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Alex Schadenberg Alex Schadenberg Follow Alex

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EU to weigh in on Belgian woman euthanized for depression

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By Alex Schadenberg

January 11, 2018 (Euthanasia Prevention Coalition) – An Associated Press (AP) article by Maria Cheng is reporting that the European Court of Human Rights has agreed to hear a case that was filed by the son of a depressed Belgian woman who died by euthanasia.

Robert Clark, the lawyer for Tom Mortier, the son of Godelieva De Troyer, who was physically healthy but depressed when she died by lethal injection, stated in the AP article:

"This was a woman who was under the care of a psychiatrist and according to medical definition was a vulnerable person[.]" 

"The state had a duty of care to protect her and it failed."

According to the AP article:

The court said it would now consider whether Belgium had violated two parts of the European Convention on Human Rights in euthanizing Mortier's mother. 

Mortier's statement to the court alleges that Belgium failed to protect his mother's life and that there was no thorough or effective investigation into her death.

According to an article published in the Daily Signal in January 2015:

Mortier says neither Distelmans (who did the euthanasia) nor a psychiatrist he consulted to approve the life-ending procedure (also a close friend of Distelmans') had a previous involvement with his mother's health. 

In fact, De Troyer's treating psychiatrist of more than 20 years refused to help her die, maintaining that she did not satisfy the requirements of Belgium law. 

At first Distelmans agreed, and he too declined to help De Troyer end her life. But after she made a donation of 2,500 euro to Life End Information Forum, an organization he co-founded, Distelmans carried out De Troyer's request.

Canada is debating extending its euthanasia law to include people with psychiatric conditions alone. This case and the case of the Belgian doctors who were charged in the death of an autistic woman will likely influence the Canadian law.

Published with permission from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

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Cardinal Roger Mahony on March 8, 2013 at the conclave that elected Pope Francis. Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images
Joseph Sciambra

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Cardinal who covered up sex abuse to speak at massive LA religious ed conference

Joseph Sciambra
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January 11, 2018 (Joseph Sciambra) – Despite a 2013 statement from Archbishop Jose Gomez, the current head of the largest archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, Cardinal Roger Mahony will speak at the 2019 Los Angeles Education Congress (LA REC). The topic of his March 23rd address will be "Connecting Junior High and High School Students with the Volatile Immigration Issues." According to his short biography on the official LA REC website:

Cardinal Roger Mahony led the Los Angeles Archdiocese from 1985 until his retirement in 2011. Born in Hollywood, he was the first native "Angelino" [sic] to be elevated to the position of Cardinal. Cardinal Mahony oversaw the design and building of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, which was dedicated in 2002, and now serves the total archdiocese of over 5 million Catholics. Since his retirement, Cardinal Mahony has devoted himself to the cause of comprehensive immigration reform on behalf of our immigrant brothers and sisters as well as refugees and displaced persons around the world.

On January 31, 2013, after files from the Archdiocese were released following a 2007 sex abuse lawsuit settlement that resulted in the largest pay-out ($660 million) in Church history, Archbishop Gomez stated:

I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties.

In the same 2013 statement, Archbishop Gomez announced that he had accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry as the Regional Bishop of Santa Barbara. According to documents released by the Archdiocese, beginning in the 1980s, then-Father Curry advised Mahony on how to avoid police involvement with priests accused of sexually abusing minors. In one case, Curry advised Mahony to keep a priest, Kevin Barmasse, accused of molesting a boy, from returning to Los Angeles; the priest was in active ministry in Arizona. In Arizona, the priest molested five teenage boys. These documents also revealed that Mahony repeatedly transferred, out of California or the United States, priests who had been accused of abuse in an attempt to allow the statute of limitations to expire.

Curry's successor, Bishop Robert Barron, will also speak at the 2019 LA REC. The LA REC is the largest annual gathering of Catholics in the United States.

A 2010 videotaped deposition in a lawsuit involving Michael Baker, a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who admitted to Mahony that he molested boys, a lawyer asked Cardinal Mahony why he never notified police about Baker's admission. "Wouldn't that be the right thing to do?" the lawyer asked. Mahony answered: "Well today it would...But back then that isn't the way these matters were approached." After Mahony knew of Baker's past abuse of minors, Mahony returned him to active ministry, where Baker abused more boys.

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Published with permission from Joseph Sciambra.

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Late-term abortionists LeRoy Carhart, Warren Hern, Susan Robinson, and Shelley Sella at the premier of After Tiller at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Cheryl Sullenger

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Report: Late-term abortion costs going up, clinics closing down

Cheryl Sullenger
By Cheryl Sullenger
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January 11, 2018 (Operation Rescue) – As an imploding abortion industry struggles to remain solvent amid a falling demand for abortions, there have been significant shifts in how abortions are being done and how late into pregnancy abortion clinics are willing to do them, according to new information gathered during Operation Rescue's 2018 Abortion Clinic Survey.

Each year, Operation Rescue conducts a nationwide survey that involves contacting each abortion business in the U.S. Information gathered about the abortion clinics and their practices represents the most accurate data available. The most recent survey was conducted from November 26 through December 14, 2018.

The survey also collected information about the cost of the most common abortions in the first trimester and how long women must wait for an abortion appointment, both of which have revealed insights into how the business of abortion is changing.

"These trends signal a certain level of desperation among abortionists to compete for every abortion dollar possible," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. "Competition is fierce, and we are seeing organizations like Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses reorganizing to stay afloat – not all of them successfully."

In fact, Operation Rescue's survey results indicated that U.S. abortion facility numbers dropped in 2018 to a historic low of 697. This decrease is in keeping with a national trend that has seen abortion facility numbers drop by 79 percent since 1991. (See Part One of this report.)

Perhaps the most significant trend shifts were related to surgical abortions.

  • Surgical abortion facilities are slowly being replaced by clinics that offer abortion-inducing drugs that can only be used in the first-trimester of pregnancy.
  • There has been a dramatic reduction in the number of facilities that conduct abortions at 20 weeks gestation or more.

Gestation Age Limits

Operation Rescue analyzed the self-imposed gestational limits of each of the 697 abortion facilities in America.

Overall, clinics that restrict abortions to the first trimester overwhelmingly outnumber those that are willing to abort in the later stages of pregnancy. This includes both surgical and medication-only abortion clinics.

A total of 443 surgical and medical abortion clinics confine themselves to first-trimester abortions (from conception). This represents 64 percent of all abortion clinics in the U.S.

Out of the 470 surgical abortion clinics, 213 limit abortions to 14 weeks (post conception) and under.

Of the 230 medical abortion facilities all confine the dispensing of abortion drugs to the current FDA-approved limit of 10 weeks gestation or under. None go beyond 10 weeks.

There are 121 clinics willing to venture into the riskier world of early second-trimester surgical abortions, yet will not go beyond the end of 19 weeks.

"We go as high as needed."

Abortions done at 20 weeks or later gestation are riskier, rarer, and much more expensive. Nevertheless, there are 133 abortion clinics that conduct abortions this late into pregnancy.

In 2016, there were 164 abortion facilities that conducted abortions at 20 weeks or later – 31 more than 2018. This represents an impressive 19 percent reduction in the number of very-late-term abortion facilities over just the past two years.

Planned Parenthood now occupies an ever-growing piece of a shrinking late-term abortion pie. Out of those 133 clinics that now conduct abortions at 20 weeks and later, 37 are Planned Parenthood facilities – more than double the 18 Planned Parenthood clinics that were willing to do such late abortions just two years ago.

This could be an indication that Planned Parenthood is attempting to expand into the expensive late-term abortion business where an abortion can cost several thousand dollars. There would certainly be a profit motive for such an expansion, especially in a time when more states are blocking Planned Parenthood's public funding and a federal rule change will prevent them from receiving millions of tax dollars in Title X family planning grants this spring.

Ironically, despite evidence to the contrary, none of the late-term clinics admitted to doing abortions past 28 weeks, except for the Boulder Abortion Clinic, owned and operated by Warren Hern in Boulder, Colorado. His facility told an Operation Rescue investigator, "We go as high as needed."

The number of abortion facilities that are publicly known to conduct abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy have changed very little since 2009. None of them is a Planned Parenthood affiliate. They include:

  • Warren Hern's Boulder Abortion Clinic in Boulder, Colorado. (Stated Limit: As high as needed)
  • Curtis Boyd's Southwestern Women's Options in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Stated limit: 28 weeks)
  • LeRoy Carhart's AbortionClinics.org in Bethesda, Maryland. (Stated limit: 27 weeks)
  • Josepha Seletz's Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills, California. (Stated limit: 24 weeks)
  • Martin Haskell's Women's Med Center in Dayton, Ohio. (Stated limit: 22 weeks)

Abortion Costs

For at least the fourth consecutive year, the national average cost of a first-trimester abortion has increased. In 2018, the average cost was $598. That is 3.5 percent higher than in 2015.

Costs vary by the type of abortion and the kind of facility conducting the abortion.

The national average for first-trimester surgical abortions was $612.47 in 2018. Abortion-inducing drugs obtained at surgical abortion facilities cost an average of $583.79.

The same abortion drugs were actually higher at facilities that only offer abortion drugs. The average cost at those clinics was $596.72.

In fact, the average cost of an abortion at a medication abortion facility has risen higher and faster than abortion-inducing drugs obtained at facilities that also offer surgical abortions. This is despite lower overhead costs and the fact that they tend to be less regulated in many states. In California, for example, abortion drugs can be prescribed by non-physicians, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and midwives, who commonly earn less than licensed physicians.

The state with the highest average cost for a first-trimester abortion is Wyoming at $1,099. The lowest cost was found in Virginia with the average price of $389 for a first-trimester surgical procedure.

Abortion Wait Times

In spite of claims from the Abortion Cartel that women must endure long waits to obtain abortions and dire predictions that pro-life legislation would result in increased wait times, survey results show that the opposite is actually true.

Today, from the time a woman contacts an abortion facility until the time she actually receives an abortion is an average of 6.56 days nationwide. That is down from an average wait of 8.5 days in 2015, even though the number of abortion facilities has decreased and a plethora of new state laws has been enacted since then.

"Our data debunks the claims of the Abortion Cartel, who love fear-mongering over pro-life legislation without any factual basis for their angst," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. "While we would prefer to see average abortion wait times increase, our data clearly shows the hysteria over how long women wait to receive abortion is completely fallacious and is wrongly being used to oppose life-saving legislation around the country."

Conclusions

Overall, Operation Rescue's 2018 survey of abortion clinics shows that while the number of abortion facilities are decreasing, the number of late-term abortion facilities is falling at a much greater rate.

This could be the result of a dropping demand for the unpopular and expensive late-term abortion procedures. Pro-life efforts to expose these gruesome abortions and their high risk factors, along with a public political dialogue about abortion appear to have influenced this trend.

Planned Parenthood's rapid growth into the very late-term abortion market is notable. This expansion took place under the leadership of former CEO Cecile Richards. With Planned Parenthood now under the leadership of Leana Wen, who is attempting to focus the public on other services Planned Parenthood provides, it will be interesting to see if its expansion into the very late-term abortion market continues.

The price of an abortion continues to rise. Abortion clinics are struggling to meet new state laws, keep abortionists on staff, and cope with an overall decrease in demand for abortions. It is likely that abortion businesses are attempting to offset their losses by passing price increases on to their customers.

With brisk competition for every abortion dollar, clinics appear particularly motivated to get women in for abortions as soon as they possibly can to reduce the chances women might change their minds or go elsewhere. This is reflected in the lower average wait time for abortion.

The evidence of shorter waits on average for abortion appointments soundly discredits pro-abortion arguments that pro-life laws have caused women to endure long wait times.

"I am very pleased with the results of the 2018 survey. It shows overall that abortion clinics are closing faster than they are opening and that efforts to counter that trend by the Abortion Cartel have not been successful," said Newman. "When abortion clinics close, lives are saved. We can take heart in knowing that the days of child-killing through abortion in this country are numbered."

Published with permission from Operation Rescue.

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Fr. Patrick Conroy, SJ, serves as a Catholic chaplain for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Martin M. Barillas Martin M. Barillas Follow Martin

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Democrats keep pro-LGBT Jesuit as chaplain of US House

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By Martin Barillas

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic priest who once earned the ire of former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will retain his post as chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives after members of Congress, with Democrats now holding a majority of seats, voted January 3 to keep Fr. Patrick J. Conroy SJ as chaplain for the next two years as the 116th session began.

According to House rules, the 68-year-old Conroy’s only specified duty is to “offer a prayer at the commencement of each day’s sitting of the House.” However, he is known to offer counsel to the House members, regardless of affiliation. His nondenominational prayer is broadcast live on HouseLive.gov and on C-Span, and is also kept on file by the Congressional Record. The prayer is incorporated in the official rules of the House to commence business.

In 2017, Conroy fell afoul of Republican leaders in Congress. On November 6 of that year, Conroy offered a prayer during the midst of efforts by erstwhile House Speaker Ryan, a fellow Catholic, to get the votes he needed to pass a Republican tax overhaul bill. Conroy prayed that day: “May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.” Critics of the bill claimed that it would unduly affect the poor while enriching the wealthy.

In April 2018, Ryan asked for his resignation, which Conroy did with an effective date of May 24. However, after a firestorm of indignation on the part of Democrats, Conroy rescinded his resignation and announced he intended to remain. Speaker Ryan accepted the withdrawal of the resignation and reinstated Conroy as House Chaplain on May 3, 2018.

