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THURSDAY      November 5, 1998      SECTION TWO       vol 9, no. 217

To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION ONE

NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant

provided by Catholic World News Service



      DETROIT ( - Michigan voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to legalize assisted suicide, even as they rejected the gubernatorial bid of assisted suicide activist Jack Kevorkian's lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger.

      The Proposal B measure to legalize assisted suicide in the state was defeated 71 percent to 29 percent, while incumbent GOP Gov. John Engler defeated Fieger 62 percent to 35 percent in unofficial results. Opposition to Proposal B was led by a coalition of religious groups including the Catholic Conference of Michigan which lent support including more than $2 million.

      Meanwhile, voters in Washington and Colorado narrowly defeated ballot questions that would have banned partial-birth abortions, although Colorado voters approved a proposal to require abortionists to notify parents when a minor seeks an abortion. In Alaska and Hawaii, voters approved measures that would lead to a ban on same-sex marriages. The Hawaii proposal allows the legislature to pass a ban after the state Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages must be allowed unless the state provided compelling reasons to ban them.


      VATICAN ( -- The Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, Aharon Lopez, yesterday suggested that the Catholic Church should shelve plans to pursue the cause for beatification of Pope Pius XII, because of the controversy that cause might provoke. Father Peter Gumpel, the postulator for the cause of Pius XII, quickly responded that the Israeli diplomat's remarks were "imprudent, at the least."

      While recognizing that beatification and canonization are "absolute prerogatives of the Church," and that "no one should intervene" in the process, Lopez went on to say that the papacy of Pius XII had given rise to many disputes, specifically involving his role in opposing the Nazi plans to exterminate Jews. Out of respect for the survivors of the Holocaust, he continued, the Church should postpone any plans for beatification for at least 50 years. He also renewed calls by the Israeli government for an opening of the Vatican archives covering that era-- although the Holy See has repeatedly explained that such archives always remain closed for several decades after the events they cover.

      Father Gumpel, in his response to the Lopez remarks, observed that Lopez "can say anything he wants." But the process of beatification has nothing to do with politics or diplomacy, he pointed out, and therefore it is beyond the ambassador's competence. Father Ciro Benedettini, the deputy director of the Vatican press office, also pointed out that the beatification process is conducted along previously established lines, and will not be sidetracked.

      Father Gumpel also pointed out that the documents collected for the beatification proceedings show that during the years of his papacy, Pope Pius XII was recognized by Jewish leaders and Israeli government officials for his efforts to save Jewish lives, and many Israeli leaders-- most notably former Prime Minister Golda Meir-- went on record with their expressions of thanks to the Pope.

      On other topics, the Israeli ambassador was more diplomatic in his public remarks. Asked to comment on the statement by Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran that the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem was "illegal," Lopez declined to respond, saying that he would pursue that question through the appropriate diplomatic channels.


      BOSTON ( - The National Abortion Access Project launched a national media campaign in Massachusetts this month with a series of newspaper ads that seek to lessen the stigma of abortion.

      The group said it chose Massachusetts as the test site because there are large areas of the state without an abortion clinic. Abortion groups plan to run the ads in California, Maine, and New York next year. The black-and-white ads feature women who have had abortions talking about the procedure.

      The creators of the campaign admitted that it was difficult to counter pro-life advertisements that show happy, pregnant women, beautiful babies, and sonograms of unborn children. "I don't think that they are sending the right message," said Maryclaire Flynn, a director at the Massachusetts Citizens for Life group. "There should be a stigma attached to abortion. I think it's natural that the pro-life advertisements have been effective because motherhood is more of a natural choice for women."

      Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent in Vancouver, remarks by a Catholic newspaper editor this week on the shooting of an American abortionist caused controversy among Catholic and non-Catholics.

      Paul Schratz, editor of the British Columbia Catholic, condemned the shooting of Dr. Barnett Slepian in Amherst, New York, but added: "Murders of abortionists just might have some positive side effects." He said, "Fewer doctors are willing to face the stigma, and now the threat of personal harm, associated with performing abortions. It just goes to show that our all-powerful and all-loving God can bring good from any evil situation."

      Abortion supporters said such comments help justify violence against abortion providers. "We are sort of realizing the impossibility of having a dialogue with these people," said Joyce Arthur of the Pro-Choice Action Network.

      Schratz said the editorial does not necessarily reflect the view of Archbishop Adam Exner of Vancouver, the publisher of the newspaper. "The editorial says very clearly what my views are," he said on Tuesday. "That is that good can come out of an evil situation and that says in no uncertain terms that killing abortion doctors is an evil situation."

      Meanwhile, US law enforcement officials issued a warrant for James Charles Kopp of St. Albans, Vermont as a material witness in the shooting. Police believe the pro-life advocate has information that would help in the investigation. Kopp may have been the Vermont man that a local newspaper said was seen near Slepian's home on the day the abortionist was killed.

      The fallout continued In Chicago when a federal court blocked Wisconsin from enforcing a ban on partial-birth abortions on Tuesday while opponents pursue a legal challenge.

      The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals granted the petition by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and six abortionists who are challenging the law. Jim Haney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin attorney general, said the state had not decided how to respond to the ruling. "We are still prepared to make the strongest arguments possible in defense of the law," Haney said.

      The law, passed in April, banned partial abortions and provided penalties up to life in prison for abortionists who perform the procedure. A trial on the challenge is pending before US District Judge John C. Shabaz, who had refused to grant a temporary order. The 3-judge majority in the appeals court decision attacked the law on three grounds: it contains no exception for cases in which the child could not survive outside the womb; it contains no exceptions for "the health of the mother"; it is vaguely worded and could make abortionists afraid to perform legal abortions.


      HANOI ( - The Communist government of Vietnam said on Wednesday that it had not received any request for a papal visit from the country's Catholic bishops, contrary to media reports last week.

      The Vatican news agency Fides had reported that the bishops' conference had asked the government to invite Pope John Paul II to visit the country next August for celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of the Virgin Mary at La Vang. A Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters, "No functional agency of Vietnam has received such a request from the Vietnam Episcopal Council as reported by Fides."

      Fides had reported that the bishops had unanimously voted to make the request during their annual meeting from October 11-18. The Communist government strictly controls the practice of religion in the country, including monitoring the content of homilies, restricting pilgrimages, and controlling the appointment of clergy.

      The spokesman also disputed criticism by a UN envoy on religious affairs who said he had been prevented from meeting with some religious leaders during his visit to the country October 19-28. "I reaffirm [Abdelfattah] Amor enjoyed freedom of movement during his time in Vietnam and freedom to meet people he was interested in," the spokesman said.

For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site. CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.


"Like a moth in clothing, or a maggot in wood, sorrow gnaws at the human heart. "

Proverbs 25: 20

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November 5, 1998 volume 9, no. 217   DAILY CATHOLIC