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UN proposes solution to collapsing fertility: More women and elderly in workforce

The United Nations report, which shows rapid aging and economic unpreparedness across the globe, predicts catastrophically low levels of workers supporting non-working seniors.
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 8:38 pm EST
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eanstudio /
Susan Yoshihara
By Susan Yoshihara

NEW YORK, January 9, 2020 (C-Fam) — Even with adjustments for longer, healthier living, the UN’s latest population figures show rapid aging and economic unpreparedness across the globe. By each of the three metrics used in the latest UN report on aging, only Africa is projected to avoid the harsh effects of aging in the coming decades, a world where the number of elderly is projected to more than double, reaching more than 1.5 billion.

According to World Population Prospects 2019, by 2050, one in six people will be over the age of 65, up from one in eleven in 2019, as the world’s older population grows in both absolute and relative terms.

The slowest to age are those regions that have already grown old: Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Africa will age quickly as fertility rates drop and life expectancy rises, but nine of the ten fastest aging countries are in Asia, led by Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, whose fertility plummeted decades ago and remains below replacement levels despite government interventions to increase it.

By the traditional measure of aging, counting the number of those 65 years and older per hundred people 20–64, the ratio of elderly dependent persons will rise sharply from 16 to 28 by 2050. In Europe there will be 49 elderly per 100 workers; in Japan, Korea, and Spain there will be a stunning 80 elderly per 100 workers. Conversely, in Africa, just 7 elderly are supported by 100 workers today, and this will rise slowly to just 9 by 2050.

The aging predicament is so severe that UN statisticians alternatively defined old age based on remaining life expectancy of 15 years. This “prospective old age” method assumes that people will work until just 15 years before death in their 80s, a highly optimistic assumption.

Even with the most hopeful forecast, Asia will age quickly to 25 dependent elderly, while Africa remains at just 10 elderly per 100 workers. The rosier projections, while they show slower aging and better conditions for elderly in the U.S. and Europe, may hide worsening conditions for the economically disadvantaged there, according to the report.

A third, economic, measure shows the bleakest picture. This is significant since it is used by policy makers to plan economies. The old and the very young consume more than they produce, while workers produce more than they consume. This method estimates economic resource flows between age groups, which shows how each age group relies on sharing and saving to support consumption at all stages of life. By this measure, the elderly proportion will rise globally, from 20 older consumers to 33 per 100 workers, in the next 30 years. The rise is steepest in Europe and North America, Australia and New Zealand, places with high consumption as well as longer lives. Japan is expected to have 127 elderly consumers per 100 workers, and Greece 107. Africa would remain the youngest, with just 10 older consumers per 100 workers.

Where the burden falls depends on where one lives. In economies with high social spending on services, it will be the public. That includes Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. In economies that rely more on private sources of support, such as the U.S., UK, Australia, Southeast and South Asia, the family and individual workers will bear the burden of supporting seniors.

To avoid economic crisis, the report recommends putting more people in the workforce, including women and the elderly, gradually increasing retirement age, reducing public benefits, and balancing public and private spending, akin to the U.S. model, by shifting the burden to individual labor earnings and family resources.

Published with permission from C-Fam.


Pro-abortion language could destroy global girls’ education bill

Actors working from within the Trump administration hope to include language about 'sexual and reproductive health and rights' to make sure adolescent girls can get abortions.
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 8:21 pm EST
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Rebecca Oas, Ph.D.
By Rebecca Oas Ph.D.

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 9, 2020 (C-Fam) — Even in a gridlocked and divided Congress, there is bipartisan support for initiatives to improve global health, end violence against women around the word, and improve girls’ access to education. But recent bills aimed at addressing these issues are being undermined within by references to strategy documents from the previous administration — many of which include highly controversial measures.

The Keeping Girls in School Act was introduced in both the House and Senate last April with identical language. While the Senate version remains stalled in the Committee on Foreign Relations, the House version was referred to the full body pending a vote last October. UNICEF USA, a U.S.-based organization supporting the UN children’s agency, issued a statement welcoming the House bill’s movement.

They noted that one of its results would be “codifying the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls.” What worries pro-life groups is that there appears to be no movement on the part of the administration to amend the controversial adolescent girl strategy, nor, so far, on the part of legislators to remove the problematic reference to it.

The Keeping Girls in School Act calls for officials at State and USAID to “review and update” a global strategy on adolescent girls, and operate under the existing strategy until that time.

The adolescent girls strategy was introduced  in 2016 and still guides the work of four U.S. government agencies, including the State Department and USAID.

The strategy contains multiple references to “sexual and reproductive health,” which has been condemned in international negotiations by the Trump administration for its use to promote abortion. However, the strategy goes even beyond that by referring to “sexual and reproductive health and rights,” which is language that has never been formally defined nor agreed to in binding international documents.

Abortion advocates have argued that no strategy to improve education or economic empowerment for women and girls will be successful without a health component — in which “health” must include “reproductive health,” which in turn must include abortion.

Legislation aimed at improving global education for girls could be written narrowly, leaving health issues to other laws and policies, with very limited references to such uncontroversial health provisions as menstrual hygiene. Another option open to pro-life lawmakers would be to include explicit provisions echoing the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy, blocking funding for foreign organizations that promote or provide abortion.

Even if constraints were added to the Keeping Girls in School Act with regard to health, the U.S. Global Strategy to Empower Adolescent Girls includes reference to “comprehensive sexuality education,” another controversial term. In fact, international consensus does not support “comprehensive sexuality education” and it is rejected by nations and local municipalities around the world. Despite this, the legislation, which is aimed at ensuring girls receive a good education, would be implemented with guidance from a strategy promoting curricula that include abortion, gender ideology, homosexuality, and other sensitive subjects.

The Trump administration has not modified or replaced the prior administration’s strategy documents on several issues, including adolescent girls, gender equality, or USAID’s “LGBT Vision for Action.” All of these advance objectives that are incompatible with the stated priorities of the current administration.

The pro-abortion members of Congress do not have the power to rewrite the U.S. agencies’ strategy documents. However, they have increased their efforts to put the power of law behind these Obama-era strategies, inasmuch as the Trump administration allows them to remain in effect.

Published with permission from C-Fam.

  abortion, education, united nations, usaid


Disney introduces kids to world of demons, witchcraft in new ‘The Owl House’ show

'Humans are not well-liked' in 'Demon town,' where 'the most powerful witch on the Boiling Iles' lives.
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 6:59 pm EST
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Eda the Owl Lady, the most powerful witch on the Boiling Iles, and her young teenage protege Screenshot: Disney trailer for 'The Owl House'”
Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug
By Doug Mainwaring

January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The Disney Channel will premiere a new cartoon – The Owl House – on Friday, January 10, that promises to introduce young viewers to a world of demons and witchcraft.    

According to Disney, “The series follows self-assured teenage girl Luz, who discovers a portal to another realm where humans are not well-liked, and she must disguise herself in order to fit in at witch school.”  

Disney describes that realm as a “Demon town,” where Luz takes up residence with Eda the Owl Lady, “the most powerful witch on the Boiling Iles.”  

Luz declares, “Someday, I’m going to be just like her.”

Screenshot: Disney trailer for 'The Owl House'

Disney: going farther into the darkness of the spiritual world that opposes God

“Folks, if you think this latest ‘Owl House’ show is just ‘fantasy and fun’ think again,” wrote Deborah Bunting in a commentary penned for CBN (The Christian Broadcasting Network). 

“The show tries to portray witchcraft as a positive tool to fight evil,” explained Bunting. 

“That's similar to what real-life witches have been promoting over the past few years as they've been putting hexes on President Trump and others in order to fight for their beliefs.” 

“Over the years, Disney has gone farther and farther into the darkness of the spiritual world that opposes the living God, coming up with programming and characters that lead the vulnerable into that dark world of deception.”

“This spiritual realm that opposes God is real. Demons are real,” warns Bunting. “And they are out to deceive your children and draw them in to be pawns of the enemy of their souls, the Devil, otherwise known as Satan. His devices and plans are to destroy your kids and grandkids spiritually, physically and emotionally. You must protect them from being enticed into this demonic world.”  

Making the demon realm ‘feel like home’ for kids

“The original pitch (for the show) was ‘girl hangs out with witch in hell,’” voice actor Alex Hirsch told   

The show’s art director, Ricky Cometa, explained that when the show’s creator, Dana Terrace, first approached him, “she said that ‘we're trying to make this demon realm a part of Disney.’”' 

“We really wanted to make this demon realm feel like home, and just had to figure out how to do it," said Cometa. 

The writers room for the show is “full of books on witchcraft, witches and spells to take inspiration from,” according to the Newsweek piece.  

The visual design of the show is inspired by various European painters such as Hieronymus Bosch, who was best known for his surrealistic depictions of hell.   

Show creator Terrace, who first became acquainted with religious painters while growing up in Catholic school, said Bosch’s twisted takes on angels and demons would make for a “cool show in that art style.”

Opening children to demons’ influence ‘will only end in affliction and suffering’ 

Last month, controversy arose over when major retailers such as Walmart, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble offered a book inviting young children to learn how to summon demons. 

Written for 5- to 10-year-olds, A Children’s Book of Demons directs kids to “conjure gentle demons by writing their sigils, which serve as ‘a phone number’ straight to the spirit.” 

