All articles from March 07, 2018


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LIFE Runners at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas
Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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LIFE Runners halfway to their goal to cross the nation in defense of the unborn

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

March 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-life runners have made it halfway across the United States and they aren’t looking back.  

“This is a perfect week,” LIFE Runners coach and founder Dr. Pat Castle told LifeSiteNews.

The sixth annual A-Cross America Relay criss-crosses 5,359 miles from the East and West coasts and from the edge of Canada to Mexico.  

The grand kickoff started the day after Ash Wednesday on February 14 from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on the West Coast, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City on the East Coast, Grand Forks, North Dakota near the Canadian border, and the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.  

The LIFE Runner teams have finished more than half of the 5,359 total miles in the relay.

Runners, walkers, crawlers and stationary supporters are all part of the ministry, aiming for the finish line in Kansas City on Palm Sunday (March 25).

Organizers say all are still welcome to join the relay and that it’s not too late to enter. After registering, participants are invited to download the free LIFE Runners App to log miles and minutes.

Anyone who wishes to join the LIFE Runners event is encouraged to pray the LIFE Runners Creed. Registered participants will be added to the Prayer Wall.

Participants can run or walk their 5-kilometer legs on the actual route or simply stay close to home and participate remotely in their local area. Dedicated pro-lifers and others have joined the LIFE Runners team from Singapore, Guam, the Fiji Islands, and Rome — even along the ancient Way of Saint James in Spain.

Whether a relay participant or not, all are welcome to join LIFE Runners at the finish line events in Overland Park, Kansas. For more details and to register, check online.

All four “arms” of the relay cross from each direction will unite at Roe Park. A full day of celebration and thanksgiving will begin with Palm Sunday Mass followed by refreshments and a rally.

The ceremonial last yards of the 12 million relay steps are marched, with a free lunch afterward. The highlight of the day is an afternoon prayer rally at Planned Parenthood in Leawood. Then LIFE Runners will join 40 Days for Life in their closing rally at Overland Park.

The LIFE Runners’ motto, emblazoned on t-shirts, is “REMEMBER The Unborn – Jer 1:5.” This message of personal worth and hope is designed to impact hearts and minds for saving precious lives.

Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I set you apart.”

The LIFE Runners Creed is:

We believe in the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death.

1. We run as a Prayer, to defend children in the womb, so that they may be born and united with our Christian community.

2. We run to build Endurance, for the race is long and we must keep our eyes fixed on You, Lord.

3. We run for Awareness, so our culture will view all human life as a reflection of Your glory, Lord.

4. We run for Charity, to provide support for mothers and fathers tempted to abort their child, and healing support for post-abortion women, men and families.

5. We run to End abortion, for Christ died so that all may live.

Guard us all, born and unborn, with Your PEACE, Lord. For in You, life is victorious. We pray and run in Your name, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Dutch Cardinal blames Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia for ‘fracturing’ Catholic Church

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March 7, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A cardinal from the Netherlands has stated that the question of divorced-and-civilly ‘remarried’ Catholics receiving Holy Communion is “fracturing” the Church. The source of the confusion, he says, is Pope Francis’ 2016 exhortation Amoris Laetitia, specifically Paragraph 305

Willem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk recently gave an interview to the Italian monthly magazine Il Timone in which he defended traditional Church doctrine. He remarked on the damage Pope Francis’ lack of clarity on the issue has done to the Church. 

“The question of whether it is possible to consent to the so-called divorced and civilly remarried receiving sacramental absolution and thus the Eucharist is fracturing the Church,” he said. 

“The source of confusion is the Post-Synodal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia,” he continued. “This confusion concerns above all paragraph 305 of the exhortation.”

Eijk noted that some bishops’ conferences have introduced pastoral regulations that imply that divorced-and-civilly-remarried couples may be admitted to Holy Communion, while others “exclude this as a possibility.” 

This creates a problem in itself, one that the Cardinal hopes Francis will resolve. 

“That which is true in place A cannot be false in place B,” Eijk said. 

“These differing interpretations of the exhortation, which regard doctrinal questions, are causing confusion among the faithful. Therefore, I would be happy if the Pope would create clarity on this matter, preferably in the form of some sort of a magisterial document.” 

The Cardinal said that there can be no such thing as remarriage in the Catholic Church if a valid union already exists. 

“The relationship between Christ and the Church is a total mutual gift,” Eijk explained. 

“The total gift of Christ to the Church is realized in the gift of His life on the Cross. This total gift is made present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Whoever participates in the Eucharist ought to be ready to make a total gift of himself, which shares in the total gift of Christ to the Church. Whoever divorces and remarries in a civil ceremony, while the first marriage has not been declared null, violates the total mutual gift which the first marriage implies. The second marriage in a civil ceremony is not a true and proper marriage,” he said.

The cardinal said that violating the “total gift” of the valid first marriage renders the person involved in the second marriage “unworthy” of receiving the Blessed Sacrament, although of course the person may still participate in the liturgical celebration and receive pastoral care. 

In the situation in which the cohabiting couple cannot separate for some serious reason, like their obligations to their mutual children, they may be admitted to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) and Holy Communion only if they meet the conditions mentioned in paragraph 84 of Familiaris Consortio and in paragraph 29 of Sacramentum Caritatis, Eijk affirmed.

“One of these conditions is that they must commit themselves to living as brother and sister, that is, to stop having sexual relations.”

He also explained during the interview how the Netherlands has slid down the “slippery slope” of unintended moral consequences towards mass abortion and euthanasia-on-demand. Eijk blamed the UN, other international institutions and individual nations for spreading dehumanizing “gender theory.” 

The entire interview, translated into English by Giuseppe Pellegrino, has been published by the OnePeterFive blog. 

An extraordinarily well-educated man, Eijk, 65, is a doctor several times over. He took a degree in medicine from the University of Amsterdam before he was ordained a priest. He later completed a PhD in medicine with a dissertation about euthanasia. The thesis of his next doctorate, in philosophy, was titled “The ethical problems of genetic engineering of human beings.” His final doctorate, in theology, was awarded by the Lateran in Rome.  

In 2007 Eijk was appointed the Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht by Benedict XVI, and in 2017 Benedict made him a Cardinal. Eijk was present at both the Extraordinary and the Ordinary Synods on the Family, where he argued against admitting unrepentant adulterers to the sacraments.  

Eijk again argued against the novelty in Eleven Cardinals Speak on Marriage and the Family: Essays from a Pastoral Viewpoint, which was published in 2015 by Ignatius Press. He was one of the thirteen cardinals who wrote to Pope Francis asking him not to let the Ordinary Synod be hijacked by the question of the divorced-and-remarried.

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Cardinal John Onaiyekan Mtande / Wikimedia Commons
Maike Hickson

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African cardinal: Empty churches, not ‘remarried’ divorcees is western church’s main problem

Maike Hickson

March 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An African cardinal said he is “astonished” to see the church in the west fixated on “remarried” divorcees and on welcoming homosexuals and not on the bigger problem of empty churches. 

In a March 2 interview with the Austrian public service broadcaster ORF (Österreichischer Rundfunk), the Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan — who is archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria — said he was “astonished that these are the themes that people [in Europe] are concerned about,” referring to the topics of “remarried” divorcees having access to the sacraments as well as homosexuality. 

Europe should be more concerned about the sad fact that “the churches are getting more and more empty and that many people are not any more coming at all.” 

While Europe is increasingly secular, the Catholic Church in Nigeria is growing.

When it comes to the question of the practice of homosexuality, the cardinal said there exists a resistant consensus among Christians and Muslims in his country. Onaiyekan explained that homosexuality is rejected in many African countries, including Nigeria, and is even legally forbidden. 

The Church should not “demonize” homosexual people, he adds, but the Church's doctrine is, for him, very clear in this matter, “and to deviate from it is not an option,” in the words of the ORF report. The cardinal also insisted that it is not a sign of backwardness when the Catholic Church in Africa refuses to “approve” of homosexuality. 

The acceptance of same-sex relationships in Europe and North Africa is “not progress,” he said.

When touching upon the controversy concerning Amoris Laetitia and especially “remarried” divorcees and their possible access to the Sacraments, the Nigerian cardinal said that he explains to such couples that, while they may not receive Holy Communion, they are still encouraged to come regularly to Church. 

“I tell them: 'You are not excluded.'” Onaiyekan admits that it is sometimes difficult for him to keep some of these couples away from the Sacraments, especially when one of the spouses had been simply abandoned. 

“Often, we cannot reach people with our ideals, but that is not a reason for the Church to throw them overboard,” he said.

It is not the first time that Cardinal Onaiyekan gently defends the Church's doctrine on marriage and the family. In 2015, the Nigerian cardinal himself had contributed an essay to the Eleven Cardinals Book concerning this same topic. At that time, he tried to convince the upcoming second Synod on the Family to steer away from both the topic of homosexuality and of Holy Communion for the “remarried” divorcees:

The synod [on the family] has not been called to decide whether or not divorced and remarried couples may receive Holy Communion. This is certainly not the purpose of the synod. Nor has the synod been called to discuss the issue of homosexuality and whether or not two Catholic men or two Catholic women can present themselves at the altar for marriage. […] These are issues that are already clear in our doctrines. Synods are not called to change the doctrines or teachings of the Church. 

In his March 2 interview, the African cardinal also touched upon the problem of priestly vocations in the West.

“One should talk about the question as to why there so few men who wish to become priests,” Cardinal Onaiyekan said.

“The fact should also worry us that it is not any longer clear what it means to be a Christian,” he added.

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Jordan B. Peterson's interview with Patrick Coffin, Feb. 2018. PatrickCoffin.media / Youtube
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Police arrest and charge woman protesting Jordan Peterson, had concealed weapon

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KINGSTON, Ontario, Canada, March 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A woman has been arrested in the wake of a protest against freedom-of-speech hero Jordan Peterson. 

Police say in a report that the 38-year-old woman broke a stained glass window in a Queen’s University lecture hall after banging on it during Peterson’s talk there on Monday afternoon, cutting her hand. 

After fleeing the scene, the woman was apprehended by plainclothes officers nearby. When they identified themselves, the woman yelled and tried to escape. When they handcuffed the woman, she became violent and began to kick one of them.   

