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Controversial Netflix ‘Two Popes’ film nominated for three Oscar awards

Jonathan Pryce, who plays Pope Francis, is in the running for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 8:34 pm EST
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Martin M. Barillas Martin M. Barillas Follow Martin
By Martin Barillas

LOS ANGELES, January 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) -- A Hollywood movie portraying Popes Francis and Benedict XVI has received Oscar nominations in spite of reviews accusing it of “lies.”

The Two Popes was released by the Netflix online streaming service in December, meriting praise from liberals for its fictional account of the relationship between the two men. Based on the premise that former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio went to the Vatican to tender his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI, it stars veteran English actors Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins.

Pryce received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and Hopkins got the nod for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The third nomination by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday for the film was for Best Adapted Screenplay. However, it did not win nominations for the coveted Best Picture or Best Director prizes. 

The screenplay for The Two Popes was adapted from The Pope, a stage play that was based on an earlier nonfiction book penned by Anthony McCarten (58), a Catholic from New Zealand. McCarten’s previous screenplays include the biopics Darkest Hour (2017), The Theory of Everything (2014), and Bohemian Rhapsody (2018). Each of these films had leads that won the Oscar for “Best Actor.”

The announcement of the winning Oscar nominations will be televised on February 9. 

The Two Popes was directed by Fernando Meirelles, a Brazilian who helmed City of God (2002), for which he received an Academy Award. A former Catholic and self-described agnostic, Meirelles has said he expects Pope Francis to reform the Catholic Church but does not think any change will come in Church teachings about abortion. He said in December that “the work Francis is doing in the Church has been very important for changing many things that certainly had to change. I believe, if it were up to him, that there would be even more changes.”

The Two Popes has received considerable attention and hype, especially among admirers of Pope Francis. For example, a huge full-color billboard advertising the film was displayed in December on the side of a building owned by the Vatican, just outside St. Peter’s Square. 

Fr. James Martin, SJ wrote on social media that the film was “beautifully written and acted” and showed “sensitive and nuanced portrayal of the two pontiffs.” Pro-LGBTQ Fr. Martin has been notable not only for his support for the current Pope but also for his views about same-sex relations, which have been condemned, for example, by Cardinal Raymond Burke as departing from authentic Catholic moral teachings about sexuality and marriage.

At First Things, reviewer John Waters wrote a withering analysis of the film, saying of the portrayals of the two Popes: “These men bore no resemblance to the real-life men they were supposed to represent. That’s fundamentally why The Two Popes is a dangerous and misguided movie.” 

A review by Catholic News Service opined of the “glossy but highly speculative account of supposedly real events” that screenwriter McCarten and director Meirelles “ill-advisedly try to extol Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) by trashing retired Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins). They even go so far as to give brief screen time to two people who label the pontiff emeritus a Nazi.” Also, National Review published an analysis titled Lies of The Two Popes, saying it is a “fantasy built on lies.”

The announcement of the Oscar nomination for The Two Popes comes just as Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah published From the Depths of Our Hearts, which offers a meditation on the value of priestly celibacy in the Latin rite of the Catholic Church. While the English edition is due to be published by Ignatius Press in February, excerpts of the French edition emerged Sunday. 

In October, as an outcome of the Amazonian Synod in Rome, a formal proposal to ordain mature married men, so-called “viri probati,” to the priesthood was presented to Pope Francis as a means of addressing shortages of priests in the vast region. The Pope is studying the synod’s proposals, which include proposals for increased missionary activity, environmentalism, and sensitivity to ethnic and cultural differences. His response is expected later this year.

In January 2019, Pope Francis told reporters while returning from a visit to Panama, "Personally, I believe that celibacy is a gift to the church. I'm not in agreement with allowing optional celibacy," and he added, "A phrase St. Paul VI said comes to mind: 'I would rather give my life than to change the law on celibacy.'" Confusingly, Pope Francis admitted, however, that "there could be some possibility" of ordaining married men in remote places that seldom have Masses because of a lack of priests. 

When papal spokesman Matteo Bruni was asked by journalists on Monday to respond to the publication of the book by the pope emeritus and Cardinal Sarah, he referred questioners to Pope Francis’ remarks of last year. However, Bruni reiterated that Pope Francis signaled that “some possibility” remains of ordaining married men for service in remote areas. Where “there is a pastoral necessity,” Bruni quoted Pope Francis, the “pastor must think of the faithful.”

  academy awards, anthony hopkins, anthony mccarten, catholic, fernando meirelles, james martin, jonathan pryce, movie, netflix, oscars, pope benedict xvi, pope francis, the two popes


Abortion activists panic over rise in UK pro-life university groups, demand censorship

The appetite for pro-life student groups reflects the shifting public attitude towards abortion in the United Kingdom and the shrill tone of pro-abortionists.
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 7:33 pm EST
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The Times
Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
By Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

January 13, 2019 (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) — Pro-abortion campaigners appear alarmed at the recent rise of pro-life university groups across the United Kingdom. Student led group and SPUC collaborator, the Alliance of Pro-life Students (APS) which “encourage a culture of life by inspiring and equipping students to bring the culture of life into universities” have recently been assisting pro-life university groups. Madeline Page, APS Chief Executive said: “Our societies remain autonomous and students are welcome to run their society as they see as most appropriate to their university’s setting.”

In 2018, only eight university pro-life societies existed in the UK. This number has increased considerably over the past year with 14 pro-life societies now present on UK campuses. Five of these are in Scotland.

Alarmed pro-abortion activists took to social media to express their anxieties after hearing of the surge. In response, one pro-abortion group took to Facebook calling for the enforcement of more censorship zones to suppress the pro-life message.

The 2019 Fight For Pro-Life Societies

2019 saw multiple pro-life university societies across the UK gain the right to officially affiliate. As reported by SPUC, a number of student groups had to consider legal action to gain this right.

Notably, Glasgow Students for Life won their right to officially affiliate in 2019 after their Student’s Union was forced to admit that refusing the group breached equality law. Glasgow Students for Life has since flourished at the university and recently raised money for the Alma Mater Fund which supports pregnant and parenting students as part of their pro-life efforts.

Strathclyde Students for Life, Aberdeen Life Ethics Society and Nottingham Students for Life are amongst other pro-life groups which successfully affiliated in 2019.

Changing Attitudes

The appetite for pro-life student groups reflects the shifting public attitude towards abortion in the United Kingdom and the shrill tone of pro-abortionists and their attempts to censor pro-lifers seem to be backfiring.

Despite a lack of media coverage for the pro-life movement in the UK, most people are not in favour of the extreme positions pushed by abortion advocates.

A 2017 ComRes poll revealed that a large majority of 72% of the public oppose decriminalising abortion. A similar ComRes poll in the same year found that only 1% favoured increasing the limit up until birth, (albeit, tragically, abortion up to birth is already lawful for disabled babies and in certain other circumstances) and that women in particular supported more restrictions than there are at present. 

2019 saw over 5000 people attend the London March For Life, whilst recent pro-life demonstrations in Northern Ireland attracted over 20,000 people. SPUC’s pro-life youth conference is also expected to attract a record number of attendees in 2020. 

Published with permission from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

  abortion, censorship, culture of life, free speech, glasgow, good news, higher education, united kingdom


In Northern Ireland, pro-life politicians speak out as UK abortion regime cracks down

Politicians addressed the House with strong pro-life speeches raising multiple concerns regarding the infamous 'Northern Ireland Act.'
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 7:21 pm EST
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Northern Ireland pro-lifers gather outside of Westminster. From left, front row: Councillor Roisin Lynch (SDLP), Anne Brolly (former Sinn Fein), Dawn McAvoy (Both Lives Matter), Carla Lockhart (DUP) Both Lives Matter
Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
By Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

January 13, 2019 (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) — Pro-life politicians from across the United Kingdom have rallied in defence of unborn children and to reverse Westminster’s extreme Northern Ireland abortion regime. Phillip Lynn, SPUC Northern Ireland’s Development Officer said: “It was encouraging to now see pro-life politicians from across the political spectrum speak up for the rights of the unborn child and the devolved powers of Northern Ireland.”

The debate which took place last Wednesday evening in the House of Commons heard politicians discuss the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019, which was implemented in 2019 and is set to fully come into effect by March 2020.

Politicians addressed the House with strong pro-life speeches raising multiple concerns regarding the infamous act.

