Archive of May 7, 2010

Dr. Janet Smith blasts AFP for 'inaccurate' contraception article

Detroit, Mich., May 7, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Responding to a recent Agence France Presse (AFP) article that criticized Catholic teaching on contraception, well-known professor, Dr. Janet Smith, said that in her opinion, the poorly researched piece “was inaccurate and slanted from the beginning.”

In light of the recent 50th anniversary of the Pill being released to U.S. markets, the AFP reported on Thursday that in spite of Church teaching, the majority of Catholic women today use contraception.

“Catholics use the pill the same way everyone else does ... Priests don't even preach against it any more,” Jon O'Brien, president of the dissident group Catholics for Choice, told the AFP on Wednesday.

AFP also made reference in the article to a commission of bishops and lay people who recommended in 1968 that the Church should change its position on contraception. The AFP article argued that Pope Paul VI “ignored” the commission in his writing of “Humanae Vitae” and “banned” Catholics from using the Pill.

The article also mentioned that less than five percent of Catholics use the “rhythm method,” which it called the one of the “birth control methods allowed by the Church.”

During a phone interview with CNA on Thursday, Dr. Smith, a professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, said that it was obvious the writer of the AFP article did “minimal research.”

Not only did the writer mention the “rhythm method,” a term that Smith said “no one is using,” but the commission surrounding Pope Paul VI was “simply an advisory panel.” The Pope, said Smith, did not “ignore” anyone by opposing contraception, but rather, upheld the tenets of the faith on the belief that birth control would have devastating societal consequences.

The AFP article, she summarized, “was inaccurate and slanted from beginning to end.”

Defending the Church's teaching that contraception affects society in negative ways and is immoral, Smith noted that “more than one out of three babies in the United States are born to a single mother, one out of four pregnancies are aborted,” and that “more than one out of two marriages end in divorce.”

“If people were living by the Church's teaching on sexuality, those things wouldn't be happening, and those things are a path to misery,” she underscored.

“People born out of wedlock have a very hard life, as do their children. People who get divorced have a very hard life as do their children, and their friends and their family,” Smith asserted, adding that on the other hand, “people who don't get divorced and stay married and raise their children, generally have very good lives.”

“Couples who use natural family planning almost never divorce,” she pointed out. “The divorce rate at tops, we think is around 4%.”

In light of these facts,“who looks foolish?” she asked. “The Church for not changing a teaching that almost guarantees happiness or a culture that is pushing an agenda that almost guarantees misery?”

Also, “it is really, patently absurd for women to be putting chemicals in their body to correct a condition that is not a defect.

“Fertility is a perfectly healthy condition,” Smith emphasized.

While it is true, said Smith, that many Catholics do not follow Church teaching on contraception, many Catholics “also don't abide by the Church's teaching about not having sex before marriage and not getting divorced and even, I'm sorry to say, having abortions.”
Smith even referenced areas outside the realm of sexuality that Catholics “are at odds with their Church,” such as, resistance to Church teaching on receptivity towards immigrants.

Contraception is “not an isolated teaching that's being ignored.”

On the reasons why many Catholics today are disconnected from Church teaching, the noted professor offered two explanations. “One, is that the influence of the culture is just overwhelming – the prominence of the media and the slant of the media on everything. Catholics are going to Church at most, once on Sunday but they're watching TV and reading the media hours and hours and hours of every week.”

“So what's going to have more influence on them?” she asked. “Their Church or their culture?”

The second reason for the modern disconnect between Catholics and Church teaching is “the dissent that happened in the 1960s against 'Humanae Vitae,'” Smith explained.

“A lot of priests were actually taught in the seminaries that the Church was going to change its position on contraception and therefore they shouldn't really bother to teach the Catholic faithful about it,” she said. This confusion over Church teaching on human sexuality is why “John Paul II made it one of his flagship items of his pontificate.”

One of Pope John Paul II's seminal works, the “Theology of the Body,” has “taken off like wildfire around the United States,” Smith told CNA. One the main purposes of the writings, she explained, “was to defend the Church's teaching of contraception.”

According to Smith, the U.S. is responding. “Young people all over the place come to huge conferences” on the theology of the body “and certainly, the training in the seminary is very different now – seminarians are learning the Church's teaching.”

Smith herself has had “over a million” copies of her talks on the Church's teaching regarding human sexuality distributed in recent years.

