Los Angeles, Calif., Aug 6, 2010 (CNA) - A federal judge’s decision overturning Proposition 8 relied solely on feelings and not God’s plan for human society, Cardinal Roger Mahony said on Wednesday. He added that the judge wrongly assumed that marriage is of human origin and can mean “anything any person wishes.”
Writing in a Wednesday statement, the Archbishop of Los Angeles responded to U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s ruling that Prop. 8, which restored California’s legal definition of marriage to be a union of a man and a woman, was unconstitutional.
The cardinal characterized the prime question as whether marriage is of divine or human origin.
“Judge Walker pays no attention to this fundamental issue, and relies solely upon how Prop 8 made certain members of society ‘feel’ about themselves,” Cardinal Mahony wrote.
He said that those who supported Prop. 8 did so because they “truly believe that Marriage was instituted by God for the specific purpose of carrying out God's plan for the world and human society. Period.”
The belief in marriage has been unanimous across cultures and histories and is “embedded deeply” into the spirit of human beings, he noted.
The cardinal further stated that Judge Walker was wrong to assume that marriage is of human and civil origin and “can mean anything any person wishes to ascribe to the institution.”
“The union of a man and of a woman in a life-long loving and caring relationship is of divine origin. No human nor civil power can decree or declare otherwise,” Cardinal Mahony wrote. “For many of us, we will continue to believe that God is the origin of marriage, and we will follow God's constant revelation to that effect.”
Nairobi, Kenya, Aug 6, 2010 (CNA) - Responding to voters’ approval of a new constitution, the Catholic bishops of Kenya professed respect for the outcome but urged that the constitution’s “flawed moral issues” be addressed. “Let us join together in prayer for a good constitution,” they said.
The bishops’ statement was released on Thursday at the Kenya Catholic Secretariat. It was signed by Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi and Chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference (KEC).
“We have urged the Kenyan people to pray for a good constitution, for a constitution that respects the right to life, safeguards religious freedom in its legitimate manifestations and upholds the family as the most important societal institution. We repeat this appeal to all the Kenyan people,” they commented.
The Catholic bishops had urged a ‘no’ vote on the grounds the new constitution would allow abortion and would establish Islamic courts.
“We respect the outcome of the referendum … However, truth and right are not about numbers,” the bishops continued, adding that their voice of moral guidance “should never be silenced.”
They said the Church desires to remain at the forefront of legal reform because “we all aspire to build a better society that will respect the rights of all and facilitate our economic, social and moral development.”
Most Kenyans recognized that the constitution was flawed but mainly differed over whether reform should take place before or after the vote, the bishops commented.
“We recognize and highly commend the peaceful way in which Kenyans have generally conducted themselves during the referendum voting process,” their statement concluded. “We ask Kenyans to make even greater efforts now to uphold the need for peace, love and unity in our relations as brothers and sisters to all other Kenyans.”
Merrimack, N.H., Aug 6, 2010 (CNA) - Scholars will explore Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body from several perspectives in the latest issue of St. Thomas More College’s academic journal, “Second Spring: an International Journal of Faith and Culture.”
Stratford Caldecott, editor of “Second Spring,” said in a press release from the New Hampshire college that John Paul II’s theology of the body “injected new life into the arteries of Catholic thought.” While the Church had previously spoken on marriage and sexuality, modern pressures and the advance of contraceptive technology “made it increasingly urgent to address the issues around sexuality in a new language and with a new frankness.”
John Paul II was a “great communicator,” in Caldecott’s view, but his thought sometimes needed to be explained. The editor criticized a tendency to over-popularize the late Pontiff’s teaching in a way that neglects its full implications.
“The Church’s teaching on sexuality goes to the heart of our nature as human persons and our supernatural calling: it is possible to see its full beauty and live it only in the presence of Christ,” he commented.
John Paul II’s teaching is in part a defense of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” which reiterated Christian condemnation of contraceptives and artificial birth control.
