All articles from July 30, 2018


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Canon lawyer Marjorie Murphy Campbell
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‘Credibility at the episcopal level is shot’: Canon lawyer on McCarrick scandal

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By Doug Mainwaring

July 30, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – “Who calls the fondling, groping, and sex with young seminarians and young priests ‘consensual sex between adults’?” asked a canon lawyer speaking out about the Cardinal Theodore McCarrick sex abuse scandal last week.  

“These are our sons,” she exclaimed.

“These are the young men in formation who we’ve encouraged to go to seminary,” she continued. “We as mothers, and family members, have raised our sons in the church and encouraged them to the priesthood.”

Canon lawyer Marjorie Murphy Campbell spoke with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN’s The World Over about an open letter she penned to the United States Conference of Bishops (USCCB) in The Christian Review, titled an Open Letter to the USCCB Regarding the Cardinal McCarrick Scandal.

A crisis in the episcopacy of this Church

“To call it ‘improprieties between adults’ instead of ‘predation by a person in a position of trust and authority’ is the work of PR and the work of attorneys,” said Campbell, “and it sounds to me like, when I read [the bishop’s statements that are being issued], that the bishops are going to try again to hide behind PR firms and lawyers, and treat this as a canonical problem when it is not. It is a crisis in the episcopacy of this Church.”

Arroyo kicked off their conversation by noting that in the early 2000s, there was a delegation of Catholics who went to the Vatican to warn about McCarrick’s reputation for preying upon seminarians. Despite that, McCarrick was allowed “to proceed in a very quick pace up the hierarchical chain of command and became one of the most influential cardinals in the world.”

“And following that,” noted Arroyo, “he becomes a kingmaker, and his proteges are now going on to higher careers and they become bishops.”

“Why didn’t somebody in the U.S. Conference of Bishops stand up and say, ‘Wait a minute’?” asked Campbell. “We have a problem that is much bigger than just our priests. We have a problem at the Episcopal level. And if something was said to Rome, and there was non-responsiveness from Rome, then all the more reason why our bishops should have taken the matter into their hands, within the community that is created by the Episcopal conference. They meet, they discuss, they talk formally, they talk informally, and this is information that was here and available.”

Denials by Cardinal McCarrick’s colleagues are ‘not credible’

Bishops who worked in close collaboration with McCarrick, including Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s Dicastery of Laity, Life and Family, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., have issued statements denying they had any inkling of McCarrick’s predatory sexual behavior toward young men.  

Farrell in particular was a very close collaborator of McCarrick and also his housemate for six years.

Campbell said that “based on all of the reports,” recent statements by McCarrick’s former and current colleagues are “not credible”  

A new, ominous chapter

In her open letter to the USCCB, Campbell appealed to the bishops:

With this shameful exposure of Cardinal McCarrick’s history, the USCCB enters a new, ominous chapter. The bishops must confront serious questions about the role and credibility of the conference itself. I urge you toward disclosure, transparency, and communication. I urge you to commission a third study with a focus on how a sexually abusive bishop not only remained immune from scrutiny that our priests underwent during the sexual abuse crisis but advanced in [his] Episcopacy.

Laity must be in charge of the investigation

Campbell added:

I also urge the USCCB to promptly appoint a commission of laity to work with the USCCB and...to formulate independent observations and recommendations regarding procedures for exposing, reporting and addressing sexual misconduct by our bishops. It is critical to Catholics – who are called upon to encourage our sons toward the priesthood – to understand the scope of sexual predation, and its enabling, among our Bishops. The voice of the laity must be included and heard, for the voice of our Bishops has failed us.

“We need an internal factual audit of which bishops knew what,” asserted Campbell. “This has to be a laity-led solution. The credibility at the episcopal level is shot.”

“This commission can’t be urged to dig a trench with handcuffs on,” she said. “This has to be a commission that is given complete and full access to the records of the USCCB, and every bishop is obligated to cooperate with.”  

Regarding the notion that since McCarrick is 88 years old, the Vatican will just wait for him to die rather than put him on trial, Campbell said, “No matter what the response of the Vatican is, the laity in the United States are demanding that we be given access and control of the solution to this.”  

Campbell said that McCarrick should be laicized and stripped of his title as a cardinal, and that “bishops who know that they participated in concealing this information, I believe they should resign. I believe there should be a period of reflection, resignation, and repentance.”

(Over the weekened, Pope Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals, ordering the disgraced prelate to a confined location “for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.”)

“Please reflect before you take us through this again, and an even deeper, more worrisome, evil trench I can’t imagine,” Campbell entreated the bishops. “Please reflect. And if you did, and you did nothing, please consider how to serve your flock. Maybe resignation and repentance is the right thing to do to save us from going through this.”

“We are the communal body; We are Jesus’ people,” she added. “Don’t leave the Church. Go to Mass, say Rosaries.”

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Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, speaking here at the U.S. Bishop fall general assembly in 2014, has been a prominent liberal voice in the U.S. Church. Lisa Bourne / LifeSiteNews
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Texas bishop: Church should ‘strongly’ consider defrocking McCarrick

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

FORT WORTH, Texas, July 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – American bishops are finally breaking ranks to speak out against an abusive ex-cardinal and his enablers.

Bishop Michael F. Olson of the Diocese of Fort Worth wrote a strongly-worded letter to his flock after Theodore Edgar McCarrick, the disgraced former Archbishop of Washington, D.C., gave up his cardinal’s scarlet. Released on July 28, the letter called McCarrick’s crimes and sins a violation of the trust the laity place in the Church’s ministers and suggested perhaps McCarrick should be laicized. It also condemned Church leaders who kept silent about McCarrick’s sexual misconduct.

Olson’s full letter is published below. Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger wrote a similar letter to priests and seminarians of his diocese.

“We see in the scandalous crimes and sins alleged to have been committed by now former Cardinal McCarrick, the violation of that trust and the grave damage caused to the lives and health of his purported victims,” Olson wrote. “This scandal and pain are compounded by the horrific fact that reportedly one of his victims was [the recipient of] his first baptism after his priestly ordination.”

Olson noted that McCarrick, 88, was removed from active ministry after credible allegations that he had abused a teenager 50 years ago, and that he has also been accused of abusing seminarians, priests, and members of the laity.  

Moreover, the bishop underscored that financial settlements paid to victims were arranged in an underhanded way.

“The evil effects of these actions were multiplied by the fact that financial settlements were arranged with victims without transparency or restrictions on the former Cardinal’s ministry,” Olson wrote.

He recommended that it be “strongly deliberated” that McCarrick be “reduced canonically” to the lay state.  

