All articles from October 11, 2017


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Judge rules against LGBT group that offered ‘fast track hormone treatment for kids’

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LONDON, England, October 11, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A taxpayer-funded UK transgender charity that supported a mother forcing her 7-year-old boy to live as a girl for nearly three years has been allegedly ordered to stay away from the child.

Moreover, Mermaids UK also had until October 6 advertised on its website “same day” sex change hormone treatment for children, reported Metro UK.

The hormone treatment is banned by British health authorities because it “causes irreversible changes and can compromise fertility later in life for anyone under 16,” it reported.

In a highly publicized custody dispute, Justice Anthony Hayden ruled last October that “Child J,” then 7 years old, be removed from his mother’s care and live with his father.

“I consider that (the mother) has caused significant emotional harm to (her son) in her active determination that he should be a girl,” Hayden wrote.

The mother had “pressed (the boy) into a gender identification that had far more to do with his mother’s needs and little, if anything, to do with his own.”

The legal proceedings began three years earlier when the father objected to not having contact with his son, and a lower-court judge ordered an inquiry, the Guardian reported at the time.

As “the litigation progressed, (the boy) came to be referred to predominantly by the feminine pronoun ‘she,’” wrote Hayden.

“I pause here to emphasize that J was, at this stage, between four and six years of age,” he added.

Hayden’s ruling sternly rebuked social services for “summarily disregarding” concerns by a “whole raft of multi-disciplinary agencies” because they “did not wish to appear to be challenging an emerging orthodoxy in such a high-profile issue.”

According to court materials, the social worker did not act because the boy’s mother had “appropriately taken on board support from the charity Mermaids,” he wrote.

Mermaids denounced Hayden’s ruling as “horrific,” asserted the boy wanted to be a girl and that there was “no evidence at all to support this judge’s views,” reported the Daily Mail.

The charity offers “family and individual support for gender diverse and transgender children and young people” and has received £35,000 ($46,230 US) from the UK ministry of education, it reported.

Moreover, until last Friday, the youth section of Mermaid’s website carried a message from Hamburg-based Dr. Birgit Möller, offering “fast-track hormone treatment for kids,” reported Metro.

“If the families are interested, we would set up a long evaluation appointment at our clinic (3-4 hours) and afterwards an appointment with the endocrinologist,” Möller wrote. “In case of an indication for hormone treatment, he would prescribe it the same day.”

Mermaids denies the court directly ordered it to stay away from the boy.

After last year’s decision, “the mother informed us that the judge had ordered the child should have no further contact with the charity,” it said in a statement published by Metro.

"While we have not received any legal notice to support this statement, we have respected this request,” Mermaids stated.

The charity is in “active discussion with a lawyer” regarding the Sunday Times article that initially reported the no-contact ban, it said.

Meanwhile, Hayden noted in his ruling the boy had settled in well with his father.

He “has become interested in Power Rangers, SpongeBob, superheroes and is constantly finding new interests. … It is striking that most of J’s interests are male-oriented,” Hayden wrote.

By all reports, the father “brought no pressure on J to pursue masculine interests,” added Hayden. The boy’s “interests and energy are entirely self-motivated.”

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Judge criticizes social workers who backed mom in forcing young boy to dress as girl

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California law jails nursing home employees who ‘mis-gender’ residents

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SACRAMENTO, California, October 11, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — California nursing facility employees could go to jail for referring to patients by their biological gender.

Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener authored the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Long-Term Care Facility Resident’s Bill of Rights” that punishes healthcare workers who refer to elderly transgenders by their true sex “willfully and repeatedly.” Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill last week.  

Violating transgender-chosen pronouns is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine plus one year in jail.

The new pro-LGBTQI law codifies that nurses and others must use transgender patients’ self-selected name and pronoun, such as “Zir” and “Ze.” It also requires facilities to allow trans men to use women’s bathrooms, and vice versa.

“How can you believe in free speech, but think the government can compel people to use certain pronouns when talking to others?” Greg Burt of California Family Council argued before the state Judiciary Committee. “Compelled speech is not free speech.”

Burt surmised that the First Amendment prohibits forced or coerced speech or thought. He illustrated his point by using the free press and gender non-conforming words such as “Zir” as an example.  

“Can the government compel a newspaper to use certain pronouns that aren’t even in the dictionary?” he rhetorically asked. “Of course not — or is that coming next?”

The law states that after staff are “clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns,” it is now illegal to “willfully and repeatedly” fail to use those preferred names and pronouns. The legislators consider doing so to be an act of discrimination against a patient’s “actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression.”

“Those proposing this bill are saying, ‘If you disagree with me about my view of gender, you are discriminating against me,’” Burt continued. “This is not tolerance ... This is not mutual respect.”

“Respect is a two-way street,” Burt concluded. “It is not respectful to threaten people with punishment for having sincerely held beliefs that differ from your own. ... True tolerance tolerates people with different views.”

The new state law applies to all publicly funded hospitals, retirement homes, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities. LGBTQI group Equality California lobbied for it.

Ironically, after championing the law with its imprisonment provision intact, Weiner assured critics that no one would be put in jail for breaking the LGBTQI law. His office told Fox News that criminal penalties are only for violations that pose a serious threat to the life or health of patients.

Nevertheless, the jail time and fine was made state law on October 4.

Significantly, the law makes no mention of exempting Christian retirement homes or any religious care facilities. Regardless of their sincerely held beliefs, everyone must comply by using transgender pronouns or face significant jail time and fines.

In a National Review column titled “California Threatens Jail Time for Dissenters from the New Transgender Dogma,” Elliot Kaufman commented, “California is on its way to creating a whole new class of criminals: citizens who use ‘him’ to refer to a man and ‘her’ for a woman.”

