Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

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Vatican gives ultimatum to wayward Catholic university: conform to Church law by April 8

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
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February 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Vatican has issued an ultimatum to a Peruvian Catholic university known for its deviation from Church teaching, giving it a deadline of April 8 to change its statutes to bring it into conformity with Church law.

Although the Holy See’s communique on the matter, displayed on its website, does not state what the consequences would be should the institution fail to comply, various Peruvian publications and broadcasters are reporting that the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP) would be required to jettison the words “Pontifical” and “Catholic” from its name.

The ultimatum follows months of talks between Vatican officials and the wayward institution, which employs professors that speak against the Catholic Church’s moral doctrines regarding abortion and homosexuality.

The Holy See ordered the PUCP to change its statutes in July of last year to submit to Church control after decades of resistance, and is now indicating that it is no longer willing to wait.

Following a meeting this week between the university’s rector, Marcial Rubio Correa, and the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Tarcicio Bertone, “the Most Eminent Secretary of State has notified Doctor Rubio Correa that the statutes of the PUCP must be regularized as soon as possible, conforming them to the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, for the good of the same PUCP and the Church in Peru,” Vatican Radio reported yesterday.

“Given the evident importance of safeguarding the Catholic identity of the University, the Most Eminent Secretary of State has therefore asked that the competent academic authorities present, before the next April 8, Easter Sunday, the statutes with the amendments required of the university on the 16th of July, 2011, for their approval,” the report added.

In addition to losing its Catholic and Pontifical titles, the PUCP could lose far more, according to canon lawyer Fernán Altuve. It could also lose the inheritance that was left to the institution in the 1940s on condition that it function as a Catholic institution.

“If you’re not a Catholic university and you don’t have the recognition of the Vatican, you cannot use that for the purposes of Catholic education. So, you have to return those properties,” Altuve told the Peruvian daily El Cormercio in a recent interview. The property, he said, would therefore “revert to the Archdiocese of Lima.”

University defiant

Despite the warning, the University’s administration is maintaining a defiant tone, citing the decision of the University Assembly, the “highest instance of (university) government” last September 23, “to not approve the modifications to the statutes of the University, because they go against our autonomy.”

“Our university is regulated by the Political Constitution of Peru, by Peruvian legislation, and its statutes,” the PUCP adds.

The Church’s Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae requires the university to operate in conformity with the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. It states, “In ways appropriate to the different academic disciplines, all Catholic teachers are to be faithful to, and all other teachers are to respect, Catholic doctrine and morals in their research and teaching. In particular, Catholic theologians, aware that they fulfill a mandate received from the Church, are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church as the authentic interpreter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.”

The same Constitution requires a majority of the faculty to consist of faithful Catholics, and mandates that the university provide students with “formation in moral and religious principles and the social teachings of the Church.” Despite the PUCP’s “Catholic” title, its administration appears reluctant to accept such principles.

“The university supports the Church, but respects diversity. There are diverse ways of living Catholicism. We have a more social theology, and this is disliked in the most conservative sectors,” Marcial Rubio, the university’s rector, said last year as the conflict began.

“They want to intervene when it is believed that a professor doesn’t have a moral conduct that they consider correct,” the university’s Vice-Rector for Research, Pepi Patron Costa, told the BBC last year. “It is direct interference. For certain sectors of the Catholic Church we are not sufficiently Catholic.”

Students are also organizing protests, claiming that the whole affair is nothing more than an attempt by Lima’s archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani to seize the university for himself. Although the statutes of the university technically recognize him as Grand Chancellor, his attempts to bring the PUCP into conformity with Church law have been repeatedly rebuffed, and he is not permitted to pick the rector under current statutes. The Vatican is seeking to restore his right to do so, which was taken from the archbishop of Peru in the 1970s.

“Promoters of abortion and gender ideology”

Carlos Polo, a Peruvian Catholic who heads the Latin America office of the Population Research Institute, and who received his degree in Social Anthropology from the PUCP in 1987, told LifeSiteNews that the university has been the stomping ground of radical leftists for decades.

“Many of the principal promoters of abortion and gender ideology in Peru work in the University or in the institutes that depend on it.  Many of the NGOs with this anti-life ideology receive financing from the University or receive its academic support,” said Polo.

“The attitude of the authorities of the University is absolutely contrary to the spirit of Catholicism. They have ignored the request to reformulate their statutes that was made for the first time almost 30 years ago through the (Papal) Nuncio,” Polo said.

“They publicly insult Cardinal Cipriani, who is the Great Chancellor of the University and they promote protests that are injurious to the students against the Cardinal and against the Catholic Church in general, and they have misinformed the public, repeating that their statutes are in accordance with Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Today, following the ultimatum of Rome, it is clear that they were far from the truth.”

The firm actions of the Holy See with regard to the PUCP may signal a new approach to Catholic universities worldwide, many of which rejected episcopal oversight and Catholic doctrine in the chaos of the 1970s. Today, many universities with “Catholic” in their titles play host to professors who actively work to subvert Church teachings, especially those regarding the right to life and sexual morality.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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