All articles from October 2, 2018

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6-year-olds forced to write gay ‘love letters’ to teach ‘accepting diversity’

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By Calvin Freiburger

WARRINGTON, England, October 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A primary school in England makes children as young as six write “love letters” inserting themselves into a homosexual fairytale, according to a recent video from BBC Radio Manchester.

The Blaze reports that the video profiles a class at Bewsey Lodge Primary School, in which teacher Sarah Hopson has her students place themselves in the role of Prince Henry and write a letter asking male servant Thomas to “marry” him.

“This school teaches children about LGBT relationships from an early age,” text over the video explains. “This class of 6 year olds is learning about gay marriage [...] all ages take part in LGBT lessons.”

Children are “going to go out into that world and find this diversity around them, and they’ll find that at a young age as well,” Hopson told the BBC. “And the more they can be accepting at this age, you’re not going to face it further on because the children will be accepting now and will be accepting this diversity around them.”

Bewsey Lodge appears to pride itself for pushing the envelope in promoting homosexuality and gender fluidity to young children. It has gender-neutral uniforms, and its website declares that “any form of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia is unacceptable,” and posts a code of conduct declaring “respect” for anyone’s “gender identity,” “marriage,” or “sexual orientation.”

The school’s “Personal, Social, and Health Education” (PSHE) program seeks to “provide pupils with [...] opportunities to explore, clarify and if necessary challenge, their own and others’ values, attitudes, beliefs, rights and responsibilities.”

The program lists “Diversity and equality (in all its forms)” as one of its overarching concepts, with goals to teach students “to be a productive member of a diverse community” and about their “rights and responsibilities as members of diverse communities.”

Specifically, it calls for teaching about “sources of support and reassurance” for “diversity in sexual attraction and developing sexuality,” the “difference between sex, gender identity and sexual orientation,” recognition of “diversity in sexual attraction,” understanding “accepted terminology” on LGBT topics, the “need to challenge” “sexist, homophobic, transphobic and disablist language and behaviour,” and more.

The guidelines also suggest that “living together” and “civil partnerships” are equally valid to marriage in “demonstrat[ing people’s] commitment to each other,” and call for teaching “about the potential tensions between human rights, British law and cultural and religious expectations and practices.” The next line declares the “primacy of human rights,” but does not elaborate on its definition of “human rights.”

In June, Bewsey Lodge accepted an “Educate and Celebrate” Best Practice Gold Award for its pro-LGBT work.

Various members of the BBC’s audience took exception to the school’s actions and priorities, Breitbart adds.

“Why not teach them life skills, how to cook, how to wash and iron, how to manage money and save, learn about bank accounts and mortgages?” one asked. Another blasted the school for “imposing an adult agenda onto little children,who could not care less about the topic, if not compelled by adults.”

Children “need to be kids for as long as they can be,” lamented a third commenter opposed to introducing students to sexual topics at such an early age.

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Bishop Felix Genn
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German bishop: I will not ordain traditionalists as priests

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

FULDA, Germany, October 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A German bishop has expressed dislike for “pre-conciliar types of clerics," stating that he will not ordain them. 

Bishop Felix Genn of Münster made his views clear to journalists at a September 26 press conference in Fulda, Germany where he spoke about the upcoming Youth Synod in Rome.

“I can decidedly say I don’t care for pre-conciliar types of clerics, and also I will not consecrate them,” he said. 

Genn, who has been implicated in the dissemination of LGBT literature to young people, will himself be taking part in the Youth Synod, which begins tomorrow. 

His remarks appeared to be a response to Paul Metzlaff, a representative from the German bishops’ Youth Ministry Office, who had remarked on the love of some young Catholics for more traditional forms of worship and prayer. 

According to Die Tagespost, Metzlaff said that these “traditional-postmodern” young Catholics treasure traditional forms of piety and classical forms of prayer. He observed that the strongest criticism of the Youth Synod’s working document had come from young people in the United States, and that these young Catholics had declared that the Extraordinary (or traditional) Form of the Mass had not been respected to their satisfaction. 

“In Germany we didn't even have it on our radar that young people would subscribe also to these Forms,” Metzlaff said. 

Austrian-American Benedict Waldstein, 30, told LifeSiteNews that he was curious about Metzlaff’s remarks.

“It would be really interesting to hear what Metzlaff had to say because in what is quoted he talks about American youth, but he may well have found out that there are also such people in Germany that hadn’t been on his radar, though clearly they had been on the bishop’s.” 

Jutta Maria Popp, who resides in the neighboring diocese of Essen, took issue with the Bishop of Münster’s attitude.

“Genn is par for the course for official German Catholicism,” she told LifeSiteNews. “They are deeply opposed to anything really Catholic. Their church was founded in 1965.” 

“They try and stop the [traditional] Latin Mass as much as they can, so what Genn says is typical and honest,” she continued. “Most bishops won't even allow priests to say the Traditional Latin Mass, or hire the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) priests, although the FSSP seminary is full to bursting, and the diocesan seminaries are empty.”

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Catholic U suspends pro-Kavanaugh dean as Georgetown prof wishes death on Republicans

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By Calvin Freiburger

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Two prominent Catholic universities are handling comments by faculty on opposite sides of the Brett Kavanaugh divide in very different ways, but both ultimately err on the side of the Supreme Court nominee’s critics.

The FBI is currently interviewing potential witnesses that could corroborate or refute Palo Alto University psychologist Christine Blasey Ford’s claims that the judge tried to rape her as a drunken teenager at a house party in the early 1980s.

Kavanaugh has forcefully denied the charge, and none of the individuals Ford claims attended the party can recall any such event, yet retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, requested a seventh FBI background inquiry in exchange for sending Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Senate floor.

Ford’s accusations were soon followed by assault allegations by Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, which also lacked corroboration. Last week, Catholic University of America’s (CUA) William Rainford used his official Twitter account to question Swetnick’s story that she witnessed Kavanaugh drinking “excessively” at parties, “grinding” against girls without their consent, and even attended parties in which “gang rape” was common.

“Swetnick is 55 y/o, Kavanaugh is 52 y/o,” wrote Rainford, dean of CUA’s National Catholic School of Social Service, in a tweet that’s since been deleted. “Since when do senior girls hang with freshmen boys? If it happened when Kavanaugh was a senior, Swetnick was an adult drinking with&by [sic] her admission, having sex with underage boys. In another universe, he would be victim & she the perp!”

More than 40 graduate social work students walked out of their classes in protest the next day, NPR reports, with many demanding the dean’s resignation.

