Tallahassee, Fla., Sep 22, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - After the 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday to overturn Florida's ban on homosexual couples adopting children, critics voiced concern stating that the presence of both a mother and a father are “not optional non-essentials in the lives of children.”
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced on Wednesday that the ban on adoptions by same-sex couples will cease immediately after the 3rd District Court of Appeals upheld a 2008 ruling by a Miami-Dade judge. According to the Associated Press (AP), the judge found "no rational basis" for the ban when she approved the adoption of two young brothers by a man named Martin Gill and his same-sex partner.
"I'm very pleased with the ruling on behalf of the Gills," said Gov. Crist on Sept 21. "It's a great day for children. Children deserve a loving home."
However, pro-family group Liberty Council reacted to the news on Wednesday and issued a statement saying that under “Florida law, adoption is a privilege and not a right and, as such, the state may make classifications in the adoption arena that may be constitutionally suspect in other areas. The decision to adopt a child is not a private decision but a public act.”
Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law said that “Common sense and human history underscore the fact that children need a mother and a father.”
“The Florida law seeks to ensure that children are placed in homes that have the potential of a mother and a father,” Staver underscored. “Homosexual adoption precludes children from having parents of both genders. Gender does matter to the well-being of children. Moms and dads are not optional non-essentials in the lives of children.”
In comments provided to CNA, Family Research Council senior fellow Peter Sprigg said that all “scientific data and academic studies demonstrate that the kids do best with married parents: one male, the other female. Common sense, Western history and Judeo-Christian moral teaching also affirm this.”
“Florida has today done grave harm to the well-being of vulnerable children who will be raised in homes with role models who cannot provide them with the true vision of what family life should be,” Sprigg added. “Political correctness has been given precedence over child welfare.”
Barcelona, Spain, Sep 22, 2010 (CNA) -
The Archdiocese of Barcelona has issued an appeal for additional volunteers to help out with Pope Benedict XVI's Nov. 6 and 7 visit to the city.
During his visit to Barcelona, the Holy Father will consecrate the Church of the Holy Family, which was designed by architect Antonio Gaudi, whose cause for beatification is ongoing.
Noting the importance of collaboration on the part of volunteers, the archdiocese said, “The organization of an event such as this involves numerous issues that must be addressed through the selfless collaboration of many people, both in the preparation beforehand up until the moment of conclusion.”
Javier Porro, the director of youth ministry for the archdiocese, said anyone between the ages of 16 and 36 is welcome to volunteer.
Vatican City, Sep 22, 2010 (CNA) - Responding to allegations of money laundering, the president of the Vatican bank told Vatican analyst Andrea Tornielli that "there's nothing hidden, nor (anything) to hide." The president said the bank hopes to be on the "White list" for banks that conform to international anti-money laundering policies by December.
President Ettore Gotti Tedeschi of the Vatican's Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), or as many call it, the "Vatican Bank," told Andrea Tornielli of the Italian daily "Il Giornale" that he feels "bitterness and humiliation" at the allegations made against him this week. He and the IOR are being investigated by Italian authorities for money laundering to the tune of $30 million.
The authorities seized this quantity after it was deposited by the IOR at the private Italian bank Credito Artigiano SpA, saying that the Vatican institution had not complied with an Italian anti-money laundering law from 2007 that requires the disclosure of information about account holders and beneficiaries.
A Tuesday statement from the Holy See's Secretariat of State responded to the allegations saying that the bank has a "clear desire for full transparency” and expressing confidence that the truth would emerge.
Gotti Tedeschi himself said that from the time he assumed the presidency a year ago, he has been working to make every operation "more transparent and in line with the international anti-money laundering guidelines."
He told Tornielli that they hope to be on the "White list" of countries that respect these international guidelines by December.
Of the $30 million transaction being investigated, he said that the money was sent by Credito Artigiano SpA to JP Morgan of Frankfurt simply for bond investments, from one IOR account to another.
Asked why the bank is being investigated for money laundering in that case, Gotti Tedeschi said, "(w)e are acting out the norms. In the case under investigation it was about an error in the procedures carried out with the Credito Artigiano (Bank). But the operation is very clear, there is nothing hidden, nor to (anything) to hide: just a transfer of funds from the same IOR."
The IOR president said that he has met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was "very concerned" about the matter, but has expressed support for him. Incredulous at the accusations of money laundering, Gotti observed that, "an error in procedure is being used as an excuse to attack the IOR, its president and in general the Vatican."
