Thursday, February 16, 2012

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White House claim that 98% of Catholic women use contraception a ‘damned lie’: Lutheran author

by Christine Dhanagom Thu Feb 16 17:39 EST Comments (26)

 
Mollie Ziegler Hemingway

February 16, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An oft-repeated claim from a White House official about the rate of contraceptive use among Catholics has touched off a firestorm of controversy, with some contending that the statistic is not only irrelevant to the legitimacy of the HHS birth control mandate, but also grossly inaccurate.

Critics of the statistic point out that the study on which it is based was conducted by the research organization founded by Planned Parenthood, and that the study was explicitly designed to include only women who were most likely to use contraception – and excluded those most likely to follow Catholic teaching on the issue.

At issue is a statement posted on the White House blog earlier this month by Cecilia Munoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, defending the Health and Human Service mandate which requires employers to pay for contraception and abortion-inducing drugs on their employee’s health plans.

“According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, most women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used contraception,” Munoz wrote. 

Catholic teaching forbids the use of contraception, but permits couples to space children using natural family planning if necessary.

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Munoz’s claim has been repeated au nauseam in press reports and by pro-abortion organizations, and was defended on the left-leaning site PolitiFact.org, which rated the statement “mostly true.”

The site took Munoz to task for neglecting to mention that the study only included sexually active women, but claimed that this was “not a large clarification,” since “most women in the study, including 70 percent of unmarried Catholic women, were sexually experienced.”

Neither Munoz nor Politifact mentioned that the organization that conducted the study, the Guttmacher Institute, is the research institute founded by Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.

The statistic’s source, in fact, has rarely been cited by any of the major media outlets that have reported on it, noted Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, a Washington DC reporter and Lutheran author of “Losing Our Religion.”

“That’s not even OK for opinion pieces, much less news articles,” she wrote in a post on GetReligion.org, a website dedicated to exposing media misinformation about religion.

But this is far from being the only missing piece of information, says Hemingway, who calls the White House’s claim a “damned lie.”

Even using the study’s own numbers, the figure should be 87%, since the 98% figure includes those who reported using “no method” of contraception, whereas the remaining 2% consists of those who report using Natural Family Planning.

However, contends Hemingway and other critics of the study, the actual figure is probably even lower than that, since, she says, “the study was designed to find only women who would be most likely to use contraception.”

Hemingway cites an analysis by writer Lydia McGrew, who observes that the study was designed to measure contraceptive use exclusively among women who would have some reason to use contraception.

Because of this, it included only women of child-bearing age, and excluded those who were celibate, pregnant, post-partum, or trying to get pregnant.

McGrew points out that unmarried Catholic women who are faithful to the Church’s teachings are disproportionately more likely to be celibate, and married Catholic women faithful to the Church’s teachings are disproportionately more likely to be pregnant, post-partum, trying to get pregnant, or simply not trying to avoid pregnancy.

For those who are trying to paint a picture that Catholic women do not follow the teaching of their church on contraception, “these statistics are bogus,” she says.

However, she also points out, at the end of the day, the statistic is actually irrelevant.

“If a bunch of Quakers turn out to have gun licenses, employees of an expressly Quaker organization are not therefore entitled to have their fees paid to a shooting range or their ammo provided at no cost through an employer plan,” writes McGrew.

She adds: “There is this commonsense notion that organizations that are explicitly identified as religious are allowed to uphold the actual doctrinal and behavioral standards of their respective religious bodies. Whether the rank and file membership of that religious body follow those standards in daily life should be irrelevant.”

Tags: birth control mandate

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Pro-life nuns: We’re not exempt - Obama mandate would force us ‘to pay for abortion-inducing drugs’

by Kathleen Gilbert Thu Feb 16 17:02 EST Comments (83)

 

February 16, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Sisters of Life, a group of Catholic nuns who take a sacred vow to “protect and enhance the sacredness of human life,” say they don’t fall under the narrow religious exemption under the Obama administration’s new insurance mandate, meaning the rule would force them to break their promises to God.

“This mandate will gravely violate the individual and collective religious liberties of the Sisters of Life and millions of others by forcing us to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and artificial contraception against our conscience,” said the sisters in a statement Thursday.

The religious order said that their special fourth vow is “at the heart of our identity as a religious community, and is a profound expression of the religious and spiritual commitment of each of our Sisters. This new rule pays no heed to our right to live according to our vows.”

“Since we are neither employers, nor employees, of any religious institution, we cannot even take advantage of the ‘religious exemption’ contained in the new regulations or the ‘compromise,’” the sisters said. “As a result, this mandate would coerce each and every individual Sister of Life to betray her religious vows. ...

“To us, it would be comparable to a law requiring a spouse to violate their marriage vows — an unthinkable intrusion upon a sacred promise.”

