All articles from December 24, 2014

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LifeSiteNews co-founder Steve Jalsevac with his wife Bonnie and their eight children
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One really big, wonderful family

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By Steve Jalsevac

No, the title does not refer to my wonderful, incredible wife and our 8 children and 12 grandchildren, although we are always encountering people who gasp when we tell them our family size (it’s not really that big in the circles we travel in). However, it is indeed a wonderful family that I have been blessed with. Every Christmas, the reality of that blessing especially hits home. What treasure beyond price they all are!

The “really, big wonderful family” is the large network of pro-life leaders and grassroots individuals, very many of whom I have personally encountered and instantly connected with over the years. It always seems as though they have been part of my extended family. It has been astonishing, and yet, so natural and a great blessing that comes from persevering in this work.

During the early years of involvement in pro-life, one of my tasks was to record conference talks and then produce thousands of audio tapes right afterwards so that those who attended could take them home and share the talks with others. Bonnie and the children were all involved in this side mission.

A very special benefit for all of us was the frequent opportunity to meet the world’s most amazing pro-life individuals. Many of those encounters are never forgotten.

I especially recall a 1992 conference in Toronto during which we recorded 52 talks and sold over 4,000 cassettes. I was a dish rag after that one from all the non-stop running around for 3 days. But, the memorable, personal encounters with many of the speakers more than compensated for all the stresses.

There was the great John Cardinal O’Connor of New York, who among many other things, founded the Sisters of Life. He was picked up from the airport in my passenger van and I talked to him in the vestibule before the conference Mass. This thoroughly pro-life cardinal was a joy to have those few days - non-assuming and always cheerful, with a great sense of humor.

After a typically humorous Irish-Catholic introduction to his address to clergy that weekend, the cardinal gave a sober, unusually frank wake-up call to the large group of priests, deacons and bishops present. He noted "the inordinate contempt for human life that is developing all over the world" and that "we are in enormously grave danger of becoming a culture of death as has never been known before in history." He emphasized, "this is the key issue"and "I am not sure that all of us in the Church have grasped that reality." He concluded by noting many signs of hope.

As a Christmas gift to LifeSite readers I include below the audio recording of that historical talk by Cardinal O'Connor at the Toronto conference. I am sure many will find it a special treat to listen to such an unusually powerful and insightful presentation from a Catholic prelate on an issue dear to all LifeSite readers.

I was also able, several times before and during the conference, to talk with Dr. Jerome Lejeune from France, the discoverer of the gene for Down syndrome and a truly saintly man dedicated to finding a cure. There is currently an ongoing cause for formal sainthood for Dr. Lejeune. He was someone I can never forget having met.

Also at the conference were Dr. Bernard Nathanson (Founder of the US National Abortion Rights Action League who I have recorded several times), renowned philosopher and author, Dr. Peter Kreeft of Boston (also recorded him several times), Notre Dame Law Professor Charles Rice, American Life League head Judie Brown, Joseph Scheidler, National chairman of the UK pro-life group Life, Professor John Scarisbrick, Dr. Robert Sassone (world population expert), Dr. Robert Walley (Matercare International), the atheist, liberal, but thoroughly pro-life New Yorker magazine writer Nat Hentoff, and many others – who each seemed to be part of my family. They were all exceptionally fine, courteous, friendly and deeply committed pro-life warriors.

Another time I interviewed the late New Jersey Bishop Austin Vaughan, of Operation Rescue fame, at my home where he had lunch with my wife and me. Vaughan was another one of the most humble, quietly heroic and truly saintly pro-life heroes I have ever met.

Bishop Vaughan, with the permission of his overseer, Cardinal O’Connor, had been arrested numerous times, and was treated roughly on some of those occasions, for doing nothing more than quietly praying while totally peacefully blocking access to an abortion death center.  Imagine if more, or even just a few, bishops did what he did.

The late Father Richard John Neuhaus of First Things, was an inspiration.  I can never forget, while recording one of his always powerful talks, his proclamation, at a large conference to all the older pro-life leaders looking to the new, younger leaders to take over. He emphatically stated, ‘You old people, you can’t retire, you’re in this for the duration, you can’t quit, and you’re here until God calls you to your eternal reward.’

Those of us with much experience must continue to be involved and mentor the younger activists until the day we die. That is how crucial Neuhaus saw the great, worldwide battle over the sacredness of life. He knew the importance of the hard-learned, long experience of the veterans which the young needed to protect them from their natural, trusting naivete and inexperience in dealing with the raw evils of the Culture of Death. He followed his own advice. St. John Paul II also frequently urged us to understand the grave need for intense involment in this work and see it as the most important work in the world.

Pope Benedict has had a similar view of the gravity of the dangers of the death movement for the world and the all-important role of the laity and the rest of the Church in this great, worldwide battle of good against evil.

Then there were deeply personal, moving interviews in our home backyard or in the basement recreation room and a meal at our house with Julia Holcomb (Mother of Steven Tyler’s aborted baby) and later with Reggie Littlejohn (Women’s Rights Without Frontiers). There was another moving interview with Reggie outside the US Capital building regarding her two new daugthers from China. Again, these were like visits with close relatives, so quickly and naturally did we connect.

I had the honor of meeting and shaking hands with Cardinal Ratzinger before he became Pope and was struck with his gentleness and natural friendliness. There were a few encounters with Mother Teresa, a tiny, incredible powerhouse of a woman and encounters with Pope John Paul II. There have been numerous private, memorable meetings with leading pro-life bishops of all ranks, a few papal nuncios and various faithful Vatican officials.

Contrary to what you might think from Pope Francis’ recent, highly critical address to the Vatican Curia, there are numerous, faithful and exceptionally dedicated Vatican officials deserving of praise and support such as Cardinal Arinze, Cardinal Burke and Rev. Wojciech Giertych. At the same time, we realize there are also many others deserving the rebukes that Francis gave to them.

Just recently I met for the first time and interviewed Thomas Jacobson, Executive Director of Global Life Campaign. I genuinely felt privileged to meet with this wonderful person, so totally dedicated to helping pro-life nations to preserve their good laws protecting children in the womb. He too was instant family.

These few names barely scratch the surface of a full list of all members of the pro-life family that I have been blessed to encounter and to often have ongoing relationships with over the past over 30+ years. I dearly do respect and love them all. They are heroes in our corrupt culture.

LifeSite has a policy of trying to report on and support the good work of every person and organization truly dedicated to defending life and the family. They are our family.

We understand that for all of them, as it is for us, this work is frequently a trial and often has a significant personal price for such commitment. No one can continue to do such difficult work and endure so many losses and seeming failures (there are also victories of course) without being fully committed to it and trusting that God is always in charge no matter what does or does not happen.

Few can persevere without a solid faith life. They are therefore brothers and sisters in Christ, or in the case of persons such as our dear friend Rabbi Yehuda Levin, brothers who fully love the Lord and their fellow man.

The earthly rewards are minimal. Pro-life, pro-family leaders need all the moral and other support that they can get, even when they might hold opposing views on strategy or if we don’t entirely agree with how they are doing things – as long as their tactics are peaceful and not overly critical of or undermining the efforts of other pro-life, pro-family organizations and leaders.

What does this all have to do with Christmas? I felt compelled to write this as my Christmas reflection. I guess that is because it is about love -- Christ’s and all these leaders’ love for all persons, especially the most vulnerable and innocent, as was the Christ Child on Christmas Eve.