While the destructive effects of contraceptive use are easy to show, Caldecott said, it is harder to show that the teachings of Humanae Vitae result in “happiness and sanctity.” He expressed hope that the new issue of “Second Spring” will help readers gain a greater understanding of Church teaching and confidence to live according to it.
Articles in the latest issue include Caldecott’s “Gender as Sign of Trinitarian Love,” Mary Shivanandan’s “Spousal Nature of Feminine Beauty,” and “Virtues and the Communio Personarum” by Alan O’Sullivan, O.P.
The issue may be purchased through the Thomas More College website at http://www.ThomasMoreCollege.edu/Publications
Rome, Italy, Aug 6, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father's September visit "speaks of rapprochement" - that is, cordial relations - between the Vatican and the United Kingdom, explained the nation's ambassador to Holy See. Speaking to CNA, he said that the "principal symbolic moment" on the schedule of events, even for the state, is the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Birmingham.
U.K. ambassador to the Holy See, Mr. Francis Campbell, is employed by the Foreign Office, which, he explained, "acts as a bridge" between the British prime minister's office at Whitehall, the Holy See and its nunciature. Campbell's office ensures that the government is up-to-date on the Holy See's positions on important issues, which at the moment includes providing advice for drafting speeches and developing themes for the pending trip.
In the state's perspective, the Sept. 16-19 appointment is "a visit to the Church and to wider society," observed the ambassador. "This is our oldest diplomatic relationship," he said, recalling that state-to-state relations go back to the year 1479 when the papal envoy was sent by the British monarchy.
"It hasn't always been an easy relationship," he said, "and here is the Pope coming on a state visit as a guest of the Queen and there are some very poignant moments in that visit that speak of rapprochement, that don't say anything, but speak to it."
Ambassador Campbell cited an example of this in Pope Benedict's speech to 1,800 members of civil society in Westminster Hall, "the very same Hall where Thomas More was condemned to death."
In 1532, St. Thomas More resigned from his post as the Lord's Chancellor, unwilling to sign the the Act of Supremacy, in which the Henry VIII was to be recognized as the head of the church of England. He was put in jail and later condemned to death for high treason, professing his belief during the trial in the indissolubility of marriage, the supremacy of the pope, and the inviolable freedom of the Church in her relation with the state.
The fact that the Pope will be speaking in the venue where More was convicted "says an immense amount about how far we have come in Britain, where within the United Kingdom you can look back at what was a divisive event at the time, but you can look back with a shared perspective."
He brought up other elements of importance to the state in the Catholic Church's contribution to education, British society, and the provision of care of the elderly. "These are all facets to the life of Britain and to pluralism that Britain now is," he underscored.
Taking a look at the Pope's rigorous schedule, Campbell said that the meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at her summer residence in Edinburgh is a highlight. "Here you have an 83-year old Pope meeting an 84-year old monarch.
"When you just think of what they have been through, what they have seen and the fact that they're in these two world leadership positions, I think that's a very interesting moment."
The following day, there is "a very interesting sequence" of events that stands out on the agenda, according to the ambassador. Pope Benedict will visit Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace and, just after, meet with senior Catholic and Anglican bishops. The address to civil society at Westminster Hall and then the celebration of the evening prayer at Westminster Abbey with Archbishop Williams will follow.
Mr. Campbell underscored that Benedict XVI will be the first Pope to enter Lambeth Palace and also Westminster Abbey, which formerly belonged to the Benedictines. "So that sequence on that Friday afternoon from Lambeth Palace to the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey, ... when you think of the history, and you think of English history, what the Pope is walking through on that journey ... is very poignant and harbors a very significant ecumenical message."
But, he went on, "the principal symbolic moment will come on the Sunday when the Pope will beatify Cardinal Newman."
The fact that Benedict XVI has chosen to preside over the ceremony himself in Birmingham and that John Henry Newman is "a Catholic figure, an Anglican figure, an English figure, (and) a universal figure" lend importance to the occasion, he said.
