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News

Bishops, doctors, bioethics demand ethical COVID-19 vaccine from Trudeau

The letter urges the Trudeau government to fund 'alternative' vaccines that are not made using fetal cells harvested from aborted babies years ago.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 9:23 pm EST
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. John Woods / Getty Images
Anthony Murdoch
By Anthony Murdoch

ONTARIO, May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A group of Canadian Catholic bishops, doctors, and scholars have sent a joint letter to the Canadian prime minister calling for his government to fund an ethical coronavirus vaccine not derived from fetal cells harvested from aborted babies decades ago

The letter, dated May 21, was sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and copied to the Canadian health minister, Patty Hajdu.

It includes the signatures of Winnipeg archbishop Richard Gagnon (president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops); Moira McQueen, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute; Helen McGee, president-elect of the National Association of Catholic Nurses of Canada; and Archbishop Sotirios, chairman of the Canadian Conference of Orthodox Bishops.

The letter urges the Trudeau government to fund “alternative” vaccines that are not made using fetal cells harvested from aborted babies years ago and to make ethically sourced vaccines available to Canadians.

The letter does not explicitly say one should not use the first coronavirus vaccine that is made available. However, it does recommend that an ethically sourced vaccine be offered to those who consciously object to a vaccine with a fetal cell line lineage.

PETITION: No to mandatory vaccination for the coronavirus! Sign the petition here.

“We endorse the earliest possible development of safe, effective anti-viral vaccines and the broadest uptake of vaccination. We urge your government to fund the development of vaccines that do not create an ethical dilemma for many Canadians,” says the letter.

“On one hand, the wide uptake of vaccines is essential to protect citizens from the transmission of disease. On the other, a vaccine produced using abortion- derived cell lines raises conscience concerns for anyone who might be offered that vaccine and is aware of its lineage. This dilemma will emerge if there are no alternatives to vaccines developed with the use of human fetal cell lines obtained from elective abortions.”

The letter includes signatures from various other Canadian Catholic bioethics groups, such as the Catholic Civil Rights League, Priests for Life Canada, and St. Michael’s University.

McQueen told LifeSiteNews that the letter came about because of conversations between her and Helen McGee regarding ethical vaccines.

McQueen said another factor in penning the correspondence was the April letter from the U.S. Catholic bishops and pro-life leaders. This letter asked the Trump administration to ensure that Americans will have access to coronavirus vaccines that are “free from any connection to abortion.”

“We decided to compose a letter for the PM, and contacted different people and organizations, most of whom signed on to our final version,” said McQueen to LifeSiteNews.

McQueen said the intent of the letter is to ask the Trudeau government to ensure that there is an alternative ethical vaccine made available for those who want it.

“The main point is to ensure that those of us who object to unethical vaccines, no matter which company or group is the manufacturer, will be able to receive morally acceptable ones. The research for those is also underway and has a good chance of success,” said McQueen to LifeSiteNews.

Last week, Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) announced a collaboration with the Chinese firm CanSino Biologics Inc. (CanSinoBIO) to test its trial coronavirus vaccine, known as Ad5-nCoV, in Canada.

LifeSiteNews reported that the vaccine candidate Ad5-nCoV uses the HEK293 cell line, which is made from fetal cells harvested from an aborted baby decades ago and is the property of the NRC. 

Trudeau announced last Saturday that Health Canada approved the coronavirus vaccine Ad5-nCoV to be used in human clinical trials. 

Earlier this week, Dr. Kulvinder Gill, the president and co-founder of Concerned Ontario Doctors, warned that the Canadian government’s new deal with China to produce a coronavirus vaccine is a “dangerous endeavour” and that Canada should instead fund vaccine trials with allied nations. 

The letter says the use of coronavirus vaccine candidates “derived from elective abortions” such as “PER.C6 and HEK 293” are ethically unacceptable.

“Our ethical objections relate to the use of this abortion-derived lineage, both the destruction and the exploitation of unique human lives,” says the letter.

“The subsequent manufacture of vaccines using such ethically-tainted human cell lines demonstrates profound disrespect for the dignity of the human person.”

The 2008 document Dignitatis Personae from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith condemned the use of aborted fetal tissue research. The document says that for “grave reasons” such as “danger to the health of children,” parents are allowed to use a vaccine “developed using cell lines of illicit origin.” The document also says one must keep in mind that “everyone has the duty to make known their disagreement and to ask that their healthcare system make other types of vaccines available.”

The letter lists examples of vaccines under development that do not use aborted fetal cell lines, which the signatories say are acceptable, such as one being developed by Dr. Wilfred Jefferies, a Vancouver immunologist at the University of British Columbia.

Recently, LifeSiteNews reported that Vancouver archbishop Michael Miller donated to Jefferies’s project after being assured that his vaccine research is free from the use of aborted fetal cells.

In closing, the letter refers to Dr. David Prentice of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, who lists coronavirus vaccines undergoing tests that are ethical and unethical.

McQueen said to LifeSiteNews that Dr. Prentice was helpful in highlighting ethical vaccine candidates.

“Dr. Prentice was very helpful in indicating which vaccines are ethical (some don't even use cell lines) and which are not. He also listed some that, at the minute, may or may not be ethical, but that will become clearer.”


  abortion, catholic, coronavirus, fetal cell lines, justin trudeau, vaccines

News

Vatican’s former doctrine head: ‘Global players’ are using pandemic to ‘suppress’ Catholic Church

The former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith joined with exiled archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò to denounce world governments' treatment of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 9:09 pm EST
Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Cardinal Gerhard Müller. Diane Montagna / LifeSiteNews
Martin Bürger Follow Martin
By Martin Bürger

ROME, May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — German cardinal Gerhard Müller has warned against “global players who are against the Catholic Church because the Catholic Church is pro-life, pro-family, and for religious freedom.”

Talking to EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo on Thursday, the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said certain powers “want to instrumentalize this situation” of the coronavirus pandemic “to suppress the Catholic Church.”

“The security for your life is not the only value,” he said. “We have also spiritual values. We cannot isolate totally all the population. We have other illnesses and other dangers in our life, and we cannot absolutely remain in our home.”

“We cannot restrict the human existence, also in a materialistic interpretation, as if we are able to construct a paradise on Earth,” Müller cautioned.

“The state as such cannot say, ‘We forbid worshiping,’” he said. “We have the fundamental religious rights, human rights, and the state must respect these rights of everybody.”

The former bishop of Regensburg in Germany pointed out the contradiction between, on the one hand, saying that churches need to be closed but, on the other hand, grocery stores being allowed to remain open for business.

He asked, “Why is the danger in the church bigger than in the supermarket?”

Beyond prohibiting public Masses, “nobody has the right to forbid the priests, the shepherds, to visit the people who are dying or very ill.” As Müller explained, faithful Catholics have the right to “pastoral care in these cases.”

Müller talked to Arroyo about the appeal “for the Church and the world,” which Müller had signed, together with two other cardinals and many other Catholics, in early May.

PETITION: No to mandatory vaccination for the coronavirus! Sign the petition here.

The text, which had been drafted by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, had come under severe criticism, especially in Germany, for allegedly peddling conspiracy theories regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the response to it by public authorities.

The president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, had said his organization “does in principle not comment on appeals by individual bishops outside Germany.”

Nevertheless, he commented that “the assessment of the coronavirus pandemic by the German Bishops’ Conference is fundamentally different from the appeal published yesterday.”

Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer, who succeeded Müller as bishop of Regensburg, said only that he was “adopting as his own” the statement by Bätzing.

Bishop Gebhard Fürst tweeted, “As bishop of the [Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart] I strongly dissociate myself from the dangerous theories of the group around Archbishop Viganò. Whoever reinterprets the efforts of politics to protect human life from the [coronavirus] into a dubious world conspiracy is playing with fire!”

Cardinal Müller explained that Viganò had asked him to sign the letter during a phone conversation. “I said I will support him to overcome the isolation, all the tensions between the Vatican and him,” he pointed out.

The bishops who signed the Viganò appeal, Müller continued, cannot say anything about the medical issues of COVID-19, “but we have to speak against the instrumentalization of this virus, of this big world crisis, global crisis, by some dictatorial states or by other ideological groups which want to take the opportunity to suppress the Church and make a breakdown of the sacramental life of the Church.”

The main task after this breakdown, according to Müller, will be evangelization and “to give people the hope that also in cases of our diseases and of our death, of our short life and all the accidents that are in this world, we have a wider horizon.”

Asked about the main mission of the Church, Müller responded, “We are cooperating with secular institutions for social justice and peace and ecology, but our main mission is to preach the kingdom of God.”


  carlo maria viganò, coronavirus, ewtn, georg batzing, gerhard müller, german bishops conference, raymond arroyo

News

Catholic woman’s online education org helps students with intellectual, learning challenges

A teacher has been successfully running an online education institution to provide a learning environment especially for Catholic children with special needs in the safety of their homes.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 8:44 pm EST
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Secret Garden Educational Pathways
Clare Marie Merkowsky
By

PALMDALE, California, May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic teacher has been successfully running an online education institution to provide a learning environment especially for Catholic children with special needs in the safety of their homes.

