Archive of July 8, 2014

Study urges education about Down syndrome, to further acceptance

Washington D.C., Jul 8, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - A new study examines society’s response to Down syndrome and offers recommendations, particularly education in the medical field, to improve the lives of individuals with the genetic condition.

“Ninety-nine percent of individuals diagnosed with Down syndrome report being happy with their lives. Studies also show that their joy has a ripple effect in their families and communities,” said Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which published the study.

“The impact of these unique men and women has recently been spotlighted in the media – everywhere from the King’s ice rink in Los Angeles to the Reds’ on-deck circle in Cincinnati,” Donovan said in a July 1 statement.

In the institute’s new study, “Improving Joyful Lives: Society’s Response to Difference and Disability,” author Mark Bradford offers recommendations to improve the lives of individuals living with Down syndrome, while tackling the mostly negative societal reaction to the condition, especially in the medical community.  

Individuals and families living with Down syndrome overwhelmingly report satisfaction with their lives, according to Dr. Brian Skotko’s research at the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.

However, there remains a discrepancy between these positive statistics, and the rise in disability-selective abortions following a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

This tendency toward abortion of those with disabilities is one of the biggest challenges facing the Down syndrome community today, Bradford believes.

His research not only found that most prenatal diagnoses are met with immediate abortion, but also discovered a serious lack of information about Down syndrome accompanying these results.

The new study shows that the little information which is given following prenatal testing is often biased, outdated, narrow and inaccurate, given by medical professionals who prefer abortion in the case of disability.

Furthermore, according to Bradford’s research, most terminations are due to a misunderstanding of Down syndrome, chosen often out of fear or grief.

His study offers various solutions to change the way society views Down syndrome, which could subsequently improve the already joyful lives of individuals living with the condition.

Bradford suggests that “advocates should work to expand the prenatal nondiscrimination legislation with other federal laws intended to protect the disabled.”

Along with legislative measures, he believes medical professionals need to be re-trained on how to deliver prenatal and postnatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Accurate and evidence-based information regarding delivering a child with Down syndrome should also accompany prenatal testing.

“Those living with Down syndrome have mild to moderate intellectual disability,” Bradford explained. “It may soon be possible to improve cognition in those living with Down syndrome enough to ensure employment and independence for many. It may also soon be possible to restore neurological development before birth, radically changing even the best story that can now be given to women who receive an unexpected prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.”

“It is critical that NIH funding levels be increased to support science that is just now translating into therapeutic trials to improve the lives of those living with Down syndrome.”

Although challenges remain to change the socially negative misunderstanding of Down syndrome, research continues to improve the lives of those living with Down syndrome, ensuring their independence and growth in society, he stressed. This research has improved birth outcomes and quality of life, which may consequently improve the negative Down syndrome stigma and discourage Down syndrome abortions.

It is Bradford’s hope to “create a future where true acceptance and inclusion may be realized for all those conceived with Down syndrome – not just the current minority who are allowed to live.”

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Papuan bishop urges youth to follow Maria Goretti's sanctity

Madang, Papua New Guinea, Jul 8, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - During a pilgrimage on Sunday, a bishop from Papua New Guinea encouraged the local youth to pursue holiness, following upon the model of St. Maria Goretti.

“The forgiving attitude of St. Maria Goretti challenges the mentality and practice of 'payback',” Bishop Rochus Tatamai of Bereina said July 6 at a gathering of young people at Divine Word University in Madang.

“The way the murder of the 11-year-old Italian came about in 1902 reflects very much current social issues and problems in Papua New Guinea,” he reflected.

Born in 1890, St. Maria Goretti was the eldest of six children; she was killed at the age of 11 while resisting a rape, and is considered a martyr for chastity.

Coming from a poor family, Maria assisted her mother in housework and in caring for her five younger siblings following her father’s death.

In 1902 a neighboring farmhand, Alessandro Serenelli, who had made previous inappropriate comments and sexual advances toward her, attempted to rape Maria in her house. When she resisted, Alessandro stabbed her 14 times.

After being found bleeding to death, she was rushed to the hospital, where she forgave Alessandro, saying: “For the love of Jesus I forgive him … and I want him to be with me in paradise.”

