Catholic MP challenges BBC host’s ‘bigotry’ as she questions him over faith
Two bishops agreed with MP Jacob Rees-Mogg that the line of questioning was a form of religious bigotry.
Wed May 23, 2018 - 8:11 pm EST
By Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger
UNITED KINGDOM, May 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- The BBC is coming under fire after a journalist suggested a Conservative Member of Parliament’s Catholic belief in marriage presented a “problem” for holding his office.
During a recent interview, Jo Coburn asked if Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg could support Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who is pregnant and engaged to another woman, for future leadership positions. Rees-Mogg said he had no problem “at all” with Davidson’s personal life and that it was “wonderful” that she was expecting a child, but he said that any endorsement for a hypothetical future vacancy would be premature.
However, when Rees-Mogg added that as a Catholic he could not support her same-sex “marriage,” Coburn suggested he was the one whose lifestyle disqualified him from a political career.
“Can you see that that is a problem for many people if you’re going to be a senior politician,” she asked, “that you hold those views about some of your colleagues who want to be married and are gay?”
Rees-Mogg responded that he “make(s) no criticism of any of my colleagues, but do you believe in religious tolerance?” Coburn answered that she did, to which the MP asked, “Why do you pick on the views of the Catholic Church?”
Coburn rephrased her critique as “there are people who might have a problem with it,” but Rees-Mogg summarized her contention as “tolerance only goes so far and you should not be tolerant of the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
“So isn’t this stretching into religious bigotry?” he asked.
"It is really important to get to the heart of this because this country believes in religious tolerance. We are a very tolerant nation,” Rees-Mogg declared. “And the act of tolerance is to tolerate things you do not agree with not just ones you do agree with and the problem with liberal tolerance is it has got to the point of only tolerating what it likes.”
Coburn again attempted to distance herself from her original question, suggesting she was raising a question from the MP’s “colleagues” rather than herself. But he remained defiant.
“The Catholic Church, of great antiquity, has taught these things,” he said. “And it is absolutely legitimate that Catholics in public life, in private life, believe and accept the teaching of the Catholic Church, as it is for Muslims to believe the teachings of Islam, and likewise for Anglicans, and also for agnostics and atheists.”
Rees-Mogg said simply that it would be up to voters to decide for themselves whether religious beliefs are a barrier to office, “but what’s important is that I should be honest with voters about my views and make no bones about the fact that I am a practicing Catholic.”
As for whether he would like to change the country’s laws on same-sex “marriage” and abortion, Rees-Mogg said government ultimately had to follow society’s lead.
“I think it is a deep, deep sadness that there were 190,000 abortions in this country in 2016. I think it is one of the great tragedies of the modern world, and I think it would be a wonderful thing if society came to a different view on abortion,” he said. However, “I don’t see that happening, and I don’t think changing the law, when society overwhelmingly thinks something different, is going to achieve it.”
After the segment, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury denounced the BBC for “hounding” Rees-Mogg over his faith. “It is hard to see this treatment of Catholic politicians as being other than a new bigotry.”
Bishop John Keenan of Paisley agreed, calling out Coburn for attempting to “hide” her “secular bigotry” behind “the old red-herrings of ‘other people say.’”
“In short, that Catholics like Rees-Mogg simply can’t be Prime Minister because it’s just not British in this day and age,” Keenan continued, and the Conservative MP was correct to “point out that this aggressive secularism has nothing liberal about it.”
This is not the first time Catholics have faulted the BBC for anti-Catholic bias. Last month, Keenan denounced it for a social media video mocking Holy Communion, saying the Host “tastes like cardboard” and “smells like hate.”
“It is ridiculing and demeaning the faith of ordinary Catholics, especially at a time when Catholics are experiencing more and more abuse and prejudice in Scotland,” the bishop explained at the time. “You cannot imagine it treating any other religion like this.”
Trump funding ban forces international abortion giants to cut African operations
Marie Stopes International and the International Planned Parenthood Federation have shut down hundreds of programs.
Wed May 23, 2018 - 6:40 pm EST
By Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger
AFRICA, May 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- Two of the world’s most prolific abortion performers have been forced to partially shut down their operations in Africa, thanks to one of Donald Trump’s earliest actions as president.
The UK-based Marie Stopes International (MSI) has closed 22 of its 62 Madagascar-based outreach teams, 17 of its 35 in Uganda, and 600 of its 1,200 in Zimbabwe, Church Militant reported. The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has closed 22 programs in sub-Saharan Africa. Both groups will also be canceling programs in Togo, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso.
"Commitments have been made, but the money has not been forthcoming," IPPF's Kwamboka team complained. "This reliance on aid from other countries (…) cannot go on."
The abortion giants’ financial woes stem from Trump’s reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy last year, which bars the United States’ $8.8 billion in foreign aid from being distributed to entities that perform abortions. Since Ronald Reagan conceived the policy, each president routinely reverses his opposing-party predecessor’s decision on it upon taking office, although Trump took the additional step of expanding it to groups that promote or discuss it.
The policy requires foreign aid recipients to certify that they will not "perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in foreign countries or provide financial support to any other foreign (NGO) that conducts such activities."
The left-wing organization calling itself Human Rights Watch claims the Mexico City Policy has a “devastating impact” because it also deprives countries of the nutrition, vaccination, child care, and other disease treatment services provided by the organizations that refuse to comply.
However, MSI and IPPF are two of only four non-government organizations (NGO) that have rejected the funds, and the aid money continues to be distributed to 733 other NGOs. Further, it is MSI and IPPF who ultimately chose to forgo the money in exchange for continuing abortions.
Mark Green, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has testified before Congress that while it is impossible to financially meet all of the world’s needs, “(e)verything we are trying to do is to work with country partners on their journey to self-reliance – these countries one day should lead their own development.”
In addition, a 2010 report found that in Ethiopia, for instance, the Mexico City Policy has had a positive impact on the population’s understanding of abortion by leading to people to ask, “If abortion is a positive development for Ethiopian women’s health, then why does the U.S. government not support it?”
Restoring the Mexico City Policy was the first of numerous pro-life actions the Trump administration has taken, including pro-life judicial and administrative appointees, rolling back the Obamacare abortifacient coverage mandate, opening a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood, supporting abstinence education and religious liberty protections, advocating a ban on late-term abortions, and most recently cutting abortion facilities off from more than $50 million per year in family planning funds.
GLAAD attacks Marvel, DC for excluding LGBT elements in superhero films
The pro-homosexual group is not happy with what its 2017 report called a 'significant decrease in the number of LGBTQ-inclusive films.'
Wed May 23, 2018 - 6:13 pm EST
By Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger
May 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- The pro-homosexual lobbying group GLAAD released its annual “Studio Responsibility Index” grading 2017 film releases for inclusion of LGBT characters and themes, and found last year’s slate of superhero blockbusters wanting.
Overall, the report found a “significant decrease in the number of LGBTQ-inclusive films distributed by major studios in 2017 – down to 14 from 23 the previous year.” The number ties for the “fewest number of inclusive releases since GLAAD began tracking in 2012.” The group also complained about the “complete lack of transgender characters in major studio releases.”
Pro-family activists have noted that GLAAD’s previous work on the subject ignores the fact that Hollywood’s percentage of homosexual characters still tends to dramatically exceed their actual share of the U.S. population.
GLAAD grades 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony, Universal, Walt Disney, and Warner Bros. all as “poor,” “failing,” or “insufficient.” In response, it demands that all seven studios “make sure that 20 percent of annual major studio releases include LGBTQ characters by 2021, and that 50 percent of films include LGBTQ characters by 2024.”
In particular, the report complained that “LGBTQ people remain almost completely shut out of Hollywood’s big budget comic films,” despite the increasing regularity of such characters in comic books. Specifically, the report called out last year’s Wonder Woman, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
GLAAD claimed the film debut for DC Comics heroine Wonder Woman should have followed writer Greg Rucka’s 2016 decision to depict her as bisexual in the books. “Being an out and proud bi woman would be in line with her ideals to fully live her own truth and recognize all parts of herself,” the report argued. However, the character has been depicted as straight for the vast majority of her 76-year history, and the movie paired her with her most iconic love interest, pilot Steve Trevor.
