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Kansas legislature slams New York for passing and celebrating late-term abortion law

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By Martin Barillas

TOPEKA, Kansas, March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Both chambers of the Kansas legislature adopted a resolution condemning a new law in New York state that legalized abortion.

The non-binding resolution was passed after three hours of deliberation on Tuesday despite opposition from House Democrats, who tried to shut down debate with a series of amendments to Kansas Senate Concurrent Resolution 1606. Eight amendments to the Kansas resolution condemning New York were ruled out of order. The resolution passed the House 78-5, with dozens of House members not voting.

House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins, a Republican, said Democrats’ amendments to the resolution were intended to mitigate the message from Kansas to New York about life issues.

“Our GOP caucus is firmly opposing each move they make to deny the reality that our duty is to protect innocent life,” Hawkins told colleagues, according to the Wichita Eagle. “When extreme injustice is inflicted on innocent children, it is incumbent on Kansas leaders to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

The Kansas resolution criticized New York legislators for celebrating the passage of liberalized abortion laws. “This resolution is about protecting women and children. On that, I think we all agree,” said GOP Rep. Renee Erickson, who was a leader in passing the Kansas resolution.

Under New York’s Reproductive Health Act, mothers may request an abortion even past 24 weeks of pregnancy if deemed necessary to protect their life or health. The bill decriminalized the killing of unborn babies whose mothers are victims of assault and allows non-physicians to commit abortions.

The Kansas resolution says the New York law “repealed vital protections for an unborn child who is born alive and who survives an abortion attempt” and that the people of Kansas “value and seek to protect” all human life. According to the resolution, New York law now allows a mother “to claim minimal mental or societal effects as a reason for an abortion, up to the very moment of birth.”

The New York law allows women, read the resolution, “to claim minimal mental or societal effects as a reason for an abortion, up to the very moment of birth.” Also, the New York bill allows non-physicians to commit abortions, thus removing safety protections.

Democrats were not pleased with the turn of events, arguing that the legislature should have spent its time on other issues. For example, Democratic House Rep. Brett Parker tweeted, “Schools underfunded, Medicaid not expanded, foster care crisis, and a prison emergency but we’re wasting time debating toothless resolutions so (pro-life Kansans for Life) can send political attack mail. Shame on us.”

From the floor, Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Bishop told the House: “Colleagues, I have had an abortion and it saved my life, and it saved my health and enabled me to go on to have another healthy child,” and claimed that she would have bled to death without an abortion.

According to the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, which supported the resolution in the legislature, Kansas is the first state in the nation to pass such a resolution. In a statement, the pro-family organization predicted that other states will follow Kansas’ lead.

Brittany Jones, advocacy director for the organization, said in a statement: “Kansas is one of the most pro-life states in the country. The New York abortion law is a horrific reflection on the state and its values. The New York law does not reflect the values of Kansans. Even as several more states consider following New York’s lead, Kansas is proud to be a state that cherishes life and provides some of the strongest pro-life protections in the county.”

After passing the resolution condemning New York, the Kansas House Health and Human Services Committee voted to endorse House Bill 2274, which requires abortion providers to inform mothers in writing as well as by telephone or in person that even while they are in the midst of a medication abortion it may be halted.  

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Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

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2 violent attacks against 40 Days for Life volunteers in Britain

Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
By Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
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The assailant in Manchester confronted three elderly vigil attendees. Mancunian Matters
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A lumpy yellow liquid was thrown over vigilers in Nottingham.

March 13, 2019 (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) — The escalating media and legal attack on peaceful pro-life vigils has erupted into physical violence, as police investigate incidents in Manchester and Nottingham.

Manchester

Three elderly members of the local 40 Days for Life group were targeted by an angry individual outside the Fallowfield abortion clinic on Friday morning. The assailant screamed obscenities at the praying pensioners, and sent chairs and leaflets flying. Leaflets and placards were also hurled over a fence.

Aileen Power, a 75-year-old SPUC member who was present, told the newspaper Mancunian Matters that it was "sad that people would do that when we're just trying to save lives." Another attendee, Tom Gill, 75, said he had "never seen anything like that" in the 15 years he has been attending such events.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed they were called to an incident at the Marie Stopes clinic just after 10.50am on Friday. They said the matter is being treated as a Public Order Offence and investigations are ongoing.

Nottingham

On Thursday last week, three volunteers, including local leader John Edwards, were praying outside the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham. Mr Edwards told SPUC: "Shortly before 5pm, a young man approached the three volunteers who were present, including me. We were praying quietly. He swore abusively and then threw a jug of yellow liquid at us. The liquid was lumpy. It hit one member of the vigil in the face, hair and body, and the other two of us on our bodies, clothes, shoes. He then disappeared. None of the vigil members responded in any way.

"There were three volunteers present: two female volunteers and me," he continued. "None of us was injured. However, our clothes and shoes were covered in this liquid, and the volunteer who was closest to the man was quite shocked and upset by the viciousness of this experience. We were assaulted physically and verbally, and this left both the women visibly distressed."

The police are currently investigating the incident, and have categorised it as a common assault. They are also considering the possibility that it was motivated by hatred of the attendees' religious beliefs, in which case it will also be a hate crime.

Escalating violence

Since this year's 40 Days for Life campaign started last week, there have also been reports of aggression against pro-lifers in London, and Cardiff. In Cardiff, one protester dressed up as Jesus and boasted about making "a lot of noise". 

Robert Colquhoun, International Campaigns Director of 40 Days for Life, told Manchester Evening news: "40 Days for Life organise peaceful, prayerful and legal vigils outside of abortion centres in the United Kingdom. In nine years of ministry we have not seen a single substantiated case of harassment or intimidation by any of our volunteers in that time. We have however received abuse from passersby.

"It has been estimated in the last 5 years that thanks to all groups that organise prayer vigils in the UK outside abortion centres there are over 1,000 babies who were scheduled for an abortion, but are alive today thanks to volunteers who witness for life in a peaceful, loving and compassionate manner."

The physical and verbal attacks come soon after the decision to ban the vigil in Richmond, and after an Aberdeen councillor repeated unsubstantiated and damaging claims against pro-life people.

John Deighan, Deputy CEO of SPUC said: "The violence targeted at pro-life people comes at a time when the media and abortion campaigners are conducting a vilification campaign against the pro-life movement. It is a disgraceful tactic which encourages violence and intimidation against peaceful people who are brave enough to stand witness for the lives of the unborn."

Published with permission from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

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Martin M. Barillas Martin M. Barillas Follow Martin

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Gay presidential candidate claims he’s a Christian but attacks Pence’s faith, support for Trump

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By Martin Barillas

AUSTIN, Texas. March 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Peter Buttigieg, a homosexual Episcopalian, said he is “consistent with Christian teachings” but questioned Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian faith.

In a Q&A session at The South by Southwest Conference last weekend, asked why his recent book did not dwell on religion, Buttigieg answered, “First of all, I try to live a life that is consistent with Christian teachings. I know that it is my responsibility not to ever do anything that would in public life, not be equally beneficial or make as much sense to people of another faith or people of no faith.”

The 36-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a former naval officer said, “But in my life, I believe in that Christian ethic, the idea that was drilled into me in Catholic school even though I’m not Catholic, I’m Episcopalian.” Vice President Pence is a former governor of Indiana and a vocal Christian. Buttigieg is the author of “The Shortest Way Home.”

Buttigieg is joined to another man in a same-sex “marriage.”

Regarding the place of his ostensible Christian faith in his life, the Harvard graduate said, “That idea of the invitation of Christ, this sense that when God himself comes to earth, he is rejected in many ways largely because he tells the truth. He concerns himself with what’s going on with those who are marginalized. He understands his role on earth not to be glorified but to serve.”

Referring to the Gospel account of Jesus washing the feet of his apostles, Buttigieg said of the powerful witness, “Feet are gross and even more so then, right. Not what you would expect the divine to be doing when He comes down to earth. And then the Old Testament full of the complexity of trying to be in contact with the absolute. Wrestling with God, these images. And so I try to live a life that’s consistent with that.”

Buttigieg questioned how Pence can support the “porn star presidency” of Donald Trump. “I thought, well, at least he believes in our institutions, and he's not personally corrupt. But then, how could he get on board with this presidency? How could somebody who — you know, his interpretation of Scripture is pretty different from mine, to begin with.” He went on to say, "But even if you buy into that, how could he allow himself to become the cheerleader of the porn star presidency?"

Buttigieg pondered, "Is it that he stopped believing in Scripture when he started believing in Donald Trump? I don't know, I don't know."

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Michigan legislature takes steps to ban dismemberment of babies

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By Martin Barillas

LANSING, Michigan, March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Republican state legislators in Michigan introduced bills to ban the dismemberment of unborn babies and restrict late-term abortion.

House Bills 4320 and 4321 would amend Michigan’s ban on partial-birth abortions by including the dismemberment abortion procedure, also known as a dilation and evacuation abortion (D&E). The ban has stood since 2011. In a press release, Right to Life of Michigan president Barbara Listing said, “These bills are Michigan’s response to New York’s abortion law and other states seeking to explicitly allow abortions through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason.”

HB 4321 was introduced by Rep. Lynn Afendoulis of East Grand Rapids, who chairs the Tax Committee. HB4320 was introduced by Rep. Pamela Hornberger of New Baltimore, who chairs the Education Committee for the Republican-majority chamber. Both bills have been referred to the Committee on Families, Children, and Seniors.

Dismemberment is the most frequently-used late-term abortion procedure in the United States. According to Right to Life of Michigan, there were 1,777 dismemberment abortions in Michigan reported to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. Of those, 98 percent occurred in the second trimester, between 13 and 24 weeks of pregnancy.

In Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) and Stenberg v. Carhart (2000), which ruled on so-called “partial-birth” abortions,Kennedy wrote, “The doctor, often guided by ultrasound, inserts grasping forceps through the woman’s cervix and into the uterus to grab the fetus. The doctor grips a fetal part with the forceps and pulls it back through the cervix and vagina, continuing to pull even after meeting resistance from the cervix. The friction causes the fetus to tear apart. For example, a leg might be ripped off the fetus as it is pulled through the cervix and out of the woman.”

In Stenberg, Justice Kennedy wrote, “The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn from limb from limb. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off.”

The release quoted Listing, who said, “In his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy rightly said that dismemberment abortions are ‘laden with the power to devalue human life.’ Tearing the arms and legs off children in the later stages of pregnancy is not a good reflection of our Michigan values.”

Research published by pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute shows that most late-term abortions are done for elective reasons. The authors of a 2013 Guttmacher Institute study indicated “data suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.”

On March 5, Republican state senators in Michigan introduced a bill that would outlaw abortions of babies 20 weeks after conception. Senate Bill 165 would calculate conception starting from the time of the mother’s last menstrual period. By calculating thereby the age of the unborn baby, the bill would, therefore, ban abortions at around 22 weeks.

According to WEMU radio news, Republican Senator Curtis VanderWall said there is an exception built into the bill. “If the mother’s life is in jeopardy and she and the doctors come to a consensus it’s the best decision to be made, for the life of the mother that child can be taken,” he said.

WKAR quoted Democrat Senator Erika Geiss, who said the bills are not necessary, claiming that the majority of late-term abortions past 20 weeks are because of complications. Her conclusion is contrary to the findings of the Guttmacher Institute, an ally of Planned Parenthood.

SB 165 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health Policy and Human Services. If the bill is passed, doctors committing abortions past 20 weeks of probable conception could wind up behind bars for 15 years.

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Iowa judge on Trump’s Supreme Court short list joined ruling forcing tax-funded sex changes

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By Calvin Freiburger

March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – When the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state must allow gender-confused residents to obtain “gender-reassignment” treatments at taxpayer expense, one of the jurists on President Donald Trump’s short list to join the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed the decision.

At issue was the state Department of Human Services (DHS) excluding transition-related surgeries from Medicaid by classifying them as “cosmetic, reconstructive or plastic surgery.” Last Friday, the court issued a ruling written by Justice Susan Christensen claiming the department’s policy was discriminatory.

Christensen wrote that an amendment to the Iowa Civil Rights Act of 2007 specifically added "gender identity" as a protected criteria, and that Medicaid already covers certain cosmetic or reconstructive surgeries for other purposes, such as “Revision of disfiguring and extensive scars resulting from neoplastic surgery” or “Correction of a congenital anomaly.”

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Gillespie tried to argue that the policy wasn’t about transgenderism, but the infeasibility of covering costly procedures for psychological rather than physical purposes. "The department has a limited number of funds," he argued. "We're limited in what we can cover and what we can do.”

None of the justices sided with him, however. “All justices concur except (Christopher) McDonald, J., who takes no part,” the ruling stated. Among the concurring justices was Edward Mansfield, who is one of the 25 names on Trump’s short list for the next Supreme Court vacancy.

The Iowa Civil Rights Act classifies “gender identity” as a protected characteristic in public accommodations, and the court ruled that DHS qualifies as a “public accommodation” (which DHS disputed). Whether that interpretation was correct or erroneous, Mansfield believing he was bound by a duly-enacted statute he may or may not personally favor doesn’t necessarily signal a pro-transgender bias he would carry to the U.S. Supreme Court (additionally, he dissented from the court’s June 2018 ruling striking down a 72-hour abortion waiting period).

Whatever the truth behind Mansfield’s vote, it further underscores the importance of thoroughly vetting judicial nominees before confirming them to a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court.

Pro-life activists have long complained about the number of Republican-appointed justices, such as John Roberts, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter, who went on to rule as liberals on the bench. Many believed the input of the conservative Federalist Society on the selection process would mitigate the problem, leading most major pro-life voices to support Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination last fall despite concerns about his devotion to judicial precedent and its implications for Roe v. Wade.

Since joining the court, Kavanaugh has given mixed signals on life-related cases. In December, he joined the court’s liberals in declining to hear appeals from Kansas and Louisiana defending their efforts to cut off Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood. Last month, he voted with the conservative minority to let Louisiana’s admitting privileges law take effect, but his dissent was largely technical and appeared to lend credence to the “undue burden” standard from previous pro-abortion rulings.

Last month, several conservatives attacked freshman Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, for withholding his support for Trump’s D.C. Circuit appeals court nominee Neomi Rao over concerns about her legal and abortion views. “This is why we are doing our due diligence,” he said. “I am only going to support nominees who have a strong record on life.” Hawley later decided to support Rao after what he calls a “very, very thorough” meeting with the nominee.

