Hilary White

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Savita’s husband won’t cooperate with investigation; other EU life and family updates

Hilary White
Hilary White
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Savita update: three Galway docs dropped from probe; family demands independent inquiry

DUBLIN – The inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar is running into difficulties out of the gate. Savita’s widower, Praveen Halappanavar, has said that he and the family will not cooperate with the government’s probe because it is being run by the same government agency that he alleges caused his wife’s death. The Health Services Executive has been refused access to the young woman’s medical records, a decision that will cripple the investigation.

In addition, three senior medical consultants from Galway have been dropped from the group of seven physicians conducing the inquest. Mrs. Halappanavar’s family had objected to them on the grounds that no doctor from the Galway University Hospital where Savita died should be included. Despite the removal of the doctors, Mr. Halappanavar said, “I will not be co-operating with the inquiry in any way.”

Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny told Parliament that Health Minister Dr. James Reilly had removed the doctors from the panel to ensure the investigation would be completely independent.

Ireland’s Minister of Public Spending, Brendan Howlin, told the state broadcaster RTE that the government wanted the investigation to provide answers “speedily, thoroughly and comprehensively” and opposed the family’s demands for an investigation independent of the HSE. “We don’t want a tribunal that goes on for ever more,” he said on RTE’s Morning Ireland.


Don’t use marriage as ‘political football’ : Westminster Archbishop

LONDON – The Catholic archbishop of Westminster has warned politicians not to use the institution of marriage as a “political football”. Vincent Nichols warned Chancellor George Osborne that “same-sex marriage” might not be the vote winner the Conservative Party is looking for. Nichols says he detects “deep unease” over the issue.

“This is not simply a redefining of marriage to accommodate a few, it is a redefining of marriage for everyone and therefore all marriages, if this bill is introduced, will be different.

“It is a different reality for everybody and that is a very serious matter and one to which we are very strongly opposed and will remain strongly opposed,” Nichols told reporters this week.

Nichols called marriage “a very important building block in society” and said it is “very foolish” to propose to alter its definition when, “as far as we can see there is not a specific identified problem that that change is supposed to be addressing”.

“My own sense is that many people feel deeply uneasy about this move, it was not in any election manifesto, it has not in that sense been put to the country.”

Referring to the majority of negative submissions to the government’s consultation on the matter, Nichols added, “That is why the strength of opinion expressed in the consultation ought not to be hidden and that’s why we want the full disclosure of the results of that consultation.”


Church of England votes both for and against female bishops

LONDON – At yesterday’s meeting of the General Synod, the decision-making body of the Church of England made up of separate houses for bishops, clergy and laity, voted down a proposal to start ordaining women as bishops. The proposal was accepted by a wide majority of votes in both the houses of the bishops and clergy, but was rejected by the laity.

The bishops voted 44 for, three against with two abstentions. The clergy voted 148 for, 45 against, with no abstentions. The laity voted 132 for, 74 against and no abstentions. The proposal could only pass by gaining a two-thirds majority in each house.

The issue will now rest for the time being. The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, said, “The motion having been lost ... we do not proceed any further.” Others feel that it is only a matter of time before the change passes. Christina Rees, a Synod member and former chairman of the advocacy group Women and the Church, told Reuters, “Women bishops will come, but this is an unnecessary and an unholy delay.”

Women are already ordained as bishops in the Anglican churches of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.


List grows of EU member states rebelling over EU’s iron budget grip

BRUSSELS – With the virtual buy-out of Greece, Ireland and Spain by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, Euro-scepticism is growing among Europe ministers from member states. The European Union has imposed a series of harsh “austerity measures” on Greece that have created widespread unemployment and reduction of public services that has resulted in riots. Several EU states are starting to balk at EU attempts to impose centralized control over national budgets.

Thus far, Latvia, Italy, Portugal, the UK, Denmark, France, Sweden, Austria, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain and Poland have all objected in various ways to attempts by Brussels to impose limitations on national budgets. Some countries, including economic powerhouses Italy and the UK, have said they are prepared to veto the European Union’s seven-year budget plan if better deals are not hammered out. Leaders of the 27 EU states are due to meet in Brussels later this week to debate the budget for 2014-2020.

Today Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis said that his government is prepared to veto the budget unless it gets a better deal on agricultural subsidies. “If our interests are completely ignored, we don’t exclude that possibility (of a veto),” Dombrovskis told the Latvian television.

Italian Europe Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi has said Italy is “ready to use its veto” if it considers that the next long-term EU budget is “harmful for the country and burdensome for the Italian taxpayer.” Italy’s previous government was removed by pressure from EU chiefs and replaced by a hand-picked, unelected government, made up of EU loyalists, in November last year.

Fatwa issued against Welsh opt-out organ donation plan

CARDIFF – The Association of Muslim Scholars UK) has issued a fatwa, or Islamic ruling, on the proposal by the government of Wales to start a presumed-consent organ donation plan that would assume everyone in the province is an organ donor unless specifically stated otherwise. The plan is being called “deemed consent” and would automatically declare as organ donors everyone living in Wales more than six months old, including prisoners tourists and students.

The ruling calls on Muslims to oppose strongly “this unjust, unislamic, inhumane bill by all legal and peaceful means”.

The ruling said, “Our organs and our bodies belong to our Creator: ALLAH. We are ordered in Islam to protect all our organs from any harm like alcohol and smoking, and to allow them to be satisfied physiologically with all their needs and as ALLAH wanted. We do not own any of our organs and no one has the right (Muslim or non Muslim) to take any of our organs especially at time of death.”

The fatwa says that Muslims who wish to donate are free to do so, but this should be voluntary and include written consent. This consent must be obtained only after the person is made aware of details of the surgical procedure, including the possibility of organs being taken while the patient is still alive and the heart is still beating or pain is still felt, and any possible harm to the donor when he/she is still alive.

There must be no “interference with the natural moment of death as fixed by ALLAH Almighty and not by doctors,” the ruling continued. “There should not be any interference with the natural moment of death.” This is defined in the ruling as the moment when both the “heart and respiration (and all brain activity) stop naturally and normally the soul leaves the body after natural death”.


Slovakia removes haloes from saints’ images on Euro coins

BRATISLAVA – In a move that is being criticized as kow-towing to secularists, the government of Slovakia has removed the haloes from the images of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, pivotal figures in the country’s history.

The images are on the design for the €2 coin issued to commemorate the 1,150th anniversary of the arrival of the missionary saints in Moravia. The Euroskeptic website Euractiv notes that EU member states are allowed to mint commemorative coins once a year but the design on the back must be “accepted by the remaining eurozone members and the European Commission”.

The Greek Cyril and Methodius were brothers of the 9th century, who became missionaries to the pagan Slavic countries to the north and are regarded as the founding fathers of Slavonic Christianity. They created the Cyrillic alphabet, based on Greek letters, in order to have the Bible and other texts translated into Slavic languages.

One Byzantine Catholic priest commented, calling the decision to remove the haloes an example of “anti-historical and ideological manipulation.”


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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
John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

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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