Newman's contributions to the the idea of what a university is, his teaching on conscience and it's role in the modern mindset and his concept that Christian doctrine is dynamic and alive, pointed out the ambassador, make him a "universal figure, this figure beyond a single culture."
Campbell concluded, "He really played a very big role in Britain and Ireland in the 19th century and as such has a place and has a role in the history of our country."
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 6, 2010 (CNA) - This week, the president of the Mexican Institute of Sexual Orientation, Oscar Rivas, noted that current research in psychology affirms that children need a mother and a father, “in order develop best intellectually, emotionally and physically.”
“Much has been said about adoption but what has been omitted is that the right of adoption is the right of the orphaned child, a child who lost a father and a mother … and who rightly deserves the state to restore precisely what he lost, a father and a mother,” Rivas told reporters.
He noted that studies warn of the risks present in same-sex relationships and how they can affect children. “Thirty percent of children raised in a homosexual environment are more susceptible to suffering some kind of abuse, whether physical or sexual, compared to seven percent of children in heterosexual families.”
He continued, noting that, “45 percent of children have a higher level of stress compared to 15 percent of those raised in heterosexual families.”
Rivas noted that his data is from the Association of American Psychiatrists.
He went on to say that institutions like the American College of Pediatrics and the American Network of Pediatrics have opposed adoption by homosexual couples. In Mexico, the Mexican Association of Pediatrics has also affirmed that it is best that children have both a father and a mother.
Rivas underscored that while homosexual couples claim they can give love to a child, children need much more in order to be raised properly. For this reason, he added, the State “must decree which environment is best” for the raising of children.
New York City, N.Y., Aug 6, 2010 (CNA) - The Catholic League responded to the recent statement of author Anne Rice, who in 2008 announced that she had returned to the Catholic faith, but now says she is no longer a Christian but remains “committed to Christ.”
Group president Bill Donohue called the author's rejection of Christianity a “tragedy” in remarks issued on Friday.
On her Facebook page on July 28, Rice wrote that “Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity,”
The author added that it was “simply impossible” for her to belong to “this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.”
She said she had “tried” and “failed,” describing herself as an outsider.
“In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay,” continued Rice, whose son Christopher is a homosexual who writes for The Advocate, an “LGBT” monthly. “I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat,” she continued, also characterizing Christianity as “anti-science” and “anti-life.”
However, she still described her faith in Christ as “central” to her life.
In a statement on Aug. 6, Catholic League president Bill Donohue reacted to the author's comments, saying, “Anne Rice started as a believing Catholic; then she quit the Church; then she rejoined the Church; now she has quit again.”
“All of this is as amusing as it is sad, and would be of no interest to the Catholic League save for her parting shots at the Catholic Church,” Donohue explained.
“Rice said this week that when the American bishops opposed homosexual marriage, that was the 'last straw.' She offered, 'I didn't anticipate in the beginning that U.S. Catholic Bishops were going to come out against same-sex marriage,'” Donohue continued. “Did she think they would be silent on one of the most contentious moral issues of our day?”
“She said this week that 'I refuse to be anti-gay,' thereby separating herself from all those awful Catholic bigots,” the Catholic league president added. “But when she was asked two years ago on ABC-TV whether the Catholic Church condemns her gay son to hell, she said, 'I don't think anybody in my church would say that. I think our view is far more compassionate.' She got that right. But does she have any idea how she looks now?”
Commenting on an interview that the author had with a co-star from “The View,” Donohue said that “Rice told Joy Behar 'I myself am anti-abortion.' It didn't take long before the pro-abortion and anti-Catholic Behar snapped, 'You would deny other women the choice to have an abortion?' To which Rice said, 'I would not deny them the choice.' Yet in the same breath she added, 'I do think it's the taking of a human life.'”
“Rice came back to the Catholic Church in the 1990s,” but only recently found that the Church is opposed to same-sex “marriage,” Donohue noted. “She said in 2008 that Catholicism is not anti-gay, but in 2010 it was so anti-gay she had to quit.”
