Hilary White

Pope to French bishops: ‘Religious ignorance…one of the gravest problems of our time’

Hilary White
Hilary White
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ROME, December 6, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ignorance of the Christ and His teachings have created an inability to understand the history, culture, and artistic heritage of European people, Pope Benedict XVI told a group of visiting French bishops on November 30th. This ignorance, which has been identified as a leading stumbling block by pro-life and pro-family advocates in Europe, leaves Europeans unable “to recognize themselves as heirs to this tradition,” which has shaped European society.

It is, moreover, a “double ignorance” both of Jesus Christ Himself, and about the “sublimity of his teachings, their universal and permanent value in the quest for the meaning of life and happiness.” Pope Benedict encouraged the laity to study theology, calling it a source of “wisdom, joy and wonder” not restricted to priests and seminarians.

With the French Socialist government promising to create “gay marriage” before next year, the pope in his addresses this year to visiting French bishops has focused on the conflict between the two warring conceptions of the family: the modern secularist notion that it can be any combination of persons living together in a sexual relationship and the traditional Judeo-Christian concept that it is founded in the biological and ontological nature of human anthropology.

In such debates, he said, “the voice of the Church must make itself heard ceaselessly and with determination.”

“The harmony between faith and reason gives you special reassurance,” he said. “The message of Christ and His Church is not merely a religious identity that demands to be respected as such; it carries also the wisdom that permits us to provide concrete answers to the pressing and sometimes troubling questions of our times.”

“There is also the enormous challenge of living in a society which does not always share the teachings of Christ and at times ridicules and marginalizes the Church in the attempt to confine her to an exclusively private sphere. To face these immense challenges, the Church needs credible witnesses,” the pope said.

In September, the pope told another group of French bishops, “The family is threatened by a conception of human nature that is proven to be faulty.”

“Defending the family and life in society is prophetic and anything but regressive. Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is harmful to them will in fact be injurious to society itself.”

Pope Benedict’s November 30th address was the last of a series of three “ad limina” visits from the bishops of France in the last year. In it, the pope also noted the growth of a renewal movement in France and elsewhere in “encouraging…signs of vitality and involvement of the laity in French society.”

The necessary renewal of the Catholic faith, the pope said, must involve the renewal of family and parish life, and he challenged the bishops to act boldly in the context of a larger culture of “relativism and hedonism.”

Benedict called on the French bishops to consider more seriously the looming threat of a priestless Church and do more to promote vocations to the priesthood within a context of fidelity to the Church’s magisterium. He highlighted the importance of the liturgical celebration and its “contribution to the civilizing work” of the Church, emphasizing how “respect for its established norms expresses love and fidelity to the faith of the Church.”

“The beauty of her celebrations, far more than innovations and subjective adjustments, constitutes a durable and effective form of evangelization.”

Observers have long noted that the renewal in Catholic France is happening largely on the “traditional” end, with a growing number of new seminarians interested in learning and promoting the pre-1960s version of the Church’s liturgical customs and devotions. They are also notable for their enthusiasm for a more rigorously orthodox approach to the Church’s moral teachings.

Currently the numbers paint a grim picture for the future of the Church. In 1966, just after the close of the Second Vatican Council, there were 4,536 seminarians in France. In 2011, the total number of French seminarians is down to 710, a decline of 85 percent and the lowest numbers since the French Revolution.

This year the French bishops announced that only 96 diocesan priests would be ordained, down from 109 the previous year, representing an 11 per cent drop. Meanwhile, roughly 800 French diocesan priests retire or die every year.

Of the remaining seminarians, however, approximately one third are formally attached to one of the communities set up to accommodate the more traditional forms of liturgy and practice.

Joseph Meaney, a French citizen and the Director of International Coordination at Human Life International’s Rome office, told LifeSiteNews.com that the situation in France is at a critical juncture and that sooner or later the country once called the “eldest daughter of the Church” will again be declared “mission territory.”

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

“There are many dioceses which will literally not have enough priests to serve their territories,” Meaney said. “There will be a need to send in missionaries from other countries that are French speaking, which means mostly African countries.”