Another jurist on Trump’s short list also ruled in a recent case of interest to LifeSiteNews’ readers, this time siding with conservatives. Raymond Kethledge joined the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ majority decision Tuesday allowing Ohio to deny federal health dollars to abortion organizations. Kethledge lacks a substantial paper trail on social issues but is considered a textualist who served as Judiciary Committee counsel for Sen. Spencer Abraham while the Michigan Republican was working to ban partial-birth abortion.

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Pascal Wintzer, Archbishop of Poitiers. KTOTV / Youtube screen grab
Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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French archbishop calls for ordination of married men

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Archbishop of Poitiers – a French diocese founded in the third century by St. Hilary, doctor of the Church – has expressed his support for the ordination of married men repeatedly over the last week, a first in the French Catholic hierarchy. Mgr Pascal Wintzer, 59, explained that such a move “would change the sacred perception of the priest.”

“The priest is not a sacred man, neither is the Bishop. I think that in the same way they do in the Oriental Churches, married men could be called. It would change the sacred conception of what a priest is,” he said on Friday on a Catholic radio station, RCF.

His open call for the ordination of married men led to further interviews, in which the Archbishop doubled down on his remarks. On Sunday, March 10, the regional tax-payer-funded local television, France 3, asked him whether he is really the only French bishop to suggest such a change. Wintzer replied:

I don't think so. A number of my brother bishops are thinking about this reality. I may have spoken about it, but I also think it is possible to express an opinion and to submit it for reflection, that of the faithful in particular. It is very good that people should be able to express themselves about this, together with the reflection of my peers and also other theologians, because this reality has already existed in the Catholic Church. It still exists today in the Catholic Oriental rites and I don't see any reason not to think about it for our Church here in Europe.

“So you talk about it together?,” the journalist asked. 

“Yes, yes, yes… that's right,” the Archbishop confirmed.

The dialogue proceeded with a question: “You adopted this position at a moment when the scandals of sexual abuse and rape are in the news. What could the non-celibacy of priests change about that?”

Mgr Wintzer answered:

In my opinion, a certain ‘sacred’ perception of what the priest is. There is sometimes a way of seeing a priest as a man who would not be a man, and that's what celibacy is consonant with, as if sexuality did not exist, as if the whole human being was not shaped by sexuality. It's true that you can be celibate and live out that reality, as well as the lack that that represents, without being pushed towards actions that are bad for others or for yourself. But at the same time, having priests who are married would also allow people to see priests as people like everyone else. Some would be celibate – but this is also true of the rest of society, it's not only priests who are celibate – others would be married. Today, I think one of the reasons of the crimes that exist regarding children or women comes from this sacral or sacred conception of the priest: the end of the law of celibacy for all will also be a way to bring us back to ordinary humanity.

This is of course a throwback to Pope Francis’ claim that the sexual abuse crisis is the result of “clericalism.”

The journalist remarked: “Pope Francis declared at the end of January that celibacy could not become optional.”

Wintzer agreed: “That's right. When we commit ourselves it's for our whole life. (…) This is true in my own case. Those who trained me helped me to discern and reflect about my liberties and about the commitment I made (…) 32 years ago: I have no wish to go back on that. On the other hand, it is before choosing, before being ordained that we have to choose, to adopt a position: do we want to get married, do we want to remain celibate?”

On Monday, Wintzer would clarify that he was only speaking about the ordination of married men, not of marriage for priests.

To the question: “So is the Church ready or not for this change?”, Wintzer answered:

She is ready: I think it will be by constraint. Real changes may be desired through reflection, through liberty, but constraint imposes change. Today’s constraint is that of the small number of priests. I cannot resign myself to the idea that many Catholics are today deprived of the nourishment of the Eucharist. There are also the scandals linked to the abuse of power, and to the sacred, the falsely sacred image of what priests are.

It is true that the Oriental Catholic Churches traditionally allow for the ordination of married men. But priests, once ordained, may not marry. Married priests cannot become bishops nor can they rise in the hierarchy of the Church. And if they are widowed, they may not remarry.

Despite this discipline that differs from that of the Latin Church, a married priest in the Catholic Eastern rites is very much seen as sacred, and his wife is also considered as someone apart. Often ordination only takes place when they have reached a mature age. They are also subject to a certain amount of requirements which the future priest’s wife must accept for him to be ordained. For instance, she must dress in black. The couple must also observe restrictions regarding sexual relations at certain times.

In Wintzer’s view, priests ordained after marriage would give a bit of their time, leaving their ordinary occupations now and then in order to “lead prayers and preside mass.”

But if a priest is not sacred, how can he be a priest? His very function, his capacity to say the sacred words of the consecration in the person of Christ, to absolve sin, set him apart from the ordinary faithful. Bishops themselves are “consecrated” – during the ceremony of the “sacre” as it is called in France. As was Wintzer himself, in 2007. Saying the contrary questions the whole edifice of belief and doctrine that clearly make the distinction between the sacred and the profane.

Pope Francis has set a step towards the easing of the situation concerning priests ordained after their marriage. Until recently, apart from a few individual exceptions, married oriental priests who for any reason were in Latin-rite countries were not allowed to celebrate Mass publicly there, even in their own Oriental rite, because of the “scandal” that could ensue among Latin Catholics. Since 2014, this restriction has been lifted.

The Catholic Church also allows Anglican ex-priests who convert to Catholicism and who were already married to remain in that state.

But this is not the same as deliberately ordaining married Catholic men for a sort of second-class priesthood.

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Google declared war on ‘hate speech, fake news’ because ‘That’s how Trump won,’ employee alleges

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By Calvin Freiburger

March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Google justifies its aggressive and controversial efforts to suppress what content it claims to be “hate speech” and “fake news” as a direct response to President Donald Trump’s 2016 election, according to an email an employee of the internet giant published Monday on Twitter.

In a series of tweets, software engineer Mike Wacker shared redacted screenshots from what he says is an email he received from another employee in June 2017, Breitbart reported.

“I posted a comment on a meme regarding fake news on Search and someone reported it to (Human Resources). I didn’t say I was in favor or against, just cautioned that we need to be car(e)ful,” the unnamed email sender wrote. “My manager brought it up in our 1:1 last week. Made me feel very uncomfortable for having an opposing view. He said we need to stop hate (speech) and fake news because that’s how Trump won the election.”

“I obviously didn’t say anything and just wanted it to end,” the sender continued, adding that he “would like to see all managers be required to take political bias training.”

Another section of the email has harsh words for Google’s “bias busting” course. “The entire thing is bashing conservatives and Trump supporters,” the sender wrote. “So many false accusations and sob stories. My friend took the course and said he was told he didn’t know how it felt to be a minority because he was a male. This came from the speaker themselves!”

In a series of tweets, Wacker said the experience was “certainly not an isolated incident” and explained that he was only going public because his efforts to resolve the situation privately had been in vain:

“Bluntly, I do not trust Google's ability to properly prevent and handle these sorts of incidents,” Wacker continued, accusing the company’s leadership, management, and “especially” its HR department of being unreliable. HR in particular, he said, displayed “clear and convincing evidence of favoritism” in how it handles grievances.

The latest allegations fit a broader picture drawn by previous leaked conversations, which appear to show not only that Google’s dominant ideology is dramatically out of step with the country at large, but that the company is willing to enforce it via its ostensibly-neutral services.

A leaked video from Google’s first “TGIF” (Thank God It’s Friday) meeting after Trump’s victory reveals the company’s co-founders and other top officials discussing the election with anguish and vows to use their power to influence a “better quality of governance and decision-making,” to “make sure” the current period of so-called “populism, of nationalism” is no more than a “blip” or “hiccup” in a “moral arc of history bend(ing) towards progress.”

More recently, leaked documents revealed that enough employees objected to the mere use of the word “family” in a company presentation as supposedly “homophobic” that Google vice president Pavni Diwanji apologized for “caus(ing) concerns in the way we talked about families,” and asked for input to “get to a better state” and “teach us how to talk about it in inclusive way, if you feel like we are not doing it well.”

Previous Google scandals include analysis finding a heavy liberal tilt to news search results, estimates that Google may have swung as many as 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton in 2016, and partnership with the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center for flagging "hate.”

Conservative pundit Dennis Prager is currently suing Google for placing more than 80 of his Prager University YouTube videos in "restricted mode," allegedly under false pretenses, and in January pro-life group Live Action saw one of its investigative videos deleted for alleged "sexually provocative content." YouTube restored it after Live Action publicly objected to and privately appealed its deletion.

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Fr. Larry Richards
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Celebrity priest Fr. Larry Richards alleges Church Militant sent him ‘death threats’

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

Update March 14, 2019: Fr. Richards backpedaled on Twitter last night his allegation that Catholic media organization Church Militant threatened to “kill” him. Read LifeSiteNews' report here

DANA POINT, California, March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A celebrity priest has alleged to some of the most influential Catholics in America that a Catholic media organization threatened to kill him.

Film has emerged showing Father Larry Richards stating that he had received “death threats” from Detroit-based Church Militant.  

“A couple of months ago I said something about Church Militant, and they threatened to kill me,” the popular men’s speaker alleged.  

“Literally,” the priest continued. “I got death threats from a good Catholic organization that wanted me dead in God’s name.”

Richards, 58, was giving a lecture about loving one’s enemies to the Legatus Summit 2019 in late January when he made the startling accusation. Legatus is an association of Catholic CEOs of American businesses. Richards was the MC at the Summit despite earlier protests by some Legatus members.

Church Militant has denied the allegation that anyone from their organization sent Richards “death threats.”

“I find it outrageous and impossible to believe,” Church Militant newscaster Christine Niles told LifeSiteNews over the phone. “There is nobody here even capable of doing that.”

“It’s insane.”

Michael Voris, the founder and CEO of the apostolate, suggested that Church Militant may take “further action” in the wake of this, Richards’ most recent, attack on his apostolate.

“Father Larry Richards has been increasing the number of his completely baseless and wholly unsubstantiated attacks against Church Militant,” Voris told LifeSiteNews via email.

“We have to this point ignored these and presume he is suffering from some condition. This latest claim, however, which would rise to the level of a crime on our part, cannot remain unchallenged,” he continued.  

“Father Larry appears to be suffering from some disorder. He needs either to prove his charges immediately, or to stop making them, or further action from Church Militant will be required.”

The founder of “The Reason For Our Hope Foundation,” Fr. Larry Richards is, according to his website, a “gifted and captivating speaker, preacher, retreat master and author.” He is also a parish priest ordained in 1989 for the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania. The author of Be a Man! Becoming the Man God Created You To Be, a book published by Ignatius Press in 2009, Richards has been finishing a degree in Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame.

He also hosts EWTN Radio’s “Open Line” show every Thursday.

The outspoken priest used his position as an EWTN radio personality to condemn Church Militant last September.

“Church Militant is not of God,” Richards said during a call-in show. “Stay away from Church Militant. I’m very clear about it. Church Militant is not of God.”

“It is from the devil himself,” he continued. “It brings division, division, division. Don’t ever listen to anything from Church Militant.”

Richards was particularly concerned for the reputation of Father James Martin, S.J., an LGBT activist priest he believed Church Militant had “demonized.”

“What they do is demonize people that don’t agree with them,” the priest stated. “... I don’t put up with people who demonize other people in God’s name.”

At the time, Niles professed herself amused by Richards’ histrionics.

“I literally laughed out loud when I heard Fr. Larry Richards say ‘Church Militant is from the devil,’” she tweeted on September 21. “He goes on to defend Fr. @JamesMartinSJ. People like him are the reason why no one takes EWTN seriously anymore as a source of authentic Catholic news.”

According to a subsequent Church Militant broadcast, EWTN took down the incendiary video after heavy criticism.

The outspoken preacher had abused LifeSiteNews alongside Church Militant and the OnePeterFive website in a homily earlier that September, saying “...LifeSite – it’s not of God. It’s filled with anger. It’s filled with hate, and it’s filled with mistruth."  

LifeSiteNews reached out to Fr. Richards by telephone and email through The Reason for Our Hope Foundation but was told it would be impossible to reach him for a week, as he is out of town doing a parish mission. Attempts to contact Fr. Richards through social media were also unsuccessful.

LifeSiteNews also reached out to EWTN and Legatus by telephone. Legatus declined to give a statement.

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Pentagon finally implements Trump’s transgender military ban

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By Calvin Freiburger

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Almost a year after the policy was unveiled, the Pentagon on Tuesday instituted the Trump administration’s new guidelines barring gender-confused individuals from military service.

Finalized late last March in consultation with former Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the policy disqualifies from service “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria,” specifically those who “may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery,” except in “certain limited circumstances.”

The White House said at the time that “extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans,” informed Mattis’ recommendation, which was that troops diagnosed with gender dysphoria presented “considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality.”

Opponents immediately sued, leading four separate courts to issue temporary injunctions against enforcing the ban. In January, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated an injunction by District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, followed by the U.S. Supreme Court staying two others. U.S. District Judge George Russell III ruled last week that he was “bound by the Supreme Court’s decision” to lift the final injunction.

With the courts giving the administration a green light, deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist officially signed the policy Tuesday for implementation on April 12, ABC News reports.

According to the Pentagon’s latest memo on the subject, the armed forces will no longer accept new recruits diagnosed with gender dysphoria or recruits who’ve had hormone treatment or reassignment surgery.

Already-serving members (who have been estimated to total anywhere from 1,320 to 6,630) may stay, but will be treated as members of their biological sex rather than their “gender identity,” and held to the dress and grooming standards of the former. Current medical treatment will continue for current members already diagnosed with gender dysphoria, but new transition procedures will not be offered.

“Waivers will be allowed on a case-by-case basis but only from the secretaries in charge of the military services,” ABC notes.

LGBT activists have bitterly denounced the policy. The Washington Blade quotes National Center for Transgender Equality policy director Harper Jean Tobin as bemoaning a “looming purge” and “unprecedented step backward in the social and civil progress of our country and our military.”

“Throughout our nation’s history, we have seen arbitrary barriers in our military replaced with inclusion and equal standards,” Tobin said. “This is the first time in American history such a step forward has been reversed, and it is a severe blow to the military and to the nation’s values.”

