Roe v. Wade's 'Jane Roe' in pro-life commercial
Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff 'Jane Roe' in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalised abortion in the United States, has appeared in her first-ever television commercial to lament her role in the case.
Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, there have been more than 50 million documented abortions in the US.
In the commercial McCorvey says, 'back in 1973 I was a very confused twenty-one year old with one child and facing an unplanned pregnancy. At the time I fought to obtain a legal abortion, but truth be told, I have three daughters and never had an abortion.'
'Upon knowing God,' she continued, 'I realise that my case, which legalised abortion on demand, was the biggest mistake of my life.
'You read about me in history books, but now I am dedicated to spreading the truth about preserving the dignity of all human life from natural conception to natural death.'
McCorvey is now an active Catholic.
The commercial is produced by Virtue Media, which describes itself as an organisation 'dedicated to producing and airing powerful and life-saving television, radio commercials and educational films.'
Norma McCorvey's commercial is viewable at www.virtuemedia.org/television.htm
Catholic News Agency
Archbishop of Canterbury in gay relations controversy
According to a report in the London Times (7 August 2008), the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, considers that gay sexual relationships can 'reflect the love of God' in a way that is comparable to marriage.
He believes gay partnerships pose the same ethical questions as those between men and women, and the key issue for Christians is that they are faithful and lifelong.
The Times report could reopen bitter divisions over ordaining gay priests, which has already pushed the Anglican Communion towards a split.
Earlier, in his role as Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Williams had recommitted the Anglican Communion to its position that homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture at the recent Lambeth Conference, which closed on 3 August.
However, in an exchange of letters with an evangelical Christian, written eight years ago when he was Archbishop of Wales, Dr Williams explained his belief that biblical passages criticising homosexual sex were not aimed at people who were gay by nature arguing that scriptural prohibitions were addressed to heterosexuals looking for sexual variety.
He wrote: 'I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness.'
Dr Williams described his view as his 'definitive conclusion' reached after 20 years of study and prayer. However, he drew a distinction between his own beliefs as a theologian and his position as a church leader, for which he had to take account of the traditionalist view.
In his 1989 essay The Body's Grace, Dr Williams argued that the Anglican Church's acceptance of contraception meant that it acknowledged the validity of non-procreative sex. This could be taken as a green light for gay sex.
Asked to comment, Lambeth Palace quoted a recent interview in which the Archbishop said: 'When I teach as a bishop I teach what the Church teaches. In controverted areas it is my responsibility to teach what the Church has said and why.'
Same-sex marriage a threat to religious freedom
Matt Daniels, Founder and President of the US-based Alliance for Marriage, has warned that the legal recognition of same-sex marriages further threatens civil liberties and religious freedoms, some of which have already been affected by anti-discrimination laws protecting sexual orientation.
Daniels noted that a recent National Public Radio (NPR) story listed incidents in which liberties have already been curtailed by laws favouring homosexual rights over the rights of people with ethical and religious objections to the normalisation of homosexuality.
In one case Catholic Charities in Massachusetts had been forced to shut down its adoption program because it refused to place children with same-sex couples as required by state law.
In another, the Jewish Yeshiva University in New York City banned same-sex couples from its married student dormitory due to its religious principles. But New York's highest court invalidated the school regulations as a form of unlawful discrimination.
In California a gynaecologist refused to perform an in-vitro fertilisation treatment on a lesbian woman due to his religious beliefs. Though the doctor referred the woman to another physician, the doctor is being sued and is likely to lose.
A photographer in New Mexico was fined $6,600 by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission for refusing to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony.
'For the first time in our history, America is faced with a powerful movement that defines its alleged 'rights' in terms of the deprivation of the fundamental rights of others,' Matt Daniels said. 'As a result, this movement is depriving other Americans of civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, including: freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of religion.'
Catholic News Agency
Abstinence key to India's new AIDS program
The National AIDS Control Organization - India's federal HIV/AIDS monitoring agency - has unveiled a new AIDS-awareness curriculum that will focus on abstinence instead of condoms and 'safe sex' strategies.
'There will be no mention of condom or safe sex in the revised module on life-skill education program,' Sujatha Rao, NACO director- general, said at the release of the new program, which is being circulated for feedback from government officials, parents and teachers.