Margaret Walsh, a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College with a Master's in special education, founded Secret Garden Educational Pathways to help special needs students to learn in a Catholic environment and to make up for the ways that curricula provided by schools were failing to meet the students’ real needs. The website was launched in 2017; however, it had existed under the name Living Pictures since 2015.

Garden in disrepair

The online service, run from Walsh’s location in California, is named after the story The Secret Garden, where a young girl, Mary, finds a secret garden in ruins hidden on the grounds of a mansion. With the help of her friends and a gardener, Mary transforms the garden into its former beauty. In the process, she and her friends are also transformed.

Walsh maintains that students with learning disabilities are similar to a garden in disrepair.

By strengthening mental “pathways,” students can discover their strengths and overcome their weaknesses to blossom into successful and joyful students, she said.

The ‘heart of learning’

The Secret Garden Education Pathways seeks to help Catholic children with special needs “go to the heart of learning” — namely, the Catholic Faith — to further the student’s learning ability.

In an email to LifeSiteNews, Walsh said the first reason she decided to start this organization was the realization that students who have difficulties learning academically will also have trouble learning about the Faith. 

When she worked in a secular school, Walsh taught two Catholic high-schoolers. She asked them a question about Purgatory and learned that they knew nothing about their faith. She realized that Catholic students with disabilities who have little knowledge of regular subjects would also likely have little knowledge of their faith.

Walsh also desired to offer students a learning environment where parents could be confident about the content and the teachers to which their children would be exposed.

In light of the LGBT agenda’s infiltration of schools, drag queens, sex education, and the fact that students with special needs are often more at risk than other students, Walsh sees it as important to provide a learning environment for these children in the safety of their homes. Statistics report that children with learning disabilities are significantly more likely to be molested than non-disabled children.

“In a time when the public schools have turned into a political battlefield rife with immoral content, and Catholic private and homeschools often don't have the means or expertise to help students with special needs, I am excited to be sharing my venture,” Walsh said.

Special needs students are susceptible and seek to please others, meaning that exposure to people and ideas “is even more sensitive than students without learning disabilities,” Walsh explained.

“It is highly important,” Walsh continued, “to provide a very safe and healthy environment where students can improve academically, boost their confidence, learn their Faith and have no worries about the environment or interactions.

PETITION: No to mandatory vaccination for the coronavirus! Sign the petition here.

What Secret Garden offers

The education center uses Catholic materials to offer “professional remediation and therapy services” for special needs students.

“What I am doing is different than many other people, and is often a missing piece of the puzzle that is needed for outcome success,” Walsh told LifeSiteNews.

“Most of the time schools are helping students by modifying the curriculum and accommodating the learning style of the student, i.e. if Johnny is a visual learner, the teacher will write things on a whiteboard or if Johnny can't complete a whole math lesson, he would be allowed to do just 5 problems. Oftentimes this means getting a diagnosis and then learning to live with the diagnosis with accommodations,” she said.

“However, we are offering the other missing piece of the puzzle through remediation and education therapy. We are looking at the diagnosis, or the expressed weaknesses a student has, and then helping the student strengthen processing and thinking skills so that they can improve their abilities and potential and reach higher levels of success. Instead of taking the approach, ‘let’s learn how to live with this’, we are taking the approach, ‘let's see if we can move beyond this and strengthen the mental pathways needed to learn more easily’. I call it a growth mindset and we have seen so many improvements in students we work with,” Walsh continued.

“An analogy would be someone who injured their leg and the medical doctor says that they will always have that injury and crutches are the best way to live with it vs. a physical therapist who will help that person strengthen the injured leg so that the chances of walking without crutches are better,” she added.

Walsh outlined a number of reasons why parents would choose her program.

1. They can easily access it from home and their students often feel more comfortable working from their own home. This also means they don't have to drive anywhere and have the rest of the family sit in the car for hours.

2. We are happy to bring the parents into the learning process and give them as many tools as they can to work better with their students.

3. For Catholic families, we use Catholic materials that offer room for discussion and exploration of the truths of the Church and stories of saints, that they may not have been able to understand before. This is one of the things I love most about this is that we can help students explore their faith while strengthening their processing, which can be applied to any subject. One of the reasons I founded this company is because I discovered that if students are struggling with “common” subjects like history and math, they are often not understanding their Faith to the fullness they can.

4. We are aware of the financial constraints of many families and strive to keep the cost much lower than other therapy groups, charging less than half the rate most places charge.

5. When we work with students, we use our own materials initially and then often help students transition to learn how to work better within their own curriculum.

While the company is Catholic, Walsh told LifeSiteNews she is happy to work with Catholics and Protestants alike. The company has worked with Protestants in the past and modifies materials “so that there is not a specifically Catholic emphasis.”

The program also uses many materials that would appeal to a wide range of beliefs, such as Aesop's Fables, the Book of Virtues, and historical articles.

The education center helps children who struggle with reading, memory, focus, comprehension, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and general learning difficulties.

It offers “Student Booster Programs,” helping students work one on one with specially trained teachers to overcome the students’ weaknesses.

The center offers a Comprehension and Literacy Program and a Decoding (reading and spelling) Program plus consultation with therapists.

Making progress

The classes are one-on-one with teachers via online classrooms on the video conference platform Zoom. Classes are frequent to strengthen the concepts learned, starting with daily classes for several weeks. After an assessment, students continue with about 1–3 classes each week.

“The kids are in the comfort and safety of their home,” Walsh said. “And it is actually conducive to making more progress.”

The methods used enable students to succeed in any subject. The program “is cumulative,” each step building upon the previous to allow students to reach their level by working through their developmental stages.

Walsh outlined how she has helped students with disabilities learn.

“For example, we've worked with students who could barely read when they started with us, and now they are reading the Chronicles of Narnia (some of them can't put a book down now). We’ve worked with students who had great difficulties with memory and comprehension, who couldn’t remember what they had learned just hours previous, and now they are enjoying school, have confidence and even studying encyclicals,” she said.

“Though there is a wide range of how much each student can improve, we have seen very promising improvements with most of our students. I believe this is because we are helping them strengthen their processing pathways so that the information is less corrupted due to weakness and they can truly understand.” she added.

‘Thank you’

Parents testify that these methods help their children to learn.

One parent wrote in a comment posted on Secret Garden’s website: “Margaret was a great addition to our homeschool this past year. She worked with my fourteen-year-old son on a variety of things including strengthening his use of imagery, improving his retelling skills and increasing his reading comprehension. My son really looked forward to his classes with Margaret, whose calm and patient ways seemed to decrease his anxiety. Not only did I see improvement academically, but I also saw his confidence increase. Thank you, Margaret!”

“Our son was struggling with reading quite a lot and had never really read at grade level,” another parent wrote. “He always tested very low in reading as well. After working with Ms. Walsh intensely during a 6-week summer program, his reading ability was noticeably improved, and kept improving as the school year went on. What has been most remarkable is seeing his most recent test results. Marked improvement across ALL areas of testing, including the reading!”

One student wrote, “Margaret helped me with a lot of things. She taught me how to picture so that I could understand what I was reading. She also taught me different mind games, which was my favorite thing. AND, she was a lot of fun!”

May 23, 2020 correction: An earlier version of this report mistakenly referred to Walsh as a mother. 


  catholic, education, good news, secret garden educational pathways, special needs

News

Conservative Party leadership candidate Karahalios banned from race again just day after court win

Despite the candidate's reinstatement by a judge, the party's election organizing committee disqualified him a second time over his conduct.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 6:29 pm EST
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Anthony Murdoch
By Anthony Murdoch

PETITION: No to mandatory contact tracing and government surveillance for the coronavirus! Sign the petition here.

May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – One day after a judge ruled Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) leadership candidate Jim Karahalios was again allowed to run in the race, the party’s Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) disqualified him as a candidate.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, CPC spokesperson Cory Hann said the judge's decision made it clear that the LEOC had the right to determine the fate of Karahalios and his campaign, which they swiftly did. 

“In the decision, the judge makes clear that the authority to disqualify is reserved to the LEOC and the LEOC is in the position to determine if the conduct of Mr. Karahalios was such that he should be disqualified as a candidate,” Hann said in the Thursday statement.

“After a thoughtful meeting to deliberate the circumstances around the Chief Returning Officer’s decision in regards to Mr. Karahalios’ conduct, the LEOC has determined that Mr. Karahalios will be disqualified from the leadership election.”

The second disqualification came less than two days after an Ontario court judge ruled that Karahalios could be allowed to re-enter the leadership race, so long as he met conditions set out by the judge within a two-week window.  

Karahalios’ lawyers said the party had disqualified him “as a result of a complaint filed by the Erin O’Toole campaign requesting his disqualification.”

Karahalios sent an email to his followers in early March with the title, “Say NO to Shariah Law. Stop Erin O’Toole.” O’Toole, also a leadership candidate, complained publicly that Karahalios was a “racist” for this email.

