Monday, March 19, 2012

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Dianne Feinstein supported Santorum-style ‘war on porn’

by Ben Johnson Mon Mar 19 17:13 EST Comments (11)

 
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA.

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 19, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum made waves last week with his pledge to enforce existing laws against pornography distributors. “Rick Santorum believes that federal obscenity laws should be vigorously enforced,” he proclaimed on his website. But concern about the Obama administration’s lax enforcement of federal obscenity laws is not restricted to the Right.

Last May, nearly half of the U.S. Senate – including Dianne Feinstein, Amy Klobuchar, four other Democrats, and Independent Joe Lieberman – wrote a letter “to urge the Department of Justice vigorously to enforce federal obscenity laws against major commercial distributors of hardcore adult pornography.”

The 42 U.S. Senators expressed concern that the Obama administration had abruptly curtailed prosecution of obscenity laws.

In terms more harsh than those on Santorum’s website, the letter denounced the ill effects of rampant porn use. “We know more than ever how illegal adult obscenity contributes to violence against women, addiction, harm to children, and sex trafficking,” it said. “This material harms individuals, families and communities and the problems are only getting worse.”

In 2011, Eric Holder dissolved the Bush-era Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, which prosecuted distributors of extreme hardcore pornography, folding it into the into the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Ronald Weich said the Justice Department now enforces laws against “child exploitation and cases involving the sexual abuse of children.”

Laws against pornography, no matter how shocking or graphic, are not being defended.

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One of the letter’s signatories, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, said at the time: “Attorney General Holder told the Judiciary Committee last year that this task force was the centerpiece of the strategy to combat adult obscenity. Rather than initiate a single new case since President Obama took office, however, the only development in this area has been the dismantling of the task force.”

“As the toxic waste of obscenity continues to spread and harm everyone it touches, it appears the Obama administration is giving up without a fight,” he said.

Although Rick Santorum has become the most conspicuous spokesman of enforcing existing laws, both his chief GOP rivals have made the same promise.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney told the anti-obscenity watchdog group Morality in Media: “(I)t is imperative that we cultivate the promotion of fundamental family values,” and this “includes strict enforcement of our nation’s obscenity laws.”
 
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told MIM’s executive director, Dawn Hawkins, he “will appoint an Attorney General who will enforce these laws.”

 

Tags: dianne feinstein, pornography, rick santorum

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Rick Santorum’s ‘war on porn’ would end Obama’s flouting the law, former prosecutor says

by Ben Johnson Mon Mar 19 17:04 EST Comments (12)

 
Presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 19, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has vowed to vigorously enforce laws against the distribution of hardcore pornography, accusing the Obama administration of lax oversight. Media outlets have dubbed this a “war on pornography,” and have painted Santorum’s position as radical. However, a former Justice Department prosecutor says Santorum’s proposal simply seeks to end the Obama administration’s selective enforcement of the law.

On Sunday, Santorum told ABCs This Week program, “Under the Bush administration, pornographers were prosecuted much more rigorously than they are under existing law, than they are under the Obama administration.”

The statement followed a week-long media feeding frenzy about a section of Santorum’s website dedicated to “Enforcing Laws Against Illegal Pornography.”

“America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography,” it reads, citing children’s early exposure to explicit material and changes in brain patterns from repeated viewing. “Rick Santorum believes that federal obscenity laws should be vigorously enforced. If elected President, I will appoint an Attorney General who will do so.”

The statement praises the work of the War on Illegal Pornography Coalition, which is composed of 120 pro-family groups including Morality in Media, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and many others.

Although the media have dubbed the statement controversial, the nation’s former chief obscenity prosecutor says the alliance just wants the president to stop ignoring the law.

“All we ask is that candidates agree to vigorously enforce the laws that are on the books,” Patrick Trueman, CEO of Morality in Media, which leads the coalition, told LifeSiteNews.com. “Why should enforcement of current laws be controversial?”

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Trueman, who served as Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section under Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush, says the law already prohibits “distribution of obscene pornography (hardcore) on the internet, on cable/satellite TV, in hotels/motels, in retail shops, by mail and by common carrier.”

Although the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the private ownership of pornographic material in 1969’s Stanley v. Georgia case, it did not strike down its previous ruling in Roth v. United States that “obscenity is not protected by the freedoms of speech and press.” Four years later, in Miller v. California, the Court established a test to determine whether a work is obscene, including whether a film would offend prevailing community standards.

UCLA law professor and blogger Eugene Volokh has observed, “In most parts of the country, a lot of pornography on the internet would plausibly be seen as obscene.” MIM’s National Obscenity Law Center compiles the nation’s anti-pornography laws.

However, enforcement of obscenity laws has plummeted under the Obama administration.

“When a prosecutor refuses to enforce these laws, he is essentially establishing community standards and the standards become, ‘anything goes.’ That is what is happening now due to this administration,” Trueman told LifeSiteNews.com.

Pornography’s supporters also say they have noticed a new climate since Barack Obama came to power. Louis Sirkin, an attorney who represents pornographers, said the Justice Department’s inaction under Attorney General Eric Holder represents “a substantial change of position.”

“The new administration has come in there and made a new determination,” Sirkin said. “It certainly is different than what we have seen in the past.”

Trueman told LifeSiteNews.com fears of that the federal government will imprison teenagers for watching online pornography are misplaced.

“The federal laws are really directed at the major producers and distributors of illegal pornography,” Trueman said. “I was head of prosecutions for DOJ for several years and we did not go after the individual consumer.”

