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Archive of October 31, 2011

Bishops of Brazil call for urgent political reform

Brasilia, Brazil, Oct 31, 2011 (CNA) - The bishops of Brazil have called on national leaders to implement political reforms and curb corruption.

“We would like to see not only electoral reforms, but also political reforms,” they said, “in order to fight the corruption that is corroding the institutions of the Brazilian state,” the bishops said in their Oct. 27 statement.
 
They expressed indignation at the slow pace and lack of will on the part of lawmakers to carry out the political reform promised by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff during her inaugural speech.
 
Corruption must be fought by combating impunity, the bishops underscored. “Those who are guilty must be investigated and brought to justice. If a person is innocent, his good name and standing in society should be regained, but when a person’s guilt is proven, he or she should be punished,” the bishops said.
 
Their statement came amid increasing complaints against the Rousseff administration, which has seen five cabinet members resign over charges of corruption in the last 10 months.

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Peruvian cardinal encourages defense of life on Lord of the Miracles feast

Lima, Peru, Oct 31, 2011 (CNA) -

During a Mass on Oct. 28 on the feast of the Lord of the Miracles—the most popular religious devotion in Peru—Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima encouraged Catholics to be strong in their defense of life and the family.

“Lord of the Miracles, thank you for giving us this great gift of faith to Peru, to the world, to Lima.  Today you look upon us, you bless us, you hear us and you forgive us. Today you walk our streets, and we all will seek after your gaze, which fills us with peace and joy,” the cardinal said during his homily. Following the Mass, a massive procession took place in downtown Lima.
 
“The Lord loves us so much that he has left us teachings from the law of God that tell us that marriage is a wonderful sacrament between one man and one woman that is lifelong, and we must fight to build up marriage,” the cardinal said.
 
“The Lord also says that the family is the privileged place to teach the faith, to educate children, to help one another. Consequently, it is normal that those charged with enacting laws would protect the family, protect marriage and defend life. Year after year we repeat it: we will never be unfaithful to God’s law,” Cardinal Cipriani added.
 
“Lord of Miracles, enlighten those who have the duty to watch over those laws and customs so that our people will continue to look upon you with trust, because we protect life from the moment of conception. We forever say no to abortion! We are not afraid to repeat it a thousand times. Your Catholic people say yes to life!”
 
Cardinal Cipriani highlighted the importance of the processions in honor of the Lord of Miracles, which are a reflection of our own journey of faith in the Christian life. “The Lord does not love you because of what you are worth; he loves you because of who you are: you are a child of God …  And he tells you: be humble, accept yourself,” Cardinal Cipriani insisted.
 
Turing toward the image of the Lord of Miracles, the cardinal said, “Lord, Lima is yours, Peru is yours, each one of us is yours.”
 
“During this holy Eucharist may he embrace us all in his heart and make Peru a more united, brotherly, just and honest country, in which the Catholic people truly continue to practice their faith.  Long live the Lord of Miracles! Long live Peru!” the cardinal exclaimed.
 

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Experts predict erosion of society, religious liberty if DOMA is repealed

Washington D.C., Oct 31, 2011 (CNA) - Marriage advocates are warning that a repeal of the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act could have disastrous consequences for the nation, including the further erosion of religious liberty and a continued effort to legalize multiple-partner relationships.

“Marriage is critically important because the marriage-based family is the original and best Department of Health, Education and Welfare,” said Robert P. George, law professor at Princeton University.

George told CNA that a healthy marriage culture is “crucial to the overall success of any society.”

In an Oct. 28 interview, George responded to reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider a bill on Nov. 3 that would repeal the 1996 U.S. Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

George said that he has “no doubt” that repealing the act would lead to further erosion of religious liberty and freedom of conscience for people and institutions who believe in the traditional definition of marriage.

“There can be no doubt that the repression of religious liberty is coming because there is no doubt that the repression of religious liberty is already taking place,” he said.

He gave the example of multiple employees across the country whose jobs have already been threatened because they hold biblical beliefs on sexual morality.

George said that the movement to redefine marriage will not stop with the inclusion of homosexual couples. He pointed to a statement entitled “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” a manifesto that has been signed by hundreds of prominent homosexual activists.

The statement calls for “governmental and private institutional recognition” of a variety of different sexual arrangements, including “households in which there is more than one conjugal partner.”

The idea that marriage should include multiple partners and other “nontraditional” arrangements is a goal that is shared by many mainstream homosexual advocates, said George.

“These are not fringe figures,” he said.

George said that the move to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act does not reflect the views of Americans, the majority of whom still believe marriage is a union of one man and one woman.

He noted that in all 31 states where the issue has been voted on by the people, marriage has not been redefined.

George believes that the bill aimed at repealing the Defense of Marriage Act is “a public relations move” to create the appearance that those seeking to redefine marriage have momentum on the issue and that the definition of marriage will inevitably be changed. 

Daniel Avila, policy advisor for marriage and family for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, explained that Catholic teaching on marriage is rooted in the belief that “God himself is the author of marriage.”

Marriage is the foundation of society and is a “public good,” Avila observed.

And those who protect the definition of marriage are “acknowledging the essential nature of a relationship that draws together two very different but complementary representatives of the two halves of the human family,” he said.

Avila explained that the Defense of Marriage Act not only affirms the definition of marriage and applies it to all federal laws, but it also prevents states that preserve the definition of marriage from being forced to recognize a redefinition of marriage by any other state.

If the Act is repealed, states would have to recognize out-of-state gay “marriages,” effectively redefining marriage across the country.