The police called for backup, but the woman continued to resist by attempting to kick out the window of the police car. Upon arriving at the station, the woman refused to walk or otherwise co-operate and bit another officer before she was carried to a cell. 

According to the police, when they searched the woman’s backpack, they found a piece of wire fastened to two handles, which they described as a “garrotte.”  A garrotte is a weapon used to strangle someone to death. 

READ: ‘Absolutely surreal’: Student mob smashes window in protest against Jordan Peterson

“A garrotte, for God’s sake,” Jordan Peterson wrote on his Twitter account. “What the hell is going on?”

“What terrible things are going through the mind of someone who brings a garrotte to a demonstration?” he later added.

The woman, who is not a Queen’s University student, has been charged with mischief, assaulting police, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and for carrying a concealed weapon.  

Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.  On Monday afternoon, he and a Queen’s professor, Dr. Bruce Pardy, participated in a talk called “The Rising Tide of Compelled Speech in Canada.” The event attracted several dozen students who shouted slogans and obscenities outside Grant Hall and banged on the windows in an attempt to drown out the speech inside. 

Peterson, whose online lectures and television appearances have become a worldwide sensation, first attracted the ire of transgender activists and their allies when he filmed a youtube video stating that he refused to be compelled to use neologisms imposed upon public discourse by activists.

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Utah House passes bill outlawing Down syndrome abortions

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Utah House passed a bill outlawing abortion of babies with Down syndrome last week. The bill now awaits final approval from Utah’s Senate, which has its legislative session end tomorrow at midnight. 

House Bill 205, dubbed the Down syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act, passed the state House February 5 by an overwhelming margin (54-17).  The bill prohibits abortionists from intentionally performing an abortion due to Down syndrome. It also specifies, among other things, that doctors must provide information to women carrying a child diagnosed with Down syndrome. 

“They must be protected,” bill sponsor Rep. Karianne Lisonbee (R) told reporters during a news conference at the Utah Capitol last week. “Utah’s message to the world (is) that we will not tolerate discrimination,” she said, adding that abortion is a “terrible form of discrimination.”

The Utah Down Syndrome Foundation’s Amber Merkley, a mom with a Downs child, said many mothers get coerced into an abortion they don’t want by doctors and nurses.  

“Fear is the enemy of joy, and we feel a lot of these decisions are made from a place of fear,” she told the local Fox News affiliate.

“The pressure from the medical community — as well as society in general — to abort a child with a prenatal diagnosis can be intense,” a Live Action News report noted.  “Around the world, there is pressure to abort children with disabilities.”

The anti-discrimination measure is in its final stretch before the entire Senate, where Sen. Curt Bramble (R) champions the life-saving legislation, but the fight is going to be tough.  It’s high drama for pro-lifers, as the current Senate session ends Thursday at midnight.

Lisonbee said a driving force behind the bill was a report last year that almost 100 percent of Icelandic women aborted their children diagnosed with Down syndrome.

“Looking at history, I have to ask, if we don’t take a stand from the start against the selective purging of one portion of our society, will we continue our silence when the next undesirable segment is purged, and the next?” the pro-life Republican said. 

Abortionists who violate the law and are prosecuted can be convicted of a class A misdemeanor, which carries possible fines of up to $2500 and a possible jail term of up to one year.

Opponents of the bill say it will only invite lawsuits.  The Utah branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) repeated its Ohio comrades' claim that an abortion ban protecting Down syndrome pre-born children is a “calculated and unconstitutional attack designed to burden women, scare doctors, and chip away at Roe v. Wade.”

Opponents further cite the high cost of defending the bill in court.  And some claim it will “chill” abortionist-client business relationships.

Sutherland Institute Director William Duncan argued HB-205 is written specifically enough to pass the constitutionality test.  “The Legislature can’t allow advocacy groups to have a heckler’s veto over what the state law is by saying, ‘Well, if you pass that law, we’ll sue,’” the conservative think tank attorney said.

The Utah legislature “knows how to do the right thing, and can do that without worrying how others will respond,” Duncan advised skeptics.  “And this is the right thing to do.”

Utah government vital records indicate at least forty pre-born children were killed in 2015 alone because of a prenatal diagnosis of some sort of malady such as Down syndrome.  Utah committed a total of 3,000 abortions that year.

Ob-Gyn Dr. Chris Hutchison, chairman of the Utah College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, criticized the bill for vagueness and for a lack of enforceability.  “We’re not the mind police,” he said. “How do you know (why) people are choosing?”

Bill supporter Sen. Daniel Thatcher (R) surprisingly countered Hutchison with a total concession. “‘How would we know if that’s why a parent is choosing an abortion?’” he repeated. “The fact is we don’t know, we wouldn’t know, there’s no way this [bill] could be realistically enforced.”

“So let’s be honest,” he said.  “This is a message bill.  The question is:  Is this a message we want to send? I would say yes.”

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Mary Wagner is arrested and dragged to a police cruiser on December 8 at Women’s Care Center in Toronto. Krystyna Krolak
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Abortion worker testifies at Mary Wagner’s trial: ‘Patients are always sad’

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TORONTO, March 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The trial of pro-life prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner took a surprise twist Monday when questions about a Toronto abortion center’s “lawfulness” prompted the Crown attorney to abruptly request an adjournment until Wednesday.

Wagner, 44, was arrested December 8, 2017, at the Women’s Care Clinic, located on the fifth floor of a medical building at 960 Lawrence Avenue West.

She and a companion entered the abortion center carrying red roses and literature in an attempt to persuade women in the waiting room to choose life for their unborn children.

Wagner is charged with mischief and two counts of breach of probation and remains in jail because she refuses to agree to conditions to stay away from abortion centers.

During the trial which began Monday, Wagner’s lawyer Peter Boushy repeatedly questioned Crown witnesses on the lawfulness of the Women’s Care Clinic. 

The abortion facility is not licensed under the  Ontario Independent Health Care Facilities Act, according to Boushy, but no witness could confirm if this affected the legality of its operation.

As a result, Crown prosecutor Kasia Batorska called a halt to the proceedings halfway through the day, asking Justice Neil Kozloff for an adjournment to produce evidence on the “material issue of lawfulness.”

Batorska said she would arrange for one of the abortion center owners, Michael Markovic or his wife, abortionist Saira Markovic, to testify on the question. Kozloff agreed to the request.

Earlier in the day, abortion center receptionist Laura Guo’s testimony elicited an audible gasp from the 25 or so Wagner supporters attending the trial when Boushy asked her if the women in the waiting room were sad because of Wagner’s presence that day.

“The patients are always sad,” Guo replied simply and without hesitation.

Much of Guo’s testimony was taken up with her diagramming the layout of the abortion center, which has a buzz-in intercom security system, and a secure inner room as well as the waiting room. 

Guo wasn’t there to see how Wagner and her companion gained access to the abortion center, she said. When she entered the glassed-in reception area next to the waiting room, she saw two women with “posters and roses” close to a young black man sitting there. 

“They pushed a poster into his face and he pushed it away,” Guo said.

She couldn’t make out what was people were saying in the waiting room, but “some of my co-workers were yelling.” 

She called 911 initially because she feared for the safety of people in the abortion center, and again when “my boss asked me to,” Guo testified.

Wagner and her companion subsequently tried to prevent Guo and her boss, manager Kamar Santorini, from closing the door of the secure area to where some four women and companions had been moved, Guo testified. She and Santorini succeeded in closing the door after a brief struggle, she told the court.

She didn’t know if any woman left the abortion center because of Wagner and her friend, but the day’s operation “slowed down” because of them, she said.

Boushy asked Guo, who said she’d been working there about a year-and-a-half, if she knew “for a fact” that the Women’s Care Clinic was a “lawful” abortion center.

“I’m confused,” Guo replied, before adding she assumed it was.

Constable Bryant Trotman from 32 Division testified he got a 911 call at 9:28 a.m., and when he and his partner entered the abortion center, the two women told them “babies are being killed here and as police officers, we should protect them.”

He said he cautioned the pair multiple times and that Wagner replied she “was going to fight today,” a word choice Boushy challenged in his cross-examination. Trotman checked his notes and said that’s what he’d written.

“How did you take that to mean?” Boushy questioned.

“I believe a protest,” Trotman answered.

According to Trotman’s testimony, the abortionist on duty, Rosa Magalios, gave a statement to police, but owner Mike Markovic did not. Trotman requested the surveillance video as evidence but the abortion center did not provide it.

Boushy asked Trotman if he enquired whether the abortion center was registered under the Ontario Independent Health Facilities Act. He said no.

Constable Jason Contant, who arrived with his partner Peter Oh after Trotman, testified that when Wagner made it clear she was not leaving, he arrested her, handcuffing her hands behind her back. 

At this point, Wagner’s companion left the abortion center of her own accord, while Wagner went limp and “falls down to her knees,” he testified.

Contant warned Wagner that if he and Oh had to drag her, “it’s going to hurt your wrists very badly, and she didn’t care, she said she didn’t care,” he told the Court.

He and Oh then grasped Wagner under her armpits, lifted her and dragged “her dead weight” down the hall, into the elevator, through the main lobby and outside to the patrol car.

The trial resumes Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., in Courtroom 305 at the Ontario Court of Justice at 1000 Finch Avenue West.

Related:

Mary Wagner jailed again after entering abortion center to save unborn babies

Judge’s order leaves pro-life activist Mary Wagner in jail for Christmas

Poles honor jailed pro-life heroine Mary Wagner on her birthday by picketing Canadian embassy

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Cardinal Walter Brandmüller
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Dubia cardinal: German bishops’ ‘wicked trick’ is pushing ‘intercommunion with non-Catholics’

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GERMANY, March 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – One of the two living dubia cardinals criticized his fellow German bishops’ “wholly dishonest ploy” of allowing Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion.

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller warned that normalizing "emergency" exceptions allowed in Canon Law is a “wicked trick.”

Brandmüller, who is 89, told this to a kath.net journalist. At One Peter Five, Dr. Maike Hickson translated the cardinal’s remarks.

Germany’s bishops, most of whom champion Communion for adulterers, announced last month that they will allow some Protestant spouses to receive Holy Communion.

The Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. One must be in full communion with the Catholic Church to receive the Eucharist. Catholics must also be free from mortal sin to receive.