Kaufman wrote that the new statute, which “impose(s) left-wing dogma by force of law,” will spread from nursing homes to all of commerce and society. “There is no reason for it to stop there. According to First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh, it is ‘pretty unlikely that, if this law is enacted, such prohibitions would be limited just (nursing homes).’”

“The focus on nursing homes,” Kaufman speculated, “was chosen not because there is an epidemic of elderly transgender people being ‘misgendered’ by their caretakers, but simply because the elderly make for a particularly sympathetic test case.”

The Daily Wire’s Amanda Prestigiacomo pointed out that such jail-enforced speech control is already in effect to the north. “In Canada, such Orwellian measures are already in place,” she noted. “If you refuse to use (‘gender identity’) pronouns ... you could be found guilty of a ‘Hate Crime’ and face massive fines and possible jail time.”

Prestigiacomo also illustrated New York City, where “thanks to Comrade de Blasio, citizens are opened up to massive fines if they do not use an individual’s pronouns of choice.”

Weiner “has made his intentions clear,” Kaufman stated, quoting the Democratic state senator. “He wants to put the religious in their place. ... Wiener will let you be a Jew or Christian in your own home, but as soon as you step out, you ‘enter in the public space’ — and there, he believes, there can be no Jews or Christians.”

“The Christian life cannot be compartmentalized and set aside from 9 to 5, or in public locations, as secularists wish,” Kaufman concluded. “Rather, when Christians bring their faith into the public arena, all citizens are enriched.”

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Amoris Laetitia is ‘ambiguous,’ ‘not a Thomistic document’: Filial Correction signatory

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ENGLAND, October 11, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Father Thomas Crean, O.P., one of the first signers of the Filial Correction, has had a thorough grounding in the philosophy and theology of fellow Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas.

After earning a B.A. in Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University, Crean took a Lectorate at Blackfriars, Oxford’s Dominican college; an S.T.L. from the St. Thomas Aquinas Institute in Toulouse, France; and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the International Theological Institute in Austria.

LifeSiteNews contacted Fr. Crean to settle a burning question: Is Amoris Laetitia, as Cardinal Christoph Schonborn has assured us, Thomistic?

LifeSiteNews: First, what school of Thomas do you follow?

Crean: I would sympathize most with what is called half-humorously and half-seriously "Thomism of the Strict Observance," which emphasizes the tradition of the commentators, especially Cajetan and John of St. Thomas, as further mediated and developed in the 20th century by men like Gredt, Garrigou-Lagrange, Maritain, and Grenier. Maritain, especially at the end of his life, was closely connected with the Toulouse Dominicans.

LifeSiteNews: In what ways could Amoris Laetitia be interpreted as Thomistic? That is, why might Cardinal Schonborn think so?  

Crean: Two things come to mind. One is that it presents the moral or spiritual life as primarily a growth in virtue, by which we gradually respond less imperfectly to God’s invitation to life and happiness with Him, rather than as primarily conformity to commandments and the avoidance of sin.

The other, which is an aspect of the first, is that it speaks of the need for the virtue of prudence ("discernment"), in consequence of the infinite variety of situations in which human beings find themselves, a variety which means that a necessarily finite code of rules will never be sufficient for good action.

Apart from that, it also quotes St. Thomas on … 14 or 15 occasions, including some works less often cited, such as the commentary on Aristotle’s Ethics.

LifeSiteNews: In what ways could Amoris Laetitia be interpreted as not Thomistic?

Crean: Some of the quotations from Aquinas used in Amoris Laetitia are cut short in such a way as not to give a well-rounded view of his thought on a given subject or, more seriously, quoted out of context so as to give an impression that he thought the opposite of how he really did. Sometimes he is quoted when his words are only slightly relevant to the matter of hand, as if just to increase the number of times his name appears in the footnotes.

LifeSiteNews: What is your “Respondeo” (i.e. answer) to the question “Is Amoris Laetitia Thomistic?”

Crean: If by "Thomistic" one means a document written in the style of St. Thomas himself, or in the style of someone who has taken St. Thomas for his guide in theology, then Amoris Laetitia is not a Thomistic document.

St. Thomas’ work is characterized by conciseness and clarity, whereas Amoris Laetitia is expansive, and, on certain key points, ambiguous – at least if we are to judge by the conflicting interpretations it has received. Again, a phrase such as "time is greater than space" is reminiscent not of St. Thomas but of a certain gnomic, metaphorical style of writing which St. Thomas criticized in the works of Plato.

More important than style is content. Here we could consider either the content of Amoris Laetitia as a whole, or those places in it where St. Thomas is explicitly quoted, or at least referenced.

A grave danger to faith and morals

On the first point, I was one of 45 signatories of a letter about Amoris Laetitia sent last year to all the cardinals and Eastern patriarchs of the Church. … This letter said: “When it comes to (Amoris Laetitia) itself … there is no doubt that it constitutes a grave danger to Catholic faith and morals. It contains many statements whose vagueness or ambiguity permit interpretations that are contrary to faith or morals, or that suggest a claim that is contrary to faith and morals without actually stating it. It also contains statements whose natural meaning would seem to be contrary to faith or morals.”

This letter listed 19 passages of Amoris Laetitia (saying) either that they suggested heresies and other grave errors, or else that their natural (obvious) meaning … was heretical or gravely erroneous. Hence, given that St. Thomas has been declared the Common doctor of the church and presented as a model for theologians … I should not consider Amoris Laetitia to be a Thomistic document.

When it comes to the explicit use made of St. Thomas, we should look at the individual passages. Certain passages quote him accurately and aptly in support of themes in the exhortation. Paragraphs 102, 120, 123, 126-7, and 134 fall into this category. For example, they quote his remarks that marriage is the greatest of friendships, that there need be no limit to the growth of charity in this life, and that friendship involves considering another person as a being of great worth.  

