Thursday, May 31, 2012

Democrats Defeat Bill to Ban Sex-Selection Abortions

Democrats in the House of Representatives prevented passage of a bill that would ban sex-selection abortions. The legislation needed a two-thirds vote and Democrats voted overwhelmingly against the legislation after President Barack Obama and Planned Parenthood came out in opposition.

With a 246-168 vote, the bill did not obtain the two-thirds majority necessary to pass. Republicans voted for the bill on a 226-7 margin while Democrats opposed banning sex-selection abortions on 161-20 vote margin.

The bill would make it a federal offense to knowingly do any one of the following four things: (1) perform an abortion, at any time in pregnancy, “knowing that such abortion is sought based on the sex or gender of the child”; (2) use “force or threat of force. . . for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection abortion”; (3) solicit or accept funds to perform a sex-selection abortion; or (4) transport a woman into the U.S. or across state lines for this purpose. However, the bill says “A woman upon whom a sex-selection abortion is performed may not be prosecuted or held civilly liable for any violation . . .”

The bill also specifically states, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require that a healthcare provider has an affirmative duty to inquire as to the motivation for the abortion, absent the healthcare provider having knowledge or information that the abortion is being sought based on the sex or gender of the child.”

Leading pro-life groups were aghast that Democrats would stand in the way of passing what should be a common sense bill.

Tom McClusky, Senior Vice President for Family Research Council Action (FRC Action), had the following to say: “We are deeply saddened that the U.S. House of Representatives would vote to keep sex-selection abortion legal in this country. That anyone on either side of the political aisle would vote against a bill preventing gendercide in the United States is profoundly troubling. Given that CDC data suggests sex-selection abortion is occurring in our country, and a recent undercover video released this week by Live Action showing Planned Parenthood’s willingness to facilitate a sex-selection abortion, the American public cannot ignore this sexist practice.

“But because of lobbying by Planned Parenthood and the White House, the bill to protect against sex-selection abortion failed. We applaud the 246 Members on both sides of the aisle who voted for the bill. We thank Rep. Trent Franks and the Republican leadership for holding a vote on this legislation to ban this tragic and discriminatory practice. We will continue to work with them to pass this legislation in the future, so that pre-born women across the nation will be protected from gendercide and sex discrimination,” McClusky concluded.

NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson said: “We are heartened that a strong majority of House members voted to ban performing or coercing abortions for the purpose of eliminating unborn babies of an undesired sex – usually, girls. Shamefully, President Obama, and a minority of 168 House members, complied with the political demands of pro-abortion pressure groups, rather than defend the coerced women, and their unborn daughters, who are victimized by sex-selection abortions.”

Among the organizations that warned House members not to vote for the bill was the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). PPFA sent an email memo to House members on May 29 warning of its “intent to score” a vote for the bill as a vote against “women’s health.” Also on May 29, the Huffington Post reported that “no Planned Parenthood clinic will deny a woman an abortion based on her reasons for wanting one, except in those states that explicitly prohibit sex-selective abortions (Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Illinois).”

“We commend the House Republican leadership for bringing this bill to the floor today under the fast-track procedure,” Johnson said. “Today’s groundbreaking majority vote was a stepping stone to this bill ultimately becoming law – perhaps after the replacement of some of the lawmakers who today were unwilling to protect victimized women and their unborn daughters from sex-selection abortions, because they were more concerned with maintaining favor with the abortion industry, pro-abortion advocacy groups, and Hollywood donors.”

Obama’s opposition comes after after a new video exposing how Planned Parenthood encourages women to have sex-selection abortions. A second video showing another Planned Parenthood clinic okaying sex-selection abortions has followed it up.

A few years ago, a national study showed the possibility that the practice of sex-selection abortions has made its way from Asia to the United States. Researchers Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund of the National Academy of Sciences say their analysis of the 2000 Census shows the odds prematurely increasing for Asian-American families from China, Korea and India to have a boy if they already have a girl child.

The data “suggest that in a sub-population with a traditional son preference, the technologies are being used to generate male births when preceding births are female,” they wrote in the paper.

Previously, abortion advocates not only opposed the bill in great hysteria but also denied the very existence of sex selection abortions. Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, called it a “trumped up bill for a trumped up problem.” Meanwhile at the pro-abortion blog Jezebel, a writer called sex selection abortions “a problem rampant only in its rampant nonexistence.”

A recent poll conducted by the Lozier Institute found that 77% of respondents would support the enactment of laws prohibiting abortion in cases where “the fact that the developing baby is a girl is the sole reason for seeking an abortion.” Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Arizona already have laws on the books which prohibit this practice, according to the Lozier Institute.

Meanwhile, a 2006 poll showed a majority of Americans would likely support the bill. A 2006 Zogby International poll showed that 86% of the American public desired a law to ban sex-selection abortion. The poll surveyed a whopping 30,117 respondents in 48 states.

ACTION: Click here to see how your lawmakers voted and tell them what you think of their votes.

Shootings leave 6 dead in Seattle

SEATTLE (CBS) — A city already anxious about a recent spate of shootings was rattled further when a man walked into an arts cafe near a Seattle university and opened fire, fatally wounding four people. Police say he later killed a woman during a carjacking before shooting himself.

As officers closed in during a widespread manhunt late Wednesday afternoon, the suspect put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. He died at a local hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The five victims brought the number of homicides in Seattle so far this year to 21, matching the total for all of last year, and left city leaders wondering what could be done to stop the bloodshed.

"Two tragic shootings today ... have shaken this city," Mayor Mike McGinn said at a news conference. "It follows on the heels of multiple, tragic episodes of gun violence that have occurred throughout the city."

In the last month, there had already been two random killings. A man died last week when he was hit by a stray bullet as he drove, and a woman was killed in a drive by shooting in late April. No arrests have been made,

Police did not publicly name the suspect in Wednesday's shootings, but the Seattle Times identified him as Ian Lee Stawicki, 40, of Seattle, citing unidentified law enforcement sources.

Andrew Stawicki, 29, of Ellensburg, told the Times he recognized a photo shown on TV newscasts of the alleged gunman as his brother Ian. Andrew Stawicki said Ian Stawicki was mentally ill.

"It's no surprise to me this happened," he told the newspaper. "We could see this coming. Nothing good is going to come with that much anger inside of you."

A phone number for Andrew Stawicki rang busy when The Associated Press tried to reach him for comment.

Gunfire erupted about 11 a.m. at Cafe Racer, a restaurant and music venue north of the University of Washington.

Police quickly released two photos from inside the cafe, apparently taken from a security camera. One showed a man walking into the establishment, with a woman nearby reading a book and people chatting at the nearby cafe bar. Another photo about a minute later showed stools overturned, and the man standing and holding what appeared to be a handgun.

