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Finnish police investigate Lutheran cleric for publishing book calling homosexuality a ‘disorder’

Juhana Pohjola is accused of inciting hatred because he's defending 'marriage as created by God.'
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By Martin Bürger

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HELSINKI, Finland, February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland is under investigation by the country’s Prosecutor General over publication of a booklet upholding Christian teachings on human sexuality that calls homosexuality a “disorder.”

Juhana Pohjola, a cleric and dean of the mission diocese, is accused of incitement to hatred against a group and has been summoned to the Helsinki Police Department for a preliminary investigation on Tuesday, February 11.

As the editor-in-chief of the publishing branch of Lutheran Foundation Finland, which includes maintenance of its website, Pohjola is at the center of the investigation.

In 2004, the foundation published a small book called “Male and Female He Created Them – Homosexual relationships challenge the Christian concept of humanity.” The mission diocese reported on its website that Pohjola “is under suspicion for distributing this material to the public and for keeping this material available online.”

In the fall of 2019, Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen ordered an investigation. Her appointment to that position only one year before might explain the fact that an investigation regarding the book was ordered 15 years after its initial publication.

Speaking with the International Lutheran Council, Pohjola declared, “The decision of the Prosecutor General to conduct a preliminary investigation of our publication is surprising, as I believe the police have already thoroughly investigated and concluded that this is not a criminal offense.”

He continued, “It is our job to teach the entire word of the Bible in peace, including on marriage as created by God.”

The book, including its English version, is still available on the website of the Lutheran Foundation. Written by Päivi Räsänen, a Finnish member of parliament for the Christian Democrats, the book states, “Homosexual relationships are clearly considered against the sexuality that was created by God, not only in the Old Testament but even more powerfully in the New Testament.”

While “Male and Female He Created Them” is a Biblically-based book, it does not leave out a discussion of natural law, “The further society disengages from Christian ethics, the greater becomes the necessity to examine the inferences of natural moral law by the special revelation, i. e. in the light of the Word of God. As a result of the Fall into sin, humanity has become morally corrupt, and therefore has a propensity to twist the natural moral law to fit its own selfish interests.”

In 2017, homosexual partnerships were considered “marriage” according to Finnish law.

Räsänen’s book also questions the claim that people are born homosexual.

“Instead, the scientific material unequivocally proves that homosexuality is a disorder of psycho-sexual development,” the book states.

Räsänen, who is also a physician, supports her position by pointing to the fact that people have changed from being sexually attracted to members of the same sex to being attracted to members of the opposite sex. 

On the push for homosexual couples to adopt and raise children, the author commented, “There is no known situation in the history of humankind where two women or two men were capable of reproduction. Thus, nature does not accidentally produce a child with two mothers or two fathers. Gender-neutral parenting is no substitute for the motherhood and fatherhood that is in accord with the order of creation.”

The book added that there is no human right to having children. On the other hand, Räsänen maintained, “children should have the right to both parents, a mother and a father, in their daily lives.”

Months ago, Räsänen was under investigation by Finnish authorities herself on her tweet that criticized the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which is different from the conservative mission diocese, for participating in a “pride” event celebrating homosexuality.

In an interview with Rod Dreher, she told of being “interrogated for almost four hours concerning this tweet.”

“The police asked me if I agree to remove the tweet within two weeks. I answered no. I was asked about the contents of the Letter to the Romans and what I meant by saying that practicing homosexuality is a sin and a shame. I answered that all of us are sinners, but the sinfulness of practicing homosexuality is nowadays denied,” she said. 

Räsänen also explained, “The law does not prohibit this, and it is legal to speak and preach about what the Bible teaches. Freedom of religion is strongly guaranteed both in our Constitution and in the International Human Rights Treaties.”

At the same time, talking about certain issues, for instance, the sinfulness of homosexual acts, is considered to be politically incorrect and frowned upon.

Asked about the future of Christianity in Finland, Räsänen said, “In my opinion, it is specifically Christianity that is being attacked and will be attacked even more aggressively in the future. We are clearly living in a time when the core of the Christianity is being questioned.”

However, she expressed hope that police investigations and a climate of political correctness “won’t lead to self-censorship among Christians.”


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Texas GOP blocks pro-LGBT Log Cabin Republicans from convention and controversy erupts

A debate stemming from dissent from the party platform on traditional values led to the group being excluded.
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February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Tensions are boiling over in Texas over the state Republican Party denying the pro-LGBT organization Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) a booth at its annual convention, highlighting tensions between the party’s traditional conservatism and its more liberal/libertarian factions.

The State Republican Executive Committee voted over the weekend to table a motion to vote on giving LCR’s Houston chapter a booth this year, the Houston Chronicle reported, continuing a trend of snubbing LCR that has persisted for over 20 years.

“There was a decent discussion yesterday and clearly, today after having already had that discussion yesterday, the committee decided not to rehash the lessons that frankly the party’s been considering for a long time,” state GOP chairman James Dickey said. “The discussions I had with members yesterday was how proud I am of how different a heartfelt debate looked like in our party compared to how I am convinced a similar debate on a similar topic would look from the other party.”

“Obviously, we are very disappointed with the decision made by our elected representatives,” LCR Houston president Marco Roberts said in response to the vote. “There were a few courageous members of the SREC who stood with us, even under enormous pressure to refrain from doing so. We owe them our highest respect and deepest gratitude. Many have told us that it is upon us to make the case for ourselves. We agree, and we intend to do that, for us, and for our great party.”

Debate was reportedly heated during Saturday’s meeting, with LCR supporters invoking “equality” and arguing that Republicans could not afford to shun any potential voters, and opponents contending that LCR’s dissent from certain tenets of the party platform disqualified it from participation.

The Austin Statesman’s Jonathan Tilove noted that the Texas GOP’s official platform “affirm(s) God’s biblical design for marriage and sexual behavior between one biological man and one biological woman” and “oppose(s) homosexual marriage, regardless of state of origin.” LCR counters by arguing that participation in the convention requires only acceptance of the platform’s list of 10 principles, which does not mention homosexuality.

Republican state Sen. Bob Hall defended excluding LCR on the grounds that “they don’t have the basic belief in the God of the Bible that we are founded on,” and that the group was on the wrong side of “this abominable sex education that goes on in our schools where they’re trying to push unnatural sex as natural.”

A review of the Log Cabin Republicans of Houston’s website indicates a mixed record on LGBT issues. A speech by Roberts condemns the prospect of forcing a female student “to undress in the presence of someone she grew up knowing as a boy all her life up until high school,” while elsewhere the group touts its efforts to eliminate the GOP platform’s language that “homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental truths that have been ordained by God in the Bible.” 

The group also opposes bills protecting conscience rights and banning transgender restrooms in government facilities, claiming it supports aspects of their underlying intent while concluding the bills’ specific language is unacceptable.

Nationally, Log Cabin Republicans says its purpose is to “to make the Republican Party more inclusive, particularly on LGBT issues,” which conservatives generally take to mean diluting and eventually eliminating the GOP’s traditional conservative stances on marriage, homosexuality, and transgender ideology.


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Pro-aborts vandalize pro-life billboard: 3rd attack in 5 months

'The vandalism is escalating from simply hiding helpful resources to promoting violence...this isn’t surprising because the abortion movement is intolerant to other views and promotes violence.'
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By LifeSiteNews staff

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SOUTH BEND, Indiana, February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – An Indiana pro-life billboard educating the public about the deadly legacy of Roe v. Wade was vandalized this week – the third time in five months that a pro-life outdoor ad in the area has been vandalized.

The billboard was sponsored by Right to Life Michiana and featured a web address that directs people to the website of St. Joseph County Right to Life. It was vandalized with two different tags; one was anti-police acronym “ACAB” and the other was anti-life message “Kill 200.”

The first vandalism of a Right to Life Michiana ad occurred in September 2019, shortly after the discovery of 2,246 fetal remains in the garage of deceased abortionist Dr. Ulrich Klopfer. Four roadside benches promoting resources for women in crisis were vandalized with black paint. The second occurrence was in December 2019, when six roadside benches promoting resources for women in crisis were vandalized in blue paint. On one of the ads, the eyes of the woman in the photo were painted over in blue.

“This is concerning. The vandalism is escalating from simply hiding helpful resources to promoting violence,” said Jackie Appleman of Right to Life Michiana. “Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising because the abortion movement is intolerant to other views and promotes violence.”

Since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, more than 60 million human babies have been killed by abortion. This is more than all the American lives lost in war since the nation’s inception. The purpose of the Roe v. Wade billboard campaign is to educate the community about “the destruction of this immoral decision,” according to Right to Life Michiana.

“Nothing the abortion movement does is going to stop us,” said Outreach Manager Melanie Garcia. “Nothing’s going to stop us from being out there and educating the public on the value of life and violence of abortion.”


News

Southeast Asia bishops ban Holy Communion on tongue in response to coronavirus

Other precautions include forgoing the sign of pace at the Ordinary Form of the Mass, no holy water in churches, and protective cloths in confessionals.
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Dorothy Cummings McLean By Dorothy Cummings McLean

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MANILA, Philippines, February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― Bishops in southeast Asia have banned the traditional method of receiving Holy Communion in the belief that this will help stop the spread of coronavirus. 

Last week, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) sent a letter to all of its dioceses with instructions for greater hygiene during liturgies. Penned by the CBCP Secretary-General Fr. Marvin Mejia, the letter instructs Catholics to receive communion in the hand. 

“The communion in the hand (must) be practiced ordinarily to help prevent further fear from people who are reasonably cautious about this matter,” Mejia wrote. 

Filipino Catholics are also discouraged from exchanging the sign of peace and holding hands while reciting the Our Father. Bishops asked parishes to empty and refill holy water stoups regularly and to fasten “protective cloth” over the grilles of confessionals.  

Meanwhile, the CBCP ordered special prayers for the sick and against the disease. 

The Archdiocese of Singapore published extensive information and advice about coronavirus on its website. In a section specifically dedicated to disease prevention at Mass, it stated that “Holy Communion is to be received only on the hand till further notice.”

“Communion from the chalice is to be suspended till further notice,” it added. 

In Singapore churches, no holy water will be available at the entrances of churches. Instead “alcohol hand sanitizers may be made available near entrances of churches and confessionals.” 

The Archdiocese also banned hand-holding in church and took the opportunity to remind the faithful that they aren’t really supposed to be joining hands at the Our Father prayer anyway.

“It is also to be noted that liturgical laws have consistently not allowed the holding of hands during the Lord’s Prayer during Mass,” it stated. 

Meanwhile, Catholics were instructed to stay home when they are sick and not to participate in Mass or other church activities. They were assured that they are exempted from their Sunday obligation. 

The guidelines for the Archdiocese of Singapore were first published on January 24.

In a blogpost dealing with the interdict on the traditional manner of distributing communion, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf reminded readers that communion on the hand is strictly forbidden at the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. 

“Firstly, it is not allowed to distribute Communion in the hand during the Traditional Latin Mass or when using the Rite for Distribution of Communion outside of Mass, or during sick calls with the older Rituale Romanum. Also, in the older Rite, Communion is not distributed under both kinds,” he wrote. 

“Distribution of communion in the hand would be a serious liturgical abuse, precisely because it deals with the Eucharistic species.”

Regarding the reception of communion at the Ordinary Form of the Mass, the blogger-priest reminded his readers that they are not bound to receive communion every time they go to Mass. 

“If you are dead set against receiving on the hand, period, then don’t even go forward. Don’t make a scene at the communion rail. Make a spiritual communion,” Zuhldorf advised. 

The priest recognizes that receiving Holy Communion on the tongue is the right of the faithful and that forcing the faithful to receive Holy Communion in the hand is against that right, but he stressed that reception of Holy Communion is not, like Sunday Mass attendance, a weekly obligation.  

He also encouraged those who are ill to stay home from Mass. 

“If you are ill or infectious or contagious then you don’t have an obligation to go to Sunday Mass,” Zuhldorf wrote. 