Assuring his continued cooperation with investigations, he said that the bank is willing to "furnish information, (but) it would be sufficient to ask us for it rather than slamming us on the front page."
Havana, Cuba, Sep 22, 2010 (CNA) - The coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya, has called on the European Union to support the Varela Project amidst the Cuban government's indifference to the changes that the country's citizens are requesting.
The Varela Project calls for democratic changes in country’s laws through a referendum.
“Changes mean rights and these rights are missing in Cuba, where many are persecuted for promoting the rights of Cubans and are imprisoned for this cause,” Paya said in a letter to one of Spain’s European Parliament representatives, Carlos Iturgaiz.
Paya noted that the “Common European Position” states that “the objective of the European Union in its relations with Cuba is to support a process of transition towards pluralistic democracy and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms, as well as the recovery of and sustainable improvements in the quality of life of the Cuban people.”
However, he warned that the Cuban government is not initiating the changes that the people want, and thus he called on the EU to be consistent in its “common position” by supporting the Varela Project and other civic initiatives. “These are the initiatives that you should support, in order to be consistent in that common position and thus consistent in a common action,” he said.
“Most Cubans are not aware that the European Common Position supports their rights and the peaceful changes that Cubans themselves want and need and that we must bring about ourselves,” Paya said.
Washington D.C., Sep 22, 2010 (CNA) - A U.S. bishop urged Congressional leaders to remember the plight of low income families as it debates future tax policy. In a recent letter, Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York warned that neglecting to renew the Child Tax Credit – a provision that reduces federal income tax for families – would create 600,000 newly impoverished children in the U.S and plunge some four million minors deeper into poverty.
Bishop Murphy also serves as chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I urge Congress as it debates and decides future tax policy to give priority attention to poor families and their children,” he wrote on Sept. 20.
“Helping families most in need will advance the common good and ultimately contribute to a better society for all of us. Too often the weak and vulnerable are not heard in the tax debate,” Bishop Murphy noted. “Poor children and their families have compelling needs with a priority claim on both our consciences and our economic choices. Yet they often lack powerful allies and influential advocates.”
If Congress lets the Child Tax Credit (CTC) provisions expire, he warned, “600,000 more children will become poor and four million children currently living in poverty will fall into deeper poverty.”
In addition to encouraging the renewal of the CTC, Bishop Murphy also urged the same for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – a federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families to help offset the burden of social security taxes.
“It is equally important to retain current provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit,” he wrote. “This helps families with three or more children and reduces the 'marriage penalty.'”
“In 2009, Congress improved upon the EITC by increasing the credit available to families with three or more children,” the bishop explained.
“Preserving this increase is important because of the economic challenges of raising a larger family in these difficult times,” he added. “Congress also acted to reduce the 'marriage penalty' in the EITC, increasing the amount of the credit for married couples.”
“Couples should never have to pay an economic penalty because they marry,” the prelate underscored.
In his concluding remarks, Bishop Murphy wrote that “these essential programs assist workers and families raising children to provide the necessities of life. Unless Congress acts, these vulnerable workers and their children will be left worse off than they are now.”
“The ethical principles of all Americans lead us to recognize that we have a social and civic responsibility to stand with these families and children. As a matter of justice, their needs have a prior claim that is well reflected in this legislation.”
Vatican City, Sep 22, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The president of the Vatican's office for administering charitable aid will speak to a U.S. gathering of charities about the importance of faith as the root of giving. He has been invited by Catholic Charities USA as the keynote speaker for the celebration of their 100th anniversary.
The Holy See’s Press Office announced on Wednesday that the president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum,” Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, will be the keynote speaker during Catholic Charities USA’s gathering in Washington D.C. from Sept. 25-28. Organizers are promoting the the centennial celebration as "a time to recommit ourselves to our mission, not only to assist those in need but to truly reduce poverty in America."
According to the Holy See’s statement, in his discourse Cardinal Cordes will provide a reflection on the roots of the Church’s charitable commitment in the faith and will refer to the message in Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical letter, “Deus caritas est,” to promote the necessity of nurturing the specific identity of Church organizations.
In addition to the keynote address, the cardinal will be giving lectures in the Archdioceses of New York and Newark as well as in Connecticut dioceses. He plans to focus his talks on charity, social doctrine and the priesthood.
