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Selina Soule, a 16-year-old runner from Glastonbury, Connecticut, shares what it’s like being forced to compete against biological boys. The Daily Signal
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Boys claiming to be girls are dominating girls’ sports. These girls are fighting back

Kelsey Bolar
By Kelsey Bolar
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Selina Soule, a 16-year-old runner from Glastonbury, Connecticut, shares what it’s like being forced to compete against biological boys. (Photo: The Daily Signal) The Daily Signal
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A junior in high school, Selina Soule is asking for fairness to be returned to her sport. (Photo: The Daily Signal) The Daily Signal

May 8, 2019 (The Daily Signal) — When two high school athletes who were born male but identify as female took first and second place at Connecticut's girls' indoor track championship this year, it wasn't just a local news story.

To some, it was a story of triumph and courage. The winner, a junior from Bloomfield High School, set a girls' state indoor record of 6.95 seconds in the 55-meter dash, and went on to win the New England titles in both the 55-meter dash and the 300-meter dash.

To others, it was a story of shock and disappointment: Is this the end of women's sports?

To Selina Soule, a 16-year-old runner from Glastonbury, it was personal. 

A junior, Selina missed qualifying for the 55-meter in the New England regionals by two spots — two spots, she said, that were taken by biological boys.

Had the boys who identify as girls not been allowed to compete, Selina would have placed sixth, qualifying to run the 55 in front of college coaches at the New England regionals.

Instead, she placed eighth, watching the 55 from the sidelines after qualifying in only the long jump, an event in which the transgender athletes didn't compete.

"It's very frustrating and heartbreaking when us girls are at the start of the race and we already know that these athletes are going to come out and win no matter how hard you try," Selina told The Daily Signal. "They took away the spots of deserving girls, athletes ... me being included."

While the debate over transgender athletes and fairness is complex, the situation in Connecticut has brought forth another complicating layer: Plenty of parents and high school girls appear to object to the participation of biological boys in girls' sports, but fearing public bullying and backlash, they're not speaking out. 

Publicly, at least.

The stakes of remaining silent are high: Policies are being formed in real time at the local, state, and federal levels regarding transgender individuals, student athletes, and sports. 

Most prominently, on March 13, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced HR 5, the Equality Act, a bill that would add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as protected classes under federal civil rights law.

The legislation would create a civil right for male athletes to self-identify as females at any time, critics say, without any evidence of physical changes to their bodies.

A Voice for the Voiceless

When the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, or CIAC, said biological boys who identify as girls can compete as girls in sports, most track athletes remained mum. 

Connecticut is one of 17 states that allow transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions, according to Transathlete.com, a website that tracks state policies in high school sports across the country.

Encouraged by her mother, Bianca Stanescu, who has been in the forefront in challenging the state policy, Selina is one of the few students, if not the only one, giving a voice to countless others who appear to feel the same way.

"Everyone is afraid of retaliation from the media, from the kids around their school, from other athletes, coaches, schools, administrators," Selina explained. "They don't want to drag attention to themselves, and they don't want to be seen as a target for potential bullying and threats."

In a visit to the Nutmeg State, The Daily Signal spoke with four other track athletes from two high schools in Connecticut. Echoing Selina's sentiments, they asked to remain anonymous.

"I think it's a very important thing for people to really understand where we're coming from, instead of just immediately going to, 'We're transphobic,'" one said. "Just the way that our society is built, it snaps on people so quickly."

"We live in such a cruel world, and society is just so hard to figure out sometimes," another girl told The Daily Signal. "You never know what the reaction is going to be. It's so hard because you want your voice to be heard ... but, how can you know what to say that will affect things positively, instead of people twisting what you're saying and turning it against you?"

'An Equality Issue'

The girls' parents, too, expressed a high level of concern for protecting their daughters' identities, not even wanting to identify them by high school. 

Connecticut is made up of small towns, the parents explained, and given the relatively small number of athletes affected, people can connect the dots.

"There's really nothing else you can do except get super frustrated and roll your eyes," the first girl said, "because it's really hard to even come out and talk in public just because of the way with the far left, and how just immediately you'll just be shut down."

"It's not like we're saying that we don't like transgender people," she added. "It's just an equality issue where these girls are trying their absolute hardest to try and get those good things on their college resumes, and then it just gets completely taken away from them because there's a biological male racing against them."

The athletes say they don't fear only being bullied or portrayed as a bigot. They also hope to attend college, and are afraid their politically incorrect views could hurt their prospects.

"I personally want a future in athletics in college," a third girl told The Daily Signal, "but I feel like if there's a coach that disagrees with my personal opinion, or a board that disagrees with it, then they'll already have a predisposition with me and then it'll affect maybe playing time or my ability to get into that college."

"We have college down the road — I'm scared that that could get impacted," a fourth girl said. "Sometimes the coaches will just like look at the lists ... and if you're not No. 1 then they won't choose you."

"I have heard opinions where coaches are just going to look at your times, and that they don't really care where you place," the first girl added. "But college coaches are going to these bigger meets, and when they don't see you there, they're not necessarily focusing on you. They're focusing on the people that are there."

"It kept Selina from getting to New Englands, where she had the opportunity to be running in front of college coaches, which is just unfair," she added.

Uncomfortable Opinions

The athletes' hesitation to speak out publicly raises the question:

How did society get to the point where high school girls now fear their uncomfortable opinions could prevent them from being admitted to the very institutions where uncomfortable opinions are supposed to be explored?

Whatever the answer, few could blame them, given the vitriol on display in today's public square.

Business Insider removed a writer's article defending the casting of Scarlett Johansson to play a transgender man in an upcoming film, for example. The publication said the article violated its "editorial standards," and the writer later quit. 

Authorities in Canada allegedly threatened to arrest a father if he refers to his biological daughter as a female in private or in public because she identifies as a boy.

And in schools, The Daily Signal has documented multiple cases of biological girls being forced to share locker rooms or bathrooms with boys, despite their safety concerns and discomfort.

But again and again, those on the "wrong side" of this conversation are too afraid to speak out.

'Door Is Open for Any Other Sport'

Selina's mother, Stanescu, told The Daily Signal that she has done "everything that I thought would be possible to help this and just open a conversation" about what's happened in Connecticut and what could happen should Congress pass the Equality Act. 

"The doors have been shut over and over again," Stanescu said. "People are afraid to speak."

In addition to potentially instating a nationwide bathroom requirement, a health care mandate, and a "preferred pronoun" law based on gender identity, the Equality Act would enshrine in federal law the right of biological boys to compete as girls in all sports.

If the measure passes, Stanescu warned, "women will be completely eradicated from sports."

What's happening in Connecticut, she added, will happen across the country — and not just in track and field.

"Yes, it has been affecting track and field in Connecticut, but the door is open there for any sport, and that is something that could become also a safety issue," Stanescu said. "It's taking away the opportunity to win for the girls, but in sports that have physical contact, [it] could become a serious safety issue."

"It could be potentially very dangerous if you have a transgender female that's competing in basketball, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey because they are so physically superior to females," her daughter Selina added.

Selina says all this while making clear she supports athletes "being true to themselves."

"I have friends in school who are transgender and I know when they are struggling to come out or deciding to come out, I was there supporting them," she said. "And when they were freshly out, I was caring towards them. I was never rude or disrespectful."

But the situation in sports has "nothing to do with their gender identity and how they feel," Selina said. "It has to do with what is right and what is fair in athletics."

Looking forward to her senior year, Selina said she hopes to run track in college. She referred to the long jump event as her "safe haven" where "the results were fair no matter what, because it was girls competing against girls."

"But now, unfortunately," she said with a disappointed look on her face, "one of those athletes has started to compete in long jump. So now none of my events are safe."

Published with permission from The Daily Signal.

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Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput
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Abp. Chaput supports Friday Philadelphia rally against Dem rep who harassed pro-lifers

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By Lisa Bourne

Learn more about Archbishop Chaput’s views and past actions by visiting FaithfulShepherds.com. Click here.

May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM CAP condemned the harassment of several of pro-life women by a pro-abortion Pennsylvania legislator Wednesday and called for participation in the pro-life rally organized for Friday in response.

Democratic state representative Brian Sims’s behavior was “unbecoming of an elected official,” Chaput said, and “rightly sparked broad outrage,” in particular the lawmaker’s call for three pro-life teen girls to be doxxed.

In a statement, Chaput called for “broad participation” in a rally organized by pro-life group Live Action in response, so participants could “meet the hateful actions of Representative Sims with the love of Christ.”

“I’m calling on all people of good will to channel their indignation into right action and prayerful witness,” he said.

On May 2, Sims posted video of himself verbally assaulting a Catholic woman as she prayed the rosary outside a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood abortion facility. Sims continuously stalked and berated the woman during the nine-minute video, calling her an “old white lady” and a racist, condemning her faith and saying what she was doing was “disgusting,” “shameful,” and  “grotesque.”

Sims’s video included text he’d posted that said in part, “Push back against Planned Parenthood protesters, PLEASE! They prey on young women, they use white privilege, & shame. They’re racist, classist, bigots who NEED & DESERVE our righteous opposition.”

The video went viral, and subsequently further video surfaced that Sims had shared showing him approaching three girls who’d been praying outside the Planned Parenthood and offering $100 for anyone who would identify them. In the video, Sims also harassed a young man who was praying there.

The videos have spurred significant backlash. A tweet from conservative writer Matt Walsh suggesting a pro-life rally, while inviting Sims, at the same Planned Parenthood where Sims harassed the pro-life advocates developed into the rally organized by Live Action for Friday that will feature Lila Rose, Abby Johnson, Church Militant, and others.

