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Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla.
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Bishop says he’s prepared for ‘martyrdom’ as Spanish gov’t probes his ‘illegal’ program to help gays

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By Martin Barillas

MADRID, April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Worshipers filled the cathedral in Alcalá de Henares in Spain to show solidarity with Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla, who called on bishops and priests to be ready for martyrdom while the government pursues a probe into alleged illegal “conversion therapy” for homosexuals that it says is offered by the Catholic Church.

On April 6, after praying the Rosary with hundreds of people who filled the pews in the historic church near Madrid, Bishop Reig Pla explained to them what he told his fellow bishops on April 4 when they gathered at a plenary meeting. Speaking without notes, as is his custom, the bishop referred to a government probe into the diocesan Center for Family Counseling and whether its guidance to persons with same-sex attractions is in violation of laws prohibiting so-called conversion therapies.

The leader of Madrid’s regional government called upon the government’s Council on Social Policy to investigate the Diocese of Alcalá de Henares after a reporter posed as a homosexual earnestly seeking counseling at the counseling center. For an article published April 1 by El Diario, the journalist attended a session at the Regina Familiae family counseling center on March 21.

In Spain, therapy that is labeled “homophobic” is illegal, and those found in violation may face fines of as much as 45,000 euros. Bishop Reig Pla and others denounced the law in 2016, saying it is “an assault on the freedom of expression and religion.” On April 4, Spanish bishops issued a statement reiterating Catholic teachings with regard to sexuality while also insisting on the freedom of the Church to preach.

“They are harming our children,” Bishop Reig Pla said. “We cannot allow it,” he added, in reference to LGBT activists and their advocates in government.

About his fellow bishops, he said, “I began by telling them: Dear brother bishops. I ask nothing for myself. I pray the Psalms with you, and say ‘My soul finds rest in God alone’ and not in the conference of bishops. My rest is in God. But they are harming our children. They are harming a mission of the Church, which are the Centers for Family Counseling, and we cannot allow it.”

“This is not about going against anybody, but it is about safeguarding the liberty of the Church, of safeguarding religious liberty, and to commit ourselves even unto martyrdom if it is necessary in order to serve those who suffer and expect a word of hope from us, the shepherds of the Church. We must not abandon them,” the bishop said.

“What do we do at the Center for Family Counseling? We assist those who come freely to seek help, whether it is personal, marital, family, and any other sort of situation that requires a word of counsel, of aid: pastoral, spiritual, offering accompaniment, in whatever situation,” the bishop said.

Reig Pla said it is a “miracle” that young people who have been helped at the diocesan counseling center have expressed their support, which he said is a “novelty,” because “education in affection, masculinity and femininity is taboo in Spain. That there are courageous young people and adults who give witness to the good that the Church does for them in helping them mature in their masculinity, femininity and the vocation to love is something new. As the Prophet Isaiah said, our God opens roads in the sea.”

“Today, tomorrow and forever, this bishop will proclaim just one thing: the religious freedom to preach the Good News that the Lord is with us, that he opens up paths in the sea,” Bishop Reig Pla said. “God is the only one who can mend a heart, not the health professionals.”

“The Center for Family Counseling operates upon many keys: one of them is forgiveness, which is also for those who have cause you truly great wounds, who may have been your father or a brother, or who abused you in your childhood[.] ... Even with help from human science, if it is not with the help of God that a new heart is made, things will not be mended.”

In light of a society that does not forgive, the bishop offered the example of Jesus’s transformative love. “The others say ‘the adulteress must be stoned’, ... but Jesus looks upon the sinner and does not say, ‘It’s okay, don’t worry.’ He looked at her with a glance that pierced her soul. And He said, ‘Woman, no one condemns you. Go and sin no more.’ What is in the eyes of Jesus that changes men’s hearts? We must also forgive those who persecute us, the ones who assail us, because they know not what they do. They don’t know what we do in the Church and the Center for Family Counseling.”

Finishing his homily, Bishop Reig Pla said that when people ask whether the accusations against him and the Church causes him to suffer, he acknowledged that he is not a rock that is immovable. “But the Lord is my hope. When one lives that way, he then has the freedom of spirit to do great things.”

He acknowledged that praying the Rosary that day was not his initiative, but organized by the faithful. The bishop called on seminarians. “Never abandon your flock. Be ready to suffer for it, to give your life for it.”

Finally, addressing the flock, Bishop Reig Pla said, “You are at the very heart of your shepherd. You must pray that your bishop is ready to give his life for you, even unto martyrdom.” At the end of the bishop’s remarks, the members stood and applauded.

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Bishop Joseph Coffee, second from left. LIFE Runners
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From pro-life rescuer to Catholic bishop: The unusual story of Joseph Coffey

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By Lianne Laurence
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Bishop Coffey's ordination, March 25, 2019. LIFE Runners
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Bishop Joseph Coffey at his ordination, March 25, 2019. LIFE Runners
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Joseph Coffey, prior to his ordination as bishop, at the St. Pio Relay, 2017. LIFE Runners
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Bishop Coffey's crest. LIFE Runners
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Bishop Coffey sporting a LIFE Runners jersey. LIFE Runners

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In 1988, Joseph Coffey was in Germany, selling Japanese cars to American soldiers, and “having a good time, not really not knowing what my future was going to be.”

On March 25, he was ordained in Washington’s Shrine of the Immaculate Conception as an auxiliary bishop for the military archdiocese of the United States, which counts as its members every Catholic on active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

What brought the wandering Coffey back to America so many years ago was a little story in the International Herald Tribune: 500 people had been arrested for sitting in front of an abortion center in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in “this thing called Operation Rescue.”

By then, Coffey had been working and travelling around Europe five years — including two months as a ski instructor in Switzerland — and the news of Cherry Hill hit home. It’s just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, where he was born and raised, the fifth of nine children of Dr. William and Roseanita Coffey.

Coffey grew up pro-life. He was 13 when Roe v. Wade passed and his parents explained to their five sons and four daughters the catastrophe that had overtaken America. The family regularly attended the March for Life and pro-life events.

He’d never heard of rescue, though he later found out his sister had been arrested.

“That’s when I knew I had to come back to the States,” Coffey said. “I wasn’t sure why I was coming back or what I would be doing, but I knew I wanted to get involved with that rescue movement.”

Rescue those led to slaughter

Based on Proverbs 24:11–12: “Rescue those being led to death, hold back those staggering toward slaughter,” rescues involved pro-lifers placing their bodies nonviolently between the abortionists and their intended victims, preventing any killing and taking any violence onto themselves.

The movement grew out of nonviolent direct action pioneered in the late ’70s by John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe. In the late ’80s, the movement was expanding rapidly, galvanized by the exceptional witness of Joan Andrews.

Andrews, who famously went limp and refused any cooperation with a system that allows abortion, had several charges pending and hundreds of arrests on her record when she entered an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida in early 1986 and unplugged an abortion suction machine.

She was convicted of burglary, resisting arrest, and criminal mischief and sentenced to five years, and because of her non-cooperation, she was incarcerated in solitary confinement in a maximum-security Florida prison, until the state’s governor, under public pressure, commuted her sentence in October 1988.

Seven Coffeys arrested with Mom on Good Friday

Coffey had returned from Europe a month earlier.

“I came back on September 1, 1988, and 10 days later, on September 10, which happened to be my mother’s birthday, I got arrested for the first time at an abortion clinic in Delaware with about 100 other pro-lifers from Philadelphia,” he recalls.

“It was very scary at first. The state troopers showed up, they said, ‘You gotta move,’ and we said, ‘No.’ We sang, we prayed, and they literally dragged us across the driveway on the asphalt. It was actually kind of painful,” said Coffey, who is six foot two and 200 pounds.

“We were released a couple hours later. That started my two years of rescuing.”

During that time, Coffey was “arrested about a dozen times” in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, New York, Atlanta, and Delaware, including “one famous Good Friday rescue” when “my mother was arrested with seven of her children in Philadelphia. It was wonderful, really great.”

Coffey’s mother, who died four years ago, “said it was one of the happiest moments of her life.”

His longest stint in jail was a week in Atlanta with several hundred pro-lifers and the legendary Fr. Norman Weslin, founder of the elite itinerant rescue community the Lambs of Christ, who often locked themselves to abortion equipment and refused any cooperation with authorities when arrested.

Weslin, who died in 2012 at age 81, was jailed more than 70 times. His last arrest was in 2010, during a protest of Obamacare at the Washington office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

That week in the Atlanta jail included “Mass, prayers, the rosary, singing,” Coffey recalled. “It was the best retreat of my life.”

Into the priesthood, caring for souls in combat

But it was another retreat, in the traditional environment of the Malvern Retreat House in southeast Pennsylvania’s rolling hills, that spelled the end of Coffey’s rescuing days.

“I saw a statue of Jesus kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane,” he says.

“And that’s where it hit me that I was called to be a priest, at that moment…I was 30 when I entered. I’ve never looked back, never looked back. I’ll be 60 next year.”

By the time Coffey was ordained in 1996, large-scale rescues had also come to an end, stymied by President Clinton’s 1994 Freedom to Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which made it a crime to block the doors of an abortion clinic.

While in seminary, Coffey’s life took yet another turn when he was recruited to the military chaplain candidate program.

He remained a reservist, and after five years as a parish priest, he asked Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua if he could “go on active duty as a Navy chaplain, because there’s a great need for priests in the military.”

Coffey was with the Marines at Camp Leatherneck in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, for seven months.

“I did a lot of praying, a lot of rosaries and Masses for the troops,” he said. “I was on two different aircraft carriers, the George Washington and Ronald Reagan, as well as shore-based duty.”

“It can be dangerous, but it’s a great place to be a priest to serve the needs of the servicemen and women,” Coffey said. “Pray Mass for them, hear confessions, counsel, and take care of them, take care of their spiritual needs.”

Pro-life witness continues

And although he had to stop rescuing when he entered the seminary, Coffey kept up his pro-life witness and efforts to save women and children from the violence of abortion.

He prayed outside the local hospital on Friday afternoon with a group of seminarians, prayed in front of Planned Parenthood abortion facility before his ordination to the priesthood 23 years ago, and prayed at Planned Parenthood before being ordained a bishop.