In a message sent by Cardinal Cordes in anticipation of the event, he noted Benedict XVI’s prayer that the 100th anniversary “will be an occasion for gratitude to Almighty God for the abundant harvest of generosity, solidarity and good works reaped.”
Catholic Charities USA is composed of 1,700 member agencies and institutions which provide “vital outreach” in local dioceses, assisting around nine million people per year. It is "the largest private network of social service organizations in the United States" which "works to support families, reduce poverty, and build communities."
The centennial liturgy, presided over by Cardinal Francis George at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, will be broadcast live by EWTN at 2 p.m. EDT on Sept. 25. Cardinals Cordes and Theodore McCarrick as well as Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Bishop Michael Driscoll and Fr. Larry Snyder will concelebrate.
Caracas, Venezuela, Sep 22, 2010 (CNA) - This week the Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, called for Venezuela's Sept. 26 elections to be free of manipulation. “As bishops it is our duty to urge people to vote,” to have “respect for the election laws,” and to ensure “there is no fraud,” he told Union Radio.
He also called on Venezuelans to trust that their votes will be confidential. “Those who feel undue pressure from anyone should trust that their vote is confidential. We must set fear aside and fulfill our commitment to ourselves, our families, the country and our future, in order to achieve a better country,” the cardinal added.
Cardinal Urosa also warned of the danger of falling to Socialism, which is the “fatal” ideology of Cuba, “a nation that is submerged in a totalitarian system.” “We do not want the Communist system because it goes against our Constitution and the rights that strengthen the lives of people,” he concluded.
Vatican City, Sep 22, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pope called the faithful to a greater commitment to Christian unity during Wednesday's audience. The "peace and harmony" of Christians, he said, shows the world an "authentic" witness to the Gospel message.
At the end of Wednesday morning's audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict drew attention to the concurrent plenary meeting of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.
The meeting is taking place in Vienna, Austria this week, with participants examining "the role of the Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Universal Church," particularly in the first millennium of Christianity.
Of this, the Holy Father said, "obedience to the will of the Lord Jesus and consideration for the great challenges facing Christianity today, oblige us to commit ourselves seriously to the cause of re-establishing full communion among the Churches.
"I exhort everyone to intense prayer for the work of the commission and for the ongoing development and consolidation of peace and harmony among the baptized, that we may show the world an increasingly authentic evangelical witness."
Rome, Italy, Sep 22, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father used positive language to describe the outcomes of his Apostolic Visit to the U.K. during the general audience. Speaking of the joy and satisfaction he felt during the trip, he noted also that the "Christian heritage is still strong and ever active at every level of social life" in the U.K.
The Pope spent Sept. 16-19 in the U.K. where he stopped in four cities: Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland on the first day, London for the next two and Birmingham on the final day for the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman.
The visit, he said, ushered in "a new and important phase in the long-standing relations between the Holy See and Great Britain."
Pope Benedict said he was able to affirm "how the Christian heritage is still strong and ever active at every level of social life. The hearts of the British and their existence are open to the reality of God and there are numerous expressions of religiosity that my visit has put even more in evidence."
Revisiting the major moments of the trip in six different languages during his catechesis, the Pope highlighted standout themes. He praised the "excellent and essential work" of Catholic schools and teachers in the U.K. and noted his "very cordial and fraternal" meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, on Friday. He also recalled the "unprecedented opportunity" he had to address both Houses of the U.K. Parliament on the importance of "a fruitful dialogue between religion and reason."
After the landmark address to Parliament, he crossed the street to Westminster Abbey to preside over an ecumenical celebration with Anglican-head Archbishop Williams and other British Christian leaders. There, he said, he had the "privilege" of being able to pray at the tomb of St. Edward and giving thanks to God for "the many blessings God has bestowed upon our efforts to re-knit the fabric of our Christian fellowship."
Saturday's events saw him at Westminster Cathedral for the votive Mass of the Most Precious Blood of Christ, which he called a "liturgy evocative of the best of the English musical tradition in the celebration of the Roman rite." The Pope also recalled his meetings with the elderly and child safeguarders later that day and the "beautiful vigil of deep prayerfulness and stillness" at London's Hyde Park.
During his Italian-language catechesis he said that the meeting he had with five abuse victims on Saturday afternoon was "very moving and prayerful."
