London, England, Aug 5, 2010 (CNA) - A British pro-life group has criticized a ruling allowing the broadcast of a television advertisement by Marie Stopes International (MSI), one of Britain’s main abortion providers. The group characterized the commercial as an indirect and “dishonest’ ad for abortion.
The ad advised women who might be pregnant to contact the organization, the Daily Mail reports. It shows several worried-looking women in everyday situations with the question “Are You Late?” displayed at the top of the commercial.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), an independent regulatory agency, ruled in favor of allowing the ad to air.
“It was an ad for a general pregnancy advice service for women who wished to learn about and discuss their options, which might include, but were not limited to, abortion,” said the ASA, according to the Daily Mail.
Marie Stopes performs about 65,000 abortions a year in the U.K.
Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), said in a Tuesday statement that advertising abortion, even indirectly, is “indecent and dishonest.”
“The ASA says the ad is not offensive, thus ignoring the fundamental nature of the ad’s message which is: 'We can kill unborn babies'. This message is just as offensive as saying 'We can kill immigrants',” Tully charged.
He said the ASA’s contention that the ad does not advertise abortion is “simply casuistic,” adding that he thought it was “a great shame” that the agency did not act “more impartially.”
Tully called on British media secretary Jeremy Hunt to intervene to stop the ads.
SPUC has launched a nationwide leafleting campaign to pressure the government to intervene.
New Orleans, La., Aug 5, 2010 (CNA) - Efforts to help those affected by the Gulf Coast oil spill are running out of funds, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans has said in an urgent appeal. So far the charity’s action has helped almost 20,000 people for 90 days, but financial resources are almost “exhausted.”
Relief services have been provided along the coast at nine sites at a cost of over $100,000 per week.
“We are now spending our meager reserves to assist fishermen and fishing communities affected by the spill. We will not waver in our commitment to the people,” Catholic Charities co-president Gordon Wadge stated on August 3. “We believe supporters locally and nationally will come through for us and enable us to continue to provide the quality services that have allowed so many to cope and keep their lives together.”
Catholic Charities reported that the oil company BP provided $1.1 million in funding on May 18 for 30 days of service. The oil company approached the charitable agency because it was already delivering services and because BP believed its emergency response model was effective.
The charity said it worked closely with BP outreach staff and “leveraged” the corporation’s initial contribution to provide 60 days of service. However, its $1.8 million in funding, which included contributions from individuals and foundations, is now “exhausted.”
Catholic Charities co-president Jim Kelly reported that in late June the agency submitted a request to BP for $12 million in additional funding to serve seven civil parishes in coastal Louisiana. BP has discussed funding of necessary services in meetings with officials from affected states.
“The real danger is that our ability to put food on people’s tables, to counsel those in need, and to pay outstanding bills for fishing families with no income could come to an end,” Kelly added. “We have a covenant with these brave and hard working people, but our work is not sustainable without new funding.”
The charity reports it has provided emergency assistance to 19,577 people, including 7,960 families. It has distributed almost $600,000 in food vouchers and almost $79,000 in emergency food boxes from its affiliated ministry Second Harvest Food Bank. The food bank itself has distributed over 300,000 meals.
Other aid includes more than 1,000 packages of diapers and nearly $194,000 in other direct assistance and baby supplies to families. Mental health crisis counselors have also counseled over 6,000 people.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans is accepting donations at its website, http://www.ccano.org.
Washington D.C., Aug 5, 2010 (CNA) - Citing her previous references to the Incarnation, a journalist recently asked legal abortion supporter House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at what point she believes Jesus acquired the right to life. However, she declined to answer the question, saying she’d rather talk about the subject “in church.”
At a July 29 press briefing a reporter with CNSNews.com noted her remarks at the Catholic Community Conference on Capitol Hill, where she said that her favorite word was “the Word, as in the word made flesh.”
At the May 6 conference, Pelosi told her audience “you know the Gospel reference of the Word.” She added that people have to give voice to “what that means in terms of public policy that would be in keeping with the values of the Word.”
She cited the Prologue to the Gospel of John’s description of Jesus Christ, “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”
At last week’s press briefing CNSNews.com reporter Jane McGrath asked: “So, when was the Word made flesh? Was it at the Annunciation, when Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, as the Creed says, or was it at the Nativity when he was born of the Virgin Mary? And when did the Word get the right to life?”
Speaker Pelosi, a self-described Catholic, replied: “Whenever it was, we bow our heads when we talk about it in church, and that’s where I’d like to talk about that.”