Olson also had harsh words for prelates who colluded with McCarrick, saying: “Justice also requires that all of those in Church leadership who knew of the former Cardinal’s alleged crimes and sexual misconduct and did nothing be held accountable for their refusal to act thereby enabling others to be hurt.”

The bishop stated that he has “always taken prompt action” in removing anyone under his authority against whom credible allegations of abuse have been made. He assured his readers that seminarians, priest, religious, and lay staff in the diocese all know that they can report boundary violations without fear of reprisal.

This letter is a contrast to milder episcopal reactions to allegations that the former Cardinal McCarrick is an active homosexual who has abused, in addition to seminarians and young priests under his authority, boys as young as 11. Not only does Bishop Olson call out McCarrick for the evil he has perpetrated, he bluntly admits that other leaders in the Church knew of the bishop’s “crimes and sexual misconduct,” did nothing, and must be held accountable.   

Below is Olson's full letter.

Bishop Michael F. Olson

Letter to the Faithful of the Diocese of Fort Worth Regarding Former Cardinal McCarrick

and

the Protection of Minors and the Vulnerable

in the Diocese of Fort Worth

July 28, 2018

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Ministry in the Church is a grace from God that carries with it sober responsibility. Ministry is not a right to be claimed by anyone as an entitlement; rather, it involves a covenantal trust established through our Baptism as members of the Church established by Christ.

We see in the scandalous crimes and sins alleged to have been committed by now former Cardinal McCarrick, the violation of that trust and the grave damage caused to the lives and health of his purported victims. This scandal and pain are compounded by the horrific fact that reportedly one of his victims was his first baptism after his priestly ordination.

The Holy See has removed the former Cardinal from public ministry following an investigation that found allegations that he sexually abused a teenager almost 50 years ago while serving as a priest of the Archdiocese of New York to be credible. As each day passes, we learn that the former Cardinal not only allegedly perpetrated abuse against minors but also against subordinates including priests, seminarians, and members of the laity. The evil effects of these actions were multiplied by the fact that financial settlements were arranged with victims without transparency or restrictions on the former Cardinal’s ministry.

Although he has now resigned from the College of Cardinals and has been suspended a divinis with direction to live a life of prayer and penance in seclusion, the alleged crimes of the former Cardinal have caused such further damage to the integrity of the hierarchy and mission of the Church that his prompt reduction canonically to the laity should be strongly deliberated, as has been the case for many other priests, for reconciliation and healing in the light of the justice and merciful redemption as won by Christ and promised to all who are alienated by the corruption of sin.

Justice also requires that all of those in Church leadership who knew of the former Cardinal’s alleged crimes and sexual misconduct and did nothing be held accountable for their refusal to act thereby enabling others to be hurt.

The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth and I have zero tolerance for sexual abuse against minors, as well as against vulnerable adults by its clergy, staff, and volunteers, including me as bishop. This is manifested both in our policies and in our actions. During my nearly five years of serving as your bishop, I have always taken prompt action in removing priests, deacons, staff and volunteers when credible allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct have been established. Our process has included transparently calling for victims, with due respect for protecting the identities of the victims.

Our seminarians, priests, deacons, and religious and lay staff are taught to recognize and to report boundary violations without fear of retribution, no matter the status of the perpetrator.

Please continue to pray for the reported victims and the families who have been hurt by the alleged crimes and sins of former Cardinal McCarrick and others. Pray also that we can work together to respond not only in word but in action to prevent further crimes and transgressions. Seeking your prayers and pledging you mine, I remain,

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Michael F. Olson, STD, MA

Bishop of Fort Worth

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A screen grab from Hashem Al-Ghaili video 'Welcome to life!' Hashem Al-Ghaili / Youtube screen grab
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Amazing new video illustrates humanity of preborn baby in womb

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By Calvin Freiburger

July 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In just a week, a Facebook video depicting preborn humanity in vivid details has amassed tens of millions of views.

Hashem Al-Ghaili is a Yemeni man who lives in Germany and works as an independent “influencer” primarily through his popular Science Nature Page on Facebook. He also shares informative content on YouTube and Flickr, and his work has inspired people to seek him out as a public speaker and media consultant.

One of his most recent videos, first uploaded to YouTube on June 3 but shared on Facebook last week, illustrates the entire process of fertilization, implantation, development, and birth. The Facebook version features different music and informative captions added throughout.

"Welcome to Life!" reads a caption at the end of the film. 

The video begins with an egg’s release into the fallopian tube, egg and sperm “fus[ing] to form a zygote” in fertilization, and the zygote’s implantation in the uterine lining. From there the audience sees “rapid” cellular division, with the embryo quickly taking on a recognizably-human shape.

The apolitical video does not explicitly stake out a position on the debate over when life begins, although settled scientific criteria establish that the physical life of a distinct human organism begins at fertilization, rather than implantation. This consensus has been established for years in mainstream medical and biology textbooks, with many abortionists and even some pro-abortion activists admitting that the procedure they champion kills living babies.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a purportedly-impartial medical authority that in reality advocates for forcing medical professionals to provide abortion referrals, redefined “conception” in the 1960s to refer to implantation rather than fertilization, for the purpose of making contraception more culturally acceptable. Even so, a 2011 survey found that most OB/GYNs continue to say life begins at fertilization, not implantation.

The video goes on to highlight several milestones of fetal development, such as the brain, nose, mouth, ears, and intestines beginning to form at six weeks; the heart being fully developed by ten; the baby beginning to kick at 18 weeks; and more.

Despite preborn babies being fully alive and human from the start of pregnancy, displaying most of the secondary characteristics associated with life by the end of the first trimester, and being able to feel pain by 20 weeks (and potentially earlier), abortion is effectively legal through all nine months in the United States and Canada. Polls consistently show that a majority of Americans would ban most abortions, and pro-abortion activists intensely oppose laws requiring abortionists to offer women ultrasound images, fearing they would cause such numbers to rise further still.

As of the time of this writing, Hashem Al-Ghaili’s video has been on Facebook for “about a week,” during which it has been viewed 39 million times and shared more than half a million. Al-Ghaili’s Facebook page has more than 27 million followers.

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Fr. Thomas Rosica Patrick Craine / LifeSiteNews
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Vatican consultant Fr. Rosica a no-show at Mass for pro-LGBT group

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By Lianne Laurence

TORONTO, July 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Vatican consultant and frequent English-language spokesman for the Vatican Fr. Thomas Rosica was a no-show at a special Mass for an LGBT group in Toronto on the weekend.

All Inclusive Ministries, which meets at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, had announced on its Facebook and website that Rosica, “one of the most influential personalities in the Catholic world,” would be saying its monthly Mass July 28. 

But the Basilian priest and executive director of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation was nowhere to be seen that evening.

