All articles from October 12, 2017


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Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens
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Planned Parenthood sues Missouri for requiring women be informed about abortion risks

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October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are pushing back against a law that tightens abortion regulations in Missouri, filing suit against the state this week to block a requirement that abortionists themselves inform mothers of the medical risks.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains, Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri are seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction blocking the law from going into effect March 24, the St. Louis Dispatch reported. The groups also want the law declared unconstitutional.

Senate Bill 5 requires that the abortion doctor must also be the one counseling the mother on the medical risks, potential abortion methods, and other medical factors. Previously, any “qualified professional” could discuss that information with the pregnant patient.

Planned Parenthood argued the requirement would result in “extreme delays up to three or four weeks for women to access abortion, and it will cut some women off from care entirely.” It also criticized the state’s 72-hour waiting period before an abortion.

“Abortion providers already give all prospective patients full information about their options,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement. “Missouri’s onerous restrictions override good medical practice by requiring that women make two separate appointments with at least a 72-hour delay in between. Now, Missouri legislators have piled on yet another restriction that provides no new information or benefits to women.”

Missouri’s GOP-majority legislature approved SB5 in July in a special session convened by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.

Greitens called the session to pursue stricter safety abortion facility regulations and to ask the legislature to override the controversial St. Louis ordinance passed in February that would have made it difficult for pregnancy care centers to operate.

The St. Louis ordinance is considered problematic in part because it would allow pregnancy centers to be punished for refusing to hire abortion supporters.

The Planned Parenthood-ACLU lawsuit filed Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court said the new state law puts “extreme and unprecedented” requirements on women and “unduly restrict” their access to abortion.

The suit targets in particular the provision requiring abortion-performing doctors to also be the one to provide pre-procedure information to women seeking an abortion.

“The same-physician requirement will impose extreme burdens on physicians who provide abortion services in Missouri, some of whom will not be able to comply at all,” the suit stated. “The Act will impose significant delays, greater medical risks, and other serious harms on patients, some of whom will be unable to access abortion at all.”

That requirement is only one part of the law. SB5 amends a number of rules and enacts others.

“Interference with medical assistance” would be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison or a $2,000 fine, for abortion staff to make special requests of emergency services, such as asking ambulances to approach their sites without sirens or lights to avoid drawing attention to the emergency occurring inside.

That aspect of the law, perhaps the first of its kind in the country, is especially pertinent, given the St. Louis Planned Parenthood’s horrific record for abortions resulting in medical emergencies.

According to Operation Rescue, the St. Louis Planned Parenthood is considered by many to be the most dangerous abortion facility in the U.S. due to the alarming number of ambulance transports required for its abortion clients.

Live Action concurred with Operation Rescue’s assessment in a report from earlier this year, saying that since 2009 the St. Louis Planned Parenthood has maintained an average rate of sending women to the hospital via ambulance at one every six weeks.

Other aspects of the new Missouri law include requiring annual inspections of abortion facilities and abortion providers to have an established plan for when complications arise from an abortion. The law also augments whistleblower protections and adds more regulations for how aborted fetal tissue is handled. And it preserves the right of pregnancy care centers and other alternatives to abortion providers to operate freely and maintain free speech.

It also upholds the right of a person not to be compelled to participate in abortion, and protects real estate brokers and property owners from being compelled to rent to sell to abortion facilities.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is among the named defendants in Planned Parenthood-ACLU suit. Deputy chief of staff Loree Anne Paradise said in a statement that Hawley’s office would “vigorously defend” the new law.

Paradise said the new law enacts “sensible regulations that protect the health of women in Missouri.”

Planned Parenthood says the rules do nothing to improve safety at abortion facilities, and rather are a backdoor effort to block abortion access.

The nation’s largest abortion provider has been fighting to expand its abortion enterprise in Missouri, with the legal battle centering upon abortion facility regulations and abortion doctors’ hospital admitting privileges.

In April, a U.S. district judge issued a preliminary injunction against Missouri's abortion rules, blocking the state from enforcing them. The judge said some of Missouri’s existing abortion laws are similar to Texas laws that the Supreme Court struck down last year.

Hawley had asked the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the preliminary injunction last month, which the court later did.

However, the 8th Circuit ruled in the abortion giant’s favor last week, allowing Planned Parenthood to continue seeking licensing to conduct abortions in Columbia, Springfield and Joplin.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains announced Tuesday that it will start scheduling abortions at its Columbia site.

In another legal challenge to Missouri’s 72-hour waiting period for an abortion, a case brought by a female member of the Satanic Temple identified as “Mary Doe” has advanced to the Missouri Supreme Court. A hearing date is not yet set.

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Pope Francis speaks to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Oct. 11, 2017. L’Osservatore Romano
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Pope Francis: Death penalty is ‘contrary to the Gospel’

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ROME, October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- Pope Francis has issued his strongest statement yet against the death penalty, calling it “contrary to the Gospel.” He said he would like the Catechism of the Catholic Church to change according to a “new understanding of Christian truth,” saying that only a “partial vision can think of ‘the deposit of faith’ as something static.”

The Pope made his comments in an October 11 speech to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, which gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II. 

“The death penalty is an inhumane measure that humiliates, in any way it is pursued, human dignity,” said Pope Francis.

"It is, of itself, contrary to the Gospel, because it is freely decided to suppress a human life that is always sacred," he added. "In the final analysis, God alone is the true judge and guarantor."

The Catholic Church, following the Bible and the fathers and doctors of the Church, including St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as Pope Pius XII, has always viewed capital punishment as a legitimate form of protection of the public from immediate danger and as a legitimate punishment for serious crimes. 

Pope Francis has gone beyond the position held by Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who, while opposing capital punishment, never held that it was, in itself, intrinsically evil. 

St. Thomas Aquinas, in his classic defense of capital punishment in the Summa Theologica, argued that “if a man be dangerous and infectious to the community, on account of some sin, it is praiseworthy and advantageous that he be killed in order to safeguard the common good.” 

Pope Pius XII defended in 1955 the authority of the State to punish crimes, even with the death penalty. He argued that capital punishment is morally defensible in every age and culture because “the coercive power of legitimate human authority” is based on “the sources of revelation and traditional doctrine.” 

Both the Old and New Testaments indicate that the death penalty can be legitimate. For instance, Genesis 9:6 states: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.” Or again, St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans teaches that the state “does not bear the sword in vain [but] is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the death penalty is morally permissible. 

“The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense…Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor,” stated the Catechism [bold added]. 

Professors Edward Feser and Joseph Bessette have argued that if the Pope were to teach that capital punishment is inherently immoral, then he would be “contradicting the teaching of scripture, the Fathers, and all previous popes, and substituting for it ‘some new doctrine.’” The two published a book on the topic this year titled By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment.

