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Bulgarians protest proposed restrictions against practicing religious faith

K.V. Turley
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SOFIA, Bulgaria, November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – ADF International and a coalition of Bulgarian churches filed a formal request with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe demanding a review of a proposed Bulgarian Law on Religious Denominations currently being debated in Parliament.

For weeks now, thousands of Christians have gathered each Sunday before the Bulgarian Parliament building to protest and pray against the proposed law and the restrictions it would impose on religious practice. 

“Nobody should be persecuted or experience harassment because of their faith,” said Viktor Kostov, a Sofia-based lawyer and ally of ADF International who is representing the Bulgarian churches. “The new law on religion in Bulgaria restricts religious minorities from assembling freely for worship, engaging in theological education, and receiving funds from outside Bulgaria. If adopted, it would stifle the missionary and spiritual activity of foreign citizens.”

The proposed law requires newly registered denominations to have at least 3,000 members before they can gain legal rights, discriminating against smaller minority groups. Additionally, preachers, clergymen, and any foreigners wishing to participate in worship would have to register with the state or risk penalties.

Earlier this month, a meeting between two parliamentary groups, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, heard objections from various faiths. These submissions have caused political parties in Bulgaria’s Parliament to take stock and reconsider the proposed Bulgarian Law on Religious Denominations before it is put to a second reading.

In the initial draft of the proposed law, there was a ban on foreigners and people with foreign religious qualifications conducting religious services unless they had permission from the state-run Religions Directorate. This stipulation has now been shelved. Instead, foreign clerics with short-term residence in Bulgaria  between three to six months will be allowed to conduct services. However, a foreign cleric coming to Bulgaria for a short stay of a few days would still have to notify the state’s Religion Directorate if planning to conduct a religious service.

For religious groups that are truly international such as the Catholic Church, this makes the provision of pastoral care in Bulgaria needlessly hampered by bureaucratic controls.

Another stipulation shelved was that only religious groups with adherents totaling more than one percent of Bulgaria’s population would be eligible for state subsidies. Under this criteria, only the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and Bulgaria’s Muslims would have qualified. Now, it seems a different formula will apply for state subsidies to all religious groups.

The proposed Bulgarian Law on Religious Denominations has also been amended to continue to allow anonymous foreign donations to religious groups within Bulgaria.

The reason Bulgaria’s parliament has started to move to limit and restrict religious activity is largely in reaction to the spread of radical Islam. However, not to be seen to be directly discriminating against Muslims, the Bulgarian authorities have by default restricted the activities of all minority faiths within Bulgaria, including Catholics and other Christian denominations as well as Jews.

Many see this latest legislative approach in the Bulgarian parliament as being wholly ineffective in curtailing the threat of Islamic terrorism, however, but a real threat to religious freedom in Bulgaria. Ironically, because of Muslim numbers in Bulgaria, the proposed law would have had a disproportionate effect not on Muslims but on smaller groups such as non-Orthodox Christians and Jews.

“We have repeatedly requested that the MPs behind the bill amend or remove the worst aspects of the law (but) without success,” Kostov said. “The proposed law represents a fundamental attack on freedom of religion in our country.”

The lack of progress nationally has meant that the proposed law’s opponents have taken their concerns to European bodies. As Kostov explained, “As the Parliament has not acted to protect the rights of minority religions, we were left with no option but to seek a review of this law’s compatibility with international law. We have directly called on the National Assembly to adjourn further votes on this legislation until this has taken place.”

With the assistance of ADF International, a global human rights organization, the coalition of Bulgarian churches represented by Kostov has appealed to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to refer the proposed law to the Venice Commission. This is an advisory body of the Council of Europe on constitutional matters. It ensures that all Council of Europe Member States bring their legal structures and laws into line with accepted European standards. ADF International and its allies want the Venice Commission to carry out an urgent review of Bulgaria’s Law on Religious Denominations.

“The European Convention on Human Rights secures the right of the people of Bulgaria to worship freely without unjustified interference. This request calls for urgent attention to the proposed Bulgarian law,” said Lorcán Price, legal counsel for ADF International.

“This latest proposed law will interfere with the right of Bulgarian churches to conduct their business without burdensome regulation and restrictions. Nobody should be deprived of the fundamental right to religious freedom. As the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in the past, the government should not engage in ‘picking favorites’ when it comes to churches,” Price said.

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Ohio’s first abortion facility ordered to surrender surgical license

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By Lisa Bourne
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COLUMBUS, Ohio, November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- Ohio’s first abortion facility surrendered its surgical center license and will no longer perform surgical abortions.

The Founder’s Women’s Health Center in Columbus relinquished its license on November 13 after an inspection of the facility by the Ohio Department of Health, Greater Columbus Right to Life (GCRTL) reported.

The abortion facility is where Harley Blank, Ohio's first practitioner of legal abortion, had been working. Blank surrendered his medical license after more than 45 years of performing abortions earlier this month amid charges he improperly prescribed medicine to men and did not keep records.

After news broke Wednesday of Blank’s license revocation, a number of pro-life groups made public records requests regarding the facility’s ambulatory surgical license.

GCRTL said early Thursday afternoon it had not received records in response to the request. However, Ohio Right to Life had shared with the group the results of a similar request that it had made.

A brief letter signed by an administrator for the Founder’s facility, Judith Nolan, confirmed specifics.

“To whom it may concern: The Ohio Department of Health was here for an inspection on Tuesday, November 13, 2018,” the letter stated. “At this time, Founder’s Women’s Health Center has surrendered its surgical center license. Please be advised that Founder’s Women’s Health Center will no longer be performing surgical abortions thus forth.”  

Also attached was a copy of the original Founder’s license issued in March 2003, with “VOID” written across the document, along with a notation that it had been submitted with the facility’s notice of surrender.

GCRTL executive director Beth Vanderkooi spoke via a statement about the efforts her group has put forth in raising awareness on the danger to women and others posed by the abortion facility.

"For years, we have served as the local watchdog at the clinic, shining a light on the terrible conditions and the lax standard of patient care,” Vanderkooi said. “We have watched, frustrated, when this business - often operating without a basic business license - was permitted to continue hurting women and killing children.”

She commented as well on how the local media did not cover the sexual crimes against children of a former physician at the abortion facility and how abortion advocates turned a blind eye to the women being hurt at the facility.

“We did not just watch. We prayed. We fasted. We investigated, and we uncovered,” Vanderkooi said. “We also continued to help hundreds of women find life-affirming, supportive care with local pregnancy resource centers.” 

Vanderkooi pledged to continue in the mission to end abortion in the area.

“We give thanks to God for this victory - which is both practical and symbolic,” she said, “and we urge all those of faith to join us in a spirit of peaceful prayer and activism as we tackle whatever comes next."

Mark Harrington, president of Columbus-based pro-life group Created Equal, praised the progress made by the local pro-life community’s fight against abortion, evidenced by the Founder’s facility license relinquishment.

“Columbus, OH now has one abortion center,” Harrington told LifeSiteNews. “It wasn’t long ago there were seven killing centers in this city of two million residents. Thanks to the faithful efforts of the pro-life community, abortionists are increasingly having difficulty keeping their grisly businesses open.”

Founder's has had an incredibly questionable history, Vanderkooi said in her news release.

Aside from the thousands of unborn children who have died by abortion in the 46 years since it opened, she said, it has a history of patient care problems, failed health inspections, and both the physicians and management company have gotten in legal trouble for problems ranging from child pornography to unpaid tax liens to unlawful provision of controlled substances.

The latter charge is documented in the state paperwork for Blank having lost his medical license.

Founder’s Women’s Health Center is also the abortion facility where an abortion activist and volunteer came close to running down a priest last year with her vehicle as she fled the scene after having been caught stealing signs during a pro-life vigil at the facility.  

Founder’s had announced a "temporary" closure in June, Vanderkooi noted.