Karahalios said Thursday on Twitter that he is still not done. 

“I am yet to be defeated in a free, fair, & democratic vote among members - how real party elxns should be decided. Good time to reflect on @MaximeBernier's claims about how he supposedly "lost" 2017 @CPC_HQ leadership when 6k more ballots than voters ended up in boxes. #cdnpoli,” said Karahalios.

He later sent out another Twitter message, saying, "Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them... For when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light." #cdnpoli @CPC_HQ.” 

MP Derek Sloan, also a candidate in the leadership race, reacted with dismay to Karahalios’ second disqualification. 

“The second disqualification of Jim Karahalios is disheartening and disappointing. While Jim has a style that may not appeal to everyone, his voice undeniably resonates with a great many. Barring illegal or otherwise unacceptable behaviour that clearly violates a CPC rule or directive, it is CPC members who should have the final say on who becomes their leader,” he wrote in an email to supporters. 

“I remain 100 percent committed to promoting fair and open nomination contests, leadership contests, and policy creation, because grassroots conservatives need and deserve these things,” he said. 

Sloan said that “grassroots democracy has always been, and must remain, the lifeblood of the Conservative Party of Canada.”


  conservative party of canada, derek sloan, jim karahalios, leadership election organizing committee, leadership race

News

NY Gov. Cuomo, under fire for nursing home deaths, blames Trump

While the pro-abortion governor claimed he followed the president's guidance, a NY congresswoman said that's simply not the case.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 5:19 pm EST
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Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York.
Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

PETITION: Demand Planned Parenthood return $80M improperly taken from coronavirus emergency fund! Sign the petition here.

NEW YORK, May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – As pressure mounts over his fatal decision to force nursing homes in the state to take in COVID-19 patients regardless of the danger to their elderly residents, New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo now claims that guidance from the Trump administration made him do it.

As of May 22, the United States is estimated to have seen more than 1.6 million COVID-19 cases, with more than 97,000 deaths and 395,000 recoveries. An estimated 40 percent of those deaths have come from nursing homes. New York has been the hardest-hit state, with 29,005 deaths.

For weeks, the pro-abortion Cuomo has been under fire for ordering that nursing homes cannot turn away patients diagnosed with COVID-19, despite the fact the virus is most dangerous to the elderly.

“Anyone who wants to ask, ‘Why did the state do that with COVID patients in nursing homes,’ it’s because the state followed President Trump’s CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidance,” Cuomo told reporters Wednesday, the New York Post reported

“The CDC guidance said a nursing home cannot discriminate against a COVID patient.” He added that he was motivated in part by the belief that putting the COVID-positive elderly in nursing homes instead of hospitals would keep hospitals from running out of beds.

But New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik disputed Cuomo’s rationale, the Daily Caller reported. Stefanik explained that CDC guidelines called for the decision where to house elderly patients to be made on a case-by-case basis, factoring in the “ability of the accepting facility to meet the recommended infection control practices,” such as the “ability to place residents in a designated COVID-19 care unit that is equipped with the resources and PPE to safely prevent the spread of infections.”

Writing in Newsweek, Jonathan Tobin added that other governors, such as Ron DeSantis of Florida, exercised that discretion differently from Cuomo. DeSantis “allowed nursing homes in his state to refuse to admit virus victims. As a result, the death toll in nursing homes in a state with a bigger and elderly population was estimated this week to be approximately 875 — a lot less than the approximately 5,000 estimated deaths in New York nursing homes by the middle of May.”

Tobin further noted that Cuomo, acting of his own accord, initially refused to change course. “While Cuomo conceded at one point that he ‘wouldn't put (his) mother in a nursing home right now,’ he was at the same time backing up his administration's decision,” he wrote. “It took six weeks after the state issued its order for New York to finally back down and reverse the ruling. In the meantime, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives were lost.”

Many states have responded to the COVID-19 outbreak by imposing strict limits on “non-essential” activity, including delays of non-urgent medical procedures. As a result, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, with more than 33 million Americans filing for unemployment and studies predicting that tens of thousands of small businesses that have closed down will never reopen.

Defenders of the lockdown strategy have insisted this was a necessary sacrifice to save lives, although mounting evidence suggests that the response to COVID-19 carries public-health consequences of its own. This week, 500 doctors wrote the Trump administration warning that it is “impossible to overstate the short, medium, and long-term harm to people’s health with a continued shutdown,” and that “millions of casualties … will be hiding in plain sight, but they will be called alcoholism, homelessness, suicide, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure.”

A growing number of medical experts also argue that, in light of the fact that COVID-19 primarily affects the elderly and immunocompromised but poses relatively little risk to the young, policymakers should pursue a narrower strategy of protecting the former groups while allowing the rest of society to resume normal life. “If we focus on the elderly, we will bring a death rate that is likely no more than 1 percent down to fractions of a percent,” said Dr. Donald Yealy, chair of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Readers can click here for LifeSiteNews’ live updates on the coronavirus and its impact all over the world. 


  andrew cuomo, centers for disease control, coronavirus, covid-19, democrats, donald trump, new york, nursing homes

News

Minnesota Catholic, Lutheran bishops to gov: We’re opening up regardless of your order – live updates

Live updates on the coronavirus crisis and how it relates to pro-life issues, faith, and freedom.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 4:48 pm EST
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St. Paul Cathedral in St. Paul, Minn. shutterstock.com
Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire
By Claire Chretien

LifeSite’s previous (and future) live updates on the coronavirus crisis and how it relates to issues our readers care about can be viewed HERE.

May 20, 2020, 7:21 p.m. EST: BREAKING: The Minnesota Catholic Conference and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in Minnesota sent Governor Tim Walz separate letters today announcing that they will resume worship services on May 26 despite Governor Walz’s current COVID-19 executive order which allows retailers to operate at 50 percent capacity but caps church worship services at ten people (more information on the letters is below).

May 22, 2020, 4:48 p.m. EST: This afternoon, President Trump demanded states allow churches to re-open. He said:

“Today I am identifying houses of worship – churches, synagogue, mosques – as essential places that provide essential services. Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential. I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now. If there’s any question, they’re gonna have to call me, but they’re not gonna be successful in that call.

These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united. The people are demanding to go to church and synagogue, go to their mosque – many millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life.

The ministers, pastors, rabbis, imams, and other faith leaders will make sure that their congregations are safe as they gather and pray. I know them well. They love their congregations. They love their people. They don’t want anything bad to happen to them or to anybody else. The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors. In America, we need more prayer, not less.”

May 22, 2020, 1:28 p.m. EST: LifeSite’s petition against a mandatory coronavirus vaccine has surged past half a million signatures.

Cardinal Raymond Burke spoke against a mandatory vaccine at the 2020 Rome Life Forum, which is being held online.

“There is a certain movement to insist that now everyone must be vaccinated against the coronavirus,” he said.

The cardinal also mentioned that some groups suggest “a kind of microchip needs to be placed under the skin of every person, so that at any moment he or she can be controlled by the State regarding health and about other matters which we can only imagine.”

A state mandating vaccinations or even microchips “violates the integrity of its citizens,” said Burke. “While the State can provide reasonable regulations for the safeguarding of health, it is not the ultimate provider of health. God is. Whatever the State proposes must respect God and His Law.”

President Trump says he wants churches to reopen.

500 doctors have warned the president that there will be “millions of casualties” if the shutdowns continue.

May 21, 2020, 2:24 p.m. EST: Recent LifeSiteNews coverage of the coronavirus crisis includes:

The 2020 Rome Life ForumCoronavirus in the Light of Fatima: A Tragedy and a Source of Hope is happening online right now. It is free to participate. LifeSiteNews will have additional coverage of the event this week.

Reason reported yesterday, “Developments abroad put a damper on hopes that U.S. life will return to normal soon. Areas of Argentina, Germany, Iran, and elsewhere have seen COVID-19 cases surge again after starting to ease shutdown rules. Now, authorities in these places are once again tightening the screws on citizens' movement, fraternization, and economic activity.”

May 21, 2020, 12:48 p.m. EST: FOX News reported yesterday:

More than 600 doctors signed onto a letter sent to President Trump Tuesday pushing him to end the “national shutdown” aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, calling the widespread state orders keeping businesses closed and kids home from school a “mass casualty incident” with “exponentially growing health consequences.”

The letter outlines a variety of consequences that the doctors have observed resulting from the coronavirus shutdowns, including patients missing routine checkups that could detect things like heart problems or cancer, increases in substance and alcohol abuse, and increases in financial instability that could lead to “[p]overty and financial uncertainty,” which “is closely linked to poor health.”

A Mississippi church suing its city over the coronavirus lockdown has been destroyed by arson.

May 20, 2020, 7:21 p.m. EST: BREAKING: The Minnesota Catholic Conference and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in Minnesota sent Governor Tim Walz separate letters today announcing that they will resume worship services on May 26 despite Governor Walz’s current COVID-19 executive order which allows retailers to operate at 50 percent capacity but caps church worship services at ten people.