In an undated YouTube video interview that appeared in 2015, Conroy declared that Catholic doctrine regarding homosexuality is a "dead end." Suggesting that Catholic teaching is antiquated, he said, “Now, we have theology on all this stuff and the answer is ‘gays can never engage in this and can never be married.’" He said, "But that’s a theology that goes back centuries before there was any understanding of human psychology, human individuality, human sexuality and all those kinds of understandings of the human psychosis, and the human person that weren’t as complete prior to these kinds of advances in understanding.”

Conroy went on to say, “Human beings procreate male-female, but human sexuality isn’t just about that. It’s about so much more ... which is self-evident.”

Father James Martin, a fellow Jesuit and LGBT advocate, sprang to Conroy’s defense as liberal Democrats denounced Speaker Ryan’s call for the chaplain’s resignation. In a May 2018 tweet, Martin wrote that Conroy's firing was "unjust." Martin wrote "advocating for the poor and marginalized is what every priest, every minister, in fact every Christian, is called to do. If you have problem with that, you have a problem with Jesus." In response, Bishop Rick Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee, tweeted: “Father Martin has his opinion of the hiring or firing of an individual. His opinion is just that, an opinion! Opinion isn’t fact even from a guy who just writes books.”

The House Chaplain’s budget was approximately $436,886 in 2016, according to an article at Patheos. Salaries for the chaplain and two assistants top $345,000 per year, according to InsideGov. The House Chaplain earns a salary at Level IV of the Executive Schedule for federal employees. Other federal employees at that level include the general counsels of the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force; the chief financial officers of NASA and the EPA; and the Army’s Director of Civil Defense.

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Lisa Bourne Lisa Bourne Follow Lisa

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Catholic apologist expresses bewilderment over Church silencing a faithful priest but not dissenters

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By Lisa Bourne

LINCOLN, Nebraska, January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A passionate evangelist for the Catholic faith called out the discrepancy between the hierarchy’s handling of priests who speak in defense of the Church amid the sexual abuse scandal versus those who foster a message counter to the faith.

The disparity adds to the problem, and lay Catholics should not remain silent about it, Catholic apologist Doug Barry said Wednesday in a Facebook post that cited LGBT-affirming Jesuit Father James Martin and Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich in connection to fostering heresy and damaging behavior.

“A priest in the Houston diocese, Fr. Mark Goring, has been silenced for speaking out against the Church scandals and for encouraging action to take down what he has referred to as ‘the corruption network,’" Barry said, before then lauding Goring’s care for souls and love of the Catholic faith.

“Meanwhile, priests like Fr. James Martin, Cardinal Cupich and others who have been either directly teaching heresy or have been complicit in allowing heresy and destructive behavior to be promoted, are going on unchecked!” he exclaimed.

“This is outrageous and continues to feed into the crisis!” Barry said. “The laity cannot become complacent or be silent.”

Father Mark Goring, CC, director of the Catholic Charismatic Center in Houston and member of the Companions of the Cross out of Canada, evangelizes regularly via YouTube.

He had spoken critically in a video last week of Washington, D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who is expected to preside as normal over the archdiocese’s Youth Rally and Mass and Vigil Mass for Life at next week’s March for Life despite controversy swirling around him.

Catholics are reasonably angered at the prospect of scandal that would be created by Wuerl officiating as though nothing is wrong at the pro-life events, which draw tens of thousands of pilgrims.

In the video, since removed from YouTube, Goring said, “It communicates the utmost disrespect for the victims of sexual abuse by clergy, that these cases are no big deal and that Church leaders can get away with allowing these situations to be swept under the rug.”

Then in a January 5 video, Goring shared that he was asked to “cease and desist” by one of his “legitimate authorities,” and would immediately do so, explaining the importance of obedience for a Catholic priest.

He did not specify who the authority was – whether it was a superior from his religious community or someone from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, where the Companions of the Cross apostolate that he directs performs its ministry.

Goring said he had not been told to remove any of his videos or banned from speaking about the scandal but felt because of the cease and desist he’d been given it was time for him “to enter into the silence of St. Joseph.”

Three days later, Goring posted another video in which he appealed to Pope Francis to give him permission to continue speaking about the Church’s sex-abuse situation. He again spoke of the importance of obedience, stressed he was grieved over any difficulty he may have caused his superiors, and promised to be honest and comment on the situation with love.

Goring said he felt like he needed to speak because there is a fire burning in his heart he couldn’t contain.

“All I care about is getting to heaven and doing God’s will,” he said. “And I want to fight for the honor of Holy Mother Church.”

In addition to the initial video pertaining to Wuerl being removed from YouTube, since a January 8 LifeSiteNews report on Goring’s appeal to Francis was published that also reported on the earlier two videos -- both the January 5 “cease and desist” video and the January 8 appeal to Pope Francis video have been removed.

Barry, founder and host of the BATTLE READY program on EWTN, also hosted the Catholic network’s Life on the Rock program for years and has presented a one-man drama of “The Passion” worldwide since 1992.

He noted Goring’s effectiveness as an evangelizer and passion for the Catholic faith in his Facebook post.

“He has a YouTube channel that has been gaining popularity and for good reason,” Barry said. “I have met this priest and I have watched many of his videos. He is an upstanding priest who cares very much for souls and has a deep love for the Catholic Church.”

Barry further noted of Goring, “Many of his videos that encouraged us all to speak out more and defend the Church have since been removed from his YouTube channel.”

Barry’s Facebook post on what happened to Goring and the incongruence between treatment of priests such as him compared with others received dozens of comments and hundreds of shares. The comments were overwhelming in support of Goring, with some coming from well-known Catholics.

“Totally unacceptable,” said Catholic author and blogger Leila Miller.

Paul Darrow, a Catholic speaker who advocates chastity for same-sex-attracted Catholics, commented, “The modus operandi of some of the superiors of these good priests is to cast aspersions on their character and on their competence, rather than to support them and His Truth.”

“This is why lay-run organizations that are not officially "Catholic" need to step into the gap,” said Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, author and founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a family advocacy organization. “No one can ‘silence’ someone like me or the Ruth Institute.”

Barry’s post effectively illustrated the disparate treatment on the part of Church leadership with a split-photo layout containing side-by-side pictures of Goring and Martin, the Vatican communications consultor and editor-at-large for Jesuit-run America magazine who performs ubiquitous LGBT-affirming outreach.

Catholics continue to call for accountability in the sex-abuse scandal, which exploded again in recent months after revelations beginning in June that disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick sexually abused several minors and countless seminarians, and also the August release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report derailing seven decades of abuse by priests and associated cover-up there.

The resurgence of the crisis has brought renewed focus on the problem of homosexuality in the clergy, a long-suspected gay power network in the Church, and served to help clarify that a majority of the abuse committed in the crisis has been male-on-male, targeting post-pubescent boys and young adult men.

Cardinal Cupich was named by Francis to help organize his forthcoming summit on clergy sex abuse, which to date has been reported to not include a focus on seminarians or other vulnerable adults.

Cupich was recently in the news after it was learned that as bishop of Spokane, Washington, he was made aware that seven Jesuit priests, credibly accused of sexual abuse, were living unsupervised on the campus of Gonzaga University and he allowed them to continue in that situation.

Cupich was casual in his acknowledgement of sexual activity among clerics and adults at the November meeting of the U.S. bishops conference. He is among those attempting to attribute the clergy sex abuse scandal to clericalism, claiming that placing blame on homosexuality in the clergy is a “diversion.”

In testimony last August implicating Pope Francis and other Vatican officials in covering up former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sex-abuse record, former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano faulted Cupich for denying the homosexual element in the sex-abuse scandal, owing to Cupich’s “ pro-gay ideology.”

In an interview soon after Vigano’s testimony was released, Cupich said it would be “inappropriate” for the pope to answer questions on the issue.

The pope has a bigger agenda,” said Cupich. “He’s gotta get on with other things of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”

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Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

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American birth rate plummets to 30-year low

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

HYATTSVILLE, Maryland, January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics has announced that the national fertility rate is the lowest it has been in 30 years.

The American birth rate has been insufficient to sustain the population since 1971, but the 2017 numbers indicate a 30-year low. According to CNN, the federal agency reported that the total fertility rate for the U.S. overall that year was 1,765.5 per 1,000 women, 16 percent below the level needed for a population to replace itself: 2,100 births per 1,000 women.

The total number of births in the U.S. in 2017 was 3,853,472, a drop of two percent from 2016.  

Women of all age groups except the over 40-set had fewer babies in 2017. According to the National Center of Birth Statistics:

“The general fertility rate was 60.2 births per 1,000 women aged 15–44, down 3% from 2016 and another record low for the United States. Birth rates declined for nearly all age groups of women under 40, but rose for women in their early 40s. The birth rate for teenagers aged 15–19 was down 7% in 2017 to 18.8 births per 1,000 women; rates declined for both younger (aged 15–17) and older (aged 18–19) teenagers.”

There were some interesting differences between birth rates for states.

South Dakota and Utah were the only states to reach “replacement rate.” South Dakota was the biggest winner overall, with a rate of 2,227.5 live births per 1,000 women, and Utah came in second with 2,120.5. North Dakota nearly made it with a rate of 2,065 live births per 1,000 women. The same can be said for Nebraska, which had a rate of 2,062. In contrast, the birth rate in Washington, D.C. was 1,421 per 1000 women.

CNN published remarks by Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, who said that fertility rates have been dropping consistently.

“We’ve been seeing fertility rates go down, and I think it has a lot to do with women and men, couples in particular, having much more control over their reproductive lives," he said.

Benjamin did acknowledge that a low fertility rate isn’t necessary good for society.

“I think the concern is – and there is a concern – having a fertility rate that doesn't allow us in effect to perpetuate our society,” he said. “But we may very well over time start seeing this reversed or flattened out, but that remains to be seen.”

CNN noted that “between 2007 and 2017, total fertility rates in the United States fell 12% in rural counties, 16% in suburban counties and 18% in large metro counties, according to a separate CDC data brief released in October.”

In 2016, approximately 884,524 Americans were killed before birth in legal abortions.

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Alina Dulgheriu BBC / video screen grab
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UK court agrees to hear free speech challenge to ban on pro-life prayer outside abortion center

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

LONDON, England, January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A British court has ruled that a pro-life activist may challenge a legal decision banning prayer and support for women in crisis pregnancies outside a notorious abortion business.

The UK Court of Appeal will hear Alina Dulgheriu’s challenge against London’s Ealing Council (municipal government) regarding its Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which criminalized pro-life presence outside Marie Stopes Ealing. According to the Order, no one near the business may express approval or disapproval of abortion, pray, hand out literature offering material support to women who might wish an alternative to abortion, or “interfere” with the business’s clients in any way.

Typically PSPOs are used to curb public nuisances, like drunken behavior or dogs running out of control. Civil rights activists have argued since their introduction in 2014 that they could be used to shut down freedom of speech and assembly in public spaces. The Ealing Council ban on any pro-life presence outside the Marie Stopes abortion business proved their point.

Alina Dulgheriu is a mother who was supported by members of a pro-life vigil held outside a London abortion facility. She filed an appeal against Ealing Council last spring. Although the High Court accepted that her rights to freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly had been infringed by the PSPO, it ultimately upheld the order. Dulgheriu and her “Be Here for Me” allies subsequently held a campaign to fund a further appeal, raising over £50,000 ($64,113 USD) in under three months.

In a press release, Dulgheriu said she was “delighted” that the Court of Appeal will reconsider the “very disappointing decision” of the High Court.

“My little girl is here today because of the real, practical and emotional support that I was given by a group outside a Marie Stopes centre, and I am continuing with this appeal to ensure that women in Ealing and all across the country do not have this vital support option to removed.”

Dulgheriu observed that instead of responding to the needs of at-risk women, the Council had “criminalised charity and attempted to remove dedicated and caring individuals from public space without justification.”

“I cannot imagine a society where a simple offer of help to a woman who might want to keep her child is seen as a criminal offence,” she added. “I refuse to accept that women should be denied the opportunity to receive help where they want to keep their child.”

Although powerful supporters of the UK abortion industry called for similar PSPOs to be imposed across the country, even some pro-abortion British activists protest using PSPOs to shut down freedom. In May 2018, leading LGBT activist Peter Tatchell was among the pro-abortion signatories of a letter to the Times condemning the Ealing Council PSPO.

“Ealing Council’s PSPO is so widely drawn as to impose potentially unlawful restrictions on fundamental rights, particularly the prohibition on ‘protest,’ which includes ‘engaging in any act of approval/disapproval’ by ‘any means’ — including prayer,” they wrote.

“Where groups interfere with access to abortion services — through harassment, abuse, obstruction or surveillance — this is already prohibited under law. For example, the Public Order Act 1986 prohibits causing harassment, alarm or distress and includes a specific power to impose conditions on assemblies that seek to intimidate others,” they continued. “However, abortion clinic PSPOs fail to make a distinction between activities causing objective harm and activities with which people disagree. We believe that this goes against long-standing principles of common law and human rights law, as well as the statutory guidance on PSPOs.”

Their concerns have not been dismissed. Last September the British Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced that he would not be imposing nationwide “buffer zones” outside abortion businesses, saying that such a measure “would not be a proportionate response” given the realities of pro-life activism in the UK.   

