Archive of May 14, 2010

Eduardo Verastegui to host mega conference to benefit L.A. women’s center

Los Angeles, Calif., May 14, 2010 (CNA) - Manto de Guadalupe, a non-profit organization formed by Mexican Actor Eduardo Verastegui, will host a one-day Spanish-language “mega conference” and concert to benefit a new women’s medical center opening near downtown Los Angeles.

The event, titled “Unidos Por La Vida” (United for Life), is scheduled for May 23. It will feature performances by singers and actors such as Emmanuel Acha and his son Alejandro. Other speakers include actress Karyme Lozano, Manuel Capetillo, Gilberto Gless, Fr. Juan Rivas and Fr. Mariano de Blas.

Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director who is now pro-life, will also speak.

Proceeds will benefit Manto de Guadalupe’s latest project, a medical center for women in one of the most impoverished areas of Los Angeles. There are reportedly many abortion clinics in the area.

“My hope is that Guadalupe Medical Center will reach and help many women, children and families,” explained Verastegui. “It will be an oasis of life for those most in need.”

The event on Sunday, May 23 will take place from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

More information can be found at

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Archbishop encourages responding to same-sex 'marriages' with solid families

Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 14, 2010 (CNA) - During a Mass for Argentina’s bicentennial, Archbishop Mario Antonio Cargnello of Salta encouraged the faithful to combat gay “marriage” with a “commitment in support of the family.”

After warning against efforts to “redefine marriage, ignoring the best wisdom of man and God’s plan,” the archbishop said, “We need to respond by holding up the family born of the union of a man and a woman as the most healthy atmosphere in which in which the human person is born and develops.”

Likewise, Archbishop Cargnello said a greater commitment to education is needed, as well as to justice, as the country celebrates its bicentennial.

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Oregon bishop cautions against separating human dignity from immigrants

Bend, Ore., May 14, 2010 (CNA) - In recent column, Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon spoke on the controversial topic of immigration, saying that although a nation has the “duty” to protect its borders, “remaining in a country illegally” does not eliminate a person's human dignity, nor his or her right to be treated “as a brother or sister.”

On Thursday, Bishop Vasa framed his Catholic Sentinel article with a clarification on humans rights and the law in regard to immigration policies. “Just because something is 'legal,'” he explained, “does not mean that it is morally correct.”

“There are any number of examples from our own history and the histories of other nations where something 'legal' was grossly immoral and needed to be resisted,” the bishop noted. “I am not suggesting that the American 'immigration policy' is immoral but there seem to be some elements of injustice that permeate it and it is this injustice, whether legally sanctioned or not, the Church opposes.”

Though the prelate stressed that a country has the “right and duty to properly police its borders,” once illegal immigrants have crossed them, the Church is charged with the task of providing the same care for them.

If undocumented workers are “here and in distress then the church will provide comfort, solace and perhaps even sanctuary because that is what the church does,” he asserted.

“There may be some of this that is technically 'illegal,'” Bishop Vasa added, “but splitting up a family or sending a family-wage earner back to Mexico where he can no longer provide for his family is not in accord with what we are to do as members of a church.”

“It is not consistent with the dignity of human persons.”

Although there “is a form of injustice done to the American people when our borders are not respected,” he clarified, “there is also a possibility that a grave injustice could be done to an undocumented worker if too harsh a solution is enacted.”

Bishop Vasa underlined that although it is easy to identify all undocumented workers as “criminals,” this fails to distinguish between those who are here “peacefully and productively” versus those who are here for “criminal pursuits.”

“It is certainly not right for anyone to violate or seek to circumvent the immigration laws of this nation but unless we know all of the reasons and factors that led a person to the decision to come to this country or to remain illegally, I suggest that it is very dangerous for us to judge that person as a 'criminal'.”

The Oregon prelate then observed that “thinking about real, identifiable people, concrete human persons and human families, makes it much easier to see that those who cross our borders or remain here illegally are not necessarily evil or wicked men or women but simply people with human aspirations and longings and dignity.”

