All articles from October 05, 2017


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Archbishop Paglia with Pope Francis Vincenzo Paglia / www.vincenzopaglia.it
Stefano Gennarini, J.D.

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Vatican academy reinterprets ‘pro-life’ to include environment and migration

Stefano Gennarini, J.D.

NEW YORK, October 6 (C-Fam) – After a year of turmoil and speculation about its future, the Pontifical Academy for Life is holding its first plenary session at the Vatican.

Pope Francis addressed the plenary of the academy on Thursday. In a powerful and unambiguous speech, he urged it to fight gender ideology, which he called a “utopia.”

Being pro-life requires the academy to “re-think the semantic value of the term 'life,'” said the President of the academy, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, during a press conference on Monday.

He said there were no plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (on Human Life) next year and that the academy was instead opening “new frontiers for debate,” mentioning specifically the environment, migration and arms control.

The term life “cannot be restricted to specifically bioethical perspectives, if not in an even more limited way,” Paglia explained, referring to the past work of the academy on abortion and bioethics issues like conscientious objection, end of life health care, euthanasia, cloning, embryo research, and reproductive technologies.

“If we must be pro-life we must be always, in every way, and everywhere pro-life,” he added, citing Pope Francis.

Former member of the academy Luke Gormally told the Friday Fax the academy had been in a “bad way” and welcomed the efforts to reform the body. But he questioned “demoting” the focus of the academy on bioethics, pointing to the rapid development of new reproductive technologies and a bevy of normative activity on bioethics issues.

“The original idea of the academy is that there should be interdisciplinary work between philosophy, theology, law, science, and the pro-life front in ways that provided arguments and positions for policymakers,” Gormally explained.

When he last attended the plenary of the academy in 2015 there were plans to commemorate Humanae Vitae in 2018. They must have been scrapped, he said.

The Academy was founded by Pope John Paul II in 1994 in large part for legendary pro-life scientist Dr. Jerome Lejeune in order to bring together scientists from the “various branches of the biomedical sciences” to “study and provide information and training about the principal problems of law and biomedicine pertaining to the promotion and protection of life, especially in the direct relationship they have with Christian morality and the directives of the Church’s Magisterium.”

Gormally said the golden period of the Academy was under the leadership of Cardinal Elio Sgreccia as both President and Chancellor. A flurry of activity at the academy during that period led to cutting-edge discussions and guidance from the academy on topics such as cloning, embryo research, biotechnology, abortion, euthanasia, including a very important collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Dignitas Personae (The Dignity of the Human Person).

“The academy has been listened to a great deal in its history, and I think it can still have an impact,” Cardinal Sgreccia told the Friday Fax, pointing to work of the academy acknowledged widely in public debates, including at the United Nations.

Cardinal Sgreccia, now an honorary consultor, indicated that many of the “new” topics have always been within the academy’s purview, including social justice and environmental ethics.

He pointed to the “Encyclopedia of Bioethics and Legal Science,” which he co-edited, as a compendium of insights and reflections from his many years of work at the academy, with contributions from many of its members.

Sgreccia said he hoped the academy would continue to respond to present events and needs.

This week’s plenary session will focus on reproductive technologies, end-of-life care, and palliative care.

Editor’s note: Reprinted by permission of C-Fam. 

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U.S. fertility rate plummets to new record low

Population Research Institute
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October 5, 2017 (Population Research Institute) – The last year of the Obama administration saw the fertility rate fall to an all-time low.

According to recent data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the U.S. fertility rate sank to a record low of 62.0 births per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 2016.

This was a slight decrease from the 2015 fertility rate which stood at 62.5. The downward trend is not showing signs of stopping either. According to NCHS preliminary estimates, fertility slumped even lower to 61.5 in the first quarter of 2017.

The U.S. birth rate—a slightly different measure of fertility—also fell among younger women, 15-29 years of age. A small increase in births among women 30 years of age and older was not enough to make up for the decline among younger women.

The Great Depression led to a staggering drop in fertility rates.

The current fertility decline is similarly driven by the still-lingering effects of the Great Recession of 2007.

Studies have shown that unemployment[1],[2] and employment uncertainty[3] adversely affect the birth rate overall and lead young people to postpone marriage. Both for male and female unemployment affects fertility, though the effect remains stronger for male unemployment.[4]  Fertility is also more likely to decline in developed countries when Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracts.[5]

A decline in the birth rate has also been found to be linked with other economic indicators such as per capita GDP, per capita income, the number of first-time unemployment claims, and consumer confidence.[6]

The Great Recession has fallen particularly hard on young adults who play a major role in contributing to the overall fertility rate. Following the 2007-16 Great Recession (which is more accurately referred to as a second Great Depression), many young adults have struggled to enter the workforce, to find affordable housing, and to accumulate wealth, prerequisites necessary in contemporary American society for partnership and family formation.

The Great Recession has also fallen particularly hard on Hispanics, a demographic that, for the past few decades, has helped boost the fertility rate in the U.S. While non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white women have seen a modest decrease in fertility by 7.3 and 1.7 births per 1,000 women of reproductive age from 2007-2015 respectively, Hispanic women have seen a precipitous decline of 25.7 births per 1,000 women over the same time period.[7]

According to NCHS, the total fertility rate in the U.S. in 2015 was 1.84. This rate sits below the replacement fertility rate, the rate of births necessary for population replacement. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, replacement fertility in the U.S. is estimated to average 2.07 from 2015-2020.

