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Archive of June 17, 2010

‘Mutual understanding’ marks meeting between Holy See and Israeli officials

Vatican City, Jun 17, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A plenary meeting between officials of the Holy See and the State of Israel on Tuesday was held “in an atmosphere of mutual understanding” to discuss relations between the two states.

The Bi-lateral Permanent Working Commission between the two states welcomed the “progress” accomplished by the Working Level Commission since the previous plenary meeting. According to the Vatican Information Service (VIS), the meeting agreed upon the next steps towards the fulfillment of the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel.

Some attendees of a December 2009 meeting between representatives of the two states had reported that the talks had stagnated. However, a January 2010 meeting was described as “useful.”

The agreement, signed in 1993, specifically refers to the negotiation of "a comprehensive agreement, containing solutions acceptable to both Parties, on unclear, unsettled and disputed issues, concerning property, economic and fiscal matters relating to the Catholic Church generally, or to specific Catholic communities or institutions."

The Holy See’s delegation was headed by Msgr. Ettore Balestro, undersecretary for Relations with States. The Israeli delegation was led by Daniel Avalon, deputy minister for foreign affairs.

The next plenary meeting is scheduled for December 6 at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The next “working level” meeting is scheduled for July 27-28.

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Catholic Church is not ‘finished’ because of sexual scandal, pundit says

New York City, N.Y., Jun 17, 2010 (CNA) - While the clerical sexual abuse crisis may have permanently damaged millions of people’s image of the Catholic Church, a historical perspective suggests that the Church is not “finished” and has faced much harder times of corruption and danger, a Catholic pundit has written.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat discussed the idea that the Catholic Church is “finished” in the Atlantic Monthly’s July/August 2010 issue, which featured “The 14 ¾ Biggest Ideas of the Year.”

“This was the year when the cover-up of priestly sex abuse, a long-simmering crisis for Catholicism, became something much, much bigger,” he wrote, noting various responses seeing it as another Watergate, a Waterloo, or Reformation.

Some said the Pope had to apologize, had to resign, or had to be arrested.

“No, nothing could save the Church: it was too corrupt, too compromised, too medieval, too anachronistic,” Douthat wrote, summing up the pessimistic view. “And now, at last, it was finished.”

“A little historical perspective suggests otherwise. The Church has been horrifyingly corrupt in previous eras and still survived,” he countered.

The corrupt churchmen of history would make disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law look clean, while the Church has survived enemies fiercer than atheist activist Richard Dawkins, like the Roman emperor Nero, Attila the Hun or the French polemicist Voltaire.

“But if the Church isn’t finished, period, it can still be finished for certain people, in certain contexts, in certain times,” Douthat reminded readers, saying that for millions of people Catholicism is “probably permanently” associated with sexual scandal rather than the Gospel.

“And as in many previous dark chapters in the Church’s history, the leaders entrusted with that gospel have nobody to blame but themselves,” his Atlantic Monthly piece ended.

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Orthodox rabbis condemn ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ proposal

Brooklyn, N.Y., Jun 17, 2010 (CNA) - Apologizing for two prominent Jewish Senators’ support for allowing open homosexuals to serve in the military, an Orthodox Jewish group representing hundreds of rabbis said the normalization of homosexuality and its political causes constitute “a rebellion against G-d” and are inherently intolerant towards religious believers.

Rabbi Yehuda Levin, official spokesman on family issues for the Rabbinical Alliance of America (RBA), on Wednesday issued a statement ahead of an expected vote to change the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that bars open homosexuals from service.

"Decent Bible-believing family people have been increasingly outraged by the cravenness of many politicians in their mad dash to turn timeless values on their heads, by advancing homosexual adoption, domestic partnerships, civil unions, 'marriage,' and 'Heather Has Two Mommies',” commented Rabbi Levin, referring to a children’s book about same-sex parents.

The rabbi said the “next slice of the salami” was the “koshering” of homosexual activity and of homosexual culture throughout the U.S. military. This constitutes “a rebellion against G-d” and demoralizes both military and civilian society, he commented.

“We condemn the inherent antipathy, intolerance, and even belligerence towards the essential religious liberties of Bible-adherents,” he continued, worrying that “politically correct ‘equality’ fanatics” would single out “traditional Bible-believers.”

Changes to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy would “expedite our hurdling towards Sodom and Gomorrah” and “threaten to repel Divine Grace from our military's struggles,” Rabbi Levin claimed.