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Swiss president: Pope cares about abuse victims, wants to address all cases this year

Vatican City, May 7, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Meeting with the Holy Father, president of Switzerland, Doris Leuthard was seen to be “visibly moved.” Discussion between the two heads of state covered clerical sex abuse of minors, the need to be “sensitive” to victims and Swiss laws on religious freedom. Pope Benedict also told her that he would like to address everything related to sexual abuse by priests this year.

The two leaders met in the Papal library of the Apostolic Palace on Thursday morning for 25 minutes. The encounter was “a very important moment” and “an honor,” the Catholic president told the Swiss news service

The president went on to tell the publication that the subject sexual abuse of minors came up in the private discussion with Pope Benedict XVI.

“The Pontiff recognizes the existence of this problem, also he rightly recalled that it is a question that involves all of society. He wants to confront it and is sensitive to the drama of the victims of the abuses,” President Leuthard said.

She later told Vatican Radio that she was "positively surprised that the church has signaled a certain openness." According to the Swiss president, the Pope told her, "the Church realizes it is more damaged when these cases are covered up" than when they are dealt with.

"The Pope would like to have everything related to these cases addressed this year," she stated, without providing more information.

She explained that from her perspective it was good to speak of the matter as it improves collaboration with political authorities, “seeing as before the law there cannot be differences between guilty parties that operate in different environments.”

Another theme of conversation between them was religious freedom in the central European country.
The Swiss voted to ban the construction of new minarets last November, and whether or not to prohibit burqas—a full body veil worn by Muslim women—is a current topic in the country, since it recently was passed into law on a local level in the Canton of Aargau.

The president told Swissinfo, “The Pope recalled the necessity of the freedom of religion, which is guaranteed in Switzerland,” insisting on “the value of tolerance and openness in the towards other religions.”

Leuthard added that he also spoke of reciprocity in honoring this freedom, telling her of “his sensitivity to the fact that Christians can’t freely profess their faith in other countries.” 

Benedict XVI received two medieval texts on the monastery of St. Gallo and a box of Swiss chocolates from the president, while he gave her the medal of his pontificate.

According to the Holy See’s statement on the visit, the president also met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and secretary of relations with states Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, at which time they spoke of the ceremony to swear in the new Swiss Guards, the current socio-economic climate in the world and inter-religious dialogue.

The Pope also met with the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, on Thursday. The Kuwaiti leader spoke of the importance of the Christian minority to his country.

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Russian Orthodox archbishop to promote culture, spirituality at Vatican

Vatican City, May 7, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A delegation from the Patriarchate of Moscow will be at the Vatican later this month to promote Russian culture and spirituality. Initiatives during the two day event include meetings, a symposium and a concert for Pope Benedict XVI.

The “Days of Russian Culture and Spirituality in the Vatican” will be held from May 19 – 20.

President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, presented the program at the Holy See on Friday together with a representative from the Patriarchate of Moscow and another representative from his office in charge of Art and Faith. The Patriarchate of Moscow, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Pontifical Council for Culture are all involved in organizing the events.

Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, president of the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, will lead the Russian delegation to Rome, representing Kirill I, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

On May 19 he will be meeting with members of the Roman Curia, inaugurating a photo exhibit called “The Russian Orthodox Church Today,” and presenting at the symposium "Orthodox and Catholics in Europe today. The Christian roots and the shared cultural heritage of East and West.”

The following morning at Rome’s Russian Orthodox St. Catherine Martyr church, Archbishop Hilarion will celebrate the Divine Liturgy. Later that afternoon he will host a concert for the Pope featuring the Russian National Orchestra and the Synodal Choir of Moscow.

Following the concert, the Holy Father will give an address to the gathering.

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Archbishop criticizes media for distorting statements on clerical abuse

Brasilia, Brazil, May 7, 2010 (CNA) - The spokesman for the 48th general assembly of the National Conference of Brazil, Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, clarified Thursday that the recent statements by Archbishop Dadeus Grings of Porto Alegre, who remarked that the country suffers from a “pedophile society,” have been taken out of context by the media.

He added that Bishop Grings' remarks do not constitute the opinion of the bishops’ conference.

While Archbishop Tempesta said he does not share the opinion of Archbishop Grings, he clarified that Archbishop Grings' comments were an attempt to explain the responsibility society has for the abuse of minors, apart from the abuse committed by clergy.  “We do not share the idea of accusing anyone, but it is clear that the Church is suffering from the reality of today’s world and from today’s society,” he said.

