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Mayor won’t apologize for condemning LGBT indoctrination as ‘affront to Almighty God’

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By Calvin Freiburger

BARNEGAT TOWNSHIP, New Jersey, October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The mayor of a New Jersey township is holding firm against negative reactions to his forceful denunciation of a state law mandating that “LGBT history” be taught in public schools.

Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy signed Senate Bill 1569 in January, requiring school boards to develop lessons about the “political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people” throughout history.

During an August committee meeting for Barnegat Township, Republican Mayor Alfonso Cirulli assailed the LGBT agenda as “an affront to almighty God” and declared that “now is the time for the righteous to stand up for their rights” before the school district implements a new curriculum in line with the new mandate.

"The government has no right to teach our kids morality," he said, arguing that "we've crossed over the line into absurdity” in overriding parents’ right to decide when and how to introduce children to such sensitive subjects. 

“Everyone has a right to live his or her life the way they want to, but no group has a right to force others to comply with their beliefs,” added Cirulli, who is a former assistant principal.

"It is deeply troubling that Barnegat's mayor is opposed to building an inclusive and affirming environment for LGBTQ youth, especially considering that Garden State Equality worked so closely with the school district to successfully implement transgender student guidance last year,” the LGBT activist group Garden State Equality responded. “Moreover, the mayor's views are in stark contrast to educators within the district, two of whom are contributing to our curriculum development."

“I’m not a bigot, I love people,” Cirulli responded to his critics this month. “This is going to hurt people. This is going to cause more problems than they say it’s going to help, and I’m worried about kids. You’re taking young kids and you start telling them, ‘If you want to be a girl, you can be a girl, if you want to be a guy, you can be a guy.’ And you’re giving them an identity crisis.”

The mayor also addressed the subject at greater length in a letter to his constituents, expressing gratitude for the support he has received.

“Prior to the shift that has occurred over the past 25 years, education was determined by the citizens of each local community, holding to the standards of that community,” Cirulli wrote, adding that the “overwhelming” feedback he received from members of the community affirms that “parents want to guide their children in regards to sexual matters. They do not want to be bullied by the government, or other special interest groups.”

He called on the public to urge their state representatives to repeal SB 1569, and reiterated that he “offer(s) no apologies” for his stand.

The Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey is also circulating a petition that calls on Murphy to “at the very least” support amending the law to include an opt-out provision. 

“A person’s significant historical contributions should not be predicated on their sex life or personal feelings about their sexual identity,” it argues. “Sexuality is a private matter and only parents have the right to decide when and how their children learn about it.”

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Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims in his video prior to harassing the elderly woman.
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Dem who filmed harassment of pro-life teens privately apologized 5 months later, mom reveals

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By Calvin Freiburger

PHILADELPHIA, October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Pennsylvania Democrat who filmed himself berating peaceful pro-life protesters outside of an abortion facility wrote his targets an apology five months after the incident and the girls’ mother says she appreciates the newly revealed note but considers it inadequate.

In May, state Rep. Brian Sims drew national attention by posting a video in which he followed a woman who was quietly walking and praying a rosary outside of a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood. He attempted to shove his phone in her face and repeatedly called her “shameful,” “disgusting,” “racist,” and an “old white lady.”

Another video showed him approaching three girls, who he calls “pseudo-Christian protesters,” and offering “$100 to anybody who will identify these three.” Afterward, he approached a male protester and asked, “What makes you think it’s your job to tell women what to do with their bodies?” But before the man could answer, Sims declared, “The truth is, I’m not really asking, because I don’t care. Shame on you,” and walked away.

The videos sparked widespread outrage among pro-lifers, who in a matter of days organized a pro-life rally outside that Planned Parenthood location on May 10 that drew hundreds of attendees and several prominent pro-lifers, as well as Ashley Garecht, the mother of two of the girls seen in the video. Sims went silent on his social media accounts before releasing an “apology” that expressed remorse for his videos’ negative impact on Planned Parenthood, not for having mistreated pro-lifers in any way.

On Monday, the Daily Caller reported that Garecht shared a hand-written card she received from Sims this month that reads, “I want to reiterate my sincere apologies to you and your family. I regret the harm that I caused and I have learned a great deal from this. I can only ask for your forgiveness and I wish you all the best in the future.”

Garecht told the Daily Caller that her family “forgave Mr. Sims many months ago” and “appreciate(s) that he has begun to accept responsibility for his actions,” but noted that the message’s use of the word “reiterate” implies the existence of a previous apology when Sims’ past statements were not addressed to them, and that he owes the public much more.

“We also know that this card is a far cry from the public accountability that was called for at the Stand Against Bullying Rally back in May,” she said. “Mr. Sims should make a public statement of remorse as an appropriate balance to his video of intimidation and harassment that he proudly publicized to the world via Twitter.

“It is our sincere hope that Mr. Sims will modify his conduct in the future and that he will stand in defense of all citizens who exercise their First Amendment rights in the public square, including those who advocate for life outside of abortion facilities,” Garecht added.

Multiple state Republicans, including Pennsylvania GOP chairman Val DiGiorgio, GOP state Rep. Martina White, and GOP state Rep. Stan Saylor, called for action to be taken against Sims for his conduct at the time. However, he not only remains a member of the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania House but continues to sit on nearly a dozen committees and caucuses.

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Catholic priest denies Joe Biden Holy Communion for pro-abortion stance 

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

FLORENCE, South Carolina, October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― A Catholic priest refused Holy Communion to Joe Biden, former U.S. Vice-President and current Democratic presidential candidate, because of his public support for abortion. 

Biden, 76, was refused communion by Fr. Robert E. Morey at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, South Carolina during Sunday morning Mass. 

“Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden,” the priest subsequently told the Florence Morning News.

“Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church,” he continued. “Our actions should reflect that.” 

“Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching.”

Biden has at times claimed he is personally opposed to abortion. He has drifted farther and farther left on the issue over the years.

He once supported the Hyde Amendment banning federal funding for most abortions, but made headlines this June when he reversed his stance, saying that “circumstances have changed.” 

The platform on which Biden is now running includes a suggestion that doctors who refuse to commit abortions be punished and would “weaponize the Justice Department against states to strike down popular pro-life laws — like health and safety standards for abortion facilities, waiting periods, and parental involvement laws — and stop them from passing new ones,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser explained in a July piece in The Washington Times.

As Vice President, the first “wedding” Biden officiated was between two men.

According to Canon 915 of the Catholic Code of Canon Law, those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” 

Catholic politicians who publicly support abortion are considered by many leaders within the Catholic Church to be “persevering in manifest grave sin.” Many American bishops, however, refuse to put such teaching into practice when it comes to public figures who support the killing of preborn children. Some are divided on the issue of giving Holy Communion to such high-profile pro-abortion “Catholics” as, for example, Democrat Nancy Pelosi. 

Earlier this year Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, Washington said that pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians should not present themselves for communion in his diocese. Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois has delivered a similar warning. However, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago has defended giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, saying that he thinks  it “counterproductive to impose sanctions, simply because they don’t change anyone’s minds.” 

In 1974 Biden said, “[When] it comes to issues like abortion, amnesty, and acid, I’m about as liberal as your grandmother.” In the wake of the high court’s decision in Roe v. Wade to allow abortion, he said, “I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far.” 

However, Biden’s recent record on the issue has been far from clean. As a senator, he usually voted according to the dictates of Planned Parenthood and NARAL. As Vice President to Barack Obama, Biden spent eight years in what was arguably the most pro-abortion administration in American history, during which he told a Chinese audience he “fully understand[s]” and was “not second-guessing” the country’s practice of forcing families into abortion and sterilization. The Obama administration also attempted to force the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious employers to participate in the provision of abortion-causing drugs. 

Biden's last pretense at a moderately pro-life stance officially ended on June 7. After growing criticism and pressure from pro-abortion activists and celebrities, including actress Alyssa Milano, Biden gave up his support for the Hyde Amendment, saying that times had changed. 

“I’ve supported the Hyde Amendment like many, many others have because there was sufficient monies and circumstances where women were able to exercise that right” to kill their unborn children, Biden said.  

“But circumstances have changed. I’ve been working through the final details of my healthcare plan like others in this race and I’ve been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents,” he continued. 

“I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to [abortion] and the ability to constitute, exercise their constitutionally protected right [to kill their unborn children]. If I believe [abortion] is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” he said. 

Biden was swiftly rebuked by Archbishop Charles Chaput in a June 10 column that appeared on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia website.

Chaput wrote: “On June 6, the Wall Street Journal reported ('Biden’s Abortion Views Irk the Left') that Biden faced growing criticism from abortion activists and his party’s leadership for his Hyde Amendment track record.  Exactly 24 hours later, on June 7, the same paper noted that Biden had sharply changed his thinking ('Biden, in Reversal, Backs Abortion Funding').”  

“Translation: The unborn child means exactly zero in the calculus of power for Democratic Party leaders, and the right to an abortion,  once described as a tragic necessity, is now a perverse kind of ‘sacrament most holy,’” the archbishop continued.  

“It will have a candidate’s allegiance and full-throated reverence . . . or else.” 

Fr. Morey, the priest who refused Biden Holy Communion, told the Florence Morning Herald that he would keep Biden in his prayers. 

This article has been updated.

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Pro-homosexuality social worker files complaint against Catholic school for firing her

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By Calvin Freiburger

INDIANAPOLIS, October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A former social worker in Indiana has filed a discrimination complaint against Roncalli High School and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, claiming that the religious school had no right to discharge her for publicly advocating that the Catholic school accept employees who violate Church teachings on same-sex “marriage.”

Over the past two years, Roncalli fired former counselors Shelly Fitzgerald and Lynn Starkey for claiming to be “married” to other women despite Catholic teachings on marriage and homosexuality, the Indianapolis Star reports. Kelley Fisher, a self-proclaimed “voice for social justice” and Catholic Charities employee assigned to Roncalli, wrote a pair of public Facebook posts critical of their ouster.

One of the posts contained a copy of a letter Fisher had written to the archdiocese calling on it to change its contract language barring employees from violations of Church teachings such as same-sex “marriages.”

In response, she says, she was called into a meeting with Catholic Charities and Roncalli principal Chuck Weisenbach, in which she was questioned as to whether she could be trusted to follow Catholic teachings while performing her duties as a social worker counseling LGBT students. “Our job is, as a counselor or social worker, that we don’t bring our values or judgment into a session,” Fisher claims.

She says that four months later, she was placed on a “performance improvement plan” for having “engaged in conduct that is adversarial to the school” and was told that “returning to Roncalli next year is not going to be an option.” Catholic Charities ultimately fired her in May.

In response, Fisher has filed a discrimination complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which could clear the way for her suing the archdiocese. “If you publicly support, you know, (being) against discrimination ... you too, can be a victim of losing your job,” she claimed.