Canon 844 § 4 of the Code of Canon Law allows non-Catholics to receive Holy Communion in limited, emergency circumstances.

That canon says:

If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.

“If now the document of the German bishops speaks about individual cases in which this may be possible, then this is in and of itself only a tactical step toward general intercommunion with non-Catholics,” said Brandmüller. “One also calls such an approach ‘salami tactics.’ And: constant dripping wears down the stone. It is a wholly dishonest ploy, in order to get to the true goal.”

That “true goal” is opening up Catholic Communion to many more non-Catholics, he said, warning of St. Paul’s admonition that those who eat the bread or drink “the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27).

“A Christian who truly yearns for Holy Communion and who knows that there is no Eucharist without the Church and no Church without the Eucharist, will ask for admittance into the Catholic Church,” said Brandmüller. “Anything else would be doubtful and dishonest.”

Brandmüller said that the notion there are Protestant spouses truly “yearning” for the Eucharist yet who don’t want to be part of the Catholic Church is “a case that is construed with quite some effort,” “an embarrassing melodramatic set up,” and “sob-stuff.”

Hickson reported:

Cardinal Brandmüller also discusses the German bishops’ reference to Code of Canon Law 844 § 3 and 4 which speak about emergency situations, in which an Orthodox Catholic (§ 3) or a Christian from other denominations (§ 4) may have recourse to the Church’s Sacraments when there is an imminent danger of death or a situation of imprisonment, and only in the case that that the individual Christian “is disposed in the right way,” which means “to be free from mortal sin and to have the honest desire to receive the Sacrament,” according to the cardinal. He also repeats his question as to why such a person “who fulfills those conditions, and who is not in an emergency situation, should not simply ask to be admitted to the Church.”

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The Ruth Institute
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Humorous billboards encourage Catholics to go to Confession this Lent

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LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana, March 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Ruth Institute, a pro-life and pro-family organization focused on helping people heal from the sexual revolution, has launched a billboard campaign encouraging Catholics to go to Confession this Lent.

In addition to appearing on four billboards, the campaign is online. One of the campaign’s humorous posters shows a wide-eyed Catholic priest in the Confessional.

“You won’t really shock him,” the text beside it says. “Go to Confession.”

“The ‘Go to Confession’ campaign is a way to remind people that God is merciful, and we can go to Him with our sins at any time and find forgiveness,” said Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute. “What better time than during Lent?”

Another billboard depicts St. Thomas Aquinas with a speech bubble saying, “sin makes you stupid.”

“The Biblical basis for confession to a priest can be found in John (20:22-23): Jesus said to the apostles the night of His resurrection, after He breathed on them: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained,’” the Ruth Institute explained in a blog post accompanying the image of the Angelic Doctor.

“Sacramental confession is based on a sound natural understanding of the human condition because it recognizes the power of speaking, out loud, to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs,” it says. “It is a very powerful, deeply personal and moving experience. We Catholics believe Our Lord knew we would sometimes need that personal connection.”

One of the billboards shows Jesus reaching out, with the text “Jesus is waiting for you.”

And another shows debris from a Mardi Gras party.

“Party’s over,” it says. “Go to Confession.”

Morse said her organization is using humor to get across a serious point.

“Families don’t just break down,” she said. “Marriages don’t just fall apart. Somebody sins. The ultimate solution to family breakdown is repentance.”

The Ruth Institute is also encouraging non-Catholics to repent of their sins: “Non-Catholic Christians have a variety of methods for dealing with the problem of sin and repentance. Some churches recommend accountability partners, healing prayer and other practices that are based on Scripture and a sound understanding of the human condition. We encourage you to participate in these.”

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West Virginia voters will decide if abortion is a constitutional ‘right’

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

CHARLESTON, West Virginia, March 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – West Virginia voters will decide in the upcoming November general election if their state Constitution should be amended to explicitly declare that abortion is not a "right" nor "requires...funding."

A majority of the House of Delegates (73-25) voted on Monday to include the following question on the ballot: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” 

The amendment is aimed at overriding a 1993 West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruling that determined that Medicaid must fund abortions since the court said it was a "right" under the state Constitution.

“Passage of Amendment 1 will take West Virginia taxpayers out of the business of paying for abortion on demand,” National Right to Life summarized.​

Del. Marty Gearheart, one of the lawmakers who voted to include the pro-life amendment on the ballot, called the move "democracy."

"I'm all for us having direct democracy on this issue and giving people the right to vote on it. It will be on the ballot. Obviously, I'm a long-time pro-life supporter and I'll be voting in favor of it in November," he said. 

Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkin praised the move as a step in overturning the 1973 supreme court abortion decision Roe v. Wade.

“We know that Roe v. Wade will someday be overturned, and this is exactly the kind of ground game that policy leaders should be championing across the country,” she said. “State leaders must prepare for the day Roe v. Wade falls, as have other deeply flawed cases such as Plessy v. Ferguson or Dred Scott vs. Sanford.”

“Both Dred Scott and Plessy involved human rights violations and atrocities,” Hawkins, a West Virginian, added. “Abortion is the human rights issue of our day, and rights of the unborn should not be ignored in our laws just because they have no voice to speak for themselves.”

Pro-life leaders say that if the amendment passes, it would prepare the ground to halt Medicaid funding of abortions. West Virginia is one of 13 states forced by judicial fiat to use the people’s money to pay for killing pre-born children (Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont).  Four additional states (Hawaii, Maryland, New York, Washington) use tax dollars for abortions.

Medicaid doled out $10 million for about 35,000 West Virginians to be aborted since the 1993 Supreme Court ruling, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Of these, 1,560 took place last year alone.

The amendment does not criminalize abortion, nor does it affect in any way the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision. It merely legislatively pulls the rug out from under the state’s Supreme Court 1993 “Panepinto” decision that mandated tax-funding of abortions.

“If this amendment is ratified by the voters in November, women will still have access to abortion under the Federal Constitution,” West Virginians for Life president Dr. Wanda Franz told the National Right to Life. “States cannot override (a U.S. Supreme Court) ruling.”

West Virginians for Life legislative liaison Karen Cross hopes that the amendment passes and that state money will no longer enable elective abortions. “We know that limiting abortion funding saves lives,” Cross said. “In fact, 2 million people are alive today because of the federal Hyde Amendment.”

If the Panepinto decision is reversed, the state’s previous abortion law would take over.  That law followed federal law in funneling taxpayer dollars to the abortion industry in cases of rape or incest. West Virginia law adds cases of “fetal anomaly.” Abortions are also allowed when the mother’s life is in danger.

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Diane Montagna Diane Montagna Follow Diane

News

Will Pope Francis respond to ‘extremely grave testimonies’ alleging sexual abuse by Honduran bishop?

Diane Montagna Diane Montagna Follow Diane

ROME, March 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — A high spending auxiliary bishop in Honduras accused of “abusing seminarians, having a string of male lovers, and terrorizing those who cross him,” has been left in charge of the archdiocese of Tegucigalpa, while its cardinal archbishop, Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga, undergoes prostate cancer treatment in Houston, Texas.

According to an investigation carried out by the National Catholic Register, the decision to leave auxiliary bishop Juan José Pineda Fasquelle in charge of the archdiocese since January was made despite a papal investigation that obtained “extremely grave testimonies” regarding Pineda’s alleged financial and sexual misconduct.

The decision is therefore raising questions about why Pope Francis and the Holy See have taken no action in response to the papal investigator’s report, which was reportedly hand-delivered to the Holy Father last May.

Initial reports

On Dec. 21, the Italian newspaper L’Espresso reported some of the findings of the apostolic visitation to the Honduran archdiocese. The investigation was carried out at Pope Francis’ request by retired Argentine Bishop Jorge Pedro Casaretto, on May 17, 2017. The probe targeted allegations of serious financial mismanagement in the archdiocese by Cardinal Maradiaga, and allegations of financial and sexual misconduct by Bishop Pineda.

Cardinal Maradiaga, who serves as the head of the C9 “Council of Cardinals” advising Pope Francis on Vatican reform, immediately denounced the L’Espresso report, but he did not directly address allegations of sexual misconduct made against Bishop Pineda, except to say that Pineda had “asked the Holy Father for an apostolic visit, in order to clear his name.”

Former seminarians testify

On March 4, the National Catholic Register reported it had obtained the testimonies of two former seminarians of the archdiocese of Tegucigalpa, detailing allegations of grave sexual misconduct by Bishop Pineda.

The events related in the testimony are alleged to have occurred some time in the last ten years, while Bishop Pineda was teaching at the archdiocesan seminary.

Both testimonies were submitted to the Vatican investigator last May.

The first seminarian testified before Bishop Casaretto that Pineda “attempted to have sexual relations … without my authorization, during the period I was in service with him. In the night he came close to me and touched my intimate parts and chest. I tried to stop him; on several occasions, I got out of bed and went out. Sometimes I went to the Blessed Sacrament to pray to ask God that that should stop happening.”

But Bishop Pineda “never respected what I told him, not to touch me,” the former seminarian said.

After repeatedly rejecting his advances, the first seminarian said Bishop Pineda “started acting weird with me and kept away from me, since he did not get what he wanted. And over time he looked for ways to affect me [i.e., cause me trouble].”

According to the Register, the second former seminarian testified to Bishop Casaretto that he “witnessed firsthand an improper relationship between Bishop Pineda and a third seminarian,” while the three men were engaged in pastoral work.

The second former seminarian said:

“The pastoral work was very normal until a strange situation between the bishop and [the third seminarian] began to be seen, even sleeping in the same room. One night we worked until late the bishop invited me to sleep with them. I was expecting it to be in a separate room; however, we slept in the same room. In the night the bishop behaved in a strange way. ... When it was early morning, he tried to abuse me; he wanted to put his leg on me and his hand also. I immediately reacted and pushed him away. The next day everything was normal for him, pretending that he had done that last night while asleep.”

He further testified that Bishop Pineda later took punitive measures that smeared his reputation and led to his dismissal from the seminary.

“I therefore beg the Holy See that justice should be done with this bishop who abuses authority and who has a serious moral problem,” the ex-seminarian testified.

