Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Same revolution, different day: US nun touts gay sex, liberal Catholics outraged at Vatican response

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, ITALY, June 8, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Once again, the various bodies of the “progressive” establishment in the U.S. Catholic Church have erupted in a frenzy of outraged condemnation at the Vatican office issuing a warning this week to an academic who wrote that homosexuality and masturbation are morally acceptable.

Sr. Margaret Farley, a former full professor of ethics at Yale University’s Divinity School, also happens to be a member of the Sisters of Mercy and an established leader in the Catholic Church’s own internal sexual revolution. Her 2006 book, Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, which asserts the moral acceptability of homosexuality, “gay marriage,” remarriage after divorce, and masturbation, has been the subject of an ongoing intervention by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2010.

On June 4, the revolution’s flagship paper, the National Catholic Reporter, published a notification Sr. Farley received from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and has been furiously fanning the flames since then. The NCR coverage has been picked up by dozens of blogs and several mainstream news outlets, all echoing the theme of the big, bad, retrograde Vatican attacking innocent defenders of freedom of thought and our new era of sexual freedom.

“Among the many errors and ambiguities in this book are its positions on masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage, and the problem of divorce and remarriage,” the CDF, which has been in discussion with Farley about the book since 2010, said in a four-page document. Farley’s position “contradicts,” “is opposed to,” and “does not conform to” authentic Catholic teaching.

While the Catholic Left thunders about the Vatican’s “war on women,” commentators in Rome have said that this is just another skirmish between the CDF and the elderly leadership of the liberal Catholic revolution in the U.S., who are growing increasingly furious that their rebellion has failed to triumph.

Foremost among the combatants in the civil war have been many members of women’s religious orders, nearly all overseen by the hard-Left feminist umbrella group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). One source told LifeSiteNews.com that the real problem is the long-standing “tolerance of liberals” by the Vatican, noting that the book had been published four years before it received any attention from the CDF.

The rebellion of the sisters, that started very publicly in the 1960s, has only lately been publicly acknowledged in Rome with the launching of the CDF’s doctrinal investigation of LCWR, a move that reportedly “stunned” LCWR, accustomed as it has become to decades of inaction from Rome. It has been noted that the furor over Sr. Farley is being manufactured by NCR at precisely the moment LCWR leadership produced their defiant response to the CDF’s decision last month to substantially reform the organization.

Among those fanning the flames is Charles Curran, the notorious priest who arguably launched the revolution in 1968. He wrote in NCR on Wednesday, “All have to recognize there is such a real crisis in the church today. But the crisis is not just a crisis in moral theology; it involves a crisis in the church as a whole and in our very understanding of the Catholic church.”

Indeed, it is impossible to deny that a near-state of civil war exists in the Catholic Church, starting with Curran’s own spectacular rebellion, followed by innumerable academics, priests and nuns, against the publication of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae that reiterated the Church’s prohibition against artificial birth control. Nearly 20 years later, the CDF was forced to declare that Curran could no longer teach as a theologian at Catholic University of America, opposing as he did the Church on precisely the same topics: divorce, artificial contraception, masturbation, pre-marital intercourse, and homosexual acts.

Over the decades since Curran published his letter against Humanae Vitae, the secular media has worked closely with the left-liberal movement within the Church to undermine or even overturn Catholic teaching, mainly on matters of sexuality. Through the media, the goal has been largely obtained: that of establishing in the mainstream of the Catholic Church the concept of “loyal dissent,” the idea that it is possible to be a “good Catholic” while refusing to accept whichever teaching is felt to be undesirable. This notion has been broadly accepted throughout the Western world and has resulted in such phenomena as the “pro-choice Catholic” politician.

One source inside the Vatican told LifeSiteNews.com that although the CDF’s intervention was necessary to clarify Catholic teaching, in the current climate, such actions often have unintended negative consequences. “Of course, this is how Hans Kung made his name, and Charles Curran for that matter.”

“Both are mediocre theologians whose names would have been lost in dusty academic obscurity had the Vatican not unintentionally made them into folk heroes of the anti-Catholic Left. In fact, they should both be thanking the CDF for bolstering their careers.”

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Indeed, this week, Sr. Farley’s book, previously of interest only to students and professors, shot into the stratosphere of the online booksellers’ world, reaching 138th on Amazon’s bestseller list, from 147,982, within hours of NCR breaking the story. Since then, the book eventually reached number 21.

And Sr. Farley herself is a far cry from the humble, anonymously habited teaching sisters whose nearly unpaid labor in parochial schools have become the stuff of American cultural legend. Although the Sisters of Mercy do not reveal the salaries of their high-ranking academic members, Yale News reported in 2006 that the salaries of full professors at Yale ranked sixth among all private U.S. universities, at an average of $151,200 in 2005.

Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro, the head of the Rome office of Human Life International and a long-time observer of Vatican affairs, commented on the situation, saying that the same essential error being made by Sr. Farley, her defenders, and by extension the entire “liberal Catholic” movement, has dominated the Church since the 1960s. Not even the CDF, not even the pope, he said, makes up Catholic doctrine, but the Church merely keeps it as a “deposit” handed down, ultimately, Catholics believe, from Christ himself, to be passed on and shared with “everyone of good will”.

“That is what Christ established. The main function of the Vicar of Christ [the papacy] is to determine what is in accordance with the will of the Lord. A traditional title of the pope is ‘servant of the servants of god’. It’s a duty of service.”

If this is altered through adherence to the preferences of the secular world, he said, “that is not the institution established by Jesus Christ. It would be a human institution. The value of the Catholic Church is that we are an institution established by God in order to keep the integrity of the deposit given to us by God. We are not the owners of that deposit, but we are to give it to people of good will.”

In response to the accusations of suppression of freedom, Msgr. Barreiro said, “The Vatican has as part of its duties to establish what is and is not Catholic teaching. The Church is not forcing people to be Catholic, but it has a duty of service to ensure the orthodoxy and accuracy of its teachings,” and to correct misrepresentations of it.

“We dare to deny that opposition to this is acceptable within the Church,” he said, adding that “if they don’t accept it, it’s sad, but it is a function of the truth.”

In cases like that of Sr. Farley he said:

A person who calls herself a Catholic has to write and teach in accordance with the teaching of the Church. To do otherwise is to defy not only Catholic teaching, but logic.”

To clarify, if you are a member of a club, and you want to remain the member of that club, you have to follow the rules, if you don’t, you’re not being “suppressed” if the club asks you to leave. Similarly, If you pretend to play soccer, you have to follow the rules of soccer, otherwise you are not playing the same game. You invent your own game, and you play in accordance with the rules of the new game, that could be called soccer 2. But it’s no longer soccer; it’s a different game.

If…they want to follow their own rules, fine, but it’s not Catholicism; it’s a different religion. We don’t pretend to use force against different religions, but they have to be honest and not call themselves what they are not.


Msgr. Barreiro acknowledged that many Catholics involved in these battles over the years have become disheartened with the lack of action by Church authorities, but he said that this notification can be taken as a signal for renewed action.

“We now have to wait and see if the notification is implemented by the local ordinary [bishop],” he said. “If this woman continues and does not cease teaching and promoting these ideas, she might receive the same sanctions that Kung and Curran have received, and be barred from teaching or writing as a Catholic theologian. If she continues there might be an escalation of sanctions.”

The second benefit, he said, is as a “warning to local ordinaries that her book cannot be used.”

With the CDF’s notification, the book will in theory be barred from use in ecclesiastical institutions. Barreiro said that the next step is up to the informed laity: “The function that concerned laity might have is to be vigilant that this book is no longer used.”

“If it is used against this prohibition,” he said, “it is up to the knowledgeable laity to bring it to the attention of the local ordinary [bishop] and if that fails, to the CDF.”

He confirmed that this uproar is being orchestrated to generate smoke and light in response to the CDF’s actions against LCWR. “Clearly, her order is protecting her,” he said, “that it’s apparent from the CDF‘s document, and it’s also a known thing that her order is one of the dissenting orders that are part of the problem with religious in America.”


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Growing ‘Women Against Feminism’ movement draws fury

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By Hilary White
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Critics of feminism have long said that it is entering the final stages of its long career, with more of its assertions about the nature of human sexual and social relations being contradicted by the evidence and fewer young people following its dictates every decade. But in the last few weeks, it seems that feminism’s last gasp is being used to direct insults at young women who are lining up to publicly reject and ridicule it.

The Tumblr site Women Against Feminism has started a social networking trend in which thousands of young women photograph themselves holding signs bluntly denouncing feminism, giving a sharp indication that the feminist brand has become poison to young, hip, and internet-savvy women.

Mainstream and journalistic feminists have lashed out at the site and its followers, entering into an online spat over the increasingly popular photos. The signs say, “I am not a victim,” and “This is what an anti-feminist looks like.”

They continue: “I am an adult who is capable of taking responsibility for myself and my actions. I define myself and derive my value by my own standards. I don’t need to be ‘empowered’. I am not a target for violence and there is no war against me. I respect me and I refuse to demonize them and blame them for my problems.”

