Archive of April 23, 2010

Laws protecting unborn in Mexico are not religiously motivated, state pro-life leaders

Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 23, 2010 (CNA) - Pro-life leaders in Mexico City explained during a press conference this week that the constitutional changes protecting life against abortion in 18 Mexican states do not have roots in religious or partisan doctrine.

During the press conference, the president of Red Pro Yucatan, Ivette Laviada Arce, asserted that the defense of human life was supported by a majority vote among lawmakers of all political parties and by the majority of voters in the 18 states.  This important reform, she said, is intended to protect women, especially those who are pregnant, “such that their rights are not only saved but also so that conditions are created enabling the state to give them greater care and protection.”

The constitutional changes also permit the defense of the fundamental right to life of unborn boys and girls in Mexico.

According to Notimex, Arce added that despite this protection, various states still allow for exceptions such as in cases of rape or to save the life of the mother.

The 18 Mexican states that have enshrined the legal protection of the unborn are: Chiapas, Veracruz, Querétaro, Baja California, Chihuahua, Campeche, Colima, Puebla, Durango, Jalisco, Nayarit, Quintana Roo, Guanajuato, Yucatán

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Researcher finds strong link between contraception and HIV

Front Royal, Va., Apr 23, 2010 (CNA) - A researcher reported earlier this week that there is a strong scientific link between hormonal contraceptives and a woman's risk of contracting AIDS/HIV.

Joan Robinson, a researcher at the Population Research Institution, said that although over 50 medical studies to date show the link between the two, the scientific consensus has received little to no media coverage due to the economic and ideological force behind contraception.

“The science is settled,” Robinson says. “Hormonal contraceptives – the oral pill and Depo-Provera – increase almost all known risk factors for HIV, from upping a woman's risk of infection, to increasing the replication of the HIV virus, to speeding the debilitating and deadly progression of the disease,” reports Robinson in her article, titled “The Pill's Deadly affair with HIV/AIDS.”

Robinson explained on the PRI website Tuesday that hormonal contraceptives boost the number of specific cells in women which HIV uses to infect and proliferate in the body. According to the researcher, hormonal contraceptives also create an “ideal” site for HIV infection on the surface of a woman's uterus, eliminate the natural pH acid protection against infection and cause the fragile cervical tissue to grow beyond its natural bounds and replace what would normally be thick, protective membrane. Additionally, said Robinson, hormonal contraception can cause vaginal dryness which makes the environment susceptible to tears and abrasions, creating fertile sites for infection.

“The ‘family planning’ types dismiss out of hand the impressive body of scientific research demonstrating a Pill/HIV link,” Robinson continued, “preferring to rely on a handful of their own highly questionable trials which claim to find ‘no increase in HIV risk among users of oral contraceptives and Depo-Provera.’”

“This is like relying on a tobacco company to monitor a study on the link between cigarettes and cancer,” she charged. 

Robinson also wrote that despite the risks involved, many U.S-funded organizations promote these drugs to women in developing countries, even though they increase the odds of these women contracting HIV/AIDS.

“Population control groups continue to lobby for more hormonal contraception, not less,” she noted. “How many lives are being lost because we continue to ship boatloads of hormonal contraceptives to a continent and to countries laboring under an HIV/AIDS pandemic? Isn't it time that we stopped?”

Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, echoed Robinson and said on Wednesday that “Groups like USAID and the U.N. Population Fund must recognize the danger of recklessly pushing hormonal contraception on populations suffering from the scourge of AIDS.”

“How many Africa woman have died because their 'free' birth control pills cost them their lives?”

More information can be found at:

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Priest on leave following alleged confession violation

Milwaukee, Wis., Apr 23, 2010 (CNA) - A Catholic priest in Wisconsin was placed on administrative leave while the Archdiocese of Milwaukee investigates a claim that he violated the seal of confession.

The Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported on Tuesday that Fr. David Verhasselt was removed from his pastoral duties at St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in the town Oconomowoc, Wisconsin by Archbishop Jerome Listecki on Monday. The archdiocese's tribunal is currently conducting a preliminary investigation.

