All articles from November 28, 2017


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‘Mutiny against God’: Surrogacy in Russia thrives thanks to lack of regulation

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

MOSCOW, Russia, November 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- Third-party child production thrives in a country that prides itself on international moral leadership.

In the years since the fall of communism, Russia has emerged as a country unafraid of religious affiliation and unthreatened by the moral influence of Orthodox Christianity.  Along with passing laws defending marriage, the family, and the sanctity of life, Russia has fearlessly held strong against global criticism and ridicule for its stand against homosexual propaganda to children and against pornography -- even censoring websites devoted to hardcore smut.

But one moral area the country has yet to confront is surrogate motherhood. The financial incentive alone brings poor women in droves, economically coerced into a willingness to rent their bodies to strangers.

NewsDeeply reported that 2,000 children were born under contract in 2016 alone. That figure is backed up by the pro-surrogate group European Center for Surrogacy. Meanwhile, the state news agency RIA Novosti reported one quarter of that figure -- 500 children -- are born to surrogate “mothers” annually.

Russia is undeniably one of the world’s most favorable nations for the surrogacy industry. Not only is motherhood-by-substitute legal, but the business goes largely unregulated.

Russia has become “a sort of reproductive paradise,” Konstantin Svitnev, head of the Center for Reproductive Law and Ethics, lamented. “Being the country with the most favorable legislation … where no specific federal law regulates any aspect of assisted reproduction.”

All that is legally required for Russian women 20-35 years of age to offer their womb-for-rent is to have already had a child and pass a medical exam. Russian law helps all parties remain anonymous so there is no social stigma for the mother or the “parents.”

The average payout for surrogate mothers is $14,000, which is, for example, a year and a half of wages for an average teacher.

Besides the financial temptation, broken marriages contribute to the problem. “Often women come to us because they need money to feed their kids, especially if her husband has left the family,” a Saint Petersburg surrogacy agency manager said. “Most of them also have to pay credits or mortgage loans to the bank.”

And business is booming. One hundred surrogacy businesses dot the countryside.  Moscow alone hosts 40 such centers.

All of this commercial success, despite the Russian Orthodox Church’s disapproval in the strongest terms.  The Church boasts greater influence than the government over the populace, but its insistence that surrogacy is sinful has not stopped the lucrative practice among a very poor populace.

The Church has repeatedly called on the State Duma (the Russian Parliament) to ban surrogacy outright. In its social blueprint for a positive moral society, the Church officially categorizes surrogacy as “unnatural and immoral.”

“This is mutiny against God,” the Patriarchy Commission for Family, Motherhood and Childhood’s Dmitry Smirnov charged. “This is very happy fascism with a contract, the money and confiscation of a child.”

“This is an immoral thing to do in a country that has tens of thousands of orphans waiting to be adopted,” MP Vitaly Milonov stated MP Vitaly Milonov, who championed Russia’s ban against homosexual propaganda to minors. “Making oneself a neat and clean baby is something akin to buying a new model Ferrari.”

Senator Anton Belyakov (Vladimir region) is re-proposing a complete ban. He says commercial surrogacy is like prostitution. “It is immoral and brings harm to both mother and the child,” Belyakov told NewsDeeply.

The stir of controversy reached a head when a famous national pop star, 64 year-old Alla Pugacheva, contracted a surrogate to gestate a baby for her and her 37-year-old husband, Maxim Galkin. The couple already had two surrogate children.

Smirnov, speaking as a senior representative of the Orthodox Church, condemned the famous couple’s “unnatural” arrangements. “I would ban this,” he said, not only for the sake of the couple and surrogate woman and baby involved, but for the sake of their example to the nation. “A bad example is contagious.”

MP Milonov also criticized the famous threesome parenting. “I would not congratulate this family with the fact that they had enough money to buy themselves a child, with the fact that they could use some woman as an incubator,” the MP said.

Commercial surrogacy (surrogate motherhood for pay) is legal in Russia, Ukraine, South Africa, and several U.S. states. Non-commercial, or “altruistic surrogacy” -— when a family member bears a child for a childless couple without pay -- is legal in the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, India, Israel and several other nations.

In India, relatively low payments to extremely poor women created a $2.3 billion industry and made the nation the world’s surrogacy mecca. However, increasing restrictions, from limiting legal surrogacy to only Indian couples to the March 2017 ban on all commercial surrogacy, have cut down on business.

Surrogate motherhood is legally banned in Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Norway, and Sweden and in several U.S. states such as Arizona, Michigan, and New York.

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Frank Barrett pickets outside Morgentaler abortion center on Bank Street in Ottawa. Frank Barrett
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Police reports refute ‘intimidation’ claims against pro-lifers at Ottawa abortion centers

Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

OTTAWA, November 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Police reports recently obtained through a freedom of information request show the Ontario Liberal government’s claim that pro-lifers had to be outlawed outside abortion facilities because they were increasingly “intimidating” women is completely baseless.

Pro-life blogger Patricia Maloney discovered police attendance at the Ottawa Morgentaler abortion center dropped 33.6 percent in the period between 2014 to 2017 from the period between 2010 and 2013.

Ottawa police reported 113 incidents in the 48 months between 2010 and 2013, or an average of 2.35 per month, Maloney wrote in her blog Run With Life.

But that fell to 64 reported incidents in 41 months, or 1.56 per month between 2014 and 2017.

Moreover, there were no reported injuries and no charges laid from 2010 to 2017, she wrote.

The Liberals claimed that criminalizing pro-life speech and expression outside the province’s eight abortion facilities was necessary because of escalating incidents of pro-life “intimidation.”

Indeed, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi mentioned during his October 4 press conference announcing Bill 163 that “as we saw in my hometown in Ottawa, a woman was spat on, which is assault.”

He referred to this again during questions from reporters, appearing to become emotional.

“As soon as I learned, in my own community that a woman was spat on for just simply going to get healthcare service,” Naqvi said, then stopped, apparently needing to regain his composure.

“Action was needed. And we worked as hard as we could to get this legislation here … ”

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson reiterated similar allegations from Morgentaler abortion center staff and Planned Parenthood when he wrote Naqvi in May asking the Liberals to crack down on pro-lifers.

Planned Parenthood Ottawa told Naqvi the same when he dropped in for a visit.

“What I heard from the staff affirmed even further to me that these changes are absolutely needed,” the attorney general said during October 16 second-reading “debate” on the bill.

The PC Party and NDP evidently bought the narrative, agreeing to fast-track the legislation, which passed October 26.

But Maloney’s data tell a different story.

‘Spitting business made up’: pro-lifer

So do Frank Barrett and Cy Winter, longtime pro-life witnesses at the Ottawa abortion facility.

“The spitting business was all made up. There was no evidence, no proof, no arrests,” Barrett told LifeSiteNews.

This despite the abortion facility spending $100,000 yearly for private security, according to the Ottawa Citizen.

But Barrett and Winter agree that incidents of intimidation outside Ottawa’s abortion center have escalated in the last year — against pro-lifers.

Barrett, 88, who has picketed weekly across the street from the abortion facility for eight years, credits the “rise in negativity against pro-life” to two events.

One was that he arranged to have a pro-life flag raised at Ottawa City Hall during last year’s March for Life in May.

The dawn flag-raising provoked immediate outrage on Twitter, a demand by seven city councillors to have it removed, and a swift avowal by Mayor Watson he had nothing to do with it.

“I did nothing wrong,” said Barrett, a security and intelligence officer in the RCMP for 33 years. “It was just that there were some people that are so pro-abortion” they became incensed.

Watson has refused to meet with pro-life advocates since, Barrett says.

