All articles from November 08, 2017


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Riccardo Cascioli

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Cardinal Müller clarifies: There are ‘no exceptions’ to ban on Communion for ‘remarried’

Riccardo Cascioli

Editor’s Note: The following article was translated from the Italian magazine La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana by LifeSite's Diane Montagna, and is reprinted with permission.

“The Dubia are authoritative and clearly legitimate,” says the former Vatican doctrinal prefect in a new interview.

November 8, 2017 (LaNuovaBQ.it) – “No, no change and no demolishing the Dubia. The purpose of my intervention was only to state that the one way to interpret Amoris Laetitia is in continuity with the Word of God in the Bible, the previous Magisterium, and with the Tradition of the great Councils of Florence, Trent and Vatican II.”

On the telephone, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, immediately distances himself from the slanted interpretations of headlines claiming he was signaling an opening of access to the Eucharist for the “divorced and remarried.”

The whole affair began with an introductory essay which Cardinal Müller wrote for a new book by Rocco Buttiglione called, “Friendly responses to the critics of Amoris Laetita” (ed. Ares, due out in Italian November 10).

According to reports circulated by Vatican Insider, Cardinal Müller supports opening a pathway to the sacraments for the “divorced and remarried.” The substance of the Vatican Insider claims would be addressed later in our conversation. For now, Cardinal Müller clarifies that the expression “divorced and remarried” is not really correct, and that we should rather refer to the “baptized in a legitimate sacramental marriage who live more uxorio [as husband and wife] with a partner who is not their legitimate husband or wife.” According to these same interpretations, Cardinal Müller’s essay therefore refutes the position of the Dubia cardinals.

“Not at all,” the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith repeated. “The Dubia are authoritative and clearly legitimate. I gave a response that isn’t against any person. My text is clear on this. A correct interpretation [of my text] is that Amoris Laetitia can and must be interpreted in an orthodox way in the unity of Catholic tradition.”

“Unfortunately,” Müller continues, “some people always take a ‘partisan’ view, for or against the Pope, as if the Church were a political party. My intervention is not meant to continue the polemics but to overcome them, and to speak about these issues theologically. It is not about being right at any cost, but about honoring revealed Truth.”

“I would like my reflections to help us get away from this narrow view: the issue is the Truth, what Jesus Christ said, not the Pope or the Cardinals,” he said. “And as for the Pope, it is necessary to distinguish what is written in magisterial documents, in which he is a teacher of the faith, from what can be opinions, comments and even intentions that, being private claims, have no relevance for the divine and Catholic faith. In any case, the only criterion for judgment is what Jesus Christ said. Let’s not talk about divorced and remarried but about legitimate sacramental marriage before God or [a marriage that is] not valid. And in this case, how do we help these couples who live more uxorio without being validly married before God?”

Cascioli: And so we touch on the question of the indissolubility of marriage. In recent days, it’s been said that you are convinced there can be some exceptions.

Cardinal Muller: No exceptions. This idea is false. I gave a clear theological explanation, which left no room for misunderstanding. I would like to bring peace to the situation and not fuel polemics between opposing groups.

And so we need to be clear that when it comes to a legitimate sacramental marriage there can be no exceptions. The sacraments are efficacious ex opere operato. Just as there are no exceptions in the validity of baptism, or of the transubstantiation of the bread into the Body of Christ.”

But in Buttiglione’s essay, he refers to several very particular situations in which there would be a venial sin, so that it should be possible to be absolved and to receive the sacraments while maintaining the state of the second union.

In my introduction it is very clearly written that reconciliation is needed, and this is only possible if there is first contrition and a firm purpose not to commit the sin anymore. Certain people who address these issues do not understand that approaching the Sacrament of Reconciliation does not mean automatic absolution. There are essential elements without which reconciliation cannot be achieved. If there isn’t contrition there cannot be absolution and if there is no absolution, if one remains in the state of mortal sin, one cannot receive Communion.

As for Buttiglione, he refers to situations where knowledge of the Catholic faith is a problem. These are cases of unconscious Christians, who are baptized but unbelieving, who may have gotten married in Church to please their grandmother, but without a real awareness. Here it becomes a problem when, after many years, they return to the faith and then question the marriage. There are many such cases. Benedict XVI also looked at the issue. So what’s to be done? In this sense we can say with the Pope that discernment is needed, but this does not mean that one can be granted access to the sacraments without the conditions mentioned above. The issue here is not about the indissolubility of sacramental marriage, but about the validity of many marriages that aren’t really valid.

But in your essay you also refer to cases of people who convert or return to the faith after already having entered a second union, and regarding the sacraments you talk about a decision in the internal forum. What do you mean?

While in Europe things are clear enough at least theoretically, in many countries there are many difficult situations to judge. In Latin America, for example, there are many marriages that are not celebrated according to the canonical form. There are couples who live together but one doesn’t know if there is an actual marriage consent. I was in Haiti recently and the situation there is disastrous; everyone is called a spouse. They live together but they aren’t formally married either in church or civilly. When some mature, they start going to church and then you have to determine who the true husband or wife is. And here it’s important for the person to be honest and say sincerely with whom they have expressed true consent, because it is the consent that makes a marriage, not only the canonical form. In any case, in order to be admitted to the sacraments, the parish priest or bishop must clarify the situation in cooperation with the freedom of the faithful. But there are also situations that are overturned.

Can you say more?

There are particular circumstances, for example under regimes that persecute the Church, where it isn’t possible to be married canonically. Let’s take the example of North Korea: the few Catholics who are present there still have the right to marry, and here a marriage is possible only through consent. But if in time something happens and the two separate, and they want to remarry, then everything depends on the internal forum, on their honesty in acknowledging if there was consent or not, and they have to express that to the priest or to the new husband or wife.

This is where conscience comes into play.

Yes, but conscience understood properly, not like certain journalists explain it who water down the truth. We are talking about a right conscience, one that cannot say “I don’t have to respect God’s law.” Conscience does not free us from God’s law but gives us the guidance to fulfill it.

However, in your introduction to Buttiglione’s book, you shy away from casuistry and seem especially concerned with offering several clear criteria for understanding Amoris Laetitia so as to avoid what you explicitly call “heretical interpretations.”

Exactly. Unfortunately, there are individual bishops and whole episcopal conferences that are proposing interpretations that contradict the previous Magisterium, admitting to the sacraments persons who persist in objective situations of grave sin. But this is not the criterion for applying Amoris Laetitia. Pope Francis himself spoke of a Thomist apostolic exhortation. And so it is right to read it in light of St. Thomas, and on admission to the Eucharist, St. Thomas is clear dogmatically and also has a pastoral sensitivity for individuals.

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Notre Dame reverses position, allows birth control coverage through insurance

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SOUTH BEND, Indiana, November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — In a stunning about-face, the University of Notre Dame reversed its decision to halt free birth control coverage for employees.

The Catholic university had issued a statement weeks earlier saying in response to the Trump administration’s recent rollback of the Obamacare contraceptive mandate that it would no longer provide free birth control coverage through the University’s health insurance plans. 

Earlier in the month, the White House, in what was hailed as a victory for religious liberty, announced that effective immediately, all for- and nonprofit employers and insurers could choose to ignore the contraceptive mandate on moral and religious grounds, no questions asked.

Notre Dame’s pro-life, pro-religious liberty decision lasted about a week

On Tuesday, employees received an email saying "The University of Notre Dame, as a Catholic Institution, follows Catholic teaching about the use of contraceptives and engaged in the recent lawsuit to protect its freedom to act in accord with its principles.”  

The email continued, “Recognizing, however, the plurality of religious and other convictions among its employees, it will not interfere with the provision of contraceptives that will be administered and funded independently of the University."

It remains unclear what prompted the reversal.  

Perhaps it was to avoid future litigation. The South Bend Tribune reported that when the university announced it would discontinue free contraception, “Two national advocacy groups filed a federal lawsuit Oct. 31 challenging the Trump administration rule change. The suit was filed on behalf of five women who say they will be denied birth control coverage, including three Notre Dame students.”

According to the Associated Press, “The lawsuit was filed by the National Women's Law Center and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.”

Negative press coverage and statements issued by liberal organizations may have also played a role.  

The Los Angeles Times published a headline blaring, “Ending birth control coverage, Notre Dame abandons its progressive legacy on women's rights.”

Refinery 29 interviewed Notre Dame students after the University announced the discontinuation of free birth control coverage.