And it’s been his “usual practice” during his two and a half years as chaplain at Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego “to pray the rosary with some of our sidewalk counsellors and offer support to women in crisis” outside the Planned Parenthood abortion center on Saturday.

“I was there last Saturday for the first time as a bishop,” he said. “I would just encourage other priests to do that.”

Coffey is also on the board of LIFE Runners, which he joined in 2012 after meeting founder Dr. Pat Castle, then a bio-environmental engineer at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, at a pro-life event in St. Louis.

“The minute I heard about LIFE Runners, I said, sign me up,” Coffey said.

“I’m not a real big runner or anything like that,” he admitted, adding that Philadelphia’s was the only marathon he’s run. “That’s much too long for me. I’m more a 5K kind of guy.”

But “the point is anyone can be a LIFE Runner... the idea is to get the message out, it’s public witness, and to pray,” Coffey said.

“Running is optional. Simply sign up, order a REMEMBER The Unborn jersey, and wear it as a public witness,” agrees founder Castle, whose group now boasts “11,000 LIFE Runners ages 0.1 to 101 in all 50 states and 38 nations, including Canada.”

LIFE Runners “are encouraged to wear their jersey on the first Wednesday of each month for powerful Pro-Life synergy. “LIFE Runners run and walk local races, our annual Fall Marathon, and the annual A-Cross America Relay,” explained Castle, who is elated at Coffey’s ordination.

“Bishop Coffey is such a good shepherd who is All In Christ for Pro-Life!” he told LifeSiteNews. “He is totally Pro-Life, from praying at abortion facilities to feeding the homeless to loving the elderly.”

Team effort by people striving for holiness

Now that he’s an auxiliary bishop, Coffey will retire from the Navy in the next few months and move to the Baltimore area to take up new duties. He’s looking forward to being closer to his siblings and 46 nieces and nephews, as well as 12 “greats” — so far.

Right now, he’s enthused about Unplanned, the hit movie about former Planned Parenthood employee Abby Johnson, which he encourages everyone to see. “A lot of people are seeing the truth maybe for the first time about Planned Parenthood,” he said.

Coffey emphasizes that a team effort is needed to stop abortion in America.

“I applaud the efforts of Shawn Carney and 40 Days for Life, and Abby Johnson with her ministry And Then There were None,” Coffey said.

“We’re all in this together,” he said. “I like to quote Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, to make abortion not only illegal, but unthinkable, just like slavery.”

At the same time, in a Church rocked by scandal, Catholics need to remember the call to personal holiness, he says.

“The Church is ever ancient, ever new. It’s been around for over for 2,000 years, was founded by Christ who is God, so it’s holy, but it’s made up of people who do sometimes very sinful things and is always in need of reform,” he said.

“So we have to be vigilant. We all of us have to strive for holiness: all of the laity, priest, bishops, religious,” Coffey said.

“As a bishop, I’ll just be encouraging that.”

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Sweden’s Lutheran church ‘queers’ Jesus and the Bible for LGBT kids

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By Martin Barillas

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A diocese in the Lutheran Church of Sweden is offering a guide to LGBT young people that claims that because the word “homosexuality” is not specifically mentioned in the Bible the gay lifestyle is acceptable for Christians.

A “survival guide for Christian queer kids” was developed by the Västerås diocese of the Church of Sweden. The official church website welcomes readers with “Under the rainbow you are not alone!” and notes that the guide, developed by the Västerås diocese, pins together with the broader Swedish church’s “Young Camelot's rainbow camp.”

The website offers 10 points, in English and Swedish, that refer to the survival guide for young Christians experiencing same-sex attractions. The objective is to help “young Christian people who, in the LGBT context, are asked about their Christian faith and who are questioned in Christian contexts about their LGBTQ identity.”

Offering “theological interpretations” that it says are important to LGBTQ people who want to “see themselves and their lives as part of the biblical story,” it notes that it is written by and for young people to support them “being who they are (at the moment).”

The website explains that the Young Camelot’s Rainbow Camp is held several times each year so that “young LGBTQ people can meet others and share experiences in one place and in a context where it is OK to be themselves.”

A pamphlet is available in PDF format in Swedish on the website that offer the Swedish church’s view on homosexual orientation. Answers are provided by the church to common reactions to declarations of homosexuality. For example:

“It says in the Bible that homosexuality is wrong! — No, it's not, because the word ‘homosexuality’ does not exist in the Bible. (The word did not exist until the 19th century).”

The pamphlet also claims that the places in the Bible that apparently prohibit homosexual acts are mere prohibitions against homosexual exploitation and rape.

Also included in the guide are definitions of terms used by cultural leftists, including “queer,” “nonbinary,” two-sex norm,” “cisperson,” and “gender fluid.”

The guide sought to reinterpret commonly understood stories from Old and New Testaments. For example, Joseph — whose brothers sold him into Egyptian slavery — is portrayed as a man “who breaks the norms in terms of gender expression and probably wore clothing intended for a king’s daughter.” The Virgin Mary is described as a woman who broke “traditional sex norms in a patriarchal society." And Jesus Christ is described as a “queer” who “broke the norm” and  "did not defend the traditional family."

The website likens the rainbow flag of the LGBTQ movement to the rainbow described in Genesis where God promises Noah and his descendants to never again flood the earth. “A fluttering rainbow flag tells of the great diversity of humanity and reminds us of respect for each other's differences. If everyone were the same, the world would be boring and colorless.” The rainbow flag, it says, reminds young LGBTQ people of “all those who have gone before you,” and who “fought for their rights and wrestled against prejudice” and “give as a gift” to people today, such as same-sex “marriage.”

Contrary to the teachings expressed on  the Swedish church’s website, Christians have long adhered to teachings inherited from Jewish scripture that were restated in the New Testament. For example: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22), and “So God let them go ahead and do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies.” (Romans 1:24)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that on the basis of Scripture, homosexual acts are defined as “grave depravity” and under no circumstances can they be approved. The inclination to homosexual acts, it says, is “objectively disordered.” While persons with same-sex tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” the Catechism says, “Homosexual persons are called to chastity.”

The Church of Sweden is an Evangelical Lutheran denomination that was once the official church of the nation. It is the largest Christian denomination in Sweden. It offers “marriage” for same-sex couples.

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Google manually manipulates search results to blacklist conservatives, documents reveal

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By Calvin Freiburger

April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Internet companies accused of discriminating against conservative users of their platforms typically claim examples of wrongful suppression are unfortunate side-effects of algorithms or automated systems designed for neutral purposes. But according to new documents obtained by The Daily Caller, humans are behind at least some political discrimination at the biggest name in Big Tech.

On Tuesday, The Caller revealed that it has obtained documents detailing Google’s “misrepresentation policy” and “good neighbor policy,” which inform a blacklist to be managed and updated by Google’s Trust & Safety Team based on “demand.”

“The deceptive_news domain blacklist is going to be used by many search features to filter problematic sites that violate the good neighbor and misrepresentation policies,” a Google policy document reads. “The purpose of the blacklist will be to bar the sites from surfacing in any Search feature or news product. It will not cause a demotion in the organic search results or de-index them altogether.”

According to The Caller, this means affected sites can still appear in the basic “ten blue links” yielded by Google Search, but not in most other features such as “top news,” “video,” or sidebars. (While the “ten blue links” are supposedly unaffected, last fall PJ Media’s Paula Bolyard found that “left-leaning sites comprised 96 percent of the total results” of a Google News search for “trump.”)

“The beginning of the workflow starts when a website is placed on a watchlist which is used for monitoring of sites to determine if they violate the Good Neighbor Policy,” reads a memo detailing how the blacklist is operated, last edited on December 3, 2018. The memo mentions that investigations of potential additions are done using a “manual review tool,” after which the Trust & Safety Team adds domains to “deceptive_news_blacklist_domains.txt.”

The blacklist includes several conservative sites, including The American Spectator, Conservative Tribune, Gateway Pundit, and the blogs of conservative pundit Matt Walsh, economist Gary North, and Israeli policy columnist Caroline Glick.

The Caller notes that a week after the memo’s date, Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before the House Judiciary Committee that “we don’t manually intervene on any particular search result,” and it was “not possible for an individual employee or groups of employees to manipulate our search results” because “we have a robust framework, including many steps in the process.”

“You can’t trust the human judgment of Google’s Trust and Safety team,” a source at Google told The Daily Caller.

Google responded to The Daily Caller’s report with a statement insisting the company does “not manually determine the order of any search result, nor do our algorithms or policies attempt to make any judgement on the political leanings of a website.” It claimed its policies “do not impact the way these sites appear in organic blue-link Google Search results” (which the report didn’t dispute), and that only sites that fail to follow its policies are barred from “news surfaces or in information boxes in Search.”

Walsh, who currently writes for The Daily Wire, noted that he no longer regularly maintains his personal blog and mocked the idea that it was objectionable:

The American Spectator’s Jeffrey Lord observed that the Caller’s revelation came just days after the publication ran a piece criticizing Google insiders for forcing Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James off a technology advisory board.

“This is no longer some minor bug in the tech world,” Lord wrote. “The fact of the matter is that the American Left is waging a full scale war against fellow Americans who have the audacity to disagree with Left Wing orthodoxy. They are not interested in debate, discussion, ideas, free speech, or a free press. They are the enforcers of their own iron-fisted, totalitarian, Mao-style cultural revolution.”

This is only the latest piece of evidence indicating Google’s left-wing bias. Numerous leaked private conversations and documents appear to show the staff’s dominant ideology is dramatically out of step with the country at large, and that Google is willing to enforce that ideologies through its ostensibly neutral services and platforms.

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Pope Emeritus Benedict: Seminarians caught reading my books were thought ‘unsuitable’ for priesthood

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

VATICAN CITY, April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI stated in a letter published yesterday on the abuse crisis that his own works were banned in some seminaries and those caught reading them were considered “unsuitable for the priesthood.”

While discussing how the post-Vatican II “conciliarism” led to a dismissal of the Church’s traditions, the retired pontiff, 91, intimated that men had been barred from the priesthood if they were "caught" reading his books. 

“There were — not only in the United States of America — individual bishops who rejected the Catholic tradition as a whole and sought to bring about a kind of new, modern ‘Catholicity’ in their dioceses. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that in not a few seminaries, students caught reading my books were considered unsuitable for the priesthood. My books were hidden away, like bad literature, and only read under the desk,” Benedict wrote

READ: Top takeaways from Pope Benedict’s letter on abuse crisis

Benedict's claim is not an exaggeration. 