“The fact is that it is the irreformable teaching of the Church that capital punishment can in principle be legitimate, not merely to ensure the physical safety of others when an offender poses an immediate danger (a case where even John Paul II was willing to allow for the death penalty), but even for purposes such as securing retributive justice and deterring serious crime,” the authors wrote in a June 2017 article for Catholic World Report titled Why the Church Cannot Reverse Past Teaching on Capital Punishment.

“What is open to debate is merely whether recourse to the death penalty is in practice the best option given particular historical and cultural circumstances. That is a ‘prudential’ matter about which popes have no special expertise,” they said. 

“This was the uniform teaching of scripture and the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and it was reaffirmed by popes and also codified in the universal catechism of the Church promulgated by Pope St. Pius V in the sixteenth century, as well as in numerous local catechisms,” they added in a July 2017 follow-up article titled Why the Death Penalty is Still Necessary

The authors list five reasons why retributive punishment, which could take the form of the death penalty, “makes the world a safer place and upholds the common good”:

  • It powerfully reinforces society’s condemnation of the crime of murder, making it less likely that those growing up in a community with the death penalty would even consider killing someone in the first place.

  • It anchors the entire schedule of punishments for serious crimes to the principle of just deserts, ensuring the survival of retributive punishment as a key element in the criminal justice system and thus shoring up the schedule of punishments against powerful modern tendencies toward ever greater leniency in criminal punishment.

  • It reassures the families and other loved ones of the victims of grave crimes that they live in a society that is just, and that shows respect for the lives of victims by inflicting on their killers a penalty that is truly proportionate to the gravity of the offense. 

  • It encourages repentance insofar as it makes offenders aware of the extreme gravity of their crimes and also of the shortness of the time remaining to them to get themselves right with God and to ask forgiveness from the families of their victims.

  • Perhaps most importantly, in its supreme gravity it promotes belief in and respect for the majesty of the moral order and for the system of human law that both derives from and supports that moral order.

Pope Francis indicated in his speech that the teaching of the Catechism would change according to a “new understanding of Christian truth.” 

“Tradition is a living reality and only a partial vision can think of ‘the deposit of faith’ as something static,” he said. 

“The Word of God cannot be conserved in mothballs as if it were an old blanket to be preserved from parasites. No. The Word of God is a dynamic reality, always alive, that progresses and grows because it tends towards a fulfillment that men cannot stop.”

This “law of progress,” the Pope said, “appertains to the peculiar condition of the truth revealed in its being transmitted by the church, and does not at all signify a change of doctrine. One cannot conserve the doctrine without making it progress, nor can one bind it to a rigid and immutable reading without humiliating the Holy Spirit.”

The subject of capital punishment “should find a more adequate and coherent space in the Catechism of the Catholic Church," the Pope said.

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Trump signs executive order gutting part of Obamacare

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WASHINGTON, D.C., October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – President Trump signed an executive order today knocking down part of Obamacare by making it easier for people to get cheaper health insurance plans.

Trump’s order is “aimed at letting small businesses band together across state lines to buy cheaper, less regulated health plans for their employees with fewer benefits,” according to Reuters.

“The new, less regulated insurance plans could provide an attractive alternative to consumers who don’t expect to have large medical bills and who are frustrated with the high premiums they pay for policies today,” according to The Huffington Post. The executive order “would undermine rules about who and what insurers must cover.”

The complaint many young people have with Obamacare is it forces them to pay more for insurance to cover sicker old people. Obamacare depends on the participation of young, healthy people in its expensive plans.

Under Trump's order, people may be able to purchase health insurance plans that don't cover maternity care and other “essential health benefits.” Critics of Obamacare say only half the population needs maternity care. Proponents of Obamacare say this is one of the bill's strengths. 

Senator Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, stood behind Trump as he signed the executive order. Paul is a vocal critic of Obamacare. However, he refused to vote for the most recent legislation repealing it on the grounds it was too weak.

Strongly pro-life Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, was also with Trump as he signed the order. 

“One of the realities of the Affordable Care Act is its lack of affordability as costs continue to rise every year because of all the Obamacare mandates,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, told LifeSiteNews in a statement.

“Those mandates include life-ending drugs and devices as well as some abortion funding, as proven in court case after court case as nuns and other Americans of faith have had to fight for their Constitutional freedoms,” she explained. “Students for Life of America believes that addressing the coercive mandates is a step in the right direction that should ultimately lead to pulling all tax money away from Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry.”

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, called the executive order a “monumental step in the right direction.”

“This executive order gives victims of Obamacare greater control of their healthcare options and works to create a more affordable system,” she said.

“Trump's Obamacare exec order tries to undermine literally the most popular part of Obamacare: the part that keeps insurers from screwing you over,” Vox.com editor Ezra Klein tweeted.

Abortion advocates say this effort is an attempt to “sabotage” Obamacare, which was a massive expansion of abortion funding.

“Trump signed an exec order that could allow spread of cheap, loosely-regulated health plans (without) Obamacare protections,” Planned Parenthood tweeted.

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Katie Ascough, president of UCD’s student union
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Student union president refuses to publish illegal abortion information

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DUBLIN, Ireland, October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The president of the Student Union at University College Dublin faces a referendum later this month for refusing to let a student publication illegally publish abortion instructions.

Katie Ascough, president of UCD’s student union, received legal advice cautioning against publishing in a magazine for new students instructions on obtaining an abortion. Ireland's laws regarding distributing unsolicited abortion information are strict.

Ascough made the “executive decision” not to run the potentially illegal abortion how-to, and now some of her fellow students have launched a campaign to remove her from office over this.

Two petitions, one invalid, were delivered to the university after pro-abortion backlash. The valid petition has 1,200 signatures. Students will vote October 25 and 26.

“It was clear from the outset that some students didn’t want to give me a chance as SU president because of my views on abortion,” said Ascough.

“It is no secret that I am pro-life and many students are not. Since the day I was elected, before I’d been put in office, some students were already calling for my impeachment,” she wrote in an open letter to UCD. “I have thoroughly enjoyed the hard work over the summer to live up to my campaign promises, and I wouldn’t change the last four months as president of UCD Students’ Union for anything.”

Ascough is taking annual leave until the referendum.

A Facebook page urging students to support Ascough features a young man who is identified as “pro-choice” but still supportive of her.

“The main reason that a group of students are calling for my impeachment is because of my decision to not break the law and illegally distribute abortion information,” Ascough explained in her open letter.

“The Union was producing a handbook that acted as a college guide for incoming students,” she recounted. “I was aware that the handbook contained abortion information but was not informed by the editors of the book that it was illegal to distribute this information.”

Ascough said she originally “delegated the signoff for the handbook to the campaigns & communications officer.”

But “after the books were printed and delivered, a staff member pointed out various issues including potential illegality of some of the content.”

So Ascough consulted with the Student Union’s lawyer, who is an “advocate for repeal of the Eighth Amendment,” Ireland’s pro-life amendment.

