Archive of May 10, 2014

Pro-life organization wins another round in decades-long legal case

Chicago, Ill., May 10, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - A panel of federal judges unanimously ruled last week to protect the Pro-Life Action League’s ability to recover the costs of a 28-year legal struggle against the National Organization for Women.

The decision assures the pro-life group’s claim to over $60,000 in awards.

"Today we celebrate a long-awaited, hopefully final victory for millions of pro-lifers here and around the country," said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society in an April 30 statement.

“After nearly 28 years of litigating and three trips to the U.S. Supreme Court, we are proud to declare that pro-lifers' First Amendment rights to free speech and association are once again secure and protected by law.”

The case, N.O.W. v. Scheidler, opened in 1986 when the National Organization for Women and two Delaware abortion clinics filed suit against Joseph Scheidler, Andrew Scholberg, Timothy Murphy, and the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League. The organization alleged that the pro-life activists violated federal anti-trust and interfered with interstate commerce by trying to shut down abortion clinics.

 "The abortion plaintiffs had been claiming that the heroic leaders whom we defended were leaders of a vast nationwide conspiracy comprising as many as a million members,” said Brejcha of the long legal battle’s claims.

These charges, he continued to explain, put “a black cloud over pro-life efforts to advocate against abortion as if these efforts to save human lives were some horrific enterprise bent on 'extortion' and 'racketeering.'”

After nearly three decades of litigation and three oral arguments before the Supreme Court, the case was dismissed by an 8-0 vote on its merits.  Afterward, the Pro-Life Action League and other defendants filed suit in order to recover legal costs from the lengthy legal battle.

The pro-life activists were awarded most of the $70,000 in legal fees they sought in May 2013; however, N.O.W. appealed the decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

After hearing arguments on April 19, 2014, the three judges of the 7th circuit appellate court ruled unanimously in favor of the Pro-Life Action League and the other defendant’s claim to the restitution of legal fees in an April 29 opinion.

Judge Frank Easterbrook, who wrote the court’s opinion, called the pro-life activist’s claims "modest for a suit that entailed discovery, a long trial, many motions in the district court, and appellate proceedings that span a generation," dismissing the abortion group’s suit and struggle to not pay the fees as “preposterous.”

 "This litigation has lasted far too long,” Judge Easterbrook wrote.

 “At last it is over."

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After HGTV show cancellation, twins warn of censorship

Charlotte, N.C., May 10, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Twin brothers David and Jason Benham have said they are “saddened” that their reality show about giving houses to poor persons was cancelled following controversy over their opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

“With all of the grotesque things that can be seen and heard on television today you would think there would be room for two twin brothers who are faithful to our families, committed to biblical principles, and dedicated professionals,” the two said in a May 8 statement.

“If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.”

The Benham brothers are experienced in “house flipping,” the renovation and resale of houses for profit. Their HGTV reality show “Flip it Forward” was set to premiere in October.

The show was to have emphasized the North Carolina twins’ “sibling rivalry” as they help poor families “buy the homes they never thought they could afford” by transforming “fixer-upper” houses, HGTV said in an April press release.

The website Right Wing Watch, run by the political advocacy group People for the American Way, had charged that the channel had chosen an “anti-gay, anti-choice extremist” for its reality television show.

It cited David Benham’s comments to a radio show host after a 2012 prayer rally he led outside of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

He said that despite so many professed American Christians “we have no-fault divorce; we have pornography and perversion; we have homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation; we have adultery … we even have allowed demonic ideologies to take our universities and our public school systems while the church sits silent and just builds big churches,” Benham had said.

The website objected to Benham’s protests of abortion clinics, his support for North Carolina’s traditional marriage amendment, and his criticism of Islam. It also criticized the views and actions of the brothers’ father, Christian pastor Flip Benham.

The angle of Right Wing Watch’s report was echoed in other press outlets; Entertainment Weekly characterized the dispute as an “anti-gay controversy.”

On May 7 HGTV said it “decided not to move forward” with the planned TV series.

The Benham brothers’ May 8 statement stressed their Christian duty “to love our fellow man.”

“Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying.”

The twin brothers said they would keep their commitment to the six families who had already been selected to receive a new house.

Jason Benham told CNN May 8 that HGTV channel had vetted him and his brother, and was aware of the footage.

“They got to know us a little better and then they made a judgment call, recognizing that David and I have no hate in our heart for anyone.”