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The Sisters of Life were founded in 1991 by Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, a forceful opponent of abortion.

The religious group numbers among countless Catholic universities, hospitals, and charities that are not covered by the religious exemption in the mandate. President Obama last Friday said he would “adjust” the mandate by forcing health insurers to offer religious employees birth control for “free,” a move criticized by Catholic groups, including the U.S. bishops, as vastly inadequate.

Although the Sisters said they are proud of their American heritage, “now we are faced with a government decision that is not only a grave affront to the religious liberty and rights of conscience of every citizen of the United States, but also an offense to each Sister of Life in a particular way.”

“The only just solution to this infringement of rights is to rescind the HHS rule,” they write.

“We call upon members of Congress and the Executive Branch to reverse this decision as soon as possible, and we invite our fellow citizens to join with us in prayer and fasting that our Nation may be protected from this great threat against liberty.”

Read the Sisters’ full statement here.

Tags: abortion, birth control mandate, sisters of life

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Performing abortions is ‘extremely gratifying’ - leading UK abortionist

by Hilary White, Rome Correspondent Thu Feb 16 15:19 EST Comments (54)

LONDON, February 16, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) –  Killing children by abortion is “extremely gratifying” according to a leading UK abortionist. Dr. Patricia Lohr told an audience of abortion advocates meeting in London in September that she could never have fully understood or agreed with the abortionist philosophy until she actually started committing abortions herself.

Lohr said that abortion is “self-evidently” moral and explained that she began to conduct 2nd trimester surgical abortions during her training as a physician. She said that she performs abortions “as early as possible and as late as necessary” and that she was unapologetic about being “pro-choice, pro-child and pro-abortion.”

Dr. Lohr, the medical director of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), one of the UK’s busiest abortion organizations, said that all medical practitioners should be willing to refer for abortions, even if they would not conduct the practice themselves for moral reasons.

“It’s crucial for abortionists to talk about abortion as a good thing,” she said, speaking of her personal enthusiasm for the abortionist ideology since encountering it first in New York as a teenager and later as the founder of a “pro-choice” group in medical school.

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In her talk, Dr. Lohr accused pro-life activists in the Operation Rescue movement of “violence” when they tried to shut down abortion facilities in New York in the 1980s, while Lohr acted as an abortion “escort” at 19.

In medical school, “abortion took on new dimensions” for her as “an issue of medical education.”

“Providing abortions to me at that time was self-evidently moral, particularly when we were told by older doctors about the ‘old days’ when abortion was illegal. [About] wards full of septic women, injured women, dead women. Legality and rights became evident to me as necessary but not sufficient.

“For me, my thinking about being pro-choice evolved. I could only be committed to pro-choice by performing abortions,” she said.

The comments became public after a report was published last week on the internet by a pair of pro-life advocates, Daniel Blackman and Paul Smeaton, who work with the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

“It is horrifying,” Blackman, who attended the public meeting, told LifeSiteNews.com. “An abortionist’s desperate act of rationalisation of an unspeakable evil.”

Blackman, who published his report of the event on SPUC’s youth blog, “Why I am Pro-Life,” wrote that for a meeting advertised as public, it was difficult to find. Despite expectations of a large crowd, he said, “there were no more than about forty five people, including the speakers.”

“Most attendees were older women, and clearly people already working in the abortion industry in one way or another.”

“This ‘public’ meeting had more of the feel of a closed, private meeting and in reality this was little more than the abortion lobby speaking about and to itself,” Blackman said.

“The abortion lobby have good reason for wanting to keep these sorts of meetings as small, internal affairs. It is in these sorts of environments in which their true face and their radical anti-life agenda is revealed.”

The meeting was organized by the abortion industry lobby group Voice for Choice, a consortium of organizations dedicated to loosening Britain’s abortion law to allow abortion on demand and the expansion of abortion training in medical schools, as well as forcing legalization on Northern Ireland.

Dr. Lohr, who has pressed for making abortion training mandatory for all medical students, is a long-time abortionist and dedicated agitator for restriction-free, legal abortion, paid for by the state. In July last year as medical director of BPAS, she reiterated her demand that all medical students be required to participate in abortion.

She was responding to a report in the July 2011 Journal of Medical Ethics that said almost half of the 733 medical students polled believe doctors should be allowed to refuse “to perform any procedure to which they object on moral, cultural or religious grounds, such as prescribing contraception or treating someone who is drunk or high on drugs.”

Almost a third would refuse to commit an abortion on a disabled child after 24 weeks gestation; a quarter would do abortions for failed contraception before 24 weeks and one fifth would refuse to abort a child conceived by rape, according to the report’s author, Dr. Sophie Strickland.

Lohr deplored this situation, saying that “abortion services” could be “threatened” in the future because of those “who object to abortion in principle and who would refuse to carry out the procedure.”

