All articles from November 28, 2019


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‘Good news for pro-lifers’: US abortion rate continues downward trend, CDC report claims

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

ATLANTA, Georgia, November 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The number of abortions in the United States along with the abortion rate has continued its downward trend, the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated in a report released this week. 

Overall, it’s “good news for pro-lifers,” who are seeing their efforts to stop abortion reflected in these numbers, said Dr. Michael New, one of the foremost researchers on abortion statistics in the United States. New is currently a visiting professor of political science and social research at Catholic University of America as well as an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute and a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute.

“Both the number of abortions and the abortion rate fell by approximately two percent since 2015,” New told LifeSiteNews. 

“The decline was widespread as 33 of the 46 states that reported abortion data by state of occurrence saw their abortion numbers fall. The U.S. abortion rate has fallen by 25 percent since 2007. The U.S. abortion rate has fallen by approximately 50 percent since 1980,” he continued.  

“This shows that efforts by pro-lifers to change hearts and minds, enact protective laws, and assist women through pregnancy help centers have all been effective,” he added.

Yesterday, the CDC published an “Abortion Surveillance” detailing the number, rates, and ratio of legal abortions to live births for 2016, based on 48 reporting areas within the United States. These included New York City and all of the American states excluding California, Maryland, and New Hampshire. The District of Columbia was not one of the 48 reporting areas. The numbers include both surgical and chemical abortions. 

According to the CDC, a total of 623,471 abortions in 2016 were reported to them by the 48 areas. This is a drop from the 636,902 reported by the same areas in 2015. It is a dramatic drop from the 825,240 abortions reported in 2007. 

The abortion rate for 2016 was 11.6 per 1,000 women age 15-44. This, the CDC reported, was a decrease from the abortion rate of 11.8 per 1,000 women age 15-44 reported in 2015. Again, this was a dramatic drop from the rate of 15.6 abortions per 1,000 women age 15-44 reported in 2007. 

The abortion to live births ratio for 2016 was 186 abortions per 1,000 live births. This was a slight decrease from the ratio for 2015, which was 188 abortions per 1,000 live births. However, it was again a dramatic decrease from the ratio for 2007, which was 226 abortions per 1,000 live births.

“In 2016, all three measures reached their lowest level for the entire period of analysis (2007-2016),” the CDC stated. 

This continues a downward trend only interrupted once since the historic high of the 1980s. 

“After nationwide legalization of abortion in 1973, the total number, rate … and ratio ... of reported abortions increased rapidly, reaching the highest levels in the 1980s before decreasing at a slow yet steady pace,” the CDC explained. 

“During 2006-2008, a break occurred in the previously sustained pattern of decrease although this break has been followed in subsequent years by even greater decreases.”

Dr. New told LifeSiteNews in a September 2019 interview that abortion advocates are “spinning” the abortion numbers “very aggressively to try to make the case that pro-life policies have had little to do with the recent decline in the U.S. abortion rate.” He said that when one looks at the long-term data, a key factor in the massive decline in the U.S. abortion rate since 1980 is because a “higher percentage of unintended pregnancies are being carried to term.”

“If a higher percentage of unintended pregnancies are being carried to term, that means that pro-life efforts to (A) change hearts and minds, (B) assist pregnant women, and (C) enact protective pro-life laws have all been successful,” he said. 

The “Abortion Surveillance” also collected data on the women who underwent abortion in 2016, including age, race/ethnicity, and marital status, among other categories. 

Age of women who underwent abortion in 2016

In the data complied by the CDC from 46 areas, women age 20-24 accounted for 30 percent of all abortions done in 2016, and women age 25-29 accounted for 28.5 percent. This means that 58.5 percent of abortions were performed on women in their 20s in 2016. Women in their 20s also had the highest abortion rates in 2016 ― 19.1 per 1,000 women age 20-24 and 17.8 per 1,000 age 25-29. The majority of adolescents who had abortions in 2016 (67.8 percent of all adolescents who underwent the procedures) were 18 and 19 years old. 

No reason for the particular susceptibility of 18- and 19-year-olds to abortion was mentioned in the report. However, the good news is that “from 2007 to 2016, abortion rates decreased among all age groups, although the decreases for adolescents (67 percent and 56 percent for adolescents age <15 and 15-19 years, respectively) were greater than the decreases for women in all older age groups.” In short, there has been a dramatic decrease in teenagers having abortions since 2007. 

Girls under 15 accounted for the smallest percentage of abortions in 2016 (0.3 percent, which was 653) and women over 40 were involved in the next smallest percentage in 2016 (3.5 percent, which was 8,107). They also had the lowest abortion rates (“0.4 and 2.5 abortions per 1,000 women age <15 and ≥40 years, respectively”). 

Race/ethnicity

Abortion continues to affect disproportionately the African-American community. According to the 32 areas that reported for race/ethnicity, in 2016 non-Hispanic black women accounted for 38 percent of all abortions, non-Hispanic white women accounted for 35 percent, Hispanic women accounted for 18.8 percent, and women of other race/ethnic groups accounted for 8.2 percent. 

Non-Hispanic black women had the highest abortion rate of 26.2 abortions per 1,000 women and the highest abortion ratio of 401 abortions per 1,000 live births in 2016. Non-Hispanic white women had the lowest abortion rate of 6.3 abortions per 1,000 women and the lowest abortion ratio of 109 abortions per 1,000 live births in 2016. Hispanic women had a rate of 11.8 abortions per 1,000 women in 2016.

