Susan Michelle Tyrrell

A tale of two mangers: how I was adopted after being abandoned on the streets of Bethlehem

Susan Michelle Tyrrell
By Susan Michelle Tyrrell
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Editor’s note: Susan lives in Kansas City and is the editor of the pro-life blog at Bound4Life.com. In addition to her pro-life work, she works with the International House of Prayer with intercessory research for its justice initiatives. Her heart is to see the church become a greater picture family of God through adoption, both natural and spiritual.

August 23, 2012 (Bound4Life.com) - Five hundred yards from where Jesus was born in Bethlehem sits the Holy Family Hospital. It was known as a rescuer of orphans who, by all accounts, should have been killed if their parents had listened to their culture.

This was where my life began.

Many are fascinated by the fact I was born in Bethlehem. They ask, predictably, “was it in a manger?” A couple years ago, I found out the answer was yes. They called the area where the babies were kept “the crèche,” or manger. Today, it’s a full maternity hospital, but when I was born, the crèche was a place for abandoned children.

Initially, I had some brief email correspondence with Sister Sophie, the nun in charge who told me I was “placed in the crèche.” Otherwise, I was met with stunning replies from government offices in Jordan, where my adoption was processed. One wrote an official letter, saying if my birth were discovered, even now, “great harm” would come to my mother. The tone was so matter of fact, that I believed it. Until last year that’s all I really knew.

Then my curiosity hit a peak and I wrote to the orphanage again. One of the workers in the orphanage wrote:

[W]e still cannot help in any way. Of course, it is not because we don’t want to do so, but because we have nothing to share with you. Unfortunately, the only fact about your background is that you been collected from the street on [my alleged birth date] and in such cases there will be no way to know anything after these years. We know for sure that this is a very hard thing to deal with since this is our daily life whether for people facing the same situation that you are facing, and also for new tiny babies who have been collected from here and there from all the cities of the West Bank and most likely they don’t have the chance to be adopted like what happened with you since years ago for adoption is not allowed any more according to the Palestinian Authority laws.

I got this email at 7:57, crying in shock before teaching an 8 a.m. class. That was the first time I had ever known I might not have been given up for adoption but left in the street. Her second email said:

Between the years 1948 and 1967 Bethlehem area and the whole West Bank was administrated by Jordan, 1967 after the war of June Israeli occupied the whole area till the year 1993, afterward the Oslo agreement and the P.A (Palestinian Authority) take over.

What I am trying to say here is; even if you, we or any one tried to find a social file or history of a person who had benefited by the social services back then… nothing can be found especially when it comes to a very sensitive issue like having a baby out of marriage, if this was the case, the woman must by killed by a member of her family to revenge for the honor of the family.

Realizing I probably came from a family line that didn’t have much honor - except maybe that someone thought enough to put me in the street, whether literally or figuratively - I went to the head of the court system there, Father Emil, who didn’t offer me much more. In fact, he even dispelled the words in my adoption papers that said my birth mother gave me up “freely.” It seemed that was likely a lie. He said:

As for the information in the Decree, we usually say that a document was signed by the mother, because, the foreign embassies would not allow adoptions, emigration papers unless we add that, in order to avoid responsibilities

Fortunately for me, whether someone forged papers or found me in the street, I was adopted at six months by a 53-year-old single American woman who worked for the U.S. Foreign Service, possibly the CIA for some of her career. My adoption papers declare my mother (the woman who adopted me is my mother, by the way), to be 10 years younger than she was. The Catholic Church had to issue her, a Protestant, a dispensation to adopt a baby born in Israel through a Catholic court in Jordan. The only mention of a father said, “the name and whereabouts… are completely unknown.”

My mom and I stayed in Jerusalem until I was five. My earliest memory was her pushing me down in front of our window because of gunfire on the streets of the Old City. I rode camels and went to Catholic school. I learned French, Arabic, and English at age 4, in Kindergarten (I flunked Arabic, with a 65). Perhaps my 95 in English was prophetic of the two college degrees in English I would get, along with a 10-year career as a teacher of a language that was never supposed to be my own, had I been raised in “my culture.”

I came here with a “green card” because my mom didn’t understand the process to make me a citizen. Thus, I grew up a Palestinian girl, from Israel, in the United States.

After my mom died in 1995, I was on my own, and I wanted a passport. The U.S. couldn’t give me one because I was never naturalized. Israel said I did not have an Israeli identification number. Jordan said I was born in Israel so they couldn’t help. The U.S. issued me a Travel Document, declaring me “stateless.”

After 9/11, being a Palestinian made me an object of a whole lot of prejudice. I grew afraid to let anyone know that my Americanized name and accent were not my culture. In 2003, I became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Then last year I learned the new chapter, some of the details of which I may never know, which changes my framework of history: but it doesn’t change the reality that I know Jesus and was given that opportunity probably because I was collected from a street in war torn Palestine.

When I hear terms like “rescuing orphans,” that’s more than a pro-life theory. I try to imagine what might have been had I lived there. But I’d have been dead. That’s clear based on the law and culture. Had I lived and stayed there, it is certainly doubtful I would have been raised Christian.

I was served justice because even without a family, even if I never know the full story, I have Jesus.

You ask me why adoption matters? You ask me why a woman shouldn’t be allowed to kill a baby? My mother was supposed to be killed for being pregnant. I’m sure grateful she didn’t opt for a secret abortion.

The day I was conceived He knew me. He knew me in the womb before my birth mother knew she had a crisis. He saved my life and picked me from a crèche of abandoned babies in an orphanage to bring me to the States and call me to Him. He gave my mom courage to risk her life (I think I got my warrior gene from that woman). And he gave a band of nuns and priests the money, prayers, and ability to operate a home for orphans in a war-torn culture without its own home. In the heart of Bethlehem that manger existed for other babies that would have been killed, just as Herod went after Jesus.

Abortion. Adoption. Orphans. Nations. It’s not a textbook; it’s personal. It’s how God shaped my life. And every prayer, every dollar, every work of justice in the name of Jesus, matters. True justice for me was not being raised in my culture. It wasn’t having two parents and a dog. True justice was being brought to Jesus. Anything I missed that our culture says I “should” have is nothing compared to “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).

For me, a manger was my path to justice twice.

Reprinted with permission from Bound4Life.com

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

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By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

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Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

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Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
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Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

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By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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