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Archive of April 30, 2013

US bishops say budget should prioritize poor

Washington D.C., Apr 30, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. bishops have responded to President Barack Obama's 2014 budget proposal with a call to give high priority to funding for those in need.

“As persistently high poverty and unemployment plague our nation, and war and crushing poverty tear families apart around the world, a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts to programs that help people live in a manner worthy of their human dignity,” Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif. and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa said in an April 22 letter to members of Congress.

Bishop Blaire chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, while Bishop Pates chairs the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

“The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless, and poor are treated,” the bishops said.

“Their voices are too often missing, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources.”

President Obama proposed a $3.77 trillion budget for 2014 on April 10, amid continued congressional debate over various scenarios.

Democratic leaders have offered proposals to build the economy through new government spending on job training and economic stimulus measures, while closing loopholes to increase tax revenue. They have argued against reducing the deficit through significant spending cuts to social aid programs.

Top Republicans have countered that the cuts to spending in their plan – including spending on social aid programs – are justified because the plan would balance the budget and boost the economy, resulting in greater job creation and reducing the need for people to participate in aid programs. They also contend that many social aid programs can be run effectively on less money by transferring authority from the federal to state level or instating other reform measures.

In their letter, the bishops emphasized that budget decisions should be measured by whether they protect or threaten human life and dignity.

“The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first,” they continued, calling upon government and other institutions to “promote the common good of all.”

The bishops said this responsibility especially concerns “ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times.”

They called for a “circle of protection” around the poor and vulnerable and “shared sacrifice by all.” The bishops said a just budget requires raising adequate revenues, ending unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing “fairly” the long-term costs of health

However, they said that proposed limits on income tax deductions could unintentionally harm charitable giving and adversely affect Catholic organizations that help serve those in need.

The bishops praised the president’s concern for those living in or near poverty. They also lauded programs they said strengthen the family and decrease child poverty.

But they lamented “deeply troubling” reductions for disaster assistance, citing growing humanitarian need in places like Syria. they also opposed proposed cuts to anti-nuclear proliferation programs.

They also urged “robust funding” for international programs for HIV/AIDS treatment, maternal and child health, development and refugee services.

“The bishops stand ready to work with leaders of both parties for a budget that reduces future deficits, protects poor and vulnerable people, advances the common good, and promotes human life and dignity,” Bishops Blaire and Pates said.

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Videos show Gosnell practices in other abortion clinics

Washington D.C., Apr 30, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Newly released videos from Live Action, a pro-life advocacy group, show that doctor Kermit Gosnell's practice of murdering infants who survive abortions is not isolated to his facility.

“It is clear from our investigation that the horrors revealed during the Kermit Gosnell trial are not exclusive to that clinic,” Lila Rose, president of Live Action, stated April 29.

“Our videos expose the truly gruesome, illegal, and inhuman practices going on inside many of America’s abortion clinics...these inhuman practices are just another day at the office for abortionists and their staff.”

Closing arguments were made in Gosnell's trial on April 29 as the Pennsylvania abortionist is charged with the murder of one mother and four infants. The babies were allegedly killed in his Philadelphia clinic, the Women's Medial Society, after being born alive following botched procedures.

Charges involving three other infants were thrown out, after the trial judge decided the prosecution had not presented enough evidence that they had been born alive.

Nine of Gosnell's employees have faced state and federal charges for their actions at the clinic. Eight have plead guilty to various charges in the case – three of them to third-degree murder.

Former employee Stephen Massof in courtroom testimony in early April said that he saw about 100 babies born alive. He said clinic workers then “snipped” the back of their necks to ensure their “demise.”

Massof is in prison after having plead guilty to third-degree murder in the deaths of two newborns.

In a January 2011 Grand Jury report, District Attorney R. Seth Williams found that the Pennsylvania Department of Health had contact with Gosnell’s clinic in 1979, when it first approved it. The department did not conduct another site review until 1989, finding “numerous violations.” Two site reviews found more violations in 1992 and 1993, but failed to make corrections.

“With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge,” the report said, “officials concluded that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay.”

Bob Casey was a pro-life Democrat who was replaced as Pennsylvania governor by abortion-supporting Republican Tom Ridge in 1995.

