Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Six Vatican Ambassadors Start Catholics for Romney Outreach


Six former Vatican ambassadors have banded together to lead a new outreach for Mitt Romney presidential campaign to encourage Catholic voters to support him over pro-abortion President Barack Obama in November. The issue of abortion is one of the reasons for their decision to endorse Romney, as they explain in a new letter announcing the effort.

Catholics for Romney National Co-Chairs and Former U.S. Ambassadors to the Holy See include Frank Shakespeare, Tom Melady, Ray Flynn, Jim Nicholson, Francis Rooney, and Mary Ann Glendon. Together, they wrote the following letter supporting the former governor:
Fellow Catholics,

We are all called to advance the moral teachings of Christianity in the life of our country. Where the stakes are highest – in the defense of life, liberty, and human dignity – we have a duty to act that is greater and more urgent than allegiance to any political party.

In the election of 2012, this conviction has united all of us – each a former ambassador of the United States to the Holy See – in support of Governor Mitt Romney’s candidacy for president. Whatever issues might dominate the presidential campaign from now until November, our concerns lie with fundamental rights, beginning with religious liberty.

While the current administration has brought our first freedom under direct assault by imposing government mandates that completely disregard religious conscience, Governor Romney believes that freedom to live one’s faith is essential to liberty and human fulfillment. And he has pledged himself to removing those federal mandates immediately.

While the current administration has now put its weight on the side of those who propose to redefine the meaning of marriage itself, Governor Romney has stood firm in defending this sacred institution. In the White House, just as he did in the Massachusetts State House, he will defend the institution of marriage before the Congress, the courts, and the country.

Where the current administration has shown its sympathy for the pro-abortion lobby, Mitt Romney will be a faithful defender of life in all its seasons. And he understands the special duty of people of faith to serve in this cause. As Governor Romney recently said, “From the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man. Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution. And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action.”

These are the words of a man we believe can be a great force for good in this nation. We are Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, but on this question we are united in faith and in action. We urge our fellow Catholics, and indeed all people of good will, to join with us in this full-hearted effort to elect Governor Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States.

Please join our team by visiting http://www.mittromney.com/coalitions/catholics-for-romney.

National Co-Chairs, Catholics for Romney
Frank Shakespeare (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 1986-1989)
Tom Melady (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 1989-1993)
Ray Flynn (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 1993-1997)
Jim Nicholson (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 2001-2005)
Francis Rooney (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 2005-2008)
Mary Ann Glendon (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 2008-2009)


Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the Chick-fil-A controversy:

Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, has said that we are “inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’” How this unremarkable statement, which never mentions homosexuals, can be labeled anti-gay is astounding. But according to the editorial board of the New York Times, it can be. After quoting Cathy, the Times says, “Antigay remarks like these are offensive.”

It won’t work. According to this logic, almost everyone who ever walked the face of the earth has been an anti-homosexual bigot. Such hyperbole relegates real gay bashing to the trash bin, something to be discarded with alacrity.

Nature, and Nature’s God, has ordained that marriage is the exclusive province of a man and a woman; they are the only two people capable of naturally creating a family. But now, all of a sudden, we are expected to believe that such a pedestrian view is wrongheaded. Worse, there is a growing segment of the population, overwhelmingly white and well-educated, who want to punish those who hold to the traditional view. This is madness laced with fascistic elements.

Mix-and-Match Morality


When billionairess Melinda Gates announced her plans to bring contraception to more than 100 million impoverished women, she presented herself as a practicing Catholic inspired by a commitment to social justice inculcated during her high-school years at the Ursuline Academy in Dallas.

Indeed, her high school has since defended her decision to transgress Catholic teaching on contraception: “Melinda Gates leads from her conscience and acts on her beliefs as a concerned citizen of our world,” read a statement released by the Ursuline Academy.
We have been here before.
Such policies are often presented as the inevitable outcome of a choice between impossibly high-minded doctrines and a compassionate accommodation of imperfect realities. A similar calculus is typically offered by self-identified “Catholic” politicians who cast votes against legislation seeking to bar abortion, embryo-destructive stem-cell research and same-sex “marriage.”
Recently, a similar explanation was also floated during the controversy ignited by the Vatican’s effort to reform the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. LCWR leaders and their allies rejected any suggestion that they must teach and defend the fullness of the truth, including Catholic teaching on marriage and abortion.
Rather, the LCWR’s non-existent record on life issues was justified as an unintended byproduct of the group’s commitment to social justice. These arguments ignore a fundamental truth that bears repeating: A humble adherence to moral absolutes secures social justice.
Not only does the moral law provide boundaries beyond which we cannot go, thus protecting human dignity, it also guards against misplaced passions that so often derail our human projects, leading to failure and even tragedy.
Given Gates’ impressive record of philanthropy and service, many Catholics are loath to judge her intentions, nor should they do so. But we also must not forget that the promotion of contraception constitutes a direct violation of Catholic teaching.
And while Gates believes that her campaign will result in a vast reduction in maternal and infant deaths, contraception has repeatedly failed to live up to its vaunted promise of alleviating suffering and poverty. A half century after the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of oral contraception in the United States, non-marital births, sexual exploitation of women, divorce and an impoverished underclass continue to gain ground.
Indeed, a refusal to reassess this failed legacy reveals that blind faith, not evidence-based medicine, has fueled the promotion of contraception, even as its supporters work to sideline Catholic health care and social outreach that reject such practices.
Further, Gates’ assertion that social justice requires her rejection of Humanae Vitae points to another familiar problem: a failure of catechesis.
Judging from the statement released by the Ursuline Academy, it seems likely that Gates, like so many Catholic schoolchildren, never learned the Church’s reasons for opposing contraception, let alone Pope Paul VI’s prescient view of contraception’s devastating moral and social impact. The Ursuline Academy’s reference to “conscience” fails to explain that the Church asks even its most illustrious members to form their conscience in accordance with the mind and heart of the Church and to embrace her inconvenient truths with childlike humility.
Indeed, a very strong case could be made that powerful men and women are especially called to deepen the virtue of humility and to ponder Christ’s warning to the “rich man.”
In Evangelium Vitae, Blessed Pope John Paul II recalled, “The Pharaoh of old, haunted by the presence and increase of the children of Israel, submitted them to every kind of oppression and ordered that every male child born of the Hebrew women was to be killed (Exodus 1:7-22).”
The Pope pondered the similarities between Pharaoh, who would lose his son in his war against the “children of the Israelites,” and our modern-day pharaohs of industry and philanthropy: “Today, not a few of the powerful of the earth act in the same way. They too are haunted by the current demographic growth. ... Consequently, rather than wishing to face and solve these serious problems with respect for the dignity of individuals and families and for every person’s inviolable right to life, they prefer to promote and impose by whatever means a massive program of birth control.”
Thus, while their “intentions … can seem convincing at times, especially if presented in the name of solidarity, we are in fact faced by an objective ‘conspiracy against life.’ Further, this anti-life regime is presented as ‘a mark of progress and a victory of freedom,’ while pro-life witness is attacked as an ‘enemy of freedom and progress.’”
Gates says that she is not like the pharaohs of old — the philanthropists who funded population control because they saw increased numbers of poor people as a threat to political and economic stability. And the Gates Foundation has played an essential and distinctive role in the public-health field, rejecting, for example, any promotion of abortion.
It would, therefore, be a tragedy if that inspirational legacy was tainted by policies and practices that herald the culture of death.
The danger is real: The Gates Foundation will partner with the United Nations Population Fund and International Planned Parenthood, despite both organizations’ commitment to abortion rights — and despite the UNFPA’s documented complicity in China’s brutal one-child regime.
Melinda Gates vows that she will respect the freedom of women. But she will not be there when the UNFPA does its work, and she has not explained how a $4-billion contraception campaign might affect access to underfunded but essential medical services.
“I believe absolutely in family planning: I am putting my reputation, my credibility on the line for it,” Gates has said.
Let us pray that she will reassess this fateful decision before those she hopes to serve learn to fear, rather than welcome, this effort.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" - July 31, 2012

