Archive of January 26, 2013

Rally against civil unions bill warns of 'great persecution'

Denver, Colo., Jan 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Around 200 opponents of a Colorado civil unions bill rallied at the state capitol Jan. 25, warning that the legislation not only redefines marriage but could shut down Catholic adoption agencies in the state.

“We stand up today because we see that the real goal of civil union legislation is social endorsement of same-sex unions, and soon enough, the redefinition of marriage,” said rally speaker Kate Sweeney, assistant director of the Colorado-based Catholic women's group ENDOW.

“Those with same-sex attraction have the right to live as they choose. But they do not have the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us,” she added.

Monsignor Thomas Fryar, the moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese of Denver, warned that the bill put religious freedom at risk.

“We have been involved in the state of Colorado for over 80 years in helping to take care of the children of our community and make sure they are placed in adoption and foster care in good, healthy, wholesome settings, for the good of our society,” he said.

Similar laws in other states forced the Catholic Church to end these programs.

“And that’s not right,” he said. “If this law passes, there is going to be great persecution of the faithful. We cannot allow that.”

The Colorado Catholic Conference organized the Protect and Support Marriage Rally in response to the legislature’s consideration of S.B. 11, which would provide civil unions for same-sex and opposite-sex couples with all the rights and duties of civil marriage. Opponents say it allows “gay marriage” by another name and contradicts the Colorado Constitution’s amendment defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

Unlike previous versions of the Colorado bill, the 2013 version lacks protections for child placement agencies that place children only with married couples. Government regulations and anti-discrimination laws in other states have shut down Catholic Charities adoption agencies and foster care, either directly or through the denial of government funds, because the agencies follow Catholic teaching and do not place children with same-sex or unmarried couples.

Bill sponsor Sen. Pat Steadman said that Catholic leaders still opposed his bill when it included the exemption so he decided not to include it in the latest version, the Denver Post reports. His same-sex partner died of pancreatic cancer last year.
At Friday's rally, former state Sen. Ed Jones reflected on his experience as an African-American in Mississippi and criticized those who depicted civil unions as a civil rights issue.

“I never saw a water fountain that said 'gays only,'” he said, urging participants to “send the governor a message” that the proposed legislation is “wrong.”

In her remarks, Sweeney noted that marriage is “about bringing men and women together so that children have both mothers and fathers.”

She recalled her own experience as a child of divorce and how she felt a “great vacuum” in the absence of her father despite the loving care of her mother and her many aunts.

Among the other speakers were several state senators and representatives, including House Minority Leader Frank McNulty. Luis Soto, director of the Archdiocese of Denver’s Hispanic Ministry, also addressed the crowd and local talk radio host and lawyer Dan Caplis emceed the event.

Pastor Ron Brenning of Grace Chapel in Englewood, Colo. delivered the rally’s opening prayer while Msgr. Fryar led the closing prayer.

Colorado Catholic Conference executive director Jennifer Kraska said Jan. 24 that the Catholic conference wanted the rally to be “a witness of the importance of marriage” and a way to let legislators know that constituents “feel strongly about protecting marriage.”

Rally attendee John Faes of Denver, a parishioner of Holy Family Catholic Church, told CNA/EWTN News that he attended “to protect marriage, to protect the natural law that God has given us, to have this union between a man and a woman.”

The bill was defeated in a House of Representatives committee in 2011 but its surprise committee victory in 2012 threw the Republican-controlled House into controversy. A filibuster at the close of the legislative session led the governor to call for a special session, where the bill was again defeated.

Democrats won control of the state House in the 2012 elections and are expected to pass the bill. Amendments to the bill may be offered any time within the process. On Wednesday the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against an amendment to restore protections for child placement agencies.

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Cardinal Burke heartened by US pro-life marches

Rome, Italy, Jan 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Raymond Burke says that the pro-life marches taking place across America this week “are a most important witness to the respect for the inviolable dignity of every human life.”

“It is heartening to note the increased participation in the pro-life marches,” the head of the Vatican's highest tribunal, the Apostolic Signatura, told CNA Jan. 23.

“Surely, the witness of the pro-life marches gives occasion for all citizens in the nation to consider their fundamental duty as citizens to promote the respect for human life and to foster human life in our society.”

From coast to coast, pro-life marches and rallies in America continue to mark the week of Jan. 22 as the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade – the Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized abortion throughout the nation. San Francisco's Walk for Life West Coast on Jan. 26 will be attended by Archbishop Carlo Viganò, nuncio to the United States.

The March for Life in Washington, D.C. occurred Jan. 25 and drew hundreds of thousands of participants.

