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Venezuelan cardinal rejects U.S. military intervention

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A Venezuelan cardinal rejected the possibility of foreign intervention in the country following U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to pursue a military option.

“The crisis we Venezuelans are suffering is so serious that now an external problem arises: the threats of a military option by President Trump,” Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas said.

Demonstrators gather at a roadblock July 26 to protest President Nicolas Maduro’s government. (CNS photo/Carlos Garcia Rawlins, Reuters)

The cardinal spoke Aug. 13 after celebrating the 150th anniversary of the consecration of his archdiocese’s cathedral Aug. 13. He rejected the assertion that foreign military intervention could solve the crisis Venezuela is experiencing.

“I, and I am sure all the Venezuelan bishops, reject all foreign military interference, such as the Cuban one present for some time in Venezuela,” Cardinal Urosa said, “and I do not agree with the threat of a military option.”

After a meeting Aug. 11 with Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State, Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and H.R. McMaster, national security adviser, Trump told journalists that a military intervention was “certainly something that we could pursue.”

“Venezuela is a mess. It is very dangerous mess and a very sad situation,” Trump said. “The people are suffering and they are dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”

Elections for seats on a constituent assembly were held in Venezuela July 30 amid massive protests and international outcry. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s push for the assembly, comprised mainly of his supporters and designed to rewrite the nation’s constitution, has led to violent demonstrations in which more than 100 people have died.

Cardinal Urosa said a foreign military intervention would not solve the real problem, which is a “social, political and economic crisis we suffer that is becoming more serious.”

“The ones who must solve this current crisis are we Venezuelans and especially the government that created it,” the cardinal said.

     

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5,600-plus sisters call for civility by candidates in presidential race

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SILVER SPRING, Md. — More than 5,600 U.S. religious sisters have signed a letter asking for civil discourse in the presidential campaign.

The letter was to be sent Aug. 8 to the candidates of the Democratic, Republican, Green and Libertarian parties as well as their vice presidential running mates and the chairs of their respective parties. Read more »

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Voters Guide: Maryland Catholic Conference candidate surveys

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About the Survey

Every election year, the Maryland Catholic Conference surveys the state’s candidates for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives about their positions on issues of interest to Catholics. The responses of the Democratic and Republican primary candidates are below.

The candidates were asked to either “Agree” or “Disagree” with a list of issue statements. A blank response to a statement means the candidate did not choose a position on that issue.

Candidates also were given the opportunity to provide 75 words at the end of the survey on why Maryland Catholics should vote for them. Those comments are available on the Maryland Catholic Conference website: www.mdcatholic.org/elections.

Only candidates who responded to the survey are included. For a complete list of candidates, visit www.mdcatholic.org/elections. Each candidate received the survey by email. Non-responding candidates received three additional emails and were contacted at least once by phone.

The Maryland Catholic Conference does not endorse or oppose any candidate, under any circumstance, and no inference of endorsement or opposition should be concluded as a result of the information provided here.

Responses from all of the candidates can also be found on the Maryland Catholic Conference’s website at www.mdcatholic.org. The candidates who did not respond are listed below the survey grid.

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Vote

Vote April 26, 2016 in the primary election. Early voting centers will be open starting Thursday, April 14 through Thursday, April 21. Visit http://www.elections.state.md.us/voting/early_voting.html for more information and for locations.

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How to Find Your State and Federal Congressional Districts

To identify your Congressional districts, go to the Maryland Catholic Conference website www.mdcatholic.org/FindYourLegislator.

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Answer Key

A=Agree

D=Disagree

Blank=No response

D=Democrat

R=Republican

S=United States Senate

H=House of Representatives

 

Survey Questions of Candidates

 

  1. ASSISTED SUICIDE. Congress should not pass legislation to allow physicians to legally prescribe a dose of lethal medication at the request of patients with a terminal illness.

 

  1. CONSCIENCE PROTECTIONS. Congress should pass legislation forbidding governmental bodies to discriminate against individual and institutional health care providers that do not perform, refer for or pay for abortions, such as the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act.

 

  1. EDUCATION. Congress should enact legislation that supports the ability of low-income families to choose the education best suited to their children’s needs, such as tax credits for business donations to organizations providing scholarships for K-12 students to attend nonpublic schools or the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.

 

  1. IMMIGRATION. Congress should pass comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform providing a path to citizenship for undocumented persons in the U.S., while preserving family unity and restoring due process protections to enforcement policies.

 

  1. JUSTICE REFORM. Congress should enact measures that decrease incarceration rates and recidivism by reducing mandatory minimums and investing in increased rehabilitative services and re-entry programs for offenders, such as the Sentencing Reform Act of 2105.

 

 

MCC.CANDIDATE.GRID

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In politically polarized Argentina, some worry about new president

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Catholic News Service

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — In a sprawling working class parish founded by Jesuit Father Jorge Bergoglio long before he became archbishop of Buenos Aires and later Pope Francis, the faithful are lamenting the results of Argentina’s November elections in which businessman Mauricio Macri was elected president.

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who joined together 38 years ago to demand information on what happened to their disappeared children during Argentina's Dirty War, protest in Buenos Aires Dec. 10. Within hours of President Mauricio Macri being sworn in as Argentina's new president, the Mothers took to the Plaza to reiterate their demands. (CNS /Paul Jeffrey)

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who joined together 38 years ago to demand information on what happened to their disappeared children during Argentina’s Dirty War, protest in Buenos Aires Dec. 10. Within hours of President Mauricio Macri being sworn in as Argentina’s new president, the Mothers took to the Plaza to reiterate their demands. (CNS /Paul Jeffrey)

“In my parish, people are not happy. They worry about employment and housing and pensions for the retired, and they fear these things aren’t going to get the same attention in the new government as they did in the old government (of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner),” said Jesuit Father Rafael Velasco, pastor of St. Joseph the Patriarch Parish in San Miguel, located on the outskirts of the capital city.