Chaput first noted in his statement how the videos showed Sims “aggressively harassing young and elderly women who were peacefully praying” outside the Planned Parenthood.

“These videos, which Representative Sims took himself, have rightly sparked broad outrage and garnered much attention in the press,” the archbishop said. “His actions were unbecoming of an elected official. There is much bitter irony that he claims to be a champion for the rights of all women yet he trampled on the rights of others and disgracefully shamed them in public.”

“It was particularly disdainful that he offered a bounty for the identity and home addresses of three young ladies in order to encourage protests at their homes,” Chaput added.

The U.S. is founded on democratic principles and civil discourse in the public square, the Philadelphia prelate continued.

“Our elected officials represent all of their constituents,” he stated, “not just the ones with whom they agree. Representative Sims spoke often of shame and there was plenty of that to be found in his actions, which demonstrated a complete disregard for civility and basic human decency.” 

Chaput then issued his call for appropriate action and prayerful witness. 

“Live Action has organized a prayerful rally that will take place this Friday, May 10 outside the Planned Parenthood Clinic at 12th and Locust Streets here in Philadelphia at 11 a.m.” wrote Archbishop Chaput. “I’m encouraging broad participation in this peaceful initiative. Let us meet the hateful actions of Representative Sims with the love of Christ and let us fervently pray for respect for life from conception to natural death.”

Watch the LifeSiteNews Facebook page for live coverage of Friday’s pro-life demonstration.

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For sale on Etsy: nine ‘consecrated’ communion hosts ‘for abuse’

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

BROOKLYN, New York, May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― The e-commerce company Etsy.com is known for sales of cute crafts. Unfortunately, it also permits the sale of the sacred.

On May 7, Catholics on social media were alerted to an Etsy listing offering what the vendor claimed were “Real Catholic Hosts, consecrated by a priest.”  

The seller, calling himself “AL” and his business “Pentagora,” stated that the purpose of the nine hosts was “to abuse for classic black fairs or black magic purposes.”

The hosts, he said, were made and consecrated in Germany, and the listing indicated that they would be shipped from Germany.

LifeSiteNews contacted the vendor for evidence that the hosts were indeed consecrated.

“Maybe you don't know, but to celebrate an authentic black mass, you have to be an ordained Catholic priest,” AL responded.

“There are a handful of priests in Germany who work in the satanic underground. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to tell you more,” he continued.

“Germany has always been a country of the occult. You don't have to believe me. The right people recognize me, that's all that matters.”

Beverly Stevens, the editor of Regina Magazine, said the sale of the Blessed Sacrament in Germany didn’t surprise her.

Stevens, who lived in Germany for seven years, told LifeSiteNews over social media that in that country “Catholic artifacts and sacred objects are routinely treated with the utmost disdain by the hierarchy and the elites they cater to ― so pretty predictable that this would spread to regular people.”

Stevens said she had seen sacred relics for sale in a Wiesbaden flea market.

“The seller thought it amusing that we Americans were horrified,” she recalled. “So the sale of consecrated hosts online for satanic worship purposes is completely predictable. I doubt whether Cardinal (Reinhard) Marx would bat an eye.”  

The item was listed as “handmade” and therefore did not meet the marketplace criteria of Etsy, which states that this category cannot be used by someone “not involved in designing or making that item.” Etsy also has a anti-discrimination policy that forbids “posts that support or glorify hate groups and their members” and “derogatory or demeaning remarks against protected groups,” including religious groups.

LifeSiteNews reached out to Etsy for comment but was merely directed to the company’s House Rules.

The Catholic Church teaches that during the consecration of the Mass the Eucharistic wafers become the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ while retaining only the sensory appearance (i.e. accidents) of bread.

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Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi finds refuge in Canada but faces Muslim retribution

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By Martin Barillas

OTTAWA, May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was sentenced to death in Pakistan for violating Muslim law, has arrived in Canada in the hope of starting a new life.

After spending years on death row in her native Pakistan, Asia Bibi (aka Asia Noreen) may spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder despite finding refuge in Canada. Muslims have sworn to kill her despite being acquitted of charges of violating Pakistan’s laws barring blasphemy. She was sentenced to death in 2010 after being accused of blasphemy under Pakistani religious law following a dispute with two Muslim women in her village over a cup of water. According to Bibi’s accusers, Muslim sharia law forbids Christians from using the same eating and drinking utensils used by Muslims.

Bibi told her persecutor, "I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Muhammad ever do to save mankind?" For these remarks, Bibi was beaten by her Muslim neighbors who had pursued her home. Police arrived to arrest her and take her into custody, pending trial. Once convicted, she faced possible hanging, which is the prescribed death for blasphemers in Pakistan. While no one has been hung for blasphemy yet in modern Pakistan, many of the accused have died at the hands of enraged Muslim mobs.

Bibi’s case soon garnered the attention of the world, gaining support from Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, as well as various Christian groups around the world. When they called for Bibi’s release, Salman Taseer, a Pakistani Muslim politician, and Clement Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic who was serving as Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs, were murdered on orders of Muslim militant groups.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo extended best wishes to Bibi, saying in a statement that she has been "safely reunited with her family." International attention forced the hand of Pakistani authorities to secure Bibi’s departure.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in November 2018 that negotiations were afoot to bring Bibi to Canada. Confirming that Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, had begged for asylum in Canada, United Kingdom, or the United States, Trudeau said Pakistan was "very dangerous" for him and his family. Recently, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told the BBC that Bibi would soon leave Pakistan.

In October 2018, the supreme court of Pakistan overturned Bibi’s conviction and she was eventually released from prison. Violent protests, led by the Islamic group Tehreek-e-Labbaik, broke out across Pakistan as Muslims called for the murder of the judges of the high court. Meanwhile, Bibi and her family were taken into protective custody. In hiding, she and her family were hunted down by Muslim extremists who went on a house-to-house search for her. While she remained in custody, two of Bibi’s daughters preceded her to refuge in Canada.

Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Malook, and his family fled Pakistan fearing for their lives after her acquittal. According to Fr. Raymond J. DeSouza, a Canadian Catholic priest and columnist, 10 million Pakistani Muslims stand ready to kill Bibi for a reward, which has been offered by a Muslim religious leader.

Currently, Bibi’s whereabouts in Canada are unknown. There are reports that she may be provided with a new identity while authorities find a new home for Bibi and family. Canadian authorities are expected to protect her and members of her family. The Catholic Church is also expected to provide a welcome to her, even while there are fears that churches may in turn become targets for Muslim terrorism. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused comment on May 8.

According to the CIA Factbook, Christians and Hindus together constitute but 3.6 percent of Pakistan’s 200 million people. The majority, however, of persons accused of blasphemy are non-Muslims. Hindus constitute the largest minority group in Pakistan, which broke away from India in the late 1940s.

According to Open Doors, Christians are especially targeted by Pakistan’s sharia blasphemy laws. The group, which advocates for religious freedom, stated, “Under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws, Christian persecution is a growing problem and Christians continue to live in daily fear that they will be accused of blasphemy — which can carry a penalty of death. Additionally, radical Islamists seem to be gaining more political power, and the new ruling government must maintain good diplomatic relationships with some radical groups. Christians are largely regarded as second-class citizens, and conversion to Christianity from Islam carries a great deal of risk.”

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Rugby player Israel Folau Twitter.com/IzzyFolau
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Athlete could lose $4 million contract for quoting the Bible on sinfulness of homosexuality

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By Martin Barillas

SYDNEY, Australia (LifeSiteNews) — Israel Folau, an evangelical Christian and rugby football star, was found guilty of breaching the Rugby Australia code of conduct for quoting St. Paul’s biblical teachings against fornication and homosexuality.

A three-person independent tribunal wrapped up on Tuesday three days of deliberations and found Folau guilty of a high-level breach of the code of conduct enforced by the governing body of Australian rugby teams. So far, no sanction has been announced against Folau. However, he may face cancellation of his $4 million contract and forgo a chance to appear in the forthcoming rugby world championship.

“The panel has today provided a judgment that Israel Folau committed a high-level breach of the Professional Players’ Code of Conduct with his social media posts on April 10, 2019,” read a statement from the panel that decided his case. “The panel will now take further written submissions from the parties to consider the matter of sanction. A further update with be provided after the panel delivers its decision on sanction.”

Once a decision has been made on a sanction, both Folau and Rugby Australia will have 72 hours to offer an appeal. While Folau may face a fine and suspension instead of a contract termination, he will never play again for the Wallabies team.

Any infraction deemed less than “high level” would not have allowed Rugby Australia to terminate Folau’s contract with the Wallabies team legally, forcing the governing body to offer an expensive monetary settlement to him.

A sanction is expected within several days, even while Rugby Australia has not yet set a timeline for a decision. Folau has already rejected a $1 million settlement, and will not receive any payout now because of the finding of guilt on his part.

Folau fell afoul of Rugby Australia after he published several controversial social media posts in which he expressed his religious beliefs concerning immorality, quoting the Bible. Raelene Castle, who heads Rugby Australia, issued Folau a notice that he had committed a high-level breach of the body’s code of conduct.

The decision in Folau’s case was met with support from some members of the media and sports. For example, media celebrity Ed Kavalee said on Fox Sports’ The Back Page, “This is the most expensive social media post of all time.” He added, “It’s cost Israel $4 million.”

Journalist Robert Craddock of the Courier-Mail said on The Back Page, “We’ve seen one of the most significant moments of the sporting century in Australia, in that a powerhouse rugby union player who is Australia’s best player heading into a World Cup, will be banished from the game, probably for good.” Craddock predicted further controversy.

