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Archbishop Viganò prays the rosary at the 2017 Rome March for Life Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

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Abp Viganò: Bishops who obey ‘dictatorship of public opinion’ to win applause ‘prostitute’ their souls

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò
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[Editor’s note: The following statement, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, was first published in Italian on Duc in altum. Here below is the official English translation.]

We have seen all the news broadcasts about the new cardinals who have visited the pope emeritus, led by Pope Francis. The images of the two popes together with the new cardinals, purposely wanted and widely circulated, have once again a mystifying instrumental function: to show the complete harmony and continuity of the magisterium of the two popes. It has also been reported that Pope Benedict advised the new cardinals to be faithful and obedient to the Pope.

In reparation for the ignoble abuse committed against the pope emeritus and the unworthy exploitation of his image, it seems to me fitting and proper that the bishops gathered in the Synod for the Amazon to protect the “Mother Earth” —  whence we came and whither we shall return — may also receive a word from Pope Benedict XVI, this time one that is authentic.

It comes to us from the homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI in the Eucharistic concelebration with the members of the International Theological Commission, in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel, on Friday, October 6, 2006.

And our speech and thoughts must always serve to ensure that what God says, the Word of God, is listened to and finds room in the world. Thus, once again we find ourselves invited to this process of forfeiting our own words, this process of purification so that our words may be nothing but the instrument through which God can speak.

In this context, a beautiful phrase from the First Letter of St Peter springs to my mind. It is from verse 22 of the first chapter. The Latin goes like this: “Castificantes animas nostras in oboedentia veritatis.” Obedience to the truth must “purify” our souls and thus guide us to upright speech and upright action. In other words, speaking in the hope of being applauded, governed by what people want to hear out of obedience to the dictatorship of current opinion, is considered to be a sort of prostitution: of words and of the soul. The “purity” to which the Apostle Peter is referring means not submitting to these standards, not seeking applause, but rather, seeking obedience to the truth. And I think that this is the fundamental virtue for the theologian, this discipline of obedience to the truth, which makes us, although it may be hard, collaborators of the truth, mouthpieces of truth, for it is not we who speak in today's river of words, but it is the truth which speaks in us, who are really purified and made chaste by obedience to the truth. So it is that we can truly be harbingers of the truth.

Benedict concludes his homily with these words:

“He who hears you, hears me.” What an admonition! What an examination of conscience those words are! Is it true that those who hear me are really listening to the Lord? Let us work and pray so that it may be ever more true that those who hear us hear Christ. Amen!

+ Carlo Maria Viganò

 

Translation from the Italian by Diane Montagna of LifeSiteNews.

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Fr. Mark Goring. Fr. Mark Goring / YouTube
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Catholic priest speaks out against ‘pagan rituals’ at Vatican: We must ‘preach Jesus’

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By Martin Barillas

October 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic priest is coming out strongly in favor of the Church’s traditional approach to evangelization in the wake of a controversial ritual held in the Vatican gardens before the Amazon Synod that many have characterized as “pagan.”

In a four-minute video posted to YouTube on Sunday, Fr. Mark Goring of Ottawa said he would not follow those who believe that evangelization involves joining in pagan ceremonies.

The video earned an endorsement from Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, who has shared his own warnings and criticisms about the controversial meeting of bishops. The bishop tweeted: “I nominate Fr Mark Goring to speak to all gathered at the Synod.....I fully endorse his message.”

In his video, titled “Amazon synod and pagan rituals,” Goring said, “I believe that as a Catholic priest, I have the right to choose my own approach to evangelization.” Holding up a Bible, he added, “So long as it is with the word of God and the traditions, the teachings of the Church, I can evangelize.”

Fr. Goring is a Canadian member of the Companions of the Cross religious congregation. He is a former director of the Catholic Charismatic Center in Texas and is now the pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Ottawa, Canada.

“I don’t have to go along with those who say we have to dialogue with the pagans, that we have to accompany the pagans in their pagan rituals,” Goring said. “Like the Pentecostals and the evangelicals do in the Amazonian area, they go in there with their Bibles and they proclaim fervently and with love that God so loved the world that he gave His only-begotten Son. The evangelicals and the Pentecostals, we can criticize them all we want, and I know that their approach and their theology isn’t perfect.”

Holding up a Bible again, he said, “But they get one thing right: they preach Jesus. They don’t dialogue with the pagans. They don’t accompany the pagans in their pagan rituals.”

On Friday, Pope Francis again stirred controversy by participating in a ceremony that included pagan elements. He consecrated the Amazon Synod to the memory of St. Francis of Assisi while leaders of various Amazonian peoples offered prayers for the Earth. A tree that had been brought from Assisi was planted ceremoniously during the event. The pope observed while a man went to his knees and appeared to kiss a mound of dirt. Discarding his prepared remarks, the pope then recited the Lord’s Prayer as the other participants gathered in a circle. The garden event was organized by the Order of Franciscan Friars Minor, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, and the leftist Global Catholic Climate Movement. The Global Catholic Climate Movement serves to “coordinate Catholic engagement in the Paris Agreement” and promote “Climate Strikes” and “fossil fuel divestment” to youths. After the event, participants were seen kneeling and bowing to statues that appeared to depict pregnant women or Mother Earth.

According to Vatican News, “various religious congregations and representatives of the indigenous people of the Amazon Region played important roles in providing colour and creativity” for the tree-planting ceremony.

Signaling his discomfort with the Amazon Synod, Bishop Strickland tweeted earlier that he prayed that “all bishops gathered will remember their sacred duty to guard” the Catholic faith. “Jesus Christ is God’s Son & the savior of all humanity His Gospel can not be diminished. He must increase, we must decrease.”

Catholic writer Christopher Manion retweeted the bishop’s comment and wrote: “Amen, brother. For 40 years, evangelicals have told Latin Americans, ‘Catholics preach politics, we preach the Bible!’ Of course, that [has] been true in the United States as well — and throughout the hemisphere, tens of millions of Catholics have left the pews. Heckuva job.”

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Dr. Ben Carson shutterstock.com
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Dems: Ben Carson is ‘transphobic’ for trying to keep men out of women’s shelters

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By Doug Mainwaring

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A pair of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives has introduced a resolution condemning what they say is the “transphobic history” of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Dr. Ben Carson.

Reps. Mike Quigley of Illinois and Katie Hill of California, the only self-declared “bisexual” in the U.S. House, acted in response to comments that Dr. Carson made to HUD employees in San Francisco expressing concern about “big, hairy men” pretending to be female in order to infiltrate women’s homeless shelters.

The HUD Secretary also reportedly said that society could no longer differentiate between men and women.

“I made reference to the fact that I had heard from many women’s groups about the difficulty they were having with women’s shelters because sometimes men would claim to be women, and that HUD’s policy required the shelter to accept — without question — the word of whoever came in,” Carson wrote in response to criticism of his comments.

“This made many of the women feel unsafe, and one of the groups described a situation to me in which ‘big hairy men’ would come in and have to be accepted into the women’s shelter even though it made the women in the facility very uncomfortable,” continued Dr. Carson. 

“At a minimum, he owes an apology to the staff he subjected to his bigoted remarks, to trans individuals around the country, and to the entire LGBT community,” Rep. Quigley told NBC News. “It is clearer than ever that Secretary Carson’s bigoted views make him unfit to lead HUD and the record must reflect that this Congress does not condone such intolerance.”

“Secretary Carson’s comments were hurtful, bigoted, and do not represent the feelings of this Congress, which has a historically large and diverse LGBT Equality Caucus, or the American people,” said Rep. Hill. 

The backlash against Dr. Carson’s comments suggesting that men do not belong in women’s shelters – where they often seek refuge from abusive men – has been brutal among Democrats, hoping to make political hay by appealing to LGBT groups which often align with progressivism’s furthest ideological fringes.

When 10 of the 22 contenders for the Democrat presidential nomination participated in an LGBT Presidential Forum two weeks ago, most went out of their way to condemn Dr. Carson for his comments and promised that one of their first actions after taking over the Oval Office would be to fire him. 

In their resolution, Reps. Quigley and Hill claim that Dr. Carson’s “statements are incredibly disrespectful and reflect bigoted, outdated thinking that is both offensive” and  that he has “created a divisive and demoralizing atmosphere which does not best serve the American people.” 

The resolution also condemns statements made by Dr. Carson in recent years with which many – if not most – Americans might agree: 

  • In 2015, then-Presidential candidate Carson said, “I do not appreciate using our military as a laboratory for social experimentation. The last thing we need to be doing is saying, ‘What would it be like if we introduced several transgender people into this platoon?’ Give me a break. Deal with the transgender thing somewhere else.”
  • In an interview with the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in 2016, then-Presidential candidate Carson said, “Boys who say, ‘I feel like a girl today, I want to go into the girl’s lavatory’—that is such a bunch of garbage. If we continue to cater to that, where will it lead? Where will it lead us to be? I mean, it’s beyond ridiculous that you take the most abnormal situation and then you make everyone else conform to it...when we start trying to impose the extra rights based on a few people who perhaps are abnormal, where does that lead?”

In an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson shortly after the controversy over his comments in San Francisco erupted, Dr. Carson explained, “I simply pointed out the fact that, you know, we have to have policies that take into consideration everybody’s rights. I say everybody has equal rights; nobody gets extra rights.” 

“I talked about some of the women’s groups who have come to me, and I’ve had many in my office, and they say they are uncomfortable with the policy in existence, which says you must accept a person's designation of their gender regardless of their physical characteristics,” he continued. “What we've decided to do, first of all we’ve upheld the 2012 equal access law; we have no intention of changing that, but in terms of that broad definition of gender being whatever you say it is, we said we're going to leave that to the local jurisdictions.”

“If you have a women's shelter and you’ve been operating well, you get to decide how you're going to run it, the federal government doesn't need to be telling people who is a man and who is a woman,” he declared. “That's a decision they can make by themselves.”

“And I quoted a group that came to me, and they were very upset, and they said, you know, ‘a big hairy man came in here and he says he’s a woman, and that upsets us because many of us are trying to escape that,’” Carson said. “But the political correctness says you have to say what we want you to say, and that will destroy freedom of speech.”

“And I’ve offered transgender groups the opportunity to let me know what their solution would be so that everybody’s rights are observed,” he added. “I haven’t heard one peep.”

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Uruguayan diplomat Luis Almagro is head of the Organization of American States.  Twitter
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Pro-life orgs call on Trump administration to oppose pro-abortion Latin American diplomatic leader

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By Martin Barillas

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) -- U.S. pro-life leaders declared in a jointly-signed letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he should oppose the reappointment of Uruguayan diplomat Luis Almagro as head of the Organization of American States (OAS). 

Almagro is being considered for another term as Secretary General of the OAS, which is a regional forum for diplomatic discussion and action that brings together all of the republics of both North and South America as well as the Caribbean.

The letter stated that Almagro, a socialist and veteran of Uruguay’s leftist government, “has routinely used his position … to advocate for abortion.” It called on Pompeo to withdraw U.S. support for Almagro’s re-election, even though Almagro has supported U.S. regional policy toward Marxist Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. 

Before the 2016 presidential election, Almagro strenuously opposed then-candidate Donald Trump’s policy proposals. When a Mexican newspaper asked Almagro in 2016 about Trump’s perspective on illegal immigration, Almagro said, “We need to eliminate narratives like Donald Trump's." As to how the future president’s policies would affect Latin America, Almagro said "we don't need to worry about the imbecilic comments of Donald Trump."