Instead, Our Lady of Lourdes associate pastor Doug McCarthy said Mass for the LGBT group in a church in which the rainbow flag was conspicuously absent.

Moreover, all references to Rosica’s expected participation have disappeared from AIM’s Facebook page and website.

LifeSiteNews reported last week that Joseph Sciambra, who has written a book about his deliverance from the homosexual life and return to the Catholic faith, raised alarm that Rosica was addressing a “dissident pro-gay ministry.”

Toronto Catholic Witness also reported on Rosica’s scheduled address. 

According to one attendee at the LGBT Mass, the parish decided to “postpone” Fr Rosica’s visit for fear the LifeSiteNews report about the event would lead to protest. 

A sole witness was outside the church before Mass with a sign: “Sacrilegious Holy Communion kills souls kills bodies. Will you re-crucify Him today?” and reading from a prepared text, which ended with the St. Michael’s prayer.

The attendee said that although Rosica was not celebrating the Mass, he had invited AIM's core group to dine with him later that evening.

Fr Rosica did not return calls from LifeSiteNews to confirm either why he was a no-show, or what his dinner plans were that evening.

LifeSiteNews contacted Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, as well as associate pastor McCarthy and pastor, Fr. John Sullivan, for comment, but did not hear back.

Sciambra has been highly critical of Catholic leadership in the United States for facilitating acceptance of homosexuality in the Church, whether knowingly or not.

He finds it significant that Fr. Gilles Mongeau, who founded AIM in 2012 with the backing of the archdiocese, traces the group’s roots back to Dignity, a dissident American group lobbying the Catholic Church to accept homosexuality.

In a March 2017 lecture, Mongeau said AIM’s “antecedents” were Dignity, the Soho Gay Mass in London, England, and the Chicago-based Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach or AGLO, Sciambra wrote on his blog.

Mongeau, who has not been officially involved with AIM for three years, told LifeSiteNews in 2014 AIM was formed to provide pastoral care for individuals with same-sex attraction in keeping with Church teaching. 

Our Lady of Lourdes had previously hosted the local chapter of Dignity, and Mongeau said in 2014 AIM was in a process of “evolv[ing]” towards fully reflecting Church teaching.

Sciambra quoted AIM’s 2016 Facebook posts that suggest the group embraces dissenting views, including this: 

There are those whose theological project will always be to prove that gay love is something other than love. That proof can never be had. Gay love is love, and if Jesus was correct that the law is summed up in love, then homosexuality is hardly unbiblical. And if the end of natural law is to love rightly and fiercely, homosexuality is hardly immoral or unethical.

Jose Sanchez, outreach and promotion for AIM, wrote a blog in 2015 AIM titled LGBT & Christians: The Problem With “Loving The Sinner,” in which he advised people not to tell Catholics with same-sex attraction the following:“I love you, but you know that acting upon your same-sex attraction is a sin, right?”, “I love you but the Bible says same-sex acts are wrong”, “I love you but God has a better plan for you…”

Related:

Vatican consultant Fr. Rosica to say Mass for pro-LGBT group

The confusion and casualties of the Gay Civil War in the Catholic Church

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Planned Parenthood sues South Carolina to restore $15 million of axed abortion funding

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By Calvin Freiburger

COLUMBIA, South Carolina, July 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood is going to court in South Carolina in hopes of reversing an executive order excluding it from the state’s Medicaid plan.

Earlier this month, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster used his line-item veto to strip more than $15 million in tax dollars to abortionists out of the latest state budget, $100,000 of which would have gone specifically to Planned Parenthood facilities. He also issued an executive order disqualifying abortion facilities as Medicaid providers.

“I have stated many times I am opposed to what Planned Parenthood is doing. And the veto I have is the most direct way,” McMaster explained. “There are a variety of agencies, clinics, and medical entities in South Carolina that receive taxpayer funding to offer important women's health and family planning services without offering abortions.”

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and a patient filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Friday seeking a preliminary injunction against the order, the Post and Courier reports. They argue that both judicial precedent and federal law establish that Medicaid patients can visit any qualified provider they want, including Planned Parenthood.

“The women and men who come to Planned Parenthood for healthcare aren’t doing so to make a political statement,” Planned Parenthood South Atlantic CEO Jenny Black claimed. “Every day that this continues, both (Planned Parenthood) and our patients are irreparably harmed.”

In actual fact, however, legitimate providers of women’s health services dwarf abortion-involved facilities across the country. As of 2015, federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics outnumbered Planned Parenthood facilities 268 to 2 in South Carolina. Today, Planned Parenthood still has just two locations in the Palmetto state. Abortion.com lists a total of four abortion centers in South Carolina.

Defunding measures have a proven track record of reducing abortion rates, pro-lifers argue.

Fertility and unintended pregnancy rates were “fairly stable” for the past 35 years while the abortion rate dropped 50 percent from its peak in 1980, Charlotte Lozier Institute scholar and Ave Maria University professor Dr. Michael New told LifeSiteNews last year. “As such, it is difficult to argue that increased contraception use is responsible for America's long term abortion decline.” But “there is a substantial body of academic research which shows that a range of protective pro-life laws reduce abortion rates.”

“Gov. McMaster ordered (Health and Human Services) to continue reimbursing family planning providers because he recognizes how important those services are,” McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes responded in a statement Friday. “But like millions of South Carolinians, he believes in the fundamental right to life for unborn children and does not believe tax dollars should go to organizations that perform elective abortions, and he will fight this foolish lawsuit with everything he has.”

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Cardinal Donald Wuerl Patrick Craine / LifeSiteNews
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McCarrick’s former secretary claims Cardinal Wuerl didn’t know about abuse settlements

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By Claire Chretien

ANALYSIS 

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Donald Wuerl knew nothing of the abuse settlements paid to sex abuse victims of his predecessor Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, according to a letter sent to priests of the Archdiocese of Washington.

The letter, which came from Archdiocesan Vicar General Monsignor Charles Antonicelli, informed priests in the Archdiocese: “Neither the Archdiocese of Washington nor Cardinal Wuerl knew about these confidential settlements until this most recent credible and substantiated allegation against Cardinal McCarrick was made public.”

Antonicelli was McCarrick’s secretary when the cardinal was the Archbishop of Washington.

These settlements, for $100,000 and $80,000, were paid by the Dioceses of Trenton, Metuchen, and Newark in 2004 and 2006 to two men who had been abused by McCarrick while they were in the seminary as well as after they had become priests. McCarrick, known for being left-wing and supporting the distribution of Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, was installed as Archbishop of Washington at the beginning of 2001. He retired in 2006; Wuerl succeeded him.