Conservatives disagree, however.

“Anyone who wants to serve their nation is worthy of our nation’s thanks, because not enough do,” Heritage Foundation defense expert and retired Lieutenant General Tom Spoehr writes. “A mere desire to serve, however, does not equal qualification.”

He notes that “exhaustive Defense Department clinical and U.S. survey data confirms that individuals with gender dysphoria attempt suicide at rates between eight and 10 times the average” and “severe anxiety again at between eight and nine times the rate of individuals without,” and that “there is no evidence that medical treatment, including gender-reassignment surgery, can remedy those challenges.”

“Stress, anxiety, and suicide are already existential military problems. Indeed, the suicide rate for active-duty military members has been slowly rising over the past couple of decades,” Spoehr explains. “It would, therefore, be reckless and ill-advised to allow individuals demonstrably at a higher risk of suicide and anxiety to join the military and be subject to the increased stresses of military duty—both for the readiness of their units and for the safety of the individual.”

The Trump policy is a reversal from the Obama administration opening the military to “transgender” recruits in June 2016. A memo from Mattis explained last year that the Obama administration justified the change by citing a RAND National Defense Research Institute study with “significant shortcomings.”

The RAND study, Mattis concluded, “referred to limited and heavily caveated data to support its conclusions, glossed over the impacts of healthcare costs, readiness, and unit cohesion, and erroneously relied on the selective experiences of foreign militaries with different operational requirements than our own.”

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The unidentified woman who damaged the statue is led away by police as she insists, 'I don't know what a statue is!' YouTube / TFP
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WATCH: Pro-transgender activist attacks Virgin Mary statue outside ‘Drag Queen story hour’

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By Martin Barillas

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – New video from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) shows a pro-transgender activist damaging a statue of the Virgin Mary as Christians prayerfully protested a “Drag Queen story hour” for children at an Indianapolis bookstore.

The shows a scramble when a woman lifted up and apparently dropped a statue of the Virgin Mary that stood in the midst of Catholics, including children, as they prayed. According to TFP, it was the intervention one of the praying men, Christopher Dunlap, that prevented the statue from breaking on the pavement. Witnesses said that the the young woman wrapped her arms around the statue and threw it to the ground, but Dunlap intercepted its fall.

As a result of the incident, the base of the statue broke off and its crown was damaged.

“It was curious that she attacked Our Lady directly,” TFP’s Rex Teodosio wrote of the incident. “Why the statue? The statue was not holding the banner, praying out loud, or debating with the counter-protesters. It was simply a statue of Our Lady of Fatima standing in a position of prayer.”

“Then the symbolism of the moment became evident. This was a clash of two queens. We were praying to our Heavenly Queen against a drag queen event.”

The assailant was arrested and taken into custody by local police who were on the scene. The Indiana attorney general’s office filed charges against her, according to TFP. As she was being taken by police to a patrol car, she shouted, “I don’t know what a statue is!”

“We were heckled by a few advocates of the LGBT community right from the start,” Teodosio wrote. These included a man who “kept blaspheming against God and the Catholic faith” and a woman who “kept telling us that we were being un-Christian for judging and hating ‘queer’ people.”

“Ironically, she was judging us,” TFP notes.

“Drag Queen story hours” are the latest trend in the LGBT world. During these events, men dressed as women read young children books, often about homosexuality or transgenderism. The gatherings often take place in public libraries in addition to private venues.

The TFP protestors finished praying the rosary after the attack, with Dunlap cradling the statue in his arms and his wife holding Our Lady’s broken crown.

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Arkansas Senate passes bill banning abortion at 18 weeks

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By Calvin Freiburger

ARKANSAS, March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Arkansas state Senate has voted overwhelmingly to pass legislation that would ban most abortions at 18 weeks of pregnancy, two weeks earlier than the current legal cutoff point in that state.

House Bill 1439 would forbid abortions from taking place more than 18 weeks after the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period, except in cases of rape, incest, or physical medical emergency. It passed the state Senate with little debate on a 28-6 vote Monday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.

“This bill actually has been well discussed,” the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Jason Rapert, explained. “It's pretty simple in that we already have existing law that prohibits abortion at 20 weeks. This moves that to 18 weeks.”

Rapert is also responsible for the amendment that excluded babies conceived in rape or incest from the bill’s protection, exceptions that have not been part of most of the heartbeat abortion bans several states have proposed or enacted (those also would stop abortions much earlier than 18 weeks). Besides moral objections, pro-lifers in past debates about similar bills have questioned the inclusion of exceptions on the grounds that even without them, by their nature late-term abortion bans still leave women with a window of several months to abort for any reason, including rape or incest.

In 2013, University of Utah neurobiologist Dr. Maureen Condic testified before the House of Representatives that preborn babies are capable of feeling some level of pain as early as eight to ten weeks, because the “neural circuitry underlying the most basic response to pain is in place by eight weeks,” a position backed by a variety of scientific evidence.

Current judicial precedent says that abortion cannot be banned prior to fetal viability, and in 2014 the Supreme Court refused to consider the constitutionality of a 20-week ban in Arizona. However, lawyers with the Life Legal Defense Foundation note that the Court has also acknowledged a “compelling interest in protecting the unborn child” as pregnancy progresses, particularly on criteria like fetal pain.

“I think it's a really good bill, a good law. There's no doubt really about the person who would harm a child at 18 weeks,” Family Council President Jerry Cox said. “If you look the photographs of the children in the womb, it's unmistakable that those are babies. I think it's vital not only for the sake of unborn children, but also for the health of women because later in the pregnancy the woman gets an abortion, the more likely there are to be health risks. That's a proven fact.”

HB 1439 now goes to the Republican House, where it has been referred to the Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee. A spokesman for Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he plans to sign it.

Last month, Hutchinson also signed into law a bill that will automatically “abolish” legal abortion after Roe v. Wade is either overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court or nullified by a constitutional amendment. That measure does not contain rape or incest exceptions.

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Vatican canonist outlines path to deal with the ‘shameful plague’ of clergy sexual abuse

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By Doug Mainwaring

ANALYSIS

ROME, March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Following the Vatican’s summit on clergy sexual abuse, a canonist for the Roman Rota, the Vatican’s highest appellete court, has outlined six important points for dealing with what he calls “this shameful plague” in the Church.

Mauro Visigalli seeks to dispel commonplace misconceptions, offering his own unique insights as a Church lawyer who has in his capacity as a canonist seen more than 100 cases of clergy sexual abuse in Italy and the U.S.

Visigalli begins with a stunning revelation: The entity within the the Church which is designed to handle clergy sexual abuse, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), is gravely understaffed and unable to handle the burgeoning clergy sex misconduct caseload now before it. He notes, quite amazingly, that there are fewer than ten canon lawyers in place to handle such cases for the entire Church, and only a few speak English. Because of this, the CDF routinely delegates its responsibility to local courts which don’t always possess the expertise to handle such cases.  

Bishops are scared. They worry about both public opinion and Vatican oversight which combine to sway their judgment. In order to calm themselves and avoid difficulties, they accept as “credible” every allegation, sacrificing priests who have merely been accused. Although this makes bishops’ lives easier, Visigalli says this is “the shortest way to Church destruction.”

Priests are too easily presumed guilty, simply because an accusation has been made against them. Visigalli says that priests are often denied justice through “infinitely renewable suspensions, pastoral measures which are more punitive than penalties would be, and delayed and denied processes” which circumvent the important, often hard work of discovering the truth. In this way, an allegation of sexual abuse can become “an easy way to remove an unpleasant priest or a competitor in a canonical position.”  

Visigalli warns that the collective hysteria about abusive priests has created an environment where “priest = sexual abuser” is a commonly accepted equation. This not only sullies Church’s image, but the sheer profusion of allegations creates a fog which provides cover for the clerics who are the real abusers.  

The canon lawyer also worries about the use of social media through which suspicion is spread, sometimes smearing the reputations good of priests. The practice is “devastating for good priests, useless for the faithful, dangerous for the Church, and convenient for real criminals.”

While the solution to clergy sexual abuse will be found in the technical juridical competence of the judges handling these cases, that solution remains evermore elusive as funding and personnel are cut from budgets throughout the Church.  

Some priests and prelates, because of their connections or friendships, have escaped the normal slow road to justice, have avoided being formally suspended, and have sometimes even been promoted to higher functions within the Church.

The full text of Mauro Visigalli’s remarks is provided below:

Dear Director,

As are most Catholics, I am saddened by and worried about the sexual abuses in the Church. This is why I followed with attention the recent synod, as I have become accustomed to following — personally as a “christifidelis” and professionally as an “avvocato rotale” — the news about this shameful plague. Of course, my work, both in Italy and in USA, offers me a privileged point of view: I examined and discussed at the Roman Curia more than a hundred such cases. This is why I desire to share some thoughts and to highlight some points to avoid confusion (there is already enough of that!) and to contradict some commonplace misconceptions. I will try to organize my thoughts in a short list:

  1. The Catholic Church has valid laws to fight the abuses. There is not, as many are used to saying, any need of new legislation (least of all of a dangerous “emergency lane”!). The “Normae de Gravioribus Delictis” (Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter issued “Motu Proprio” “Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela,” given on April 30, 2001) are a very good and efficient law text, if correctly applied together with the Code of Canon Law. The problem is indeed in their application: the intention of the law was to confer to a specifical Vatican Ministry — like the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, having a team of skilled canonists — the judgment of the most grave delicts, the sexual ones included. Unfortunately the cases are many, and the canonists are few (currently fewer than ten, not all of them English-speaking), so it often happens that the spirit of the law is betrayed, and the Vatican delegates local tribunals for the judgment. This is risky for many reasons: not every tribunal has expert canonists, and local tribunals are more easily influenced.
     
  2. You cannot serve both public opinion and justice. It is normal that the bishops are worried about “public opinion” and frightened by the Vatican proclamations about “zero tolerance,” but the “emotional answer” always generates legal monsters, and legal monsters always promote crimes instead of discouraging them. In addition “zero tolerance” is a slogan: the judges have to be right, not to be harsh or merciful. I remember a letter found in the folder of one of my cases: a bishop wrote to the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asking for the conviction of the accused priest because, he said, “every absolution is a wound to my authority.” I will not comment about the conscience of this bishop, believing that his authority is more important than justice; I simply notice that bishops should not follow public opinion, but this is exactly what they usually do. I even know cases of priests still suspended after their innocence was demonstrated, so as not to have to  deal with people’s complaints. As a matter of fact, I notice that many bishops are currently promoting the canonists who are inclined to write sentences of guilt and pushing out canonists believing in the right of defense as a cornerstone of every legal system. Accepting as “credible” every allegation and sacrificing every accused priest make for an easy way to avoid difficulties, but this is also the shortest way to Church destruction.
     
  3. Procedural laws are not an irritating obstacle, but a way to ensure Justice. People — at least as long as they themselves are not the ones being accused — are more inclined to presume guilt than innocence. Those who think this way consider prescription an “attorney’s trick”: they never consider how difficult and frustrating it is to have to deny an accusation of someone publicly trying to destroy you by saying, “Forty years ago, you touched me in the confessional.” The same is to be said about all the law warranties expressed to grant the right of defense: denying an accused priest the knowledge of all the proofs and documents related to his case, trying “shortcuts” (infinitely renewable suspensions, pastoral measures heavier than penalties, delayed and denied processes, etc.) to obtain the desired result instead of honestly seeking the truth, bullying priests to obtain civil plea bargains. Not only are these the wrong way to fight crimes, but they are crimes themselves. Whatever is outside the legal way is not legal, and every abuse generates new abuses. I know from my experience how often an allegation of sexual abuse (even an anonymous one) can become an easy way to remove an unpleasant priest or a competitor in a canonical position. We also have to consider that if such procedures become a blindly wielded club, the penalty loses its deterrent effect.
     
  4. Most allegations are unsubstantiated. I was reading, a few days ago, the statistics of a diocese having about 700 active priests, more than 500 of them under accusation for sexual crimes. This is simply absurd! There is no better place to hide an apple than in a basket of apples. This collective hysteria about abusing priests is not only damaging the image of the Church, but — and this is the worst thing — allowing the real abusers to cover their crimes. Do not misunderstand me: the fight against abuses is the real goal of my considerations. I want the guilty ones discovered and punished. But I see a big, foggy confusion (in part maliciously created) that does not help to do that seriously. My complaint does not arise from the interests of an advocate, but from the sadness of a member of the Christian faithful who sees that “priest = sexual abuser” is becoming a commonly accepted equation. I abhor — as a person and as a jurist — reading sentences (I report one only example) declaring someone guilty because “his action was not concretely an abuse, but the victim could have interpreted it as an intention to abuse” — first of all, because if there was not an act of abuse, then there was not a victim, and secondly, because a penal process is finalized not to satisfy the accuser, but to ascertain the responsibility of the accused. Investigators are often forgetting that sexual crimes are normally a habit, not an episode: one could have killed once, or robbed for episodic reasons, but no one abuses for episodic reasons. A sexual predator repeats his crimes every time he feels the urge to do that, so I am always skeptical when I hear about someone who kissed an altar server once in his life or — this is a very recent report — of an apostolic nuncio more than 70 years old who decides to finally come out with his perverted passions and touches the buttocks of the male guests at an embassy reception!
     
  5. Information about crimes cannot become “normalization” of crimes. We are witnessing the multiplication (also on Facebook, where people are used to posting pictures of the last barbecue on the beach, of the pet, or the steak at the local restaurant) of “blacklists” containing the names of priests “credibly accused.” Guilty or innocent, they are smeared forever after having dedicated their whole lives to the Church. Sometimes we even find — not only on the “bounty hunter” websites, but also in the diocesan ones — the names of dead priests...and these are the lucky ones. We see on the web page of every diocese red buttons and phone numbers so everyone can easily send in his accusation, and everyone can infer that such crimes are a normal matter in the Church. The most “creative” dioceses encourage the denunciation of sexual abuses, even using phrases like “we have the highest number of refunds” (what a glorious finish!). This is not a way to inform, but simply a way to lose credibility and to encourage false accusations. I agree that a priest who is credibly accused has to be immediately “quarantined” to avoid any possible further crime, but this simply means to temporarily remove him from potentially dangerous appointments, to keep him under surveillance, and to share the information with the police. The investigation (and later the process, if needed) has to be started as soon as possible. Spreading suspicions in the meantime is devastating for good priests, useless for the faithful, dangerous for the Church, and convenient for real criminals.
     