The other event was an “overzealous young lad” entering the abortion center to “splash holy water around.”

The man was arrested and charged with mischief, the Ottawa Citizen reported in April.

“So they blew that one right up, and that started the ball rolling,” Barrett told LifeSiteNews. “Between that and the flag business, they said these people are radicals.”

Pro-lifer spat on, pushed into traffic

Winter, 69, contends that he has suffered aggression because of  Heather Mallick’s April 19 column in the Toronto Star.

Mallick described the pro-life witnesses outside Morgentaler’s as “omnipresent and creepy, some unwell, and some threatening.”

She also sympathetically reported abortion facility director of operations Shayna Hudson’s allegations that pro-life protestors “endangered” women, and that “anti-abortion antagonism” is rising in Canada since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.

Since Mallick’s article was published, “it just rains spit,” Winter told LifeSiteNews. “People started coming and spitting like crazy, in my face, in my ear once, it’s awful.”

Moreover, two men “tried to push me into traffic,” Winter said, and a woman tried to steal his signs.

A retired teacher, Winter pickets five hours every weekday at the Morgentaler abortion facility.

When he started 6 1/2 years ago, he stood on the other side of the street, but 4 1/2 years ago he crossed over to take up a position in front of the building.

With Bill 163 passed October 25, Ontario became the fourth province after Quebec, Newfoundland and British Columbia to implement abortion bubble zone legislation, but it’s by far the most restrictive.

As well as automatically banning all pro-life speech and expression within 50 meters of eight abortion centers, a distance that can be increased to 150 meters on request, Bill 163 allows pharmacies, hospitals and healthcare institutions that provide medical or surgical abortions to apply to apply for “safe access” zones of up to 150 meters.

It also automatically bans pro-life witness within 150 meters of the homes of abortion doctors and abortion facility staff, a zone that moves with the individuals.

Penalty for breaching the law is a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail for a first offence, and a fine of up to $10,000 and up to one year in jail for second and subsequent offences.

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Cdl. Dolan, alumni ‘baffled’ over Notre Dame decision to offer birth control coverage

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, November 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- The University of Notre Dame’s recent about-face to provide birth control via its health coverage is baffling, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said.

“We rejoiced when Notre Dame united with us in our expression of deep concern that the federal government was intruding on the realm of conscience,” the USCCB pro-life chief said in a recent Wall Street Journal article. “Thank God Notre Dame was with us.”

But the archbishop of New York and chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities went on to say that “we cannot understand’’ why the university, having taken up the legal case, is now saying, “‘It wasn’t all that important to us, anyway. We’re going to allow it, anyway.’ That does baffle us.”

Notre Dame reversed its decision to discontinue providing birth control coverage earlier this month even though the Trump administration had rolled back the Obamacare Mandate for employers objecting on religious or moral ground to being compelled to provide birth control.

Birth control is against the Catholic Church’s teaching because it separates the unitive and procreative components of the marital act.

Further, chemical contraception has countless associated health risks, and despite the myriad medical dangers it has become prevalent in the culture, accepted as actual health care by many, including a significant percentage of Catholics.

Abortifacient birth control falls under the Obamacare Contraception Mandate as well, making the Mandate especially nefarious for observant Catholics and other pro-life Christians.

The chairman of Notre Dame alumni group Sycamore Trust concurred that the university’s decision to continue providing contraceptive coverage defied both reason and Church principles.

“‘Baffle’ is the right word for Notre Dame doing precisely what it told the courts it could not do in good conscience and without giving scandal, particularly to its students,” William Dempsey told LifeSiteNews. “Notre Dame pursued a pretend lawsuit and misled both church leaders and courts.”

Sycamore Trust had said in a bulletin that by going along with birth control provision in its health plans in this manner the university’s administration set the precedent for surgical abortion, sterilization, and anything else that has a significant support in the university community to be covered.

“It is a dark time for Notre Dame,” the group said.

The WSJ report of Cardinal Dolan’s comments from earlier this month comes amid another apparent reversal by Notre Dame in areas pertinent to Catholic principles.

The university seemingly withdrew a decision last week to begin allowing abortion expenses to qualify for reimbursement under flexible spending accounts (FSAs) in its healthcare coverage.

The Notre Dame website had previously said IRS guidelines would determine what qualifies for reimbursement in university coverage as of January 1, 2018, and those guidelines include abortion, sterilization and prescription contraceptives.

Both LifeSiteNews and Sycamore Trust inquired with university officials about whether Notre Dame intended to allow abortion expenses to be reimbursed in its FSAs.

A university spokesman told LifeSiteNews, “Abortion is not and will not be an allowable expense in the medical flexible spending accounts available to Notre Dame employees.” The wording on the university website was later amended to include the phrase “except for abortion services, which will be excluded” in regard to qualified medical expenses.

The university did not respond to a follow-up inquiry from LifeSite as to whether it would allow reimbursement for other procedures, devices and drugs in conflict with Catholic teaching as dictated by the IRS guidelines.

Those additional items in the inquiry included oral contraceptives, contraceptive devices, contraceptive implants, voluntary sterilization, and gender reassignment procedures.

Sycamore Trust was critical when the university initially opted to let abortion charges be reimbursed in its health plans.

“While of course the partial reversal is welcome,” the group said in a statement, “this remains another episode bewildering in its ham-handed management and, in combination with the university’s sanctioning the free provision of abortifacients and contraceptives to students and employees, deeply depressing for the indifference it shows to the sacredness of human life and the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

 
 
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Rosary crusade draws 30,000 to the coasts of Ireland to pray for God’s blessings

Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

IRELAND, November 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- Approximately 30,000 Roman Catholics gathered along the coasts of Ireland to pray the rosary for life and faith on Sunday.

The Rosary on the Coasts for Life and Faith was a spiritual endeavor asking God to intervene in movements to decriminalize abortion in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and to renew the island’s commitment to Christian faith.

The Republic of Ireland has experienced a swift and unprecedented transformation in the past 40 years from a devoutly Christian and pro-life society to a secular nation that disdains its Catholic past. Northern Ireland is under increasing pressure from the rest of the United Kingdom to liberalize its abortion laws. Recently, both the UK government in Westminster and the devolved Scottish government have encouraged women in Northern Ireland to have abortions on the British mainland, free of charge and with travel expenses paid.

Kathy Sinnott, the spokeswoman for the Rosary on the Coasts, says organizers originally envisioned 53 stations around the coasts of Ireland, one per “Hail Mary” of five decades of the Rosary. However, on the day of the Rosary on the Coasts, Sunday, November 26, there were more than 300 stations, with an estimated 30,000 Catholics attending.  

“Despite yellow weather alerts of freezing snow, sleet and high winds, tens of thousands of people gathered on the coasts of Ireland to pray for the protection of life and the preservation and flourishing of the faith on the island of Ireland,” Sinnott wrote.

In addition to the crowds along the coasts, people all over Ireland prayed the rosary at home and in their churches in communion with them. Also, organizers say people from all over the world -- individuals, parishes or prayer groups -- joined the Irish in their prayers. Many got up “early in the morning and even during the night to pray at the same time,” Sinnott continued. “Poland, (England) ... Scotland, Wales, Italy, France, Japan, Hong Kong, Nigeria, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Peru and many more countries were represented in what grew to be a worldwide petition to Jesus Christ the King for the protection of Life and the preservation of the Faith in Ireland and the World.”  

Sinnott attributes the improvement in the weather before the Rosary, including the drying of many wet areas and even a hint of sun, to the intercession of Mary, the mother of Jesus. With November 26 falling on the last Sunday before Advent, the Feast of Christ the King was celebrated according to the General Roman Calendar of 1969. November 26 is also the Feast of the Miraculous Medal. Those who went to the coasts to pray buried copies of the Miraculous Medal in the ground, encircling the Emerald Isle not only with their prayers but with aluminum tokens of their faith.