The messages held by the women pinpoint with pithy and acerbic precision exactly the reasons given by many critics that the movement has lost favour with young people. They call it a creed of double standards that promotes victimhood and endorses bullying of anyone who critiques it.

The site’s explanatory page, which was taken down for unknown reasons in the last two days, said, “Feminists are the only people who lose their minds with rage when you tell them that women already have the same exact rights as men. That’s not good enough. They want more. They desperately want to be victims. They want a privileged social position.”

The author goes on to accuse feminism in general of systematic censorship, discrimination, elitism and “policing other women” who do not toe the line – as well as baseline misandry. The anonymous creator denounced feminism’s adoption of “abortion as ‘empowerment’”:

This opinion is unpopular, but I don’t agree that I need to have my baby scraped out of my uterus in order to feel empowered. But the abortion industry (i.e. Planned Parenthood) makes a ton of money off this perversion of empowerment. ‘Abortion as empowerment’ teaches women to see their wombs as nothing but garbage bins full of disposable waste.

One of the contributors wrote, “I don’t need feminism because my self-worth is not directly tied to my victim complex. As a woman in the western world I am not oppressed, and neither are you,” says one. Another: “I don’t need feminism because I don’t need to bully someone to share my opinions with others.”

Some come right out and say that feminism promotes exactly the evils it purports to fight against: “I don’t need feminism because I believe in equality, not entitlements and supremacy.”

Although the site and its contentious photos have been running around the internet for many months, arguments among journalism’s feminists started breaking out this week after a mocking Buzzfeed feature helped the site gain momentum on social media outlets.

Some feminist journalists simply flung insults. Lillian Kalish sniffed on Ryot, “These Women Who Think They Don’t Need Feminism Don’t Know What Feminism Is.” “Did these posters ever think to look up the actual definition of feminism?”

Nuala McKeever, in the Belfast Telegraph, called the women posting the photos “silly, ignorant, vacuous wee girls with absolutely no thoughts beyond their own self-absorbed inanities.”

Time Magazine’s Sarah Miller said, “I Really, Truly, Fully Hate ‘Women Against Feminism’—But…” Miller wrote, “[T]he tendency to see sexism everywhere is proof that feminism is healthy and vigilant, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, because misogyny is insidious and rampant… We need feminism.”

But Miller added, “Still, the pain that we experience as women—even physical—does not give us the right to tell people there’s one way to think or feel, or to assume that we have some god-like understanding of everyone’s motivations.”

Cathy Young, however, responded in Time, saying, “Stop Fem-Splaining: What ‘Women Against Feminism’ Gets Right.” She writes, “The charge that feminism stereotypes men as predators while reducing women to helpless victims certainly doesn’t apply to all feminists—but it’s a reasonably fair description of a large, influential, highly visible segment of modern feminism.”

The site, Young says, “raises valid questions about the state of Western feminism in the 21st Century — questions that must be addressed if we are to continue making progress toward real gender equality.”

Sarah Boesveld wrote in the National Post on Friday that the site shows that feminism has become “complicated” and “sometimes alienating.” She quotes an email sent to the paper by 22 year-old Australian Lisa Sandford, who “believes in equality for the sexes” but firmly rejects feminism as “rude and nasty” and intends to be a stay-at-home mother. 

Sandford wrote, “If feminism really accepted equality, they would not tell me my views are wrong, they would accept it and let me be.”

Browse the 'Women Against Feminism' archives here (warning: occasional strong language).


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Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse

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Welcome Baby Filipino 100 Million!

Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse
By Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse

Population Research Institute welcomes the birth of little Chonalyn Sentino. Baby Chonalyn was born this past Sunday to parents Clemente and Dailin, and was feted in the Philippines as “Baby 100 Million.” PRI welcomes Baby Chonalyn as well, saying that she will be a blessing to her family, her community, and her nation.

The Philippines is one of the largest Catholic countries in the world, and its people value children. For this reason, it has been a target of the population controllers for decades. It was one of the countries singled out by Henry Kissinger’s National Security Council in 1974 for special “attention” and, more recently, has been bullied by the Obama administration into passing its first population control law. 

The bill, which was touted as being all about promoting “reproductive health,” was actually intended to drive down the birth rate. For example, section 15 requires that all couples receive a “Certificate of Compliance” from the local Family Planning Office before becoming eligible for a marriage license.

Some in the Philippines are decrying Chonalyn’s birth, repeating USAID’s talking points about the “dangers” of overpopulation. They welcome Chonalyn as an individual little girl, while simultaneously calling for future little girls and boys to be removed from existence.