 

Tags: pornography, rick santorum

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President orders Jewish and Muslim hospitals to serve pork (but not really)

by Fr. Michael Shields Mon Mar 19 16:58 EST Comments (20)

 
Fr. Michael Sheilds

March 19, 2012 (CatholicAnchor.org) - I am not sure if you’ve heard but the Obama administration has declared, after much study, that pork is better for you than beef. So the administration is implementing a nationwide law to have pork served regularly in all hospitals. Unfortunately this means both Jewish and Muslim hospitals will have to comply because many patients who eat there do not share that faith. And schools of both Jewish and Muslim faith will have to serve pork because some students who attend the institutions do not share their beliefs. There will be exemptions of course for Jewish synagogues and Muslim mosques that fall under the category of places for religious worship. But even some Muslim and Jewish centers will not be exempt — places which claim to be houses of worship but that do not meet that definition according to the government.

The call by the Obama Administration is clear — Let them eat pork.

The great news is that everyone is abiding by this new law because it is actually portrayed, not as an invasion of religious freedom, but as a fundamental right. Everyone has the right to have pork anywhere and anytime — for free.

A recent poll was taken both in the Jewish and Muslim community and surprisingly 85 percent support the feeding of pork to the masses. In fact there is talk among the faith communities that maybe through the inspiration and wisdom of this administration the long-held tradition of abstaining from pork will soon be seen for what it is — old fashioned and unenlightened. Thanks to this administration maybe finally these two ancient faiths will be brought into the real world of contemporary life where moral principles, faith norms and creeds of belief are best kept tucked away in weekly religious services and out of everyday life.

We thank this administration for being so enlightened and ready to help those of faith figure out what is best to believe and hold as true.

While this is not an actual story
, many are aware that the Obama administration has issued a mandate that will require virtually all employers — including Catholic colleges and hospitals — to purchase health insurance plans that cover sterilization, contraception and abortion inducing drugs for their employees. All these procedures violate Catholic teaching regarding faith and morals.

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And the “compromise” presented on Feb. 10 by the president is deeply inadequate as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has clearly stated.

This whole controversy raises two important points. First, religious freedom is under attack. Second, a teaching of the Catholic Church is misunderstood and in need of a compelling explanation. This is a teachable moment in America.

The courts will likely decide the religious freedom question. But the bishops need to address the perception in the media of the church as an institution that is unwilling to move into the modern world and is against women and their rights.

In truth, the church is the proponent of the deepest freedom for men and women. The church’s teachings are not old fashioned but radically transforming — every human being is wanted and loved by God, marriage is sacred and life is eternal. Now is the time to teach the freedoms of the church and the vision for living the deepest and most human life possible.

The writer is pastor of the Church of the Nativity in Magadan, Russia. This article first appeared in the Catholic Anchor and is reprinted with permission.

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Chinese study finds link between previous abortion and depression among pregnant women

by Christine Dhanagom Mon Mar 19 16:37 EST Comments (3)

ANHUI, China, March 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A new study of post-abortive women in China found a high correlation between induced abortion and depression among pregnant women, adding to the growing body of evidence that links abortion with negative mental health outcomes.

The findings were reached by a team of Chinese researchers from Anhui Medical College who analyzed data that had been previously collected as part of an on-going study on child development.

Their study, titled, “The Impact of Prior Abortion on Anxiety and Depression Symptoms During a Subsequent Pregnancy: Data From a Population-Based Cohort Study in China,” was published recently in the Bulletin of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

The researchers used data from 6,887 pregnant women who had participated in the Annui Birth Defects and Child Development Cohort study between October 2008 and September 2009. 3,264 of those women had experienced a previous abortion. Most were induced abortions, although the data also included some women who had had spontaneous abortions (miscarriages).

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They found that pregnant women who had undergone an induced abortion of a previous pregnancy a year or more before their current pregnancy were 49% more likely to experience depression and 114% more likely to experience anxiety during their first trimester. If the abortion was more recent, the risk was 97% greater for anxiety in the first trimester, and 64% greater for depression during the second trimester.

In comparison, the study found, women who had experienced a miscarriage did not appear to be at a greater risk for anxiety or depression than other pregnant women in the first and second trimester.

“Prior abortion poses serious mental health risks for women, which further increase the risk of obstretric complications, pregnancy symptoms, and adverse pregnant outcomes,” the study said. “Therefore, exploring the type and magnitude of the impact of previous abortions on pregnant women’s mental health has significant implications for determining high-risk groups and preventing psychological disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes.”

The researchers also cited a previous study which found that anxiety was particularly prevalent among post-abortive pregnant woman before the woman passed the gestational point at which the previous abortion had occurred.

Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, called this finding “disconcerting,” noting that “all the major body structures are formed during the 1st trimester and stress hormones may potentially harm the developing fetus.”

In an analysis of the study, Coleman also noted that the findings were consistent with those of previous studies.

“Even in a culture wherein abortion is widespread and is mandated by the government after women give birth once, the magnitude of psychological risks are comparable to those identified in other parts of the world,” she pointed out.

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Liberian President remains firm: no legalization of homosexual acts

by Hilary White, Rome Correspondent Mon Mar 19 16:13 EST Comments (10)

 
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

ROME, March 20, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In an interview with the UK Guardian newspaper yesterday, the president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said that the question of legalization of homosexual acts is off the table, despite criticism and international pressure. “We like ourselves just the way we are,” she said.

“We’ve got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve,” President Johnson Sirleaf added.

The interview was being conducted jointly with Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister and now head of the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), a group that assists African governments meet their economic and social reform goals. The group is currently working in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea to help achieve targets in public services, rural development, infrastructure and job creation.

The president said that her government and AGI Liberia “has specific terms of reference.”

“They’re carrying out their function within those terms of reference. That’s all we require of them,” she said tersely.

When Guardian interviewer Tamsin Ford pressed Blair on whether his group would promote homosexuality in Liberia, he replied that anyone who wants to know his own position can examine his record as Prime Minister, but that he had no comment regarding Liberia’s priorities. AGI, he said, exists to “support governments” in getting their own programs off the ground.

