Boston, Mass., Jan 3, 2012 (CNA) - A group of nine individuals from pro-family organizations in Massachusetts have written an open letter defending Mitt Romney’s record of protecting marriage, promoting a culture of life and supporting religious freedom during his time as governor of the state.
The Dec. 30 letter attempts to “set the record straight” after Romney’s commitment to life and marriage was questioned in media reports.
Among the signatories were Raymond L. Flynn and Mary Ann Glendon, both former U.S. Ambassadors to the Holy See, as well as former executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, Gerald D. D’Avolio.
Romney’s critics have been skeptical of his claim that he had a pro-life conversion in 2004, after years of supporting legal abortion. They have also attacked the governor for allowing marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples in Massachusetts.
However, the pro-family advocates argued that as governor, Romney “staunchly defended traditional marriage” and worked to overturn same-sex “marriage” in the state.
Governor Romney not only denounced the 2003 court decision that legalized same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts, but he also took concrete action against it, working to enforce “a little-known 1913 law” to prohibit local clerks from issuing marriage licenses to out-of-state couples, the signatories said.
By doing so, the governor prevented a flood of homosexual couples from across the country from getting “married” in Massachusetts and then demanding that their home states recognize the unions.
The signers also denied claims that Gov. Romney issued same-sex marriage licenses or ordered town clerks and justices of the peace to perform same-sex “marriages.” Rather, they said, it was the court that ordered same-sex “marriages” to be performed in the state.
They explained that the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel issued provisional advisory instructions and new policies that went into effect “only after and as a direct result of” a ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that the state could not deny marriage to same-sex couples.
In addition, the pro-family advocates said, Gov. Romney provided “strong, active support” for a record-breaking 2005 Massachusetts petition drive to craft a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The governor then drew attention to the legislators’ repeated failure to carry out their constitutional obligation and vote on the marriage amendment, even filing a lawsuit to put pressure on the legislators to do so.
Gov. Romney was also active in promoting abstinence education during his time in office, the letter says. In 2006, public schools in Massachusetts began offering a classroom abstinence program for middle school students, run by a faith-based group in the state.
The pro-family advocates also argued that the governor demonstrated a commitment to religious freedom. They pointed to his defense of Catholic Charities of Boston when it refused to violate its core beliefs by arranging adoptions for homosexual couples.
The signatories further said that Gov. Romney has worked to support a culture of life by vetoing bills that would have expanded access to the abortifacient “morning-after pill” and provided for widespread embryonic stem cell research.
They denied claims that Gov. Romney is responsible for taxpayer funded abortion in Massachusetts, saying that the decision was made not by the governor but by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled that abortions must be covered for women who are eligible for Medicaid.
The letter acknowledged the “worrisome” comments that Romney made in favor of legalized abortion during his 1994 Senate campaign. However, it said, the governor’s actions show that he “has learned much since 1994.”
The signatories argued that during his four years as governor, Romney “has proven that he shares our values.” His actions, they said, “have positively and demonstrably impacted the social climate of Massachusetts.”
Updated Jan. 3, 2012 at 11:52 a.m. MST. Adds critics concerns in paragraph four.
Detroit, Mich., Jan 3, 2012 (CNA) - Michael Voris and other hosts of Real Catholic TV should not be broadcasting in the name of the Church, the Archdiocese of Detroit announced.
The archdiocese says it “has informed Mr. Voris and Real Catholic TV…that it does not regard them as being authorized to use the word 'Catholic' to identify or promote their public activities.”
In a Dec. 15, 2011 statement addressing the organization's name, the archdiocese clarified that the Church encourages its members “to promote or sustain a variety of apostolic undertakings,” but forbids them “from claiming the name Catholic without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.”
The archdiocese added that it has been communicating with Voris as well as his media partner at Real Catholic TV on the issue for “some time.”
Last month's announcement also referenced Canon 216 of the Roman Catholic Church's current Code of Canon Law, which holds that “no undertaking is to claim the name 'Catholic'” without authorization.
According to the archdiocese, Real Catholic TV's programming is “disseminated from the enterprise’s production facility in Ferndale, Michigan,” within the jurisdiction of Detroit's Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron.
But Voris maintains that Archbishop Vigneron is not the “competent ecclesiastical authority” over Real Catholic TV, which is owned by Indiana resident Marc Brammer.
“I don’t have ownership over the name of the organization. It’s not my organization. The headquarters are outside of the diocese,” Voris told LifeSiteNews in a Dec. 23 article. “It’s the wrong person, and the wrong outfit asking the wrong person the wrong question.”
Brammer told LifeSiteNews that “if all of a sudden now there’s this tussle over the use of the word 'Catholic,'” he would “deal with it through competent ecclesial authority.”
In August 2011, archdiocesan communications director Ned McGrath confirmed to CNA that Real Catholic TV, which began in 2008, “(had) yet to present itself or receive approval of its media enterprise from the Detroit archdiocese.”