David added, “we love all people. I love homosexuals. I love Islam, (and) Muslims, and my brother and I would never discriminate.”

"Never have I ever spoken against homosexuals, as individuals, and gone against them. I speak about an agenda.

“And that's really what the point of this is -- is that there is an agenda that is seeking to silence the voices of men and women of faith.”

James Arnold, editor of the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom’s Alliance Alert, said the cancellation is “hardly the first time something like this has happened.”

“Whether it was in television technology, or public health, we have seen this numerous times before.”

He cited the controversy over “Duck Dynasty” television star Phil Robertson, who was suspended for crude remarks expressing bafflement at homosexual attraction, and the resignation of Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich after activists targeted him for his $1,000 donation to California’s amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Arnold contended that HGTV is “only the latest” to “blacklist individuals” for their views.

Supporters of the Benham brothers include the website Faith Driven Consumer, which is calling on HGTV to change its decision and rallying support on social with the hashtag #FlipThisDecision.

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Paul VI to be beatified at close of synod on family

Vatican City, May 10, 2014 (CNA) - The Vatican has announced that Pope Paul VI will be beatified this October at the conclusion of the synod of bishops on the family.

A statement from the Holy See’s press office on May 10 read, “the Holy Father has authorised the dicastery to communicate that the rite of beatification of the Venerable Servant of God Paul VI will take place, in the Vatican, on October 19, 2014.”

The beatification ceremony will take place just as the world’s bishops conclude their meetings regarding matters related to marriage and family life.

Paul VI is particularly well-known for his encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which spoke about the importance of generosity in married love and the principles of responsible parenthood.

The late Pontiff was born in the Lombardi region of Italy in 1897 and given the baptismal name Giovanni Battista Montini. Ordained a priest in 1920 and consecrated as a bishop in 1954, he was appointed to the college of cardinals in 1958.

At the age of 66 he was elected Pope and chose the name Paul VI in reference to the missionary spirit of the Apostle Paul.

He re-convoked the second Vatican council, which had automatically closed with the death of his predecessor, John XXIII, and improved ecumenical relations with the Orthodox Church. In a historic move in December of 1965, Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople mutually lifted the excommunications that had been leveled against the leaders of both churches in 1054.

Today’s announcement also included the approval for the beatification of  Luigi Caburlotto, an diocesan priest from Venice, Italy, who founded the Institute of the Daughters of St. Joseph.

Three others on the path to sainthood were recognized for their heroic virtue and will receive the title, “Venerable.” They include two priests, Spanish Jesuit Giacinto Alegre Pujals and Italian diocesan priest Giacomo Abbond, as well as the mother of a family who founded the Society of the Daughters of St. Francis de Sales, Frenchwoman Carla Barbara Colchen Carre de Malberg.

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Experts in business, economy, consider Popes' call to solidarity

Vatican City, May 10, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Business leaders, economic analysts and  theologians gathered at the Vatican this week to consider, in light of Catholic social teaching, the place of solidarity and fraternity in making business decisions.

Referencing the Popes' continual call for greater global solidarity, Domingo Sugranyes Bickel, president of the Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice Foundation, said, “we are trying to find answers that make sense for business people – this is not always easy.”

The foundation, which is dedicated to the study and promotion of the Church’s social doctrine, met May 8-10 at the Vatican to discuss the theme, “The Good Society and the Future of Jobs: Can solidarity and fraternity be part of business decisions?”

“Pope Francis has compelled us to try to get into higher gear, in continuity with the past,” Sugranyes told CNA May 8.

The organization’s president described it as “a ‘think tank,’ if you wish, in the middle of Vatican.”

It was founded in 1993 by St. John Paul II to promote Catholic social teaching. It is named for his encyclical from two years prior, Centesimus Annus, on the hundredth anniversary of Rerum Novarum. Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical on capital and labor is hailed as the beginning of Catholic social teaching in the modern era.

Although it is not an official body of the Curia, the lay-led foundation is overseen by Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

The Roman Pontiff met with members of the foundation May 10, thanking them for accepting “the suggestion to work on the value of solidarity. In this way, we can carry forward a theme of reflection and commitment that is intrinsic to the social doctrine, which is always in harmony with subsidiarity.”