At other times, Amoris Laetitia quotes St. Thomas accurately, (but) less aptly or even misleadingly. Thus Paragraph 146 cites (him) in connection with the statement that: “A family is mature when the emotional life of its members becomes a form of sensitivity that neither stifles nor obscures great decisions and values, but rather follows each one’s freedom.”

The reference is not apt, since in the passage cited, St. Thomas is not talking about families or great decisions, or even values or freedom. He is simply discussing whether the virtues co-exist with the moral virtues, and explaining that they sometime do and sometime don’t.  

Minor and major misuses of St. Thomas

In regard to misleading uses of St. Thomas, there are minor and major examples.

A minor example occurs in paragraph 99. Talking about family life, Amoris Laetitia quotes these words from the Summa: “Every human being is bound to live agreeably with those around him.” However, it omits the second half of the sentence, which is nisi propter aliquam causam necesse sit aliquando alios utiliter contristare (“unless it should be necessary for him for some reason to cause them profitable sadness at some time”).

Another example occurs in paragraph 148. This first cites Aquinas in support of the statement that excessive seeking of some pleasure can weaken that same pleasure, and also alludes to his teaching that pleasure in the marital act is compatible with observing the "mean" of virtue.

The references here are accurate, but one has the distinct impression in this section that St. Thomas is being pressed into support a more “optimistic” view of human sexuality than he in fact upheld. For example, he taught that the conjugal act in fallen human beings tends, even when legitimately exercised, to weaken the impulse of charity toward God (2a 2ae 186, 4). He also held that for a spouse to ask for the paying of the marital debt without the desire for procreation is always at least a venial fault (Supplement, 49, 5).

Seriously misleading passages

I come now to what I should respectfully consider to be more seriously misleading passages.

(The English version of) paragraph 145  (of Amoris Laetitia) states: “Experiencing an emotion is not, in itself, morally good or evil. The stirring of desire or repugnance is neither sinful nor blameworthy. What is morally good or evil is what we do on the basis of, or under the influence of, a given passion.” It footnotes the Summa, 1a 2ae 24, 1.

But what St. Thomas says here is that no emotion, abstractly considered, is either good or bad. Even hatred is not bad as such: it is good to hate sin. However, every actually existing emotion will always be either good or bad. This is true, independently of any actions to which they may give rise.

St. Thomas says: ipsae passiones, secundum quod sunt voluntariae, possunt dici bonae vel malae moraliter. Dicuntur autem voluntariae vel ex eo quod a voluntate imperantur, vel ex eo quod a voluntate non prohibentur (“The emotions themselves, inasmuch as they are voluntary, can be called morally good or bad. And they are said to be voluntary inasmuch as they are commanded by the will, or else because they are not checked by the will.”) There is a serious mistake in the text of Amoris Laetitia here, since certain emotions can rise by themselves to the level of mortal sin, for example, certain kinds of deliberate anger and sexual desire. It is dangerous to give the impression that only outward acts can be morally good or evil.

The Latin text of paragraph 145 is slightly different, but the net result is the same. On the one hand, it changes “the stirring of desire or repugnance is neither sinful nor blameworthy” to “perceiving a desire or repugnance beginning is neither harmful nor blameworthy,” which strictly speaking is true, since the perception itself would not be a sin. However, it retains the claim that moral good and evil lie only in outward action. And, bizarrely, it also quotes one of the objections in the Summa as if it were St. Thomas’ own teaching!

Next, paragraph 301. Here Amoris Laetitia states that people … can be living in irregular (e.g. adulterous) situations and may know the Church’s teaching on ‘the rule’, and yet may be unable to see the value of “the rule.” These people, Amoris Laetitia says, may possess sanctifying grace and may be unable to obey the rule without sinning.

It goes on: “St. Thomas Aquinas himself recognized that someone may possess grace and charity, yet not be able to exercise any one of the virtues well.” As Dr. Joseph Shaw has pointed out, this quotation is irrelevant to the question of whether one can be excused from obeying the divine law by an ability to see its value, or whether one can be obliged to disobey it to avoid some other sin. St. Thomas is simply talking of people who have repented of past sins, and who now live virtuously, but do so with some difficulty because of the effect that those past sins have left behind.

Hence Dr. Shaw wrote: “Aquinas is simply pointing out that impediments are more likely when the virtue has not been acquired by a process of training and habituation over time, but by an infusion of grace from God. This abstruse issue is completely irrelevant to the matter at hand, and makes me wonder about the intellectual integrity of the people advising Pope Francis at this point in the document.” A more relevant passage from the Summa would have been found in 1a 2ae 19, 6: “If erring reason tell a man that he should go to another man's wife, the will that abides by that erring reason is evil; since this error arises from ignorance of the Divine Law, which he is bound to know.”

More serious because more plausible misuse

A more serious, because superficially more plausible, misrepresentation of the angelic doctor is found in paragraph 304. Amoris Laetitia is discussing the question of universal moral laws, in the context, of course, of invalid second marriages and the conferral of the sacraments, and it quotes a passage from 1a 2a 94, 4: “Practical reason deals with contingent things, upon which human activity bears, and so although there is necessity in the general principles, the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects …  In matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only as to the general principles.”

Although the argument at this point in Amoris Laetitia seems designed to be hard to follow, the impression is very strongly given that St. Thomas would have said that either sexual activity within a marriage not recognized by the Church as valid, or else giving Holy Communion to those who engage in such activity, cannot be objects of a universal prohibition. There can be, the text implies, only a defeasible presumption against such things. In fact, St. Thomas teaches, with the whole tradition of the Church, that there are indeed such things as intrinsically bad actions which generate universal prohibitions.