“While it might be laudable from your perspective to offer up the discomfort and make the effort, it might be a violation of both prudence and charity.”


News

Portuguese cardinal allows divorced and ‘remarried’ Catholics to receive Communion

The Cardinal's 'path of discernment' was implemented in the wake of Pope Francis's exhortation Amoris laetitia.
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Archbishop António dos Santos Marto, bishop of Leiria-Fátima, in Portugal, prior to becoming a cardinal, with Pope Francis. www.fatima.pt
By Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – In an article published in January by the Portuguese daily Jornal de Noticias, Cardinal Antonio Dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima officially announced that two divorced and “remarried” couples and a divorced and “remarried” woman have been allowed to receive Holy Communion in his diocese “like any Catholic.” 

Three more couples are following a “path of discernment” which will allow them to receive the sacraments after having shown that “they have a good-faith relationship with God.”

The first-ever couple to have obtained such official permission to receive Holy Communion with the approval of Cardinal Antonio Marto of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal, recently went public about their case.

They are a former female catechist and a divorced man who have been in a civil marriage for 10 years. They have been allowed to receive the sacraments since May 2019 after completing a “path of discernment” organized by the diocese of Leiria-Fatima, in Portugal. 

The “path” was implemented there in the wake of Amoris laetitia which opens the door to such situations.

The names of Rosalia Rodrigues and Gastão Crespo were revealed on Tuesday in the tabloid Correio da Manhã, which specializes in garish front pages and sensational news, and included a short interview with the couple and with Cardinal Antonio Marto. Pope Francis named Marto a cardinal in June 2018, days after Marto published a “Pastoral note” on May 31st, 2018, giving “pastoral guidelines in view of better ecclesial integration of divorced faithful living in a new union.”

Remarkably, the story came out about the same time that the Argentinian press related how the new President of Argentina, Alberto Fernandez, received communion together with his second official mistress, Fabiola Yañez, although he is divorced and is actively working for the legalization of abortion in his country.

In an added twist, the first time Rosalia, 39, and Gastão, 47, from Leiria, received communion as a divorced and “remarried” couple was May 13, 2019: the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima who appeared to three children from May to October of 1917 in the mountain village of the same name, 30 km away. Since then, they say they are “at peace” and once again feel accepted as “children of God.”

Under the headline “The Church reinstates divorced faithful,” O Correio da Manhã added hard-hitting subtitles: “The diocese of Leiria-Fatima opens the door to spouses in a second union” – “Rosalia and Gastão were allowed to return to Communion and thank the Pope.”

“We’ve gone from a wounded heart to a heart at peace. Thank you, Pope Francis,” Rodrigues told the daily.

Both were actively Catholic before they entered into an adulterous union. According to the Correio, they married civilly 10 years ago and found themselves obliged to “limit their participation in the Church.”

Said Rosalia: “It was painful. It felt like a big gash. I was a catechist and a minister of Communion. I realized, in the moment in which I was getting married, that I would be in a state of adultery.” Gastão added: “We never received Communion again. It didn’t make sense to be in a state of sin. I remain married for the Church and we accepted that consequence.”

It was only when the diocese of Leiria-Fatima, explicitly quoting Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, opened special sessions for divorced and “remarried” Catholics that “a light started to shine in the lives of Rosalia and Gastão,” wrote the Correio. They followed the sessions set up by “Don Antonio’s” pastoral note, which explicitly follow the orientation given by Amoris laetitia. They also quote as a source the guidelines of the Bishops of Greater Buenos Aires, “approved as authentic magisterium by a letter from the Pope,” and those of the Bishops of Germany, Malta, and Emilia-Romagna in Italy. All these directives read Amoris laetitia as allowing the sacraments to be given to divorced and “remarried” couples who remain in their illicit union although their Church marriage was not judged null and void by an ecclesiastical tribunal.

In the same popular newspaper, Cardinal Marto answered the question as to why he “decided to adopt the Pope’s vision for the family.” 

“A path had not yet been found for divorced spouses allowing them to be reinstated in the life of the Church and the Christian community, which in this case, can lead to full integration of the sacraments. No one can remain condemned forever, that’s what the Pope said,” he answered.

“Does the Church need to adapt to the times?” the journalist asked him. “Right. It must welcome these families, but this is not only the affair of priests and bishops, communities must do the same,” said Cardinal Marto.

He formally presented the implementation of his “path of discernment” when he inaugurated a new “Support Center for Families” (“Centro de Apoio a Familia, CAF) in the diocesan seminary of Leiria. It caters to families in crisis with a team of 21 volunteers who will give them free psychological, medical, legal and spiritual counseling. 

“The family is the best and most valuable intangible heritage of humanity,” said Cardinal Marto. According to the Jornal de Noticias which reported on the inauguration ceremony, the CAF will try to help couples stay together, but it also hopes to “help future divorced couples also to follow this process” of discernment.

Last June, a report on Rosalia Rodrigues and Gastão Crespo, complete with a picture of them with Gastão’s son by his Catholic marriage and the three small boys of the “blended family,” all smiles, was published by their parish journal and then picked up and republished by the communications office of the diocese of Leiria-Fatima. It was titled “A testimony of life.” 

Rosalia and Gastão explained that despite having entered into a civil union, they never missed a Sunday mass and made sure their boys were baptized and received catechism. Had Cardinal Marto not instituted his “path of discernment,” things would have remained that way. It was the existence of this “path” that led them to decide to take steps in order to receive the sacraments. 

The June article did not reveal that they did exactly that on May 13 – perhaps it was written before – but in it Rosalia and Gastão said that “lately,” they had been “asked” and had “accepted” to become catechists and to join their parish commission. 

They also recounted how they had met some time after Gastão’s divorce in 2006: “We fell in love responsibly and it is with full conscience of the religious consequences of our union that we decided to get a civil marriage in 2009.”

Rosalia was a full-time parish social worker and catechist in Santarém (the seat of a spectacular Eucharistic miracle in the 13th century). Gastão was also a catechist and active in the Church. He married in 1998 and had a son. He said he “tried in every possible way” to find reconciliation with his wife, but without success. He also said his marriage was a “conscious and responsible” one for both himself and his wife and therefore valid: “there was no room for a process of nullity.” Besides looking closely after their son, Gastão says he has kept up a “cordial relationship” with the boy’s mother.

The “path of discernment” led Rosalia and Gastão to join bi-weekly two-hour sessions for six months. “At the end of this whole magnificent path, we feel called to the matrimonial vocation and to be even closer to God, even without being united by the sacrament of Matrimony,” they said.

They hope to be “an example” for other couples living in a second union.


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Catholic university presidents ‘warmly welcome’ pro-gay message of Fr. James Martin

Catholic colleges should host 'Lavender Graduations' and call students by pronouns that do not correspond with reality, the Jesuit argued.
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Fr. James Martin. James Martin / Twitter
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SIGN THE PETITION: Bishops, please stop Fr. Martin's LGBT advocacy! Sign the petition here.

ANALYSIS

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – At a meeting in the nation’s capital, Fr. James Martin, S.J. – the most prominent clergyman arguing for the normalization of homosexuality and transgenderism within the Church – addressed 150 Catholic college and university presidents, urging them to promote “inclusion” on their campuses by promoting “LGBT-affirming liturgies,” permitting students to choose their own pronouns, and holding “Lavender Graduations.”  

Martin offered his remarks at the annual meeting of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU), where school presidents were joined by nearly 200 top staff for a three-day conference at D.C.’s swanky Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

ACCU President Fr. Dennis H. Holtschneider said the group “welcomed Martin very warmly,” according to The Washington Post.  

Holtschneider told the group that the session was not about “challenging Church teaching” but about “delving into it.”

Jim Towey, past president of St. Vincent College and Ave Maria University – two schools with reputations as orthodox Catholic institutions – expressed receptivity to Fr. Martin’s message. 

The “perception by some of Pope Francis’s openness on LGBT outreach,” indicates that “there is a shift underway,” Towey told the Post. “Martin’s talk could signal the beginning of a larger debate on these contentious issues.” 

Martin’s presence at the ACCU meeting may very well be evidence of a quiet seismic shift in some Catholic schools: A serious erosion of their Catholic identity and a further abandonment of Catholic moral teaching.  

Last summer, the alumni publication of Mount St. Mary’s University, a Catholic institution in Maryland which until recently was seen as a bastion of orthodoxy, included for the first time an “engagement” announcement for a same-sex couple.

“One dean of a university in the Northeast said that while you may have trouble with ‘reluctant trustees, bishops[,] or other constituents’ over the moral case, the practical case is strong,” recounted Martin.  

The gaying and transgendering of Catholic Schools

Martin filled his speech with suggestions for making Catholic campuses “more inclusive,” often drawing from the experience of senior staff who have already forged ahead with normalizing homosexuality and transgenderism at their schools.    

Martin avoided speaking about the Courage Apostolate and how it might help “LGBT students” to live chaste lives in accordance with Church teaching. 

Instead, he chose to speak about “the undercurrent of ‘conversion therapy’ that runs through our church like a polluted stream.” 

Yet no one in the Catholic Church advocates for so-called conversion therapy. It is a term which pro-LGBT activists like Martin employ in order to discredit and undermine the efforts of those with unwanted same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria to seek psychological counseling in the pursuit of wholeness and happiness.

Selectively quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Martin asserted that treating same-sex attracted and gender-confused students with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” requires using pronouns that do not correspond with reality and enshrining “sexual orientation and gender identity” into nondiscrimination policies.

He argued: 

  • Calling people by the names and pronouns they choose is part of respect;
  • Providing L.G.B.T.-inclusive benefits reflects compassion;  
  • Including sexual orientation and gender identity in nondiscrimination policies shows sensitivity. 

Martin proposed:

  • Highlighting L.G.B.T. faculty and staff as role models;
  • Introducing L.G.B.T.-affirming spiritualities, theologies, liturgies;
  • Following the example of a Catholic school which has a Lavender Graduation, where L.G.B.T. faculty and staff wear purple stoles over their academic regalia;
  • Allowing transgender students to “live in housing that matches their gender identity”; 
  • Ensuring that school health insurance should cover gender “transition”-related services;
  • Ensuring that students can change their names/gender on records, and that faculty members use the student’s preferred name and pronouns.

Resisting Fr. Martin’s advice

Janet Smith, recently retired professor of moral theology at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan, challenged Catholic school leaders who might easily accept Martin’s message.

“Any university or college president who does not subject each and every claim of Martin to a close analysis doesn’t deserve the position,” Smith told LifeSiteNews. “It won’t take long; his arguments fall like a house of cards for anyone who possesses the least amount of logical skills.”  

“And if these presidents aren’t objecting strenuously to being subjected to Martin’s blather when they could be getting guidance on these difficult questions based on legitimate science, and sound philosophy and theology, they don’t know what the responsibilities of Catholic education entail,” she continued. 

Smith pointed out the flawed nature of Fr. Martin’s presentation:

Saint John Paul II taught that our dignity lies in our ability to know the truth and our freedom to act in accord with it.  Sadly, unsurprisingly, the word “truth” never appears in Martin’s speech. 

He studiously ignores the truth that no scientific studies establish that transitioning from one sex to another has any real benefits; he does not take up the truth that operations to change people’s sex are acts of harmful mutilation; he never talks about the need to understand God’s plan for sexuality; to see that the body expresses our calling to live lives of complete self-giving.  

“This only serves to remind Catholic families of the importance of choosing colleges that fully embrace the Catholic faith, without reserve,” Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society, told LifeSiteNews.  

“The most compassionate educators are those who teach and witness to the Church’s wisdom and moral clarity. Others who compromise their witness and fidelity do great harm and burden young people with confusion and despair. We see it across the world today.”

Although Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, was unavailable for comment, he recently took to Twitter to criticize an upcoming Fordham University pro-homosexual Catholic ministry conference which Martin had promoted.

