All articles from January 3, 2019


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David’s Bridal features same-sex brides for the first time in one of its TV ads

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By Lisa Bourne

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pennsylvania, January 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The largest wedding retailer in the United States is "rewriting the rules" with a new marketing campaign showing for the first time in company history a same-sex couple in a television ad.

"We wanted to make sure this spot represented what we see from brides today," David’s Bridal chief marketing officer Liz Crystal said. "We value every type of bride."

The ad campaign includes a TV spot featuring non-traditional brides, showing a female couple and also a bride and groom holding their baby during the wedding ceremony.

In the ad, the female couple is seen dancing in wedding dresses, presumably at their wedding reception, before a male guest cuts in to dance with one of the brides.

David’s debuted the marketing campaign this week, according to a report from the industry news outlet Ad Age.

In the past, David’s ads focused more on the dresses and the customer experience in its stores and less on who is getting married, Crystal said. The thought of rewriting the rule with the campaign is meant to promote the company’s product offerings for brides, she said.  

David’s was founded in 1950 and has approximately 300 stores in Canada, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.

The advertising campaign follows the bridal retailer having filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November.

David’s said at the time that it had no plans to close stores or liquidate inventory, and pending orders and bridal appointments would not be affected.

The analytics company Moody’s downgraded the bridal business’s ranking from stable to negative in February 2017, The Washington Post reported. Moody’s cited the “casualization” of gowns and bridesmaid dresses as a primary factor.

The chain has been struggling recently and under pressure to lower its prices, according to Business Insider, with other stores offering less expensive bridal merchandise due to a shift by millennials away from traditional weddings for more casual, lower-priced weddings and gowns.

David’s and other traditional bridal companies also face competition from direct-to-consumer wedding startups and new models that can deliver dresses in days where the established retailers have taken months.

The bridal chain is not the first to market same-sex couples, the Ad Age report noted. It followed the lead in recent years of companies such as Kohl’s, Tiffany & Co., Wells Fargo and Zales.

The article also said same-sex weddings had boosted the national economy by about $1.6 billion and state and local tax revenues by $102 million in the year after the June 2015 Obergefell U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex “marriage.” The stats came from a 2016 report from the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy, a UCLA School of Law think tank.

It did not mention whether the financial increase was maintained in the years that followed or if since 2016 it had fallen off.

David’s Bridal is investing more this year than the $15 million it spent on measured media in the U.S. in 2017, Crystal said.

Its campaign including the same-sex brides will appear in a series of 15- and 30-second TV ads, along with shorter and longer digital videos, that will run on social media and radio as well.

As with previous campaigns, the spots will air during the critical first-quarter period known as "Bridal Christmas," Ad Age’s report said, when most brides are looking for their gowns. But in a departure from previous years, David's will continue the media campaign into the second quarter.

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Democrats take control of House, immediately introduce bill to fund abortions worldwide

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By Calvin Freiburger

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Democrats wasted no time asserting their priorities upon taking over the U.S. House of Representatives this week, proposing legislation to fund the federal government which would at the same time reverse one of President Donald Trump’s earliest pro-life accomplishments.

The federal government has been partially shut down since Trump, facing pressure from conservatives, decided at the last minute in December to reject a government funding bill that didn’t include $5 billion to begin constructing the southern border wall he campaigned on. While the media is filled with distress over the shutdown and uncertainty over whether Democrats or Republicans will blink first, most of the government was already funded and remains in operation.

Following her return to the office of House Speaker Thursday, Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi announced that her party would be “offering the Senate Republican Appropriations [Committee] legislation to reopen the government later today,” Fox News reports. The proposal would fund the Department of Homeland Security until February 8 and other federal departments until the end of September.

The bill has been a political non-starter because it lacks wall funding, however, and pro-lifers are warning that it would also repeal the Mexico City Policy (now called Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance) that Trump reinstated shortly after taking office and later expanded. That would make foreign entities that commit or promote abortions once again eligible for foreign aid.

The plan would also give $37.5 million to the United Nations Population Fund, from which Trump withdrew in 2017 over its participation in China’s forced abortion regime.

“This move shows the House Democrats are so radically pro-abortion that they are more concerned with pushing their abortion agenda on the American people than finding common ground to end the government shutdown,” Live Action president Lila Rose responded. While Trump and Senate Republicans “failed last session to pass a law preventing the American taxpayer from funding Planned Parenthood,” they “now have a duty to stand firm and block such outrageous attempts to have the American taxpayer fund and promote abortion programs across the globe.”

“News that abortion is the leading cause of death worldwide is a tragedy of international proportions, but asking U.S. taxpayers to pay for it is an offensive misuse of scarce resources,” Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins said. “Taxpayers have had enough of the abortion industry’s vision of abortion as the United States’ number one export. As a bipartisan matter, we should help women and children at home and abroad, without making ending life the goal of U.S. policy.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already rejected the proposal as a “political sideshow,” declaring that the Senate “will not waste its time considering a Democratic bill which cannot pass this chamber and which the president will not sign.”

How the shutdown standoff will end remains unclear. Conservative pundit Ann Coulter, who was one of Trump’s earliest and most passionate supporters, predicted this week the president “will fold in the end,” though others argue he can satisfy supporters by funding the wall through other revenue sources not reliant on Congress.

In July 2017, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) suggested the federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood be directed to the border wall instead.

As for abortion policy under the new Congress, pro-lifers are largely resigned to two more years without direct legislation to defund Planned Parenthood or otherwise restrict abortion, though they remain optimistic that Trump will continue to find incremental steps for life via executive action, and hope Republicans’ expanded Senate majority will enable the confirmation of judges with clear pro-life credentials.

Democrat opposition to Pelosi’s re-election as speaker falls flat

Pelosi is a self-declared “Catholic” with a 100 percent pro-abortion voting record, who has said that promoting “diversity” among Capitol Hill staff will be one of her priorities in the new Congress. On multiple occasions, however, she has also displayed the political acumen to deemphasize left-wing causes like abortion for the sake of winning over Americans on economic or healthcare grounds.

After the November midterms, the New York Times revealed that Pelosi helped Democrats return to power in part by counseling “restraint” against fighting over things like Planned Parenthood in favor of a focused message on more mainstream concerns. “Those things are in our DNA, but they are not in our talking points,” she reportedly said on multiple occasions.

In April, she defended her support of “pro-life” Democrats like Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski on the grounds that his election would count toward a “pro-choice gavel when we win the Congress,” and during the campaign downplayed Democrat calls to impeach President Donald Trump. Conservatives suspect such assurances were merely meant to hide Democrats’ true intentions so as not to provoke GOP voter turnout.

The Hill reports that 15 House Democrats, most of whom were just elected, opposed Pelosi’s re-election as speaker, though they didn’t agree on a single alternative and their ranks were far short of the “dozens” who had previously distanced themselves from her.

“On day one of the new Congress, Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are already trying to foist a radical pro-abortion agenda on the nation,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said. “The House’s spending bill would...[make] taxpayers complicit in the exportation of abortion and destruction of countless unborn children around the world. This is unconscionable and we oppose the bill in the strongest terms.”

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United States bungles pro-life vote at UN, pro-abortion Europe laughs

Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
By Stefano Gennarini J.D.

January 3, 2019 (C-Fam) – The European Union has proved a tough adversary for the U.S., outmaneuvering U.S. pro-life diplomatic effort at UN headquarters in recent weeks, and signaling that they will not cede on abortion policy in development and humanitarian assistance.

Following several months of U.S. opposition to abortion-related terms in UN resolutions, the U.S. attempted to delete references to "sexual and reproductive health" through last-minute amendments in several UN resolutions on December 17 and December 14, as the General Assembly wrapped up its annual work.

In an effort to isolate the U.S. delegation, the EU diplomatic machinery actively opposed U.S. pro-life efforts in embassies and ministries all around the world. By the 17th, only one country supported the U.S. amendments in the General Assembly.

A delegate of the Netherlands, a leading pro-abortion delegation, chuckled as he interrupted voting in the General Assembly to mock U.S. pro-life efforts.

"We are just a little confused about what is going on here, but let's continue to vote," he joked, pointing to the voting screen that showed the U.S. had lost all support.

The Europeans' diplomatic advantage was overwhelming. They refused to even entertain a modest U.S. proposal to qualify "sexual and reproductive health" in the resolution on humanitarian cooperation.

The U.S. asked to qualify the controversial term with the phrase "which does not include abortion as a method of family planning," to prevent UN agencies from including abortion as a service within reproductive health, though not necessarily always.

European Union diplomats rejected the U.S. amendment off-hand, boasting of collectively being the largest donors to humanitarian operations and accusing the U.S. of endangering women's health and undermining their fundamental rights. It should be noted, the U.S. is the single largest national donor to humanitarian assistance.

The failure of the U.S. delegation to gain wider Member State support was not solely due to European efforts to isolate the U.S. delegation. It was also a result of the U.S. inability to communicate a consistent strategy and demonstrate to like-minded countries that they had the political will to oppose the Europeans.

When the same resolutions were tentatively agreed by the General Assembly's third committee toward the beginning of December, over forty delegations supported U.S. pro-life proposals. And upward of seventy supported the outright deletion of "sexual and reproductive health" in one instance. But none of these delegations supported the U.S. amendments in the General Assembly plenary.

One delegate suggested the U.S. had been its own worst enemy. No delegation was prepared to support the U.S. because the U.S. never asked for support.

"The U.S. did not make any attempts to contact capitals" at any point, he explained, and delegations in New York were "caught unaware" every time the U.S. proposed any amendments.

