Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Catholic ‘Day for Life’ about sports? Really?

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, July 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - If you were to ask the average, ordinary British person, whether Catholic or not, what the most pressing subject matter would be for the Catholic Church’s annual “Day for Life,” what do you think they might say? What do the words “life issues” and “Catholic” usually mean to people who are, well, sane? Apparently, to the English and Welsh Catholic Bishops, firmly ensconced as they would like to become in the country’s ruling liberal elite establishment, it means … wait for it …

the Olympics.

You know, the sporting event. Oh, and the importance of living a “healthier, more balanced and environmentally sensitive lifestyle”. The official theme for this year’s Day for Life, July 29th, is “Use your body for the glory of God.” The front cover of the leaflet shows a woman swimming. Yes, the mind boggles.

Day for Life, “celebrates an extraordinary gift: the human body. It recognizes the marvelous achievements of the human body in events such as the Olympic and Paralympic games to be held in London this year, and the Commonwealth Games to be held in Scotland in 2014.”

In their Message the bishops hint darkly that sometimes, in our otherwise wonderfully enlightened times, people might sometimes have funny ideas about ending the life of bodies before the, ahem, duly appointed time: “Day for Life invites us therefore to show respect for the dignity of our body in every moment of its existence, from conception to natural death… From the first moment of conception, where the unique ‘genetic plan’ of my body is already present, to the moment of natural death, my body is part of God’s eternal plan for me.”

They briefly shave close to the actual issue with: “Where there is a lack of respect for the right to life from conception to natural death, where human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial and human embryos are sacrificed to research, then the conscience of society loses its sensitivity to the ecology of the human person and, with it, to the gift and treasure of Creation itself.” Then they head briskly back to the thicker ice of environmentalism.

The tasteless terms “abortion,” and “euthanasia,” however, do not appear. To find them, we have to rewind to the theme of 2007, “The sacredness of human life,” which offered a little catechism with helpful explanations :

“What does the Church mean by pro-life? To be pro-life means to promote human dignity and development in every sphere of life; to say ‘yes’ to life…

“The Church is opposed to all direct attacks against innocent human life e.g. abortion, abortifacient pills and devices, the abortion pill and the morning after pill, destructive embryo and embryonic stem cell research, genetic engineering, euthanasia, etc. because it believes that every life has purpose, meaning and inherent value.”

But even when the theme was was specifically about abortion, on the 40th anniversary of the nation’s Abortion Act, that was more or less the last we heard of the A-word, which was mentioned a grand total of three times in 2007. Euthanasia, once. After 2007, the themes have been, in order, “mental health,” “suicide,” “the Christian meaning of death” and “happiness”. Isn’t that nice?

Dr. William Oddie, author and columnist for the Catholic Herald doesn’t seem to think so. He called it “the most grotesque and cynical example” of the English bishops “persistent failure” to follow the example of the late Pope John Paul II, who appointed most of them, to “collectively to oppose abortion and euthanasia as they should have been opposed.”

“Year after year,” Oddie said, the Day for Life has “been about anything but what Pope John Paul … intended that it should be about.”

He decried the “breathtaking cynicism,”with which the bishops’ spokesmen have employed a lot of “windy drivel” in order to manipulate the pope’s intentions to actively exclude the “primary purpose” of the day.

Deacon Nick Donnelly, writing on his Protect the Pope blog, suggested that the Vatican take the Day for Life away from the jurisdiction of the bishops and give it over to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

Donnelly said,“It is nothing short of scandalous that the Catholic Church of England and Wales wastes the annual opportunity of the Day for Life” by failing to urge the public to oppose abortion.

Fr. Tim Finigan, the leader of Britain’s independent clerical internet pack, sticks his tongue in his cheek and suggests that the next few year’s Days for Life be devoted to garden allotments, public transport, or the importance of flossing.

“I offer these suggestions since it seems that the theme for the Day for Life in England and Wales is to be about anything except what Blessed Pope John Paul called for when he proposed a Day for Life in his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae.”

“Last year,” Fr. Finigan notes, “the theme was ‘Happiness’. As you might have guessed, I’m not happy. Many priests and active pro-life lay people are not happy either. It is estimated that by the 50th anniversary of the Abortion Act, nine million children will have been killed before birth in our country.