“Crossing a border illegally does not eliminate that person’s right to be treated as a brother or sister,” he concluded. “Remaining in this country illegally does not eliminate that person’s human dignity.”

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Dublin archbishop says Irish Catholics must acknowledge 'crisis of faith'

Dublin, Ireland, May 14, 2010 (CNA) - In a candid talk on May 10, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin discussed the current state and hoped for future of the Catholic Church in Ireland, addressing not only the recently surfaced clerical sex abuse cases but the underlying problem of Catholics within the country experiencing a “crisis of faith.”

In remarks to the local Irish Knights of Columbanus at Ely Place in Dublin, Archbishop Martin gave a blunt and thorough analysis of the problems within the Church of Ireland today and offered a few thoughts on what measures can be taken to strengthen and improve the community for the future. He especially underlined the need for a renewed, “parish-based” evangelization within Irish culture.
“On a purely personal level, as Diarmuid Martin,” he began, “I have never since becoming Archbishop of Dublin felt so disheartened and discouraged about the level of willingness to really begin what is going to be a painful path of renewal and of what is involved in that renewal.”

The most obvious reason for discouragement, the archbishop explained, “is the drip-by-drip never-ending revelation about child sexual abuse and the disastrous way it was handled.”

Although it is a fact that child sex abuse is more prevalent in other institutions, Archbishop Martin said it “should never appear in any way as an attempt to down play the gravity of what took place in the Church of Christ.” “The Church is different; the Church is a place where children should be the subject of special protection and care.” 

But the second “and deeper root of my discouragement is that I do not believe that people have a true sense of the crisis of faith that exists in Ireland,” the Dublin archbishop stated.

Citing statistics on falling Mass attendance rates, Archbishop Martin insisted that although the “world around us and the culture of Irish life have changed,” the Church “still continues in many ways to live in a way which fails to recognize that culture has indeed changed so much.” 

“Irish culture has drifted from being the culture of an enlarged faith community into a heavily secularized culture,” he noted. “For many, faith no longer plays a major role in their lives and they feel that this in no way compromises their ability to be good, honest and caring people.”

“Perhaps my greatest discouragement,” he continued, “comes from the failure of interaction between the Church and young people.”

“I inquire what is being done to attract young people to parish life and the answers are vague. Everyone knows that there is a missing generation and perhaps more than one, yet there are very few pastoral initiatives to reach out to young people,” he lamented.

Speaking on the future of the Irish Church, Archbishop Martin stated that the “Catholic Church in Ireland in the future will have to find its place in a very different, much more secularized culture, at times even in a hostile culture.”

The Church, said the archbishop, “has to look again at the dominant role it assumed in Irish society, while at the same time not renouncing its prophetic role in society and in the formation of consciences through opening to the teaching of Jesus Christ.”

“This will involve a much greater degree of parish-based catechesis and evangelization within our parishes,” he stated, underscoring that there is “no way that this will take place without a very extensive program of training for volunteer catechists, as is the case in most European countries. Parishes must become real center of on-going faith formation.” 

Archbishop Martin also stated that “Parishes must radically re-orientate themselves to become educational communities in the faith and understanding of modern communications is an essential part of that re-orientation.” The Irish prelate also stressed the need for a “radical new look at the formation of priests” within seminaries in the country.

“The agenda for change in the Church must be one that comes from its message and not from pressure from outside and from people who do not have the true good of the Church at heart.  We all have reasons to be discouraged and to be angry,” he noted. “There is a sense, however, in which true reform of the Church will spring only from those who love the Church, with a love like that of Jesus which is prepared also to suffer for the Church and to give oneself for the Church.”

“Thank God there are many who love their Church: lay persons, religious and clergy,” the archbishop said in his concluding remarks. “We love the Church because the Church is our home, the pace where we encounter the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ and where we gather in love to break bread in his memory.”