What They Said

Carla Lockhart, a newly elected DUP MP used her maiden speech to call for a repeal of the abortion law. Ms Lockhart said: “I want today to make the point to this House, on behalf of the many thousands of people across Northern Ireland who take a pro-life stance, that we want to repeal section 9 with immediate effect… I want a society in Northern Ireland that values life, and I want to see services that will help women choose life. We want to see a perinatal palliative care centre, a maternal mental health unit and better childcare services, and that is my ask of this Government. Help us create a culture of choosing life, as opposed to killing an innocent little baby.”

In the build-up to the recent UK general election Carla Lockhart said that she and her DUP colleagues would seek to repeal the recent abortion legislation imposed on Northern Ireland by the UK government in Westminster. SPUC welcomes this pledge, but notes the concern from some pro-life campaigners in Northern Ireland that such a pledge was not outlined in the DUP’s election manifesto or its policy plan document.

Lisa Cameron, SNP MP, spoke of her concerns that the abortion regime would have on people with Down’s syndrome and their families. Ms Cameron said: “I have been contacted by the Don’t Screen Us Out community, who are particularly concerned about the scope of the regulations and the impact on families with Down’s syndrome children.”

Jim Shannon, DUP MP said: “The people of Northern Ireland do not want us to do this. Some 20,000 people — rich and poor, Protestant and Catholic, young and old — stood together at Stormont, rising above political opinion, religious divide and any other consideration, to beg this place not to do this awful thing. Yes, protect women, yes, find a better way, but abortion on demand taking place every two minutes night and day, as on the mainland, is not what we need in Northern Ireland. Some 100,000 people live today because of the legislation in Northern Ireland. We do not have to introduce this radical change.”

Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP said: “Law change has been imposed on Northern Ireland by a coalition of MPs representing seats in England, Scotland and Wales. I think that is inappropriate and wrong.”

The Regime

As reported by SPUC in 2019, the Act was fast-tracked through Parliament and forced on Northern Ireland by Westminster politicians.

The abortion regime is more extreme than the current existing abortion law in Scotland, England and Wales as it aims to impose abortion with ‘unrestricted access…available without conditionality’ which will permit abortions based on factors such as the sex of the baby.

SPUC’s breakdown of the “barbarous” abortion guidelines that are enabled by the Act can be found here

Published with permission from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. This article has been updated.

  abortion, fiona bruce, lisa cameron, northern ireland, united kingdom


Vatican cardinal: ‘Barbaric hatred’ behind desecration of Mary statues in French churches

Cardinal Robert Sarah tweeted: 'Catholics can no longer remain silent.'
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 7:15 pm EST
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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

January 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – “Catholics can no longer remain silent.” In a ringing call of awakening, Cardinal Robert Sarah voiced his condemnation of a series of desecrations that have hit Europe and especially France during the past few days. He tweeted on Friday at 4:39 pm, European time:

“Desecrations are on the rise in Europe. Recent acts targeting statues of the Virgin Mary in French churches, show the extent to which these gestures are the result of barbaric hatred. They call for reaction. Catholics can no longer remain silent. +RS”

A wave of profanations took place in southwest France on Thursday morning, where no less than five statues of the Virgin Mary were found toppled and smashed in three churches on the territory of the parish of Christ the Savior.

The three aggressions took place in less than an hour between 9:30 and 10:15 a.m. in the churches of St. Martin; St. Jacques, where the damaged statue represented Our Lady of Lourdes; and Notre Dame.

Later in the day, in the same town of Pau, some 25 miles to the northeast of Lourdes where Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette in 1853, another statue of the Virgin Mary was damaged in the Nativity scene on display in the church of St. Julien de Lons.

Later still, near nightfall, three more statues of the Virgin were destroyed in the parish churches of the nearby villages of Denguin, Artix and Mourenx, all in the Béarn region near the foothills of the Pyrenees.

In the church of Artix, two women were praying in a side chapel when they heard a loud noise and felt the building tremble “as if in an earthquake,” they said. They quickly went to see what was happening and found the statue broken on the floor, having damaged the altar in its fall. 

In St. Paul of Mourenx, a large and heavy statue, which had been sealed to a marble base 10 years earlier, was also smashed. Parishioners sadly told the local press that their community had already made a collection 10 years ago to pay for a new statue because the former one had also been vandalized. “What do they do it for? Destroying for destruction’s sake,” one local Catholic told La République des Pyrénées. 

“The modus operandi is the same as in Pau, which suggests that these acts of vandalism were committed by one and the same person or group of persons, acting with the same intention as in Pau,” said Olivier Drapé, communications officer of the Diocese of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron.

While a man has been held for questioning by local police, witness accounts of the events do not all concur and one parishioner remarked that “there had to be more than one of them to be able to pull down and topple the statue.”

“Attacking the Virgin amounts to fanaticism,” added André Dureysseix, who found the large and heavy statue of St. Jacques of Pau in smithereens when he went to open the church on Thursday afternoon.

“We don’t understand, and it hurts. Before, they would steal candles, now they are going after statues and in particular the Virgin Mary. Who will be next?” he told France-Bleu radio.

A statement by the Diocese of Bayonne made clear that these events are part of a pattern that is becoming increasingly pervasive. “Generally speaking, the number of anti-religious or racist provocations and attacks (such as the desecration of the Jewish cemetery in Bayonne last weekend) continues to grow in our country, where 1,704 anti-religious acts (1,063 anti-Christian acts, 541 anti-Semitic acts and 100 anti-Muslim acts) were recorded by the Ministry of the Interior in 2018. … It would be irresponsible not to be concerned about them or to downplay their gravity,” it said.

On Thursday, before the four last desecrations had been discovered, Bishop Marc Aillet of Bayonne made the following personal statement that repeated the above statistics.

“Having been informed by Fr. Jean-Jacques Dufau, parish priest of Christ the Savior in Pau, that five statues of the Blessed Virgin have been found overturned and broken in three churches of the parish (Notre-Dame, Saint-Martin and Saint-Jacques), I cannot but react.

“This is not only a totally unacceptable act of vandalism, but a sacrilege that deeply offends the faith of believers, in whose eyes the Virgin Mary is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church and the Mother of us all.

“A complaint was, of course, lodged with the police this morning.


“In Pau, a Mass, followed by a prayer vigil, will be celebrated on Tuesday January 14 at 7 p.m. in the church of Notre-Dame, in reparation for the outrages committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“Let us not be afraid, in these circumstances, to invoke the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary: ‘O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee’.”

Fr. Dufau also spoke with the press, insisting that churches should be able to be kept open. 

“It’s the first time I’ve seen anything like this,” he told the local media. “It shows that nothing has any importance or value any longer. I am deeply saddened and shocked. These statues represent the Virgin Mary, who symbolizes the love of God and the tenderness of a mother; all that has been trampled on.” He underscored that two of the statues that had been destroyed in his parish dated to the 19th century and were classified as works of art.

As to the man who was interrogated “incidentally” in Mourenx on Thursday evening, according to the public prosecutor Cécile Gensac, “a connection was immediately made,” partly thanks to the video surveillance films from Pau. She added that inquiries would continue to determine whether he can be accused of all of the desecrations and acted alone.

The homeless man, 35, who has been living in Pau for years, was questioned at first when he started insulting the police. Once arrested, he maintained a stubborn silence, to the point where the police handed him over to the psychiatry department of the local hospital in Pau, where he will remain until he is deemed capable of answering the police.

French observers will have noted the similarity with reports of recent Islamic attacks against persons in France: as a rule, they are immediately attributed to “unbalanced individuals” with no terrorist intentions.

But it is also true that in the case of anti-Christian attacks on churches and cemeteries, whose numbers have been rising over the past few years, profanations and desecrations are often perpetrated by Satanists or members of the “Gothic” culture who are usually French adolescents and young adults. In all cases, public authorities tend to downplay the anti-Christian nature of these acts, even when they are openly and evidently aimed at the most sacred symbols of Catholicism.

At the time of this writing, local political representatives have voiced their concern and solidarity with Catholics in their constituencies, but there has been no reaction from Pau Mayor François Bayrou or from national politicians.

When a synagogue or a mosque is tagged, government officials usually waste no time making public declarations in favor of “national unity” and against “racism.”

Which is probably why Cardinal Sarah, in his tweet, so urgently called for “reaction,” suggesting that Catholics should underscore the gravity of what is happening to churches and sanctuaries in France and Europe after having been “silent” for too long.

According to “L’Observatoire de la christianophobie”, a website that records anti-Christian acts in France and beyond, the destruction of statues of Our Lady in southwest France are far from being the only desecrations that have happened recently in Europe.

The Observatoire published a series of reports showing that acts of varying gravity have been committed in the past few weeks.

