Lily relief efforts.

In 1997, he was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Miami and in 2003, the John Paul II appointed him as coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Orlando.

Bishop Wenski will succeed Archbishop John Favalora, who said on Tuesday that after being “blessed” to serve in his position for almost 16 years, he welcomes the new archbishop with “resounding joy.”

“His many pastoral gifts suit him exceptionally well to be our Chief Shepherd,” Archbishop Favalora said of Bishop Wenski.  “His extensive understanding of and experience with Central and South America and the Caribbean Island nations will enhance the international relationships we already enjoy.”

“His linguistic skills enable him to communicate well with our neighboring nations and Churches,” Archbishop Favalora added. Archbishop-designate Wenski is fluent in English, Spanish and Creole.

Bishop Wenski will be installed in Miami on June 1, 2010.

“As I prepare to become your Archbishop,” said Bishop Wenski, “I ask all of you, auxiliary bishops, priests, deacons, religious and members of Christ’s faithful, for your prayers and for your support.”

“I ask the same from the other faith communities of South Florida and I look forward to collaborating with them and with our civic and political leaders to promote the common good and the dignity of the human person made in the 'image and likeness of God.'”

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Central Illinois diocese receives new bishop from Chicago

Springfield, Ill., Apr 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - This morning Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, announced the appointment of Chicago’s Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki as the new bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois.

A 10 a.m. press conference at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield will introduce Bishop Paprocki to his new flock. “I look forward to working with the priests, deacons, men and women religious, the lay Christian faithful and all people of good will here in our State Capital to carry out the mission entrusted to us by Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel,” Bishop Paprocki said in a statement this morning.

The Diocese of Springfield has been without a bishop for 10 months, since Bishop George Lucas was appointed Archbishop of Omaha last June. “On behalf of the priests, deacons, seminarians, consecrated religious and lay men and women in all our parishes and institutions, I joyfully welcome Bishop Thomas Paprocki as the ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois,” said Msgr. Carl Kemme, who has served as the diocesan administrator in the absence of a bishop.

“We are grateful to God, to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and to Francis Cardinal George for choosing such a gifted and dedicated priest and bishop to serve us. We are most grateful to Bishop Paprocki for accepting this appointment,” added Msgr. Kemme. “Together, we pledge our prayers, support and loving cooperation to him in the ongoing work of proclaiming the Gospel.”

Bishop Paprocki, aware that Abraham Lincoln was a native of Springfield, quoted from the famous president. “We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducting more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings.”

“It is indeed a ‘fundamental blessing’ which I am profoundly privileged to inherit as the new shepherd of the flock that comprises the Catholic community of central Illinois,” the newly appointed bishop said.

The Diocese of Springfield itself covers 28 counties, and comprises approximately 146,000 Catholics in 131 parishes. There are 157 priests in the diocese, 23 permanent deacons and 661 religious.

Bishop Paprocki is both a canon lawyer and a civil lawyer. He has studied law at DePaul University College of Law and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He has served as chancellor of the Archdiocese of Chicago from 1992-2000, and has since served as a pastor, an adjunct professor of law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, the Episcopal Vicar of Vicariate IV, and the president of the Chicago Legal Clinic, a non-profit dedicated to providing legal services to the poor. He enjoys reading, playing hockey, and has run 16 marathons.

“The Archdiocese of Chicago will no longer directly enjoy the many gifts that Bishop Paprocki brings to his Episcopal ministry, but we rejoice with the Diocese of Springfield on their receiving their new bishop,” said Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George. “My prayer is that the Lord and his Blessed Mother, under the title of her Immaculate Conception, will bless Bishop Paprocki and the Church of Springfield as he takes up his new Episcopal duties.”

Bishop Paprocki will be installed as Bishop of Springfield on June 22 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

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Pregnant 11-year-old will not undergo abortion, states pro-life leader

Chetumal, Mexico, Apr 20, 2010 (CNA) - Various media outlets in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo reported this week that an 11-year-old who is almost 18 weeks pregnant is no longer in the hands of feminist groups who were pressuring her to undergo an abortion. The girl is now receiving proper medical care for herself and her baby.

