Patrick Craine

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Don’t let anyone tell you Pope Francis opposes the pro-life movement

Patrick Craine
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Is Pope Francis asking Catholics to bow out of the culture war?

The liberal elite and Catholic Left want us to think the Pope opposes the pro-life and pro-family movement. But, while he’s certainly made some confusing remarks, his own words and actions make it clear that he firmly supports our cause.

On Saturday, Pope Francis received the Dignitatis Humanae Institute and praised their efforts. DHI is a think tank that advances respect for human dignity in the public square.

The Pope’s support for DHI is significant because of the organization’s staunch stand on the life issue. In particular, they take a position that is oddly controversial in the Church today: namely, that Her ministers ought to deny Communion to openly pro-abortion Catholic politicians in accordance with canon law. To do any less would be “false charity,” the organization stated in October.

Pope Francis made his stance on abortion abundantly clear in his recent apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, in which he condemns abortion as a violation that “cries out in vengeance to God” and insists Church teaching can never change. The unborn today, he says, are “the most defenceless and innocent among us” and are deserving of “particular love and concern.”

Pope Francis here singles out abortion, I would suggest, in a manner comparable to Bl. John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae. In that 1995 encyclical, the late Pope said that while attacks on life such as war, violence, and poverty are grave, abortion is “more sinister” and represents “another category of attack.”

We oughtn’t forget too that Pope Francis was the first Pope to join a March for Life.

Of course, as I mentioned, some of the Pope’s comments have caused a lot of confusion, particularly his suggestion that we shouldn’t be “obsessed” with issues like abortion, contraception, or same-sex “marriage”. These comments – which seem divorced, at least, from the experience in much of North America and Europe, where these issues are raised shockingly little – have given fodder to liberals outside the Church who oppose Her voice in the public square, and to those within the Church who want to wield that voice for their own pet causes.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories by now: A Catholic organization ends its annual fundraiser for the local pro-life group. A priest defends his praise for a pro-abortion politician. A bishop proclaims it’s necessary for a Catholic agency to fund pro-abortion groups, so long as the money goes to other projects. All justified by appealing to the Pope.

Across the Western world, Pope Francis has become the Great Vindication for Catholics who want to cave in to the demands of the world.

Michael Sean Winters, a blogger at the National Catholic Reporter, for one, has been wielding Pope Francis like a weapon against strong cultural voices like Cardinal Raymond Burke, Archbishop Charles Chaput, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Wash., cited the Pope as an indictment of “culture warriors” in an interview with the New York Times at the USCCB meeting last month. “Pope Francis doesn’t want cultural warriors, he doesn’t want ideologues,” the bishop claimed. “That’s the new paradigm for us, and it’s making many of us think.”

Bishop Cupich has taken the Pope’s words as a call for retreat from the most crucial moral, cultural, and political battles of the day. But there’s just no evidence indicating that that’s what the Pope is asking us to do.

To suggest otherwise just makes no sense. If he truly believes that abortion “cries out in vengeance to God,” then how could he possibly ask us to stand by idly while such an act is committed tens of millions of times across the globe every year?

He simply isn’t. In fact, in 2005, while he was a Cardinal in Buenos Aires, the future Pope urged his congregants to promote the Gospel of life even if they “set traps to deliver you to the courts and to have you killed.”

So, while he tells us not to become “obsessed” in our cultural battles, keep in mind that the Pope himself has said we should fight the culture war vigorously, even to the point of death.

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Early 20th century photo depicts Samoan girls preparing for the 'ava ceremony. Wikimedia Commons

Margaret Mead and the quackery that undergirded the Sexual Revolution

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

If Alfred Kinsey of the Kinsey Reports was the “Father of the Sexual Revolution,” perhaps no one woman can be more accurately called the “Mother of the Sexual Revolution” than Margaret Mead.

Margaret Mead was a young anthropologist who set out to help anthropology professor Frank Boas of Columbia University prove a very specific thesis: that a person’s upbringing and environment shaped a person’s actions to a greater extent than genetic factors did. Together with another young scholar named Ruth Benedict, Mead set off to research the indigenous peoples of Samoa, spending nine months there—and the result of their time there was her 1928 book Coming of Age in Samoa.

