Ben Johnson

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Pro-life leaders say Pope Francis will inspire the world to 'promote the culture of life'

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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Updated at 6:15 a.m. EST on March 14 to add comments from Charmaine Yoest.

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Members of the pro-life and pro-family community say they are overjoyed at the selection of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the new Pope of the Roman Catholic Chuch.

As LifeSiteNews reported in 2007, the new pope, Francis, has called abortion the “death penalty” for the unborn. He has also taken a strong stance in favor of the natural family in Argentina. He called gay marriage “a destructive pretension against the plan of God" and “a machination of the Father of Lies." At the same time, in a story that is being much-repeated today, Pope Francis demonstrated his compassion when he visited a hospice on Holy Thursday where he kissed and washed the feet of 12 patients suffering from AIDS, a disease that is often associated with homosexuality.

That legacy heartened pro-life and pro-family activists across the country.

“During him time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio was a stalwart defender of the sanctity of all innocent human life,” Michael New of National Review told LifeSiteNews.com. “On September 1, 2009 – the feast day of St. Raimondo Nonnato, the patron of expectant mothers and the unborn – Cardinal Bergoglio celebrated Mass in Buenos Aires. He encouraged attendees to defend life from conception to its natural end. He also added that to really promote the culture of life means also supporting the existence of these unborn children, in all phases of their childhood.”

“I pray that Pope Francis I inspires, not only Catholics, but people of all faiths to promote and defend the culture of life,” New said.

EWTN radio's Al Kresta told LifeSiteNews.com that Pope Francis' “extraordinary theological training” will allow him to serve as “a theologian in the best sense of the word.”

Pope Francis “has had to live through a series of conflicts within the Jesuit order over the last generation,” Kresta noted. “He will model for us a way of peace and a way of reconciliation, not through compromise, but he'll pursue Catholic reconciliation along the lines of sacrifice as Francis did.”

His choice of the name Francis – after St. Francis of Assissi – rang a hopeful chord in many of the faithful.

“We now welcome Pope Francis I, who we pray to God follows in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi,” Judie Brown, president of American Life League and three-time appointee to the Pontifical Academy for Life, said. “Recall that Christ said to St. Francis, 'Rebuild my Church!' This is the very challenge that our new Pope will have to confront.”

“No more talk of compromise on questions of abortion, contraception, homosexuality or euthanasia. No more tolerance for those who claim to be Catholic while supporting vile acts such as abortion,” she said. “Please join me in thanking God for our new Pope. Let us pray without ceasing for him.”

Many hope that reform will begin with educational institutions run by his own Society of Jesus.

“The fact that God has provided a Jesuit as our new Holy Father has great significance for many Catholics, who have been hoping and praying that the New Evangelization will bring about the renewal of the Society of Jesus and its many schools and colleges,” Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, said. “For decades, Jesuit universities in the United States have been hotbeds of dissent, with many professors displaying great disrespect for the Vatican and the bishop.”

“We trust that he will continue the renewal of fidelity and Catholic identity in Catholic education, which Pope Benedict said was 'the most urgent internal challenge' facing the Church in the United States,” Reilly added. “In your charity, please pray for the renewal of Catholic education and for our new Holy Father, Pope Francis!”

As an Argentine Cardinal, the new pope sometimes clashed with political authorities – and sometimes his fellow priests, as one who distanced himself from those who taught liberation theology, a baptized Marxism dressed up in Christian terminology. Pope John Paul II strongly condemned its spread.

“Pope Francis is a man of great spirituality who is known for his commitment to doctrinal orthodoxy as well as for his simplicity of life,” Fr. Robert Sirico, president of The Acton Institute, said. “Like Benedict XVI, he combines concern for the poor with an insistence that it’s not the Church’s responsibility to be a political actor or to prescribe precise solutions to economic problems. In that regard, he’s a model for all Catholic bishops and clergy throughout the world.”

The years he spent clashing with Argentine authorities will help combat the Obama administration and, perhaps, reform the sometimes inattentive U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, according to Richard Viguerie, a practicing Catholic and the proprietor of ConservativeHQ.com.

As a bishop and cardinal in his home country, the new pope “provided the great moral compass that society must have when temporary political expediency points a nation or a people in the wrong direction,” Viguerie said. “Such moral leadership and courage will inject much-needed backbone into the bishops, priests, and lay-leaders here in the United States, where the Church has too often adopted the trends and habits of a secular amoral society.”

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League believes, far from diminishing his influence, “his strong embrace of core moral principles, especially as they touch on sexual matters, adds to his appeal.”