And later, a lawsuit highlighting many of the problems that GCRTL had documented for years in complaints to the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Secretary of State, the Ohio Attorney General, and the Ohio Medical Board was filed between the physician owners of the facility and the nurse in charge of day-to-day operations since 2012.

The pro-life group says continued traffic to the Founder’s facility could indicate that it will operate as a pill-only facility, similar to another local facility, "Your Choice." It’s also possible that Founder’s is closing down, or seeing only follow-up patients, or that its operators plan to reopen with a new name.

Vanderkooi said GCRTL will continue to monitor the situation and stand in defense of life.

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Ohio's first abortionist stripped of his medical license

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California Catholics seek to consecrate state to Immaculate Heart of Mary

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By Lisa Bourne

November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholics in California are working to consecrate the state to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Plans are ongoing for gatherings at Catholic parishes statewide at noon local time on Saturday, December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The event begins with Mass, followed by a walk to a designated location where the rosary and prayers of consecration will be prayed.

Catholics not near a participating parish are asked to gather, preferably near the California coastline parallel to the San Andreas Fault, and pray the rosary and consecration prayers on their own.

“We are a group of Catholics whose love for our Lord and Mary has inspired us to consecrate California to Our Lady,” the group behind the consecration effort, BVM Blue Mantle, says on the event website.

The Consecrate California site offers event specifics, including participating parishes and prayers for use in conjunction with the event.

They claim several priests and a number of bishops as supporters, along with noted Catholic individuals and groups.

They seek the Blessed Mother’s intercession against numerous moral evils in the state.

“Why consecrate California?” the group asks on its website.

“To defeat the culture of death, abortion, euthanasia, and natural disasters,” the information says. “For the sick, elderly, unwanted, and for an end to the violence, sex abuse, drugs, alcoholism and sex trafficking.”

“Our Lady of Fatima explained how the graces of consecration to her Immaculate Heart would be enough to prevent war and to avoid the loss of thousands of people’s lives,” it continues. “Imagine what these graces would do for California!”

The idea for the consecration came from Glendale resident and film writer Angelo Libutti, the Catholic Herald reports.

The thought came to him last year while he was in Adoration, following a stressful workday where he’d been criticized for his pro-life views.

Libutti had personally consecrated himself to Mary and experienced “radical changes in my life,” the Catholic Herald report said. This led him to believe that a statewide consecration would be just the thing for the rampant immorality and secularism in California. It was shortly thereafter that he organized the first statewide consecration last December.

Libutti thinks both this year’s and last year’s consecrations represent the laity’s desire for the state to be consecrated to Mary and their unity in the cause.

For the consecration to be official, California’s two metropolitan archbishops, Jose Gomez of Los Angeles and Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, must support the effort and one of them would have to personally perform the consecration of the state.

Libutti has spoken to both archbishops, and says they like the idea of the consecration. He is hopeful that their schedules will allow them to take part this year.

For more information on the Consecrate California effort, click HERE.

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Harley Blank performed Ohio's first 'legal' abortion in 1973. Facebook
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Ohio’s first abortionist stripped of his medical licence

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By Lisa Bourne

COLUMBUS, Ohio, November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- Ohio's first practitioner of legal abortion was ordered to surrender his license to practice medicine and surgery.

Harley Blank’s career, which spanned more than 45 years of performing abortions, ended with the permanent revocation his license earlier this month. The revocation is related to improperly prescribing drugs without keeping patient records, according to state documents.

Blank, 79, is the obstetrician and gynecologist who performed the first legal abortion in Ohio weeks after the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions in January 1973. 

He agreed to the revocation of his medical license “in lieu of formal disciplinary proceedings.”

Blank signed an agreement on October 25 to surrender his license over charges “related to prescribing controlled substances as a practicing OB-GYN to men and failing to keep any charts or patient records on these men, as well as my desire to cease active patient care after being licensed for more than 50 years.”

The State Medical Board of Ohio revoked his license on November 14.

Blank was first issued a license on August 25, 1964, The Columbus Dispatch reported. He performed Ohio’s first legal abortion on February 15, 1973, in Columbus.

Blank had told the news outlet in 1998 that he did not regret his decision to perform that abortion, saying, “It was right then, it’s right today and it will be right tomorrow.”

His license had most recently been renewed for two years in July 2017, according to The Dispatch.

Blank helped establish Columbus’ first abortion facility, Founder’s Women’s Health Center, a site where pro-life advocates regularly offer prayer and witness.

He was sued in 2013 after failing to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy and feigning an abortion on the patient. The patient later suffered a ruptured uterus and was rendered infertile.

Operation Rescue filed a formal complaint with the Ohio Medical Board in 2015 against Blank for failing to maintain medical malpractice insurance as required by law, and for patient care standard violations related to misdiagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy.

Pro-life leaders welcomed the news of Blank’s medical license revocation.

A statement from Greater Columbus Right to Life (GCRTL) said, “We have known for a considerable amount of time that Founder’s is not a safe place for women or their unborn children, and we have observed increasingly erratic behavior on the part of Dr. Blank.”

Blank joins another Founder’s abortion provider, Thomas Michaelis, who is currently serving time in federal prison for child pornography, as having his medical license permanently revoked, GCRTL said.

“Harley Blank was the first abortionist to kill babies in Ohio, but he won’t be the last abortionist to quit or be prosecuted,” Created Equal national director Mark Harrington told LifeSiteNews.

“We don’t have to visualize abortionists on trial any longer,” Harrington said. “The writing is on the wall. The time is approaching soon when abortion will be outlawed and abortionists will be held accountable for their crimes against humanity.”

“We are relieved that Harley Blank will never conduct another abortion nor will he hurt another woman,” Operation Rescue president Troy Newman said in a statement. “We are grateful for all the hard work of our friends at Greater Columbus Right to Life to bring him to justice and our friends at Created Equal for exposing his misdeeds across Ohio as well as everyone who ever took a shift at Founder’s or prayed for Blank’s repentance. This is a victory for us all!”

GCRTL went further in its release on Blank. “Please consider remembering Mr. Blank and all abortion providers in your prayers.”

“Decades of work in the abortion industry carries a heavy burden to their souls,” the pro-life group said, “and our greatest wish is not just that their deeds are uncovered and they face civil justice for what they have done, but that they experience a true conversion of heart and choose life and life eternal.” 

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Irish Health Minister Simon Harris
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Pro-life bill to spare taxpayers from funding abortion defeated in Irish Parliament

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

DUBLIN, Ireland, November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) ― An attempt to save Irish taxpayers the indignity of paying for abortion was defeated in Ireland’s parliament yesterday.

Independent TD (or Member of the Irish Lower House of Parliament) Carol Nolan introduced a bill that, if passed, would have legislated that no public money could be used to fund abortion “services” except where there was a risk to the life of the unborn child’s mother.

The bill was debated during the report stage of the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill. According to Radio-Television Ireland (RTÉ), it was the last opportunity for TDs to make amendments to the pro-abortion legislation.

In Nolan’s remarks, she stressed that abortion kills a living human being.

“This is not real healthcare. Real healthcare does not have a victim,” she said. “Hundreds of thousands of women also voted no, and those women like myself are taxpayers with a conscience.”

Simon Harris, the pro-abortion Minister for Health, argued that the government was trying “to make abortion care (sic) free, safe and legal. Are we really suggesting that different women should get different healthcare?”

But another Independent TD supported Nolan. According to the Irish Times, Peadar Tóibín, who like Nolan quit Sinn Féin over the party’s new pro-abortion stance, said people had “come up to him in the street expressing surprise that the service would be state-funded.”

Tóibín also suggested that funding abortion services would mean less money for other parts of the embattled health service.

“If you take €12 million out of one budget to pay for this, it will mean that there are certain operations that won’t happen,” he said.

Yet another Independent TD, Danny Healy Rae, accused the Health Minister of rushing the legislation through the Oireachtas (Irish legislature).

"And you haven't talked to the doctors or midwives or given assurances about anything," he said.

