In Catholic Circles

An International News Roundup

Summer/Autumn 2004

In this issue:

The Church and State
Catholic Healthcare
The Church and HIV/AIDS
The Church and Contraception
The Church and Abortion
The Sexual Abuse Crisis

The Church and State

The Bishops and the US Elections 
The electoral interventions of Catholic bishops and conservative Catholic organizations gets full coverage elsewhere, but a summary of the important events appears here.

• Vatican official Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, stated that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should not receive communion. In response to a question on the matter, he said, “Objectively, the answer is clear. The person is not fit. If he shouldn’t receive it, then it shouldn’t be given.” The cardinal declined to mention Senator John Kerry specifically but said, “The norm of the church is clear. The Catholic church exists in the USA and there are bishops there. Let them interpret.”

• CFFC research indicates that the vast majority of bishops who will discuss this matter welcome prochoice Catholic policy makers to communion.

• In New Jersey, following Archbishop John Myers’ pronouncement that prochoice legislators should not receive communion, Governor James McGreevey said that he would no longer receive the sacrament in public and the State Senate Majority Leader Bernard Kenny said he would leave the church.

• Forty-eight Catholic Democratic members of Congress wrote to Cardinal McCarrick warning that the stance that US bishops have taken will revive anti-Catholic bigotry and harm the church. McCarrick agreed to meet with representatives of the 48.

• A study of the voting records of Catholic senators by Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin shows that most Catholic Democratic senators vote in line with church positions— except when it comes to abortion. The study examined 24 issues that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops considered to be legislative priorities, including abortion-related bills as well as the death penalty, immigration, gun control and media ownership. “Unfortunately, recent media attention has focused on one or two priorities of the Catholic church, while obscuring others,” said Durbin. “This has made it more difficult for Catholic voters to understand the full range of issues that have been identified by the bishops as priorities for public life.”

• In a statement issued during their June retreat in Colorado, the bishops stated that the decision whether or not to deny communion should “rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles. Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action…. The polarizing tendencies of election-year politics can lead to circumstances in which Catholic teaching and sacramental practice can be misused for political ends. Respect for the Holy Eucharist, in particular, demands that it be received worthily and that it be seen as the source for our common mission in the world.” The bishops approved the statement by 183 votes to six.

Brazilian Bishops Warn Priests off Politics
The bishops’ conference in Brazil has warned its priests against direct participation in politics and reminded them of their duty to help the poor. An Episcopal message stated, “We are worried that some of you [priests] allow yourselves to be carried away by the illusion, according to which you will serve the people better by carrying out political tasks rather than through the priestly ministry…. The conviction of the evangelical preferential option for the poor, [as a] constitutive element of the priest’s spirituality, is ever more intense. This spirituality is lived when the priest, with a thorough knowledge of the social doctrine of the church, is present in the world of the poor and in solidarity with situations of suffering and social conflict, supporting programs of social pastoral care, and the initiatives of our church in favor of the promotion of public policies at the service of the common good.”

Senators, Members of Congress and Former First Lady Decry Stem Cell Policy
Fifty-eight us senators, 206 members of Congress and former first lady Nancy Reagan have called on President Bush to loosen his restrictions on research using stem cells derived from human embryos. The calls followed the long-awaited release of a report from the US President’s Council on Bioethics, “Reproduction and Responsibility: The Regulation of New Biotechnologies.”

Currently, federal funds are limited to scientists working on stem cells in existence on August 9, 2001, when Bush announced the new policy. The National Institutes of Health estimates that as few as 23 of the 78 lines originally identified can be used, and many of those are contaminated by mouse cells and therefore cannot be used on humans. New Jersey and California have provided state funds for research into stem cells.

Just before the death of former president Ronald Reagan on June 5, 2004, his wife Nancy made a passionate call for President Bush to change his policy at a dinner for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. President Reagan suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, one of many degenerative conditions that might be treated using new therapies developed through research on embryonic stem cells.

The Council on Bioethics’ report was wide-ranging and proposes, inter alia, that “attempts to conceive a child by any means other than the union of egg and sperm” should be prohibited. An addendum from five Council members makes the point that “we believe that this language provides a way for Congress to ban reproductive cloning while agreeing to disagree on the question of cloning for biomedical research.”