The Irish Rosary on the Coasts for Life and Faith was inspired by the Polish Rosary to the Borders on October 7 and a subsequent border rosary event in Italy. The event is estimated to have been the largest gathering of Irish Catholics at a religious event since the visit of St. Pope John Paul II in 1979.  

 
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Newest Barbie doll promotes LGBT agenda

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November 27, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- The Barbie children’s doll is being used to further LGBT issues.

“Proud to wear this “Love Wins” shirt,” states a Barbie-associated Instagram account, along with a photo of two dolls wearing the LGBT-themed t-shirt.

The “Love Wins” slogan is associated with support for legalization of gay marriage.

An iconic blond Barbie doll representing the @BarbieStyle Instagram account is pictured in the post along with a brunette Asian doll representing fashion blogger Aimee Song.

Song confirmed via her Instagram account that the brunette doll was created for her and  sales of the t-shirt benefit an LGBT suicide prevention group. She thanked Mattel and Barbie, saying it was important to have the doll represent who she is and what she believes.

LifeSiteNews did not hear back from Mattel on an inquiry to confirm the dolls were licensed Mattel products and specifics of what the company sought to convey with them.

The @BarbieStyle Instagram account is run by Barbie staff designers, according to the fashion blog Racked. The account is focused on fashion and is separate from the Barbie account aimed at children and parents.

“@BarbieStyle is a curated, very specific story about Barbie’s role in pop culture today," one of the staffers told Racked.

The two dolls are shown in a number of other fashion-related posts.

Pink News, a UK online LGBT newspaper, praised the Barbie doll in a post with the headline, “We’re massive fans of LGBT-rights Barbie and you should be too.”

“Barbie has come out in support of equal marriage and we love it,” the post said.

After first becoming famous for more than 50 years ago as a teen fashion model doll, albeit being criticized for unrealistic depiction of the female physique, the Barbie doll has evolved into many various versions through the years.

Mattel revealed 15 new Ken dolls for the Barbie and Ken franchise this summer, including several Man-Bun Ken versions. The less masculine Ken doll met with some ridicule on Twitter.

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Church of Sweden directs clergy to stop referring to God as ‘He’

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, November 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- Evangelical Lutheran leaders in Sweden say the faithful should not refer to God as “He.”

The largest denomination in Sweden, often called “The Church of Sweden,” wants its ministers to replace “He” with the generic “God.” They also don’t want preachers using “Lord” because it implies the masculine.

The “update” to the denomination’s Book of Worship is to begin at Pentecost 2018. The 31-year-old handbook will then be outdated.

Last week, 251 leaders met at an eight-day convention. In a break from traditional Christianity, one of the “updates” instructs pastors to no longer open services with “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” but to use the “gender-neutral” phrase “In the name of God and the Holy Trinity.”

Spokeswoman Sofija Pedersen Videke explained that the updated book will offer various alternatives to using the pronoun “He.”

“We have some prayer options that are more gender-neutral than others,” she told The Telegraph.

Videke added that she has heard no clergy object to the changes.

Archbishop Antje Jackelen praised the decision, noting that God is genderless. In a carefully worded explanation, Jackelen said, “God is beyond our gender determinations.” She has led the denomination since being elected in 2013.

Others, like Lund University theology professor Christer Pahlmblad, said the “update” runs contrary to orthodox Christianity. Pahlmblad criticized the change as “undermining the doctrine of the Trinity and the community with the other Christian churches.”

While it is true that God is genderless, it is not true, according to Christianity, that God is not The Father. The terms “Father” and “Son” indicate a relationship, not a gender limitation.

“Jesus did not call God ‘Imma’ (Mother), but always and exclusively ‘Abba’ (Father),” the Very Reverend Paul Nadim Tarazi said about similar scriptural revisions. “The statement ‘God is Father’ is not a metaphor, but a reality since what it actually means is that God is the Father of Jesus.”

“Everything in creation reveals Who God is and what His love is like. That is why God is described in a myriad of ways: He is like a rock, He is like a mother eagle, He is a consuming fire, He is the Lion of Judah, etc.” an Orthodox Christian catechism explains. “However, the Church teaches us that when we worship God, we do so personally. We do not use analogies for Him. We use His Name.”

Christianity teaches that God is more maternal than any mother and has more perfect motherly qualities than anyone, but God is essentially Father. God is beyond any creaturely description, but He is not beyond Fatherhood.  

The ancient Christians and saints understood and taught that while the divine name “Father” has nothing to do with gender, there was never a time in all eternity when God was not “Father.”  

  • St. Gregory the Theologian explained the name “Father” is a theological term proper to God, not a figurative concession to humanity.  

  • St. Athanasius the Great, writing in the 300s, emphatically stated that only the specific names “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” belong “to God’s own essence and being.”  

  • St. Gregory of Nyssa taught that deviation from the traditional terms of “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” causes deviations in Faith. Any other terms, St. Gregory wrote, “serve as a starting point for the deflection of sound doctrine.”

Therefore, Christianity has always taught that any change in the names of “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” leads to a distortion of the Holy Trinity. Those who substitute “Mother” or “Goddess” for God, for instance, are not simply altering an image but replacing Christianity with a different religion.  

Author Deborah Belonick concludes that the “inclusive language” revision many Protestants propose today is not a Christian evolution but a theological revolution.  

Dr. Tarazi, who taught for more than 40 years at St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Massachusetts, and St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology in Lebanon, concluded, “With the new ‘non-sexist’ lectionary, we are faced with a tampering of the Holy Bible itself.”

“These Protestants do not even heed their own criterion. What happened to the basic article of the Reformation faith: Scripture is its own interpreter?” Tarazi said. “What happened to the centuries-long stand of Protestantism that the biblical text must not be adulterated? ... What happened to the centuries-long efforts in textual criticism in order to secure the original biblical text?  What happened to the efforts of myriads of copyists to carefully preserve for us the Bible?”

The Swedish Evangelical Lutherans also direct leaders to change scriptural readings to “inclusive” language when referring to people.

The Evangelical Lutherans claim more than six million baptized members. Sweden has a population of 10 million.

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Trump’s Christmas card says ‘Merry Christmas,’ Obama’s never did

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WASHINGTON, D.C., November 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Trump family’s first presidential Christmas card says “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays,” the Obamas’ preferred greeting.

It seems Trump is making good on his campaign and post-campaign promises to fight political correctness.

“We’re gonna say Merry Christmas again!” he promised last December.

The 2017 White House Christmas card wishes people “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” It’s signed by President Trump, Melania, and their son Barron.

“The President, Barron, and I are very excited for our first Christmas in the White House,” said First Lady Melania Trump. “As with many families across the country, holiday traditions are very important to us. I hope when visiting the People’s House this year, visitors will get a sense of being home for the holidays.”

“On behalf of my husband and Barron, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and joyous holiday season,” the First Lady said.

On Monday, the White House unveiled its Christmas decorations. The theme of this year’s decorations is “Time-Honored Traditions.”

Melania designed the theme to pay respect to “200 years of holiday traditions at the White House,” according to her office.

A promotional video from the White House showcasing this year’s decorations zoomed in on a traditional nativity set featuring a baby Jesus wearing a crown.

The Obamas never used the word “Christmas” on any of their eight Christmas cards. 

In 2009, the Obamas’ Christmas card said “Season’s Greetings.” During other years, the cards frequently used the word “holiday.”

