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Canadian Bishops Conference Pres Says “No Foundation” for Allegations against Development and Peace

LifeSiteNews.com
LifeSiteNews.com

By John-Henry Westen

TORONTO, June 22, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Archbishop James Weisgerber, the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), has claimed that there is "no evidence" of abortion involvement on the part of groups funded by the bishops' official development arm, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P). The remarks were made in response to questions about the results of a recent investigation into five of D&P's Mexican partners, which LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) had reported in early March were involved in abortion advocacy.

Weisberger indicated in an interview with a local Catholic TV station that the report, which has been released to select bishops, and will not be made public for two or three more weeks, states that D&P is not involved in funding pro-abortion groups. "The delegation found that there was no foundation to these allegations," he said. "We can assure you that none of the money was spent to promote abortion, nor for support of abortion with the funds of Development and Peace."

The archbishop made his statements in support of D&P despite a recent letter from the family commission of the Peruvian Bishops Conference, in which the Peruvian bishops formally requested the Canadian Bishops to stop funding three pro-abortion groups in their country. LSN has also documented evidence - including interviews and photographs - that over 20 of D&P's partners around the world are involved in abortion and/or contraception advocacy (read all the evidence here).

Archbishop Weisgerber said that he interpreted the whole issue as one of "authority," juxtaposing that of the bishops with that of "websites," apparently a reference principally to LSN, which initiated the investigations that revealed D&P's endemic funding of pro-abortion groups.

The archbishop made his comments in two interviews with Salt and Light Television in both a French and an English-language interview on the same subject (read transcript here). "It seems that there is a tendency on the part of some people to trust allegations on websites more than they trust the bishops," he said. "That's the role of the bishops in the Church and when the bishops investigate something, when the bishops look at things and when the bishops teach, according to our theology, we should have confidence in that."

In the French-language interview Weisgerber was more explicit: "What is at issue is authority in the Catholic Church. Is it websites or is it the Catholic Church?'

The interviewer noted that the allegations came from the internet but called into question the "Catholic" label of Development and Peace. Weisgerber replied: "Who is going to pronounce or judge that? Groups on the internet that we don't know, or bishops who are designated by the Church, by the Good Lord, to do that?" Speaking of D&P and presumably for the Canadian bishops, he continued: "We assume our responsibilities. We support this organization. It's been forty years. We are very proud."

Despite Archbishop Weisgerber's assertions, the bishops of Canada do not appear to all be on the same page when it comes to the question of D&P. Insiders have informed LSN that most of the bishops of Quebec are onside with the organization, with a few notable exceptions. However, most Ontario bishops have taken the allegations seriously enough to withhold funding until the results of the investigation have been considered. 

That Archbishop Weisgerber has come out in support of D&P, however, may come as no surprise, given that the bishop made a statement on the subject even before the official investigation into the matter was underway. The archbishop issued a March 23rd letter to his archdiocese saying the allegations against D&P were "untrue." 

The recent report is based on an investigation conducted in Mexico from the 15 to 18 April, 2009, by officials from D&P and the CCCB, including two Canadian bishops. The committee was established in response to reports initiated by LifeSiteNews.com that D&P, the official development arm of the bishops' conference, has been funding groups in Mexico involved in pro-abortion advocacy.

While the original LSN report mentioned only five groups in Mexico who received $170,000 in total last year, later reports have found evidence for D&P funding of pro-abortion and pro-contraception groups throughout Latin America, Africa, and Asia, including more groups in Mexico, one of which admitted in an interview with LSN to trying to help a woman abort her child.

The LSN evidence demonstrating the pro-abortion activities of the D&P funded groups has been independently confirmed by Priests for Life Canada, who issued a statement condemning the pro-abortion funding by D&P, as well as the head of American Life League, Judie Brown - a Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life - not to mention the Peruvian bishops conference.

The issue received coverage today on Vatican Radio, which reported on the fact that the Peruvian bishops have demanded that the Canadian Bishops halt funding for pro-abortion groups in their country (read the letter here). Vatican Radio interviewed Alejandro Bermudes, the head of the Catholic News Agency and ACI Prensa who noted that in addition to the bishops of Peru, "the bishops in Bolivia and Mexico, have expressed their concern that the Committee for Development and Peace ... has been providing ... significant financial support to organization that actively are involved in the promotion of abortion."

See related reports:

Stephen Mosher Expresses Serious Concerns About Canadian Bishops' D&P Investigation

Vancouver Diocesan Editorial: "Writing Could be on the Wall" for Development and Peace

Editor of Canadian Catholic Magazine on D&P Scandal: "Let D&P rest in peace for eternity"

Canada's Largest Catholic Newspaper Calls for Open Investigation into Development and Peace

See all LSN reports on Development and Peace scandal

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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