If birth rates continue to decline, and immigration drops off, the impact on the U.S. economy could be significant. Population growth, or more specifically, an increase in the labor force, is a key determinant of economic growth. Economists estimate that as much as one third of economic growth is attributable to workers being added to the labor force every year.

Low birth rates correspond to aging population.  The U.S. is facing a substantial increase in its dependency ratio as the Baby Boomers retire, and working-age adults must replace the productivity thus lost and pay for entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

To maintain productivity, one solution is to work longer hours or to postpone retirement. But, given there are only so many hours in a day and only so many additional years the elderly can be expected to work, there is only so much lost productivity that can be compensated for in this way. Barring a major technological breakthrough to boost productivity and efficiency, demographic decline will almost certainly have a net drag effect on the economy.

Will birth rates rebound?  As the Great Recession recedes into memory, and as the Trump economic policies stimulate growth, birth rates will likely increase again.  They did, after all, following the Great Depression.

But the demographic recovery this time around is unlikely to be nearly as robust as it was during the Baby Boom. American society has changed. Fertility rates are unlikely to reach former levels because desired fertility goals in the U.S. overall have declined.

In recent decades, however, women have increasingly opted to postpone childbearing. The shift has been so consistent across the U.S. that the birth rate for women in the 30-34 age group has now surpassed the 20-24 age group. There are far fewer teenage brides than in years past, and more and more young women are choosing college over childbearing.

A more educated population is, of course, vital to continued economic growth.  But so is a healthy birth rate. Are young couples merely postponing childbearing until they are older and have completed their education.  Or are they foregoing it altogether?

It may be too soon to tell which way fertility will trend, post-Great Recession. While many couples initially seemed to merely postpone having children as when the downturn hit, recent fertility data seems to indicate that, as the Obama recession dragged on year after year, many ultimately revised their fertility goals downward. Couples who postponed births have generally yet to make-up for the loss, proving once again that fertility delayed is fertility denied.

The solution, in our opinion, is an expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). Senator Marco Rubio has long advocated increasing the maximum credit from $1,000 to $2,500, as well as making it fully refundable. A fully refundable CTC would reduce the taxes of working families across the board.  This in turn would be a powerful inducement for them to have another child. After all, children are the only future a family—or a nation—has.

[1] D’Addio AC, d’Ercole MM. Trends and determinants of fertility rates: The role of policies. OECD Publishing; 2005 Sep 2.

[2] Schmitt C. Gender-specific effects of unemployment on family formation: a cross-national perspective 2008; SOEPpaper No. 127; DIW Berlin Discussion Paper No. 841.

[3] Sobotka T, Skirbekk V, Philipov D. Economic recession and fertility in the developed world. Population and Development Review 2011; 37(2): 267-306.

[4] According to observation made by: Sobotka (2011).

[5] Relationship dissipates in multivariate model, however. See Sobotka (2011).

[6] Fokkema T, de Valk H, De Beer J, van Duin C. The Netherlands: Childbearing within the context of a “Poldermodel” society. Demographic Research 2008; 19(21): 743-794.

[7] Calculated using data from: Martin JA, Hamilton BE, Osterman MJK, Driscoll AK, Mathews TJ, Division of Vital Statistics. Births: Final data for 2015. National vital statistics reports. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics 2017; 66(1): 32-33.

Editor's note: Reprinted by permission from Population Research Institute.

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Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania's 18th district. murphy.house.gov
Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

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‘Pro-life’ Congressman who asked mistress to have abortion resigns

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 5, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The “pro-life” Republican Congressman who suggested his mistress procure an abortion if she was pregnant is resigning from the U.S. House later this month.

Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, announced the news today in a brief statement.

“This afternoon I received a letter of resignation from Congressman Tim Murphy, effective October 21,” Ryan said. “It was Dr. Murphy's decision to move on to the next chapter of his life, and I support it. We thank him for his many years of tireless work on mental health issues here in Congress and his service to the country as a naval reserve officer.”

Murphy announced Wednesday that he wouldn’t seek re-election when his term ended in January 2019. 

“In the coming weeks I will take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties and seek healing,” Murphy said. “I ask you to respect our privacy during this time.” 

Murphy's October 4 statement said he'd spend the remainder of his term working on mental health issues.

Politico’s Rachel Bade attributed Murphy’s resignation to “pressure” from his colleagues in the House.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette revealed earlier this week that text messages from the cell phone of Rep. Tim Murphy, who self-identifies as pro-life, said he “winced” at pro-life statements his staff wrote for him.

“And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options,” Murphy’s mistress, Shannon Edwards, wrote to him via text message on January 25, just days before the annual March for Life.

He admitted to having an affair with Edwards about a month ago. Murphy is in the middle of a divorce.

The text message response sent from Murphy’s phone said: “I get what you say about my March for life messages. I've never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don't write any more. I will.”

Murphy represents Pennsylvania’s 18th district. Located in Southwest Pennsylvania stretching to the Pittsburgh suburbs, it was historically Democratic but socially conservative. It’s now turned red; fifty-eight percent of the district voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Murphy ran unopposed in the primary and general election in 2016.

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Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Insanity: UK gov’t pays for transgender teens to freeze sperm and eggs

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

LONDON, England, October 5, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- The U.K. government is paying for gender-confused boys as young as 12 to freeze their sperm so that after they “transition” to having no male genitals, they can still father children.

The government is also paying for gender-confused girls as young as 16 to freeze their eggs so that if they decide to undergo a hysterectomy as part of a “transition” surgery, they still have the option of having their own children. 