"I felt like we had been going on the right direction in campus," she said. "And then, to have the university come out and say they won't cover contraception is a regressive standpoint on women's healthcare."

"For me, if you're preventing students from having access to contraceptive care because you're trying to make everyone adhere to your religious beliefs, that's incompatible with your commitment to diversity."

Time Magazine published an opinion piece by two Notre Dame students who said, “Catholicism is not an excuse to ransack our healthcare.” They continued, “We merely want Notre Dame to respect our bodily autonomy and not hinder our access to reproductive healthcare. We don’t think that’s too much to ask.”

Reaction to the reinstatement

NARAL Pro-Choice America applauded the move to reinstate free contraception, saying, “Freedom of religion is not the freedom to impose your beliefs on others.  Big win for Notre Dame faculty & students.” 

Pro-Life America reacted differently.  

“Public policy can deliver on protecting rights of conscience, as it has here, but it can’t supply the fortitude to act,” said Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute and a Notre Dame graduate. “Notre Dame has now accepted the Obama ‘accommodation’ when it was fully entitled to an exemption from this onerous law covering abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and other drugs and devices to which it has faithfully and historically objected.”  

“The government is a jealous taskmaster and its impositions, though blocked for a time under the Trump exemptions, are likely to return with even greater force and wider application, including to elective abortion,” Donovan continued. “Notre Dame still has time to strengthen its hand today and in future struggles by abandoning the Obama accommodation and insisting on the full exercise of conscience as a Catholic institution.  I pray it will do so, and soon.”

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Facebook blocks Right to Life group’s advertising, reactivates after media reports

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

McBAIN, Michigan, November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Facebook has censored another pro-life organization’s advertising account.

Wexford/Missaukee Right to Life, an affiliate of Right to Life of Michigan, discovered the shutdown last month when they tried to “boost” a post. Wexford/Missaukee Right to Life president Teresa Fenby told LifeSiteNews the social media giant gave no notice, no explanation, and no instructions on restoring the account.

The group asked Facebook officials what prompted their hack but received only a generic response. Finally, they were told,

“There’s no further action you may take here.

We don’t support ads for your business model. 

Please consider this decision final.” --Facebook

The internet phenomenon, which currently has 2.07 billion active users, only restored the Wexford/Missaukee Right to Life account after media scrutiny. The Detroit News and Mlive ran stories on the Facebook censorship, and in the course of investigating made calls to the networking giant.

Then, without explanation, Facebook reinstated the account.

“We don’t understand,” Fenby told LifeSiteNews. “We’re a small group and don’t have the funding, so we couldn’t do it on our own. We appreciate the newspapers going to bat for us.”

It’s the third time Facebook has banned pro-lifers in Michigan. Similarly, Facebook cancelled Right to Life Michigan’s account twice before and only restored it under public pressure.

“Facebook’s self-described mission is to ‘give people the power to build community.’ It’s hard to do that when community organizations have tools taken away from them without an explanation,” Right to Life of Michigan president Barbara Listing said.  “Unfortunately, many local organizations don’t have the resources we did to demand an explanation and receive a solution.”

Facebook never contacted Right to Life of Michigan to explain why or how the April censorship occurred, and it also has not reached out to Wexford/Missaukee Right to Life to explain their “mistake,” Fenby confirms.

Right to Life of Michigan’s ad account was disabled a second time in May, but a message with a link to The Detroit News exposure got it right back.

“Facebook only appears to respond to media attention to fix what they claim is a simple mistake,” Right to Life of Michigan president Barbara Listing said. “We achieved no results working through Facebook’s customer service department and the Better Business Bureau.”

Right to Life spokesman Chris Gast told Mlive that it seems Facebook is targeting pro-life groups “because of content that really isn’t objectionable.” “For the life of me, I can’t understand why Facebook isn’t being transparent and just working with its customers,” he said.

“Are these bans automated? Does a human being respond to questions from users?” Listing asked. “Does Facebook think they can get away with censoring smaller pages and users because they can’t draw attention? These are questions Facebook must respond to if they truly want to build community trust.”

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Cardinal Cupich at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics Nov. 6. Facebook / University of Chicago IOP
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Francis-appointed cardinal praises pro-LGBT priest as ‘foremost evangelizer’ of youth

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CHICAGO, November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — U.S. Cardinal Blase Cupich praised Jesuit Fr. James Martin for being what he called the “foremost evangelizer” of young people in the Church today. 

“He really is one of the, if not the foremost evangelizer in the Church today, especially for young people,” said the Pope Francis-appointed Cardinal, who is the Archbishop of Chicago, while speaking at The University of Chicago Institute of Politics on Monday. 

Martin, a Vatican consultant and editor-at-large of the Jesuit-run America magazine, is one of the most recognized proponents of homosexuality within the Catholic Church today. 

The Jesuit priest has called for the Church to change its language about homosexuality, especially as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He has expressed his hope that in the near future same-sex couples will be able to “kiss” during the sign of peace at Mass. He has said that some saints in heaven are “probably gay.” He has dismissed Catholic teaching, saying God made homosexuals “who they are.”

With the publication of his June 2016 book Building a Bridge, Fr. Martin has been able to push his campaign against Church teaching on homosexuality to major media outlets as well as through his massive social media following.

Cardinal Cupich, during his speech on Monday, praised the priest’s message.  

“I appreciate what he’s doing,” he said. 

“I think he has a wonderful message and the way that he brings that message to people,” he added later in his talk. 

The Cardinal slammed people who have criticized Fr. Martin’s message, saying they “have never read anything that he’s ever written … because they said things about him that were not in the book.”

Fr. Martin has been criticized by numerous high-ranking churchmen and a number of respected Catholic lay academics for dissenting from Catholic sexual teaching. 

Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, wrote in The Wall Street Journal in August that the priest’s book has made him “one of the most outspoken critics of the church’s message with regard to sexuality.”

Other prelates include Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, who criticized Fr. Martin for failing to be clear about the sinfulness of homosexual acts. 

Based on their comments and criticisms, both prelates appear to have thoroughly read Martin’s book. 

Respected Catholic lay academics who have read and criticized Fr. Martin’s teaching for departing from Catholic sexual morality include moral theologian Janet Smith, Princeton professor Robert P. George, and professor Anthony Esolen.

Cardinal Cupich defended during his talk his invitation to Fr. Martin to give a Lenten series in his Archdiocese next year. 

“I felt it was a matter of justice to speak up on behalf of him and to support him, but then also to do something actively, proactively, and that is invite him here and give him a platform to speak to people about the topic that he likes to talk about most, namely Jesus,” he said.

“It seems to me that you have to take a stance sometimes and say ‘this is wrong.’ And just because you have all of this hyperbole and many ways of diminishing this man who's done nothing but live his life in a way that helps other people and to have his name dragged through the mud for no good reason, sometimes you just have to stand up and say, ‘enough of this, we have to do something about it,’” he added. 

Cardinal Cupich has rapidly risen to prominence under Pope Francis. Before becoming cardinal in 2016, he was appointed by Pope Francis to the influential Vatican Congregation for Bishops that recommends candidates to be appointed bishops. 

He said in a recent talk that if Catholics want to engage in “discernment” like Pope Francis does, they must let go of “cherished beliefs.”  

He has interpreted the Pope’s 2016 exhortation Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love) as a call for Catholics to graduate from “an adolescent spirituality into an adult spirituality” where they will be able to use their “freedom of conscience” to “discern truth” in their life.

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Student group defending Catholic teaching at Georgetown won’t be defunded – for now

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WASHINGTON, D.C., November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The student group at Georgetown University that defends Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality will be allowed to continue to exist after a panel voted 8-4 not to sanction it.

An administrator still has the power to reject the panel’s recommendation that the group not be sanctioned by the Jesuit university for its Catholic beliefs on marriage. The administrator, Amanda Carlton, has not indicated how she will rule.

The Love Saxa club promotes healthy relationships and sexual integrity. It encourages students to reject the hookup culture, pornography, and the notion that marriage is anything but the permanent union of one man and one woman.

Love Saxa is an affiliate of the Love and Fidelity Network, a national group that works with pro-marriage clubs on college campuses.

LGBT activist students submitted a formal complaint to Georgetown, alleging Love Saxa violated the Division of Student Affairs’ Student Organization Standards by opposing same-sex “marriage.”

Love Saxa then had to defend itself during a hearing that went past midnight on November 2 and into the morning of November 3. Its first hearing was October 30. That hearing lasted several hours, but no verdict was reached.