Thomas would have been horrified

On the question of the reception of the sacraments, Amoris Laetitia can hardly be considered Thomistic, (because) it does not quote the relevant text from the Summa: "Holy Communion ought not to be given to open sinners when they ask for it" (3a 80), or the identical teaching in the Scriptum (Super Sent., lib. 4 d. 9 q. 1 a. 5 qc. 1 co).

What then was the meaning of the passage from Aquinas quoted in Amoris Laetitia 304?

St. Thomas there spoke of certain ”general principles” that are the same for all. These include the commandments of the decalogue and any other precepts of divine law. In addition to these, there are “matters of detail,” i.e. certain rules of good action which human reason can work out for itself, such as “keep your promises” (and) “obey the law of the land” ...

But these, though generally applicable, may in certain circumstances not serve as reliable guides to good action, because human reason cannot foresee all cases. For example, it may be necessary to break a promise to meet someone in order to deal with a medical urgency, or to break a speed limit to drive someone to hospital. It is fair to say that St. Thomas would have been horrified to think that any bishop would one day use this common-sense teaching in order to authorize Holy Communion for those publicly committed to illicit unions.

Finally, in a footnote to the same paragraph, Amoris Laetitia says: "In another text, referring to the general knowledge of the rule and the particular knowledge of practical discernment, St. Thomas states that 'if only one of the two is present, it is preferable that it be the knowledge of the particular reality, which is closer to the act.’" It refers us to his commentary on the Nicomachaean ethics, Book 6, lecture 6, section 11. 

Again, it misrepresents Aquinas’ teaching, with potentially seriously consequences. St. Thomas is not here contrasting rules and ‘discernment’ but rather universal truths and more particular truths. He gives the example of one man who knows that ‘light flesh’ is healthy to eat, but not what counts as light flesh, and another man who doesn’t know the general principle about ‘light flesh’, but does know that the flesh of birds is healthy to eat. The latter person is a better guide about how to eat.

Hence, St. Thomas is not saying that a priest who thinks he can discern the presence of the Holy Spirit in Mr. Smith’s soul despite Mr. Smith’s invalid second marriage but has never heard about the principle of not giving Holy Communion to those in adultery is in a better position to judge what to do at the altar rails than a priest who knows the principle but can’t discern the Holy Spirit in Mr Smith’s soul. Rather, he is saying that a priest who knows the truth that one should not give Holy Communion to those in public adultery, but doesn’t know the more universal truth that one should not give it to those in public sin, is in a better position to decide what to do than one who knows that one should not give it to those in public sin, but who does not know that a second marriage counts as public sin.

Conclusion

In conclusion, although many and various passages from St. Thomas’ works are quoted in Amoris Laetitia, I cannot say that I believe that they give, as some readers might suppose ... a reliable account of the angelic doctor’s teaching on married love, the emotions, universal moral prohibitions or the reception of Holy Communion by public sinners. Hence, given also what was said above about the content of Amoris Laetitia as a whole, and about its style, I should not be able to say that I considered Amoris Laetitia a Thomist document.

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San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone
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Abortion and homosexuality are a ‘living reflection of hell’: U.S. Archbishop

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SAN FRANCISCO, California, October 11, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Those who doubt the existence of hell, despite Our Lady of Fatima showing its horrors to three Portuguese shepherd children 100 years ago, can nevertheless see a “living reflection of hell” in abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality, said San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. 

Archbishop Cordileone made his remarks during a homily last weekend as he consecrated his Archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 

He recalled during his October 7 homily the great evils witnessed in the past 100 years, including the great world wars, death camps, numerous genocides, and Christian persecution. 

“Who would dare to say that such barbarity is not a mocking of God?” he asked. 

Cordileone listed legal abortion as one of the many genocides. 

“And then there is the attack on innocent human life: Our own land has been soiled by the blood of innocent children in what has become a deadly epidemic tantamount to a genocide on life in the womb,” he said. 

“And now we are increasingly witnessing the abandonment of our suffering brothers and sisters at the other end of life’s journey,” he added, in a reference to euthanasia and assisted suicide of the elderly. 

The Archbishop went on to list legal homosexual “marriage,” and made a reference to Pride Parades, as ways in which God is mocked. 

“And even in our own city of St. Francis, we see … the celebration and even exaltation of the vulgar and the blasphemous, mocking God’s beautiful plan in how He created us, in our very bodies, for communion with one another and Himself,” he said.

“God is roundly mocked in our very streets, and it is met with approval and applause in our community – and yet, we remain silent,” he added. 

Friday, October 13, marks the 100th anniversary of Fatima’s “miracle of the sun.” The day commemorates the last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima to the three children and the fulfillment of the promised “sign.” Tens of thousands of people, including atheists and those who had come to mock the children, witnessed the sun dancing and emitting radiant colors in the sky. 

Cordileone said that today, 100 years after the Fatima apparition, shows itself to be “in so many ways … a living reflection of hell, one that on so many fronts has roundly mocked God.”

“If we think about what has transpired in these last 100 years,” the Archbishop said, “does it not tell us that the century through which we have just passed was nothing other than an experience of hell?”

“The century since the Fatima apparitions now ending has mocked God, but God will not be mocked: not because He delights in wreaking vengeance on us, but because turning our backs on God only bounces back to us, leading to our own self-destruction,” he said. 

Heeding the message 

The Archbishop said that now, more than ever, people must “heed the message of Fatima in imploring God for mercy,” especially through her request of “prayer, penance and adoration.”

He asked every Catholic in the Archdiocese to honor Our Lady’s request by praying the Rosary “every day.”