According to the letter, the “OAS has no mandate under its own charter, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the American Convention of Human Rights or under any resolution adopted by the OAS General Assembly or Permanent Council to promote abortion in the region.”

To the contrary, the letter stated, the American Declaration and the American Convention guarantee the right to life, which according to the latter should be “respected from the moment of conception.” Even before assuming his current role at the OAS, Almagro met with groups in 2015 and declared that “Abortion (among others) ... are issues that need to be taken up by the OAS.”

As further evidence of Almagro’s support for abortion as a human right, the letter declared that he has met numerous times with representatives from International Planned Parenthood Federation, which funds pro-abortion groups throughout the American continents. Almagro granted a “lucrative consulting contract” to Dr. Leonel Briozzo, a pro-abortion gynecologist who was a leader in legalizing abortion in Uruguay and presided over the “Montevideo Consensus” that called for eliminating all pro-life laws throughout the Americas.

Any support for Almagro’s reappointment to his post at the OAS would appear to conflict with President Trump’s pro-life stance, which he underlined in his recent speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations and in his nominations to the federal courts, including the Supree Court.

At the UN last week, Trump said, “Americans will never tire of defending innocent life. We are aware that many United Nations projects have attempted to assert a global right to taxpayer-funded abortion on demand — right up until the moment of delivery. Global bureaucrats have absolutely no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life.”

Moreover, Trump said there exists no global right to abortion and added,  "Like many nations here today, we in America believe that every child, born and unborn, is a sacred gift from God."

Author and former Trump administration official E. Scott Lloyd told LifeSiteNews that Trump’s U.N. speech promises to be “historic.”

According to the recent letter to Secretary Pompeo from pro-life leaders, Almagro’s pro-abortion initiatives are contrary to treaty law. In addition, member states have not given him permission to push abortion. His behavior, read the letter, “puts at risk the legitimacy and authority of the OAS at a time when we need it to be strong and credible to effectively denounce the egregious violations of human rights in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.”

The letter was signed by Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, Jeanne Mancini of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund, Catherine Glenn Foster of Americans United for Life, Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Travis S. Weber of the Family Research Center, among others.

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Jason Kenney at the 'election readiness' convention in Edmonton, Alberta, Feb. 16, 2019. Facebook screen grab
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Family advocates condemn revised Alberta schools law for failing to protect kids, parental rights

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By Lianne Laurence

EDMONTON, Alberta, October 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — It has been three months since Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party passed its new education bill after 40 hours of emotional debate in the Alberta legislature, and amid waves of street demonstrations, union denunciations and student walkouts protesting that the Tories were bent on “outing” LGBTQ kids.

Bill 8, or the Amended Education Act, repealed the NDP’s reviled Bill 24 that forbade schools from telling parents their child had joined a “gay/straight alliance” or GSA.

But longtime pro-family advocates say the UCP law remains an assault on parental rights and fails to protect the vulnerable students it purports to help.

While Bill 8 allows schools the discretion to disclose to parents that their child has joined a GSA, a UCP ministry fact sheet makes its clear that non-disclosure is the default.

“Schools cannot disclose a student’s membership in any inclusion group, as there are student privacy considerations that trump other legislation,” it states. 

The “rare” exception is when such a disclosure “is justified if a student is at risk of harm.”

“They didn’t take out all of the secrecy thing, so kids can still go to GSAs or whatever without parental knowledge,” says Dr. Gerry Prince, who battled Bill 24 at the Medicine Hat Public School Division.

But not only do parents have the right know what is happening with their children at school, “the reality is parents are generally the kid’s best advocate, unless they’ve been proven to be incompetent or untrustworthy, or there’s a real suspicion that disclosing the information would put the child in harm’s way, and that’s not the majority of parents,” Prince told LifeSiteNews.

Bill 8’s non-disclosure default policy on GSAs is also a “loophole” to the UCP’s mandate that “parents would be notified when there’s any sexual content going to be dealt with at the schools in the classrooms, which is good,” he said.

“Now you have a club where you can go and get all sorts of sexuality education or miseducation, and the parents have no way of knowing about it,” Prince pointed out.

Potential danger to students

There’s also concern for “the safety of the children” involved in the clubs, he said.

“These GSAs have no structure around them, so there is no requirement that these be professional people, that they be certified counselors, that they be anything of the sort,” Prince told LifeSiteNews.

“These can be just people from the gay community, or special interest groups that are promoting their own lifestyles, and there are no protection for kids in that kind of situation,” he added.

“To legislate that those clubs can exist without any structure or quality control or safeguards around them is a potential danger,” he said.

Indeed, shocking testimony during a constitutional challenge to Bill 24 revealed that without their parents’ knowledge, students were taken to GSAs off school property and given graphic and sexually explicit material on how to have “gay” sex, as the Calgary Herald’s Licia Corbella and LifeSiteNews reported at the time. (The Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms withdrew its court challenge after Bill 24’s repeal.)

Such scenarios are possible under the current legislation, as is the possibility that a five-year-old could start identifying as the opposite sex at school with the encouragement of teachers and without parents knowing, Prince contends.

“I think nobody wants to deny a kid who’s having troubles the resources they need for help, so a kid is struggling with gender issues or whatever issues should be able to get that help,” he said.

“The competing interest is the parents’ right to know where their kids are, who they’re with, and what they’re doing, and I think that’s a fundamental right. The schools do not have the right to supplant that.”

‘Insane and abusive’ guidelines for best practice

Moreover, the NDP-mandated “safe and caring school policies” remain in full force in most public school districts despite Bill 24’s repeal, says Jeremy Williamson, who took the Medicine Hat Public School District to court in 2017 over its ‘safe and caring policy.”

The father of two school-aged children, Williamson described these policies in a Facebook post as “insane, abusive, and destructive” and “a cover name for the repugnant affirmation of children into transgenderism, reproductive sterilization, and genital mutilation, as well as board overreach.”

Most public board based the policies on the 2016 “Guidelines for Best Practice: Creating Learning Environments that Respect Diverse Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Gender Expressions,” which “had a number of very alarming things in them, including gender affirmation in children with no age restriction,” he told LifeSiteNews.

The GBP was denounced by four of Alberta’s Catholic bishops and excoriated by two medical professors as “incredibly misguided,” “reckless,” and “dangerous” to students.

It’s listed as a chief resource on Alberta Education’s “Welcoming, care, respectful and safe schools” webpage.

The document says teachers must affirm a sexually confused student in his or her chosen gender identity, including calling them by their preferred pronouns such as  “ze,” “zir,” “hir.”

“No student or family should be referred to programs which purport to “fix,” “change” or “repair” a student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” it states.

The guidelines also state that “in keeping with the principles of self-identification, it is important to protect a student’s personal information and privacy, including, where possible, having a student’s explicit permission before disclosing information related to the student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression to peers, parents, guardians or other adults in their lives.”

“The Guidelines to Best Practices needs to be pulled, and recognized as an inappropriate document, and the ‘safe and caring policies’ need to be revisited in every school district, because they’re neither safe nor caring,” Williamson told LifeSiteNews.

The UCP made “a lot of fanfare about Education Act,” but “they’ve done nothing” to stop the promotion of gender ideology in the schools, he said. “All parents are concerned with this because this is a denial of truth, it’s a denial of reality.” 

LifeSiteNews contacted the office of Education Minister Adriana LaGrange for comment but did not receive a response.

To express your concerns, write:

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange
Constituency Office
#202, 5913 - 50 Avenue
Red Deer, AB
Canada T4N 4C4
Phone: 403.342.2263
Email:[email protected]

Legislature Office
228 Legislature Building
0800 - 97 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB
Canada T5K 2B6
Phone: 780.427.5010

——-

Some Alberta school board policies around 'sexual orientation and gender identity'

Medicine Hat Public School District 614 P001 policy on “administrative procedure: Sexual orientation and gender identity” states that principals must “ensure staff will not refer students to programs or services that attempt to change or repair a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity” and “ensure all staff recognize the confidentiality of the sexual orientation and gender identity of all students and protect them from unwanted disclosure of such.”

Calgary Board of Education’s FAQ for parents states: “Students are entitled to the protection of their personal information, including their gender identity and sexual orientation. Some LGBTQ students are not open about their sexual or gender identity. Given the sensitivity related to one’s gender identity and sexual orientation, if a student discloses that they are LGBTQ to a CBE staff member, that information will be held in confidence and not shared without the students’ permission.”

Edmonton Public Schools Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity policy likewise states in part that principals will “ensure staff will not refer students to programs or services that attempt to change or repair a student's sexual orientation or gender identity” and “ensure all staff recognize the confidentiality of the sexual orientation and gender identity of all students and protect them from unwanted disclosure of such information.”

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Bishops Joseph Strickland (R) and Michael Sheridan (L) on EWTN’s the World Over with Raymond Arroyo, Oct. 3, 2019 EWTN / Youtube
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‘I don’t see it:’ Two US bishops respond to charges of American ‘schism’

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By Martin Barillas

WASHINGTON D.C. October 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) -- EWTN news host Raymond Arroyo asked U.S. Bishops Michael Sheridan and Joseph Strickland in a joint interview last week about whether U.S. Catholics who are troubled by Pope Francis’ teachings and statements are schismatics or part of a “plot” to “get” the pope.

Regarding accusations by Rev. Antonio Spadaro that some American Catholics are fomenting schism in the Church, Bishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas said, “I don’t see it.”

“I see people of real committed faith in the Real Presence — those who believe that the bread and wine truly becomes the Body and Blood of Christ — it’s those people who are concerned and asking, and saying ‘Give us the truth of Christ clearly.’ All this confusion isn’t helpful for them, for their children, for their grandchildren. So I’d say, absolutely, the reality is to live Jesus Christ. Everything else really falls by the wayside, as it has through the centuries – if it is not of Christ, it won’t last,” he said.

Strickland, an outspoken defender of traditional Catholic teachings who frequently uses social media to proclaim its truths, said that Catholics in his rural diocese are seeking answers about the “solid deposit-of-faith truth.” He believes that Pope Francis is dealing with a number of “influences” that “dilute his message sometimes and also confuse people about what the truth really is.” 

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

While there are no faithful Catholics that he knows in his diocese who are “anti-Pope Francis,” Strickland said, “they are seeking to follow Christ with many who are ignoring the message of Jesus Christ. So, those are the most faithful people. They love the Pope, they love the papacy, they love the Church, they love Jesus Christ, and are concerned at some of the confusion that so many around Pope Francis are promulgating.”

Bishop Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Colorado agreed that many people are confused by some of the Pope’s teachings and “off the cuff remarks.” Sheridan serves on the Committee on Education of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and on the Board of Governors of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, and the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services.

When he was asked how the Pope’s remarks should be interpreted, he said that they must be seen in the light of tradition and the Magisterium. “If there is confusion, you know where to go. And they do,” Sheridan said.

Amazon synod: ordaining married men

Arroyo asked the pair of bishops questions about the Amazon Synod which is now currently underway in Rome. In the Instrumentum Laboris -- the preparatory document for the synod -- the prospect of ordaining “viri probati” -- mature married men -- to the priesthood is raised, as well as how to respond to the specific needs of the Amazonian region of South America. Critics of the document and the synod have raised concerns about whether the synod could foreshadow great changes in the Catholic Church, which in the Latin rite has had celibate priests for centuries. The influence of certain German bishops and advocates of the so-called Theology of Liberation has also been noted by critics.