“May those who join in this Conference share the full message of Catholic teaching. If Catholics minister without calling sinful behavior sinful then their work is neither truly Catholic nor true ministry. True compassion calls the person from sin to virtue.”

LifeSiteNews reached out to an array of bishops, Catholic university and college presidents, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – all of whom either declined to comment on or ignored LifeSite’s invitation to offer reactions to Martin’s speech.  

Martin’s past record 

Fr. Martin’s lengthy record of pro-gay activism ranges from his many speeches and media appearances promoting homosexuality to his retweeting of a complaint that priests can’t “bless” gay unions to suggesting that the Church is full of “homophobia” and “marginalizes” the same-sex attracted.

He supports gay men kissing each other during the sign of peace at Mass, says that a Catholic attending a same-sex “wedding” is like attending a Jewish wedding, and suggests that his critics are secretly gay themselves.

The Jesuit says homosexual priests should “come out” about their sexual proclivities, but has publicly declined to say whether he himself is gay.

In 2018, he told participants at the World Meeting of Families in Ireland that active homosexuals “should be invited into parish ministries” specifically mentioning them becoming “eucharistic ministers” in order to make them welcomed and accepted in the Catholic Church. 


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Vatican doctrine office never saw Amazon Synod draft that ‘opens door’ to married priests

'What is Pope Francis’ strategy? What twist will he keep for us at the last moment?'
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Diane Montagna By Diane Montagna

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By Diane Montagna

ROME, February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – New details have emerged regarding a draft text of Pope Francis’s widely anticipated summary document on the Amazon Synod that is said to “open the door” to abolishing priestly celibacy in the Latin Church.  

According to Italian historian Roberto de Mattei, multiple sources have confirmed that neither the Vatican Secretary of State nor the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were given the partial draft of the apostolic exhortation that Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes sent to at least several bishops conferences in mid-January.

On Friday, January 31, Roberto de Mattei, president of the Lepanto Foundation and director of Corrispondenza Romana, reported based on documents received from several bishops, that a partial draft text had been sent to members of the episcopacy by Cardinal Hummes that would lead to a widespread weakening of priestly celibacy in the Latin Church.   

Cardinal Hummes, who served as General Relator at the October 2019 Amazon Synod, has long advocated a change in the discipline of priestly celibacy. The Brazilian cardinal made headlines in 2006 when he argued that “even though celibacy is part of Catholic history and culture, the Church could review this question, because celibacy is not a dogma but a disciplinary question.”

According to documents received by Corrispondenza Romana, the partial draft text that bishops received from Cardinal Hummes reproduced verbatim paragraph 111 of the Amazon Synod’s final document. In paragraph 111, the synod fathers proposed ordaining married men in “the most remote areas of the Amazon region.” 

De Mattei argued that the positive inclusion of this passage in the apostolic exhortation (whether in the main body or a footnote) would effectively “open the door” for the German Bishops, and others, to create a married clergy. “There is no reason to prohibit in other regions of the world what will be permitted in some parts of the Amazon,” he wrote.

In comments to LifeSite on February 5, de Mattei expanded on his initial report, saying: “It is known that, on January 13, Cardinal Hummes sent a letter to all the bishops to make them aware of the imminent release of Pope Francis’s Post-Synodal Exhortation.” 

De Mattei continued: “Based on absolutely sure sources, Corrispondenza Romana revealed the existence of a subsequent letter, sent sub secreto by Cardinal Hummes himself, in which paragraph 111 of the Amazon Synod’s final document is presented as part of Pope Francis’s Post-Synodal Exhortation. But it seems that the document approved by the Congregation for the Faith does not contain this passage.” 

He added: “It seems impossible to imagine that Pope Francis was unaware of the initiative of Cardinal Hummes. But then what is Pope Francis’ strategy? What twist will he keep for us at the last moment?”

Were two parallel initiatives set in motion? And if so, why?

It is still premature to say what the final outcome will be. The apostolic exhortation is currently in translation and is expected to be released on February 12, 2020.  


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BREAKING: Senate votes to acquit Trump on impeachment charges

The vote ends a months-long legal battle and gives Trump another potent talking point going into his re-election battle later this year.
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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The United States Senate voted to acquit President Donald Trump of both articles of impeachment Wednesday afternoon, ending a months-long political battle and giving Trump another potent talking point going into his re-election campaign later this year.

52 voted “not guilty” and 48 “guilty” on the first article, while 53 voted “not guilty” and 47 “guilty” on the second article.

The impeachment push was sparked in September by Trump’s requests that the Ukrainian government help investigate foreign interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden’s role in the ouster of a prosecutor who had been investigating his son’s business dealings in the country.

Trump’s defenders argue it’s legitimate for world leaders to request assistance in rooting out a previous administration’s potential corruption; his opponents claim it was at the very least inappropriate given Trump and Biden’s political rivalry, and a serious abuse of power if Trump made congressionally-authorized foreign aid a condition of compliance.

Specifically, the two articles of impeachment accused the president of “abuse of power” in his requests to Ukraine, and “obstruction of Congress” for the administration’s non-compliance with House subpoenas.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted 230-197 in December to impeach the president, but it was always considered unrealistic that the Republican-controlled Senate would vote to remove him from office. A 67-vote supermajority would have been required to convict and remove Trump, though a simple majority voting to acquit on both counts gives Trump a rhetorical vindication on top of allowing him to remain in office.

At National Review, former federal prosecutor and conservative legal analyst Andy McCarthy concluded the charges against Trump “range from insignificant to implausible to inane,” with the vague “abuse of power” meant to mask the “lack of an identifiable crime” on the president’s part. As for the obstruction claim, he argued that disputes between government branches over information requests often hinge on debatable issues of executive privilege or legal confidentiality, and as such “are meant to be resolved by politics, not judges.”

Every Senate Democrat voted to convict Trump on both articles, including perceived “moderate” Sens. Doug Jones of AlabamaKyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, as well as presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), a longtime critic of the president, was the only Republican who voted to convict (albeit on abuse of power, not on the obstruction charge), provoking conservative ire and enabling Trump’s left-wing detractors to claim the vote was “bipartisan.” Liberal Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who were perceived as potential swing votes, both chose to acquit Trump.

President Trump has not yet issued a statement on the outcome, but did tweet the above video following the vote, which humorously suggests his detractors will be stuck with him far longer than four years.


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University ordered to pay $243k after denying pro-life students money, funding ‘LGBTQA Pride Center’

The Gender Equity Center and the LGBQTA Pride Center received a combined $296,498 to funds its activities—57 times more than all other 100 student groups combined. However, the California State University-San Marcos wouldn't give funds to pro-life students for a speaker.
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By Paul Smeaton

SAN MARCOS, California, February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A pro-life club at the California State University (CSU) campus of San Marcos has achieved a major legal victory, after a settlement agreement required their university to change its policies to no longer discriminate against pro-life organizations and pay the pro-lifers’ $240,000 in legal fees and $3,000 in damages.

The Students for Life (SFL) chapter had brought a federal lawsuit against the university. They claimed that they were denied university funding to host pro-life speakers, while mandatory student government fees were being used to sponsor the so-called Gender Equity Center and LGBTQA Pride Center.

Students at the university are required to pay mandatory fees to the student government. From those fees, the Gender Equity Center and LGBTQA Pride Center was reportedly receiving nearly $300,000 annually with no strings attached.

In contrast, other student clubs, including Students for Life, have only been allowed to apply for $500 per semester, which cannot be used for honoraria or speaker fees. 

“In the 2016-2017 academic year, the Gender Equity Center and the LGBQTA Pride Center received a combined $296,498 to funds its activities—57 times more than all other 100 student groups combined—compared to the less than $6,000 that was actually distributed to all 100 other student groups,” read a statement from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the pro-life student group.

In August 2019, a federal court ruled that the university’s policies unconstitutionally discriminated against views the university didn’t favor.

As part of the settlement CSU, the largest four-year university system in the country, has agreed its revise policies so as not to discriminate in favor of particular viewpoints across all of its 23 campuses. Former SFL-San Marcos president Nathan Apodaca has also been awarded a refund of his $300 mandatory student government fees.

The settlement states that the student government is now required to adopt “viewpoint-neutral standards” for the allocation of mandatory student fees to any registered student organization “that involves viewpoint expression.” They must comply with the Supreme Court’s 2000 ruling in a similar case, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System v. Southworth.

The student government must not “discriminate against any funding request based on the viewpoint to be expressed by the RSO or proposed event.” If funding applications are “denied or reduced” then reasons must be given for the decision, as well as a “right of prompt appeal.”

“Just because an idea might offend us doesn't mean it's wrong and just because we're completely okay with a certain idea doesn't mean it's right,” Apodaca said in a video produced by ADF when the lawsuit began back in 2017.

“Ultimately, our clients’ goal was to ensure the policies were changed and all students’ freedoms are protected,” Caleb Dalton, the ADF legal counsel, told The College Fix.

In a statement announcing the settlement, Dalton said: “Public universities should encourage all students to participate in the free exchange of ideas, not create elaborate and secretive funding schemes to fund their favorite groups while excluding opposing views from equal access.” 

The settlement agreement reportedly bars the Gender Equity Center and LGBTQA Pride Center from funding via mandatory student fees, retroactive to July 1, 2019. The student government may not use mandatory student fees “unless and until” it adopts viewpoint-neutral criteria for funding applications.

In last year’s federal court ruling that the university’s policies were unconstitutionally discriminatory, Judge James Lorenz’s ruled against “qualified immunity” for CSU Chancellor Timothy White and then-President Karen Haynes of CSUSM. This means that if a settlement hadn’t been reached, they could have been held personally liable. 

Dalton said that this ruling gave the plaintiffs “the leverage to make this [the settlement] happen.” 

He added: “Thankfully, the end result is a change of policy, not only on the San Marcos campus, but a directive from the Chancellor that the entire Cal State system review and revise its policies.”

“Public universities have no right to use their power, including mandatory student fees, to fund speech they prefer while blocking speech they don’t like,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. 

“Because of the initiative and courage of student leaders at Cal State-San Marcos, pro-life students at public universities across California will benefit from the administration’s policy reversal. Pro-life students should have every opportunity available to them that pro-abortion students enjoy, and anything less is a failure on the part of the university to abide by the First Amendment. Schools cannot use the power of the purse to punish students who value mothers as well as their preborn babies.”


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EXCLUSIVE: Canada conservative leadership candidate would return party to male-female marriage definition

'So we need to go back to the definition of marriage with the union of a man and a woman,' Richard Décarie said in an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews.
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By Lianne Laurence

MONTREAL, Quebec, February 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Richard Décarie says he’s running for leader of the Canada’s Conservative Party to return it to its roots and correct the “Liberal-lite” leftward swing it’s taken under the influence of “red” Tories.

“I think the leadership of the Conservative Party needs to be changed drastically,” the Quebecer and former Stephen Harper staffer said in an exclusive interview for LifeSiteNews with Georges Buscemi of Campagne Quebéc-Vie.

Part of that change would include returning the party to the definition of marriage as the “union of a man and a woman,” he said. 

Indeed, Décarie’s candidacy stands in stark contrast to that of alleged front-runner, former MP Peter MacKay, as well as MPs Marilyn Gladu and Erin O’Toole, all of whom say they’ll march in the homosexual Toronto Pride parade the day after the new leader is announced at a Toronto convention June 27. (O’Toole has made his participation contingent on the police being allowed to march as well.)

The Conservatives must decide in this race if they truly are the “big tent party” Harper built in 2004, Décarie said.

And in his view, that means the party must recover the centre-right position it had under the former prime minister, and more particularly, go back to what it was before 2016.

That’s the year Conservative delegates at a Vancouver convention voted 1,036-462 to nix the policy supporting the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Canada legalized homosexual “marriages” in 2005, but dropping the policy was “a mistake,” Décarie said.

“I’ve been fighting with Mr. Harper in 2004 against the definition of marriage that the Liberals were trying to present,” he told Buscemi. 

“So we need to go back to the definition of marriage with the union of a man and a woman, and then the rest of the unions will be covered by civil union.”

