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Prince Harry: I want a ‘maximum’ of 2 kids because of climate change

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By Claire Chretien

July 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Prince Harry and Meghan Markle want only two children “maximum” because of environmentalist concerns, the Duke of Sussex revealed in an interview with Jane Goodall.  

Prince Harry interviewed the primatologist for the September issue of British Vogue, which Markle guest-edited. The issue features Laverne Cox, a gender-confused man, as a “woman of impact.” Markle also interviewed former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama.

Goodall’s and Prince Harry’s conversation shifted from Goodall’s work with animals to concerns about the environment.

“It’s crazy to think we can have unlimited economic development on a planet with finite natural resources,” said Goodall. “There’s a lot of violence and war and suffering around the world today, but we’re part of the natural world, and if we can’t learn to live in harmony with it, then this is going to get worse. There will be more conflicts, people fighting over the last fertile land, the last fresh water.”

“What we need to remind everybody is: these are things that are happening now. We are already living in it,” Prince Harry replied. “We are the frog in the water and it’s already been brought to the boil. Which is terrifying.”

“It is terrifying. Especially as you’ve just had a baby,” remarked Goodall.

Prince Harry began to say he’s “always had a connection and a love for nature.”

“I view it differently now” that he has a child, he said, “without question. But I’ve always wanted to try and ensure that, even before having a child and hoping to have children…” 

“Not too many!” Goodall interjected.

“Two, maximum!” Prince Harry replied. “But I’ve always thought: this place is borrowed. And, surely, being as intelligent as we all are, or as evolved as we all are supposed to be, we should be able to leave something better behind for the next generation.”

The “next generation” in England may face the economic problems that come with a declining birth rate.

“There were 679,106 live births in England and Wales in 2017, a decrease of 2.5% from 2016 and the lowest number of live births since 2006,” the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics reports. “In 2017, the total fertility rate (TFR) declined for the fifth consecutive year to 1.76 children per woman, from 1.81 in 2016.”

In June, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex used their Instagram account to follow 11 pro-LGBT groups in celebration of “Pride Month.”

Prince William and Kate Middleton, whose third child was born last year, are rumored to want more children. Population control activists have urged them not to do so.

Markle has a reputation as a typical Hollywood progressive. According to pro-abortion Irish journalist Una Mulally, the Duchess told her she was pleased that the Emerald Isle voted to legalize abortion on demand. 

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‘Transgender’ athletes have ‘intolerable’ advantage over real women, new study affirms

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By Calvin Freiburger

PETITION: Keep Girls' Sports For Biological Girls ONLY - #IStandWithSelina Sign the petition here.

July 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A new study recently published in the Journal of Medical Ethics reinforced what many claim to be obvious yet LGBT activists intensely deny: that men who “identify” as women enjoy significant physical advantages over actual biological women.

The paper, by New Zealand bioethicists Taryn Knox and Lynley C. Anderson and psychologist Alison Heather, recognizes that “transwomen” retain some performance advantage from male biological characteristics such as high testosterone, and sets out to “determine whether the advantage is unfair.”

“We conclude that the advantage to transwomen afforded by the IOC guidelines is an intolerable unfairness,” the paper’s abstract says.

Previous research found that “healthy young men did not lose significant muscle mass (or power) when their circulating testosterone levels were reduced to (below International Olympic Committee guidelines) for 20 weeks,” the paper says, according to the Daily Caller. Moreover, “indirect effects of testosterone will not be altered by hormone therapy.”

“For example, hormone therapy will not alter bone structure, lung volume or heart size of the transwoman athlete, especially if she transitions postpuberty, so natural advantages, including joint articulation, stroke volume and maximal oxygen uptake, will be maintained,” they explained. 

“Moreover, retention of muscle mass could be compensated for by training or other ergogenic methods,” the researchers noted. “In addition, the phenomenon of muscle memory means muscle mass and strength can be rebuilt with previous strength exercise making it easier to regain muscle mass later in life even after long intervening periods of inactivity and mass loss.”

The conclusions are consistent with those of organizations like USA Powerlifting, which contends that “men naturally have a larger bone structure, higher bone density, stronger connective tissue and higher muscle density than women. These traits, even with reduced levels of testosterone, do not go away. While MTF (male-to-female) may be weaker and less muscle than they once were, the biological benefits given them at birth still remain over than (sic) of a female.”

While the authors’ scientific conclusions fly in the face of LGBT orthodoxy, their social recommendations will likely be more palatable to trans activists. They suggest that “the existing male/female categories in sport should be abandoned in favour of a more nuanced approach satisfying both inclusion and fairness.”

Such an approach is unlikely to resolve the ongoing controversy over gender-confused athletes competing in sports that are typically separated by sex to account for the biological differences between the sexes, or to satisfy prominent female athletes who have spoken out against relaxing the traditional standards.

“A man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires,” tennis legend Martina Navratilova argued in February. “It’s insane and it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.”

In March, Olympic swimming silver medalist Sharron Davies warned that letting “trans men” into women’s categories “has the potential to ruin women’s sport. ... It’s not anything to do with saying sport isn’t for everybody, it’s asking how we classify it.”

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Kellyanne Conway touts Trump as ‘first president to start ... approving of gay marriage’

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By Calvin Freiburger

July 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – As Democrats vying for the White House frame themselves as LGBT “allies” looking to replace a “homophobic” incumbent, recent comments by one of Donald Trump’s top advisers underscore that the 45th president actually agrees with the Left on key aspects of the homosexual agenda.

At the end of May, Kellyanne Conway contrasted her boss’ endorsement of LGBT “Pride Month” with his predecessors’ handling of same-sex “marriage,” telling reporters outside the White House she was “old enough to remember the 2008 campaign where Hillary and Obama were arguing with each other about who was more in favor of traditional marriage. It wasn't so long ago. He is the first president to start as president approving of gay marriage."

Conway was referring to former President Barack Obama claiming to oppose same-sex "marriage" yet asking LGBT activists to wait for him to "evolve" on the issue. Obama fully changed his position in May 2012, the culmination of a process critics claimed was about following the polls rather than sincerely wrestling with the issue.

While Trump has largely pleased pro-lifers, his record on LGBT issues is more mixed. He has moved to ban gender-confused soldiers from the military, protected women from having to share close quarters such as homeless shelters with men claiming to be transgendered, and made religious freedom a priority of his administration.

On the other hand, he has also nominated a variety of pro-homosexual officials to various government posts, including judicial vacancies, and continued a number of Obama-era pro-LGBT policies, such as an executive order on “gender identity nondiscrimination” and U.S. support for international recognition of homosexual relations at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

He publicly praised the pro-LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans in January, and declared after the 2016 election that the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling forcing all 50 states to recognize same-sex “marriage” was “settled law.” In May, he said it was “great,” “normal,” and “absolutely fine” to see South Bend (Indiana) mayor and Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on the campaign trail with his “husband.”

Conway’s remarks, and the broader question of where the Trump administration draws the line between embracing same-sex “marriage” and other LGBT demands, has taken on renewed significance after the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives’ passage of legislation enabling “married” same-sex couples to seek millions in tax refunds for unions that were not previously recognized under federal tax law.

The so-called PRIDE (Promoting Respect for Individuals' Dignity and Equality) Act, which also removes sex-specific terms such as “husband” and “wife” from the federal tax code, passed the House without any objection from Republican members, raising concerns as to how it will fare in the GOP-controlled Senate. Neither the White House nor Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have commented on the bill so far.

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Birth control implant moves from woman’s arm to lung, found after 3 months of bleeding

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By Calvin Freiburger

July 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Long-term birth-control implants offer the promise of totally-carefree pregnancy avoidance, but as a Portugese woman highlighted in the July issue of BMJ Case Reports discovered, the reality can be quite different.

The study details the case of an unnamed 31-year-old woman who used the birth control implants (thin rods that release progestin into the body, meant to remain in the arm for five years at a time) for eight years without incident, Business Insider reported. But after three months of abnormal vaginal bleeding, she went to her doctors and they struggled to locate her most recent implant, Implanon NXT, in her body.

An ultrasound eventually revealed that the rod had migrated from her arm into her left lung, and had to be removed via video-assisted surgery. She was released four days later, and her doctors report that she suffered no complications.

While rare, birth-control implants moving from arm to lung isn’t unheard of. Doctors surmise that it happens when the physician inserting the implant places it too deep in the arm, where it runs the risk of entering a vein. “Intense exercise” can also cause an implant to migrate.

Cases like these may be colorful outliers, but all major birth-control methods have greater risks of complications and side effects than generally acknowledged by groups like Planned Parenthood.

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed new restrictions on dispensing the controversial implant Essure over a range of side effects, including perforation of the uterus and/or fallopian tubes, migration of inserts to the abdominal or pelvic cavity, persistent pelvic pain, suspected allergic or hypersensitivity reactions, and ectopic pregnancy. The FDA also warns of 10 reported instances of adult death potentially related to Essure, 20 instances of miscarriage, and four instances of an infant dying after a live birth.

More and more women have begun speaking out over the past few years about negative physical and mental reactions to oral contraceptives, which have been linked to an 80 percent increased likelihood of depression and as much as a sixfold rise in the risk of thrombosis, as well as heightened risks of blood clots, hair loss, Crohn’s disease, brain shrinkage, breast cancer, hardening of the arteries, glaucoma, and cervical cancer.

In 2016, a Denver7 investigation found that intrauterine devices (IUDs) were responsible for more than 62,000 “adverse events” over just a four-year period, including uterine perforation, infections, and devices moving or falling out. Even women who stand by their choice to use IUDs report experiencing intense physical pain, so much so in one case that “I went back the next day quite sure they'd punctured something.”

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Scottish archbishop warns against motion that could strip Church influence in Catholic schools

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

EDINBURGH, Scotland, July 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A Scottish archbishop is asking Catholics to write to their local representatives to vote against a motion that would strip the Catholic Church of its ability to influence her own schools. 

A letter from Archbishop Leo Cushley was read from the pulpits of Edinburgh’s Catholic churches during Sunday masses this past weekend. 

“You will know by now that the Green Party have put forward a motion to be discussed by the City of Edinburgh Council on 22 August 2019 in which they propose to remove the voting rights of Church representatives on the Council’s Education Committee,” Cushley wrote. 

“Such a move, if passed, would effectively remove from the Church the ability to influence the running and direction of our Catholic Schools,” he continued. 

“As such, this motion presents a serious threat to the identity and Catholicity of our schools in Edinburgh and is also, in all probability, just a first step in a process to remove faith education from schools in Scotland altogether.” 

Cushley stated that the motion “cast into doubt” the commitment of Edinburgh’s elected representatives to the future of Catholic schools. 

He encouraged Edinburgh’s Catholics, therefore, to write to their council representatives and ask them to vote against the proposal, so that the city’s 18 Catholic schools may “continue to flourish.”  

This is not the Green Party’s first attack on Scotland’s Catholic schools. According to the Scottish Catholic Observer, the Greens’ John Finnie, MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) submitted proposals in 2014 to Scotland’s government that would remove “the statutory obligation on councils to appoint religious representatives to education committees and remove voting rights from unelected members of all council committees, as well as making other provisions regarding how councils conduct their proceedings.” 

Although it has been dropped from its manifesto, it is still Green Party policy to work for the end of Catholic public education in Scotland. Officially, it wants to abolish any religious instruction in schools beyond “a celebration and recognition of religious and cultural diversity and spirituality.”

“No publicly-funded school shall be run by a religious organisation. Schools may teach about religions, comparing examples which originated in each continent, but are prohibited from delivering religious instruction in any form or encouraging adherence to any particular religious belief,” the Greens’ Manifesto on “Faith Schools” declares. 