“We're happy to announce that free speech and toleration have won the day,” said a Love Saxa statement on its Facebook page, posted at 1:02 a.m. November 3.

“We're grateful for all of those who have supported us throughout this process,” the Love Saxa statement said. “We look forward to engaging in productive dialogue with those who disagree with us on issues of sexuality, marriage, and the family.”

“It’s very heartening when students set the example and make mature decisions,” Patrick Reily, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, told LifeSiteNews. “I wonder, would Georgetown’s faculty and leaders have had the same courage and conviction about Georgetown’s Catholic mission?”

“Sadly, that’s an open question, given the open hostility toward Catholic teaching that we have seen at Georgetown over the years,” he noted.

The students who brought forth the original complaint are appealing the panel vote.

Alain Oliver, the executive director of the Love and Fidelity Network, wrote in an email to supporters that he was grateful the pro-marriage group was allowed to keep its freedom of speech.

The Georgetown student panel decided that university policy “permits the belief in conjugal marriage and the binary fact that humans exist as ‘men’ and ‘women,’ and that these ideas can be held, expressed, discussed, and debated in private and public on campus,” Oliver wrote.

The Georgetown Voice reported:

SAC’s board members each gave a reason for their vote. Those who voted in favor of Love Saxa explained that Love Saxa’s activities and the speakers they brought to campus were protected under free speech. Love Saxa’s events largely center on the harmful effects of pornography, the U.S.’s rising divorce rate, and the merits of chastity.

But those who voted against Love Saxa said its constitution and an article its president, Amelia Irvine, wrote for the The Hoya “demonstrate an intolerant purpose because they support the denial of LGBTQ people’s right to marry others of same sex.”

The offending article was called Confessions of a College Virgin. She outlined why she is choosing not to have sex with her boyfriend and explained Love Saxa is a space for students to recover from the hookup culture.

“Some members also said they did not think the speakers which Love Saxa had invited were admissible, saying free speech does not protect intolerant speech,” the Georgetown Voice reported.

Catholic views, not student prostitution, controversial at Georgetown

On October 27, The Hoya published an article titled Behind the Curtain: Students in Sex Work. It described Georgetown students engaging in prostitution.

The student it profiled prefers the gender pronoun “they” and appears to be a male who thinks he is female, based on the descriptions.

“The extra income furnished their ability to purchase makeup and clothes that represented their identity,” the article explained.

“Eric/a” began by using SeekingArrangement.com, a website that facilitates “sugaring.”

This is “a practice which relies on gifts or allowances from clients in exchange for sex.”

“But after finding the payoff of sugaring to be too meager and at times uneven, Eric/a switched to escorting, which relies strictly on monetary transactions for sex,” The Hoya reported.

“Eric/a” said he “knows of similar arrangements among their peers who have taken up sugaring to offset tuition costs.”

Georgetown is widely regarded as one of the most liberal Catholic universities in America. It allowed Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, to speak on campus in 2016 at an event held by its Lecture Fund.

Planned Parenthood commits over 300,000 abortions annually.

Richards received a standing ovation.

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Trump slams forced abortion, infanticide in North Korea

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SOUTH KOREA, November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – President Trump blasted the forced abortions and infanticide that are regularly committed in North Korea, asking why China would “feel an obligation” to help a country that kills Chinese babies for being “inferior.”

“North Korean women are forced to abort babies that are considered ethnically inferior,” Trump told South Korea’s National Assembly. “And if these babies are born, the newborns are murdered.”

“One woman's baby born to a Chinese father was taken away in a bucket,” Trump recalled. “The guard said it did not deserve to live because it was impure.”

“So why would China feel an obligation to help North Korea?” he asked.

“The horror of life in North Korea is so complete that citizens pay bribes to government officials to have themselves exported abroad as slaves,” said Trump. “They would rather be slaves than live in North Korea.”

North Koreans who successfully escape to China “face grave danger because the Chinese government arrests and forcibly repatriates North Korean refugees,” according to Liberty in North Korea (LINK). “If sent back, they undergo interrogation and are at risk of extremely harsh punishments including torture, forced labor, forced abortions, and internment in a political prison camp.”

The totalitarian regime sees religion as a threat and “therefore nothing apart from token churches built as a facade of religious freedom for foreign visitors are allowed,” LINK explains. “People caught practicing or spreading religion in secret are punished extremely harshly, including by public execution or being sent to political prison camps.”

Forced abortion is a major problem in China as well. The country recently changed its one-child policy to a two-child policy, giving some couples the “right” to a second child.

This coercive population control program has led to gendercide because of cultural preferences for sons.

In April 2017, Trump announced that the U.S. would no longer fund the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) because it participates in China’s forced abortion regime.

The U.S., North Korea, and China are three of the seven countries in the world with the most liberal, unrestrictive abortion laws.

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Trump: Adoption means ‘no child in America, born or unborn, is unwanted’

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WASHINGTON, D.C., November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – President Trump praised adoption as a “true blessing” in a proclamation declaring November National Adoption Month.

“During National Adoption Month, we celebrate the thousands of families who have expanded through adoption, and we acknowledge the strength and resiliency of the children who are still waiting to find their forever home,” said Trump.

“My administration recognizes the profound importance of adoption for the American family,” said Trump. “Adoption is a life-changing and life-affirming act that signals that no child in America – born or unborn – is unwanted or unloved.”

“Adoptive parents are a selfless and loving part of God's plan for their future children,” he said.

Trump said that during National Adoption Month his administration will “focus on our commitment to helping older youth experience the transformative value of permanency and love.”

“We never outgrow the need for family, and older youth who are adopted are more likely to finish high school and feel emotionally secure than those who age out of foster care without a permanent family,” he said.

Trump noted that adoption can prevent older youth from experiencing homelessness and being incarcerated.

Adoption is “an act of love that provides deserving young people with the foundation they need to achieve their potential and pursue the American Dream,” he said. “I encourage all Americans to observe this month by helping children in need of a permanent home secure a more promising future with a forever family, so they may enter adulthood with the love we all deserve.”

There are around 400,000 children in the U.S. foster system right now. More than 100,000 are waiting to be adopted.

Natalie Brumfield, a pro-life activist with Bound4Life, wrote that the day she and her husband adopted Braxton, the boy they were fostering, was “easily one of the greatest days of our lives.”

“I’ll never stop thanking God for my husband and my beautiful son and all the other children He brings to us however He wants to bring them,” wrote Brumfield. “Adoption is a miracle. Adoption was planned before the earth was even formed.”

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Premier Rachel Notley and Education Minister David Eggen (center) support gay straight alliances in Alberta schools. Flickr.com
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Alberta gay-straight bill gives gov’t excessive power over schools: conservative leader


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EDMONTON, November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Alberta’s United Conservative Party will oppose the NDP’s radical gay-straight alliance bill, which is unprecedented in Canada in the sweeping power it gives government, says newly elected UCP leader Jason Kenney.

Bill 24, or An Act to Support Gay Straight Alliances, forbids schools telling parents that their child has joined a GSA without the child’s explicit consent, regardless of the student’s age.

The bill would “make it illegal to engage parents about certain school activities for children beginning in kindergarten, regardless of their individual circumstances,” Kenney noted at a press conference Tuesday before Alberta’s legislature began second reading debate on the bill.

Bill 24 also “concentrates enormous new powers in the hands of the Minister, undermining local decision making by principals, school boards, and independent schools,” he said.

“Not even Ontario’s Liberal government, which has taken a very aggressive approach to these issues, has proposed anything like the powers in Bill 24.”

In response, Premier Rachel Notley suggested Kenney, a known social conservative who was elected UCP leader fewer than two weeks ago, was failing “vulnerable kids.”

Kenney “had a chance to show Albertans that he had changed and would not be trying to drag the province backwards, but he’s not taking that opportunity,” she told the Edmonton Journal.

“What it also means is he’s not prepared to stand up on behalf of the most vulnerable kids in our school system.”

NDP Education Minister Dave Eggen has already branded Kenney as an extremist, and implied the UCP leader provided the impetus for Bill 24.

“Jason Kenney suggested earlier this year that schools should be able to out LGBTQ students to their parents, and that is dangerous,” Eggen told reporters before tabling the legislation last Thursday.

Kenney fired back when announcing the UCP’s would oppose the bill.

"Neither I nor anyone in our caucus has proposed  ‘outing’ gay kids,” he said.

“To suggest otherwise is offensive and dishonest. It is the opposite of what I have actually said.”