Talking about the "things that matter most" on July 31

Special Broadcast of Interviews from the Napa Institute Conference

4:00 – Catholic Education in America: Where Do We Go From Here?
Frank Hanna is CEO of Hanna Capital in Atlanta, Georgia. He was instrumental in the formation of three new Catholic schools in Atlanta, Georgia at a time when so many Catholic schools are closing. But that’s not where he is stopping. He has a vision – and a plan – for Catholic education in America: Where do we go from here?

4:20 – Advocating for Children in Today’s Culture and Political Atmosphere
For years, Elizabeth Yore worked as the chief legal officer for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va. During her time there, she created an international division which was among the first to use Internet technology to solve crimes and locate missing children. Yore also directed the Internet Child Exploitation Division and used her expertise to counsel several European governments. Hwe next career stop was with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services where she had 50,000 children in state care through foster parents. She says this work gave her a deeper understanding of the devastating impact of abuse and neglect on children — usually occurring at the hands of family members or close friends. We talk to Elizabeth about protecting children in the modern age.

5:00 – St. Augustine Larger than Life in 'Restless Heart'
St. Augustine of Hippo is one of the Christian world's most beloved and well-known saints. However, his amazing conversion and heroic life have not been told on the big screen ... until now. Ignatius Press has announced the forthcoming release of Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine. This major motion picture is available now for sponsored theatrical screenings across the country. Individuals, parishes, church groups or other organizations can bring this epic film to their towns beginning immediately. Ignatius Press President Mark Brumley is here to talk about it.

5:20 – Apologetics as the Foundation of the New Evangelization
In his encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio (On the Church's Missionary Mandate), Pope John Paul II wrote, "I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization..." This heartfelt prediction, repeated again and again by our Holy Father, can be clearly seen in the welcome renaissance of Catholic apologetics. Fr. Robert Spitzer is here to look at apologetics as the foundation of the New Evangelization.

5:40 – Religious Freedom Internationally and At Home
Bringing North Americans into partnership with the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) is the mission of the Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation, founded in 1997. UCU is the only Catholic university on the territory of the former Soviet Union, a center for educational reform that forms leaders to serve to defend the dignity of the human. Fr. Borys Gudziak joins us to discuss the amazing history of the Church in the Ukraine.

John Haas warned Catholic Relief Services “scandal would be unavoidable” with grant to CARE