Former MP Brad Trost, who came in fourth in the last leadership race and is now chairing Décarie’s campaign, was the de facto leader at the Vancouver convention for those who opposed dropping the definition of traditional marriage.

Trost said at the time deleting the policy didn’t mean the Conservatives endorsed same-sex “marriage,” but that the party was neutral on the subject.

But Décarie’s view, as well as his observation that homosexuality is a “choice,” have led some high-level Tories to claim the party should bar him from the race for alleged bigotry.

There’s also been suggestions in the media the leadership committee could disqualify him on the grounds he doesn’t adhere to party policy.

This “makes no sense,” counters Décarie, pointing out policies are by definition subject to change. 

“I was challenged in this race, saying that I go against the party rules or policies,” he told Buscemi. But the policies “were changed in 2016, why not change them back if it’s necessary?”

The firestorm over Décarie’s views on homosexuality has eclipsed his views on abortion, which he says is not health care because pregnancy is not a disease, and so therefore, abortion should not be covered under Canada’s public health insurance plans. Although health care is administered by the provinces, the federal government provides a large share of funding for it under Canada Health Act, Décarie said.

So if the federal government stops "financing or funding abortion, it will be easy for the provinces to decide whether they will finance it themselves, or, they will decide to abandon it," he said.

Décarie said he has no proposed legislation to curtail the expansion of euthanasia, but that “my perception is that life is starting at the conception until the natural death” and this “would set the base for debate” within the party.

“I’m always surprised to see the progressive Conservatives, more red Tories, are against debating those issues, saying it’s settled. It’s never settled,” he said.

“We’re in politics to debate and I am proposing all those issues to make sure that they are well debated, and not imposed like the Liberal Party is doing.”

He supports allowing Members of Parliament to bring forward private member’s bills, noting that Justin Trudeau’s father Pierre told “his MPs that they had no power other than the day of election.”

Décarie denounced the controversial Yale telecommunications report that recommends the Liberal government massively expand the CRTC to regulate the internet and require that media be licensed to operate in Canada.

“Liberalism is socialism by the back door and that’s the proof of it, you know,” he said. “In communist countries you have the control of the information and all of that. I’m for freedom, the Conservative Party should be for freedom.”

Décarie supports a decentralized federal government and more autonomy for the provinces, stricter immigration laws, and banning private advertising from the CBC.

He initially said he’d run to oppose one-time Liberal Quebec premier Jean Charest’s candidacy.

But as Buscemi pointed out in the interview, Charest apparently decided against running because, according to an unnamed party source quoted in French-language daily Le Devoir, internal polls revealed one-third of the party opposed abortion and same-sex “marriage.”

Those are the views Andrew Scheer, the Conservative leader whose resignation in December kicked off the race, held at one point and likely still does, but as leader he insisted the party would not reopen the abortion debate on any level.

Scheer “didn’t apply his own values, his personal values, to the party, and all the people that elected him were very deceived,” Décarie said.

Moreover, “red Tories” like MacKay claimed Scheer “lost the election because he’s a social conservative,” Décarie said. “I think it’s the opposite. Let’s bring back that philosophy.”

It was MacKay’s implied threat that social conservatives weren’t welcome in the party that motivated Décarie to persevere in his leadership bid after Charest bowed out, he said.

Décarie is not the only social conservative candidate in the race. Rookie Ontario MP Derek Sloan has also thrown his hat in the ring, and has already received media backlash for his views.

Aspiring candidates must submit 1,000 signatures of party members from a minimum of 30 ridings in at least seven provinces and $25,000 by February 27, at which point they’ll be vetted by the committee, including having to answer a 42-page questionnaire. 

If they pass that hurdle, they must submit another 2,000 signatures and the balance of a total of $300,000 by March 25.

The financial requirement shows the party obviously wanted to limit the number of candidates, Décarie said, adding that a far more fitting criteria would be proficiency in both official languages — possibly a shot at MacKay, who can’t speak French.

Campaign Life Coalition is urging Canadians 14 years of age and older to buy a membership in the Conservative Party of Canada as soon as possible to be able to vote for the next leader.


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Trump’s widely praised State of the Union speech scorned by liberals

The President's address impressed conservatives and moderates, but the Left took issue with honoring Rush Limbaugh.
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Talk show host Rush Limbaugh was stunned to receive the Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union address.
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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump’s annual State of the Union address won rave reviews from right-of-center observers for its tone and content, while left-wing reactions tended to center on one of the guests the president recognized, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unusual action afterward.

Trump touched on a wide range of topics during the speech, from calling on Congress to ban late-term abortions to reiterating the administration’s commitment to conservative judges and religious liberty. But the most memorable moments involved the guests in attendance.

One of those guests was military wife Amy Williams and her two daughters, whom the president shocked and delighted by announcing the return of her husband, Sergeant First Class Townsend Williams, from deployment during the speech:

The other, more controversial moment came when the president recognized talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh, who announced Monday that he has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Trump caught the veteran pundit in a rare moment of genuine surprise when he announced and awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom on the spot:

Democrat, left-wing, and anti-Trump observers heaped scorn on the move (with more than a few confusing the Medal of Freedom, a civilian award for all manner of charitable ventures and cultural contributions, with the Medal of Honor, which is for gallantry in military service):

Conservatives reacted much more warmly to Limbaugh’s moment, and to the address more generally:

Lastly, much has been made of Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripping a copy of the speech in half just after the president concluded:

Pelosi reportedly defended the move Wednesday during a private meeting with fellow Democrats, declaring that Trump “shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech.” Republicans condemned the act as petty, while Jody Jones, a SOTU guest whose brother was murdered by an illegal immigrant in 2018, said it “felt like she ripped our hearts out.”


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Victim calls on Vatican to remove US bishop who blackmailed him to keep silent about sex abuse

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By Paul Smeaton
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Bishop Michael Hoeppner of Crookston, Minnesota

CROOKSTON, Minnesota, February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – An abuse victim is calling on the Vatican to remove a U.S. bishop who the victim says blackmailed him into keeping silent about how a priest in the diocese allegedly abused the victim when he was a teen. 

Bishop Michael Hoeppner is the first Catholic bishop to be investigated under new sexual abuse guidelines issued by Pope Francis last year. Court evidence reveals that Bishop Hoeppner, of the diocese of Crookston in Minnesota, approved the accused priest for ministry, claiming that he was “unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable for work with minor children” despite knowing the victim’s testimony of being sexually abused by this priest. 

Video testimony of the bishop during a 2018 deposition hearing that was released in November also shows that Hoeppner would be unwilling to reexamine the parish assignment of a priest despite being shown a report from 1993 where the priest in question admitted to having problems with masturbation and pornography, said that he had “fantasies about abusing a child” and that his “sexual fantasizing would become out of control whenever he would go out of town.”

Video testimony of the bishop also reveals that he saw no problem in putting a priest “back into ministry” who had “boundary issues” with other people in the form of unwanted touching. 

The Vatican announced yesterday that the investigation is still ongoing and has made no indication of removing the bishop from his post. 

Blackmail

Sexual abuse victim Ron Vasek says that after carrying the burden of his abuse alone for 40 years, he told Bishop Hoeppner about his being sexually abused by a priest of the diocese that happened when he was about 16 years old.

Vasek says that Hoeppner first told him to keep silent about the abuse and, years later, asked him to sign a letter renouncing his claim. Vasek even claims that Hoeppner threatened both him and his son (a priest of the Crookston diocese) if he refused to sign the letter. 

In response to the threats Vasek signed the letter, but in 2017 launched a lawsuit against Hoeppner and the diocese of Crookston, accusing the bishop of (among other things) coercion.

Vasek told LifeSite that he “hopes that the Vatican will see with clear eyes what’s really going on in this diocese, about the bishop’s intimidation, about his obstruction and about his disregard for canon and ecclesial law.”

“I would like to see him removed for his actions,” he said. 

A Vatican investigation into Bishop Hoeppner was launched in September 2019, with the bishop facing charges that he impeded a police or canonical investigation of clerical sexual misconduct in his diocese.

In November 2019, deposition documents and videos from 2018 were released showing Hoeppner responding to questions about his handling of Vasek’s allegation and where he seems to admit to mishandling the cases of several priests, including one presently in active ministry who told diocesan officials that, as a teenager, he had sexually abused a 5-year-old.

The deposition documents and videos became available after a settlement was reached in July 2019, in which $5 million was awarded across 15 sex-abuse lawsuits filed against the diocese, including Vasek’s case against the abusing priest, Fr. Grundhaus.

Along with several other bishops, Hoeppner met with Pope Francis earlier this month during the bishops’ customary ad limina visit. It is not at this stage known when the results of the Vatican’s investigation into him will be released. 

LifeSite has written to His Excellency Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S.A., to enquire whether in light of the serious nature of the evidence shown in the depositions whether any consideration has been given to suspending Hoeppner until the Vatican investigations are concluded. No response has been given. 

Vasek claims that in either 1971, or 1972 then Father [now Monsignor] Grundhaus jumped into his bed and fondled his genitals while the two were sharing a hotel room, after Vasek had driven Grundhaus to a canon law convention in Columbus, Ohio. Vasek says that the abuse he received while a teenager has affected him for the rest of his life and “shattered” his understanding of fatherhood. 

After years of not knowing how to deal with what happened to him, Vasek says he decided to open up to a priest in 2010 when he began thinking about becoming a deacon in the Diocese of Crookston. He was then contacted by Hoeppner, his local bishop, and first told him about the incident with Grundhaus in 2010 or 2011 (Vasek and Hoeppner dispute the year this meeting occurred).

Speaking of that first meeting with Hoeppner, Vasek said: “So the bishop, he just kind of, he just chews on me for five minutes.” Vasek told CNA that Hoeppner told him that Grundhaus was a great priest, and that a “claim” about the matter could be very expensive. Vasek says Hoeppner asked him if he intended to make a formal complaint, to which Vasek replied: “I just want to know if I can get through the diaconate program, knowing this information.”

Vasek told Church Militant that Hoeppner then replied to him: “If you don’t say anything, nobody will know.”

Despite Vasek’s accusation of sexual abuse, Hoeppner signed a letter in 2012 confirming Grundhaus was fit to exercise a public ministry. 

"He is a person of good moral character and reputation. I know of nothing which would in any way limit or disqualify him from his ministry. I am unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable for work with minor children," the bishop wrote of the priest.

During the 2018 deposition hearing, Hoeppner was challenged by attorney Jeff Anderson as to why, despite knowing of Vasek’s allegation, he had signed a letter saying that he didn’t know of anything that would disqualify Grundhaus from ministry, or make him unsuitable for working with children. Hoeppner repeatedly said that he did so in order to respect Vasek’s request for confidentiality.

At one point during the depositions, Anderson asked Hoeppner: “wouldn't the accusation Ron Vasek made to you...that Grundhaus had abused him as a teenager, disqualify him from ministry?”

Hoeppner replied: “Mr. Vasek asked for complete confidentiality and did not want to bring forward an accusation and I respected that.”

Later in the depositions, Anderson asked Hoeppner why he had signed the letter in 2012 saying that he knew of no reason that would render Grundhaus “unsuitable for work with minor children.”

Hoeppner responded: “I’m respecting the confidentiality. That's why I signed that.”

Anderson replied: “so you are using a claim of Ron Vasek’s confidentiality to protect not only Grundhaus but the diocese at Cookston from avoiding a scandal.”

Hoeppner declined to answer that question.

By 2015, when Vasek next had a significant meeting with Hoeppner about Grundhaus, Vasek had been studying for the diaconate for several years. Vasek’s son, Craig, was ordained as a priest of the diocese of Crookston in 2010. 

Vasek says that Hoeppner called him and asked him to come to his home the very same day. When he arrived Hoeppner asked him to sign a pre-written letter renouncing his accusation against Grundhaus. Vasek says he told Hoeppner that the letter was a lie. 