In a media release, Dr. Lohr said, “It’s extremely important that abortion is included in the medical school curriculum.”

“Abortion is the most commonly performed gynaecological procedure in the country. Regardless of whether a doctor specialises in this area or not, they will during their career come across many women facing an unintended pregnancy and considering abortion,” she said.

The groups represented at the Voice for Choice meeting included the Abortion Rights, Alliance for Choice Northern Ireland, Antenatal Results and Choices (ARC), BPAS, the sex-education group Brook, Doctors for a Woman’s Choice on Abortion, Education for Choice, Family Planning Association (FPA) that is an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood, Marie Stopes International, Pro-Choice Forum, and Reproductive Health Matters.

Tags: abortion

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Bill mandating abortion coverage in maternity insurance passes Wash. State House

by Kathleen Gilbert Thu Feb 16 14:36 EST Comments (9)

 
Dan Kennedy of Human Life Washington

OLYMPIA, February 16, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Legislators in the Washington state House passed a bill Monday mandating that all insurance plans that cover the costs of bringing a child to term also pay for aborting the baby.

Supporters of the “Reproductive Parity Act,” such as the local chapter of NARAL, say the measure is necessary to protect coverage for “abortion services” in the face of changes wrought by the new health insurance exchanges due for implementation in 2014 under the federal health care bill.

“Just as no one anticipates breaking their leg, no one anticipates needing an abortion. It should be covered just as any other common medical procedure,” wrote local Planned Parenthood official Dana Laurent in an email to supporters calling for support for the Senate bill.

The measure passed 52-46 and now faces a vote in the Senate, where a companion bill has already passed one committee.

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An amendment to HB 2330 states that “nothing in this act affect the right of objection based on conscience or religion” as delineated in state law. The sections cited state that no “health care provider, religiously sponsored health carrier, or health care facility” can be forced to provide, purchase, or pay for coverage for morally objectionable services.

However, Dan Kennedy of Human Life of Washington told LifeSiteNews.com that the religious exemption was “purposely vague” and the codes it refers to “ultimately provide no remedy” - and says that the move is not unlike the Obama administration’s recent mandate forcing religious employers pay for birth control.

“If you want to see what future HHS mandates may look like, look no further than Washington State.  NARAL’s assertion that this bill is necessary to protect abortion ‘rights’ from Obamacare is preposterous on its face,” Kennedy told LSN.

Rather than prohibiting abortion coverage, the Obama health care bill mandates that at least one insurance plan in the exchange cover the procedure.

Kennedy said the bill was in “clear violation” of the federal Hyde amendment forbidding federal abortion funding. “[Hyde] is not merely a conscience clause exempting morally or religiously opposed abortion mandates. It forbids establishing a mandate upon any plan in the first place,” he said.

Tags: abortion, health care, obama, washington

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UPDATED: Catholic priest, pro-life activists arrested outside White House protesting Obama mandate

by Kathleen Gilbert Thu Feb 16 13:39 EST Comments (165)

 
Rev. Patrick Mahoney being arrested this morning

Co-authored with John Jalsevac

Updated: Feb. 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm EST.

February 16, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Six pro-life activists, including one Catholic priest, were arrested this morning in front of the White House while holding a peaceful prayer vigil in protest against the Obama administration’s birth control mandate. They were released shortly thereafter, after paying a $100 fine.

Fr. Denis Wilde, the Associate Director of Priests for Life, told LifeSiteNews that by their arrests the protesters hoped to send a “wake-up call” to President Obama that opposition to his mandate is not going away.

The six were arrested on a charge of “disobeying a lawful order.” The priest explained that while it is legal to hold protests in front of the White House, protesters are not allowed to remain stationary, including if they kneel down and pray.

“Occupy Wall Street protesters have been occupying federal property for months, but when we kneel in prayer, the police are called in and we are arrested,” Father Wilde said. “We knew that was the risk when we gathered today, and we will do it again regardless of the risk. What people of faith – of every faith – need to do now is stand with us.”

In addition to Fr. Wilde those arrested were Jeff White and his teenage daughters Joanna and Jayne White of Survivors, Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, and a local pro-lifer named John Randy Corish.

Fr. Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, told LifeSiteNews.com: “The men arrested today, including our Associate Director, reveal the fact that the response to the unjust Obama mandate cannot be limited to the Courts, the Congress, and the press. It must bring us to the streets of America.”

“Over the years, the other side in this battle has tried to make the public afraid of us by painting us as arrogant, hateful, and violent. In reality, the other side should be afraid precisely because we are humble, peaceful, and prayerful, because therein lies the force that uproots injustice from society.”

A note on the Facebook page of Fr. Pavone of Priests for Life prior to the protest said that the protesters at the prayer vigil Thursday morning expected to meet with arrest, but said that “civil disobedience is called for.”