“We pioneered the legalisation of embryo research and we are giving the Dutch lessons in how to do euthanasia more politely by means of continuous sedation.”

Fr. Ray Blake, the pastor of St. Mary Magdalen parish in Brighton, and the number two Catholic clerical blogger in the realm, wryly quoted the great early 20th century clerical blogger and wit Ronald Knox, who rhymed, “When suave politeness, tempering bigot zeal, corrected ‘I believe’ to ‘one does feel’ “.

Fr. Blake said there is something “more than mealy mouthed” about the leaflet, saying it is “unfocussed, diffuse” and “lite”. “It is like so much material produced by Catholic Justice and Peace organisations that worry about curtains and flower arrangements rather than the crumbling foundations of the house.”

If it seems surprising that a Catholic bishops’ conference would be so keen to avoid a difficult but pressing topic, (the abortion rate in England and Wales hit 200,000 per year recently and is still climbing,) let us examine the record. We have for years been subjected to the spectacle in Britain of Catholic bishops desperate to please their zealously anti-Christian masters by scrambling away from any guilt-by-association with the pro-life movement; being the first to bravely lead the way in concern for all the warmest, cuddliest and most fashionable left-liberal topics.; in the forefront of the fight for the environment; boldly declaring the awfulness of bigotry and discrimination; taking care to be seen courageously wringing their hands over immigration control and cuts to state benefits.

Abortion and homosexuality, the demonic twins of the Culture of Death, seem to be the English bishops’ most vexed topics. Most scandalous to lay Catholics is the openness of their closeness to the homosexualist movement, dating back decades. The same political juggernaut that resulted in the secularisation or outright closure of all of the country’s Catholic adoption agencies.

Perhaps we need only look to the thunderous, glowering silence from his brother bishops when one of their own, Bishop Patrick O’Donohue, wrote a series of booklets saying, with unusual lack of politesse, that their Church institutions, both schools and parishes, are not “fit for mission,” having failed broadly to further, pursue or really to have anything whatever to do with the aims and intentions of the Catholic Church, one, holy and apostolic, founded by Jesus Christ.

Admittedly, there have recently been a few little glimmers in the England/Wales Catholic scene as the light of The Real World comes glittering through, piercing the liberal gloom.

A bishop attended a highly public demonstration against abortion in London a while back, despite a brief spate of rumours that his ecclesiastical superiors, fearful of upsetting their political superiors, would prevent him.

More recently, the newly appointed bishop of Shrewsbury declared to the astonishment of all that a study of the Holocaust should generate “profound reflection” on abortion and euthanasia.

This evening, I got a call from an English priest who lives in Germany and teaches at the seminary of the Fraternity of St. Peter, the organisation for priests who prefer the traditional liturgy, who pointed me to the Catholic Herald article on the new nuncio Archbishop Antonio Mennini and the appointment of Philip Egan to Portsmouth.

It has been said many times that the solution to the problems of a local Church is in the appointments of bishops. I hope that I was mistaken in my somewhat grim-faced in response to his hope that the new guys are a sign that the days of the greying “Magic Circle” leftists are at last numbered, and there are better things to come. always lies in improvements of the episcopal stock.

With the appointment of Egan by Pope Benedict’s ally and supporter Mennini, could we be looking at the start of an upswing in Britain? Egan surely annoyed the Magic Circlers earlier this month when he said Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae was infallible.

Certainly it is on record that Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, formerly of Westminster and still the leader of the Magic Circle, was said to have been furious at having missed a plane, and therefore his chance to veto Mark Davies appointment to Shrewsbury.

My friend in Germany expressed the hope that the new men are a sign that the days of the greying Magic Circle leftists are at last numbered, and there are better things to come. Though the cynic in me fears the cavalry has come over the hill thirty years and one papacy too late, and my acquaintance with the priorities of the Vatican have not filled me with confidence … I say, maybe. I think it will take a lot more than this, but stranger things have happened than the conversion of an entire nation.

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Wendy Davis facing trouble in Democratic stronghold over radical abortion stance

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By Dustin Siggins

State Senator Wendy Davis' outspoken support for late-term abortion made her a national figure, but it may have so turned off Hispanic voters that it could cost her, and her party, the votes of a Democratic-stronghold.