A tabernacle was stolen along with the consecrated hosts contained in a chapel next to the parish church of La Regrippière near Nantes in the West in France on December 30, probably with sacrilegious intentions as precious chalices were left standing in easily accessible cabinets in the same space.

On New Year’s Eve, the Thomaskirche, a historic evangelical church in Leipzig, Germany – Johann Sebastian Bach is buried there – was stoned by unidentified individuals who broke 25 Art nouveau stained-glass windows.

An arson attack on the Christmas crib took place in the Holy Spirit Catholic church of Ratingen, Germany that same night. The next morning, it was found burned down while the building itself had mercifully escaped destruction.

A few days later, in the parish church of St. Marie in the Crozon peninsula near Quimper in Brittany, France, the Christ child was stolen from the Nativity scene, an antique statue weighing about 10 kg. Posters inviting the public to a “living crèche” were found crumpled and torn in the church font.

On January 5, the Christ child was stolen from a Nativity scene in the parish church of Mer-les-Bains on the Channel coast in the north of France. The statue had no particular value but the faithful of St. Martin’s parish church were sentimentally attached to the unusual Baby Jesus sucking his thumb brought back from Portugal by a former rector in the 1960s.

On January 6, in the Belgian town of Vilvoorde, the Nativity scene was completely destroyed by fire. A police inquiry is in progress.

On January 8, two Chaldean Christians discovered that an unknown person had defecated behind the baptismal font of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Elbeuf, Normandy in the North of France. They cleaned up the mess themselves and informed the Observatoire.

  blessed virgin mary, catholic, desecration, diocese of bayonne, france, robert sarah, statues


Publisher confirms Pope Benedict did co-author new book defending priestly celibacy

'I just got a call from Cardinal Sarah. He confirms that Pope Benedict is co-author with him,' Fr. Joseph Fessio told LifeSiteNews.
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 6:10 pm EST
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Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah on the cover of the book "From the Depths of Our Hearts."
Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy
By Dorothy Cummings McLean

PETITION: Support Cardinal Sarah's Defense of Priestly Celibacy! Sign the petition here

Jan. 13, 2020 6:30 EST update: This report now includes a tweet from Cardinal Sarah defending his "close collaboration" with Pope Benedict on the book. 

SAN FRANCISCO, California, January 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The publisher of a book by Pope Emeritus Benedict and Cardinal Robert Sarah on priestly celibacy has confirmed that Benedict did, in fact, co-author the book with the Cardinal. 

Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., the editor-in-chief of Ignatius Press, told LifeSiteNews that "it is ‘fake news’" that Benedict XVI didn’t really participate in writing the book.

“I just got a call from Cardinal Sarah. He confirms that Pope Benedict is co-author with him,” he said.    

Just after LifeSiteNews published this report, Cardinal Sarah tweeted a series of letters from Pope Benedict showing what the Cardinal called his "close collaboration" with the Pope. 

"The attacks seem to imply a lie on my part. These defamations are of exceptional gravity. I give this evening the first proofs of my close collaboration with Benedict XVI to write this text in favor of celibacy. I will speak tomorrow if necessary," he tweeted.

Fessio earlier today told Catholic News Agency (CNA) that claims that Cardinal Robert Sarah had misrepresented the Pope Emeritus’ co-authorship of their work “From the Depths of Our Hearts” were incorrect. 

“Are these people really implying that Cardinal Sarah is involved in a conspiracy to distort the truth?” Fessio asked.

“If Cardinal Sarah is telling [Ignatius Press] that the chapters from Pope Benedict are from Pope Benedict, we take his word for it.”  

Fessio and Ignatius Press stand by the attribution of the book to both Sarah and the Pope Emeritus. The San Francisco-based press has published several books by Benedict XVI. 

Various journalists have spread the rumor on social media. 

According to CNA, a Vatican-based reporter for Spanish COPE radio named Eva Fernandez tweeted a statement that a “source very close to Benedict XVI” said that he had not written the book defending celibacy with Cardinal Sarah and had not given his authorization for the work to be published. Fernandez said also that Benedict had merely provided a work on the priesthood which he was writing.  

Fernandez was echoed by Gerard O’Connell, the Vatican correspondent for the left-leaning America magazine. 

“Benedict XVI did not coauthor the book on priesthood and celibacy with Cardinal Sarah,” O’Connell tweeted.  “....Story coming soon on America magazine.” 

Shortly afterward, however, O’Connell tweeted that America was holding his story. 

“@americamag has decided to hold my story that Benedict XVI did not coauthor the book with Cardinal Sarah on priesthood and celibacy,” he wrote.  

“It wants to get comments from others involved before publishing the story. For the record: my information came from a source close to Benedict XVI.”

The rumor was also taken up by Christopher Lamb of the UK’s left-leaning The Tablet magazine. 

“Report that Benedict XVI never saw or approved the book on celibacy which he is being presented as the co-author of,” Lamb tweeted.

“Benedict, according to a source close to him, simply gave Cardinal Sarah an essay on the priesthood that he had been working on…”

The “source” has not yet been named, but tweets in multiple languages are flying fast around the internet. At least two reporters are alleging that Benedict himself has disavowed the book.  Hendro Munsterm, a Vatican correspondent from the Netherlands, tweeted that “Various sources in Rome report that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI denies having written the book about compulsory priesthood celibacy with Cardinal Sarah.” 

Argentina’s La Nacion is also alleging that the former pontiff has denied having written a book: 

“Benedict XVI did not write a book in conjunction with Sarah. He never saw it, nor did he authorize the cover, nor the fact that a book would be written in cooperation with someone else," a Vatican source very close to Joseph Ratzinger assured La Nación... "It is evidence that there is a publishing and media operation from which Benedict distances himself and with which he declares himself to be completely unassociated," the source added, who asked for anonymity, who did not specify who would be behind such an operation, and who gave the added detail that some months back the pope emeritus was writing some notes on the priesthood, which Cardinal Sarah asked to see. "The Pope Emeritus placed the text at his disposal, knowing that he was writing a book on the priesthood."

Villanova University professor Massimo Faggioli responded to the rumor by tweeting, “Ma roba da matti” (“Craziness”), and one of Lamb’s Twitter readers suggested that the “Catholic Left” has become hysterical.

Certainly, the media seems to be in an uproar since French newspaper Le Figaro broke the news that Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah had written a book in which they defended the norm of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Church. The English biographer of Benedict’s successor Pope Francis, Austen Ivereigh, has suggested that the Pope Emeritus is being manipulated by abusive Vatican “courtiers.

Editor's note: LifeSiteNews' Matthew Hoffman contributed to this report.

  catholic, from the depths of our hearts, ignatius press, joseph fessio, pope benedict, robert sarah


Sir Roger Scruton fought tirelessly for decades to save Western Civilization

In memory of Sir Roger Scruton, Jonathon Van Maren reflects on a previous interview with the staunch defender of Western Civilization.
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 5:17 pm EST
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January 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Today’s episode of The Van Maren Show is a special episode in honor of Sir Roger Scruton, a writer, philosopher, and staunch defender of Western Civilization and its values.  

He passed away yesterday, January 12th at 75 years of age after a battle with cancer. Sir Roger leaves behind a legacy of fighting for beauty, art, culture, and truth. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the UK, has called him the “greatest modern conservative thinker.” 

Sir Roger became an intellectual freedom fighter in 1979, smuggling banned books behind the Iron Curtain in Europe. Even after the wall fell, he continued to fight communism through his writing. Over his career, he wrote over 50 books, including, How To Be A Conservative; The Soul of the World; The Aesthetic Understanding; Beauty. 

Jonathon Van Maren interviewed Sir Roger a few years ago and the two discussed the current state of culture, the need for true beauty in our art, and what we can do to revive our society. 

Watch the full interview here: 

Listen to the interview here: 

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

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

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

  culture war, jonathon van maren, sir roger scruton, the van maren show, western civilization


States prepare for battles overs pro-life bills as 2020 election looms

Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 5:04 pm EST
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Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews
Calvin Freiburger
By Calvin Freiburger

January 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – With the dawn of a new year as well as impending elections, state legislatures across America are gearing up for another year of abortion battles, with supporters and opponents alike preparing legislation of various kinds.

Two measures are pending before the Florida Legislature: SB 404, which requires written parental consent before a minor’s abortion, and SB 734, which bans abortions sought specifically on the basis of a diagnosis or suspicion that a child has Down syndrome.

“This is not a huge departure from current law," said Republican state Sen. Kelli Stargel of the parental consent measure. "Current law has notice — there are already processes in place that handle this, we’re just making the conversation a little bit stronger.” Both bills still have to make their way through the legislature, but if they pass they are likely to be signed into law by pro-life Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

In Iowa, pro-lifers seek to amend the Iowa Constitution with language specifying that the document “does not secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” The amendment comes in response to judicial rulings that have interfered with recent atttempts to enact pro-life legislation.