In response to questions from IndyStar about Fisher’s dismissal, the archdiocese said it has a constitutional right to “hire leaders who support the schools’ religious mission.”

“Catholic schools exist to communicate the Catholic faith to the next generation,” the archdiocese responded. “To accomplish their mission, Catholic schools ask all teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors to uphold the Catholic faith by word and action, both inside and outside the classroom.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church holds that homosexual relations are “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law” and cannot be approved under any circumstances.” Individuals afflicted with same-sex attraction must be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” while at the same time, they are “called to chastity,” like all other Catholics.

Other Roncalli employees told the Indy Star the case left them fearful of attending outside events on their own time that might be perceived as conflicting with the archdiocese’s values, a fear the archdiocese says is unfounded.

“No teachers or counselors were told they need permission to attend outside events or civil weddings of any kind,” it said. “The expectations for all teachers and counselors at Roncalli are clearly laid out in the school handbook, and the superintendent of Catholic schools meets with any employees who have questions.”

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis is also currently locked in another legal battle over its right to insist that its employees uphold its faith — this one against a male teacher at Cathedral High School suing because he was fired for “marrying” another man.

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A boat carrying a wooden statue of a naked woman with child ('Pachamama') is carried by indigenous people in St. Peter's Basilica during the opening ceremony for the Amazon Synod, Rome, Oct. 7, 2019. Vatican News / video screen grab
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Italian bishops’ mission org publishes ‘prayer to Pachamama’ in official booklet

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

Analysis

October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A prayer to Pachamama, the “Mother Earth” venerated by indigenous tribes such as the Aymara and Quechua in the Andes but also in the northern plains of Argentina and in Brazil near Bolivia and Peru, has been found in an official booklet of the Fondazione Missio (Mission Foundation) of the Italian bishops’ conference.

The prayer is presented without warning about the fact that it is addressed not to God — another prayer in the publication, written in the same letter-type and the same color scheme, is addressed to the “Most Holy Trinity” — but to a pagan divinity, asking for material prosperity and aiming to placate the spirits of the Earth.

The booklet is part of a series of resources presenting the work and aims of the Catholic mission and its missionaries, with a special focus on the Amazon Synod that took place in Rome from October 6 to October 27.

It was published before the opening of the synod. The presence of the “Pachamama” in an official publication of de Italian bishops’ mission agency suggests that both the group comprising indigenous natives of the Amazon region and their European-type accompaniers and the Catholic hierarchy in Rome were fully aware of the “Mother Earth”–type cult with syncretic Christian overtones that repeated itself in the Vatican gardens and the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina near Saint Peter’s Basilica and at an “Amazonian” Via Crucis.

This sheds a whole new light on the presence of the carved wooden images of naked pregnant women whom Pope Francis himself designated as “Pachamama” statuettes.

The 30 pages of the booklet, which is dedicated to the “animation” and “formation” of the faithful in view of the Amazon Synod, is available (in Italian) here under the title Sinodo sull’Amazzonia. It explains how REPAM, the ecclesiastical network for the pan-Amazonian region, was created in 2014 in order to help the Church “walk together” with its inhabitants, especially the indigenous tribes who still live there according to their ancestral traditions, some of them refusing all contact with the rest of the world.

It contains astonishing statements such as this one: “The Amazonian basin contains 20% of the unfrozen fresh water of the planet. Out of every 5 glasses of water you drink, one comes from the Amazon river.”

Remarkably, the booklet also uses multiple phrases and concepts that can now be found in the final document of the synod, lifted out from the preparatory document (2018) and the working document (instrumentum laboris, June 2019). Neither of these used the word “Pachamama,” but the second frequently mentioned “Madre Tierra,” which is the Spanish translation of the concept of Pachamama, “Mother Earth,” or “Mother of the Universe.”

Indigenous ceremonies to the Pachamama involve different rites, including the most important that takes place at the beginning of August, when “Mother Earth” is supposedly tired and worn out. The rite consists in singing, dancing, and drinking around a blanket on which offerings are placed, some of them burned or smoked ritually, to “feed” the Earth that nourishes but that also destroys and kills by earthquakes and other catastrophes when men use too many of her resources, according to pagan legends. The ritual is led by a local shaman.

Often a hole is dug in the ground, symbolizing the Pachamama’s womb, and burnt offerings — including the highly sought after llama fetus, which is supposed to bring luck and riches — are ritually tipped into it.

Male and female shamans will take part in conducting these ceremonies.

Historically, before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, the Incan cult to Pachamama included human sacrifice, often of children aged 7 or 8, whose death was supposed to placate the Earth “divinity,” to avert her anger and to obtain prosperity. So were 200 youngsters offered up to accompany the crowning of Pachacutec in Cuzco, somewhere between 1430 and 1440. The sacrifice often took the form of freezing the children to death after having drugged them with coca, the sacred plant of many indigenous tribes in South America. Mummies of sacrificed children have been found that confirm the truth of the practice of human sacrifice to Pachamama in particular.

Vestiges of the Pachamama cult were to be found in the 1960s, but since then, the “Mother Earth” rhetoric has become more visible, if not mainstream, within the indigenous communities of some of the Andean regions. Evo Morales, indigenous president of Bolivia since 2006, played an important role in the recovery of pre-Columbian customs and rites; he even went so far as to include a mention of the syncretic “cosmogony” of the indigenous in the Bolivian constitution.

In November 2014, cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, participated in a Pachamama rite during which the main officiator and representative of the Institute of Aboriginal Cultures (ICA), Victor Acebo, presented a lengthy and plaintive speech about the pagan “spirituality” of “Mother Earth.” The speech, in Spanish, was clearly understandable on the “Atrio de los gentiles” website, in a video that appears since to have been pulled from the site. The “Courtyard of the Gentiles” was an initiative of Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 to invite non-Catholics and atheists to discover the Catholic faith. In Argentina in 2014, it worked the other way round.

Pachamama was therefore not altogether unknown in Rome when a series of brown and black statuettes of native, naked, pregnant women with their blood-red wombs and fetuses clearly visible — as they are in modern-day depictions of the Mother Earth — made their debut in the city.

Nor can the meaning and sense of the Pachamama “prayer” included in an official booklet of the mission agency of the Italian bishops’ conference have been ignored, especially since said document can be found on particular websites of Italian dioceses, such as Bergamo.

Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute published an English translation of the Italian text of the prayer on his Facebook page.

Here is the full prayer, as translated from the Italian:

Pachamama of these places,
drink and eat as much as you like of these offerings,
so that this land may be fruitful.
Pachamama, good Mother
Be propitious! Be propitious!
Let the oxen walk well,
and let them not get tired.
Make the seed taste good,
that nothing bad happen to it,
that frost may not disrupt it,
that it produce good food.
We ask you:
give us everything.
Be propitious! Be propitious!

(Prayer to the Mother Earth of the Inca peoples)

Interestingly, the original Quechua version of the prayer and its Spanish modern translation are slightly different.

The first two lines read as follows:

Pachamama of these places,
Drink, chew coca, and eat as much as you like of these offerings…

Apparently the Fondazione Missio were wary of the “chewing coca” part, coca being illegal in almost all countries except Bolivia and a few others, where its traditional use is permitted. While viewed by U.N. as an addictive substance, the coca leaf is considered sacred by the indigenous tribes of the Andes, and its mastication is credited with many virtues: it is rich in vitamins, diminishes appetite, and works as a stimulant.

On the other hand, while the production of cocaine from the coca leaf requires a number of complex chemical processes, it acts as a drug even when simply chewed, procuring hallucinations and other effects of a natural narcotic. As such, it was widely used in traditional indigenous rites. It plays an important part in the Pachamama ritual, in particular because of its “stimulating” characteristics, and it is also used to divine the future.

The expunged version of the Pachamama prayer was used at a missionary vigil in Verona, according to a photo of part of the ceremony leaflet posted by a commentator under Michael Hichborn’s Facebook message.

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Judge blocks Alabama law banning abortions, pro-lifers plan to appeal to Supreme Court

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By Calvin Freiburger

October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Alabama’s ban on virtually all abortions will not take effect on November 15 as planned, thanks to a preliminary injunction issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson.

In May, Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, which criminalizes abortion for any reason other than to “avert (a mother’s) death or to avert serious risk of substantial physical impairment of a major bodily function,” or “if a second physician who is licensed in Alabama as a psychiatrist” diagnoses a “serious mental illness” with a “reasonable medical judgment that she will engage in conduct that could result in her death or the death of her unborn child.” 

Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates and the state chapter of the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) went to court to stop the law, and Thompson issued a temporary block on its enforcement on Tuesday, AL.com reports.

“The court is persuaded that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in showing that the Act violates an individual’s constitutional right to obtain a pre-viability abortion, and thus that it violates her constitutional rights,” he wrote.

Spokesmen for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU hailed the ruling as a victory against a law they claim is “unconstitutional” because it bans abortion far earlier than Roe v. Wade’s “viability” cutoff. But the heartbeat law’s supporters welcomed the ruling as part of a broader pro-life strategy, as well.

“Our law was designed to overturn Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court level, and today’s ruling is merely the first of many steps on that legal journey,” Republican state Rep. Terri Collins said in a statement. “I remain confident that our mission will be successful and appreciate the support of millions of citizens who support our effort to preserve unborn life.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has already declared that he intends to take the case to the Supreme Court.

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Jeffrey Younger and his son James SaveJames.com
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Here are the important details of the James Younger verdict (FULL RULING)

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DALLAS, Texas, October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – LifeSiteNews has obtained a certified copy of the complete ruling in the case of seven-year-old James Younger, whose mother wanted him to undergo a gender “transition” against his father’s wishes.

Mr. Jeffrey Younger was fighting to prevent his ex-wife Dr. Anne Georgulas from “transitioning” James into “Luna.” The custody battle over James and his twin, Jude, garnered national attention after initially being ignored by the mainstream media. LifeSiteNews and The Texan were the only news outlets present for the entire trial.

Judge Kim Cooks ultimately ruled that Dr. Georgulas will not be able to “transition” the child into a girl without Mr. Younger’s consent, and placed a gag order on both parents preventing either of them from talking about the case with media until James and Jude turn 18.

Judge Cooks made it clear she was not happy with the media attention the case received, and Dr. Georgulas’ lawyers brought up Mr. Younger’s speaking to the media. He said he felt the public had a right to know what was going on in the medical field.

Judge Cooks did not uphold the jury’s ruling that the current order be modified to provide one of the parents with sole managing conservatorship. She ruled that Mr. Younger and Dr. Georgulas will be joint managing conservators. They will both need to agree on all medical, dental, and psychological/psychiatric care. If a counselor “determines it is appropriate,” Mr. Younger will be granted 50/50 custody in January or June 2020. Judge Cooks’ also mandated family counseling for the entire family. 

Judge Cooks is the same judge who, in 2017, awarded Dr. Georgulas “the exclusive right, after notifying the Father, to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment of the children” and “the exclusive right, after notifying the Father, to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures.”