“For clarity, the Archdiocese of Washington did not participate in, make any contributions to, nor was involved in any way with these settlement agreements,” wrote Antonicelli. He said the Archdiocese of Washington found out about these settlements – which occurred when McCarrick was its leader – the same way as the public did, via recent media reports.

Since McCarrick was removed from public ministry over a credible allegation he molested an altar boy 50 years ago, whistleblowers and victims have come forward to describe McCarrick’s predatory behavior and the disregard they received from Church officials when reporting it.

READ: Cardinal Farrell claims ‘shock’ at Cardinal McCarrick abuse. Really?

Pope Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals this weekend. On Saturday morning, the Vatican issued a short statement that McCarrick would stay at an undisclosed location and live “a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.”

Julia Duin at Get Religion wrote that she found Wuerl’s statement to local station WTOP in reaction to McCarrick’s resignation suspicious.

Wuerl told WTOP: “I think this was a big step forward in trying to act quickly, decisively, even though the whole procedure isn’t concluded yet. The pope is saying that we need to show that we are hearing these things, paying attention and acting.”

“Oddly, I could not find any video of Wuerl’s remarks on WTOP’s site, so I could not tell if he answered all the questions he was asked or whether he dodged any,” Duin wrote.

WTOP reported that Wuerl said he had “never been approached with allegations of abuse by McCarrick and was unaware of the rumors that have been associated with his predecessor.”

“What? Seriously? I can’t believe any reporter let him get away with that statement,” Duin continued. “This mess has been going on for more than a month and Cardinal Wuerl has yet to give a press conference about it. History's being made here and Wuerl's now camera shy?”

“I can possibly buy the first part of that sentence in that the dioceses that were approached were Metuchen and Newark. McCarrick hopefully ceased his sexual activity after becoming archbishop of Washington in 2000,” Duin allowed. “But the second part? That he didn’t know what the rumors were? He didn't know about any financial settlements? And ‘abuse of a minor’? How about the reports about the abuse of seminarians?”

She expressed doubt that Wuerl had never heard any rumors of McCarrick assaulting or harassing seminarians:

Reporters must not give Wuerl a pass on this. I can understand how maybe, just maybe in 2006, when he was made archbishop of Washington, he might not have known the specifics on McCarrick. But not knowing the rumors after 12 years? This is a man who's known as a power player in the Vatican. You think the folks over there just forgot to tell him about McCarrick?

One also wonders whether when Wuerl took office, any of the New Jersey bishops who had to shell out money to McCarrick’s victims warned Wuerl of the liability his predecessor posed.

Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, appointed by Pope Francis to run a new commission on child sex abuse, also says he didn’t know about allegations against McCarrick even though a priest sent him a letter about it in 2015.

“Recent media reports also have referenced a letter sent to me from Rev. Boniface Ramsey, O.P. in June of 2015, which I did not personally receive,” O’Malley wrote in the Boston Pilot. “In keeping with the practice for matters concerning the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, at the staff level the letter was reviewed and determined that the matters presented did not fall under the purview of the Commission or the Archdiocese of Boston, which was shared with Fr. Ramsey in reply.”

The Archdiocese of Boston has strict mandatory reporting policies when it comes child abuse, but those apparently do not compel clergy to report allegations against senior church officials outside the diocese. O’Malley’s statement did not indicate that his secretary, Father Robert Kickham, who responded to Ramsey’s letter, did anything beyond telling the fellow priest that the matter was not under their “purview.”

McCarrick reportedly lived on the grounds of a seminary during retirement. Allowing the cardinal to be in such a close proximity to young men actually seems consistent with the Archdiocese’s claim to not have known about his proclivities. However, as Duin pointed out in an earlier piece:

I covered the Pope Benedict’s 2008 visit to Washington, D.C. (and other cities) and I remember McCarrick was sidelined during those festivities. Rumor was that he was not happy about being deprived of a bigger role.

Look for this fact: Whose idea was it to take McCarrick down a peg, especially since McCarrick has always been a key source for national media?

Despite the statements from Wuerl and O’Malley, there are more questions than answers about who knew of McCarrick’s abuse, when they knew, and why they remained silent.

That McCarrick’s former secretary Antonicelli, now Washington’s Vicar General, is the one insisting of the archdiocese’s ignorance will almost certainly raise even more questions.

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Criminal investigation opened into doc who held patient down and ‘euthanized’ her

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By Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

July 30, 2018 (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) – A Dutch doctor who was rebuked for killing an elderly dementia patient without consent and in a traumatic manner has been given a formal reprimand by the Dutch medical complaints board, and may now face criminal charges. 

Worldwide horror

The case involved a woman in her seventies, who was placed in a care home after her dementia became so advanced that her husband could no longer cope with care at home. She was distressed and frightened, and after a few weeks, the doctor at the home determined that she was suffering unbearably. He concluded that she was not mentally competent, but that an earlier statement in her will that she wanted euthanasia "when I myself find it the right time"; justified killing her.

The story was greeted with horror around the world, as it emerged that the doctor drugged the victim's coffee, and had her family hold her down as she tried to fight off the lethal injection. Despite the woman not being mentally competent to consent to being killed, a review panel cleared the doctor of all charges.

No consent given

Now, the Dutch medical complaints board has formally reprimanded the unnamed doctor – the first case in which a practitioner has been formally censured since the Netherlands made it legal for doctors to kill patients at their request in 2002.

The board said that the woman's will was contradictory, and that although she said she wanted to die on some days, on others she did not. She had written an 'advance directive' asking to be killed if her dementia became too severe, but whenever the issue of asking to die was raised, she also added: "Not now, it's not so bad yet". The board found that the doctor should have discussed the fact that a sedative was put in her coffee – which did not happen – and only carried out euthanasia if she agreed.

Criminal charges

The chief public prosecutor at The Hague is investigating whether there are grounds for criminal charges to be laid against the doctor, with an announcement expected after the summer.

Even a euthanasia advocate who was involved in a historic case at the Supreme Court that helped set the legal conditions for the procedure in the Netherlands condemned the killing of the woman. 'This case is appalling,' said Dr Boudewijn Chabot, adding that the euthanasia of the Alzheimer's patient "goes beyond the law as we understand it."

Slippery slope

In March, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service announced that it has begun investigations into four cases of euthanasia, including one of a woman with Alzheimer's who was killed without consent. The dangers of legalised euthanasia to the vulnerable have also been highlighted in Belgium. It emerged this week that three children, one only nine years old, have had their lives ended by doctors since the euthanasia of minors was legalised in 2016.

Published with permission from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

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UK Supreme Court rules it is up to families whether brain-damaged relatives eat or starve

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By Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

July 30, 2018 (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) – The Supreme Court has ruled that doctors can withdraw food and fluid from brain-damaged patients without going to court – if the patient's family are in agreement.