Fr. Christopher Smith, an American Catholic priest who contributes to the liturgical website “Chant Cafe”, wrote in 2011 of a warning he received as he was engrossed in the former Cardinal Ratzinger’s The Spirit of the Liturgy.

“I had just entered the seminary when Cardinal Ratzinger’s book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, came out,” Smith recalled.  

“I had an English copy expressed to me and brought it with me into the chapel as my spiritual reading during our daily community Holy Hour. One of the older men knelt next to me as I was engrossed in Ratzinger’s chapter on Rite and whispered, “Do you want to get kicked out of the seminary? Change the book cover now.” 

“All of my attempts to not publicise the fact that I actually knew the Old Latin Mass had apparently been blown out of the water by this defiant act of wanton schism,” Smith continued. 

“Suddenly seminarians began to knock on my door and counsel me how to survive the seminary, and so I exchanged Ignatius Press’ book cover for one entitled ‘The Pastoral Letters of Paul VI’.”

READ: Francis supporters ‘embarrassed’ by Benedict’s abuse crisis letter. Others call it ‘extraordinary’

Smith did indeed survive the seminary although, as he recounted, he was punished by an examining liturgist for knowing anything about the traditional Latin Mass. 

Bizarrely enough, although some seminaries punished men who read Ratzinger, at least one seminary was open to showing them pornographic films.

 In his discussion of the post-conciliar attitude towards tradition, the Pope Emeritus wrote: 

In many parts of the Church, conciliar attitudes were understood to mean having a critical or negative attitude towards the hitherto existing tradition, which was now to be replaced by a new, radically open relationship with the world. One bishop, who had previously been seminary rector, had arranged for the seminarians to be shown pornographic films, allegedly with the intention of thus making them resistant to behavior contrary to the faith.

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Ohio passes ban on aborting babies with beating hearts, governor signs (UPDATED)

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By Calvin Freiburger

Update, April 11, 4:11 PM (CST): This post has been updated to include Gov. DeWine signing the heartbeat bill into law.

COLUMBUS, April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Ohio legislation to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected finally became law Thursday, after a lengthy battle last year came up one vote short of overcoming a veto by the state’s previous governor.

Senate Bill 23 would ban aborting any baby once a heartbeat can be detected (around 6-8 weeks), except in cases of a physical threat to the mother. Violating physicians would face up to a year in prison and suspension or revocation of their medical licenses (with medical board fines going to finance foster and adoption services). Women would also be able to sue abortionists for wrongful death.

The legislation passed the state Senate in March, and passed the state House Tuesday on a 56-40 vote, Cleveland.com reports. Ohio's Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed it later that afternoon, WOSU reports.

"The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us, those who don't have a voice," DeWine declared. "Government's role should be to protect life from the beginning to the end."

“Today is a historic day. The legislature and Governor DeWine have declared that no longer should the beating hearts of humans too young to be born be violently torn apart by abortion,” Mark Harrington, president of the pro-life group Created Equal, said in a statement. “If pro-abortion lobbies present a legal challenge to this Act, we will defend these babies all the way up to the Supreme Court. Changes on the bench signify an even better day for preborn babies may be on the horizon.”

Democrat state Rep. Beth Liston, who is a physician and a professor at Ohio State University, denied that preborn babies are alive by week 12. “Simply put, you need lungs and a brain in order to live," she claimed. “And there’s no science or technology that we have that can replace that need." In fact, settled biological criteria and numerous medical textbooks establish (and various abortionists admit) that a living human being is created upon fertilization and is present throughout the entirety of pregnancy.

As protesters loudly gathered outside the chamber, Democrats tried and failed to add multiple amendments to the bill, including rape and incest exceptions and a proposal by state Rep. Janine Boyd to specifically exempt black women from the ban, ensuring black babies would still be legally killable.

The legislature passed a nearly-identical heartbeat ban last year, but came one vote short of overriding a veto by former moderate Republican Gov. John Kasich, who claimed it was “contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion” and therefore wouldn’t be worth the cost of a drawn-out legal battle. His successor DeWine previously vowed he would “absolutely” sign it into law.

Numerous states have introduced or enacted heartbeat bills over the past several months. They ban abortion much earlier than the “viability” standard set by Roe v. Wade, which some cite to claim the bills would waste time and money on a doomed legal battle. But supporters argue that most state pro-life measures get sued anyway, and that the heartbeat ban will force a Supreme Court review that could finally overturn the 1973 ruling.

“Will there be a lawsuit? Yeah, we’re counting on it," Republican state Rep. Ron Hood said. "We’re excited about it. Because this will be the law that ultimately reverses Roe v. Wade. Or there is several things they could do. They could hand it down to the states.”

The Ohio chapter of the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has already declared it will sue to block the law from taking effect, representing Planned Parenthood's two Ohio affiliates plus abortion centers in Cleveland and Dayton.

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Francis supporters ‘embarrassed’ by Benedict’s abuse crisis letter. Others call it ‘extraordinary’

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

VATICAN CITY, April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Overnight reactions to Pope Emeritus Benedict’s April 10 letter about the sexual abuse crisis were mixed, with many of Pope Francis' most vocal champions criticizing it while those who are more cautious about the current pontificate praised it.  

Traditional-minded Catholics tended to read the work with respect, noting the importance of Benedict’s testimony. Some suggested that he hadn’t dealt with the issues surrounding the abuse crisis sufficiently, however, while others wondered about the letter’s authenticity.

C.C. Pecknold, a professor of theology at the Catholic University of America, wrote today in the Catholic Herald, that the Pope Emeritus’ intervention was important. He was particularly struck by Benedict’s candid description of homosexuality in the post ‘68 seminaries. 

“In what will surely be some of the most-quoted lines of Benedict’s letter, he attends to the way this moral and sexual revolution infected the seminaries: “In various seminaries homosexual clubs were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries,” Pecknold cited. 

“He recalls how a bishop, a former seminary rector “arranged for the seminarians to be shown pornographic films, allegedly with the intention of thus making them resistant to behavior contrary to the Faith.” Visitations of seminaries would be arranged which produced nothing or very little, Benedict admits, because those who ran them were colluding in covering up the new permissive hierarchies of sexual release,” he continued.

Pecknold concluded that Benedict’s central idea--that the absence of God in society is responsible for clerical sexual abuse--will be met with some indifference but will nevertheless be the “answer” to the problem that endures.  

Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World News, said the letter reveals that the two popes are "miles apart" when it comes to dealing with the causes of the abuse crisis.

"The two Popes, past and present, are miles apart in their analysis of the sex-abuse scandal. Nowhere does Benedict mention 'clericalism;' Pope Francis does not speak about the moral breakdown that Benedict blames for the scandal," he wrote. 

R.R. Reno, editor of First Things, believes that the letter, which Benedict plans to publish in a Bavarian magazine, is more of a “testimony” regarding the tumult in the Church, rather than an “analysis.” 

Nevertheless, Reno extrapolates from the 91-year-old Pope Emeritus’ letter to point out how and why 20th-century events and currents led to the watershed year of 1968 and weakened the Catholic Church. 

“The overall impression [of Benedict’s letter]: Overwhelmed by the Revolution of ’68, riddled with dissent, and structured by institutional and canonical assumptions ill-suited to present realities, the Catholic Church has become an ungovernable mess,” Reno wrote. 

Reno appreciated that Benedict mentions the effect the cultural revolution of ‘68 had on the Church but said he wished the Pope Emeritus had also admitted that the Second Vatican Council had its own influence on the Swinging Sixties. 

“There can be little doubt that Vatican II functioned as a triggering mechanism during the explosive 1960s. It signaled to the West that the epitome of unchanging truth was reconsidering, rethinking, reframing—in a word, revising,” Reno stated. 

“If the Pope Emeritus wishes to give an adequate account of the historical context for the failure of moral discipline among the clergy, he needs to reckon with the Church’s profound role in the Revolution of ’68, not just her fate in its aftermath.” he added. 

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, author of “Father Z’s Blog”, said both that the letter is a “scolding” of the German clergy and also meant to be read by the entire world. 

“The MSM will be excited about the title: The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse,” Zuhlsdorf added drily.    

The priest-blogger felt that the Pope Emeritus hadn’t offered any solutions and also that he failed to make a few “explicit connections.” However, Zuhlsdorf found the letter a moving cry from the heart. 

“...there is a poignant cri de coeur in this piece, which leads the attentive reader to [Benedict’s] point. He describes the Church as going through her Job period of testing and purification and serious down-sizing,” the priest wrote. 

“I wonder if he had an experience like Leo XIII, who overheard God and the Devil dickering over the Church for a century of trial. Benedict points to the loss of the sense of Mystery in worship, especially regarding to Eucharist, and the Church. He underscores the importance of natural law in moral theology and the connection of doctrine and law. Hence, he interconnects Cult, Code, and Creed,” Zuhlsdorf continued.  

“His underlying foundation is lex orandi, lex credendi and lex vivendi. It has to be. But these are out of sorts, because weeds in the field and evil fish in the nets have disconnected them and tried to rebuild the Church in human terms. I especially liked his shot: “What must be done? Perhaps we should create another Church for things to work out? Well, that experiment has already been undertaken and has already failed.” 

Zuhlsdorf said that he could sense the Pope Emeritus’ “great pain.” 

Rod Dreher, a former Catholic convert and the author of the Benedict Option, published sections of the letter in his column at The American Conservative. Dreher called the reflection “extraordinary.” 

The columnist, who believes the only way Christendom can survive is through intentional communities, was particularly delighted by Benedict’s thoughts on the need to revive the early catechumenate. 

“In the old Church, the catechumenate was created as a habitat against an increasingly demoralized culture, in which the distinctive and fresh aspects of the Christian way of life were practiced and at the same time protected from the common way of life,” Benedict wrote.

“I think that even today something like catechumenal communities are necessary so that Christian life can assert itself in its own way.”

Dreher saw in this a reflection of his own ideas. 

“That puts the praise that his personal secretary, Archbishop Gänswein, had last year for The Benedict Option in a certain light!” he stated.  

“So I’m excited to see this paragraph from BXVI’s own hand. Sue me.”