In addition, the U.S. never called a vote on a resolution because of pro-life concerns. This made it seem as though the U.S. was merely politicizing UN voting procedures to appease pro-life voters, rather than pursuing actual foreign policy priorities in good faith.

But what was most responsible for the loss of support, according to this delegate, was an earlier U.S. attempt to divide Islamic countries to advance language about "sexual orientation and gender identity" in a resolution.

"They asked for delegations' support in one resolution and in the very next resolution tried to break up the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which constitutes most of their supporters on sexual and reproductive health," he said.

Delegates said until the U.S. demonstrates the political will to match European diplomacy, and a willingness to work in a collaborative and diplomatic spirit with countries sympathetic to their pro-life position, the U.S. will not succeed in rolling back abortion advances.

Published with permission from C-Fam.

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Sandro Magister

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Imprisoned journalists show China is not improving under Vatican agreement

Sandro Magister
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January 3, 2019 (L'Espresso) – "Looking To China" was the five-column headline that "L'Osservatore Romano" – no longer directed by Giovanni Maria Vian, but by Andrea Monda – ran in presenting the news that "two Chinese children, ages six and seven, brought flowers before the statue of the Child Jesus together with Pope Francis," on Christmas Eve in Saint Peter's Basilica.

Meanwhile, however, things are happening in China that the official Vatican media will never be able to report, gagged as they are by the accord signed on September 22 between the Vatican and Beijing.

Here, in fact, is what was revealed on December 28, the feast of the Holy Innocents, in a press release from the CESNUR, the Center for Studies on the New Religions. It is reproduced below in full. With just one notification, that "Bitter Winter" has been referenced repeatedly by "Settimo Cielo" as among the most reliable sources at the international level.

* * *

45 journalists arrested in China. They were sending news to the Italian magazine "Bitter Winter"

45 journalists have been arrested in China this month, under the accusation of sending news, videos, and photographs to the daily magazine on religious freedom and human rights in China "Bitter Winter," published since May 2018 in Turin, in eight languages, by the CESNUR, the Center for Studies on the New Religions, and directed by the Turinese sociologist Massimo Introvigne, who is also director of the CESNUR.

"Bitter Winter" publishes exclusive news from China every day, provided by a substantial group of Chinese journalists and with commentary by specialists of the CESNUR.

The magazine attained international notoriety when, last month, it published three videos shot inside the heavily guarded reeducation camps for the Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang, which were rebroadcast by numerous international news sites and television networks.

Together with the publication of confidential documents of the Chinese Communist Party on matters of religion and photographs of destroyed churches, mosques, and statues of Buddha, as well as news on the mistreatment of dissident Catholic priests that continues in spite of the accord between China and the Holy See, these videos provoked a tough response from the regime.

The arrests have been reported by the CESNUR and by "Bitter Winter" itself. "We have credible news," Massimo Introvigne affirms, "on the fact that some of the journalists arrested have been tortured to obtain information on who else was sending us news and documents from China. And unfortunately the reporter who shot the videos inside the reeducation camps of Xinjiang has disappeared without leaving a trace. And as has happened to other journalists in China, we fear that he is destined never to be seen again.

"We trust that anyone who takes the freedom of the press to heart will raise his voice to protest against these very grave episodes. As for China, I believe that it underestimates the number of journalists  who are willing to risk their freedom for the sake of  telling the world about the violations of human rights in that country. The network of 'Bitter Winter' does not number a few dozen, but hundreds."

Published with permission from L'Espresso.

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Trump defends border stance, notes Pope Francis has ‘biggest wall of them all’

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By Martin Barillas

WASHINGTON D.C., January 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – U.S. President Donald Trump responded to criticisms over the morality of building a wall along the southwest U.S. border, saying that the Pope has one too to protect his country. 

“When they say the wall’s immoral, well then you got to do something about the Vatican, because the Vatican has the biggest wall of them all,” Trump told the press at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. 

"Look at all of the countries that have walls, and they work 100 percent,” Trump added. "It’s never going to change. A wall is a wall.”

The barriers around the Vatican City State date to the time of Pope Leo IV (847–855) to offer protection from Muslim marauders. They were later reinforced as fortifications that were built under Popes Paul III (1534–1549), Pius IV (1559–1565), and Urban VIII (1623–1644). The walls mark the legal boundaries of the Vatican, separating it from Italy. Admission to Vatican City is through St. Peter’s Square, where Vatican City police control entry to the sovereign territory.

In February 2016, during the midst of the presidential campaign in the U.S., Pope Francis suggested that “building walls” instead of “building bridges” is not Christian. On his flight from Mexico to Rome, the pope was asked about the burgeoning humanitarian crisis on the U.S. southwest border. While he did not urge Catholics to refrain from voting for then-candidate Trump, the pope did speak to the issue of immigration reform. "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the Gospel," the pope said. 

In response, Trump called the remarks “disgraceful." In a statement, Trump said, "No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith." 

Trump asserted, "If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS's ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president." 

Later, Trump said at a debate hosted by CNN: "I don't like fighting with the Pope," adding, "I like his personality; I like what he represents." Having claimed that Mexican officials had made disparaging remarks about him, Trump said that the pope’s remarks were "much nicer" than had been reported by the media. Even so, Trump pointed out then that the pope has an "awfully big wall" at the Vatican.

Since December 22, the federal government has been in a partial shutdown because of disputes in Congress over the president’s bid for border wall funding. On Wednesday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he fears that the shutdown could go on for weeks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), reiterated on Wednesday that Democrats will not permit funding for Trump’s wall. “Nothing for the wall,” she told NBC’s “Today” show. 

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‘America First’ begins with families first: Tucker Carlson

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

January 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In a stirring 15-minute monologue last night, Tucker Carlson blasted America’s ruling classes for not caring about fellow Americans and demanded that they put “families first.”

Carlson, eponymous host of Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight, began by responding to an attack Mitt Romney recently made on President Donald Trump in the Washington Post. Carlson’s overarching message was that power struggles between American plutocrats are irrelevant compared to their indifference to the vast majority of Americans.

“We’re ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule,” the TV host said. “They have no skin in this game, and it shows.”

“They can’t solve our problems,” he continued. “They don’t even bother to understand our problems.”

Carlson wondered aloud what kind of America our grandchildren will inherit.

“What kind of country will it be then? How do we want our grandchildren to live?” he asked. “Those are the only questions that matter.”

The answer used to be obvious, Carlson observed: “more prosperity, meaning cheaper consumer goods.”

“But is that still true?” he demanded. “Does anyone still believe that cheaper iPhones or more Amazon deliveries of plastic garbage from China are going to make us happy?”

“They haven’t so far,” the host continued. “A lot of Americans are drowning in stuff, and yet drug addiction and suicide [are] depopulating large parts of the country.”

“Anyone who thinks the health of a nation can be summed up in GDP is an idiot,” Calson flatly stated.

The host said that the goal for America was “both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity”: happiness.

“There are a lot of ingredients to being happy,” he said. “Dignity, purpose, self-control, independence – above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children. They’re what our leaders should want for us and would want if they cared. But our leaders don’t care.”

If they did care, they would insist that the American economy serve American families. Carlson devoted the bulk of his speech to arguing that “culture and economics are inseparably intertwined” and that this is key to helping American families stay afloat.  

“Certain economic systems allow families to thrive; thriving families make market economies possible. You can’t separate the two,” he said.

Saying that the evidence is “overwhelming,” Carlson compared the blighted urban cities of the 1980s to the woeful situation of rural America today.

Rural America now looks like Detroit, 1980s Baltimore 

“In many ways rural America now looks a lot like Detroit,” he said. “Rural people are white conservatives, mostly. Yet the pathologies of modern, rural America are familiar to anyone who visited downtown Baltimore in the 1980s: stunning out-of-wedlock birth rates, high male unemployment, a terrifying drug epidemic. Two different worlds, similar outcomes.”

The ruling classes aren’t interested in how this happened, Carlson alleged, because “they don’t have to be.”

“It’s easier to import foreign labor to take the place of native-born Americans who are slipping behind,” he continued.

“But Republicans now represent rural voters. They ought to be interested.”

Carlson noted some of the consequences of a decline in male wages.

“Manufacturing and male-dominated industry all but disappeared over the course of a generation,” he said. “All that remained were schools and hospitals, and both of them are traditional employers of women. In many areas, women suddenly made more than men.”

But as women don’t want to marry men who make less than them, this has led to a decrease in marriage and an increase in out-of-wedlock births, drug and alcohol abuse, higher incarceration rates, and fewer families formed for the next generation.

“This is not speculation,” Carlson stated. “This is not propaganda from the evangelicals. It’s social science. We know it’s true. Rich people know it best of all. It’s why they get married before they have kids. That model works.”

The host then blasted these elites for their indifference to helping the poor get married and stay married, for all their concern for the poor of the developing world.

‘Families’ are ‘the building block of everything’

“This is negligence on a massive scale,” Carlson stated. He added that both political parties as well as cultural influencers are ignoring this crucial “crisis in marriage.”

“Our mindless cultural leaders act as though it’s still 1961, and the biggest problem American families face is that sexism is preventing millions of housewives from becoming investment bankers or Facebook executives.”

After blasting the notion that the first duty of Americans workers is to shareholders, not their own children, Tucker took aim at “the ugliest parts” of the American financial system.

“Not all commerce is good,” he said. “Why is it defensible to loan people money they can’t possibly repay, or charge them interest that impoverishes them? Payday loan outlets in poor neighborhoods collect 400 percent annual interest. Are we okay with that? We should not be.”

