John Westen

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Vatican clarifies: Pope did not express support for homosexual civil unions during Q&A

John Westen
John Westen

ROME, January 6, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After some Italian journalists reported that remarks about a lesbian fiancee made by Pope Francis during a Q&A showed that the pope is open to the homosexual civil union legislation currently being considered in Italy, the Vatican has issued a statement denying those media reports. 

The reports are the latest in a spate of media portrayals that paint Pope Francis as open to homosexuality, which reached its apex with the selection of Pope Francis as person of the year by the homosexual activist magazine The Advocate

A Vatican clarification issued today to Vatican radio noted, however, that the pope did not take a position on the civil unions legislation in his remarks, which predated the debate in Italy. 

The text of the Q&A session, which occurred on November 29, was released this past Friday in the Jesuit Journal La Civilta Cattolica

During that Q&A, the pope recalled a complex situation he encountered while in Buenos Aires. “I remember the case of a very sad little girl who finally confided to her teacher the reason for her state of mind: ‘my mother’s fiancée doesn’t like me,’” he said. (In Italian the word used indicates that the fiancée was female). 

The pope spoke of the challenges that educators face in evangelizing in a complex world. “How can we proclaim Christ to a generation that is changing?” he asked. “We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them.” 

In today's statement, the Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, explained: “In his conversation with religious superiors, the pope offered the consideration that the situation in which education of children takes place today is very different than in the past, because [these children] live in many difficult family situations, such as parents who are separated, anomalous new unions, sometimes including homosexual unions, and so on.” 

Fr. Lombardi called the media’s portrayal of the pope’s remarks as an “opening to gay couples” a "stretch" and "paradoxical," “because even the small concrete example made by the Pope about (a girl who is sad because her mother’s girlfriend does not love her) alludes to the suffering of children ...”

The Vatican spokesman concluded, “The pope absolutely did not express himself on the debate that reopened in Italy only a month later, and whoever recalls the positions manifested by him in precedence in Argentina on the occasion of analogous debates knows well that they were completely different from those that some now seek surreptitiously to attribute to him.”

John Allen, one of the world’s best-known Vatican reporters who is granted access to the Vatican like few others, was given the full text of Fr. Lombardi’s response.  Allen, however, questioned Fr. Lombardi’s portrayal of Pope Francis’ position on homosexual civil unions. 

“Lombardi’s reference to the pope’s position in the past during ‘analogous debates’ in Argentina begs the question of what, exactly, that position really was,” says Allen.

Allen added: “When Argentina became the first Latin American nation to approve gay marriage in 2010, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio expressed strong opposition. However, former officials of the Argentine bishops’ conference, friends of Bergoglio, and journalists who covered the debate all say that behind the scenes, Bergoglio expressed openness to some form of civil partnership as an alternative to full marriage rights.” 

However, other diocesan officials in Argentina have refuted such claims, calling them false. 

Meanwhile, some mainstream media and homosexual activist publications are suggesting that Pope Francis’ shift in emphasis and tone on the matter of homosexuality are revolutionary.  Unlike his predecessors, who were attacked by the media for noting the immorality of homosexual acts, thus far in his pontificate Pope Francis has not made any similar statements.  He did, however, in his first encyclical - co-authored by Pope Benedict - note that marriage is to be between one man and one woman.

Nevertheless, Pope Francis has not shied away from engaging the topic of homosexuality. 

During an in-flight interview returning form Rio, in response to a question about homosexual priests, he famously said: “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?” 

Then, during the first off-the-cuff interview that was published in Jesuit magazines, he said:

A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?'

We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that… The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

The pope explained his purposeful avoidance of the hard teachings of the Church on homosexuality and other matters in those same interviews.  He was asked by a reporter on the return voyage from Rio’s World Youth Day why he did not mention abortion and gay ‘marriage,’ even though in Brazil legislation was under consideration on both matters. 

“The Church has already spoken quite clearly on this.  It was unnecessary to return to it, just as I didn’t speak about cheating, lying, or other matters on which the Church has a clear teaching!” he responded.

When the reporter retorted, “But the young are interested in this ...” he added, “Yes, though it wasn’t necessary to speak of it, but rather of the positive things that open up the path to young people.  Isn’t that right!  Besides, young people know perfectly well what the Church’s position is.” 

The reporter asked her last follow up: “What is Your Holiness’ position, if we may ask?”

The pope replied, “The position of the Church.  I am a son of the Church.” 