LifeSiteNews' own John-Henry Westen said the letter "gives as a solution to the crisis a return to a demonstrative belief in God and also a return to respect for the Holy Eucharist."

Catholics who see Pope Francis as a champion of change tended to hold the Pope Emeritus’ letter in derision. 

Church historian Massimo Faggioli, a professor at Villanova University, wrote on Twitter that the Pope Emeritus had made a “misstep” and listed other mistakes he believed Benedict had made. 

“Today’s misstep by B16 reminds me of other missteps: the book co-authored with Pera, the Regensburg speech, the baptism of Magdi Allam in St Peter,” he stated

Theologian Brian Flanagan, who teaches at Marymount University, said Benedict’s letter was “embarrassing.”

“The idea that ecclesial abuse of children was a result of the 1960s, a supposed collapse of moral theology, and ‘conciliarity’ is an embarrassingly wrong explanation for the systemic abuse of children and its coverup,” Flanagan wrote via Twitter.  

Journalist Robert Mickens, who has worked for both Vatican Radio and the UK’s left-wing Catholic newspaper The Tablet, tweeted, “What world does this man live in?” and “Someone needs a box of Crayolas and some coloring books.”

However, not all members of “Team Francis” were as dismissive of the retired pontiff. 

Fr. James Martin, SJ, editor-at-large of America magazine, was respectful to the Pope Emeritus while finding fault with his focus on heterodoxy. 

“I have the greatest respect for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, especially as a theologian,” he stated over Twitter. “However, I disagree with most of his analysis of the sex abuse crisis. Blaming it on poor theology and the sexual mores of the 1960s dramatically misses the mark." 

Pope Francis’ English biographer Austen Ivereigh  took a more neutral position, tweeting a long stream of comments to say that while Benedict’s thoughts were “mostly predictable”, they contain “some interesting nuggets” and ultimately support Francis’ own “anti-abuse strategy.”  

 A few Catholics have expressed doubt that Benedict wrote the letter or that he was its sole author. However, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, secretary to the Pope Emeritus, was reported by The New York Times as having said the essay was Benedict’s own work. 

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Calvin Freiburger

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Ted Cruz offers three solutions to Big Tech censorship of conservative, pro-life speech

Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – During Wednesday’s Senate hearings on free speech and online censorship, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas proposed three potential government responses to the trend of the world’s biggest internet platforms suppressing and discriminating against conservative speech.

The committee held two panels Wednesday on the subject of “Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse.” The first panel heard testimony from Twitter public policy and philanthropy chief Carlos Monje Jr. and Facebook public policy director Neil Potts; the second panel heard from academics and individuals affected by social media content policies, including Unplanned writer and director Chuck Konzelman.

Cruz, who chairs the subcommittee, used his introductory remarks to lay out the problem and highlight three potential policy areas in which the federal government could lawfully respond.

“What makes the threat of political censorship so problematic is the lack of transparency, the invisibility,” Cruz said. “The ability for a handful of giant tech companies to decide if a particular speaker is disfavored. That he or she may speak, and their words simply fade into the ether. That nobody hears what they say. And that nobody knows that no one hears what they say. Not only does big tech have the power to silence voices — with which they disagree — but big tech likewise has the power to collate a person’s feed, so that they only receive news that comports with their own political agenda.”

Because Google, Facebook, and Twitter are private entities, Cruz acknowledged that what to do about the problem was a “thorny” legal and political question. “Nobody, or at least nobody in their right mind, wants to see a government speech police. No one wants to see the federal government regulating what is allowed to be said.” Ye he saw “at least three potential remedies” that could be taken without infringing on tech companies’ constitutional rights.

The first, he suggested, was reviewing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which Cruz argued effectively grants platforms a “special immunity from liability” for the content they allow, predicated on the assumption that they are “neutral public forums” rather than publishers exercising subjective preferences.

“If Big Tech wants to be partisan and political speakers it has that right, but it has no entitlement to a special immunity from liability under Section 230 that The New York Times doesn’t enjoy, that The Washington Post doesn’t enjoy, that nobody else enjoys except for Big Tech,” Cruz noted.

Eugene Kontorovich, a George Mason University law professor who testified Wednesday, concurred.

“These statutory provisions have likely had a helpful role in the growth of the internet. But they are also clearly not constitutionally required – they are special favors,” he explained. “In enacting the immunity provisions, Congress assumed that protected internet services provide ‘a forum for a true diversity of political discourse.’ To the extent that assumption is weakened by online companies filtering out viewpoints that they deem ideologically impermissible, the assumptions behind Section 230 may need to be revisited.”

Kontorovich added that weakening or removing Big Tech’s liability protections might “result in more filtering and blocking of potentially controversial content,” but noted that “such greater filtering will likely not have an ideological tilt – civil liability is decidedly non-partisan.”

Cruz’s second remedy would be to invoke antitrust laws to break up the tech giants.

“Applying the antitrust laws is complicated, but by any standard measure, the big tech companies are larger and more powerful than the Standard Oil was when it was broken up,” Cruz said. “They’re larger and more powerful than AT&T when it was broken up, and if we have tech companies using their monopoly to censor political speech, I think that raises real antitrust issues.”

According to a letter sent Monday to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Google has an estimated 90 percent of web search volume, and taken together Google and Facebook account for almost 60 percent of U.S. digital ad spending.

“Compare what Google is doing today to what Microsoft was charged with in the 1990s and the (antitrust) case makes itself,” former Bush administration official James Robbins argued last August.

The third remedy Cruz suggested would be exploring whether biased enforcement of what most users assume to be neutral and open forums constitutes fraud. Conservative pundit Dennis Prager is currently suing Google on similar grounds for its restrictions on his Prager University YouTube videos. Among the suit’s complaints is that YouTube’s restrictions under false pretenses constitute breach of contract.

“Most users of Facebook, Twitter,  Google, when they use those services they don’t envision they’re participating in a biased fora,” he said. “They believe that when they speak they people that choose to follow them will hear what they say and there are distressing pieces of evidence that suggest that’s not the case.”

“Much of the argument on this topic is anecdotal. It’s based on one example, or another example,” Cruz noted. “There’s a reason for that: because we have no data. There is no transparency. Nobody knows how many speakers Facebook is blocking, how many speakers Twitter is blocking. Nobody knows what the raw data is in terms of bias.” He said pursing answers to those questions was one of the purposes of Wednesday’s hearing.

As LifeSiteNews covered Wednesday, Konzelman detailed resistance to his film, which tells the real-life conversion story of former Planned Parenthood facility director Abby Johnson, by both the entertainment and the tech industries, from the Motion Picture Association of America banning its trailers from appearing before non-“R” films and most cable networks rejecting its ads, to being blocked from Google ads and getting temporarily suspended on Twitter.

“If they are allowed to apply their own broadly drawn ‘guidelines’ to dismiss one side of controversial issues – the side they don’t agree with — and do so with impunity? Then they will do so,” he warned. “In a digital age, exclusion from the digital arena isn’t just discriminatory – it’s the most insidiously effective form of censorship imaginable.”

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Pro-life citizens gather for a candlelight vigil the night before the 2013 March for Life. John-Henry Westen / LifeSiteNews
LifeSiteNews staff

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‘Unplanned’ movie inspires nationwide candlelight vigils outside Planned Parenthood facilities

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — On April 13, candlelight vigils will be held outside the Planned Parenthood facilities all across the United States, with thousands of pro-life advocates expected to participate. The vigils were inspired by the chilling look inside the abortion industry in the recently released movie Unplanned, which tells the story of Abby Johnson. Johnson left her position as the manager of a Planned Parenthood facility in Bryan, Texas, after participating in an ultrasound-guided abortion, and became a nationally known pro-life advocate. Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider, and performs more than 36% of all abortions in the United States every year.

"Unplanned presents a heartbreaking story of what abortion does to its unborn victims, the women who make that choice, and those who are involved in providing abortions," said Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League and one of the national organizers of the Nationwide Candlelight Vigil. "The pro-life community nationwide is responding to the pain and suffering of abortion by turning to prayer."

More than 140 candlelight vigils have been scheduled in 37 states (see list of locations here). The vigils will feature pro-life advocates offering hymns and prayers for an end to abortion, often with reflections by local clergy. In many locations, women will share their stories of how abortion led to years of pain and suffering, encouraging other women not to make the same tragic choice.

"Planned Parenthood claims to put women's needs first," remarked Monica Miller, a co-director of this nationwide event, and executive director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society. "But Unplanned tells a very different story — a story confirmed by their own annual reports. While abortions continue to rise at Planned Parenthood, every year they're seeing fewer patients and performing fewer other services. More and more, Planned Parenthood is really all about abortion."

"Unplanned has become a call to action for the pro-life movement," noted event co-director Mark Harrington, executive director of Created Equal. "Thousands have been inspired by this movie to get actively involved in the pro-life movement for the first time. Saturday's Nationwide Candlelight Vigil will be the critical first step for many of these new pro-life activists — including a new group of first-time leaders."

The Nationwide Pro-Life Candlelight Vigil is being coordinated by #ProtestPP, a joint project of the Pro-Life Action League, Created Equal, and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, who are joined by a coalition of more than 75 local, state and national pro-life groups. Hundreds of #DefundPP rallies organized by #ProtestPP in 2017 and 2018 were instrumental in prompting the Trump administration to impose new rules barring abortion providers like Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X funds from the federal government.

For more information please contact:

Eric Scheidler, 773-251-8792, [email protected]
Monica Miller, 248-444-9096, [email protected]
Mark Harrington, 614-419-9000, [email protected]

See also ProtestPP.com.

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Town hall meeting in Washington State, where pro-family citizens protested a proposed sex ed bill. MassResistance
Mass Resistance

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Liberal Washington State nixes radical LGBT sex ed bill after massive parental outrage

Mass Resistance
By
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Activists filled the Board of Education meeting!
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This father didn't hold back. He compared the effects of comprehensive sex-ed on children to the horrors of the Chinese communists.
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State Sen. Claire Wilson, also a School Board Member, took so much heat that night that she resigned from the Board after the meeting.
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The town hall meeting with state legislators overflowed with nearly a thousand outraged pro-family citizens.
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This is the last thing that the parents wanted to see being displayed at the high school.
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The Christian activists outside the Capitol.
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Outside the Washington State Capitol approximately 2000 Christian activists protest the "comprehensive sex-ed" bill. MassResistance supplied them with materials so they could go inside and lobby. Two days later the bill died in committee!

