Steven Mosher

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Madagascar bishops and clergy complain about Catholic Relief Services’ activities

Steven Mosher
By Steven Mosher

MADAGASCAR, August 1, 2013 (Pop.org) – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) claims that allegations that it has used funding from American Catholics to distribute contraceptive and abortifacient drugs and devices in Madagascar are “simply false.” Yet these charges do not originate with PRI, but reflect the views of the bishops and clergy of Madagascar.

During our month-long investigation of CRS activities in Madagascar, our investigator interviewed a number of bishops and clergy in country, many of whom leveled serious charges against CRS. These ranged from promoting abortifacient contraception and a failure to hire Catholics, to wasteful spending habits and a refusal to work through the local ordinary. Here are a series of quotes from these interviews:

Promoting and Distributing Contraceptives and Abortifacient Drugs

“Even in my own diocese!  Without my knowledge,...they [CRS] were working on an artificial contraception project here...And, then, the Catholic people around here heard about it and said:  “What’s that all about?  That’s supposed to be ‘Catholic’??” So, there you have it:  They [CRS] were following the instructions of USAID.’” Archbishop Désiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina (Tamatave)

“Well, one thing for sure, you can go into the most remote, middle-of-nowhere place now and you’ll find it well stocked with abortifacient products.  And, you know, they [the community health workers under CRS] are giving the shots (depo provera) now!” Fr. Jean Jagu, Vicar at SMM Church in Brickaville

Failure to Hire Catholics

“I’m not sure why, and I don’t want to exaggerate, but maybe 70% of its staff, or even more – is not Catholic; they’re not Catholic… I do understand that about CRS’s commitments to the U.S. Government…but, the question that remains is:  Why are there so few Catholics on CRS’s staff…that I don’t understand so well.” Archbishop Désiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina (Tamatave)

“CRS has a very bad reputation here in the diocese: most of its employees are Protestants!”  Diocesan Priest

“The problem here in Madagascar is that CRS is staffed by Protestants.”  Fr. Jean Aimé, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Toamasina

“Maybe CRS’s participation in artificial-contraception-promotion programs is the reason that CRS mainly hires Protestants, who have no objection to family planning.  If CRS hired Catholics, some of those Catholics might object more strongly to CRS’s participation in that kind of thing.”  Fr. Liva, SMM, Pastor, St. Thérèse Parish, Tamatave

Refusal to Work Through the Local Bishop and Through the Local Church

“You know, CRS works outside of the Church.  It has the name ‘Catholic’ Relief Services but [laughing] doesn’t work, really, with Catholics.  Even the personnel of CRS are nearly all Protestant.”  Father Jean Joel, Director of Bureau de Coordination des Actions Sociales.

“We [the Montfort Fathers] might have the same name [Catholic] but we’re not in the same family.”  Fr. Jean Jagu,  Vicar at SMM Church in Brickaville

I had been here in Tamatave for already more than three years, and, maybe this was partly my fault, but, I didn’t even know where the CRS office in town was!  … So, when I got back to Tamatave I did go over to their office and, to my great surprise – have you seen it? – it’s a very big office and organization!...

Just this year CRS held a very big meeting here in town – a “capacity-building” meeting or something, at a hotel here – and I heard about it only accidentally, when I was up in the [town] of Diego, and somebody told me about the meeting to be held [in my own town].  I was embarrassed; I didn’t know anything about it.  Archbishop Désiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina (Tamatave)

“You never see ‘them’ [CRS] en brousse [in the bush]. They drive in…and then they disappear.”  Fr. Jean Jagu, Vicar at SMM Church in Brickaville

“That’s what really hurts me.  How to work with those CRS people?... But, you know, as soon as I speak of a ‘partnership’ with them, then everybody runs away and hides.”  Archbishop Odon Razanakolona of Antananarivo, [the Capital City of Madagascar]

“The archbishop recently told one parish not to bother applying to CRS for aid, because it wouldn’t work, and if it did, the reporting/accounting procedures would be impossible for the parish to fulfill.  He directed the parish to BUCAS [Bureau de Coordination des Actions Sociales] instead.”   Fr. Jean Noël Rakotondrazafy