  6. The only possible solution to this plague is in the technical juridical competence of the judges, and the impartiality of the controllers. It is not a mystery for anyone that nowadays, the resources — both financial and human — of ecclesiastical tribunals are more and more cut. There are a few bishops more sensitive to the legal matter, who understand the necessity in their dioceses of trained and skilled canonists managing the investigations and the processes, but there are also many who, for the reasons we considered above, are satisfied if their tribunals can answer every accusation with a conviction. This is the reason why, in my experience with many different tribunals all over the world, I met some valuable and expert persons, but I also met many judges who had not even the smallest idea of the basic principles of law. (In a recent sentence, for example, I read that a cited priest is not a party to the process and cannot appeal!) We already spoke about the vicious consequences of this situation, but there is one painful note to add: the “guilty machine” does not function in the same way for all priests. We all know the current controversy about the Vatican managing the cases of some “privileged” priests accused of sexual abuse. These are an absolute minority compared to the many processed and (rightly or unjustly) convicted ones, but they were not thrown in the media grinder (at least until their cases became so burning that it was impossible to ignore them), not formally suspended, sometimes also promoted to higher functions.

As a conclusion, I do not think the Church systematically “covers” sexual abuses, but I think the first step in this battle should be oriented to grant a seriously and impartially applied procedure to all cases, regardless the ecclesiastical dignity of the accused priest and, in the meantime, to respect — until a conviction is pronounced — the good name of the accused ones. This is the reason why I find almost barbarian the proposal to relieve from “pontifical secrecy” such procedures.

I hope these simple thoughts can offer the spark for a deeper reflection about this painful matter and dispel some commonplace misconceptions about the way such cases are usually managed by the Church. Some important matters depend on a correct answer to the abuses — not only the dignity and the safety of many good priests, but also the safety of potential victims, the future of the Church, and the serenity of the Christian faithful. I also thank those who will host and read my reflection, warmly greeting everyone.

Mauro Visigalli, Avvocato Rotale

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Judge sentences Cdl. Pell to six years in prison, says he ‘may’ die there

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By Lianne Laurence

MELBOURNE, Australia, March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal George Pell was sentenced yesterday in a Melbourne court to six years in jail on five convictions of the sexual abuse of minors. The Cardinal has steadfastly maintained his innocence. 

Judge Peter Kidd also ruled Pell could not be paroled for three years and eight months, telling the 77-year-old prelate he may die in jail, and describing the offences as “brazen and forceful” and “breathtakingly arrogant,” reported the Guardian.

“Facing jail at your age in these circumstances must be an awful state of affairs for you,” the judge said. You "may not live to be released from prison," he said. 

Pell will be placed in protective custody and only interact with “vetted inmates” during mealtimes and exercise because his safety is considered “at risk” due to “his profile and the nature of his crimes,” reported Lexology.

He will also be a registered sex offender for life.

Pell has maintained his innocence throughout. His lawyers have launched an appeal based on the grounds the jury’s guilty verdict was “unreasonable” because it was not supported by evidence. 

The appeal will be heard June 5 and 6, according to Vatican News

Pell was convicted in December of orally raping one 13-year-old choirboy and sexually abusing another after Sunday High Mass in the sacristy of Melbourne’s cathedral in 1996, and of sexually abusing one of the pair again in a cathedral corridor months later. 

The formal convictions are one charge of sexually penetrating a child under 16 and four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under 16. A previous trial in September on the same charges ended with a hung jury, with 10 of the 12 supporting acquittal.

In a hearing broadcast live across the world from the courthouse Wednesday, Kidd described Pell’s conduct as “permeated with staggering arrogance” and said his offences were “made significantly more serious because of the surrounding or contextual circumstances – namely the breach of trust and abuse of power.”

Holding a cane, Pell sat silently in the dock between two police during the judge’s remarks, reported the Guardian.

Pell is the most senior cleric to be convicted of child sexual abuse, and as Vatican treasurer and one-time member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals (C9), was considered the third-most powerful man in the Vatican when charged with multiple counts of sexual offenses in July 2017. He returned voluntarily to Australia to face the charges. 

“In my view, the first episode in the priest’s sacristy involved a brazen and forceful sexual attack on the two victims. The acts were sexually graphic. Both victims were visibly and audibly distressed during this offending,” Kidd said.

“Your decision to offend was a reasoned, albeit perverted, one,” the judge said. “Certainly you were confident your victims would not complain … the offending which the jury has found you have engaged in was, on any view, breathtakingly arrogant.

“As archbishop, you did have a relationship of approval in relation to the choirboys. In part, the choirboys were performing to please you as archbishop. The choirboys were the least powerful and the most subordinate individuals at the cathedral. The power imbalance between the victims and all the senior church leaders or officials, yourself included, was stark.”

Kidd, who ruled the sentencing hearing be broadcast for the sake of “open justice,” acknowledged the public mood in Australia, which has led many of Pell’s supporters, including his friend American writer George Weigel, to denounce Pell’s prosecution as a witch-hunt.

Kidd maintained, however, that Pell's sentence was given “without fear or favour,” the Guardian reported.

“There has been extraordinary and widespread publicity and public comment which has surrounded you for a number of years,” Kidd said. 

“Some of this publicity has involved strong, trenchant and sometimes emotional criticism of you. Indeed, it is fair to say that in some sections of the community you are a publicly vilified figure,” he said.

“We have witnessed, outside of this court and within our community, examples of a witch-hunt or a lynch mob mentality in relation to you, Cardinal Pell. I utterly condemn such behaviour.”

The Vatican has opened its own investigation into the allegations against Pell. The decision was made by Pope Francis given Pell’s high standing, reported the Jesuit America Magazine.

The CDF will decide based on its investigations whether to proceed to a canonical trial or administratively, that is, forgo a trial and ask the pope to defrock Pell, an eventuality from which there is no appeal, reported CNN.

Pell’s conviction has polarized Australia, with many hailing his downfall and others saying it is a devastating travesty of justice, reports CruxNow.

Pell’s convictions in December were under a publication ban until February, when a second trial, based on allegations Pell sexually assaulted two boys at a Ballarat swimming pool in the seventies, collapsed for lack of admissible evidence.

With the trial details public, Weigel, Australian Jesuit lawyer Frank Brennan, and a number of critics have pointed out the holes in the prosecution’s case, which rested solely on the testimony of one witness, now 35. The other alleged victim died in 2014 of a heroin overdose, but not before telling his mother he had never been sexually abused.

They argue, as did Pell’s lawyer Robert Richter during the trial, that the complainant’s story is not credible for a number of reasons, including the sacristy would not have been empty after High Mass, nor would Pell have been alone at that time, nor would he have been able to manoeuver his heavy robes to sexually assault the boys.

Meanwhile, Richter’s arguments at Pell’s pre-sentencing hearing two weeks ago to persuade Kidd to give Pell a lenient sentence were blasted in the  Catholic Herald at the time as “disastrous.”  

Richter maintained he had to make arguments in the context of Pell’s guilty conviction, and so argued Pell must have had a moment of irrationality, and that the offense he was convicted of, but steadfastly denies committing, was “plain vanilla sexual penetration case where the child is not actively participating.”

“Whatever his reasons, his description of a horrific attack on a minor (which Richter was not conceding actually happened) will do nothing to persuade the Australian public of Pell’s innocence,” noted the Catholic Herald.

“The situation is therefore a nightmare for the Catholic Church.”

Edward Pentin, Vatican correspondent for the Catholic Register, told Australian newspaper The Age that “most” in the Vatican believe Pell is “innocent, certainly those who worked with him.”

Pentin acknowledged speculation in the Eternal City that Pell was the victim of a conspiracy to oust him.

At the time he was charged, Pell, in the words of the Guardian, had been “handpicked to oversee the Vatican’s complex finances and root out corruption.”

“Pell was extremely unpopular in parts of the Vatican, particularly the old guard keen on keeping the old system running because they were doing so well out of it,” Pentin told The Age.

“There is this constant suspicion that the timing (of the charges) was not coincidental and there were some backroom dealings to get him out,” he said.

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Ex-Planned Parenthood director: We were ‘trained’ how to sell abortion to Christian women

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By LifeSiteNews staff

March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Abby Johnson is one of the most well-known pro-life activists in the United States. A former Planned Parenthood director, Johnson left after eight years after assisting with an ultrasound abortion of a 13-week-old baby. She wrote about her experience in her bestselling 2010 book UnPlanned, which has been turned into a movie and is scheduled for release March 29th.

In this episode of the Van Maren Show, Abby sits down with host Jonathon Van Maren to discuss the time she spent working at Planned Parenthood and her decision to leave it behind and become a defender of the unborn.

“When I saw this [ultrasound abortion] take place, I felt really disgusted. Really shocked. And just honestly, like, really stupid for believing so eagerly...the lie that the abortion industry had fed me for so many years,” she says.

Johnson, who through her ministry has helped 487 workers leave the abortion industry, reveals to Van Maren that one of the reasons she left Planned Parenthood was because upper management was demanding more abortions take place.

“We were trained how to overcome various objections...to abortion, particularly religious arguments because we know that the majority of women walking into abortion clinics to have abortions identify as Christian.”

For Johnson, having abortion quotas wasn’t what fighting for women and female empowerment was all about. The hypocrisy of Planned Parenthood executives as well as the way peaceful pro-lifers reached out to and treated Johnson contributed to her decision to leave. 

“I had essentially coerced women into making a decision for abortion that was sacrificing their children. And I knew that that was incredibly unjust. And I thought here I am working for this organization that says we're here to fight for justice for women. But at what cost? I mean there's no justice when we're having to sacrifice the rights of someone else.”

UnPlanned was unveiled after the 2019 March for Life in January and is scheduled for release on March 29. Distributed by PureFlix, it will reach 800 screens across the United States. It was directed by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon, who also were behind the hit film "God's Not Dead.”

The Van Maren Show is hosted on numerous platforms, including SpotifySoundCloudYouTubeiTunes and Google Play.

For a full listing of episodes, and to subscribe via various channels, visit our Pippa.io webpage here.

To receive an email when a new episode is uploaded, click here.

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Alyssa Milano gets bipartisan backlash for tweeting she’s ‘trans, lesbian, gay man ... everything’

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By Calvin Freiburger

March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Actress Alyssa Milano is one of Hollywood’s more outspoken celebrities for liberal causes, a tendency that backfired Friday with two tweets meant to express solidarity with “transgender” women on International Women’s Day.

“My transgender sisters! I am celebrating YOU this #NationalWomensDay,” Milano tweeted. Asked if she was transgendered, she responded by claiming, “I’m trans. I’m a person of color. I’m an immigrant. I’m a lesbian. I’m a gay man. I’m the disabled. I’m everything. And so are you.”

Milano is a straight, white, able-bodied, native-born woman, so her tweets received significant pushback from conservatives who reject the concept of “fluid” identities, as well as liberals who resented the implication that the actress was “appropriating” their experiences from a position of “privilege":

Following the backlash, Milano tweeted that she was “happy people are voicing concerns here,” “ok being made the example,” and “glad this tweet invoked conversation.”

“I’m so sorry it offended some,” she said. “I see you and hear you. But just a reminder, empathy is not a bad thing. Nuance is important and literal interpretation is not always intended. And I can identify with and not identify as. Both are powerful.”

Despite having been raised nominally Catholic, Milano is now a pro-abortion activist who joined the Left’s chorus of outrage against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh and the Covington Catholic High School students who attended this year’s March for Life.

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The State’s version of justice will not fix the Church’s sex abuse crisis

Riccardo Cascioli
By

March 13, 2019 (La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana) — During his speech at the conclusion of the recent summit in the Vatican on sexual abuse, Pope Francis made a point that almost went unnoticed but which surprised everyone watching. The main focus of his intervention wasn't the ecclesial situation but rather the scourge of child abuse on a global level. Thus, the Pope explained, the data of international organisations informs us that "those who commit abuses ... are above all parents, relatives, husbands of child brides, coaches and educators". Moreover, Francesco continued, "according to the Unicef data of 2017 concerning 28 countries in the world, 9 out of 10 girls who were forced in to sexual relations, reveal that they were victims of a person they knew or who was close to the family". The list of data continued: every year in the United States 700 thousand minors are victims of violence and mistreatment, and one child in 10 is the victim of sexual violence. In addition, he continued, let's consider Italy (68.9% of child abuse is inside the home), sex tourism and child soldiers.

The true purpose of this overview was not to minimise the scandal in the Church, but to put it in its true context. The Pope then summed up by affirming: we, as a Church, are doing and we will do everything possible to eliminate this scourge within us, but much more needs to be done globally.

Actually, if the data from America is examined in isolation, then the established cases of sexual abuse by priests against minors amounts to several thousands over 70 years (6,700 according to the detailed report of John Jay College published in 2004, while the recent report by the Great Jury of Pennsylvania speaks of more than a thousand cases in that single state). Whereas, if we analyse the phenomenon as a whole, the national data amounts to 65 thousand cases of sexual abuse a year. At this point, it would be fair to conclude that the extent to which "cases in the parish" determine the total is clearly marginal. However, the overwhelming message pumped out by the media not only contradicts the numerical facts but has convinced public opinion that the Catholic Church is undoubtedly the centre of international crimes against minors.

The situation raises a question about the magistracy's and media's focus on the Catholic Church whilst ignoring all the other cases of abuse. There are a number of possible answers to this: specific abuses involving a religious and moral institution like the Church definitely attract more attention; it is also true that as the Church is the only institution to have addressed the problem directly, it has put itself in the spotlight. No answer will suffice, however, if the strong anti-Catholic prejudice that now dominates the West is not taken into consideration. Its sole purpose is to erase all traces of Christianity and in particular eradicate the Catholic version.

It's a paradox that the crisis caused by the emergence of the sexual abuse of priests is what is pushing the Church to surrender to the State. It was evident in both the preparations for and conclusions of the recent summit in the Vatican. Faced with the difficulty of how to deal with this phenomenon, many are now hoping that the civil courts will make a clean sweep of those who abuse children. Even Pope Francis reiterated his commitment to "bring to justice" anyone responsible for these crimes.