The court also mandated counseling to address specifically outlined issues and issued an injunction against the parents “making disparaging remarks regarding the other parent in the presence of the children or in the children’s listening.”

Judge Cooks gave the amicus attorney, Mr. Stacy Dunlop, the power to make medical decisions for the boys if Mr. Younger and Dr. Georgulas cannot agree.

“If the parents cannot come to an agreement, they will make an appointment with Stacy Dunlop, the Parenting Coordinator, who will resolve the dispute by making a decision on behalf of the parents if they still disagree,” the ruling says.

Specifically on medical, psychological, psychiatric, and dental issues, Mr. Dunlop will “resolve the dispute by making a decision on behalf of the parents if they still disagree after discussing the disagreement with Stacy Dunlop.” 

Dr. Georgulas has “the exclusive right to the services and earnings of the children, and the exclusive right to receive child support.” 

The ruling also outlines the court’s 68 findings. The court found “that there has been no abuse, neglect, or family violence by either parent to the children or from one parent towards the other.” The court found, “the mother made no request to surgically or chemically transition the child’s sex or to chemically castrate the child.” 

Evidence presented in court indicated Dr. Georgulas had referrals to the GENECIS transgender children’s clinic. Dr. Georgulas also testified that she consulted with the GENECIS clinic about James. Dr. Georgulas’ expert witnesses testified about the alleged benefits of “affirming” transgenderism in children, including the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. 

The court found that, “the State of Texas has no compelling interest to justify such interference as to entering Orders requiring the Father to affirm Luna and honor her [sic] choices, both inside and outside the home.” In other words, Mr. Younger will not be forced to use female pronouns to refer to his son.

One of the court findings highlighted a statement from Dr. Albritton, the custody evaluator, that Dr. Georgulas was “over and above affirming.” The court also found that “the Mother has exceeded the scope of the exclusive rights and duties provided in the prior order.” 

The ruling also said that the state has not mandated the “transition” of James directly: “No Texas judge or Texas court nor the 255th family court of appeal has ordered the chemical castration, puberty blockers, hormone blockers, or any transgnder reassignment surgery on this child.” 

Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw – all of Texas – and many conservative leaders weighed in on the case after it went viral

Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, tweeted: “We don’t let kids drink alcohol til 21. People want to move smoking age to 21. But we will allow a 7 year old to have his life and body altered like this? This is child abuse and the state should side with the father who is trying to protect the child.”

The certified copy of the ruling can be read HERE.

Follow all LifeSiteNews coverage of the James Younger case here.

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William Kilpatrick

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How Amazon Synod could lead to more Muslim violence against Christians

William Kilpatrick
By William Kilpatrick

October 29, 2019 (Turning Point Project) — As I said in a recent column, Pope Francis doesn't understand Islam. More proof of that came on October 4th when the pope participated in what has been described as a "highly symbolic tree-planting ceremony."

Well, you could call it that, but most tree-planting ceremonies don't involve mandalas, hymns to "Mother Earth" and kneeling before statues of pregnant women.

Presumably, that's how Amazonian Indians conduct tree-planting ceremonies, but this ritual was held in the Vatican Gardens, and one of the statues (a carving, really) was presented to Pope Francis during the fertility rite.

But what does Islam have to do with it? Well, in one sense, nothing. Islam wants nothing to do with such activities. Islam was founded as a strict monotheistic religion, and when its founder entered Mecca in 630 he removed and destroyed the 361 idols to pagan gods that were on display in the Kaaba.

In another sense, however, it's likely that Ayatollahs and Imams everywhere are paying close attention to the Catholic Church's new found interest in "Mother Earth". Why? Well, first you need to understand just how seriously some Church leaders are about transforming the Church into something new and strange. Unless you've been on an extended vacation in the more remote areas of the Amazon rainforest, you know that the preparatory document for the Amazon Synod seems to be preparing us for a new Church with an Amazonian face. The document seems to affirm the legitimacy of pantheism, paganism, and ancestor worship. Moreover, contrary to established doctrine, it asserts that the Amazon region is itself a source of divine revelation.

The actual proceedings of the Synod and the omnipresence of "Mother Earth" worshippers in Rome suggest that the preparatory document was not just a pipe dream, but a plan of action. The hope that older and wiser heads would prevail at the Synod is beginning to fade because, although there are a lot of older heads in attendance, they seem to be filled not with wisdom, but with "the beat, beat, beat of the tom-tom."

Yet, at the same time that Church leaders are drifting toward pantheism, they are also trying to improve relations with Islam. The latest move in that direction was the meeting in Abu Dhabi in February between Pope Francis and Ahmad Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. The resulting document on "Human Fraternity" was filled with UN-type nostrums about human brotherhood and the essential sameness of all religions. Although the document contained many misrepresentations of Islamic beliefs, the Grand Imam went along with it. He must have realized that the Pope's bridge-building initiative would provide a certain legitimacy for Islam. After all, the Vatican seal of approval still carries some weight in the world.

But the Church's new Amazonian venture may prove to be a bridge too far for Al-Tayeb and other Muslim leaders. There is no room in Islam for pantheism, and certainly not for worship of "Mother Earth." Muhammad's central message to the pagan tribes of Arabia was that there is only one God.

The first of the Five Pillars of Islam is the recitation of the statement of faith: "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah." That's fairly short as creedal statements go; and it's quite straightforward. There is only one God, and that's that.

The phrase is whispered by the father into the ear of a newborn child, and it appears on the flags of many Islamic states as well as on the flags of jihadist organizations. The oneness of God is the central teaching of Islam. By the same token, the worst sin, from an Islamic viewpoint, is shirk — the sin of practicing idolatry or polytheism. The sin of shirk also includes associating partners with God — such as in the formulation, "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

Devout Muslim are constantly on guard against falling into jahiliyyah — the "Age of Ignorance" which existed before the coming of Islam. One of the major manifestations of this ignorance or "stupidity" was the worship of idols in the form of the sun, or animals, or mythical deities. Now that the Catholic Church seems in danger of falling back into the Age of Ignorance and polytheism, one wonders how much longer Islamic leaders will be willing to maintain the illusion that Catholics and Muslims share a common purpose and common values.

By encouraging the Church to drift down the Amazon, Pope Francis puts at risk the dialogue he has carefully cultivated with Islam. Of course, a moratorium on the Church's dialogue with Islam would not in itself be a bad thing. The meetings have been very much to the advantage of Islam, and it's difficult to see much benefit to the Church. Indeed, the dialogue has, arguably, put more Christians at risk. That's because one of the "red lines" for resuming the dialogue after Al-Tayeb cancelled it was that the Catholic partners should refrain from any criticism of Islam. The strange willingness of Catholic leaders to overlook Islam's role in the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East and Africa is best explained by their tacit acceptance of the red line.

But now, with the Church's apparent openness to pantheism, everything may change, and the risks to Christians will likely be multiplied. Islamic leaders may reason that their "partnership" with the Catholic Church is becoming more of a liability than an asset. The Catholic belief in the Trinity is bad enough, but this new flirtation with the gods of the woods and the waters may prove to be the last straw.

From the Muslim point of view, this is nothing less than shirk. And shirk must be punished. In the Koran, the mere fact of unbelief is sufficient justification for Muslims to wage war against infidels. As news of the Church's turn toward pantheism spreads through the Muslim world — and it will probably spread in a greatly exaggerated fashion — it is likely that persecution of Christians will ramp up. An increasing number of Muslims will come to believe that in killing Christians they are offering up worship to God, who, if the Koran is any indication, has a deep dislike of polytheists.

Meanwhile, the "moderate" Muslims who engage in dialogue with Church leaders will have more leverage. They may not wish to drop the dialogue altogether, because it has been very useful to them. The spread of Islam throughout Europe was enabled in part by the fact that the Vatican lobbied strongly in favor of mass Muslim migration. But now, our Muslim "partners" may feel free to up the ante. Since they can't afford to lose the goodwill of the more excitable members of their own flock, they will be tempted to demand more concessions and more signs of submission from the Church. And they will quite probably succeed. Under Francis, the Church has already adopted a submissive attitude toward Islam — one that even exceeds its submissive attitude toward the secular world and the primitive world.

Francis's Amazon gambit will only go to prove what Muslims have always claimed about Christians — namely, that they have departed from the path ordained by God. And it will provide more evidence that Islam is the one true faith.

The probable result? More conversions to Islam, and more aggressiveness towards Christians. It's not inconceivable that in many parts of the world — including Europe — Christians will be forced to accept the dhimmi status that was imposed on conquered Christians in the past.

After the Regensburg Address, Archbishop Bergoglio said that Pope Benedict had set back the Church's relations with Islam by twenty years. Now that he is pope, it looks as though that relationship will be set back by a good 1,400 years.

Published with permission from the Turning Point Project.

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Protesters rally in support of the Bodnariu family after their children were seized by Norway's child welfare agency.
Robert Clarke

Opinion , ,

Norway is stealing children from their parents. The EU government noticed.

Robert Clarke
By Robert Clarke

October 29, 2019 (The Public Discourse) — In recent weeks, it has been reported that the Norwegian authorities have taken permanent custody of three American children from their Christian parents. Natalya Shutakova, a US citizen, and her husband, Lithuanian citizen Zigintas Aleksandravicius, are now allowed to visit their children only three times per year. Sadly, this is not particularly shocking to those who have been working to protect parental rights in Europe.

It seems remarkable that this can be happening in a country that positions itself as a human rights champion. Through its Agency for Development Cooperation, Norway devotes more than $400 million per year to its priority areas, including the protection of human rights. It is therefore ironic that, despite its public efforts to protect human rights, a human rights violation it would have rather kept hidden has been exposed to the world.

The snatching of the Bodnariu children

In some ways, the story starts in 2015 with the very public removal of the five Bodnariu children — then aged nine to only three months — from their parents by the Barnevernet, Norway's child welfare agency. The first they knew of it was when two black cars approached their farm. A social worker told them that their daughters had been taken directly from school into emergency state care and that the parents should come to the police station to answer questions. At this point, their two older sons were also taken.

The very next day, the black cars appeared again. They were there for the baby. There was an allegation of corporal punishment (illegal in Norway) but, more concerningly, the parents' crime seemed to be seeking to raise the children in line with their Christian faith.

There was, for example, a concern about the way the parents thought that God punishes sin — a willful mischaracterization of the Christian belief in forgiveness and salvation. According to the family, this formed part of the concerns initially raised with Barnevernet by the principal at the daughters' school. The idea that such a core Christian belief was even partial grounds for Barnevernet to swoop in and wrest children from the school gates prompted protests outside dozens of Norwegian embassies around the world from Barcelona to Washington.

This outcry also encouraged others to speak up. At ADF International, we were almost overwhelmed with the number of people who spoke to us of similar cases. After investigating, we became convinced that the Bodnariu case was symptomatic of serious issues with the way in which the Barnevernet was functioning.