Cory Bernardi, who leads Australian conservatives, expressed astonishment over Folau’s verdict. He told Sky News in a reference to Folau’s quoting of the Bible, “I find it extraordinary that quoting from the bestselling book in the history of the world is a breach of contract.” He added, “There was no hate in that at all. He’s just upset a bloke who runs an airline like a kingdom.”

Bernardi was apparently referring to Alan Joyce, the openly homosexual CEO of Qantas airlines and chief sponsor of the Wallabies. Joyce told a newspaper in the run-up to the 2017 same-sex marriage campaign, “We have 580 companies involved ... If you’re unhappy with a company that’s involved with the campaign, you won’t be able to bank and you won’t be able to fly anywhere.”

Because free speech is guaranteed in Australia, Folau’s case may go to Australia’s High Court for consideration. After Rugby Australia’s initial announcement that it would cancel Folau’s contract, LifeSiteNews issued a petition asking for his reinstatement.

While Folau may never be able to play professional rugby in Australia again, a career in Europe is also in question. The president of the Toulon rugby club, Mourad Boudjellal, told French sports journal L’Equipe: “This guy’s a moron; he ought to clear out. Or he needs to buy himself a brain. He still has the Ku Klux Klan; then he’ll see what it’s like on the other side.” Also, sports shoe manufacturer Asics has announced that it is cancelling a lucrative contract with Folau.

An evangelical Christian, Folau has run afoul of gay rights campaigners in the past because of his support for traditional marriage. Asked by the Sydney Morning Herald whether he will leave professional rugby instead of apologizing for his beliefs as required by Australia Rugby, Folau said, "Whatever His will is, whether that's to continue playing or not, I'm more than happy to do what He wants me to do." Folau said rugby is important to him, “but my faith in Jesus Christ is what comes first."

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New York appeals court ruling clears the way for Fulton Sheen’s remains to return to Illinois

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

NEW YORK, May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― The New York State Court of Appeal upheld a decision allowing a Catholic hero to be disinterred from New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral and taken home to his childhood diocese.

The remains of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen might now be transferred to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Illinois, according to his family’s wishes.  

“After almost three years of litigation, the New York Archdiocese’s legal arguments have now been rejected at all three levels of the New York state court system,” Monsignor James E. Kruse, the vicar general for the Diocese of Peoria, said in a statement.

“Although the New York Archdiocese may technically have legal options remaining, they are contrary to the wishes of Archbishop Sheen and his family, and would serve no genuine purpose except to delay the eventual transfer of Archbishop Sheen’s remains. We call on the Archdiocese of New York to end its litigious endeavors,” Kruse continued.

It is the latest chapter in the story of Sheen’s canonization, a tale that pitted the Diocese of Peoria against the Archdiocese of New York as they fought over the potential saint’s mortal remains.  

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979), the first modern American “media priest,” became a household name across the United States during a broadcasting career that spanned five decades. Born in El Paso, Illinois, Sheen was ordained a priest in Peoria in 1919 and  consecrated a bishop in 1951. He served as an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York from 1951 to 1965. He was then appointed Archbishop of Rochester, a post from which he resigned in 1969.

In 2002, almost 23 years after his death, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints opened the cause for Sheen’s sainthood, prompted by the Peoria diocese. In 2006, testimony concerning two miracles alleged to have occurred through Sheen’s intercession was sent to Rome. In 2012, after the Vatican had sifted through boxes of material on Sheen’s life and ministry, Pope Benedict XVI declared the late archbishop “Venerable.” It seemed as though Sheen would continue to the next stage of the canonization process, called beatification, in no time.

However, in 2014 the Diocese of Peoria announced that the process had been stalled and the Cause “suspended.” Although Sheen might have been beatified in Peoria early in 2015, in order for this to happen, his body would have to be moved from New York to Peoria first. This, however, entailed the permission of the Archdiocese of New York.

“The Holy See expected that the remains of Venerable Sheen would be moved to Peoria where official inspection would be made and first class relics be taken,” the Diocese explained.

“Subsequently, the Archdiocese of New York denied Bishop (Daniel) Jenky’s request to move the body to Peoria. After further discussion with Rome, it was decided that the Sheen cause would now have to be relegated to the Congregation’s historic archive.”

According to the Diocese of Peoria, the Archdiocese of New York had earlier promised to transfer Sheen’s corporal relics:

“Countless supporters, especially from the local church in central Illinois, have given their time, treasure and talent for this good work with the clear understanding that the body of Venerable Sheen would return to the Diocese,” the diocese’ statement continued.  

“Bishop Jenky was personally assured on several occasions by the Archdiocese of New York that the transfer of the body would take place at the appropriate time. New York’s change of mind took place as the work on behalf of the cause had reached a significant stage.”

Sheen’s niece also wished his remains to be transferred to Peoria so that the cause for his sainthood could continue going forward. On November 17, 2016, the Supreme Court of the State of New York ruled in favor of Sheen’s family. Days later, Cardinal Timothy Dolan appealed the decision and requested an injunction, blocking the transfer of Sheen’s body from St. Patrick’s to St. Mary’s Cathedral and thus stalling the beatification process again.  

The New York diocese, which insists that it was following Sheen’s wishes in keeping his remains, has stated that the Vatican has indicated the beatification could go ahead without a transfer to Illinois.   

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Democrat who endorsed abortion of ‘unwanted children’ announces Senate run

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By Calvin Freiburger

ALABAMA, May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Alabama state Rep. John Rogers, the Democrat who rose to prominence after admitting that abortion “kill[s] kids” but defending it anyway, has announced he intends to challenge Democrat Doug Jones for his seat in the U.S. Senate.

“I am now a candidate for United States Senate,” Rogers declared on the floor of the state House Tuesday, Fox News reports. “I’ve already, I’ve got – I’m running for real. I’m not backing down. I’m a candidate. I’ve already – I asked them to give me $1 million, and already $500,000 have come in already. And so if I get $500,000 [in addition], I’ll be an official candidate. I’m telling you right now.”

Amid the debate over the Alabama House’s passage of a bill to criminalize nearly all abortions, Democrat state Rep. John Rogers launched a shockingly blunt defense of abortion on the grounds that “some kids are unwanted, so you kill ‘em now or kill ‘em later.” He also argued that “some parents can’t handle a child with problems,” because “it could be retarded. It might have no arms and no legs.”

Rogers, who identifies as a “personally pro-life” Catholic, claimed in a follow-up interview that he was trying highlight the supposed double-standards of pro-lifers when it comes to valuing life due to their views on issues such as food stamps and Medicaid expansion. But he quickly reverted to his original tone in response to criticism by the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

“That proves I’m right to make a scene about abortion, him being born, that’s proof right there,” Rogers said, laughing. “Him being born, that’s a very very good defense I have for abortion. His mother should have aborted him when he was born and he wouldn’t have made that stupid statement, right? He’s evidently retarded or crazy.”

Jones, who in 2017 won the previously-Republican Senate seat vacated by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, commented to the Washington Examiner he was “absolutely appalled” by Rogers’ comments, and “think[s] he owes an apology to the people of the state.”

During a Monday radio interview, Rogers apologized only for using the word “retarded,” and claimed that Jones had contacted him privately to assure him that he agreed with Rogers’ first abortion comments and only issued his public disavowal for political expediency. “He told me, ‘Doug, John, I know you’re right but I got to come out against you,’” he said. “I said, ‘OK.’ I said, ‘Fine, if it’s going to help your campaign, do that.’”

Yellowhammer News reports that Jones has not explicitly denied Rogers’ version of the talk, instead saying only that he’s “disappointed he made our private conversation public.” A second phone call between the two men, motivated by Rogers’ Trump Jr. comments, was more hositle, and reportedly sealed Rogers’ decision to run. “Shut up. [You’re] killin’ me,” Jones said according to Rogers.

“Look, we are just going to have to agree to disagree on this. I made my position clear," Jones said in a statement to the Examiner. "I thought his remarks were appalling, and I told him that I strongly disagreed with him. There is already too much division in our politics, and I won’t add to it here. With that, that’s all I’m going to say on this matter.”

Jones presented himself as moderately pro-”choice” during the 2017 campaign, saying that he supported restricting late-term abortions “except in the case of medical necessity.” But when the Senate voted in January 2018 on a late-term abortion ban that contained the exception he claimed to require, Jones joined his fellow Democrats in opposing it. Earlier this year, he did break ranks with Senate Democrats in voting to require medical care for newborns who survive abortions.

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CNN guest: ‘When a woman gets pregnant, that is not a human being inside’

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By Calvin Freiburger

May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) got into a heated debate Monday with CNN host Chris Cuomo and panelist Christine Quinn, both of whom emphatically denied that a baby growing in a mother’s womb is a separate human being.

Cuomo began the segment by asking Quinn, the president and CEO of the New York homelessness organization Win, to react to the current wave of bills that seek to ban abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected. “This is a clear attempt to take decisions about a woman's body and birth out of the hands of a woman and out of the hands of doctors,” she said. “And that, to me, is really shocking.”

When Santorum’s turn to speak came, he challenged both of them on their framing that “this is all about choice, all about a woman's right.” No, he argued, “it's all about the life of a little baby. And - and you can invalidate that and say that - that doesn't matter. But to millions of Americans, it does matter, and it's not that we hate women or want to violate women, but we truly do care about the life of that child on the woman, and we think a good society protects those children.”

After Cuomo and Quinn expressed incredulity that Santorum refused to accept the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling as the last word on the abortion debate, Cuomo invoked the discredited myth that women “were killing themselves in back alleys” before Roe, to which Santorum noted that millions of babies “are dying now too, Chris.”

“Rick, that is a big- that is a lie,” Quinn declared. “If you really cared about the health of human beings, you would never take an issue like this away from a woman and her doctor.”