“As ridiculous as the ‘demons’ contained in the book may be, there is nothing innocent or fun about even pretending to summon evil spirits,” noted Elizabeth Johnston, aka  Activist Mommy, on her blog. “But who is to say it is pretend? The spirit world is real and is no laughing matter.”

“It is a sign of the degeneration of our society that making use of demons is considered acceptable, and it manifests ignorance of their malice and desire to do us harm,” renowned exorcist, Fr. Chad Ripperger, told LifeSiteNews. “Books such as these ought to be avoided by parents and children, as they pose a possible opening to demons’ influence in their lives, which will only end in affliction and suffering.”

“Parents would be well warned that it is not something ‘silly,’ but contrary to the proper formation of their children,” he continued. “Opening up children to this at a young age will often place the child in a mindset that diabolic influence of demons in his life is not something serious or to be avoided.”

While The Owl House has not yet premiered, The Disney Channel has already signed on for a second season of the show to be produced.

  christian broadcasting network, devil, disney, disney channel, newsweek, satan, the owl house, witchcraft


5-year-old girl recovering in Italy after UK hospital fought to end life support

Tafida Raqeeb, the brain-damaged British five-year-old U.K. doctors wanted to pull the plug on, has been moved out of intensive care in an Italian hospital.
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 6:09 pm EST
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Shelina Begum, mother of five-year-old Tafida Raqeeb. Good Morning Britain / YouTube
Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne
By Lianne Laurence

GENOA, Italy, January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Tafida Raqeeb, the brain-damaged British five-year-old U.K. doctors wanted to pull the plug on, has been moved out of intensive care in an Italian hospital.

Tafida, who went into a coma last February after a blood vessel ruptured in her brain, was transferred to the Gaslini children’s hospital in Genoa on October 15 after the British high court ruled that U.K. health authorities could not take her off life support against her parents’ wishes.

Construction engineer Mohammed Raqeeb, 45, and lawyer Shelina Begum, 39, appealed to the court after doctors at the Royal London hospital decided their daughter would not recover and that it would be in her best interest to let her die.

Those doctors have been “proved wrong — by Tafida herself,” Begum said this week, reported the U.K.’s Daily Mail.

Gaslini doctors and Tafida’s parents announced at a press conference Wednesday that the little girl has been transferred from intensive care to a private room in a residential unit, where she will receive rehabilitative care, including being gradually weaned off her ventilator, the U.K.’s Guardian reported.

“Today is a very special day for us. Tafida was moved from intensive care. It’s a big step, and it means a lot for us. We are delighted,” Begum said.

The hospital’s goal is to support Tafida’s vital functions to the point where it would be “possible for her to be fed and have mechanical ventilation at home,” said Dr. Andrea Moscatelli, head of Gaslini’s neonatal intensive care unit, the Guardian reported.

Tafida’s parents are from Newham, east London but have been living in Genoa to be close to Tafida, according to the Daily Mail.

“In cases of very serious neurological damage such as these, the prognosis is practically impossible. We will know over time,” Moscatelli observed.

“We are trying to give this little girl time to understand if there’ll be a potential improvement, and much of that potential improvement is yet to be understood.”

Gaslini doctors gave Tafida a tracheostomy — in which an opening is made in the neck and a tube placed into the windpipe — to help her breathe more easily on her own, as well as a procedure to ease pressure on her brain and stabilize her breathing, the Daily Mail reported.

She is being taken off her ventilator “for two or three hours a day, so she can breathe by herself,” Begum said.

“She has also come off the catheter. She is in control of her urinary function now,” added Tafida’s mother.

“All these things were not going to happen in the UK.”

Gaslini offered to take Tafida after her parents asked the world-renowned children’s hospital for a second opinion in July, in the midst of their legal battle to keep their daughter on life support.

“We want to express a heartfelt thanks to the entire Gaslini medical team, who took extraordinary care of Tafida, and also to the public who have supported us,” Begum said Wednesday.

“We have always said that time is what Tafida needs. We will just have to continue waiting to see what happens now.”

Gaslini’s general manager Paolo Petralia said the hospital is “happy to have welcomed Tafida, fulfilling the desire of her parents, who asked for time and all the best possible quality of life. This time for Tafida and her family is a condition of human dignity.”

The landmark high court decision sparing Tafida’s life “stunned the medical profession,” according to the Daily Mail.

Justice Alistair MacDonald noted in his October 3 ruling that “this is a case in which the sanctity of life is outweighed by other considerations.”

Tafida’s parents argued that according to Islamic law, only God could decide to end their daughter’s life, and MacDonald alluded to their faith in explaining why he decided to allow Tafida to go to Italy.

“[W]here a child is not in pain and is not aware of his or her parlous situation, these cases can place the objective best interests test under some stress,” MacDonald said.

“Tests must be looked for in subjective or highly value laden ethical, moral or religious factors ... which mean different things to different people in a diverse, multicultural, multi-faith society,” the judge said.

LifeSiteNews reporter Dorothy Cummings McLean noted in a previous report that Italian media have compared Tafida’s case to those of Charlie Gard, who died in 2017 at the age of 11 months, 24 days, and Alfie Evans, who died in 2018 eleven days before his second birthday.

Charlie was diagnosed with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome and Alfie with GABA-transaminase deficiency.

In highly publicized cases that gripped the world, doctors went to court for permission to remove the patients’ ventilators against the wishes of parents who wanted to transfer their sons to foreign hospitals for experimental treatment. 

British judges ruled in favor of the hospitals in both cases, “and the boys died after being removed from life support. Charlie died the next day; Alfie hung on, breathing on his own, for five days,” wrote Cummings McLean.

Both cases evoked a “great outpouring of sympathy for the children and their parents and criticism of the English hospitals involved and the British justice system.”

  euthanasia, hospitals, islam, italy, shelina begum, tafida raqeeb, united kingdom


Papal nuncio: Church’s former doctrine head a ‘source of reassurance’ for Catholics

U.S. archbishop Thomas Gullickson praised Cardinal Gerhard Müller's recent collection of essays, saying Müller's work 'will confirm you in the faith as you know it.'
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 5:49 pm EST
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Cardinal Gerhard Müller.
Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy
By Dorothy Cummings McLean

BERN, Switzerland, January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — U.S. archbishop Thomas Gullickson praised Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s recent collection of essays, which include his Manifesto of Faith, as a “source of reassurance” that will confirm Catholics “in the faith as you know it and as it is still believed and taught.”

Archbishop Gullickson, 69, who is the papal nuncio to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, praised the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as a “good, solid” source for Catholics distressed by recent developments in the Church.

“Traveling to and from the States back at the end of November, I had time to read this collection of essays by His Eminence, with his Manifesto of Faith in appendix,” Gullickson wrote in his January 5 blog post.

“If you are at all distraught these days by the ambivalence communicated by some charged with the teaching office in the Church, I can guarantee this book of Cardinal Müller will be a source of reassurance for you,” he continued. 

“It will confirm you in the faith as you know it and as it is still believed and taught. My point would be simply that in Cardinal Müller we still have good, solid folk out there.”

Gullickson reminded his readers that the Church has always advised recourse to “approved authors” like the Fathers of the early Church, the Doctors of the Church, the saints, and also Catholics still alive today who faithfully hold to the doctrine of the Church. The archbishop offered this advice to counter heterodox material that has shaken the faith of the devout.

“The supports which they had found in recent years are often now called into question in the social media, especially as far as Catholic moral teaching goes and especially in the area of Christian anthropology,” he wrote.

“Too many Sunday homilies or too much stuff out there in the media which would pass itself off as Catholic, is anything but what it could or should be.”

Catholics should not judge a speaker’s or writer’s trustworthiness by his silver tongue or mellifluous phrasing, however. Gullickson quoted Cardinal Müller when underscoring that sanctity is more important than mere eloquence.

“This notion of truth, here in Cardinal Müller’s book referred to as “the power of truth," is indeed grounded in godliness, understood as that integrity of life which binds one to the Person of Jesus Christ,” he stated.

In a post from December 11, 2019, Gullickson praised the traditional Latin Mass (TLM), also known as the Extraordinary Form and the Mass of St. John XXIII, as source of fervent religious devotion.

“I would like to say that what the embrace of the tradition and of traditional liturgy has to offer ought ... to be classified, yes, as piety or true devotion,” the archbishop wrote.

“Apart from my own personal sense or experience of the profound rightness of worship according to the 1962 Missal, as I have experienced it as a bishop celebrating both solemn pontificals and the more restrained Missa Praelatitia, I wish to testify first and foremost to the devotion with which people assist at these Holy Masses.” 

What particularly impresses Gullickson about Catholics who attend the traditional form of the Mass is their manner of receiving Holy Communion: kneeling along an altar rail and receiving the Host from the hands of a priest on their tongue.

“Not only will I decry the hectic [nature] of Novus Ordo Communion processions by comparison with Communion at the altar rail, but in distributing Holy Communion I am witness to the extreme qualitative difference between Communion as traditionally given on the tongue and Communion in the hand,” the archbishop wrote.

“Let me put it this way: I have never but never been edified by a person who presents himself or herself for Communion in the hand.”

The papal nuncio even stated that he wishes he could always celebrate Mass according to the traditional form.

“The recovery of the Vetus Ordo with all its intricacies, its Latin, its silences, its absolute orientation is the most people appropriate way to inspire true devotion,” Gullickson wrote. “I just wish I could always celebrate that way.”