He called upon the Senate to filibuster the legislation, asking “all people of faith” to adhere to the RBA’s declaration that it is forbidden to vote for office-seekers who support the “homosexual agenda.”

The RBA says it represents about 850 Orthodox Rabbis from across the U.S. and Canada.

 

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Report shows $1 billion in US taxpayer money has gone to abortion industry

Washington D.C., Jun 17, 2010 (CNA) - A report released by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals over $1 billion in U.S. taxpayer money going to organizations that promote or provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood. Pro-life leaders have responded to these findings by calling for Congress to change their policies on federal funding.

The 33-page report was requested by Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas), and strongly supported by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the co-chair of the House Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, as well as other members of Congress.

The report discovered that six organizations connected to the abortion industry received over a billion dollars in federal funds between 2002 and 2009. The organizations include Planned Parenthood Federation of America, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Population Council of the United States, Guttmacher Institute, Advocates for Youth and Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America alone received $657.1 million in federal funding.

“A significant portion of federal taxpayer funding for domestic activities was provided through grants under the Title X program which provides grants for family planning,” stated Rep. Smith's press release. “This program provides a funding source that helps abortionists set up clinics that do family planning in one room and abortion in the next.”

At a news conference on Capital Hill this morning, Olson and Smith joined other members of Congress to discuss the GAO's findings.

“Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger said, 'The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it,'” said Smith.

“No one 'kills it' more efficaciously and in such huge numbers – over 300,000 dead babies each year – as Planned Parenthood Federation of America.”

Smith described how in one of her books, The Pivot of Civilization, Sanger “devotes an entire chapter to what she calls – 'The Cruelty of Charity' – and harshly condemns maternal healthcare as 'stupid cruelty' that only 'encourages the perpetuation of defectives, delinquents and dependents.'”

“Sanger’s anti-child, anti-human rights nightmare is today aggressively implemented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America with huge subsidies from U.S. Taxpayers – $657 million according to GAO between 2002-2008 alone,” he said.

“The most unsafe place for women and children today is Planned Parenthood’s 850 facilities. At Planned Parenthood clinics, in 2007 alone, 305,000 babies were either dismembered, chemically poisoned or starved to death by RU486.”

“Since Obama’s election, U.S. subsidies to the abortion industry at home and abroad, have significantly increased,” Smith continued.

“When Obama shredded the Mexico City Policy, he opened the floodgate of taxpayer funds to pro-abortion NGOs (i.e. International Planned Parenthood Federation) that perform and lobby for abortion worldwide. Making matters worse he increased funding available to those organizations by 50% - to $648,457 million.”

“It’s time for Americans and especially Congress to take a second look and defund it,” Smith concluded. “Defund Planned Parenthood – Child Abuse Inc.”

The GAO report has also elicited strong reactions from various pro-life leaders.

“Giving taxpayer money to organizations that promote and provide abortion, even if the money is not used for that purpose, frees up other funds for abortion purposes and gives the government's stamp of approval to their abortion related activities,” stated Ken Blackwell, Family Research Council Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment.

“By funding Planned Parenthood and their allies, we are unwittingly supporting an abortion organization and everything they do,” he said. “When taxpayer money goes to abortion groups for any reason, it supports the work of the abortion industry. We should not let abortion companies benefit financially from taxpayer funds.”

Blackwell urged Congress to “bring an end to funding for abortion providers by enacting the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act.”  He called the bill, which was introduced in early 2009 by Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, a “commonsense  bill which would simply ensure that funds go to organizations that are not in the abortion business.”

“Time and time again voters have said they do not want their tax dollars supporting this industry, yet Members of Congress defy their constituents by voting to channel tax dollars to abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a network committed to advancing pro-life women in the political process.

“Women, the unborn and the American people deserve better than this,” she said.

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German bishops weigh in on World Cup

Frankfurt, Germany, Jun 17, 2010 (CNA) - The German Catholic news website kath.de has created a special page on its site dedicated to the German bishops' hopes for the country's World Cup soccer team.

The page, titled “Weltmeisterschaft 2010 – So tippen unsere Bischofe” currently features Bishop Joachim Wanke of the Diocese of Erfurt and Bishop Norbert Trelle of the Diocese of Hildesheim.

Each bishop was asked two questions. “What chance does the German National Team have at the 2010 World Cup?” and “What do you associate with a soccer celebration such as the World Cup?”