April 11, 2019 (MassResistance) — Washington State MassResistance activists helped mobilize groups around the state and worked strategically to successfully stop a hideous Planned Parenthood–backed "comprehensive sex-ed" bill from becoming law — despite its broad support in the Legislature.

Many people are unaware that Washington State has become a far-left state, on a par with California and New York. Following last year's November elections, left-wing Democrats solidified their power in the state capital, Olympia. Like other states that have gotten "bluer," the government is now pushing abusive, anti-family policies at a rapid pace. This includes the items on the LGBT and Planned Parenthood checklist for the public schools.

Their major bill, SB 5395, was a "comprehensive sex-ed bill." It was lobbied heavily by both Planned Parenthood — a major donor to Democrat politicians — and the LGBT lobby. The bill included the following:

  1. It would require all public schools in the state to teach "comprehensive" sexuality education and gender theory in all grades — even Kindergarten. It would ostensibly be "age appropriate" — as defined by the school system.
  2. It would be "inclusive" — with sexuality lessons that include homosexual sex and transgenderism.
  3. It would teach all forms of birth control, including abortion, as well as abstinence.
  4. It allows schools to bring in outside LGBT or Planned Parenthood speakers.
  5. Borrowing from the hysteria over supposed "rape culture" on college campuses, the bill would teach the onerous concept of sexual "consent" to the young children.
  6. Parents could opt-out their children from parts of the curriculum through a written request. They could also request to review the curriculum.

Parents have noted that even when they take advantage of the often cumbersome "opt-out" provisions, the school climate and culture change for the worse when "comprehensive sex ed" is implemented. (Their children still mingle with students who have learned the harmful information, and some teachers will still be displaying pro-LGBT propaganda for all children to see.)

Getting the fight started

MassResistance activists in Washington State contacted our office throughout the early part of the year. They wanted help with organizing and networking in the state to stop this bill. Their alarm about it was considerable. Fortunately, they refused to sit back, or just resort to phone calls and emails.

The bill started out in the State Senate.

One of the MassResistance tactics was to have people attend strategic local meetings. The State Senator who sponsored this terrible legislation, Claire Wilson (D-Federal Way), an "out" lesbian, also served on the Federal Way District School Board' (Federal Way is about 30 minutes from Olympia.) On Feb. 26, over a hundred people came to the Federal Way School Board meeting to express their outrage about this bill. The outpouring that evening was so intense that after the meeting Senator Wilson resigned from the School Board!

Already, elected officials were feeling the heat! MassResistance activists then contacted the State Senators repeatedly. It was an uphill battle, but necessary and effective.

On Feb. 27, Bill SB 5395 passed the Senate, but on a narrower margin than expected, 28-21. This also indicated that it would face rougher currents in the State House of Representatives.

In the House, the first stop was the Education Committee. Working with other local activists, MassResistance identified which members, mostly Republicans, would likely vote against this legislation. But they also identified the Democratic members in swing districts who would most likely fear a voter backlash if they supported this comprehensive sex-ed bill. They focused particularly on them.

In addition, MassResistance activists and others protested inside and outside the state legislature. Non-stop calling and emailing followed. Over the next several weeks, hundreds of people emailed and called both their own State Representatives and the MassResistance list of Education Committee members.

Local town hall. On March 23, a core group of Washington State MassResistance activists helped mobilize nearly a thousand people from local churches and family groups to a "town hall meeting" at the Federal Way High School, featuring Senator Clare Wilson and two local State Representatives.

The meeting was held in the high school cafeteria. Hanging from the ceiling was a huge rainbow flag. That only served to anger the parents.

At the meeting, the legislators refused to talk about the comprehensive sexuality education bill until a pastor yelled, "You know what we are here for!" and the crowd started chanting. At that point the legislators had to open the floor to 45 minutes of public comments. People were already furious over the HIV and sexuality education currently in the local schools. It teaches children about homosexual sex but is devoid of any conservative or Christian values.

The bill dies in the House Education Committee!

April 3, 2019 was the statutory deadline to advance any policy-oriented legislation in the Washington State Legislature. As that date approached, the House Education Committee was feeling heat from all sides. The targeted "progressive" committee members were getting nervous about the angry phone calls and emails they were getting. And rumors were spreading that the House Speaker was getting tired of complaints about this bill from other House members.

On March 27, the Chairman of the House Education Committee, Rep. Sharon Santos, started to cave in on Bill SB 5395. During a speech before a local group, she complained that she had been left out of the "process" when the bill was written and introduced. Even though she thoroughly agreed with key parts of it, and certainly with LGBT inclusion, she was feeling the uneasiness of the committee members. And she was troubled by the rumors that if she made the Education Committee vote on it and pass it, the Speaker wouldn't bring it up on the floor.


Rep. Sharon Santos, chairman of the House Education Committee, ultimately backed down and let the bill die. So she had to come up with some good excuses for her Planned Parenthood supporters.

Rally outside of the Capitol. On April 1, approximately 2,000 Christian activists gathered on the steps of the Capitol building for a prayer rally on SB 5395. A Washington State MassResistance activist supplied them with "Stop 5395" legislation forms to use inside for personal lobbying. That made a big difference.

Two days later, the April 3 deadline passed without the House Education Committee bringing SB 5395 forward for a vote! This was a huge victory. Legislative staffers in the state legislature confirmed that Washington State House Reps did not even want to vote on the bill.

Thousands of Washington State citizens, with help from MassResistance, made it very clear that they abundantly opposed this terrible bill. When politicians fear the wrath of the voters, but don't want to disappoint their leftist special interest donors, the voters generally come out on top. The special interests had to settle for excuses.

What This Victory Means

Most pro-family movements believe that they have little chance of success in liberal states with large Democratic majorities. In contrast, MassResistance informs and trains its activists to confront lawmakers across the political spectrum, regardless of their party. And our tactics work.

Armed with facts, while refusing to rely on weak but comfortable arguments, MassResistance strikes at the core problems associated with LGBT behaviors and the sexual promiscuity associated with it. Even liberal lawmakers know that they must face the voters on Election Day. When enough voters pound their representatives, their leadership will find a way to quietly kill or table bad bills. This is the kind of confrontational, pro-family activism that works!

Our Washington State MassResistance activists will be keeping a close watch on state legislation, since a similar sex-ed bill will likely up next year — or be attached to some existing current legislation. For now, they can rest in the knowledge that they have made a big difference in one of the bluest, most pro-LGBT states in the country.

Published with permission from MassResistance.

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Abortion escorts in front of Planned Parenthood's Margaret Sanger Clinic on Bleecker St., New York, Aug. 22, 2015. Shutterstock.com
Operation Rescue staff

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5 women sent to hospital in less than 2 months at flagship New York Planned Parenthood

Operation Rescue staff
By Operation Rescue staff
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April 11, 2019 (Operation Rescue) — Four more medical emergencies at New York's Margaret Sanger Center Planned Parenthood abortion facility have surfaced, with one pro-life activist telling Operation Rescue that she has observed a dramatic increase in women leaving the clinic with difficulty walking, and sometimes even vomiting, as well as a troubling increase in ambulance transports of abortion patients.

Operation Rescue reported earlier on an incident that took place on March 6, 2019, where an African-American woman was transported from the abortion clinic suffering unknown abortion complications.

Four more incidents took place between February 16 and April 4, 2019. This brings the total number of medical emergencies documented at the Margaret Sanger Planned Parenthood to 19 in the past 26 months.

Each of the five incidents involved women who were African-American.

"The fact that the past five medical emergencies involved Black women is not a good look for a Planned Parenthood abortion facility named after its founder, Margaret Sanger, a notorious eugenicist," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. "It is well documented that Planned Parenthood facilities primarily target poor urban women of color for abortions."

The increase in medical emergencies and distressed women at this high-volume abortion facility raises questions about the adequacy of patient safety precautions and the competency of Planned Parenthood's abortionists. It is also a mystery as to why two ambulances have been responding to emergencies at Planned Parenthood, with both crews offering medical assistance.

February 16, 2019: At around 11:00 a.m., a woman was escorted out of the Planned Parenthood abortion facility by two police officers and a Planned Parenthood worker. She walked under her own power to an awaiting ambulance that transported her to Mount Sinai Medical Center for further treatment.

March 27, 2019: An ambulance was heard approaching the Planned Parenthood at approximately 10:10 a.m., but it was turned off about a block away and arrived with flashing lights only. Again, a woman walked out of the abortion facility under her own power with her partner and was transported to Mount Sinai Medical Center for further care.

March 29, 2018: A pro-life activist who is regularly outside the Margaret Sanger Planned Parenthood praying and offering help to women tells Operation Rescue that during the previous three weeks, she has seen an increase in "distressed patients" coming out of the Margaret Sanger Planned Parenthood. Some were crying, having difficulty walking, and/or vomiting.

Two such women were seen on March 29, just before two ambulances arrived around noon with a total of five emergency personnel for another patient who was still inside the clinic. 

One emergency worker took a wheelchair into the Planned Parenthood, but soon returned to exchange the wheelchair for a gurney. All five emergency workers came out of Planned Parenthood with a young woman on the gurney, accompanied by a male companion. She was loaded into the first ambulance then attended by emergency personnel from both ambulances for about five minutes, then was transported to Mount Sinai Medical Center with lights and sirens that were not turned on until the ambulance was a block from the Planned Parenthood center.

April 4, 2019: Two ambulances once again responded to a medical emergency at the Margaret Sanger Planned Parenthood. The first arrived at 1:30, p.m., followed by a second ambulance about fifteen minutes later. They were forced to park at the end of the block because the street closest to the clinic entrance was blocked by commercial dumpsters because "Planned Parenthood was engaging in one of its frequent executive office interior decoration/renovations," according to a witness on the scene.

Again, paramedics entered the abortion facility with a wheelchair since a gurney will not fit into the elevator, but were forced to return to the ambulance for a gurney. Yet another woman was brought out on a gurney, loaded into the ambulance, then transported with a police escort. Lights and sirens for both the police and ambulance were only turned on when they were about a block away from Planned Parenthood.