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Catholic League petitioning Empire State Building to honor Mother Teresa

New York City, N.Y., May 14, 2010 (CNA) - The Catholic League has launched a petition protesting the Empire State Building’s denial of an application to have the skyscraper’s lighting scheme commemorate Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday. The organization sees a double standard in the decision, citing previous honors for the anniversary of China’s Communist Revolution.

In February Catholic League president Bill Donohue submitted an application on August 26 to the Empire State Building Lighting Partners to have the New York City building feature blue and white lights, the color of the religious habits worn by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, Fox News reports.

The request was denied without explanation last week.

However, Donohue noted, the building changed its colors to red and yellow last year to honor the 60th anniversary of China’s Communist Revolution.

“Yet under its founder, Mao Zedong, the Communists killed 77 million people. In other words, the greatest mass murderer in history merited the same tribute being denied to Mother Teresa,” Donohue said in a Wednesday statement.

Calling on the Empire State Building’s owner Anthony Malkin to reverse the decision, he listed many of the religious sister’s charitable works and honors:

“Mother Teresa received 124 awards, including Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Freedom. She built hundreds of orphanages, hospitals, hospices, health clinics, homeless shelters, youth shelters and soup kitchens all over the world, and is revered in India for her work. She created the first hospice in Greenwich Village for AIDS patients.

“Not surprisingly, she was voted the most admired woman in the world three years in a row in the mid-1990s. But she is not good enough to be honored by the Empire State Building."

Donohue also noted that the U.S. Postal Service is honoring Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday by issuing a stamp dedicated to her.

The petition the Empire State building's owner reportedly had over 6,000 signers in its first day.

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Vatican spokesman not surprised by record Fatima Mass turnout

Fatima, Portugal, May 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Fr. Federico Lombardi, the spokesman for the Vatican, said it was not a surprise that hundreds of thousands of people were in Fatima for Pope Benedict's Mass at Fatima yesterday. He recognized a "vitality" in the response and commented on the Holy Father's observation that the prophetic mission of Fatima is not complete.

Estimates put the number of pilgrims in Fatima for Wednesday morning's Mass at around half a million between those who filled the enormous esplanade that sprawls before the Church of the Most Holy Trinity and the tens of thousands of others who joined in from the adjacent streets.

"The crowd of about 500,000 faithful that have participated this morning in the Mass celebrated by the Pope on the esplanade of the Shrine of Fatima is not a surprise," said Fr. Lombardi in an Avvenire newspaper report. He added, "for the Christian people, Papal trips are always occasion for a great mobilization."

Fr. Lombardi noted that there were more people there than in the times of John Paul II, who also was joined by thousands of pilgrims on May 13, 2000 when he celebrated the beatification Mass for Jacinta and Francisco and on two other occasions.

The Vatican spokesman pointed out that the recently surfaced sex abuse scandal could have led to the perception that the vitality of the Church and people's attention to the Pope had be been "obscured."

"But this did not happen," he said, "this vitality is not in crisis because of the discussions of months past, and the fact that the force of the faith manifests itself in such an evident way is very encouraging."

Included in the Pope's homily during Mass was the observation that the prophetic mission of Fatima is not complete because Mary's call to the faithful to offer themselves to God for the reparation of sins and conversion of sinners continues to be relevant.

Fr. Lombardi reflected on the application of Mary’s words to today, saying that in maintaining the prophecy of Fatima as current, the Pope sees it as a way of interpreting the contemporary world and events "in the light of the faith."

He added that those who read the reality of the 20th Century in the visions of Fatima are correct, "because that was the time in which the seers spoke, but, he qualified, " in a perspective of faith, this doesn't mean that the 'school of reading' the events is closed."

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Pope implores Catholics to join him in evangelizing

Porto, Portugal, May 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Celebrating Mass in Porto, where he had arrived from Fatima early this morning, Pope Benedict called the faithful to witness the Resurrection and be missionaries of Christ. He urged Catholics not to let anything prevent them from spreading the Gospel, because if the Church rests on its laurels “it would be sure death in terms of the Church’s presence in the world.”