CNSNews.com reports that it sought clarification from Speaker Pelosi’s press secretary Nadeam Elshami, asking in an e-mail what the speaker’s position is on the question “Did Jesus have the right to life from the moment of conception?”
Elshami replied in an e-mail “The speaker answered the question. Thanks.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Son of God assumed humanity and “made it his own, from his conception.” The Church also recognizes that the child has the right to life “from its conception.”
Speaker Pelosi favors legalized abortion and voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion.
Rome, Italy, Aug 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The pilgrimage that brought altar boys and girls to Rome en masse this week concluded on a high note at Wednesday's general audience. Bringing tens of thousands of young people together in what appeared to be a small scale World Youth Day, the event showed the true colors of Church and the communion of its youth.
The final tally of participants included well over 50,000 young people from at least 17 European countries, who took over St. Peter's Square during Wednesday's general audience with the Pope. The altar servers were seen dancing, singing and generally enjoying the culminating event of their pilgrimage to Rome, organized by the Coetus Internationalis Ministrantium (CIM).
Youth from each country represented were distinguishable by the color of their pilgrims' scarves. By far, the dominant shade seen in the square and all over the city in the last three days was the German participants' vanilla-colored scarves, one of which CIM president Bishop Martin Gächter offered to Pope Benedict XVI during the audience.
Austrian pilgrims with their yellow scarves were the second-most visible, while the 18 Lithuanians in pink and the six Albanians wearing blue were a much rarer sight among the over 80,000 total audience attendees.
More than 25,000 people who were not directly involved in the pilgrimage were also there to be with the Pope for a little over an hour.
Flags from Europe and many countries besides waved ceaselessly during the audience, which was described in the context of the greater pilgrimage by L'Osservatore Romano editor Gian Vian as an "extraordinary Catholic party."
The colorful and happy gathering resembled the World Youth Day 2010 celebration that drew 70,000 young people when Benedict XVI hosted the event in St. Peter's Square last March.
Many in the media have referred to the event as proof that the Catholic Church is strong even though it is enduring scandal.
However, Bishop Gächter, in his words to Pope Benedict at the beginning of the audience, commented on the meaning of the pilgrimage through the eyes of the youth. He said simply, "Here in Rome, we have learned to better know our communion of faith," a reality witnessed these days on the streets of the city.
Madrid, Spain, Aug 5, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - Pro-life associations in Spain said this week that a 6-5 ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court refusing to suspend the new law on abortion demonstrates how the legislation is “profoundly dividing Spanish society.”
The president of the Forum on the Family, Benigno Blanco, told Europa Press that since the law has taken effect, “Society is more defenseless in matters of rights and freedoms.” He noted that this is especially true regarding “the right to life of the unborn and the freedom of women to receive help when facing the issue of abortion.”
Blanco said the court should issue a ruling as soon as possible declaring “the unconstitutionality of the law.”
“The court needs to be reminded that a month has already passed and many abortions have taken place,” he added.
Jose Carlos Munoz, spokesman of the association Right to Life, also expressed regret that the court did not place an injunction on the new law, and called on citizens to engage in “legal and peaceful resistance.” He said the number of abortions as a result of the law will go up from 120,000 last year to 200,000 this year. Munoz also encouraged health care professionals to exercise their right to conscientious objection and said it should be a matter of policy that women inquiring about abortions be given information on alternatives and be allowed to see ultrasound images of the fetus.
In Madrid, the president of the Institute for Family Policy, Mariano Martinez, said the new law provides no help to pregnant women and no mechanisms to protect motherhood, and instead is focused on maximizing profits from abortion. He lamented the use of tax-payer funds to promote “the business of abortion clinics.”
Vatican City, Aug 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI asked God to welcome the dead and comfort the living after a tragic boat accident occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo last week.
A ferry boat capsized on the Congo's Kasai River on July 28, leading to the drowning deaths of at least 140 people, according to Fides news. Kinshasa's DIA news agency reported that a lack of regulations on waterways led to the tragedy and noted that "every year more than 2,000 of our fellow country men and women die this way."
Reacting to the news, Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone wrote to the president of Congolese bishops, Bishop Nicholas Djomo, with Pope Benedict XVI's condolences.
Remembering the victims, the Pope asked that the "God of mercy welcome the dead into his eternal light and bring comfort to the wounded." He also prayed that the families of those who disappeared "might have the courage and find support and assistance ... to get through this painful ordeal."