“I ask every Catholic in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, if you are not doing so already, to pray the Rosary every day. And I ask all families to pray the Rosary together at least once a week,” he said. 

He also asked Catholics in his diocese to do penance on every Friday of the year. 

“I ask every Catholic in the Archdiocese of San Francisco to dedicate Friday as a day of penance in honor of the day that our Lord died for us, selecting one concrete form of bodily fasting to observe on this day, whether that be abstaining from meat or another type of food or from some type of drink they normally enjoy, or omitting a meal altogether,” he said. 

Finally, he asked Catholics to honor Our Lady’s request by praying before God in adoration once a week. 

“I ask every Catholic in the Archdiocese of San Francisco to dedicate some time each week to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. If it is not possible during the week, take some time before or after Sunday Mass to pray on your knees before our Lord present in the tabernacle. At least some time every week praying before the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – will fulfill his desire that we ask him for mercy,” he said. 

He also asked that Catholics observe the devotion of the First Five Saturdays once a year. 

“The devotion consists of attending Mass and receiving Communion in reparation for sins on five consecutive first Saturdays of the month shortly after or before going to Confession, and spending a quarter of an hour praying five decades of the Rosary,” he said. 

Cordileone said that if Catholics honor the requests of Our Lady, it will hasten the fulfillment of her promise that “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

“Let us heed her message, let us grant her requests, in order to hasten that triumph, that triumph which is that of her Son over death, for she is inseparably linked to her Son, who came to win for us our eternal salvation,” he said. 

“Her Immaculate Heart is the door that opens up for us entrance into that triumph. It is through that door that we walk from the darkness of sin and death to the light of Christ’s truth and mercy. There it is, on the other side of that door, a glorious, vast, light-filled paradise that is heaven. Her heart is the gate of heaven,” he added.

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Homosexual Premier: Pro-life work should not count for school volunteer hours

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HAMILTON, Ontario, October 11, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — After a parent complained to a talk-radio show that his daughter earned volunteer hours for attending Life Chain, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is signaling the Liberals may nix that.

“That is the first I’ve heard that,” Wynne said Friday when quizzed on the situation, reported the Toronto Star.

“I will just say that that was never the intention of the 40 hours of volunteer work, and I will certainly follow up with the ministry.”

Education Minister Mitzie Hunter also issued similar hints to media.

“Each school board is responsible for developing a list of community involvement activities that the board considers acceptable,” she said in a statement to the Star.

“We expect boards to develop a list of approved activities,” Hunter wrote.

But “in this case, providing these credits for such use does not seem to be what these community involvement activities were designed for, and we’re currently looking into the matter,” she said.

Ontario students must complete 40 hours of approved community service to graduate.

In the Newstalk 1010 exclusive, the parent, who used only his first name, also alleged the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board offered high schools students an inflated 3-to-1 credit rate to attend pro-life events.

But HWCDSB chair Patrick Daly flatly denied the charge.

“We would not, nor would any of our principals, permit, under any circumstances, more than one-for-one hour of Christian service,” he told Newstalk 1010.

“If, in this situation, a teacher unintentionally conveyed otherwise, then that’s unfortunate, we regret it.”

Daly said the board looked into the claims and ruled there was nothing amiss.

“A conversation between the principal and the teacher fully discussed everything involved, got all the facts, and then proceeded to report to the administration,” he told Newstalk 1010.

Life Chain “is a community gathering of individuals committed to promoting a culture of life,” Daly added.

“So, students, amongst others in the community; many adults and young people would be involved standing on the sidewalks and streets praying, in some cases, holding signs in support of life,” he said.

LifeSiteNews contacted Daly, but he was heading into a meeting and not available to comment before deadline.

Retired Catholic school principal Dan DiRocco said the Liberals will have to issue new regulations with a list of specified prohibited groups and activities if they want to exclude pro-life work as volunteer community service hours.

But giving a public pro-life witness, as with Life Chain, is “the best that students can do to look after the interests of their fellow Canadians,” DiRocco said.

“In the best tradition of Catholic schools, these students are championing the rights of the voiceless, the downtrodden” and affirming the sanctity of human life, he told LifeSiteNews.

“They ought to be commended and the schools ought to actively encourage more of our young people to care about the unborn child.”

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Four U.S. bishops endorse Fr. James Martin’s pro-LGBT book

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Urge Pope Francis to remove Fr. James Martin as a Vatican adviser. Sign the petition!

SAN FRANCISCO, California, October 11, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Four U.S. Catholic bishops and another from New Zealand  have offered their names in support of Jesuit Father James Martin’s “project of outreach to LGBT Catholics.”

According to Father Martin’s book publisher, Church hierarchy is continuing to endorse his message in light of  “backlash from some unofficial far-right Catholic groups leading to the cancellation of three scheduled lectures.”

“Many Catholic leaders have stepped forward to offer forceful new support for Father Martin and his message of ‘respect, compassion, and sensitivity,’” a HarperOne news release said.

The “additional church leaders (who) have also lent their support for Fr. Martin’s project of outreach to LGBT Catholics” are Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago; Bishop Jon Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky; Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico; retired Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston; and Bishop Patrick Dunn of Auckland, New Zealand.

Father Martin posted about the development on Twitter, saying the endorsements from Wester, Fiorenza and Stowe will be included in a forthcoming revised and expanded edition of his book "Building a Bridge".

Father Martin is the editor-at-large for Jesuit-run America Magazine. Pope Francis appointed him earlier this year as a consultant for the Vatican’s communications operations.

In his book "Building a Bridge", he contends the Catholic Church should be more welcoming to LGBT-identifying Catholics.