“We want to make sure that whatever we’re doing on life now is actually going to move us forward and not move us backward,” said Republican state Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver. “We have passed several pro-life bills the last couple years and what has happened is the court has come in and struck all of those down and then not only struck them down, the court has written a right to an abortion into our state constitution.”

Amending the state Constitution would be a multi-year process involving passage in Iowa’s general assembly twice, then ratification by the voters.

Kansas pro-lifers are making the case for a similar amendment to their own state Constitution, meant to correct a Kansas Supreme Court ruling from last April asserting a state-level “right” to abortion. Kansas constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote in the legislature, but could then be put on the ballot as early as August or November.

“We’re really stuck here,” Kansans for Life director Mary Kay Culp told lawmakers at a recent hearing. “They always talk about U.S. constitutional crises – we’ve really got one here in the state of Kansas, because there is no other way to do it from our understanding.” Culp argued that the decision endangers all of the state’s current pro-life laws, which have been credited with cutting Kansas abortions in half.

In Massachusetts, Democrats are pushing the so-called ROE Act, which would allow for virtually unlimited late-term abortions (justified on vague “mental health” grounds), eliminate the state’s current parental-consent requirement, and repeal language language requiring that abortionists “take all reasonable steps (…) to preserve the life and health of the aborted child.”

The bill’s supporters frame it as a necessary precaution for the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court might repeal Roe v. Wade in the near future. It’s expected to clear the legislature, but despite supporting legal abortion, liberal Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has expressed reservations about doing away with parental consent.

Meanwhile, pro-lifers in Michigan and Nebraska are both pushing bans on the dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedure, more commonly known as dismemberment abortions because they function by tearing a preborn baby apart limb by limb. 

Abortion activists have long complained about the “dismemberment” label despite it accurately reflecting the description in the National Abortion Federation’s own instructional materials, and claim dismemberment abortions are the safest second-trimester procedure available (for the mother). Pro-lifers contend that abortionists actually prefer D&Es because they can fit more into their schedule, and therefore make more money.

In Ohio, Republicans support legislation that would fully recognize preborn humans as people in the state and ban all abortions by adding prenatal killing to the state’s existing murder statutes.

“The time for regulating evil and compromise is over,” Republican state Rep. Candice Keller has said. “The time has come to abolish abortion in its entirety and recognize that each individual has the inviolable and inalienable Right to Life. Only respect for life can be the foundation of a free society that supports peace, justice and integrity.”

Many of the above bills and similar measures are sure to face legal challenges if they become law, but some are also meant to provoke those very lawsuits, thereby creating test cases for the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe.

The survival of these laws will also depend on November’s state and federal elections, which will not only decide the majorities of state legislatures but decide whether President Donald Trump or one of his Democrat challengers will be filling new judicial vacancies over the next four years.

  2020 elections, abortion, dismemberment abortion ban, down syndrome abortion ban, florida, iowa, kansas, massachusetts, michigan, nebraska, ohio, pro-life laws, state constitutional amendment


Arizona lawmaker pushes for only two gender options on government docs

John Fillmore's bills were introduced just days after Democrat state representative Rosanna Gabaldon proposed bill HB 2075, which would create a 'nonbinary' choice for sex on driver’s licenses.
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 4:00 pm EST
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John Fillmore
Paul Smeaton Paul Smeaton Follow Paul
By Paul Smeaton

ARIZONA, January 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A Republican state lawmaker in Arizona has proposed three new bills that would make the recognition of the reality that there are only two genders compulsory in state schools, on all state documents, and on birth certificates.

Rep. John Fillmore’s first proposed bill, HB 2080, would prevent any state agency, board, commission, or department from listing anything other than “male” or “female” as an individual’s sex on any document. 

His second proposed bill, HB 2081, would require that birth certificates only list “male” and “female” as options for a newborn’s sex.

And his third proposed bill, HB 2082, would bar schools from forcing teachers or others to use a biologically incorrect pronoun when referring to a student. They would not be forced to use anything “other than the sex or gender pronoun that corresponds to the sex listed on that student’s birth certificate.”

His proposals were made just days after Democrat state representative Rosanna Gabaldon proposed bill HB 2075, which would create a “nonbinary” choice for sex on driver’s licenses.

According the Arizona Capital Times “[a]t least 15 states have ‘nonbinary’ as an option on driver’s licenses and ID cards, most recently Massachusetts which added the option in November.” 

“For thousands of years we’ve had two biological sexes and we haven’t had any problems,” Fillmore told Capitol Media Services.

“So now if you start introducing all of this other stuff you really muddy the waters up,” he continued. “And I don’t think it behooves society, the state of Arizona, and especially the school districts, to be dealing with this.”

“We’ve got to get back to 2 plus 2 is 4 and keep basic educational items to allow our kids to grow up and to function in society,” he said. “And all of this sexual stuff, I don’t think should be out there at all.”

Gabaldon said that she wants to see “Arizona on the front lines of recognizing diversity.”

Gabaldon is also sponsoring HB 2074, which would require that death certificates note the deceased person's “gender identity.”

  arizona, driver's licenses, john fillmore


Critics of Pope Benedict furious over news of new book

One professor suggested there ought to be a law restraining Pope Benedict.
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 2:16 pm EST
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Franco Origlia / Getty Images
Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy
By Dorothy Cummings McLean

PETITION: Support Cardinal Sarah's Defense of Priestly Celibacy! Sign the petition here

VATICAN CITY, January 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― Some of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s most vociferous critics are reacting passionately on social media to the news that he and a leading cardinal have written a book together defending priestly celibacy. 

Yesterday a French newspaper, Le Figaro, broke the news that Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah had collaborated on the soon-to-be released From the Depths of Our Hearts. The French volume will be available on January 15. The English translation of the book will be published by Ignatius Press in February. 

Early reports that both the Pope Emeritus and Cardinal Sarah defended priestly celibacy in the book drove both their critics and their fans to their keyboards.

Joshua McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter suggested that by writing about the celibate priesthood the Pope Emeritus was opposing the plans of Pope Francis. 

“News: Retired Pope Benedict XVI has coauthored a book w/ Cardinal Sarah to defend practice of celibate priesthood in the Catholic Church,” McElwee wrote on Twitter.  

“It comes as Pope Francis is considering allowing married priests in the Amazon region.” 

McElwee said he found this “incredible.”

“As I digest this, I'm realizing how incredible it is [:]A former pope speaking in public about something his successor is currently in the process of considering,” he wrote.

However, there has not been another former living pope since 1415. 

Father James Martin, SJ, of America magazine said that he found the news “hard to fathom” and criticized Benedict for speaking out. 

“I have the greatest respect for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” Martin tweeted.  

“Nonetheless, when he resigned the papacy, he said he would remain ‘hidden from the world,’” he continued. 

“[...] But here, he is speaking out on an issue that was one of the main topics for the recent Synod on the Amazon and is now under consideration by the Pope.” 

Martin, known for his LGBT advocacy, added that people might interpret this action as a “great theologian contributing to the conversation” but that others might see it as “a ‘parallel magisterium,’ which can lead to disunity.”

As one of his Twitter readers noted, Fr. Martin wrote in 2008 that when the newly-elected Benedict stepped out onto the balcony in 2005, Fr. Martin had felt like throwing himself from one. 

Pope Francis’ English biographer Austen Ivereigh accused Cardinal Sarah of having “contempt” for the married men already permitted to become priests. 

“After reading Card Sarah’s words and declarations in Le Figaro, what’s clear is his contempt for Eastern-rite, Ordinariate & other married RC clergy as second-class half measures that ‘wound’ the priesthood — ie a strong rejection of postconciliar popes’ ecumenical approaches,” Ivereigh tweeted. 

In another tweet, Ivereigh made a reference to an “emeritus papacy,” calling it “a mess.” Earlier, he suggested that Benedict had been abused and manipulated into writing his defense of priestly celibacy.

“Reports on emeritus pope’s condition these past months concur: he is conscious for barely half an hour at a time,” Ivereigh alleged

“Yet he has insisted on loyalty [to Francis],” he continued. 

“If he is giving views that undermine Francis it means he is being manipulated by the usual unscrupulous courtiers. #elderabuse.”

Historian Massimo Faggioli also believes that Pope Benedict is “incapacitated” and suggested that there ought to be a law restraining him. 