The Philippine Star wrote that the birth symbolized a “large population that will put a strain on the country's limited resources.” Another paper cited the executive director of the official Commission on Population who bluntly said “We'd like to push the fertility rate down to two children per (woman's) lifetime.” And the Global Post cited “concerned advocates” who thought the current population was not a “complement with the country's economic growth.”

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But many other Filipinos aren’t buying into the anti-people hysteria. Francisco Antonio, a Filipino Chemical Engineering graduate student at Yale, adamantly rebutted the notion that there are too many Filipinos, saying: “I celebrate life because population control is defeatism disguised as pragmatism. And because human creativity holds more potential for protecting this planet and its inhabitants than any other resource I know of.”

A Filipina currently living in California told PRI that she welcomed the transition of her country to 100 million persons: “Filipinos are not a burden to the world population, because we not only care for our own but also for others in the world. One of the greatest and most sought after exports of the Philippines is our skilled, motivated, and exemplary workforce. And these workers tirelessly cultivate their family and community abroad and in the Philippines. We are a very social and civic minded people. We care and share because it is part of our culture and we do it with a smile.”

 Ed, a Filipino accountant, also celebrated the birth of Baby Chonalyn: “The typical Filipino does not associate a baby with ‘cost’ or ‘expense’ but rather as a ‘blessing’ and a ‘gift.’ This is because Filipinos recognize that true happiness does not come from the accumulation of material wealth or prestige, but rather, from true, genuine, and strong relationships with other people. [Filipinos] value life, not because the Church says or the Pope says so, but because they recognize it to be true. And the truth about the value of life, will continue to shine, long after the debates are over.”

It goes without saying that we at the Population Research Institute also welcome Chonalyn’s birth. We need more Filipinos, not fewer. 

Reprinted with permission from Pop.org.


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Two very different ways to respond to Pope Francis’ unrecorded interviews

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By John-Henry Westen

In the last few weeks another series of interviews with Pope Francis surfaced and have again left many Catholics scratching their heads.  Headlines all over the world had the Pope saying that two percent of priests are pedophiles, but is that what he said?  Even though the Vatican spokesman did issue a clarification, that question and others remain unanswered.

Critical reactions to these interviews have been interesting not even so much for their contents as from whom they arise.  These are the observations of some of the most faithful Catholic Church watchers today.  The folks pointing out these concerns are not, as many would assume, ‘“far right-wing-holier-than-the-Pope” types, but mainstream Catholics known for their loyalty to Pope Francis.

Phillip Lawler is the founder of Catholic World News, the first Catholic news service operating on the Internet. In part of his criticism of the most recent interview, he states: “Why was Pope Francis speaking with Scalfari without having first established clear ground rules for the conversation—rules that would certainly include recording and verification of any quotes?”

(To comprehend the situation accurately it is necessary to have an understanding of the man whom the Pope has allowed to interview him.  Eugenio Scalfari is relatively unknown in the West even after the fanfare of his papal interviews. LifeSiteNews has produced this piece to assist that understanding.)

Lawler recalls: “Back in October the Vatican had been embarrassed by an ‘interview’ in which [Scalfari’s] reconstructed quotes caused an uproar, and the Vatican press office was forced to issue an awkward ‘clarification’ which only added to the confusion.”

In addition to that clarification of the October Scalfari interview, the confusion and uproar got so bad that the Vatican removed the interview from their website, where they had it posted in the section containing the Pope’s speeches. Interestingly, that interview resurfaced two weeks ago on the Vatican website only to be removed again after a new round of criticism.

A blogger at the EWTN-owned National Catholic Register offered an observation similar to Lawler’s but with a little more bite. Pat Archbold writes, “The internet is once again abuzz with the second-hand hearsay of an unrecorded Papal interview.” Archbold advises his readers with characteristic sarcasm, “So pay no attention to those crazy and outlandish anti-Catholic headlines tearing up your RSS feed.  Just ignore them and hope they will soon go away, just like unrecorded Papal interviews.”

A second unrecorded conversation with the Pope makes news

Another write-up of an encounter with Pope Francis also caused a stir.  Brian Stiller, an Evangelical leader from Toronto was part of a delegation of Evangelical Christians who met with Pope Francis earlier this month. In his July 9 account, Stiller puts in quotes this statement he attributes to the Pope: “I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community.  There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s not spend our time on those. Rather, let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.”

That led noted priest-blogger Father Dwight Longenecker to first caution that the quotes are “Brian Stiller’s memory of the conversation.” 