The local press also noted that several private and state institutions have offered assistance to the girl and her mother, Zeyda Morales. However, feminist groups continue demanding she be granted the “right to abortion,” which they consider to be the only valid option.

The director of the Latin American office of the Population Research Institute (PRI), Carlos Polo, warned that “in these kinds of cases, pro-abortion organizations always use the same modus operandi (method of operating).”

“First they find a girl who has been raped and they keep her hidden and inaccessible to any kind of assistance. Second, they expose the case to the media without revealing any details of her clinical history.”

He continued: “Third, they center their media message on the idea that the legalization of so-called ‘therapeutic abortion’ is the solution for saving the lives of women. Fourth, they present themselves as the saviors of the life of the mother, and anyone who opposes their pro-abortion demands are quasi-criminals.”

Polo later explained that the PRI regularly researches these kinds of “fabricated cases.” He noted that “In New York, Monica Roca, Lilian Sepulveda and other representatives of the Center for Reproductive Rights have exposed their strategy of ‘developing reproductive rights in Latin America’.”

He added that he is “glad there is a greater awareness each day” of their methods.

Polo linked the case in Mexico to a similar one in Recife, Brazil. “Recently the media in Brazil tried to surprise Archbishop Fernando Saburido of Recife. In that case, the rape of a girl unfortunately ended in abortion and the media distorted the statements by the archbishop in order to give the impression that he approved of abortion in extreme cases. Today in Quintana Roo, action was taken before it was too late and the case fell apart for abortion supporters,” he explained.

The population expert then warned that families must “be alert and watch out for their daughters. The true solution to these cases is to prevent situations of promiscuity in which these girls end up pregnant.”

“In abortion there are certainly two extremes, one in favor and one against. And it is clear which side cares truly and comprehensively for the people. Those who seek out these cases in order to use them for their pro-abortion political agenda are true vultures,” Polo added.

Patricia Lopez Mancera, director of the Center for Women’s Studies and Comprehensive Formation in Cancun, said the girl’s mother has accused lawyers of attempting to psychologically and economically pressure her daughter to have the abortion. Mancera also said she has been in contact with the family and that the girl has gone to the city of Merida to undergo tests and have an ultrasound.

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Bishops of Spain support Pope Benedict amidst media attacks

Madrid, Spain, Apr 20, 2010 (CNA) - In his inaugural address for the 95th plenary assembly of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, reiterated the Spanish bishops’ support for Pope Benedict XVI as the media continues their campaign against him.

During his remarks on the fifth anniversary of the Holy Father’s pontificate, Cardinal Rouco Varela said, “We give thanks to God who has called to the Chair of Peter a man committed to serving the Church in such a clairvoyant and generous way.”

He went on to express the sorrow of the Spanish bishops for “the grave sins and crimes committed by some brothers in the priesthood and by some religious who have abused minors, betraying the trust given to them by the Church and society.” He added that some of the laity have also committed these crimes and they, like the priests and religious will “certainly give an account for their acts before God and before human justice.”

The bishops of Spain, he continued, “will carefully employ more appropriate means for preventing and correcting cases of this kind, such that nobody may ever think that priestly service or consecrated life is compatible with the commission of such crimes.”

“At the same time,” Cardinal Rouco continued, “the Spanish bishops are with Benedict XVI. The vast majority of the faithful are also with him. There has been an attempt to smear him in order to make people believe that abuse is frequent among priests and religious, and that the bishops or the Pope have not acted properly. One child who has been abused is already one too many. It must not happen. The failure to take proper disciplinary measures or to give the deserved attention to those who have suffered such outrages must not occur.”