Bishop Tatamai encouraged the Papua New Guinean youth to “know how to resist evil and to forgive as did Maria Goretti,” reminding them that she “was named patroness of the Catholic youth in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in 2006.”

“The saints also challenge common social practices at odds with Christian values,” he added.

He also upheld as an example Bl. Peter To Rot, himself from Papua New Guinea.

Bl. To Rot's parents were converts, and had their son educated by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the order for which Bishop Tatamai was ordained a priest in 1989.

Bishop Tatamai is also related to the blessed: the bishop's grandfather, Josef Tatamai, was To Rot's elder brother.

Following his education, Bl. To Rot was appointed a catechist, and when the Japanese invaded New Guinea in 1942, interning foreign missionaries, he was left in charge of his parish.

He continued to lead prayer meetings and to administer the sacraments of baptism and marriage even when the Japanese prohibited all religious activities and promoted polygamy and licentiousness.

After denouncing a local policemen who wanted to practice polygamy, Bl. To Rot was incarcerated, and then was executed by the Japanese, by lethal injection, in the summer of 1945.

Bl. To Rot, Bishop Tatamai said, “shows us the way to overcome the current national crisis: through the same care for the children and the family. Through honesty, dedication, and courage.”

“We need models for today’s Papua New Guinea: here they are,” exclaimed Bishop Tatamai, pointing to St. Maria Goretti and to Bl. Peter To Rot, Papua New Guinea's own “tolay.”

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Supreme Court grants college injunction against HHS mandate

Washington D.C., Jul 8, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. Supreme Court granted an injunction to Wheaton College on Thursday, temporarily exempting the Christian college from federal mandates to provide insurance coverage for procedures violating its beliefs.

“The Court rightly recognized that Wheaton’s religious community should be allowed to practice its faith free from crushing government fines,” said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the college.

Wheaton College president Dr. Philip Ryken on July 3 voiced gratitude to God that the Supreme Court “made a wise decision in protecting our religious liberty – at least until we have an opportunity to make our full case in court.”

Wheaton College, based in the Chicago-area city of Wheaton, requires students, staff, and faculty to commit to a community covenant that affirms “the God-given worth of human beings, from conception to death.”

The school challenged federal requirements that it provide employees with insurance coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices that can have abortifacient effects. The school also objected to requirements that it sign a form ordering a third party to provide the objectionable coverage, a putative religious accommodation federal regulators created in response to religious objections.

“We continue to believe that a college community that affirms the sanctity of human life from conception to the grave should not be coerced by the government into facilitating the provision of abortion-inducing drugs,” Ryken said in response to the Supreme Court’s July 3 injunction.

The injunction said that the college does not need to use the required form and that the federal government may not enforce the challenged provisions of the Affordable Care Act and its related regulations until appellate courts complete their review of the case, the Becket Fund said.

Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor strongly objected to the injunction in a dissent joined by justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. She claimed the injunction contradicted the court’s reasoning in its June 30 Hobby Lobby decision, which cited the religious freedom accommodation for non-profits as proof the government had not sought the least burdensome means of mandating the coverage.

On June 30 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, two closely-held for-profit corporations whose Christian owners objected to aspects of the mandate.

However, the court has not issued a final ruling on the religious freedom objections from non-profits.

The court has granted legal injunctions on behalf of several non-profits who object to the mandate, including EWTN Global Catholic Network, the Diocese of Cheyenne, and Catholic Charities of Wyoming.

Employers who do not comply with the mandate face major financial fines.

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Global network seeks to unite head, heart in charity work

Denver, Colo., Jul 8, 2014 (CNA) - PovertyCure, a global organization that unites like-minded charities, is working to change the dialogue about charitable aid while addressing poverty worldwide.

“Our goal for PovertyCure is to … help promote and encourage new ways of thinking about the problem of poverty that are grounded in the Christian tradition and grounded in the creative capacity of the person,” director Michael Matheson Miller told CNA.

PovertyCure seeks to help reduce poverty by addressing humanity’s creativity and God-given dignity and is a project of the Acton Institute, a think tank focused on religion and liberty.

One of their recent projects is a six-part DVD series for colleges and churches that aims to challenge traditional ways of approaching humanitarian aid while also placing an emphasis on the person rather than the problem.