Father Martin regularly affirms homosexual activity to same-sex-attracted individuals, despite the Catholic Church teaching that homosexual actions are sinful and all people are called to be chaste, that sexual intercourse is reserved for marriage, and that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

He says the language on homosexuality in the Church’s catechism should be changed because it’s too harsh. And he insists he is attacked for simply saying the Church should be more welcoming.

Father Martin continually makes scandalous statements regarding homosexuality that breach Catholic Church teaching on sexual morality, and critics say Martin is leading people astray and putting souls at risk by encouraging homosexual activity and failing to call people to be chaste.

He will regularly charge critics of his message with hate and homophobia, or even latent homosexual tendencies, and remains silent when some among his large social media following vehemently attack those who object to his message.

Father Martin has support for his LGBT stance from the secular media and liberal Catholic media outlets, as well as a number of liberal prelates and others on the left, some of whom consider opposition to his controversial message a cancer in the Church or would-be censorship by so-called Catholic cyber militias.

In mid-September, the Theological College in Washington, D.C., cancelled a Father Martin appearance scheduled for its alumni days this month. In August, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre had rescinded its invitation for him to speak for the ancient Catholic order, also set for this month. 

The Theological College cancellation followed an earlier cancellation of a lecture in London for Cafod (Catholic International Development Charity in England), which was also scheduled for October.

The Theological College cited “increasing negative feedback from various social media sites” in withdrawing Martin’s invitation.

In the case of the Equestrian Order, Church Militant reported “the rescinding of the invitation came after intense backlash from knights, outraged that the order would welcome the unabashed LGBT advocate to its gala.”

Church Militant also reported that the Baltimore Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference had cancelled Father Martin's speaking invitation for late last month, saying it was due to reasons of health.

Cardinal Cupich, known as one of the more “progressive” U.S. prelates, invited Martin late last month to speak at his cathedral next Lent after the recent cancellations of the Jesuit priest’s speaking engagements by Catholic institutions.   

Cardinal Cupich told the Chicago Sun-Times he’d been talking to Martin about speaking in his archdiocese for some time, but also called the dis-invitations of him “very unfortunate.”

“I wanted to make sure that I affirmed what he was doing,” Cupich stated. “And I wanted to let him know that I support him.”

Cardinal Cupich had expressed support during the 2015 Extraordinary Synod for those in same-sex relationships to be permitted to receive the sacraments if they have come to a decision to do so in good conscience. He has said as much on other occasions as well.   

He encouraged people to read Father Martin’s book “rather than depend on other people to characterize – or mischaracterize – what he wrote.”

Bishop Dunn praised Martin’s book in a recent essay. In it he also espoused Martin’s objection to the Catholic catechism’s phrase “objectively disordered” to define homosexual inclinations.

While the Church teaches that a person is not defined by their sexual inclinations, the bishop also concurred with Martin in the contention that “saying that one of the deepest parts of a person is ‘disordered’ seems needlessly cruel.”

Archbishop Fiorenza was one of 10 Catholic bishops who teamed up in 2013 with Faith in Public Life, a left-leaning group supportive of Planned Parenthood, to release a report urging Catholic organizations to fund groups connected to the promotion of abortion and other acts opposed by the Church. The Archbishop had expressed approval for Church collaboration with organizations that support things in conflict with its teaching and said Catholic identity is far broader than opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. 

Bishop Stowe spoke this past spring at a conference for the dissident pro-homosexual New Ways Ministry. The gathering was titled “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis.”

New Ways Ministry was condemned in 2010 by then-president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, and in 2011 by Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, USCCB chairman of the Committee on Doctrine.

Additionally, in 1999 the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “permanently prohibited” the group’s co-founders, Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent, “from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons,” after ruling that their teaching was “erroneous and dangerous” and “doctrinally unacceptable.”

Nugent, who died in 2014, largely followed the CDF order, but Gramick did not, and left the School Sisters of Notre Dame for the Sisters of Loretto over the issue.

Sister Gramick is listed in the HarperOne release as among the “many other church leaders” who have endorsed Father Martin’s book. On the list with her are Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the former Dallas bishop who is now the Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life; Cardinal Joseph Tobin, archbishop of Newark; and San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy.

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Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, chairman of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

News

Twitter lifts censoring of pro-life ad that blasts Planned Parenthood

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

BRENTWOOD, Tennessee, October 11, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Twitter backtracked on its decision to block U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Senate campaign announcement ad that mentioned the Planned Parenthood baby body parts trafficking scandal.

The social media changed its decision late Tuesday after it had flagged the Republican’s ad as “inflammatory” and “negative.”

Blackburn confirmed Tuesday night that Twitter will permit her ad to be promoted on the social media platform without omitting the Planned Parenthood reference.

"I think what has happened, the American people rose up,” Blackburn said on Fox News' The Story with Martha MacCallum. “They are sick and tired of the liberal elites and the liberal media telling them what they're going to listen to, and what is going to be pushed forward and broadcast and what is not, and in this example it was Twitter."

Twitter had blocked Blackburn’s campaign announcement this week because in it she mentions her work investigating Planned Parenthood for its alleged harvesting and selling of body parts from children aborted at its facilities.

“I fought Planned Parenthood and we stopped the sale of baby body parts,” Blackburn said in the video.

Twitter informed Blackburn’s campaign Monday that the comment had been “deemed an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.”

The social media platform said the Tennessee congresswoman could run the rest of the video if her “inflammatory” statement was omitted, the AP reported.

While the full ad could not be run on Twitter, it was not blocked from being linked on YouTube or other outlets.

“They decided that to talk about pro-life, pro-woman, pro-baby was inflammatory and would evoke a negative response,” Blackburn stated Tuesday night.

“They doubled down on censoring me,” she said, “and so I doubled down on standing for life, and fought them back on this.”

