Kathleen Gilbert

Pro-life dead at Notre Dame since Obama visit? Not by a long shot

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
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NOTRE DAME, Indiana, November 17, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Wandering among crowds of professors, scholars, and students at the University of Notre Dame for the 12th annual conference of the Center for Ethics and Culture (CEC) for the first time, one can get a little overwhelmed.

Sit down with a Baptist scholar with a thick Southern accent, and he may just start talking to you about the richness of Catholic social teaching, and Marian tradition.

Or you might just run into the “Orthodox posse,” a group of Eastern scholars often hovering near ethicist Tristram Engelhardt, who may buy you a scotch and ask just why exactly you haven’t converted to the true faith.

In any event, the first thing that’s clear is that the CEC annual Fall conference is no ordinary scholarly conference. The second, is that this conference forms an intellectual catalyst for advancing the culture of life virtually unparalleled at any other university in America. 

This year’s conference, “Radical Emancipation: Confronting the Challenge of Secularism,” drew upon words of Cardinal Ratzinger in 2005 warning against the encroachment of militant secularism. 

Near the shadow of the Golden Dome, several presentations probed questions about the sanctity of life, sexuality, and moral ethics. One particularly eclectic panel consisted of a paper on the ethics of Live Action’s undercover sting operations against Planned Parenthood. Another discussed the temptation of abortion when a child has been diagnosed with a fatal anomaly. 

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But perhaps even more important were discussions on renewing the Christian intellectual atmosphere: a panel of university presidents on Friday discussed “the language of comeback” for Christianity at American campuses. 

Ralph Wood of Baylor University told LifeSiteNews.com that the effect of the conference on other Christian colleges universities has been “unbelievable.”

“We go back [to our institutions] and say, look what can happen,” said Wood, whose says his own school was turned around by the example set at Notre Dame. “Rather than surrender our Christian convictions ... we can go back now and see that our distinctiveness lies in the way in which we can make Christianity the core.”

Founding director David Solomon, a Protestant who joined the Notre Dame community in 1968, explained simply that he began CEC in response to key John Paul II encyclicals that “had the goods on the modern world,” and which touched him deeply.

“I couldn’t see why the University didn’t immediately reorganize itself around these encyclicals writings,” he said, to chuckles from the audience (Notre Dame had infamously joined the Land O’ Lakes statement, which emancipated major Catholic universities from the authority of the Catholic Church, in 1967.)

“And since it truly wasn’t going to do that,” he said, “I thought we should try to do it on our own.”

A crisis of identity

Since its inception, the CEC community has grown into its role as a silent haven for what some call the true spirit of Notre Dame, whose reputation for authentic Catholic intellectual life has become shaky at best.

The biggest blow to that reputation in recent memory was the honor bestowed on Barack Obama in 2009, an event that dramatically split the Notre Dame community, with a large crowd of students leaving their friends and classmates behind to attend a protest ceremony in the Grotto, instead of the official commencement ceremony. Among many others who recalled the event at last weekend’s conference was Bishop emeritus John D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who described the gravity of the scandal. 

“Irish politics a generation after [the Easter Rising] consisted of, ‘where were you in 1916’? Well, it’s like that: where were you the day Obama came?” he said.

Holy Cross Father Wilson Miscamble, whom Solomon pegged as Notre Dame’s moral backbone, told Kathryn Jean Lopez in August that the school “certainly has not” recovered from the Obama honor. “Notre Dame’s honoring of a president who is deeply committed to the terrible abortion regime which prevails in the United States today damaged its reputation and credibility as a Catholic university,” he said. “Notre Dame is still struggling to overcome the harm done.”

That struggle included noticeable damage-control measures by the administration to rebuild a pro-life image, including attending the 2010 National March for Life in Washington and setting up a Task Force on Supporting the Choice on Life. Miscamble expressed gratitude for those measures, but said that they didn’t represent the real renewal at Notre Dame.

“The main pro-life efforts on campus continue to be those pushed by the students and by those faculty associated with the Center for Ethics and Culture, some terrific folk in our law school and the Faculty for Life group,” he said.

Other reactionary measures were less helpful, and even shook Notre Dame’s pro-life leadership to its core: friends of the Center were devastated when Bill Kirk, the only administration member to stand with pro-life students against Obama’s visit, was abruptly sacked by school leadership despite a long and dedicated service to the University. 