Two men died at the cafe, and a third man and a woman from the cafe died at a hospital.

Police said it appeared the gunman fled to the First Hill neighborhood near downtown, where he fatally shot a woman in a parking lot and stole her SUV.

He then drove the SUV to West Seattle and ditched it, leaving a gun in the car. After officers found the vehicle, they flooded that area with uniformed and plainclothes officers.

A detective spotted the suspect late in the afternoon and called for backup and a SWAT team, Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel said. As those officers arrived, the man shot himself, he said.

A King County medical examiner's spokeswoman said her office might be able to release the dead victims' identifications Thursday.

One man wounded in the cafe shooting was reported in critical but stable condition late Wednesday at Harborview Medical Center following surgery earlier in the day. Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg confirmed his name as Leonard Meuse. Meuse's father, Raymond Meuse, told the Times his son was shot in the jaw and armpit but was expected to survive.

Evan Hill, who lives above the building where the shooting happened, said the cafe was an artists' collective and performance space.

"It's the strangest place to think of a shooting," said Hill, who heard four to five shots. He said he ran to his balcony and called 911, but didn't see a suspect.

On a street corner across from the cafe, friends of the victims gathered by the ivy-covered wall of an apartment building. Some collapsed in grief. The cafe's owner hugged them and commiserated.

Units of police officers marched by with rifles and shotguns, knocking on doors and checking driveways and yards in the neighborhood of single-family, bungalow-style homes, restaurants and businesses.

During the manhunt, Roosevelt High School, Eckstein Middle School and Greenlake Elementary were locked down, according to the school district.

In other recent violence to hit Seattle, a bystander was wounded near the Space Needle Saturday when he was struck by a bullet that police say was fired by a gang member involved in a dispute with another man. Later that night, about 60 shots were fired in drive-by shootings at four houses. No one was hit.

Besides a plan to increase the number of officers on patrol in high-crime areas, police are urging people with information about shootings to come forward.

They also said Seattleites could expect an increased police presence in the near future.

City Councilman Bruce Harrell said leaders needed to consider everything — from changing laws to addressing the culture of violence.

"If we are to be honest, there's no easy fix," he said.

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

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

Guest Host: Ken Castel
Special: A Focus on Marriage

4:00 – The Theology of Marriage
Fr. John Riccardo

4:40 – Pray Together – Stay Together
Deacon Bob Ovies

5:00 – Proclaiming the Beauty, Goodness and Truth of Marriage
Greg and Julie Alexander

5:30 – The Case for Traditional Marriage
Peter Sprigg

Battle in Canadian schools mirrors broader Catholic realities

National Catholic Reporter

By John Allen

Politics is the mother of irony, and there's a juicy one bubbling right now in Canada, in the province of Ontario, where a school system originally designed to protect one aggrieved minority -- namely Catholics -- is under mounting pressure in the name of defending another -- in this case, gays and lesbians.

Specifically, some political and social leaders in Ontario want to compel publicly funded Catholic schools to permit the creation of "gay-straight alliance" clubs for their students as part of an effort to combat bullying based on sexual orientation, despite concern from church leaders that such groups could become vehicles for promoting homosexuality.

Aside from the irony of playing one minority off another, the Ontario controversy illustrates two key questions about Catholic life in the 21st century:

•Will Catholic institutions be able to maintain both fidelity to church teaching and public funding in a time when some aspects of Catholic teaching are drawing ever greater legal and political blowback?

•Given that secular opinion is pulling Catholic institutions in one direction and church leaders in another, how will institutions navigate those tensions? How many of them might choose to walk away?

I was in Ontario this week for speaking gigs Wednesday at St. Peter's Seminary in London, marking its 100th anniversary, and at a meeting of Catholic educators in the province. I found that questions about the future of Catholic education and the church's relationship with an increasingly secular culture are very much in the air.

* * *

Ontario is the most populous province in Canada, home to both Toronto and the national capital of Ottawa. It's also home to a fairly unique system of Catholic education, in which Catholic K-12 schools are fully funded by the state. About 600,000 students attend 1,300 Catholic schools in Ontario, roughly a third of the province's total student population, and the union for English-speaking teachers in these schools has 45,000 members.

The schools are not governed directly by the bishops, but by Boards of Trustees chosen by Catholic voters in civil elections. In Ontario, there are 29 such English Catholic boards and eight French Catholic boards.

Public funding for Catholic schools was part of the deal at the time of Canadian confederation in the mid-19th century. To over-simplify, the Catholic minority in Ontario wanted the same deal Protestants received in Quebec: a separate school system paid for by the state. Most historians believe that had such a guarantee not been issued, Canada might never have become a unified nation. (Debates over funding for Catholic schools in Manitoba in the late 19th century actually produced a papal encyclical, Leo XIII's Affari Vos.)

At the time, a strong Protestant majority resented the more recent horde of Irish Catholic immigrants. An 1850 editorial by the Globe, in what was then called York and would eventually become Toronto, was typical: "Irish beggars are to be met everywhere, and they are as ignorant and vicious as they are poor. They are lazy, improvident and unthankful; they fill our poorhouses and our prisons, and are as brutish in their superstition as Hindoos."

As that sort of crude anti-Catholicism has ebbed, there have been periodic calls to revise the separate school system, usually on the grounds that it amounts to religious favoritism. Why pay for Catholic schools, the argument runs, if you're not also going to pay for yeshivas, madrasahs and so on? In 1999 and again in 2005, the United Nations Human Rights Committee charged Canada with discrimination on the basis of its preferential treatment for Catholic schools.

Quebec changed its school system in 1997 to one based on language, not religion, and Newfoundland and Labrador moved to a single public system in the same year. Supporters of the Catholic system in Ontario, however, argue that it's been doing great work for 170 years, so if it's not broken, why fix it?

A recent poll showed 53 percent of Ontario residents in favor of eliminating public funding for Catholic schools, with 40 percent supporting it and 6 percent unsure. Given the political and constitutional headaches involved, most observers doubt there will be a serious movement to absorb Catholic schools into a single system anytime soon, but it's nonetheless a popular rallying cry in some quarters.

* * *

Against that backdrop, ferment around bullying in Ontario schools erupted last October when a 15-year-old gay freshman in an Ottawa high school (not a Catholic institution) committed suicide after chronicling his depression on a blog. His father, a city councilor in Ottawa, later said his son had been bullied in school, saying he believed the abuse was a factor in the suicide.