An undercover video released by Live Action on April 28 of this year showed a counselor at The Bronx's Dr. Emily Woman's Health Center saying the clinic would put a born-alive infant in a jar filled with solution that would ensure its death, should the abortion procedure be unsuccessful.

Dr. Emily's boasts on its website that it offers “gentle abortion” which is “streamlined for your convenience, and that for abortions performed between 20 and 24 weeks, “anesthesia guarantees that patients have no pain and no recollection of the procedure.”

The undercover investigator, who was at least 23 weeks pregnant, asked what would be done with the child after the abortion. The counselor responded that they would put the corpse “in like a jar, a container, with solution, and send it to the lab.”

And if the child twitches, perhaps showing signs of life, “the solution will make it stop. That’s the whole purpose of the solution,” the counselor said. “It will automatically stop. It won’t be able to breathe anymore.”

Another Live Action video shows Dr. Cesare Santangelo, an abortionist in the District of Columbia, saying that when a child survives abortion, “legally we would be obligated to help it, you know, to survive. But...it’s all in how vigorously you do things to help a fetus survive at this point. Let’s say you went into labor, the membranes ruptured, and you delivered before we got to the termination part of the procedure here, you know? Then we would do things – we would – we would not help it.”

Santangelo compared the decision to a terminal cancer patient with 'do not resuscitate' orders. “We could do the same things here,” he concluded.

Rose told CNA April 29 that Live Action conducted its investigations into late-term abortions knowing that a 2007 study in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that 1 in 30 children survive abortion attempts, and that up to 1 in 10 children survive abortion attempts performed after 23 weeks of gestation.

“Our weakest children may be surviving these brutal late term abortions, because in a late term abortion procedure you're inducing labor,” Rose said.  

“You have to effectively deliver a child, which the abortionist has to kill either in the process or in utero, but sometimes that baby comes out alive.”

A report from Philadelphia's ABC affiliate, WPVI, on April 9, revealed that several nurses at Planned Parenthood of Delaware had left their employment at the abortion clinic over unsanitary conditions and safety concerns.

“I couldn't tell you how ridiculously unsafe it was,” Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich told WPVI. And Joyce Vasikonis added that “they were using instruments on patients that were not sterile.”

The news report said the two nurses quit Planned Parenthood of Delaware “to protect their own medical licenses.”

On April 26, President Obama spoke at Planned Parenthood's 2013 conference, thanking the organization for their “outstanding leadership” and “remarkable work...providing quality health care to women.”

He derided recent pro-life legislation passed in states such as North Dakota, where recently abortion was outlawed beginning at six weeks after conception, when the child's heartbeat is discernible.

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Council of Europe hailed for religious freedom resolution

Strasbourg, France, Apr 30, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A resolution passed by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly is being lauded as an important – although limited – recognition of religious and conscience rights in the public sphere.

“The important step with this resolution is the mention of the right to conscientious objection and the enlargement of its scope of application,” Dr. Grégor Puppinck, director general of the European Centre for Law and Justice, told CNA April 29.

“It is the first time that I see a document, a source of law, saying there is a right to conscientious objection and freedom of conscience in all 'morally sensitive matters,'” he said, which means it applies to the fundamental right of parents to educate their children.

Resolution 1928, passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on April 24, says, “The Assembly therefore calls on member States to … accommodate religious beliefs in the public sphere by guaranteeing freedom of thought in relation to health care, education and the civil service.”

However, this accommodation is “provided that the rights of others to be free from discrimination are respected and that the access to lawful services is guaranteed.” This has made some critics wary that rights of religious freedom will be viewed as inferior and secondary to abortion and gay “rights.”

The Council of Europe, which works to promote co-operation among its 47 member states in the area of human rights, adopted the measure almost unanimously, by a vote of 148-3, with seven abstentions.

The resolution's adoption followed spirited debate on a report by an Italian representative, Luca Volonte, on “violence against religious communities.”

The effort to pass the measure met strong resistance from Scandinavian delegates. One Danish representative, complained that the report “insists on putting religious rights above other fundamental rights … of course freedom of religion should be respected, but it should not stand in the way of the right to lawful service, the right to abortion and equality for all, regardless of their homosexuality or heterosexuality.”

Puppinck explained that while “the wording of the resolution is not perfect” and he would have preferred that it be “stronger,” it is not “absolutely bad” and it will in fact “make it easier to uphold Christians' rights” to education of children, freedom of expression and conscientious objection.