The Care not Killing (CNK) Alliance, of which SPUC is a key member, has expressed concern and disappointment that a key safeguard has been removed from vulnerable patients.

Best interests?

The ruling will effect up to 24,000 patients with permanent vegetative state (PVS) and minimally conscious state (MCS), meaning they can now be effectively starved and dehydrated to death if the medical staff and relatives agree that this is in their 'best interests'.

People in these states can breathe without ventilators, but need to have food and fluids by tube (clinically assisted nutrition and hydration or CANH). Until last year, all requests to remove CANH had to go before the Court of Protection. Now, the Supreme Court has upheld an earlier ruling by the High Court that where relatives and medical staff agree that withdrawal of CANH is in the patient's 'best interests', the Court of Protection need not be involved.

Slippery slope

CNK Campaign Director Dr Peter Saunders said that the ruling "removes an important safeguard from those without a voice."

He also slammed the Supreme Court's ruling that there is no difference in principle between turning off a ventilator and removing a feeding tube as both are 'forms of medical treatment'

"In making these declarations Lady Black and the Supreme Court has dramatically moved the goalposts on end of life decision-making," he said. "Once we accept that death by dehydration is in some brain-damaged people's 'best interests' we are on a very slippery slope indeed.

'There is a clear difference between turning off a ventilator on a brain-dead patient and removing CANH from a brain-damaged patient. PVS and MCS differ from conditions with a 'downward trajectory' because they are not progressive and do not in themselves lead inevitably to death."

Thousands of people in danger

Dr Saunders also spelt out how the ruling puts the lives of the thousands of brain damaged people at risk, especially at a time when medical advances are being made in the treatment of severe brain conditions. "The Supreme Court has set a dangerous precedent," he said. "Taking these decisions away from the Court of Protection removes an important layer of legislative scrutiny and accountability and effectively weakens the law.

"It will make it more likely that severely brain-damaged patients will be starved or dehydrated to death in their supposed 'best interests' and that these decisions will be more influenced by those who have ideological or financial vested interests in this course of action."

Published with permission from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

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Lindsay Shepherd speaks on panel on 'BILL C-16 and COMPELLED SPEECH: One Year Later' July 18, 2018. Sarina Singh / Vimeo screen grab
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Panel slams Trudeau’s ‘gender identity’ law as ‘false and unscientific’ on its 1st anniversary

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By Lianne Laurence

TORONTO, July 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government opened the door to “state-sponsored child abuse” by enshrining the “false and unscientific” gender ideology into law in Bill C-16.

That message came loud and clear from panelists who blasted the bill on its first anniversary, and gender theory in general, at a discussion in Toronto July 18.

“Let me get this out of the way: gender is binary and not a social construct,” sex neuroscientist Dr. Debra Soh told the crowd of 725 at Canada’s Christian College to a burst of applause. 

“Children should not be used as pawns to further this agenda.”

Journalist Barbara Kay, lawyer Jared Brown, free speech advocate Lindsay Shepherd and organizer Sarina Singh likewise decried Bill C-16, which added “gender identity and expression” to Canada’s Human Rights Code and its Criminal Code hate crime section.

The Liberals passed the law last June over warnings from now famous Toronto psychologist Jordan Peterson it would lead to compelled speech. 

One year later, government, teachers’ unions, and the media have swallowed whole what Soh described as the “false and unscientific” gender ideology, which at last count proposed 72 varieties, including “moon gender” — in which one’s true gender only comes out at night.

“We are drowning in misinformation on this subject,” Soh said.

“Mainstream media coverage of it frankly terrifies me.”

Jail for denying gender theory

Brown, who appeared with Peterson before the Senate last May to argue against Bill C-16, said a “small cadre of trans activists” have “made a successful revolution” by instantiating a social construct into law.

Denying gender theory under Bill C-16 could result in jail or bankruptcy, he said.

A human rights tribunal can levy fines, or assign a “public interest remedy,” such as sensitivity training, and non-compliance would be considered contempt of court, said Brown.

And tribunals are now dealing with an “abundance” of gender identity discrimination claims, including a man who identified his gender as “the king” and was upset his “monarchy and authority was discriminated against.”

While “the king” lost, such claims flow logically from Bill C-16, which does not define gender expression and identity “to make the law as inclusive as possible,” Brown noted.

He advised people watch the case of Barry Neufeld, a British Columbia school trustee facing a human rights complaint for “transphobia” for criticizing the province’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI 123) curriculum.

Panelist Lindsay Shepherd said she was the first person publicly known to be accused of breaking Bill C-16.

A Wilfred Laurier University faculty member infamously accused the teaching assistant of transgressing Bill C-16 for showing students a video debate between Peterson and a transgender activist on the topic of gender identity, but not forewarning them of Peterson’s views.

That implies to criticize Bill C-16 is to violate it, Shepherd said.

She warned people to be alert to “cultural trends” advancing gender ideology.

For example, a GLAAD spokesman told the Toronto Star last month: “We need to start normalizing asking for pronouns, not just for non-binary trans people but in daily life.” 

That would include adding pronouns to one’s email signature and offering them when introduced, such as: “I use he/him pronouns. What about you?”

Teaching assistants told her they’ve been asked to declare their pronouns in classroom introductions, Shepherd said. She advises them, “just say your name, no pronoun.”

Facebook blocked organizer, YMCA pulled venue

Peterson was not there but promoted the panel before and after on Twitter, and his name was invoked frequently by panelists.​

Organizer Singh, former social worker turned free speech and parental rights’ advocate, made headlines last August when she booked Peterson for a free speech discussion at Ryerson University.

Ryerson pulled the venue a week before the event, citing safety concerns. Singh regrouped, and held the panel at Canada Christian College in November, drawing a record crowd of 1,500.

Singh rented space at the downtown YMCA for this year’s panel, but was told in May the facility inadvertently double-booked.

But the night before the YMCA called her, Singh received an email boasting “that’s the second time I’ve directly caused your plans to be changed.”

The sender mocked Singh as a “fraud” and concluded: “I’ll be keeping track of your footprint, however small it may be. I’ll keep calling, and keep emailing, and keep ensuring you stay on the fringe where it [sic] belongs.”

Moreover, Singh’s Rights and Freedoms Institute was “kicked off Facebook and my advertisements were all blocked,” and her website was briefly inaccessible, Singh said.

Moral obligation to speak out

A one time zealous left-wing feminist, Singh saw firsthand during her 22 years as a social worker the damage ideology does to families and children. She organized the panel at her own expense because she feels morally responsible to raise the alarm on gender ideology.