“Each bishop is free to express his opinion,” the archbishop continued.  “Each one is free to speak according to his understanding and his ideas. The official opinion of the bishops’ conference can be found in its official statements,” he said.

He went on to say that Archbishop Grings has been misunderstood.  “He did not accuse the entire society of pedophilia in the sense that it is been reported” by the media.

The Church condemns every form of abuse and extends her affection and care to the victims, Archbishop Tempesta said.  She also understands that abusers must be punished according to the laws of each country.  “Those who commit crimes should be judged according to the laws of each country, of Brazil and of all the others,” he said.

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Shroud of Turin supports Resurrection, expert affirms

Rome, Italy, May 7, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - Professor Paolo Di Lazzaro, who is head of a group of researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Development in Italy, noted this week that the latest discoveries on the Shroud of Turin “are not in contradiction with the theory of the Resurrection” of Christ.

In an interview with Europa Press, Di Lazzaro explained the results of their study, which lasted four years and focused on how the image came to appear on the cloth. According to tradition, the shroud was used to wrap the body of Jesus after the crucifixion.

Di Lazzaro said that scientists have not been able to reproduce an image, similar to the one on the shroud, with any kind of contact technique.  While from far away, differences in the replications may appear unnoticeable, under a microscope they appear drastically different, he added.

The peculiarity of the original image lies in the “depth of coloration,” which on Shroud does not go beyond the first layer of strands in the fabric, Di Lazzaro said.  Upon observation, his team came to the conclusion that “the image on the Shroud is similar to those some textile manufactures create through the use of laser.”

After years of experimentation, for the first time the team was able to color the outermost strands of a fabric similarly to how the image is present on the Shroud by using “extremely brief but intense ultraviolet light impulses emitted by a special laser.”

Even so, the researchers were only able to reproduce a small portion of the Shroud, as “in order to color the entire image you would need 14,000 lasers, something which for now is impossible,” he said.

Nevertheless, Di Lazzaro said the discovery at least points to a possible physical mechanism that may have resulted in the creation of the image. This mechanism “does not contradict the religious theory of the miracle or the resurrection,” he said, as it could have been the cause of the release of energy that created the image, although “this is an area outside our competence as scientists.”

Recently, Di Lazzaro organized a seminar in Frascati, Italy, during which 48 experts from around the world gathered together to discuss images called Acheiropoietos, that is, “not made by hands.”  They also examined the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Manopello Veil, which, according to tradition, is the veil used by Veronica to wipe the face of Jesus.

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Consecrated Regnum Christi woman shares details about life in community

Mexico City, Mexico, May 7, 2010 (CNA) - Irene Alemany, the director of a Regnum Christi community in Mexico, recently spoke with the Mexican daily, Milenio. During her interview, she noted the community's promise to live in poverty and emphasized she has “never felt abused by the Legion.”

“We do not have any personal possessions, we do not receive a salary, our only work is the apostolate,” she explained.   She then addressed how inheritance money is handled within the community. “When our families leave us an inheritance, for a prudent period of 15 years the fund remains intact, in case the sister needs to leave for some reason. 

“To us that makes perfect sense because we have detached ourselves of everything material.”

“In a worst-case scenario, if after 20 or 25 years someone needs to leave the consecrated life of the Legion of Christ because of illness or another situation, the Legion always returns the money that had been donated to the Church with interest,” Alemany explained.

Irene Alemany was born in Spain and entered the consecrated life 26 years ago.  She said that consecrated life is like living “in a family - we truly are sisters.” However, she continued, the members of the community are prudently asked not to share whatever family problems they might have with the rest of the sisters, but rather “to seek out an appropriate person who can help.” 

Alemany also directs the Madox Academy, a K-12 school.  She remarked that the Regnum Christi homes follow the same statutes as the Legion of Christ, which are similar to those of other religious congregations.  “We live in discipline” and with a special emphasis on education,” she said.

Asked if she monitors the correspondence of the other sisters, Alemany responded, “In many congregations that is the custom. The reason is to try to help them if there is bad news. Perhaps this is more and more obsolete but it is a norm that we have followed. And yes we have reviewed letters.”

Regarding the use of the internet, she said, “It is important to understand that you just look at things from the point of view of rules they can be easily misunderstood.  We have access to internet but it depends on the work of each person.  There are filters that exist to protect consecrated life; we don’t just look at any magazine out there, only ones with cultural content, that really nourish the culture.