The Holy Father arrived in Porto this morning by helicopter to celebrate Mass in the Square of the “Avenida dos Aliados di Porto” where he was joined by tens of thousands of faithful.

Recalling the words of Peter, who said to the disciples in the Upper Room after the Ascension that “one of these men must become with us a witness to His resurrection,” Pope Benedict XVI called all people to missionary action, imploring them, “you need to become witnesses with me to the Resurrection of Jesus.

“In effect,” he continued, “if you do not become His witnesses in your daily lives, who will do so in your place? Christians are, in the Church and with the Church, missionaries of Christ sent into the world.”

The Pope said that receiving and offering the Risen Christ to the world is the “indispensable mission of every ecclesial community,” so that “growth and life” might come from “weakness and death.”

As Peter recommended, continued the Holy Father, we must always be prepared defend the hope within us, without imposing anything and never ceasing to propose. This is what “everyone” asks of us, and from experience, “we know well that it is Jesus whom everyone awaits,” the Holy Father shared.

Pope Benedict also reflected on the mindset necessary for evangelization. Together with Christ, without whom “we can do nothing,” we are called to evangelize, he said. “We must overcome the temptation to restrict ourselves to what we already have, or think we have, safely in our possession: it would be sure death in terms of the Church’s presence in the world; the Church, for that matter, can only be missionary, in the outward movement of the Spirit.”

In communicating the Good News in today’s altered anthropological, cultural, social and religious frameworks, the Church is called “to face new challenges and is ready to dialogue with different cultures and religions, in the search for ways of building, along with all people of good will, the peaceful coexistence of peoples,” emphasized Pope Benedict.

Traditional geographical boundaries do not limit the mission, he added, therefore “not only non-Christian peoples and those who are far distant await us, but so do social and cultural milieux, and above all human hearts, which are the real goal of the missionary activity of the People of God.”

The Holy Father exclaimed, “Yes! We are called to serve the humanity of our own time, trusting in Jesus alone,” enlightened by his message that we have not chosen him, but he has chosen us.

The mission is given to us directly from Christ, he concluded, and “like the Church herself, which is the work of Christ and his Spirit, it is a question of renewing the face of the earth starting from God, God always and alone.”

To read the Pope's full homily, click here.

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Mexican state celebrates after court upholds protection for unborn

Queretaro, Mexico, May 14, 2010 (CNA) - Numerous organizations in the Mexican state of Queretaro celebrated a ruling by the State Supreme Court upholding legal protection to the unborn from the moment of conception.

The ruling ratified the constitutional reform approved by the Queretaro Legislature last September.

In a statement, Rafael Mendoza of the Transforming Forum of the Society of Queretaro, which is an umbrella group of 60 different organizations, said the constitutional protection for the right to life expresses the will of the majority of the forum's members.

According to Notimex, Mendoza said the defense of life from conception to natural death is demonstrated in the majority of the population with 59,000 notarized signatures sent to congress “as a sign of our resounding support for the reform of the state Constitution to explicitly include the principle of the defense of life in the constitutional text.”

Mendoza also noted that the reform allows for the exceptions that are established in law and that it is in keeping with the Mexican Constitution and the international agreements ratified by the country.

He pointed out that if a mother obtains an abortion, she would not go to jail but would rather be required to undergo counseling and perform community service. 

Queretaro is among the 18 Mexican states that have enacted constitutional reforms to protect the unborn.

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Pro-gay rights campaign launched in Chilean capital

Santiago, Chile, May 14, 2010 (CNA) - The movement, Homosexual Integration and Liberation in Chile, has launched an aggressive ad campaign on buses and billboards in the Chilean capital of Santiago in order to spread the idea that homosexual behavior is natural and to promote same-sex unions.

The campaign is expected to last one month and is being sponsored by the Dutch Embassy.

Homosexual activists intend to place ads on 40 public buses in Santiago that feature photos of gay couples embracing, along with phrases urging equality for homosexuals.

