Washington D.C., May 13, 2010 (CNA) - Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has intellect and integrity, but she needs to answer questions about particular legal issues such as abortion, marriage and the role of religion in public life, Princeton law professor Robert P. George commented on Monday. He described her nomination as a chance for a “national conversation” about the judiciary.
Writing in a Monday commentary at the web site of the American Principles Project, George cited then-Senator Barack Obama’s remarks concerning his confirmation votes for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. He said President Obama was right in the past to reject the idea that intellectual ability and “personal probity” are sufficient qualifications for service on the U.S. Supreme Court.
George expressed agreement with then-Senator Obama’s demand that a suitable justice have “a sound view of the role of the courts in our constitutional system.”
The dispute then is about the proper role of the courts. George claimed that President Obama envisions courts as “agents of social change” and misunderstands the “important but limited role of judges” in the U.S. system. Judges should not “usurp” legislators’ authority.
Further, George argued, judges should not impose their own ideas about social justice or personal rights. When judges create a right to abortion, redefine marriage, or drive religion from public life, they “betray the Constitution.”
He saw Kagan’s nomination as an opportunity for a “national conversation” on the role of the judiciary.
“To this end, as Kagan herself noted in relation to previous Supreme Court nominees, it is imperative that she answer questions about particular issues, including abortion, marriage, and the role of religious faith in American public life,” George wrote. “For her to decline to answer such questions would be not only to contradict herself but to undermine the valuable opportunity for a serious discussion of the role of courts that her nomination presents.”
Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media, on Monday also advanced questions about Kagan’s view of the U.S. Constitution as it relates to pornography and decency issues.
He asked whether she agrees with the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton, which said there is a “right of the Nation and of the States to maintain a decent society” or with the position that there is a right of pornographers and the entertainment media to “maintain open moral sewers in our Nation’s communities and homes.”
Additionally, he inquired about her position on “adult” clubs, the legal protection of minors from sexual and violent content, and the maintenance of decency and public morals.
Giving a possible insight into Kagan's political leanings is a 1980 essay written by the Supreme Court nominee that was recently republished in the Daily Princetonian.
In it, Kagan describes how she grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and was crestfallen both at the defeat of feminist Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Liz Holtzman and at the victory of Ronald Reagan and other Republican candidates.
She said it was hard for her to conceive of the victories of these “anonymous but Moral Majority-backed opponents,” characterizing them as “these avengers of ‘innocent life’.” While she mentioned few specific policies, she voiced hope for “a new, revitalized, perhaps more leftist left.”
Nairobi, Kenya, May 13, 2010 (CNA) - The proposed Constitution of Kenya is “fundamentally flawed” because it paves the way for “abortion on demand” and recognizes Muslim civil courts, the Catholic bishops of the country have objected. They compared the proposed document, which is backed by the Obama administration, to an egg beginning to go bad.
In a Tuesday statement the bishops repeated their advice that the Kenyan people should reject the constitution.
"We do not believe that a document that is fundamentally flawed should be passed only with a very vague hope that it will be amended later, especially when the process of amendment is more difficult after than before,” they explained in an April 15 statement.
"To vote for the constitution is to vote for all of it, including its good and its bad provisions. It is impossible to separate them,” the bishops of Kenya said.
They explained that those who vote for the proposed constitution because of some provisions they like are also responsible for voting for the “morally problematic” provisions.
“We cannot in good conscience advise Kenyans to vote for the proposed constitution of Kenya with the hope of future amendments,” the prelates added. “We also cannot in good conscience leave the matter to Kenyans without giving our considered advice in moral matters so that they can form their consciences in accord with the will of God expressed to us through the moral laws that form part of our cherished Christian tradition.”
Making comparisons to food preparation, the bishops said the constitution is not a bag of potatoes from which the few bad potatoes can be removed. Rather, it is like a “delicate” egg which if it goes bad “goes bad wholly and you cannot separate the good from bad.”