Healy Rae stated that those who have conscientious objections should be given the right not to carry out "this atrocious act."

Nolan’s bill was defeated by a vote of 71-21.

Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute told LifeSiteNews via email that Nolan and other pro-life TDs have been making “heroic efforts” to try to save some lives by offering amendment to the “cruel and barbaric” abortion bill being rushed through the Parliament by Harris.

“The amendments being proposed by TD Nolan, TD Mattie McGrath,TD Peadar Tóibín, and others include a ban on abortion on disability grounds and a provision for pain relief for the baby in late-term abortions,” she said

Uí Bhriain reported that Nolan’s amendment to spare taxpayers the cost of abortions was met with “bitter and often aggressive resistance from pro-abortion legislators who have a majority in the Dáil.”

“Carol Nolan spoke so powerfully in the Dáíl (Parliament) on this issue, pointing out that abortion was not healthcare since real healthcare doesn’t leave a victim, and asserting that pro-life voters should not be obliged to pay for a horrific procedure which kills a baby. She made such a strong case for the right of the taxpayer to be a conscientious objector that pro-abortion TDs (legislators) attacked her personally, ” Uí Bhriain said.

“Her former party colleague, Louise O’Reilly of Sinn Féin, made an extraordinary attack on Carol Nolan - clearly attempting to silence and intimidate the pro-life deputy by accusing her of having a ‘visceral hatred’ of women,” the pro-life activist continued.

“I think many people might feel that the visceral hatred on display was not coming from Deputy Nolan but from her critics.”

Uí Bhriain was lyrical in her praise for Nolan, who has remained firm in her convictions about the right to life at a time when other Irish politicians have hastily thrown their own away.  

“Carol Nolan is a real inspiration, and a brave, independent, compassionate woman who truly cares for both mother and child, and who won’t be bullied on the issue,”  Uí Bhriain told LifeSiteNews.

“That’s what a strong woman looks like, (and) that’s why my four daughters think she is amazing.”

The Life Institute has been “inundated” with calls today from people who applaud Nolan for standing up to “the abortion extremists” in the Irish Parliament.

They are “also uplifted by the many strong contributions of other pro-life TDs in the Dáil, who are making heroic efforts to save lives in the face of unprecedented and aggressive opposition,” Uí Bhriain said.

Ireland was once of the most pro-life countries in the world. On September 7,1983, a majority of Irish voters agreed by referendum to amend the constitution that would protect the right to life of the unborn child. However, on May 25, 2018, a majority of Irish voters signaled their desire to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution. The Irish government took this as a signal to work for new legislation permitting abortion on demand up to the 12th week of pregnancy or later in the case of disabled children.  

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Austin city council says ‘values’ require forcing churches to hire LGBT employees

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By Calvin Freiburger

AUSTIN, Texas, November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Churches have no right to insist on employees that accept and practice their faith’s teachings on homosexuality, according to Austin officials defending an “anti-discrimination” ordinance currently being challenged by two socially conservative groups.

The local ordinance guarantees “the opportunity for each person to obtain employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, or disability.”

It contains an exception for “an employer to hire and employ employees” if one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a “bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary for the normal operation of a particular business or enterprise,” as well as religious entities’ right to “hire and employ individuals of a particular religion.” But it doesn’t expressly state that a church’s beliefs about such issues qualify.

In a federal lawsuit filed against the city, the Houston-based U.S. Pastor Council argues that the lack of clear exemptions threatens to force 25 churches it’s representing to accept homosexual or gender-confused individuals even as clergy, as well as restricts their right to maintain longstanding restrictions on female clergy.

The group Texas Values has also filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance purely under state law, arguing more broadly for the rights of “nonprofits or closely held corporations who would be compelled” to “act in a manner contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.” As examples it cites nonprofits such as themselves who exist to advance specific beliefs, or religious landlords who may “require their tenants to refrain from non-marital sex or homosexual behavior when renting their property,”

“Neither of these two exemptions accommodates churches that refuse to hire women, practicing homosexuals, or transgendered people as clergy. Section 5-3-15(B) applies only to educational institutions, not churches,” the pastors’ suit argues. “And section 5-3-15(C) creates an exception only to the ordinance’s prohibition on religious discrimination. There are no exceptions to the ban on sex discrimination, and there are no exceptions to the ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“The ordinance allows a Catholic church to require its priests to be Catholic, but it forbids the church to exclude Catholic women, Catholic homosexuals, or Catholic transgendered people from the priesthood,” it continues, arguing that the ordinance violates the U.S. Constitution, the state Constitution, and Texas’ Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The U.S. Pastor Council wants the court to affirm churches’ right under both constitutions and the RFRA to exclude practicing homosexuals, transgender people, and women from the clergy, and bar the state from enforcing the mandate until it’s amended. But the city is refusing to back down.

“Nondiscrimination is a core value in Austin and we need to defend it,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler told KXAN.

“The ordinance reflects our values and culture respecting the dignity and rights of every individual,” Austin spokesperson David Green said in response to the lawsuit, the Christian Post reports. “We are prepared to vigorously defend the City against this challenge to the City's civil rights protections.”

This year federal appeals courts have ruled that “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are protected under federal non-discrimination law on the same level as race or sex, a position with which the Trump administration disagrees. Sixteen states have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the latter ruling.

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Indiana health panel blocks scandal-plagued abortion business from opening new facility

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By Calvin Freiburger

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A three-judge panel of the Indiana Department of Health’s executive board has voted to block the opening of a new abortion facility by a “women’s health” provider with a scandal-plagued medical record.

In January, state health officials denied the Texas-based Whole Woman’s Health Alliance’s (WWHA) application for a license to open a location in South Bend, Indiana, arguing it had submitted incomplete and inconsistent information in its application. Indianapolis administrative judge Clare Deitchman ruled that assessment lacked evidence in September, but now a panel has reaffirmed the state’s original decision.

The 2-1 decision came Wednesday after an “unprecedented” period of deliberation exceeding 90 minutes. The panel was comprised of Administrative Law Judge Brian Lowe and board members Richard Martin and Joanne Martin. They didn’t reveal who was the dissenting vote and declined to elaborate on their decision, citing the fact that the case was ongoing. A “final order” formally explaining their ruling is expected in the coming days.

Each side was given ten minutes to make its case, during which health department lead counsel Rebecca Brelage argued that Deitchman had failed to consider all the state’s evidence against WWHA, namely the “central issue” that the organization failed to submit adequate information about its affiliates. The group didn’t disclose WWHA founder Amy Hagstrom Miller’s ownership of six for-profit clinics, which WWHA argues don’t count as “affiliates.”

WWHA also runs abortion facilities in Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, and Texas. A state health department report in 2017 found numerous health and safety offenses at their Texas locations from 2011 to 2017, including rusty equipment, failing to properly disinfect and sterilize instruments between use, lacking proper written operation procedures, improper storage of hazardous chemicals, unsanitary surfaces, failing to follow up with patients, holes in the floor, and more.

This history of failing to meet basic medical standards did not stop WWHA from becoming a champion of women’s health in the mainstream media’s eyes, and the victor of the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt to strike down Texas’s admitting privileges requirement and abortion facility building standards.

WWHA lead counsel Dipti Singh called the panel’s decision “extremely disappointing,” but said his clients would wait for the final order before deciding their next move. WWHA Midwest Advocacy Director Sharon Lau complained that “nobody else has tried to open a clinic in the state of Indiana in I think over 10 years” because “this licensing process is incredibly burdensome.”

Pro-lifers were, naturally, more pleased. The decision is a “a great victory for women and families,” St. Joseph County Right to Life executive director Jackie Appleman told the South Bend Tribune. She also told WSBT 22 that her group would “follow it all the way through” and “support the state department of health to the very end.”

“I think this has shown abortion is not needed or wanted in South Bend,” Appleman said. “Women have all of the resources that they need already.”