The resolution, he said, is a follow-up to a 2011 resolution of the Assembly which focused on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, which was re-iterated in strong terms in Resolution 1928.

Because it has become “more and more difficult to advocate in Europe” for the three areas of religious freedom mentioned above, Puppinck explained that the resolution is a step forward as an affirmation of those rights.

“Those rights were negated widely in northern Europe, and they are negated by the Socialist governments, so it's important to talk about and to recognize those rights.”

He cited efforts in France, Spain, Germany and Russia which aim to decrease parental rights regarding the education of their children and use state education to promote secularist values.

“In France we are facing a difficult time with our government, which does not at all respect parental rights,” Puppinck explained. “We have some members of the French government who say children belong first to the state, to the community, and secondly to the family.”

He therefore lauded the resolution for reaffirming the “rights of parents concerning the education of children.”

The part of the resolution restricting religious freedom when it clashes with other rights was neither authored by Volonte nor was it present in the original draft, Puppinck said. Rather, this language entered through amendments adopted after debate on the topic, and Volonte assented to them so as to gain a large majority of support for the resolution.

Volonte chaired a seminar after the resolution's adoption which focused on the cases of two British Christians who were penalized in their workplaces for their religious beliefs.

In January, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Shirly Chaplin, a nurse who was kept from wearing a cross at work, and Gary McFarlane, a therapist who was fired for saying he would be unable to give sex therapy to homosexual couples, had not had their rights unduly violated by U.K. workplace discrimination law.

While acknowledging that the religious beliefs motivating their acts at work were worthy of protection, the court decided that British law in their cases fell within a wide “margin of appreciation,” which gives legislatures and employers broad discretion about how to balance conflicting “rights.”
 
Chaplin and McFarlane have appealed the decision to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, which is also a body of the Council of Europe.

The assembly's resolutions influence the decisions of the court, Puppinck noted, adding that the cases of McFarlane and Chaplin were part of the motivation for introducing the resolution.

In the January decision against Chaplin and McFarlane, the court did find that British law had insufficiently protected another Christian, Nadia Eweida. It ruled that her freedom of religion had been breached after she was kept from wearing a cross in her employment at British Airways.

All these cases, and the resolution, are part of a growing trend of Europe's “clash of rights” cases involving Christian identity and expression in the public sphere.

Chaplin and McFarlane have appealed to the Grand Chamber saying that protections for the freedom of “thought, conscience and religion” will be effectively meaningless if the Court does not clarify how the rights of Christians, and other religious persons, are to be balanced with the rights upheld by secular persons and societies.

The Grand Chamber is not expected to decide whether to hear the case for several weeks.

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Pope targets worldly Church as biggest threat

Vatican City, Apr 30, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The “greatest danger” for the Church is if it becomes worldly, since this prevents her from communicating the message of the Cross, Pope Francis said.

“When the Church becomes worldly, when she has the spirit of the world within herself … it is a weak Church, a defeated Church, unable to transmit the Gospel, the message of the Cross, the scandal of the Cross ... She cannot transmit this if she is worldly,” Pope Francis preached April 30 at his daily Mass.

Pope Francis based his homily on today’s Gospel reading from John 14 in which Jesus says to the disciples, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.’

Jesus also encouraged the disciples not to be afraid or troubled, because although he would soon go to the Father and that would involve “the ruler of the world” appearing to have power over him, he would return.

Pope Francis zeroed in on the moment of Christ’s Passion and how it related to the Church today, as he addressed staffers from the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See who were present at the Mass.

“The prince of the world comes but can do nothing against me: if we don’t want the prince of this world to take the Church into his hands, we must entrust it to the One who can defeat the prince of this world,” he stated.

And this raises the question: “do we pray for the Church, for the entire Church? For our brothers and sisters whom we do not know, everywhere in the world?” he asked.

It is “easy to pray for the grace of the Lord,” “to thank him” for blessings or to ask him for things we need, the Pope noted, but our prayers should also include our fellow believers who have “received the same Baptism.”

“Can we safeguard the Church, can we cure the Church, no? We do so with our work, but what’s most important is what the Lord does: he is the only one who can look into the face of evil and overcome it,” he said.