Marvel Studios’ third Thor film received a failing grade because it “included two prominent characters who are bisexual and queer respectively in the Marvel source comics: Valkyrie and Korg,” but “did not include any references to their identities or love interests.” Further, director Taika Waititi filmed a scene in which a woman exits Valkyrie’s bedroom but omitted it from the film (nor was it included in the Blu-ray deleted scenes). Actress Tessa Thompson says it was ultimately rejected for distracting from plot exposition, but whether studio intervention played a role is unknown.
The report also chided the Guardians sequel for its lack of LGBT characters, despite director James Gunn suggesting “(w)e might have already done that” because the film has so many diverse characters that audiences are free to infer their sexuality for themselves; and the latest Spider-Man film for prioritizing racial diversity but ignoring “LGBTQ” diversity.
Notably, these results come despite Marvel’s parent company Disney actively promoting the homosexual agenda in its parks and TV programming. This, paired with GLAAD’s mention that superhero television shows “regularly include LGBTQ characters,” suggests that studios’ resistance to doing the same with their motives is not a principled stand but an attempt to avoid getting edited or banned in the lucrative Chinese market.
However, there is reason to suspect domestic audiences are growing wary of “representation,” as well. In addition to GLAAD’s acknowledgement that LGBT movie characters have hit a record low, despite increasing celebration of homosexuality in other areas of society, Marvel has canceled all three of its comic book series that won GLAAD awards last year, citing poor sales. Last year, the publisher faced backlash from comic retailers for harming their business with their content’s “social justice” emphasis, and has reportedly pledged to deemphasize politics moving forward.
In March, GLAAD found that America’s LGBT acceptance has actually begun to decrease, which social conservatives attribute to the LGBT lobby’s transition from “live and let live” arguments to infringing on the religious, conscience, and privacy rights of Americans who disagree with them.
Belarus’ interior ministry blasts UK for flying rainbow flag at embassy
The former Soviet nation, which supports 'traditional family values,' condemned the International Day Against Homophobia display.
Wed May 23, 2018 - 5:38 pm EST
By Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger
MINSK, Belarus, May 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- The Belarusian government is not pleased that the United Kingdom’s embassy in its country flew a rainbow flag to celebrate homosexuality.
Last week, the embassy posted to social media a video of the flag flying to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, and “direct society's attention to the discrimination that LGBT people encounter constantly.”
But the Belarusian interior ministry has since issued a statement declaring that the flag contradicted the majority of Belarusians’ support for “traditional family values,” the UK Telegraph reported.
“Supporters of single-sex relationships furiously argue their position, despite the principles and traditions that have formed in society. But however you spin it, single-sex relationships are fake,” the ministry’s statement continued. “And the essence of a fake is always the same, to devalue the truth. The LGBT community and the whole struggle for its rights and this community's day itself are all just fake!”
Belarus decriminalized homosexuality after breaking away from the former Soviet Union in 1990, although it continues to reject same-sex “marriage,” and has long resisted the homosexual agenda on the international stage.
“Belarus is based on the foundation of the traditional institutes of the family and marriage,” the interior ministry continued, noting that only the union of a man and woman yields children. “For this reason, the government is protecting this union, putting it under special protection, giving it exclusive rights, including in the political and legal aspects.”
"The initiative of a foreign state to create problems where they do not exist cannot be called good,” the government argued. The British embassy declined to respond.
WINDSOR, Ontario, May 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A biological male who says he’s a “woman” has filed a human rights complaint against a hair-removal spa in Ontario. The male claims he was discriminated against after he couldn’t get a Brazilian wax because the Muslim woman on staff doesn’t wax the male genital area for religious reasons.
The anonymous trans "woman" complainant alleges Mad Wax Spa in Windsor, Ontario, denied him services because of his gender identity and expression. The male is seeking $50,000 compensation for the “immense harm to my dignity,” CTV Windsor reported.
In his application to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, the complainant states he called the spa to ask about a leg wax, according to CTV Windsor.
But spa manager, president and CEO Jason Carruthers told PJ Media the man specifically asked about a Brazilian wax, which involves stripping off all pubic hair.
“She [sic] never once asked for a leg wax [from] us,” Carruthers said. “She [sic] said, ‘Women have penises and women have balls and if your staff is not comfortable then they can look for another job.’ That is clearly referring to a Brazilian wax, which involves the genitals.”
The complainant “only mentioned ‘leg wax’ after the story got out,” he added. “My guess is she [sic] was embarrassed to admit she [sic] wanted a Brazilian.”
According to the Windsor Star, the complainant alleged he called the spa on March 17, 2018, and spoke to an employee, asking explicitly whether it provided services for transgender "women." He then asked to speak to the owner.
Carruthers called the complainant back and told him the only employee on staff that day was a practising Muslim, who for religious convictions avoided any physical contact with men outside her family.
The employee who did male waxing was off sick, Carruthers told the Star, but in any event, his all-women staff does only back and leg waxes for men.
“When we’ve been asked about a male Brazilian wax in the past we tell them we’re not able to provide that service and they move on,” Carruthers said. “It’s never been a issue.”
The anonymous transgender also alleged in his complaint that he “offered to educate the manager on his duty to accommodate” him.
“All clients regardless of sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation are welcome,” countered Carruthers in a statement.
"However, we also welcome staff members and respect their religious beliefs and feelings of safety and dignity in regards to the right not to perform waxing services on males or male genitals.”
Carruthers decided to go public to defend Mad Wax’s reputation after a video disparaging the spa was reportedly posted online, and the complainant allegedly threatened to create a “media circus,” he told the Windsor Star.
He also hired lawyer Ray Colautti, who told the Star the Ontario Human Tribunal will arrange a meeting between the two parties and a mediator. If the issue is not resolved at that time, the tribunal will schedule an official hearing.
The transgender complainant also alleged in his human rights application that the spa’s “refusal to provide me with leg-waxing services because I am a Transgender woman, and their disclosing my name, gender identity and personal information to various media outlets has left me feeling threatened, exposed, with my rights violated in terms of seeking services as a woman in the Windsor-Essex community.”
The complainant referred media to his Toronto lawyer, Megan Evans Maxwell.
“There’s not much I can say right now because the matter is before the tribunal,” Evans Maxwell told the Windsor Star.
PJ Media noted the Federalist’s Kaeley Triller Haver tweeted the situation was “Holy #rapeculture”.
ROME, May 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A "crisis of truth" in the Church today has put divine law and human freedom in opposition to each other, allowing a “creative” conscience to decide what is good and what is evil, a Catholic philosophy professor warned at the Rome Life Forum last week.
Professor Isobel Camp of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) demonstrated in her talk how the teaching of St. John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor opposes the notion of the autonomous conscience and its “justifying power” to determine what is good and what is evil. In reality, she argued, the conscience relies not on itself but on the truths of divine law.
Camp explained that in Veritatis Splendor, St. John Paul II affirmed doctrine “placing conscience within the harmonious relationship of [divine] law and [human] freedom.” The professor noted how John Paul II underscored that “there can never be an opposition between the law and freedom which allows a creative conscience to decide what is good and what is evil.”
The Polish pontiff cautioned, she said, against theological trends that placed this “creative conscience” above the Church’s tradition and magisterium.
“These differing schools of thought view a seeming tension or opposition between the law and freedom,” Camp said. “The law is seen as authoritarian, juxtaposed against a notion of freedom ‘which is exalted to the point of idolatry’.”
“Such a separation results in theories of a creative conscience which ‘diverge from the Church’s tradition and her Magisterium’,” she continued.
“Then [John Paul] explains that tensions or dualism between law and freedom leads to a creative conscience: ‘[t]hus the individual conscience is handed the status of a supreme tribunal of moral judgment which hands down categorical and infallible statements about good and evil.”
She noted how the pontiff warned that some authors had even allowed conscience a “creativity” that establishes an opposition between divine law and “the concrete action,” leading to a “kind of double status of moral truth.”
A privileging of “the concrete” could be used to permit a person to do “in good conscience” what is judged as “intrinsically evil by the moral law,” she said, quoting the sainted pope.
