Yesterday, supporters of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul released a reprehensible ad attacking fellow presidential candidate Jon Huntsman for adopting children from India and China.
Parents who choose to adopt provide their children with opportunities they would not otherwise have had. I know: both my wife and I are adopted. Our birthmothers made the selfless decision to give us up for adoption in order to provide us with better lives.
My wife and I each benefited from the adoption system – and we were exceedingly lucky to be born in this country. Without the American adoption system, it is very possible our birthmothers would have been forced to make a different choice – and we would not have been born.
Thankfully in America, adoption is a healthy, viable option for women who are unable to keep their children. In our nation, women who have unplanned pregnancies know that there are agencies that will help them every step of the way. Gracie and Asha Huntsman’s birthmothers did not have this luxury; Gracie was abandoned at a market at two months of age, while Asha was left to die on a roadside in India the day she was born. It was the Huntsmans who gave these beautiful girls a second chance at life.
By condemning adoption, the values that Paul supporters have called into question are not just Jon Huntman’s values, they are America’s values: helping the poor and needy, standing for social justice, and providing children with a home filled with security, opportunities and love.
In attacking Governor Huntsman and his wife for adopting children from China and India, Ron Paul’s supporters have ridiculed the international adoption system, called into question the patriotism of any family that has adopted children from abroad, and politicized one of the most intimate and selfless decisions a family can make.
It is our sincere hope that at this evening’s debate in New Hampshire Congressman Paul will disavow the ad and apologize to Governor Huntsman, his wife, and adoptees and their families everywhere for such an insensitive, myopic message promoted by his supporters.
VATICAN CITY, 7 DEC 2011 (VIS) – Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Holy See’s secretary for Relations with States, addressed the Eighteenth Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) held this 6-7 December in Vilnius, Lithuania.
In his address, the archbishop discussed, among other themes, the topic of migration, which for the Holy See constitutes an argument of constant interest, above all in the actual circumstances of economic and financial crisis. Msgr. Mamberti noted that there is a growing consensus in the international community on the necessity of paying greater attention to migrants. In this context he emphasized that it is necessary to support migrants reunification with their families since “the family plays a fundamental role in the integration process, in giving stability to the presence of the immigrants in the new social environment … Migrants, aware of their rights, can be more secure in offering their services and talents and the receiving community, well-informed and respectful of these rights, will feel freer in extending its solidarity in order to build together a common future”.
The Secretary for Relations with States also addressed the Organization’s commitments in defence of fundamental freedoms and human rights, one of which is the right to freedom of religion. “The right to religious freedom, despite being repeatedly proclaimed by the international community, as well as in the constitutions of most States, continues to be widely violated today”. Pope Benedict XVI himself recalled, in his message from this year’s World Day of Peace, that Christians “are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith”. According to Archbishop Mamberti, “there may be more than two hundred million Christians, of different confessions, who are in difficulty because of legal and cultural structures that lead to their discrimination”. For this reason, he proposed the institution of an International Day against persecution and discrimination of Christians as “an important sign that governments are willing to deal with this serious issue”.
Against Trafficking in Human Beings
The archbishop also addressed the problem of trafficking in human beings, especially of women and minors, for sexual exploitation as well as for labor exploitation and domestic servitude, which has become a “powerful global business involving many countries of origin, transit, and destination. To counteract the scourge of trafficking in human beings with greater determination and more concrete results, a convergence of efforts is necessary: a mentality that is centered on the unique dignity of every person, a sure punishment of traffickers, the fight against corruption, … and the fairness of mass media in reporting the damages created by trafficking”.
VATICAN CITY, 4 NOV 2011 (VIS) – The Special Council for America of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops celebrated its sixteenth meeting from 27 to 28 October. According to a note published today, the meeting reflected upon such themes as the new evangelisation, inter-religious dialogue and the situation of the Church and society in various parts of the continent, in the light of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in America”.
“‘Ecclesia in America’ reformulates for the continent of America the criteria used to evaluate non-Christian religions, as expressed by Vatican Council II Declaration ‘Nostra Aetate'”, the note reads. According to those criteria “the Catholic Church, while affirming the specific originality of Christianity, does not reject anything that is true and holy in non-Christian religions”.
“In the field of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, there is sometimes a certain level of interference by States which, while proclaiming themselves as secular, to all intents and purposes tend to consider the Catholic Church as just one among many other religious denominations. In this way they ignore her true nature and the incontestable historical role she played in the first evangelisation of the continent, and in the formation of the identity of individual nations. This strategy followed by the civil authorities means that ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue comes to be replaced by the generic concept of ‘inter-religious relations’. Thus, not only are all religions considered as spiritual phenomena of equal status, but there is a tendency to see religion as a tool at the service of political life. Nonetheless, the Church in America is determined to continue her ecumenical and inter-religious activities, following the pastoral guidelines laid down by Vatican Council II and subsequent Magisterium”.