According to U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the U.S. State Department has pledged to spend $2 million to build support for the proposed constitution.
Three leading Republican U.S. congressmen, including Rep. Smith, have called for a federal probe into whether the Obama administration broke federal laws by promoting the new constitution. A budget provision called the Siljander Amendment prohibits the U.S. government from lobbying for or against abortion using the funds appropriated by Congress.
Opening for Legal Abortion
The Kenyan constitution presently includes no reference to abortion, which the country’s law permits only to save the life of the mother. According to the bishops’ statement, the physician must do everything in his or her power to save both mother and child.
On the other hand, the proposed new constitution would allow abortion in cases where health care professionals believe a mother’s “health” is endangered, an exception which has been broadly interpreted in many countries.
Charging that this article opens the doors to “abortion on demand,” the bishops noted the ambiguities in the definitions of “health” and “health care professional.”
They questioned whether the risk to a mother’s health or stress to a young expectant mother is a sufficient reason to abort a child in the womb. They also criticized “elitist groups” who demand that abortion be legalized on “spurious” health grounds, such as body image or the need for social acceptance.
Procured abortion itself causes health problems, the prelates said, noting the phenomenon of “post-abortion syndrome” which can damage a woman’s emotional life.
Noting that President Mwai Kibaki has publicly stated at least twice that abortion would not be allowed in any proposed constitution for Kenya, the bishops called for the removal of the clause from the draft constitution.
Another article of the proposal would create the right to health care services including “reproductive health care,” a common euphemism for abortion access.
Muslim Civil Courts
The Kenyan bishops also mentioned the constitution’s establishment of state-funded Kadhi Courts as part of the judiciary. The prelates said debate on the question has been misunderstood and has created “unnecessary suspicion” among Kenyans on the matter of religion.
“It is not a Christians versus Muslims affair. It is simply about equality of all before the state,” they wrote.
Criticizing “special treatment” for professing Muslims, they called the Kadhi Court provision an “anomaly” that gives privileges to certain Kenyans because of their religion, race and tribe. Allowing certain groups “special privileges” violates the fundamental principle of equality, they commented, also citing the proposed constitution’s declaration that there shall be no state religion.
Goa, India, May 13, 2010 (CNA) - Catholics in Goa are grieving the death of a 37-year-old priest who died saving three young parishioners from drowning in rough seas. The local Catholic Church praised him as an example for all priests.
Fr. Thomas Fernandes Remedios, associate pastor of the Church of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the village of Nuvem, was at the parish’s beach picnic. Fides news agency reports that about 60 people, mostly youth, attended.
In the afternoon two girls and a boy between 17 and 19 years old ventured into the rough sea despite being warned not to do so. Finding themselves in difficulty, they cried for help.
Fr. Fernandes dove in the water to help and saved two immediately. He saved the third as well, but then suffered a fatal heart attack.
Deacon Savio Moniz, who was at the picnic, told the Goa Herald that the priest collapsed after rescuing the youth.
“We tried to administer first aid to Fr. Thomas as he was almost breathless after he collapsed,” Deacon Moniz reported.
The priest was taken to the hospital, where he was declared dead.
"He is a Shepherd who gave his life for his flock," the Church in Goa has said, according to Fides. It added "in this Year for Priests, he is an example and a testimony for all the priests."
Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
At Mass this morning in the Fatima shrine's square, Pope Benedict said that it would be "mistaken" to consider the prophetic mission of the apparitions at Fatima complete. It continues to be relevant in that it continually invites men and women of good faith “to save the city of man,” he told the 500,000 people gathered for the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.
The Holy Father presided over Mass from the steps of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Fatima this morning. May 13, the Solemnity of Blessed Mary Virgin of Fatima and that of the Ascension, marks the 10th anniversary of the beatification of the shepherd-children Jacinta and Francisco.
Speaking to the estimated 500,000 people in attendance for Mass, Pope Benedict said that he, like them, is in Fatima on pilgrimage. He had come, he added, to pray for the human family and, with the same sentiments as the shepherd-children, to “entrust to Our Lady the intimate confession” that the Church, her priests and he himself love Jesus.
