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News

Catholic historian calls for ‘a trial of communism analogous to the Nuremberg Trials’

Professor Roberto de Mattei warned a conference in Rome that the 'communist virus' has also infected the Catholic Church.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 8:51 pm EST
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Professor Roberto de Mattei speaking at the 2018 Catholic Family News conference. Dave Reilly
Paul Smeaton Paul Smeaton Follow Paul
By Paul Smeaton

February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Catholic historian Professor Roberto de Mattei called for “a trial of communism analogous to the Nuremberg trials” at a national conservatism conference held in Rome last week. He noted that the “communist virus” is not conquered, but has infected much of the West as well as the Catholic Church.

Professor de Mattei explained (read full text below) that the idea of launching an appeal for the trial of communism came last October from the now deceased Vladimir Bukovsky and Professor Renato Cristin. Professor de Mattei said he was convinced that in the 20th century, “there was no crime comparable to that of communism, in terms of the length of time that it lasted, the geographical territory it embraced, and also the amount of hatred that it knew how to generate.” He said that “for this reason, communism should be brought to trial.”

Professor de Mattei argued at the Feb. 4 “God, Honor, Country” National Conservatism Conference that the reason why President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were effective opponents of communism is because they “both believed that communism was a moral evil, not simply bad economics.”

On the other hand, de Mattei noted that communism continues to be promoted by powerful forces in our world today. He highlighted the celebration in the mainstream media of Karl Marx, the continued flourishing of communism in China and Latin America, and its influence on European politics.

“Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in the circles of those who control the ‘media’ of images and the printed word, communism has never been seen as an ‘evil,’ not even after its political collapse,” de Mattei said. “On May 5, 2018, the then-president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, participated in the solemn celebrations in Trier, Germany for the bicentennial of the birth of Karl Marx, defending his heritage. That same year, the New York Times celebrated the bicentennial with an editorial in which it treated Marx like a prophet. And today communism is flourishing not only in China and Latin America but also in Europe, where the communist parties have disappeared but the ideology survives.”

Professor de Mattei noted the ongoing popularity of communist thinker Antonio Gramsci and said that ideas “intrinsic to communist doctrine” such as “evolutionism and hedonism” continue to “pervade the West.”

“The new Europe, which has expelled the name of Christ and every reference to Christianity from its founding Treaty, is fully realizing the Gramscian plan of the secularization of society,” de Mattei said. “It was not by chance that Vladimir Bukovsky defined the European Union as the ‘European Union of Soviet Republics.’”

Professor de Mattei said the “communist virus” has infected not only Western culture, media, and politics, but also the Church. “We all remember the homage given to Fidel Castro by the Vatican authorities in November 2016 and the accord signed by the Holy See with China’s communist government,” he said.

“Cardinal Joseph Zen, the highest prelate in China and the leading voice for persecuted Catholics, recently sent a letter to the College of Cardinals imploring them to denounce this agreement,” he continued. 

“It is for this reason that we say that communism is not dead, and we will continue to call for a trial of communism analogous to the Nuremberg trials.”

* * *

God, Honor, Country: President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and the Freedom of Nations — A National Conservatism Conference

Hotel Plaza, February 4, 2020

Full text of the intervention of prof. Roberto de Mattei

It seems like a paradox, but it’s not. The Berlin wall was built in 1961, when two progressive leaders were at the head of the free world: a political leader, American President John F. Kennedy, and a religious leader, Pope John XXIII.

The same Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989 thanks to the contributions of two conservative leaders: a political leader, President Ronald Reagan, and a religious leader, Pope John Paul II. What I would like to emphasize today is that the strategy of Reagan and John Paul II had greater political success than the détente of Nixon and Kissinger and the Ostpolitik of Paul VI and Cardinal Casaroli.

What were the common elements of the strategy shared by two people as different as the American president and the Polish pope?

It seems to me that the reason for their success was the axiological vision of politics that they both held, which was opposed to both the Realpolitik of Kissinger as well as the Wilsonian tradition of universalist, globalist democracy.

What does an axiological vision mean? It means a vision in which politics is not divorced from moral values but respects them. It was no accident that both Reagan and John Paul II made a moral judgement about the political movements of their day. As George Weigel has noted, both believed that communism was a moral evil, not simply bad economics. The "Evil Empire" speech delivered by Reagan in 1983 is famous.  In that speech, Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" and as "the focus of evil in the modern world".

Likewise, Pope John Paul II, in his last book entitled Memory and Identity, asserted that “the ideologies of evil are profoundly rooted in the history of European thought,” especially the French  Enlightenment, the radically atheist  Marxist Revolution, National Socialist ideology, abortion, and gay rights conferred by the European parliament.   

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in the circles of those who control the “media” of images and the printed word, communism has never been seen as an “evil,” not even after its political collapse. On May 5, 2018, the then-president of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, participated in the solemn celebrations in Trier, Germany for the bicentennial of the birth of Karl Marx, defending his heritage. That same year, the New York Times celebrated the bicentennial with an editorial in which it treated Marx like a prophet. And today communism is flourishing not only in China and Latin America but also in Europe, where the communist parties have disappeared but the ideology survives.

Today evolutionism and hedonism, which are intrinsic to communist doctrine, pervade the West, and the “dictatorship of the proletariat” has been replaced with the “dictatorship of relativism” that comes from the same poisoned well of dialectical materialism. Antonio Gramsci, the theorician par excellence of dialectical materialism, is today one of the five most-studied and most-translated Italians after the 16th century, and among the top 250 world authors of all time who are the most read, translated, and cited.

The new Europe, which has expelled the name of Christ and every reference to Christianity from its founding Treaty, is fully realizing the Gramscian plan of the secularization of society. It was not by chance that Vladimir Bukovsky defined the European Union as the “European Union of Soviet Republics.” He said:“I think we have a gulag in the European Union also, an intellectual gulag known as political correctness. When anyone tries to speak their mind on race or gender, or if their views differ from those approved, they will be ostracized.” (Britain on the Brink)

I would like to recall and honor Vladimir Bukovsky. He died last fall, just ten days before the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9. His final book Judgment in Moscow, Soviet Crimes and Western Complicity was an international bestseller published in nine languages, but has only now been published in English for the first time. This book reminds us that no crime, no matter how slight it may be, can escape from an investigation, from a trial, from a sentence. But this has not happened for communism. Not only has there not been a trial, there has not even been a cultural debate. The prohibition against anti-communism has placed a ban on all study, research, and documentation relevant to communism’s past. The past must be neither discussed, nor condemned, nor “expiated.” Only ex-communists and post-communists, those who participated in some way in the “great illusion” are allowed to criticize communism in the post-communist era.

Last October, through the initiative of the late Vladimir Bukovsky and professor Renato Cristin, a group of intellectuals from various nations of the world launched an appeal for a new Nuremberg Trial on communism.

I have joined this appeal because I am convinced that in the 20th century there was no crime comparable to that of communism, in terms of the length of time that it lasted, the geographical territory it embraced, and also the amount of hatred that it knew how to generate. For this reason communism should be brought to trial.

The request for a trial of communism analogous to that of Nuremberg may appear anachronistic today. Thirty years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the majority of those responsible for the crimes of communism are either dead or have apparently converted to democracy. But the trial of communism that Bukovsky wanted and that we are demanding, before being understood as a legal process ought to be seen as a cultural and moral process that denounces the responsibility of the architects of communism and their accomplices before history and before public opinion, just as happened for National Socialism.

I remember that prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira launched a similar manifest in February 1990. 

Anti-communism has ceased, it has dissolved. For its part, communism has sunk, like a subterranean river that suddenly disappears, only to reemerge later on with greater vigor.

We must not be afraid to say that communism is still alive, because although the Soviet Union fell apart, the communist utopia continues to infect, like a virus, a communist virus, Western culture, media, politics, and also the Church. We all remember the homage given to Fidel Castro by the Vatican authorities in November 2016, and the accord signed by the Holy See with China’s communist government. Cardinal Joseph Zen, the highest prelate in China and the leading voice for persecuted Catholics, recently sent a letter to the College of Cardinals imploring them to denounce this agreement. 

It is for this reason that we say that communism is not dead, and we will continue to call for a trial of communism analogous to the Nuremberg trials.


  catholic, communism, nuremberg trials, roberto de mattei, socialism

News

Russian author imprisoned for opposing communism warned about dangers of socialism

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was thrown in the gulags for speaking against communism. His words are more important today than ever.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 8:41 pm EST
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By Stephen Kokx

February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — If Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn were alive today, he might be tempted to look at the increasingly secular, morally bankrupt West and say, “I told you so!”

Joseph Pearce is an English-born author who runs the Center for Faith & Culture at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee. He told Canadian pro-life activist Jonathon Van Maren that he believes that Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008) not only accurately predicted what would happen to the West, but is someone we should look to for inspiration in dealing with those who want to drag us back to socialism.

“All of us are living, you know, let’s face it, in a world that’s in crisis in so many ways,” Pearce observed. “Solzhenitsyn’s example, real-life example, is incredibly encouraging[.] ... [H]e decided that he would single handedly take on the monster [of communism].”

Solzhenitsyn’s life, Pearce continued, is an example of one man “with courage and using his God-given gift” to “actually overthrow the dragon. And that’s the encouraging lesson I think we get from ... his way of life.”

Solzhenitsyn is perhaps best known for writing The Gulag Archipelago, a nonfiction book he compiled during the 1950s and 1960s. It focuses on the time he and others spent in the Soviet prison system. Historians believe that his writings played an influential role in bringing down communism in the 20th century.

Pearce is one of the few Western journalists to have ever interviewed Solzhenitsyn. He says he was surprised to learn that Solzhenitsyn was an admirer of G.K. Chesterton and that when he met him at his home, he was struck by his humor. Pearce’s book, Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile, based on the time he spent with him, was published in 1999.

Pearce shared with Van Maren an anecdote about a time when Solzhenitsyn was visiting Italy after being exiled from the Soviet Union. After seeing pro-communist graffiti, Solzhenitsyn thought, “A dose of the real thing would do them good ... these people do not understand the fire that they're playing with!”

Pearce said that those who want socialism today are “ignorant of the past” and “know nothing about history.” There have been “tens of millions of people killed by” Marxism. 

Pearce said opponents of socialism and Marxism need to stand up and, like Solzhenitsyn, defend truth.

“We have to embrace martyrdom if that is what’s necessary. Solzhenitsyn was willing to die in order to fight!”

The Van Maren Show is hosted on numerous platforms, including SpotifySoundCloudYouTubeiTunes, 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.


  aleksandr solzhenitsyn, communism, freedom, russia, socialism, the jonathan van maren show

News

Canadian conservative politician Garnett Genuis defends ‘preserving’ gay ‘marriage’

The Catholic father of four believes most of his party's MPs are OK with gay 'marriage' and non-traditional families.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 8:34 pm EST
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Alberta MP Garnett Genuis
Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne
By Lianne Laurence

OTTAWA, February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Alberta Conservative MP Garnett Genuis is promoting a pro-homosexual strategy for the Conservative Party that critics says is fundamentally harmful to families and the pro-family movement.

Genuis, who has a strong pro-life voting record and is well regarded by many social conservatives, is advising the party to ignore the distinction between homosexual and heterosexual couples and be “pro-family” without defining the nature of the family.

Genuis also asserts the Tory caucus is largely in favour of homosexual “marriage,” although he did not respond to a request from LifeSiteNews to confirm his own position.

“In general, our Conservative MPs would support preserving the civil institution of marriage of all couples, heterosexual and homosexual couples,” Genuis told CTV’s Evan Solomon.

“People might have within their own faith traditions, they might say my religious definition of marriage in this context is something different, but certainly in the context of state recognition I don’t think you would find disagreement on that,” added the Catholic father of four.

Conservatives can be a “pro-family party in a pluralistic society,” Genuis wrote recently in the National Post

“Our national conversations should focus more on strengthening marriage and family than on debating definitions. Our pluralistic society obviously contains within it different concepts of what marriage and family are,” he noted.

“And we can, in a pluralistic society, still contend that family is the cornerstone of a strong society, without prescribing a single template. We can be a pro-family party in a pluralistic society.”

Same-sex ‘marriage’ a hot topic in leadership race

It’s notable Genuis is pushing this idea in the context of the early days of a Conservative Party leadership race in which the highly charged issue of same-sex “marriage” is front and center.

Leadership hopeful Richard Décarie touched off a media firestorm when he said being “gay” is a choice, prompting some prominent Tories to call for his disqualification on the grounds of alleged bigotry. Décarie proposes that the party return to its pre-2016 internal policy position of supporting the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. 

After delegates voted in Vancouver in 2016 to remove the Conservative Party's internal policy position that it supports the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, the party has been officially neutral on the issue of same-sex "marriage."

Aspiring leadership contender Ontario MP Derek Sloan also faced media censure when he told CTV’s Solomon that the cause of same-sex inclinations is “scientifically unclear.” Sloan says he doesn’t plan to restore traditional marriage but that, as leader, he would allow MPs to debate and bring forward bills on the matter.

This is all the more significant because the media is stoking the debate within the Conservative Party over its position on social conservative issues and particularly whether Andrew Scheer’s personal opposition to same-sex “marriage” was in part to blame for its loss in the fall federal election. 

Media reports speculate that John Baird’s confidential internal review of the party’s performance confirms this was indeed the case.

Genuis’ strategy morally off-base, politically wrongheaded

But Jack Fonseca, director of political operations at Campaign Life Coalition, Canada’s national pro-life, pro-family political lobbying group, dismissed this as typical liberal media smoke and mirrors.

He blasted Genuis’ apparent attempt to convince social conservatives in the party to accept homosexual “marriage” as just another family type as morally off-base, illogical, ultimately anti-family — and politically wrongheaded.

The 2005 law passed by Prime Minister Paul Martin declaring same-sex unions as “marriage” cost the Liberals the next election, and the Conservatives subsequently stayed in power three consecutive terms with “the official policy position being support for traditional marriage,” Fonseca told LifeSiteNews.

Moreover, Stephen Harper ultimately won his “one majority because he had established the party as a pro-family force by campaigning on having a free vote on the definition of marriage and restoring traditional marriage,” he said.

More recently, Progressive Consrvative Doug Ford won in liberal Ontario by a landslide on a largely social conservative platform, which included a promise to repeal a sex-ed curriculum that teaches gender ideology as fact — further evidence that supporting traditional families is a winning ballot-box strategy.