Sacrilege

Two “credible sources” who requested anonymity “because of fear of reprisals if their identities were disclosed” told the Register that the allegations contained in the former seminarians’ testimonies were part of a broader web of “homosexual actions undertaken by Bishop Pineda with priests, other seminarians and other individuals.”

Pineda allegedly “lavished gifts and even bought a downtown apartment” for his first assistant, a Mexican named Erick Cravioto Fajardo, who for years lived in a spacious room adjacent to the cardinal’s quarters at the archbishop’s residence, Villa Iris. Bishop Pineda also lived in the residence,” the Register explained.

“Cravioto’s room was ‘right next to the cardinal,’ who knew ‘perfectly well that Pineda spent hours and hours with him and never said anything, never did anything,’ according to the Register’s second source in Honduras. Instead, the source said, the cardinal dismissed the bishop’s relationship with Cravioto and ‘made excuses for it all.’”

Bishop Pineda’s alleged string of male lovers also included a man named Mike Estrada. For 12 years, “Padre Mike” as he was called, served as chaplain for the Honduran National Police force — offering Mass, hearing confessions and celebrating funerals — with the approval of Cardinal Maradiaga, even though there is no record of him ever being ordained a priest. “Padre Mike,” who is pictured here in 2013 celebrating the funeral of a 25-year-old police officer shot in the line of duty, stepped down in January 2017, according to Honduran media.

The Register also obtained documents showing Bishop Pineda’s record of expensive foreign travel, which included two first-class tickets to Madrid “to see close male friends.” One of Pineda’s Spanish getaways reportedly came after Pope Francis was informed about the allegations and sent him to Madrid for a weeklong Jesuit retreat.

Silence

According to the Register, the papal investigation was requested “by both Cardinal Maradiaga and Bishop Pineda, in response to concerns raised by local Catholics.”

The Pope’s special envoy, 80-year-old Bishop Casaretto, reportedly received testimony from at least 50 witnesses, including the former seminarians mentioned here.

Casaretto was “appalled and shocked” by the “extremely grave testimonies” he received regarding sexual misconduct and financial misdealing, the Register’s sources said.

The testimonies have reportedly been in the hands of the Holy Father since last May.

Neither Cardinal Maradiaga nor Bishop Pineda, nor anyone in the Honduran Church, responded to Register enquiries for comment. The Vatican has also remained silent.

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Joseph Sciambra

Opinion,

Dads: 10 ways to save your son from homosexuality

Joseph Sciambra

March 7, 2018 (Joseph Sciambra) – Editor's note: Joseph Sciambra recovered, in part through the prayers of his father, from years immersed in a homosexual lifestyle and alienated from the Catholic Faith. He now writes extensively concerning the real-life issues of pornography, homosexuality, and the occult, particularly in the Church.

1. Pray

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." – Thess. 5:16-18

Start every morning with a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the gift of your son. Ask God to keep him safe from harm. Throughout the day, even if they seem insignificant, offer up little prayers, hardships, and sacrifices to the Lord for your son's protection. Remain joyful in everything you do. Many young men who identify as "gay," in general, retain very negative perceptions of their fathers as well as Christianity, particularly Catholicism; in addition, these two forces are often seen as either incredibly harsh and condemning or all-accepting and tolerant. Therefore, the religious man can be one of only two things: an ally or an enemy. You must be neither, but a father. In this regard, you must pray for determination, empathy, and prudence. This is sometimes a difficult balancing act that requires humility through supplication to God's will; Bishop Athanasius Schneider stated this very well when he said: "Genuine understanding and compassion" for a person's true good certainly does not result "from concealing or weakening moral truth."

2. Attend Mass (daily if possible) and frequently receive the Sacrament of Confession

"I believe that were it not for the Holy Mass, as of this moment the world would be in the abyss." – St. Leonard of Port Maurice

At Mass, offer up your reception of the Eucharist for the reparation of those sins committed by those who are confused or have been deceived about their sexual identity. Your prayers at Mass are critically important because a number of Catholics, especially those who are young, do not pray for the conversion of anyone involved in a same-sex relationship, because they do not believe that it's wrong. You could be the only human being on the Earth who prays for your son, and no other prayer is as efficacious as those offered to heaven during the Sacrifice of the Mass.

3. Work on your own personal sanctification

"Day after day I was able to observe the austere way in which he lived. By profession he was a soldier and, after my mother's death, his life became one of constant prayer. Sometimes I would wake up during the night and find my father on his knees, just as I would always see him kneeling in the parish church. We never spoke about a vocation to the priesthood, but his example was in a way my first seminary, a kind of domestic seminary." – Saint John Paul II

Be an example of Catholic masculinity to your son. But what does that mean? Use as your model the foster father of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Saint Joseph. Many "gay" men, beginning in childhood, are attracted to the strong, silent type who is also a man of decisive action, as evidenced in the example of homoerotic male icons from James Dean to Channing Tatum. These are secular and sexualized versions of what Saint Joseph represents; everything in the "gay" community is a poor substitute for what is our hearts' true longing. Of course, you cannot be something different from your own temperament, but you can be a resolute figure for your son – even if you were not in the past. That requires not being afraid or embarrassed to reveal your faith – and this can mean doing something as simple as making the sign of the cross and praying before meals. As in the case of the father of John Paul II, these small acts can be accomplished quietly and unobtrusively.

4. Develop a devotion to Saint Joseph

"The Holy Patriarch was not an old man, but a young, strong, upright man, a great lover of loyalty, a man with fortitude. Holy Scripture defines him with a single word: just (see Mt 1:20-21). Joseph was a just man, a man filled with all the virtues, as was fitting for the one who was to be God's protector on earth." – Saint Josemaria Escrivá

In the Gospels, there are no recorded words spoken by Saint Joseph. Yet, except for the Blessed Virgin Mary, no other human being had such a great influence over Our Lord Jesus Christ. According to Scripture: "... he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them." Therefore, ask Saint Joseph to intercede on behalf of your son; Our Lord will refuse nothing to the man who so bravely protected Him from Herod's assassins. In the same manner, you must now go into battle to help save your own son. And, if you have to – offer up your own life for his salvation.

5. The family should be the center of your life

"The Catholic family represents the first bulwark against the current great apostasy. The two most efficient weapons against the modern apostasy outside and inside the life if the Church, are the purity and integrity of the faith and the purity of a chaste life." – Bishop Athanasius Schneider

The only hope for your son ever leaving homosexuality – is you. When the "prodigal son," after his self-imposed evil in the decadent world of sexual liberty, found himself near death and sleeping among the pigs, what would have happened if he had no father waiting for him at home? When the prodigal son demanded that his father accept him for who he claimed to be, what if his father had done just that? Where would the boy go?

The sad truth – many parents, particularly mothers of "gay" sons, willingly accept those demands for instantaneous approval and recognition. Especially in those families with a history of abuse or neglect, it's far easier to believe that someone was "born gay" than to go through the heartache and pain of self-examination in order to determine the underlying trauma that perhaps initiated the homosexuality.

Those in the LGBT community have many family members and friends who celebrate their sexual orientation, sometimes as a gift from God. But they have very few, or more likely no one, who love them enough to challenge some of their most dearly held assumptions. You can be that one person. This doesn't mean that you should browbeat your son, but any relationship with him, no matter what transpired in the past, must now be based upon the truth. How he reacts to that truth will largely dictate his future perception of you. But, in order to preserve a place that he may return to one day, you have to allow him to get angry and walk away. Then, like the father of the prodigal son, all you can do is pray and wait.

6. Never accept the false ideology that your son was "born gay"

There is no evidence for a biological or genetic determinant for homosexuality; even the very gay-affirmative American Psychological Association cannot claim that anyone was "born gay."  According to the APA:

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.

However, psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors, and even some priests within the Catholic Church, will tell you that if you do not accept your son as "gay," you will contribute to his eventual psychological destruction – even to the point of suicide. However, in nations with the longest recorded history of modern LGBT acceptance – namely, the Netherlands and Sweden – disparities in terms of mental illness still exist between homosexuals and heterosexuals, and even among same-sex "married" couples. In addition, drug use and STD rates remain higher among the LGBT population.

7. Promote healthy heterosexual relationships

"There is no greater force against evil in the world than the love of a man and a woman in marriage." – Cardinal Raymond Burke

Oftentimes, a boy who later comes out as "gay" experienced difficult circumstances in his own family. Whether these situations were due to domestic violence, abandonment issues, neglect, an overprotective mother and a disinterested father, molestation, or even bullying at school, these early experiences sometimes leave "gay" men with a profound sense of loss. In order to fill that void, they attempt to self-heal through sexual behavior with other men. It doesn't work, hence the proclivity for multiple partners in the gay male community, even among those who are in a relationship.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the family as a "domestic church." Consequently, observation of the family creates an innate appreciation for creation and the Creator. For every "gay" man seeks the same sort of harmony that is biologically possible in heterosexual couples but results in only a simulacrum when imitated by two men. And, instead of the potential for generating life, the all-male imitation of copulation brings forth only death – through the rise of the AIDS epidemic and a continuing scourge of rampant STDs among the gay male community. The total opposite of this disorder can be appreciated in Catholic men who are husbands and fathers as they mirror not only the tremendous courage and self-sacrifice of Saint Joseph, but the love of the Father, through the death of His Son, for all of humanity.

8. Talk to your son

"Jesus does not deny the existence of sin and sinners. This is obvious from the fact that he calls them 'sick.' On this point he is more rigorous than his adversaries. If they condemn actual adultery, Jesus condemns adultery already at the stage of desire; if the law says not to kill, Jesus says that we must not even hate or insult our brother. To the sinners who draw near to him, he says 'Go and sin no more;' he does not say: 'Go and live as you were living before.'" – Father Raneiro Cantalamessa

Never be afraid to initiate a conversation. The person your son most fervently disregards is also the person he most wants approval from; the person your son would rather not talk to is also the person he most desires to have a connection with. In fact, the majority of men who "come out" will do so first to their mothers, and sometimes not at all to their fathers. Therefore, it's important that you begin the discussion. Usually, this will immediately elicit a response of avoidance, curiosity, or disdain. The conversation may end before it starts. But given the opportunity – the truth must be stated out loud. This may be your only chance. And there is a sense of urgency that always exists when approaching this topic with a young man who is about to become sexually active with other men or has just started. Because there exists a unique set of factors, including a large alienated population where sexual opportunities are plentiful, the presence of numerous psychological disorders and the absence of the moderating influence exerted by women, the gay male community creates an environment in which STDs often multiply completely out of control. Therefore, it's better for someone to walk away upset, after hearing the truth, than remain in an oftentimes silent and tacitly facilitating relationship. You have to be willing to fully take on the role of the father to the prodigal son. And sometimes that means saying goodbye – staying behind, and praying as if your son's life depends on it – because it does.