However, there were substantial decreases in the abortion rate for the three largest groups of women since 2007 -- a 29 percent decrease for non-Hispanic black women (from 36.7 to 26.2), a 33 percent decrease for non-Hispanic white women (from 9.4 to 6.3), and a most encouraging 44 percent decrease for Hispanic women (from 21.2 to 11.8). 

Marital status

Among the 42 areas that reported marital status, the vast majority of women who underwent abortion in 2016 (85.9 percent) were unmarried. According to the CDC, the abortion ratio was 41 abortions per 1,000 live births for married women and 380 abortions for 1,000 live births for unmarried women. The percentage of married women having abortions seems to have gone down since 2008. However, the ratio of unmarried women having abortions compared with unmarried women giving birth to babies allowed to live has gone down too. 

“Among the 29 reporting areas that provided these data for the relevant years of comparison (2007 versus 2016, 2007 versus 2011, 2012 versus 2016, and 2015 versus 2016), the percentage of abortions among unmarried women increased three percent from 2007 to 2016 (from 83.5 percent to 86.0 percent), with a larger increase from 2007 to 2011 (three percent) than from 2012 to 2016 (<1 percent),” the CDC explained.  

“Among unmarried women, the abortion ratio decreased 16 percent from 2007 to 2016 (from 390 to 326 abortions per 1,000 live births), with a larger decrease also occurring from 2012 to 2016 (10 percent) than from 2007 to 2011 (three percent). Among married women, the abortion ratio decreased 31 percent from 2007 to 2016 (from 49 to 34 abortions per 1,000 live births), with similar decreases occurring from 2012 to 2016 (13 percent) and from 2007 to 2011 (14 percent).

One interesting piece of data about married women who have abortions is that the percentage was highest among non-Hispanic women in the “Other” group (31.9 percent) than for non-Hispanic white women (16.8 percent), Hispanic women (15.3 percent), and non-Hispanic black women (7.9 percent).

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Knights of Columbus accused of ‘shaming women’ for erecting memorial to aborted babies

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By Lianne Laurence

BELLEVILLE, Ontario, November 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A Knights of Columbus memorial recently erected in a Canadian Catholic cemetery for the victims of abortion has sparked social media backlash and accusations that a “patriarchal group” was “shaming women” in a story that gained national attention in Canada.

The Knights of Columbus Council 1008 in Belleville, Ontario -- a town of about 50,700 on southern Ontario’s Bay of Quinte -- posted photos on Facebook in early November of some of their members standing by the black gravestone in St. James Catholic Cemetery.

The three uncaptioned photos went viral and “gained almost 1,800 comments and more than 3,410 reactions. Sixty-six percent of people reacted to the images with a “Haha” or “Love” while about 20 percent responded with an “Angry” reaction,” reported the National Post.

“Can you believe this?” wrote Linda MacKenzie-Nicholas on Facebook.

“Knights of Columbus Belleville - Council #1008 (all men) organized this absolutely shameful act (dedicated this monument on November 2-2019) and also posted it on their facebook page.”

The inscriptions on the memorial read: “Life is Sacred” and “In memory of all victims of abortion.” 

There is also the verse from Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I consecrated you,” and an illustration of a child in the womb surrounded by the words: “Unborn lives matter.”

The social media stir led to a Global News story on November 11, followed by a November 16 protest in downtown Belleville by a group called the Warrior Women of Quinte.

“The monument that was put up was attacking a woman’s right to choose,” Elissa Robertson, coordinator of the Warrior Women, told the crowd of 30 that reportedly grew to 50, reported inquinte.ca.

Moreover, the memorial for the victims of abortion “ties into patriarchal values and this idea that women’s bodies are meant to be controlled by men. It’s a broader issue that ties into violence against women, it ties into health care, it ties into safety,” Roberston contended.

Others, such as Sean McNeil of Canada Employment and Immigration Union, said the memorial implied women who had had abortions were criminals, according to QuinteNews.com

But Belleville Council 1008 Grand Knight David Cameron defended the gravestone.

“This is our belief and we don’t feel we’ve done anything wrong … it speaks for itself,”  he told the National Post, adding that the Knights were not debating the issue.

The Knights of Columbus, a worldwide Catholic fraternity, have put up 137 such gravestones across North America, added Cameron. 

LifeSiteNews reached out to Cameron for comment but did not hear back by deadline.

Richard Beare, the secretary treasurer of St. James Cemetery, told Global News that the Knights applied to erect the gravestone, and the board in charge of the cemetery agreed.

The cemetery is run by thee Belleville parishes, St. Michael the Archangel, St. Joseph, and Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, reported Global News.

The Catholic fraternity deserves praise for witnessing to the sanctity of human life, says Gerry Brosso, a Knight of Columbus member in neighboring Gananoque and spokesman for Campaign Life Coalition, a national pro-life, pro-family lobbying group.

“They are fulfilling the mandate of the Knights of Columbus, being the right arm of the Catholic Church,” said Brosso.

“And it is important and it is incumbent upon all councils to stand up for their faith … rather than just meet, eat and retreat,” he added. “The fact that the Bellville people did this is laudable.”

It’s unfortunate the media focussed on the critics, observed Brosso.

“The minority are getting the most ink. This is a story about a monument for the unborn,” he told LifeSiteNews.

“Some people call it a political statement. No, it’s not,” Brosso said. 

“There's nothing political about this particular monument … We honor those of our family who have deceased with markers in the cemetery. And we are honoring the lives of unborn children whose lives were terminated mercilessly.”