CNA contacted the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for more information on the details of the case and received a general statement from Archbishop Listecki.

“Every priest has a most serious obligation to maintain absolute confidentiality regarding what is confessed to him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” wrote the archbishop on April 14. “A sacred trust is established between a priest and a penitent and the integrity of the Sacrament relies upon this trust.”

“This 'seal of confession' is so absolute that any allegation about its violation is taken very seriously and a complete investigation is required by Church law,” he added.  

“During this investigation we support and care for Father Verhasselt, while making sure the teaching and laws of the Church are respected and obeyed. Most importantly, we want to extend our pastoral care to the people of St. Catherine’s Parish during this difficult time,” Archbishop Listecki's statement concluded.

Deacon David Zimprich of St. Catherine’s, who is filling in as much as possible until an interim priest is appointed, said on Tuesday that parishioners are distressed.

“He's their shepherd, they love him,” Deacon Zimprich told the Journal Sentinel. “All we can tell people to do is to keep him in their prayers, and that maybe it didn't happen. Maybe it was just a misunderstanding.”

Fr. Verhasselt, 62, was ordained a priest in 1989 and was named pastor at St. Catherine’s in 2000.

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Archbishop of Ottawa: Sex ed standards can’t trump Catholic educational freedom

Ottawa, Canada, Apr 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholic leaders have spoken out in a dispute in Ottawa over whether an explicit sex education curriculum for the Province of Ontario is required of Catholic and public schools. Defending the rights of Catholic schools to teach their faith, the local archbishop has called for the restoration of “moral character” to the education system.

Premier Dalton McGuinty has claimed that the program applied to “all students in publicly funded schools, including Catholic schools,” the Ottawa Citizen says.

The sex education curriculum has come under criticism for its subject matter. It schedules lessons on body parts in Grade 1, discusses homosexuality in Grade 3, and explicitly mentions “vaginal and anal intercourse” in Grade 7.

Under the curriculum, seventh-grade teachers note that those who do not have sexual relations do not need to worry about getting a sexually transmitted infection. They also coach students to seek health advice and to acquire condoms.

The curriculum also teaches that homosexuality and transgenderism are normal and that masturbation is “one way of learning about your body.”

Jan Bentham, co-coordinator of religious and family life education for the Ottawa Catholic School Board, said McGuinty “seems to be misinformed.”

"The ministry consulted with ICE (the Institute for Catholic Education) and they were very aware there would be some content we would not be delivering in Catholic schools."

The Catholic curriculum will not have the third-grade discussion on homosexuality. The topic will not be raised until Grade 8 when it will be covered “from a faith perspective,” Bentham said according to the Ottawa Citizen.

The Catholic version of the curriculum will be released by the ICE in early fall, Bentham reported. It will have been vetted and approved by the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario.

However, McGuinty and Education Minister Leona Dombrowski did not indicate Catholic boards would be allowed their own version of the document.

Dombrowsky said the Ontario curriculum is “the curriculum for all schools and all students.”

A former Catholic school board trustee, she said the ministry had worked with the Catholic Church on the document. In her understanding, “they do support the document we have presented.”

Jane Almeida, a spokeswoman for Premier McGuinty, said that Catholic boards will receive a supplemental guide to help them teach the curriculum “in a way that respects their faith.”

"The curriculum will not change or be expunged," she told the Ottawa Citizen in an e-mail.

In response, Archbishop of Ottawa Terrence Prendergast stressed that parents are children’s “first teachers of faith and moral issues,” and he urged parents to voice their thoughts on the curriculum to officials, saying the government would have to react to “a firestorm of response.”

The archbishop spoke with CNA in a Thursday phone interview, during which he explained the two separate public school systems in Ottawa, Catholic and non-confessional. While the government establishes curriculum for all the schools, “Catholic schools are permitted, constitutionally we believe, to interpret any government mandates in light of our faith requirement.”