Wasteful Spending Habits

“And then, the money that CRS gets:  a large part of it goes towards administration, while they make us work like dogs.  And then they collect two-thirds…and they give us crumbs.  They are the ones who need to explain:  Why do they receive such big salaries?”  Archbishop Odon Razanakolona

“They [CRS] were only good for providing big cars and big salaries and c[a]n’t see that they accomplished much.”  Fr. Jean Jagu

“Yes; one time, for ‘visibility’ purposes, they [CRS-Madagascar representatives] came in here [to my office] and asked me to put up this thing, this sign, with “USAID” on it; to put it up behind my desk.  I threw them the hell out of my office:  ‘Take your sign and your money out of here.  I don’t need it.  I’ve lived in my poverty; leave me in my poverty.’”  Archbishop Odon Razanakolona

CRS Claims at Odds with Views of Local Bishops

Compare the above quotes from Malagasy bishops and clergy, who have long experienced how CRS operates on the ground in their country, with what CRS says about its policies:

  • “As a pro-life organization, CRS programming does not include the promotion or distribution of artificial family planning or the distribution of abortifacients in any country in which we work.
  • “Committed to our Catholic identity, we review all organizations via a vetting process that begins with our local Bishops in-country.”
  • Serving the poor and the Church to bring God’s love to neighbors in need, while promoting the dignity of life from beginning to end, is a PRIVILEGE for CRS.”

The Catholic Church in Madagascar would have trouble accepting any of these claims. Local clergy distainfully refer to CRS as the so-called “Catholic” Relief Services, complain that it is violating Church teaching on the Life issues, and suggest that, instead of standing in solidarity with the local Church, it is instead practicing a kind of economic apartheid.

Malagasy Bishops Complained Privately to Carolyn Woo Last Year -- to no avail.

CRS claims that “we are open to and welcome correction, presented to us in the spirit of Christian charity and with the intention of helping us better animate the Gospel mission of serving the poorest and most vulnerable around the world.”

But it then goes on to attack PRI for airing the grievances of the Catholic Church in Madagascar: “In substance and tone, these recent unrelenting attacks do not manifest this spirit. They attempt to cause division in the Body of Christ. This is harmful to the Church and to the pro-life cause.”

The truth is somewhat different.

In September 2012 Carolyn Woo came to Madagascar at the request of the Madagascar bishops, who had been trying to arrange a meeting with the head of CRS for several years. At that meeting they told Dr. Woo of their concerns about CRS’ activities in their dioceses.  

Nothing happened.

It is thus no surprise that some months later, their patience exhausted, they shared their frustrations with CRS with us. Some months have gone by since then and we, too, have been disappointed by the lack of corrective action on the part of CRS.

CRS’ quarrel is not with Population Research Institute, but with the Catholic Church of Madagascar.

It is CRS’ activities there, in Madagascar, that are, to quote CRS’ own words, “caus[ing] division in the Body of Christ [and are] … harmful to the Church and to the pro-life cause.”

Catholic Relief Services, for the love of God and the unity of the Catholic Church, heal thyself!

This piece is republished with permission from the Population Research Institute.


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‘It’s a miracle’: Newborn girl survives two days after being abandoned in a field

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

The survival of a baby who was abandoned by her mother and left in a field for two days has been described as "a miracle" by the doctor attending the newborn girl.

"She had been left alone naked, and weighed less than a kilogram, in part because she was so severely dehydrated," said Doctor Barbara Chomik at the hospital in the northern Polish city of Elblag, according to a report from Central European News.

"It is a miracle that she survived under those conditions for so long. It is simply a miracle," Dr. Chomik said.

The report said that the child's mother, Jolanta Czarnecka, 30, of Ilawa in northeastern Poland, had concealed her pregnancy from friends and fellow workers, and had given birth in a field during a lunch break, then returned to work.

When blood was noticed on her clothing, the woman at first claimed she had accidentally given birth in the toilet and the baby had gone down the drain.

However, when investigation found no evidence supporting her claims, Czarnecka admitted to having given birth to the child in a nearby field and leaving her there.

When searchers found the child, two days after her birth, the little girl was dehydrated and covered with insects.

Czarnecka is facing charges of attempted murder for allegedly abandoning her child.

