Patrick Craine

Shock, gratitude, prayer: pro-life and Catholic leaders react to a Pope’s surprise resignation

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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ROME, Feb. 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As Catholics and people of good will across the globe grapple with Pope Benedict XVI’s shocking announcement Monday morning that he will resign the papacy at 8 pm on Feb. 28th, Catholic and pro-life leaders are offering gratitude for his eight years at the helm of the Barque of Peter.

The media frenzy over the first papal resignation in six hundred years has brought a flurry of response from Church commentators. LifeSiteNews has spoken with numerous leaders at the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life as well as top pro-life activists in Europe and North America who urged prayers for Pope Benedict and the whole Church during this near-unprecedented transition period.

In his statement on the Pope’s move, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York called it “an important moment in our lives as citizens of the world,” and noted Benedict’s tireless defense of human life.

“Pope Benedict often cited the significance of eternal truths and he warned of a dictatorship of relativism,” said Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Some values, such as human life, stand out above all others, he taught again and again. It is a message for eternity.”

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life and a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said his organization is taking the surprising news in a “positive light,” calling it “an expression of [the Pope’s] concern and love for the Church.”

“He wants the Church to have a Pope who can fulfill his role with the strength and vigor that the office requires,” he explained.

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Mercedes Wilson, founder of Family of the Americas and an ordinary member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, agreed the news came as a “big shock" but also expressed a certain disappointment.

"I think it’s better to leave it to God’s will, to keep at the helm of the Church as long as possible until God takes you,” she said. “But, you know, who am I to judge? I don’t know what the doctors may have told him. He has been a good Pope, faithful to the teachings of the Church. So we have to pray that that was the right decision.”

“Let’s hope that who ever is to replace him will be a strong leader that will defend the family and the gift of life as the most precious gift,” she added. “All of Europe and all of the West is suffering from lack of children. Let’s hope that more emphasis can be given to this fact.”

John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life’s governing council, said his organization has “always felt a special affinity with Pope Benedict XVI,” noting that he had twice spoken at their workshops for bishops while he served as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

“When I first the heard the news from Europe, before sunrise here in the United States, I was stunned,” said Haas in a statement sent to LifeSiteNews. “But after the reality settled in, I could not help but smile and think to myself, ‘How admirable is his commitment to duty’!”

Haas said Pope Benedict deserves special praise for his contribution to Church teaching on bioethics in the instruction Donum Vitae, which was released by the CDF in 1987 while he served as prefect.

“The Church’s moral principles articulated in that document remain unassailable as the surest guide available in our day to address the complex and difficult moral issues arising from advances in micro-biology and ‘reproductive technologies’,” said Haas. “The magisterial, bioethical Dignitas Personae of 2008 builds on that foundational document but certainly does not surpass it.”

LifeSiteNews also spoke with pro-life leaders from the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Ireland.

Jim Hughes, national president of Canada’s Campaign Life Coalition, said the Pope would be “sorely missed.” “He just seemed to be in the middle of his plan of action. It’ll be a major task now to find someone to fill those shoes,” he said.

John Smeaton, director of the U.K.’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, thanked the Pope for his “defence of the unchanging teaching on the purpose of human sexuality,” noting especially his emphasis on the connection between the protection of human life and the defense of marriage and family.

“Pope Benedict’s statements were wake-up calls to the whole pro-life movement to campaign against same-sex marriage and similar threats to the life-giving meaning of sexuality,” said Smeaton.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of Ireland’s Life Institute said that Benedict XVI has been a source of huge inspiration to the pro-life movement worldwide and noted that the Pontiff had recently been outspoken in his opposition to proposals by the Irish government to legalise abortion. 

"Pope Benedict was clear and unequivocal in his defence of Life, saying that abortion was a 'crime against society', that it ' kills the child and destroys the woman'. He urged all of us to become active in pro-life work, noting that 'God speaks to each of us, inviting us to defend human life at all times'. In that way, the Pope was a great encouragement and leader to people of all faiths and none within the movement." 

"I join many others in praying that Benedict's successor is blessed with the courage to continue giving vocal support for the protection of human life from conception and without exception," she said.

Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, said his organization joins the rest of the universal Church in praying for the Pope.

"The suddenness of His Holiness' announcement is cause for concern for his health, as it seems to have caught almost everyone by surprise,” he said. ”Though our concern is more than matched by our gratitude for Pope Benedict's many wonderful gifts to the Church as Holy Father, bishop and priest. His three wonderful encyclicals, his many apostolic letters and addresses have all helped to guide the Church through a difficult period."