This year, visitors to the White House will find “a tribute to our service members and their families with the Gold Star Family Tree, which has been decorated with gold stars and patriotic ribbon,” the First Lady’s office explained of this year’s decorations.

Next, the China Room “is set up for a family Christmas dinner, with the table displaying the china from President Ronald Reagan. Then, visitors will see the Library, which features President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1866 edition of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ as they recall the time-honored custom of reading Christmas stories to loved ones.”

There are rooms and halls filled with cookies, Christmas trees, crafts, and classic decorations.

The White House gingerbread house this year is a mini replica of the actual building. The 350-pound luxury treat shows the south facade of the White House and “features Mrs. Trump’s signature Christmas wreaths.”

Children visiting the White House this year repeatedly told Melania, wearing a white dress, that she looked like an angel.

 
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UK gov’t official proposes ban on prayer vigils outside abortion centers

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

LONDON, England, November 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Kingdom may be the first "free" nation in Europe to ban prayer outside abortion businesses.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has proposed criminalizing organized prayer gatherings at abortion centers throughout England because she claims that women need "protection" from pro-life vigil participants.

“The decision to have an abortion is already an incredibly personal one, without women being further pressured by aggressive protesters,” the Home Office said.

Abortion supporters are fighting on two fronts against pro-lifers. Rudd's proposed legislation is joined by Labour Member of Parliament Rupa Huq, who is proposing related legislation for "buffer zones" on public property outside abortion facilities where Christians may not stand or offer literature.

Huq says pro-lifers in her area of Ealing are "weaponizing rosary beads" outside the local Marie Stopes abortuary. Her petition letter for "buffer zones" claims that pro-lifers harass women by calling them "murderers." But Huq, like Rudd, has offered no evidence or proof.

The Good Counsel Network organizes prayer at the Ealing Marie Stopes abortion business in west London. Director Clare McCullough emphatically denies the accusations against her companions. McCullough wrote a response to the Home Secretary to “state categorically that no one attending our vigils calls women seeking abortion ‘murderers.’”

Furthermore, McCullough said her pro-lifers do not "harass" women in any way. She pointed out in her response letter that England has laws against harassment, and if any in her organization actually did harass someone, they would have already faced just prosecution.

“Harassment is a crime. If we were harassing anyone, we would be arrested," the pro-life leader stated. "In fact, what we’re trying to do is help women to have an alternative, if they’re willing to accept it.”

Nevertheless, 113 MPs signed Huq's petition, which also complains that the pro-lifers show "graphic" pictures of what goes on inside the abortion "clinics."

“I’m amazed at the lengths people will go to stop pregnant women from looking at the alternatives,” McCullough added. “We try to make sure women are not being pressured into abortion. We’ve had hundreds of women accept help outside Marie Stopes."

Earlier this month, Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh read to Parliament the powerful story of one such woman who changed her mind and gave life, thanks to the care and love of pro-lifers outside an abortion business. She said her "amazing, perfect little girl," now three, would have been aborted if the legislation Rudd and Huq propose were in effect when she went to kill her preborn child.

Huq's Ealing city council voted last month to use a law called a Public Space Protection Order to stop organized pro-life prayer. Council members passed the measure to specifically block the Good Counsel Network's vigils.

McCullough says the Ealing council is misusing the law. “Most lawyers would agree those orders were not put in place for this kind of issue. They’re not there to suppress freedom of speech," she said. She accused the council of "a grave misuse" of the law and predicted such misuse "would have implications for all kinds of groups who are protesting all kinds of things.”

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Fatima seer prophesied ‘diabolical revolt’ against the Church in newly unearthed letter

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November 27, 2017 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Fatima scholar has revealed the existence of a letter written by Fatima seer Sr. Lucia de Jesus dos Santos to Pope Paul VI, in which she warns him of a “diabolical revolt” that is causing a “worldwide disorientation” that is "martyring the Church."

The letter attributes this “revolt” to “the powers of darkness” and their “errors” against the Catholic faith, comparing the sufferings of the Catholic Church to that of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemene, and speaking of the Church’s “martyrdom.”

The existence of the letter is revealed by Fatima scholar Kevin J. Symonds in an interview published today by Catholic World Report. Symonds says he discovered the letter in the museum operated by the sisters of the Carmelite convent of Coimbra, Portugal, where Sr. Lúcia spent the last years of her life, and that he received permission from the sisters to publicly reveal its contents.

“In her letter, Sr. Lúcia spoke about a ‘diabolical revolt’ that was being ‘promoted by the powers of darkness’ with ‘errors’ being made against God, His Church, her doctrines and dogmas,” Symonds told Catholic World Report. “She said the Church was going through an ‘agony in Gethsemane’ and that there was a ‘worldwide disorientation that is martyring the Church.’ She wrote to encourage Paul VI as the Vicar of Christ on earth and to tell him of her and others’ steadfastness to him, to Christ and His Church in the midst of the revolt.”

Symonds notes that the letter seems to be making references to elements that are found in both the second and third parts of the “secret of Fatima” that was revealed to Lucia in 1917.

“Perhaps I am biased, having studied the third part of the secret, but I was struck by how similar Sr. Lúcia’s discourse appeared to the second and third parts,” Symonds says, noting that Lucia’s references to “the Church’s ‘agony in Gethsemane’ and its martyrdom by a ‘worldwide disorientation’ seemed similar to the third part of the secret which portrays a global martyrdom of the Church while making its way to a cross.”

“What causes this martyrdom?” asked Symonds. “In the second part of the secret, Our Lady warned about the spread of Russia’s ‘errors.’ Those errors caused exactly what Our Lady predicted: wars, persecutions of the Church and suffering for the Holy Father that were brought on by Communism and its enforcing atheism through revolution.”

“In June, 1958, Sr. Lúcia wrote to Pope Pius XII and told him that Communism would reach its zenith in the 1960s,” added Symonds. “The errors of Communism did infect the world, leading people to revolt against God and all that is holy. Therefore, those who are faithful to Jesus Christ in the midst of the revolt undergo a martyrdom.”

However, Symonds acknowledges that this connection is somewhat speculative on his part, and states that “It would be irresponsible for me or anyone else to state with certitude to the public that Sr. Lúcia made use of the third part in this letter.” He notes that it is sometimes difficult to know when Sr. Lucia is writing her own thoughts or is referring to statements that she received in visions.

Symonds says that he was only able to see the first page of the letter, which was undated. He is unaware of the contents of the second page.

The text of the second part of the “secret of Fatima” entrusted to Lucia in 1917 and written down by her in 1944, calls for the consecration of Russia and the reception of a “communion of reparation” on the first Saturdays of five successive months, warning that if her requests are not heeded, “Russia will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.”  

In a 1982 letter to Pope John Paul II, Sr. Lucia stated that the third part of the secret, which depicts a massacre of Catholic clergy and laity ascending a hill, was explained by the second part, stating that “the third part of the secret refers to Our Lady's words: ‘If not [Russia] will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated' (13-VII-1917).”

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Michael Hichborn

Opinion

US Catholic priests conspiring to create ‘priestless parishes’ run by ‘deaconnesses’

Michael Hichborn
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November 28, 2017 (Lepanto Institute) – The abusive deconstruction of the Mass began in the late 1960’s, introducing liturgical dancers and girl altar-boys to the Catholic Church.  Organizations like Call to Action, FutureChurch, Pax Christi, and a host of others have done their utmost to tear down the Traditions of the Church, replacing them with neo-pagan practices.  Now, an organization operating under the name “Association of U.S. Catholic Priests” (AUSCP) is actively working to complete the paganization of the Catholic Church by establishing Catholic parishes run by “ordained” deaconesses.

