Archive of August 12, 2010

Archbishop calls for qualified debate on legalization of drugs in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 12, 2010 (CNA) - This week, Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello of Antequera-Oaxaca, Mexico stated that in the country’s discussion on the legalization of drugs, the most qualified voices must be heard and the truth must prevail.

“Serious debate discovers serious gaps, weaknesses, irresponsibility and harm both in persons, the family and in society. It also expands viewpoints to include other alternatives and actions,” the archbishop said.

For this reason, he called for qualified voices to be heard and to avoid having a caricature of a debate in which powerful individuals, groups or organizations seek their own interests, “without regard for the harm they cause others or society itself.”

He added that “serious debate” is a “necessary tool for informing, educating and fostering responsible participation in society.”  Also, he said a debate on the legalization of drugs “would be an important aid so that those who must make decisions can stand on solid ground and have the sufficient means to make appropriate decisions and take appropriate actions.”

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Ruling against Prop. 8 makes marriage unconstitutional, Archbishop Kurtz says

Washington D.C., Aug 12, 2010 (CNA) - In an exclusive interview, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz spoke to CNA about the decision of District Judge Vaughn Walker to overturn California’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. Archbishop Kurtz remarked that the ruling against the proposition “in a sense … declared marriage to be unconstitutional.”

Archbishop Kurtz, who is the Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage and Family Life, stated in his interview with CNA that Judge Walker’s decision “to say that marriage as the union of one man and woman is now to be considered unconstitutional ... precisely because as he said, he could not find a compelling rational purpose for marriage,” could truly be considered "outrageous."

He also affirmed interviewer Dr. John Haas’ statement that, “in a sense, he has declared marriage to be unconstitutional, because there is no such thing as ‘gay marriage’,” since true marriage requires a man and a woman.

Describing the implications of the ruling, Archbishop Kurtz recalled a reaction he heard to it, saying, “marriage has simply become a governmental registry of friendships. It’s simply looking at adult friendships and turning them in a sense into what we call marriage.”

The archbishop also noted that the Catholic Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage is based in the natural law and not on the popular vote or on polls. However, he did mention that in every single state where marriage has been “brought before the people, they have all confirmed, in every state, the fact, the conviction, that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

It is still imperative to fight for marriage, Archbishop Kurtz declared, saying also that the Church must continue her efforts to pastorally support married couples “so that they could live the fullness of their married life.”

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Cardinal Zen hopeful situation in China will improve for Catholics

Rome, Italy, Aug 12, 2010 (CNA) - The Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, said this week he hopes the situation for Catholics in China will improve despite the religious freedom difficulties that exist in the country.  He added that the testimony of the faithful amidst widespread repression is fundamental for the future of the Catholic Church there.

According to L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Zen recently accompanied a group of nine Chinese Salesian sisters at Pope Benedict XVI’s general audience at Castel Gandolfo. Regarding the situation for Catholics in China he said, “It is important to follow the guidelines laid out by the Pope in this 2007 letter to Catholics in China,” which still has not been widely read due to government repression.

The future of the Church in China depends on the silent but efficacious testimony of Catholics in country, the cardinal continued.

Referring to the Salesian sisters, Cardinal Zen said, “The fact that they live amidst the people and are committed to ordinary tasks gives particular weight to their testimony.”

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California judge renders Prop. 8 ineffective after August 18

San Francisco, Calif., Aug 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A California judge who ruled last week against Proposition 8 – a measure that defined marriage as between one man and one woman in the state – denied a motion today by traditional marriage supporters to stay his ruling while the case is on appeal.

Instead of granting the stay, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled on Thursday that Proposition 8 will be rendered ineffective as of Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. Pacific time.

On Aug. 4, Judge Walker ruled that Proposition 8, an initiative which passed in November 2008 with the support of seven million Californians, both “unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.”