Rainford wrote a letter that day apologizing for what he called an “impulsive and thoughtless” statement, and affirming that “Victims who suffer assault and abuse need to be heard, respected, and provided treatment and justice.” He also deleted his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

None of that was enough for CUA president John Garvey, however, who released a statement declaring it was “unacceptable” for Rainford to show a “lack of sensitivity to the victim,” and announcing that he would be suspended for the remainder of the semester. Associate Dean Marie Raber will serve in his place, while the provost’s office will conduct a “thorough review” of additional “concerns” regarding the social work school.

Mainstream secular media and liberal Catholic media often depict Garvey, who notably reinstated single-sex dorms, as a “conservative” whose administration is trying to strengthen the school’s Catholic identity and promote free market economics through its Charles Koch-funded business school. In addition to censuring the pro-Kavnaugh dean, Garvey has been critical of President Trump.

Following these events at CUA, NBC News aired an interview with Swetnick in which the network admitted it was unable to verify any of her claims, and in which Swetnick changed multiple details from her original written statement. Swetnick has also been at the center of multiple past lawsuits, including sexual harassment claims against former co-workers, falsely claiming to have graduated from Johns Hopkins University, and falsely claiming unemployment and disability payments.

Meanwhile, Georgetown University is standing by security studies professor Christine Fair after she used Twitter to call Kavanaugh’s defenders “entitled white men justifying a serial rapists’ arrogated entitlement.” She went on to claim that “all of them deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps.”

“Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to swine?” she added. “Yes.”

Twitter suspended her for several hours, the Daily Caller reports, a move The Wrap’s Jon Levine says was “in error” according to a Twitter representative. At the time of this writing, LifeSiteNews’ own attempts to look up @CChristineFair show the account has been suspended once again.

Yet the Jesuit institution apparently has no intention of disciplining her.

“The views of faculty members expressed in their private capacities are their own and not the views of the University. Our policy does not prohibit speech based on the person presenting ideas or the content of those ideas, even when those ideas may be difficult, controversial or objectionable,” Georgetown spokesman Matt Hill said, according to the Daily Wire. “While faculty members may exercise freedom of speech, we expect that their classrooms and interaction with students be free of bias and geared toward thoughtful, respectful dialogue.”

The Daily Wire’s Amanda Prestigiacomo expressed doubts about Fair’s capacity for respectful, non-biased teachings in light of her Twitter bio declaring she’s a “inter-sectional feminist [...] nontheist, resister”; her habit of wearing “Abort Trump” and “F*** Trump” stickers at public speaking events; and other examples of similar angry rhetoric.

“I want to know how @Georgetown justifies employing a scholar who openly advocates for the murder of her political opponents and for the mutilation of their corpses,” Orthodox Christian author Rod Dreher asked on Twitter.

Rainford’s “piddly tweet got the man suspended,” he added at The American Conservative, yet “everything is fine” at Georgetown. “Keep in mind that Georgetown University is where some of the nation’s foreign policy elites are trained — and that Christine Fair is part of that training,” Dreher warned.

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Supreme Court rejects challenge to Tennessee’s pro-life constitutional amendment

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By Calvin Freiburger

TENNESSEE, October 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court chose Monday not to consider a case against Tennessee’s Amendment 1, rebuking pro-abortion activists and letting stand a 2014 measure that declares there is no “right” to abortion in the state’s constitution.

The ballot initiative added language to Article 1 of the Tennessee Constitution declaring that none of its provisions “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion,” and that the “people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion.” It was approved 52.6% to 47.4% in 2014.

According to the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), the push for Amendment 1 was driven by a 2000 ruling of the state Supreme Court that found a “right” to abortion in the state constitution even broader than the national one supposedly identified in Roe v. Wade, striking down Tennessee’s duly-enacted laws requiring informed consent, 48-hour waiting periods, and that late-term abortions be committed only in hospitals.

“Plainly stated, the effect of the Court’s holding today is to remove from the people all power, except by constitutional amendment, to enact reasonable regulations of abortion,” dissenting Justice Mickey Barker wrote at the time.

Abortion advocates sued to invalidate the amendment by challenging the state’s method of counting votes for ballot initiatives. They argued that the number of “yes” votes must be equal to or greater than the number of people voting for governor plus one, and therefore only voters who voted in the gubernatorial race should have their votes on the amendment counted.

The state responded that the criteria used to ratify Amendment 1 was no different than that used for constitutional amendments over the past hundred years. Circuit Court Judge Michael Binkley agreed in 2016, but U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp ordered a recount nonetheless. This January, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Sharp’s recount order.

The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case leaves the Sixth Circuit’s ruling as the final word on the case, delivering pro-lifers a victory after almost two decades’ worth of legislative and judicial struggle.

Tennessee Right to Life president Brian Harris called the news a “cause for great celebration,” The Tennessean reports. "Now we have to continue to work for the day when every life is again protected by the laws of our state and nation.”

The decision "finally puts to rest any uncertainty surrounding the people’s 2014 approval and ratification of Amendment 1 by 72,000 votes,” state Attorney General Herbert Slatery III added. “This is a confirmation of the State’s position from the outset: a state, and not a federal court, should decide how votes are counted under its own Constitution [...] The votes were correctly and constitutionally counted and the plaintiffs’ claims of unfairness, lack of due process and equal protection were all denied.”

Before the amendment, Tennessee’s judicial status quo made the state an abortion destination with virtually nonexistent safety standards, pro-lifers argued. The Tennessean found in 2014 that more than a quarter of abortions sought in the state were from out-of-state women, and Tennessee OB/GYN Dr. Brent Boles explained in 2015 that “any inspections of abortion clinics in the state [since 2000] have been voluntary. For those clinics that did allow inspections, no enforcement provisions existed.”

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Christian college restores ban on homosexual relationships after backlash

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By Calvin Freiburger

AZUSA, California, October 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Azusa Pacific University (APU), an evangelical Christian school in California, has reinstated official language prohibiting homosexual relationships on campus following backlash.

Last week, LifeSiteNews reported that the school had removed language from its Student Standards of Conduct singling out homosexual relationships as an example of prohibited conduct. The school continued to forbid “sexual intimacy outside the context of” the marriage “covenant between a man and a woman,” but officials accepted LGBT activists’ argument that the overt reference to homosexuality “stigmatized” homosexual students and “falsely assumed that same-sex romances always involved sexual behavior.”

On September 28, the APU Board of Trustees released a statement announcing that it had not approved the revised language and the “original wording has been reinstated.” Student newspaper Zu Media clarifies that the previous change had been approved by the administrative board, but not the trustees.

“We affirm God’s perfect will and design for humankind with the biblical understanding of the marriage covenant as between one man and one woman. Outside of marriage, He calls His people to abstinence,” the trustees declared. “We pledge to boldly uphold biblical values and not waver in our Christ-centered mission.”