Pro-life groups including the Christian Defense Coalition, Operation Rescue, Rock for Life, Students for Life of America, and Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust were all slated to join the prayer vigil.

“The faith community can never be silent or indifferent when it comes to matters of justice, human rights and religious liberty. We want to make it clear to President Obama that Christians would rather spend time in a jail cell than be coerced into complying with an mandate that violates our religious beliefs!” said Operation Rescue in a statement Tuesday.

Obama’s mandate that all employers cover all birth control, including abortifacients like ella, and sterilizations, has united Christians from numerous denominations in an unprecedented show of opposition. Despite an “accommodation” from the Obama administration last Friday ostensibly designed to appease religious-based opposition, the protests have only increased in vehemence, with the United States Conference of Catholic bishops denouncing the “accommodation” as insufficient.

Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church has said that he would “go to jail rather than cave in to a government mandate that violates what God commands us to do.” Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), has also said Christians would go to jail if the mandate was not changed.

Kemper pointed out what he said was a double-standard in the police treatment of the pro-life activists: that while “Occupy people can live on federal property…these leaders cannot pray on public property” without being arrested. Kemper posted images of the protest in progress on his blog Thursday morning.

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Oklahoma Senate overwhelmingly approves bill saying life begins at conception

by Christine Dhanagom Thu Feb 16 13:16 EST Comments (13)

 
Senator Brian Crain

OKLAHOMA CITY, February 16, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - By an overwhelming majority, the Oklahoma Senate declared yesterday that human life begins at the moment of conception when a personhood bill cleared the legislative body by a vote of 34 to 8.

The vote comes days after the Virginia House of Delegates passed a similar personhood measure.

The Oklahoma bill, introduced by Sen. Brian Crain, is expected to pass the Republican controlled House as well, and will then head to the desk of Gov. Mary Fallin for signature.

Fallin has not commented on the legislation, but has a strong pro-life voting record as a Governor and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This bill is one of many Senate Republicans have advanced which affirms the right to life and I am proud to support it,” Senate Pro Tempore President Brian Bingman, told Reuters.

In an interview with LifeSiteNews Keith Mason at Personhood USA urged pro-life activists in the state to “flood” House legislators with calls in support of the bill.

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Dan Skerbitz, Director of Personhood Oklahoma, the state affiliate, praised the passage of the bill in the Senate. “Personhood Oklahoma is pleased to see the Oklahoma pro-life movement coalescing around and defending the personhood rights of all people, born and preborn,” he said. “And we are looking forward to working with Oklahoma’s personhood supporters to make it a permanent part of the State Constitution.”

Senate leaders have said that the law is modeled after a Missouri statute that was upheld by the Supreme Court in the 1989 decision Webster vs. Reproductive Health Services.

Language from the Oklahoma law, such as the pronouncement that “unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being,” was copied directly from the Missouri law. 

While upholding the statute, the Court ruled in Webster that the statute’s language had no binding legal force in terms of restricting abortion. But while the Missouri law specifically directed that its enforcement was subject to the Supreme Court’s “decisional interpretations” of the Constitution, that language is absent from the recent Oklahoma law.

The Oklahoma proposal sparked a bitter debate in the state legislature. One pro-abortion Senator, Constance Johnson, introduced a sarcastic amendment to the bill directing that any ejaculation that does not occur during vaginal intercourse “shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.”

In an op-ed published last week in the Guardian, Johnson, who later withdrew the amendment, said she had introduced it to make a point about what she considers the inherently sexist nature of personhood legislation.

Echoing a claim made by the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, Johnson argued that the law could make a woman subject to prosecution simply for miscarrying a pregnancy.

The legislation, however, specifically mandates that no part of it be interpreted as “creating a cause of action” against a woman who indirectly harms her unborn child simply by failing to care for herself while pregnant.

Personhood Oklahoma said that it is also preparing to launch a citizen-led initiative to add an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution that recognizes the right to life of every person.

To find your representative, click here.

Oklahoma House switchboard (405) 521-2711

 

Tags: abortion, oklahoma, personhood

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Renegade nun presents ‘A Catholic case for same-sex marriage’

by Ben Johnson Thu Feb 16 12:25 EST Comments (37)

 
Sr. Grammick and Francis DeBernardo

MOUNT RAINIER, MARYLAND, February 15, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Valentine’s Day, a priest and a nun penned an op-ed in The Washington Post entitled, “A Catholic Case for Same-Sex Marriage.”

Sister Jeannine Gramick and Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry in Mt. Rainier, Maryland, wrote, “Many Catholics…understand that lesbian and gay love is as natural as heterosexual love.”

“As Catholics who are involved in lesbian and gay ministry and outreach, we are aware that many people, some of them Catholics, believe that Catholics cannot faithfully disobey the public policies of the church’s hierarchy. But this is not the case,” they wrote. “Like Govs. Andrew Cuomo in New York and Pat Quinn in Illinois…Govs. Martin O’Malley and Christine Gregoire are acting against the strongly expressed opposition of their church’s bishops.”