Recent articles by the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) and ChurchMilitant.com caused us to take notice of the AUSCP. After performing a quick review of a broad spectrum of reporting (both friendly and hostile) on the AUSCP, we commissioned an Organization Profile and related research on the organization itself and its activities.  Over the next several weeks, we will be reporting on various aspects of the findings in the commissioned report, but for this first article, we will focus primarily on the AUSCP’s blueprint for creating Catholic parishes run by deaconesses.

In an August 2016 press release, the AUSCP published a statement signed by its leadership team which claims that “ordaining woman permanent deacons will enhance pastoral ministry to God’s people.”  This position by the AUSCP is not a new one, however, as the press release points out:

“In its national assembly held in Seattle, WA, in June of 2013, the Association of United States Catholic Priests (AUSCP) passed a resolution to promote the ongoing discussion of the ordination of women as permanent deacons in our Catholic Church.“

The resolution mentioned in the press release did more than simply “promote ongoing discussion” on the ordination of women as deacons, however.  Taking matters a step further, the resolution specifically called for the ordination of women as deacons and a rewriting of Canon law to lift restrictions against the ordination of women.  The passed resolution says:

Proposal 7

“Be it resolved The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) supports the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate and recommends:

  • That the ongoing discussion of the ordination of women to the diaconate continue;
  • That the US Catholic Bishops publicly support the restoration of the ancient practice of ordaining deaconesses; (cf. Constitution of the Holy Apostles, 8. 19-20)
  • That the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) request amendment of canon 1024 which restricts valid sacred ordination to baptized males alone.”

This support for female deacons, however, is not intended to be an end in itself, but a stepping stone to something far more insidious.  At the end of the day, as with nearly all dissident, heretical sects like this one, the end goal is the priestly ordination of women by stages.  The AUSCP’s Proposal 7 was immediately followed by a resolution for the ordination of women as priestesses:

Proposal 8

“Be it resolved that the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP), call for the study of, and an open discussion for the ordination of women and married men to the priesthood.” Rationale:

  • This is a first necessary step (…study and discussion…)
  • The People of God need shepherds
  • The people of God need sacraments

Let’s review the progression … AUSCP asserts its full-throated support for the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate and the removal of restrictions to the ordination of women.  Following that, AUSCP proposes “open  discussion” on the ordination of women to the priestesshood.  In the rationale, it calls “open discussion” a necessary first step toward ordaining women as priestesses.  It’s worth noting that “open discussion” is never truly about an academic exercise directed toward Truth, but is more in line with the directed dialogue initiated by the serpent in Eden.  In other words, just the possibility of having this discussion is seen as necessary for getting what they want … ordained women.  But, before there can be a dialogue about the viability of ordaining women as priestesses, there must first be something to talk about and something to show as support for their position.  This is why opening the door to the female diaconate is so important to them, and why their plan for “priestlesses parishes” is so integral to the plan.

AUSCP has a document on its website titled, “PASTORAL CARE IN AND THROUGH PRIESTLESS PARISHES.”  In this document, the blueprint never specifies deaconesses or priestesses, but when considered in the light of the above proposals, the push for “priestless parishes” takes on a much darker tone than even the title suggests.

It’s bad enough to consider the proposal for a parish without a priestly pastor.  But this proposal suggests an avenue by which deaconesses could take the place of priests as “Pastoral Leaders” of a parish.  The proposal suggests that Pastoral Leaders will:

“take responsibility for the day to day coordination of parish activities, and take initiative as needed to motivate, to correct, and to affirm persons who work in the parish ministries; and where needed, provide conflict resolution and reconciliation. To be a true pastoral leader he/she must lead worship where appropriate, and likewise break open the Word.  In short, he/she would be in the role of pastor, excepting sacramental ministry, and under the supervision of the canonical pastor.”

Here’s the thing … the current code of Canon Law permits only males to lead in liturgical worship.  But … the reasoning goes … if a woman can take on the administrative duties of a deacon, and the priest is stretched too thin, why not allow her to also act in his place while he is away.  Ordaining a woman as a deaconess would allow women to read the Gospels, give sermons, and conduct baptisms, weddings, and funerals.  Women are already distributing Holy Communion, so why not let them conduct Communion Services in the absence of a priest?  The only thing she couldn’t do is consecrate.

So, as an answer to the priest shortage crisis, the AUSCP (and others) proposes the ordination of women to the diaconate.  The next step is to appoint them as pastoral leaders in “priestless parishes,” where a local priest runs around several parishes to conduct an occasional Mass to consecrate enough hosts to last until his next visit.  In this capacity, the deaconess/pastoral leader will conduct Communion services without the Mass, looking for all intents and purposes like a priestess without actually being one.  And then, if AUSCP (and its cohorts) can get some bishop somewhere to experiment with their proposal for “priestless parishes,” implementing ordained deaconesses as Pastoral Leaders, then it can proceed to its second proposal, which is open discussion for the ordination of women as priestesses.  At this point, since women would already be doing just about everything else a priest does, with the exception of consecration, the logical next step is “simply” ordaining women to the priestesshood.

While it may seem a far cry for this to happen, the AUSCP has a great deal of influence through the bishops who have willingly participated in their conferences.  For instance, then Archbishop Cupich of Chicago celebrated Mass for AUSCP’s Assembly in 2016.

The AUSCP’s Assembly in 2017 had the keynote address given by Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, Georgia.

Archbishop Wester of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico was a participant, and Bishop Gregory Hartmayer, of the Diocese of Savannah, gave a retreat to the AUSCP.

At the 2017 Assembly, Archbishop Wester agreed to serve in a newly created position called Episcopal Moderator.  Quite conveniently, the AUSCP 2018 Assembly will be in Albuquerque, NM: June 25-28, 2018.

Bishop McElroy of San Diego, California is slated to be a featured speaker in that assembly.  Considering that there is a persistent rumor that Bp. McElroy is slated to replace Cardinal Wuerl in Washington, DC, his involvement in the AUSCP may be more significant.  Only time will tell.

It’s important to point out a few other influential figures who participated in the AUSCP Assemblies. Fr. Thomas Rosica, who is the CEO of Canada’s Salt and Light Media Foundation and was appointed by Pope Francis as the English language Media Attaché of the Holy See Press Office, participated in the AUSCP’s 2015 Assembly.  As Fr. Rosica was being introduced, the speaker mistakenly identified Fr. Rosica with EWTN, which drew boos and laughs, and the speaker apologized for “insulting” Fr. Rosica for doing so.

Other prominent figures you may recognize are Fr. Bryan Massingale:

Sister Simone Campbell:

Massimo Faggioli:

Fr. Greg Boyle:

And Jack Jezreel, founder of JustFaith Ministries:

 

If you think this is far-fetched and would never happen in the Catholic Church, let’s examine a few things that have been allowed to happen in Catholic Churches over the last 60 years.

Egocentric liturgical dancing has replaced Christocentric reverence and awe.

Gross abuses such as mock-sacrifice offered through puppets have been allowed to replace the True and sublime Sacrifice.

Clown Masses have been permitted while the Traditional Mass has been suppressed.

Holy Communion has been allowed to be distributed by laymen (including women), and in the hand, replacing the distribution of Communion ONLY by a priest and on the tongue.

The point is, the danger posed by the AUSCP should not be blown off as a passing fad concocted by some aging, effeminate priests.

In subsequent articles, we will examine the structure of the AUSCP and give tips on how to identify whether AUSCP’s influence has spread to your parish.