“A separation, or even an opposition, is thus established in some cases between the teaching of the precept, which is valid in general, and the norm of the individual conscience, which would in fact make the final decision about what is good and what is evil.”
Camp did not mention Pope Francis’ 2016 exhortation Amoris Laetitia by name, but indicated that John Paul II seemed to anticipate the controversial document when he said this final decision-making power of the conscience was being used as an excuse to make “so-called ‘pastoral’ solutions” contrary to Church doctrine:
“On this basis, an attempt is made to legitimize so-called ‘pastoral’ solutions contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium, and to justify a ‘creative’ hermeneutic according to which the moral conscience is in no way obliged, in every case, by a negative precept,” Camp said, quoting John Paul II. The Sixth Commandment prohibiting adultery is an example of a negative precept. According to the Christian faith, there are no exceptions to negative precepts.
The professor explained how in Veritatis Splendor, John Paul II portrayed the alarming moral consequences attached to the notion of an autonomous (self-justifying) conscience. The end result is that the conscience, no longer dependent upon divine law, “determines what will bring happiness.”
Using the story of the “rich young ruler” from Matthew 19, Camp pointed out that eternal life, or beatitude, begins in obeying God’s commandments (Matt 19:16). In order to achieve beatitude, the person needs, and has been given, orientation from his Creator. Natural law, which is founded on the natural inclinations of the human heart, is a participation in divine wisdom, Camp explained.
“According to the encyclical, the natural law which inscribes universal moral norms is considered a participation in the divine wisdom and the divine governance of the universe,” she said. “Thus it is appropriate to call natural law a law. Also, St. Thomas [Aquinas] does not speak of the natural law as derived; instead he describes the natural law as founded upon natural inclination.”
Camp said that we have a primal awareness of truth; we have an inbred practical reason including such principles as “do good and do evil.” This has been given to us by our Creator, who, while giving us the means and freedom to participate in apprehensions of the good, is the final arbiter of the good.
“Man has an initial determination to the good in order that he can choose particular goods presented to the mind,” Camp explained. “Man cannot create truth ex nihilo and thus cannot create his own morality.”
“Even when he tries to create his own morality, it is always on the perversion of human nature,” she continued. “[H]e cannot ultimately free himself from the reality of good and evil; even if he may desire to call good evil and evil good, he is always torn between that which is good or not, that which ought or not to be done.”
GALWAY, Ireland, May 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Many Irish citizens may have changed their pro-life stance after being misled to believe a pregnant Indian woman died in an Irish hospital because she was not allowed an abortion.
Critics say Savita Halappanavar’s 2012 death has been exploited by abortion activists to influence this week's referendum that could impose abortion-on-demand on a historically pro-life country. Critics say Ireland’s abortion laws had nothing to do with Savita’s death.
Three official investigations found that Savita, 31, died of sepsis – a blood infection – caused by “extremely virulent bacteria,” E. coli ESBL. Under Ireland’s abortion laws, the woman would have been permitted an abortion had doctors realized how sick she was when she came to the hospital.
“First and foremost, this was a subsequent medical negligence case,” Ireland’s Lawyers for Life stated in a Facebook post last week. “This was well reported in the media at the time of the medical negligence court case.”
On May 25, Irish citizens will vote in a referendum to repeal or save Ireland’s pro-life Eighth Amendment. At present Irish mothers and babies have an equal right to life. Abortion is permissible if the presence of the unborn child in her womb directly endangers the life of the mother.
Lawyers for Life underscored that Savita's death had nothing to do with abortion, but instead was a case of medical negligence.
“This had NOTHING whatever to do with abortion and was down to very poor health care which resulted in the subsequent medical negligence court case,” said the organization.
Lawyers for Life said it was “unhelpful and misleading” for people to continue to refer to Savita’s death as if it were the result of Ireland’s constitutional protection of the unborn child, when in fact medical negligence was to blame.
Ireland’s Life Institute has published a detailed account of Savita Halappanavar’s treatment in Galway University Hospital. The report can be read here in full.
“The inquiries found that Savita’s case had been medically mismanaged in the hospital, with the HIQA [Health Information and Quality Authority] inquiry pointing to 13 missed opportunities to save her life," states the account.
By the time the medical team realized Savita's condition and started her on the appropriate treatment, it was already too late to save her as the infection had already spread and her organs were affected.
"A consultant at the inquest, Dr. Peter Kelahan, said that her level of infection was incredibly high and exceedingly rare and that Savita had the worst case of sepsis he had seen in 30 years," states the account.
“Her condition continued to deteriorate throughout Saturday and on the morning of Sunday, 28th October 2012, Savita Halappanavar passed away. Her cause of death was documented as multi-organ failure from E.coli ESBL septicaemia."
Recent polls suggest that the Friday's referendum hangs in a balance and could swing either way.
OTTAWA, May 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Catholic teaching on intercommunion can’t change whether or not German bishops reach a consensus to allow it, says Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa.
“This kind of open communion is against Catholic teaching and from what I can see in non-Catholic congregations that follow a discipline of ‘open communion,’ it is also spiritually and pastorally unfruitful,” the Jesuit archbishop told the Catholic Register’s Deborah Gyapong in an interview.
“It is puzzling to learn that the Holy Father told the bishops that whatever they determine is acceptable as long as they all agree,” he said.
“Even more important is the challenge to remain faithful to Catholic doctrine and not to propose practices that undermine the faith, and the need to foster loyalty and communion with the universal Church.”
Three-quarters of the German bishops voted in February on a proposal to allow non-Catholic spouses to receive Holy Communion under certain circumstances, but a minority disagreed.
When a delegation of German bishops both for and against the proposal went to Rome May 3 for direction, the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith relayed the message from Pope Francis that they return home and seek “unanimous” agreement, if possible, on the question.
In response, Cardinal Willem Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht and head of the Catholic Church in the Netherlands, asked the pope to clarify the matter an open letter May 5.
Eijk’s letter explained both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Canon Law do not permit intercommunion with Protestants.
In the English-version of his letter published by the National Catholic Register, Eijk wrote he found the pontiff’s response to the German bishops “utterly incomprehensible,” and warned the pope could be setting the Catholic Church on a “drift to apostasy.”
Prendergast told the Catholic Register the intercommunion debate hits the limit of what the Church can propose in varying pastoral practices.
“Pope Francis is right when he says that not every theological debate needs to be settled by authoritative interventions of the papal magisterium,” Prendergast said.
“And Cardinal Eijk is right when he says that the question of intercommunion is a doctrinal matter that cannot be settled by an isolated decision of a national conference of bishops.”
The question of intercommunion with Protestants “is, in fact, a classical situation of discerning between things that are changeable — or possible — and others that are not,” the archbishop observed.
“It seems clear by now that many bishops and Catholics in the world consider ill-advised and doctrinally impossible what a number of bishops in Germany have proposed,” he said.
The German bishops’ majority voted that a Protestant spouse be granted permission to receive Holy Communion if, after a “serious examination” of conscience with a priest or another person with pastoral responsibilities, he or she could “affirm the faith of the Catholic Church,” wished to end “serious spiritual distress,” and had a “longing to satisfy a hunger for the Eucharist.”
At the time, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, made clear the proposal did not require the Protestant spouse to convert to Catholicism.
“Receiving the Eucharist is intrinsically linked to the faith, my personal faith and the faith of the community to which I belong,” Prendergast pointed out.
“What the majority of bishops in Germany proposes means that a person who does not belong to the Catholic Church routinely, perhaps every Sunday, receives the Eucharist in the Catholic Church.”
Prendergast noted the “church is a close-knit network,” and people in his archdiocese are asking about the intercommunion debate.
It’s a chance for Canadian Catholics to look at their own practices regarding Communion, he said.
Catholics in Canada “generally know that receiving communion requires belonging to the Church, among other things,” he said. “This discipline is well-known and widely appreciated in our parishes.”
But there is a need to teach Catholics about the benefits of going to Mass without receiving Communion and what it is “to be properly disposed and in the state of grace,” Prendergast told the Catholic Register.
Catholics often come to church after years of not attending receive communion “as a matter of course,” he said.
“Formalism and cultural routine alone will not cut it…Receiving communion has to make a difference in our lives, and be meaningful. Otherwise we are deceiving ourselves, and as pastors we are deceiving others,” the archbishop pointed out.