“One of the advantages of doing what I do now is I can choose the issues I get into and the issues I don’t. For us, the priorities are around power, roads, jobs delivery,” he said.

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Currently, the law in Liberia on “voluntary sodomy” levies up to a year in prison or fines upon conviction. Despite the claims of homosexualist activists, the U.S. Department of State said in a 2010 report on human rights that “there were no reported instances of violence based on sexual orientation.” Public opinion in this majority Christian country (85.6 per cent) “is strongly opposed to homosexuality,” the report also noted.

Twice imprisoned by the former regime, President Johnson Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2011 for “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Johnson Sirleaf is the first and thus far only elected female head of state in Africa.

A homosexualist organization founded in January this year is touring Liberian universities in order to garner support from students in its efforts to gain legal recognition of homosexual domestic partnerships. Archie Ponpon, head of the Movement for the Defense of Gays and Lesbians in Liberia with fellow campaigner Abraham Kamara, claims that the group’s efforts have opened a public debate, but the response from legislators and even students has not been positive.

The BBC reports that during one attempt to give a speech on “gay rights” at the University of Liberia a few weeks ago, the two men were “chased away” by angry students. “They are silly,” a sociology student said. “Is it everything that is good for the West is good for us here? Nonsense,” she shouted.

A bill was brought forward this year to amend the penal code to make it a second-degree felony to “seduce, encourage or promote another person of the same gender to engage in sexual activities” or “purposefully” engage in “acts that arouse or tend to arouse another person of the same gender to have sexual intercourse.” The bill proposes prison sentences of up to five years on conviction.

In February this year, Senator Jewel Taylor tabled a bill that would make homosexual activity a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. “We are only strengthening the existing law,” Taylor said.

“Some media are reporting that I said anyone found guilty of involvement in same sex should face the death penalty, I did not say so, I am calling for a law that will make it a first degree felony,” she told the Associated Press.

In response to the bill and to international pressure to liberalize the law, Johnson Sirleaf has said that she will not sign any legislation that deals with the topic. A government spokesman later told the BBC, “The president is clear on this matter - she will not sign such a bill.”

Public opposition to homosexuality remains strong in Liberia. The BBC reports this week that a priest officiating at a wedding ceremony last month at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in the capital of Monrovia received “wild applause” from the congregation when he said, “Man-to-man marriage will not hold.”

Referring to the British government’s announcement that foreign aid will be linked to the country’s support for the homosexual agenda, the priest was reported to have said, “They can take their money; we will live; we have vast natural resources.”

The government has asked for foreign assistance in a number of critical areas. Liberia was founded by settlers who had been freed from slavery in the U.S. in the early 19th century and is struggling to create social and political stability after a devastating 14-year civil war that ended only in 2003. The U.S. State Department says that the country’s security situation remains “fragile” and “the process of rebuilding the social and economic structure of this war-torn country continues.” 

Liberia suffers a multitude of health, economic and social problems, including high maternal and infant mortality rates, (990 deaths/100,000 live births,) low average life expectancy, (57 years) and huge numbers of orphaned or abandoned children, many of whom were child soldiers. Additional concerns are loss of infrastructure and environmental issues like soil erosion, marine pollution and deforestation.

Huge numbers of teachers, doctors and other professionals fled the country during the war and the civil unrest that followed it. Currently Liberia has an average of 0.014 physicians per 1000 population, compared to 1.9132 per 1000 in Canada and a total expenditure on health care of 3.9 per cent of GDP compared to Canada’s 10.9 per cent. The country’s leaders are faced with rebuilding the infrastructure and basic services like roads, telecommunications, electrical power, hospitals and schools.

 

Tags: homosexuality, liberia

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Unprecedented number of Romanian cities to hold Marches for Life this weekend

by Thaddeus Baklinski Mon Mar 19 15:30 EST Comments (5)

BUCHAREST, March 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An unprecedented twenty Romanian cities will hold simultaneous marches for life on March 24, according to the Romanian pro-life organization Pro-Vita.

“The March for Life is the main pro-life event in Romania,” Larisa Iftime, president of the Pro-vita Media Association, told LifeSiteNews, “and for the first time this event has a national scope, because it will take place simultaneously in about 20 cities in Romania.”

The event takes place every year around the 25th of March, which day Catholics celebrate as the feast of the Annunciation – a major feast in the Catholic tradition. It is organized by groups including the Federation of Orthodox Pro-life in Romania, the Romanian Family Alliance and the Provita Media Association.

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Iftime pointed out that, counting only official data, 8 million children have been victims of abortion since 1990, and that the overall decrease in population, 4 million in the last two decades, is creating a demographic crisis.

“The intention of this event is to raise awareness about the genocide of the Romanian nation for 55 years through the practice of abortion and the serious demographic decline taking place under our eyes,” the organizers of the March for Life state.

“If we do not take urgent action to respect unborn life, to promote fertility and support larger families, our country will rapidly become an unprecedented social and economic disaster. For Romania to survive as a nation after more than two centuries will require the next two or three generations to be given a strong pro-life and pro-family education.”

This year the Romanian pro-life organizations have produced a manifesto that will be released to the media and presented to politicians at the march.

“This manifesto will request the implementation of a new attitude and a new legislation, favoring life and family, especially as Romania has the highest abortion rate among all the EU countries and suffers a visible degrading of the importance of family in social life,” Iftime explained.

More information on the 2012 Romanian March for Life, the complete list of the participating Romanian cities, as well as routes, schedules and contact information for local organizing teams is available here.

 

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Rush Limbaugh: ‘How the Catholic Church got roped into liberalism’

by Thaddeus Baklinski Mon Mar 19 15:13 EST Comments (0)

 
Rush Limbaugh

March 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the aftermath of the controversy stirred up by Rush Limbaugh’s comments on Georgetown University law student and pro-abortion activist Sandra Fluke, the talk show host speculated last week about how, in his view, the Catholic Church “got roped into the liberal socialist agenda.”