The Scottish Greens also wish to enforce LGBT ideology on all of Scotland’s schools, saying: “Opt-outs from equality and diversity legislation will not be allowed for faith schools and they will not be permitted to promote homophobia or transphobia on the grounds of religion.”

Systematic discrimination against Catholics from 1920s until 1980s

There has been publicly-funded Catholic education in Scotland for a century, for the 1918 Education (Scotland) Act brought Catholic schooling into the state system. According to historian Tom Devine, this was done in a period of good-will between the Protestant ruling classes and the largely Irish-descended Catholic population “to avoid the creation of a pariah class that was less than adequate for the labour market.” 

According to the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, this law permitted the country’s 224 Catholic schools, serving 94,000 pupils, to retain their distinct religious character in both staffing and curriculum. It began a joint partnership between local Catholic communities and their local authorities to provide Catholic education.

Unfortunately, it was not all smooth sailing for the Catholic community after that. A systematic discrimination against Catholics in the workplace was practiced in Scotland from the 1920s until the 1980s when control of the country’s businesses shifted from the Scottish elite to the multinationals. This marginalization of Catholics for their Irish descent and/or their faith was famously described by the composer Sir James MacMillian in 1999 as “Scotland’s Shame.”

Eileen Rafferty, religious education adviser to schools for the Archdiocese, said: “It is only reasonable that Catholic reps vote when it comes to decisions affecting Catholic education and Catholic schools. The vast majority of our reps across the Lothians and Fife are not clergy but parents and/or educationalists with rich experience in Catholic education. It is their voice that is determinedly silenced by this proposal.” 

According to the law, local authorities in Scotland must have at least three Church representatives on education committees. One of these representatives is drawn from the Catholic community in those local authority areas containing Catholic schools. Local authorities, however, also have the power to remove voting rights from church representatives, and this has already been done in local government of Perth & Kinross.

A spokesman for the Scottish Greens told LifeSiteNews via email that only elected local councillors should be allowed to vote on education committees. 

“Council education committees take decisions on behalf of all of the children – and adults – in their communities,” he wrote.  

“It is essential that anyone with voting rights on such a committee has a democratic mandate and clear accountability to their community. Elected local councillors are the only people who meet both of these criteria,” he continued.  

“No-one would suggest unelected representatives of specific denominations be given voting rights in the Scottish Parliament. Greens believe the same democratic accountability should apply to our council chambers. Anyone, of any faith, who wishes a say in our system of government has the right to do so through the democratic process of standing for election.”

Edinburgh Secular Society: ‘The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland is an outpost of a foreign power’

In 2014 the Edinburgh Secular Society deeply offended Catholics when it made a similar proposal to the Scotland’s Holyrood government, but using language reminiscent of the worst of Scotland’s sectarian period. 

“The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland is an outpost of a foreign power based in Rome which is recognised in many aspects of international relations as an independent state,” the Edinburgh Secular Society stated in its official intervention. 

It continued:

“The hierarchy of the Church of Rome in Scotland, which makes the appointment of one member of each local authority education committee on the mainland, is itself appointed and disciplined by, as well as being accountable to, the overseas hierarchy of the Church. Why should the educational policy of every mainland local authority in Scotland be subject to potential influence by appointees who are nominated by a representative of a foreign power?”

It then added a contemporary twist, suggesting that Catholics are still dangerous heretics:   

“Some of the doctrines and practices of that Roman Catholic Church also run counter to the equal opportunity policies of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government, which stress that there should be full equality of gender opportunity. The Church excludes women from the priesthood and from the hierarchy of the Church. While it may be lawful for Churches to practise such discriminatory procedures because they have managed to prevent equal opportunity laws applying to them, the acceptance of the arrangements whereby Churches can nominate members to local authority education committees is a direct affront to core public values in contemporary Scotland that are espoused by most local authorities in Scotland, the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government.” 

Today approximately 20 percent of all pupils in Edinburgh attend Catholic schools. 

To respectfully make your views known, please contact:

Patrick Harvie, Leader 
Scottish Green Party
19b Graham Street
Edinburgh
EH6 5QN

[email protected]

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Trump 2020 team hires beauty queen who lost title for tweeting her conservative views

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By Calvin Freiburger

July 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Kathy Zhu may no longer be Miss Michigan, but she’s found a new role where speaking her mind is unlikely to be an issue, with President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

Zhu, a University of Michigan student and former beauty queen, announced earlier this month that Miss World America was revoking her Miss Michigan title for “offensive, insensitive, and inappropriate content” on her Twitter feed. The group has not commented publicly, but Zhu shared texts indicating they objected to a 2017 comment that “the majority of black deaths are caused by other blacks,” and says her response to being asked to wear a Muslim hijab was also an issue.

“It is honestly sad that the left refers to statistics and facts as racist and insensitive,” said Zhu, who stands by her past tweets. “I am very glad that I now have the opportunity to speak out about the unjust treatment of conservatives.”

However, following the controversy, Trump’s 2020 campaign announced it has named Zhu to the Women for Trump Coalition Advisory Board, calling her a “patriot who has continued to stand for American values despite being stripped of her crown.”

“I am so excited to now be part of the #WomenforTrump Coalition Advisory Board,” Zhu said. “Let’s get Trump re-elected for 2020.”

Zhu garnered national attention in 2016 when she abandoned Hillary Clinton for Donald Trump, and last fall when she admitted that the pro-life film Gosnell led her to “finally understand the horrors of loopholes in late term abortions.”

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Father Maurizio Chiodi Diane Montagna / LifeSiteNews
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Pro-contraception priest invited to teach at new John Paul II Institute in Rome 

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By Diane Montagna

ROME, July 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — An Italian moral theologian who has argued that “responsible parenthood” can obligate a married couple to use artificial birth control has been invited to teach at the newly established John Paul II Institute in Rome, LifeSite has confirmed.

Two informed sources in Rome told LifeSite that Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, a professor of moral theology at the Northern University of Milan and new member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has been invited to teach at the new institute, but his official appointment is still pending.

News regarding Fr. Chiodi’s potential teaching post at the restyled JPII institute comes in the wake of last week’s “purge” of orthodox professors and respected leaders, including the successor of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra and chair of fundamental moral theology, Msgr. Livio Melina, and the chair of special moral theology, Fr. José Noriega.

The suspension of all professors and dismissal of Msgr. Melina and Fr. Noriega followed the approval of new statutes crafted under the direction of institute chancellor, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia. These were in response to Pope Francis’s 2017 decree replacing the institute founded by Pope John Paul II with a new institute to carry forward the teaching of Amoris Laetitia.

According to recent reports in Italian media, Fr. Chiodi is seen as a “favorite” for guiding the direction of moral theology at the new institute. He is described as a “disciple” of Cardinal Caffarra’s “old adversary,” German priest Bernard Haering, “the most in vogue moral theologian among progressives after Vatican II.”

Heterodox on Humanae Vitae

In 2018, at a public lecture held at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Fr. Chiodi said that there are “circumstances — I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 — that precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception.” 

When “natural methods are impossible or unfeasible, other forms of responsibility need to be found,” argued Fr. Chiodi in his lecture, entitled Re-reading Humanae Vitae (1968) in light of Amoris Laetitia (2016).

In such circumstances, Chiodi said, “an artificial method for the regulation of births could be recognized as an act of responsibility that is carried out, not in order to radically reject the gift of a child, but because in those situations responsibility calls the couple and the family to other forms of welcome and hospitality.”

Fr. Chiodi’s comments came as the Church marked the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reaffirmed the Church’s ban on contraception. In his encyclical, Paul VI called artificial contraception “intrinsically wrong,” approved natural family planning, and upheld the Church’s teaching on conjugal love and responsible parenthood.

The lecture took place after Pope Francis purged the Pontifical Academy for Life, filling it with new appointees (including Fr. Chiodi), some with dissenting views on Humanae Vitae.

The Italian Fr. James Martin?

More recently, Fr. Chiodi openly expressed heterodox positions on homosexuality, arguing that we need to go beyond “nature” and consider the possibility that homosexual acts can in certain circumstances be morally good. 

In a July 29 interview with Luciano Moia of Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Fr. Chiodi was asked if he agrees “with those who argue that acts within a homosexual couple should be evaluated on the basis of the spiritual fruits they produce, whether or not they are ordered to build up the good of the person?” 

Initially seeming to suggest that persons with same-sex attraction are called to live in perfect continence, Fr. Chiodi said: “The homosexual person is also called, in his specific way, to follow a path of chaste, virtuous relationships, capable of friendship and brotherhood. No one can escape this commitment, which is born of the gift of God.” 

However, the Italian moral theologian then suggested, on the basis of Amoris Laetitia, that sexual acts within a homosexual relationship can be good, at least in certain circumstances. 

“As Pope Francis recalled, even if regarding another issue — the ‘divorced and remarried’ — it is clear that, within a historical perspective, each person is asked not only what is possible for him, but also what is possible for him in a specific moment of life,” Fr. Chiodi said.

He continued: “It is clear that, within a historical perspective, everyone is asked not only what is possible for them, but also what is possible for them at a given time in their lives. From this point of view, it seems to me that it is difficult — indeed impossible — to give pre-packaged answers, as if all the practical answers could be deduced immediately from an anthropological theory.” 

The new member of the Pontifical Academy for Life then added: “I believe that the relationships of homosexual couples present gaps and undeniable differences that prevent them from being equated with heterosexual couples, annulling their diversity. Nevertheless, the moral task concerns actual possibilities, that is, the possible good, which considers the actual history of a subject.” 

“For this reason,” Fr. Chiodi said further, “I would not exclude that, under certain conditions, a homosexual couple’s relationship is, for that subject, the most fruitful way to live good relationships, considering their symbolic meaning, which is both personal, relational and social. This, for example, happens when the stable relationship is the only way to avoid sexual vagrancy or other forms of humiliating and degrading erotic relationships or when it is help and stimulus to walk on the road to good relationships.”

Fr. Chiodi’s comments have led at least one observer to describe him as the “Italian Fr. James Martin.”

In comments to LifeSite, a theologian observed: “As though the moral life for Christians were only a question of momentary capacity, not a question of being purified by Christ’s grace to do what natural law prompts us to do.”

“The natural law is something that prompts us from within, always as sexuated beings, inclining us towards the good, truth and community... but we can’t do it on our own, our nature is wounded, we need God’s grace,” the theologian said. 

“In the sexual realm,” the theologian further explained, “the natural law inclines both man and woman to love each other faithfully and fruitfully … thus, to regard the homosexual acts — which are intrinsically disordered and structurally unfruitful — as ‘good enough for the moment, without searching the original truth God inscribed in each person (man-woman natural inclination),’ stems from a pure Neo-Pellagianism subjectivist position! It’s an ‘all is up to us’ Theology! We don’t need God who has written the natural law in us and we don’t need Christ to redeem us!”

“Christ becomes irrelevant in such false theology,” they continued. “This theology is not merciful, it is evil, because it denies to these persons who are attracted to the same sex the only real renewal of their hearts which comes from Christ, who makes all things new and helps these persons to convert and discover the truth of God’ original plan on sexuality, where sexual difference is beautiful and intrinsically fruitful!”

In the July 29 interview with Avvenire, Fr. Chiodi also said that theologians “need to rethink” questions on homosexuality already answered by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a document signed by then-prefect, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, and “overcome the temptation to respond by simply invoking human nature as an unchanging reality.” 

In the interview, Fr. Chiodi also rhetorically asked what Sacred Scripture has to say about homosexuality. In response, he said he wished do “limit himself” to Genesis 2:18, on the complementarity of man and woman, but neglected to mention Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:20-21) or St. Paul (Romans 1:26-28, 1 Cor. 6:9).