“I could never imagine the politically correct radical agenda reaching such a fervour that it would overlook science and medicine to instantiate this into law,” she told LifeSiteNews.

“I think a lot of people are actually not aware of what is actually happening in the schools, what actually is now policy, and what the results are if they don’t conform to this kind of thinking.”

Those who do know, may be “fearful,” but have to speak out, she says. 

“I really believe we’re at a point in our society where there are no options,” Singh said.

“This legislation is the most damning legislation I’ve seen, because its impact on children and teens will be absolutely enormous, and it will be lifelong.” 

Singh is undaunted by the hate mail, but concedes she’d like financial support to carry on her free speech advocacy, including more public discussions of contentious issues.

She’s offering a video of the C-16 panel on Vimeo for a small fee (here), and has launched a GoFundMe page “Identity Politics the New Normal” (here). 

“I’m still going to continue with this,” she told LifeSiteNews. 

“Because I really feel, like Dr Peterson always says, the price you pay when you don’t speak up is worse than the price you pay when you speak up.”

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Canadian man legally changes gender to save $1,000 on car insurance

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By Calvin Freiburger

ALBERTA, July 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An anonymous car shopper in Alberta known only as “David” isn’t transgendered, but pretending to be helped him save a lot of money on his car insurance.

Earlier this month CBC News spoke with David, who explained how he came up with the idea while shopping for a new Chevrolet Cruze. His insurance company told him it would come with a premium of about $4,500 per year due to previous tickets and a collision. If he was a woman, he learned, that cost would only be $3,400.

"I was pretty angry about that. And I didn't feel like getting screwed over any more," said David, who was 23 at the time. "So I asked them to change my gender on my auto policy, and she's like, we can't do that."

So David told his doctor “I’d like to identify as a woman.” The doctor wrote him a note confirming his decision, which he then submitted to Alberta’s provincial government (which has since made it even easier to legally change genders). A few weeks later, it sent him a new, female birth certificate.

"I was quite shocked, but I was also relieved," said David, who wound up getting the lower premium and saving approximately $91 per month. "I felt like I beat the system. I felt like I won."

David stressed that the stunt was neither a political statement nor an expression of gender confusion; it was solely to take “advantage of a loophole.”

"I'm a man, 100 per cent. Legally, I'm a woman," he said. "I did it for cheaper car insurance."

Insurance Bureau of Canada spokesman Steve Kee frowns upon such incidents, warning that it constitutes “making a fraudulent claim” and “could impact you for any future insurance application that you make, or any other aspect of your life." That’s why David has chosen not to share his real name while telling his story.

Car insurance tends to be more expensive for men because women are less likely to have car accidents, get speeding tickets, or be arrested for drunk driving, Esurance explains. Regardless, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled in 2011 that charging the different sexes different premiums is a form of discrimination.

The Daily Wire notes that the story has offended pro-LGBT activists such as former Trans Alliance Society chair Marie Little, who complained that it “casts doubt on everybody else's motives for making those changes.”

"Whether he says, 'I didn't mean to do harm to the trans community,' is irrelevant because the impact is very real to a community that is already quite vulnerable," Marni Panas, a “trans woman,” told CBC News.

Critics quoted by the CBC did not explain how exactly it harmed gender-confused individuals, however, nor did they address the fact that David’s stunt was only possible thanks to rules that deny gender has any objective, externally-verifiable standard.

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Oregon to vote this fall on taxpayer funding of abortion

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By Calvin Freiburger

July 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The people of Oregon will vote in November on whether to force taxpayers to finance abortions.

The state determined last week that pro-life activists had submitted 117,799 valid signatures to place Initiative Petition 1 which will most likely be known as Measure 106, on the fall ballot, The Oregonian reports. Exceeding the minimum requirement by just 221, the measure asks voters to approve a state constitutional amendment declaring that the “state shall not spend public funds for any abortion, except when medically necessary or as may be required by federal law.”

“Medically necessary” is defined as any physical condition “that would place [the mother] in danger of death unless an abortion is performed,” while “required by federal law” refers to federal rules requiring that exceptions be made for rape or incest. The amendment would also allow the “termination of a clinically diagnosed ectopic pregnancy” to receive public funds.

“We did something many people didn’t think was possible,” said Oregon Life United (OLU) director Jeff Jimerson. “Oregonians can finally vote to stop the funding of elective abortions with our state tax dollars.”

Pro-abortion lobbying groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon have naturally come out against the amendment, with the former’s executive director Grayson Dempsey suggesting it somehow violates “the right to health care” for “women and their families.”

But the measure “doesn’t stop anyone from choosing to have an abortion, it simply prevents using public funds to pay for it,” Jimerson told Oregon Public Broadcasting. It “gives a little bit of a speed bump” that encourages women to reconsider.

Pro-life and pro-abortion groups agree that Oregon is one of the most abortion-friendly states in the nation. It has no pro-life laws on the books, is one of 17 states that allow Medicaid funds to be used directly for abortions, and it requires health insurance plans to cover virtually all abortions for any reason, without any copay, under a law signed last year by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.

While current federal law only allows direct federal funding of abortions for rape, incest, or physical medical emergencies, federal funding of groups such as Planned Parenthood has been estimated to indirectly cover almost 25 percent of all abortion costs.

Oregon’s permissive abortion regime has spent almost $24 million on 52,438 abortions in the past 14 fiscal years, OLU says, citing a report from the state Division of Medical Assistance Programs. Christian News Northwest adds that the Oregon Health Plan funds an estimated ten abortions per day, with more than $1.7 million going to kill 3,556 babies in the last fiscal year alone.

Similar efforts failed to qualify for the ballot in 2012 and 2014, leading Oregon Right to Life to choose not to back the current campaign. But OLU notes that this year’s effort had more time, organization, and assistance, citing the support of more than 550 churches in the state, as well as endorsements from Archbishop Alexander Sample, Bishop Liam Cary, former pastor and pro-life author Randy Alcorn, and more.

Putting the question directly to Oregon voters bypasses both the pro-abortion legislature and an inevitable veto from Brown, an openly bisexual former abortion lobbyist.

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Cardinal Theodore McCarrick attends a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in 2005. Marco Di Lauro / Getty Images
Phil Lawler

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Lay Catholics express ‘righteous anger’ over Church leaders’ failure in McCarrick scandal

Phil Lawler
By Phil Lawler

July 30, 2018 (CatholicCulture.org) – This week I have been swamped with messages from loyal Catholics who have been shaken and disgusted by the latest eruption of the continuing sex-abuse scandal in the Church. I wish I saw some sign that our bishops recognized the rising tide of anger – righteous anger – among the most active lay Catholics.