“What’s the point of Catholic schools otherwise?” the archbishop asked.

At the bishops’ March meeting, he reported, their education commission assured them that their family life and sexuality program, in effect for over 20 years, is going to be the bishops’ method of meeting the curriculum standards.

“There’s quite a bit of controversy in public, by ordinary parents, who don’t want people, teachers, the state, the province, imposing a particular view of sexuality on their children,” the Ottawa archbishop explained.

Asked how the disagreement can be resolved, the archbishop said:

“We need to get our trustees and our teachers and bishops working together with the government to resolve this issue in a way that somehow meets the requirements of the government in teaching about sexuality but without denying the principles of our Catholic faith.”

CNA asked Archbishop Prendergast if actual government coercion was a possibility.

“I don’t know,” he replied, saying differences would best be resolved by face-to-face discussion rather than in a debate mediated by news outlets. Repeating his position that Catholic education is constitutionally protected, he suggested that stand might need to be tested in court.

“I would hope not,” he added, hoping “cool heads” can resolve the dispute.

Archbishop Prendergast advised parents to “speak up” to their MPs and representatives. They need to take seriously their responsibilities, while the government should cooperate with parents to ensure children are raised in a “healthy and wholesome” way.

“Rushing growth and precocious sexual development is not going to help. I think that is what is happening here.”

He warned that children become “experimenters” if they are taught no moral qualms about sexual behavior. Adults have to help them avoid “something for which they are psychologically, spiritually and emotionally unprepared.”

The archbishop explained that some non-Catholic parents send their children to Catholic public schools because of a “moral quality to their teaching.”

One non-Catholic mother he knows feels that “she and her husband should have authority in delicate matters, not things presented by Planned Parenthood.”

Parents going to non-Catholic public schools need to say this is not suitable instruction for their children either, he noted.

Rather than promote greater sexual expression, he suggested, Canadians “need to think about restoring a certain moral character to the educational system.”

“It’s not easy, but I think we need to say that.”

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German bishop accused of physical abuse offers resignation to Pope

Rome, Italy, Apr 23, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop of Augsburg Walter Mixa has written to Pope Benedict XVI and offered to resign following allegations he physically abused children. The bishop said he tendered his resignation in order to avert further damage to the Church.

The bishop is accused of abusing at least six children at an orphanage near Munich when he was a priest there in the 1970s and 1980s, the Irish Times reports.

Earlier this month he had issued a statement saying he had “never used physical violence in any form” against children.

He later said, “If the debate has turned to the question of slapping, I will honestly say that as a long-time teacher and priest dealing with very many youths, I cannot rule out the odd smack in the face 20 years ago.”

Four women who lived at the orphanage in their childhood have sworn in affidavits that Bishop Mixa hit them.

A man who also resided at the orphanage from 1972 to 1982 said he was given regular beatings on his bare buttocks with a carpet beater. According to the Irish Times, he said there were at least fifty incidents in which the future bishop hit him with a stick five to seven times on his bottom.

Bishop Mixa is also accused of financial misconduct.

The Diocese of Augsburg said that with the bishop’s resignation “he wants to avert further damage to the Church and to allow a new start.”

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Pope accepts Belgian bishop's resignation after admission of abuse

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI officially accepted the resignation of Bishop of Bruges Roger Joseph Vangheluwe on Friday. The bishops resignation was seen as "indispensable" for truth by the president of the Belgian bishops.

Bishop Vangheluwe's resignation was officially announced by the Vatican just after noon local time. The resignation is the second in as many days due to involvement in cases of pedophilia in the Church.

Accompanying the brief note from the Vatican announcing Pope Benedict's decision was an official statement from the bishop himself admitting his own guilt of committing sexual abuse against a minor.

Beginning from the time he was a "simple priest" and continuing into the the first part of his episcopate, he wrote, he "sexually abused a young person."

In the last decade, Bishop Vangheluwe explained, he has "recognized his fault" to the victim and the victim's family and asked for forgiveness.