And despite being the largest and most successful in its history, with over 500 registrants, this year’s conference was unmistakably bittersweet thanks to another blow: David Solomon, whose larger-than-life personality formed the gravitational center of the CEC community, was informed by Notre Dame officials last year that his time with the Center was to come to an end.

“David Solomon had the courage to speak in opposition to Notre Dame’s honoring of President Obama. This stance certainly seems to have led to recriminations against him,” said Miscamble. 

“The administration seems to want to neuter the person who has been the leader of our pro-life efforts at Notre Dame. It is little short of a disgrace.”

A rebirth to pro-life

Yet CEC leaders uniformly expressed relief and excitement that officials had wound up selecting as a replacement someone whom Solomon called the “best possible result that we could have”: law professor O. Carter Snead, the former general counsel for the President’s Council on Bioethics and a faculty member at Notre Dame since 2005. 

Thanks to the survival of CEC, Notre Dame will continue to witness the development of another boon to the pro-life movement on its home soil: the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life. Also chaired by Solomon, this fund was established in September 2008 under CEC’s administrative purview “to educate Notre Dame students in the rich intellectual tradition supporting the dignity of human life.” The fund lies at the center of Notre Dame’s self-renewal as a leading advocate for the life of the unborn. 

“Many alumni and friends of Notre Dame who have become disaffected with the administration … have found, in the fund, a vehicle whereby they can continue to financially support their beloved university,” alumnus William Dotterweich told Kathryn Jean Lopez.

Among the Fund’s initiatives is Project Guadalupe, a pro-life and service-based educational program aimed at developing pro-life curriculum, an interdisciplinary master’s program for pro-life leadership, as well as the Notre Dame Vita Institute, which was held for the first time this summer. The Institute is a two-week summer program fostering pro-life leaders in areas including medicine, education, politics, and family apostolates. 

The Fund is also responsible for the Evangelium Vitae Medal, whose inaugural recipient last year was Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director of the US Bishops’ Secretariat for Pro Life Activities.

For all the negative coverage surrounding Notre Dame in the pro-life world, friends of the University say that the success enjoyed by CEC and its conference would not have been possible anywhere else.

“It’s because Notre Dame is such an intellectual powerhouse that it’s able to draw the biggest names in the academic world,” said alumnus Rocco Galizio. Ralph Wood of Baylor said Solomon simply recognized all the true spirit of Notre Dame could offer the culture of life. 

“He saw that we’re doing something good at Notre Dame, but it’s got to be larger than Notre Dame,” said Wood. “It’s got to reach out to everybody.”

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Are you praying for the upcoming Synod on the Family? You should be, and here’s why

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By John-Henry Westen

Catholics, and all Christians who value family values, should be praying earnestly for the Catholic Church as a struggle over critical family issues is coming to a head in the run-up to the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which takes place October 5-19. 

Augmenting the concerns is the fact that some of the cardinals closest to Pope Francis himself are increasingly in public disagreement over crucial matters related to faith and family. For some, the concerns reach right to the pope himself.

While Synod preparations have been going on for a year, Sunday’s weddings of 20 couples in St. Peter’s Basilica by Pope Francis presented a figurative, and perhaps foreboding launch.

In a press release prior to the ceremony, the Rome diocese inexplicably went out of its way to highlight the fact that some of couples the pope was going to marry were cohabiting. "Those who will get married Sunday are couples like many others,” it said. “There are those who are already cohabitating; who already have children.”

Unsurprisingly, the mainstream press took the bait and seized upon this statement to run headline after headline pushing the confusing notion that the event was a prelude to, or evidence of, a change in Church teaching on marriage.

Headlines like: 

All I can do is pray that the public fallout from these wedding ceremonies does not foreshadow the public outcome of the Synod. If so, we could be headed for a tragedy akin to the tragedy of the late sixties when, despite the proclamation of the truth of Humanae Vitae against contraception, the effect among ordinary Catholics was a near universal rejection of the teaching in practice.

What to expect at the Synod

The official list of those taking part in the Synod includes 114 presidents of Bishops’ Conferences, 13 heads of Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, 25 heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, nine members of the Ordinary Council for the Secretariat, the Secretary General, the Undersecretary, three religious elected by the Union of Superiors General, 26 members appointed by the Pontiff, eight fraternal delegates, and 38 auditors, among whom are 13 married couples and 16 experts.