But more fundamentally, “abolishing the true definition of marriage” gave LGBTQ activists leverage to implement their agenda in a “spectacular fashion,” which has “directly caused marriage and family to suffer in Canada,” said Fonseca.

One example is that “childless, infertile Christian couples, desperate to form a family of their own, are being told by state-run adoption agencies across Canada that they are unfit to be parents because they oppose homosexuality,” Fonseca said.

Another “direct result of the legalization of homosexual marriage is the current transgender revolution, which is tearing apart families in Canada” — with the British Columbia father now fighting to stop his troubled 15-year-old daughter receiving cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers a tragic case in point, he added.

“How can you say you’re being pro-family if you’re supporting an ideology that is discriminating against Christian couples and barring them from being able to form a family?” questioned Fonseca. 

“It’s a stridently anti-family, dangerous and destructive position.” 

Canada ‘hedonistic’ not ‘pluralistic’ 

Fonseca contends that Genuis used the “wrong adjective” when opining that Conservatives can be “a pro-family party in a pluralistic society.” 

Canadian society “is not a ‘pluralistic’ society, but rather a ‘hedonistic’ society, that’s heading towards collapse, precisely because it has turned its back on the laws of God,” he told LifeSiteNews.

“To prop up hedonism under the mask of pluralism, as Garnett is doing, is not a conservative approach, nor is it being pro-family,” added Fonseca.

“The job of a true conservative should be to save society from hedonism by doing the long, hard work of explaining why conservative principles, which include faith in God and the natural family, are vital and necessary to the common good and to a stable and prosperous society.”

Campaign Life president Jeff Gunnarson agreed.

“Garnett is accepting that in a pluralistic society, same-sex ‘married’ couples who, presumably, adopt, or have children via IVF, which results in the destruction of embryonic human life, are part and parcel of a good and healthy society,” he told LifeSiteNews. 

“If we come to accept that premise, we are ripping out the foundations of a once stable, sustainable, and sacred institution that is the true cornerstone of a well-ordered society,” added Gunnarson.

“It’s a shame that Garnett’s views on traditional true marriage, considering his excellent voting record, are not aligned with true and traditional conservative values nor orthodox Christian teaching.”

Fonseca also rebuked Genuis for dismissing the leadership bid of former Harper deputy chief of staff Décarie, whose campaign chair is former MP Brad Trost.

Genuis tweeted Décarie’s comments were “dumb,” and told CTV’s Solomon his views would not find much support in the party.

“Stop attacking a social conservative like Richard Décarie,” countered Fonseca.

“Instead of criticizing him, you should be applauding him for taking a stand for family values and for the traditional definition of marriage. And you should thank him for doing what you don’t have the courage to do yourself.”

Moreover, neither Genuis nor leadership contender Ontario MP Marilyn Gladu corrected Solomon when he said erroneously support for same-sex “marriage” is a “Conservative principal,” when the party is neutral on the issue, pointed out Fonseca.

To respectfully express your views, contact:

Garnett Genuis, MP
Sherwood Park/Fort Saskatchewan, AB
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6
Phone: (613) 995-3611 
Email: [email protected]


  brad trost, campaign life coalition, catholic, conservative party, derek sloan, doug ford, eric genuis, hedonism, homosexuality, jack fonseca, jeff gunnarson, john baird, lgbtq, mp, pluralism, richard decarie, same-sex 'marriage', stephen harper

News

State-sponsored funeral given to 2,411 babies found dead on abortionist’s property

Indiana's attorney general spoke at the service, declaring that 'we fulfill our obligation as a state pursuant to law and conscience to the unborn babies whose lives were terminated' in the state.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 8:16 pm EST
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Attorney General Curtis Hill of Indiana speaks at the memorial service for over 2,400 of Ulrich Klopfer's unborn victims. TheDC Shorts / YouTube
Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy
By Dorothy Cummings McLean

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― Twenty-four hundred eleven aborted babies, victims of abortionist Ulrich Kloper who were found on his property, were finally laid to rest yesterday in a state-sponsored funeral service.

Indiana attorney general Curtis Hill spoke at a funeral service at South Bend’s Southlawn Cemetery and Palmer Funeral Home for the 2,411 children whose bodies or body parts were preserved and stored by Kloper in his garage and the trunk of a car. The service began at 1:00 P.M.

Klopfer himself died on September 6, 2019 at the age of 79. His relatives discovered the majority of the human remains in 79 boxes while they were sorting through Klopfer’s belongings at his Crete, Illinois home. Later, more bodies were discovered in a car kept in Chicago.

According to the Daily Caller, Attorney General Hill said the infants could not be buried in the home states of their mothers because of their disintegrating condition.

He also said that by giving them a burial, “we fulfill our obligation as a state pursuant to law and conscience to the unborn babies whose lives were terminated in clinics in Fort Wayne, Gary, and South Bend.”

Hill called the discovery of the fetal remains “horrifying to anyone with normal sensibilities.” He also suggested that there is evidence that some of the unborn children were killed when they were in their third trimester.

Citizens for a Pro-Life Society (CPLS) wrote on its website that the victims could not be identified.

“Klopfer’s victims could not be identified due to the fact that sadly their bodies had decomposed so badly as they were aborted 18 years ago, and the medical records that were also discovered were so poorly kept,” the organization wrote.

“But that won’t stop us from standing up to recognize these children as our brothers and sisters. By burying them on Wednesday, the last work of mercy, [this] will be the first work of mercy these children will ever know.”

It is not known why the abortionist kept the bodies of his victims. According to the Daily Caller, Klopfer ran three different abortuaries in Indiana and performed over 30,000 abortions since he began his career in 1974. His medical license was suspended in 2016.

As pro-life group Operation Rescue has extensively documented, Klopfer had a history of abuses, including failing to report the statutory rapes of two girls. He sent an eleven-year-old victim home with her parents, who knew their daughter had been raped by her uncle but didn’t want him prosecuted, without reporting the crime to police.

After the bodies were found, the president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life stated that his own organization was “horrified.”  

“We are horrified by the reports of over 2,000 fetal remains being found on the property of Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, a man who operated abortion facilities in Gary, South Bend, and Fort Wayne,” said Mike Fichter. 

“These sickening reports underscore why the abortion industry must be held to the highest scrutiny. We are calling on Indiana authorities to join in the investigation to determine if these fetal remains have any connection to abortion operations, or personnel, in Indiana.”

Dr. Monica Migliorino Miller, director of CPLS, told LifeSiteNews last year that she wasn’t surprised by the grisly discovery.

“Indeed, 31 years ago Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, with the Pro-Life Action League, found hundreds of aborted babies killed by Klopfer left out for garbage pick-up on the loading dock of the Vital Med laboratory in Northbrook[, Illinois],” Miller said.

“These were babies he killed at the Indiana abortion center where he worked at that time — [the] Fort Wayne Women’s Health Organization, owned then by Susan Hill, who decades ago ran a string of abortion clinics. Many of the bags containing the babies even had his name scribbled on them.”

“Citizens for a Pro-Life Society buried some of the Klopfer babies in Tallahassee[, Florida], but many of them were buried in Fort Wayne — as we delivered them to the pro-lifers there for the purposes of their interment.”

Miller wrote in her memoir Abandoned: The Untold Story of the Abortion Wars about finding, rescuing, photographing, and burying the bodies of aborted babies she and other activists found left out with the trash during the early days of legal abortion.


  abortion, curtis hill, indiana, ulrich klopfer

News

Is Sony creating a bisexual Spider-Man who has a boyfriend?

A new movie starring an LGBTQ version of the superhero reportedly is in the works.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 8:14 pm EST
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By Paul Smeaton

February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Cinemas could soon be showing a bisexual Spider-Man with a boyfriend, according to a report in the Hollywood-focused media outlet We Got This Covered.

The report indicated that the film company, Sony, is developing a live-action “Spider-Verse” movie that would star a trio of Spidermen, featuring actors Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield, all of whom have played the role before.

We Got This Covered claims to have heard that Sony is particularly keen on starring Garfield in the movie because they want to portray his version of the hero as bisexual and give him a boyfriend in the film.

Two of three actors have previously called for an LGBTQ portrayal of the popular superhero.

Last year, Holland told the Sunday Times Culture Magazine that he hopes there will be a gay Spider-Man “one day”.

And in 2015, Garfield said that he wanted to see a pansexual Spider-Man.

Garfield told Mic that he was “excited to get to the point where we don’t have to have this conversation, where we can have a pansexual Spider-Man.”

“The richness of the world we’re in, the diversity of the world we’re in, you look at the animal kingdom and you see it reflected,” he continued. “What are we so scared of? Why are we so, ‘No, it has to be this way, a man and a woman.’ Why is that even a conversation?”

Last year’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home” included the first openly transgender actor to be featured by the movie franchise.

The film rights for the Spider-Man movies are shared between Disney, Marvel Studios, and Sony.

Marvel Studios signaled last year that it will produce more films with an LGBTQ agenda. Producer Victoria Alonso and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige have said they plan to have more homosexual characters in future Marvel productions.


  andrew garfield, bisexual, kevin feige, lgbtq, marvel studios, sony, spider-man, tobey maguire, tom holland, victoria alonso, we got this covered

News

German-speaking Catholics disappointed pope’s Amazon Synod doc not liberal enough

While Cardinal Reinhard Marx insisted that married priests and female 'deacons' are still open to debate, others called 'Querida Amazonia' a disappointment for not pushing these issues.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 8:04 pm EST
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German bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck.
Martin Bürger Martin Bürger Follow Martin
By Martin Bürger

February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Following the publication of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia, numerous German-speaking bishops, theologians, and Catholic organizations have weighed in on the document.

As LifeSiteNews reported yesterday, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, emphasized that the apostolic exhortation did not expel the final document of the Amazon Synod, which calls for married priests and new ministries for women.

“By no means is it off the table with the publication of the exhortation! Rather, Pope Francis speaks of his desire ‘to officially present the final document’ together with the apostolic letter, and invites us ‘to read it in full,’” Marx said.

The archbishop of Munich pointed out that in the final document of the synod, a majority of two thirds of the 280 participants who had come to Rome to talk about “New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology” in the context of Amazonia, a vast region in South America, “spoke out in favor of exceptions to mandatory celibacy.”

The president of the Central Committee of German Catholics, Thomas Sternberg, accused Pope Francis of not finding “the courage to implement real reforms regarding the issues of the ordination of married men and the liturgical competences of women, which have been discussed for 50 years.”

Sternberg, who is one of the key organizers of the synodal path in Germany, drew also some encouragement from the apostolic exhortation.

“He expressly reaffirms again and again his conviction that the Church must become a synodal Church, in which the participation of the laity in the shaping of the Church and the proclamation of the Good News has a central role. With this message he encourages us, in our church in Germany, to consistently continue the Synodal Path, which we began very successfully in Frankfurt,” he said of Pope Francis.

According to Sternberg, the pope sees “the necessity to give our church a contemporary shape, oriented to the different cultural challenges, in order to be able to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people.”

Sternberg described Querida Amazonia as reinforcing “the existing positions of the Roman Church, both in terms of access to the priesthood and the participation of women in the services and ministries of the Church.”

“We are convinced that the Eucharist, as source and summit, must remain possible locally, as Pope Francis reiterates in this letter. The question of the conditions for admission to the ordained ministry must take second place to this,” he argued, echoing Cardinal Marx.

Bishop Franz-Joseph Overbeck of Essen, who is also the bishop responsible for Adveniat, a Catholic relief organization heavily involved in the Amazon synod, lamented that married priests were not allowed by Pope Francis.

“I would have wished to the parishes in Amazonia that Pope Francis had followed the decisions of the Amazon Synod and — as a regional solution — had given access to priestly ordination to proven married men (as so-called viri probati) from the Amazon region by way of a dispensation,” the bishop, who has previously shown his openness to female “priests,” said.

“Our relief organization for Latin America, Adveniat, has for decades been promoting the training of lay people and religious for pastoral tasks, including the leadership of congregations,” Overbeck emphasized.

According to Overbeck, Querida Amazonia allows for further discussion on the issues troubling the Amazon region. “And this discussion is necessary. However, it also shows that the Church is already taking big steps regarding her culture of debate. When I took up my ministry as bishop for Adveniat ten years ago, I could not have imagined such a lively and comprehensive debate covering all areas of the Church.”

In this context of discussion and debate, the bishop of Essen also mentioned the synodal path in Germany, which he considered to be an encouraging sign of the new culture of discussion and awakening.

Similarly, Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart pointed out that the papal document allows for new discussions, even if the ordination of married men to the priesthood had not been mentioned. “Bishop Fürst, however, continues to see the diaconate of women as a desirable possibility, for which he will continue to work in the future,” the diocesan press release stated.

“In the local church of Rottenburg-Stuttgart we strongly promote equal rights for men and women. We value the services of women very highly and want to further promote the filling of leadership positions also with lay people,” the bishop stressed.

Fürst also indicated that his diocese will join the pact of the catacombs. As LifeSiteNews reported during the Amazon Synod, “Cardinals and bishops and other participants in the Vatican’s Synod on the Amazon have re-enacted a ‘pact of the catacombs’ first undertaken by Liberation Theology promoters” at the Second Vatican Council.

“The group led by Pope Francis’ chosen head of the synod, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, released the language of the pact pledging to help the ‘native peoples’ preserve their ‘spiritualities,’” the report continued.

A Catholic women’s organization in Germany (kfd), which has about 450,000 members, called the apostolic exhortation “a devastating result for any woman who had hoped for equal rights within the Catholic Church.”

“After what women had expected in the wake of the synod, this is deeply bewildering. On the one hand, women’s work and commitment are praised. At the same time, women are accused of lusting for power because they ask for an official acknowledgment of these praised charisms,” the organization declared.

“Women express their commitment rooted in the deep conviction that God has created humans equal and with equal rights,” the statement continued. It cannot be supported “that the Church keeps denying women these rights,” which, according to the women’s organization, means degrading human beings based on biology.

Father Hubert Wolf, a professor of Church history in Münster, said it is again the bishops’ turn to move forward with the issue of married priests, given that Pope Francis did not replace the final document of the Amazon synod with his apostolic exhortation.

According to a report published by katholisch.de, the news website of the German bishops, Wolf “explained the pope’s reluctance with his responsibility for the unity of the Church, also in view of criticism ‘from the reactionary camp.’”