The Pope entrusted all nations and peoples to Heaven, embracing “all their sons and daughters” in God, “particularly, the afflicted or outcast, with the desire of bringing them that great hope which burns in my own heart, and which here, in Fatima, can be palpably felt.”
Pope Benedict recalled the lessons of the “Teacher,” Mary, who introduced the children of Fatima “to a deep knowledge of the Love of the Blessed Trinity and led them to savor God himself as the most beautiful reality of human existence.”
Noting that we might look upon the children’s experience with envy or disappointment for not being as fortunate, the Holy Father offered consolation in that “God ... has the power to come to us, particularly through our inner senses, so that the soul can receive the gentle touch of a reality which is beyond the senses and which enables us to reach what is not accessible or visible to the senses.”
In order for this to come about, he explained, “we must cultivate an interior watchfulness of the heart which, for most of the time, we do not possess on account of the powerful pressure exerted by outside realities and the images and concerns which fill our soul.”
The Lord can “show himself to the eyes of our heart” and “has the power to inflame the coldest and saddest of hearts,” Pope Benedict encouraged the crowd.
The faithful can also draw inspiration from the way Jacinta, Francisco and Sister Lucia gave their entire lives to God, he said. “Blessed Jacinta, in particular, proved tireless in sharing with the needy and in making sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. Only with this fraternal and generous love will we succeed in building the civilization of love and peace.”
Turning to the message delivered by Our Lady of Fatima, the Holy Father said, “we would be mistaken to think that the prophetic mission of Fatima is complete.”
In the story of the Marian apparitions, God’s plan from Genesis of looking out for our brother takes on new life, he instructed. “Mankind,” the Pope noted, “has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror, but failed in bringing it to an end,” and in Scripture, “we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man."
The Holy Father said that the same call resounds from Fatima when Mary asks, "Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which he will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?"
At a dire time in human history, he recounted, Mary "came from heaven, offering to implant in the hearts of all those who trust in her the Love of God burning in her own heart.
"It started with just the three children, but their example has since spread throughout the world.”
He concluded with the prayer, “May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of May, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.”
To read Pope Benedict's full homily, click here.
Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Following the Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima this morning, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in seven different languages and delivered a special message of encouragement and hope to all who are ill. In offering their suffering to Jesus, he called them to find “interior peace and even spiritual joy.”
The Holy Father’s words came after Mass and just before he processed through the crowd with the Most Holy Sacrament.
Addressing the “dear brothers and sisters who are sick,” he said that through Christ’s Passion “in all human suffering we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us; hence consolation is present in all suffering, the consolation of God’s compassionate love – and so the star of hope rises.”
He added that it is through hope that one can "leave behind the quicksand of illness and death and stand on the firm rock of divine love.
"In other words, you can overcome the feeling of the uselessness of suffering which consumes a person from within and makes him feel a burden to those around him when, in reality, suffering which is lived with Jesus assists in the salvation of your brethren.”
This is possible through the divine power that comes in the midst of human weakness, he explained.
This the “paradox of the Gospel,” the Pope continued, in which Jesus preferred to say, “take up your cross and follow me” instead of explaining why suffering exists.
In this way, “as you gradually embrace your crosses,” uniting yourselves spiritually to His, “the salvific meaning of suffering will be revealed to you,” Pope Benedict told them.
“In suffering, you will discover an interior peace and even spiritual joy.”
The Pope then called for the sick to present their suffering to Christ in the Eucharist, entrusting “every setback and pain” to Him “so that they become ... a means of redemption for the whole world.”
At the conclusion of the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Father visited the tombs of the shepherd-children, located within the basilica.
Later, he returned to the House of Our Lady of Mount Carmel where he met with the bishops of Portugal for lunch.
Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - At Mass on Wednesday evening in Fatima, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone spoke about the importance of being like children, humble and simple in our approach to the faith, in order to enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Fatima, he said, reminds us that this kingdom is at hand.
The Vatican Secretary of State presided over the Vigil Mass at the Marian shrine of Fatima, in Portugal on Wednesday evening. The traditional Eucharistic celebration on the eve of the Solemnity of Our Lady of Fatima, followed an earlier address by the Pope to the thousands of candle-bearing pilgrims there to join him in praying the Rosary.
Being like children, living our faith humbly and simply, said the cardinal during his homily, is "the wisdom from above," which contrasts with "the 'wisdom' of the world."
That of the world "exalts personal success and seeks it at any cost, eliminating without scruples those who are considered an obstacle to one's own supremacy. This is what people call life," he observed, "but the trail of death that it leaves behind immediately contradicts them."
The secretary of state spoke of the need to selflessly love as Jesus did, laying down our lives for our brothers. "Passing from life as 'possession' to life as 'gift,'" he related, "is the great challenge that reveals - to ourselves and to others - who we are and who we want to be."
Cardinal Bertone explained that the invitation of the Shrine today is to share the joy of this love "like Jacinta," one of the seers of Fatima who was beatified ten years ago along with her brother Francisco.
Noting the spiritual accomplishments of the shepherd-children, whom he called "two mature fruits of the tree of our Savior's Cross," he urged all people to accept Jesus' challenge: "Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven."
He stressed to the pilgrims at Mass to "make sure that heaven is always the horizon of your lives!
"People have tried to tell you that heaven can wait, but they have been deceiving you," he said.
For two thousand years, the Son of God has been telling us to "repent and believe in the Gospel" as the Kingdom of God is at hand, and Fatima, the cardinal emphasized, "reminds us that Heaven cannot wait!"
Cardinal Bertone finished his homily by praying that Mary "teach us how to offer Heaven to earth," by showing Christians how to believe, worship, hope and love with her. May Mary "show us the way towards the kingdom of Jesus, the ways of spiritual childhood," he said.
Lisbon, Portugal, May 13, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - On Wednesday Pope Benedict set aside protocol and ignored security measures in order to greet a group of children gathered at the entrance of the Bethlehem Palace in Lisbon, where the Holy Father had met with artists and cultural leaders.
According to the official website for the Pope’s visit to Portugal, the incident occurred when the vehicle in which the Pontiff was riding briefly stopped and the Pope got out to greet the children.
“He got out of the car and walked towards the children. The people went crazy and began running towards the Pope,” said Auxiliary Bishop Carlos Azevedo of Lisbon, the coordinator of the visit.
Upon returning to the Apostolic Nunciature, the Pope met with Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, who was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luis Amado, and the Minister of the Presidency, Pedro Silva.
Benedict XVI gave Socrates a Rosary as a gift.
Later, Socrates remarked that the meeting showed Portugal has “excellent” relations with all religious confessions, and he described Benedict XVI as an “educated and friendly” man.
San José, Costa Rica, May 13, 2010 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica is demanding that the right to freedom of expression of Bishop Jose Francisco Ulloa of Cartago be respected after he was sanctioned by the country's Electoral Supreme Court for telling Catholics to vote in accord with their faith.
On May 3 the court ordered Bishop Ulloa to pay damages for telling Catholics not to support political policies that go against Christian principles and said he violated article 28 of the Constitution, which says members of the clergy cannot engage in political propaganda for religious motives. The bishop was sued by members of the Movement for a Secular State.
The Costa Rican Bishops’ Conference warned that “this exception to freedom of expression found in paragraph 3 of article 28 in the Constitution is a form of hateful discrimination, which must be reformed in accord with the universal doctrine of Human Rights.” The bishops also expressed their solidarity with Bishop Ulloa and his actions to defend his rights.
They rejected the court’s decision, saying Bishop Ulloa was fulfilling his mission as a pastor to provide guidance during a political season. “He never imposed his opinions on the faithful, nor did he say that ignoring them would be a sin,” the bishops said.