“Libertarians tell us, ‘that’s how markets work: consenting adults making voluntary decisions about how to live their lives,’” he continued. “Okay. But it’s also disgusting. If you care about America, you ought to oppose the exploitation of Americans, whether it’s happening in the inner city or on Wall Street.”

Carlson also attacked the new marijuana industry, so-called affirmative action, and the tax code as examples of how the ruling classes simply don’t care about ordinary Americans.  

“If you really loved your fellow Americans, as our leaders should, it would break your heart to see them high all the time – which they are. A huge number of our kids, especially our boys, are smoking weed constantly,” Carlson said, commenting on America’s drug epidemic and “tax-hungry politicians” who eagerly legalize marijuana. “‘Oh, but it’s better for you than alcohol,’ they tell us. Maybe. Who cares? Talk about missing the point. Try having dinner with a 19-year-old who’s been smoking weed. The life is gone: passive, flat, trapped in their own heads. Do you want that for your kids? Of course not.”

After discussing affirmative action, Carlson continued, “We tax capital at half the rate we tax labor. It’s a sweet deal if you work in finance, as many of our richest people do.”

Carlson singled out Mitt Romney, who made $22 million in investment income in 2010. Romney paid an “effective tax rate of 14 percent,” Carlson charged, whereas “upper middle-class wage earners” pay a tax rate of nearly 40 percent.

“No wonder Mitt Romney supports the status quo,” Carlson said. “But for everyone else, it’s infuriating.”

“Unfairness is profoundly divisive,” he continued, and suggested that this itself is in the ruling classes’ interests.

“Divided countries are easier to rule, and nothing divides us like the perception that some people are getting special treatment,” Carlson said. “In our country some people definitely are getting special treatment. Republicans should oppose that with everything they have.”

“What country do we want to live in? A country that actually cares about families, the building block of everything,” he continued.

“Any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having.”

The host acknowledged that Republican leaders would have a hard time internalizing everything he had just said, but he had no hope whatsoever that Democrats would do anything to solve America’s most pressing problems. To his fellow conservatives, he repeated his central thesis: America is its families.

“If you want to put America first,” he concluded, “you’ve got to put its families first.”  

Last November Carlson debated fellow conservative Ben Shapiro on free market capitalism, insisting then also that the economy must serve American families, not vice versa.

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10,000 sign petition to US Supreme Court to get Christian businessman out of jail

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By Calvin Freiburger

Get a Christian businessman out of jail. Sign the petition here.

January 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – LifeSiteNews readers and others concerned about sexual abuse and parental rights have responded overwhelmingly to the case of a Christian businessman convicted of “international parental kidnapping” for helping a mother and her child escape an unrelated lesbian “mother” imposed on the child by a Vermont court.

61-year-old Philip Zodhiates is the president of the conservative direct mail fundraising company Response Unlimited. He is also the adoptive father of six children from Central America.

Zodhiates began serving a federal prison sentence last month after being prosecuted by the Obama administration for driving Lisa Miller and her daughter Isabella to the Canadian border in 2009. A Christian and former lesbian, Miller was fleeing the United States to defy court-imposed visitations with Janet Jenkins, her ex-partner a judge deemed the girl’s second “mother” despite having no biological relation.

Miller and Isabella successfully entered Canada and flew to Nicaragua, with their current whereabouts unknown, but Zodhiates was arrested and eventually convicted for assisting them. An appeals court refused to consider an appeal in October, so his attorneys asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and stay his sentence while reviewing his conviction.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg rejected the request for a stay, but Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s first judicial nominee, placed it on the calendar to be voted on in private conference tomorrow, January 4.

Less than 24 hours after being published Wednesday, LifeSiteNews’ petition calling on the Supreme Court to grant the stay has amassed more than 9,900 signatures, rapidly passing the initial goal of 5,000 and on track to more than double it.

“Mr. Zodhiates must be allowed to make an application to appeal his case to the Supreme Court – so as to be able to exhaust all legal remedies at his disposal,” the petition argues. “Doing so while in prison is an undue burden on Mr. Zodhiates and his legal team, and, moreover, is unjust treatment of a man who maintains his innocence.”

Zodhiates argues not only that he broke no laws, as Miller had full custody of her daughter at the time and neither were under any travel restrictions, but that he was helping protect the child from abuse that judges and prosecutors willfully ignored.

Miller herself told LifeSiteNews in 2008 that she had dissolved her civil union with Jenkins because she had treated her abusively, and Isabella began displaying signs of abuse after subsequent visits with her. The girl had allegedly shown anxiety about visiting Jenkins, complained about being made to bathe nude with her, began openly masturbating for the first time after spending time with Jenkins, and at one point even expressed a desire to kill herself.

A clinical therapist who treated Isabella, a social worker who observed her, and a friend who took care of her all submitted sworn affidavits testifying that they believed the visits with Jenkins were traumatizing the little girl. But Judge Richard Cohen ruled in favor of continuing the visits.

“The Vermont courts refused to admit the affidavits (...) because they had a political agenda of nullifying the many marriage amendments of so many states and the federal Defense of Marriage Act,” Zodhiates told LifeSiteNews last month. “The courts were adamant about sanctioning the sexual abuse of a child in order to push through a vile political agenda.”

Two others have been given prison time for helping Miller and Isabella as well: concerned Mennonites Timothy Miller and Kenneth Miller (who are unrelated to each other or to Lisa, despite the last name).

Whatever the Supreme Court decides tomorrow, Zodhiates cites James 1:2 in embracing his ordeal for Christ.

“So prison has been expected all along. But that’s OK. We are all to expect it, and count it all joy,” he said. “God promises to bring us through the trials and tribulations, and I have to say, it’s drawn me closer to the Lord in a tremendous way. He wants to bring us to the point where we are totally dependent on Him, where nothing we can do can make any difference.”

To donate to Zodhiates, who has incurred massive expenses in defending himself, click here.

Zodhiates can be reached by mail at the following address:

Philip Zodhiates 18649-084
FCI Ashland
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 6001
Ashland, KY  41105

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (center, in blue tie) at gala hosted by registered sex offender Chad Sevearance-Turner (to Cooper's right, in purple shirt and tie) screenshot from facebook.com/CharlotteLGBTChamber
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North Carolina governor attends LGBT gala hosted by registered sex offender

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By Doug Mainwaring

NORTH CAROLINA, January 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – North Carolina Democrat Governor Roy Cooper attended a fundraiser hosted by a transgender rights activist who is a registered sex offender last month.

As Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce (CLGBTCC) president, Chad Sevearance-Turner led the campaign for transgender bathroom usage in North Carolina enabling biological men to occupy private spaces once used exclusively by women and girls.

The ensuing battle over the legislative measure – known as HB2 – took the national spotlight as major corporations, celebrities, and even sports leagues weighed in on the issue.

In 2016, when it was revealed that Turner had been been convicted of sexually abusing boys and sentenced to 10 years in prison, he stepped down from his role as president, but was quietly reinstated months later. 

Cooper and CLGBTCC are longtime allies. While still serving as North Carolina’s attorney general, Cooper refused to defend HB2. He called the law to prevent predatory men from legally invading female locker rooms and restrooms a “national embarrassment.”

In an official group photo taken at the CLGBTCC’s recent holiday gala, the governor is shown standing shoulder to shoulder with the registered sex offender.

A report published by Women are Human states:

In 1998, 20-year-old Sevearance-Turner took advantage of his position as music minister at a church by sexually violating underage boys who were members of the congregation. Three boys accused the music minister of unwanted sexual contact.

According to his victims, Sevearance-Turner would invite adolescent boys to his house, show the boys pornographic videos of men and women engaged in sex acts, and ask the boys sexual questions. Sevearance-Turner’s pattern was to have visiting boys sleep in the bed beside him. If multiple boys were visiting, they would all sleep in the bed alongside Chad. Once the boys had fallen asleep, Sevearance-Turner would sexually assault each boy. The boys would awaken to Sevearance-Turner manually manipulating their private parts.

Progressive political leaders, such as Governor Cooper, and liberal media have long been willing to turn a blind eye to the transgender activist’s predatory sexual behavior with teenage boys.  

In 2016, a reporter with the Charlotte Observer confirmed for Breitbart that the Observer had frequently relied on Sevearance-Turner for quotes during the very public HB2 battle.  

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Ohio Governor John Kasich vetoed the Heartbeat Bill, which would have prevented abortion once the unborn childs heartbeat can be detected in the womb. Juli Hansen / Shutterstock.com
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Ohio Senate one vote short of overriding Kasich veto of ban on aborting babies with heartbeats

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By Calvin Freiburger

COLUMBUS, Ohio, January 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-lifers in Ohio are furious after a last-minute reversal by a Republican lawmaker single-handedly sustained outgoing Gov. John Kasich’s veto of legislation to protect preborn babies as soon as their heartbeats can be detected.

In November and December, the Ohio legislature voted to pass House Bill 258, which would have banned abortions on any baby with a detectable heartbeat, except in cases of a physical threat to the mother. Preborn babies’ hearts finish forming around seven or eight weeks into pregnancy; violating physicians would face up to a year in prison.

Kasich vetoed the bill last month, claiming that while he has “worked hard to strengthen Ohio’s protections for the sanctity of human life,” HB 258 was “contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion.” Numerous pro-life leaders forcefully denounced the governor’s action, arguing that President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees have created an opportunity to challenge Roe v. Wade.