Pope Francis stressed that this way of praying is “also an act of faith” because it acknowledges that God alone can protect the Church and make it holy. If Catholics entrust the Church to Christ, including those who are experiencing “great tribulations and persecutions,” he “will give us … the peace that only He can give,” he said.

“May the Lord make us strong so we do not lose faith, so we do not lose hope.”

Offering the Church to the Lord, the Pope concluded, “will do us and the Church good. It will give us great peace (and although) it will not rid us of our tribulations, it will make us stronger in our sufferings.”

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Vatican monastery prepares for Benedict XVI's return

Vatican City, Apr 30, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Benedict XVI will return to the Vatican on May 2 by helicopter, coming back the same way he left just two months ago when he resigned as Pope.

The return of a former Pope is something that has no historical precedent, making everything a new one for the Vatican’s staff.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican’s press office, told CNA April 30 that “there will be someone there to welcome Benedict XVI” but he is not yet sure who that will be.

The former Pope will arrive by helicopter around 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon, and after a brief greeting will head to the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, where he will live a life of prayer and meditation.

Since he resigned from the papacy on Feb. 28, Benedict XVI has been living at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

Blessed John Paul II opened the cloistered monastery in May 1994 as a place dedicated solely to prayer for the Pope, his ministry and the cardinals.  

It contains a chapel, a choir room, a library, a semi-basement, a terrace and a visiting room.

Different groups of nuns have lived in the monastery since it was created, rotating out every three years.

But when Benedict XVI announced Feb. 11 that he would abdicate the papacy, the building was empty.

The last group of religious to live in Mater Ecclesiae left in Nov. 2012 when the Vatican began renovations on the building to take replace old windows, fix a problem with humidity in the basement and make repairs to a rooftop terrace.  

Mater Ecclesiae will also be home to four consecrated women who have taken care of the papal household since Benedict became pontiff in 2005, and his personal secretary Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who is also the head of the Prefecture of the Papal Household.

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Israeli president discusses Middle East conflict, invites Pope to visit

Vatican City, Apr 30, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Israeli president Shimon Peres invited Pope Francis to visit the Holy Land during an April 30 meeting with him at the Vatican.

“I am expecting you in Jerusalem, not just me but the whole country of Israel,” Peres told the Pope in the Apostolic Palace.

He made his invitation in front of journalists after holding a private 30-minute meeting with the pontiff in which they discussed the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.

The Vatican released a statement noting that “a speedy resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is hoped for.”

“So that,” it added, “with the courageous decisions and availability of both sides as well as support from the international community, an agreement may be reached that respects the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples, thus decisively contributing to the peace and stability of the region.”

Pope Francis and President Peres also spent time discussing the “conflict that plagues Syria” and hoped for a political solution that “privileges the logic of reconciliation and dialogue,” the Vatican communiqué said.

The two heads of State also discussed relations between Israel and the Holy See, as well as relations between state authorities and local Catholic communities.

The Vatican stated that during their talks they appreciated “significant progress made by the Bilateral Working Commission, which is preparing an agreement regarding issues of common interest” and that a rapid conclusion is expected.

The Bilateral Working Commission includes fiscal negotiations, which were resumed in 2004.

Agreements still need to be reached on taxation and what degree of exemption Catholic churches and institutions have in Israel.

Other issues involve agreeing on which ecclesiastical properties and what level of immunity of expropriation they should enjoy.

After his meeting with Pope Francis, the Israeli president met with the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and with the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

President Peres will be travelling on May 1 to Assisi, Italy, the hometown of the Pope’s patron saint, Francis of Assisi.

There he will be awarded with an “Honorary Citizenship for Peace” and with a key to the city.

 

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Columnist blasts media for Gosnell tardiness

Philadelphia, Pa., Apr 30, 2013 (CNA) - In a column written for Catholic News Agency, former editor-in-chief of the National Catholic Register Francis Maier has called attention to the media's failure to cover the trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.

Closing arguments were made in Gosnell's trial in Philadelphia on April 29. He is charged with the murder of one mother and four infants who were allegedly killed after being born alive despite his efforts to abort them.

Charges involving three other infants were thrown out, after the trial judge decided the prosecution had not presented enough evidence that they had been born alive.

Nine of Gosnell's employees have faced state and federal charges for their actions at the clinic. Eight have already pleaded guilty to various charges in the case – three of them to third-degree murder.