The so-called revelations in this book left many in the academic world both thunder-struck and ecstatic. Margaret Mead described an idyllic island Eden in which people lived in an almost utopian harmony, with very little competition with one another, a distinct absence of class, and, most importantly, no draconian moral codes that restricted people’s sexual behavior. Rather, teenage Samoans had many sexual partners and were encouraged to engage in this free love South Seas hook-up culture. As Margaret Mead wrote admiringly, a young Samoan girl, “thrusts virtuosity away from her. … All of her interest is expended on clandestine sexual adventures.” Christian morality and natural law, it seemed, were nothing but a hoax.

It is mind-boggling to realize when looking at the body of “scholarly work” produced by people such as Margaret Mead and Alfred Kinsey that brought about such cataclysmic changes in traditional sexual mores that most of this work was shoddy research and wishful thinking.

The impact of this book, much like the impact of the Kinsey Reports several decades later, cannot be underestimated. According to one historian (writing in Ted Byfield’s epic history of Christianity The High Tide and the Turn), “This would prove the most highly circulated anthropological book ever written. It became required reading for all first-year anthropology courses, and played a key role in shaping sex education, criminal law, government social policies, and the popular view of acceptable sexual conduct.”

Or as John Horgan put it in the Scientific American, Mead’s book “posed a challenge to Western sexual mores, which according to Mead inflicted needless suffering on young men and women. The metatheme of Coming of Age and all Mead’s subsequent work was that the way things are is not the way they must or should be; we can choose to live in ways that make us happier and healthier. Her writings helped inspire feminism, the sexual revolution, the human potential movement and other countercultural trends during the 1960s.”

It is mind-boggling to realize when looking at the body of “scholarly work” produced by people such as Margaret Mead and Alfred Kinsey that brought about such cataclysmic changes in traditional sexual mores that most of this work was shoddy research and wishful thinking. (Just as Alfred Kinsey was revealed to be a pansexual hedonist, Margaret Mead’s daughter later revealed that her thrice-married mother had many sexual relationships with women, including her fellow anthropologist Ruth Benedict. When she left for Samoa in 1926, Mead informed her husband that, “I’ll not leave you unless I find someone I love more.”) Yet academic communities, eager for any shred of “evidence” that could disprove Christianity and ensure that God was indeed, as Nietzsche declared, dead, seized onto Mead’s work as yet more proof that Judeo-Christian values were outdated at best, and damaging at worst.

Mead’s work, much like Kinsey’s, has been definitively revealed to be a hoax. Mead set off with conclusions she needed to prove, and simply found the information she needed to substantiate those conclusions, never living with one Samoan family or learning the language in her entire nine month stay. Her information on the sexual culture of the Samoans, it turns out, came almost entirely from two young girls. Mead, working on several projects at once, found herself running out of time to interview adolescent girls. So instead, she decided to befriend two of her female Samoan companions, win their trust, and then obtain from them the information on Samoan sexual culture that she needed. She did not realize that by asking the sensitive and explicit questions she was asking, she was breaching Samoan code of etiquette—and the girls responded by playfully feeding Mead precisely the type of information she wanted to hear. Mead was triumphant, feeling sure that her friendship with these girls had led her to discover the real truth about sexual customs in Samoa. The girls thought the joke they had played on the nosy Western anthropologist was quite funny. Little did they realize that their playful joke would end up informing entire fields of academic study in North America, with decidedly unfunny consequences.

When Dr. Derek Freeman decided, years later, to follow up on Mead’s research and travel to Samoa himself, he found that virtually all of her conclusions had been wrong. Samoans held to a very strict, if not puritanical, code of sexual ethics. There was no South Seas hook-up culture. He even tracked down the two girls Mead had based her analysis of Samoan sexual practices on. As Byfield puts it: “He found these individuals, by now elderly women, and reminded them of Mead’s visit. They began to giggle in embarrassment, he reported, recounting how they had told that white lady such awful lies and stories, not expecting her to believe them. They were sorry now to have so misled her, they said.”

Many in academia, seeing the foundation of so much of their worldview threatened, have savaged and personally maligned and slandered Freeman and other Mead critics. But most of them are now forced to admit that her work on the Samoans was fatally flawed. Unfortunately, our culture has already heeded the wishful thinking of Margaret Mead to such a great extent that much of the damage she has caused cannot be undone. The Sexual Revolutionaries have claimed that with the overthrow of traditional morality, we have freed ourselves to love one another better. I find it sadly ironic that they have backed these claims with the shoddy, self-serving research of people like Alfred Kinsey and Margaret Mead, who did not believe in such quaint and outmoded traditions as fidelity. As time has proven, we have made a tragic mistake by heeding their words.

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Émile Bayard's classic illustration of Cosette in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.

Tracts and sermons alone won’t form pro-life children. Here’s what will.