On Sunday, he remembered, it was with "joy" and "deep personal satisfaction" that the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman was celebrated. Noting his admiration for the Blessed's life and writings, he said that Newman's "clear-minded search to know and express the truth in charity ... is a wonderful testimony of a pure desire to know and love God in the communion of the Church.
"His is surely an example that can inspire us all," he concluded.
Summarizing the trip in a single line during his Italian-language address, he said, "I had the great joy of speaking to the hearts of British citizens and they spoke to mine ..."
Washington D.C., Sep 22, 2010 (CNA) - After receiving a letter from the group Catholics for Equality urging a change to the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy, the Archbishop for Military Services responded, saying that the archdiocese's position is “clear.” The prelate added that the group “cannot be legitimately recognized as Catholic.”
Catholics for Equality had requested a meeting with Archbishop for the Military Services Timothy Broglio, claiming he offered misleading and false arguments in his June 1 statement against allowing open homosexuals to serve in the U.S. military.
Last week leaders of the group joined a lobbying effort sponsored by Servicemembers United. They lobbied Congress and asked key senators and Catholic leaders to support changing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Catholics for Equality Board Member Patsy Trujillo, a former New Mexico state legislator, said the group was confident that senators would vote to change present policy.
“Further, we trust our Catholic Senators will vote in their conscience and the will of the pro-equality Catholics in their state, and not the misinformed dictates of Rome,” she said in a Catholics for Equality press release.
On Tuesday the U.S. Senate blocked the bill that would allow changes to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. While 60 votes were required to start debate, the final vote was 56 to 43.
In a Sept. 20 statement responding to a CNA inquiry, Archbishop Broglio said the Archdiocese for the Military Services has a “clear” position on a change in the present policy concerning the service of persons who “openly manifest a homosexual orientation.”
While his latest statement did not reiterate the archdiocese’s position, in a June 1 statement Archbishop Broglio opposed the policy change. Saying moral beliefs should not be sacrificed for “merely political considerations,” he explained that Catholic chaplains can never “condone” homosexual behavior.
At the time he also voiced concern that a change in policy might negatively affect the role of the chaplain in the pulpit, the classroom, the barracks and the office.
CNA’s inquiry to the archbishop recounted CNA’s previous report on Catholics for Equality.
The organization was founded by groups such as New Ways Ministry and Dignity USA with cooperation from the homosexual advocacy group Human Rights Committee (HRC). It aims to “support, educate, and mobilize equality-supporting Catholics to advance LGBT equality at federal, state, and local levels.”
It also charges the Catholic hierarchy with favoring discrimination and having an “anti-equality voice” that does not represent Catholics.
In his Monday statement, Archbishop Broglio explained that according to canon law a group may call itself Catholic if it has been approved by a bishop or recognized by the Holy See in some manner.
“It is doubtful that the group in question has such approval. Therefore, it cannot be legitimately recognized as Catholic,” he commented.
The archbishop also challenged any indication that the Catholic hierarchy does not represent Catholics.
“By definition that is impossible. The Body of Christ, as is clearly taught, is the Church united in communion: the hierarchy with the faithful joined with the Successor of St. Peter and united to Christ our Head.
“Translating the language of political systems to the Church simply demonstrates a lack of understanding of what the Church is,” Archbishop Broglio commented.
He also insisted that Church teaching is based in love and truth.
“It is not the desire of the Archdiocese for Military Services to offend anyone, but there is an obligation to teach the truth in love, even when that truth is displeasing to some or politically incorrect to others. The Holy Father made that quite clear in Caritas in Veritate.”
Phil Attey, the present acting executive director of Catholics for Equality, is a former employee of HRC. Last year Attey created a website to “aggregate reports on every gay priest” in the Archdiocese of Washington to help them “stand up to the church hierarchy” on homosexual issues.
The Catholics for Equality website asks readers to report “anti-equality activity” in Catholic parishes, dioceses or community activities.
South Bend, Ind., Sep 22, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Continuing its response to the controversy over President Obama’s speech at the prominent Catholic institution, the University of Notre Dame has announced the creation of a coordinator for pro-life initiatives. The new coordinator says she is honored to hold the position and will work to advance the Catholic identity of the university.
The Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life, which ended its service in May, recommended to Notre Dame president Fr. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the creation of structures to implement its previous recommendations and to continue its work. Fr. Jenkins then created the position of coordinator for university life initiatives and appointed 2010 Notre Dame graduate Mary K. Daly to the post.
