Tim O’Neill

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200+ Catholic healthcare workers celebrate ‘White Mass’ under shadow of HHS mandate

Tim O’Neill
By Tim O'Neill
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SAN DIEGO, November 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On October 27th, more than two hundred faithful, including doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals, gathered at St. Therese of Carmel parish to celebrate San Diego’s first White Mass.

San Diego’s Coadjutor Bishop, Bishop Cirilo Flores, celebrated the Mass with seven concelebrating priests and a deacon. The White Mass, named for the white medical garments worn by those in the medical community, has been celebrated in the United States since the development of the Catholic Medical Association in the early 1930’s. The White Mass, in addition to honoring those in the healthcare profession, provides Catholic healthcare professionals an opportunity to come together as a medical community and unite their medical vocation with the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.

Addressing the healthcare professionals in attendance, Bishop Flores said, “My friends, you have been called in a special way to share in the healing ministry of Jesus. Your vocation is truly a gift to the Church, the diocese, to our community, and to those in need.”

The event was co-sponsored by St. Gianna Physician’s Guild and the San Diego based Culture of Life Family Services, a medical practice devoted to treating the whole person, body and soul, with particular emphasis on advancing the culture of life.

San Diego’s inaugural White Mass kicked off as politicians and Church leaders continue to debate the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate. The HHS mandate requires Catholic employers, not covered by the federal government’s narrowly defined conscience exemption, to provide health insurance plans that cover free access to contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization - services that are contrary to Church teaching.

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Bishop Flores said, “Our religious liberty must be protected when we walk out the [church] doors, so that we can live our faith without compromising our religious convictions.”

During Mass, the St. Therese of Carmel choir preformed, for the first time in the United States, the official Italian hymn dedicated to St. Gianna Molla, a modern-day saint canonized by Blessed John Paul II. Following Mass, attendees had the opportunity to venerate a first class relic of Saint Gianna and the stethoscope she used in the care of her patients. St. Gianna, the patron saint of mothers, physicians, and preborn children was an Italian mother, wife, and physician.

St. Gianna described her work as a physician as a “priestly mission” saying, “Just as the priest can touch Jesus, so we doctors touch Jesus in the bodies of our patients, in the poor, the young, the old, and children.”

Thomas McKenna, the director of St. Gianna Physician’s Guild, said that St. Gianna’s description of the medical vocation is at the center of the Guild because, “It goes totally contrary to the secular and humanist idea of what medicine is portrayed as today. This aspect of medicine being a ‘priestly mission,’ involves caring for the soul as well as the body. That is what we are wanting to bring back into society today and that is what the position of the Catholic Church is.”

Dr. Theresa Stigen, a Natural Procreative (NaPro) Technology trained physician from Mystical Rose Obstetrics and Gynecology located in Fallbrook said, “St Gianna has always been kind of a role model for me.” Stigen continued, “To be present at a White Mass, where her relics were present, a first class relic in particular, was really powerful.”

The White Mass also served as an opportunity for those involved in the broader pro-life movement to witness the pro-life efforts being made on the medical front. Roger Lopez, a sidewalk counselor with Helpers of God’s Precious Infants said, “To see all of these physicians come together, that understand and recognize the teachings of the Church, and that will help women, that won’t refer them for abortion, I think that’s fantastic.”

McKenna, with Episcopal advisors Cardinal Raymond Burke and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, developed the St. Gianna Enshrinement program. By offering St. Gianna as a model, the enshrinement program aims to encourage physicians to embrace their Catholic faith, not just as a layperson, but also as a physician. McKenna said, “Many have told me, ‘I practice medicine, I don’t talk faith.’ We say the contrary. You should be a Catholic first as well as a doctor.” Medical offices, hospitals, and parishes around the country have participated in the enshrinement program.

McKenna said, “Our culture places a lot of demands on physicians. These demands, sometimes ones that conflict with our Catholic faith, put Catholic healthcare practitioners in precarious situations. St. Gianna Physician’s Guild and events like this White Mass are here to support our Catholic healthcare practitioners in not only believing in a culture of life, but promoting one through their medical vocations.”