Contrary to what many opponents or critics state, I believe the pro-life, pro-family movements, which to me are really one movement, is the greatest movement of love on the planet – next to authentic Christianity itself.

It usually involves personal sacrificial giving for years for little, if any earthly return. It involves often enduring much hostility, ridicule, slander, painful misunderstandings, betrayals and repeated seeming failures. But, there is great joy in the many supportive relationships and the satisfaction in doing this work that we all know is desired and blessed by God.

This work is often continued by individuals, as per Fr. Neuhaus' instruction, to their last breath. 

Pro-life work is especially supported by the humble and poor in spirit lacking earthly treasures or high social status, who give much of what little they have to save the most defenseless. Many pro-life activists have experienced abortion, other personal suffering and conversion and therefore identify with the vulnerable unborn child and exploited mothers.

This movement is closely identified with the life of the Master, Jesus Christ, who gave everything of Himself for us. If only many more understood this connection. It would be so very good for them, and for us to have them as part of our very special family of love.

I can’t imagine doing anything other than this work. As we often say, the rewards are out of this world.

Editor's Note: As has been our custom for over a decade, LifeSiteNews is again this year publishing Christmas reflections by our staff. For a full listing of this year's reflections, click here.

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Judge: Idaho must pay $400,000 to lawyers who defeated state’s gay ‘marriage’ ban

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By Dustin Siggins

A federal judge has ordered Idaho to pay $400,000 to the lawyers who successfully overturned the state's marriage protection law earlier this year.

Magistrate Judge Candy Dale rejected the position of Idaho Gov. C.L. Otter that an award totaling just over $200,000 was enough for the six lawyers who oversaw and argued the case against Idaho. According to Dale, the case's complexity justified the price, which Otter said was caused by the lawyers charging too much and taking too long.

Judges sometimes require reparations by defendants, especially in civil rights cases. Many homosexual advocates consider same-sex "marriage" a civil rights issue, as do a number of judges.

Idaho is not alone in seeing financial penalties. South Carolina may be forced to pay almost $154,000 in light of a judgment against its marriage law, as well.

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Supreme Court may take up same-sex ‘marriage’ issue on January 9

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By Kirsten Anderson

After rejecting multiple states’ pleas to review a rash of federal court decisions striking down bans on same-sex “marriage,” the United States Supreme Court has agreed to consider reviewing a more recent decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld such bans in Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky. The court will also consider whether to review a district court ruling upholding Louisiana’s ban.

Most judicial observers believe the high court previously declined to hear arguments on the same-sex “marriage” issue because at the time, there was no difference of opinion among the various appellate courts – all had ruled in favor of redefining marriage to include homosexual couples.  Now that the 6th Circuit has issued a contradictory opinion, however, the high court must decide whether to settle the dispute.  The justices will meet January 9 to decide whether they will do so.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, a Republican, has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court asking them to wait until Idaho’s case comes before them to make any decisions.  Otter said he believes Idaho’s marriage law – which was struck down by the 9th Circuit and is currently pending a rehearing – is the “best vehicle” for deciding the same-sex “marriage” issue once and for all, because it addresses “the marriage-litigation wave in all respects.”

According to Otter, the Idaho case includes the question of both in-state marriages and recognition of out-of-state marriages, challenges the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ application of a heightened standard of scrutiny for discrimination based on sexual preference, and specifically addresses religious liberty issues.

Warning the justices of “the enormous societal risks accompanying a genderless-marriage regime,” Otter wrote, “Common sense and a wealth of social-science data teach that children do best emotionally, socially, intellectually and economically when reared in an intact home by both biological parents.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has denied a request by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to extend a stay of a district court ruling overturning the state’s gay “marriage” ban pending appeal.  That ruling was made August 21 by Judge Robert Hinkle, a Clinton appointee who said the ban was unconstitutional. Hinkle stayed his own ruling through January 5 in order to give the state a chance to appeal, but the 11th Circuit has yet to hear arguments in the case. 

The Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene means same-sex “marriages” will begin in Florida on January 6, but it is unclear how many couples will be affected by the ruling.  On Tuesday, Washington County Clerk Lora Bell filed a motion for clarification.

“The Clerk requests clarification as to whether the Injunction requires that the Clerk only issue marriage licenses to Stephen Schlairet and Ozzie Russ as specifically set forth in the Injunction, both of whom are parties to this matter, or if the Injunction requires that the Clerk issue marriage licenses to all same-sex couples who apply once the stay expires at the end of the day on January 5, 2015,” Bell’s attorneys wrote Hinkle.

On Wednesday, Hinkle passed the buck to state officials, ordering them to respond to Bell by Monday.

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Obama administration lifts lifetime ban on gay men donating blood

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By Ben Johnson

The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was lifting a lifetime ban on homosexual or bisexual men from donating blood, as long as they had not had sex for at least a year.

The FDA action contradicts a decision earlier this month from its own expert panel, which did not recommend changing the lifetime ban for men having sex with men, as well as hearing expert testimony that a one-year ban would not be adequate to protect public health.

A panel of 17 experts on the FDA's Blood Products Advisory Panel voted against the change this month, but an HHS panel had backed the one-year limit.

In a press release, the FDA insisted that it had “carefully examined and considered the available scientific evidence” and taken into account “the recommendations of advisory committees to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA” before making its decision.

Although a sliver of the population, men who have sex with men (MSM) make up more than 60 percent of all new AIDS cases. The percentage of HIV-positive men who knowingly have sex with other men without using a condom has increased over the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to nearly two-thirds (62 percent).

Doctor Steve Kleinman, senior medical adviser to the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), told LifeSiteNews earlier this month that current testing catches at least 999,999 of every 1 million HIV/AIDS-infected blood donations. The Red Cross states there are 9.2 million U.S. blood donors every year.

"Members of the Blood Products Advisory Committee were clearly reluctant to recommend any change to the current policy in the absence of a national program of comprehensive monitoring of the entire blood transfusion system from donor to recipient,” Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, said. "Research presented to the Committee confirmed the dramatically elevated risk of HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) – a risk 62 times higher than in the general public. This risk certainly justifies the highest level of vigilance, and political and social concerns must not be allowed to trump the public health.”

The FDA announced that it would issue a draft guidance for implementing the new policy on homosexual blood donation sometime in 2015, at which time the public will have an opportunity to comment.

"It is shocking that the FDA did not even wait for a recommendation from their own Advisory Committee before rushing to the politically correct decision demanded by homosexual activist groups,” Sprigg said.

Homosexual organizations were overjoyed but demanded they should be allowed to give blood without a requirement of celibacy.

“This is a major victory for gay rights,” Harvard Law School professor I. Glenn Cohen told the New York Times. But John Peller, president and chief executive officer of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, told Reuters, “We think that it's a step in the right direction but it certainly doesn't go far enough.”

Peter Marks, deputy director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said, “We simply do not have the scientific evidence to show that you can go to a shorter period.”

The previous policy that no blood be collected from any male who has had sex with another male since 1977 had been in place since 1983. 

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Thaddeus and Theresa Baklinski and their 14 children, on the occasion of their son Ben's wedding.
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An Exodus story

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

There’s a story that in retrospect seems very recent but actually took place two generations ago. A young father was driving with his 4-year-old son down one of the main streets of the city in which they lived. While quietly chuckling, enjoying, and trying to answer the endless stream of 4-year-old questions the lad was posing, one question literally stopped the dad in his tracks.