Governor Walz’s latest re-opening order allows the Mall of America to open its doors to those seeking retail therapy but disallows churches from providing spiritual healing to their congregations. At the same time, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty sent Governor Tim Walz and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison a legal letter explaining why continuing to keep churches closed violates the First Amendment. Also representing the Catholic and Lutheran Churches is global law firm Sidley Austin LLP.

Becket explained in a press release:

On May 13, 2020, Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order with guidelines for reopening commerce in the State of Minnesota. The order allows malls, shops, and other retailers to open their doors at fifty percent capacity, allows businesses—from pet-grooming services to medical cannabis operations—to resume in-person operations, and even announces a phased plan for reopening bars and restaurants, but explicitly leaves in place bans on in-person worship services for more than ten people. Even Minnesota casinos are reopening starting May 26. After weeks of dialogue with Governor Walz to try to achieve equal treatment for houses of worship, today the Catholic and Lutheran Churches announced that they would resume worship services for their congregations at thirty-three percent capacity on Tuesday, May 26, with Pentecost Sunday, May 31, as the first day of Sunday services. The churches have committed to instituting rigorous social distancing and hygiene protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Darkness and despair have taken hold of so many of our fellow Americans in the face of the economic and social hardship of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Archbishop Hebda. “Faith has always been a source of comfort and strength and now more than ever it is of the utmost importance that we are able to meet the spiritual needs of our community.”

Since the beginning of Minnesota’s stay-at-home order suicide hotlines have seen spikes in calls as high as 300 percent in parts of the State, as well as a 25 percent increase in calls about domestic violence. Millions of Americans seek comfort and strength in their faith communities, which also serve as safe spaces for victims of domestic violence and those suffering with addictions.

“Throughout this crisis, we have been committed to modeling Christ’s love by protecting people from the spread of illness. That’s why it is so disheartening that the Governor has subordinated our spiritual well-being to the economic well-being of the State,” said Rev. Dr. Lucas Woodford, president of the Minnesota South District of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. “Now that the State has deemed the risk of spreading coronavirus low enough to reopen non-essential business, we respectfully believe that it is our right and duty to safely resume public ministry to the faithful even without the support of the Governor.”

In March, well before statewide stay-at-home orders came into effect, both the Minnesota Catholic Conference and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod voluntarily suspended in-person worship services to preserve the health and safety of their communities. On May 7, and again on May 16 the churches presented Governor Walz with proposed protocols for resuming in-person worship services in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization and United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If malls, casinos, liquor stores, bars, and restaurants are reopening, why can’t Minnesota churches?” said Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel at Becket. “Our Constitution stands for ‘equal justice under law’ and imposing a special disability on churches is anything but. Governor Walz and Attorney General Ellison should ensure equal treatment for churches and houses of worship—especially because they are crucial to helping our nation overcome this crisis.

May 19, 2020, 11:37 a.m. EST: Trump has given the World Health Organization (WHO) 30 days to reform or it will permanently lose U.S. funding.

“The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China,” he said in a letter to the pro-abortion United Nations entity. “I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests.”

May 19, 2020, 9:59 a.m. EST: Recent LifeSiteNews coverage of the coronavirus crisis includes:

May 19, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump has revealed he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, the drug some doctors say has been highly effective at treating the coronavirus, for “a few weeks.” The drug is normally prescribed to treat malaria, arthritis, and lupus. He has also been taking a zinc supplement. The president has repeatedly tested negative for the coronavirus but is taking the drugs as a prophylactic.

A cafe in Germany is providing patrons with pool noodles to wear on their heads to aid in “social distancing.”

People who try to swim at public beaches over Memorial Day weekend will be “taken right out of the water,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. He also said lifeguards are banned from being on duty. It is unclear who will be tasked with extracting swimmers.

The Associated Press reports:

A county judge has declared Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s coronavirus restrictions “null and void” because she didn’t have her emergency orders approved by the Legislature.

Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff made the ruling Monday in a lawsuit brought by churches that had sued saying the social-distancing directives were unconstitutional.

Brown said she would immediately appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court to try to keep the emergency orders in effect.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar said on CNN that “in places that are opening, we're not seeing this spike in cases." 

“We still see spikes in some areas that are, in fact, closed,” he added.

Breitbart reports:

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during Monday’s “America’s Newsroom” on Fox News Channel revealed that at President Donald Trump’s request, he has delivered “an extremely stern warning” to the World Health Organization in regards to its handling of the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Azar said his message included a call for “significant structural reform” in the organization, adding the W.H.O. and China need “to be held accountable” for their actions that allowed the virus to spread around the world.

According to Axios, Trump “declined an invitation to address a virtual gathering of the World Health Organization, which proceeded today with addresses from several world leaders but only a blistering rebuke from the U.S.”

China's President Xi Jinping accepted an invitation to speak at the gathering.

The pro-abortion World Health Organization is a United Nations entity. Its connections to communist China are currently under scrutiny, and Trump has frozen U.S. funding to it.

The Epoch Times has a list of where all 50 states and the District of Columbia are in their lockdowns or easing of them.

Idaho, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, and South Carolina are among the freer states.

California, Illinois, Washington, D.C., New Mexico, New York, Hawaii, and Washington state are among the least free.

Massachusetts churches are allowed to open at 40 percent capacity now. “Places of worship are encouraged to modify communal rituals, like taking communion or passing of the peace, so as to limit contact with others,” its government health guidelines urge. “Consider distributing, where applicable, prepackaged communion or sacraments.”

Correction 05-20-2020 21:25 EDT: St. Paul’s Cathedral is in St. Paul, not Minneapolis. LifeSite regrets the error.


  coronavirus, live coronavirus updates, president trump

News

UK Health Secretary leaves door open to making COVID-19 vaccine mandatory

'But clearly, mandation is there – it can be used in some instances'
Fri May 22, 2020 - 4:45 pm EST
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Mike Hancock, UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, speaks at daily coronavirus update from Downing Street May 21, 2020.
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By Doug Mainwaring

LONDON, May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Government health experts in the UK won’t say if a future vaccine for the coronavirus will be government-mandated for all citizens. Comments made May 21 during the daily coronavirus update from Downing Street, the official residence of Britain’s Prime Minister, suggest that the door is being left open. 

When asked by a reporter if the vaccination would be “mandatory” once it is developed, the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Mike Hancock, acknowledged that the question is “not one that we've addressed yet.”

“We’re doing everything we can to get a vaccine” said Hancock, “and we will only recommend a vaccine if it is safe. That means that if we get a vaccine and people are asked to take that vaccine, then they absolutely should, because we’ll only do it on the basis of clinical advice that it’s safe.”

“The question of whether it’s mandatory is not one that we’ve addressed yet,” said Hancock, seeming to leave the door open to mandatory vaccinations.

“But I would hope given the scale of this crisis and given the overwhelming need for us to get through this and to get the country back on its feet and the very positive impact that a vaccine would have that everybody would have the vaccine,” he added.

Medical experts at Hancock’s side offered remarks suggesting that there is no substantive reason to require individuals to undergo immunization if they preferred not to.

John Newton, Coordinator of the National Testing Effort, declared, “The most successful vaccine programs tend to be by consent.” 

“What really matters is a clear explanation of the benefits, any risks that are associated with the vaccine, and a really good system to make the vaccine available to everybody who needs it,” said Newton.   

“So although some countries have adopted mandatory programs, the most successful programs tend to be done on the basis of consent, good information, and good delivery mechanisms,” concluded Newton.

Newton, however, also did not close the door on mandatory vaccination, stating: “But clearly, mandation is there – it can be used in some instances.”

Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care and Head of the National Institute for Health Research, explained during the press conference that vaccines can be utilized in different ways. 

“If you think about vaccines, there are a lot of different sorts of vaccines but you can broadly use them in two ways.”

 “The first way is an ‘epidemic-modifying vaccine,’” said Witty.  “You give it to the whole community, rather like MMR [measles, mumps, and rubella], and that protects everybody from getting these infections.” 

“But the other way you can use a vaccine is that you can use it as a ‘disease-modifying vaccine,’” said Witty.  “You give the vaccine to those people who are most at risk. 

“You might do this because there isn’t enough vaccine, so you’d want to protect the people who are most vulnerable, or you might do it because there’s a partially-effective vaccine that can stop people dying, but is not enough to stop the transmission of the virus,” he continued.  “In that case you would give it to a much smaller number of people.” 

“Now clearly, in that second group you are absolutely doing it only to protect the person who is being vaccinated.  And if they choose not to have that protection, it doesn’t affect anybody else,’ said Witty, 

“That is simply their choice. They are obviously denying themselves the protection that this kind of vaccine could provide.”


  coronavirus, coronavirus vaccine, john newton, mandatory vaccinations, mike hancock, vaccinations, vaccines

News

Left outraged as Hungary requires true sex on official documents

To the chagrin of LGBT activists, the European nation is requiring that records conform to an individual's God-given gender.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 4:20 pm EST
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Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

PETITION: No to mandatory vaccination for the coronavirus! Sign the petition here.