“I doubt, however, that Francis did himself a favor by this maneuvering, which can also be interpreted as weakness,” the professor mused.

With regard to the role of women in the Church, Wolf maintained that Querida Amazonia is likely “to be a great disappointment and unacceptable for many women.” The pope’s image of women is hardly communicable today, he said.

In Vienna, Jan-Heiner Tück teaches dogmatic theology at the university. Regarding the apostolic exhortation, he said the pope “decided not to make a decision.”

“No relaxation of compulsory celibacy, no viri probati, nothing. He does not reject the final report of the Amazon Synod on this point, but neither does he endorse it. Francis keeps his word — and disappoints,” Tück summarizes the document.

As LifeSiteNews reported on Wednesday, both Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Bishop Marian Eleganti, an auxiliary bishop in Switzerland, see Querida Amazonia in a more positive light.

Müller called the German bishops to a “religious about-face,” given that Pope Francis had refused to allow female “deacons” and married priests in the Amazon region.

The German cardinal acknowledged the pope’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation in a positive way, calling it a “pastoral letter of prophetic power.”

In his statement, he maintained that while Querida Amazonia refers to the final document of the Amazon synod, “the pope does not draw from it any dramatic and disconcerting conclusions.”

Both Müller and Eleganti praised section 101 of the apostolic exhortation.

For Müller, this section states clearly “that the priest is sacramentally conformed to Christ, the head of the Church, by virtue of ordination. Therefore, only a man can symbolically and sacramentally represent Christ as the Bridegroom of the Church.”

“We can only be grateful to Francis for this unusual and unexpected clarity. It means, once again, a rejection of the priesthood for women. Francis sees the place of women in ministries (with effective influence also on organization and leadership) that do not require ordination,” Eleganti agreed.

With many representatives of German-speaking Catholicism arguing that the door has been left open for further discussion on contested issues like female “deacons” and married priests, it remains to be seen how the situation develops. The synodal path will certainly continue looking at celibacy and the role of women, given that two of the four study groups are to focus exactly on those two issues, with the other two studying power and sexual morality.


  amazon synod, celibacy, franz-josef overbeck, pope francis, priesthood, querida amazonia, reinhard marx, synodal path, women's ordination

News

Dubia cardinal criticizes German ‘synodal path’ as protestantizing Catholic Church

The preparatory document for the German bishops' synodal path, says Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, is obsessed with 'power' and will turn the Church into an NGO.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 7:46 pm EST
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Cardinal Brandmüller addressing the 'Humanae Vitae at 50' conference in Rome, Oct. 28, 2017. Diane Montagna / LifeSiteNews
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By Maike Hickson

February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, one of the two remaining dubia cardinals, has just published in the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost a thorough analysis of the German synodal path’s preparatory document that deals with the question of power. As he shows, this document has been permeated by arguments that are similar to the ones used by Martin Luther in the 16th century and is undermining the Church’s hierarchical structure as it was established by Jesus Christ Himself.

The German bishops have started a two-year discussion process called the “synodal path,” which aims at questioning the Church’s teaching and discipline regarding such important matters such as celibacy, female ordination, the role of the laity, and homosexuality. At the end of this process, they plan to decide, together with many laymen, upon a reform agenda for the Catholic Church in Germany. Part of that reform agenda is the strengthening of the laity, in the field of participation and even in the field of Church leadership.

The leadership under Cardinal Reinhard Marx and Professor Thomas Sternberg (of the Central Committee of German Catholics, a lay organization) established last year four discussion forums (on power, women, sexuality, celibacy), each of which published, in September 2019, a preparatory document for the two-year discussions. Since the members of these forums remain the same — except with a few additional members — their documents can give us a good idea of what the plans of this reform process are.

As Cardinal Brandmüller says in his new analysis, here is a great danger that the Church in Germany is being protestantized or even turned into an NGO. He writes about the preparatory text: “Here one is all too obviously oriented toward the model of the Protestant regional churches, their structures and synods. This applies, difficult to understand, also to the composition and structures of the ‘synodal path.’ Such a model of church — the ‘synodal path,’ — corresponds, admittedly, rather to that of a non-governmental organization of socio-pedagogical design than to the Church of Jesus Christ.”

The German cardinal especially highlights that the preparatory document of last September presents the concept of a democratic church, aimed at weakening the importance of ordination. He says: “When there is talk of a fundamental equality of all Church members, then that is, when correctly understood, a matter of course, but in this context, it is only a copying of Luther: ‘For what has crawled out of Baptism can boast that it has already been ordained priest, bishop and pope…’ that ‘we are all equally priests.’”

Cardinal Brandmüller refers here to a certain text by Martin Luther, commenting that “it is astonishing to what extent the demands of the synod paper correspond to Luther’s concern.”

In his sharp analysis, this prelate sees mainly “political” language and a political way of thinking that is alien to the Catholic Church and reminds one rather of a parliament or company.

He states:

Again there is talk of “leadership offices and exercise of power,” which are “to be invested in a participatory way and to be practiced sustainably,” when it is about personnel decisions, distribution of finances, and determination of the “major (ecclesial-political and pastoral) lines.” If there was not also talk of ecclesial and pastoral politics, one could also be reminded of the topics of the supervisory board meeting of an industrial company.

Brandmüller notices in this document “the exclusion of the really central objects the actual illness of the official German Catholicism” — namely “the circling around oneself, the self-referentiality that replaces the ‘going out into all the world,’ the proclamation of the Gospel.”

As an important conclusion, the German prelate and church historian writes that “the obvious attempt to impose secular, democratic structures with its procedures on the Church is basically directed against the essence, the very mystery of the Church.”

Please see here the full analysis of Cardinal Walter Brandmüller:

The German “synodal path”

Now the “synodal path” has begun. To see where it should lead, it may not be too late to take a thoughtful look at the “Working Paper of the Preparatory Forum” of September of last year. For the time being, it may suffice to take a look at the working paper specifically dedicated to the topic “Power and Separation of Powers in the Church — Common Participation and Sharing in the Mission.” Although this text may meanwhile seem outdated with regard to relativizing explanations, it nevertheless reveals quite unprotectedly the world of ideas and intentions of its authors.

Now, one might think that it is about the central truths of the Faith and their convincing proclamation in the world of the 21st century — how necessary that would be!

But none of this is mentioned in the preparatory paper — just as in the discussion within the Church in Germany.

What is to be discussed and decided upon, rather, is power in the Church, the role of women, celibacy and sexual morals, as it has been done incessantly and tiringly since the Würzburg Synod of 1971 [a synod held in Würzburg by the German bishops from 1971 to 1975 —M.H.].

It is shattering to see how, with this choice of topics or the exclusion of the really central objects, the actual illness of official German Catholicism becomes now visible: the circling around oneself, the self-referentiality that replaces the “going out into all the world,” the proclamation of the Gospel.

There one then notes with astonishment how often in this text the term “power” occurs, when in the Church — quite differently from the civil society — it must be about not “power,” but “authority.”

But this means that it has to be exercised, conferred, and answered for by mandate. So much for the “key term” of the text.

When then there is talk about the “standards of a plural society in a democratic constitutional state,” the observance of which is expected by many Catholics “also in their Church,” then it is nevertheless to be asked what in the eyes of the authors still distinguishes the Church from a secular community.

If that is what it is really about, then you can actually start making demands with a “We want...” and formulate intentions, etc. For example, there is talk of participation (in what?) of all members of the People of God and of the separation of powers. The “power,” it says there, is so far “unilaterally bound to the consecration.” There is talk of a “unilateralization of the ordained ministry.” Thus, the question arises of a common participation of all faithful in the assumption, exercise, responsibility, and control of power.

Now finally also the question: “How are office and ordination connected?” In such a perspective, even this question is then asked: “how power of leadership (!) in liturgy, teaching, and diakonia [charity, pastoral care] is divided in such a way that ...” In the end, it is thus basically about “power, participation, and separation of powers” in the Church. Finally, the paper relies “on the intuition of the People of God,” on the “possibilities of theology to think of the Church differently,” whereby “the signs of the time” are to be considered.

Thus, the Church could be led into the width that God opens up. “We do not want a new Church, but a renewed Church. We want to live and think of the Faith differently from how it was before the turning point, which is set by coming to terms with the abuse.” So much for the introductory chapter.

In the following, the text gets to the point more clearly. Here the authors note a “widespread understanding of the Church in Germany,” “which is characterized by a charging of the ordained ministry as ‘holy violence,’” which corresponds “less to a Catholic necessity than to an anti-modern tendency.” But that was a new invention after the Enlightenment. Significantly, there is not given any proof — which is hard to give.

Then the authors find particularly offensive “the concentration of sacramental, legislative, executive, administrative and legal authority,” which is said to be only a development of the 19th century. Question marks must also be placed behind this assertion.

And again, the “normative claims that are lived practice in modern democratic constitutional states,” as well as in the Church, are decisively opposed to this questioned system.

“The universal claim to freedom and equality, which the Church raises [?!], cannot be asserted by her without contradiction when it bounces off the institutional walls of the Church.” Did the authors think here of Luther’s writing “To the Christian nobility...,” which speaks of these very walls? Moreover, a distinction must be made between “being of equal value” and “being equal”!

Once again, the authors are venturing onto the slippery slope when they claim that since the 19th century the Church has “strongly organized herself according to the model of a monarchy” — really? How then?

At the end of the section — for how many times and in an undifferentiated way — the “normative principles of freedom and equality” are invoked, according to which the Church had to be “organized at the level of the institutional possibilities of the time.”

Let us leave it at that for now. The direction in which the Church is to be led is clearly recognizable.

But now, in the end, “principles” are formulated, which, however, require critical examination. The introductory statement, “understanding and exercise of power, participation and separation of powers are key issues” is in fact itself the key to understanding the whole text, indeed the actual intention behind the enterprise called the “synodal path.”

According to the text, the Church needs a “new reflection on the calling and empowerment of the whole Church [!] to proclaim the Gospel.”

This demand is immediately made concrete: it is about nothing more and nothing less than the abolition of celibacy and access of women to the ordination of priests and bishops, which is to be openly discussed. The reference to the necessity of a regulation for the entire Church is only a fig leaf, with which the clear commitment to the female priesthood is for the time being still to be veiled.

And then: The theological basis for it consists in the fundamental equality of all Church members, which is sacramentally sealed in Baptism and Confirmation and is expressed in the “common priesthood of all believers.” Why then ordination to the priesthood would still be required remains unsaid. Once again, it is not recognized that the equal rank of all members of the Church is nevertheless connected with a difference in vocation. Were the authors aware that — with the exception of the mention of Confirmation — they were simply repeating the statements of Luther’s pamphlets of 1520?

When there is talk of a fundamental equality of all Church members, then that is, when correctly understood, a matter of course, but in this context it is only a copying of Luther: “For what has crawled out of Baptism can boast that it has already been ordained priest, bishop and pope...” that “we are all equally priests.” Thus says Luther in “To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation on the Improvement of the Christians,” a writing in which he, among other things, not only mocks, but denies the sacrament of Holy Orders. It is astonishing to what extent the demands of the synod paper correspond to Luther’s concern.

There is then also talk of the separation of powers, of the rights of the faithful — and of the claim that “power of leadership and decision-making cannot be exclusively bound to ordination.” “The leadership of the congregations is also one of these tasks.” It is not bound to ordination!

The next topic is the selection of bishops, for which “participation of those concerned” is considered necessary. Finally, the “synodal path” should decide also upon a framework for differentiation and co-operation of the different ministries in the Church, including the episcopal ministry. And again a “problematic-monopolistic” image of the Church is criticized, which would have to be broken up by processes of “accountability and control, of participation and separation of powers.”

So it is very surprising when one reads in conclusion: “The pastoral ministry of bishops as well as of pastors [!!] is undisputed in the Catholic Church. Nevertheless: it does not justify absolutism in the exercise of ecclesiastical authority.” Of course! But has this ever been denied? However, “also common and shared decision-making powers” were necessary. “Rights to have a say, rights of decision" — obviously by laymen — were already documented here and there. Regional differences are also conceivable.

Again there is talk of “leadership offices and exercise of power,” which are “to be invested in a participatory way and to be practiced sustainably,” when it is about personnel decisions, distribution of finances, and determination of the “major (ecclesial-political and pastoral) lines.” If there were not also talk of ecclesial and pastoral politics, one could be reminded of the topics of the supervisory board meeting of an industrial company.

It is astonishing enough that finally the term “sacramental authority” appears, even if it is immediately again about “authority to rule.” Of course, not to be neglected is the mention that procedures for the separation of powers (what is that?) as a control of power have “proved themselves in modern democracies.”

If now it is also demanded that “Church leadership” (what is that?), legislation, and jurisdiction should not be in the hands of the bishop alone, this not only goes beyond the scope of the existing law, but also contradicts the hierarchical structure of the Church grounded in the sacrament of Holy Orders. It is astonishing enough that it is nevertheless recognized in casual tones: “The episcopate is indispensable and central for the structure of the Church,” as indeed “the bishop’s ministry in ordination and in the assignment to leadership” is clarified in the Catholic Church.

It is difficult to see how the contradictory statements or demands concerning the episcopate could be reconciled with one another. Finally, the text takes giant steps toward the goal of democratizing the Church: selection processes in the form of elections “and deliberations” (what is that?) with participation of elected representatives of the whole People of God, accountability of all office bearers to “democratically elected bodies,” time limitation — i.e., probably term limits — for important executive offices...would have a result that would have only the name in common with the “Church of Jesus Christ.”

So much just to characterize the actual aim of this paper — and thus of the whole synodal enterprise. The obvious attempt to impose secular, democratic structures with its procedures on the Church is basically directed against the essence, the very mystery of the Church.

II

Read with due attention, our text thus grants deep insight not only into the ideas and intentions of the authors, which are probably to be found in the vicinity of the “Central Committee of German Catholics.” The reader here also hears language as it is usually to be heard in the political milieu. It is a political vocabulary that the reader encounters in an ecclesial text. It is quite characteristic that in its 19 pages, the word “power” appears 79 times — an observation that shows what the authors are ultimately concerned with: power. It seems to have been forgotten that authority can exist in the Church only as an authority exercised by the Lord of the Church by virtue of a mandate, and that this authority is conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, and not by popular election. The religious and pious phrases interspersed rather abruptly contrast strangely with the political vocabulary of the text. This is probably a reference to the existence of different authors. But the overall impression remains: it is about politics. “Your language betrays you — you are a Galilean” (Mt. 26:73).