Heather Tapp, executive director of the Belleville Pregnancy and Family Care Centre, told the Belleville Intelligencer that the memorial could be a place of solace for post-abortive women.

“At the Belleville Pregnancy and Family Care Centre, we have worked with women who have had an abortion and self identify as experiencing grief following their abortion,” stated Tapp.

“For these women, this monument may be a source of comfort or a place where they could go to express their grief and loss,” she said.

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World AIDS Day charity concert taking place in St. Stephen’s Catholic Cathedral, Vienna, Nov. 30, 2018.
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Vienna Cardinal Schönborn to host ‘blasphemous’ pro-LGBT benefit concert in Cathedral again

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

VIENNA, Austria, November 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn is yet again allowing a pro-LGBT benefit concert to take place in Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Catholic Cathedral. 

This is the third time Vienna’s Archbishop has allowed the “LIFE+” association to use the cathedral as a venue for the World AIDS Day charity concert that will take place on Saturday, Nov. 30.

The event last year, which the Cardinal attended, featured a shirtless actor known for playing homosexual roles standing on the altar rail, loud rock and electronic music, and actors dressed as demons. 

This year, Austria’s infamous drag queen “Conchita Wurst,” who won worldwide fame when he represented his nation at the 2014 Eurovision contest, is one of a number of performers scheduled to appear at the “Believe Together” fundraiser in Vienna’s 14th-century mother church. The cathedral show, titled “The Yearning for the Angels…,” will be the main event among 15 being held across Vienna on November 30 to raise money for AIDS relief projects. 

The organizer of the event, homosexual activist Gery Keszler, thanked the cardinal when he announced the show. 

“We are very grateful for the trust placed in us by Cardinal Schönborn,” he said.  

Keszler is particularly eager for this year’s concert to be a success, for his annual fundraising  “Life Ball” has been discontinued, resulting in the loss of up to 500,000 Euros to Viennese AIDs and HIV charities, he said. 

The show is being co-sponsored by the Knights of Malta of Austria. 

A source in Vienna told LifeSiteNews that “Cardinal Christoph Schönborn intends to desecrate St. Stephen's Cathedral with homosexualist abominations again.”

“A certain Mr. Gery Keszler is organizer of the blasphemous ‘life-ball’, a homosexualist fund-raising event - and orgy. Presently, he has run out of money. He is a close friend of Cardinal Schönborn,” the source said. 

Alexander Tschugguel, who removed Pachamama pagan idols from a church in Rome during the Amazon Synod, told LifeSiteNews that Austrian Catholics “really don’t like the cathedral being used to promote the LGBT cause.” 

Tschugguel, who lives in Austria, underscored that the LIFE+ events ultimately give Austria’s most prominent LGBT activists a pulpit in the Catholic cathedral. 

“Keszler is one of the main LGBT activists in Austria,” Tschugguel said. “He is one of the big faces because of his Life Ball.” 

The Life Ball, which Keszler founded in 1992, was believed to be Europe’s largest annual fundraiser for AIDS/HIV research and charities. The star-studded event ended its 27-year run with a final party in Vienna’s town hall this June.  

The Life Ball was canceled, Tschugguel said, because Keszler lost the support of corporate sponsors through both his unbridled hedonism and allegations he misused charitable donations to fund his lavish lifestyle. 

“[Keszler] is known to be very gross,” Tshugguel stated. “And many times he has used the Cathedral to promote LGBT.”

Tshugguel said he is less concerned about “Conchita Wurst’s” performances than he is about Cardinal Schönborn allowing the “gay icon” and other major LGBT activists to speak their minds “in our beautiful cathedral.” 

“Conchita Wurst,” whose real name is Thomas Neuwirth, gave a speech in the “Stephansdom” in 2017 when Cardinal Schönborn permitted at LGBT-themed prayer service. Keszler was the co-organizer of this event, too. 

Keszler embroiled Schönborn in another controversy when he claimed in 2018 that the cardinal had blessed him and his homosexual partner at a private dinner party. After the blessing, said Keszler, “his confidant had brought a bottle of champagne, and he loosened the cork, and after this blessing, this cork bursts into the air, comes thundering down, and breaks his plate – my most expensive Meissen plate!”

“This was no little bit of a forced outing for the cardinal,” Keszler said, “but since he has done it, he probably will also be fine with me saying it.”

Last year Cardinal Schönborn received criticism for allowing and attending the event at the cathedral. Austrian Father Johannes Maria Schwarz published an article afterwards on the website Kath.net critiquing the use of the iconic cathedral for the secular event. While the money went to a good cause – an HIV hospice in South Africa – Father Schwarz remarked that this house of God, “the heart of Catholic Vienna,” has been turned into a “multipurpose hall.” The event might well show “the death of a feeble Church,” he added.

Part of last year’s event was the performance in the cathedral of adaption of a 1911 Austrian play called “Jedermann.”  The revamped “Jederman” starred Philipp Hochmair – a celebrated Austrian actor known for his homosexual roles in different pro-LGBT movies  –  and featured his rock band God's Electrohand (Elektrohand Gottes).

In pictures, he is shirtless, standing on the altar rail. The concert was loud, with flickering lights, and many actors were dressed as demons. The Jedermann (Everyman) play depicts a wealthy man who realizes in his last hours of life that neither his friends nor his money will follow him into the grave. He then converts to Christianity. The organizers stated afterwards that they had received 68,000 euros in donations.

