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Cardinal Blase Cupich Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

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US Cardinal Cupich defends use of ‘Pachamama’ idol during Amazon Synod

By Martin Barillas

PETITION: Call on Vatican to keep out all "pagan" symbols from St. Peter's and Vatican Property! Sign the petition here.

CHICAGO, November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Archbishop Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago defended the use of the “Pachamama” statues during the Amazon Synod, saying the church has “always adopted pagan elements in its traditions and especially its liturgical rites” while quoting from a Vatican document about “inculturation.”

Writing in the diocesan newspaper Chicago Catholic on Wednesday, Cardinal Cupich asserted that the “artwork” at the Vatican depicting Pachamama — a fertility goddess venerated by indigenous people of South America — was merely “a pregnant woman, a symbol of motherhood and the sacredness of life, that represents for indigenous peoples the bond humanity has with our “mother earth,” much as St. Francis of Assisi portrayed in his Canticle of the Creatures.” Cupich was made a cardinal by Pope Francis in November 2016. 

Catholics around the world were outraged last month to see a pagan ceremony take place in the Vatican Gardens before the opening of the Amazon Synod where people bowed down to the ground and worshiped the Pachamama idol as Pope Francis and other top-ranking prelates looked on. The October 4 ritual, captured on video, shows Pope Francis blessing the pagan statue before receiving it as a gift. 

On October 21, several replicas of the statues were seized from Santa Maria in Traspontina Church near St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and thrown into the Tiber River. On Oct. 25, Pope Francis asked “pardon of the people who were offended by this act” and referred to the wooden artifacts as “Pachamama statues.”

Alexander Tschugguel, 26, of Vienna, Austria, revealed November 4 that he was the young man who seized the statues and threw them in the river.

“I saw in those statues and in those idols … a break of the First Commandment,” he said, adding that he was motivated by the desire to “bring pagan things out of a Catholic Church.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church condemns the worship of idols.

“Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, ‘You cannot serve God and mammon.’ Many martyrs died for not adoring ‘the Beast’ refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.”

In the Nov. 6 article, Cupich, who has defended giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians and to active homosexuals, said the removal of the statues “outraged many people” before outlining what he called the “church’s approach as it engages such cultures.”

Eight prominent cardinals and bishops have condemned the pagan “Pachamama” rituals at the Vatican, calling them "appalling idolatrous profanations," “demonic sacrilege,” and “alien to Christianity.” 

American Jesuit priest and EWTN host Fr. Mitch Pacwa on Tuesday added his voice in condemning the “worship” of the Pachamama statues. 

“The introduction of the Pachamama into the Synod on the Amazon is something that is a major scandal,” he said on his EWTN “Scripture and Tradition” show. “We are forbidden to have idols. We are forbidden to worship other gods.”  

Pacwa, who is familiar with Pachamama worship from his work in Peru, was not impressed by the attempts of the Vatican’s Communications team to spin the figures as mere symbols of fertility and motherhood.

“Knock it off,” he said. “We’re not stupid. We’re not. This is an idol.”

The priest told his audience that “Pachamama was still adored and worshiped in Peru, especially in the mountains."  

“She was part of a hierarchy of deities,” Pacwa explained.  

“The gods of the mountains were the chief deities. Pachamama, or Mother Earth, was under them. Below Pachamama were Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints. And then the rest of us. So they had integrated Pachamama into a pseudo-Catholic view of the world.”

Pacwa stressed that there is only one God -- one God in three Persons -- the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “There is no other god!” he said. 

Later in Cupich’s article, he quoted St. John Henry Newman about the “approach” to other cultures.

“In his 1878 ‘Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine,’ he noted that the church has always adopted pagan elements in its traditions and especially its liturgical rites,” wrote Cupich and then quotes Newman as follows: 

“The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees, incense, lamps and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water, asylums; holy days and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields, sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the east, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison, are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the church.”

“I was pleased that a Vatican spokesman cited this passage in response to the vandalism in Rome,” commented Cupich. 

Juan Antonio Varas of the Brazil-based Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira Institute, part of the Tradition, Family and Property movement, pointed out that the objects listed by St. John Henry Newman were only “adopted by Catholic worship after having been exorcised from evil spirits with purifying water and Catholic rituals.”

“But it is an adoption made with great wisdom and acute Catholic discernment. In doing so, the Church shows herself open to how much she can sacralize and embellish her worship, giving it meaning and authentic symbolism in the service of the truths she professes, without ever letting herself be confused or syncretized,” he wrote. 

“In fact, the Church has never adopted idols, let alone if they were represented naked. Otherwise, the churches of the Mediterranean should be full of Greek-Roman statues instead of altars with images of Madonnas and saints, paintings, frescoes and mosaics that have contributed so much to strengthening the faith of peoples,” he added.

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WATCH: New pro-life documentary exposes links between Satanism and abortion

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By Calvin Freiburger

November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The intersection of pro-abortion zealotry and self-avowed Satanists is a natural result of both groups’ shared belief in “autonomy” at any cost, according to a harrowing new documentary by the pro-life group Created Equal.

On Thursday, Created Equal released Abortion: A Doctrine of Demons, a roughly 22-minute video that juxtaposes an up-close look at the abortion industry and abortion activists with the stated values of Satanic groups. 

“Created Equal has been increasing harassed by abortion advocates who overtly identify as Satanists. And those who love death (abortion advocates) are often quick to embrace Satanism’s [tenets],” Created Equal founder and president Mark Harrington explains. “We hope to awaken a sleeping church to the spiritual battle we face.”

“Most often, the ultimate value [abortion advocates] fight for is autonomy, freedom to do whatever they want,” the narrator says. “The greatest representative of pursuing autonomy is Satan. Satanism is therefore the perfect placeholder for these twisted values. Created Equal and other pro-lifers often encounter those whose support for abortion turns to worship, most evident under the banner of Satanism.”

The audience is shown video clips of pro-abortion individuals saying “hail Satan” (possibly sarcastically), one woman earnestly arguing that members of the Church of Satan are preferable to Christians, women admitting that abortion kills a baby while claiming that doing so is fine, and people arguing that human life does not have significant intrinsic value.

“Lone-soldier Satanists or lovers of abortion mocking Christianity do not prove a doctrinal connection between killing preborn babies and Satanism,” the narrator clarifies. “But those who love death are often quick to embrace its tenets. This is not surprising when the Satanic Temple teaches that defending abortion access is a worthy form of worship.”

The documentary shows self-professed Satanists championing abortion, including Satanic Temple president Lucien Greaves explaining that “[o]ne’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone” — which, the documentary notes, echoes the pro-abortion mantra of “my body, my choice” — is one of the Temple’s “Seven Fundamental Tenets.” The Temple has a history of engaging in pro-abortion advocacy.

The Satanic Temple says it doesn’t believe that Satan or other supernatural concepts literally exist, but embraces Satan’s name as a “symbol of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority.” The documentary highlights one case of an individual abortion-supporter claiming to have experienced a literal Satanic encounter but argues that “secular” Satanism is just as destructive.

“Christianity grounds morality and human rights in God’s perfect character,” it explains. “By contrast, abortion defenders seem to adhere to a paradoxical religious secularism. Fighting religion has become their religion. For this, there is no greater hero than Satan himself, whose rebellious nature culminated in opposition to the God who, in the words of abortion supporters, tyrannically oppresses them.”

The documentary also highlights the testimony of Zachary King, a former Satanic high wizard (now a Catholic) who says he participated in “ritual” abortions. “When you’re doing an abortion, blood is the binding agent in a Satanic anything. Ultimately you’re wanting the blood of the baby. Because that is a Satanic sacrifice,” King says.

Throughout the documentary, there are numerous examples of vulgarity, violence, and vandalism from irate pro-aborts who cross paths with pro-life protesters. It also highlights several especially grisly abortionists, from the infamous Kermit Gosnell and Ulrich Klopfer to the late Robert Santella, who was caught on tape hissing, “I love killing babies” to a pro-lifer who confronted him.

“At the heart of this grisly behavior is rebellion,” the narrator says — “rebellion against God exemplified by Satanism and threatening everyone who stands in the way of autonomy. The pursuit of absolute autonomy is trampling people in its path.”

The documentary casts modern pro-abortion zealotry as a spiritual successor to infanticide and human sacrifice throughout history, noting that while past cultures sacrificed to their gods in hopes of better weather, modern pro-aborts like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) frame abortion as part of the solution to climate change.

For all the relentless darkness on display, the documentary concludes on a note of hope, reminding the audience that Christianity has played a key role in abolishing barbaric practices throughout human history. “There was light which shone into the darkness to end that evil,” the narrator says. “This ended child sacrifice in the centuries following Christ’s resurrection. And that light will end it today.”

“That light is God Himself, revealed to man in the person of Jesus,” the video declares. “This is the God who commands us to love our children, be kind and merciful to our neighbor, and showed us the ultimate act of love in his sacrifice on the cross. This is the God so many abortionists hate[.] ... Those who believe in the name of Christ need not sacrifice their children. Christ offered himself as the ultimate sacrifice.”

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‘Social engineering’: Kamala Harris gets ripped for proposing 10-hour school day

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By Claire Chretien

November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Democratic presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris has introduced a bill rolling out a pilot program that keeps children in school until 6:00 P.M., ostensibly to help their parents be able to work longer hours without having to worry about childcare costs.

The bill sparked a number of critiques from conservatives.

Even liberal Whoopi Goldberg commented, “I think keeping a kid in school until 6:00 is like institutionalizing them.”

The Family Friendly Schools Act, which is co-sponsored by five left-wing Democrats, seeks to “align the school day with the work day.”

The proposal sounds “like classic Harris: She identifies a situation most would agree is not great and sets about remedying it in a punitive, authoritarian way almost no one likes,” wrote Bonnie Kristian in a scathing analysis of the bill at The Week. Kristian questioned “the notion that if school is shorter than work, we should make school longer instead of making work shorter,” noting that “many parents may want to leave at 3 to see more of their kids and less of their coworkers.”

Harris’s bill would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to

... provide grants to local educational agencies to establish “Family Friendly School” policies at 500 elementary schools that align the school day with the work day to better support working families and to disseminate the learnings from these model schools so that other local educational agencies may adopt these practices, and to establish a supplemental 21st century community learning centers grant program to support programs and activities during summer recess when school is not in session.

The bill, which if enacted would presumably eventually be amended to include all schools, “envisions the role of schools as not just providing the education that students need and leaving the rest in parents’ hands, but as providing a free or at least heavily subsidized service to parents who work,” wrote Robert VerBruggen at National Review.

Harris is not the only 2020 Democratic hopeful who has proposed expanding how much the government is involved with parenting and childcare. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (who in 2004 wrote a book called The Two Income Trap, which explained how the phenomenon of both parents working has made families less financially stable) has called for universal, government-run childcare. So have Senators Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar.

“Astonishingly, sending mothers to work has made families more vulnerable to financial disaster than ever before,” reads the Amazon summary of Warren’s book.

In November 2018, an article from the Foundation for Economic Education laid out some of the risks, disadvantages, and proven negative outcomes of placing children in school at younger and younger ages and asked, “As New York City expands its universal pre-K program to all of the city’s three-year-olds, will compulsory schooling laws for preschoolers follow?”

Michael Brendan Dougherty at National Review also noted, “[B]ecause the proposal gives more opportunity and responsibility to the state to socialize and ‘enrich’ the lives of children, it becomes a target for activism by those on every side who think they know precisely how to socially engineer our children.”

As attorney general of California, Sen. Harris targeted Center for Medical Progress journalist David Daleiden for his undercover exposé of Planned Parenthood’s role in the trafficking of aborted baby body parts. The state is currently prosecuting Daleiden and his fellow undercover journalist Sandra Merritt, alleging they illegally recorded conversations.

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US bishops deny papal biographer’s claims of plot against Pope Francis

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By Doug Mainwaring

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — As they prepare to gather for their annual fall meeting next week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a blistering critique of papal biographer Austen Ivereigh’s latest book, Wounded Shepherd: Pope Francis and His Struggle to Convert the Catholic Church, calling portions of it that involve them “false and misleading.”

In Wounded Shepherd, Ivereigh suggests that a secret plan was devised by U.S. Church officials that they hoped the Vatican would accept as a “fait accompli.”

Ivereigh described the plan as an “ecclesiastical power play against the Pope in what was a quick-fix solution attempting to shore up the US bishops’ reputations,” according to a report in the U.K. Tablet

“It was poor law, drawn up in haste for public relations purposes and more reflective of a punitive American juridical and corporate culture than a Catholic one,” wrote Ivereigh. “Even more shocking was [the plan] to deliberately exclude Rome from the design of the proposal.”