“Do you realize a baby dies in an abortion?” Santorum asked. “Do you realize that? Are you ignoring that fact? That's a- that's a reality.” Quinn and Cuomo both retorted that this wasn’t a “legal fact,” leading Santorum to ask if they disagreed that “at the moment of conception, a child is human and alive.” Cuomo attempted to invoke “viability” and turn the conversation back to whatever the courts recognize.

“It’s in every biology textbook in the world, at conception that is a human life,” Santorum noted, to which Quinn claimed, “that is not the medical...that is not science.” Cuomo again refused to give a straight answer as to what a fetus is before viability. Santorum suggested he was essentially arguing an early-term baby was a woman’s “property,” to which Cuomo said, “I’m okay with that.”

After more back-and-forth, Santorum reiterated that abortion is “still taking a life,” which Cuomo conceded – while maintaining taking these lives is justified by the amount of thought abortion seekers put into doing so.

“Yes, I know, and they think about it,” he said. “And they think about it in a way that you never will, Rick. So you're projecting all these emotions and sensibilities on ethics on people in a decision you'll never make.”

When it again became Quinn’s turn to speak, she flatly declared that “when a woman gets pregnant, that is not a human being inside of her. It's part of her body.”

Contrary to Quinn and Cuomo’s claims, long-settled biological criteria and numerous mainstream scientific and medical textbooks have established that a living human being is created upon fertilization and is present throughout the entirety of pregnancy.

Many abortionists and pro-abortion activists and philosophers admit as much, granting preborn babies’ humanity while either claiming a mother’s “bodily autonomy” trumps a baby’s rights or drawing a philosophical distinction between humans and persons (arguments pro-life philosophers have extensively challenged).

The final subject the panel touched on the topic of infanticide, with Cuomo taking exception to the “President of the United States saying that a baby is born at the end of full-term, swaddled in a blanket, and then they decide whether or not to execute it.” Santorum noted that Virginia Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam effectively endorsed it and New York legalized abortion up until birth.

“Go ask a priest if he's okay with you arguing the case that way and see how he feels,” Cuomo challenged. Quinn echoed him, declaring that “No priest is going to condone lying.”

In fact, Northam did endorse the notion of resuscitating severely-deformed newborns only “if that’s what the mother and the family desired” (in defense of a bill whose own author admitted would have allowed abortion as late as when a woman “has physical signs that she is about to give birth” such as “dilating.” New York’s law allows abortions past 24 weeks for (among other reasons) a woman’s “health,” which pro-lifers have long warned is a vague and subjective standard that effectively allows abortionists to justify abortion for any reason they want.

The current push for new born-alive infant protections is driven in large part by the lack of criminal penalties or clear-cut care requirements for abortionists who withhold treatment from newborns. Yet Cuomo dismissed pro-life arguments on the subject as “crap” meant to “stoke hate.”

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Think praying outside abortion clinics is pointless? This pro-lifer proves otherwise

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By LifeSiteNews staff

May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — John Barros is a 64-year-old man. He’s had cancer and recently suffered a stroke. But none of that has stopped him from standing outside an abortion clinic in Orlando, Florida for the last 9 years.

Barros has a truly unique story. In this episode of The Van Maren Show, he and host Jonathon van Maren discuss what it’s been like as he stands outside an abortion clinic all day five days a week.

“I don't have the power to turn a heart that is dead set on ending their baby's life,” he says. “I do not have that power. But what I preach here [is] God uses his word to literally plow up some very hard ground in open people's lives and they choose life.”

Barros, who first stood outside the clinic 15 years ago, estimates that between 20 and 30 girls a month turn away from abortion and choose life. He tells van Maren that he arrives between 7:30am and 8:00am in the morning. Among other things, he hands out brochures, prays, sings hymns, and sidewalk counsels women arriving at the clinic. “The main thing is to let them know that you love them and that you're there for them,” he says.

Barros’ church supports what he does and extends a helping hand to the women he helps turn away from abortion. “I don't believe that God is going to have someone choose life and then not have a way of escape from the situation.” He tells van Maren that he’s received texts messages from the women he’s helped choose life. They send him photos of the children he’s saved.

Barros was once invited inside the clinic to share in a Thanksgiving dinner with the staff. At the dinner, he warned the abortionist and the workers about the “sin” they are committing. Half the clinic staff quit their jobs as a result.

The Van Maren Show is hosted on numerous platforms, including Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube, iTunes and Google Play.

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

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

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Pope Francis: No clear evidence ‘up to now’ for allowing women deacons

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By Diane Montagna

ROME, May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis has said there is no historical evidence to prove that a female equivalent of the ordained male diaconate ever existed in the Catholic Church.

The news comes just days before the Pope is scheduled to meet with the International Union of Superiors General, who three years ago petitioned him to appoint a commission to study the question of women deacons. It also confirms LifeSite’s report in March on the findings of that commission.

During an inflight press conference on his return from a May 5-7 apostolic visit to Bulgaria and Macedonia on Tuesday, the Pope was asked what he had learned from the commission’s report and if he had come to any decisions.

The Pope said the commission he appointed two years ago to study the role of women in the early Church did not reach an agreement on the question of female deacons.  

“They were all different, all toads from different wells,” he quipped. “Everyone thought differently, but they worked together, and they agreed up to a certain point. But then each of them has his/her own vision which isn’t in agreement with the others. And they stopped there as a commission, and each one is studying on his/her own to go forward.”

The Pope said one of the most disputed points is whether deaconesses in the early Church can be understood “with the same vision” as the ordained male diaconate.

He said that, according to the commission, “the formulae of ordination for the [female] diaconate found until now are not the same as for the male diaconate and are more similar to what today would be the abbatial blessing of an abbess.” 

“There were deaconesses in the beginning,” he said, but the question is whether “it was a sacramental ordination or not.” Expounding on the commission’s findings, he said:

They helped, for example, in the liturgy of baptism, which was by immersion. When they baptized a woman the deaconess assisted. They also assisted for the anointing of the woman’s body. Then a document came out that showed the deaconess was called by the bishop when there was a marital dispute, for the dissolution of the marriage or the divorce or separation. When the woman accused her husband of having hit her, the deaconesses were sent by the bishop to look at her body for bruises, and so they testified for judgment.

“What is fundamental,” the Pope explained, “is that there is no certainty that there was ordination with the same form and finality as male ordination.” He added that some of the commission members continue to dispute this. 

“Let us go forward. I am not afraid of study, but up to now it’s hasn’t been shown.”

Pope Francis also noted how “curious” it is “that, where there were deaconesses, it was always in a particular geographical region – especially Syria — and then in other regions not so much, or not at all.”

“I received all these things from the commission,” he said. “They did a good work, because they arrived at a certain point in common, and this can serve as the impetus for go forward to study and give a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer according to the characteristics of the age.” 

The Pope then pointed out something he found particularly interesting. “No one talks about it, but some theologians a few years ago, thirty years ago, said there were no deaconesses because women were second class in the Church — and not only in the Church. But it’s interesting, at that time there were a lot of pagan priestesses. The female priesthood in the pagan cults was the order of the day.”

“How do we understand that there was this pagan female priesthood — priesthood — and you didn’t see it in Christianity. This is also being studied,” he said. 

The Pope concluded his inflight comments on the question of women deacons, saying “each member is studying according to his or her own thesis. This is good. Varietas dilectat! — Variety is the spice of life.”

Check back with LifeSite in coming days for coverage of Pope Francis’s address to the International Union of Superiors General.

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Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York at the November 2017 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews
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Buffalo diocese denies ‘crackdown’ on seminarians who reported priests’ lewd talk

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By Lisa Bourne

Learn more about Bishop Malone’s views and past actions by visiting FaithfulShepherds.com. Click here.

Readers are cautioned for sexual content in news reports linked below in LifeSiteNews’s report and for the documents contained within the linked reports.

May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Diocese of Buffalo and Christ the King Seminary are unequivocally denying a report that the seminary is conducting a leak investigation into seminarians who spoke up about diocesan priests having vulgar conversations at a party held at a parish rectory last month.

Local ABC affiliate WKBW reported Friday that seminary officials were interrogating the seminarians in the course of investigating how the memo containing what they’d reported to seminary officials about the conversations was leaked.

The station had first reported on the memo Monday of last week, including news of three priests being suspended over what the seminarians had reported was vulgar and “pornographic” talk at an April 11 party at Saints Peter & Paul Parish’s rectory in Hamburg in the Buffalo diocese. The story was updated to add that two other priests were reprimanded later for not doing more to stop the inappropriate conversation at the party.

WKBW’s subsequent report on Friday said seminary officials, who were reeling from the fallout after news of the party broke, were conducting a full-scale leak investigation involving interrogations of the same seminarians and that the intent of the crackdown was to find out who provided documents to the news station.

The station said its information on the seminary’s leak investigation was based upon multiple sources speaking anonymously for fear of retribution from the seminary and the diocese.

However, both the diocese and the seminary deny that any leak investigation is occurring. 

“There was not, and is not now, any leak investigation at the seminary,” Father John Staak, interim president-rector for Christ the King Seminary, told LifeSiteNews.

“There is no leak investigation at the seminary to find out who spoke with WKBW,” Staak said. “Our primary mission is the education of our students and the formation of our future priests, deacons, and pastoral ministers.” 

“We encourage seminarians to come forward in the knowledge that their identities will be safeguarded to the best of our ability,” he added. “We are, in fact, pleased the seminarians stepped forward to voice their concerns to seminary officials regarding this incident. We would hope they continue to do so to help the healing process.”

The Diocese of Buffalo’s communications director, Kathy Spangler, affirmed Staak’s response and also provided the response that Michael Sherry, academic dean for the seminary, had given the news station late in the day Friday.