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Kevin Arsenault
LifeSiteNews staff

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Strong pro-life candidate runs in Prince Edward Island Conservative leadership race

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Canada’s national pro-life and pro-family organization, Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), has endorsed a longtime pro-life advocate for Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Prince Edward Island (PEI). 

CLC’s recently published Voters Guide draws a sharp distinction between the moral and social worldviews of many of the candidates vying for the top Conservative job in the province.

The PC Party's leadership vote will take place on February 9th. 

CLC is asking eligible voting members to rank Kevin Arsenault as #1 on the ballot on account of his strong pro-life-and-family platform.  

The Voters Guide sharply contrasts Arsenault with two of his opponents, Dennis King who supports abortion, and Sarah Stewart-Clark who is an activist for the LGBT agenda and transgender ideology.

Five candidates are seeking the top Conservative job in the province, to replace the former PC Leader, James Alward, who resigned on September 17th, citing his inability “to make a strong connection with Islanders”.  Since Alward took over as leader less than a year earlier, PC support in the general public slid from 28% to 20%. 

Running to replace Alward are: Kevin Arsenault, Shawn Driscoll, Allen Dale, Sarah Stewart-Clark and Dennis King. 

According to Jack Fonseca, CLC’s Director of Political Operations, the pro-life Arsenault is a clear #1 choice for every social conservative. 

“Arsenault is an accomplished pro-life writer and thinker, having published dozens of articles and opinion pieces advocating for preborn human rights”, said Fonseca. “He has a strong so-con platform that includes defunding medically unnecessary, elective abortions. He also rejects the teaching of unscientific transgender ideology to PEI school children”.

“This is the kind of Leader – and future Premier - that Islander families desperately need to defend parental rights in education, and to protect wasteful and politically-motivated spending of their hard-earned tax dollars”.

Until 2015, Prince Edward Island had been one of the safest provinces for preborn children waiting to be born. Abortions were not available anywhere on the island, and out-of-province abortions first required a 2-doctor referral before the province’s health insurance plan would agree to subsidize the killings with taxpayer money.

CLC maintained that this modicum of a barrier to abortion helped to save the lives of PEI babies and to spare PEI women the harm and trauma which so often accompanies abortion-choice.

However, in, 2015 the Liberal Premier, Wade MacLauchlan, announced that abortions would now be committed on PEI soil, and the killings fully-funded by the taxpayer without any need for a 2-doctor referral.

The pro-life Voters Guide by CLC asks socially conservative party members to vote strategically, by only ranking Kevin Arsenault on the ballot, as their #1 choice. CLC recommends not ranking any of the other four candidates, so as to place a high value on the support of pro-life Canadians, in the mind of political leaders.

According to the Voters Guide:

Although it may be tempting to rank a candidate who possesses some pro-life leanings as #2 on the ballot, it's in the long-term best interest of the pro-life movement to hold a higher standard for political leadership candidates.

Only by our strategic giving and/or withholding of support can we be successful in convincing political leaders to commit to the implementation of concrete, socially conservative policies.

If we were to give away our support, even as a #2 ranking, without the promise of solid policies in return, it would send a counter-productive message to all politicians that the pro-life vote can be bought very cheaply, without ever having to give social conservatives anything of significance in return.

Deadline to become a Voting Member ends soon

Campaign Life Coalition is urging every pro-lifer and social conservative in PEI to join the PC Party before the January 18th deadline to become a voting member.  Memberships can be purchased online here.

Fonseca told LifeSiteNews that he hopes PEI parents and grandparents who are concerned about the aggressive push for tender-aged children to be indoctrinated with transgender ideology will become politically involved. 

“The radical left wants to brainwash your children and grandchildren to believe in the unscientific Theory of Gender Identity, which holds that being a boy or a girl is completely unconnected to one’s biological reality”, said Fonseca.  “Teaching this dangerous nonsense to kids is child abuse. You need a PC Leader and a Premier who rejects gender identity theory, and will protect your kids from it”. 

PEI residents age 14 or older, including landed immigrants, can become voting members by joining the PC Party no later than 4:00 pm on Friday January 18th. 

CLC’s Voters Guide can be accessed here.

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South Carolina pro-lifers introduce ban on aborting babies with beating hearts

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By Calvin Freiburger

COLUMBIA, South Carolina, January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – This week, South Carolina became one of the latest states to introduce a ban on aborting preborn babies with detectable heartbeats, a legislative proposal that has gained steam in multiple states as both a more comprehensive pro-life measure and a way to challenge Roe v. Wade.

Introduced Monday, H. 3020 requires anyone committing an abortion to first perform an ultrasound to test for a fetal heartbeat and offer to show the ultrasound images to the pregnant woman. If a heartbeat is found, aborting the baby anyway would subject the abortionist to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to two years in jail, except in cases of a physical medical threat to the mother.

“If we have someone who has a beating heart, that is a live person, and it’s the government’s duty to protect that life,” Jeannie Smith, founder and CEO of the Conway-based pregnancy center Coastline Women’s Health Center, told NBC affiliate WMBF. “This would hopefully bring an end to abortion in the state of South Carolina.”

Alester Pryor of the Horry County Democrat Party, meanwhile, attacked the bill as infringing on a woman’s “right to choose what to do with her body” and “mak(ing) decisions on their moral standards.” But Republicans stress that they want to stop anyone from killing children with their own bodies.

“It’s a common-sense bill. If a heart stops beating permanently, the person is dead,” Republican state Rep. John McCravy said last month. “Common sense should tell us that when a heart is beating, we have a precious human life that should not be terminated.”

Preborn babies’ hearts finish forming around seven or eight weeks into pregnancy, so the bill would ban abortions much earlier than Roe allows. But state pro-lifers also welcome the possibility that the bill would act as a test case for overturning the 1973 Supreme Court decision.

“We have a moral obligation to defend life,” GOP state Rep. Steven Long said last month. “The court system is primed and ready for a good piece of pro-life legislation. Now is the time we need to be pushing and fighting to get legislation like this passed.”

Many pro-lifers hope that President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – along with a speculated third nominee eventually replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg – will finally provide the majority needed to overturn Roe and restore Americans’ right to vote directly on abortion.

H. 3020 is currently pending before the Judiciary Committee. Republicans kept control of the state legislature after the midterms but lost some reliable pro-life votes in the Senate. Assuming it does pass, however, GOP state Sen. Shane Martin expressed optimism that Republican Gov. Henry McMaster would sign it into law.

“I’m hoping that with our fight and the governor’s support, we can get some of these so-called pro-life Democrats and Republicans to actually vote pro-life,” he said.

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Federal court hears Planned Parenthood case against Louisiana’s delay of abortion license

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By Calvin Freiburger

NEW ORLEANS, January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Lawyers for Planned Parenthood and the state of Louisiana clashed in federal court this week over the licensing of a planned abortion facility the former says is being improperly delayed, while the latter claims Planned Parenthood is trying to rush the process.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on Wednesday from both state attorneys and lawyers for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC), Planned Parenthood Center for Choice (PPCC), and three female patients, the Associated Press reports. Louisiana wants the suit thrown out.

Planned Parenthood is America’s largest abortion chain. It aborts over 300,000 babies annually, according to its own reports.

At issue is a license application for a New Orleans Planned Parenthood location that’s been pending since September 2016. The facility opened that year and currently offers a variety of other services, but cannot commit abortions without the new license. It would be Planned Parenthood’s first Louisiana location to offer abortions, and the state’s fourth abortion facility overall.

Starting under former Gov. Bobby Jindal and continuing under Gov. John Bel Edwards, Louisiana first delayed granting the license to investigate the abortion affiliate’s potential involvement in Planned Parenthood’s sale of organs from aborted babies. Last year, a Center for Medical Progress (CMP) video revealed PPGC abortion director Dr. Ann Schutt-Aine apparently discussing how she gets around the federal partial-birth abortion ban by “pull[ing] off a leg or two” before a baby exits the womb.

In its suit, Planned Parenthood argues the investigation is a “sham” and that the state is illegally delaying the license for political reasons, violating it and its patients’ rights to due process and equal protection and putting “undue burdens” on obtaining abortions. It also cites Louisiana’s efforts to exclude Planned Parenthood from both state and Medicaid funds.

“Ultimately, what they are trying to do is circumvent the whole state licensing process,” Elizabeth Murrill of the state attorney general’s office responded, Courthouse News reports. “The first thing they could have done is asked for a meeting with the secretary. They didn’t. Second thing, they could have asked for a license; they didn’t do that. They could have appealed any of this at state level and they didn’t.”

Murrill also accused Planned Parenthood of “forum shopping” by going to federal judges they expected to be more favorable to them rather than making their case to state courts.

All three members of the panel were Republican appointees, but two of them signaled sympathy toward Planned Parenthood’s position.

“Look at this timeline: If you look at the last ten years, it’s stall, stall, stall, stall, stall,” Judge Patrick Higginbotham, an appointee of Ronald Reagan, told the state. Judge James Ho, who was appointed by Donald Trump, suggested he was leaning toward letting the suit proceed because “they alleged that you aren’t following [federal] law.” The third member, Judge Jennifer Walter Elrod, was nominated by George W. Bush.  

The AP also quotes Planned Parenthood’s lawyers as claiming the CMP videos that sparked the investigation were “deceptively edited” and “didn’t result in criminal charges” in other states. In fact, Planned Parenthood’s defenders have been largely unable to identify specific “deceptive edits,” and California, where most of the incriminating footage was captured, never investigated.

Ultimately, the panel did not give a timetable on when it would make its decision. As of last June, the AP found that Louisiana has spent more than $1 million since 2014 defending itself against pro-abortion lawsuits.

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Viganò vindicated: Wuerl knew about McCarrick abuse as early as 2004

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By Lisa Bourne

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Newly released information in the Catholic Church’s clergy sex abuse scandal shows that Washington D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl was deceitful about his knowledge of sex abuse allegations against disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick – also further vindicating the testimony from former Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò on who knew about McCarrick.

Viganò in his original August 2018 testimony had called Wuerl a liar for denying knowledge of McCarrick's abuse. 

“I myself brought up the subject with Cardinal Wuerl on several occasions, and I certainly didn’t need to go into detail because it was immediately clear to me that he was fully aware of it,” stated Viganò. “The Cardinal’s “recent statements that he knew nothing about it … are absolutely laughable. He lies shamelessly.”

Wuerl knew about charges of abuse against McCarrick as far back as 2004, according to a Diocese of Pittsburgh file, having reported the charges to the Vatican at the time, even as he’s acted since last June as though he was unaware of any charges involving the former high-profile cardinal.

Soon after news broke June 20 of McCarrick’s removal from public ministry for credible and substantiated allegations of abuse of a minor, a number of journalists who’d tried to report on this in the past recounted how McCarrick’s abuse had been a widely-known “secret” for years among journalists and in the Church, and that even Rome had been made aware

Everybody knew, but no one in the media could get it published in a major news outlet.

At the time, the allegations were limited to a five-decades-old accusation of abuse of a minor when McCarrick was a priest in the Archdiocese of New York, which also brought about revelations of three allegations of sexual misconduct with adults decades ago in the Diocese of Metuchen, where McCarrick was bishop from 1982 to 1986, and the Archdiocese of Newark, where he was archbishop from 1986 to 2000, two of those allegations resulting in settlements.

Since then two more allegations of abuse of a minor have come to light, along with McCarrick’s serial abuse of seminarians.

McCarrick was ordained in 1958 for the New York archdiocese, where he became an auxiliary bishop in 1977. He was archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006, and was elevated to cardinal in February 2001. 

Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinal July 28 of last year amid the flood of allegations against him. McCarrick has since been living in a friary in Kansas, in proximity to elementary and high schools

He is currently undergoing an “administrative penal process” for multiple canonical charges of sexual misconduct and abuse involving both minors and adults, which include solicitation in the confessional. A decision from the process is expected prior to the pope’s abuse summit in Rome next month.

Wuerl's duplicitous statement on McCarrick  

Wuerl, McCarrick’s successor in Washington, made a statement June 21, the day following the initial allegation of abuse of a minor by McCarrick surfaced, the wording of which pertained only to his time in the Washington archdiocese and not any time prior – when he’d been made aware of abuse allegations against McCarrick.

“I can report that no claim – credible or otherwise – has been made against Cardinal McCarrick during his time here in Washington,” he said.

The cardinal had also said, “I think we were all shocked and saddened” by the charges of abuse leveled at McCarrick.

Wuerl said he requested a review similar to that of New York’s of the Washington diocese records – but the review focused only on abuse of minors and concerned only McCarrick’s time in Washington.

Wuerl was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006.

He has been under fire since the Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August said he improperly handled some sexual abuse cases that came before him during his time in Pittsburgh. He has denied the allegations. On October 12 of last year, Francis accepted Wuerl’s resignation as Archbishop of Washington - although he remains apostolic administrator of the archdiocese until Francis names his successor.

Documentation held by the Pittsburgh diocese contrasts sharply with public statements Wuerl has made about McCarrick since the explosion of sex abuse allegations against the latter began in June, the Washington Post reports

The Pittsburgh file was brought to the news outlet's attention by Robert Ciolek, a former priest who had reached a settlement with the Church in 2005 after making abuse allegations against clerics including McCarrick.

Ciolek’s is one of the New Jersey settlements revealed in June with the initial McCarrick allegations.