Sandra Fluke sparked a national discussion after she testified at a press conference arranged by Democrat politicians about how her Catholic school, Georgetown law, does not fund her contraception. Fluke was arguing in favor of the Obama administration’s birth control mandate, which would force even religious universities and employers to fund birth control and abortifacient drugs against their consciences. 

“If you’re an activist, by definition, you are enrolling to stir it up there,” Limbaugh told a caller on his Open Line Friday show, in reference to Fluke. “You are enrolling to tear down the moral and conscience policies of that institution. That’s the express purpose.  The Catholic Church is under siege. The Catholic Church is under attack. It’s a huge target. And the Catholic Church finally knows it.”

Limbaugh said that he “learned a lot during this whole fiasco,” referring to the media uproar when he called Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she called on Congress to force her university to pay for her contraception.

“One of the things that I learned was the reason the Catholic Church (all the way back to the days of FDR) got roped into the liberal socialist agenda is that they became convinced that welfare was charity, and churches are big on charity.

“And they thought that it would sound good for them to support massive government wealth-transfer programs, welfare programs, under the guise that it was charity.”

Limbaugh said that this liberalism was not directed at the tenets of faith of the Church, but rather manifested itself it the Church’s “political associations and attachments.”

“So the Catholic Church and its hierarchy in this country slowly but surely migrated to socialism, in terms of its political preferences. Now, not so much the way it dealt with its flock, but outwardly - with its political associations and attachments (i.e. people that they voted for, supported) - under the notion that liberalism is charity, under the notion that welfare is charity.”

“Well, it isn’t,” Limbaugh stated. “Liberals give money to people wanting a payback. The payback is the vote. Liberals are not giving people money to increase their lifestyles or improve their lifestyles. It doesn’t happen, does it? The poor are still poor. The homeless are still homeless.  Despite all these great liberal programs, the numbers, the percentages never change.”

“Liberalism doesn’t solve problems,” Limbaugh charged. “It doesn’t fix anything. So it isn’t charity. Real charity is targeted to people in genuine need who cannot help themselves. The purpose of welfare is not to help people who can’t help themselves. If I may be blunt, the purpose of welfare is to create as many people as possible who refuse to help themselves because they don’t have to anymore.”

“Welfare is robbing Peter to buy Paul’s vote,” Limbaugh observed.

“But the Catholic Church got roped into this whole notion that all of that is ‘charity,’ so they became big supporters of it. This is now causing some lights to go on at the upper levels of the Church,” Limbaugh concluded.

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Tags: birth control mandate, obama, rush limbaugh

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After low financial management rating Canada cuts funding to Development and Peace by 64%

by John-Henry Westen Mon Mar 19 14:31 EST Comments (13)

 
International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda.

March 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Development & Peace (D&P), the international development arm of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), has had its funding cut by the Canadian Conservative Government by 65%. 

D&P, which has been embroiled in controversy over the last two years for funding pro-abortion groups, is looking to Catholics in the pews to make up the shortfall at Masses across the country this Sunday.

In July 2010, D&P asked the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for $49.2 million towards its new 5-year program (2011-2016), according to a letter to supporters last week. On February 8, 2012, CIDA informed D&P that they would receive $14.9 million for the five-year period. 

The funding from CIDA to D&P for the previous five-year term - 2006 to 2011 – was $44.6 million.

In between the proposal and the response, Money Sense, the highest-rated financial magazine in the country, issued a report on the efficiency and efficacy of international charities, ranking D&P lowest.

Money Sense noted critically that D&P only allocated 72.3% of donations toward programs, with most other charities listed scoring in the 80s and 90s. D&P also ranked last for governance and transparency, along with three other groups, earning 1.0 out of 10, or a C-.  The lack of transparency at D&P has frustrated faithful Catholics in the last two years as D&P has failed to reveal their full list of partners, even in the aftermath of the funding scandal. 

The Canadian government did not give a reason for why funding to D&P was cut so dramatically. But in an e-mail to Embassy CIDA Minister Bev Oda’s spokesperson, Justin Broekema, said, “CIDA is responsible, particularly in times of fiscal restraint, for ensuring Canadian tax payers’ dollars deliver value for money and the strongest results in the lives of people in need.”

In a March 16 letter obtained by LifeSiteNews.com, D&P Executive Director Michael Casey wrote Diocesan Council presidents that parishioners are to be asked to increase their donations to D&P due to the CIDA shortfall.

Of note, Money Sense gave the highest ranking to another Catholic international charity in Canada called Chalice. The report also indicated that D&P’s top employee earns $120,000-159,999, compared to Chalice’s highest salary of $35,001.

Next Sunday, March 25, is Solidarity Sunday, the day for the 2012 Share Lent collection.  Those interested in finding charities which assist the poor in the developing world and are also pro-life are welcomed to contact LifeSiteNews.

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What the media doesn’t want you to know: Americans hate the HHS mandate

by Chuck Colson Mon Mar 19 12:40 EST Comments (70)

 
President Obama with Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Health and Human Services department.

March 19, 2012 (Breakpoint.org) - The most important talking point used by those who support the HHS contraception mandate is that the Catholic Bishops and their allies are “out-of-touch” and represent a minority view.

You have no doubt heard things like “98 percent of Catholic women use contraception” and “most Americans, especially women, support the HHS mandate.”

Well, it’s not true. The first assertion is based on a study by the Guttmacher Institute, which as an affiliate of Planned Parenthood, is hardly an objective observer. Even the Washington Post compared the media to Pinocchio for using these statistics.

In fact, the most that can be concluded is that many sexually-active Catholic women have, at some point in their lives, used contraception. That says nothing about whether they and other Americans support the HHS mandate.