CARE’s 2010 document, “Maternal Mortality: A Solvable Problem,”
notes that CARE has partnered with abortion giant Marie Stopes International
by John-Henry Westen WASHINGTON, DC, July 24, 2012 (LifeSiteNews) - There has been a flurry of response to the LifeSiteNews revelations on July 17th that Catholic Relief Services’ top grant-recipient has been a major promoter of contraception. The $5.3 million grant to CARE by the U.S. Bishops’ international charity arm represents more than a quarter of all the monies it gave out to US-based organizations according to its 990s for 2010.
After LifeSiteNews published the piece, CRS demanded a retraction or correction. “None of the activities listed suggest support of or involvement in immoral activities,” spokesman John Rivera wrote in an e-mail. “In the terminology of moral theology, there is no material cooperation with evil.”
Then on July 20th, CRS issued a press release titled CRS Disputes LifeSiteNews Article, in which they stated that “all of the CRS programs … are entirely consistent with Church teaching.” At the same time, they strongly implied that the grant was approved by Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, the U.S. Bishops’ top advisor on bioethical issues.
In a follow-up statement on July 24th, CRS states that after reviewing all of their grants, Haas “found that none of them constitutes support of or involvement in immoral activities.”
But when LifeSiteNews contacted Dr. Haas he revealed a very different picture.
Dr. Haas told LifeSiteNews that when he reviewed the proposed donation to CARE it was “of grave concern to me.”
While Haas noted that the NCBC assessment did not dispute that CARE’s project was laudable nor that the monies were non-fungible, he opposed the grant because of the scandal it would cause. His main concern was the stridently pro-abortion stances taken by CARE’s president and CEO, Helene D. Gayle.
Reading from his submission to CRS, Dr. Haas said:
“On the anniversary of Roe v Wade in 2009 [Gayle] called on President Obama to rescind the Mexico City Policy and fund abortions abroad. She issued this call on the very day hundreds of thousands of pro-life demonstrators including many bishops called for the reversal of Roe v Wade. Her testimony and statement are both posted on the website of CARE.
“Even though the grants going to CARE are for very laudable and indeed life-saving initiatives, I believe that these very strong public positions taken by the President of CARE in complete opposition to the policies and positions of the US Catholic Conference of Bishops would certainly give rise to legitimate theological scandal if not confusion as to why the Bishops would fund such an organization.
“I think even some bishops would take exception to the grant to CARE if they were aware of the strong public advocacy of abortion and the positions at odds with those of the bishops.”
While the CRS release mentions the NCBC concern that scandal could be caused by the CARE grant, it fails to mention that Haas believed CARE should not be funded. The CRS release says only: “The NCBC found that there could be a risk of scandal over such partnerships if people become confused and wrongly assume that CRS was endorsing a partner’s position on other issues. To avoid any misunderstanding, such as the Lifesite news article, CRS worked with the Bishops and the NCBC to address this risk through internal and external communications on our work, and continues to do so.”
In the report to CRS, Haas added: “In my opinion because CARE is so well known and so high profile and because the advocacy of abortion has been so strong and public and in such opposition to the position of the bishops, scandal would be unavoidable.”
Haas was referring to the fact that while the US Bishops were advocating for the Mexico City Policy, CARE was publicly opposing it. The Mexico City Policy ensured agencies in receipt of US funding could not divert the money to organizations dedicated to performing and promoting abortions. It was enacted in 1984 under Ronald Reagan, and has since been rescinded by Democratic administrations and reinstated by Republicans.
On numerous occasions the U.S. Bishops Conference has advocated for the policy. Without the Mexico City policy, Cardinal Justin Rigali said in a letter sent to all Senators before a vote in 2007, “abortion-promoting organizations will exploit their status as the conduits for U.S. aid to promote abortion to vulnerable women in the Third World.”
Meanwhile CARE President and CEO Gayle appeared before the Senate Committee handling the matter to demand that the Mexico City Policy be repealed. “In the reproductive health field, many of the best local organizations provide comprehensive family planning services, sometimes including counseling on safe abortion,” she said. “The Mexico City Policy prohibits organizations like CARE from working with such organizations, and in some cases, prevents us from working with the only organizations that are capable of providing the most basic family planning services. Thus, it diminishes not just the availability of these services but also their quality.”
When President Barack Obama repealed the policy, Cardinal Rigali noted that it was “very disappointing.” He added: “An Administration that wants to reduce abortions should not divert U.S. funds to groups that promote abortions.”
With respect to funding CARE in light of Gayle’s advocacy for international abortion funding, Haas told LifeSiteNews, “It would be different if she weren’t so public about her opposition to the moral teaching in this area and I said I had grave reservations about this whole thing going forward without the question of the scandal being addressed.”
Haas revealed that CRS wanted to retain the long-standing relationship with CARE nonetheless. At that point he advised that the only way to do so was to publicly chastise Gayle and CARE.
“I said ‘I think that would be a necessary part of going forward, if you decide to go forward, it’s up to you,’ because the scandal question rests with the local authority, so in that case it would have been Bishop Kicanas and the CRS Board,” said Haas.
CARE’s pro-abortion activism is felt far beyond the United States. Pro-life groups on the international scene have reported on the strident activism of CARE at the United Nations.
LifeSiteNews spoke today with Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D., of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM). She confirmed a C-FAM report she penned in 2007 regarding the CARE CEO, noting that Gayle “is an avid advocate for an international human right to abortion on demand.”
“She was a key figure at the 2007 Women Deliver conference and a founding partner of the International Initiative on Maternal Mortality and Human Rights which seeks to make abortion rights part of a new international right to maternal health,” said Yoshihara.

Mayor Bloomberg pushing NYC hospitals to hide baby formula so more new moms will breast-feed

Last Updated: 11:38 AM, July 29, 2012
Posted: 11:19 PM, July 28, 2012
The nanny state is going after moms.
Mayor Bloomberg is pushing hospitals to hide their baby formula behind locked doors so more new mothers will breast-feed.
Starting Sept. 3, the city will keep tabs on the number of bottles that participating hospitals stock and use — the most restrictive pro-breast-milk program in the nation.
Under the city Health Department’s voluntary Latch On NYC initiative, 27 of the city’s 40 hospitals have also agreed to give up swag bags sporting formula-company logos, toss out formula-branded tchotchkes like lanyards and mugs, and document a medical reason for every bottle that a newborn receives.


Getty Images
Mayor Bloomberg
While breast-feeding activists applaud the move, bottle-feeding moms are bristling at the latest lactation lecture.
“If they put pressure on me, I would get annoyed,” said Lynn Sidnam, a Staten Island mother of two formula-fed girls, ages 4 months and 9 years. “It’s for me to choose.”
Under Latch On NYC, new mothers who want formula won’t be denied it, but hospitals will keep infant formula in out-of-the-way secure storerooms or in locked boxes like those used to dispense and track medications.
With each bottle a mother requests and receives, she’ll also get a talking-to. Staffers will explain why she should offer the breast instead.
“It’s the patient’s choice,” said Allison Walsh, of Beth Israel Medical Center. “But it’s our job to educate them on the best option.”
Lisa Paladino, of Staten Island University Hospital, said: “The key to getting more moms to breast-feed is making the formula less accessible. This way, the RN has to sign out the formula like any other medication. The nurse’s aide can’t just go grab another bottle.”
Some of the hospitals already operate under the formula lockdown.
“New York City is definitely ahead of the curve,” said Eileen DiFrisco, of NYU Langone Medical Center, where the breast-feeding rate has surged from 39 to 68 percent under the program.
Breast-feeding in the first weeks gives a baby a critical healthy start, many medical experts say. It helps the digestive system develop and protects the baby with the mother’s immunities. Nursing also helps the mother recover from childbirth.
But not everyone is convinced.
“They make formula for a reason, and the FDA makes sure it’s safe,” said Roxanne Schmidt, whose 14-month-old twins were fed with formula from birth. “Locking it up is just wrong.”

Electricity grids fail across half of India

Jul 31, 9:21 AM (ET)
NEW DELHI (AP) - India's energy crisis cascaded over half the country Tuesday when three of its regional grids collapsed, leaving 620 million people without government-supplied electricity for several hours in, by far, the world's biggest blackout.
Hundreds of trains stalled across the country and traffic lights went out, causing widespread traffic jams in New Delhi. Electric crematoria stopped operating, some with bodies half burnt, power officials said. Emergency workers rushed generators to coal mines to rescue miners trapped underground.
The massive failure - a day after a similar, but smaller power failure - has raised serious concerns about India's outdated infrastructure and the government's inability to meet its huge appetite for energy as the country aspires to become a regional economic superpower.
Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde blamed the new crisis on states taking more than their allotted share of electricity.