Ciolek had recently learned that the Pittsburgh diocese had the file showing that Wuerl was aware of his allegations against McCarrick; the file includes documentation that Wuerl had shared the information with then-Papal Nuncio Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo. Ciolek had viewed the document in December.

Wuerl has continually rejected accusations that he had any involvement in the McCarrick matter. 

Both the Archdiocese of Washington archdiocese and the Pittsburgh diocese acknowledged to the Post Thursday night that Wuerl knew and informed the Vatican, the news outlet’s report said. The dioceses said they were trying to protect Ciolek’s confidentiality.

Ciolek dismissed the confidentiality element, telling the Post, “There was nothing that precluded them from talking to anyone” about his case. Wuerl at worst could have said: ‘I am aware but I can’t name that person.’”

Pittsburgh statement

The Diocese of Pittsburgh sent LifeSiteNews a statement saying it has cooperated with Ciolek to the greatest extent possible.

The statement said:

The Diocese of Pittsburgh learned in August 2004 that the Diocese of Metuchen was in mediation with Mr. Ciolek regarding abuse by a high school teacher of that diocese. During this mediation he also informed the Diocese of Metuchen of abuse by a Pittsburgh priest. Mr. Ciolek was an adult seminarian when this abuse occurred. In July 2018 the Diocese of Pittsburgh learned that it was included in a settlement agreement with four other dioceses, including the Diocese of Metuchen. Prior to July 2018, the Diocese of Pittsburgh had not previously received a copy of the agreement. We were not a party to that agreement and we were not aware that the Diocese of Pittsburgh was mentioned in that agreement.

In November 2004, Mr. Ciolek appeared before the Independent Review Board of the Diocese of Pittsburgh to report the details of the allegation of abuse he made against the Pittsburgh priest. When he appeared before the Independent Review Board Mr. Ciolek also spoke of his abuse by then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. This was the first time the Diocese of Pittsburgh learned of this allegation. In written correspondence to the Diocese of Pittsburgh immediately thereafter, Mr. Ciolek asked that the allegation regarding then-Cardinal McCarrick be shared only with ecclesiastical – that is – Church authorities. A few days later, then-Bishop Donald Wuerl made a report of the allegation to the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. Since this time, the Diocese of Pittsburgh continued to respect Mr. Ciolek’s wishes that this information only be shared with Church authorities. In November 2018 Mr. Ciolek authorized the Diocese of Pittsburgh to respond to press inquiries about this matter.

In December 2018, Mr. Ciolek traveled to Pittsburgh to review documents regarding his participation in the Independent Review Board of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. At that time, Mr. Ciolek informed the Diocese of Pittsburgh that he intended to continue his investigation. Yesterday, he informed us that he would reach out to the press.

LifeSiteNews did not hear back from the Archdiocese of Washington by press time.

Aside from the June 21 statement that solely concerned Wuerl’s time in Washington, Wuerl feigned having no knowledge of McCarrick’s abuse in a July 31 interview with the archdiocesan newspaper Catholic Standard

The Standard had asked Wuerl about “numerous stories or blog posts that repeated long-standing rumors or innuendos that may be out there regarding Archbishop McCarrick.” 

“In the past month, I have seen some of those new public reports,” Wuerl responded. “But in my years here in Washington and even before that, I had not heard them. With rumors — especially old rumors going back 30, 40, even 50 years — there is not much we can do unless people come forward to share what they know or what they experienced.”

Wuerl did not mean “to be imprecise” with his public statements, said the Washington Archdiocese in a statement to the Post.

“Furthermore, Cardinal Wuerl has attempted to be accurate in addressing questions about Archbishop McCarrick. His statements previously referred to claims of sexual abuse of a minor by Archbishop McCarrick, as well as rumors of such behavior.”

Ciolek provided the documents to the Post after repeated requests to meet with Wuerl and being refused.  

Ciolek’s allegations included abuse at a Catholic high school and as a seminarian in New Jersey, and then again in seminary by a Pittsburgh priest, hence the reason the McCarrick matter came before the Pittsburgh review board and Wuerl.

A Washington archdiocese spokesman had told the Post last fall in response to questions that Wuerl did not know “about the settlement.” This led Ciolek to request a copy of the testimony he’d given the Pittsburgh review board in his case in 2004. Ciolek also asked what else was in the file, which led to discovery of Wuerl having communicated the McCarrick allegations to the papal nuncio.

Ciolek praised Wuerl for taking the McCarrick report to Rome, the Post said, though he criticized Wuerl’s denial of his knowledge of the sex abuse allegations against the former cardinal.

“Reading the document, I felt Wuerl did the right thing,” Ciolek said. “But that good feeling of what he had done has been overshadowed completely by his lying about his knowledge of that.”

The news that Wuerl did know about sexual abuse allegations against McCarrick also confirms charges from former Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who’d said in his August testimony that he raised the issue of McCarrick with Wuerl more than once, and Wuerl was clearly aware of McCarrick’s abuse.

“He lies shamelessly,” wrote Viganò.

“Cardinal Wuerl, well aware of the continuous abuses committed by Cardinal McCarrick and the sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict, transgressing the Pope’s order, also allowed him to reside at a seminary in Washington D.C.,” Vigano stated as well. “In doing so, he put other seminarians at risk.”

Wuerl has been among those to blast Vigano’s testimony as not factual.

The Vigano testimony, also implicating Francis and other senior prelates in covering for McCarrick, has yet to be refuted.

Lay Catholics remain angry over Church leadership’s handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal.

Note: Follow LifeSite's new Catholic twitter account to stay up to date on all Church-related news. Click here: @LSNCatholic

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Catholic actor: I was fired from TV show for refusing sex scene

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean
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HOLLYWOOD, January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – It doesn’t seem possible, but there’s an actor in Hollywood who won’t kiss his co-stars, let alone participate in steamy scenes. And, his principled stance has made trouble come his way. 

Neal McDonough, 52, has worked on-screen since his television debut in 1991. He’s appeared in such television shows as Quantum Leap, NYPD Blue, Band of Brothers, and Desperate Housewives, and in such films as Minority Report and Captain America: The First Avenger. McDonough has also done voice work in cartoon films: he played Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk, for example.   

But McDonough has recently made headlines for saying that he was cut from the starring role of 2010’s TV comedy series Scoundrels because he wouldn’t do a sex scene with his co-star Virginia Madsen. 

A faithful Catholic and a married father of five, McDonough says that his lips belong only to his wife, Ruvé Robertson McDonough, whom he wed in 2003.   

“I won’t kiss any other woman because these lips are meant for one woman,” he told a celebrity magazine.

In his interview with Closer Weekly, published on January 3, McDonough said he was “surprised” by the decision to fire him from Scoundrels

“I was [surprised], and it was a horrible situation for me,” he stated. 

“After that, I couldn’t get a job because everybody thought I was this religious zealot. I am very religious. I put God and family first, and me second. That’s what I live by. It was hard for a few years.” 

Being fired for not doing the raunchy scene was particularly disappointing for the actor, as he had successfully navigated the issue as a recurring character in Season 5 of Desperate Housewives.  McDonough played opposite star Nicollette Sheridan as Edie Brit’s husband Dave Williams. 

“When [creator] Marc Cherry signed me, I said, ‘I’m sure you know, but I won’t kiss anybody,’”  McDonough told Closer Weekly

“He was like, ‘But this is ‘Desperate Housewives!’ I said, ‘I know.’ He paused for about five seconds and said, ‘All right, I’m just going to have to write better.’ And we had a great time.”

The actor expressed his gratitude to God for his wife and children in the interview, saying that he goes to church daily to say thanks. 

“Almost 20 years, five kids and just one heck of an awesome life later, to have her as my partner in everything, I’m just the most blessed guy I know,” McDonough told the celebrity magazine.

“That’s why I go to church every day and say thank you to God for everything he’s given me. And most importantly, thank you for giving me Ruvé, because, without her, I most certainly would not be talking with you right now.”

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New discoveries prove man on Shroud of Turin was ‘really crucified’

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By Diane Montagna
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Full length negatives of the shroud. Public Domain

ROME, January 11, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Italian researchers have made a new discovery about the Shroud of Turin which they say strengthens the hypothesis that “the man of the Shroud was really crucified.” 

In a new soon-to-be-released study, researchers have also identified the exact point where the lance pierced his side, and concluded that the bloodstains on what many believe to be the burial cloth of Jesus are “absolutely realistic.” 

A new discovery

A preview of the new study was presented in the Italian daily La Stampa on January 2, 2019. Top researchers included Filippo Marchisio, head of Radiology at the Rivoli hospital, and well known Italian sindonologist, Pier Luigi Baima Bollone, a long-time professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Turin and director of the International Centre of Sindonology.

The investigation started from the observation that the Man of the Shroud’s right arm appears to be six centimeters longer than the left one. The two scholars attribute this apparent anomaly to a fracture in the elbow or a dislocation in the shoulder, which is compatible with a crucifixion. They also took into account that the arms would have had to be forcibly bent to overcome the stiffness of the body at the time of burial.

The upper part of the arms and shoulders are no longer visible on the the Shroud because of damage caused by a fire in 1532, when the linen cloth was kept in Chambéry, in the chapel of the castle of the Dukes of Savoy. The six-centimeter difference between the right and left arm is therefore not immediately apparent to the naked eye.

But today, thanks to science and technology, researchers have reconstructed the entire section. Dr. Marchisio used CAT scanner at the Institute of Radiology in Turin, and a 32-year-old male volunteer with an athletic build similar to the man of the Shroud, to reconstruct the missing parts through an overlapping of images.    

“The CT scan allows a perfect reproduction of the body, allowing us to reconstruct the missing parts without the subjectivity inherent in artistic creation,” Marchisio said. “The CT underscores the inconsistency of the position of the shoulders and hands, a further element that supports the hypothesis that the man of the Shroud was really crucified.”

‘Absolutely realistic’

Dr. Marchisio and Dr. Ballone also confirmed that the bloodstains on the Shroud of Turin are “absolutely realistic,” after a study last July questioned their authenticity.  

The researchers also identified the exact point at which a lance pierced the victim’s side. They were thus able to identify the organs that were injured, “releasing an accumulation of blood in the pleural cavity,” i.e. the thin fluid-filled space between the two pulmonary pleurae of each lung.  

Marchisio explained that “the blood mainly ran down on the right side, along a the channel formed by the arm contiguous to the body up to the elbow, and then it collected to form the belt of blood in the lumbar region.”

“The anatomical relations revealed by the reconstruction of the missing parts confirm it: it is the demonstration of the extraordinary nature and the coherence of the Shroud,” the researcher said. “The more one studies it, the more surprises it holds.”

Dating debunked 

Sceptics have claimed that the Shroud of Turin is a medieval forgery, a hoax perpetrated by a clever artist. But Italian researchers have also discredited a 1988 study that dated the Shroud to the Middle Ages. 

The findings of another study conducted by Dr. Bollone, together with Grazia Mattutino, a criminologist of the Institute of Forensic Medicine of Turin, who has worked on important cases of judicial reporting, is also forthcoming. 

The Turin Institute has kept some of the threads of the Shroud taken during research investigations in 1978. Analysis of these samples identified particles of gold, silver and lead on the linen, that came from its contact with the reliquary that housed the Holy Shroud. A type of algae was also identified, which may have been in the water used to extinguish the Chambéry fire. Mites, pollen, and particles from car pollution were also identified on the linen. 

For centuries the Shroud had been kept in a case that was neither watertight nor up to modern standards for preservation.  

Given the conditions through which the Shroud has passed, the Italian research team concluded that the carbon-testing conducted in 1988, which dated the Shroud’s origins to between 1260 and 1390, was not valid. They argue that the samples were taken from a very polluted corner which was also restored. 

Dr. Alan D. Adler, a biochemist and member of the Shroud Conservation Commission, analyzed 15 fibers extracted from the Shroud sample used for the carbon-dating. After a comparison with 19 fibers from various other areas of the Shroud, Adler found such a high degree of pollution on the sample used for radiocarbon dating that he concluded it is not representative of the entire shroud.

The Holy Shroud, measuring 15 feet long by 4 feet wide and bearing the image of what appears to be a crucified man’s body believed by many to be Jesus of Nazareth, is housed in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy.

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Cardinal Burke speaking at the Rome Life Forum in Rome, May 2018.
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Cdl. Burke: Fr. James Martin is ‘not coherent’ with Church teaching on homosexuality

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By Martin Barillas
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Fr. James Martin at Boston College, 2014. Youtube.

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LACROSSE, January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the Church's top defenders of Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality, said that celebrity Jesuit priest and Vatican consultant Fr. James Martin “is not coherent with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.” 

In a Jan. 10 interview with Don Fier of The Wanderer, Burke also rebuked bishops who promote the Jesuit priest within their dioceses. This indicates, he said, “that there is a serious difficulty within the hierarchy that must be addressed.”

Martin has come under fire for his speeches in which he advocates for what his critics say is the normalization of homosexuality within the Catholic Church. The editor-at-large of the Jesuit-run America magazine has been invited to numerous U.S. dioceses where he gives his pro-LGBT message. 

At the November meeting of Catholic bishops in Baltimore, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Texas questioned whether his brother bishops believed that homosexual acts are, in fact, immoral, and if so, why certain bishops have allowed a homosexualist message to be preached in their dioceses. “There’s a priest that travels around now basically saying that he doesn’t [believe the doctrine of the Church],” Strickland said, “and he seems to be very well promoted in various places.” He added, “Brothers, I think part of the fraternal correction, or the fraternal support, we offer each other is to say, 'Can that be presented in our diocese? That same-sex ‘marriage’ is just fine, and the Church will one day grow to understand that.'”

