Ben Johnson

L.A. Archdiocese Religious Education Congress speakers support gay priests, Obama, masturbation

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, March 22, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Religious Education Congress bills itself as an “opportunity to hear God’s voice in their own lives.” However, some of the featured speakers at the March 22-25 event, said to be the largest of its kind in the world, have described Barack Obama as “pro-life,” longed for “public models of gay priests,” opposed marriage protection legislation, and encouraged children to engage in “genital self-touch.”

Neither Tod M. Tamberg nor Carolina Guevara, media representatives for the Archdiocese, responded to an e-mail from LifeSiteNews.com concerning allegations speakers at the REC deviate from the Church’s teachings by supporting homosexual priests or masturbation.

When LifeSiteNews called to follow-up, Tamberg insisted he did not receive the e-mail, then hung up on us.

When asked about the e-mail, which was sent Thursday morning, Tamberg said rapidly: “Didn’t get any e-mails. Um, didn’t get any e-mails at all. Don’t know what you’re talkin’ about. And I’m running down to the Congress right now. So, sorry. Thanks for your call, though. Bye-bye!”

His side of the call lasted 13 seconds. He immediately hung up. Neither Tamberg nor Guevara returned calls for follow-up.

However, LifeSiteNews.com has confirmed a number of the speakers at the archdiocesan event, which runs Thursday through Sunday, have a history of dissent or controversy.

Dr. Richard Gaillardetz wrote in 2008 that Barack Obama was “the pro-life candidate.”

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“I have come to believe that the true ‘pro-life’ candidate is not the one who champions opposition to Roe v. Wade,” he wrote in the Toledo Blade, but one who supports “policies that would extend substantial financial and health-care assistance to poor families facing unplanned pregnancies.” The bishop of Toledo, Leonard Blair, wrote the paper to say Gaillardetz’ views “do not reflect the clear and consistent moral position of the United States Catholic bishops.”

Dr. Gaillardetz will host REC sessions entitled “Behind the Scenes at Vatican II: The Council that Almost Failed” and “Four Paths to Wisdom in the Christian Tradition.” Both will be recorded for posterity.

Fr. Bryan Massingale, a priest with the archdiocese of Milwaukee and an associate professor of moral theology at Marquette University, spoke last March before the group “Equally Blessed,” which describes itself as “a coalition of faithful Catholics who support full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people both in the church and in civil society.” The professor, who has said he wants the Church to be “more sensuous and feminine,”  publicly opposed Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Act last year.  His recorded talk, “Whatever Happened to the Common Good,” laments “the challenges of living this conviction in a fragmented and divided society.”

Fr. James Martin of America magazine participated in a workshop at the 2005 Religious Education Congress, where he told the faithful: “f only there were more public models of gay priests. In the absence of any healthy gay priests for Catholics to reflect on publicly, and with the only examples being notorious pedophiles, the stereotype of the gay priest as child abuser only deepens.”

Fr. Martin will present an “Arena Session” at the 2012 Religious Education Conference on “Heaven and Mirth: Joy, Humor and Laughter in the Spiritual Life,” which will be recorded.

Sister Fran Ferder, a Franciscan nun, has said the Church needs a “theology of body touch, body exploration,” especially for children. “Ordinary genital self-touch can be very important and can help children come to reverence their bodies, to know them,” she said.

Sr. Ferder has stated Catholic bishops shame sexual sins in order to control their flock. Such “negative messages” about “sexual mistakes,” she said,“have to do with control and maintaining power. The patriarchal dominance in the hierarchy is incredibly strong, and sexual mandates are a good way to scare and control people.” 

She and Fr. John Heagle from the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, direct the Therapy and Renewal Associates, based in Seattle. Fr. Heagle has stated the Church needs to listen to the “love stories of the gay and lesbian community.”

They are teaching a recorded workshop, on “Beyond Belief: Reclaiming Biblical Faith.” Its description states, “This shift has contributed to a growing chasm between spirituality and religion, and a “crisis of faith” for many people. This presentation explores practical ways in which we can reclaim a more personal, biblical way of believing.”

Dr. Michael Downey will give a recorded workshop on “The Suffering That Speaks Justice.” Downey edited the book My Song is of Mercy by the late Fr. Matthew Kelty. In it, Kelty wrote, “There are none more called to [the Catholic priesthood], more capable of it, more created for it, than the people we call gay.” Since they have both male and female personality traits, Fr. Kelty wrote, “They begin from day one a process of integration others do not even have a hint of before they are 40. Bless them!” The “gay,” he wrote, is “larger than life…society’s blessing, the Church’s hope.” His only concern was that even homosexuals are “so western, so capitalist, so male-oriented.” In his introduction, Downey enthused, “My hope is that this volume will offer the opportunity for lectio divina,” holy and meditative reading often reserved for the Scriptures and the writings of the saints.

Dr. Downey served as theologian for Cardinal Mahony in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and is a professor of systematic theology at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California.