The new curriculum for spreading awareness on HIV/AIDS among school students and youth comes after sex-education manuals in several states - drafted by the state AIDS-control societies - were wide- ly criticised as encouraging promiscuity among young people by advocating the condom as a safeguard against AIDS.
Catholic World News
Survey on US religious beliefs and attitudes
The results of a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life have been recently published. The survey was conducted between May and August 2007 and is based on answers from more than 35,000 American adults.
The survey reveals a range of data, including adherence to religious tradition and the link between frequency of worship and political views. It shows that a vast majority of Americans, nearly 92 percent, believe in God or a universal spirit.
The survey also found that 74 percent of Americans believe in heaven and 59 percent in hell and 63 percent believe Scripture is the word of God.
Some 40 percent see a conflict between modern society and religion, with 42 percent saying Hollywood threatens their values.
Nevertheless, most Americans have a non-dogmatic approach to faith and a majority of those affiliated with a religious tradition agree that there is more than one way to interpret the teaching of their faith.
Many self-described American Catholics said they ignored Church teachings on both theological and social issues.
Younger Catholics are less likely to remain active in the Church, while Hispanic immigrants are replacing many of the 'cradle Catholics' who no longer practise the faith. There is widespread dissent from Church teaching and a massive exodus from the Church, with roughly one-third of those raised Catholic leaving the church, and approximately one-in-ten American adults now former Catholics.
The Pew Forum found that 48 percent of Catholic respondents favour legal abortion (16 percent in all cases, 32 percent in most cases), while only 18 percent agree that abortion should always be illegal. 58 percent said that society should accept homosexuality.
On theological issues, only 16 percent of American Catholics believe that the Church is the one true means of salvation.
Zenit News Service
South Dakota's landmark abortion law
On 18 July, a law mandating that South Dakota's physicians tell all women seeking an abortion that they are 'terminating the life of a whole separate, unique living human being' went into effect.
Though the state law was passed in 2005, Planned Parenthood successfully challenged the legislation in the courts, causing a preliminary injunction to be established that prevented the law from being put into effect.
That injunction, however, expired on 18 July, and now all physicians performing abortions at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls - the state's only acknowledged abortuary - must present the client with the specific language as it has been formulated by law. A woman must certify in writing that she understands no earlier than two hours before the procedure is conducted.
The law also mandates that a woman who seeks an abortion must be told that she is willingly putting herself at a higher risk of suicide and depression and that in choosing to end the life of her child she is terminating an 'existing relationship' that is protected by the US constitution and that her 'existing constitutional rights with regards to that relationship will be terminated.'
Another related law took effect on 1 July, requiring doctors in South Dakota to ask a woman seeking an abortion if she wants to see a sonogram of her baby.
Although 32 states have informed consent regulations, South Dakota is the only state that includes the reference to an unborn baby as 'a whole, separate, unique living human being.'
President Bush: religious freedom in China
On 10 August in Beijing, President Bush attended the Beijing Kuanjie Protestant Christian Church. After the government-established church service, Mr Bush gently encouraged the Chinese government to consider granting religious freedom to its citizens, telling them not to fear Christianity.
The president said that he and his wife had experienced 'great joy and privilege of worshiping here in Beijing, China', and that the service showed 'God is universal, and God is love, and no state, man or woman should fear the influence of loving religion.'
He also thanked the pastor and the choir for the warm welcome he and the first lady received. 'I want to thank the pastor for his hospitality, and I want to thank this beautiful choir for singing Amazing Grace and Edelweiss. It was a touching moment. It has been a joy to worship here ... God bless you.'
According to China Aid Association Inc, the church's regular parishioners were not allowed to attend the Sunday service with President Bush. The organisation claims that high-ranking officials from the Public Security Bureau, the Bureau of Security, the Bureau of Religion and TSPM/ China Christian Council met to ensure that only security people, political workers and people trained to pose as Christians attended the service.
One man who was baptised two decades ago in the Protestant church lamented, 'Whether you are a believer or not, no one is allowed to enter the church. When President Bush comes tomorrow, where can we do our Sunday service?'
The organisation also reported that the Chinese government agencies went so far as to arrest two men while riding their bikes on the way to the service.
The men, who claimed that they had the right to attend the service and see President Bush, are affiliated with an underground Christian church and have been under the close eye of the government in the time leading up to the Olympics.
Catholic News Agency