The note also highlights the good relations that exist with other Christian confessions, and with non-Christians, especially Jews and Muslims. On the subject of the indigenous religions which existed before the arrival of Christianity, the note explains how “the Catholic Church seeks to discover elements which are compatible with the Gospel, to purify them and integrate them appropriately into the life of local ecclesial communities”. The sects, however, represent “the true challenge for the Church in the process of new evangelisation”, because, “through energetic proselytisation they spread rapidly in the big cities and wherever the Church’s presence is weak”.
Poverty, violence and the spread of values that fail to respect human life remain a concern. They are seen as being “the negative outcome of the process of secularisation which is extending from north to south”. The effects of the earthquake in Haiti still persist, made worse by illness and difficult social conditions. It is to be hoped that concrete solidarity will be forthcoming from governments, international institutions and Church organisations.
Another phenomenon of vast proportions which affects the entire continent is migration. “In this field”, the note explains, “the Church is involved in promoting social programmes and religious assistance to migrants, with the aim of favouring cultural integration and social peace. Although it is true that illegal migrants face serious difficulties, there are positive aspects to the phenomenon of migration, which can favour greater integration among different peoples and the unity of the continent”.
The note expresses satisfaction at the increased number of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life among men, but highlights that in some areas female religious life is diminishing. However, “there is great readiness to welcome the faith on the part of the new generations”.
The note concludes by referring to the positive results of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, which took place in the Brazilian city of Aparecida in 2007, “raising awareness that the entire Church on the continent must be in a state of mission”. It also mentions the positive reception accorded to the “Lineamenta” of the Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is due to be held in the Vatican in October 2012 on the theme: “The new evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith”.
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
You may have heard or read news accounts this week about a complaint filed with D.C.’s Office of Human Rights regarding our Muslim students. The complaint has been filed by John Banzhaf, a professor at a neighboring university who has no affiliation with us. In a press release he issued October 19, Mr. Banzhaf claimed that Catholic University has “illegally discriminated” against Muslim students. That charge is completely without foundation. Worse, Banzhaf has created the perception that it is our Muslim students themselves who are offended by the symbols of Catholicism on our campus, and that they object to the absence of worship space set aside specifically for them.
The fact is that no Muslim student at Catholic University has registered a complaint with the University about the exercise of their religion on campus. And today we learned from an article in the Washington Post that Mr. Banzhaf himself has not received any complaints from our Muslim students. Instead, according to today’s Washington Post, he based his complaint on an article that appeared in that newspaper in December 2010. Contrary to the impression Mr. Banzhaf would like to create, the December 2010 Post article spoke in overwhelmingly positive terms about the experience of Muslim students at Catholic University, and explained why they are attracted to us. A considerable part of the attraction stems from the fact that our community, because of its own outward expressions of Catholic faith, makes them feel comfortable living their faith among us. The evidence bears this out. Since 2007 our Muslim enrollment has more than doubled, from 56 to 122.
I want to reassure all of you that our Muslim students are welcome at our University. Our Catholic teaching instructs us to embrace our fellow human beings of all faith traditions. They enrich us with their presence and help to promote inter-religious and inter-cultural understanding. I regret very much that our Muslim students have been used as pawns in a manufactured controversy. I urge all of you continue to show one another the respect and goodwill that are the hallmarks of The Catholic University of America.
From the genius of John Cole…
VATICAN CITY, 20 OCT 2011 (VIS) – Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, has written a message to Hindus for the feast of Deepavali. The message, which also bears the signature of Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, secretary of the pontifical council, is entitled: “Christians and Hindus: together in Promoting Religious Freedom”. Deepvali celebrates the victory of truth over falsehood, of light over darkness, of life over death, of good over evil. The celebrations, which being this year on 26 October, last three days and mark the beginning of a new year, a time for family reconciliation, especially among brothers and sisters, and adoration of the divine.
Religious freedom, the text reads, currently takes “centre stage in many places, calling our attention to those members of our human family exposed to bias, prejudice, hate propaganda, discrimination and persecution on the basis of religious affiliation. Religious freedom is the answer to religiously motivated conflicts in many parts of the world. Amid the violence triggered by these conflicts, many desperately yearn for peaceful coexistence and integral human development”.
The Message continues: “Religious freedom is numbered among the fundamental human rights rooted in the dignity of the human person. When it is jeopardised or denied, all other human rights are endangered. Religious freedom necessarily includes immunity from coercion by any individual, group, community or institution. Though the exercise of this right entails the freedom of every person to profess, practise and propagate his or her religion or belief, in public or in private, alone or in a community, it also involves a serious obligation on the part of civil authorities, individuals and groups to respect the freedom of others. Moreover, it includes the freedom to change one’s own religion”.
VATICAN CITY, 12 OCT 2011 (VIS) – “I am profoundly saddened by the episodes of violence that took place in Cairo last Sunday”, said the Pope today following his customary language greetings at the end of his Wednesday general audience.
“I share the suffering of the families of the victims and of all the Egyptian people, lacerated by attempts to undermine peaceful coexistence among their communities, a coexistence which it is vital to safeguard, especially in this moment of transition”, the Holy Father went on. “I exhort the faithful to pray that that society might enjoy true peace, based on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of all citizens.
“I support the efforts made by the civil and religious authorities in Egypt to foster a society in which everyone’s human rights are respected, in particular those of minorities, for the benefit of national unity”.