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Speaking of which, the claim that most Americans, especially women, support the HHS mandate is equally bogus. I know that will surprise you, given what the administration and the media are constantly telling us. But repeating a falsehood doesn’t make it true.

For example, a recent New York Times story told readers that, according to its latest poll “women were split as to whether health insurance plans should cover the costs of birth control and whether employers with religious objections should be able to opt out.”

As Mickey Kaus at the Daily Caller put it, “if the Times says women were ‘split,’ you know that must mean they were actually narrowly against the [Times’] preferred position.” And that’s precisely so. By a 46-44 margin, women favored a religious exemption for all employers. The gap widened to 53-38 in the case of religiously-affiliated employers.

Men, who do vote after all, were even more supportive of opt-out provisions. Overall, Americans, by a 57-to-36 margin favor allowing religiously-affiliated employers to opt out. Remember that statistic.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed similar results: by 49-to-34 percent, Americans oppose requiring “religious institutions” to provide contraception and abortion-inducing drugs.

Now like I say, this may surprise you. It certainly comes as a surprise to the media. While, as Kaus says, the president “appears to be losing the public debate” on the HHS mandate, the media, which overwhelmingly supports the mandate, can’t see it. When the president’s approval ratings drop, they cite gas prices instead.

Well they may not be able to see it, but I can, and you should too. This is a battle that is both crucial and winnable. The important thing is to keep the focus on where it belongs: religious freedom. The early polls were a reaction to the media’s initial announcement that this was all about contraception, but the Catholic bishops and everybody else has been working hard to educate them.

And you need to continue to educate people that this is about religious liberty. This battle won’t be won in the pews — it will be won over the backyard fence and during kids’ baseball games. It’s getting warm outside, so break out the grill, throw on some burgers and hot dogs, invite your neighbors over, and start talking. And then phone and email your legislators and the Administration.

As Mark Twain once said, “a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

Okay folks, put on your shoes, we are winning.

Reprinted with permission from Breakpoint.org

 

Tags: abortion, birth control mandate, contraception, obama

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I made the list, but I can’t say I’m happy about it

by Chuck Colson Mon Mar 19 12:10 EST Comments (24)

 

March 19, 2012 (Breakpoint.org) - When I was going through Watergate, my life was threatened repeatedly. And in the early years of my ministry with Prison Fellowship, the authorities had to monitor various individuals who had made threats against me.

In 1983 on my way to Prison Fellowship International’s convocation in Belfast, Northern Ireland, I learned at a press conference that I had been placed on the hit list of the Irish Republican Army. The IRA was threatened by the work of Prison Fellowship there, because we were reconciling Catholic and Protestant prisoners in the midst of a very hot war euphemistically called “the Troubles.”

In fact, when Patty and I arrived in Belfast, we were accorded special protection.

So I am no stranger to hit lists and threats.

But, it seems like I’ve made another list — and frankly, I’m surprised, though, as I’ll explain, I guess I shouldn’t be.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, with the misleading acronym GLAAD, has placed 36 commentators, yours truly among them, on its Commentator Accountability Project list. GLAAD claims, and I quote, that it is seeking to “educate the media about the extreme rhetoric of over three dozen activists who are often given a platform to speak in opposition to LGBT people and the issues that affect their lives.”

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Uh, okay. GLAAD’s press release goes on to say that everyone on the list has expressed an “extreme animus towards the entire LGBT community.” Its website accuses those on the list of “violent anti-LGBT rhetoric.”

So, yes, I’m surprised that Princeton’s Robert George and I, two of the three co-authors of the Manhattan Declaration, made the list. When we wrote the Declaration, we went to enormous lengths to be sensitive to homosexuals, to proclaim that homosexuals possess “profound, inherent, and equal dignity,” and to call upon the church to resist “disdainful condemnation” of homosexuals.

And in my 35 years of ministering behind bars, I’ve embraced and prayed with numerous men and women dying of AIDS. We have called all sinners — gay and straight — to repentance in Jesus Christ.

So, yes, I’m surprised I made the list. But sadly, I realize I shouldn’t be. For one thing, this type of intimidation is par for the course for many in the so-called gay-rights movement. Not interested in dialogue, they seem more interested in demonizing and shouting down their opponents.

For another, their definition of “gay bashing” is skewed. For them, anything short of renouncing the historical Christian teaching on sexuality is akin to hate. If I say that homosexual sex is a sin, they say I’m hateful. Yet I also say that pre-marital sex is a sin, as is drinking too much. Is that hateful, too?

Over the years I have been very careful not to engage in gay-bashing. I can’t think of a single time I have. I seek to honestly discuss the issues. So if any reporter has evidence of gay bashing on my part, I’d like to hear it. But again, I reject the notion that disagreement — even strong disagreement — is gay bashing or hateful.

I can’t speak for the others on this latest list, but I for one, will not be intimidated into silence. No matter what list I make!

Reprinted with permission from Breakpoint.org

Tags: homosexuality

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A tale of two sex hormones

by Anthony Esolen Mon Mar 19 11:58 EST Comments (8)

 
Barry Bonds

March 19, 2012 (thePublicDiscourse.com) - In 1999, at the ripe old baseball age of 35, Barry Bonds, one of the five or six greatest players ever to carry the bat, was finally beginning to wear down. Even aside from the effects of aging, the long baseball seasons take their toll on the body: nagging little injuries, a pulled muscle here, a sprain there, a touch of arthritis, a fractured bone that never quite healed right. The muscles don’t contract with the same old lightning speed. You’re smarter, and you make fewer mistakes, but your batting average drops, you lose range in the field, and you’re out of the lineup more often. So it was with Bonds that year. He batted just .262 and played in 102 games, his lowest figures in a decade. What with his power and his batting eye, he was still a great player, but his best years were behind him.