To the applause of some of the bishops, Strickland said, “It’s part of our Deposit of Faith that we believe homosexual activity is immoral.”

While Strickland refrained from naming the priest in question, the description fits with LGBT-affirming Father Martin, author of “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.” The book was received widely among liberals. It was endorsed by Cardinals Kevin Farrell and Joseph Tobin, as well as San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy. The latter has written that criticisms of Martin are a “cancer” in the Church.

Burke, however, explicitly named Martin in the Jan. 11 interview. He was responding to the question about whether there is an attempt within Church circles to soften Catholic teachings about homosexuality as cited in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, changing the words “intrinsically disordered” to “differently ordered” as they apply to homosexual acts. 

The Cardinal said that such a change is not possible. 

“God did not make us to engage in sexual relations between two people of the same sex,” he said. 

Burke said that while the “majority” of U.S. bishops are not in favor of changing the Catechism on homosexuality, there are “pressure groups” who have power to drive the body towards positions opposed by individual bishops. Saying that there is an “element that is not coherent with the Church” teaching on homosexuality, Burke identified them with those who “promote Fr. James Martin SJ.”

Burke is not the first Prince of the Church to specifically name Fr. Martin and warn about his teachings. 

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, rebuked Martin in an August 2017 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. The revered Guinean churchman identified Martin as “one of the most outspoken critics of the church’s message with regard to sexuality.” 

“He repeats the common criticism that Catholics have been harshly critical of homosexuality, while neglecting the importance of sexual integrity among all of its followers,” Cardinal Sarah wrote. 

In addition, Archbishop Charles Chaput also criticized Martin in a July 2017 column. While saying that persons with “same-sex attractions” must be treated with “respect, compassion and sensitivity,” Chaput said that neither Martin or other Church leaders have a license to ignore the Bible’s word on sexuality. Reviewing Martin’s book, Chaput wrote, “What the text regrettably lacks is an engagement with the substance of what divides faithful Christians from those who see no sin in active same-sex relationships.”

Appearing at the World Conference of Families last August, Martin argued that “LGBT people should be invited into parish ministries: eucharistic ministers, music ministers, lectors, bereavement ministry, and every ministry.”

Martin’s defenders include pro-LGBT Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, and others. 

Fr. Martin appears to have counted Pope Francis among his possible supporters. Telling the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice in June 2018 that “things are changing” in the Church regarding homosexuality, Martin told listeners, “...Just look at what has happened in the last five years--since Pope Francis has been elected.” He identified Francis’s comment, “Who am I to judge” as the pope’s most famous words, adding that they happened to be “about gay people, right?” 

“He’s the first pope to use the word ‘gay’, you know, in a sentence,” Martin continued. Claiming that the pope has relationships with persons who identify as LGBT, Martin also claimed that the pontiff has appointed bishops and cardinals who promote the homosexuality agenda.

“He has gay friends. He’s talked about wanting gay people to feel welcome in the Church. That’s a big deal. He has also appointed gay-friendly bishops and archbishops and cardinals, like Cardinal Tobin, the archbishop of Newark who, for example, held a ‘Welcome Mass’ for LGBT people in his Cathedral… So that’s one trend,” Martin said.

Note: Follow LifeSite's new Catholic twitter account to stay up to date on all Church-related news. Click here: @LSNCatholic

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News, ,

Liberals panic as White House prepares for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s possible retirement

Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The political world is abuzz with rumors that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may soon resign from the U.S. Supreme Court, potentially sparking the most intense fight yet over President Donald Trump’s third nominee to the nation’s highest court.

The 85-year-old Ginsburg said last summer she intends to remain on the court for “at least five more years,” and has previously declared that she’ll “do this job as long as I can do it full steam.”

Speculation about her future took on renewed fervor this week after she missed oral arguments for the first time in 25 years. Ginsburg was discharged from a New York hospital on Christmas day after having two cancerous growths removed from her left lung. Doctors said they found no “evidence of any remaining disease.”

Dr. Raja Flores of Mount Sinai Medical Center reassured MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday evening that Ginsburg’s absence was “completely routine” for such a taxing surgery, and that “she’ll be back in full form, I’d say within a month.” Nevertheless, Politico reports that the Trump administration is quietly urging conservative groups to prepare for her departure in the near future.

The White House "is taking the temperature on possible short-list candidates, reaching out to key stakeholders, and just making sure that people are informed on the process," a source told Politico anonymously. "They're doing it very quietly, of course, because the idea is not to be opportunistic, but just to be prepared so we aren't caught flat-footed."

Though unconfirmed, speculation intensified further still when a handful of verified conservative Twitter accounts began reporting murmurs that an announcement about Ginsburg’s retirement could come as soon as today.

If Ginsburg does retire during Trump’s tenure, it’s expected to set off one of the most intense political battles in recent memory. Ginsburg is a left-wing jurist who has notoriously ruled for abortion and against employers’ conscience rights, as well as for same-sex “marriage” despite calls to recuse herself on the issue because she’s personally officiated several such “weddings.”

Notably, Ginsburg has repeatedly voted to uphold Roe v. Wade despite admitting in 1985 that it was legally dubious and culturally divisive.

Roe, I believe, would have been more acceptable as a judicial decision if it had not gone beyond a ruling on the extreme statute before the court,” she wrote in the North Carolina Law Review. “Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.”

The debate over Trump’s first nominee Neil Gorsuch was bitter, but largely conventional as he was replacing another conservative in the late Antonin Scalia. But Brett Kavanaugh, his nominee to replace liberal swing vote Anthony Kennedy, sparked a much harsher battle up to and including last-minute, uncorroborated claims that Kavanaugh had assaulted several women.

Replacing Ginsburg, a pro-abortion “feminist” icon and the subject of a lionizing, just-released film, is certain to be even more inflammatory. Abortion advocates are already displaying signs of panic, with Politico columnist Roger Simon going so far as to muse about liberals hypothetically donating parts of their own lifespan to extend hers:

Of particular concern for conservatives will be whether the president names a reliable pro-life jurist to replace Ginsburg. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh have generally pleased conservatives so far, though it’s unknown how either would vote on Roe and Kavanaugh recently alarmed pro-lifers by voting not to hear Kansas and Louisiana’s case on cutting Planned Parenthood from Medicaid.

The general consensus among pro-life and conservative activists is that Trump’s best choice would be Amy Coney Barrett, a pro-life originalist who has criticized excessive deference to precedent. The president already named Barrett to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017; during her confirmation hearings several Democrats attacked her for, in California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s words, the fact that the Catholic faith “lives loudly in you.” Republicans gained Senate seats in the midterm elections, meaning Trump won't have to worry about winning the votes of pro-abortion Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins.

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News,

LifeSite wants to hear from YOU!

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By LSN

Happy New Year!

2019 is off to a great start here at LifeSiteNews. We’ve never been as confident about our pro-family, pro-life mission as we are today.

I wanted to reach out to you to ask a favor. And that is, do you have an idea or tip for a news story? Or maybe you have an awesome idea for a petition?

We want to hear from you!

Hi, my name is Scott Schittl and I’m new to LifeSite. I work on our petitions site - LifePetitions.com. You’ll be seeing my name a lot more in the coming months and years! 

But right now, I want to hear from YOU!

Please click on the link below to leave me a message about a tip for a story or a new petition topic.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE

I will personally review every message! And, I want to thank you, in advance, for taking the time to write.

LifeSite is a family, and we listen to our family members.

Of course, we also appreciate it when you SHARE our petitions and stories with your like-minded friends, family, and colleagues.

Have you seen some of our recent LifePetitions, which encourage decision-makers to support our causes and those people who publicly champion them?

  • Over 12,000 people recently signed our petition to get a Christian businessman released from jail.

  • And, over 3,000 people signed our petition to the Bishops of the World, encouraging them to speak out courageously on the crisis under Pope Francis

Maybe you have an idea for a petition or story which you'd like to share? Just CLICK on the link below and send us a message.

We want to write the petitions and stories which matter to you!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE

Even if you don’t have a story or petition proposal, please consider signing the above petitions if you haven’t already.

Then, please share the same with your like-minded friends and family.

Thank you for your help, and I look forward to working with, and for, you in the months and years ahead.

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News, ,

Franciscan U apologizes after first defending pornographic book that blasphemed Our Lady

Martin M. Barillas Martin M. Barillas Follow Martin
By Martin Barillas

STEUBENVILLE, January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Franciscan University of Steubenville (FUS) has apologized for asking students to read a pornographic novel that blasphemously depicted the Virgin Mary and Jesus. The letter came after the university had at first defended the novel on academic grounds.

University president Father Sean Sheridan wrote in the letter that he was unaware that English professor Stephen Lewis had assigned The Kingdom by French atheist Emmanuel Carrère. Sheridan wrote that the blasphemous book “is not currently and will never again be assigned” for students at the university. Prof. Lewis is the chairman of the English literature department at FUS. 

In an earlier email to Church Militant, university spokesman Tom Sofio defended FUS by writing that it arms students with the "knowledge and wisdom to confront the challenges of a coarse modern culture." This comes with studying ancient and medieval writers, and also the moderns, wrote Sofio. "Where would we be," he wrote, if Catholics are not able to push back against books like The DaVinci Code and dangerous heresies and heterodoxies. The university, he wrote, stands firm in "providing the integration of faith and reason that will give them the best chance at lifelong success."

The Kingdom: A Novel has sold hundreds of thousands of copies in French, and has been heralded by secularists in the U.S. and UK as a great work of literature. Author Carrère seeks to explain his own life through pornographic images and fantasies set in the first one hundred years after Christ that involve even the Virgin Mary. 

Fr. Sheridan wrote that Lewis had selected The Kingdom in an elective class for upperclassmen to “contrast how Catholics and non-Catholics approach faith in literature” and to prepare them for exchanges with secularists. While defending Lewis, Sheridan said that the book is “so directly pornographic and blasphemous” that it should not be on a Catholic campus. "I have directed our chief academic officer,” he wrote, and the Faculty Standards Committee, “to immediately review and revise our existing policy on academic freedom to prevent future use of scandalous materials." Sheridan did not mention any sanctions to be imposed on Lewis, who chairs the department of English.

Well-known FUS theologian and author Scott Hahn commented on Facebook that he was thankful for Father Sheridan’s “heartfelt” response and that “first and foremost” it included an apology to Jesus and the Virgin Mary. This came after an earlier Facebook message to Janness Abraham, obtained by Church Militant, in which Hahn wrote that academic freedom “should not be exercised in a vacuum” but must serve the truth rather than “serve as a license for perversity and sacrilege. Assigning this book was irresponsible and imprudent. Defending it is unwise and wrongheaded. Please pray for our university."

In an extensive interview with LifeSiteNews, Hahn repeated his request for prayers for the university he has served for nearly 30 years. The noted scholar and author, who travels widely to Catholic conferences, said that while he respects Professor Lewis as a colleague, he disagrees “vehemently” with the assignment of the controversial book by Carrère. Hahn, like the other faculty members contacted by LifeSiteNews, was not aware of any academic sanctions that might be imposed on Lewis as a result of the controversy. Hahn noted that his theology colleague, John Bergsma, is on the Faculty Standards Committee to review the university’s academic freedom policy. 

However, Hahn said that as a “colleague and a friend” he would have advised Lewis against using Carrère’s book. “It’s one thing with violence, sexual themes, and that sort of thing, but when it applies to the Blessed Virgin then you have crossed at least one significant line if not others.” Hahn said that while he respects Lewis for his scholarship, he disagrees with him vehemently. “He may be sincere, but he is sincerely wrong.” Lewis’ academic interests include the erotic. He contributed “A Law without Flesh: Reading Erotic Phenomena” in Le Très-Haut, which appeared in Clandestine encounters : philosophy in the narratives of Maurice Blanchot and edited by Kevin Hart.

According to a faculty member contacted by LifeSiteNews, it was a “gut punch” to learn that Lewis assigned The Kingdom. The professor, who wished to remain anonymous, said that colleagues would like to know why Lewis exposed students to such “vile, treacherous” literature. Professors at a Catholic university, the professor said, should be feeding “bread, not stones” to students, in a Biblical reference. Upperclassmen in the literature department might be better off with exposure to Dante or modern Catholic writers, rather than questionable literature that advances the LGBTQ agenda, suggested the professors.

Having expressed satisfaction with Father Sheridan’s apology, FUS theology professor John Bergsma wrote that the “vast majority” of his colleagues would find Carrere’s book “abhorrent” and that Lewis “probably also considers it abhorrent.” In his Facebook post, Bergsma theorizes that Lewis may have assigned the book as a “representative of some of the debased literature that has become fashionable in Europe” to which students should be exposed in order to know what is “really going on in the world of literature.” However, Bergsma wrote, “I do not think it necessary to expose students to obscenity, pornography, and blasphemy.” Citing the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, Bergsma notes “‘It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.’”

This is not the first time a Franciscan University faculty member has come under the spotlight. “Pro-life feminist” Rebecca Bratten Weiss, co-founder of the New Pro-Life Movement (NPLM), was the subject of a 2017 LifeSiteNews report for her "outspoken radical feminist" positions. Weiss taught for several years at the university in its Department of English and, as LifeSiteNews reported, had "close ties to Steubenville English Department chair Stephen E. Lewis."

