Washington D.C., May 25, 2012 (CNA) - A new survey shows that while more Americans are opposing the federal contraception mandate, the majority of voters also doubt that Catholic institutions would shut down rather than comply with the rule.
According to a May 22-23 Rasmussen poll, 51 percent of voters find it unlikely that Catholic organizations would shut down rather than buy insurance to cover abortifacients, sterilizations and contraceptives, as required by the Obama Administration's Health and Human Services mandate.
Although 43 Catholic institutions recently announced lawsuits against the federal government over the mandate, only 40 percent of voters believe it to be “somewhat likely” that institutions would actually close their doors over the issue.
Sixteen percent believe such action to be “very likely” while 17 percent think it would be “not at all likely.”
Despite this doubt, 51 percent of voters disagree that the government should force religious organizations to provide contraception coverage if it violates their beliefs. Thirty-six percent of voters support this policy even if it violates religious beliefs.
Overall support of the mandate has fallen slightly when compared to those surveyed in a Feb. 7 poll. Of those questioned in the most recent poll, only 39 percent of voters favor the mandate as compared to the 43 percent who supported it in an earlier poll.
This new poll indicates a slight rise in women's opposition to the mandate, with female voters now evenly split over the issue. Men still overwhelmingly disagree with the mandate, with 52 percent in opposition and 34 percent in favor.
Denver, Colo., May 25, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
As the presidential election draws closer, political expert Brian Burch is telling Catholics that if they turn out in slightly larger numbers at the polls, they will be “the decisive vote this November.”
Although some Catholics tend to shy away from the political sphere with the mindset that it is unrelated to their faith, Burch said that due to recent developments, “we no longer have the luxury of keeping politics separate from religion.”
“Politics in the state, in our federal government in particular, is coming into our religion and we need to stand up now before it gets any worse,” the founder and president of CatholicVote.org told CNA in a recent interview.
Burch noted that in light of the federal contraception mandate and the president's recent support of “gay marriage,” Catholics have become increasingly aware of how politics are impacting their religion.
The federal contraception mandate, if enacted in its current form, will force employers to purchase insurance which covers sterilization, contraception and abortion-inducing drugs regardless of their deeply held religious beliefs.
On May 21, 43 Catholic organizations across the country, including dioceses, universities, hospitals and private businesses, filed lawsuits against the Obama administration, citing infringement of their First Amendment rights to religious freedom.
“We can't forget that religious freedom and the role of religion was what our founders built this country on,” Burch said, noting that the colonists originally fled England in order to practice their faith “without the intrusion of the state.”
The Catholic vote is not so much about “converting the Nancy Peolosis and the Joe Bidens of the world” as it is about making sure those who “love our faith and want to see it protected” turn out in larger numbers to vote in November, Burch explained.
According to statistics, “it's the people that don't vote that are actually the largest swing vote.” If Catholics turn out in a few percentage points of larger numbers, “we can decide this election.”
Catholic Vote had endorsed Rick Santorum while he was still a contender for the GOP nomination.
The former Pennsylvania senator dropped his campaign on April 10, but has since endorsed his former rival, Mitt Romney, after a meeting in which both men agreed on many issues such as traditional marriage and reining in government spending.
Catholic Vote has yet to formally endorse any other candidate, but Burch said his movement is working with their volunteers and subscribers on the decision and will announce “something very soon.”
Vatican City, May 25, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A person suspected of leaking sensitive internal Vatican documents has been arrested and is currently being detained “in a secure room” by the Vatican police.
“The investigation initiated by the Gendarmerie under instructions received by the Commission of Cardinals and under the direction of the Promoter of Justice, has identified a person in possession of confidential documents,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told the media May 25.
Italian media reports are naming the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, as the person being held by police. Gabriele's position would have allowed him access to the Pope's quarters and a search of his apartment has allegedly revealed a cache of confidential documents.
The arrest follows several months of so-called “Vatileaks” in which numerous documents about the internal workings of the Vatican were passed on to the Italian media.
Last week, Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi released a new book entitled “Sua Santita” (His Holiness), which contained a series of leaked letters addressed personally to Pope Benedict.
In it he gives his mole the codename “Maria,” although he also claims to have more than one source of information inside the Vatican.