Those principles include an unqualified support of life from conception to natural death, causes for which the Vatican has become the world's leading advocate.

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"The pro-life movement owes a debt of gratitude to the Catholic Church for its leadership and on-going commitment to building a world in which everyone is welcomed in life and protected in law," said Dr. Charmaine Yoest. "Americans United for Life extends our sincere congratulations to our Catholic friends as they prepare to welcome Pope Francis I as their new leader.”

“Priests for Life is delighted at the selection of Pope Francis I and we are assured that the sanctity of all human life will be a top priority for this Pope, as it has been for his predecessors,” said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. “We look forward to working under the leadership of the new pope to advance the culture of life."

Bryan Kemper, Youth Outreach Director for Priests for Life, said he and the young Catholics he meets everyday are “excited for his leadership and committed to continuing to share the message of life that is so central to our Church."

The media have made much that the pope hails from Latin America. Bergoglio, who is of Italian descent, has become a potent figure for the Global South and a reminder that papal leadership extends to every corner of the world.

“The inspired selection of Pope Francis is most welcome and exciting news as we face increasing pressure in Latin America from radical forces intent on destroying the culture of life,” Marie Smith, director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, said. “Responses from contacts in Argentina comment on the new Pope’s simplicity of style, attention to his role as pastor, and focus on the social issues that challenge the region and the world today. We look forward to his leadership of the Church.”

Others were simply impressed with the character of the man who has been chosen to lead the world's one billion Roman Catholics.

“We were struck by his humility in such an august moment, especially when he asked all of us to ask the Lord to bless him before he imparted his first papal blessing upon the Church and the world,” Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, said. “We will certainly continue praying for him, asking that the Lord grant him peace and wisdom, strength and courage, and give him every grace necessary to guide the Church during this time."

Even non-Catholics extended their thanks. Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, said, “Congratulations to my Catholic friends on the election of Pope Francis. I like the descriptions that I am hearing: especially, that he is an 'authentic' Christian who holds to the foundations of the faith and favors 'simplicity' in the mode of Mother Teresa.”

Obviously, the pope's primary duty is acting as chief shepherd of the Roman Catholic Church. The Remnant newspaper noted that, while it is not certain of his disposition toward the Traditional Latin Mass, “the Institute of the Good Shepherd has a house in his diocese.”

Kresta told LifeSiteNews that he believes the new pope will “make a supreme effort to present the Catholic Faith in its totality, in its fullness, to the world.”

“It won't be liberal; it won't be conservative. It won't be left-wing; it won't be right-wing. It won't be just Social Justice; it won't be just doctrine. It won't be just East or West,” he said.

While Pope Francis “believes everything the Catechism teaches," Kresta said he will “adorn the doctrine and make sure that people understand that the faith is not just believing in a set of propositions, but it's also the reception of a new light.”

“This man lives what he believes,” he said.


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Émile Bayard's classic illustration of Cosette in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.
Anthony Esolen Anthony Esolen Follow Anthony

Tracts and sermons alone won’t form pro-life children. Here’s what will.

Anthony Esolen Anthony Esolen Follow Anthony
By Anthony Esolen

What is remarkable in our age is not that half of our citizens believe it is wrong to kill the child in the womb, the child whose existence, except in the rare case of rape, is owing to our own voluntary actions.  That would be like congratulating ourselves for believing that it's wrong to steal someone's car, to lie under oath to hurt an enemy, to throw our aged parents into the street, or to desecrate churches.  Where is the great moral insight?  What's remarkable instead is that half of us believe it is all right to snuff out the life of that child – because nothing must be allowed to interfere with our “right” to pursue pleasure, as we use the child-making thing as a sweating-off spa on our way to money, prestige, a five-bathroom mansion for two, a tenured chair in Women's Studies, the mayoralty of Camden, another year of nights out on the town, whatever.

How have we come to this pass?  Our imaginations are stunted or diseased, that's how.
 Let churchgoers beware.  You cannot spread pro-life icing on a cake made of flour and rat poison.  Our children meet with rat poison everywhere.  Do they watch Friends on television, that un-funny amoral “comedy” about nihilist young urbanites trading depressions in the mattress with one another?  Rat poison.  Do they watch movies like – well, the moronic Titanic, wherein a shrewish girl and a pouty boy fornicate before they are swallowed by the deep blue sea?  Rat poison.  Do their school teachers feed them such exalted lyric poetry as that of Sylvia Plath, imagining what it would be like to smash her sleeping husband's head like a rotten pumpkin?  Or the bogus Laramie Project, making a hero out of a deeply disturbed young man, killed in a meth deal?  Or Toni Morrison's maudlin obsessions with race and adultery?  Is it an endless cafeteria of ghouls, vampires, girl-murderers – Lord of the Flies, without the severe moral imagination and the talent of William Golding?  Lord of the Flies, Lady of the Flies, Cheerleaders of the Flies, Lifeguard of the Flies, Mr. Goodbar of the Flies, Fight Club of the Flies, Hunger of the Flies?  Rat poison, with that peculiar character of rat poison, that the more the critter consumes, the thirstier it grows.  Vice is the addiction that mimics the habit of virtue.  One hour a week on Sunday does not flush out the strychnine.  Theology lessons are band-aids when your arteries are porous inside.  The forming of a moral imagination is not something additional in the education of a child.  It is the education of a child. 