He claims that Hoeppner then said to him: “If the scandal of Grundhaus gets out, how could I ordain you? Who would want you? Where would I put you? And besides, it would be very difficult for your son.” 

“I knew at that moment he was blackmailing me”, Vasek said in a May 2017 press conference announcing his lawsuit against Hoeppner for coercion. “And my son had just gotten his first parish ... I signed that letter to protect my son, because I knew how evil a man the bishop could be.” 

In February 2017, Vasek says he was recommended for ordination as a deacon by the Diocesan Diaconate Committee and by his own pastor, Fr. Ilango. Later that year, an unsigned letter from Fr. Ilango recommended that Vasek’s ordination should be delayed by a year. 

Vasek, who was never ordained, launched his first lawsuit against Hoeppner in May 2017. 

Vasek told LifeSite that he had no choice but to forgo pursuing his ordination since he knew that after deciding to go public with his claims, he would have risked his credibility if he had agreed to be ordained by Hoeppner.

When the coercion charges of that lawsuit were settled in September 2017, Hoeppner said in a statement that he had been willing to ordain Vasek, but that Vasek had refused.

Vasek had met Hoeppner to discuss his ordination to the diaconate in April. On that occasion, he was joined by his wife Patty. Vasek says that during that meeting, Hoeppner did not say that he would ordain him, but was clear that he controlled his future as a deacon. On his personal website, Vasek has said that he felt that “the threat of coercion was being continued by Hoeppner.” 

Vasek told LifeSiteNews that throughout that meeting with Hoeppner, the bishop had stressed the essentiality of obedience in the role of a deacon. Vasek said, “I couldn’t be ordained and be obedient to a man who had threatened my son, threatened my ordination and coerced me to sign a letter against my will.”

Vasek told LifeSite that in addition to the five years of study for the diaconate, he had also been preparing himself spiritually for five years beforehand. He said he was “crushed” when he realized he would not be ordained. “My goal was to become a deacon” he said, “I had tried to bury the abuse for years, but finally the Holy Spirit just kept telling me that this had to be resolved. So it crushed me, but it didn’t break me.” 

Video evidence from the 2018 deposition hearing suggests that the Bishop mishandled priests with sexual problems. 

Priest who fantasized about abusing children

In one of the videos from the deposition, Hoeppner says that he would not be willing to reexamine the assignment in ministry of Fr. Joseph Richards, a current pastor and the diocesan judicial vicar, despite being shown a 1993 psycho/social history report of Richards where Richards admits he had “fantasies about abusing a child” and that he felt an “attraction toward children.” Richards had been ordained a priest in 1989. 

Richards admits in the report that his sexual fantasizing “would become out of control” and that  “he feels that he has problems with sexual compulsivity and considers himself to be ‘sexually addicted.’” 

The report goes on to note that Richards “admits to feeling somewhat confused regarding his sexuality. He feels that his masturbation, need for pornography, and sexual fantasizing would become out of control whenever he would go out of town. When he began to have fantasies about abusing a child and felt an attraction toward children, he decided to voluntarily seek help.”

Having been presented with the report, Hoeppner was asked by Anderson if “the reading of this and seeing this in a psychosexual evaluation caused you to be willing to re-examine his assignment in ministry given this professional assessment and his self-report?” 

Hoeppner replied: “not at this time, no.”

Hoeppner claimed in the deposition that he had never seen the psychosexual evaluation of the report before. Monsignor Foltz, the current vicar general of the diocese, acknowledged during the deposition that he was aware of the report. When asked why he hadn’t informed Hoeppner he said, “He [Hoeppner] wasn’t in the - - in the diocese”. When he was then asked why he didn’t “alert the bishop of the letter,” Foltz said: “I don’t -- didn’t recall”. Anderson asked Hoeppner whether he thought he “should go back and ask Monsignor Foltz why he didn’t tell you about the psycho/sexual that appears in the file of Richards.” Hoeppner responded: “I don’t know.”

The released deposition documents also show that Richards had admitted in the 1990s to Hoeppner’s predecessor, Bishop Balke, and to Monsignor Foltz to having sexually abused a 5 year-old boy when he was 15 years old.

During the November 2018 depositions, Foltz was shown a letter which he admits was written by him, although he claimed not to remember the facts that the letter detailed. The letter reads “16, or 17 years ago, he - Joe [Fr. Joseph Richards] at the age of about 15, sexually abused a five - or six-year-old  boy he was babysitting.” 

Foltz was asked by his examiner Elin Lindstrom esq.: “Reading this now, do you feel that Father Richards’ file should be gone back through to evaluate whether he should be in ministry right now, knowing that there’s an allegation in his file that he admitted to?”

Foltz: “As a child, as a teenager?”

Lindstrom: “Yes”

Foltz: “Well it’s always helpful to bring everything together and re-evaluate.”

Lindstrom: “The letter indicates that the meeting was also with Bishop Balke. Do you know if Bishop Balke did anything in response to this report?”

Foltz: “I think our response was for them - - for him to deal with it at St. Michael’s, the aftercare program.”

Bishop Hoeppner issued a statement in August 2019 outlining these details about Fr. Richards, but going on to say that he has “served admirably now and without incident for a total of 29 years.” 

LifeSite has written to Bishop Hoeppner to ask if there are any other priests currently in ministry in the diocese with a known history of having either abused a minor while they were themselves a minor, or having admitted, while a priest, to having fantasies about abusing a child. No response was provided.

In his pyscho/social history report, Richards claims he was sexually abused when he was a child by his great-uncle. The doctor who compiled the report noted: “His sexual preoccupation also appears to be interfering with his daily life and may be bordering on compulsive. His fantasies regarding children, while not uncommon for sexual abuse victims, are disturbing and should be treated as a cry for help.”

Richards was on a leave of absence from Crookston diocese between 1993 and 1997 while he received treatment and participated in aftercare programs before returning to public ministry in 1997. 

Priest with ‘boundary issues’

In another of the released videos, Hoeppner is shown being questioned about his decision to return Fr. Patrick Sullivan to public ministry in the diocese. Sullivan had been removed from public ministry over reports of "boundary issues," but had later returned to ministry with the bishop's approval. 

A 2009 psychological evaluation of Sullivan noted that he admitted that he “struggles at times with understanding the appropriate boundaries with physical touch, which is of particular concern because he will be expected to interact with middle school age students at his next assignment.” The report advised that “without boundary education, both Father Sullivan and those with whom he interacts may be at risk.” Sullivan reportedly refused to go for treatment.

Sullivan’s 2009 psychiatric discharge summary also noted: “Father quickly demonstrated his difficulty with boundaries. He touched staff and residents repeatedly without asking, even beginning to give residents shoulder and back massages without apparent appreciation of what this might mean to them.”

In the 2018 recorded depositions, Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson, who specializes in clerical abuse cases, is shown questioning Hoeppner about his decision not to provide the police with Sullivan’s psychiatric records and to allow Sullivan to return to public ministry.

Anderson asks: “Did you instruct Baumgartner [Hoeppner’s former vicar general and chief advisor] to give these reports, exhibits nine and sixteen to the police?”

Hoeppner responds: “Not to my recollection.”

Anderson asks: “In fact, the diocese withheld them from the police, didn't they?” 

Hoeppner responds: “I just answered. I don't recall instructing Father Baumgartner to give them that material.”

Later Anderson says: "When you returned Sullivan to ministry, did you ever tell anybody in the parish, either today or in the past that he has a history of boundary violations, and he refused to go to treatment as recommended by professionals? Did you ever tell anybody that?" 

Hoeppner responds: ”What was the question?"  

Anderson says: ”Did you ever tell the people about the risk that was discerned by the professionals?"

Hoeppner responds: ”We take all things into consideration. We make a determination to put the man back into ministry. That's what was done."

In February 2019, Sullivan was placed on "administrative leave" due to a “report that involved a boundary issue”. Bishop Hoeppner said in a statement at the time that “[t]he issue was non-sexual and non-criminal in nature” but that the “Diocesan Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People, after reviewing the matter, has recommended to me that Fr. Pat go for assessment and in-patient treatment.”

It turns out that Sullivan has been placed on administrative leave before. In April 2016, a civil lawsuit was filed against the Crookston diocese alleging that Sullivan sexually abused a 15-year-old boy while working at the St. Mary's Mission Church in Red Lake, Minnesota, during 2008.

In December 2017, Sullivan was reinstated into public ministry, while the lawsuit was still active. A press release from Bishop Hoeppner said that the claims had been investigated by a diocesan review board and deemed "not credible." Sullivan denied the allegation and no criminal charges were pursued by law enforcement. 

When releasing the 2018 deposition documents, Jeff Anderson, who brought the case against the diocese, pointed out that the diocesan review board had not been provided with Fr. Sullivan’s 2009 treatment records in which mental health professionals said that “without boundary education, both Father Sullivan and those with whom he interacts may be at risk.”

In a statement made when Fr. Sullivan was returned to public ministry in 2017, Anderson said: “The decision by the diocese and Bishop Hoeppner to return Fr. Sullivan to ministry while the lawsuit is pending is reckless, because Fr. Sullivan poses a threat of harm to children, and deceptive, because there is information that has not been made known to the public that is in Bishop Hoeppner’s possession that demonstrates that this diocese and Hoeppner are doing the wrong thing again.”

LifeSite has contacted Bishop Hoeppner to ask whether he thinks it would have been good for him to have informed police authorities about the assessment of mental health professionals that Fr. Sullivan posed a risk to himself and others. LifeSite also asked whether he regretted the decision to return him to public ministry after a professional report had noted repeated instances of his failing to recognize physical boundaries. No response has been provided. 

Priest who abused teen boy

Ron Vasek, a former candidate for the diaconate in the diocese, has accused Bishop Hoeppner of pressuring him to retract an allegation that a Crookston priest molested him in 1971 or 1972, when he was either 16 or 17 years old. Vasek claims that then Father [now Monsignor] Grundhaus jumped into his bed and fondled his genitals while the two were sharing a hotel room, after Vasek had driven Grundhaus to a canon law convention in Columbus, Ohio.

"When I was abused by Fr. Grundhaus in Columbus, Ohio, I did not know about homosexuality or the culture that exists within it," Vasek said at a press conference in 2019. "As a farm boy, I had not been exposed to anything like that."

"Not understanding what had happened to me, affected me for the rest of my life," he continued. "My understanding of fatherhood was shattered. A father-figure in my life violated my innocence." 

In an interview recorded last year with Michael Voris of Church Militant TV, Vasek claims that years later Grundhaus apologised to him for the incident but said that he would deny it if Vasek ever accused him publicly. 

Vasek says that he told Bishop Hoeppner about the abuse in 2011 after he began his application to become a deacon in the diocese.

Vasek says that he first spoke about the abuse to a Fr. Lefor when he began to consider applying to become a deacon. He says that the priest reported the conversation to Monsignor Goering, vicar general of the Fargo diocese, who then contacted Vasek by telephone.

Among the 2018 deposition documents released in November are handwritten notes of Hoeppner showing that Goering called Hoeppner and informed him that Vasek had told him he had been abused by Grundhaus while he was a minor. The notes also show that Hoeppner called Vasek, arranged a meeting shortly after hearing of the allegation and that at that meeting Vasek gave Hoeppner a detailed account of the abuse he had received. The notes detail Vasek’s claim that Grundhaus had told him he would deny the allegations if they ever became public.

During the 2018 depositions, Hoeppner said that he couldn’t recall whether or not he knew prior to meeting with Vasek in September 2011 about the alleged abuse by Grundhaus. When he was shown his handwritten notes by Anderson, he then acknowledged that he had known about the allegations prior to the meeting with Vasek. 

Hoeppner maintained during the deposition that the reason he suggested to Vasek to recant in writing his allegation of being a victim of sexual abuse was because the Fargo diocese had inquired about his allegation against Grundhaus and intended to stop the priest from exercising ministry in Fargo.