Cardinal William Keeler, chair of the bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, generally supported the report, but expressed reservations on two counts: the Council’s support for the use of embryos in research (up to either ten or 14 days after creation, with Congress to decide the limit) and the Council’s apparent support for some cloning, when the embryo is then used to initiate a pregnancy.

Juliet Tizzard, of the Progress Educational Trust, noted that the absence of a call to ban embryo research, something that was in the draft issued late in 2003, “has come as a great relief to the pro-research community in the United States.”

A survey of 4,005 people by the Genetics and Public Policy Center, based in Washington, DC, revealed that 61 percent approve of using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to help a sick sibling, while 33 percent disapprove. However, 57 percent disapprove of sex selection and 80 percent expressed concern that unregulated genetic technologies such as PGD could “get out of control.” “There is strong support for using these technologies when there is a health benefit, even when that benefit is for another person, but this support coexists with deep-seated worries about where all these new technologies may be taking us,” said Center director Kathy Hudson.

Bush seeks Vatican Help in Presidential Run

The National Catholic Reporter has said that President George W. Bush asked the Vatican to intervene in US politics by encouraging bishops to support him on “family and life” issues. During a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state to the Vatican, the report said, Bush told Sodano and other Vatican officials that “not all American bishops are with me” on family and life issues. Apparently, Bush cited specifically his desire to pass a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage. The White House denied that there was any request for political assistance. An unnamed senior administration official said, “the Holy Father is not a political figure. And the president would never seek to make him into one.”

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called the report “mind-boggling.” Senator John Kerry, who is expected to receive the Democratic Party nomination to run against Bush said, “I think it was entirely and extraordinarily inappropriate, and I think it speaks for itself.”

Massachusetts Bishops Lead Campaign against Gay Marriage
A lengthy exposé in the Boston Phoenix has revealed the lengths that the church hierarchy is going to oppose same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. One legislator, who understandably declined to be identified, said, “I would describe the church’s tactics as thuggery, diabolical, and totally void of openness.” Another was threatened by two priests, who said, “We’ll have to find someone else who can respect God’s will.”

The bishops in Massachusetts have a long history of politicking. Cardinal William O’Connell spoke out against the women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900s, and mobilized clergy and laity to defeat a federal constitutional amendment banning child labor in the 1920s. Through the 1940s and 1950s, Cardinal Richard Cushing led a campaign against contraception and then all four Massachusetts bishops initiated the campaign against Roe v. Wade in 1973. In its most recent campaign, the bishops sent out 1 million letters to households across Massachusetts calling for support opposing same-sex marriage. The bishops have made alliances with extreme right-wing groups, something that has alarmed even moderate Catholics. For example, Bishop Sean O’Malley spoke at a rally where Sandy Rios from Concerned Women for America showed “her homophobic colors.”

Federal judges have heard cases opposing the state’s decision to allow the issuing of licenses to same-sex couples but have not indicated when they will rule.

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Catholic Health Care

Diocese to Appeal Court Ruling on Providing Contraceptive Coverage
Sacramento Bishop William K. Weigand has announced that the diocese will take a California court decision to the US Supreme Court. The ruling stated that Catholic Charities of Sacramento is and must provide contraceptive coverage in health insurance plans for its employees. It will not be known until October whether the high court will accept the appeal.

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The Church and HIV/AIDS

NGO Opposes Catholic Hierarchy’s Role in Preventing HIV/AIDS
The Philippine government must stop pandering to the Catholic hierarchy’s strict opposition to the use of condoms or it risks a huge increase in HIV/AIDS, the nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch has warned in a new report, “Unprotected: Sex, Condoms, and the Human Right to Health in the Philippines.”

The report criticized the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of pursuing “anti-condom policies” and not challenging the Catholic hierarchy on the issue, as well as accusing some local officials, including the mayor of Manila City, of banning condoms in their health centers. HIV/AIDS educators in schools are often prohibited from discussing condoms with students. The report further charged that the Arroyo administration has “stood in the way of aggressive HIV prevention strategies by, among other things, failing to support comprehensive reproductive health legislation that would expand access to condoms.”