A further characteristic of the text is the one-sided emphasis on the participation of the laity in the Church. One might think this was previously unknown. Meanwhile, the authors here meet with open doors — and thus reveal their simple ignorance of canon law, which — according to Codex Iuris Canonici Can. 224–231 — determines the rights and duties of the laity.

The demands made in our text, however, go far beyond that. Here, one is all too obviously oriented toward the model of the Protestant regional churches, their structures and synods. Here one is all too obviously oriented toward the model of the Protestant regional churches, their structures and synods. This applies, difficult to understand, also to the composition and structures of the “synodal path.” Such a model of church — the “synodal path,” — corresponds, admittedly, rather to that of a non-governmental organization of socio-pedagogical design than to the Church of Jesus Christ.

It is as significant as it is strange to see how little the authors of our text understood that the Church of Jesus Christ is neither a monarchy nor a democracy, etc. She is a mystery of faith that cannot be adequately grasped by human categories, and about which even Holy Scripture can speak only in images. But where is this insight in the present text — apart from the slight use of theological, pious vocabulary?

One might think that for the “synodal path” of the German Catholics, the Constitution Lumen Gentium of the Second Vatican Council first of all is decisive. In the present text, however, no reference is made to it. Also, where are the relevant documents of the post-conciliar teaching authority?

And what about those passages of the Gospels where the mission of the apostles is mentioned, where it is about the nature of the Church as the Body of Christ, as the House of God, as the vine? Well, Jesus said not to the crowd or to the women and disciples who followed Him: “Whoever listens to you, listens to Me, receives the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any,” et cetera, but, rather, only to the Twelve, who were gathered in the Upper Room, and who were given the commission “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

All this, and also Paul with his spirit-filled vision of the mystery of the “Church” — all this is not supposed to have any meaning for the “synodal path”? Apparently, this also applies to Vatican II’s constitution Lumen Gentium on the Church.

How urgently, even evocatively, does the admonition of the Apostle Paul sound here: “Do not make yourselves equal to this world” (Rom. 12:2). This appeal applies today in a special way to the bishops, the Catholics of Germany.

Translation by LifeSite’s Maike Hickson.


  catholic, celibacy, germany, homosexuality, synodal path, walter brandmuller, women's ordination

News

FBI arrests seminary prof for threatening to kill journalist who exposed sex-abuse coverup

Paul Lubienecki allegedly sent a message to the reporter covering the story in the scandal-ridden Diocese of Buffalo that said, 'I'm going to kill you.'
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 7:28 pm EST
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Dr. Paul J. Lubienecki
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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

BUFFALO, New York, February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― A Buffalo diocesan seminary professor has been arrested after allegedly threatening to kill reporter Charlie Specht. 

Dr. Paul J. Lubienecki, 62, is also alleged to have threatened diocesan whistleblower Fr. Ryszard Biernat and to have told Bishop Richard Malone’s former secretary Siobhan O’Connor that he hoped she would burn in hell. 

Lubienecki was arrested by the FBI yesterday morning and appeared in a Buffalo courtroom yesterday afternoon. He has now been charged with cyberstalking. According to Specht’s employer WKBW, the lecturer faces five years in prison if found guilty. 

Lubienecki teaches at both Christ the King Seminary and SUNY (State University of New York) Fredonia. He received a Ph.D in History in 2013 from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and his specialty is the Catholic labor movement.

 

O’Connor told LifeSiteNews that the FBI had advised the victims not to “make any formal comments on the matter.” But on Facebook, both she and Fr. Biernat thanked well-wishers and expressed gratitude to the FBI. 

“Very grateful that Charlie and his family can be at peace tonight,” O’Connor wrote yesterday.

Biernat added, “I really feel bad for Mr. Specht and his family. He was giving a voice to so many victims, and what he gets in return is death threats.”

O’Connor described the saga as “crazy beyond the realm of fiction.” 

Specht told LifeSiteNews that the only comments he is allowed to make can be found in the WKBW story published yesterday.  

For more than a year, Specht was WKBW’s lead reporter on the Buffalo diocese clerical sexual abuse and cover-up crisis. In the summer of 2018, O’Connor, distressed by Bishop Malone’s mishandling of the crisis, leaked confidential diocesan documents to Specht a week before she resigned as Malone’s secretary. A passionate advocate for victims of clerical abuse, O’Connor called upon Malone to resign. She was joined by her friend and fellow diocesan secretary, Fr. Ryszard Biernat, who accused Malone of inaction regarding the sexual harassment of a seminarian by a diocesan priest. 

Not everyone was grateful for the spotlight that Specht, O’Connor, and Biernat shone on the embattled diocese. According to a sworn affidavit to a Buffalo court by FBI special agent Randal E. Garvey, Specht began to receive harassing phone calls from numbers associated with Lubienecki in August 2019. Among the messages were such sentiments as “Nice going, a*******, you’re a real fraudulent reporter” and “So Malone is still bishop … and you’re still a bad Catholic and a horrible reporter.”  

On December 4, 2019, the day Pope Francis accepted Malone’s resignation, Specht received the following message: “Oh, you must be so happy. You destroyed the Diocese of Buffalo and Bishop Malone. Oh, you must be so proud. You’re a piece of s***, you really are a piece of s***. (...) You must be so proud of how you destroyed everything. I’m gonna destroy your career.” 

O’Connor and Biernat also received anonymous messages on December 4. The caller told Biernat that, among other things, “you destroyed a good bishop, a good man. You must be proud of being such an a******. Leave the priesthood or we’ll get you.” In his rant against O’Connor, the caller said that “you got rid of a good man. I love the bishop and now you got rid of him. Such an a******.  I hope you burn in hell.” 

On February 4, it was announced that Christ the King Seminary would close. Specht received a new message that day ― and this one contained a death threat. 

“You must be so happy the seminary’s closing,” the caller said. “I know where you live (...). You’re a bad person. I’m going to find you. I’m going to kill you.”

Specht reported the call to police. According to Special Agent Garvey’s affidavit, the reporter had advised him that “based on the multiple voicemail messages he has received, (Specht) is in fear for his life and has suffered substantial emotional distress.” According to WKBW, its parent company had arranged for Specht, his wife and his children to move from their home to an “undisclosed location with around-the-clock protection from a private security firm.” 

The 7 Eyewitness News reporter told WKBW, “We were shocked, surprised and scared.” 

“I got the feeling that this one person ― whoever they were ― had spent months harassing me about really personal things, and was now threatening violence,” he continued.  

“I wanted my family to be safe. We put our trust in law enforcement to find out who was doing this.”

Garvey told the court that he believes Lubienecki is the culprit because of phone records linking the professor to the messages and also the similarity of Lubinecki’s voice in a public speech he gave to the voice in the messages. 

According to WKBW, Specht discovered the identity of the man police suspected was his harasser only after Lubienecki’s arrest yesterday. The reporter expressed both his gratitude to the legal authorities and explained where criticism of the press should end.

“We are grateful that federal prosecutors and the FBI made this a priority,” the reporter said. 

“Criticism of news reporting is acceptable and even welcomed. But making personal threats against a reporter for simply doing his job goes against the entire American belief in a free press.”

Lubienecki did not give a statement to the media when he left the courthouse yesterday afternoon. When 7 Eyewitness News reporter Eileen Buckley asked him if he had anything to say, he retorted, “You can’t get near me ― you know that?” 

“Why would you make a threat to somebody, especially to kill them?” Buckley asked. 

“Isn’t that against the teaching of the Catholic faith?” 

The Diocese of Buffalo has released a statement by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, the diocese’s temporary apostolic administrator, condemning the abuse of journalists. 

“There is no place -- nor should there be any tolerance -- for threats or harassment towards members of the news media or any one else,” Scharfenbeerger said via Twitter. 

“This is against who we are as Christians, but also against our nation’s founding principles that guarantee freedom to the press and freedom of speech,” he continued. 

“As a Church, we must be able to withstand the glaring light of scrutiny -- even as we seek to pierce the darkness with our own light, demonstrating Christ’s abundant love, forgiveness and care for us all.”  

Marc Jaromin, WKBW vice president and general manager, also issued a statement. 

“As journalists, we know when we hold the powerful accountable for decisions that have damaged our community there is the possibility of backlash,” he said.   

“We want to thank the FBI for its thorough investigation and swift action. Our employees’ safety is our priority.”

LifeSiteNews has reached out to Dr. Lubienecki but has not yet received a response. 


  catholic, charlie specht, christ the king seminary, clergy sex abuse scandal, death threats, diocese of buffalo, edward scharfenberger, paul lubienecki, pope francis, richard malone, ryszard biernat, siobhan o’connor, wkbw

News

Amazon priest: Synod fathers used indigenous people to ‘attack Catholic faith’

Father Ignacio Maria Doñoro said Amazonians hunger for God and want good, holy, celibate priests.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 7:04 pm EST
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Father Ignacio Maria Donoro
Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – People in the Amazon region had no interest at all for the Amazon synod and said, on the contrary, they were used by it “to attack the Catholic faith.” 

Father Ignacio Maria Doñoro should know. He founded a home for youngsters – boys and adolescents – from the margins of society. In the Peruvian Amazon, he said in a recent interview with Infovaticana, a major Spanish-speaking Catholic website, what the poor people are thirsting for is God.

Ignacio Maria Doñoro is a former “Padre” – as army chaplains are known – who moved from assisting victims of ETA terrorism to various international missions. He has been in the Peruvian Amazon for the last 10 years as a part of the Prelature of Moyobamba. He called his institution “Hogar Nazaret” – “Home of Nazareth” which takes in high-risk and socially-excluded children and teenagers. The website of Hogar Nazaret is here.

In the interview, Fr. Doñoro is very clear about what the Amazon needs: dedicated, celibate priests who have totally given their lives to God and who are “sanctifiers of the people.” “After God, priests are everything,” he told Infovaticana, quoting Saint Jean-Marie Vianney.

Asked about the Pachamama veneration in Rome, he told the interviewer that the boys of Hogar Nazaret so much love Our Lord and the Virgin Mary that they would surely have reacted like “the young people” who entered into Santa Maria in Traspontina – Alexander Tschugguel and another person – and threw the “demonic statuettes” in the Tiber.

Doñoro added that he himself “wept” when he saw them “in the physical heart of our Holy Mother Church, above the holy remains of St. Peter and St. Paul.”

Below is a translation of the part of Infovaticano journalist Fernando Beltrán’s talk with Fr. Doñoro that directly concerns his work in the Amazon. It took place and was online before the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation “Querida Amazonía,” but remains very timely.

***

Fernando Beltrán: What are the greatest difficulties facing evangelization in the Amazon?

Ignacio Maria Doñoro: Difficulties? There are none. To be here talking to them about God, whom they have never heard of, is marvelous. These people are truly hungry for God. They are moved. In El Salvador, something very funny happened to me. I said a Mass that lasted 45 minutes. The people were very angry and asked me how it could have lasted so little; they had not come for hours and hours walking to hear such a short Mass. They said they wanted to delight more in the Lord and that they wanted to know more. And that I should tell them more, that the Mass should last longer. The next Mass took me an hour and a half, and to them it also seemed very short ...

The people here are hungry for God. That is why the presence of God here is very great. His words resound in the Amazon with great force.

Here you find communities that only have Mass once a year and are happy to be able to welcome the priest. They love priests very much! You go down the street and everyone greets you, they ask for your blessing …

I usually carry several rosaries in my pocket and hand them out throughout the day. That a priest should give them a rosary is for them a caress from God to their heart. What these people want and need are holy priests, devoted in body and soul.

FB: What were the Catholics’ expectations during the recent Synod? Did the work and the final document reflect the desires of the Amazonian people in your opinion?

IMD: Here in the Amazon Forest, the Synod, which in theory established a dialogue on the problems of the Amazon, had no significance at all. No one was talking about the Synod. No one. They didn’t hear about it. The people here are very poor. It is also true that, like most, they have television, but what they watch is soap opera. They don’t read newspapers or get information.

In my opinion, it does not make much sense to have made a synod only for the Amazon and I am concerned that certain issues have been raised, and also about the way they have been raised, because it is strange, but these are things that have nothing to do with the reality of the Amazon.

In the midst of some of the controversies that have arisen around the Synod, some words of Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, have given me personally a lot of light: “I fear that some Westerners are using this assembly to advance their plans. I am thinking in particular of the ordination of married men, the creation of women’s ministries and the jurisdiction of the laity. These points touch on the structure of the Universal Church. To take advantage of them to introduce ideological plans would be an unworthy manipulation, a dishonest deception and an insult to God who guides his Church and entrusts her with his plan of salvation. Furthermore, I was surprised and outraged that the spiritual distress of the poor in the Amazon was used as an excuse to support typical projects of bourgeois and worldly Christianity. It is abominable.”

I, who have been in this blessed land for 10 years now, first in Madre de Dios, then in Moyobamba, what I see every day is that the simple people are thirsty for God, they thirst for truth. Christ is the only Truth. They may be poor, but they are not fools, and they like the truth. … That is what they need. That’s their greatest desire.

FB: In Europe, the focus has been on “the Pachamama.” To what extent is this figure related with the Amazon? What did you think when you saw the images of the strange ceremony in the Vatican gardens where one of these figures was worshipped in front of the Pope?

IMD: I remember with emotion, the moment before the end of the Synod, when they broadcast a video of some young people who entered the church of the Carmelites, near the Vatican, where the demonic statuettes were exposed on an altar, and threw them into the river Tiber. … I cannot help thinking that my children of the Nazareth Home, who love Jesus and the Virgin Mary very much, would have felt just as badly as those young people, which would surely have led them to act in a similar way.

Andrea Tornielli, the Vatican’s editorial director, called those who committed these acts “vandals” and “new iconoclasts.” He said that “this was not idolatry, but a symbol of fertility, of the earth and the sacredness of life.”  His arguments, so weak and supported by such limited concepts, showed the fragility of his reasoning and left a very bitter taste.

I can affirm that I saw these idols for the first time in the images that came to us from Rome. I wept when I saw them in the physical heart of our Holy Mother Church, above the holy remains of St. Peter and St. Paul. I was scandalized and, like me, the event scandalized millions of Catholics all over the world.