"There is something very wrong at this Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. The increased frequency of medical emergencies and women who are discharged before being stabilized is worrisome and is a symptom of a larger problem," said Newman. "We plan to file a complaint with the Department of Health, but with the political climate one that favors the liberalization of abortion until birth, it is hard to be optimistic that New York authorities will properly police Planned Parenthood. That places women in grave danger, as we have already seen."

Published with permission from Operation Rescue.

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Campaign Life Coalition via YouTube.
Campaign Life Coalition

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WATCH: Canada pro-life organization tells UN there’s no ‘legal right’ to abortion

Campaign Life Coalition
By Campaign Life Coalition

April 11, 2019 (Campaign Life Coalition) — On April 4, CLC's Global Policy and Research Coordinator Emily Price delivered a hard hitting pro-life statement to the United Nations 52nd Session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD).

Pro-abortion delegations (including our very own Canadian government), U.N. agencies, and other non-governmental organizations have been inundating these plenary sessions with their battle cries for abortion and contraception on demand, so called 'sexual rights', and radical sex-ed programs in schools.

Our statement was very clear. We reminded the United Nations that there is NO universal legal right to abortion. 

With the current Canadian government's foreign policy prioritizing abortion and gender issues, Canada's reputation at the U.N. has significantly gone downhill. As a matter of fact, when Emily finished delivering our statement, several delegates from various countries approached her to thank her, and expressed their shock that she was representing a Canadian organization. Others were surprised there are pro-life Canadians.

If you would like to know more about the Commission on Population and Development, be sure to read our CLCYouth delegate's recaps from the U.N. (The Start of CPD52The Halfway Point of CPD52The Last day of CPD52.)

Additionally, please share the video above with your family and friends. You can also share it on Facebook here.

Published with permission from the Campaign Life Coalition.

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Shutterstock.com
LifeSiteNews staff

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Transgender bathroom lawsuit will go forward in Illinois school district

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A federal district court judge is allowing a parent-student privacy lawsuit to move forward against Palatine School District 211. The Thomas More Society, along with the Alliance Defending Freedom, is representing Students and Parents for Privacy, a group of concerned parents and students who have charged the northwest suburban Chicago area educational authority with violations of privacy and usurpation of parental rights. The lawsuit is a result of the school board's decision to allow male students to use female lockers rooms because they identify themselves as female. On March 29, 2019, a United States District Court issued an order permitting the case to proceed on grounds of alleged violation of religious freedom and charges or sexual harassment.

The policy in question was devised by District 211 after three students demanded access to opposite sex bathrooms, locker rooms, and shower rooms, because, despite their biological gender, they wished to be identified differently. Students and Parents for Privacy reported that, following this policy's enactment, students experienced embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety, fear, apprehension, stress, degradation and loss of dignity as a result of being forced to share bathroom and locker facilities with teenagers of the opposite sex.

Thomas Olp, Vice President and Senior Counsel at the Thomas More Society, elaborated on the situation, "One transgender student reportedly exposed his genitalia to a female student in the girls' locker room, and refused to use a private changing area to disrobe. Girls who regularly use the three female locker rooms to change say they are fearful that a biological male may walk in at any time and see them in a state of undress or even naked. This is obviously an untenable situation and parents have every right to try to preserve their children's privacy in single sex privacy facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms. No school board should be allowed to impose on the privacy, modesty, even safety of these young people."

The court is allowing the lawsuit to proceed despite a District 211 motion to dismiss. Judge Jorge Alonzo found allegations of sexual harassment, under Title IX, and potential abuse of religious freedom under the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment, to be actionable. However, the Thomas More Society concerns with regard to student bodily privacy or parental right to control the education of their children were dismissed.

"There is currently a societal push to fight sexual abuse and harassment," noted Olp. "But Palatine's Township High School District 211 has pushed things so far in the reverse direction that the privacy of the majority of students is being sacrificed on the altar of transgender rights benefitting a few. The physical safety and emotional well-being of the majority of students should not be put at risk this way."

Read the Memorandum Opinion and Order on the Motion to Dismiss in Students and Parents for Privacy et al v. School Directors of Township High School District 211 et al., issued on March 29, 2019, by Judge Jorge L. Alonso, as related to the case Students and Parents for Privacy et al. v. United States Department of Education, School Directors of Township High School District 211 et al., by the Thomas More Society on behalf of Students and Parents for Privacy on in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division here.

Read additional background on the federal Palatine school case here.

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Why Christian college faculty and students tried to ban speaker Matt Walsh

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By Ryan Bomberger

April 11, 2019 (Radiance Foundation) — Christians are called to be strong and courageous. But that's not what Christian students are being taught on many Christian college campuses today. Too often, they're taught to fear and to hide behind a false pretense of grace while extending none. 

Christian writer, speaker and author Matt Walsh was protested by college staff and students, at Baylor University, who didn't want to hear a Biblical perspective on culture-shifting issues. How dare a Christian father speak Biblical truths about abortionmarriage and gender? That's "hate speech". This is intolerable in a day and age when many define their own subjective truth which, apparently, cannot be subjected to any level of scrutiny, no matter how civil the discourse. 

Truth is offensive. It's divisive. It boldly separates fact from fiction. It's freedom.

In a Knight Foundation college student poll, 69% agreed that colleges should "restrict slurs and other speech that is intentionally offensive to certain groups". Who determines what's considered a slur and which language is "intentionally offensive"? Hate speech is now the default accusation for ideas or words that challenge a "progressive" worldview.

There's no America without free speech. It's not free if it comes laden with restrictions and heavy societal costs.

I don't support legislation through Presidential Executive Orders, but why should any American President have to resort to such lengths to ensure our First Amendment rights? Trump's Executive Order on Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency and Accountability at Colleges and Universities was signed because many places of alleged higher learning have become institutions of intolerance. 

Walsh is not a threat to civility, but conformity. The Baylor Lariat has several articles attacking him with titles like "Hate Speech Has No Place in Christianity" and "Why I Pulled Down Fliers Advertising Matt Walsh Event". There is a spiritual and emotional immaturity that is on full display here. Patrick Hill, a gay Baylor graduate, started the petition to ban Walsh from campus. Hill decries the suggestion that there is such a thing as LGBT activism. Perhaps he's not aware of how multi-million dollar, pro-abortion LGBTQ orgs like Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal and the ACLU have been fighting to erase religious libertyfree speechpronouns, and faith-based adoption agencies

Hill complains that Walsh and Baylor's Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) are "demonizing an entire people group". In their letter of protest, the signers proceed to absurdly equate YAF with white supremacists of the Jim Crow era. That's not demonizing at all. 

I find it amusing that throughout the letter, signed by current and former Baylor faculty and Board members, there's not one use of Scripture to defend homosexuality. They refer to YAF and Baylor's official position on sexuality as a "debatable view of Biblical teaching." It's not debatable. It's undeniable. (Please see Dr. Michael Brown's thorough take on all of this.) 

The fear of (truthful) free speech on college campuses should be alarming to all. Back in November 2018, I was invited by the Wheaton College Republicans to deliver a talk about race and abortion entitled "Black Lives Matter In and Out of the Womb". Two Wheaton staff members and three student government leaders denounced my presentation in a campus-wide email as "offensive rhetoric" that made "students, staff and faculty of color feel unheard, underrepresented and unsafe on campus." 

I'm black. I was the speaker. Nobody of my color was "unheard" or "underrepresented" in an hour's worth of Q&A. And "unsafe"??? They had no factual basis with which to argue against my perspective, so they chose to become victims. The school's leadership stood behind them, refused to resolve the issue with The Radiance Foundation or the College Republicans, and allowed us to be demonized by those who espouse an unbiblical approach to truth. 

One of the only professors to attend my event wrote an outrageous article, recently, defending abortion in the black community. Wheaton professor Theon Hill is an African-American who passionately supports the #BlackLivesMatter movement and seems to have ignored everything I talked about in the presentation. I don't support a radically pro-abortion, anti-fatherhood, anti-Biblical, secular movement with zero intention of forgiveness. Instead, I proposed that the Church should be leading on issues of racial justice. In his Faithfully Magazine article, Hill reveals he either knows absolutely nothing about the prolife movement or doesn't care. He falsely claims we don't address the relationship between abortion, poverty, racism and access to health care. That was my whole presentation (see it here). 

Less activism, more factivism, professor. 

Even worse, while praising the rabidly racist Black Panther Party and Nation of Islam, Hill defends abortion with an example of...infanticide. Invoking Toni Morrison's disturbing novel, Beloved, Hill justifies abortion in the black community (which Fannie Lou Hamer considered to be 'black genocide') with a story about an unremorseful slave woman who kills her two-year-old daughter to prevent a life of pain. Yeah. Because black people today live in exactly the same horrid circumstances as 1860. Former slave and abolitionist, Sojourner Truth, had 13 children, most of whom were stolen away from her by slave masters. She mourned the tragic loss of her children in her speech "Ain't I A Woman?"; she didn't wish she had killed them.

My dear friend and colleague, Star Parker, was recently banned from speaking about abortion's impact in the black community at the University of Northwestern, a Christian college in Minnesota. Why? Because as a conservative Christian woman, the school's leadership decided that she "radically holds beliefs that UNW as a whole would not agree with." Of course, they never articulated what those "radical beliefs" are. Apparently, they meant her Biblical beliefs. Who better to address race and abortion than a post-abortive, black woman saved by grace?

Matt Walsh, Star Parker and I aren't the real problem. Loving people enough to speak difficult truths is anathema to those who confuse capitulation for compassion. How will these Christians evangelize a fallen world if students, staff and faculty are too busy taking shelter in their safe spaces on campus?

Published with permission from The Radiance Foundation.

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Benedict said what Vatican abuse summit dared not: ‘Homosexual cliques’ ruined seminaries

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By Doug Mainwaring

April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said what prelates at the Vatican’s recent summit on clergy sexual abuse dared not say: Homosexual cliques “significantly changed the climate in the seminaries.”

Benedict’s essay has broken the hierarchy’s seemingly impenetrable wall of silence regarding the major source of the Church’s sexual misconduct and cover-up problem.  

For the record, he stated, “In various seminaries homosexual cliques were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries.”

The pope emeritus cited a particularly egregious example of a bishop who showed pornographic films to seminarians, “with the intention of thus making them resistant to behavior contrary to the faith.”

During the entire week of the February summit, questions from both Catholic and secular media regarding the presence of homosexuality in the priesthood and in priestly formation were repeatedly deflected.   