"Why's that lady got no clothes on Papa? And what's that big word mean?"

"What? Where are you looking? What are you seeing??" the dad asked in worried astonishment as the boy pointed to a huge billboard, newly set up on top of a building along the street.

The billboard had the image of a naked woman's torso, wearing only what appeared to be a shark tooth necklace. There was no face in the picture, just torso, showing only a little of her breasts and hips, but as much of her body as probably was legally possible without the image being pornographic.

Beside the image was the word "hedonism" in huge capital letters. Below this was an invitation to come to a luxury tropical resort village operated by a French tourist company.

The father was dumbfounded. He could not think of an answer to the boy's questions, neither why the lady had no clothes, nor an explanation of the word that a 4-year-old could understand.

But inside he began to seethe with indignation that his son should have been subjected to this "advertising," and that there was nothing that he could do to undo the harmful effect this visual assault might have on his child.

Or was there …

The mother and father had been, for a quite a while, discussing the possibility of pulling up the roots they had begun to set down in the city of the mother's childhood after they had wed. Their dream of a place in "the country" was strong in their hearts. But the reality of such a radical change for them was both daunting and filled with uncertainty about their ability to make a go of it.

They wanted to own some land, plant gardens, raise livestock for their own use, cut firewood and use it to heat a home where they and their children could doze or play in front of the fireplace during the cold winters. They wanted to grow in their Catholic faith.

Their hope was for their children to have a wholesome and faith-filled environment in which to flourish.

A place where they could swim in clean lakes, hike forest trails, build native villages and settlers' cabins, learn to fish, hunt, be silent when watching a deer or rabbit that had not yet seen them, and go crazy with youthful exuberance without fear that their noise would upset the neighbors. And a place where their faith could grow and mature in the midst of a community of families whose religious life was the center of their family life.

The billboard decided the issue for them. "It's now or never, my love," the dad said to the mom after describing what he and his child had been subjected to as they drove along the city street. "We have three kids now (four, three and a not-quite-one-year-old), so this will be difficult, but we can do this!

"It will take a leap in faith for us, but if we don't try to do what's in our hearts now, we may never have the courage to do it later. I don't want our sons to have to look at billboards like that ever again, not if I can help it."

So the father and mother began the arduous process of moving to "the country," but not without first putting themselves and their plans in the hands of Our Lady, on whose intercession to Jesus on their behalf they would completely rely.

On the last day of May, they left "the city" in an old van packed to the roof (and on the roof), and towing a borrowed trailer with all their belongings, and set out for "the country."

And what did they find there? Certainly all the things they had hoped for, but much more besides - both hardships and indescribable joy.

The day after settling into a cabin on a lake that was to be their headquarters for the summer while they scouted out available properties for sale, the local parish priest dropped by for an unannounced visit.

"I had heard about you moving in here, and thought I'd come over to welcome you to the parish, and see if there was anything I could help you with or do for you?" Fr. Joe said.

Wow! They had never before been visited at home by a parish priest … and how did Fr. Joe know they were there, and where to find them? Was this the well-known news grapevine of small communities?

They were overwhelmed by the priest's warm welcome and generous offers (he never did tell them how he knew they were there). They counted his visit as an affirmation that they were in the right place and Our Lady's hand was on them.

At Mass that Sunday in their new parish, the young couple with their three children were apprehensive about how they would be received by their fellow parishioners. Most of them were older folks, but there were a few families with young children.

Some of the old-timers were aloof, suspicious of the newcomers, but many others were not only welcoming but overjoyed that the couple had brought themselves and their kids to the parish.

"Don't worry if your kids are noisy, deary, we don't mind - it's nice to have more children in the church," the young mom was told.

And they discovered to their wonderment that many of the older families in the parish (the families whose ancestors had pioneered and settled the area in the 1850s) had lots, and lots, of kids - 8, 12, 16 kids!

The children, nine of them and mostly grown to adulthood, of one of these families were such warm and kind people, that the young father was prompted to ask the mom of this family how she did it, hoping to gain some insight into raising children.

The dad of this family, who farmed his land and drove a logging truck, stood by and smiled a smile that turned into hearty, exuberant, good-natured laughter.

The mom looked away wistfully for a moment, but with a smiling twinkle in her eye, then told the young father, "Well, I loved them, I just loved them. And I was always there for them."

She then added the most down-to-earth advice the young dad had ever heard. "And if they didn't work, they didn't eat," the woman, full of the wisdom of her age, said.

The young father never forgot these words, and pondered them in his heart. And while he never had occasion to put this advice into actual practice (although it could be used as a motivational tool), he learned that working together to build a culture of life within the family was what the older woman was really saying.

So this, dear reader, is a little part of the story of the young couple's abandonment of "the city" to begin a new life in "the country."

They live near Combermere, Ontario, where many of their 14 children also live. Their lives in the country have proven, so far, to be a great adventure, with both hardships and heartaches, but also with abounding love and great joy, as the lives of families everywhere are bound to be.

For this they are truly grateful to their Father in heaven for His blessings and protection, to Our Lady who has guided them along the way, to Jesus who is The Way they have tried to follow, to their friends and neighbors who are always there in times of need and in times of celebration, and to their children, without whom the adventure wouldn't have been half as much fun.

As they look forward to the celebration of the birth of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they want to wish you, dear reader, a most happy, blessed and holy Christmas, and much joy, laughter and Life in the coming year.

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No room at the inn

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By Kirsten Anderson

Every year, LSN asks its writers to write Christmas reflections before we break for the holiday, and normally, it’s not a problem for me.  This year, however, was different.  When I received the reminder in my inbox asking for a few thoughts on the Christmas season, I groaned aloud.  Without going into too much detail, 2014 has been a rough year for me, and so far, this holiday season has been no exception. 

For nearly a week, I tried to force myself to think of something profound to say about the season – the gift of the Christ child, the gift of love, the gift of mercy.  But all that I could think about when I sat down to write was my unfinished to-do list, my looming deadlines, my messy house, and my empty bank account – to say nothing of the state of the world at large.  Wars and rumors of wars.  The surveillance state.  The culture of death.  Ebola. 

The fact is, I feel like I just don’t have the time or energy for Christmas this year.  As I write this, my children’s gifts are stacked in my room, still unwrapped.  I haven’t purchased a single item for Christmas dinner yet.  I desperately need to go to Confession.  Meanwhile, it’s December 23.  Christmas is not just coming … Christmas is here.  And I’m not ready.  I am completely unprepared.

I dwelt on this last night and into the wee hours of this morning, as I lay sleepless in my bed.  How did this happen?  How did Christmas sneak up on me this year, and why don’t I feel like celebrating?  How did the coming of our Lord become just another set of tasks on my overwhelming to-do list?  

Where, oh Lord, is my joy? 

As I lay awake in the darkness, a still, small voice answered me from the depths of my heart:  “There is no room at the inn.”  I pictured Mary and Joseph, searching in vain for a place to bring Jesus into the world, and finding only a stable.  Bethlehem was unprepared for Jesus’ arrival; filled to overflowing with other “important” people; other “important” things.  And suddenly, it was crystal clear – I’m like that, too.  Jesus is coming, and instead of making room for Him, I’ve filled my mind and heart with other things and other people.  But the people of Bethlehem didn’t know any better.  I do. 