Some FUS faculty members worry about the direction the university is taking through such hires. For example, Professor Timothy Williams wrote in an October Facebook post noted by Church Militant that “excellent and faithful” professors have been denied tenure recently, while writers for the university’s Veritas Center have been “attacked publicly” and left undefended “on orders of the administration.” He wrote that FUS is “not a university” he would recommend for employment.

At The Remnant website, Williams wrote that he is concerned about the “erosion of free speech” at FUS and the reprimands meted out by administrators for faculty who criticize Pope Francis. “Several of us on the faculty who have been critical of Pope Francis - imagine that!” he wrote, “have been reprimanded by the administration, to one degree or another.”

***

Father Sheridan’s letter to the FUS community:

Dear Franciscan University Family:

I would like to apologize for the use of Emmanuel Carrere's book, The Kingdom, in an advanced literature course at Franciscan University last spring. Above all, I would like to apologize to Our Blessed Mother and Her Son, and to anyone who has been scandalized because of this incident. While I believe the professor's intention in using this book in his class was not malicious, the book is scandalous and extremely offensive. I assure that I was unaware that the book was being used at the time and that The Kingdom is not currently and will never again be assigned reading in any class at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

The professor selected The Kingdom for use in one elective class with five upperclassmen as a tool to contrast how Catholics and non-Catholics approach faith in literature and to prepare the students for challenging conversations with people think like Carrere. Again, the professor did not intend to scandalize, but The Kingdom is so directly pornographic and blasphemous that it has not place on a Catholic university campus. I regret that the University's earlier statement did not make this clear.

A Catholic education should prepare students to stand for the truth of the Catholic faith and to do battle against the blasphemy and heresy rife in our culture today. To do so, they must be equipped with a firm knowledge of Catholic Church teaching as well as a thorough understanding of the views and philosophies of their opponents. Professors must weigh the benefits and risks of exposing their students to the works of those who oppose the Church. They must walk the fine line between underpreparing their students for the might tasks ahead and overexposing them to material that may cause them spiritual harm.

Preparing students to confront challenges to their faith is certainly an important part of the education and formation we strive to provide. This approach has marvelously prepared thousands of Franciscan University students to fight for their faith in the media, the arts, the political and business arenas, the sciences - indeed, to evangelize every facet of our culture. But Franciscan University annot, and will not, jeopardize our students' moral and spiritual development in doing so.

I have directed our chief academic officer, Dr. Daniel Kempton, and our Faculty Standards Committee to immediately review and revise our existing policy on academic freedom to prevent future use of scandalous materials.

I ask your prayers for Franciscan University of Steubenville. By God's grace, forgiveness, and the loving intercession of our beloved Blessed Mother Mary, we will ever more faithfully carry out our mission and help our students succeed spiritually, morally, and intellectually.

In Christ and St. Francis,

Father Sean O. Sheridan TOR

President

Franciscan University of Steubenville

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Sandro Magister

Opinion, ,

Pope Francis promoting problematic Argentina cleric has now come back to haunt him

Sandro Magister
By

January 11, 2018 (L'Espresso) – Tough times for the new squad of the pope's press agents. The first public statement that Alessandro Gisotti, the new director of the press office of the Holy See, released after embarking on his role concerns the case of an Argentine bishop (in the photo) who is in danger of smashing to smithereens the strategy that Francis has adopted for addressing the question of sexual abuse committed by sacred ministers.

It is the strategy that also inspires the letter that the pope sent at the new year to the bishops of the United States gathered for spiritual exercises in view of the summit that will bring to Rome from February 21 to 24 the presidents of all the episcopal conferences of the world.

In this letter as well, in fact, as he had previously done with the bishops of Chile, Francis places himself on the side of the powerless and the victims of power, meaning the innocent "people of God," against the clerical caste that indeed abuses sex, but in his judgment abuses more than anything else and first of all nothing other than "power."

It doesn't matter that in the case of Chile Francis himself was the one who, to the very end and against all the evidence, defended the innocence of bishops whom he finally had to acknowledge as being guilty. Nor does it matter that in the case of the United States he stands accused of having given cover and honors to a cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, in spite of knowing about his reprehensible homosexual activity. In both cases Francis absolved himself either by blaming those who had advised him badly or by refusing to respond to those who – like former nuncio in the United States, Carlo Maria Viganò – personally called him to account. And also at the summit at the end of February he was getting ready to reproduce this typically populist dynamic, with himself in the guise of purifier of a clerical caste soiled by power.

But now that the case of Argentine bishop Gustavo Óscar Zanchetta has exploded, all of that becomes more difficult for the pope.

* * *

The case was brought up on Christmas Day by the Argentine newspaper "El Tribuno," breaking the news that three priests of the diocese of Orán had reported their bishop, Zanchetta, to the apostolic nuncio for sexual abuse against a dozen seminarians, and also that for this reason, on August 1 of 2017, the pope had removed the bishop from the diocese.

In replying on January 4 to this news and to the resulting questions from journalists, Vatican press office director Gisotti stated that Zanchetta "was not removed," but that "it was he who resigned"; that the accusations of sexual abuse "go back to this autumn" and not before; that the results of the investigation underway in Argentina "have yet to arrive at the congregation for bishops"; and that in any case "during the preliminary investigation Bishop Zanchetta will abstain from the work" that he currently performs at the Vatican, as assessor for the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

Meanwhile, this suspension from work imposed on Zanchetta already leads one to think that at the Vatican the accusations of sexual abuse are viewed as serious. But even leaving aside the date on which these accusations are said to have been forwarded to the competent ecclesiastical authorities – in autumn of 2018 according to the Vatican press office, in 2015 according to what was reconfirmed by "El Tribuno" – it is the entire affair of this bishop that puts the behavior of Pope Francis in a bad light.

When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected successor of Peter, Zanchetta was an ordinary priest – who was however well known to him, in that for years he had been executive undersecretary of the Argentine episcopal conference headed by Bergoglio himself, known and also appreciated, to the point that Zanchetta was one of the very first Argentines whom the new pope promoted as bishop, on his own initiative, bypassing all canonical procedure, on July 23, 2013, at the head of the diocese of Orán, in the north of the country.

But Zanchetta didn't last long as bishop of Orán because of "very strained relations with the priests of the diocese," which earned him "accusations of authoritarianism" and made manifest his "inability to govern," the Holy See now recognizes, according to the statements from Gisotti.

The fact is that on July 29, 2017, Zanchetta suddenly disappeared, without any farewell Mass and without any goodbye to his priests and faithful. He only made it known, from an unspecified location, that he had health problems that needed urgent care elsewhere and that he had just returned to Rome, where he had placed his mandate back in the hands of Pope Francis – who very promptly, on August 1, accepted his resignation.

Zanchetta was for a brief time the guest of the bishop of the diocese of Corrientes, 500 miles to the south, Andrés Stanovnik, the same one who had ordained him, only to reappear in Spain, in Madrid, apparently in good health.

Curiously, the capital of Spain is the destination to which Francis had directed two years before, in 2015, the Chilean bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid – before promoting him as bishop of Osorno against the opinion of the higher-ups of the Chilean Church and of the nunciature – for a month of spiritual exercises preached by the famous Spanish Jesuit Germán Arana, one of the pope's most influential advisors in many episcopal appointments, and in this case a tenacious defender of the innocence of Barros, who had already been hit with very weighty accusations of sexual abuse.

The fact is that Zanchetta's trip to Madrid was also the prelude to his promotion by Bergoglio, who on December 19, 2017 called him to the Vatican to do nothing less than manage the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, APSA, in the new and tailor-made role of "assessor."

The APSA is the true mainstay of the Vatican administration. In addition to possessing substantial liquid and illiquid assets, it plays a role that is comparable to that of a central bank, so much so that the financial reorganization of the Holy See that Francis entrusted at the beginning of his pontificate to Australian cardinal George Pell had none other than the APSA at the heart of the reform. But then Pell was forced to abandon the undertaking, his reform did not come into port and the APSA became the landing place for characters devoid of administrative competence, who failed in their previous roles, but whom Bergoglio wanted to keep close by, his friends and protégés. The latest case is that of Archbishop Nunzio Galantino, formerly the controversial secretary general of the Italian episcopal conference and now the president of the APSA.

When Zanchetta left Orán, the Argentine media described the financial disorder in which he had left the diocese. But that did not disturb in the least his promotion to the ASPSA "in consideration of his administrative managerial capacity," as pontifical spokesman Gisotti made a point of saying in his statement of last January 4, before asserting that in any case "no accusation of sexual abuse had emerged at the time of [his] appointment as assessor."

Whether it is true or not that the accusations instead date back to 2015, as reiterated by the Argentine press in reporting the words of the authors of the charge, the fact remains that the treatment reserved by Pope Francis for Zanchetta is astonishing, on account of the incredible lack of "discernment" in evaluating the person, repeatedly promoted to prominent positions in spite of his evident unreliability.

Not an isolated case – but one that suffices on its own to contradict the postulate of the unfamiliarity and innocence of Pope Francis in the face of the abuses of power, rather than of sex as he puts it, by the clerical caste.

The risk is that the summit scheduled at the Vatican from February 21 to 24 – in terms of how it will reverberate in public opinion – may find Bergoglio not in the role of unspotted guide, but himself as well in the dock of those guilty of having tolerated and covered up abuse.

This article originally appeared in L'Espresso. It is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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Susan Lane

Opinion,

Time to acknowledge our culture’s rising hatred of men

Susan Lane
By Susan Lane

January 11, 2018 (American Thinker) – The time has come for all good people to wake up to the long dormant virus of misandry – prejudice or contempt for males. It is lurking in our closets and under our beds and has proliferated and made itself glaringly public in a most obnoxious way. The Kavanaugh hearings exposed this virulent menace that has been hiding in plain sight when Senator Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, took the platform and in a no-holds-barred blast of venom and hate told the men of this country they need to "shut up and step up." 

Amid a reaction of shock and awe, the cat was out of the bag, the genie out of the bottle, the Jack-in-the-Box sprung; she had just given a loud, strident voice to a vile temperament growing in this country. Misandry has been kept under wraps but proliferates more every day – women openly hating men.

We're all familiar with the recent bevy of misandrists who made themselves prominent in the last election by introducing us to nouns that had us searching for their meanings...recited in a deadpan, monotone. Hillary Clinton would begin the sing-song litany at every whistle stop: "racist, homophobe, xenophobe, sexist, Islamophobe, misogynist..." Am I missing anybody? Oh, yeah: misandrists! But only flagellants would confess to this.

Gaining traction, misandrists abound and are spreading their tentacles onto hallowed ground. Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright caught people by surprise when she blatantly said, "There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women." 

Adding fuel to the growing conflagration, Hillary Clinton said on a recent trip abroad that white, married women voted against her because the men in their lives told them to. Sen. Hirono and her pal Kamala Harris, D-Calif., suggested in questions last month that attorney Brian Buescher may be unfit to serve as a federal judge because he's a member of a Catholic fraternal organization. In questions submitted to Buescher, nominee to the U.S. District Court of Nebraska, the pair sought more information on his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus, a charitable fraternal organization of which he has been a member for 25 years. 

Harris pointed out that the Knights, founded in 1882, are an "all-male society comprised [sic] primarily of Catholic men" and asked:

  • Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman's right to choose when you joined the organization?
  • Have you ever, in any way, assisted with or contributed to advocacy against women's reproductive rights?
  • Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed marriage equality when you joined the organization?

Had enough? OK, not to be outdone, Hirono doubled down.

  • If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid the appearance of bias?
  • If confirmed, will you recuse yourself from all cases in which the Knights of Columbus has taken a position?
  • Given your membership in this organization, what assurances can litigants have that you will deal with reproductive rights and abortion issues fairly and impartially?

So there you have it, folks. These misandrists are now hiding behind their mirage of hatred of men in the name of jurisprudence, and it appears we now have another definition to add to that exhaustive list that Hillary loves to chant: "Christophobe."

The turning point that misandrists are ignoring is that women are in charge of their own lives, know what they like and dislike, and are not afraid to speak out for their beliefs. When the misandrists attack men, they are forgetting that the majority of women still love their men and will fight to preserve their way of life. Women have sons, husbands, grandfathers, uncles, nephews, and many other male friends in their lives and are richer for it. Misandrist politicians attack, belittle, demean, and disrespect men at their own peril.

Misandrists will never further the cause or win any races, because the hatred is so misbegotten and the cause so aberrant.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

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Pope Francis with Islamist Turkish president Recep Erdogan
William Kilpatrick

Opinion, ,

Pope Francis’s advocacy for Islam could destroy Europe

William Kilpatrick
By William Kilpatrick

January 11, 2018 (Turning Point Project) – Two young Scandinavian women who were hiking in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco were found dead in mid-December in their tent. The ISIS terrorists later posted a video of themselves decapitating one of the victims.

The mother of one of the women told reporters, "Her priority was safety. The girls had taken all precautionary measures before embarking on this trip."

"Except," as Robert Spencer commented in Jihad Watch, "that it no doubt didn't even occur to them that what they thought they knew about Morocco's religion and culture might be inaccurate and designed to whitewash Islam, leaving them ill-informed about a threat that they actually did end up facing."

