Steve Jalsevac

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Vatican’s handling of Pope’s interview “another public-relations debacle”?

Steve Jalsevac

It has been a wild ride for the pro-life, pro-family movement since the release last Thursday of the lengthy Jesuit magazine interview with Pope Francis. Most of the world's secular media have taken the most self-serving interpretations of what the pope said. And those reports have just kept coming and coming.

One particular AP story was picked up by many news outlets. Friday morning I sat down to read a national newspaper, and had to endure the following disturbing, front page intro to that article which I knew millions of others were likely also reading:

"Pope Francis has warned that the Catholic Church’s moral structure might “fall like a house of cards” if it doesn’t balance its divisive rules about abortion, gays and contraception with the greater need to make the church a merciful, more welcoming place for all.

But his vision of what the church should be stands out, primarily because it contrasts so sharply with many of the priorities of his immediate predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. They were both intellectuals for whom doctrine was paramount, an orientation that guided the selection of a generation of bishops and cardinals around the globe" - blah, blah; blah.

Another AP story noted:

"But in blunt terms, in an interview published Thursday in 16 Jesuit journals worldwide, the new pope Francis called the church’s focus on abortion, marriage and contraception narrow and said it was driving people away. Now, the U.S. bishops face a challenge to rethink a strategy many considered essential for preserving the faith.

“I don’t see how the pope’s remarks can be interpreted in any other way than arguing that the church’s rhetoric on the so-called culture war issues needs to be toned down,” said John Green, a religion specialist at the University of Akron’s Bliss Institute of Applied Politics. “I think his language calls for less stridency on these issues.”'

And Time wrote:

"And he may have won over a whole new crowd who have grown disillusioned with organized religion, after he chastised the Roman Catholic Church for being "obsessed" with abortion, contraception, and gay marriage. Francis' remarks, published in 16 Jesuit journals worldwide, have rocked the Catholic world.

As recently as last year, Pope Benedict XVI called gay marriage a threat to "human dignity and the future of humanity itself." Compare that to Pope Francis, who said in Rio de Janeiro this summer, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

The article then went on to urge that the Pope's new way of thinking needs to be taken up by the Republican Party that should change its strong pro-life, pro-family platform.

That is just a tiny preview of numerous similar articles and television and radio reports and commentaries that were issued in response to the published Jesuit magazines' interview. They have been very distressing for many who have been giving their lives to the cause of life and family at this time when their struggles have become more difficult than ever.

Some in the orthodox Catholic and pro-life world really lost their cool over all this and unfortunately pounced on Pope Francis for what he said. Not good. We had to remove more than a few rather hysterical or nasty comments from imprudent individuals from under our two reports related to the interview.

Most however, took the pope at his word that he is obviously one with the Church's teachings. However, they had to spend some time trying to figure out exactly what Francis really said and meant by his not necessarily clear remarks as I mused about in my Friday blog.

As it turns out there appears to have been a major failure to communicate beforehand with certain Vatican parties so that quick clarifications would be immediately available when the inevitable flood of misrepresentations or highly selective quoting from the document would begin.

Well respected Catholic commentator Phil Lawler of Catholic Culture noted today that this was "Yet another Vatican PR debacle":

"Whether you think The Interview was a coup or a disaster—or something in between—we should all be able to agree that the Vatican’s handling of the Pope’s blockbuster was another public-relations debacle.

Ironically, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications was meeting in Rome when the news broke. Greg Erlandson, the publisher of Our Sunday Visitor, who was at the meeting, observes that Church leaders had no warning about the interview."

So, huge problems resulted, calling for major damage control.

There were some faithful Catholics who respectfully expressed sincere concerns, not about Pope Francis's fidelity, but rather the wisdom of his strategy in the interview. They tended to be roasted over the coals by fellow Catholics who tolerate zero questioning of anything any Pope would say.

In his National Catholic Register blog today, Pat Archbold refers to this troublesome intolerance.

In his article, "The Loyal Opposition" Archbold writes, "It seems to me that we have arrived at the point where mere disagreement on tactics is viewed as akin to treason."