“Part of what we I think we need to be looking to is not simply trying to plan and socially engineer our way out of poverty, but instead unleash the creative capacity of poor people and stop them from being excluded,” Matheson Miller said.

Over the past several decades, aid organizations have used the same model for foreign aid and developmental aid. Matheson Miller said that although those involved have good intentions, we have inadvertently created a “poverty industry.”

“Not because people are bad, not because they have bad intentions and they want to hurt the poor; but the incentive structure has created this industry and when you have any industry, the goal is to stay in business.”

Those who have a “heart for the poor” and are moved to reach out and help those in need must also have a “mind for the poor” and ask whether or not their aid is actually helping or hurting the recipients, he explained.

PovertyCure interviewed dozens of entrepreneurs for the DVD series, who discussed just how harmful government and private aid in its current form can be for their local economies.

One interviewee, a Kenyan business woman, described how the flood of second hand clothing from the United States over the past 15 years has all but destroyed the Kenyan cotton market, obliterating cotton farms and shutting down textile factories.

Another man, a chicken farmer in Rwanda, shared how a large donation of eggs from a well-meaning church in the United States put him out of business by flooding the market with free goods.
The next year, the church shifted their aid to a different part of the world, leaving the town with no locally produced eggs.

Another issue is that what has been done in the past 50 years in dealing with development is not charity, but humanitarianism, Matheson Miller said.

“Humanitarianism is a hollowed-out, desecrated, secular form of Christian love. It has limited horizons (and) it stops at providing material comforts.”

Charity, Matheson Miller explained, is Christian love that seeks the good of the other and promotes “human flourishing while keeping the eternal destiny of the person in mind.”
Humanitarianism, on the other hand, only looks at the material needs and seeks to provide them through social engineering.

In this light, “we tend to treat people as the object of our charity instead of the subject and the protagonist of their development,” he said, paraphrasing a quote from Pope Francis when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires.

This is evident in the fact that much aid is tied to population control, he said.

“Because we don’t see people as subjects and because we have sometimes a bad understanding of economics, we end up making some pretty serious mistakes. You combine this with secular ideology and it’s a disaster; and the big disaster, of course, is population control.”

Rather than just “signing on” to an organization that links charity with population control because there’s “nothing else” out there, Mattheson Miller said, we should create something we can sign onto without any moral reservations.

With an international network of over 100,000 individuals and more than 300 organizations, PovertyCure believes they can help those involved in charity discuss and develop a better way to approach poverty.

While the methods for each person and group may differ, PovertyCure affirms that putting “the person at the center of our economic thinking” is the first step in the right direction.

Drawing heavily from the Catholic social teaching of subsidiarity and papal documents such as Rerum Novarum, the network seeks to find truly effective ways help the poor realize their creative potential.

Network members include groups that work in microfinance to grant small loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries as well as human-rights groups that seek to extend private property rights and political freedom to the poor.

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Calabrian police take stand against mafia following Pope's visit

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Two weeks after Pope Francis’ harsh condemnation of mafia corruption in the Italian region of Calabria, police abandoned a Marian procession which paused to bow in front of the house of a mafia leader.

According to Italian news agency ANSA, anti-mafia activists in southern Calabria have officially opened an investigation regarding a July 2 procession in the town of Oppido Mamertina carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary.

While in the midst of their route the procession paused in front of the home of local 'Ndrangheta leader Peppe Mazzagatti, 82, who is currently serving a life-sentence and is under house-arrest due to health reasons. Those bearing the Marian statue made a gesture like a bow in front of Mazzagatti’s house.

Following the gesture, ANSA reports that the Italian Carabinieri, a branch of the police, accompanying the statue abandoned the procession and later called anti-mafia prosecutors, who are investigating whether or not the stop was planned, and who is responsible.

Although such acts of reverence are frequent due to the fact that the local mafia, referred to as the “’Ndrangheta” in Calabria, are often prominently involved in the church, the Carabinieri’s abandonment of the procession marks a first for local papers, and signifies a condemnation of the homage paid to the mafia leader.

The act of the Carabinieri also bears significant weight because members of the ‘Ndrangheta can be found among their ranks, even influencing their superiors. Therefore the Carabinieri’s leave signifies a strong visible division among them.