Except that they weren’t, not exactly. Bonds arrived in camp the next year with a new body. He had put on weight, but lost body fat. And his bat speed was breathtaking, so much so that pitchers were afraid of leaving the ball anywhere over the plate. In 2001, the 37-year-old Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs, 24 more than he had ever hit before, and slugged .863, almost 200 points more than his previous high. From 2000 through 2004, Bonds’ records are wholly unlike those of any other player in baseball history, as witness his unimaginable 232 walks in 2004, when he was 40 years old.

Well, we know the reason for these strange results, and for the sudden ability of otherwise ordinary infielders to slam the ball over the fence to the opposite field. It’s “steroids,” the popular term for artificial testosterone, ingested to repair and build muscle. Some of these steroids may be legally prescribed for certain medical conditions, normal aging not among them. Similar drugs that were legal at the time, like the androsterone taken by Mark McGwire in 1998 when he hit 70 home runs, meet with the reproach of fans anyway. Lovers of baseball have, with remarkable unanimity, decried these years as the “steroid era.” They accuse the players of a kind of cheating that goes far beyond the gamesmanship, say, of a pitcher “cutting” the ball on his belt buckle, or a man on second stealing signs from the catcher. In fact, they seem unwilling to elect any of the cheaters to the Hall of Fame, at least until many years pass by.

They are also not going to accept the argument that the ingestion of testosterone is a matter of individual choice. That is because of the nature of the game. It would give an advantage to the players who “juice”—a considerable advantage, as it turns out. It would also compromise the venerable history of the game, making it impossible to judge the worth of contemporary players against that of players past. In other words, to allow the use of testosterone would immediately immiserate those who do not use it; and it would alter the game itself. It would do so, moreover, by means of a tissue-growing hormone that poses obvious medical risks: the growth of cancerous tissue, for instance.

Yet, when one compares this sex hormone, testosterone, to the sex hormone now in the news, estrogen, it is hard to see why, on medical and social grounds alone, the one would be severely restricted and the other so freely dispensed that people are ready, not simply to affirm its legality, but to mandate that people and institutions violate their religious faith to purchase it for women who want it.

There are some medical uses for estrogen, as there are some medical uses for testosterone. These are not at issue. The Catholic Church does not oppose the use of estrogen to treat a disease. But there is also an immediate health-related benefit that testosterone secures. It builds and repairs muscle. That is, taken by itself, a good thing. If it helped Barry Bonds to swing a bat, it would help Barry the Miner to swing a pickax, or Barry the Infantryman to climb up a cliff, or Barry the Roadworker to heal from the battering his frame takes when he spends a day with the jackhammer. Yet we judge, correctly, that these Barries should not be ingesting testosterone. As I see it, we do so for three reasons: the benefit is not necessary; the benefit is outweighed by the risks of the drug; and the use of the drug by some men would put others at an unfair disadvantage—it would immiserate them. The first two reasons have to do primarily with the individual; the third, with society.

Now compare this drug to estrogen. Unlike testosterone, estrogen does not confer any obvious medical benefit upon a woman who ingests it. Its use when ingested for non-medical reasons is to fool the body into the condition of pregnancy when it is not actually pregnant. If anything, the drug is attended by a host of troubles, from minor annoyances to those severe enough that some women cannot use it. Testosterone will help Barry lift things up and put them down, and that, considered alone, is a good thing. We need strong men to lift things up and put them down. But estrogen enhances no such practical performance.

Someone might justify the use of testosterone on the grounds that our bodies are always repairing muscle; indeed the only way to build muscle is to tear it down and “persuade” the body to compensate by building even more. I do not buy the argument. I only note that it makes at least a superficial claim to being medical in nature: it has to do with a bodily function that needs repair. But the use of estrogen as contraception is not medical at all. Quite the contrary. A couple who use estrogen to prevent the conception of a child do not ingest the drug to enhance the performance of their reproductive organs, or to heal any debility therein. Their worry is rather that those organs are functioning in a healthy and natural way, and they wish they weren’t. They want to obtain not ability but debility. They want not to repair but to thwart.

Here it is usually argued that the drug is medical because it prevents a disease. But that is to invert the meaning of words. When the reproductive organs are used in a reproductive act, the conception of a child is the healthy and natural result. That is a plain biological fact. If John and Mary are using their organs in that way, and they cannot conceive a child, then this calls for a remedy; that is the province of medicine. It is also the province of medicine to shield us against casual exposure to communicable diseases—exposure that we cannot prevent, and that subjects us to debility or death. Childbearing and malaria are not the same sorts of thing.

Moreover, estrogen, like testosterone, is a tissue-growing hormone, and therefore subjects the woman who ingests it to a much higher risk of developing cancer, not to mention other serious medical troubles. Indeed, if it were not dangerous, drug companies would not be struggling to keep the dosage as low as possible. So the widespread use of estrogen actually involves widespread and grave medical harm. In a country as large as ours, with breast cancer as common as it is, even a smallish increase in the risk of cancer would mean thousands of deaths; and the increase in risk is not small.

And this brings us to the heart of the matter. The argument for the use of this drug is not medical (since it does not remedy anything, it does not shield against communicable disease, and it actually subjects the user to medical risk). It is social. It is simply this: Without the drug, many millions of sexually active women would become pregnant who do not wish to be so. But now we are not in the realm of individual choices alone. We must address the whole of society. We must address the common good.

Here is where the comparison with testosterone helps clarify matters. Again, if Bonds uses the drug, that immediately immiserates those who do not wish to use it. It helps this player, here, turn on the inside fastball. But no player is an island unto himself. The drug hurts everyone, because it hurts the game itself; it is destructive of the common good.