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Don’t get me wrong – the things that preoccupy me are legitimately important:  My work with LSN, the happiness and well-being of my busy family, my obligations as a wife and mother.  Even my loathed and never-ending task list is important, in terms of keeping the members of my household fed, clothed, and otherwise taken care of.  But nothing, nothing is as important as the tiny baby born that magical night in Bethlehem – the boy who would grow into the One – both fully man and fully divine – who saves us all. 

This Christmas, I hope you’ve made room at the inn. As for me, I’m going to do the best I can to get ready with the little time I have left.  The to-do list can wait. Right now, it’s more important to take down the “No Vacancy” signs in my mind and heart.

Joy to the world; the Lord is come. 

Let Earth receive her King. 

Let every heart prepare him room …

Editor's Note: As has been our custom for over a decade, LifeSiteNews is again this year publishing Christmas reflections by our staff. For a full listing of this year's reflections, click here.

Jenna Craine


Embracing the noise of Christmas

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By Jenna Craine

My husband and I love buying books for our children, and Christmas brings another wonderful excuse to shower them with stories about one of our favorite feast days. This year on his feast day, St. Nicholas benevolently decided to leave each child a book under their candy-filled shoes, and one of those books has instantly become a family classic. It is called “Christmas in Noisy Village,” by Astrid Lindgren and Ilon Wikland. In this charming story, seven little children who live on neighboring farms busy themselves with the preparations for Christmas and then celebrate the holiday in joyful style. As to the title, the book tells us “everyone calls the farms Noisy Village because there are so many children around making noise all the time.”

It should come as no surprise that our children immediately took to this story, because they are their own Noisy Village unto themselves.

Ordinarily I quite enjoy the bustle of our household, but as Christmas approaches and my responsibilities as a wife and mother seem to increase exponentially, I find myself longing for just a few moments of quiet (which may or may not be followed by a whispered pleading, “for heaven’s sake”). I receive Christmas cards in the mail and see iconic renditions of Madonna and Child; I yearn for the contemplative Christmas depicted in the stable.

Thus reading about the children in Noisy Village has been an excellent exercise for me as we make our final preparations for Christmas. In the story, the children aren’t getting into mischief and aren’t being especially wild. Simply by being little children, and being excited as children ought to be, for Christmas, they generate a lot of noise.

In fact, reading about the children of Noisy Village got me thinking that the first Christmas wasn’t exactly a Silent Night, either. Between the animals mooing and braying around the Infant, the shepherds arriving hastily in a crowd, and the multitude of angels singing glory to God in the highest, Bethlehem seems to have erupted in a near-symphony of joyful Noise that first Christmas.

The Noisy Village of Bethlehem, the Noisy Village in my children’s story book, and the Noisy Village in my living room, remind me that any one who is committed to seeing the triumph of the culture of life must embrace the Noise of Christmas. While the culture of life is built on the foundation of the silent prayers of committed followers of Christ, its building blocks are diaper pins and Lego pieces and cheerfully accepted requests for “just one more story.”

Even those among us who are not currently in the season of raising small children still benefit from seeking out these pockets of Christmas Noise, by perhaps donating toys to an organization that is collecting them for less fortunate children. Or by running – not walking – to push open the doors when one spies a mother bustling into the mall with her baby in a stroller.

The loudness and the inherent messiness of childhood reminds us of the squalor of the stable in Bethlehem where God chose to become a tiny Baby. Christ came to give speech to the mute, yes, but also shouts and squeals of joy to the child, because He did not come simply to give life, but life abundantly. Celebrating in that reality helps us to come more deeply into the mystery of it.

Jenna Craine and her husband Patrick, LifeSiteNews’ Associate Editor, are raising their three small children in rural Ontario. She is currently putting her Bachelor of Arts in English to good use by telling homespun stories about a pig named Osso and an elf named Bebo.

Editor's Note: As has been our custom for over a decade, LifeSiteNews is again this year publishing Christmas reflections by our staff. For a full listing of this year's reflections, click here.

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Previous owners Michael and Sheila O'Brien joined our family for the joyful moment we took possession of our new home. The children are holding spring flowers.
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And a little child shall lead them…to their new home

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By Pete Baklinski

It was about a year ago when I contacted our landlord to ask if we could continue renting for another year. Having rented from him for a few years already, I was pretty sure he would say “Yes.” When he replied that he needed the house to entertain guests that coming summer, I pleaded with him, telling him we were expecting again and a move a couple of months prior to the due date would be very difficult for my wife Erin and the baby. But he would not change his mind. He congratulated us for the new baby and said we had to be out in five months.

Both Erin and I were in despair. Having five children already made it almost impossible to find someone who was willing to rent to a ‘crazy large family whose parents obviously don’t know how to control themselves.’ And buying a home with a mortgage was out of the question because of our student loans that always upset the financial ratios. And believe me, we had tried everything to get a mortgage, from local banks, to national banks, to mortgage brokers. It was always the same No, No, No.

It was about a year before this new pregnancy that we had decided to make a deal with God. We told him that if he wanted us to buy a house, he would have to meet three conditions:

1. The house would have to be a place of beauty where we would be happy to raise our children and be able to do some small-scale farming, like raising chickens and goats and growing a garden.

2. The owners would have to want to sell the house specifically to us, seeing us as a perfect fit for their home.

3. The financing would have to work out.

It was a tall order, but it gave us peace knowing that if God wanted us in a home, he would make it clear to us by fulfilling these conditions.

Now, with our landlord closing the door on us and the banks already having closed the door on us, we had no option but to pray that God would provide a place for us to live, even if it meant living in a cave in the middle of the forest (we said, half seriously). One of our daughters helpfully suggested that we could simply live in the car. Would we have a home in which to bring our newborn child? It was a painful question to face.

But then something unexpected happened a few weeks after having our landlord turn us down. It started one night when Erin noticed blood. Four days later the cramping started. The following morning, Erin passed the placenta and amniotic sack, all intact with a tiny baby inside about the size of two peas. Everything fit in the palm of her hand. At 12 weeks the baby should have been about 3-4 inches, but we could tell that she was much smaller. I immediately baptized the baby. Then we held one another and our little baby and cried.

We named her Perpetua Christina Marie. We later discovered that she had died at about 6 weeks, which would have been just around Christmas.

It was painful to tell our children of the loss. We told them that their little sister had been called home to heaven, much sooner than we would have liked. We told them that she had joined her brother Gabriel and her sister Jacinta and that all three of them were now praying for us and helping us become holy so that we could all be together one day.

We showed the children Perpetua’s remains. We could see the tiny little head with little black dots for eyes. We could see her tiny arms and legs and her little feet. The kids took holy water and each of them blessed Perpetua. I kissed her before wrapping her up in preparation for burial.

Our grief over her loss was great, but it was mingled with a strange joy that God was somehow doing something bigger than the eye could see… In his will was our peace…

I must now switch gears and tell you about a local Catholic couple who had been dropping hints to us for some time now that they could “just see” our family in their country house. They were good friends of ours who had already raised their children and were ready to move into something smaller and closer to town. And it was a beautiful house with about two acres of farmable land. The house had a feasting hall with a stone fireplace. The property included a grove of majestic maples and was a two minute walk from a small lake teaming with fish. There was even an impressive hill out back that would make a perfect toboggan run in the winter.