The service is being carried out through the tax-payer funded National Health Service (NHS), reported Daily Mail

NHS clinics are freezing sperm and eggs from gender-confused children at a cost to the taxpayers of $530 (£400) and $5300 (£4,000) respectively. Storage cost another $400 (£300) to taxpayers annually.  

Once the sperm and eggs are securely frozen, the children begin taking puberty-blocking hormones to destroy their fertility.

The gender-confused teens must first undergo a psychological assessment and be diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” before they are eligible to have their sperm and eggs preserved. 

Gary Butler, head clinician for gender dysphoric minors at London’s University College Hospital (UCH), suggested that freezing sperm and eggs is worthy of public funding because it is not a “lifestyle choice” that promps the transpatients he serves to undergo a transition.

“They are following their biological and psychological make-up about their identity,” he said. 

“If (transgenders) want to become parents and raise a family...it’s the right of the individual to be able to do that,” he added. 

But Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who used to head the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority Ethics Committee, said that taxpayers should not be forced to pay for someone else’s fertility problem. 

“The NHS is about treating people who are ill – that’s what we pay our taxes for,” the Anglican leader said.  “It is not to aid people’s various wishes about what they want to do with their bodies or their futures.”

“With increasing pressure on the NHS and so many essential services not being delivered, where are these funds for fertility treatment coming from?” he said.

The Daily Mail noted that the cost to taxpayers of providing fertility services to transgender teens is expected to rise as “more young people say they have been born the wrong sex.”

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Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

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Costa Rica doctors accused of illegally harvesting organs for U.S. clients face trial

Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, October 5, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Costa Rica is fast becoming an “epicentre for illegal organ trafficking,” a lawyer and human trafficking expert is warning. 

Four Costa Rican doctors and a Greek pizzeria owner are currently on trial in San Jose with charges of trafficking illegally-sourced organs between 2011 and 2013. 

The gang’s customers were patients from Israel, Europe, and even the U.S., anyone who was eager to jump to the front of the line for new kidneys. Spurred on by clients willing to pay as much as $140,000 USD per organ, the organ trafficking ring actively sought out poor Costa Ricans as “donors.” 

“Costa Rica may be transforming from a tiny player in the global organ trafficking trade into an epicenter for illegal organ trafficking, in large part due to corruption that has helped fuel a sophisticated transplant tourism industry, as well as the global imbalance between the limited supply of kidneys and the high demand for transplants,” human trafficking expert Luz Estella Ortiz-Nagle told La Nacion in an extensive interview

Paying people for their organs is illegal in Costa Rica.

The San Jose trafficking ring was allegedly led by kidney specialist Francisco Jose Mora Palma, then the head of the nephrology unit at the publically funded Rafael Angel Calderon Guardia Hospital in San Jose. 

Other doctors on trial are urologists Fabian Fonseca Guzman and Massimiliano Mauro Stamati, as well as peripheral vascular specialist Victor Hugo Monge. 

The fifth man accused is Dimosthenis Katsigiannis Karkasi, the owner of a pizzeria across the street from Rafael Angel Calderon Guardia hospital.

Over twenty-five witnesses have come forward, among them a former Costa Rican national police officer named Maureen Cordero Solano. 

One of the gang’s victims, Solano allegedly received 6 million colones (about $10,400 USD) for one of her kidneys. She also became a recruiter for the gang, allegedly earning $1,000 USD for every “donor” she found. 

Solano would send cash-strapped “donors” to Karkasi’s pizzeria, where Karkasi allegedly offered them up to 10,000 colones (around $17,400 USD) per kidney. He then took them to meet Doctor Maura Palma for a consultation and examination.

Next, the “donor” would be sent to one of the private hospitals in which Mora Palma worked. The doctor, assisted by the urologists and peripheral vascular specialist, would then remove his or her kidney and transplant it into a recipient.

Recipients allegedly paid at least $140,000 USD for the operation, believing the “donor” would get $40,000. Mora Palma then paid the “donor” in cash after he or she signed a notarized document stating they hadn’t received payment for their “donation”.  

Mora Palma has been charged with 14 counts of human trafficking for the purposes of organ harvesting and 16 counts of embezzlement, since he used the resources of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund to commit his alleged crimes. 

The trial, expected to run until the end of November, has been a long time in coming. Costa Rican authorities were tipped off to Mora Palma when in 2012 Ukrainian police found a Costa Rican telephone number in the possession of two Ukrainian organ traffickers. Costa Rican police discovered that Mora Palma had had several phone conversations with the men. 

Mora Palma and the other doctors were arrested in 2013. The question remains who else besides these four, the pizzeria owner, the hapless “donors,” and the kidney recipients, knowingly participated in the San Jose organ trafficking? 

In her interview with La Nacion, Ortiz-Nagle hinted at widespread involvement.

“Corrupt officials in various sectors is an essential aspect for these networks to operate successfully, given the breadth of their operations,” she said. 

"There is a facilitator or recruiter who locates the victim or donor … an international coordinator or broker, a site for the transplant, a recipient … who receives the donation, and medical professionals: transplant doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses, medical technicians, laboratories and hospital administrators," she added. 

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Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

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Vatican hosts conference on child abuse while shielding priest wanted for child porn

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

VATICAN CITY, Italy, October 5, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A veteran Vatican watcher noted a “day of irony in Rome” this week as the Holy See conducted a conference on protecting children from internet-based sexual abuse while simultaneously harboring inside its walls a Vatican diplomat wanted by police for possessing child porn. 

“This is not to pre-judge the guilt or innocence of anyone,” Dr. Robert Moynihan wrote in an October 3 letter to his subscribers. “It is merely to note the irony of Church sponsorship for a conference on global child pornography while charges of breaking child pornography laws are outstanding against a monsignor who works for the Vatican and who is enjoying immunity due to his diplomatic status and living in the Vatican.”