Last week the House mustered 61 votes to override the veto, but the Senate fell one vote short of the 20 needed, Statehouse News Bureau reports, amid pro-abortion protests and last-minute pro-life lobbying from Faith2Action president Janet Porter. Ohio Right to Life, which was previously neutral on the bill over concerns about its odds of legal success, declared on the morning of the votes that it was “now time to embrace the heartbeat bill as the next incremental approach to end abortion in Ohio.” (Ohio Right to Life has previously opposed the heartbeat bill.)

Yet five Republican senators – Bill Beagle, John Eklund, Gayle Manning, Matt Dolan, and Stephanie Kunze – crossed the aisle to vote with every Democrat against the pro-life measure. Beagle’s vote is a point of particular resentment among pro-lifers in the state, as he previously supported the bill.

“There’s a standard for a bill to pass and there’s a higher standard for it to be overridden. I just don’t think it met the standard,” he explained to NBC4, Breitbart reports. “Ultimately you have to vote your conscience and, again, I’ve supported the bill in the past and I’m a pro-life voter – and they may not consider me so after today – but I’ve always been there on their issues.”

“This is as much about Gov. Kasich and his relationship with the General Assembly, and Gov. Kasich has been supportive of me and I think we have a good working relationship and that weighs into the question as well,” he added. Kasich is leaving office on January 14, and Beagle left on December 31.

That explanation didn’t sit well with Beagle’s former colleagues or other heartbeat bill proponents.

“It is inexcusable how Beagle could vote for the Heartbeat bill in the Senate Health committee, and on the Senate floor the first time, then change his vote at the last minute,” Citizens for Community Values President Aaron Baer said. “He also gave no warning to the bill’s sponsors or proponents that he changed his mind.”

WOSU Radio adds that Beagle’s Facebook page has been “inundated” with comments from outraged constituents, including calls to fire him from a new position with Republican state Treasurer-elect Robert Sprague.

“This is not acceptable, and his betrayal should not be rewarded,” state pro-life activist Lori Viars said. “Bill Beagle lied.”

The good news for pro-lifers is that the heartbeat bill’s defeat is likely to be short. Incoming Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has already said he would sign a heartbeat abortion ban, making a version likely to become law sometime this year.

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Red Rose Rescuers outside the Trenton Police Headquarters J. Kuchinsky
Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

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Priest, 3 pro-lifers arrested after saving baby inside Planned Parenthood before Christmas

Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa
By Lisa Bourne
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TRENTON, New Jersey, January 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Just before Christmas, pro-life advocates were arrested for entering the Trenton, New Jersey Planned Parenthood and distributing red roses to abortion-vulnerable women. They saved at least one life during this Red Rose Rescue (RRR).

At roughly 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 22, pro-life advocates Father Fidelis Moscinski of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, William Goodman, Patrice Woodworth, and Matthew Connolly entered the abortion facility on State Street in Trenton. This was the first RRR at a Planned Parenthood. The pro-lifers counseled some six women in the waiting room and gave them roses.

After Goodman spoke to one of the women who was there for an abortion with her boyfriend, giving the couple literature with the rose and talking with them about the humanity of their unborn child, they got up and left the Planned Parenthood abortion facility.

“That was a victory to us that they did leave,” Citizens for a Pro-Life Society Director Monica Migliorino Miller told The Trentonian. “They were filing the paperwork for it (an abortion).”

“We don’t know if they are going to go back,” said Miller, “all we can say is they have left during the time of the rescue. We were very encouraged by that. If we hadn’t gone in there and that couple was not spoken to, that baby would probably be dead.”

As the pregnant women in the Planned Parenthood waiting room were counseled and given roses by the rescuers, Planned Parenthood staff worked to move them to another part of the abortion facility.

As that was done, the rescuers remained in the waiting room praying and singing hymns until the police arrived. The officers warned the rescuers that they were trespassing, Miller said, but Goodman explained that they were needed there to defend the unborn scheduled to die by abortion.

“We cannot leave,” he said. “Innocent unborn children are about to be put to death and we have opted to stay with them.”

Trenton police removed and arrested the four pro-life advocates, The Trentonian report said, with Trenton PD Lt. Peter Szpakowski confirming they were each charged with trespassing.

The Trenton Planned Parenthood rescue was the 11th since September 2017, when the Red Rose Rescues began to return after similar “rescues” had fallen off from their early days in the pro-life movement due to federal legislation imposing harsh penalties. No one involved in the RRRs has been charged under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, the federal law passed under President Bill Clinton aimed at stopping rescues.

In the more recent rescues, pro-life rescuers have offered the pregnant mothers a rose to convey their dignity as human beings, hence that portion of the rescues’ name.

Father Stephen Imbarrato, a leading pro-life advocate and regular RRR participant, was present for the Trenton rescue, but was not among those arrested. Father Imbarrato, who’d been arrested two days earlier at the Washington Surgi-Clinic rescue in Washington, D.C., remained outside praying the rosary at Trenton.

Imbarrato told LifeSiteNews it seems God has led him to do rescues where the abortions happen in multi-floor, multi-unit buildings. When abortion centers are set up this way, pro-lifers may not be able to identify the abortion-minded women or access them.

“Our Lord has shown me that we can still access and counsel these women to save their babies by going into the waiting rooms and/or the building common areas inside the building,” he said. “This has brought us many blessings stopping abortions from happening and saving babies.”

“Most Planned Parenthoods are difficult to access,” continued Imbarrato. “Even the one in Trenton had a guard. The four brave rescuers planned their entry well and reaped many blessings.”

He commented later in a Facebook post, stating, “11 Rescues in a little over a year have saved countless babies from abortion who otherwise would now be dead.”

The RRRs have two goals: to offer help and encouragement to the mothers in hopes they will turn away from the decision to abort their children, and to offer a loving act of defense on behalf of their unborn children about to be aborted – to stand with them in that moment of abandonment. 

“This is why Red Rose Rescuers do not leave the abortion centers,” Miller said in a news release. “They do not leave – they must be removed.” 

“We will go into the very places where the unborn are put to death and extend help to the moms,” Miller said. “Should this help be refused – we will not leave the abortion centers but remain in solidarity with the helpless victims oppressed by the injustice of abortion.”

Once they were released from jail, as is normally done, the Trenton Planned Parenthood rescuers returned to the outside of the abortion facility to pray for the mothers and Planned Parenthood staff, and for an end to abortion.

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Martin M. Barillas Martin M. Barillas Follow Martin

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Pope blames US bishops for ‘crisis of credibility’ on sex abuse

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By Martin Barillas

January 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In the midst of a weeklong retreat held by American Catholic bishops in northern Illinois at Mundelein Seminary, Pope Francis sent an eight-page letter seeking to address the “crisis of credibility that you are experiencing as a Church” with regard to historic responses to charges of sexual abuse by clerics and subsequent cover-ups.

He wrote, “We know that, given the seriousness of the situation, no response or approach seems adequate; nonetheless, we as pastors must have the ability, and above all the wisdom, to speak a word born of heartfelt, prayerful and collective listening to the Word of God and to the pain of our people."

"In recent years, the Church in the United States has been shaken by various scandals that have gravely affected its credibility," he wrote. "The Church's credibility has been seriously undercut and diminished by these sins and crimes, but even more by the efforts made to deny or conceal them. This has led to a growing sense of uncertainty, distrust and vulnerability among the faithful. As we know, the mentality that would cover things up, far from helping to resolve conflicts, enabled them to fester and cause even greater harm to the network of relationships that today we are called to heal and restore."

The Pope did not mention in his letter that it was his rehabilitation of now ex-Cardinal McCarrick that contributed in no small part to the current American crisis. A key catalyst of that crisis was Archbishop Viganò's testimony that the Pope lifted sanctions against the U.S. Cardinal despite knowing that he was an abuser of priests and seminarians.

EWTN's Raymond Arroyo tweeted in reaction that the "crisis of credibility" affects more than the U.S. bishops.

"The Pope to US Bishops in 8 page letter: this spiritual retreat is 'a necessary step' in responding to 'the crisis of credibility that YOU are experiencing as a Church.' Methinks the crisis of credibility may stretch a bit farther than the American Church," he tweeted this morning. 

Last November, the Holy See asked the U.S. bishops to delay voting on two measures during their General Assembly that were aimed at addressing the sexual abuse crisis in the American Church. Many saw this as the Vatican interfering with the U.S. bishops' attempt to do something concrete to address the sex abuse crisis.  

Pope Francis said in his letter to the U.S. bishops that the "sins and crimes that were committed, and their repercussions on the ecclesial, social and cultural levels, have deeply affected the faithful."

"They have caused great perplexity, upset and confusion; and this can often serve as an excuse for some to discredit and call into question the selfless lives of all those many Christians who show 'an immense love for humanity inspired by the God who became man,'" he added. 

The Pope also wrote that the hurt caused by "sins and crimes" have sowed division and dispersion among the bishops.

"The loss of credibility also raises painful questions about the way we relate to one another. Clearly, a living fabric has come undone, and we, like weavers, are called to repair it. This involves our ability, or inability, as a community to forge bonds and create spaces that are healthy, mature and respectful of the integrity and privacy of each person. It involves our ability to bring people together and to get them enthused and confident about a broad, shared project that is at once unassuming, solid, sober and transparent. This requires not only a new approach to management, but also a change in our mind-set (metanoia), our way of praying, our handling of power and money, our exercise of authority and our way of relating to one another and to the world around us."

No official reaction from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been issued.

