All articles from January 10, 2019

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Philip Zodhiates Christian News Service
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Supreme Court won’t intervene in case of Christian jailed for helping child flee lesbian ‘mother’

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By Calvin Freiburger

January 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Supreme Court has rejected a request for a stay of sentence in 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 three-year 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 this October, so his attorneys asked the United States 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 on January 4.

LifeSiteNews gathered more than 12,000 signatures urging the court to grant the request last week, with a petition arguing that “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,” and that “doing so while in prison is an undue burden.”

“The application for stay addressed to Justice Gorsuch and referred to the Court is denied,” the court said simply in a list of orders released on Monday. It did not identify how the justices voted or elaborate on their reasoning.

Zodhiates has argued 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 Jenkins 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 Vermont 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).

The case is not over; Zodhiates still has an appeal of the conviction itself to look forward to, but he will have to remain in a low-security male prison while working on it. In the meantime, Zodhiates cites James 1:2 in embracing his ordeal for Christ.

“So prison has been expected all along. But that’s okay. 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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Delegate Caleb Hanna speaks with a young boy Caleb Hanna / Twitter
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Youngest black legislator in US is pro-life and pro-God

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By Calvin Freiburger

WEST VIRGINIA, January 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Among the new lawmakers beginning their political careers this month is Caleb Hanna, who is making history as the nation’s youngest black legislator, as well as a young man who says faith and the right to life are central to his worldview.

While still an 18-year-old high school senior, Hanna launched a bid for the Republican nomination to represent West Virginia’s 44th district in the House of Delegates, declaring himself “proudly a Christian conservative.” He defeated Elijah Karnes in the GOP primary with 72.9 percent of the vote, and went on to oust incumbent Democrat Del. Dana Lynch with 60.3 percent of the vote.

“I support the WV Pro-Life movement” and “will be a passionate, effective, and conservative fighter for limited government, economic growth, and the Constitution,” he promised in his introductory statement. On his campaign website, he also identifies as an opponent of Common Core.

During the campaign Hanna received the primary endorsement of West Virginians for Life, which hailed his “commitment to the pro-life cause, especially to the unborn, the elderly and those with disabilities,” as well an endorsement by the Family Policy Council of West Virginia.

In a profile by the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Hanna explains that he was first inspired to consider a political career as a third-grader watching another charismatic and relatively youthful black man, Barack Obama, rise to the presidency. “I thought, ‘I can do that,’” he recalls, but notes he was also influenced by the impact of Obama’s policies on his own family. “My dad got laid off in the mines.”

Another major influence is his faith; Hanna is a member of Little Laurel Baptist Church and was active in Richwood High School’s Christian group YoungLife.

“God, guns, and babies, that pretty much sums up my political philosophy,” he says. Hanna added that the national Democrat Party is incompatible with his values on the right to life and other issues.

West Virginia pro-lifers won another significant victory last November when voters approved a ballot initiative clarifying that the state Constitution contains no “right” to abortion.

Another challenge facing Hanna will be to balance public service with higher education. Hanna is pursuing an economics degree from West Virginia State University, and hopes to go on to law school from there. He told the Gazette-Mail he’s currently working with his university adviser to arrange his classes around legislative sessions.

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Parents beware: Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria a social contagion among girls

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

January 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A new social contagion, called Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, is making families miserable as previously contented girls attempt to become boys through hormones and surgery.

On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article by journalist Abigail Shrier detailing the challenges of parents whose high-achieving teenage or college-age daughters – girls who had never before shown gender confusion – suddenly decided to take on new male personae via new names, men’s clothing, testosterone, facial surgery, and double mastectomies.

For her article, entitled “When Your Daughter Defies Biology,” Shrier interviewed 18 parents, 14 of them mothers, who were aghast at their daughters’ plans, but found few allies in their attempts to stop their beloved girls from choosing male hormones and mutilation.

Brown University social-health researcher Lisa Littman dubbed the recent phenomenon of young women seeking sex-reassignment out of the blue as “rapid onset gender dysphoria” or ROGD. Like suicide, cutting, and bulimia, ROGD is a social contagion, albeit one that primarily affects girls. Unfortunately, ROGD – “and not necessarily its sufferers – gets full support from the medical community,” Shrier wrote.

“The standard for dealing with teens who assert they are transgender is ‘affirmative care’ – immediately granting the patient’s stated identity,” she continued.

One of the purveyors of testosterone to these teenage girls is Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion chain.

“Planned Parenthood furnished testosterone to young women on an ‘informed consent’ basis,” Shrier reported, “without requiring any psychological evaluation.”

Health plans for 86 American universities, including those of the Ivy League, cover not only male hormones but the surgeries involved in making girls appear male.

The weight of support for subjecting healthy young women to experimental medical procedures that will render them infertile and may permanently damage them in other ways is crushing for parents who want to save their daughters.

Schrier wrote:

“Nearly every force in society is aligned against these parents: Churches scramble to rewrite their liturgies for greater ‘inclusiveness.’ Therapists and psychiatrists undermine parental authority with immediate affirmation of teens’ self-diagnoses. Campus counselors happily refer students to clinics that dispense hormones on the first visit. Laws against ‘conversion therapy,’ which purports to cure homosexuality, are on the books in 14 states and the District of Columbia. These statutes also prohibit ‘efforts to change a patient’s . . . gender identity,’ in the words of the New Jersey law—effectively threatening counselors who might otherwise dissuade teens from proceeding with hormone treatment or surgery.”

Some girls use emotional blackmail to force their parents to submit to their wants, threatening to cut off all contact with them.

A key influencer is social media and the internet, where young women who have undergone the “transition” assure their fans that they have found new confidence and happiness. Schrier listed Reddit, Tumbler, Instagram, and YouTube as places where young women who think “becoming” young men is the solution to their problems can find “an endless supply of mentors.” These social media stars don’t mention the side effects, but they do tell their fans how they can break away from their own “unsupportive” parents.

‘Don’t think for a second it can’t happen to you’

On Monday, author and American Conservative columnist Rod Dreher addressed the ROGD phenomenon in an article called “ROGD Hell.”

“Don’t think for a second it can’t happen to you,” Dreher warned and pointed out that those influencing girls were “not just random teens on YouTube.”  