The constitutionality of Prop. 8 was challenged immediately after it was approved in 2008. The Aug. 4 ruling is being appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and may make it to the U.S. Supreme Court. The group defending the law is with assistance from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). filed a request for a stay of the Aug. 4 decision with Judge Walker, which would have kept Proposition 8 in effect while its sponsors appealed the case in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

However, Judge Walker ruled today that in “deciding whether a stay is appropriate, the court looks to four factors.” These factors include “whether proponents have made a strong showing that they are likely to succeed on the merits,” whether “proponents will be irreparably injured absent a stay,” whether “the stay will substantially injure other interested parties and “whether the stay is in the public interest.”

“Because proponents fail to satisfy any of the factors necessary to warrant a stay,” said Walker, “the court denies a stay except for a limited time solely in order to permit the court of appeals to consider the issue in an orderly manner.”

Reacting to the news on Thursday, ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Jim Campbell said that the “ legal team will appeal immediately to the 9th Circuit to stay the trial court’s decision until this case is concluded.”

“This case has just begun, and ADF and the rest of the legal team are confident that the right of Americans to protect marriage in their state constitutions will ultimately be upheld,” Campbell added.  “It makes no sense to impose a radical change in marriage on the people of California before all appeals on their behalf are heard.” 

“If the trial court’s decision is eventually reversed, refusing to stay the decision will senselessly create legal uncertainty surrounding any same-sex unions entered while the appeal is pending,” the ADF attorney said of Judge Walker's decision.

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Mothers who killed babies are guilty of homicide, not abortion, judges tell feminists

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 12, 2010 (CNA) - The Supreme Court of the Mexican state of Guanajuato rejected claims by the feminist organization Centro Las Libres that six women convicted of killing their newborn infants were imprisoned for illegal abortions. The judges explained that the babies were “born alive” before “their mothers deprived them of life.”

According to the newspaper El Universal, four of the justices told reporters that the six women “sentenced to three decades in prison, are guilty of the crime of homicide,” not abortion. “They added that the “children were born alive, breathed, and their mothers deprived them of life.”

“Judge Alfonso Fragoso Gutierrez said that in each of the six cases, medical examinations showed that ‘the baby was alive and that there was an action on the part of the mother that provoked death’,” the newspaper reported.

One of the babies “was thrown into a toilet and left to die, and others were asphyxiated by obstruction of their respiratory airways.”

Chief Justice Raquel Barajas Monjaras rejected any likelihood that the cases would be re-opened but said an analysis by the United Nations could possibly be permitted.

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Benedict XVI's monastic characteristics may be helping ties with Orthodox Church

Rome, Italy, Aug 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Speaking to the Italian magazine 30 Giorni (30 Days), Dominican Fr. Charles Morerod said that Pope Benedict's way of carrying out his ministry leads to his being liked by the Orthodox Church. It is a question of his being similar in nature to the Orthodox bishops, he observed.

Fr. Charles Morerod is the general secretary of the International Theological Commission and rector of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, known as the Angelicum, as well as a member of the joint commission for theological dialogue with the Orthodox Church for the last five years.

His commentary on the Pope's relations with the Orthodox Church came at end of an interview with 30 Giorni in which he spoke extensively about the positions of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches as they approach the next round of talks about the primacy of Rome in meetings this September.

Asked if he had noticed that there was a "particular sympathy and attention" towards Pope Benedict XVI from the Orthodox Church, Fr. Morerod said it is something he has seen as he visits with representatives from different Orthodox Churches.

"They have a great esteem for him, maybe also because they see in him a monastic type of figure, and all the Orthodox bishops are monks."

Contrary to the common erroneous vision other Christian faiths have of the Pope as "everything" to Catholics, Fr. Morerod said, actually, "if the Pope does not put himself forward, if he repeats only that which he has received, if he remains a little hidden behind his ministry, this on its own helps ecumenism.

"A Pope who, in exercising his ministry, puts 'as little as possible' of his (personal considerations) into it and concentrates on the essential is destined to be liked more by the Orthodox," the Dominican priest commented.