“She is pro-life, knows abortion kills, but sides with the agenda of Planned Parenthood. She wants Christ without the Christianity.”
“This is more than an odyssey,” Donohue concluded. “it's a tragedy.”
Rome, Italy, Aug 6, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The greatest moment in the tenure of the U.K. ambassador to the Holy See was the Pope's contribution to a British government-sponsored initiative to eradicate diseases in developing countries.
Ambassador Francis Campbell will be leaving in January for another overseas appointment, this time "further to the East," he said, noting that the exact destination will be made public "shortly." Reflecting on tenure in Rome which began in Dec. 2005 when he was just 35 years old, he said that the moment that stands out in his mind from his time as ambassador took place less than a year after his appointment.
If he had to pick a moment that rises above all of the great moments from the last five years, he commented, he would choose Pope Benedict's purchase of the immunization bond in Nov. 2006.
"He purchased the first bond for immunization and that scheme raised 1.6 billion U.S. dollars," the ambassador recalled.
The British government-initiated funding effort called the International Financing Facility for Immunization (IFFIm) was founded in 2006 to finance immunizations against polio, malaria and tuberculosis in the world’s 72 poorest countries, especially for children under 5 years old.
It was promoted within the GAVI Alliance, an organization composed of the World Bank, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many other partners to offer immunizations and work towards the U.N. Millenium Development Goal for child health.
Ambassador Campbell called it "a very innovative international development financing mechanism, to try to raise money in the here and now, so that we can immunize children ... now, rather than have a 20-year program which would come too late for a lot of children."
He said that the Pope's purchase had an impact as he was followed in the action by a number of other religious leaders, thus reinforcing, through the "symbolic" contribution, "the moral dimension" of the development financing mechanism.
According to a Bloomberg news report, the first six bonds were purchased at their $1,000 face value by the Pope, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Chief Rabbi, the Muslim Council of Britain, the Hindu Forum of Britain and the Network of Sikh Organizations.
Through a "big bang approach," made possible with the great amount of capital, diseases that have been eradicated or controlled in the developed world can be addressed on a broad scale in the developing world, said Ambassador Campbell
He noted that the Holy See was a "key partner" in the development of the concept of the immunization effort and when Pope Benedict bought the first bond, "for us it was a huge achievement."
Rome, Italy, Aug 6, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father will be making a pastoral visit to Italy's largest island in October. Local bishops are looking forward to the occasion which they predict will give new life to evangelization in the area, focusing on the Sicily's holy past and not on its present difficulties.
Benedict XVI will follow up trips to Carpineto Romano, Italy and the United Kingdom in the coming months with a visit to Palermo, Sicily on Oct. 3. He accepted the invitation of the Sicilian bishops, led by Archbishop Paolo Romeo, extended by letter in May 2009.
A new archdiocesan website for the visit lists the major events on the schedule. The Pope will celebrate an outdoor Mass followed by the Angelus which will be attended by a special delegation of local families, near the city's Mediterranean waterfront.
Picking up again after lunch, he will meet with clergy, consecrated and seminarians in the Cathedral of Palermo followed by an encounter with youth in Politeama Square.
According to a press release, during the visit, the people of Sicily wish to "show the Successor of Peter not only the history but also the current common commitment of the 18 dioceses for building the Kingdom of God."
The two most anticipated events of Pope Benedict XVI's one-day stay on the island are the Eucharistic celebration with a large presence of families and the youth rally, notes the archdiocesean release.
The communique also explains that "the churches of Sicily are already deeply committed to reasserting the dignity and the unique and irreplaceable value of the family, founded on marriage and open to life." The faithful there "have close to their hearts the destiny of the young generations often left to their own devices and in need of a specific educative attention."
The bishops of Sicily, concludes the statement, are "conscious" that the visit and the Pope's teachings will help to give the Christian community "renewed missionary drive, pushing them towards the arduous task of evangelization and the transmission of the faith to the new generation in such a complex and difficult time..."