Fr. Ennio Stamile, a parish priest in the Calabrian town of Cetraro who has been targeted by the 'Ndrangheta numerous times for his commitment against organized crime, spoke with CNA July 8, cautioning against stirring up “too much media attention following the Pope's words” due to the fact that it gives more attention to mafia bosses.

However, he stated that in general the reaction of Calabria citizens to the Pope’s words “has been positive,” the priest noted, recalling how the pontiff referred to members of the mafia adorers “of evil, like those who live by dishonesty and violence.”

Recounting how the Pope also said that mobsters are “not in communion with God. They are ‘excommunicated,’” Fr. Stamile explained that “They were strong words, pronounced on the plain of Sybaris, and of clear and precise condemnation, even using the word excommunication.”

“The people are very impressed with by this clear and distinct stance on the part of the Holy Father,” he said, and “it has remained materially felt in the minds...the words of hope, the acts of charity...”

Observing how there are some advocating to end processions in the region due to the continuation of similar acts of homage to mafia leaders, the priest affirmed that there is a great need “to educate religions more on these manifestations of popular piety.”

“For me there is no need to remove them, there is a need to educate the people… I agree with education, not with removing. And when we don't (educate), it's our failure as priests. We need to be more attentive to this.”

Pope Francis’ words signify a “precise action from a pastoral point of view,” Fr. Stamile noted, because “the responsibility of us priests is to educate consciences…not condemning people.”

“And to educate consciences means also to create social, cultural, educational paths, etc. so that all consciences are formed, the men are formed. And we really need to be present there to bring the Gospel.”

Reflecting on the next steps that can be taken in fighting the mafia, the priest stated that “we need common pastoral guidelines for the dioceses and all parishes,” particularly regarding the celebration of funerals for mafia members as well as their reception of communion.

This way everyone can “apply the principles that everyone has applied for many years, to decide how to act in specific cases,” he said. “This must be done. Everything else is emphasized chatter from those who don't know anything.”

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Korean celebrities create music video ahead of Pope's visit

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - More than 20 Korean celebrities have come together in making a music video honoring Pope Francis’ upcoming visit, and is an initiative they hope will help to overcome religious differences.

“I thought that if we united in praying for others (through this song), it would be the most beautiful flower bouquet that we could give to the pope when he arrives,” actor Ahn Sung-ki, who organized the event, stated in a July 7 news conference releasing the video.

According to the Korea Herald, the video, entitled “Koinonia,” is a celebration of Pope Francis’ Aug. 14 – 18 visit to South Korea, and was named for the title’s Greek meaning of fellowship, sharing in common and communion.

“So many people live just for themselves. If more people prayed for others, the world would be a better place to live,” the song’s composer and lyricist, Noh Young-sim, said at the news conference, which was held in Seoul’s Myeongdong Cathedral where Pope Francis will celebrate Mass his final day in Korea.

Among other celebrities who participated in the event were actress Kim Tae-hee from KBS TV drama “Iris,” actor Kim Woo-bin from SBS’ “The Heirs,” actress Kim Ha-neul from SBS’ series “A Gentleman’s Dignity” and singer Bada.

“The song carries our hope that the pope’s visit will bring joy to all of Korea, beyond religious differences,” Sung-ki explained, stating that “Surprisingly, many (stars) were willing to participate, although some couldn’t make it because of their schedules.”

Executive producer of Realies Pictures Won Dong-youn, whose former projects include “Masquerade” (2012), directed the music video. Speaking with those present during the Monday conference, he pointed out that all celebrities involved in the video did so on a volunteer basis.

“As a producer, it was such an extraordinary experience to work with so many stars all at once,” he said. “It was easy too, because they were so willing to do this, considering it a true honor to be part of it.”

Won and Noh are also making plans to release different versions of the song and new videos in coming weeks. The original version will be played during numerous events in the pontiff’s trip, including the Beatification Mass of 124 Korean martyrs.

The preparation committee organizing the pontiff’s visit also revealed that they have been in contact with North Korean authorities to negotiate the possibility of inviting North Korean believers to the Pope’s final Mass in Seoul.

“We’ve invited around 10 North Koreans to participate in the event,” Rev. Mattias Hur Young-yup, a representative for the committee, said. “We expect an answer by early August.”

