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Council Bluffs, Iowa – – July 18, 2007, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, a proponent of abortion rights, said Wednesday he would not use a judicial nominee’s stand on the issue or the landmark Supreme Court decision as a litmus test.
On a campaign swing through conservative western Iowa, the former New York mayor pledged to appoint judges who would strictly interpret the Constitution on gun rights and other issues. Abortion never came up in his address to about 100 people at a high school, but it did during an exchange with reporters.
“Abortion is not a litmus test. Roe v. Wade is not a litmus test. No particular case is a litmus test. That’s not the way to appoint Supreme Court justices or any judge,” Giuliani said.
Roe v. Wade is the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. Giuliani favors abortion rights though he has said he personally opposes the procedure, a stand that puts him at odds with his rivals and the conservative Republicans who hold sway in the primaries.
In talking to reporters, he said any candidate for federal judgeship would refuse to decide ahead of time on future abortion rulings.
“Otherwise, why have legal arguments if you’re not going to give judges a chance to change their mind,” Giuliani said.
He noted that he got no questions on abortion in his appearance. “I think Roe against Wade is an issue. It is not the only issue,” he said.
At the first Republican debate in May, Giuliani was alone among the GOP candidates in offering a less-than-robust affirmation when asked whether it would be a good day if the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling.
“It would be OK,” Giuliani said. “It would be OK to repeal it.”
But, he added: “It would be OK also if a strict constructionist viewed it as precedent” and kept the law intact.
His promise about judicial appointments is aimed at reassuring conservatives nervous about his more liberal stands on gun control and other issues. As an example, he lauded a federal court ruling that overturned a 30-year-old ban on private ownership of handguns in Washington, D.C.
“The Second Amendment says people have a right to keep and bear arms. Judges interpret the Constitution; they should not be allowed to make it up,” Giuliani said at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School in Council Bluffs.
As mayor, Giuliani pursued gun control laws and lawsuits against gun manufacturers. At a family restaurant in LeMars, Iowa, he said the issue should largely be left up to states.
“No state can completely take away your right to bear arms,” Giuliani said.
Asked whether the country has enough gun laws, Guiliani said that is probably the case.
He said he would appoint judges like Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, two President Bush appointees who were embraced by conservatives for their views on abortion and other issues.
Giuliani mentioned former President Reagan more than half a dozen times, reminding the crowd about how he served as a senior Justice Department official during the Reagan administration.
“He did a very, very good job of, much more often than not, selecting really good judges who would interpret the Constitution in a way that will protect your rights and my rights,” he said. “They’re there to interpret things, not to change things. You have legislators to change things.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Giuliani stopped at the Sloan Cafe in the farming town – population slightly more than 1,000 – to meet voters. About 200 people crowded the two-room cafe, and women stood on chairs to take photographs. Many said they were conservative, especially on abortion and gun control, but were willing to give Giuliani a chance.
Coleen Savage said it’s difficult to support an abortion rights candidate, but Giuliani “can stand up against Hillary.”
“To get the conservative, you’ve got to grit your teeth and take a little bit of the moderate or liberal,” said Savage, a corn-and-soybean farmer.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press
Vatican City – July 18, The Vatican’s No. 2 official defended Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday following a flurry of hard-line Vatican documents, saying he was a sweet, respectful “volcano of creativity.”
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, gave a press conference on a broad array of topics after meeting with Benedict in Italy’s Dolomite mountains, where the pontiff has been vacationing for the past week.
Among other things, Bertone pledged to put more women in high-ranking Vatican positions and said the Vatican might drop a controversial prayer for the conversion of Jews contained in the recently revived old Latin Mass.
He declared the pope’s recent trip to Brazil was not a “flop” as suggested by the media, saying “thousands of people welcomed him.”
Bertone also praised the new bishop of Beijing as a “very good” candidate, even though the pope did not appoint him – further evidence of the Vatican’s efforts to reach a compromise with Beijing over the contentious issue of naming bishops.
Bertone was supposed to have given a talk on his first year as Benedict’s deputy and on the secret of Fatima. Instead, for more than an hour and a half, he took prepared questions from journalists and answered them thoroughly in a rare show of openness from the Vatican.
The event came after a busy few weeks in which the Vatican revived the old Latin Mass in a concession to traditional Catholics and reasserted its universal primacy in a document that riled Protestants because it said they were not true churches.
Bertone sought to soften Benedict’s image, saying he bore no resemblance to the dour professor he is often portrayed as being in the media. He said at his core Benedict was sweet.