9. Eucharistic Adoration

"Every one of us needs a half an hour of prayer each day, except when we are busy – then we need an hour." – Saint Francis de Sales

Take time out of your day, about an hour, to adore Our Lord Jesus Christ in the form of the Blessed Sacrament. Find a quiet chapel, close your eyes, and ask God for His help. Thank Him for giving you the patience and strength to endure and for keeping your son alive, so that one day he may perhaps turn around and head back home – where you will be waiting.

10. Fast and penance

"All that we do without offering it to God is wasted." – St. John Vianney

Deny yourself little pleasures, such as a favorite meal, snack, or drink. Skip a lunchtime break and instead attend Mass or visit an Adoration Chapel. Oftentimes, when a loved one does something that we know is wrong for him, he is oblivious to the perilous situation he has placed himself in – and we are the people who suffer. But your suffering is not in vain – when combined with prayer, it will perhaps make the difference between life and death for your son. Never think, just because the two of you are not speaking – that what you are doing every day of your life is not having a direct impact on your son. The unappreciated and unnoticed prayers of my father, while I danced the night away in a San Francisco gay disco, although I didn't know it, kept me from utterly destroying myself. The father I abandoned and despised – never abandoned me.

Two more, and they are the most important:

11. Pray the rosary

"The rosary is the 'weapon' for these times." Saint Padre Pio

Every day, make it a habit to recite the rosary. Set aside a certain time that is dedicated to this prayer. If possible, pray the rosary with your wife, other family members, or alone. At first, like much of what you are doing on behalf of your son, it seems ineffectual and hidden, but if and when your son returns to his senses, the worth of those prayers and sacrifices will be revealed. Until that day arrives, you must remain vigilant; as Padre Pio remarked, the rosary is a "weapon" through which you will defend your son from the demonic forces of confusion and deceit. My father prayed the rosary daily for my conversion.

12. Never give up hope

"The father of the prodigal son who waited on the road suffered more than the prodigal son." – Archbishop Fulton Sheen

If you give up on your son – it's almost over. When I was a kid, I tried to hide. I thought being artistic, effeminate, and shy made me "gay." I was embarrassed. While I may have exhibited a natural aptitude toward creativity, the insular world of drawing and picture-making became a safe escape from what I wasn't good at – namely, sports or any physical activity which required a modicum of hand-eye coordination and dexterity. Was I effeminate, or did I become reclusive and unsure of myself, soft-spoken, scared of other boys, but accepted by some girls? Did I begin to take on the outward expressions of my peer group? As a boy, when I was comfortable with my surroundings, especially around women – I was bouncy and exuberant; among men, I didn't know what to do.

By my late teens, I didn't care what anyone thought of me, including my father. As my attitude changed, so did my appearance. I was simultaneously trying to shock, gain attention, and test the loyalty of those closest to me. Not surprisingly, my father wasn't pleased. His continued distance and silence signaled to me what I wanted to know. However, I pushed a little further. Finally, my father had to speak up, and he said what needed to be said. Of course, I didn't take it well; even objective criticism, with my best interest at heart, I regarded as a personal attack. It was inevitable. Because this battle was never just about me, and it wasn't about a scared kid against a homophobic world in the age of AIDS, and it wasn't about finding myself in the arms of another man – it was always about me and my father. When I would curse him, I subconsciously believed that he was the one who sent me into every gay bar, bathhouse, and sex dungeon. I wasn't ashamed of who I was or what I did, but I hated him for it. Maybe he wasn't the father I wanted – or needed; maybe he didn't give me the attention I wanted – or needed. But when all seemed lost, when it mattered most – he did the right thing. Looking back, it's the ultimate irony that through his prayers – I was saved.

Published with permission from Joseph Sciambra.

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Joseph Bingham

Opinion, ,

Could Mother Teresa operate in America’s foster care system?

Joseph Bingham

March 7, 2018 (The Daily Signal) – In one of the most moving parts of the president's State of the Union address, President Donald Trump honored Ryan Holet – a police officer who decided to adopt the baby of a heroin addict.

Holet encountered the baby's parents while on duty and asked the mother, "Why do you have to be shooting that? You're going to ruin your baby. You're going to kill your baby."

After some thought and reflection, Holet and his wife decided to adopt the baby, who was born in October. They named her Hope. Little did they know that three months later, they'd be attending the president's annual address.

Stories like Hope's are inspiring, but sadly rare among kids born into her situation. Children like her often end up in foster care and never find a happy ending.

What's even more tragic, however, is that the ACLU and other groups are doing everything they can to prevent that happy ending. In many states, the ACLU is fighting to have faith-based foster care and adoption agencies shuttered.

Why? Because those agencies operate consistently with the same religious beliefs that lead them to serve these vulnerable children, including some that place children only in homes where they'll have a married mother and father.

The ACLU wants to give these faith-based agencies an untenable choice: Renounce your faith, or stop helping children.

The most absurd aspect of the ACLU's activism is that in each of the states where it is threatening faith-based adoption agencies, there are secular adoption agencies more than willing to place children in other family arrangements – no one is prevented from fostering or adopting.

But that's not good enough for the ACLU. According to it, it's better for no one to help a child in need than for a Catholic to help a child in need.

This purge of religious adoption agencies has already taken place in Illinois, where activists successfully shut down Catholic Charities, displacing 3,000 children because they dare to share the same religious tradition that motivated Mother Teresa to care for the orphans of Calcutta.

Faith-based agencies like Catholic Charities are an essential element of a foster care system that needs more – not fewer – foster care providers, especially as the opioid crisis worsens.

Children in the foster care system are passed around from home to home, constantly facing an unstable, unpredictable future. For half of the girls and for more than half of boys in the foster care system, that future will include jail.

While some kids are reunited with their parents, more than a quarter never will be, leaving over 100,000 of them waiting to be adopted.

The reality is that more than 60 percent of kids who spend time in foster care spend two to five years there without being adopted, while almost 20 percent spend more than five years in the system.

Many never find a family simply because there are not enough high-quality foster homes, group homes, and other critical services.

The demand for foster care has never been higher. Nationally, the number of kids in foster care rose by 10 percent in the last six years. In Florida, for example, that number rose by 129 percent in just three years.

Drug abuse is the No. 1 reason children enter the system. When I worked in Florida's child welfare system, I witnessed firsthand families ravaged by drug abuse. More than 60 percent of child removals last year were due to substance abuse, a figure that nearly doubled in the last few years.

Now, the ACLU and others on the left have decided that this public health emergency is the right time to sabotage these children's hopes of being placed with a loving family.

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., introduced the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act to prevent states from discriminating against foster care agencies on the basis of religion.

This bill takes the right approach. Unlike the ACLU's litigation strategy, which excludes, this bill welcomes everyone who is willing to lend a hand to help an already overwrought foster care system.

This is too urgent to ignore. The opioid health crisis has children pouring into the foster care system. States must be permitted to take federal funds to care for children without driving out some of the best, longest-serving foster care providers from a system that desperately needs their help, all because these providers follow religious beliefs the ACLU dislikes.

Every child deserves hope and a home. Congress should not let the ACLU steal even one more child's chance at a happy ending.

Published with permission from The Daily Signal.

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John Sikkema

Opinion, ,

New law: If Ontario doesn’t like what you say, you’re going to jail

John Sikkema

March 7, 2018 (ARPA Canada) –  A new law took effect in Ontario last month. It is now an offence, punishable by punitive fines and prison, to "attempt to advise or persuade" someone to refrain from having an abortion, or to "attempt to inform a person concerning issues related to abortion services", or to "attempt to perform an act of disapproval [of abortion]" in any way, if the attempt is made within 50m (or up to 150m) of an abortion clinic. 'Access zones' can also be created around hospitals and pharmacies by regulation, up to 150m in every direction.

Informing? Persuading? Disapproving? Imagine, "You're under arrest for attempted persuasion..." It is also an offence to "persistently request", by any means and in any place, that an Ontario abortion provider "refrain from providing abortion services", no matter how peaceful or polite your requests.

The consequence of this law's viewpoint discrimination was on stark display in Ottawa last week. ARPA is two blocks from the Morgentaler Clinic, so I ventured out see what might be happening on the first day the law came into effect. Just across the street from the Clinic, people were taking signs out of a bag. I thought it might be a bold group of pro-lifers. In fact, it was the opposite. Two police officers walked over and checked out their signs. Evidently, they were satisfied that the signs were sufficiently pro-abortion, since these demonstrators were allowed to stay. "I do not regret my abortion", one woman's sign said. Erase the word 'not' and she could be arrested.

You'll find no offence like these in Canadian law. They exist only in relation to abortion. The closest thing I could think of are laws against obscenity or hate crimes, since they are prohibitions on certain kinds of communication (read the legislative 'debate' on Ontario's bill and you might get the impression that pro-life outreach is a hate crime). But obscenity and hate speech laws are applied with a view to the potential effect of the prohibited actions – corrupting morals or promoting hatred. If the act in question cannot reasonably be expected to cause such harm, it should not be prosecuted. When it comes to the bubble zone law, however, the question isn't whether what you said is likely to intimidate someone or whether you intend it to intimidate, but simply whether you communicated about abortion in a non-approving way. Obscenity and hate speech laws do not target one side of any particular issue for censorship.

The penalties for obscenity and wilful promotion of hatred are similar to the penalties for a bubble zone violation. But it's much harder to defend yourself against the latter charge. So while it's a crime to "expose to public view" any "obscene written matter, picture... or other thing", if exposing obscene material serves the "public good" by being necessary or advantageous for religion, morality, justice, truth, science, or art, you are not guilty of an offence. Likewise, it is a crime to promote hatred, but you cannot be convicted if your statement was true, or was a good faith attempt at a religious argument, or if discussion of it was in the public interest and you believed it to be true. 

