Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Vatican, others confirm existence of gay scandal report: pope sets new transition rules

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, February 25, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – It is three days to the end of the pontificate of Benedict XVI and it is nearly impossible to keep on top of the rumours and speculation whirling around the Internet over his resignation and the upcoming conclave. The whole world wants to know what is really going on. Unfortunately, the real scope and parameters of what is currently unfolding will likely never be completely known. The best we can do is careful examination of what we do know, a judicious piecing together of the available facts.  

First we had Friday’s blockbuster story by La Repubblica on the 300-page report by three senior cardinals allegedly detailing the activities of a homosexual cabal, blackmail and manipulation of Vatican officials and possible financial misdeeds. Many have said that they believe the whole story is a hoax. Others have justifiably questioned how any journalist could have known anything about the report’s contents, given that there is supposed to be only one copy and that is in the pope’s private safe.

In our coverage on Friday, I was careful to use words and phrases like “allegedly” and “La Repubblica says”. It would have been impossible to decline to report at least that the story had been circulated because it was receiving such prominence, but we wanted to be cautious. Veteran Vaticanista Robert Moynihan, founder of Inside the Vatican magazine, is among those in Rome who have been asking these questions. This weekend, he speculated that, while it seems beyond possibility that any journalist could have actually seen the document, it is certainly plausible that information about it could have been leaked.

It has been said that it could not possibly have been leaked because the only people who have seen it are the three cardinals and the pope. But, Moynihan points out, there are also the people interviewed. These are people who live and work closely together, and it is certainly possible that they would have spoken to each other, or possibly to their families, about the questions they were asked and the answers they gave.

I sent the following email to Moynihan Saturday:

Robert,

You're forgetting another possible source of information.

A 300 page book, about 90,000 words, does not come into existence without at least one person doing the clerical work. It does not seem likely that three aged cardinals would be very fast typists or familiar enough with office equipment, let alone computers to do this themselves. La Repubblica does not say, but we can probably assume that it was not a hand-written manuscript.

Someone had to draft the questions, print the papers, collate the answers and produce the final report. This is work for at least two or three secretarial people aside from the cardinals. Then there are the cardinals' aids and office staff and their personal staff. All these people could have gained some access to the papers before they were collated. And certainly the secretarial people who put the final report together would have known quite a lot about its contents, if not, as you say, the whole thing.

“True dat,” he replied.

Today, Moynihan wrote of a conversation he had with Ignazio Ingrao, the journalist who broke the original story in the Italian magazine Panorama. Ingrao admitted that he had not seen the document nor talked with the cardinals.

“My work was a careful work of reconstruction,” Ingrao said. “I had been interested in the dossier for a long time, of course, and when the Pope resigned on February 11, my interest only increased. I very systematically sought out people in the Curia I thought might have been interviewed, and I spoke to them, one by one.” These 15 people gave him an outline of understanding what the questioning had been about.

About the “gay lobby” that his article said exists in the curia, Ingrao was definite. The theme “emerged because a few of the people who were questioned by the cardinals told me that the questions that they were asked were about this aspect…It was clear.

“The cardinals were specifically interested in this point. I heard this from several sources. I did not consider anything valid if I heard it from one source only. I required at least two or three sources telling me the same thing. If I heard it from two or more sources, if my sources confirmed one another, I knew I was hearing something with a basis in fact.”

The first Vatican response was to “neither confirm nor deny” anything about the cardinals’ work, and issued a media release rebuking media outlets for making things up. But today they changed their tune. The Secretariat of State issued a statement saying, “It is regrettable that as we draw closer to the time of the beginning of the conclave … that there be a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions.”

“If in the past it was the so-called superpowers, namely States, who sought to condition the election of the Pope in their favour, today there is an attempt to apply the weight of public opinion, often on the basis of assessments that fail to capture the spiritual aspect of this moment in the life of the Church.”

The question about whether such a report exists at all, however, was settled this morning when the Vatican issued a statement that, while not saying much in itself, at least confirmed that La Repubblica got the basic facts right. There is such a report, created by the cardinals named and Benedict has decided to keep its contents secret and give it only into the hands of the next pope. The brief statement also adds a new name to consider in the puzzle of how the information could have been leaked to the press, that of Commission Secretary, Fransican Fr. Luigi Martignani.