You’ve undoubtedly heard of Cardinal Kasper’s intervention at the Consistory of Cardinals earlier this year, in which he laid out a contentious proposal to allow Catholics who have been divorced and then ‘remarried’ outside the Church to receive Communion. 

Since then a bevy of heavy-hitter cardinals have fought that proposal, including:

Today, however, Cardinal Kasper said the “attacks” from these cardinals were not so much directed at him but at Pope Francis, since, claims Kasper, he discussed his intervention with the pope and gained his approval.

The claim has some basis, since the day after Kasper made the proposal, before it was made public, Pope Francis praised it publicly.  According to Vatican Information Service, the Holy Father said:

I read and reread Cardinal Walter Kasper's document and I would like to thank him, as I found it to be a work of profound theology, and also a serene theological reflection. It is pleasant to read serene theology. And I also found what St. Ignacius described as the 'sensus Ecclesiae', love for the Mother Church. ... It did me good, and an idea came to mind – please excuse me, Eminence, if I embarrass you – but my idea was that this is what we call ‘doing theology on one's knees’. Thank you, thank you.

Of note, Vatican correspondent Sébastien Maillard, writing for France’s La Croix, reports today that Pope Francis is “irritated” by the release of a book containing criticisms of the Kasper proposal by five cardinals.

As LifeSiteNews.com reported yesterday, one of those authors, Cardinal Raymond Burke, is being demoted from his headship of the Apostolic Signatura. The only post planned for the 66-year-old cardinal thus far is patron of the Order of Malta. 

Cardinal Burke’s pre-Synod interventions go beyond the divorce and remarriage question and into the matter of homosexuality.  In a recent interview Cardinal Burke gave a clear refutation of the misuse of Pope Francis’ famed ‘Who am I to judge’ quote to justify homosexuality.

While the issue of the Church’s teachings on homosexuality is seldom raised in reference to the Synod, with most of the emphasis being placed on the question of divorce and remarriage, it is mentioned in the working document, or ‘Instrumentum Laboris’, of the Synod.

As with the matter of divorce, no doctrine regarding homosexuality can be changed, but much confusion can still be sown under the auspices of adjustments to “pastoral” practice. Without a clear teaching from the Synod, the effects could be similar to the shift in “pastoral” practice among dissenting clergy after the promulgation of Humanae Vitae, which led to the use of artificial contraception by most Catholics.

Already and for many years there has been de facto broad acceptance of homosexual sexual practices in many Catholic schools, universities and many other institutions, with many staff being active homosexuals in open defiance of Catholic moral teaching.

Regarding the Synod’s deliberations on homosexuality, it does not bode well that one of Pope Francis’ personal appointees to the Synod is retired Cardinal Godfried Danneels.  The selection is remarkable because of Danneels was caught on tape in 2010 urging a victim who had been sexually abused by a bishop-friend of Danneels, to be silent.  Then, only last year Danneels praised as a “positive development” that states were opening up civil marriage to homosexuals.

Then, just this week, as reported on the Rorate Caeli blog, one of the three Synod presidents gave an interview with the leading Brazilian newspaper in which he said that while stable unions between homosexual persons cannot be equated to marriage, the Church has always tried to show respect for such unions.

The statement matches that of another prominent Synod participant, Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, who in 2010 spoke of giving more consideration to ‘the quality’ of homosexual relationships. “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.

In the end, while there is currently a public battle in the Vatican that is unprecedented in modern history, the faith will not and cannot change.  As faithful Catholics, and Christians, we must cling to the Truths of Christ regarding the family and live them out in our own lives first and foremost.  That is difficult, to be sure, especially in our sex-saturated culture, but with Christ (and only with Him) all things are possible. 

Plead with heaven for the pope and the bishops in the Synod.  LifeSiteNews will be there reporting from Rome, and, with your prayers and support, be of service to those defending truth.

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Poet: I ‘would’ve died’ for my aborted daughter’s ‘right to choose,’ just ‘like she died for mine’ (VIDEO)

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By Ben Johnson

What kind of mother asks her baby to die for her? And what kind of media outlet celebrates that?