Despite Lau’s suggestion that Indiana is too harsh on officials, Indiana Right to Life argued this summer that the state needed to do more to investigate whether abortionists were reporting abortions on girls younger than 16. That push was in response to 48 consumer reports against nine Indiana abortionists who allegedly failed to comply with reporting requirements for potential sex abuse.

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Scotland’s third oldest university bans student pro-life group

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

Updated at 7:56 p.m. on November 29, 2018.

ABERDEEN, Scotland, November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Another Scottish university has barred its pro-life students from registering as an official student group.

The Aberdeen Life Ethics Society has been prevented from affiliating at Aberdeen University by the officially pro-abortion Aberdeen University Students Association (AUSA). According to the Scottish Herald, AUSA has a so-called “pro-choice” policy supporting “free, safe and legal access to abortion.”

Alex Mason, the spokesman for the Aberdeen Life Ethics Society (ALES), told LifeSiteNews today that he got the idea for the group this March, and that the pro-life group has filed an official complaint.

“I attended a student election hustings where all the candidates for office expressed their support for abortion-on-demand,” he said.

“It was clear to me that such candidates did not represent my own views or the views of other pro-life friends I had on campus. Recognizing that Aberdeen has a very vocal ‘pro-choice’ faction, I wanted to start a university society which offered pro-life students the ability to connect and discuss important issues in life ethics,” he continued.

Complying with AUSA's requirements for newly proposed societies, Mason gathered the names of more than twenty students who supported the formation of ALES. In April, they submitted their application and began to wait.

They heard back from AUSA almost six months later.

“As is now known, we were told that our application was rejected because our existence would violate a ‘pro-choice’ policy adopted by AUSA in November 2017,” Mason said. 

“Our next step was to initiate the official complaint process offered by the University administration. We believe that our freedoms of speech and association are being unlawfully constrained by AUSA, and so we've asked the University to arbitrate a resolution. We expect to soon receive an answer to that request,” he added.

Mason reported that his group has had some pushback in the form of angry emails and comments on their Facebook page. 

“Once we receive official status as a society, I expect that our events or meetings may get protestors,” he admitted.

“Our goal is to facilitate peaceful and civil debate regarding important issues in life ethics. To that end, we would welcome any and all students to participate respectfully in our public events, even if they do not share our pro-life position. Those in honest pursuit of knowledge should not fear disagreement. Understanding is often sharpened and refined in the crucible of debate.”

John Deighan, the CEO of Scotland’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC-Scotland), told LifeSiteNews that the ban said something about the abortion lobby’s need to silence opposition.

“Of all places, a university should be a place where debate and discussion are encouraged,” he said.

“It is very telling that pro-abortionists feel the need to silence those who won’t tolerate those who voice a different opinion from their own,” Deighan continued.

“Let’s hope that freedom of speech prevails and that the AUSA position is overturned. If it isn’t, it would be a defeat for freedom of speech [and] academic freedom and a stain on the reputation of the university.”

AUSA’s extreme pro-abortion policy forbids funding, supporting, or even providing a “platform” (the opportunity to speak) to pro-lifer speakers. It also, tellingly, refers to pregnant “people” rather than pregnant women. Among the groups permitted to affiliate at Aberdeen University is “Sexpression Aberdeen,” whose members go into local schools to discuss sex with children as young as 10.   

Established in November 2017, the policy states that AUSA’s Council believes that “fundamentally access to abortion is an issue of bodily autonomy, and that [AUSA] needs to take a strong pro-choice stance in solidarity with pregnant people in countries where abortion is not freely accessible and towards decriminalisation of abortion in the UK.”

The Council resolved that AUSA should “campaign against directive advice groups and offer no funding, facilitation or platform to any such group that may offer advice that conflicts with the advice given by either AUSA or a body/service recommended by AUSA.”

It also resolved that “AUSA should oppose the unreasonable display of pro-life material within campus and at AUSA events.”

Recently, Glasgow University also prevented pro-life students from affiliating as a campus group. A ban on pro-life student groups at Strathclyde University was overturned this October.

Aberdeen University was founded in 1495 by William Elphinstone, the Bishop of Aberdeen, with the permission of  Pope Alexander VI. Its motto is “Initium sapientiae timor domini,” or “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” It is the third oldest university of Scotland.

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Laura Ingraham and Raymond Arroyo: Celine Dion’s new clothes for kids ‘demonic, satanic’

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By Doug Mainwaring
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Antifa-style clothes from Celine Dion

November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Laura Ingraham and Raymond Arroyo slammed singer Celine Dion’s foray into children’s fashion design, describing her new clothing line as dark, demonic, and doomed to fail.

“Unless you’re a member of the Addams Family or a satanic cult, why would you dress your infant in this [brand]?” wondered Arroyo. “It’s bizarre.”

“But they’ve admitted what their goals are,” said Ingraham. “They want a new order. They want to affect the culture.”

A titanic error in judgement and taste

The duo couldn’t resist making references to Dion’s hit My Heart Will Go On, the theme song from the blockbuster 1997 movie Titanic. “Her heart may go on, [but] her sales are going to go the way of the Titanic,” quipped Arroyo.

The EWTN host also suggested that Dion’s new brand should have an insignia on each of its shirts. “You know Izod has the crocodile? I want the sinking ship from Titanic because that’s where this line is headed.”

Voodoo, magic, and sick, demonic designs

Dion introduced her new fashion line, a joint partnership with an Israeli manufacturer of children’s clothing, with this “very bizarre ad,” explained Arroyo, referring to the now viral commercial which has attracted so much criticism.  

“She walks into a maternity ward, blows glitter around the room. All the boys are in blue, the girls are in pink, [but] not after she does her magic.”

“And then in one of the bassinets, this big voodoo doll appears,” continued Arroyo. “It’s a very strange line” of clothing for young children.

Arroyo said that the clothes are gender neutral, adding “they’re very dark.”

As pictures of the clothing were displayed for viewers, Arroyo pointed out, “There are skulls in the collection. Why you would put babies in skulls? I don’t know.”

“Planned Parenthood special,” Ingraham quipped back.

Ingraham noted that one of the outfits looks like it had been inspired by Antifa, the violent anarchist group famous for disrupting conservative events while shrouding their identities by covering their faces with scarves.  

The manufacturer offers “demonic designs, with horned hoodies for kids,” said Arroyo. “It’s really sick.”

RELATED:

Celine Dion launches clothing line that ‘liberates children from traditional roles of boy/girl’

Celine Dion’s clothes for kids ‘definitely satanic,’ says renowned exorcist priest

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Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

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Gracious Melania Trump takes Christmas insults in stride, invites critics to visit White House

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

SIGN THE PETITION: I stand with Melania Trump against Christmas bullies! Sign the petition here

LYNCHBURG, Virginia, November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) ― The First Lady of the United States laughed off criticism of her Christmas decorations while bringing attention to the nation’s opioid crisis.

As have all First Ladies since Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy began the custom, Melania Trump decorated the public rooms of the White House for the Christmas season. Last year, Melania chose a snowy palette for her “Time-Honored Traditions” theme. This year, for the “American Treasures” theme, she opted for a patriotic red, white, and blue, with an emphasis on her “Be Best” program.

“Crossing in to the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall, patriotism, the heart of America, takes center stage with more than 14,000 red ornaments hanging from 29 trees,” according to the White House. “The choice of red is an extension of the pales, or stripes, found in the presidential seal designed by our Founding Fathers.  It’s a symbol of valor and bravery.”

Ever-ready to attack the thick-skinned Trump through his wife, critics have mocked Melania’s decorations, claimed to find them sinister, and via Photoshop dressed up the crimson berry-covered trees in the East Colonnade as car-wash brushes, Margaret Atwood’s dystopic “handmaids,” or yip-yipping “Martians” from Sesame Street.

The First Lady herself shrugged off the jokes yesterday, saying that tastes differ.

