Washington D.C., Jan 17, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, is featured in a new video supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s pro-life conversion and citing his record of promoting life as governor of Massachusetts.
Glendon said that it is “very unfortunate” that Romney has been criticized “for coming to a pro-life position on the basis of information.”
“The pro-life movement is all about changing hearts and minds,” she said in a web video released by the Romney campaign on Jan. 14.
During his campaign, Romney has come under fire for his prior support of legal abortion.
His critics remain skeptical of Romney’s claim that he had a conversion to a pro-life position in 2004, after confronting the issue of embryonic stem cell research and realizing that it was wrong to create a human life simply to destroy it.
According to Glendon, however, Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts from 2003-2007 shows that his pro-life convictions are sincere.
A professor at Harvard Law School, Glendon has spent years working in the pro-life movement, both in Massachusetts and across the country.
In the new online video, she notes that 85 percent of the state legislature is controlled by Democrats.
Even in this “very difficult political environment,” she said, Romney supported pro-life measures, demonstrating “great political courage” and expending significant “political capital” in doing so.
Glendon explained that despite the challenging political climate, Romney vetoed legislation that would have allowed embryonic stem cell research, as well as legislation that would have allowed the morning-after pill to be sold over-the-counter.
He also supported abstinence education in schools, she added.
Glendon described Romney as a “great friend to the pro-life movement” and explained that he and his staff always welcomed pro-life advocates at a time when “many doors of the State House were closed to us.”
“He was a great pro-life governor,” she said, “and he will be a great pro-life president.”
Washington D.C., Jan 17, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum won the support of more than 150 leaders and representatives of conservative and Christian groups at a gathering in Texas this past weekend.
Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, said that “after praying for the nation's future,” conservative leaders took the first steps in “advancing a true conservative candidate toward the nomination.”
Perkins explained that the goal of the meeting was to attempt to unite in support around a single conservative candidate.
“That goal was achieved,” he said, when a super-majority of those present cast their ballots in favor of Santorum, a Catholic who formerly served as a Pennsylvania senator.
In a Jan. 14 statement on behalf of the meeting’s organizers, Perkins explained that the group had agreed that the threshold of support would be two-thirds of those present.
That threshold was surpassed by Santorum, who gained 74.5 percent of the vote on the third ballot, far outstripping second-place Newt Gingrich, who received 25.5 percent of the vote.
Perkins also said that the group had “made clear” that conservative leaders could support Gingrich or Rick Perry, who came in second and third, respectively, in the vote.
Although former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is leading the GOP candidates in the polls, some conservatives regard him as too moderate.
The Jan. 13-14 meeting drew nearly 170 conservatives to the Brenham, Texas ranch of conservative activists Paul and Nancy Pressler to discuss the future and goals of the Republican Party.
Perkins was one of the organizers of the event, along with Donald Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association, and James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family.
Those in attendance participated in discussions on the candidates and listened to presentations by supporters of each major candidate, except for Jon Huntsman.
The group then held three rounds of secret balloting.
In the first round, Santorum won 57 votes, followed by Gingrich with 48 votes and Perry with 13 votes. Romney received three votes and Ron Paul received one vote.
The second round of voting was between Gingrich and Santorum, the top two vote recipients from the first ballot. Gingrich received 49 votes, while Santorum won 70.
In the third round, Gingrich earned 29 votes, while Santorum garnered 85, making him the clear winner.
The endorsement may give Santorum a boost in the Jan. 21 primary in South Carolina, a state that is home to a large number of evangelical Republican voters.
Although there are no plans for a coordinated effort to aid Santorum, the individual groups represented at the meeting may help conduct fundraising events or elicit further support for him.
In a statement responding to the endorsement, Santorum said that he is grateful for the confidence and momentum.
Highlighting his views as presenting the “sharpest contrasts with Barack Obama,” he urged that “now is the time to stop a moderate from becoming our Party's nominee.”
Olympia, Wash., Jan 17, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Proposed gay “marriage” legislation in Washington state would add to “the forces already undermining family life today,” the state’s Catholic bishops warned.
In a January 2012 statement, the bishops stressed that the “stability of society depends on the stability of family life in which a man and a woman conceive and nurture new life.”
They noted in their letter titled “Marriage and the Common Good” that the civil recognition of marriage as between one man and one woman has given “countless generations of children the incomparable benefit of a loving mother and father committed to one another in a lifelong union.”
On Jan. 13, 23 senators, including two Republicans, introduced legislation that would grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Catholic Democrat, had requested the bill which will require 25 votes to pass the state Senate.
In response to the move, the bishops explained that defining marriage in terms of the relationship between a man and a woman and its “important role” in guaranteeing future generations, the state recognizes the “irreplaceable contribution” married couples make to society.
Changing the definition of marriage means there are no special laws to support and recognize this contribution, they said.
Marriage not only creates a bond through a personal relationship but allows the potential “of a man and woman to conceive and nurture new life, thus contributing to the continuation of the human race.”
The bill’s chief sponsor State Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle), however, criticized the bishops in remarks to the Associated Press.
“My first reaction, as a practicing Catholic, is that this is very hurtful,” said Murray, currently in a 20-year same-sex relationship.