“Despite the difficulties with the team’s formation, I hope that the German National Team will master the World Cup,” said Bishop Wanke. He added that he associates the World Cup with, “ideally, a fabulous summer.”

“The chances are good,” said Bishop Trelle. “I believe they will be among the final four, and if they catch ‘a good run,’ they can be the world champions.”

Bishop Trelle is pleased that the event is being held in an African country for the first time and hopes that this World Cup may “bear fruit for the development of South Africa.” He also hopes for “a peaceful celebration” with respect and fairness for people of all nations, so that the tournament be remembered as more than just a soccerfest when it is all over and done in a few weeks.

Germany beat Australia in the first round with a score of 4-0.

Worldwide, there have been no reports of friendly wagers between bishops as to the outcome of the games.

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Pope rethinks, clarifies and reinforces celibacy, asserts Vatican analyst

Vatican City, Jun 17, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Vatican analyst Sandro Magister published an article in which he detailed Pope Benedict’s teaching on priestly celibacy, a concept with which many have expressed discontent in face of the clerical sexual abuse scandals. However, the Pope’s June 10 explanation, which presents celibacy in a new light, was both hinted at and foreshadowed by two prior talks, Magister claims.

During a prayer vigil with 15,000 priests from around the world, Pope Benedict answered the questions of five priests from five different continents. His response to one priest in particular was the focus of Magister's column. Responding to a question by a priest from Eastern Europe, Pope Benedict explained the meaning of priestly celibacy. “And he did so in an original way, departing from the current historical, theological, and spiritual literature,” wrote Magister.

“It is clear from this that one of the cornerstones of this pontificate is not a distancing from clerical celibacy, but its reinforcement,” he added. Quoting from the Pope’s open letter to world bishops from March of 2009, Magister noted that one of Pope Benedict’s priorities is “to make God present in the world and to show men and women the way to God.”

Magister also recalled a speech addressed to the Roman curia on December 22, 2006, in which Pope Benedict said, “The great theme of my journey to Germany was God.” And while the Church “must speak of many things,” her true theme is God, and from the ordering of all things toward God comes the importance of all other church teachings. “Moreover, the great problem of the West is forgetfulness of God,” said the Pope. “This forgetfulness is spreading.”

In that address, Pope Benedict declared that “the true foundation of the priest's life, the ground of his existence, the ground of his life, is God himself.” Making reference to the sixteenth psalm, which was once a part of the rite of ordination, he also explained how the priest’s property or possession is not of this world. As David said, “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup, you hold my lot,” so does the priest acknowledge that he, like the tribe of Levi, does not live off the land, but rather off the Lord.

Thus, “The priest must truly know God from within and thus bring him to men and women: this is the prime service that contemporary humanity needs.” When God is no longer central to a priest’s life, he loses his zeal, explained the Pope. Chastity, he continued, “can only be theocentric. It cannot mean being deprived of love, but must mean letting oneself be consumed by passion for God and subsequently, thanks to a more intimate way of being with him, to serve men and women, too.”

This speech, declared Magister, is a reminder of the Pope Benedict’s dedication to the clergy. And it is because of this understanding of the role of the priest that the Pope declared the Year for Priests and to propose “exemplary figures like the Holy Curé of Ars.”

The Pope’s remarks last Thursday only confirm this dedication and this understanding of celibacy, Magister wrote. And they reinforce “an extremely coherent picture” of the role of the Church, which is “to lead men to God.”

As he spoke to his brother priests in St. Peter’s Square last week, the Holy Father explained that “celibacy is an anticipation.” To live the celibate life is to acknowledge the presence of God, the certainty of the next life, and the value of both.

In a world where the “now” of the present and tangible seems good enough, “celibacy is a great scandal, because it shows precisely that God is considered and lived as a reality,” Pope Benedict told the gathered priests. “With the eschatological life of celibacy, the future world of God enters into the realities of our time,” even though the material world would have any hint of the transcendent vanish.

The Pope contrasted celibacy with the modern notion of not getting married. The two are not at all alike, he said, and that is because celibacy represents a lifestyle of commitment, as does marriage. “Not getting married is based on the desire to live only for oneself, not to accept any definitive bond, to have life at every moment in full autonomy, to decide at every moment what to do, what to take from life; and therefore a ‘no’ to commitment, a ‘no’ to definitiveness, a having life only for oneself,” he explained.