“His unflinching defense of Church teaching and the most fundamental rights of every human person have inspired our missionaries around the world,” Fr. Boquet added. "So in prayer and gratitude we lift up our Holy Father and the Church he has served, asking the Holy Spirit to guide the cardinals of the Church in their task of choosing Pope Benedict's successor."

Speaking on NBC News Monday morning, George Weigel, the famed biographer of Bl. John Paul II, suggested that the Pope’s move should be called an “abdication” rather than a resignation. “A resignation is something that someone hands to someone else,” he explained. “Popes have no one to resign to, so this is an abdication.”

“It is obviously unprecedented, but I think we’ve all had the sense, both from the realities of a world where people live much longer than before and from the pope’s words, that this was a real possibility," he added.

Deal Hudson, president of Pennsylvania Catholics Network, urged the Cardinals who will elect Benedict’s successor to choose a man who will carry on the Pope’s legacy of reform.

He said the Pope’s resignation “ends an era of reform and restoration in the Church that began in November 1978 with the election of John Paul II.”

“That Benedict XVI allowed retired Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles, a powerful broker of the liberalization following Vatican II, to be stripped of all his archdiocesan duties is symbolic of the changes brought about in the last 35 years under John Paul II and Benedict XVI,” said Hudson. “The cardinals at the upcoming conclave will be faced with the choice of whether to continue the direction marked out by the last two pontiffs.”

Michael D. O’Brien, the famed Catholic author and painter, said the move is “understandable,” but “will be a colossal loss for the Church.”

“May all Catholics pray fervently for the coming Conclave, that the Holy Spirit will grant us another Man of Truth who embodies caritas and veritas with courage,” he told LifeSiteNews.

The Pope’s announcement has also sparked reaction from faith leaders outside the Catholic Church.

The U.K.’s Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said he was “honoured” to welcome the Pope to Britain in 2010 on behalf of non-Christian faiths and to visit him at the Vatican in 2011.

“I saw him to be a man of gentleness, of quiet and of calm, a deeply thoughtful and compassionate individual who carried with him an aura of grace and wisdom,” he said. “I wish him good health, blessings and best wishes for the future.”

On Facebook, Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the Pope “has offered a brave and intelligent defense of truth against a relativist tide, and he has been a stalwart friend of life.”

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Gabriele Kuby

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Genderism – a new ideology destroying the family

Gabriele Kuby
By Gabriele Kuby

Editor’s Note: The following address by German author and social commentator Gabriele Kuby was delivered earlier this month in Moscow at the International Forum on Large Families and the Future of Humanity.

We are witnessing an astonishing historical shift.

More than a hundred years ago, Marxism declared the relationship of man and woman in monogamous marriage as “the first class antagonism” in history. This “class-conflict” had to be overcome by destroying marriage and the family. So in 1917, Alexandra Kollontai, the first woman commissar of the Bolshevik Central Committee, set out to put this into practise through the exercise of revolutionary power:

  1. A law for the dissolution of marriage
  2. Legalization of abortion
  3. Sexual freedom for youth
  4. Legalization of homosexuality
  5. Integration of women into the production process, and
  6. Bringing up children in collective state institutions.

But even Lenin soon realized that this was creating social chaos. And he repealed some of these revolutionary measures.

Yet the same agenda eventually migrated to the West. It had its breakthrough with the student rebellion of the 1960s, which swept through European countries with slogans like these:

Battle the bourgeois nuclear family!

If you sleep with the same one twice, you’re a slave of bourgeois vice!

Make love not war!

This movement was fuelled by Marxist philosophers, particularly of the Frankfurt School in Germany. In their view, sexuality was to be liberated from restrictive morality – even from the taboo of incest. Sex between children, as well as sex with children, was to be allowed in order to create a “society without oppression”.

During the 1970s, marriage laws and sexual criminal laws were revised in Western countries. Pornography, abortion, and homosexuality – in this sequence – were legalized, and obligatory sexual education was introduced in schools. And during the last decade, the collectivization of bringing up small children – formerly seen as a communist aberration – has been imposed on families by EU measures. This destroys the very source of human love, which is the relationship between mother and child.

Ironically, the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries were, so to speak, “protected” by communist dictatorship from the implementation of these ideas, which had originated in Marxist ideology.

Today things have shifted even further: The radical feminist movement and the homosexual movement merged and gave birth to the gender ideology. One of its trailblazers is the philosopher Judith Butler, a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation and a proclaimed lesbian, who in 1990 published the book, Gender Trouble – Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.