BUDAPEST, Hungary, May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Birth, marriage, and death records must reflect a citizen’s actual sex rather than “gender identity,” according to a newly-enacted Hungarian law that has drawn the ire of LGBT activists.

This week, lawmakers in Hungary approved a legislative package including a provision that forbids changing someone’s birth sex on official government documents, NBC News reported. “Sex or gender” will be replaced by “birth sex,” and will be determined based on a person’s chromosomes and biological sexual characteristics.

“Given that the complete change of the biological sex is not possible, it is necessary to state in law that there is no possibility to change it in the registry of births, marriages and deaths, either,” reads an explanation accompanying the provision.

The move has sparked outrage at home and abroad, from left-wing pressure groups to so-called “human rights” bodies.

“This decision pushes Hungary back toward the dark ages and tramples the rights of transgender and intersex people,” Amnesty International Hungary international researcher Krisztina Tamas-Saroy claimed. “It will not only expose them to further discrimination, but will also deepen an already intolerant and hostile environment faced by the LGBTI community.”

Late last month, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás responded to critics of the proposal with a letter stating that “Hungary guarantees everybody’s fundamental rights,” and the change “will end a long-standing uncertainty in legal interpretation,” as “the notion of a person’s ‘sex’ is not currently legally defined in Hungary due to its self-evident nature.” 

Gulyás also pushed back against the notion that recognizing objective reality on government documents harms gender-confused individuals in any tangible way, as it “does not affect men’s and women’s rights to freely experience and exercise their identities as they wish.”

While LGBT activists insist that being a man or woman is strictly a matter of self-perception, in reality sex is rooted in an individual’s chromosomes and reflected by hundreds of genetic characteristics. The American Psychiatric Association still classifies gender dysphoria as a mental disorder, as did the World Health Organization until last summer

Despite gender-fluidity advocates’ insistence that indulging gender-confused individuals’ chosen “identity” is essential to their health and happiness, gender confusion has been linked to a variety of long-term mental and emotional ills, including higher suicide rates.


  birth certificates, death certificates, gender, gender confusion, hungary, lgbt, marriage licenses, transgenderism

News

‘Epitome’ of ‘absurdity’: Priest responds to Pope’s suggestion COVID-19 caused by Earth’s anger

Father Linus Clovis made his comments at the virtual Rome Life Forum today.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 3:54 pm EST
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Fr. Linus Clovis of Family Life International Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

Urgent appeal to the bishops of the world: Feed your flock! Sign the petition here.

May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A priest has contradicted Pope Francis’s assertion that the coronavirus pandemic was caused, not by God, but by nature “having a fit.” 

Father Linus Clovis said today at the virtual Rome Life Forum that the Pope’s and other bishops’ eagerness to deny that COVID-19 is a sign of God’s displeasure is “even more disturbing” than the closure of the churches. 

“For Catholics … a ‘great wall’ was erected in their face as the Church hierarchy succumbed, without demur, to governmental pronouncements that placed all churches under ‘quarantine,” Clovis said. 

“Even more disturbing was the speed with which a caucus of episcopal voices were raised to contradict the faithful’s ‘sensus fidei’ that the pandemic was very likely a divine chastisement,” he continued. 

“The epitome of this absurdity was realized by the declaration, backed by and packed with pontifical authority, that the pandemic was merely Mother Earth throwing a...fit for the decades of terrestrial abuse she had endured from her greedy human children.” 

Clovis observed that the full message of Fatima, which emphasizes God’s punishment, has also been downplayed. He also noted that the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, for which Our Lady of Fatima specifically asked, has never been done. The consequences of this neglect are obvious in our world today, for Russia has indeed spread her errors, as Our Lady warned, throughout the earth and the West lives today in “a state of practical atheism.”

The Church, which Clovis warned is always punished by God before He strikes the world, has been infiltrated by Communists, thanks to Stalin, and the many sins of bad clerics and lukewarm Catholics deserve divine punishment.

“The ‘Pachamama’ incident alone would have been sufficient provocation...for heaven and earth to call the world to repentance by means of this global pandemic,” the priest said. 

Declaring that the “onus of ridding the world of this pandemic rests entirely on us,” Clovis enjoined his hearers to obey the commands of Our Lady of Fatima. 


  catholic, chastisement, coronavirus, linus clovis, our lady of fatima, pope francis, rome life forum, rome life forum 2020

News

Trump demands states let churches re-open: ‘If they don’t do it, I will override the governors’

'The people are demanding to go to church and synagogue, go to their mosque – many millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life,' said Trump.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 2:46 pm EST
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President Donald Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence at a coronavirus update briefing Thursday, April 16, 2020, in the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room. Official White House Photo / Joyce N. Boghosian / Flickr
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By Claire Chretien

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump today declared houses of worship “essential places that provide essential services,” saying they should be opened up right away and governors who get in the way will have to answer to him.

“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right,” said Trump. “So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential. The people are demanding to go to church and synagogue, go to their mosque – many millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life.”

Many people of faith have complained that draconian coronavirus lockdowns unfairly targeted churches. Pastors who have held “parking lot” services during which parishioners stayed in their cars have been fined. One California county banned singing during live-streamed church services. When the Knoxville, Tennessee government began to allow people to go to church again, it told churches, “[t]he physical taking of communion/sacrament should not be performed due to the serial breaking of physical distancing across a congregation.” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan banned Catholic priests from going within six feet of their parishioners. 

In Virginia, Lighthouse Fellowship conducted a worship service with a congregation of 16 people practicing so-called social distancing in a facility that seats more than 200. The pastor faces a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. The Trump administration Department of Justice issued a Statement of Interest siding with the church, writing, “there is no pandemic exception to the Constitution and its Bill of Rights.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy even told Tucker Carlson that he “wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights” when he banned religious gatherings. “That’s above my paygrade,” he said.

The governor defended keeping liquor stores open while closing churches as important to his citizens’ mental health. Shutting down liquor stores would have led to “unintended mental health and addiction prices to pay, unintended consequences,” he said.

A rabbi and a Catholic priest are suing Murphy over his order. A number of lawsuits in other states have been filed as well.

Trump emphasized, “I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now. If there’s any question, they’re gonna have to call me, but they’re not gonna be successful in that call. These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united.”

Trump began his press conference by thanking the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and saying the CDC would be releasing guidelines for religious gatherings soon. He said he trusts faith leaders to take proper steps to protect the health of their congregations.

“The ministers, pastors, rabbis, imams, and other faith leaders will make sure that their congregations are safe as they gather and pray,” said Trump. “I know them well. They love their congregations. They love their people. They don’t want anything bad to happen to them or to anybody else.”

He concluded, “The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors. In America, we need more prayer, not less.”

While many Protestant churches have responded to the coronavirus panic and subsequent shutdowns with “parking lot” services, every single Catholic diocese in the U.S. cancelled public Masses and some even banned the Last Rites. Dioceses around the country are slowly beginning to open their churches back up, although Holy Communion and other sacraments remain inaccessible to millions of American Catholics. The Catholic bishops of Minnesota along with Lutheran leaders announced this week that they will resume worship services on May 26 despite Governor Walz’s current COVID-19 executive order which allows retailers to operate at 50 percent capacity but caps church worship services at 10 people. They are backed by the lawyers at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

In California, hundreds of pastors plan to defy Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban on religious gatherings on May 31.


  abortion, coronavirus, freedom of assembly, president trump, religious freedom

News

Facebook restricts Conservative education org, alleges ‘repeated sharing of false news’

Despite evidence that PragerU's facts were accurate, the social media tech giant took issue with a video on climate change.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 2:25 pm EST
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By Calvin Freiburger

PETITION: Demand Planned Parenthood return $80M improperly taken from coronavirus emergency fund! Sign the petition here.

May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Facebook has restricted the conservative educational nonprofit Prager University (PragerU) for alleged “repeated sharing of false news,” based on a single, disputed “fact-check” of a recent climate change video.

On Monday, PragerU released a video about an emaciated polar bear whose image had been used to support fears that climate change would devastate the polar bear population. The video noted that the original photographer admitted to not actually knowing “what had happened to this particular polar bear,” and stated that the polar bear population is currently at its highest point in 50 years, and that polar bears are currently thriving even as sea ice diminishes.

The website Climate Feedback disputed those statements, arguing there is “no scientific evidence that the global polar bear population is growing and there is evidence that several subpopulations are declining,” and that the loss of sea ice is “recognized as the most important threat to the long-term survival of polar bears.”

Zoologist and former University of Victoria, British Columbia professor Susan Crockford responded to Climate Feedback’s “fact-check” in a blog post and an interview with PragerU, endorsing the video’s original conclusions and explaining the dispute as scientists emphasizing different points and arriving at different conclusions.

“This is a classic conflict that happens all the time in science but presents no proof that I’m wrong or that the PragerU video is inherently ‘false,’” she said.