Contact information for respectful communications: 

Cardinal Schönborn's secretary Dr. Hubert Philipp Weber
Email: [email protected]

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Tinslee Lewis in Cook Children’s Medical Center, in Fort Worth, Texas.
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Texas Attorney General joins fight to stop hospital taking baby off life support

Anthony Murdoch
By Anthony Murdoch
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Tinslee’s mother, Trinity Lewis. cbsnews.com / video screen grab
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

TEXAS, November 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has come out in support of a family trying to save their nine-month old girl from being pulled from life support by medical staff at Cook Children’s Medical Center, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Paxton announced a friend-of-the-court brief in aid of Tinslee Lewis, the infant, last week, in direct opposition to the Texas Advance Directives Act, a law that in effect gives families only 10 days to find a new hospital if the hospital that is treating their child decides to stop the treatment. 

“One of the core principles provided by the U.S. Constitution is that no person should be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law,” said Paxton in a statement he gave on November 22.  

“This unconstitutional statute infringes on patients’ right to life and does not allow patients and their families sufficient notice and the opportunity to be heard before physicians override the rights of their patients,” he added.

The controversial Texas Advance Directives Act, signed into law in 1999 by then-Governor of Texas George W. Bush, was designed to allow patients the ability to state their medical wishes into the future. The controversial part of the Act is Section 166.046, in which it states that, (even against the wishes of any existing patients directive), if a doctor gives notification of their refusal to further treat a patient, gets approval from a committee, and no other doctor agrees to take in or help the patient; the hospital is only obligated to provide up to ten days of care before any life-sustaining treatment (which includes dialysis), is removed from patients suffering from a terminal illness. 

The law does allow for parents and family members to attend the committee hearing, and they must be provided advance notice of at least 48 hours before the committee (sans the attending physician) meets.

Baby Tinslee has not left Cook Children’s Medical Center since her birth. She was born prematurely and has undergone intensive surgeries that were needed to treat a serious heart defect and severe chronic pulmonary hypertension, along with lung disease. 

The Texas Advance Directives Act has caused baby Tinslee and her family distress. It has been an uphill yet courageous fight for baby Tinslee’s family since October 31, when doctors at Cook Children’s said they would remove her from life-support on November 10. Hospital physicians claim her condition is too severe to reverse, and that they have done all they can for her. 

After receiving the news of the committee’s findings, Tinslee’s mother, with the help of Texas Right to Life, was able to obtain a temporary restraining order against the hospital until November 22. 

“I thought they was going to pull the plug on my baby. I didn’t think that she was going to still be here today. And that’s what I’m grateful for,” said Tinslee’s mother, Trinity Lewis at a press conference on November 9, according to CNN. “It was a big relief because I’ve been running around all week trying to get help until Sunday, and then I finally got what I’ve been praying for.”

On November 19, 323rd District Judge Alex Kim renewed the temporary restraining order, as reported by Texas Right to Life, which prevents the hospital from taking baby Tinslee off her feeding tube and ventilator. It also gives the Tinslee family until December 10 to find a hospital willing to take the baby in.

On November 15, Cook Children’s filed a motion that requested that Judge Kim be ordered to recuse himself from involvement in the case. 

The hospital claimed that he is “personally biased in the case based on his affiliation with groups that have campaigned against the law under which the hospital tried to end Tinslee’s treatment," as reported in the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram

The contentious Texas Advance Directives Act, according to The Houston Law Review journal, was passed as a compromise to appease both the pro-life camp and those in the medical community. 

"The consensus at the time of passage did not last long because pro-life and disability rights groups grew concerned with how doctors and hospitals implemented the statute's procedures. It became clear that the statute provided doctors with absolute immunity yet provided only 'very weak procedural protections for patients'," as stated in the journal. 

In the past, the Texas Advance Directives Act has caused confusion and ambiguity for other patients caught up in the controversial parts of the law. There are many examples as cited in a 2016 Houston Press article. 

The case of David Chris Dunn is one such example. His mother, Evelyn Kelly, fought hard in opposition from having his life support removed after a doctor-led panel decided that there was nothing more they could do for him. For David, he died naturally on life support, before any machines were removed. This was due to help from Texas Right To Life as well as to the determination of his mother to keep her child alive. 

The fight for baby Tinslee continues. A court hearing is scheduled December 4-5 to decide whether to give a temporary injunction granting baby Tinslee more time beyond the impending December 10 deadline. 

"She deserves the chance to fight for her life, and she's got a troop that will help her 100 per cent and above," Tinslee's great aunt, Beverly Winston, was quoted as saying in a November 23 ABC news article.  

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Dr. Savita Ginde in 2019 TEDx talk. TEDx Talks / Youtube screen grab
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David Daleiden sues abortionist for calling videos of baby body parts trade ‘fake’

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

November 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-life investigator David Daleiden and the Centre for Medical Progress (CMP) are suing a former Planned Parenthood abortionist for claiming that undercover footage that shows her negotiating the harvesting and selling of body parts from aborted babies is “fake.”

Dr. Savita Ginde, the former Chief Medical Officer at Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountain, accused Daleiden and his organization of fabricating evidence in a book she wrote as well as in a TEDx talk.

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released undercover videos in 2015 that showed top Planned Parenthood leaders negotiating the harvesting and sale of aborted fetal body parts. Part of the video series released in July 2015 include undercover footage of CMP’s meeting with Dr. Ginde, then the Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, where CMP undercover investigators posed as representatives of a biotech company seeking to purchase and re-sell human fetal organs and tissues, modeling themselves after real-life fetal tissue wholesaler companies. 