If the reference is indeed to civil justice, then his statement is full of dire consequences. It is one matter for victims to turn to the magistracy and to the ecclesiastical tribunals, but it is a different matter for the Church to open its own doors to civil judges. Furthermore, the risk of justice for the sake of justice is a real danger: the case of the recent condemnation of the Australian Cardinal George Pell is a resounding example. He was found guilty of abuse, despite the fact that there were no witnesses or corroborative evidence provided during the trial. On the contrary, the circumstances in which the abuse apparently occurred verge on the impossible. The strong anti-Catholic sentiment so diffuse in Australia, the internal wars of the Church and the certain involvement of priests in many cases of abuse have made the cardinal an effective scapegoat. Then there are the implications that this has on the sacrament of Confession and the vow of secrecy to which priests are bound. Even a progressive intellectual like Massimo Faggioli has recently defined the Church's surrender to "secular justice" as a "calamitous" development. It means accepting that the State can interfere in the life of the Church to the point that judges may interfere in the choice of bishops and the Pope, as already happens in politics.

It would be a nightmare if the scenario already in motion in the United States developed universally, where the judiciary would be able to prosecute clerical abusers under the anti-mafia law. In this case, prosecutors would treat the whole Church as a criminal organization and the Church would be annihilated by billionaire compensation claims, along with all its good works in education, health, etc. wiped out.

But there is another more serious aspect which concerns faith: this evident surrender to civil justice is the consequence of the Church's inability to speak of divine justice and to judge life from the perspective of eternal life, which should be the "core" business of the Church. In some way, this also explains why there are priest-molesters: when God's judgment is lost, the mentality of the world penetrates Catholicism. In any case, the Church's primary concern has always been to convert sinners, even criminals, and just to be clear, this has nothing to do with "forgiveness at any cost." In the past, Catholics did not demonstrate against the death penalty. Instead, priests accompanied the condemned to their deaths to save their souls.

The highest level of justice is in fact conversion. For this reason, it was not uncommon for criminals to shelter in convents and then have a chance to convert and atone their sins by living a life of prayer and penance. Instead today, there is a risk that it is precisely the convent that consign its religious members to the prison authorities. For some it might be a craved vengeance, but for everyone else it is a diminished hope.

Published with permission from La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.

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Cardinal Cupich and Archbishop Scicluna at Vatican Abuse Summit, Feb. 22, 2019.
Sandro Magister

Opinion, , ,

Bishops have stopped saying ‘adultery’ and ‘homosexuality,’ and that’s a bad thing

Sandro Magister
By

March 13, 2019 (L'Espresso) — It is a fact, not an opinion. The words "adultery" and "homosexuality" have both disappeared from the Magisterium of the Church, the highest, that which reports to the Roman pontiff.

About the first word this was already known. It disappeared completely just when it would have been most natural to say it, at the two synods on the family and shortly afterward, when Pope Francis settled the accounts in the exhortation "Amoris Laetitia."

The disappearance of the second is more recent. And this too happened right at the moment at which it seemed impossible not to say it: at the February 21–24 summit at the Vatican on sexual abuse committed by priests and bishops, almost all of it against the young and very young of the same sex.

"It is known that when one wishes to marginalize or eliminate some truth, there is no need to contradict it openly; on the contrary, this would be the worst strategy, because it would prompt open reactions and draw attention. Much better, instead, to pass over it in silence, not talk about it anymore, to lock it up with the old junk in the attic or the basement, and over the span of some time all memory of it will be lost, and life will go on as if it were no longer there."

This observation was made by Dom Giulio Meiattini, a Benedictine monk of the abbey of the Madonna della Scala in Noci, professor of theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome, in the preface to the second edition of his book "Amoris laetitia? The sacraments reduced to morality."

The preface can be read in its entirety on the blog of Aldo Maria Valli. But it is enough here to sample the passages most focused on the banning of these two words.

ADULTERY

Dom Meiattini writes:

The first change, which does not seem to have been grasped in its effective gravity because it has been dissembled, is the complete disappearance, not to say the banning, of the word 'adultery.' This is entirely absent from the two 'Instrumenta laboris' preceding the synods of 2014 and 2015, absent from the respective intermediate relations ('Relationes post disceptationem'), never used by the two final documents submitted for the approval of the synod fathers, and finally definitively buried by 'Amoris Laeitia.' Not a detail of little account. The teaching of the Church, from the time of the Fathers, has always made unmistakable reference to the evangelical and New Testament texts relative to adultery as an essential part of its teaching on indissoluble marriage, with the relative consequences on pastoral practice and canonical discipline. In the aforementioned presynodal, synodal, and postsynodal documents, however, these passages are never expressly cited, apart from a couple of fragments of Mt 19:8-9, from which however is censored precisely the passage that makes explicit reference to adultery.

It is the passage in which Jesus says that "whoever repudiates his wife, except in case of concubinage, and marries another commits adultery."

Dom Meiattini continues:

One must have the honesty to say it and to recognize it: already for some time in the Church there is very rarely any use of the word 'adultery' in preaching or in catechesis. Now instead, in deference to chapter 8 of 'Amoris Laetitia,' the preference is to use the neutral and innocuous term 'frailty,' which in most cases also replaces the very word 'sin.' Occasional conjugal infidelity or stable new unions subsequent to the sole marriage celebrated before God are no longer designated with the appropriate term with which Jesus and the Christian tradition define them: adultery. ... In the two synods and in 'Amoris Laetitia' the sin of adultery has been erased not with a sponge stroke, but rather with a stroke of silence: it is simply no longer spoken of. And what has become of all of those New Testament passages, above all from the gospels, that speak of it openly? All that appears of them is a faded reference in parentheses, preceded by the initials 'cf.'

HOMOSEXUALITY

The disappearance of the second word from the Church's magisterium — Dom Meiattini points out — has happened more gradually — first with a change of meaning and therefore of judgment, and then with its total abandonment.

The key moment of the change of judgment on homosexuality can be seen in paragraphs 50, 51, and 52 of the "Relatio post disceptationem" made public halfway through the 2014 synod on the family.

When on Ocober 13, 2014 the "Relatio" was presented to the press, cardinal delegate Péter Erdő — who formally figured as the author of the document — dissociated himself from those three paragraphs and attributed their surreptitious composition to Bruno Forte, appointed by the pope as special secretary of the synod. And the next day another cardinal of the highest rank, the South African Wilfrid Napier, denounced the irreparable damage that had been done with that coup de main: "The message has gone out: This is what the synod is saying, this is what the Catholic church is saying. No matter how we try correcting that ... there's no way of retrieving it."

What was written, in fact, in those three paragraphs? That homosexual behaviors must be "accepted" and that "mutual support to the point of sacrifice constitutes a valuable mainstay for the life of couples of the same sex," better still if gladdened by children.

Dom Meiattini comments:

These expressions prompted substantial and understandable reactions in the synodal assembly, so much so that at the 2015 synod and finally in 'Amoris Laetitia' there was a reversion to a few phrases that were much more sober and non-problematic. But it is clear that the words used in those paragraphs represented in any case an attempt at indirect legitimization, not even so veiled, of homosexuality and even of the adoption of children by homosexual couples.

In the run-up to the 2018 synod on young people, expectations were therefore high over what the hierarchy would say on the subject of homosexuality, after there peeped out in its base document, the "Instrumentum laboris," for the first time in an official text of the Church, the not innocent acronym LGBT.

Then, however, in the final document — in the composition of which it was communicated that "Pope Francis had also taken part personally" — only one brief generic reference was dedicated to homosexuality, in paragraph 150.

In regard to this, Dom Meiattini observes:

At first reading this seems to be a matter of a paragraph that at bottom is innocuous. The talk is of respect for homosexual persons, of pastoral initiatives for their integration. It is clear that no one would want to discriminate against these persons and fail to respect them. But what is striking, in these phrases, is not so much what is said, but rather the silence. The silence around the common doctrine of all time, according to which the homosexual inclination represents a disorder and giving in to it a sin. Silence, as is seen, seems to have become a method for softening consciences and intelligences. In keeping quiet one opens the way to oblivion.

And this brings us to the summit of February 21–24, 2019, from which there disappeared entirely not only the notion of but even the word "homosexuality." And to those at the press conference who asked why, Cardinal Blase Cupich and Bishop Charles Scicluna — the two main pilots of the event by the pope's mandate — responded that "homosexuality has nothing to do with the sexual abuse of minors," even though the evidence of the facts says the opposite.

Take note. The word "homosexuality" does not even appear where it would have been practically inevitable, if not obligatory, to say it. There is one passage in the most lauded relation of the nine given in the assembly, in which the Nigerian sister Veronica Openibo lists the "other issues around sexuality" in addition to that of the sexual abuse of minors that is the object of the summit. And here is the list: "misuse of power, money, clericalism, gender discrimination, the role of women and the laity in general." Full stop. Homosexuality is not there — replaced with its opposite, gender discrimination, which implies homophobia.

It is a silence, this — Dom Meiattini notes — that makes it such that by now in various parts of the world there are "priests and bishops who in practice recognize homosexual partnerships, even bless them, hope for their civil regulation and carefully avoid calling them what they are: a moral disorder, a sin that requires penitence, conversion, and forgiveness."

* * *

It remains to be explained if this twofold strategy of silence, on adultery and homosexuality, adopted by the Church of Pope Francis, is part of a coordinated and targeted plan.

The response of Dom Meiattini is affirmative. And he explains it as follows:

Between the downgrading of conjugal infidelity and illegitimate unions between man and woman from the sin of adultery to a simple imperfection or frailty, on the one hand, and the beginning of a subtle legitimization of homosexual relations, above all if they are "faithful," on the other, there exists a clear relationship of consequentiality.

In fact, if 'so-called irregular' (as 'Amoris Laetitia' calls them) unions between man and woman are no longer called adultery, but on the contrary do not even represent 'true' irregularities but are only 'frailty' or 'imperfections' with respect to the evangelical conjugal ideal (again according to the language used by 'Amoris Laetitia'), there falls the first obstacle for a recognition of the use of sexuality outside of marriage, at least as not condemnable. If we add to this the pastoral accessory of 'laissez-faire' (like entrusting pastoral positions to publicly cohabiting homosexuals, etc.), now the way to a tacit and de facto admission of same-sex couples outside of marriage is opened at least partway.

One can thus understand better the words of Cardinal Walter Kasper on the verge of the publication of 'Amoris Laetitia': that this would be only the first of a series of epochal changes in the history of the Church.

Published with permission from L'Espresso.

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William Kilpatrick

Opinion, ,

How close in ideology are Pope Francis and Bernie Sanders?

William Kilpatrick
By William Kilpatrick

March 13, 2019 (Turning Point Project) — Watching Bernie Sanders's speech announcing his candidacy for president, it struck me that — except for the part about a woman's right to choose — Pope Francis would have found himself in agreement with just about every item on the aging socialist warrior's agenda.

This reminded me for the umpteenth time that the pope has far more radical ideas than most people realize. Like Bernie Sanders, the pope is a socialist. He has had many unkind words about capitalism ("the dung of the devil"), but no corresponding criticism of socialism. Like Sanders, his ideas about economics were shaped by Marxist thinkers and activists. And just as Sanders and other socialist Democrats are moving the Democratic Party leftward, so also Pope Francis is attempting to move the Church in the same direction.

Although the field of candidates for the 2016 presidential election was a very large one, only one candidate received an invitation to speak at the Vatican. Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, invited Bernie Sanders to speak because, said Sorondo, his views "are very analogous to that of the pope." Sanders, who confessed to being a big fan of the pope, saw the invitation in the same light:

Look, I believe that the reason for which I was invited to participate in this conference is that many of the issues which the pope tackles are similar to mine.

Bishop Sorondo, by the way, is the same prelate who, after returning from his first trip to China, proclaimed that the Chinese are "the best implementers of the Church's social doctrine." Of course, if the Chinese communists really are the best practitioners of Catholic social doctrine, then there should be no problem in letting them select Catholic bishops. Unsurprisingly, not long after Bishop Sorondo returned from China, the Vatican concluded a deal with the Chinese government whereby the communist regime was given the power to appoint bishops.

But the man who did much of the preparatory work for the new understanding with China was not Sorondo, but a cardinal named Theodore McCarrick. According to Church Militant, "Over two decades, Theodore McCarrick helped lay the ground work for the 2018 China-Vatican accord recognizing communist-appointed bishops." Altogether, McCarrick made eight trips to China. His diplomatic efforts were interrupted in 2011 when Pope Benedict restricted him because of sex-abuse allegations, but he was reinstated as an unofficial ambassador by Pope Francis in 2013.

Pope Francis was well informed about the complaints against McCarrick, yet he reestablished him as an influential and powerful prelate. Why? The most probable answer is that McCarrick was an adroit networker with close connections to key people in the Democratic Party hierarchy. He hobnobbed with political elites. He concelebrated the funeral Masses of Senator Ted Kennedy and of Vice President Biden's son, Beau. Moreover, he was intimately involved in the Obama administrations negotiations to normalize relations between the U.S. and communist Cuba. At one point, McCarrick was acting as an unofficial mediator in Cuba for both Pope Francis and Barack Obama.

The fact that McCarrick was so welcome in both communist Cuba and communist China has raised some eyebrows. A recent Church Militant article suggests that Cardinal McCarrick may have been "effectively a communist plant in the heart of the Church." The article doesn't offer any solid proof of this, but it does offer a good deal of circumstantial evidence and "information from former communist personnel who were instrumental in setting up a secret network of indoctrination and training centers."

McCarrick? A communist plant? Maybe yes, maybe no. But if he turns out to be one, it's a good bet that Pope Francis would be unalarmed, seeing that his own views are so far to the left.

In The Political Pope, George Neumayr provides a detailed account of the many socialist and Marxist influences on Jorge Bergoglio, and how Bergoglio repaid the favor in part when, as Pope Francis, he rehabilitated several liberation theologians who had been sidelined and silenced by St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Francis continues to repay the debt by throwing the Church behind the causes of the global left, and by pushing the Church itself in a leftward direction.