"As a token of consolation," wrote Cardinal Bertone, "the Pope asks God to make the abundance of His blessings descend over all."
The tragedy took place as the country celebrates its 50th year of independence, an event that discussed during Congolese president Denis Sassou N'guesso's visit to the Vatican last May.
Washington D.C., Aug 5, 2010 (CNA) - In an exclusive interview with CNA, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson explained that the priorities of the Knights of Columbus include defending marriage and the family as well as spreading the Gospel message to a culture that has rejected it. Anderson said that the strength of the fraternal organization comes from its values of charity, unity and fraternity, along with the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Reflecting on the fact that he consecrated his responsibilities as Supreme Knight to Our Lady of Guadalupe 10 years ago, and renewed that consecration during the Knights of Columbus Convention on Wednesday, Anderson told CNA that his inspiration was Pope John Paul II’s document on the Church in the Western Hemisphere, “Ecclesia in America.”
“It seemed to me the right time to dedicate the Knights of Columbus, which has always had a very strong devotion to Our Lady, to Our Lady under her title, Our Lady of Guadalupe,” he said. He also acknowledged the importance of expressing "the message that she brings ... in terms of pro-life, in terms of the family, and in terms of the poor and her general message of unity.” Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas and of the Philippines, places where the Knights have been in existence for over a century.
Anderson added that “for myself personally, there have just been many times where there might not be dramatic events but time after time, things just seem to go a little bit better or big problems seem to be avoided. I think it’s a result of her watching over the Knights of Columbus.”
The Supreme Knight also told CNA that the biggest challenge “in our particular culture” is the challenge of “secularization and even, at times, a very militant secularization.” Anderson noted that both Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul have dedicated a great deal of attention to the new evangelization. “We’re not talking about the Gospel in countries which have never heard it before,” he explained. “We’re now witnessing to the Gospel in societies which have had an experience of Christianity and now people are rejecting it.” The solution, he proposed, relies on the laity, and in that sense, on the Knights of Columbus.
Reflecting on the words of the Holy Fathers, the solution is to live an authentic Christian witness, the Supreme Knight declared. “The laity play a decisive role in that, because it is the laity that is called in their state of life, in their marriages, in their families, in their work places, in their social places, in their political places, to live an authentic Christian witness.” And thus, the Knights, with their principles of charity, unity, and fraternity, as well as with the theme of this year’s Supreme Convention, “I am my brother’s keeper,” are capable of doing this.
Lastly, Anderson related to CNA the importance of defending marriage, which he said is an anthropological issue. The problem, he asserted, is that the understanding of marriage “has been lost by many, many people, even Christians, who visualize, who understand the body, marriage, commitment, family, love, sacrifice, gift in secular terms, not Christian terms.” To clarify this misunderstanding, he said that the Knights will keep the defense of marriage a priority in the future by continuing to support the U.S. Bishops Committee on the Defense of Marriage, as well as the Knights’ “Family of the Month” and “Family of the Year” programs.
Anderson also noted that the Knights will continue providing informational materials on the vocation of marriage and the vocation to family life to their members.
Bogotá, Colombia, Aug 5, 2010 (CNA) - In an interview with Colombian radio, Guillermo Yelting recounted the story of his 23-year-old daughter Sara, who awoke from a 15 month long coma in April. Asked whether he ever considered letting her die, he replied that as long as his daughter was alive, he would not turn his back on her.
Yelting explained in the interview that his daughter's health began to deteriorate when she started experiencing neurological problems. She was hospitalized on February 8, 2009 and eventually lost consciousness and contact with reality.
However, when it seemed her health would never improve, Sara awoke and began to move her eyes and hands, bringing great joy to her family and boyfriend.
Her father noted that in April, Sara “suddenly opened her eyes.”
Yelting emphasized that it is necessary to be positive around the parents and family members of those who are in a coma or in similar situations. He also spoke of the importance of “never giving up” in the face of suffering.
Yelting recalled that he would tell his daughter, “you are my favorite, my champion, and you are going to be okay,” even though he was bombarded with the message, “that there is nothing left to be done.”
“While there is life there is hope, and I will not give up,” he added.
Washington D.C., Aug 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - After Solicitor General Elena Kagan was confirmed on Thursday as the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice, pro-life groups reacted to the move, with one calling it “deeply troubling.”
Fifty-year-old New York native Elena Kagan was confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 5 by a 63-37 vote which prevented a last minute delay or filibuster by Republican senators.
Kagan's lack of experience as a judge as well as her questionable stance on abortion has been a source of concern for pro-life leaders, many of whom reacted to the news on Thursday with alarm.