Moreover, “I would like to see in a reform or recovery or restoration, returning us to the solid ground of the Mass of All Times, that ineluctable and necessary seedbed for the proclamation of the Gospel from the rootedness of a life not so much hidden in Christ as immersed in Him.”

In 2016, Gullickson celebrated an important anniversary for one of the TLM’s most famous modern champions. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of British Catholic author Evelyn Waugh, the nuncio celebrated pontifical vespers at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in London in his memory. Most famous for his novel Brideshead Revisited, Waugh wrote letters and articles arguing for the preservation of the traditional form of the Mass from the years of the Second Vatican Council until his untimely death in 1966 at the age of 62.

Archbishop Gullickson was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 1950 and ordained to the priesthood in 1976, at the age of 25. He studied canon law at the Gregorian University in Rome and joined the Vatican’s diplomatic service on May 1, 1985.

Gullickson was appointed the titular archbishop of Polymartium in 2004 and also named the apostolic nuncio to a number of Caribbean islands. In 2015, he was named the apostolic nuncio to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

  catholic, communion in the hand, gerhard müller, latin mass, liturgy, manifesto of faith, papal nuncio, pope francis, thomas gullickson


Poll claims most Irish want pro-life witness banned outside abortion centers

Pro-lifers say the survey results are 'irrelevant.'
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 5:42 pm EST
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Paul Smeaton Paul Smeaton Follow Paul
By Paul Smeaton

DUBLIN, Ireland, January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A new poll suggests that a majority of people in Ireland support the introduction of “exclusion zones” where pro-life witness is banned outside abortion centers.

According to a poll carried out by Amárach Research for RTÉ (the national public service media of Ireland) 77 percent of people surveyed support such a ban.

The news comes after Simon Harris, Ireland’s health minister, promised last week that he is “committed” to banning pro-life witness around abortion facilities.

In September 2019 Garda (Irish police) commissioner Drew Harris said that existing public order legislation was adequate to deal with protests outside abortion centers.

In a letter to the health minister, the police commissioner said that new laws would be “redundant” at this time and that there was no evidence that women seeking abortions in Ireland had been abused or insulted outside abortion facilities.

He wrote: “I confirm my satisfaction with existing public order legislation to adequately deal with any reasonable public order incident that may arise at such centres.”

“I re-confirm my views expressed at our recent meeting that protests to date at such centres have not contravened the law and are peaceful. To date no incident of criminality has been reported or observed as a result of a protest placed at or near the vicinity of a service centre.”

The letter continues: “[t]here is no evidence to suggest that there is threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour directed towards persons utilising such services.”

“Consequently, the introduction of any further legislation to ensure ‘safe access’ to termination pregnancy services, would be redundant at this time.”

Aoife Collins attends peaceful vigils outside family doctor clinics in Dublin where the abortion pill is given. Aoife told LifeSiteNews that the role of pro-life vigils is “to make prayerful reparation for the sins of abortion.” 

“People attending pro-life vigils are not interested in popularity ratings,” she said. “We understand that our presence reminds many of what they voted for in May 2018. It makes them uncomfortable. Our role however, is to make prayerful reparation for the sins of abortion and we pray for everyone involved including the abortionists, the unborn babies, and their mothers.” 

Aoife continued, “those who wish to crush our democratic right to pray in public should be concerned since bullying of pro-life people by Minister Simon Harris and others, may be extended to them by the Government in the future. Be careful what you wish for.”

Liam Gibson, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children’s Belfast-based political officer and a pro-life leader in Ireland for nearly 20 years, told LifeSiteNews that the results of the survey are “irrelevant.”  

“It doesn’t matter whether nearly 80, 90 or even a hundred percent of people want to ban pro-life demonstrations at abortion facilities, freedom of speech and freedom of expression are basic civil and political rights,” said Gibson. “In fact, the more unpopular the cause being espoused, the greater the need for legal safeguards for those who advocate that cause. Any legislation which targets peaceful demonstrators merely because politicians find their opinions objectionable is incompatible with the rule of law in a civilised society.”

He continued:

Whatever the government has planned will be challenged in court. Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is binding on the Republic of Ireland, guarantee freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. And Article 6 of the Irish Constitution protects the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and without arms. This right can only be lawfully restricted if demonstrations are deemed to be “calculated to cause a breach of the peace or to be a danger or nuisance to the general public.” It’s quite likely that legislation exclusively restricting pro-life vigils would be considered unconstitutional since they would be designed to discriminate against one section of the public who wish to express a political or religious conviction that killing unborn children is wrong.  

The fact that Irish politicians have launched this attack on freedom of speech just days after abolishing the country’s blasphemy laws, supposedly in [defense] of freedom of speech, highlights the shocking level of hypocrisy which now dominates Irish society.

  abortion, bubble zone, exclusion zone, ireland, simon harris


Left-wing GLAAD to honor Taylor Swift for pro-LGBT activism

The pop singer will receive an award for 'allies who have made a significant difference in promoting acceptance of LGBTQ+ people.'
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 4:41 pm EST
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Wikimedia Commons
Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

January 8, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Pop superstar Taylor Swift has grown steadily more political than her country roots in recent years, and will soon be rewarded for her efforts by the pro-LGBT lobbying organization GLAAD.

This week, GLAAD announced recipients for its 31st annual Media Awards, ceremonies for which will be held in March and April. ABC News reported that Swift will receive the organization’s Vanguard Award, which recognizes "allies who have made a significant difference in promoting acceptance of LGBTQ+ people."

"From boldly standing up against anti-LGBTQ elected officials to shining attention on the urgent need to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination through the Equality Act, Taylor Swift proudly uses her unique ability to influence pop culture to promote LGBTQ acceptance," said GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis. “In a time of political and cultural division, Taylor creates music that unites and calls on her massive fan following to speak up and call for change.”

Last year, Swift abandoned her former apolitical image (for which liberals attacked her for years) by endorsing Tennessee’s former Democrat governor Phil Bredesen in his failed Senate race against Republican Marsha Blackburn, donating $113,000 to combat a slate of religious-liberty bills in Tennessee, and releasing a music video depicting religious and conservative Americans as hateful, dim-witted rednecks (the lyrics of which highlight GLAAD).

In August, Swift said she feels “really remorseful” about not endorsing Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, but will “do everything I can” to oust President Donald Trump in 2020, and demanded that the Trump administration respond to a petition she backed supporting the so-called “Equality Act.”

The Equality Act would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include “sex,” “sexual orientation,” and “gender identity” among expressly recognized “non-discrimination” categories in “public accommodations” (the definition of which would be dramatically expanded); and force employers of 15 or more people to recognize their claimed “gender identity,” forbid them from “discriminating” based on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity,” and mandate transgender “access” to sex-specific facilities.

Conservatives have long warned that the bill’s true purpose is not to protect homosexual or gender-confused Americans from tangible harm, but to force religious adoption agencies to place children in same-sex homes; force other Americans such as photographers, florists, and bakers to participate in same-sex “weddings”; force employers and businesses to accommodate cross-dressing and sex-change treatments regardless of their own values or policies; and to force women and girls to sleep, shower, and use the bathroom alongside gender-confused males.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted to pass the act last year, but it’s considered a non-starter in the Senate and is opposed by the president.

  equality act, glaad, glaad media awards, homosexuality, lgbt, taylor swift, vanguard award


‘Intense’ spike in Christian persecution after China’s secret deal with Vatican: US gov’t report

'Chinese authorities subjected Catholic believers in China to increased persecution by demolishing churches, removing crosses, and continuing to detain underground clergy.'
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 4:12 pm EST
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Chinese officials demolish Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen city Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. China Aid / screen-grab
By Martin Barillas

WASHINGTON D.C. January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Religious persecution in China has increased rapidly over the past year, according to a new U.S. government report. The “intensity” of persecution, which, the report states, has not been seen "since the Cultural Revolution," was linked to the Vatican signing a secret deal with the Chinese communist government to give the government power over the country’s Catholic Church. 

“Observers have described religious persecution in China over the last year to be of an intensity not seen since the Cultural Revolution,” the annual report put out by the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) stated. 

The report, released January 8, stated that the Chinese government under President and Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping has “doubled down on the ‘sinicization’ of religion—a campaign that aims to bring religion in China under closer official control and in line with officially sanctioned interpretations of Chinese culture.”

“Authorities have expanded the ‘sinicization’ campaign to target not only religions perceived as ‘foreign,’ such as Islam and Christianity, but also Chinese Buddhism, Taoism, and folk religious beliefs,” the report stated. 

The report acknowledged that the rise in persecution of Catholics corresponded to the signing of the secret deal with the Vatican. 

“In September 2018, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed an agreement with the Holy See, paving the way for the unification of state-sanctioned and underground Catholic communities. Subsequently, local Chinese authorities subjected Catholic believers in China to increased persecution by demolishing churches, removing crosses, and continuing to detain underground clergy. The Party-led Catholic national religious organizations also published a plan to ‘sinicize’ Catholicism in China.”

The communist-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), a parallel ecclesial grouping that is not in communion with the Pope, was created by the Chinese government in the 1950s and appoints its own bishops and priests. Catholic clergy and laity who are in union with the Pope have survived in secret in what has become known as the Underground Church. Those suspected by the government of involvement in the Underground Church have been imprisoned, murdered, and otherwise persecuted. 

