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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Lisa Bourne

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

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By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

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Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

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Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
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Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

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By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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