Then followed a story by La Stampa’s usually well-informed Vatican Insider magazine that the document’s contents would be revealed to the cardinals in the conclave. Today this was contradicted by Fr. Lombardi at a press conference who said that the report would be exclusively released into the hands of the new pope. At the same time, further hints were offered that the Italian media reports were on the right track. A statement was read from Pope Benedict thanking the three cardinals for their work, saying that the report reveals “the limits and imperfections given the human component of all institutions”.

A little-understood aspect of Vatican politics, that is widely known in journalistic circles in Rome, is that Fr. Lombardi, the head of the Vatican’s official press machine, is hampered by difficulties with “access”.

It is one of the peculiarities of this pontificate that, unlike his predecessor Joaquin Navarro-Valls who spoke privately to Pope John Paul II regularly, Fr. Lombardi does not enjoy that kind of privileged access to Benedict. A fact that were it more widely known would have gone a long way to explaining some of the Jesuit mathematician’s more embarrassing public gaffes over the last eight years. It also helps us understand why the public statements of the Vatican press office and those of the various dicasteries are sometimes so different.

One of the strongest hints that the homosexual subculture in the Church is causing concern in high places is a statement from the cardinal archbishop of Sydney who called on the Vatican press office to respond to the report in “some constructive way.”

Cardinal George Pell, who spoke just before flying out to Rome on Friday, said, “I know nothing of the content of the report but whatever it contains it is clear that significant reforms are needed within the Vatican bureaucracy.” The Australian said he praised Benedict for his “courage for commissioning such a report”.

At the same time, questions and confusion over when, exactly, the conclave will start are being sorted out by the well-prepared Benedict. He issued a special motu proprio today saying that in case of a papal abdication, the required waiting time can be waived and the conclave date can be moved up.

Under the current rules we would have had to wait until March 15; now the cardinals can decide to get on with things a little more promptly, since there will be no need, deo volente, for a papal lying-in-state or funeral. Modern transportation has made it easier for far-flung cardinals to make it and a good number of them are already in town.

The voting cardinals will start the “congregations,” the preparation meetings after March 1, the beginning of the “sede vacante” or empty seat period, and Fr. Lombardi said that the decision on when the voting will start may still take some days after that.

The same document extends and strengthens the required oath of secrecy to appoint technicians to assist the cardinals “in assuring that no audio-visual equipment for recording or transmitting has been installed by anyone in the areas mentioned, and particularly in the Sistine Chapel itself, where the acts of the election are carried out.”

Significantly, Benedict has imposed an automatic excommunication (latae sententiae) on anyone violating the secrecy of the conclave.

A last interesting development from the weekend is the news that Benedict has also ordered the old oath of loyalty restored, to be sworn individually to the new pontiff by all members of the College of Cardinals. Monsignor Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, known as a strong supporter of Benedict’s liturgical reform, told L’Osservatore Romano that each cardinal present at the pope’s first Mass will come forward and offer his public “act of obedience”.

This is a change from the rules in place in 2005, when instead of the ancient ritual of oath-giving, 12 people were chosen to represent “all Catholics” three cardinals, a bishop, a diocesan priest, a transitional deacon, male and female religious and laity. Monsignor Marini said Pope Benedict personally approved the changes February 18th

Slowly the apparent chaos is coalescing into a pattern and it is confirming what most of the people I have talked to believe, that Pope Benedict is acting in a concerted and organised manner, almost as though he planned it all. He knows what he is doing.

The idea is also becoming more firmly dismissed that Benedict was reacting to the cardinals’ secret document; that he saw its contents and was so shocked and horrified that he sat down and in a kind of despair, penned a resignation letter. Such a suggestion shows that those making it know nothing of this man whose self-appointed primary task during his pontificate has been to clean up the “filth” that he identified even before it started. And before that, he sat up in his office in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for over 20 years and received information from around the world, as well as from his own back yard, on what was going on.

Far more likely is that Benedict commissioned the report as part of his larger work, that he was fully aware before he read it of the general parameters of the corruption, its nature and scale.

Indeed, two weeks after the announcement that so shocked and disturbed the Catholic world, two weeks of doing nothing but pore over news reports, blog posts, emails and messages, of talking with people in Rome and via Skype around the world, it seems that the existence of this report, as well as the other changes and items on Benedict’s to-do list, is one of the most cheering pieces of news we’ve had recently.