If one depended on the European media and European schools for one's knowledge of Islam, one would indeed come away with a misleading picture of Islam. But the same could be said of Catholics who rely on Church pronouncements about Islam. Ever since the Second Vatican Council, Church leaders have presented a smiley-faced version of Islam which emphasizes the commonalities with Catholicism and leaves out the alarming elements.

Over the last six years, the chief proponent of this bowdlerized view of Islam has been Pope Francis. He has reassured Christians that Islam is opposed to violence, advised Muslim migrants to find comfort in the Koran, and has portrayed terrorists as betrayers of true Islam.

More significantly, he has become perhaps the world's foremost spokesman for an open-borders, let-everyone-in policy toward immigration. Seemingly indifferent to the increasingly dangerous situation created by jihad-minded Muslims in Europe, Francis has encouraged a welcoming attitude toward all while scolding opponents of mass migration as fearful and xenophobic.

In short, Pope Francis has acted as an advocate for Islam. He has portrayed it as a religion of peace, the moral equivalent of Catholicism, and a force for good. A number of people, however, now feel that the pope has seriously misled Christians about the nature and goals of Islam and Islamic immigration. Like the teachers and other cultural elites who left the two Scandinavian women "ill-informed about a threat that they actually did end up facing," Pope Francis, by whitewashing Islam, has left millions of Christians unprepared for the escalating threat that is now facing them.

The analogy between the misinformed Scandinavian friends and misinformed Europeans breaks down in one respect: No one forced the young women to travel to Morocco. They went there of their own accord. It's one thing to invite yourself into the high mountains of Morocco and take your chances, but it's quite another thing altogether to invite Morocco into Europe and let ordinary Europeans bear the consequences. This is what the European elites – with much encouragement from Francis – have done.

The combination of high Muslim birth rates, mass Muslim migration, and European concessions to Islam's blasphemy laws has set Europe on a course toward Islamization. Islamization, in turn, will spell dhimmitude for Christians. As the Islamic influence grows, Christians will be subject to increasing restrictions on the practice of their faith, perhaps even to the point of persecution. It's possible that Christianity in Europe will be exterminated.

Is Francis Naïve about Islam?
The pope has done much to promote the cause of Islam – so much so that he has been praised by Islamic leaders for his defense of their faith. The questions that then arise are these: Is Francis aware of the possibility that Islam will become dominant in Europe? Is he aware that this may spell the end of European Christianity? And if he is aware, does he care?

For a long time, I thought that Francis was simply naïve regarding Islam. His counterfactual statements about Islam and his Pollyannaish view of mass Muslim migration must, I thought, be the result either of blissful ignorance or of bad advice from "experts," or a combination of both.

Now, however, I have my doubts. The catalyst for these doubts is Francis's approach to the current sex-abuse crisis. I originally supposed that he was naïve about this, too: perhaps he didn't realize the full extent of the problem or the full extent of the cover-ups, or perhaps he wasn't aware of the numerous lavender networks in seminaries, in dioceses, and in the Vatican itself. But in light of recent revelations, it no longer seems possible to give him the benefit of the doubt. In several cases, he not only knew of the crimes and cover-ups, but took steps to protect and/or promote those involved. Francis seems determined to push through a revolution in doctrine and morals – what he calls "a radical paradigm shift" – and it doesn't seem to matter that the men he has chosen to help him achieve his goals are the ones most deeply implicated in the scandals. By all accounts, Pope Francis is a "hands-on" pope who knows exactly what he wants, carefully calculates his moves, and leaves little to chance.

Why, then, should we suppose Francis is completely naïve about the extent of the threat from Islam and from Islamic immigration? It's difficult to imagine that he isn't fully aware of the widespread persecution of Christians in Muslim lands. And it's just as difficult to think that he's ignorant of the Islamic crime wave on his own doorstep – the escalating incidence of rape, riots, and terrorist attacks in Europe. Does he really believe that such things have nothing to do with Islam?

Unless one assumes that Francis is ignorant of history and out of touch with current events, one must entertain the possibility that – to repeat a favorite slogan of his – he wants to "make a mess" in Europe.

But why? Why risk the damage to the Church that would surely follow on the Islamization of Europe? Doesn't Francis care about the Church? Increasingly, it seems that he does not. This is to say that he doesn't have much use for the "old" Church – the one that was handed down by the apostles, and which has now become too narrow and tradition-bound to suit his liberal tastes.

The Fluid Church of the Future
What he does care about is the new Church of the future – a Church of openness, inclusiveness, and fluidity. Led by the Spirit and free of bothersome dogma, this liberated Church would be able to adjust to the changing needs of the times. If one reads between the lines, this is what Francis and those around him seem to desire.

Indeed, one needn't bother to read between the lines. In the words of Fr. Thomas Rosica, a media advisor to the Vatican: "Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is free of disordered attachments." Moreover, "Our Church has indeed entered a new phase. With the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture."

And this is from Francis himself speaking at a conference on Church closings:

The observation that many churches, which until a few years ago were necessary, are now no longer thus, due to a lack of faithful and clergy ... should be welcomed in the Church not with anxiety, but as a sign of the times that invites us to reflection and requires us to adapt.

Translation: Francis is not particularly concerned about church closings. Perhaps he even thinks of them as a blessing, i.e., a necessary end to the old order of things that will clear the way for the construction of the new order.

What is this new order? In many respects, it resembles the new world order envisioned by politicians and academics on the left. Like them, Francis has a dim view of national borders and national sovereignty, and, like them, he has an almost unquestioning belief in the benefits of international institutions. One gets the impression that Francis would be quite content to let the U.N. run the world, despite the fact that the U.N. is increasingly run by leftists and Islamists. For example, Francis has praised the U.N.'s Global Compact for Migration because he believes that immigration should be governed globally rather than by individual nations.

How does this relate to Christianity and Islam? Just as Francis seems to favor a one-world government, he also seems to be drawn by the vision of a one-world religion. He hasn't said so in so many words, but he has given several indications that he envisions an eventual blending of religions. This would not be the "one flock, one shepherd" Church that Christ spoke of but something a bit more diverse.

One way to achieve this unity in diversity is by deemphasizing doctrine. Doctrinal differences are, after all, the main dividing line between different faiths. Thus, by downplaying the importance of doctrine – something he has done fairly consistently throughout his papacy – it's probable that Francis hopes to smooth the path to interreligious harmony. Just as Francis disapproves of borders between nations, it's quite likely that he looks upon borders between religions as artificial and unnecessarily divisive.

Indifferentism
This is speculation, of course, but it's not sheer speculation. As George Neumayr points out in The Political Pope, Francis frequently shows signs of indifferentism – i.e., the belief that all religions are of equal value. For example, when speaking of the murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel by two jihadists, he drew a moral equivalence between Islam and Christianity, saying, "If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence."

Other signs of his indifferentism are not difficult to find. In 2014, he told a group of Protestants, "I'm not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community." On another occasion, he criticized Pope Benedict's "ordinariate" for Anglicans interested in becoming Catholics by saying that they should remain "as Anglicans." On still other occasions, he has waxed enthusiastic about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation.

Ironically, several examples of his indifferentism can be found in Evangelii Gaudium – ostensibly an exhortation to evangelize. Although the document urges us to spread the joy of the Gospel, it provides a number of reasons why we shouldn't bother. The main reason given is that we already share so many ethical and spiritual values with other faiths that there's no point in converting non-Catholics.

Thus, Evangelii Gaudium leaves the impression that Jews shouldn't be evangelized (an impression that was later explicitly confirmed by the Vatican). Moreover, Francis also seems to exempt Muslims from any need to convert. As I wrote previously in Crisis:

After reading Evangelii Gaudium's positive assessment of Islam, one could be forgiven for concluding that the conversion of Muslims is not an urgent matter. And, indeed, there is no suggestion in the document that Muslims should be evangelized. At the most, Christians should dialogue with Muslims about their "shared beliefs."

Rather than converting others, Francis seems more interested in learning from them. In Evangelii Gaudium and in numerous talks, he frequently extols the "richness" and "wisdom" of other cultures. Whereas Christ commanded his apostles to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...," Francis's message is more along the lines of: "Go therefore and learn the wisdom of other cultures." Francis's attitude toward evangelization can perhaps be summed up in something he said to atheist journalist Eugenio Scalfari: "Proselytism is solemn nonsense."

If this is the case, then Pope Francis probably has no desire to convert the Muslims streaming into Europe. After all, like Evangelicals, Muslims can also "find Jesus in their community." Of course, it's not the same Jesus, but perhaps the resemblance is close enough for someone with scant interest in doctrinal differences. Exactly what, then, does he have in mind by encouraging mass migration into Europe? One possibility, as I suggested earlier, is that he envisions a kind of multicultural blending of religions. But in order for this to happen, it would be necessary for the respective faiths to dilute their doctrinal positions. Pope Francis seems quite willing to do this on the Catholic side. He has already made substantial concessions to the Chinese communist government on the appointment of bishops. He seems willing to alter Church teachings in order to build bridges with the LGBT "community" and other sexual revolutionaries. And, in general, he prefers to be guided by the prompting of the Spirit rather than by the teachings of the Church.

Moreover, he seems more concerned with political and humanitarian goals than with the goal of getting to heaven. As George Neumayr has noted in The Political Pope, when awarded the Charlemagne Prize, Francis "used his acceptance speech not to call for the restoration of Christianity, but for the spread of a 'new European humanism.'" And, as Francis sees it, the main obstacle to achieving these humanitarian goals is the fundamentalist Christians who refuse to integrate with Muslim migrants and, in general, fail to adapt to changing times. Perhaps he thinks that a flood of migrants will force fundamentalists to encounter the "other" and come to terms with their "otherness."

But what about fundamentalist Muslims? A harmonious world religion dedicated to humanitarian ends would require not only a watering-down of Christianity, but also a considerable moderation of Islam. Both in terms of percentages and in absolute numbers, there are far more fundamentalist Muslims in the world than fundamentalist Christians. Francis has acknowledged the existence of fundamentalist Muslims, but he claims that they do not represent "authentic" Islam, and he seems to believe, contrary to much polling data, that they are only a small minority. "All religions have these little groups," he once said.

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?
Whether or not he believes that fundamentalists are a small minority, he seems to have a rough strategy for facilitating the emergence of a more moderate Islam. This strategy is to claim that Islam is already – and always has been – a moderate and peaceful faith. Most notably, he asserted in Evangelii Gaudium that "authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence."

The strategy Francis seems to be employing is referred to by sociologists as a self-fulfilling prophecy. The idea is that if you express high expectations for others, they will endeavor to live up to the expectations and thus fulfill your "prophecy." But, according to Robert K. Merton, the sociologist who coined the term, "the self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation." But the false definition or assumption can evoke "a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true."

Sometimes self-fulfilling prophecies work and sometimes they don't. A lot depends on the awareness of the subject. Young children are more susceptible to such influence, while adults who understand what is being attempted are less so. I recall reading an article on a radical Islamic website which accused Pope Francis of using just such a strategy. I don't remember if the author used the term "self-fulfilling prophecy," but he did complain that the pope was deliberately painting a false but pleasing picture of Islam in order to win Muslims over to a moderate view.

In any event, the self-fulfilling prophecy strategy seems an awfully slender reed upon which to stake the future of the world. For decades now, global leaders have been assuring us that Islam means peace, that violence has nothing to do with Islam, and that the vast majority of Muslims are moderate. Yet most of the evidence suggests that the Western "prophecy" about Islam's pacific nature is not working. With some notable exceptions, moderates have been losing ground, while fundamentalists are in the ascendancy.

Just as he has little anxiety about the wave of church closings, Francis seems to have little anxiety about the Islamization of Europe. Indeed, as evidenced by his encouragement of mass migration, he seems to have no objection to Islamization.

Either because he truly believes the false narrative that Islam is a religion of peace, or because he believes that the self-fulfilling prophecy strategy will create a more moderate Islam, Francis seems to be at peace with the fact that Islam is spreading rapidly.

Whatever he has in mind, it seems that Pope Francis is betting against the odds. A few weeks ago, those two young Scandinavian women mentioned earlier took a similar gamble when they embarked on a camping trip in Morocco. They were betting their lives on the assumption that the whitewashed narrative of Islam that they had no doubt learned in school and university was the correct one. They lost the "bet." They had – to borrow a line from Casablanca – been "misinformed" about the situation in Morocco.

Whether Francis has been misinformed about Islam or whether he has adopted a strategy of misinformation, he is taking a huge gamble – not only with his own life, but with the lives of millions. When the religion of Muhammad meets the religion of indifferentism, which seems more likely to prevail?

This article originally appeared in the December 31, 2018 edition of Crisis. It is published here with permission from the Turning Point Project.

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These are tough times for the Church and those who write about it

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By Phil Lawler

January 11, 2018 (CatholicCulture.org) – Monday was "one of those days" – a day that found me hating my work, wishing I had some other sort of job.

1. The first blow, and by far the worst, came with the news, released by the Washington Post Monday evening, that an old friend, Father C. J. McCloskey, had been disciplined for sexual misconduct involving a married woman, and that Opus Dei, of which I was once a member, had (not to put too fine a point on it) botched the handling of his case. Father McCloskey has done great things for the Catholic Church, drawing many converts to the faith and encouraging many cradle Catholics like myself to deepen their spiritual lives. The charges against him, however, reinforce my fear that every "celebrity priest" is vulnerable to special temptations, and just one misstep away from scandal.

