Ben Johnson

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Jimmy Carter’s pro-life rhetoric ‘a political decision,’ Baptist leaders say

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

This story was updated at 10 a.m. Eastern time n April 12, 2012 to include additional quotations and embed the audio file of President Carter speaking with Dr. Albert Mohler.

PLAINS, GEORGIA, April 11, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com)  – Leader of former President Jimmy Carter’s longtime denomination say his calls for the Democratic Party to adopt a less radical pro-choice platform is a political calculation to help the party in the South.

“I never have believed that Jesus Christ would approve of abortions,” Carter told talk show host Laura Ingraham, while promoting his new study Bible. “I’ve signed a public letter calling for the Democratic Party at the next convention to espouse my position on abortion which is to minimize the need…and limit it only to women whose life are in danger or who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest.”

“I think if the Democratic Party would adopt that policy that would be acceptable to a lot of people who are now estranged from our party because of the abortion issue,” he said.

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The political context, and the shift in Carter’s views since leaving the presidency, have made Southern Baptist leaders question his sincerity.

“What he’s doing is making a political calculation,” Dr. Richard Land told LifeSiteNews.com. “It isn’t a moral decision about abortion. This is a political decision.”

Dr. Land, who has served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission since 1988, said the issue “is killing the Democrats in the South” and that “Jimmy understands this. He understands the reason they lost the South is not the civil rights movement; it’s the abortion movement.”

“I think there’s a political calculus at play here,” agreed J. Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action. “Jimmy Carter, though he wasn’t much of a president, is astute enough to recognize this is a battle they’re going to lose. Those who defended abortion homicide will be viewed similarly in history as those who opposed the abolition movement and supported slavery.”

“The millenials are swinging in droves,” he said. “As science indicates when life begins, the young people are simply abandoning the euphemistic talking points [the] pro-choice…Left has been using to push its radical agenda.”

The former president’s unease may be heightened by the strong showing pro-life activist Randall Terry made in the Democratic presidential primaries, beating President Obama in 14 counties in Oklahoma. Ingraham noted Carter was the last Democrat to carry every state in the South.

(Story continues following video. Carter’s comments begin at approximately 13:17.)

President Carter made nearly identical comments in 2005, while promoting his number one New York Times bestseller,   Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis. shortly after “values voters” defeated John Kerry. Carter told The Washington Times, “I’ve never been convinced, if you let me inject my Christianity into it, that Jesus Christ would approve abortion.” He hoped his party would “let the deeply religious people and the moderates on social issues like abortion feel that the Democratic Party cares about them and understands them.” The book’s seven pages on abortion, however, do not criticize Democrats but say pro-life voters “do not extend their concern to the baby who is born.”
 
As president, Carter appointed Sarah Weddington, the lead attorney in Roe v. Wade, as his chief adviser on women’s affairs from 1978-81. While he personally opposed abortion and vetoed government funding of abortion, he said he would not enact his views into law.

Dr. Land called that “the worst position you can have morally.”

“It’s one thing not to understand abortion is the taking of a human life and thus be for its legalization,” he said. “It’s altogether worse to understand that it is the taking of a human life but not have the gumption to stand up and say the country shouldn’t allow it.”

At the same time the 39th president has highlighted his more moderate stance on abortion, Carter has endorsed same-sex “marriage.” He told The Huffington Post, “I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies” but he added he drew the line, “maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people.”

Dr. Richard Land said, “I’m not surprised that he holds that view. He is hopelessly confused as a theologian.” Carter has said his favorite theologians were liberals Rienhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich.

Barber told LifeSiteNews.com, “Jimmy Carter has made a cottage industry of twisting scripture to say the exact opposite of what it says.”

“Homosexual conduct, is listed over and over again in black-and-white as sin,” said Barber.

“There’s a word for what Jimmy Carter is doing. That’s apostasy,” Barber told LifeSiteNews.com. “That’s a strong word to use, but Jimmy Carter is an apostate in that he is leading the least of these to sin against what Scripture clearly condemns in terms of homosexual conduct.”

“He is not just fooling himself with this,” Barber told LifeSiteNews. “Unfortunately he’s using the goodwill he has developed over the years and his history as the leader of the free world to push heretical notions.”

These views, they said, stem from Carter’s belief the Bible is not inerrant, they said.

Last month, Carter joined Dr. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, for a lengthy and cordial discussion of theology. Dr. Mohler described Carter’s view of Scriptural inerrancy as “a separation of history and theology that I believe is destructive of the Gospel.” 

Dr. Land told LifeSiteNews.com, “Jimmy has fallen prey to the common malady of mainline Protestantism: dalmation theology. The Bible is inspired in spots, and they individually are inspired to spot the spots. They just happen to be the spots they agree with.” 

Matt Barber agreed, “The liberal theologian is in the untenable position of having to take the Bible and say it is a really malleable text so they can take it and twist it and turn it contort is in such a way so they say it fits with their worldview.”

“They stand in judgment of Scripture instead of standing under the judgment of Scripture,” Dr. Land said.

This was Carter’s motive to create a new, more liberal Baptist church with former president Bill Clinton in 2008.

“They are people who were raised Southern Baptist in the case of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton but don’t really believe what Southern Baptists believe anymore but who want to nostalgically yearn for being called Southern Baptists,” Dr. Land said.

“I am in no position to judge Jimmy Carter’s soul or his relationship, to the extent that he may or may not have one, with Christ,” Barber said. “However, I can look at what Jimmy Carter has done in defense of the gross bastardization of a God-inspired institution, marriage, and the 55 million children who have been slaughtered since Roe v. Wade, and I can say without a doubt those [positions] are an affront to the clear, unequivocal words of Scripture.”

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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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Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

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

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
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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Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

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

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
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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