Avila encouraged concerned Catholics to contact their senators and urge them to preserve marriage. Doing so is “vitally important,” he said.

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Bishops urge funding for religious freedom commission

Washington D.C., Oct 31, 2011 (CNA) - The chair of the U.S. Catholic bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace is calling on the U.S. Senate to reauthorize a federal commission that advocates for religious freedom across the globe.

“Today the mission of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is more important than ever,” said Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y.

“Ongoing attacks against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and in other parts of the world point to the need to pay more, not less, attention to religious freedom.”

In an Oct. 27 letter, Bishop Hubbard urged the timely passage of a bill to renew funding for the independent, bipartisan commission, which he called “a critically important tool in the preservation of religious freedom.”

Funding for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom was originally set to expire at the end of September, but a brief extension was granted through the middle of November.

The House of Representatives approved a bill to fund the agency for an additional two years by a vote of 391 to 21.

But the prospects of the bill being voted on in the Senate appear to be in the hands of a single anonymous senator who has put a “hold” on the bill. That action is preventing a vote, and the reasons for the hold remain unknown.

If the hold is not removed by Nov. 18, the Senate will be unable to vote on the bill, and the commission will close its doors.

In his letter, Bishop Hubbard emphasized the important role that the commission has played in “preserving human dignity and human rights around the globe by monitoring and promoting religious freedom.”

He explained that the commission “monitors the status of religious freedom and provides essential information concerning persecution and violations of human rights throughout the world.”

“In addition, it plays a significant role is raising the profile of religious freedom around the globe,” he said.

Bishop Hubbard pointed to violence against Egypt’s Coptic Christians, the Christmas Eve bombings of Nigerian Christian churches and an attack on worshipers at a Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad last October as “grim reminders of what is at stake.”

Religious freedom, which is rooted in human dignity, is foundational for human rights and a just society, he said.

The bishop recalled that Pope Benedict XVI focused his 2011 World Day of Peace message on religious freedom, which he called the “path to peace.”

“The Catholic Church has long raised concerns regarding religious liberty throughout the world, defending members of all religions,” he said.

The bishops’ conference was “deeply involved” in the process that led to the creation of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said Bishop Hubbard.

While the conference “does not have a position on every provision in the legislation,” Bishop Hubbard said the bishops “strongly support” bringing the bill to a vote on the Senate floor.

“Abolition of this body would send an unintended message to the rest of the world,” he said.

“Oppressive groups may come to believe that the United States is not committed to the protection of religious liberty.”

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Cain maintains Planned Parenthood has racist roots

Washington D.C., Oct 31, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain reaffirmed his opposition to Planned Parenthood, an organization that he describes as the perpetrator of a black genocide.

In an Oct. 30 interview on CBS' “Face the Nation,” Cain was asked about a statement he made in January condemning Planned Parenthood’s agenda as a racist one.

“I still stand by that,” Cain replied.

“If people go back and look at the history and look at Margaret Sanger’s own words, that’s exactly where that came from.”

In 1921, Margaret Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, the precursor to the modern Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
 
Sanger is the author of numerous eugenics articles declaring the superiority of the white race and the need to eliminate the “unfit” from society.

In a January 2011 interview, Cain told American Family Radio that Planned Parenthood “as an organization is an absolute farce on the American people.”
 
Cain said that Planned Parenthood’s original intention was “not to help young women who get pregnant to plan their parenthood.” Rather, he said, “it was a sham to be able to kill black babies.”

In March, Cain said that he supported defunding Planned Parenthood. He charged that Sanger’s objective in starting the organization “was to put these centers in primarily black communities so they could help kill black babies before they came into the world.”

“It’s planned genocide,” he said. “It’s carrying out its original mission.”

In his recent CBS interview, Cain defended his position.

He explained that Sanger spoke “about preventing the increasing number of poor blacks in this country by preventing black babies from being born.”

“Seventy-five percent of those facilities were built in the black community,” he said.

“What I’m saying is, Planned Parenthood isn’t sincere about wanting to try to counsel them not to have abortions.”

Veronica Byrd, director of African American media for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, denied that racism played a part in Planned Parenthood’s objectives.

“It is simply unacceptable for those who oppose legal abortion to use inflammatory and divisive language based on race to push an ideological agenda,” Byrd said in a statement.

She argued that Cain is “clearly out of the mainstream in his attack on Planned Parenthood.”

Byrd referenced statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, an organization committed to “reproductive health” that was previously affiliated with Planned Parenthood.

The institute claimed that less than 10 percent of abortion clinics are located in primarily African-American areas.

However, the Guttmacher Institute did acknowledge that black woman undergo abortions at nearly five times the rate of white women.

Cain, who is currently a frontrunner for GOP presidential nomination, contributed one million dollars in 2006 to a pro-life advertising campaign targeting young African American voters in key states.

He has repeatedly reiterated his pro-life stance after being called into question over several seemingly contradictory comments on abortion in recent weeks.

Cain says that those comments were misquoted and misunderstood. He describes himself as “pro-life from conception, period.”

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Pope prays for Eastern Catholic Churches in November

Vatican City, Oct 31, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict is praying this November for the Eastern Catholic Churches and for the Church in Africa as it looks to live out the Synod for Africa.

The Pope's general prayer intention for November is: “That the Eastern Catholic Churches and their venerable traditions may be known and esteemed as a spiritual treasure for the whole Church.”

His mission intention is: “That the African continent may find strength in Christ to pursue justice and reconciliation as set forth by the second Synod of African Bishops.”

Editor's note: Due to a Vatican Information Service error, CNA incorrectly reported October's prayer intentions for November.

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