According to Vasek, Hoeppner said to him during the meeting in 2015 when he signed the letter: “We want to have Grundhaus be able to do ministry, so we need to have you sign a letter recanting your allegation.”

On August 13, 2015, the Diocese of Crookston had been ordered by a Mahnomen County District Court Judge to produce all records pertaining to allegations of sexual abuse of minors by before 1985. Vasek told Church Militant TV that he didn’t know at the time, but that he now knows that the day he signed that letter was the same day that the court order was due for the diocese to supply the names of all priests with any abuse allegations against them. Monsignor Grundhaus was not included in the list sent to the courts. 

During the depositions, Anderson asked Hoeppner whether he had that order in mind when he invited Vasek to his home. Hoeppner said: “I did not have that in mind.” 

CNA claimed that a priest of the diocese told them that he believes Hoeppner asked Vasek to retract his claim in order to avoid naming Grundhaus on that list.

Two priests of the diocese, Fr. Robert Schreiner and Msgr. David Baumgartner, both told CNA that they believed that Hoeppner had forced Vasek to sign the 2015 letter.

The coercion charges were settled in September 2017. As part of the settlement, the diocese gave Vasek an undisclosed financial compensation. Vasek also received a copy of the letter he signed in 2015, although he believes it is not the same letter. Vasek believes the original letter mentioned Grundhaus specifically by name, whereas the letter he received states: “regarding a trip I was on when I was 16 years old…I have no desire to nor do I make any accusation of sexual impropriety by the priest.”

Hoeppner said in a statement when the settlement was announced that the agreement “avoids costly attorney fees and a drawn-out legal process”, but that “it does not constitute any admission of unlawful conduct or wrongdoing by Bishop Hoeppner.” 

In July 2019, Vasek was one of the 15 victims of alleged sexual abuse by clergy to reach a settlement with the Crookston diocese due to his allegations against Grundhaus.

LifeSite contacted Bishop Hoeppner to ask him if he regrets not having initiated an investigation into the allegation made by Vasek against Grundhaus and if he regrets not having listed Grundhaus in the list of clergy accused of sexual abuse of minors by the 2015 court order. No response was provided.

Vasek told LifeSite that, despite everything he has experienced, he remains a faithful Catholic and encourages others not to let clerical scandals dampen their faith. He said:

I have been asked a hundred times why I’m still Catholic, by Catholics who have fallen away from the Church because of the sex abuse scandals and the cover ups and by non Catholics. My answer to them is simply that I have faith in Christ, not in men. Within minutes of the Last Supper one of Christ’s bishops betrayed Him. So He knew that in the life of the Church that bishops would betray Him.

But where would I go? There is nowhere else to go. 

So I remain a faithful Catholic. You don’t know how many people I tell not to leave the Church. But to pray,  to stay in it, to continue to press these men for truth and not to let up.


News

Former gay drug dealer speaks out about transgenderism in the US

Hear Dr. Christopher Yuan's inspiring story of conversion and transformation after being arrested for dealing drugs.
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February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Dr. Christopher Yuan, a former drug addict who lived a promiscuous homosexual lifestyle, joins Jonathon Van Maren on this week’s episode of The Van Maren Show to discuss his powerful journey and conversion and what the LGBT agenda is doing to society.  

Yuan was raised in a ‘very traditional’ family with ‘Asian values,’ although he was not raised Christian. He first encountered pornography at age 9. He said this was the “first time that I recognized that I had these [homosexual] attractions.” Yuan officially “came out” in his late 20s while pursuing his doctorate in dentistry, much to the dismay of his parents. His mother told him to choose to be homosexual or choose the family, but he couldn’t have both. 

“My mom even says news of my death would have been better than receiving that type of rejection,” he said.   

Feeling as though this wasn’t a choice, rather a part of who he was, Yuan went back to school and immersed himself even deeper into his party lifestyle. He points out that it wasn’t same-sex attraction that pushed him into the party lifestyle, but a lack of God.  

“If you're not a believer in Christ, you're going to live it up and have fun,” Yuan states. 

As he slid deeper and deeper into the party life, Yuan began selling drugs in order to maintain his own drug habit. He was expelled from school just 3 months before receiving his doctorate. Yuan then moved to Atlanta and sold and distributed drugs to dealers in “over a dozen states.” 

Watch the entire episode here:

During this time, Yuan’s parents had found Christianity. Yuan says his parents’ profound conversion gave them the ability to love their wayward homosexual son. His parents didn’t accept Yuan’s promiscuous lifestyle, but they prayed and prayed for him, soliciting the help of their entire church.  

Yuan says that his mother prayed that God would do whatever it took to bring Yuan to the faith. Yuan was arrested for selling and distributing drugs in Atlanta. He called his parents from jail and he recalls the first question his mother asked was, ‘are you OK?’ He was touched by the great love she showed in such a trying time.  

While in jail, Yuan hit rock bottom. He found a Bible on top of the trash one day and began reading it. He started seeing the jail chaplain and studying the faith. To his dismay, when he asked the chaplain about homosexuality and the Bible, he was told God didn’t see anything wrong with homosexuality. Although Yuan wanted to accept this, a small voice inside of him continued to put doubts in his heart as he didn’t see how this could be aligned with the Bible. 

After being released from jail Yuan started studying at Moody Bible Institute where he is now a professor. He completed his studies at Moody and went on to obtain a Doctorate in Ministry at Wheaton College. He also wrote a book with his mother titled, Out of a Far Country, detailing the saga both he and his mother went through when he broke away from the family to lead a promiscuous homosexual lifestyle.  

Yuan and Van Maren go on to discuss the lies the culture, and even some Christians, are telling about the homosexual lifestyle. Yuan points out that the devil tempts by false teachings that are mostly true. To be the most convincing false teachings are often 90% true and only 10% false, but that false 10% can lead one to sin.  

Following that same reasoning, Yuan points out that the words we use and how we use them is important. For example, to say one is a ‘celibate gay’ person intones that gay is a fundamental part of who they are, and their behavior is celibate. Yuan would argue that this isn’t the case. A person is not defined by their same-sex attraction, but as a child of God. The language being used, even by Christians who oppose homosexuality can negate their beliefs. Another example is to say one is a ‘straight Christian.’ No, Yuan would say, you are “Christian,” no modifier needed.  

Yuan says that the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality, but holiness. He highlights that God calls us all ‘to be holy as He is holy.’ Everyone, because of fallen nature, has a temptation to sin. But everyone needs to continue to fight that temptation and work to answer the call to holiness.  

Listen to the entire episode here:

Yuan sees the rise of the LGBT agenda and now the transgender movement as the “rotten fruit” of walking away from God. He points to three specific figures who played a significant role in the rise of the LGBT agenda: Freud, Kinsey, and Foucault. He blames the philosophy of postmodernism for the spread of the false ideas behind the LGBT movement. 

Yuan and Van Maren discuss the postmodernism philosophy and how this thinking has permeated all of society and continues to spread. Based on the postmodern philosophy, Christians who promote God’s teaching and design for sexuality are blamed for ‘killing’ homosexuals. By not accepting homosexuals, according to this argument, Christians directly lead to their suicides.  

This simply isn’t true, Yuan points out. A well-known, scientifically rigorous study conducted in the Netherlands, a country that has one of the best societal acceptance for homosexual individuals, shows that suicide rates for homosexual teens is higher than for other teens. Even though these teens are acceptable and affirmed, the suicide rate is still higher than the ‘normal’ population.  

A self-professed pessimist, Yuan sees the LGBT agenda continuing to grow, but he hopes that the true teachings of Christ will shine and touch hearts.  

Yuan is a speaker and an author in addition to teaching at Moody Bible Institute. His works can be found 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.


News

WATCH: Iowa Dem asks to withdraw vote for Buttigieg after learning he’s in gay ‘marriage’

The precinct captain then tried to convince the Christian voter that she should not withdraw her vote from Buttigieg because he is an active homosexual.
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CRESCO, Iowa, February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― An Iowa caucusgoer demanded back her voting card after discovering that she had just endorsed a man in a same-sex partnership. 

The unnamed woman was recorded by filmmaker Annabel Park responding in dismay to the revelation that Pete Buttigieg, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, is “married” to a man. 

“Are you saying that he has the same-sex partner?” the voter demanded of Buttigieg’s caucus precinct captain Nikki van den Heever.  

“Pete? Yes,” Van den Heever replied. 

“Are you kidding? Then I don’t want anybody like that in the White House.”

The voter then asked if she could have her card back. 

“I don’t know,” said Van den Heever. “You signed it. We could go ask.” 

The precinct captain then tried to convince the Christian voter that she should not withdraw her vote from Buttigieg because he is an active homosexual.

“I would like you just to think deep inside and think, like, ‘Should it matter if it’s a woman or a man or if they’re heterosexual or homosexual if you believe in what they say?’” Van den Heever said.  

“That’s my question to you.”

The voter was unconvinced.

“It all just went down the toilet is where it all just went,” she replied. 

Van den Heever, who identified herself as a Christian, tried to convince the voter that voting for a same-sex “married’ man was consistent with the Christian faith. The voter, however, was unconvinced.

“You must not believe it then if you believe it’s okay for somebody to be married to a same-sex person,” the voter said. 

Subsequent footage showed that the voter did get her card back and said she might support Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The video, posted yesterday by Annabel Park on Twitter, has been retweeted over 4,000 times and viewed 2.9 million times. Park praised Van der Heever for her interaction with the voter, saying that it was a “masterclass in patience, persistence, and love.” She characterized the straight-talking voter as “flipping out.” 

READ: Iowa’s Democratic caucus in chaos, ridiculed as results delayed indefinitely

Social media reactions ranged from demands that the voter be named and shamed to puzzlement regarding why a Bible-reading woman was a member of the Democratic Party at all. There was also amusement that the voter had not known that Buttigieg is in a same-sex “marriage” with high school teacher Chasten Buttigieg, né Glezman. 

Pete Buttigieg was baptized in a Catholic Church and raised as a Catholic, but in adult life became a member of the Anglican Communion. He contracted a legal partnership with junior high school teacher Chasten Glezman in a “wedding” ceremony at South Bend’s Episcopalian Cathedral of St. James in 2018. First elected Mayor of South Bend, Indiana – home of the University of Notre Dame – in November 2011, Buttigieg announced his same-sex attractions in 2015. He was subsequently re-elected.  

As of this morning, 71 percent of precincts in Iowa had reported their caucus results. Buttigieg had just edged over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont as the Iowa Democrats’ choice of presidential candidate, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.


News

Two German bishops advocate for change in Church teaching on homosexuality

The archbishop of Hamburg said the Church doesn’t meet homosexuals on equal footing and criticized the Catechism’s call for homosexuals to live chaste lives.
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FRANKFURT, Germany, February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Two German bishops have called the Church to change its teaching on homosexuality and recognize the “values” like fidelity that are allegedly lived in homosexual relationships.

Archbishop Stefan Heße and Bishop Georg Bätzing made their remarks at the first assembly of the synodal path in Germany, which concluded on Saturday, February 1, 2020.

Heße, the archbishop of Hamburg, distanced himself from the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, as reported by katholisch.de, the news website of the German bishops. Instead, he said, the Church should explore new avenues.

The expression of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), according to which those with homosexual inclinations need to be met with respect, means the Church is looking down on them, rather than meeting them on equal footing, Heße argued.

“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law,” the Catechism teaches (CCC 2357). “They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

The homosexual inclination is “objectively disordered,” the Catechism says. Those who experience it “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition” (CCC 2358).

The archbishop of Hamburg, which is the northernmost diocese in Germany, also criticized that the Church calls homosexuals to live a chaste life.

Heße insisted that from his experience as a spiritual director, he knows that many homosexually inclined people are in relationships where values like “respect and responsibility” are lived. He demanded the Church to do justice to this supposed reality. According to the article by katholisch.de, this exclamation was met with applause among the members of the assembly.

As Heße pointed out, the CCC indeed says, “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

However, what is said of homosexuals, the Catechism holds as true also of everybody else, saying, “All the baptized are called to chastity.”

