Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

‘Noisy’ pro-abort protest fails to disrupt London 40 Days for Life event with bishop

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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LONDON, April 2, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An attempt to disrupt a pro-life prayer vigil attended by a Catholic bishop in London Friday night failed as peaceful pro-lifers calmly carried on praying while abortion advocates tried to drown them out.

With pro-life activists becoming ever more effective recently, the UK’s abortion industry is resorting to increasingly aggressive tactics. Plans by the popular Catholic bishop Alan Hopes of Westminster to attend the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil in London Last Friday particularly incensed abortion advocates, who staged a “noisy” counter protest, promoted by the far-left Guardian newspaper.

The plan backlashed, however, as the publicity stirred up interest among pro-lifers, but failed to win equal enthusiasm from London’s abortion supporters. Attendees said that, despite claims by the Press Association, the pro-lifers far out numbered the abortion advocates, with several hundred pro-lifers showing up.

“The large number of people who attended the prayer vigil shows that increasing numbers are opposed to our society’s ‘culture of death’ and are horrified that in 2010 almost 190,000 abortions took place in England and Wales,” said Bishop Hopes.

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Paul Smeaton, 24, who works for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children and volunteers with the Catholic youth organization Juventutum London, attended the event and told LifeSiteNews.com that it was “both uplifting and a wake-up call.”

“It was uplifting and wonderful to be amongst so many people praying for an end to abortion. Uplifting because of the courage of Bishop Hopes in leading the vigil in the face of such hostility.

“But the aggression of the opposition served as a wake-up call and a reminder of the urgency of the pro-life cause,” he added.

The counter demonstration was organized by the ad hoc group Bloomsbury Pro-Choice Alliance, who said they wanted to show the “tiny but vocal” pro-life groups that there is a “pro-choice majority in this country”.

They accused groups like 40 Days for Life of “increasingly mimicking the tactics of hardline US groups,” that have largely succeeded in bringing out significant reductions in the number of abortions in the U.S., and the permanent closure of hundreds of abortion facilities around the country.

Of particular concern to BPAS was the possibility that women who are approached by pro-life people might change their minds and opt out of abortion. “If bishops are getting behind this then I can’t see how it’s morally justified especially when women have already made up their minds,” Abigail Fitzgibbon, policy manager for BPAS told media last month.

Bishop Hopes, however, praised such outcomes, saying that the vigil “has enabled some women considering an abortion to change their minds.

“Such a change of heart that leads to the saving of the life of an unborn child, is a demonstration of God’s grace – an outcome to be welcomed.”

Citing the work of pregnancy charity Good Counsel network, Bishop Hopes added, “It is also important that practical help and assistance is provided for women who decide against having an abortion.”

According to its charter, BPAS’s purpose is to advocate and to provide the means “to prevent or end unwanted pregnancies with contraception or by abortion.” As Britain’s busiest abortionist group, BPAS is responsible for the great majority of Britain’s 200,000 abortions each year, and 80 percent of the late term abortions.

Last year, BPAS almost succeeded in its lobbying attempt to change the legal definition of medical “treatment” to allow women to abort their children using the deadly RU-486 drug at home without medical supervision. More recently, the group issued a statement defending the practice, apparently widespread in their facilities, though technically illegal, of sex-selective abortions.

Paul Smeaton commented, “None of the aggression mustered outside the abortion centre on Friday can compare to the violence of abortion. The vigil on Friday showed the strength of the pro-life movement when roused into action, and our great potential to powerfully oppose this violence.

“It is crucial for the sake of unborn babies and mothers that we continue to increase in determination to end abortion in England.”

Many pro-life attendees wrote about the experience on their blogs, and most were heavily critical of the “sloppy” handling of the event by the mainstream press. One, who blogs under the title “A Reluctant Sinner,” singled out the Press Association coverage that claimed the numbers were even on both sides, with “about 500”.

“In this age of mounting concern over press irresponsibility, it is quite depressing to see a once respected agency publishing an article that doesn’t seem to have been checked or corroborated,” he wrote.

“In fact, it only took me a few minutes to discover that many acts of intimidation attributed to members of the pro-life vigil by the PA, had, in fact, been directed towards them by the pro-abortionists.”

A photograph taken of the counter-protest by Dr. Joseph Shaw, a professor of philosophy at Oxford University and head of the nation’s Latin Mass Society, shows a small group of protesters swamped, and almost surrounded by praying pro-life people.

Published on the LMS blog, the photo (see above) shows the pro-abortion protest on the far right of the large crowd of pro-life people.

Dr. Shaw commented on his photo, “See that line of white posters people are holding up? That marks the front edge of the counter demo. That’s where the heads of the ‘pro-choice’ crowd ends and the pro-lifers begin.”

Read more of Dr. Shaw’s comments on the Press Association coverage

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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