Gender theory proclaims that our “social gender” is independent of our biological sex, so that we can “choose” whether we want to be a man or a woman.

At the policy level, this ideology becomes “Gender Mainstreaming,” which promotes:

  • Subversion of the identity of man and woman by destroying “gender-stereotypes” – beginning in kindergarten; and
  • Deregulation of normative standards of sexuality: Any kind of sexual practice – be it lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT) – has to be accepted by society as equivalent to heterosexuality. And this must be taught to children in school.

It has taken only 20 years for gender theory to become the ruling ideology of the West. At most universities, the new field of “gender studies” has been firmly established. In my native Germany, we have almost 200 women professors in that new field of so-called “science” – which really is nothing more than the ideological agenda of radical feminism and the homosexual movement combined. And students now must adhere to this ideology – just as their predecessors had to adhere to Marxist ideology under communism.

What Alexandra Kollontai could not achieve under a communist dictatorship has now become the global policy of the United Nations and the European Union. But the underlying agenda is disguised with words that abuse the great values of Christian culture: freedom, justice, tolerance, and human rights.

Central and Eastern European nations have now begun to realize that membership in the European Union has its costs. It not only brings them new economic possibilities but also the enforced destruction of their own value system – which, for many centuries, has served as the foundation of marriage and family.

In pursuit of their agenda, the UN and the EU work with an international network of political stakeholders, billionaire foundations, the mainstream media, and global NGOs like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and ILGA, the homosexual umbrella organization. They seek to impose the feminist and homosexual agenda on every nation around the world through the policy of gender mainstreaming and LGBT-rights.

Dear friends, we are indeed facing a global ‘anthropological revolution’, as Pope Benedict XVI termed it – one which attacks the very roots of human existence. This revolution has five political cornerstones:

  1. Elimination of fatherhood and motherhood
  2. Deprivation of the material basis of the family
  3. Legalization of abortion
  4. Homosexual “marriage,” including adoption and artificial child production
  5. Sexualization of children through obligatory comprehensive sexual education.

All this requires a response. In fact, faced with the demographic crisis in the West, and the moral and social breakdown of the family, we need a global movement that creates conditions under which the deepest longings of the human heart can be fulfilled. Such a movement should include:

  1. Re-awakening to the sanctity of fatherhood and motherhood
  2. Provision of the material basis of the family
  3. Protection of life – from conception to natural death
  4. Legally defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman
  5. Education of children and youth for marriage and family

As far as I can see, Russia is today the only country where there may be the possibility for church and state to rebuild the foundations of the family.

This International Forum could have a significant role in the global battle for a culture of life and the defence of marriage and family. May our political leaders be guided by wisdom and a commitment to the common good of humanity in the present political situation.

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Pro-marriage advocates must show love to all, "especially...those who disagree with us on this issue, and most of all, for those who are hostile toward us,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone told the 2014 March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
Lisa Bourne

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Rich liberal groups funded gay push on San Fran archbishop to back out of marriage march

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

Tax-exempt homosexual activist groups attempted to coerce San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone out of his engagement as keynote speaker for the March for Marriage in Washington D.C. earlier this year, according to reports by his diocesan newspaper, a move that is part of a larger orchestrated campaign to fight the Catholic Church in the court of public opinion.

One of the homosexual activist organizations involved in financing the assailing of Archbishop Cordileone, the Arcus Foundation, has given funds to specifically target the Synod on the Family and World Youth Day, according to EWTN News. In one instance, Arcus gave a grant to Dignity USA "to support pro-LGBT faith advocates to influence and counter the narrative of the Catholic Church and its ultra-conservative affiliates."

Catholic San Francisco has reported extensively about how the Ford Foundation, Quark Inc. founder Tim Gill’s foundation, and the Arcus Foundation are at the top of a list of wealthy activist organizations that fund promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activity, and that they also donate extensively to faith-focused organizations that publicly dispute Catholic teaching on marriage and homosexual behavior.

The Ford Foundation gave more than $2 million to Faith in Public Life, which advocates against the Church on abortion, homosexuality, and marriage, and $900,000 to Catholics for Choice, which supports abortion.

Arcus has given roughly $1.5 million to groups calling themselves Catholic while advocating for homosexual behavior, including Dignity’s Equally Blessed Coalition, the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, New Ways Ministry, and Faithful America.

The Gill Foundation gave $100,000 to the Catholics United Education Fund, a prominent proponent of homosexual “marriage,” $17,500 in grants to Dignity USA, $5,000 to Faith in Public Life to research the religious right, and $20,000 to the same group to support Faithful America.