I think that somehow, the indigenous people of the Amazon Forest were utilized to attack the Catholic faith. The last of the earth, the smallest, the weakest, were used to show, moreover, a different reality from the one we experience here. I repeat that I have not seen the Pachamama or these other idols here and I have been here for 10 years now.

The Catholics of this region with whom I have spoken felt bad when they saw these things that did not represent them or mean anything to them. They feel, as many do, a need to repair the Heart of Jesus. The only Queen of the Amazon is the Mother of God. It is precisely this region of the Amazon that is named “Mother of God” in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

For a Christian – and that also means, of course, a Christian of the Amazon – there is no other God or savior but Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born from the virginal womb of Mary.

FB: During the last few weeks the focus has been on Pope Francis’ next post-synodal exhortation, which will gather the fruits of the synod. There are many expectations in this exhortation. Some have the hope – reflected in the final document of the Synod - that the Pope will allow the ordination of married people for special pastoral needs in those regions. How would you feel about such a measure? In your experience there, do you see the need for such a decision? Would that argument not be applicable to other places in the world with a lack of priests?

IMD: I believe that the Amazon, like the Church throughout the world, needs holy and learned priests, priests who are humble and joyful. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said that, on one occasion, when she was speaking with a priest, he said, “Mother, for me Jesus is everything. I have no time or space left for other affections.” And Mother Teresa understood that if that priest was bringing so many souls to God, it was because he was united to Him.

I think that today, more than ever, in the Amazon and elsewhere in the world, what is needed is not the ordination of married people, but priests in love with Christ.

That is the priest’s job: to bear witness of the merciful and unconditional love of Jesus Christ and to bring souls to God. And all this after years of study, prayer and discernment, after which he is ordained to give glory to God and serve others.

The priest is the sanctifier of God’s people. He is a sanctifier through the sacraments he administers: above all, Baptism, the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation. The holy Curé d’Ars, Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, patron saint of priests, said something that may be shocking because the words he uses are strong, but that contains a great truth: “After God, the priest is everything! Leave a parish 20 years without a priest and they will worship the beasts. When you want to destroy religion, you start by attacking the priest, because where there is no priest, there is no sacrifice, and where there is no sacrifice, there is no religion.”

I think that today, more than ever, in the Amazon and elsewhere in the world, what is needed is not the ordination of married people, but priests in love with Christ, with an undivided heart that they do not wish to share with anyone else but Him.

God chooses his priests, who consecrate themselves to him in the fullness of their life, in an unconditional “fiat.” Christ was celibate and he asks us priests to espouse him and give him the gift of our virginity, just as he wanted to give it to the Father for love of us. It is a wonder!

Bishop Rafael Escudero, who was a Synodal Father at the Synod on the Amazon, wanted to warn of the dangers that the ordination of viri probati could entail: “Old married men who are ordained would mean a kind of second class priesthood and the identity of the Catholic priest would be reduced to a mere sacramental function. The priest, from being a pastor of the community, a source of counsel, a teacher of Christian life, a close presence of Christ, would become a mere functionary of the Mass.”

I think that those dangers of which Bishop Escudero warns are real. The mission entrusted by Christ to the priest is so great – and I quote again the Curé of Ars – that “if he were to become aware of it, he would die. God obeys him: he says two words and Our Lord descends from heaven. The joy of saying Mass will not be understood except in heaven.” All of us priests have read and meditated on these beautiful words hundreds of times. God has trusted us so much that he has placed himself in our humble hands. We cannot fail him. We cannot lower our ministry or divide it into first and second class priests. God deserves everything.

FB: One of the issues that carried most weight at the October synod was ecology. How do you see that problem? Do you see it as a priority? What do you think should be the priorities for the Church in the Amazon?

IMD: I am going to answer the first question from the reality I know. I have taught my children at Hogar Nazareth to respect plants. The exuberance in the forest is impressive. Nature is so beautiful that it speaks to us of God and we must respect it. That is why taking care of our common home is important.

But here in the Amazon, along with a tremendous depredation of nature, there is a depredation of the human being. People are trafficked, and we come to the point of considering that the other is one thing, that the woman is a possession of the man. ... That is why I would have liked the Synod to have raised these kinds of questions and spoken, among other things, about the dignity of women, the dignity of mothers and how to solve many of their problems. This seems to me to be a priority issue.

Earlier, I quoted Mother Teresa, who is one of the great figures of human history, and who has much to do with the history of the Nazareth Home. She insisted a lot on the defense of unborn children. She said that something out of the ordinary happened when the Virgin Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth and the unborn child jumped for joy in the presence of Jesus. “It is very strange that God would use an unborn child to proclaim the coming of Christ. We know the things that are happening to unborn children – how their own mothers end their lives! Abortion has become the greatest destroyer of peace, of love, of truth today. The unborn children are the poorest of the poor. They are so close to God! I always beg the doctors in the hospitals of India never to kill a child. If no one wants it, I will keep it.”

These words of Mother Teresa move me to action. Many women are deceived here. All too often I meet girls who are terrified because they think they have to have an abortion. The crime of abortion is terrible and we are always struggling to get the Home for Unborn Children going, despite the lack of financial and human means to help these young women have their children, and regain joy through love. None of them have ever regretted bringing their child into the world.

Another issue that I consider fundamental is to make a clear and firm commitment to the truth. For the truth in morals, for the truth in God’s revelation (without sweeteners), for the truth in the great debates that are opening up, to face them with courage. I refer, for example, to gender ideology, to the value of human life before its conception and to the end of its days, etc.

At the same time, and together with these great themes, it is fundamental to seek supernatural means, such as prayer, Holy Mass, adoration, personal encounter with the Living Christ in the Eucharist, devotion to the Virgin Mary … I believe that this is what we have to do, here in the Amazon and in the rest of the world, because the Church is universal.

Finally, I would like to give voice to the poor. Let us not forget the neediest. The people of the Amazon, precisely because they are the poorest, deserve the best. They deserve priests who are totally dedicated to their ministry, who become one with Christ, whose heart is undivided. That is what I believe is needed. It is not because there is a need for priests that I am going to look for second-rate priests. … Besides, a formation is needed. Here the formation of priests lasts a minimum of 10 years, much longer than in Spain. In my Prelature, an immense effort is being made for the seminary. I think it’s a good bet. That requires forming native priests, and that takes many years, much effort, much sacrifice, much money, and much prayer. And all this is what is being done in Moyobamba, here, in the Amazon, thanks to God and to the generous dedication of many people.


  amazonian synod, catholic, fernando beltran, ignacio maria doñoro, married priests, pachamama, pope francis, priestly celibacy, women deacons

News

Benedict’s statement on priestly celibacy book ‘has never seen light of day’: Vatican journalist

Journalist Sandro Magister claims both Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah wept over controversy surrounding their book.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 6:50 pm EST
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Martin Bürger Martin Bürger Follow Martin
By Martin Bürger

PETITION: Support Cardinal Sarah's and Pope Emeritus Benedict's Defense of Priestly Celibacy" Sign the petition here.

ROME, Italy, February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Vatican journalist Sandro Magister has said a statement written by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI indicating “the full consonance” between him and Cardinal Robert Sarah as the authors of a book defending priestly celibacy “has never seen the light of day.” Additionally, the statement called for “the cessation of all controversy.”

The Rome-based journalist speculated that it was this statement, which was never published, that caused Pope Francis to put Archbishop Georg Gänswein on leave. 

Originally, it was reported by French newspaper Le Figaro, which also published excerpts, that the book From the Depths of Our Hearts on clerical celibacy was written by Cardinal Sarah as well as the former Pope.

Right away, “a storm of criticism ensued against the cardinal and the Pope emeritus, portraying both of them as at odds with Pope Francis,” Edward Pentin wrote in summarizing the developments for the National Catholic Register.

Magister pointed out that the Prefect of the Papal Household, Archbishop Gänswein, repeatedly denied “a co-responsibility of the Pope emeritus in the composition and publication of the book, to the point of requesting the withdrawal of his signature, and contrasted to no avail by the precise and documented reconstruction, made public by Sarah, of the genesis of the book itself by the united efforts of its two co-authors.”

Gänswein usually spends part of his day with the former Pope, for whom he has served as private secretary for many years. Meanwhile, Ganswein also serves as the Prefect of the Papal Household, which puts him in close contact with Pope Francis during official events.

After the disastrous rollout of From the Depths of Our Hearts, Gänswein was reportedly put on leave by Pope Francis. While the press office of the Holy See claimed his absence at public events was “due to ordinary redistribution of the various commitments and duties,” many experts on the Vatican see a direct connection between the book on celibacy and his being put on leave.

The first edition of From the Depths of Our Hearts still listed both Benedict and Sarah as co-authors, but subsequent editions pointed to the former Pope as a contributor. The same is true for many of the translations published in various countries.

Magister, who writes for Italian weekly L’Espresso, used the notable absence of any mention of married priests in Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Querida Amazonia” to investigate how much influence the publication of the book on celibacy in January might have had on the papal document.

Magister recounted that on January 15, while Archbishop Gänswein was with Pope Francis at the Wednesday audience, “Benedict XVI picked up the phone himself and called Sarah first at home, where he did not find him, and then at the office, where the cardinal answered.”

During the phone call, Benedict XVI expressed his “heartfelt solidarity” with Sarah, who is the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

“He confided that he could not understand the reasons for such violent and unjust aggression. And he wept. Sarah wept too. The call ended with both of them in tears,” Magister wrote.

Even though he spoke of “multiple independent sources,” it is not entirely clear how the contents of a phone call between two high-ranking members of the Church reached the Vatican journalist.

The Pope emeritus from Germany and the cardinal from French Guinea in Africa met in person on Friday, January 17, first at 5 p.m. and then again at 7 p.m. After those meetings, the cardinal reported on it “in three tweets, in which he confirmed the perfect harmony between himself and the Pope emeritus in the publication of the book.”

“Because of the incessant, nauseating and lying polemics that have never stopped since the beginning of the week, concerning the book From the Depths of Our Hearts, I met this evening with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” Sarah tweeted in French.

He continued, “With Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, we were able to see how there is no misunderstanding between us. I came out of this beautiful conversation very happy, full of peace and courage. I call you to read and meditate From the Depths of Our Hearts. I warmly thank my publisher, Nicolas Diat, and Fayard, for the rigor, probity, seriousness, and professionalism they have shown. Excellent reading to all!”

In his article, Magister revealed that during those same meetings, Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah had written “a concise statement that was intended to be made public with the sole signature of the Pope emeritus, to certify the full consonance between the two co-authors of the book and call for the cessation of all controversy.”

According to Magister, who has looked at a copy of the statement, “Ratzinger’s personal, even autobiographical, trait is evident.”

The former Pope’s private secretary then delivered the statement to Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, who is the Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State. “And it is reasonable to hypothesize that he informed both his direct superior, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Pope Francis himself about it,” Magister wrote.

The Vatican journalist went on to speculate that it was this statement, which was never published, that caused Pope Francis to put Archbishop Gänswein on leave. 

“In the eyes of Pope Francis, Benedict XVI’s statement had in fact proven the unreliability of the repeated denials made by Gänswein of the Pope emeritus’ co-responsibility in the composition of the book,” said Magister.

“In other words, the opposition of the Pope emeritus against his successor giving in to the radical currents on the front of clerical celibacy stood out at this point front and center, without any attenuation anymore. And all this a few days before the publication of the post-synodal exhortation in which many, all over the world, were expecting to read an opening by Francis to the ordination of married men,” he continued.

Magister also explained that Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State, had strongly encouraged the publication of the book. As a matter of fact, Magister wrote, Parolin had looked at the press release put out by the Italian publisher and “burnished (it) line by line.”

The press release praised the book by Cardinal Sarah and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as “a volume of high theological, biblical, spiritual and human value, guaranteed by the depth of the authors and their willingness to make the fruit of their respective reflections available to all, manifesting their love for the Church, for His Holiness Pope Francis and for all humanity.”


  amazon synod, benedict xvi, catholic, from the depths of our hearts, georg ganswein, pope francis, priestly celibacy, robert sarah, sandro magister, vatican

News

Virginia Democrats walk out on, gavel down pastor who stood for life and marriage

House members took umbrage with the pro-life, pro-marriage minister's message and the House Speaker cut him off while he was still praying.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 3:31 pm EST
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Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

RICHMOND, Virginia, February 12, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A pastor’s forceful remarks about the sanctity of life and the traditional family became a focal point for controversy in Virginia on Tuesday, with Democrat lawmakers walking out on the invocation and the House speaker forcing him to end early with the bang of her gavel.

Invited by Republican state Del. Michael Webert, Rev. Dr. Robert M. Grant Jr. of The Father’s Way Church delivered the opening prayer for the Virginia House of Delegates’ Tuesday session and took the opportunity to remind the legislators of God’s values and judgment.

“I pray that we do not provoke God’s anger by making laws that can destroy the fabric of this great state and our wonderful country,” Grant said. “God is love, God is merciful, God is holy, and God is also judgment. Please do not provoke his anger and bring wrath upon this state by what you create as law. Biblical history is very clear. His wrath upon the earth is documented. We are not exempt. We are not exempt. If he does not grant us mercy for the atrocities that are being done, we will eventually encounter the judgment of the Almighty God, and may the Lord have mercy upon us all. 

“I pray that you may understand that all life is precious, and worthy of a chance to be born. God is a giver of life, and people have no right or authority to take life,” he continued. “The unborn has rights, and those rights need to be protected. They should never be denied the right to exist, the right to develop, or the right to have a family. The Word of God has given us a warning: ‘woe to anyone who harms an innocent child.’ Every one of you sitting here today can guarantee these rights to these little, innocent children of Virginia … please do not ignore their little voices. I pray for a heart changed today, and may the Lord God have mercy upon this leadership.”

Grant also prayed “that the bills and laws being passed will always protect the Biblical traditional marriage, as God instructed the first man and the first woman in the Bible, that the two shall be one flesh. That a man and a woman shall be fruitful and multiply. We should never rewrite what God has declared. If a state wants to use God’s law, then it needs to be respected. It’s not yours to change or alter the wording. The Bible is the copyright of God’s word. Marriage is to join a biological male and a biological female in holy matrimony, not to provoke the Almighty God. 