“In Holy Communion we receive the Lord, and so, to receiving worthily, we need to be fully open to Him and connected to His Church, visibly and invisibly, institutionally and internally. That and nothing less is Catholic teaching.”
Judge rules Christian baker does not have to make gay ‘wedding’ cake
The judge ruled that making a cake that celebrates an event is a form of speech.
Wed May 23, 2018 - 2:13 pm EST
By Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger
BAKERSFIELD, California, May 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A California judge has issued his final judgment in favor of a Christian baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex “wedding,” ruling that cakes celebrating events are a form of speech.
Last August, Mireya and Eileen Rodriguez-Del Rio sought a wedding cake from Tastries Bakery owner Cathy Miller, who declined on the grounds that affirming a homosexual union would violate her Christian beliefs, Bakersfield.com reports. The couple filed a complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), arguing that the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act forbids businesses from refusing to provide services on the basis of sexual orientation (among other grounds).
“Everyone is God’s creation and I love everyone,” Miller has previously explained. “But there are certain things that violate my conscience, and my conscience will not allow me to participate in things that I feel are wrong. Most of what that’s based on is scripture.”
The department subsequently sought an order compelling Miller to bake the cake, but Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe sided with Miller in February, and issued his final judgment earlier this month.
"The right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment outweighs the State's interest in ensuring a freely accessible marketplace,” Lampe wrote in his original decision. “The right of freedom of thought guaranteed by the First Amendment includes the right to speak, and the right to refrain from speaking. Sometimes the most profound protest is silence."
The judge granted the “laudable and necessary public goal” of a discrimination-free marketplace, but drew a distinction between simply refusing to sell products such as tires, which are not “sacred or expressive,” and artistic expression. Miller, he explained, was being compelled to “use her talents to design and create cake she has not yet conceived with the knowledge that her work will be displayed in celebration of marital union her religion forbids.”
“Cathy gladly serves everyone who walks through her bakery’s doors, including same-sex couples. But she should not be forced by the government to express messages that conflict with her sincerely held religious beliefs,” said Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) president Charles LiMandri, whose organization represented Miller pro-bono. “We are pleased the judge recognized that the First Amendment protects Cathy’s freedom of speech.”
The FCDF is seeking $438,000 in legal fees from the plaintiffs, citing the state’s Private Attorney General statute, which calls for awarding fees to a case’s victor if (among other things) it “resulted in the enforcement of an important right affecting the public interest, and where a significant benefit has been conferred on a large class of persons.”
Accordingly, Lampe’s most recent order deemed Miller “the prevailing party for purposes of the fight to recover litigation costs as permitted by law.”
FCDF expects the state to appeal the ruling. Miller is just one of many Christian small business owners who have been sued for refusing to provide services to homosexual “weddings.” One such example, Jack Phillips’ Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, is currently before the Supreme Court, in a case expected to have profound ramifications across the United States.
“First rape, now death,” the now-graduate, Michael Smalanskas, told LifeSiteNews. His being banned from campus means he is losing wages because he can no longer report to work at the on-campus Barnes and Noble, where he planned to continue working this summer.
The school’s Vice President of Student Affairs, Kristine Goodwin, obtained a restraining order against Smalanskas. The two have a history – it was Goodwin who encouraged students to participate in a march against “homophobia” after Smalanskas put up a bulletin board defending marriage.
Goodwin now claims Smalanskas “glared at me for 5-10 seconds” after exiting “the line for communion” during the school’s commencement Mass on May 19. According to her official statement, she views that, and the following, as threatening:
Smalanskas telling her she should be ashamed of herself for refusing to act to protect him;
Smalanskas “lashing out at me...by email, in meetings, and via social media”; and
Smalanskas using his “physical stance” to “impose fear.”
“He is significantly larger and younger than me and he has, on multiple occasions, used his physical stance, glaring eye contact, and verbal confrontations to impose fear,” she claims.
Goodwin admits Smalanskas has never actually threatened her. But when Smalanskas spoke with her about her inaction, “he seemed out of control” and Goodwin thinks he “lacked any judgement about the scene he created...While his words were not expressly threatening his actions toward me have escalated quickly.”
Smalanskas, who is getting married on campus in July, is allowed on campus for wedding-related business, but must give two to three days’ notice so that Goodwin can work from home when he is there.
Providence College (PC) is run by the Dominican order’s Province of St. Joseph.
“A civil restraining order was issued by the court after Mr. Smalanskas’ unacceptable conduct toward a member of our community on campus this past weekend,” Steven Maurano, PC’s Associate Vice President for Public Affairs, Community & Government Relations, told LifeSiteNews. “Because of the serious nature of his actions, the College has restricted his access to campus.”
LifeSiteNews asked what the unacceptable behavior was, to which Maurano responded, “A court would not issue a civil restraining order, nor would a college restrict someone’s access to campus, without sufficient cause.”
Smalanskas: Student threatened to ‘stab’ and ‘murder’ me for supporting man-woman marriage
Smalanskas told LifeSiteNews that the latest drama with the school began to unfold on the evening of Thursday, May 17. Smalanskas and his fiancée were at Providence College’s senior formal at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. Because they’d bought tickets late, they were seated with people they didn’t know.
One of their tablemates pulled Smalanskas aside to talk to him about the bulletin board incident, he told LifeSiteNews. Then another student who wasn’t originally at their table “immediately launched into threatening to murder me.”
“The word choice was ‘murder’...he persistently asked for my home address because” he said he wanted to “find me after graduation and stab me.”
Smalanskas reported the incident to campus security, who also informed the local Mashantucket Tribal Police.
On the morning of May 18, Smalanskas emailed Providence College President Father Brian Shanley and administration officials Father Kenneth Sicard, Kristine Goodwin, Steven Sears, and Gail Dyer the following:
By means of this email, you are being made aware that a threat was made against my life at the senior formal last evening at Foxwoods Casino in connection with the bulletin board incident. A student told me that he wanted to murder me for putting up the poster about marriage. An internal report has been filed with Public Safety and I have advised them to pursue an external criminal report with the proper jurisdiction.
Let me make myself clear: the College has had every opportunity to stop and prevent this kind of behavior, which has included rape threats and now murder threats. Your inaction throughout this incident has ennobled students to act this way. Every one of you is personally responsible for creating this environment.
The two students involved in this matter have been identified and I demand that they be barred from walking at our commencement exercises.
Michael J. Smalanskas
On behalf of everyone on this message I am responding to your email to acknowledge receipt and to assure you that Public Safety is, as you know, investigating your report. My understanding is that Director Kanadanian offered to escort you to meet with the appropriate law enforcement authority in order to file a report, but that you prefer that he send the report. I have also been told that a no contact directive was issued. Once completed Public Safety will forward the report to the Office of Community Standards for review. In the meantime, if I or others can be of assistance please do not hesitate to let us know.
Vice President for Student Affairs
The university’s Department of Public Safety issued a “no contact order” to Harry Veneris, the student who allegedly threatened Smalanskas, and told Smalanskas via email, “the Office of Community Standards will receive the final report from the Department of Public Safety early next week and will process the case.”
Veneris did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
The school “ignored” the report of a murder threat and there were “no consequences for those guys,” Smalanskas told LifeSiteNews.
After commencement Mass, a confrontation that snowballed
Both Smalanskas and Goodwin agree that after the commencement Mass on May 19, Smalanskas said to Goodwin something to the effect of “you should be ashamed of yourself. They threatened to rape and murder me and you did nothing.”
Smalanskas almost wasn’t allowed to walk at the May 20 graduation ceremony over this, but was permitted to after the school assigned Goodwin a personal bodyguard for the duration of the day. Providence College ordered Smalanskas to make no contact with Goodwin.
“I was also informed there would be non-uniformed officers in place ready to haul me out if I pulled anything,” Smalanskas told LifeSiteNews.