“Elena Kagan will emerge as one of the Supreme Court’s most agenda-driven, reliably pro-abortion Justices,” Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President & CEO of Americans United for Life Action said.
Commenting on what she believes to be a lack of thoroughness on the part of the Senate in evaluating Kagan, Yoest said that it “is deeply troubling that the Senate voted to confirm Ms. Kagan without fully investigating her role in manipulating medical evidence during the partial-birth abortion debate in 1996-97.”
“The American people want fair and impartial judges, and Justice Kagan’s negative impact will be felt for decades to come,” she asserted.
Adding to the criticism on Thursday was Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser who called Kagan's confirmation “tragic.”
“Today the Senate confirmed to the highest court a candidate without judicial experience and with a concerning history of promoting a pro-abortion agenda over the rule of law and the Constitution,” Dannenfelser said. “From the outset of the Senate hearings, the SBA List called upon Senators to hold Elena Kagan to the standard of interpreting the Constitution, as opposed to advancing a personal ideological preference.”
“Her confirmation is tragic news for women, the unborn and the American pro-life majority,” the SBA List president added.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins also commented on Aug. 5, saying that "Elena Kagan will bring a radical judicial philosophy and a history of sharp-edged political maneuvering to the nation's highest legal bench.
"She has shown repeatedly that she will do exactly what she says a judge should not - creatively reinterpret the written text of the Constitution according to her own convictions,” Perkins asserted.
Kagan is slated to be sworn into her lifetime position as the nation's 122th Supreme Court Justice this Saturday.
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Despite heavy opposition from various organizations defending traditional marriage, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that same-sex “marriage” in the country's capital city is constitutional.
According to the Associated Press, the court's justices acknowledged that while the constitution protects the family, it does not define what a "family" is.
The 8-2 vote went against an appeal by Mexico's attorney general challenging the constitutionality of the city's law allowing gay “marriage.” The law went into effect on March 4 of this year.
Next Monday the court will debate whether the law applies to the rest of the country and whether it includes the right to adoption.
Washington D.C., Aug 5, 2010 (CNA) -
The Knights of Columbus closed their 128th Supreme Convention today in Washington, D.C., approving several resolutions renewing the fraternal organization's commitments to defending life from conception to natural end, protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman, strengthening the family and defending the Holy Father.
“The Knights of Columbus renew our deep and historic commitment to oppose any governmental action or policy that promotes abortion, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and other offenses against life,” the first approved resolution states.
“We continue to speak out to our elected representatives about the need to enact legislation to oppose these practices and to protect human life in all its stages,” it adds.
The Knights also emphasized that they “support programs that provide women facing crisis pregnancies with alternatives to abortion, including adoption,” and reaffirmed their “commitment to building a ‘culture of life’ by promoting policies that favor the family.”
The world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization also backed their long-standing policy of not inviting to any Knights of Columbus event, persons, especially public officials or candidates for public office, who do not support the legal protection of unborn children, or who advocate the legalization of assisted suicide or euthanasia.” The ban on people who support abortion or assisted suicide also extends to the granting of awards or honorary positions within the Knights, and renting or allowing them to use facilities controlled by the organization.
The argument being advanced by some in the Obama administration that freedom to worship must be protected rather than the freedom of religion was also addressed by the assembly.
The Knights of Columbus recalled that “the full guarantee of religious liberty cannot be limited to ‘freedom of worship’ but must include full ‘freedom of religion,’ which necessarily encompasses the public dimension of religion, the freedom from persecution or discrimination on the basis of conscience and belief, and the fact that believers are called upon to play an active role in building the social order.”
“We will never waver in our efforts to promote the Church’s understanding of religious freedom as an inherent right of all; and that we remain steadfast in our support of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which declares that every person has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and that this right includes the freedom to manifest one’s religion in teaching, practice, worship and observance,” the resolution says.
During the final session, the Knights of Columbus also approved a resolution expressing “its profound gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI for his lifetime of dedicated service to Christ and his Church.
“We call upon the entire Order to express our solidarity with the Holy Father through a commitment to prayer, fasting and acts of charity for the intention that God may protect him from his enemies and grant him the courage and wisdom to guide the Church in these turbulent times,” the resolution states.
The Knights of Columbus “will never waver in its commitment to defend the Holy Father and assist him in his pastoral mission of bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world,” the group stressed.
