Over a decade ago, LifeSiteNews co-founder Steve Jalsevac and I were surprised to learn that the Vatican makes use of LifeSiteNews.com’s news and information.  We learned this information directly from one of the participants at a high level Vatican meeting.

Since learning this we’ve made yearly or twice yearly trips to Rome to meet with various curial officials to share information and learn how best to help them advance the pro-life and pro-family cause.  On the most recent of these trips, earlier this month, I was even able to personally meet Pope Francis.

But before I tell you about that meeting, I want to tell you a little more about how this working relationship with leaders of the world’s largest religion has helped benefit pro-life activists all over the world.

To cite a couple of examples. LifeSiteNews has led the way in reporting on the troubling activities of some official Catholic charities which have funded many groups that were pro-abortion and offended Christian principles in other ways.  These reports and similar investigations by others led to a major revamping of the Catholic approach to charities that was directed by the Pope. 

First off, Pope Benedict issued his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, wherein he stated that, "Openness to life is at the centre of true development.”  After that came the famous Motu Proprio  ‘On the service of charity’ released in 2012 which ordered that charitable activities undertaken by the Catholic Church must never offend Catholic teaching. In a subsequent talk interpreting his own Motu Proprio the Pope said specifically, “We must exercise a critical vigilance and at times refuse funding and collaborations that, directly or indirectly, favour actions or projects that are at odds with Christian anthropology.”

And should anyone attempt to accuse the Vatican of being ‘all talk and no action’ on the matter, there was action indeed.  The head of the Rome-based umbrella group for all diocesan-linked Catholic charity groups – Caritas Internationalis – was not permitted to renew her leadership. Even though she complained to the press, her dismissal was not overturned and the Vatican’s move was vindicated when months later she was hired by a pro-abortion group.

On various occasions during the affair we were consulted by Vatican officials asking for additional evidence on such matters.

Another instance took place back in 2008 when there was a heated debate among Catholics about the permissibility of using the morning-after-pill in Catholic hospitals to administer to rape victims.  Several US states were insisting on such rape-treatment protocols at all hospitals – Catholic included. 

While there was an official Catholic teaching document prohibiting use of the morning-after-pill, that document did not speak of rape cases and so there was a question as to whether there could be an exception.  While in Rome I interviewed the leading authority in the Catholic Church on the matter, then-Bishop now-Cardinal Elio Sgreccia.  He confirmed that the prohibition on its use applied to cases of rape as well.

That exclusive interview was key for pro-life leaders back in America to have the needed ammunition to safeguard life even in difficult circumstances.  Judie Brown of American Life League later called me to let me know how providential that interview was for engaging with Bishops on the matter.

In the past few months, Vatican officials reached out to LifeSiteNews.com to help with the promotion of ‘Evangelium Vitae Day’, the June 15-16 commemoration of Pope John Paul II’s awesome pro-life encyclical known in English as ‘The Gospel of Life’.

Not only did we promote the celebration, Steve Jalsevac and I went to Rome to cover it and I was honored to be asked to play a role in the official celebration.  On behalf of LifeSiteNews.com, I was given the opportunity to meet with Pope Francis, and was asked to do the English-language prayers for the candlelight vigil and procession into St. Peter’s Square.

Meeting the Pope after the outdoor Sunday Mass, I was introduced as one of the founders of LifeSiteNews and the father of eight children. I showed him a photo of my family on my IPhone and asked him if he would bless them. He gladly did so and them commented with a laugh, “keep going”.

The power of working closely with faith leaders of all denominations has proven time and again to be a key ingredient to bringing about a Culture of Life, and of strengthening the family. 

Please help LifeSiteNews get there. Help us reach out to faith leaders around the globe with your generous donation today

There is a vacuum of strong faith leadership in many places today. However, with the Internet and this unique international news service we are able to broadcast the voices of the strong leaders to the rest of the world, to fill in the gaps, to provide that leadership and voice that is lacking.

Please make this happen with us. Support us today with as generous a gift as you can.

Pray for us my friends. These are tough times, yes, but they are exciting too. With great hardship comes great graces.  Christ never gives us anything that we can’t bear with His help!  So while the battle is heating up and life and family values are threatened like never before, the opportunities to spread faith and the truth are also more abundant than ever before.  Let’s go for it!!

God bless you,

John-Henry Westen
Co-Founder
LifeSiteNews.com