The pro-abortion lawyer recommended the abortion information not be included.

“I also asked the Board of Directors for advice, and they agreed with the decision to follow legal advice,” Ascough wrote. “As CEO of the company, I decided to follow the advice of the Union’s lawyer with the Union Board’s agreement.”

“Each person involved in the decision to publish the information and/or involved in distributing the books would have been at risk of up to €4,000 in fines each, a personal criminal conviction, and, if prosecuted, the Union could also incur thousands in legal fees,” she explained.

Six volunteering professionals, six or more staff members, five sabbatical officers, “and the volunteers who helped us hand out the books” could have all faced the criminal conviction and fines.

“As CEO of the company, this was not something I was able to stand over, and so I decided to follow the legal advice offered by the Union’s lawyer,” wrote Ascough.

“Many argue that the welfare of students is additionally affected as access to reproductive healthcare information was removed from them,” a pro-impeachment Facebook page says.

Information about abortion in countries neighboring Ireland is easily found on the Internet.

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Pro-life leader blasts Trudeau for lies: Abortion is not a ‘human right’

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TORONTO, October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The president of Canada’s national pro-life political lobby group is asking the country’s prime minister to stop lying about abortion.

“It is unbecoming for the Prime Minister of Canada today to deliberately utter a falsehood and to keep repeating it,” Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes wrote in a letter to Justin Trudeau.

“Abortion is not a ‘Charter right,’ and it is not a ‘human right.’”

Campaign Life, which is Canada’s largest pro-life group, published Hughes’ September 29 letter on its website last Friday.

The letter is an “opportunity to perhaps inform” Trudeau what happened when his father, Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, brought in the Charter in 1982, when Justin was 10 years old, Hughes told LifeSiteNews.

“I just reached a point where I was so tired of listening to him implying there was a Charter right to abortion that I went back through my files and found all the materials from when we battled his father on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and demanded that the unborn be included,” Hughes said.

The Campaign Life president also sent a copy of his letter to all Member of Parliament in an attempt to get across “to everybody, especially the MPs, because they talk about Charter rights” that “there is no Charter right to kill children before birth.”

Trudeau has long insisted there is, most notably when defending his 2014 edict as Liberal leader banning pro-life advocates from running as party candidates.

“The Liberal party is the party of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It defines us in the way it defines this country,” he told the Ottawa Citizen at the time.

“And since 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that a woman’s right to a choice in this matter is a Charter right. (It) is upheld by the Constitution.”

But as Hughes explains in his letter, when Campaign Life lobbied hard for a right-to-life amendment to the Charter, Pierre Elliott Trudeau “assured us that the Charter would have no impact on the abortion question.”

The Catholic bishops also asked for a right-to-life amendment, but Trudeau told them it wasn’t necessary.

“The arguments advanced to show that the Charter will create an entitlement to abortion on demand have been clearly refuted in the opinion given by the Department of Justice,” Trudeau wrote Edmonton’s Archbishop Joseph MacNeil, then head of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, on July 6, 1981.

“In my view, the need of an amendment has not been clearly demonstrated,” added Trudeau.

In June 1981, Trudeau stated: “Because the public is evenly divided on the subject of abortion, it was the government’s ‘considered view’ that a position favouring one side should not be enshrined in the charter.”

The government “feels the issue is not one which should be defended by the Constitution,” added Trudeau senior.

“Over the years, your father’s words have proven to be true,” Hughes wrote the current prime minister.

Abortion “has never been declared to be a ‘Charter right’ by the Supreme Court of Canada,” he added. “In fact, the Court has specifically held that there is a legitimate right for Parliament to legislate on the issue, should it so choose.”

Trudeau fils also insists abortion is a “human right.”

Trudeau’s Liberals promote abortion as a human right at the UN, and have earmarked $650 million to provide and promote abortion in developing countries, including funding campaigns to overturn laws restricting abortion.

More recently, he told Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar in August that “reproductive rights for women are integral to women’s rights in general and women’s rights are human rights.”

But Hughes’ letter refutes this claim as well.

“For as long as the United Nations has existed, consensus has never been reached on the issue of abortion as a human right,” he wrote.

“Where abortion is alluded to in agreed conclusions (non-binding normative documents which are adopted at various UN commissions), it is cast in a negative light.”

The “majority of the 193 member states that make up the United Nations do not share your personal view that abortion is a human right,” added Hughes.

He concluded his letter by asking Trudeau to stop telling untruths.

“In the future, we respectfully request that you refrain from either stating or implying that abortion is a ‘Charter right,’ a ‘human right’ and is synonymous with ‘women’s rights’ as it is clearly not.”

Hughes says he hasn’t yet heard back from Trudeau.

LifeSiteNews contacted the prime minister’s office for comment but did not hear back by deadline.

To read the full text of  Jim Hughes’ letter, go here.

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Media forced to admit Trump is right about horrific U.S. abortion laws

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The mainstream media pounced on President Donald Trump after he stated in announcing his support for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on October 2:  

“The United States is currently out of the mainstream in the family of nations, in which only 7 out of 198 nations allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.”

The House approved the protective legislation the next day, but Trump was questioned about his charge that the U.S. is legislatively as abortion-permissive as China.

The Washington Post decided to fact check the president. Their conclusion? He is "backed by data."

The infamous Roe v Wade Supreme Court decree arbitrarily segregated pregnancy into three 13-week "trimesters" based on the earliest gestational "viability" of the baby at about 26 weeks (the third "trimester").  

The nation's highest court declared that only after "viability" did states have the right to limit abortions, unless the mother's "health" was in jeopardy. However, Roe's accompanying decision, Doe v Bolton, defined "health" in such broad terms that abortion-on-demand was effectively legalized throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

The Charlotte Lozier Institute issued a report in 2014 that analyzed abortion laws in 198 countries and independent regions with populations of at least one million people.  

More than 25 percent (59 countries) have legalized unrestricted abortion-on-demand, and almost three-fourths (139) require a stated reason from the mother for killing her child, such as poverty, or wanting to finish school.

Of the countries that have legalized elective abortion, only seven allow late-term abortions. Besides the United States, nations that permit the growing child to be aborted after 20 weeks are Canada, China, Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The Post checked these stats with another pro-abortion group's stats and concluded Trump was right.

The president's "statistic seemed dubious at first ... But upon further digging, the data back up the claim," the Post acknowledged. "Research from both sides of the reproductive rights debate confirm this figure."

The U.S., along with Canada, China, North Korea, and Vietnam, have no national gestation limit to abortion but allow a baby to be terminated up to the day of birth.  

The Netherlands allows abortions after 24 weeks in cases where the baby has a disease. Singapore allows abortions after 24 weeks if anyone in authority determines it best for the "mental health" of the mother.

All countries allow life-saving measures for the mother, even if such measures could indirectly result in the death of the child.

