Catholic Essentials

Nation

It is considered progress by the those who consider human life sacred that fifty-five senators believe infanticide is unacceptable even though the child’s head is yet to be delivered, while forty-four think it is. It appears the question of when life begins has become irrelevant, but it is certain that it stops when surgical scissors are jammed into the child’s skull and its brains are sucked out. This has been the subject of hot and heavy debate by our nation’s leaders in recent months over the so-called partial birth abortion bill. As common sense and decency begin to creep into the House and Senate, President Clinton has promised to veto any bill banning the barbaric procedure. Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law, chairman of the U.S. Bishop’s Pro-Life Committee, said in a statement urging Clinton not to veto the bill, “What is astonishing is that forty-four senators are still willing to defend this grotesque late-term procedure that cannot clearly be distinguished from infanticide.” Bishop Anthony Pilla, NCCB president, said a veto would be “a profound moral mistake.”

The U.S.-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty cosponsored a conference with the Pontifical Council for Culture marking the thirtieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s document on religious freedom. At the Rome conference, Kevin J. Hasson, president of the Becket Fund, referring to a social environment where increasing pressure is placed on people not to wear or display religious symbols at work, and nativity scenes are banned from public places, said, “[Religion] becomes something which pornography used to be: You can do it only in private, in your own home.” Speaking at the same conference, Professor Mary Ann Glendon saw as the deeper threat “the steady drumbeat of secular proselytizing that characterizes the atmosphere in many public schools,” and the school prayer cases as merely a distraction from this deeper problem.

The Observer of Boston College has resurfaced at Boston College after a few years’ absence. The “O,” as it is affectionately called, which made headlines in 1989 for uncovering alleged covert abortion and birth control referrals out of the university health services, is the flagship of student publications attempting to reintroduce Catholicism to Jesuit education. Subscriptions can be obtained by sending $35.00 to the Observer of Boston College; Box L-132; Boston College; Chestnut Hill, MA 02167.

World

The Bavarian parliament closed its 1995 legislative year by passing a law that “a cross is to be put up in every classroom” of the heavily Catholic state’s public schools. The new law goes further than a law challenged in August by the Bavarian Supreme court as unconstitutional. The new law states that crosses must be placed in classrooms, whereas the old law stated the right to guarantee the state’s Christian heritage by doing so. Those opposing the new law plan a Supreme Court challenge in 1996. The Christian Social Union Party which proposed the bill, criticized a milder approach from the Social Democratic Party as overprotective of minority interests while overlooking the will of the majority.

Vatican

A document issued December 20 by the Pontifical Council for the Family states that it is parents’ responsibility to see that their children are protected for erroneous views on abortion, contraception, premarital sex, homosexuality, and masturbation in today’s “sick society.” The sixty-five page document, Human Sexuality: Truth and Meaning, should come as a breath of fresh air to parents for the common sense it introduces into a turbulent public debate. Traditional wisdom focusing on sensitivity to the child and his or her stage of development is stressed rather than oversensitivity to the politically correct sexual agendas of special interest groups. It also calls parents to be extremely vigilant over school-based and other sexed programs featuring the presentation of erotic materials, dramatic presentations of an erotic or genital nature, requests for personal or family information, and graphic teachings on “genital relations” as part of “safe sex” programs against AIDS to small children.

Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe, secretary for the Vatican Congregation for Clergy says the number of requests for readmission to active ministry from priests who left the priesthood to marry in civil ceremonies, but are now widowed or divorced is growing. The process first requires a letter from the individual stating he has thought about his decision and repented. Accepting these men who were never laicized does not denigrate marriage, according to Sepe, but rather the Church sees them as men who underwent a crisis. A letter from the priest’s bishop and new bishop is also required as well as a written declaration from the woman in question, who must have voluntarily accepted a civil divorce. While the Church does not recognize civil marriage, Sepe said, “there may be civil implications which can only be overcome with a civil divorce.”

By

John Mallon is the director of public relations for Human Life International and a contributing editor for Inside the Vatican magazine. Visit his Web site at http://johnmallon.net.

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