When Arroyo asked whether priestly celibacy should be optional, Bishop Sheridan responded: “I don't believe it should be optional, Raymond. I don’t think our recent popes who have spoken about this would think so either. In fact, if I'm correct, Pope Francis has said that optional celibacy is not what this synod is about. But I think that this idea of ordaining viri probati just to be 'Mass' priests is, to me, a strange thing. It separates the three-fold office of the priesthood out and simply makes them 'Mass' priests. I understand the reason behind it. But it seems to make more sense if we tried to evangelize that region of South America so that priests could be raised up from that population."

Arroyo pointed out that there are married priests in the Anglican Ordinariate and Eastern rites of the Church, and asked for Bishop Strickland’s reaction to the “novelty” of married priests in the Latin rite of the Church. 

Strickland agreed with Bishop Sheridan that evangelization is needed in the Amazonian region to encourage vocations to the priesthood, but he also said that “we need celibate clergy in the history of the Church, in this age, more than ever because we need that counter-sign to a culture that says that the lifestyle of a committed, chaste, celibate priest doesn’t make sense.”  

Strickland insisted, “It makes absolute sense for humanity. To lose that, even for a portion of the Church, I think is a diminishing of what evangelization is about.” 

Arroyo recalled the Vatican decisions that allowed female altar servers, Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, and distribution of Holy Communion in the hand, have since become widespread. Despite explanations that married priests would be limited to the Amazonia region, Arroyo asked Strickland whether the practice might actually become universal. Strickland said he fears that if married priests are approved for that region, other regions would appeal for the same. 

“To bring the light of the Gospel,” to Amazonia, said Strickland, “is always the answer,” adding that Amazonia has its challenges like anywhere else. “Let’s not change it to adapt it. Let’s bring the fullness of the light to them.”

Strickland agreed with Germam Cardinal Gerhard Muller, the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that the prohibition of a female priesthood stated by St. John Paul II is indeed “dogmatic,” even while he praised the “complementarity” of the role of women in the Church. 

Arroyo noted the influence of German prelates in the preparations for the Amazon synod and that, while Pope Francis has gone on the record in opposition to female ordination, he appears to be overshadowed. Sheridan said that it is one of the strangest things he has seen in 50 years, noting that some of the German bishops have actually opposed the Pope on the issue.

“I don’t know what this is going to come to, but I fear for it,” Sheridan said. 

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Argentinian theologian Victor Manuel Fernández
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Francis-appointed bishop urges Catholics not to oppose violent feminists who attack churches, defends feminists

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By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
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A gang of radical feminists attempted to set fire to the metropolitan Catholic cathedral in Mexico City.
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A man holding a Vatican City flag was pursued by protesters at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on International Women's Day. C5N screenshot

October 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The archbishop of La Plata, Argentina, appointed by Pope Francis in 2018, is urging his flock not to counter-protest or defend local churches from a group of violent, pro-abortion feminists that attack Catholic churches every year during their national annual meeting.

In an article recently published by the Argentinean newspaper La Nación, Archbishop Victor Manuel “Tucho” Fernández told his flock not to do anything that could be interpreted as “resistance” to the tens of thousands of feminists who will come to the National Women’s Encounter in La Plata.

In particular, he does not wish them to defend local Catholic churches, which the feminists often attempt to set on fire, spray-paint with graffiti, or otherwise damage. He also asked Catholic women to confine their expressions of opinion to the “workshops” held by the rabidly anti-Christian feminists, or to stay at home and pray.

“I ask all Catholics to avoid any form of verbal aggression and any initiative that ends up being provocative,” wrote Fernández. “Catholic women can give their opinion in the workshops (of the feminists), or just pray at home. But during this time it’s not appropriate to engage in activities that, with the excuse of protecting churches, can be interpreted as a Christian ‘resistance.’”

“Those who protect the churches and other places will be government agencies that are organized to preserve public order,” added Fernández. “As archbishop of La Plata, I have made the commitment to seek to avoid any act, mobilization or expression that appears to be a counter-offensive, which would useless, ineffective, and imprudent.”

However, local police are often loath to intervene to prevent the violent behavior of the feminists, who seem to carry out their acts of vandalism and destruction with impunity, year after year, in different Argentinean cities. In previous years, Catholic laity have gathered around churches to defend them from the attackers, and have been attacked themselves by feminists screaming obscenities and hurling objects at them.

Archbishop dismisses concerns regarding violence, defends feminist agenda

The archbishop is dismissing concerns that the feminists, who rampage through the streets and attempt to set fire to churches and other buildings each year, would repeat the same behavior this year in his archdiocese, where they will be holding their annual meeting. He claimed that not all are pro-abortion, and defended their feminist agenda, calling their anger “understandable” in light of the “centuries of oppression” of women.

“There are people who are afraid, including members of the police forces, politicians and neighbors, as if a horde seeking vengeance and destruction were coming,” wrote Fernández in La Nación. “But they are women, of many colors, with different ways of defending their rights, and also with differences between them. What unifies them is the dream of a true equality, and their anger is understandable when we remember history, centuries of oppression, of humiliation, of dominating machismo, of violence.”

“Sometimes their reprimands are concentrated against the Church, which needs to be self-critical with regard to this subject, as it does in countless others,” Fernández added, accusing the Catholic Church of tolerating slavery and injustices against the indigenous of Latin America.

He then cited the example of Fray Bartolome de las Casas, a 16th century Catholic priest and favorite of socialist “liberation theologians” who defended the indigenous against abuses, and quoted the Marxist and atheist poet Pablo Neruda in his favor.

The archbishop recognizes that “It’s being said online that they are promising to burn and destroy,” but states that he is “sure that that majority wants to make itself heard peacefully, vindicating their legitimate right to protest. Those who want to cause damage and destroy do not represent the rest nor the great majority of the society.”

Long record of anti-Catholic violence, obscenity, and vandalism by feminist group

The feminists of the National Women’s Encounter and groups associated with the annual  March for Women in Argentina have established a long and consistent record of anti-Catholic violence in cities where their meetings are held.

Earlier this year, at the annual March for Woman, berserk feminists threw gasoline bombs, paint bombs and rocks at Catholic churches.

In 2018, demonstrators from the National Women’s Encounter sought to set on fire the municipal building of Trelew in the province of Chubut, and spray-painted a Catholic church.

In 2017, crazed feminists from National Women’s Encounter attacked the cathedral church of the city of Resistencia, trying to set the doors on fire with burning trash, and pelting the building with paint, reddened tampons, and rocks, damaging a statue of the Virgin Mary. They spray-painted other buildings with such slogans as "Kill your father, your boyfriend, and your brother,” “Burn the pope,” “Abuser priests,” “Abort males,” “Death to males,” and “Kill your rapist.”

Also in 2017, feminists from the International Women’s Day march tried to burn the cathedral in Buenos Aires, where they also assaulted a lone man who was defending the structure, and spray-painted at least one government building.

In 2015, the National March for Women marchers tore down the outer gate of the cathedral of Mar de Plata, and threw glass bottles and excrement at the Catholics standing guard around the structure. The police finally intervened when they tried to set the cathedral on fire.

In recent years, the Argentinean feminists have sought to export their methods of protests to other countries, including Spain, Uruguay, and Mexico.

In Mexico, during August and September, several violent feminist protests were held in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and other major cities. Although the number of feminists involved was much less than in Argentina, the women attempted to set at least two buildings on fire in Mexico City, including the national cathedral, where they tried to burn the gates protecting the building.

Archbishop 'Tucho' Fernández famous for 'ghostwriting' Amoris laetitia

Archbishop Fernández , a close personal friend and adviser of Pope Francis, is believed to be the inspiration of key passages in Pope Francis' encyclical letter Amoris laetitia, which is accused of teaching heresy regarding second “marriages” of couples already sacramentally married to someone else, and of seeking to justify giving communion to such couples. As a result, he has been called “the pope’s ghostwriter.”

Fernández is also famous for his authorship of a highly suggestive and sensual book called “Healing with your mouth: The art of kissing.”

He was named Archbishop of La Plata by Pope Francis in 2018, in a sudden move in which the previous archbishop, a conservative prelate named Héctor Aguer who is reputed not to have Francis’ favor, was suddenly removed from office and ordered to leave the archdiocese immediately so that Fernández could replace him.

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Representatives from Canada’s Federal Parties for the ‘Federal Election Debate from a Catholic Perspective’ event held at the John Bassett Theatre in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Oct. 3, 2019. Archdiocese of Toronto / Youtube
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WATCH: Unborn babies have no champion in Canada’s upcoming federal election

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By Lianne Laurence

TORONTO, October 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — When it comes to the non-negotiable issue of abortion, there’s no reason Catholics should vote for any of Canada’s major parties in the October 21 federal election. 

That was the takeaway from last week’s “election debate from a Catholic perspective” sponsored by the Toronto archdiocese. 

Veteran news broadcaster Don Newman, who moderated the Oct. 3 debate, put the point bluntly after Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green, and Peoples’ Party of Canada candidates answered the question: What would their parties do to protect human life from conception to natural death?

“Abortion is really, probably, I would say the single biggest issue for most Catholics,” Newman observed.

“You haven’t given much comfort to the Catholics in the room. And I’m wondering why then any of them should be voting for you. Any of you,” he added.

The remark was met by cheers, whistles and applause from the more than 1,000 people who packed the John Bassett Theatre.

The grim situation on abortion in Canada was summed up by Liberal Party candidate Francesco Sorbara: “Every party has taken the same position on that. From my understanding, no party will be reopening the debate on a woman’s right to choose in Canada.”

Although the Liberal Party is well-known as officially pro-abortion, Sorbara, a Catholic and member of the Knights of Columbus, took it one step further: “When it comes to women’s reproductive rights, I personally support a woman’s right to choose.” 

Alberta Conservative MP Garnett Genuis likewise reiterated his leader Andrew Scheer’s position that a Conservative government would not reopen the abortion debate. 

But Genuis came under fire when he attempted to clarify whether Scheer would allow backbench bills on abortion to get to the floor of the House.

The People’s Party of Canada candidate David Millard Haskell argued that his was “the sole party” that “allows its candidates and future MPs to openly discuss and bring forward legislation on any issue of concern to Canadians, including abortion and euthanasia.”

His PPC colleagues in Red Deer, Alberta, have drafted “legislation to end third-trimester abortion and they will bring it forward as a private member’s bill,” he added, to a burst of applause and cheers.

Tory leader Scheer has “mimicked” Trudeau and “repeatedly insisted he will ‘oppose’ any attempt by his social conservative backbenchers to reopen the abortion file,” Millard Haskell said.

The “federal Conservative Party, at one time the protector of conservative values, has abandoned those values completely,” the PPC candidate for Cambridge-North Dumfries said.

Genuis argued, however, that Tory Members of Parliament “can be pro-life, can speak about being pro-life, can speak at the March for Life, can express their points of view.”

But would Scheer allow his MPs to actually bring a pro-life private member’s bill to the floor of the house, asked Newman.

“I thought,” said the moderator, that Scheer “would allow private members bills on abortion, but he wouldn’t allow them to come to a vote in the House of Commons, which is kind of like having your cake and eating it too.” 

Genuis flatly denied this was the case, and Newman asked him if Conservative MPs could introduce a private member’s bill on abortion and if it made it the floor of the House, would there be a free vote.

“Our party policy has been clear, and our leader has been clear,” Genuis said. “There will be a free vote for every member of our caucus if that issue is ever, as has always been the case.” 

Sorbara asked Genuis if he was saying the Tories “would reopen the abortion debate in Canada, yes or no?”