Czarnecka, who has entered a not guilty plea to the charges against her, could be sentenced to five years in prison if she is convicted.


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Because nothing says love quite like a whip and restraints, right? Shutterstock
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

To the Christians who think 50 Shades is all sorts of awesome: Please, stop and THINK

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By Jonathon van Maren

It’s pretty depressing when you realize that, in 2014, many people seem to think that destruction of human dignity is a small price to pay for an orgasm.

I suppose when I write a column about a book that just sold its 100 millionth copy I shouldn’t be surprised when I get a bit of a kickback. But I have to say—I wasn’t expecting hundreds of commenters, many saying they were Christian, to come out loudly defending the porn novel 50 Shades of Grey, often tastelessly interspersed with details from their own sex lives.

People squawked that we “shouldn’t judge” those who practice bondage, domination, sadism and masochism (BDSM), and informed me that “no one gets hurt” and that it “isn’t abuse” and said that it was “just fantasy” (as if we have a separate brain and body for fantasy).

Meanwhile, not a single commenter addressed one of the main arguments I laid out—that with boys watching violent porn and girls being socialized to accept violence and torture inside of a sexual relationship, we have created a toxic situation in which people very much are being hurt.

In response to the defenders of this trash, let me make just a few points.

  1. Not all consent is equal.

People keep trumpeting this stupid idea that just because someone consents to something or allows something to happen, it isn’t abusive.

But if someone consents to being beaten up, punched, slapped, whipped, called disgusting and degrading names, and have other things done to them that I will choose not to describe here, does that make it any less abusive? It makes it legal (perhaps, but it certainly doesn’t make it any less disgusting or violent.

Would you want your daughter to be in a relationship with Christian Grey? Would you want your son to turn into Christian Grey? If the answer is yes to either of those, someone should call social services.

Anyone who works with victims of domestic and sexual assault will tell you that just because someone permits something to happen or doesn’t extricate themselves from a situation doesn’t mean it isn’t, in fact, abuse. Only when it comes to sex are people starting to make this argument, so that they can cling to their fetishes and justify their turn-ons. Those women who defend the book because they think it spiced up their sex life are being incredibly selfish and negligent, refusing to think about how this book could affect other women in different situations, as well as young and impressionable girls.

In the words of renowned porn researcher and sociologist Dr. Gail Dines:

In his book on batterers, Lundy Bancroft provides a list of potentially dangerous signs to watch out for from boyfriends. Needless to say, Christian [Grey of 50 Shades of Grey] is the poster boy of the list, not only with his jealous, controlling, stalking, sexually sadistic behavior, but his hypersensitivity to what he perceives as any slight against him, his whirlwind romancing of a younger, less powerful woman, and his Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings. Any one of these is potentially dangerous, but a man who exhibits them all is lethal.

The most likely real-world ending of Fifty Shades of Grey is fifty shades of black and blue. The awful truth in the real world is that women who partner with a Christian Grey often end up hightailing it to a battered women's shelter with traumatized kids in tow. The less fortunate end up in graveyards.

  1. 50 Shades of Grey normalizes intimate partner violence…

…and sickeningly, even portrays it as romantic and erotic. Amy Bonomi, Lauren Altenburger, and Nicole Walton published an article on the impact of 50 Shades last year in the Journal of Women’s Health. Their conclusions are intuitive and horrifying:

While intimate partner violence (IPV) affects 25% of women and impairs health, current societal conditions—including the normalization of abuse in popular culture such as novels, film, and music—create the context to support such violence.

Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction, including: stalking (Christian deliberately follows Anastasia and appears in unusual places, uses a phone and computer to track Anastasia’s whereabouts, and delivers expensive gifts); intimidation (Christian uses intimidating verbal and nonverbal behaviors, such as routinely commanding Anastasia to eat and threatening to punish her); and isolation (Christian limits Anastasia’s social contact). Sexual violence is pervasive—including using alcohol to compromise Anastasia’s consent, as well as intimidation (Christian initiates sexual encounters when genuinely angry, dismisses Anastasia’s requests for boundaries, and threatens her). Anastasia experiences reactions typical of abused women, including: constant perceived threat (“my stomach churns from his threats”); altered identity (describes herself as a “pale, haunted ghost”); and stressful managing (engages in behaviors to “keep the peace,” such as withholding information about her social whereabouts to avoid Christian’s anger). Anastasia becomes disempowered and entrapped in the relationship as her behaviors become mechanized in response to Christian’s abuse.