In her request for a restraining order, Goodwin outlined two encounters with Smalanskas that she says prove a pattern of animosity toward her:
Incident one: During the commencement mass as Mr. Smalanskas exited the line for communion he stopped approximately 10 feet away from me and glared at me for 5-8 seconds. He was visibly angry and stared at me causing me to feel surprised, uncomfortable, and afraid as to what he might do next. I was afraid enough to tell my colleague next to me and ask my husband to meet me to escort me after mass . I was afraid and intimidated because of his facial expression, the length of his stare, and the venue[ . One witness, a faculty member, reported “I am still shaken by his anger and hate yesterday.”
Incident two: As I exited mass it appeared that Mr. Smalanskas was waiting for me. As soon as he spotted me he began yelling my name louder and louder. He yelled something to the effect “You should be ashamed of yourself Kristine Goodwin, Kristine Goodwin – they threatened to rape and murder me and you did nothing Kristine Goodwin.” The area was very crowded and I had a difficult time getting away from him through the crowd. He got louder and louder either by walking closer and following me or yelling louder. I was more fearful for my physical safety than I have ever been. He seemed out of control and lacked any judgement about the scene he created. I went to a secure location and called for help. While his words were not expressly threatening his actions toward me have escalated quickly.
It was these accounts, combined with the rest of Goodwin’s statement (available in the PDF below), that allowed her to receive a civil restraining order against Smalanskas and get him barred from campus after graduation.
“It’s ridiculous to think that making eye contact with somebody on the way back from Communion and simply expressing that her inaction [is a] disgrace would constitute those kinds of penalties,” said Smalanskas.
“The great...irony here is that I was actually threatened with credible threats of rape and murder, and [Goodwin] personally said, you know, the college will process this later, but she claims falsely that she is threatened” and then “gets a bodyguard, gets a no-contact order, gets a restraining order, and then bars me from campus.”
“It seems that this has to be revenge,” he said. It’s “clear” that she has demonstrated “a pattern of revenge behavior” against me.
Smalanskas will have to go to a court hearing in 10 days “and that is my opportunity to give my side and let the court determine if they’ll extend [the restraining order] or drop it.”
Goodwin also wrote that she is afraid because Smalanskas’s father “has access to weapons.”
“She leaves it there but fails to mention he has this access because he is an officer of the law and has been for 32 years with a spotless record,” Smalanskas responded.
This ‘reflects poorly on Fr. Shanley’s administration’
It was Goodwin’s decision “to wait until after graduation to investigate Michael’s allegation that a fellow senior had threatened to murder him for his support of traditional marriage,” said Dr. Giuseppe Butera, an associate professor of philosophy at PC. “This after Michael had already been threatened with rape a few months earlier. And she feels threatened because he called her a disgrace for refusing to lift a finger to protect him?”
“That is the very definition of chutzpah and it is shameful,” he told LifeSiteNews. “It is also profoundly unjust and it reflects poorly on Fr. Shanley’s administration. As my plain-spoken Calabrian father would say, ‘the fish stinks from the head down.’”
Smalanskas wouldn’t say whether he would pursue legal action against Goodwin or Providence College. He said his main concern right now is that he is being prevented from going to work and therefore not receiving pay he had anticipated.
“The whole thing is so bizarre,” he said.
A representative from Father Shanley’s office did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity is setting up a legal defense fund for Smalanskas through freedomfy, a conservative crowdfunding site, he said.
Below are scans of Providence College’s banning of Smalanskas from campus and the restraining order, which is accompained by Kristine Goodwin’s handwritten statement.
COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Twin premature newborn boys died at an Ohio hospital last year while staff stood by refusing to give them medical assistance, a pro-life group is reporting, and the hospital classified the boys’ deaths as stillbirth.
Both boys were born alive at 22 weeks and 5 days gestational age at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, according to the report.
The first born, Emery, survived for 45 minutes. His younger brother, Elliot, lived for two and a half hours, even crying, and his mother, Amanda, begged for help to no avail.
Alarming footage released today by Created Equal shows both boys just after their births.
Amanda is shown in the video beseeching in the case of Emery, “You guys are going to save him, right? Promise me they’re going to save him.”
Amanda then says, “Look at him, please save him.”
Amanda is shown holding and speaking to her newborn boys in the video.
Later in the video, she tells Elliot, “Mommy tried, Mommy tried.”
Amanda had been told by the hospital her boys would be stillborn or breathe only for a moment after birth, according to her statement included in the Created Equal report, but the video shows otherwise.
Additionally, an attending physician’s notes confirm the boys were born at 22 weeks, five days, the time at which many healthcare professionals say is the marker of viability.
“I was discharged with instructions for care after stillbirth,” Amanda said. “But Emery and Elliot were not stillborn. They were born alive and died as Riverside Methodist Hospital staff denied my pleas for help.”
The pro-life group released the video after attempts to have the incidents addressed internally were unsuccessful, the hospital calling the matter “closed.”
LifeSiteNews inquired with the hospital regarding its policy on determining when medical aid is provided to preterm babies. Media relations staff responded initially saying the inquiry was being submitted to leadership for women’s health at the hospital, but a response could not be guaranteed by press time.
Amanda begged repeatedly for help
While the video footage is heartbreaking, Created Equal Director Harrington said it represents just a portion of Amanda’s appeals to Riverside Methodist staff save her children.
“She pleaded with them many times before and after birth to aid the babies,” Harrington told LifeSiteNews.
Harrington said as well that some of Amanda’s paperwork had been changed, and the boys’ ages were scratched out.
“Which makes me think they needed to cover their tracks,” Harrington said.
“There is evidence that Amanda’s children were either right at the limit or below when it comes to receiving care,” he said. “Determining the age of a preborn baby is not an exact science. Still, the staff should have erred on the side of life, being that the children were apparently born at 22.5 weeks, even though the age put on the paperwork is disputed.”
'We consider this matter closed'
Created Equal had assisted Amanda in filing a complaint with OhioHealth’s Ethics and Compliance office, but the group said those efforts were rebuffed.
“The ethics and compliance department has investigated and addressed the concern brought by the caller,” the hospital compliance office said in its response. “If further incidents occur, please notify compliance line or local management …. We consider this matter closed.”
“Hospital regulations and rules don’t take into the account the human factor,” said Harrington. “I understand that hospitals need to limit when to use their resources to save a premature baby, but the cold and calculated way the staff disregarded the pleas of Amanda is outrageous.”
“Rules should be guidelines,” he said, “but not black and white determiners of life and death.”
They can feel pain, they could live
Harrington noted that Ohio law penalizes abortionists who kill unborn children after 20 weeks because science considers that viability.
“We need to be consistent and save premature babies born alive below 22 weeks gestational age,” he added.
To date, there has been no real recognition from the hospital of the incident, according to the Created Equal report, nor condolences communicated to the grieving family.
“The family is very disturbed by what happened,” Harrington told LifeSiteNews.
Amanda, the boys’ father Shaun and others, continue to grieve the loss of Emery and Elliot, he said, and they are greatly concerned for others to whom similar incidents may occur. While they do want justice, the family’s last name is redacted for their privacy.
OhioHealth is a non-profit, charitable healthcare system of the United Methodist Church. Based in Columbus, it consists of 10 hospitals, more than 200 ambulatory sites, hospice and other assorted health services throughout a 47-county area.
Emery and Elliot
Amanda went to Riverside Methodist Hospital on June 24, 2017 with bleeding, concerned for her twins. She was at 22 weeks, 2 days in her pregnancy.
Hospital staff informed her that if she delivered prior to 22 weeks, 5 days gestation, there’d be no assessment of her boys and no attempt to resuscitate them.
Emery and Elliot were born three days later at 22 weeks, 5 days gestation.
Despite making it to that critical point in gestation set out by the hospital, Riverside Methodist staff still told Amanda as she labored the boys were coming too early and that its neonatal intensive care unit would not attempt to aid the boys.
“Emery was born first,” Amanda said. “No medical team member was present. He landed on the edge of the bed.”
“My mother demanded assistance from the nurse’s station,” she continued. “A neonatal doctor did come in, but just wrapped Emery in a blanket, put him under a heat lamp, and opened his mouth.”
“Emery did not merely “breathe for a moment,” said Amanda. “He survived for about 45 minutes before passing away without any assistance from hospital staff.”
A couple of hours later, she began to contract again. This time, a doctor delivered Elliot, cut the cord, and laid him on her chest.