Earlier this year the same journalist also revealed confidential correspondence sent to Pope Benedict by the current Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.
In those letters, Archbishop Vigano pleaded to remain in his previous post as Secretary of the Vatican City’s government. He also claimed to be the victim of a smear campaign by those aggrieved at his reforms of the Vatican’s purchasing procedures.
In response to the spate of leaks, Pope Benedict established in April a special commission of three cardinals, chaired by the Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, to investigate their source.
Cardinal Herranz told CNA on the evening of May 24 that the leaks were “confusing souls and also giving the Church and the Holy See a completely unfair image.”
The case of the suspect arrested today is being dealt with by the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice, Nicola Picardi, who is the chief prosecutor for the Vatican City State.
It is unclear at present whether any potential prosecution would be dealt with by Vatican or Italian courts. The 1929 Lateran Treaty between the two states does make provision for crimes within the Vatican City State to be dealt with through the Italian legal system, with the Vatican picking up the cost for any trial or imprisonment.
Updated at 12:18 p.m. MST. Adds media reports about Pope's butler being the suspect.
Vatican City, May 25, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The President of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, has been fired from his post following a vote of no-confidence by the bank's supervisory board.
“Over time this area had generated increasing worries among the members of the board and, despite repeated efforts to communicate these concerns to Professor Gotti Tedeschi, President of the Works of Religion, the situation deteriorated further,” read a communiqué issued by the Vatican May 25.
“Following discussion of the issues, the board members voted unanimously in favor of a motion expressing no confidence in the president for not having carried out various responsibilities of primary importance regarding his office.”
The exact nature of the alleged failures was not detailed in the communiqué.
“I am torn between the anxiety to explain the truth and not wanting to disturb the Holy Father,” Gotti Tedeschi told Italian news agency ANSA on May 25 following his departure.
“My love for the Pope also prevails above the defense of my reputation so cravenly called into question.”
Gotti Tedeschi, 67, had been head of the Vatican Bank, also known as the Institute for Works of Religion, since 2009. His appointment was widely seen as attempt by the Vatican to become more transparent in its financial dealings.
In July, the Council of Europe is expected to decide on the bid by the Vatican to be placed on the organization’s “White List” of countries adhering to their strict code of financial ethics.
Those efforts seemed to take a setback in 2010 when the Italian authorities temporarily seized $30 million from the Vatican Bank. It was alleged the bank had not complied with Italian laws requiring the disclosure of information about account holders and beneficiaries.
In response the Vatican created a Financial Information Authority in 2011 to scrutinize and police the financial and commercial dealings of all Vatican agencies, including the Vatican Bank.
In recent months, however, the Vatican has again been dogged by allegations of fraud following the leak of sensitive internal documents to the Italian press.
Gotti Tedeschi has had a long career in finance, having previously served as the head of Italian operations for Banco Santander, the largest private bank in Europe. He is also a former professor of financial ethics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan.
Following his departure the board of the Vatican Bank said it is now “now looking ahead to the search for a new and distinguished president” who can help the bank “regain effective and wider relations between the institute and the financial community based on the shared respect of accepted international banking standards.”
That search will begin today with a meeting of the Commission of Cardinals. In the interim, the presidency will be assumed by the bank’s vice-president Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz.
Bogotá, Colombia, May 25, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - An overwhelming majority of Colombians have voiced opposition to a ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court granting homosexuals the right to adopt.
According to the first online poll taken since the ruling by Noticias Caracol, 67 percent of respondents said they oppose the decision.
By 10:30 a.m. on May 24, some 9,000 votes had been taken in the poll. More than 7,000 respondents said they disagreed with allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.
Colombia’s Constitutional Court recently ruled that Charles Ellis Burr, a columnist with the New York Times, could legally adopt two children who already reside with him in New York. Burr, a practicing homosexual, had concealed his orientation from the adoption agency and country officials.
In December, a judge in Bogota granted Burr permission to leave the country with the children. But Colombia’s Attorney General appealed the ruling, arguing that Burr did not reveal his homosexuality and was not subjected to a thorough personal review.
The Attorney General also asked the adoption agency to follow up on Burr’s case monthly and to review the policy on how adoption requests from single-parent families or single persons are processed.