According to the report, in 2003 the Catholic bishops’ conference helped block legislation authorizing national funds for condoms and other contraceptive supplies. President Arroyo then awarded a major contract to the conservative organization Couples for Christ to provide “natural family planning” seminars discouraging condom use. Some nurses in government health clinics in Manila teach that condoms have holes in them, a myth supported by Vatican spokesmen. “The argument that condoms have holes in them is itself full of holes,” said Jonathan Cohen, who wrote the report. “The government should immediately counter this false pseudoscience with correct information.”

European Union Condemns Hierarchy’s “Bigotry” on Condom Use
The EU Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Poul Nielsen, has made his strongest statement yet about the Vatican’s opposition to the use of condoms. He made his comments on the flagship BBC television program,Panorama, in response to a paper from Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, claiming that HIV is small enough to pass through latex condoms. Cardinal Trujillo argued that there is no such thing as safe sex, and that having sex while using condoms was like playing “Russian roulette” with AIDS.

The Panorama program is a follow-up to one late last year, when Trujillo made his claims on camera. He refused to be interviewed for the second program. However, Panorama did interview Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala, the archbishop of Kampala, Uganda on whether a couple could use condoms if the husband had AIDS. Cardinal Wamala, on considering the case, said that they could not. He suggested that if the woman gave her life up for a religious principle she would be considered a martyr.

Nielsen said that the Vatican is “hurting and bringing into great danger the lives of millions out there” and condemned the Vatican’s “lack of love for human beings” and “unwillingness to take their situation seriously,” forcing people into “a terrible choice of abstinence or lose the blessing of the church.”

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The Church and Contraception

US Government Rejects Scientific Advice on Emergency Contraception, Bishops Applaud
The Food and Drug Administration has gone against the advice of its scientific body and decided against allowing Plan B, a form of emergency contraception which may be used up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, to be sold over the counter and keeping it as a prescription-only medicine. The FDA cited a lack of research for those under the age of 16 as a reason, thereby leaving the door open for another attempt when more data is available. In December 2003, the FDA advisory committees on nonprescription drugs and reproductive health drugs met jointly and voted 23 to 4 that EC should be made available over the counter.

A US bishops’ spokeswoman, Cathy Cleaver Ruse, welcomed the FDA’s decision. She said, “The Plan B distributor may argue that it’s all the same, but preventing human life from beginning is not the same thing as destroying life that has already begun.” Medical and scientific research has shown that EC works before implantation, and therefore is a contraceptive.

Amy Allina, project director for the National Women’s Health Network, told the Washington Post that the decision was “quite outrageous and flies in the face of the scientific evidence. This has happened because of politics in this election year. They’re pandering to the antichoice extremists.” Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) and co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus said, “The FDA’s decision to ignore its own scientific advisory board and its own staff clearly demonstrates the leadership would rather pander to conservative interests than protect women’s health and well-being.”

Chilean Cardinal Opposes Emergency Contraception
Chile’s president has vowed to go ahead with the provision of free emergency contraception to women who have been raped, despite vocal opposition from the Catholic hierarchy.

“If something tragic like a rape occurs, and the person who suffered this terrible disgrace needs a pill, and according to her beliefs she wants it, it is unjust to deny it,” President Ricardo Lagos said. The Health Ministry has issued an order that allows doctors’ offices and emergency rooms to distribute the pill to women who say they have been sexually abused.

Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa called on the country’s Catholic mayors to refuse to comply with the government’s order and had a letter read in all Santiago churches opposing the new ruling. In March, despite intense lobbying by the bishops, Chile became the last country in Latin America to legalize divorce.

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The Church and Abortion

Pope Canonizes Antiabortion Icon
On Sunday, May 16, Pope John Paul II named six new saints, including Italian pediatrician Gianna Beretta Molla. In 1962, Molla died just one week after giving birth to her fourth child. She was 39. Doctors had informed her of the dangers of proceeding with the pregnancy because she had a large uterine tumor and recommended that she obtain an abortion to save her life. Dr. Molla declined this medical advice and insisted on continuing the pregnancy to term.