The promoters of the campaign said they hope to pressure the government into passing laws that “solve problems shared by all couples, whether heterosexual or homosexual.”

They claimed that the country’s bicentennial is the appropriate time to implement such changes.  “Chile has changed, there is more freedom, and this campaign symbolizes that for the sexual diversity movement,” they asserted.

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Only those who acknowledge Christ can be fair and just, says Lima cardinal

Lima, Peru, May 14, 2010 (CNA) - During a Mass for members of the judicial system, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne of Lima encouraged judges to acknowledge Christ, as only in this way can they seek “truth and justice, without being dominated by vengeance and resentment.”

The cardinal made his comments during Mass at the Cathedral of Lima on May 12 attended by Peru’s Attorney General, Gladys Echaiz Ramos, as well as other justice officials.

Cardinal Cipriani said judges must be make honesty the hallmark of their work so that they will always seek out “the truth, the defense of the law and of the rights of citizens,” along with the right to life.

In order to accomplish this task, the cardinal called on attorneys to “ask God to strengthen them in the truth so that they may fulfill their duties, especially during the difficult times affecting our country.”

“Strengthen us in the truth, calm our spirits, purify our intentions, unite our families, enlighten those of us committed to making Peru a more unified, just and honest family,” the cardinal said.

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Pope Benedict leaves Portugal with hope for renewal

Porto, Portugal, May 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father spent the final day of his Apostolic Visit to Portugal in the nation’s “second city” of Porto where the main event of the day was Mass in the main square. Upon his departure from the city this afternoon he thanked the country for its hospitality and said he hopes to see a renewal of the Church.

Arriving in the city after an hour-long helicopter ride from Fatima, where he had been since Tuesday afternoon, the Holy Father was met by the Bishop of Porto, Manuel Jose Macario do Nascimento Clemente, and local political and military leaders.

From the helipad, he rode in the popemobile to the city’s central Avenida dos Aliados di Porto Square, where he celebrated Mass. In his homily Pope Benedict called on Catholics to join him in being witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus.

At the conclusion of the Mass, he greeted the crowd from the balcony of the Porto municipal building, thanking them for the “festive and cordial welcome” they had given him.

Entrusting all the people, their communities, all services in place for the common good and especially universities to the protection of the Virgin Mary, he said that were it possible, he would have accepted the invitation to prolong his stay in the city.

Following his brief goodbye, he boarded the popemobile once again for the trip to the airport where he addressed those present, led by the President of Portugal, civil and military authorities and bishops.

Recalling the memories and moments of his pilgrimage to Portugal from the last four days, as well as the generous hospitality of the people, he thanked all those involved in the preparations for the visit. He also thanked the communications media for bringing coverage to those who were unable to be present.

He hoped for increased harmony in the nation and that it “continue to manifest greatness of spirit, a profound sense of God and an openness to solidarity, governed by principles and values imbued with Christian humanism.”

The Pope explained that in Fatima he had prayed for the world, asking for “increased fraternity and solidarity, greater mutual respect and renewed trust and confidence in God, our heavenly Father.”

Pope Benedict told the delegation of his joy at seeing the faith of the Portuguese Church, its faithful priests and its enthusiastic youth.

He hoped, in closing, that his visit “may become an incentive for renewed spiritual and apostolic ardour” and that “the Gospel be accepted in its entirety and witnessed with passion by every disciple of Christ, so that it may show itself to be a leaven of authentic renewal for the whole of society!”

Imparting his Apostolic Blessing on the people, he greeted dignitaries personally before boarding the papal plane for his return flight to Rome.

To read the Holy Father's departure speech, click here.

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Assassination plot by radical Muslims against Pope prevented

Rome, Italy, May 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Two Moroccan students who attended a university in the central Italian city of Perugia were expelled from the country last month after it was discovered that they were conspiring to kill Pope Benedict. One of them allegedly said he wished to “earn a place in Paradise.”