Non-Catholic Peter LaBarbara of Americans for Truth about homosexuality also expressed concerns  about last week's published interview and the spontaneous press conference on the airplane coming back from Brazil. He wrote:

"...the great fear that I and many like-minded pro-family advocates share (including several Catholic friends with whom I’ve spoken) is that the pope is naive about the aggressive homosexualist agenda. Pro-”gay” ideologues are cunning and tactical — they are already using the pope’s words to advocate ideas that he surely condemns. While laying claim to the Gospel and noble concepts like tolerance and equality, they have brought corruption and destruction to many institutions, of which the Catholic Church is but one.

We understand that the pope is not embracing a change in Church doctrine, and that he truly wants to help homosexual strugglers come to God. But at the same time we recognize that words matter in this debate — indeed, they often drive it."

Lastly though, Fr. Frank Pavone, the Director of Priests for Life and one of the world's foremost pro-life evangelists and activists, was fortunate to be in Rome these past few days. He is there at the invitation of the Vatican to speak, as he wrote today, "about the Church's defense of the unborn child, and about the clear and strong position of the Church, expressed in many documents, that the right to life is our first right and the foundation and condition for all the others."

Fr. Pavone went on:

"I was asked by many alarmed and confused people these past few days about the reported comments of the Pope that the Church should not be "obsessed" with this issue, and that there should be "balance" and "context.

Is the pope saying we should talk less about abortion? Is he saying that the emphasis the Church has placed on this issue has been a mistaken emphasis?"

Amazingly, Fr. Pavone continued:

"When I first received these inquiries via emails and text messages, I was actually in the presence of Pope Francis, in the dining room of his residence.

So the news came to me with more than a little irony, and I immediately began to tell worried pro-life warriors that they had no reason to think that the Pope no longer wanted the Church to focus on abortion.

Pope Francis preaches on pro-life in a very integral way. He gives strong and clear messages that derive from the very substance of the Faith and a very broad vision of the demands that Faith places upon us. The conclusions and applications for the pro-life movement are undeniable, even if he does not use the specific words “pro-life movement” and “unborn.”

You can read the full letter from Fr. Pavone here where he expands on his comments.

But to finish I quote perhaps the key paragraph in Fr. Pavone's letter stating that the Holy Father's "approach radically strengthens the Church's opposition to abortion, because the Pope is saying not simply that it breaks the Fifth Commandment ("You shall not kill"), but that more fundamentally it breaks the First Commandment ("You shall not have other gods besides me") and that to disrespect life is to abandon God himself."

That is actually the direction that many in the pro-life and pro-family movements have been going for years, but something really got lost in the translation, so to speak, over this Jesuit magazine interview.

So, that is the latest that I am aware of. There will certainly be much more written and said about this issue in the days and weeks to come and hopefully there will be much more clarification for the world's media and the dissenting Catholics who have also been exploiting the Pope's off-the-cuff interviews with glee.

It will be extremely difficult to undo all the negatives that have been written, but given the massive popularity of this charismatic Pope, we might actually end up better off in the near future in this great battle of life vs Death, once all is said and done.

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We are all in big trouble if the Synod radicals get their way

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

At first glance, Monday’s story on the sexual escapades of UK bishop Kieran Conry might be seen as inappropriate scandal mongering better kept out of the public light. A closer reading reveals something entirely different. The article is instead an instructive expose related to calls from some clergy for the upcoming Synod on the Family to dramatically loosen application of Church moral teachings.

The bishop Conry report presents a timely example of just one of numerous dissenting Catholic clergy, publicly opposed to or far too quietly, if at all, defending the Church’s moral teachings, who in the end are frequently found to have been so because they have been violating those teachings in their personal lives. This is something LifeSite has encountered very frequently over the years, especially among, but not limited to homosexual clergy.

The other notable aspect of Monday’s report is that the bishop’s double life was known to other clergy and hierarchy and yet no one acted upon the scandal. That was one contributing factor to the great sex abuse scandals. The almost universal unwillingness or fear of clergy to hold their brother priests and bishops to account for serious misbehaviour is another common occurrence that seriously needs addressing. Allowing a loosening of Church moral teaching or pastoral application to develop out of the upcoming synod on the family is unlikely to address or correct anything.