Recently, Bishop Agostino Cui Tai of Xinhua province was arrested by local authorities. The bishop had struggled to assert his episcopal authority in the face of resistance from a priest, Fr. Zhang Li, who had demanded that he should merge with the officially-sanctioned church. Episcopal Vicar Fr. Zhang Jianlin was arrested with the bishop. Catholics in China are praying for their safety.

The Vatican signed a provisional, secret agreement with China in 2018 that allows the government a say in the appointment of bishops, among other concessions. Chinese Cardinal Joseph Zen called the agreement an “incredible betrayal.” Critics’ warnings that persecution would worsen have since been borne out. Persecution of other Christians and unregistered churches has also increased.

Cardinal Zen has said that he fears that Pope Francis has been misled into encouraging “schism” among Catholics in China. 

Zen has appealed to the Pope to defend persecuted Catholics in China, and recently revealed that he has sent a letter to the College of Cardinals pleading with them to denounce the agreement, sharing the “dubia” or questions that he gave to the Pope in 2019. He presented his questions to the pontiff after the Vatican released pastoral guidelines in June that allowed the civil registration of faithful clergy with the communist government. Some clergy of the Underground Church have refused to register with the government, arguing that doing so would mean betraying the real Catholic Church.

Cardinal Zen has deplored the Pope’s apparent silence regarding the plight of Chinese Catholics. He called on all Catholics to prevent the “murder” of the Church in China.

Other critics of the agreement include Stephen W. Mosher, an expert on China and founder of the Population Research Institute. Mosher wrote in 2019 that no deal between the Vatican and Beijing would have been better than the deal that was hatched. Both Cardinal Zen and Mosher have criticized Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican diplomat who spearheaded the deal. In the past, Zen has called for Parolin’s resignation, while in the recently published missive, Zen said that he is disgusted that the secret agreement with China is being presented as being in continuity with Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  

“Observers and Catholic believers expressed concern that the agreement did not provide sufficient support for the Chinese Catholic community,” the report stated, “with one scholar pointing out that the authorities’ persecution of both underground and official Catholic communities has actually intensified over the last year under the ‘sinicization’ campaign.” 

It noted that in early 2019, the Chinese government arrested three priests of the Underground Church of  Xuanhua diocese in Hebei province. The report said, “Local Chinese authorities subjected Catholic believers in China to increasing persecution by demolishing churches, removing crosses, and continuing to detain underground clergy.”

The new Congressional report called for U.S. sanctions on China in the wake of increased government suppression of religious faith. The commission called on President Trump to strengthen the administration’s commitment to human rights and democratic governance as part of its mission. It stated that the president “should include expanding efforts within the U.S. Government to counter disinformation, coercive political influence operations, and censorship efforts, particularly those targeting diaspora communities.”

The report also recommended that Congress should demand “the right of Catholics to be led by clergy who are selected and who conduct their ministry according to the standard called for by Catholic religious beliefs.”

The report noted that China has not limited its persecution to Christians. The report said that “the Commission believes Chinese authorities may be committing crimes against humanity against the Uyghur people and other Turkic Muslims,” while estimating that “one million or more Uyghurs” are being held in internment camps and subjected to forced labor. Democracy advocates and Christians of various denominations have also been persecuted. 

“Security personnel at the camps subjected detainees to torture, including forced ingestion of drugs; punishment for behavior deemed religious; forced labor; overcrowding; deprivation of food; and political indoctrination,” according to the report. When some detainees were sent to camps elsewhere in China, due to overcrowding, the report said that some died in the camps because of “poor conditions, medical neglect, or other reasons.”

Next month, China will put new restrictions into place for believers. It mandates that all religious groups should “adhere to the directives on religions in China, implementing the values of socialism” and promote the “principles and policies of the Chinese Communist Party.” An article in the new directives would require that “government authorities be involved in the selection of religious officers and involved in disputes.” Underground churches or “home” churches would thereby be outlawed.

There are approximately 10 million Catholics in China, according to the report, which noted that about 6 million are members of the state-controlled CPCA.

  catholic, china, chinese communist party, chinese communists, congressional-executive commission on china, persecution, persecution of christians, sinicization


Nebraska governor declares day of prayer to end abortion

Republican Pete Ricketts' proclamation states that it's the 'will of the people' to 'provide protection for the life of the unborn child.'
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 3:37 pm EST
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Pete Ricketts, governor of Nebraska. Gage Skidmore
Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

LINCOLN, Nebraska, January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts issued a proclamation Wednesday declaring that January 22, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling, will be a statewide day of prayer, calling on his constituents to ask God to help end abortion in the United States.

“I do hereby urge all individuals to pray on their own or with others, according to their faith, for an end to abortion,” the proclamation reads. It also encourages Nebraskans to “take direct action to aid mothers, fathers and families in need, especially those expecting a child who cannot provide for themselves.”

“Nebraska state law states that it is ‘the will of the people of the State of Nebraska and the members of the Legislature to provide protection for the life of the unborn child whenever possible,’” the document notes.  “Nebraskans display our pro-life values in a multitude of ways from the crisis pregnancy centers that provide free care for expecting parents to the prayer vigils held across the state every year.”

Americans United for Life ranked Nebraska the 10th most pro-life state in America last year. The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute laments that as of January 1, 2020, Nebraska abortion laws include mandatory informed consent and 24-hour waiting periods, parental consent, bans on taxpayer funding of abortion and of abortion insurance, bans on late-term and telemed/”webcam” abortions, and health standards for abortion facilities the abortion lobby deems “unnecessary” and “burdensome.”

Pro-lifers hope a majority of Supreme Court justices will take June Medical Services LLC v. Gee in March as an opportunity to overturn Roe. The case concerns Louisiana’s requirement that abortion centers make arrangements for admitting women to nearby hospitals in cases of life-threatening complications. 

Over the past year, numerous states have also enacted laws that ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, often for the express purpose of provoking a legal review of Roe and its edict that abortion must be generally allowed before fetal viability.

  abortion, day of prayer, nebraska, pete ricketts, prayer, roe v. wade


Increased harvesting of organs from euthanasia signals worse horrors to come: experts

'You’ll never get better organs than you would by' euthanasia, said one of its top lobbyists in Canada.
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 3:24 pm EST
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By Lianne Laurence

OTTAWA, Ontario, January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — News that organ harvesting from Canadians killed by lethal injection is on the rise in Ontario has euthanasia opponents warning more horrors and assaults on human life are to come.

“Everybody says, ‘Well, it can’t get any lower than it is,’ but we’ll get lower than it is, because every time you break a new ethical barrier, it opens up a new question,” Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Canada-based Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told LifeSiteNews. 

“There is growing evidence that coercion plays a substantial role for many vulnerable people with regards to so called physician-assisted death. Conflating this decision with organ donation further complicates the issue of coercion,” echoed John Smeaton, chief executive of the U.K.-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC).

“We need to acknowledge the unsettling reality that many vulnerable people who have been euthanized without consent, may also have had their organs harvested without explicit consent,” Smeaton added in a Wednesday statement.

Trillium Gift For Life Network, which administers organ and tissue donation in Ontario, harvested 18 organs and 95 tissue donations from 113 people euthanized in the first 11 months of 2019 (December figures were not available), the Ottawa Citizen reported this week.

That’s a 14 percent increase from 2018, but not as steep a jump as the 109 percent increase in organs and tissue harvested from euthanized individuals between 2018 and 2017 in the province. 

Euthanasia deaths also accounted for five percent of all the province’s overall organ and tissue donations in 2019, up from 3.6 percent in 2018, and 2.1 percent in 2017, the Citizen reported.

Canada’s most populous province, Ontario has the distinction of being the first jurisdiction in the world to proactively ask people approved for euthanasia if they want to donate their organs.

After initially allowing only patient-initiated organ donation, Quebec has now followed suit, and permits Transplant Québec to initiate discussions about organ and tissue harvesting with patients scheduled to be euthanized, the Citizen reported.

“Under the Trillium Gift of Life Network Act, designated facilities are required to notify Trillium Gift of Life Network of imminent death in an effort to ensure the opportunity to donate organs and tissue is offered to every medically-eligible Ontarian as part of high quality end-of-life care,” Trillium spokesperson Margaret Barng told LifeSiteNews.

That includes telling Trillium when an individual has been approved for euthanasia, Barng said. After this decision is made, “the discussion of organ and tissue donation occurs.”

Currently, there are more than 1,600 Ontarians waiting for “a lifesaving organ,” she said.

While potential recipients can refuse an organ if they have a moral objection to euthanasia, revealing donor information is not required, Barng told LifeSiteNews.

“The decision to share information about the donor background is up to each clinician,” she wrote in an email.

“Most do share the information, but it is not specified that it should be shared. The potential recipient is able to decline the organ if they choose and they would then remain on the waitlist.”

Euthanasia and organ harvesting: Canada leads the way

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government legalized euthanasia, or “Medical Assistance in Dying” (MAiD), in June 2016, following a February 2015 Supreme Court decision striking down the law prohibiting euthanasia and assisted suicide as unconstitutional.

Canada thus joined Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Columbia as the only countries so far to allow euthanasia death by lethal injection. 

The other jurisdictions, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, currently allow only patient-initiated organ donation, reported the Citizen.