Anthony Esolen Anthony Esolen Follow Anthony
By Anthony Esolen

What is remarkable in our age is not that half of our citizens believe it is wrong to kill the child in the womb, the child whose existence, except in the rare case of rape, is owing to our own voluntary actions.  That would be like congratulating ourselves for believing that it's wrong to steal someone's car, to lie under oath to hurt an enemy, to throw our aged parents into the street, or to desecrate churches. 

Where is the great moral insight?  What's remarkable instead is that half of us believe it is all right to snuff out the life of that child – because nothing must be allowed to interfere with our “right” to pursue pleasure, as we use the child-making thing as a sweating-off spa on our way to money, prestige, a five-bathroom mansion for two, a tenured chair in Women's Studies, the mayoralty of Camden, another year of nights out on the town, whatever.

How have we come to this pass?  Our imaginations are stunted or diseased, that's how.
 Let churchgoers beware.  You cannot spread pro-life icing on a cake made of flour and rat poison.  Our children meet with rat poison everywhere. 

Do they watch Friends on television, that un-funny amoral “comedy” about nihilist young urbanites trading depressions in the mattress with one another?  Rat poison.  Do they watch movies like – well, the moronic Titanic, wherein a shrewish girl and a pouty boy fornicate before they are swallowed by the deep blue sea?  Rat poison.  Do their school teachers feed them such exalted lyric poetry as that of Sylvia Plath, imagining what it would be like to smash her sleeping husband's head like a rotten pumpkin?  Or the bogus Laramie Project, making a hero out of a deeply disturbed young man, killed in a meth deal?  Or Toni Morrison's maudlin obsessions with race and adultery?  Is it an endless cafeteria of ghouls, vampires, girl-murderers – Lord of the Flies, without the severe moral imagination and the talent of William Golding?  Lord of the Flies, Lady of the Flies, Cheerleaders of the Flies, Lifeguard of the Flies, Mr. Goodbar of the Flies, Fight Club of the Flies, Hunger of the Flies?  Rat poison, with that peculiar character of rat poison, that the more the critter consumes, the thirstier it grows. 

Vice is the addiction that mimics the habit of virtue.  One hour a week on Sunday does not flush out the strychnine.  Theology lessons are band-aids when your arteries are porous inside.  The forming of a moral imagination is not something additional in the education of a child.  It is the education of a child. 

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Your child sees a commercial for Planned Predators.  The commercial baldly states that it doesn't matter who your “partners” are, how many you have, or what you do – because you are the only one who has any say in the matter, and nobody has the right to judge you.  This is not the morality of a cad or a tramp.  Cads and tramps have attacks of conscience.  It is the bland oh-so-self-assured anti-morality of a demon.  It is one hundred proof grain stupidity.  It is distilled evil.  Now, we want to raise children who will do more than say, “I don't agree with that.”  Wonderful enlightenment! 

We want to raise children who would look upon anyone who uttered such a thing as they would look upon someone who would fish his food out of a septic tank: incomprehensible, base, inhuman, insane.  That's the negative.  Let me give the positive.  We want to raise children who will understand and cherish the virtues of love and purity.  Those virtues must not remain mere terms or notions.  We must clothe them with flesh and blood.  Consider the following scene from Victor Hugo's masterpiece, Les Miserables.  Two pure young people, Marius and Cosette, have long beheld one another from a distance.  They have fallen in love, and finally, after many months and much seeking, the youth and the maiden meet and speak.  Here is how Hugo describes what they do every evening:

Throughout the month of May . . . in that poor, wild garden, under that shrubbery each day more perfumed and dense, two human beings composed of every chastity and every innocence, overflowing with all the felicities of Heaven, closer to archangels than men, pure, honest, intoxicated, radiant, glowed for each other in the darkness.  It seemed to Cosette that Marius had a crown, and to Marius that Cosette had a halo.  They touched, they gazed at each other, they clasped hands, they pressed close together; but there was a distance they did not pass.  Not that they respected it; they were ignorant of it.  Marius felt a barrier, Cosette's purity, and Cosette had a support, Marius' loyalty.  The first kiss was also the last.  Since then, Marius had not gone beyond touching Cosette's hand, or her scarf, or her curls, with his lips.  Cosette was to him a perfume, and not a woman.  He breathed her.  She refused nothing and he asked nothing.  Cosette was happy, and Marius was satisfied.  They were living in that ravishing condition that might be called the dazzling of one soul by another.  It was that ineffable first embrace of two virginities within the ideal.