The Post applauded the president. "We award the elusive ‘Geppetto Checkmark’ when a factoid surprisingly turns out to be true, as in this case," the newspaper conceded.

Planned Parenthood did not fare so well with the fact checkers. The abortion conglomerate's claim that 61 percent of Americans oppose a 20-week abortion ban was proved wrong.  

Nevertheless, the nation's largest and most lucrative abortion provider continued to make the false claim in ads designed to influence voters even though it received "Two Pinocchios" for the lie.

In fact, a major news poll found 56 percent of American voters favored a 20-week abortion ban.

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Donald Trump speaks at the 2016 Values Voter Summit. Andy Parrish / LifeSiteNews
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Trump pulls U.S. out of pro-abortion, pro-LGBT UN agency

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October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – President Trump is pulling the United States out of a UN agency that advocates for abortion, homosexuality, and radical sex education for young children.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has for years pushed for pro-abortion and pro-LGBT topics to be taught to children.

The U.S. is concerned about “mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO,” State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement this morning. “This decision was not taken lightly.”

In 2016, UNESCO released a report saying children should receive “non-judgmental and accurate information on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.”

The report called for this to be done “through information campaigns and partnerships with civil society and the wider school community.”

In 2014, UNESCO said an important part of educating children was teaching them to know how and where to obtain abortions and to be tolerant of homosexual behavior.

“Specific policy measures” are needed to ensure that children “learn in school the importance of tolerance,” UNESCO claimed.

In 2010, UNESCO issued guidelines saying “it is never too early to start talking to children about sexual matters” and children as young as five should be taught about masturbation.

“The United States indicated to the Director General its desire to remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state in order to contribute U.S. views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization,” Nauert said.

These include “the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education.”

The U.S.’s withdrawal from the controversial UN agency will take effect on December 31, 2018.

In April 2017, Trump withdrew U.S. support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) over its participation in China's forced abortion regime.

President Obama cut of U.S. funding to UNESCO in 2011 "after the group admitted Palestinians as full members, following legislation from 1990 and 1994 that mandates such a cutoff to any United Nations agency that gives full membership to Palestinians," the New York Times explained. Trump's move today is a "significant escalation by the United States in its criticism of United Nations bodies."

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Boy Scouts allow girls to join. Are transgender ‘Zir Scouts’ next?

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October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced Wednesday that it will start admitting girls to its Cub Scouts program, and eventually will create a parallel program that allows older girls to rise to the level of Eagle Scout.

In a statement, the BSA said its decision was in line with its "core values" and was driven by changes in the American family and busy parents desiring a Scouts-like program for their daughters.

“Starting in the 2018 program year, families can choose to sign up their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts,” the statement said. “Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls.”

It continues: “Using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts program, the organization will also deliver a program for older girls, which will be announced in 2018 and projected to be available in 2019, that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank. This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.”

‘Zir Scouts’ next?

Conservative critics like Christian talk show host Janet Mefferd pounced on the BSA's gender-neutral decision.

"When you have the Boy Scouts accepting girls (and gender-confused girls who think they're boys), then the next logical step is for the Girl Scouts to accept boys. What does gender even mean anymore? You might as well join forces and become the 'Zir Scouts’," Mefferd told LifeSiteNews.

("Zir" and "Ze" is a genderless pronoun created by "transgender" activists to replace "her" or "his," and "he" or "she." Another variation spells it as "Xir.")

Conservative activist and Eagle Scout Charlie Kirk, founder and executive director of Turning Point USA, tweeted in response to the BSA announcement:

I am an Eagle Scout

Only boys should be in Boy Scouts

Only girls should be in Girl Scouts

Don't change things that work

The BSA — whose membership is declining — said its "historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls, the organization evaluated the results of numerous research efforts, gaining input from current members and leaders, as well as parents and girls who’ve never been involved in Scouting – to understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children."

Randall Stephenson, the BSA’s national board chairman, was effusive about the new girls policy: “The BSA’s record of producing leaders with high character and integrity is amazing,” he said in the BSA release. “I’ve seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization. It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls.”

The ATT CEO has presided over some liberal social changes in the Scouts organization that have outraged many former Scouts and pro-family, faith-based advocates like Franklin Graham, who has urged Christians to pull their sons out of the Scouts.

Beginning in 2013, the Boy Scouts moved to end their “morally straight” policy of excluding homosexual boy members, a policy that they had successfully defended in court going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000. Then in 2015 the BSA decided to allow to adult homosexual men as leaders, despite the BSA’s history of adult male scoutmasters homosexually molesting boys in their care — the extent of which has still not been revealed to the public.

Earlier this year, the BSA waded into transgender controversies by saying it will allow severely gender-confused, biological girls (who identify as “boys” and want to live as “males”) to become Boy Scouts.

The Scouts’ politically correct moves appear to be taking a toll on membership, as new groups like the Christian-based Trail Life USA have been formed in response to the BSA’s liberal shift, while major church bodies like the Mormon Church have pulled away from the BSA. Perhaps this explains the opening to girls. The New York Post reports on the BSA’s plummeting numbers:

“Current participation in the Boy Scouts, which was founded in 1910, is down from 2.6 million in 2013 and more than 4 million in earlier years. The announcement comes as the organization and other youth service groups have seen dips in membership. The Girl Scouts, meanwhile, reported 1,566,671 youth members as of March, down from just over 2 million in 2014.”

“Just when you thought the Scout leadership could not be any more clueless about the actual purpose of the organization – raising boys to become responsible, masculine men – they come up with this,” said Robert Knight, a senior fellow with the American Civil Rights Union and an Eagle Scout.

“This is organizational vandalism and another sign that the current Scout executives care more about what the clinically insane Left and their media allies think than what is best for boys.  The only good to come out of this will be a further exodus toward Trail Life USA, the genuine heirs to the Boy Scout legacy.”

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Bishops consecrate dioceses to Mary for 100th anniversary of Fatima

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October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – At least nine U.S. Catholic dioceses and two eparchies will be consecrated to Our Lady this year to mark the 100th anniversary of her apparitions at Fatima.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone consecrated his diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 7, the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary. He said this consecration was a “nothing less than a call to arms: to spiritual arms.”

On October 15, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput will consecrate his archdiocese to Our Lady of Fatima at Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

This “momentous occasion” is “a decisive moment in which we turn our local church, our parishes, schools, institutions, ourselves and our families over to the Blessed Virgin Mary,” according to the archdiocese.

All other dioceses and the two Eastern rite eparchies in Pennsylvania will also be consecrated to Mary this weekend.

Appearing in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary warned that if Russia wasn’t consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, the country would “spread her errors” throughout the world. The Bolshevik Revolution began later that year.

Mary also asked that people pray the rosary for peace and do penance in reparation for the sins of the world.