(AP) A traffic jam following power outage and rains at the Delhi-Gurgaon road on the outskirts of New...
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"Everyone overdraws from the grid. Just this morning I held a meeting with power officials from the states and I gave directions that states that overdraw should be punished. We have given instructions that their power supply could be cut," he told reporters. The new power failure affected 620 million people across 20 of India's 28 states - about double the population of the United States. The blackout was unusual in its reach, stretching from the border with Myanmar in the northeast to the Pakistani border about 3,000 kilometers (1,870 miles) away. Its impact, however, was softened by Indians' familiarity with frequent blackouts and the widespread use of backup generators for major businesses and key facilities such as hospitals and airports.
Shinde later said power was fully restored in the northeast grid four hours after it went down, and that the north grid had 45 percent power and the east grid 35 percent. R.N. Nayak, chairman of Power Grid Corp., which runs the nation's power system, said he expected to have full power later in the evening.
Oddly, as the crisis dragged into the evening, Shinde was promoted, becoming India's home minister, its top internal security official. The promotion had been planned previously as part of a greater Cabinet shuffle before he presided over the world's two worst power outages.
The outages came just a day after India's northern power grid collapsed for several hours. Indian officials managed to restore power several hours later, but at 1:05 p.m. Tuesday the northern grid collapsed again, said Shailendre Dubey, an official at the Uttar Pradesh Power Corp. in India's largest state. About the same time, the eastern grid failed and then the northeastern grid followed, energy officials in those regions said. The grids serve more than half India's population.

(AP) Commuters walk on empty railway tracks at the New Delhi railway station following a power outage in...
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In West Bengal, express trains and local electric trains were stopped at stations across the state of West Bengal on the eastern grid. Crowds of people thronged the stations, waiting for any transport to take them to their destinations. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it would take at least 10 to 12 hours to restore power and asked office workers to go home.
"The situation is very grave. We are doing everything to restore power," West Bengal Power Minister Manish Gupta said.
New Delhi's Metro rail system, which serves about 1.8 million people a day, immediately shut down for the second day in a row. Police said they managed to evacuate Delhi's busy Rajiv Chowk station in under half an hour before closing the shutters.
S.K. Jain, 54, said he was on his way to file his income tax return when the Metro closed and now would almost certainly miss the deadline. Hours later, the government announced it was giving taxpayers an extra month to file because of the chaos.

(AP) A traffic jam following power outage and rains in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. India's...
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Tuesday's blackout eclipsed Monday's in India, which covered territory including 370 million people. The third largest blackout affected 100 million people in Indonesia in 2005, according to reports by The Associated Press. India's demand for electricity has soared along with its economy in recent years, but utilities have been unable to meet the growing needs. India's Central Electricity Authority reported power deficits of more than 8 percent in recent months.
In addition, vast amounts of power are pirated through unauthorized wiring that taps into the electrical system.
The power deficit was worsened by a weak monsoon that lowered hydroelectric generation and kept temperatures higher, further increasing electricity usage as people seek to cool off.
But any connection to the grid remains a luxury for many. One-third of India's households do not even have electricity to power a light bulb, according to last year's census.
Associated Press writer Nasr ul Hadi contributed to this report from New Delhi and Prasanta Pal contributed from Kolkata.

Spain angers feminists with plan to tighten abortion law

About 100 people took part in a rally in Madrid's central Tirso de Molina square on Sunday to protest against the proposed reform which they argue will take Spain back to the era of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.
The crowd, mostly women, chanted "We give birth, we decide" and "Not one step backwards".
"It seems to us to be a throwback to the Franco dictatorship and we are not willing to accept under any circumstances measures that will take away our rights," said Justa Montero, member of the Feminist Assembly, one of the women's groups that organised the protest.
The government announced Friday it would alter an abortion law introduced by its Socialist predecessors in 2010 which gave women the legal right to abortion on demand for up to 14 weeks of pregnancy.
The 2010 law also allowed women the legal right to abort up to the 22nd week of pregnancy in cases where the mother's health is at risk or the foetus shows serious deformities.
In cases of extreme malformation of a foetus, an abortion could be carried out at any time if approved by an ethics committee.
But Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon said the law should be changed to ban abortion in cases of a deformed foetus.
"I don't understand why we should deprive a foetus of life by allowing abortion for the simple reason that it suffers a handicap or a deformity," he said in an interview published in conservative daily La Razon on July 22.
The vast majority of Spaniards, 81 percent, are against banning abortion in cases where a foetus is malformed, according to a poll published Sunday in left-wing newspaper El Pais.
The reform was rejected by 65 percent of those who said they voted for the Popular Party in a general election last year as well as by 64 percent of those who define themselves as practicing Catholics.
"The minister's proposal is totally cynical," said Montero as protesters around her chanted pro-choice slogans.
"He demonstrates a concern that then is not followed up with other measures. He makes this statement at the same time as the government is cutting funding to services for handicapped people and children with deformities."
Santiago Barambio, the head of the Spanish association of abortion clinics, Acai, and one of the authors of the 2010 abortion law, said the justice minister was appealing to his party's right wing with the proposal.
"The minister represents the extreme right and the ultra-Catholics, which are perhaps a minority but are very powerful economically, such as Opus Dei for example," he said in a reference to the conservative Roman Catholic organisation whose name in Latin means "Work of God".
Anti-abortion groups welcomed the planned abortion law reform.
Gador Joya, the spokesman for the "Right to Life" collective, said banning abortion in cases of a malformed foetus "is a step forward for the protection of the right to life."
"But it is not enough because we believe that 97 percent of the abortions carried out for other reasons are carried out under false pretences," he added.
Before the 2010 abortion reform, women could have an abortion only in cases of rape, serious deformity or when the mother's mental or physical health was threatened.
The vast majority of the 115,000 abortions carried out in 2009, the year before the reform, were performed at private clinics and were justified on the grounds that the pregnancy posed a "psychological risk" to the woman.

Controversial Down's syndrome testing gets Swiss go-ahead

Testing will be available in the country from mid-August following a decision by Swissmedic, the national agency for therapeutic products, the Neue Zuercher Zeitung am Sonntag reported.
The test, developed by life sciences company LifeCodexx, involves screening pregnant women's blood samples for the presence of foetal Down's syndrome, which is also known as trisomy 21.
The German-based firm described the procedure, marketed as PrenaTest, as a "risk-free alternative to common invasive examination methods such as amniocentesis".
Demand is high in Switzerland from doctors and expectant mothers, the company said. The test will also be marketed in Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein, according to the German-based firm's website.
The Swiss national health insurer Santesuisse and the Swiss gynaecological society are happy for the cost of the test to be reimbursed as part of standard medical cover if it proves successful, the NZZ report said.
But the international federation of Down's syndrome organisations has objected to such testing at the European Court of Human Rights.
The federation, grouping 30 associations in 16 countries, said in June that the Strasbourg court should "recognise the human condition and protect the right to life of people with Down's syndrome and those handicapped".
Down's syndrome is caused by having an extra copy of chromosome 21 and the risk increases as a woman gets older.
Invasive procedures currently used for prenatal diagnosis -- in the 16th week of pregnancy -- pose a one percent risk of foetal loss. The diagnosis is therefore only made available to high risk women, which fails to catch all cases.