In response to public concern, two anti-bullying bills are currently before the provincial legislature. One, Bill 14, is fairly generic, while another, Bill 13, is more specifically targeted at bullying based on sexual orientation. Among its provisions is that school boards must permit "organizations with the name gay-straight alliance or another name" to address the needs of students who identity as gay, lesbian or transgendered.

Doubts about the legislation, it should be said, aren't coming exclusively from Catholics. On Tuesday, the father of the 15-year-old who committed suicide testified that he felt belonging to a "gay-straight alliance" might have made his son even more of a target and argued for a more all-inclusive approach.

Nonetheless, Catholics are among the most important actors in the debate. Generally speaking, one can distinguish three currents in Catholic opinion:

•Those who fully support the anti-bullying initiatives, including the idea of "gay-straight alliances" in Catholic schools. That would include the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association, which has publicly endorsed the provisions of Bill 13 that protect gay, lesbian and transgendered students. (The statement was released May 17, promoted by an international coalition of gay rights groups as the "International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia," an effort the teachers also endorsed.)

•Those who oppose Bill 13 on the grounds that what's really at stake isn't so much prevention of bullying but compelling Catholic schools to water down their identity, especially on the teaching of sexual morality. A group called "Concerned Catholic Parents of Ontario" has made the argument that the bill violates both religious freedom and the rights of parents, backed by the pro-life website "LifeSiteNews" based in Toronto.

•Officialdom, including the Ontario bishops and the Catholic Schools Trustees' Association, which has been trying to strike a balance -- applauding the effort to fight bullying, but questioning the preferential treatment for one vulnerable group at the expense of others, and also defending the distinctive identity of Catholic schools.

This week, an openly gay Cabinet minister in Ontario predicted that assuming Bill 13 is passed and Catholic schools don't permit "gay-straight alliances," the resulting church/state dispute will end up in court. Some legal experts in Canada believe that could be a test case for the extent to which Catholic schools can claim exemption from state norms in anything other than the actual teaching of the faith in specifically identified religion classes.

When the Ontario bishops, led by Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, have been asked to comment on the anti-bullying bills, they generally offer some version of the following five talking points:

•The church is against bullying, and Catholic schools strive to create a respectful and welcoming environment for all.

•It's a mistake to focus on bullying for one reason (sexual orientation) at the expense of others (physical appearance, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, etc.). Deciding which to emphasize is best done on the local level.

•There are different pathways to promote respect, including a distinctively Catholic approach rooted in church teaching.

•Education is primary the responsibility of parents, and legislation needs to respect their role.

•Some language in the draft legislation, such as "incidents of homophobia," is overly broad and could open the door for sanctions not just against bullying, but even the presentation of church teaching on homosexuality.

* * *

Politically speaking, the dust-up over the anti-bullying bill is almost certainly survivable for the church. The trustees have already said Catholic schools will permit the creation of "Respecting Difference" groups, including ones for students who identify as gay, lesbian or transgendered, just not under the title of a "gay-straight alliance." (The trustees published a 16-page document in January titled "Respecting Difference," outlining their approach to "promoting equity and respect for all students.")

A vote on the bill in the Ontario legislature is expected in early June. Many observers expect some kind of anti-bullying legislation will be adopted, but it's not yet clear in what form, with proposed amendments scheduled for debate next week.

Even if this dispute can be resolved, the broader questions it raises are not going away.

First, over the long haul, will it be possible to maintain institutions that are both fully Catholic and also fully supported by the state? School trustees I met this week in Ontario say they believe so, largely on the grounds that they've been doing it for 170 years. Certainly a powerful argument can be made that broad social interests are promoted when faith-based institutions are able to deliver services such as education, health care and poverty relief.

Yet in an environment in which some aspects of Catholic faith and practice -- especially, perhaps, its teaching on homosexuality -- is perceived as intolerant and bigoted, will that social compact be sustainable? The question is very much in the air, and not just in Ontario.

Second, regardless of what secular governments might do, are at least some Catholic institutions destined to move further and further out of the orbit of the institutional church?

In Ontario, there's long been an undercurrent of grumbling in some quarters about the religious identity of Catholic schools. A few cynics joke there's no need to dismantle the Catholic system -- just stand back, they say, and watch it collapse from within.

Last week, an Ottawa priest named Fr. Anthony Hannan urged about 900 Catholic youths at a March for Life conference, "It's up to you to transform the system from the inside."

"If we want to save the system, if we want to save the Catholic schools, we must make them Catholic," Hannan said, insisting that it's a real injustice that students who take the faith seriously feel "ostracized" in Catholic schools.

Hannan urged the youth to get a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and bring it to class to ensure that the "the authentic teachings of the church" are presented in their classrooms.

If that happens, Hannan said, "please God, in the decades ahead we will have Catholic schools" -- implying, obviously, that those schools aren't particularly Catholic at the moment.

Whatever one makes of that analysis, there's no denying the contrast on the "gay-straight alliance" issue between the bishops/trustees and the teachers -- in other words, between the people who govern the schools and the people who actually work in them. In broad strokes, the teachers seem to embody a more conventionally "liberal" view.

That contrast reflects a broader Catholic reality of our times. Personnel who staff all manner of church-affiliated institutions these days -- charities, hospitals, schools, advocacy centers and so on -- often have a different theological and political outlook than their ecclesial overseers. We're passing through a moment in which church leaders are becoming increasingly vigilant about such gaps in the name of defending Catholic identity (witness the recent overhauls of Caritas Internationalis and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, to cite two examples).

Hence the $64,000 question: As pressures around identity and authority intensify, what share of these institutions, or their personnel, will decide to cut their ties to the institutional church -- especially, of course, if they can bank on alternative means of support from the state?

Such a rupture seems unlikely to happen in Ontario over the anti-bullying fracas, at least anytime soon. Nonetheless, the controversy offers a reminder that the historical wheels are turning, and the church could be in for a bumpy ride.

John L. Allen Jr. is NCR senior correspondent.

Chinese Gather in New York to Discuss 1-Child Policy; Chen Guangcheng to Speak

(NCR) NEW YORK — As Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng prepared to give his first speech in the United States, a group of Chinese expatriates gathered in New York City May 29 to discuss abuses in their homeland’s one-child-per-family policy.

Chen is the blind human-rights lawyer who had been under house arrest in his native Shandong Province for documenting abuses of the one-child policy. He escaped and took refuge in the American Embassy in Beijing in April and was subsequently allowed to go the United States to study at New York University. He is scheduled to speak at the Council on Foreign Relations in Manhattan this morning.

Like Chen, Women’s Rights in China , a New York-based organization advocating for the rights of women and children in China, is concerned about the abuses that accompany the 30-year-old one-child policy, particularly forced abortions and forced sterilization, but also the very notion that the state can dictate how many children a woman may have and when.