During the Mass last September, Bishop Ulloa told the faithful, “We are facing a political campaign in which we must carefully choose who is going to govern us. We are now finding out which candidates deny God and defend principles that go against life, marriage, and the family. Therefore, we must be coherent with our faith and cannot give them our vote in good conscience.”
In their statement, the Costa Rican bishops also criticized a request by the court that Archbishop Hugo Barrantes of San Jose, as president of the conference, instruct the other bishops to “remain within the boundaries outlined by this resolution, during future electoral cycles.” As president of the country's bishops' conference, they said, he does not have the jurisdictional authority over other bishops in their dioceses to implement such a request.
The bishops reiterated their “respect for the Costa Rican legal order, which is informed by the doctrine of Human Rights and Natural Law.” They also reaffirmed that they will not back down in their mission to proclaim the Gospel, “preaching the absolute value of Human Life, the values of the family and the Social Doctrine of the Church in fidelity to Christ and to our nation.”
Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In an audience with social workers in Fatima on Thursday afternoon, the Holy Father urged them to apply the wisdom of the Church's teachings to their causes. Among those initiatives he praised for helping build a "civilization of love" were those aimed at combating abortion—legalized in 2007—and the expected approval of same-sex "marriage."
Pope Benedict met with members of a variety of organizations dedicated to social causes at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Fatima on Thursday afternoon. The Catholic and non-Catholic partipants were also accompanied by employees and collaborators from the Fatima shrine.
After exhorting those working in "the vast world of charity" to be like the Good Samaritan and like Christ himself in considering love as the foundation for their actions, the Holy Father told the diverse group that discernment of how to address the crises of today should be guided by "a creative proposal of the Church's social message."
Amidst the current socio-economic, cultural and spiritual context, he said, studying the Church's social doctrine "will make possible a process of integral human development capable of engaging the depths of the human heart and achieving a greater humanization of society."
In addition to intellectual knowledge, the Pope said, it is a matter of wisdom, "which can provide creativity, a sort of flavor and seasoning, to the intellectual and practical approaches aimed at meeting this broad and complex crisis."
The Holy Father underlined his hope that that Church institutions, working with all organizations from outside the Church, would "perfect their theoretical analyses and their concrete directives ... (which are) capable of leading to that civilization of love, whose seed God has planted in every people, in every culture."
He commented later on the difficulty of combining our spiritual lives and apostolic activity in a satisfactory manner because of cultural pressures that influence the projects and goals of service, threatening to empty them of "the motivation of faith and Christian hope which had originally inspired them."
"The many pressing requests which we receive for support and assistance from the poor and marginalized of society impel us to look for solutions which correspond to the logic of efficiency, quantifiable effects and publicity," Pope Benedict noted.
Despite these pressures, the Holy Father insisted that the combination of spiritual lives with apostolic activity is "absolutely necessary, if you are to serve Christ in the men and women who look to you."
Urging Catholic organizations in particular to exhibit their identity and to ensure the independence of Christian charitable activity from politics and ideologies, he told them that all services provided must "be crowned by projects of freedom whose goal is human promotion and universal fraternity."
Pope Benedict XVI also addressed issues that have been prominent in Portugal, namely, the approval of abortion up to 10 weeks in 2007 and the expected approval of same-sex "marriage."
Pointing to abortion and changing the definition of marriage, the Pope said:
"I express my deep appreciation for all those social and pastoral initiatives aimed at combating the socio-economic and cultural mechanisms which lead to abortion, and are openly concerned to defend life and to promote the reconciliation and healing of those harmed by the tragedy of abortion. Initiatives aimed at protecting the essential and primary values of life, beginning at conception, and of the family based on the indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, help to respond to some of today’s most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good.
"Such initiatives represent, alongside numerous other forms of commitment, essential elements in the building of the civilization of love.