“Not only is there no canon law concerning the situation created by an incapacitated pope,” the Villanova University professor tweeted, “the Catholic Church evidently also needs a law concerning the situation created by an incapacitated ‘pope emeritus’and his entourage.”

Vatican-based journalist Marco Tosatti took issue with the idea that the Pope Emeritus is incapacitated. 

“It's simply false,” he replied to Ivereigh. 

“I have spoken to people who met BXVI in the past weeks,” Tosatti continued.  

“Fragile body. Lucid mind, very clear vision of what is happening in the world and in the Church. The idea of ‘manipulation’ is ridiculous.”  

Ignatius Press’s founder and editor-in-chief revealed, via the publisher’s online Catholic World Report, that the book is not only about priestly celibacy. 

“Their book is not just about priestly celibacy, important as that is in itself,” said Father Joseph Fessio, SJ.

“It is about, as Pope Benedict describes it in his first paragraph: ‘the lasting crisis that the priesthood has been going through for many years,’” Fessio continued. 

“But it is about more than that; it is about the nature of the Church and of Christian discipleship.”   

Charles Collins of Crux suggested that the Pope Emeritus was not contradicting his successor, pointing out that Pope Francis himself has defended priestly celibacy as the norm. 

He quoted the current pontiff as saying, “Personally, I think that celibacy is a gift to the Church, Secondly I would say that I do not agree with permitting optional celibacy, no.” 

Collins believes that Benedict XVI and Sarah are taking aim at the mainstream media instead.

“According to excerpts in America magazine, the authors expressed concern that ‘the strange mediatic synod had prevailed over the real synod,’ and called on the Church ‘not to be impressed’ by ‘the bad advocacies, the diabolical lies, the erroneous ways by which they wished to devalue priestly celibacy’ in the media reporting of the Amazon synod,” he wrote. 

EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo took issue with the London Times and Austen Ivereigh’s depiction of Benedict’s book as a “stage-managed” rebellion against Francis.

“This is a shameless attack on Benedict XVI,” Arroyo tweeted

“Why not consider what he has written? Instead, some attempt to shut down dialogue when it disturbs them--resorting to personal attacks and slander.”

Cardinal Sarah has entered the fray by saying that LaCroix columnist Christope Henning’s opinion that his and Benedict’s book is against Pope Francis is “wrong.”

“This analysis is wrong,” he tweeted in French. “The book Des profondeurs de nos cœurs is not strictly opposed to the Pope. … In reality we worked in a filial spirit. It is unhealthy to endlessly wish for men of the Church to be opposed to each other.”

  amazon synod, benedict xvi, catholic, married priests, pope benedict xvi, priestly celibacy, robert sarah


Student found dead after viral video of him leading protest against ‘drag queen’ event for kids

21-year-old Wilson Gavin was a devout traditional Catholic.
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 12:11 pm EST
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Wilson Gavin leading a protest shortly before his death
Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug
By Doug Mainwaring

BRISBANE, Australia, January 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Not long after a video of university students chanting “Drag queens are not for kids” to a drag queen at a public library went viral, the protest’s 21-year-old Catholic organizer was found dead.  

While most of the immediate reporting out of Australia suggests that Wilson Gavin’s untimely death is the result of suicide, some friends of the devout traditional Catholic continue to speculate that this may have been murder in retaliation for his involvement in the library protest.    

The viral video shows Gavin and more than a dozen others calmly standing in front of drag queen “Diamond Good-Rim” chanting, “Drag queens are not for kids.” This was during a drag queen story time event at the Brisbane Square Library on Sunday afternoon. 

Gavin was president of the University of Queensland’s conservative Liberal National Club. 

Gavin previously made headlines in Australia when at age 19, he spoke at a “You Can Say No” rally protesting against same-sex “marriage,” saying, “I support what marriage really is and I’m gay.” 

At that time Gavin said in an interview, “They hate me because I'm a conservative and they hate me more because I'm a gay conservative.”  

Gavin himself is reported to have been same-sex attracted and chaste, making his unpopular stand against same-sex “marriage” and transgenderism all the more admirable because of the backlash he endured.   

“Drag queen protester Wilson Gavin’s suicide exposes horrors of online abuse,” blared a headline at The Australian, noting that he had received “a barrage of social media abuse” after the library drag queen story time video went viral. 

At least one Australian politician referred to the pro-family protestors as “ratbags.”

“The alt left harassed and bullied Wilson Gavin, a gay man, for opposing “drag queen story time” until he took his own life,” claimed another Twitter user. “They are directly responsible for his death. If this isn’t a wake up call I don’t know what is.”

“Head of an Australian conservative student group has taken his life after being the target of mass threats & harassment by left-wing activists,” wrote famed journalist Andy Ngo, himself the frequent target of leftist attacks.  

“As current State patron of the UQ LN Club, I’m deeply saddened to hear of the death of Wilson Gavin,” wrote Mark Robinson, member of Australia’s Parliament.  

“Wilson & his friends took a principled stand to protect children from inappropriate sexualisation & gender fluid ideology,” said Robinson. “For that he was treated terribly. Wilson, RIP!”

This story will be updated as more details become available.  

  australia, catholic, drag queen story hour, wilson gavin


Public education has been a war on children for decades

American public schools, by all the usual metrics, have steadily declined for a century. Was this inevitable? Or is there an evil plot aimed at our students?
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 8:04 pm EST
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Bruce Deitrick Price
By Bruce Price

January 13, 2019 (American Thinker) — American public schools, by all the usual metrics, have steadily declined for a century. Was this inevitable? Or is there an evil plot aimed at our students?

The larger pattern is clear. Each year, traditional education has less influence on public schools. Meanwhile, the theories and methods generally called Progressive grow more dominant. Progressives insist that their ideas are superior. What we know for sure is that they are taking over, like killer bees flying up from Brazil.

Another thing is clear. Our Education Establishment is brilliant at concocting attractive jargon and clever marketing slogans, even for the most destructive practices. Who could oppose such melodious proposals as whole language, student-centered learning, higher-order thinking skills, experiential education, cooperative learning, project-based learning, constructivist instruction, Bloom's taxonomy, Common Core, reform math, whole language, discovery teaching, digital literacy, social-emotional learning, and so many more? 

The big question for all of these pretty phrases is elemental: does any of them work as promised? Or is each another attack wrapped as a gift?

Let's look quickly at some of the more harmful inventions:

Literacy: Children must learn to read with sight-words (even though this approach won't work except for children with photographic memories). Progressive instruction has created 50 million functional illiterates. That's our big national catastrophe. 

Common Core Math: Endlessly hyped "reform" methods prevent children from mastering even simple arithmetic. Fewer children are able to pursue STEM subjects. A bust.

Constructivism: Teachers are now called facilitators and can no longer teach. Children must create their own new knowledge. So we have millions of kids who know nothing about their own culture. Constructivism nullifies the whole purpose of schools. 

Memorization: Often demonized and treated as irrelevant. But why? If you can't use your facts in conversation or debate, you don't really possess those facts. The bias against memorization makes education more difficult. (The most inane sophistry in our society is this: all the information you might want is on the internet, therefore you need not bother learning anything. That is just stupid.)

Spelling: There are no rules, according to "invented spelling." And no grammar, either. Children don't need to be taught any of this dull stuff; they will absorb it from the air. Do even professors believe this claim? (Listen to people talking Japanese for a year; find out if you can read Japanese. Not likely.)

No cursive: Cursive is scorned, but it has many advantages. Children are forced to deal with individual letters, which accelerates reading. Furthermore, cursive is often a child's greatest and perhaps only contact with precision, design, and aesthetics. Cursive encourages practice and discipline, and is thus a good antidote to the general slackness found in K–12.

Student-centered classroom: Curiously, this phrase ends up describing a classroom that is teacher-centered, because the teacher's rules must always be followed — in particular, the injunction against traditional approaches. John Dewey makes lack of structure its own structure, its own prison. Kids need structure.

Experiential Learning: Everything has to flow through the child's experiences. But what about the experiences of the parents, the family, and the larger society? If the child's experiences are all that matter, the child's reality is very limited.

Permissiveness: Progressive thinkers like to eliminate rules and boundaries. A lot of children end up dazed and confused. If children want to eat candy and watch TV all day, should they be able to do it?

In general, almost every Progressive idea is like telling children, Don't bother tying your shoelaces. You'll be all right. They won't be all right. They will trip and fall at a much higher rate. That's the story of Progressive education in the U.S.

So yes, there was, and is, an evil plot aimed at our students. Progressive education turned out to be anti-education and anti-American. John Dewey and his followers were obsessed with social engineering. They wanted to make a new kind of child who would prefer a new kind of country, a socialist country. If kids have to be sacrificed in the process, apparently, that was okay.