In a press release on Monday about the controversy over the reform of the John Paul II Institute, the Institute’s press office stated that they are “always available for clarification and information.” But LifeSite contacted the Institute press office on Monday by email and phone twice regarding Fr. Chiodi’s potential appointment, and we have received no reply. LifeSite also contacted Archbishop Paglia’s Secretary by email on Monday, and we have not received a reply.

RELATED: New Academy for Life member uses Amoris to say some circumstances ‘require’ contraception

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John Paul II Institute students threaten to leave in wake of firings, elimination of courses

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

ROME, Italy, July 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Students of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family have written a letter to express their “immense concern” over the potential loss of the institute's “identity” with the adoption of new statutes, the firing of key faculty, and the elimination of courses central to the legacy of John Paul II. The institute was re-purposed by Pope Francis in 2017.

“Why should one continue studying at the John Paul II Institute if it does not seem to propose anything new with respect to what can be found in the curricula of secular universities and what is oftentimes offered there in more attractive and efficient ways,” the students wrote in the letter. 

“The uncertainty generated by these changes is so great that some students, who have already paid their tuition fees, want to know about the modalities for having their fees refunded in case the situation is not clarified or the response given does not satisfy the students’ requests,” they added. 

LifeSiteNews has been informed that eight faculty members have now been dismissed, six of them after the students’ representatives sent their letter. They are Monsignor Livio Melina, Fr. José Noriega, Stanisław Grygiel, Monika Grygiel, Maria Louisa Di Pietro, Sr. Vittorina Marini, Fr. Jarosław Kupczak, OP, and Fr. Przemysław Kwiatkowski.

The letter (published in full below) is addressed to Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, the institute’s president, and Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia, the institute’s grand chancellor. The letter was sent by email on July 25 to both Sequeri and Paglia. It was also posted on July 26. The students decided to release their letter to the public because they have not yet received a “satisfactory and clear” answer, nor a guarantee that the old programs will continue, their professors will be rehired, and the remaining staff will be retained.

Marc Adrien, who represents licentiate and doctoral candidates, and Nicole Haddad, who represents masters students, wrote the letter on June 24 demanding clarification of what recent changes, which include new statutes, will mean for students and the school’s commitment to the teachings of St. John Paul II. 

“In the last few hours, many students have expressed to us their immense concern about the sudden publication of the new statutes and the new ordinance of studies of our Institute, along with the sad news of the dismissal of two professors whose academic chairs play a central role in the formation offered by the Institute,” they wrote. 

The greatest concern of the representatives is the potential loss of their college’s identity, which they believe is rooted in the Institute’s “formational approach.” They point out that Pope Francis himself wanted this aspect to remain when he “refounded” the school.

“Given that already in the very first article of his motu proprio Summa familiae cura, Pope Francis himself expresses his desire to preserve John Paul II’s original inspiration, that is, his unique proposal of teaching in the Church, it is astonishing that in the new ordinance of studies there is no mention of the theology of the body; there is no course dedicated to this topic nor to any of the teachings of John Paul II,” they wrote

They asked how the Institute’s identity, which is formed from the late pontiff’s teachings, will be safeguarded. They also ask how the Institute will ensure that the greater focus on a “dialogue with other disciplines” will not become “a mere clash of diverse viewpoints.” 

Another innovation of great concern to the students is what they call the “suppression of the chair of fundamental moral theology.” The chair was occupied by Monsignor Livio Melina.

“We know the importance that St. John Paul II attributed to the study of human action, as can be seen from the fact that he had entrusted this chair to the first president, cardinal Carlo Caffarra,” they wrote.  

“Moreover, the activity of this chair, in particular in the Research Area established by Cardinal Scola, has been praised directly by Benedict XVI,” they continued. 

This renders the official reason given for the chair’s suppression― that it belongs to the “first cycle” of theological studies― "incomprehensible" to the students. 

“If this is the reason, then why is there still a chair of theological anthropology, and why is there even a new one of fundamental theology? Msgr. Melina’s courses did not in fact only deal with the general principles of fundamental morality, but they were intimately linked to conjugal and family morality, as we have been able to experience in the teachings we have received from him,” they wrote.  

“Moreover, why does this impediment suddenly appear to be so insurmountable if this chair has been operative for thirty-eight years?”

The students were profoundly distressed that Melina and another professor, Fr. José Noriega, have been unexpectedly dismissed. 

“In the case of Prof. Melina in particular, his dismissal means not recognizing any of his merits after thirty-two years of teaching, twenty-eight years of which as a tenured professor, and many years as President of our Institute, which under his leadership has seen its expansion throughout the world,” they wrote. 

The student representatives note also that both professors were asked in February 2019 by President Sequeri to offer a mandatory course for the academic year 2019-2020, an optional course, and two study seminars, which were chosen by the students for the next academic year. These two professors were also directing many theses still in progress.

Meanwhile, they find the descriptions of the new courses being offered so lacking in detail that some students are beginning to wonder about refunds. 

“The published Ordinance of Studies limits itself to naming the courses, with titles that do not say much about their content,” the representatives wrote.  

“We ask that the content, the bibliography and the names of the professors who teach each course will be published, so that students can discern in an informed manner whether or not they want to follow the new curriculum,” they continued. 

***

To the kind attention of Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri President, Pontifical Theological John Paul II Institute
cc: His Excellency Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia
Grand Chancellor, Pontifical Theological John Paul II Institute

Rome, July 24, 2019

Rev. Msgr. Sequeri,

In the last few hours, many students have expressed to us their immense concern about the sudden publication of the new statutes and the new ordinance of studies of our Institute, along with the sad news of the dismissal of two professors whose academic chairs play a central role in the formation offered by the Institute. In view of the growing concern, and in order to fulfill our duty as representatives, we turn to you, as President of the Institute, and therefore also as guarantor of the continuity of our Institute’s studies and of the rights of its students.

Saddened and disconcerted by the way in which we have been notified about the crucial changes that affect us directly as students, we would like to begin by expressing our greatest concern: the loss of the formational approach and, therefore, of the identity of the Pontifical Theological John Paul II Institute. This formational approach, in any case, was the main reason why most students (and their superiors) chose this Institute for their education.

The Identity of the John Paul II Institute

Given that already in the very first article of his motu proprio Summa familiae cura, Pope Francis himself expresses his desire to preserve John Paul II’s original inspiration, that is, his unique proposal of teaching in the Church, (1) it is astonishing that in the new ordinance of studies there is no mention of the theology of the body; there is no course dedicated to this topic nor to any of the teachings of John Paul II. Rather everything seems to be reduced to the introductory course “La Communio personarum...”. Thus, the following questions arise:

1. How will this identity, which is the center of John Paul II's teachings, be specifically safeguarded?

2. How to avoid that the “dialogue with other disciplines” – which among other things is already found in the old curriculum – becomes a mere clash of diverse viewpoints on the same subject without internal unity, as is typical of the interdisciplinary studies of most secular universities?

3. Why should one continue studying at the John Paul II Institute if it does not seem to propose anything new with respect to what can be found in the curricula of secular universities and what is oftentimes offered there in more attractive and efficient ways?

On the other hand, John Paul II, in his motu proprio Magnum Matrimonii Sacramentum, paragraph 8, expressed his intention that the Institute be “entrusted to the special patronage of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima.” We are well aware of the intimate relationship that our Institute has always had with this Marian invocation ever since the attack of May 13, 1981. This is why we believe that it is crucial that this Institute, re-founded by Pope Francis in order to improve and strengthen it, be consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima.

The Chair of Fundamental Moral Theology

At the center of our concern about the identity of the Institute is the suppression of the chair of fundamental moral theology. We know the importance that St. John Paul II attributed to the study of human action, as can be seen from the fact that he had entrusted this chair to the first president, cardinal Carlo Caffarra. Moreover, the activity of this chair, in particular in the Research Area established by Cardinal Scola, has been praised directly by Benedict XVI. For this reason, the motivation officially given to justify the suppression of this chair is incomprehensible: it was argued that the chair of fundamental moral theology belongs to the first cycle of theological studies. If this is the reason, then why is there still a chair of theological anthropology, and why is there even a new one of fundamental theology? 

Msgr. Melina’s courses did not in fact only deal with the general principles of fundamental morality, but they were intimately linked to conjugal and family morality, as we have been able to experience in the teachings we have received from him. Moreover, why does this impediment suddenly appear to be so insurmountable if this chair has been operative for thirty-eight years?

In this sense, as students, we want to emphasize the importance that this chair has had for us: without doubt it is one of the greatest novelties and riches that, until today, the Institute has offered to the Church and society. In a world where everything seems to be divided between a relativistic or legalistic vision of ethics, the vision taught by the Institute allows us to understand morality as a path of fullness and meaning for the human being, where people are responsible for their actions while, at same time, always counting on the help of grace and of the virtues that help them live a good life. This conception of morality, in which holiness is at the center, allows us to respond with hope to many difficult cases within marriages and families.

The Dismissals of Our Professors

As for the unexpected dismissal of two of our professors at the Institute, Msgr. Livio Melina and Father José Noriega, we are concerned and alarmed by several issues:

1. by the sudden and for us incomprehensible way in which two professors were dismissed for no real reason, two professors who have great prestige not only within the Institute but who represent an international point of reference, as is demonstrated by their long academic careers. In the case of Prof. Melina in particular, his dismissal means not recognizing any of his merits after thirty-two years of teaching, twenty-eight years of which as a tenured professor, and many years as President of our Institute, which under his leadership has seen its expansion throughout the world.

2. by the fact that these dismissals weaken one of the Institute’s formative pillars, as are fundamental moral theology and special moral theology.

3. by the fact that two months before the start of the new academic year 2019/20, with the curriculum already made known by the Institute itself last June and with many students already having registered for it, we are now notified of the immediate dismissals of Msgr. Melina and Prof. Noriega. Each of them offered each year a mandatory course, an optional course and two study seminars, and they are each directing many theses still in progress. In addition, Prof. Noriega directs with great success and recognition the Institute’s academic journal Anthropotes along with the Institute’s editorial projects.

4. by the fact of not having considered the high esteem that both professors enjoy among the students, as is evidenced by the professor evaluation forms and by the number of students who each year choose them as moderators of their thesis.

About the New Ordinance of Studies

Given the above, and after having examined the document published yesterday, July 23, on the Institute’s website, we ask for a clear answer on the following matters:

1. What will happen to the other academic offerings of our Institute such as: the Special Cycle of the Master in Sciences of Marriage and the Family, the second level Master in Bioethics and Formation, the Master in Fertility and Conjugal Sexuality, and the Master and Diploma in the Pastoral Care of the Family?

2. Will those who have chosen Prof. Melina or Prof. Noriega as moderators be guaranteed the opportunity to complete their thesis with the same moderators?

3. What will be guaranteed to those who have already enrolled in the courses or seminars held by Prof. Melina or Prof. Noriega?

4. Although the academic chairs of Prof. Melina and Prof. Noriega have been eliminated, there is the course “Moral Theology of Love and Family.” Why can’t the two professors teach theology in this course?

5. The published Ordinance of Studies limits itself to naming the courses, with titles that do not say much about their content. We ask that the content, the bibliography and the names of the professors who teach each course will be published, so that students can discern in an informed manner whether or not they want to follow the new curriculum.

6. Optional courses are mentioned, but their titles do not so much as appear.

7. The uncertainty generated by these changes is so great that some students, who have already paid their tuition fees, want to know about the modalities for having their fees refunded in case the situation is not clarified or the response given does not satisfy the students’ requests.