Its founder, Zhang Jing, who is Catholic, presided over the conference in the heavily Chinese section of Flushing, in the borough of Queens, N.Y. The audience included members of Women’s Rights in China and people involved in the Chinese democracy movement.

The organizers had invited several China-based activists who have worked to change the policy, but two invitees reportedly failed to receive permission to leave the country. One of them, Yang Zhizhu, had lost his job teaching at a university in Beijing because he and his wife had a second child without state permission. His speech was read in absentia. He said family-planning officials sometimes “interrogate” pregnant women to make sure it’s their first baby.

All the speakers painted a bleak picture of the policy’s effect on women who have undergone forced abortions and sterilizations, as well as its destructive impact on the whole of Chinese society.
Ann Noonan, the only non-Chinese speaker on the program, pointed out how the policy has transformed the nation. She said that only a couple of generations ago Chinese family photos would show mother and father, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins.

“Today, a photo of a Chinese family would likely include a mother and father, one child — probably a boy — no sisters and brothers, maybe an aunt or uncle and maybe a cousin,” said Noonan, who is executive director and co-founder of the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting, which works to strengthen the free flow of uncensored news from the U.S. into other countries. “The one-child policy … has completely changed the Chinese family.”

All pregnancies must be authorized by the government, she said. The Chinese preference for sons, combined with the policy, has resulted in a “huge disproportion” of males to females in China, she added. The policy, which, according to other speakers, has become a large part of the rhythm of everyday life in China, causes women “extreme anguish” that they are not allowed to discuss. And China has an extremely high suicide rate among young women.

Fact and Fiction

Ma Jian, a Chinese writer living in Great Britain, spoke of interviewing victims of the one-child policy for a novel. Some families actually live in garbage dumps and house boats in their efforts to escape a forced abortion or heavy fine for having a second child, he found.

Ma’s presentation included several slides, including a photograph of “baby soup,” considered by some Chinese to help men increase virility. He said that some illegal abortion and sterilization facilities have arrangements with certain restaurants that sell the fetus-laden soup for $500 a bowl.

Ma, who has four children, said that even the “privileged classes” in China — high officials in the Communist Party — are subject to the one-child policy. “It is extremely rare for a policy to be so penetrating in China.”
In some villages, he said, there are whole streets full of propaganda promoting the one-child policy. A typical street-side slogan reads: “One Child, One Happy Family.”

“In China, women are treated like a reproductive tool instead of a human being,” Ma said.
During a question-and-answer period, Noonan pointed out that the Obama administration had reinstated U.S. funding of the United Nations Population Fund.

According to the Population Research Institute, the UNFPA has supported the one-child policy in China since 1979 and operates family-planning programs in 32 counties.

Ma Jian said local family-planning officials use the fact that the UNFPA financially supports Chinese family planning to “frighten” women into submission to the one-child policy.

House to vote on sex-selection abortion ban

WASHINGTON (AP) — Legislation coming up for a House vote would make it a federal crime to carry out an abortion based on the gender of the fetus. The measure takes aim at the aborting of female fetuses, a practice more common to countries such India and China, where there is a strong preference for sons, but which is also thought to take place in this country.

The mainly Republican supporters of the bill characterized the vote as a sex-discrimination issue at a time when Democrats are accusing Republicans of waging a war on women. Abortion rights advocates argued that the bill exploits the problem of selective abortion to further limit a woman's right to choose.

The House Republican leadership brought the bill to the floor under a procedure requiring a two-thirds majority for passage, and the outcome was uncertain. To help assure passage, the authors removed a contentious provision of the bill that would have also banned abortions based on the race of the fetus.

Even if it passes the House, the measure faces a dim future in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The legislation, sponsored by anti-abortion activist Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., would make it a federal offense, subject to up to five years in prison, to perform, solicit funds to perform or coerce a woman into a sex-selection abortion. Bringing a woman into the country to obtain such an abortion would also be punishable by up to five years in prison.

"We are the only advanced country left in the world that still doesn't restrict sex-selection abortion in any way," said Franks, who has also collided with pro-choice groups recently over a bill he is pushing to ban abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks of pregnancy. "This evil practice has now allowed thousands of little girls in America and millions of little girls across the world to be brutally dismembered."

Franks and others say there is evidence of sex-selection abortions in the United States among certain ethnic groups from countries where there is a traditional preference for sons. The bill notes that while the United States has no law against such abortions, countries such as India and China, where the practice has contributed to lopsided boy-girl ratios, have enacted bans on the practice.

Lawmakers "who recently have embraced contrived political rhetoric asserting that they are resisting a 'war on women' must reflect on whether they now wish to be recorded as being defenders of the escalating war on baby girls," said National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson.

His group, in a letter to lawmakers, said there are credible estimates that 160 million women and girls are missing from the world due to sex selection.

But the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that favors abortion rights, said evidence of sex selection in the United States is limited and inconclusive. It said that while there is census data showing some evidence of son preference among Chinese-, Indian- and Korean-American families when older children are daughters, the overall U.S. sex ratio at birth in 2005 was 105 boys to 100 girls, "squarely within biologically normal parameters."

NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan said that while her group has long opposed "reproductive coercion," ''the Franks bill exploits the very real problem of sex discrimination and gender inequity while failing to offer any genuine solutions that would eliminate disparities in health care access and information."

Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, said the bill fosters discrimination by "subjecting women from certain racial and ethnic backgrounds to additional scrutiny about their decision to terminate a pregnancy."

"Doctors would be forced to police their patients, read their minds and conceal information from them," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

With the focus on the economy, abortion and other social issues have not been in the spotlight this year. Still, Franks' D.C. bill and other bills on parental notification and eliminating funds for international family planning groups are working their way through the House, and last year the GOP-led House passed bills to deny funds to Planned Parenthood, effectively ban abortion coverage in state health-insurance exchanges and bar funds from being used by teaching health centers for training in abortion care. Those efforts died in the Senate.

Gendercide in America Part II: Undercover in NYC

Today, Live Action released a new undercover video - the second this week - showing a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in New York City encouraging a woman to obtain a late-term abortion because she was purportedly carrying a girl and wanted to have a boy. The video is the second in a new series titled “Gendercide: Sex-Selection in America,” exposing the practice of sex-selective abortion in the United States and how Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion industry facilitate the selective elimination of baby girls in the womb.

Obama opposes ban on sex-selection abortion

National Right to Life Committee

U.S. House of Representatives to vote on ban today

President Obama comes out against ban on sex-selection abortions; National Right to Life says Obama “stands with the pro-abortion political committees and his Hollywood donors, rather than with the coerced women, and their unborn daughters, who are victimized in sex-selection abortions.”