Blackburn had denounced the move by Twitter earlier Tuesday, saying in a statement that the social media company should apologize.

“I am appalled by Twitter’s attempt to censor my pro-life record, and I believe that the entire pro-life community deserves an apology and explanation for their actions,” Blackburn said. “I have spent my entire career fighting to protect and honor life, and I refuse to allow an organization whose stated mission is to ‘provide information instantly, without barriers’ the ability to silence our efforts to protect the unborn.”

Blackburn, who is running for the Tennessee seat held by retiring Senator Bob Corker, chaired the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives.

The panel was established in 2015 to investigate Planned Parenthood and the practices of the fetal harvesting industry, after release of the Center for Medical Progress undercover videos showing Planned parenthood executives bartering for baby body parts.

The panel had concluded in its final report released earlier this year that taxpayer dollars should be redirected from the abortion giant to other federally qualified health centers that offer comprehensive care but do not perform abortions.

Blackburn had also responded to Twitter’s decision to censor her campaign ad by tweeting, “@Twitter shut down our video ad, claiming it's "inflammatory" & "negative." Join me in standing up to Silicon Valley → RETWEET our message!”

She continued in a campaign email, telling supporters, “ Silicon Valley elites are trying to impose their values on us.”

“While we are being censored, Planned Parenthood continues to push their propaganda across the country,” Blackburn said.

Pro-life advocacy group Susan B. Anthony List also criticized Twitter’s suppression of pro-life content on its platform, pointing out that Twitter’s censorship of Blackburn was part of a pattern.

"We are profoundly disappointed but not surprised that Twitter continues to censor pro-life speech," SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. "Twitter's excuses for removing Rep. Marsha Blackburn's campaign announcement echo the difficulties we and other pro-life allies have experienced with them over several months. 

Twitter’s censorship has wider implications than the pro-life movement, she added.

"While we have observed that this censorship seems to be applied selectively to pro-life groups, Twitter's move has broad, chilling implications for all sorts of advocacy and political speech,” said Dannenfelser. “We hope anyone seeking to engage in political speech will join us in denouncing the censorship of Rep. Blackburn. Such heavy-handed tactics only backfire on those who use them." 

Twitter’s censorship in favor of Planned Parenthood or abortion did not start with the Blackburn campaign.

Earlier this year, Live Action announced that Twitter had banned its pro-life ads for being “inflammatory” and offensive” while Planned Parenthood was allowed to continue advertising on Twitter.

Twitter had flagged Live Action tweets with ultrasound pictures and Planned Parenthood fact-checks as violating its hate content and sensitive topic policy.

Live Action was informed it must delete all of its tweets calling for an end of taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, all of its tweets on its undercover investigations into Planned Parenthood, and any ultrasound images of preborn children.

Twitter had blocked the Live Action ads since last year, but only more recently informed the group it must delete almost all of its tweets, along with its website, and create a new website to be able to do business on Twitter.

Twitter has suspended other users in the past as well for messages that support marriage, chastity, and Biblical passages on homosexuality.

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Esther Ybarra
Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Inspiring: How a woman with cancer put assisted suicide advocates to shame

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges
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Esther and Jacob Ybarra with their stillborn son

AUMSVILLE, Oregon, October 11, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Assisted suicide advocates call their cause "death with dignity," but they never saw the likes of Esther Ybarra.

Stricken with Stage 4 cancer just as life was blossoming at age 19, Esther exemplified what a true "death with dignity" is.

She died in July after two years of degenerating from a 5-foot-10, 175-pound college scholarship athlete and female athlete of the year to a frail and broken 100-pound hospital patient struggling to breathe. But those she left behind say Esther was the strongest person they've ever known, whose enduring, ultimate trial-tested faith in Jesus Christ changed their lives.  

Esther had always been athletic and competitive. The oldest of seven, she loved gymnastics, dancing, and kicking. Ron and Teresa Suelzle told World Magazine that at two years old their daughter used cabinet drawers to climb up to the bathroom sink to brush her teeth.  

"I'm capable," the toddler with the beaming smile told her dad.

As she grew and joined extracurricular sports, Esther was driven to compete. On the ceiling above her bed she taped, “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” “No excuses.” “If I want to WIN, I will work harder.”

Finishing high school at the peak of health and athletic prowess, Esther even as a high school junior could squat 225 pounds and bench-press 155. Corban University gave her a scholarship to play volleyball.

Though she was raised in a Christian home, at one point the star athlete felt so strong that she didn't need God anymore. That would soon change.

Two months into college, Esther's life was turned upside down. When her back unexpectedly gave out, a biopsy near her fractured vertebra proved malignant. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a deadly soft tissue cancer.

Everything changed at that moment. For the better.

While her homemaker mom later recalled "My head was swimming" at her daughter's hopeless diagnosis and her high school teacher dad "felt like we had hit bottom," Esther paused, then shook her doctors’ hands.

“I want to thank you for telling me,” Esther said. “That must have been difficult for you.”

For the next two years, Esther became the Rock of Gibraltar. It is astounding how one woman's faith can unite and sustain an entire family — even an entire community. When Esther faced the gravest diagnosis known to man, she calmly thanked her doctors. When her boyfriend broke up with her, she never lost faith in Jesus. When she lost her hair to chemotherapy, she never blamed God.  

Sure, she asked, "Why?" And there were plenty of tears. Esther was not a stranger to anxiety or fear, either. But by having lost it all, she somehow gained something.  Something priceless.

“God took away everything that was important to me,” Esther explained. “He took away my ability to play volleyball, work out, go to school, and my hair. All I have left is God, my family, and my friends. And I’ve never been better.”