“Their strategy was to confront the Pope with a fait accompli,” Ivereigh reported one source as telling him. “They were thinking ‘if this passes, what’s Rome going to do? Reject it? Their concern was to look as if they had done something, and if Rome objected, that would make Rome look bad.’”

Ivereigh’s book “perpetuates an unfortunate and inaccurate myth that the Holy Father finds resistance among the leadership and staff of the U.S. Bishops Conference,” said James Rogers, chief communications officer for the USCCB. “The author disparages the General Secretary and a consultant to the Committee on Canonical Affairs particularly by suggesting they drew up documents in October that were then deliberately excluded from Rome,” Rogers added, describing what happened in preparation for the bishops’ fall 2018 meeting. “This is false and misleading.”

“It was intended that the proposals stop short of where the authority of the Holy See began,” added Rogers. 

In their rush to present themselves to the public and the Vatican as fully submissive to Pope Francis, the bishops drew some commentators’ attention to their response and that of the Holy See to the predatory priest and prelate sex scandals that rocked the Chuch last year.

“Austen Ivereigh’s latest attempt to call out the pope’s ‘enemies’ is swiftly shot down by the US bishops,” tweeted Church Militant’s Christine Niles. “Meanwhile, the Vatican's McCarrick ‘investigation’ remains in limbo and largely forgotten.”


Now deleted USCCB photo of laughing bishops. Source:  Twitter.

When the USCCB announced its upcoming fall assembly via Twitter earlier this week with a now deleted photo depicting laughing bishops, critical responses from still troubled Catholics abounded.

O’Catholic tweeted:

Some follow-up agenda items from the last meeting...

--Report on McCarrick

--Solutions for the still existing predatory priest problem

--Solutions for the practicing homosexual clergy

--Fiduciary responsibility of Church finances

“This is not a good image for the USCCB under the present circumstances,” tweeted Gerald Baggot. “Adoration, kneeling and praying a Rosary would be much better.”

“For all Bishops attending the Assembly for once have Faith & Courage call out those who have abused or covered up sexual transgressions or embezzled millions from the Church,” suggested Faithful Catholic. “Call on Fr. James Martin to stop his promoting of gay lifestyles. And call on the Pope to stop idolatry.”

“Here’s an idea, cancel the meeting and read Christus Vincit by Bishop Athanasius Schneider instead,”tweeted another. “That would be a more productive use of your time and resources.”

Bishops going to their ad limina visits are now returning with accounts of their awe at being in Francis’s presence. Describing the pope’s meeting yesterday with the bishops of New England, Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut described the event as an extraordinary privilege and a moment of grace.

“Within a few minutes, I realized that I was sitting before a spiritual father who had no agenda except to help us in our ministry,” said Caggiano in a series of tweets.  

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Disputes over alleged pro-life violence rock the end of witness testimony in Planned Parenthood trial

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By Lianne Laurence

PETITION: Support pro-lifers who exposed Planned Parenthood's sale of baby body parts Sign the petition here.

SAN FRANCISCO, November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Contentious disputes over alleged violence of pro-lifers roiled the final days of testimony in the landmark Planned Parenthood Federation of America vs Center for Medical Progress federal civil trial.

With witness and evidence presentations ending Wednesday, Judge William Orrick heard arguments Thursday and Friday from plaintiff and defense lawyers on how he should instruct the jury. 

It’s expected that the two women and nine men — one juror was allowed off this week after she broke her arm — will begin their deliberations by the middle of next week.

Week 6 was notable for several deft moves by the defense in what one pro-life lawyer has described as a high-pressure “chess match.”

Despite the judge restricting testimony about fetal organ harvesting as irrelevant, two defense witnesses gave the jury another look at the gruesome business.

And despite the judge banning mention of infamous late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell as “prejudicial,” a Planned Parenthood witness’s claim that an abortionist was subjected to a death threat referencing “the electric chair” allowed defense to point out that Gosnell is in jail for life for murdering babies who survived abortion. 

That’s the same violent crime that CMP’s team was investigating in its 30-month undercover operation into Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in aborted baby parts. 

The CMP videos released in July 2015 sparked public outrage, Congressional investigations, an ongoing Department of Justice criminal investigation into the abortion giant, and a slight dent in the half-billion dollars that Planned Parenthoood receives annually in public funding.

In the retaliatory suit, PPFA and 10 affiliates accused CMP project lead David Daleiden, undercover investigators Sandra Merritt and Adrian Lopez, and founding board members Albin Rhomberg and Operation Rescue president Troy Newman of multiple crimes for going undercover at Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation meetings in 2014 and 2015, and seeking damages in potentially millions of dollars.

Damages a ‘moving target’ 

Given that Planned Parenthood has added and withdrawn claims to suit it purposes, the exact damages have been a “moving target,” as defense lawyer Charles LiMandri noted.

However, forensic accountant Greg Regan testified Monday that Planned Parenthood seeks $630,213 for updates to its conference admission protocols, as noted in a summary by CMP.

Most of this is fees to consulting firms, “with $44,000 for media monitoring, $108,600 for reviewing PPFA’s vetting practices, $53,000 for security consulting, and $29,000 for guard services for events CMP investigators didn’t attend,” CMP noted.

This base amount will increase to millions if attorneys’ fees are added.

Compensatory damages are meant to restore a corporation to where it was before alleged damages took place, and Planned Parenthood’s security system is much improved, noted LiMandri.

Regan explained that he based his figures — which he admittedly arrived at in consultation with with Planned Parenthood COO Melvin Galloway and PPFA lawyers — on the assumption that Planned Parenthood would establish that there was an increased “level of threat of infiltration to their conferences following the defendants’ actions.”

‘Trivial to figure out these guys scamming us’: PP director

PPFA event coordinator Brandon Minow testified that Planned Parenthood’s security measures for conferences included giving hotel and security a list of known adversaries, and having a “lookbook” with pictures of those individuals.

This “lookbook” evidently wasn’t used in the case of Daleiden, known to PPFA since at least 2009 because of his work with Live Action.

Minow said PPFA had to call in security and media monitoring consultants Kroll and Thacher as an immediate response to the videos’ release.

But Vicki Cowart, CEOI for Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountain (PPRM), sent an email shortly after the videos’ release blasting PPFA for not busting Daleiden and his fake company BioMax sooner, pointed out Peter Breen of Thomas More Society.

“It was trivial to figure out these guys were scamming us,” Cowart wrote. She told PPFA to adopt the three steps PPRM used: Google, the vendor’s address and telephone number, and review its written materials.

“Did PPFA do so?” Breen asked.

“We took her recommendation seriously. But at the time, we were in the process of engaging with Kroll, and then Thacher, to create systems that worked for us,” Minow answered. 

Did Minow know that “at least two management-level employees at Planned Parenthood suspected BioMax was not a real tissue procurement company as early as April of 2015?” Breen asked. 

Minow said he hadn’t been told that.

Although Planned Parenthood is not claiming reputational damage, both Regan and Minow admitted that Planned Parenthood thought it needed to upgrade its screening and vetting protocols because the CMP videos had harmed its reputation among its typical conference attendees, CMP’s summary noted.

The alleged ‘electric chair’ death threat

Breen brought up the Cowart email with Kevin Paul, lawyer for PPRM, who admitted it relied on PPFA’s recommendation of BioMax when it allowed Daleiden and Merritt to visit in 2015.

Dr. Savita Ginde, PPRM’s then-medical director, had long expressed dissatisfaction with Planned Parenthood’s security, and has since written a book about her experiences and given a Ted talk, testimony revealed.

After CMP released two videos featuring Ginde, she asked to be moved to an undisclosed location for security reasons. One of the damages that PPFA is claiming is its grant of $33,210 to PPRM for a six-month lease on her temporary digs. 

Paul admitted under cross-examination that his law firm had another lawyer create a shell company to pay the lease so Ginde could avoid taxes on the grant.

He testified that Ginde received death threats “that used words like ‘dismemberment’ and ‘electric chair,’ and similar statements to that.”

But under cross examination by Catherine Short of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, Paul admitted that the “threat” using the words “electric chair” was a reply to a tweet. 

The original tweet said, “Kermit Gosnell got life in prison without parole. What do Dr. Nucatola and Dr. Savita Ginde deserve?” along with a quote from Nucatola. Someone tweeted a reply: “The electric chair.”

Short pointed out to Paul that Gosnell was “convicted of murdering an infant born alive following an abortion in his abortion clinic” and “sentenced by a judge to life imprisonment without parole.”

Expert debunks NAF ‘violence’ statistics   

Ginde was not tagged or “mentioned” in either the tweet or reply and consequently would not see either of them unless she was searching the hashtag #PPSellsBabyParts or otherwise looking for references to herself. 

Paul admitted that the tweet had been found because Planned Parenthood was “monitoring” the internet. He also admitted the tweet was probably reported to the National Abortion Federation (NAF) as a “death threat.”

NAF security chief Michelle Davidson testified last week about how NAF gathers its “violence and disruption statistics.”

But Dr. Michael New, a defense expert witness on statistics, debunked the accuracy of NAF’s numbers and described them as “low quality,” notably because NAF does not corroborate all of the alleged incidents.

Moreover, only 60 percent of NAF members sent in data, a fact it does not disclose and which New only found through Davidson’s testimony. 

Nor can NAF’s numbers be used to project any trends, New said.

Davidson testified “that these statistics from NAF are relied on by law enforcement,” pointed out Planned Parenthood lawyer Amy Bomse.

No, she testified that law enforcement found the statistics “helpful,” and didn’t give any evidence to back that up, New replied.

“Law enforcement may well have been just being diplomatic.” 

Aborted baby body parts harvesters testify

Defense called Advanced Bioscience Resources founder and president Linda Tracy and procurement manager Perrin Larton as witnesses. 

“A U.S. wholesaler of aborted baby body parts since 1989,” ABR’s “yearly revenues are about $1.1 to $1.5 million, all from harvesting and purchasing livers, lungs, and brains in abortion facilities and reselling the body parts to taxpayer-funded research laboratories at enormous mark-up prices,” noted a press release by Liberty Counsel, which is representing Merritt in both the civil and a parallel criminal proceeding.

Larton “testified she did not recant any of the statements she made to Daleiden about babies falling out intact for organ harvesting, and that ABR could receive intact fetuses as frequently as every couple months,” Liberty Counsel noted.

Tracy testified in her deposition that she did not consider her conversation with then-undercover Daleiden at the 2014 NAF conference confidential under NAF’s non-disclosure agreement, but in the trial, she claimed it was. 

Tracy also said she didn’t discuss “pricing” of fetal tissue at the NAF conference. But in her deposition played in court, she testified that she discussed ABR’s “Regulated Tissue Acquisition” harvesting, for which researchers pay $6,000 per procurement.

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Pope Francis says St. Paul ‘built a bridge’ to the Athens pagans, ignores his condemnation of idols

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

PETITION: Call on Vatican to keep out all "pagan" symbols from St. Peter's and Vatican Property! Sign the petition here.

VATICAN CITY, November 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Ignoring Saint Paul’s condemnation of graven images, Pope Francis stated that the saint provided an example of the “inculturation” of the Gospel when he preached in Athens.

In a homily during his usual Wednesday audience, the pontiff stated that St. Paul used his encounter with the pagan idols of the ancient city “to build a bridge to dialogue with that culture.”

“Paul chose to enter into familiarity with the city and began therefore to frequent the most significant places and people,” Francis said. 

“He went to the synagogue, symbol of the life of faith; he went to the town square, symbol of urban life, and he went to the Aereopagus, symbol of political and cultural life.”

The pontiff noted that St. Paul spoke with judges, philosophers, and “many others,” meeting “all the people” and not “locking himself away.”

“In this way Paul observed the culture, observed the environment of Athens,” Pope Francis added, and then quoted from his own Evangelium Gaudium to say that Paul “started from a contemplative gaze” to discover “that God who lives in His houses, in His streets, and in His squares” (EG, 71). 

In what sounded like an allusion on the expulsion of wooden carvings depicting the pagan fertility goddess Pachamama from a Catholic Church during the recent Synod on the Amazon, Pope Francis stated that St. Paul did not look upon the pagan world with “hostility” but with faith. 

“Paul did not look at the city of Athens and the pagan world with hostility but with the eyes of faith,” he said. “And this questions our manner of looking at our cities: do we look at them with indifference? With contempt? Or with the faith that recognizes the children of God in the middle of anonymous crowds?” 

The pontiff stated that Paul had chosen to view the city in a way that led him “to make an opening between the Gospel and the pagan world.” 