Canada also allows assisted suicide, which is now legal in nine American states and Switzerland, but which doesn’t allow for organ harvesting because the individual typically dies by self-administered drugs. In Switzerland's infamous death clinics, people kill themselves by taking a drug cocktail.

Canada is now on track to expand euthanasia to non-terminal cases.

In September, Quebec Superior Court Justice Christine Baudouin struck down the eligibility criterion for euthanasia that death be imminent.

The ruling nullifies both the federal Criminal Code requirement in Bill C-14 that an individual’s death be “reasonably foreseeable,” and the Quebec Bill 52 requirement that an individual be at the “end of life” to be eligible for euthanasia.

Baudouin gave the governments of Quebec and Canada six months to change their laws, and neither government is appealing her decision.

Moreover, Quebec has opened up consultations on whether or not to allow “prior consent” for euthanasia, in which a person suffering from a degenerative illness gives an advance directive to be euthanized at a future date, thus opening the door for people to be killed by lethal injection without their active consent.

Killing by organ donation? 

All this will inevitably increase attacks on human life, Schadenberg warns.

Linking organ donation to euthanasia changes the perception of death by lethal injection to “a good” in which “people who are sick can get better because you had your life ended,” he told LifeSiteNews.

And with imminent death no longer an eligibility requirement for euthanasia, vulnerable people, particularly those with depression or psychiatric illnesses, or mental or physical degenerative decline, or who see their lives as worthless, could find the perceived “good” of organ donation irresistible, Schadenberg said.

“There are a lot of people who are not even sick. They may have ALS, or a neurological condition such as Parkinson’s. Their organs are perfectly good. So they become the great organ donors,” he said.

“If you open up euthanasia for psychiatric reasons, those are even better donors because they have no physical health problems,” he added.

Indeed, euthanasia lobbyist Dr. James Downar, who co-chaired the Canadian Blood Services committee that developed guidelines for euthanasia organ donation, told the National Post in 2017 that euthanasia — where the heart stops beating two to three minutes after lethal injection — is a prime source of organs.

“If somebody has organs that would be appropriate to donate, you’ll never get better organs than you would by this process,” said Downar, who now has a pivotal role in palliative care at Ottawa’s Catholic Elisabeth Bruyère Hospital.

But a more grisly possibility is “already under discussion,” says Schadenberg.

“This is the ethical next question, because obviously, if you’ve said ‘yes’ to euthanasia and you’ve said ‘yes’ to organ donation by doing euthanasia first, why would you do euthanasia and then organ donation, when you could be doing euthanasia by organ donation?” he pointed out.

Death by lethal injection shuts down the heart, and “therefore, it denies the ability of a heart transplant,” Schadenberg said.

“So euthanasia by organ donation has become the next question.” 

And the danger of coercive organ donation is very real, stressed SPUC’s Smeaton.

“It is true that organ donation is good, but only insofar as it does not bring about harm, namely the death of the donor, and, worse still, where that is coupled with lack of explicit consent,” he pointed out.

“The removal of explicit consent which is possible through state-regulated ‘opt-out’ policies, undermines the ethical basis of donation and intensifies concerns around some aspects of organ donation, such as removing vital organs from beating heart patients.”

  canada, euthanasia, euthanasia prevention coalition, organ donation, organ harvesting


Cardinal defends German ban on abortion advertising in powerful pro-life homily

'We are called not to advertise for killing! We have to advertise for life.'
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 2:56 pm EST
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Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki DW News / Youtube screen grab
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By Martin Bürger

January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki has forcefully defended an advertising ban on abortions in Germany. The ban, while still in effect, has recently been relaxed by the German government.

“We are called not to advertise for killing! We have to advertise for life,” the Archbishop of Cologne stated in a homily on Saturday, December 28, 2019. 

At the same time, he criticized a new policy going into effect in 2021. From next year onward, statutory health insurance companies in Germany are required in certain cases to pay for prenatal blood work looking for genetic disorders like down syndrome in the unborn child.

On December 28, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Innocents, going back to the children murdered by King Herod after the birth of Jesus Christ. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Herod had all children under two years of age in Bethlehem and its surroundings murdered, because he felt his power being challenged by Jesus Christ, “the king of the Jews.” Cardinal Woelki dedicated his sermon at the end of last year to pro-life issues.

The archbishop of Cologne referred to a court decision of December 2019, which stated that the advertising ban on abortions, which was relaxed in March 2019, was contradictory. The new law allows “doctors, hospitals and institutions” to make known publicly that they perform abortions, as well as pointing their patients to government-sanctioned informational materials on abortion. 

Cardinal Woelki explained that now, “information about terminations of pregnancy is legal, but not information about the methods.”

Woelki pointed out that many people in Germany are not aware any longer that abortion is still illegal in that country. The law, said the archbishop, only allows for certain exceptions. In those cases, having an abortion will not be punished by law.

As a matter of fact, paragraph 219 of the German penal code not only forbids advertising for abortions, but makes it mandatory for a pregnant woman to consult with doctors or counselors before deciding to go forward with an abortion. This consultation, according to that law, has to serve “the protection of unborn life.” Paragraph 219 also states that “the unborn in each stage of the pregnancy has his or her own right to life.”

A further relaxation of the advertising ban on abortions would amount to “a further playing down of practicing terminations of pregnancy,” Cardinal Woelki told the faithful gathered in Cologne Cathedral. He exclaimed, “Advertising for abortions, dear sisters and brothers, is advertising for a statutory offense! And that is criminal!”

It would be a further break in a dam to have another relaxation of the advertising ban, according to Woelki: “We are called not to advertising for killing! We have to advertise for life! Nobody, dear sisters, dear brothers, nobody has the right to have at one’s command human life, not even in the first 12 weeks.”

Turning his attention to what is known as non-invasive prenatal testing, Cardinal Woelki clarified that in 2021, statutory health insurance companies will only be covering the costs of the blood work in specific cases, namely after a consultation between doctor and patient, as well as “in connection with particular risks and to clarify abnormalities.” Nevertheless, the archbishop emphasized, “we all know what the result of that blood work is going to be: a positive result will mean a no to life in most cases for children with Down syndrome.”

In Germany, most people have insurance through the statutory health insurance system. While almost 9 million residents are privately insured, the vast majority (more than 73 million) is insured by companies that are a part of statutory health insurance. The premium for this kind of insurance amounts to a little over 15 percent of a person’s income. However, almost half of that is covered by the employer, and the employee can still choose between many companies. Statutory health insurance in Germany always includes vision and dental, and there is no extra fee for children.

Woelki went on talking about the fact that prenatal blood work usually has only one goal, namely “the prevention of a life with a disability.” This is true, the archbishop of Cologne explained, not only of the unborn life before birth. Rather, he said, the spread of non-invasive prenatal testing would lead to “a continuously increasing discrimination of human beings with a disability – as if progress in medicine could determine the form for a life worth living, and a life unworthy to live.”

According to Cardinal Woelki, Christians are called to fight against abortions being considered “the new normal of a liberal, humane and enlightened society” in Germany. He explained – while not explicitly referring to natural law – that the position of pro-lifers is not a specifically Catholic teaching, but universal.

Woelki thanked all pro-lifers for their work, whether it be praying and sacrificing, or political involvement, or something else: “God is a friend of life. Let us all be, with him, as human being during Christmas, friends of life.”

Among the German bishops, Cardinal Woelki is considered to be one of the more faithful ones. In March 2018, he and several other bishops, mostly from Bavaria, had sent a letter to Pope Francis, criticizing and asking for clarification on a document published by the German Bishops’ Conference, which allowed protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion in individual cases. Nevertheless, Woelki appears to be in favor of parish priests making a pastoral decision to admit protestant spouses of Catholics to Holy Communion.

Rainer Maria Woelki was born and raised in the archdiocese of Cologne. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1985. In 2003, he became an auxiliary bishop for his diocese, before Pope Benedict XVI called him to Berlin in 2011. A year later, Pope Benedict made him a cardinal. However, he was the head of the archdiocese of the German capital for only three years. In 2014, Pope Francis moved Cardinal Woelki to Cologne. He replaced Joachim Cardinal Meisner, one of the four cardinals signing the Dubia in 2016, which asked Pope Francis for clarification on controversies regarding his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia. The Dubia have never been answered.

  abortion, advertising, germany, rainer woelki


Planned Parenthood lost 400,000 donors last year

Meanwhile, government funding increased.
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 1:36 pm EST
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Martin M. Barillas Martin M. Barillas Follow Martin
By Martin Barillas

January 8, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Planned Parenthood lost 400,000 individual donors last fiscal year, its latest annual report revealed.

Planned Parenthood has 1.1 million active individual contributors, down from 1.403 million its previous fiscal year. It aborted 345,672 babies last year, the report also showed. 

Funds from government sources actually increased as individual donors stopped contributing to the abortion company during the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year. This year’s report showed that Planned Parenthood garnered just over $616 million in government subsidies, up from last year’s $543.7 million. 

American Life League executive director Jim Sedlak pointed out that Planned Parenthood’s dedication to abortion was on display when it fired now-former president Dr. Leana Wen after less than a year on the job. Wen had wanted Planned Parenthood to focus on more than just abortion.

“Wen clearly bought the healthcare lies of Planned Parenthood, and when she found out the truth about its almost total focus on abortion and politics, rebelled and was fired,” said Sedlak. 