Victor Hugo was a man well acquainted with the squalor of the streets, and the wicked things that people do to themselves and one another.  His blood ran hot, not cold – hot with indignation against the wickedness, and hot with greathearted love for what is noblest in man; with what he would call the work of God in man.  Our purveyors of rat poison have not witnessed one hundredth of the miseries and the sins that he witnessed!  But they turn our children's vision to what is dark and dead, and he raises our eyes to the everlasting hills, whence cometh our help.


We want to raise boys like Marius and girls like Cosette.  We cannot do it with tracts in church teaching and a sermon on Sunday, as needful as those things are.  They may give us the moral, but they do not nourish the imagination.  Without story, without flesh and blood, they flare in the ear but do not ring in the conscience.  Hence the need for art and song, for stories and poetry.  Jesus taught in parables.  These are not just instruments.  They are of the essence.

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If you find this filthy book in your home, burn it

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

I don’t believe in book-burnings, but for the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy, I’ll make an exception. I prefer charred books to scarred people.

The 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy, for those of you living outside “civilization,” is a repulsive and poisonous stack of porn novels that celebrates the seduction and manipulation of an insecure girl by a powerful businessman who happens to like spending his recreational time engaging in what is now popularly known as “BDSM.” For those of you who are fortunate enough never to have heard of this glorification of sexual assault, the acronym stands for bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism. In 50 Shades of Grey, the man in question inflicts all sorts of pain on the girl, because he is a sadist, which used to be a bad thing. (How utterly confusing it is to see the “feminists” of Planned Parenthood and elsewhere celebrating this phenomenon—wasn’t domination something they sought to subvert? Didn’t bondage used to be something one wanted to be freed from? And sado-masochism—I could vomit.) And now this trash has been developed into a film, the trailer of which is all over Facebook.

50 Shades of Grey and the new “BDSM” phenomenon are nothing more than the celebration of pain, rape, and destruction.

A lot of people seem to be taken with these books, especially based on the number of people I’ve seen unashamedly reading it at airports. These porn novels are “hot,” many reviewers tell us confidently. Yes, hot as Hell and halfway there, I think.

Consider this, for just a moment: In a culture where broken families are often the norm, we have a generation of girls often growing up without fathers, never receiving the paternal love and affection that they need. Thus the famous “Daddy Issues” that so many comedy sitcoms repulsively mock, as if hurting girls seeking love and affection in all the wrong places is some sort of joke. Conversely, boys are also growing up without fathers, never having a positive male role model in the home to teach them how to treat women with love and respect. And what is teaching them how to treat girls? At an enormous rate, the answer is online pornography, which increasingly features vicious violence against girls and women. The average first exposure of boys to pornography is age eleven. It is an absolutely toxic mess—insecure and hurting girls seek love from boys who have been taught how to treat them by the most vicious of pornography.

Introduce into this situation a book, written by a woman, glorifying the idea that girls should expect or even enjoy pain and torture inside of a sexual relationship. How does a girl, insecure and unsure, know what to think? The culture around her now expects her not to need a safe relationship, but a “safe word” to employ in case her sadist partner gets a bit too carried away in the pain-making. Boys who might never have dreamed of asking a girl to subject herself to such pain and humiliation are now of course emboldened to request or even expect this fetishized sexual assault as a matter of course in a relationship. After all, much of pornography now features this degradation of girls and women, and a woman wrote a book celebrating such things. It might seem sadistic and rapey, but hey, sexual freedom has allowed us to celebrate “bondage” and sexual liberation has allowed us to liberate our darkest demons from the recesses of our skulls and allow them out to play in the bedroom. Boys used to get taught that they shouldn’t hit girls, but now the culture is telling them that it’s actually a turn-on.

I genuinely feel sorry for many teenage girls trying to navigate the new, pornified dating landscape. I genuinely feel sorry for the legions of fatherless boys, exposed to pornography before they even had a chance to realize what it was, enfolded by the tentacles of perverted sexual material before they even realize what, exactly, they are trifling with. It brings to mind something C.S. Lewis once wrote: “Wouldn't it be dreadful if some day in our own world, at home, men start going wild inside, like the animals here, and still look like men, so that you'd never know which were which.”

50 Shades of Grey and the new “BDSM” phenomenon are nothing more than the celebration of pain, rape, and destruction. Find out if the “sex educators” in your area are pushing this garbage, and speak out. Join campaigns to make sure that promotion of this filth isn’t being funded by your tax dollars. And if you find these books in your home, burn them.

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