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Phil Lawler

Opinion

Catholic Campaign for Human Development is part of the ‘swamp’ that needs to be drained

Phil Lawler

November 28, 2017 (Catholic Culture) – Every year, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Catholics around the US are asked to contribute to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). The annual collection prompts an annual controversy, in which critics of the CCHD point to the grants that the program has made to organizations that promote anti-Catholic causes. The bishops who supervise the CCHD either ignore or deny these charges. But the evidence keeps mounting.

The problem, however, is not merely the occasional misplaced grant. The more fundamental problem is that from its inception, the CCHD has worked on the assumption that the best way to fight poverty is through political activism. The funds donated to the Thanksgiving collection are typically steered toward community organizers—often disciples of Saul Alinsky—rather than to food-pantry managers. In fact the CCHD deliberately avoids “charity” programs that merely meet the immediate needs of the poor.

In 2009, after ten American dioceses opted out of the nationwide CCHD collection, the US bishops’ conference organized a thorough review of the program. But no major changes were made; the leftist premise on which the program is based was not changed.

This year the New York archdiocese announced that it would take up its own collection on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, to fund its own anti-poverty programs. Archdiocesan officials had only good things to say about the CCHD; they said that didn’t intend to question the “terrific work” that the national group is doing. But they did see the need for a change.

Time will tell whether the New York archdiocesan program is more successful in fighting poverty, or in preserving a distinctively Catholic perspective. But after more than 30 years of fighting to reform the nationwide CCHD program, conservative Catholics may conclude that it would be more productive to pursue the battle on the local level. Or, as the currently popular saying goes, to drain the swamp.

Reprinted with permission from Catholic Culture.

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Trevor Thomas

Opinion

The truth behind ‘transgender’ deaths

Trevor Thomas

November 28, 2017 (American Thinker) – In case you missed it -- which, sadly, no less than the U.S. Secretary of State made difficult --November 20 was “International Transgender Day of Remembrance.” The day focuses on memorializing the world’s gender-deluded who were victims of violence. By my estimate -- I didn’t count them all -- the list contains about 300 people.

Likewise, many liberal outlets in the American mainstream media -- redundant, I know -- took the opportunity to paint violence against the gender-deluded as some sort of epidemic. The headline in the largest newspaper in my state declared, “Violence against transgender people at all-time high in Georgia, nationally.”

Evidently an annual “all-time high” when it comes to the murder of individuals in the U.S. who choose to live a gender lie is 25. After the 11th death, which occurred in May of this year, one news outlet quoted a “transgender” activist declaring, “We are facing a national epidemic of violence [against ‘transgenders’].” More American Christians were recently killed in a single day as they peacefully gathered to worship their Creator. Following this horrific event, virtually no one in the mainstream American media wanted to talk about how Christians in the U.S. are suffering an “epidemic” of violence or even that we are merely increasingly under attack.

To further the perverse LGBT agenda, the liberal American media would rather promote a lie than reveal the plight of Americans who seek the Truth. Of course, an agenda built on lies must be furthered with lies. Murder is always tragic, and leave it to liberals to use the death of murdered Americans deceptively in order to advance their preferred -- and again false -- narrative. What’s more, worldwide, tens of thousands of Christians are martyred every year and the liberal-led media typically -- and predictably -- yawns.

Throughout the stories highlighting “International Transgender Day of Remembrance” was the implication that “transgenders” are being killed as the result of hate toward those who foolishly choose to live as the opposite sex. This was certainly the case with the American media and the 25 “transgenders” killed in the United States.

Of course, an additional implication is that this hate is the result of “ignorant” and “irrational” bias against the gender-deluded from conservatives and Christians. As is often the case with liberal narratives, few things could be further from the truth.

I examined online reports of each of the 25 American individuals on the Human Rights Campaign’s “Violence Against the Transgender Community” list for 2017. I looked specifically for mainstream media accounts -- such as the Chicago Tribune, the Times Picayune (more than once), the Baltimore Sun, the Miami Herald, and so on. In other words, I looked for news publications that had almost every reason in the world to stick to the LGBT agenda on “transgender” deaths. Though the articles often hopefully hinted that a possible “hate criminal” was behind the murders, there was not one single person the media could definitively claim was the victim of a “hate crime.”

Quite the contrary, more than one “transgender” person died as the result of violently attacking the police. Others were involved in dangerous activities such as prostitutiongang activity, or drug use, and still others had shown themselves to be prone to violence. In other words, much -- if not most -- of the “violence against transgenders” is due to the poor lifestyle choices of those who reject simple science and morality.

If the mainstream media really wanted to tell the truth when it comes to death and the gender-deluded, it would do well to note the dangers of denying basic biology and the tragic results that often accompany attempting the impossible—“transitioning” from one sex to another. Instead, the media again embraces a lie and is guilty of malpractice.

Along with the dangerous and sometimes deadly consequences of mutilating an otherwise healthy body with unnecessary drugs and surgeries, those who suffer from gender delusions face a whole host of health issues that a media that truly cared should be eager to report. For example, the risk of cancer significantly increases when one’s body is subjected to gender “reorientation” drugs.

The suicide rate among the gender-deluded is far above that of the general population. A staggering number of youth who struggle with their gender engage in self harm. Worse still, many parents who’ve bought the liberal lie on gender are guilty of child abuse. Because their parents, their schools, their churches, and their media refused to tell them the truth about their gender, many older teens and young adults have found themselves scarred for life.

Death, disease, and despair do stalk the gender-deluded community, but not for the reasons most corrupted by liberalism would have us believe. Again, those struggling with their gender identity need serious physical, mental, and spiritual help. They do not need accommodation in living a lie.

Trevor Grant Thomas

At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.

www.trevorgrantthomas.com

Trevor is the author of the The Miracle and Magnificence of America

[email protected]

This article was originally published on American Thinker and is re-published with permission of the author.

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Michael D. O’Brien Michael D. O’Brien

Opinion

The Church: called to be a bulwark against the coming Apostasy

Michael D. O’Brien Michael D. O’Brien

Editor’s Note: The following is the second part of an in-depth essay by author and painter Michael D. O’Brien on the coming Great Apostasy. The first part is here. The entire essay can be viewed here.

November 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Why have so many Christians proved to be so vulnerable to, even eager for, the pathological narratives of our time? Why, in short, do we tell lies to ourselves? We deceive ourselves because there are abundant rewards for doing so, while simultaneously the inner tensions inherent in the moral struggle of the human condition are eased, left behind, as if we were discarding an outmoded legend. Daily, we gulp plausible lies, a web of falsehoods coupled to flattery, to emotional and physical pleasures, and constantly reinforced by a new world culture largely contrived by the entertainment and communications media, by the corruption of education, by morally compromised politics, and most reprehensible of all, by ambiguous theology and spurious spiritualities.

In his second letter to Timothy, St. Paul exhorts the shepherds of the flock of the Lord to preach the word of God with determination, in season and out of season, to “convince, rebuke, and exhort,” to be unfailing in persistence and in teaching. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths” (2 Tim 4: 3-4).

If the current studies of faith and practice in the Western world are accurate, it appears that more than 80% of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the need for Confession, nor in other fundamental doctrines of the Faith. Consistently, this majority rejects Church teachings on sexual morality. Yet many among them continue to attend Mass or define themselves as Catholic as a kind of cultural religious identity, useful as an ethical system in which to raise one’s children as law-abiding citizens—as “basically good people”—but demanding no accountability before God and man.