The footage shows Dr. Ginde responding to Daleiden’s comparison of a flat fee per fetus versus per-organ pricing for aborted fetal remains, stating, “I think a per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it.”

Dr. Ginde is also seen describing how frequently a fetus may be delivered intact for organ harvesting, saying: “if someone delivers before we are able to see them for a procedure, then we are intact,” and that, “intact is probably less than 10 percent.”

Dr. Ginde, who has since left Planned Parenthood, has published a memoir and made a TEDx presentation, in which she claims that the undercover footage is “dubbed”, “spliced and diced”, and even “fabricated” and “fake”. But earlier this month in federal court, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Planned Parenthood Federation of America stipulated that “the words used by [Planned Parenthood’s] personnel and the [CMP investigators] in the video recorded by the [investigators] were spoken by those persons.”

In her book, The Real Cost of Fake News: The Hidden Truth Behind the Planned Parenthood Video Scandal, Dr. Ginde claims the undercover footage is “manipulated” in order to “make it look like I did something that I have actually never done and said things I actually never said” and claims that “[t]he words and actions are completely false.” Yet Dr. Ginde also writes that she never fully watched the undercover footage and “had no intention of ever doing so.”

Daleiden said that the abortionist must be held accountable for her “false statements” about his undercover investigation. 

“I welcome Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, current and former, speaking honestly and publicly about their work, especially as it regards fetal experimentation and organ harvesting. This is the reason CMP’s undercover footage continues to have such a profound impact on the public conscience. But anyone who tries to attack our undercover reporting by making false statements about our work should expect to make a public correction or be held accountable in a court of law,” he said.  

First Amendment lawyer Harmeet Dhillon of the Dhillon Law Group, who filed the complaint on behalf of Daleiden and CMP, commented that Dr. Ginde’s “demonstrably false statements” must be corrected. 

“The First Amendment protects the rights of every American, including Dr. Ginde, to disagree with my clients and express their own views publicly–but when someone makes demonstrably false statements and refuses to correct them, as Dr. Ginde repeatedly did in multiple forums, our clients have the right to set the record straight in court, and we look forward to our day in court against Dr. Ginde.”

Earlier this month Daleiden and the CMP undercover investigators were found guilty of multiple crimes by a San Francisco civil court and ordered to pay millions in damages for the work they did exposing Planned Parenthood’s organ harvesting of aborted babies. The case was heard by San Francisco’s U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick III, who has ties to Planned Parenthood, but refused to disqualify himself when defense requested him to do so. Daleiden and the CMP are appealing the case.

The case is 2019CV031764 David Daleiden and The Center for Medical Progress, Inc. v. Dr. Savita Ginde, in Jefferson County, CO. The complaint can be read here.

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Bishop Michael Bransfield
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US bishop accused of sexually harassing seminarians banned from burial in any diocesan cemetery

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By Martin Barillas

WHEELING-CHARLESTON, West Virginia, November 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) -- Disgraced Catholic Bishop Michael Bransfield, who stands credibly accused of sexual harassment and financial improprieties, has been told by his successor that he will not be buried in any Diocesan cemetery upon his death and that he must pay back almost $800,000 of money he spent on a “luxurious lifestyle.” He must also apologize to the people he sexually harassed and for the “severe emotional and spiritual harm his actions caused.”

On Tuesday, Bishop Mark Brennan -- appointed last year to replace Bransfield (76) as ordinary of the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese of West Virginia -- outlined the plan of apologies and payments that his predecessor must follow. In a press conference, Bishop Brennan said that despite being “ordered” by Pope Francis to make amends, Bransfield has yet to suggest any plans for doing so. He resigned at the age of 75 in September 2018 amid allegations he sexually harassed adults.

It was because of Bransfield’s inaction, said Bishop Brennan, that the diocese is providing a list of actions that Bransfield must take. Brennan told the media, “I’m hoping he will see the value to himself as a Christian man.” He went on to say of Bransfield, “He’s not the devil incarnate. He’s a brother who’s gone astray in some ways. This is a way to show he understands that.”

Following an investigation, Church officials found credible evidence to support multiple allegations of sexual harassment of adults, as well as misappropriation of Church funds. Bransfield was bishop of the Wheeling-Catholic diocese from 2005 to 2018. Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, while conducting an investigation, found that while Bransfield did not abuse minors, there was credible evidence of abuse of adult seminarians and priests, as well as millions of dollars in questionable spending. 

In a Nov. 26 letter to Catholics of the Wheeling-Charleston diocese, Bishop Brennan proposed how Bransfield can address the wrongs he committed. The letter called on Bransfield to apologize to adults who he is alleged to have sexually abused, and apologize to Catholic priests and laity in West Virginia, as well as diocesan employees who “were subjected to a culture of intimidation and fear of retribution.”

Pope Francis had already determined that Bransfield may not preside or participate publicly in Masses and other liturgical celebrations as priest or bishop. In addition, he may not again reside in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Quoting the Pope, who told Bransfield to “make personal amends for some of the harm he caused" in consultation with the new bishop, Brennan said that Bransfield as "consistently declined to do so." Bransfield has been denied the right of burial within the diocese he served. 

Following discussions with the people of West Virginia since his installation last year, Bishop Brennan said that there is a “deep and abiding sense of betrayal resulting from the former bishop's actions.” Brennan said that he is confident that the suggested course of action reflects the Pope's intentions but will also serve as a "meaningful restitution among the people of the Diocese.” He went on to say, “At the same time, I believe that it is also important that these requirements reflect the Church that we are and the values of our Christian faith which include mercy, in addition to justice.” 