Cardinal Rouco also mentioned Pope Benedict XVI’s planned visit to Spain in November, when he will visit Santiago de Compostela for the Jubilee Year and will dedicate the Church of the Holy Family.

This consecration, the cardinal said, “evokes in us the need to continue preaching the natural and Christian understanding of marriage and the family as the foundation for a just society.” He noted that it is “the place from which life must come forth and which allows a person to forge his personal identity in conformity with his dignity and the corresponding psychological and educational requirements.

“The State and the Church should recognize the priority of the family and place themselves at its service, without eliminating or supplanting it.”

Cardinal Rouco also announced that a special Mass will be celebrated on April 21 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate. “We invite all of the faithful to join in this thanksgiving for Pope Benedict XVI and to pray for his intentions,” he concluded.

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Thousands attend beatification of Spanish priest

Valladolid, Spain, Apr 20, 2010 (CNA) - Thousands of Catholics from around the world attended the beatification ceremony for Fr. Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos, which was held in Valladolid, Spain on Monday.

The Mass, which began at 10:30 a.m. in the Valladolid Cathedral, was celebrated by Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, the Archbishop of Madrid. Also present were the Archbishop Braulio Rodríguez of Toledo and Archbishop Ricardo Blázquez of Valladolid.

Archbishop Blázquez began the ceremony with a brief biography of Fr. Hoyos in which he described the influence of the Jesuit novices on the young blessed. It was an influence that eventually led him to join the Society of Jesus.

Bernardo de Hoyos was born on August 20, 1711 in Valladolid, Spain. When he was 14 years old, he was admitted to the Jesuit novitiate. He was ordained a priest nine years later.
When he was introduced the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, he immediately desired to share it with the world. He asked his spiritual director to help him write a booklet called, “The Hidden Treasure of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” Bernardo was put in charge of obtaining the necessary funding for the publication of the booklets so he sent samples to the royal household and members of the clergy. Within a few years, the book was on its eighth publication, and many bishops granted indulgences to those who read it.

Only one year after his ordination, Fr. Bernardo contracted Typhus. He died in 1735 at the age of 24.

He was declared venerable by Pope John Paul II on January 12, 1996.

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Benedict XVI confronting 'self-destruction' of society, says French historian

Rome, Italy, Apr 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In an article published yesterday by L’Osservatore Romano, historian and member of the Institute of France, Alain Besançon, offered an analysis of the first five years of Benedict XVI’s pontificate. He noted that the media campaign against the Holy Father and the Church reveals a hatred for Christianity, and that the Pope is confronting the “self-destruction” of society, nature and reason.

“Benedict XVI has fought untiringly for clarity and accuracy.  For him there is nothing more dangerous than the relativism that is fused with modern democratic society: any organized group can legitimize an opinion merely because it is their opinion without the need to support it with reason,” Besançon said. 

After praising the Holy Father for “restoring intelligence to the heart of the Church,” the French historian referred to two “accidents of this pontificate.”  The first was the Pope’s discourse at Regensburg, Germany: “It was very scholarly, moderate, benevolent, but it caused very violent reactions.”

“The disproportionate reaction,” he explained, “revealed above all the dramatic ignorance of the clergy and the faithful about the message of Islam, and undoubtedly about their own (faith), because you can understand one without the other.  Thus there is an absolute need for re-directing Christian knowledge.”

The second “accident,” Besançon said, has to do with the media attacks on the Pope and the Church, which aim to portray the Holy Father as covering up the abuse committed by some members of the clergy, when that has never been the case.

The French historian also made two observations, one about societal history and the other about the Church's understanding of the relationship between sins and crimes.

In the last 50 years, he explained, the definition of sexual crimes has undergone a transformation, with many consensual acts that beforehand were punished severely now often being considered a right. All of the outrage over the sexual crimes of the past is now concentrated completely on the act of pedophilia, Besançon suggested.

