John Westen

LifeSiteNews meets Pope Francis

John Westen
John Westen
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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


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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 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

Steve Weatherbe
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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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