Moynihan, founder and editor-in-chief of Inside the Vatican magazine, began his newsletter quoting part of the opening address from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, Tuesday at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome for the conference, "Child Dignity in the Digital World.” 

The event is being held October 3-6 and was organized by the Gregorian University’s Center for Child Protection.

The cardinal cautioned against humans allowing themselves to be dominated by technical, economic, and political forces. He said the power of sexual desire is a positive thing when it advances human life, but it must be elevated and directed to avoid corruption and abuse.

Moynihan then detailed some conference specifics, including that upon its conclusion, participating experts, academics, executives, civilian leaders, politicians and religious representatives from across the world would present a final statement on the conference to Pope Francis.

“At the same time, a Vatican diplomat, accused by Canadian authorities of downloading child pornography in Canada, is being housed inside Vatican City, protected by the Vatican's sovereign diplomatic immunity from arrest by Canadian police, reportedly receiving friends and strolling in the same Vatican Gardens where Emeritus Pope Benedict takes his daily walk,” Moynihan wrote.

The Vatican recalled a high-ranking priest working as a diplomat for the Holy See’s embassy in Washington D.C. in mid-September after the State Department sought to lift his immunity and potentially indict him with possession of child pornography.

The Vatican has said the priest will undergo internal investigation and possible trial in Vatican City.

Critics have reportedly charged the Vatican with protecting its diplomat by calling him back to Vatican City – a sovereign state - before he could be charged in the U.S.

"By the irony of the fate, while today at the Gregorian University, in the presence of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, an international summit was opened to discuss how to protect children from the predators who every day exchange millions of images of abused minors, the Pope in Santa Martha for several days has been faced with a case as embarrassing as it is troubling: an Italian monsignor sought by the authorities in Canada for the exchange of pedo-pornographic material but at the moment safe in the Vatican thanks to diplomatic immunity,” wrote Franca Giansoldati in the Roman daily newspaper, Il Messaggero. 

“Needless to say, nobody wants to talk about this case," said Giansoldati, adding: "This is a very embarrassing situation for the Pope, who now has to decide what to do."

Moynihan said that the bible has stark words for those who abuse children. 

“Scripture recalls only two occasions when Jesus became filled with righteous anger,” he said. “One was when he picked up a whip to cast the moneychangers from the Temple area. The other was when he warned all who might harm or abuse children of the terrible evil of such acts, of the terrible evil that is abuse of children.”

The irony created by the Vatican conducting a conference on protecting children from sexual abuse on the internet while it deals with charges against one of its diplomats for of child pornography possession echoes the uproar last year after the Vatican released a controversial sex ed program for young people during World Youth Day in Poland.  

The Pontifical Council for the Family unveiled “The Meeting Point: Course of Affective Sexual Education for Young People” last July to pilgrims at World Youth Day. 

Pro-life and family advocates sounded the alarm on the program for its use of sexually explicit images and immoral videos. They also said it ignored the 6th and 9th commandments, neglected any mention of sexual sins, and conflicted with previous Church teaching.

Some called the program “thoroughly immoral,” “entirely inappropriate,” and “quite tragic,” while one expert said it was “the most dangerous threat to Catholic youth” in 40 years.

Moynihan concluded by encouraging Catholics to by and large turn the Internet off and invest more in human interaction to combat exploitation of children and ideas that debase human passions.

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Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

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Majority of Quebec caregivers approve killing dementia patients, even without consent

Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

MONTREAL, Quebec, October 5, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A majority of caregivers in Quebec support euthanasia for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia, even if the patients had not previously signed an advance directive.

According to a recent survey, ninety-one percent of 302 caregivers surveyed said they favored euthanasia for people with dementia who were in the terminal stage of the illness, showed signs of distress, and had signed an advance directive to be euthanized, reported the Montreal Gazette.

But as many as seventy-two percent still supported euthanasia for dementia patients, even when the patients had not signed an advance directive.

The survey was performed by University of Sherbrooke epidemiologist Dina Bravo. Some dozen chapters of the Quebec Federation of Alzheimer’s Groups assisted by collecting data.

“This story chills me to my bones,” responded American anti-euthanasia activist Wesley Smith in the National Review

The disease “can be far worse on the caregiver than it is on the afflicted, who often don’t remember their worst moments,” wrote Smith, who cared for his mother, an Alzheimer’s patient, in his home for five months before her death.

“Anyone who doesn’t see the potential for caregivers working to put the patient out of their own misery, is ignoring the foibles of human nature,” he said. 

Neither Quebec’s nor Canada’s euthanasia law allows advance directives for euthanasia.

Quebec’s Bill 52 stipulates a person requesting death by lethal injection must do so “in a free and informed matter,” reported the Gazette

But that may change.

Advance directives may come soon

Quebec’s Liberal Health Minister Gaetan Barrette tasked a parliamentary commission in March to begin consultations on advance directives.

Barrette, who expects the consultations to last about a year, said the time was right because more people in the province than expected had asked to be killed by lethal injection.

“As a doctor and a minister, I think that Quebeckers are ready,” he told Canadian Press.

Ten months after the province’s euthanasia law took effect in December 2015, Barrette expressed surprise that the number of people requesting to be killed by euthanasia was three times higher than he anticipated. 

There were 461 reported euthanasia killings in Quebec in the first year it was legal, the CBC reported in March.

When announcing the panel on expanding euthanasia, Barrette also referred to the case of 56-year-old Michel Cadotte.