“There are priests available around the Church,” he said, but in recent decades there has been a strong antipathy among the French episcopate to allowing priests from other countries to come in. “Generally, there’s an ideological position there. They only wanted people with a certain background, a certain pastoral practice that fit with their viewpoints, usually a fairly liberal one. So they weren’t really open to allowing other groups in.”

“That obviously is going to have to change,” Meaney said. He noted the growing acceptance by several French bishops who have started allowing in new congregations who hold a more traditional mindset.

But the French Church has an uphill climb with France continuing to be “heavily influenced” by secularism, Meaney added. The work of the pro-life movement in France face great obstacles created by the “very militant” separation of Church and state, called laïcité, as distinct from other European countries—a holdover, he said, of the French Revolution.

The government of France, he said, “sees itself as almost antagonistic” towards the Church. Whether a “right-wing or left-wing government, the Church is not allowed much social space in France.” Bishops making any public comment are open to harsh criticism for breaching the rules of laïcité.

As the French population continues to drop its participation in Catholic life, Meaney said, the room for the Church to operate becomes even more restricted. The fact that most of the French population was Catholic was “all that kept the government from doing even more than they are now,” Meaney said.

“But now, fewer and fewer people attend Mass and receive the sacraments and the fear by government of offending the large majority of the Catholic population goes down as well.” It is clear, he said, that the situation as it is cannot continue in France. “Something in either direction is going to give.”

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Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 7, 2014. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
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Rand Paul backs use of abortion-inducing drug as ‘birth control’

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By Ben Johnson

Rand Paul has said he had no objection to using the morning after pill as a form of “birth control.”

The junior U.S. senator from Kentucky and likely 2016 presidential hopeful responded to a question on the topic yesterday at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

A woman asked, “If life starts at conception, should medicine that prevents conception like Plan B be legal?"

Paul replied, "I am not opposed to birth control, That's basically what Plan B is.”

“Plan B is taking two birth control pills in the morning and two in the evening, and I am not opposed to that,” he continued.

After the event, he seemed to tie his remarks to the Republican plan to embrace birth control on the campaign stump. "Plan B is taking birth control,” he elaborated. “I am not against birth control, and I don't know many Republicans who would be indicating that they are against birth control.”

But abundant evidence shows Plan B may work to prevent a newly conceived baby from implanting in the uterus, causing an early abortion.

As a doctor, "Rand Paul likely knows that the most likely effect of the high-dose Levonorgestrel-only contraceptive 'Plan B' is abortifacient,” Krista Thomas, communications manager of Human Life International (HLI) told LifeSiteNews. “Though it also has potential effects of thickening of the cervical mucus and prevention of ovulation, let’s face it, this drug is designed to be taken after sex, so the likelihood of these effects stopping pregnancy is very low.”

“Early abortions are its primary, and perhaps only, effect,” she said.

One of the world's leading authorities on the morning after pill – Dr. James Trussell, the director of Princeton’s Office of Population Research – has said that women must be told of the potential for abortion as part of ethical treatment. “To make an informed choice, women must know that [emergency contraceptive pills]…prevent pregnancy primarily by delaying or inhibiting ovulation and inhibiting fertilization, but may at times inhibit implantation of a fertilized egg in the endometrium,” he wrote.

That was further confirmed by a 2014 report from the Charlotte Lozier Institute that found all forms of emergency contraception, as well as the IUD, can cause an early abortion.

Instead, Thomas said the abortion industry has muddied the waters about the impact and effect of so-called “emergency contraception,” like Plan B.

“The abortion industry giants including Planned Parenthood have done an incredible job misrepresenting what these hormonal contraceptive devices and drugs really do to unborn babies at their earliest stage, and also how destructive these are for women’s health,” she told LifeSiteNews.

Paul's comments in the early Republican primary state came just days after a poor showing in the annual Values Voters Summit straw poll, where Paul tied for fifth place with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

But Thomas told LifeSiteNews that embracing abortion-inducing drugs is wrong morally and politically.

“It would probably be a better long term strategy for those who feel threatened by the nonsensical 'war on women' charge to go on offense and ask why” the abortion lobby is so “condescending towards women and uncaring about their health.”