But the new "bubble zone" offences allow no such defences. If you are charged with "attempting to inform" someone about "issues related to abortion", you cannot defend yourself by proving that the facts you shared about abortion or alternatives to abortion are true. Nor does it help you that someone was relieved that you told her about a pregnancy care centre. Nor does the fact that your letters to the local pharmacist asking her not to dispense abortifacients were non-threatening, well-reasoned, and factually correct.

In what kind of state are people arrested for "attempting to advise or persuade" or "attempting to inform" or for expressing disapproval of a (taxpayer-funded) "service"?

John Sikkema is a lawyer with the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada. This article, originally published on the ARPA Canada blog, is reprinted with permission.

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Arthur Goldberg

Opinion,

Western civilization depends on parental rights. Time to restore them.

Arthur Goldberg

March 7, 2018 (The Public Discourse) – Many people are aware of the tragedy of Charlie Gard in the United Kingdom – the death of a terminally ill eleven-month-old child whose parents unsuccessfully fought hospital administrators who refused to allow them to transfer their gravely ill child to a US hospital for potentially life-saving treatment. The hospital fought so long against releasing Charlie that by the time a court finally agreed to allow an independent medical examination, little could be done to save little Charlie. Not only did hospital officials believe they knew better than the parents what was in the best interests of the child, but they even denied the parents the opportunity to take their child home to die.

This is not an isolated example, but a pattern. Alfie Evans, an eighteen-month-old child in the UK, has been unconscious for about a year. The hospital involved has been unable to diagnose the cause of the coma. After searching for answers, the parents found a hospital in Italy that believes their doctors' medical expertise may allow them to discover the underlying illness. One might logically assume that the English hospital would welcome such intervention. However, as in the Charlie Gard situation, the hospital has now petitioned a court to declare that the best interests of the child involve simply ending his life. Rather than transferring the child out of its control, the hospital requested authority to end its intensive care by turning off Alfie's ventilator, in spite of reports that Alfie exhibits visible signs of life.

Medical Decision-Making in the United States

Many people in the United States probably believe these stories are bizarre examples involving the loss of parental rights in the United Kingdom in particular, and are therefore irrelevant to Americans. The truth is, however, that fundamental rights of American parents to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children are increasingly being denied in a broad variety of situations, including both medical and educational decision-making. This trend directly negates the importance of families as an underlying foundation of American society.

Professional organizations such as the American College of Pediatricians understand that in the overwhelming majority of cases, decision-making by parents is what is best for children. In 2000, the Supreme Court judgment in Troxell v. Granville (a case involving grandparents' visitation rights) appears to recognize "the fundamental right of parents to rear their children," yet that split decision has resulted in massive confusion. Numerous American examples exist where parental rights have been abridged, denied, or avoided.

A relatively recent example involves the case of Justina Pelletier, a Connecticut teenager, who, according to her parents, was medically abused for sixteen months by Boston Children's Hospital. It took widespread publicity and constant legal action by her family against the hospital for the teenager to eventually be returned to her parents. Outraged by her alleged mistreatment, the parents sued Boston Children's Hospital in February 2016 for gross negligence and civil rights violations.

In another example, Dr. Kathleen Levinson, who has performed psychological evaluations professionally for forty years as a clinical social worker, believes the eagerness to diagnose autistic children as transgender is both dubious and dangerous. She cites the experience of her own daughter, Ruth, as a prime example. She angrily denounces her daughter's "gender therapist" for authorizing Ruth's double mastectomy without ever looking at her medical history, examining her special education records, or speaking to her therapists. Although the APA recommends a minimum of one year of "gender counseling" before surgery, the gender therapist, based on the availability of $30,000 of insurance money, gave the go-ahead for the surgery after only two counseling sessions. Ruth's incapacities are such that she has a representative payee on her SSDI disability check and fervently believes that her testosterone shots will enable her to "grow a penis." Her acknowledged mental capacity approximates nine years old. Since becoming "Ryan," she has been hospitalized several times for complications from the testosterone shots.

Prior to initiating any medical care involving physical mutilation of a minor, or for a minor desiring an abortion, one would assume parental consent would be required. However, in 1975, in Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, the Supreme Court declared that it was unconstitutional to require parental permission for an abortion procedure and that minors had a constitutional right to privacy. This outlandish decision was subsequently modified five years later in H.L. v. Matheson by permitting states to at least require parental notification.

Education Decision-Making

Schools no longer make policies based on the principle that parents control the education of their child. Indeed, parents often lose control of their child's upbringing once the youth walks into his or her school. Once exposed to our educational establishment, the values of many children vary dramatically from those of their parents. In furtherance of this goal, so-called sex education programs are found at all educational levels from pre-kindergarten on up, and often have less to do with education than with indoctrination.

The sexual brainwashing of schoolchildren has been implemented under the rubric of safer schools, claiming to promote diversity and tolerance. Children are taught that homosexuality is always an inborn, unchangeable identity, but that no one is innately male or female. It is totally hypocritical (although clearly part of the "agenda") to claim that sexual orientation cannot change while teaching that a person's birth sex is fluid.

Increasingly, parents are denied a say in what schools teach. A Lexington, Massachusetts parent demanded that he be informed about the teaching of sexuality subjects and be given an opportunity to opt out his kindergarten child. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review lower-court decisions that ruled against such a parental right. Compulsory sex education has become a political tug of war between federal courts, which continue to rule that parents have no rights, and state legislators, who are trying to protect parental rights through opt-out or opt-in statutes.

In many school districts throughout the nation, elementary, middle, and high schools have been transformed from community-oriented centers where traditional moral, civic, and scholarly values were nurtured into carefully guarded precincts for the counter-cultural transformation of young and adolescent children. Many college campuses are even worse.

Protecting the Family Unit

As I have written in a previous Public Discourse essay, the founding fathers of America recognized that the dual foundations of faith and family were the key to establishing this great country. We have abandoned that ideal, founded on principles found in the Seven Noahide Laws, in favor of a culture that has become largely secular and hedonistic.

Because each of the Seven Noahide Commandments has a negative aspect ("Thou Shalt Not …") while simultaneously incorporating a positive aspect, it is instructive to understand the specific commandment relevant to parental rights that is being abandoned. The positive aspect of forbidding sexual immorality and certain sexual relations is protecting the family unit, the initial building block of communal social life. Family life initiates one into societal life. The stability of the community depends on the stability of the families composing it. As head of the family unit, parents represent on earth the ultimate Father in Heaven.

The sanctity of marriage and family reflects the oneness of G-d and His creations. When we override this structure, we ignore G-d's eternal truths and our own common sense. We are witnessing foundational elements of American society as envisioned by our founders being destroyed. There are consequences for disobeying covenants between G-d and society, illustrated by the many social and emotional consequences attendant on the destruction of traditional family units.

We must return to the universal moral Biblical values found in the seven Noahide laws and reestablish a G-d-centered family-based culture. This can only be accomplished if we who embrace the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) form a coalition that abhors social and moral chaos, overthrows our sexually degenerate values, and recalls America to its biblical origins.

An important first step is to pass more parental involvement laws. As the American College of Pediatricians points out, "Intentionally removing a teen's parent(s) from the decision-making process, misleads the teen toward the false notion that parents are nonessential, simply obstructive to the process, and that the teen is completely capable of making mature, wise decisions without the parent's advice." Parental involvement laws benefit the adolescent, the family, and society, according to a number of recent independent studies. For example, research shows that the enactment of parental involvement laws led to a reduction in the number of fifteen-to-seventeen-year-old females who committed suicide. Another studyshowed that parental involvement laws reduced risky sexual activity among teenage girls, including reduction in the rates of pregnancies, abortion, and gonorrhea for females under twenty. Other studies indicate that parental involvement laws are an important causal factor in reducing the incidence of abortion among minors without increasing birth rates. Such laws have been shown to reduce abortion rates among minors by 13.6 percent. If parental consent is required rather than simply parental notification, the minor abortion rate was reduced by about 19 percent.

Because parental rights are subject to the whims of judges in particular cases, parentalrights.org seeks to create a constitutional amendment to the United States Constitution to enshrine parents' rights, permitting them to control the upbringing of their children and protect them from federal and state interference. Bills have been introduced in each Congress since the 110th Congress (2007-2008). Unfortunately, the amendment has not attracted much support, and the issue whether parents or the government can best decide what is in a child's best interest remains an open question with which American society continues to grapple.

Arthur Goldberg is Co-Director of the American-based Jewish Institute for Global Awareness, former Co-Director of JONAH, Inc. JIFGA sponsors www.fundingmorality.com, a crowd-funding site for those committed to Biblical values. He has authored Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change.

Published with permission from The Public Discourse.

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Osugi / Shutterstock.com
Stefano Gennarini

Opinion, ,

A plan to set the UN straight on abortion

Stefano Gennarini

March 7, 2018 (The Public Discourse) – The pro-life movement cannot limit itself to focusing on the United States. Just as the abolitionists had their sights on dismantling a global slave trade, so too the pro-life movement must target the global abortion conglomerate of governments, philanthropists, international bureaucrats, academics, and faux "civil society" organizations they use as proxies. The goal must be to deprive it of domestic and international political and financial support, and eventually dismantle it.

So far, President Trump has followed the lead of the pro-life advocates behind the 1973 Helms Amendment and the 1984 Mexico City Policy. He reinstituted and expanded the Mexico City Policy. He has defunded the United Nations Population Fund. He has reproached a UN treaty body for seeking to manufacture an international right to abortion. He has insisted on important caveats in international agreements that include "sexual and reproductive health" to rule out international abortion rights and made reservations to UN agreements to that effect. But this should be just the beginning.

I want to suggest here two further essential steps for the pro-life movement internationally – steps in which the Trump administration can play a catalytic role.

A Multilateral Mexico City Policy

First, the Mexico City Policy must become a multilateral initiative, as I already outlined in Public Discourse last year. The end-game here is to make abortion and multilateral aid incompatible in the twenty-first century. And, by launching a pro-life multilateral campaign, President Trump would be delivering on his stated intent in the State of the Union address on January 30 to only give U.S. foreign assistance to countries and organizations that are friends of the United States and share our values.

