Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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International life and family roundup

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Another homosexual accepted for parish council seat in Austria

VIENNA – Immediately following the resignation of the parish priest in the town of Stützenhofen after he opposed the election of an active homosexual to his parish council, another homosexual has been confirmed to sit on a Catholic parish council in Austria according to the Standard newspaper. Forty-four year-old Mark Casna, who has lived openly with another man since he was 19, has been accepted for a third term with the approval of the parish priest, Fr. Michael Blassnigg, who told media that he has “no problem with it.”

Casna told the Standard that the Dean of the parish had encouraged him to join. “He knew then that I was in a homosexual relationship,” Casna said.

Casna also commented on his beliefs, saying, “Confession was invented in the Middle Ages, and celibacy is an invention also of the Roman Catholic Church.” He added that he approved of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative that has called for open disobedience on clerical celibacy and female ordination, saying that it is “on track” and that he is confident that the “breakthrough” will succeed.

Kaprun is a village of 3000 a hundred kilometers southwest of Salzburg.


Catholic former Tory MP blasts Cameron plan on ‘gay marriage’

LONDON – Anne Widdecombe, the outspoken novelist, Privy Councilor and former Tory Cabinet Minister, said the Cameron government is “determined to press ahead with the removal of the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ in its wholly superfluous introduction of gay marriage.”

She encouraged the public to speak out against the plans and told them to sign the petition, that now has over 420,000 signatures, launched by the Coalition for Marriage. Writing in the Daily Express, http://www.express.co.uk/ourcomments/view/313814 , Widdecombe said, “I did not campaign for David Cameron all day, every day in the last general election in the expectation that my reward would be a massive increase in state intrusion and the destruction of traditional marriage.”

She accused the government of ignoring the will of the people, saying, “The government will listen only when it approves of the response and if it doesn’t then its citizens can shut up and stop pestering.

“Well don’t shut up, go to www.c4m.org.uk and sign up.”

This week, the normally supportive Times of London accused Cameron of changing the definition of marriage in order to pander to the homosexualist movement. Saying the move was “pure politics,” the Sunday Times agreed with homosexual Tory MP Ben Bradshaw who said that it would not do anything to improve rights for gays.

The editorial in last Sunday’s edition said, “The government would like you to believe it is a modern, with-it coalition facing opposition from a church stuck somewhere in the Dark Ages.

“Mr. Cameron is pushing gay marriage and picking a fight with the church for political reasons. It is indeed unnecessary.”


Australian Labour Party forms pro-life caucus

CANBERRA – The Australian Labour Party has been the governing party of the country since 2007 and its leader, Julia Gillard, is regarded by international pro-life observers to be one of the most enthusiastically pro-abortion world leaders. Nevertheless, there remains a socially conservative “rump” in the party that earlier this year took the step of forming an active pro-life party caucus to oppose further liberalization of abortion laws.

The group is headed by Simone McDonnell, a former federal Labor candidate in South Australia, who said, “It’s really important that we support a diverse range of views, particularly on moral issues.”

The group lists 29 sympathetic MPs, including Tony Burke, the Minister for Sustainability and Environment, and among the group’s supporters are Tasmanian Senator Helen Polley, who opposed the push to support “gay marriage” at the party’s national conference. The group will work to nurture pro-life candidates to oppose abortion and euthanasia.


Catholic bishops of Sri Lanka oppose plans for legalizing eugenic abortion

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – The Catholic bishops conference of Sri Lanka has asked the government to reconsider the notion of relaxing the country’s abortion laws. The Cardinal Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Ranjith, told a press conference that every life is considered a gift of the God, adding that depriving the right to live is a violation of the teachings of all religions and is inconsistent with Sri Lanka’s culture.

Human life, he said, begins at the moment of conception, and it is the duty of all to protect it. He decried the practice of abortion for disabled children, saying that all people have gifts to offer, and particularly opposed the notion that abortion can be justifiable in cases of rape or incest, saying that the child should not be punished for the crimes of the father. 

The cardinal criticized the international organizations that are pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world.

The government of Sri Lanka is considering relaxing the law against abortion in cases of disability, calling such children “defective.”  Currently, abortion is allowed only in cases where the mother’s life is threatened.

The cardinal warned that the usual progression of the work of the international abortion lobby is to start with the relaxation and liberalization of abortion restrictions, and then move on to total legalization.


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African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

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By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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