They argued the acceptance by many Roman Catholics of the homosexual lifestyle should be considered on par with the teachings of the Church. “The Catholic Church is not a democracy, but neither is it a dictatorship. Ideally, our bishops should strive to proclaim the sensus fidelium, the faith as it is understood by the whole church.”

After stating that Scripture and Church tradition offer “little firm reason to oppose marriage” between members of the same sex, they added, “millions of Catholics are arriving at different conclusions rooted deeply in the teachings of our faith…We support marriage equality, and we won’t forget the Catholic legislators and governors who have worked on behalf of justice for lesbian and gay couples.”

Proponents of traditional marriage say even the title of the article is incorrect.

“It’s just their case,” said Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, president and founder of The Ruth Institute, a project of the National Organization for Marriage. “There’s nothing Catholic about what they’re saying at all,” she told LifeSiteNews.com.

“Sister Jeannine Gramick has been at odds with the Magisterium of the Church for decades,” Marcus Plieninger, Director of Policy Studies at the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, told LifeSiteNews.com. “In her latest article, she pits the Catholic hierarchy’s authoritative defense of Church doctrine regarding marriage against millions of Catholics, who she claims feel otherwise, including two Catholic governors advocating for the legalization of homosexual marriage…Church teaching is defined not by polls, not by popular opinion, not by politicians, not by the ideological winds of ‘social justice,’ not even by Sister, herself, but by what the Church, in fact, teaches.” 

Dr. Morse, who testified in Olympia against Washington state’s same-sex marriage bill, said such a change would carry drastic consequences for the family and for society as a whole. “The natural reality of mother and father is being defined out of existence and being replaced with something that is a legal and social construct.”

Marriage, motherhood, and fatherhood “are natural realities…that predate any government,” Dr. Morse told LifeSiteNews. “The Church stands for that natural reality against the State attempting to redefine it for its own purposes and for the benefits of a special interest group.”

“Something like redefined marriage can’t sustain itself without a lot of coddling from the State,” she said. “The State will have to enforce that view everyplace that the Church interacts with society, so the thing we’re seeing with the insurance mandate is going to get played out on the marriage side, as well. All of this expansion of the State is being done to accommodate the growth of so-called sexual freedom.”

Sr. Gramick’s authorship contradicted a 1999 order by the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith that she not address the issue of homosexuality, because her teachings were “doctrinally unacceptable.”

Dr. Morse called the authors “the usual suspects, who have never accepted Church teachings on any sexual, moral issues.”

Sr. Gramick’s controversial history of defiance was celebrated in the film In Good Conscience: Sister Jeannine’s Journey of Faith, shot by Albert Maysles and conceived by Barbara Ricks, who is described as “a lapsed Catholic.”

Sr. Gramic and Fr. Robert Nugent founded New Ways Ministry – which describes itself as “a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, and reconciliation within the larger Christian and civil communities” – in Mount Rainier, Maryland, in 1977. 

In 1984, Archbishop of Washington James Hickey refused to grant approval of its activities; Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent were ordered to resign their leadership positions and end their participation in any of its activities. They resigned but continued teaching and writing on behalf of the organization.

Ultimately, Rome itself weighed in. Fifteen years later the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith issued a statement that “the positions advanced by Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent regarding the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts and the objective disorder of the homosexual inclination are doctrinally unacceptable.”

“[T]the promotion of errors and ambiguities is not consistent with a Christian attitude of true respect and compassion: persons who are struggling with homosexuality no less than any others have the right to receive the authentic teaching of the Church from those who minister to them. The ambiguities and errors of the approach of Father Nugent and Sister Gramick have caused confusion among the Catholic people and have harmed the community of the Church. For these reasons, Sister Jeannine Gramick, SSND, and Father Robert Nugent, SDS, are permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons and are ineligible, for an undetermined period, for any office in their respective religious institutes.”
 
The statement was approved by Pope John Paul II and signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI..

While Fr. Nugent observed the order, Sr. Gramick has been defiant, replying, “I choose not to collaborate in my own oppression.” Two years later, after spending 20 years with the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Sr. Gramick transferred to the Sisters of Loretto, who “support her in her ministry of education and advocacy on behalf of lesbian and gay people.”

The contentions over her writings, however, have not died down.

In 2010, acting as president of the U.S Council of Catholic Bishops, Francis Cardinal George said, “No one should be misled by the claim that New Ways Ministry provides an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice.”

“Like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and…cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States,” he said.