He also described the NDP’s rationale as “transparently cynical” and “part of their desperate effort to talk about anything but their failed economic record.”

His party does “not support mandatory notification of parents regarding the involvement of students in GSAs,” Kenney stressed.

He also reiterated that the UCP supports Bill 10, brought in by the Progressive Conservatives in 2015.

That law compels all publicly funded schools to allow a GSA if a student requests one.

The UCP supports GSAs, Kenney said, and believes these and “other anti-bullying peer groups can be a useful way of supporting students going through difficult times.”

But at the same time, the Alberta Teachers Association Guide says “GSAs are not merely peer support groups but also include ‘curriculum,’ ‘schoolwide educational activities,’ ‘political activities,’ etc,” he said.

With Bill 24, “the NDP is trying to do indirectly what it cannot do directly: that is teaching sensitive subjects that would normally require parental notification,” he asserted.

“Parents would be barred from knowing anything about the guest speakers, programs, or content being taught, a clear violation of the spirit of the School Act.”

In deciding to oppose Bill 24, the UCP caucus focused on “what is in the best interests of children, especially kids at risk,” Kenney said.

“We believe that every child is unique, and that every circumstance faced by kids at risk is different,” he said. “Teachers, not politicians, should decide when it makes sense to engage parents.”

The UCP caucus members also “support the longstanding principles – enshrined in law —  that parents are the primary educators of children and that schools operate under legal authority delegated by parents,” he said.

“We believe that the vast majority of parents have unconditional love for their kids,” Kenney said. Research recognized by GSA advocates shows “parental support and involvement is one of the most important factors in supporting youth at risk, including sexual minority youth,” he said.

Alberta MLAs are expected to continue debate on Bill 24 today.

The UCP, which was formed in July when the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties merged, is Alberta’s official opposition party, with 25 MLAs to the NDP’s 54.

Kenney does not currently have a seat in the legislature.

Read Kenney’s statement on Bill 24 here.

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Alberta leader thinks it’s ‘super-cruel’ to let parents know their child joined a gay-straight club

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UK woman chooses life after talking to pro-lifers outside abortion clinic

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LONDON, England, November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Anna’s baby is alive today because of the Good Counsel Network’s presence in Ealing.

The Good Counsel Network has been under attack for the past 19 months from pro-abortion group Sister Supporter and MP Rupa Huq. Sister Supporter and Huq accuse the pro-life witnesses of harassing women outside the Marie Stopes (Ealing) clinic. However, women who wanted an alternative to abortion and thought they had no choice but to abort tell another story.

In the video, “Anna,” a foreign student, describes how she was frightened when she found out that she was pregnant. She felt under pressure to abort. Everyone she talked to about the pregnancy told her that aborting the baby would be the best decision for her. She told her GP that she would keep the baby, but she wasn’t sure how she could afford it. In despair, she found the Marie Stopes clinic on Google. But someone was waiting for her when she got there.

“The lady walked towards me and said, ‘Are you going for the abortion? I can help you if you don’t want to do it.’ And I said ‘What? You can help me?’ And then it took me a second to say, “OK! I’ll go with you.”

During the pregnancy, Anna went to the Good Counsel Network’s center every day just to chat. Good Counsel also paid her bills and gave her presents for the baby at a Christmas party. When Anna had her baby girl, the Good Counsel Network gave her everything she needed for her baby — “even the sterilizer,” money, and food vouchers.

“I feel like they were people sent from heaven to help me and the baby,” Anna said.

Another woman, known simply as Kate, sent a letter to MP Fiona Bruce describing how a counselor from the Good Counsel Network gave her the courage to escape from an unwanted abortion at the Marie Stopes (Ealing) clinic. Escaping from the people who were pressuring her to have the procedure by jumping out a window, Kate sought out the counselor.

“I talked to the woman on the gate again, who offered any support I needed to keep my baby, and this gave me the confidence to leave where I was, supported by the group that this woman worked with,” she wrote. “I had my baby who is now 3 1/2 years old. She’s an amazing, perfect little girl and the love of my life.”

Kate’s letter was read in a Parliamentary debate by MP Sir Edward Leigh on November 7 as a testimonial to the real help pro-life counselors have given pregnant women outside the abortion business in Ealing. The debate, sponsored by Huq,concerned the imposition of “buffer zones” around abortion businesses to silence pro-life witness.  

In her letter, Kate testified strongly against a buffer zone, saying it  “is a really bad idea because women like me, what would they do then?”

“You know, not every woman that walks into those clinics actually wants to go through with the termination,” she continued. “There’s immense pressure, maybe they don’t have financial means to support themselves or their baby, or they feel like there’s no alternatives. These (pro-life) people offer alternatives.”

Answering false claims by people who say pro-lifers lose interest in babies once they are born, the Good Counsel Network has recently published a letter from a woman named Joaquina. She thanked the charity for helping her and her three children for two years.

“From the very first day I walked through the doors of your office, you received me with warmth and I felt very accepted and welcomed,” she wrote. “Since then, any support I needed from financial to legal advice, clothing, you tirelessly offered me.”

Joaquina had fallen through the holes in the UK’s social security net.

“While other organizations couldn’t support me and my kids because I had no status and no recourse to public funds, you picked me up and gave us the support we need,” she continued. “To some £30 a week is not a lot, but to me and my family, it meant everything.”  

The mother was particularly moved when she received a response to an phone text requesting more financial help after 10 o’clock at night. She told Clare of the Good Counsel Network that her “selflessness and humility has taught me how to serve other people who are in need when my opportunity comes.”  

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Soros-funded group seeks to legalize abortion in Latin America

Natalia Dueholm Natalia Dueholm

November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Billionaire investor George Soros’ support for abortion is not limited to the funding of Planned Parenthood. Soros’ Open Society Foundations has given large grants to the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) and Women's Link Worldwide (WLW), which is connected to the controversial Center for Reproductive Rights.

WLW, which has operated for more than 15 years with little scrutiny, is at forefront of a movement to destroy legal protections for the unborn in Latin America, a region that is still very much pro-life.

Last year, Dcleaks.com released several documents from Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF). Among them was “Women's Rights Program (WRP) Portfolio Review on 2014 grant making” dated December 16, 2015. This document details the two-year, $400,000 grant given to WLW, “a significant field player” with global reach.

The portfolio reveals that the grant doubled in size and duration as a sign of “interest in and commitment to their work,” and to give “the flexibility to implement their new strategy.” According to the document, WLW has plans to expand its work to East Africa.

WLW is described as “a 14-year-old international human rights organization based in Spain and Colombia” that is “known for its strategic litigation and related advocacy.” In other words, WLW is quick to file lawsuits to promote abortion.

According to an intern working with WLW, the group kept an online database of international cases on related issues from Spanish and international courts and tribunals, especially the European Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Court.

The organization is further characterized in the leaked portfolio as “relatively small and nimble” and “at the front of breakthroughs in SRHR (sexual and reproductive health and rights) in Latin America, including a historic constitutional case establishing the right to abortion in Colombia,” a country where abortion was once completely prohibited.

WLW also started a Gender Justice Observatory and established “the attention-getting Gender Justice Uncovered Awards that gave gavels for legal decisions by judges, human rights committees and other legal institution that promote gender equality, and bludgeons for those considered to be sexist.”

The leaked document additionally reveals that WLW was created by lawyers who were former staff of the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR). Formerly known as the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, CRR is no stranger to controversy.

For instance, in 2010 the group lobbied the UN to recognize abortion providers as “human rights defenders” in the United States and around the world.

Several leaked documents involving CRR were anonymously mailed to the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, and then reprinted in the Congressional Record by Rep. Chris Smith in 2003 to show “deceptive practices used by the abortion lobby.”

One of these leaked documents quotes a CRR trustee as saying, ‘‘We have to fight harder, be a little dirtier.’’ Smith argued that “abortion promotion groups are planning to push abortion here and abroad, not by direct argument, but by twisting words and definitions.”

A CRR memo acknowledges that “there is a stealth quality to the work: we are achieving incremental recognition of values without a huge amount of scrutiny from the opposition. These lower profile victories will gradually put us in a strong position to assert a broad consensus around our assertions.’’

Weekly Standard editor Joseph Bottum commented on the CRR tactics spoken “behind closed doors," explaining that “such disingenuousness is necessary for the abortion activists' strategy, which consists primarily of inserting vague passages in as many international treaties, reports, and working papers as possible -- and then getting the enforcement agencies and entities such as the European Court of Human Rights to interpret those passages to mean a universal right to abortion has been established.”