This has become urgent in the wake of the $560-million "She Decides" European campaign to bail out the global abortion industry following the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy. So far, the US State Department has done nothing to contest this initiative, even though the campaign has been vocally anti-American.

Many countries would support U.S. efforts to fight the abortion industry, especially if the U.S. created incentives for doing so. This could be provided in the shape of a multilateral agreement creating a long-term partnership to provide healthcare to mothers and children without promoting or performing abortion in any form. Both donor and developing states would be invited to join the partnership, alongside global health organizations such as World Vision, Caritas and Catholic Relief Services, as well as mainstream pro-life organizations. An annual summit would gather the partners to renew their commitment, monitor results, and welcome new partners.

Favorable political conditions to make this happen exist in Poland, Hungary, and Malta, and dozens of countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia whose laws are highly protective of children in the womb. The Holy See, who has been the undisputed champion of the unborn at UN headquarters for decades, and at times their only friend, should also be a powerful partner in this initiative.

Changing the International Normative Paradigm

Secondly, the pro-life movement must push the United States and other nations to become more aggressive in contesting "sexual and reproductive health" policies that support the global abortion industry. The end-game is to eliminate abortion from UN policy altogether.

International human rights law does not explicitly prohibit abortion. At the same time, abortion cannot be considered an international right, as the San Jose Articles helpfully explain. On the contrary, children in the womb are presumptively protected by key human rights instruments. Nevertheless, unborn children have been under attack in international arenas for over three decades. Abortion groups have successfully promoted access to so-called "safe abortion" in UN agreements. The international debate over abortion has calcified in this environment, stuck in an unfavorable normative paradigm established at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, which allowed abortion into UN policy, albeit with caveats.

That agreement expressly and implicitly includes abortion in multiple definitions of "sexual and reproductive health" and related phrases. The term was coined by abortion and population control groups to legitimize abortion alongside maternal health care, family planning, and HIV treatment and prevention. It obscures the heinousness of abortion and makes it sound like just another aspect of healthcare. My C-Fam colleague Susan Yoshihara, PhD, described the genesis of this terminology in international policy in the article "Lost in Translation." In recent years, this terminology has also become a conduit for extreme LGBT agendas, gender ideology, and controversial sexuality education.

The Cairo agreement was adopted with this language over the objections of the Holy See and many UN member states. However, the Holy See, supported by a broad coalition of other countries, was able to obtain important concessions in the final agreement to limit the threat to the unborn. These include statements that (1) abortion is not an international right, that (2) it cannot be promoted as a form of family planning, that (3) governments must help women avoid abortion, and that (4) where abortion is legal, it should be "safe" – implying not only that abortion is inherently dangerous, but that it is presumptively against the law.

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At the time, the momentum for an international right to abortion seemed unstoppable, and no one had any illusions about what the term "sexual and reproductive health" meant. These caveats were rightly seen as a great and improbable victory, as can be gleaned from George Weigel's report in First Things, "What Really Happened At Cairo."

Since the Cairo agreement, abortion groups and their international backers have sought to undermine, ignore, and move beyond the ICPD caveats. So long as a UN consensus continues to include the ICPD caveats, it is the most powerful evidence that UN member states do not want abortion to be an international right. This is an important reason why the Cairo agreement and its caveats were included in the 2030 Agenda adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.

What Really Went Wrong at Cairo

While the ICPD framework excludes an international right to abortion, at a political and programmatic level it legitimizes abortion and translates into political and financial support for abortion groups. The caveats have simply not proven effective.

Sexual and reproductive health is the single largest item on the global health agenda, with roughly 12 billion dollars spent on it annually, according to OECD data. UN agencies, officials, and abortion groups have skillfully turned the caveats on their head to promote "safe abortion" not just in UN policy, but in UN human rights mechanisms. Susan Yoshihara described the broader contours of this scheme in her article "Rights by Stealth."

While it may seem esoteric, the political compromise on abortion reached at Cairo is not so dissimilar from the compromise on slavery that was reached in the US Constitution. It tries to hold together two diametrically opposed positions. Just as the slave trade clause in the US Constitution cast slavery in a negative light, so too the ICPD caveats cast abortion in a negative light. But just as the fugitive slave clause in the US Constitution legitimized slavery, so too the ICPD agreement legitimized abortion. This is why the pro-life movement cannot be content so long as the current ICPD compromise on abortion remains in place. There is no political or bureaucratic compromise pro-lifers can ever feel comfortable with so long as children are killed in the womb.

The Holy See's efforts to undermine the ICPD compromise for over twenty years are the template that pro-lifers should follow. Unlike States that hid their conscience behind their sovereign territorial limits and the non-binding character of UN agreements, the Holy See had to fulfill its moral duty to show solicitude for unborn children wherever they may be and at all times, and has never been content with the status quo. Consequently, it has steadfastly contested the inclusion of "sexual and reproductive health" as well as related terms like "reproductive rights" in UN agreements.

Dozens of nations have followed the lead of the Holy See, including the United States under the Bush administration. Most recently, the entirety of both the African Group and the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as several countries individually, made reservations on these terms when the General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015.

But the pro-life movement needs to ratchet up pressure on UN delegations to contest the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health in UN policy altogether until they are redefined to exclude abortion. This is not a quibble about the current definitions of UN policy, as some have suggested. It is about taking abortion out of UN policy altogether. Sadly, even as international policy and institutions threaten the unborn in ways previously thought unimaginable, some pro-life groups don't think this is a battle worth fighting.

We Cannot Surrender International Norms to the Abortion Industry

While it is understandable that pro-life groups are demoralized after the relentless pounding we received under the Obama administration, getting abortion out of UN policy is not an unattainable goal, as some have argued. On the contrary, it must be the primary goal of the pro-life cause internationally. Roughly one third of UN member states are highly protective of children in the womb. These are the same nations that have expressed reservations about sexual and reproductive health generally or abortion more specifically. Last week, the U.S. State Department published its first review of the Mexico City Policy and found that it was overwhelmingly accepted by USAID partners. Only four abortion groups refused to accept the conditions of the policy. Just this should be indication enough that it is possible to exclude abortion from UN policy.

Because of the power and influence that the United States wields internationally, the United States alone can supply the political will and impetus to end abortion. The ICPD agreement itself could never have included abortion in UN policy without pressure from the Clinton administration. The Trump administration has already made some important steps to bring back the UN debate over abortion back to pre-Obama era fault lines, by asking to qualify the term "sexual and reproductive health" by reference to the ICPD agreement in at least some recent international agreements. This is essential to prevent the development of an international right to abortion, and must remain the fallback position for the US delegation. But more must be done to reclaim international norms.

The Trump administration should now escalate the normative struggle at the United Nations and in other international fora to lay the foundations for taking out abortion from UN policy altogether. The best way for this to happen is to categorically oppose the inclusion of the term "sexual and reproductive health" in UN policy unless it is defined to expressly exclude abortion. So long as this does not happen, the US administration should insist on referring to the major components of sexual and reproductive health policy that do not involve the killing of an innocent child instead, chiefly, maternal health, family planning, and HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention.

Continuing to include the term "sexual and reproductive health" in UN policy and merely making reservations is simply not going to hurt the abortion industry enough. Reservations from the Holy See make a fine moral point and help Holy See diplomats avoid scandal. Reservations from the US delegations to the United Nations look great in the pro-life press, as under the Bush administration and the Trump administration currently. They also make the case against abortion as an international right. But programmatically they are useless. When they become necessary, it is because UN policy already includes abortion. The damage is done, and the money and political will for children to be killed in the womb has already been spent.

In this sense, falling back on reservations has actually harmed the pro-life cause. Reservations have acted as a moral palliative that has allowed the cancer of sexual and reproductive health to metastasize in UN policy. They are especially convenient for UN delegations that do not have the moral fortitude or political backing to make a principled stand for the human rights of the unborn. They allow delegations that should otherwise be opposed to abortion in UN policy because of their country's laws to sign on to agreements that give political and financial support to abortion groups.

An Appeal to President Trump

We find ourselves at a pivotal moment in the history of the pro-life movement internationally. And it requires President Trump to once again challenge the status quo. His willingness to defy the seemingly unassailable orthodoxies of government bureaucracies is a cause for hope.

While the abortion industry has not been able to create a right to abortion, it has succeeded in securing political and financial support through UN sexual and reproductive health policy and the UN system. If this continues, the abortion industry will expand its political influence, with deadly consequences for children in the womb.

We have reached a tipping point. International policy on abortion must change. And it can change in one of two ways. Either abortion will be taken out of UN policy altogether, or it will be enshrined as an international right.

It is not enough to defend life through reservations and symbolic political gestures. Nor is it enough to go back to the status quo before Obama took over the White House. President Trump must be helped to make his time in office count. The pro-life movement must insist on results and victories until abortion becomes history.

Stefano Gennarini is the Director of Legal Studies at the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) in New York. He tweets as @prolifeadvocate. The views expressed in this article are the author's and are not necessarily the views of C-Fam.

Published with permission from The Public Discourse.

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Joseph Sciambra

Opinion,

Pro-gay Fr. Martin’s latest: Officially promoting same-sex couples at Mass

Joseph Sciambra
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March 7, 2018 (Joseph Sciambra) – On March 6, 2018, Jesuit James Martin released a new promotional video introducing the Revised and Expanded edition of his controversial book "Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity." He states that the new edition contains "more stories...stories from LGBT Catholics that I've met." He includes six of those "stories;" one in particular concerns his friend Mark; in a recent interview with America Magazine, Martin said:

One of my oldest friends is a gay man named Mark, who was once a member of a Catholic religious order. About 20 years ago, after Mark left the order, he came out as a gay man and began living with his partner, with whom he is now legally married. His partner has a serious, long-term illness, and Mark has cared for him for many years with great devotion and loving-kindness.

What can we learn from Mark about love?

In the promotional video, when Martin describes Mark's relationship with another man, an image (see above) of two men wearing wedding rings and holding hands appears on the screen. Later, several scenes from the "Owning Our Faith" video series produced by the "Out at St. Paul" LGBT ministry, hosted by the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City, are incorporated into Martin's video; they include a shot (see below) of the Catholic parish during Mass, with the same-sex "married" couple, Rick and Matt Vidal, holding hands; the couple are prominently featured in the initial "Owning Our Faith" video which highlighted the testimonies of several Out At St. Paul members. In the couple's video interview, Matt Vidal stated:

If we leave it, if we abandon the Church then it's never going to change. So we have to continue living here, being an example and encouraging other people to be that example because that's what's going to change the Church.