According to The Texas Tribune, Davis has a tremendous advantage in the Rio Grande Valley, a strongly Hispanic part of the state. Hidalgo County has not elected a Republican to a countywide post in "the modern era," the paper noted.

But her Republican challenger, Attorney General Greg Abbott, is looking to change that, targeting the area and the Hispanic vote with a new ad campaign.

According to U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-TX, pro-life Democrats will find it more difficult to vote for Davis because of her abortion position. And the region, which is very Catholic, tends to send pro-life Democrats to the polls.

Even as Davis faces risks among Hispanic Catholics, Abbott is making a major push to the minority population, which is expected to become a plurality of the state's population by 2020. Abbott has launched ads in Spanish, and spoken about how his wife will be the first Hispanic First Lady of Texas. He has also brought volunteers in for a ground campaign in the Rio Grande Valley, reminiscent of the 1998 George W. Bush gubernatorial campaign.

Bush was considered a popular Republican among Hispanics, winning 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in his 2004 president re-election campaign. While Abbott has a 12 to 13-point advantage in many polls over Davis, and an enormous financial advantage, his efforts are seen as looking to the GOP's future in Texas.

Davis, meanwhile, has struggled with all voting blocs. She is losing to opponent Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott by 12 to 13 points -- including women, according to an April 2014 poll. Democrats have largely written off the race, especially with control of the U.S. Senate taking up enormous media and financial resources.

Since her filibuster, Davis has attempted to walk a tightrope on her abortion position in order to win more moderate voters. She has called herself "pro-life" because of her support for certain education policies, and indicated that she supports limitations on abortions done after the first trimester. However, she has also recently published a book describing how she aborted a child in 1997 to prevent the child from "suffering."

That claim has drawn enormous media coverage for Davis, who was in New York for a book signing, was on the Rachel Maddow show, and generally had her abortion claims widely covered in innumerable national media outlets.

The book has also brought new life to abortion's importance in the gubernatorial race. In the Davis-Abbott debate last week, the first between the candidates, Davis indicated she supported no restrictions on abortion. She was asked "What do you see as fair regulations on abortion?"
Davis responded that she has "always believed that women should be able to make this most personal and difficult of decisions themselves, guided by their faith and their family and with their doctor."
"I stood on the Senate floor for 13 hours to ensure that this most private of decisions could be made by women," Davis said, before attacking Abbott for, among other things, allegedly opposing abortion in cases of "brutal rape" and incest.

At no point did Davis indicate support for any "regulations on abortion."

In his response, Abbott said that he is "pro-life" and Catholic. He said that "all life is sacred," and said that "Texas is ensuring that we protect more life and do a better job of protecting the health care of women by providing that women still have five months to make a very difficult decision, but after that time the state has an interest in protecting innocent life."

When asked by Houston-area TV station KHOU whether he would sign a bill that would ban abortions for reasons of rape and incest, however, Abbott did not answer the question. Instead, he described his support for the lives of the unborn and women, and his support for HB2.

HB2 is the legislation that Davis filibustered last year.

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Abbott faces his own difficulties -- he favors border enforcement and has made comments about corruption in the Rio Grande Valley. University of Texas-Pan American political scientist Jerry Polinard told the Tribune that he expects Davis to pull at least 55 percent of Democratic voters in Hidalgo, Texas – simply because "this is the bluest part of a red state." 

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Paul Huff, 66, and Tom Wojtowick, 73, were “married” in Seattle in May 2013. Wojtowick was an organist at the parish, while Paul sang in the choir. Video screenshot
Lisa Bourne

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Bishop stands by priest who removed ‘married’ homosexual couple from parish ministry

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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'This is not animus against someone who happens to be a homosexual; this issue is the same-sex marriage,' said Bishop Warfel.

A Montana bishop is standing by one of his priests after the priest told a homosexual couple in his parish that they cannot receive Communion or participate in Church ministry due to the fact that they have contracted a civil “marriage.”

Paul Huff, 66, and Tom Wojtowick, 73, have reportedly been together for more than 30 years and were “married” in Seattle in May 2013, according to the Associated Press.