The extensive coverage of the McCarrick affair makes it easy to forget that there are numerous other stains on the Francis papacy — and not all of them are sexual in nature. The case that the Francis papacy had already done extensive damage to the Church was laid out in two books that were published before the revelations about McCarrick broke in the summer of 2018. Regnery Publishers released a revised and updated version of Henry Sire's book The Dictator Pope in early 2018, yet Cardinal McCarrick is not even mentioned in it. McCarrick is mentioned in Neumayr's 2017 book, The Political Pope, but only as an example of one more liberal cleric whom Francis restored to power after Benedict had put him out to pasture. Although Neumayr does discuss several abusers who were protected by Francis, McCarrick is not among them.

The point is, when Francis put McCarrick back into circulation, it was not a one-off, but part of a pattern. The fact that Francis has made dozens of highly questionable appointments — most of whom seem to be on the Bernie Sanders side of the political spectrum — suggests that Francis's choices are the calculated moves of an ideologue whose main goal is to advance the ideology even if it means advancing compromised clerics. Either Francis is one of the world's worst judges of character, or character doesn't matter to him — at least, not nearly as much as his left-leaning agenda.

One of the pope's most baffling appointments is Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia. Described by Neumayr as a "social liberal," and by Sire as a "leading figure on the Italian Church's left," Paglia was appointed by Francis to head the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family and the Pontifical Academy for Life. Paglia dismissed all the existing members of the Academy for Life, and then appointed a new crew including a pro-abortion philosopher. Prior to his appointment to the Institute for Studies in Marriage and the Family, Paglia had been criticized for his support of homosexual unions, and for promoting a sex-education program for adolescents which, according to an article by two Catholic psychologists, contained pornographic images. But this didn't dissuade Pope Francis from making him the go-to man on marriage and family issues. And neither did the existence of a billboard size "homoerotic" mural commissioned by Archbishop Paglia in 2007 for his Cathedral in Treni. Paglia denies that the mural is "erotic." But whether it is or not, most people would consider the tangled collection of naked and semi-nude bodies (including the bishop himself) to be a strange choice to decorate the wall of a church. Likewise, one could be forgiven for thinking that archbishop Paglia is a strange choice to head up an institute on marriage and family.

Or maybe not so strange. If your purpose is to subvert traditional Catholic teaching on marriage and family rather than uphold it, then the appointment of Paglia makes sense. Francis has a habit of appointing people to key organizations who have little sympathy for the original purposes of those organizations. Several of the pope's selections seem intended to deconstruct the Catholic nature of the pontifical academies and institutes.

Take the aforementioned Bishop Sorondo — the one who invited Bernie Sanders to the Vatican, and praised the Chinese government for its social doctrine. Sorondo, who is thought to be the man behind Laudato Si, the pope's encyclical on the environment, is a proponent of the theory of man-made global warming. But Sorondo doesn't think it's a theory. On the contrary, he asserts that the pope's teaching on global warming "must be considered Magisterium — it is not an opinion." Sorondo seems to have arrived at the conclusion that if human activity is the cause of global warming, then fewer humans is the solution. Thus, he has suggested that Catholic families should have no more than two children, and that "it is legitimate for the state to intervene to orient the demography of the population." Not surprisingly, he regularly invites pro-abortion and population control advocates such as Paul Ehrlich, Jeffrey Sachs, and Ted Turner to speak at Vatican conferences. At the same time he has excluded Catholic pro-life population experts such as Steven Mosher, the president of the Population Research Institute. Lord Christopher Monckton, a former policy adviser to Margaret Thatcher who was also screened out by Sorondo, once accused the bishop of being "an out and out Marxist."

In addition to being chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Sorondo is also chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. This is an indication that Sorondo was chosen by the pope for these positions not because of his expertise, but because of his ideology. There's a world of difference between the social sciences and the natural sciences, and it's rare that an individual attains mastery in both fields. It's obvious that Sorondo was chosen not for his deep knowledge of science or social science, but for his ability to tap celebrities of a certain political persuasion. Perhaps the pope ought to carve out a third dicastery for Sorondo to head. It could be called the Pontifical Academy for Whatever's Trending. Bishop Sorondo might consider inviting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to give the inaugural address.

This is not really that much of a stretch. Bishop Sorondo has already hosted Bernie Sanders, and Ocasio-Cortez is, figuratively speaking, a child of Sanders — except that she has an even more expansive vision of socialism than Sanders. Ocasio-Cortez represents the merger of socialism with every leftist cause under the sun — environmentalism, green energy, borderless societies, transgenderism, and free everything. AOC supports them all. And she does so with a religious fervor that would put most Evangelical preachers to shame. Moreover, she is a bit of a church lady–type scold. She is the true believer who takes it upon herself to keep the less passionate members of the flock doctrinally pure.

For some people politics becomes a substitute for religion. And the more leftist your politics, the more fervently you espouse your faith. Right now the Democratic Party is made up of a great many such people — people who seek redemption through political action. David Horowitz, the radical leftist who turned conservative, described his communist parents and their friends as true believers. In a review of Horowitz's new book Dark Agenda, social critic Mark Tapson observes that their progressive religion was "not one concerned with the fate of souls," but rather, in Horowitz's words, with "the salvation of mankind." "They thought of themselves as the redeemers," writes Horowitz, "not God."

Meanwhile, as the Democratic Party becomes more like a church, the Church, under Francis, is becoming more like a leftist political party. Like the progressive faith of Horowitz's parents, Francis's increasingly "humanistic" Church seems less concerned with the salvation of souls and more concerned with the creation of an egalitarian utopian society here on earth.

This article originally appeared in the March 11, 2019 edition of Crisis. It is published here with permission from the Turning Point Project.

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Taylor Lewis

Opinion, ,

Anti-Natalism: When global warming fears make people terrified of having children

Taylor Lewis
By Taylor Lewis

March 13, 2019 (American Thinker) — Back in college, I participated in one of those summer-long, Koch-funded libertarian internship programs. During the final week of the program, clusters of us interns, fresh off working in the "real world" for two total months, were tasked with arguing an esoteric philosophical point of our choosing.

One group of impish participants decided to argue against having children. The argument was fiendishly simple: the very act of existing invites pain, so it's morally questionable to bring young ones into a world guaranteed to harm them. With toothy grins, wrinkled slacks, and tousled hair, these students made their nihilistic argument, finely exercising their ability to, as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

At the time, the arguers didn't believe their own position. The no-harm logic, while sound on the surface, meant human extinction when taken to its logical conclusion.

A mélange of college students hopped up on Leonard Read essays and overpriced beer understood the implications of eschewing childbirth. But what's Democrats' excuse?

It turns out my puckish colleagues may have been prophets for the most visible newcomer in America's liberal party. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the socialist and de facto Democratic leader, questions the wisdom of having kids. During an Instagram livestream, the 29-year-old congresswoman explains, in her termagant, ditzo manner, that Millennials like her don't want to bring children into a world where China and India are pushing the global temperature a jot or tittle higher.

"There's scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult. And it does lead young people to have a legitimate question: Is it OK to still have children?" she asked her legions of followers from her kitchen, wearing a beige turtleneck sweater to warm her body against one of the coldest winters in years.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez posits the same ethical challenge my fellow interns did years ago: is it morally kosher to have children if they will, someday, possibly suffer harm?

If you apply Ocasio-Cortez's thinking to any time in human history absent the short time period of post-World War II to the present, it doesn't stand up. Until the mid-twentieth century, many children had to contend with high infant mortality rates, slavery, sexual exploitation, hard labor, and a myriad of untreatable diseases like polio and hemophilia. What we think of as the relatively harmless lifestyle fit for children today — mandatory schooling through 18 years of age, widespread immunizations, Sesame Street — is so new to human existence that some grandparents alive today never experienced it.

You wouldn't be reading this column in the year 2019 had earlier generations become conditioned to Ocasio-Cortez's paralyzing fear. Yet the longue durée of human survival is increasingly forgotten by liberals who share a skeptical view of the future. A duo of fretting Cassandras recently appeared on a BBC program touting something called "Birthstrike," a movement to withhold the gift of life in service to apocalyptic prediction.

"The natural world is collapsing around us, and that's actually happening right now. And I'm so disappointed by the response by authorities to this crisis, and so freaked out by everything I've read that I've — I've basically last year I came to the decision that I couldn't bring a child into that," Blythe Pepino, founder of Birthstrike, explained to an audience currently experiencing a record-low birth rate. Her partner in petrification, Alice Brown, concurs, ratcheting up the fear a notch: "We are destroying biodiversity so quickly that it threatens our food ... the U.N. have said that can lead to the risk of our own extinction." Brown explains that her decision not to have children "has come from not wanting to pass that fear on to someone else."

Petrifying everyone else with world-ending divinations is perfectly fine, apparently.

There's a name for this swearing off procreation: anti-natalism. The philosophy — if self-imposed genocide can be called a philosophy — is, at its core, a deadening of everything it means to be human. It is both anti-life and misanthropic. "Homo sapiens is the most destructive species, and vast amounts of this destruction are wreaked on other humans," writes anti-natalist philosopher David Benatar.

How Benatar maintains the will to live with such a bleak view of himself isn't addressed. Like climate alarmists who pay thousands of dollars to travel around in carbon-emitting machines, Benatar doesn't seem to take his own philosophy seriously.

The divide between anti-natalist liberals and conservatives is, as Russell Kirk said of all political problems, spiritual at heart. Conservatives view life as intrinsically valuable — that all children are formed in the image of a loving God. Even if a baby will one day grow to harm someone else, he is still not denied his inner worth.

Along with neoliberal types concerned that Africa's high birth rate puts too much of a strain on economic resources, anti-natalists commit the dangerous fallacy of putting sublunary concerns above higher values. The road to despotism is paved with such intentions.

Then again, maybe that was the point all along.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

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Jamie Shupe obtaining a new military ID card with male sex designation in February 2019. Jamie Shupe
Jamie Shupe

Opinion, ,

I was America’s first ‘nonbinary’ person. It was all a sham.

Jamie Shupe
By Jamie Shupe

Editors' note: The following testimony reveals the shocking reality behind the "transgender" push in the West. The author acknowledges the truth of binary sex in human beings, and his use of terms like "women who become men," "transgender women," and "my gender change" can be read as sarcasm and not reflective of reality.

March 13, 2019 (Daily Signal) — Four years ago, I wrote about my decision to live as a woman in The New York Times, writing that I had wanted to live "authentically as the woman that I have always been," and had "effectively traded my white male privilege to become one of America's most hated minorities."

Three years ago, I decided that I was neither male nor female, but nonbinary — and made headlines after an Oregon judge agreed to let me identify as a third sex, not male or female.

Now, I want to live again as the man that I am.

I'm one of the lucky ones. Despite participating in medical transgenderism for six years, my body is still intact. Most people who desist from transgender identities after gender changes can't say the same.

But that's not to say I got off scot-free. My psyche is eternally scarred, and I've got a host of health issues from the grand medical experiment.

Here's how things began.

After convincing myself that I was a woman during a severe mental health crisis, I visited a licensed nurse practitioner in early 2013 and asked for a hormone prescription. "If you don't give me the drugs, I'll buy them off the internet," I threatened.

Although she'd never met me before, the nurse phoned in a prescription for 2 mg of oral estrogen and 200 mg of Spironolactone that very same day.

The nurse practitioner ignored that I have chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, having previously served in the military for almost 18 years. All of my doctors agree on that. Others believe that I have bipolar disorder and possibly borderline personality disorder.

I should have been stopped, but out-of-control transgender activism had made the nurse practitioner too scared to say no.

I'd learned how to become a female from online medical documents at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital website.

After I began consuming the cross-sex hormones, I started therapy at a gender clinic in Pittsburgh so that I could get people to sign off on the transgender surgeries I planned to have.

All I needed to do was switch over my hormone operating fuel and get my penis turned into a vagina. Then I'd be the same as any other woman. That's the fantasy the transgender community sold me. It's the lie I bought into and believed.

Only one therapist tried to stop me from crawling into this smoking rabbit hole. When she did, I not only fired her; I filed a formal complaint against her. "She's a gatekeeper," the trans community said.

Professional stigma against "conversion therapy" had made it impossible for the therapist to question my motives for wanting to change my sex.

The "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (Fifth Edition) says one of the traits of gender dysphoria is believing that you possess the stereotypical feelings of the opposite sex. I felt that about myself, yet no therapist discussed it with me.

Two weeks hadn't passed before I found a replacement therapist. The new one quickly affirmed my identity as a woman. I was back on the road to getting vaginoplasty.

There's abundant online literature informing transgender people that their sex change isn't real. But when a licensed medical doctor writes you a letter essentially stating that you were born in the wrong body and a government agency or court of law validates that delusion, you become damaged and confused. I certainly did.

Painful Roots

My trauma history resembles a ride down the Highway of Death during the first Gulf War.

As a child, I was sexually abused by a male relative. My parents severely beat me. At this point, I've been exposed to so much violence and had so many close calls that I don't know how to explain why I'm still alive. Nor do I know how to mentally process some of the things I've seen and experienced.

Dr. Ray Blanchard has an unpopular theory that explains why someone like me may be drawn to transgenderism. He claims there are two types of transgender women: homosexuals that are attracted to men, and men who are attracted to the thought or image of themselves as females.

It's a tough thing to admit, but I belong to the latter group. We are classified as having autogynephilia.

After having watched pornography for years while in the Army and being married to a woman who resisted my demands to become the ideal female, I became that female instead. At least in my head.

While autogynephilia was my motivation to become a woman, gender stereotypes were my means of implementation. I believed wearing a long wig, dresses, heels, and makeup would make me a woman.

Feminists begged to differ on that. They rejected me for conforming to female stereotypes. But as a new member of the transgender community, I beat up on them, too. The women who become men don't fight the transgender community's wars. The men in dresses do.

Medical Malpractice

The best thing that could have happened would have been for someone to order intensive therapy. That would have protected me from my inclination to cross-dress and my risky sexual transgressions, of which there were many.

Instead, quacks in the medical community hid me in the women's bathroom with people's wives and daughters. "Your gender identity is female," these alleged professionals said.

The medical community is so afraid of the trans community that it's now afraid to give someone Blanchard's diagnosis. Trans men are winning in medicine, and they've won the battle for language.