Capuchin Friar Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap. of the papal household is directing the retreat under the theme of “He appointed Twelve, to be with Him and to Send Out to Preach” based on the Gospel of Mark. No press conference has been announced, and ordinary business has been canceled for the balance of the retreat.

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Bree A. Dail Bree A. Dail

Opinion,

US bishops aren’t alone in having a ‘crisis of credibility.’ It goes all the way to the pope

Bree A. Dail Bree A. Dail
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January 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — With the Thursday morning release of Pope Francis’ eight-page letter to the U.S. bishops, a portion of whom are currently in attendance at a retreat in Mundelein, Illinois,  the Pope seems to suggest  that the current sex abuse crisis —and resulting “crisis of credibility”— is isolated to the United States, laying the responsibility solely at the door of the U.S. bishops — and not on himself. 

In the letter, the Roman Pontiff notably opens that his the bishops' retreat would be a time of “prayer and discernment … a necessary step toward responding in the spirit of the Gospel to the crisis of credibility that you are experiencing as a Church” [bolded text added by author]. He continued, “In recent years, the Church in the United States has been shaken by various scandals that have gravely affected its credibility. These have been times of turbulence in the lives of all those victims who suffered in their flesh the abuse of power and conscience and sexual abuse on the part of ordained ministers, male and female religious and lay faithful.”

The sex-abuse crisis, however, has made international news throughout the last year, as has the pope’s unwillingness to engage in addressing it. 

During his trip to Chile at the beginning of 2018, in response to victim’s claims that Bishop Juan Barros had covered up abuse by one of his priests, Pope Francis infamously stated, "The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I'll speak out. There is not one shred of proof against him. It's all slander. Is that clear?" The only retraction came, after uproar from the faithful in Chile spread to the International community — including a stern public rebuke by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston. Later, with revelations of additional abuse and cover-up by Chilean clergy, the entire bishops’ conference offered their resignations to the Roman Pontiff.

And then there is evidence that Pope Francis attacked and stonewalled sex abuse victims while archbishop of Buenos Aires. German national TV channel ZDF created a documentary in 2017 in which it claimed that Pope Francis, as Archbishop Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, ignored cries for justice from abuse victims in his diocese. There is also the case of Pope Francis reinstating and giving back priestly faculties to known-child molester Fr. Mauro Inzoli, against the advice of Cardinal Gerhard Müller, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

When Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò revealed, however, that Pope Francis knew of the allegations against former cardinal and accused pederast abuser, Theodore McCarrick — having him reinstated from sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict XVI — it seems the dam broke on what the pope labels in his letter as “the crisis of credibility.” At this, Pope Francis exclaimed, “I will not say a single word,” later only veiling comments on the person of the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

In August, after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s grand jury report into the two-year Investigation of Child Abuse and Cover-Up by the Catholic Church, reports of abuse broke from ItalyGermany, and Australia

Clearly, the "crisis of credibility" is not just with the U.S. bishops, but is plaguing the Church throughout the world and goes all the way to the top.

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Roberto de Mattei

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These amazing hero priests died defending the seal of confession

Roberto de Mattei
By Roberto de Mattei

January 3, 2019 (Rorate Caeli) – The inviolability of the secrecy of the confessional is one of the pillars of Catholic morality. The new Catechism of the Catholic Church says that "every priest who hears confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that confession gives him about penitents' lives. This secret, which admits of no exceptions, is called the 'sacramental seal,' because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains "sealed" by the sacrament" (n. 1467). The New Code of Canon Law inflicts latae sententiae excommunication on the priest who violates the sacramental seal (Canon 1388, §1). For the Church, no reason whatsoever can justify the violability of the seal of the confessional, since, as St. Thomas explains, "the priest has knowledge of those sins, not as a man, but as God knows them" (Summa Theologiae, Suppl., 11,1ad2).

The Catholic States have always protected the secrecy of the confessional. Alexandre Dumas, in his historical novel, The Poisoner, recounts an episode from Tractatus de confessariis by the Archbishop of Lisbon, Rodrigo da Cunha y Silva (1577-1643):

A Catalonian born in the city of Barcelona, having been condemned to death for a murder committed and acknowledged by him, at the hour of confession, refused to confess. They tried many times to convince him, but he defended himself so strenuously as to engender in others the conviction that such a rebellion originated from the agitation in his soul caused by impending death. St. Thomas of Villanova (1488- 1555), Archbishop of Valencia was notified of the situation. The Hierarch then decided to make every effort to induce the criminal to go to confession, so that he wouldn't lose his soul as well as his body. However, he was greatly surprised after having asked the reason for the criminal's refusal to go to confession. The condemned man told him how he hated confessors, as he had been condemned for murder precisely as a result of a revelation made during that sacrament.

Nobody else had been aware of that murder, except, specifically, the priest he had made his confession to, and along with his contrition, also the place he had buried the body and other circumstances of the crime. The priest had afterwards referred to the authorities all the details and for this reason the murderer could not deny them. Only then did the guilty man realize that the priest was the victim's brother and the desire for revenge had had leverage over every other priestly obligation. St. Thomas of Villanova judged this declaration much graver than the trial [itself] given that it concerned the prestige of religion. Its consequences were therefore more important. Thus he thought it opportune to make inquiries about the veracity of the declaration. He summoned the priest and made him confess to the crime of disclosure, constrained the judges who had condemned the accused to revoke their judgment and then absolve him. This is how things went amid the admiration and the applause of the public. As regards the confessor, he was condemned to a very severe punishment, which St. Thomas mitigated, in consideration of the ready admission made by the priest and most of all for the satisfaction in seeing how the judges set great store by that sacrament." (The Poisoner, Mursia, Milano 2018, pp. 58-60)

The Western judicial tradition has always respected the seal of the confessional, but the process of secularization of recent decades, which according to some the Church would have benefited from, is nonetheless changing the situation. In a recent article in the Roman daily, Il Messaggero, the Vatican reporter, Franca Giansoldati, wrote that "the abolition of the seal of the confessional is an idea which is being pushed forward implacably, in various countries, despite strong opposition from the Episcopates" (December 20th, 2018). Unfortunately, the facts side with this prediction. In Australia, the region of Canberra passed a law which imposes priests to renege the seal of confession when they were aware of sexual abuse cases. In Belgium, on December 17th, Father Alexander Stroobandt was convicted by the Court of Bruges for not having notified the social services that an old man had manifested the intention of committing suicide. According to the Court, the secrecy of the confessional is not absolute, but can and must be violated in sexual abuse cases concerning minors and in the prevention of suicide. In Italy, the Court of Cassation, with sentence number 6912 of February 14th, 2017, sanctioned that the religious summoned to testify in a trial for sexual abuse, could not refuse to do so for the sake of the seal of confession, otherwise they would incur the crime of false testimony. 

Presumably, these issues will be discussed also at the meeting between the Pope and the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of the entire world, which will take place in Rome from February 21st to 24th 2019, to address "The Protection of Minors in the Church." Yet Pope Francis and the ecclesiastical hierarchy seem to be bending to the requests of the world when they differentiate between sins that constitute a crime for the secular States, like pedophilia, and others instead which are protected by the modern States, like homosexuality. For the former, the men of the Church invoke "zero tolerance"; about the latter they remain silent. Consequently, it is predictable that the legislation by the modern States will impose on the Church the application of "zero tolerance" against pedophilia, by releasing priests, aware of these crimes, from the seal of the confessional. If not, the persecution against the sacramental seal, which has been a rarity in the history of the Church, will become the rule in the coming years. For this spiritual help is more than ever necessary for those who did not recoil, faced with death, in order to respect the Divine Law.

The martyrdom of St. John Nepomuceno is well-known (1330-1383), tortured and drowned in the River Moldava in Prague by King Wenceslaus of Bohemia for refusing to reveal what the King's wife had said in confession. Less well-known is the case of the Mexican priest, St. Matteo Correa Magallanes (1866-1927). During the Cristeros revolt against the Masonic government, General Eulogio Ortiz, known for having one of his soldiers shot because he was wearing a scapular, had Father Matteo arrested, and ordered him to hear the confessions in prison of the Cristeros "bandits" who would be shot the following day, and to report to him what he had heard from them in confession. The priest heard the prisoners' confessions, but refused the request strenuously. On February 6th 1927, General Ortiz executed him with his very own sidearm, at the cemetery in Durango. Matteo Correa Magallaes was beatified on November 22nd 1992 and canonized on May 21st 2000, by Pope John Paul II.

Forgotten is the Peruvian martyr Father Marieluz Garcés (1780-1825). The religious from the Institute of the Camillians took part in the wars for Peru's independence as chaplain to the Spanish Viceroy Don José de la Serna and his troops, commanded by Brigadier José Ramon Rodil y Campillo (1789-1853). After the defeat of the Monarchic army at the Battle of Ayacucho (1824), Rodil's army was besieged at the Fort of Callao and Father Marieluz Garcés stayed with the soldiers to aid them spiritually. In September 1825, the demoralization of the troops gave rise to a conspiracy plot among some of the officers inside the fortress. The plot was discovered by General Rodil and thirteen suspected officers were arrested. They, however, denied the existence of a conspiracy. General Rodil gave orders to have them shot and called Father Marieluz to hear their confessions and prepare them for death. At nine in the evening they were all executed.

