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Archive of April 28, 2012

BBC criticized for plans to broadcast live from abortion clinic

London, England, Apr 28, 2012 (CNA) - The BBC has drawn criticism from pro-life groups over plans to broadcast a live radio program from an abortion clinic.

“News that a publicly funded radio station – BBC Radio 5 – is going to record inside an abortion clinic is being seen by many of us as biased support for the abortion lobby,” said Josephine Quintavalle of the ProLife Alliance.

Quintavalle called the move “contrary to the neutrality that is obligatory under the BBC charter,” in comments to CNA April 27.

The two-hour live program will take place next month at a location yet to be disclosed. The BBC says it will feature interviews with mothers who are having their babies aborted as well as with clinic staff.

Radio presenter Victoria Derbyshire, who will host the broadcast, told the Independent newspaper April 23 that she wants to give listeners “an insight into an area of British life which is taboo.”

“We have asked an abortion clinic for permission to broadcast and they have agreed. We appreciate the sensitivity around it and I would hope listeners would trust us to do it carefully,” she said.

Quintavalle noted in her remarks to CNA that at this stage, it is “difficult to be sure” if the BBC will fulfill its promise to provide balanced coverage of the issue.

“One thing at least is absolutely certain,” she added, “Whoever else is recorded, the voice of the unborn child, the helpless silent victim of abortion, will not be given any air time whatsoever.”

Abortion was legalized in England, Wales and Scotland in 1967. Since then approximately 7 million lives have been lost to abortion in those three countries. Northern Ireland is still exempt from the 1967 legislation. Presently, unborn babies can be aborted in the UK up until the 24th week of pregnancy and up to birth in the case of disability.

Recently the abortion industry in the UK has come under criticism following undercover filming by The Daily Telegraph newspaper in February that revealed British doctors are now agreeing to abort babies on the grounds of the unborn child’s gender.  

“The pro-life movement in the United Kingdom has been gaining significant ground lately with public opinion,” said Josephine Quintavalle, “we believe that attempts to lower the upper limit for abortion are very winnable.”  

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Mass. bishop stands by college in Victoria Kennedy controversy

Worcester, Mass., Apr 28, 2012 (CNA) - In response to a petition from supporters of Victoria Kennedy, Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Mass. reaffirmed his support for Anna Maria College’s withdrawal of its invitation for her to be commencement speaker.

“While I recognize that there are those who do not agree with Anna Maria’s decision to disinvite Mrs. Kennedy as its commencement speaker, I continue to stand behind the concerns which I shared with Dr. Jack Calareso, the college’s president, last March,” Bishop McManus said April 26.

He said he supports the public statement of the college’s board of trustees, which said the invitation withdrawal is “in the best interest of all parties.”

The board withdrew the invitation last month after Bishop McManus asked the Paxton, Mass. college to withdraw the invitation in February.

He said he would not attend if Kennedy were commencement speaker, following the U.S. bishops’ stance against colleges honoring Catholics who publicly oppose Church teaching.

Kennedy, the widow of U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, has a public record of such statements. She has defended a “pro-choice” position on abortion in The Washington Post and has praised a homosexual rights advocate for his support for “gay marriage.”

An online petition asking for Kennedy’s reinstatement as commencement speaker reportedly gathered about 20,000 signatures. The national group Catholic Democrats, which Kennedy serves as a board member, delivered the petition to the Diocese of Worcester chancery.

The petition drive was organized by Faithful America, an online interfaith activist initiative co-founded by former Virginia Democratic Congressman Tom Perriello. The initiative’s present partners include the National Council of Churches, which is a longstanding institution of mainline Protestantism, and Sojourners magazine.

Its petition to Bishop McManus described Kennedy as “a faithful Catholic and an important public voice.” It said Catholic universities “shouldn’t be a battleground for partisan witch-hunts and censorship.”

Catholic Democrats national director Steven D. Krueger told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that Bishop McManus’ action and the recent Vatican action against the Leadership Council of Women Religious “reflects a pattern of pastoral partisanship.”

Krueger said that Bishop McManus’ approach differs from Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who has not intervened in Boston College Law School’s invitation to Kennedy to be commencement speaker.

Krueger told the Worcester diocese’s newspaper The Catholic Free Press he did not know Kennedy’s position on abortion or “gay marriage.”

On April 6 Bishop McManus told The Catholic Free Press that his concern was that giving the commencement speaker honors to Kennedy would “undercut the Catholic identity and mission of the school.”

He said Kennedy is “a very public person” who has “publicly associated with political and social organizations that promote activities and points of view that are contrary to fundamental church teaching.”

The bishop did not want the bestowal of the honorary degree on Kennedy to give the impression that someone can hold a position contrary to Catholic teaching and still be honored.