The same is true of the artificial estrogen. It “helps” this couple, here, do the child-making thing, without making a child. It “helps” that couple, there, do the marital thing without being married. But it immiserates all those couples who, in a healthier age, would not wish to do so. It alters everyone’s view of what marriage and sexual congress are for. The result is, as anyone with a little common sense could predict, that there are far more children born out of wedlock now than there were before the artificial estrogen changed the whole nature of the game. We have produced now generations of people who have never known an intact marriage. The sexual revolution has devastated the lower classes, and renders us ever less willing to practice the difficult and self-denying virtues, while we are ever more willing to surrender genuine liberty for the illusions of license.

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Anthony Esolen is Professor of English at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, and the author of Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child and Ironies of Faith. He has translated Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata and Dante’s The Divine Comedy.

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352 babies saved from abortion during 40 Days…so far

by Shawn Carney, 40 Days for Life Campaign Director Mon Mar 19 10:36 EST Comments (8)

 

March 19, 2012 (40DaysforLife.com) - In Psalm 126, we read: “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” When we go to pray in front of abortion facilities, we go with joy.

Today we look at the fruit of offering joy in a place of despair — and praise God that thus far during this 40 Days for Life campaign, we are aware of at least 352 babies who have been saved from abortion!

Here are just a few of the great reports of the Lord’s victories.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

40 Days for Life vigil participants watched as a car pulled up to the abortion center. A woman got out — while a man and three small children waited in the parking lot.

A volunteer went to see if the man would speak to her. He did — telling her it would just be too difficult to have a fourth child.

A counselor told him of the help available and how abortion is not a solution for his wife. She told him that he had three beautiful gifts from God in the back seat … and God was giving them another beautiful gift — the baby his wife was carrying.

After a while, the woman came out in tears. There would be no abortion. She then returned to the abortion center and got her money back.

“What courage they had,” the volunteer said. “What a wonderful God we serve!”

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS

A young couple had been parked down the street for more than half an hour. But all of a sudden, they got out of the car and made a dash for the abortion center.

One of the prayer volunteers tried to speak to them. “The girl looked confused – and the boyfriend was set on her going in. I called out to her and she turned and smiled at me.” She said to the young woman, “You do not need to go through this. You should make the decision. After all you’re the one who is pregnant.”

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They went inside – and later stormed back out. “She evidently had second thoughts and came to discuss them with the boyfriend,” the volunteer said. “He took her back into the clinic. They came out again and the girl looked happy. The boyfriend drove out recklessly and screeched all the car tires.”

Please pray for this young couple — and their child.

FORT WAYNE, INDIANA

One of the women praying at the 40 Days for Life vigil in Fort Wayne was able to speak to a woman outside the abortion center. “I asked her if she wanted a free ultrasound and she seemed a little confused,” the volunteer said.

She explained that if they went to the pregnancy care center next door to the abortion center, she could have the ultrasound right away – and it would be free. If she went to the abortion facility, they would only set up an appointment for another day – but expect her to pay $100 right now.

She agreed to go to the pro-life center. After the woman saw the ultrasound image, she decided to keep her baby.

“She has three children already and was panicked at the reality of the fourth child,” said the volunteer.” I can’t help but think about how close those three children came to never knowing the sibling that was spared! It’s hard to fathom how many people may be completely unaware of a sibling who was never given the right to live.”

Here’s the link to today’s devotional.

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Australian dies tragically after using the abortion drug RU486

by Jason Rushton, Australia correspondent Mon Mar 19 08:57 EST Comments (14)

Updated: 03/21/2012 at 6:21 pm. The original version of this story gave an incorrect figure for the number of women hospitalized for complications from medical abortions. We apologize for the error.

MELBOURNE, March 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - It is the first known death in Australia from the controversial pill, which was the centre of a heated debate in Federal Parliament in 2006, and more recently a criminal trial involving a young couple in the courts of Queensland.

The woman died in 2010 from sepsis - that is, a severe bacterial infection in the bloodstream - several days after being prescribed the drug, otherwise known as mifepristone, from a Marie Stopes International Australia (MSIA) clinic.

The news reached the public after the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) - Australia’s government agency responsible for approving drugs - issued a notice to RU486 prescribers advising them to take a more active role in following-up with patients who are issued the drug.

The TGA and MSIA, claiming respect for patient confidentiality, have not released any details of the circumstances of the woman’s death.

The case was reported to a coroner, but no inquest was convened.

MSIA clinical services director Jill Michelson told The Australian newspaper that the woman had died some days after having the medical abortion; she could not say whether there had been further contact between the service and the woman.

“This is a tragic outcome and our sympathies are with her family. The coroner dispensed with holding an inquest, and the case is closed,” she said.

RU486 is usually administered in a clinic, while a separate drug - misoprostol - is administered by the patient themselves within 48 hours at home, causing a miscarriage.

In its coverage of the death yesterday, The Australian reported that MSIA has supervised 18,000 medical abortions in Australia since 2009.

LifeSiteNews.com was unable to obtain a copy of the TGA notice.

Dr. Deirdre Little is a doctor from the mid-North Coast of NSW who warned a Senate inquiry in 2005 of the complications that can arise from RU486.

“This drug is not as safe as it is touted to be, it needs a lot more supervision than is usually available, particularly in rural areas; and it is a drug with some unpleasant side effects as well as complications,” she said.

Explaining why medical abortions can cause infections, she said: “The drug will cause fetal demise, but the baby may not come away straight away, and the placenta may not come away completely. So you can end up with tissue in the uterus that is a good medium for bacteria growing, that the uterus hasn’t expelled. So you’ve got a uterine surface that is prone to infection, and then that gets into the bloodstream causing septicemia.”

Dr. Caroline de Costa, a Queensland obstetrician who has been an outspoken campaigner for wider RU486 availability in Australia, told ABC Radio that she now fears a backlash against the drug.