Second, he said, is the fact that the Church sees a distinction in how it treats sins and crimes.  “The Church does not forgive crime, it leaves to the judge the task of punishing it, but the assessment of sin falls to her and is under her jurisdiction. She has the keys to bind or to loose it.” 

Besançon went on to say that the Church holds that man is a sinner and that reality is present in all of her prayers. 

“There exists thus a strange prejudice that causes us to be surprised by the fact that some men, merely because they have embraced the clerical state, are not different or necessarily better than anyone else.  Up to now no one has found out how to make men into something other than what they are: proud, greedy, lustful, angry, sinners always. They do not cease to be such just because they undergo a psychological or medical exam beforehand,” he said.

However, he argued, this does not “prevent the media campaign from dragging with it things that will never be accepted: marriage for priests, the ordination of married men, and other such things.”

These things “reveal hatred for the Christian name or a loss of authority and trust in the Catholic Church,” Besançon said.  “In any case, the Pope must bear the brunt of this confusion.  After five years, to me his pontificate is sorrowful.”

“John Paul II fought against a monstrous political regime: Communism, but he had society and all of humanity on his side.  Benedict XVI has the whole of modern society, born out of the crisis of the 60s, with its new morality and new religiosity, against him.”

Pope Benedict “finds himself in a situation similar to that of Paul VI after Vatican II, in confronting what he called ‘the self-destruction’ of the Church.  This time the self-destruction is of all of society, nature and reason.  The glory of his pontificate is not visible: it is that of martyrdom.”

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Vatican releases details of Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to Turin

Vatican City, Apr 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict will visit the city of Turin, Italy early next month to venerate the Shroud at its first exposition to the public since 2000.  This morning, the Vatican issued the Holy Father's itinerary which includes Mass, visits with the sick and the youth as well as time for veneration of the burial cloth.

The Pope is one of 1.5 million people who are expected to visit the ancient relic, which is on display to the public between April 10 and May 23.

On May 2, the Holy Father will depart from Rome by plane, arriving at the Turin airport around 9:15 a.m.  He will then greet the local faithful, concelebrate Mass and pray the Regina Coeli at Piazza San Carlo.

That afternoon, the Pontiff will have lunch with the local bishops before returning to Piazza San Carlo at 4:30 p.m. to meet with young people.  Then, at 5:30 p.m., he will venerate the Shroud at the Cathedral of St. John.

Following his visit to the famous Shroud, the Pope will visit the Church of the Little House of Divine Providence – Cottolengo, where he will meet with the sick.

Pope Benedict will depart from Turin at 7:30 p.m. and return to the Vatican.

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Young women honored with pro-life award share their stories

Washington D.C., Apr 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - At its annual gala, the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List recently honored several young women for their advancement of the pro-life cause. CNA interviewed two of the young women, Jill Sanders and Laura Peters, who candidly discussed how they were drawn to work in the pro-life movement. The two also detailed the negative effects of abortion and urged young women not to be “deceived” by organizations such as Planned Parenthood.

On March 24, the Susan B. Anthony List held their third annual Campaign for Life gala in Washington D.C., honoring five young women with the Susan B. Anthony Young Leader Award.

Jill Sanders, 28, is the producer of EWTN's youth program, “Life on the Rock”. Her job description includes coordinating guests on the show to discuss matters of faith, and often the pro-life cause. She has also produced segments on the annual March for Life for the “Life on the Rock” program.

Sanders said that although she was raised in a pro-life home, “I didn’t really own my pro-life views until I was a freshman in college at a state university.”

“My 18-year-old roommate got pregnant during our first semester away at school,” she explained. “Despite years of proclaiming that I was pro-life, this was the first time I was faced with a real situation where a dear friend had to make a choice.”

“She decided to have an abortion, and I supported her,” Sanders recalled. “I put myself in her shoes and knew that I wouldn’t be able to raise a baby, when I was barely old enough to vote! How would she finish school, get a job, or ever find a man that would love her and her child?”

After she went home for Christmas break, Sanders remembers feeling “overwhelmingly guilty” for advising her friend to have abortion.