Celibacy, on the other hand, “is a definitive ‘yes,’ it is allowing ourselves to be taken in hand by God, giving ourselves into the hands of the Lord, into his ‘I,’ and therefore it is an act of fidelity and trust,” said the Holy Father. “It is the exact opposite of this ‘no,’ of this autonomy that does not want to be obligated, that does not want to enter into a bond.”

And, “as the criticisms show,” concluded Benedict XVI, “celibacy is a great sign of faith, of the presence of God in the world.” He prayed that the Lord free priests from the secondary scandals such as their sins and imperfections so that they may continue to live the “scandal” of celibacy. Thus, by demonstrating their faith and trust in God, they may bring people to God.

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EWTN to celebrate families, legacy of Mother Angelica

Irondale, Ala., Jun 17, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - EWTN has announced it will hold its 2010 Family Celebration on October 9-10 at the Canton Civic and Cultural Center in Canton, Ohio, the hometown of Mother Angelica.

The event is free and will feature speakers including EWTN’s “World Over” anchor (and Mother Angelica’s best-selling biographer) Raymond Arroyo; “Journey Home” host Marcus Grodi; Dr. Ray Guarendi, host of EWTN Radio Network’s “The Doctor Is In;” and Mother Assumpta Long of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, whose order hosts the EWTN children’s catechetical series, “Truth in the Heart.”

“Bookmark” host Doug Keck will emcee the event.

In addition, participants of the event on Saturday night will have the opportunity to take part in a special live show celebrating Mother Angelica’s life and legacy, which will feature all of the speakers as well as select members of the audience.

EWTN President & CEO Michael P. Warsaw will also be present for the popular “Family Talk,” along with Deacon Bill Steltemeier, Father Anthony and Father Joseph Mary Wolfe.

Children at the Family Celebration will be entertained by “Roamin Catholic” host Rob Wahl and his sidekick, Pete the Penguin, as well as Brother Leo from “Hey Brother Leo.” All will be located at the “EWTN Faith Factory” booth throughout the course of the weekend.

Doors will open at 8 a.m. for the celebration, which will include opportunities for confession and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

More information can be found at http://www.ewtn.com/familycelebration.

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Argentinean bishop condemns mid term abortion, stresses that Church 'cannot remain silent'

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 17, 2010 (CNA) - An Argentinian Bishop condemned a court ruling allowing a local woman who was  five months pregnant to undergo an abortion, stressing that the “Church cannot remain silent because her vocation is to defend man against everything that degrades him.”

The abortion was carried out last weekend in a hospital in Mar del Plata after doctors said the child had no chance of surviving after birth.

In a statement, Bishop Juan Alberto Puiggari of Mar del Plata in Argentina condemned the act questioned if the dramatic nature of the situation led those involved to forget that an innocent human life was at stake.

“Can the gravity of the case justify the deliberate taking of an innocent human life at the beginning of its existence? Should the pressure that such difficult circumstances cause exempt us from defending the first of all human rights, which is life, and reminding administrators and health care workers of the grave responsibility they have to care for that life?” the bishop asked.

“The great contradiction of today’s culture is that on the one hand we proclaim human rights but on the other we violate the rights of the most defenseless,” Bishop Puiggari said, adding that the country’s Constitution establishes the protection of life from the moment of conception.

“As a Church we are aware of the suffering of a mother who finds herself in such a painful and dramatic situation, but we also know that the consequence of an abortion is a wound in the heart that is difficult to heal.”

“We must not judge anyone, and much less on the basis of the faith,” the bishop qualified. “But it is good to remember that the administration of justice is only just when it is exercised in conformity with the truth and the moral good.”

Reaffirming the inalienable right to life, Bishop Puiggari said women who are in crisis pregnancies need a commitment from society to reach out them and provide them the means they need to face their difficulties and overcome them.

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Soccer has 'enormous potential for evangelization,' remarks Chilean bishop

Santiago, Chile, Jun 17, 2010 (CNA) - In a letter released by the Bishops’ Conference of Chile, Auxiliary Bishop Cristian Contreras Villarroel said the vast majority of soccer players are men of faith and that they have an enormous potential to evangelize.

Before the World Cup match between Chile and Honduras, Bishop Contreras pointed out that many players “enter the field making the Sign of the Cross,” and do the same when they score a goal.

“In these gestures there is an enormous potential for evangelization."