The General, however, was not sure that he had caught all of the conspirators and summoned the Chaplain, asking him, in the name of the King, to reveal what he had been told in confession about the conspiracy. Father Marieluz refused vehemently, making appeal to the seal of confession. Rodil threatened him, accusing him of betraying his King, country and general. "I am faithful to the King, to the flag and my superiors, but nobody has the right to ask me to betray my God. On this point I cannot obey you," the priest replied resolutely. At this point, Rodil flung open the door and ordered a platoon of four soldiers to enter with their rifles ready to shoot. Then he made the priest kneel down and shouted at him: "In the name of the King, I ask you for the last time: speak up!" "In the name of God, I cannot," was Pedro Marieluz Garcés' calm reply. A few seconds later he was shot dead, martyr to the confessional seal. Rodil, upon returning to his country, was bestowed the title of Marquis, became a member of parliament, a senator, Prime Minister and Grand Master of Freemasonry. Father Pedro Marieluz Garcés is awaiting beatification by the Church.

The articles and conferences by Professor Roberto de Mattei can all be found here.

This article was translated by Rorate contributor Francesca Romana. It is published here with permission from Rorate Caeli.

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Josie Luetke

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The top ten pro-life gains of 2018

Josie Luetke
By Josie Luetke

January 3, 2019 (Campaign Life Coalition) – I don't need to tell any of you that the pro-life movement suffered its share of losses over the year: Ireland voted to allow abortion; Planned Parenthood still chugs along, the Republicans too obstinate or cowardly to defund them; the totalitarian Canada summer jobs program attestation prevented thousands of employers and students from participating in the program; and abortion drug Mifegymiso was pushed across the country. However, 2019 is a new year, and presents an opportunity for us to resume the fight all the more invigorated.

For now, let us be grateful for what we did accomplish in 2018. Millions of pro-lifers across the world have been working tirelessly to protect the preborn and, when our efforts pay off, the fruits can be very, very sweet. Here are my top ten pro-life victories of 2018 (admittedly heavily weighted in favour of victories more proximate to myself):

#10: Manitoba rejected bubble zones

When Manitoba NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine tabled Bill 200, a private member's bill which would establish bubble zones around abortion facilities, there was fear that Manitoba would become the sixth province to restrict pro-lifers' right to protest. Manitoban politicians, however, chose to stand up for free speech. PC Premier Brian Pallister accused Fontaine of being "willing to invoke the hammer of government to stop people from exercising freedoms that we should never take for granted." The bill was defeated on second reading 32-11.

#9: Steps taken to protect conscience rights and religious freedom

The fact that we don't have adequate conscience protection already is quite disturbing, but hopefully that's turning around.

In January, the Trump administration created the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the Office of Civil Rights. The administration also took lengths to help ensure that employers would not have to cover abortion in health insurance plans.

The Norwegian Supreme Court upheld physician Katarzyna Jachimowicz's right not to perform procedures which she morally objects to. In 2015, she was fired for refusing to insert IUDs, which are known to have an abortifacient effect.

On October 30, Canadian Conservative MP David Anderson tabled Bill C-418, the Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act, which, if passed, would ensure that health care professionals could refuse any involvement in euthanasia/assisted suicide without fear of penalties.

At the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario convention in November, delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of a policy protecting the conscience rights of health care professionals and institutions, which will now be debated and voted on at the next convention before becoming official party policy.

#8: Pro-lifers secure representation in countries like Brazil and Hungary

Recently elected right-wing politicians have focused on issues of immigration, nationalism, and sovereignty, and are not without problematic viewpoints, but some are also pro-life or at least sympathetic to our cause. Some examples:

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was re-elected this year. Thanks to his government's pro-life and pro-family policies, Hungary's abortion rate dropped by a third between 2010 and 2017.

President-elect of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has vowed not to liberalize the abortion laws in the country.

The pro-life political party Vox won twelve seats in the Spanish region of Andalusia.

Italy's new Minister for Family and Disability Lorenzo Fontana is pro-life, and wants to make it easier for pregnant women to choose life. His hometown of Verona, where he previously served as Deputy Mayor, also officially declared itself a "pro-life city" this past year and promised funding to anti-abortion efforts.

#7: Free speech movement gains traction

Government, academic institutions, and social media platforms are engaged in rampant censorship, but the good news is that a strong counter-movement is emerging, led by University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson. Former Wilfrid Laurier University Teaching Assistant Lindsay Shepherd also came into the limelight when she got in trouble for showing a debate featuring Peterson in a tutorial. She went on to cofound the Laurier Society for Open Inquiry, and MC an abortion debate organized by the pro-life club on campus. The Ontario government is now requiring all post-secondary institutions to develop a free speech policy by 2019 or risk losing funding.

#6: Trump's administration blocked promotion of "Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights" at UN & G7 meeting

Prior to the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, the Trudeau government formed a Gender Equality Advisory Council to push the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) agenda at the G7, but thanks to Trump, coverage of the meeting centred on trade. There was no mention of abortion or SRHR in any of the final declarations which emerged from the summit.

Abortion advocates have been experiencing similar opposition from America at the UN. For example, Bethany Kozma, senior advisor on women's issues from the U.S. Agency for International Development, persistently advocated against SRHR at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. While the final agreement produced on the topic of rural women doesn't reverse gains made by the abortion lobby, it also doesn't make any new abortion-related commitments. At the UN Commission on Population and Development, the United States and the African group rejected a resolution on migration in part because it contained SRHR language.

#5: African countries resist ideological colonization

Kenya and Niger both cracked down on British abortion provider Marie Stopes for committing illegal abortions in these countries. It was also reported earlier this year that Marie Stopes and the International Planned Parenthood Federation have had to close some of their African programs due to a lack of funds (thanks to Trump's reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy).

Campaign Life Coalition assisted in bringing attention to the issue of "ideological colonization" by co-hosting a UN side event during the Commission on the Status of Women and organizing a parliamentary screening of the documentary Strings Attached, produced and directed by Obianuju Ekeocha, founder of Culture of Life Africa.

#4: Worldwide pushback against euthanasia/assisted suicide

In votes in places like FinlandPortugalAustralia, and Guernsey, euthanasia/assisted suicide was rejected. 

The World Medical Association also remains opposed to euthanasia and a motion from the Canadian Medical Association calling on it to drop its opposition had so little support that the CMA withdrew it and later also withdrew from the World Medical Association.

#3: Argentina's senate refused abortion

The #SálvemosLas2Vidas/"Save Both Lives" camp was victorious. Argentina's senators voted 38-31 against a bill which would have legalized abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy and permitted abortion after that time in certain circumstances.

#2: The pro-life movement made gains in the Conservative Party of Canada

At the CPC convention in Halifax, a majority of delegates indicated that they supported a Born Alive Infant Protection Act, the exclusion of abortion from maternal health foreign aid, and the development of a national palliative care strategy that explicitly excludes euthanasia. They opposed the expansion of euthanasia for certain vulnerable groups, and any sort of government values test attestation. Pro-lifers' top prize – removing Article #65, which states, "A Conservative Government will not support any legislation to regulate abortion" – remained just barely out of reach, but the close vote gives us hope of reaching this goal at the next convention.

#1: Pro-lifers and educable candidates were elected to Ontario's legislature

At the beginning of this year, it looked like Ontario's next premier would be a choice between PC leader Patrick Brown and Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne. Luckily, instead, pro-life PC leadership candidate Tanya Granic Allen played kingmaker, putting Doug Fordat the helm of the PC party, and setting the stage for Ford to become premier not three months later. Though only rated "educable" by Campaign Life Coalition, he has said that he disagrees with bubble zones and the fact that minors can get abortions without their parents' knowledge or consent. Ontarians also sent nine CLC-endorsed pro-life candidates and a handful of "educable" candidates to the legislature along with Ford.

Published with permission from the Campaign Life Coalition.

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Marie-Claire Bissonnette

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Why abortion pills have changed the future of pro-life activism in Canada

Marie-Claire Bissonnette
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January 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Mifegymiso is the Canadian brand name for an abortion drug called RU-486, which was brought into Canada in January of 2017 after approval by Health Canada in 2015. Not yet two years since its introduction and it has already begun to alter the entire landscape surrounding abortion practices and attitudes in Canada. The pro-life movement will struggle to keep pace with these changes as they accelerate, and so I write this as a warning and an injunction to all pro-life individuals and organizations in Canada, who risk greater marginalization and even irrelevance if they don’t reassess their strategy in light of this evolving situation.

Chemical abortions are much less offensive to our sensibilities than surgical abortions such as suction and aspiration, dilation and curettage, saline abortion, and partial birth abortion. Whereas these procedures expose their true murderous nature with the resulting lifeless bodies of butchered or burned babies, Mifegymiso is portrayed as a clean, convenient and easy abortion method, consisting of a two-pill combination ingested by the mother, who then discards her pregnancy at home, concealing her child’s visible humanity under a toilet seat. The first pill, Mifepristone, blocks the flow of progesterone and starves the embryo to death. 24-48 hours later, the second drug, Misoprostol, causes severe muscle contractions in the uterus, relaxation of the cervix, and shedding of the endometrium. Along with much blood and other tissue, the baby is flushed down the toilet, often denied even the dignity of being gazed upon by human eyes. What the mother might see, had she the courage to look, would be her baby’s tiny body in the pregnancy sac, with visible fingers and toes that can be counted at Mifegymiso’s current off-label legal gestational limit of ten weeks.