“I imagined the void in my life, had my brother’s biological parents chosen abortion,” she said. “I spent a month doing research about the effects of abortion on the woman, the abortion procedure itself, fetal development, and what the Catholic Church taught about life issues.”

After emailing her friend “almost daily” on the information she discovered, Sanders prayed fervently that she would change her mind.

“She did,” Sanders recalled. “And now her son is 10 years old and the greatest joy of her life. All of the obstacles that a scared pregnant 18-year-old thought she’d never overcome, she has, with flying colors.”

“She finished school. She got a great job. She got married to a wonderful man. And lives a full and happy life.”

On what influenced her decision to begin work in advancing the pro-life cause, Sanders explained that seeing “my friend’s difficult decision to choose life for her son catapulted me to become more actively pro-life and more actively Catholic. I started attending daily Mass and praying every day for an end to abortion. I prayed that scared pregnant women would have the same strength and courage that my friend had.”

Laura Peters, also a recipient of the SBA List Young Leader award, told CNA that up until a year ago, she had been “plagued with a sense of restlessness” before her involvement with the pro-life movement.

Although the 23-year-old says she “yearned to give my life to something greater,” Peters recalled spending “several years switching from one plan to another as I attempted to discern my vocation.”

At 21, Peters became engaged to the man of her “dreams.”

“Not wanting to let him slip away, I became determined to suppress the nagging voice in the back of my mind that kept telling me there was 'something else I was supposed to do first' before assuming the responsibilities of marriage and parenthood,” Peters recounted. “I even stopped praying for guidance out of fear that the answer was one I didn’t want to hear.”

Peters said she felt a distinct call become involved with the pro-life movement when she attended a Students for Life of America conference in January 2009. Following her time at the conference, it “gradually became apparent over the next six weeks that none of my future plans were going to be compatible with following my conscience.”

“Despite my best efforts to avoid having to make any sacrifices, in the end it all came down to a fork in the road, two very distinct paths, and a choice that was nothing short of excruciating,” Peters added.

“Considering that I had absolutely no game plan whatsoever at that point, it was beyond question the most terrifying leap of faith I’ve ever made. As it turned out in the end, however, my journey over the past year has strengthened my faith tremendously – God has showered me with blessings beyond my wildest expectations.”

Peters serves as president of the statewide pro-life organization Alabama Students for Life. In April 2009, she coordinated the first Alabama Students for Life Statewide Conference, which drew student participants from across the state and included several different pro-life organizations.

“I just accepted a job offer from Priests for Life in NYC, where I will be working with their lay outreach ministry known as The Missionaries of the Gospel of Life,” Peters said. “My dream is to specialize in inter-organizational cooperation and promote an increased level of collaboration within the movement.”

Speaking on the negative effects of abortion, Sanders and Peters shared their perspectives with CNA.

“It is a woman’s natural urge to be protective of her children,” Sanders asserted. “If a woman is pregnant and the child is wanted, then it is a baby in her womb. If a woman is pregnant and the baby is unwanted, then it’s just a blob of tissue. I think most women instinctively know how wrong this flawed line of thought is. I think most women know that abortion ends the life of their child.”

In addition to many physical problems that abortion can cause, it can also “result in severe emotional consequences,” Sanders said.

“Post abortive women have an increase in drug and alcohol use and an increase in suicidal thoughts,” Sanders noted. “But Planned Parenthood says 'this is not true.' Who are we to believe? These women who are sharing their personal experiences? Or an organization that is making many-millions of dollars every year from scared pregnant women?”

Peters echoed Sanders, saying that “I would urge young women not to be deceived by the rhetoric used by Planned Parenthood, but instead to seek the truth for themselves. They should remember that empty promises, lies & half-truths are the Enemy's favorite tools of deception.”

“Abortion is oftentimes such a hidden evil in society that my goal is simply to do anything I can to spread the truth.”

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