Our Rights as Students

Article 89, §1, of the new Statutes guarantees that “students enrolled while the previous Ordinance of studies was in force may choose to continue the educational path foreseen by it.” Paragraph §2 says “The old curricula will lose their validity three years after the approval of the new Ordinance of studies.” However, two professors who hold fundamental chairs within the old Ordinance have been dismissed. How do you, as President, intend to ensure the respect of the Statutes that have entered into force and the students’ rights?

In this sense, we ask you:

  • to guarantee the continuity of Professor Melina’s and Professor Noriega’s teachings for three years, which is the period of transition provided by the statutes, and to guarantee this continuity either with regard to their courses that had already been approved for the academic year 2019/20 as with regard to their work as moderators. Otherwise, Article 89 governing the transition would be violated.
  • to guarantee, for at least the same period, the continuity of the teaching of all our professors who have been present up to now, both tenured faculty and full-time or part- time non-tenured faculty.
  • to reconfirm Professor José Granados as Vice-President for at least the next three years of transition, so that also in this way the students can be guaranteed the continuity with the “far-sighted intuition” (2) of the Institute’s founder, St. John Paul II, which has been reconfirmed by Pope Francis.

Even if it is not directly connected to our academic curriculum, we also ask you to guarantee the continued employment of all the non-teaching, administrative staff of our Institute: they too, for years have been allowing us every day to study seriously and serenely in a family spirit and in an atmosphere of welcome and unity.

Finally, we would like to emphasize once again that the student body has decided to turn to you, Msgr. Sequeri, both for the trust that so far has been placed in you as a man of proven academic reputation, and for your role as President, and therefore as the guarantor of the continuity of the John Paul II Institute’s legacy and as the guarantor of the students’ rights.

We would be grateful if you could give us an exhaustive and truly timely response to what has been requested in this letter, so that we students can decide and organize our academic and personal future accordingly, in concordance also, where necessary, with our superiors.

We thank you for your attention. May God bless you and may Saint John Paul II direct your steps.

Marc Adrien Nicole Haddad

Representative of the Licentiate and Doctoral Programs Representative of the Master Program

Endnotes

1 “It will therefore be essential that the original inspiration that gave life to the former Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family continue to bear fruit in the broader field of activity of the new Theological Institute, effectively contributing to making it correspond fully to the current demands of the pastoral mission of the Church.” Pope Francis, Motu proprio Summa familiae cura, 08.09.2017

2 Cf. Pope Francis, Motu proprio Summa familiae cura, 08.09.2017.

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John Paul Meenan John Paul Meenan Follow John Paul

Opinion , , ,

What would John Paul II think of Pope Francis’s destruction of JPII Institute?

John Paul Meenan John Paul Meenan Follow John Paul
By John Paul Meenan

July 30, 2019 (Catholic Insight) — The plot of this Pontificate thickens, as news of the summary and forthwith firing of two pillars of the Pope John Paul II Institute in Rome, Monsignor Livio Malina and Father Jose Noriega, who have built up the marvellous educational apostolate, which has done so much good under the patronage of the great pontiff in both the earthly and now heavenly phase of his life.

Yet Saint John Paul II must be shaking his head in beatific glory as he witnesses what seems to be the vitiation of the Institute. The reason given for the aforementioned firings is that the fundamental moral theology program has been removed, as if that explains everything. Yet one wonders how 'marriage and family' will be taught without a moral foundation, but under this current Magisterium, one has almost ceased to wonder. Readers may correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think Pope John Paul's Veritatis Splendor — on the principles of the moral life, in some ways his most important work — has ever been quoted in this current pontificate.

Meanwhile, to add insult to injury, every professor at the Institute has been suspended, to be reinstated, perhaps, on a one-by-one basis. This seems an attack not just on the Institute, but on the very legacy of Pope John Paul himself.

How can this be, you might ask, in these days of workers' rights and contracts and tenure? Well, it seems, plenipotentiary power has been given to the new 'Grand Chancellor' Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who has the authority to restructure the entire program, built up over decades, and to hire and fire at will. The will of the prince is indeed law.

We will see where this all goes, but, to put it mildly, things do not bode well, and dark, ominous clouds are on the horizon. God's people are indeed perishing for lack of truth, and the places in which one may find that truth clear and unalloyed are rare, and getting more so.

To the catacombs, perchance, to teach and form whom we may. As was predicted, a remnant will remain, faithful and true. God never said the road would be easy, but He always promised a way.

I am off on the Saint Anne's pilgrimage tomorrow along the old Opeongo Line, run by a former student now a priest, and will take your intentions along, in what way I am able.

Published with permission from Catholic Insight.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Norman Rogers

Opinion ,

Apple and Tim Cook need to stop being so liberal and find their patriotism

Norman Rogers
By Norman Rogers

PETITION: Apple News bans popular pro-life site without warning: says it 'shows intolerance' Sign the petition here.

Editor's note: Apple has been corporately aggressively supportive of abortion and LGBT tyranny. That is why this story should be of interest to LifeSite's readers.

July 30, 2019 (American Thinker) — The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, is failing Apple and is distracted by political issues. Cook challenged stockholders to get out of Apple stock if they disagree with the company's stance on sustainability and climate change. Cook, himself gay, is a crusader for gay rights. Cook is a preacher for political causes, and if the stockholders don 't like it, too bad. It may seem that Cook is a rebel, but his political stance is pretty normal for the elites of Silicon Valley. What isn't normal is to use his position as a soapbox for dogmatic politics. Cook's preaching may go over well in California, but probably not in other states and countries. It creates needless damage to the Apple brand.

The top-level Apple computer is the Mac Pro. It took Apple six years, from 2013 to 2019, to bring out a new model. Six years is a century in the computer business. That six years is a sign of poor management and a lack of interest in customer needs. The previous model of the Mac Pro was one of the few Apple products manufactured in the United States. Now Apple is moving manufacturing of the new Mac Pro to China. Apple is asking for a guarantee from the U.S. government that Mac Pro–related items won't be subjected to future tariffs. This is arrogant. Apple obviously believes that the U.S. government should customize its foreign relations to suit Apple. In any case, President Trump has stated that Apple won't get a waiver on tariffs.

Apple's products can be manufactured in the U.S., but it is more convenient to push the manufacturing off to a contractor in China rather than tackle the difficult task of manufacturing in the U.S. Computers and electronic devices are largely manufactured by automation. Much of the cost is in the chips and display, which are purchased from specialty manufacturers. In the short run, it will be challenging to manufacture in the U.S., but in the long run, it will pay dividends, resulting from the synergy between design and manufacturing. Apple, currently making large profits, is lazy and taking the easy way out.

Already, Asian manufacturers like Huawei and Samsung are gaining a technology advantage in mobile phones, the core of Apple's business. Apple is telling us how wonderful it is because it claims to be running on renewable energy and it recycles aluminum. These things are beside the point. Instead of wasting its money and taxpayer solar subsidies on solar-powered server farms, Apple should be investing in the future, including manufacturing in the U.S. Complacency is the name of the game in Cupertino, the location of Apple's headquarters.

Massive manufacturing in China promotes the continuing transfer of technology to China. If this keeps up, Apple may next move its engineering design to China and then finally sell the entire company to China, though Apple has the financial resources to move its manufacturing and thus make a significant contribution to the American high tech industry.

America's tax and financial incentives need to be changed so companies will take a long-term outlook and contribute to the prosperity of the U.S., not China. A starting point might be to create an index measuring how much a company contributes to enhancing the economy and technological base of the United States. This might be complex and controversial, but it could provide a corporate citizenship score to give companies a target more relevant to the common welfare than their carbon emissions.

Engraved on the bottom of my MacBook Pro, it says: "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China." This is a subtle lie. It is manufactured in China, not merely assembled. The manufacturing operation is highly complex and critical to quality. When a device like an iPhone or Mac computer is tooled for manufacturing, many problems are encountered that have to be communicated to the design team. Recent major Apple screw-ups include the butterfly keyboard, the iPhone antenna, and the wireless iPhone charger. Having different languages, different continents, and different time zones does not help.

The scale of difficulty is illustrated by the fact that Apple buys 50 business class seats a day from San Francisco to Shanghai. Targets for Chinese corporate and state intelligence abound. Putting the manufacturing in China under control of a foreign company, Foxconn, is a sure recipe for disaster in the long run. The engineers and management in China are learning a lot about Apple's products and Apple's secrets. Apple is fostering a future Chinese Apple. Long-term thinking apparently died with Steve Jobs, the innovative founder who made Apple what it became.

Turn this scenario around. If Apple starts manufacturing in the U.S., American engineers and management will start learning a lot about Chinese manufacturing techniques. We do have something to learn. Apple would be creating a new manufacturing powerhouse in the U.S. At first it will be difficult, but in the end, there will be big dividends.

Maybe Apple should try being red, white, and blue instead of green. Who isn't tired of big American companies acting as if they are citizens of the world, so special that they can ignore trivia like nationality and patriotism? A company with a heavy presence in China inevitably becomes an advocate for Chinese interests. Companies that have extensive ties to China, a geopolitical competitor, are treading into dangerous territory.

We had a close call in the 2016 election. If Hillary Clinton had been elected, the country would have been doomed to at least another four years of stagnation and stupidity. The geniuses and billionaires of Silicon Valley voted overwhelmingly for Hillary. Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley, voted 73% for Hillary. Cook donated $236,000 to Hillary's campaign. Clinton received $1.8 million from Apple's workforce. Trump got $6,786. The scale of this disparity shows that Apple workers who favored Trump were afraid to donate, knowing that their donations would be a matter of public record.

Apple's 2018 Environmental Responsibility Report has this pretentious headline: "To ask less of the planet, we ask more of ourselves." One of Apple's priorities is to "[c]onserve precious resources so we all can thrive." Our resources, precious or otherwise, are not in short supply and are not going to run out in the foreseeable future. That is the fallacy of the sustainability movement. The last word on resource depletion was given by Julian Simon in the book The Ultimate Resource 2. The ultimate resource is the technological expertise that Apple is busy sending to China.

Apple makes a big deal about recycling aluminum. But aluminum is the third most common element in the Earth's crust. It will never be in short supply. It takes energy to produce aluminum and energy to recycle aluminum. The free market and Alcoa will take care of producing and recycling aluminum. Apple should attend to its knitting, not aluminum.

According to Forbes, Cook has concentrated on building a harmonious culture at Apple and getting rid of people with disagreeable personalities. Steve Jobs was the model of a person with a disagreeable personality. The corporate raider, Carl Icahn, characterizes most CEOs as highly likable but not too bright. Icahn is biased, but his characterization is based on broad experience. Cook may or may not fit this stereotype, but he surely is not a Steve Jobs.

Norman Rogers writes often about technology, climate change, and renewable energy. He has websites: https://climateviews.com and https://NevadaSolarScam.com. He is the author of the book: Dumb Energy: A Critique of Wind and Solar Energy.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

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William Sullivan

Opinion ,

Hollywood feminists are trying their hardest to ruin film

William Sullivan
By William Sullivan

July 30, 2019 (American Thinker) — In a recent op-ed disguised as a movie review at the New York Post, film critic Sara Stewart proclaims that "Quentin Tarantino's exploitation has no place in Hollywood anymore."

Why did she pen this obituary about Tarantino's relevance in Hollywood today? Well, the eccentric (but arguably brilliant) director is just not woke enough for 2019, she posits.

You realize a curious thing about halfway through her ridiculous screed. Despite her decidedly negative conclusion about Tarantino's new film, Once upon a Time in Hollywood, she has nothing but positive things to say about the actual movie. She writes, "Tarantino worshippers and cinephiles will gush over his new movie's gorgeous depiction of old Hollywood, it's twisty conclusion and Leo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt's dedicated, leathery performances." 