Zu Media notes that the Board of Trustees’ intervention also complicates last week’s other revelation, a joint Office of Student Life (OSL) and Student Government Association (SGA) pilot program providing an on-campus “safe space” for homosexual, bisexual, and gender-confused students.

Calling the trustees’ affirmation of traditional Christian teaching “heartbreaking” and claiming “some of the most devoted and confident Christians I’ve met at APU have been members of the LGBT community,” Student Life intern Nolan Croce said the pro-LGBT group he co-leads, called Haven, will continue to hold weekly meetings under a to-be-determined new name.

On September 25, Orthodox Christian author and The American Conservative contributor Rod Dreher shared part of a letter from APU professor Barbara Harrington to the Board of Trustees, which related the concerns of many faculty members about the school’s diminishing commitment to a “God first” approach.

“More and more, it seems clear that various spirits of the age are being raised up at APU, such that the God of traditional Biblical understanding, and what He asks of us, is being redefined,” she wrote. “The loss of ‘God First’ means APU stops progressing and loses itself and its defining character in a wave of change. It becomes a university indistinguishable from so many others who are sinking in the 'messy middle' of post-modern confusion.”

In addition to the Student Standards of Conduct change and formal recognition of Haven, Harrington cited the “radicalization of APU students [...] throughout the student body in the last several years,” with some of her own students declaring “there is no such thing as masculine or feminine” and that Christianity has been a “divisive and pernicious” force in human history.

Students start out with “a beautiful, if nascent understanding of themselves as believers, but they are open, hopeful, and searching for their niche in the Kingdom,” she explains. In courses on “the theology, Biblical studies, global studies and social justice arenas,” that niche is filled by “radical beliefs that deride and malign traditional Biblical Christianity.” Eventually, “unteachable” students begin to “espouse errant ideological trends that leave them isolated from the community, embittered against Christian faith and values, and approaching the world with a raised fist and angry slogans instead of an open heart and saving truth.”

Harrington called for the resignation of APU president Jon Wallace and for pausing the search for a new CEO until the trustees engage in “deep soul-searching” as to “what APU should be.” She also called for a halt to the student conduct changes and legitimizing of Haven, and an “extended consideration of the nature of authentic Christian teaching in the area of sexuality, and how a Christian university should respond to the current cultural confusion in this area.”

On Monday, more than 100 students gathered on campus for a “collective prayer” session for LGBT students that Zu Media describes as more akin to a protest. Students wore LGBT pins, brandished flags, and wrote chalk messages such as “policies don’t change identity” on walkways.

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Over 100 youth to Synod-bound archbishop: We love Catholic doctrine

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

EDINBURGH, Scotland, October 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Over 100 young Catholics have a message for the Scottish archbishop chosen to attend the Youth Synod: we love the doctrines of the Church.

The Catholics aged 18 to 35 signed a letter to Archbishop Leo Cushley of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh sharing their thoughts on their faith. While expressing their gratitude for the ministry they have experienced in Scotland, the writers worry that some Synod members are suggesting that “difficult aspects” of Catholic doctrine should be “downplayed and even put aside.”

“Some even imply that priests who hold to orthodox teaching are out of touch with the lives of lay people, and of young people especially. However, it is in fact this line of thought that is utterly in contradiction to our lived experience,” they wrote. (The full letter is published below.)

The young people said that it was the “uniquely Catholic” aspects of the faith that keep them in the Church, not concerns it shares with social clubs, political parties, or NGOs (non-governmental organizations).

“What matters is precisely the Church’s claim to truth; Her liturgy and Sacraments; Her transcendent doctrine, communicated in teaching but also through beauty and goodness; Her understanding of the human person, laid out so powerfully for the modern world by St. John Paul II; and Her moral teaching, that while so very challenging, also offers the only path to true joy and human flourishing as we see in the lives of the saints,” they wrote.

Only these things, they said, were worth the sacrifice to become and/or remain Catholic despite “increasing cultural pressure.”  

The young people also support orthodox priests. They wrote that priests who teach the “fullness” of Catholic doctrine bring “the light of Christ” into their lives.

“Far from being ‘out of touch,’ it is those priests who proclaim orthodox teaching in its fullness with joy and courage who have brought the light of Christ into our lives,” they wrote.  

Such priests have offered them Christ’s mercy “which does not pretend human brokenness is irremediable, but truly heals and gives the grace we need to live new lives of virtue,” they said. “To those priests, we are unendingly grateful.”

The young writers suggested that the majority of their generation hasn’t rejected authentic Catholicism but only a “poorly-misunderstood shadow” of it. Instead of innovations, they asked the archbishop for more beautiful liturgies and devotions; joyful examples of all the vocations; priests who are fathers instead of administrators, presiders, or pals; and a “proactive” response to the breakdown in family life.   

“The Church must be proactive and not merely reactive in facing the crisis affecting marriage and the family,” they wrote.

‘I hope to express in their name their great desire for a life of holiness’

Archbishop Cushley told LifeSiteNews via his press officer that he will be communicating the views of Scotland’s young people at the Synod.

“I am looking forward to the Synod on young people and to the opportunity to put not only my own views but also those of the young people who have approached me and spoke with me as I prepared to come here,” he wrote.  

“I have also met with many young people since coming to Edinburgh, including many young adults who wish to know and love Jesus Christ and to deepen their Catholic faith, and I have them in mind too as we get ready,” he continued.  

“I hope to be able to express in their name their great desire for a life of holiness, led by good and wise pastors who will bring them to Christ by their words, witness and actions. Please pray for us bishops and other delegates, including the young people at the Synod, and for those we endeavour to serve in these days!”

Ricardo German, a Brazilian student in Edinburgh, told LifeSiteNews that he signed the letter so that the archbishop would understand how important orthodox priests are to the young.

“In my three years in Scotland, Sunday Mass has been the place where I felt welcomed the most,” he said. “That is because our priest constantly reassures us of God’s readiness to forgive us if we seek His forgiveness through Reconciliation and through amending our actions.”

“I believe that is where rests the utmost importance of young Catholics reaching out to our Archbishop: so that His Grace can be made even more aware of our dire need for priests who, instead of telling us that we are ‘perfect the way we are,’ will encourage us to correct our failings and our imperfection through the Sacraments and the study of the Church’s perennial Doctrine,” he continued.

Margaret Akers, an American who married a Scottish convert to Catholicism, told LifeSiteNews that she felt warmly welcomed by the Church in Scotland and signing the letter was their way to say thank you.