The Catholic Church has approved these apparitions as legitimate. On October 13, 1917, the “miracle of the sun” and the last of the Fatima apparitions occurred.

Cordileone blasted the “barbarity” of the past 100 years on October 7, saying that abortion and homosexuality are a “living reflection of hell.”

He noted that “the vision of hell” the three peasant children of Fatima – two of whom are now canonized – saw is “a well-known moment in the story of the Fatima apparitions.”

It was a “vision so horrible and gruesome that they shrieked out loud with fear,” said the San Francisco archbishop. And right after showing the children what hell looked like, Our Lady “asked for the spreading of devotion to her Immaculate Heart.”

Our Lady of Fatima told the three children, “More souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”

“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,” said Cordileone.

Cordileone cited the first two world wars, the Holocaust, persecution of Christians, and “the most brutal regimes in world history” as dark hallmarks of the past 100 years.

“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; and now we are increasingly witnessing the abandonment of our suffering brothers and sisters at the other end of life’s journey,” he continued.

“And even in our own city of St. Francis, we see in our streets people suffering from the ravages of addiction and mental illness, as well as 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,” said Cordileone in an apparent reference to the homosexual movement and gender ideology.

“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 lamented.

“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,” Cordileone warned.

Archbishop Cordileone: Catholics need to fast, do penance on Fridays again

The Blessed Virgin Mary can help bring people to Jesus, Cordileone said. “In her maternal presence, Mary is there to advocate for us.”

“We might not have the power to change world history, but we can change what happens in our own families and communities if we heed the message” Our Lady gave at Fatima, he said. “This next century can be radically different from the last one, but only if we heed the message and respond to the requests.”

The consecration of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is one way to heed Mary’s requests, Cordileone said.

Prayer, particularly the rosary, penance, and Eucharistic Adoration are the “threefold recipe for peace and salvation.”

He implored his diocese to return to the Catholic practice of doing penance on Fridays and going to Confession at least once a month.

The faithful can do penance on Fridays by “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.”

“We are living in a time and place of intense spiritual battle, and only in taking up spiritual arms will we alleviate the spiritual disease that is at the root of so much of the physical and mental suffering in the world today,” said Cordileone.

He left his flock with a message of hope:

There is one more very important thing our Lady told the children after their vision of hell, not a request, but a promise: “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. 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.

Father Richard Heilman, one of the organizers of an October 7 rosary rally during which participants consecrated themselves to Mary, thinks the lead-up to October 13 will be “stormy.”

“Pray, fast, and put on the full armor of Christ –  remain strong in a ‘state of grace’ – and lay hold of the spiritual weapons God has given us – especially the Rosary,” he advised on his blog. “Be a ‘calming force’ amidst the storms raging all around us.”

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Erin Baklinski

Opinion,

Our Lady of Fatima’s message of conversion is more relevant today than 100 years ago

Erin Baklinski

Editor's note: 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. LifeSiteNews is pleased to bring you this reflection on why Our Lady's message is still important today. 

October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- In the last moments before he died on the cross, “Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, and he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son!'” (John 19:26). In giving the disciple John to the care of his mother, Jesus also entrusted every human being to Mary’s loving care, so that she can help us turn our hearts to the Lord. And Mary, in response, says to each of us: “Do whatever he tells you!” (John 2:5).

This is Mary’s constant word to her children, repeated throughout the centuries in various private apparitions, including the apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, of which we are celebrating the 100th anniversary this year.

From May 13th to October 13th, 1917, Mary appeared six times to three shepherd children, Lucia Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto. Her message focused on seeking the conversion of “poor sinners,” through much sacrifice and prayer, especially the rosary, and through devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

Our Lady asked for Russia’s consecration, promising that unless the birthplace of Communism be converted, it would “spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.”

Mary’s last words to the children on October 13th were, “Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.”

The message of Our Lady of Fatima, although a private revelation that does not add anything to God’s complete revelation in Jesus Christ, has been accepted and promoted by the church, precisely because it conforms to the central call of Jesus: “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

It is, says Saint John Paul II, “in the light of a mother's love [that] we understand the whole message of the Lady of Fatima. The greatest obstacle to man's journey towards God is sin, perseverance in sin, and, finally, denial of God. The deliberate blotting out of God from the world of human thought. The detachment from him of the whole of man's earthly activity. The rejection of God by man. ...Can the Mother who with all the force of the love that she fosters in the Holy Spirit desires everyone's salvation keep silence on what undermines the very basis of their salvation? No, she cannot. And so, ... the message of Our Lady of Fatima ... invites to repentance. It gives a warning. It calls to prayer.”

Mary’s message of the need to return to her Son was given not only for those in Portugal in 1917. Rather, it is addressed to all, and is a message specially given for our time. 

“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph,” she said. This promise has yet to be fulfilled. 

At Fatima, Mary made two specific requests of her children, by means of which she helps us to overcome sin and discord in a most powerful way.

First, Mary asked that we “pray the rosary every day” so that through it, she can help us to learn Christ, to be conformed to Christ, to pray to Christ, and finally to proclaim Christ.

Secondly, Mary revealed that “to save [sinners], God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart,” and in particular “consecration ... to my Immaculate Heart.”

In the words of Saint John Paul II, “Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means drawing near, through the Mother's intercession, to the very Fountain of life that sprang from Golgotha. This Fountain pours forth unceasingly redemption and grace. In it reparation is made continually for the sins of the world. It is a ceaseless source of new life and holiness. ... And so she calls us. She not only calls us to be converted: she calls us to accept her motherly help to return to the source of Redemption.”

On June 13, 1929 Lucia received another apparition which sums up the whole message of Fatima.

Suddenly the whole chapel was illumined by a supernatural light, and above the altar appeared a Cross of light, reaching to the ceiling. In a brighter light on the upper part of the Cross, could be seen the face of a man and his body as far as the waist; upon his breast was a dove of light; nailed to the Cross was the body of another man. A little below the waist, I could see a chalice and a large Host suspended in the air, onto which drops of blood were falling from the Face of Jesus Crucified and from the wound in His side.

These drops ran down onto the Host and fell into the chalice.

Beneath the right arm of the Cross was Our Lady and in her hand was her Immaculate Heart. (It was Our Lady of Fatima, with her Immaculate Heart in her left hand, without sword or roses, but with a crown of thorns and flames). Under the left arm of the Cross, large letters, as if of crystal clear water which ran down upon the altar, formed these words: "Grace and Mercy."

Every pope, since Pius XII, has encouraged devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. In our own time, Pope Francis has granted an opportunity to gain a plenary indulgence during the centenary year of the apparitions at Fatima.

For those who cannot visit the shrine of Fatima itself, “the pious faithful who visit with devotion a statue of Our Lady of Fatima solemnly exposed for public veneration in any church, oratory or proper place during the days of the anniversary of the apparitions, the 13th of each month from May to October (2017), and there devoutly participate in some celebration or prayer in honor of the Virgin Mary” can gain a plenary indulgence if the usual conditions are met.