Cardinals Blase Cupich and Sean O’Malley, and Archbishop Charles Scicluna made it clear in daily press briefings that questions about homosexual relationships and acts with adults — especially seminarians — whether consensual or abusive, were off limits.  

At one point, Cupich outright denied any causal connection between homosexuality or a homosexual subculture and sexual abuse.

Scicluna went further and said decades of widespread homosexuality in U.S. seminaries could not be addressed during the summit because it had “nothing to do with the sexual abuse of minors.”  

A high-ranking official who spoke on condition of anonymity said at the time:

We have understood that you don’t want to talk about homosexuality, and the people of God have well understood why. If you say that you are in favor of transparency and clarity, your assembly should make a statement reasserting what is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the condition of homosexuality, and its condemnation of the grave sin of sodomy. In the absence of this, it’s clear that you do not want transparency and that you have lost all credibility on the part of the faithful.

The retired Pope’s essay is perhaps a step toward regaining the trust of Catholic men and women in the pews.

Archbishop Charles Chaput today amplified Pope Emeritus Benedict’s remarks, countering the silence of the summit prelates.

“Like the lay people they serve and lead, priests are shaped by the culture from which they emerge. They should be held, rightly, to a higher standard because of their calling. But priests and bishops have no miraculous immunity to the abnormality bubbling around them,” wrote Chaput.

The pope emeritus “locates the seed of the current crisis in the deliberate turn toward sexual anarchy that marked much of Europe in the 1960s, and the complete failure of Catholic moral theologians to counter it — a failure that more often resembled fellow-traveling,” continued Chaput. “The dirty little secret of the sexual revolution: Relaxing sexual norms does not reduce an appetite for violence, including sexual violence. It does exactly the opposite.”

Archbishop Chaput ended with a bombshell statement: The pope emeritus “seeks to explain the initially slow and inadequate Church response to the abuse problem,” yet “He remains silent on what many see as the continuing resistance of Rome to candidly name the core issue of the clergy abuse problem, which is not primarily a matter of clerical privilege but rather a pattern of predatory homosexuality.”

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Smallville actress’ ‘female empowerment’ cult was really about slavery to male sex fiend

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

BROOKLYN, New York, April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Because Allison Mack, convicted this week of racketeering in a sex trafficking case, is a television actress, the Nxivm sex-cult scandal looks like another Hollywood story.

It’s not a Hollywood story. Bizarrely, it’s a feminism-gone-mad story.

Let’s begin.

Before Mack, 36, was arrested by the FBI in April 2018 on suspicion of sex trafficking, she was best known for playing Chloe Sullivan, Clark Kent’s best friend in the television drama “Smallville.”

“Smallville” aired from 2001 until 2011 and Mack received awards and nominations for her role. Afterward, sensing a downturn in her career, she sought out a self-help guru, Keith Raniere. According to an in-depth New York Times Magazine article by Vanessa Grigoriadis, Mack asked Raniere to make her “a great actress again.”

Mack was not the only high-profile woman to become interested in Raniere’s Nxivm (pronounced Nexium) movement. The New York guru’s personal development organization also attracted Mack’s Canadian same-sex partner, “Battlestar Galactica” actress Nicki Clyne, as well as the actress daughter of “Dynasty” star Catherine Oxenberg and two daughters of the late Canadian-American billionaire Edgar Bronfman Sr.  

Nxivm is strictly hierarchical, and members are encouraged to look up to their superiors in the organization as they strive for their own personal perfection. Having ascended to the heights of Nxivm, Mack founded a subgroup within the organization: a female-empowerment group for  women who wished to become elite -- elite in the organization and elite in life: happier, richer, thinner, stronger, and more (I quote) “bad-ass.” The group was called “the Vow,” or DOS, or Dominus Obsequious Sororium, dog-Latin for “The Master of the Obedient Sisterhood.”

The Master, of course, was Raniere.  

Here’s where it gets really weird. Women invited to join the “bad-ass” female inner circle were required to hand over something valuable to prove their loyalty. Because they were wealthy, these valuable objects were things like naked photos of themselves, the deeds to their houses, a signed false confession to a crime, or a disclosure of their deepest, darkest secret. Later, they might be asked to hand over their loved one’s secrets as a pledge of their continued loyalty. Such things these women were happy to do, as they saw DOS as their new, female-empowered family. Ultimately, 150 women joined this inner circle.

DOS was hierarchical, too. Women who recruited other women to the group were called Masters. The recruits were called Slaves. Slaves could become Masters in their turn by recruiting other women. Ostensibly, the Masters were supposed to help the slaves by training them to become better, thinner versions of themselves. The slaves were supposed to run errands, but also accept such challenges as sexually “seducing” the Master of Masters, the guru Keith Raniere.

Before Mack was arrested, she told Grigoriadis that her “techniques of female empowerment” were helpful even to herself.   

“Mack recruited other women and even tweeted at famous women like Emma Watson, inviting them to learn more about her techniques of female empowerment,” Grigoriadis reported.  

She added: “Many women told me they improved from this scheme, and Mack agreed. ‘I found my spine, and I just kept solidifying my spine every time I would do something hard,” Mack said passionately.

Grigoriadis also quoted Mack as saying that “DOS was “about women coming together and pledging to one another a full-time commitment to become our most powerful and embodied selves by pushing on our greatest fears, by exposing our greatest vulnerabilities, by knowing that we would stand with each other no matter what, by holding our word, by overcoming pain.’”

Mack wasn’t kidding about the pain. To join DOS, aspirants had to undergo an initiation that involved being branded near their pubic region with a cauterizing pen by a female osteopath as they were held down by their female Masters. Submitting to this as an ultimate act of sisterhood, the new Slaves did not always know that the sacred symbol contained Raniere’s and Mack’s initials.

Most did not know, either, that Mack shared their naked photos with Raniere. Moreover, she blackmailed at least two of them. Mack stated at her trial that, prompted by Raniere, she threatened to make public “compromising information and images” of two women if they didn’t have sex with him.

She is now facing a maximum of 20 years in prison for each of the two counts of racketeering.

Ultimately, this supposedly “bad-ass,” supposedly “empowered” sisterhood of wealthy women were held in thrall to an avowedly polygamous man. According to the FBI, even Mack had placed herself fully in Raniere’s clutches. As collateral, she had given him a deed to her house, rights over any future children she might have, and a letter to social services claiming she had abused her nephews.  

Raniere, who was arrested in Mexico in March 2018, has always maintained that the sex he had with the women of DOS was consensual. He has not yet been put on trial. Mack, who pleaded guilty on April 8, is now facing a maximum of 20 years in prison for each of the two counts of racketeering.

It is said that sisterhood is powerful. What a horrible irony that in seeking sisterhood and “female empowerment,” 150 women joined a society that was, at heart, a harem for the founder of what may just be a psychotherapeutic pyramid scheme. By seeking power, these women became powerless.

As I said, feminism gone mad.

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Civilized man is reverting to barbarism…and Catholic leaders are not calling him back

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By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – History is made by free human beings under the gaze of a sovereignly free God, so it does not follow a strict and settled pattern. The dark nights of human history, ages of invasion, warfare, plague, rebellion, can last much longer than any natural winter does, while long days of religious fervor and cultural flourishing can stretch on with preternatural beauty. In all cases, however, sooner or later, night succeeds day, and day succeeds night. We have here no abiding day, even as we have no endless night. Everlasting day is heaven’s property; everlasting night, hell’s. 

C. S. Lewis wrote:

One of the most dangerous errors is that civilization is automatically bound to increase and spread. The lesson of history is the opposite; civilization is a rarity, attained with difficulty and easily lost. The normal state of humanity is barbarism, just as the normal surface of the planet is salt water. Land looms large in our imagination and civilization in history books, only because sea and savagery are to us less interesting.

Those conversant with modern Church history—in many ways epitomized, as Roberto de Mattei has argued, by the three symbolic dates 1517 (the start of the Protestant Revolt), 1717 (the founding of the first Masonic Lodge), and 1917 (the Bolshevik Revolution)—can see the ever-lengthening, descending gloom making its way, covering the beauty of the Bride of Christ on Earth, as if to smother her at last. 

The lights go out, one by one—be it from national apostasy as in Germany or England, from anticlerical revolutions and state-sponsored brutality as in France or Russia, from the choking comforts of a world hypnotized by technology, from wolves who shepherd and sheep who wander into the night. Finally, in the era of Vatican II, the Church entered a winter like none she has ever seen before.

I recently read: “In 1914 the Russian Church had 54,457 churches; the Communist persecution reduced this number to 6,800.” The thought struck me: is not something like this true of the postconciliar disaster, as well? The ill-starred aggiornamento (updating, bringing the Church up to date in the modern world) tore down sanctuaries and now boards up churches everywhere throughout the Western world. The transmission of the Faith has been diluted, contaminated, in many cases simply dropped. Above all, the worship of God has been altered almost past recognition except in those few churches that hold on to tradition. As historian Henry Sire puts it: “In today’s climate, the many signs of irreverence that originated as abuses and were then promptly authorised, are taken for granted; and a generation brought up in ignorance of the Church’s true prayer has been taught to regard Paul VI’s creation as the norm.”

If most Catholics are still in the dark about the devastation that was wrought on liturgy, theology, spirituality, catechesis, everything, during and after the Second Vatican Council, who can blame them? Are they likely to hear about any of this in RCIA or from the pulpit? That is why those who take their faith seriously are understandably bewildered by what is happening in high speed under Pope Francis: they have no mental or spiritual framework within which to make sense out of it. How did we reach a moment when a pope of the Catholic Church would celebrate Luther and invite Lutherans to communion, sing the praises of “fraternity” to the applause of the Freemasons, and cut a deal subjecting the Church to the control of China’s Communist Party? The spirits of 1517, 1717, and 1917 have descended on Vatican Hill and made themselves at home.

Happily, the traditionalist critique of the current pontificate and of the entire trajectory that paved the way for it is becoming much better known. Ever increasing numbers of Catholics are opening their eyes, dropping their faulty assumptions, preparing themselves for the great tribulation and purification ahead of us—indeed, already upon us.

Let us be candid: we are in another Dark Ages, only this time it’s much darker than the first run. And yet people think we are well off because we have technology and comfort. So what? That makes us (in T.S. Eliot’s memorable phrase) “techno-barbarians.” We can cause more harm more quickly—and then follow it on the news, or replay it as a video game.