“The formation we have received through communities for young Catholics has been so important to us over the last six years,” she told LifeSiteNews. “Therefore, this letter was an opportunity for us to say thank you to those who have helped in our proper catechesis, and to celebrate the beauty in Catholic teaching. It is our hope to see all young people receive the love, support, and Truth we have received.”

“Thankfully, so many young Catholics in Scotland share this desire and we hope to communicate that to His Grace [Archbishop Cushley] ahead of this most important Synod.”

Open Letter to Archbishop Leo Cushley

YOUR grace, Most Rev Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh. We write to you in advance of the upcoming Synod of Bishops on ‘Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.’ As young Catholics across Scotland, we would like to express our hopes and concerns for the future of the Church in this country.

In some of the discourse surrounding the synod, we have noted a trend of suggesting that difficult aspects of the Church’s teaching, in matters of morals and matters of Faith, need to be downplayed, or even put aside, in order to be relevant to people’s lives and sensitive to their difficulties.

Some even imply that priests who hold to orthodox teaching are out of touch with the lives of lay people, and of young people especially. However, it is in fact this line of thought that is utterly in contradiction to our lived experience.

What made us become and/or remain Catholic, against ever increasing cultural pressure, are those aspects of the Faith that are uniquely Catholic, not things that can be found in social clubs, in NGOs, or in political parties. What matters is precisely the Church’s claim to truth; Her liturgy and Sacraments; Her transcendent doctrine, communicated in teaching but also through beauty and goodness; Her understanding of the human person, laid out so powerfully for the modern world by St John Paul II; and Her moral teaching, that while so very challenging, also offers the only path to true joy and human flourishing as we see in the lives of the saints. These are the things that convince us that here is something worth the sacrifice, something good for us and for every human being.

Young Catholics are inspired by the heroic virtue espoused by the Church, in opposition to the cynicism and pessimism of postmodern culture. A Faith that merely legitimises the habits we would otherwise have anyway is simply not worth it. Far from being ‘out of touch,’ it is those priests who proclaim orthodox teaching in its fullness with joy and courage who have brought the light of Christ into our lives, and really offered us His Mercy—the remedy for a broken world, which does not pretend human brokenness is irremediable, but truly heals and gives the grace we need to live new lives of virtue. To those priests, we are unendingly grateful.

Sadly, far too few young people have encountered this fullness of the Faith lived out visibly and confidently. A young Catholic father in America recently wrote to Archbishop Chaput that ‘The disastrous effect that Beige Catholicism (as Bishop Robert Barron aptly describes it) has had on my generation can’t be overstated’ (‘From the Heart of a Young Father,’ Charles Chaput, First Things, April 18, 2018).

God has, in His mysterious ways, providentially and gratuitously blessed us with encounters, pastors, and formation that many of our peers have not had. We desperately want to share this great gift with so many lapsed and non-Catholics among our family, friends, and colleagues, who have not rejected Catholicism but a poorly-understood shadow of it. If the synod is to bear fruit, it is with this task that it must help us.

We need to ensure that our local Catholic communities are permeated with a Catholic worldview, and unashamed that such an orientation is very different from the prevailing cultural trends. The Sacramental life, beyond just Sunday Mass, needs to be obviously and visibly the foundation of Catholic existence. We must draw on our rich heritage to ensure the liturgy is celebrated with beauty and splendour so as to reveal and draw us into the profound mysteries taking place. We need to see the various vocations lived out fully and joyfully, with parishes and dioceses forming a living iconography of Faith, so that we can discern God’s will for our own lives, not in isolation but in an ecclesial context.

Young people need the chance to get to know our priests as priests—not just as administrators, nor presiders rushing from church to church, nor again merely as pals, but as fathers, whose fatherhood is rooted in their Sacramental identity as men called and set apart to absolve and to offer the Holy Sacrifice. Young Catholics find priests who live their vocation to celibacy faithfully and joyfully to be highly credible witnesses to the joys and challenges of life in Christ.

The Church must be proactive and not merely reactive in facing the crisis affecting marriage and the family. To a large extent, Catholic married life has come to be treated as little different from secular relationships. Our economic and social structures are based almost entirely around a presumption of contraception, and this makes it extremely difficult for any couples who live faithfully according to God’s commandments. So many of our generation are living with the consequences of broken families, and this has engendered a cynicism about marriage. However, these young people have never been shown an alternative and therefore the Church has a great opportunity and obligation to clearly, confidently, and joyfully proclaim the truth about marriage.

Young Catholics have a right to hear these truths at a local level so that our parishes are consciously supportive of the vocation to holiness in married life. This is vital since it is firstly in the family that vocations are fostered and it is on this foundation that an authentic renewal of Catholic culture and the life of the Church will be built.

There is no doubt that discovering and living out one’s vocation is very difficult in the modern world, as indeed it has been in every age. However, we know that God’s grace is enough for us and we hope and pray that a renewed Faith and confidence in this will suffuse the Church and inspire young people to discern and live out their vocations faithfully.

Entrusting the synod to the intercession of St John, youngest of the Apostles, we assure you of our prayers.


Gerald Bonner

Conor and Naomi Gildea

Ruairidh MacLennan

Christopher and Margaret Akers

Thomas Joseph Burns

Etienne Charpy

Grace Deighan

Euan Fairholm

Elena Feick

Elaine Furmage

Ricardo German

Christopher Grant

Caitlin Hainsworth

Rosemary Healy

Declan Jennow

Andrew Kelly

Árpád Stephen Kuffler

Rebecca MacKinnon

Katy Mallon

Bernhard Massani

James Joseph McDonald

Jamie McGowan

Andrew McManus

Calum and Rachel Munro

Aoife Ong

Megan Pawelczyk

Martin Ramage

Michael and Allie Robinson

Molly-Rose Smith

Victoria Stephens

Caitlin Tennent

Brian Timmons

Christina Viegelmann

Calum Douglas Wilson

Samuel Begbie

Celia Gabriela Alvarez

Campano Greta Cydzikaitė

Sean Deighan

James Michael Farrell

Michael Fenn

Paul Aidan Gallacher

Lewis Giacchetto

Louise Grant

Mr and Mrs Mark Hamid

Myriam Heggarty

Maryfrances Jennow

John Kennedy

Kenneth Law

Cailean MacLennan

Sarah Mallon

Anna McCourt

Callum McGinley

Liam McKechnie

Ross Gregory Mitchell

Niall and Ruth O Coinleáin

Matthew Pace

Fraser and Jane Pearce

Stefan Rástocký

Matthew Sheppard

Thomas Starkie

Andrew Stewart

Aidan Timmoney

Mihnea Vlad Turcanu

Maria Ward

Rebecca Wood

Anna Beňová

Stuart James Campbell

Clare Deighan

Deryn Teoh En-Jie

Catherine Farrelly

Naomi Forrester

Joseph and Julie Geoghegan

Julie Gilmore

James Edward Greechan

Šimon Hanzal

Felicity Howard

Lily Kearns

Ethan SH Kim

Carter Lyon

John Patrick Mallon

Alexander Masir

Charis McCrosson

Ciaran McGonigle

Róisín McLaren

James Mulholland

Hannah O’Neill

Katharina Alice Patommel

Miguel and Maria Carolina

Pereira da Silva

Andrew Robertson

Bartosz Skrzypczak

Petre and Mollie Stegaroiu

John Stockdale

Erin Timmoney

Henry Viall

Ian and Kristiina Watt

Oscar Wright

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Marie-Claire Bissonnette's attacker winding up for his round-kick in Toronto, Sept. 30, 2018.
Marie-Claire Bissonnette