Several problems present themselves in the case of John Dewey versus America. Dewey and his Progressives never asked permission for anything they did. They thought of themselves as change agents ordained by history. They went to work in the dark of night so that finally, nothing has been left unchanged.

Here are the typical results of all this change (read: subversion). Kids learn to be literate more slowly, if at all. Children no longer master the traditional math basics: adding, subtracting, multiplication, and division, never mind decimals and percentages. They don't learn what used to be common knowledge: oceans, continents, cities, famous people, and important events. Kids remain empty-headed.

John Dewey created what is almost an alternative universe. On his side, there are dishonest jargon, unproven claims, and poor results.

On the traditional side, there is a keen awareness of what should have been. But the historical reality is known. This reality is practiced in good schools around the world. We should join them.

Bruce Deitrick Price's new book is Saving K–12: What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them? (a good gift for smart friends). He deconstructs educational theories and methods at

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

  child abuse, education, public schools


Green insanity, not climate change, is causing Australia’s wildfires

Green folly locked up 11% of Australia in a tinderbox of bushfire fuel, much of which is now burnt or burning.
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 7:56 pm EST
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Viv Forbes
By Viv Forbes

January 13, 2019 (American Thinker) — Australia is has endured some of the worst bushfires in its history. Greens blame climate change, but it's a cover-up. In reality, they have themselves to blame. From here in Australia, it can only be called green folly.

Green folly locked up 11% of Australia in a tinderbox of bushfire fuel, much of which is now burnt or burning.

Green folly closed forest tracks and gates; expelled foresters and timber-workers; and prevented property-owners from removing flammable fuel from their own land and adjacent roads, parks, and forests. Those responsible for these follies should face Class Action.

Green folly promotes electric vehicles, but not one fire truck, dozer, water bomber, helicopter, ambulance, or naval vessel ran on batteries. They all used hydro-carbon fuels — diesel, petrol, or avgas. And with so many power lines down, these electric toys could not have recharged their batteries anyway.

Green folly believed that widely scattered wind turbines, solar panels, and their spider webs of transmission lines would continue to produce power in gale-force firestorms and thick smoke. Many will be burnt. Blackouts are inevitable.

Green folly promotes "green" building materials like timber, which add fuel to fires, while using fake CO2 scares to denigrate steel and concrete, which won't burn.

For decades, green folly opposed every new dam proposal and wasted stored water on another green folly, known here as "Environmental Flows." Dams were emptied, farmers suffered, towns ran out of water, food prices increased, and some fire-fighting water bombers had to take water from private dams.

It was criminal green folly that babbled on about "the climate emergency" while it sponsored forest conditions that caused agonizing deaths for so many innocents — residents; firefighters; livestock; koalas; and other native animals, birds, and insects.

See these stories here: 

Green ideology, not climate change, makes bushfires worse:

The Truth About the Australian Bushfires

Here are the culprits

While our ABC amends the past

Our friends the timber workers

Some Background

Australia cannot afford any more green follies.

Politicians must stop sacrificing Australians on the altar of Green.

Published with permission from the American Thinker.

  australia, climate change, environmentalism, global warming


California governor demands end to euthanasia…for animals, but not people

Misplaced priorities are California’s specialty.
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 7:40 pm EST
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Ljupco Smokovski /
Wesley J. Smith
By Wesley Smith

January 13, 2019 (National Review) — Misplaced priorities are California’s specialty. Here’s an example: Governor Gavin Newsom wants to end euthanasia in animal shelters. From the Sacramento Bee story:

Gov. Gavin Newsom wants California to stop euthanizing animals, and he’s ready to put taxpayer money toward the cause. “We want to be a no-kill state,” Newsom said during a press conference where he presented his 2020–21 budget.

Specifically, Newsom’s budget calls for a $50 million one-time general fund allocation to the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program to develop a grant program for animal shelters, with a goal of helping local communities “achieve the state’s policy goal that no adoptable or treatable dog or cat should be euthanized,” according to the budget summary.

Ironically, as the governor works to save animals from death, California not only legalized assisted suicide but allows encouraging suicide to the terminally ill, and moreover, promulgated a regulation granting access to doctor-prescribed death to dying patients who are involuntarily committed in psychiatric hospitals due to mental illness.

I am certainly not against “no kill” animal shelters. I just wish Newsom were as committed to promoting “no kill” health care.

Published with permission from the National Review.

  california, euthanasia, gavin newsom


Lying bishops put Church’s credibility in extreme danger

It isn’t late-breaking news, unfortunately, that bishops sometimes tell lies. But has anyone ever heard a bishop apologize for a lie?
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 7:04 pm EST
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Pope Francis, far right, watches indigenous ceremony with 'Pachamama' in Vatican gardens, Oct. 4, 2019, Rome. Vatican News / screen grab
Phil Lawler
By Phil Lawler

January 13, 2019 ( — Father Raymond de Souza has an important piece in the Catholic Herald, with a title that tells it all: “We used to believe bishops told the truth. What happened?”

The cases that Father de Souza cites do not involve differences of opinion or questions of interpretation. They involve simple, demonstrable, flat-out lies. Lies told by Church leaders in the US and in Rome; lies noticed by reporters in the secular and religious press, in news-analysis pieces and in straight news stories.

It isn’t late-breaking news, unfortunately, that bishops sometimes tell lies. The damage done by the sex-abuse scandal was compounded by the realization that bishops had almost routinely lied about the status of accused priests — and, as if that weren’t enough, impugned the integrity of parents who were making perfectly legitimate complaints.

But there is still no clear evidence that our bishops know how much those lies have damaged their credibility—how much work they will have to do to recover public confidence. On the contrary there is a cynicism on display: a willingness to lie even in the face of incontrovertible evidence. Father de Souza recalls the “Pachamama” controversy:

Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, insisted that there were no “prostrations,” despite his own department providing video footage of same. His deputy at the press conference applauded his denial, giving the whole affair a rather Soviet feel.

Sometime soon — we’re told — the Vatican will release its report on the McCarrick scandal. Father de Souza wonders aloud: “But who will believe what is being told?”

That’s a fair question. But I have another one. Has anyone ever heard a bishop apologize for a lie?

Published with permission from the

  amazon synod, bishops, catholic, paolo ruffini, sex abuse crisis, theodore mccarrick


Organ donation industry now reaping benefits from assisted suicide

One organ donation organization actively solicits the organs of those soon to be killed by doctors!
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 6:58 pm EST
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Wesley J. Smith
By Wesley Smith

January 13, 2019 (National Review) — My very first anti-euthanasia column, published in Newsweek, warned that societal acceptance of assisted suicide/euthanasia would eventually include organ harvesting “as a plum to society.” I was called an alarmist and a fear-monger, but alas, I was right. In Belgium and the Netherlands, mentally ill and disabled people are killed in hospitals at their request, and then, their bodies are harvested — with the success of the procedures written up with all due respect in organ-transplant medical journals.

Our closest cultural cousins in Canada are enthusiastically following the same utilitarian path, not only allowing organ harvesting to be conjoined with euthanasia, but “medically assisted death” is being boosted increasingly as “a boon.” Note the celebratory lede in this Ottawa Citizen story:

Ontarians who opt for medically assisted deaths (MAiD) are increasingly saving or improving other people’s lives by also including organ and tissue donation as part of their final wishes.

In the first 11 months of 2019, MAiD patients in the province accounted for 18 organ and 95 tissue donors, a 14 per cent increase over 2018 and a 109 per cent increase over 2017. (Figures for December 2019 are not yet available.)

According to Trillium Gift of Life Network, which oversees organ and tissue donation in Ontario, the 113 MAiD-related donations in 2019 accounted for five per cent of overall donations in Ontario, a share that has also been increasing. In 2018, MAiD-related donations made up 3.6 per cent of the province’s total donations[.]

Many of these killed organ donors will not have been imminently dying. They will also generally not have been provided suicide-prevention services as the suicidal ill and disabled who ask for euthanasia are increasingly abandoned to the “death with dignity” mindset in Canada.

It doesn’t even have to be the patient’s idea. Trillium Gift of Life Network, Ontario’s donation organization, actively solicits the organs of those soon to be killed by doctors!

Canada decriminalized medically assisted death in 2016, and Ontario, through Trillium, immediately moved to the forefront of organ and tissue donation through MAiD, becoming the first jurisdiction in the world to proactively reach out to those who had been approved for assisted death to discuss donation. When a death is imminent, whether through a hospital or MAiD, Trillium must by law be notified.