Speaking about the implications of canonizing Dr. Molla, Frances Kissling, President of CFFC, said, “The pope’s choices for canonization lead us to ask whether or not women are held to a different standard where sainthood is concerned. Where among the pantheon of saints canonized by this pope are the women saints whose lives are characterized by independence, autonomy, a healthy respect for themselves and their aspirations, and their contributions to the world? In order to be a saint, must a woman die in childbirth, be raped or abused, or become a nun? We hope that future candidates for sainthood offer Catholic girls and women the chance to express ourselves, to stand up against injustice, and to survive.” Luigi De Paoli, a spokesman for the We Are Church movement was no less forthright. He said, “People are canonized not because they are recognized first and foremost by the community as people of exceptional virtues but because they are emblematic of the pope’s political line, in this case an intransigent stance concerning church teaching on abortion.”

Mexican NGOs Raise Awareness about Legality of Abortion
GIRE, the information Group on Reproductive Choice, a reproductive rights group based in Mexico City, has initiated a campaign to ensure that women know that abortion is legal in cases of pregnancy after rape. Abortion is permitted nationwide for pregnancies that result from rape and some states also allow it in cases where the pregnancy poses a serious risk to a woman’s health.

A poll last year found that some 75 percent of lower-income Mexican adults did not know abortion was legal in cases of rape. While it is impossible to be sure about numbers, estimates for the number of illegal abortions range from 110,000 to 800,000 each year. Since the campaign began in late February, nearly 1.5 million leaflets have been distributed in subway stations, universities and high schools. GIRE has also set up a telephone help line and paid for advertisements on trains. GIRE forms part of a consortium of five leading organizations in Mexico within the arena of sexual and reproductive rights, including Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (Catholics for the Right to Decide, CDD), Equidad de Género: Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia (Gender Equity: Citizenship, Work and Family), Ipas Mexico and Population Council.

Uruguayan Senate Rejects Bill to Legalize Abortion
The Senate in Uruguay has narrowly voted against a bill that would have made the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation the first in Latin America to legalize abortion. The lower house approved the bill, “Norms for the Defense of Reproductive Health,” in late 2003, but the Senate defeated it by 17 votes to 13. Supporters of the legislation cited the need to reduce the number of illegal and unsafe abortions performed in Uruguay. Medical groups have reported that at least 33,000 illegal abortions are carried out each year, many of them without adequate medical oversight. However, President Jorge Batlle had indicated that he would have vetoed any bill to legalize abortion.

Catholic University Bans Civil Rights Group for Prochoice Stance
The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, has blocked the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), from forming a chapter on campus. Catholic University said that the decision was based on the fact that African American students were already represented by two other organizations and that forming a chapter of the NAACP, which has a prochoice stance, would be inconsistent with the university’s mission.

Kweisi Mfume, president of the NAACP, said in a statement that the decision represented “outright discrimination, bigotry, prejudice and intolerance all rolled into one. It is at the very least a double standard based on race and social philosophy.” Mfume noted that the NAACP has college chapters in at least 150 universities, including four Catholic ones: Georgetown, Trinity College (Washington, DC), St. John’s and Fordham.

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The Sexual Abuse Crisis

News Update

• Pope John Paul II has given Cardinal Bernard Law an official position in Rome, naming the former Boston archbishop who resigned in the sex abuse scandal in December 2002 as head of a basilica. Cardinal Law will have the title archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica, a largely ceremonial post that includes a salary and staff of three. The Reverend Charles Bouchard, in a letter to the New York Times, wrote that the appointment “is a slap in the face not only to the victims of abuse but also to all Catholics, who have suffered the humiliation of this scandal. Will this outrageous act finally motivate us to demand accountability from Roman officials and to confront the obvious disdain with which they view the American church?”

• A series of letters between bishops and the lay board appointed to oversee the church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis has been published by the National Catholic Reporter. The letters reveal serious dissatisfaction by the board with the bishops’ decision to delay a second round of diocesan audits until after November. Anne Burke, the chair of the lay board, said the board felt “manipulated…. We are very disheartened by this apparent decision to go back to ‘business as usual.’ A decision to backslide on the Charter and Norms—and it is hard to see the decision to delay matters until November as anything else—will delay the necessary healing and reopen the wounds of deception, manipulation and control—all the false ideals that produced this scandal.” Denver’s Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and Auxiliary Bishop Jose H. Gomez, responded, “Your language is designed to offend and contains implicit threats that are, to put it mildly, inappropriate for anyone of your professional stature.” The US bishops’ conference backed down from its original decision at its June retreat and voted by a 207-14 majority to approve a second round of audits.