Saying that "media storm" in recent weeks has "reinforced the trauma," he stated, and "it is no longer possible to continue in this situation."

The message concludes with the bishop asking for the forgiveness of the victim, the family of the victim, "all the Catholic community and of society in general."

Newly appointed primate of the Belgian Church, Archbishop of Malines-Brussels Andre-Joseph Leonard also released a statement on Friday in which he spoke of the "particularly serious situation" the Church is facing and its will to provide transparency.

He stated that the 73-year-old bishop's resignation was "indispensable" both out of "respect for the victims and his or her family and for respect of the truth."

The archbishop said that it's time to "turn the page" from the time in which the Church "preferred the 'solution' of silence and of covering up."

Bishop Vangheluwe had been the bishop of Bruges since 1985.

The announcement of Belgian bishop's resignation comes just a day after the Pope accepted that of Bishop Jim Moriarty of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin in connection with the years he worked in the Archdiocese of Dublin as an auxiliary bishop. While he wasn't directly criticized of sexual abuse, he said that he "should have challenged the prevailing culture."

Also on Thursday, Bishop of Augsburg Walter Mixa sent his resignation papers to Pope Benedict XVI, saying that he didn't wish to cause further damage to the Church after allegations that he physically abused children.

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‘Catholics for a Free Choice’ seeking to undermine Pope in Latin America

Lima, Peru, Apr 23, 2010 (CNA) - The Latin American version of “Catholics for a Free Choice” (CFFC) has launched a campaign to mobilize gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual groups in order to organize protests outside the Apostolic Nunciatures around the region.

In Peru, Catholics for a Free Choice is the new name of a previous anti-Catholic, feminist organization called “Manuela Ramos,” which underwent a name-change in 2009.  The group is currently using comments by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone linking homosexuality to pedophilia to rouse the support of homosexual groups.

CFFC in Peru had called for a protest to take place on Wednesday outside the Apostolic Nunciature, but because there was no turn-out it was re-scheduled for Saturday.

Similar calls for protests are being made in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, where a protest held on Wednesday drew a crowd of less than 30 people.  CFFC leaders are using photos that accuse the Church of covering up pedophilia and of homophobia to pique the interest of homosexuals.

Carlo Polo, director of the Latin American office of the Population Research Institute, explained that CFFC “is seeking to create the impression that Latin America is against the Church, when in reality the prestige of the Church and the Pope have not been undermined by the media campaign.”

He added that the group’s “actions have been coordinated between certain agencies in order to create the impression internationally that the supposed ‘sexual scandal’ is affecting Catholics.  This is not the case and the counter protests many Catholics are organizing for this Saturday will prove which side Catholics are on.”

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US lawyer for Vatican calls abuse suit 'completely without merit'

Berkeley, Calif., Apr 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a statement released by the Holy See's Press Office on Friday, the Vatican's lawyer in the U.S., Jeffrey Lena, states that a recent lawsuit against the Holy See regarding an abusive priest from Wisconsin is not legitimate. The case does, however, show an attempt by "certain U.S. lawyers" to take advantage of the judiciary for media relations, he argues.

The declaration from the lawyer comes after the filing of a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District Court of Milwaukee, naming the Vatican as a defendant in a case about abuses committed by Fr. Lawrence Murphy. The Wisconsin priest, who sexually abused hundreds of minors between 1950 and 1974 at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee, died in 1998.

Lena responds in the statement released on Friday, "first and foremost, sympathy is due to the victims of the criminal acts committed by Fr. Lawrence Murphy. By sexually abusing children, Murphy violated both the law and the trust that his victims had placed in him."

Stating that there have been "legitimate lawsuits" filed by victims of abuse in the past, Lena underscores, "this is not one of them."

He calls John Doe 16 vs. Holy See "an attempt to use tragic events as a platform for a broader attack," and says that this specific case is "one dependent on re-characterizing the Catholic Church as a worldwide 'business enterprise.'"