This kind of unnatural Western way of life, including its ecclesiastical manifestations, cannot survive. It is contrary to all the laws of sound growth; it is stillborn. Where the Catholic Faith survives, it will be not in the realms of Cardinals Tobin or Cupich, Sorondo or Marx. It will be in the many places, most of them humble and small, where the Faith is still believed and lived in earnest.

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Why post-Christian America will be a meaner, unhappier place

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By Jonathon van Maren

April 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – While Christianity has been collapsing across Europe for the past half-century, with recent data indicating that a mere 18% of those who identify as Christian still attend church services regularly, the United States of America has traditionally been considered a far more Christian country. The electoral power wielded by the so-called Religious Right as well as the piety of many of America’s founders, settlers, and pioneers has infused America’s image with a religiosity that has defined the Shining City on a Hill for generations.

But a General Social Survey now indicates that for the first time in American history, atheists are the largest group in the nation at 23.1%, surpassing both evangelicals and Catholics as the largest portion of the population. Nonbelievers have increased a staggering 266% over the past thirty years, while mainline Protestant churches, which have largely embraced the Sexual Revolution and abandoned Christian orthodoxy entirely, have collapsed from 62.5% in 1982 to just 10.8% of the American population today.

We are already beginning to see the results of this collapse. In his recent book Them: Why We Hate Each Other—And How to Heal, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse details why experts believe there are four primary drivers of human happiness, which can each be phrased as questions: Do you have a family you love and who love you? Do you have friends you trust and confide in? Do you have work that matters? Do you have a worldview that can make sense of suffering and death? 

Religious communities not only provide communities that supply answers to these questions, but religious people are far more likely to behave in ways that lead to long-term happiness. One example is getting married, which religious people are more likely to do. They are also more likely to stay married, and countless studies have proven that those who get married and stay married are far happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who do not. Needless to say, the resulting family stability is also of inestimable value from both a social and a personal perspective.

It is also worth mentioning that Americans are far unhappier now than they were thirty years ago, despite the obvious advantages that have come with technological progress. Depression rates have spiked by 33% in just 6 years, 47% among Millennials, and teen suicide rates have risen by 70% in fifteen years. For the first time in decades, American life expectancy is going down rather than up, and this decline is largely due to what Tucker Carlson has been referring to as “diseases of despair”: Premature death brought on by opioid addiction, alcohol abuse, and drugs. Suicide rates are also on the rise across many age categories.

The fact that Christianity is declining may also impact charitable giving. In 2017, the University of Indiana’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy released data from their Philanthropy Panel Study, which tracks American household giving. David King, the director of the Institute on Faith and Giving, stated that new research reaffirmed what scholars have been saying for a long time: that there is a “substantial connection between religion and giving…Religious affiliation really matters. Someone with a religious affiliation was more than two times more generous than someone without a religious affiliation. And among those with a religious affiliation, religious intensity really matters. Those who attend services were much more likely to give, whether it’s monthly or weekly. We really see the connection grow with continued involvement in a religious community.” 

Finally, as I wrote some time ago here on LifeSiteNews, the declining influence of Christianity on American politics—something that is enthusiastically heralded by progressives—is no cause for celebration. The post-religious Right will be nastier and have a far greater tendency to nativism unhampered by the demands of Christian charity, and the dissolution of Christian moral constraints on both the Left and the Right will give rise to a politics of raw power with a greater emphasis on “us versus them.” As Ross Douthat put it in the New York Times, religious conservatives “actually tried minority outreach, it sent billions to fight AIDS in Africa, it pursued criminal justice reform in the states.” But because of “trends toward secularization and individualism,” that Religious Right is disappearing—but “without the pull of transcendence, the future of the right promises to be tribal, cruel, and very dark indeed.”  

In short, a post-Christian America will be a meaner, more polarized, less charitable, and unhappier place. As many before me have already pointed out, many of America’s current struggles have their roots in this growing spiritual vacuum, and these worrisome trends indicate that these struggles will only increase in the years ahead. That vacuum will be filled, and we may not like what will come in to replace the Christianity spurned by the descendants of those who treasured it. For as G.K. Chesterton once purportedly said, “When Man ceases to worship God he does not worship nothing, but worships everything.”

Jonathon’s new podcast, The Van Maren Show, is dedicated to telling the stories of the pro-life and pro-family movement. In his latest episode, he interviews world-renowned author and philosopher Gabriele Kuby who exposes the LGBT agenda not only as a "lie,” but something "diabolical." You can subscribe here, and listen to the episode below: 

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VIDEO: Top takeaways from Pope Benedict’s letter on abuse crisis

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By John-Henry Westen

April 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A lengthy letter said to have been penned by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI addresses the abuse crisis tracing its origin to the sexual revolution and the subsequent revolution in the clergy.

It gives as a solution to the crisis a return to a demonstrative belief in God and also a return to respect for the Holy Eucharist.

The letter, first published by EWTN, gives little indication of its authenticity, nor even a date. However, LifeSiteNews received information that a major document would be released tomorrow in Rome and thus provides this summary of the main points of the document.

Tracing the sexual revolution in Germany and Austria via an account of state-sponsored sex-ed films for children and youth showing sexual intercourse, Pope Benedict’s letter then notes the betrayal of theologians regarding the rejection of the concept of intrinsic evil – the concept that there are “actions which were always and under all circumstances to be classified as evil.”

Benedict recalls how Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor was denounced by the leading German theologian because of its inclusion of intrinsic evil.

Explaining the concept in defense of Pope John Paul, Benedict writes: “[John Paul] knew that he must leave no doubt about the fact that the moral calculus involved in balancing goods must respect a final limit. There are goods that are never subject to trade-offs. There are values which must never be abandoned for a greater value and even surpass the preservation of physical life. There is martyrdom. God is (about) more than mere physical survival. A life that would be bought by the denial of God, a life that is based on a final lie, is a non-life.”

Turning to the moral corruption of the clergy, Benedict writes that during the 1960s, “In various seminaries homosexual cliques were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries.” He notes that when the Vatican tried to investigate such things they were blocked.

From a seemingly detached position, Benedict notes that the “criteria for the selection and appointment of bishops had also been changed after the Second Vatican Council… Above all, a criterion for the appointment of new bishops was now their ‘conciliarity.’" He adds: “Indeed, in many parts of the Church, conciliar attitudes were understood to mean having a critical or negative attitude towards the hitherto existing tradition, which was now to be replaced by a new, radically open relationship with the world.”

Giving an example, the Pope Emeritus relates, “One bishop (whom he does not name), who had previously been seminary rector, had arranged for the seminarians to be shown pornographic films, allegedly with the intention of thus making them resistant to behavior contrary to the faith.”

Summarizing in one paragraph the severity of the problem Benedict writes: 

There were — not only in the United States of America — individual bishops who rejected the Catholic tradition as a whole and sought to bring about a kind of new, modern "Catholicity" in their dioceses. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that in not a few seminaries, students caught reading my books were considered unsuitable for the priesthood. My books were hidden away, like bad literature, and only read under the desk.

The Pope Emeritus recalls the words of Jesus: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea" (Mark 9:42) relating them to an abuse of the faith. “The phrase ‘the little ones’ in the language of Jesus means the common believers who can be confounded in their faith by the intellectual arrogance of those who think they are clever. So here Jesus protects the deposit of the faith with an emphatic threat of punishment to those who do it harm,” explains Benedict.

Key quotes on the solution to the crisis

  • The counterforce against evil, which threatens us and the whole world, can ultimately only consist in our entering into this love [of God]. It is the real counterforce against evil. The power of evil arises from our refusal to love God. He who entrusts himself to the love of God is redeemed. Our being not redeemed is a consequence of our inability to love God. Learning to love God is therefore the path of human redemption.”
  • When God does die in a society, it becomes free, we were assured. In reality, the death of God in a society also means the end of freedom, because what dies is the purpose that provides orientation. And because the compass disappears that points us in the right direction by teaching us to distinguish good from evil. 
  • That is the case with pedophilia. It was theorized only a short time ago as quite legitimate, but it has spread further and further. And now we realize with shock that things are happening to our children and young people that threaten to destroy them. The fact that this could also spread in the Church and among priests ought to disturb us in particular.
  • Why did pedophilia reach such proportions? Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God. 
  • We Christians and priests also prefer not to talk about God, because this speech does not seem to be practical. 
  • A paramount task, which must result from the moral upheavals of our time, is that we ourselves once again begin to live by God and unto Him. Above all, we ourselves must learn again to recognize God as the foundation of our life instead of leaving Him aside as a somehow ineffective phrase. 

Don’t devalue the True Presence by offering it as a courtesy

Pope Benedict ties the crisis to disrespect for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. The Pope Emeritus speak of “how little we Christians of today still know about appreciating the greatness of the gift that consists in His Real Presence,” noting that the “Eucharist is devalued into a mere ceremonial gesture when it is taken for granted that courtesy requires Him to be offered at family celebrations or on occasions such as weddings and funerals to all those invited for family reasons.”

“What is required first and foremost,” says Pope Benedict “is the renewal of the Faith in the Reality of Jesus Christ given to us in the Blessed Sacrament.” He adds, “we must do all we can to protect the gift of the Holy Eucharist from abuse.”

Benedict XVI concludes warning against the temptation of the devil to see the Church as “entirely bad” and thus creating a new “better Church” of our own making.

“The idea of a better Church, created by ourselves, is in fact a proposal of the devil, with which he wants to lead us away from the living God, through a deceitful logic by which we are too easily duped,” he writes. Benedict says that even though there are bad fish and weeds in the Church, the “Church of God also exists today, and today it is the very instrument through which God saves us.”

“It is very important to oppose the lies and half-truths of the devil with the whole truth: Yes, there is sin in the Church and evil,” Benedict concludes. “But even today there is the Holy Church, which is indestructible.”

Despite the fact that many passages in the letter could be read as a criticism of Pope Francis, particularly the section around devaluing the Eucharist by allowing its indiscriminate reception, Benedict ends his letter with this praise for Pope Francis.

“At the end of my reflections I would like to thank Pope Francis for everything he does to show us, again and again, the light of God, which has not disappeared, even today. Thank you, Holy Father!”

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