Saturday, April 7, 2012

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Vatican letter demands action on Austrian dissident priests’ group the day after Papal blast

by Hilary White, Rome Correspondent Sat Apr 07 15:16 EST Comments (17)


ROME, April 7, 2012 ( - According to inside sources, the head of the Austrian Catholic Church and cardinal archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, was not informed ahead of time of Pope Benedict XVI’s intention to criticise a group of dissident priests in his sermon at St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday night. Today it was revealed that Schönborn received a letter from the Vatican demanding action, after ten months of “discussion” between the cardinal and the group calling itself the “Austrian Priests’ Initiative.”

The group issued a manifesto last year demanding the Church change teachings on the ordination of women and married clergy and the reception of Communion by non-Catholics and divorced and remarried persons, and calling on their fellow clergy to disobey the Vatican.

Schönborn said on Friday that he now wants a “clarification” on the group’s demands.

“There must be a clarification here about the ‘Call for Disobedience’. We bishops have said this from the beginning, the word ‘disobedience’ cannot be allowed to stand. I think we need a clarification, a public statement and I think we need to address this matter soon.”

Shortly after the group grabbed headlines in Austria with its manifesto last year, Cardinal Schönborn told Der Standard, “This cannot go on. If someone has decided to go down the path of dissent, that has consequences.”

Nonetheless, since then, the signatories of the group have remained in good standing with the Church and a spokesman for the cardinal has denied that any ultimatum or sanctions have been declared. The cardinal is said to be interested only in “discussing” with the priests “the needs of Catholics”.

Moreover, the Cardinal himself has also publicly called for the Church to acquiesce to the group’s agenda. He has admitted that the call for “reform” is common among clergy in Austria, and said that the Church does need some reform. He told Die Presse, “We, the bishops, often feel misunderstood in Rome; the priests think the same about their relationship with us.”

The cardinal has a long history of ambivalence on the same issues brought up in the group’s manifesto, and has been at the centre of several scandals in which he has appeared to support the aims of the homosexualist movement in the Church.

In 2010, Cardinal Schönborn criticised the Church for what he characterised as its refusal to accept homosexual relations. Schönborn told the far-left UK Tablet magazine that the Church should also consider allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion since “many people don’t even marry at all any longer.”

“We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships. A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous,” Schönborn said.

It remains to be seen what Rome’s reaction to his polite request for “clarification” will be, with the Pope’s patience publicly wearing thin. On Holy Thursday, the day the Catholic liturgical calendar focuses on the priesthood and its origins in apostolic times, Pope Benedict, in a rare move, publicly criticised the group, asking whether they were motivated by a desire to reform the Church or merely to pursue their own personal agendas. 

Pope Benedict devoted the bulk of his sermon on Thursday night to the situation, saying, “Do we sense here anything of that configuration to Christ which is the precondition for true renewal, or do we merely sense a desperate push to do something to change the Church in accordance with one’s own preferences and ideas?”

The German language news service has revealed that the letter was sent to the cardinal after several weeks of behind-the-scenes activities, with Rome demanding action. says that “several well-informed sources” have confirmed that Rome has asked the Austrian bishops to “do something” about the dissident priests.

In 2011, the group claimed to include 317 priests and 52 deacons, a number that makes up approximately 15 per cent of the Catholic clergy of Austria. In August last year, a survey found that over 70 per cent of Austrians support the group’s aims. According to the Oekonsult polling institute, 86.8 per cent said they believe that the celibacy rule “creates problems” for the Church. Another study showed that 31 per cent of Catholic priests “unreservedly” support the group, with only 28 per cent opposing.

The group, claiming to be motivated by the “spirit of Vatican II,” has demanded that the Church allow women’s ordination and the ordination of married men; that non-Catholics and divorced and remarried persons - according to the Church people in unrepented adulterous liaisons - should be admitted to Holy Communion without question and that laymen should be permitted to preach and lead “communion services”.

The group’s leader, Monsignor Helmut Schueller, who was vicar general of the Vienna archdiocese under Schönborn from 1995 to 1999 and once led the Austrian chapter of the international Catholic charity Caritas, has gone on lecture tours, telling similar groups around Europe that he will not recant.

The Catholic Church in Austria is mired in a crisis, in which 87,000 Austrians have formally renounced their ties to the Church in 2010 alone, mainly in response to the scandals of priests sexually molesting young men and boys. While over 85 per cent of the country is nominally Catholic, recent research has shown that 41 per cent attend Mass only at Easter and Christmas and 35 per cent never go to church.