Her problem? Tarantino once palled around with Harvey Weinstein (as did a veritable who's who of prominent Democrats and other Hollywood elites, it should be known), and he committed the unforgivable sin of not giving enough lines to Margot Robbie in her role as Sharon Tate in the new film. Stewart concludes:

In a world where we have an increasing number of heroic females — especially in films written and directed by actual women — it may be game over for male auteurs who create supposedly strong women on-camera and denigrate them from behind it. In 2019, we don't need that type of guy anymore, especially one who thinks that silencing Sharon Tate for most of his film is somehow a fitting homage.

Once upon a time in Hollywood, maybe, but not now.

Maybe she's right. Hollywood is thrusting women into the limelight as writers, directors, and film leads for big-budget productions at levels we've never seen before, seemingly to satisfy the woke mobs who are demanding it. 

But how has that all worked out for Hollywood? 

To state the obvious, Hollywood has been in trouble for years now. The entertainment market has become saturated with much cheaper and more convenient, quality entertainment on streaming services, making a movie night at home much more attractive for couples and families than spending $50 or more on tickets, drinks, and snacks, all the while hoping for an evening where other raucous moviegoers don't ruin the experience.

That's not to say Hollywood isn't enjoying some big successes here and there with its big franchise titles, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. But as Skylar Kleinman observes at The Science Survey, in an article from late 2018:

[T]he film industry is actually losing money. American movie theaters sold fewer tickets in 2017 than any other year since 1992. As people are buying fewer movie tickets, industry executives are relying more and more on intellectual property with built-in fan bases to ensure that money is made.

This should be obvious to anyone paying attention. The speed at which the animated Disney films I enjoyed in my childhood are being slathered into the theaters as live-action and CGI-heavy remakes, nearly shot-for-shot in some cases, is mind-boggling. Audience fatigue may already be taking hold. 

"Franchise fatigue" is anything but a new problem for Hollywood execs looking to cash in on legacy franchises. But what we're witnessing today is something new. Hollywood's newfound wokeness in reimagining formerly popular franchises as sagas to advance feminism is putting audiences to sleep.

The Star Wars franchise is the most glaring example, particularly 2017's installment, The Last Jedi. Some feminists celebrated it as the "first properly feminist Star Wars" film, while others lamented the same observation. Regarding the film's "aggressive feminist ideology," Bishop Robert Barron correctly observes:

Every male character in The Last Jedi is either bumbling, incompetent, arrogant, or morally compromised; and every female character is wise, good, prudent, and courageous. Even Luke has become embittered and afraid, bearing the stigma of a profound moral failure. The female figures in The Last Jedi typically correct, demote, control, and roll their eyes at the males, who stumble about when not provided with feminine instruction.

Feminists loved all of that, but audiences didn't respond well. That's not to say the film lost money, but the numbers don't lie. Despite taking only 11% less revenue in box office receipts than its predecessor in its opening weekend, ticket sales plummeted in the weeks that followed, yielding a total domestic take that was 33% smaller than The Force Awakens. Response in the Chinese market was abysmally short of expectations.

This "aggressive feminism" may be appeasing the woke mob, but it is certainly hurting the Star Wars franchise. It may have outright killed some others.

You might recall that the Ghostbusters franchise was rebooted in 2016, essentially telling the same story as the 1984 blockbuster with four female leads rather than four men, and without the comedy. It led to a minimum of a $50-million loss for Sony Pictures.

That was blamed on men, who exercised their misogyny by not flocking to theaters to buy tickets to this debacle that offered nothing new or interesting to audiences.

This year's Men in Black: International features British actress Tessa Thompson as a young but capable international G-woman thrust into the intergalactic secret ops organization that you've come to know in the three Men in Black films preceding it, with Thompson essentially replacing Will Smith's character from the first film. The film had an "opening weekend gross of $25 million, less than half of what all three of its predecessors opened to," and, according to John Nolte at Breitbart, it even has actor Chris Hemsworth again allowing himself to be "publicly emasculated" by reprising his role as the dimwitted, weak counterpart to the strong female leads in the Ghostbusters reboot.

You don't have to be paying close attention to notice a common denominator in these particular failures. But somehow, Hollywood seems aloof as to why its once -lucrative franchises are dying unceremoniously at the box office.

How else could one explain the choice to continue the James Bond franchise with a black woman, actress Lashana Lynch, taking her place as the new and improved British super-spy, 007?

The woke mob has been calling for a female 007, and it's elated at the choice of a black female. But bowing to the feminist furor on this one is an epic miscalculation that's even bigger than the aforementioned fumbles. If Hollywood moves forward with this idea, it will be successful in doing what scores of SPECTRE agents could not, since Sean Connery first ordered his dry martini "shaken, not stirred" in 1960s Dr. No — it will have killed James Bond.

The Bond franchise, make no mistake, is successful because it is about James Bond — a hard-drinking, tough, coolly calculated, debonair womanizer who men want to be and whom women want to be with. There is broad appeal for that character and for the stories in which he has been set. The actors and sexy Bond girls have changed over the years, providing slight differences in the character's presentation and circumstances, but this character as the centerpiece of each film has provided much of the audience appeal.

Lashana Lynch's 007 will be the successor to the role, and while I'm sure the film will have all the prerequisite intrigue of international espionage, chases, and explosions, she will be nothing more or less than an entirely new but derivative and incongruent character, meant to exploit that formula. Reports suggest that James Bond will appear in the film, played by Daniel Craig, only to come out of retirement and pursue the new female 007. She will refuse his advances and establish herself as the new hero. Will she be a hard drinker, a fighter, a gambler, or a sexual magnet for men (or, if the writers really want to go for broke in climbing the wokeness scale, for women?) to cash in on the James Bond formula?

It doesn't matter. The role was written for a man, and men and women have broad, distinctively different traits. What feminists don't seem to understand is that Lashana Lynch cannot both express femininity and be the iconic James Bond character that audiences have flocked to movie theaters to see for nearly 60 years, and have paid an inflation-adjusted $16,315,134,284 to see on the silver screen.

It boggles the mind to imagine why Hollywood is bowing to the woke mob on this. The Bond films are among the few spots where Hollywood can still succeed with regularity and with great profitability. Twenty-twelve's Skyfall was the highest grossing Bond film ever at over $1.2 billion, and 2015's Spectre grossed over $935 million.

Hollywood's devotion to wokeness is actively killing the movie franchises that are its lone lifeline in retaining prominence in today's entertainment culture. If time and box office receipts have proven anything these past years, it's that that audiences won't run to theaters to watch the uninteresting reinvention of characters and franchises that exist seemingly only to satisfy militant feminists.

William Sullivan blogs at Political Palaver and can be followed on Twitter.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

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Jeffrey Folks

Opinion

Leftists don’t want equality in America. They want revenge.

Jeffrey Folks
By Jeffrey Folks

July 30, 2019 (American Thinker) — The Squad is offended because someone finally talked back. Even after some foul-mouthed attacks on the president of the United States, the Squad members thought they should be immune to criticism. That's the problem: not the president's pushback, but the Squad's apparent belief that, because it comprises "people of color," those people are immune to the rules that apply to everyone else.

That, unfortunately, has been the assumption for too long now. Minorities achieved legal equality in the 1960s, and they proceeded to claim the equivalent of reparations in the form of affirmative action, minority set-asides, preferential admissions based on race, and thousands of informal arrangements in the workplace granting preference in terms of evaluations and workload.

As minorities gained these preferences, some became more aggressive. Some version of the Squad's tactic of calling out whites and daring them to talk back became commonplace across society. Many Americans have witnessed blacks stepping to the front of the line and expecting to be served first. Many have seen minorities promoted ahead of more experienced whites with the idea that minorities need to be "represented." But what we see now is different. It is not just society helping out those who have been disadvantaged in the past. It is a form of aggressive prejudice against, disdain for, and potential violence against whites. As I see it, the Squad epitomizes this new stage in race relations.

It's fortunate we have a president who recognizes what these women are about and is willing to stand up to them. President Trump's tweet last Monday called the Squad "a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart." Much of what the president tweeted is simply a matter of record: the four members of the Squad — Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — are in fact "young" and "inexperienced." The fact that members of the Squad have repeatedly labeled the president of the United States a "racist" attests to their willingness to play the race card, an action I would call "racist." The group's apparent bias against Israel also appears to be motivated by bias against a particular race or religion. As to their level of intelligence, that is a judgment call. Have they been acting rationally? Have they demonstrated good judgment and thoughtfulness in the past? 

It bears repeating: the Squad's behavior seems inappropriate because it appears to reflect disdain for those of a different race. Contempt for others based on race is the definition of racism. As the president pointed out on July 22, the four congresswomen have violated the rules governing behavior of members of Congress, and they should be reprimanded. "The Democratic Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass," he wrote on July 16.

Members of the Squad are not exempt from the rules of common courtesy because of their status as "persons of color." The very use of that phrase should be repugnant in our democracy. The tacit suggestion is that "people of color" constitute a special class beyond criticism, no matter how outrageous their actions or words. In our race-blind democracy, no one should be using a phrase like "people of color," and when one does, he should be held to account. As Rep. Kelly pointed out, the phrase is inherently meaningless. We are all "people of color," and none is entitled to special treatment. Minority supremacy is not at all different from white supremacy, and both are abhorrent.   

Nonetheless, the Squad's behavior is now too common among minorities. It's no longer just about claiming equality. Minorities are equal and should be treated as such. Unfortunately, there are many who are not just interested in equality. They are demanding to be treated as superiors, and in doing so, they reveal their belief in racial superiority. They push the envelope, demanding privileges and exemption from criticism, and they expect whites to bow down and keep their mouths shut even when their actions are offensive or disrespectful of others. That is exactly what has happened in the so-called feud between the president and the Squad.

It's about time that individuals like Ocasio-Cortez and Colin Kaepernick were told the plain truth: their behavior is offensive to most Americans, and it's time they took responsibility. One can hope Ocasio-Cortez gets voted out in 2020. It does look as though she's in trouble: a recent poll found that only 13% of her constituents would vote to re-elect her. As for Mr. Kaepernick, my close friend showed up today sporting a "Support the Betsy Ross Flag" t-shirt. It makes an attractive gift for all occasions. 

Unfortunately, it's more than Ocasio-Cortez and the other three. There's an attitude among "people of color" that they should receive special treatment. While only 23% of white Americans support using race as a factor in college admissions, 44% of blacks do. I long for the day when America becomes a truly color-blind nation — where it will not even occur to anyone to notice the racial background of another citizen. The Squad, by its members' rhetoric and actions, is not furthering this goal. Just the opposite: By suggesting that they are entitled to special status as "persons of color," these women are deepening the racial divide. Everyone in America should be working to overcome that divide.  

Long ago, minorities were granted equality in this country, as they should have been, but they are not entitled to denounce whites or attack their country as racist. They will be regarded as truly equal when they treat others as equals.

As for "send her back," I would agree that if I didn't love my country, I should consider going someplace else. That would never happen, because I do love America. Do the Squad love America? If they do, the president's remark is moot.

Or are the Squad really interested in something else? Like children in the schoolyard, they are goading the president to the point that he must respond. They seem to think they, as "people of color," have the right to say whatever they like, no matter how offensive, and that no one has the right to correct or challenge them. If someone does challenge them in any respect, such a challenge is inherently racist. That tactic of racial shaming, I would say, is the essence of racial superiority. It is an attitude that is now familiar in American society, and it needs to end.