The lawsuit alleges that the Vatican had known about complaints against Fr. Murphy since 1995, that its secrecy perpetuated further cases, and that, as the Church's supreme authority, it was responsible for the decisions of Wisconsin bishops regarding Fr. Murphy.

The suit seeks monetary damages as well as the release of Vatican files concerning sexually abusive priests.

But Lena charges that the lawsuit is "completely without merit," as it "rehashes old theories already rejected by U.S. courts."

As for the involvement of the Holy See in the case, the Vatican's lawyer says that it had "no role whatsoever in causing plaintiff's injuries," having not known about the cases "until decades after the abuse occurred."

This lawsuit, he writes, is "simply the latest attempt by certain U.S. lawyers to use the judicial process as a tool of media relations."

The lawsuit is being brought by the St. Paul, Minn.-based lawyer Jeff Anderson, who has made millions off of suing the Catholic Church in the United States. In 2002 Anderson told the Associated Press that he had won more than $60 million in settlements from the Church.

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Archbishop says Venezuelan justice system has been hijacked

Caracas, Venezuela, Apr 23, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Roberto Luckert of Coro, Venezuela said this week that the decision by Hugo Chavez to imprison Judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni is evidence that the country’s judicial system has been hijacked.

The archbishop visited Afiuni at the prison where she has been held since last December, when she ordered the release of banker Eligio Cedeno, which infuriated President Hugo Chavez.  Cedeno is known for donating to the political campaigns of opposition leaders. Chavez demanded the judge be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Archbishop Luckert said Afiuni “represents an honest Venezuelan judge.”  He also criticized the country’s officials for prolonging her detention and ignoring the law. 

He said that although Afiuni’s cell is comfortable, she is being held near prisoners that she herself sentenced and who are now making death threats against her.  “She stays inside, she does not go outside to the prison yards or even to the hallway that surrounds her cell.  She took advantage of my visit to see the chapel and the yard.  She lives completely enclosed in her cell out of fear,” he said.

After learning about Afiuni’s situation from postings on Twitter, Archbishop Luckert called prison officials and was allowed to visit.

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Oklahoma bishop to replace Cardinal Castrillón at Mass honoring Pope

Washington D.C., Apr 23, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Edward J. Slattery has decided that he will celebrate a solemn high Mass honoring the pontificate of Pope Benedict after organizers decided that providing security for Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos would be too costly. Cardinal Castrillón was recently found to have supported a bishop's attempt to evade reporting an abusive priest to civil authorities.

Bishop Slattery of the Diocese of Tulsa will now preside at a traditional Latin Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C on April 24, honoring the fifth anniversary of the inauguration of the Holy Father.

Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos of Colombia was originally asked celebrate the Mass, but a 2001 letter was made public late last week which showed that he praised a French bishop's decision not to report a sexually abusive priest to the police.

Bishop Slattery, 69, spoke positively to Washington Times on Thursday about his new involvement with the celebration and of the Paulus Institute, which is coordinating the Mass.

“I admire these people,” Bishop Slattery said of the Institute, which has been planning the Mass for three years.

“They are very good Catholics and so I felt, 'If you need me to come, I'll come.' They know I have a history of liking our (Latin) liturgy,” the bishop said. The prelate also noted that the event is “a very special moment” for the Church and that the faithful need the extraordinary form of the Mass “to not lose our roots.”

Paul King, president of the Paulus Institute, told the Washington Times that the decision to choose another celebrant for the Mass had a lot to do with potential picketers and the costs associated with heavier security.

When asked if he thought Cardinal Castrillón was disappointed, King responded, “I think so.”

“He's an interesting person and a devout person,” King added.

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Mexican woman raped at age 13 explains why she never considered abortion

Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 23, 2010 (CNA) -

Liana Rebolledo is a 33-year-old Mexican woman.  In a recent television interview she recounted that after she was raped at the age of 13 and became pregnant, she never considered aborting her daughter, who is now 20. 

In an interview on the Telestai network, Rebolledo explained how difficult it was to experience the trauma of a rape. “I had my daughter at 13” and it was her life that “saved me.”