“We live freely in order to cultivate our interior life and our purity in our commitment to Jesus Christ.  We remove everything that doesn’t help us, and for this reason we use certain filters, and we also have access to other media and to the news.”

The main objective of the consecrated sisters is “the formation of women,” and for this reason the members receive formation in several areas.  Alemany explained that while most of the Regnum Chrsiti women have bachelors or graduate degrees, of the 21 women who live in her community, only five  or six have bachelor’s degrees. She said that the rest are studying at the Legionary formation centers, where the professors are usually from the Legion, with occasional visiting professors.

Berenice Garcia, coordinator of the youth groups in Mexico, said girls ages 11 and 12 join these groups to learn about their faith.  Later the girls who have the qualities to live the consecrated life and are physically and psychologically healthy are identified.  This can take two to three years, and afterward, they are invited to consider joining.

The girls are the ones who must first broach the subject with their parents, and later the leaders of the consecrated communities will talk with them to determine whether there is an acceptance on the part of the family.  Leaving behind their families is a difficult process that requires time and discernment, Alemany said.

She also said she was pleased by the recent statement from the Holy See about the Legion of Christ. “It brought me peace,” she said, because the Pope “wants us to continue forward.”

“When we obey our superiors we are obeying someone who represents the will of God. And this is not only something in the Legion of Christ but rather in the entire Catholic Church,” she said.

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New Swiss guards receive encouragement from Pope Benedict

Vatican City, May 7, 2010 (CNA) -

Meeting with new members of the Swiss Guard on Friday, the Holy Father invited them to meditate on the actions of St. Peter after the Resurrection to find the meaning of their work. For all people, he said, working in Jesus’ name “transforms us and makes us a little more like the new man regenerated in Christ.”

After attending Mass at St. Peter’s with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on Thursday morning and taking their solemn oath to serve God and protect the Pope that evening, the 30 new Swiss Guards and their parents met with Pope Benedict XVI on Friday. The audience was held within the frescoed walls and ceiling of the Clementine Hall, and the Pope spoke to the group in each of their three representative languages: German, French and Italian.

Starting in his own native language, the Holy Father recalled the history of the corps and the significance of the newly sworn-in guards as its “visible guardians.” He asked them to carry on the tradition of service to the Pontiff with “generous commitment” and hoped that in their work they “may mature as individuals and as Christians.”

Continuing in French, the Pope recalled the indirect, “but real,” association of the Pontifical Swiss Guard to St. Peter’s service to the Church. He asked them to meditate on the passage in the Acts of the Apostles when Peter manifests his “solicitude,” or concern, for the faithful in visiting them after the Resurrection.

In these verses, said the Pope, the guards will find the meaning of their noble undertaking.

He added that he himself "wishes to show that solicitude to all Churches and to each of the faithful, and to everyone who expects something from the Church."

“Your service will bring you to discover, in the face of each man and woman, a pilgrim seeking another face through which to receive a living sign of the Lord,” he observed.

"We know,” he said in closing in Italian, "that everything we do in Jesus' name, however humble it may be, transforms us and makes us a little more like the new man regenerated in Christ. Thus your service to the Petrine ministry will give you a livelier sense of Catholicism, together with a more profound perception of the dignity of all mankind."

Taking part in two days of ceremony and celebration for the 30 recruits and the corps’ new commanding officer, the Pope entrusted the Guards, their families and friends to the intercession of the Virgin Mary and the corps’ three patron saints, Sts. Sebastian, Martin and Nicholas of Flue.

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Celibacy source of grace, not abuse, says head of Belgian Church

Rome, Italy, May 7, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Speaking about the current climate within the Catholic Church of Belgium to the Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano newspaper, Archbishop Andre-Mutien Joseph Leonard highlighted the importance of formation for the priesthood. Celibacy, he underlined, is not the cause of sexual abuses and greater focus needs to be put on priestly formation to avoid future tragedy.

The primate of the Belgian Church spoke to the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper while in Rome for the Belgian bishops’ “ad Limina” visit to the Holy See.

In response to a question about whether the cases of sexual abuse that have come to light in the Church are due to faults in the process of forming priests, the archbishop said “investigating the causes is always difficult.” “However,” he added, “I’m convinced that it is not correct to trace certain deviant attitudes back to the celibacy of priests.”

Archbishop Leonard pointed out that no one calls marriage a “source of mental imbalance” although the majority of cases of sexual abuse of minors take place in the home.

