John Jalsevac

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Gay students organize campaign to kick out Catholic priest for saying homosexuality, abortion sinful

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 5, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic students at George Washington University are rallying to the support of their beloved priest after two gay seniors launched a campaign to kick him out of his post at the university’s Newman Center for preaching that homosexuality and abortion are sinful.

The GW Hatchet, a campus newspaper, reported this week that seniors Damian Legacy and Blake Bergen are spearheading the campaign. The story has since been picked up by numerous other news outlets.

The students say that they will file a formal complaint with the university, release a video featuring ten other students who share their opinion, and hold prayer vigils until the priest is removed from his post. They are also demanding that the university’s Student Association defund the Newman Center, which receives $10,000 a year.

In their letter of complaint the pair will reportedly cite studies showing how being around “homophobic” behavior can lead to loss of appetite and problems sleeping.

The students complain that Fr. Greg Shaffer has spoken out against gay “marriage” and abortion, and has counseled homosexual Catholic students to embrace celibacy. They said they were disturbed when Fr. Shaffer quoted the Book of Romans and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

One of the two students, Damian Legacy, says he spent a large portion of his free time at the Newman Center during his freshman year at the university, including serving at Mass, and that he had hoped to become a priest. However, Fr. Shaffer reportedly disapproved when he found out that Legacy was in a relationship with another male student, and that he and Bergen were both running for offices with the gay rights organization Allied in Pride. 

“To have my faith leader view me that way, just because of one piece of the way that God made me, and to think that one part is responsible for the destruction of my human dignity, it just didn't, I can’t even begin to describe the mental conflict that it creates,” Legacy said. 

The Hatchet reports Bergen was "raised Jewish" and "identifies as agnostic." Legacy has since been ordained in the North American Old Catholic Church, which encourages homosexuals to become clergy.

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Catholic students rally to defense of Fr. Shaffer

Meanwhile, a student at the university has launched a website in support of Fr. Shaffer. Entitled The Chaplain We Know, the site features dozens of glowing testimonies from students about how the priest has touched their lives, and paying tribute to his spirit of service and passion for the Catholic faith.

Several students spoke of the priest’s willingness to meet with them at any time of day or night when they were in crisis or needed support. One described how, overcome with guilt during her freshman year, she had randomly called the priest at 2:00 in the morning on a Friday. 

“I don’t even know why,” she said. “I was a freshman, and I wasn’t even that Catholic yet. I dialed his number because I found his business card in the chapel. And he answered, and I was sobbing like a little baby and he didn’t even know who I was but he met me at the Foggy Bottom metro, and we talked and he got me Confession.”

Another student described how, after he learned that his father was dying from cancer this past Christmas, Fr. Shaffer cancelled his plans and drove nine hours to be with the student’s family. There he celebrated Mass and prayed over the student’s father. 

“I will never forget or be able to truly express my gratitude for the selflessness and charity he showed by coming to be with my family over this past Christmas break,” wrote the student, who said that his father has since defied the doctors’ prognosis and dramatically improved.

Interestingly, one of the gay students who is seeking to oust the priest shared a similar story about Fr. Shaffer’s dedication, telling The Hatchet that he knew the priest would always answer his telephone, even if he called him in the middle of the night. 

Chris Crawford, the student behind The Chaplain We Know, told LifeSiteNews.com that he was motivated to start the site because "Fr. Greg has been an enormous source of strength for GW Catholics."

"He is like a father to many of us. When we need someone to turn to, he is always there to answer our call - even if we call his cell phone in the middle of the night," said Crawford. "Whenever we need him, he is there to help us and to show us love and support. Lately, a false caricature of Fr. Greg has been created by some of the media on campus. This caricature is not in line with the loving, supportive Chaplain that we know. I wanted people to know the loving, supportive chaplain that we know."

Crawford said since the story broke, Fr. Shaffer, GW Catholics, and The Chaplain We Know, have "received an overwhelming outpouring of support."

He said he hopes that the publicity around the campaign from the students will lead people to check out the Newman Center. "If people, even those who expect to dislike us, come to The Newman Center to learn more about us, they will become closer to Christ. The Newman Center is a welcoming place in which everyone is loved. This is like our home away from home."

Meanwhile, he said, he is praying for the two students who have launched the campaign, whom he doesn't personally know.

Archdiocese, other Catholic organizations support Fr. Shaffer

Other Catholic organizations have also stepped up in support of the priest. In a letter to the university, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League described the two students’ complaint as “an attack on the freedom of expression of Catholics on campus to discuss their religious beliefs and practices with impunity.” 

Patrick O’Reilly of the Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic education watchdog organization, told Fox News he found the whole incident “absolutely disturbing.” 

"Chastity outside of marriage has been the Catholic church teaching for more than 2,000 years," he said. "The only discrimination occurring there is trying to silence a priest for trying to teach the Catholic faith."

The Archdiocese of Washington has responded to the controversy with a statement defending their priest. While the GW Newman Center is affililated with the university, it is officially part of the archdiocese.

"Fr. Greg Shaffer, chaplain at the Newman Center on the campus of the George Washington University, shares the teachings of the Catholic Church in a welcoming and joyful manner. His ministry is a vital component of the vibrant faith community on campus," reads the statement.

"The Catholic Church welcomes everyone. The teachings, however, are not tailored to an individual's personal beliefs," it continues. "Thus, priests have a commitment to educate people in the truths of our faith, regardless of the current cultural trend." 

“Forgive them, Father”

The university has said it is investigating the complaint. Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Terri Harris Reed released a statement saying that the university "strives to embody the spirit of mutual respect and reasoned debate that is essential to our academic mission." 

"We are therefore committed to ensuring that all members of our community are free to express their religious beliefs while honoring the right of others to express theirs," the statement read. 

Fr. Greg has not yet responded at length to the accusations, other than in one quote included in the Hatchet article, in which he said that freedom of religion and freedom of speech are “important rights that play a vital role at a diverse university like GW,” and that they are on his side.

However, in a blog post Wednesday, the day before the story was published in the Hatchet, he posted a photo of Jesus sitting on some rocks, with the words “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

A message left with Fr. Shaffer was not returned by press time. 


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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary
By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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