Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

‘Dark horse’ cardinals: their positions on life and family and faith issues - Part I

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, March 2, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On the evening of October 16, 1978, thousands of people filled the Piazza San Pietro waiting to hear the name of their new pope. But when it came, there was reportedly a muted response from puzzled Catholics who had never heard the name Karol Józef Wojtyła. At the death of Pope Paul VI, there was much speculation as to possible “front-runners” for the papacy, but at that time, there was no strong candidate as an obvious choice. 

After the close of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, five days ago, a similar situation exists again and although the world’s news media are running lists of about a dozen so-called “papabile,” the consensus is that, unlike 2005, there is no obvious successor. Despite this, little attention is being paid by media to the names and characters of the less-known cardinals, their positions and statements on various issues of interest to Catholics. The old saying, “He who goes into a Conclave a pope comes out a cardinal,” may be even more applicable than usual to this Conclave where the absence of a strong lead candidate could leave open the possibility of a “dark horse,” a repeat of the surprise announcement of 1978 that brought the world Pope John Paul II. 

With a total of 207 members in the College of Cardinals, only a small fraction are considered papabile to the outside world. According to rules set down by the late Pope John Paul II, only those cardinals under 80 years old are eligible to vote. The meetings currently under way in Rome, however, called General Congregations, are open to all cardinals and the older members of the College are valued for their experience and insights into the needs of the Church. And, at least in theory, any of them could be elected.

While the world’s media focuses on the scandals on the one side and the leading names on the other, LifeSiteNews.com will present a series of brief profiles on the “unknowns,” those who may be of interest to the cardinals themselves, but who may have received little attention in the English language press. We hope that this overview of the Cardinal Electors and some of the influential non-voting cardinals will help readers gain a clearer understanding of what is happening behind closed doors of the Conclave and its preliminary meetings.

Today, three Cardinals from Germany.

~ * ~

Reinhard Cardinal Marx
Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany,
59 years old, Cardinal Elector
Created a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI

Considered a follower of Pope Benedict on matters of ecclesiastical discipline, in 2003, Marx suspended a theologian for extending to non-Catholic Christians an invitation to receive the Eucharist. Generally more to the left on political and economic issues and a supporter of a Christianised social welfare state and European Union, Cardinal Marx is the author of a book titled “Das Kapital: A Plea for Man,” a re-visioning of his namesake’s manifesto Das Kapital. 

In 2011, Marx, who is also president of the broadly liberal European Commission COMECE Bishops, said that the Catholic Church should not always be at odds with the modern world of culture and science but should engage in a “dialogue” of “teaching and learning”. The dialogue process should not stop at sensitive issues such as celibacy and sexual morality. “If condoms and celibacy constitute the main points of discussion, something can not be run properly in the spiritual communication,” the cardinal said.

Asked at the start of 2013, an election year in Germany, what expectations a man of the church would have for politics, Cardinal Marx said that the election campaigns have become overly personalised and prone to exaggerations. “I think that’s unfortunate. We as a Church will not cease to address issues of protection of life, of family, of sustainability. We advocate for a just society, the need to give everyone a chance.”

~ * ~

Karl Cardinal Lehmann
Bishop of Mainz, Germany
76 years old, Cardinal Elector
Created a cardinal by Pope John Paul II 

A former chairman of the Conference of the German Bishops, Lehmann is known for his liberal attitude towards the Church’s liturgy, encouraging experimentation and “progressive” liturgical celebrations. He made headlines recently for his outspoken criticism of the decision to lift the excommunication of the traditionalist bishops of the Society of St. Pius X. He later dismissed as “nonsense” the suggestion that people might want to have access to the Sacraments in the traditional forms.

Lehmann has been described as “one of the most famous faces of Catholicism in Germany,” and is a favourite with the German media by whom he is known for his leftist leanings on politics and economics. He retired from his chairmanship of the German bishops’ confernce due to ill health in 2008, but had held the position since 1987 and had the longest term as chairman of the conference since its founding.

Under Lehmann’s leadership, the German bishops conference became known as one of the most “liberal” in the Catholic world. They have come under heavy criticism for their ownership of a publishing company that sells pornography, which they have defended, claiming it was not porn but only “erotica”. Also on Lehmann’s watch, the conference was engaged in a decades-long fight with the Vatican over its involvement in a government programme that helped women obtain abortions.

In 2004, Lehmann was strongly criticised by Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, for “fostering dissent” in the Church among theologians on an array of doctrinal matters. In 2010, Lehmann called for a “gradual transformation of the traditional gender roles of men and women”.

Most recently, Lehmann was specifically named by German bishops defending their approval of prescribing the abortifacient Morning After Pill for rape victims in Catholic hospitals. In a paper, Cardinal Lehmann had called for the use of the drug to be “reevaluated” in the light of new formulations of the pill which may only prevent conception, not implantation. These “new formulations” of the drug however, have been demonstrated to be non-existent.

~ * ~

Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki
Archbishop of Berlin, Germany,
55 years old, Cardinal Elector,
Created a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI 

In an interview last July with the German weekly Die Zeit, Woelki said he “challenged” the Church to “rethink the doctrine of remarried divorcees and homosexuals.” Very much in line with the thinking of much of the German and Austrian epsicopate, Woelki argued that people who have been divorced and remarried should be allowed to receive Communion. 

On homosexuality, he said, “If I take seriously the Catechism, I cannot see homosexual relations only as a denial of natural law. I also understand that there are people who take long-term mutual responsibility, who promise fidelity and want to take care of each other. So I urge finally that we find a way to allow people to live without going against the teachings of the Church.”

He told homosexualist activists in Germany that he was ready to “dialogue” with them. “When two gay people assume mutual responsibility,” he said, “if they have a true and long term relationship, we must consider this relationship in the same way as straight a link.” 

In October 2012 Cardinal Woelki was nominated for a Respect Award by the Alliance Against Homophobia. He was praised by the group for speaking out in favor of a 'new cooperation with homosexuals in society' and officially meeting the Association for Gays and Lesbians for talks.

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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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