Relations with the Russian Orthodox Church are considered to have reached a high point this year with Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev's visit to the Vatican last May. The metropolitan, Patriarch Kirill's "minister of the exterior," batted around the possibility at the time of a landmark visit between the the Patriarch and the Pope.

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Lay Eucharistic ministers not entitled to position, Archbishop Burke clarifies

Vatican City, Aug 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The rights of girls and Catholic lay faithful to carry out certain roles on the altar are not prescribed as "rights" within the Church, according to the Church's top legal authority, Archbishop Raymond Burke. The statement came in a clarification he wrote about the consequences of the reintroduction of the Latin Rite Mass by Pope Benedict.

The Catholic Church of Germany recently printed a commentary on the application of Benedict XVI's 2007 motu proprio, "Summorum Pontificum," which made Pope St. Pius V's Latin Rite Mass more widely available. In the preface of the volume, printed for the third anniversary of the motu proprio, Archbishop Raymond Burke clarified some confusion about the legislation's practical use.

Archbishop Burke is the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, which is often described as the supreme court of the Catholic Church.

According to Vatican Radio, the archbishop explained in the preface that due to the motu proprio's papal origins, it is not just an act of legislation brought about as a "favor" to a specific group for the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Mass in Latin, but one that applies to the entire Church.

Archbishop Burke wrote, "it is about a law whose finality is the protection and promotion of the life of all the mystical body of Christ and the maximum expression of this life, that is to say, the Sacred Liturgy."

It implies an obligation of the Church "to preserve liturgical tradition and maintain the legitimate celebration of both forms of the Roman Rite, that preceding the Second Vatican Council and that which followed it," he said.

Archbishop Burke pointed out that the Holy Father himself explained that for the communion of the Church in the past and the future, "universally accepted uses of uninterrupted apostolic tradition" must be observed.

This, he he pointed out should be done "not only to avoid errors, but also to transmit the integrity of the faith, so that the law of the prayer of the Church might correspond to her law of faith."

The American archbishop went on to point out that certain elements may need to be clarified in this regard. For example, he wrote, among the "rights" of the baptized, assistance by "persons of the feminine sex" at the altar is not included. Additionally, serving as a lector or as an extraordinary distribution of communion is not a right of the laity, he noted.

As such, out of respect for the integrity of the liturgical discipline within the Roman Missal of 1962, these more modern modifications are not observed in the extraordinary form.

This clarification comes just a week after L'Osservatore Romano writer Lucetta Scaraffia published an article on the altar server pilgrimage to the Vatican which drew thousands of boys and girls alike. She drew some attention as she proposed that the introduction of girls into the position of serving at the altar "meant the end of every attribution of impurity to their sex ... it meant a different attention to the liturgy and an approach to the faith in bringing it near to their very hearts."

Archbishop Burke clarified, however, that the reality of the matter is that neither the presence of girls at the altar, nor the participation of lay faithful "belong to the fundamental rights of the baptized."

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Spain offers World Cup victory to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Spanish Royal Federation of Soccer (SRFS) offered the World Cup trophy Spain recently won to Our Lady of Guadalupe at the basilica in Mexico City.

During the emotional ceremony, the president of the SRFS, Angel Maria Villar, presented to trophy to Msgr. Diego Monry, fulfilling a promise made during his last visit to Mexico. The Spanish officials were accompanied by the president of the Mexican Soccer Federation, Jacinto Desio de Maria, and other members of his staff.

In his homily, Msgr. Monroy Ponce emphasized the human values that sports foster in society and proposed that they are a vehicle for the creation of spiritual strength.  “An effort of this dimension not only has do to with winning but also with spirituality,” he said.

“We are very happy that the Spanish Royal Federation of Soccer has fulfilled its desire before Our Lady of Guadalupe, the mother of all. Don’t forget that when she appeared to the Juan Diego, she clearly told him, ‘I am your mother,’ which makes her the mother of the entire mixture of the Indigenous and Spanish cultures,” he added.