Again last March  – in response to New Ways’ booklet Marriage Equality: A Positive Catholic Approach by Francis DeBernardo –  Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, the respective chairmen of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine and the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, issued a statement reaffirming “in no manner is the position proposed by New Ways Ministry in conformity with Catholic teaching and in no manner is this organization authorized to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church or to identify itself as a Catholic organization.”

Sr. Gramick remains confident she will be vindicated by an increasingly liberal laity. She told the National Catholic Reporter that “thinking, studying, praying, in order to come to a decision which may or not be what a moral authority teaches” is “a positive thing. It’s obedience to the Spirit.”

Gramick has claimed at least half of all Catholic priests are homosexual.

“We are planting seeds for change at the upper level of leadership,” she added, observing the changes of Vatican II were “more evolutionary than revolutionary.”

Dr. Morse disagrees. “The Catholic theological Left is aging, and the young people within the Church are much more traditional and socially conservative and more inclined to support the Church’s teachings,” she said.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual activity constitutes “grave depravity…Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

Tags: fr. francis debernardo, sr. jeannine gramick

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The fight over Obama’s mandate is the fight of a lifetime for religious freedom

by Chuck Colson Thu Feb 16 12:25 EST Comments (13)

 
Chuck Colson

February 15, 2012 (Breakpoint.org) - I’ve been talking a lot lately about the Obama Administration’s relentless attempts to restrict religious freedom.

You know by now that the Catholic bishops have strongly rejected the president’s so-called “accommodation” to exempt religious organizations from paying for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization.

Good for the bishops. What the president outlined changed nothing: religious organizations will still have to provide insurance that covers services that violate their religious beliefs, even if they don’t have to pay for them directly.

Now why does this matter? Why is it really such a big deal? The Administration is hoping you will think this is all about contraception, which not many people, even the majority of Catholics, care that much about. But this is not about contraception. This battle is all about religious freedom—the first and most important of all our freedoms.

As Christians, we know that freedom is the natural condition of human beings because we were created in God’s image. God, who enjoys perfect freedom, respected Adam and Eve’s freedom in the garden.

Even the Deist Thomas Jefferson, author of Virginia’s statute of religious freedom, wrote that “Almighty God hath created the mind free.” Jefferson rejected “all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations.” And he recognized that although “the Holy Author of our religion” had the power to constrain freedom, He chose not to. And to restrict religious freedom was a “departure from” God’s plan.

Our founding fathers—even those who weren’t Christians—believed, as I do, that without freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, all of our other freedoms aren’t worth the paper they are written on. If government can dictate what we may or may not believe, or how we may or may not live out our beliefs, then we are no longer a free people.

I say this not just because I am a Christian: I say it as a student of the American founding. I can plainly read what the founders said. James Madison, the fourth president and “father of the Constitution,” believed “that religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence”—and not by the “dictates of other men” or by “Civil Society.”

It’s shocking that the leaders of our nation so callously disregard our history, our heritage, our rights. We must not remain silent. We must speak out—reintroduce our neighbors and our leaders to the foundational beliefs of the American Experiment.

Today, on my “Two-Minute Warning,” which I urge you to watch at ColsonCenter.org, I will invite you to attend our “Break the Spiral of Silence” conference, which will be held at a retreat center near Washington, D.C. Come, learn, join with me and a host of great speakers, including Joni Eareckson Tada and Eric Metaxas. We aren’t going to remain silent while our most precious freedom is in danger. Again, that’s at ColsonCenter.org.

Okay, governments do restrict and do deny freedom of religion. But those that do are not called free democracies. They are called authoritarian dictatorships, which is exactly what we will be living under if we lose this fight.

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Reprinted with permission from Breakpoint.org

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Repeal of ‘hate speech’ clause passes second vote in Commons

by Patrick B. Craine Thu Feb 16 09:57 EST Comments (9)

 
Conservative MP Brian Storseth

OTTAWA, February 16, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The campaign to scrap Canada’s ‘hate speech’ clause moved one step closer to victory Wednesday night as the House of Commons voted 158-131 to send it to committee.

Of those MPs who voted, the bill was unanimously supported by the majority Conservative government and opposed by all Opposition members, except Liberal Scott Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor). (See the vote breakdown.)

After consideration by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Bill C-304 will need to pass a third vote in the House of Commons and then the Senate before becoming law.

The private members bill, introduced by MP Brian Storseth, seeks to ensure greater protection of freedom of expression in Canada by deleting the controversial section 13 of the Human Rights Act – the “hate speech” provision that has been used to silence Christians and conservatives who express politically incorrect opinions.

Ezra Levant, source of the Sun News Network’s The Source, and one of the most prominent of those targeted through section 13, told LifeSiteNews he is “proud of Canada’s Parliament for taking this first step in reclaiming our freedoms.”

“The Canadian Human Rights Act is an Orwellian law that actually undermines our real rights—like freedom of expression and freedom of religion—and promotes counterfeit rights, like the right not to be offended,” he said.