“In my case abortion was never an option, it was never considered. It was a difficult situation but she was the one who gave me the will to keep living,” Rebolledo said.

Rebolledo added that getting past the rape was “a process more difficult than you can imagine. You always think it could happen to anyone else, but not to you … I didn’t understand. At that age you don’t understand why you are experiencing such a situation.”

After revealing that she tried to commit suicide because of the rape, and not because of the pregnancy, Rebolledo said, “The doctor told me, don’t worry, you won’t be able to continue the pregnancy, your womb is very young, you have lost a lot of weight, it is going to be a high-risk pregnancy.”  The doctor also said, “your life is in danger so I will talk to your mom.”

But Rebolledo said, hearing the heartbeat of her baby was crucial.  “I realized I had something with me, something mine, that belonged to me.”  She knew that she “was not going to be alone.”

“There was something that said to me: ‘Now I have someone to live for’.”

Sometimes, she said, people say to her, “You gave life to such a special person.  I reply: She gave life to me because after what I experienced, I should have ended up psychologically harmed.  I don’t know how I would have ended up, but I wouldn’t be here today telling you what the life of my daughter has meant to me.”

“I came from a dysfunctional home where there was a lot of domestic violence. There was no foundation and we were not raised with values or faith,” she said.  Rebolledo then added that what gave her strength during the pregnancy was “the fact of knowing that I had to fight for that life and I had to protect her and care for her so that what happened to me would not happened to her”

“I didn’t want her to suffer the emotional abandonment that I did.”

 “I don’t regret anything,” she continued.  “She is the only thing that brings me consolation.”  “Today I think, how is it possible that people think these little ones don’t have the right to live? They bring you so much joy, they are full of life, they are with you in the most difficult moments.”

 “I don’t think abortion is an option. If you don’t want the child, you can give him up for adoption,” she said.  “Pregnancy is not the problem.  The problem is, what is going on that is leading such little girls to end up pregnant at such a young age.”

Speaking about her pro-life activism and volunteer work, Rebolledo said she goes to abortion clinics “on Saturdays and I try to speak to the women to make them see that there is a solution, there is hope, there is a way.  In all the times I have gone, I have only seen one case of rape.”

Rebolledo encouraged girls in similar situations to believe in themselves.  “You can find a way to move forward.  Have faith and hope that you can do it.  Visualize your goal.  When you have these little ones at your side, you can do it, they support you.  At the end of the day you realize everything was worth it.”

“If I had to go through it again, I would do it just to be able to meet her,” she said, referring to her daughter.

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Church treated unfairly by media because of counter-cultural teachings, cardinal says

Rome, Italy, Apr 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict and the Church are not being treated fairly in the media coverage of the sexual abuse scandal because his teachings disagree with the relativistic and individualistic culture of today, said Cardinal Ennio Antonelli this week.
"It's evident that it is an attack not only against the Pope, but also and especially against the Catholic Church as authoritative moral reference of our world today," said Cardinal Antonelli, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Foglio on Wednesday.

There are various elements that show "clearly a militant 'information' against the Church," the cardinal asserted. Citing examples of this pattern, he specifically alluded to the "tone" and "tenacity" of the accusations, the re-use of past cases that were already public as current news, the lack of statistics in reports and the promotion of the idea that pedophilia only exists within the clergy and not as "an enormously widespread vice in society."

In order "to darken the image of the Church and compromise its credibility," he explained, "it's logical that they seek to strike the Pope in person, even if the firmness and coherence of his commitment against certain criminal behaviors has always been known."

Cardinal Antonelli told Il Foglio that while he recognizes the "profound suffering" of the victims, the scandal of offending priests' "lack of loyalty to the Lord" and the negative effects of abuses on the image of the Church, he also regrest the way that the scandal is "conditioned by the media."

Behind the media response, said the cardinal, is the fact that the Holy Father's message severely "wounds" the dominant mentality of society.