• A prominent clerical advocate for the victims of abuse, the Reverend Thomas Doyle, has been fired by Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, under whom Doyle served, for apparently challenging O’Brien’s authority and arguing that priests did not have to celebrate mass every day. Susan Archibald, president of the Linkup, a victims’ support group, told the Washington Post that Doyle “has not made many friends within the church by his willingness to testify” on behalf of victims. “This is obviously an act of retribution.” Doyle himself was unrepentant. “I can say that I would never retract one bit of what I’ve done on behalf of sexual abuse victims over the past 19 years, and I won’t stop doing it.… What I have seen and heard has made me profoundly ashamed to be associated with the institutional Catholic church and the clerical world.”

• The diocese of Belleville, Illinois, has been held in contempt of court for refusing to hand over records related to the mental health of an accused child sex-abuser. The diocese has been fined $2,000 and ordered to hand over the records. The diocese is led by Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

• Paul Shanley, the notorious sex abuser whose case highlighted the extent of the sex abuse crisis, has been defrocked by the pope. In a letter dated May 3, Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley stated that the decision had been made on February 19. It is unclear as to why it took so long to make the decision or forward the information to Shanley. It is expected that Shanley’s criminal trial will start in October.

• According to the Boston Globe, nine former students at the now-closed Boston School for the Deaf have filed a lawsuit claiming they were the victims of emotional, physical and sexual abuse by the staff of the school, including at least 14 nuns from the Sisters of St. Joseph order.

• In an article in the Jesuit magazine America, theologian Cardinal Avery Dulles has argued that the “one strike and you’re out” policy adopted by the bishops to prevent any rerun of the sexual abuse scandal ignores priests’ rights of due process and violates the Catholic belief in redemption.

• Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson has announced that the diocese is considering a bankruptcy filing because of the costs involved in paying out compensation in the 19 pending cases alleging sexual abuse by clergy. Lynne Cadigan, an attorney representing some of the victims, dismissed the move as a tactic to gain community sympathy and delay litigation. An out-of-court settlement with ten men in 2002 cost the diocese up to $16 million.

• A series of reports in the Dallas Morning News reveals that hundreds of priests accused of abuse have been moved from country to country, allowing them to start new lives in unsuspecting communities and continue working in church ministries, often with children, despite the worldwide condemnation of this practice.

Come Again?

July 2003“I knew that the controversy was producing a distorted image of [Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez of the Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa in Honduras], because Rodríguez is not a crusty foreign prelate out of touch with America or modernity. He’s a dynamic 60-year-old, whose near-flawless English reflects years of study, lecturing and travel in the United States. Neither is he a defensive cultural warrior who sees enemies of the church under every rock; he studied with the German liberal theologian Bernard Häring in Rome after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), and is generally located on the church’s moderate-to-progressive wing.”

John L. Allen Jr., NCR Vatican correspondent, seeks to restore Rodríguez’s reputation after he excoriated the US media’s “persecution” of the Catholic church during its coverage of the sexual abuse scandal in May 2002 comparing media criticism of the church to persecutions under the Roman emperors Nero and Diocletian, as well as Hitler and Stalin. [John L. Allen, Jr., “The Word from Rome,” National Catholic Reporter, July 11, 2003.]

Update, June 2004: Rodríguez is exposed by the Dallas Morning News as having sheltered a priest who is an admitted child molester. Rodríguez put the Rev. Enrique Vásquez to work in two remote parishes from last year until March, when he again disappeared. Interpol is searching for him. The priest had fled criminal accusations in his native Costa Rica in 1998, and served in at least two US dioceses before disappearing again to spend time at a clergy treatment center in Mexico. [Brendan M. Case and Brooks Egerton, “Cardinal offered sanctuary to admitted molester,” Dallas Morning News, June 21, 2004.]