Pope Benedict himself has shown support for the rallies, tweeting Jan. 25 that “I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.”

Cardinal Burke noted that the “greater the participation in the marches, the stronger the message is to our government that its citizens, those whom the government serves, desire most of all that the laws of the nation foster the common good by protecting all human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.”

The Wisconsin native, who served as archbishop of St. Louis before being called to Rome, also addressed the devastating effect that legalized abortion has had on the people of America.

The more than 50 million deaths in the wake of Roe v. Wade “is a great scourge in the United States of America and must be repaired at the earliest possible time,” he urged.

“In addition to the destruction of the innocent and defenseless human lives, women who have had abortions suffer greatly for the rest of their lives.”

“A woman, therefore, who has procured an abortion, will have understood that she has committed a grave sin, not only against the innocent human life conceived in her womb, but also against her own very person and identity,” Cardinal Burke reflected.

He also addressed the effect that the cultural acceptance of abortion has had on the way women are treated in American society.

“The loss of respect for woman in our society and the ever greater incidence of sexual promiscuity are all products of the loss of the respect for the inviolable dignity of the innocent and defenceless life of the unborn. One of the most deadly products is the multi-million dollar business of pornography on the internet.”

Cardinal Burke further said that abortion is an attack on the family.

“Abortion represents, of course, an attack on marriage because a man and woman become one flesh for love of each other and for the sake of the procreation and education of human life made in God’s own image and likeness. The practice of abortion attempts to deny the essentially procreative nature of the union of man and woman in marriage and, therefore, does a great violence to the family.”

Cardinal Burke commended “most highly” the American bishops' efforts to transform the country into “a civilization of life and love.”

“Prayer, in all of its forms, is of course the first and most important instrument for the conversion of hearts and for the transformation of our society,” he noted.

He also discussed the importance of explaining truth and goodness in overcoming the scourge of abortion. Cardinal Burke said, “the teaching of the natural moral law and conscience, that is, the moral truth known by right reason and confirmed and fully expressed in Divine Revelation” is also central.

“The Catholic Church, in particular, has a most serious obligation to give witness in the world to the truth of the natural moral law and to work for the salvation of the world through the transformation of the culture of death into the civilization of life and love,” he concluded.

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Vatican health official urges charity for leprosy sufferers

Vatican City, Jan 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Anticipating the 60th World Leprosy Day, the head of the Vatican council for health care workers encouraged Christians to intensify their love and service to those afflicted with the disease.

“This event constitutes for all Christians...a valuable opportunity to relaunch their efforts in favor of those who are directly afflicted by Mycobacterium Leprae or are indirectly affected by it,” Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers,  said Jan. 25.

He urged “a renewed drive for the social integration of those people who bear its marks.”

Leprosy causes skin lesions which often become infected. In 2011 some 220,000 persons contracted the disease, which can now be treated. Despite this, a social stigma around the disease persists, and leper colonies remain around the world, particularly in India.

Archbishop Zimowski pointed out an insufficient level of access to medical centers that can diagnose the disease, as well as a lack of education and medical initiatives. He also said that this and other diseases which afflict “disadvantaged” countries “do not receive sufficient attention from the international community.”

The archbishop noted several saints who have been shining examples of service to lepers. He first mentioned Saints Damian of Molokai and Marianne Cope, both of whom served at the Hawaiian leper colony in the late 19th century.

St. Marianne Cope was canonize recently, on Oct. 21, 2012. At a Mass said in celebration of her canonization Jan. 12, Bishop Clarence Silva of Honolulu said, “She believed the story of his (Christ's) being cruelly confined to a rough-hewn cross, with many wishing that he would just disappear, and therefore found Jesus in those who had been cruelly confined, with the hope that they would soon disappear, on this rough cross of Kalaupapa.”

In his message, Archbishop Zimowski also mentioned Blessed Jan Beyzym, a Jesuit who served the lepers of Madagascar much as St. Damian did for those in Molokai, and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity.

Finally, the Polish prelate discussed the Servants of God Marcello Candia and Raoul Follereau. Candia was a lay missionary, and Follereau was a spokesman for leprosy patients, establishing World Leprosy Day in 1954.

Archbishop Zimowski addressed those suffering from leprosy, as well as those who help them. The community, he said, are called to help establish a more just society, to promote leprosy's diagnosis and treatment, and to stress “the need to receive therapies so as to be cured.”

An afflicted Christian, he said, “also has the possibility of living his or her condition in a perspective of faith, 'finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love,' praying and offering up his or her suffering for the good of the Church and humanity.”

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