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Irish gvmt ‘torn apart’ over abortion legalisation: leaders desperate to quash cross-party revolt

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By Hilary White
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DUBLIN, Ireland July 26, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Leading party insiders are expressing fears that the fragile coalition government will be “torn apart” if it continues to insist on liberalising the abortion law. Signs are increasing of growing tensions across party boundaries over demands from the left for legalisation.

The chairman of the ruling party, Fine Gael’s Charles Flanagan, told the heavily left-leaning Irish Independent last weekend that the government is running the risk of getting “bogged down in a liberal crusade during a time of high unemployment and economic difficulties.”

He said the party fears strife and division and “ultimate defeat” over it. “The parallels between last week and the eighties, or the errors of the Greens in the last government, are not going un-noticed.”

The Independent’s John Drennan reports that “the Government will face a large-scale, cross-party revolt of Fine Gael and Labour TDs and senators should they attempt to liberalise Ireland’s abortion regime via the legislative route.” The report follows revelations last week that the ruling party is in turmoil over abortion, with 15 backbenchers threatening a full-scale revolt.

Drennan says, however, that opposition “is far more widespread,” in the government ranks, and “far more than two” coalition TDs will resign over it should legislation be put forward. Opposition is reportedly so widespread that the government would have to secure support across parties, an outcome that is growing increasingly unlikely.

The Independent quoted an unnamed source in closed-door meetings who said, “The Taoiseach’s [Prime Minister’s] handlers are very paranoid. The usual suspects were on the phones, quelling dissent and warning people.”

Sources have revealed that even in the Labour party, whose leader Eamon Gilmore has stated that the country must legalise abortion, support is far from unanimous. The Independent quotes one Labour TD complaining of “the excessive influence of a pro-choice wing led by a Dublin elite.”  A letter signed by a group of Labour TDs said, “The attitudes of a Dublin liberal elite are not representative of the complex and diverse stance on this issue that is contained within the Labour Party.” Another party source said that should Gilmore attempt to force the issue, “it will take a fair man to bring us all to heel on a matter involving our personal consciences.”

While the coalition government is struggling under the pressure of the unpopular abortion issue, added to the country’s growing economic distress, the former leading party, Fianna Fáil, is waiting in the wings. Micheál Martin, Fianna Fáil’s leader, has strongly reiterated their opposition to legislating for abortion. He told the Irish Examiner on the 23rd that he “remains to be convinced that it’s a doable proposition” to bring in a new abortion law based on the 1992 X case.

Such legislation, he said, could open the door to abortion in more widespread circumstances than the Supreme Court intended. The court ruled that abortion is allowable in cases where the woman’s life is at risk, including in cases where she has threatened suicide. The decision was condemned by abortion opponents as a major breach in the country’s legal protections for the unborn.

Martin’s comments follow those of Minister of State at the Department of Health, Kathleen Lynch, who told RTÉ radio this weekend that she believes the government will “have no choice” but to bring forward legislation. “Clearly, there will be differences [of opinion] but, in terms of legislation, in this particular instance, we won’t have a choice,” Lynch said.

Asked whether the Health Minister, Dr. James Reilly, should go forward with legislation, Martin said, “It’s not as black and white as is being portrayed, and I’m not so sure that that route necessarily is going to lead to a significant improvement for anybody.

“I’m not absolutist in terms of being judgmental on people. But… I think we should do everything we possibly can to preserve the life of the unborn and preserve the life of the mother. And I think we do that in Ireland, actually.”

All parties are waiting for the findings of an “expert group” on the question, but the group has had to fight heavy criticism that the government has “stacked” it with abortion supporters. Currently, abortion is outlawed in the country by a constitutional amendment, which can only be changed by a public referendum. Abortion-promoters have been working to find a way around the referendum requirement since polls continue to show that the public desire to see abortion legalised remains negligible. 

Fianna Fáil are waiting with everyone else for the outcome of the expert group’s report, but Martin reiterated the party’s opposition to abortion, saying it “hasn’t changed” and “is not going to change.” “The right to life is something we believe in as a political party,” he said.

At the same time, pro-life observers have called the government’s bluff, calling the “no choice” claim “disingenuous”. Patrick Buckley, the European Union and Dublin representative of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said, “This statement is clearly disingenuous since the Expert Group is tasked with producing a range of options for consideration by the government not to recommend one particular course of action.”
 
Moreover, Buckley said, the ECHR ruling said nothing about requiring legalisation, but only that there should be “clarity” on the current law.

“Those seeking to introduce abortion in Ireland are intentionally distorting the A, B and C judgment to support their own agenda while ignoring another important fact, namely, that Ireland, without abortion, is the safest place in the world for pregnant women,” Buckley added.

In a 2002 referendum then-ruling Fianna Fáil unsuccessfully proposed removing suicide as a legal ground for abortion. Martin said, “We felt the suicide option — if you legislate for that, you’re essentially creating an open-door situation, and it will be very difficult to hold back.”

While it is thought to be impossible to change the law through a referendum, activists have been hammering on the issue by the “back door,” through the courts and medical practice guidelines in the Republic and in Northern Ireland. The most successful wedge so far was the case brought by abortion lobby groups to the European Court of Human Rights, the A, B and C case, in which three women complained that they had been denied abortions.

The ECHR ruled in 2010 that although there was no requirement for legalisation of abortion, the Irish government had violated women’s rights to privacy and must issue legislation to clarify under what circumstances exactly abortion could be allowed with regards to the notorious X case.

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Lisa Bourne

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

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By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

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Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

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Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

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By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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