“Elliot was bigger than Emery,” Amanda recalled. “Not only was he breathing, like Emery, but he was also crying. But no one assessed his needs. He lived for two and a half hours while they did nothing.”
“Though I repeatedly asked staff to help or assess my babies, I was told they were born too young,” she said. “But there is no documentation to prove they were born too young.”
“In fact, I had been told previously they would not help if the babies were born before 22 weeks and 5 days. Documentation shows I was admitted at 22 weeks 2 days and the babies born at 22 weeks 5 days,” Amanda said. “Nevertheless, when I begged for help, they refused.”
Harrington points to a 2015 study by the New England Journal of Medicine that says babies born at 22 weeks have a greater probability of survival than was previously thought – provided they are given assistance.
Harrington told LifeSiteNews incidents like what happened with Amanda and her boys are occurring elsewhere, and he believes they are the result of the Obamacare healthcare law. While this is the first case he’s aware of with this hospital, Harrington said he’s certain the case is not unique.
He cautions people not to trust the medical profession will always have you or your family’s best interest in mind.
“The tragic story of Amanda and her twins Emery and Elliot is not an isolated incident and is taking place in hospitals across America,” he said. “Amanda just happened to capture this incident on film.”
Listen to an interview with Melissa Ohden, who miraculously survived an abortion. Ohden recently shared her incredible story, including how she met her birth mother decades later, with Jonathon Van Maren on The Van Maren Show, LifeSite's new weekly podcast.
The Van Maren Show is hosted on numerous platforms, including Spotify, SoundCloud, and YouTube. It is also on iTunes and Google Play. For a full listing of episodes, and to subscribe via various channels, visit our Pippa.io webpage here.
Brook Fiske, 37, was almost four months pregnant when Sikander Imran poisoned her tea with four abortion pills. She began suffering contractions and was rushed to hospital where she lost her unborn baby son.
Sikander Imran pleaded guilty to fetal homicide in Arlington County, Virginia, after being charged last June with the premeditated killing of a foetus of another and illegally causing abortion or miscarriage. Fetal homicide, a Class 2 felony, is punishable by up to 40 years in prison, but after Ms Fiske asked for leniency, a judge sentenced him to 20 years, with 17 years suspended.He also had his medical license revoked and faces deportation to Pakistan after his release.
Ms Fiske and Mr Imran had been dating on and off for about three years but were living in different states when she discovered she was pregnant.
Tried to coerce into abortion
"He didn't want to have a baby so he tried to talk me into having an abortion... which I didn't want to do," Ms Fiske said. When she was about 17 weeks along, Ms Fiske travelled down to Arlington to meet with Imran so they could discuss how they wanted to raise the child. One night during the visit, she says he poisoned her tea. '"When I was drinking my tea in the evening I got to the bottom of the cup. There was a gritty substance in there and when I looked at it, I could tell that it was a pill that had been ground up," she said.
After she had lost the baby, hospital doctors conducted a blood test and found an excessive amount of the prescription abortion pill Misoprostol in her system. "According to the nurse at the hospital it's 200 milligrams to induce labor. So he gave me 800," she said.
"I felt very betrayed and devastated," she added.
Mr Imran's attorney argued in court that he was mentally unstable, and Ms Fiske asked the judge to show some leniency on those grounds.
Dangers of home abortion and decriminalisation moves
It is not clear how Mr Imran came into possession of the pills, but this case highlights the dangerous uses they can be put to if not strictly regulated.
As Phillipa Taylor explained after the Scottish Government decided to allow the second abortion pill to be taken at home, once self administration is allowed, here is "nothing to stop the abortion pill being taken at other locations...There is nothing to stop it getting into the wrong hands or taken at the wrong gestation." In this case, misoprostol was used much later in pregnancy than is recommended - meaning that as well as causing the death of her child, the pills posed a grave threat to Ms Fiske's life and health.
SPUC has also raised concerns that if the campaign to decriminalise abortion is successful, it would be easier for abusive partners to find abortion pills online and force women into an abortion. Removing abortion from the criminal law could also make it more difficult to deliver justice for women like Ms Fiske, who have suffered abortion at the hands of a partner.
“It was … a turning point in my life; the moment when the scales fell from my eyes,” said Ward. “I now had a hunger to learn more about the Catholic faith, and to follow the trail of beautiful divine logic that I had seen in Humanae Vitae.”
Ward explained how despite attending Catholic schools and going through marriage preparation, she had never encountered the Church’s teaching found in Humanae Vitae.
“Just to illustrate how shocked I was, I actually in my naivety wrote a letter to our bishop to ask him how come I had never heard any of this,” she added.
Ward and her husband have found that having a large family often provokes disapproval, even from fellow Catholics. It is “amongst the mainstream Catholic community that I’ve felt the most hostility.”
“I try to remember that all encounters are an opportunity to evangelize and show people a different way of living; a way of living that is extraordinary in our current culture, but that needn’t be extraordinary, and indeed was very ordinary fifty years ago.”
Ward is happy her marriage and family stand out. Catholics, living according to their faith, are not supposed to blend in with the crowd. “Being a visible sign of contradiction is probably the most obvious way in which we witness to Humanae Vitae.”
“I do understand that many priests feel that as celibates, it is not their place to speak on this issue but they must,” she said. “Just as men must have a voice in the abortion debate, priests also should have a voice on the subject of the transmission of human life.”
“The future of humanity depends on it,” she added.
LifeSiteNews is pleased to provide the full text of Sarah Ward’s testimony below:
Testimony by Sarah Ward
At "Human Life, the Family, and the Splendor of Truth: Gifts of God" conference
May 21, 2018
I’m married to Tom and we have eight children alive, and two in heaven.
I’d like to tell you about the first time I heard of Humanae Vitae and how it changed my life. It was six weeks after the birth of my second baby. I had been to the doctors for my postpartum checkup, and the doctor asked me what I was intending to do about contraception. I didn’t know, so that evening I raised the subject with my husband. It’s a conversation that I can recall vividly.
Speaking very softly, and with great gentleness, my husband dropped a bombshell. He told me about the Church’s position on family planning, and he explained some of the ethical problems with the various forms of contraception.
This was news to me, because I had no idea, and I was extremely shocked.
Just to illustrate how shocked I was, I actually in my naivety wrote a letter to our bishop to ask him how come I had never heard any of this, despite being educated at Catholic schools and going through the preparation courses for all the sacraments, including Catholic marriage preparation.
The bishop sent me a three page reply which acknowledged that contraception is a subject that doesn’t get spoken of very often, and that was all the letter said, really, in its three pages.
So my husband went on to tell me about Humanae Vitae and shortly afterwards I read it for myself. This was the first papal document I had ever read. It was very short and simple, and what I read in it was very surprising.
For the first time in my life, I saw logic. And it was beautiful. It totally made sense to me, like something written on my heart.
With hindsight, I can see that this was a moment of sacramental grace in our marriage. My husband spoke with all the right words, and I had the ears to listen to him.
But it was also a turning point in my life -- the moment when the scales fell from my eyes. I now had a hunger to learn more about the Catholic faith, and to follow the trail of beautiful divine logic that I had seen in Humanae Vitae.
I then discovered that this logic was the backbone of the teachings of the Church.
My husband also gave me a copy of the catechism at that point to have a look at, and again, it was something I had never heard of.
I could not believe there was actually a manual for how to be a Catholic.
From here on, I fully embraced the Catholic faith, and also my vocation to marriage and motherhood. Prior to this, I had been adamant that I did not want to be a stay at home mother.
But Humanae Vitae gave me a new understanding of living in accordance with God’s will, and a new vocabulary with which to express myself.
I now had a heightened sense of my own God given dignity, as a unique individual, as a woman, and as a mother. And in our marriage I could say we were free and responsible collaborators with God the Creator; that we could be open to new life, and open to God’s plan for marriage and for our family.
We were living away from our families at this time, but immediately God placed people in my path that would help me understand more about the Church’s teachings on marriage and family. These included a group of Billings teachers, members of the pro-life movement, and a young Catholic family with five children.
This was the first large and average family I had ever encountered, and their joie de vivre was contagious.