Unfortunately, Bob Royal is on target when, borrowing a line from Leo Strauss, he says that the American bishops are like Nero, except "they know neither that they are fiddling nor that Rome is burning." Royal sums up the general level of dismay by saying that it is imperative for Church leaders to learn how the cancer metastasized:

Finding out how this was possible is going to call for some painful self-examination, both here and in Rome itself. But the alternative is business as usual. And that business is now in danger of bankruptcy.

In my view the most distressing development of the week was the craven public statement from Cardinal Sean O'Malley – who, as chairman of the special papal commission on sexual abuse, should be leading the charge against clerical misconduct. Instead he offered a bureaucratic response. He invoked the mossy old dodge that a crucial letter did not reach him. Notice that the cardinal did not say that he was unaware of the letter's contents. But if he wasn't aware, he should have been; and if he was aware, he should have taken action.

In National Review, Michael Brendan Dougherty did a thorough job of deconstructing Cardinal O'Malley's letter, along with the protestations of ignorance by Cardinal Kevin Farrell. He argues persuasively that the problem is not an absence of standards, policies, and procedures, but "a fear of confrontation, insufficient zeal, or – most likely of all – ...moral compromise and passivity..."

In some cases, bishops showed themselves to be simply tone-deaf: unable to recognize that the patience of their people has been exhausted. Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, who has often been a breath of fresh air because of his willingness to speak plainly, blundered badly with a Twitter comment, saying that despite the latest uproar he was proud of his brother bishops. That prompted avery lively rejoinder at Catholic World Report by Christopher Altieri, who had a simple, blunt message for the American bishops: "You have all failed us."

(I am sorry that Bishop Tobin, shaken by the vitriolic reaction to his post, announced that he was deleting his Twitter account, convinced that the forum was an occasion of sin for himself and for others. He will be missed.)

If Altieri was rough on the US bishops, Ross Douthat of the New York Times was scathing in his analysis. Douthat made the trenchant observation that although the Catholic blogosphere is buzzing with news and analysis about the scandal, the secular media have taken a much less aggressive approach. Douthat believes that "because of secularization and polarization and the bonfire they have made of their own moral authority, the Catholic bishops are now somewhat protected from media scrutiny by virtue of their increasing unimportance."

There is a great deal of truth in that argument. The scandal is an important matter for those of us who think that the Catholic Church is important. But for those who are indifferent or hostile to Catholicism, the devastation wreaked upon Church authority during the "Long Lent" of 2002 may be sufficient. On the other hand, Douthat does not deal with another obvious reason why the secular media have shown less interest in revisiting the story: The latest stories are very clearly stories about homosexual misconduct, and the secular media are, by and large, favorably disposed to the homosexual cause.

Nevertheless I think Douthat captures the importance of this moment for the Church:

The question that the church's leaders need to ask themselves, in America but especially in Rome, is whether they are happy with this settlement—happy to be ignored so long as they can also evade accountability for what's still rotten in the church, happy to serve out their time as stewards of a declining institution than demanding the heads of the men whose culpable ignorance made the decline much steeper than it should have been.

If anyone reading his column has somehow missed the uproar, J.D. Flynn provides a thorough briefing on the major elements of the story. Rod Dreher has written on the topic early and often, and his treatments – just one example among many here – have been exhaustive.

Of course I have been busy, too. My analyses are available here and here and here and here and here on the Catholic Culture site, as well as for First Things.

(Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org.)

Published with permission from CatholicCulture.org.

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Tracy Beatie, who now goes by 'Thomas', has made headlines as the so-called 'Pregnant Man.'
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Why ordinary people disregard the transgender movement as utterly insane

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By Jonathon van Maren

July 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Several times over the past year or two I’ve written columns noting that there is a growing backlash to the transgender movement. Much of their ideology is simply too radical for ordinary men and women to accept, and as such trans activists have relied on the institutions where they have accrued power—progressive political parties, academia, and the media—to push and enforce their agenda. But despite this, their ideas have not actually gained as much traction in the broader population as their cultural clout might suggest.

Let’s do a thought experiment and go through a few questions so I can illustrate what I mean. Think about the people you know—the ordinary men and women you work with, for example (this does not apply if you happen to work at a university.) Consider how those people—that is to say, normal, average people—would answer these questions, or how many of them would pass muster in the eyes of trans activists currently engaged in a cultural revolution.

In some places—New York State, for example—it is illegal to “misgender” someone or refuse to use their “preferred pronoun.” These pronouns include words like “co,” which becomes “coself,” “ey,” which becomes “emself,” and “xie,” which can be translated to “hirself.” There are now dozens of others, and lists of these invented pronouns continue to evolve. 

Now, the questions: Do you know a single person who can actually list off more than a few of these pronouns? And how many people do you know who would not be able to list any of them? I’ve worked at a lot of different places—construction sites, landscaping crews, a fencing outfit, a greenhouse operation. In not a single one of these places would any of the people I worked with have been able to come up with the pronoun “xie,” much less conjugate it to “hirself.” The simple fact is that these words only exist in an elitist bubble, but are virtually unknown by the rest of the population.

Another question. Trans activists now claim that there are many genders beyond simply male and female, and the elites are dutifully falling into line. One activist says there is more than 60 different genders, and Facebook offers over 70 gender options for its users. But think about it for a moment: How many people do you know who can list off more “genders” than male or female? Or how many people can even say how many genders there are at the moment, according to our current cultural overlords? Answer: Probably none.

Of course, there are many advocates of gender fluidity who have moved beyond gender entirely and claim that many people are “non-binary.” A “non-binary” person is apparently neither male nor female, and so can identify as “neither,” pick whatever pronoun he or she wants, and insist that they be recognized by society as some sort of androgynous “in-between.” Question: How many people do you know who would recognize the term “non-binary,” or would be able to explain this gender incoherence coherently?

And then we have the “bathroom wars,” with trans activists insisting that people should be able to traipse into whichever bathroom they like, depending on how they identify. This means that biological males in possession of fully functioning penises can (and do) get access to female bathrooms. How many average moms and dads do you know who would be comfortable with allowing their daughter in the same bathroom as a man? (Questions like this reveal the immediate limits of ideological colonization: People will accept virtually anything until it affects themselves or people they love.)

A final question. Consider, for a moment, the things that trans activists now expect us to believe and accept: “Men can get pregnant,” “men can breastfeed,” “the phrase ‘expectant mother’ is trans-exclusionary,” and so on. How many people do you know who actually believe these things? How many people do you know who find these statements to be perfectly reasonable? And how many people think it is a smart idea to teach such things to children in school?