Nevertheless, rather than recognizing the matter as part of an ongoing scientific debate, Facebook simply cited PragerU for “repeated sharing of false news” and “misinformation.” punishing the organization’s page with “reduced distribution and other restrictions,” which could include demonetization.

“Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a long-running pattern of big tech companies silencing conservative speech on their platforms,” PragerU told Breitbart News. “Clearly, Facebook wants to keep its hands clean and pass all responsibility for content moderation to these third party “fact-checkers.” Facebook claims that we can appeal directly with the fact-checker, but they themselves won’t do anything about it.”

For years, Facebook has faced criticism for suppressing or otherwise discriminating against many right-of-center pages and posts, while multiple analyses have found that Facebook’s algorithm changes instituted at the beginning of 2018 disproportionately impacted conservative politicians and websites. Last year, an insider revealed that Facebook “deboosts” traffic to several mainstream conservative sites.

Facebook often reverses such censorship actions after sufficient media coverage pressures them to do so, insisting they were isolated errors rather than part of a willful pattern. Still, such incidents continue to happen, and conservatives say they do not trust Facebook’s content Oversight Board, which is largely staffed by left-wing figures, to protect their freedom of speech.

Most recently, Facebook has made itself an arbiter of “misinformation” and “harmful” speech related to the COVID-19 outbreak, with critics objecting that Facebook has crossed the line from merely quashing objectively false claims to censoring legitimate protest organizing and factual information that conflicts with the interests of the World Health Organization, which has been accused of covering for the Chinese government’s complicity in letting COVID-19 spread across the world.

Facebook is not the first social media giant to go after PragerU. YouTube currently places age restrictions on more than 200 of the nonprofit’s videos, despite their lack of sex, nudity, foul language, graphic violence, or otherwise age-inappropriate material. PragerU has gone to court to rectify the situation, so far without success.


  big tech, climate change, climate feedback, dennis prager, facebook, fact-checking, free speech, global warming, polar bears, prager university, prageru, social media bias, social media censorship, susan crockford

News

Bishop Schneider: Bishops who banned sacraments during pandemic behaved as ‘fake shepherds’

Schneider criticized bishops who 'not only did not care but directly prohibited their faithful access to the sacraments, especially to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of Penance'
Fri May 22, 2020 - 2:00 pm EST
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Bishop Athanasius Schneider speaks at the virtual Rome Life Forum, May 22, 2020.
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By Paul Smeaton

ROME, May 22, 2020  (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Athanasius Schneider said that bishops who have “directly prohibited their faithful access to the sacraments” during the coronavirus crisis have behaved as “fake shepherds.” 

“The unbelievable fact was, that in midst of this worldwide ban of the public Holy Mass, many bishops even before the government banned public worship, issued decrees by which they not only forbade the public celebration of Holy Mass, but of any other sacrament as well,” Schneider said in a talk given today at the virtual Rome Life Forum hosted by Voice of the Family (read full talk below).

“Bishops who not only did not care but directly prohibited their faithful access to the sacraments, especially to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of Penance, behaved themselves as fake shepherds, who seek their own advantage,” he added. 

Schneider’s talk was titled “The Eucharist, the greatest treasure of the Church, in time of tribulations.” The auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, contrasted the approach of many bishops to the coronavirus with the heroic pastoral care provided in past health crises by Catholic priests such as St. Charles Borromeo.

Schneider said that the almost worldwide ban on the public celebration of Holy Mass had made it seem as though “the ruthless historical persecutions of the Church were brought back” and that there had developed “[a]n atmosphere of the catacombs...with priests celebrating Holy Mass in secrecy with a group of the faithful.”

Schneider contrasted the response of bishops today with the “many moving heroic examples from history, where priests consciously accepted the mortal danger of administering the sacraments to people infected with lethal contagious diseases.” 

“In the time of the plague, which had an incomparably higher mortality rate as the current epidemic of Covid-19, St. Charles Borromeo increased the number of the public celebrations of Holy Mass,” Schneider explained. 

“Even though he closed the churches for a while, he at the same time ordered that there should be Masses celebrated in many public and open places, such as squares, crossroads, street corners. He obliged the priests to visit the sick and the dying to administer them the sacraments of Penance and of Extreme Unction. He ordered public processions to be held, in which people walked in due distance, to make reparation for the sins and invoke Divine Mercy. St. Charles Borromeo did not forget the care for the body of the infected people, but at the same time his primary concern was the spiritual help of the sacraments, with which the sick had to be strengthened.”

Schneider also called on Pope Francis and bishops around the world to understand the public cessation of Holy Mass and sacramental Holy Communion during the Covid-19 epidemic as a “divine rebuke” for the liturgical crisis in the Church for the past fifty years.

He said that the cessation of Holy Mass was “so unique and serious that one can discover behind all of this a deeper meaning.”

“This event has come almost fifty years after the introduction of Communion in the hand (in 1969) and a radical reform of the rite of Mass (in 1969/1970) with its protestantising elements (Offertory prayers) and its horizontal and instructional style of celebration (freestyle moments, celebration in a closed circle and towards the people). The praxis of Communion in the hand over the past fifty years has led to an unintentional and intentional desecration of the Eucharistic Body of Christ on an unprecedented scale,” he said.

“The current cessation of public Holy Mass and Holy Communion could be understood by the Pope and bishops as a divine rebuke for the past fifty years of Eucharistic desecrations and trivializations and, at the same time, as a merciful appeal for an authentic Eucharistic conversion of the entire Church.” 

He called on Pope Francis to “issue concrete liturgical norms” in order to address irreverence to the Holy Eucharist, including making ad orientem celebration of the Eucharistic prayer compulsory and forbidding the reception of Communion in the hand.

“Once the current tribulation has ended, the Pope should issue concrete liturgical norms, in which he invites the entire Church to turn again towards the Lord in the manner of celebration, i.e. celebrant and faithful turned in the same direction during the Eucharistic prayer,” Schneider said. 

“The Pope should also forbid the practice of Communion in the hand, for the Church cannot continue unpunished to treat the Holy of Holies in the little sacred Host in such a minimalistic and unsafe manner.”

Schneider also suggested that Pope Francis together with cardinals and bishops should “carry out a public act of reparation in Rome for the sins against the Holy Eucharist, and for the sin of the acts of religious veneration to the Pachamama statues.”

Schneider concluded his address by speaking of the importance of listening to voices of faithful laity, who he said have been “humiliated and despised in the midst of the Church by an arrogant and undoubtedly Pharisaic clericalism.” 

“These little lovers and defenders of the Eucharist will renew the life of the Church in our day and these words of Jesus are rightly and deservedly applied to them: “I bless you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have kept these things hidden to the wise and intelligent and you have revealed them to the little ones.” (Mt 11, 25) May this truth give us hope and light in the midst of darkness and increase our faith and our love for the Eucharistic Jesus, since when we have the Eucharistic Jesus, we have everything, and nothing will be missed.”

***

The Eucharist, the greatest treasure of the Church, in time of tribulations 

H.E. Bishop Athanasius Schneider 

We are witnessing a unique situation: It is for the first time in the history of the Church that the public celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice has been prohibited almost on a worldwide scale. Under the pretext of the Covid-19 epidemic, the inalienable right of Christians to the public celebration of the Holy Mass has been infringed, disproportionately and unjustifiably. In many countries, and especially in predominantly Catholic countries, this prohibition was enforced in such a systematic and brutal way, that it seemed as though the ruthless historical persecutions of the Church were brought back. An atmosphere of the catacombs was created with priests celebrating Holy Mass in secrecy with a group of the faithful.

The unbelievable fact was that in the midst of this worldwide ban of the public Holy Mass, many bishops even before the government banned public worship, issued decrees by which they not only forbade the public celebration of Holy Mass, but of any other sacrament as well. By such anti-pastoral measures those bishops deprived the sheep from the spiritual food and strength which only the sacraments can provide. Instead of good shepherds those bishops converted into rigid public officials. Those bishops revealed themselves to be imbued with a naturalistic view, to care only for the temporal and bodily life, forgetting their primary and irreplaceable task to care for the eternal and spiritual life. They forgot the warning of Our Lord: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Mt. 16:26). Bishops who not only did not care but directly prohibited their faithful access to the sacraments, especially to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of Penance, behaved themselves as fake shepherds, who seek their own advantage. 

Those bishops, however, provided access to the sacraments for themselves, since they celebrated Holy Mass, they had their own confessor, they could receive the anointing of the sick. The following stirring words of God are doubtless applicable to those bishops who in this tribulation, caused by the sanitary dictatorship, denied their sheep the spiritual food of the sacraments, while feeding themselves with the food of the sacraments: 

“Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. … Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves.” (Ez. 34:2-10)

In the time of the plague, which had an incomparably higher mortality rate as the current epidemic of Covid-19, St. Charles Borromeo increased the number of the public celebrations of Holy Mass. Even though he closed the churches for a while, he at the same time ordered that there should be Masses celebrated in many public and open places, such as squares, crossroads, street corners. He obliged the priests to visit the sick and the dying to administer them the sacraments of Penance and of Extreme Unction. He ordered public processions to be held, in which people walked in due distance, to make reparation for the sins and invoke Divine Mercy. St. Charles Borromeo did not forget the care for the body of the infected people, but at the same time his primary concern was the spiritual help of the sacraments, with which the sick had to be strengthened. There are many moving heroic examples from history, where priests consciously accepted the mortal danger of administering the sacraments to people infected with lethal contagious diseases. 