“Most prestigious national media have seemed remarkably eager to ignore the story until shamed into covering it,” Maier wrote in his April 30 column.

He said that Philadelphia media outlets have done a good job covering the story, but noted that it took the New York Times about a month to pay any attention to the story.

“The vivid details of the Gosnell clinic tragedy have the kind of salacious appeal that few national media would normally avoid – if the issue were anything else,” he explained.

For Maier, a Philadelphia resident, the most compelling story in the Gosnell case is the lack of attention that it garnered for so long. He blames mainstream media for ignoring the inconvenience of the story. Learning of the horrors committed at Gosnell's clinic, Americans might be faced with the horror of abortion overall.

Maier finds it distressing that outlets should keep the facts of Gosnell's practices out of the news lest people be compelled to do anything about such practices.

“Some stories, no matter how unsettling, just can't be ignored – even when some people are determined to look away,” he said.

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Retired Illinois bishop dies after 70 years of priesthood

Rockford, Ill., Apr 30, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop emeritus Arthur J. O'Neill of Rockford, Ill., died at his residence on April 27. The 95-year-old had recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

The faithful will be able to visit Bishop O'Neill's body on May 2 from 4-8 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rockford, and the Office of the Dead will be prayed there at 7:30.

Bishop O'Neill's funeral Mass will be said the following day, May 3, at 11 a.m. by Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford.

Born Dec. 14, 1917 in East Dubuque, in the Rockford diocese, Bishop O'Neill attended seminary at St. Mary's in Baltimore. He was ordained a priest on March 27, 1943.

While a priest, Bishop O'Neill served as a pastor, editor of the diocesan paper “The Observer,” director of a men's spiritual association, the Holy Name Society, head of the diocesan commission on sacred music and as a member of the diocesan tribunal.

Bishop O'Neill was named a monsignor in 1963, and was appointed Bishop of Rockford on Aug. 19, 1968. His episcopal motto was “Ut omnes unum sint,” which means “That all may be one.” He was consecrated a bishop on Oct. 11 of that year by Archbishop Luigi Raimondi, then the apostolic delegate to the U.S.

As bishop of Rockford, he established several parishes and institutions, as well as offices for communications and Hispanic ministry. In 1976, he oversaw the sponsoring of 108 refugees from Vietnam who settled in the diocese.

Bishop O'Neill retired as bishop of Rockford in 1994, two years past the mandatory retirement age of 75. He had served as the diocesan bishop for nearly 26 years.

His family has asked that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Rockford Diocese's Stewardship Appeal.

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Murdered Guatemalan bishop remembered for peace efforts

Guatemala City, Guatemala, Apr 30, 2013 (CNA) - During a Mass to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi’s death, Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian of Guatemala City recalled the late bishop as a “martyr of peace.”

The Mass was celebrated upon conclusion of a document about the violence caused by the Guatemalan civil war from 1960-1996. Numerous bishops and priests from the country concelebrated.

“He fought to build a more just and decent society” and “sought peace through truth and justice,” Archbishop Vian said during the Mass at the Cathedral of Guatemala City.

He urged Guatemalans to leave behind fear, pessimism and frustration and to keep alive the memory of Bishop Gerardi in their hearts.

Bishop Gerardi was murdered in the garage of his residence at St. Sebastian’s Parish, located just 200 yards from the government headquarters, on April 26, 1998. His death came two days after he presented a report on human rights violations during the country’s civil war. Most of the atrocities were attributed to the Guatemalan army.

Two soldiers and a priest, Father Mario Orantes, were convicted in his murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison. In 2012, all three were released after completing half of their sentences.

Last Tuesday, Bishop Gerardi’s remains were exhumed from the Cathedral crypt and will be interred again at a small chapel at St. Sebastian’s for pastoral reasons, as the crypt is too small to host the large number of pilgrims who come to pay homage to the late bishop.

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US bishops name religious freedom advocate as president's spokeswoman

Washington D.C., Apr 30, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has hired religious liberty attorney and mother of six Kim Daniels as spokesperson for conference president Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.

The bishops’ conference said April 29 that it “welcomes” Daniels, who brings with her experience as director of Catholic Voices USA, a lay Catholic organization that “works to bring the positive message of the Church across a broad range of issues to the public square.”