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I’m a pro-life woman. This man just roundhouse-kicked me in public for my beliefs

Marie-Claire Bissonnette
Marie-Claire Bissonnette
Marie-Claire Bissonnette's attacker defending abortion in cases of rape, moments before the attack, Toronto, Sept. 30, 2018.
A screengrab from the video showing the attacker, Jordan Hunt, kicking Marie-Claire Bissonnette in the shoulder, knocking her phone from her hand, Toronto, Sept. 30, 2018.

Tell Justin Trudeau to condemn attack on pro-life woman. Sign the petition here.

October 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Life Chain is an annual event which consists of thousands of pro-life women, men and children standing on over 200 street corners across Canada holding signs that read, “Abortion Hurts Women”, “Abortion Kills Children,” “Adoption, the Loving Option”, "Life, We Stand On Guard For Thee", and “Pregnant and need help? Call (local pregnancy help centre phone number)”. This is an explicitly peaceful and silent protest. Participants are not allowed to begin conversations with passersby, nor are they allowed to display any aggressive behaviour at any point. No abortion victim photography is permitted.

My task for this year's Life Chain, which took place on Sunday, 30 September, was to manage the corner of Bloor and Keele, to hand out signs, and to take a headcount. Seventy-six sign-holders were present on that corner from 2:00-3:00 pm. One pro-abortion woman, probably in her late twenties, stood amongst us holding a sign that read, “My body, my choice, my right”. She was the only counter-protester present throughout, and she peacefully shared the corner with the rest of us. 

At around 2:30, I was assaulted.

A man in his late twenties to early thirties observed the demonstration and, taking out two markers, one red and one blue, he managed to deface two of our signs. After I warned people to shield their signs, he then proceeded to run up behind five of the participants (including a ten-year-old girl) and scribble with his markers on their backs, ruining their clothing.

After these acts of vandalism, he approached the pro-abortion demonstrator, evidently in order to seek her approval, which she appeared to deny him by discouraging his tactics. At this point I took out my cell phone and began to record him, telling him that what he did was destruction of private property and it was against the law. He asked me whether a sixteen-year-old girl who gets pregnant after being raped should keep her baby. I attempted to explain that her baby should be treated no differently than a three-year-old child who may have been conceived by rape.

He then forcefully roundhouse-kicked me in the shoulder, which sent my phone flying and I yelled for someone to call the police. In defence of his violence he claimed he’d meant to kick my phone, and then, as a fellow Life Chain participant dialed 9-1-1, he yanked off the ribbon I’d been wearing on my chest and ran away, heading east on Bloor.

A police car arrived, five to ten minutes later. The policemen rolled down their window but did not exit their vehicle.

I approached them and told them I was just assaulted and explained the situation. I showed them the video. They replied, “What do you want us to do about it?”.

As I was on the verge of tears and shaking from the adrenaline, I didn’t know what to say. I asked what my options were, and they replied that I could file a complaint, but warned that I’d have to take him to court, and only if they were able to find him, but given that it wasn’t a "serious case of assault", he’d be likely to be given probation or less.

I asked if I could file a complaint without going to court and they said no.

My main concern at the time was that the incident was on file. The officers said the phone call would be on record, but their apparent indifference discouraged me from pursuing the issue further so I told them I would not. Two hours later, I started to feel pain in my shoulder where I’d been kicked and I contacted the police and filed a report with a different set of officers who were significantly more helpful, even offering a trauma support group after they visited my house and saw me still shaking with eyes red from crying. The police are still looking for my attacker and he has yet to be identified.

This sort of assault is neither a single nor a rare occurrence.

Elsewhere on the same day, a man was standing and silently praying at the corner of Confederation and the Queensway in Mississauga when a woman approached him from behind and poured paint all over his jacket and pants. He was oblivious to what was happening until he felt the liquid and turned around to see the woman grinning at him.

He told me: “These people are more and more aggressive because they have the support from the government and the media”. In 2014 Michael Panagapko of Toronto was convicted of assaulting a woman during the 2013 Life Chain with a knife. He poured water on her, threw the bottle in her face, pulled her to the ground by her hair and beat her by punching and kicking her, before pulling out his knife. Youtube is full of documented evidence of violent attacks on peaceful pro-lifers. 

URGENT:  Tell Canada's political leaders to condemn this violent attack. Sign the petition here.

I’ve participated in many public pro-life activities throughout my life. This isn’t the first time I’ve been attacked. Rocks have been thrown at me. I’ve been spat upon multiple times and pushed. Men have aggressively asked how I would like it if they raped me and forced me to have an abortion. There is a media-driven narrative that pro-life activists are violent and a danger to women. This is a bald-faced lie. The only violence or aggression I’ve witnessed in my many years in the pro-life movement comes entirely from pro-abortion activists, and yet it’s rarely, if ever, reported.

I want to be clear that I empathize with any girl or woman who’s experienced the trauma and invasion of sexual assault. I can’t imagine what it’s like, but the thought alone is abhorrent and painful. I, in no way, want to diminish or dismiss the torment of that experience, or the gravity of the crime. And becoming pregnant through that awful experience puts a girl or woman in a very tough situation which forces upon her a decision that will have lifelong effects.

But the reality is that a woman who has conceived in rape has become a mother, and I cannot support a procedure that would make her the mother of a dead child.

Rape is traumatic enough, and I won’t condone killing innocent humans, even if they're fetuses. This in no way lessens my concern for the safety and rights of women; it merely balances it against my concern for the very lives of preborn children. On the opposite side of this argument is a man who, in one moment expresses his concern for women who have been assaulted, and in the next, proceeds to assault a woman.

I will never shy away from expressing the truth that every human being should have the right to life, from the moment of fertilization, when the ontogenesis of the human organism begins, until natural death. But I value the right of others to disagree. It is the mark of a truly liberal society that two people with diametrically opposed views on the most important of issues concerning life, death and fundamental rights can peacefully stand beside one another expressing their respective opinions in public. 