Financial penalties for Bransfield suggested in Bishop Brennan’s letter include: a reduction of his monthly pension to $736; reduction of health care benefits; surrendering a car he was provided at retirement; and reimbursing the diocese in the amount of $792,638. "This amount reflects personal travel, vacations, clothing, alcohol and luxury goods. As such, this amount was an excess benefit to the former bishop subject to taxation,” said Bishop Brennan in his letter. 

"To ensure adherence to Federal tax laws, the Diocese has self-reported for Federal tax purposes,” the letter said, while adding that Bransfield must reimburse the diocese and also pay for any penalties incurred by the diocese for not reporting these amounts. It said that he must pay an excise tax of $110,000.00 to the IRS. “The consequences for non-compliance are severe,” it said, and making restitution is “entirely the responsibility of Bishop Bransfield and not the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.” The diocese also found that Bransfield had spent an additional amount of $351,146.00 on his "luxurious lifestyle." 

However, the above amount may not reflect the entire amount that Bransfield is alleged to have misdirected. In his letter, Bishop Brennan wrote: “I wish to make clear that it is not my intention to impoverish the former bishop.” 

“While not a dollar-for-dollar restitution for the former bishop’s excessive expenditure of Diocesan funds, I believe that this amount reflects the spirit of Pope Francis’ requirement that Bishop Bransfield make ‘amends for some of the harm that he caused,'” he added.

LifeSiteNews contacted Greg McRay of the Foundation Group, a company that advises nonprofits, to inquire about possible legal repercussions for Bransfield. While admitting that he was not familiar with the case, McRay suggested that the amount of money allegedly misappropriated by Bransfield may indicate that West Virginia state government investigators may have cause to examine possible embezzlement. McRay is an enrolled agent who is credentialed by the IRS to represent taxpayers before the agency.

As to whether Church officials, other than Bransfield, could face IRS scrutiny, McRay said that while rare, the Federal government can exact “intermediate sanctions penalties” and fine nonprofit board members when the infractions “were something they knew about, or should know about.” He added that anyone who was accountable and governing nonprofit funds could be found liable for penalties by the IRS. However, he said that it is more likely that diocesan officials will face questions from state prosecutors.  

According to the Washington Post, citing a leaked report of the investigation carried out by Archbishop Lori, the Wheeling-Charleston diocese owns oil properties in Texas that earn approximately $15 million annually. The diocese had at the time of the report an endowment of $230 million. Once Bransfield took over the diocese, he began a spending spree that included, according to the newspaper account, $2.4 million on mostly personal travel expenses, which included chartered jets and luxury hotels. He also spent $4.6 million on one official residence, and also spent diocesan funds on his personal residence. During the course of his episcopate, he also spent about $100 a day, a total of almost $182,000, on flowers. He also allegedly spent thousands on “personal expenses,” including liquor, clothing, and luxuries. 

Bransfield was also accused of homosexual bullying. Seminarians and priests complained of sexual harassment by Bransfield, while earlier concerns were raised by his behavior and expenditures while serving in Philadelphia at a Catholic high school, and in Washington D.C., where he headed the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception from 1990 to 2005. When seminarians and young priests complained to church authorities, their concerns were ignored. They were instructed to “make your boundaries clear,” according to the report, or “told that they had no choice but to join Bransfield in such activities as sleepovers at his residence and on trips,” according to the Washington Post.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed a lawsuit against the diocese, claiming it should have informed people about credible sexual allegations against clergy. According to Metro News of West Virginia, Morrisey wants the diocese to release details of its internal investigation, while also improving its controls to protect children and assistance to victims of sexual abuse who need medical, social or mental health services. However, the lawsuit does not deal with any financial misdeeds Bransfield may have committed.

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Fr. Scott Nolan, St. Stephen's Catholic Church, November 27, 2019 Stephen Kokx / LifeSiteNews
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Hundreds of Catholics rally behind priest who told lesbian ‘married’ judge not to receive Communion

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By Stephen Kokx
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PETITION: Stand with priest who told lesbian 'married' judge to not present herself for Communion. Click here.

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan, November 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Hundreds of Catholics from across the Diocese of Grand Rapids attended the 6:30 pm Mass yesterday at St. Stephen’s to show support for Fr. Scott Nolan who received pushback after telling a lesbian "married" judge she should not present herself to receive Holy Communion.

Nolan, 33, had come under intense media scrutiny after a disgruntled parishioner, Sara Smolenski, chief judge of the Kent County District Court in Western Michigan, told a local NBC affiliate that he refused to give her Holy Communion because she is “married” to a woman.

The heavily biased news report, which Rod Dreher of The American Conservative called “journalistic malpractice,” also featured a woman who said she wanted Fr. Nolan to leave St. Stephen’s.

Fr. Nolan had told Smolenski during a private conversation on the phone not to present herself for Communion. This happened after she and other parishioners wore gay pride pins to church recently.

Several people at the Mass last night spoke with LifeSite but on condition that their identity remain anonymous. 

“I think Father was in a difficult and delicate situation but he stood firm for what we believe as Catholics,” said one woman in her early 50s. “He showed great humility and great awareness of the situation.”

“This is a total coup. It’s shameful what’s going on,” exclaimed a married man who runs a political podcast online.

“I really liked how the Bishop responded to the situation,” remarked a young man who graduated from nearby Aquinas College. “His statement wasn’t just one-sided and slamming the other. Clearly, Judge Smolenski felt hurt. I think His Excellency showed a good balance of respect and compassion for her and for the truths of our faith. He didn’t give a blanket condemnation. He wanted to reach out.”