In recent years, Daniels has emerged as a leader in efforts to engage the culture and spread Catholic teaching in new ways, particularly on crucial topics for the Church in the U.S.

The announcement of the new position drew praise from her colleagues.

“Kim is a gifted and natural communicator whose life is testimony to her love of Christ. Her vocational life as a wife, mother, and religious liberties attorney are joyfully ordered to her love of God,” said Kathryn Jean-Lopez, a columnist, editor and Catholic Voices USA coordinator in an April 29 blog post.

Catholic Voices USA, which was inspired by its U.K. counterpart, seeks to respond to Pope Benedict XVI’s call “for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity.” It helps train lay Catholics to speak about their faith in debates, interviews and other public settings.

Daniels also co-founded the Women Speak for Themselves movement with Helen Alvaré, a George Mason University law professor who has previously represented the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-life Activities.

Women Speak for Themselves helped give a voice to more than 38,000 women who objected to politicians assuming that they supported the controversial HHS mandate that requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception – including some drugs that can cause early abortions – and sterilization, all of which are recognized as immoral by Catholic teaching.

The mandate, which has drawn lawsuits from nearly 200 plaintiffs across the country, has been a prominent religious liberty concern for the Church in recent months, along with conscience protection issues involving abortion, attempts to redefine marriage and immigration.

Daniels will now address religious freedom matters and other pressing issues as the first ever spokesperson for the U.S. bishops’ conference president.

The move follows debate at the U.S. bishops’ spring assembly in June 2012 about how to improve the Church’s communications model in light of rapid changes in media and reporting.

Bishops who supported hiring a rapid-response spokesperson said the position is necessary to provide immediate comment on important issues. The current process for issuing an official statement can take one or two days. Other bishops voiced concerns that the position would undermine statements from the hierarchy.

However, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of the U.S. bishops’ communications committee, stressed at the meeting that the U.S. bishops cannot meet present and future challenges “without embracing a culture of innovation and experimentation in communications.”

The U.S. bishops’ conference has its own communications office, headed by Sister Mary Ann Walsh. Daniels’ position as spokeswoman for the conference president is distinct from this office.

A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago Law School, Daniels has six children with her husband, David. They are parishioners at a Bethesda, Md., Catholic church in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

Among her other initiatives, Daniels has served as counsel for the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, a non-profit Christian legal group. She has also worked as an adviser for former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

Her columns have appeared in numerous secular and religious publications, including the Washington Post, Our Sunday Visitor and Catholic News Agency.

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Morning-after pill to be made available over the counter

Washington D.C., Apr 30, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - On April 30, the Food and Drug Administration approved over the counter sale of the morning-after pill Plan B One-Step to “women 15 years of age and older.”

Plan B One-Step is the name of the drug, made exclusively by Teva Women's Health, Inc., which acts as an emergency contraceptive which reduces the possibility of pregnancy when taken up to three days after sexual intercourse. It is taken as a single-dose 1.5 mg tablet of levonorgestrel.

Pharmacies and retailers with on-site pharmacies will have the drug on shelves, and those wishing to purchase it will have to provide proof of age. Teva has agreed to have a security tag placed on all Plan B One-Step cartons to prevent theft, according to the FDA.

Plan B is the same drug – levonorgestrel – as Plan B One-Step, but is taken in two doses of 0.75 mg per tablet. Plan B, which is available from generic manufacturers, requires a prescription for teens under the age of 17.

Ella, another emergency contraceptive, is prescription-only.

In Dec. 2011, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA’s plan to make the morning-after pill available over the counter and with no age limits citing “significant cognitive and behavioral differences” between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age.

Today's release claimed that a study submitted by Teva showed that women 15 years and older are able to understand the drug is not for routine use and does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

On April 5, a federal judge in Brooklyn, Edward Korman, had ordered the FDA to allow over the counter sale of Plan B to women of all ages, and/or make Plan B One-Step available without age restrictions.

The FDA said that today's approval of Plan B One-Step is independent of Korman's ruling, which caused outcry last month from pro-life and Catholic groups nationwide over perceived health risks to young women.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life called Korman's decision an opportunity for “big abortion industry to gamble with young girls’ health,” and the New York Catholic Conference called the ruling a “recipe for disaster.”

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