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

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John Dale Dunn

Opinion

WATCH: Ted Cruz exposes frightening power of Google to influence elections

John Dale Dunn
By John Dunn

Editor's note: Be sure to watch the first video in this story, in which it is revealed how frighteningly effective Google and the other tech giants were in influencing the U.S. midterm elections. Google will likely have an even greater influence in the 2020 elections.

July 30, 2019 (American Thinker) — The hearing that exposed Google political machinations went very well for a top-notch lawyer and proven excellent debater Senator Ted Cruz.

In fact, Cruz made it look easy, first taking on and bringing out the analysis of Dr. Robert Epstein, prominent social psychologist, whose research shows that Google can and will swing millions of votes by the way it modifies its searches and prompts releases to Google customers. 

The home-run statement of Dr. Epstein, who admitted he is a Democrat, is that the rock-bottom lowest effect of Google in a U.S. election is 2.5 million votes if it uses its available tools to influence users in voter choices, with the upper effect in a range of more than 10 million votes.

Then it got very interesting as Senator Cruz questioned a Google rep on the company's assertion that it is fair and impartial and would not attempt to influence political activities. Of course, that is a joke; everybody knows that it is a joke and that Google execs are hair-on-fire leftists who would never consider voting for a Republican, and that's just the beginning.

When confronted with Project Veritas tapes of Google exec commitment to the Democratic Party's success and willingness to organize an effort to make sure Trump was not re-elected, the Google representative was just short of speechless, claiming the position she took in the beginning of the examination, that she represents a company that is not in the business of influencing and manipulating the public.

It is clear that a good examination of a hearing witness can accomplish a great deal — Ted Cruz was well prepared, had his evidence in hand, and was fluid and effective in his questions. It's a great experience to see him work. He has the chops, he has the brain, he has the timing and rhetorical skills — we need more of Ted Cruz, and we need more Ted Cruz types to carry the torch.

July 16, 2019 was a good day for Ted Cruz and for those who want Google's political activities and influence propaganda activities to be assessed in time to prevent high-tech hijacking of an election.

John Dale Dunn, M.D., J.D. is a physician and inactive attorney in Brownwood, Texas.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

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James Lewis

Opinion

Sex maniac and Clinton friend Jeffrey Epstein causing panic among Euro elites

James Lewis
By James Lewis

July 30, 2019 (American Thinker) — In 2015 at CPAC, Donald Trump said Jeff Epstein was "a nice guy, but I believe Bill Clinton will be in trouble over the [Epstein] island." Epstein has now been re-arrested for systematic underage sex abuse, and already the partisan fingers are pointing at each other. Clinton flew on 26 trips in Epstein's private plane, Trump accused Epstein and Clinton in public at CPAC 2015, and the screen grab below is of that moment in 2015. 

There is little question that "sex travel" to third-world countries has always been this way. It appears in famous novels with only the names concealed, including Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet, Kipling's Kim, and one of the Patrick O'Brian novels. In the U.K. press, notably the Telegraph, Pakistani child "grooming gangs" have also been selectively exposed. It is political dynamite, of course, and the British protester who calls himself "Tommy Robinson" was arrested for demonstrating in front of a law court where four Pakistani kidnappers and abusers were sentenced. Robinson is back in politics now, and the established parties are extremely afraid of his activities. But the new Brexit Party (Nigel Farage and Ann Whitcomb, among others) has risen in the polls from nowhere a month or two ago to a majority or plurality in the E.U. elections for the European Parliament, where they are demonstrating loud and clear. The E.U. political elite is also panicked by the possibility of exposure. The new populist parties in Europe almost certainly know about this, and Putin's recent critique of "neo-liberalism" may be aimed at this scandal, which also has implications for Pope Francis.

I believe that Trump's successful election in 2016 came as a shock to the established political and big-money class here and there, because this scandal has been well known to them since Bill Clinton, who was clearly caught in one or many honey traps. The CPAC photo above must have been widely circulated, but not publicized via the big media.

This story is now breaking wide open, there will be mutual accusations, and Trump has been preparing for this moment at least since his CPAC speech in 2015.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

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Don Boys

Opinion , , ,

Pete Buttigieg: Wrong about Christianity, abortion, and homosexuality

Don Boys
By Don Boys

July 30, 2019 (American Thinker) — Politicians have a constitutional right to be stupid, but Pete Buttigieg is taking advantage of that right. Pete is wrong about religion, abortion, and homosexuality. I don't want someone with three major failures in the White House.

In a recent conversation with USA Today, Buttigieg characterized conservative Christians as "saying so much about what Christ said so little about, and so little about what he said so much about." Pete was using the absence of evidence argument — i.e., since Christ didn't prohibit perversion, then criticism of LGBTQ crowd is wrong. However, that is fallacious, since Christ didn't speak about cannibalism, but I assume, though not sure, that Pete would not defend it. Pete is parroting the same silly, shallow argument that Christ's words are more important than other Scripture, but that undercuts scriptural authority. If a statement is in the Bible, it is to be properly interpreted by the context.

If it is biblical, it doesn't matter whether Christ said it or not. Moses and the Apostle Paul surely made it clear that perversion is an abnormality, an aberration, and an abomination.

Pete is said to be a "devoted" Episcopalian. I'm not sure if that means he goes to church three times a week, tithes, and says grace at every meal. Professor Gary Dorrien of Union Theological Seminary said, "In our time, the Episcopal Church is a generally progressive denomination that ordains gay and lesbian bishops, makes room for liberation theology." The denomination wandered far into left field many years ago, as almost all groups do.

Their pews are empty, as are their offering plates, sure signs of coming death.

The flagship church in the Episcopalian denomination is the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. One of their leaders invited a hundred Muslims to use the cathedral for Friday prayers, and the staff covered all crosses and anything that might offend the Islamists. Officials have marched in "gay" pride parades. The National Cathedral still in good standing with the denomination and is even the most famous in that group.

One pro-Pete commentator opined, "The Episcopal Church of America accepts gay parishioners, priests, and bishops in churches that recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday and have as authentic a claim to 'orthodoxy' as any other church and more than many."

No, that dog won't hunt.

Everyone with a modicum of knowledge about history knows that all the mainline denominations give lip service to the Bible but departed from it generations ago. Moreover, Episcopalians of today are far from what they were in George Washington's day. No denominational official is willing to admit, "As a group, we have departed from our roots and are occupying buildings built by people who were narrow-minded fanatics."

Moreover, after choosing the lifestyle of homosexuals, Pete has taken on all the baggage that most homosexuals possess. A person may experience homosexual desires, but that does not mean he was created homosexual. Furthermore, because a person reacts to that desire does not make him a homosexual. It only means he is a stupid sinner, like all of us. Even the thought of unmarried sex is wrong, whether abnormal or normal. Practicing homosexuals are people who were born heterosexual and are rebelling against the God-ordained plan for their lives.

If a person obsesses over normal or abnormal sexual thoughts, it is wrong and dangerous and indicates a corrupt mind and heart. God says, "For out of it [the heart] are the issues of life." We often do what we think about.

People change all the time, so counselors should not tell people they cannot change their sexual desires. Of course they can.

In February 1992, a cover story for Newsweek featured the face of an infant and the question "Is This Child Gay?" In July 1993, The New York Times ran a story titled "Report Suggests Homosexuality Is Linked to Genes." No, the child was not "gay," and homosexuality is not linked to genes.

Even left-leaning, LGBT-affirming organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association do not make the claim that people are born "gay." In their view, the causes of same-sex attraction are complex, including both nature and nurture.

Recent research at Johns Hopkins reveals that there is no scientific support for "born that way" origins of perversion. Even some honest homosexuals declare that they were not "born that way."

During the last twenty years, there have been eight major studies of identical twins in Australia, the U.S., and Scandinavia, and all arrived at the same conclusion: homosexuals were not "born that way." Since identical twins have the same DNA, if one is gay, then both should be. However, that happens only 11% of the time. The report reveals, "If homosexuality is caused by genetics or prenatal conditions and one twin is gay, the co-twin should also be gay." But the proof is in the testing, and the results disprove, or at least do not support, "born that way."

Pete sought to defend his choice of being a homosexual by responding to Vice President Pence, saying, "A problem with who I am, your problem is not with me — your quarrel, sir, is with my creator. If me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade."

Pete is wrong. He chose to follow his inclinations, desires, etc., into the dark night of perversion, and he chose to "marry" a man. He chooses to participate in some homosexual activities.

If he and other homosexuals can't change, then how can pedophiles change? And if they can't change, then how can putting them in jail be justified?

You can bet the farm that no reporter will ask Pete about that.

Pete is also as wrong about abortion as he is about perversion. "I don't think we need more restrictions right now," the mayor said. "I just believe that when a woman is in that situation and when we're talking about some of those situations covered by that law, extremely difficult, painful, often medically serious situations where life or health of the mother is at stake, the involvement of a male government official like me is not helpful."

The translation of the above political gobbledygook is, kill the babies. I don't want a baby-killer in the White House.

Pete also said, "Christian faith is going to point you in a progressive direction." No, that is not found in the only book that guides Christians. The Bible does not support unlimited government, high taxes, free college tuition, reparations, and climbing in bed with Muslim terrorists.

No, the Christian faith does not point in that direction. I think Mayor Pete needs to stay in South Bend and repair the potholes.

Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives who ran a large Christian school in Indianapolis and wrote columns for USA Today for eight years. Boys authored 18 books, the most recent Muslim Invasion: The Fuse is Burning! EBook is available here with the printed edition (and other titles) at www.cstnews.com. Follow him on Facebook at Don Boys, Ph.D. and visit his blog.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

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Fr. Michael P. Orsi

Opinion

Priest: Vincent Lambert and Terry Schiavo tragedies shows importance of having a will

Fr. Michael P. Orsi
By

July 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The starvation death of Vincent Lambert, a 42-year-old French psychiatric nurse who suffered a severe brain injury in a car crash, echoes all the concerns raised by the Terry Schiavo tragedy of several years ago.

Lambert had suffered a tetraplegic spinal chord injury that left him severely disabled. He was unable to speak, though he appeared to be conscious and seemed to recognize friends and relatives visiting him in the hospital.

After an 11-year series of court battles between his parents, his wife, and other family members, the European Court ruled that feeding and hydration tubes could be removed, and Lambert left to die. He succumbed nine days later.

Lambert’s mother, Viviane, complained that her son received no “deep sedation” while he was being starved to death. As reported by LifeSiteNews, she observed that he was “moaning and groaning, gasping for breath, and crying” during that time.

This was a case of “passive euthanasia,” which denies normal care to a person, e.g. food, hydration, and normal medical care (antibiotics, insulin etc.), causing death by starvation. This is murder, and, what effectively caused Vincent’s death.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this sad incident is the ambivalence characterizing the response of many religious leaders. Typical was a pronouncement from a European interfaith group that commented, rather noncommittally, “We believe it is important to continue careful and in-depth discussions on these medical and ethical issues,” including “genuine dialogue with people at the end of their lives or the relatives of people who have become unable to communicate.”  The bottom line was little more than an expression of “confidence in the doctors of our country.”

Pope Francis also offered a less-than-definitive statement: “Let us not build a civilization that discards persons, those whose lives we no longer consider to be worthy of living: every life is valuable, always.”

Aside from the human tragedy befalling Lambert and his family, this case is important because it offers lessons to us as we consider what we would want done at the end of our own lives.

Certain principles affecting our choices have been enunciated clearly in Catholic teaching — primarily in an allocution by Pope Pius XII in 1951 to a group of Italian midwives. In that talk, Pius drew a distinction between “ordinary” and “extraordinary” means of preserving life. (Today these are often referred to by healthcare professionals as “proportional” and “disproportional.”)