Judge says Arizona's abortion ban can take effect

PHOENIX (AP)  –  Arizona's ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy will take effect this week as scheduled after a federal judge ruled Monday that the new law is constitutional.

U.S. District Judge James Teilborg said the statute may prompt a few pregnant women who are considering abortion to make the decision earlier. But he said the law is constitutional because it doesn't prohibit any women from making the decision to end their pregnancies.

The judge also wrote that the state provided "substantial and well-documented" evidence that an unborn child has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion by at least 20 weeks.

The ban, set to take effect Thursday, is similar but not identical to those enacted by other states. It prohibits abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy except in medical emergencies. That is a change from the current ban at viability, which is the ability to survive outside the womb and which generally is considered to be about 24 weeks. A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks.

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the ban into law in April, making Arizona one of 10 states to enact types of 20-week bans.

Teilborg held a hearing Wednesday on a request from abortion-rights groups that he temporarily block the law's enforcement.

The abortion-rights groups' lawyer said during the hearing that the ban crosses a clear line on what U.S. Supreme Court rulings permit, and it intrudes on women's health decisions at a key point in pregnancy. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said the state Legislature was justified in enacting the ban to protect the health of women and shield fetuses from pain.

A second Arizona anti-abortion law enacted earlier this year also faces a court challenge. That law would bar public funding for non-abortion health care provided by abortion doctors and clinics.

Both anti-abortion laws are among many approved by Arizona's Republican-led Legislature. The other laws include restrictions on clinic operations, mandates for specific disclosures and a prohibition on a type of late-term abortion.

Attorney Janet Crepps of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights argued at Wednesday's hearing that under Supreme Court decisions starting with the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling that legalized abortion, states can only regulate how abortions are performed, not ban them, before a fetus is viable.

Montgomery said that not implementing the 20-week ban would doom fetuses that might be saved due to advances in medicine.

While North Carolina has long had a 20-week ban, Nebraska in 2010 was the first state to recently enact one. Five more states followed in 2010: Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Along with Arizona, Georgia and Louisiana approved 20-week bans this year, though Georgia's doesn't take effect until 2013.

The Center for Reproductive Rights said none of the 20-week bans have so far been blocked by courts.

New CDF prefect: relativism leads to ‘intolerance of God’

(Catholic Culture) The Vatican’s publishing house has released a book by the new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The book is devoted to Pope Benedict’s controversial 2006 Regensburg address on faith, reason, and the university.

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller was bishop of Regensburg at the time of the address.

“At the lesson in Regensberg Benedict XVI once again highlighted the syntheses of faith and reason and of freedom and love – four concepts that today's secularized world would like to claim for itself, while at the same time refusing to recognize the Church's right to present herself as a meaningful source of life,” Archbishop Müller writes in Ampliare l'orizzonte della ragione. “Those who do not believe in Christ as the one mediator of salvation are proud of it and accuse the Church of the constraint of consciences and of spiritual imperialism. However whenever Christians and their choice of faith are involved, this tolerance, raised to the absolute in a pluralistic vision of the world, is lacking.”

Archbishop Müller adds:
Relativism applied to the truth is not only unphilosophical reasoning but indeed inevitably results in intolerance of God. The central pronouncements on God, Jesus Christ and the Church are considered, at most, as the subculture of a religiously motivated group. God becomes an “ideal,” to be used for the edification or education of humankind. Jesus Christ becomes a particularly suitable “case” to serve as a model for society's morals, and the Church is a voluntary union of people who have gathered together (similar to an association), with their own subjective opinions on religion.

Pope Benedict urges end to bloodshed in Syria

(CNA/EWTN News) — Pope Benedict XVI called for an immediate halt to “all violence and shedding of blood” in Syria during his weekly Angelus address on Sunday.

“I ask God to give the wisdom of the heart, especially for those who have the greatest responsibilities, so that no effort is spared in the quest for peace, including the international community, through dialogue and reconciliation, for a proper political settlement of the conflict,” said the Pope to pilgrims at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo July 29.

His comments come as government forces and rebels battle for control of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. The armed revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011 and has since claimed over 10,000 lives according to latest U.N. estimates. Opposition forces claim the true figure is nearer to 20,000.

The Pope said that he has been following events “with concern” for the “growing and tragic episodes of violence in Syria” which have created a “sad sequence of deaths and injuries among civilians.” He also lamented the large number of internally displaced people and refugees who have moved to neighboring countries.

He called for humanitarian assistance to be provided to those in need and he assured those suffering of his prayers.

The situation in Syria has been a consistent feature of Pope Benedict’s comments in recent months. In July he expressed a fear that the internal conflict “risks becoming a generalized conflict which would have highly negative consequences for the country and the entire region.”

In June he called upon the international community to “spare no efforts to resolve this crisis through dialogue and reconciliation.”

Earlier in his Angelus address, Pope Benedict reflected on Sunday’s gospel in which St. John recounted Christ’s feeding of the five thousand by the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Pope described the episode as “a sign of God’s immeasurable providence in the Eucharist.”

“Strengthened by that sacrifice, may we always work for the spiritual nourishment of our brethren, not forgetting the poor and needy,” he said.

Pro-life walk across America continues after death

Columbia, Md., Jul 31, 2012 / 12:20 am (CNA) — An uncle of a young pro-life advocate killed by a car during his pro-life walk across America is flying to the U.S. to take his nephew’s place and complete the remainder of the journey.

U.K. resident Paul Brilliant will attend his nephew Andrew Kentigern Moore’s July 31 funeral in Concord, Calif. and then meet the pro-life group Crossroads in Steubenville, Ohio to help complete their walk from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.

Brilliant “really wants to represent Andrew's family and be with the group as they make it to Washington, D.C.,” Crossroads president James Nolan said July 25.

Moore was praying the Rosary and walking alongside a highway near Indianapolis early on July 20 when he was hit by a car and killed. Investigators found no fault with the driver and Moore might have accidentally stepped onto the roadway.

The 20-year-old was a student at Thomas Aquinas College and was considering joining the priesthood.

His group had walked about 2,200 miles from San Francisco and had 600 miles remaining before reaching Washington, D.C.

The other volunteer walkers have decided to finish their walk in honor of Moore and his pro-life dedication.