“Last year, a pastor here in Baton Rouge told me one of his congregants, a mother, came to him saying that when her 7th grade daughter started claiming to be a boy, the mom went to the middle school guidance counselor to seek more information about what was going on in the daughter’s social group,” he continued.

“The guidance counselor told the mom that her best course of action was to ‘accept your son as he is.’”

Parents of other young women who have suddenly decided they are, or want to be, men responded in Dreher’s comments’ box to express their suffering.

“Mrs DK” wrote: “My 20-year-old has been on testosterone for a year and has made an appointment for a consult for a double mastectomy. She is paying for the consult and is aware that she will have to fund all co-pays related to transition. Apparently some college girls are able to get loans to do this. I plan to go along on the consult and would be interested in any thoughts from your commenters. It is impossible to express my level of anguish about this.”

Another commentator underscored that it is not just the “progressive,” same-sex “marriage” supporting parents featured in the WSJ whose daughters are demanding sex-reassignment.

“My kid went to a parochial grade school and a Catholic high school and we went to church regularly … there were nighttime prayers, Bible stories, Narnia books. You know?” he wrote.

“And yet — for the past nearly 5 years, starting at age 15, my girl has been thinking it’d be a lot better to be a boy. We have managed to keep her from physical transition (other than, unfortunately, she binds), and she still is socially female as well (barely). Nevertheless, we are still in gender limbo and it could go either way.”

The parent asked for prayers and for readers not to assume that ROGD is caused by progressive parents or bad parenting skills.

“...If your family’s not affected by this, be grateful to your God and don’t pat yourself on the back too hard,” he said.  

“You can’t imagine what it’s like to have the entire educational/med/psych/media world fighting against your parental values and common sense.”

A (rare) support network for families who find themselves struggling with ROGD can be found here at the 4th Wave Now blog

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Ford contractor claims he was fired for dissenting comment on company’s trans embrace

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By Calvin Freiburger

January 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A man who worked as a contractor at a Ford Motor Company plant in Michigan claims he was fired last fall solely for a respectful comment challenging transgender ideology on a social media post celebrating another employee’s “gender transition.”

In October, Michigan pro-LGBT media outlet PrideSource published a profile on Lynn Keiser, a homosexual male research engineer at Ford attesting to the company’s wholehearted support for his “transition” to female.

“While looking at Ford I was thinking about whether I could transition, and I found they scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index,” Keiser said, going on to explain how his supervisor “didn’t bat an eye” and his human resources manager was “equally supportive.”

This week, another man who worked as a contractor at Ford’s Automatic Transmission Operations building in Livonia, Michigan, told PJ Media that he lost his job as a direct result of commenting on an internal company post celebrating Keiser. "Human beings are male or female, the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one’s sex as male or female,” wrote the man, who wishes to remain anonymous at this time.

He says he had hoped to spark a conversation among the almost-uniformly favorable responses to the story, but the company instead “saw my comment as intolerant and at odds with its progressive ideologies.”

"Ford said that because of my comment and the intolerance that it represented (or so they accused me of) that my services to them would cease immediately,” the man claims. “I was told this in an unscheduled 1 on 1 meeting with my boss and an HR representative. I was told to pack up my belongings immediately, to leave my badge and computer, then I was walked out of the building like a criminal."

He admits "in hindsight it is easy to say it was unwise” to publicly dissent from the prevailing dogma on the subject, but “I had no way of knowing this would be the outcome beforehand (...) If Ford does have a policy on such issues, I am not aware, nor was I made aware during my time there.” He added that he "was not given a warning of any sort."

In response, Ford spokeswoman Karen Hampton told PJ Media that the ex-worker in question "was not an employee of Ford Motor Company and it would be inappropriate for us to comment," beyond a claim that, generally, “employees are not fired solely as a result of comments made."

The man explained that he was technically paid by The Productivity Team (TPT), but he was fully integrated into Ford’s employee systems. He had a Ford employee ID number, access to the automaker’s intranet, answered directly to a Ford employee, and, most important, was fired by Ford, not TPT.

TPT also rejected PJ Media’s requests for comment, saying only it did not speak publicly about current or former employees. Neither company answered whether they specifically welcomed employees who disagree with transgenderism.

“I strongly feel that I've been persecuted for my moral values on this issue,” the former employee lamented, arguing that his original post was also an act of compassion for gender-confused colleagues. "The greatest kindness one can render to any man is leading him to truth,” he said, quoting St. Augustine.

“You’ll find diversity at every level of the company, from the boardroom to the design studio, from the plant floors to the engineering centers,” the auto manufacturer’s “Diversity and Inclusion” page boasts. “Ford’s senior executive leadership team fully endorses this model and takes great pride in celebrating our workforce that reflects the society in which we live and work.”

In 2015, another Michigan-based former Ford contractor named Thomas Banks told LifeSiteNews he was fired for criticizing the company’s embrace of same-sex “marriage,” despite making the comments in response to a Ford request for feedback on the issue.

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The vandalized sign Pastor Justin Hoke / Facebook
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Church sign declaring ‘Bruce Jenner is still a man’ vandalized following LGBT protests

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

WEED, California, January 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – After an American pastor refused to bow to pro-LGBT protesters’ demands that he change his church message board, he found the sign in ruins.

Pastor Justin Hoke of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church in Weed, Siskiyou County, California angered some folks when he put up a message on the marquee outside his church last week reading “Bruce Jenner is still a man. Homosexuality is still a sin. The culture may change. The Bible does not.”

Although he normally changes his sign from week to week, Hoke said he would not take down his message until the protests cease. However, the protestors declared that they would keep up their pickets until the sign comes down.  

Someone has saved them the effort, however. This morning Hoke found that his message board had been broken into and some of the letters of his sign missing or strewn on the ground.

“I woke this morning to find that our sign had been vandalized,” he informed friends over Facebook.

“They broke not only the plexiglas and stole some of the letters, they also busted the power box. I have not seen it up close yet as this picture was sent to me by a member of our congregation. Please pray that God would provide.”

Subsequently posting photos of the vandalism, Hoke wrote, “Here is the damage. As wickedness increases the fear of God decrees.”

According to NBC5, that message did not sit well with local woman Tawnya Mobbley, who described it as “hateful.”