“In the heart of one of the most famous institutions in the ancient world, the Areopagus, he realized an extraordinary example of inculturating the message of faith: he announced Jesus Christ to the adorers of idols, and not by attacking them, but by making himself ‘pontiff, builder of bridges,’” Francis said, quoting a homily he gave in May 2013. 

Paul did this, Francis said, by noticing an altar the Athenians had set up to “the unknown god” and telling his hearers that he had come to tell them about the unknown god they already adored.   

“Starting from this ‘devotion’ to the unknown god, to enter into empathy with his [hearers], he proclaimed that God ‘lives among the citydwellers” and “He does not hide Himself from those  who seek him with sincere hearts, although they do it gropingly,” Pope Francis said, again quoting from Evangelium Gaudium.  

“It’s just this presence that Paul seeks to reveal, ‘He who, without knowing him, you adore, I announce Him to you (Acts 17:23),” he continued.  

However, in describing St. Paul’s homily to the Athenians, the Argentinian pontiff neglected to mention that the great missionary of Tarsus told his hearers that the God who created everything does not live in temples (Acts 17:24) or need offerings (Acts 17:25) and is not like graven images made by human beings (Acts 17:29).

“Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals,” Paul said. 

Instead, Pope Francis noted that the majority of Paul’s hearers rejected his message when he announced Christ’s resurrection from the dead — “the stumbling block”― and so his attempt seemed to be a failure. However some do accept the Gospel, “among these a man, Dionigius, a member of the Areopagus, and a woman, Damaris.”

Pope Francis found it significant that Damaris is a woman. 

“Even in Athens, the Gospel can take root and spread by two voices: that of a man and that of a woman!”

He concluded, “We ask today of the Holy Spirit to teach us to build bridges with the culture, with those who don’t believe or with those who have a different belief from ours. To always build bridges, always the extended hand, no aggression. We ask Him for the capacity to inculturate with care the message of faith, placing a contemplative gaze on those who are ignorant of Christ, moved by a love that warms even the hardest hearts.” 

Philosopher Professor Claudio Pierantoni, one of the original signatories of the letter to the world’s bishops accusing Pope Francis of heresy, indicated that the pontiff was both right and wrong in his homily about St. Paul and the Athenians.  

“It is true that in this episode, Paul takes advantage of some positive elements in the pagan philosophy, such as the approximation to the doctrine of Creation, and to Man’s special relation to God as ‘God’s offspring,’” Pierantoni told LifeSiteNews via email. 

“That could be correctly described as ‘making bridges.’ But we must be careful not to interpret this as mere ‘dialogue’ between religions that can peacefully coexist on the same level,” he continued.  

The professor cited verses Acts 29-30 to point out that paganism no longer has reason to exist.

“The pagan religion, with its idolatrous cults, had a reason for existing, because of ignorance, until the moment of the positive, historical revelation of God.”

Pierantoni noted that Francis’ homily repeatedly speaks of “aggression,” as if it were opposed to the spirit of Paul’s supposed “inculturation” and “dialogue,” and saw in it a reference to “the present controversy about the idolatrous rites recently held in the Vatican Gardens, and to the taking away of the wooden images of the Pachamama from a Church near the Vatican.” 

“But St. Paul’s evangelization, although it certainly uses the means of dialogue, of course does not have in mind a pacific coexistence of all religions as an ideal,” he continued.  

“[Paul’s] message is not just about some neutral exchange of opinions among different religious beliefs, but the announcement of something new that terminates the ‘times of ignorance’ and makes idolatry into an abominable sin.”

The professor cited verses Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians that also condemn idols: “What do I imply then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons” (1 Cor. 10:19-21).

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Amazonian woman who led Vatican tree-planting ceremony reveals its pagan significance

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By Diane Montagna
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Woman bows down to Amazonian earth at Vatican Gardens tree-planting ceremony, Oct. 4, 2019. (Photo - OFM.org)
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Pachamamas and tree-planting, Vatican Gardens, Oct. 4, 2019. (Photo - OFM.org)
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Ednamar de Oliveira Viana leads prayer ceremony in Vatican Gardens, Oct. 4, 2019 (Photo - OFM.org)

PETITION: Call on Vatican to keep out all "pagan" symbols from St. Peter's and Vatican Property! Sign the petition here.

ROME, November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The female indigenous leader who planted a tree alongside Pope Francis in the Vatican Gardens ahead of the Amazon Synod was clear from the beginning about the syncretistic and pagan meaning of the act which, she explains, was intended to “satisfy the hunger of Mother Earth” and reconnect with “the divinity present in the Amazonian soil.”

In an October 4 statement that went under the radar during the Synod itself, Ednamar de Oliveira Viana, of the Maués region in Brazil, says of the Vatican Garden tree-planting ceremony: “To plant … is believing in a growing and fruitful life to satisfy the hunger of Mother Earth’s creation. This brings us to our origin by reconnecting divine energy and teaching us the way back to the Creator Father.”

De Oliveira Viana, who also guided participants in bowing down around the Pachamama statues during the October 4 ceremony, said regarding the event: “The Synod is to plant this tree, water and cultivate, so that the Amazonian peoples are heard and respected in their customs and traditions experiencing the mystery of the divinity present in the Amazonian soil.”

Portions of Ednamar de Oliveira Viana’s statement (not including those mentioned above) were included in an official press release issued in Rome on October 4 by the Vatican Garden ceremony organizers, including REPAM (Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network), The Global Catholic Climate Movement, and the Franciscan Order (OFM). 

The indigenous leader’s full statement can be found, in English and Portuguese, in a link at the end of paragraph five of the press release. The edited version of her remarks, and photos of the Vatican Garden tree-planting ceremony, are also available on the international Order of Friars Minor (Franciscan Friars) website.

The press release also noted that the Vatican Garden tree-planting ceremony was Pope Francis’s first gesture to mark the Season of Creation, held annually from September 1 (the “World Day of Prayer for Creation”) until the October 4th feast of St. Francis of Assisi.   

Midway through the Amazon Synod, as the identity of the Pachamama statue was being sought, LifeSite asked Vatican media officials if they could provide an “authoritative text from the Vatican or REPAM so that the question of what happened in the Vatican Gardens [could] be resolved.” 

Paolo Ruffini, prefect of Vatican communications and president of the Amazon Synod’s information commission, described the tree as “sacred” and promised to investigate. Despite subsequent requests, no further information was provided. 

Two days later, at an October 21 press conference, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni asked Mauricio López Oropeza, executive secretary of REPAM, to comment on the [Pachamama] statue’s meaning — thus offering him the opportunity to comment also on the ceremony — but López declined to comment, shrugging off the question.

Traditionally the Church has taken a dim view of sacred trees. A judgement most famously illustrated when St. Boniface of Crediton, the apostle and patron saint of Germany, dramatically felled Donar’s Oak, a tree the Germans held to be sacred to the pagan god Thor. At present the Amazonian sacred tree is safely guarded within the precincts of the Vatican gardens until a new St Boniface should arise. 

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Bishop Schneider recommends ‘Prayer of Reparation’ for idolatrous acts at Amazon Synod

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By Diane Montagna

PETITION: Call on Vatican to keep out all "pagan" symbols from St. Peter's and Vatican Property! Sign the petition here.

ROME, November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Athanasius Schneider is inviting all Catholic faithful to pray a special prayer of reparation for the “idolatrous” acts committed during the Amazon Synod. 

In comments to LifeSite, Bishop Schneider said he hopes the prayer of reparation (see full text below) will be “spread widely.” He added that it is intended as a “help for the faithful” as other acts of reparation (e.g. Masses, the Holy Rosary, adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, etc.) are offered around the world. 

The prayer of reparation was first published on Oct. 26, the eve of the close of the Amazon Synod, in an open letter forcefully condemning the use of the Pachamama statue in the Vatican. 

Introducing the prayer in his open letter, Bishop Schneider wrote: “With tears in one’s eyes and with sincere sorrow in the heart, one should offer to God prayers of intercession and reparation for the eternal salvation of the soul of Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ on earth, and the salvation of those Catholic priests and faithful who perpetrated such acts of worship, which are forbidden by Divine Revelation.”

Here below is the full text of the Prayer of Reparation. 

 

Prayer of Reparation for the idolatrous acts during the last Synod for the Amazon 

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, receive through the hands of the Immaculate Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary from our contrite heart a sincere act of reparation for the acts of worship of wooden idols and symbols during the Synod for the Amazon, which occurred in Rome, the Eternal City, the heart of the Catholic world. Pour out in the heart of Our Holy Father Pope Francis, of the Cardinals, of the Bishops, of priests and lay faithful, your Spirit, who will expel the darkness of their minds, so that they might recognize the impiety of such acts, which offended your Divine majesty and offer to you public and private acts of reparation. 

Pour out in all members of the Church the light of the fullness and beauty of the Catholic Faith. Enkindle in them the burning zeal of bringing the salvation of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, to all men, especially the people in the Amazon region, who still are enslaved in the service of feeble material and perishable things, as the deaf and mute symbols and idols of “mother earth.” Enkindle the light of faith in those persons, especially in the persons of the Amazonian tribes who do not yet possess the liberty of the children of God, and who do not have the unspeakable happiness of knowing Jesus Christ and having in Him a participation in the life of your Divine nature. 

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are the one true God, besides Whom there is no other god and no salvation, have mercy on your Church. Look especially upon the tears and contrite and humble sighs of the little ones in the Church. Look upon the tears and prayers of the little children, of the adolescents, of young men and young women, of the fathers and mothers of families and also of the true Christian heroes, who in their zeal for your glory and in their love for Mother Church threw into the water the symbols of abomination which defiled her. Have mercy on us: spare us, O Lord, parce Domine, parce Domine! Have mercy on us: Kyrie eleison! Amen.

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Abortion activists announce plans to make Virginia a ‘safe haven’ for abortion after election wins

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By Calvin Freiburger

VIRGINIA, November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – With Democrats taking control of the Virginia legislature this week, abortion advocates see an opportunity to reinforce abortion-on-demand within its borders.

Democrats gained two state Senate seats and six House seats on Tuesday, marking the first time in 26 years the party controlled the legislature and the governorship simultaneously. Perhaps the most notable victory was that of incumbent Del. Kathy Tran, who inadvertently sparked a national debate about infanticide in January when she admitted a bill she had introduced would allow abortion as late as when a mother “has physical signs that she is about to give birth.”

Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam intensified the controversy when he defended the bill on the grounds that in cases of “severe deformities” or a “nonviable” baby, he said, a born-alive infant would be “delivered,” “kept comfortable,” but after that the child would “be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Northam’s troubles further intensified days later when images from a medical school yearbook surfaced depicting him wearing either blackface or a Ku Klux Klan robe at a party. Adding to state Democrats’ woes, allegations surfaced that Lt. Gov. Justin Farifax sexually assaulted a woman at the 2004 Democrat National Convention, and Attorney General Mark Herring admitted that he too had worn blackface in the 1980s.

None of those scandals forced those men out of office, however, nor did they render Democrats toxic with a majority of Virginia voters, leaving the abortion lobby with an opportunity to seize next year.

“Our vision is to make Virginia a safe haven for abortion care and access,” NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia executive director Tarina Keene told Vice Wednesday. “In the event of the worst-case scenario—that Roe is overturned—we can put these safeguards in place to make sure people who live in surrounding states and even beyond have access to care.”

Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC board chair Paulette McElwain added that the abortion lobby’s “first order of business” would be the repeal of several modest pro-life laws currently on Virginia’s books, including a 24-hour waiting period, a mandate that abortionists offer women an ultrasound image of their babies, parental consent, and a ban on abortion coverage in tax-subsidized health insurance plans.

Pro-life activists fear that Democrats could also repeal the state’s current bans on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions with legislation similar to Tran’s bill or a bill like those introduced in several other states to codify a statutory “right” to abortion in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

“Because our opposition has so dramatically shifted [from moderate Democrats to abortion absolutists] the margins are much wider if there’s a loss,” Virginia pro-life activist Rev. Patrick Mahoney told LifeSiteNews this week, urging pro-lifers to “focus on the urgency of the hour.”

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Ex-abortionist: After giving birth, I made the ‘fetal-baby connection’

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By Calvin Freiburger

November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Former abortionists and abortion supporters can awaken to the barbarism of abortion in a variety of ways, and former abortionist Dr. Kathi Aultman says her journey began when the birth of her own child focused her mind of the humanity of preborn babies.

Aultman, a retired OB/GYN who is now with the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, has testified before Congress on behalf of pro-life laws, and joined LifeSiteNews’ Jonathon Van Maren for an interview on this week’s episode of The Van Maren Show.