Bottum added that CRR strategy sessions reveal that the abortion activists' legal briefs “routinely cite phrases they themselves crafted in U.N. directives, international court decisions, and treaty-organization minutes.”

Unfortunately, WLW’s success in Colombia could serve as a blueprint for abortion activists. In “Abortion in the United States: A Reference Handbook”, Dorothy E. McBride writes that “if there is to be a change in the abortion policy in most Latin American countries it is likely to follow the lead of the high court in Colombia.” Colombia is one of the most populous countries in Latin America, a nation of 48 million people.

McBride described the successful challenge of the Colombian law by WLW attorneys in 2006 “as a violation of its international treaty obligations to ensure human rights, in this case, a woman’s right to life and health.” The court allowed for abortion when women’s life or physical and mental health is in danger, and in the cases of rape, incest, and fetal deformity. The abortion side saw it “as a promising venue to change.”

Monica Roa of WLW admitted that “the key to her success (in Colombia) was to take up the matter with the constitutional court and not seek legal reform through the legislature, an approach that had failed six times in the past.” She also said “she avoided becoming mired in a public debate with Colombia’s influential Catholic Church.”

WLW strategy was to change the law by excluding the legislative body and the country’s Catholics, who constitute 90 percent of the country’s population. It was easier to influence a small group of judges to achieve the goal in a 5-3 decision. And of course, international law was used for this purpose.

In 2005, shortly before it happened, a Colombian politician, Rafael Nieto Loaiza, wrote about abortion activists’ efforts to use the country’s court system to impose abortion on an unwilling country. Nieto is cited by LifeSiteNews describing a campaign of media trickery to sell abortion to Colombian courts and the public.

According to this article, Roa of WLW was “spearheading a duplicitous media and legal campaign, organizing a number of groups to submit amicus briefs to the court and hiring a media consultant to sell the notion of abortion to the public.” One example of the strategy involved, counter-intuitively, radical leftist lawyer criticizing Roa’s efforts as not going far enough. The idea was to portray Roa as more moderate.

More recently, WLW has tried to use a health crisis — specifically the Zika virus — to push its abortion agenda. In an NPR interview, Roa stated, "In the countries where the law doesn't allow (abortion) ... the debate should be on the table and discussed in the context (of Zika virus infections)."

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MP Rupa Huq
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UK politician ‘seething with rage’ against pro-lifers, wants to ban them outside abortion centers

Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

LONDON, England, November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Rupa Huq, Labour MP for Ealing, made no secret of her dislike for pro-life volunteers in her constituency when she asked Parliament to consider public order legislation relating to abortion businesses yesterday.

In a speech that pro-abortion demonstrators and businesses helped her to write, Huq confessed that pro-life witnesses “have had (her) seething with rage since the early 90s.”

The MP claimed that the area around Marie Stopes Ealing clinic has “become simply impassable because of the pro-life protesters outside the gates of the clinic,” and yet she praised the “Sister Supporter” group for adding themselves “to the mix.”

“I am cheered to see those young women in their pink hi-vis tabards,” said Huq, “because at a time when we are told that young people are not interested in politics, they are a shining counter-example of what people can do if they get active.”

Sister Supporter standoff

Besides screaming at the pro-life witnesses and indulging in noisy songs and chants, Sister Supporter has disrupted religious processions from a nearby Catholic church. Even Huq admits that the police are dismayed at the “standoff” between the two opposed groups outside Marie Stopes Ealing. However, Huq justified the presence of Sister Supporter by blaming it on the pro-life side. “If the first part of the problem went away, they would, too,” she said.

Paula Sherriff, Labour MP for Dewsbury, congratulated Huq on her work and claimed that some of the pro-life witnesses outside the Ealing clinic “hand out plastic foetuses and rosary beads, and tell women who are about to go into the clinic that they will be haunted by their baby.” Huq was also supported by Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington.

Sherriff and Abbott repeatedly referred to anti-abortion witnesses as “anti-choice.”

In her lengthy presentation, Huq too made a number of unsubstantiated claims about pro-life witnesses outside the Marie Stopes clinic. Among her allegations were that pro-life counselors tell women seeking abortion that they will be haunted by their baby, hand out “faux-medical,” “lying” leaflets, and live-stream the coming and going of women to and from the clinic over Facebook. “The plastic foetus dolls … are wildly inaccurate,” Huq said. “The groups used graphic images designed to shock and teddy bears -- pink for a girl and blue for a boy.”

Huq also claimed that the Ealing “pro-life people” are “well endowed — from America, we believe.”

‘They fact-checked nothing’

Claire McCullough of the Good Counsel Network, which witnesses outside the Ealing clinic, told LifeSiteNews that she was struck by the number of lies that Huq told during the debate. Among other things, “we don’t stand in the street handing women pink and blue teddy bears,” McCullough said. “I’ve never heard of anyone doing such a thing.”

McCullough called Huq’s emotional outbursts “completely disproportionate” and said the MPs at the debate had “fact-checked nothing.” She said Huq has never reached out to the Good Counsel Network for a conversation and has rebuffed the Network’s attempts to speak with her. McCullough also denied that the Good Counsel Network is funded by donations from America.

In an earlier interview, McCullough told LifeSiteNews that the pro-life witness in Ealing had been small and unobtrusive, usually involving just one counselor and two witnesses who quietly prayed, for years. The current “circus” began only when “Sister Supporters” first turned up to protest. Since then, more pro-life witnesses have come out to show their support of the Good Counsel Network.

One of Huq’s most startling claims was that a 24-week-old fetus does not have fingernails. (It’s a fact that fingernails begin to develop when a fetus is only 11 weeks old.) Huq is not a medical doctor; she received a Ph.D is in cultural studies when she completed a thesis on youth culture at the University of East London.

Letter from a woman saved from an Ealing abortion

In a stunning contradiction to the grisly portrait of pro-life counselors painted by Huq and her fellow MPs, Sir Edward Leigh, Conservative MP for Gainsborough, presented a letter from a woman who had been saved from an unwanted abortion by pro-life witnesses in Ealing:

“I never wanted to go through with an abortion but I felt a lot of pressure from people around me who offered it as a no brainer solution,” wrote the woman, who prefered to be known only as Kate “for fear of retaliation.”

“On the way into the clinic at the Marie Stopes clinic at Ealing I was offered a leaflet by a woman who I spoke to briefly,” the letter continued. “She just told me she was there if I needed her. I then went into the clinic, still not happy about being there for an abortion, but under immense pressure from a group of people that were with me to go through with it.

“Once in the clinic, while the group were distracted I leapt out of the ground floor window and cleared 3 fences to escape. I talked to the woman on the gate again, who offered any support I needed to keep my baby and this gave me the confidence to leave where I was, supported by the group that this women worked with.

“I didn’t find any aggression from the people offering support outside the Ealing clinic at all. They did have leaflets documenting the development of a baby, a fetus, in the early stages.

“The potential introduction of buffer zones is a really bad idea because women like me, what would they do then? You know, not every woman that walks into those clinics actually wants to go through with the termination. There’s immense pressure, maybe they don’t have financial means to support themselves or their baby, or they feel like there’s no alternatives. These people offer alternatives.

“I had my baby who is now three and a half years old. She’s an amazing, perfect little girl and the love of my life. I want MPs here today calling to introduce buffer zones to realise that she would not be alive today, if they had their way.”

Pro-life demonstrations do not result in crime or disorder

In response to Huq’s demands for public order legislation to remove pro-life witness, Nick Hurd, the Minister for Policing and Fire Service, observed that “few complaints are made to the police by those attending health care clinics” about demonstrators.

However, Hurd claimed that pro-life groups in the UK have adopted “extreme tactics” that he identified with the American pro-life movement, such as displaying “graphic images,” wearing video equipment, and speaking directly to people entering “health clinics.

Nevertheless, he concluded that “the police recently assessed that pro-life demonstrations do not ordinarily result in crime or disorder, and it is rare that police intervention has been called for. I am also aware that pro-life groups deny harassment and intimidation.”

In Huq’s presentation, she repeated many of the same phrases and sentiments she has used in her campaign to rid Ealing of pro-life counselors. Among them was the Catholic-bashing accusation that pro-life witnesses “weaponize rosaries.”

“I feel that if anyone spoke about another religion that way (in Parliament), there would be outrage,” McCullough said.