“Our leader has been clear that a Conservative government will not reopen the issue and that individual Members of Parliament would have their freedom of conscience protected. I think that’s very clear,” replied Genuis.

Campaign Life Coalition president Jeff Gunnarson, who attended the debate, says Scheer has been clear he will ensure no pro-life private member’s bill will reach the House.

“They’re speaking doublespeak in order to confuse social conservatives into voting for them, thinking they’re pro-life,” he said. “They’re pro-life, but they will check that at the door, and it will not enter that House of Commons.”

Campaign Life advises people to vote for the candidate who is openly pro-life, irrespective of party affiliation, Gunnarson said.

As for the debate, Millard Haskell “was the most honest, the most forthright on our issues,” Gunnarson said. Moreover, Millard Haskell got the loudest cheers and applause of the night during the discussion on religious persecution when he warned against political correctness, Gunnarson told LifeSiteNews.

“What kind of bizarre idea is it that every other faith can speak its name but Christianity can’t? And this is a problem that not just hurts us here but hurts Christians worldwide,” Millard Haskell had said during the debate.

“We need to be able to speak the name of Jesus, we need to be able to speak the name of Christianity, and we need to be able to address these problems head on.”

Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, started off the evening by speaking about St. Thomas More, pointing out the one-time Chancellor of England did not separate his personal beliefs from his public life.

The format for the debate on Catholic election perspectives gave equal time to right-to-life issues, poverty, religious persecution, immigration and refugees, and the environment.

Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI consistently taught that abortion is the most crucial moral issue of the day. 

Benedict reiterated often that protection of human life from conception until natural death is a non-negotiable principle for Catholics in their engagement in public life.

John Paul II also repeatedly emphasized that opposing attacks on the sanctity of human life takes precedence over other endeavors, noting in Christifideles Laici that the outcry for human rights “is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination."

To watch the entire debate, go here.

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Charlie Evans, founder of The Detransition Advocacy Network Sky News / screenshot
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Ex-transgender starts ‘detransitioning’ advocacy group: ‘I felt I had to do something’

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By Doug Mainwaring

UNITED KINGDOM, October 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A young woman who has rejected her former transgender identity as a male has launched a group called “The Detransition Advocacy Network” in order to help the hundreds of young individuals she says have reached out to her after experiencing regret after undergoing hormonal treatements and surgical procedures.   

“I'm in communication with 19 and 20-year-olds who have had full gender reassignment surgery who wish they hadn't, and their dysphoria hasn't been relieved, they don't feel better for it,” Charlie Evans told Sky News. “They don't know what their options are now.”

Evans, age 28, who “detransitioned” after having identified as a male for 10 years, said she has been stunned by the sheer number of people who have reached out to her after she went public with her story last year.  

While mainstream media frequently report stories about young people and even toddlers beginning a journey to medically “transtion” to the oposite sex, the growing numbers of those who later experience deep regret is unknown because their stories are suppressed and sociologists – fearful of the backlash they might reap from from the world of academia – have yet to conduct any meaningful research into this burgeoning phenomena.   

Evans explained that she was motivated to start the new group when a young girl sporting a beard approached her after she had given a speech, and told her that she too had “detransitioned.”  

“She said she felt shunned by the LGBT community for being a traitor. So I felt I had to do something,” said Evans.

Sky News interviewed “Ruby,” age 21, one of the young people who had reached out to Evans for help.  

After having taken testosterone, her body had undergone significant changes, including a lower voice and growing facial hair. Although she had planned to have her breasts surgically removed this summer, she began to experience doubts.  

“I didn’t think any change was going to be enough in the end and I thought it was better to work on changing how I felt about myself, than changing my body,” Ruby told Sky News.   

“I've seen similarities in the way I experience gender dysphoria, in the way I experience other body image issues,” she said. 

Ruby said she realized that doctors and therapists had neglected to take into account her pre-existing eating disorder, which she felt probably played a role in triggering her desire to “transition.”   

“When I was at my gender clinic to get referred for hormones, we had a session where I went over my mental health issues and I told them about my eating disorder and they didn't suggest that that could [maybe be] connected with my gender dysphoria,” she said.

“For everyone who has gender dysphoria, whether they are trans or not, I want there to be more options for us because I think there is a system of saying, ‘okay here's your hormones, here's your surgery, off you go,’” she explained to Sky News.  

“I don't think that's helpful for anyone,” she added. 

Former transgender: ‘Regret’ and ‘detransitioning’ are the new trans frontier

Charlie Evans and “Ruby” attest to what activist Walt Heyer has been explaining for many years. Heyer is a former transgender who runs a global outreach to those who experience sex change regret.    

“The science of surgical interventions is not yet settled regarding the long term consequences of transgender therapy,” noted Heyer at a 2017 Symposium at the University of Hong Kong. “As of today, we don’t have any objective, conclusive research.”  

“I feel ‘regret’ and ‘detransitioning’ will become the next transgender frontier,” said Heyer. “So be prepared.” 

“There is an ever-increasing number of former transgenders, like myself, who are now requesting gender reversals,” he said.

Contagion and comorbid conditions 

“As a former ‘female’ transgender, I can see the exploding social trend that has developed into a significant transgender contagion – now even an epidemic – that has captivated yong children as well as young adults who have come to believe they’re the opposite sex on just the weight of social media and feelings … in some cases taking drastic measures to change their bodies,” said Heyer.

“More and more, I get reports from families telling me that their teen children suddenly came out as a transgender without any prior history of discomfort with their biological sex,” said Heyer, describing what has come to be called “rapid onset gender dysphoria.”  

“Current psychotherapeutic practice involves the immediate affirmation of the young person’s self-diagnosis,” he lamented.

Heyer explained that many surgically transformed men and women suffer from a complex number of sexual, emotional, psychiatric, and psychological comorbid disorders, such as autogynephilia, dissociative disorders like schizophrenia, body dysmorphic disorder, and a host of other undiagnosed disorders that were not resolved by the recommended therapy of changing genders. 

Heyer, speaking from his own experience, explained that if such disorders were considered and treated adequately, sexual transitioning would probably be greatly reduced. The role of these “comorbid” conditions tends to surface later, as trans individuals begin to question their decision to try to “transition” to the opposite sex.  

“We find this out from the ‘regretters,’” said Heyer. “We don’t find it out early on. We find it out afterward when they’re seeking help … and we find out that these comorbid disorders existed early on.” 

Heyer is one of nine ex-transgender individuals who recently filed an amicus brief with the Unites States Supreme Court warning that affirming transgenderism is an abusive, destructive lie: 

The proponents of gender identity theory tell parents, schools, medical professionals, and all other members of society that they must support and affirm one’s transgender journey to prevent the person from attempting suicide. However, it is an open question scientifically whether supporting a one’s desire to appear as the opposite sex adds stress rather than reducing it. Amici argue this approach undeniably made things worse in their cases. Pretending that a person actually is a person of the opposite sex is not likely to benefit anyone and is more likely to cause harm. The risk that gender-affirmation treatments might ultimately harm, rather than help, troubled students cannot be dismissed without evidence.

People are encouraged, affirmed and assisted in “coming out” as transgendered, often without one word about the dangers of that path. Today, the politically correct response expected from adults, especially parents, is to affirm children and adults in their desired gender. But affirmation gives people false hope that they can really become a different sex. It is a lie—a lie told with compassionate motives, but a lie nonetheless. Lying is not compassion.

Lying to people hurts them. For a vulnerable person, pursuing a dream that is physically impossible to achieve can lead to depression, and depression is the leading cause of attempted suicide. This may help explain some of the startling suicide rates among those identifying as transgender.

It is important to tell people the truth and stop pretending. We need to stop pretending that doctors have scientific backing for their recommendations for individuals with gender dysphoria.

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Pope Francis creates 13 new cardinals

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean
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Cardinal Guixot

VATICAN CITY, October 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Loud cheers greeted one of the 13 bishops elevated to the College of Cardinals on Saturday afternoon. 

Fans of Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, 59, the Archbishop of Kinshasa, enlivened an otherwise solemn Consistory in which bishops from around the world received their red hats from Pope Francis. 

Many Congolese women present at the ceremony wore colorful dresses emblazoned with Besungu’s image, and crowds cheered when the cardinal elect appeared in St. Peter’s Basilica.

When Besungu received his red hat, the Congolese among the congregation cheered again and waved flags vigorously ― even from a press box hovering over the assembled bishops.   

The other twelve cardinals elect at the ceremony were Michael Czerny, SJ, 73, of Canada; Michael Fitzgerald, 82, of England; Álvero Ramazzini Imeri, 72, the Bishop of Huehuetenango, Guatemala; Cristóbal López Romero, S.D.B., 64, the Spanish-born Archbishop of Rabat, Morocco; Eugenio dal Corso, 80, the Italian Bishop Emeritus of Benguela; Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, 69, the Archbishop of Jakarta; Jean-Claude Hollerich, 61, the Archbishop of Luxembourg; José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça, 53, of Portugal; Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez, 71, the Archbishop of Havana; Matteo Zuppi, 63, the Archbishop of Bologna; Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, 67, of Spain; and Sigitas Tamkevicius, 81, the Archbishop Emeritus of Kaunas, Lithuania.    

Having attained the age of 80, Cardinals Fitzgerald, Dal Corso, and Tamkevicius are too old to vote in any future conclave. 

The celebration, which was conducted partly in Latin, ended with the choir and congregation singing “Salve Regina.” 

After the celebration in St. Peter’s, Pope Francis and the new cardinals took a bus to the Mater Ecclesia Monastery for a meeting with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said that Benedict reminded the cardinals of the “value of fidelity to the Pope,” and then “together with Pope Francis,” gave them a blessing. 

Pope Francis then went home to the Casa Santa Marta, and the new cardinals were taken to the Paul VI Hall and the Apostolic Palace for the “Courtesy Visits.” During these audiences, the press had the opportunity to greet and photograph the new cardinals before their guests arrived.   

According to Vatican News, the choice of cardinals, eight of whom belong to religious orders, reflects the “missionary vocation of the Church.” However, it also seems to reflect Pope Francis’ interest in migration, Latin America, and interreligious dialogue with Islam. 

Connections to Fr. Martin, pro-abortion nun, Abu Dhabi statement

Three of the new cardinals have critics wondering about their orthodoxy. 

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, the Archbishop of Bologna, is a well-known “street priest” well-liked for his support for the cause of migrants, the elderly, gypsies, and drug addicts, and the peacemaking Community of Sant’Egidio. News that Zuppi would be getting a red hat caused the Italian Left to cry, “We have a Cardinal!” Meanwhile,  Zuppi contributed an essay to the Italian edition of Fr. James Martin’s Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, a collaboration Fr. Martin has publicized. 

However, according to Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register, Archbishop Zuppi’s supporters have said “that his position is more nuanced than Father Martin has made it out to be … and that while the archbishop calls for a more sensitive pastoral approach in his foreword, he reasserts the Church’s teaching on the issue and calls faithfully Catholic outreach groups such as Courage ‘instructive.’”

Cardinal José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça is an award-winning Portugese poet and essayist. He was appointed Vatican Archivist and Librarian to the Holy See by Pope Francis in 2018. But he too is a controversial figure, having written the introduction to a book on feminist theology by Benedictine Sister Maria Teresa Forcades. Labelled as “Europe’s most radical nun” by the BBC, Sister Forcades is known for promoting “queer theology” and supporting abortion and the morning-after pill. 

Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot belongs to the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus. He is a renowed expert on Islam and was appointed President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue by Pope Francis this May.  