“I should be able to love my partner, to hold her, to hold her hand wherever I want to go and shouldn’t have people being hateful,” she said. “I don’t think that my kid should feel having two mothers is a bad thing.”

There is no Biblical injunction against non-sexual touching by friends of the same sex, but sexual activity between two members of the same sex is forbidden by the Bible, as is sexual intercourse between an unmarried opposite sex couple. Marriage is recognized as a union between only men and women; in the New Testament, marriage is upheld as the lifelong union of one man and one woman.

Mobbley and her mother Jeanette had joined a small protest staged by Charolette (sic) Kalayjian, Amelia Mallory and Mishelle (sic) Le Guellec on Sunday, January 6 in response to the sign. The three organizers all have children, and Kalayjian said she didn’t want children to see it.

“If that sign can make me sad,” Kalayjian told the Siskiyou Daily, “imagine what it could do to a child.”

She told NBC5 that Hoke should keep his message indoors.

“Keep it in your church. If it’s not something hopeful for the community, if it’s not loving, keep it in your church. Keep it in your house. Keep it – don’t share it with everybody.”

Pastor Hoke disagreed that his sign was hateful and said it merely expressed Biblical teachings. He told LifeSiteNews via email that his community believes they must witness to God’s word.

“We at Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church believe that part of our mission is to testify to God's Word,” he wrote. “Jesus said in His great commission to the church, ‘go into all the world and make disciples teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.’”

“I have never mentioned Mr. Jenner in a sermon but I do regularly preach concerning the selfless love Christians must have in a world which no longer tolerates truth,” Hoke continued.

“We are to warn all men of God's coming wrath simply because we know that His wrath is coming upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. We have a moral obligation to warn all men to repentant.”

In his Sunday sermon, Hoke preached on Ezekiel 33: 1-9 under the title “Love Warns.” He decried the American court decision to redefine marriage and took issue with the LGBT slogan “Love Wins.”

“What the world calls love is not love at all,” he told his congregation.

“Rather it is extreme mutually agreed upon selfishness which knows nothing of sacrifice, nothing of servanthood, nothing at all of seeking another’s highest good.”

Hoke told NBC5 that Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church doesn’t hate anyone and is “standing by its belief in the word of God and the Bible.”

“People are getting upset because we’re say this is wrong,” he observed. “It’s always been wrong. It still is wrong according to our God.”

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Vatican theologian: Pope contradicts his ‘mercy’ saying it’s better to be ‘atheist’ than hypocrite

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By Diane Montagna

ROME, January 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A prominent theologian has challenged Pope Francis’s recent off-the-cuff remarks implying it’s better to be an atheist than a Christian who hates, saying the Pope sometimes “slips into a contradictory vision” and “schizophrenia that clashes with the very idea of mercy” he seeks to promote.

In a Jan. 4 interview with the Italian daily Quotidiano di Foggia, Monsignor Nicola Bux, a theologian consultor to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said “certain statements, if they fall on weak or unaware groups, are dangerous and have detrimental effects.” With such remarks, he said, “we risk emptying the churches even more.”

Msgr. Bux’s comments came two days after Pope Francis said at his first Wednesday general audience of 2019 that it is better to be an atheist that go to Church while hating and speaking ill of others. 

In his Jan. 2 catechesis to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said: 

There are people who are able to compose atheistic prayers, without God, and they do so in order to be admired by people. And how often we see the scandal of those people who go to church and are there all day long, or go every day, and then live by hating others or speaking ill of people. This is a scandal! It is better not to go to church: living this way, as if they were atheists. But if you go to church, live as a child, as a brother or sister, and bear true witness, not a counter-witness. Christian prayer, however, has no other credible witness than one’s own conscience, where one weaves a most intense dialogue with the Father: “when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret” (6:6).

In his Jan. 4 interview, Monsignor Bux said he believes “certain” off-the-cuff comments from the Pope (such as those above) come from a “discomfort he nurtures toward the Church.”

Pope Francis “prefers a vision of the Church as an indistinct people” over [this vision] understood in its true sense,” he said. “He doesn’t realize, however, that he slips into a contradictory and peronist vision, a schizophrenia that clashes with the very idea of mercy so widespread and followed.”

“If I say that those who hate — and therefore are effectively in a state of sin — are right to stay outside the Church, and at the same time I affirm that we need to let the divorced and civilly remarried enter — who equally are sinners — by giving them communion, something that is impossible, I fall into contradiction,” Bux explained. 

“Both parties, in fact, are in sin. So why be strict with those who hate and merciful with the divorced and remarried?,” he added. 

This is not the first time Msgr. Bux has spoken out against statements of the current pontificate.

In a forceful with Aldo Maria Valli in Nov. 2018, Bux warned that the current pontificate is issuing statements that are generating “heresies, schisms, and controversies of various kinds” and that the Holy Father should issue a profession of faith to restore unity in the Church.

In the Nov. interview, Bux also described the Pope’s vision of the Church as a federation of ecclesial communities — saying it is “a bit like the Protestant communities.”The former consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Benedict XVIalso took issue specifically with recent confusion over whether to admit divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to Holy Communion, and the Pope’s decision last August to change the Catechism on the death penalty. 

In his more recent interview, Msgr. Bux also takes issue with Pope Francis’s repeated claim that the Gospel is “revolutionary,” saying the idea is more reminiscent of 1970s Marxism than it is of Holy Writ.

The Pope cannot “propagate his private ideas instead of those belonging to perennial Catholic truth,” Bux said. “He isn’t a private doctor, and it’s not an option to modify at will or offer versions that clash with Catholic doctrine and the deposit of the faith.”

Read a LifeSite translation of the full interview with Msgr. Bux below.


Quotidiano di Foggia (QdF): Don Nicola, is the Gospel “revolutionary” as the Pope has said?

Monsignor Nicola Bux: No. This is a thesis that was going around in the ‘70s, after the publication of several books, and shows traces of the ideas of 1968 and Marxism. It came out to make the figure of Jesus more attractive, but it has no theological foundation.

QdF: Why?

Msgr. Bux: The Gospel itself tells us that Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it, and that alone would be enough. A revolution that is respected does not spare the past or even what already exists (the status quo). Jesus, on the contrary, is the One who recapitulates, according to the beautiful expression of St. Paul, he “unites all things in himself (Eph. 1:10). It is true that in the Book of Revelation it is written that he makes all things new, but that verse must be understood as a bringing to completion.