The Montreal man was charged in February with second-degree murder after allegedly smothering his wife, 60-year-old Jocelyn Lizotte, with a pillow in a nursing home.

Lizotte suffered from Alzheimer’s. Her nephew told CBC the family’s request that she be euthanized was refused.

The charge against Cadotte, whose trial was in July, was used in the media to spark debate on allowing advance directives.

When Quebec wanted to legalize euthanasia in 2014, the government classified it as a “health service” and therefore it fell under provincial jurisdiction, noted Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention. 

If Quebec again acts unilaterally to expand euthanasia by allowing advance directives, the federal Liberals could choose to look the other way, he told LifeSiteNews.

But it appears that the federal Liberals are themselves looking to expand euthanasia.

They asked the Council of Canadian Academics to set up a panel and report by 2018 on advance directives, as well as euthanasia for children, and solely for mental illness. 

The danger of advance directives for degenerative diseases like dementia is “you can’t change your mind now because you’re incompetent,” Schadenberg said.

With medical directives, people will often change their minds and opt for treatment they earlier said they wouldn’t want, he pointed out. “You can’t revert from death. Once you’re dead, you’re dead.”

Moreover, the crucial question becomes “who decides” that the conditions for euthanasia an individual consented to in advance have been met, Schadenberg said. 

Indeed, the Telegraph reported in January a Dutch woman who signed an advance directive to be euthanized “at the right time” was held down by her family as she fought to stop her doctor, who had decided the time was right, from lethally injecting her. 

The doctor was cleared of wrongdoing under the Dutch euthanasia law.

Moreover, there’s also clear evidence doctors in the Netherlands and Belgium are killing people without their consent even though “it’s not technically legal,” Schadenberg said.

A 2015 survey of doctors showed more than 1,000 people in the Flanders region of Belgium were euthanized without consent in 2013, he told LifeSiteNews. 

Similarly, in January 2017 the Netherlands released its report of 2015 euthanasia deaths, which documented 431 people killed by lethal injection without their consent.

“If you look at that data and you analyze that data, you realize that nearly all of those deaths were people who were in a coma and had dementia,” Schadenberg told LifeSiteNews.

“Once you legalize euthanasia, you’re giving the power over life and death over to doctors, or in Canada, doctors and nurse practitioners” who may “view your life as not worth living,” he said.

“Now we’re placing the value that someone holds for my life into the balance of whether or not I live or die. That’s a ridiculous situation,” added Schadenberg.

That “suffering due to Alzheimer’s disease sometimes falls heavier on caregivers than on patients” and that caregiving “can be exhausting and heartbreaking, and sometimes perilous to the caregivers’ health” cannot be ignored or sugar-coated, writes Smith.

“But allowing caregivers to order doctors (or nurses) to end the patient’s life is a bridge too far,” he points out.

“If a society is judged by the way in which it treats its most vulnerable citizens, we will reject the killing agenda and focus our efforts on mitigating suffering and promoting better care.” 

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Matthew McCusker

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St. Joseph’s forgotten role in Fatima’s ‘Miracle of the Sun’

Matthew McCusker

October 5, 2017, (Voice Of The Family) – 13 October 2017 will be the centenary of the Miracle of Sun and the final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. Despite being essential for understanding the period of history that we are now living through, the details of these remarkable events are far too little known, including amongst Catholics. In this article, we wish to draw attention to the much-neglected role of St Joseph during that momentous event.

Following the Miracle of Sun, and at the culmination of Our Lady’s final apparition, St Joseph also appeared to the three young seers. Father John de Marchi, in his book The True Story of Fatima, describes it as follows:

To the left of the sun, Saint Joseph appeared holding in his left arm the Child Jesus. Saint Joseph emerged from the bright clouds only to his chest, sufficient to allow him to raise his right hand and make, together with the Child Jesus, the Sign of the Cross three times over the world. As Saint Joseph did this, Our Lady stood in all Her brilliancy to the right of the sun, dressed in the blue and white robes of Our Lady of the Rosary. Meanwhile, Francisco and Jacinta were bathed in the marvelous colors and signs of the sun, and Lucia was privileged to gaze upon Our Lord dressed in red as the Divine Redeemer, blessing the world, as Our Lady had foretold. Like Saint Joseph, He was seen only from His chest up. Beside Him stood Our Lady, dressed now in the purple robes of Our Lady of Sorrows, but without the sword. Finally, the Blessed Virgin appeared again to Lucia in all Her ethereal brightness, clothed in the simple brown robes of Mount Carmel.

This final apparition at Fatima points us towards three particular forms of devotion towards Our Lady that we are called to practice during this “final battle” against Satan. These are devotion to:

  • her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart

  • the Holy Rosary

  • the Brown Scapular.

However, it is of the greatest importance to note that the final apparition of Fatima also directs us towards the intercession of St Joseph, whom Our Lord intimately associated with Himself in his blessing of the world.

Father de Marchi wrote:

Our Lord, already so much offended by the sins of mankind and particularly by the mistreatment of the children by the officials of the county, could easily have destroyed the world on that eventful day. However, Our Lord did not come to destroy, but to save. He saved the world that day through the blessing of good Saint Joseph and the love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for Her children on earth. Our Lord would have stopped the great World War then raging and given peace to the world through Saint Joseph, Jacinta later declared, if the children had not been arrested and taken to Ourém.

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December 1870, Blessed Pope Pius IX, following appeals received from bishops worldwide, had declared St Joseph to be Patron of the Universal Church, “in this most sorrowful time” when “the Church herself is beset by enemies on every side and oppressed by heavy calamities, so that impious men imagine that the gates of Hell are at length prevailing against her.”