Still speaking of every human being, the Catechism maintains, “Whoever wants to remain faithful to his baptismal promises and resist temptations will want to adopt the means for doing so: self-knowledge, practice of an ascesis adapted to the situations that confront him, obedience to God's commandments, exercise of the moral virtues, and fidelity to prayer.”

Together with Franz-Josef Bode, bishop of Osnabrück, Heße had written in 2019, “When gay men and lesbian women profess to be faithful Christians despite rejections they experienced, and ask in the Church for pastoral support on their path of life, this is very impressive and challenges to develop perspectives together.”

Their short article was published as the foreword to a book on pastoral work regarding those living in homosexual relationships.

Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg presented the working document on Catholic teaching on sexual morality at the assembly of the Synodal Path. Bätzing had chaired the work of the preparatory committee, resulting in the working document discussed in Frankfurt.

Specifically, the bishop said he didn’t want to “break” with Church teaching, but had called for an opening of the sexual morality as proposed by the Church. The bishop hoped for a “widening, opening, and change of that teaching.”

The working document claims, “Homosexual acts also realize positive meaningful values, insofar as they are an expression of friendship, reliability, loyalty and support in life.” Beyond that, the document demands to call homosexual acts no longer an intrinsic evil.

At a discussion event in August 2019, the bishop of Limburg still said that a blessing of homosexual partnerships is impossible. As the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported after the event, Bätzing only said, “I cannot do this at the moment.”

He explained, “If Bishop Georg says that there are ceremonies of blessing for homosexuals in Limburg, then tomorrow Bishop Georg will no longer exist because the Holy Father says that the bishop is no longer in union with the Church.”

In April, Bätzing had said at a press conference that he always considered to be a mistake the prohibition of ordaining men with homosexual tendencies to the priesthood.

In 2005, the Congregation for Catholic Education published an instruction concerning the criteria for the discernment of vocations with regard to persons with homosexual tendencies.

The document said of homosexuals, “Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

At the same time, the instruction made a distinction, acknowledging, “Different, however, would be the case in which one were dealing with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem – for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded.” Those tendencies have to be overcome at least three years before the man is ordained a deacon.

Bishop Bätzing is receiving significant backing from one of his priests. Johannes zu Eltz is the main priest in Frankfurt, where the assemblies of the synodal path are taking place, and was nominated as a member of the assembly by the German bishops’ conference.

In an interview, zu Eltz said of conservatives trying to emphasize the importance of the final decision of each individual bishop after the synodal path is completed, “I can well understand these conservative or even reactionary attitudes. I just don’t find them productive.”

He continued, indicating the pressure liberal dioceses could exert on more conservative ones, “With the implementation of good reforms in courageous dioceses, there will be a spirit of new beginnings and salutary pressure. Then the other dioceses will also follow the path.”

Asked about the potential of the Catholic Church being changed into something resembling a Protestant community, zu Eltz declared, “With such labels you can’t frighten me at all. This fixation on demarcation and exclusion is not Catholic. That is the thinking of the new right, it is identitarian. Our horizon is much wider. We have to be able to integrate from the Protestant churches what is good and proven, if it suits us and helps us further. Anything else would be crazy.”

Bishop Heße was selected as a member of the synodal forum on women’s role in the Church, while Bishop Bätzing will still be working as part of the group focused on sexual morality.

At the meetings of the four forums, the goal is to discuss and work out a document that will be presented to the assembly of the synodal path with its 230 members. Only the meetings of the assembly are public.


News

Pope Francis puts Archbishop Gänswein on leave: report

German newspaper Die Tagespost reports that Pope Benedict's secretary has been placed on leave after the controversy over the celibacy book.
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PETITION: Support Cardinal Sarah's and Pope Emeritus Benedict's defense of priestly celibacy! Sign the petition here.

ROME, February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Benedict’s secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, has been put on administrative leave indefinitely by Pope Francis, according to Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost. Gänswein is reportedly being released from his duties as Prefect of the Papal Household in order to spend more time with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Gänswein has been the private secretary of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger since 2003. He remained at his side after Ratzinger’s election to the papacy. Only a few months before Benedict resigned in 2013, he made Gänswein the Prefect of the Papal Household, as well as an archbishop.

Since then, the German prelate has spent part of his day with the Pope emeritus, while fulfilling his duties as Prefect of the Papal Household during the remainder of his day.

Die Tagespost speculates that the administrative leave is related to the rollout of the book From the Depths of Our Hearts on clerical celibacy by Cardinal Robert Sarah, to which Benedict XVI contributed.

French newspaper Le Figaro had first reported on the book on January 12. Immediately, “a storm of criticism ensued against the cardinal and the Pope emeritus, portraying both of them as at odds with Pope Francis,” as Edward Pentin wrote for the National Catholic Register.

Sarah, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, had been working with French publisher Fayard for years. The cover of the original edition of the book on celibacy portrayed Benedict as a co-author, including a photo of the former Pope the same size as that of Sarah.

Archbishop Gänswein said on January 14 that he had called Cardinal Sarah “at Benedict’s request, to ask the book’s publisher to remove the signature of the Pope emeritus from the introduction and conclusion, because he had not co-authored them.”

Following the first backlash, Sarah said in a statement, “The polemic which has aimed to tarnish me for several hours by implying that Benedict was not informed of the appearance of the book ‘From the Depths of Our Hearts’ is completely despicable.”

While the first edition of the book, for reasons of time, was still printed portraying the Pope emeritus as a co-author, future editions were announced as only referring to him as a contributor.

The publisher of the English version, Ignatius Press, maintains that Benedict is a co-author. They argued: “Given that, according to Benedict XVI’s correspondence and Cardinal Sarah’s statement, the two men collaborated on this book for several months, that none of the essays have appeared elsewhere, and that a joint work as defined by the Chicago Manual of Style is ‘a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contribution be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole’, Ignatius Press considers this a coauthored publication.”

Archbishop Gänswein later said the introduction and the conclusion were not written by both, but only by the cardinal, even though the French publisher said otherwise.

Also on January 14, Vatican-based journalist Antonio Socci had claimed that Pope Francis was “furious” over Benedict’s contribution to the book on celibacy, demanding he retract his name from the work.

Socci speculated, “In fact, that very authoritative pronouncement of Benedict XVI prevents [Pope Francis] from taking a pickaxe to ecclesiastical celibacy as he had planned to do in the next post-synodal exhortation.” The exhortation is expected to be published this month. There have been conflicting reports as to whether or not celibacy will be made optional for certain men wanting to be a priest.

Implicating Gänswein in the story, Socci said, “Thus, [Pope Francis] personally called Archbishop Gänswein, the secretary of Benedict XVI as well as the prefect of Bergoglio’s pontifical household, and – furious – ordered him to remove the name of Benedict XVI from the cover of the book …”

On January 17, after having talked to the Prefect of the Papal Household, Die Tagespost reported that both Benedict and Gänswein received the French edition of the book for the first time the day after Le Figaro published the first story about it.

Die Tagespost wrote, “Then, according to Gänswein, he approached [editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication] Tornielli and agreed on the following language, which was then adopted by all Vatican media. First: Benedict XVI did not write a “Book of Four Hands” together with Cardinal Robert Sarah. Secondly: The Pope emeritus has neither seen nor approved the front page of the book allegedly written by four hands. Thirdly: Benedict XVI wrote a contribution on the priesthood months ago, and Cardinal Sarah asked to be able to read it. The Pope emeritus finally left this article to Sarah, knowing that he was writing a book on the priesthood. Fourthly: It is obvious that (in the presentation of the book) there took place an editorial and media operation with which Benedict XVI has nothing to do and from which he distances himself completely.”

Gänswein claimed there was a misunderstanding between Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah, but no conspiracy by any of the parties involved.

Cardinal Sarah had worked closely together with Nicolas Diat, the book’s editor. According to Vatican-based journalist Edward Pentin, Diat confirmed Sarah’s summary of events, most notably stressing that the cardinal showed Benedict in person a draft copy of the cover during a private audience.

Pentin quoted Diat as saying, “Cardinal Sarah sent a confidential letter [to Benedict] on November 19 with the full text. The proofs were complete: introduction, the two texts, and the conclusion. Then, on December 3, he showed the draft cover during an audience with Benedict XVI.”

Gänswein later denied that the Pope emeritus had seen the proofs of the book.

In the wake of the controversy surrounding the genesis of the book on celibacy, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò had also released a testimony. In it, he denounced Gänswein for what he calls his “abusive and systematic control” of the Pope emeritus.

As LifeSiteNews reported, “Archbishop Viganò asserts that ‘Gänswein habitually filtered information, arrogating to himself the right to judge how opportune or not it was to send it to the Holy Father.’”

During public events, the Prefect of the Papal Household is never more than a few steps away from the Pope. From now on, Gänswein will be replaced by the regent of the Papal Household, Italian prelate Leonardo Sapienza. It is not certain when the German archbishop will again take up his duties as prefect.

 

UPDATE 9:05AM ET: Edward Pentin, Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register, reports that a Vatican spokesperson has denied that Archbishop Gänswein was put on leave. The spokesman told him, “We have no information in that sense.” Rather, his absence “during certain audiences in recent weeks” is “due to ordinary redistribution of the various commitments and duties” of Gänswein working both as prefect of the Papal Household and personal secretary of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.

LifeSite has confirmed that Gänswein last attended the pope's Wednesday general audience on January 15, 2020. Since then, he has been replaced by another prelate. As the Prefect of the Papal Household, he is responsible for organizing all audiences with the Pope, and is usually seen sitting next to Pope Francis during his Wednesday audiences.

Ingo Brüggenjürgen, editor in chief of Domradio, the news outlet affiliated with the archdiocese of Cologne, said in an interview that according to his sources, the original report is correct. He added, “The decision was already looming. There were already similar reports immediately after the struggle over the book by Cardinal Sarah and Pope Benedict.”

LifeSite has reached out to Archbishop Gänswein for comment.


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German prelates outraged over faithful cardinal comparing ‘synodal path’ to Hitler’s seize of power

Cardinal Müller criticized the German bishops' synod for being a 'self-appointed assembly' that aims at rescinding the Constitution of the Church.
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By Maike Hickson

February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Dissident German prelates have expressed outrage over the Vatican’s former head of doctrine comparing the German bishops’ controversial “synodal path” to Hitler’s seizure of power to become a dictator. Progressive bishops and clergymen have strongly criticized German cardinal Gerhard Müller for the comparison. His comments have received much media coverage in Germany.

Two days ago, LifeSiteNews published comments by Müller on last weekend's first synodal assembly of the “synodal path” in Germany which is organized by the German Bishops' Conference and a major Catholic lay organization and which aims at questioning the Church’s sacramental and moral teaching. 

Since the 230 members of the synodal assembly decided to allow also those proposals of the four smaller discussion forums that contradict the Church’s teaching to be presented to the general assembly, the German cardinal and former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith compared this event with the Enabling Act of Adolf Hitler which legally repealed the Weimar Constitution and gave plenary powers to Hitler, thus legally establishing his dictatorship. 

Müller said: “This is like the situation when the Weimar Constitution was repealed by the Enabling Act. A self-appointed assembly, which is not authorized by God nor by the people it is supposed to represent, rescinds the Constitution of the Church of Divine Right, which is based on the Word of God (in Scripture and Tradition).” 

A spiritual adviser of the members of the synodal path, a key organizer of the synodal path, and several bishops have now made statements, specifically rejecting Cardinal Müller’s comments. All of them are representative of the progressive wing of the Catholic Church in Germany that is about to overhaul the Church's sacramental, hierarchical, and moral structure of the Catholic Faith and teaching.

First, Father Bernd Hagenkord, S.J., who just recently left his leading position at Vatican News in Rome in order to return to Germany and to become the spiritual advisor of the members of the German synodal path, sharply  criticizes Müller’s words as “poisonous.” 