Before his appointment as head of the pontifical council, Archbishop Guixot served as president of the Pontifical Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies in Rome. In this role, he was in charge of overseeing the dialogue between the Vatican and the prestigious Al-Azhar mosque and university in Egypt, considered the Vatican of the Sunni Islamic world. Archbishop Ayuso played a key role in drawing up the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” co-signed in early February by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar, in Abu Dhabi.

The document has drawn considerable controversy for stating that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God.” Despite Bishop Athanasius Schneider's appeal to Pope Francis to officially correct the text, last week, the Vatican announced that a “Higher Committee” had been established in the United Arab Emirates to implement the uncorrected document. Members of the seven-member (Catholic and Muslim) commission include Pope Francis’s personal secretary, Fr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, and Archbishop Ayuso Giuxot. 

The other 10 cardinals have not rung the alarm bells of orthodoxy as loudly. 

Cardinal Michael Czerny, SJ, came to Canada as a toddler from Communist-era Czechoslovakia. He is under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He was elevated to the episcopate by Pope Francis on October 4, one day before being created a cardinal.  

Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald is an expert in Christian-Muslim relations, a former apostolic nuncio to Egypt, and also a former President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. 

Cardinal Álvero Ramazzini Imeri, Bishop of Huehuetenango, has been described as “dedicated to the poorest people” of Guatemala “for decades” and “to migrants and indigenous people in particular.” The Diocese of Huehuetenango covers almost 3,000 square miles is situated in Guatemala’s remote north-west.  

Cardinal Cristóbal López Romero, S.D.B., Archbishop of Rabat, is a Salesian who worked and ministered in Paraguay for decades before moving to Morocco in 2003. During Pope Francis’ 2017 visit, he described his Morroccan archdiocese as multicultural, noting that it serves many migrants from farther south in Africa.  

Cardinal Eugenio dal Corso belongs to the congregation of the Poor Servants of the Divine and ministered in both Argentina and Angola. In Angolo, Dal Corso served as the Provincial Superior of his order, then as Bishop of Saurimo and finally as Bishop of Benguela. He retired from the latter post at the age of 78.  

Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, the Archbishop of Jakarta, has spoken up for the rights of Indonesia’s Christian minority and is a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. 

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, Archbishop of Luxembourg, is fervently pro-European Union and was elected president of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) in 2018. 

Cardinal Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez has been the Archbishop of Havana since 2016. He is on the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. 

Cardinal Sigitas Tamkevicius is the Archbishop Emeritus of Kaunas, Lithuania. He was appointed by St. John Paul II in 1996. Persecuted by the Communist authorities in Cold War-era Lithuania, he was arrested in 1983 and sent to prison camps. In 1988 he was exiled to Siberia. He was allowed to return to Lithuania after the political softening that marked the perestroika period under Mikhail Gorbechev.       

Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu has been the Bishop of Kinshasa since November 2018. He has spoken out boldly against political and police violence against Catholics and other pro-democracy protesters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

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Paul Ciarcia

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Sperm donation makes procreation a business where children are bought and sold

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By Paul Ciarcia

October 7, 2019 (American Thinker) — The burgeoning fertility industry treats procreation like a business and human beings like products.

The Washington Post recently featured the story of Danielle Rizzo, a gay woman who conceived two children by purchasing sperm from a donor only to discover that the particular donor may have passed on birth defects to the children:

Rizzo's children, ages 7 and 6, were at the center of one of the most ethically complex legal cases in the modern-day fertility industry. Three years ago, while researching treatment options for her sons, Rizzo says she made an extraordinary discovery: The boys are part of an autism cluster involving at least a dozen children scattered across the United States, Canada and Europe, all conceived with sperm from the same donor. Many of the children have secondary diagnoses of ADHD, dyslexia, mood disorders, epilepsy and other developmental and learning disabilities.

In the eyes of the law, every contract carries with it an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. There must be a meeting of the minds between the parties and due consideration paid. But the transactional principles of contract and consent that govern commerce are woefully ill suited to the realm of family and procreation. 

Sperm banks allowed Rizzo to essentially shop around for her sperm donor. She chose Donor H898, a blond-haired, blue-eyed, 6'1" hunk with a master's degree, described by some women as "hot." The donor reported no serious health problems, though Rizzo contends that he was in fact diagnosed with ADHD and received special schooling for children with learning disabilities.

Such incidents have occurred before. In 2011, one sperm donor was found to have passed on a potentially deadly aortic heart condition to 24 different offspring. In 2012, a Danish man passed on a severe genetic disease to at least five offspring out of the total of forty-three children he splattered throughout Europe to unsuspecting mothers. One such mother told the BBC that the sperm banks "earn a lot of money doing this. And one has a responsibility to make sure that the product, so to speak, is all right."

The product, so to speak, is ultimately a human being.

From the perspective of the law and consumer protection, one can certainly argue that sperm banks need stricter regulation and genetic testing, but that is easier said than done. A comprehensive test of a donor for all heritable genetic diseases is not practical, nor are there available tests for all such conditions that may manifest. As things stand, U.S. law requires testing only for communicable diseases, so any genetic testing is left up to the sperm banks. Recently, a New York City sperm bank faced lawsuits over knowingly selling sperm that was inadequately tested for genetic diseases, potentially affecting thousands of offspring. 

The risks of genetic defects are compounded by the fact that the most popular sperm donors may sometimes father well in excess of 100 children, each of whom may have no idea of his siblings' identities.

Even if adequate testing were possible, where would such testing logically end in weeding out "defective" candidates? The fertility industry faces steep moral pitfalls on both sides of the issue. It obviously must find a way to screen for the dangers of untested donors passing on STDs and heritable diseases. At the same time, screening candidates for any risk of a genetic imperfection presents the inevitable and disconcerting push toward a genetically perfect "designer baby." The more the industry succeeds in pleasing the customer and making the process defect-free, the farther it goes down a road toward eugenics.

The fertility industry allows women to shop for sperm the way they shop for shoes. As the Guardian reported concerning one Australian woman's experience shopping for a sperm donor:

Her fertility center gave her the password to a protected site — the catalogue. It contained a mix of Australian and American men. "Go and have fun with it," the andrologist suggested. "Invite your girlfriends around, have some wine and cheese, and choose a donor."

The concerns over good or bad genetic consequences of sperm donation only serve to highlight the underlying moral ambiguity of subjecting human procreation to the instrumentality of the market. Like in any commercial transaction, a woman who enters into a contract and pays money to the sperm bank is entitled to the benefit of the bargain. But a human life should not be treated like a commodity. It can only be regarded as a gift, not as part of a transaction. Life is always an end in itself. 

Rizzo's case concerning the tragedy of the autism cluster and the others discussed above reveal how concepts of fraud or buyer's remorse can enter what was once the domain of unconditional love and commitment between man and woman, the act of creating a family.

Secular society has no adequate answer to the moral quandary of the sperm donor business because the logic of contract and consent puts forth no natural objection to the commodification of human procreation.

Ever since same-sex couples calling themselves married was enshrined into law by the Supreme Court in 2015, many on the right have simply waved the white flag on the primacy of the biological family and the need for a mother and father. Marriage is simply consenting adults entering into a contract. The disturbing rise of the sperm donor industry is one of the consequences of that retreat.

Society cannot build families by the logic of contract alone, nor bring life into this world the way we buy and sell goods. Instead, it must shift its perspective from the morally empty legalisms of consent and contract borrowed from the realm of business to a concern for the inherent dignity of the human person, which is fostered in the biological family.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

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Robert Royal

Opinion ,

Amazon Synod proving to be as bad as critics warned. What do we do now?

Robert Royal
By Robert Royal

Note from the Author: I am in Rome following the Synod on the Amazon and will be posting regular commentaries on that event in a special section that you can access in coming days by checking this space. The regular columns will continue to appear below. — RR

October 7, 2019 (The Catholic Thing) — Pope Francis is fond of saying that "synod" means "walking together." In the right circumstances, it might mean that (though usually it just means a "meeting"). In the wrong circumstances, it can take on the less happy meanings of the original Greek synodoslike the "meeting" that happens when two parties face each other in a courtroom — or two armies clash.

That troubling meaning of "synod" has been quite evident in past weeks. Before the Amazon Synod even started — the bishops, vested in green, joined the pope for Mass at St. Peter's yesterday and begin their work today — there was a swirl of passionate claims and counterclaims, the likes of which have probably never been seen in Rome at this kind of an event.

Quite a few Catholics have been appalled at the synod's strange mixture of changes to the priesthood and roles of women with ecological concerns — and openings to pagan superstitions. And rightly so.

On Saturday, Pope Francis along with Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes and Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri (both leaders of the synod) attended an indigenous ritual, a tree-planting ceremony in the Vatican gardens. Participants danced around a mandala, spread soil from "symbolic places," and bowed to two female fertility figures. A male figure with erect penis lay nearby. (See here.)

The pope himself threw in the first shovelful of dirt. After sitting for an hour in the hot Roman sun, he looked tired and chose to set aside his prepared remarks. He just recited an Our Father without comment, and left.

This is no small matter and it's difficult to see how cardinals and bishops simply let it pass. Many don't, privately, but this will have major public repercussions, not least the scandal of suggesting that Christ is not the only way to the Father — which the Vatican seems more and more ready to allow. (We have here another example of confusion over the Abu Dhabi Statement that Pope Francis signed asserting that God willed a "pluralism and diversity of religions.") Giving the impression that non-Catholics are pretty much fine where they already are is the quickest way to tamp down enthusiasm for evangelizing — which this synod is supposed to be encouraging.

It's worth remembering too that fertility gods were associated with child sacrifice in the ancient Mideast; Jewish monotheism definitively broke with all that. Some indigenous gods in the New World, too, notoriously demanded human sacrifice.

So, why flirt with the very things God Himself long ago revealed were false and dangerous — and therefore to be avoided? Some of the organizers have claimed that one of the female figures was Our Lady of the Amazon. But this hardly makes everything okay. You don't need to be a liturgical expert to see that the whole ritual doesn't exactly worship the God of Abraham.

This sort of thing, which has now taken place on the very grounds of the Vatican, seems to be precisely what the synod organizers had in mind when they wrote of including indigenous elements in the Amazon church's liturgy. And what many Catholics view as dangerous and reckless.

Meanwhile, at the opposite extreme, a group of women religious, perhaps sensing that we are at what the anthropologists call a "liminal" moment — crossing a threshold — are objecting that the synod is too tradition-bound. (Technically, it remains a synod of bishops.) But the women want the right to vote, like the men, on proposals. And why not since, along with ordaining married viri probati (older, proven men), the synod will be considering giving women some sort of clerical role?

Cardinals Hummes and Baldisseri defended the synod in a press conference last week, arguing that Catholics should "listen to" the Instrumentum Laboris. The "Working Document" is not magisterial, they say, and furthermore is the product of consultations with 80,000 people in the Amazon region. Well, we know how "consultations" work. The "listening Church" that we have heard so much about in recent years seems very much to listen with the left ear, not the right.

Indeed, the very notion of "indigenous peoples" increasingly seems to be an ideological construct. They are being "heard" — certainly more than cardinals, bishops, theologians, and lay people who are seeking to conserve the simple truths and longstanding disciplines of the Church.

The bishops and others carefully selected to participate in the synodal discussions over the next three weeks seem very unlikely to resist this ideological tide.

On the contrary, criticism of the synod has been attacked as "fake news"; some have even called on the American bishops to scrutinize conservative Catholic media — rather than listen to what they have to say.