At Fatima, Mary wished to bring to us the grace and mercy of God won for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even now, 100 years after the apparitions, let us turn to Our Lady of Fatima, for she is still calling us to accept her help to return to her Son.

Erin Baklinski has a Masters in Theology. She is married and the mother of seven children (with three in heaven). She and her husband live in Canada. 

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Rick Fitzgibbons, MD

Opinion

Psychiatrist: Amoris Laetitia is a ‘grave threat’ to families. John Paul II got it right

Rick Fitzgibbons, MD

October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The faithful of the Church are presently going through a most challenging and stressful time. The 2,000-year-old teachings of Jesus and his Church have been put at risk by statements in the eighth chapter of Amoris Laetitia and by Pope Francis’ failure to correct heretical positions taken against marriage, the Eucharist and sexual morality by members of the hierarchy and priests.

The recent response to this crisis in the Church as been influenced by the actions of St. Paul when he corrected St. Peter, the first pope chosen by Christ.

“But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” – Galatians 2:11.

Pope Francis has also been given a formal filial correction in which he is accused of propagating seven heresies concerning marriage, the moral life, and the reception of sacraments.

Amoris Laetitia has been widely criticized as being a danger to the Catholic faith. Pope Francis, whose main responsibility is defending and passing on the truths of the faith, has ignored requests for clarification of its most confusing and controversial sections by Cardinals.

In Amoris Laetitia, paragraph 303, Pope Francis has also been accused of effectively denying the existence of moral absolutes:

“Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal.”

From a psychological perspective, Amoris Laetitia also poses a grave threat to the healthy and the stability of marriage, Catholic family life and children.  The reason is that chapter 8 supports and advocates the selfishness and narcissistic thinking which are the leading enemies of psychological health and therefore of stable and strong marriages. 

We have worked with many previously healthy and happy Catholic marriages and families that have been undermined and destroyed under the influence of a spouse giving into the epidemic of narcissism.

Selfishness is also the foundation of situational ethics that would now appear to be emboldened by certain passages in Amoris Laetitia

Narcissistic thinking has also severely harmed the priesthood over the past 50 years and played a major role in the crisis in the Church. No adult male would sexually molest an adolescent male, the primary victims in the crisis, unless he selfishly believed that he had the right to use others as sexual objects.

St. John Paul II wrote of the serious dangers of selfishness to marriage in Love and Responsibility

“For love can survive only as a unity in which the mature “we” is manifested; it will not survive as an arrangement of two selfish people,” (Love & Responsibility, 2013, p. 71).

Actions against the St. John Paul II Institutes

Serious concerns have increased markedly by the Holy Father’s actions in dissolving the founding principles of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family and by changing its primary mission. Henceforth, the Institute will be primarily advancing the highly controversial the teachings found in Amoris Laetitia rather than implementing St. John Paul II’s brilliantly clear and unambiguous teaching on marriage, family, the human person and sexuality.

As a psychiatrist with expertise in treating marital and family conflicts over the past 40 years, I have witnessed the enormous benefits of the implementation of St. John Paul II’s groundbreaking and much needed writing and teaching. I have also taught about their role in understanding Catholic marriage and in strengthening marriages and families in numerous public appearances and as an adjunct professor at the JPII Institute in Washington, D.C.

This article identifies the vital psychological importance of St. John Paul II’s, Familiaris Consortio, the Magna Carta for Catholic families, contrasted with the serious threat that the eighth chapter in Amoris Laetitia poses to psychological health of Catholic marriages, families and the culture.  It recommends that the founding principles of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family be retained and not replaced by the teaching of Amoris Letitia, in part, because of the confusion about marriage and Eucharist throughout the world created by the eighth chapter of AL.  Another serious reason for this recommendation is that AL totally omits pastoral concern for the millions of children affected yearly by divorce and irregular unions, such as cohabitation.   

Familiaris Consortio and the John Paul II Institutes

After the Synod on the Family in 1980, Pope John Paul II wrote Familiaris Consortio, which presents clearly and convincingly what is necessary for Catholic couples and families in the intense struggle to protect the spiritual and the psychological health in the Catholic home and in the culture.

Pope John Paul II then instituted the John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome in 1981. The stark reality is that on the day he was to establish this institute he was shot and miraculously escaped death. This event should not surprise us now, given the intense controversy and the confusion that has developed recently in the Church and the culture regarding the truth about marriage, family, sexuality and the Eucharist.

The recent dramatic move of Pope Francis to radically change this internationally respected institute to focus primarily on his confusing and psychologically dangerous document, Amoris Laetitia, has struck many Catholics as another assault upon St. John Paul II’s legacy for marriage and family life.

The official website of Germany’s Catholic bishops celebrated the Pope’s dissolution of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, “a stronghold of resistance against Francis’ agenda of mercy,” and its replacement with a new “think tank for Amoris Laetitia.”

In fact, St. John Paul II’s writings offer an approach to the great mercy of the Lord because they present the truth to spouses, children and the culture about human sexuality, marriage, youth and family life.

Cardinal Caffarra

The late Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, who was the founding president of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family and one of the four Cardinals who submitted the dubia requesting a clarification of Amoris Laetitia, reflected in his address to the graduating class of 2016 at the Washington Session of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, on the vision of Pope John Paul II in founding the Institute:

The idea that robust doctrine had no fundamental importance to pastoral ministry was totally foreign to the Pope. On the contrary, he did not think that pastoral care was possible unless it “spoke the truth” of doctrine Eph 4;15.

Therefore, research into the foundation of marriage and the family, a return to the Beginning, was the task of the Institute. The two main characteristics of the Institute follow from this: a strong commitment in the field of anthropology, and Christocentric thought. 

The Pope was profoundly convinced that the crisis of marriage and the family was basically an anthropological crisis: the human person had lost awareness of himself, of the truth of his being a person, so that he no longer understood the truth of marriage.

The fact that his (John Paul II’s) catechesis on human love were not taken as the basis for pastoral practice concerning marriage was a main reason for serious difficulties with the Synods of 2014 and 2015.

In contrast to the ambiguous and confusing elements in chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia, St. John Paul II’s writing on marriage and the Eucharist in Familiaris Consortio, n. 84, is clear and loyal to the sacrament of marriage, children and the Eucharist. 

He wrote:

The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church, which is signified and affected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: If these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

The psychological health of Catholic marriages and children is dependent upon a clear understanding of the nature of marriage and sexuality as described by St. John Paul II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.   Couples need, more than ever, the knowledge contained in these resources that growth in virtues and in grace helps them uncover and resolve conflicts, protects their love and thereby saves their children from the plagues of selfishness and divorce

At present, the eighth chapter of Amoris Laetitia is a confusing magisterial document, which is psychologically harmful and dangerous to Catholic marriages and families in my professional opinion.  It should not be the basis for the teaching of the John Paul II Institutes for Studies on Marriage and Family. In fact, Amoris Laetitia undermines St. John Paul II’s brilliant, much needed contributions for marriage and family in Familiaris Consortio and Theology of the Body.