Until this point, at the international level, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had routinely rejected cases against Norway relating to Barnevernet, and that route of challenge looked closed. We needed to dig deep into what was happening and to ask the tough questions. We provided information to a number of European parliamentarians who sit as part of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. The Assembly took up the issue and compiled a detailed report. The rapporteur travelled to Norway and met with senior officials and members of the Norwegian Parliament. In the end, the report was presented to the Parliamentary Assembly, which voted to adopt it.

Another case comes to the fore

Around the same time that this report was underway, the ECHR decided to accept a raft of cases filed against Norway challenging these practices. While the Bodnariu case continued to make headlines, another case was heard first. In the Lower Chamber, the ECHR ruled against Ms. Trude Strand Lobben, but the Grand Chamber agreed to review the case, setting the stage for a showdown. This case concerned a young mother who went to the authorities for help when she was pregnant. They offered her a place in a supported family unit. A number of weeks after the birth of her son, she expressed a desire to leave. That set in motion a chain of events that would result in her son being taken away, her contact time reduced to eight hours per year, and, ultimately, her son being given up for adoption.

The ECHR hearing was held in Strasbourg in October 2018. On one side of the courtroom sat Ms. Strand Lobben and her lawyer. The inequality of arms on full display, the Norwegian government was represented in court by none other than its Attorney General supported by eight advisers. Ms. Strand Lobben waited almost a year for the ruling.

This month, she was vindicated by the Grand Chamber, which ruled that Norway had made no effort to reunite her family, as it is obliged to do. The ruling referenced the Report that had been adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly just four months before the hearing in this case. The decision marks only the third time the Grand Chamber has found Norway in violation of the European Convention — a conclusion with which thirteen of the seventeen judges agreed. The tragedy is that this "victory" at the ECHR comes over ten years after Ms. Strand Lobben's son was taken from her. The decision does not have the effect of reuniting mother and son, and neither the judgment nor the small sum of compensation awarded could atone for the damage done to this family.

Norway on trial

The facts of this case generally follow a now well-established — and tragic — pattern. A child is removed based on one specific concern. The parents then robustly challenge the authorities. What should be understood as a reflection of their love for their child is then used against them as demonstrating an unwillingness to work with the authorities. That is used as grounds to prolong the separation, with the original specific concern fading into the background. Eventually, enough time passes that the authorities claim the child is now well-settled and should remain permanently with the foster family. We have seen this pattern repeat time and time again.

Thankfully, the Grand Chamber has now intervened. And it is not just the European Court of Human Rights that is taking note. Recently, Norway was subject to a four-year review of its human rights record at the United Nations in Geneva. Several states and NGOs raised concerns and made recommendations about the way in which Barnevernet has been operating. Norway, battered by the winds of international condemnation, accepted every single recommendation made to protect children from arbitrary removal by Barnevernet and to ensure proper protection for the family.

But accepting recommendations is not enough. It needs to be followed by concrete actions that result in better protection for families. While anyone would agree that there are some cases in which the state should intervene to protect children, this needs to be rare, and based on clear evidence that a child will suffer real harm. And even after a child has been removed, the duty of the state — as the ECHR made clear — is to work vigorously toward bringing the family back together.

Parental rights under fire

Although these revelations concern Norway, it does not stand completely alone when it comes to harmful practices that undermine parents and the family. In Germany, the longstanding prohibition on homeschooling (backed by criminal penalties in some regions) was upheld earlier this year by the ECHR. In the case of the Wunderlich family, four children were snatched from their home by more than thirty police officers in a dawn raid. They were kept for three weeks and subjected to education assessments. They performed at normal levels but were only allowed to return home after their parents promised to send them to school. This treatment, decided the ECHR, was "not implemented in a way which was particularly harsh or exceptional."

Meanwhile, in Sweden, homeschooling is, in theory, allowed. However, permission must be sought, which is only granted under "extraordinary circumstances." In practice, this means almost never. That was the decision of the Swedish Child and Education Board in the case of the Petersen family. The mother and father, dual American and Swedish citizens, had educated their seven-year-old daughter at home during a three-month trip. The results were excellent and, on her return to school, it was clear she was performing at a level well above her classmates. Wanting to continue educating their daughter in this way, they sought and were refused the necessary permission.

The only way they were able to pursue the educational choice they believed to be in their daughter's best interest was to sell almost everything they owned and relocate to the United States. That is clearly not an option available to most, and so ADF welcomed the news that the United Nations Human Rights Committee has agreed to hear this complaint earlier this year. Even more recently, just this month, in Scotland, the government has finally announced that its beleaguered "Named Person" scheme will be dropped. Under the scheme, every child would have been given a state-appointed guardian to oversee his or her well-being.

The scheme was challenged all the way to the UK Supreme Court which, in Summer 2016, ruled that the scheme violated article 8 of the European Convention. In a telling passage, the justices wrote, "Different upbringings produce different people. The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers' view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way."

For more than two years after this judgment, the Scottish government clung to its flagship initiative, suggesting this "snoopers charter" could be amended to become lawful. They have finally given up. And yet British parents cannot rest for long as, separately, Parliament has passed regulations introducing compulsory "relationships and sex education" in English schools from September 2020. Parents can withdraw their children from the sex education aspect until just before they turn 16 but have no right to opt them out of relationships education at any age.

The battle continues

Parents around the world know the profound responsibility and privilege it is to have and to raise children. And governments know the immense power of families and communities as a check on the excesses of the state. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights puts it, the family is the "fundamental group unit" of society. Those who undermine it attack the foundation of our societies and the source of great richness and diversity.

The most generous interpretation of these attacks is that some of the policies, ostensibly aimed at protecting children, are well-intentioned, but misguided. Yet we must also be on guard for those for whom the temptation of power affords the opportunity to force their utopian vision on a future generation by sidelining parents and, ultimately, deconstructing the family.

One of the strands running through many of these threats is the legal test often used in child welfare proceedings. That test says that actions must be judged against what is in the "best interests of the child." While that may sound attractive — who, after all, would want to act against a child's best interests? — this nice-sounding phrase provides no real guidance to courts asked to settle a dispute between parties who both claim to be acting in the best interests of a child. The divergent parties could be the parents; but we also often see the parents on one side, and the state on the other. That was the case for the Bodnariu parents, the parents of Charlie Gard, and for Ms. Strand Lobben. In her case, the judgment referenced this standard 122 times.

If we are to restore the place of parents, and to protect the family, we must revisit this standard. The consequences for those involved in child welfare proceedings can be more serious and long-lasting than even those involved in criminal proceedings. The standards involved must be no less exacting. Intervention must always be a last resort, and only based on verified evidence that a child is in real danger of serious harm. Moreover, in circumstances where separation occurs, parental appeals must be dealt with expeditiously, given the way in which the status quo can quickly become ossified.

Back in Norway, things are far from over. Natalya Shutakova and Zigintas Aleksandravicius have vowed to appeal, and the Bodnariu case, filed in December 2016, is waiting for its day in court. It seems likely that it will mark another bad day for Norway, but a much-needed good day for parents and families across Europe and beyond.

Published with permission from The Public Discourse.

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Athlete Jonathan Eastwood, who now considers himself a girl and goes by 'June.' UM News / YouTube
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Opinion

6-foot, 5-inch male wins girls’ running event, named ‘Woman of the Week’

Tony Perkins Tony Perkins
By Tony Perkins

October 29, 2019 (Family Research Council) — For some college students, it's a parody that hits way too close to home. When the Babylon Bee ran a satirical news story about a motorcyclist identifying as a bicyclist to set a new record, a group of runners at the Big Sky Conference understood all too well. In their conference, boys don't just compete as girls — they get honored for it!

Two years ago, Jonathan Eastwood "dominated" the men's competition. In 2019, he's dominating something else: the women's field. Jonathan, who now goes by "June," "finished second in a field of 204 runners at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational" and "helped the University of Montana finish seventh as a team." For that, school officials decided, he's been named the "Women's Cross-Country Athlete of the Week," edging out eight other actual females for the title.

"Not surprisingly," Bill Zwerger noticed, the six-foot, five inch male "fared quite well against his weaker and slower female competitors this season, finishing first at the U of Montana's Invitational and second (by one second!) at the most recent Bronco Invitational. But that's only to be expected, seeing that he was a top runner ... for the U of M Grizzlie's men X-C and track and field teams as recently as 2017. I have the sneaking suspicion that his latest second-place finish was due to him 'letting off the gas' toward the end of the race, seeking to minimize the negative publicity his winning yet again would have garnered, along with the outrage his female opponents must feel in having a male win every race against them."

When the College Fix contacted the university, they asked why the school didn't disclose the fact that June identifies as a transgender. Spokesman Joel Carlson insisted there "was no subtext." Good luck convincing the rest of the sport, which is struggling to survive this fatal infusion of political correctness. Even now, the NCAA has no answers for girls' track, admitting, "The NCAA does not have a maximum testosterone level for its current policy. The current policy is being reviewed by our membership."

In the meantime, women's high school and college programs are desperately trying to cope as girls lose more races, team eligibility, and scholarships to biological men. Girls like Selena Soule have been adamant that they just want a fair shot. But that's virtually impossible now, she says, in an unlevel playing field. In her complaint to the Department of Education, she argues that women's sports can't compete in an age when biological men can line up and take her trophies. In Connecticut, where she competes, the reality is particularly harsh. The competition board allows boys to race against girls, even without undergoing any sort of hormone therapy.

Olympians like Sharron Davies are furious that the standards are so low now that men can compete against women "no surgery required ... no hormones ... no medical diagnosis ... just self-ID and reduced testosterone to a level [still] x5 the highest average (98 percent) of [real] females." It's "madness!" she argues. The whole reason we have men and women's sports, she points out, is "because we are biologically different. Performance 100 percent confirms that. The reason steroids (including testosterone) are on the banned list is because using them give[s] you an advantage."

And yet, the extinction of women's sports — and the uniqueness of women in general — is exactly what the Democratic Party is championing. Under the radical Equality Act passed by the House, every school would be forced to accept men like June into girls' athletics. It's a policy so near and dear to the 2020 candidates that Joe Biden promised that if he was elected, "[the Equality Act] will be the first thing I ask to be done."

If there is a silver lining to this politically correct lunacy, it's that more people are starting to see the quandary that's created by policies and decision that aren't based in anatomical realities but emotional whims. If biological sex doesn't matter in sports, where does it matter? Good question. One that most liberals can't seem to answer. Members from both sides of the aisle — especially those who claim to be pro-woman and pro-children — need to stop this devastating legislation. The future of women's rights, privacy, protection and athletic potential depends on it.

Published with permission from the Family Research Council.