A particular treatment or procedure might be considered “extraordinary” or “disproportional” if a patient would find it too painful, too costly, or too repulsive to accept. Also, it might be too experimental (or “exotic”), and therefore not inspiring of confidence. Under such circumstances, rejecting the use of a procedure would be judged moral.

Some years ago I was called in by the family of Rose, a women in her fifties who was suffering with cancer. She faced the choice of whether or not to accept an operation and a course of chemotherapy that might have prolonged her life by about six months, but would have subjected her to a difficult time of pain and discomfort.

I asked her what she, in her heart, wanted to do. She told me, “I don’t want treatment.” And so she went home, progressed in the disease (with palliative home care), and continued to receive Holy Communion until she passed away with her family at her side.

Rose made the right decision. She rejected medical procedures that would have been painful and repulsive to her.

A year or so later, I got a phone call from Roses’ daughter, telling me that her father, Al, was refusing treatment for a very painful and debilitating eye condition. He had been depressed since Rose’s death, and insisted he wanted to die.

So I got on the phone with Al and told him to go to the doctor. Fortunately, he listened to me, and an examination revealed a benign tumor behind his eye.

Al assumed that since I had told Rose that she was right in refusing treatment, then he was free to let his eye problem go unattended.

But there was a big difference. Rose’s condition was malignant and terminal. Al, on the other hand, had a tumor which, if left untreated, could have killed him, even though it was benign (non-cancerous). But he had a chance for genuine improvement, which Rose did not, and so was under a moral obligation to be treated medically — in other words, to not let a curable condition take his life unnecessarily.

Some people are confused about Catholic teaching, assuming that it demands “life at any cost.” This idea is known as “vitalism,” and it does not reflect the traditional moral perspective of the Church.

Others maintain a view known as “fatalism,” which disdains medical intervention and insists that the sick, the weak, or the old should be left to the depredations of nature. This is not a legitimate Catholic view either. Jesus healed the sick, and authentic Christian tradition has always held the medical profession in high regard.

Catholicism has a very balanced understanding of what’s proper for human dignity, how to defend the value of human life, and when to let life go. The Church recognizes that we do have to make determinations, because each case is different.

Patient age and physical condition are critical factors. Also, technology changes over time. Procedures that were considered extraordinary 20 years ago may be quite ordinary — even basic — today.

The key to having your wishes honored is thorough planning and clear expression of your moral intentions. And these matters must be taken care of beforehand.

First, make sure you have a will, and update it every few years to reflect the ongoing changes in your life circumstances.

Second, have a “living will.” This is a document, often provided by hospitals and nursing facilities, in which you answer specific questions about how you wish to be cared for and under what conditions you want treatment to be concluded. A Living Will should clearly state that “death by starvation is not acceptable, and that a Feeding Tube must not be removed unless one is in the dying process, making it futile. 

Third, have a “health care proxy.” This is an individual you appoint to carry out your instructions in the event that you are unable to express your desires yourself. It should be someone who knows you and understands your intentions, and is willing to be your medical champion.

Finally, have a “durable power of attorney.” This is authority to handle your legal and financial affairs. It may be issued to your health care proxy or to someone else. In either instance, make sure you’re giving it to someone who likes you. And that last point is not made facetiously. You need a person who is dedicated to protecting your interests.

Lack of these advance arrangements was the main complicating factor in the Vincent Lambert case. He had left no instructions, and so conflict arose between his parents, who insisted on continued life support, and his wife, who maintained that he would not have wanted to be kept alive artificially.

Advances in medical science, introduction of new treatment techniques and devices, and extension of life expectancy make end-of-life issues more and more complicated and increasingly common. We’ll likely all face some aspect of them at some point.

Make things as easy on yourself as possible, and do your family a great and loving favor. Be prepared.

A priest of the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, Rev. Michael P. Orsi currently serves as parochial vicar at St. Agnes Parish in Naples, Florida. He is host of “Action for Life TV,” a weekly cable television series devoted to pro-life issues, and his writings appear in numerous publications and online journals. 

August 1, 2019, 11:15 AM EST update: This report has been updated to reflect more accurately Vincint Lambert's condition prior to his death and the medical assistence he was receiving. This report also now includes more information about what caused Lambert's death as well as more detailed information about what might be stated in a "living will."

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Why Cdl. Muller warned that German involvement in Amazon Synod was ‘wrecking ball’ for Church

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By Maike Hickson
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Cardinal Gerhard Muller

July 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In a recent July 26 statement, Cardinal Gerhard Müller pointed out the close link between the upcoming Amazon Synod and the German “synodal path” as it is being currently organized in Germany.

He stated that “the synodal process in the realm of the German Bishops' Conference is now being linked with the Synod for the Amazon, and this is done for ecclesial-political reasons and as a leverage for the restructuring of the Universal Church. Additionally, at both events the protagonists are nearly identical, and they are even financially and organizationally connected by way of the relief agencies of the German Bishops' Conference."

"It will not be easy to control this wrecking ball," the Cardinal added.  

The German bishops' "relief agencies" referred to by Cardinal Müller are Adveniat and Misereor. The two agencies published the German translation of the working document of the upcoming October 6-27  Pan-Amazon Synod on July 17 and revealed their  involvement in the preparatory work of this synod. The directors general of both agencies – Father Pirmin Spiegel and Father Michael Heinz – signed the introduction to the document.

Adveniat is the German bishops’ relief agency for Latin America and Misereor the bishops’ overseas aid and development agency. Both are financially involved in the Amazon region.

The translation of the Vatican document for the Amazon Synod was undertaken by the two German agencies that are each headed by a German bishop. Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck (Essen) is responsible for Adveniat, and Bishop Stephan Burger (Freiburg) for Misereor. The document translated into German is, however, copyrighted by the Vatican and appears on Adveniat's website. Usually such a document would be published by the Vatican, not by German episcopal agencies. This unusual situation highlights the new push for a decentralized Church, which is so essential for today's Church, according to Fathers Spiegel and Heinz.

At the same time, the Amazon Synod also stands for an internal change into a Church “which leaves the comfort zones and goes to the peripheries, there, where people do not matter and have no rights,” the two directors write in their introduction for the German version of the synod document. Instead of Roman centralism, “decentralization is the topic,” so that local churches “can make their own decisions about things that affect them directly.” For the authors, the Amazon Synod is about “implementing  Evangelii Gaudium (2013).” Evangelii Gaudium is Pope Francis' first apostolic exhortation, in which he presented the program of his papacy.

As the authors point out, “the working document [of the Amazon Synod] has the handwriting of the ecclesial Amazon-network, Repam (Red Eclesial Panamazónica), to which Adveniat and Misereor belong since its foundation in 2014.” They also highlight the fact that Pope Francis names Cardinal Claudio Hummes as the general relator of the upcoming Amazon Synod.

“The fact that the Pope named the President of Repam, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, as the general relator of the synod, and he, together with several other Repam representatives, is a member of the synodal preparatory council, shows how much Francis appreciates the Amazon-network,” Spiegel and Heinz comment.

They both hope that the Amazon Synod will lead to a “profound paradigm shift” in the Catholic Church, also with regard to the priesthood in general, and with an “official ministry” for women.

The two directors of the German relief agencies both draw a link between the Amazon Synod and the German “synodal path” which is being prepared and which aims at discussing celibacy, the Church's moral teaching, and the role of women within the Church. At the Synod, they state, “we can enter onto paths of new thinking, on which our questions in Europe also can be discussed.” 

And as a confirmation of this claim, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode – the German bishops' vice president – announced already in April of 2018 that, should the Amazon Synod agree on permitting married priests, the Germans, too, would ask for them for their own dioceses. One source close to the situation told LifeSiteNews that Bode is determined to act as soon as the decisions are made at the Amazon Synod in Rome this fall.

Another confirmation of the close link between the Amazon Synod and the German “synodal path” can be seen in the fact that both German episcopal relief agencies (Misereor and Adveniat) have already now organized a conference in Würzburg for November 6-8, 2019, that will discuss the conclusions which the German bishops should draw from the October Amazon Synod. Among the speakers will be three members of the Amazon Synod's pre-synodal council, most prominently Bishop Erwin Kräutler who has been called by different sources the main author of the synod's working document.

In light of the fact that Misereor and Adveniat are members of Repam and since they have published the Synod's working document in German, LifeSiteNews reached out to both agencies, asking them about their financial and organizational involvement with Repam and the upcoming Amazon Synod. 

In the following, LifeSite shall now present the answers which we have received from Adveniat and Misereor. We shall add our own further research in parentheses:

Adveniat

In 2018, Adveniat received just under $47 million in Euro donations. The Catholic Church in Germany asks on Christmas (24 and 25 December) in all churches to give donations to Adveniat.

The press speaker of Adveniat, Carolin Kronenburg told LifeSiteNews:

  • In the fiscal year of 2018, Adveniat funded 9 projects with a total of 272,000 Euro “for the preparation of the Amazon Synod in the territory and for Repam activities.” Additional funds were given in that year after the closing of the fiscal year at the end of September 2018. 

The following events are either pre-synodal meetings for the development of the Instrumentum Laboris (working document) of the Amazon Synod, conferences, Repam meetings and conferences, episcopal assemblies and travels in the region:

  • Franz Hellinge, Adveniat's expert for Ecuador, participated at a preparatory meeting of Repam in Ecuador.
  • Thomas Wieland, leader of the projects of Adveniat, went to a similar event in Peru.
  • Klemens Paffhausen – Adveniat's expert for Brazil – went two times to Brazil, to episcopal meetings in Manaus and Belem.
  • Father Michael Heinz, Adveniat's director general, went to Manaus, Brazil, dealing with an episcopal assembly for the whole of the Amazon. 
  • Thomas Wieland went to a conference in Washington, D.C. (According to LifeSite's research, that must have been the March 2019 conference at Georgetown University that was organized by Repam, with Cardinals Claudio Hummes, Pedro Barreto, and Reinhard Marx speaking.)
  • Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck, the bishop responsible for Adveniat, attended a Rome Conference. (No further information was given, but he definitely attended the private and unannounced pre-synodal June 2019 meeting in Rome, together with Cardinal Walter Kasper, Cardinal Baldisseri, and Cardinal Hummes. That meeting called for married priests and the female diaconate.)
  • Thomas Wieland repeatedly worked with the Repam steering committee, once in Bogotá, once in Sao Paulo, and then also “virtually.”
  • In the field of international organizations and Repam, Thomas Jung and Thomas Wieland went to Madrid, Spain; Adveniat co-hosted an event in Berlin, Germany with Father Michael Heinz, Stephan Jentgens, Martina Fornet Ponse, Carmen Martínez, Stephan Neumann, Thomas Wieland, and, as a volunteer, Stephanie Hoppe. There were also additionally several virtual meetings with Martina Fornet Ponse, Anna Barrera, Thomas Wieland, and Stephan Neuman being involved.
  • Visits in the territories and in the Repam Office: Prelate Klaschka, Father Michael Heinz and a delegation of the episcopal commission to Ecuador; a trip of journalists to Ecuador and Brazil; a trip to the Amazon region in Venezuela by Reiner Wilhelm, Stephan Neumann, and Thomas Wieland.
  • Further visits to the Amazon region, also in light of the Amazon Synod: Columbia: Monika Lauer Perez, who is the Adventiat expert for Columbia; Peru: Thomas Wieland; Venezuela: Reiner Wilhelm (Venezuela expert); Brazil: Brazil expert (Klemens Paffhausen); Bolivia: Dr. Anna Barrera, the former Adveniat expert for Bolivia; Ecuador: Franz Hellinge (Adveniat expert for Ecuador).
  • “Numerous conversations in the Adveniat office and during travels, as well as via Skype are of course not listed here,” is the final comment by Carolin Kronenburg.