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Tax reform bill essential to help families, businesses ‘thrive’: Ivanka Trump

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Ivanka Trump discusses tax reform.

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Ivanka Trump left her father’s whirlwind Asia trip after a few short days, speeding back home to help the Republican-controlled Congress get its long awaited tax reform legislation across the finish line.  

The proposed tax bill contains two crucial tax reform components: Overhauling the tax code so that it becomes family and child-centric, helping and not hurting middle-class families to a far greater degree; and creating tax policy that is pro-life.

Pro-family tax reform

“Tax reform is central to the administration’s plans,” explained presidential spokesperson and adviser Ivanka Trump to Tucker Carlson’s Monday night audience. “It’s critically important that we get it done.” 

Trump said there is a dual focus. “Providing much-needed tax relief to middle income families”  and “cutting taxes generally so that businesses can be competitive and thrive in a modern economy, in a global (marketplace) where there’s tremendous competition.”

“Our tax plan accomplishes both of those things.”

“I think our tax plan is helpful toward providing middle-income relief so that families can thrive.”

Trump further noted the dominant theme of the administration’s plan is supporting middle-income Americans via “an expansion of the child tax credit (CTC), maintaining the child and ‘dependent care credit’ as part of tax reform, (and) doubling the standard deduction.”   

“Our tax plan takes a big step in terms of helping the American family with the high cost of raising children. The average American family spends almost 30 percent of pre-tax income on the cost of childcare. So the cost of childcare has gone through the roof and families just can’t afford it.”

The GOP idea is not to have government become more involved in providing affordable childcare services but rather to deliver a tax plan that will empower parents to better care for their kids — which means leaving parents with more of the money they’ve earned rather than allowing the government to take it via taxation and reallocating it as it sees fit.  

At a meeting at Americans for Tax Reform in September, Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Family Coalition, said he fully supports increasing the CTC because “it empowers the parents and the family rather than Washington and bureaucrats.” 

Pro-life tax reform

At that same ATR meeting in September, the Family Research Council’s Mandi Ancalle made a stunning proposal regarding the CTC: “We would love to see it actually apply to children in utero. I understand that that could come in a variety of different ways, whether or it applies as a double credit in the year of a child’s birth, or actually applying during pregnancy. There are lots of start-up cost of businesses, and there are lots of start up costs for families as well.”

While the U.S. House of Representatives has not taken this suggestion and run with it, the notion has found its way into at least one provision of the current tax reform bill.

“House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) deserves praise for including language in this tax bill that recognizes the personhood of unborn children by allowing expectant parents to contribute to their child’s 529 education savings account in the year prior to birth,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life. “A child in the womb is just as human as you or I yet, until now, the U.S. tax code has failed to acknowledge the unborn child -- all while granting tax breaks for those seeking an abortion under the pretense of ‘healthcare.’ The proposed tax plan is a huge leap forward for an antiquated tax code, and we hope this is the first step in expanding the child tax credit to include unborn children as well.”

Disappointments

Republicans have chosen not to use tax reform as a means of defunding Planned Parenthood, frustrating many constituents.  

The current bill, as it is structured, also eliminates the popular adoption tax credit that has made adoption affordable to many middle-class families over the last 20 years.  

Simplification will have a multifaceted impact

Last week, Congressional leaders met with President Trump at the White House to unveil the broad outline of their tax reform efforts. Americans were treated to video of President Trump examining the proposed, much simplified 5 ½ by 8 ½ tax returns that most American would be using. With a big grin, President Trump then lifted the small card to his lips and kissed it, expressing his approval of the proposal to the delight of the gathered Republican leadership.

Regarding the amount of time Americans must invest in filing their taxes, Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union said, “We’re headed toward nine billion hours. Imagine what families could do with tax reform that is even modestly successful, taking back one, two, or three billion hours of time for their households. Imagine what they could do to raise their children more effectively, what they could do to grow small family businesses.  It’s not just about giving money back into the economy, it’s about giving back time for more productive pursuits.”  

The tax reform now working its way through the U.S. House of Representatives, and which will soon make its way to the Senate, still has hurdles to clear. It allows typical Americans to save both time and money — time and money currently going to the  government under penalty of law, may soon be freed up to invest in their families.

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Roy Moore
Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Judge blocking transgender military ban ‘should be impeached’: pro-life Senate candidate

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

MONTGOMERY, Alabama, November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-life Senate candidate Roy Moore is calling for the impeachment of a transgender activist judge.

“Judge (Colleen) Kollar-Kotelly should be impeached by the House of Representatives for unlawful usurpation of power and lack of good behavior, and referred to the senate for a vote on removal,” the former state Supreme Court Chief Justice said.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Bill Clinton nominee, stepped in to halt President Donald Trump’s scheduled ban on transgender recruitment in the U.S. military in late October.  

Moore characterized Kollar-Kotelly’s move to block Trump’s order as “absolutely ridiculous.” “We’re talking about something that will actually decimate the morale in the military,” he said in July.

“We don’t need transgender bathrooms and we don’t need a transgender military,” Moore, 70, earlier said. “We don’t need a weaker military. We need to go back to what this country is about.”

The Alabama Republican is running against Democrat Doug Jones in a special election to replace Jeff Sessions, now the U.S. Attorney General. Outspokenly pro-marriage and family, Moore beat establishment Republican Luther Strange in a special run-off primary. Strange holds an interim position as acting senator until the December special election.

“The decision of a federal judge in the District of Columbia enjoining President Trump’s executive order on transgenderism in the military… is a perfect example of the outlandish doctrine of judicial supremacy whereby judges exalt themselves over the Constitution they are sworn to uphold,” Moore said.

Kollar-Kotelly said Trump’s executive order violates the right to due process. She halted the president’s order while LGBTQIA+ legal challenges are being fought in court.

Undaunted, Moore called transgender ideology a “delusion.” He specifically noted that until recently the American Psychological Association (APA) categorized transgenderism as a “mental disorder.”

Moore blamed the previous administration for advancing transgender ideology. “Only in 2016 did the Obama administration attempt to impose that delusion upon our fighting forces,” he said.  

Moore took issue with Kollar-Kotelly’s ruling that the pre-Obama tradition of keeping the military straight denies transgenders their rights.  

“To say that President Trump cannot prohibit transgenderism in the military is a clear example of judicial activism,” Moore asserted. “Even the United States Supreme Court has never declared transgenderism to be a right under the Constitution.”

“Not only has (Kollar-Kotelly) placed herself above the Constitution in finding such a nonexistent right,” Moore added, “she has also interfered with the powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.”

“Unless we return to faithful obedience to the Constitution and the separation of powers throughout therein, our form of government and our liberties will be in dire jeopardy,” Moore warned. “Congress should not turn a deaf ear to this flagrant usurpation of executive authority.”

As Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice, Moore came under tremendous fire for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments display. He later created further controversy by advising probate judges to follow the state’s ban against homosexual “marriage” while the Alabama Supreme Court reviewed the matter.

On the Senate campaign stump, Moore is telling supporters the principles upon which the United States was founded are exclusively Christian values and morals. “This nation was founded as a Christian nation,” he declared.

Moore frequently says that God, not the government, gives people inalienable rights. “If (our rights) come from government, government will take them from you,” he once explained. “That’s what we are seeing with the United States Supreme Court and other bodies in our government. They are taking our rights -- the right to life, the right to liberty and the right to the pursuit of happiness.”

But “those things come from God, they do not come from government,” he said.

Moore is up front with his agenda to help restore Christian virtue to public life.  

“Crime, corruption, immorality, abortion, sodomy, sexual perversion sweep our land,” Moore said.  “When we become one nation under God again, when liberty and justice for all reigns across our land, we will be truly good again.”

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Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia prays outside an abortion clinic during 40 Days for Life. 40 Days for Life
Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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40 Days for Life saves more than 500 unborn babies from abortion

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges
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BRYAN, Texas, November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A worldwide 40-day vigil outside abortion clinics has directly saved the lives of 546 children and potentially the souls of 546 mothers and fathers.

“The largest 40 Days for Life campaign so far has ended – and here’s a huge thank you for helping save so many lives!” Shawn Carney wrote on the organization’s website.

A global tally from 375 vigil locations showed 546 women who have changed their mind toward giving life.    

“In many cases, all it took was the simple act of showing up to pray on the sidewalk,” Carney said.

Wonderful stories keep coming in from across the globe. In Rochester, New York, a 14-year-old girl and her mother were entering Planned Parenthood when a vigil participant gave them pro-life literature to peruse.  