“We are not surprised by their decision to continue,” Nolan said. “These are some of the most amazing and dedicated young people I've ever met.”

The Crossroads travelers will suspend their nighttime walking for the rest of the summer.

Caleb Glaser, the leader of the central route which Moore walked, said the group still considers Moore part of the team.

“We believe that he will be walking those miles in spirit with us,” he said.

The treks will finish in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 11 with a noontime rally and memorial at the U.S. Capitol.

Walk participants speak to parish groups to encourage pro-life activism. They stop at local abortion clinics to pray, to hold peaceful protests, and to counsel those who enter.

The Maryland-based Crossroads has held pro-life walks across America for 18 years. It holds four simultaneous pro-life walks across the country to witness to the sanctity of human life and to win converts to protecting life from conception until natural death.

Its website is http://www.crossroadswalk.org.

Vatican daily slams 'confused' Gates Foundation policies

.- Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano has published an article sharply criticizing the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for securing $4.6 billion dollars over the next eight years to promote contraceptives, starting in Africa.
In her July 29 front-page story, reporter Giulia Galeotti said Melinda Gates, who self-identifies as Catholic, “has gone astray.”
Gates, the wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, helped organize a July 11 summit to garner funding pledges for family planning in Africa and southeast Asia. Summit attendees included African heads of state and U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a video for the event, whose NGO partners include abortion providers like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International.
In her article, Galeotti argued that in her attempts to push contraception in developing countries, Gates “is confused by a misinformation and by issues that persist in this area.”
“To still believe in a Catholic Church that, through opposition to the condom, allows women and children to die because of misogynous intransigence is an unfounded and offensive interpretation,” she underscored.
Galeotti noted that “as Paul VI wrote in Humanae Vitae (perhaps the most notorious victim of this kind of false information), the Church is in favor of the natural regulation of fertility, that is, the methods based on the interpretation of the body’s signs and indicators.”
She pointed to the research of the Australian couple, John and Evelyn Billings, who discovered the natural method knowing as the Billings Ovulation Method. 
“It allows women to determine whether or not they are fertile, and based on this determination they can choose their sexual behavior,” she said.
Galeotti noted that the Chinese government has promoted the Billings Method with great success in its search to find a method that is free and does not endanger the health of women.
She rejected the skepticism towards the Billings Method – which has a 98 percent accuracy rate – by those who claim it is unscientific or naïve, adding that baseless accusations are probably not spread by coincidence. Galoetti noted that the method is easy to learn and practice, even by people who are illiterate, and does not require help from third parties.
Another “inconvenient” fact about it is that is completely free and thus deprives the pharmaceutical industry of profits from chemical contraceptives.
Although every foundation is free to donate to whatever cause it wishes, it is not free “to persist in misinformation and present things in a false way,” Galeotti said.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" - July 30, 2012

Talking about the "things that matter most" on July 30

Special Broadcast of Interviews from the Napa Institute Conference

4:00 – Fight Against HHS Mandate Wins Court Battle in CO
A federal judge in Colorado has given a preliminary legal victory to a privately owned business, granting an injunction to stop the implementation of the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate. Hercules Industries--a firm owned by a Catholic family, the Newlands—had argued that the mandate would force the owners either to violate their consciences or to suffer severe financial penalties. Judge John Kane agreed, saying that the government’s interest in a health-insurance program “are countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free exercise of religion.” We talk to Matt Bowman, the attorney who argued this case.

4:20 – The Catholic School Textbook Project
The Catholic Schools Textbook Project is producing a 12-volume series of history/social studies textbooks and supporting materials specifically for Catholic schools and students. Textbooks that are urgently needed. Textbooks that bring history alive – in the heart as well as the mind. The need is urgent because the story of human civilization cannot be told unless the essential contribution of Catholics and the Faith that inspired them is included - and it is just this Faith that is left out of every textbook available to Catholic schoolchildren today. This project will change that situation. We talk to Michael Van Hecke, the President of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project.

4:40 – Evangelizing a Secular Culture
Father Robert Barron spoke this week to the Napa Institute Conference on “Evangelizing the Secular Culture.” In his interview with Al following the talk, they examined how to capture the body, heart and mind of the Catholic faith. Starting from the essential foundation of Jesus Christ’s incarnation, life, and teaching, Father Barron moves through the defining elements of Catholicism – from sacraments, worship, and prayer, to Mary, the Apostles, and Saints, to grace, salvation, heaven, and hell – using his distinct and dynamic grasp of art, literature, architecture, personal stories, Scripture, theology, philosophy, and history to present the Church to the world.

5:00 – Fight Against HHS Mandate Wins Court Battle in CO
A federal judge in Colorado has given a preliminary legal victory to a privately owned business, granting an injunction to stop the implementation of the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate. Hercules Industries--a firm owned by a Catholic family, the Newlands—had argued that the mandate would force the owners either to violate their consciences or to suffer severe financial penalties. Judge John Kane agreed, saying that the government’s interest in a health-insurance program “are countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free exercise of religion.” We talk to Matt Bowman, the attorney who argued this case.

5:20 – Religious Freedom Internationally and At Home
Leonard Leo is the former Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom for both the Bush and Obama administrations. We talk about the state of religious freedom worldwide and how it has become an issue in our own country.

Colorado Theater Shooter Won’t be Charged for Killing Unborn Baby

Alleged Colorado theater shooter James Holmes appeared in court today and was charged with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the horrific shooting during the opening of the latest “Batman” movie.

Although prosecutors want to hold him accountable for the death of each and every person who died or he attempted to kill that evening, Holmes will not be charged with killing an unborn child. That’s because Colorado is one of more than a dozen states that does not recognize unborn children as people before birth for the purposes of criminal law.

Ashley Moser, who was wounded in the July 20 shooting in Aurora, had a miscarriage that resulted in the death of her unborn child. Her family released a statement over the weekend saying Moser is recovering from surgery to treat the gunshot wounds to her neck and abdomen but they caused her to have a miscarriage that killed her baby.

Moser, 25, is also the mother of the youngest victim of the shooting spree—six-year-old Veronica-Moser Sullivan. She was shot multiple times, including once in the stomach and she is expected to live.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act, passed in 2004 and signed into law by President Bush, recognizes an unborn child as a second victim in a crime committed against a pregnant mother. The law, passed after the high-profile deaths of Laci and Connor Peterson, sparked the passage of numerous new state laws that also offer legal protection and justice for mothers and their unborn children who are victims of violent crimes outside the context of abortion. Colorado was not one of the states to approve such a law.