QdF: Is it better to be atheists than Christians who hate?

Msgr. Bux: I believe the problem comes when the Pope moves away from the written text they prepare for him and raises his eyes to the audience. My sense is that certain statements, in addition to providing a certain self-satisfaction, arise from a discomfort he nurtures toward the Church. Pope Francis prefers a vision of the Church as an indistinct people, over [this vision] understood in its true sense. He doesn’t realize, however, that he slips into a contradictory and peronist vision, a schizophrenia that clashes with the very idea of mercy so widespread and followed.”

QdF: Why?

Msgr. Bux: If I say that those who hate — and therefore are effectively in a state of sin — are right to stay outside the Church, and at the same time I affirm that we need to let the divorced and civilly remarried enter — who equally are sinners — by giving them communion, something that is impossible, I fall into contradiction. Both parties, in fact, are in sin. So why be strict with those who hate and merciful with the divorced and remarried? 

Let’s return to the theme of Peronism. What happens is that, paradoxically, one wants to let those who are outside in, but then those who are inside leave. Certain statements, if they fall on weak or unaware groups, are dangerous and have deleterious effects. We risk emptying the churches even more.

QdF: And so?

Msgr. Bux: It’s an underlying issue. Can the Pope propagate his private ideas instead of those belonging to perennial Catholic truth? No. He isn’t a private doctor, and it’s not an option to modify at will or to give versions that clash with Catholic doctrine and the deposit of the faith, which is not a museum, and also here there’s more to say.

QdF: Please, go on.

Msgr. Bux: If museums were filled with useless stuff, nobody would visit them, would they? The pastors of the Church must always show fidelity to the sound and perennial doctrine and truth without pollution, but guard them with care.

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Christians should support Tucker Carlson’s pro-family economics. Here’s why

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By Stephen Kokx

January 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Inquisition has begun. Tucker Carlson is guilty of heresy.

His crime? Arguing free markets tend to erode, instead of promote, the overall well being of a country, especially its families.

“Anyone who thinks the health of a nation can be summed up in GDP is an idiot,” the preppy intellectual asserted last week on his television show. “Culture and economics are inseparably intertwined.”

The Pat Buchanan-esque Fox News host has drawn the ire of pretty much every neoconservative thinker the past several days. And for good reason. Carlson has violated the cardinal sin of the modern day Republican Party: questioning the infallibility of the market.

During his impassioned 15-minute monologue, Carlson, clearly motivated by a Christian concern for his neighbors, convincingly argued that middle America has been hollowed out by globalist policies and that the real goal of Republican economics is to “make the world safe for banking.”

Taking aim at Senator Mitt Romney, Carlson pointed out that the failed presidential candidate has spent “the bulk” of his career taking over companies, firing their employees, and extracting their wealth. “Romney became fantastically rich doing this,” he notes.

The establishment freaks out

Predictably, Carlson’s apostasy stirred up a hornets nest of activity among the cult-like conservative commentariat, which, unsurprisingly, accused him of Bernie Sanders-type thinking.

National Review, a magazine that believes taxing soda is the equivalent of socialism, leapt into action as if the republic itself were on the verge of collapse, publishing multiple articles that basically amounted to telling Carlson to shut up and stop acting like a victim. “The market cures all!” the outlet seems to think.

Ben Shapiro, the keynote speaker for the 2019 March for Life, was similarly apoplectic, regurgitating the tired consequentialist trope that more people have been lifted out of poverty thanks to capitalism than any other invention of mankind.

The argument being that workers today make more money than any other time in human history. If they aren’t happy as a result, tough luck. Keep quiet and be grateful. You have air conditioning and a nice truck.

This sort of stale, ideological way of thinking about the economy in the 21st century is about as boring as listening to millennial Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drone on about how only “radicals” can effectuate change.

The fresh perspective Carlson brings to policy discussions in the age of globalization should be most welcomed by pro-family Christians, who should long for an economy built not on rugged self-interest but radical selflessness. Carlson pricks the conscience of those who generally only think in terms of dollars and cents. He shines a light on the very real, often intentionally overlooked, communal damage done by slavish devotion to profit. He seems to understand that markets affect persons and their families (and towns) in totalizing ways, and that economics is not just about individuals pursuing mammon in a cordoned-off sphere of life.

“One of the biggest lies our leaders tell us that you can separate economics from everything else that matters,” Carlson said in his monologue. We are told “economics is a topic for public debate” while “family and faith and culture” are only “personal matters.”

Not so! says Carlson.

“We are not servants of our economic system. We are not here to serve as shareholders. We’re human beings and our concerns are real,” Carlson told the snippy Shapiro during an interview in November. People having to move to “crappy” suburbs and work for equally crappy corporations isn’t something conservatives should be OK with.

A more authentic, Christian conservatism

The rise of Carlson’s star at Fox is reflective of the larger political emergence of what is often incorrectly labeled “the populist movement.” In reality, what Carlson is actually arguing for is a more local, more traditional variant of conservative thinking that regrettably lost out to William F. Buckley’s big business, pro-war, (and possibly CIA-backed) neoconservatism in the 1960s.

Such an approach, sometimes referred to as “paleoconservatism,” views international banking, multinational corporations, and deregulated markets not as benevolent forces showering upon mankind a cornucopia of unreserved benefits, but as intentional creations of the rich and powerful that over the long haul have probably done more harm to Americans and their communities than good.

“There are a lot of ingredients to being happy,” Carlson said, reflecting his multilayered traditionalist philosophy. “Dignity, purpose, self-control, independence — above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children,” not cheap plastic possessions and soul-crushing jobs where “mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation” to the American people rule over them.

This anti-establishment sentiment is what undoubtedly motivated voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to support Donald Trump in 2016. Blue-collar folks living in towns decimated by NAFTA whose most recognizable feature is a rusted water tower are all too painfully aware of the truths coming from Carlson’s mouth. Republicans would be wise to embrace them.

Ultimately, Carlson seems to side with the Catholic Church’s social doctrine, which essentially holds that taking away as many restrictions on man’s economic behavior creates a space where unbridled competition (i.e. the worst effects of original sin) are allowed the most room to grow. Hence, as Pope Leo XIII taught, the state must prudentially intervene in the economy, especially when the family — the basic building block of society — is threatened.