“He who makes such a comparison,” he states on his blog, “either has no historical knowledge or intentionally acts in order to poison any debate.” Müller’s comments, he continues, are “inhuman.” “This is not a critique anymore,” the Jesuit explains, adding that these are “unacceptable methods.” “This is not the Church anymore,” he writes. Cardinal Müller, in Hagenkord's view, is the “limit” of acceptable criticism. “There is much to criticize,” writes the German priest. “The synodal path needs criticism, from within and without. Even if it does not suit everyone, what Bishops Woelki and Oster, for example, contribute, they are important voices which belong to it. But the whole thing has limits. One limit is called Gerhard Ludwig Müller.” Thus, Hagenkord declares that Cardinal Müller is excluded from the acceptable discourse.

In his post, Hagenkord also mentions in a critical way Bishop Athanasius Schneider, whose name he refuses even to mention (“a completely unknown auxiliary bishop in Astana, Kazakhstan – check it out where it is to be found”). He explicitly says he would not even provide a link to Bishop Schneider's words about Cardinal Marx' “heresies.” Bishop Schneider's strong critique of the German synodal path can be found here

Returning to the critics of Cardinal Müller, a second voice is Professor Thomas Sternberg, the President of the German Committee of Lay Catholics (ZdK), who, together with Cardinal Reinhard Marx, leads the synodal path. Sternberg and Marx have been accused of steering and manipulating the synodal path in such a way that it does not represent the German Catholics at large, but, rather the organized, politicized form of German Catholicism. (One example is that an internet survey among 5,000 Catholics in Germany showed that hardly anyone asked for female ordination; yet this is one of the key points on the agenda of the synodal path.) It is exactly this way of operating that has caused many observers to think of a sort of political take-over of the Catholic Church that is taking place in Germany right now. This is what Cardinal Müller described with the words: “This political conversion of the Church is the turning away from her religious mission.” 

Sternberg comments on Cardinal Müller with the words: “There is a sort of criticism that judges itself. This is so far away from reality that it cannot be taken seriously.” The German professor adds that Cardinal Müller opposes “the great agreement of Catholic faithful and the great majority of the episcopal fellow brothers.”

The General Vicar of Essen, Klaus Pfeffer, called Cardinal Müller's remarks "destructive," saying he was "stunned" by them.

Bishop Franz Jung (Würzburg) adds his critical voice, saying that the comparison made by the German cardinal is “misplaced.” Such comparisons are not helpful, according to this bishop, adding that the synodal path is “based on votes,” and one has “to stand by them.”

The problem with the bishop’s words, however, is that strong evidence shows that the synodal path is exactly not representative. The small leadership cadre of the synod has determined beforehand that there will be four discussion forums dealing with “power,” “women in leadership roles,” “sexuality,” and “priestly life.” They also already picked groups of experts who wrote preparatory documents, thus channeling and steering the discussion even before the synodal path even started.

As LifeSiteNews reported, one of these preparatory documents questions the Church's teachings on cohabitation, homosexuality, contraception, gender theory, and masturbation.

Another preparatory document proposes to discuss female ordination. This document proposes to admit women to all leadership positions in the Church and also to sacramental ordination. With regard to this topic, the document asks: “Is there at all a possibility to gain, with human power of knowledge, certainty about the Will of God in this matter?” Even though Pope John Paul II had, in a definitive manner, ruled out in 1994 the priestly ordination of women, the German experts of the synodal path still question this matter.

Dorothea Schmidt – a representative of the conservative group “Maria 1.0” – participated at the January 30 – February 1 first assembly of the synodal path in Frankfurt and then published a diary of the three-day event, describing how much the entire event was steered and managed by the synodal path leadership. Seeing these political machinations, she called out: “That is not Church, that is politics!” In further comments to the German newspaper Die Tagespost, Schmidt speaks of “manipulation.”

As in politics, Schmidt explains in her diary, “there is a rough tone.” During the second day of the synodal meeting which mainly discussed procedural aspects of the synodal path that is to take place during the period of the next two years, “the impression grew in me that everything had already been arranged, discussed and planned in advance.”

She describes the atmosphere of the synodal discussions and how the minority of “preservers” were treated: “We who are committed to the spiritual renewal of the Church are kept small, our right to speak is restricted, and we have been presented with a fait accompli. While those calling for reform were listened to and speaking time was extended, the preservers are asked to leave the microphone immediately. All that was left to do was to turn off the tap, i.e. turn off the microphone, because I did not let myself be shot down.”

Another excerpt of this diary from a Catholic woman further strengthens the impression that there are, indeed, parallels to some undemocratic events in history: “For I also missed justice and democratic action: the 30 to 35 participants in the four synodal forums were not announced until the last minute. About 30 members of the General Assembly were not chosen as forum participants. Instead, 15 of the preparatory forums were automatically included in the new group. Only five people could be elected to each forum – all others had already been pre-selected. Is this what the much-praised participation looks like? Everything was supposed to start from scratch, as if the preparation had not existed. And even the texts that were written at the end of the preparatory forums were given to us in advance. Should they now, after all, form the basis for further considerations? I am afraid that is how it will be.”

According to Professor Ulrich Lehner, a German theologian and professor at Notre Dame University, it is obvious that the results of this synodal path which will take place for the next two years are already prepared. He commented on Twitter on this first synod assembly in Frankfurt, saying: “One could save a lot of time and energy and money if Cardinal Marx would just publish the 'outcome' of the #SynodalWay – after all, it's already written and in his drawer. China could not have organized a synod better.” 

Finally, one may also ask why those promoters of the synodal path do not have a similar strong indignation when it comes to the questioning of the Church's Permanent Magisterium on sacramental, hierarchical, and moral matters. After all, they are all called, before God and by virtue of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, to preserve the Catholic Faith whole and entire and to pass it on to the faithful, for the sake of their salvation. Much is at stake.


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Muslim dad trying to save son from LGBT indoctrination is right to defy the establishment

Parents have a right and an obligation to stand up for their values.
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Muslims protest LGBT lessons near Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, England. Alum Rock Community Forum
Jonathon Van Maren By Jonathon Van Maren

Jonathon Van Maren By Jonathon Van Maren
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By Jonathon Van Maren

February 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – I’ve been to many conferences and lectures over the past several years where inspiring speakers tell the audience that we must have hope for the future of Western civilization. This call is generally accompanied by inspiring anecdotes of those who held firm in the face of oppression, usually in circumstances far more dire than our own, presented as evidence that decline can be stopped and that and that all we need is a little courage and a lot of hard work, and cultural reformation is possible.

Leaving that question to the side for one moment — Dr. Charles Murray noted his own skepticism on that point on my podcast last month — I think that it may be important to consider that hopefulness may not be the most helpful disposition in the future. Instead, defiance in the face of an overwhelmingly anti-Christian culture will in all likelihood be in order. 

Our culture in the West is already so hostile to Christian values that parents have to consciously opt out if they wish to ensure their children are not poisoned by the post-modern ideologies of the moment. Public schools dutifully pass on the orthodoxies of the Sexual Revolution and the gender ideologues, progressive politicians promise to use their power at the pleasure of LGBT activists, and the courts move to cement cultural shifts into law. And increasingly, the revolutionaries are casting a calculating eye at our own families, schools, and church communities. They have no intention of letting us carve out enclaves where we can live in peace.

And so, as I said, defiance may be in order. One recent example of what this might look like comes from an unexpected place: The Birmingham Mail reported this week that Jay Hussain, a 51-year-old Muslim father, is facing a fine and possible jail time after pulling his nine-year-old son out of school. Parkfield Community School in Birmingham had recently implemented a “No Outsiders equality programme” replete with extensive LGBT lessons, and Hussain argued that these lessons were “incompatible” with both his rights as a parent to teach his children about sexuality as well as the tenets of his Muslim faith. 

Further to that, Hussain has argued that the LGBT lessons were a “safeguarding risk” due to the fact that they cause confusion for young children regarding their gender identity. He has also said that his prosecution is unlawful, stating through his lawyer Paul Conrathe of Sinclairs Law that: “This prosecution criminalises him for not submitting to teaching in breach of his rights. He considers the school’s approach presents a safeguarding risk to his child.”

Hussain has been one of the leaders of parental protests rocking Birmingham for months over the LGBT curriculum, which was developed by Parkfield’s former assistant head Andrew Moffatt (who is in a gay civil partnership) in 2014. Last year, four schools stopped teaching the curriculum after sustained parental protest. One school was forced to suspend the lessons after 600 children were pulled out of their schools. At one protest, Hussain told the gathered parents that “We are not against anyone expressing their sexuality or being homosexual if that’s what they want. We have no issue if Mr. Moffatt wants to put on a dress, or dance around like a ballet dancer, or put on a skirt, we have no issue. We have an issue with teaching that nonsense to our kids.”

In fact, the curriculum, which features children’s books about transgenderism and children in the wrong bodies for kids as young as four years of age, “goes well beyond teaching acceptance for different types of families,” Hussain argued in his legal challenge to dismiss the prosecution. “For instance, it advocates for children to be whatever they feel they might be, including in relation to gender.” One children’s book is titled Introducing Teddy and features a boy teddy who wants to be a girl teddy. The school has responded to Hussain’s objections by stating that “Whilst Mr Hussain may believe being gay and lesbian as well as transgender are morally wrong, they are protected characteristics under the Equality Act.” To deter parental protests, Birmingham City Council got a high court injunction for a bubble zone around schools that forbid the events.

After an initial suspension of the lessons, Parkfield and other schools have resumed with an amended form of the LGBT programming, with a report on the protests indicating that the tension is “unresolved.” Simply put, the Muslim parents do not want their children to be taught gender ideology and LGBT lessons, and want to affirm their right to pass on their religious values to their children. As far as the school is concerned, these parents have no right to prevent them from attempting to inculcate their children into the values of the LGBT movement. There is no middle ground — and that is why Jay Hussain’s case will be an interesting indicator as to how far this might go.

Under law, any parent who “fails to ensure their child attends school for long periods is ultimately liable to a fine of up to 2,500 pounds, a community order, or a jail sentence up to three months.” Even worse, a court could ostensibly deem the parents of the child unfit. It is a faceoff with the highest stakes over a fundamental question: Do parents in the West have the right to pass their values on to their children, or does the state have the right to force postmodern sexual values on the children of others? The LGBT movement is demanding access to the children of others because they know that this is how they win. Hussain’s defiance indicates that he understands this, too.

If this was a Christian facing down the school system and being threatened with jail time, the narrative would have already been set in stone: A homophobic, transphobic, unfit parent is attempting to pass his hate on to his children and must be punished. Because Hussain is Muslim, however, progressives must tread more carefully, because diversity is another sacred cow that must not be disturbed. They have been praising Muslim values without considering the fact that many Muslim values are very similar to Christian values, especially on the issues that seem to ceaselessly animate our culture wars today. The LGBT movement knows how to go to war with Christian parents. We will find out if their thuggish tactics and total disregard for parental rights work as effectively with Muslim parents.

If they do, we could see a Muslim father locked up in prison because he does not want his children to be taught that gender is fluid when they are children. At that point, defiance is an essential response.

Jonathon’s new podcast, The Van Maren Show, is dedicated to telling the stories of the pro-life and pro-family movement. In his latest episode, he interviews Brian Fisher of Human Coalition about the innovative way Human Coalition has saved over 14,500 babies from abortion. Fisher became involved with a pregnancy resource center as a donor and volunteer over 20 years ago. Quickly, Fischer began using his business experience and way of looking at everything to evaluate the pro-life movement. 

You can subscribe here and listen to the episode below:


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Former gay drug dealer speaks out about transgenderism in the US

By Jonathon Van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon Van Maren

Dr. Christopher Yuan, a former drug addict who lived a promiscuous gay lifestyle, joins Jonathon Van Maren on this week’s episode of The Van Maren Show. Dr. Yuan is now a professor at Moody Bible Institute and today, he discusses his powerful journey and conversion and what the LGBT agenda is to the US.

 

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