A separate statement from the Archdiocese of Palermo notes Archbishop Romeo's words at a press conference to announce the occasion in which he drove home the theme of the visit.
"We want to present to the Holy Father and to the whole world the true face of Sicily, which is not at all just about the garbage emergency, Mafia and social problems, but about a history that our saints have marked."
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 6, 2010 (CNA) - Mexico’s Attorney General, Carlos Zamarripa Aguirre, clarified this week that there are no women in jail in the state of Guanajuato for the crime of abortion, despite contrary reports by feminist organizations.
Speaking to the Mexican Editorial Organization, Zamarripa called the reports by Veronica Cruz Sanchez of the Center for the Care of Women “malicious and unrealistic.” He said she is confusing “investigations” with criminal proceedings.
He also said that the claim that since 2000, 160 women have been “tried” for the crime of abortion, is false. He explained that over the past 10 years, 166 investigations have been carried out, which have resulted in various outcomes depending on the circumstances of each case.
Bogotá, Colombia, Aug 6, 2010 (CNA) - The president of the bishops’ conference in Colombia, Archbishop Ruben Salazar, stated this week that the bishops of the country and the Vatican have expressed their willingness to work together to end the South American country’s decades-long civil conflict.
Speaking to reporters, Archbishop Salazar stated that the conflict in Colombia is one of the “most sensitive” issues, but that any talks between the government and the guerillas “would be extremely positive.”
“If it is necessary that the Holy See intervene I don’t think there will be any problem. I was talking to the second in command at the Secretary of State in Rome and there is an intention is to support anything that leads to peace,” the archbishop said.
As soon as the official green light is given by Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos, the Catholic Church would begin to participate in efforts to initiate talks with the FARC.
New York City, N.Y., Aug 6, 2010 (CNA) - Responding to the Empire State Building's refusal to display lights in honor of Bl. Mother Teresa's 100th birthday later this month, the Catholic League is organizing a protest at the national landmark.
Media attention spotlighted the controversy caused by Empire State Building manager Anthony Malkin's refusal of a request by the Catholic League to light the iconic facility with the blue and white colors of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity on August 26.
“The Empire State Building (ESB) celebrates many cultures and causes in the world community with iconic lightings, and has a tradition of lightings for the religious holidays of Easter, Eid al Fitr, Hanukah, and Christmas,” Malkin explained in a statement June 9.
But, Malkin qualified, “As a privately owned building, ESB has a specific policy against any other lighting for religious figures or requests by religions and religious organizations.”
In a statement on Aug. 4, Catholic League president Bill Donohue countered Malkin's claims, saying that if “this were in fact true,” then “they would not have honored Cardinal O'Connor when he died; Pope John Paul II when he died; the Salvation Army; and Rev. Martin Luther King.”
The building has been lit with different color schemes in the past for stock car races, the introduction of blue M&M’s, and the Chinese Communist revolution, according to the New York Daily News.
Donohue noted that the “same persons who chose to stiff Mother Teresa decided to honor the Chinese Communist revolution last year, even though 77 million innocent men, women and children were murdered under Mao Zedong.”
“By contrast,” he added, “the U.S. Postal Service is honoring Mother Teresa with a commemorative stamp.”
The Catholic League president has personally written multiple bishops as well as parish communities in the greater metropolitan area in places such as Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Orange County, Rockland, Albany, and Camden among others.
Donohue said his letters are intent on “informing them of our protest demonstration at 6 p.m. on August 26 outside the Empire State Building on 34th Street and 5th Avenue.”
Lima, Peru, Aug 6, 2010 (CNA) - The director of the Population Research Institute’s office for Latin America, Carlos Polo, has harshly criticized the launch of a “national family planning program” for rural areas in the country’s Andean region.
Lucy del Carpio, the coordinator of Peru’s national strategy for sexual and reproductive health, presented the program, which promotes contraception as part of the National Family Planning Campaign targeting rural areas, in the city of Curahuasi.