America needs laws, not just citizens, that promote virtue

While some conservatives have made the argument that a sound economy relies on a moral and virtuous citizenry, it seems nonsensical to say that being privately virtuous is the sole solution, primarily because America’s current economic system a) strongly entices us to un-virtuous behavior and b) not only doesn’t take into account family life and the importance of local communities but actively wars against them.

How, in other words, can persons operating in an economic system that undermines the very things that help make men moral remain virtuous? Isn’t the whole point of being virtuous to eventually change public policy so authentic human flourishing can spread and so others, including and especially capitalists, can more easily attain virtue as well? It’s not hard to see many of the tax rates, subsidies, and regulations on the books in the U.S. don’t encourage that. CEOs have souls in need of saving too.

Pro-family Europeans, on the other hand, do seem to understand this. In Italy, for instance, the nationalist party is giving land to large families. In Poland, parents who have more children are awarded tax credits and stores are required to be closed on Sunday. Advocate for such things in the United States and you’ll be accused of being a fascist by the political right. Recall that when Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Mike Lee fought to expand the child tax credit in 2017, not a few neocons threw a temper tantrum.

Carlson not the first to identify the problem

The tidal wave of attacks launched by market fundamentalists against Carlson is a sure sign as any that he and his pro-family, traditional economic views are a threat to Wall Street’s grip on the “free market” narrative pushed by the Republican Party. As it currently stands, neoconservatives are on the ropes. Their imperialist foreign policies were put on the endangered species list the day Donald Trump won the presidency. Now they’re worried their economic ideas may become extinct as well, so they want to make an example out of Carlson.

In many ways, Tucker Carlson, whether he knows it or not, is making arguments similar to those marshaled by Robert F. Kennedy, another original thinker who viewed economics holistically and from a Christian viewpoint.

In 1968 at the University of Kansas, Kennedy delivered a speech wherein he anathematized the idolatrous worship of America’s gross domestic product. Carlson would be wise to discuss it on a future episode, as it reflects how all Christians should view economic life: a mere means to an end, not an end itself.

“Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things,” Kennedy said.

“Our Gross National Product … if we judge the United States of America by that … counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.”

“It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country.”

The GDP, Kennedy concluded, measures everything “except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”

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Phil Lawler

Opinion ,

Pope’s letter to US bishops has Americans scratching their heads

Phil Lawler
By Phil Lawler

January 8, 2019 ( – In November, Pope Francis instructed the Catholic bishops of the US to table their plans for new responses to the sex-abuse scandal. Now, in his letter to the American bishops who were on retreat at Mundelein seminary last week, the Pontiff exhorts them to take action – but not, apparently, the sort of action they had in mind.

To be sure it is no simple matter to discern what action the Pope wants the American bishops to take; his lengthy letter offers them no clear directions. But he writes at length about how they should approach their problems, and in doing so he conveys a strong message about the path he prefers and, more important, the path he wants the American hierarchy to abandon.

First, the Pope tells the American bishops that this is their problem. "In recent years," he writes, "the Church in the United States has been shaken by various scandals that have gravely affected its credibility." [emphasis added] He describes their retreat as "a necessary step toward responding in the spirit of the Gospel to the crisis of credibility that you are experiencing as a Church." [emphasis added] Nowhere does he acknowledge that the scandal has shaken the entire universal Church, and that especially this past year, the most serious questions about credibility have been aimed directly at the Vatican.

Second, the Pope repeatedly exhorts the American hierarchy to preserve unity, to avoid divisions, to act as a fraternal body. His dogged insistence on this message – which occasionally escalates into blunt criticism, as when he urges them to "break the vicious cycle of recrimination, undercutting, and discrediting" – strongly suggests that there has been a great deal of public quarreling among the American bishops. But that is not the case! To a remarkable degree, the American Catholic hierarchy has preserved its public unity, under trying circumstances.

In fact, more than a few American Catholics would argue that the pointed reluctance of bishops to criticize each other has been a gross failing: an important factor contributing to the scandal. Amy Wellborn, arguing that the Pope has sent the wrong message, speaks for many concerned Catholics:

Is the culture of church leadership in desperate need of encouragement to be more gently tolerant of all points of view and less critical of each other? Seems to me it's pretty much the opposite.

Where is the evidence of this disunity, which worries Pope Francis so much? The American bishops have not been criticizing each other; far from it. They have been criticizing the Vatican. They have, in fact, been – gently, respectfully, but insistently – criticizing the Pope himself.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano is not mentioned in the papal letter, but his testimony casts a long shadow across its pages. The Pope and his allies have denounced the former Vatican diplomat as a threat to Church unity, and it is that sort of division that Pope Francis wants the Americans to avoid.

Too late! Dozens of American bishops are already on record, calling for a thorough investigation of Archbishop Vigano's charges. By his adamant silence – which is conspicuously maintained in this letter – Pope Francis has indicated that he will not approve any investigation. So now, he tells the American bishops, they should resolve to move on, maintaining unity, without probing further into potentially painful subjects such as the influence of a corrupt homosexual network within the hierarchy and within the Vatican. That topic, the Pope signals, will remain off limits.

In his letter the Pope also offers the very useful and valid reminder that a solution to this scandal cannot be built solely on procedural foundations. It will require a new attitude toward sexual abuse in particular and Church leadership in general. He rightly cautions the American bishops against "reducing everything to an organizational problem."

Andrea Tornielli, recently hired as editorial director of the Vatican's Secretariat for Communications – and thus as a leading official interpreter of the Pope's messages – focused on the need for "a change in our mind-set" in his own commentary on the Pope's letter. He concluded with a revealing prescription for rebuilding the credibility of the hierarchy:

Credibility is not rebuilt with marketing strategies. It must be the fruit of a Church that knows how to overcome divisions and internal conflicts...

It's certainly true that marketing campaigns do not restore a damaged institution's credibility. But neither does the preservation of a united front. Once again the first order of business, from the Pope's perspective, is to avoid division and conflict. But the only effective way to restore credibility is to tell the truth.