“Apparently,” Sedlak continued, “as the truly abortion focus of the organization became more and more apparent, not only did Wen leave, but 400,000 individual donors to Planned Parenthood stopped giving. That exodus resulted in Planned Parenthood reporting a $39.5 million drop in donations and a $26.5 million drop in total income—despite the fact that its taxpayer income increased by $53 million.”

Statistics calculated by the Centers for Disease Control show that the number of abortions committed across the U.S. has again declined, but the share committed by Planned Parenthood continues to increase. 

The period covered in the latest annual report occurred before President Trump enacted a rule requiring entities that receive Title X federal family planning money to be physically separate from those that commit or refer for abortions. Planned Parenthood refused to comply and lost $60 million in taxpayer funds as a result.

  abortion, planned parenthood, planned parenthood annual report


Christian mom loses court case against school that forced indigenous smudging ritual on kids

The school required children to participate in a smudging ceremony whereby smoke from burning sage was fanned over the classroom, furniture and space occupied by children.
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 1:18 pm EST
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Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms

NANAIMO, British Columbia, January 9, 2020 (Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms) – British Columbia's top court ruled yesterday that schools can require children to participate in religious or spiritual rituals — such as smudging ceremonies from First Nations' culture — despite parental objections to the explicitly religious aspect of “cleansing” the spirits of children. 

In 2015, a Port Alberni school required children to participate in a smudging ceremony whereby smoke from burning sage was fanned over the classroom, furniture and space occupied by children. In a letter to parents, the school claimed that this ritual took place for the express purposes of cleansing the children’s spirits of negative energy. Later in the school year, a prayer was offered at a mandatory student assembly.

“We are reviewing the decision with an eye to next steps,” stated Jay Cameron, counsel for Candice Servatius and Litigation Manager at the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms about the January 8, 2020 Supreme Court of BC decision. “This is a disappointing decision for citizens from any religion or cultural background, each of whom has a constitutional right to be free from state-compelled spirituality.”

The week-long case against School District 70 was heard in November 2019 in Nanaimo, B.C. The Justice Centre represented mother Candice Servatius, whose two children were subjected to a religious or spiritual ritual at John Howitt Elementary School without her knowledge or consent. Witnesses for the Attorney General of B.C. and the Nuu-chul-nuth Tribal Council, which intervened in the case, testified during cross-examinations that it is not consistent with First Nations' practice to compel anyone to be smudged against their will, and that it is “unnecessary” to hold cleansing ceremonies in classrooms in order to teach about First Nations culture.

However, in September of 2015, Mrs. Servatius received a letter from the principal of John Howitt Elementary School (JHES) in Port Alberni, BC, where her two children attend. The letter informed parents that JHES would be hosting a “Traditional Nuu-chah-nulth Classroom/Student Cleansing” performed by a “Nuu-chah-nulth Member” in the school’s classrooms. The letter did not provide a date for when these cleansing rituals would take place. The term Nuu-chah-nulth is used to describe fifteen related First Nations tribes who live on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island.

The letter from the school outlined specific beliefs of the Nuu-chah-nulth: “everything is one, all is connected” and “everything has a spirit.” The school’s letter described in detail how the cleansing ritual would “cleanse” the classroom of “energy” and cleanse the “spirits” of the students. The letter claimed that without cleansing, the classroom and even the furniture would harbour negative “energy” and would not be safe until the “energy” was “released.” The letter stated that each student would participate in the cleansing ritual by holding onto a cedar branch while having “smoke from Sage fanned over [their] body and spirit.”

Concerned about the explicitly supernatural and religious nature of the cleansing ritual, and how it conflicted with her own family’s religious beliefs, Mrs. Servatius immediately went to the school to learn more. When she arrived, she was shocked to find out that the ritual had already been imposed on her nine-year-old daughter. Mrs. Servatius had received less than 24 hours of notice from the school, and did not have the opportunity to opt her child out of the ritual.

In January of 2016, Mrs. Servatius learned that a prayer based on First Nations spirituality had been performed at a JHES student assembly, with explicit references to an unspecified “god”. JHES did not notify parents.

School District 70 argued in court that the ceremonies and prayers that children are required to participate in violate the right of Mrs. Servatius and her children to be free of government-imposed religion, and claimed that such rituals are merely “cultural”.

  british columbia, british columbia supreme court, canada, indigenous people, justice centre for constitutional freedoms, pagan ceremonies, pagan rituals, public schools, smudging ceremony


Leftists who smeared Covington boys hit with new lawsuits

One person being sued, Reza Aslan, infamously tweeted a picture of Sandmann accompanied by the question 'have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid's'
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 1:15 pm EST
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By Calvin Freiburger

January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Following CNN and pro-life teenager Nick Sandmann’s settlement of a defamation suit over the former’s coverage of the 2019 March for Life, it appears the next round of suits has been filed against media and political figures who falsely accused other pro-life teens of harassment.

Immediately after last year’s March for Life in Washington, D.C., the press erupted with claims that a video showed boys from a Catholic school in Kentucky harassing Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist, outside the Lincoln Memorial. But additional extended video and firsthand accounts soon revealed that Phillips was the one who waded into the group waiting for its bus and decided to beat a drum inches from Sandmann’s face, while the boys had merely performed school cheers in hopes of drowning out racist taunts from members of the Black Hebrew Israelites fringe group.

As additional video came to light, many journalists and other public figures quickly deleted their snap condemnations of the students. Some, however, either tried to keep the original narrative alive or refused to unequivocally retract or apologize for their initial claims, leading to various lawsuits on behalf of the boys.

Among the challenges was a $250 million suit against CNN for broadcasting into “millions of homes” the “idea that [Sandmann] was part of a mob...yelling racist slurs,” which was settled Tuesday for an as-yet-undisclosed sum. Sandmann’s attorneys also have pending a $275 million suit against NBCUniversal, and a $250 million suit against the Washington Post.

An unrelated series of suits by a different legal team, on behalf of eight other, unnamed students, targets Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Deb Haaland, CNN’s Ana Navarro, the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, ABC News’s Matthew Dowd, ex-CNN personalities Kathy Griffin and Reza Aslan, Kentucky entrepreneur Adam Edelen, Princeton University’s Kevin Kruse, left-wing activist Shaun King, Mother Jones editor-in-chief Clara Jeffery, and Rewire editor-in-chief Jodi Jacobson.

Aslan, who infamously tweeted a picture of Sandmann accompanied by the question, “have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid's,” suddenly deleted the tweet this week, which attorney Robert Barnes, who represents the group of anonymous students, took as a sign he had received the suit:

Aslan claimed Thursday morning that he simply deleted the tweet because his wife had asked him to, and implied that it stayed up for so long because he thought he had already deleted it:

Barnes told PJ Media he had another reason for inferring Aslan had been served, “because his team was not able to find the author's address until last week,” PJ Media reports.

“Several of our Senators, most-famous celebrities, and widely read journalists, collectively used their large social media platforms, perceived higher credibility and public followings to lie and libel minors they never met, based on an event they never witnessed,” the lawsuit declares. “These defendants called for the kids to be named and shamed, doxxed and expelled, and invited public retaliation against these minors from a small town in Kentucky.

“The defendants circulated false statements about them to millions of people around the world,” it continues. “The video of the entire event, known to the defendants, exposed all of their factual claims against the kids as lies. The defendants were each individually offered the opportunity to correct, delete, and/or apologize for their false statements, but each refused, continuing to circulate the false statements about these children to this very day on their social media platforms they personally control.”

The suit seeks for each plaintiff “damages in an amount not less than $15,000 but not more than $50,000 against each defendant.” With eight plaintiffs, that would mean a sum between $120,000 and $400,000 from each of the defendants.

The aforementioned suits represent different students and are being carried out by different attorneys, but Sandmann and his attorney Lin Wood publicly criticized Barnes this week for his use of Sandmann’s name and Aslan’s tweets, thereby giving the impression that Barnes represents Sandmann:

Barnes, who has been critical of Sandmann’s legal team in the past, said Wednesday, “All #CovingtonBoys I represent retain anonymity as John Does (Nick Sandmann, who went public, is not my client).”

  covington boys, covington catholic, defamation, fake news, lawsuits, left-wing violence, liberal media bias, mainstream media, march for life 2019, nick sandmann, reza aslan, robert barnes


Professor says he was joking about failing students for citing Jordan Peterson

'I heard it rumoured students will fail my class if they cite Jordan Peterson and I'd like to clarify that this is absolutely correct,' Professor Ted McCoy originally tweeted.
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 12:36 pm EST
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Dr. Jordan Peterson in a January 2018 interview with Britain’s Channel Four. Screen-grab
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By Calvin Freiburger

CALGARY, Alberta, January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A University of Calgary sociology professor who tweeted that he punishes students who invoke University of Toronto psychology professor and cultural commentator Jordan Peterson with failing grades now says it was a “joke.”

“I regret that it implied that I don't take seriously my students' right to free expression,” he tweeted.

Ted McCoy is a sociology professor whose research interests are listed as including “Social Inequality and Social Justice,” among other topics. Rebel News first reported that on the morning of January 7, he tweeted, “I heard it rumoured students will fail my class if they cite Jordan Peterson and I'd like to clarify that this is absolutely correct.”