“Without laws to protect traditional marriage, Virginia will be reduced to increase fatherless children and welfare victims and homelessness, and tax burden to us all,” he warned, at which point Democrat House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn cut in by banging her gavel and beginning to lead the chamber in the daily Pledge of Allegiance without waiting for Grant to stop talking.

“Is this a prayer or a sermon?” an unidentified Democrat was heard yelling during Grant’s remarks, the Virginia Mercury reported. Democrat state Del. Luke Torian, who is also a pastor at First Mount Zion Baptist Church, complained that the strong pro-life, pro-family remarks were “totally disrespectful to all of us, all of us in this House.”

At least one Republican also complained, with state Del. Matt Fariss claiming “this wasn’t the place or time to do all of that” but rather a “time we need to be working together and not being divisive,” and speculating that perhaps Grant “was ill-instructed or didn’t realize what he was here to do.”

Grant himself is standing firm, however.

“I think that the statehouse belongs to all the citizens. And all the citizens have a voice,” he told reporters. “If it’s my turn to have a voice, and I am a pastor, what do you expect from me? If you don’t want to hear what a pastor has to say, then don’t invite one.” Grant added that Democrats’ response was “unprofessional.”

Virginia has gained national notoriety for its far-left turn after Democrats’ November 2019 takeover of both chambers of the legislature. For almost a full year beforehand, Gov. Northam had been a lightning rod for criticism for defending the prospect of letting a doctor and family decide to let die a fully-delivered newborn that was deemed to be “nonviable” or have “severe deformities.”

The state legislature recently passed the so-called Reproductive Health Protection Act, which would empower various non-physician health workers to commit first-trimester abortions, repeal the 24-hour waiting period for abortion, and eliminate the requirements that a woman seeking an abortion undergo counseling and be offered the chance to see an ultrasound of her baby.

Virginia Democrats are also advancing a litany of pro-LGBT measures, include a repeal of the state’s unenforced, pre-Obergefell statute prohibiting same-sex “marriage,” a ban on counseling minors to help them overcome unwanted same-sex attraction, adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to state nondiscrimination rules, the ability to easily change the sex listed on their official birth certificate, a mandate that health insurance cover sex-reassignment surgery, the creation of a new model curriculum on “social justice,” legislation mandating transgender access to opposite-sex facilities, recognition of “preferred” pronouns, gender-confused boys’ participation in girls’ sports, and more.


  abortion, eileen filler-corn, family, homosexuality, lgbt, luke torian, marriage, matt fariss, michael webert, robert grant, virginia

News

Thousands in Virginia join March for Life to stop 17,000 annual abortions

'By God’s grace, we will restore Virginia'
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 3:27 pm EST
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Marchers at the Virginia March for Life, Feb. 13, 2020. LifeSiteNews
Danielle Zuccaro Danielle Zuccaro Follow
By

VIRGINIA, February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Despite a rainy forecast in central Virginia, thousands of Virginians flocked to the state capitol today to oppose the radical abortion agenda of Virginia’s new Democratic-controlled legislature. 

About 17,000 babies were aborted in Virginia in 2019. 

“Now our Commonwealth is passing laws which will add tragically to that number,” stated Bishop Barry Knestout, of the Diocese of Richmond, at an opening Mass for the day. 

“So, on this day we join as local churches — Arlington, Richmond — in fervent and urgent prayer,” he added. 

Drawing concerned citizens from near and far, this year’s March for Life challenged the newly elected Democratic majority with the message that liberal pro-abortion extremism has no place in the commonwealth.

Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation, told LifeSiteNews at the event that Virginia pro-lifers must have hope despite the bleak situation they face with a Democratic-controlled legislature.

“We are never without hope. If you’re a person of faith, you’ll never be without hope,” she said.

“But it is a difficult time. But there are seasons. There are always seasons. So our job is simply to make our voices heard, meet with as many legislators as possible, tell them the stories — they too know post-abortive women — and if they’re honest about the experiences and the stories that they hear then our job is just simply to help them vote with their conscience,” she added.

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, said one of the “rallying points” today is that “elections count.”

“Everybody who’s pro-life needs to really be active in the elections in Virginia and nationally, etc., because your vote really makes a difference,” she said. 

The marchers gathered on the front lawn of the Virginia State Capitol, listening to rally speeches from various public figures and leaders in the pro-life movement, including Jeanne Mancini, Victoria Cobb, Delegate Kathy Byron of Virginia’s 22nd District, and many others. 

Jeanne Mancini coined Virginia as “Ground Zero” for abortion laws in the country.

Rally speakers honed in on the abortion lobby’s efforts to pour three million dollars into the last campaign in order to elect radical pro-abortion politicians, who are in turn slashing the commonwealth’s decades-old pro-life laws. These sweeping measures remove the 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, enable others besides doctors to perform abortions, and withhold key information from the mother including viewing of the ultrasound and full explanation of the abortion procedure.

Despite this bleak reality, the Commonwealth’s pro-lifers prayed, cheered, and united to march for Virginia’s most vulnerable lives. In the words of Del. Kathy Byron, “by God’s grace, we will restore Virginia.”

Pete Baklinski contributed to this report.


  barry knestout, march for life, virginia, virginia march for life

News

WATCH: US House holds moment of silence for 2,411 aborted babies found on abortionist’s property

Remains of 2,411 abortion victims were given a dignified burial after being discovered on the property of abortionist Klopfer.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 3:12 pm EST
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The US House of Representatives holds a moment of silence for abortion victims, Feb. 13, 2020. C-Span
LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today led the House of Representatives in a moment of silence for the 2,411 unborn children whose remains were buried yesterday in a dignified ceremony after being stored for nearly two decades on the property of Indiana abortionist Ulrich Klopfer.

“Such callous disregard for human life should shake us to the core,” Republican Congresswoman Walorski said. “These children deserved justice and dignity. Madam Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in observing a moment of silence for the thousands of innocent victims that were laid to rest yesterday.” Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

“I rise today to honor the 2,411 unborn children whose remains were finally laid to rest with dignity yesterday in South Bend, Indiana,” Walorski said. 

“These victims of Indiana’s most prolific abortionist would be in their late teens now, graduating from high school and entering into college. But their innocent lives were cut short, and they were denied a proper burial. Instead, their remains sat for almost 20 years in a garage and a car trunk, in moldy boxes and Styrofoam coolers. Such callous disregard for human life should shake us to the core. These children deserved justice and dignity,” she added. 

“To make sure this never happens again, the House must pass the Dignity for Aborted Children Act to build on Indiana’s law, upheld by the Supreme Court, that requires dignified treatment of aborted fetal remains,” Walorski continued.  

“Madam Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in observing a moment of silence for the thousands of innocent victims that were laid to rest yesterday. Thank you, and I yield back.”


  abortion, dignity for aborted children act, house of representatives, jackie walorski, ulrich klopfer

News

Senate to vote on banning late-term abortion, infanticide

Should babies who survive failed abortions be given the same care as other newborns, or should they be left to die? Should there be any limit on abortions of babies who feel pain? The bills address these questions.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 2:40 pm EST
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com
Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire
By Claire Chretien

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Republican leadership began the process today of initiating a vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban most late-term abortions past five months of pregnancy, and the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, which would require basic medical care for newborns born during failed abortions.

Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, made a motion to begin debate on the bills. The first votes on both pieces of legislation will actually be on ending debate on the bills.

If 60 senators vote to end debate on the bill, the Senate will vote on the bill itself. But Senate rules make it impossible to vote on a bill unless 60 senators agree that the vote should take place. (Republicans changed these rules to allow the Senate to confirm President Donald Trump’s two Supreme Court nominees and other judges but not legislation; it’s likely that if Democrats regain control of the Senate they will simply change the rules again so as to be able to pass legislation with only a simple majority.)

Therefore pro-life groups typically score votes such as the upcoming procedural ones as votes in favor of or against late-term abortion. The Senate is in recess next week and will vote on the bills upon returning. 

One of Trump’s campaign promises was to sign the pain-capable bill into law. It passed the U.S. House in October 2017 but failed to pass the U.S. Senate in January 2018. It was then that Democrat Senators Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND, high-fived after voting in favor of late-term abortions on babies who feel pain. The latter is no longer in office.

Trump has also honed in on Democrats’ seeming support for infanticide during rallies and speeches, including the recent State of the Union.

The U.S. is only one of seven nations that allows abortion through the ninth month of pregnancy. Some individual states restrict it, but there is no federal law against late-term abortion. The partial-birth abortion ban merely prohibits a certain late-term abortion method. 

Under the pain-capable bill, babies conceived in rape could still be aborted past 20 weeks, even though the bill is premised on the barbarity of late-term abortion and how it is painful to the babies who are killed that way.

The born-alive bill would require that if a baby was born during a failed abortion, a doctor would have to treat that baby the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence as he would any other newborn.

Both chambers of Congress have been focused on abortion this week. 

The House held a hearing yesterday on a bill to allow a totally unregulated abortion industry and establish a federal statutory right to commit and obtain abortions. One of its pro-abortion witnesses was Dr. Yashica Robinson, an Alabama abortionist who was indicted in 2014 for healthcare fraud and selling misbranded IUDs. She is the medical director of a Huntsville, Alabama abortion facility that has previously been cited by the health department, for, among other things, failing to wipe off tables between abortions.

“Over the years, Alabama Women’s Center has been forced to comply with onerous, medically unnecessary building requirements,” she testified. “For example, we were forced to outfit our clinic as an ambulatory surgical center having to install 24-hour lighting.”

“Alabama is a state with unconscionably high maternal and infant mortality rates. There are many pre-existing conditions that can be made worse by pregnancy, and other serious health conditions can be caused by pregnancy,” Robinson continued. “Without access to abortion, maternal mortality rates will rise even more.” 

Today, the House voted to remove the deadline for the ratification of the so-called Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The ERA would enshrine the “right” to abortion in the U.S. Constitution, pro-life groups warn. 

And on February 11, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on babies born alive after failed abortions.

The contenders in the 2020 Democrat presidential primary are all united in their support for late-term abortion on demand and at taxpayers’ expense. Andrew Yang, however, recently came under fire for saying abortion is a “tragedy” and shouldn’t be “celebrated.” Recently on The View, former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg similarly suggested late-term abortion is a sad, difficult choice made after “devastating” news. Nevertheless, it ought to be legal, he said, while also refusing to condemn infanticide. 


  abortion, born alive abortion survivors protection act, pain-capable unborn child protection act

News

YouTube to fund ‘far-left’ news outlet’s training videos

Conservatives are doubtful the effort will be non-partisan.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 1:19 pm EST
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Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Conservatives are questioning the purported impartiality of Google-owned video giant YouTube once again this week, following the revelation that the company is lending financial support for the far-left commentary outlet Young Turks.

Axios reports that, as part of YouTube’s $25 million “investment” in creating news content, it has decided to give the Turks a sum “in the mid-six figures range” to support the channel’s TYT Academy project, an online course ostensibly to help train users in journalism practices and video production.

On paper, the partnership is supposed to be a non-partisan effort to support local news creators, with TYT chief business officer Steven Oh assuring Axios the company is “not interested in cranking out journalists who share our political viewpoint whatsoever.” Conservatives are doubtful, however, given the record of the Turks and their lead host (and congressional candidate), Cenk Uygur.

Among Uyger’s far-left views is the claim that progressives (a movement that only began to take shape in America following the Civil War, and whose leading figures included the notoriously racist President Woodrow Wilson) deserve the credit for the American Revolution, ending slavery, and enacting civil rights laws. He also came under fire in 2018 for the discovery of past comments in which he wrote that women who didn’t want to sleep with him were “genetically flawed.”

At NewsBusters, Alexander Hall recalls that TYT contributor Hasan Piker (Uygur’s nephew) has been a source of controversy for calling the 2017 shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) “tragic yet incredibly ironic” because of Scalise’s support for gun rights, and for declaring last year that “America deserved 9/11, dude.”

Conservatives have long been wary of Google and YouTube due to recurring cases of biased search results and left-wing discrimination. YouTube has deleted investigation footage from pro-life group Live Action, censored discussion of transgenderism and mental illness, restricted educational videos from conservative pundit Dennis Prager on false “mature content” pretenses, and more.


  big tech, cenk uygur, fake news, google, social media bias, the young turks, youtube

News

Dem controlled House votes to revive pro-abortion Equal Rights Amendment

The amendment could be interpreted as codifying into law non-rights such as abortion.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 12:20 pm EST
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Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

URGENT PETITION: Stop House Democrats' effort to revive pro-abortion Equal Rights Amendment!  Sign the petition here.

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted 232-183 Thursday to vote on eliminating the long-expired deadline for ratifying the controversial Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), though the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to do the same.

House Joint Resolution 79 simply states that “notwithstanding any time limit contained in House Joint Resolution 208, 92d Congress, as agreed to in the Senate on March 22, 1972, the article of amendment proposed to the States in that joint resolution shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the United States Constitution whenever ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States.”

Originally proposed and defeated decades ago, the ERA simply states that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” But conservatives argue that if implemented, this redundant language would be interpreted as codifying into law non-rights such as abortion and have broad ramifications on everything from the military draft and sex-segregated prisons to women-only restrooms and male-only clergy.

“If the time limit COULD be extended, the ERA would not bring women any more rights than they currently have but it would entrench the legality of abortion,” Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) said in a press release. “We know this from court precedent and by listening to those who have the most to gain from constitutionally protecting abortion on demand. In 1998, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the Equal Rights Amendment in their state constitution requires state-funding of abortions. Federal courts are likely to do the same.”

Lawmakers in South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia have been working on reviving the ERA, while the U.S. House Judiciary Committee voted in November to retroactively lift its deadline for ratification. With today’s successful House vote the matter now rests with the hands of the Senate, which is not expected to pick it up.

Further, a 38-page opinion from the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel argues that legally, H.J. Res. 79 is insufficient: “Even if one or more state legislatures were to ratify the 1972 proposal, that action would not complete the ratification of the amendment, and the ERA’s adoption could not be certified under 1 U.S.C. § 106b. In addition, we conclude that when Congress uses a proposing clause to impose a deadline on the States’ ratification of a proposed constitutional amendment, that deadline is binding and Congress may not revive the proposal after the deadline’s expiration.”

In a rare instance of bipartisan agreement, left-wing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg set aside her personal support for the ERA Monday and acknowledged at a Georgetown Law School event that a “new beginning” was the only way for supporters to proceed. “A number of states have withdrawn their ratification,” she noted. “So if you count a latecomer on the plus side, how can you disregard states that said ‘we’ve changed our minds?’”