“There is no leak investigation,” Spangler stated to LifeSiteNews. 

WKBW received Sherry’s response after its article published Friday, and Sherry had requested that the station update the story to reflect his statement, now part of the report and printed below:

On behalf of myself and the seminary, I unequivocally deny that I have initiated or otherwise been directed to conduct a “leak investigation,” as you put it. Nor is there some kind of crack down that has or will take place. In point of fact we have from the beginning encouraged seminarians to come forward in the knowledge that their identities would be safeguarded to the best of our ability. Any conversation with a seminarian who was previously interviewed was at the request of those seminarians inquiring and expressing their great concern as to how the compiled notes came to be released to the media. Their concern represents both a confidentiality issue — which we have taken great pains to protect — and a security issue for those seminarians. A failure to maintain their confidentiality and their security would represent a dereliction of duty on our part.

The station’s report maintains that a leak investigation and crackdown are in progress.

Both documents reported on by WKBW recount what the seminarians reported took place at the party. The latter document was more comprehensive, showing that five seminarians, of 14 total attending the party, came forward, and also that five priests, the three temporarily removed from ministry and the two later reprimanded, attended the party.

There is also mention in the latter document of a priest — it is not stated whether he is one of the five priests present — pursuing one of the seminarians romantically. The notes in the report say details related to this are not included because they are not related to the matter at hand.

The documents recount crude and graphic language and humor in the conversation at the party; belittling of others; varying stories and comments about sexual activity told at the party related to a parishioner, seminary priests, and one of the seminarian’s parents; and an account of one priest likening receiving Communion to a vile sex act.

The three diocesan priests put on leave had not spoken to the media. They are Father Arthur Mattulke, pastor of Saints Peter & Paul in Hamburg and the spiritual director for Christ the King seminarians; Father Patrick O'Keefe, parochial vicar for Saints Peter & Paul; and Father Robert Orlowski, pastor of Our Mother of Good Counsel in Blasdell.

However, the two reprimanded later for not taking action to stop the party conversation, Father Bryan Zielenieski and Father Cole Webster, said they had not been treated fairly by the diocese and weren’t given the chance to tell their side of what happened. They did speak with WKBW.

The report on the inappropriate behavior at the rectory party follows controversy in the last several months related to past handling of clergy abuse cases by Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone, who maintains he has acted in good faith in dealing with the cases.

It follows as well the recognition of clerical abuse of seminarians finally brought to light by the public accusations of abuse leveraged against disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick beginning last summer.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider
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Bp. Schneider: Pope must formally correct statement that God wills false religions

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By Maike Hickson

May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In a new interview, Bishop Athanasius Schneider makes it clear that the pope’s private correction of his official Abu Dhabi statement — according to which the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God” — that Bishop Schneider himself was able to receive from Pope Francis on March 1 is not sufficient. The Abu Dhabi statement “is still valid,” and thus, says Schneider, “there is being proclaimed a new Gospel, a Gospel that is not the one taught by the Incarnate Word of God, that was loyally preached by the Apostles and passed on to the Church.”

“There can be no doubt,” Schneider explains, “that Saint Paul would say today, concerning this controversial formulation in the Abu Dhabi statement: ‘But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema’ (Galatians 1:8–9).”

Pope Francis signed the controversial “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” with Grand Imam Ahmad el-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi on February 4, 2019.

“Up to now, neither the pope, nor an office of the Holy See speaking in his name, have made a public correction with direct reference to the dubious passage concerning the ‘diversity of religions’” in the Abu Dhabi statement, Bishop Schneider explains in an interview with Gloria.tv. “Therefore,” he concludes, “the formulation concerning the diversity of religions is still valid.”

In the interview, Bishop Schneider goes over in detail the different developments concerning his discussion with Pope Francis about this Abu Dhabi statement.

He insists that the correction given to him by the pope during an audience on March 1 has only a “private character,” and he explains that he gave the pope on the same day a letter asking him to “rescind” the formulation on the “diversity of religions.” Pope Francis, on March 5, answered Bishop Schneider in a letter, saying that in the Abu Dhabi document, the expression “is willed by God”
 means the “permissive will of God.”

“I then wrote, on 25 March, yet another personal letter,” explains Schneider. In this letter, he asked the pope if he may repeat “publicly for the whole Church” what the pope had said and written to Schneider in private. Schneider asked him to do so “because of the confusion in the Church that is growing daily concerning the truth that the Faith in Jesus Christ as the only Redeemer of mankind is the only religion directly and positively willed by God.” (One wonders how Grand Imam Ahmad el-Tayeb would respond to such a possible correction of the Abu Dhabi Statement.)

Asked about the fact that Pope Francis, during the general audience on April 3, explicitly spoke about the “permissive will of God”  with regard to the diversity of religions, and whether the pope thereby did not thus “remove the problem,” Bishop Schneider says: “With this formulation, Pope Francis does not make a direct reference to the much-discussed passage of the Abu Dhabi statement.” Additionally, the prelate states, there is no express teaching mentioned that the Faith of Jesus Christ “is the only religion positively willed by God.” Bishop Schneider mentions that Pope Francis did send to him personally a copy of that March 3 statement during the general audience. But he continues, saying that while this March 3 statement may be a “small step forward,” it is still the case that “the statement that is incorrect in itself and as it is to be found in the Abu Dhabi document continues to stand without a clear and authentic correction within the Church” and that “it even is being further spread with its objectively erroneous formulation.”

“Thereby,” Bishop Schneider states, “the truth about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Redeemer of Mankind and, subsequently, the Faith in Him as the only religion willed by God is being relativized. This way, the danger grows increasingly that the essence of the whole Gospel and, with it, of the depositum fidei [deposit of the Faith] is being denied.”

In the face of a growing relativization of the  “uniqueness of Our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ,” explains the prelate, it is even more important now that the “whole Church and, in the first place, Pope Francis” openly speak about this matter. “The document of Abu Dhabi was, however, not helpful with regard to the main mission of the Church.”

He also points out that the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sent a February 21, 2019 letter “to all the Church’s universities” with the explicit request that they help spread, on all levels, the principles contained in the Abu Dhabi document. That letter then also quotes the controversial passage on the diversity of religions. (LifeSiteNews reported on this letter here.)

Speaking about the consequences of the further spreading of the uncorrected Abu Dhabi document, Bishop Schneider points out that it will further “relativize the uniqueness of Our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ, and with it also the essence of the Gospel and of Divine Revelation.”

In his last sentences, Bishop Schneider expresses his “burning desire” that daily “more and more voices among bishops, priests, and faithful will come who ask respectfully and lovingly from the pope that he unambiguously correct the statement in the Abu Dhabi document.”

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Pope Francis tells Swiss Guards: ‘Religious diversity’ is ‘human wealth’

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

VATICAN CITY, May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Pope Francis extolled the fact that not all people yet believe in Christ in a recent speech he gave to the Swiss Guards.

On Saturday, May 4, the pontiff told the elite force who serve as his bodyguards that life in the barracks would prepare them for life in the wider, rapidly changing society outside.

“Above all you have the opportunity to create healthy friendship and train yourselves to respect the peculiarities and the idea of others, learning to recognize in the other a brother and a companion with whom to share serenely a stretch of the road,” he said in Italian.

“This will help you to live in society with the right attitude, recognizing cultural, religious, and social diversity as human wealth and not as a threat. This is particularly important in a world where there are, as never before, large movements of populations and people searching for security and a dignified life.”

Pope Francis’s endorsement of religious plurality follows his February signing of a controversial statement called the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” which states that a “pluralism and diversity” of religious is “willed by God.” 

The document was also signed by Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque, during an interreligious meeting in Abu Dhabi on February 4. The event was part of Pope Francis’s three-day apostolic visit to the United Arab Emirates, a journey meant to promote interreligious dialogue and support the country’s estimated 1 million–strong Catholic minority.

The most obviously controversial passage of the document reads:

Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept.

The idea that “God not only permits, but positively wills, the pluralism and diversity of religions, both Christian and non-Christian” was presented as one of Pope Francis’s heresies by the authors of the April 30 “Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church.” The authors cited the “Document on Human Fraternity” in their letter.

In February, a Dominican theologian, who wished to remain anonymous, told LifeSiteNews that the controversial passage “in its obvious sense is false, and in fact heretical.”

“The various religions say incompatible things about who God is and how He wants to be worshipped. Therefore they cannot all be true. Therefore God, who is truth, cannot will all religions,” he stated.

Responding to those who defended the pope’s statement by invoking God’s “permissive will,” the Dominican theologian said:

God permits non-Catholic religions to exist; but permitting something is not a way of willing it, it is a way of not willing to prevent it. Thus God permits many innocent people to be killed, but He does not will it. We would not talk about God’s permissive will for Jews to be gassed, for example.

Life in the barracks of the Swiss Guards is not religiously, culturally, or socially diverse. According to the Roman Curia, membership in the Swiss Guards is limited to a very specific kind of person. Even today, Swiss Guards are chosen from unmarried Swiss Catholic men aged between 19 and 30 who are over 174 cm (5’8.5”) tall.

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Campaign Life Coalition
Josie Luetke

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We all have a duty to protect the innocent. March for life tomorrow!

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By Josie Luetke

May 8, 2019 (Campaign Life Coalition) — When abortion was decriminalized in Canada in 1969 thanks to Pierre Elliott Trudeau's omnibus bill, it had already been well-established that human life begins at fertilization. However, the debate about liberalizing abortion coincided with the debate about permitting contraception. Perhaps those less apprised on these issues could have confused abortion as not at all different from contraception, especially as the use of ultrasounds was not yet widespread. Perhaps, also, supporters of the omnibus bill, Bill C-150, could have claimed that they naively believed that abortion would only be permitted when a woman's health, strictly defined, was actually endangered — that abortion wouldn't become the free-for-all it is today. These are weak excuses, but they are nonetheless excuses.