Pope Leo XIII, to whom it was revealed in 1884 that Satan would be given, for a time, increased power to work for the destruction the Church, instituted a new devotion to St Joseph in his encyclical letter Quamquam pluries, promulgated on the Feast of the Assumption, 15 August 1889. The Supreme Pontiff wrote:

During periods of stress and trial – chiefly when every lawlessness of act seems permitted to the powers of darkness – it has been the custom in the Church to plead with special fervour and perseverance to God, her author and protector, by recourse to the intercession of the saints – and chiefly of the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God – whose patronage has ever been the most efficacious.

He further explained:

We see faith, the root of all the Christian virtues, lessening in many souls; we see charity growing cold; the young generation daily growing in depravity of morals and views; the Church of Jesus Christ attacked on every side by open force or by craft; a relentless war waged against the Sovereign Pontiff; and the very foundations of religion undermined with a boldness which waxes daily in intensity. These things are, indeed, so much a matter of notoriety that it is needless for Us to expatiate on the depths to which society has sunk in these days, or on the designs which now agitate the minds of men. In circumstances so unhappy and troublous, human remedies are insufficient, and it becomes necessary, as a sole resource, to beg for assistance from the Divine power.

More than a century after the promulgation of this encyclical the evils identified by Pope Leo XIII have intensified to a degree that would have been inconceivable to most people in 1889. Thousands of innocent children are slaughtered every day with the approval of the governments that ought to be defending them, the sanctity of marriage is defiled by divorce, adultery and contraception, and the bonds between parents and their children are being deliberately targeted for destruction by the most powerful states and institutions in the world. Worst of all, the Pope himself is responsible for the spread of heresies which are leading the flock away from Christ and towards eternal damnation.

Pope Leo XIII urged the faithful, just as Our Lady would do twenty-eight years later at Fatima, to combat these evils through the prayer of the Holy Rosary:

 At this proximity of the month of October, which We have already consecrated to the Virgin Mary, under the title of Our Lady of the Rosary, We earnestly exhort the faithful to perform the exercises of this month with, if possible, even more piety and constancy than heretofore. We know that there is sure help in the maternal goodness of the Virgin, and We are very certain that We shall never vainly place Our trust in her. If, on innumerable occasions, she has displayed her power in aid of the Christian world, why should We doubt that she will now renew the assistance of her power and favour, if humble and constant prayers are offered up on all sides to her? Nay, We rather believe that her intervention will be the more marvellous as she has permitted Us to pray to her, for so long a time, with special appeals.

But then, once more anticipating Fatima, he directed the faithful also towards St Joseph:

But We entertain another object, which, according to your wont, Venerable Brethren, you will advance with fervour. That God may be more favourable to Our prayers, and that He may come with bounty and promptitude to the aid of His Church, We judge it of deep utility for the Christian people, continually to invoke with great piety and trust, together with the Virgin-Mother of God, her chaste Spouse, the Blessed Joseph; and We regard it as most certain that this will be most pleasing to the Virgin herself.

He further explained:

the divine house which Joseph ruled with the authority of a father, contained within its limits the scarce-born Church. From the same fact that the most holy Virgin is the mother of Jesus Christ is she the mother of all Christians whom she bore on Mount Calvary amid the supreme throes of the Redemption; Jesus Christ is, in a manner, the first-born of Christians, who by the adoption and Redemption are his brothers. And for such reasons the Blessed Patriarch looks upon the multitude of Christians who make up the Church as confided specially to his trust – this limitless family spread over the earth, over which, because he is the spouse of Mary and the Father of Jesus Christ he holds, as it were, a paternal authority. It is, then, natural and worthy that as the Blessed Joseph ministered to all the needs of the family at Nazareth and girt it about with his protection, he should now cover with the cloak of his heavenly patronage and defend the Church of Jesus Christ.

Therefore the Holy Father instituted a new prayer to said after the Holy Rosary throughout the month of October. He intended this prayer to be said, not just in October 1889, but in October every year. As we prepare for the centenary of the Miracle of Sun, let us learn the lesson of St Joseph’s apparition at Fatima, and turn to him for help and protection.

St Joseph, terror of demons, pray for us!

Reminder: This coming Friday and Saturday are the First Friday and First Saturday of October.

***

Prayer of Pope Leo XIII to St Joseph after the Holy Rosary for the month of October

To thee, O blessed Joseph, do we have recourse in our tribulation, and having implored the help of thy thrice holy Spouse, we confidently invoke thy patronage also. By that charity wherewith thou wast united to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and by that fatherly affection with which thou didst embrace the Child Jesus, we beseech thee and we humbly pray, that thou wouldst look graciously upon the inheritance which Jesus Christ hath purchased by His Blood, and assist us in our needs by thy power and strength.

Most watchful Guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen people of Jesus Christ; keep far from us, most loving father, all blight of error and corruption: mercifully assist us from heaven, most mighty defender, in this our conflict with the powers of darkness; and, even as of old thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the supreme peril of his life, so now defend God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; keep us one and all under thy continual protection, that we may be supported by thine example and thine assistance, may be enabled to lead a holy life, die a happy death and come at last to the possession of everlasting blessedness in heaven. Amen.