It indicates that the corruption is not the whole story, that Pope Benedict is battling to the very eleventh hour, and still has the situation firmly in hand, and that the work of his pontificate will not end on February 28th

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A protester rallies against Hobby Lobby, protesting against the Supreme Court decision Dan Holm/Shutterstock
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DNC chairwoman exhorts constituents to boycott local Hobby Lobby store

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

The Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision was nearly two months ago, but the issue as hot as ever, as was demonstrated yesterday when Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz, D-FL, urged constituents to boycott a Hobby Lobby store in her district.

In a press conference one lot away from the Hobby Lobby location in Davie, which opened in April, Wasserman-Schultz said that she wanted "people to know that this Hobby Lobby is here and they should vote with their purses and their pocketbooks, and women should not shop here."

"If you didn’t know this Hobby Lobby was here before, know it now and don’t shop here. They don’t deserve women’s business because they are the ones that all across the country have made it harder for women to get access to birth control,” she said.

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Wasserman-Schultz said that Hobby Lobby's corporate ownership "doesn’t support its employees" and "wants to be able to get in the personal business of their employees and make health care decisions and replace their own values, replace their employees’ health care decisions, with their values…."

She also criticized the Supreme Court's late June decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, which had sued the federal government over the Obama administration's HHS Mandate.

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, say it violates their conscience to pay for coverage for the four abortifacients and potential abortifacients that the mandate required them to cover.

"The Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case was not only disappointing, it was dangerous," said the Democrat. "No boss should have the right to dictate and employee’s health decisions because [they] don’t belong in the bedrooms, doctor’s offices or pharmacies of their employees.

"A woman and her doctor know what’s best for their body. Not an insurance company. Not a politician. And certainly not a manager at a Hobby Lobby."

The Supreme Court's decision allowed closely held corporations to not fund coverage of contraception or abortion drugs and devices.

Wasserman-Schultz's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Through a spokesperson, the Green family declined to comment about the Congresswoman's statements. 

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America is rejecting abortion because pro-lifers are having more children: study

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By Kirsten Anderson

According to a new Northwestern University study, American attitudes about abortion are trending more conservatively than other contentious social issues, a phenomenon the authors credit to the simple fact that pro-lifers have more kids.

“We find evidence that the abortion attitudes have lagged behind a liberalizing trend of other correlated attitudes,” the authors wrote. Using GSS data collected between 1977 and 2010, “We test[ed] the hypothesis that the comparatively high fertility of pro-life individuals has led to a more pro-life population.”

The authors wrote: “Support for abortion rights has turned flat after a period of increase following Roe v. Wade, and in recent years there are even indications of a reversal toward more restrictive attitudes. This U-turn is evinced particularly among younger cohorts, and is happening despite liberalizing trends in several ostensibly related issue domains.”

The authors speculated that the reason for the increase in pro-life attitudes among young people is that their parents had more children than their pro-abortion counterparts. When they examined the data, they found that pro-life individuals had, on average, 27 percent more children than those who considered themselves “pro-choice.”

Not only that, but pro-life parents appear to be much more likely to pass their views on to their children. The researchers found that the younger generation’s pro-life shift was too strong to be blamed solely on differences in fertility – meaning children of pro-abortion parents are rejecting their parents’ views.

“[E]ither pro-life beliefs are always more faithfully transmitted than pro-choice ones; or, there has been a cultural shift towards more pro-life beliefs that is being reflected in the parent-child correlations,” the authors wrote.

The study concluded that if it wasn’t for the higher fertility rate among pro-life people, the nation as a whole would favor abortion by about five percentage points more than it does currently – and researchers predict the pro-life trend will continue.

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“Taken together, these findings suggest that fertility has had at least some part in leading the population in a more pro-life direction over time,” the authors wrote. “Further investigation into this pattern indicates that not only are abortion attitudes associated with fertility, but in proportional terms—which is what matters for cultural change—the gap is widening.”

“Fertility has declined for both pro-choice and pro-life groups over the past 30 years, but fertility has declined far less markedly for pro-life individuals,” they added. “Whereas pro-[life] individuals born before 1940 were only having about 1.2 children per one child born to a pro-choice parent, this ratio has grown to over 1.5 for those born in the mid to late 1970s. This pattern suggests that future cohorts may place an even stronger demographic drag on the liberalization of abortion attitudes.”