There is a touching witness from the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church in the 19th century, about the value of the beauty of the liturgy and the zealous administration of the sacraments in the time of the dangerous and highly contagious cholera epidemic in England. The Catholic Church does not recognize these sacraments as valid, but the fact that these ministers placed such importance on pastoral care during an epidemic should be a witness to us now.

“The ritual innovations of they were accused were entirely rooted in the desperate pastoral needs they encountered. Sisters of Mercy worked with the clergy of St. Peter’s Plymouth in the cholera epidemics of the late 1840s, and petitioned the parish priest, Fr. George Rundle Prynne, for a celebration of the Eucharist each morning to strengthen them for their work. So began the first daily mass in the Church of England since the Reformation. Similarly, the clergy of St. Saviour’s, Leeds, laid what medicines they had on the altar at each morning’s communion, before carrying them out to the many dozens of their parishioners who would die of cholera that very day. These slum churches and their priests are far too many to mention, but their audacity and their piety are to be marveled at. The Church of England, at this time, looked upon ritual as a wicked aping of a Papist Church. Vestments were horrific to most, and yet in places such as the mission church of St George’s in the East, thuribles were swung, genuflecting was encouraged, the sign of the cross was made frequently, devotion to the blessed sacrament was taken for granted. Confessions were heard, holy anointing was practised. Beauty and holiness were to go into the midst of squalor and depression, as a witness to the Catholic faith in Jesus Christ, the incarnate God, present and active in his world. And, perhaps most significantly, the sick and dying were to receive this sacramental presence as far as was possible. Deathbed confessions, the oil of unction, even, occasionally, communion from the reserved sacrament became the priests’ weapons against, for example, the appalling East London cholera epidemic of 1866.” 

St. Damien de Veuster is a luminous example of a priest and a shepherd of souls who for the sake of providing the celebration of the Holy Mass and the other sacraments to the abandoned people who were suffering from leprosy at the Molokai island, accepted voluntarily to administer to them the sacraments, living amongst them and, thereby, to expose himself to the deadly disease. Visitors never forgot the sights and sounds of a Sunday Mass at St. Philomena’s Chapel. Fr. Damien stood at the altar. His lepers gathered around him on the altar. They constantly coughed and expectorated. The odour was overpowering. Yet Fr. Damien never once wavered or showed his disgust. His strength came from the Eucharist as he himself wrote: “It is at the foot of the altar that we find the strength we need in our isolation…” It is there that he found for himself and for those he served the support and encouragement, the consolation and the hope that made him “the happiest missionary in the world”, as he called himself. Mahatma Gandhi, for example, had said that the world has few heroes comparable to Fr. Damien of Molokai. Belgium, the native country of St. Damien, has proclaimed him as the greatest man in its history. 

Our time is marked by an unprecedented and widespread liturgical and Eucharistic crisis due to the practical negligence of the truth that the Eucharist, the Holy Communion, is the treasure of the altar and of ineffable majesty. Therefore the following admonitions of the Council of Trent remain relevant today more than ever: 

“No other action taken by faithful Christians is so holy and so divine as this tremendous mystery, in which each day that life-giving host, by which we were reconciled with God the Father, is sacrificed by priests to God on the altar, and it is equally clear that you must use every effort and diligence for it to be celebrated with the greatest purity and inner transparency and an outer attitude of devotion and piety.” (Sess. XXII, Decretum de observandis et vitandis) 

This Divine majesty present in the mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, however, is a hidden majesty. Under the Eucharistic species is the hidden God of majesty. St. Peter Julian Eymard, a modern apostle of the Eucharist, spoke notably on the truth of the hidden majesty of Christ in the Eucharistic mystery.  He left us admirable reflections such as this: 

“Jesus, with a veil, covers his power because otherwise, I would be afraid. He covers with a veil his holiness, the sublimity of which would discourage our few virtues. A mother talks to her child in a childlike way down to his level. In the same way Jesus makes himself little with the little to elevate them to Himself. Jesus hides his love and warmth. His ardour is such that we would be consumed if we were exposed directly to its flames. The fire is consuming. God is a consuming fire. In this way the hidden Jesus strengthens us against our weaknesses. ... This darkness of the hidden majesty requires of us a very worthy sacrifice, the sacrifice of our intellect. We have to believe even against the testimony of our senses, against the ordinary laws of nature, against our own experience. We have to believe only in the mere word of Jesus Christ. There is only one question: ‘Who is there?’ – ‘It is I,’ replies Jesus Christ. Bow down and worship Him! ... Instead of being a test, this veil becomes an incentive, an encouragement to have a humble and sincere faith.  Man wants to penetrate a veiled truth, discover a hidden treasure, conquer a difficulty. Similarly, the faithful soul searches for the Lord in the presence of the Eucharistic veil as Magdalene searched at the tomb. The Eucharist is to the soul what God is to the blessed in heaven: a truth and a beauty ever ancient and ever new, which man does not tire of scrutinizing and contemplating. Just as in this world love lives from happiness and desires, so also the soul is happy and desires happiness through the Eucharist; the soul eats and is still hungry. Only the wisdom and goodness of our Lord could invent the Eucharistic veil.” (The Real Presence. Eucharistic Meditations, New York 1938, 92-94)

The same Saint left us profound reflections about the worship of the Eucharist: 

“I have loved the beauty of Thy house. (Psalm xxv. 8.) One day a woman, a good adorer, came to Jesus to adore Him. She brought with her an alabaster box full of precious ointment which she poured upon His feet to show her love for Him and to pay honour to His Divinity and sacred humanity. ‘To what purpose is this waste?’ said the traitor Judas. ‘This ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.’ But Jesus vindicates His handmaid: ‘What this woman has wrought is a good work. And wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached, this also which she has done shall be told in praise of her.’ This Gospel incident may be applied to the Eucharist. Our Lord is in the Blessed Sacrament to receive from men the same homage He received from those who had the happiness of coming close to Him during His mortal life. He is there to give everybody the opportunity of offering a personal homage to His sacred humanity. Were this the only reason for the Eucharist, it should make us very happy; for the Eucharist enables us as Christians to pay our respects to our Lord in person.

“This presence is the justification of public worship as well as the life of it. If you take away the Real Presence, how will you be able to pay to His most sacred humanity the respect and honour which are its due? As Man, our Lord is present only in Heaven and in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Through the Eucharist we can draw near to the living Saviour in person, and see Him and converse with Him. Without this presence, Divine worship becomes an abstraction. Through this presence we go straight to God and approach Him as during His mortal life. How unfortunate it would be if, in order to honour the humanity of Jesus Christ, we were obliged to go back eighteen centuries! That is all very well for the mind, but how pay an outward homage to so distant a past? We would content ourselves with giving thanks for the mysteries without actively participating in them. But with the Eucharist we can actually come and adore Him like the shepherds; we can prostrate ourselves before Him like the Magi; we need no longer regret our not having been present at Bethlehem or on Calvary.

“On the day of judgment, we shall have the right to say to Him: ‘We visited Thee not only in the poor but in Thy august Person itself. What wilt Thou give us in return?’ Worldly people will never understand this. ‘Give, and give a lot to the poor,’ they say. ‘But what good is it to give to churches? All this lavish expense on altars is wasted money.’ That is the way to become Protestant. No! The Church wants to have a living worship because she possesses her living Saviour on earth. Is not that worth while? But that is not all. To give to the Eucharistic Jesus is a consolation and a joy, as it is also a need. Yes, we feel the need of seeing and feeling our Lord near us, and of honouring Him with out gifts. If our Lord required of us nothing more than interior homage, He would fail to satisfy one of man's imperious needs; we cannot love without manifesting that love through outward signs of friendship and affection.

“If the sacred linen is clean, if the vestments are neat and in good condition, oh! that is a sign of faith! But if a church is without the proper vestments for the service of our Lord and looks more like a prison than a church, faith is lacking. People give to every form of charity; but beg something for the Most Blessed Sacrament, and they do not know what you are talking about.  Is the King then to go in rags while His servants are richly clothed? We have not the right kind of faith, a faith that is practical, a faith that loves; we have only a negative, speculative faith. We are Catholic in name but Protestant in practice.” (The Real Presence. Eucharistic Meditations, New York 1938, 172ff.)

St. Peter Julian Eymard said: 

“In the worship of God, everything is great, everything is divine. ... The Holy Roman liturgy is therefore supremely august and authentic. It comes from Peter, head of the apostles. Each pope kept it and passed it with all respect to the subsequent centuries, knowing how to add in conformity with the needs of faith, piety, and gratitude new formulas, offices, and sacred rites. [...] Liturgical worship is the exercise par excellence of all religion” (Direttorio degli aggregati del Santissimo Sacramento, Ch. II, art. V, n. 1.) 