It can't be repeated enough: what is being contested here is not whether Catholics should care for the Earth. It's God's Creation and we should. Even less is it about the need for a sensitive and renewed evangelization of the Amazonian people. That goes without saying.

People around the pope keep trying to cast the controversies as matters of politics and power and money — which is maybe what most interests them. But very few critics of the Amazon Synod are motivated by a desire to defend oil companies or global capitalism. Virtually all are agitated by a quite cavalier attitude in the Vatican itself these days towards the truths and practices of the faith, in a world where many Catholics, even in places long already evangelized, don't even know Church teaching about the Eucharist.

* * *

Just before leaving for the Amazon Synod, I was talking with a friend who has chosen to give up various high posts to take up teaching philosophy. Among other things, we chewed over what to do when it seems that all the institutions are failing. (What, that is, besides pray and fast.)

We discovered that we had each just come upon, independently, a passage in Lord of the Rings, where Gandalf is speaking with Denethor, who is steward, but not king, of Gondor. Things look bleak. Sauron is about to attack. Denethor is trying by any means he can to hold on to power.

Gandalf speaks to him of the predicted return of the true king:

... my lord Steward, it is your task to keep some kingdom still against that event [the king's return], which few now look to see. In that task you shall have all the aid that you are pleased to ask for. But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. [Emphasis added.]

In short, in times like these, if we are wise, we too all become intentional stewards; we take care to preserve or grow whatever we can, even as the large forces of history and culture stagger around, and the large schemes to control them seem mostly to make things worse.

And there's another large benefit of realizing you are a mere steward: you also come to understand how much we always need the King of Kings to guide his Church.

Published with permission from The Catholic Thing.

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Riccardo Cascioli

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Climate change hysteria’s roots mix with eugenics, homosexual activism

Riccardo Cascioli
By

October 7, 2019 (La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana) — Climate scare-mongering serves political objectives by manipulating scientific data.

Years of pounding propaganda have disoriented and seriously distorted how we consider reality, ranging from nature’s mechanisms to the relationship between development and the environment, from climate knowledge to the role of human activities. For this reason, La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana is dedicating a series of installments to climate change, aimed at addressing the single aspects falsified in this wave of collective hysteria.

It must have come as a quite a surprise to those who are particularly naïve and embarrassed some Catholic journalists and intellectuals to see Greta Thunberg’s smiling face (the teenage  symbol of the fight against climate change) at Stockholm's Gay Pride march on her Facebook page. Having jumped rather hastily on Greta’s bandwagon, they don’t seem to realize that this is what the fight against global warming or climate change stands for.

It wouldn’t take much to notice that years of pounding propaganda have created a climate of collective hysteria. We are fed exaggerated alarmism on a daily basis from newspapers, radio stations and TV channels, which has led to a distorted perception of reality in public opinion. Almost everyone is convinced by now that we are living in the worst of all possible worlds, on the brink of an abyss, and is anxious about what the climate has in store for us in the near future because of our destructive behaviors.

In a situation like this, with humanity’s back to the wall, it is the exercise of reason being sacrificed — namely, that ability to question what is being proposed or imposed on us, in order to understand what is really happening. We have a teenager suffering from Asperger's syndrome, who speaks like a textbook despite not having any significant scientific knowledge. But instead of social services intervening to tear Greta away from those who are exploiting her for ideological and commercial purposes, she has been turned into a sort of priestess who officiates at all international forums and to whom all the influential leaders of the Earth pay homage, not least Catholic intellectuals and ecclesiastics. Everyone seems totally oblivious to how ridiculous and unprecedented this situation is.

And Greta posed holding the rainbow flag is a good place to start addressing (albeit briefly) an aspect of the matter — namely, the link between today’s different dominant ideologies, primarily ecology and homosexuality. According to the news, scientific truths exist on climate change (man-made global warming is causing catastrophe) to which the heads of government are not paying sufficient heed, if we consider how many years it takes them to reach international agreements, which are ultimately too vague to be useful. But in the case of climate change, scientists are only the supporting cast. They provide the pretext, give a touch of verisimilitude to the story, but in reality, the campaign matrix is ​​ideological and the leadership political.

The environmentalism that dominates society today is rooted deeply in history, at the time when the Eugenics Society blossomed principally in the Anglo-Saxon world, between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. It stems from social Darwinism. Even the movements for birth control and radical feminism find their origins in the Eugenics Society. Extreme individualism and the vision of an exclusive world for the healthy and productive are two characteristics that unite all these movements.

Environmentalism, since its beginning, has always meant nature conservation and population control. The myth of overpopulation precedes that of global warming, but the movements work in the same way for the same objective. In the 1970s, the environmentalist movement and the movement for birth control joined forces to declare that “the population pollutes.” Even the promotion of homosexuality owes much to the movement for birth control, and the reason is obvious: homosexual couples are by nature sterile. Evidently, the more homosexuals there are, the easier it is to achieve a decline in fertility.

The cause and the associated fears of climate change, in fact, reach the same conclusion, to the point that a significant number of people are committed to having a minimum number of children or even none to save the planet.

Then there are contingent factors at play in the relationship between LGBT movements and the groups fighting climate change. For years now, specific LGBT groups have participated in climate marches, especially in the United States, such as the group Queer for Climate. The common thread — according to their articles and essays — is the perception of a shared struggle for liberation and a struggle for social justice, where the winning strategies of some (the LGBT) serve as an example to copy for the rest. Nor should we forget that all these ideological and cultural movements also find a sounding board in the U.N. agencies and the watchwords born and spread there, soon become common heritage.

Above all, these ideological currents found success when they broke into the political field. This is how, contrary to common belief, science  became a means to political ends. Whatever one’s conviction, it is governments and political forces that are pulling the strings of climate scare-mongering. One example suffices: it’s the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the U.N. body that deals with climate change. Considered the most important scientific body, it produces the renowned reports that are the main source for global policies concerning climate change.

In reality, the IPCC does not carry out any independent scientific activity (its reports are simply a collection and summary of available studies) and is purely a political body, even if some of its members are scientists. The name says it all: it is called an "intergovernmental group" because governments decide who directs it and governments have the last word on the final report its members write. It is no coincidence that in recent years, many important scientists have resigned because of the ideological and political approach to scientific analysis. In fact, recent presidents of the IPCC were not scientists at all: Rajendra Pachauri (Indian), who held the position from 2002 to 2015, is an experienced railway engineer, while the current president, Hoesung Lee (Korean), is an economist.

To be continued...

Published with permission from La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.

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German Cardinals Walter Kasper and Reinhard Marx
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German bishops have been funding the Liberation Theology connected to the Amazon Synod for decades

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By Maike Hickson

October 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In light of the October 6-27 Pan-Amazon Synod in Rome, LifeSiteNews reached out to Adveniat and Misereor – the two relief agencies of the German Bishops' Conference – asking whether, and to what extent, they have funded theologians or institutions of Liberation Theology, especially in Brazil. The German Bishops' Conference has provided Liberation Theology efforts with about 26 million euros over the past few decades – and during a time when Liberation Theology was censored and heavily criticized by the Vatican

The reason for concentrating on Brazil is that from thence come several key organizers or inspirers of the Amazon Synod: Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Bishop Erwin Kräutler, Professor Paulo Suess, and Leonardo Boff. We therefore asked specifically about Kräutler and Suess' Indigenist Missionary Council (CIMI); the Latin American Bishops' Conference, CELAM (which has often been a promoter of Liberation Theology and which is part of the Amazon Synod-organizing network REPAM); Amerindia, which is a prominent group of Liberation theologians, among them Boff and Suess; and Gustavo Gutiérrez's Bartholmé de Las Casas Institut in Lima (Gutiérrez apparently invented the term Liberation Theology).

CELAM was essentially the seedbed for Liberation Theology. As the progressive-leaning journalist John Allen reported in 2007: 

“Though the phrase will probably not appear in any official document [of Aparecida], liberation theology in some ways has been the Banquo’s ghost of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, a spectral presence which has loomed over the discussions. [...] In historical perspective, one could argue that the CELAM gathering in Medellin, Colombia, in 1968 amounted to liberation theology’s coming-out party; Puebla, Mexico, in 1979 its high-water mark; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 1992 its Waterloo. On that continuum, Aparecida may be remembered as the moment liberation theology's wheat was separated from its chaff. Without ever declaring it as their intention, the bishops gathered at the largest Marian sanctuary in the southern hemisphere are, in effect, deciding which aspects of liberation theology will endure as permanent contributions to Catholic thought and pastoral practice.”

LifeSite has already published a detailed report on the fact that the German bishops' relief agencies greatly helped to organize and fund the Amazon Synod. 

The research has brought forth the following result: over the course of the last decades, the German bishops have spent more than 26 million euros in support of a theology that had been recurrently under critical scrutiny from the Vatican, up until Pope Francis' election in 2013. 

In the following, LifeSite shall now present the additional answers which we have received from Adveniat and Misereor.

Adveniat:

  • Gave the Conselho Ingigenista Missionário (Indigenist Missionary Council) over years each 45,000 euro, for missionary, educational, but also for political work (such as defending the indigenous's rights before the capital city Brasilía);
  • Paid 274,000 euro to CELAM for various projects in 2018 alone;
  • Supported Amerindia between 2008 and 2018 with 80,500 euro;
  • Gave, between 1982 and 1990, 52,000 euro to Leonardo Boff's theological journal Concilium;
  • Supported the Bartholomé de Las Casas Institute (founded by Gutiérrez) in Lima with 530,000 euros (for 23 different projects) since 1997

Misereor:

  • As Ralph Allgaier, Misereor's press speaker, told LifeSite: “CIMI is a long-term partner organization of Misereor.” From the 1980s on until today, Misereor gave CIMI the total sum of 22,597,494 euro in support of its projects and work, to include work in the field[s] of education, health, and development.”
  • Misereor paid over the last two decades for 39 different CELAM projects (for education, political matters) with altogether 1,879,777.51 euro. As Ralph Allgaier points out: “For decades, Misereor has been active in the Amazon, or Latin America, on the level of episcopal conferences such as Medellín (1968), Puebla (1979), Santo Domingo (1992), and Aparecida (2007). Aparecida has pointed to the special situation of the Amazon and decided that the Church should take action in this regard.”
  • Amerindia: “Misereor supports Amerindia upon request from bishops in Latin America [sic],” explains Allgaier. “Especially at the conferences in Santo Domingo (1992) and Aparecida (2007), Amerindia has received support. Last, Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga SDB, as President of CELAM, supported in 2007 Amerindia in its [accompaniment] of the conference of the Latin American bishops.” Since 2006, Misereor gave Amerindia 212,000 euro.
  • From 1998 to 2017, G. Gutiérrez’s Instituto Bartolomé de las Casas received 749,403.35 euro, part of which was used for the establishment of base communities.

Summing up this presentation, one may easily see that the German Bishops' Conference has provided Liberation Theology with about 26 million euros over the recent past.

The history of German influence on events in the Universal Church can be traced back to the Second Vatican Council. 

In one specific instance, one can even show a direct personal connection between Liberation Theology and the German relief agencies: Dr. Markus Büker, who today works for Misereor, earlier was one of the members of the group Amerindia who counseled the Latin American bishops during their Aparecida conference in 2007. As we reported above, it was Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga Rodgrigez who at the time invited this group of liberation theologians as counselors of the Aparecida gathering. Büker, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the thought of the German liberation theologian Professor Paulo Suess, thus is a direct bridge between Liberation Theology and the German Bishops' Conference.