“And, as part of high-quality end-of life care, we make sure that all patients and families are provided with the information they need and the opportunity to make a decision on whether they wish to make a donation,” [Trillium CEO Ronnie] Gavsie says. “That just follows the logical protocol under the law and the humane approach for those who are undergoing medical assistance in dying. And it’s the right thing to do for those on the wait list.”

The clear message being sent to suicidal ill and disabled Canadians — with the active support of the organ transplant community — is that their deaths can have greater value to Canada than their lives. In other words, organ donation as an offshoot of euthanasia has indeed been defined “as a plum to society.”

Someday, Canada will probably dispense with the euthanasia part altogether and go straight to killing by organ harvesting — already being proposed in bioethics and medical journals. That would make for more viable organs, don’t you know. Once one gets past what bioethicists denigrate as “the yuck factor,” there is indisputable logic to that idea, which we could call fruit from a legally poisonous tree.

Those with eyes to see, let them see.

Published with permission from the National Review.

  assisted suicide, canada, euthanasia, medically assisted death, ontario, organ donation, organ harvesting


Vatican doesn’t understand that communist China will never compromise

It’s worth trying to think through why the Vatican thinks the way it does about China.
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 6:43 pm EST
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A giant portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping is carried atop a float at a parade to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 , at Tiananmen Square on October 1, 2019 in Beijing, China. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
Robert Royal
By Robert Royal

PETITION: Support Cardinal Zen's plea to stop the "murder of the Church in China" Sign the petition here.

January 13, 2019 (The Catholic Thing) — China is a large, strange, complex, contradictory thing, even before you get to the large, strange, complex, contradictory, and murderous form of Communism that has come to dominate its various peoples. No one understands it very well. But those closest with a real say — the Hong Kong protesters who know what submission to Beijing means, and Taiwanese voters who roundly resisted mainland pressure in elections this weekend — are united in believing that China is simply not to be trusted.

It’s worth trying to think through why the Vatican seems to have a different view.

Living in Washington, I’ve met any number of sincere and dedicated public figures, as well as many scamps, scalawags, con men, and outright liars. But the few encounters I’ve had with Chinese officials set the gold standard for shameless lying — particularly about religious persecution.

Even secular journalists with little love for religion routinely report these days on China’s increasing outrages against believers. Their reports tend to focus on religious groups Western secularists favor — the 1 million Uighur Muslims in China, for example, who are now being brainwashed in “re-education” camps.

Journalists are much less interested in China’s 100 million Christians (Protestants and Catholics). Or how religious bodies are being brutally “sinicized,” even forced — incredibly — to re-write their scriptures to bring them in line with Communist ideology.

Last week, a Congressional committee on China issued a blistering report, which began: “Observers have described religious persecution in China over the last year to be of an intensity not seen since the Cultural Revolution.” It documented how not only “foreign” religions (i.e., Christianity and Islam) are being squeezed, but even traditional faiths like Buddhism and Hinduism are under a full-court press against religion now.

Just the next day, Pope Francis gave his annual address to diplomats, and did not utter a word about Chinese persecution. Indeed, his 2019 address to the diplomats claimed that the Vatican’s Provisional Agreement with China “is the result of a lengthy and thoughtful institutional dialogue that led to the determination of certain stable elements of cooperation between the Apostolic See and the civil authorities.” [Author’s Correction: An earlier version of this column mistakenly attributed this quotation to the 2020 address. — RR]

How is such stone-blindness possible?

There’s an answer perhaps in A Hidden Life, Terrence Malick’s moving new film about the martyrdom of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian Catholic whose conscience would not allow him to swear allegiance to Hitler. I’ve had an interest in him since I wrote my book The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century.

mea culpa: He was one of my very favorites among many modern heroic and holy figures, almost totally ignored by historians. But I had to write about him as a historian myself, with only the broad outline of his personal struggles as he thought about how his wife and children would have to cope without him. How his friends and fellow villagers regarded him as a traitor (they, of course, felt guilty that they had compromised with evil and took it out on him and his family). How, as the Nazis never tired of telling him, his death would change nothing; no one would ever know about it; his stubbornness would only bring suffering to those he loved.

Some have criticized the slow, lengthy treatment of these matters in the film. But how else to convey what it’s really like to live under relentless persecution, day after day, and deal with tortures and doubts to a degree that would drive most of us mad?

But even that was not the worst. Franz’s pastor and bishop (Joseph Fliesser of Linz) nervously suggested he be obedient to public authorities, as St. Paul counseled (Rom. 13). These men were not monsters, or Nazi shills. They did not intend to destroy the Church, but thought that by passively going along they were actually saving as much of the Church as could be saved, in terrible circumstances. There was also personal cowardice, of course, mixed in with the other motives. They were wrong, massively wrong, as anyone can see today.

Something similar is going on in China right now. The Vatican, by its accord with an evil government, has essentially told Chinese Catholics that they are wrong to remain independent of a regime they see quite clearly is murderous and hell-bent on forcing the Church to be re-defined along lines that will make it harmless to government interests.

Reliable sources say that the same instruments of manipulation officials used so effectively in imposing the “one-child policy” are now carrying out the sinicization of religious bodies.

So where are the bold Catholic voices protesting the intimidation and taming of the Church? We have Hong Kong’s retired Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, who just issued a heartfelt letter to all the Catholic Cardinals, which ends on a personal note to each of them, “Your Eminence, can we passively witness the murder of the Church in China by those who should protect and defend her from her enemies? Begging on my knees, your brother. . .”

There’s been silence about this letter — to say nothing of the horrors it describes — at the highest levels in the Vatican, i.e., Cardinal Parolin, the Secretary of State, who worked out the Provisional Agreement with China, and Pope Francis himself.

We’ve heard from Parolin that we must be patient and keep up hope, but the facts on the ground are beyond dispute: the Church has been had. The belief that “dialogue” — which like “diplomacy” has become something of an idol in certain internationalist circles — is possible with certain forms of evil will someday be seen, as is clear already to many of us, as a foolish experiment that many Chinese — and not only Chinese Catholics — will pay for with their liberties and lives.

And it won’t stop there because other malefactors around the world are watching. If you have to suffer and perhaps die anyway, better to do so like Franz Jägerstätter — as he told his captors, as a free man, although he was imprisoned — than to accept a false peace, which is, sooner or later, only the peace of the graveyard.

Published with permission from The Catholic Thing.

  catholic, china, communism, pietro parolin, pope francis, religious freedom, uighurs, vatican, xi jinping


An awesome resource to help you change minds in our crazy pro-abortion world

'Stuck' covers every question a pro-life person can be asked about abortion.
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 8:21 pm EST
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Jonathon Van Maren Jonathon Van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon Van Maren

January 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Over the past several months, I’ve been asked by readers of this column to occasionally recommend particularly helpful resources to educate and equip in responding to the challenges brought about by the culture wars. In December, for example, I reviewed Pro-Life Kids, a wonderful children’s book by Bethany Bomberger that helps parents introduce this difficult topic to their children in an engaging and age-appropriate manner. This recommendation was met with such a positive reaction that I thought I’d draw attention to some other great resources over the next few months.

One recent release by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (where, full disclosure, I serve as communications director) is a unique and comprehensive resource on pro-life apologetics: Stuck: A Complete Guide to Answering Tough Questions about Abortion. Published by LifeCycle Books as a textbook, author Justina Van Manen combines the foundational work done by apologists such as Scott Klusendorf (The Case for Life), Randy Alcorn (Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Questions), Greg Koukl (Tactics), and Stephanie Gray (Love Unleashes Life) with experience of CCBR’s tens of thousands of face-to-face conversations with the public on abortion to create what I believe to be an essential textbook for anyone who wishes to be fully equipped on the abortion issue.

Stuck covers every possible question a pro-life person can get about abortion, from the basics of biology to abortion procedures to abortifacient forms of contraception to embryonic stem cell research. Each circumstance that could lead to someone choosing abortion — sexual assault, poverty, abusive situations, and so on — is specifically addressed, with sample conversations, dialogue tips, and street-tested apologetics laid out to equip the reader to respond. Testimony spotlights accompany each argument, providing real-life examples of how the dialogue tips and apologetics were used to change someone’s mind on that specific issue. Every argument in the textbook has been used, over and over again, to persuade pro-choice people to become pro-life.

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While many essential pro-life resources already exist — a number of which made up the foundation for Stuck — this textbook is both comprehensive and eminently practical. Sidebars ensure that even corollary questions that often come up in discussions about abortion are addressed (such as “Adoption: Setting the Record Straight” on page 18, which addresses the idea that the foster care and adoption systems are fundamentally broken). CCBR, an educational activist organization that facilitates thousands of face-to-face conversations every year in high schools, on campuses, and on the street, felt that a simple, straightforward street manual that covered every question that comes up would be a hugely helpful resource for the movement at large.