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Alexandre Duret-Lutz / Flickr
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Diocese recommends youth ministers read books by dissidents who endorse homosexuality, women priests

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By Lianne Laurence
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HAMILTON, Ontario, October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The diocese of Hamilton, Ontario, is refusing to explain why a summer reading guide for youth ministers included books by notorious Catholic dissenters who advocate for, among other things, the ordination of women as “priests” and the normalization of homosexuality within the Catholic Church.

Director of youth ministry Christina Mines referred LifeSiteNews to diocesan chancellor Msgr. Murray Kroetsch when asked about the list.

“We have no comment,” Msgr. Kroetsch told LifeSiteNews when asked if Bishop Douglas Crosby approved the recommendations.

The list for youth ministers, who oversee the faith formation of Catholics ages 11 to 17, includes Fr. Richard McBrien’s The Church: The Evolution of Catholicism, Fr. James Martin’s My Life With the Saints, Susan Sink’s Art in the Saint John’s Bible, Scott Kline’s The Ethical Being: A Catholic Guide to Contemporary Issues, and Fr. Ron Rolheiser’s The Holy Longing: The Search for Christian Spirituality. 

The preeminent dissenter of these is the late McBrien, the one-time Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame who brazenly supported the ordination of women as “priests,” the repeal of mandatory priestly celibacy, and the acceptance of contraception, as noted in his 2015 New York Times obituary.

McBrien also infamously opined that “if” Jesus had married, “it’s only a short putt to Mary Magdalene” as his likely spouse, as quoted by Ronald J. Rychlak in a 2005 summary of McBrien’s oeuvre on CatholicCulture.org

A media favorite and consultant for 2006 anti-Catholic film The DaVinci Code, McBrien was adroit at appearing solid enough in the faith to have “cover when he wants to deny that he departs in any way from Catholic teaching,” Rychlak wrote. That suggests McBrien’s work holds particular dangers for young people.

Moreover, after McBrien published the first edition of his major work, Catholicism, in 1981, “(a)lmost immediately the doctrinal committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops pointed out serious problems with it and asked McBrien to make revisions. The third edition was released in 1994 — still without an imprimatur,” noted Rychlak.

The Vatican Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices announced after two years’ study that Catholicism was “inaccurate or misleading in describing Church teachings on the virgin birth, the ordination of women, and other issues,” he added. McBrien not only “failed to remove the previously noted ambiguities from the previous editions, but he had introduced new ones.”

LGBTQ advocate Martin on the list 

Fr. Martin, SJ, also recommended for Hamilton’s youth ministers, is an LGBTQ advocate who consistently omits mention that the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual activity is intrinsically disordered and that same-sex attraction itself is an objective disorder.  

The celebrity priest and editor-at-large for liberal-leaning Jesuit America Magazine recently questioned the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality, earning him a rebuke from a U.S. bishop and a cardinal, and floated the canard that recently canonized Cardinal John Henry Newman was “gay.” 

Martin also defended the annual retreat for “gay” priests held by New Ways Ministry, a dissident group long condemned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, then accused LifeSiteNews of “homophobia at its most malign” for publishing an article describing the retreat as “a portal of hell.”

As for others, Sink is an American writer and poet and author of the 2012 book Habits, about the Benedictine nuns of St. Joseph’s, Minnesota. Sink advocates priestesses, describing in a 2011 blog post attending a “Mass presided over by a Roman Catholic woman priest.” These women were “ordained as priests by male bishops or by women priests who were ordained by male bishops or, increasingly, women bishops” but are “not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church,” asserts Sink.

“A few years ago, there was even a pronouncement that the act of being a woman ordained automatically excommunicates both the woman and whoever ordains her,” she adds.

Kline’s The Ethical Being: A Catholic Guide to Contemporary Issues, drew this response on Amazon: “Threw this book in the trash after reading what it had to say about sexual issues. The opinion was not Catholic and not interesting.” Interim president and vice chancellor of St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo, Kline talks about his relationship with known dissenter, ex-priest and homosexual Gregory Baum in a 2017 Faith Works video, describing how he sought to study under Baum at McGill. 

Fr. Rolheiser espoused doctrinally incorrect views on hell in a May 9, 2019 column, stating “many of our great saints” believed “the final triumph of God’s love will be when Lucifer himself converts, returns to heaven, and hell is finally empty. Fanciful? No.” 

Kerry Weber is executive editor of America Magazine and frequently retweets Fr. Martin and other controversial people.

‘A load of garbage’: homeschooling mom

Adèle Darnowski, who grew up in Ontario, gave the list a scathing critique.

“I am a mother of 10 homeschooled children, and this list of summer reading books is precisely why I stay away from most everything diocesan and keep my children away too!” she told LifeSiteNews in an email.

“It’s also the reason that I stay away from Catholic Youth Ministry in general. What a load of garbage! The people who compiled this reading list and their superiors should be immediately removed from their positions. They are endangering young souls, and very likely purposely. Hell is real! It’s real easy to get there,” Darnowski said.

“I could see someone letting one heretical author through unknowingly,  but almost the entire list is comprised of bad, bad people, with super bad agendas!”  

That’s echoed by her husband, Douglas, a biology professor.

“My opinion, put bluntly since I am a American by birth, and, even worse, a New Yorker: the person who has come up with this list is either 1) really dumb, perhaps willfully, perhaps from the modern desire to just go along with everyone to get along with everyone, a false gospel, or 2) a phony Catholic who has a real goal to undermine and destroy, since that list of authors will do exactly that, undermine and destroy,” he said.

“Fr. Martin, whose book is on the list, has just called Holy Scripture wrong on homosexuality, or rather he has done so in a dishonest way by just saying enough so that everyone understands what he means. He then leaves just enough doubt so that the people in category 1) above will say ‘Oh, wait, but maybe what meant was … ' in the usual whiny effeminate voice,” added Darnowski père.

“Please God, someone in Hamilton (the bishop maybe?) will have the honesty and decency to slap this list of trash to the curb. We can always dream.”

To respectfully express your concerns, contact:

Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., D.D.
700 King Street West
Hamilton, Ontrio, L8P 1C7
Phone: (905) 528-7988 x2222
Send Email

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Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, Rome, Sept. 2019.
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‘Courageous…prophets of today’: Dubia cardinal praises men who threw Pachamamas in Tiber

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By Maike Hickson
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'Pachamama' statue on bridge over Tiber river prior to being thrown in, Rome, Oct. 21, 2019.

October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, one of the two remaining dubia cardinals and a respected Church historian – praised the men who removed the controversial pagan “Pachamama” statues from a church in Rome and threw them into the Tiber River as “courageous...prophets of today.” 

“These two young men who threw these tasteless idols into the Tiber have not committed theft, but have done a deed, a symbolic act as we know it from the Prophets of the Old Covenant, from Jesus – see the cleansing of the Temple – and from Saint Boniface who felled the Thor Oak near Geismar,” said the German cardinal to LifeSiteNews.

The 90-year old former President of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences added that now these two men “are being accused of theft on the part of the Vatican.” 

“To what grotesque contortions are those capable who find themselves in an utmost embarrassment!” Brandmüller stated.

“These two courageous 'Maccabees' who have removed the 'abomination of desolation in the holy place' are the prophets of today. Spoken in secular terms, I would think that the champagne corks really had to pop here,” he added.

As LifeSiteNews reported, on October 21, two men had gone into Santa Maria in Traspontina Church near St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, removed several of the controversial Pachamama statues that had been there on display and then threw them into the Tiber River. On October 25, Pope Francis apologized for this act to those who felt offended, calling these statues “Pachamama statues.” He also considered displaying them during the closing Mass on 27 October, but this did not take place, perhaps also due to resistance from prelates within the synod hall and outside.

Further commenting on the Amazon Synod, Cardinal Brandmüller repeated his critique of the “group of ideologues” who “do not wish to understand the 'celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.'” 

These wish to “bring down celibacy,” he said. According to the German prelate, these people “have been working for this for decades.” The fact that they “merely speak about a special exception for the Amazon, is just a dirty, but obvious trick. It is not about the Amazon – everything is at stake.”

Next to Cardinal Brandmüller, other prelates have also raised their voice of opposition against the display of Pachamama statues in the Vatican. For example, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, in an October 24 interview with ETWN's Raymond Arroyo, said that the “great mistake was to bring the idols into the Church, not to put them out, because according to the Law of God Himself – the First Commandment – idolism [idolatry] is a grave sin and not to mix them with the Christian liturgy.”

Putting the removal of the Pachamama statues into perspective he commented: “To put it [the statues] out,” Müller continued, “to throw it out, can be against human law, but to bring the idols into the Church was a grave sin, a crime against the Divine Law.”

José Luis Azcona Hermoso, the Bishop Emeritus of the Brazilian city of Marajó condemned the pagan rituals with the Pachamama statues as “demonic sacrilege,” and Bishop Marian Eleganti of Chur, Switzerland said in comments to LifeSite that, even if the Pope now claims that the Pachamama statues were used “without idolatrous intentions,” “there would still remain the scandal that it at least looks like such [idolatry] and that the Rock of Peter [the Pope] is not at all getting worried about it.” On the contrary, wrote Eleganti, the Pope “even defends those rituals conducted in the Vatican Gardens” which are “alien to Christianity.” 

Finally, Bishop Athanasius Schneider published an October 27 open letter, in which he stated that “Catholics cannot accept any pagan worship, nor any syncretism between pagan beliefs and practices and those of the Catholic Church.”

“The acts of worship of kindling a light, of bowing, of prostrating or profoundly bowing to the ground and dancing before an unclothed female statue, which represents neither Our Lady nor a canonized saint of the Church, violates the first Commandment of God: 'You shall have no other gods before Me,'” he added.

Just like Cardinal Brandmüller, Bishop Schneider compared the men who had thrown the Pachamama statues into the Tiber River with Maccabees and praised them. He calls their action “a highly meritorious, courageous and praiseworthy act of some brave Christian gentlemen,” and adds that “like a new “Maccabees” they acted in the spirit of the holy wrath of Our Lord, who expelled the merchants from the temple of Jerusalem with a whip. The gestures of these Christian men will be recorded in the annals of Church history as a heroic act which brought glory to the Christian name, while the acts of high-ranking churchmen, on the contrary, who defiled the Christian name in Rome, will go down in history as cowardly and treacherous acts of ambiguity and syncretism.”

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Cardinal Gerhard Müller on EWTN, Oct. 24, 2019.
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Cardinal Müller criticizes key Amazon Synod organizer: ‘Some people don’t understand what is a dogma’

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By Maike Hickson

October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In an October 24 interview with EWTN's Raymond Arroyo, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, criticized some statements made by Bishop Erwin Kräutler, one of the prominent actors at the recently concluded Amazon Synod in Rome. 

Bishop Kräutler recently stated in a new book that all the points that he presented to Pope Francis in a private audience in 2014 have been included in the Amazon Synod's discussions. Among these points was the married male priesthood, but also for the female priesthood, which he promoted in two of his books and even during the Amazon Synod.