No excuse exists today.

Technology has provided us an even clearer window into the womb than ever before. The science of embryology — in whatever level of detail you desire — is just a click away. And we have been without any law on abortion whatsoever for 31 years now. Shortly after the law was struck down in 1988, Canada started averaging 100,000 abortions/year.

If people are ignorant about when a new human being is created or about the impact the decriminalization of abortion has had, they are willfully so.

By your reading this, you know of both the humanity of the preborn and the inhumanity of abortion, and that knowledge obliges you to act.

Why do we march? We march because it's one way for us to carry out this duty that is imposed on each and every one of us to protest against injustice whenever and wherever it occurs, to speak out for those whose voices have been stripped from them. We march because rallying on Parliament Hill and walking shoulder to shoulder with others who love life through the streets of our nation's capital rejuvenates us so we can continue to carry out our duty to the preborn when we return back to our local communities. We march because we have no excuses. The second greatest commandment — to love your neighbour as yourself — demands that we care about the children whom someone deemed unworthy of life, about the parents left fractured, about a society rendered cold. It demands that this care envelop us totally.  

None of us is exempt from this obligation. We are ALL called to the pro-life movement.

So join us as we march tomorrow. 

Published with permission from the Campaign Life Coalition.

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Dr. Edward Feser

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The right and the not so right in the open letter accusing Pope Francis of heresy

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May 8, 2019 (Edward Feser) — What should we think of the recent open letter accusing Pope Francis of heresy, signed by Fr. Aidan Nichols, Prof. John Rist, and other priests and academics (and for which Prof. Josef Seifert has now expressed his support)? Like others who have commented on it, I think the letter overstates things in its main charge and makes some bad arguments, but that it also makes many correct and important points that cannot reasonably be dismissed merely because the letter is seriously deficient in other respects. 

As to the main charge, it is true that a pope can fall into doctrinal error, even material heresy, when not speaking ex cathedra. However, whether and how a pope can be charged with formal heresy, and what the consequences would be if he were guilty of it, are simply much less clear-cut canonically and theologically than the letter implies. Some of the Church's greatest theologians have speculated about the matter, and while there are serious arguments for various possible positions, there is no theological consensus and no magisterial teaching which resolves the issue. Moreover, a pope falling into formal heresy would be about as grave a crisis for the Church as can be imagined. So, maximum caution is called for before making such a charge, and in my opinion it is simply rash flatly to accuse the pope of "the canonical delict of heresy," as the letter does.

Some of the arguments deployed are also ill-advised, to say the least. For example, it was foolish to appeal to the allegedly sinister shape of the staff that the pope used in a particular mass as evidence of heretical intent. To be sure, the open letter does not make much of this, but it is a bad argument, and the letter's critics have understandably pounced on it.

I would guess that these serious problems with the letter are one reason that it did not gather more signatures, though it is certainly significant that it attracted signatories as formidable as Nichols and Rist. (This is not meant in any way as a slight against the other signatories, some of whom are also formidable scholars. But most of them have signed several other public statements critical of Pope Francis, so the fact that they signed this one is less noteworthy than the fact that Nichols and Rist signed it.) 

Another reason, I suspect, is that by now it seems that there is little point to further public letters and petitions critical of Pope Francis, when several others have already been issued and simply ignored by the pope, the cardinals, and the bishops. (I signed one of them myself.) I realize that the signatories to this latest open letter do not suppose they are likely to move the bishops to action, but merely want to get into the historical record a summary of the problems with some of Pope Francis's words and actions and the fact that there were faithful Catholic scholars who criticized them. But there is a point to doing even that much only if the letter adds something new and significant to the previous letters and petitions, and the main thing this one adds is a charge that is, as I say, rashly made. 

Having said all that, it simply will not do for critics of the letter to point to its deficiencies and then roll over and go back to sleep. The letter, however problematic, is a response to statements and actions of the pope that are also seriously problematic. And if its rashness reflects a kind of exasperation on the part of the signatories, it cannot reasonably be denied that the pope can indeed be exasperating. 

For example, Pope Francis has made many statements that at least seem to contradict traditional Catholic teaching on divorce and remarriage, conscience, grace, the diversity of religionscontraception, capital punishment, and a variety of other topics. The open letter is right about that. Indeed, at least where the number of problematic statements from Pope Francis is concerned, the open letter actually understates the case, because it does not address the pope's remarks about contraception, capital punishment, or certain other issues. The sheer volume of these problematic statements is alarming in itself, whatever one thinks of any one of them considered in isolation. You can find previous popes who have made a theologically problematic statement here or there. You cannot find a previous pope who has made so many theologically problematic statements. 

It is true that the pope's defenders have come up with ways to read some of these statements so as to reconcile them with traditional doctrine. But there are two general problems with such attempts, even apart from the fact that not all of the proposed readings are terribly plausible.

First, and as I have pointed out before, when defending the doctrinal soundness of a statement, it does not suffice to come up with some strained or unnatural interpretation that avoids strict heresy. That is a much lower standard than the Church herself has applied historically, and would rule out very little. 

To take an example I have used in the past, even the statement "God does not exist" could be given an orthodox interpretation if you strain hard enough. You could say: "What I mean when I say that is that God does not 'exist' in the sense of merely having or participating in existence, the way other things do. Rather, he just is Subsistent Being Itself and the source of the existence of other things." The trouble is that the average person would not understand such a high falutin' interpretation even if it occurred to him. The average person would naturally hear the statement in question as an expression of atheism. He would be especially likely to do so if the statement was addressed to a mass audience rather than to an audience of academics, and if the person who made the statement did not himself clarify things by explicitly giving a non-atheistic interpretation. 

A theological statement — especially when made by a churchman to a mass audience — should be clearly orthodox on a natural reading, not merely arguably orthodox on some creative reading. This is why the Church has traditionally held that being strictly heretical is only one of several ways that a statement can be doctrinally objectionable. Even a statement that is not explicitly heretical might still be erroneous, or proximate to heresy, or rash, or ambiguous, or "offensive to pious ears," or subject to one of the other theological censures with which the Church has in the past condemned various theological opinions. 

Where the question of problematic papal statements is concerned, we might consider the cases of Pope Honorius I and Pope John XXII, who are frequently cited as the two clearest examples of popes who arguably were guilty of heresy. Their defenders have argued that the precise wording of the statements that got them into trouble could be construed as strictly heretical only in light of later dogmatic definitions, rather than in light of definitions already on the books in their day. Even if that is the case, however, the fact remains that John XXII, who had denied that the blessed in heaven immediately enjoy the beatific vision after death, recanted this error in the face of vigorous criticism from the theologians of his day. The fact remains that Honorius was condemned by two later popes for his statements, which at least gave aid and comfort to the Monothelite heresy. Pope St. Leo II declared:

We anathematize ... Honorius, who did not attempt to sanctify this Apostolic Church with the teaching of Apostolic tradition, but by profane treachery permitted its purity to be polluted.

and:

Honorius ... did not, as became the Apostolic authority, extinguish the flame of heretical teaching in its first beginning, but fostered it by his negligence.

So, whether or not Honorius and John XXII were guilty of strict heresy, they were undeniably guilty of making statements that fell under one or more of the lesser theological censures cited above. Similarly, even if Pope Francis's problematic statements can be given readings that avoid strict heresy, it doesn't follow that they can avoid falling under one or more of the lesser theological censures.

The second problem with the proposed explanations of Pope Francis's remarks is that it is the pope himself, and not his defenders, who should be providing them, and he has persistently refused to do so. The open letter is right to complain about this. For one thing, upholding traditional teaching and resolving doctrinal disputes is the main job of a pope. Hence, that he has still not responded to the now famous dubia (to take just one example) is indefensible. He has in this regard clearly failed to do his duty, and it is intellectually dishonest for his defenders to pretend otherwise. Had the pope simply reaffirmed traditional teaching in response to these straightforward and respectfully presented questions from several of his cardinals, the main doctrinal controversy that has roiled his pontificate would have been swiftly resolved. 

For another thing, what a person fails to say, and how he acts, can "send a message" no less than what he does explicitly say. The open letter is also right to emphasize that. Suppose, to return to my example, that I not only publicly stated "God does not exist," but also refused to say one way or the other whether I myself endorsed the non-atheistic interpretation of this utterance proposed by some of my defenders on my behalf. Suppose also that I frequently praised atheist thinkers like Nietzsche, Marx, Sartre, et al. and frequently criticized theistic religions and thinkers. But suppose too that, for all that, I still denied that I was an atheist. People would naturally be confused, and many would suspect that I was simply engaging in double-talk — that I really was an atheist but didn't want to be entirely frank about it.

Similarly, when the pope not only makes theologically ambiguous statements about divorce and remarriage, conscience, etc., but refuses to clarify those statements, and promotes and praises people with a reputation for departing from traditional teaching in these areas while criticizing and sidelining people with a reputation for upholding traditional teaching, it is hardly surprising if many people worry — whether correctly or not — that he does not agree with traditional teaching but doesn't want to say so directly. 

Suppose that the open letter had alleged, not that the pope is guilty of the canonical delict of heresy, but rather that the pope's words and actions have, even if inadvertently, encouraged doctrinal error, or perhaps that the pope has been negligent in his duty to uphold sound doctrine. It would be much harder to defend the pope against these milder charges, as the evidence adduced in the open letter clearly shows. These milder charges also would not raise the question of the loss of the papal office, with all of its unresolved canonical and theological difficulties and horrific practical implications. And it would also (unlike the prospect of a formally heretical pope) have clear precedents in the cases of Honorius and John XXII.