“We are in the 21st century and everybody has a different taste,” Melania said during a “town hall” discussion at Liberty University. “I think they look fantastic.”

She invited everyone to come to the White House over the Christmas season to see the decorations up close.

“I hope everybody will come over and visit it,” she said. “In real life, they look even more beautiful. And you’re all very welcome to visit the White House, the people’s house.”

Mrs. Trump was speaking at a Liberty University “town hall” about the opioid addiction epidemic. Her “Be Best” program seeks, in part, to combat it.

“When I took on opioid abuse as one of the pillars of my initiative ‘Be Best,’ I did it with the goal of helping children of all ages,” she said.

“What has struck me...is how deeply this epidemic has touched so many people, whether because of personal use or because of death of friends, family, or neighbors,” she continued. “I have learned that addiction can begin with something as innocent as injury… I have also learned that addiction is a disease, and like any illness, people need and deserve treatment.”

“We must commit to remove the stigma of shame that comes with addiction.”  

Over 72,000 American deaths were caused by opiate abuse in 2017.

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Trump praises ‘very special’ nuns who sang for him at National Christmas Tree lighting

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) ― President Donald Trump praised the group of religious sisters he invited to sing at the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Wednesday.

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist sang “Carol of the Bells” before a large crowd including President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. The nuns were dressed in white habits and black coats; their long black veils fluttered in the November wind.

“Carol of the Bells” is featured on the most recent recording produced by the youthful order, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring: Christmas with The Dominican Sisters of Mary. Bucking the trend of many orders of women religious, the 120 woman strong Ann Arbor Dominicans have 14 novices and welcomed 13 new postulants to their community this past August. The faithful sisters teach in Catholic schools around the U.S.

The tree lighting ceremony took place after 4:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Ellipse on President’s Park, just south of the White House. The tradition is an annual event, dating back 96 years. President Trump and Melania Trump appeared on stage to light the National Christmas Tree – Melania pushed the button – and to wish the crowd a “Merry Christmas.”  

Trump was introduced as “the man who brought Christmas back to America.”

Although there were many performers, Trump singled out the Sisters in particular.

“That was a great job tonight,” he said. “And this included one very special group that has topped Billboard charts multiple times, the Dominican Sisters, who I met backstage, from Ann Arbor, Michigan.”

On November 27, the Sisters stated on their website that they were excited to bring “Christ to the Capitol.”

“As our four founding Sisters stepped out in faith 21 years ago to begin a new community of women religious, they envisioned spreading the witness of religious life across the country,” they wrote. “Indeed, God has affirmed their act of faith by providing abundant opportunities to fulfill that vision. In a spirit of thanksgiving, we are excited to bring ‘Christ to the Capitol’ as our Sisters sing selections from our latest CD, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, at the White House for the 96th Annual National Christmas Tree Lighting on November 28!”

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VIDEO: President Trump’s remarks at annual lighting of national Christmas tree

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By Calvin Freiburger

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump affirmed Christianity’s sacred origins Wednesday evening, asking God to bless every American during the annual lighting of the National Christmas Tree.

The president opened his remarks by thanking the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation for their work on the event, which dates back to President Calvin Coolidge in 1923 and this year featured 12 different performers or performing groups, including the U.S. Army Band.

Trump thanked the performers, but singled out as “very special” the Dominican Sisters of Mary, a group of singing nuns from Ann Arbor, Michigan. He also highlighted students who created the ornaments decorating 56 different Christmas trees in President’s Park, one for each U.S. state or territory.

“For Christians all across our nation, around the world, this is a sacred season that begins 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ was born,” Trump said. “An angel declared to the shepherds tending their flocks, ‘Behold, I bring you good tidings, great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.’ There in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph held in their hands the son of God; the light of the world; and, through Him, the promise of eternal salvation.”

The president went on to call Christmas a time “for rejoicing with our family and friends, for spreading charity and goodwill in our commitment all over this country in all of our communities, and for giving thanks for all of the blessings in our lives.” Among those blessings, he said, are foster parents, first responders, soldiers, and private citizens who step up to help their fellow man in times of need.

“Their families are all our families, and we thank them so much for their greatness and for the incredible job they do,” Trump said of the military in particular. “We ask God to watch over this nation’s heroes, and to shed his almighty grace upon our nation. And we pray that America’s light will shine more brightly and stronger than ever. And it will.”

On behalf of First Lady Melania Trump and himself, the president concluded by wishing that the season “bring peace to your hearts, warmth to your homes, cheer to your spirit, and joy to the world [...] Merry Christmas and God bless you.”

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Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

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Catholic university defends drag show, transgender policies in defiance of archbishop

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By Lisa Bourne

DENVER, Colorado, November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Leaders at a Colorado Catholic university pushed back after their local bishop called out their move to host an on-campus drag show and other efforts to promote gender ideology.

Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila said Regis University Provost Janet Houser used her position of influence to advance gender ideology in several ways at Regis University that conflict with the Catholic faith.

Guidance in an October 26 email from Houser in conjunction with the university’s Queer Resource Alliance encouraged faculty to attend a student drag show, avoid using gender-specific pronouns and phrases reinforcing the gender binary, urged assigning texts from “queer, and especially transgender, authors,” and warned teachers not to take attendance using the official roster, since this might involve accidentally using a student’s “dead name.”

Houser also encouraged faculty to attend other campus events commemorating the “Transgender Day of Remembrance” on November 15.

Regis University never discussed any of the initiatives with Aquila or his staff, the archbishop told the Regis community and other lay faithful in a November 13 open letter via the archdiocesan website, and “this guidance is not in conformity with the Catholic faith, despite the attempts made to justify it as rooted in Jesuit values.”

“On the contrary,” Aquila said, “Pope Francis has repeatedly decried the promotion of gender fluidity as a type of ideological colonization.”  

“Why is Regis University promoting and teaching an ideology that is contrary to what we know from the Scriptures?” he asked.

Houser responded in a November 16 email to faculty, saying, “I do not intend to change my position of support for our faculty and students.”

Her comeback and that of Regis University President Jesuit Father John Fitzgibbons to Archbishop Aquila’s letter was covered in a Catholic News Agency report.

Fitzgibbons answered Aquila with Pope Francis in a letter, using Francis’s Church as field hospital reference and the pope’s accompaniment and mercy adages to defend the gender guidance.

Quoting LGBT-affirming Jesuit Father James Martin, Fitzgibbons said, “It is important for the institutional Church to understand the lived experiences of gay, lesbian and transgender Catholics. It is also important for this group of Catholics to understand what the Church believes and teaches.”

Fitzgibbons insisted Regis maintains balance between supporting LGBT-identifying students and doing so critically, and said that while the student-performed drag show might seem out of place, it opened an allegedly safe and merciful space for homosexual and gender-confused students.

“I do not say that we embody our Jesuit, Catholic values perfectly,” Fitzgibbons wrote Aquila, “without error or room for improvement,” adding the university is committed as a Catholic institution to “embodying the full range of the Church’s teachings and to meeting our students where they are, to accompanying them lovingly and mercifully in their growth as whole persons.”

“Our fidelity is not to ideologies, it is to persons and to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he claimed.

The archdiocese’s director of public relations, Mark Haas, told LifeSiteNews that since Aquila wrote the letter, the archdiocese has received messages from Regis faculty, students, alumni, and parents thanking the archbishop for addressing this issue.

“The Archdiocese of Denver is working to schedule a meeting between Archbishop Aquila and Father Fitzgibbons in December and we are confident it will happen,” Haas said.

The archdiocese is hopeful the meeting will be productive, said Haas, and in the meantime, Archbishop Aquila’s letter represents the archdiocese’s position on the issue.

“As noted in the letter,” Haas added, “the purpose was to communicate to the broader community that the guidance being given by the university was not approved by the archbishop and to make it clear that such guidance is not in conformity with Catholic beliefs.”