The bill aimed at legalizing same-sex "marriages" was passed by parliament in February with the support of the left-wing parties, which are in the majority. President Anibal Cavaco Silva has until May 17 to decide whether to sign the bill into law or exercise his veto power. If the president vetoes the bill, the parliament is expected to override him.
The Holy Father concluded his words to social workers by saying that "all this fits very closely with the message of Our Lady which resounds in this place: penance, prayer and forgiveness aimed at the conversion of hearts."
To read the Holy Father's full speech, click here.
Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - During the Pope's visit to Portugal, Bishop Antonio Marto of Leiria-Fatima presented him with the first official Rosary of Our Lady of Fatima. The Holy Father thanked him for the gift and led the thousands gathered at the Shrine of Fatima in the recitation of the Rosary.
Kneeling and praying the Rosary, the Holy Father recited the first half of the Our Fathers and the Hail Marys in Latin while the faithful responded in their own languages.
In a press release regarding the gift, the Shrine of Fatima explained that the Rosary is “made of gold, a noble metal … whose color evokes the sun, the symbol the Church associates with Jesus Christ.”
The beads for the Our Father are also made of gold, while those of the Hail Marys are made of topaz, which “allow the blue light of the heavens,” to pass through them.
The medal on the Rosary features an image of the three shepherd children before Our Lady of Fatima, explained the statement from the shrine.
Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 2010 (CNA) - Meeting with the bishops of Portugal late Thursday afternoon in Fatima, the Holy Father called them to rediscover their role as fathers. In this way, he said, they will be better able to provide a powerful witness to the world, guide evangelization, and lead priests and the laity.
The Holy Father's address took place in the House of Our Lady of Mount Carmel at Fatima and followed an address by the president of the Portuguese bishops, Bishop Jorge Ferreira da Costa Ortiga.
In his words, Pope Benedict highlighted the existence of a demand for a "new missionary vigor on the part of Christians" today, featuring a mature laity and authentic witnesses to Jesus Christ. The need is seen especially "in those human situations where the silence of the faith is most widely and deeply felt," he said.
This context, explained the Holy Father, is specifically "among politicians, intellectuals, communications professionals who profess and who promote a mono-cultural ideal, with disdain for the religious and contemplative dimension of life."
He asked for the bishops to be attentive in supporting those who, in such situations, defend the faith with courage, vigor and fidelity.
They should also be aware of overriding social and cultural elements to be able to address spiritual deficiencies and consider a "true desire for holiness" among those who work in evangelization.
The greatest way to attract people to the Jesus is "the encounter with believing persons who, through their faith, draw others to the grace of Christ by bearing witness to him," emphasized Benedict XVI.
In this respect, "The Church needs above all great currents, movements and witnesses of holiness among the ‘Christifideles,’ because it is from holiness that is born every authentic renewal of the Church ..." he said, citing the words of John Paul II.
The Pope recalled the joy he experienced at seeing the members of movements and new ecclesial communities at vespers on Wednesday and said that "thanks to their charisms," the Gospel, faith and tradition are being brought to the people.
He pointed out that the necessary condition for these "new realities" is that they desire to belong to the "one Church," being themselves fundamentally responsible for communion and obedient to bishops.
Referring to the specific charisms of the bishops, the Pope said they must "feel responsible for welcoming these impulses which are gifts for the Church and which give her new vitality," while also helping the movements "find the right way, making some corrections with understanding.
"This is precisely what you must foster or confirm in your priests," he continued, exhorting the Portuguese bishops to rediscover their role as fathers, recovering the "fervor of their origins, the joy of the initial Christian experience."
"For all too long the responsibility of authority as a service aimed at the growth of others and in the first place of priests, has been given second place," he observed.
"Only in this way will the fire of charity blaze strongly enough to impel every Christian to become a source of light and life in the Church and among all men and women."
The Holy Father concluded by asking the bishops, individually and as a conference, to "rekindle" their sense of mercy and compassion to better address needs in society, to be able to respond to "every form of poverty."