Rome, Italy, Aug 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - According to the U.K. ambassador to the Holy See, Britain is "very proud" of its shared relationship with the Catholic Church. Despite critique and controversy, he told CNA in an interview that there is great interest in the Pope's visit this coming fall, and if people listen to his words closely, they might find that the Catholic Church is a "force for good."
Ambassador Francis Campbell, a practicing Catholic, has been the lead British diplomat at the Vatican since 2005. His time in Rome would likely have been limited to just four years if not for his commitment to the papal trip from Sept. 16-19, he explained as he met for an interview with CNA.
Commenting on the positive impact of the Pope's pending visit, Campbell said much can be accomplished for the U.K. "The figure of the Pope represents 17.5 percent of the world's population, it's a huge opportunity for Britain to say something to a huge section of the world community (with which), actually, historically there have been tensions.
"The fact that a Pope is coming to Britain on a state visit also speaks volumes about how far we have come in the United Kingdom," he added, noting that "the world is very different positively and negatively than when Pope John Paul II was there" in 1982.
Campbell said that "looked at on the whole, [it] is a tremendous opportunity for the United Kingdom and the Holy See to really point to a strong, shared relationship."
The U.K. government and the Church collaborate extensively, not only in Britain but all over the world, he said, pointing to areas such as education, elder and health care and achievement of the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals. And while the two sides do not see eye-to-eye on everything, even on the points of dissension they continue negotiating to see how they can reach common ground, the ambassador said.
"By and large," Campbell said as he assessed the relationship, "there are these areas of tension between the Catholic Church and the government in any country, and in Britain it's no different. And there have been issues in the past number of years about stem cell research, about quality legislation, and you could stand on those points of division and say there is animosity, there is distance, but there are other points of tremendous collaboration. School structure, for example."
Addressing the voices in the media that attempt to "inflate" obstacles to the Pope's visit, he said that naysayers have been there throughout the nation's history, and that they represent a part of "the fabric of British life," much like the openness that can be seen in British parliament discussions.
He pointed out that it would have been much like this also in the "world of Newman," the influential 19th century Englishman who will be beatified by the Holy Father on Sept. 19 in Birmingham.
Controversy and critique, explained the ambassador, are preferable to indifference in the context of the papal visit. "There's an active interest in where he's going for positive and negative reasons and an active interest in what he's going to say. Now, how people hear that will be very interesting. There can be many strong preconceived ideas of what the papacy is and what the Pope is."
Reflecting on a possible effect of the trip, he said, "when people will sit and listen, and if they listen genuinely with an open spirit, then they may well be surprised at some of the things the Catholic Church is doing. It is getting people to address these preconceived ideas they have and actually realizing that the Church is there as a force for good."
Campbell said that many times when he reads critiques raining blows on the Catholic Church or the Pope, he doesn't recognize his personal experience of the Church or the papacy in their descriptions. "I don't know where this description is coming from, but if you want to create a 'straw man' to knock it down, try to get an accurate picture.
"The Church is complex, it is large, it is global. And like any institution it has its pluses and its minuses, but, overall, we each have to answer the question as to whether or not it's a force for good in the world and international development, and climate change and disarmament … ”
"The Church is playing a very, very active part in the life of the international community and we in the U.K. are very proud of our track record of working with it."
Washington D.C., Aug 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Knights of Columbus announced today that to celebrate the Bicentennial of Mexico’s National Independence, the organization will hold a world-wide Rosary, which will be prayed on September 8.
During the closing of its 128th Supreme Convention in Washington D.C., the Knights of Columbus announced that as part of the festivities to celebrate Mexico's bicentennial, the Knights, the Archdiocese of Mexico City and the Institute of Guadalupan Studies will organize an event called the “Universal Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
According to the Knights, “The purpose of the event is to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe as the ‘Shield and the Patroness of Our Liberty’ and as the Mother of the Civilization of Love.”
During this event, on September 8, 2010, a special “Rosary of Guadalupan Love” will be prayed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. CST.
“The 'Rosary of Guadalupan Love' is a special prayer designed to connect the messages Our Lady of Guadalupe gave to St. Juan Diego with the seven sacraments of the Church and the Church as the sacrament of salvation,” the Knights explained.
“This event is to be celebrated worldwide, uniting in prayer the members of all Knights of Columbus councils and their families, and all dioceses of the universal Church throughout the world.”
The intention of the Rosary on that day will be “for Our Lady’s intercession with her son for unity and peace so that the new evangelization may bring about a flourishing of a Culture of Life among all continents and all peoples,” the fraternal organization concluded.