Speaking to CNA, Carlos Polo said, “Some officials like Lucy del Carpio insist on prioritizing their ‘ideological’ prescriptions and have no idea of the needs of the people.” He also noted that the precise areas being targeted by these policies have the highest infant mortality rates in Peru.
Polo went on to point out that, in those regions, parents often suffer the loss of their children due to insufficient medical care. For the people who live in those areas and who depend on farming for their livelihood, “this is a double tragedy,” he stressed.
“While thousands are suffering from the winter cold in Peru, Lucy del Caprio is handing out contraceptives, which doesn’t surprise me because she has spent many years in government promoting contraception,” Polo said.
“The absolute insensitivity of officials who are committed to ideological agendas promoted by foreign organizations and whose mentality is not to do away with poverty, but to do away with the poor, is simply incomprehensible,” he declared.
San Francisco, Calif., Aug 6, 2010 (CNA) - The federal ruling which overturned California’s Proposition 8 cites a document by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, as evidence for the claim that religious beliefs about the sinfulness of homosexual relationships “harm gays and lesbians.” The claim is listed under a legal “finding of fact” and could win deference from higher courts.
Also cited as evidence of “harm” are other religions’ documents on the sinfulness of homosexuality and the wrongness of recognizing same-sex relationships.
The ruling, issued Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, overturned Prop. 8, the California measure which passed in November 2008 to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.
The legal decision listed as its 77th “finding of fact”: “Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.”
In a list of supporting citations, the ruling quoted a 2003 document issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), “Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons.”
“Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts as ‘a serious depravity’,” is the first CDF phrase quoted in Judge Walker's decision.
The document was signed in 2003 by the CDF’s prefect Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who was elected to the papacy in 2005.
The Prop. 8 ruling cited other passages from the same CDF document, apparently attributing it to the group Catholics for the Common Good. Quoted passages rejected the argument that homosexual unions are “in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan” and described the homosexual inclination as “objectively disordered.” The passages also describe homosexual acts as contrary to the moral law and “gravely contrary” to chastity.
The ruling of Judge Walker, who is reported to be homosexual, also cited the document’s statement that “legal recognition of homosexual unions … would mean … the approval of deviant behavior.”
In full, the passage reads: “Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity.”
The full CDF document cited Scripture verses and taught that Scripture does not permit the conclusion that all those who suffer from “this anomaly” are personally responsible for it. The document reiterated that men and women with homosexual tendencies are called to live “the virtue of chastity” and must be accepted with “respect, compassion and sensitivity.”
Other religious groups’ statements condemning homosexual acts and the legal recognition of homosexual unions were cited in the same section of the Prop. 8 decision. Among these groups were the Southern Baptist Convention, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Orthodox Church of America, the Free Methodist Church, and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
The ruling also cited testimony from opponents of Prop. 8 such as Stanford University Professor Gary Segura, who called religion “the chief obstacle for gay and lesbian political progress.” Segura also said that a supporter of Prop. 8 admitted that “religious hostility” to homosexuals plays “an important role in creating a social climate that’s conducive to hateful acts.”
Declared “findings of fact” play an important role in the appeals process.
CBS News’ chief political consultant Marc Armbinder, writing at the CBSNews.com blog “The Political Broadsheet,” said the ruling itself matters “less than the facts Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker finds.”
“The appeals court can consider the law de novo - from scratch. But it owes significant deference to Judge Walker's findings of facts -- which are, from the perspective of proponents of Prop. 8, pretty devastating.”
Princeton University law professor Robert P. George, writing in a Friday opinion essay at The Washington Examiner, said some of the ruling’s “findings of fact” were “dubiously labeled.”
Finding no. 77 in particular, George claimed, “takes aim at religious ideas per se.” He criticized Judge Walker for citing “the moral teachings of various religions” and not examples of religious speakers who incite harsh treatment of homosexuals.