Joseph Backholm, executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, said that he expects thousands of people to show up at the bill’s first public hearing on Jan. 23 to show their opposition.
But he sided with the bishops, saying that the “idea that there is no difference between a heterosexual relationship and a homosexual relationship and that the law should recognize no difference, assumes there is no difference between men and women.”
“This would be the state taking a position and saying 'We will no longer encourage arrangements that will give children both a mother and father,” he added.
Washington state passed a domestic partnership law in 2007 with about 19,000 registered domestic partners in the state today.
In their statement, the bishops called on local Catholics to contact state legislators and urge them to keep marriage defined as between one man and one woman.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 17, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Catholic newspaper in Mexico City, Desde la Fe, is calling on Mexican presidential candidates to “distance themselves from organized crime, criminal groups and negative interests.”
In an editorial published on Jan. 15, Desde la Fe said it is better to be an independent, moral candidate than a manipulated and pressured government leader.”
Mexico will hold its presidential elections on July 1.
The newspaper underscored that now is the time to remind candidates “that a political career should be understood … as a path toward becoming a public servant, whose only objective should be to seek the good of all citizens and the nation.”
“In this sense, the minimum expected at this time is civility in the contest; our democratic processes should not again descend into dirty tricks, attacks and cavernous strategies of power, coercion and contempt,” the newspaper said.
Desde la Fe then asked the media not to cover the electoral race as if “it were a more of a show instead of a civic exercise that implies a serious social commitment” and to provide useful information on the vote.
At this time there are just two candidates for president, but the deadline to announce a candidacy is March 22.
Vatican City, Jan 17, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications says it is very happy with new figures that show over 10,000 people are using its online news site every day.
“I think that for an initiative that is only a few months old these results are really quite positive,” said Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the communications council, in a Jan. 13 interview with CNA. The site, www.news.va, went live in June 2011.
“For example, at Christmas we were having over 16,000 visitors a day, and according to the research, 52 percent of those were new visitors to the site.”
Archbishop Celli also revealed that visitors to the page come from 180 different countries, with many people favoring the live streaming site for papal events.
The Vatican’s news site already operates in English, Spanish and Italian, but it is expanding to other languages. Archbishop Celli said that the site will begin offering news in French this month and in February it will go live in Portuguese.
“So in less than one year we’re having news.va in the five main languages that are used today,” he said.
The Vatican’s news portal was launched by Pope Benedict XVI in June 2011. With the tap of an iPad, the Pope sent a message on Twitter that said, “Dear Friends, I just launched News.va Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI.”
The site brought together all the Vatican’s communication outlets into one online location for the first time ever. That list includes Fides News Agency, the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican Information Service, Vatican Radio and the Vatican television service, CTV. However, each news source still maintains its own independent website.
Archbishop Celli briefed Pope Benedict on the latest developments with the new venture during a 20-minute audience on Jan. 13. The two also discussed other projects being carried out by the pontifical council.
“I usually see him every year, as it is my duty to keep the Holy Father informed as to what we are doing and to receive from him advice and to know exactly what he wants from us,” he said.
The archbishop recalled how the Pope expressed “his deep conviction about the value of communication in the Church of today,” with a particular view towards the beginning of the Year of Faith in October 2012.
Archbishop Celli explained that the Pontifical Council for Social Communications has various projects in preparation for the Year of Faith, although he is keeping tight lipped about them at the moment.
“I will keep you informed. Thank you. God bless,” he said with a smile.
Vatican City, Jan 17, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Horses, cows, chickens and dogs were just some of the creatures that took center stage at the Vatican today for the customary blessing of animals.
“We have around 30 horses and we chose one to bring here for the blessing of St. Anthony because it’s important, he helps them along in their lives,” said Elio Daffalu from Messina, Italy, while standing next to his blessed horse named Doria.
“He is the protector of animals and because we have a passion for horses, we always hope that St. Anthony will help them,” Daffalu told CNA.
The ceremony takes place every year on the Feast of St. Anthony the Abbot and was led this year by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.
“The tradition of blessing animals is linked to the fact that St. Anthony the Abbot was a saint that had a special relationship with nature, with creation and therefore also with animals,” said Cardinal Comastri at the Jan. 17 ceremony.
He explained that the tradition came about “spontaneously in the agricultural world,” although it is impossible to say when.
“It was born within the context of the Christian faith that always called the world not ‘nature’ but ‘creation,’ because it is the work of God, it is a gift from God. Creation is made by God, so we must respect it.”
Today’s event began with farmers going to Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, followed by the blessing of their animals in a makeshift livestock showgrounds, just outside of St. Peter’s Square. Cows, horses, sheep, goats, geese and hens were all present, as well as more domesticated beasts, such as cats and dogs, brought along by their Roman pet owners.
The crowd was also entertained by a parade of horses that included a mounted police band.
Cardinal Comastri concluded the event by saying a few words to the crowd, before blessing all present with holy water – animals and humans alike.
“We are a generation that respects creation very little, and for that reason we pollute many areas in many ways,” he said.
“This feast day is a call also to respect creation in a way that the environment might be a place to live, to live with the dignity that God gave to all.”
St. Anthony the Abbot was a 3-4th century monk who lived an austere and holy life in the Egyptian desert. He is considered one of the founders of Christian monasticism.