“I think I must have made the fetal-baby connection when my baby was born,” she said, “because when I went back to the clinic, I ran into these three patients, and when I look at my responses now, I must've been thinking more of that fetus as a baby.”

One patient was seeking her fourth abortion, the second declared “no, I just want to kill it” in response to being asked whether she wanted to see the “tissue,” and the third was a mother of four who aborted for financial reasons, and “cried the whole time she was there.”

Aultman recalled telling her clinic manager she didn’t want to commit abortions anymore, only to be met with, “you don't have that right. She has the right to do that and you need to do the abortion.” She responded, “that's easy for you to say. You're not the one doing the killing.”

“So at that point, I must have already known somehow that I was killing,” Aultman said. “I think God brought to my mind that it was the apathy and hostility of the first two patients contrasted with the misery of the third patient who knew what it was to have a child. That contrast was what changed my mind and I personally just couldn't stomach doing abortions anymore.”

While those experiences pushed her away from personal involvement in abortion, she did not become fully pro-life until a friend shared with her an article comparing abortion to the Nazi Holocaust.

“My father was with the unit that liberated the first concentration camp in World War II,” Aultman said. “And so I grew up with those stories and pictures. And I when I became a doctor, I couldn't understand how the German doctors could do what they did, until I read that article.”

“Yeah, they could do it just like I could kill babies because we didn't consider them human,” she confessed. “They didn't consider the Jews and the other people they mistreated and killed as humans. And I didn't consider fetuses as human.”

“And that was the first time that I saw myself as a mass murderer,” Aultman continued. “And it was right about then the Ted Bundy case was in the news. And then I thought, ‘oh my gosh. You know, I've killed a lot more people than Ted Bundy.’ But it wasn't illegal.” Her first congressional testimony against abortion followed shortly afterward.

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Horror of abortion is ‘exactly what the pictures show,’ ex-abortionist confirms

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By LSN

November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – While many in the abortion debate reserve their most heated reactions for the use of graphic abortion images, those images offer an accurate depiction of abortion’s aftermath, according to former abortionist Dr. Kathi Aultman.

Aultman, a retired OB/GYN who is now with the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute, has testified before Congress on behalf of pro-life laws, and joined LifeSiteNews’ Jonathon Van Maren for an interview on this week’s episode of The Van Maren Show, where they discussed her experiences and her journey toward the pro-life side.

“The one thing people will say, especially when they see abortion, victim photography or imagery that shows how gory and horrible abortion actually is, they’ll say that there's no way that it actually looks like that,” Van Maren said, relaying his own experiences in pro-life outreach. “What did you see in your work as an abortion provider?” 

“It's exactly what the pictures show. I mean, how can it be otherwise?” Aultman confirmed. “You're tearing this little body limb from limb, so you get arms and legs and faces. And it's exactly what the pictures portray that you have been out there.”

“We were in a hearing once and I had given a fairly graphic description, very graphic, graphic but honest description,” she recalled. “And one of the members got upset that ‘we had no decorum, and how could I be so graphic?’ And the chairman of the committee said, ‘well, gosh, if we can't even discuss it,  should we be doing them?’”

“Right. If it's too hard to look at, why are we allowing this to happen?” Van Maren responded.

There is disagreement within the pro-life movement on the use of graphic abortion photos as visual aids. Some argue that displaying them is necessary to force people to face the harsh reality of abortion, while others feel their use in certain circumstances can needlessly alienate people who would be reachable through argument and more benign ultrasound imagery

A 2016 study commissioned by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform found that viewing graphic abortion images resulted in a 17 percent gain toward a pro-life worldview.

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

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

To receive weekly emails when a new episode is uploaded, click here.

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Vatican hosts youth conference with pro-abortion UN activists

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By Diane Montagna
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UN-Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Youth at the Casina Pio IV, Vatican City, Oct. 15, 2019. (SDSN-Youth Facebook page)
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UN-Sustainable Development Solutions Network - Youth at the Casina Pio IV, Vatican City, Oct. 15, 2019. (SDSN-Youth Facebook page)
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Jeffrey Sachs attends climate change meeting at Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican City, Nov. 2017. Photo by Diane Montagna
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Two young ladies (left) hold SDG 5 sign and SDG 3 signs at 2017 Vatican Youth symposium. (SDSN-Youth Facebook page)
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Pontifical Academy of Sciences Chancellor Bishop Marcello Sanchez Sorondo and Jeffrey Sachs at 2019 Vatican Youth Symposium. (SDSN-Youth Facebook page)

ROME, November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — With so much attention focused in recent weeks on the violation of the first commandment, further attacks on the fifth and sixth commandments have gone unnoticed in Vatican City. 

In the middle of the Amazon Synod, a smaller but not insignificant gathering was also organized by the Holy See and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), directed by pro-abortion globalist and sustainable development guru, Jeffrey Sachs. 

Founded by former United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon in 2012, donors and partners of SDSN include the pro-abortion, pro-gender theory Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. One of Sachs’s biggest supporters over the years has also been far-left financier George Soros, who donated $50 million to his Millennium Villages Project

The Oct. 15 Vatican youth symposium, hosted at the headquarters of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Casina Pio IV, was titled: “Intergenerational Leadership: Laudato Si’ and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The conference, which has taken place in the Vatican for the fourth consecutive year, was designed to discuss the promoting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), numbers 3.7 and 5.6 of which include “sexual and reproductive health services,” which is a euphemism used in the United Nations to refer to abortion and contraception.

SDG 3.7 reads: “By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.”

SDG 5.6 states: “Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.”

The young people attending the Vatican symposium gathered for a group photo outside the Pontifical Academy of Sciences holding colored signs, symbolizing the different SDGs, including a green sign of SGD 3, labeled health and well-being, and an orange sign of SDG 5, labeled Gender Equality, both pictured below: 

A quick visit to the SDSN-Youth website shows a young lawyer boasting of travelling around India promoting abortion and contraception.“There are other positive initiatives, like the newly launched inject-able contraceptive Tarang. It lasts for three months and requires less care daily than oral pills,” 25-year-old Aparna said in an Oct. 2018 posting

“The community too is showing wide acceptance of this method of contraceptive,” she said. “However, despite these initiatives, there is a lot of scope for improvement towards training medical personnel and ensuring abortions are youth-friendly.”

In 2017, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, justified the increasing role played by Jeffrey Sachs in events organized or hosted by the Holy See by saying that Sachs does not express his pro-abortion opinions in the context of the events. 

“Jeffrey Sachs, in public, didn’t say it,” the academy chancellor insisted in 2017. “He didn’t speak here about this. He didn’t write here anything like this.” 

But the Vatican youth symposium, co-organzed with the SDSN-Youth, is specifically promoting as objectives targets which include legal abortion and plentiful contraception. 

The meeting, which was opened by Bishop Sorondo and Jeffrey Sachs, highlighted the important role education will play in implementing the sustainable development goals. SDSN has already established a wide network that targets universities and schools through it’s Global Schools Program.

The coming months will show what role if any SDSN and its youth-branch play in the ‘Global Education Pact’ Pope Francis has called for in May 2020.

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Toronto Catholic District School Board Trustees at the Nov. 7, 2019 meeting. Lianne Laurence / LifeSiteNews
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Toronto Catholic School Board votes to adopt ‘gender’ ideology in code of conduct

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By Lianne Laurence

TORONTO, November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) voted early Friday morning to add “gender identity” and “gender expression” to its code of conduct.

Critics say the move will compel Catholic students and teachers to submit to LGBT ideology that claims, contrary to Catholic teaching, that males can “transition” into females and females into males.

The TCDSB trustees voted eight to four to add the terms, as well as “marital status and family status,” to the code, which governs students and teachers. The Toronto Catholic District School Board is one of the largest boards in Canada with over 90,000 students. 

According to the policy update, "all members of the school community must: respect and treat others fairly, regardless of, for example, race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability."

Garry Tanuan, Michael Del Grande, Nancy Crawford and Teresa Lubinski voted against the policy amendment following a marathon seven-hour and often heated meeting that ended at 2 AM. 

According to a TCDSB report submitted just before the meeting, the Archdiocese of Toronto has approved adding the terms with the proviso that these be “interpreted through the lens of the Catholic faith.”

The report “was the first time the archdiocese’s views on the matter had been made public,” reported the Toronto Star.

The report was “the result of ongoing discussions behind the scenes between the archdiocese and board staff in trying to come up with language for TCDSB policy that follows the law and respects Catholic teaching,” according to the Star.

But Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Coalition says “there’s no such thing as ‘a Catholic lens,’ through which people can be taught to respect sin and embrace sin.”

“The resulting language is a betrayal of the Catholic faith and a form of apostasy,” said Fonseca, director of political operations for Campaign Life.

“Gender identity theory directly attacks the image of God in creation, which was created male and female, and an attack on the image of God is a form of apostasy,” he told LifeSiteNews.

Campaign Life Coalition, Canada’s largest pro-life, pro-family political lobbying group, has been mobilizing supporters to lobby against the policy amendment.

The pro-family group also petitioned Toronto’s Cardinal Thomas Collins to direct trustees to vote against including the terms, a petition signed by 2,753 people to date.

Friday morning’s vote comes after months of bitter controversy generated by an October 2018 ministry of education request that all school boards align their codes of conduct to comply with the provincial code and the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC). The provincial code and the OHRC both prohibit discrimination against an individual based on that person's "gender identity" and "gender expression."

Boards were asked to comply by November 4.

The board has heard dozens of delegations since March, many of these warning that adding the terms to the code would enshrine the false gender ideology in the code in contradiction of Catholic teaching.

Campaign Life has also petitioned for board chair Maria Rizzo to resign over the matter. 

Rizzo has been in the forefront in pushing for including the terms, arguing that it is the law. She said Thursday night including the terms does not mean the board is condoning gender theory or homosexuality

However, delegate Chris Elliott, a youth minister from St. Timothy’s, spoke for many who opposed amending the policy when he warned doing so was a “Trojan horse” that would fundamentally undercut Catholic beliefs.

“Your vote as board members will have far-reaching consequences, I daresay it will be historic,” Elliott told trustees. “It will either be the day where you took a firm stand for Christ and defended our Catholic beliefs and values or…. the day you timidly surrendered them for all of us.”

Contact information for respectful communications: 

Cardinal Thomas Collins, Office of the Cardinal
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario M4T 1W2
Ph: 416-934-0606, ext. 609
email:[email protected]

Related:

Catholic school board excludes gender ideology in code of conduct, but bitter battle’s not over

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As 200K Catholics leave German Church, liberal media look there for Catholic leadership

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By Phil Lawler

November 8, 2019 (CatholicCulture.org) — Terry Mattingly of GetReligion is invariably on target with his critiques of media coverage. But he hits the very center of the bullseye with this column, on a Washington Post story that ran under the headline: German bishops want to modernize the church. Are they getting too far ahead of Pope Francis? In the Post story, Mattingly observes, "German bishops are the good guys." The only question is whether the Pope will follow their leadership.

But where are they leading? The Post is satisfied that the German hierarchy is in the vanguard in calling for married priests, woman priests, shared communion, and a general relaxation of Church teaching on moral questions. If your goal is to change the Catholic Church, then, yes, the German bishops are "far ahead" of the universal Church.

But what if your goal is to spread the Catholic faith? Then the German bishops are, as a group, miserable failures. Mattingly notes that 216,078 Germans formally renounced their Catholic faith last year. That trend is well established; the German bishops expect to lose another 10 million faithful by 2035. So Mattingly asks the key questions:

If you were writing about the rising influence of German Catholic bishops in the bitter global debates about the future of Catholic doctrine, worship and tradition, how much material would your story need to include about the health of the German church? Would you assume that the Catholic world needs to be more like Germany, if the goal is growth and "reform"?

The Post does mention the exodus from the German Church — but never explores the reasons behind it. German bishops, the Post tells us, "have watched as more than 100,000 Germans leave the Catholic Church every year." (Well, yes; "more than" 100,000; in fact more than twice that figure.) There's a quick reference to the sex-abuse crisis which has "intensified the discontent," and then we're back to the need for "making the church more relevant to people's lives." Which will be done, presumably, by emphasizing the issues dear to the Washington Post.

If you actually want to know how the Catholic Church might attract more people, Mattingly observes, "all roads lead to Africa — where the Catholic population has grown by nearly 250% since 1980."

Published with permission from CatholicCulture.org.

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Abortion numbers are down, but they’re not counting do-it-yourself abortions

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By Tessa Longbons

November 8, 2019 (Daily Signal) — Pro-lifers hailed some good news recently: The rate of abortions in the United States has fallen to a record low, according to a recent report from the Guttmacher Institute.