As a result, Holmes won’t be held accountable for killing Moser’s baby. As AP reports:

Defense attorney Karen Steinhauser, a former prosecutor and current adjunct professor at the University of Denver, said homicide charges in Colorado only apply to those “who had been born and alive.” “Legally, it doesn’t fit the definition” in this case, she said.

State lawmakers have tried to change the law and, during the last legislative session, El Paso County Rep. Mark Waller sponsored a bill to charge criminals with killing or injuring unborn children in violent crimes. However, as has happened before, the Democrat-controlled legislature rejected it — making false claims that it would limit abortions.

DHS gears up for civil unrest prior to presidential elections

Reuters / Frank Polich
Reuters / Frank Polich

Published: 28 July, 2012, 12:49, RT.com
The Department of Homeland Security has ordered masses of riot gear equipment to prepare for potential significant domestic riots at the Republican National Convention, Democratic National Convention and next year’s presidential inauguration.
The DHS submitted a rushed solicitation to the Federal Business Opportunities site on Wednesday, which is a portal for Federal government procurement requisitions over $25,000. The request gave the potential suppliers only one day to submit their proposals and a 15-day delivery requirement to Alexandria, Virginia.
As the brief explains, “the objective of this effort is to procure riot gear to prepare for the 2012 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the 2013 Presidential Inauguration and other future similar activities.”
The total amount ordered is about 150 sets of riot helmets, thigh and groin protectors, hard-shell shin guards and other riot gear.
Specifically, DHS is looking to obtain:
- “147 riot helmets” with “adjustable tactical face shield with liquid seal”
- “147 sets of upper body and shoulder protection”
- “152 sets of thigh and groin protection”
- “147 hard-shell shin guards” with “substantial protection from flying debris, non-ballistic weapons, and blows to the leg” and “optimized protective design for severe riot control or tactical situations.”
- “156 forearm protectors”
- “147 pairs of tactical gloves”
The riot gear will be worn by Federal Protective Service agents who are tasked with protecting property, grounds and buildings owned by the federal government.
The urgency of the order can be explained by the fact that there is a growing anticipation that many demonstrators will travel to the Republican National Convention (RNC), scheduled for August 27-30 in Tampa Bay, Florida, and Democratic National Convention (DNC), planned for September 3-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The RNC itself, for example, will have free speech zones, which will serve as containment quarters for the protesters by not allowing them to leave the designated areas and cause trouble.
Another recent DHS move to gear up was back in March of this year, when it gave the defense contractor ATK a deal to provide the DHS with 450 million .40 caliber hollow-point ammunition over a five year period.
On top of that, the DHS has recently purchased a number of bullet-proof checkpoint booths and hired hundreds of new security guards to protect government buildings.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

U.S. backs away from supporting global arms trade treaty

Turtle Bay, Foreign Policy.  Posted By Colum Lynch
The United States upended a major international treaty negotiation, telling foreign delegates at the final session today that they needed more time to consider the pact. Some diplomats said that Washington is seeking another six months, pushing off any decision on the politically sensitive treaty until after the U.S. election. Russia, Indonesia, and India also asked for more time.
Thomas Countryman, U.S. deputy secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, informed representatives of the U.N.'s 193 member states that the United States still needed time to consider the text.
Arms controls advocates expressed dismay over the American move, saying it could undercut momentum that has been building to establish the world's first international treaty government the export of weapons. Before the U.S. speech, they were convinced that the United States and other big powers were on board.
We are "extremely disappointed about this outcome," said Daryl Kimball, the director of the Arms Control Association. The failure of this treaty is "in large part due to the failure of leadership by President Obama."
"Today the U.S. did not grab the golden ring: an international arms treaty that would have bolstered our country's reputation as a leader on human rights," said Scott Stedjan, senior policy advisor for Oxfam. "Moving forward, President Obama must show the political courage required to make a strong treaty that contains strong rules on human rights a reality."
The United States told delegates that it did not have "core" objections to the draft treaty under consideration, but that it needed more time, saying that while the U.N. negotiations have been playing out since July 2, they only received the final text in the past 24 hours.
The U.S. mission to the United Nations was preparing a statement.

Report: Obamacare penalty regressive, will cost most uninsured at least $1,000

Published: 11:47 PM 07/25/2012  
By Michael Bastasch, The DC Caller
Steve Ciccarelli of Annandale, Va., right, a proponent
of President Barack Obama's health care law, argues
with opponent on the issue, Susan Clark, of Washington,
 outside the Supreme Court in Washington,
Thursday, June 28, 2012. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
The penalty imposed by the Affordable Care Act on citizens who elect not to purchase health insurance will be at least $1,000 for most people, and more than $12,000 for high-income earners, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.
“We can see that this is a big tax, particularly on the poor,” writes the Tax Foundation’s William McBride. “Higher income families generally pay a higher amount, but actually a smaller percent of their income, making this a regressive tax.”
For example, the penalty for a family of four earning $20,000 will be $2,085, more than 10 percent of its income, according to the Tax Foundation — whereas a family of four making $100,000 will only have two percent of its income taken away by the government.
Initially, the CBO projected that 3.9 million people would pay the tax in 2016, most of them low- and middle-income households. However, after the Supreme Court ruled that states could opt out of the Medicaid expansion that was intended to cover low-income uninsured people, the CBO put out a new estimate that there could be 6 million additional people dumped into the uninsured pool. Half of that 6 million is estimated to buy insurance.
“That leaves 3 million people potentially subject to the tax, in addition to the 3.9 million earlier estimated,” McBride writes. “However, the CBO argues that few of them would actually pay the tax, due to low-income exemptions.”
The Action Forum estimates that there are potentially 1.2 million people who would be subject to the tax if only six states decide to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. This is in addition to the 3.9 million the CBO estimated in 2010.
“The CBO estimates that by 2016 about half of the roughly 55 million currently uninsured will gain insurance either through Medicaid or private insurance exchanges,” writes McBride. “As such, ACA represents, in the main, a massive transfer of wealth from the uninsured, who are largely low- and middle-income earners, to insurance companies and the larger healthcare industry.”
According to the Tax Foundation, implementation of the individual health insurance mandate will have unintended consequences and detrimental effects on the economy as people try to adjust and shield their incomes in order to pay less or avoid the tax altogether.
“For those who choose to remain uninsured, and are not otherwise exempt, the tax/penalty would carry with it exceedingly high additional burdens in the form of compliance costs, due to complexity and non-transparency, as well as administrative costs, as we ask a revenue agency to verify insurance,” McBride concluded. “Finally, the economic distortions are likely to be large, if unpredictable. The uninsured would certainly have an incentive to reduce their income, either by working less or finding and creating tax shelters.”