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“If the bishops decide … to slide down the slippery slope of imposing, or even threatening, spiritual penalties for political votes of which they disapprove, they will in the end make it practically impossible for any Catholic to serve in public office.”
— Fr. Richard McBrien. [Fr. Richard McBrien, “Bishops give Catholic politicians an impossible mission,” National Catholic Reporter, April 23, 2004]

“I’ve been asked that question so often lately that I have considered a policy of denying communion to reporters.”
 Cardinal Francis George of Chicago injects some humor into the saga over prochoice Catholic politicians and communion. [Catholic News Service, “Cardinal says faith shapes political conscience for voters, lawmakers,” May 5, 2004]

“Once you open the door, what’s going to come rolling through it? Pretty soon, no one would be taking communion.”
— Deal Hudson, publisher of Crisis magazine and adviser to President Bush, argues that the denial of communion should start and stop with Democratic presidential hopeful, Senator John Kerry. [Alan Cooperman, “Ad assails DC cardinal for stance on communion,” Washington Post, May 7, 2004]

“I have not gotten to the stage where I’m comfortable in denying the Eucharist.”
 Cardinal Theodore McCarrick expresses his reservations about refusing communion to prochoice Catholic politicians. [Richard N. Ostling, “Anti-abortion ads target D.C. cardinal,” Associated Press, May 7, 2004]

“Cardinal McCarrick: Are you comfortable now?”
— The text of an ad depicting Jesus on the cross and decrying what it sees as Cardinal McCarrick’s “coddling” of prochoice Catholic politicians. [American Life League,, May 2004]

“Is it consistent with a Church which is forgiving, loving and compassionate to exclude [homosexuals and couples in ‘irregular unions’] from full participation in the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist? The same dilemma arises for many couples in relation to family planning.”
— Dr. Willie Walsh, Bishop of Killaloe in Ireland, expresses his concern over some basic church teachings.[Colin Murphy, “Church ‘must open to those who cannot live by its teaching’,” Tablet (UK), March 27, 2004]

“Who are these people [on the National Review Board]? Who voted for Justice Burke? Who voted for Dr. [Pamela] Hayes? Who voted for any of them? They’re just there.”
 Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz rails against the USCCB-appointed task force that oversees compliance with the sexual charter. [Catholic World Report, “Who’s in charge?” May 2004]

“It’s very sexually provocative [and] the Lord’s Day for a lot of people around this part of the world is Sunday and it seems a bit inconsiderate and insensitive that our religious beliefs are not taken into account. [But I will] probably go to the concert, whenever it is staged, because I enjoy her music.”
— Fr. Joe Deegan, parish priest of Slane, a small town outside Dublin, Ireland, in response to the announcement that Madonna will play a concert there on a Sunday. [Irish Post (Ireland), “Madonna to play on a Sunday despite opposition of residents,” April 13, 2004]

“[When] a Catholic woman and a Muslim wish to marry, bitter experience teaches us that a particularly careful and in-depth preparation is called for…. We hope there will be, on the part of our Muslim brothers and sisters, a growing awareness that fundamental liberties, the inviolable rights of the person, the equal dignity of man and woman, the democratic principle of government and the healthy lay character of the state [sic] are principles that cannot be surrendered.”
— From a new Vatican document from the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. [Alan Feuer, “Vatican discourages marriage with Muslims for Catholic women,” New York Times, May 15, 2004]

“Today, our challenge is simple: to resist the temptation to conform to the culture of death, to consumerism, hedonism, individualism.… [Catholics are like] exiles in the midst of Babylon…. The boomers born between 1946 and 1966 [are] the most educated and affluent group in US history, are heirs to Woodstock, the drug culture, the sexual revolution, feminism, the breakdown of authority, and divorce. Typically, they are religious illiterates, but they are interested. Not big on dogmas. ‘My karma ran over my dogma’ could be their motto.”
 Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston, in an Easter week homily. [Michael Paulson, “O’Malley confronts ‘culture of death’,” Boston Globe, April 7, 2004]

“Being Archbishop of Boston is like living in a fishbowl made out of magnifying glass…. Feminism is a very elastic term, and I did not define it or try to categorize it. Other influences I mentioned were obviously negative, and so my comment was construed as an attack on feminism.”
— O’Malley again, with the almost inevitable retraction in the official newspaper of the archdiocese.[Archbishop Sean O’Malley, ”Feminism”, The Pilot, April 30, 2004]

Catholics for Choice