Marie-Claire Bissonnette is Youth Coordinator for Campaign Life Coalition.

UPDATE – Read LifeSite's two follow-up stories on this, published October 3:

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Why Kavanaugh’s biggest opponents are abortion activists

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By Jonathon van Maren

October 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Every revolution has its victims, every revolution has its mobs, and revolutionary mobs are always bound together by bloodshed that they claim is justified. The Bolsheviks murdered the clergy and those who stood in their way, and the French Revolutionaries butchered the elites and the priests and anyone else who interfered with their perverted version of freedom and equality. And the victims of the Sexual Revolution—numbering in their tens of millions—are our own sons and daughters, pre-born children torn from the place beneath their mother’s heart and tossed into the trash.

I understand that for those who have never come face to face with this reality, these words might seem hyperbolic. But they are true. I have held a little boy in my hands, a child killed by abortion and thrown out, so thoroughly abandoned that he never even received a name. I have seen tiny, shredded body parts, perfectly formed but framed with crimson carnage, pulled out of dumpsters. Abortion is not some abstract ideological football. The victims are real children, and this is real bloodshed. This bloodshed has become the sacrament of the Sexual Revolution.

The mobs of the Sexual Revolution only rally with fury and passion when the right to abort babies is at stake. I think of the howling crowds outside Dublin Castle after Ireland’s abortion referendum in May, weeping with joy and wildly celebrating the right to have their own offspring killed close to home. The politicians who fought for abortion on demand had promised that there would be no celebrations of this macabre result, but a carnivorous carnival of cheering erupted nonetheless. Freedom had been achieved—a freedom purchased with the blood of innocent children.

Then there were the mobs that made up the Women’s March, in America’s capital and around the world. I went to the rally in D.C., and watched as abortion activists like Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood and abortion trailblazers like Gloria Steinem rallied a crowd of hundreds of thousands, sharing the stage with feticide fans so hardcore that one sported a shirt covered with the phrase “I Love Abortion.” The crowds were furious at the newly inaugurated president who had behaved like a pig—and that the woman who had covered for a previous president credibly accused of sexual assault had not won the Oval Office, instead. She would have protected the sacrament of abortion, and the fact that she lost sparked days of rage.

And now there are the crowds swarming outside the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a man who must be destroyed so that they can retain the right to destroy children in the womb. There is nothing that they will not smear him with, and no sexual assault allegation that they will not weaponize to remove him. After 65 million dead babies, the reputation of a single man is of no consequence. Abortion activists are charging the politicians—Ted Cruz was driven from a restaurant with his wife, Mitch McConnell was rushed at the airport, and two women cornered Jeff Flake in an elevator, demanding that he listen to their stories of sexual assault—because, they said, the Supreme Court nominee could impact the right to abortion. 

What we are seeing with the mobs that are taking to the streets in defense of abortion—and it is almost always abortion that brings them out in droves—is another fundamental characteristic of revolutions: The rejection of the rule of law. The presumption of innocence, due process, corroborating witnesses—these things mean nothing to those who see sexual assault allegations as a mere tool to destroy an opponent of abortion. If they had seen Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as a victim entitled to a fair hearing and investigation, that could have been granted weeks ago, and with much less suffering on her part. But they did not see her as a human being--they saw her as a gun to be unloaded on a Supreme Court nominee that might vote against Roe v. Wade, a piece of paper that is more precious to them than the Constitution itself. 

To protect abortion, senators can be chased down at their places of work, political opponents mobbed in restaurants and the streets, and vile smears directed at anyone who stands in their way. Abortion must be protected at all costs. And can we really be surprised? Is it so shocking that the men and women who shrugged off revelations from the Center for Medical Progress that abortion workers were crushing skulls and dismembering babies, and then pillaging their corpses for saleable body parts would not flinch when it came time to dismember a man's reputation? Are we surprised that politicians who received thunderous applause for bragging about their own abortion are willing to stop at nothing to abort the career of someone who might stand up for the pre-born children they have victimized?

There are those who worry that this time of polarization may result in bloodshed. They are forgetting that blood has already been shed, and that the collective guilt of the mob is now giving birth to the fury that we see directed at Brett Kavanaugh and anyone else who believes abortion to be a tragic evil. The abortion activists have been bought and paid for with the blood of tiny innocents, and they are terrified that Brett Kavanaugh might be the man to cast the vote that will jeopardize their hold on the cruel power they now wield over the defenseless. 

Watching this ugly spectacle, I was reminded of something Peter Hitchens once said to me in an interview. “I think that abortion is much beloved by revolutionaries,” he commented darkly, “because they always, like the mob, like to get their hands in blood and commit some sort of crime of their own.”  

This fight will not end with Brett Kavanaugh. It is only beginning, and the fight over whether Americans can abort their children may well be the death-struggle of the Republic itself. 

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What happened to the lay vocation?

By Dr. Joseph Shaw

October 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Recent and very public failures of bishops raise the question of what role the laity should have in the Catholic Church. Lay people can feel like dumb spectators watching a tragedy in which bishops and other clergy have all the leading roles. This is clearly not a healthy situation, but what, in fact, is the lay vocation? In what way are lay people called, as members of Christ’s mystical body, to advance the kingdom of God? Certainly, the laity are crew, not just passengers, in the barque of St. Peter, and not even subordinate crew. As the 1983 Code of Canon Law tells us (Canon 208):

From their rebirth in Christ, there exists among all the Christian faithful a true equality regarding dignity and action by which they all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ according to each one’s own condition and function.

What, then, is the function related to the lay condition? The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Apostolicam actuositatem (4) tells us:

The laity must take up the restoration of the temporal order (ordo temporalis) as their own special task. Led by the light of the Gospel and the mind of the Church and motivated by Christian charity, they must act directly and in a definite way in the temporal sphere.

As the Decree goes on to detail, this can be done in the context of family, professional, and political life.

What this suggests, along with the traditional teaching of the Church on the “two swords,” the division of labor in the Christian society between Pope and Emperor, is that bishops and clergy as such should not seek to direct in detail the work of Catholic statesmen, academics and teachers, and parents. It is given to the clergy, and above all to bishops, to judge according to the moral law, but judgment on matters of prudence — scientific judgment, educational judgment, political judgement, and so on — is the special gift and duty of the lay state.

As Dr. Alan Fimister recently argued, on the basis of the expression of the traditional teaching by Pope St Gelasius (d. 496), we should expect the Pope and bishops to intervene in the temporal affairs of Catholics only ratione peccati: only when their actions are not merely misguided, but sinful.