A "strong contrast" exists between the two sides, Cardinal Antonelli explained. On the one hand, you have "the teaching of Jesus Christ and of the Church on love, sexuality, matrimony, the family (and) respect for every human life."

On the other hand, the cardinal continued, is "the relativistic and individualistic culture that provokes the disintegration of the family, reduces love to sexual satisfaction and egotistical sentimentality without commitment and without sacrifice for the good of the other, sustains the equality of very different forms of cohabitation, promotes the exclusively recreational exercise of sexuality (and) favors the practice of abortion and demands its recognition as a right."

The Pope, observed the head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, "clearly emphasizes the objective truth of the good, moral norms and their meaning and value for the authentic human growth of people and of society" and in doing so he "unmasks the idols and false values of the dominant culture."

Benedict XVI puts us "on guard against illusions and dangers," the prelate stated.

"This," concluded Cardinal Antonelli, "in many environments doesn't procure him sympathy and applause."

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Canadian leader axes controversial sex-ed curriculum in response to backlash

Ottawa, Canada, Apr 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a dramatic turn of events Thursday, a Canadian premier abruptly axed a controversial proposed sex-ed curriculum due to the overwhelmingly negative response it received within his province.

Premier Dalton McGuinty of Ontario previously backed a sex education curriculum which came under fire for its subject matter. The curriculum scheduled lessons on body parts in Grade 1, discussed homosexuality in Grade 3, and explicitly mentioned “vaginal and anal intercourse” in Grade 7. The curriculum also taught that homosexuality and transgenderism are normal and that masturbation is “one way of learning about your body.”

According to the Ottawa Citizen, Premier McGuinty said the government failed to properly consult and communicate with parents about the revamped curriculum.

“I think for most parents, it came out of nowhere,” he said Thursday. “We spent a good 24, 48 hours listening to parents and caucus – and parents through our caucus – and it's become pretty obvious we should give this a serious rethink.”

Though the premier on Tuesday of this week spoke of his unflinching support of the curriculum, within 54 hours his position drastically changed.

“(Parents) are obviously not comfortable with the proposal that we put forward,” he said Thursday. “So we're going to improve on that.”

The curriculum had sparked outrage among Catholic leaders in Ottawa as Premier McGuinty previously claimed that the program applied to “all students in publicly funded schools, including Catholic schools,” the Ottawa Citizen reported.

Archbishop of Ottawa Terrence Prendergast stressed on Thursday that parents are children’s “first teachers of faith and moral issues,” and he urged parents to voice their thoughts on the curriculum to officials, saying the government would have to react to “a firestorm of response.”

In a phone interview with CNA on Thursday, Archbishop Prendergrast explained that, “There’s quite a bit of controversy in public, by ordinary parents, who don’t want people, teachers, the state, the province, imposing a particular view of sexuality on their children.”

Archbishop Prendergast advised parents to “speak up” to their MPs and representatives. They need to take seriously their responsibilities, while the government should cooperate with parents to ensure children are raised in a “healthy and wholesome” way.

The archbishop explained that some non-Catholic parents send their children to Catholic public schools because of a “moral quality to their teaching.”

One non-Catholic mother he knows feels that “she and her husband should have authority in delicate matters, not things presented by Planned Parenthood.”

Parents going to non-Catholic public schools need to say this is not suitable instruction for their children either, he noted.

Rather than promote greater sexual expression, he suggested, Canadians “need to think about restoring a certain moral character to the educational system.”

“It’s not easy, but I think we need to say that.”

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Church must confirm Christian identity online, says Italian bishop

Rome, Italy, Apr 23, 2010 (CNA) - The Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI) inaugurated a three-day conference on "Digital Witnesses" yesterday in Rome. The gathering is aimed at providing a new generation with access to the message of Christ, using a recognizable "language."

The conference has drawn more than 1,300 participants from across Italy, who are attending addresses given by directors and journalists from Italian media outlets, experts on communications and digital technologies and Church leaders.

In his address on the opening day of the conference, CEI's secretary general, Bishop Mariano Crociata, said that while new media channels promoted by the Church community do not replace other means of communication, they do "represent a new opportunity" in response to the demand to "intensify dialogue and collaboration."