McCoy has since deleted the tweet, but Rebel News saved an archive of the original page here.

By Tuesday evening, McCoy changed the settings on his Twitter account to prevent the general public from reading it at all. It is now public again.

“Ironically, Professor McCoy teaches a class called ‘Self-Regulation’ which examines how individuals and groups create, maintain, and follow non-legal codes of conduct and, in turn, regulate themselves and society,” Libby Emmons and Barrett Wilson note at the Post Millennial. “Apparently McCoy is too deranged by his jealousy-fuelled fever dreams of Jordan Peterson to apply the lessons of his course to his own online behaviour.”

Peterson has amassed a strong following of conservative fans in recent years for his hard-hitting assessments of issues from abortion and transgenderism to sex education and motherhood. He is a particularly fierce critic of academia, which he contends is largely dominated by “post-modernists pushing progressive activism” who indoctrinate rather than teach young people.

These and other stands have won Peterson no shortage of enemies on the Left. McCoy’s now-retracted threat echoes actions others have actually taken against Peterson fans, from a high-school debate judge in Utah to professors at Ontario’s Wilfrid Laurier University. Leaked documents also reveal that Google employees have privately referred to Peterson (among other right-of-center public figures, including observant Jew Ben Shapiro) as a Nazi.

  academia, alberta, calgary, higher education, jordan peterson, left-wing intolerance, social justice, ted mccoy, university of calgary


Leftists melt down after CNN settles Nick Sandmann defamation suit

Various observers have expressed disgust at either the outcome or conservatives’ celebration of it.
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 9:49 am EST
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Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

January 8, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Left-wing observers aren’t taking kindly to the news that CNN agreed to a settlement of the defamation suit brought by pro-life teenager Nick Sandmann, rather than defend its coverage of the 2019 March for Life at trial.

Immediately after last year’s March for Life in Washington, D.C., the press erupted with claims that a video showed boys from a Catholic school in Kentucky harassing Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist, outside the Lincoln Memorial. But additional extended video, and firsthand accounts soon revealed that Phillips was the one who waded into the group waiting for its bus and decided to beat a drum inches from Sandmann’s face, while the boys had merely performed school cheers in hopes of drowning out racist taunts from members of the Black Hebrew Israelites fringe group.

As additional video came to light, many journalists and other public figures quickly deleted their snap condemnations of the students, while some have either tried to keep the original narrative alive or refused to unequivocally retract or apologize for their initial claims, leading to various lawsuits on behalf of the boys.

Among the challenges was a $250-million suit against CNN for broadcasting into “millions of homes” the “idea that [Sandmann] was part of a mob ... yelling racist slurs,” according to attorney L. Lin Wood. But the suit was settled Tuesday for an as yet undisclosed sum. Details of the terms have not yet been revealed, but the Daily Wire reports that various observers have expressed disgust at either the outcome or conservatives’ celebration of it, including CNN and New York Times contributor Wajahat “Abu Khadija” Ali:

Above the Law contributor Joe Patrice claimed that conservatives celebrating the news are either engaged in a “conscious disinformation campaign” or “are just f------ stupid,” because agreeing to a settlement out of pragmatic reasons (such as the financial or public-relations costs of a trial) is not an admission of guilt. 

But conservatives have not claimed that CNN has acknowledged its guilt with this decision, and instead simply express their belief that CNN could not have defended its coverage on the merits.

Sandmann’s lawsuits against other individuals and media giants remain pending, including a $275-million suit against NBCUniversal and a $250-million suit against the Washington Post. “This case will be tried not one minute earlier or later than when it is ready,” Wood has declared, while Sandmann’s legal team stresses that the dollar amounts are sought not for the teen’s sake, but to deter the press from smearing others in the future.

Attorneys Robert Barnes and Kevin Murphy have also filed defamation suits on behalf of eight other Covington students, targeting Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Deb Haaland, CNN’s Ana Navarro, the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, ABC News’s Matthew Dowd, ex-CNN personalities Kathy Griffin and Reza Aslan, Kentucky entrepreneur Adam Edelen, Princeton University’s Kevin Kruse, left-wing activist Shaun King, Mother Jones editor-in-chief Clara Jeffery, and Rewire editor-in-chief Jodi Jacobson.

  cnn, covington catholic, defamation, fake news, lawsuits, liberal media bias, mainstream media, march for life 2019, nathan phillips, nick sandmann


UPDATED: Brazilian judge orders Netflix to remove film that portrays Christ as homosexual

The decision followed a petition signed by over two million Brazilians stating that the blasphemous film broke the law and 'seriously offended Christians.'
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 9:36 am EST
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A scene from the blasphemous Primeira Tentação de Cristo, or The First Temptation of Christ. Porta dos Fundos / Youtube
Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy
By Dorothy Cummings McLean

PETITION: Dump Netflix over video depicting Jesus as a homosexual  Sign the petition here.

UPDATE 01-09-2020, 18:38 P.M. EST — As predicted by LifeSite’s source, the Brazilian Supreme Court just overruled Judge Benedicto Abicair’s decision, allowing Netflix to leave the blasphemous First Temptation of Christ available for viewing in Brazil. Read LifeSite coverage here

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― A judge has ordered Netflix to remove a blasphemous film from its service.

The judge, Benedicto Abicair, handed down his judgment in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. The decision followed a petition signed by over two million Brazilians stating that the comedic film, entitled The First Temptation of Christ, broke the law and “seriously offended Christians.” In the film, Christ is depicted as a homosexual.

Edinburgh-based Brazilian university student Ricardo German told LifeSiteNews he was delighted by the ruling.

“I think it’s great,” he said via social media and explained that the judge was on solid legal ground. “According to Article 208 of the Brazilian Penal Code, to ‘publicly denigrate an act or object of religious worship’ is a crime punishable by up to one year in prison.”

“Judge Abicair did nothing but order the provisional suspension of a work in clear violation of that legal prohibition,” German said. The judge, according to German, can forbid Netflix’s Brazil installation — officially a “legal person” for the purposes of legal proceedings — from making the film available to view. He can also bar Porta dos Fundos from advertising the film anywhere that can be accesseed from Brazil, “which would technically include the internet as a whole (at least in the Portuguese language, some jurists could say).”

At the same time, German was surprised that the judge ruled as he did because of the left-leaning tendencies of modern Brazilian courts.

“The order will almost certainly be reversed by the higher courts (the High Court of Justice or the Supreme Court), unfortunately,” German said.

“The superior courts don’t apply the law: they decide what outcome they would like the most and, based on that, confer whichever twisted hermeneutics they need to effectively render any legal disposition contrary to their ideology meaningless,” he continued.

“They’ve done it with gay ‘marriage’ back in 2011, they’ve done it with abortion of fetuses with anencephaly, and they will probably do it again now.”

German added that 100% of all seats in the superior courts are filled by presidential nominations and “if you’ve had over two decades of left-wing governments, you get what you get.”

The film was produced by the Brazilian film company Porta dos Fundos, whose headquarters were firebombed on Christmas Eve. No one was hurt. German told LifeSiteNews that the small group of men who attacked the offices carried flags of the “Brazilian Integralist Action” movement. The president of this group has, however, repudiated the attack.

  blasphemy, brazil, catholic, censorship, netflix


Pope renews call for global pact promoting ‘new humanism’ in address to Vatican diplomats

When the Vatican launched the Global Education Pact back in September, Pope Francis omitted any reference to the prerogatives of parents as the primary educators of their children.
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 9:24 am EST
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Carl Court / Getty Images
Diane Montagna Diane Montagna Follow Diane
By Diane Montagna

ROME, January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — In a renewed and enthusiastic endorsement of globalism in 2020, Pope Francis today repeated his call for international and religious leaders to sign a “Global Education Pact” in May at the Vatican, saying it is all the more urgent in light of the sexual abuse crisis. 

In his annual New Year’s audience with the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, the Pope looked back at key events of 2019, including last February’s Vatican sex abuse summit. 

He told diplomats that “given the gravity of the harm involved [in the sexual abuse crisis], it becomes all the more urgent for adults not to abdicate their proper educational responsibilities, but to carry out those responsibilities with greater zeal, in order to guide young people to spiritual, human and social maturity.” 

“For this reason,” the Pope continued, “I have planned a worldwide event to take place on 14 May next with the theme: Reinventing the Global Compact on Education.” 

When he launched the initiative last September, Pope Francis said that “a global educational pact is needed to educate us in universal solidarity and a new humanism.” 

A Vatican-backed website to promote the pact added: “Educating young people in fraternity, in learning to overcome divisions and conflicts, promote hospitality, justice and peace: Pope Francis has invited everyone who cares about the education of the young generation to sign a Global Pact, to create a global change of mentality through education.”

Citing his September 2019 message for the launch, in his address to diplomats on Thursday, the Pope explained that: “This gathering is meant to ‘rekindle our commitment to and with young people, renewing our passion for a more open and inclusive education, including patient listening, constructive dialogue and better mutual understanding.’”

“‘Never before has there been such need to unite our efforts in a broad educational alliance, to form mature individuals capable of overcoming division and antagonism, and to restore the fabric of relationships for the sake of a more fraternal humanity,’” he said.

Repeating Hillary Clinton’s favorite aphorism, “It takes a village to raise a child,” Pope Francis asserted the need to create an “educational village” to face new challenges.