He suggested that the Church reach out to soccer players and coaches and establish a special ministry for sports. “Sports - soccer in particular - do enormous good for the comprehensive development of the person,” he added, saying “every seminarian and priest should be involved in some kind of sport, even if it just riding an exercise bike, as in my case.”

The prelate also warned that soccer fans can go overboard with their devotion to their teams.  He remarked that while there are positive aspects of being a member of fan club, the violence that sometimes breaks out between different fans must not be tolerated.

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Director General of the Legionaries meets with Pope Benedict

Vatican City, Jun 17, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict received Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, the Director General of the Legionaries of Christ, in a private audience this morning, reports the Vatican Press office.

A statement posted on the Legion's website said that during the meeting, the Pope assured Fr. Corcuera of his prayers and “extended his greeting"  and apostolic blessing to all members of the Legion and Regnum Christi.

The reunion comes in wake of a May 1 communiqué which was released after the Pope met with members of the Legion's apostolic visitation. The communiqué announced a series of measures to be taken such as the appointment of a pontifical delegate and an apostolic visitation of the consecrated members of Regnum Christi.

The Vatican has not yet appointed a pontifical delegate to the Legion.

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Secretary Clinton praises religious freedom ambassador nominee

Washington D.C., Jun 17, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Earlier this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the nomination of Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook for the position of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

Though Secretary Clinton lauded the nominee's “impressive record of public service,” some critics are concerned that Dr. Johnson Cook has no experience in international affairs. One critic added that “there is very little grace” for on the job training “when it comes to international diplomacy.”

Dr. Johnson Cook is the current pastor of Bronx Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in New York City  and founder of the Worldwide Wisdom Center. She also served as an advisor on President Clinton’s Domestic Policy Council and Chaplain to the New York Police Department.

“I welcome the nomination of Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook to be Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom,” wrote Clinton on Tuesday. “Dr. Johnson Cook is an experienced religious leader with a passion for human rights and an impressive record of public service.”

“President Obama could not have found a more fitting choice for this important position,” the Secretary of State added. “I look forward to working with Dr. Johnson Cook, if she is confirmed, to bring greater focus to international efforts to ensure that people everywhere enjoy the global standards of religious freedom enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

The Washington Post reported that although the general consensus on the nominee is positive, there is concern among some that she lacks expertise in international affairs, specifically human rights work.

“There is very little grace allowed for OJT (on-the-job training) when it comes to international diplomacy,” Robert Seiple, former World Vision president and the first person to serve as religious freedom ambassador, told the Post.

Thomas Farr, a former diplomat who directed the office Cook will hold, weighed in on the issue as well Tuesday, saying that if “the Obama administration were taking this issue seriously, it would choose an expert in international religious freedom with experience in foreign affairs.”

“It would choose a proven leader who can change things at the State Department and re-energize our flagging (international religious freedom) policy,” Farr added. “Perhaps Rev. Cook will surprise the skeptics and prove to be that leader. I hope so, and will certainly do everything I can to help her.”

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Sports columnist laments poor coverage of World Cup player's Catholic faith

London, England, Jun 17, 2010 (CNA) - Soccer player Wayne Rooney’s recent comment that he wears rosary beads during soccer practice because he is Catholic has piqued the interest of sports enthusiasts who hope to hear more about his faith.

Rooney, who is a striker for England’s national team in the World Cup, was at a Wednesday conference with English journalists when a reporter asked about the rosary beads he wears around his neck during soccer practices.

According to the Mirror sports columnist John Cross, Rooney looked surprised and said “I've been wearing them four years now and you don't usually watch training. Obviously I can't wear them in games."

Asked why he wears them, the sportsman replied “It’s my religion.”

An FA press officer then stepped in and said, “We don’t do religion.”

Cross said it was “a shame” that the comment was interrupted, declaring that the fact Rooney is religious is of great consequence and interest. He noted that other players such as Jermain Defoe and Kolo Toure have spoken about their faith.

“It's interesting to me and I find it a shame that the topic was cut off before it could be explored,” the Mirror columnist wrote. “We live in an openly multi-cultural society, and yet it seems at times we're afraid to actually discuss those cultures in the open.”

Rooney displayed his rosary beads before the national anthems prior to the England-U.S. match.

Noting his enjoyment of religious education, the athlete has said that he might have been a priest if he had not been successful in soccer, the London Times reports.