Rick Fitzgibbons, M.D., is a psychiatrist who is the director of the Institute for Marital Healing outside Philadelphia.  He has served as s an adjunct professor at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute on Marriage and Family at Catholic University of America and as a consultant to the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican.  He has written about the origins and treatment of marital conflicts in two American Psychological Association books.

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Australian Archbishop Julian Porteous has defended Catholic teaching on marriage.
The Editors

Opinion, ,

Same-sex ‘marriage’ is causing a schism among Catholics in Australia

The Editors

Editor's Note: The following article was submitted by an Australian priest who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

AUSTRALIA, October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Australia’s “gay’’ marriage and LGBTI activists rejoiced. An article in the national newspaper, The Australian, lent support to their shrill campaign for a “yes’’ vote in the nation’s postal plebiscite on same-sex “marriage’’ from an unexpected quarter.

In our pluralist society, Bishop Bill Wright, bishop of the Catholic diocese of Maitland-Newcastle (north of Sydney), said a “com­mon good’’ argument could be made that “it does more for community peace and harmony for gay couples to have a place in the recognised structures than for them to be excluded.’’ 

The article quoted from the bishop’s website, in which he claimed that the push for same-sex marriage “seemed to arise from the desire of gay couples to have an officially sanctioned ceremony to formalise their commitment to each other and then to have that relationship accorded legal and social recognition … in a society where same-sex relationships are legal and gay couples can adopt and raise children, it’s a bit of a legal anomaly that their relationship itself doesn’t have a clear legal status.’’ 

However wrong he was, Bishop Wright was not alone.

His episcopal colleague, Bishop Vincent Long of the diocese of Parramatta (west of Sydney), also angered faithful Catholics by advising his flock that the plebiscite is “an opportunity for us to listen to what the Spirit is saying through the signs of the times.’’ 

“Our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have often not been treated with respect, sensitivity and compassion,’’ Bishop Long lamented. “Regrettably, the church has not always been a place where they have felt welcomed, accepted and loved.’’

The debate dividing Australians is also exposing a schism within the Catholic Church in Australia. A recent commentary of Rorate Caeli revealed Jesuits, including the leaders of two of Australia’s elite boys’ colleges, are among prominent protagonists for a “Yes’’ vote to change the law. It is now clear that the schism reaches as high as the Episcopal Conference. There are deep fault lines in both faith and morals, but the eagerness of Bishops such as Long and Wright to offer incense at the Altar of Political Correctness in honour of the god Eros, has brought the schism into the open during the same-sex marriage debate.   

Three archbishops strongly defend marriage

While most of their colleagues practise elected silence or offer ambiguous, timid platitudes, three Archbishops – out of more than 70 serving and retired members of the Australian Bishops’ Conference – have so far made significant contributions to the spirited “No’’ side of the campaign.

Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous has led the way. In 2015, he stood firm when the state of Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner decided he had a case to answer for distributing a mild, respectful book to Catholic schools defending Catholic teaching on marriage. While the case against the Archbishop was dropped, it was one of the early signs that freedom of religion and expression was under assault from those who claim to be the standard bearers of  “tolerance’’ and “inclusion.’’

Sydney’s Archbishop Anthony Fisher, OP, a qualified lawyer, has concentrated on the grave threat that changing the Marriage Act would pose to religious and civic freedoms. That approach, also being pursued on the “No’’ side by former Prime Minister John Howard and various secular commentators, is gaining traction.

In a statement issued on Our Lady’s birthday, Archbishop Fisher said:

“I believe that further messing with marriage won't help people embrace and sustain real marriages and marriage-based families in the future. That will be a loss for us all - people with same-sex attraction included - because so much about our individual and common life depends on the health of marriages and families.

“Will there be other consequences of redefining marriage? Overseas experience suggests there will be - for school curriculums, employment opportunities, freedoms of speech and religion, gender ideology in many contexts. Commentators have highlighted real cases of institutions like church schools, hospitals and welfare agencies, or business operators and workers, or parents and ordinary people being bullied and punished for supporting traditional marriage. Some of the same spirit is in the air here in Australia. Faithophobic slurs are now all too common.

“Now, for saying all this, I'll probably be tagged a hater. But the fact is that many Christians know and love someone who is same-sex attracted and we want only the best for them. We also love real marriages and want to keep supporting that special relationship. We are being pressured to choose one or the other. But I'm determined to keep respecting both, to keep calling on Catholic Sydney to do the same, and to work to keep the debate civil.’’

In a thought-provoking contribution to the debate, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge focused on the true nature of marriage and family and countered so-called the “yes’’ side’s “marriage equality’’ catchcry:

“It’s true that all human beings are equal. But that doesn’t mean they are the same. Same-sex marriage ideology implies that equality means sameness. But it doesn’t. I may be different, but I’m still equal. Marriage policy has almost always “discriminated” against certain people: parents can’t marry their children, brother and sister can’t marry, those under age can’t marry. Nor can people of the same sex. That doesn’t make them any less equal …

Are heterosexuality and homosexuality equivalent?

In the construction of any human society, heterosexuality has been privileged because it alone can secure the future by producing children. Only a society which sees children as optional and the future as something of no great concern would see heterosexuality and homosexuality as equivalent.

Are children an optional extra?

Without resorting to extraordinary measures, same-sex couples can’t produce children – not just because of age or sterility but because of biological impossibility. Yet bringing children to birth and raising them in a stable environment is fundamental to marriage, which remains true even if a married couple can’t conceive. The two purposes of marriage are unitive and procreative. They are deeply interrelated. Yet same-sex marriage would separate them radically, which means that it can’t be marriage.’’ 

'Sin' not mentioned

Worthwhile as such contributions have been, a key ingredient has been notably absent in a debate that has swung, mainly on the “yes’’ side, between bitterness and hate speech and treacly slogans about inclusivity, equality, tolerance and love.

The word “sin’’ no longer appears, apparently, even in the Catholic lexicons of bishops in this part of the world. It has not been mentioned. …

Depending on their phraseology, anyone brave enough to try might find himself facing accusations of “vilification’’ and “intimidation,’’ and a $12,600 fine under special federal laws rushed in to keep the debate “civil.’’

On their form to date, Catholic leaders will not test the boundaries.  

While for Bishop Long, “It should not be a matter of a simple answer Yes or No to the postal survey,” one cannot help but call to mind the words of Our Divine Lord: “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37).