Millions of women, she said, “really don’t appreciate being reduced to” the single issues of abortion and contraception access, “and we are not being heard from right now.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

Paul worked with the National Pro-Life Alliance to introduce the Life at Conception Act into the Senate last March. Later that month, he appeared to foresee “thousands of exceptions” to any pro-life law that would pass, a statement his office later clarified with LifeSiteNews.

He has also said that traditional marriage is not a defining issue for Republicans, and members of the GOP can “agree to disagree.”

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Cancer-stricken mother foregoes lifesaving treatment to save her unborn daughter (Video)

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By Ben Johnson
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Ashley Bridges seemed to be living a dream when she met her fiance, Jonathon, and he proposed last fall. The couple soon learned they would be having a baby. Ashley's only complaint was persistent knee pain that got worse as time went on.

Then she got the news that would change her life: At 10 weeks pregnant, she learned she had a three centimeter tumor in her femur that would require surgery and chemotherapy.

The treatment, she was told, would require an abortion.

“There’s no way I could kill a healthy baby because I’m sick,” Bridges, 24, told the Los Angeles CBS affiliate KCAL.

Doctors found the tumor grew to 10 centimeters within two months, yet Bridges refused a full course of treatment to give her baby – whom she learned was a girl – the best chance at survival. She had a knee replacement to take out the tumor, which filled four inches of her femur.

At eight months, her doctors insisted she deliver her girl and begin chemotherapy. “That’s basically when they told me that it was terminal,” she said.

Doctors gave her one year to live, news that crushed her five-year-old son, Braiden.

But her daughter, Paisley, was born safe and healthy.

The whole family helps out in their Wildomar, California, home. Jonathon, who is in the military, works nights so he can be home with the child during the day.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

“The thought that I’m not going to see her grow up is really hard,” Ashley said.

Still, she has no regrets. “Maybe I’m not supposed to be here and she is,” she added.

Ashley began aggressive treatment, lost her hair, but seems to have had some success in stopping the spread of the cancer. She said that on September 27 her doctor told her that her cancer “hasn't spread to my legs like we thought and the [tumors] in my head haven't grown and the one that was causing me to blind seems completely gone. The ones in my hips and lower spine have grown so little there really isn't a difference!!!!”

“I'm crying, I'm so happy,” she wrote. “Thank God.”

The family has a GiveForward account to help cover their expenses. Already, she has raised $32,000 – some $12,000 more than her goal. You may donate here.

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I'm not afraid of being on the “wrong side of history” on gay “marriage”; I've been there before. I spent the first part of my life being told that the global triumph of Communism was “inevitable.”
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I make no apologies for being on ‘the wrong side of history’

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By Ben Johnson

“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

Among the stratagems employed by the cultural Left to discourage, dispirit, and dissuade the plurality of culturally sane Americans from opposing same-sex “marriage” is the all-encompassing insistence that the fight has already been lost. The phrase of choice is that proponents of traditional marriage are on “the wrong side of history.”

With at least 5,000 years of Western civilization normalizing monogamous heterosexual marriage, and the American experiment with redefining marriage a mere 10 years old, it certainly seems like I'm on the right side of history – the long one...the one authenticated by every society that produced human flourishing. 

But frankly, I'm not afraid of being on the “wrong side of history”; I've been there before.

I spent the first part of my life being told that the global triumph of Communism was “inevitable.”

According to Marxist apologists, the irreversible tide of Marxism was an historic and “scientific” reality. Karl Marx had devised a theory known as “Dialectical Materialism,” which claimed that all societies in history followed a predictable pattern resulting from the conflict between exploited workers (the proletariat) and their exploiters (the bourgeoisie). This interaction transformed primitive societies into feudal ones, then into capitalist nations, and ultimately, into communist utopias. The theory “proved” that mankind would evolve into the New Soviet Man.

This is the genesis of the political term “progressive” – progressives embraced policies that would “progress” society toward this evolutionary inevitability. Those who opposed socialism were branded “reactionaries” bitterly clinging to the past, who rejected modernity and wanted to “turn back the clock.” (Sound familiar?)