LifeSiteNews is currently circulating a petition opposing revival of the ERA. “Such an attempt would be both illegal and costly, all for the sake of political point scoring,” it argues. “The nation is tired of political theatre, and we are asking Congress, and the Democrats, in particular, to stop indulging in ideological flights of fancy, and get back to work.” Readers can click here to read, sign, and share the petition.


  abortion, congress, democrats, equal rights amendment, feminism, house of representatives, ruth bader ginsburg, vicky hartzler

News

New poll shows majority of Canadians want to ban late-term, sex-selective abortions

Canada currently has no abortion law at all.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 12:09 pm EST
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Anthony Murdoch
By Anthony Murdoch

CANADA, February 13, 2020 - (LifeSiteNews) – A recent survey shows a majority of Canadians are opposed to late-term and sex-selective abortion and would support making these practices illegal. The country currently has no law governing abortion, allowing a mother to legally abort her baby through all 9 months of pregnancy for any reason. 

When it comes to sex-selective abortion the poll shows that a “vast majority (84%) oppose legalizing abortion if the family does not want the baby to be a certain sex.” 

And seven in ten (70%) “Canadians think that abortion should be generally illegal in the last three months of pregnancy.”

The mainstream media have said polls show Canadians have very little in the way of pro-life opinions; however, this is not what actual survey results indicate. 

The new poll titled “Abortion - A Canadian Public Perspective after Three Decades” was commissioned by Postmedia to “commemorate” the 1989 Daigle vs. Tremblay case, in which the Supreme Court of Canada ultimately ruled that unborn babies have no legal status as people. As it stands now, Canada has no official abortion law, although the poll repeatedly makes mention that such laws in Canada exist, but fails to mention the backstory. 

Abortion was legalized in Canada in 1969 when then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (Justin Trudeau’s father) passed a heavily criticized Omnibus Bill, which amended the criminal code to allow abortions to be done in hospitals under permissive circumstances.

This law remained in effect until the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the 1969 law as unconstitutional in the 1988 Morgentaler decision. The law was removed on a technicality, however.  The court ruled that it violated a woman’s Charter right to security of the person since the law could not be applied equally across the country. 

The court encouraged the Canadian Parliament to come up with replacement abortion legislation. This effort failed when then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s draft law was dismissed in a Senate tie vote. The result of this is that since then, Canada has no abortion law at all, and thus abortion is permitted up through all nine months of pregnancy. 

‘Legislating by popular consent is a massive mistake’

While the poll found overall that 70% of Canadians “find abortion acceptable,” that 62% “identify as pro-choice,” and that 71% believe that a woman “should be able to get an abortion if she decides she wants one no matter what the reason,” when pushed about late-term abortion and sex-selective abortion, however, the numbers flip-flop. 

According to an analysis of the survey by Canada’s national pro-life and pro-family lobbying group, Campaign Life Coalition, it shows many Canadians are in a “state of confusion” and have a weak understanding of basic human biology when it comes to abortion. This is reflected in the contrasting survey results. 

“Legislating by popular consent is a massive mistake. What this poll shows is the state of confusion of the Canadian population on the question of abortion,” Campaign Life’s Hanna Kepka told LifeSiteNews.

“The responses given demonstrate a poor knowledge of basic human biology on the part of the respondents. This suggests a poor level of teaching of this subject in Canadian schools, Ontario and Quebec being the worst,” added Kepka. 

Conducted jointly by the polling group DART & Maru/Blue, the poll randomly selected 1,515 Canadian adults from every province, except for Prince Edward Island and all of the Canadian territories.

Kepka feels the conflicting polling data also suggest that in some ways, Canadians are inconsistent or even criminal in their attitudes. 

“What are we to conclude? A certain percentage of Canadians consider that it is acceptable to take an innocent life. Should we consult with such people on matters of life and death? These people oppose the most fundamental element of our legal system.”

Kepka continued: “If we did a similar survey on theft, I am sure that a certain percentage of the population would approve of it. Would anybody suggest that we should be legalizing theft to any extent?” 

Polling data suggest strong support for aborting babies in the early stages of pregnancy, with only 14 percent feeling abortion should be illegal during the first trimester, but 34 percent believing that life begins at conception. 

The support for abortion falls the longer the pregnancy continues, however, which Kepka notes again shows Canadians are confused. A total of 58 percent feel that during the second trimester, the baby is alive, and 43 percent believe abortion should be illegal in the second trimester. This increases to 82 percent feeling there is life in the third trimester, and 70 percent believing abortion should be illegal in the third trimester.

A total of 93 percent of respondents feel that there should be a law that requires doctors to inform patients about the risks of abortion before committing one. The poll also showed that most respondents are in favor of mandating that before an abortion, doctors should be required to inform women about alternatives. 

A total of 78 percent are in favor of creating a law that would mandate doctors to spell out the alternatives. The highest percentage of respondents who would support this type of law hail from Atlantic Canada (82 percent), and Alberta (81 percent), with the lowest support from British Columbia (72 percent). 

According to statistics from Campaign Life Coalition,  there are approximately 100,000 surgical abortions committed every year in Canada. Since 1969 when it became legal, abortion has killed four million preborn babies in Canada.

Kepka also notes that the survey results show that the higher the income and education levels, the more likely one is to have a liberal way of thinking.

“I think that it is important to notice that more educated and better-paid people are systematically more pro-abortion than the much less educated and much less paid individuals,” said Kepka. 

 “When one looks at the income and education levels, the higher they are the more brainwashed the respondents are into a progressive way of thinking, such as pro-abortion, anti-rights, anti-science. This suggests that Canadian schools are quite effective in indoctrinating students. The effects are the strongest in Quebec, Ontario, and BC, and the weakest on the prairies and Atlantic Canada.” 

Lastly, Kepka noted that the older the age of respondents, the more informed they are about abortion which could show that they are better educated about the issue. She says most answers show the youngest participants in the 18 to 34 year range are the least well-informed and most deficient in wisdom. 

When the age goes up to the 35 to 54-year range, in many cases, the responses given are more informed.

Editor’s note: Pete Baklinski contributed to this report. 


  abortion, canada, late-term abortion, poll, sex-selective abortion

News

Vatican spokesman: Pope’s Amazon synod exhortation is ‘magisterium…final document is not’

Querida Amazonia’s stress on the final synod document, however, continues to raise concerns.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 11:44 am EST
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Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni speaks at press conference on Pope Francis' new exhortation Querida Amazonia, Feb. 12, 2020, Rome. Diane Montagna / LifeSiteNews.com
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By Diane Montagna

ROME, February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Questions regarding the magisterial weight of the Amazon Synod’s final document, which called for married priests and “new” ministries for women in the region, took center stage at the February 12 Vatican press conference on Pope Francis’s summary document on the synod, Querida Amazonia [Beloved Amazon].

The synod’s final document, which received a two-thirds majority from bishops at the conclusion of the October 6-27 Vatican assembly, proposed ordaining married men to the priesthood in order to make the Eucharist more widely available to Catholics in the Amazon region (n. 111).

At the presser, a chorus of often discordant voices united in expressing their common confusion over Pope Francis’s introduction to Querida Amazonia, in which he states his intention to “officially present the [synod’s] final document,” encourage “everyone to read it,” and “strive to apply it” according to their vocation in the Church. 

Was the Pope officially approving the synod’s final document and its proposal for married priests, even though he was silent about celibacy and “viri probati” [i.e. men of proven virtue proposed for ordination] in his apostolic exhortation? And if so, was he giving bishops’ conferences — particular that in Germany — the go ahead to decide on married priests at the local level? 

In prepared remarks, panelist Cardinal Michael Czerny, who served as special secretary for the Amazon Synod, discussed the “status of the two documents” and where they “fit into the magisterium.” 

Regarding the final document, he said that “apart from formal magisterial authority,” the Pope’s “official presentation and encouragement” confer on it “a certain moral authority.” 

“To ignore [the final document] would be a lack of obedience to the Holy Father’s legitimate authority, while to find one or other point difficult could not be considered a lack of faith,” Czerny said.  

The Czechoslovakian-born Canadian Jesuit, whom Pope Francis made a cardinal in 2019, added that the final document, “consisting of proposals made and voted by the Synod Fathers, has the weight of a synodal final document.” Querida Amazonia, “reflecting on the whole process and its final document, has the authority of ordinary magisterium of the Successor of Peter.”

The cardinal’s comments left members of the Vatican press corps perplexed.  

Veteran Italian journalist Sandro Magister summed up the problem, saying: “In the exhortation there’s not a word regarding the priestly ordination of married men. But in the synod’s final document there is […] Does this mean a bishops’ conference can take the final document as a springboard to decide on matters concerning the priestly ordination of married men?”

Cardinal Czerny said he didn’t recall saying the final document is included in the papal magisterium but that the various and particular proposals “remain on the table” and that the Pope “encourages the Church in the Amazon and the Church everywhere” to “apply [them] in proportion to the reality in which they find themselves.”

Seeking to clear up the confusion, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said: “The apostolic exhortation [Querida Amazonia] is magisterium. The final document is not magisterium.” 

Bruni said the Amazon synod’s treatment of celibacy and the permanent diaconate “was meant to respond to the pastoral need: evangelization” and that “the Pope’s position on celibacy” has been reported in the media. 

Still not satisfied, another journalist asked how one is to understand the final document in light of Pope Francis’s 2018 apostolic constitution Episcopalis Communio, n. 18, which states: “If it is expressly approved by the Roman Pontiff, the final document participates in the ordinary Magisterium of the Successor of Peter.”

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, clarified that Querida Amazonia “does not talk about approval of the final document” but about “presentation” and is therefore “not magisterial.” 

New York Times reporter Jason Horowitz pressed further, asking if the “issue of married priests” can be implemented by bishops’ conferences “without the Pope’s approval.” Bishops conferences “can’t just decide to do that,” he said, suggesting that Querida Amazonia therefore seems like a “rejection” of married priests. 

Matteo Bruni reiterated that “the synod was on evangelization” and that, while “proposals were made, not all of them were picked up in the apostolic exhortation.” 

The final document is “precious” and derives its authority “from the synod of bishops,” he said, but it “does not become magisterium” through the Pope’s presentation of it in Querida Amazonia.  

The Vatican spokesman insisted that “anything in the final document should be read through the lens of the apostolic exhortation.”

“Even the application or implementation should be done in light of the exhortation itself … Is it clear?” he asked.

Apparently not to all, as NBC then pressed Cardinals Baldisseri and Czerny for “a little clarity.” 

“Does this mean that the Pope has closed the door on the issue of married priests and women deacons?” NBC’s correspondent asked. 

Cardinal Czerny implied that clarity was not the object of the exercise, explaining:

I think the best way to understand this is as part of a process and part of a journey. That’s why it’s called the synod. We are at a very important point of the synodal process, and there are long roads ahead as well as roads already travelled. And so, the questions you are returning to are questions on the road, and the Holy Father has not resolved them in any way beyond what he has said in the exhortation. So, if there are questions you feel are open, or that the Church feels are open, thanks to the exhortation, they will continue to be debated, discussed, discerned, prayed over and when mature, presented to the appropriate authority for decision. There are decisions that can be made in a diocese, in a [bishops’] conference. And there are decisions that are made here [in Rome]. So, I think if you’re looking for a kind of closure so that you can end your article with a punch, I’m afraid there isn’t that kind of closure. 

After the press conference, LifeSite spoke with Sr. Bernadette Riess, English coordinator for Vatican News, about the magisterial weight of the synod’s final document. 

“The final document does not have ordinary magisterial authority unless it is ratified and promulgated by Pope Francis and that’s a direct quote from number 18 of Episcopalis Communio. This particular final document did not receive such ratification and promulgation. We need to be very clear about that,” she said. 

Sr. Bernadette continued: “What we also have to remember is that all synod’s have a final document. In this case, the synod’s final document was published and in this particular apostolic exhortation the Holy Father is presenting it and wants it to be read, but he also wants people to strive to implement it.” 

Pressed on what she meant by implementing the final document, Sr. Bernadette mentioned a number of non-controversial measures proposed in the document and observed that not all of them were directly referenced in the Pope’s apostolic exhortation, suggesting that Pope Francis “wants this document to remain alive.” 

When it was suggested to Sr. Bernadette that there is a significant difference between the creation of a university or a communication network and the ordination of sexually active married men, she conceded that such a decision would have to be approved by the Pope. 

“I think Pope Francis has been very clear, even in this document, that in his mind more ordained ministries are not what the Church needs. He’s made that very clear and he’s consistent in saying that, because he sees that one element that needs to be corrected first is the link between authority and priesthood (while maintaining a hierarchical Church). He comes out directly saying that,” she said.  

While stressing Pope Francis’ observation that women represent the Marian aspect of the Church, and that the fixation on female ordination may express clericalist presuppositions, Sr. Bernadette was unwilling to concede that a woman is simply not the proper matter for the Sacrament of orders (just as orange juice cannot be used for baptism). She was of the view that the issue of women being ordained to the diaconate was still up for discussion. 

Pope Francis has decided not to make a universal law allowing for the priestly ordination of married men in Querida Amazonia, but given his emphasis on the synod’s final document, will he allow local synods to decide in the future? The “journey” continues.


  amazon synod, catholic, matteo bruni, michael czerny, pope francis, querida amazonia

News

Cdl Müller: German bishops need ‘religious about-face’ after pope halted female deacons, married priests

'I hope that a religious about-face will now be carried out in Germany.'
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 11:02 am EST
Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Cardinal Gerhard Müller. Diane Montagna / LifeSiteNews
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By Martin Bürger

February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — German cardinal Gerhard Müller said that now that Pope Francis has refused to allow female deacons and married priests in the Amazon region, the German bishops should perform a “religious about-face.”

“I hope that a religious about-face will now be carried out in Germany,” he said in light of Pope Francis’s exhortation Querida Amazonia, released yesterday. The German bishops in their “synodal path” had called for female ordination, the abolishment of celibacy, and a loosening of the Church’s sexual morality.

“Above all,” continued Müller, “the universal Church and the Holy Father must be asked for forgiveness for the schismatic act of putting the decisions of a body unauthorized for doctrinal questions above the teaching of the Church and thus above Revelation, as if one had never heard of Vatican II.”