The papal letter encourages the American bishops to find ways to protect against sexual abuse in the future, but not to look too deeply into how the problem arose in the past: not to investigate the corruption that gave rise to a culture of secrecy and cover-ups, of protecting the guilty at the expense of the innocent. If the same attitude prevails when the Vatican hosts the presidents of the world's episcopal conferences in February – and we have little reason to expect otherwise – that meeting will result in further frustration, greater cynicism about Church leadership, more damage to the evangelical mission of the Church.

I say that there is little reason for hope about the February meeting. But not none. Because this week the US bishops are praying over their response to the crisis, and to the papal letter. We should all be praying, too, that their response will be marked by both prudence and fortitude.

Published with permission from

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Alexander G. Markovsky

Opinion ,

President Trump understands jihad and is prepared to fight it

Alexander G. Markovsky
By Alexander Markovsky

January 8, 2019 (American Thinker) – Once again, President Trump exhibited the leadership and courage in challenging the accepted postulates and ignoring established rules and precedents.  The unwavering sense of the national interest led him to reconsider previous commitments to Afghanistan, Syria, and possibly Iraq.  After almost a generation of fighting in the so-called a "war on terror," with trillions of dollars spent and thousands of Americans dead and wounded, the questions are, are we better off now than we were seventeen years ago, when the war began?  Are the countries we engaged in better off today?  

Not so long ago, ISIS was marching in unrelenting waves of religious acclamation and territorial expansion, accompanied by terrorism and atrocities the world has not seen since World War II.  When Trump during the 2016 election campaign promised to destroy the caliphate "very quickly," he was mercilessly ridiculed by his opponents and the media.  In less than two years, Trump eviscerated the caliphate, cleared 99% of the territory, and killed thousands of fighters.

Nevertheless, despite this astonishing success, it would be utterly naïve to expect that the jihadi fanatics, who adopted an apocalyptic vision of the world and yearn for death, would cease perennial warfare and become productive citizens.

In this war, America and the Western world are facing a type of peril they have never faced before.  The immutable fact is that radical Islam is not just a religion; it is also a political totalitarian movement, just like communism and fascism.  The movement embraces religious supremacy and a Marxist-type utopian-egalitarian standard of virtue.  However, unlike communism and fascism, which were adopted by countries that could be defeated militarily, radical Islam is not a country; this mass movement represented by multiple groups is sustained by an ideology embodied in unlimited human resources around the globe. 

Another critical distinction is that this war also challenges the conventional definition of victory.  In a conventional war, the army loses if it does not win; in the war on terrorism, terrorism wins if it does not lose.  And it does not lose, because it has nothing to lose; the purpose of terrorism is not to win, but to terrorize, to break the will and paralyze the society into submission.

Hence, diplomatic solutions cannot be found, nor is it possible to defeat it in strictly military terms.

In order to face up to the enemy, we must recognize that the war with radical Islam is not just a military confrontation; it is also an ideological and a political affair.  First and foremost, this monster has to be defeated ideologically by superior principles advanced by Islam itself.

It is not a "mission impossible."  Some Muslim leaders are awakening to the realization that violence will not turn the clock, which the Arabs have invented, back to their greatness.  They find support among the majority of Muslims who adhere to a peaceful and pluralistic interpretation of their faith.  Indeed, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has denounced Islamic terrorism and challenged religious clerics and scholars to "revolutionize the religion" and bring it in line with Western morality.

In his inspiring yet direct speech during his visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017, Trump emphasized both countries' common interest in charting a constructive outcome.  He offered the Saudis, who spent billions spreading Islamic extremism across the globe, a choice: they had to decide whether they are a country respected by the world community or a cause.  At an October 2017 conference for international investors, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman responded positively by laying out Saudi's new approach to radical Islam: "We want to live a normal life ... coexist and contribute to the world[.] ... We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with these destructive ideas."  

Trump, on the other hand, is determined not to repeat the strategic blunders of his predecessors.  He is replacing fraudulent idealism with efficacy.  Trump's raison d'état in the relation to the Muslim world – keeping up the torch of international leadership – does not mean providing a security shield for the rest of the world.  The idealistic goal of removing tyrants and building democratic nations is incompatible with Islam.  Condemning Islamic radicalism and restraining the dogs of war, militarily, if necessary, is in the best national interest of the Muslim world.

In international affairs, the solution often leads to a new set of problems.  At this juncture, it is impossible to predict how an acceptable outcome can be distilled from the divergent political interests of Syria, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, and the Kurds.  However, the status quo that requires continued spending of lives and treasure cannot be tolerated by the American people.

Alexander G. Markovsky is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, a conservative think-tank hosted at King's College, New York City, which examines national security, energy, risk analysis, and other public policy issues.  He is the author of Anatomy of a Bolshevik and Liberal Bolshevism: America Did Not Defeat Communism, She Adopted It.  He is the owner and CEO of Litwin Management Services, LLC.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

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Robert Arvay


‘Hate speech’ hysteria is getting out of control

Robert Arvay
By Robert Arvay

January 8, 2019 (American Thinker) – Most of us are firmly opposed to hate speech. What is hate speech? A problem arises when our definitions vary. Another problem arises when we seek the right way to oppose it.

Unfortunately, there are powerful forces on the political left that have no doubt concerning either of these. For them, hate speech is whatever they dislike, and the right way to oppose it is to do anything they can – literally anything.

By "anything," we might include overt force, but the leftist censors have more subtle and more sinister methods. The major social media have enormous, and growing, power over what may or may not be said on their websites. Because we all abhor hate speech, this abhorrence has given them an opening to insert their own definitions. If Facebook or YouTube bans you for promoting what the site calls hate speech, there is little defense. You have been labeled a hater, and from that moment forward, your credibility has been diminished in the eyes of many.

This loss of credibility is not just personal. It's business. The tortured phrase from The Godfather is appropriate. When you apply for a job, or to enroll in a university, or even to keep your financial credit, you will be searched on the internet to determine whether you are a suitable prospect. Obviously, if you are a known terrorist, have fugitive warrants, or have made death threats, you will likely be deemed unsuitable. Less obviously, your political views, however innocuous they may be, can disqualify you without your ever knowing why. Worse yet, those who practice this form of viewpoint discrimination are getting better at it. They have dusted off the tactics of the past and updated them. They won't always say, Some of my best friends are conservatives, so I'm not prejudiced. They're more careful than that.