Once widely regarded as a “conservative,” Cardinal Schönborn was close to Pope John Paul II and was one of the authors of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, but he has been a thorn in the side of Benedict’s papacy for some years.

Recent history between the Austrian bishops and Benedict’s papacy has not been a happy one. In 2009, the Austrian bishops were called to a series of emergency meetings with the pope, in which Benedict frankly asked them to drop their effective opposition to his attempts at reform.

Pope Benedict had previously attempted to place in the scandal-plagued diocese of Linz his hand-picked choice of bishop Gerhard Maria Wagner, but the choice was blocked by the bishops who refused to countenance Wagner’s fidelity to Catholic teaching, labeling him an “ultraconservative”. Pope Benedict asked the bishop to maintain “full fidelity to Vatican II and the Magisterium of the post-conciliar Church.”

On the same day as those meetings closed, however, Schönborn handed the pope a petition, that he called an “initiative of the lay faithful,” demanding the abolition of compulsory celibacy for priests, the return to ministry of priests who have already left to be married, the opening of the diaconate to women, and the ordination of married men to the priesthood. The cardinal denied at the time that he agreed with the petition’s demands, but said that he believed the Vatican should know what the laity of Austria are thinking.

Schönborn has been at the centre of several scandals, many of which revolve around the aims of the homosexualist movement within the Church. In 2006, it was revealed that the rector of his cathedral had instituted a para-liturgical ceremony to bless “couples, fiancés and people in love” including homosexual partners. Speaking to the Austrian newspaper Die Presse, the rector, Fr. Anton Faber, said he regretted that “today there is no possibility in the Church to bless a union of people with homosexual feelings.” 

Faber told Die Presse that his action had the full approval of the cardinal and the other Austrian bishops and that he and a group of fellow priests were engaged in a campaign for acceptance within the Church of the homosexual disorder. His actions, he said, “are based on solid Catholic ground and are in a 100% concordance with the directives of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference.”

In 2008, Schönborn refused to intervene when it was revealed that the cathedral museum was displaying an exhibition of works by Marxist atheist artist Alfred Hrdlicka, depicting, among other things, Jesus Christ and his Apostles as homosexuals and the Last Supper as an orgy. Catholics and others around the world reacted with horror at a news report by Gloria TV News, showing some of the works, but they were never removed from the museum.

Read related LSN coverage:
* Vienna cardinal awards papal knighthood to notorious pro-abortion Austrian politician
* Pope’s special investigator closes Austrian seminary embroiled in homosexual photo scandal
* Pope read Austrian bishop “the riot act” says esteemed Vatican reporter
* Pope to Bishops: Don’t water down Church teachings

Tags: christoph schönborn, homosexuality

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Wyoming state gvt to pay $30,000 for censoring pro-life group

by Ben Johnson Sat Apr 07 13:26 EST Comments (6)

The pro-life display the state of Wyoming censored.

CHEYENNE, WYOMING, April 7, 2012, ( – The state government has reached a settlement with a Wyoming family organization after denying the group the right to display a pro-life message in the state Capitol Building.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal approved the settlement Thursday, which prescribes the state to pay WyWatch $30,000 in attorney’s fees, as well as $1 in nominal damages.

The state acknowledged it violated the First Amendment rights of WyWatch Family Action by refusing its petition after granting that right to other groups.

Rich Cathcart, the state’s construction manager, originally gave permission to set up a display in the Herschler Gallery, located in a hallway Wyoming legislators pass through when walking from the Capitol Building to their parking lot. One picture shows a group of women beneath the words “We Regret Our Abortions” and includes the website for the “Silent No More” campaign; the other depicts an unborn baby and a passage of Scripture. Neither image is graphic.

They scheduled the display for February 2, the beginning of the upcoming legislative session, as the legislature was considering two new pro-life bills.

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

Becky Vandeberghe, chairman of WyWatch, said, “It’s sad that it took such drastic measures” for the state to recognize their right to speak.

The successful case featured a strange coalition of a pro-life organization aided by the American Civil Liberties Union. The state chapter of the ACLU filed an amicus brief with the court in January. 

“While the ACLU doesn’t agree with WyWatch’s anti-choice message,” said ACLU of Wyoming attorney Jennifer Horvath, “we firmly support their right to say it.”

“The best antidote to speech we disagree with is more speech,” she said.


Tags: aclu, wyoming

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Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu flips back on abortion, says he’s ‘pro-life’ again

by Ben Johnson Sat Apr 07 13:24 EST Comments (4)

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.