Litany of St Joseph

Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy

Christ, have mercy

Christ, have mercy

Lord, have mercy

Lord, have mercy

Christ, hear us

Christ, graciously hear us

God the Father of Heaven                          have mercy on us

God the Son, Redeemer of the world

God the Holy Spirit

Holy Trinity, one God

Holy Mary                                                       pray for us

Saint Joseph

Renowned offspring of David

Light of patriarchs

Spouse of the Mother of God

Chaste guardian of the Virgin

Foster-father of the Son of God

Diligent protector of Christ

Head of the holy family

Joseph most just

Joseph most chaste

Joseph most prudent

Joseph most brave

Joseph most obedient

Joseph most faithful

Mirror of patience

Lover of poverty

Model of artisans

Glory of home life

Guardian of virgins

Pillar of families

Solace of the wretched

Hope of the sick

Patron of the dying

Terror of demons

Protector of the holy Church

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us

V. He made him lord of His House

R. And ruler of all His possessions

Let us pray

O God, Who, in Thine ineffable Providence didst vouchsafe to choose blessed Joseph to be the Spouse of Thy most holy Mother; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may be worthy to have him for our intercessor in Heaven whom, on earth, we venerate as our protector. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Editor's note: Reprinted by permission from Voice of the Family. 

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LGBT lobby wants to ban sex-change reversal research. Here’s why.

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October 5, 2017, (LifeSiteNews) -- A British university’s decision to abruptly cancel research into trans people who decide to revert to the sex they were born with has ignited a controversy over academic freedom and political correctness in the U.K. 

Psychotherapist James Caspian found out about leftist intolerance the hard way when he proposed a research project on the topic of "detransitioning" to Bath Spa University, in southwest England. 

Caspian wanted to study the growing number of people who regret their "gender reassignment" procedures. (“Gender reassignment” is the politically correct term for altering the body through surgery and hormones to appear like the opposite sex.) 

The university initially approved Caspian’s research application but then rejected it

The British Guardian newspaper reports: “When he went back with his preliminary findings that suggested growing numbers of young people, particularly [transgender] women, were regretting gender reassignment, Bath Spa said his proposal would have to be resubmitted to the ethics committee, which rejected it.” [In this context, trans “women” are biological males who “transitioned” to look like and live as “women.”] 

Upon learning of the reversal, Caspian said he was “astonished” and inquired as to why.

“The fundamental reason given was that it might cause criticism of the research on social media, and criticism of the research would be criticism of the university. They also added it’s better not to offend people,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today last month.

Caspian is decidedly pro-"transgender." According to his bio, since 2001 he has been a Trustee of the Beaumont Trust, a British charity "dedicated to education about and support of transgendered, transsexual and cross-dressing individuals."

A perusal of Beaumont Trust's website reveals it to be very friendly to "transgender" ideology. For example, one piece on the site inveighs against "internalized transphobia," the "T" parallel to "internalized homophobia" (an idea used to rationalize homosexuality as a natural and normal “orientation”).

Sounding like an American conservative free speech advocate fighting leftist campus political intolerance, Caspian said, "A university exists to encourage discussion, research, dissent even, challenging ideas that are out of date or not particularly useful.”

LGBTQ activist veto?

The Guardian reports that Bath Spa also cited potential damage to the university's reputation by unnamed "blogs or social media" as justification for cancelling Caspian’s project.

“The posting of unpleasant material on blogs or social media may be detrimental to the reputation of the university,” said a university spokesman, without specifically naming the vocal “transgender” lobby that is already attempting to discredit “detransitioning.”

Caspian went out of his way to stress that his research was intended not to harm but to help “transgender” people, telling the Guardian: “I’ve worked for many years with people who have transitioned their gender and I think that when people feel marginalized and vulnerable to criticism, they are very sensitive to anything they may perceive as that, and feel afraid.”

“The idea we might use the information from the research that I was going to do in a way that would not help people is completely wrong,” he said. “The research is necessary to really help people.”

Meanwhile, in America, fear of “trans” activist protests led Philadelphia organizers to cancel two scheduled workshops on “detransitioning” at an annual “trans health” conference in August. Both canceled speakers were pro-LGBT and merely wanted to address health concerns surrounding people who seek to return to living as their inborn sex.

As in the British example, organizers of the Philadelphia event cited concerns over “controversy” and making “sure that the debate does not get out of control at the conference itself” —effectively granting a ‘heckler’s veto” to the vocal “transgender” activist protesters who oppose detransitioning and mischaracterize it as “anti-trans.”

‘Detransitioning’ movement booming?

Despite efforts by “transgender” activists to silence the discussion, there is evidence that a growing number of gender-confused people regret their decision to attempt to live as the opposite sex and are reversing their cross-sex pursuits. For most, that begins by stopping the ingestion of opposite-sex hormone treatments (testosterone for women wanting to be “men” and estrogen for men wanting to be “women”). 

Videos are proliferating of “transgender”-identified people who regret their opposite-sex “transition” procedures. There are dozens of “detransitioners” on YouTube, such as “Crash Chaos Cats,” a (biological) woman who has stopped after years of taking the male hormone testosterone. 

In an August 31 video on her blog, Crash Chaos Cats—who still has a beard from her sustained taking testosterone—said, “Educating health care providers about detransitioned people is more or less about teaching them what we need to be well and happy. It’s not about pushing any kind of anti-trans agenda.”

She said mere hostility by offended “trans” activists should not squelch debate and discussion of issues important to detransitioning people like her:

“I think it says a lot about the state of detransitioned people in regards to the larger trans community that I feel like I have to explain why someone like me would have an interest in attending a conference like Philly and basically prove that I don’t have any ill intentions towards trans people. I know a lot of trans people are totally fine with detransitioned people and wouldn’t have any problem hanging out with us. But some trans people are hostile to us and this hostility is now effectively making it more difficult for us to work towards getting our health care needs met. How is teaching therapists how to support detransitioning patients anti-trans? Other people’s discomfort with us took away an opportunity to educate mental health care workers about our needs as detransitioned people. That’s not ok.”