To illustrate how respectful he is of others, Bertone said that the pope even refers to him in the formal Italian “lei” – not the familiar “tu” – even though they have been close collaborators for a dozen years.
When Benedict was prefect of the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, he would even ask the youngest, most junior staff member his ideas – always addressing him as “lei,” Bertone said.
And Bertone expressed reverence for Benedict’s intellect, calling him a “volcano of creativity” who can be working on several documents at once, as he is now: a new book and a new encyclical.
Yet the pope also carries the weight of the world’s problems, Bertone said, and is particularly concerned about the situation in Iraq, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, Africa, and the U.S. clergy sex abuse scandal, Bertone said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press
Vatican City – July 17, Catholic clergy in China have named a new bishop for Beijing, reports said Wednesday – the first appointment since Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter to Chinese Catholics urging them to unite under his authority.
The Vatican had no comment on the reports, which said Bishop Joseph Li Shan was selected by a group of Chinese priests, nuns and lay people. While the pope did not name him, Li Shan was apparently on a list of names that the Vatican had indicated it would not object to, the Vatican-affiliated AsiaNews agency reported.
Still, the appointment contravenes the traditional practice in which the pope names bishops. Benedict did not explicitly insist on that right in his June 30 letter to the Catholic faithful in China, taking a more conciliatory approach by saying merely that the Vatican “would desire to be completely free to appoint bishops.”
“I trust that an accord can be reached with the government,” he added.
The Vatican would like to have a formula similar to the one it has with Vietnam, another communist country, where the Vatican proposes a few names and the government selects one.
China forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951, shortly after the officially atheist Communist Party took power. Worship is allowed only in the government-controlled churches, which recognize the pope as a spiritual leader but appoint their own priests and bishops.
Millions of Chinese, however, belong to unofficial congregations that are not registered with the authorities.
Benedict has been trying to reconcile the divisions, and sent the letter to all Catholics in China – which the Vatican estimates at between 8 million to 12 million – in a bid to unite them. In it, he praised the underground faithful but urged them to reconcile with followers in the official church.
At the same time, he called the government-sanctioned China Patriotic Catholic Association “incompatible” with Catholic doctrine.
The Beijing appointment had been closely watched as an early indication of the government’s reaction to Benedict’s letter. The appointment of bishops has been the main stumbling block in resuming relations; China views papal appointments as interference in its internal affairs.
The ANSA news agency quoted the deputy chairman of the Patriotic Association as saying the nomination was not formalized yet, since China’s bishops had yet to approve it.
“It’s too early to speak about contacts with the Vatican,” ANSA quoted him as saying.
AsiaNews said Li Shan had shown independence in his dealings with the Patriotic Association, and was admired by the faithful as a result.
Li Shan replaces Bishop Fu Tieshan, the hard-line chairman of the Patriotic Association who died in April.
In other news Wednesday, AsiaNews reported that Zhao Zhendong, bishop of Xuanhua, had died after a long illness.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Adelle Banks
An interfaith coalition of religious leaders is congratulating
the Bush administration for reaching an agreement with North Korea to
shutdown its nuclear weapons facilities.
“The agreement with North Korea demonstrates the value of diplomacy
in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons,” the leaders said in a
statement released Tuesday. The statement was signed by Catholic and
Episcopal bishops as well as Presbyterian, evangelical and Muslim
“It validates the preferential use of words, rather than war, as a
response to conflict. Our religious traditions teach that efforts should
be made to explore every alternative in resolving a conflict before
going to war,” the faith leaders said.
The State Department announced Saturday that it had been informed
that North Korea had shut down its Yongbyon nuclear complex. The
International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Wednesday that five
facilities, four at Yongbyon and one at Taechon, have been shut down.
The interfaith statement, developed by Faithful Security: The
National Religious Partnership on the Nuclear Weapons Danger, was signed
by a dozen leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.
The signatories included Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine
Jefferts Schori; Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the Islamic
Society of North America; the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of
the Presbyterian Church (USA); Rabbi Gerald Serotta of Temple Shalom in
Chevy Chase, Md.; Bishop Thomas G. Wenski, chairman of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Policy; and
Ronald J. Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action.
They asked the administration to consider a similar strategy with
“The United States should engage Iran in direct negotiations without
preconditions to achieve the goal of preventing the spread of nuclear
weapons and enhancing regional security,” they wrote.
Faithful Security, based in Goshen, Ind., developed after the late
Rev. William Sloane Coffin, a Protestant social activist, convened a
meeting of religious leaders in 2005 to discuss how faith leaders could
address the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Copyright 2007 Religion News Service