It’s no less heinous than any other form of abortion of course, but the brutality is more easily ignored, and this is encouraged by the media, who distort the truth, omitting several important facts about Mifegymiso. Leaving aside the obvious—that abortion is the killing of an innocent human being—the first thing everyone should know, but what most women will not be told, is that after the first pill, Mifepristone, has been taken it is possible to reverse the effects and save the baby’s life should the mother intake progesterone. Second, Mifegymiso can have serious side effects, which include nausea, vomiting, cramping, fever, dizziness, hemorrhaging, loss of consciousness, salpingitis, arrhythmia, bronchospasm, infection, septic shock, future infertility, future ectopic pregnancies, and even death due to infection, blood loss, or future ectopic pregnancy. Third, the media’s claim that the pills cost between $300 and $550 ignores the cost of the initial pregnancy assessment and counselling with a physical exam, infection check, blood test, and ultrasound; any further blood tests; and finally, follow-up appointments, not to mention the on-average 1 in 20 chemical abortions that will fail and thus be followed up with either a second chemical abortion or a surgical abortion. (Overall success rates for Canadian trials of Mifegymiso were between 92.9% and 97.3%). 

The facts are that Mifegymiso is both dangerous to women and expensive, but also that its effects are reversible within a limited window. The media won’t report any of that, however, because chemical abortions are just so convenient. (Also because the concept of “pro-choice” apparently doesn’t extend to a woman’s choice to change her mind.)

RU-486 was invented in 1980, since which time its use has become widespread across Europe. This can give us a glimpse of the future of abortion in Canada, where, as recently reported by the National Post, Mifegymiso has already been prescribed more than 13,000 times. According to a public report by the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care, in Scotland in 1992, one year after RU-486 was introduced, 16.4% of all abortions were chemical. By 2016 that figure had risen to 83%. The numbers are even more startling in Scandinavia. In Norway, 87% of all abortions are chemical abortions; in Sweden, 92%; in Finland, 96%. This is what we have to look forward to in Canada: a future where nearly all abortions take place at home, discreetly, with a couple of pills. 

Pro-life goals in light of chemical abortions

But it’s worth considering how an analysis such as this can hinder as well as help the pro-life cause. Focusing on the side effects and the public cost is ultimately beside the main point. The reduction of both ought no less to be in the interests of the pro-abortion movement; these should be areas of common ground between us and pro-abortion organizations that are ostensibly committed to women’s health and value to the taxpayer. It’s possible that, by highlighting these issues, I could be furthering the pro-abortion cause. If, in five years, the next version of RU-486 is a fraction of the current cost and has no side effects, will these arguments against the drug have helped to save any preborn lives?

This brings me to two long-standing divisions within the pro-life movement. The efficacy (to say nothing of the morality) of gestational laws and graphic images is hotly debated, and although the two disputes don’t directly map onto each other, they do cut across one another. On the one hand, gestational laws and graphic images might help to save lives in certain circumstances, but on the other, they may also play into the abortion industry’s hands simply because the sophisticated pro-abort probably doesn’t like late-term abortions or bloody fetuses either. The introduction of Mifegymiso puts an abrupt end to this whole argument and the nays, as they say, have it. But this point may require further unpacking.

Many pro-life campaigns use graphic images of dead babies, post-abortion, to show the grisly, gory reality of surgical abortion. It’s an obvious and bold tactic. Abortion is sickening, bloody and shocking. Surely, by exposing this in public it will change minds. Indeed it does. But that’s not all it does. The pro-abortion movement, conceivably, also might be opposed to the gore. It is not impossible that there are some pro-abortion activists who may find surgical abortion methods unpalatable and see such images as motivation to “clean up” the procedures. Supposing Canada responded by doing away with the gruesome surgical abortion methods and then introduced what abortion activists would bill as a clean, bloodless procedure that left no dead baby’s body behind—a  method that somehow vaporized or disintegrated the child, painlessly and quickly? With Mifegymiso, we aren’t far away from this reality, in which gruesome images are far less powerful because abortion is no longer visibly gruesome. And the abortion activists would say, problem solved. 

In the short term, if graphic images have helped a woman to rethink her decision and choose to carry her child to term, they have done an unquantifiable good. But in the long run, such images may also provoke abortion activists to clean up the business of killing preborn babies so as to take away the firepower of this useful pro-life tool. 

Gestational laws – a trap

Canada’s lack of a law on abortion is staggering and leaves our nation with fewer legal restrictions on abortion than any other developed country in the world. The obvious response is that we need a gestational law of some kind. But supposing we got one? What if the government merely legislated what is already common practice and introduced a law that makes abortions legal until 24 weeks? Assuming Canada takes its lead from Scandinavia, and Mifegymiso becomes the abortion method of choice for over 90% of abortions, will a gestational law make any difference at all? 

Consider the situation in Denmark. Denmark’s abortion law is quite restrictive, relative to other Western countries. Abortions are legal only up to twelve weeks; however, this is not an example of some mysterious social conservatism, since Denmark is certainly one of the most leftist countries in the world. (It was, for example, the first to allow same-sex "marriage," and the first to legalize pornography.) And where Denmark goes Canada tends to follow not far behind. I believe that such an early gestational law is, in fact, the situation Canada would eventually reach, even if we all were to abandon the pro-life agenda entirely right now. It’s tempting to think that a twelve-week limit would be so much better than no law at all, that it would be a sort of stepping stone, that the logical sequence of events will inevitably have to go from no restrictions to some restrictions before a full ban can be even contemplated. But this is a fallacious argument, as Mifegymiso proves. For as we attempt to reduce legal limits, the abortion industry is simultaneously working to provide abortions earlier. These two efforts prove to go hand in hand.

Reducing the legal gestation limit for abortion doesn’t protect any preborn children at all. Think about that for a moment. The only hope is that some lucky fetuses might slip through the cracks by becoming too old to be aborted; a gestational law still targets all preborn children because all babies pass through the same stages of gestation. It merely narrows the scope to target them when they’re young enough so that it’s easier not to think of them as human beings. The Nazis dehumanized the Jews in order to make it easier to kill them. A gestational law does the same. A preborn child old enough to kick and to resemble a newborn baby has the advantage of eliciting an emotional reaction, hence why ultrasounds have been so effective in counseling women to choose life. A younger baby doesn’t have this advantage. A first-trimester fetus is tiny. It doesn’t look as “human”. It doesn’t feel pain. The abortion that kills it appears less violent. It is, therefore, more vulnerable than an older preborn child. But hasn’t this always been the challenge for the pro-life movement? That it’s more difficult to defend preborn babies than born babies because their human appearance is less obvious? The same applies at each stage of gestation. The younger the fetus, the easier it is to deny its humanity. And some in the pro-life movement are in danger of unwittingly contributing to this trend, which, in the long run, will lead to little progress and possibly much damage.

Sure, Danish law requires women to make the decision at an earlier stage, as does Mifegymiso, but with enough propaganda and encouragement, that won’t prevent many women in such an affluent and educated country from carrying out their decision to have their child killed, especially if it involves nothing more than a couple of pills. (A further effect is that many women rush into the decision to have the abortion, only to regret it later.) And once the law has entrenched itself, and passed itself off as an acceptable and civilized alternative to the laws of other countries, what chance is there of ever reforming it? 

If, in our zeal to restrict abortion access, we are able to arrive at the same kind of law that Denmark has, we will have done a great disservice to the preborn, in strengthening the legal status quo by bestowing upon it a perceived but false level of modesty and reasonableness. If the pro-abortion movement were to start pushing for a twelve week limit, we might think they’d taken leave of their senses, and begin celebrating such a remarkable development, but the ultimate result would be a law that appears so eminently reasonable, and which would carry such widespread support, that it would be all but impossible to change. We would have replaced an unacceptable situation where all preborn babies are under threat, with an equally unacceptable situation where only younger preborn babies are under threat (and therefore, still all babies until they grow old enough), which merely marginalizes them further and moves the issue further from people’s minds. Our new law would then, effectively, be targeting only the most helpless, minimizing the emotional tug on many of those who might come to their defense. It is a fact that of those countries with gestational laws, almost none have budged from their original parameters; there is very little evidence to support the claim that a gestational law can lead to greater protection of preborn life. A gestational law prunes the weed of abortion while nourishing its roots. It’s not a stepping stone. It's a trap. 

Pro-life tools becoming obsolete

But my chief point here is that Mifegymiso makes this whole argument a waste of our time. Already in Canada, over 90% of abortions take place within the first trimester. In Finland, 96% of all abortions (not including the abortions from contraceptive use) not only take place within the first trimester, but are performed with RU-486. When Mifegymiso takes off, there won’t be any need for a legal gestational limit because unwanted preborn babies won’t survive to the age of protection. And there won’t be a need for the most graphic of images because abortion will be carried out with chemicals and household plumbing instead of knives and forceps.

The remaining 10% of Canadian abortions that occur after the first-trimester likely consist mostly of terminations of once-wanted children due to later-revealed health conditions, and of abortions for women who may not have had ready access to abortion in their first trimester. Mifegymiso will solve the problem of access and, even if passed, any potential gestational legislation in Canada would almost certainly grant exceptions for fetal abnormalities and disabilities, as is the case in other states with gestational laws, ensuring the continued legality of these abortions. Even in Denmark, late-term abortions are legal in cases of low income, rape or incest, expected birth defects, and physical or mental health risks to the mother, essentially covering nearly all reasons for late-term abortions. 