WASHINGTON – ABC News White House correspondent Jake Tapper has posted an exclusive report that President Obama opposes the bill to prohibit performing or coercing abortions to eliminate unborn babies of an undesired sex – usually girls – on which the U.S. House of Representatives will vote this afternoon.

Tapper raised the question at Wednesday’s White House press briefing, but initially got no answer. However, Tapper now reports on the ABCNews website: “The White House got back to me this evening [May 30] to say the president opposes the bill.” Tapper reproduces a statement from a White House press aide:

NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson commented, “It is appalling, but not surprising, that President Obama now stands with the pro-abortion political committees and his Hollywood donors, rather than with the coerced women, and their unborn daughters, who are victimized in sex-selection abortions.”

The legislation is the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) (H.R. 3541). The House will vote on the bill under “Suspension of the Rules,” which means that a two-thirds vote will be required for passage. The roll call is expected to occur before 3 PM EDT today.

The bill would make it a federal offense to knowingly do any one of the following four things: (1) perform an abortion, at any time in pregnancy, “knowing that such abortion is sought based on the sex or gender of the child”; (2) use “force or threat of force. . . for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection abortion”; (3) solicit or accept funds to perform a sex-selection abortion; or (4) transport a woman into the U.S. or across state lines for this purpose. However, “A woman upon whom a sex-selection abortion is performed may not be prosecuted or held civilly liable for any violation . . .”

The bill also specifically states, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require that a healthcare provider has an affirmative duty to inquire as to the motivation for the abortion, absent the healthcare provider having knowledge or information that the abortion is being sought based on the sex or gender of the child.” The White House statement falsely claimed that the bill would “subject doctors to criminal prosecution if they fail to determine the motivations” for an abortion.

NRLC has posted extensive information on the practice of sex-selection abortion in the U.S., and on the legislation, at its website here:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

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

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

4:00 – Walking Toward Eternity
Walking Toward Eternity is an inspiring series designed to help you live your faith more fully by developing and nurturing characteristics that are essential to the Christian life. Through daily prayer and meditation with Scripture (lectio divina), you will be drawn into an intimate and life-changing encounter with Christ. Creator Jeff Cavins is with us.

4:40 – Kresta Comments
In Coming Apart, Charles Murray explores the formation of American classes that are different in kind from anything we have ever known, focusing on whites as a way of driving home the fact that the trends he describes do not break along lines of race or ethnicity. Drawing on five decades of statistics and research, Coming Apart demonstrates that a new upper class and a new lower class have diverged so far in core behaviors and values that they barely recognize their underlying American kinship—divergence that has nothing to do with income inequality and that has grown during good economic times and bad. Al comments on the thesis.

5:00 – Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy
In his thought–provoking new book, The Moral Case for a Free Economy. Fr. Robert Sirico argues that a free economy promotes charity, selflessness, and kindness. He shows why free-market capitalism is not only the best way to ensure individual success and national prosperity but is also the surest route to a moral and socially–just society. Father Sirico himself converted from being a leftist colleague of Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden to recognizing the merits of a free economy. Capitalism does not simply provide opportunity for material success, but it ensures a more ethical and moral society as well. Fr. Sirico joins us.

Vatican releases, explains guidelines on testing reported apparitions

(Catholic Culture) The Vatican has officially released a document providing guidelines for bishops in judging reports of apparitions.
The guidelines were issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 1978, and approved by Pope Paul VI. They were not made public at the time, the Vatican explained, because the guidelines were “principally intended as a direct aid for the pastors of the Church.” However, since portions of the CDF advice have leaked into the public realm, the Vatican decided to make the entire document public.
In a new introduction to the 1978 document, Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, notes that the 2008 meeting of the Synod of Bishops underlined the need to “help the faithful to distinguish the Word of God from private revelations.” Private revelations may spur devotion, but do not require the assent of faith, he said. “The criterion of judging the truth of a private revelation is its orientation to Christ Himself.”
In the 1978 norms, the CDF said that ecclesiastical authorities—in nearly all cases, the bishop of the diocese in which an apparition is reported—“should discern quickly” whether the phenomenon is genuine. However, the CDF went on, “critical scientific investigation render it more difficult, if not almost impossible, to achieve with the required speed the judgments that in the past concluded the investigation of such matters.”
In judging a report, the CDF norms direct pastors to take into consideration the character of the people who report them, especially noting their “psychological equilibrium, honesty and rectitude of moral life, sincerity and habitual docility toward ecclesiastical authority, the capacity to return to a normal regimen of a life of faith, etc.” Next, authorities are to ascertain whether the messages promoted in connection with the reported apparitions contain “true theological and spiritual doctrine.” Finally, the Church asks whether the alleged apparitions have borne “abundant and constant spiritual fruit.”
A negative judgment is indicated, the CDF wrote, if the apparitions contain any clear error, especially doctrinal error; if there is evidence that the apparitions may be promoted for the sake of personal profit; if someone involved commits gravely immoral acts; or if there are signs of psychological disorders in those involved.
Bishops should respond to honest inquiries from the faithful, and provide pastoral guidance on reported apparitions, the CDF document says. If there is no clear need for an authoritative judgment, bishops may decide that it is best to withhold a judgment and watch for further developments that could resolve the question.
The 1978 document states that the diocesan bishop should render the authoritative judgment in most cases. The Vatican, through the CDF, could intervene in “more grave cases, especially if the matter affects the larger part of the Church.” In such cases, the document says, the CDF would assess the diocesan bishop’s investigation of the phenomenon, and if necessary open an entirely new investigation.

Maryland gay marriage foes have signatures for referendum

(Reuters) - Opponents of same-sex marriage in Maryland announced on Tuesday they have submitted more than twice the number of signatures needed to put the state's new law allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry before voters in a referendum.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance, a coalition of groups working to preserve the traditional definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, said it has collected more than 113,000 voter signatures.

That figure far exceeded the 56,000 signatures needed to bring the law to a referendum. A third of those had to be submitted by Thursday.

"There are people that are just impassioned about this issue around the state," said the organization's executive director, Derek McCoy, speaking after a press conference announcing the success of the petition drive. "I think what you're seeing is, people don't want a radical redefinition of marriage just on a whim."

McCoy said more than 4,000 people trained to collect signatures campaigned in churches and other venues, and held gatherings in their homes within the last couple of months.

He said support for the referendum grew after President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, as Maryland voters unhappy with this announcement "came off the fence" and decided to sign the petition.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign manager Josh Levin said in a statement that the opponents' announcement comes as no surprise, but added that "it's clear those opposed to marriage equality are losing ground."