The personal development of the individual is the problem, he said, and it’s an additional reason to put more focus on the formation of priests, placing importance on the “affective equilibrium” of candidates.

Proposing specific actions to be taken to avoid such tragedies in the future, Archbishop Leonard said more attention must be given to potential priests during their time of discernment and in the first few years of formation. The Belgian Church intends “to reinforce” the personnel that accompany seminarians “to understand their nature, personality and balance more deeply,” he added.

“But, I repeat, celibacy is not a source of imbalance for the priest; rather it’s a source of grace.”

The Bishops of Belgium will all meet in audience with Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday to conclude their “ad Limina” visit to the Holy See.

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Mass for murder victim Yeardley Love held at University of Virginia

Charlottesville, Va., May 7, 2010 (CNA) - A Catholic Mass was celebrated on Friday at the University of Virginia Chapel on behalf of murdered lacrosse player Yeardley Love.

According to the university’s Catholic Student Ministry, the public Mass was neither a funeral nor the university’s memorial service.

Rather, it was “an opportunity for Catholics within the university to pray for one of our own.”

The 22-year-old Love was found battered and dead in her off-campus apartment early Monday.

George Huguely, a member of the men’s lacrosse team, has been charged with first-degree murder in the case.

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Rosary prayer initiative for unborn draws 29,000 pledges

Memphis, Tenn., May 7, 2010 (CNA) - A Catholic group leading a multi-national prayer effort to organize one million rosaries for unborn babies has reached 29,000 international pledges and will start on Friday, May 7.

The May 7-9 prayer event, “One Million Rosaries for Unborn Babies,” is being coordinated by the Saint Michael the Archangel Organization.

“I am very thankful for each person who has made the commitment to participate,” said Patrick Benedict, president of the organization.

“And, on behalf of the unborn babies who are, or will be, in danger of being killed, I sincerely and greatly plead to pro-lifers throughout the world,” he added. “Pick up your Rosary May 7th, 8th, or 9th and pray it at least once for the following intention: For an end to the surgical and non-surgical killing of unborn human persons.”

Saint Michael the Archangel Organization reported on Friday that participants have signed up to pray rosaries from around the globe. Individuals from Italy, South Africa, Malta, Switzerland, Mexico and various states throughout the U.S. have pledged rosaries on behalf of the unborn throughout the next three days.

“I also want to say I am very grateful for each person who has done so much good by getting the word out,” continued Benedict. “Of course, it is still not too late to let other people know about this May 7th - 9th Rosary, and I sincerely encourage people to help in this way.”

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Comedy Central 'delights in bashing Christians,' charges Bill Donohue

New York City, N.Y., May 7, 2010 (CNA) - In response to reports that Comedy Central is considering running a cartoon series on Jesus Christ, Bill Donohue charged that the controversial network delights “in bashing Christians,” and recalled Comedy Central's recent efforts to ensure the removal content offensive to Muslims.

The proposed half hour episodes of the show “JC” depict Christ as a “regular guy” who moves to New York to get away from “his father's enormous shadow,” Fox News reported. The dad is portrayed as a powerful but apathetic character who prefers playing video games rather than talking to his son.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, issued a statement on Thursday condemning the slated series.

Donohue recalled a recent incident during which the creators of South Park, a show that airs on Comedy Central, came under fire by Islamic group, “Revolution Muslim,” for featuring content in their show that took jabs at the Prophet Muhammad. Comedy Central censored the South Park episode on television and did not permit it to be shown on the network's website, wrote the New York Times on April 22.

“These are the same executives who delight in bashing Christians while continuing to censor any depiction of Muhammad on 'South Park,'” the Catholic League president asserted.

Donohue then quoted Comedy Central network official Kent Alterman, who, in reference to the “JC” show said, “In general, comedy in its purest form always makes some people uncomfortable.”

“Not true,” Donohue countered. “Besides the fact that there is no end to the number of comedians who have made a huge name for themselves without ever offending anyone, what is even more relevant is the fact that Comedy Central has absolutely no interest in making Muslims feel uncomfortable.”

“But maybe they're wrong,” he added. “Muslims regard Jesus to be a prophet and hold Him in high regard. They may not be too pleased to learn that one of their revered figures is going to be ridiculed on Comedy Central.”

Donohue suggested that Catholics contact Comedy Central CEO Doug Herzog in order to “dialogue” on proposed show.

“If you show up at Herzog's office, and he says he is feeling uneasy, let him know that having a fun time in its purest form always makes some people feel uncomfortable,” Donohue concluded. “He is sure to understand.”