Let's remember that the situation that’s existed in Canada for thirty years is the result of political cowardice surrounding a hot-button issue as much as anything else. Denmark’s situation is the result of an actualized and considered anti-life ideology. Abortion isn’t a hot-button issue there. It’s no wonder that such a liberal country has greater restrictions on abortion. They know what they’re doing. If Canada were fully to embrace that ideology, we’d certainly have a law. The fact that we don’t indicates that we’re not that far gone. With no law, those of us in the pro-life movement have more weapons at our disposal to make a rational as well as an emotional case to the reasonable citizens of this country. These weapons have included showing that certain abortion methods are harmful to women, that abortion is gruesome and bloody, that an absence of legal protection for the preborn is a national travesty. I’m not arguing that these facts are unimportant. Insofar as they are truths, they ought to be exposed. But we must not forget that they're peripheral to a more important truth, and only useful insofar as they support that truth. With Mifegymiso, however, all these tools are fast becoming obsolete. 

Campaigning for an end to messy abortions will result in a no less barbaric practice and campaigning for women's health and safety will result in a practice that merely hurts women in a subtler way, perhaps only psychologically. Campaigning for a gestational law will result in an accompanying erroneous moral defensibility. In all cases, the slaughter of the innocents continues. Mifegymiso is a much more formidable enemy than abortion methods of the past and whatever comes next will be even more so. We don’t have the luxury to deviate from our core purpose in order to make short-term gains. But perhaps arguing solely for a complete abortion ban remains too grand an objective and some kind of incremental strategy is needed. If gestational laws are irrelevant and graphic images no longer efficacious, what smaller, more achievable goals are there that don’t play into the abortion industry’s hands? No doubt those in the pro-life movement in Canada have many ideas of where to direct our efforts. Here I will suggest two.

Incremental strategies

First, defund all abortions. The Canadian health care system is increasingly expensive and public money must be directed towards necessary health care. Canadian taxpayers ought not to be funding elective procedures at all, especially those that constitute destruction of human life. Even believers in the right to abortion don’t necessarily believe that abortion should be publicly funded. Second, protect the conscience rights of doctors, nurses, and pharmacists who refuse to perform, prescribe or sell abortions and who won’t refer patients to abortion providers. Is it unrealistic to set as a goal the establishment of a chain of pro-life pharmacies or a public database of pro-life doctors across the country once these conscience rights have been secured and are respected? 

These are achievable, reasonable, though by no means easy, goals, which can be pursued alongside political advocacy and public education. There are many others. There is nothing (adequate funding and inter-organizational drama notwithstanding) stopping all Canadian pro-life organizations from collaborating in order to accomplish them, building public support and persuading courageous politicians to take them on as policy objectives.

But whatever strategies in defense of the preborn are conceived, let them take shape with a recognition of the new predicament facing the preborn in Canada: a chemical holocaust administered from a prescription pad and a final resting place in a mess of blood and excrement – better known as Mifegymiso, “the World Health Organization’s gold standard of medical abortion.”

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

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 2016. Shutterstock.com
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Why liberal elites are brutally axing words like ‘humanity,’ ‘mankind,’ and ‘women’

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By Jonathon van Maren

January 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Justin Trudeau’s condescending correction of a young woman who made the mistake of using the word “mankind” last year — “We like to say peoplekind, not necessarily mankind” — induced a global gale of laughter that transformed the suave anti-populist into a politically correct joke. Considering a few recent headlines, however, it appears that Justin’s insufferable linguistic smugness might become a trendy thing for the elites.

The European Union has joined Trudeau’s noble crusade against the word “mankind,” and has tossed in the word “manpower” to boot. Gender-neutral terms such as “humanity” and “staff,” a new guidebook explains helpfully to MEPs and parliamentary officials, are “more than a matter of political correctness. Language powerfully reflects and influences attitudes, behavior and perceptions.” 

To that end, the guidebook politely asks that people also refrain from the “generic use of man” as well as terms like “statesmen,” which can be exchanged for “political leaders.” Words like “man-made” should be replaced with “synthetic,” and “businessperson” should be used over “businessman.” These new patriarchy-smashing rules, the guidebook assures everyone, are not “binding,” but acquiescence is encouraged. (The elites have a way of making “encouragement” sound downright sinister.) The new rules will be followed in official legislation, interpretation, and communications.

In the United Kingdom, activists at a handful of British universities have decided that “womxn” is now a term that everyone should use, irrespective of the fact that nobody knows how to pronounce it. The King’s College womxn society, says one website, was created to respond to “the issue of underrepresentation of women and non-binary people in the physics department at King’s College in London.” Presumably, they meant “womxn.” It may take awhile for this thing to catch on (after all, you may remember, “womyn” spread through society like wildfire.)

Of course, the lightning rise of the transgender ideology has created a war on language that is nearly unprecedented, with some feminists being told to shut up after they complained about the term “bleeders,” which is used to refer to those who have periods, since men, too, can apparently experience menstruation. The Guardian even referred to working women in one survey as “menstruators,” causing one angry feminist to note that “woman” was rapidly turning into “a kind of swear word.” Transgenderism, it turns out, has allowed men to colonize womanhood in a fashion that would have been unthinkable of a few decades ago.

The gender wars have once noble nations stooping into the absurd. Christmas, for example, triggered a debate about whether there should be a “non-binary” Santa, with nobody thinking to ask what that would even look like or why anyone should care. The Scottish Parliament ensured that their coffee shop replaced gingerbread men with “gingerbread persons” to ensure that the strong, empowered women of Scotland would not be triggered by a cookie. (This is not particularly surprising for a government that used its Twitter banner photo to announce support for transgenderism.) Normal people, of course, enjoyed the Christmas season by ignoring all such nonsense entirely.

It is important to note that none of these changes are taking place organically. This is not a case of slang or cultural phenomenon working its way into everyday speech, and eventually becoming accepted by all as helpful tools for communication. This is a top-down imposition of words most people cannot even define properly, many people have not even heard of, and, in the case of transgender pronouns, cannot even pronounce. This is an attempt by the elites to forcibly change the way we communicate with one another in order to make reality reflect their delusional ideology.

Normal people with common-sense should reject this cant out of hand. 

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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops meets in Baltimore on November 12, 2018 to discuss the ongoing sexual abuse crisis in the Church. Lisa Bourne / LifeSiteNews
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For today’s Catholic prelates, there is nowhere to hide

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By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

January 2, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — For a long time, the pope and the bishops were seen as “men apart,” occupying a lofty sphere that no layman could dare enter, with a special standing that blocked all criticism. This attitude has a reasonable foundation: We are dealing here with the successors of the apostles, with those who represent Christ the Good Shepherd on earth, teaching, ruling, and sanctifying in His name and by His authority.

However, it is an attitude that has its limits, too, when we remember that we are dealing not with Christ Himself, nor with the irreplaceable Apostles who sit on the 12 thrones, but with fallen men who can either live up to their high calling or fail badly in it.

In past ages, sinful prelates often lived “high off the hog” at the expense of the laity, and there was little enough that could be done to expose them, influence them, or shame them. In like manner, holy and courageous prelates might be praised locally, and perhaps their reputation would eventually spread (especially after their death, when a cultus would begin for the holiest of them all), but again, there was a practical limit on the reach of their good influence.

Today, however, the situation has changed dramatically, thanks to the media. It is no longer possible for a bishop to do good quietly or to do evil quietly. Already this was true in the age of newspapers and magazines, but the internet has exponentially intensified the bright spotlight shining on the public actions and statements of any bishop. He cannot hide. He must make a choice: be boldly good; be boldly evil; or look indifferent, disengaged, cowardly.

As many downsides as it undoubtedly has, the internet has become, in a sort of clumsy way, a winnowing fork and a threshing floor (cf. Mt 3:12). True, the laity still do not have, and will never have, any direct authority in regard to the hierarchy. But moral authority they do have, wielding the weapons of exposure, protest, and withdrawal of support. By continually calling on their shepherds to give good example, to remain faithful to the teaching of Christ and His Church (not the latest fashionable modernized doctrine from the Vatican), to deal promptly with evils, to acknowledge and repent of evils, and to promote “all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy” (cf. Phil 4:8).

The internet has made it common knowledge that (as a friend put it to me) billions of dollars in damages have been paid out for the crimes of certain sick members of the clergy. Was this the purpose for which you earmarked your diocesan contributions? What about your forefathers, who toiled for their bread, saved it up, and gave it generously to their local church for the love of God? Did they want it to be used for the building of beautiful churches and the upkeep of worthy clergy, or did they think that lawyers’ fees, professional PR agents, payoffs, and huge court settlements for victims were just as good a purpose?

As Fr. John Zuhlsdorf succinctly stated: “It is time to cut off all funds and channel them only to trustworthy traditional causes.” Today’s informed laity should not give a red cent to anything run by, sponsored by, or recommended by any diocese or the USCCB as a whole until bishops start acting like St. Ambrose, St. Athanasius, and St. John Fisher, instead of hacks for the Democratic Party.

At present, sadly, this outcome does not seem too likely. In November, the U.S. bishops made themselves a spectacle by birthing, on center stage before the eyes of the world, a particularly noxious fruit of hyper-papalism: the spineless abandonment of genuine episcopal responsibility. “In the prophets of Jerusalem also I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies; and they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them become unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah” (Jer 23:14).

As the pope and bishops dither and show their utter incapacity (or even unwillingness) to deal with the crisis they themselves have caused, and as the approaching February meeting promises to be “more of the same,” the voice of the faithful continues to rise up, like the rolling of thunder as the storm draws nearer. The hammer blows of lawsuits, investigations, document raids, and criminal sentences will fall more and more relentlessly on the shoulders of the perpetrators, collaborators, and connivers.

Meanwhile, true heroes of the Faith, like Bishop Joseph Strickland, will rise up and be distinguished for their counterwitness. May the Lord send us many more in our hour of need.

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