“I think we have to be very clear that if we’re going to continue using the drug for early medical abortion and using it at home, then services have very, very good mechanisms in place for looking after women once they actually leave the clinic,” she said.

A study in South Australia last year recorded 324 instances of women being presented to emergency departments after receiving RU486 for medical and/or surgical abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Yesterday’s news comes only a few months after a forty-two year old woman in Melbourne died after visiting an abortion clinic. 

Marie Stopes International Australia would charge $450 for a medical abortion from their clinic in the Sydney CBD, although this price could vary depending on individual circumstances.

Tags: australia, death, mifepristone, ru486

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Defy the Forces of Darkness

by Ben Johnson Mon Mar 19 07:40 EST Comments (3)

 
LifeSiteNews.com journalist, Fr. Ben Johnson

When those of us who defend innocent life are asked why we take such a public and unpopular stand, it has become a cliché to say we want to become “a voice for the voiceless.”

When I am asked the greatest benefit a journalist gets from working at LifeSiteNews, I may answer it is precisely to speak for those whose voices would never otherwise be heard – but I do not mean just defenseless babies.

In our mass media, next to children in the womb, the most silenced constituency in the country is the pro-life movement itself.

The “mainstream” media have perfected bias to a fine art, effectively shutting out all those who not accept hedonism, consumerism, and the cult of Self.

Those who support the clear teachings of science,  hold to the consensus of the world’s bioethicists and biologists, or accept the teachings of their faith are portrayed as ignorant, extreme, even potentially treasonous.

This prejudice is so deep that the media often describe the two sides as “pro-choice” and “anti-choice,” or “anti-women’s rights.”

Without LifeSiteNews.com, many pro-lifers will never be heard, much less have a forum to address the nation, and the world, in their own terms.

Take the case of Susan Pine, a West Palm Beach pro-life leader who suffered after her own abortion experience. She decided no woman should have to endure the pain she did, turning her resolution into a one-woman pro-life truth center outside a notorious Florida abortion mill.

After she gave a willing driver a piece of pro-life literature, the government hauled her into court on federal charges…without introducing any evidence to prove she violated the law. The judge wrote in his opinion the case may have been “the product of a concerted effort between the Government and the [abortionist], which began well before the date of the incident at issue, to quell Ms. Pine’s activities.”

That is, he thought the government dragged Ms. Pine into court on trumped-up charges in order to shut her up. Her lawyer told me personally that, although the mainstream media knew of this judge’s opinion, they had NOT reported it.

Only outlets like LifeSiteNews.com could get this story out, he said. Our work was vital – not just for your information, but to help assure justice was done.

(Click Here to Donate)

George Orwell once wrote, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” These are times of great falsehood. But LifeSiteNews promises we will never buckle nor relent in our efforts to bring you the truth.

Why would anyone immerse himself in the Culture of Death and report on its lies? Because it is only when we are grounded in the truth that we can find answers. We pray the world’s leaders will continue to inch closer to the truth and one day codify that into law.

But the knowledge that abortion scars women for life gives expectant mothers the information they need to realize abortion is the worst decision for all parties involved.

It gives defenders of the unborn the facts they need to convince their children, their neighbors, and their circle of influence to make a choice for life.

When I see that we have eight days left in our campaign and are only a quarter of the way to our goal, I fear. I worry those who have selflessly dedicated their lives to saving others will be forced to go back into the days of rampant media prejudice and bias.

I worry that those who have become the voice for the voiceless will lose their voice. Please help assure the forces of death can never silence the pro-life movement – the movement dedicated to the truth of the unborn.

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Fr. Ben Johnson
Journalist
LifeSiteNews.com

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Ontario Teachers’ union threatens LifeSiteNews for using logo in story

by Steve Jalsevac Mon Mar 19 07:37 EST Comments (12)

 
Steve Jalsevac

March 19, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - LifeSiteNews received a letter from the legal counsel of the Ontario Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) threatening legal action unless we removed the OECTA logo as an illustration in our March 10 news story, Ontario Catholic Teachers’ Association hosts conference promoting gay agenda.

It took a few days for the letter to make its way to me since none of us actually work from the Canadian mailing address, but today the logo was removed. I guess they might have a right to demand its removal, but it is almost unheard of for any of the numerous organizations that we write about to make such a threat. The only other time in 15 years I can recall getting such a threat was from UNICEF, which also did not like what we were reporting about them.

It would have been a little more palatable had OECTA attempted to refute in its letter some of the disturbing information revealed in our story. Nope. Avoid the real issues and just threaten and intimidate for whatever reason you can dig up.

It makes you wonder - a supposedly “Catholic” teachers’ union threatens one of the only news services in Canada that stands up for a lot of the key moral principles that Catholics and all Christians should be standing for.

I suspect that there are Catholic teachers in the union who would not be happy about this legal thuggery. Others would be, however.

What very many faithful Ontario Catholics can’t understand is how this organization has been allowed to keep its “Catholic” designation and even teach a required course to all Catholic religion teachers for over 30 years. I attended one of those mandatory OECTA courses with my teacher wife in the 1970s and could not believe the heresies they were shoveling onto these impressionable young teachers.

There have been thousands of complaints over the years, but no one in the Church hierarchy or the school boards has yet put a stop to it. Why? This is no small question.

OECTA, a very large and wealthy teachers’ union, places a huge emphasis on left-wing or politically correct “social justice” causes, such as Development and Peace’s campaign against the use of bottled water. But when it comes to Catholic doctrine and moral teachings - the transmission of which is the purpose of Catholic schools - it has been contributing to the distortion of the faith and morals of thousands and thousands of teachers and students. This keeps going on and on, decade after decade.

I have never understood this. It’s very disturbing. What have the shepherds been so afraid of?

Tags: catholic education, homosexuality, oecta

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