As Father Ralph M. Wiltgen shows in his authoritative history of the Second Vatican Council – The Rhine Flows into the Tiber – the German bishops, with some other bishops' conferences such as the Austrian and the Belgian, took a leading role in pushing Vatican II in a progressivist direction. With the crucial help of Father Karl Rahner, for example, a scheme dedicated to the special role of the Blessed Mother was discarded, the promotion of the permanent diaconate was presented (something that many conservative prelates at the time saw as a danger for weakening the priesthood), and the aspect of collegiality was promoted.

Wiltgen shows that at that time, the German bishops had already been heavily funding many dioceses in Latin America and this had an influence upon the Council: “Superiors general and missionary bishops born in the countries which made up the European alliance gave it their support almost without exception. And the alliance also received the support of numerous other missionary bishops and bishops of Latin America countries who were grateful for the very generous financial assistance which they had received from Cardinal Frings [the leader of the progressive European Alliance] during the preceding years through his two fund-raising agencies, Misereor and Adveniat. Many of those who used the occasion of the Council to visit Cardinal Frings and thank him personally found themselves joining the alliance.”

Bishop Overbeck – who is, as bishop of Essen, responsible for Adveniat – admitted at a recent September 25 press conference that “we are co-responsible” for the preparations of the Amazon Synod. 

Pope Francis has invited both priests heading Adveniat and Misereor – Pirmin Spiegel and Michael Heinz – to participate in the Amazon Synod. Two other prelates, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the President of the German Bishops' Conference, and Bishop Bernardo Johannes Bahlmann, OFM, of Brazil will participate. Bahlmann collaborates closely with the German bishops' relief agencies and will be one of the speakers at an event this November, where Misereor and Adveniat, among other German institutions, will try to draw out the conclusions from the Amazon Synod for Germany. 

At that conference, Austrian Bishop Erwin Kräutler – who has worked closely with the German relief agencies for many years – and the German Professor Paulo Suess will also be speaking. The latter two have also been invited to participate at the Amazon Synod, with both being the key figures at the pre-synodal council. They are now being called the key authors of the synod's working document. 

Misereor is already presenting eight events that will take place in Germany after the Amazon Synod. Those events will involve German Synod participants, such as Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Msgr. Pirmin Spiegel, Bishop Bernardo Bahlmann, and Misereor representative Dr. Markus Büker. The latter will speak on the topic: “The Amazon: A Synod that Changes the Church?”

There are many signs that the German bishops continue to influence the Universal Church in a rather disproportionate manner, thus confirming the suspicion that the Rhine still flows into the Tiber, now by way of the Amazon.

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Ads for computer game mocking Sacred Heart of Jesus displayed on buses all over London

Paul Smeaton
By Paul Smeaton

PETITION: Tell UK Advertising Standards Authority to sanction blasphemy of the Sacred Heart Sign the petition here.

October 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A blasphemous advertising poster mocking Jesus and His Sacred Heart is currently being advertised all around the United Kingdom. The image is being used to advertise "Borderlands 3," the latest in a series of hugely popular video games. 

The game was released worldwide last month, and no doubt many readers in different parts of the world may have seen the advertisements in their own cities. But in London, a city packed full of advertisements, the dramatic image commands attention from its place on the side of the city’s iconic double-decker red buses. It has thus become one of the most visible images in the city at present.

In an obvious profanation of the image of the Sacred Heart, the cover of “Borderlands 3” depicts one of the games’ characters, called 'Psycho,' wrapped in a blue cloak, with a halo around his head, and a hand grenade as a heart (entwined with barbed wire). He is also shown with a weapon (with a power saw at the top) as a staff in his left hand while holding up three fingers with his right hand.

Of course, we know that the proper image of the Sacred Heart was given to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque between 1673 and 1675 in apparitions that she had of the Lord Jesus, who requested that there be reparations made for ingratitude shown to God.

"Behold the Heart that has so loved men … Instead of gratitude I receive from the greater part (of humankind) only ingratitude."

Additionally, 12 promises of specific graces were made by Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary for those people who practice devotion to His Sacred Heart. (Please see all 12 promises listed below.)

The ninth promise is as follows: "I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated."

So, by these promises from the Lord Himself, we know that this profanation of His image is utterly wrong -- especially because it mocks His mercy, and because it deprives young people of the truth about the holy image of Our Lord, its veneration and the awesome promises attached to the same.

It could be argued that this is a mere “drop in the ocean” given the prevalence of distasteful, pornographic and irreverent content in today’s entertainment media. But to my mind this marks a significant moment in the culture war and one that is worth reflecting on. About a year ago, I saw a similar image for sale as “art” in an English town famous for celebrating LGBT, bohemian and “alternative” lifestyles. It was offensive then, but perhaps not surprising given the environment.

But now it feels as though this particular image is everywhere and, in a sense, it is in London. On the side of the double decker buses, it’s a large, imposing, moving object. Last week, I either had to board a bus bearing the offensive image or risk missing a flight. If you live in London, then right now it feels like you can’t get away from it.

The potential impact of this game on the development and psyche of people playing it would be a subject for a separate article. But when this sort of image is displayed so prominently on our streets it affects everyone. 

LifeSite readers may consider whether the advertisement is in contravention of the Travel for London’s advertising policy on the required standards for approval of advertisements. Section 2.3 (a) of the document reads: 

It is likely to cause widespread or serious offence to reasonable members of the public on account of the product or service being advertised, the content or design of the advertisement, or by way of implication. 

And section 2.3 (c) continues:

It could reasonably be seen as distasteful, indecent or obscene, in its use of imagery, language or otherwise.

For Catholics such as myself, who from their earliest days have grown up venerating and praying to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is of course highly offensive and sad to see such a manifest contempt of Our Lord displayed so prominently on our streets.

But, of course, we know as St. Paul tells us that “where sin abounded, grace did more abound.” God can use all things for the good. If nothing else, then this sad event should inspire Catholics to a greater devotion to the Sacred Heart and a renewed commitment to making reparation for the crimes and indifference of men toward it.

Here are the complete list of the promises made by Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Perhaps, after reading through them, you, too, might like to help propagate devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.

  2. I will give peace in their families.

  3. I will console them in all their troubles.

  4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.

  5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.

  6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.

  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.

  8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.

  9. I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.

  10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.

  11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.

  12. In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

     

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Dorothy Cummings McLean reporting from the Vatican
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Spiritual warfare, new cardinals, feather-headdresses: My first three days at the Amazon Synod

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

Editor’s note: Our Scotland-based reporter Dorothy Cummings McLean has been sent to Italy to join our Rome Correspondent, Diane Montagna, in covering the Synod for the Bishops of the Pan-Amazon region. A lifelong diarist, Dorothy has volunteered to give readers a glimpse into life off-camera as she carries out what she calls “a dream assignment.” 

Friday, October 4, 2019 

Pope Francis says that the Synod on the Amazon can be understood only by reading Laudato Si’. Laudato Si’ is opposed to consumerism, and thus it is ironic that I have come to Rome with a backpack of new clothes. The Vatican Press Office has issued a dress code demanding “decorous clothing”: dark suit and tie for men and dark dress for women. My Italian tutor suggested “black and elegant”; I have decided for navy and prim. 

The sky over Edinburgh was soft and grey; the sky over Rome was blue and merciless. Dressed half for Scotland, half for Italy, I was glad to shed my navy cardigan sweater on the train to Roma S. Pietro. My flat is a five minute walk from the train station, and I can see the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica if I lean out my living room window. 

I was shown to my apartment by the owner’s agent, who wants to know why I can speak Italian. I have the short version of the answer prepared, so I trotted it out: there are many Italians in Toronto, where I was born, and I studied it in high school. 

The apartment is in a non-touristy area, and I hear only Italian on the streets. The apartment itself has a unique Italian kind of electrical socket I have never seen before, and I was relieved when I found an adaptor. To charge my Canadian camera battery, I have to fit its charger into a UK charger which fits into a European charger which fits into this crucial Italian charger. Needless to say, I won’t be charging anything when I’m asleep. 

Other than that, the apartment is as I expected: a living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom, all with wooden shutters and glass inner windows. There are three bookcases of Italian books in the living-room and a bidet in the bathroom. There is a motley collection of utensils and, crucially, a stove-top coffee pot in the kitchen. 

When the landlady’s agent left, I locked the windows and took the train back to Rome’s main train station. I wanted to catch the end of Voice of the Family’s Round Table on the Synod, which I knew was in a hotel near Roma Termini, but I forgot to bring a map. 

Thanks to my husband, whom I phoned in a panic, I found the hotel meeting room in time to see a waiter bringing snacks. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so the bruschetta and arancini (fried rice balls with melted cheese in their centers) were a Godsend. I was delighted to see Hilary White and Michael Matt of The Remnant newspaper; Christine Niles and Michael Voris of Church Militant, Maria Madise of SPUC International; and John-Henry Westen, Clare Magaad, and Jon Fidero of our own LifeSiteNews.  

Jon told me alarming stories of dark shadows and weird noises haunting the monastery where the young folk of the Voice of the Family youth program stayed. 

“Spiritual warfare,” he concluded with a mixture of trepidation and relish, and I felt alarmed. By then I was so tired, I didn’t think I would be much good at spiritual warfare. 

Sure enough, I was plagued by nightmares about nuclear armageddon. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019 

I woke up at 7:00 a.m. and still managed to miss my colleagues after the Latin Mass celebrated in Santa Maria Maggiore, close to Rome’s Termini station. I blame the news: the arguments over the odd Amazonian religious ritual held in the Vatican gardens were compelling, as was the news that a piece of St. Peter’s Basilica had subsequently fallen from the ceiling, perhaps in protest. 

Disappointed, I made my second mistake of the day by deciding to walk to the Vatican Press Office instead of getting back on the train. Naturally I got lost again. This time I was rescued by a map that turned up under my feet outside the Colosseum. I turned up, slightly sunburned and sadly blistered, at the Sala Stampa just after noon. 

The Sala Stampa is on the Via della Conciliazione, close to St. Peter’s Basilica. I returned to St. Peter’s around 2:45 p.m. to be ushered with other journalists into Vatican City. I sometimes watch Italian police shows, so I was thrilled to see vans and reporters emblazoned with RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana). 

After some friendly assertiveness, I was counted among the photographers and led into St. Peter’s Basilica through a Vatican city entrance. Declaring that I was from Canada, I toddled after some Cuban reporters before being called back and ordered up a ladder to a press box overlooking the bishops’ section on the left. It wasn’t as ideal as I initially thought, for I was elbowed out of the way by a member of the German press, and he photobombed many of my shots. I probably got a sad kind of revenge, however, by constantly readjusting my tripod, my camera, and my smartphone. 

I have often thought that there should be cardinal cards, just as there are baseball cards and hockey cards. They would certainly make my job easier. All the same, there are some faces that are easy to recognize. No offense to Pope Francis, but the face that thrilled me the most was that of the sneakily schismatic Cardinal Marx. I was also delighted to see the wonderful Cardinal Müller. (I took many photos of Cardinal Müller.)

As a matter of sartorial interest, the pressmen around me were indeed all wearing dark suits and ties, and the American presswoman beside me, who loudly decried the lack of female bishops, was wearing a dark dress. She outdid me in formality, however, as she was wearing dark nylons and proper shoes. I was wearing sandals.