Not all are who speak at this year’s REC are dissenters. Fr. Leo Patalinghug, who created a video opposing the HHS mandate, is speaking on “Food Is Love: A Eucharistic Theology for the Family.”  His talk will not be recorded.

As well, the new and known to be orthodox Archbishop of Los Angeles, José Gomez, will be participating in a number of events during the Congress. Archbishop Gomez, who replaced now retired Cardinal Mahony, has been at the helm of the very liberal diocese for only one year.

Contact information:
Most Reverend José H. Gomez
Office of the Archbishop of Los Angeles
3424 Wilshire Boulevard, 5th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2241
Phone: (213) 637-7534
FAX: (213) 637-6510
info@la-archdiocese.org

Office of Media Relations
(213) 637-7215
(213) 216-8395
mediarelations@la-archdiocese.org

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See Composing Effective Communications in Response to LifeSiteNews Reports


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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkin’s statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

“It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities,” Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. “Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

“While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born,” she said. “Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection.”

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, “People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society.”

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the “difficult and confusing time” when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience “negative attitudes.”

“What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information,” the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the hurch they attend in New Jersey, “because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 


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Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that 'it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.' Shutterstock
Steve Weatherbe

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Pope Francis: steps must be taken to halt ‘unjust aggressor’ in Iraq

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Pope Francis and his emissary to Iraq’s persecuted non-Muslim minorities, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, have both called on the United Nations to act in concert to protect Iraqis Christian and Yazidi minorities from the radical Islamic forces of ISIS.

Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that “it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.”

He added, however, that “halt” does not mean to “bomb” and lamented “how many times with the excuse of halting the unjust aggressor…have powerful nations taken possession of peoples and waged a war of conquest!”

He also cautioned that no single nation could determine the right measures. Any intervention must be multilateral and preferably by the United Nations, he said.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Foloni, who is visiting Iraq on behalf of Pope Francis, issued a joint statement this week with Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako and the Iraqi bishops that urged the international community to “liberate the villages and other places that have been occupied as soon as possible and with a permanent result.”

The statement also urged efforts to “assure that there is international protection for these villages and so to encourage these families to go back to their homes and to continue to live a normal life in security and peace.”

Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Vatican nuncio to Iraq, was also asked by Vatican Radio earlier this month about the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

“This is something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State] could not be stopped,” the archbishop said. 

Although Pope Francis’ own remarks about an intervention in the war-torn country were carefully guarded, Catholic commentator Robert Spencer, author of such bestselling exposes of Islam as “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion,” told LifeSiteNews he believes the pope was clearly calling for an “armed intervention, though a very limited one.”  

“Only a fool would think there is another way to stop an ‘unjust aggressor,’” he said.

Spencer expressed concerns that both Francis and Pope John Paul II before him have both referred to Islam a “religion of peace,” which Spencer says is “completely false.” However, he suggested that Francis’ remarks calling for action in Iraq are a sign of a more realistic attitude towards Islam.   

On this, Spencer would likely have the support of Amel Nona, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, who issued a letter last week warning the West in stark terms about the encroaching threat of Islam.

“Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer,” Nona warned. “Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here.

“You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles,” he said

“You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.”


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'Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses,' said Dawkins. 'They are aborted.' Shutterstock
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Richard Dawkins: it’s ‘immoral’ NOT to abort babies with Down syndrome

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By Dustin Siggins

In a bizarre rant on Twitter earlier today, atheist Richard Dawkins wrote that choosing not to abort a child with Down Syndrome would be "immoral."

The conversation started when Dawkins tweeted that "Ireland is a civilised country except in this 1 area." The area was abortion, which until last year was illegal in all cases.

A Twitter user then asked Dawkins if "994 human beings with Down's Syndrome [having been] deliberately killed before birth in England and Wales in 2012" was "civilised."

Dawkins replied "yes, it is very civilised. These are fetuses, diagnosed before they have human feelings."

Later, Dawkins said that "the question is not ‘is it 'human'?’ but ‘can it SUFFER?’"

In perhaps the most shocking moment, one Twitter user wrote that he or she "honestly [doesn't] know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down Syndrome. Real ethical dilemma."

Dawkins advised the writer to "abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice."

According to Dawkins, the issue of who should be born comes down to a calculation based upon possible suffering. "Yes. Suffering should be avoided. [The abortion] cause[s] no suffering. Reduce suffering wherever you can."

Later, however, he said that people on the autism spectrum "have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. [Down Syndrome] not enhanced."

When Dawkins received some blowback from Twitter followers, he replied: "Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses. They are aborted."

It is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome said they were "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child. 

A number of Dawkins' statements in the Twitter thread about fetal development are at odds with scientific realities. For example, it is well-established that 20 weeks into a pregnancy, unborn children can feel pain. Likewise, unborn children have emotional reactions to external stimuli -- such as a mother's stress levels -- months before being born. 

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