He noted in particular the prominence that his immediate predecessors had given to Catholic social doctrine: its prominence in the Magisterium of St. John Paul II, and its explanation and updating by Benedict XVI.

“In the contemporary economic system – and in the mentality that it generates – the word solidarity has become inconvenient, even troublesome,” Pope Francis acknowledged.

“The crisis of these years, which has profound causes in the ethical order, has increased this 'allergy' to words like solidarity, equal distribution of goods, the priority of work.”

The Pope went on to suggest that perhaps some people are “unable or unwilling to truly study in what way these ethical values can become concrete economic values,” but noted that the Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice Foundation had taken up the task.

“Truly this is what you seek to do, holding together the theoretical and practical aspects, thoughts and the experiences 'in the field.'”

Sugranyes noted that the organization, as a place where “people from academics, people from business, theologians, pastors, bishops,” can come together, is dedicated to considering these topics “by discussion, by analyzing, by studying, by training.”

The president noted that “there is a strong need for business leaders and economic leaders, professionals, to enlarge their views and take into account more elements from reality, from a global reality where inequalities are not measured in one place.”

Pope Francis encouraged the members of the foundation to consider “the conscience of the entrepreneur” as the “place in which such research occurs.”

“In particular, the Christian entrepreneur is urged to always confront the gospel with the reality in which he works; the gospel asks him to put the human person and the common good in first place, to perform his role so that there might be work opportunities, dignified work.”

While such a task is not simple, it may not be as difficult as many people think, suggested Sugranyes, because the world of business and economics is composed of real people, not simply artificial machines.

“There are real persons in companies everywhere. Every executive will tell you that when trying to build teamwork you have to count on people’s will to do things together - we are not talking to machines.”

Alberto Quadrio Curzio, president of the foundation’s scientific committee, expressed his belief in the importance of people’s creativity becoming part of the notion of solidarity.

“I think that solidarity must be creative solidarity, solidarity must be dynamic solidarity and not just to better distribution of income and wealth - which is important, after all, but which is not enough.”

“You can not utilize the better distribution of income, of wealth, without helping people to personal growth,” he emphasized, going on to note the “absolutely fundamental” aspect of education, as well as the family as the first place where solidarity is learned.

Pope Francis also emphasized the importance of human community. “The Christian community – the parish, the diocese, the associations – is the place in which the entrepreneur, but also the politician, the professional, the union worker, draws the strength to nourish their commitments and encounters with their brothers.”

He closed his audience by encouraging the various experts to “move ahead with faith, dedicating proper time to prayer, because also the layperson, also the entrepreneur needs to pray and to pray often when the challenges are most difficult!”

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Pope Francis celebrates with Italian schoolchildren

Vatican City, May 10, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Nearly 300,000 students, teachers, and parents packed St. Peter’s Square and the surrounding streets for a celebratory audience with Pope Francis on Saturday.

“One sees that this demonstration is not ‘against,’ it’s ‘for’! It’s not a lament, it’s a festival! A festival for school,” the Roman Pontiff said to the crowd May 10.

The event was sponsored by the Italian bishops’ conference and was open to all Italian schools; not only Catholic ones.

Pope Francis listened to several testimonies about the importance of education, including remarks from Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops' conference, and Stegania Giannini, Italy's education minister.

The Holy Father shared his own story of being influenced positively by his first teacher: “I love school, because this woman taught me to love it.”

School and the family always work together, he emphasized; in the education of the person “they are complementary, and therefore it is important that they collaborate.”

“To go to school means to open the mind and the heart to reality, to the riches of its aspects, to its dimensions. This is beautiful!”

He then referenced an African proverb which says ‘it takes a village to educate a child.’

“To educate a young person it takes many people: family, teachers, non-teaching personnel, professors, everyone!”

“Do you like this proverb?” he asked the crowds. “Let’s say it together: it takes a village to educate a child.”

Another phrase which he had his audience repeat was, “a clean defeat is always more beautiful than a dirty victory.”

“The mission of school is to develop the sense of truth, the sense of good, and the sense of beauty. These three dimensions are never separate, but always intertwined.”

He closed by reminding the students, teachers, and parents, that school is not only for gaining knowledge, but also for learning “habits and values.”

A good education helps “three languages” to grow: “the language of the mind, the language of the heart, and the language of the hands. But, harmoniously, that is to think of that which you think and what you do; to feel well what you think and what you do; and do do well what you think and what you feel.”

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