Two Congolese women wearing blue and yellow dresses emblazoned with Cardinal-elect Besungu’s face flouted the dress code utterly by climbing into the press box. One waved the  flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo quite vigorously when Besungu was presented with his red hat, and therefore all the photographers turned their cameras on her. 

The Consistory service was not a Mass, but rather an opportunity for speeches, prayers, and of course, the receiving of red hats. Each new cardinal knelt before Francis, and then, standing up, embraced him, shared a few words, and then went down amongst the other cardinals to greet them. Occasionally the choir sang hymns of a traditional, classical, Latin-language nature. The service was for the most part a solemn affair, punctuated by the cheering and flag-waving by fans of Cardinal Besungu. 

Afterwards I carefully climbed down the ladder and went to the Press Office to be led to the new cardinals. Once there I discovered that I had missed the media chaperone, so I just followed some late-arriving Italian journalists through the x-ray and past Swiss Guards into the Apostolic Palace. 

I found myself in a gilded hall with one antechamber and three new cardinals: José Calaça de Mendonça, Miguel Ángel Guixot, and Michael Czerny, SJ. De Mendonça and Guixot held court on opposite ends of the hall, whereas Czerny was in the “salone ducale” to the side. The journalists in front of me rushed to photograph him. I arrived in time to hear him say, in a patient Canadian voice, “He said ‘Thank you,’ and I said ‘Thank you.’” It was clear he meant Pope Francis. 

After the journalists had had 15 minutes or so to greet the cardinals, cheerful throngs of clerics and elegantly dressed laypeople were led up the marble staircases into the hall. There were much longer queues for the Portugese poet De Mendonça and the Spanish Islam expert Guixot than for Canadian Czerny when I was lurking about, looking in vain for familiar Canadian Jesuit faces. Two imams turned up to greet Guixot, and the photographers clicked away excitedly.  

I walked back to my flat as dusk fell on Rome and then went out to the supermarket around the corner for some supper ingredients. When I returned, I took off my sandals and filled up a laundry tub of hot soapy water for my dirty feet. Then, too tired to write, I watched two episodes of Nero a metà, an Italian police show set in Rome.  

Sunday, October 6, 2019  

I rushed out of the apartment after writing an article on the Consistory and managed to make it to Mass in time for the Gospel. The church was packed. It was standing room only for the 11:00 a.m., and so I stood. The congregation included a Who’s Who of Catholic journalists: Edward Pentin, Diane Montagna, Taylor Marshall, Michael Voris, Hilary White.   

Afterwards I went to the Borgo Pio to discuss the opening Mass of the Synod with my colleague Jim Hale. Jim had captured a disturbance in St. Peter’s after Mass on his camera. I watched the video and over lunch near Campo dei Fiori we discussed how best to tell the story. On the way there, we had seen a number of people in feather-headdresses, red face-paint and, yes, running shoes at a taxi stand. I watched with interest to see how the man with the tallest feather crown would fit into the cab, and it seems that the feathers are quite pliable.  

Jim filmed me talking about the disturbance and my thoughts about Laudato Si’ in St. Peter’s Square as an international assortment of tourists milled around us and, on at least one occasion, made funny faces at me. Behind Jim and his camera were two soldiers with machine guns, a sober reminder of terrorist outrages in Europe. 

Dusk was approaching when Jim finished shooting. I went back to my flat to write, stopping at the handy supermarket for a mineral water and a bottle of wine. I thought I was settled in for the night, but I got a call from John-Henry Westen, returning from a meeting in Umbria. I shut my laptop and met him for an impromptu editorial meeting outside a nearby gelateria.   

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This gay abortion activist’s vulgar behavior reveals true colors of ‘pro-choice’ escorts

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By Stephen Kokx

October 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — On Wednesday, September 25 I had the opportunity to interact with a “pro-choice escort” outside an abortion facility on the first day of this year’s 40 Days for Life campaign. The conversation, or lack thereof, was revealing...to say the least. 

Not only did this young, gay man show himself to be a deeply troubled individual, his bizarre behavior laid bare for all to see what one of my LifeSite colleagues called “the complete absurdity and immorality of the homosexual delusion and real enthusiasm liberals have for killing babies.”

The story begins at 11:00 a.m. I had just arrived outside the Heritage Clinic for Women at 320 East Fulton Street in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dr. Thomas Gordon commits abortions inside the center. Gordon previously had his license suspended by the State of Michigan for not letting them know he had a criminal background. 

About a dozen or so peaceful pro-life protestors were standing on the sidewalk holding up signs and praying when I showed up. Most of them were women over the age of 55. Two young people were also present. They wore pink-colored vests with the words “pro-choice” printed on them. They stood out like a pair of sore thumbs.

I later learned that their names are Aja McCray and Vance Bruder. Pro-lifers believe they are part of an eight to 10 person rotating team of abortion activists paid by the leftist American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to harass pro-lifers. 

Wanting to know if that claim was true, I turned on my video camera and asked them about it. McCray refused to say where she got her vest but denied being paid by the ACLU, which she called “a credible organization” that she has spoken to in the past at street fairs.

When I asked her if stopping the beating heart of an unborn baby is immoral, she said abortion is “a medical procedure” that women have a right to and that only when babies “can breathe on their own” should they be legally protected. 

I informed her that an abortion is not a medical procedure but rather, when unborn babies have their brains sucked out of their skulls, to which she oddly responded, “that’s not how abortion works.” She kept repeating how abortion is a “choice” because it’s “her body.” I didn’t ask Aja at the time, but I wonder if she thinks a boy baby inside a pregnant woman’s body, with its beating heart and male anatomy, really isn’t a distinct being?

Angels of death acting as the devil’s last line of defense against the gift of life

Bruder, on the other hand, was not interested in dialoguing with me. During the entire hour I spent outside the clinic he danced nonstop in an intentionally bothersome and, at times, grotesque manner, often invading the personal space of the otherwise silent protesters. He said he was not disturbing the peace in any way despite singing along with the blaring music coming from his phone. Some of the songs he played had obscene language in them, which he seemed to take pleasure in hearing.

One of the female pro-life protesters told him he was “not very nice” for having given me the middle finger while I recorded his antics. Bruder snapped back at her, shouting, “you’re not very nice, b***h!” He also accused her of “harassing” women. 

Perhaps Bruder was too hypnotized by his music, but the protester he accused of harassment had said nary a word to anyone up to that point. It wasn’t until later in the morning that she calmly attempted to dissuade a young couple pulling into the clinic’s driveway in their car from getting an abortion. She later informed me she was happy she had the chance to save a life.

When I asked Bruder why he was there he simply ignored me and continued what appeared to be a well-rehearsed calisthenics routine. Atonished by his stamina, I asked him if he was there to exercise or to celebrate abortion. When he failed to acknowledge my question, I asked if he was happy that unborn babies are killed inside the clinic. He seemed irritated by that and told me I was attractive and that I could “make a cute gay.” What an honor.

Bruder’s tactic was simple — ignore me until I went away. Unfortunately for him, his silence and downright immature behavior spoke volumes about not just him, but about those who think like him. It shows just how pathetic and sad he and the pro-abortion, social justice warrior crowd really are. Far from being “escorts,” such persons are angels of death acting as the devil’s last line of defense against the gift of life, of which God is the author. As such, it’s not surprising he a) didn’t want to engage with me and b) behaved in the strange way he did. 

During our interaction, I was reminded of something I read in Dom Lorenzo Scupoli’s classic 16th century work The Spiritual Combat. “God gradually withdraws His graces from those who neglect them.” I also thought about what Venerable Louis of Granada wrote in The Sinner’s Guide in 1555. “God withdraws further and further from a sinful soul, in proportion as her vices increase.”

I truly felt sorry for this man, who desperately needs prayers. He seems to have turned his back completely on Jesus at this point in his life. If anything, he is living proof of Romans 1:29. “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind.”

What was perhaps most revealing about my visit to the abortion facility was how viscerally Bruder reacted when the protesters started praying to Mary, the Holy Mother of God. 

When protesters held up a massive image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Bruder frantically paced up and down the sidewalk in front of them as if he were possessed. When an elderly woman offered him a rosary, he screamed at her, “b***h don’t give me that! I’ll slam that s*** on the road!” McCray told the woman that Bruder “doesn’t need” another piece of “jewelry.” One protester told me Bruder went “ballistic” when they started praying Haily Mary’s after I had left. 

At the end of the day, those who oppose Christ’s teachings always seem to act with infernal rage whenever Mary is brought into the picture. That was on full display last week. 

Paid to promote abortion?

Protestors at the Grand Rapids abortuary told me that the team of activists Bruder and McCray belong to has been appearing there off and on over the past several years but that their presence has increased over the last couple months. Antifa activists and Satanists used to show outside the clinic as well. “Hostile” was how one protester said they are treated by such persons.

Accusations of harassment seem to be confirmed by a video McCray herself recorded and then posted on her Facebook profile on August 23. In the post, a hysterical woman can be seen screaming, “your mommy should’ve killed you’re ugly a**!” to a woman in her 70s trying to talk to her about choosing life.

When the protester said she would pray for the woman, she exclaimed, “you better [pray for me] because Jesus Christ is the only m*********** keeping me from beatin’ you up!” A delighted McCray can be heard supporting the woman’s outrageous behavior. In her Facebook post, McCray wrote in capital letters, “THIS IS THE ENERGY YOU NEED TO BRING AT BIGOTS.

McCray told me that she has been “threatened” as well. She showed me a snippet of a video of Mark Garner in a confrontation with pro-abortion activists. Garner is an African-American security guard hired by Sidewalk Advocates for Life to patrol the area.

Garner, who owns and operates Absolute Security Group — a Christian-oriented company he started in 2012 that provides a wide range of protection services — told me that the “confrontation” in McCray’s video is misleading.

“I’m here for everyone. I’m really here to protect all voices,” he said. “That video is the only time I ever engaged with Mr. Bruder. I’ve been out here 16 months, and I’ve seen Antifa show up and old ladies being pushed in the street. These people record videos that don’t record the entire act, only the last couple minutes or so. What their video of me doesn’t show is that that man had just hit a 72-year-old woman in her face with his ‘pro-choice’ sign. He completely disrespects the women that come here. So I pursued him aggressively and let him know he is not allowed to do that.”

Garner says his personal information, including his home address, has been posted online by the pro-abortion activists who appear outside the clinic. He claims the ACLU of Michigan tried to open claims against his business and that they threatened to shut him down. “They don’t like that I’m black and pro-life,” he said. “The accusations against me by these people are simply not true.”

A self-identified “person of faith,” Garner told me, “the clinic has contracted the ACLU to provide these, as they call themselves, ‘escorts’ to be down here…that is what a ranking member of the ACLU told me.” Understandably, he said he cannot reveal who the “ranking member” is out of concern for their privacy and safety but that the allegation is “100 percent true.”

Witness to Christ no matter what

Ultimately what my experience outside the 320 East Fulton abortion center taught me is that it’s increasingly the norm for pro-life and pro-family activists to be treated in terrible ways when they stand for truth at places where evil dominates. Just last month I wrote about a group of Christians verbally assaulted as they protested outside a Drag Show that exploited people with Down syndrome.

Satan hates that followers of Christ bring public attention to his evil ways. He tries to do everything he can to discourage more of them from showing up. But he can’t and won’t win. The slings and arrows that come with defending the Gospel in this anti-Christian world are to be expected, and welcomed. “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you,” Our Lord once said. Christians should not only pray for those persecuting them but take comfort in knowing God is standing alongside them when they are met with such hostilities for defending His teachings. I know I did.

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