Walt Heyer, a successful businessman who once thought of himself as a “woman” named Laura and who went through “sex reassignment surgery” before leaving that lifestyle to live again naturally as a man, said the growing number of regretful “detransitioners” confirms what he has been saying for years: that many transsexuals are deeply unhappy, and even suicidal, after having the cross-sex surgery that was supposed to bring them lifetime contentment.

“I perhaps was the first to talk about this years ago,” Heyer told LifeSiteNews. “Everyone said I was nuts, so what will they say now?”

“Some day, the number of ‘detransitioners’ will eventually surpass the ones [transsexuals] who transition [ostensibly to the opposite sex]. You can mark my words,” predicted Heyer, who now, through his books and website, SexChangeRegret, urges men and women not to pursue body-disfiguring “gender reassignment” surgeries and cross-sex hormone therapies.

Parallels marginalization of ex-“gays”

The “detransitioning” debate parallels an ongoing one between “gay” activists and “ex-gays” regarding the changeability of homosexuality. For decades, homosexual activists have castigated and dismissed people like Stephen Black, Joseph Sciambra and Janet Boynes who have walked away from homosexuality--even denying their existence (it is often charged that they “never really were gay to begin with”). 

But despite the intense pressure against them — and a media that often echo LGBT talking points marginalizing ex-“gays” rather than investigate people whose lives have radically changed — men and women continue to find happiness after leaving their homosexual identity behind. Christian ministry like Restored Hope Network and Pure Passion Media seek to share their stories with the public.  

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MP Rachael Harder
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Here’s why failing Canadian politicians are demonizing Christians

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October 5, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- Earlier this week, Liberal and NDP Members of Parliament forced an unwilling Conservative to take the chair of the Status of Women Committee after blocking Lethbridge MP Rachael Harder from the position because of her pro-life views. 

The Liberal Party apparently thought that this was a wise move, with Liberal Pam Damoff nearly quivering with righteous indignation and Justin Trudeau, the Feminist PM, being more than happy to affirm that he was a big fan of independent women unless they held different opinions than his own. 

The Liberals claimed that Conservative leader Andrew Scheer was attempting to make abortion an issue again with his nomination of Harder, but the reaction of the public and the commentators was almost universally opposed to the Liberal move.

The decision of the Liberals to target Rachael Harder is not an isolated political event. 

Right across the country, Canadian politicians seem to have made the calculated decision that targeting people with pro-life or social conservative views—specifically Christians, as they don’t appear to have realized yet that their prohibitions and denunciations of those with traditional views will also include practicing Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs—is a great way to virtue-signal their intolerance of intolerance to the progressive public and create a scapegoat to attack viciously whenever a distraction is needed.

In Ontario, for example, Premier Kathleen Wynne is currently attempting to deflect attention from her abysmal economic record and skyrocketing hydro prices by banning peaceful protests outside abortion clinics, insinuating that pro-lifers posed a physical threat to abortion clinic staff. Her attorney general solemnly announced that they’d abandoned other legislation to work on the ban to ensure people were protected from people quietly praying or offering alternatives at the clinics. It’s also no coincidence that Trudeau’s Liberals decided to make an issue of Rachael Harder’s personal convictions at precisely the moment that a national uproar over their “tax reform” plan that would have taxed everyone but the millionaires in their own caucus was going on. 

In Alberta, the wildly unpopular NDP Premier Rachel Notley and her insidious Education Minister David Eggen have decided to attack United Conservative Party leadership candidate Jason Kenney for suggesting that parents should know what their children are up to when away from home and in the care of government employees. Notley announced that this was “super-cruel,” indicating that she thinks Alberta parents literally pose a physical threat to their children’s safety if informed of their activities, and Eggen announced that he was going to work on legislation to ensure that nobody would even be allowed to tell parents what their children were doing or what clubs they were joining. The Alberta NDP are clear: They are going to protect children from their parents, and protect the province from the evil Christians.

Unfortunately, there are a number of political opportunists who have decided that these attacks on Canada’s social conservatives are too effective to rebut, and that it is better to instead join in condemning them and competing with left-wing politicians for so-called “progressive” voters. Ontario’s Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown is the obvious example—he wooed social conservatives in order to secure the leadership of the party, and has now flipped on virtually everything, attempting to prove to Wynne’s voters that he is easily as liberal as she is. United Conservative Party leadership candidate Brian Jean of Alberta is another example—he has condemned social conservatives and suggested that they have no place in any party he leads in the past, but is trying to minimize those statements in order to secure the party leadership. If he wins, we will most likely see him turn into the Patrick of the Prairies.

It is important that Christians recognize what is going on here, and realize that our communities are being scapegoated in order to allow failing politicians to demonize their opponents and distract from their incompetence. There are actually far more Canadians from a wide range of cultural and religious beliefs who oppose the abortion status quo, disagree with radical sex education, and find much of the sexual ideology being pushed by Wynne, Brown, and Notley distasteful—which is why the backlash against Ontario’s sex education curriculum changes was not led by Christians, but by those of other faith backgrounds. It will be essential in the coming years to partner with other communities who also seek to pass on their values to their children without government interference and recognize that life and family are precious and of primary importance. 

Only when progressive politicians realize that their attempts to demonize and disenfranchise Christians for their convictions will result in the silencing of millions of Canadians from other communities will they be forced to pause.

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