Patrick Craine

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Responding to CRS on employee who rammed pro-lifers with car

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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August 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In the last year, the Holy Father has begun a painstaking effort to reform the Caritas network to ensure the world’s Catholic aid organizations are fully living out their Catholic identity. They’ve even gone so far as to remove the head of Caritas Internationalis. In this effort, the Vatican has strongly emphasized a need to recover the evangelical purpose of the Church’s charitable works.

But how can we expect these organizations to be agents of evangelization – bearers of the Gospel – when they send workers into the field who disagree with fundamental Gospel teachings?

Last week, LifeSiteNews released a report raising concerns about several employees of Catholic Relief Services who have had strong ties to pro-abortion and pro-contraception organizations.

CRS responded in a press release on Saturday. They emphasize that each of the four employees we named have “abided by Church teaching” while on the job for CRS.

But doesn’t that miss the point? Do any of these employees actually believe Church teaching?

In response to pro-lifers’ concerns about CRS’ relationships with pro-abortion organizations - such as their $5.3 million grant to CARE - CRS has argued that these relationships are important to ensure there’s a “Catholic voice” at the table.

But how can CRS be a “Catholic voice” at the table if their representatives are advocates of abortion or population control?

None of the employees we named were secretarial or administrative – each in some way is on the ground representing the U.S. Bishops’ development arm and implementing its programs.

One of them was Dr. Amy Ellis, who joined CRS after three years at the pro-abortion, population-control group Population Services International. In our report we stated that Ellis gave a presentation on “global contraceptive needs” at a conference in Senegal in 2011 while she was employed by CRS. We’re grateful that CRS has now clarified that Ellis did not attend that conference, though they still acknowledge that she contributed to the paper. We’re sorry for the error and have corrected it, though we would have appreciated the clarification before running the story had they responded to our request for comment.

CRS also confirmed that Ellis represented them at the Women Deliver conference in May 2012. Of course, it’s not intrinsically problematic that CRS would send a representative to a pro-abortion conference like Women Deliver. In fact, LifeSiteNews sent a reporter to that very conference in 2010.

But it becomes scandalous when the person you’re sending as your representative has herself advocated population control, was hired directly from a pro-abortion “relief” organization, and then is sitting at a table discussing “maternal and reproductive health” with Marie Stopes and Planned Parenthood.

CRS also responded to concerns about Charisse Glassman, who was convicted in the fall after ramming her car into a crowd of pro-lifers at the March for Life in January 2011. CRS defends itself by emphasizing that they gave Glassman “the presumption of innocence” and say she resigned in July 2011 before the case went to trial.

But that’s all beside the point. We’re not concerned by the fact that Glassman was kept on as she faced what were then unproven criminal charges. Our concern is that CRS employed someone who is so adverse to the pro-life cause that she not only rammed her car into a crowd of pro-lifers, but reportedly laughed while doing it. It’s not the criminal act that was the issue, but the animus to Catholic teaching that the act represented.

Sadly, it seems CRS has completely missed the point of our investigations. In an internal e-mail to CRS leaders sent by communications rep Jim Stipe, LifeSiteNews is accused of “spearhead[ing] a series of attacks against CRS.” “These attacks are intended to discredit CRS and mobilize their base against us,” he writes.

But it’s never been our intention to “attack” or “discredit” CRS, or the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, or Canada’s Development & Peace, or any other Catholic organization we’ve reported on.

In each of these cases we’ve taken pains to bring the concerns to the organization before going public, and even held the articles for weeks in some cases. We would much rather the issues be fixed, or the organization reformed, without the spotlight and controversy. But when it’s clear the issues will not be resolved, we have no choice but to take them public – to shine some light on the darkness.

We’re pleased to hear CRS’ assertion that all of its employees “adhere to Church principles and teaching” while on the job. But is that the best we can do - that development workers simply not oppose Church teaching when contentious issues arise? Would we not rather that they actively propose the Church’s perennial wisdom in these areas?

If it truly believes Pope Paul VI’s prophetic warnings about the destruction wrought by contraception in families and societies, for example, how could a Catholic development organization not make it a key aim to actively counter the massively-funded contraceptive effort? But instead they align themselves with its advocates – groups like CARE.

In promoting the dignity of the human person in the Third World, as CRS aims to do, a Catholic aid organization cannot reduce the person to her physical needs, divorced somehow from her moral and spiritual needs. The Church’s moral teachings and her evangelistic mission are integral to her development efforts.

This was one of the most crucial emphases of Caritas in Veritate. As Pope Benedict wrote, both Humanae Vitae and Evangelii Nuntiandi, though lacking a “direct link to social doctrine,” are “highly important for delineating the fully human meaning of the development that the Church proposes.”

The Church’s moral teachings are not fundamentally a restraint on the Church’s work in the social sphere, but an impetus. They are not something merely to be “adhered” to, but believed and put into action.

Patrick Craine is Canadian Bureau Chief for LifeSiteNews.com.

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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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