“All change, like the epochal change we are now experiencing, calls for a process of education and the creation of an educational village capable of forming a network of open and human relationships,” he said. 

The Pope asserted that in order to reach the objectives of the Global Education Pact, as a “village” we must “put the human person at the center, investing creatively and responsibly in long-term projects” that “train individuals willing to offer themselves in service to the community.”

“What is needed,” he said, “is an educational vision that can encompass a broad range of life experiences and learning processes, in order to enable young people, individually and collectively, to develop their personalities.” 

When the Vatican launched the Global Education Pact back in September, Pope Francis omitted any reference to the prerogatives of parents as the primary educators of their children. This comes at a time when the right to homeschool and the right to a free choice of school are threatened, and when countries throughout the world levy taxes to provide public schooling to which no Catholic parents could safely send their child.

In his annual address to diplomats, on January 9, the Pope insisted that “education is not limited to school and university classrooms,” but is “principally ensured by strengthening and reinforcing the primary right of the family to educate, and the right of Churches and social communities to support and assist families in raising their children.”

In comments to LifeSiteNews following today’s papal audience, Eduard Habsburg, Hungary’s ambassador to the Holy See, who was present at the address, said: “In a time of globalization it is important not to forget the first right of children is to one father and one mother and the first right of parents is to educate their own children according to their values.”

Noting the educational pact’s potential to affect society, Pope Francis stressed the importance of “sincere and genuine dialogue with young people,” who “are the ones who above all make us aware of the urgent need for that intergenerational solidarity which has sadly been lacking in recent years.”

The Pope lamented the tendency, in many parts of the world, to be “self-absorbed, to defend acquired rights and privileges, and to view the world within a narrow horizon that treats the elderly with indifference and no longer welcomes the newborn.” 

“The general ageing of the world population, especially in the West, is a sad and emblematic example of this,” he said, adding that young people “have much to offer, thanks to their enthusiasm and commitment. To say nothing of their thirst for truth, which constantly reminds us of the fact that hope is not utopian and that peace is always a good that can be attained.” 

In his address to diplomats, Pope Francis highlighted two key areas related to the Global Educational Pact: climate change and interreligious dialogue. 

He said that one of the places where many young people “have become active in calling the attention of political leaders to the issue of climate change.” 

“Care for our common home ought to be a concern of everyone and not the object of ideological conflict between different views of reality or, much less, between generations,” he said. 

“Young people are telling us that … at every level we are being urgently challenged to protect our common home and to ‘bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development,’” he said. “They remind us of the urgent need for an ecological conversion, which ‘must be understood in an integral way, as a transformation of how we relate to our sisters and brothers, to other living beings, to creation in all its rich variety and to the Creator who is the origin and source of all life.’”

The second area Pope Francis linked to the educational pact is interreligious dialogue. 

Recalling his February 2019 visit to Abu Dhabi, and co-signing of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the Pope said, “it is particularly important to train future generations in interreligious dialogue, the main road to greater knowledge, understanding and reciprocal support between the members of different religions.” 

Readers will recall that the Abu Dhabi document aroused controversy for stating that the “diversity of religions” is “willed by God.”

In launching the Global Education Pact last September, Pope Francis mentioned the Abu-Dhabi document and said that in this new global village, “the ground must be cleared of discrimination and fraternity must be allowed to flourish.” 

Conferences and events will be held throughout 2020 to prepare for the May 14 signing of the “Global Pact” on education.  

In May 2019, Pope Francis made a strong push for globalism, calling for a supranational, legally constituted body to enforce United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and to implement “climate change” policies.

More recently, during an inflight press conference on his return from a seven-day apostolic visit to Africa, Francis said our “duty” is to “obey international institutions,” such as the United Nations and the European Union.

  catholic, climate change, environmentalism, global education pact, homeschooling, parental rights, pope francis, united nations


Could God permit a heretical pope to remain in office, and why would He?

There is a reason why it is not impossible for a heretic to occupy an ecclesial office.
Thu Jan 9, 2020 - 6:48 pm EST
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Lightning strikes the Vatican, Feb. 11, 2013, hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation.
Peter Kwasniewski Peter Kwasniewski Follow Dr. Peter
By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

January 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Can a pope be a formal heretic but still somehow continue in his office (although he will be prevented from declaring heresy ex cathedra)? In an article at OnePeterFive, Eric Sammons makes a compelling case that the answer is “yes.”

St. Robert Bellarmine laid out the various possible scenarios well, but there are two objections to the way he reasoned about them. On the one hand, his argument against the possibility that “the pope could be a heretic” is not tight: it would be a terrible trial, he says. But God’s providence could allow even a terrible trial for a time, so long as it did not damage the Church beyond recovery. On the other hand, his argument for the possibility that “the Church could simply recognize the fact of the pope’s abdication” encounters insurmountable practical difficulties: by the time the Church has a formal heretic as a pope, she most likely also lacks the highly virtuous churchmen to carry out such a maneuver. So it seems more reasonable to conclude that the pope could be even a formal heretic.

An obvious objection is that the Church has said no formal heretic can occupy an ecclesiastical office, as found in the 1917 Code of Canon Law: “Any office becomes vacant upon the fact and without any declaration by tacit resignation recognized by the law itself if a cleric: ... 4. Publicly defects from the Catholic faith.” But this is a principle of law, not a principle inherent in the natures of things. The commentators say it is “incongruous” that a heretic should occupy such an office, not that it is impossible in itself.

The reason it is not impossible for a heretic to occupy an ecclesial office is that the Church is defined not only by belief and loyalty, but also by place and time. Someone who has defected from the Church’s belief and therefore ceased to be Catholic in the most important sense can still, in the stupidly physical sense of the word, occupy an ecclesiastical office: he can sit in a room in the Vatican or in a bishop’s estate, and he can write on official letterhead, and so on. One could approach him and say, “Excuse me, but since you are no longer a Catholic, you should leave the room.” But he will say, “How dare you say I am no longer a Catholic?”

Formal heretics, despite their formal heresy, have rarely admitted to being no longer in the fold. And as long as no one else can occupy the office, and the people subject to that office have no power to act, this squatter in the office wields a de facto authority. It is incongruous that someone outside the Catholic faith continues to tell people what to do in the Church — it is, in fact, rather like someone who does not belong to a family having absolute power over the family. But it is not impossible.

In actual practice, therefore, formal heretics have occupied ecclesiastical offices, until someone with authority to do so (and, often enough, with thugs to back him up) insists that they leave. So the current Code of Canon Law repeats the old canon: “The following are removed from ecclesiastical office by virtue of the law itself: … 2. One who has publicly defected from the Catholic faith.” But it merely acknowledges the reality of the situation when it adds: “The removal mentioned in nn. 2 and 3 can be insisted upon only if it is established by a declaration of the competent authority.” True, this declaration is a mere recognition of fact, but for the automatic removal from office to have juridical effect, the recognition must come from a competent authority.

Therein lies the difficulty when it comes to the Petrine office. This principle stated by Canon Law can have its effect only if we can find someone authorized to say, in an official way, that the pope is a formal heretic. In any case, it is tricky to get a canon law case up against the man who has absolute power over canon law.

This leaves us with the practical difficulty of getting together a contingent of men somehow either authorized or competent and virtuous enough to “merely recognize” the pope’s de facto abdication. Pending that, no one else can occupy the office, and everyone under him continues under an obligation of obeying (according to a correct  notion of obedience: one obeys unless commanded to act against the known truth held with a good conscience). This is to say that, in some real yet irritating sense, he still occupies the office despite having rejected it in some important way.

On a notorious and formal heretic holding ecclesiastical office, most authors say this can happen despite the fact that heresy separates one from the Church, but they will say that the occupancy of such office is made possible by extraordinary jurisdiction supplied by the Church —w hich some interpret to mean “supplied by the pope.” If this were true, then a manifestly and notoriously heretical pope could not supply his own jurisdiction, so the usual basis for saying that a heretical cleric can retain office would not apply in the case of such a pope. In other words, he would be worse off than all other bishops. This seems counterintuitive at first but would make sense from the vantage of his office being the first and most important and therefore not capable of retaining someone who ought to believe and act as the visible head of the Church on Earth.

However, this claim about supplied jurisdiction masks a secret papolatry. Since it is the very nature of the Church that demands the existence of the papal office — in other words, since the pope is not first, simply speaking, but, as a member of the Church, takes up an office of the Church and for the Church — the pope gets his jurisdiction from the Church. The Church is the first and abiding reality with and under Christ, and the pope is consequent to that reality. There are other offices within the Church that are consequent to the Church simultaneously with the pope’s office — that is, there are other offices consequent to the Church that are not consequent to the pope. Hence, it is truer to say a heretical cleric can retain office because of jurisdiction supplied by the nature of the Church.

The Lord does not allow any evil except for the sake of some good, and in the case of the just whom the Lord loves, that good will not be merely the eventual punishment of the wicked, but growth in virtue, achievement of sanctity, and everlasting glory for those who remain faithful. I hope and believe, as part of my basic act of faith in God, that every evil the Church suffers will somehow advance her well-being in the end.

That such may be the case in our present mighty trial, I daily beg of the crucified yet risen Lord, adding my prayers to the incense of those martyrs recounted in Revelation 6, and adding my cry to theirs: “How long?”

  canon law, catholic, heresy, papacy, pope francis, st. robert bellarmine