It might be objected that it has often been the case historically that lay and clerical roles have been combined in a single person. Bishops, in particular, have been given tasks of lay government. The combination of roles, however, has never implied the confusion of roles. The fact that the medieval Bishop of Durham was given an important role in the defense of the north of England against the Scots, for example, did not suggest to anyone at the time that, say, the Bishop of London had authority over his own city’s officers of law and order just by being the bishop.

The co-option of bishops into the lay sphere in past centuries gives us a clue about the problems we face today. The reason that the medieval kings of England made this use of the Bishop of Durham was the weakness of lay leadership: there was no equally effective layman to do the job. It is not a criticism of priests and bishops in Ireland, similarly, after its independence from Britain, that they took a leading role in the temporal sphere, because for historical reasons the new country had a very underdeveloped lay Catholic leadership. What is open to criticism is attempts to keep it that way by, for example, excluding lay people from leadership positions in Church-owned hospitals and schools.

Today, lay Catholic leadership is weak all over the world. In many parts of the world, the leadership shown by bishops in political crises has been both necessary and heroic. Where it goes beyond the role of moral judgment into prudential judgment, bishops are, however, straying into areas in which, at least as bishops, they lack the necessary education, experience, and grace of office.

What is needed, then, is lay leaders, and bishops should give lay leaders the space to exercise their leadership. The pro-life movement is an example of an area in which lay organizations and lay leaders have successfully emerged in a response to a political and social problem that requires political and social solutions, but it remains a somewhat isolated case. Part of the difficulty is that lay Catholic organizations, from families and schools to whole countries, have not been encouraged to display a truly Catholic ethos, partly because of an attitude that suggests that the Catholic brand belongs in some sense to the bishops, and partly from a fear of offending the sensibilities of non-Catholics.

This last worry, if taken to its logical conclusion, makes the restoration of the temporal order an impossibility. But political and social change does not wait for unanimity, and Catholic political and social leaders should not be afraid to advance their own vision of society.

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Why Catholics must ‘judge’ in order to get out of abuse crisis

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By Anthony Esolen

October 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – “Do you not know,” says Saint Paul, “that we shall judge angels?”  Therefore we are within our rights to judge a mere man’s actions, setting aside any presumption that we know for certain what is in his heart.  Not only may we do so.  We must.  Public order demands it, and justice, and that part of charity, requiring the tact of a surgeon, which concerns the correction of sinners.

I have been reading, for one of our humanities courses at Thomas More College, the decrees of the Council of Trent, and what leaps to my attention, aside from the canons regarding the sacraments and other points of faith, is that reform of the Church could only come about by means of many acts of prudential judgment.  Sometimes these were gentle, and sometimes severe, but the alternative was that every bishop, priest, cleric, and layman should do what seemed best in his own eyes – to use the quiet and terrible words that end the book of Judges.

The council fathers commanded these judgments everywhere and for all kinds of purposes, from choosing which boys might be admitted to minor orders, to choosing which men should be elevated to the episcopacy, to admonishing bishops to be frugal and not ostentatious in their dress and board, to using discretion when declaring that stubborn and public sinners had torn themselves out of the life of the Church.

The lives of clerics are especially to be clean, because if bishops condone men “given to evil and corrupt morals, how shall they reprove the lay people for their transgressions when these can by one word repulse them for permitting clerics to be worse than they?” (Fourteenth session, November 25, 1551).  “No one shall be chosen to govern cathedral churches unless he is born of lawful wedlock, is of mature age, is known for his integrity of morals, and possesses the required knowledge” (Seventh session, March 3, 1547).  “There is nothing that leads others to piety and to the service of God more than the life and example of those who have dedicated themselves to the divine ministry.  For since they are observed to be raised from the things of this world to a higher position, others fix their eyes upon them as upon a mirror, and derive from them what they are to imitate” (Twenty-second session, September 16, 1562). 

Two things occur to me, with great pain, as I read these commands and warnings.  The first is that the Church has evidently behaved, not with the cramped caution of a prude, but with the carelessness of a profligate, a squanderer of both moral and monetary capital.  Suppose you are in charge of a man’s investments, and you find that one of your factors has been skimming profits for himself.  You call him in, and he confesses, and you forgive him.  You keep him in lesser employment.  You do not wish to ruin him.  As far as your own trust was betrayed, you have forgotten the matter; it never happened.  But you are the protector of someone else’s trust, and you have no right to take chances with that.  Your prudence will also protect the sinner by shielding him from responsibilities that have proved too much for him before.  You forgive the alcoholic for his drunken binge.  You do him no favor if you then put him in charge of your wine cellar.  You would be much to blame if you put him in charge of someone else’s wine cellar.

You would not be pretending to know the man’s heart.  You cannot judge what temptations he suffers, and what invisible triumphs he may have won, despite his quite visible failures.  But as far as your responsibility is concerned, those are neither here nor there.  You must be as wise as a serpent, though as innocent as a dove.  You are not permitted to presume upon God’s prerogative.  You have no right to suppose that God has performed the miracle of a complete transformation of the man’s life.  Even the apostles were justly wary of Paul, and how often does Christ strike the sinner blind and speak to him directly?

How much less, then, are you permitted to wink at his evil, to judge it leniently because you do not take the deed seriously enough; in which case you would be as wise as a pigeon, and as innocent as a snake.  And as for those who are soft in discipline because they themselves are guilty of the crime, or who are so far gone in corruption that they have persuaded themselves that the evil is no evil at all, or even a good – they are judges who ought themselves to be whipped, as Saint Jude says, for the saving of their own souls.

The second thing that occurs to me is that we are habitual judges, and the only question is whether we will judge justly and mercifully, remembering how frail we are, “for in the course of justice,” says Portia, “none of us should see salvation.”  But in this time we are mad, quite mad.  We are not instructed in the judgments of God, whether we derive them directly from Scripture or mediated through the catechism of the Church, and so we take our bearings from the herd.  There is no logic to it, and little reality. 

You cannot hold back the river of human judgment.  It will flow.  If you narrow its range, it will be all the more furious and destructive where it does strike.  So are our current judgments of sexual sin.  Objectively, one divorce is a far greater plague than are the groping hands of a dozen licentious sots.  Its effects last a lifetime.  It severs a holy bond.  It violates an oath made before God and man.  It pitches children into chaos.  Yet divorce is popular, and the groping (now) is not.  Objectively, the sodomy that is now celebrated and held forth to young and vulnerable boys is far more destructive, physically and morally, than is a wolf whistle or a lewd remark.  We are led here and there not by reason but by the jitters of the mass phenomena, and like a herd when it is roused, we stampede, and trample everything in our path.

