Archbishop says Democrats becoming ‘party of death’

This will set off some fireworks:

ROME (CNS) — The Democratic Party in the United States “risks transforming itself definitively into a ‘party of death,’” said U.S. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, prefect of the Vatican’s highest court.

(full story)

Presidential candidates and Catholic Digest

Two days ago we posted an entry on the major parties’ presidential candidates responding to an e-mail interview in the October issue of the U.S. Catholic magazine. It turns out Catholic Digest’s October election issue also contains interviews – conducted by phone and e-mail – of the two candidates.

Republican Sen. John McCain told the magazine’s contributing writer Kerry Weber that faith played a significant role in his life long before he entered politics. He also said he prays for “guidance and to do the right thing.” Democratic Sen. Barack Obama told the magazine’s managing editor Julie Rattey that prayer strengthens him and guides him through the day. He also said a president shouldn’t “shy away from applying principles that are important” to the work that needs to be done.

The candidates also spoke about the economy, parenthood, the troops in Iraq and whether a good president can change his mind on a given issue.

The election issue of Catholic Digest, published by the Bayard Magazine Group in New London, Conn., also contains a voting guide, a discussion of Catholics’ duty to vote by San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer and a link to a webcast about the Catholic perspective on election issues by Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn.

Canada votes in October, and they’re watching us, too

Did you know that the United States is not the only major North American country having national elections this fall? Canada is, too, and they have many of the same debates we do here over things like how Catholic politicians should vote on the important social justice and life issues of the day. We had a story yesterday (which you can read here) giving a glimpse of how that debate plays out in Canada, where elections will take place Oct. 14.

And where the American bishops have issued a call for “Faithful Citizenship” for U.S. Catholic voters, the Canadian bishops have similar advice for their Catholic citizens in a new “Federal Election 2008 Guide.”

But just because we Americans are largely ignoring the Canadian elections (quick: name for me two of the major Canadian political parties) doesn’t mean that the Canadians are ignoring us. Our good friend Joe Sinasac, publisher and editor of The Catholic Register in Toronto, wrote this yesterday:

We know Canadians love hearing about the American election. Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are just way more interesting than our blancmange politicians up here.

(Note to self: look up “blancmange” on the Internet.)

Joe’s point to his Canadian readers was to plug our new CNS Election 2008 page as a way of getting “a truly Catholic perspective on the U.S. campaign.” Nice guy that he is, he said that CNS had “compiled a truly impressive Web site for its election articles.”

So it’s only fair that we plug his paper’s “Election Canada ’08″ page, too. If you’re the least bit curious about how the church in other countries, in the words of the The Catholic Register, “views the duty of Catholic voters and politicians,” make sure you spend some time there.

Presidential candidates respond to U.S. Catholic

U.S. Catholic, the Chicago-based magazine published by the Claretians, has put out a special election issue for October featuring an interview with the major parties’ presidential candidates based on questions submitted to each of them by e-mail.

The questions answered by Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama cover a wide range of topics such as abortion, stem-cell research, the death penalty, economy, the environment, health care and immigration. Claretian Father John Molyneux, the magazine’s editor, said he was pleased the candidates took the time to address concerns of Catholic voters. He also said the interview with presidential candidates is a first for the 73-year-old magazine.

“The Catholic Church’s positions don’t fit neatly with either of the two parties,” the priest said in a statement. “Our strong commitment to respect for life is complemented by an equally proud tradition of Catholic social teaching which promotes social justice, a preferential option of the poor, the common good, and peace.”

USCCB responds to Biden

It’s not yet up on the conference’s Web site as of this writing, but the following release was just issued by the USCCB. We’ll have a story in the morning.

(UPDATED Sept. 10):

WASHINGTON-Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the  U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman, U.S. Bishops Committee on Doctrine, issued the following statement:

Recently we had a duty to clarify the Catholic Church’s constant teaching against abortion, to correct misrepresentations of that teaching by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on “Meet the Press” (see www.usccb.org/prolife/whatsnew.shtml).   On September 7, again on “Meet the Press,” Senator Joseph Biden made some statements about that teaching that also deserve a response.

Senator Biden did not claim that Catholic teaching allows or has ever allowed abortion.  He said rightly that human life begins “at the moment of conception,” and that Catholics and others who recognize this should not be required by others to pay for abortions with their taxes.