Müller, the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, acknowledged the pope’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation in a positive way, calling it a “pastoral letter of prophetic power.”

He said in a statement, originally published by German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost, that while Querida Amazonia refers to the final document of the Amazon Synod, which took place last October, “the pope does not draw from it any dramatic and disconcerting conclusions.”

The final document had actually called for the ordination to the priesthood of married men living in the Amazon region, as well as the permanent diaconate for women. Müller expressed his happiness over the fact that the pope “does not want to fuel existing political, ethnic, and inner-Church conflicts and conflicts of interest, but rather to overcome them.”

The cardinal is hopeful that Querida Amazonia could have a reconciling effect, “reducing internal Church factions, ideological fixations, and the danger of inner emigration or open resistance.” In that context, Müller continued, it is to be hoped “that the interpreters of this document will refrain from unnecessary harshness and take up the concerns of the Holy Father like true sons and daughters of the Church in a spirit of agreement and collaboration.”

Müller showed his appreciation for the fine line drawn in the exhortation “between worship of the Creator and worship of the created as if it were God,” which must not be forgotten.

Bishop Marian Eleganti, auxiliary bishop in the Swiss diocese of Chur, also praised the document for its “loving, conciliatory, unagitated and pleasant, humble tone” across all pages.

Bishop Eleganti went into more detail, stating that in one passage, Pope Francis may have been defending the use of the Pachamama statues during the Amazon Synod.

On October 4, 2019, Pope Francis hosted a pagan ceremony with Pachamama statues in the Vatican Gardens and even blessed one of the statues. At the ceremony, people were bowing down to the ground, worshiping the statue. Additionally, the pope prayed in front of the Pachamama statue at St. Peter’s Basilica on October 7 and then accompanied it in procession into the synod hall. The pope confirmed that the statue was “Pachamama” and apologized for other Pachamama statues being thrown into the Tiber river.

In section 78 of Querida Amazonia, Pope Francis states that people should “not be quick to describe as superstition or paganism certain religious practices that arise spontaneously from the life of peoples.” In section 79, the pope continues that it is “possible to take up an indigenous symbol in some way, without necessarily considering it as idolatry,” adding that a “myth charged with spiritual meaning can be used to advantage and not always considered a pagan error.”

While admitting the truth of this statement, Eleganti offered some words of criticism. “That is true, but then one should not fall down before this symbol, nor should one carry it before oneself like a monstrance, as happened in the presence of the pope and other high church dignitaries during the Amazon Synod in Rome.”

Both Müller and Eleganti indicated their admiration for article 101 of the apostolic exhortation, in which Pope Francis speaks of Jesus Christ appearing “as the Spouse of the community that celebrates the Eucharist through the figure of a man who presides as a sign of the one Priest. This dialogue between the Spouse and his Bride, which arises in adoration and sanctifies the community, should not trap us in partial conceptions of power in the Church. The Lord chose to reveal his power and his love through two human faces: the face of his divine Son made man and the face of a creature, a woman, Mary.”

For Müller, this states clearly, in the sense of the defined doctrine of faith, “that the priest is sacramentally conformed to Christ, the head of the Church, by virtue of ordination. Therefore, only a man can symbolically and sacramentally represent Christ as the Bridegroom of the Church.”

“We can only be grateful to Francis for this unusual and unexpected clarity. It means, once again, a rejection of the priesthood for women. Francis sees the place of women in ministries (with effective influence also on organization and leadership) that do not require ordination,” Eleganti agreed.

According to Müller, Pope Francis’s approach to the nature of the priesthood falls short, as he defines it through the exclusive power to say Mass as well as to administer the sacraments of penance and the anointing of the sick. “Bishops and priests represent Christ, in whom [they have] the total ministry of teaching, sanctifying and governing,” Müller clarified.

The German cardinal once again emphasized that ordaining married men, often referred to as viri probati, to the priesthood is not an option. Francis does not mention that issue at all in his apostolic exhortation.

“But a solution, which is praised all too pragmatically by many in the consecration of viri probati, would not be a relativization of celibacy in the Latin Church. For with it, the Church would, in the epochal challenge of postmodern secularism, dispense with the most effective remedy — namely, that the servants of the kingdom of Heaven symbolically renounce marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God,” said Müller.

Bishop Eleganti again seconded the thoughts of Cardinal Müller, saying Pope Francis does not open the doors to married priests, but instead calls for priests to be sent to the Amazon region as missionaries.

Eleganti, a Benedictine abbot before he was ordained a bishop, was critical of Francis’s plan to extend the competence of the laity, something not mentioned by the German cardinal in his analysis.

In article 94, the pope spoke of “lay leaders endowed with authority,” referring to a provision made by the Code of Canon Law (CIC). “If, because of a lack of priests, the diocesan bishop has decided that participation in the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish is to be entrusted to a deacon, to another person who is not a priest, or to a community of persons, he is to appoint some priest who, provided with the powers and faculties of a pastor, is to direct the pastoral care,” canon 517 of the CIC states.

“Francis does not seem to think about the conflicts between ordained and non-ordained ministers of the Church, which remain a great weakness of his proposal,” said Eleganti. “The German-speaking countries have enough experience and conflicts in this regard which to this day could not be solved and have their origin in the creation of full-time non-ordained community leaders authorized or empowered by the bishops,” the Swiss bishop argued.

In conclusion, Eleganti praised the portrayal of Our Lady by Pope Francis as she who overcomes “this pagan idea and worship” on display in connection with the Pachamama statues.

“I see here the decisive counterpoint to the previous debate about Pachamama, a kind of pagan-indigenous deification and personalization of the so-called Mother Earth and her cultic worship,” wrote Eleganti.

The overall positive attitude toward Querida Amazonia did not take into account points made by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the president of the German bishops’ conference. According to his interpretation, Pope Francis refers the readers of his exhortation back to the final document of the Amazon Synod.

“By no means is it off the table with the publication of the exhortation,” Marx emphasized yesterday. Since the final document called for married priests and female deacons, those questions are still open to further discussion, Marx argued.

The president of the Central Committee of German Catholics, Thomas Sternberg, expressed his disappointment in the apostolic exhortation since it did not allow for married priests in the Latin Church or an opening of the diaconate to women. Sternberg is confident that the document “reinforces the existing positions of the Roman Church, both in terms of access to the priesthood and the participation of women in the Church’s ministries and offices.”

However, Sternberg also echoed Cardinal Marx. “We are convinced that the Eucharist, as source and summit, must remain possible locally, as Pope Francis again emphasizes in this letter. The question of the conditions for admission to the ordained ministry must take second place to this,” he explained.

Sternberg and Marx as the main protagonists and organizers of the synodal path in Germany are thus advancing an interpretation of Querida Amazonia that is quite contrary to what Müller and Eleganti take from the document.

Rumors that his decision not to stand for re-election as president of the German bishops’ conference was due to his disappointment in Querida Amazonia were denied by Marx at a meeting with members of the press. Marx also denied that he was about to leave for a position at the Roman Curia.


  amazon synod, catholic, female deacons, gerhard müller, german bishops, marian eleganti, married priests, querida amazonia, synodal path

Opinion

Is Pope Francis’s Amazon Synod exhortation a relief or the tip of the iceberg?

The one large caveat in all this, which is presented in a way clearly intended to avoid adding fuel to already raging fires, is the ambiguity.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 9:26 pm EST
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Robert Royal
By Robert Royal

February 13, 2020 (The Catholic Thing) — Querida Amazonia, Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation (released yesterday), is, at a first reading, a mostly pleasant surprise. It shows little of the freewheeling radicalism that bulked large — in the synod hall and Vatican gardens, and even on the streets, during the Synod last October. He quotes copiously from his own texts, to be sure, but also from St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. So much so that Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, a powerful voice in current Church debates, has called the Exhortation an effort at reconciliation.

That may — or may not — be so.

There’s no mention of married viri probati as a remedy for the Amazonian priest shortage — but nothing about priestly celibacy either. Instead, for now, the pope wants bishops in the region to emphasize priestly vocations and the responsibility of priests from the region to stay there instead of heading to North America and Europe. And he invites priests inclined to missionary work to go to Amazonia.

The question of deaconesses is actually turned in the opposite direction to where it seemed headed, again for now. Francis says that innovations along that line would be a “clericalization” — a strongly negative term for him — of the true contributions women have made and continue to make in accord with their true nature, which is noteworthy for “tender strength.”

There are hints here and there of liturgical adaptations, but not the full-blown “Amazonian Rite” much debated during the synod (a seeming impossibility given the hundreds of different tribes and language groups in Amazonia that would have to be accommodated).

And there’s a bit of what might be called temporary syncretism — a patient toleration of the blending of native and Catholic practices preliminary to a purification of indigenous ways, the kind of thing missionaries sometimes allow and not necessarily a problem, if you’re confident about the ultimate goal. And why it’s being done. And by whom.

The one large caveat in all this, which is presented in a way clearly intended to avoid adding fuel to already raging fires, is the ambiguity — a Bergoglian trademark — in how this relates to the Final Report of the Amazonia Synod, which was far more radical and controversial on these very points. The pope says at the outset that he won’t quote from the Report because he wants us to read the whole thing. And beyond reading: “May the pastors, consecrated men and women and lay faithful of the Amazon region strive to apply it, and may it inspire in some way every person of good will.”

So there’s an olive branch being offered, at least on the surface. Or maybe there’s been fear in Rome that pressing further at this moment might take the Church to the breaking point. One of the pope’s guiding principles is: “It is more important to start processes than to dominate spaces,” as he put it in Amoris Laetitia (§261). What is really happening here will only become clearer as the process of striving “to apply” the Report — not the Exhortation — takes shape. The bulk of this conceptual iceberg may lie below the waterline.

The Report spoke almost compulsively of the need to “listen” to indigenous peoples, so much so that you wondered why they needed missionaries or other outsiders at all. The Exhortation wants “listening” as well, but adds:

If we devote our lives to their service, to working for the justice and dignity that they deserve, we cannot conceal the fact that we do so because we see Christ in them and because we acknowledge the immense dignity that they have received from God, the Father who loves them with boundless love. They have a right to hear the Gospel. ... Without that impassioned proclamation, every ecclesial structure would become just another NGO and we would not follow the command given us by Christ: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation.”

The bulk of the Exhortation, however, is devoted to various social justice themes. Of its four chapters, only the last touches directly on central Church matters. Each chapter is animated by a “dream,” sometimes illustrated with passages from major Latin American poets like the Chilean Pablo Neruda and the Brazilian Vinicius de Moraes:

I dream of an Amazon region that fights for the rights of the poor, the original peoples and the least of our brothers and sisters, where their voices can be heard and their dignity advanced.

I dream of an Amazon region that can preserve its distinctive cultural riches, where the beauty of our humanity shines forth in so many varied ways.

I dream of an Amazon region that can jealously preserve its overwhelming natural beauty and the superabundant life teeming in its rivers and forests.

I dream of Christian communities capable of generous commitment, incarnate in the Amazon region, and giving the Church new faces with Amazonian features.

As with the pope’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, these somewhat Romantic notions rightly remind the developed world that other kinds of lives have value. And that we need to recover a sense of the world as Creation, not merely matter and energy, to be manipulated for any end, irrespective of God’s order. The “transgender” movement is the final station stop for that train, wherein people may claim to be something, at mere will, that their bodies down to the molecular level deny.

We can all learn from each other, to be sure, but the primitivist model of community, harmony with nature, and buen vivir (“good living”) that Rome has latched on to has a long literary history, but only very general lessons for a world of 7 billion people. It would have been better to acknowledge that somewhere.

And it would be better if Rome made clear that the Amazon’s priest shortage also has limited lessons for a global Church. The processes now in motion need to be guided by something steady and different from we’ve seen so far. With the new Exhortation, we still can’t say whether that’s emerged or not. But doubtless we’ll soon see.

Published with permission from The Catholic Thing.


  amazon synod, catholic, celibacy, pope francis, querida amazonia, viri probati

Opinion

Three girls sue state to stop boys who say they’re ‘girls’ from competing in their sport

The three have been denied opportunities to win races because boys are winning the girls' track championships now.
Thu Feb 13, 2020 - 8:31 pm EST
Featured Image
Selina Soule, a high school runner from Glastonbury, Connecticut. The Daily Signal
Scott Schittl
By

PETITION: Biological males don't belong in girls' sports - #IStandWithSelina Sign the petition here.

February 13, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Three Connecticut girls are suing their state’s high school sports authority — the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) — to stop boys who claim to be girls from competing in their sport.

Selina Soule, Alanna Smith, and Chelsea Mitchell, all Connecticut high school track athletes, have been denied opportunities to win races, as well to fairly compete for college scholarships and other advancements, because of the state’s policy.

Soule is the same high school girl who, last year, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). That complaint is still ongoing, as the OCR has not yet handed down its guidance ruling.

Starting in 2017, two gender-confused boys were permitted to run in girls’ track in Connecticut. The results have been predictable: in the last three years alone, the two boys have won 15 state championships between them and have deprived girls of 85 opportunities for high-level competition, according to the nonprofit legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom.

Represented by the ADF, the three girls and their mothers filed their federal lawsuit on Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

The complaint alleges that the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s policy discriminates against girls and violates their Title IX rights.

Title IX was implemented in 1972 to help ensure that girls would have the same opportunities in sports as boys, and most observers agree that it has been successful in this particular regard.

But Title IX never anticipated that boys would seek to compete as girls and does not mention “gender identity.”

Speaking about the lawsuit, ADF senior vice president of the U.S. Legal Division Kristen Waggoner said: “Girls deserve the same opportunity as boys to excel and chase their dreams. Allowing boys to compete in girls’ sports shatters those dreams and steals opportunities.”

In Connecticut and 19 other states, girls are now forced to compete against boys claiming to be girls, and these policies unfairly deprive girls of the right to a level playing field in competitions they can never win despite their best efforts.

With another track season soon coming to an end, ADF attorneys have asked the Court for an injunction that would stop the CIAC from implementing its current policy while the lawsuit proceeds.

Soule, Smith, and Mitchell will soon run in regional and state meets, competing for state championships. This year, they would like to have the opportunity to win, fair and square.

Read more about LifeSiteNews’s petition supporting Selina’s complaint with the OCR by CLICKING HERE.


  connecticut, connecticut interscholastic athletic conference, courts, propaganda, selina soule, sports, transgenderism