Pope Francis’ visit was announced by the Vatican in March, and comes after his reception of an invitation from the president of the Korean Republic, Park Geun-hye, and the bishops of Korea.

Following the motto “Rise Korea, clothe yourself in light, the Lord’s glory shines upon you,” the Pope’s visit will begin with his departure from Rome the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 13.

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Vatican bank releases balance sheet, continues reform

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Institute for the Works of Religion, or “Vatican bank”, published its 2013 financial statement Tuesday, concluding the first step of an ongoing reform to improve financial transparency at the Vatican.

“As set out in May 2013, we have focused on making the IOR compliant with financial regulation, safer and more transparent, so as to create options for the Holy Father to decide on the future of the Institute,” Ernst von Freyberg, president of the board, said July 8. “Through this work we have lad the ground for a new team to make the IOR a truly outstanding service provider in Catholic finance.”

“Notwithstanding this housekeeping effort, the IOR has delivered a creditable performance for its customers, first and foremost the Holy See itself. In the first half of 2014, we delivered a very positive performance that validates the efforts of all those working at the IOR.”

The issuance of the balance sheet closed ‘phase 1’ of the reform of the “Vatican bank,” the Italian acronym of which is IOR.

The second phase will deal with the integration of the IOR into the new economic-administrative Vatican framework. A new board board and executive team will be appointed to carry forward this phase.

Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, thanked von Freyberg and the entire board, as well as director general Rolando Marranci and his staff, for “their great dedication to the cause of delivering a safe and professional financial service to the Church and in bringing about the required improvements for the continuation of the service.”

Under von Freyberg’s presidency, with the help of the external consultants of the Promontory Financial Group, the IOR carried forward the screening of its accounts, as a result of which 3,000 customers' accounts were closed.

The customer categories of the Vatican bank have also been restricted.

“Thanks to this decision, the IOR now focuses only on Catholic institutions, clerics, employees or former employees of the Vatican with salary and pension accounts, as well as embassies and diplomats accredited to the Holy See,” the organization stated.

At the close of 2013, the IOR had some 17,000 customers, of which 12,000 were individuals, and 5,000 were Catholic institutions.

It showed a net profit of some $4 million – down from more than $117 million in 2012.

“The net profit was affected by a number of factors,” the IOR explained: “extraordinary expenses; losses related to property investments in externally managed investments funds committed to in 2012 and nearly 2013; and the fluctuation in the value’s of the IOR gold reserves,” adding that its profit would have been $95 million.

The extraordinary expenses included the cost of Vatican financial reform, which increased operating expenses by more than $11 million.

Despite the low net profit, the IOR contributed $73.5 million to the Holy See's budget.

The Holy See's financial statement for 2013 showed a deficit of $33 million “due principally to negative fluctuations deriving from the valuation of gold.”

It most significant expense are personnel costs, with 2,886 employees.

Meanwhile, the executive administration of Vatican City -- its governorate -- closed 2013 in the black at nearly $45 million in profit, with the assistance of contributions from the IOR.

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Mother of Brazilian soccer star reveals she considered abortion

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 8, 2014 (CNA) - Thiago Silva might not have been the captain of the Brazilian national team playing in the semi-finals this week in the 2014 World Cup: his mother considered having an abortion when she was pregnant with him.

Silva's mother, Angela, revealed the story about her 29-year-old son during a recent interview with the Brazilian television network O'Globo.

"I cried on my father's shoulder and said, 'Daddy, I don't want to get an abortion, but I'm also not ready to raise a child'," Angela recalled.

Her father convinced her not to end the child's life. "He wouldn't let me do that, that I commit a sin," she said.

Thiago and his family had a difficult and complicated life in the slums - known as favelas - of Santa Cruz in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"I lived in a well-known favela. The police were always there. Because of the danger, I always thanked God when I got home safely," he explained.

The captain of the Brazilian team said that when he was 14 years old, he had a serious bout with tuberculosis.

"It was the toughest battle of my life. I spent six months hospitalized," he recalled.

His mother also remembered the difficulties of that period: "Life in that room was depressing," she said.

Now, Thialgo says the idea of winning the World Cup on home soil keeps him awake at night: "It's difficult to sleep because the World Cup is serious business."

Asked what his reaction will be if Brazil wins, Thialgo replied, "I don't know what I would do at that moment. It would be the greatest achievement of our lives: to win a World Cup at home."