“This is a win for all Canadians across the political spectrum, and so it was disappointing to me that only a single opposition MP voted for it,” he continued. “I believe the Liberal Party needs to rediscover its civil libertarian tradition—the root of the word Liberal is latin for freedom, of course.”

The bill’s chances were greatly improved in November when it earned an endorsement from the majority Conservative government.

But supporters have nevertheless criticized the government for leaving section 13’s repeal to a private members bill.

“It really should have been a priority for any conservative government that values freedom. Because Mr. Storseth’s bill is a private member’s bill, it is not guaranteed to pass,” said Neil Dykstra, a spokesman for Stand Up For Freedom Canada.

Critics of Section 13 have long argued that the clause creates the precise equivalent to a ‘thought crime.’ The provision defines a discriminatory practice as “any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt” if the person or persons affected are “identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.”

In 2008, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) hired constitutional law expert Professor Richard Moon to examine Section 13 of the act. In his report, Moon’s principal recommendation was that section 13 be repealed. However, the CHRC ignored the report and proposed their own solutions, which were criticized as “superficial.”

Bill C-304’s successful passage would also strike out Section 54 of the act, the penalty clause for those convicted of transgressing Section 13.

Contact info for all members of parliament is available here.

The text of Bill C-304 is available here.

The text of Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act is available here.

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Planned Parenthood guilty of tens of millions of dollars in fraud charge whistleblowers, report

by Ben Johnson Thu Feb 16 09:17 EST Comments (10)

 
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards

LUFKIN, TEXAS, February 15, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood that touched off the controversy over Susan G. Komen’s funding of the abortion giant may soon expand into a series of national hearings in the nation’s capital and court cases around the country that could expose hundreds of millions of dollars of financial impropriety, critics say.

Karen Reynolds, a decade-long employee of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) in Texas, has filed a lawsuit claiming 12 Planned Parenthood mills in Texas and Louisiana bilked the government by billing medical agencies for services that were unnecessary or that were never actually provided. “Fraud is fraud,” said Reynolds’ attorney, Mike Love.

Her allegations are part of a cascade of negative publicity drawing attention to the dubious or possibly illegal accounting practices of roughly 20 percent of Planned Parenthood’s national affiliates.

Responding to the new allegations of wrongdoing, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn has written a letter to House Speaker John Boehner calling for a “full-scale series of congressional hearings to expose the damage Planned Parenthood has caused to our nation.”

The Tennessee Republican cited a recent 23-page report issued by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) that found upwards of $99 million in waste or possible fraud, including the illegal taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion-related procedures.

“There have been 38 federal HHS Office of Inspector General audits of state family planning programs, of which Planned Parenthood gets the lion’s share, between 1995 and 2009,” Steven Aden, vice president for human life issues and senior council at ADF told LifeSiteNews.com on a conference call last week. “These have discovered between $88-99 million in waste, abuse, and potential waste and fraud.”

“Two of those federal audits, in New York and New Jersey, specifically identified Planned Parenthood and only Planned Parenthood as a source of overbilling in the family planning program,” he said.

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Only seven of the nation’s 79 Planned Parenthood affiliates had been officially investigated, as far as the ADF knows, he said. The 10 known audits took place in California, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Washington state – mostly Democratic states that favor legalized abortion.

Yet those investigations uncovered numerous instances of financially questionable practices including wrongly billing Medicaid for medications provided as part of an abortion in violation of the Hyde Amendment, overbilling for prescription drugs, dispensing prescription drugs – including oral contraceptives – without a prescription, double-billing, charging for medically unnecessary services, falsely claiming some services were provided for family planning, and several instances of unsigned or missing documentation. The ADF report identifies 12 types of potential fraud, in all.

A common practice was “unbundling,” in which services provided as part of an abortion procedure were billed separately, as though they were unrelated services.

“In New York alone during one four year period,” the report states, “it appeared that hundreds of thousands of abortion-related claims were billed illegally to Medicaid.” (Emphasis in original.)

A 2008 New York audit found 102 of 119 sample cases improperly received such reimbursement – including funds that paid for 27 abortions. An audit the previous year found nearly half of New York’s 100 sampled cases involved a laboratory being reimbursed for abortion-related services, for which it should not have received any money.

A June 2008 audit in New Jersey found several clinics, “especially Planned Parenthood providers,” billed all their services as family planning, allowing 90 percent of their costs to be reimbursed by the federal government.

“Thus, Planned Parenthood’s primary motivation appears not to be to provide quality healthcare to patients who seek family planning services, but rather to enhance its profits,” ADF reports.

Two federal whistleblower lawsuits in California and Texas charge even more affiliates with Medicaid fraud in the tens of millions of dollars.