I remember when it suddenly hit Erin and me that two of our conditions regarding our deal with God were met with this house. But we did not even begin to get our hopes up since we were sure the finances would never work out.

It was a few days prior to the miscarriage that we began a nine-day prayer to St. Joseph, asking him to intercede on our behalf for a financial miracle from God. It was during this novena that, out of the blue, my older brother who lived thousands of miles away contacted me, saying he had heard about our financial woes and had a friend who had connections in the banking industry who might be able to help us. I called my brother’s friend and explained our situation. I was given the name of a person to call at a national bank.

The day Erin miscarried was the day I was supposed to speak with this person at the bank. Sensing there was more happening than could meet the eye, I decided to make the call that day. The person I spoke with was the first to look seriously at our real financial situation and see that we could actually afford mortgage payments. Days later we were astounded to be "pre-approved" for a mortgage from the same bank that a few months before had rejected our application for a small loan to buy a car. We were approved a few days after the miscarriage and the day after finishing our novena prayer to St. Joseph.

All the pieces were now coming together quickly. It seemed to us that God had fulfilled his side of the deal superabundantly. He had found us a lovely home surrounded by natural beauty. The owners wanted nothing better than for us to live there. And we now had a green light on the finances. It seemed almost unbelievable to witness how all the knots became untied.

We took possession of the house May 1st, the feast of St. Joseph. I carried Erin across the threshold while the children frolicked around the yard picking the daintiest spring flowers you ever did see. The owners joined us in our joy. It was truly a paradise moment.

Throughout all of this, Erin and I discerned that someone special besides St. Joseph might have been pulling strings for us someplace on high. And it was not too hard to figure out who. This whole journey to our new home began when we asked our landlord to continue renting because we were expecting. When we lost our baby, both Erin and I believe she went straight to God and pleaded with him to come through on the deal we had made with him. And we both believe that God listened real closely to her and was moved by what she had to say.

We now live in a place we call “home.” It is our “forever” home where we will raise our family. Here we will love, laugh, cry, eat, sleep, and pray. Here we will raise our children and teach them about the mysterious ways of God and how if they put their trust in him, he will always come through in the end.

We will always grieve the loss of our daughter, but at the same time, we have this inkling that she is still with us, watching over us, doing “her thing” with God to pull off something amazing for all of us here on earth. We have no doubt that Perpetua is still very much part of our family, contributing her unique gifts to the flourishing of the whole. We sense a real and almost tangible spiritual closeness with her.

I often talk to my daughter Perpetua. I thank her for putting us on the path that got us to our home. I thank her for bringing our needs to God. I often ask her to intercede for us regarding anything related to the house, such as the success of the various renovations we have undertaken since moving here – drilling a new well, putting insulation in the ceiling of the feasting room, and upgrading the heating system. Believe it or not, she has come through for us every time.

As I reflect on Perpetua’s short life and her much too short stay with us, I am reminded of a verse from Scripture that seems to describe her relationship to our family: “And a little child shall lead them…” (Isaiah 11:6). Yes, this little child led us to something wonderful, and continues to lead us towards things the eye has not seen nor the ear heard (1 Cor. 2:9). We are grateful for the gift of her life.

Pete and Erin live with their five children in Combermere, Ontario. They will be welcoming a new baby in February. They are glad to have a home in which to welcome this new life.

Editor's Note: As has been our custom for over a decade, LifeSiteNews is again this year publishing Christmas reflections by our staff. For a full listing of this year's reflections, click here.

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LifeSiteNews reporter Lisa Bourne with her husband Chris and three children
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Faith, family, and friends: that’s what I’m taking stock in this Christmas

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By Lisa Bourne

Advent is coming to a close and the Christmas season is about to begin.

I say that in one of my continual personal efforts to build and maintain authentic regard for Christmas and what it means.

So often the term “Christmas season” is used in the secular sense, but no, I don’t mean the craziness of holiday retail and all that comes with it.

No, on Christmas Eve the season starts. When we celebrate Christ’s coming in human form to save us. He had to be born and be one of us to fulfill his Father’s plan.

I go to Mass on Sundays and beyond. I sing in my parish’s choir, lector and volunteer in many other ways. After years of hoping and praying, I’ve come to crave Mass and its beauty. I often can’t get enough. But I still struggle to fully grasp what Jesus did for us, even as I approach at each Mass I attend to receive him.

Cardinal Francis Arinze once said if we really grasped the meaning of the true presence in the Eucharist, wouldn’t we crawl to receive it?


And if we really grasped what happened on the first Christmas, would we allow ourselves to be so wrapped up in all the other trappings today that have nothing to do with it, and in fact often take our gaze away?


Faith, family and friends.

That’s what I’m taking stock in. There’s a roof over my head, I’m healthy, as are my kids and my husband. We’ll be together.

And I have LifeSite.

As a journalist for LifeSiteNews, I’m able to share the truth, serve and defend the Lord and support my family. What else is there?

I don’t need a particular holiday to be thankful, I’m happy to be so any day. But Christmas is a fabulous time to be grateful, and to share joy with anyone you know as well as pray for and support everyone who less fortunate.

Merry Christmas!

Editor's Note: As has been our custom for over a decade, LifeSiteNews is again this year publishing Christmas reflections by our staff. For a full listing of this year's reflections, click here.

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LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief John-Henry Westen with his wife Dianne and eight children.
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What’s under our tree this Christmas – promise not to tell?

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By John-Henry Westen

In a family of 10 what’s under the tree is always interesting. We’ve found that with increasing years comes a shift from wanted items to needed items.  While for the baby (now 3) it’s still mostly toys and some outfits, for the older children it’s more about needed items such as a new desk chair (don’t tell) and clothing.  That of course becomes most evident with gifts designated ‘to Mom.’ 

In the pile for Mom are really most of the gifts for the family… a new kettle (don’t tell), soap, mugs, and the like. They’re mostly the kind of gifts that are best described as ‘for you but actually for me, or for us’ rather than really ‘for you.’  I’d like to say for Dad it’s the same but a new table tennis racquet (don’t tell I found out) wouldn’t really qualify.

We’re often told as Christians that your gifts are fleeting things and you can’t take them with you. But there is one gift you can at least try to take with you to the life hereafter. And that is the gift of children.  We’ve been blessed to have one child on Christmas Day and another on the 28th so we’re always celebrating birthdays throughout Christmas.

Those gifts of life you can take with you into the afterlife – or at least give it your best shot.  We’ve been successful with three children thus far (which officially makes us a family of 13), that while lost to us through miscarriage, are, as the song goes, “from the heavens to the womb to the heavens again.”

Christmas is all about accepting the Christ Child into your life, into your heart. And with every child you accept into your family you accept Christ – you clothe the naked, you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, you care for the sick, and even visit the imprisoned as the crib becomes a frequented late-night vigil spot. 

With each child you welcome into your family – each gift of God you embrace – you fulfill that which Christ told us would be demanded of us to enter heaven.

Your children are truly the best gifts under your family tree. Embrace them as you would the Savior, because as he said, ‘Whatever you do to the least you do to me.’

Thus your openness to life leads to the greatest gift.  To our Lord’s final call: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

From my family to yours, dear friends, our prayers for a happy and holy Christmas. 