McGrath said in August that Real Catholic TV's materials – including “catechetical presentations” as well as “analysis of Catholic teachings” – could not “be approved or endorsed by the archdiocese at this time.”
The communications director told CNA that the Detroit Archdiocese had been issuing similar advisories about Voris' presentations “for over three years.”
Madrid, Spain, Jan 3, 2012 (CNA) - A Spanish publisher says that protests demanding the self-help book “How to Understand and Be Cured of Homosexuality” be taken off the shelves have actually led to an increase in sales.
Alex Rosal of the Madrid-based publishing house Libros Libres said his company has received “an avalanche of orders” for the book written by American psychotherapist Richard Cohen.
Rosal called protests pushing for the book's removal an attack on freedom of expression, noting that gay and lesbian groups leading the charge have actually boosted interest in the work.
Libros Libres “has been overwhelmed with orders from book stores and customers and has begun working on a new edition in order to meet the demand,” he said.
Rosal explained that author Richard Cohen experienced a homosexual orientation for a large part of his life “but found nothing joyful or fun about the gay lifestyle and he was searching for another path to the happiness he desired.”
Cohen details in his book how he was able to change his sexual orientation and for the last twenty years “has been helping thousands of men and women who, making use of their freedom, wish to change from homosexuality to heterosexuality,” Rosal said.
“I don’t think the gay and lesbian community has read the book,” he added. “The book doesn’t talk about illness but rather about healing emotional wounds, which is something common to every human being.”
“It is written from experience and therefore its pages are full of understanding and love for all persons who have a homosexual orientation,” he underscored.
Rosal said Libros Libres has even received the support of many with same-sex attraction who say they “do not feel represented by the gay community and do not share its intolerance of other points of view.”
Cohen was born in the U.S. in 1952 and later studied at the University of Boston. He has worked in centers for abused children and was an HIV/AIDS educator for the Red Cross. In 1990 he founded the International Healing Foundation to help homosexual individuals who wish to change their orientation. The first edition of his book was released in 2004.
Des Moines, Iowa, Jan 3, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s late surge in the polls ahead of the Iowa Caucuses is a sign that he may be “poised to shock the Republican Establishment,” a Catholic deacon and political commentator says.
“Is the Santorum campaign the political equivalent of the tortoise and the hare fable? Will ‘slow and steady win the race?’” asked Deacon Keith Fournier of the Diocese of Richmond, Va., who described himself as a friend of the former senator.
“The members of the mainstream media who had dismissed Santorum throughout the entire 2012 primary campaign are now covering his ascent,” Deacon Fournier wrote in a Jan. 3 column for Catholic Online. “Some even seem to have surrendered their dismissive arrogance. Even those who once treated his candidacy with condescension, cynicism and disdain are taking a second look.”
Polls suggest that Sen. Santorum will place among the top three in the Republican Party’s Iowa Caucuses, with former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul. A Dec. 26-27 poll from the North Carolina-based, Democratic Party-affiliated polling firm Public Policy Polling showed that 18 percent of likely caucus voters intend to vote for the former senator, a statistical tie with the other leaders.
In each precinct caucus, voters ask their friends and neighbors to support a preferred candidate, the Associated Press says. The caucuses are a non-binding straw poll that awards no delegates to the national convention, but the event is considered an important indicator of a candidate’s viability.
Deacon Fournier argued that Santorum’s surge is tied to him being “a refreshing example of moral coherence” who refuses to separate “social” and “moral” issues from economic and foreign policy issues.
He said Santorum does not accept the idea that morality should be “confined to the walls of one's home or house of worship.” Rather, the candidate insists that America as a nation is a “moral enterprise” and that the country will not remain free “without a good strong moral compass.”
The deacon cited Santorum’s April 28, 2011 speech in which the senator criticized the country’s loss of moral and political leadership. He also lamented a loss of hope in the United States, claiming that Americans are “bursting at the seams to have a leader who believes in them and our country again.”
Santorum, a Catholic father of seven, authored a regular column for Crisis Magazine and led the push to pass a partial-birth abortion ban that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. He served two terms in the U.S. Senate before losing his 2006 race to pro-life Democrat Bob Casey, Jr. by 59 to 41 percent.
Many observers blamed the loss on Santorum’s support for then-Sen. Arlen Specter, an incumbent Republican supporter of abortion rights, in the 2004 Republican primary against challenger Pat Toomey, who won the seat in the 2010 elections. His strong support for the Bush administration and for an interventionist foreign policy may also have been factors, as well as behind-the-scenes opposition from homosexual activists angered by his defense of marriage.
Santorum’s longtime pro-life stand contrasts with that of Romney, who publicly supported legal abortion in his 2002 campaign for Massachusetts governor. Romney’s handling of the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision which imposed same-sex “marriage” on the state has also drawn criticism.
In an October 2011 appearance on Fox News’ “Huckabee” show, Romney suggested he would support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would recognize the right to life from the moment of conception.