Further research on the part of LifeSite found:

  • that Adveniat “very much” financially supported Bishop Erwin Kräutler – a key author of the Synod's working document and the director of Repam Brazil – when he was the director of the Indigenous Missionary Council of the Brazilian Bishops' Conference, CIMI (his last term was from 2006-2015). CIMI's former secretary and close collaborator of Kräutler, Father Paolo Suess, also attended the recent secret pre-synodal meeting in Rome. He had been taken by Bishop Kräutler to his April 4, 2014 meeting with the Pope, and he is said to have helped Kräutler write the Synod's working document. Adveniat points out that CIMI “works for many years for the rights of the indigenous.” Bishop Kräutler himself also had been invited by the German Bishops' Conference to participate at their 2016 Spring Assembly; it is not clear what the purpose of his presence – and that of two other Brazilian bishops – was. But it is not unlikely that the Amazon region was part of his discussions with the German bishops then.
  • For Christmas 2019, all Catholic churches in Germany will have a collection in support of Adveniat, for the people in Latin America and in the Caribbean. The fundraising campaign will be supported by Cardinal Pedro Barreto, the Vice President of Repam. Adveniat posted on its website a film about Barreto, presenting him and his work and showing how closely he is working with the German relief agencies. The film also states that “in Rome, he [Barreta] prepares, together with other members of Repam, the Amazon Synod.”
  • Barreto also participated at a conference in Berlin, in September of 2018, on the topic of the Amazon region and its protection. The conference was organized by Repam, Adveniat, and Misereor.
  • Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the President of Repam, together with Adveniat and Misereor, presented last year in September to the German government a Repam report on the violation of human rights in the Amazon region. Hummes is, together with Barreto and Kräutler, a member of the pre-synodal council of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon.
  • Also in September of 2018, Adveniat, together with Repam and Misereor and two other organizations, hosted a “Lunch debate & Press Conference" titled "Amazonia’s indigenous peoples: How can the EU promote their rights?” in Brussels. 
  • In 2016, Adveniat donated $3.5 million Euro to the Amazon region and Repam: They write: “The transnational ecclesial network Repam is a partner of Adveniat in defending the rights of the indigenous peoples.” They add the information that “Adveniat supported with more than $3.2 million Euro projects in the Amazon region.”
  • Adveniat, together with Repam, organized in 2018 for Friederike Becht, a well-known German actress, a trip to the Amazon region, as a sort of promotion of the awareness of the problems in the region. They made a film about her trip.
  • On its website, Adveniat has a whole entry on its collaboration with Repam for the Amazon.

Misereor

Misereor received $232 million Euro donations and public funds in 2018. The Catholic Church in Germany runs a national collection for Misereor in all Catholic churches during Lent.

Misereor's press speaker, Ralph Allgaier, told LifeSiteNews that the following different initiatives have been undertaken by Misereor with reference to the upcoming Amazon Synod:

  • participated at a September 17-19, 2018 international conference of Repam in Berlin;
  • Director General Father Pirmin Spiegel participated at the Repam conference in Rome (February 25-27, 2019) and in Washington (March 17-19, 2019)
  • According to Mr. Allgaier, “Misereor has not received any requests on the part of the Synod for financial support.”
  • Markus Büker – Misereor's theological expert – participated at a preparatory meeting of Amerindia and Repam, April 4-6, 2019, in Bogotá. From this event then stems the publication: Amerindia (Ed.), Hacia el Sinodo Panamazonico. Deafios y aportes desde America Latina y el Caribe. The article can be download on the Webseite of Amerindia. (LifeSiteNews' research shows that Amerindia has, on its website, a blog of the well-known representative of Liberation theology, Leonardo Boff.) 
  • Misereor is currently funding 85 projects in the Amazon region, with $18.5 million Euro. “We support the Repam office in Quito (the seat of the general secretary) with 100,000 Euro,” explains Allgaier. “The money is meant for projects in the field of human rights and alternative economical systems.”

Further research from LifeSite found:

  • Miseroeor co-funded a booklet — resulting from the above-mentioned April conference in Bogota — by Repam and Amerindia which calls for women deacons.
  • Repam participated at the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Misereor in Berlin.
  • In 2017, Misereor and Adveniat called, together with Repam's Vice President then-Archbishop Padro Barreto, upon the German parliamentarians to work for the protection of the rights of the indigenous peoples in the Amazon region. The German government was asked to recognize Repam as the speaker of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon region.
  • In 2018, Misereor published a film about the publication of the report on the human rights of the indigenous peoples as it has been submitted to the German government by Misereor, Adveniat, and Repam.
  • The former chief executive director of Misereor (until 2012), Professor Josef Sayer, participated at the unannounced and private pre-synodal meeting that was organized by Repam and took place in June, 2019 near Rome. In 2015, Sayer had taken part, as a representative of Misereor, together with Cardinal Hummes, in a protest against so-called climate change.

Based on the above evidence, it is clear that both Misereor and Adveniat have invested money and organizational talent and other expertise in and for the benefit of the Amazon region, the organization Repam, and, finally for the upcoming Amazon Synod. 

The final outcome of the Amazon Synod, as well as the prompt implementation of certain decisions in Germany, might well confirm Cardinal Müller's above-quoted statement that “the synodal process in the realm of the German Bishops' Conference is now being linked with the Synod for the Amazon, and this is done for ecclesial-political reasons and as a leverage for the restructuring of the Universal Church.”

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Why faithfully practicing Christianity is like a ‘marriage’ to God

Peter Kwasniewski Peter Kwasniewski Follow Dr. Peter
By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

July 30, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Matrimony, as an unbreakable covenant or sacrament, has the character of resolution (re-solutio, putting back together: “what God has joined together, let no man put asunder”), indissolubility, exclusivity, self-renunciation. Of the trust, confidence, and loyalty demanded of spouses towards each other, no more need be said than the heart of any faithful spouse will supply. Marriage, the earthly union of lover and beloved, presupposes and demands the constant exercise of faith. Love can never thrive without a surrender of self in a spirit of trust. 

Faith in God follows a similar logic. That is why the Old Testament calls Israel the bride and God the bridegroom, while the New Testament calls the Church the bride and Christ the bridegroom. In religious faith, the will holds the intellect captive—“I believe in one God, the Almighty Father”—even as the promise “I do” holds the self captive to one’s spouse, regardless of difficulty or struggle. “For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer”: these words are noble and profound. On their wedding day, the future husband and wife ought to say them with fear and trembling, as they amount to a creed and a baptism immersing the soul in waters deeper and greater than itself. 

Religion can be called a marriage to God. We make manifest in our words and deeds that we desire to love Him. He courts us with His grace, proposes to be united to our souls, and invites us to the wedding feast. In the end, we must decide to love Him “for better or for worse. . .” in this vale of tears, till death brings us face to face with the Bridegroom whose love and real presence we believed in throughout our lives, though we saw Him not.

As Fr. Thomas Dubay writes:

It is obvious that our will has a great deal to do with our attainment of religious certitude. This does not mean that our convictions lack objective intellectual bases but that the nature of the evidence allows for a free, unforced response. In a similar manner our interpersonal responses on a human level are free and unforced. I can have completely adequate evidence that someone loves me, and yet I remain free to reject the love or to refuse to admit that it exists. We do not reach certitude by a mere choice or an arbitrary decision. . . Religious commitment, therefore, is not a blind jump. Nor does the will operate in the dark. The intellectual evidence is there, but frightfully limited and prone to compromise as we are, we need actively willed commitment to truth, if we are to maintain intellectual integrity. Assent to evidence is a duty, and we need our will to assure that we shall act reasonably. (Faith and Certitude, 194–95)

The dogmas of our Christian religion may sometimes seem absurd to carnal reason, because mysteries always escape our finite minds, and we do not know how to approach the infinite God “who dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Tim 6:16). But mystery is not absurdity, and what is beyond reason is not unreasonable. Love, like religion, is a mystery—indeed love is the mystery of life—but love is not absurd. It is greater than we are, it encompasses us and transforms us. If man were the measure of all things, love would be absurd, because true love cannot be measured by man. But who that has tasted real and abiding love can think that man is the ultimate measure of all things? Love itself governs the life of the lover. 

The husband trusts his wife, and she for her part trusts her husband. They believe in each other’s words of love. There is no question of a “science” of love. There is a religion of love, a prayer of love, a sacrifice of love, “a peace that surpasseth all understanding” (Phil 4:7), but there cannot be intellectual comprehension. Love surpasses, one might even say overleaps, comprehension.

One may raise the following objection. In human love we see and hear the other person, but the situation is entirely different when it comes to religious faith, where we do not see, or in any way come into contact with, the object of our belief in its proper appearance. 

In reply, we may ask: What is it a man truly sees in his beloved? Does he see her belovedness? Does he even see the person? When contemplating a friend or spouse or child, we see a familiar animal shaped like a human being, we hear it using a conventional language in an attempt to express its hidden thoughts. That is what we encounter. The beloved, the love, the meaning of words and gestures, lies far beneath the surface of the shapes, colors, sounds, etc. We perceive only signs of realities (or, in scholastic terminology, accidents of substances); the realities themselves are forever beyond touch, sight, smell, taste, and hearing, accessible only to the spiritual part of man, his immortal soul, his divinely-crafted mind. 

Human love is beyond the realm of a simple problem that the intellect could set itself to “solve” like an equation in physics. Nothing but faith, loyalty, purity, devotion can get at the heart of reality, the heart of love, the meaning of love, the boundaries of the person created unto God’s image and likeness. He knows little of love who thinks it to be nothing other than its signs and tokens.

Not until we reflect on the nature of friendship do we realize how crucial blind loyalty is in the formation and preservation of friendships. I do not mean “blind” in the sense of refusing to see—such blindness is never a good thing—but blind as being unable to see. It is the difference between people who are afraid to look at the screen during a horror film, and people blind from birth. As intellectual creatures we stare reality in the face; but the greater part of reality, in fact the best and greatest of it, will always escape our mortal gaze, however acute and probing. Spirit, soul, and God, other persons and their thoughts, not to mention first principles of knowledge and the certitude of our senses, can never be directly sensed or experienced as particulars at all. The most important things are the least visible and tangible.

Faith is knowledge in promise, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not” (Heb 11:1), just as the faith plighted by a bride and bridegroom is in promise of a lifetime of knowledge. When Adam knew Eve in a communion of flesh (Gen 4:1), he physically knew a part of her, the body, but symbolically he knew the whole of her, her future life and inner destiny. Marriage is the promise to share one’s entire life and destiny with another, to make one life and destiny out of two. 

Faith in God follows a similar pattern. The believer plights his faith in God, promising firm fidelity to commands which he is nonetheless free to break, just as the husband or wife may violate the nuptial bed by committing adultery. The believer makes the life of Christ his own, as the wife makes the husband’s life her own; Christ lays down His life to save those who believe in Him, as the husband sacrifices his life for his wife (cf. Eph 5:21–32).

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Are the end-times predicted in the Scriptures upon us? - Part 2 of 2

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By John-Henry Westen

Michael O’Brien is a Catholic novelist, author, painter, and speaker. He is the author of the best-selling book Father Elijah: An Apocalypse, which has been translated into many languages. On this part 2 of a two-part episode of The John-Henry Westen Show, he explains how hell isn't empty and speaks about the end-times. He also shares what gives him hope amid the massive confusion in the Church and the role of Mary in salvation history.


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