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A declaration that PP is an 'enemy of the Church' would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication. American Life League
Lisa Bourne

New campaign asks Pope Francis to declare Planned Parenthood an ‘enemy of the Church’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

The Catholic pro-life organization American Life League (ALL) is launching a campaign calling for the Catholic Church to declare Planned Parenthood an “enemy of the Church.”

Using prayer and education, ALL’s Defend the Family campaign seeks to expose the nation’s largest abortion provider for contribution to the destruction of human lives, as well as the family. 

The campaign, said Jim Sedlack, vice-president of ALL, is quite simply “a way of calling attention to the fact that this is a very bad organization.”

“Planned Parenthood is attacking the family, either by killing preborn children or by robbing the souls of the older children,” he said. 

A declaration that PP is an “enemy of the Church” would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication.

Such a declaration would not be unprecedented. Popes in the past have identified and condemned organizations that posed a grave threat to the Church, most recently Pope Pius XII in 1949 with Communism and Pope Clement XII in 1738 with Freemasonry.

While specifics would depend on the wording of the Papal pronouncement, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews if the Holy Father makes the declaration there would be no mistaking its intent.

“When the pope makes the declaration it becomes crystal clear,” Sedlak said. “There’ll be no shades of gray, it’ll be black and white, it’ll be clear to the world.”

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'Now is the time'

There are still people who are not fully aware of the extent of the societal damage inflicted by Planned Parenthood, said Sedlak, including members of the Church hierarchy. He said it’s important to emphasize the truth of what the abortion giant does.

“That’s why we’re focusing on the enemy,” said Sedlak. “When people really stop and focus on Planned Parenthood, they realize it’s the enemy.”

ALL cites Planned Parenthood’s targeting of children to sexualize them as a major cause of the destruction of the family and a fundamental reason for the Defend the Family campaign.

“They really push for getting young people into lives of sexual sin,” Sedlak said. “Young people who aren’t pulled into sexual activity do not provide a cent of income to Planned Parenthood, but young people who are pulled in provide millions of dollars to the Planned Parenthood empire.”

ALL compiled a comprehensive report on Planned Parenthood titled, “The Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood,” as part of the Defend the Family campaign.

“The document builds the case,” said Sedlak. “Why Planned Parenthood, why now is the time.”

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that for its part Planned Parenthood has always recognized that its greatest enemy is the Catholic Church, even working to have the Church lose its status at the UN.

“They fight anybody who wants to take sex away from the kids in any way possible,” Sedlak said. “That’s one reason why Planned Parenthood is the sex mafia.”

And when Sedlak uses the term “mafia,” he means it literally, pointing out that the Holy Father condemned the mafia in his June 21, 2014, homily in Calabria, Italy, denouncing its, “Adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

“Planned Parenthood kills far more people than the mafia,” Sedlak said.

Also underscoring the need for the Vatican to act on declaring Planned Parenthood an enemy of the Church, is the convening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family this October in Rome, which will lead into the general synod in 2015.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that these, along with the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, are events that ALL will rally around to raise awareness of the Defend the Family campaign.

Preliminary response to the campaign has been very positive, he said.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that the “Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood” report was so well received upon initial presentation to Vatican officials, that ALL was asked to translate it into three more languages.

“The support we’ve gotten from talking to bishops has been overwhelming,” Sedlak said.

Prayer is priority #1

The Defend the Family campaign consists first and foremost of prayer, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews.

“Our approach is that we need prayer support,” he said. “The only way that we’re going to succeed is through prayer to the Blessed Mother; the only way it will succeed is if God wants it to succeed.”

Participants are asked to say regular prayers after Mass, to offer prayers for the pope and to initiate communication with local bishops about the dangers that Planned Parenthood poses to the faithful.

Sedlak also added that The Defend the Family campaign is for everyone, not just Catholics.

He said pro-life supporters of all faith traditions are invited to contact ALL for assistance in encouraging their religious denomination or church leader to declare Planned Parenthood an enemy.

In addition to prayers for the campaign, ALL is asking people to sign and submit ALL’s Declaration of Encouragement to the Holy Father, enroll in the Spiritual Bouquet for the Holy Father and to share ALL resources on Planned Parenthood.

Information, links and resources are available on the campaign website, defendthefamily.org.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that ALL is giving the success of the Defend the Family campaign up to God.

“This is all happening in God’s time, and so far he’s been blessing us mightily,” Sedlak said. “And we’re going to go wherever God takes us.”

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