It's about reaching a generation which has a different vocabulary, Bishop Crociata explained, describing young people as "digital natives" who have been raised with the speed and pervasiveness of today's "horizontal, decentralized and interactive communication."

It's "a generation that is not against God or the Church, but a generation that is learning to live without God and without the Church," he noted.

In this context, he continued, the commitment of the Church to developing a "new literacy" in the digital media is about having a presence that is marked by "the Christian identity, the superabundance represented by the Gospel."

He also highlighted the challenge of establishing an "organic project" for social communications in the pastoral plan of dioceses that integrates this language and identity into other environments.

Citing the Holy Father's message for World Communications Day, the CEI secretary general concluded, "We must stop considering communications as 'an ulterior segment to the pastoral ministry or a sector dedicated to the media,' to understand it rather as 'the setting for a pastoral outreach entirely and integrally "rethought" from what the culture of media is and determines in consciences and in society.'"

Additional topics to be address during the conference are: "The social network and its centrality in communicative practices" and "Young people between mass media and personal media."

The culminating event of the conference is the final address, which will be given by the Holy Father in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall on Saturday afternoon to a crowd of around 8,000 participants and other representatives of the Italian Church.

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Legion issues clarification on vicar general’s call for pontifical commissioner

Madrid, Spain, Apr 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Thursday, while speaking to members of Regnum Christi, Legionary priests and staff of the University Francisco de Vitoria in Madrid, the Vicar General of the Legion of Christ, Father Luis Garza, revealed that he had asked the Holy See to create a pontifical commissioner to bring order to the Legion of Christ. The Legion issued a statement today clarifying that their vicar general was only speaking on a personal basis and not for the order.


Friday morning, Luis Posada Pescador from reported that while speaking at a conference, Fr. Garza explained that a pontifical commissioner would help bring credibility to the congregation and that the Holy See should review the charism, the statues and the policies of the order. 


He added that the Legion previously asked for the participation from all of its members in any review.

Father Garza also said he requested that the Holy See appoint advisors to manage the order’s relationship with civil officials regarding the victimsabused by the founder of the Legion, Father Marcial Maciel. 

It was also reported that Fr. Garza mentioned that the congregation inquired about having consultants appointed to deal with the founder’s personal secretaries who were involved in concealing his double life.

The Legion responded on Friday evening with a statement explaining that the “author of the article –who was not personally in attendance at Fr. Garza’s conference- based his writing off information others had given to him, mixing it indistinctly with other pieces of information and opinions of a vague consistency.”


They said that as a result, the “majority of the article did not correspond” to what was actually said and that “now there are statements circulating that Fr. Garza did not actually make.”


The Legion statement continued, “Speaking about the possible conclusions of the apostolic visitation and the various speculations about its outcome which have been published in various sources,” Fr. Garza affirmed, “‘I don’t know what the Holy Father will decide.’” He added that no indication has been given as the official reports of the visitors “fall under pontifical secrecy.”


However, the statement continued, “Fr. Garza added, ‘Now it could be possible that the Holy Father will send someone from the outside, to help us in the congregation, as a commissioner, as an assistant, or in some other capacity.’”


The Legion’s statement then emphasized that Fr. Garza was only “sharing his personal beliefs on the topic.”


The religious order reported that Fr. Garza said:


“Sincerely, I consider, personally, that this sort of action on the part of the Holy Father would be something extremely useful and extremely good for the Legion because it would give much credibility and clarity to our whole process. I truly await it, and I asked the visitors with whom I spoke, I suggested to them that they do a thing like this to be able to effectively, not only comply–because I believe that our disposition is to comply – but so that there not be doubts on the part of anyone about the process of complying with what the Holy See will want to say to us.”


Fr. Garza also stated that the apostolic visitors had not formally investigated some issues within the Legion, so he expressed his desire for “the help of people from the outside” to investigate in order to provide credibility and clarity to the process.

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