There was a period of remission. The whole family clung to fragile hope as Esther's cancer treatment seemed to help. During that time, Esther met Jacob Ybarra, a track and field athlete at Corban.

When he took her out on Valentine's Day, Esther was bald as a cue ball. She was also, understandably, somewhat guarded.

“She was a scared girl with a really, really strong shell," Jacob told World's Sophia Lee. "She acted like she was real tough and can do everything by herself, but she really needed help.”

Eventually, Jacob and Esther fell in love. When he asked her to marry him, Esther thought her life had turned around.

But not long after Jacob and Esther's engagement, they got the crushing news that new cancer had formed and grown in her lungs.

Defying conventional wisdom, the two lovebirds wed in October 2016. Lee, who spent an entire day with the family recently, explained that when one was weak, the other provided strength.  

"At times, Jacob returned home to find Esther in tears because she couldn’t finish the housework, and he taught her it was OK to rest. Other times, he came home to find his wife deep in prayer, and he sought to enjoy such intimacy with God as well," Lee wrote.

“Esther’s greatest strength was her relationship with Jesus,” Jacob summarized. “Jesus was the only reason she could still sing, still fight.”

The couple became unexpectedly pregnant, but at three months along Esther hemorrhaged, and tiny, perfectly-formed Thaddeus was stillborn.

Cancer treatments no longer helped as Esther grew dramatically worse. The fluid building up in her lungs made it progressively harder to breathe. Jacob helped ease the fluid buildup.

Oregon legalized assisted suicide in 1997, and if anybody qualified, it was Esther. But instead of killing herself, even when in great pain, Esther sang.  

One of her favorite hymns to sing was "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," and she didn't care if others heard her. Hospital staff described her as the most joyful person in the room.  

So often Esther would listen to someone's troubles, lying on her deathbed herself, wiping away their tears and offering to pray for them. And any time she could, Esther would talk about Jesus with doctors, nurses, aides, and just about anyone.  

“They were concerned about saving her life, but she was trying to save their souls,” Jacob told Lee.

Instead of killing herself, Esther saved souls. Of that, her family and relatives testify.

“She fully trusted what was supposed to happen, and that was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen,” her cousin, Kim Klaus, shared.

“She learned how to be instead of always doing,” her sister, Elizabeth, 20, said.

“Just by the way she lived, giving up everything for Christ, she really inspired me,” sister Marilyn, 13, said.

On July 24, 2017, Esther opened her eyes for the last time, in the loving presence of her family. After an all-too-brief goodbye glance, she was gone.

Last month, a “Celebration of Life” was held in Esther's honor. Six hundred people gave thanks to God for the life and for the death of Esther Ybarra. Many gave testimony of the spiritual paradigm shift they experienced just by knowing the woman who truly "died with dignity."

There's more in Lee's beautiful account of how Jacob and the family are now coping, but one lesson — among many — stands out.  

Esther's tragic plight has a lot in common with others who ultimately decide to kill themselves, with society's legal blessing. Another vivacious woman stricken with cancer way too young, Brittany Maynard, became the poster-child for assisted suicide in 2014.  

Lee points out that both Esther and Brittany may have had a common tragedy, but their responses were as different as life and death.

Brittany aggressively decided to fight for the right to kill herself, considering suicide as her "death with dignity," and the state government blessed her death wish. She justified it as best for her family, because her suffering would be a "nightmare" for them. She sought to avoid "fear and uncertainty" by taking her own life.

In contrast, Esther sought to live what time she had left "to the glory of God." While death has no dignity, Esther prized the days and used them to draw closer to Christ and to her family. In her suffering, she comforted those around her. She truly lived the hymn, "I Surrender All," submitting her unknown future to her Lord.

As a result, Esther's death, though tragically sad, inspired her family and countless others to see what truly matters in life. And as a result, her death brought eternal life to those around her.

“Her legacy is not one of despair,” one person said at Esther's memorial. Instead, Esther's awesome example encouraged all who came near her to “choose joy every day."

"For the joy set before Him, He endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is now seated at the Right Hand of God the Father." (Hebrews 12)

Amen.

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Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

The Pulse,

Denmark to UN: ‘Pregnant woman’ is transphobic term. Men can be pregnant too

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

October 11, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Denmark recommended that the United Nations Human Rights Committee not use the term “pregnant woman” because it excludes “transgender people.” The small European country also said its interpretation of the “right to life” includes the right to abortion.

The Human Rights Committee is accepting countries’ comments on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular the section that addresses the “right to life.”

The use of terms in the draft is at times “too general,” Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote. “Though the right to life is fundamental, care must be taken not to connect it to all possible aspects of human rights violations. Such an approach may risk resulting in the weakening of the General Comment rather than strengthening the central aspects of the right to life.”

The UN document says it “recognizes and protects the right to life of all human beings, which it says “should not be interpreted narrowly” because it “concerns the entitlement of individuals to be free from acts and omissions intended or expected to cause their unnatural or premature death, as well as to enjoy a life with dignity.”

“Although States parties may adopt measures designed to regulate terminations of pregnancy, such measures must not result in violation of the right to life of a pregnant woman or her other rights under the Covenant,” meaning her right to a “safe” abortion, especially if her baby is disabled, the document says.

This doesn’t go far enough for Denmark because “in using the term ‘pregnant woman’ the Committee may inadvertently be restricting the application of this paragraph to exclude transgender people who have given birth.”

Denying the humanity of a human in the womb is denying biology. Claiming that men can give birth is denying biology. It seems Denmark refuses to accept basic truths of nature – that we are human from the moment we begin to exist, and that only half the population is equipped with the reproductive organs to gestate a baby for nine months.

What an upside-down world we live in, when the “right to life” means the right to kill another human being, and men can apparently be “pregnant” too.

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