I’m certain that it was no coincidence that about this time I discovered the traditional Latin Mass and the rosary, which were essential nourishment for my vocation.
As each beautiful new child arrived, I learned in a very real way that our love was not further divided, but it was multiplied, like God’s love for us.
Then in our sixth year of marriage, we learned that being open to new life and open to God’s plan also means being open to suffering and to death; being open to all the full drama of human life.
Our fifth baby miscarried at fourteen weeks, and we were both devastated. But we found God in our suffering, and our young children were moved to ask us questions about where the baby had gone, which led to unexpected opportunities to transmit the faith to them and to pray together.
Sadly we went on to lose another baby in 2014, with near fatal consequences for me.
As our family has grown, so too have the sacrifices required of us. Life is very busy, and often physically tiring, and I’m sure the practical realities and difficulties of having a large family will be known to many of you. And modern life is expensive, especially for a single income family in an economy that is geared toward smaller families with two household incomes.
My dream of having a sporty little car is a distant dream of a different woman. Our ten-seater minibus, on the other hand, is a very physical sign of contradiction in our current culture.
Being a visible sign of contradiction is probably the most obvious way in which we witness to Humanae Vitae.
We obviously look different to other people, to other families. This often causes looks, and sometimes, comments. On the whole, these comments are positive and born out of curiosity. I often find that women are very quick to tell me that they would’ve liked to have had more children but didn’t.
Occasionally though, people can be very rude and feel at liberty to ask us crude and personal questions.
I try to remember that all encounters are an opportunity to evangelize and show people a different way of living; a way of living that is extraordinary in our current culture, but that needn’t be extraordinary, and indeed was very ordinary fifty years ago.
Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, it is amongst the mainstream Catholic community that I’ve felt the most hostility.
In UK parishes, our family stands out a mile. Negative comments to me have included: “Oh no, not another one!” and “Don’t you want to do something of economic value with your life?”
And most hurtfully from one Catholic: “You are perpetuating an historic stereotype of Catholics as an ignorant underclass that breed like rabbits.”
I’m also sorry to say that I’ve experienced hostility from some priests.
That said, there are some supportive clergy out there with their feet on the ground, and I’ve only met a handful that have the necessary formation, experience, and above all, willingness to help married couples to live their vocation.
We all know that fifty years of silence on this subject has been catastrophic. But for those couples who are living Humanae Vitae, there is a real need for spiritual direction and for support. For example, many couples would benefit from spiritual direction to help them to discern the great reasons for using NFP. This is something not very well known amongst couples.
I do understand that many priests feel that as celibates, it is not their place to speak on this issue but they must.
Just as men must have a voice in the abortion debate, priests also should have a voice on the subject of the transmission of human life. The future of humanity depends on it.
As I approach the end of my childbearing years, I realize that it has been an isolating experience. Social media has been a real godsend, though, and many Catholics have found it an invaluable way of connecting.
In the U.K. we have a very vibrant online Catholic mothers’ group that I’m part of. I’m very pleased to say, that through it, I’ve encountered many young Catholic women who are just starting out on their journey in motherhood and they display a new vigor and a real determination to really practice the faith in accordance with the Church’s teachings, and to rebuild a civilization of love. They are a great sign of hope for the future.
Well that is my testimony, and with the help and example of Mary our heavenly mother, I will keep on going.
May 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An estimated 3.6 million Argentinians came together in over 200 different cities in a national “March for Life” to manifest their support for the right to life on Sunday.
The massive show of support for life comes as Argentinian legislators prepare to vote on a bill that would legalize the killing of unborn children under almost any circumstances during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Demonstrators chanted slogans like “I vote for life,” and carried signs saying, “I want to be born. I am eight weeks old. My life is in your hands,” according to the Argentinian newspaper La Nación. One protester told the newspaper, “We want to demonstrate to the deputies (of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower legislative house) that the people doesn’t want abortion to be permitted. It brings two lives to an end: the child’s and the woman’s.”
The precise estimate of 3.6 million demonstrators was provided by the organizers of the march and conveyed by the major media, which for its own part merely recognized that “thousands” had participated.
The estimated number dwarfs the figure of 350,000 demonstrators in a recent “Women’s Day” march in March of this year which supported the abortion legalization bill.
The event is the second mass demonstration against the legalization of abortion in Argentina in recent months. A previous demonstration on March 25 reportedly brought hundreds of thousands of Argentinians to the streets in over 200 cities nationwide.
The bill would allow anyone to claim they were raped, without having to offer proof, or to show that their “physical, psychological, or social health” was threatened by their pregnancy, and thereby to obtain an abortion without any legal penalty. It also permits abortions carried out to kill unborn children who suffer “grave fetal malformations.”
Under current law in Argentina, abortion is classified as “non-punishable” by the law in only two circumstances: pregnancy in cases of rape, and pregnancies in which the health or life of the mother is gravely threatened.
In practice, abortion is seldom approved under these standards in comparison to more liberal regimes. For example, the city of Rosario, which has a population of about 1.3 million inhabitants, had 450 non-punishable abortions in 2016, and the city of Buenos Aires, with a population of almost 2.9 million, allowed 563 non-punishable abortions. Those numbers would be likely to skyrocket if abortion were legalized under the more liberal regime proposed by pro-abortion legislators.
Legislators in the national congress are scheduled to vote on the bill on June 13. A majority in the Chamber of Deputies seems to oppose it, while the Senate reportedly has a solid pro-life majority.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation has reportedly spent more than five million dollars in the last decade funding the organizations that are now pushing for the approval of the abortion legalization bill in Argentina, a fact that has been decried by pro-life groups in the country. However, the IPPF’s expenditures seem not to be paying off.
Although a spate of early polls indicated that a majority of Argentinians were in favor of legalizing abortion, a recent poll commissioned by the government indicates that the number of those who support the pro-life side is now virtually equal to the number who approach the pro-abortion side: 46% to 45%.
Now is Pope Francis’s chance to change course on the sex abuse crisis
What can the pope learn from the story of the American bishops? And what will he do differently?
Wed May 23, 2018 - 12:46 pm EST
By Christopher Manion
By Christopher Manion
May 23, 2018 (The Stream) – Last week Pope Francis made history when he met with the bishops of Chile. It brought to mind a similar meeting sixteen years ago, when Pope John Paul II met with every cardinal from the United States. The outcomes were as different as they were significant.
Both countries were in an uproar over allegations of clerical sex abuse and cover-ups. Both meetings abounded in prayer, profound apologies, and papal admonitions for reform and repentance. But Pope Francis took an additional step, a vital one.
After meeting with Pope Francis, every Catholic bishop in Chile offered the Holy Father his resignation. After meeting with Pope John Paul II, the cardinals returned to the United States, chastened but still in office.
Pope Francis had already visited Chile in January. He was so convinced by the bishops' excuses that he called the accusations of abuse "calumny." He even blamed "the leftists, who are the ones who put this thing together."
But after he returned to Rome, he decided to send Vatican investigators to Chile. They returned with a far different story. Chile's bishops had lied and destroyed evidence. The Chilean people were in an uproar.
Admonitions were not enough. Every bishop in Chile resigned.
Pope John Paul II and the American Cardinals
In January 2002, the American scandals erupted. In April, USCCB officials told the Vatican not to worry. Our bishops could handle the situation themselves, they insisted.
Days later, Pope John Paul summoned every American cardinal to the Vatican. He could have demanded serious changes, but he didn't. Nor did he condemn the profound malfeasance of America's hierarchy. Instead, he accepted the plaintive excuses that they had been repeating for years. They had been misled by "clinical experts" who thought that homosexual child rape was an illness, not a crime. It wasn't their fault.
They had to do better, the Holy Father told the American prelates. And they went home.
The sainted pope did not ask for any resignations, not did the prelates offer theirs. Regarding prospective reforms, the beleaguered USCCB President Bishop Wilton Gregory did tell the media in Rome that "it is an ongoing struggle to make sure the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men." But he never mentioned it again.
The USCCB met in Dallas four months later. During the proceedings, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln made a motion that the bishops vote to investigate the causes of the scandals. Not one brother bishop supported him.