Then with the caveat of not actually knowing the whole conversation, Fr. Longenecker says “it would not be unusual for a Catholic priest of Pope Francis’ generation to feel that way.”  He explains that he has “heard from numerous convert clergy over the years who said when they went to their local Catholic priest and expressed the wish to become Catholic the priest told them it wasn’t necessary and that they could do much more good to Christ’s kingdom and the Catholic church by staying where they were and evangelizing within their own denomination.”

“Now this strikes me as rather troublesome on several levels,” says Longenecker. He notes he had himself once used that line with a Protestant friend, to which his friend replied, “You don’t want to convert me? Why not? I don’t have much respect for your religion if you think so little of it that you don’t want me to share it!”

“He basically called me out on what was a little lie on my part. I wanted to be nice to him [so] I said I didn’t want to convert him. He said our discussion would be much better if I admitted that I did want him to become Catholic. He was right. I did. I still do.”

Inside the Vatican

Vatican journalist Edward Pentin has reported that unnamed “Vatican officials are uneasy and perplexed” about the interview. Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002 and has since covered the pope for a number of publications, including Newsweek and The Sunday Times.

“The officials’ discomfort also extends to the Pope’s spontaneous telephone calls to strangers, a couple of which implied he deviated from Church teaching but, being private and unrecorded conversations, are difficult to verify,” he wrote for Newsmax.

From the outset of the Francis pontificate, there were these unrecorded and yet published interviews – the first was from a meeting with Latin American religious leaders in June 2013.  That was the one that had Pope Francis speaking of the existence of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican and also about being concerned about Catholics who would count rosaries to offer prayer bouquets.

At the time LifeSiteNews published nothing on that first unrecorded interview even though almost all other news services did.  Shortly thereafter I was at the Vatican inquiring about that unrecorded but reported-on encounter and was assured by various Vatican insiders that the communication was not accidental but intended – to me at the time a rather startling revelation.

But that same assessment came later from another Vatican quarter, a man who speaks German as does the pope and also shares the pope’s religious order.  “Francis knows exactly how power is spelled,” said Bernd Hagenkord, a Jesuit who is in charge of German programming for Vatican Radio in a May interview with The Atlantic. “He’s a communicator in the league with Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. They say he’s being unclear, but we know exactly what he means.”

Two different ways to respond

One of the most disturbing outcomes of these ‘interviews’ is that the words and interpretations of what is being said by the Pope, while they may be clear for the German Jesuit, are remarkably unclear for the vast majority of Catholics.  Catholics who know well their faith, its moral teachings, and the reason for them are few and far between. They are able to discern that the Pope cannot mean to undermine Church teaching; that those teachings are unchangeable.

But most people are taken in by the media’s false interpretation that ‘who am I to judge’ involves a new acceptance of homosexuality; the false possibility for legitimately-married Catholics to divorce and remarry outside the Church and still receive Communion; the idea that the Church should quiet down on her teachings on abortion, contraception, and same-sex “marriage.”  All of those false conclusions were drawn from previous Francis interviews.

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There are two ways forward for faithful Catholics in such a situation.  One way – a way that is most tempting - was recently recognized as a growing tendency by blogger Father Ray Blake. “Most Catholics but especially clergy want to be loyal to the Pope in order to maintain the unity of the Church,” he said.  “Today that loyalty is perhaps best expressed through silence.”

In leading up to that observation, Blake noted that in the previous pontificate “there was a solidity and certainty in Benedict's teaching which made discussion possible and stimulated intellectual honesty, one knew where the Church and the Pope stood.”  He added, “Today we are in less certain times, the intellectual life of the Church is thwart with uncertainty.”

However, Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke suggested a different approach recently. According to Burke, who serves as head of the Vatican’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura, the pope has made a strategic decision to focus on making the Church appealing, and thus bishops and priests “are even more compelled to underline these teachings (on life and family) and make them clear for the faithful.”

He told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, “The Holy Father has said on different occasions that he expects that bishops and priests are doing this teaching while he’s trying to draw people closer and not have them use [these doctrines] as their immediate excuse for not coming to the faith.”

Cardinal Burke’s strategy confronts the culture head-on even on the most difficult issues.  He sees that the often-used but failed tactic of avoiding difficult situations, of obfuscating or compromising on moral issues as worse than useless.

When truth is pushed aside for political correctness, to fulfill ideals of civility or to achieve false unity and false peace, the world is harmed by the lack of truth the Church is called to bring to it.

When truth is boldly proclaimed and held to, despite persecution, even the enemies of truth are forced to see that the opponents of their secular or liberal ideologies truly believe their teachings and are willing to suffer for them. This eventually generates a degree of respect from some of the critics and an openness to re-consider their own flawed positions.


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