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Cardinal Dolan slams anti-Catholic NY Times ad

New York City, N.Y., Jul 8, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - A New York Times ad criticizing Catholic Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby’s religious freedom case is part of a long history of anti-Catholic bigotry in the U.S., Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has said.

“In keeping with a long, shadowy, legacy of antipathy, justices who happen to be Catholics… are branded and bullied by a group who only succeed in providing the latest example of a prejudice that has haunted us for centuries,” Cardinal Dolan said in his July 3 column for Catholic New York.

The cardinal facetiously thanked the Freedom from Religion Foundation for giving him “yet another handout” for his talks on anti-Catholic bigotry in the U.S.

The secularist foundation’s full page ad, headlined “Dogma should not trump our civil liberties,” ran July 3 on page 10 in the New York Times’ front section.

The ad claimed that the “all-male, all-Roman Catholic majority” on the Supreme Court “puts religious wrongs over women’s rights.”

It claimed that the Supreme Court majority in the Hobby Lobby case was an “ultra-conservative, Roman Catholic majority” that sided with “zealous fundamentalists.”

The ad reacted to the Supreme Court’s June 30 5-4 ruling that the Obama administration violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in attempting to mandate that closely held corporations provide employees with insurance coverage for possible abortifacient drugs.

The legal cases concerned Hobby Lobby, a craft store giant owned by a Protestant family, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, which is owned by a Mennonite family. Both employers objected that they could not provide some of the required drugs without violating their religious beliefs.

The five justices who ruled in Hobby Lobby’s favor are Catholic; one remaining Catholic justice, Sonia Sotomayor, sided with the Obama administration, as did the court’s three Jewish justices.

Cardinal Dolan said the Freedom From Religion Foundation ad did not provide a “robust examination” of the decision in a way that attacked ideas and viewpoints.

Rather, its arguments attacked persons, “the weakest and most vicious of arguments.”

He said the ad “attacks the people on the court, and implies that their Catholic faith makes it impossible for them to protect the cherished Constitution they have sworn on a Bible to uphold.”

The cardinal said that the decision was not surprising, citing White House sources who said they knew the mandate would not pass constitutional muster.

“Scholars, journalists, and thoughtful commentators have elsewhere convincingly defended the unsurprising and long-predicted Supreme Court defense of ‘our first and most cherished freedom,’ religious liberty, from the hyperbolic over-reaction of the ideologues who claim that there is a ‘war on women’,” the cardinal said.

He also noted that Catholic Supreme Court justices have made “frequent votes” that are not in accord with Catholic teaching.

Cardinal Dolan described the Freedom From Religion Foundation as “notoriously anti-Catholic.” He said that the foundation would not take out an ad, and a newspaper would not publish an ad, questioning Jewish, Baptist, or Mormon public figures on the grounds of their religious affiliation.

He claimed that the ad was part of a long line of bigotry against Catholics dating back centuries, to New England Puritans, to the anti-Catholic nativists and Know-Nothings of the 19th century, and the Ku Klux Klan and other groups which included Catholics among the objects of their hate in the 20th century.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which had filed an amicus brief against Hobby Lobby, claimed that the Hobby Lobby ruling allows employers “to decide what birth control an employee can use,” charging that this is not an “exercise of religion,” but “of tyranny.”

The foundation’s ad called for the repeal of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 law passed by overwhelming majorities and signed into law by Democratic president Bill Clinton in response to Supreme Court decisions which weakened religious freedom protections.

Its ad follows similar attacks targeting the Hobby Lobby decision on the basis of the Catholic affiliation of the justices in the majority.

On June 30, Huffington Post blog contributor Ronald A. Lindsay, head of the secular humanist Center for Inquiry, asked “Is it appropriate to have six Catholic Justices on the Supreme Court?”

Lindsay claimed that the majority in the Hobby Lobby case “may now be resurrecting concerns about the compatibility between being a Catholic and being a good citizen, or at least between being a good Catholic and an impartial judge.”

The National Organization for Women has also grouped many Catholic organizations, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, EWTN, the University of Notre Dame and several Catholic dioceses, as the “Dirty 100” because they are plaintiffs in cases challenging the federal mandate on religious freedom grounds.

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