CNA contacted Herzog but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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Trisomy 18 daughter ‘a gift from God,’ former Sen. Rick Santorum writes

Philadelphia, Pa., May 7, 2010 (CNA) - His daughter with trisomy 18 is a loving child at the center of his family’s life, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum has said. Though she has taught character and virtue to everyone he meets, he lamented that so many children with her condition are aborted or face doctors with a “negative perception” towards the severely disabled.

In a Wednesday column for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Santorum told of how he and his wife were aggrieved when doctors told them their newborn child, Isabella Maria, had a condition which was “incompatible with life.”

Their eighth child, Bella was born with trisomy 18, 90 percent of whose victims die before or during birth and 90 percent of survivors die within the first year. Most of those diagnosed in the womb are aborted.

The infant was baptized the same day she was born. Rick Santorum and his wife Karen then spent “every waking hour at her bedside, giving her a lifetime's worth of love and care,” the former senator wrote. “However, not only did she not die; she came home in just 10 days.”

Bella was placed on home hospice care, but the hospice doctor graphically described how Bella would die. He claimed the best Bella’s parents could hope for was that she would die of the common cold.

The Santorums discontinued hospice care so that they and their doctors could focus on Bella’s health, “not her death.”

Santorum praised his wife’s “night and day” care for Bella and her fight with health care providers and insurance companies to secure care for Bella.

“Being the parent of a special child gives one exceptional insight into the negative perception of the disabled among many medical professionals, particularly when they see your child as having an intellectual disability,” he explained in his Philadelphia Inquirer column.

They had difficulty finding doctors who were both experienced in treating trisomy 18 and who saw Bella not as a fatal diagnosis but as “a wanted and loved daughter and sister, as well as a beautiful gift from God.”

At the age of three months, Bella needed minor but “vital” surgery. Some doctors said she wouldn’t survive surgery or said it was “not recommended” because of her genetic conditions.

“In other words, that her life wasn’t worth saving,” the former Senator interpreted.

The Santorums found Dr. Thane Blinman, who has had several trisomy 18 patients who did well.

Former Sen. Santorum said that Bella’s second birthday will come next week. Despite the “constant anxiety” of two close brushes with death and many sleepless nights, he said his family has been “inspired by her fighting spirit.”

The Santorum family has seen her “blossom” into a loving child at the center of their family life. She has also taught “character and virtue” in both her family and in every life she touches.

Rick and Karen Santorum recently received Franciscan University of Steubenville's Poverello Medal for their efforts to promote the pro-life cause.

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Future Archbishop of Miami explains immigration stance

Orlando, Fla., May 7, 2010 (CNA) - U.S. immigration laws are “immoral and unjust” and should be reformed to create a “path to citizenship,” Bishop of Orlando Thomas Wenski has said. Comparing illegal entry into the U.S. to a misdemeanor like jaywalking, he noted that participants in the Boston Tea Party were also lawbreakers.

Weeks before his appointment to become Archbishop-designate of Miami, Bishop Wenski spoke to the Diocese of Orlando’s Pastoral Council on March 27. He said that immigration laws are “immoral and unjust” because they are “antiquated” and “inadequate” for present realities, according to the Florida Catholic newspaper.

“When we look at illegal entry into the U.S. from a Catholic perspective, we understand that it doesn’t carry a moral judgment on that person,” the bishop commented, comparing the situation to Jim Crow laws which barred blacks from drinking out of white drinking fountains.

“It is not a felony to be in this country illegally — it’s a misdemeanor, which is what you do when you jaywalk or speed. You don’t become a criminal because you have a lead foot or don’t use the crosswalk,” he explained.

Adding that the U.S. bishops are not necessarily advocating amnesty, he said they advocate “a path to citizenship.”

“So if people didn’t follow the proper procedures in coming into this country, then just as with jaywalking, you get a fine,” he commented.

Comprehensive reform would allow employers a legal method of bringing workers to the country.

“First, let’s give a path to legality for those who are here. Next, let’s support the reunification of families,” he added, noting the ten-year waiting period for bringing families into the country.

He pointed out that the “patriots” of the Boston Tea Party were law breakers, as was civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. If these people can be honored, he argued, then the situation of illegal immigrants can be resolved and they can integrate into American society.

Noting that social justice is part of the Catholic faith, he added that Catholics cannot pray “Thy will be done” without committing themselves to social justice.

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