Solutions have been suggested. Why don't we conservatives start our own social media companies? We have. This is one of them. As useful as it is, there are massive obstacles that prevent it from becoming anywhere near as big as the biggest players. Infrastructure is one. Can you start your own electric utility company?

Not all is lost. Advancing technology has dissipated the powers of the news oligopoly that nearly silenced conservative viewpoints. That technology is what allows American Thinker, Fox News, talk radio, and similar venues to be heard.

But our freedoms remain tenuous and under aggressive challenge. Ingenious methods exist to force you to self-censor. Every conservative college student in a liberal university knows to keep quiet in a Marxist professor's class, lest he fail the course, or worse, be expelled on accusations of bigotry. Every employee of Google understands the vital necessity of guarding his words around the company's leftist employees in order to prevent being fired. 

Encouraged by their success, leftists are increasing their efforts. They are openly accusing credit card companies of complicity in murder if they allow you to pay your NRA membership dues through them. Teachers can be fired for refusal to affirm girls who self-identify as boys. Anything you have ever written, however many years ago, can be dredged up and used when needed, to discredit, intimidate, or even extort you for however slight an offense.

It's business.

The website Patreon, a source of funding for activists of various political persuasions, has recently seen several of its participants delete their accounts because of concerns about censorship.

Tucker Carlson recently interviewed Dave Rubin online to expose the matter.

Quoting from an article at Hot Air, "Jaqueline Hart, Patreon's head of trust and safety, said her team watches for and will investigate complaints about any content posted on Patreon and on other sites like YouTube and Facebook that violates what it defines as hate speech. That includes 'serious attacks, or even negative generalizations, of people based on their race [and] sexual orientation[.]'"

The video at that site and another video, here, contain illuminating discussions by Dr. Jordan Person and Dave Rubin about the problems they and others encountered and how they are attempting to overcome the formidable barriers being erected to stifle free speech.

It's business. It has gotten very personal as well.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

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Cdl. Christoph Schönborn speaks at an International Theological Institute conference, Nov. 15, 2018. ITI Trumau / Youtube screen grab
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Blogs ,

Art exhibition at Cdl. Schönborn’s cathedral gallery features lesbians kissing on Church step

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By Maike Hickson

January 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A recently concluded art exhibition in the rectory of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria included an image [WARNING: Following links lead to graphic images] of two lesbians kissing in front of a church as well as an image of an almost completely nude woman posing as the Resurrected Christ

The Austrian news website reported today that these pictures were to be found and seen in the Curhaus, the building adjacent to St. Stephen's Cathedral which is among other things the rectory and which is open for everyone, including children. The exhibition ran from September 2018 until January.

The artist, August Zoebl, states in the exhibition that “what is needed is the explosiveness of the pictures” in order to “communicate the outrageous message of the Resurrection.” These words are to be found next to the image of a naked woman, with light coming down from above, in a dark room, who partly covers her body with a white linen similar to the one that was found in the tomb of Christ. The photographer calls his picture “Pietà.” It also said as a sort of title: “The first light in the sepulcher: a man.” That picture was for sale for a price of 25,000 euro.

Another picture shows a woman standing on the top balcony of St. Stephen's Cathedral, holding a golden chalice in her hand.

Zoebl calls such pictures “sacred imaging.”

Other problematic art has been on display in the Cathedral gallery prior to this. In 2008, a display of a series of paintings by Alfred Hrdlicka in the art gallery attached to the cathedral depicted Christ and his Apostles as homosexuals engaged in a homosexual orgy at the Last Supper. reached out to Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, but did not receive any comment from the prelate.

At the end of 2018, Cardinal Schönborn had caused a stir when allowing a charity rock concert and dramatized play to take place in St. Stephen's Cathedral. During this event, the main actor – who in the past has repeatedly played nude roles on stage and who played homosexual scenes with other men in movies – stood upon the Communion rail of the church with a naked upper body, singing. The play also included several demons and one female Satan. The event was hosted by Gary Keszler, a prominent homosexual activist.

Also last year in October, Schönborn's diocese had a similar event in another church, the Franziskanerkirche, where there was a rock concert with an immodestly dressed woman standing in front of the altar, singing. There were flickering lights in the darkness, with loud music and white-hooded strange-looking monks. Father Karl Wallner, the prior of the Cistercian monastery Heiligenkreuz, near Vienna, hosted the event. Explaining his decision to organize this event which was meant to introduce people to the charity organization missio (the Papal Mission Society in Austria), Wallner said that Pope Francis always “tells us to try something new, and that is what we have done now.” He also later added that perhaps for some people this event might be “provocative.”

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Jonathon Van Maren Jonathon Van Maren Follow Jonathon


Mom furious after UK child services gives her ‘hell’ for objecting to daughter’s sex-change

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By Jonathon Van Maren

January 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The most typical response of LGBT activists to Christian concerns about the redefinition of everything—first marriage, now the biological realities of gender—is that people should mind their own business, because none of this has any impact on them.

If only that were true.

Consider the story of “Lisa” (her name was changed by the Daily Mail to protect her privacy), a 45-year-old mother in the United Kingdom. Late last year, Lisa discovered that her 14-year-old daughter was being treated as transgender by the school she attended. After being bullied, her daughter apparently began identifying as a boy, her teachers began to treat her like a boy, and at her first hour-long appointment with the National Health Service, a psychotherapist told the teen that she could begin hormone treatments as soon as she turned sixteen.

The teenage girl’s parents were not informed that their daughter was being referred to by a male name at school or that she was being referred to by male pronouns. When Lisa discovered this, she was understandably horrified, especially as she was convinced that it was the bullying that her daughter experienced at school that triggered the change, rather than genuine gender dysphoria. She went looking for another therapist, and stopped her daughter’s visits to the NHS clinic (where the therapist had advised cross-sex hormones within an hour on her first visit.)

In response, the school told her that finding another therapist was equivalent to “conversion therapy,” a bizarre claim considering the fact that Lisa wanted a therapist to help her daughter become comfortable in her own body instead of converting. Several days after that, Lisa received what she described as a “terrifying” email from Child and Adult Services informing her that her teenage daughter was deemed to be at risk—from her own mother. 