“A few minutes later,” Rick shared, “they came out and asked the volunteer where else they can go for help.” And they were off to a pro-life pregnancy center.

In Tallahassee, Florida, vigil counselors urged a pregnant woman to take a free ultrasound. “The new mom decided not to have the abortion after seeing the reality of the living child within her,” 40 Days for Lifer Toni excitedly related.

Another older woman came up to pro-lifers in Tallahassee simply to thank them for talking her daughter out of getting an abortion.

Volunteers spoke with a woman toting two children in Providence, Rhode Island. They assured the overwhelmed woman that there were many people willing to help.

The woman changed direction and went into a pro-life mobile unit, where she agreed to view a live ultrasound of her baby.

Her three-year-old exclaimed, “Is THAT our baby?!”

And the woman chose life.

Planned Parenthood told a San Antonio woman that she would have to pay for her pregnancy test. She hesitated and left, encountering 40 Days for Lifers outside.

“She teared up when she explained that she had two children at home and needed to go back to work,” a volunteer said.  

She, too, got a free, immediate ultrasound. After seeing her child, the woman confirmed she chose “life for her baby.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput led 30 volunteers in prayer at a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood in front of the intimidating presence of four clinic escorts.

An obviously burdened woman came up to volunteers in Greensboro, North Carolina.  “She told me she needed prayers,” Salvador said. “I asked if she was there for an abortion and she said ‘yes,’ so we started praying with her.”

After they prayed, the woman left without going into Planned Parenthood.

From Medellin, Colombia, to Vukovar, Croatia, to La Paz, Bolivia, to England to Canada, and from Manhattan to El Paso, women responded to 40 Days for Life prayers and counseling to choose life.

One new mother in Birmingham, England, told vigil participants, “No one else knows I’m pregnant and I didn’t know what to do.” She had been walking all day, just praying that God would direct her, “but there was no sign,” she said.

Keeping her abortion appointment, the young woman encountered volunteers outside.  “As I came to the entrance … I saw that lady holding a cross, and I knew that was my sign to keep my baby.”

A woman in Riyon, Nigeria, became pregnant as a result of rape, and she faces extreme poverty. Nevertheless, she chose life, and 40 Days for Life volunteers are helping her get proper medical care.

The amazing stories of God’s intervention through 40 Days for Life go on and on. In Flint, Michigan, an abortion worker quit. As she drove away, she explained that seeing the pro-lifers peacefully praying was the impetus for her leaving the industry.

The life-saving campaigns continue. Next spring, 40-day prayer vigils will begin again and pro-lifers will re-enter the trenches, praying throughout Lent.

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Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews
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Duelling statements show Cdl. Cupich’s glaring double standard on guns and abortion

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The responses of Cardinal Blase Cupich, one of U.S. prelates who has risen to prominence during the current pontificate, to two different tragedies show the fervor with which he defends liberal political causes and the dispassion with which he speaks on abortion.

Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, is in the running to become the pro-life chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The group will vote on the new head of their pro-life committee at their annual November meeting in Baltimore next week.

In his statement on the recent Sutherland Springs, Texas, shooting, Cupich seemed to join the crowd of celebrities and left-wing politicians in taking a swipe at those who offer “thoughts and prayers” after such a tragedy.

“Once again we must extend our condolences to families suffering the horrific loss of loved ones to an act of madness,” said Cupich. “It would dishonor those lost and those who mourn to simply participate in the routine exchange of sympathies underpinned by the sense of futility and hopelessness that has befallen our country.”

He continued:

We must recognize that the factors that produce these tragedies will not change unless we take direct action to change them.

Comprehensive national gun control policies will not prevent every shooting but it will prevent some.

Access to mental health care — in legislation founded on the principle that health care is a right not a privilege — will not prevent every shooting but it will prevent some and will mean we will have fewer podium speeches about our thoughts and prayers.

Let it be our firm resolve to act and to advocate and to end this hideous blot upon our nation.

Honor the memories of the many thousands of gun violence victims by holding accountable those who could have done something  and did not, who called for study instead of steps toward progress, and who gave those Pope Francis has called merchants of death more regard than the dead children, the dead men and women we mourn today.

The time to demand action is now.

No mention of Jesus, salvation, hope, or even “mercy.” Just pure political talking points about gun control.

Compare that with what Cupich said after the Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, promised to veto a bill mandating taxpayer-funded abortions (Rauner didn’t keep his promise, but this statement was released before that).

Cupich said:

Last Friday, Governor Rauner promised to veto House Bill 40. This legislation, which is pending in the General Assembly, would use public dollars, through Illinois’ Medicaid and employee health insurance programs, to fund elective abortions at any stage of pregnancy for any reason. I thank him for this principled stand. Abortion is a controversial issue in this country, but using public money to provide abortions should not be. The federal government prohibits the practice, and polls show a substantial segment of the American public reject it.

I pray that this divisive issue will be put behind us and our government officials will now concentrate on the many difficult challenges facing Illinois. Most importantly, our political leaders must find a way to cooperate and craft a budget that serves all our people. It is essential that we unite in this effort, and I stand ready to help in any way.

Got that? Abortion is a “controversial issue.” It needs to be “put behind us” so the government can focus on its budget.

The statement suggests taxpayer-funded abortion is wrong because “the federal government prohibits the practice” and most Americans don’t like it.

Your Eminence, abortion is immoral because it kills a whole, distinct, living human being and therefore violates the Church’s prohibition on murder. Even if abortion wasn’t “controversial,” and everyone in the country thought it was an acceptable solution to an inconvenient baby, it still wouldn’t be morally OK.

No matter how concerned you are about the “budget” and political leaders “cooperating” to craft that budget to your liking, what you consider bad economics may be a social ill, but abortion will always remain an intrinsic evil.

St. John the Baptist didn’t talk to Herod about his tax policies or whether he was giving enough government benefits to the shepherds.

No, Jesus’ cousin told him the truth, that Herod was committing adultery. And he lost his life for it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer didn’t fret about train ticket prices in Nazi Germany. He spoke truth to power about the genocide of Jews and eventually lost his life for it.

May the angels and saints inspire all U.S. bishops, especially the ones whose priorities are so confused, to fight the evils of our age with clarity, tenacity, and courage.

And may the angels and saints guide the U.S. bishops as they prepare to vote on whether to make Cupich their point-man on abortion.

Featured Image
Paul Badde
Maike Hickson

Opinion

The little-known but incredible story of the Holy Face of Manoppello 


Maike Hickson
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Picture of the Godesclalc Evangelistary (Charlemagne's Court School), 781. Courtesy of Paul Badde
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Picture of Pope Innocent III with the Holy Face in Procession of the year 1208. Courtesy of Paul Badde
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Picture of a fresco from the Cathedral of Saint Bartholomew in Frankfurt, from around 1300. Courtesy of Paul Badde

November 8, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – There are still many Catholics who do not know “the greatest miracle we have,” in the words of St. Padre Pio. He was referring to the Holy Face of Manoppello, the Volto Santo, which is wondrously to be found on a  mysterious veil of sea-silk on which one can not paint. It is mostly due to a few persons who have worked tirelessly in the last decades to uncover and clarify this miracle, which is to be found in a little village church in the Abruzzi mountains of Italy two hours away from Rome, in Manoppello. One of the great promoters of this miraculous picture is Paul Badde, a German journalist and learned book author who lives himself in Rome and now works for EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network).

Paul Badde just published this past September a new little 90-page booklet in German and in Italian in which he updates his earlier books about the Volto Santo. His earlier books were entitled The Face of God: The Rediscovery Of The True Face of Jesus and The True Icon (both published at Ignatius Press).

In his new 2017 booklet, which is entitled From Face to Face: The Face of God in Manoppello (Von Angesicht zu Angesicht. Das Antlitz Gottes in Manoppello, published in German by Christiana-Verlag, and at the same time in Italian as Il tesoro di Manoppello – Davanti al volto umano di Dio by Effatta editrice), Badde sums up the latest developments in the cautious process of the recognition of this precious relic, to include essential new findings about this Holy Face; and Badde does it in a very illuminating manner. Thankfully, it is being translated already into English, and as soon as it is available, we will inform our readers about it. Additionally, EWTN will now air two short documentary films about Badde's sustained work on the Holy Face; and I highly recommend our readers to watch them, if possible. The airing times are:

THE HUMAN FACE OF GOD IN THE HOLY VEIL OF MANOPPELLO
11/8 6:30pm ET
11/9 2:30am ET

THE LONG ROAD OF FR. DOMENICO FROM CESE TO TURIN
11/17  6:30pm ET
11/18  3:00am ET

In light of Paul Badde's different and tireless efforts to promote the truth about the Holy Veil of Manoppello, it is understandable that the city of Manoppello has already officially honored him: in 2010, Manoppello has given both Pope Benedict XVI and Paul Badde each one of the two existing honorary keys of the city!