Editor's Note: As has been our custom for over a decade, LifeSiteNews is again this year publishing Christmas reflections by our staff. For a full listing of this year's reflections, click here.

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Steve Weatherbe


T.S. Eliot and Christmas’s dual message

Steve Weatherbe
By Steve Weatherbe

When I think of Christmas I think of T.S. Eliot’s wonderful poem, the Journey of the Magi. The whole thing is a work of art and reads aloud very well. One element especially stays with me: how Eliot interwove his description of the wise men’s rocky road to Bethlehem with intimations of Calvary. So, after the questers make it over an icy mountain pass, the narrator describes greener, warm valleys below:

With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,

And three trees on the low sky,

And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.

Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,

Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,

Later, Eliot hammers home the message that Christmas is not “happy-slappy,” as my pastor likes to say. It is, finally, about Easter, which is to say, it is about a painful death and birth. But here is Eliot’s narrator: 

All this was a long time ago, I remember,

And I would do it again, but set down

This set down

This: were we led all that way for

Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly

We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,

But had thought they were different; this Birth was

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.

I get this same point when I go to regular noonday Masses, which, occasionally, turn out to be funerals. Such an event brings together two very different groups: we Massgoers doing our routine thing, who are suddenly surprised to be reminded of our own mortality; and the funeral attenders. They come to “pay their respects,” also routinely, and are just as surprised to find themselves surrounded by believers, in the middle of a celebration of the Holy Eucharist. No eulogies, no testimonies to the dearly departed’s contributions to society, but rather humbling incorporation of his life into the regular flow of faith, worship, life and death in Christ Jesus, that has been going on since the first Christmas.

Editor's Note: As has been our custom for over a decade, LifeSiteNews is again this year publishing Christmas reflections by our staff. For a full listing of this year's reflections, click here.

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Merry Christmas from LifeSite!

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By Patrick Craine

Dear readers,

The entire LifeSiteNews family would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas!

We’ve had a custom here for the last decade or so of publishing Christmas reflections by our staff on Christmas Eve. We encourage you to read each of these often personal and always thoughtful pieces as you go about celebrating the birth of our Savior. Here's the full listing of this year's reflections:

No room at the inn -- Kirsten Andersen

T.S. Eliot and Christmas’s dual message -- Steve Weatherbe

What’s under our tree this Christmas – promise not to tell? -- John-Henry Westen

Faith, family, and friends: that’s what I’m taking stock in this Christmas -- Lisa Bourne

And a little child shall lead them…to their new home -- Pete Baklinski

Embracing the noise of Christmas -- Jenna Craine (my wife!)

An Exodus story -- Thaddeus Baklinski

One really big, wonderful family -- Steve Jalsevac

The reflections will be highlighted on our front page throughout our Christmas break, which we take every year between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. We’ll be back again with our regular publishing schedule on January 5.

God bless you all!

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Rabbi David Saperstein, who opposed a ban on partial birth abortion, was opposed by some pro-life senators. Wikipedia
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US Senate confirms rabbi who backed HHS mandate as ambassador for religious freedom

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By Dustin Siggins

The U.S. Senate has confirmed the appointment of partial-birth abortion supporter Rabbi David Saperstein to be the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom for the United States.

Saperstein, the first non-Christian to hold the position, was nominated in July and approved by the Senate earlier this month. He fills a slot that has been vacant for more than a year, in part because of pro-life opposition to his nomination.

Many senators objected to Saperstein's record on domestic religious liberty, which included support for the contraceptive/abortifacient mandate the Supreme Court found unconstitutional earlier this year.

Saperstein has said that “all women must have the right to make their own health-care choices according to their faith and consciences — including when it comes to reproductive health.”

The Supreme Court's decision held that closely-held corporations whose owners oppose the abortifacient component of the mandate on religious grounds were exempt from the regulation. Women are still able to get abortifacients and contraceptives from Planned Parenthood centers, health clinics, and many other locations -- often through government-funded sources.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, opposed Saperstein's nomination in part because of the rabbi's support for the Obama administration's mandate. He told National Catholic Register, “I don’t agree with his philosophy, especially how he opposed the Green family from Oklahoma.”

Only one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, opposed Saperstein. Potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Ted Cruz of Texas supported Saperstein.

The press staff for Cruz and Paul did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Saperstein did support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was the basis for the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision. However, he opposed the partial-birth abortion ban in 2002, and has served on the board for liberal groups such as People for the American Way and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

He also supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prevent employers with religious opposition to same-sex relationships from applying those beliefs in the workplace.

While his domestic record has been called into question, international human rights advocate Tina Ramirez, founder and president of Hardwired, Inc., argued that it was Saperstein's foreign record that most mattered to whomever holds the ambassador position.

Saperstein's international background includes traveling to meet with religious minority leaders in Saudi Arabia, as the head of the United States Commission on International Freedom, and meeting domestically and internationally with religious minority leaders from multiple nations and religions. He worked on the Religion and Foreign Policy working group from 2011 to July 2014 as part of an effort to expand dialogue under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Rabbi Saperstein’s historic support for the international standard of religious freedom for all people should continue to serve as a good indicator of how he’ll do in this new position," Ramirez said.

"Religious freedom is a life and death issue for two-thirds of the world," she continued. "Despite any differences we may have on domestic issues, defending people against threats like the Islamic State in Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria requires solidarity and continued vigilance."

Saperstein's radical support for abortion has not prevented him from receiving numerous accolades for his work to promote international religious liberty. He has previously chaired the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and in 2009, his influence in Washington put him on the top of Newsweek's list of the 50 most influential rabbis.

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Indiana diocese ordered to pay former teacher $2 million after she was fired for using IVF

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By Lisa Bourne

A jury in the Indiana U.S. District Court said December 19 that a Catholic diocese was not protected by federal law safeguarding religious employers when it declined to renew a teacher’s contract for violating the morals clause of her employment agreement.

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend discriminated against Emily Herx in 2011 when it fired her for undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment, the court said, ordering the diocese to pay Herx $1.75 million in emotional and physical damages, $125,000 for medical expenses, $75,000 for lost wages and $1 in punitive damages, according to the website Crux.

Herx broke the terms of her employment agreement as a teacher at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School in Fort Wayne when she had the in vitro fertilization treatment, since it is against Church teaching, which Catholic teachers in the diocese agree to uphold.

The Church says artificial insemination and fertilization are morally unacceptable, because they dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act, and the procedures treat children like a commodity, all contrary to the dignity of both the parents and their children. The Church has also raised concern over the fact that the procedure generally involves killing numerous embryos.

Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades responded to LifeSiteNews on the verdict, maintaining the importance of defending religious freedom.

“The diocese is disappointed with the outcome of the trial and is considering an appeal,” Bishop Rhoades told LifeSiteNews. “The diocese considers it important to defend its Constitutional and statutorily-granted freedom to make faith-based employment decisions without inappropriate interference.”

Herx alleged that her firing was a form of sexual discrimination and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Her suit said since she was not an ordained minister or trained in the Catholic faith as a condition of employment, that the diocese and its school board didn’t have the protection of federal law upholding employment rights of religious organizations. She also stated in the suit that she suffers from a diagnosed condition that causes infertility, and that this is considered a disability under the law.

Also in the lawsuit, Herx is said to have appealed to Bishop Rhoades before bringing legal action, and the bishop had affirmed for her the Catholic teaching that IVF is “an intrinsic evil, which means that no circumstances can justify it.”