When Raymond Arroyo asks Cardinal Müller about Kräutler's claim that the Church's ban on the female priesthood is “not a dogma,” the German cardinal responded with the words: “Surely this is dogmatic. I think some people don't understand what is a dogma.”
“A dogma is not only a formal declaration of the Magisterium,” he continued, “but it is also the doctrine of the Church according to the truths of the Revelation, and so many mysteries of our Christian Faith are not dogmatized.” 

Cardinal Müller pointed out that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger declared that Pope John Paul II's 1994 document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis stating the ban on female priests is “an infallible document.” The document stated that the Church has “no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.”

Commented Müller: “It does not depend upon the opinion of a certain bishop or theologian to decide what is the importance of a document of the Magisterium.”

Later on in the interview, when speaking about the strong influence of some European bishops on the Synod, Cardinal Müller returned on his own initiative to Bishop Kräutler, but without mentioning his name. 

“One of these bishops,” he continued, “who has never, during his forty years [in Brazil] baptized one of these people [the indigenous] – that is a direct offense against Jesus Christ.” Kräutler has been quoted for decades in Austrian media with the words: “I have never in my life baptized an indigenous [person], and I also do not have the intention of ever doing so.” This is what Cardinal Müller is referring to in his remarks.

“Baptism has nothing to do with colonialism,” the German cardinal explained, but with Jesus Christ who through this sacrament is “giving the grace of childhood of God, so that we become children of God in the Sacrament of Baptism.”

“And if a bishop, a successor of the Apostles, is saying 'we don't need baptism,' it is absolutely a contradiction to Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ sent the apostles and all of their successors to all the world in order to baptize all people, all of the believers in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” Müller added and then concluded: “Everybody has the right to listen to the Word of God and become healed and to get his salvation in the Faith and in the Sacraments.”

During an October 25 presentation of his new book Roman Encounters in Washington, D.C., Cardinal Müller also made a reference to Kräutler and his claim never to have baptized an indigenous. As writer Bree A. Dail reported on Twitter regarding Müller’s words: “Bishop Kräutler boasts of not having baptized a single indigenous soul in the Amazon. He also is proposing viri probati (married priests) due to shortage of priests for Mass. How can these people receive the Eucharist if they are not Baptized? It is impossible.”

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Amazon Synod guests bow to wooded statues in Vatican gardens' ceremony prior to opening of Amazon Synod, Oct. 4, 2019, Rome.
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Vatican News alters interview of Amazon Synod’s key organizer approving ‘pagan worship’

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By Maike Hickson

October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Vatican News, the information system of the Holy See, has scrubbed an interview with Fr. Paulo Suess, one of the key authors of the controversial Amazon Synod's working document, in which he defended the pagan ceremonies that took place in the Vatican during the synod. 

Last week, LifeSiteNews reported on a lengthy interview given by Fr. Suess in which he discussed the heavily criticized pagan ceremonies that took place in the Vatican during the recently concluded Synod, and which were conducted in the presence of Pope Francis.

He said that, “when during the opening ceremony the Pope picked us and the indigenous up at St. Peter's, there was to be seen also a canoe boat. And then someone wrote that this is a pagan rite.” Inside the canoe was a carved wooden statue which has been the center of controversy that critics say is the “Pachamama” fertility idol. “So what,” was Suess's response to the claim that this ceremony was a pagan rite. 

“Even if it would have been a pagan rite, then it is nevertheless a pagan worship of God,” he added.

“A rite always has something to do with worship of God,” continued this professor of Missiology from Brazil. “One cannot dismiss the pagan [rite] as nothing. What is pagan? In our big cities, we are not less pagan than those there in the jungle. One should reflect upon this.” 

It should be noted that Vatican News originally altered the specific words of Suess that were captured by video when it omitted his word “pagan” in the former sentence “then it is nevertheless a pagan worship of God.”

This interview caused a stir among Catholics, since this key architect of the Amazon Synod's working document showed clearly that he has no objections to pagan ceremonies in the Vatican. In his new statement of October 27, Bishop Athanasius Schneider made an explicit reference to this original Suess interview with Vatican News.

However, since LifeSite's report on this controversial interview, Vatican News has removed both the video and audio that had been published along with its report, and it also cut out the entire passage on these words from Suess in the article. The video with the entire interview with Suess is still on the Facebook of Vatican News, but it is not anymore shown on the article itself. And the audio has also been removed, but LifeSite was able to retrieve it in an archived version. Vatican News did not make a note that their article had been updated or altered.

Several outlets have noticed this omission, among them being Infovaticana and Catholic News Agency (CNA). 

This is not the only event where the Vatican has been found to cover up some uncomfortable truths. Another example is the fact that the Prefect of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Communications, Paolo Ruffini, flatly denied at the press conference of October 25 that at the October 4 pagan ceremony in the Vatican Gardens, there took place a physical prostration before the pagan idol, Pachamama. By way of contrast, Ruffini stated: “There were no rituals. No prostration took place. We have repeated this here. We have to be rigorous in saying things that actually happened before cameras. We said that this did not happen.”

Another example is the recurrent refusal by speakers during the Vatican's press conferences – among them Mr. Ruffini himself – to acknowledge that the wooden statues of a pregnant, naked woman are Pachamama statues. They, instead, called the statues “a symbol of fertility and life.” In the end, it was Pope Francis himself who, on October 25 in the synod hall, called the statues “Pachamama statues.” 

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Mom discovers missing 15-yr-old still alive after traffickers post videos of her at top porn site

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By Jonathon Van Maren

WARNING: The following contains disturbing details of a sexual and violent nature. 

October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The links between pornography and human trafficking have long been established, but rarely have the connections been so horribly apparent as in a recent story reported on earlier this month by Newsweek. The mother of a 15-year-old girl from South Florida who had been missing for almost a year discovered that her daughter was still alive when pornographic photographs and videos of the missing teen were published online.

According to the arrest report of the 30-year-old man who she was found with, the girl, who remains unnamed due to the fact that she is still a minor, had also appeared in fifty-eight porn videos and had appeared on Periscope, Modelhub, Pornhub, and Snapchat. 

At one point during the time she spent under this man’s control, she ended up getting pregnant and told detectives that she was forced to have an abortion against her will. 

According to police, the man’s name is Christopher Johnson, and he has since been arrested and charged. The felony charge, lewd battery against a victim between the ages of 12 and 16, resulted in his bail being set by a Broward Country judge in Fort Lauderdale at $75,000. Detective Adam Granit noted that the police discovered paperwork at the man’s apartment that confirmed the girl’s allegation of being forced into an abortion, despite Johnson’s claim that he’d never had sex with her. (He’d also uploaded videos having sex with the minor online, contradicting his feeble claims.)

There are several things to note about this story. The first is simply this: PornHub is the most popular porn outlet in the world, which means many people were watching an underaged girl get victimized by an older man—and if the reports turn out to be true, possibly several older men. 

In other words, PornHub viewers were getting sexual enjoyment out of what turned out to be a horrific crime. Many people reading this will have visited PornHub at some time or another themselves, and you need to know this: This girl’s story is not unique.

One of my friends who also speaks on the porn issue frequently tells the story of one of his friends who once worked in the porn industry. At one point, this girl was raped on camera, and as often happens, the porn companies insisted there had been consent for what took place. The video of her rape was put online for the enjoyment of porn users, and years later, when she was out of the porn industry and beginning to heal from the brutal treatment and accompanying substance abuse, this young woman was told by a young man who recognized her that she was in one of his favorite porn videos. His favorite scene? The one in which she’d been raped. He’d consumed her rape for his enjoyment, over and over—without knowing he was watching rape.

As the anti-porn non-profit Fight the New Drug noted sarcastically on Twitter after Newsweek broke the story: “Yet ANOTHER example of PornHub hosting videos of literal sex trafficking.” 

It is awful to contemplate the fact that in a culture where sexual violence is becoming ubiquitous in popular pornography across the board, events that constitute a hellish nightmare for many young women are becoming the fulfillment of sexual fantasy for many young men. The porn industry is destroying our souls and twisting our minds, and it is long past time that we evicted it abruptly from our lives.

And then there is the sad fact that this teenage girl got pregnant as a result of the sexual abuse she endured, and that this unwanted child was promptly killed at an abortion clinic. The men who trafficked her do not believe that her body should nurture and nourish her child—that would interfere with their plans to extract pleasure from her and put her on display for others. And as usual, the abortion industry turned out to be the best friend of sex traffickers, pimps, and rapists, ready to assist them in covering up their crimes by killing the babies that resulted from them. They are enablers of the worst kinds of exploitation, and many sex offenders are free today because an abortionist had their backs.

The porn industry and the abortion industry reduce women and children to meat, feeding them to carnivorous consumers in a culture that has lost all sense of right and wrong. A culture that respected women’s rights would be outraged at the fact that millions upon millions of people entertain themselves by watching girls get sexually violated and thrashed onscreen, but our culture pretends that “women’s rights” means that if any children show up unexpectedly, they can be hastily shredded and discarded so that the show can go on. 

Jonathon’s new podcast, The Van Maren Show, is dedicated to telling the stories of the pro-life and pro-family movement. In his latest episode, he interviews Jason Jones, president and founder of Human Rights Education Organization and Movie to Movement and producer of the pro-life movie ‘Bella.’ Jones experienced the heartbreaking tragedy of losing his first daughter to abortion. His high school girlfriend’s father took her to get an abortion while Jones was away at basic training. “I exploded!” Jones shares. He goes on to say that he didn’t even know abortion was legal until he found out he had lost his child to abortion.

You can subscribe here and listen to the episode below: 

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World’s leading authority on St. John Henry Newman says Pope Francis is 'causing confusion'
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World’s leading authority on St. John Henry Newman says Pope Francis is ‘causing confusion’

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By John-Henry Westen

ROME, Italy, October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Fr. Ian Ker is widely recognized as the leading authority in the world on the recently canonized St. John Henry Newman. In this episode 39 of The John-Henry Westen Show, LifeSite’s Jim Hale sat down with him to discuss Pope Francis and what he thinks St. Newman would have made of the Church today.

When asked if he thought Cardinal Newman would support women’s ordination and married priests, Fr. Ker flatly stated “nonsense!” Many liberals like to quote Newman for having said “to live is to change,” Fr. Ker said, but Newman also said that Christianity changes “in order to remain the same.”

Fr. Ker said that Pope Francis is “really a throwback to the 1970s Jesuits…in other words, a liberal.” Francis has “created great doctrinal confusion” and has said “crude, vulgar” things. “It’s terrible what’s happening.” He’s “very vindictive,” he added. But, as Newman once said, Fr. Ker noted, “The Church always survives these things.” 

Hilariously, Fr. compared Pope Francis to U.S. President Donald Trump. They “both like sacking people,” he said, referring to Francis’ dismissal of Cardinal Muller from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. “The only different between him and Trump is Trump’s got a beautiful wife and he hasn’t.” 