However, Velasco told Catholic News Service, many of the country’s bishops are feeling “a great joy” that Macri won.

He said the new government promises to return the church to its position of privilege, something that changed during the 12 years of rule by Fernandez and late husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, when conflicts over abortion and gay marriage further stressed already strained church-state relations.

As a sign that the clock is turning back, on Dec. 11, Macri designated Santiago Manuel de Estrada as the new secretary for religious affairs. De Estrada, a 79-year-old Catholic who has long been dubbed “The Bishop,” was secretary for social security during the 1976-83 military dictatorship and later served as ambassador to the Vatican during the government of Raul Alfonsin. He is considered a close ally of the country’s most conservative bishops.

The Vatican sent Archbishop Eliseo Ariotti, papal nuncio to Paraguay, as its representative to Macri’s Dec. 10 inauguration. In this polarized political culture, many here interpreted the lack of a higher representative of the Vatican, as well as the pope’s failure to comment publicly on the election results’ as a slight to the new president.

The losing presidential candidate, Daniel Scioli, who represented the continuation of Fernandez’s brand of Peronism, is an old friend of Pope Francis. They maintained their friendship and frequent meetings even during the years when Fernandez considered the then-archbishop the spiritual head of the opposition.

“Scioli was the one in the government who went to visit Bergoglio when it was prohibited by Fernandez to talk to him,” Father Velasco said.

But the priest said both Pope Francis, whom he claims privately backed Scioli, and the bishops, most of whom favored Macri, maintained public neutrality during the campaign.

Father Velasco, who previously served as rector of the Catholic University of Cordoba, said the narrow election margin should not be interpreted as a sweeping mandate for Macri’s conservative agenda.

“Fernandez treated people in a way that many voted against her for her administration’s corruption and arrogance. They voted against a government that didn’t listen to anyone and was always fighting with everyone, often unnecessarily. It’s like in football; sometimes it’s not which team wins, but which team loses. And what happened here is that the old government’s style led to it losing at the polls. Some working-class people voted for Macri against their own interests because they were tired of the model of government of Fernandez,” Father Velasco said.

One controversial theme that promises to outlive the electoral campaign is what will happen to those accused of torture and murder during Argentina’s Dirty War.

On Nov. 23, the day after the election, the daily newspaper La Nacion published an editorial titled “No more revenge,” in which it called on the new government to put an end to the arrest and trial of hundreds of former military officers linked to the worst repression of the military dictatorship.

Yet the editorial may have had the opposite effect, as dozens of employees of the newspaper disavowed the piece with a group photo that quickly spread through social media, with people holding signs saying, “I repudiate the editorial,” or bearing the hashtag #NuncaMas, or Never Again.

“The trials of those who committed genocide show before the world our path to justice, and we hope that this new government doesn’t throw to the ground all that we’ve achieved at great cost up to now, that it doesn’t turn its back on the people who remained in the hell of the concentration camps,” Nora Morales de Cortinas, a founder of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, told Catholic News Service.

Another Catholic human rights activist said Macri will not be able to erase the historic memory of repression.

“Governments come and go, but the people remain. And the people have memory, a memory which illumines the present. It doesn’t matter that we now have a government which isn’t interested in human rights, because the people have memory and we’ll continue struggling,” Adolfo Perez Esquivel, who won the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize, told Catholic News Service.

“Macri has always considered human rights to be a worthless stupidity,” Perez said, but added that the new president would be unable to totally block the continuing trials because he lacks a parliamentary majority.

Washington Uranga, an editorial columnist for Pagina 12, said Macri has already ordered cuts in funding to the Space for Memory and for the Protection and Defense of Human Rights, which is located on the grounds of a former military facility in Buenos Aires that served as a torture center during the dictatorship, and from which prisoners were dispatched on “flights to the death” where their bodies were thrown into the sea.

“There will still be some money for personnel, but the Space will change into a simple museum, not a place for dialogue and expression where people could actively seek to recover the memory of their country,” Uranga told CNS.

Estela de Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, which with support from the former government has recovered 119 grandchildren whose parents were murdered by the military, said the new government’s positions cause her worry but not fear.

“We will accept what they do well, and we won’t accept what they do badly. We remain committed to memory, truth and justice, and we grandmothers are going to continue to struggle to find the hundreds of grandchildren who remain,” she told CNS.

“We are looking forward to meeting with the new authorities to see what will happen with human rights. We want to promote unity among Argentines. Division has been promoted here a lot, as if whoever thinks differently from me is my enemy. Yet they aren’t enemies, they are just Argentines who think differently,” she said.

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Abortion, minimum wage, pot among issues facing voters on Election Day

November 6th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: ,

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WASHINGTON (CNS) — In midterm elections Nov. 4, voters in Tennessee approved an amendment to the state constitution that will give the Legislature the authority to pass laws regulating the abortion industry.

Voters rejected ballot initiatives on abortion in two other states — a “personhood” measure to add “unborn human beings” to the Colorado criminal code one and a proposed constitutional amendment in North Dakota to recognize and protect “the inalienable right to life of every human being at every stage of development.” Read more »

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Voters decide ‘personhood,’ labor rights as bishops stay neutral

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Voters in Mississippi and Ohio confronted such traditional Catholic issues as abortion and labor rights on Election Day, but the Catholic bishops in those states remained neutral on the specific ballot questions raised.

In Mississippi, Proposition 26, known as the Personhood Amendment, was defeated, with 42 percent of voters supporting the measure and 58 percent opposed. It would have defined life as beginning at the moment of conception.

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