“Every time I have come to Mexico, I have visited the Basilica. When I came to sign the agreement for the match in Mexico I went to Mass and I prayed for one thing, to be world champions.  I am selfish—you’re not supposed to ask for those things and the mother of God granted it to me,” Villar said.

Spain and Mexico will match up for a game in celebration of the Bicentennial of Mexico’s independence.

Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to an peasant man named Juan Diego in 1531, just a few years after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. After he told the local bishop of his vision, the image of Our Lady appeared on his tilma. This miracle led to the conversion of Mexico. 

Juan Diego was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

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Climate expert: International weather emergency alert system needed

Rome, Italy, Aug 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The world community should establish a shared alert mechanism for weather-related emergencies, urged an Italian climatologist on Thursday. In light of the recent spate of major weather-related natural disasters, L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) has published his call for the developed world to step up and assist those without satellite and radar capabilities in the detection, warning and management of naturally-caused emergencies.

Flooding in Pakistan over the past two weeks has caused great loss of life and possessions among the people of the Swat Valley and joins numerous flooding disasters in China, Afghanistan, several African regions and Poland in recent days.

In an article printed in the Vatican newspaper's Thursday edition, famed Italian climatologist Franco Prodi noted that science is still uncertain if today's disasters are more intense on average than those in the past.

He also noted that while the role of climate change is being evaluated, there is something that can be done right now. What is needed at this point, Prodi said, is a centralized weather alert system for all nations.

There is a "common schema" to risk management across the world, noted Prodi, which includes, in the medium-term, predicting the possibility of floods through satellite and radar observation, and on a shorter term integrating all available statistics to give updates, provide danger alerts and eventually assist in emergency management.

Observing that these capabilities are not available in all at-risk areas, he pointed out that a "good part" of the capacity to predict, monitor and manage a natural disaster is "centralizable because of the enormous possibility of teledetection" by nations with the resources.

Therefore, these capabilities "should be implemented by a world body that provides for local deficiencies," Prodi underscored. This process, he said, should start with the centralization of precipitation intensity estimates.

"A global center with these characteristics of alert for risks and aid to local civil protection could be of great help to countries which still lack their own effective structure." It must come about, he concluded, "to anticipate the management of disasters ... and usher in an era of a less energy-consuming development, more respectful of the environment and of other living beings."

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Planned Parenthood strips affiliation from San Francisco-based clinic network

San Francisco, Calif., Aug 12, 2010 (CNA) - Citing a failure to meet standards, the abortion provider Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) has disallowed its San Francisco-based affiliate network from calling itself “Planned Parenthood.” The network also faces a shortfall of donations and compensation from the California state government.

Planned Parenthood Golden Gate (PPGG), which was founded in 1996, operates facilities in San Francisco, Oakland, Hayward, Rohnert Park, San Mateo and San Rafael. It also has a “satellite clinic” in San Francisco called the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center.

The Golden Gate affiliate must stop using the Planned Parenthood trademark as of Sept. 3, California Catholic Daily reports.

A PPFA representative said that the affiliate had failed to uphold the “standards and guidelines” required of affiliates, adding that the details of the situation were confidential. The spokesperson told the San Francisco Chronicle that the revocation of the franchise was “very unusual.”

PPGG interim CEO Therese Wilson said that the recession had cut its fundraising revenues in half. She also blamed the “budget quagmire” of the California state budget. PPGG will soon stop receiving reimbursements from the state for Medi-Cal until a state budget is approved.

Wilson told The Bay Citizen that Planned Parenthood was “not as attentive to its financial situation as it should have been.” She also remarked to the Chronicle that the organization wishes the national organization would have been “a little bit more supportive.”

PPGG reported that it will continue to operate its existing facilities under a different name and has launched a contest among its employees to come up with a new moniker. Wilson claimed the change in affiliation will reduce paperwork required from patients and will free the organization from having to pay national dues.

At the same time, PPFA has opened up the organization’s territory to its affiliates Planned Parenthood Mar Monte and Planned Parenthood Shasta-Diablo. Leaders with both affiliates have expressed interest in expansion.