The Church famously teaches that the salvation of souls is the supreme law. She does not teach that defending the pope at all costs is the supreme law. Some of the pope's defenders seem not to know the difference. But as the precedents of St. Paul's rebuke of St. Peter, the condemnation of Pope Honorius, and the 14th-century theologians' criticism of Pope John XXII all show — and as the Church herself has always acknowledged — it can happen, albeit very rarely, that what the salvation of souls requires is precisely the correction rather than defense of a pope. The open letter is right about that too. However, such correction must be carried out with filial reverence, and with extreme caution.

Published with permission from Dr. Edward Feser.

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Julia Meloni

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Is Amoris Laetitia really too ambiguous to be evidence of heresy?

Julia Meloni
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May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — It is often said that Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia speaks too ambiguously to be guilty of anything more than emitting a haze of confusion. But Pope Francis has weaponized not ambiguity, but indirectness to achieve subversion and trap conservatives, according to essays and interviews from various signers of the open letter accusing him of heresy. These razor-sharp interventions articulate some painful truths about the fierceness of Pope Francis’s allegiance to “revolution by stealth” — and the weakness of much conservative reaction to it.  

“Many good theologians still argue that Francis’s texts, although very problematic, cannot be convicted of heresy because they are too ambiguous,” says Claudio Pierantoni, a drafter of the open letter. “I challenge this claim: in fact, I maintain that Francis’s texts, in particular those contained in Amoris Laetitia chapter VIII, are tortuous and meandering, but their aim is clear.”

For instance, his fellow signatory Anna Silvas explains that Amoris Laetitia’s footnote 329 hijacks Gaudium et Spes 51’s treatment of temporary marital continence — and then “outrageously transposes” it to adulterers, “as an argument that they should not have to live as brother and sister.” Silvas says the pope’s intent is crystal clear: his text willfully misrepresents the passage from John Paul II preceding the footnote and engages in “a bare-faced lie about the meaning of G&S 51.”  

According to the signatories, then, Amoris Laetitia circuitously but clearly professes heresy upon a natural, untwisted reading. Shortly after the text’s release, some of them signed a critique from 45 theologians documenting those reported heresies — a copy of which was sent to every member of the Sacred College of Cardinals.  

“The main heresy resides precisely in the doctrine — today called ‘situation ethics’ — which denies that there are acts that by their very nature are intrinsically evil, and therefore cannot in any case be considered lawful,” says Pierantoni. Borrowing a metaphor from Josef Seifert, Pierantoni says Amoris Laetitia smuggles in an “atomic bomb” set to explode our whole moral edifice, making not just adultery, but abortion, murder, and homosexual activity lawful in some cases. 

At the same time, according to signatory John Lamont, Pope Francis strategically initially allowed Amoris Laetitia’s defenders to try to force an orthodox meaning via some strong contorting. According to Lamont:

By initially permitting this latitude of understanding, Pope Francis ensured that Catholics who rejected the heresy in question would nonetheless rally to the defense of the document, out of blind loyalty to the papacy, timidity, careerism, or a simple feeling of obligation to give the Roman Pontiff every benefit of the doubt.  These defenders of Amoris Laetitia were very effective in confusing the issue and leading Catholics to think that the document was acceptable and was being unjustly attacked.

Then Pope Francis shut down hermeneutical debate by endorsing Buenos Aires guidelines spelling out that adulterers could receive Communion under Amoris Laetitia — and he directly ruled out “other interpretations.” The pope elevated this endorsement into an act of his “authentic magisterium” via a statement in the Acta Apostolica Sedis (AAS). 

That AAS statement could be a smoking gun: as the open letter explains, it “states with magisterial authority that the Buenos Aires bishops’ understanding of what Pope Francis meant to say in Amoris Laetitia is correct.” Endorsing Communion for adulterers, however, entails belief in three different heresies — or else denies the dogma of the indissolubility of marriage, according to the open letter.     

Here again, though, Pope Francis brilliantly deployed circuitousness, writing a letter referring to guidelines that then refer to Amoris Laetitia. Lamont says that such obliquity “avoids embarrassing” Amoris Laetitia’s defenders, and “indeed enables many of them to continue their defense.” The AAS statement’s meaning “does not have to be confronted unless one follows a chain of reasoning about it.” To this day, it’s still claimed that Amoris Laetitia can be read in “continuity” with Church teaching — as if a kind of polite amnesia about the AAS statement can just will it away.

Lamont says Pope Francis’s artful indirection blunts the opposition of even those conservatives who recognize Amoris Laetitia’s heresies. The pope knows that many of them are too disinclined or afraid to oppose his program — and a brasher statement of heresy “might back such persons against the wall and embarrass them into contradicting it.”

Meanwhile, Pope Francis proceeds with his cultural Marxist–inspired “revolution by stealth,” according to Silvas. It is a sly, slow, region-by-region revolution, whereby more and more bishops use the text to admit adulterers to the Eucharist — “until the praxis is sufficiently built up over time to a point of no return.” 

The endgame, Silvas says, is all-out sacrilege and sin: 

Make no mistake, the endgame is a more or less indifferent permission for any who present for Holy Communion. And so we attain the longed for haven of all-inclusiveness and ‘mercy’: the terminal trivialization of the Eucharist, of sin and repentance, of the sacrament of Matrimony, of any belief in objective and transcendent truth, the evisceration of language, and of any stance of compunction before the living God, the God of Holiness and Truth.

As Silvas points out, then-Archbishop Bergoglio already had a “known practice in his archdiocese of tacitly admitting to Holy Communion all comers, the cohabiting, as well as the divorced and civilly remarried.” It is a “tragedy,” she says, that today’s “naïve papalism” cannot perceive when the faith is “under most dangerous attack, even from that most lofty quarter” of the papacy.

According to the open letter, “Catholics will hardly believe that the pope is attacking the faith unless this be said expressly; and hence, merely abstract denunciations risk providing a cover for Pope Francis to advance and to achieve his goal.” Its plea to investigate grave, meticulously documented allegations of heresy is thus a plea to cut through the smokescreen that allows Pope Francis to creep forward with his revolution.

Yet, given Francis’s skill in weaponizing indirection, it’s unsurprising that many conservative attacks on the open letter still sincerely believe the old bromide that Amoris Laetitia can be read in an orthodox way. It’s unsurprising that others still hope for “clarity” even when the AAS statement clearly tries to bully the faithful into professing heresy.

“It is not a rational refutation of our position (which has not been given) but only a psychological fear of the terrible consequences of admitting papal heresy that prevents many good theologians from facing the hard truth,” argues Pierantoni.    

Ultimately, no magic wand of wishful thinking can make the AAS statement on Amoris Laetitia’s heretical meaning just disappear; it is a juggernaut that will raze every last barrier to blithe sacrilege and sin.  The grave issues raised by the open letter must be confronted head on, however uncomfortable, disorienting, and frightening that process may be.

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German bishops’ vice president expects Amazon synod to propose married priests ‘with civil job’

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By Maike Hickson

May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, the Vice-President of the German Bishops, states in a new interview that he can “very well imagine that there are also priests with family and [civil] job, similar to our deacons, some of whom are married and have a job.” This model of married “priests with a civil job,” he predicts, will “probably be presented to the Pope by the Latin American bishops at the Amazon Synod in October.”

Speaking with the regional newspaper Osnabrücker Zeitung, Bishop Bode makes it clear that he is in favor of “rethinking the link between celibacy and the priesthood.”

“Priests with a civil job” could “celebrate the Eucharist” and also provide “the corresponding priestly services,” he says.

In Bishop Bode's view, this model will “probably be presented to the Pope by the Latin American bishops at the Amazon Synod in October.” He explains that “the high and proper estimation of celibacy shall always be preserved, but it should be enriched by other priestly forms of life.” In that same interview, the German bishop also speaks in favor of female deacons “as a sign of recognition, esteem, and change of status of women in the Church who are today in large numbers active in charitable fields and in the field of the diaconate.”

Bishop Bode's idea of a sort of part-time priest who is married and has a full-time civil job similar to a deacon is an idea that may be found in the writings of Bishop Fritz Lobinger of Aliwal, South Africa. Lobinger has written several books in which he calls for a new community-based priestly leadership that consists of a “team of elders” who all have their ordinary jobs and families and who together run a parish and celebrate Holy Mass and administer the Sacraments. He thinks that women should be able to become priests, as well.

The problem with this model is that these “priests with a civil job” have very little time to receive a thorough theological formation. Lobinger thinks that the priestly formation could take place during the weekends and intermittently during a one-week seminar or so.

The result could be a sort of a priest with an attenuated theological formation.

Pope Francis, not long ago, publicly praised the work of Bishop Lobinger and his model of married priests who are not the same as the traditional priests who are celibate.

Bishop Bode is now the second German bishop who points to the Amazon Synod as the moment where the Church will open herself, most probably, to some fundamental changes.

Significant here is that Bishop Erwin Kräutler – a proponent of married male and female priests – is the author of the working document for the upcoming October 2019 Amazon Synod.

Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen just made a similar statement, calling for a new “image of priest” in light of the fact that, in the Amazon region, there are often women religious who are influential in the local parishes. “The face of the local church is female,” explained Overbeck, who is himself the head of the German bishops' own Latin America commission, which provides financial and pastoral support to Latin America.

Overbeck also recently called for a discussion of celibacy, especially in light of the current clerical sex abuse crisis.

He now claims that the Amazon Synod will lead the Catholic Church to a “point of no return” and that, thereafter, “nothing will be the same as as it was.”