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Your child sees a commercial for Planned Predators.  The commercial baldly states that it doesn't matter who your “partners” are, how many you have, or what you do – because you are the only one who has any say in the matter, and nobody has the right to judge you.  This is not the morality of a cad or a tramp.  Cads and tramps have attacks of conscience.  It is the bland oh-so-self-assured anti-morality of a demon.  It is one hundred proof grain stupidity.  It is distilled evil.  Now, we want to raise children who will do more than say, “I don't agree with that.”  Wonderful enlightenment!  We want to raise children who would look upon anyone who uttered such a thing as they would look upon someone who would fish his food out of a septic tank: incomprehensible, base, inhuman, insane.  That's the negative.  Let me give the positive.  We want to raise children who will understand and cherish the virtues of love and purity.  Those virtues must not remain mere terms or notions.  We must clothe them with flesh and blood.  Consider the following scene from Victor Hugo's masterpiece, Les Miserables.  Two pure young people, Marius and Cosette, have long beheld one another from a distance.  They have fallen in love, and finally, after many months and much seeking, the youth and the maiden meet and speak.  Here is how Hugo describes what they do every evening:

Throughout the month of May . . . in that poor, wild garden, under that shrubbery each day more perfumed and dense, two human beings composed of every chastity and every innocence, overflowing with all the felicities of Heaven, closer to archangels than men, pure, honest, intoxicated, radiant, glowed for each other in the darkness.  It seemed to Cosette that Marius had a crown, and to Marius that Cosette had a halo.  They touched, they gazed at each other, they clasped hands, they pressed close together; but there was a distance they did not pass.  Not that they respected it; they were ignorant of it.  Marius felt a barrier, Cosette's purity, and Cosette had a support, Marius' loyalty.  The first kiss was also the last.  Since then, Marius had not gone beyond touching Cosette's hand, or her scarf, or her curls, with his lips.  Cosette was to him a perfume, and not a woman.  He breathed her.  She refused nothing and he asked nothing.  Cosette was happy, and Marius was satisfied.  They were living in that ravishing condition that might be called the dazzling of one soul by another.  It was that ineffable first embrace of two virginities within the ideal.

Victor Hugo was a man well acquainted with the squalor of the streets, and the wicked things that people do to themselves and one another.  His blood ran hot, not cold – hot with indignation against the wickedness, and hot with greathearted love for what is noblest in man; with what he would call the work of God in man.  Our purveyors of rat poison have not witnessed one hundredth of the miseries and the sins that he witnessed!  But they turn our children's vision to what is dark and dead, and he raises our eyes to the everlasting hills, whence cometh our help.
 We want to raise boys like Marius and girls like Cosette.  We cannot do it with tracts in church teaching and a sermon on Sunday, as needful as those things are.  They may give us the moral, but they do not nourish the imagination.  Without story, without flesh and blood, they flare in the ear but do not ring in the conscience.  Hence the need for art and song, for stories and poetry.  Jesus taught in parables.  These are not just instruments.  They are of the essence.


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Medical staff arrested in India after accidentally aborting baby at 8 months

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

A doctor and a nurse at a prominent private hospital in India have been arrested after they allegedly administered abortion drugs to a eight-months pregnant woman accidentally, resulting in the death of her unborn child.

"We have immediately registered a case and arrested the doctor, whose negligent act has caused this," said South Jammu Superintendent of Police Rahul Malik, according to the Hindustan Times.

The woman's husband, Rakesh Sharma, told the paper that the doctor mistook Shruti Sharma for another patient who was scheduled for an abortion at the JK Medicity Hospital in Jammu on Friday afternoon.

Shruti had gone to the hospital after her gynecologist advised a routine medical examination to safeguard her and her baby's health.

Rakesh alleged that the doctor gave his wife the abortion pills without consulting her medical records. “Doctors and paramedical staff instead of administering glucose, gave her abortion medicine, which was actually meant for another patient,” he said.