During his August 29, 2017 visit to Villanova University, James Martin spoke with gay Catholic journalist Brandon Ambrosino. In his interview with Martin, Ambrosino shared some of his struggles about being gay and Catholic; Ambrosino is a graduate student in theology at Villanova and currently engaged to his same-sex partner. In particular, Ambrosino mentioned the anxiety he experienced over his own personal reluctance to express physical affection for his partner in church during the "kiss of peace." Martin sympathized and said:

...So I hope in ten years you will be able to kiss your partner or soon to be your husband. Why not? What's the terrible thing?

Another young man who is pictured (see below) in the Martin promo video is Matthew Putorti. In his video testimony for "Owning Our Faith," he said:

I think what's interesting is that the Catholic Church probably thinks that it is accepting of gay people, because its message is 'gay people exist and we should love them and not discriminate against them. But because the Church also tells gay people essentially that they need to be celibate, what the Church is saying is 'you cannot live fully. You can be gay but you can't live that life.' And so that inherently is discriminatory.

Xorje Olivares, also pictured (see below) in Martin's promo video, is a prominent member of "Out at St. Paul" and an outspoken gay advocate and blogger.

In 2017, Olivares said in an interview:

I never felt this call to be celibate. I was surrounded by straight people and all the good kids were going to church, but you knew they were having sex anyway. So why do they get a pass but people like me don't? I thought, well if he said God created me this way, then what issue would be taken with however way I choose to express myself? Now that I've become part of the particular church group that I'm in, this conversation about how unrealistic it is for LGBTQ+ people to be called to the celibate life when no one else is adhering to that. Straight people within the church are trying to control our lives because they want to be able to control it and make our sexuality more palatable for them, but more difficult for us to actually live it.

On July 16, 2017, James Martin, addressed "Out at St. Paul;" he had previously spoken to the group on March 2, 2017. In the past, Out at St. Paul sponsored and promoted a Mass at the site of the Stonewall Riots"countertraditions" to Adam and Eve, and an outing to a local gay bar. On several occasions, Martin has recommended both the Parish and Out at St. Paul (see video interview, and a Facebook live discussion.) Following his July appearance at Out at St Paul, to publicize the first edition of "Building a Bridge" Martin posted pictures to his Facebook account from the event and thanked the following:

Thanks to Fr. Gil Martinez, CSP, the pastor; Xorje Olivares and everyone at "Out at St. Paul's," the LGBT outreach group at the parish; and everyone who came to the "Building a Bridge" event tonight. 

Martinez is the Pastor at St. Paul the Apostle and the chaplain for Out at St. Paul. He had been an outspoken supporter of the group, specifically promoting the "Owning Our Faith" video series. In addition to Out At St. Paul Members, the series also includes interviews with dissident nun Jeannine Gramick who was officially sanctioned by the Vatican in 1999 and permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexuals and Warren Hall, a self-outed "gay" priest.

Published with permission from Joseph Sciambra.

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Pope Francis with Islamist Turkish president Recep Erdogan
William Kilpatrick

Opinion, ,

The Vatican is being duped into making the Islamist agenda its own

William Kilpatrick

March 6, 2018 (Turning Point Project) –Considering how much emphasis modern churchmen put on trust, it’s worth noting that the Bible does not have much to say about trusting others.

Of course, the Bible tells us to trust in God, but there is no corresponding command to trust our fellow men. Of the six references to “trust” in the RSV Reader’s Concordance, five have to do with trusting God, and the sixth tells us to “put not your trust in princes.”

Likewise, although we are told to “love your neighbor as yourself,” we are not told to “trust your neighbor as yourself.” Most of us know that we can’t always trust ourselves. Consequently, we should exercise caution about placing too much trust in others—especially those we don’t know well. The reason we need to be careful about trusting ourselves and others is original sin—man’s inborn tendency to choose evil over good. As has often been noted, original sin is the most readily verifiable Christian doctrine. Just read the history books or watch the evening news.

By modern therapeutic standards, Christ himself would appear to be insufficiently trusting. Despite his great love for mankind, he had no illusions about fallen human nature. He referred to Herod as “that fox,” he called the scribes and Pharisees a “brood of vipers,” and he knew that Peter would betray him.

Today’s Church authorities seem positively Pollyannaish in comparison. Their rosy view of human nature seems based, not so much on the Bible as on Jean Jacques Rousseau—Rousseau and other advocates of natural goodness such as psychologists Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers.

How else to explain the willingness of Church leaders to put their trust in an assortment of rogue dictators, apocalyptic ayatollahs, wanabee caliphs, and oppressive communist regimes?

In an article “On the Vatican’s reported capitulation to Beijing,” George Weigel discusses the probability that the Church will give in to demands that the communist government be given a role in the appointment of Catholic bishops. Weigel says that “prudence and caution would seem to be the order of the day in Vatican negotiations with the totalitarians in charge in Beijing,” but prudence doesn’t seen to be a high priority for Vatican officials. Rather, the Vatican seems to be trusting in the power of dialogue and the good will of the Chinese government.

But, as Weigel points out, the Church has good reason not to trust totalitarian regimes. He cites a number of Church agreements with communist governments that didn’t work to the Church’s advantage. Among them:

The Catholic hierarchy in Hungary became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hungarian Communist Party.

In what was then Czechoslovakia, regime-friendly Catholics became prominent in the Church while the underground Czechoslovak Church of faithful Catholics struggled to survive…

In addition to communist China, the Vatican also seems to be placing a good deal of unwarranted trust in various totalitarian Islamic regimes. The Vatican endorsed the deceptive and highly problematic Iran deal, and overlooked the oppressive crackdown on the recent protests across Iran. Christians lead a precarious existence in Iran, and a woman can be jailed for failing to wear a hijab, but, according to an article in Crux, “recent months have brought clear signs of alignment between Rome and Tehran on matters large and small.”

The Vatican is also on good terms with Turkish president Recep Erdogan despite Erdogan’s increasingly dictatorial behavior. On Erdogan’s recent visit to the Vatican, Pope Francis gave him an “angel of peace” medallion while, outside, hundreds of demonstrators protested Turkey’s assault on Kurdish forces in Syria. In July, 2016, after a failed coup attempt in Turkey, Erdogan launched a brutal crackdown which included the arrest of over 50,000 people. Critics charge that Erdogan himself manufactured the coup in order to provide an excuse to purge the government and media of political opponents.

In addition, Erdogan, who has dreams of restoring the Ottoman caliphate, has just about completed the re-Islamization of Turkey, and he is one of the key players in the ongoing Islamization of Europe. Nevertheless, during their “cordial” meeting, the two leaders found several areas of agreement including opposition to moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and the need to fight “Islamophobia” in the West.

Erdogan asked Pope Francis to help lead a concerted, international effort to battle “Islamophobia,” but he need hardly have bothered, since Francis is already one of the chief defenders of Islam against its critics. At a July meeting in Egypt, Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, thanked the Pope for his “defense of Islam against the accusation of violence and terrorism.”

The Vatican’s trusting attitude toward Islam can also be seen in its promotion of Muslim migration into Europe, and its harsh criticism of Christians who fail to muster a sufficiently welcoming attitude. Considering that mass Muslim migration has already led to unprecedented levels of crime, chaos, and terrorism, the Vatican’s continued encouragement of it would seem to require an unusual degree of trust. It almost seems that some Church leaders have forgotten about original sin, or else have convinced themselves that by some sort of mysterious “immaculate conception,” third-worlders are born without it.

The dictionary provides many synonyms for the term, “trusting soul,” and none of them are complimentary. A “trusting soul” is a “gullible person,” an “innocent,” “a babe-in-the-woods,” “a credulous person,” and a “greenhorn.” The bishop’s primary role is that of shepherd. That’s what the crook they carry symbolizes. But shepherds can’t afford to be overly trusting. They need to be on the lookout for wolves and other threats to the flock.

It sometimes seems that many of today’s bishops are unaware of the existence of wolves. Take this trusting passage from the USCCB’s statement on “Dialogue with Muslims”:

Perhaps most importantly, our work together has forged true bonds of friendship that are supported by mutual esteem and an ever-growing trust that enables us to speak candidly with one another in an atmosphere of respect. Through dialogue we have been able to work through and overcome much of our mutual ignorance, habitual distrust, and debilitating fear.

For those who remember that Chamberlain trusted Hitler, and Roosevelt trusted “Uncle” Joe Stalin, it’s not necessarily reassuring to hear that Catholic dialoguers have developed an “ever-growing trust” in their Muslim counterparts. The trouble is that they risk losing the trust and confidence of their fellow Catholics if they continue on their trusting spree with people of dubious connections. Most of the people they are dialoguing with are members of Muslim Brotherhood-linked organizations such as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). To a doubter like myself, all the various Islamic activist organizations could be lumped under a single acronym. Let’s call it ISAW—short for “I See A Wolf.”

Doubting souls may be forgiven if they suspect that the bishops are being “played” by their counterparts into accepting the Muslim victimhood narrative while ignoring the Muslim victimization of Christians. How else to explain that Church leaders seem more interested in fighting “Islamophobia” than in protecting persecuted Christians? Groups such as the Knights of Columbus have done far more to call attention to the plight of Christians in Muslim lands than have the American bishops.

Among the more unflattering synonyms for “trusting soul” are “fall guy,” “stooge” and “dupe.” It’s beginning to look as though the bishops of the West, along with the Bishop of Rome have been duped into acting as apologists for, and enablers of Islam. In their anxiousness to accommodate, they have made the Islamist agenda their own.

We are well-advised to put our trust in God, but we are ill-advised to trust in people and governments who haven’t earned it. We are also ill-advised to place our trust in those Christian leaders who seem to believe that trust is one of the seven virtues.

Trust is not one of the seven, but prudence is. And unless Church leaders develop a spirit of prudence in their approach to totalitarian governments and totalitarian ideologies, they risk betraying the trust of the faithful.

Put not your trust in trustful souls.

This article originally appeared in the February 20, 2018 edition of Crisis and is re-published with permission of the author.

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