On July, 2012 I wrote the article, A still very serious problem in the Catholic Church that needs to be dealt with, referring to the major cancer in the Church of unrepentant active homosexual clergy.

That first article was followed by another on January 2013 titled, Something to be dealt with in the churches - urgently and forcefully. Although, the Bishop Conry story is not about homosexuality, it still fits in with the rejection of Catholic moral teaching narrative and the abuse of power by those using their Church-given status and authority to advance and protect their personal sexual proclivities. Also, as usually happens in such cases, Conry was known to be receptive to Catholic homosexual organizations that dissent from Church teaching.

Those who have been warning about all of this for decades have had to endure much disbelief, ridicule and persecution. And yet, over and over, they have been proven to be right, but at what terrible cost to innocent victims and to the Church as a whole.

Pope Benedict XVI finally took very strong, long overdue actions against sexually abusive or wrong living clergy and for this he earned absolute hatred from many quarters within the Church. I have no doubt whatever that this was somehow one of the major reasons for his abdication.

But Benedict had something to say during a lecture on March 22, 1986 about the Church permitting those given teaching authority to abuse the sacredness of that  authority given to them. He stated:

“Those who speak about abuse of power regarding the way teaching in the Church is disciplined, today are thinking only of the usual abuse of power from those in the Church that have this duty. However, forgotten, instead, is that there is also an abuse of power given by means of the mandate to teach; this is the abuse of those who take advantage, for a purely private word, of that readiness to listen and of that trust which is given, even today, to the word of the Church.

Church authority becomes an accomplice in this abuse of power if it tolerates that this is done without qualms, and so places its authority there where it is not allowed. For her [the Church], concern for the faith of the little ones must be more important than fearing the opposition of the powerful.

One thing that the Second Vatican Council emphasized was the role of the laity in the Church, but as any outspoken, well-informed, faithful Catholic layman or laywoman has learned since that time, domineering clericalism is nevertheless still very much alive. That is, the dissident liberals do not tolerate truly faithful Catholics having any significant influence on the Church. The dissidents are often ruthless and tend to lord it over faithful Catholics.

The synod is revealing deep divisions within the Church, divisions that have already been there for many years. Now some feel confident, for whatever reason, to be more open about their rejection of the Church's moral teachings and to press it to actually change its ways and get with the modern world – even if that contradicts Christ’s explicit words.

We cannot allow that to happen. That is because we know for certain what greater suffering and evil such rejection of the moral norms will bring into the world. As an evangelical acquaintance recently told me in a lengthy conversation a few weeks ago, “everyone looks to the Catholics to be the guys that we can always rely on to stay strong on marriage and the family. If you guys let up we are all in big trouble.”

Yes, Bishop Conly shows what really big trouble we are heading for if we do not take strong action now to have this corruption within the Catholic Church rooted out. Benedict knew what he was doing. 

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Why is the Vatican stumbling into climate controversy?

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

It was dismaying to read two recent statements associated with Catholic Church and many other religious leaders on the climate change issue. One is the Interfaith statement on climate change  co-signed by 1) Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, the lead cardinal in Pope Francis’s gang of 8, but here representing the Church’s international aid organization, Caritas Internationalis, 2) Father Michael Czerny, representing the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and, surprisingly, 3) John Cardinal Onaiyekan from Nigeria, a very solid cardinal who was likely co-opted into this. Among the many questionable pronouncements in the document that seems to accept climate alarmism as gospel truth is the line, “We recognize that climate change stands today as a major obstacle to the eradication of poverty.” What? 

Then there was the September 23 address  at the United Nations by Cardinal Pietro Parolin in which he stated, “The scientific consensus is rather consistent and it is that, since the second half of the last century, warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” The problem is that he is dead wrong. The evidence and consensus now amongst any honest scientists is that there has not been any warming for at least the past 16 and possibly even up to 26 years years. It has stopped. In fact we may be in for a long term period of cooling. Cardinal Parolin should get new advisors.