 

The text of Fr. Lombardi’s statement follows:

“In his conversation with religious superiors, the pope offered the consideration that the situation in which education of children takes place today is very different than in the past, because [these children] live in many difficult family situations, such as parents who are separated, anomalous new unions, sometimes including homosexual unions, and so on. Education and the proclamation of the faith naturally can’t ignore that reality and must be attentive to the good of the new generations, accompanying them with affection starting from their concrete situation, in order not to provoke negative reactions contrary to openness to the faith.

“This point about the educational responsibilities of the church, which in a sense is fairly obvious, was made on Nov. 29 in entirely general terms, [but] has been placed by various Italian media outlets in the context of the question raised in recent days of recognition of civil unions of homosexual couples.

“The stretch is completely self-evident, so much so that in some cases it seems the pope’s remark is being instrumentalized. To speak of an ‘opening to gay couples’ is paradoxical, because the pope’s comment is completely general and because even the small concrete example made by the pope in this regard (a young girl who was sad because the female fiancé of her mother doesn’t love her) alludes to the suffering of the child …

"The pope absolutely did not express himself on the debate that reopened in Italy only a month later, and whoever recalls the positions manifested by him in precedence in Argentina on the occasion of analogous debates knows well that they were completely different from those that some now seek surreptitiously to attribute to him.”


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African denounces Western elites pushing population control in his country

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By Ben Johnson

An op-ed in one of the leading publications in Uganda has denounced the promotion of IUD use and other long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in the nation as a colonialist form of population control.

An article published in New Vision, which bills itself as “Uganda's leading daily,” and which was posted online after being translated into broken English, contradicts the frequent claim that there is a desperate cry from Africans and brown people generally to provide the “unmet need” for contraception in the Third World.

Programs to convince African women to use the IUD or other forms of contraception “are projects of multibillion international agencies distributing them under the guise of helping the poor countries to control birth rates,” Stephen Wabomba wrote.

The use of the IUD leads to an increase in “the spread of STIs/HIV/AIDS, infections or increased rates of Pelvic Infection Diseases (PID),” and other maladies, he said. The IUD, which is inserted into the uterus and may work for years at a time, offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases and often does not prevent fertilization.

Western governments and NGOs are very much “aware of the side effect[s] but still force them on us through sensational marketing strategies by claiming that there is unmet need” for contraception “in Uganda,” he wrote.

He instead suggested the use of Natural Family Planning methods as the “best alternative” for married couples, as well as increased “funding of chastity and abstinence education in Uganda.”

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He called on every citizen of Uganda “to stand up and be counted as a lover of life” and become a “protector of the voiceless and defenseless unborn children being aborted every day.”

Wabomba is heeding his own advice by acting as director of the Pregnancy Help Center in Jinja, the second largest city in Uganda. The town of 87,000 is perched on the shores of Lake Victoria.


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UN tells Chile and Peru to legalize abortion

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By Guilherme Ferreira Araújo

On July 7 and 8, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) discussed Chile’s abortion laws and issued a report asking for liberalization of those laws.

According to the report, Chile “should establish exceptions to the general prohibition of abortion, contemplating therapeutic abortion and in those cases in which the pregnancy is a consequence of a rape or incest.”

Chile is one of the few countries that prohibits abortion in all cases.  So far, the country has managed to stand against internal and external pressure to legalize abortion.

But during her campaign, President Michele Bachelet promised to make the legalization of abortion a priority.  Indeed, last May she stated that her intention was to reopen the debate so that the government could approve therapeutic abortion before the end of this year.  The U.N. report also said that Chile “should make sure that reproductive health services are accessible to all women and adolescents."

One of the reasons the UN is using to pressure Chile’s government to change their abortion laws is the high number of clandestine abortions allegedly taking place in Chile. The UNHRC points to “official data” showing 150,000 annual clandestine abortions. However, not only is it impossible to corroborate that figure, but other sources show that this number could be exaggerated by a factor of 10.  According to an article published in the Chilean news publication, Chile B, the annual number of clandestine abortions in Chile may vary between 8,270 and 20,675.

Inflating the number of illegal abortions and maternal mortality is a common tactic of the pro-abortion movement’s effort to legalize the deadly practice. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), famously admitted the tactic after becoming pro-life.

“We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions,” he said. "The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300 and we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception."

Chile has also been used as a prime example that legalized abortion does not reduce maternal mortality.

A study published in 2012 by Plos One Institute found that since 1989 when Chile banned abortion, there has been an annual decrease in maternal death. That study, and others compiled and published by the Chilean MELISA Institute strongly challenge the myth that abortion is safe or even necessary to increase maternal health.

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Notwithstanding the empirical data, the United Nations is also hard at work to pressure Chile’s neighbor to the North, Peru, to liberalize its own abortion laws.  In the case of Peru it is the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that has issued the report, not the UNHRC.  CEDAW representatives examined Peru’s case on July 1 and suggested that Peru should legalize abortion in case of rape and severe abnormalities of the unborn child.