To take the second question first, The Huffington Post is promoting a video featuring Scottish “poet” Leyla Josephine, celebrating her decision to abort her daughter. The video, “I Think She Was a She,” was uploaded to YouTube a month ago.

In the video Josephine, decked out in military camouflage, justifies herself in part by saying that she would have been willing to serve as a sacrifice to abortion just as she offered her daughter to the idol of “choice.”

“I would’ve supported her right to choose – to choose a life for herself, a path for herself. I would’ve died for that right like she died for mine,” she said.

In the next rhyming line, she addresses her unborn daughter: “I’m sorry, but you came at the wrong time.”

“I am not ashamed. I am not ashamed. I am not ashamed," she continues – a phrase she repeats a total of six times. She repeats the phrase "This is my body" three times. (She also takes the Lord's name in vain once.)

In the early part of the video, she describes her belief that her child was a girl and imagines a life where she had given birth to her daughter.

“I know she was a she,” she says. “I would have made sure that there was space on the walls to measure her height,” she adds. “I would have made sure I was a good mother.”

At one point she appears to describe the emotional aftermath of her choice as “a hollowness that feels full, a numbness that feels heavy.”

But she later calls the idea that her child was a girl or a boy “bull---t” and affirms, yet again, she is not ashamed.

This provokes a few observations:

1. If she knew her child's sex, she must have had a late-term abortion. Our gentle, healing restoration is needed in a world marred by so much aggression and anger in the name of political orthodoxy.

2. Fr. Frank Pavone has written, ”Did you ever realize that the same four words that were used by the Lord Jesus to save the world are also used by abortion advocates? 'This is My Body.'” To paraphrase him, he notes the difference. One, by surrendering His life on the Cross, gave life to the world. The abortion industry uses this phrase to impose its will on the bodies of separate, living human beings who have not harmed anyone.

3. The most chilling phrase in the video is her statement, “I would’ve supported her right to choose...I would’ve died for that right like she died for mine.”

First of all, her daughter did not die for the “right to choose.” Her daughter was not sacrificed for the inalienable “good” of keeping abortion-on-demand legal (and, in the UK, taxpayer-subsidized). Politicians are bribed to maintain it; no baby needs to die for it. Josephine's child died because HuffPo's hero of the moment chose not to carry the baby to term and place him/her in the hands of loving adoptive parents who would have cherished her baby – whether it was actually male, female, or intersex.

Josephine describes the emotions that actually led to the abortion only metaphorically – e.g., she compares the abortion to chopping down a cherry tree – but that angst is the root (so to speak) of the abortion, not the great and grand cause of assuring that other women have the right to go through the same soul-crushing grief.

That intimation that her daughter died for “choice” – that she offered her baby as a living sacrifice on the altar of abortion – confirms the darkest rhetoric of the pro-life movement: That for some in the movement, abortion is sometimes regarded as an idol.

And that raises one other, more universally held question: What kind of parent asks his son or daughter to die for the “right” to abortion? Parents are supposed to be the one who sacrificially care for their children, who forsake their own comfort, who do whatever is necessary – even die – to keep their children safe, healthy, and well. Josephine's blithe, “Sorry, but you came at the wrong time” sounds as hollow as a gangland assassin's apology to the family caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting. Abortion severs the love that God, or Mother Nature, or evolution, or whatever you choose to believe in placed within every pregnant woman to link the mother to her child.

The abortion lobby's rhetoric, which increasingly disregards the value of unborn life, is untethered by the bonds of human compassion, is fundamentally selfish and cold-blooded, and lacks a sense of humanity and brotherhood to the point of obliterating maternal love itself.

“Will a woman forget her child, so as not to have compassion upon the offspring of her womb?” God asks through the prophet Isaiah. “But if a woman should even forget these, yet I will not forget thee, saith the Lord.”

The pro-life movement exists precisely to set this upside-down order aright, to reinstate the natural love and compassion everyone should have for all of God's creation – most especially that between a mother and the innocent child she has helped create and fashion with her own DNA.

Cross-posted at TheRightsWriter.com.

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Lisa Bourne

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Catholic leaders criticize Cardinal Dolan’s defense of gay group at St. Patrick’s Parade

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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New York Cardinal John O'Connor on the cover of the New York Post on January 11, 1993. http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan defended his decision to serve as grand marshal for the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Wednesday, in the wake of widespread criticism from Catholics after he praised the organizing committee for allowing a homosexual activist group to march.