Think of the word "transvestite." They've succeeded in making it a vulgar word, even though it just means men dressing like women. People are no longer allowed to tell the truth about men like me. Everyone now has to call us transgender instead.

The diagnostic code in my records at the VA should read Transvestic Disorder (302.3). Instead, the novel theories of Judith Butler and Anne Fausto-Sterling have been used to cover up the truths written about by Blanchard, J. Michael Bailey, and Alice Dreger.

I confess to having been motivated by autogynephilia during all of this. Blanchard was right.

Trauma, hypersexuality owing to childhood sexual abuse, and autogynephilia are all supposed to be red flags for those involved in the medical arts of psychology, psychiatry, and physical medicine — yet nobody except for the one therapist in Pittsburgh ever tried to stop me from changing my sex. They just kept helping me to harm myself.

Escaping to 'Nonbinary'

Three years into my gender change from male to female, I looked hard into the mirror one day. When I did, the facade of femininity and womanhood crumbled.

Despite having taken or been injected with every hormone and antiandrogen concoction in the VA's medical arsenal, I didn't look anything like a female. People on the street agreed. Their harsh stares reflected the reality behind my fraudulent existence as a woman. Biological sex is immutable.

It took three years for that reality to set in with me.

When the fantasy of being a woman came to an end, I asked two of my doctors to allow me to become nonbinary instead of female to bail me out. Both readily agreed.

After pumping me full of hormones — the equivalent of 20 birth control pills per day — they each wrote a sex change letter. The two weren't just bailing me out. They were getting themselves off the hook for my failed sex change. One worked at the VA. The other worked at Oregon Health & Science University.

To escape the delusion of having become a woman, I did something completely unprecedented in American history. In 2016, I convinced an Oregon judge to declare my sex to be nonbinary — neither male nor female.

In my psychotic mind, I had restored the mythical third sex to North America. And I became the first legally recognized nonbinary person in the country.

Celebrity Status

The landmark court decision catapulted me to instant fame within the LGBT community. For 10 nonstop days afterward, the media didn't let me sleep. Reporters hung out in my Facebook feed, journalists clung to my every word, and a Portland television station beamed my wife and me into living rooms in the United Kingdom.

Becoming a woman had gotten me into The New York Times. Convincing a judge that my sex was nonbinary got my photos and story into publications around the world.

Then, before the judge's ink had even dried on my Oregon sex change court order, a Washington, D.C.–based LGBT legal aid organization contacted me. "We want to help you change your birth certificate," they offered.

Within months, I scored another historic win after the Department of Vital Records issued me a brand new birth certificate from Washington, D.C., where I was born. A local group called Whitman-Walker Health had gotten my sex designation on my birth certificate switched to "unknown." It was the first time in D.C. history a birth certificate had been printed with a sex marker other than male or female.

Another transgender legal aid organization jumped on the Jamie Shupe bandwagon, too. Lambda Legal used my nonbinary court order to help convince a Colorado federal judge to order the State Department to issue a passport with an X marker (meaning nonbinary) to a separate plaintiff named Dana Zzyym.

LGBT organizations helping me to screw up my life had become a common theme. During my prior sex change to female, the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund had gotten my name legally changed. I didn't like being named after the uncle who'd molested me. Instead of getting me therapy for that, they got me a new name.

A Pennsylvania judge didn't question the name change, either. Wanting to help a transgender person, she had not only changed my name, but at my request also sealed the court order, allowing me to skip out on a ton of debt I owed because of a failed home purchase and begin my new life as a woman. Instead of merging my file, two of the three credit bureaus issued me a brand new line of credit.

Walking Away From Fiction

It wasn't until I came out against the sterilization and mutilation of gender-confused children and transgender military service members in 2017 that LGBT organizations stopped helping me. Most of the media retreated with them.

Overnight, I went from being a liberal media darling to a conservative pariah.

Both groups quickly began to realize that the transgender community had a runaway on their hands. Their solution was to completely ignore me and what my story had become. They also stopped acknowledging that I was behind the nonbinary option that now exists in 11 states.

The truth is that my sex change to nonbinary was a medical and scientific fraud. Consider the fact that before the historic court hearing occurred, my lawyer informed me that the judge had a transgender child.

Sure enough, the morning of my brief court hearing, the judge didn't ask me a single question. Nor did this officer of the court demand to see any medical evidence alleging that I was born something magical. Within minutes, the judge just signed off on the court order.

I do not have any disorders of sexual development. All of my sexual confusion was in my head. I should have been treated. Instead, at every step, doctors, judges, and advocacy groups indulged my fiction.

The carnage that came from my court victory is just as precedent-setting as the decision itself. The judge's order led to millions of taxpayer dollars being spent to put an X marker on driver's licenses in 11 states so far. You can now become male, female, or nonbinary in all of them.

In my opinion, the judge in my case should have recused herself. In doing so, she would have spared me the ordeal yet to come. She also would have saved me from having to bear the weight of the big secret behind my win.

I now believe that she wasn't just validating my transgender identity. She was advancing her child's transgender identity, too.

A sensible magistrate would have politely told me no and refused to sign such an outlandish legal request. "Gender is just a concept. Biological sex defines all of us," that person would have said.

In January 2019, unable to advance the fraud for another single day, I reclaimed my male birth sex. The weight of the lie on my conscience was heavier than the value of the fame I'd gained from participating in this elaborate swindle.

Two fake gender identities couldn't hide the truth of my biological reality. There is no third gender or third sex. Like me, intersex people are either male or female. Their condition is the result of a disorder of sexual development, and they need help and compassion.

I played my part in pushing forward this grand illusion. I'm not the victim here. My wife, daughter, and the American taxpayers are — they are the real victims.

Published with permission from The Daily Signal.

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Peter Bleyer

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Too many Catholic bishops don’t really seem to care about ending abortion

Peter Bleyer
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March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – My 15-year-old son recently received the Sacrament of Confirmation, which “gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ.” (Catechism 1303)  

From his actions it appears that 15-year-old Nick Sandmann, from Covington Catholic, also made his Confirmation and used the wisdom and courage he gained, to defend himself from attacks made by the very bishop who would have confirmed him. 

Unfortunately, in view of the extensive history of child abuse by Catholic clergy, Nick’s persecution by bishops and priests came as no surprise. 

That he spent 16 hours on a bus, endured a racist mob, and stood his ground in the face of a threatening older man, all on account of his desire to witness to the lives of preborn children, did not resonate with those who persecuted him. They preferred to voice their intolerance of the high school student because of his red MAGA hat, never considering that Making America Great Again might require outlawing the brutal murders of the unborn. Like the hypocrites Jesus exposed as they prepared to stone the woman caught in adultery (John 8), President Trump denounced these self-righteous pundits as he strongly defended Nick Sandmann.  

The arguments surrounding abortion center on two aspects. The first is that human life begins at fertilization. As a physician, I know that lying about this fact does not change its truth. The second is the belief, as Pope John Paul II stated in Evangelium Vitae, that all life has equal value, a view which is clearly not universally shared. 

Abortion can be rationalized only under the pretense that human lives have different values. 

It is a view in which the strong are positioned to decide the fate of the weak, one in which all totalitarian regimes operate. In 2014 in America, 926,200 surgical abortions were performed, 491,000 of which were for black and Hispanic (53% combined) mothers.  Black lives, which arguably only matter outside the womb, were the most expendable, with an approximate 30% chance of being aborted, compared to a 10% chance for white children. (Servicemen in WW2 had a 0.86% chance of dying in combat.) In an objective analysis, a rich white Catholic woman who vigorously promotes a procedure that exterminates black children at 3 times the rate of white children should be deemed a racist.  Yet liberal black leaders proudly stand with Nancy Pelosi, acting deeply offended by inconsequential old racist pictures, while supporting a procedure that brutally limits the US black population.  

Saint John Paul II fully understood abortion stating in 1996, “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.”  For many years I have been a single-issue voter because I  love my country as it was founded.  Pro-abortion politicians, who are willing to sacrifice human life for political gain, will apparently do anything to promote themselves, including the denial of medical care to a newborn struggling to survive after a botched abortion.  During my medical residency, I delivered 100 babies. It is an emotionally intense few moments as the struggling newborn is quickly assessed by the medical team and resuscitated by all means necessary.  In my life I have never met anyone of any faith or no faith, who could stand idly by as a newborn writhes in agony, dying a slow death.  That is what makes Catholic Senators Durbin, Gillibrand, Kaine, Leahy, Reed, Cantwell, Markey, Menendez, Masto and Murray so extraordinary; they apparently can.

Watching our bishops lackluster attempt to fight abortion reminds me of an overwhelmed Notre Dame Football team down 30-3 in the fourth quarter. For much of the clergy, it appears, rationalizing that all life perhaps does not have equal value is much easier than working with the courage needed to protect all life equally. As a result, condemnation of the many Catholic politicians who consider abortion a fine solution for unwanted pregnancy is minimal, as Pope Francis illustrated by avoiding the topic, in his 50-minute 2015 address to both houses of Congress.

To place this in proper context, imagine 100 Catholic politicians proposing the annual murder of 926,200 illegal immigrant children as the solution for unwanted illegal immigration; or the extermination of all elderly in nursing homes as a solution to the unwanted budget deficit. Would Pope Francis and our bishops treat those 100 Catholic politicians in the same manner they treat Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and Mario Cuomo? Would a cardinal send out a spokesman to relate an inability to act and then claim that excommunication should occur only when there is no anger or frustration with the sinner, effectively washing his hands of the problem? 

Further threatening the lives of the unborn, top Church leaders and many in the media have actively redefined the term "prolife," which is now understood to encompass every issue affecting humanity. Being against Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is not prolife, littering is not prolife, wearing a MAGA hat is not prolife, etc. Deceptively equating the evil of abortion with anything else undermines the fight against it. The medical community performed similarly in 1965 when it unscientifically redefined conception to be implantation rather than fertilization, as a means to hide the anti-life effects of oral contraceptives. In both cases, words used to clarify the abortion argument have been effectively neutralized.  

One of my lifetime blessings was to live and grow in faith under the leadership of St John Paul II.  My oldest daughter was blessed by him as I held her outstretched in my arms at the basilica in Rome 17 years ago.  For my 5 children aged 10 -20, it is Donald Trump, a sinner, with words sometimes sadly lacking in eloquence and charity, whose public actions nonetheless best demonstrate the leadership today’s Catholic youth need.  Whether it is taking strong action to defend unborn children from racist practices, defending Catholic youth against unjust attacks from the Church itself, or having the courage to deal with the immorality of longstanding United States immigration policy, President Trump stands strongly and bravely in opposition to the totalitarian godless state. Much more than his policies, however, it is his willingness to fight unapologetically for the Christian principles upon which America was founded that explains why he is so vehemently hated and feared by the left and why young faithful Catholics like Nick wear red MAGA hats. 

Frustratingly, rather than collaborate with Trump on important subjects of agreement like abortion and religious freedom, and at the same time have honest discussions on areas of disagreement like immigration, Pope Francis appears to prefer insulting Trump, questioning his Christianity and his prolife credentials, while signaling to US bishops that opposition to Trump is necessary for promotion.  Meanwhile, to the abortion-thirsty and anti-green Communist Chinese government, Pope Francis has given the power to nominate Catholic bishops. I imagine American bishops would immediately find strength they claim they do not have if Trump were to be given the same power as President Xi Jinping. 

In 2006 four liberal Supreme Court Justices, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, argued for a woman's right to abort their late term unborn children.

The specific procedure is described this way:

The doctor kept the head right inside the uterus. . . .“‘The baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head, and the baby’s arms jerked out, like a startle reaction, like a flinch, like a baby does when he thinks he is going to fall. “‘The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby went completely limp. . . .  He threw the baby in a pan.’” – Gonzales v. Carhart 2006

Since 1973 this, or equally brutal techniques like dismemberment or saline abortion, have been used to kill 60,000,000 American human beings, a fact many American Catholics seem comfortable with, despite the devastating effect it has had on the Church and the country. The only imaginable way in which this overwhelming evil can be considered of equal importance to any other issue affecting Americans, is if unborn lives have minimal value. 

The fact that our Bishops seem very comfortable with self-limiting their ability to fight abortion suggests they have this belief.  Religiously speaking, until our bishops begin using the power of excommunication, they are neither doing all they can to protect unborn lives, nor doing everything possible to save the souls of those who promote the murder of the unborn. Despite suggestions to the contrary, the Church not excommunicating Catholic pro-abortion politicians, is itself political, as bishops appear more concerned about offending liberal Catholics than they are about the damage these politicians do to the faith. Over the years, as the number of pro-abortion catholic politicians has grown exponentially, and their positions have become more barbaric, I have read hundreds of unmoving reasons why excommunication is inappropriate, while collecting convincing data on the 60,000,000 reasons why it should be done.  Could our country become any more bloodthirsty? The disheartening truth is again that Catholics worldwide have lost the truth on human life and its value.  Not until the Church stands courageously against abortion will it have the equal courage necessary to act decisively and end its abuse crisis. 

Take it from a wound-care physician; the Catholic Church is deeply wounded. Accepting the murder of children complacently for so long has had a devastating impact, not only on the children but also for the faithful. As the hierarchy goes through the motions in dealing with abortion and the abuse crisis, evidence is lacking that the Church honestly values all lives equally.  Healing will come only with asking the Lord for forgiveness and working like we sincerely and honestly and truthfully mean it when saying all life has equal value.

Peter Michael Bleyer, MD, is a Board Certified Family Practice Physician working as a wound care physician in Conway, South Carolina. He is a member of the Catholic Medical Association. He is a father of five and a US Navy retiree. 

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Christian author: YouTube demonetized my 1,600 videos…and wouldn’t explain why

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By Dr. Michael Brown

March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — I was getting ready for my radio show on Monday when I spotted an announcement on the AskDrBrown YouTube channel. The entire channel — now, almost 1,600 videos — had been demonetized.

By now, I've been used to the constantly changing standards of YouTube, not to mention the nonexistent customer service.

I'm talking about YouTube approving a video one day that speaks out against abortion while telling me the next day that a generic video where I answer caller questions about the Bible is not suitable for most advertisers.

As I've written before, if it weren't so ridiculous, it would be funny.

And, to emphasize this once again, while YouTube/Google is a private company, the people running it are obligated to abide by their guidelines and to enforce them in an even-handed and fair way. This they have not done.