Our analysis identified patterns in Fifty Shades that reflect pervasive intimate partner violence—one of the biggest problems of our time. Further, our analysis adds to a growing body of literature noting dangerous violence standards being perpetuated in popular culture.

  1. Really? Sadism?

I notice that commenters rarely break down what the acronym “BDSM” actually stands for: bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism. If they did, they could no longer make the repulsive claim that “love” or “intimacy” have anything to do with it.

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The definition of sadism is “enjoyment that someone gets from being violent or cruel or from causing pain, especially sexual enjoyment from hurting or punishing someone…a sexual perversion in which gratification is obtained by the infliction of physical or mental pain on others.”

As one of my colleagues noted, we used to send sadists to a therapist or to prison, not to the bedroom. And 100 million copies of this porn novel have been unleashed on our society informing people that getting off on hurting someone is romantic and erotic. It is a brutal irony that people who scream about water-boarding terrorists are watching and experimenting with sexual practices far more brutal. As one porn researcher noted, some online BDSM porn promotes practices and behaviors that would be considered unlawful under the Geneva Convention if they were taking place in a wartime context.

It seems the Sexual Revolutionaries have gone from promoting “safe sex” to “safe words”—just in case the pain gets too rough. And none of them seem to be volunteering information on just how a woman is supposed to employ a safe word with a gag or bondage headgear on.

But who cares, right? Just one more casualty on our culture’s new Sexual Frontier.

  1. “It’s just fiction and fantasy and has no effect on the real world!”

That’s total garbage and they know it. I’ve met multiple girls who were abused like this inside of relationships. Hotels are offering “50 Shades of Grey” packages replete with the helicopter and private suites for the proceedings. According to the New York Post, sales of rope exploded tenfold after the release of the book. Babeland reported that visits to the bondage section of their website spiked 81%, with an almost 30% increase in the sale of things like riding crops and handcuffs.

I could go on, but I won’t. As Babeland co-founder Claire Cavanah noted, “It’s like a juggernaut. You’d be surprised to see how very ordinary these people are who are coming in. The book is just an explosion of permission for them to try something new in the bedroom.”

  1. What does this book and the BDSM movement say about the value of women and girls?

I’d like the defenders of this book to try stop thinking with their nether-regions for just a moment and ask themselves a few simple questions: What does sadism and sexual torture (consensual or not) say to our culture about the value of girls? What does it say to boys about how they should treat girls? The youth of today are inundated with porn and sexually violent material—is nobody—nobody—at all worried about the impact this has on them? On the girls who are being abused by boys who think this is normal behavior—and think it is normal themselves?

Dr. Gail Dines relates that when speaking to groups of women who loved the book, they all grow deathly silent when she asks them two simple questions: Would you want your daughter to be in a relationship with Christian Grey? Would you want your son to turn into Christian Grey?

If the answer is yes to either of those, someone should call social services.

__

This book and the sadism it promotes are an assault on human dignity, and most of all an assault on the worth and value of girls and women. Please consider the impact you will have on your daughters and the vulnerable and confused people around you when you read and promote this book. Anastasia Steele is, thankfully, a fictional character. But real girls are facing these expectations and demands from a culture that elevates a sexual sadist to the level of a romantic hero. Ask yourselves if you want their “love” and “intimacy” to include sadism and domination, or real respect.

Because you can’t have both.

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Ryan T. Anderson

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New York Times reporter: ‘Anti-LGBT’ people ‘deserve’ incivility

Ryan T. Anderson
By Ryan Anderson

As I recounted Monday at The Daily Signal, The New York Times reporter Josh Barro thinks some people are “unworthy of respect.” Yesterday Barro doubled-down and tweeted back at me that “some people are deserving of incivility.” He argued that I am such a person because of my views about marriage policy. You can see the entire exchange on my twitter page.

What Josh Barro says or does doesn’t really affect me. I’m not a victim, and I’ll keep doing what I do. But incivility, accepted and entrenched, is toxic to a political community. Indeed, civility is essential for political life in a pluralistic society.