“If the Parade Committee allowed a group to publicize its advocacy of any actions contrary to Church teaching, I’d object,” Dolan stated in his weekly column. On the contrary, he argued, “The committee’s decision allows a group to publicize its identity, not promote actions contrary to the values of the Church that are such an essential part of Irish culture.”

Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, was not impressed with the cardinal’s argument. This is precisely about publicizing advocacy contrary to Catholic teaching,” he said.

“As a Catholic father I find there is rapidly contracting space where this shameful agenda is not stuck in the faces of my children,” Ruse told LifeSiteNews. “The Church should be protecting our children rather than abetting those who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of innocent souls."

Pat Archbold, a popular blogger at the National Catholic Register and who runs the Creative Minority Report blog, lambasted Dolan for suggesting the embrace and promotion of “gay identity” can be separated from the sin of homosexuality.

“This identity is not a morally-neutral God-given attribute such as male or female, black or white,” he said. “The identity is with the immoral choice to engage in immoral behavior.”

“The best that can be said in this situation is that these people choose to proudly identify themselves with an intrinsic disorder.  But in reality, it is worse than that,” he continued. “The people find their identity and pride in sin.  Either the Cardinal knows this or he doesn't, either way Cardinal Dolan reveals himself unequal to his responsibility as a successor of the Apostles.”

The parade committee changed its longstanding policy on September 3 after decades of pressure from homosexual groups. Upon being announced as the parade’s grand marshal later the same day, Cardinal Dolan said he had no trouble with the decision at all, calling it “wise.”

The organizers had never prohibited any marchers, but did not ban issue-focused banners and signs, whether promoting homosexuality or the pro-life cause.

Cardinal Dolan stated in his column Wednesday that he did not oppose the previous policy.

“This was simply a reasonable policy about banners and public identification, not about the sexual inclinations of participants,” he explained.

“I have been assured that the new group marching is not promoting an agenda contrary to Church teaching,” he said as well, “but simply identifying themselves as ‘Gay people of Irish ancestry.’”

The homosexual activist group that will march is called OUT@NBCUniversal, which describes itself as the employee resource group for LGBT & Straight Ally employees at the media giant.

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The network held the broadcast contract for parade coverage. Reports indicated the contract was about to expire, and that NBC joined in pressuring on parade officials.

Cardinal Dolan conceded in his column there were many thoughtful reasons for criticizing the parade policy change, and noted that he shared some of them.

“While a handful have been less than charitable in their reactions, I must admit that many of you have rather thoughtful reasons for criticizing the committee’s decision,” he said. “You observe that the former policy was fair; you worry that this is but another example of a capitulation to an ‘aggressive Gay agenda,’ which still will not appease their demands; and you wonder if this could make people think the Church no longer has a clear teaching on the nature of human sexuality.” 

However, he said, the most important question he had to ask himself was whether the new policy violated Catholic faith or morals.

In stressing that homosexual actions are sinful while identity is not, Cardinal Dolan said, “Catholic teaching is clear: ‘being Gay’ is not a sin, nor contrary to God’s revealed morals.”

Making opinion paramount, the cardinal offered that the parade committee “tried to be admirably sensitive to Church teaching,” and even though the original policy was not at all unfair, the committee was “realistic in worrying that the public perception was the opposite, no matter how often they tried to explain its coherence and fairness.”

“They worried that the former policy was being interpreted as bias, exclusion, and discrimination against a group in our city,” Cardinal Dolan wrote. “Which, if true, would also be contrary to Church teaching.”

When the decision was announced and Cardinal Dolan named the parade’s grand marshal, Philip Lawler, director of Catholic Culture and editor for Catholic World News, called it a significant advance for homosexual activists, and a significant retreat for the Catholic Church.

Pointing out in his column that the media will be correct to concentrate on that narrative at next March’s event, Lawler identified what he said is almost certain to be the result of the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“Next year there will be only one story-line of interest to the reporters who cover the annual parade in the world’s media capital: the triumph of the gay activists,” Lawler wrote.

“Photographers will be competing for the one ‘money’ shot: the picture of the contingent from OUT@NBCUniversal marching past the reviewing stand at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, under the benign smile of Cardinal Timothy Dolan.”

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