So, what was the reason they demonetized my entire channel, robbing our non-profit ministry of income that goes straight back into our ministry work?

Similar to what Steven Crowder has recently experienced, they claimed it was due to copyright violations.

But here's the thing.

There are a handful of videos that we received notices about for using a music clip or TV clip that they claimed was not fair usage. But in each case, they made clear this was not a strike against us, that we were not in any trouble with them, and that there was nothing we needed to do.

In the end, a few of those videos were demonetized based on these alleged copyright violations.

End of subject.

No warning. No explanation. Nothing.

When I wrote to them calling for clarification and appealing their decision, I received an email back two days later, stating this. (If you get frustrated easily, brace yourself.)

"Upon checking, your channel was demonetized due to re-used content. As much as I'd love to help, this has already been reviewed by our internal team and they've determined that your channel does not comply with the YouTube Partner Program terms. Unfortunately, we cannot provide you with specific details as to how it led to this decision and there's no option to appeal."

Yes, this was their official response.

We will not explain why.

We will give you no examples of what you've allegedly done wrong.

And you cannot appeal.

The end. (Oh, you can reapply in 30 days!)

Yes, there was more to the email than that, but the rest was just window dressing, irrelevant links, and a hello and goodbye.

Of course, we will push back every way we know how, first because these are unfair business practices and second because pushing back against YouTube's double standards is the thing to do.

And while I can't say for sure that this happened to us because we are outspoken conservative Bible-believers, I can say with certainty that Google/YouTube has certainly made clear where it stands on these issues.

In fact, this very week, a software engineer with Google has blown the whistle, exposing Google's extreme anti-Christian bias.

As reported by Tyler O'Neil on PJ Media, "Early Wednesday morning, Google software engineer Mike Wacker went public with an incident showing anti-religious bias among the company's Human Resources (HR) division. HR slammed Christian YouTube ads as 'homophobic' and 'very counter to our mission' in a newsletter that goes to 30,000+ employees at the company."

Wacker documented this on Twitter, noting that one of the two videos singled out by Google as being "very counter to our mission" was my video "Can You Be Gay and Christian?" (For more on the attack on this video, see here and here.)

Since last June, YouTube no longer allows us to advertise the video (although it has not removed it, at least), despite the fact that it simply lays out what the Bible says about homosexual practice.

There is no vitriol. There is no homophobia. There is no hatred.

But there is compassion and the offer of grace and the promise of hope.

Yet Google branded this "very counter to our mission," and YouTube forbade us from advertising the video on any YouTube channel.

That's why I asked if YouTube would soon be banning the Bible, since its battle is with God and His Word, not with me.

Whatever the reason for YouTube's latest actions against us, we will continue to get our message out. We will get legal counsel as to our options. And we will not take one step backwards, using every platform we have accessible to us to speak the truth in love.

We'll keep you posted on the ongoing drama, but if our videos have been a blessing to you, consider helping us right now with a one-time gift.

As my radio announcer states every day, I'm here to be your voice of moral, cultural, and spiritual revolution — not moral, cultural, and spiritual capitulation.

Forward!

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Have US bishops sold out to the ‘open borders’ world order?

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By Stephen Kokx

March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of 14 Catholic bishops who live on the U.S. and Mexican sides of the Texas-Mexico border have signed a statement rebuking President Trump’s immigration policies. It’s a mixed bag.

I’ve previously written about how the bishops rely on proof-texting Bible verses to support their open borders stance. Read here. Unsurprisingly, their latest statement begins by quoting Matthew 25:35 (one of their favorites): “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” 

Quite obviously, Catholics must do this. But always with prudence. There is an order to charity that, at least when it comes to matters of national policy, must first be extended to fellow Americans. To my knowledge, U.S. bishops have never called for a limit on the number of years refugees should stay in the United States. Nor have they endorsed a cap on how many of them should be allowed in. On this, they’re in lockstep with the Democrat Party, which wants a steady flow of persons coming in over the southern border. I’d be shocked to learn if any of the bishops were in favor of putting ceilings on either figure. But unlimited and indiscriminate flooding of strangers into a country clearly violates Catholic principles on the rights and duties of nations to protect their common good. (Read more on that topic in this in-depth interview with a priest from the Society of St. Pius X.)

The bishops go on to say that extreme violence and poverty is what drives many immigrants to the border and that we shouldn’t “assume they are criminals, as they are sometimes perceived.” Many of them are “victims of criminal elements in their own countries.”

True. But why don’t the bishops call for improvement to the Mexican economy or for their police force to be more effective? Isn’t that the root of the problem? The drug trade and the multinational corporations in the U.S. that entice workers to cross the border illegally are also at fault. Yet Trump has been the toughest president ever on the Mexican cartels and on opioid addiction in the United States. Very few, if any, American bishops praise him for his efforts. Deal Hudson is right to wonder if the bishops are plotting to make sure Trump doesn’t get re-elected in 2020.

What the bishop’s statement also embarrassingly implies is that the Mexican Bishops Conference has done such a poor job at preaching the Gospel that the country has become such a wasteland of corruption that every person should be allowed to claim refugee status in the United States. As absurd as that sounds, it’s not hard to imagine the bishops being unopposed to transplanting half of Mexico into the United States.

If the bishops were serious about solving the border crisis they’d issue a statement imploring the Mexican people and their leaders to live out their Catholic faith so true peace and harmony would flourish, thus eliminating the need for persons to flee in the first place. Human beings have a duty to better their home country before giving up on it and jetting off to another one.

Rather than act as if Mexico is a failed state like Libya, which it is not, the bishops should throw their support behind measures that streamline the legal immigration process in the United States instead of turn a blind eye to those crossing illegally. They should also be more vocal in calling for economic assistance for Mexico’s poorest citizens, which is precisely what the Trump administration has already done. Last year, the president announced $5.8 billion in aid and investment for government and economic development in Central America, and another $4.8 billion for southern Mexico.

The remainder of the bishops’ statement calls for some changes in the way the U.S. handles court cases with asylum seekers. It also asks for God’s help to “welcome, protect, promote, and integrate immigrants, as requested by Pope Francis.”

Fine. But I can’t remember the last time the bishops or Pope Francis actually called for immigrants to be truly integrated into the country they arrive in. Isn’t this the pope who believes in “unity in diversity” and apologizes to aboriginal peoples?

When it comes to the issue of immigration, U.S. bishops never tire of using language that guilts Americans into thinking they’re committing sin by supporting a border wall. This is false. As St. Thomas Aquinas taught, the number of persons let in to a country must be balanced with the natural and supernatural common good of the country receiving them. In other words, economics, costs to the taxpayer, the education system, social harmony, and the entire gamut of other issues related to a nation’s overall health must be part of the equation. A country has the right to preservation and to be free from groups of persons that would radically disrupt its equilibrium. Immigrants also have the duty to integrate themselves into the welcoming country. 

Germany is learning this lesson the hard way after letting in millions of Muslims from the Middle East, the vast majority of whom are un-assimilable young men. Not only is Germany’s day to day life witnessing civil unrest and rampant sex crimes, it may not even be German in thirty years if its low birth rate doesn’t pick up. The entire country will have been annihilated by Islam.

Some may say that the United States is better off with more immigrants. “Diversity is our strength! We are a nation of immigrants,” it's often remarked.

I guess that depends on whether or not you think social cohesion is enhanced when Americans have fewer things in common with their neighbors. In past centuries, immigrants assimilated into the mainstream American culture, which was deeply rooted in Western values. In recent decades, social justice warriors have made the United States a balkanized, identity politics-driven cesspool of hatred where minorities and illegal immigrants have been taught to despise “privileged” white Christians, white men in particular (the media’s reaction to the Covington story is proof enough of that). How is America better off?

I guess it also depends on whether or not you think immigration is being used by Democrats to grow their base and if it's being employed by international elites to create a cosmopolitan, secular world order without borders. It’s clear to me that this is precisely what’s going on. But don’t take my word for it. Take former Secretary of State John Kerry’s, who in 2016 told graduates of Northeastern University to ready themselves to enter “a complex and borderless world.”

Count me among those who see things the way Archbishop Schneider of Kazakhstan and Cardinal Robert Sarah do. Both men have on multiple occasions said there is an orchestrated, globalist plot utilizing mass migration to de-Christianize the West and to create a blended, post-national, one-dimensional world. Shame on U.S. Bishops for not echoing their remarks.

A never-ending stream of millions of persons across America’s southern border violates Catholic principles on immigration and the rights of nations to protect their common good. A nation’s borders, language, and culture can and should be defended, most especially if the country has a Christian orientation. Read this essay and this response to it from The Josias website to learn more about the Church’s teachings on immigration, which are far much more complex than a single Bible verse about welcoming the stranger.

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German theologian who influenced Pope Francis sees ‘sign’ pope open to female deacons

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By Maike Hickson

March 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Professor Peter Hünermann – a German theologian whose work influenced Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia and who recommended to the Pope the establishment of a commission on the female diaconate – said in an interview last week that he sees a “sign” that Pope Francis might be open to a female diaconate. 

Speaking on March 8 with the German bishops' news website, Katholisch.de, Professor Hünermann – a retired theology professor of the University of Tübingen – related that, according to his own sources, the Vatican commission on the female diaconate did not endorse the idea of female deacons. But he nevertheless thinks that Pope Francis does not agree with the report of this commission.

In 2016, the German professor had personally recommended to Pope Francis that he establish a commission on the history of the female diaconate and on the “admission of women to the diaconate” in the Catholic Church, as Hünermann openly revealed in 2017. Asked about the results of that commission – which Pope Francis indeed established in 2016 – Hünermann explained that the final “statement of the study commission has not yet been published.” (According to one of the commission members, Professor Karl-Heinz Menke, that report had been finished in June of 2018 and handed over to the Pope.) The report, said Hünermann, came to the conclusion that “one cannot decide this question [of the female diaconate].” As another report has it concerning this same commission's report, the historical sources are too scarce to give a fuller picture of the history of the female diaconate.

For Hünermann, however, the fact that the Pope “has withheld the results for months now, is a sign for me that he does not agree with this statement as it stands.”

Further explaining his own position in the matter, the German professor said that for the Eastern churches “the female diaconate was taken for granted. Only recently, the [Orthodox] Eastern churches have reintroduced the female diaconate.” Thus, he added, “I do not understand how one reasonably can claim that participation of women in the ordained office is impossible.”

The German theologian pointed to the discussion about the Amazon region, saying that there, “perhaps once a year, a priest comes by and married couples are leading the parishes.” He asked why it is that only men “are given this responsibility?” 

Professor Hünermann, according to a 2016 Commonweal Magazine interview, has worked on this topic for “over forty years.” He said he was “happy” when he heard that Pope Francis established a commission to study the issue of the female diaconate. “I think the women diaconate would be a great step toward integrating women sacramentally into the service that they already do.”

In that same interview, Hünermann revealed that he has known Pope Francis personally since 1968 and that they met together for years “almost once per year” in Buenos Aires, and that he often stayed at then-Jorge Bergoglio's Jesuit seminary residence when visiting and teaching in Argentina. He also recounted how the Pope invited him for a one-hour conversation at the papal residence Santa Marta in May of 2015 in preparation for the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. He also explained that he prepared a paper ahead of this meeting with the Pope and that he presented to him arguments as to why papal documents such as Casti Cannubii (1930) were “too narrow,” and why at times a marriage can “break down.” “If there are children and so on,” he explained, “one has to deal with the individual situation and attempt to find a pastoral situation.” The German theologian also describes some of his thoughts on the nature of the Sacrament of Penance, at which it is the essential point that the penitent “must manifest his will to be reconciled.” “Satisfaction here is not the application of a law or a decree,” he stated.

Thus, the German professor pointed out that Amoris Laetitia points to a new understanding of “reconciliation,” and of the discussion with a priest which “leads to a possibility of reconciliation with God, and it opens the door to receive the Eucharist.”

In the March 8 Katholisch.de interview, he also discussed the strong criticism that he had repeatedly received from Pope Benedict XVI (as well as from then-Cardinal Ratzinger) because of his liberal views. Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger even once called the German theologian the “President of the Socialist International,” when Hünermann had been elected President of the European Society for Catholic Theology. When meeting with Ratzinger in Rome, explained the German theologian, the then-Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith said to him: “So, Mr. Hünermann, now you are the President of the Socialist International.” In his view, Ratzinger then had a critical “monologue” about the state of moral theology in Germany and about individual German theologians, and “it was terrible,” said Hünermann.

Hünermann had been part of the strong German opposition against Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae vitae which forbade the use of contraceptives. He had signed the 1989 Cologne Declaration against – among other things – Humanae Vitae, and this act of resistance was, according to him, “diplomatically defended” by then-Bishop Karl Lehmann, the later President of the German Bishops' Conference which was later told, in 1999, by Pope John Paul II not to participate in the German system of counseling pregnant women, which can provide a counseling certificate for a legal abortion.

It was Professor Hünermann who, in 2018, was the object of the “Lettergate” affair surrounding a set of books written about the “Theology of Pope Francis,” one of which had been written by the same German theologian. Pope Benedict, in a letter that was published in part by Monsignor Dario Viganò (without Benedict's permission), stated that he would not contribute a foreword to a set of books that had Hünermann as one of its authors. The retired Pope explained his own decision with the fact that this German theologian was known for his “anti-papal” initiatives. Benedict wrote:

Only as a footnote, I wish to note my surprise over the fact that Professor Hünermann, who during my pontificate distinguished himself for spearheading anti-papal efforts, is also featured among the authors. He was a key figure in the release of the “Kölner Erklärung,” which in relation to the encyclical Veritatis Splendor, virulently attacked the Pope’s magisterial authority, especially on issues of moral theology. Additionally, the “Europäische Theologengesellschaft,” which he founded, was initially conceived by him as an organization in opposition to the papal magisterium.

In response to this letter, the European Society for Catholic Theology made a statement on its website defending Professor Hünermann, stating: “However, it is with regret that we also note criticism of one of the authors of the collection of books that occasioned the letter, namely, Prof Peter Hünermann, who is a founder, the first president and now the honorary president of our Society.”

LifeSiteNews reached out to Professor Hünermann and asked for comment and more information on the Female Deacon Commission and Pope Francis' possible decision, but did not hear back from him.

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