I point these things out to emphasize one very important point: As Gabrielle Kuby, author of the magnificent book The Global Sexual Revolution: Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom, told me in a recent interview, these ongoing cultural revolutions are not like revolutions of the past. They are not revolutions by the people, for the people. They are not the populist uprisings of people demanding change. These cultural revolutions are top-down: Progressive politicians, select academics, and cowed journalists might accept the ideologies of gender-fluidity, but the average working man and woman still find much of this stuff to be insane when they are confronted with the beliefs and implications of gender fluidity. 

These ideas are being imposed on us, not demanded by us. Trans activists are demanding that the people accept their ideas. Trans activists claim that they are championing a new understanding of gender, but it is as of yet largely confined to the elites. They say that language evolves, and that trans pronouns will be ubiquitous in no time—but not even their political allies know most of these recently invented words. Despite the lighting-fast speed at which their cultural revolution has progressed, trans activists have not actually accomplished much at the grassroots level.

I suspect they know this, which is why they try so hard to force their ideologies into the schools, where they can indoctrinate the children of the working class men and women who have far too much common sense to accept their ridiculous ideas. As always, this battle will boil down to a fight for the hearts and minds of the next generation.

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Why spiritually dead Catholics must confess mortal sin before receiving Holy Communion

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By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

July 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Among Catholics who still attend Mass, there is a major problem: the collective and indiscriminate reception of Holy Communion, even by those who are not properly prepared and disposed to receive the Lord to their benefit. That this is a major problem was acknowledged straightforwardly by the previous two popes.

Sometimes, indeed quite frequently, everybody participating in the Eucharistic assembly goes to communion; and on some such occasions, as experienced pastors confirm, there has not been due care to approach the sacrament of penance so as to purify one’s conscience. (John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae, 11)

This passage might qualify to receive an award for understatement, but its meaning is unambiguous. Purifying one’s conscience through sacramental Confession on a regular basis—certainly whenever a grave or mortal sin has been committed—is the only way to guarantee that we are showing proper reverence to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy One of Israel, really present in the Most Blessed Sacrament as the food for our pilgrimage to heaven. 

As the Church teaches, the Eucharist is not a remedy for those whose souls who are dead, but a food for those who, being alive, need to be strengthened for the life of charity. You can give food all day long to a dead man and it will never do any good. In the spiritual life, it is worse: when a spiritually dead man takes the bread of life, he becomes more guilty. And the giving of such food to unrepentant public sinners (such as priests or bishops giving the Lord to politicians who vote in favor of abortion) heaps burning coals upon the heads of both the recipient and the minister. There’s no beating around the bush about this, which is the unanimous teaching of every Father, Doctor, and Pope who holds the Catholic Faith.

Pope Benedict XVI noted in an interview that it disturbed him to see crowds coming to communion at big events at the Vatican, when it was clear that many were tourists or visitors, or otherwise indisposed (e.g., by lack of fasting). He therefore re-introduced the use of kneelers and had the host distributed to kneeling faithful on their tongues in order to remind people that this is a sacred ritual involving the Most Holy, the Sanctissimum:

There is a great danger of superficiality precisely in the kinds of mass events we hold at St Peter’s... In this context, where people think that everyone is just automatically supposed to receive communion—everyone else is going up, so I will, too—I wanted to send a clear signal... This is not just some social ritual in which we can take part if we want to. (The Light of the World, p. 156)

The reason for all this concern is quite simple, expressed with incomparable brevity and clarity by the Council of Trent:

It is unfitting to take part in any sacred function without holiness. Assuredly, therefore, the more that Christians perceive the sacredness and divinity of this heavenly Sacrament, the more must they take every care not to come to receive It without reverence and holiness, especially since we have the frightening words of St Paul: “For those who eat and drink unworthily, eat and drink damnation to themselves, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor 11:29). Those wishing to receive Communion must be reminded of St Paul’s command: “Let a man examine himself” (1 Cor 11:28). (Session 13, ch. 7)

Given all this, Catholics need to know what it means to “take every care not to come to receive It without reverence and holiness.” What are the conditions for the fruitful and frequent reception of the Most Blessed Sacrament?

The answer was given authoritatively in the 1905 decree Sacra Tridentina Synodus of the Sacred Congregation of the Council, which reflects the mind and will of Pope St. Pius X. This pope, in response to lingering forms of Jansenism that discouraged the faithful from approaching the altar, lowered the age for First Communions and encouraged frequent reception of the Lord. The conditions are as follows:

First, one who wishes to approach the sacred banquet must be in a state of grace, that is, not aware of being guilty of any unconfessed mortal sin.

Second, he must have a “right and devout intention.” The decree defines this as follows: “that he who approaches the Holy Table should do so, not out of routine, or vainglory, or human respect, but that he wish to please God, to be more closely united with Him by charity, and to have recourse to this divine remedy for his weakness and defects.” In other words, the communicant should be conscious of what he is doing and Whom he is approaching (hence, not from routine), and that he is doing it to please the Lord and sanctify his soul through a closer union with Him, not because of what others may be thinking (hence, not from vainglory or human respect).

Third, while it is fitting he should be free of fully deliberate venial sins and any affection for them, he should at least be free from mortal sin—and in such a way that he has the intention of never sinning mortally in the future. This is a particularly important point today, in the huge mess created by Amoris Laetitia. As long as a Catholic intends to continue living in sin, that is, cooperating in an objectively sinful situation, such as a civil marriage with another partner while the original spouse is still alive, he or she may never receive Holy Communion, because there is no intention of not sinning in the future.

Fourth, while it is not absolutely required that a communicant have spent time in careful preparation or that he spend time afterwards in thanksgiving, both of these—the preparation and the thanksgiving—are vital to obtaining the full benefit of reception of the Holy Eucharist. As the decree puts it: “the sacraments … produce a great effect in proportion as the dispositions of the recipient are better.” Apart from the hidden intentions of God who wills to elevate some souls higher than others, it is, on our part, the exercise of a lively faith and the stirring up of actual devotion in approaching the altar and communing with the Lord that accounts for the difference between those whose frequent communions transform them into saints, and those who seem to be left relatively unaffected even by daily contact with the Lord.

In brief, the four conditions for frequent and fruitful reception of Holy Communion are: (1) being in a state of grace, (2) having a right and devout intention, (3) being free from attachment to sin, in the sense of intending not to sin in the future, (4) making due preparation and thanksgiving.

What will be the result if we follow the wise counsel of Holy Mother Church? The same decree puts it beautifully: “by the frequent or daily reception of the Holy Eucharist, union with Christ is strengthened, the spiritual life more abundantly sustained, the soul more richly endowed with virtues, and the pledge of everlasting happiness more securely bestowed.”

What a privilege—and what a challenge to us to order our lives so that we may grow in grace, purity, faith, and devotion!

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