A poll conducted recently by the organization found 57 percent of Maryland residents would vote to uphold the law legalizing same-sex unions, and 37 percent would vote against it if the election were held today.

In March, Maryland became the eighth U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage, joining the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and New York. when Governor Martin O'Malley signed the measure into law.

In Washington state, where Governor Christine Gregoire signed a law legalizing same-sex marriage in February, opponents are trying to bring the issue to a voter referendum in November. In New Jersey, similar legislation passed both houses before it was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie.

Mary Ann Glendon appointed to religious freedom commission

(EWTN) — Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon, who served as the former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, has been appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Glendon told EWTN News on May 29 that she was “deeply honored” by the appointment, “particularly at this moment when religious liberty in all its aspects is in special need of defense at home and abroad.”

The appointment, made by U.S. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), was announced on May 23.

A law professor at Harvard University, Glendon has written extensively on political theory, human rights and comparative constitutional law.

She served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See from 2008 to 2009 and has also served as a member of the U.S. President's Council on Bioethics. Glendon is also the president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

In her new role, she will work to call attention to religious liberty violations around the world.

Created in 1998, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom advises the president, State Department and Congress on the status of international religious freedom. Its members are appointed by the U.S. president and Congressional leaders from both political parties.

The commission identifies countries that abuse religious liberty in an annual report and recommends that specific nations which tolerate “particularly severe” violations of religious freedom be designated as “countries of particular concern.”

The work of the independent, bipartisan commission has been hailed as a critical tool in fighting religious freedom violations across the globe. A 2009 study by Pew Research Center found that about 70 percent of the world’s population lives in a country with significant restrictions on religious liberty.

However, despite its significant work, the commission was nearly forced to close its doors late last year when its funding authorization was set to expire.

A political maneuver by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the second most powerful Democrat in the Senate, repeatedly prevented a reauthorization bill from coming to a vote until just hours before the commission was scheduled to go out of existence.

Although Congress was able to reauthorize the commission at the last minute, Durbin amended the final bill to impose travel restrictions on the commissioners and limit their terms. In addition, the budget for the commission was significantly reduced.

Critics argued that these restrictions will decrease the effectiveness of the commission and weaken the message that the U.S. is committed to defending religious freedom around the world.

Religious liberty has also become a heated topic within the U.S., as controversy continues over a federal mandate that will require employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.

The mandate has been criticized by numerous groups and individuals who warn that it threatens their constitutionally-protected freedom of religion.

While Glendon has been an outspoken critic of the mandate and its consequences within the U.S., her new appointment will deal with religious freedom in the international community.

Ambassador Jackie Wolcott, executive director of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, welcomed news of Glendon’s appointment.

“Given her remarkable depth of knowledge, experience, and commitment, I am confident that she will be a great asset to our Commission and its mandate,” she said. 

Wolcott said that Glendon would play an important role in helping to “advance the cherished right of freedom of religion or belief around the world and support its integration into our country’s foreign policy and national security strategy.”

Religious freedom issues at heart of HHS lawsuits, legal scholars say

LEVITTOWN, Pa. (CNS) — The mass media have done the public a disservice by consistently referring to health reform law regulations so narrowly as the "contraceptive mandate," because it leads people to think the regulations are a matter of interest only to Catholics, according to Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon.

Rather, she said, the regulations that would require employers to provide free health insurance coverage for contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilizations are a contravention of religious freedom, "and that's everybody's business."

Legal experts interviewed by Catholic News Service said the lawsuits filed May 21 by 43 Catholic entities in 12 federal district courts, as well as those filed separately by other organizations and concerned individual employers, are based on three principles.

The first is the free exercise clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Helen Alvare, a law professor at George Mason University in the Washington suburb of Arlington, Va., said the Supreme Court has ruled that statutes may breach religious freedom if a law is neutral with regard to religion and of general applicability, that is, applied across the board without exemptions.

But, she said, the Department of Health and Human Services regulations to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act contain numerous exemptions affecting thousands of people -- unions, for example, and grandfathered programs -- and so cannot be considered generally applied.

A second reason cited for the lawsuits is the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law says that if the government is going to place a substantial burden on religious practice, the government must have a compelling interest to do so and must use the least restrictive means available.

The HHS regulations do not meet that test, the scholars agreed.

Finally, enforcing the regulations' narrow definition of religiously exempt entities would, Glendon said, require a searching government inquiry into what is and isn't religious activity, "intruding into religious affairs in an unprecedented way."

To be exempt, the religious employer must meet four criteria, that it "has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose"; primarily employs people "who share its religious tenets"; primarily serves people "who share its religious tenets"; and is a nonprofit organization under specific sections of the Internal Revenue Code. 

Alvare said she thinks the case being made in the lawsuits is really strong but expects that however district courts rule the matter is likely to be appealed to higher courts, unless the Supreme Court rules the whole health Affordable Care Act unconstitutional in a case currently under consideration.

Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, said no California diocese was among those bringing the current batch of lawsuits, but he said that was not a decision the bishops made together nor does it indicate that they disagree with the dioceses bringing suit.

Rather, he noted that the bishops of California went through a similar process in challenging California state law, but the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately declined to hear their appeal.

The California statute, like the proposed HHS regulations has a very narrow religious exemption, for any employer offering insurance for pharmaceuticals. But he said the Catholic dioceses have been protected from it by federal and state laws that allow them to self-insure in a variety of ways.

However, that protection would be lost if the federal law goes into effect with its current regulations.

"We (in California) share the angst (of other U.S. Catholics) over allowing this definition of religious employer to remain" in force, he said, but different bishops are using different strategies.

Richard Garnett, professor of law and associate dean at the University of Notre Dame Law School, said that with respect to the district court suits filed by various Catholic entities, it is entirely possible that there will be different decisions in different jurisdictions.

He said that at least some of the plaintiffs will probably be successful, and in those cases the court may issue an injunction on enforcement of the HHS regulations within the area of the court's jurisdiction.

Garnett also said the Obama administration may just decide to change the regulations.

The Catholic Health Association, which has not joined in any of the lawsuits, told CNS its only statement on the lawsuits could be found in a May 21 blog post by E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post. In it, Michael Rodgers, CHA senior vice president for public affairs and advocacy, was quoted as saying in an interview that the association "was not made aware that lawsuits were being filed now."

Rodgers is quoted as adding that CHA is working with the administration to "broaden the exemption by broadening the definition of what a religious institution is."

Julie Billmeier, who serves in young adult ministry in the Diocese of Dallas -- which is among the groups suing the government over the regulations -- said the definition in the regulations "would completely change our Catholic approach to what it means to serve others."