Planned Parenthood Golden Gate’s Redwood City clinic recently shut down, reportedly as part of a consolidation effort. The organization also launched an “iPad Scavenger Hunt” for new patients and current patients who “refer a friend.”

Other affiliates of Planned Parenthood in California have been named in a lawsuit charging that the organizations overbilled the state and federal governments more than $180 million for birth control drugs. One of the lead witnesses in the case is a former official with Planned Parenthood-Los Angeles.

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Apostolic nuncio to Haiti reports relief work continues in ‘chaotic’ times

Konigstein, Germany, Aug 12, 2010 (CNA) - The apostolic nuncio for Haiti has announced that the reconstruction of churches destroyed by the January earthquake should start early next year. However, he emphasized that the Church’s first priority must be helping the disaster victims in a “chaotic” situation further hampered by corruption and selfishness.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza spoke about relief work in Haiti during a visit to the international headquarters of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in Germany.

“First of all we have to look after the faithful, and then take care of the churches, which have to be built structurally better and safer,” he commented. As many as 70 percent of the buildings in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince were devastated by the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Thanking the charity for its support in the disaster and for its promise to support church reconstruction and educational programs, Archbishop Auza explained the situation in Haiti.

“The people are still traumatized. The parishes have been scattered, and over half the churches are destroyed,” he said.

Parish organizations built up over decades have dissolved after the disaster. While help is being provided, he said the situation is still “chaotic,” he told ACN News. “People have simply scattered. Some now live in camps, while others have moved out into the provinces. Others again have come into the city in search of work,” he added.

Schools will be a priority in reconstruction, the nuncio said, as this is an area where the Church takes her responsibilities “very seriously.” The Church provides over half of the schools in Haiti and according to the archbishop these are better than the state schools.

“For the Catholic Church, education and a Christian upbringing are the key to the true development of the country,” he remarked, lamenting a lack of funds for educational buildings and staff.

Archbishop Auza said that a lack of progress in reconstruction is due not only to lack of infrastructure and the collapse of government administration, but also widespread corruption. A selfish mentality still prevails, he reported.

The nuncio thanked ACN for its “indispensable assistance” in supporting pastoral work in Haiti, saying such work is needed to put people “back on their feet.”

ACN has received more than $5.1 million in donations for Haiti.

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Catholic university says it declined Obama appearance over logistics

Austin, Texas, Aug 12, 2010 (CNA) - As President Obama makes a fundraising tour for the Democratic party through Texas, St. Edward’s University has announced its decision to decline a White House request for the president to speak on campus. The college cited timing issues as the primary motive for its decision.

St. Edward’s University, which was founded by Fr. Edward Sorin of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the same priest who founded the University of Notre Dame, sits on a hill top in Austin, Texas. It reports enrolling around 5,000 students and a commitment to critical thinking, social justice and ethical practice.

When President Obama made his recent visit to Austin, the college was asked to be a venue for a presidential speech. However, the school declined the offer.

“St. Edward’s University is honored to have been considered a potential venue for President Obama’s recent visit to Austin,” said university spokeswoman Mischelle Diaz in a Wednesday statement. “Regretfully, it was not a good time for us to consider this. With the short notice provided – only 3 to 4 days – a visit of this importance and magnitude would have been difficult for a campus of our size.”

Diaz noted that a presidential visit “requires and deserves more resources than we were able to provide at the time.” She also mentioned that the university’s staff is busy preparing for the new school year in a variety of ways.

As part of their “thoughtful consideration” of the visit, Diaz noted that, since school is not yet in session, “the vast majority of our student body, and many faculty members, would not be present to participate in a presidential visit.”

Although some reports have drawn parallels between St. Edward’s University and the University of Notre Dame, which attracted the ire of many Catholics by honoring President Obama at its commencement exercises, Diaz informed CNA “as the statement explains, our reasons were logistical.”

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