Fr. Ker said Pope Francis has made some “appalling appointment(s)” in his choice of Cardinals. He brought up how Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia and Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles have both been denied red hats and how liberal U.S. Cardinal Tobin of New Jersey was chosen.

Speaking of St. John Henry Cardinal Newman, Fr. Ker said he considers him “the doctor par excellance…of the postconciliar Church just like St. Robert Bellermine is the doctor par excellence of the Tridentine Church.” 

Newman “anticipated the council” and “could’ve predicted the confusion that followed Vatian II,” Fr. argues. “That wouldn’t have surprised him in the least bit.” He “never lost his sense of humor even in the darkest hour.”

The John-Henry Westen Show is available by video on the show’s YouTube channel and right here on my LifeSite blog.

It is also available in audio format on platforms such as SpotifySoundcloud, and Pippa. We are awaiting approval for iTunes and Google Play as well. To subscribe to the audio version on various channels, visit the Pippa.io webpage here.

We’ve created a special email list for the show so that we can notify you every week when we post a new episode. Please sign up now by clicking here. You can also subscribe to the YouTube channel, and you’ll be notified by YouTube when there is new content.

You can send me feedback, or ideas for show topics by emailing [email protected].

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How parents can help kids meditate, contemplate during family Rosary

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By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Earlier this month, I spoke of the beauty and power of the prayers that compose the Rosary, and the benefits of repetitive—not vainly repetitious—vocal prayer.

But there is more to the Rosary than the bones and muscles, so to speak, of its vocal prayers. The Dominicans who promoted this devotion, and the Popes who later praised it, have long commended the practice of meditating on the mysteries of Christ and His Mother while we “tell our beads,” and it is in this deeper layer that we shall find, with patience and persistence, the greatest treasures. 

We tend to be frightened by the word “meditation” and even more by the word “contemplation,” as if they should be mentioned only in connection with heroes of asceticism and mysticism, or at very least, monks and nuns far removed from the distractions and demands of ordinary life. But one look at the words will assure us that what they signify is within our reach. 

The verb meditari simply means to consider, ponder, reflect upon. The verb contemplare means to look at attentively or eagerly, and was later used to describe the careful observation of sky and stars. The one who contemplates “ponders the heavens.” When we meditate the mysteries of the Rosary, we train our minds on moments of special prominence in the life of Christ and His Mother, which in turn form us in their image.

As with turning a beautiful gem in one’s fingers, looking at it from every different angle to see how the light plays off its facets, so it is with meditating on Gospel scenes and Marian events while we utter short prayers: these scenes and events become more light-filled, more transparent to us. The Christian mysteries recollected in the Rosary are a wellspring of wisdom, an incitement to good works, a comfort in affliction, a redoubling of joy, a purification of the mind’s eye, a ladder to God’s throne. The purpose of the Rosary is to make all Christians contemplatives, so far as our state in life allows and so long as we persevere in prayer.

Just as it is never prudent or charitable to judge a person by his external appearance without having some knowledge of the state of his soul, so we must not fall into the same mistake with the Rosary. It, too, has a body that is easily noticed by the senses, and a soul that must be discovered and explored by the mind and heart. The beads in our hands, the vocal prayers on our lips—these are the “body” of the Rosary; but mental prayer and meditation on the mysteries, Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious (and some like to include the Luminous), are the “soul” of the Rosary. 

As a body is lifeless without the soul acting in it, so too, the prayers of the Rosary can become paralyzed, can seem unalive, if they are mechanically spoken and severed from their ultimate purpose. It is just for this reason that some who start praying the Rosary become discouraged and give up, while others who have prayed it a long time no longer gather as much fruit from it as they should. If the risk of mechanical recitation looms upon the beginner or threatens the lifelong devotee, he or she should do something about it rather than giving up or staying in a rut. 

There are several aids to meditation that can be recommended. First and foremost, one may take up one of the many versions of the “Scriptural Rosary,” by which verses of Sacred Scripture are sown into the recitation of the prayers. I will recommend several that we have used in our family: Scriptural Rosary; Behold Thy Mother: An English/Latin Scriptural Rosary; A Scriptural Rosary (different author); The Mysteries of Christ: A Scriptural Rosary. But there are dozens of such publications, and I don’t mean to claim that these are necessarily the best ones. They are, nevertheless, very good ones to use. Because the Bible is a repository of the truth we embrace, the law we live by, and the hope we cherish, we should strive to make it an intrinsic part of our daily prayer. The Scriptural Rosary can be a fine way to do that.

Second, one could use a book or booklet that presents images of the mysteries together with meditations for the decades. The best example I know of is The Rosary with Fra Angelico and Giotto, but the Sacred Art Series Rosary Flip Book is also worthwhile, and a neat concept: the book features its own easel, so that for each mystery the appropriate image can be displayed. (The Luminous Mysteries are available separately.) Those who find the style of Byzantine icons more conducive to prayer could assemble their own set of Rosary images by searching at sites that sell small reproductions of icons (like Jordanville or St. Isaac’s Skete). For little children especially, it can be helpful to have something to hand to them to look at and get absorbed in during the recitation of the Rosary. (Really, any book of good religious art will do, but it’s nice if it can be somewhat related to the mysteries being prayed.)

Third, we can prepare a more suitable environment for praying the Rosary. Turning down the lights and lighting candles by an image of Our Lord or Our Lady creates an atmosphere that fosters meditation. Sometimes it may be appropriate to sing a short chant or song before and after, or between mysteries, to bring in the elevating quality of music. We can make a point of kneeling for the Sorrowful Mysteries if we are not already accustomed to kneeling, since this will remind us more surely of the Passion.

These are just some suggestions, not necessarily to be used all at once, but simply if and when they are helpful.

The goal of the Rosary is to lift our souls to God through contemplation of the greatest mysteries of faith. When the Rosary is thus regarded in the light of its eternal and infinite content, it is no wonder the Saints have praised it so lavishly, Sister Lucia of Fatima assuring us that, second to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the most pleasing prayer to God is the “Psalter of the Virgin.” 

With such considerations before us, it should be clear why this 700-year old prayer, through which our knowledge and love of Scripture and Tradition is deepened, ought to be of central importance to the Catholic who is serious about his or her faith. 

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A boat carrying a wooden statue of a naked woman with child ('Pachamama') is carried by indigenous people in St. Peter's Basilica during the opening ceremony for the Amazon Synod, Rome, Oct. 7, 2019. Vatican News / video screen grab
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Amazonian ‘missionary team’ hides Pachamama from LifeSite journalists trying to photograph it

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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.” Read all of her Amazon Synod diary posts HERE.

Friday, October 25, 2019 

It rained hard on Thursday night, and the pavement was still wet this morning when I ventured out for Mass and my customary cappuccino. Going to Mass before beginning work feels like I’m putting on invisible armor for the day ahead. Today I definitely needed it. 

The line-up at the press conference after the morning’s synod meetings included Sister Inés Azucena Zambrano Jara, a Colombian missionary sister; Fr. Miguel Heinz, the German president of Adveniat, a German charitable organization; a Brazilian Lutheran pastor named Nicolau Nascimento de Pavia; and Bishop Evaristo Pascoal Spengler, O.F.M., the ordinary of Marajó in Brazil.    

The person who interested me most here is Fr. Heinz, for Adveniat has an annual income of $56 million. This chunk of change comes to the German relief organization thanks to the Catholic German taxpayer, who has to pay the government’s Church tax or sign a form excommunicating himself. German bishops are paid by the state, too, so separation of Church and state is not as clear cut as it is in Canada and the U.S. At any rate, the separation of the Churches in the Amazon region and the Church in Germany cannot be clear cut, either, as the Church in Germany is pouring millions of dollars into Amazon-region Church programs.  

Fr. Heinz spoke second, right after Sister Inés, and the first thing he said was a joke at her expense. The Colombian nun had spoken very enthusiastically about her experience as a woman at the synod and about the indigenous people she serves. The German priest told the assembled world media that he would speak Spanish, “but more slowly than Sister.”

There was a hearty laugh from the more sycophantic types among the media (more on them anon), and Sister Inés' face fell. She looked at Heinz reproachfully and indicated her watch, and I thought all this German and Latin American agitation for women’s “ordination” is not going to stop powerful German men from making jokes at Latin American women’s expense. Naturally Heinz advocated in his speech for a Church that is “moving forward” and said that the Latin American Church is ahead of the German Church in implementing Vatican II and “living in a new way.” 

The behavior of the press was really odd, as if they weren’t actually journalists―or even journalist-activists―but PR officers. During the question period, they applauded after Paolo Ruffini, the Prefect for the Dicastery of Communications, told journalist Sandro Magister a flat untruth: that there had been no prostrations before the Pachamama images. Well, we’ve all seen the photos, if we haven’t seen the actual footage, so why were the journos clapping? 

The next episode of bizarre press behavior occurred when my LifeSiteNews colleague Diane Montagna began to ask her questions. Diane asked about the wish to admit women to holy orders in the face of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s will for a male priesthood, the meeting three Brazilian bishops had had with Brazilian socialist and communist politicians in Rome the previous week, and how much money and personnel Adveniat had contributed to the synod.

Good questions, right? And yet other journalists sighed audibly, groaned, complained, and a woman cried “Oh, come on!” as if asking difficult questions was not, in fact, our job.  

The hubbub can’t be heard on the Vatican News video, but you can see a woman from “FutureChurch” turn in her seat and look daggers at Diane. 

“How about a drink?” I asked Diane afterwards.

“I don’t really have time for coffee,” she replied.

“I didn’t say coffee,” I said with meaning. 

I felt like only a gin-and-tonic could help me recover from the toxicity in that room.  

However, I managed to recover without alcohol, which was a very good thing, for soon afterwards I heard the surreptitious recording of Pope Francis saying that the police had recovered the “Pachamamas” from the Tiber and that he, as Bishop of Rome, apologized for their theft from Santa Maria in Traspontina. 

The Pachamama story once again dominates the synod, suspected violations of the First Commandment driving any other Amazonian concerns out of the mind of the world’s English-speaking synod-watchers. 

Saturday, October 28, 2019: The Return of the Pachamamas

A sunny day in Rome, part sublime, part frightening, part ridiculous. Pope Francis had suggested that the apparently recovered Pachamama statues might be displayed in St. Peter’s Basilica for the synod’s closing Mass on Sunday. This led to several references to the Abomination of Desolation (see Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14, and Daniel 9:27) on social media. Some Catholic Twitter users are foretelling terrible fates for St. Peter’s, which makes me rather nervous, as I will be in it tomorrow, covering the closing Mass. 

But I forgot about that when I joined the Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage to the Chair of Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica late this morning for a wonderful Mass celebrated according to the Extraordinary Form. My LifeSiteNews colleague Jim was there, filming it, and it truly was “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven,” complete with a trained and reverent choir. 