Fr. Edward Quinn, Rooney’s parish priest in Liverpool, presided over his marriage to Coleen McLoughlin. He told the Times he thought Rooney’s wife provided the rosary beads.

“I have seen the pictures of Wayne wearing them and it doesn’t surprise me because both he and Coleen come from families with a strong Catholic faith.

“When I presided over Wayne and Coleen’s wedding in Italy, all of the guests received a set of rosary beads, so it is clearly a symbol which means a lot to them.”

The priest added that he believes it is good when high-profile figures demonstrate their faith “so clearly” because “it can only set a positive example that helps the Church.”

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After final arguments in Prop. 8 trial, Maggie Gallagher expects judge will overturn law

San Francisco, Calif., Jun 17, 2010 (CNA) - On Wednesday lawyers made their final arguments in a federal case challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8. While Maggie Gallagher, a major defender of traditional marriage said she expected the lower court to overturn the decision, she was confident of victory at the Supreme Court.

Prop. 8, a 2008 ballot measure which restored the definition of marriage to being between a man and a woman, has been challenged by same-sex couples who claim it violates their civil rights.

Theodore Olson, U.S. Solicitor General during the President George W. Bush administration, spoke on behalf of the plaintiffs.

He contended that the ballot measure was discriminatory against homosexual couples, arguing that tradition or fears of harm to unions between men and women were legally insufficient grounds, the Associated Press reports.

"You can't have constitutional discrimination in public schools because you have always done it that way," commented Olson.

He said the Supreme Court has allowed prisoners serving life sentences to marry. He argued that the courts have refused to make procreation a precondition of marriage, citing laws allowing divorce and contraception.

Charles Cooper, a former U.S. Justice Department lawyer, represented Prop. 8 sponsors. He said that cultures around the world, previous courts and Congress have all accepted the “common sense belief that children do best when they are raised by their own mother and father.”

"The plaintiffs say there is no way to understand why anyone would support Proposition 8, would support the traditional definition of marriage, except through some irrational or dark motivation," Cooper remarked, according to the Associated Press. "That is not just a slur on the 7 million Californians who supported Proposition 8. It's a slur on 70 of 108 judges who have upheld as rational the decision of voters and legislatures to preserve the traditional definition of marriage."

For his part, Olson argued that marriage is “the right of individuals, not an indulgence to be dispensed by the state” and that the right to marry has “never been tied to procreation.”

Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over the trial, pressed Olson on this point, saying supporters of Prop. 8 have argued that homosexuals can only have children with assistance from a third party.

“That is a difference,” said Judge Walker, who is homosexual.

Olson contended that this argument would only be constitutional if Prop. 8 supporters had proven that allowing homosexuals to “marry” was a threat to heterosexual relationships. He said this had not been proven.

Cooper argued that the plaintiffs opposing Prop. 8 had to prove that voters lacked justification for outlawing same-sex “marriage” and had to negate “every conceivable rational basis.” Warning of the fallout from a judicial decision, he urged the judge to avoid the “judicial tsunami they are asking you to sail into.”

Judge Walker asked the Prop. 8 supporters whether arguments similar to theirs were once used to keep interracial couples for marriage. He also inquired why the state did not refuse to recognize marriages contracted by infertile couples or by the deliberately childless if marriage was about procreation.

Cooper responded that it would be impractical to test for fertility or to require pledges to have children. He said that bans on interracial marriage “had no foundation in the historical purpose of marriage, and in fact they were at war with it.”

According to the Associated Press, Judge Walker appeared to consider whether he should declare Prop. 8 unconstitutional when public opinion appears to be moving toward accepting same-sex “marriage.” A premature edict could harden public opinion like the 1973 Supreme Court decision which instated permissive abortion laws nationwide, the judge explained.

Olson claimed that there is “a political tide running” and said a judge should not wait for polls before he can “break down this barrier and change this discrimination.”

Maggie Gallagher, former president of the National Organization for Marriage, which backed Prop. 8, said “the future of marriage in all 50 states” was at stake. Praising Cooper, she said he was right that the attempt to “shut down the debate by constitutionalizing gay marriage” will backfire.

“Americans have a right to vote for marriage. Ted Olson doesn't seem to understand the argument, and judging from today's exchanges neither does Judge Walker.

“I expect Judge Walker will overrule Prop 8,” commented Gallagher. “But millions of Americans do understand why marriage is the union of husband and wife and I believe the majority of the Supreme Court will as well."

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