She sees accessible health care for all as an important social justice issue, but says, "It can't happen at the expense of us being able to live out what we believe."

Also in Dallas Kate Dailey, principal of Bishop Dunne Catholic School, said hers is a very diverse school where some 50 percent of students require financial aid. She sees her ministry at the school, which serves grades six through 12, as "who we are, the heart and soul of who we are" as the Catholic Church, and is appalled that the HHS regulations would not consider it a religiously exempt institution.

But she is optimistic the suits will be successful or the regulations changed, saying, "I don't think it (contraceptive requirement) will happen."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In Memorial Day Tribute, Mitt Romney Warns of Threats Around the Globe

SAN DIEGO (ABC) – Delivering a Memorial Day tribute today, Mitt Romney thanked the sacrifice of servicemen and women while warning of the grave dangers around the globe, remarking frankly that “the world is not safe” before ticking off a list of grave security issues around the globe.

“I wish I could tell you that the world is a safe place today,” said Romney, speaking before a crowd of nearly 5,000 which included servicemen and women in uniform. The sizable crowd is one of the largest Romney has ever drawn. “It’s not. Iran is rushing to become a nuclear nation. As the national sponsor of terror around the world, the thought of missile material in the hands of Hezbollah or Hamas or other terrorists is simply unthinkable. Pakistan is home to some 100 nuclear weapons.”

“China’s on the road to becoming a … military superpower,” Romney continued. “Russia is rebuilding their military and is now led by a man who believes that the Soviet Union was a great, as opposed to evil, empire. Chavez is campaigning for power throughout Latin America. Mexico is under siege from the cartels and in the Middle East the Arab Spring has become an Arab Winter.”

Romney, who never served in the military and received a deferment because he was doing his Mormon missionary work overseas, did not explicitly mention his bid for presidency during his speech but did weave in one of the main pillars of his foreign policy: maintaining the strength of the U.S. military.

“We have two courses we can follow,” said Romney. “One is to follow the pathway of Europe. To shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs. And they of course rely on the strength of America and they hope for the best. Were we to follow that kind of course, there would be no one that could stand to protect us.”

“The other is to commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world,” he said. “We choose that course. We choose that course for America not just so that we can win wars, but so we can prevent wars. Because a strong America is the best deterrent to war that ever has been invented.”

Calling on servicemen in the crowd to stand so they could be recognized by the audience, Romney spoke about sacrifice and heroism.

“Greatness in a people I believe is measured by the extent to which they will give themselves to something bigger than themselves,” said Romney. “To sacrifice for a cause of significance. And when that sacrifice of self, and for purpose and for principle greater than self, surpasses our everyday understanding by the widest margin we call that greatness heroic. We are a nation that has been formed and preserved by heroes. John McCain is one of them.”

The event was held at the Veterans Memorial Day Center Museum in San Diego, where before speaking Romney and Sen. John McCain laid wreaths in honor of the day of remembrance. McCain, who endorsed Romney’s candidacy in January, served in the Navy during the Vietnam war and was held as a prisoner of war. McCain delivered Romney’s introduction here, remarking that Romney is a “great friend, a great man, a great governor” and a man he believes is “fully qualified to be commander in chief.”

A new Gallup poll today shows that U.S. veterans, who make up approximately 13 percent of the adult population, favor Romney over President Obama by 58 percent to 34 percent.

St. Hildegard of Bingen and St. John of Avila to become Doctors of the Church

Egyptian prelate airs concerns about Muslim Brotherhood victory

(Catholic Culture) — The Coptic Catholic bishop of Giza has expressed concerns for the future of Christians in Egypt if the Muslim Brotherhood emerges victorious in the nation’s elections.

“The Muslim Brothers say one thing then tomorrow they do another thing,” said Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina of Guizeh (Giza). “They don’t maintain their promises--that’s the problem.”

“Whoever will guarantee liberty and democracy and a good constitution for Egypt will have our vote,” he added. “He needs to guarantee the minimum of liberties we seek.”

Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, will face former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik in a runoff election on June 16-17.

Vatican says leaks violated conscience of faithful

VATICAN CITY (AP) –  The Vatican on Tuesday sought to put the widening scandal over leaked documents into a very different light, saying the stolen papers didn't just concern matters of internal church governance but represented the thoughts of people who in writing to the pope believed they were essentially speaking before God.

As a result, Pope Benedict XVI feels particularly pained over the leaks and wants to get to the bottom of the scandal to heal the breach and re-establish a sense of trust among the faithful, according to the Vatican's undersecretary of state, Archbishop Angelo Becciu.

"I consider the publication of stolen letters to be an unprecedentedly grave immoral act," Becciu told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. "It's not just that the pope's papers were stolen, but that people who turned to him as the vicar of Christ have had their consciences violated."

The so-called "Vatileaks" scandal has tormented the Vatican for months and represents one of the greatest breaches of trust and security for the pope in recent memory. Benedict's personal butler has been arrested, accused of theft, after documents he had no business having were found in his Vatican City apartment.

Few think the butler acted alone, and the investigation is continuing on three separate tracks.

The butler, Paolo Gabriele, is due to be formally questioned in the coming days by Vatican prosecutors following his May 23 arrest, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. His lawyers reported that he had pledged to fully cooperate with the investigation to get to the truth, raising the specter that higher ranking prelates may soon be implicated.

The motivations for the leaks remain unclear: Some commentators say they appear designed to discredit Benedict's No. 2, the secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Others say they're aimed at undermining the Vatican's efforts to become more financially transparent. Still others say they aim to show the 85-year-old Benedict's weakness in running the church.

Becciu said the pope was particularly pained that someone so close to him had been arrested for behavior that was "unjustifiable under any pretext."

"Certainly, the pope feels pity for him," Becciu said. "But still, what has happened was brutal."

"When a Catholic speaks to the Roman pontiff, it's a duty to open yourself up as if you were before God, also because you feel complete guarantees of confidentiality," he said, trying to describe the significance of the leaks to the Vatican.

Lombardi said the scandal was grave enough that Benedict has established a commission of high-ranking cardinals to investigate alongside the criminal investigation and an internal administrative probe.

The cardinals' commission is headed by a heavyweight: Cardinal Julian Herranz, an Opus Dei prelate who headed the Vatican's legal office as well as the disciplinary commission of the Vatican bureaucracy before retiring.

In addition, the pope's personal bodyguard, Domenico Giani, a former Italian secret service agent, has been on something of a crusade tracking down the origin of the leaks in recent months, Vatican insiders report.

"We aren't afraid of the problems, the difficulties and also the errors and guilt that might come out," Lombardi told reporters Tuesday. "We are trying to do the right thing, following a difficult path of truth and taking the necessary measures to reestablish the trust and good functioning of the governance of the church and its institutions."