While Faithful America was the organization responsible for a petition trying to pressure Archbishop Cordileone out of speaking at the June 19 March for Marriage, it has gotten funding from the Gill Foundation, billionaire and Arcus Foundation Founder and President Jon Stryker, billionaire George Soros, and the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund, according to Catholic San Francisco.

Two days before the Marriage for Marriage in Washington roughly 75 people marched to the archdiocesan offices in San Francisco to present the Faithful America petition, and a representative from the group emailed a letter to Archbishop Cordileone.

The letter, which selectively referenced Church documents and statements, as well as the words of Pope Francis, was signed by numerous pro-homosexual politicians, homosexual activist groups, and laicized and dissident clergy.

Archbishop Cordileone responded with a letter explaining his duty to speak the truth, offering to meet with those who opposed Church teaching on marriage and sexuality and informing them he would not back out of the March for Marriage.

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Anne Hendershott, a professor of sociology at Franciscan University, reported on Faithful America and the forces behind the attacks on Archbishop Cordileone in June for Crisis Magazine, noting that former Assistant Director of Media Relations for the USCCB John Gehring now works for the George Soros-funded Faith in Public Life and Faithful America.

“Gehring now spends his time attacking the same bishops he once worked for,” Hendershott wrote in her column.

She stated as well at the time that it is likely the attacks will continue to escalate.

Faithful America sent a call to action in a September 11 email to its subscriber list after Catholic San Francisco began reporting on who was behind the attacks on Archbishop Cordileone.

It referred to Archbishop Cordileone as “right-wing,” claimed he had a “hateful agenda,” admitted their goal is “attempting to change Church doctrine on matters of sexuality,” and expressed concern over reporting on its funding appearing in a diocesan publication versus other media.

The email called for support for an ad in the San Francisco archdiocesan newspaper with local Catholics criticizing Archbishop Cordileone, and “adding another organizer to Faithful America’s team.”

Jesuit Father John Piderit, moderator of the curia and vicar for administration for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, noted in Catholic San Francisco that Faithful America suggested it was ordinary Catholics that were upset about the archbishop’s decision to participate in the March for Marriage.

“To operate successfully in the public sphere, American Catholics need clear knowledge about the forces arrayed against them,” said Father Piderit. “Similar to other groups, Faithful America is a well-funded pressure group that espouses a variety of viewpoints contrary to Catholic teaching. Informed Catholics are aware that such groups regularly promote their viewpoints in the media.”

Hendershott identified this in her column as well.

“Still, no one should imagine that these attacks, so heavily funded by non-Catholic sources, reflect the views of faithful Catholics,” she said. “This is why even a well-funded dissident minority cannot ultimately weaken a church that is united and confident in its teachings and mission and, most importantly, enjoys divine protection.”

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Snapshot of FB message from Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada to its fans
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

Pro-Aborts hate doing this, but they HAVE to…

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

“Aren’t you just preaching to the choir?” my friend suggested after I told him I had begun working as a pro-life journalist for LifeSiteNews.

“You know,” he continued, “the only people who read pro-life news are pro-lifers,” implying that my work would be practically useless and largely ineffective. 

I admit, his comment totally took the wind out of my sails.

It had always been my desire to do something for the life-and-family movement that would make a difference, effect change, restore the culture.

Yet, here was my friend telling me I had just signed up to do something basically futile. He walked away shaking his head, and I began work wondering if he was right. 

Now, three years later, I can tell you that am I glad I didn't listen to him. Being new on the job back then, I really had no idea just what kind of a punch a pro-life journalist can actually throw.

I have since learned that it’s an awfully powerful one! 

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It always surprises me where some of the reports I have written end up traveling to, as they journey through the unchartered waters of the Internet. I usually only find out where some of them have gone by chance.

A friend will e-mail me to say he enjoyed seeing my story highlighted on this blog here, or that news outpost there. Or an opponent will contact me expressing outrage after picking up my report from a website on the other side of the fence. 

Here are a few stories about some of the strange (and not so strange) places I have seen LifeSiteNews reports: 

International Influence
 
Once when I was researching the harms caused to children adopted by homosexual couples I found myself traveling online to Puerto Rico.

My search engine had pulled up a document from that country that had been submitted to the government in 2013 arguing against allowing homosexuals to adopt.

It was a remarkably well-written piece. I scrolled down to the 65 footnotes at the end of the piece linking to scholarly articles and research papers. It was then that I noticed 13 of those footnotes linked to some of our own LifeSiteNews reports on the matter

“Well, what do you know,” I said to myself at the time, “our reports are being used by people from distant lands and languages to fight for life and family. How awesome is that!”