He continued, “As Archbishop Aquila writes: ‘Jesus teaches us in the Gospels both the importance of listening and speaking the truth with charity...Truth and charity are inseparable, and one cannot claim to be acting charitably while disregarding or leading others away from the truth.’”

Earlier this year, Regis hosted Jesuit Father Greg Boyle to deliver its commencement address.

Boyle, the director of Homeboy Industries, which focuses on gang member intervention and rehabilitation, has denounced Church teaching on same-sex “marriage” and women’s ordination, and also mocked Church teaching on reception of the Eucharist for individuals married outside the Church.

Regis was one of seven Catholic colleges found in 2015 to display links to Planned Parenthood. In Regis’s case, the university’s Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy had suggested that students volunteer with organizations like the nation’s largest abortion provider.

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Matthew Bosnick

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Marine veteran: The rosary is the ultimate weapon for these times

Matthew Bosnick
By

“The Rosary is the weapon for these times.”— St. Pio of Pietrelcina.

November 29, 2018 (Those Catholic Men) – I’m a 29-year old Catholic with a wife, an eleven month-old daughter, and a son on the way. If you are like me, you look at the world we live in and are genuinely concerned for the family you are responsible for raising. While we live in an age of incredible medical and technological capability, “progress” and “enlightenment” have also brought darkness and confusion: The darkness of death and the confusion of relative truth. Countless books and articles have been written diagnosing the reasons for this decay, which St. John Paul II dubbed “the culture of death.” The reason for the “-isms” with which we describe the cultural malaise—relativism, nihilism, hedonism, modernism—is the attempt of Satan to obscure and hide the message of the gospel: That Jesus Christ, the son of God, suffered, died, and rose from the dead to save us from our sins and allow us to come back to the Father. It’s easy for us laymen to look to the hierarchy of the Church and our political leaders to “fix” the culture. But we have a weapon to fight darkness and confusion with, and that weapon is the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I grew up in a Catholic family and went to Catholic school, so I’ve always had a good idea of the importance of the Rosary as a prayer. But I did not pray it regularly until after the baptism of my daughter, Madeline, a moment that was a conversion not only for her but for me as well. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the entire Church” (1428) and likens it to St. Peter, who denied Jesus three times but was “drawn and moved by grace” to repent and affirm his love for the Lord (1429).

Before Madeline’s baptism, I’d sought meaning and answers from largely secular sources: I’d recently read Dr. Jordan Peterson’s popular Twelve Rules for Life and Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, for example. But after the baptism, during a visit to my parents’ house, I found a copy of Archbishop Charles Chaput’s Strangers in a Strange Land. Archbishop Chaput does an excellent job of describing the wrongness in our culture and presenting a solution for correcting it: live a Catholic life, by following the example of Jesus. This book made me examine my prayer life, which I realized was weak and stale. I needed structure, among other things, so I decided to begin praying a daily Rosary.

What does the Rosary have to do with the problems in our culture? The Rosary, like our Blessed Mother who conceived and gave birth to our Lord, is a prayer that leads us to Jesus. All Marian devotion, just like Mary herself, glorifies and praises her Son. We are called to bring the good news of Jesus to all people, and the Rosary is a prayer that focuses on Jesus! It involves meditating on his Incarnation, life, death, and Resurrection—and these events are the meaning and answer to everything and the answer to what our world needs. Young men search for meaning and purpose in all sorts of ideologies. But we Catholic men know that the world needs the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, whose mission is to make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28:19) and whose purpose is the salvation of souls. The Rosary causes us to focus on this mission.

Why is the Rosary a weapon? We, the Church on earth, are the Church militant. Catholic men can appreciate this. We need purpose and we want action. We fight a daily spiritual warfare in our lives. The Rosary was given by Our Lady to St. Dominic to fight the Albigensian heresy and it was the cause of the victory of the Holy League over the Turks at Lepanto. Mary is often called the New Eve and she is depicted crushing the head of the snake. Asking her to intercede for us is a powerful prayer for our own battles against temptation and sin.

The Rosary leads us to seek a life immersed in the Church and the sacraments. And this is its most powerful purpose: The Blessed Virgin Mary brings us to her Son, who lives in the Holy Spirit in the Church. Mary’s intercession does this and she proves it when she goes “in haste” to tell the good news of the Annunciation to her cousin Elizabeth (Lk 1:39). Mary’s intercession prompted Jesus’s first miracle, when he turned water into wine at the wedding at Cana. She brought the Lord to the world and brings us to him now. When we make the Rosary a constant part of our prayer life, Mary’s prayer for us causes us to come to her Son frequently and receive his grace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to worship him in the Mass and receive him in the Eucharist, and to adore him in the Blessed Sacrament. Meditation on the scriptural mysteries of the Rosary brings us to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.

Times change but one thing remains constant: That Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6). While he was in Athens, St. Paul preached to the Stoics and Epicureans the good news of Jesus and the Resurrection. They asked of Paul, “What can this parrot mean?” (Acts 17:18 NJB). We can deduce that Paul must have repeated the message more than a few times to be called a “parrot.” The gospel is truth and it never changes. And for that reason, and because the Rosary is a constant and repetitive meditation of the gospel, it is the perfect weapon for our times.

An earlier version of this article appeared at Those Catholic Men. It is reprinted here with permission.

Matthew Bosnick lives in Monroe, NC with his wife and daughter. He is a member of St. Luke parish and the Rosary Confraternity. He works as a firefighter and is a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan.

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Linda Harvey

Opinion,

‘Boy Erased’: New LGBT propaganda movie lies about therapy for homosexuals

Linda Harvey
By Linda Harvey

November 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Hooray for Hollywood! The cinematic dream masters are powerfully adept at making fantasy seem real. We get flying superheroes, cosmic meteor strikes, even an Emerald City.

And now, another fable – a tale of mean Christians forcing a boy to be un-"gay."

In the dream worlds of "LGBT" activists and their Tinseltown allies, Christians who help people struggling with same-sex attractions actually use methods of coercion, intimidation, and physical torture – or so they apparently imagine.

They hope, hope, hope it's like this or kind of like this, so the film Boy Erased won't go down in flames as another ridiculous leftist fraud.

Boy Erased claims to be a memoir about actual events. I and others doubt that what is portrayed in this film ever happened, in Tennessee or anywhere. We continue to wait for those who might know to confirm or deny these allegations of terrible abuse.

Unfortunately for the producers, this film will make history – as a vehemently Christian-bashing, deceptive, unjust portrayal of what actually does happen when people are quietly and sensitively counseled about unwanted homosexual feelings. Quite often, those feelings are the rotten fruit of sexual molestation.

Not inborn and natural, but imposed and troubling.

It is totally possible to leave homosexual attractions behind because the awesome mercy and healing power of Jesus Christ changes desires, lives, and destinies.

But progressives have a narrative that must be pushed, and the alleged memoir spawning this tale gave them a new excuse to paint faithful Christianity as repressive, ruthless, and ignorant.

Anti-Semitism, move over. Here's deliberate Hollywood propaganda to foment anti-Christian bigotry.

Boy Erased depicts a residential treatment program for males struggling with "gay" attractions. In the film, a young man is beaten with a Bible. There's shaming and yelling. Alleging that "God won't love you" unless homosexuality stops instantly in this young man's life.

In fact, a Twitter post from BoyErased alleges this:

"77,000 people are currently being held in conversion therapy across America. For more information, visit stoperasing.com."

"Being held"? Like in prison camps?

Tell me where specifically this is happening. All of us in the pro-family movement will be the first ones to make sure it stops.

But silence will be the only response because the producers know this is most likely a well-crafted fraud. I think this never happened.

And if anything like this nauseating mis-portrayal of cruel "therapy" does occur, it's sad, but lots of selected anecdotes about how humans can mistreat each other are sad. And so what's the solution? That we all therefore believe that homosexuality is wonderful and beneficial?

If anything like this occurs, those involved have recourse –  complain to medical boards in their respective states to put a stop to these isolated abuses, if an investigation finds any merit in the complaint. It does not mean that all counseling to help homosexuals should be banned.