The court ruled in favor of Burr, however, and the Attorney General's office is now expected to appeal the court’s ruling and request it be overturned.
Washington D.C., May 25, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif. has clarified that he is united with his fellow bishops in their efforts to oppose the threat to religious freedom posed by the federal contraception mandate.
“I stand solidly with my brother bishops in our common resolve to overturn the unacceptable intrusion of government into the life of the Church by the HHS Mandate,” said Bishop Blaire in a May 24 statement.
He explained that he wanted to “clarify some misunderstandings” related to his earlier comments about the mandate.
A May 22 article in America magazine quoted Bishop Blaire as having concerns about an announcement the day before that 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations around the U.S. were filing lawsuits against the federal government.
Filed in 12 different jurisdictions across the country, the lawsuits challenge a federal mandate that will require employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.
Bishops from every diocese in the U.S. have spoken out against the regulation, warning that it poses a serious threat to religious liberty and could force Catholic schools, hospitals and charitable organizations to close.
Several media outlets and commentators have used Bishop Blaire’s comments to suggest division among the bishops regarding the mandate.
However, Bishop Blaire said that his comments have been misunderstood. He stressed his full support for his brother bishops in their efforts to fight the mandate and protect religious freedom.
He noted that the bishops’ administrative committee issued a statement in March committing to fight the mandate through appeals to the Obama administration, Congress or the courts.
“I contributed to and voted for this statement, and continue to support it, including its call for legal action as was announced on Monday,” he said.
Some liberal commentators have also suggested divisions exist among the bishops because not every diocese in the country filed a lawsuit.
However, individuals involved in the strategy discussions behind the legal action explained that the initiative did not intend to have each diocese file a suit. Rather, certain dioceses were chosen to represent a wide cross-section of the concerns and interests voiced by all the dioceses in the country.
Numerous bishops from dioceses that did not file a lawsuit have spoken out in support of the legal efforts, confirming that they are represented by the actions of their fellow bishops.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, who leads the U.S. bishops’ religious freedom committee, described the speculation about a lack of unity as “elements of the media looking for what they perceive to be a little, small crack in the wall.”
Speaking on EWTN's “The World Over” with Raymond Arroyo on May 24, the archbishop said that these media reports are “missing the whole story.”
He explained that the bishops have held numerous discussions and “no one disagrees about our need to defend our religious liberty.”
Bishop Blaire believes that the recent lawsuits share the same “essential goal” as the discussions with the administration and congressional advocacy.
These efforts are all united in seeking “to defend the right of the Church to define herself and to preserve the identity and integrity of the Catholic ministries exercised through her institutions,” he said.
The bishop said he recognizes that religious freedom is critical in allowing the Church to fulfill her God-given mission. It is “totally unacceptable” for the federal government to force Catholic institutions to violate their core beliefs, he said.
Bishop Blaire also urged efforts “to persuade others to join us in this just cause through reasoned civil and respectful discussion.”
He said that he looks forward to discussions at the upcoming meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference in Atlanta this June, which will provide “an opportunity to agree on next steps to achieve our common and essential goal of ending this violation of religious freedom.”
Madrid, Spain, May 25, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A judge in the Spanish city of Palma has ordered a doctor and his clinic to provide financial support for a baby who survived a botched abortion until the child's 25th birthday.
According to local media, the mother of the child attempted to procure an abortion on April 20, 2010. Two weeks later, the doctor – identified as E.R.K. – said X-rays showed the baby had been extracted from the womb.
Three months later, however, the woman discovered she was still pregnant. She returned to the clinic to undergo another abortion, but because she was in her twenty-second week, the clinic refused to perform the procedure.
In the ruling, the judge said the mother did not want the child and had done everything legally possible to prevent his birth. For this reason, he argued, she could not be compelled to support the baby, who is now 18 months old.
The doctor was also ordered to pay the woman $530,000 in damages.
Reacting to the news, the president of the local Baleares Medical College, Antoni Bennassar, criticized the ruling and asked, “Were the damages from the baby being born or not being born?”
Bennassar said the judge's order was surprising to him not only as a doctor but also as “a normal person.” People are punished for crimes and assaults, not for births, he noted.