Over 80% of the abuse crimes were "homosexual in nature," but the bishops ignored the issue. Instead, they voted on national television to exempt themselves from their own "zero tolerance" policy for abusers.
Why? Only a tiny percentage of priests had been guilty of abuse. But two-thirds of bishops were guilty of enabling abusers or covering up for them.
The bishops adjourned their meeting and went back to their chanceries. They stayed in office and braced themselves for years of lawsuits, financial settlements, and scandals.
The cardinals' April meeting with the pope was ancient history.
U.S. Cardinals Allowed to Stay in Office
The only American bishop to quit was Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston. Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, where abuse accusations were also rampant, did not offer to resign. Instead, he maneuvered. Governor Frank Keating, chairman of the bishops' own lay oversight board, was asking too many questions. The former FBI agent was too curious about the role the bishops might have played in the scandals.
Mahony demanded that Keating resign. He did.
Cardinal Mahony wound up spending around a billion dollars to stay in office. He settled hundreds of abuse cases. Then he avoided giving sworn testimony in open court. He fought hard to thwart demands for the release of the files of abusing priests. And he even claimed that seminary records are covered by the seal of the confessional.
In January 2013, a California judge finally forced the chancery to release some 12,000 pages of those files. The statute of limitations had expired, but Mahony's successor, Abp. José Gómez, found the revelations "brutal and painful." In February, Gómez barred Mahony from all "administrative or public duties."
Cardinal Mahony flouted the order, claiming that only the pope can discipline a cardinal. He bragged on Twitter that he would vote in the conclave that elected Pope Francis a month later. When he returned from Rome, he conducted public confirmations every weekend. When a reporter inquired about his brazen disobedience, the Cardinal replied, "Go home!"
Pope Francis, on the Other Hand
What can we learn from these two historic episodes?
Pope John Paul II accepted the excuses of America's bishops. He allowed them to continue in office. Early on, Pope Francis accepted the plaintive excuses of the Chilean bishops as well. When visiting Chile in January, he rejected accusations against Juan Barros, Bishop of Osorno: "There is not one shred of proof against him. It's all calumny. Is that clear?"
But Pope Francis didn't stop there. He sent investigators to find out the truth, and the truth was damning. Francis admitted his earlier mistake and convened last week's meeting with all of Chile's bishops. He advised them in advance that he expected their resignations. Unlike Bishop Gregory, Pope Francis lambasted Chilean bishops for sending to seminaries "priests suspected of active homosexuality," as well as destroying evidence and defying canon and civil law.
Will Pope Francis Learn From the American Bishops' Mistakes on Sex Abuse?
Why didn't Pope John Paul follow up the American cardinals' 2002 visit in the same fashion? Had he sent Cardinals Burke and Ratzinger for a month-long investigation in May, the USCCB's June meeting might have rendered profoundly different results.
Instead, our beloved shepherds went home and circled the wagons.
If John Paul II had demanded the resignations of all the U.S. bishops, accepting those from the dozens who had clearly protected known criminal abusers, would the scandals still be going on today?
We'll never know. After sixteen years, the pain and scandal caused by the abuse and cover-ups continue. They have cost billions of dollars. Tens of millions of the faithful have left the pews. In the words of USCCB's chief of child protection, Bishop Robert Conlon of Joliet, the credibility of the U.S. hierarchy is "shredded."
Somewhere, Sherlock Holmes told his friend, "Watson, when I say you are instructive, I mean I learn from your mistakes."
When he deals with the bishops of Chile, will Pope Francis learn from the American hierarchy's mistakes?
He said Italy and Europe were entering a period of "vocational sterility" to which he wasn't sure a solution exists.
In a speech to an annual assembly of the Italian bishops conference Monday, Francis blamed the priest shortage on such factors as demographic changes, scandals in the church and cultural trends that dissuade young people from making lifelong commitments and make them value instead the “dictatorship of money.”
“How many seminaries, churches, monasteries and convents will be closed in the next few years?” he asked. “God only knows.”
It’s pretty obvious wacky liturgies don’t attract young men to the priesthood. The lame music, mainstreamed liturgical abuses, and overall banality of typical Masses in the Western world have produced lots of fallen-away Catholics, a few angry ones and not enough priests.
If Pope Francis is worried about scandals in the Church deterring young men from the priesthood, why doesn’t he stop saying scandalous things?
Holy Mother Church needs manly priests and priestly men. Properly-ordered liturgies in which priests “say the black and do the red” seem to go a long way in this department.
How much of the Church is going to “hemorrhage” and bleed out, so to speak, before things get better? As the pope said, God only knows.
Thank Trump for starting to defund Planned Parenthood, but the job’s far from done
Now’s not the time for pro-life advocates to hang a 'Mission Accomplished' banner on defunding abortion.
Wed May 23, 2018 - 3:17 pm EST
By Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The pro-life movement is rightfully praising Donald Trump for disqualifying abortion facilities from receiving Title X family planning funds. The welcome change is the latest in a long line of actions that make Trump arguably the strongest pro-life president America has ever had.
That said, it’s important not to oversell the accomplishment, or let a marginal improvement lull us into a sense of complacency.
“President Trump has kept his promise to protect the lives of the unborn and to ensure the abortion industry is no longer supported by taxpayers.”
“The pro-life grassroots will be pleased to see President Trump deliver on yet another pro-life promise…”
“President Trump has shown decisive leadership, delivering on a key promise to pro-life voters who worked so hard to elect him...”
“Donald Trump pledged to defund Planned Parenthood because of its involvement in promoting and performing abortions. Today he has kept that promise…”
All these statements make it sound like Trump has completed his promise to defund Planned Parenthood, when in reality Title X only accounts for around a tenth of its federal funding. You know, the funding our pro-life Congress and White House agreed to continue just two months ago.
That’s not to say they meant to suggest otherwise, of course; obviously they’ll continue to support cutting the rest. But the fact remains that language like “has kept” or “has delivered” conveys a distinct sense of completion, as if this is the most progress we can expect for the time being.
But it’s not the most we can do right now. Not even close.
Multiple versions of full defunding legislation have been introduced in the current session of Congress, one of which has already passed the House of Representatives. Yet it’s barely even discussed anymore, largely because the powers-that-be decided that attaching defunding to Obamacare repeal was our only shot to get it done...and we all know how that turned out.
Making those two causes depend on each other was a mistake, and there’s no reason not to correct it in the current session.
The Obamacare-linked efforts failed because in each case, at least one pro-life Republican objected to the healthcare side of the bill, not the abortion side. And as we saw when the Senate approved legislation allowing states to kick Planned Parenthood out of their own Title X programs, pro-life bills can withstand two GOP defectors and still get a majority, thanks to Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote.
Of course, that brings us to another problem: the fact that the Senate’s ostensibly pro-life leadership chooses to give the pro-abortion minority veto power over most bills, via filibuster rules that require 60 votes for passage. Never mind that those rules aren't in the Constitution, violate the Founders’ intentions, and, as Ted Cruz points out, Democrats will almost certainly abolish them anyway once they regain power.
Did you know that in the very first month of Trump’s presidency, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told House pro-lifers not to even bother sending him abortion bills, because they wouldn’t get 60 votes and he wasn’t willing to change the filibuster? You might not, because it went almost completely ignored by professional pro-lifers. Worse, after months of congressional failure, several leading organizations confirmed they were still either neutral on or opposed to filibuster reform.
Really? Our first pro-life united government in a decade, and we’re not going to use every tool at our disposal to save as many lives as we can, defund Planned Parenthood as much as humanly possible, before the very real possibility of the abortion lobby retaking at least part of Congress this fall?
Pro-life groups recognized that pro-life voters are dissatisfied with Congress’ lack of results through predictions that the Title X change would “energize the grassroots as we head into the critical midterm elections.” But it would be suicidal to assume marginal regulations will be enough, after years of promising that pro-lifers would finally see laws changed if they gave the GOP Congress and the White House.
Now’s not the time to hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner and hope the current session’s middling results somehow deliver a Senate supermajority in 2018. Now’s the time to press forward on the bills they touted on the campaign trail, fight for the rule reforms to give them a fighting chance, and confront whether our current leaders are up for the job.
In other words, now’s the time to demand that our leaders truly fulfill the promises that won them their last election.