The global warming/climate controversy has been driven and manipulated especially by  population control, global governance and environmental extremist forces and those with additional agendas, such as personal financial gain (Al Gore). Massive fraud or gross errors in conclusions have been repeatedly exposed, yet anyone who dares to point out these things in the falsely claimed “settled” science” is ridiculed and threatened with loss of funds, careers or worse. They are even threatened with charges of treason, other high crimes or threatened with execution. It gives you an idea of the totalitarian mindset of many of the people behind this movement.

Today’s persistence of the global warning/climate change alarmism in the face of the mountain of evidence in recent years undermining their claims has changed the movement into more of a cultish religion. It’s adherents are doing whatever they can to convert the entire world to their one religion which has as its goal to change how all people and nations of the world live their lives.

Sadly, Catholic hierarchy, bishops’ conferences and even the Vatican have been entering into support of this movement and controversy which is far beyond their realm of competence. They see it a “social justice” issue, but the difficulty is in sorting out who is really telling the truth. It is noteworthy that the usual liberal, social justice minded Catholics who place the life and family issues as a low priority are usually the Catholics who are most into the global warming, bottled water, environmental issues and changing political structures agendas as their highest priorities.

LifeSite and especially myself have been following this issue for years. All the usual suspects in the anti-human population control movement have been very prominent in the global warming alarmism, as has the world governance crowd at the UN and elsewhere. Search for "global warming" and "climate change" (the term used during the cold winter months) in the Lifesite search and then start reading if you want compelling evidence. There is a great deal.

As I have said, there has not been any warming for quite a few years now. The Arctic sea ice has been massively growing rather than reducing, directly contrary to the alarmists dire warnings. The Antarctic sea ice has grown to the largest volume ever recorded. Polar bears have been thriving for years. Man made global warming/climate change alarmism has been largely one of the greatest scams ever, with a small amount of truth to it. 

There has always been climate change throughout the world’s history. It has shifted greatly over the centuries and millenia. Ice ages and very warm periods have come and gone without any influence from humans. The exact causes for this are still far from being fully understood, but the phenomenon is now being manipulated for a particular ideology. The Church is making a mistake by allowing its genuine concern for the poor and for creation to be co-opted by ideologues.

Global warming/climate change has been a very convenient vehicle for generating great fear to stampede the public and especially easily frightened children and youth into accepting radical political, economic and other changes that they would otherwise not accept. Even some church leaders, it seems, have not been beneath exploiting this fear for leftist “social justice” agendas. Others, however are genuinely concerned, but themselves manipulated in their ignorance and naive goodwill by alarmists.

I don’t like all this. In fact I am very upset about it. You should be too. In fact it is downright dangerous to our freedoms as well as a very serious threat to life and family. 

Just to clarify, we should all be concerned about pollution. That is an altogether different issue. A real issue. But even then often greatly exaggerated. The Western developed nations have made great strides in the past few decades reducing pollution. It has been amazing. And yet the environmental extremists are far from satisfied. One big reason is that they are hard core de-populationsts. They want much of the earth given back to animals and the rest of nature. No kidding.

I would strongly urge you to watch this amazing video that I have watched myself for the first time only today. In it Weather Channel Founder John Coleman explains the history of the Global Warming hoax. He includes much that I have become aware of and more. It is very well done and well worth spending the 36 minutes to become well informed on such a huge issue that we are being propagandized on every day in all of the media and in all of our schools and universities. 

Here are just a few other related LifeSite linked items:

Global Warming Science? Nope, Global Warming Scam
by Steven W. Mosher

LSN NewsBytes - Climate Change/Global Warming Nov 20, 2009
Lord Christopher Monckton Video (another excellent video giving a powerful overview)

Environmentalists claim contraception, Agenda 21 will end global warming

Catholic Cardinal and Bishop Condemn Climate Change Extremism, Radical Environmentalism

Editorial: Pope Speaks on Church’s “Grave Misgivings” about Modern Environmentalism 

Pope Benedict Reframing Environment Issues to Include Humanity, Born and Unborn

Obama’s green energy commitment part of oppressive new environmental, anti-human religion

LSN NewsBytes - Global Warming and Radical Environmentalism

NewsBytes - Climate change, global warming - Dec. 2, 2011

NewsBytes July 2, 2011 - Environmental Extremism

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Mugging by Catholic bloggers

Steve Jalsevac
Steve Jalsevac

Now and then various Church officials complain about deeply uncharitable and harmful discussions on some Catholic blogs. Facebook, blogs, Twitter and even email can each far too easily allow angry thoughts that cross people’s minds to be published for all the world to see without the sober second thought that would naturally accompany face-to-face or spoken communication.