That is the conclusion they want you to have, the "action step" you are to take, as an obediently manipulated (and ill-informed) American. And you are to support legislative bans (like the recent AB 2943 in California) prohibiting counseling, conferences, even possibly books, sermons, radio broadcasts, etc. that communicate a positive, hopeful message of change.

I am asking you to get the facts and refuse to be manipulated.

Let's think about long-standing Christian doctrine. Those who support banning help for homosexuals will be denying the powerful witness of the apostle Paul, who explains in 1 Corinthians 6 that some of the people in the Corinthian church had a history of homosexuality. But does he say, "And that's okay – just keep being who you are"? 

No, he writes in verse 11, "And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

Ex-homosexuals. A reality of first-century Christianity, rescued by Jesus, the Savior of all. So why are some attempting to push America backwards toward the barbaric excesses of pre-Christian paganism – while preventing any other option?

No, what this film sets up is a heart-tugging straw man. But such blatant deception should be "erased" because it will potentially mislead millions of people.

Hollywood has produced sympathetic tales in recent years about assisted suicide, aborting unborn babies, adultery, incest, and satanism.

Aren't we bigger than this? Have we totally lost discernment? I don't think so. I think the American Christian church can see right through this. Even though this propaganda piece is sure to rank undeservedly high at the Academy Awards, it's not true, and it's not a reason to endorse homosexual behavior.

We must all continue to stand by what we know is the truth, and be wise to recognize deception, even when persuasively packaged and glamorized by Hollywood.

Linda Harvey is president and founder of Mission America.

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Cardinal Cupich at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics Nov. 6. Facebook / University of Chicago IOP
Phil Lawler

Opinion, ,

Cupich appt shows Vatican sex abuse conference will be circling the wagons

Phil Lawler
By Phil Lawler

November 28, 2018 (CatholicCulture.org) – If you held out any hope that the Vatican might finally respond effectively to the sex-abuse scandal – that the February meeting could possibly prompt some real action – those hopes should have been shattered by the stunning announcement that Pope Francis had appointed Cardinal Blase Cupich to the organizing committee for that February event.

This is the same Cardinal Cupich who said, regarding the latest eruption of the scandal, that the Pope was “not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.” If you want to start a serious discussion of the abuse question among the world’s top Catholic prelates, you need to get past the gatekeeper. And at least one gatekeeper for this February meeting thinks that if you go through that gate, you’ll be headed down a rabbit hole. Good luck.

You’d like to think that in February, the presidents of the world’s episcopal conference will recognize that they are dealing with a scandal of immense proportions, a scandal that threatens the evangelical mission of the Church. But again, Cardinal Cupich told a TV interviewer that the issue shouldn’t be overemphasized. “The Pope has a bigger agenda,” he said, and as a first example of those “bigger” issues he mentioned “talking about the environment.”

Ordinarily, if you’re planning a conference, you’d choose organizers who take a special interest in the subject at hand. Cardinal Cupich has made it abundantly clear that he does not regard the sex-abuse scandal as a matter of paramount importance. Yet the Pope chose him to help organize this conference. Why?

To answer that question, let’s look at the second reason why the selection of Cardinal Cupich is astonishing.

The scandal that erupted this summer, and prompted the Pontiff to schedule this meeting for February, involved three issues: sexual abuse by clerics (as illustrated by the Pennsylvania grand-jury report), the unmasking and forced resignation of former cardinal McCarrick, and the testimony of Archbishop Vigano that Vatican officials, including Pope Francis himself, were previously aware of McCarrick’s perfidy. Only one of those issues – sexual abuse by priests – is on the agenda for the February meeting.

The subject for the meeting is “the protection of minors.” Period. There is no mention – at least not in the Vatican’s announcement of the event – of homosexual activity among the clergy, of homosexual influence in the hierarchy, of how McCarrick rose to ecclesial power, or of the Vigano testimony.

Some bishops would like to see the scope of the Vatican inquiry expanded to include those other topics. To be specific, more than 80 American bishops have called for a formal Vatican inquiry that might clear up the questions raised by the Vigano testimony. Cardinal Cupich is not one of those prelates. On the contrary, he has dismissed the Vigano testimony. So it’s fair to assume that as an organizer of the February conference, he will work assiduously to keep a tight focus on “the protection of minors.” And that, I suggest, is the reason why he was appointed to the organizing committee.

But I’m not finished yet. In his eye-opening testimony, Archbishop Vigano said that Cardinal Cupich is one of the American prelates whose rise through the ranks can be traced to the influence of the disgraced McCarrick. True, that charge is unproven, but neither is it disproven. Any serious Vatican inquiry would be forced to weigh the truth of Vigano’s claim. But now the cardinal who should be under a microscope is instead sitting on the organizing committee – in an ideal position to block uncomfortable questions about his own possible involvement to the scandal.

If the February conference is intended as an exercise in damage control, the Cupich appointment makes sense. If the conference is intended to prompt reform, the appointment makes no sense at all. So I conclude that this meeting – which one scarred veteran of the Vatican battles has described as the “last chance” for Vatican credibility – will produce nothing more than “enthusiastic words” about the fight against sexual abuse.

At this point, why should we expect more? For most of five years, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has been working in these same vineyards, with little to show for it. The Commission strongly recommended a special tribunal to hold bishops accountable; that proposal was formally approved, then quietly shelved. Commission members have complained that their work is opposed by other offices within the Roman Curia, and ignored by many of the world’s episcopal conferences. Pope Francis could have given this existing Commission the clout that it needs to produce real reform. He could have summoned the leaders of the world’s episcopal conferences, and instructed them to carry out the suggestions of the Pontifical Commission.

Or, as just a small step in that direction, the Pope could have named Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the chairman of that Commission, to the organizing committee for the February meeting. He did not. While Cardinal O’Malley insists that he still has the Pope’s full confidence, and he will take part in the February meeting by virtue of his position on the Commission, it is still noteworthy that he is not on the organizing committee.

Think about it: The February conference is dedicated to the protection of minors. The Vatican already has an office devoted to precisely that topic. But that office will not be in charge of organizing the meeting. The Commission that has already spent months speaking with victims, and devising plans to protect them, is not setting the agenda.

Since the pressure for Vatican action this year has come primarily from the United States, it is fitting that at least one prominent American prelate should have been involved in the planning. If not Cardinal O’Malley, why not Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the US bishops’ conference?

Once again an explanation is close at hand, and it is not encouraging. Cardinal DiNardo led an American delegation to Rome this summer, to urge the Pope to conduct an inquiry into the McCarrick scandal and the Vigano charges. The Pope declined. If Cardinal DiNardo were placed on the organizing committee, he might be tempted to look for another way to jump-start that broader investigation. Whereas Cardinal Cupich, when asked about the McCarrick/Vigano mess, replied that “this is not on the Pope’s plate to fix. This is on us.”

Cardinal Cupich knows the Pope’s thinking. And Pope Francis knows full well what Cardinal Cupich will contribute to the task of organizing the February meeting. The sex-abuse scandal as seen through American eyes – the scandal that includes McCarrick and homosexual influence and Vatican complicity – is “not on the Pope’s plate to fix.” Look for more headlines on this issue in February, but do not expect any substantial movement. Help is not on the way.

Published with permission from CatholicCulture.org.

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REAL Women of Canada staff

Opinion, ,

Canada is the ultimate surrogacy destination…on the taxpayer’s dime

REAL Women of Canada staff
By REAL Women of Canada staff

November 28, 2018 (REAL Women of Canada) – Canada has become a delightful place for foreigners to have a child born to them through surrogacy. Almost half of children born to Canadian surrogate mothers in British Columbia are for parents who live outside Canada. Data from other provinces is not publicly available.

This service is particularly important to those many people who are unable to make such arrangements in their own country where surrogacy is prohibited. These countries include Japan, China, many European and predominantly Muslim countries.