But the report also included some bad news. Of the more than 860,000 abortions in the U.S. in 2017, chemical abortions increased 25% from 2014 and now account for nearly 4 in 10 abortions in the U.S.

And that doesn't include self-induced abortions, which the report indicates are going up.

In 2014, 12% of abortion facilities treated a woman who had attempted a do-it-yourself abortion and suffered complications, but by 2017, that figure had reached 18%. That percentage may still be increasing because of Aid Access, a relatively new abortion organization that aims to push self-induced chemical abortions on the United States.

Aid Access is the U.S.-focused spin-off of Women on Web, an organization created to push chemical abortion on nations where it is prohibited by law or not easily accessible.

Over the past year and a half, Aid Access has illegally shipped more than 7,000 abortion pill packages to American women. Aid Access has published testimonials from women in Georgia, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Virginia and acknowledges that at least 39 Idaho residents have been sent pills.

In March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered Aid Access to stop, but Aid Access has ignored the warning and responded with a lawsuit against the FDA. Aid Access' lawsuit claims the FDA seized as many as 10 shipments of abortion pills.

Aid Access' illegal distribution of abortion pills, which goes undocumented in official abortion reporting, may be changing the United States abortion landscape by artificially lowering reported abortion rates in some states and driving up abortions overall.

Aid Access claims to meet a growing demand. According to The Guardianmost of Aid Access' pills are sent to women in states with strong pro-life policies, a category that includes many states with relatively high online search rates for information on do-it-yourself abortions.

One such state, South Dakota, recently reported its lowest annual abortion total since 1973. More South Dakota women traveled out of state for abortions in 2018, no doubt contributing to the lower total.

But South Dakota also reported a sudden drop in chemical abortions. At least one South Dakota woman was mailed abortion pills, as evidenced by Aid Access' testimonials. Other South Dakotans may have followed suit, driving down the number of reported abortions as a result.

In other states with high online search rates, though, officially reported abortions actually increased. In Oklahoma, for instance, both total abortions and chemical abortions increased by 6%.

Although Aid Access likely commands a share of the abortion market in both states, that influence isn't reflected as a drop in the official numbers.

Could Aid Access be expanding demand for abortion in these states, mailing pills to women who wouldn't have had abortions otherwise, as some of its customers acknowledge?

"I could not afford to go to a clinic and was afraid that after having an ultrasound and counseling session they make you go through, that I would be conflicted," one woman writes. Another explains that "without you I would have brought a child into the world."

Aid Access wouldn't be the first to use that strategy — abortion giant Planned Parenthood has increased demand for abortions in the U.S. and outpaced its smaller competitors.

But Aid Access' influence on U.S. abortion trends is more difficult to measure. Fewer than half the states have released abortion data for 2018 — the year Aid Access launched — and the most recent national report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contains data from 2015. National data for 2018 won't be available for several more years.

This lack of data is concerning because the impact of the online sale of abortion drugs on women's health is unknown. In its drive to make abortion "accessible," Aid Access is distributing the pills outside of — in fact, in direct violation of — the protective regulations put in place by the FDA and ignoring the reasons those protections were implemented.

Under the best of circumstances, as many as 1 in 5 chemical abortions can lead to complications. Not every woman ends up taking the drugs she receives, and no one knows where the pills may end up. Abortion drugs are less effective when shared with a friend after sitting on a shelf for a year or two, or baking in a hot Georgia mailbox for a few hours.

Trends may become clearer as more states release abortion reports, but some states are years behind, and others don't report at all.

Aid Access continues to blatantly disregard the authority of the FDA, and pills continue to flow into the U.S.

Aid Access is changing abortion in the United States, but because of the dismal nature of U.S. abortion reporting and Aid Access' overseas prescribing-and-shipping process, we don't know exactly how — and we don't know who will be hurt in the process.

As things now stand, U.S. women are being subjected to a mass experiment engineered by a foreign distributor acting in violation of U.S. laws promulgated by the Obama FDA. Women deserve better, no matter where they reside.

Published with permission from The Daily Signal.

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William Kilpatrick

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Bill Barr shows there’s no such thing as ‘generic religion’

William Kilpatrick
By William Kilpatrick

PETITION: Stop Islamic propaganda sessions in America's public schools Sign the petition here.

November 8, 2019 (Turning Point Project) — On October 11, Attorney General William Barr delivered a powerful speech on religious freedom at the University of Notre Dame. The Attorney General detailed the many ways in which the State has taken sides with various anti-religious pressure groups not only to curtail religious freedom, but to force irreligion and secular values on people of faith.

Barr reminded his audience that religion provides great benefits to the State which the State cannot provide for itself; and without which it descends either into totalitarianism or licentiousness. "The fact is," said Barr, "that no secular creed has emerged capable of performing the role of religion."

There's nothing new here, of course, and Barr cites a number of brilliant thinkers who have said as much — John Adams, Edmund Burke and James Madison. The main point they all agreed on is that you can't have self-government unless individuals learn to govern themselves. And the most reliable way that people learn to control their appetites is through religion.

But, as Barr points out, we need to keep reminding ourselves of the connection between religion, virtue, and freedom because, when we forget, religion declines and social pathology abounds. At that point, the State steps in to restore order — but almost always with a heavy hand.

There's much more. Barr's talk is worth reading and pondering. It provides a great deal of much needed clarity on issues that are seldom discussed in the mainstream media.

But there is one area that Barr understandably avoids. If religion in general is declining in the West, there is one religion that is not. Islam is growing in the West, and all over the world. During the course of his talk he frequently alludes to the "Judeo-Christian moral system," "Christianity," and, not surprisingly given his audience, the importance of "Catholic education." But he never mentions Islam — a religion that profoundly affects the lives of more than a billion people.

In one way that's not surprising. Barr is simply following in the footsteps of the Founders. When they spoke of the benefits of religion to society, it seems obvious that the religion they had in mind was Christianity. After all, that is the religious tradition in which they were raised.

In addition, most of the founders would have had only a limited knowledge of Islam. When Jefferson and Adams — then ambassadors to France and England respectively — met with Tripoli's ambassador to England, they were surprised to hear his justification for the Barbary State's war against other nations:

The ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners...

Twenty years later, when the first American edition of the Koran was printed in 1806, the editor saw fit to offer a few choice words about its contents: "This book is a long conference of God, the angels, and Mahomet, which that false prophet very grossly invented."

Although the Koran is now readily available in America, many, if not most Americans, don't seem to know much more about Islam than was known in America circa 1776. A fair number of Americans still think that the word "Islam" means "peace."

Undoubtedly, Bill Barr knows considerably more about Islam than the average American. And that may be why he does not include it in his mention of religions that improve the nation's moral tone. That's because Islam is not exactly the poster boy for the argument that religion benefits society.

Most Muslim majority nations are quasi-totalitarian states. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, Christians can go to jail for practicing their religion, and Muslim women can be imprisoned for refusing to wear the hijab. In Saudi Arabia, Christian tourists can be arrested for openly displaying a Bible, and in Pakistan, one wrong word about Muhammad can put you behind bars for years. Meanwhile, Islamic Turkey holds the world record for the number of jailed journalists.

Still, it is often argued that Muslims share many values in common with Christians and Jews, and that Islam plays a major role in helping Muslims govern their passions and curtail their appetites. After all, Muslims dress modestly, pray regularly, and fast during Ramadan. Moreover, like many Christians and Jews, Muslims are opposed to pornography, abortion, and the LGBT agenda.

But a closer look reveals that the self-governance practiced by Muslims is often akin to the "self-governance" exhibited by North Korean peasants. They behave themselves because they have to. Most people will learn to control themselves if the alternative is an electric shock or its psychological equivalent. And most will adjust their consciences accordingly. For every Iranian woman who refuses to wear the hijab, there are a hundred who have convinced themselves that wearing it is a proof of virtue.

There is, however, a double standard in Islam when it comes to controlling passions. Women are expected to control themselves; men, not so much. Indeed the woman carries a double burden. If a man loses his sexual self-control, he has no one to blame but a woman. Women are responsible not only for controlling themselves, but also for the man's loss of self-control. In the presence of an uncovered women, the man cannot be expected to control himself.

This element in Islamic culture helps to explain why the incidence of rape skyrocketed in England, Germany, Sweden, and other European countries after the mass Muslim migration of 2015–2016. Young Muslim men suddenly encountered streets full of women who, in addition to being uncovered, were also infidels, and therefore completely unqualified for the protection owed to Muslim women who dress modestly.

This is the Islamic version of vive la différence. Indeed the whole Islamic system is built on a structure of differences and inequalities. Chief among these are that men are superior to women, and that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims. In fact, Islamic law stipulates that the value of a Christian or Jew is only one third the value of a Muslim.

This brings us back by a circuitous route to the Founders and the founding document — the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration states that "all men are created equal," and "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." But, as I wrote in an earlier article:

Which Creator is the Declaration referring to? It would make no sense to claim that Allah would qualify for the position, because in Islam all men are not created equal. Muslims, who are described in the Koran as 'the best of people,' are considered to be decidedly superior to non-Muslims.

It's a good bet that when the Founders spoke of God and religion, they were not thinking of Allah and Islam. And it's an even better bet that when William Barr talks about the benefits of religion, he's mainly talking about the benefits conferred by the Judeo-Christian moral system.

In a sense, Barr's speech was a counter-cultural statement. By omitting any reference to Islam he was going against the tide of contemporary culture — a culture which insists that all religions and cultures are interchangeable, and that all are equally good. Considering that Barr was speaking to a Catholic audience, it's ironic that more than a few in the hierarchy now seem to subscribe to that very proposition.

I am sure that Barr would be the first to agree that a Muslim's freedom of religion is and ought to be protected by the First Amendment. But Islam itself claims to be a whole different ball of wax in relation to other religions. On matters of equality and religious freedom, it differs markedly from Christianity. And it wouldn't be truthful to pretend otherwise.

Since Muslims make up less than two percent of the American population, the questions raised here may seem like merely academic questions. But not too long ago, such questions would also have seemed academic in Europe. Now, however, in many parts of Europe the number of Muslims who attend mosque on Friday will soon surpass the number of Christians who attend Sunday services. By mid-century Islam may well be the dominant religion in some European states. At that point we will see whether the concept of religious liberty can survive the coming of Islam.

We tend to think that Islamization will never happen in America. But twenty years ago, who would have believed that the number of "nones" (the religiously unaffiliated) would exceed the number of Catholics in the U.S.? Barr asks, "What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the hearts of the individual person?" Right now there seem to be three contenders to fill the vacuum. Will it be a resurgence of Judeo-Christian morals as Barr hopes? Or will it be some rigid secular orthodoxy as he fears? Or will it be, as is increasingly the case in Europe, the religion of Muhammad?

This article originally appeared in the October 27, 2019 edition of Catholic World Report. It is published here with permission from the Turning Point Project.

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William Kilpatrick

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Islam and Christianity are not equally good for America. One is good, the other isn’t

William Kilpatrick
By William Kilpatrick

PETITION: Stop Islamic propaganda sessions in America's public schools Sign the petition here.

This article originally appeared in the October 19, 2010 edition of Front Page Magazine. It is published here with permission from the Turning Point Project.

November 8, 2019 (Turning Point Project) — Attorney General William Barr's recent speech at the University of Notre Dame reminds us of the central role that religion plays in shaping free and responsible citizens. But will any religion do? Here are my thoughts on the matter from nine years ago.

President Eisenhower famously observed that "our form of government has no sense unless it is founded on a deeply felt religious faith, and I don't care what it is." Now that we are beginning to see the consequences when Muslims act on their deeply felt faith, it's time to revisit Eisenhower's statement. The question is, can we still afford to take an "I don't care what it is" attitude toward religion? In short, does the content of a religion matter? Or are we to assume that all religions share the same essential truths, as Eisenhower seemed to assume?

It's ironic that the part of Eisenhower's statement which evoked criticism in the early 1950s would pass almost unnoticed today, while the part that seemed unremarkable then would be challenged in many quarters today. When Eisenhower said, "our form of government has no sense unless it is founded on a deeply felt religious faith," he was merely echoing a widespread belief. Even William O. Douglas, the most liberal member of the Supreme Court at the time, and not a particularly religious man, opined in a 1952 decision that "We are a religious people, whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being."

Since then, however, we've grown accustomed to the notion that religion ought to have little or no influence on our government and institutions. More and more, religion is looked upon as something that should be confined to the private sphere. As a result, religion has been pushed steadily out of public life — one Christmas crèche, one school prayer, one court decision at a time. These days, most of our institutions, particularly the press, the courts, and the schools, seem to presume that secularism is the officially established belief.