Herx’s attorneys argued that male teachers in the diocese alleged to have violated Catholic moral teaching had retained their jobs. The jury made up of five women and seven men deliberated for five-and-a-half hours after the four-day trial, according to the Journal-Gazette.

Herx had in vitro treatments twice in 2010, reportedly with the knowledge of her principal. When she notified the school of her plans to have in vitro fertilization again in 2011, word reached the pastor of the school’s parish, who subsequently directed staff not to renew Herx’s contract.

Bishop Rhoades testified in the trial that he wasn’t aware Herx’s principal, who is also Catholic, had known for more than a year that Herx was undergoing the infertility treatment and that he was unaware of emails between the principal and Herx about the treatment.

The bishop also said under cross examination that the diocese had net assets of about $30 million, according to the Journal Gazette, and that a legal win for Herx could affect portions of the diocese’s operation.

The priests and bishop continually spoke on the stand of having wanted to see Herx show remorse or regret for making the decision she made, which she never did.

Diocesan attorney John Theisen told the press after the decision was announced that the case was still a religious freedom issue, and that civil rights exemptions for religious employers should have ensured the diocese would prevail.

“It never should have brought the case to trial,” he said.

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Steve Jalsevac interviewing Thomas Jacobson, Executive Director of Global Life Campaign
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Shock: 1 billion abortions in world since 1920

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By Steve Jalsevac
One of many country graphs of annual abortion statistics. Graphs are larger and more readable on Global Life Campaign website.

In an interview with LifeSite, Thomas Jacobson explained the benefits of the new Global Life Campaign’s information service for those seeking reliable, very detailed national, regional and international abortion statistics, national abortion legislations and other information on the issue. The statistics, on over 120 nations and territories, compiled for 30 years by a top world expert, are said to be exceptionally detailed and comprehensive. There are also numerous graphs and charts providing useful overviews of the stats on particular regions and specific categories.

The main purpose of all the information that The Global Life Campaign provides on its website, says Jacobson, the organization’s Executive Director, is “to lift up the standard of the sanctity of life among all the nations, to remember the unborn and to serve pro-life nations of which there are 61 that still prohibit abortion.” The organization seeks to help those pro-life nations to preserve their good laws.

It also reveals that there as 97 countries that have abortion on demand or have legalized abortifacients, there are 37 middle countries that permit abortion under restricted conditions, and in the 61 that prohibit abortion, the only exception that there might be would be to save the life of the mother.

Jacobson stated that he has very carefully tracked all actual reported numbers of international abortions from 1920 forward and found that the total has exceeded 1 billion since that time. That, he emphasizes, “makes abortion the greatest genocide in history.”

On the website, Jacobson explains, they have a world graph that covers 78 nations in the over 1 billion, they have country graphs on 32 countries that show the specific numbers of abortions by year and there are 40-45 countries where the Global Life Campaign has good numbers on for most years. Their “next project is to set up a pilot project with a PhD team to review those countries and where they’ve got gaps and how to best fill those gaps.”

The website also displays the abortion laws of 181 countries, plus a sanctity of life sanction with multiple blogs covering such issues as what are the foundations for the sanctity of life, what are the roles and purposes of government and much more.

Jacobson related to LifeSite that the project started when he was working with Focus on the Family as their representative to the United Nations. There, he says he “became aware of the intense pressure that is applied to these nations to change their laws and make the same stupid mistakes that we made and cause their cultures to take dives toward destruction."

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Mary Wagner is arrested in Toronto on December 23, 2014 after she entered an abortion facility to speak to abortion-minded women. Leeda Crawford
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Mary Wagner arrested again in Toronto while speaking to abortion-minded women

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By John Bulsza

Mary Wagner was arrested Tuesday morning after entering the Bloor West Village Women’s Clinic. Mary entered the abortion facility around 9:15 a.m., with pairs of white and red roses with attached pregnancy support hot-line cards. She had pro-life counseling pamphlets available to give to the women who were scheduled for abortions that hour.

It did not take very long for the police to arrive, three cruisers within 35 minutes. Mary was arrested and handcuffed around 10:00 a.m. Several supporters were outside on the sidewalk, praying and distributing pro-life pamphlets to the general public. One of the supporters, Father Paul Nicholson of the London Catholic Diocese, was present to lend moral and spiritual support to Mary. He stated that Mary is acting in solidarity with the victims of abortion, and that her action is “pricking the guilty conscience of a nation that is pretending to play dumb” when it comes to the killing of innocent unborn human beings.

Mary will be spending Christmas with fellow inmates at Vanier Centre for Women, in Milton, Ontario. Court dates will be set on Wednesday.

Supporters are asking that people keep Mary in their prayers this Christmas season and help “build her prison cell” with Christmas cards and letters of support. Her address is Mary Wagner, c/o Vanier Centre for Women prison, P.O. Box 1040, 655 Martin St., Milton, ON, L9T 5E6.  To arrange a visit with Mary, call at least 2 days before, 905-876-8300, extension 8315. Visiting hours are 2:00, 2:45, 6:15, and 7:00 p.m.

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Jesus Claus and Santa Christ

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By Ryan Bomberger

It’s that time of year for us to realize how far societies tend to veer from the true essence of things. We live in a deeply superficial culture that is too often satisfied with veneers. If it’s shiny and new and untouched by real life, it strangely gives us the false assurance that it will last forever.

Anyone can package up crap and put a nice shimmery bow on it and pass it off as the got-to-have-it-or-you’ll-die item of the season. Even when what’s inside is genuine and something we truly need, too many are content with the outer misleading packaging.

We’ve been consuming so much materially and ideologically, we’ve confused the packaging for the occasional essential stuff inside. In a selfie-driven, soundbite-fed world we are fixated with mere reflections and obvious distortions.

Holidays have become exactly that. Are we okay with the reality that most of them have devolved into conduits for filling store shelves with junk we don’t need and meanings divorced from their original intent? And I’m not going to blame capitalism. No one is forcing us to spend our money on emptiness.

Many of America’s churches, sadly, lead in the superficialization of the most sacred of holidays by delivering an enticingly packaged Christ, all year round, who might as well be Santa. He’s been so stripped of the true nature of who He is—love, mercy, grace, righteousness, righteous anger, compassion, intolerant of sin, forgiveness—that he’s become a caricature. Is it any wonder so many children put equal value in Christ and Claus? Interestingly, it’s okay for Santa to be judgmental as he decides who has been naughty or nice. But today’s westernized Jesus is someone who not only accepts everyone as they are, He’s perfectly fine with them intentionally remaining as they are, sinful behaviors and all.

But this facsimile of Jesus denies us of the most beautiful gift of love He offers us: redemption and transformation. There is an ever-widening void in our spiritually craving culture that is being filled by relativism and revisionism. Jesus and Saint Nicholas are hardly distinguishable as both are dim reflections of the real flesh and blood persons who represent(ed) each name. Jesus, the only Son of God, was sent here to Earth because our Creator loved us enough to rescue us from ourselves. That deliverance was in the form of a child, born to a poor yet courageous teenage mother and a father who chose adoption over abandonment. He chose to die for us in a brutal display of self-sacrificial love. Saint Nicholas, a Greek who served as a bishop in Myra, Turkey during the 4th century, was a fierce defender of this Savior in a time when priests were killed for not renouncing their faith. He was one of the signers of the revolutionary Nicene Creed.