It's painful to see a friend exposed to public obloquy. It's painful, too, to watch the Washington Post – which has shown only a tepid interest in the charges raised by Archbishop Vigano – in headlong pursuit of a priest who never wielded a fraction of McCarrick's influence. But long ago I resolved that I want to hear all the truth, good and bad. It will be a painful process, exposing all the rot within our Church. But it's the only way to begin the necessary process of reform.

2. Then I happened across several more news stories about the two US Senators (Senators Kamala Harris of California and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii) who cross-examined a judicial nominee about his membership in the Knights of Columbus. The two Democratic lawmakers attacked the KofC as an extremist organization, since the group opposes legal abortion. National Review has run an editorial defending the KofC against the charge of extremism, and Rev. Eugene Rivers, writing in the Wall Street Journal, encouraged non-Catholics to protest this clear violation of the Constitutional bar against any religious test for public office. All to the good. But what bothers me is the knowledge that Senators Harris and Hirono knew what they were doing when they launched their attack: they knew that they would score a few points with their liberal base, without incurring any severe penalty. The Knights, who boast nearly 2 million members, will not make it their business to ensure that Harris and Hirono are defeated when they run for re-election. On America's political scene today, attacks on the Catholic Church, and on its constituent groups, are not punished. And so the attacks continue.

3. Not just in the US, of course. The campaign against Catholic thought is even more aggressive on the other side of the Atlantic. At Oxford University, for instance, students have mounted a petition campaign to oust John Finnis, probably the world's leading natural-law theorist, from his faculty post, because he argues that homosexual acts are immoral. Finnis (who is a professor emeritus anyway) will probably survive this assault on academic freedom. But the petition is a reminder that less prominent academic figures will be under fire if they dare to profess their Catholic faith. In other words, Catholics will pay a price for the public expression of their views, in a way that anti-Catholics will not.

4. But even after all that bad news, I have to confess that what sent me into a tailspin was a statement by Pope Francis. Not because he said anything particularly shocking or objectionable, but because the statement defied rational analysis. Here's the line, from the Pope's message for the World Day of the Sick, that stopped me cold:

Dialogue – the premise of gift – creates possibilities for human growth and development capable of breaking through established ways of exercising power in society.

It's my job to report statements from Rome, and help readers to understand them. But I couldn't tell you what that sentence means, because it's nonsensical. Curious, I checked to see how Vatican Vatican News handled it, and found this:

The Pope also mentioned dialogue – the premise of gift – that, he said, creates possibilities for human growth and development capable of breaking through established ways of exercising power in society.

Well, that doesn't get us much further, does it? It's the same word-salad, without any explanation. Maybe Vatican News couldn't make heads or tails of the sentence, either. I couldn't blame them.

In the end I decided to include the sentence, verbatim, in our CWN news story, and let readers wrestle with it for themselves. That was a coward's choice, I admit. But there are days – and yesterday was one of them – when I just don't have the energy or the inclination to keep offering rational explanations of statements that don't bear rational scrutiny.

After a solid dinner and a good night's sleep, I'm ready to face the world again today. I've braced myself for more bad news; I know it's coming. I'm hoping that loyal Catholics will rally to the defense of Church teaching, and the defense of those who are being put on trial for their faith. The truth is that ordinarily I love my work, and if I can offer some guidance and support to those Catholics who are ready to defend the Church, then I've spent my time well. But I still can't make sense out of nonsense, and I'm no longer willing to try.

Published with permission from CatholicCulture.org.

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Petition against Canadian coin celebrating gay sex decriminalization receives ‘huge’ response

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

WOODSTOCK, Ontario, January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― As a rule, Canadians are a tolerant, peaceable bunch, slow to stick our necks out. Nevertheless, more than 33,000 of us have signed a petition protesting the Canadian government’s nod to the Royal Canadian Mint to produce a one dollar coin, or “loonie,” commemorating the decriminalization of private homosexual acts in 1969.

Entitled “Say NO to a ‘Gay’ Loonie!”, the Citizen Go Canada petition underscores the irony in a Trudeau government celebrating private sexual acts on the nation’s coinage when another Trudeau said private sex acts were none of the government’s business. (Full text of petition below.)

“(Before) Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau decriminalized homosexual acts in 1969, he famously said, ‘there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,’” the petition to the Mint reads.

“In other words, people's private sexual practices should stay private, and the government should keep out. If that is the case, then why are you promoting certain sexual practices on Canada's official coinage?” it continues.

“It is like the government is opening up the doors of certain bedrooms and inviting everyone in to watch. This is unacceptable and un-Canadian.”

CitizenGo Canada reported over Facebook that its petition had received more than 20,000 signatures from people across the country during a single weekend. Its moderater stated also that it had attracted 12,000 signatories in its first 24 hours, a CitizenGo first.

“Over 12,000 signatures in 24 hours!” the administrator wrote. “I have never seen such a huge response so fast on any other petition. Thank you to everyone who has signed and shared this! Canadians are speaking up and saying NO to a ‘gay’ loonie.”  

A heated debate has broken out  in the CitizenGo Canada Facebook page that reveals a misunderstanding among LGBT activists regarding what exactly was decriminalized in 1969, i.e. oral and anal sex acts performed by any consenting adult over 21 on another consenting adult over 21 in private.

In December 1968, then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s Justice Minister, John Turner, reintroduced an Omnibus Bill that sought to allow abortion, decriminalize certain sex acts between consenting adults, tighten drinking-and-driving legislation, restrict firearms and deal with a number of other issues. After months of acrimonious debate, Bill C-150 was passed into law.

Bill C-150 is credited for “decriminalizing homosexuality” although simply identifying as homosexual was not illegal -- indeed, in 1969 homosexuality was widely considered an unfortunate psychological condition -- and it permitted homosexual acts only in private between adults over 21. The new legislation did not, for example, permit the public nudity and indecent acts that have featured at many Pride Day celebrations.

In 1969, Justice Minister John Turner likened the decriminalization of homosexual acts to the legal status of adultery. While the debate raged in Parliament, he told CBC Radio that Bill C-150 was not an endorsement of homosexuality.  

“All it does is recognize what those of us who support the bill recognize: that there are areas of private behaviour which, however repugnant, however immoral — if they do not directly involve public order should not properly be within the criminal law of Canada,” Turner said.

“There are acts and situations in life which most of us would consider to be immoral that are not crimes,” he continued.  

“Adultery is one, yet it is not a crime. Fornication is immoral, I suppose to most of us, yet it is not a crime. These are matters for private judgment, private behavior, private morals, and the criminal law says these are not our concern.”

“In the same way, acts between people who suffer under a sexual deviation — as long as it doesn’t involve the corruption of a minor, as long as it doesn’t involve force, as long as it is not done in public — if in fact it consists of adult, mature, private behavior, however repugnant as I’ve said to most of us, these are matters for personal conscience and should not be in the public criminal domain,” he maintained.

Turner also told the House of Commons that the Liberal Party was not claiming that homosexual acts were equal to “normal” acts of intercourse.

“We are not for a moment conceding that homosexual acts are in any way to be equated to ordinary, normal acts of intercourse,” he said.  

Since then, Canadian politicians have abandoned an emphasis on the private nature of sexual acts to participate in their public celebration. Pierre Trudeau’s son, current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is an enthusiastic devotee of the nation’s annual Pride Day festivals.   

Canadian coins should not promote division

Dear Royal Canadian Mint,

I am very upset over the planned release of a pro-homosexual one dollar coin later this year. I do not want a "gay" loonie.

When Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau decriminalized homosexual acts in 1969, he famously said, "there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation." In other words, people's private sexual practices should stay private, and the government should keep out. If that is the case, then why are you promoting certain sexual practices on Canada's official coinage? It is like the government is opening up the doors of certain bedrooms and inviting everyone in to watch. This is unacceptable and un-Canadian.

Just because homosexual acts have been legalized, that does not mean they should be celebrated or commemorated. Divorce is also legal - many restrictions on divorce were lifted in 1969, but that does not call for the minting of a "pro-divorce" one dollar coin. Abortion laws were also liberated in 1969, but that does not mean there should be a "pro-abortion" loonie.

There are many things that are perfectly legal in Canada, which are not only questionable but also immoral. The government has chosen to step out of the debate on these issues and has left it up to ordinary citizens to decide. By minting a coin to celebrate homosexuality, the government is not only stepping back into the debate, but it is taking a strong stand on one side. This is sure to alienate and divide many people. This is not the function of our national coinage!

The fact is that many religious Canadians consider homosexual acts to be sinful - a serious offence to God. Also, numerous non-religious Canadians feel homosexual acts are unnatural or unhealthy - at odds with normal human biological and reproductive functions. Many will feel uncomfortable using or carrying these coins. Some will believe they must reject them entirely. This is sure to widen the current rift in Canadian society and may promote discrimination against traditionally-minded people.

Therefore, I am asking you not to mint a "gay" loonie in 2019. The government must withdraw its plans for any design that celebrates homosexual acts. I do not want homosexuality forced upon me and my country.

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American Psychological Association demonizes masculinity, endangers boys with new ‘guidelines’

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By Doug Mainwaring

January 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Predicated on definitions and notions drawn not from the world of science but scooped up from LGBT-driven pop-culture, the American Psychological Association (APA) – the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the U.S. – is promoting its harmful new Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Boys and Men.  

There is nothing familiar or reassuring here. The main message the APA wants everyone to know is that their experts have concluded that “traditional masculinity...is, on the whole, harmful.”

“What is gender in the 2010s?” asked Ryon McDermott, PhD, a psychologist at the University of South Alabama who also helped draft the men’s guidelines. “It’s no longer just this male-female binary.”

In a telling declaration from McDermott at the conclusion of the APA article introducing the new guidelines, he betrays the organization’s true motive: “If we can change men, we can change the world.”

That is clearly what the APA is up to in its troubling 16,000-word document, wedding highly technical terminology with social justice warrior jargon.

As a man who has dealt with same-sex attraction my entire life and has had plenty of familiarity with the LGBT world, I see the APA’s guidelines for what they are: An attempt to diabolically undermine not only manhood, but family, marriage, and natural law. And the most vulnerable in society – specifically, boys – will be harmed the most by these new recommendations.

It’s almost as if the APA wants to convince boys and men to be uncomfortable with themselves, causing them to question day-in and day-out their every thought, impulse, and action, the very nature of who they are. “Traditional masculine ideology” is depicted as problematic while homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism are not.  

By delegitimizing traditional masculinity, the APA seeks to create a more hospitable social environment for the LGBT world to flourish.  

The terms defined at the outset of the guidelines set the tone for the whole document. Most troubling is the incorporation of the term “cisgender,” which the APA now uses to refer to people whose biological sex is aligned with their “gender identity,” as if it were an odd human condition.

Society’s “heteronormativity” is attacked for making false assumptions about the nature of males, and is blamed for creating “minority stress” among “gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender-nonconforming individuals” who might feel “pressured to adopt dominant masculine roles.”  

The APA’s diabolical attack on boys   

During the late 1960’s and 1970’s when I was a boy experiencing the stirrings of same-sex attraction, I had to accept a certain degree of uncertainty about where my life was headed and why. But at least back then I knew to a great degree what the future held for me because everyone around me reinforced a simple truth: I would grow up to be a man, get married, and have a family.

Young boys no longer enjoy that certainty, because the adult world around them – now with a big nudge from the APA – is pulling the rug out from under them. Masculinity now comes with a hefty warning label, but deviations from “traditional masculinity” do not.

Taken to their logical conclusion, here’s what the APA will lead parents to convey to their sons:

  • You might grow up to be gay;
  • You might grow up to be bisexual;
  • You might grow up to be androgynous;
  • You might grow up to be a transvestite or a transsexual, like the strange folks who read to you at drag queen storytime at the library;
  • You might, in essence, grow up to be a woman;
  • You might grow up and choose to surgically amputate your penis, take hormones, and grow breasts. In fact, you can begin to take puberty blockers now if you feel like it;
  • You might grow up to be some form of sexual being no one has ever conceived of being until you decide for yourself what that is.

Oh, and by the way, there’s also one more possibility:

  • You might grow up to be a man – a man who is romantically and sexually attracted to women and who will one day marry the girl he has fallen in love with. But if you do, you reveal that you have “conformed to masculine norms,” which according to the APA are “psychologically harmful,” and therefore not good for society.

That which used to be guaranteed – a never-questioned source of great comfort and assurance – now appears to be a long shot.  

The most trusted adults in a boy’s world – his parents, teachers, adult relatives, and neighbors – guided now by the 117,500 psychological “experts” at the APA, are being told to deprive their boys of “traditional masculine ideology,” while withholding absolute biological truths about their nature. They will think they are being sophisticated and “with it” by doing so.

They will perhaps be caused to worry about future recriminations from a child who later in life might say, “I felt different and nobody understood or supported me.” And in so doing, they will be sacrificing the over 98 percent of all children for the less than three percent of those who might experience some same-sex attraction or the infinitesimally smaller percentage who experience (usually temporary) gender confusion.

How dare the APA do this to boys and young men? They demonize “traditional masculinity” while affirming that which is most soul-distorting for boys.   

And how awful to undermine the manhood of boys’ fathers and the other important adult males in their lives, causing those men to question that which is most important for them to pass on to their sons.  

After announcing the new recommendations, the APA experienced an immediate backlash and quickly issued a second article backpedaling a bit, but the cat is out of the bag. We now know for certain they are just another liberal organization that views masculinity as toxic.

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