In 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-4, St. Paul cautions us to not be hastily shaken by any spirit or word to the effect that the Day of the Lord has come, for that day will not come until after the great apostasy (“falling away” and “rebellion” in some translations) which is the prelude to the revealing of “the man of lawlessness, the son of perdition,” who opposes God and exalts himself, taking his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. This is the Antichrist, who through lies and flattery will rise to power upon waves of a strong delusion, which takes root in the minds of men because they have opposed the truth and the authority of God and, in effect, exalted themselves as gods over their own lives.

In his second letter to Timothy he warns:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of distress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderous, licentious, brutal, hating what is good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying its power. (2 Tim 3: 1-5)

Clearly, St. Paul is not so much referring here to the external enemies of the Church as to those who remain within her ranks. St. Peter’s second letter also reinforces this warning, pointing out that the coming infidelity will be not only external but internal:

There were false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who ransomed them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their licentious ways and because of them the way of truth will be reviled. (2 Peter 2: 1-2) . . .

. . . Remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions, saying, ‘Where is this promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.’ They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar, and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. (2 Peter 3: 2-10)

Because man is religious by nature, the void that opens within him in the absence of a truly ennobling faith is soon filled with some kind of faith-system. As G. K. Chesterton once pointed out, when men cease to believe in God they do not then believe in nothing; they then become capable of believing anything.1 Nevertheless, the apostate must live with himself, and so he demands that he be the arbiter of the meaning of good and evil and that he enjoy an untroubled conscience as he goes about it, and woe to him who disturbs it. In order to live with the remnant of his conscience the apostate must see himself as a reformer-liberator: he is enlightened, he is compassionate, he is mellow—until he is resisted, and then he becomes merciless. The self-proclaimed “liberal” soon finds himself behaving very much like a fascist, and not knowing why—not even questioning why. This is also true of many a liberal heretic who remains in the ranks of the Church and takes upon himself the project of deconstructing her from within and attempting to rebuild her according to his own notions—offering the world a tame Christ rather than a merciful one, an undemanding Christianity rather than one which calls man higher to become his true self, an amputated Gospel missing vital limbs and organs. They are rebels masquerading as moral reformers.

In his prescient 1942 book, The Judgment of the Nations, historian Christopher Dawson warned that in the near future the imposition of neo-totalitarianism and corrupt morality would be purveyed as a moral crusade, one that by necessity would demand the Church’s submission to the will of the State:

It is due to the invasion of the spiritual by the temporal, the triumphant self-assertion of secular civilization and of the secular state against spiritual values and against the Church. The real meaning of what we call totalitarianism and the totalitarian state is the total control of all human activities and all human energies, spiritual as well as physical, by the State, and their direction to whatever ends are dictated by its interests, or rather the interests of the ruling party or clique. . . . In such an order there can be no place for religion unless religion forfeits its spiritual freedom and allows itself to be used by the new power as a means for conditioning and controlling the psychic life of the masses. But this is an impossible solution for the Christian, since it would be a sin against the Holy Ghost in the most absolute sense. Therefore, the Church must once again take up her prophetic office and bear witness to the Word even if it means the judgment of the nations and an open warfare with the powers of the world.2

The future that Dawson foresaw seventy-five years ago is now here. It should be noted that this social revolution has been legally enforced in the once-Christian West by governments led by heretical or apostate Christians, complete with punishments for resistance to the new “orthodoxy.” It is perversely logical, therefore, that state-sanctioned, state-funded murder of widening categories of the human community (children, the elderly, the weak, the infirm, the depressed, et cetera) is promoted in the name of humanity, and that the erosion of freedom is done in the name of freedom. Moreover, wherever this spirit and ethos cannot cross the guarded frontiers of Islamic and Marxist nations (which have their own masks of the Beast), it does so through the medium of culture, electronically. It is thus a global revolution that has as its purpose the exaltation of man and the denial of the absolute rights of God. As the consequences of this brave new religion are hidden from man’s eyes, he has now come to call darkness light; he promotes betrayal as romance and murder as compassion; he calls the depths the heights. He will gain nothing and call it everything. He will lose everything and call it nothing. He will worship, as all created things must worship, yet as he strains to worship himself alone he will come, without knowing it, to worship the father of lies. Then follows the unleashing of greater and greater degrees of evil that will, in the end, seek to devour everything.

Only one thing stands in its way: the Roman Catholic Church—that is, the Church when it lives to the utmost the fullness of life in Christ. When it is the bulwark that stands firm against all the malice and deceptions of the diabolic, and when it is a “sign of contradiction” against every corrupt rationalization produced by fallen mankind.

The gulf between the authentic follower of Christ and the heretic (or de facto apostate) is not always clear, because human beings are ever in transition, cannot be reduced to any one thing. For Newman, however, the distinction between the two could be seen in the conscience:

. . . Christ dwells in the conscience of one, not of the other; that the one opens his heart to God, the other does not; the one views Almighty God only as an accidental guest, the other as the Lord and owner of all that he is; the one admits Him as if for a night, or some stated season, the other gives himself over to God, and considers himself God’s servant and instrument now and forever.3

But what happens when the bulwark and sign of contradiction becomes the very instrument for malformation of conscience? When its universal charity for sinners mutates into a parody of itself and degenerates into empathy for sin? When its voice grows feeble and no longer calls man higher to become his true self?

Sacred Scripture is replete with warnings:

And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath; their way I have requited upon their heads; says the Lord God. (Ezekiel 22: 30)

And the words of Jesus:

I know your works; you have the name of being alive, and you are dead. Awake, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember then what you received and heard; keep that and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. (Rev 3:1-3)

These warnings will strike us as harsh, authoritarian and loveless, to the degree that we do not hear the authentic voice of the speaker.  “. . . he that will hear, let him hear; and he that will refuse to hear, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3: 27). When Christ himself tells us that we must repent lest we lose what has been given to us at so great a cost, can we not hear the sweet fire of love in it? Can we not hear his words as the urgency of a passionate shepherd, rather than the vindictiveness of an autocrat?

And if we cannot hear this burning love, what has gone wrong with our interpretive lens? Have we approached the holy ground of God without removing our sandals? Have we presumed that God is there to serve us, on our terms? Have we placed ourselves, consciously or subconsciously, above the exigencies of Divine revelation, above the living Word of God, above the teaching authority of the Church which the Savior has given us and formed through two millennia of countless martyrs, great doctors, pastors, teachers and the humblest of hidden saints, a cloud of witnesses, “the great and the small”? Have we presumed that we are on the cusp of a new and better revelation. Have we been seduced into thinking of ourselves as the most advanced generation of Christians, the most enlightened, the last best interpreters of the law and the prophets—and of Christ himself? If so, we have become neo-gnostics—the Knowers—without knowing that we are “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev 3:15-18).

To be continued…

 

Notes:

1. This oft-quoted maxim of Chesterton’s is not, in fact, something he wrote, but rather a paraphrase or synthesis of similar insights scattered throughout his writings; for example, in one of his Father Brown stories his priest-detective says, “The first effect of not believing in God is that you lose your common sense.”

2. Christopher Dawson, The Judgment of the Nations, Sheed & Ward, New York, 1942.

3. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, V, Sermon 16, December 25, 1837, “Christ Hidden from the World.”

 
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Peter Kwasniewski Peter Kwasniewski Follow Dr. Peter

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‘But the Pope said so!’: Excuses that may not help on Judgment Day

Peter Kwasniewski Peter Kwasniewski Follow Dr. Peter

November 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – People often find it difficult to judge about contemporary problems because current affairs are too “close” to us to be able to see them clearly. We feel too much immersed in them, almost as if we are treading water and trying not to drown. One useful way of gaining perspective is to step back in time, into other periods of crisis, and to speculate on what the implications of those crises might have been for Catholics living through them. Here, this exploration will take the form of hypothetical dialogues between Christ and a soul at its particular judgment.