As this Mass was celebrated in St. Peter’s, not heaven, an elderly couple in front of me chatted audibly non-stop for the 40 or so minutes between the pilgrims’ arrival and the beginning of the celebration. I mention this only so readers who are inspired to see the Mass of Ages don’t expect perfect consideration from us all-too-human traditionalists. The Mass was incomparably sublime; the congregation―not so much. Still, it was only that one elderly couple who made a racket while others prayed, and maybe they are deeply in love.  

Afterwards I went to lunch with Jim and other English-speaking traditionalists. On the way we passed a group of the Amazonian “missionary team” greeting cardinals by Vatican City’s Porta Sant’Anna. To my horror, they were holding a large banner with the photograph of a naked indigenous woman breastfeeding a piglet. Once I failed to ask the obvious question: why did they think this image was the best way of representing their cause to the outside world? Instead Jim and I joined tourists in taking photographs as cardinals posed with the Amazonians. One of the activists shook a rattle around a smiling cardinal. Apart from the piglet and rattles, it all reminded me of a polling station in the UK, where party activists are allowed to stand outside and influence votes. 

When Jim and I passed that way again, two hours later, the missionary team was still at the gate, posing for pictures with tourists. This time, however, they had a large carving of Pachamama with them. This surprised us, as we had been told the Pachamamas were in police custody. Is there an inexhaustible supply? Jim left me his camera bag and strode around in front to capture Pachamama’s return, but the Amazonians began to object. One woman hid Pachamama behind her back as the group began to remonstrate with Jim. I saw one of them pointing at his press badge.  

Jim turned for his bag looking chagrined.

“They said, ‘We’ve had enough of you,’” he said.  

I went back to my apartment to write and to nap. But I got a tip that the Final Document of the Synod was going to be released, so I packed up my computer and rushed to the Sala Stampa. There were a few journalists sitting around the auditorium watching a live-feed of the final synod meeting. Unfortunately, Pope Francis gave his final address in Spanish and the handy translation devices were nowhere to be found, so my colleagues listening at home certainly understood more of it than I did. For what it’s worth, here’s the link to the Vatican News report. I did understand when Pope Francis was criticizing “Christian elites,” and I assumed rightly that he was not talking about cardinals, bishops, or anyone else who came to Rome on the Catholic German taxpayers’ 10 Euro cents.  

The last synod meeting wrapped up with a solemn Te Deum in Latin and then a joyful song by some of the participants. Then the livestream ended and more journalists started drifting into the hall. Some big names turned up for this final press conference: The New York Times, The Washington Post. The reporters with contacts within the synod or who had waylaid the synod participants began to whisper the results of the Final Document to their pals: married priests had got the two-thirds vote needed. Women’s “ministries” had passed “with a comfortable margin.” The “Amazonian Rite” had passed.

Select journalists were emailed the synod document by the Sala Stampa, with strict instructions not to publish until the press conference was over. My colleague Diane got it, and she mailed it to our editor-in-chief and to me. It was in Spanish. Someone handed Diane a sealed copy of the working English translation just before the conference began.  

Tonight’s panelists were Bishop David Martínez, who looked overjoyed, and Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J. The press was given strict instructions that all questions had to be about the Final Document (which we hadn’t had time to read), so I silently shelved my desire to know if those novelties proposed for the Amazon region would soon be proposed for the Canadian North and the German Middle. 

The Director of the Sala Stampa, Matteo Bruni, summed up Pope Francis’ final speech to the synod, including his mixed thanks to the communications team and the media. The Prefect for Communications, Paolo Ruffini, said that the Final Document was the result of synodal discernment―perhaps to squelch rumors that it had been written beforehand. He described how the document was organized, called it a “diagnosis” of what the times are asking of us, and repeated Pope Francis’ admonishments. Fr. Costa, S.J., the Secretary for Information, contrasted the fires in the Amazon with the fire that does not destroy―the Gospel. He also said that the faces of the synod fathers as they came out of the final meeting were “joyful.” 

Bishop Martínez reflected that, thanks to a lack of missionaries, the extraction of gold was closer to his communities than the Word of God. He described the Final Document as full of concern for the Amazonian territory and appeals for the world to be allies of the indigenous people. He also reflected on the images that have gone around the world of Pope Francis with bishops meeting the Amazonians, which he said showed that “we are going forward with the Pope to the Amazon.”

Cardinal Czerny, who spoke English, underscored that Pope Francis had thanked the media for helping the synod reach the public. The cardinal outlined the “conversions” called for by the document: pastoral, cultural, ecological, and synodal. He emphasized that there must be change in order to solve the problems of the Amazon. (To hear his 11-minute speech, click here and scroll forward to 15:05.) Czerny also talked about respecting “the other,” which once again made me wonder whether the synod or the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM) had thought about another “other”: millions of Catholics who would be horrified by both Pachamama and the pig poster. 

Czerny believes, by the way, that “the ecological crisis is so deep that if we don’t change, we won’t make it.”

“That’s the message,” he said, and I’m happy to put it out there. Listen to his speech and decide what you think. I thought he was completely sincere.   

Czerny made an attempt at defining synodal conversion, but unfortunately the closest he came to it―and this was in the questions section―was that it was giving up your own firmly held beliefs for the sake of going forward. 

Pope Francis said he didn’t want the media to focus only on a small part of the document, but naturally we were longing to hear about married priests and the possibility of women deacons. This is partly because these were concrete proposals actually within the scope of the Church’s decision-making powers. Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register asked Czerny what he would say to theologians who argue that “ordaining” women as deacons is contrary to doctrine. The cardinal replied that they should take it up with the Commission on the Diaconate of Women. My LifeSIteNews colleague Diane Montana asked about ministerial roles for women at Mass as official Lectors and Acolytes.  

We also had a question about the ministry for “woman leadership of the community,” to quote paragraph 102 of the highly unreliable “unofficial working translation of the original document in Spanish.” As LifeSiteNews had already had a question answered, Diane didn’t think we’d get another shot. However, I stuck my hand up and stared pleadingly at Ruffini and Bruni. It was almost a comic situation, since clearly LifeSiteNews’ coverage has been less than flattering, but I wanted them to pick me all the same.  

Success! After three weeks of silent scribbling, your humble correspondent finally got the microphone. But I soon regretted it, for after I asked about the community leadership ministry, the panellists looked confused, consulted each other, and flipped through the pages of the Final Document. I was suddenly terrified that I had got this completely wrong. However, eventually Bishop Martínez responded in Spanish – I typed madly as the translation poured into my ears – and then Bishop Czerny added that they were thinking of an “ecological ministry.” To Martínez’s credit, he admitted that they hadn’t thought this through in detail. 

So that was half my story for the night – the other half was the English translation was so bad as to have dropped one of the most controversial points of the whole Final Document – and I went back to my apartment feeling that I had done my journalistic duty.

The news that the synod wants to relax the rule on celibacy, create official “ministries” for women, and lean on the Commission on the Diaconate of Women had hit Catholic social media, and I was perturbed to see an acquaintance tweet his hope that a meteor will fall on Rome tomorrow. I, for one, do not share this hope, for not only am I still in Rome, I will be in St. Peter’s Basilica to see if Pachamama really does put in an appearance. 

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Gov’t agency argues families don’t matter for raising kids. Why that’s a big problem

Madeleine Jacob Madeleine Jacob Follow
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October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In June, Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) forcibly removed four-year-old Drake Pardo from his parents’ home without following procedure and without proper justification for his removal. Almost four months later, Drake was finally placed in the home of a family friend, and was only allowed to go home after the Texas Supreme Court intervened

And the case isn’t over yet – Mr. and Mrs. Pardo still have to argue in a lower court that they should be allowed to raise their son. 

The reason for Drake’s seizure? His parents had the audacity to seek a second medical opinion.

When he was in government custody, Drake was only allowed to see his mom and dad once a week. The kind of trauma this inflicts on a young child cannot be understated.

The tragedy of the situation is the CPS caseworker and supervisor for the case admitted under oath that they didn’t follow procedure. Even the hospital “child abuse physician” who initially reviewed Drake’s case stated she was surprised he was removed from his home. Even she hadn’t recommended removal, just a visit. 

One would presume that would be the end of the story. Send the boy home; clearly there was a misunderstanding, rules were broken, and CPS’s response was excessive for the situation. A government worker’s admission under oath that CPS broke its own rules and handled the situation improperly wasn’t enough to make its actions null and void.

Instead, it took an intervention from the Texas Supreme Court to finally allow Drake to go home, and now his parents still have to fight to keep custody of him. 

The foundation of CPS’s argument to the Texas Supreme Court was that since Drake received the same medical treatment while in the state’s custody as the treatment his parents had agreed to provide him, there should be no reason for the Pardos to be upset or concerned about their child being away from home.

CPS is arguing that the child’s physical needs – food and medical care – are his only real needs. We know from past child development research that children (and all human beings) have needs beyond just physical preservation. Babies who aren’t held have distinct biological markers from those who are held, indicating holding a baby impacts his or her genetic expression. Lack of touch can even lead to infant death. 

The implications of CPS’s argument are truly appalling. For a government agency to argue in court that governmental care and familial care can easily be interchanged sets a terrifying precedent – a precedent that could soon enable the government to remove children from their parents for no other reason than a claim that governmental care and familial care are equivalent. 

This argument, if taken to its full conclusion, leads us down a very dark road. It’s like something out of a dystopian novel:

Government is just as capable of raising your children as you are (we have already accepted this lie by entrusting our children to public school education without question). 

Children don’t need to live with their biological parents. They don’t even need to live with parents!

Once you have children, we’ll whisk them away to live elsewhere. They’ll get food and medical care, so why should you care if they’re here instead of with you? Maybe you can see them once a week.

Although the progression may seem like a severe exaggeration, it is logical if you accept the premise that meeting the basic, physical needs of a child is all that is required for raising children. 

The problem is that these insanities have developed little by little, one small concession at a time. 

Look at what happened with the explosion of abortion. Thanks to artificial birth control, society removed the procreative nature of sex. Abortion followed. Now, politicians are arguing it should be legal to kill babies even after they are born.

Is it that difficult to imagine cultural attitudes toward the family shifting slowly, bit by bit, until the idea of the state taking all children and raising them in a compound while parents work and are monitored by Big Brother 24/7 seems normal? The family is already degrading through divorce, absent parents, demanding jobs, and the pervasive selfishness of our culture.

The family is the building block of society. It is in a family that a person learns morals, values, and good character. Most importantly, families are where children learn to love, and where they are loved in a way that can never compare to government “care.”

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‘Look at the signs of the times’ and take your kids out of school

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Watch Mother Miriam's Live show from 10.29.2019. Today, Mother speaks about the power of homeschooling and the dire need for parents to keep their kids out of public school.

 

You can tune in daily at 10 am EST/7 am PST on our Facebook Page.

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