The men told the local ABC-FOX affiliate that Father Samuel Spiering approached them shortly after beginning his assignment as administrator of St. Leo the Great and asked if the rumor he’d heard of them being “married” was true. When they affirmed it was, he asked if he could meet with them the following day.

Father Spiering informed them the next day that they have broken Cannon Law, and that they would not be able to receive communion or continue in ministry.

Canon 915 holds that those persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.

Both men sang in the choir and Wojtowick was an organist.

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The men agreed to write a restoration statement that, in part, would uphold the concept of marriage being between a man and a woman, during an August 25 conference call with Father Spiering, Bishop Warfel and other diocesan officials. They said they did not intend to challenge the Church’s concept of marriage with their union, rather they just wanted civil protection.

However, the statement also included a timeline for the two men to cease living together and divorce, which they would not agree to.

In an interview with the Billings Gazette last week Bishop Warfel said he knows Wojtowick and Huff “to be good people.”

“This is not animus against someone who happens to be a homosexual; this issue is the same-sex marriage,” Bishop Warfel said. “A lot of people put those two together, and obviously there’s a connection, but it’s not the same thing.”

After meeting with parishioners on Sunday, the bishop said that he would like to “effect healing” at the parish, but pointed out that he also has to uphold Catholic teaching.

The bishop also confirmed for ABC-FOX-Montana on Saturday that Huff and Wojtowick could not receive Communion.

While Bishop Warfel acknowledged growing support for homosexual “marriage” when speaking with the Billings Gazette, he said the fact remains that it stands in conflict with Catholic teachings.

“As a Catholic bishop I have a responsibility to uphold our teaching of marriage between one man and one woman,” said Bishop Warfel. “And I think there’s very solid scriptural teaching on it and our sacred tradition is very strong on it.”

Those teachings leave him little choice, he continued.

“Either I uphold what Catholic teachings are or, by ignoring it or permitting it, I’m saying I disagree with what I’m ordained to uphold,” the bishop said.

“Everyone is welcome to the journey of conversion,” said Bishop Warfel. “But there are certain convictions, beliefs or behaviors that are in direct contradiction to what we believe and teach, and this would be one of them.”

Father Spiering has declined to speak publicly and there has not been an official diocesan statement on the issue since the meeting at the parish on Saturday.
 

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New archbishops in Chicago and Madrid: Ratzingerians out, ‘inclusiveness’ in

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By Hilary White
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Chicago's Archbishop-elect, Blase Cupich

Pope Francis announced Saturday that he is appointing as archbishop of Chicago a prelate best known in pro-life circles as the man who ordered his priests in 2011 not to participate in local 40 Days for Life prayer vigils. The media and Church watchers describe him as “progressive,” “inclusive,” and “left-of-center.”

The appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich, current head of the Spokane diocese in Washington, to America’s third most prominent see – an appointment which Vatican watchers predicted would signal the pope’s priorities for the direction of the U.S. Church – has been widely praised by liberal Catholics and opponents of Church teaching but met with concern by many Catholic activists.

The archbishop-elect gave a sense of his approach to the U.S. “culture war” in an interview Sunday with Chicago’s CBS affiliate, in which he suggested he would be open to giving Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians and a person wearing a button in favour of same-sex “marriage.”

“As long as they’re in church, are willing to hear the word of God, be open to Christ’s call of conversion for each one of us, then I think that that’s sufficient for me,” he said. “We cannot politicize the Communion rail and I just don’t think that that works in the long run.”

Cupich will replace the ailing Cardinal Francis George, known in the US as a “Ratzingerian” for his strong defense of Catholic orthodoxy, particularly on issues of sexual morality, but who is suffering from cancer and is overdue for retirement at age 77. The archbishop of Chicago is also normally granted the “red hat” and made a cardinal, which would make Cupich eligible to vote in upcoming papal conclaves. Cupich is scheduled to be installed in Chicago November 18.

The Chicago appointment mirrors that of another outside the US in recent weeks. Rome announced August 28 that Carlos Osoro Sierra, 69, will be installed as the new archbishop of Madrid, Spain’s capital city and largest archdiocese. But the story in Madrid has less to do with the new appointee and more to do with the would-be appointee who was demoted.