It also has deep roots.

The Hebrew Bible tells us that all people are made in the image and likeness of God and have a profound and inherent dignity. Sound philosophy comes to a similar conclusion: as rational beings capable of freedom and love, all human beings have intrinsic and inestimable worth. And so we should always treat people with respect and dignity—we should honor their basic humanity. We should always engage with civility—even when we sharply disagree with them. Faith and reason, the natural law and the divine law, both point to the same conclusion.

Just as I think the best of theology and philosophy point to the conclusion that we should always treat people with respect, so I think they show that marriage is the union of a man and a woman—and that redefining marriage will undermine the political common good.

The work that I’ve done for the past few years for The Heritage Foundation has been at the service of explaining why I think this to be the case. Bookish by nature, I thought the best contribution I could make to public life was to help us think about marriage. So while my early work after college was in philosophy and bioethics, and my graduate coursework was in the history of political philosophy, I put my dissertation about economic and social justice on hold so I could devote myself to this debate at this crucial time.

Along with my co-authors, a classmate of mine from Princeton and a professor of ours there, we set out to write a book making what we considered the best philosophical argument for what marriage is and why it matters. Our book seemed to help the Supreme Court think about the issue, as Justice Samuel Alito cited it twice. The reason I’ve written various and sundry policy papers for Heritage, and traveled across the country speaking on college campuses, and appeared on numerous news shows (including, of course, Piers Morgan) is that I know the only way forward in our national debate about marriage is to make the arguments in as reasonable and civil a spirit as possible.

Some people, like Barro, want to do everything they can to shut down this discussion. They want to demonize those who hold contrary viewpoints. They want to equate us with racists and claim we are unworthy of respect and ought to be treated with incivility. This is how bullies behave. In all of recorded history, ours is the first time where we can have open and honest conversations about same-sex attraction and marriage. This discussion is just beginning. It is nowhere near being over.

All our fellow citizens, including those identifying as LGBT, should enjoy the full panoply of civil rights—the free exercise of religion, freedoms of speech and press, the right to own property and enter into contracts, the right to vote and have a fair trial, and every other freedom to live as they choose, consistent with the common good.

Government redefinition of marriage, however, is not a civil right—nor will redefining marriage serve the common good. Indeed, redefining marriage will have negative consequences.

We make our arguments, in many fora, as transparently as possible. We welcome counterarguments. And we strive to treat all people with the dignity and respect they deserve as we carry on this conversation.

One of the most unfortunate parts of my exchange with Barro last night was his reaction toward those who identify as LGBT and aspire to lives of chastity. They freely choose to live by their conviction that sex is reserved for the marital bond of a husband and wife. Some of them also seek professional help in dealing with and perhaps even diminishing (not repressing) their same-sex sexual desires.

I have written in their defense and against government coercion that would prevent them from receiving the help they desire, as New Jersey and California have done. Barro describes my support for their freedom as “sowing misery…doing a bad thing to people…making the world worse.”

There really is anti-LGBT bigotry in the world. But Barro does a disservice to his cause when he lumps in reasonable debates about marriage policy and the pastoral care that some same-sex attracted persons voluntarily seek out as, in his words, “anti-LGBT.” If we can’t draw a line between real bigotry and reasonable disagreement, we’re not helping anyone.

This debate isn’t about restricting anyone’s personal freedom. However it goes, people will remain free to live their romantic lives as they choose. So too people who experience same-sex attraction but aspire to chastity should be free to lead their lives in line with their beliefs, and to seek out the help they desire. We can have a civil conversation about which course of action is best—but let’s leave aside the extremism.

Barro asks, “Why shouldn’t I call you names?” My answer is simple: you should not practice the disdain and contempt you claim to abhor.

All my life, I’ve been educated at left-leaning institutions. Most of my friends disagree with me about these issues. But they’re still friends. And their feedback has made me a better person.

My final tweet to Barro is where I still remain committed: “people on all sides of LGBT debates and marriage debates need to find a way to discuss these issues without demonizing anyone.”

Reprinted with permission from the Daily Signal, where you can find Ryan Anderson's Twitter exchange with Barro.


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