Who knows how many government officials read that document that was partly influenced by our reports? 

Major Mainstream News Outlets

I remember the excitement I felt when my first story found its way to The Drudge Report, the massive U.S.-based news aggregation website.

The story was about sex-selective in vitro fertilization services being offered by a fertility clinic in the U.S. to Indo-Canadians in British Columbia.

I don’t know why Matt Drudge thought it worthy to post the story on his site, but I do know that tens of thousands of people who read the story learned the shocking truth about how girls in their earliest beginnings are being eliminated because this fertility clinic panders to ethnic groups with a preference for boys.

The story spread far and wide, eventually being picked up by other news services, including The Daily Mail. 

My second story that was linked on the Drudge Report was about the waste-to-energy facility in Oregon that incinerated the remains of babies aborted in Canada to power the grid. Public outrage was swift and effective. Before 24 hours had gone by the facility declared they would put a stop to the program.

When a journalist sees his story picked up by major international news websites, he feels like he has won the lottery, or like he has just received a huge promotion.

There is excitement, exhilaration, and a sense of accomplishment. Journalists write reports to be read. When their reports are read by tens or even hundreds of thousands of people, he congratulates himself for a job well done. When the reports effect real change, he becomes humbled by the power of the word.

You just never know who’s going to pick up a story.

We’ve had Rush Limbaugh use our reports in his programs, mentioning that they came from our site.

I’ve had a Canadian Member of Parliament tell me how widely read our news service is among MPs who are concerned about the moral implosion of our formerly Christian nation. 

Resource for Opponents
 
Here’s one of my favorite stories.

You know you’re doing something right when your ideological opponent is forced to use your own reports because nobody else has the same goods. 

Last May we covered the ongoing trial of Mary Wagner, jailed for entering an abortion clinic and peacefully handing out roses and literature to abortion-bound women.

The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada literally apologized to its Facebook fans when it posted a link to our story on its page. 
 
"Sorry for the anti-choice source, but no-one else is covering this,” they said. 
 
Reading this, I could not help but smile to myself. “When your opponent starts depending on you for information, can the end be too far off,” I remember thinking at the time. 

Cultural Change
 
My work as a pro-life and pro-family journalist has never been so dramatic as the time I wrote a series of articles involving a fellow who did social justice work with school children during the day, while moonlighting as a gay stripper at night.

The series resulted in him losing his day job a week and a half after the first report was published.

Not only will the children be mercifully spared his presentation on “shameless idealism,” but they will no longer be under the influence of someone who delights in feeding the impure sexual fantasies of adults.

It was humbling to witness once again the power of fact-based reporting. 

My co-workers and I could tell you numerous stories like these that highlight the huge difference one good report can make. 

If my friend were to make the same comment to me today about ‘preaching to the choir,’ I know what I’d tell him now.

I’d say that I know that many of our reports are read by the choir, but the choir surely needs to know what’s going on if they’re going to ‘raise the roof’ with their singing.

I know some members of the choir who read our stuff regularly are influential leaders and decision-makers who hammer out pro-life-and-family strategies based on our reports.

Secretly I believe it’s faithful members of the choir — all the hardworking, uncompromising, and faith-filled moms and dads — who will one day be credited with saving the world.

So many read our reports for trustworthy news on the most crucial issues facing our times. They read so they can learn to effectively form the upcoming generation to combat the evils of our times.

They read for inspiration in the fight for a culture of life. 
 
I’d continue to tell my friend our reports reach way beyond the confines of the choir loft, making their way into the political chambers of government agencies across the world, into the homes of  mainstream families in Canada, the US, and other parts of the world, and even slipping into the think-tanks of those opposing everything we fight for and believe in. 
 
I’d tell him our reports pack a punch way beyond their weight, that they’re having an impact and changing the world for the good. 
 
“Our reports are helping change the course of history,” I’d say. 
 
“Preaching to the choir?” I’d say incredulously. “You really have no idea what goes on here, do you!”
 
Dear friends of LifeSite, we’re now in the midst of our fall fundraising campaign.

We need these funds to continue infusing our culture with factual truth-based reports from the only perspective that really matters, that of life-and-family.

(To make an online donation, click here.)

The ‘choir’ needs these reports.

Leaders and decision-makers need these reports.

Even our opponents need these reports.

The rebirth of a civilization of love depends upon dispelling error with truth. Please help us today to reach our goal. Make a difference that will last. 
 
Thank you so much for standing with us! 

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