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Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Follow Matthew

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Scholars’ critiques of Filial Correction misread and distort the Church’s magisterial teaching

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Follow Matthew

October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – In recent days, multiple scholars have issued critiques of the recently-published Filial Correction of Pope Francis, which have appeared in the Italian newspaper La Stampa. Alarmingly, the critiques written by these scholars are littered with distortions and out-of-context citations of an important magisterial document, and suffer from a glaringly deficient theological standpoint. One also contains a false accusation against LifeSite. Ultimately, they fail to address any of the central arguments of the Filial Correction, a pattern followed by virtually all of the public criticism that has been launched against the document since its publication last month.

Does the Filial Correction contradict the instruction Donum veritatis?

Robert Fastiggi and Dawn Eden Goldstein have together written an article for La Stampa accusing the signers of the Filial Correction of violating the teaching contained in the instruction Donum veritatis, issued by the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 1990. Emmett O’Regan has written a separate article on the same theme. Fastiggi has a Ph.D in historical theology, Goldstein has a doctorate in sacred theology, and O’Regan is known for writing a book about the apocalypse. (The full text of the Correction can be found here.)

Sadly, Fastiggi and Goldstein repeatedly distort both the Filial Correction and Donum veritatis to support their accusations, misconstruing the former and quoting the latter out of context. For example, they complain that the Correction fails to distinguish the magisterial weight of various papal statements as required by Donum veritatis, and denounce the document for quoting non-magisterial papal statements, without mentioning that those statements are cited by the correction not as magisterial documents but as proof of Pope Francis’ intentions in writing a purportedly magisterial document, Amoris laetitia.

Moreover, as signatory Joseph Shaw observed, the Filial Correction doesn’t seek to correct the pope’s authentic magisterium, because it doesn’t even regard Amoris laetitia itself as a legitimate magisterial act but rather one that contradicts and undermines the Magisterium as a whole. This claim is well-founded. Not only does Amoris laetitia strongly appear to deny infallibly-defined dogmas of the Church – disqualifying it as a part of the authentic papal magisterium –  but the document itself clearly implies that it does not intend to exercise magisterial authority. The document states: “not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it.”

Strangely, Fastiggi and Goldstein complain that “in loading down their petition with cherry-picked statements bearing little or no magisterial authority, the Correctio authors seem intent on discrediting the Holy Father and his intentions,” as if Francis has not already accomplished this by appearing to contradict Catholic dogma on numerous occasions. They seem to believe that Francis’ numerous misleading statements cannot possibly be harmful to the faith of Catholics unless they constitute official magisterial acts, as if Catholics do (or perhaps should?) utterly ignore the pope unless his statements are published in the official Acts of the Apostolic See.

Even more strangely, the duo then goes on to commit the same error they impute to the Fraternal Correction. They imply that Francis’ January 2016 address to the Roman Rota, in which he said the essential elements of marriage “can be lived out by all the faithful,” somehow overrides the many statements he later made in Amoris laetitia and other documents that strongly indicate the opposite. If we are to assume that Amoris laetitia qualifies as an authentic magisterial document, how is a mere allocution, made prior to Amoris laetitia and addressed only to cardinals, to override a later apostolic exhortation addressed to the whole Church?

O’Regan joins Fastiggi and Goldstein to point out that Donum veritatis requires those who have difficulties with non-infallible declarations of the Catholic Church’s Magisterium to make their concerns known to the responsible authority in a private way, rather than launching media campaigns. Donum veritatis does indeed urge theologians to act in such a way, and in fact the document envisions the possibility of dissenting theologians suffering “in silence and in prayers” should their arguments not be accepted. However, Fastiggi, Goldstein, and O’Regan again misapply Donum veritatis because they fail to understand the whole nature of the dispute in question, which is not a dissent against the Church’s Magisterium but a critique of expressions that strongly appear to contradict it.

Are theologians prohibited from publicly correcting the pope?

Perhaps most disturbingly, Fastiggi, Goldstein, and O’Regan seem to have embraced an erroneous understanding of clerical, and particularly papal, authority, raising it to an absolute principle that seems to override even clear cases of subversion of Catholic doctrine. It appears that for them, nothing, no possible situation, could justify a public correction of the pope.

Fastiggi and Goldstein state in a response to Shaw that even if they thought that the pope was “asking people to act or believe in ways contrary to the teaching of the Church,” they would “not have recourse to the mass media,” but would, at best, make their concerns known to the Holy See privately.

Their perspective differs markedly from Sacred Scripture, which records a public rebuke of St. Peter by St. Paul in the Epistle to the Galatians, one that has been cited by saints and theologians for millennia as an example to the faithful in general. As St. Thomas Aquinas puts it, “If the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter's subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith.” Fastiggi and Goldstein never even address this doctrine, although the Correction cites it.

O’Regan goes even further, absurdly claiming that every pope receives “Divine assistance which prevents him from erring in matters of faith and morals, even when teaching non-infallibly,” calling this an “essential truth” without which “the entire edifice of Catholic theology comes crashing to the ground.” In fact, it is not only not an “essential truth” but a self-contradicting absurdity. If the pope is teaching non-infallibly, then he is teaching fallibly, and he isn’t absolutely protected from error.

The possibility of papal error in matters of faith and morals is supported by glaring examples from Church history, such as the erroneous-in-faith public statements of Pope John XXII in the 14th century, which were condemned by his successor. His statements, made in public homilies, were non-infallible, but contrary to truths of the Catholic faith. If O’Regan were right, the Church’s “theology” would have crashed and burned almost 700 years ago.

Fastiggi and Goldstein also falsely accuse LifeSite of removing comments submitted by Fastiggi in response to one of our articles, a claim that is found in a footnote of their critique, and was repeated by Goldstein via Twitter. In fact, LifeSite editors have never removed a single comment by Fastiggi from any article, and Fastiggi’s numerous comments appear under three recent LifeSite articles regarding Amoris laetitia and the Filial Correction, for a total of seven comments.

LifeSite investigated Fastiggi and Goldstein’s accusation and found that two recent comments by the theologian had been placed in the comment system’s spam box without their knowledge, a glitch that occasionally happens with comment systems as it does with emails. LifeSite corrected this error and restored the two comments. We also explained the error to Dr. Fastiggi in an email and apologized for it. Fastiggi communicated the information to Dr. Goldstein, who retracted her accusation on Twitter, although the La Stampa article has never been corrected.*

We appreciate the retraction by Dr. Goldstein. We request that Dr. Fastiggi do LifeSite justice and secure a correction of his La Stampa accusation. We also ask that that he and others who might have a dispute with LifeSite pay us the courtesy to ask us first about such matters rather than assuming the worst and accusing us of bad faith.

*The La Stampa article was corrected at Dr. Fastiggi's request sometime after October 11. We thank Dr. Fastiggi for making this correction.

Update: This article previously stated that Dr. Fastiggi had not responded to LifeSite's email to him. However, he had responded to it and the email was missed. The article has been corrected to reflect this.

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