Scenario #1 takes place in the year 366.

The Judge: O Christian soul, why did you dare to sing the songs of the Arians, with their refrain “there was a time when He was not”? For in truth, there is no time when I was not. I am the eternal Son of the eternal Father.

Soul: Well… I was confused when Pope Liberius signed an accord with the Emperor. Everyone was saying that the pope had admitted that there could be some debate, you know, some flexibility in the formulas… that it was not all black-and-white…

The Judge: You should have known better. My Church has always confessed My divinity. When Arius arose, he was immediately condemned as a heretic. The truth was solemnly defined at the Council of Nicaea, and My saints have defended it ever since.

Soul: Who was I to judge? Hearing conflicting things, I figured: “If the pope is confused, then how could I be expected to know for sure?” Aren’t we just supposed to follow the pope?

The Judge: You say: “Who was I to judge?” Yet in your baptism and chrismation I gave you the Spirit of Truth by which to distinguish truth from falsehood, and the duty of knowing your faith and following it unto death.

Soul: But what of the pope, the rock on which the Church is built?

The Judge: The papacy I established as a guardian of the unchanging truths of the Faith and a barrier against novelty. That is why he is called a rock and not sand. This Liberius, My thirty-sixth pope, was unworthy of his charge; he wavered when he should have stood firm. Seeing all time before me, I declare to you that he will be the only pope among the fifty-four bishops of Rome from St. Peter to St. Gelasius I who will not be revered as a saint.

Soul: I am ashamed. I stand justly condemned for my failure in faith. Have mercy on me, O Lord!

The Judge: I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. Angels, lead away this soul to the furnace of purgation, that he may be cleansed of his vices.

*          *          *

Scenario #2 takes place in the year 638.

The Judge: Why, friend, did you hold and promote the wicked error that I have only one will, a divine, while having two natures, a divine and a human? Did you not see that this error is an insult to the truth of My humanity and of My mission to assume, heal, and elevate all that is in man?

Soul: But Lord, Lord, I was merely following what Pope Honorius wrote in his letter to Patriarch Sergius, where he disowned writers who spoke of “two wills.” As you know, many are following this letter.

The Judge: The Church had already taught the truth about Me. The faithful knew it. Pope Honorius was derelict in his duty. His word is nothing if it contradicts the traditional teaching of the Church. Those who follow him in this matter, so far from being excused, are partakers in his unfaithfulness.

Soul: But wasn’t it his fault for misleading me?

The Judge: You could and should have known better. Did you consider yourself an educated Catholic?

Soul: Well, yes, I suppose.

The Judge: You were literate at a time when few others were. You had the ability to study, and you did study. You knew—or could easily have known—the traditional faith of the Church.

Soul (blushing): Yes, Lord, all that you say is true.

The Judge: A successor of Pope Honorius, Pope Martin I, will show forth to all the world the unwavering faithfulness I expect of My shepherds. Martin will summon a synod to condemn Monothelitism, bravely opposing the Emperor. He will be seized, imprisoned, and exiled unto his death, and afterwards venerated as a martyr. The Third Ecumenical Council of Constantinople will ultimately discard the last vestiges of this error and condemn Honorius with words that I shall inspire on their lips: “We define that there shall be expelled from the holy Church of God and anathematized Honorius who was at one time Pope of Old Rome, because of what we found written by him to Sergius, where he in all respects followed the latter’s view and confirmed his impious doctrines.” Pope Leo II, endorsing the anathema, will write: “Honorius…consented to the pollution of the unpolluted rule of the apostolic tradition, which he received from his predecessors.” He will condemn him as one “who did not, as became the apostolic authority, quench the flame of heretical doctrine as it sprang up, but quickened it by his negligence.” Why is it that Martin I, Leo II, and countless other popes will know and teach the truth of the Faith, when Honorius himself did not?

Soul: I cannot say, Master.

The Judge: It is because, as a matter of principle, they reject every profane novelty and “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints,” as My servant Jude said. I have placed it within reach of every diligent shepherd of the flock to know and to hand on the true Faith, just as I have placed it within reach of every earnest Christian soul to receive and to embrace the same Faith unto salvation.

Soul: I see now how negligent I have been!

The Judge: Did I not condemn false prophets and false teachers in Sacred Scripture? And those who follow them?

Soul: Yes.

The Judge: Anyone who distorts the word of God as handed down in Scripture and Tradition is a false prophet. Is this not so?

Soul: Yes.

The Judge: Therefore a pope who does this is also a false prophet and teacher.

Soul: Yes, the conclusion follows.

The Judge: It is just for me to condemn you out of your own mouth. Angels, bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness!

*          *          *

Scenario #3 takes place in the year 1332.

The Judge: Are you surprised to see that countless souls of the just are already enjoying the vision of My divine glory?

Soul: I do not understand the question, Master.

The Judge: You belonged to the papal court, did you not? As a member thereof, you made a name for yourself by adopting and defending the thesis of Pope John XXII that just souls are admitted to the beatific vision only at the end of time, with the general resurrection.

Soul: Yes, I was his lawyer, and assisted him in the research that supported his position.

The Judge: His position is execrably false. The testimony of Scripture, the Fathers, the Doctors, and the constant faith of the people—all these stand in serried ranks against it. How could you have dared to aid and abet the pope in his foolish reasoning?

Soul: It seemed like a subject open to theological debate. I believe a German cardinal told me that...

The Judge: It is not for you to decide what is open to debate and what is not.

Soul: But what if the pope decides that something is open to debate?

The Judge: He, too, is bound by the same faith as every Christian. Indeed, he is more bound than all others, and must show himself stalwart in resisting every deviation, innovation, or obfuscation, be it ever so small. What may be pardoned in a lesser man may not be pardoned in the supreme shepherd.

Soul: You are saying that I should have refused to cooperate with him in this matter?

The Judge: Yes—and all the more so, the more the pope insisted on his idiosyncratic views. My loyal subjects, including the bishop Guillaume Durand, the Dominican Thomas Waleys, the Franciscan Nicholas of Lyra, Cardinal Fournier, and King Philip, valiantly resisted John’s error and have suffered as a result, winning great merit for their souls. In fact, I tell you, searching the hearts of men, that before two years of time have passed upon the earth, the pope will retract his error and die repentant.

Soul: The truth is always victorious.

The Judge: It is victorious—in those who seek it and hold on to it, come what may.

Soul: What will happen after my lord dies?

The Judge: Cardinal Fournier will be elected Pope Benedict XII. Among his first acts, he will solemnly define in a papal bull the opposite of what his predecessor endeavored to teach: the souls of the just, whether immediately or after due purgation, are admitted to the beatific vision, and thereafter await the resurrection of the dead and the general judgment.

Soul: But Lord, if you had only let me live long enough to see this papal bull, I would have taken the right side!

The Judge: No, there you are wrong, My friend. Remember My parable about Dives and Lazarus? It is pertinent to your case... I know that you would have become a contumacious heretic and that your eternal punishment would have been worse. I therefore mercifully summoned you now to a lesser punishment.

Soul: I bow before your decree and accept your just sentence.

The Judge: Angels, take this lawyer and lead him to the place where he will find himself most at home—with the scribes and pharisees who changed the law of God to suit the human traditions of their cultural milieu.

*          *          *

Are there any other historically-based scenarios we might imagine? Yes, but they will have to wait for a later treatment. This trio of scenarios, in any case, helps us to see that there are certain excuses we should never make for ourselves when it comes to adherence to Christian doctrine on faith and morals. This is our responsibility; we cannot abdicate it and try to put the blame on someone else.

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