“I was reduced to tears because we were being treated like criminals when we were trying to protect our own daughter,” Lisa told the Daily Mail. It was social media sites, she said, that were selling her daughter “the lie that there are young people born in the wrong body.” And indeed, Lisa is correct: Some experts have noted that transgenderism in young people is taking the form of a social phenomenon, as being “trans” is becoming the “cool” thing to do, and schools and medical professionals fall all over themselves to immediately affirm any thoughts of gender transition.

Lisa contacted a social worker, and explained her concerns with the fact that her daughter had been told she could soon be on hormones within the very first visit, and that her daughter’s belief that she might be male actually stemmed from bullying. After several email exchanges, social services closed their case, and the school went back to calling the girl by her real name. Despite that, Lisa was understandably outraged. “I’m furious at the way we’ve been treated,” she said. “No family should be put through this hell.”

This story should be incredibly concerning to anyone who recognizes today’s new gender ideologies for the dangerous junk science that they are. Language is being twisted and contorted beyond recognition: Therapy to help people feel at peace with their own bodies is now “conversion therapy,” when “conversion” is precisely the opposite of what is being attempted. Mothers fighting for their children are a “risk,” when it is those labeling the parents a risk who are actually threatening the wellbeing of the children. For parents to discover that they are in the crosshairs of the LGBT activists when their children are at stake must induce a horrifying, palm-sweating panic.

This is precisely why it is so essential that we push back against the introduction of gender ideology into schools. This agenda is not harmless. It is dangerous. These ideologies teach children that they may be born in the wrong body, and that anyone who tells them that mastectomies or castrations or hormone drugs are not the answer are evil transphobes who pose a risk, while those suggesting surgery and drugs on healthy bodies are heroes. As we saw with the example of Lisa and her daughter, parents who simply want their children to be happy and healthy will be demonized—and other stories will not have the same pleasant ending. 

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Cardinal Bergoglio at the 'Puppet' Archdiocesan Mass for Children, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct. 15, 2011. Youtube
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Pope’s rebuke of traditionalists better applies to Vatican II zealots stuck in 1960s

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By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

January 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In the early days of the Francis regime, the world was treated to a wide and colorful array of insulting language from the Vicar of Christ directed at Catholics faulted for remaining “intransigently faithful” to tradition, with the implication that these were not like himself: a 1970s progressive, full of admiration for the United Nations and the European Union. In recent times the flood of insults has somewhat subsided. The pontiff has even warned us against the dangers of indulging in this verbal sport.

We might nevertheless wish to revisit an earlier official papal document, the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of 24 November 2013, where the then-new pope furnished a classy definition of those who exemplify what he called “self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism.” They (he says)

ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelising, one analyses and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. (n. 94)

He then says that this mentality, like “gnosticism” (whatever that means), “are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism” (whatever that means), and concludes: “It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.”

While it is undeniable that such a tendency, or at least the temptation to it, can exist in any Christian at any time—and therefore also in communities that pride themselves on being “traditional” to one degree or another—one would be remiss to neglect a monumental fact: it is precisely a self-absorbed and neo-pelagian spirit that has infiltrated nearly all celebrations of the Novus Ordo. None other than Joseph Ratzinger condemned the sociological conception of liturgy as “a work of this particular community,” one that trusts in the power of its active participation and feels superior to over 1,500 years of Latin liturgy because it “observes certain rules,” namely what popes have promulgated in the past 50 years, and “remains intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past,” namely, the 1960s and 1970s, in which Catholicism seems to be fatally trapped, like the mastodons of yore trapped in tar pits.

No doubt, a genuine evangelizing thrust could not emerge from such an adulterated form of Christianity. This perhaps explains why, at least in the Western world, the strongest growth is being seen in parishes, oratories, chapels, and religious communities that are expressly committed to “soundness of doctrine and discipline,” which—surprise!—turns out to open doors to the grace of conversion. In a phrase used by a priest of the Fraternity of St. Peter, we see people “falling in Eucharistic love”!

The old Latin Mass is explicitly anti-Pelagian, categorically rejects Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, and clearly reflects the true nature of sacrifice and the negative theology (sin, hell, penance, etc.) that is reduced or obscured in the new liturgical books. Considered in itself, it is altogether a better antidote to the disease sketched out in Evangelii Gaudium. In no way could the Mass sanctified St. Gregory the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and Blessed John Henry Newman ever be written off as “a particular Catholic style from the past.”

If a traditionalist gets a bit drunk, so to speak, on the rich drink poured out for him by tradition, and is tempted to think himself at the end of the path when he is only just beginning to slough off the mortal coil of modernity, let’s rebuke him, but have mercy; if he “exhausts his energies” picking splinters out of others’ eyes, let him be kindly and calmly corrected. These are incredibly confusing and difficult times, and most sheep are doing their best without the guidance of any shepherd worthy of the name.

The “good” traditionalist may consider himself “superior” precisely and only in this respect, that he submits his soul to be formed by a liturgy in which the tendencies Francis condemns are not inherent; that he emphatically does not trust in his own powers but in the universal tradition of the Church; that he trusts the power of Christ shown, lived, and poured forth in the traditional liturgy and its attendant devotions. 

Our greatest concern should rather be for the masses of Catholics whose ordinary liturgical experience forms in them nothing other than neo-Pelagian, self-absorbed tendencies. Though I can’t prove it, I have a hunch that if you surveyed the average attendant of a Latin Mass (the average “traditionalist”?) and a typical Novus Ordo congregant, the “neopelagiometer” would sound the alarm much sooner over the latter than over the former.

Let us return, then, to the quotation from Pope Francis, and let us speak forthrightly: it is a tendentious caricature, a portrait of the worst traditionalist in his worst moment. It targets the traditionalist who is bitter and spoiled, not the one in healthy bloom. In this sense, it it unjust and mean-spirited towards the large number of Catholics who are striving to love the Lord and their neighbor with the aid of traditional practices of the Faith. It would be as absurd to accept this portrait as it would be to say, about Catholics who attend the Novus Ordo, that all of them are tambourine-touting, liturgical dance-promoting, helium-balloon-sporting, lukewarm relativists. 

But then, Pope Francis has shown the world that he has a tendency to be a manipulator, an ideologue, a dictator, and a relativist about dogma, so perhaps it is not so worthwhile to take too seriously these problematic things he says.

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