Bishop Walkowiak issued a statement yesterday in support of Fr. Nolan’s decision, noting how inclusion and acceptance are hallmarks of the Catholic Church but that “no community of faith can sustain the public contradiction of its beliefs by its own members.”

A deacon from Immaculate Heart of Mary Church assisted Fr. Nolan at Mass, as did two other young priests in the area. The deacon told LifeSite that he supports Nolan’s “defense of our faith’s teachings.”

In an interview with local reporter Barton Deiters yesterday, Nolan explained that he never wants discussions about who receives or doesn’t receive Communion to be public but that he stands by his actions. 

The Gospel reading at the Mass was, fittingly enough, Christ telling the apostles they would be handed over to the synagogues and persecuted before kings and governors. Mass-goers chuckled when Fr. began his brief, four-minute-long sermon quasi-joking about how best to preach about the readings. His remarks focused on Mary and how she “kept saying yes” to God. “God calls us not to be successful but to be faithful,” he said. “Whatever else happens” Catholics must do the will of God. 

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Indoctrinated Millennials foolishly want to get rid of Thanksgiving

Janice Shaw Crouse
By Jance Crouse

November 28, 2019 (American Thinker) – Just days before our national Thanksgiving holiday, a report explained that Millennial students in their wisdom say, "It's not okay to celebrate Thanksgiving."

What would we do without these young people correcting the rest of us, the fossil generations?!

According to The College Fix, college students think Thanksgiving represents "oppression" because it is "based off of the genocide of indigenous people."  They see Thanksgiving in terms of the "themes of oppression and colonization."  More to the point, with the focus on eating a "bunch of food," Thanksgiving is "just a bunch of capitalist b-------."  

Some of the students "believe most American holidays are rooted in oppression."  Others see Americans celebrating "unethical holidays."  A few proclaim that "no holidays with religious connotations should be observed."

No wonder today's students have such warped views of life; most have no grounding in history.  They do not know, for instance, that half of the Pilgrims who braved the storms of the North Atlantic for two months in early winter died before the feeling the warmth of summer.  A few died at sea before they were able to leave the Mayflower.  

They have little to no appreciation of the fact that throughout most of history, life for all but a few has been the struggle for bare survival.  Thus, they cannot understand the fact that some Pilgrims were willing to endure being indentured servants for the desperate hope of an opportunity for a better life after they worked off the cost of their passage.  The thankfulness of the Pilgrims was rooted in these harsh realities, something today's students should be thankful to have never experienced.

It's not enough that Thanksgiving is already being swallowed up by Halloween and Christmas.  Before the Halloween candy is all gone and the jack-o-lantern candles are blown out, Christmas paraphernalia is displayed in stores, and Christmas lights go on around neighborhoods.  Now we have a whole generation who cannot be bothered to express thanks for what they already have before making out a list of expensive items they want at the Black Friday sales that, this year, begin Thanksgiving afternoon.

I grew up among people for whom getting a college education was a rare privilege.  When my father returned from serving in the Marine Corps during WWII, the G.I. Bill enable him to go to college, the first in his family to do so.  I felt incredibly blessed that my parents considered it important enough to sacrifice to send me to college.  That was a gift, and it was not to be wasted; I was expected to do my best and to take advantage of every opportunity to learn, enrich my mind, refine my taste, and work part-time.

How arrogant are today's students to think that they are above thanking God for the blessings that they enjoy in such abundance without having really earned any of it through their own efforts?  How dare they disparage those early settlers who cut their way through forests and blazed trails across mountains, facing deprivation, dangers, and hunger such as today's young people have never experienced?  

Generally, Americans from the past who established and celebrated Thanksgiving were the "salt of the earth," the "backbone of our community," and the "elders of the church."  How dare these privileged college students look down their noses at those who made it possible for them to go to college with a car, smartphone, computer, and spending money as well?

How privileged they are!  How ungrateful they are!

Those Millennials interviewed and quoted in the report by The College Fix and the thousands who share their skewed beliefs need to be reminded that their ideas are not the last word.  They need to read Proverbs 4:7, which reminds that "Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom and with all thy getting, get understanding" (King James Version of the Bible).

I would also suggest that those Millennials need to go back to some basic "understanding" of Thanksgiving.  The history of Thanksgiving in the U.S. is inextricably linked to religion.  The earliest celebrations started in the church with the Puritans in the 1600s.  

George Washington, as president on November 26, 1789, set aside Thanksgiving as "a day for public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours [sic] of Almighty God."  Then in 1941, Thanksgiving, to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, became an official federal holiday.  

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy reiterated the importance of the forefathers establishing Thanksgiving as a time set apart to express thanks for numerous blessings; he ended with the forefathers' stressing the need to be thankful for "the faith which united them with their God."

It has become fashionable to declare that America is not a Christian nation.  In fact, even in 2019, as the percentage has decreased, the Pew Forum reports that fully 70.6% of American adults still identify as Christian.  

Some people like to claim that the U.S. was not founded as a Christian nation.  The Puritans most certainly "envisioned a government that would promote and encourage Christianity."  Even our education system was grounded on that same bedrock foundation, with "all but two of the first 108 universities founded in America" being Christian and established to educate the clergy and build the church.  

Those early privileged students who were able to get a much valued college education were taught that their purpose was "to know God and Jesus Christ" and to live their lives following "the moral principles of the Ten Commandments."