Conversely, the part of Eisenhower's statement that caused many to snicker in the 1950s would strike most today as self-evidently true. Numerous priests, pastors, rabbis, and theologians took Eisenhower to task for adding, "and I don't care what it is" to his endorsement of religion. Long before the threat of Islamization, thoughtful Americans realized that the content of a religion mattered very much. They protested that a vague "faith in faith" would not be enough to sustain our form of society in difficult times.

By contrast, after several decades of multicultural indoctrination we have now reached a pass where "I don't care what it is" seems the height of enlightened wisdom. Our present society is so thoroughly invested in the doctrine of cultural equivalence that hardly anyone dares to publicly express a preference or partiality for one religion over another — except, of course, if the religion happens to be Islam. In that case the neutrality rule seems dispensable. For example, New York's city fathers granted almost immediate approval to the Ground Zero mosque project, but after nine years, the plan to rebuild St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, which was destroyed by the 9-11 blast, has met with nothing but opposition. But, apart from the occasional favoritism shown to Islam, the notion that all religions are equally OK suits us just fine.

Still, the introduction of Islam into the American equation forces us to look more closely than we ever have before at the church/state question. Is the state supposed to ignore religion, or should it encourage it? Are some religions more conducive than others to a healthy social order? Eisenhower's famous statement provides a good starting point for framing some answers. "Ike" was right in saying our form of government doesn't make sense without a religious foundation. The Declaration of Independence, for instance, has religion written all over it. No matter how you parse it, it's difficult to read "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," "endowed by their Creator," "appealing to the Divine Judge of the World," and "a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence" as an endorsement of secularism. And the benefits of a religious foundation don't end with the establishment of inalienable rights for individual citizens. Religion provides a service to the state, as well — a service that the state can't perform for itself — at least, not very successfully. What is it? In brief, the sacred realm makes sense out of life. Religious faith imparts a conviction of ultimate meaning. And this, in turn, is good for the state because people with meaningful lives tend to be better behaved citizens.

"Ah, yes!" exclaims the half-educated leftist, "Religion — the opium of the people!" Not quite. Marx, who had a shallow understanding of religion, thought of religion as an escapist fantasy — an opium dream devised to keep people in a state of passivity. With their eyes focused on the next world, said Marx, believers wouldn't work to change this one. But actual religious people aren't like that. The more actively people practice their faith, the more likely they will be involved in trying to improve their community. That's not just a theory; it's been shown by a number of studies. Just as importantly, religious people feel a duty to improve themselves. Christians, for example, are supposed to try to conform their lives to Christ. The upshot is that people who take their religion seriously have strong incentives to practice virtue and avoid vice. All told, people who learn to govern themselves out of religious motives are better candidates for self-government than people who don't practice self-restraint. This is what John Adams meant when he said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."

Thus, a society that hopes to maintain a free and self-governing citizenry will want to do everything it can to encourage and foster religion. Just because the government shouldn't be in the business of establishing a specific religion, doesn't mean it should be neutral as between religion and irreligion. If, as Adams wrote, our Constitution would only work with a moral and religious people, then it makes sense for the state to do what it can to provide a favorable climate for religion — as it does, for example, by providing tax-exempt status to churches. Joe Sobran once made the point that although the First Amendment right to a free press implies a right not to read, along with the right to read, no one ever suggests that the state should remain neutral as between reading and non-reading. Reading, like religion, has its dangers, but, on the whole, literacy is good for the health of a society. Thus, for example, lessons in reading and writing are not optional for the elementary school set.

As President Eisenhower correctly noted, our form of government doesn't make much sense apart from "deeply felt religious faith." But exactly what religion are we talking about? Will any "deeply felt faith" do? Or were Eisenhower, Douglas, and the rest implicitly assuming a Judeo-Christian framework?

It's the second part of Eisenhower's statement that is problematic — the "and I don't care what it is" part. The question is, are religions interchangeable? Will any religion provide a proper foundation for our form of government? Does every religion confer equal benefits to society and to individuals? Suppose Eisenhower had said "Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded on a deeply held religious faith such as Islam." It would sound strange, to say the least. And it's a good bet that Islam was pretty far from Eisenhower's thoughts on the occasion of his speech. The man who named the war against the Nazis "the Crusade in Europe" was obviously thinking of another religion when he made his famous statement.

How about Justice William O. Douglas? When he said, "We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being," which Supreme Being did he have in mind? Considering that he was speaking about the American people and their institutions, it's highly unlikely that he was thinking of Allah.

According to the Declaration of Independence, all men are created equal, but are all Supreme Beings equal? The Declaration states that men are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights," but which Creator is the Declaration referring to? It would make no sense to claim that Allah would qualify for the position, because in Islam all men are not created equal. Muslims, who are described in the Koran as "the best of people," are considered to be decidedly superior to non-Muslims. For example, under Shariah law a Muslim who kills another Muslim may have to pay with his life, but a Muslim who kills a non-Muslim need only pay "blood money" to the murdered man's relatives. Islamic charity isn't dispensed equally, either. It's only meant for other Muslims. During the recent flooding in Pakistan, police and local clerics refused aid and shelter to Christians and Hindus, despite the fact that the majority of relief money and supplies came from non-Muslim countries. "With charity toward all" is an alien concept in much of the Muslim world.

The Supreme Being as depicted in the Koran is an entirely different sort of being from the one depicted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Although a lot of Christians like to say that "We all worship the same God," the Koran explicitly rejects Christianity and the Christian notion of God. It does this on several occasions and in no uncertain terms. The Jesus of the Koran, for example, seems to have been introduced into it for the sole purpose of denying the claims of Jesus of Nazareth.

In any event, Muslims are not called to the imitation of the Muslim Jesus, but to the imitation of Muhammad. In Islamic tradition he is considered the perfect man, the supreme model of conduct. Just as Christians are supposed to conform their lives to Christ, Muslims are expected to conform their lives to Muhammad. Unfortunately, for those who think that religions are interchangeable, the imitation of Muhammad leads in a very different direction from the imitation of Christ. The imitation of Muhammad leads to unequal treatment of believers and non-believers, to child brides, polygamy, wife beating, stoning for adulterers, the murder of apostates, and various other, shall we say, un-American activities.

Granted, not every American feels called upon to follow Christ, but even lax Christians and non-Christian Americans are the heirs of a culture that was shaped by Christian beliefs. Not everyone practices Christian virtues or recognizes that our moral standards are derived from Jewish and Christian sources, but most Americans recognize that our society benefits when those standards are observed. On the other hand, the taken-for-granted nature of Judeo-Christian standards makes it easy to suppose that what is, in fact, a unique cultural and religious achievement is simply the normal condition of mankind. That's why for many Americans it's extremely difficult to imagine what life would be like under an Islamic moral code.

For a long time we've had the luxury of not having to think very deeply about the relationship between our form of government and our religious tradition. Now that mosques are popping up all over, it's time to ask whether our institutions presuppose merely a generic religion or whether they are linked to a specific religious tradition. When John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people," what religion and what morality did he have in mind? Do we really have the luxury of saying, "I don't care what it is?"

A few months ago, Steve Chapman, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, wrote a piece criticizing opponents of the Ground Zero mosque. In it, Chapman maintained that even if Islam were "inherently violent and totalitarian" it would still deserve the full protection of the First Amendment. Can that really be true? "I may disagree with your head-chopping policy, but I will defend to the death your right to exercise it?" Even Voltaire would have balked at that.

The profound ignorance and dysfunctionality of Islamic societies suggests that all religions are not equal in their capacity to benefit society. Just as it's not wise for a society to maintain a strict neutrality between religion and irreligion, it's equally unwise to pretend that the content of a religious tradition is a matter of complete indifference. They've tried that experiment in Europe and the results have been disastrous. Several years ago the framers of the European Constitution refused to acknowledge the Christian contribution to European civilization. Of course, that was just the confirmation of the post-Christian direction European elites had chosen decades before. And how is the new Christian-free Europe faring? Well, let's see: you can't teach the Holocaust or the Crusades in British schools, forced marriages are the norm in the Midlands, there are "no-go" zones in every French city, female genital mutilation is widely practiced, people who offend Islam go on trial, Jews are fleeing Sweden, and native Dutch and Britons are leaving their respective countries in droves. In short, the dysfunctional culture of the Middle East has set up branch offices in England and on the Continent. Thanks to the multicultural insistence on the moral equivalence of all cultures and religions, post-Christian Europe is rapidly becoming post-free Europe.

Can't happen here? It can and it will unless we rid ourselves of the notion that religions are interchangeable. Nothing facilitates jihad like naïveté. And one of our biggest blind spots is the failure to recognize that different religious beliefs can and do result in radically different cultures.

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Pope Francis (right) poses with native Mexican people during his General Weekly Audience in St. Peter's Square on August 29, 2018. Giulio Origlia / Getty Images
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All Catholics must act to atone for Vatican idolatry during Amazon Synod

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By Steven Mosher

PETITION: Call on Vatican to keep out all "pagan" symbols from St. Peter's and Vatican Property! Sign the petition here.

November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — This is, I promise you, my last word on the sacrileges committed during the Amazon Synod. Truth be told, I find thinking about serial insults to Our Lord, His churches, His altar and His sacrifice that occurred during those few weeks almost unbearable.

It is bad enough that there was a pagan ritual held in the Vatican gardens under the guise of a tree-planting ceremony. It is even worse that the pagan idols worshiped there were allowed into the sacred precincts of several of Rome’s churches, misrepresented to the faithful as mere “symbols” of “Life, Fertility, and Mother Earth.”

But to my mind the worst insult to Our Lord Jesus Christ occurred when, during the closing Mass of the synod, a pagan offering to the Pachamama “earth goddess” was placed on the high altar of St. Peter’s itself. What was an unholy offering to a pagan deity doing on an altar where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was being celebrated?

We’ll talk about what faithful Catholics should do in a moment, but let’s first dig a little deeper into each of these outrages.

Much has been written about the disturbing shamanistic ritual that was carried out in the Vatican gardens, but a couple of details have been overlooked, including Pope Francis’s role in the ritual.

The ritual was presented as a “tree-planting ceremony” celebrating St. Francis of Assisi’s love of nature, but this was just a smokescreen. During the course of the ritual, Pope Francis received and blessed a Pachamama idol and was given a pagan necklace, an offering of soil to Pachamama, and a Tucum ring.

The Tucum ring is a black wooden ring made from an Amazonian palm tree. It is often taken to symbolize a commitment to Liberation Theology, a Marxist distortion of the Faith that emphasizes liberation from poverty over liberation from sin.

But in shamanistic Pachamama rituals, such as the one conducted in the Vatican gardens, it has a deeper and darker meaning. Here a gourd rattle and occult spells are used to direct demonic energy to the Tucum, which comes to represent a spiritual marriage with the “earth goddess” or demon.

In the Vatican News video recording the ritual, the shamaness can be seen empowering the Tucum with occult spells and her gourd rattle beginning at 11:00. She then approaches the pope and puts the black ring on what appears to be the ring finger of his left hand at 12:50.

Just before that, the shamaness had folded a pinch of the soil from the offering bowl to Pachamama into the pope’s left hand and then touched clenched fists with him in some kind of communal gesture.

When asked to explain these strange happenings, the Vatican retreated into silence. For faithful Catholics, this is simply unacceptable. We are practitioners of a very physical religion, who understand that the images, scents, sounds, and even gestures used in our worship services are all freighted with holy meaning. 

In the same way, we instinctively understand that the images, chants, and gestures used in pagan rituals are laden with unholy — that is, demonic — meaning.

I have written about the Pachamama idol here, pointing out that the cult of the “earth goddess” — or demon — is alive and well in the remote reaches of the rainforest, where animal and even human sacrifice is still practiced. Infanticide is still common among the Yanomami and other Amazonian tribes, and children born handicapped are said to lack a soul and are often sacrificed.

The organizers of the Amazon Synod, who tell us how much they admire the “wisdom” of the indigenous inhabitants of the rainforest, surely know that Pachamama is more than a symbol to these peoples.  By honoring the “earth goddess” in this way, they are actually strengthening her cult, which extends from the depths of the Amazon to the peaks of the Andes, as Father Mitch Pacwa has pointed out.

Although the Pachamama idols themselves were not brought into St. Peter’s for the closing Mass, reportedly because several African bishops promised to boycott the proceedings if they were, an offering to Pachamama was brought in by a woman in Amazonian tribal dress. She can be seen leading that procession into St. Peter’s at 23 seconds into the video of the closing Mass.