Paul Badde often starts his story about this relic with the story of a saint. In this case, that saint's name is Padre Domenico da Cese, a stigmatist Capuchin monk who has been declared Servant of God in 2015 and whose ecclesiastical process of canonization is underway. When people from Manoppello used to visit St. Padre Pio, Padre Pio himself would ask them why they would come to him, since they have their own saint in Padre Domenico.

At the age of ten, in 1915, Padre Domenico had been buried, together with his father, under the ruins of a Church in Italy. An earthquake had shaken that region of Avezzano. Both son and father were later rescued by an unknown man who afterwards disappeared. It was only decades later – Padre Domenico had already become a priest and Capuchin monk – that he saw the Holy Face of Manoppello and recognized in that Holy Face that it was God Himself who had come to his help under the Church ruins.

After that recognition, Padre Domenico sought and received permission to spend the rest of his life there in Manoppello, spending hours at night and during the day in prayer before Our Lord. It was Padre Domenico who was to discover in 1968, and one day before his death, St. Padre Pio himself in front of that Holy Image, kneeling in prayer. When spoken to, Padre Pio said: “I do not trust myself any more. Pray for me. Goodbye until we meet again in Paradise.”  As it turnd out, he was then bilocating, and it was to be his last bilocation. But Padre Pio apparently knew where to go for special help.

Paul Badde, in his devoutly affectionate booklet, shows how it was this priest, Padre Domenico, who was the first to suggest that this silken cloth with the Holy Face imprinted on it was indeed the sudarium that was first found on Easter Morning by St. John the Evangelist in the tomb and upon which sight he had said: “And he saw and believed.” If it is true that it was this same image, imprinted on one of the burial cloths (this silken one was then put only on the face of the dead, as St. John himself mentions), was then seen by St. John, then we may well have the picture of how Our Lord actually looked, though somewhat disfigured still, from His Passion. The veil contains, as Badde puts it, “the first breath of the resurrected Lord.”

Let us now consider some of the cumulative facts that have come to us through Badde's work:

  • From early on, art history shows the Face of Our Lord depicted on a silken cloth, often held up by St. Michael the Archangel himself; on that cloth as depicted by art, Our Lord has His eyes open;
  • Already in the 11th century, there are songs to be found which explicitly mention not only the shroud (of Turin), but also the sudarium (Sudarium et Vestes);
  • Just like the Shroud of Turin, the image on the Volto Santo is a miraculous image, inasmuch as no paint traces are to be found on it, and inasmuch as the silken-like material stems from the “hair” (Haftfäden in German) of sea mussels upon which one cannot paint. Whereas the Shroud of Turin shows Christ in His death on linen, the Volto Santo shows us a glimpse of the Risen Christ on silk;
  • Moreover, as Sister Blandina Paschalis Schlömer – a Trappist nun who has lived since 2003 in Manoppello as a hermit, researcher, and promoter of the Volto Santo – is able to show, the size of the face of Our Lord on the Shroud of Turin is identical (and congruent) with the size of the Holy Face of Manoppello;
  • The Volto Santo is identical with the Holy Image that has been revered in Rome for centuries, but under the name Veronica. Only in 2011, the Director of the Vatican Museum admitted publicly that the antique relic of the Volto Santo “had been lost during the Sacco di Roma in 1527”; this admission was later removed from the Vatican's website, since the Vatican still shows, once a year, and from high aloft in St. Peter's Basilica, an image of Jesus described as Veronica, but which now turns out to be a sort of a copy of the original;
  • Old Christian texts from the 2nd and 3rd centuries seem to speak about this Volto Santo, as Klaus Berger, a theologian, has recently discovered. In one of these texts, there is talk about a heavenly cloth in which the son of a king recognizes himself as in a mirror; this same image has also been referred to and used by Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy when speaking in the 33rd Canto about the image of God “painted in its own color with our own likeness”;
  • That same theologian – Klaus Berger – also discovered an old Missal from the year 620 in which St. Mary Magdalene covers her tears with the Sudarium which “had been left behind by Jesus in the tomb so that it may give witness to His Resurrection.” Professor Berger also found instructions for conducting the Latin Liturgy, according to Amalarius of Metz (775 -850), in which he describes that the altar cloths for Roman Masses are corresponding to the Passion and Resurection of Jesus Christ, using the same names: sindon (linen cloth) and sudarium (veil; face cloth). Since that time, the altar cloths had to be linen (until 1969), and the corporal had to be folded in a special way, according to the description presented by St. John in his Gospel;
  • Paul Badde points out that, because of this analogy to the tomb and Resurrection of Christ, until 1969 the altar always had to be made similar to the stone bench upon which Jesus Christ was laid; mere tables were thus rejected;
  • Emperor Charlemagne had a painting made by an artist who, after visiting Rome (and probably the Volto Santo) depicted Christ in a manner similar to the Volto Santo: with His open eyes (the white shining under the pupil), open mouth and a curl on top of His forehead;
  • In 1208, Pope Innocent III, for the first time, presented the Holy Face to the public, on Omnis Terra Sunday when he himself carried it from St. Peter's Basilica over to the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia. An historical depiction of that procession clearly shows once more that it was the Volto Santo that was depicted here;
  • On 16 January 2016, again on Omnis Terra Sunday, Archbishop Georg Gänswein (the personal secretary of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI), for the first time in centuries, celebrated a Solemn Mass in Santo Spirito in Sassia after a procession in which there had been carried again the Volto Santo (in the form of a copy) from  St. Peter's Basilica to that old church. In his own homily, Archbishop Gänswein publicly spoke about the Volto Santo which “Pope Innocent III had first shown to pilgrims what has been preserved in a hidden way, for more than 400 hundred years, in the Abbruzzi mountains near the Adriatic Sea,” [emphasis added] and which now is on the way to return to Rome, to “that place where the public cult of its public veneration had first originated”;
  • During the period of 13th until the 16th centuries (when the Holy Veil disappeared in Rome) – that is to say, the time after the first public display of the Volto Santo in Rome – many depictions of the Volto Santo are to be found in Church art, showing the Face of Our Lord on a silken cloth, depicting Himself with open eyes, with white under His pupils, and a curl on His forehead;
  • It was Pope Benedict XVI who, on 1 September 2006 – for the first time since the loss of the Volto Santo in the 16th century – visited, as pope, the holy relic in Manoppello. He himself thus silently started the process of giving back this holy image to the whole Christian world, first doing it on his knees and with his manifest prayers;
  • In 2017, when a new – third – feast was established for the procession with the Volto Santo in Manoppello, it was fixed on Omnis Terra Sunday of each year, every second Sunday after Epiphany. The main celebrant of this year's liturgical celebration was a former judge of the Roman Rota, Monsignor Americo Ciani – who was a canon of St. Peter's Basilica and who, as such, had often shown to the faithful the copy of the Volto Santo on high and above from the Loggia in St. Peter's. In his own homily, it was Monsignor Ciani who publicly said that this relic is the Holy Veil which had been carried through Rome by Pope Innocent III in the year 1208, and which later had got lost in the year 1527 (during the Sack of Rome). Additionally, this clergyman also declared that this Volto Santo is the very same sudarium that had been found by St. John himself in the empty tomb on Easter Sunday – who then himself wrote: “He saw and believed.”
  • Both Cardinal Robert Sarah and Cardinal Joachim Meisner, two great prelates of the Catholic Church, visited the Holy Face of Manoppello and were deeply touched by it. Cardinal Sarah said in Manoppello: “Here in Manoppello we face the face of God face to face.”

May we all come to be inspired by this Holy Image. May we look into His gaze and be touched by His loving look and thus be even transformed by that look of Divine Love. And may this enlightened sense of love for Jesus Christ inspire us to persevere  in our fidelity to the Faith during these protracted times of trial.

Note of the author: We invite readers to download a picture (HERE) of the Volto Santo, then to frame it and put it reverently some place in his home. We especially recommend that one kneel in front of it and read the Gospels in front of it, intermittently looking into the Face of Him Who is speaking to us in the New Testament. 

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