Diocese of Worcester spokesman Frank Delisle told CNA April 2 that the bishop’s action was not intended to target Kennedy but was intended to show consistency.

Bishop McManus’ predecessor, Bishop Daniel P. Reilly, had objected to Holy Cross College’s invitation to television host Chris Matthews to be the 2003 commencement speaker and to receive an honorary degree.

The college declined to disinvite Matthews, and Bishop Reilly did not attend commencement.

On March 30 the college said that it withdrew the invitation with “deep regret,” citing Kennedy’s accomplishments in her work on child safety and gun control.

However, the college voiced concerns about “being in conflict with the bishop” and said the event could “create negative publicity and a difficult situation” for both Kennedy and the college.

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Congressmen urge Supreme Court to review anti-prostitution pledge

Washington D.C., Apr 28, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Twenty-four members of the U.S. House of Representatives called for the Supreme Court to hear a case on banning funds for groups that promote the legalization or practice of prostitution and sex trafficking.

“The U.S. Justice Department should immediately petition the U.S. Supreme Court” to review a challenged funding prohibition in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, said Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) in an April 27 statement.

He explained that the law in question “prevents international groups that promote and enable prostitution and sex trafficking from receiving HIV/AIDS funding.”

Smith, who authored the funding prohibition, has a long history of championing anti-trafficking efforts.  

In addition to sponsoring the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act, he also serves as the co-chairman of the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus.

Several public health groups have brought a legal challenge against the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) over its anti-prostitution funding restriction.

The federal law requires groups that receive money under the 2003 Leadership Act to sign a pledge stating their opposition to both sex trafficking and prostitution.

Although the Alliance for Open Society International initially signed the pledge, it later sued USAID, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September 2005.

It was joined in the lawsuit by the Open Society Institute, Pathfinder International, the Global Health Council and InterAction.

The groups all object to the pledge requirement, saying that it would force them to adopt the government’s viewpoint.

They argued that restricting funding to organizations that oppose prostitution and sex trafficking amounts to an infringement of free speech.

A U.S. Court of Appeals panel sided with the health groups, ruling that the pledge requirement violates their right to free speech.

While USAID requested a rehearing before all the judges of the court, rather than just the panel, the request was denied.

The government is currently unable to enforce the pledge requirement due to a court injunction.

In an April 20 letter, two dozen Congressmen asked U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

The deadline to file the petition with the court is May 2.

The representatives noted that the panel’s decision is contrary to a 2007 ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Rather than coercively penalizing or suppressing free speech, the pledge requirement is a rational use of Congress’ spending powers, they argued.

It is “imperative” that the prohibition on funding “organizations or groups that support prostitution and sex trafficking be upheld in all jurisdictions,” the Congressmen said.

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Wikipedia founder praises John XXIII encyclical

Vatican City, Apr 28, 2012 (CNA) -

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has praised Pope John XXIII’s historic encyclical “Pacem in Terris” as “a great thing.”
 
“I would say what struck me about it was how modern it is and how in tune it is with modern thinking,” Wales told CNA in Rome April 27.

Wales is in Rome as a guest of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council of Social Sciences. From April 27 to May 1, the council’s 18th plenary session is exploring the legacy of the 1963 encyclical on global peace, which will mark its 50th anniversary next year. Wales, who is not Catholic, read the papal document for the first time last week.

“I thought I better do my homework,” he explained.

“You have the impression that the Catholic Church is quite old fashioned which it is, of course, in many ways,” said Wales, “but also that some of the thinking (in the encyclical) is quite up-to-date and quite modern, so I think that is a great thing.”

“Pacem in Terris,” whose name means “Peace on Earth,” was published on April 11, 1963. Pope John XXIII wrote it at a time when he knew he was terminally ill, and it is often described as his “last will and testament.” He died two months after its release.

The document’s overarching theme is the “tranquility of order” in society as a foundation for global peace. The Pope’s reflections were drawn from his re-reading of St. Augustine’s “City of God” in 1942, during the Second World War.

The work had great influence. “Pacem in Terris” is the only papal encyclical to be published in full by the New York Times.

University of Tulsa professor Russell Hittinger, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, told CNA that the plenary session on the encyclical is “a very good occasion” to examine the state of the world “to see what John XXIII anticipated, what was left out of the picture and how principles have to be reapplied.”

Jimmy Wales will speak to participants on Monday April 30 on the topic “Wikipedia, Free Knowledge and Peace.” He said he is keen to use his address to explore and explain the online encyclopedia’s “concept of neutrality.”

Anyone can edit Wikipedia articles, but this openness has forced it to develop a way to mediate disputes about facts and interpretations.

“I think one of the most important avenues towards peace is for people to first think about what we do agree upon and how can we characterize our disagreement in a way that at least we agree what we disagree about,” he said.

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