He said it certainly was a "difficult test" for the pope and his aides but that he hoped that the problems would be identified so that the Vatican can "enjoy the trust of the people God, which the pope certainly merits and we his collaborators must try to support."

The Vatileaks scandal broke in January when Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi broadcast letters from a former top Vatican administrator who begged the pope not to transfer him for having exposed alleged corruption that cost the Holy See millions of euros (dollars) in higher contract prices. The prelate, Monsignor Carlo Maria Vigano, is now the Vatican's U.S. ambassador.

The scandal widened over the following months with documents leaked to Italian journalists that laid bare power struggles inside the Vatican over its efforts to show greater financial transparency and comply with international norms to fight money laundering. There was even a leak of a memo claiming that Benedict would die this year.

The scandal reached a peak last weekend, when Nuzzi published an entire book based on a trove of new documentation, including personal correspondence to and from the pope and his private secretary, much of which paints Bertone in a negative light.

The Vatican has called the publication a "criminal act" and warned of legal action for those who stole, received and disseminated the documents. Nuzzi, who in 2009 published a book on leaked documents from the Vatican bank, has justified the publication as an act of transparency.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" - May 29, 2012

Talking about the "things that matter most" on May 29

4:00 – Kresta Comments – The Mainstream Media’s Complete Incompetence When Covering the HHS Mandates.

4:20 – Document Leaks, Arrests, and Intrigue at the Vatican
Pope Benedict is “suffering” but serene, despite the prosecution of his butler for stealing sensitive papal documents and the continuing police hunt to find any accomplices. Paolo Gabriele is still in custody after being charged on Saturday with the “aggravated theft” of confidential Vatican documents found in his apartment. The 46-year-old Italian, a father of three, has worked in the Papal Household under both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. He is one of very few individuals who have daily access to the Pope. While the criminal investigation continues, Fr. Lombardi played down speculation in the Italian media that Vatican police are about to swoop in on a wider network of conspirators, of which Gabriele is only a junior member. Vatican watcher Matthew Bunson is here to discuss this story which seems closer to a spy novel than real life.

4:40 – Exposed: Planned Parenthood Encourages Woman to Get Sex-Selection Abortion
The investigative pro-life group Live Action, which has released videos exposing the abuses at the Planned Parenthood abortion business across the country, has released a new video today showing a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Austin, Texas encouraging a woman to get a sex-selection abortion. The video shows a Planned Parenthood staffer encouraging the woman to obtain a late-term abortion because she was purportedly carrying a girl and wanted to have a boy. The video is first in a new series titled “Gendercide: Sex-Selection in America,” that Live Action says will be exposing the practice of sex-selective abortion in the United States and how Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion industry facilitate the selective elimination of baby girls in the womb. We talk to Lila Rose, founder of Live Action.

5:00 – “For Greater Glory”
What would you pay for the price of freedom? In the exhilarating action epic “For Greater Glory,” an impassioned group of men and women each make the decision to risk it all for family, faith and the very future of their country, as the film’s adventure unfolds against the long-hidden, true story of the 1920s Cristero War,¬ the daring people’s revolt that rocked 20th Century North America. Today we celebrate feast of St. Cristóbal Magallanes and Companions, martyrs of the Cristero war and discuss the film with Kathy Schiffer, who represented Ave Maria Radio at the film junket.

5:20 – Kresta Comments – The Mainstream Media’s Complete Incompetence When Covering the HHS Mandates.

5:40 – LOGOS Bible Software: Transform the way you study Scripture
Logos Bible Software lets you study the Scripture and the Tradition on your computer or mobile device. The cutting-edge technology of Logos 4 brings the ancient tradition of the Church to life, fully integrating it with sacred Scripture. Never before has studying the Faith been so rewarding, or so easy! We talk to Andrew Jones, Director of Catholic Products at LOGOS Bible Software

Pope appoints North Dakota bishop to Denver, Maine bishop to Buffalo

Filling a post vacant for over eight months, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, N.D., as the new Archbishop of Denver.

Archbishop-designate Aquila, 61, was announced May 29 as the Denver archdiocese’s new leader by nuncio Archbishop Carlo Vigano, the Pope’s representative to the United States.

Archbishop-designate Aquila succeeds Archbishop Charles Chaput, who led Denver-area Catholics for 14 years and was installed as head of the Philadelphia archdiocese in September 2011.

Bishop James Conley, the archdiocese's apostolic administrator, introduced Archbishop-designate Aquila at a press conference at noon Eastern time.

The new archbishop of Denver was born in 1950, in Burbank, Calif., and was ordained to the priesthood in Denver in 1976. He went on to serve in parishes for 11 years.

In 1987, he began graduate studies at San Anselmo University in Rome, earning a sacramental theology licentiate in 1990.

He served as director for the Office of Liturgy and Master of Ceremonies in the Denver archdiocese from 1990 until 1995. He then served as the first Rector of St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver and chief executive officer of Our Lady of the New Advent Theological Institute. In 2000, he was named a monsignor by Pope John Paul II.

He was ordained as the coadjutor bishop of Fargo in August 2001 and succeeded Bishop James Sullivan as head of the diocese in March 2002.

After having served as Bishop of Fargo for 11 years, he will be installed as leader of the Denver archdiocese on July 18 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Since John Paul II’s historic visit to Denver in 1993 for World Youth Day, the archdiocese has been the launch site for numerous evangelization-oriented ministries.

These include initiatives such as the college campus ministry program FOCUS, the Catholic graduate school the Augustine Institute, and the women’s educational organization ENDOW.

The Denver archdiocese is also home to one of the largest Catholic young adult communities in the country, and its St. John Vianney seminary is known nationwide for its success in attracting vocations.

Also today, Pope Benedict XVI has appointed the Most Rev. Richard J. Malone, bishop of Portland, as the new bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y.. The date of Malone’s installation will be Aug. 10 at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo.

The Diocese of Buffalo has more than 633,000 Catholics, more than three times that of Maine. In the city of Buffalo alone, there are 32 Catholic churches. The diocese has seven Catholic colleges and universities, and 15 Catholic high schools.

Malone, who had been an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Boston, was named in February 2004 by Pope John Paul II to replace Bishop Joseph J. Gerry. A Millinocket native, Gerry submitted his retirement letter to the pope, as required, on his 75th birthday in September 2003. He retired to St. Anselm Abbey in Manchester, N.H., and the life of a Benedictine monk after serving as bishop for 15 years.

Malone was installed as the 11th bishop of the diocese, which makes up the entire state, on March 31, 2004, at a Mass in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.