The Pachamama offering consists of a bowl of soil in which had been planted several plants bearing red flowers. I say “soil,” but the Pachamama offering customarily requires such soil to be mixed with the blood of a sacrificed animal, or even human blood. 

It is impossible to know what the soil contained in this case, but what it signified is not in question. Such a Pachamama offering is intended as an act of reparation to the “earth goddess” for the “sins” that human beings have committed against “her” by taking from “her” the fruits of the earth — animal, vegetable, and mineral.

In other words, it is the exact pagan imitation of the body and blood of Jesus Christ that are daily offered up on the altars of hundreds of thousands of churches during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in reparation for the sins of the world.

Such a pagan Pachamama offering has no place in a Catholic church, and yet not only was it brought into St. Peter’s at the very head of the procession, but it was placed on the high altar itself.

As Robert Moynihan first reported, during the offertory, the Amazonian woman hands the Pachamama offering to the pope (video at 56:30). The pope then turns to Guido Marini, speaking to him as he hands over the offering (56:40). Marini immediately turns and places the Pachamama offering on the right corner of the altar, where it remains throughout the Mass (56:45).

As if to further emphasize the presence of the Pachamama offering on the table of Our Lord, the video itself closes by focusing on it for about 12 seconds (1:32:38) before closing with a brief shot of the cross above the baldacchino.

Most Catholics are aware that in the Novus Ordo, while money or other gifts for the poor or for the Church may be brought forward during the offertory, they are not to be placed on the altar. As the General Instruction of the Roman Missal outlines:

At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist the gifts, which will become Christ’s Body and Blood, are brought to the altar. ... It is praiseworthy for the bread and wine to be presented by the faithful. ... It is well also that money or other gifts for the poor or for the Church, brought by the faithful or collected in the church, should be received. These are to be put in a suitable place but away from the Eucharistic table. (Para. 73)

Seeing these insults offered to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, PRI’s Chaplain, Father Linus Clovis, reminded me of the tocsin that Pope Paul VI sounded on the 60th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima.

As the Corriere della Sera reported, in that October 13, 1977 address, the pope warned:  

The tail of the devil is functioning in the disintegration of the Catholic world. The darkness of Satan has entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church, even to its summit. Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world, and into the highest levels within the Church.

The pope’s words may have seemed a little melodramatic to those listening in 1977, but it is today difficult to deny the truth — indeed, the literal truth — of Pope Paul VI’s assertion. 

I believe that it is safe to say that millions of Catholics around the world were shocked and distressed by the scandal of the Amazon Synod, and especially by the presence and veneration of pagan idols in the Vatican garden, in Rome’s churches, and in the papal presence.

Even more disturbing to many of us, though, was the sight of an offering to the Pachamama idol being placed on the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica itself.

What was a (bloody?) sacrifice to a pagan goddess doing profaning the same altar upon which the unbloody sacrifice of Our Lord for the remission of our sins was being celebrated?

Was it intended to suggest that Our Lord’s sacrifice was somehow incomplete and that we Catholics somehow need to propitiate “Mother Earth” as well for our sins against the environment? Such a proposition would be rank heresy.

Whatever it was supposed to signify, I see it as tangible evidence that, as Pope Paul VI feared, “the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” Indeed, the darkness and confusion that smoke casts have apparently even reached the high altar of the principal basilica of the Universal Church.

An insult has been offered to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for which reparation must be made. 

We at PRI, led by our chaplain, Fr. Linus Clovis, have already begun offering Masses for this intention.

To Jesus Christ, Our Lord and God, be all honor and glory, forever and ever.


Steven W. Mosher is the president of the Population Research Institute and the author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream Is the New Threat to World Order.

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Catholic female 'pastor' Dorenda Gies in her garment designed to be worn during pastoral work in Catholic parishes in the Netherlands.
Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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Meet the female ‘pastors’ who dress and act like priests in Netherlands’ dying Catholic church

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits
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Female 'pastor' Jeanine Heezemans, a pastoral worker in Catholic parishes in the Netherlands.
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Ria Mangnus and Alida van Veldhoven are presented as 'pastors' on a Catholic parish's website in the Netherlands.
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Female 'pastor' Jose Lange appears on the website of the Good Pastor Catholic parish in the Netherlands, speaking from the lectern, wearing a plain white alb with a triangular green scarf.
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Female 'pastor' Ria Mangnus in this 2010 photo taken in a Catholic parish in the Netherlands.
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Female 'pastor' Hilda van Schalkwijk-Trimp in a Catholic parish in the Netherlands.
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Female pastoral worker Carla Roetgering in a Catholic parish in the Netherlands. St. Paulusparochie / Facebook

November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – While Synod Fathers in Rome recently called for “ministries” to be conferred on women in the Amazonian church, parishes in the Netherlands have already opened their doors to females addressed as “pastors” who perform many tasks traditionally carried out by priests. 

While these female pastoral workers dress and often act like priests in the running of Dutch parishes, they are really professional paid workers who have no ministerial functions and they are not ordained. However, in some places these women overstep their role, giving the impression that they are virtual priests, choosing to wear what looks like liturgical garments and being officially addressed as “Pastor.”

This is actually a play on words. In the Netherlands, this used to be the title used for Protestant preachers, with the accent on the first syllable, while Catholic priests were known as “Pastoor,” pronounced like “store” with the accent on the second syllable.

The confusion gets even worse because many ordained priests in Catholic parishes have chosen to be called “Pastor” rather than “Pastoor” since Vatican II in order to appear “closer” to the people.

Examples abound of female pastoral workers who are officially presented as “Pastor” and also called that way – such as Carla Roetgerink at St Paul's parish in Groenlo.

In one of the numerous villages that are linked to that parish, Rekken, another lady “pastor” wearing what looks like an alb and a triangular green stola blessed hunters’ dogs at the end of the St. Hubert celebration, as can be seen in this revealing video. It is true that the name of God and of his only Son are remarkable by their absence from the words of “benediction,” in which “Pastor” Mia Tankink wishes them happy hunting, a happy homecoming and above all the gift of “unity between man and beast.”

Whether the “celebration” was a Mass or not is not clear. Pastoral workers are not allowed to celebrate the sacraments but in the Netherlands, where religious practice on the part of a dwindling Catholic population is also on a downward slope, there are ever fewer priests and while many churches are being closed, others keep up a level of activity by organizing “celebrations” of the Word instead of the Eucharist. Such “celebrations” can be led by women in the more compliant parishes.

Wearing priest-like vestments is forbidden for women and unordained male pastoral workers – who also exist – under official church guidelines. Nor are they allowed to wear liturgical stoles. But the ample off-white robes sported by these female pastoral workers, who also wear variations on pseudo-diaconal triangular sashes in the traditional liturgical colors create an ambiguity that is omnipresent in the more progressive parishes.

One such near-priestly dress was designed by “Pastor” Dorenda Gies, who recently moved to St James the Greater in Dronrijp from another parish. After having studied theology, as pastoral workers are expected to, she married and started her career in a number of Dutch parishes – a job she shares with her husband who was also a pastoral worker.

Dorenda Gies recently told a local newspaper that she was free to create liturgical robes as she wished, provided that they were not priest’s garb. She designed a scarf or sash that looks like a cross between a priest’s stole and a deacon’s stole in Novus ordo vestments. She has a pseudo “stole” for each liturgical color, always embroidered with crosses in gold thread.

She explained that her design, visible here, was “somewhat monastic,” allowing for ample and “characterful” liturgical gestures. As a self-named “pastor” – it appears to be her official title in her new parish – Mrs. Gies, a paid worker, is present near the altar during Mass and she also accompanies funeral ceremonies in the absence of the actual priest.

You can get a glimpse of her speaking to the congregation in near-priestly robes in the video of her welcoming ceremony in Dronrijp at the 1hr 35 mn time mark.

Other examples of women dressing, acting and being presented almost on the same level as priests abound.

In a parish around Walcheren, Ria Mangnus, Alida van Veldhoven and Katrien van de Wiele second the local parish priest at the behest of Bishop Liesen of Breda. They are all presented as “Pastors” on the parish website.

Their male counterpart, Wiel Hacking, is remarkable in his own right. He runs a blog in which he presented the “pain” of a male homosexual pair who “married” civilly in 2014, months before one of the two men died of a grave illness. Their “pain” was the result of the fact that they could not be blessed in church, Hacking explained. Finally, a former chapel was chosen by the retired (Catholic) priest of the parish to offer Leo and Erik a blessing for their union.

The installation ceremony of pastoral worker Ria Mangnus in nearby Vlissingen in 2010 also deserves a mention. Four parishioners handed her ecclesial symbols: a candle, a paten, a “palm”-leaf and a bible. She was given an official mission by her local bishop, Mgr Van den Hende. While she was not ordained and received no ministry as is the rule for pastoral workers, the confusion in the faithful’s minds can easily be imagined when seeing someone who looks and acts like a priest being entrusted with a public pastoral role.

It is the more confusing that the Catholic church has always had consecrated virgins and that their religious habit sets them apart, be they cloistered contemplatives or members of charitable congregations who help, teach, nurse and heal their contemporaries. Pastoral workers, female or male, are clearly not religious. They certainly give the impression of being auxiliary priests who do everything but celebrate the sacraments.

Pastoral workers in the Netherlands are named by the Bishop and given a mission by him but they are linked to their parish by a work contract and appear in some measure as Church functionaries. They can give their notice and step down: this happened with Jeanine Heezemans at St. Peter Damian’s in Goes, who decided to leave on September 1, 2017 although Mrs Mangnus had been on sick leave and a place for a further “pastor” was vacant since the beginning of the year.

Another “pastor” is Myriam Oosting. Her garb is more discreet but she is still honored with the title “pastor” as can be seen here. The faithful of the Saint-Hildegard parish near Groningen who need to talk or organize a funeral are invited to contact one of the local “pastors,” and only to call the parish priest if they need to organize a christening.

Mrs. José Lange, who works in Emmen, in the North-East of the Netherlands, also has a degree in theology and appears on the website of the Good Pastor parish speaking from the lectern visibly within the church, wearing a plain white alb but also a triangular red scarf. As a local Catholic religious commented for LifeSite, “she also is spoken of as ‘pastor’, which is, in fact, an ideological term meant to resemble and then replace the term ‘pastoor’, title of the parish priest.”

Mrs. Hilda van Schalkwijk-Trimp is in a category of her own. She took leave of the Hildegard parish in Zuidhorn at the beginning of 2019. Together with female colleagues, this “pastor” made a public speech during her “good-bye” ceremony in which she underscored that her bishop, Mgr De Korte – even though he is known as a discreet progressive – did not “understand” why she had “problems with the teachings of the Church.”

She also complained about the evolution of her situation. Schalwijk-Trimp explained that when one of the first female pastoral workers was appointed in the diocese, 26 years ago the then bishop, Mgr Möller, wrote that the faithful would do better to go to their own parish on Sundays even if a female pastoral worker was leading the “ceremony of the word and communion” there rather than drive to a nearby village where they could have Mass. “How differently did that go under the bishops who came after him. They kept insisting that ‘the Eucharist is the source and summit of church life’.” She openly deplored that in later times, the priest would take care of catechesis for first Communion and confirmation.

During that same occasion, another pastoral worker, Corina, recalled how one of the first parish priests she had known as a child dreamed with her that one day they would stand at the altar together. “When you are big, Corina, it will be the most normal thing in the world, even in our Catholic Church,” he told her. “Unfortunately that was not to be and I don't think he will witness that during his lifetime,” she added. He was a member of the notorious Dutch “8-May movement” that organized a public protest of Catholic priests and lay people in 1985 against John-Paul II when he visited the Netherlands.

Schalwijk-Trimp was knighted in 2016 by the civil authorities in the Saint-Joseph church of Zuidhom for her work with asylum-seekers in the Netherlands. As a sign of the lack of public interest in a church with female pastoral workers attracts, the celebration was one of the last to take place in that church; the parish, due to a dearth of parishioners, merged with Hildegarde parish nearby.

On a personal note, I remember the funeral of an aunt in the Netherlands where a Mass was said by a priest who had a woman wearing an alb and is stole-like ornament standing next to him at the altar, even during the consecration. It is when she started saying the words of the consecration with him that I stepped outside, hoping to find a more Catholic atmosphere in the fresh spring air.

Is this what the future of the Church looks like? Some of the worst liturgical abuses in the world have taken place in the Netherlands since the modernization of the liturgy after Vatican II, but it is also in this country – which formerly was one onto the biggest purveyors of missionaries in the whole world – that a renewed episcopate appears to be opting for more traditional practice.