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Prince Harry throws royal charity’s support behind transgender activist group

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By Jonathon Van Maren

May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Nowhere has the transgender ideology taken root more swiftly and more firmly than the United Kingdom. Rates of children identifying as transgender are up by 4,000%, triggering a government investigation into why these numbers are spiking so dramatically. Ordinary Brits expressing the belief that biological males and biological females cannot become the opposite sex are actually getting visits from the police and, in some cases, have even been arrested for expressing those views. Police officers are even getting trained by transgender activists in order to better police the “thinking” of British citizens (and no, I’m not making that up).

And now, the United Kingdom’s most prominent transgender lobby group, which bills itself as a “charity” for “gender variant and transgender children,” has attracted the attention of a very high-profile sponsor: Prince Harry. Mermaids — the organization is named for the mythical half-human, half-fish creatures who are sexless from the waist down — has “thrown his weight behind the cause of transgender children” with the announcement that the Royal Foundation will be working with the charity, according to the Daily Mail. The Royal Foundation functions as the “primary philanthropic and charitable vehicle” for the Duke of Sussex, his wife Meghan Markle, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who have not yet commented on the announcement.

Prince Harry, who recently had his first baby, met for a roundtable discussion some time ago with the CEO of the transgender advocacy group along with a number of other organizations at the Ealing YMCA. This perceived royal endorsement — and again, Prince William and Princess Kate presumably agree with the Royal Foundation’s support of Mermaids — was greeted with great glee by trans activists, who believe that Prince Harry’s public stance will assist them in further mainstreaming their cause. Mermaids, which was founded in Leeds in 1995, is a particularly controversial group due to the fact that it advocates for children to be granted easier and swifter access to puberty-blockers and medical “transition” (including mastectomies and castration).

In fact, Mermaids director Susie Green, a former I.T. consultant, took her own son to Thailand at the age of 16 for “genital surgery” — physical castration. Green told the Telegraph that Prince Harry’s support for the transgender cause is particularly gratifying because “I think it’s always really important to young people to see that people with the authority and credibility that Prince Harry has are supporting them and are listening and acknowledging the fact that they exist. This is somebody who has got that profile who’s showing clear understanding of the issues they’re facing.” Green went so far as to say that Harry’s public endorsement of a medically dubious cause involving children making irreversible decisions was similar to Princess Diana’s advocacy on behalf of AIDS victims.

Unless there is some disagreement between Prince Harry and Prince William that we are unaware of, it would seem that Queen Elizabeth II is the last socially conservative monarch of the House of Windsor. Prince Charles, next in line for the throne, is famous for his kooky ideas. William has indicated his support for groups that advocate for population control. Harry, who until recently was primarily known as the party prince, has lately been in the headlines for marrying progressive celebrity Meghan Markle, a well-known supporter of LGBT causes who caused a tempest in a teapot for breaking royal protocol and expressing her pleasure at the result of Ireland’s abortion referendum last year. The queen stays serenely above all of this, but she is surely aware of her progeny’s progressive bent.

Prince Harry’s endorsement, which may well have been inspired by his new wife’s activist leanings, takes the House of Windsor far beyond their traditional neutrality on social matters. Transgenderism is a dangerous ideology that is moving like wildfire through schools in the United Kingdom, primarily among young girls. The effects of the so-called treatments advocated by organizations like Mermaids are permanent, and children who transition at a young age will live with the scars of that mutilation even if they change their minds later on — and many of them will. The sons of Princess Diana have proven enormously popular with the British people, and it is for that reason that this new partnership between the Royal Foundation and Mermaids is so dangerous.

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What the Old Testament’s Jacob and Esau tell us about the Blessed Virgin Mary

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By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

May 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, well known for his masterpiece True Devotion to Mary, offers us much food for thought in his biblical allegories. In particular, he pays close attention to a famous episode in the story of Isaac and Esau, giving it a Mariological reading. Here is the passage from chapter 25 of the Book of Genesis:

Isaac was forty years old when he took to wife Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean. And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. The children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is thus, why do I live?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples, born of you, shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger.” When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. The first came forth red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came forth, and his hand had taken hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob [“He supplants”]. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

When the boys grew up, Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau, because he ate of his game; but Rebekah loved Jacob. Once when Jacob was boiling pottage, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red pottage, for I am famished!” (Therefore his name was called Edom [“red”].) Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Later, through an ingenious arrangement devised by his mother, Jacob instead of Esau the firstborn receives the blind Isaac’s blessing (Gen. 27:1–40).

Obviously, the story on its literal level has enormous historical importance, for Jacob is the third and last of the great founding Patriarchs of Israel, the distant forefathers of Jesus.

In keeping with the multiple levels of meaning found in the Word of God, however, the story can be read also as an allegory. Rebekah is a figure of the Virgin Mary, Jacob of the predestined, Esau of the reprobate. Rebekah foreshadows the woman whose perfect faith will fulfill the promise made to Abraham, Jacob those who will choose the narrow path that leads to life, and Esau those who follow the broad path of destruction.

We are told of Esau that he was a skilful hunter and a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man who dwelt in tents. Esau, who not only spent his days away from his mother and from his home, but even sold his birthright for a bowl of stew, symbolizes the carnal man, the old Adam. Yielding to passion and the life of the senses, he would relinquish a heavenly inheritance to satisfy immediate urges.

Jacob, the peaceful son who remains at home in the tents — the word could also be translated “tabernacles” — symbolizes the spiritual man “hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3), the new creation, the risen Adam (cf. 1 Cor. 15). Jacob’s life exemplifies the first verse of Psalm 62: “For God alone my soul waits in silence,” the refrain in a prayer stressing the importance of waiting, a form of receptivity, and silence, which is spiritual openness. Jacob could cry out with the sons of Korah: “How lovely is thy dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God” (Ps. 84:1–2). Recall that the Ark of the Covenant was reserved in a tent wherever the Israelites erected camp. Jacob, who dwells in the tent of devotion and dutifulness, is likewise a bearer of the covenant, an ark of faith whose example, like that of all the saints, accompanies us in the pilgrimage of this life. Jacob is characterized by complete dependence on and obedience to his mother Rebekah (Gen. 27:5–14), who intercedes for him as our mother Mary intercedes for us, obtaining the blessings of providence for the soul devoted to her.

Shortly after receiving his father’s blessing, Jacob, obedient to his parents, leaves the land, thwarting Esau’s design to kill him (Gen. 27:41–45). We know that Cain murdered Abel because the latter’s sacrifice was more pleasing to the heavenly Father than Cain’s own (Gen. 4:1–16). In like manner, Esau’s “savory food” was rejected by Isaac because Jacob’s food, which had been prepared by Rebekah in the way most pleasing to the father, won for him the blessing first.

Much more could be said about this story, but its importance for us lies chiefly in the contrast between the two sons. Jacob is a man of recollection and service, devoted to his mother and ready to listen to her. He is neither attached to the world nor enslaved to his passions. In short, he prefigures a servant of Mary who enjoys “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21) and strives in all things to imitate and obey his heavenly Mother. In this way the devout servant of Our Lady will overcome the world’s glittering attractions, receive spiritual blessings, and escape safely from this vale of tears. Esau, on the other hand, is “a man of the field,” of diversions that remove him far from the source of blessing, which is his home, the hearth of Isaac. He is driven by gluttony when he sells his birthright for food, resentment when he discovers his brother’s reception of the blessing, and hatred when later on he desires to murder him. Anyone who chooses the broad path of careless pleasure will be like Esau, finding to his sorrow how impoverished his life will be.

Because Esau is the image of self-will and Jacob of obedience, their destinies match their character and fulfill the prophecy made to Rebekah (Gen. 25:23). Isaac blesses the younger — “May God give you of the dew of heaven” — but to the elder he declares: “your dwelling shall be away from the dew of heaven on high” (Gen. 27:39). Isaiah uses the metaphor of rain, and Zechariah the metaphor of dew, to prophesy the coming of the Savior (Is. 45:8; Zech. 8:9–13), and the manna that nourished the Hebrews in their wandering — a symbol of the Holy Eucharist that sustains Christians during their pilgrimage through the desert of life — fell from the sky like dew and covered the earth (Ex. 16:13ff.). Thus, Jacob’s blessing contains the distant promise of redemption and sanctification, whereas Esau’s curse signifies the fate of those who will not submit to the yoke of Christ.

As followers of Christ, we are the symbolic descendents of Jacob, not of Esau. Our baptism compels us not only to heed the heavenly Father, but also to heed the great Mother of God, whom the Father created in His eternal plan to be the mediatrix of grace, sub et cum Christo, subordinate to and in union with Christ the one Mediator between God and man. Just as there is no salvation outside belonging to the Catholic Church, the immaculate Bride of Christ, so there is no communication of divine grace without the intercession of the Virgin Mary, who acts as the channel of God’s gifts. “So full of grace was the Blessed Virgin,” writes St. Thomas Aquinas, “that it overflows [from her] onto all mankind. It is, indeed, a great thing that any one saint has so much grace that it is conducive to the salvation of many; but it is most wondrous to have so much grace as to suffice for the salvation of all mankind.”

We will conform to Jacob’s pattern of faith by cleaving to the holy teaching of the apostles, handed down to us through the perennial Magisterium of the Church, and striving to live by the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. The model of perfect conformity to God’s will — the secure path for attaining the salvation wrought by the Incarnate Word — is, always and everywhere, the Virgin Mary. As a modern author writes:

This mystery of Incarnation has two aspects: the Word on the one hand and its human receptacle on the other; Christ and the Virgin Mother. To be able to realize this mystery in itself, the soul must be like the Virgin; for just as the sun can be reflected in water only when it is calm, so the soul can receive Christ only in virginal purity, in original simplicity, and not in sin, which is turmoil and unbalance.

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