The organism suggested that the government eliminate all laws that punish women who abort and asked that Peru “urgently” adopt a law to fight violence against women, a notion often used as a euphemism for legalizing abortion.  

The CEDAW commission presented the conclusions of the report on July 22 and put special emphasis on the abortion issue. This happens despite the strong opposition to abortion in Peru. A recent survey showed that 79 percent of Peruvians support the Catholic Church’s position on abortion.

The CEDAW pressure on Peru is not new. In 2011, after the UN sanctioned Peru for denying an abortion to a teenager, Carlos Polo, Director of the Population Research Institute’s Latin American office, stated that the UN organism doesn’t have the right to force Peru to approve abortion.


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People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. Youtube screenshot
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I helped so many women abort their babies. Now how do I live with that?

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By Abby Johnson
Abby Johnson business card Planned Parenthood

I have many memories of my time with Planned Parenthood. I spent eight years of my life there. Some memories are good, some are not. But they are contained in my mind. It’s easy to forget them. I have forgotten so much about my time there in just four and a half short years. 

I found my old business card the other day. That is a tangible memory for me. It made me think of the day that I heard I had been promoted to direct the clinic. I was so happy…hugging and jumping up and down with my supervisor. She was so proud of me.

I thought about the day I moved everything into my new, big office. I put pro-choice stickers all over my file cabinet. I called my parents to share the news. They were, of course, proud of me, but hated my work. I can’t imagine how conflicted they were in their minds and hearts. Human resources sent me my new paperwork. There was my new title, my new and amazing salary. 

A few days later, my new business cards came. I remember putting them in my new business card holder on my desk. I filled up the business card holder that I kept in my purse. I had already become used to hearing myself say my new title.

I was proud of myself. I was proud of the hard work I had put in to earn that new title. I worked so many hours, sacrificed so much time from my family. But I knew it would be worth it. And now I had the job title to prove it.

I remember proudly passing out my new business cards to anyone that would take one. Being pro-choice was not just a movement to me; it was a lifestyle. I wholeheartedly embraced that lifestyle and loved being a part of it. 

These tangible reminders that I occasionally find are sometimes hard to work through. I remember receiving the records from my medication abortion. That tangible reminder of my past was difficult to manage. I look at my “Employee of the Year” award that I received from Planned Parenthood and think back to the night I received it. I ended up putting that old award on my desk as a reminder of where I came from and how much my life has changed. Seeing that plaque no longer brings back those tangible memories. 

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One of the reasons I was so taken aback when finding my old business card was not just because it was a reminder of how proud I had been to run an abortion clinic…something I find deplorable now. It was because of the things I took part in while I had that big title.

The memories of handing women small monetary checks in order to pay for their silence after we had left them with a serious infection after their abortion. The memories of watching women bleed out on our abortion table and being instructed not to call the ambulance because we didn’t want to let the pro-lifers know that we had a medical emergency. The memories I have of “joking” about the babies that died in our facility by abortion. The memories I have of training our abortion facility employees on the “normalcy” of abortion and how to convince women that abortion is the best choice for them.

Part of being a former abortion clinic worker is learning how to deal with your past sin. It may be the lady who came to your clinic for an abortion that you bump into at the store. It could be standing in front of your former abortion facility and remembering all of the damage your words and actions did to so many women. It could be finding that old business card that reminds you of the pride you felt when you became the director of an abortion facility. 

People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. 

One day I was watching the kid’s movie “Kung Fu Panda” with my daughter. In the film there is a wise, old tortoise named Oogway. He is talking to one of his students who is frustrated with his current situation. Oogway asks his student, “Do you know why today is called the present? Because it is a gift.”

That little line by an animated tortoise hit me like a ton of bricks. Today is a gift. There is absolutely nothing we can do with our past. And there is very little we can do to control our future. We live NOW. We serve NOW. We choose to move on from our past NOW. 

I don’t know what your past sins are. And I don’t know how frequently you are reminded of them. But as someone who has to face their past sins on pretty much a daily basis, I can tell you that you can be free from their burden. Being reminded of your past doesn’t mean that you have to live with constant grief. It simply means that you have been given the opportunity to transform your past into something positive…maybe you can help others make different choices than you did, maybe you can help others heal from the same struggles that you lived through. I don’t know what you are being called to do, but as the saying goes, “God can turn our mess into a message.” 

Carrying around past burdens doesn’t help us in any way. Know that you can be forgiven. Accept that forgiveness. Use your life to help others. The present is indeed a gift.

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