Bishop Mustaerts, auxiliary bishop of Den Bosch, recently told LifeSite, in substance, that the number of female pastoral workers is actually dwindling in the Netherlands because the finances of the Church are in a bad state and hiring them is expensive.

But clearly, some dioceses are continuing and even expanding this relatively recent innovation, refusing to make clear as to the precise role and status within the Church. The older variety of priests are still of the generation that can remember the “Pastoral council of the Dutch Church province” charged with implementing Vatican II through four-year long reunions in the former church center of Noordwijkerhout between 1966 and 1970.

Its intent was to use the “signs of the times” as a third source of revelation alongside holy Scripture and Tradition; it was in open revolt against the Pope, created agitation in favor of the abolition of priestly celibacy and against the prohibition of contraception in Humanae vitae.

It is that part of the clergy and faithful that is in practice dying out in the Netherlands, clinging to straws by paying workers, men and women alike, to look after the spiritual needs of the people. This is no success story.

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LGBT activists are now hijacking Remembrance day. Is nothing sacred to them?

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By Jonathon Van Maren

November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Earlier this week, I wrote that things in Canada are moving very, very quickly to the point where the LGBT movement has the power to begin imposing the worldview of the Sexual Revolution on the country—including Christian communities. 

Angry, abusive mobs are attempting to de-platform anyone who refuses to say that biological men can become women. Alberta’s NDP attempted to shut down Christian schools that refused to host gay clubs (and would have done so if they’d won a second mandate). And in just a few days since I noted that things are getting worse, two more very concerning indicators of where we’re at have surfaced.

First, a seventeen-year-old girl was suspended from Stonewall Collegiate high school this week—for disagreeing with the decision to replace the black and red poppy that has been traditionally used to honor veterans with a rainbow poppy that has apparently been created to celebrate the LGBT contribution to Canada’s military. According to the girl — Natalie — teachers, counsellors, and some of the students began pushing to switch to the rainbow poppy, and she disagreed. She “typed up papers on a computer, printed them off, and taped them up in the halls” to express her respectful disagreement, including a few quotes from some news stories on the issue. 

Teachers promptly tore the papers down and took them to the principal, who hauled Natalie into the office and berated her with the vice-principal, yelling at her and accusing her of “hate speech” and “endangering the physical safety of a group of individuals [LGBT students.]” They were so angry that they brought her almost to tears, but says she “had to be the voice for all those families who were greatly disrespected and offended”—there are several World War II veterans in her own family. She remains suspended for “hate speech,” although her father told the media that he was very proud of her for taking a stand. 

It is not particularly surprising that expressing even mild disagreement with the LGBT agenda can get you kicked out of a Canadian public school these days, but it is jarring that the controversy revolved around a rainbow poppy, a thing I didn’t even know existed until this story broke. Remembrance Day has always been a uniquely unifying event in Canada, where those of us from all backgrounds can gather to commemorate and honor those who died to fight for freedom overseas. It seems that the LGBT movement cannot even leave that alone, but must forcibly insert themselves into this day of commemoration and demand that people take a side on their ideological agenda. That’s disgusting.

The second event this week is something I’ve noted would happen eventually: Andrew Scheer was asked, by a journalist, whether or not he thought “homosexuality was a sin.” We are now at the point where socially conservative leaders will be interrogated not on policy, but on what their personal religious beliefs are—and if they refuse to say that they believe specific sexual behaviors or lifestyles are good and moral, than they are promptly pilloried in the press (most of whom don’t even believe in the concept of sin to start with, except with the possible exception of “homophobia.”) The media knows that Andrew Scheer has a reputation for being the sort of Catholic who actually believes in the teachings of the Catholic Church, and thus they want to out him as bigot unfit for office.

Scheer answered the question, but it was not what they were looking for: “We made it very clear during the election, in the last few months and years, that our party is inclusive. We believe in equality of the rights of all Canadians. My personal opinion is that I respect the rights of every single Canadian. And my personal commitment is to stand up — that is my personal opinion — my personal commitment to Canadians is to always fight for the rights of all Canadians, including LGBTQ Canadians.” To which the media’s collective response was: Okay, whatever, but what do you specifically think of the sexual things they do in the bedroom? Do you or do you not approve of those? Canadians want to know!

The immediate media consensus was that if Scheer refuses to march in a Pride Parade (he has consistently affirmed that he will not) or come out and announce his specific moral and religious approval of homosexuality, then he probably could never be prime minister. Global News announced that “Scheer’s silence on a question of ‘sin’ a barrier to Conservative election hopes.” Maclean’s published an op-ed on the homosexuality “question that haunts Andrew Scheer.” And the insufferable radio host Charles Adler took the whole thing even farther, tweeting that: “Millions of Canadians are living together without being officially married. Someone might frame a question this way: ‘Andrew Scheer, if 2 Cdns are living together without being officially married, are they living in sin?’ The answer is ‘NO, I wish to serve Cdns, not judge them.’”

Got that? It is not enough that Andrew Scheer says that the issue of same-sex “marriage” is settled, or that he believes that all Canadians have inherent value. The media response to that is: Yes, but do you approve of what they are specifically into, sexually speaking? The LGBT movement and their media puppets now demand that the state come into the bedroom and remain there to applaud any and all goings-on. It doesn’t matter that millions of Canadians have the same moral beliefs on sexual matters that Scheer does, including Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and Orthodox Jews. Trudeau and Singh don’t get the same questions because the media knows that they are hypocrites who publicly repudiate non-negotiable tenets of their respective religions, but that Scheer appears to actually believe the teachings of his Church.

I think we may have finally arrived at the point where the media simply reads out Bible verses to Christian politicians and then demands to know whether or not said politician will repudiate those passages, especially those that discuss sexuality. Western democracies have long rejected the idea of a religious test for office, and grilling politicians on their moral convictions is, as many secular commentators have already noted, deeply disturbing. But as the LGBT movement continues to conquer cultural ground, nothing is safe. Not Remembrance Day, not our democratic traditions, and, eventually, not our communities. By grilling Andrew Scheer and in their subsequent response, they are sending a loud and clear message: If you still hold to traditional beliefs, you are ineligible to serve the public, and your voice should be eliminated from the public square. 

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 Dr. Kathy Aultman, a former abortion provider. Dr. Aultman has testified on behalf of a wide range of pro-life laws across the United States. She has also testified before Congress about the horrors of the abortion industry that she has seen with her own eyes.

You can subscribe here and listen to the episode below: 

 

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Bishop Athanasius Schneider speaks at the Rome Life Forum in May 2018.
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Bishop Schneider: Pachamama idolatry during Amazon Synod has its roots in Vatican II Council

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By Maike Hickson

PETITION: Call on Vatican to keep out all "pagan" symbols from St. Peter's and Vatican Property! Sign the petition here.

November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, has recently given an interview to Michael Matt, the editor of the Catholic newspaper The Remnant. Speaking about the idolatrous worship of Pachamama statues during the Amazon Synod in Rome, the prelate says: “We have to condemn this.” “Idolatry,” he adds, “is a violation of Divine Revelation” and of the First Commandment. “You cannot commit acts of idolatry in the Catholic Church.”

He further speaks about an “evil” in the Church that is reaching “its culmination” but has been developing “over the last decades.” The current situation shows how much this “evil has penetrated in the Church.” 

“Unfortunately,” Schneider comments, “Pope Francis defends the veneration of these Pachamama idols, in saying there were no idolatrous intentions in using them.” Here, Bishop Schneider objects that “we can only see the exterior acts,” not the “hearts of the people.” And these acts “were clearly acts of religious cult – bowing, revering, and even prayers towards a wooden statue” which is, “even the Pope said it, it is Pachamama.” And this is, according to Schneider, a “concept of a kind of a goddess” in the “entire culture of the indigenous South American people.”

The evil, Bishop Schneider explains, “wants to reach always its culmination.” The evil is to deny that there is “one truth,” he explains; and  relativism is therefore “like a virus.” “When you don't resist it, it will by time conquer the entire body,” Schneider explains more and then refers back to the Second Vatican Council. This “doctrinal relativism, doctrinal ambiguity” he states, can already be found “partly in some expressions of the Second Vatican Council.”

Here, Bishop Schneider refers to the Council's claim that “we adore, together with the Muslims, the one God.” 

In the Council's Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium (16), the Council Fathers state: “But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator.  In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.”

Bishop Schneider also refers to the attendant idea that “man is the center and the culmination of all that is on earth.”

Furthermore, Bishop Schneider also refers to the Council's teaching on the “freedom of religion,” the “natural right” implanted in human nature by God to choose one's own religion. While it is true, he adds, that one should not be “forced,” this new teaching also means that one “has the liberty to choose a religion.”

Here, Schneider points to the contradictions in the conciliar texts. At one place, in its document Dignitatis Humanae, the Council teaches “every person has the obligation to seek the truth, and this is the Catholic Church,” Schneider says, “but then further down it says that you have freedom of religion rooted in your nature.” This teaching is “not clear,” it is “ambiguous,” as the prelate explains, and the consequences after the Council were “that almost all Catholic seminaries and theological faculties, and the episcopate and even the Holy See” promoted “a right of every person to choose his own religion.” 

In Dignitatis Humanae, the Council Fathers first declare: “First, the council professes its belief that God Himself has made known to mankind the way in which men are to serve Him, and thus be saved in Christ and come to blessedness. We believe that this one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus committed the duty of spreading it abroad among all men.” 

But then they go on to state: “This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits. The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. [….] Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed.” 

However, Bishop Schneider comments in this November 2 interview on this conciliar teaching with these words: “you have no right to choose idolatry, you have no right to offend God,” through “idolatry or through blasphemy.” 

“This is already rooted here [in the Vatican Council],” Bishop Schneider states. “If you have a right by God given to you, by nature, also to be able to choose acts of idolatry – like the Pachamama – when it is rooted in your dignity of man even to choose a Pachamama religion: this is the last consequence of this expression of the Council text,” he explains. The expression of the text was “ambiguous” and needed to be “formulated in a different way” to “avoid these applications in the life of the Church, which we also had in the Assisi meeting of Pope John Paul II in 1986 and the other meetings, where even idolatrous religions were invited to pray in their own manner – that is to say in their idolatrous manner – for peace.”

On October 27, 1986, Pope John Paul II held a World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, Italy, at which he prayed together with Orthodox Christians, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and representatives of many other religions. He addressed the representatives of the different religions with the words: “Religions are many and varied, and they reflect the desire of men and women down through the ages to enter into a relationship with the Absolute Being.” 

Let us return to Bishop Schneider's words. He says that what we have now in Rome, the “formal performance of idolatrous acts in the Catholic Church, in the heart of the Catholic Church of St. Peter, is the triumph of the evil.”

Earlier on in this November 2 interview, Bishop Schneider spoke about the influence of Modernists in the Catholic Church and their effective denial of “immutable truths,” just as the Freemasons deny these truths and insist upon naturalism and anthropocentrism and try to undermine the “uniqueness of Jesus Christ.” The Kazakh bishop states that the Modernists' way of thinking is “similar” to the thoughts of Freemasonry – while insisting that “I would not say that Modernists are Freemasons.” They both have in common their professed “relativism.” “We human beings are the author of truth” is one of the main tenets of Freemasonry, and accordingly, man “can change these [truths] according to his desires.” “It is the core of Modernism,” Schneider continues, “relativism, naturalism, and complete anthropocentrism.” 

He also explains that Freemasonry is intrinsically “anti-supernaturalism,” “anti-Revelation.” The Modernists were “contaminated” by this “way of thinking.”

“Since then,” Bishop Schneider explains, “the Modernist movement in the Church penetrated ever more.” They “reached their peak at the Second Vatican Council, because they used this Church assembly as a tool to promote ever more their relativistic, anthropocentristic, naturalistic theories in the theology, in the liturgy, in the [pastoral] life of the Church.” 

After the Second Vatican Council, according to Bishop Schneider, in addition to the Modernists, there were also some “true members of Freemasonry” who got “high-ranking positions in the Church.” Asked by Mr. Matt about Annibale Bugnini – the architect of the Novus Ordo Mass – Schneider responds: “Yes, and others.” He mentions that some Freemasons might have been among the bishops, cardinals, “and even nuncios.” They “of course, helped the Modernist clergy,” even if these clergymen were not themselves Freemasonic, and they thus “promoted them to high positions of the Church.”

“It is evident that this is a strategy,” Bishop Schneider concludes.

And now, under Pope Francis, we witness how, “without shame, real evident heretics, deniers of the Catholic truth, are being promoted to high-ranking Church offices; but they are even given in some way a reward for their betrayal of Christ.”

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