Karen Reynolds of Lufkin, Texas, worked more than 10 years at Planned Parenthood. In her court complaint, she charges PPGC with “billing for medical services not rendered, billing for for unwarranted medical services, billing for services not covered by Medicaid, and creating false information in medical records which was material to billing for medical services.”

Reynolds quotes a PPGC memo that stated, “If the client [getting an abortion] is getting on birth control make this the focus of the visit and put a note in the chief complaints that the client had a surgical or medical abortion ‘x’ weeks ago.”

Another former Planned Parenthood employee, P. Victor Gonzalez, who was chief financial officer for Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, claimed in a 2010 lawsuit that PPLA paid “$225,695.65 for Ortho Tri-Cyclen birth control pills, yet billed the government $918,084 – for a profit of $692,388.35.”  These and other actions, which he said deliberately violated the False Claims Act (FCA), amounted to $100 million in financial impropriety

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, told LifeSiteNews.com the audits coupled with the whistleblowers’ inside accounts “reveal a pattern of gross financial mismanagement” at the nation’s largest abortion provider.  Yet “after 40 years of receiving taxpayer funds, not one oversight hearing of Planned Parenthood has occurred,” she said. “Now is the time for such scrutiny on behalf of its most important benefactors, the American taxpayers, and on behalf of the young women that it claims to serve.”

Instead of submitting itself to an inspection, she said Planned Parenthood had struck a “posture of entitlement” and waged “campaigns to destroy those who ask questions.”

Aden said, “Americans deserve to know if their hard-earned tax money is being funneled to groups that are misusing it.”

“Planned Parenthood has to play by the same rules as everyone else,” he said. “It is not entitled to a dime of taxpayer funds, especially if it is committing Medicaid fraud.”

“This is part of ADF and our allied organizations…effort to encourage the House Oversight Committee to hold public hearings hearings, to have Planned Parenthood’s national officers testify and be held accountable for the financial mismanagement that one-in-five of their affiliates has been implicated in.”

Thus far, less than ten percent of Planned Parenthood’s 79 national affiliates had been audited; eight other affiliates are implicated in ongoing lawsuits that allege financial malfeasance.

When asked whether a similar pattern would be found if the remaining 90 percent of affiliates were audited, Dannenfelser told LifeSiteNews.com, “It’s the responsibility of the Oversight Committee to do just that, to find the audits – and if they’re not available, to do the audits.”

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Tags: marsha blackburn, planned parenthood

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Baptist Gov. Mike Huckabee on Obama mandate: ‘We are all Catholics now’

by Patrick B. Craine Thu Feb 16 08:56 EST Comments (39)

 
Gov. Mike Huckabee at CPAC on Saturday

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 16, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Many observers have been buoyed by the stunning display of unity between Catholics and Evangelicals against President Obama’s effort to force religious institutions to cover sterilizations, contraceptives, and abortion-inducing drugs.

The sentiment was on full display at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday, when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared: “We are all Catholics now.”

Before an enthusiastic crowd, the Southern Baptist pastor opened by thanking President Obama: “You have done more than any person in the entire GOP field, any candidate has done, to bring this party to unity, and energize this party, as a result of your attack on religious liberty and the attack on the personhood of every human being in America.”

“I remember very vividly when John F. Kennedy said that ‘we are all Berliners’. Well in many ways, thanks to president Obama, we are all Catholics now,” Huckabee said.

Now famed radio host Glenn Beck, a Mormon, has turned Huckabee’s phrase into a lobbying movement, urging his fans to lobby their senators to support Sen. Roy Blunt’s conscience protection measure.

“It’s conscience. It’s not contraceptives,” he told listeners Wednesday. “This is an attack on your right to practice the religion in the way that you see fit. It’s an attack on conscience, not contraceptives.”

On Friday, President Obama announced an “accommodation” to the mandate after he faced heated pressure from Catholic and Christian leaders, claiming that he would require insurance companies to offer the coverage for free rather than requiring employers to pay.

But critics immediately slammed the “accommodation,” saying it was merely repackaging the original mandate because insurance companies will simply up the employers’ fees to cover the “free” contraceptive coverage.

Religion Dispatches points out that polling shows Evangelicals are even more opposed to the mandate than Catholics, even though it’s been portrayed as a Catholic issue.

Gov. Huckabee told CPAC that he is grateful for the controversy because it has put the “social issues” at the top of the agenda for the 2012 election.

He said the President’s actions have shown that “morality matters more than even money does, because where there is a nation who has lost its morals, that is a nation who will freely give up its money.”

“Because if we give up the basic right to life, we will certainly give up that which is in our pockets,” he continued. “Let us never act as if somehow the simple idea of how much money we get to keep is more important than whether or not we keep our very lives and our liberties under the Constitution of the United States. Lose those and money won’t matter.”

View Gov. Mike Huckabee’s full CPAC address.

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