In short: If you want to get one resource that covers everything, this is that resource.

One of the key themes that Stuck emphasizes is that changing someone’s mind on abortion is possible. In fact, in many instances, changing someone’s mind on abortion is far simpler than you might think. At CCBR, we see people change their minds on this issue and become pro-life every single day. Stuck presents the apologetics and conversational tactics that we utilize to change these minds. Additionally, Stuck also addresses “heart apologetics” — how to discuss abortion with people who are not responding to scientific facts, logic, or philosophy because, for example, they or someone they love had an abortion. Sometimes, we have to switch from engaging the mind to engaging the heart. This textbook details precisely how to do that, too — again, with strategies that have been tested and proven to be effective.

This textbook is ideal for classes, homeschooling families, or anyone who just wants to be prepared for tough conversations and wants to be able to change minds on the life and death issue of abortion. I hope you find it useful!

Jonathon’s new podcast, The Van Maren Show, is dedicated to telling the stories of the pro-life and pro-family movement. His latest is a special episode in honor of Sir Roger Scruton, a writer, philosopher, and staunch defender of Western Civilization and its values who passed away yesterday, January 12, at 75 years of age after a battle with cancer. Sir Roger leaves behind a legacy of fighting for beauty, art, culture, and truth. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the UK, has called him the “greatest modern conservative thinker.” 

You can subscribe here and listen to the episode below:

  abortion, books, canadian centre for bioethical reform, education


New book by Pope Benedict, Cdl Sarah rules out female deacons

The impossibility of female deacons has already been 'settled definitively' by Saint John Paul II, wrote Cardinal Sarah
Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 1:25 pm EST
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Cardinal Robert Sarah giving a homily at the conclusion of Chartres Pentecost Pilgrimage, May 21, 2018. Catholic Sat / Youtube screen grab
Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike
By Maike Hickson

January 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A new book co-authored by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah – the Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship – has ruled out the possibility of the Church creating female deacons, a matter that came up at the Amazon Synod that concluded in October. 

On January 12, the story broke that Pope emeritus Benedict and Cardinal Sarah were publishing a book, in different languages, in defense of priestly celibacy. The English edition, titled From the Depths of Our Hearts, will be published by Ignatius Press. LifeSiteNews received a galley proof.

In this book, Cardinal Sarah makes it clear that the female diaconate has been ruled out by the Catholic Church. The “possibility of women being ordained as priests or deacons,” Sarah states, “was settled definitively by Saint John Paul II in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis dated May 22, 1994.” 

Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sarah explicitly state that this book – which contains each an individual essay by Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sarah – was written after many personal and written exchanges between the two of them and they stress the “similarity of our concerns and the convergence of our conclusions.” Therefore, Cardinal Sarah's conclusion on the female diaconate likely reflects Pope Benedict's own position on the matter.

In a chapter titled “The Sacrament of Holy Orders and the place of the women,” Cardinal Sarah states that “the weakening of celibacy shakes the ecclesial edifice as a whole. In fact, debates about celibacy naturally give rise to questions about the possibility of women being ordained as priests or deacons.” After saying that this has been ruled out by Pope John Paul II in 1994, he goes on to quote John Paul II  on this matter: “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

Comments Cardinal Sarah: “To dispute this reveals an ignorance of the true nature of the Church.” He goes on to explain God's plan of “complementarity between man and woman” and to compare it with the “spousal relation between Jesus and his Bride the Church.”
“Promoting the ordination of women,” the African cardinal continues, “amounts to denying their identity and the place of each sex.” 

Cardinal Sarah writes that a woman has the disposition “to receive love,” and the Church, just the same, is receiving “Jesus' virginal love.” “I dare say,” Sarah continues, “that the Church is fundamentally feminine; she cannot do without women.” He also establishes a direct link to Mary, the Blessed Mother, with her “dispositions of listening, welcoming, humility, faithfulness, praise and waiting.” Women, by imitating these characteristics, can recall “these dispositions to all the baptized,” the prelate says.

The role of government of the Church, however, is entrusted to men. Cardinal Sarah calls it “a loving service of the bridegroom for the bride.” “Therefore,” he explains, “it can be carried out only by men who are identified with Christ, the Bridegroom and Servant, through the sacramental character of priesthood. If we make it the object of rivalry between men and women, we reduce it to a form of political, worldly power.”

Cardinal Sarah then explicitly mentions the discussion on the female diaconate: “Nowadays cleverly orchestrated media campaigns are calling for the female diaconate. What are they looking for? What is hidden behind these strange political demands? The worldly mindset of 'equality' is at work. They are stirring up a sort of mutual jealousy between men and women which can only be sterile.”

Placing the discussion on the female diaconate in a political context, Cardinal Sarah makes it clear that these demands are not coming out of the Tradition of the Church and from the context of the Gospel, but, rather, are stirred up by feminist ideas. Such ideas in the Church, however, can for him “only be sterile.”

Showing the important role of women in the Church's history, the African prelate quotes Saint Catherine of Siena's strong admonishment of Pope Gregory XI, whom she reminded of the need to suffer for the Church and to have “a heart which is that much bolder and manlier and does not fear what may come.”

“What bishop, what Pope would let himself be challenged today so vehemently?” Cardinal Sarah then asks and continues: “Today, voices eager for polemics would immediately describe Catherine of Siena as an enemy of the Pope or as a leader of his opponents. Former centuries had much greater liberty than ours: they witnessed women holding a charismatic place. Their role was firmly to remind the whole institution about the necessity of sanctity.”

By quoting Saint Catherine of Siena, Cardinal Sarah reminds us how women have influenced and should influence the Catholic Church for the sake of holiness, even reminding men at times of their own duties. He also quotes Saint Hildegard who “criticized the bishops” and Saint Bridget who “offered recommendations.”

Returning to the question of female ordination, the curial cardinal insists that, also historically, women were always excluded from service on the altar:

“Appreciation for the specific qualities of women is not achieved by way of female 'ministries' that would only be arbitrary, artificial creations with no future. We know, for example, that the women who were called 'deaconesses' were not recipients of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Ancient sources are unanimous in forbidding deaconesses to have any ministry at the altar during the liturgy.”

Rather, he goes on to explain, deaconesses at the time would help, in certain regions, with the “pre-baptismal anointing of the entire body of women,” for the sake of “modesty.”

Cardinal Sarah puts this discussion of female ordination in the context of the questioning of priestly celibacy when he concludes that “questioning priestly celibacy is decidedly a source of confusion about the role of everyone in the Church: men, women, spouses, the priest.”

Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sarah, in their concluding comments at the end of the book remind us “Woe to the one who remains silent.” And they call us to resistance against false intimidations when they state: “It is urgent and necessary for everyone—bishops, priests and lay people—to stop letting themselves be intimidated by the wrong-headed pleas, the theatrical productions, the diabolical lies and the fashionable errors that try to put down priestly celibacy.” 

  catholic, female deacons, female diaconate, from the depths of our hearts, pope benedict, robert sarah, women's ordination

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EpisodesSpecial Reports Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 5:39 pm EST

Sir Roger Scruton fought tirelessly for decades to save Western Civilization

By Jonathon Van Maren   Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon Van Maren

Today’s episode of The Van Maren Show is a special episode in honor of Sir Roger Scruton, a writer, philosopher, and staunch defender of Western Civilization and its values.

He passed away yesterday, January 12th at 75 years of age after a battle with cancer.

Sir Roger leaves behind a legacy of fighting for beauty, art, culture, and truth. Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the UK, has called him the “greatest modern conservative thinker.”

Sir Roger became an intellectual freedom fighter in 1979, smuggling banned books behind the Iron Curtain in Europe. Even after the wall fell, he continued to fight communism through his writing. Over his career, he wrote over 50 books, including, How To Be A Conservative; The Soul of the World; The Aesthetic Understanding; Beauty.

Jonathon Van Maren interviewed Sir Roger a few years ago and the two discussed the current state of culture, the need for true beauty in our art, and what we can do to revive our society.

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EpisodesSpecial Reports Mon Jan 13, 2020 - 4:01 pm EST

We must truly know our faith in order to live it

By Mother Miriam

Watch Mother Miriam's Live show from 1.13.2020. Today, Mother continues to read and discuss the book The Catechism Explained. If you want a deeper understanding of your Catholic faith, you don't want to miss this show!

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

Subscribe to Mother Miriam Live here.