Until just before the appointment, most Vatican watchers expected the prominent post to be given to 68-year-old Vatican Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, dubbed the “little Ratzinger” for his orthodoxy in line with Pope Benedict XVI.  When LifeSiteNews interviewed Cardinal Cañizares in 2009 at the time of his appointment as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, he noted that denying communion to pro-abortion politicians was a charitable act.

Leaving his Vatican post, he was considered a natural for the Madrid spot. But instead it went to the archbishop of Valencia, and Cañizares is to fill that vacancy instead.

The former archbishop of Valencia is known for his strong “liberal” leanings and he will be replacing Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, 78, who, like Cañizares, is also known for following the lead of the retired Pope Benedict XVI.

El Pais wrote of the new appointee that Catholics of the Madrid archdiocese, accustomed to the “hieratic” Varela, will be seeing “an entirely different model.”

“Shortly after the announcement of his appointment, the most repeated words to define his figure were ‘dialogue’ and ‘moderation.’”

“During the 12 years he has been the head of the Catholic Church [in Madrid], Rouco Varela has too often mixed faith and politics, with an overdose of intransigence. Defending the (exclusively traditional) family and attacking laws that recognize the right of women to abortion are the main workhorses.”

Catholic News Agency’s Vatican-watcher, Andrea Gagliarducci, wrote that the appointment marks a “new course for Spain’s bishops.” He is described in the Spanish press as “affable,” “friendly,” and “extremely gregarious.” 

As for Cupich, David Gibson of Religion News Service described him as “a prelate closely identified with the Catholic Church’s progressive wing.”

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Vatican watcher Rocco Palmo, author of the “Whispers in the Loggia” blog, wrote that the appointment is “the most shocking major move the American hierarchy has seen in the last decade and a half.” Another Vatican veteran, John Allen Jr., wrote for the US Catholic online magazine Crux that Cupich so closely mirrors Pope Francis’ theology and style that he could be called the “American Pope Francis in Chicago.”

On his blog, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, known for his icy relations with the pro-life movement, shared his excitement over the “new breeze” brought by Cupich’s appointment. The bishop noted that Cupich “admires deeply the ecclesiology and vision” of leftist prelates such as former San Francisco Archbishop John Quinn and former Galveston-Houston Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza.

The news of Cupich’s appointment was met with praise in the mainstream press. According to The New York Times Francis has “set the tone” for US appointments by “replacing a combative conservative with a prelate whose pastoral approach to upholding church doctrine is more in keeping with the pope’s inclusive tone.”

It has also been praised by dissident Catholic groups such as the homosexual activist group New Ways Ministries. Last year, the group issued a roundup of evaluations of the various leading members of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who were set to elect a new president. New Ways praised Cupich for his intervention in the 2012 debate leading up to a referendum on “gay marriage” in Washington State. Cupich’s only intervention was a pastoral letter in which he asked voters to uphold traditional marriage, but also called for a “more civil and honest conversation about Catholic positions on equality.”

“I also want to be very clear that in stating our position, the Catholic Church has no tolerance for the misuse of this moment to incite hostility toward homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity,” Cupich wrote.

Cupich stood out from his fellow US bishops in his response to the abortion-funding Obamacare. Though he joined his other bishops in condemning the Obama administration’s mandate that Catholic employers cover abortifacients and contraceptives, he encouraged Catholic Charities in his diocese to act as an Obamacare navigator and help people sign up for coverage that could fund the destruction of unborn life.

He also condemned the line of other US bishops when they threatened to shut down Catholic social services. “These kind of scare tactics and worse-case scenario predictions are uncalled for,” Cupich wrote in a letter to diocesan employees. “I am confident we can find a way to move forward.”

Today the anti-Catholic organization Call to Action issued a press release saying they are “relieved” at the appointment. “At a time when numerous U.S. Bishops are choosing to fight ideological battles, Pope Francis’ selection of Cupich demonstrates a desire for a humbler, more pastoral church.”  

Call to Action, like New Ways Ministries, works to overturn Catholic doctrine, particularly on sexual matters, from within the Church, and has received the censure of the US bishops for their activities. They wrote, “The choice of Cupich shows promise for a church which can be closer to the people. Catholics in Chicago and beyond yearn for a faith rooted in the Gospel call of love and justice over rigid orthodoxy.”

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