Daly served as president of Notre Dame Right for Life and was a spokeswoman for NDResponse, a coalition opposed to the honoring of President Barack Obama. She will coordinate present efforts to implement the task force’s recommendations and will serve as a liaison between various university departments and offices to advance collaboration on life issues.
According to the University of Notre Dame, she will also seek ways to “broaden and deepen respect for the sanctity of life” at the university and beyond.
Her office will be located in the Institute for Church Life and she will report to John C. Cavadini, the McGrath-Cavadini Director of the Institute for Church Life who was a co-chair of the task force. She will also organize a faculty advisory committee to be chaired by Cavadini.
Daly responded to an inquiry from CNA in a Tuesday afternoon e-mail.
She said she was “very pleased” that the university created a permanent position dedicated to increasing the institution’s “witness to the culture of life.”
“I am grateful and honored to have been invited to work with the university on these initiatives,” Daly commented. She said her position will also help support and enhance the university’s mission and vision “as a Catholic institution of higher education.”
The new coordinator explained that fostering “a respect for the sanctity and dignity of life, from conception to natural death” will be one of her priorities, as will be fostering an increase in understanding of “the major life issues.”
Daly reported that discussion of possible action and initiatives has been “very lively.”
In addition to implementing the task force’s recommendations, she said the coordinator will support academic scholarship on life issues from both students and faculty. The coordinator will also create education efforts to inform the campus on life issues.
Daly told CNA her position will strengthen the university’s support both for student-led right-to-life initiatives and for pregnant and parenting students.
Commenting in the university’s press release, Fr. Jenkins thanked the members of the Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life for their “exemplary” service.
“I look forward to continued progress in this important area as we work together in future years,” he commented, according to the University of Notre Dame.
Fr. Jenkins has followed several recommendations of the task force, such as personally participating in the National March for Life in January in Washington, D.C. The task force also recommended both the development of principles for charitable giving and the adoption of a statement on the university’s support for Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life.
Notre Dame law professor Charles Rice has been critical of some of the university administration’s responses, saying Notre Dame should have had an official presence at every March for Life since 1973. Last year Rice said any changes would be “cosmetic” unless charges are dropped against pro-life protesters arrested at the time of the 2009 commencement.
Austin, Texas, Sep 22, 2010 (CNA) - Heroic Media, an Austin, Texas advertising agency dedicated to promoting a pro-life message, is accustomed to controversy. However, even they are surprised at the response to their new campaign, which accuses Planned Parenthood of targeting African-Americans.
Media outlets have banned the ads without explanation.
The advertisements direct viewers to the website www.ppabortsaa.com, short for “Planned Parenthood Aborts African Americans.” There, the agency offers documentation from sources such as the U.S. Census, Center for Disease Control and the Guttmacher Institute, to support the advertisements' contention that “the most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”
Central to Heroic Media's campaign, is the allegation that Planned Parenthood has placed around 70 percent of its abortion clinics in areas that can be designated as “minority neighborhoods.” A 2005 report by the Cybercast News Service claimed that out of 160 known abortion facilities run by the organization, 100 were located in communities with a higher black population than the state as a whole.
Although the ad campaign does not accuse any current leaders or staff at Planned Parenthood of being motivated by racism, it does note that abortion has reduced the black population by over 25 percent since 1973, making it responsible for more deaths than violent crime, accidents and disease.
A billboard featuring the “most dangerous place” tagline, along with a silhouette of an African American woman, was rejected in both Dallas and Houston. The prospective client first explained that the billboard was overly “'race' based.” A representative from the same company denied that this was the motivation, stating that the depiction of the woman was overly explicit.
Another outlet in Texas first approved the billboard but subsequently rejected it, citing its “questionable” content as a violation of their contract with land owners. Outlets in New York and Chicago followed suit, and likewise declined to discuss their reasons.
Representatives from Heroic Media deny that the campaign is either inappropriate or racially inflammatory. Instead, they have expressed concern that companies which refuse to run the ad on billboards or television may not only be looking out for their commercial interests, but possibly “protecting Planned Parenthood.”
“It looks like, from our perspective, they're trying to protect this one organization, instead of trying to provide information that can help African Americans,” the pro-life agency's communications director Kimberly Guidry Speirs told Relevant Radio's Drew Mariani on August 24.
The advertisement was, however, accepted to run on Black Entertainment Television, where it can currently be seen.