This historical arrogance was expressed in the 1961 Draft Platform of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which said, “[T]he epoch-making turn of mankind from capitalism to socialism, initiated by the October Revolution, is a natural result of the development of society...and it will be taken sooner or later by all peoples.”

So fervently did all Western intellectuals believe this idea that, when he exposed a Communist spy ring in 1948, Whittaker Chambers told Congress, “I know that I am leaving the winning side for the losing side, but it is better to die on the losing side than to live under Communism.”

Who could argue? Within one generation, Communism went from a beachhead in one nation to a worldwide empire of 17 established socialist nations encompassing more than one-third of the world's population. Marxists ruled national capitals from North Korea to Nicaragua and Vietnam to Zimbabwe, with Communist armies fighting from Chile to Guatemala.

In the 1980s, Marxist insurgencies seemed destined to sweep norte through Central America to the very borders of the United States. This view seeped into popular culture through such dystopian productions as Red Dawn, Invasion USA, and Amerika, which aired just two years before the Berlin Wall was torn down.

Until the very end, Communism's victory, its crushing and obliteration of all opposition, seemed certain.

The threat posed by Communism dwarfed anything presented by abortion, redefining marriage, and any other social issue combined. Marxism did not squeeze public prayer out of schools; it formally taught atheism and socialist ideology to children, dynamited churches, and murdered anyone who publicly proclaimed the existence of a God higher than the State. It did not seek to redefine marriage but to abolish the family, with all women held in common and all children raised by the State. Its promotion of abortion led to the greatest death toll of unborn children in world history. It did not seize tax files or intercept the e-mails of its political opponents; its all-seeing totalitarian apparatus herded them into forced labor camps where death was preferable to unthinkable torture. One of its former fellow-travellers, George Orwell, described a Communist future as “a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

Those condemned to live under its reign of terror prevailed only because of their determination never to give up, their firm resolution to hold the line against the Bolsheviks wherever possible, and their tenacity in keeping their faith and the truth alive amongst themselves, especially through the samizdat press.

At the core of Communism's failure was the fact that it was built on a lie that fewer and fewer people were willing to humor, even under threat of execution. The toppling and killing of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu began during one of his interminable speeches, when one woman in the crowd yelled out, “Liar!” Soon, the crowd picked up the chant and chased him from power, ultimately sending him to his eternal reward.

Still, the tactic of presenting your extremist version of reality as inevitable – and ruthlessly crushing all opposition – won much of the world for much of the Twentieth Century. No sooner were these assertions disproved than were the exact same terms and arguments transferred from the economic realm into the cultural front. Communists learned that human beings won't give up their creature comforts for a workers' paradise – but they will cling to their sexual indulgences unto the death. They saw they could use this weakness to undermine the family, the Church, and any other intermediary institution that could stop the onslaught of the mammoth State.

Thus, their mantra that cultural devolution is “inevitable.” Their message to Christians is a mockery of a hymn: “The Strife is O'er, the Battle Lost.”

They are right, in a sense; history is rushing to its predetermined conclusion. That is the eternal reign of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, thronged by His saints and angels who shall sing His endless praises forever. First, the world must pass through the dark night brought on by the Fall, the intense warfare between love and hate, and every act of cruelty, cupidity, and inhumanity preceding the Parousia.

The “progressives” are right that they are part of a grand historical drama but 180-degrees wrong about its ultimate outcome. They are progressing toward futility, destruction, and perdition.

But before Christ the King reigns, darkness must reach its apogee.

It may be that in the Left's cultural conquest of marriage, we are closer to 1917 than 1989, that a cocksure, opaque, malicious spirit is inexorably advancing rather than retreating. Those who defend the superiority of the natural family face social, economic, and (increasingly) legal censure. We have only the truth of science, human development, and children's social well-being on our side. And we must never tire of repeating it, whatever the outcome. But it is not hard to imagine that the worst is yet before us.

Where we stand in the mystery of iniquity and redemption is known only to their Master. But we may take to heart the words of the famed dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who lived to see the fall of the Gulag Archipelago that once imprisoned him: “One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world.” And the words of another, greater Authority: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

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