Other countries, such as the US, South Africa, Israel, India, Nepal, Thailand and Mexico ban international surrogacy. Happily for foreign couples, Canada permits surrogacy for foreigners and allows surrogacy even for single persons and for same-sex couples. Only a few jurisdictions, such as Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and a few U.S. States are as open to foreign surrogacy and are as co-operative as Canada.

There is another delightful aspect for a foreigner having a child by surrogacy in Canada. A Canadian surrogate mother is entitled to publicly funded health care throughout the pregnancy, during the delivery and after the birth. It is irrelevant whether she is carrying the child for herself or for residents of a foreign country. Besides, our neonatal care is top notch and is also publicly funded.

Pregnancy costs and delivery costs, even for an uneventful pregnancy, are considerable. The average uncomplicated birth in Canada rings in between $3,000 and $6,000 depending on whether it is a vaginal or a caesarean delivery. Complications in pregnancy can increase this figure alarmingly. Neonatal care would also be pricey if one had to pay for it from one’s own pocket. For instance, according to the Canadian Institute of Health Information, care for a baby born at 29 weeks weighing less than a kilogram, costs an average of $91,946. Further, a Canadian woman carrying a foreigner’s child by surrogacy, who is employed at the time of her pregnancy, may also qualify for employment insurance benefits to a maximum of $6,500.00 after the pregnancy. It’s a nice enticement for a Canadian surrogate mother.

There is a slight problem in that Canadian legislation prohibits paying the surrogate mother for her services. But this only applies to payments within Canada. There is nothing to prevent a money transaction for her services in another jurisdiction. It’s just a short hop across the US border to a US state which permits foreign surrogacy to complete such a financial transaction.

Canada is efficient about granting legal parental rights. It varies by province, but generally speaking, parents of surrogate children can be declared legal parents without a lot of hassle in just a few days, and can be issued a birth certificate within weeks. Another convenience is that a child born in Canada, even if his/her parents are foreign residents, has a right to Canadian citizenship, and a passport can be issued for that child in short order. That child is then free to re-enter Canada at any time, and later sponsor his/her parents.

It is little wonder that Canada has become the “go-to spot” for foreign surrogacy arrangements. After all, the Canadian taxpayer pays the costs.

On October 12, 2018 Health Canada announced new regulations under the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act. These proposed changes do not include the prohibition of foreign surrogacy arrangements in Canada.

Public consultations on the liberalization of surrogacy will be held between October 27, 2018 and January 10, 2019. Canadians can email, use the online questionnaire or send a letter to:

Office of Legislative and Regulatory Modernization
Health Products and Food Branch
Health Canada
Address Locator: 3000A, 11 Holland Avenue, Suite 14
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9

Email and questionnaire input can be submitted at:

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/programs/consultation-assisted-human-reproduction-regulations.html 

Please request that surrogacy by foreign couples be prohibited in Canada.

In person consultations are planned in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. Further information is available at the above Health Canada link.

The consultations on the proposed regulations are to CLOSE January 10, 2019.

Published with permission from REAL Women of Canada.

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Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Follow Matthew

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Sex change treatments make me suicidal, but they’re my right, writes transsexual for New York Times

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Matthew Cullinan Hoffman Follow Matthew
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

November 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The tragic madness of gender ideology is on full display at the New York Times with the publication of an opinion article by a “trans” man who blithely reveals that that his “sex reassignment” treatments are making him more miserable, and even tempting him to kill himself – but that’s no reason to stop them.

In fact, the writer argues, the notion that such operations are justified by the psychological needs of the patients is itself a form of discrimination and oppression.

In his essay, “My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy,” a troubled man who calls himself “Andrea Long Chu” informs us that any psychological benefit he might gain from the hole that will be carved between his legs – which is meant to simulate a vagina and which his body will interpret correctly as an injury – has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the surgery.

Concerning his new “vagina,” which he will shortly receive, Chu admits: “Until the day I die, my body will regard the vagina as a wound; as a result, it will require regular, painful attention to maintain. This is what I want, but there is no guarantee it will make me happier. In fact, I don’t expect it to. That shouldn’t disqualify me from getting it.”

Chu goes further than this though, admitting that his misery has worsened with his “sex reassignment” treatments, and that his feelings of gender dysphoria are actually becoming more intense, even to the point of making him suicidal – but claims that’s no argument against such treatments. After all, what does the well-being of the patient have to do with medicine?

“I feel demonstrably worse since I started on hormones,” writes Chu, who calls his depressive estrogen treatments “delayed-release sadness.” Meanwhile, his anxiety about his biological sex – something he can never really change – keeps increasing. “Like many of my trans friends, I’ve watched my dysphoria balloon since I began transition,” he writes.

“I was not suicidal before hormones. Now I often am,” Chu adds, expressing himself with a frankness that is rare in LGBT activism.

Medical science politicized

He even goes so far as to claim that the medical maxim “first, do no harm” is oppressive, because it assumes that the physician is in a position to decide what is beneficial and what is harmful to patients. Instead of exercising such judgment, doctors should do whatever the patients want them to do; otherwise they’re oppressing the patient.

“Nonmaleficence is a principle violated in its very observation,” raves Chu. “Its true purpose is not to shield patients from injury but to install the medical professional as a little king of someone else’s body.”

“Surgery’s only prerequisite should be a simple demonstration of want,” Chu writes. “Beyond this, no amount of pain, anticipated or continuing, justifies its withholding.”

Chu tells us that the claim that “transgender” people are mentally ill – something any mentally healthy person can easily deduce from his own words – is itself nothing but a form of political ideology produced by an oppressor class, which he asserts to be made up both of “conservatives” and “liberals.”

Chu calls the labeling of gender dysphoria as a mental illness a “popular right-wing narrative” that he admits is embraced by his own father, who is a physician. However, he also blasts what he calls the “liberal counternarrative” that mutilating “sex-reassignment” surgery is justified by the need to relieve the patient from suffering.

He calls both the “liberal” and the “conservative” views “compassion-mongering,” and says they are both “peddling bigotry in the guise of sympathetic concern.”

Meanwhile, the American Psychiatric Association still lists “gender dysphoria” as an unhealthy psychiatric condition, although they say they have changed the label from a “disorder” to a “dysphoria” to avoid placing a “stigma” on such people.

There is a paradox here for the country’s “LGBT” movement: the APA’s continuing categorization of their condition as a psychiatric ailment is directly contrary to their self-justifying ideology, but at the same time it is absolutely necessary if they are to continue to receive insurance benefits for their treatments.

The APA admits that this was their own concern in renaming “gender identity disorder” as “gender dysphoria” in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5: “Ultimately, the changes regarding gender dysphoria in DSM-5 respect the individuals identified by offering a diagnostic name that is more appropriate to the symptoms and behaviors they experience without jeopardizing their access to effective treatment options.”

A pathetic cry for help – exploited by the New York Times

The article is another sad reminder of how far leftist publications like the New York Times will go in their political exploitation of people who suffer from devastating mental conditions, in order to further their agenda of subverting sexual morality and the values of the family.

The Times is constantly publishing testimonies by people whose unhinged sexual promiscuity or deviance is treated as reasonable and respectable behavior. The editorial staff appears to be committed to the relentless pursuit of “defining deviancy down,” in the words of the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, all to the end of destroying any ethos that might sustain the family and the civilization upon which it rests.

Mr. Chu’s essay is nothing less than a plaintive cry for help by a man who, at some level, seems to know he is ruining his body and his life, mutilating himself in ways that can never be reversed. Our response to those who seek such obvious self-harm should be compassion and a helpful reassurance that the body and sex God gave them is a noble thing they can proudly accept.

In short, men such as Mr. Chu need our society’s loving help to overcome their painful anxieties, and to resist their self-destructive impulses. Instead, they are being used by liberal elites – most of whom would never involve themselves in such behavior – for their own pathological political agenda.  

Contact the author at [email protected].

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