"It is the worst case of negligence. I feel strongly that such hospitals should be closed. If this has happened to me today, tomorrow it can happen to any body else," Rakesh said.

While the JK Medicity's administration said it has launched an inquiry into the incident, a report from the Jagran Post stated that the district government has revoked the hospital's license.

"Jammu and Kashmir Government has ordered sealing of the private clinic after suspension of its license to operate in the wake of the incident," said Minister for Health and Medical Education Taj Mohiuddin according to the report.

National media have reported that the incident has brought illegal abortion practices in India to the attention of both the public and government officials.

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According to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, abortion is legal in India up to 20 weeks. However, the opinion of a second doctor is required if the pregnancy is past its 12th week, and abortion-inducing drugs such as mifepristone and misoprostol are allowed only by prescription up until the seventh week of pregnancy.

Moreover, abortions can be performed only in government licensed medical institutions by registered abortionists.

Indian Express reported that the accused in the incident, Dr. Amarjeet Singh, practices ayurvedic medicine (traditional Hindu medicine) and is "unsuitable for carrying out abortions."

A video posted by IndiaTV shows the parents surrounded by family members and relatives at a protest outside the JK Medicity hospital where the group is demanding punishment for those involved in the death of the child.


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Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

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News editor fired for criticizing ‘gay Bible’, files complaint

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By Kirsten Anderson

The former editor-in-chief of Iowa’s Newton Daily News has filed a religious discrimination complaint after he was fired over a post on his private blog criticizing the pro-gay Queen James Bible.

The Bible revision was produced by homosexual activists who claim to have edited the eight most commonly cited verses against homosexual behavior “in a way that makes homophobic interpretations impossible.”

On his private blog, which has since been deactivated, Bob Eschliman wrote in April that “the LGBTQXYZ crowd and the Gaystapo” are trying to reword the Bible “to make their sinful nature ‘right with God.’”

After public outcry from homosexual activists, Shaw Media, which owns the paper, fired him on May 6.

In a statement the day of his firing, Shaw Media President John Rung said Eschliman’s “airing of [his opinion] compromised the reputation of this newspaper and his ability to lead it.”

“There will be some who will criticize our action, and mistakenly cite Mr. Eschliman’s First Amendment rights as a reason he should continue on as editor of the Newton Daily News,” Rung said.  “As previously stated, he has a right to voice his opinion. And we have a right to select an editor who we believe best represents our company and best serves the interests of our readers.”

Rung said the company has a duty “to advocate for the communities we serve” and that “to be effective advocates, we must be able to represent the entire community fairly.”

Eschliman, who has been writing professionally since 1998 and became editor-in-chief of the Newton Daily News in 2012, says that the company was aware of his personal blog when he was hired and never indicated it would be a problem for him to continue sharing his personal political and religious views.

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In his religious discrimination complaint against the company, filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), he says that he believes he was singled out for termination because of his Christian views concerning homosexuality and same-sex “marriage.”

“As a lifelong writer, I have maintained a personal blog on the Internet with some personal thoughts and writings,” Eschliman wrote. “Newton Daily News, my employer, never had a policy prohibiting personal blogging, Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media. In fact, my employer encouraged us to engage in social media on a personal level and I am aware of several employees of Newton Daily News who continue to blog and are still employed with Shaw Media.”

“There is no question that I was fired for holding and talking about my sincerely held religious beliefs on my personal blog during my off-duty time from the comfort of my own home,” Eschliman wrote. “Shaw Media directly discriminated against me because of my religious beliefs and my identity as an evangelical Christian who believes in Holy Scripture and the Biblical view of marriage.

“Moreover, Shaw Media announced that not only were they firing me based upon my religious beliefs, but that they would not hire or allow anyone to work at Shaw Media who holds religious beliefs similar to mine, which would include an automatic denial of any accommodation of those who share my sincerely held religious beliefs,” he added.

Neither Shaw Media nor the Newton Daily News have been willing to provide further comment to the press on the matter, citing pending litigation.

Matthew Whitaker, an attorney with Liberty Institute who is assisting Eschliman with his complaint, said the law is on his client’s side.

“No one should be fired for simply expressing his religious beliefs,” Whitaker said in a statement. “In America, it is against the law to fire an employee for expressing a religious belief in public.  This kind of religious intolerance by an employer has no place in today’s welcoming workforce.”

According to Whitaker, if the EEOC rules in Eschliman’s favor, Shaw Media could be forced to give him back pay, front pay, and a monetary settlement.


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