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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkin’s statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

“It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities,” Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. “Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

“While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born,” she said. “Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection.”

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, “People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society.”

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the “difficult and confusing time” when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience “negative attitudes.”

“What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information,” the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the hurch they attend in New Jersey, “because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 


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Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that 'it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.' Shutterstock
Steve Weatherbe

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Pope Francis: steps must be taken to halt ‘unjust aggressor’ in Iraq

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Pope Francis and his emissary to Iraq’s persecuted non-Muslim minorities, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, have both called on the United Nations to act in concert to protect Iraqis Christian and Yazidi minorities from the radical Islamic forces of ISIS.

Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that “it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.”

He added, however, that “halt” does not mean to “bomb” and lamented “how many times with the excuse of halting the unjust aggressor…have powerful nations taken possession of peoples and waged a war of conquest!”

He also cautioned that no single nation could determine the right measures. Any intervention must be multilateral and preferably by the United Nations, he said.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Foloni, who is visiting Iraq on behalf of Pope Francis, issued a joint statement this week with Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako and the Iraqi bishops that urged the international community to “liberate the villages and other places that have been occupied as soon as possible and with a permanent result.”

The statement also urged efforts to “assure that there is international protection for these villages and so to encourage these families to go back to their homes and to continue to live a normal life in security and peace.”

Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Vatican nuncio to Iraq, was also asked by Vatican Radio earlier this month about the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

“This is something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State] could not be stopped,” the archbishop said. 

Although Pope Francis’ own remarks about an intervention in the war-torn country were carefully guarded, Catholic commentator Robert Spencer, author of such bestselling exposes of Islam as “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion,” told LifeSiteNews he believes the pope was clearly calling for an “armed intervention, though a very limited one.”  

“Only a fool would think there is another way to stop an ‘unjust aggressor,’” he said.

Spencer expressed concerns that both Francis and Pope John Paul II before him have both referred to Islam a “religion of peace,” which Spencer says is “completely false.” However, he suggested that Francis’ remarks calling for action in Iraq are a sign of a more realistic attitude towards Islam.   

On this, Spencer would likely have the support of Amel Nona, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, who issued a letter last week warning the West in stark terms about the encroaching threat of Islam.

“Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer,” Nona warned. “Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here.

“You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles,” he said

“You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.”


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'Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses,' said Dawkins. 'They are aborted.' Shutterstock
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Richard Dawkins: it’s ‘immoral’ NOT to abort babies with Down syndrome

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By Dustin Siggins

In a bizarre rant on Twitter earlier today, atheist Richard Dawkins wrote that choosing not to abort a child with Down Syndrome would be "immoral."

The conversation started when Dawkins tweeted that "Ireland is a civilised country except in this 1 area." The area was abortion, which until last year was illegal in all cases.

A Twitter user then asked Dawkins if "994 human beings with Down's Syndrome [having been] deliberately killed before birth in England and Wales in 2012" was "civilised."

Dawkins replied "yes, it is very civilised. These are fetuses, diagnosed before they have human feelings."

Later, Dawkins said that "the question is not ‘is it 'human'?’ but ‘can it SUFFER?’"

In perhaps the most shocking moment, one Twitter user wrote that he or she "honestly [doesn't] know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down Syndrome. Real ethical dilemma."

Dawkins advised the writer to "abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice."

According to Dawkins, the issue of who should be born comes down to a calculation based upon possible suffering. "Yes. Suffering should be avoided. [The abortion] cause[s] no suffering. Reduce suffering wherever you can."

Later, however, he said that people on the autism spectrum "have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. [Down Syndrome] not enhanced."

When Dawkins received some blowback from Twitter followers, he replied: "Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses. They are aborted."

It is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome said they were "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child. 

A number of Dawkins' statements in the Twitter thread about fetal development are at odds with scientific realities. For example, it is well-established that 20 weeks into a pregnancy, unborn children can feel pain. Likewise, unborn children have emotional reactions to external stimuli -- such as a mother's stress levels -- months before being born. 

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