However, the Senator’s claim that the beginning of human life is a “personal and private” matter of religious faith, one which cannot be “imposed” on others, does not reflect the truth of the matter.  The Church recognizes that the obligation to protect unborn human life rests on the answer to two questions, neither of which is private or specifically religious.

The first is a biological question: When does a new human life begin?  When is there a new living organism of the human species, distinct from mother and father and ready to develop and mature if given a nurturing environment?  While ancient thinkers had little verifiable knowledge to help them answer this question, today embryology textbooks confirm that a new human life begins at conception (see www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/fact298.shtml).  The Catholic Church does not teach this as a matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact.

The second is a moral question, with legal and political consequences: Which living members of the human species should be seen as having fundamental human rights, such as a right not to be killed?  The Catholic Church’s answer is: Everybody.  No human being should be treated as lacking human rights, and we have no business dividing humanity into those who are valuable enough to warrant protection and those who are not.  This is not solely a Catholic teaching, but a principle of natural law accessible to all people of good will.  The framers of the Declaration of Independence pointed to the same basic truth by speaking of inalienable rights, bestowed on all members of the human race not by any human power, but by their Creator.  Those who hold a narrower and more exclusionary view have the burden of explaining why we should divide humanity into those who have moral value and those who do not and why their particular choice of where to draw that line can be sustained in a pluralistic society.  Such views pose a serious threat to the dignity and rights of other poor and vulnerable members of the human family who need and deserve our respect and protection.

While in past centuries biological knowledge was often inaccurate, modern science leaves no excuse for anyone to deny the humanity of the unborn child.  Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice.

Most-viewed CNS stories for August

Who says August is a dead month for news? Here’s the list of our most popular stories for August from our main Web site, catholicnews.com, with links in case you missed any of them. You’ll see that political issues dominated the bottom half of this most-viewed list, while No. 3 through No. 6 and No. 10 attest to the popularity of Pope Benedict XVI.

1. No ‘Yahweh’ in songs, prayers at Catholic Masses, Vatican rules (Aug. 12).

2. Priest to meet Maryknoll leaders over role in Womenpriests’ ceremony (Aug. 14).

3. Heaven is God, not an imaginary place, Pope Benedict says (Aug. 15).

4. Pope approves beatification of St. Therese’s parents in Lisieux (Aug. 19).

5. Pope says his most important task is to pray for church, world (Aug. 13).

6. Ten texts help crack pope’s pontificate, mission, ministry (May 30).

7. Biden on Obama ticket: a Catholic with mixed record on church issues (Aug. 23).

8. Delaware bishops have been low-key with Biden’s church involvement (Aug. 27).

9. Bishops say Pelosi misrepresented abortion teaching in TV interview (Aug. 27).

10. Pope urges church to help overcome racism in modern society (Aug. 18).

Bishops issue fact sheet on abortion teaching

Following up on last week’s controversy over comments by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on church teaching on abortion, the U.S. bishops’ conference yesterday issued a “fact sheet” on the history of that teaching. You can view the press release from the conference here and the fact sheet, called “Respect for Unborn Human Life: The Church’s Constant Teaching,” here. Especially in an election year, questions on this topic are not likely to go away.

Sarah Palin’s pro-life credentials

Now that it looks like we’re going to be hearing a lot about Sarah Palin, here are two items from the CNS news archive: a story on how she was praised by Catholic leaders and others when she gave birth to a Down syndrome child earlier this year, and a guest editorial we ran from the Catholic Anchor, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, on how her family “serves as an incredible witness by embracing all life as a blessing.”

We also had a great article last spring by Effie Caldarola, one of our regular columnists, calling Palin “a politician who lives her truth.”

Bishops say Pelosi misrepresents church teaching on abortion

The following was released tonight by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:

WASHINGTON–Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, have issued the following statement:

In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.

In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (No. 2271)

In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.

These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church teaches that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.

We’ll have a story in the morning for our client editors and on our home page, catholicnews.com.

UPDATE: Bishops say Pelosi misrepresented abortion teaching in TV interview

A useful tool for judging health reform plans

Our Campaign ’08 series kicked off today with an article on how the presidential candidates’ plans for health care compare to the bishops’ “Faithful Citizenship” document and the Catholic Health Association’s “Vision for U.S. Health Care.” But for those who would like to judge for themselves how a particular health reform proposal measures up — whether it comes from a member of Congress, a nonprofit organization or a candidate for office — CHA offers a useful “health reform study tool.” Try it out yourself here.

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