Saturday, July 28, 2012

St. Pius X And The Olympic Games

Vatican City, 27 July 2012 (VIS) - It was 1908 when, in the wake of a serious economic crisis, Rome renounced hosting the Olympic Games which were eventually celebrated in London, England. In the same year Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, sought help from the Vatican to support the Games, and Pope St. Pius X in person offered him his support. More than one hundred years later, the British capital is hosting the Olympic Games for the third time. The event is due to open this evening.

That moment at the beginning of the twentieth century is described in a book entitled "Pio X e lo sport" by Antonella Stelitano. At that time "less than one per cent of the population practised any sporting activity, ... and sport was used only as a form of military training or as a pastime for the upper classes", the author explained in an interview with Vatican Radio.
However "St. Pius X ... was aware of the educational potential of sport". He saw it as a way "to approach young people, and to bring them together while following certain rules and showing respect for adversaries. I believe", the author explained, "that he understood that it was possible to bring people together simply, without any problems of race, religion or differing political ideas".
At that time in history many people did not understand the importance of exercise, said Antonella Stelitano who concluded her interview by recalling an anecdote whereby Pius X told one of his cardinals: "All right, if it is impossible to understand that this can be done, then I myself will do exercise in front of everyone so that they may see that, if the Pope can do it, anyone can do it".

Legal eagles cry fowl over politicians' plans to block Chick-fil-A

As Chicago became the latest city to tell Chick-fil-A it isn't welcome because its president doesn't support gay marriage, legal experts said the communities don't have a drumstick to stand on.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel became the second big-city mayor to blast the company over president Dan Cathy's comment last week that he is “guilty as charged” for supporting the traditional definition of marriage. Emanuel spoke up after Alderman Proco Joe Moreno announced he intends to block the chain from opening its second Chicago location over his stance.
But barring the popular fast-food restaurant over the personal views of Cathy is an “open and shut” discrimination case, legal scholars told FoxNews.com.
“The government can regulate discrimination in employment or against customers, but what the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words,” said Adam Schwartz, senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. “When an alderman refuses to allow a business to open because its owner has expressed a viewpoint the government disagrees with, the government is practicing viewpoint discrimination.”

"What the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words.”
- Adam Schwartz, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois

The ACLU “strongly supports” same-sex marriage, Schwartz said, but noted that if a government can exclude a business for being against same-sex marriage, it can also exclude a business for being in support of same-sex marriage.
“But we also support the First Amendment,” he said. “We don’ think the government should exclude Chick-fil-A because of the anti-LGBT message. We believe this is clear cut.”
Jonathan Turley, a professor at the George Washington University Law School, said Moreno’s intentions raises “serious” constitutional concerns.
“It’s also a very slippery slope,” Turley told FoxNews.com. “If a City Council started to punish companies because of the viewpoints of their chief operating officers, that would become a very long list of banned companies.”
If Moreno did indeed put such a plan into action, it would be “excessive and likely unconstitutional,” Turley said.
Wilson Huhn, a professor and associate director of the Constitutional Law Center at The University of Akron School of Law, echoed Turley’s stance, saying that a denial on behalf of Moreno regarding a second Chick-fil-A restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood would “absolutely” violate the First Amendment.
“It would be an open and shut case,” Huhn said. “You can’t do that. They cannot be denied a zoning permit based upon the viewpoint of their CEO.”
Moreno and Emanuel can express their personal opinion on the matter, Huhn said, including the organization of boycotts and protests against the fast food chain.
“But if official action were taken against Chick-fil-A based upon their opposition to same-sex marriage by denying them permits or to prevent their restaurant from expanding, that would absolutely be viewpoint discrimination,” Huhn said.
Meanwhile, in a statement released Thursday, the owner and operator of Chicago’s only Chick-fil-A restaurant — which created 97 jobs in the past year — invited Emanuel to meet with her. The invitation came after Emanuel said opening a second location in the city would be a “bad investment” following Moreno’s statement.
In a statement to FoxNews.com, Sarah Hamilton, a spokeswoman for Emanuel, said that the mayor said that Cathy did not share Chicago’s values.
“He did not say that he would block or play any role in the company opening a new restaurant here,” Hamilton said in a statement to FoxNews.com. “If they meet all the usual requirements, then they can open their restaurant, but their values aren't reflective of our city.”
The Atlanta-based chain declined to comment for this story.
Reached by phone Thursday, Moreno first appeared to back away from his stance, saying traffic concerns drive his objections to the store. But when pressed, Moreno refused to back off his criticism of Cathy’s position on same-sex marriage.
“No, I’m not saying that, I’m not walking back about from that,” Moreno said when asked if his objection to the restaurant has nothing to do with Cathy’s beliefs. “That’s another part of it .. I think businesses should be neutral on that. They should be selling chicken.”
Last week, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told the Boston Herald that “it will be very difficult” for Chick-fil-A to obtain licenses for a restaurant in Boston. But on Thursday, Menino backed away from that threat, saying he won’t actively block the chain.
“I can’t do that,” he told the Herald. “That would be interference to his rights to go there.”
And in a letter dated Wednesday, Philadelphia City Councilman James Kenney wrote a letter to Cathy criticizing him for his comments.
"As an American you are legally entitled to your opinion, regardless of how insensitive and intolerant it may be, but as a fellow American and an elected member of Philadelphia City Council; I am entitled to express my opinion as well," Kenney wrote. "So please – take a hike and take your intolerance with you. There is no place for this type of hate in our great City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection."
Despite the emotional issue of same-sex marriage, Cathy's position is not out of the mainstream. A USA Today/Gallup Poll in May showed 50 percent of Americans approved of gay marriage and 48 percent opposed it. That poll was taken one day before President Obama, who had previously said he was against same-sex marriage, but that his position was "evolving," came out in favor of it.
Evangelist Billy Graham on Thursday issued a statement in support of Cathy and Chick-fil-A for its “strong Christian” faith.
“I've known their family for many years and have watched them grow Chick-fil-A into one of the best businesses in America while never compromising their values,” the statement read. “Each generation faces different issues and challenges, but our standard must always be measured by God's word. I appreciate the Cathy family's public support for God's definition of marriage … As the son of a dairy farmer who milked many a cow, I plan to 'Eat Mor Chikin' and show my support by visiting Chick-fil-A next Wednesday."