Washington D.C., May 13, 2010 (CNA) - The pro-Obama group, Catholics United, has launched a campaign putting pressure on Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley to allow the enrollment of a lesbian couple's adopted child in one of Boston's Catholic schools.
The Catholic elementary school in Hingham, Mass. decided to withdraw the acceptance of an 8-year-old boy's enrollment after the principal and pastor learned the child's parents were a lesbian couple.
Authorities at St. Paul Elementary School explained that the decision was aimed at protecting the boy, since the teachings of the Church regarding same-sex marriage are at odds with the lesbian couple's lifestyle.
“We still have an opportunity to put a stop to this. Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley has yet to take a position on the school's action. If he hears from enough of us, we think he could be convinced to do the right thing and reverse the decision,” urged the Catholics United web site.
“A couple of months ago, a Catholic school in Boulder, Colorado prevented a student from re-enrolling - just because his parents were in a same-sex relationship. We hoped this was an isolated incident. Sadly, it's not. Now an 8-year-old boy's acceptance to St. Paul Elementary School in Hingham, Massachusetts has been rescinded for the same reason,” Catholics United continued.
“Discrimination has no place in our nation's Catholic schools. Help us send a message that every child is worthy of a Catholic education, regardless of his or her family composition,” the statement said.
Catholics United has joined Family Equality Council, Dignity USA, Human Rights Campaign and other gay rights organizations to put pressure on Cardinal O’Malley.
The cardinal, who is currently accompanying Pope Benedict XVI in his visit to Fatima, has not yet intervened in the debate, however, the Archdiocese of Boston has announced it will try to accommodate the lesbian couple’s desire to enroll their child in another Catholic school.
Boston, Mass., May 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Archdiocese of Boston countered the decision of a local Catholic elementary school that denied admission to the 8-year-old child of a lesbian couple. Although the elementary school acted on the grounds that the parents' relationship is in “discord” with Church teachings, the Archdiocese of Boston, in the absence of Cardinal Sean O'Malley, said on Thursday that the archdiocese “does not prohibit children of same sex parents from attending Catholic schools,” and that it would help the couple find another Catholic school for their child.
On Monday, one of the child's parents, who remained anonymous, told the Associated Press that St. Paul Elementary school in Hingham, Mass. rescinded her son's application to attend third grade in the fall. Principal Cynthia Duggen and parish priest Fr. James Rafferty told the woman during a conference call that the boy could not attend as the parents' relationship “was in discord with the teachings of the Catholic Church” which state that marriage can only take place between one man and one woman.
However, in a statement on Thursday, Dr. Mary Grassa O'Neill, superintendent of Catholic schools in Boston, countered St. Paul's decision, saying that the “Archdiocese does not prohibit children of same sex parents from attending Catholic schools.”
“We will work in the coming weeks to develop a policy to eliminate any misunderstandings in the future,” she noted.
The archdiocesan decision was reportedly made during the absence of Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who this week was in Fatima, Portugal for the Holy Father's apostolic visit.
“The Archdiocese of Boston is committed to providing quality Catholic education, grounded in academic excellence and the teachings of the Catholic Church, to the students at all of our schools,” O'Neill continued.
“We believe that every parent who wishes to send their child to a Catholic school should have the opportunity to pursue that dream,” she added. “Our schools welcome children based on their parent’s understanding that the teachings of the Church are an important component of the curriculum and are part of the students’ educational experience.”
“Since the issue involving St. Paul School in Hingham was brought to our attention on Tuesday of this week, we have met with the pastor and principal to learn more about their decision,” O'Neill explained. “Earlier today I contacted the student’s parent and expressed my concern for the welfare of her child.
“I offered to help enroll her child in another Catholic school in the Archdiocese,” the superintendent added. “She was gracious and appreciative of the suggestion and indicated that she would look forward to considering some other Catholic schools that would welcome her child for the next academic year.”
“Academic rigor, faith formation, Gospel values, strong character development, respect, and support are hallmarks of our schools,” O'Neill concluded.