According to Italian weekly newspaper Panorama, conversations intercepted by Italian authorities led to the arrest and deportation of the two suspects.

The order for expulsion reportedly included the transcript of a conversation in which one of the students, Mohammed Hlal, said that he wished “death to the head of the Vatican City State” and was "ready to assassinate him to earn a place in Paradise."

The 26-year-old Hlal was speaking over the phone with 22-year-old Ahmed Errahmouni when he made the statements which earned them the attention of the local police and a trip back to Morocco.

They were deemed a “threat to national security” in the document signed by the Italian Minister of the Interior and expelled on April 29, Panorama reports.

According to an investigation begun last October by the Italian anti-mafia police, the two were known to have a radical vision of Islam and had expressed a desire to obtain explosive materials. It was reported that no material used to construct explosives was found in their residence hall rooms.

Hlal studied international communications, while Errahmouni was a student of math and physics at the University of Perugia.

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Tens of thousands to pack St. Peter's Square in support of Pope

Rome, Italy, May 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Answering the call from the Italian Bishops' Conference-promoted National Consultancy of Lay Aggregations (CNAL), thousands of people are planning on attending the Regina Coeli prayer in St. Peter's Square on May 16. The initiative aims to provide a visible sign of support, affection and gratitude for the Pope's ministry.

On April 14, CNAL, composed of 67 Italian ecclesial movements and associations, called upon its members and all people who wish to show their solidarity with the Pope to participate in the mid-day Marian prayer in St. Peter's Square this coming Sunday.

As of Friday, the president of the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI), Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, CEI secretary general, Bishop Mariano Crociata, and Rome's mayor Gianni Alemanno were all slated to attend.

In addition to these leaders, CNAL expects "several tens of thousands" to come from member associations, parishes, dioceses, schools and universities.

The Italian bishops' news agency, SIR, has reported a stream of declarations from associations across the nation announcing they will participate in support of the Holy Father. Church-based organizations such as the Italian Movement for Life, the International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe and the Renewal of the Holy Spirit, which has promised 10,000 participants, have pledged their presence.

Secretary General of CNAL, Paola Dal Toso, stated on Wednesday that those turning out in the square will not be limited to associations. "We expect groups, simple lay faithul or individual families to come from all of Italy," she said.

The original call for participation says that by coming together on Sunday, the faithful wish to bring themselves "visibly around Benedict XVI as sons with their father, desiring to sustain him in his challenging ministry, expressing affection and gratitude to him for his passion for Christ and for all of humankind."

Following the Regina Coeli prayer with the Pope, Cardinal Bagnasco will preside over Mass for participants in the Roman Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls.

Accompanying the call to St. Peter's Square this weekend is a text message initiative created by the television program “In His Image” from Italy’s RAI television. The program allows people to send a text message to Pope Benedict XVI.

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Christian schools have 'right' to exclude those who undermine religious values, says FRC member

Washington D.C., May 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - After a Catholic elementary school was recently corrected by the Boston archdiocese for canceling the admission of an 8-year-old student whose parents are a lesbian couple, a debate has ensued over the proper response of Christian schools to the admittance of children with same-sex couple parents.

Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council, argued on Friday that Christian schools have “every right to exclude from the school community those who seek to undermine their religious values.”

Earlier this week, St. Paul Catholic elementary school in Hingham, Massachusetts, withdrew admission for the upcoming year to an 8-year-old whose parents are a lesbian couple. Principal Cynthia Duggen and parish priest Fr. James Rafferty told one of the women 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.

In response to the situation, Sprigg said in a statement Friday that “is well established that the freedom of association includes the freedom of private organizations not to associate with those who do not share the goals of the organization.”

“This is especially true for religious organizations,” he added, “which have every right to exclude people whose beliefs or lifestyle contradict the moral and theological teachings of that organization.”

“Many Christian schools do not consider themselves to be in a relationship with the student alone, but with the student's parents as well, and they have every right to exclude from the school community those who seek to undermine their religious values.”

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