I like that Santa more. Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against imaginative creations. I’m a creative professional, and I enjoy make-believe in the right place and time. Sadly, too many don’t or can’t distinguish between faith and fantasy and render holidays like Christmas less than meaningful and full of commercial clutter.

There is a Savior who continues to love, continues to redeem and doesn’t need to be repackaged for a 21st century world.

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Our cultural battlefields are littered with the corpses of children created in the image of God, but butchered with Herodian zeal. Peter Paul Rubens. Massacre of the Innocents, 1611–12
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The real ‘war on Christmas’: it’s not what you think it is

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By Jonathon Van Maren

Christmastime has something that enlarges the heart of everyone--even, I suspect, the grinchiest of atheists. Whether it is lightly falling snow, or visiting family and friends, or Christmas caroling, or an audience surging to its feet at the crescendos of Handel’s Hallelujah chorus, there is something about this time of year that seems to put people in better spirits. No matter how far militant secularism has spread, the Christmas story has incredible cultural power.

I find that the Christmas story has much to remind those of us in the pro-life movement, things that might be easier to forget throughout the year. Everything we fight is in direct conflict with the beauty and the message of that story. And when we look closely, we realize that the Enemy has not changed so much since Herod sent his soldiers into Bethlehem to slaughter all children under the age of three, chopping and stabbing and desperately trying to extinguish the Promise with the blood of the innocents. Two thousand years later, the war on innocence and promise still rages—and the Enemy still lets his mask slip every now and again.

The “war on Christmas” isn’t just about atheists whining about nativity scenes. It manifests itself everywhere in our culture’s rebellion against self-sacrifice, truth, and beauty.

I’ve found it interesting to note, for example, that abortion supporters pouring out to protest the pro-life message often quote the Lord Jesus—even if they do it by accident. “My body!” they scrawl crudely onto cardboard signs, and shriek at those who oppose the shedding of the blood of pre-born boys and girls.

Jesus said the same thing: “This is my body”—but followed that with one of the most beautiful phrases ever spoken—“which is broken for you.” The declaration of abortion supporters is one of war: My body, and I will kill anyone who I perceive as infringing on me. The words of the Lord Jesus meant something entirely different—He offered His body on the cross for His Church, the ultimate redeeming sacrifice. Abortion is, at the end of the day, the precise opposite of the Gospel, in brutal and bloody contrast to the Christmas story.

So it is with the various crude manifestations of the hook-up culture. True self-sacrificing love between those committed to love each other for better or for worse is often traded for the masturbatory facsimile of booze-fueled encounters in which the biggest “party foul” is to pretend you care too much. Marriage, intended to be a symbol of the relationship between the Lord Jesus and His Church, is precisely the opposite—sacrificing your own good for the other is at its essence. The physical heresies of today’s sexual culture are yet another example of our rejection of beauty and our culture’s sad conflation of happiness and pleasure. In our abandoning and destroying of marriage, we again illustrate our hostility to the Gospel message.

If marriage was created as a beautiful and self-sacrificing institution, then perhaps no trend defies and destroys that to the extent that the pornography industry has. Pornography is in many ways the perfect example of something demonic. Consider this: Instead of the husband sacrificing himself for the wife, a reflection of the Gospel story, we have millions of men across North America actively arousing themselves with scenes of physical destruction that reduce many of the women and girls on the screen to human rubble. Sacrificing the bodies of others for our own pleasure, we display our utter contempt for the Gospel message.

The “war on Christmas” isn’t just about atheists whining about nativity scenes. It manifests itself everywhere in our culture’s rebellion against self-sacrifice, truth, and beauty. The various machinations of the Enemy have set the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve at war with one another, with horrifying results. Our cultural battlefields are littered with the corpses of children created in the image of God, but butchered with Herodian zeal.

But the Christmas story reminds us that in the midst of all of this, a daughter of Eve gave birth to the Son of God Himself, Who came to earth to save sinful human beings. That story is full of hope and redemption and promise. And on Christmas day, we go to church to hear that story once again.

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The Pulse

Planned Parenthood’s newest low: Abortion-themed s’mores at Christmas?

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By Lisa Bourne

Just when you thought sexualizing children as a revenue plan, playing “healthcare hero” to maintain grip on the multi-million-dollar government dole, committing Medicaid fraud, advocating immoral behavior, and snuffing out unborn life for profit wasn’t enough, the nation’s abortion behemoth stoops low again with a bizarre money-grubbing ploy. 

Planned Parenthood has put out a promo with a customized s’more kit where the product’s maker will donate $5 to the nation’s largest abortion provider for every unique hash tagged-photo posted promoting Planned Parenthood, Wayne Dupree is reporting at Biz Pac Review.

The hash tag is #PPsmoresupport. Isn’t that cute?

The marshmallow in the kit has the Planned Parenthood double “P” logo on it. A clinical-looking confection promoting abortion -- yum.

The kit looks like sterile medical supplies somehow got mistakenly crammed in the wrong plastic baggie with someone’s sack lunch dessert.

So unappetizing on so many levels.

And weird. Not sure how the candy designer or Planned Parenthood thinks this could stimulate someone’s palette or their charitable inclinations, but then Abortions-R-Us never ceases to surprise in the surreal arena.

It has pushed gift certificates for Christmas in the past, promoting them by saying they “allow you to give the gift of life to your loved ones.” What??

Planned Parenthood has had “Choice on Earth” Christmas cards for years, claiming at one point that Jesus Christ “was for choice.” Again, what?

Earlier this year Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards promoted abortion for Valentine’s Day. Nothing says “I Love You” like ending a life.

Go to its PAC Twitter page this holiday season and you’ll see cards with snowflakes designed with IUDs and the Pill. You can’t make that stuff up.

The messed-up marshmallow promotion got attention from Ebony magazine’s Jamilah Lemieux posting a pic encouraging support for ooey-gooey Planned Parenthood, saying, “Cute gift from my friends at @PPact (and I appreciate them for using a small WOC-owned business!) #PPsmoresupport.”

WOC stands for women of color, a demographic of which Lemieux and s’more abortion candy stylist Nila Nicholas both belong.

Did Lemieux and Nicholas miss the woolly mammoth in the room, which is the fact the abortion industry originated from the eugenics movement? And that Planned Parenthood targets minority women? Did they also miss when Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s Louisiana state director was forced to resign earlier this year for her racist remarks to a women of color gathering?

Santa brought poetic justice to those in the respect life movement this Christmas, as Dupree is also reporting that the Planned Parenthood Please Sir, May I Have S’more Money for Abortion campaign has backfired, with some great resulting humor.

There was one hashtag in the abortion marshmallow’s favor, as of Dupree’s reporting, and from what I saw it was Lemieux’s. But, and here’s the cue to look in your pro-life stocking, there’s many s’more making a mockery of it.

We won’t link because many are crude, but it begs the question, that gosh, if the abortion-and-destroying-lives-for-profit movement weren’t so dog-gone nasty, then why would those responding feel the need to meet it where it is?

I think a more honest marshmallow would tell the real deal about Planned Parenthood, but that tale’s already been scripted in Hell, and the poor little guy would burn up before Cecile Richards could say, “My ginormous half-million-dollar salary helps low-income women.”

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