A Dec. 30 letter from individuals involved in Catholic and pro-family organizations in Massachusetts defended Romney, saying that he “shares our values.” Signatories to the letter included former U.S. Ambassadors to the Holy See Ray Flynn and Mary Ann Glendon as well as Gerald D. D’Avolio, former executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference.
Rep. Paul is pro-life and considers it a state issue. However, his remarks on marriage have drawn criticism from groups like the National Organization for Marriage. The organization says the staunch libertarian has previously suggested that civil marriage should be abolished altogether and has said that homosexuals should be allowed to “marry.”
The congressman has supported the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which protects states from being forced to recognize same-sex “marriages” contracted in other states and defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. However, he voted for the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy barring open homosexuals from the military.
Vatican City, Jan 3, 2012 (CNA/Europa Press) - Over 2.5 million people took part in various Vatican events with Pope Benedict in 2011, outdoing the numbers reported over the last three years.
The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household estimated 400,000 attendees at general audiences, 101,800 at private audiences, 846,000 at liturgical celebrations, and 1,206,000 at Angelus and Regina Coeli prayers last year.
Statistics only include events at the Vatican or the Pope’s summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.
The prefecture said that the numbers are approximate and are based on the amount of requests to participate in events with the Pope, the number of tickets distributed, and the estimations of people present at events like the Angelus or large celebrations in St. Peter’s Square.
The largest single event of 2011 was the beatification of John Paul II on May 1, which drew an estimated 1.5 million people.
Vatican figures did not include Pope Benedict's foreign travels, which saw him visiting numerous countries in 2011.
Last June he went to Croatia, celebrating Mass with over 400,000 people. In August he visited Spain for World Youth Day, an event attended by two million pilgrims.
During his visit to Germany, around 350,000 attended Mass and other events to listen to him in person. In his November visit to the west African country of Benin, tens of thousands attended Mass with the Pope.
Vatican City, Jan 3, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The suffering people experience when they are sick can help them grow closer to Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI said in his message for next month’s World Day of the Sick.
“God, indeed, in his Son, does not abandon us to our anguish and sufferings, but is close to us, helps us to bear them, and wishes to heal us in the depths of our hearts,” the Pope said on Jan. 3.
He placed a particular emphasis on the Church’s three “sacraments of healing,” which are Reconciliation, the Anointing of the Sick, and the Eucharist.
The theme of this year’s Day of the Sick – which will be observed on Feb. 11 – is “stand up and go; your faith has saved you,” a quotation taken from Christ’s command to the only leper out of 10 who were cured that returned to thank him.
Pope Benedict said that Jesus’ command to the leper should raise awareness of the “importance of faith for those who, burdened by suffering and illness, draw near to the Lord,” as well as how “reacquired health is a sign of something more precious than mere physical healing, it is a sign of the salvation that God gives us through Christ.”
Christ’s desire to heal both soul and body is best ministered in the sacraments of the Catholic Church, the Pope said, describing them as are “an expression of the physicality of our faith, which embraces the whole person, body and soul.”
The “tandem of physical healing and renewal after lacerations of the soul” can be seen in each of the sacraments of healing, the Pope said.
In the sacrament of Penance, the “medicine of confession” prevents the experience of sin from degenerating into despair and allows the penitent to encounter “the Love that forgives and transforms,” he explained.
Penance is particularly needed at a time of suffering “in which one could be tempted to abandon oneself to discouragement and hopelessness,” the Pope wrote. Instead of despair, the sacrament can transform suffering “into a time of grace so as to return to oneself.”
The Anointing of the Sick offers “God’s medicine” to those who are seriously ill, Pope Benedict said, explaining that it “assures us of his goodness, offering us strength and consolation, yet at the same time points beyond the moment of the illness towards the definitive healing, the resurrection.”
For this reason, it “should not be held to be almost ‘a minor sacrament’ when compared to the others,” he stated. The sacrament also “brings spiritual advantages to priest and the whole Christian community” because it makes everybody aware that “what is done to the least, is done to Christ himself.”
Pope Benedict then turned to the Eucharist, calling it a “precious instrument of God’s grace” for sick people, since it conforms them “ever more fully to the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ.” This means that parishes should help ensure that those who cannot attend Mass should be able to frequently receive Communion.
Reception of the Eucharist is particularly important, said the Pope, at the moment of death when it is administered and received as “Viaticum.”
“The Eucharist, especially as Viaticum, is – according to the definition of Saint Ignatius of Antioch – ‘medicine of immortality, the antidote for death,’” the Pope recalled.
He concluded his message by thanking all those who care for the sick because “in their professional expertise and in silence, often without even mentioning the name of Christ, they manifest him in a concrete way.”
He also commended all those who are ill to “Mary, Mother of Mercy and Health of the Sick,” to whom “we raise our trusting gaze and our prayer.”
“May her maternal compassion, manifested as she stood beside her dying Son on the Cross, accompany and sustain the faith and the hope of every sick and suffering person on the journey of healing for the wounds of body and spirit!”