The nation's universities have wandered into a barren wilderness, far from that purpose and those goals.  Many of today's students are poorer for it; many earn credentials but are not on a path to a life with meaning and purpose.  Many lack an understanding of history; certainly, in all their so-called "learning," they have not gained wisdom or understanding.

Thanksgiving in America is a holiday that is both religious and secular.  In recent years, we have let the secular overshadow — even obliterate — the religious significance of the day.  Only a few celebrations involve time for sincere prayers of gratitude for all the blessings that we enjoy in this great country.  

Sadly, one of the biggest points of division in the country is whether America truly is a great nation.  We should not be surprised in such a climate to find our young people are cynical and see the American past through a distorted lens that sees only oppression and colonialization.

Our Thanksgiving, though, provides an opportunity for family and friend groups to come together to share laughter and fellowship.  The traditions associated with the holiday — nationally televised parades in major cities in the morning, everyone gathered around the dinner table for a feast of turkey and all the trimmings around noon, and then, in the afternoon and evening, folks gathered around the television watching football games or movies — are commonly shared experiences across the culture, no matter what state, which religion, or what generation. 

But we must not let the primary reason for Thanksgiving get lost in the overeating and the family/friend fun and togetherness.  In its origins, Thanksgiving was, first and foremost, a day set aside to thank God for allowing us another year of life.  

It is a day for us to humbly acknowledge that God is the source of our blessings and of comfort in our sorrows.  He is the Guide and Companion who walks with us through our difficulties as well as the one whose wisdom ultimately lights and directs us on right paths.

This article was originally published on American Thinker and is published on LifeSite with permission of the author

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What George Washington was thankful for might shock you
 

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Swiss Bishop explains why he dares to raise concerns about Pope Francis

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By John-Henry Westen

November 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Marian Eleganti, the auxiliary bishop of Chur, Switzerland, has not shied away from defending Church teaching the past several years. In this episode of The John-Henry Westen Show, His Excellency continues his outspoken approach and explains why he raises concerns about Pope Francis.

Before the Synod began, Bishop Eleganti expressed strong support for Cardinal Brandmüller’s critique of the synod’s working document. He said many bishops don’t speak up because they are diplomatic and political. 

However, he said he always speaks his conscience even though “it never happens without pain and prayer.” 

“I don’t like to criticize the pope," he admits. But “I am not at peace in conscience when I don’t pronounce myself…I feel an obligation in my heart.”

Bishop Eleganti expressed worry that the College of Cardinals don’t really know each other very well because they are from such disparate parts of the world. He said it's “not good” that they don’t come together and dialogue with the Pope in order to help him and give their advice.

In today’s episode, His Excellency stated that the Church can’t “abolish such a long tradition as celibacy” because Christ himself lived in a celibate way. Bishop Eleganti said that married clergy will undermine celibacy and that "in the long term we will not gain anything but we will lose a lot.”

Furthermore, Bishop Eleganti told me the Pachamama ceremony was “idolatry” and a “syncretistic veneration.”

“For me, it’s a no-go.” “Pachamama is a deity…it’ not the Holy Spirit…we need Jesus Christ.”

He also said that we already have a Mother, the Blessed Virgin, and that our “common house” is the Catholic Church, not the earth itself.

Synod proposals of having women play more prominent roles are “little steps” aimed at the promotion of women priests, he said. But, the Holy Spirit has already spoken on this topic, and the Church cannot change its teachings.

Bishop Eleganti closed our discussion by saying he is “very trustful” in “the supernatural nature of the Church” because Christ is “always” alive in the Church. He said he is impressed by lay Catholics who can see things and say things that even Bishops and Cardinals don’t. He advised that Catholics always speak their mind with love and charity and not in an angry way with “hard words.”

“The love has to come through,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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What George Washington was thankful for might shock you

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By Steve Jalsevac

November 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The following are just a few excerpts from an excellent Fox News article by Lathan Watts. I encourage LifeSite readers to read the entire original article. It reveals that there was much more to George Washington and his thoughts on the necessary role of religion in government and society than most of today's education institutes and media would want you to know. 

"The man known as the father of the" United States and who as president first established the special celebration of a day of Thanksgiving in the United States, proclaimed:"

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor…. For the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed…”

.....

"For Washington, religious liberty didn’t mean government neutrality toward religion. To him and his fellow founders, religion, virtue, and liberty were inexorably linked."

There are many disputes about exactly what religion Washington followed, on whether he was a Deist, Mason or genuine Christian. I won't even try to get into that. Many of those arguments tend to be self-serving to especially undermine the fact that he might have been any kind of genuine Christian or that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.

All I know is that these words of his, and simlar ones from many of his contemporaries, are inspiring to myself and many others. And they make a lot of sense. The standard today is for all political leaders, media personalities and even, unbelievably, many religious leaders, to cowardly avoid emphasizing the essential importance of Christian religion in the public square, including government.

Washington and many of his comtemporaries and many later US leaders were instead very outspoken about the necessity of religion in order to maintain any healthy, free society. The shameful, politically correct, extreme cowardice that we generally see today among leaders, with some notable exceptions, is only a relatively recent aberration, probably thanks to the advance of Communism and other  atheistic movements. 

I can't see how any free, democratic society or free Republic can survive long without its people and institutions honoring, promoting and holding in common the most basic Christian religious principles.

And that is why we currently have reason to be deeply concerned about the future survival, not only of the United States, but also of all nations that were part of Christendom which brought justice and incredible improvements to the daily lives of a large part of mankind.

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