FLORENCE, ARIZONA, April 7, 2012,  ( – Arizona political observers say Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who made headlines for his tough stance on illegal immigration before becoming involved in a scandal with a homosexual partner, has changed his mind on abortion again.

“I’m still the pro-life candidate who will fight for new jobs and against increasing the national debt,” Babeu says in his first advertisement for his campaign in the state’s 4th U.S. Congressional district.

Babeu also has said he was “pro-life” as a councilman in Massachusetts, where he was affiliated with Pat Robertson’s 1988 presidential run.

But when he ran for the Republican nomination to the Massachusetts state senate in 1996, he told voters he’d had a change of heart.
A Boston Phoenix article from 2000 describes Babeu as “pro-choice and pro-gay-rights (though he concedes that he was pro-life at age 18).”

“I’ve gone from more conservative to more moderate, a Massachusetts Republican,” Babeu said

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

In February, Babeu’s ex-boyfriend, Jose, told CNN the sheriff had threatned to deport him to Mexico if he went forward with news of their affair. Babeu denied the charge but stepped down as the co-chair of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in Arizona.

After being outed, Babeu offered that, as a Republican, he favors same-sex “marriage” and open homosexual service in the military. “You can legislate love,” he said.

Babeu’s endorsement of Senator John McCain over primary challenge J.D. Hayworth in 2010 generated controversy after Babeu appeared on “The Political Cesspool,” a radio program critics say is racialist. Hayworth asked McCain to pull Babeu’s television ads.

Despite both media feeding frenzies, McCain supports Babeu, saying the sheriff is a friend.

The Republican primary is scheduled for August 28.



Tags: arizona, paul babeu

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“Good” Friday: Alabama abortion clinic to close over health violations

by Ben Johnson Sat Apr 07 12:25 EST Comments (4)

The state has determined its doors will close by May 18.

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, April 7, 2012, ( – An Alabama abortion clinic with a history of safety and medical violations will surrender its license. New Woman All Women Health Care clinic in Birmingham cease operations no later than May 18, following a scathing, 76 page report from the Alabama Department of Public Health.

According to a press release issued on Good Friday, the department found “significant failures in maintaining compliance with the Rules of the Alabama State Board of Health for the safe and effective provision of care.”
In January, two victims of a botched abortion on the site were carried to an ambulance’s gurney, because the facility is not accessible for emergency care workers. The ambulance had been turned away an hour earlier, then returned to the scene.

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

CEC For Life noted that the site’s infractions include:
Failure to maintain policies or procedures for administration of medications or medicine error which, on Jan 21, 2012, resulted in the hospitalization of at least three women.

  • Regular practice of non-licensed employees performing procedures that require a licensed nurse or doctor.
  • Use of equipment with inspection dates from 2007 or no inspection date at all.
  • Inexperienced employees working independently with no documentation of training, which directly resulted in the hospitalization of two patients on January 21, 2012.
  • Failure to keep accurate, complete medical records for patients. The state survey team found ultrasound photos dated days after procedures, numerous charts signed by an off-duty nurse, inconsistent time logs, and purposefully altered records.

Other deficiencies include lack of documentation for physicians, failure to follow-up with patients, and failure to monitor patients for discharge.

“New Woman boasts that it provides women’s health care, but anyone who reviews the Department of Health’s recent report can see what they really offer – unsafe procedures conducted by uncaring doctors and untrained employees,” said CEC For Life Director Fr. Terry Gensemer. “They have ignored the law, injured women, and lied to the state.” 

The closure will leave five abortion clinics in Alabama, including a Planned Parenthood location in Birmingham.

The facility’s owner, Diane Derzis, also owns the only remaining abortion clinic in neighboring Mississippi, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. A representative of Planned Parenthood said, “I am sick” about its prospects to remain open after the Mississippi state senate passed H.B. 1390, a bill requiring all state abortionists to be certified OB-GYNs with admitting privileges to a local hospital, on Thursday. Governor Phil Bryant has indicated he will sign the bill. 

National headlines implied Derzis could close its doors if she failed to fulfill the new regulations. However, Barbara Whitehead, president of Mississippi Right to Life, told, “I honestly don’t think in itself [the law] will close it.”

Derzis is threatening to sue if she is unable to comply with the impending higher health and medical standards.

The Jackson facility became a site of confrontation on Wednesday, as a man with two hunting knives slashed a sign being held by pro-life activists. The group States of Refuge was reading the Bible in front of the clinic.


Tags: alabama

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