The herd, and the irresponsible bishop, are alike in this regard.  They do not examine their consciences.  I do not know how a good bishop can bear the weight of it, when he knows that upon every one of his decisions may hang the fate of a human soul.  The herd has no conscience to examine.  Think of the Two Minutes’ Hate in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.  Think of the Orgy-Porgy in Huxley’s Brave New World.  Do not suppose that a herd is less destructive if the individual beasts that make it up are intelligent.  Brains make it far more dangerous, and more various in its evil.  Do not suppose that a herd is less destructive if the beasts are of both sexes and all classes.  Then there will be no rank of still rational creatures standing apart from it and retaining some power to check it or to mitigate its harm.  Mass media are adrenalin to the stampeders.  “Education,” such as it is, arms the herd with tusks and horns and fangs. 

Why do we suppose that if we had been alive in Germany in 1930, we would have resisted the rampant and popular evil in our midst?  That would have required acts of calm, clear, cold judgment.  Do not doubt for a moment that such judges were reviled and ridiculed.  Their friends turned a cold shoulder to them.  Their families grew alien.  They taught the alphabet in a poor village kindergarten rather than Latin at a university.  Their very pastors looked aside when they approached.  How easy it is to pretend to judge the hearts of others!  For Other People’s Sins are always worse than mine.  But how hard it is to make right judgments, when all the herd is storming in the other direction!

But in our time maybe it is not so hard, after all, because we have seen the slaughterhouse into which the herd has so heedlessly marched.  The ground is slick with its blood.  The smoke of the concentration camps is in our nostrils.  Mercy Lewis and Mary Warren are raving, and Giles Corey has been pressed to death with stones.  Not one organ of the body politic is healthy.  Now of all times, if we cannot get bishops with true charity, we could use a few at least to be moved by the old pagan greatness of soul; men who could say, as they lay dying, “I found my diocese a bog not fit for pigs, and I left it a garden.”

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Rosso Fiorentino's Pieta Web Gallery of Art, Public Domain
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480 year-old painting of the dead Christ contains urgent message for today’s world

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By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

October 2, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In this week’s art column I would like to speak of the 16th-century movement known as “mannerism.” In order to do so, we must first remind ourselves of the qualities of the High Renaissance (ca. 1495–1520), namely, balance, symmetry, harmony, lucidity; at times, placidity, tenderness, reassurance. We see these qualities in the quintessential High Renaissance painter, Raphael: he is not sharp, aggressive, or overly “realistic,” but smooth, gentle, and idealistic. This was the “Platonic” painting that was the natural culmination of Renaissance humanism: the perfect human form as the revelation of man’s dignity and the beautiful cosmic order created by God.

The loose movement known as mannerism shook up this too-perfect world, which, perhaps, could not have lasted long. While the successors of the High Renaissance artists learned the very same techniques and had all their skill, they often chose to go in a different direction, away from sweet orderliness. They exaggerated features, heightened the (often unflattering) realism, favored confusion and asymmetry, depicted intense emotion, and preferred the striking, bizarre, or unexpected over the natural and well-formed. They also toned down their colors, preferring scenes where objects seem to blend and merge.

Artists of this movement or trend would include Pontormo, Bronzino, Romano, Parmigianino, Titian (in his late phase), Tintoretto, and—the subject of today’s column—Giovanni Battista di Jacopo (1495–1540), called “Rosso Fiorentino” or “the red Florentine” by his contemporaries.

Rosso Fiorentino’s Pietà, which he produced at the very end of his life, 1538–40, hangs today in the Louvre in Paris. It is a striking painting for so many reasons. The figures are brilliantly arranged to maximize the sense of restless motion around the Christ resting in death. They are heavily clothed to accentuated his nakedness, the shameful exposure of His flesh to the scorn of His enemies. The insistent, almost obsessive use of a reddish-orange color suggests a pool of blood, an arhythmical circulation of lifeblood, underscoring the redemption now accomplished by the Savior, in spite of every appearance of loss and defeat.

The Mother of the Lord throws her arms out in a gesture of lamentation for her Son and surrender to the Father, emotional exhaustion, even perhaps intercession, and certainly appeal to us to enter into her sorrows. She is, in fact, a perfect representation of Holy Mother Church in the face of the (temporary but no less horrible) defeat of goodness and triumph of wickedness in high places.

St. John supports her gently, with a misery on his face too deep for tears or words, yet with an expression of resignation, acceptance, and trust. St. Mary Magdalen, repentant in soul though still beautifully arrayed (what a contrast to Christ!), seems the most at peace as she cradles the feet of her Master who turned her life upside down. As she assumes the humblest position and assists in laying the sacred body of Christ to rest on a strangely out-of-place cushion in front of a gaping cave, she is near to that most elusive and most coveted spiritual condition—peace. “In His will is our peace.” Even when He is crushed, she seems to be saying, “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” or rather, that He will live again. Life itself cannot long be held by Death. 

Note: Article continues beneath this image. 

What are the mannerist features that makes this painting so arresting? Given the consistency of Fiorentino’s style, the following description of the same artist’s Deposition applies equally well to the Pietà:

Instead of moving slowly and carefully back into space, the forms all appear on the same plane. The muscular bodies of the agitated figures recall Michelangelo, but the draperies have brittle, sharp-edged planes. The low horizon line sets the figures against a dark sky, creating a disquieting effect. The colors are not primaries but sharply contrasting, and the brilliant light seems to fall on the bodies irrationally. Unlike the orderly calm and deep space of Leonardo’s The Last Supper, Rosso creates an unstable composition within a compressed space staffed by figures that move frantically to lower the body of Christ. Only Christ’s figure appears serene in the midst of this emotionally charged image. (Janson’s History of Art)

While the word “frantic” does not seem to characterize these figures, undoubtedly they are distraught and restless, performing a corporal work of mercy for the Lord of mercy Himself. Through its strange colors, its busyness, its immediacy and density, it is, indeed, a disquieting work. 

It is, to my mind, a work that speaks to our contemporary situation with breathtaking realism. What has become of Christ in our modern world? Has He not been stripped and put to death in the public square? Has He not been carried limply to a tomb, as if His mission is at an end, and all is over and done? Do not the rulers of this present darkness boast of their supposed triumph, believing in their pride that they no longer need Our Lord, His Blood, His teaching, His kingship—that they are even “liberated” from God and religion? 

Yes, all this is truly where we stand. But we know in faith, and we have seen again and again in the history of the Mystical Body of Christ, that “Thou wilt not allow Thy Holy One to undergo corruption.” Christ could not be conquered by sin, death, hell, or Satan; His resurrection demonstrated the ultimate powerlessness of evil over God and all who belong to Him. So it is and will be with us, if we remain united to God in charity and sanctifying grace.

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