There was a recent attack against LifeSiteNews from a very well known Catholic writer and another such writer and her husband. Using these means of unfiltered near-instant communications, they poured calumny and invective on LifeSiteNews and our talented and committed staff.

Critics who obviously know very little about us, how we function, and our editorial decision-making penned very harsh judgments about our motives and other aspects of our work.

Here are just a few samples of what was what posted on the Facebook pages of various well-known and prolific Catholic writers:

  • “Two sentences that make me turn on my bullshit detector: ones that start, ‘Guess what Pope Francis just did?’ and ones that start, ‘According to LifeSiteNews . . . ‘”
  • “lying assholes who attack the Church”
  • “lazy, biased, and stupid reporting”
  • “no respect for LSN as a whole”
  • “an organization with a bad reputation”
  • “no news sense and no conscience”
  • hang your “head in shame for attempting to bring division in the Church through inaccurate and dishonest reporting”
  • “anti-Catholic bias”
  • “They have a distorted view of reality, and no conscience when it comes to reporting lies in order to advance the agenda.”
  • “sleazier than the National Enquirer”
  • “They don't actually do any reporting. They rewrite a lot of other people's reporting without checking facts or giving attribution.”
  • “The narcissism and pride is epic.”

Criticism naturally comes with the territory of journalism and should always be expected. However, when this kind of crude assault is hurled so recklessly from fellow Catholics or other Christians, it does leave us unsettled. Moreover, when such vile language and character assassination comes from Catholics who are published at influential Catholic publications, it is also a concern for the writers’ own Catholic reputation and that of their employers.

LifeSiteNews does not claim to be a Catholic organization. We have many good and faithful Catholics on staff, but we do not claim to be a Catholic organization and our reporting is intended for people of all faiths and even no faith. 

Nothing written by LifeSiteNews ever remotely approaches the level of calumny in the condemnations and criticisms seen in the Facebook posts mentioned. We explicitly forbid our writers from making such comments and are constantly removing similar comments from readers commenting under our reports. That is not free speech. We consider it to be an abuse of freedom. We also have a policy of never responding in kind to such comments.

However, a natural response is: “Where is the Christianity in any of these comments?” It boggles the mind that anyone would publicly exhibit such a total lack of charity for all the world to see and think that they are thus exhibiting love of God or properly defending the Church or Pope Francis.

We often encourage our readers to be very respectful in any communications they make in response to our reports. We recognize that condemnatory, hostile, and disrespectful communications will always cause harm and hardly ever help advance the cause of life and family.

Why the scandal of such ad-hominem attacks are permitted by well-known Catholic websites is a puzzle. LifeSiteNews is only one of many victims who have been targeted and at times harmed by these all-too-frequent, very uncharitable, and careless blog postings over the years. 

Productive dialogue is impossible without mutual respect. Still, we never close the door to future communications if circumstances change. Many of us on the LifeSiteNews team have gone through major life conversions, so we understand the importance of forgiveness and charity.

One of our team did attempt to reach out and dialogue. Unfortunately, all attempts to respond to the criticism charitably, humbly, and privately, resulted in further, public attacks against the professionalism and integrity of LifeSiteNews, and on the personal character of LifeSiteNews personnel.

At LifeSiteNews we welcome feedback and reasoned, respectful criticism. When readers feel we are not doing the job, or are not doing it well, we take it seriously. We try to respond with charity, humility, and clarity.

The feedback we’ve received over the years has varied wildly from being told we are “doing the work of Satan” to the more usual one that we are doing God’s work. We‘ve been told more times than we can count, in emails and personal encounters with readers, that our reports are among the most reliable, trustworthy, and professionally written on the Internet on the issues that we cover. That is truly our aim. We pray and work every day to arrive at that lofty goal. And with your support, your prayers, and your constructive advice, I’m sure we can maintain our current high level of reporting while always striving to improve it even more.

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