The situation of the public cessation of Holy Mass and sacramental Holy Communion during the Covid-19 epidemic is so unique and serious that one can discover behind all of this a deeper meaning. This event has come almost fifty years after the introduction of Communion in the hand (in 1969) and a radical reform of the rite of Mass (in 1969/1970) with its protestantising elements (Offertory prayers) and its horizontal and instructional style of celebration (freestyle moments, celebration in a closed circle and towards the people). The praxis of Communion in the hand over the past fifty years has led to an unintentional and intentional desecration of the Eucharistic Body of Christ on an unprecedented scale. For over fifty years, the Body of Christ had been (mostly unintentionally) trampled by the feet of clergy and laity in Catholic churches around the world. The stealing of sacred Hosts has also been increasing at an alarming rate. The praxis of taking Holy Communion directly with one’s own hands and fingers resembles ever more the gesture of taking common food. In not a few Catholics, the practice of receiving Communion in the hand has weakened faith in the Real Presence, in trans-substantiation and in the divine and sublime character of the sacred Host. The Eucharistic presence of Christ has, over time, unconsciously become for these faithful a kind of holy bread or symbol. Now the Lord has intervened and deprived almost all the faithful of assisting at Holy Mass and sacramentally receiving Holy Communion.

The current cessation of public Holy Mass and Holy Communion could be understood by the Pope and bishops as a divine rebuke for the past fifty years of Eucharistic desecrations and trivializations and, at the same time, as a merciful appeal for an authentic Eucharistic conversion of the entire Church. May the Holy Spirit touch the heart of the Pope and bishops and move them to issue concrete liturgical norms in order that the Eucharistic worship of the entire Church might be purified and oriented again towards the Lord. One could suggest that the Pope, together with cardinals and bishops, carry out a public act of reparation in Rome for the sins against the Holy Eucharist, and for the sin of the acts of religious veneration to the Pachamama statues. Once the current tribulation has ended, the Pope should issue concrete liturgical norms, in which he invites the entire Church to turn again towards the Lord in the manner of celebration, i.e. celebrant and faithful turned in the same direction during the Eucharistic prayer. The Pope should also forbid the practice of Communion in the hand, for the Church cannot continue unpunished to treat the Holy of Holies in the little sacred Host in such a minimalistic and unsafe manner.

We must also listen to the voice of the little ones in the Church, that is, the voice of countless faithful, children, young people, fathers and mothers of the family, the elderly, who in the visible manifestation of their respect and love for the Eucharistic Lord have been humiliated and despised in the midst of the Church by an arrogant and undoubtedly Pharisaic clericalism. These little lovers and defenders of the Eucharist will renew the life of the Church in our day and these words of Jesus are rightly and deservedly applied to them: “I bless you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have kept these things hidden to the wise and intelligent and you have revealed them to the little ones.” (Mt 11, 25) May this truth give us hope and light in the midst of darkness and increase our faith and our love for the Eucharistic Jesus, since when we have the Eucharistic Jesus, we have everything, and nothing will be missed.


  athanasius schneider, bishops, catholic, communion in the hand, coronavirus, holy communion, rome life forum, rome life forum 2020, sacraments

News

Vatican to contribute to pro-abortion World Health Organization

The Holy See will 'contribute to the WHO Emergency Fund for the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to frontline medical workers.'
Fri May 22, 2020 - 1:42 pm EST
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Martin Bürger Follow Martin
By Martin Bürger

PETITION: Thank President Trump for halting U.S. funding to pro-abortion World Health Organization! Sign the petition here.

GENEVA, Switzerland, May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The Vatican has announced its intent “to contribute to the WHO Emergency Fund for the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to frontline medical workers.” The World Health Organization (WHO) is part of the United Nations and supports both contraception and abortion.

During his remarks at the 73rd World Health Assembly this May, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, pointed out that the Vatican “has already made various donations to the regions in need of urgent help.”

Additionally, “many religious orders, parishes and priests have been on the frontlines, caring for those who have been infected and their families.”

Ironically, the Vatican’s announcement to contribute to the WHO came only weeks after pro-life leaders praised President Donald Trump for halting funding to the international public health agency.

“This is a brilliant and brave move from President Trump,” commented John Smeaton, Director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. “Not only has the World Health Organisation been planning for years to promote abortion in a COVID-19-type pandemic, it has become abundantly clear even to the secular world that the WHO is serving the world’s most corrupt power structures rather than the common good.”

Jeff Gunnarson of Campaign Life Coalition in Canada said, “When a health organization that is designed to monitor the physical well being of the globe’s citizens but ignores the cries of the unborn, it’s critical that not only should they be defunded but shuttered.”

Archbishop Jurkovič concluded his brief remarks at the World Health Assembly “by relaying the fervent hope of Pope Francis that the heightened research motivated by the COVID-19 pandemic will be conducted ‘in a transparent and disinterested way, in order to find vaccines and treatments and to guarantee universal access to essential technologies that will enable every infected person, in every part of the world, to receive the necessary health care.’”

Neither the archbishop nor the Pope addressed the fact that at least several of the potential coronavirus vaccines currently in development are based on cell lines of aborted babies.

While the Vatican’s donation to the WHO Emergency Fund was specified as “for the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to frontline medical workers,” some Catholics wonder how the Vatican can support the WHO at all, given its direct opposition to Church teaching on matters like abortion.

On its website, the WHO states, among other things, “Every woman has the recognized human right to decide freely and responsibly without coercion and violence the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health (ICPD 1994). Access to legal and safe abortion is essential for the realization of these rights.”

The WHO “provides global technical and policy guidance on the use of contraception to prevent unintended pregnancy, safe abortion, and treatment of complications from unsafe abortion.”

The WHO also supports sex education programs that advise children be taught about masturbation from infancy. 

In the past, the Vatican, which is not a member of the United Nations, but an observer, has been cautious about even symbolically supporting the organization’s efforts when they are in opposition to the Church’s doctrine.

In 1996, the Vatican announced that it “cannot offer any symbolic contribution to UNICEF,” the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.

Archbishop Renato Martino, at the time the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, argued that suspending “the practice of making a symbolic contribution was the result of the Holy See’s increasing preoccupation with the changes in UNICEF’s activities which have begun to divert some of its already scarce economic and human resources from the care of the most basic needs of children to other areas outside of that specific mandate given by the United Nations to UNICEF.”

Martino specifically mentioned “[e]vidence of UNICEF involvement in advocacy to alter national legislation regarding abortion” and “credible reports that UNICEF workers in various countries were distributing contraceptives and counseling their use.”

Both concerns could also be addressed at the WHO, which is nevertheless now being supported by the Vatican.

Just last year, the Holy See declared it was not going to participate in “The Nairobi Summit on ICPD 25” on the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

“The organizers’ decision, however, to focus the conference on a few controversial and divisive issues that do not enjoy international consensus and that do not reflect accurately the broader population and development agenda outlined by the ICPD, is regrettable,” the Vatican pointed out.

“The ICPD and its encompassing Programme of Action within the international community’s broad development agenda should not be reduced to so-called ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights’ and ‘comprehensive sexuality education.’”

Pope Francis himself has praised the United Nations in 2015 during his address to the General Assembly in New York.

“The praiseworthy international juridical framework of the United Nations Organization and of all its activities, like any other human endeavour, can be improved, yet it remains necessary; at the same time it can be the pledge of a secure and happy future for future generations,” the Pope said.

Pope Paul VI was the first Pope to speak to the General Assembly of the United Nations, followed by both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict.

“I can only reiterate the appreciation expressed by my predecessors, in reaffirming the importance which the Catholic Church attaches to this Institution and the hope which she places in its activities,” Francis said in 2015.

The coronavirus pandemic has also raised questions about the WHO’s connections to the Communist regime in China.


  coronavirus, pope francis, world health organization

News

Petition against mandatory coronavirus vaccination surges past half a million

Signatures have flooded in from numerous other countries around the world as well.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 12:13 pm EST
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Sorapop Udomsri / Shutterstock.com
LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — In just the last two weeks, LifeSite’s petition rejecting mandatory coronavirus vaccination* has surged to over 500,000 signatures.

“The enormous response against a mandatory vaccination program for the coronavirus is truly global in nature,” said Gualberto Garcia Jones, director of advocacy of LifeSite. “This is something people around the world are very concerned about, and which many reject.”

So far, the top five countries for signatures are:

  1. The United States: 273K signatures
  2. The United Kingdom: 53K signatures
  3. Canada: 33K signatures
  4. Australia: 30K signatures
  5. Russia: 29K signatures

Signatures have flooded in from numerous other countries around the world as well.

Over the next couple of weeks, LifeSite will attempt to deliver this petition to governments around the world in countries where LifeSite staff are present.

That means that LifeSite will attempt a hand delivery at the White House in the United States and at the heads of states’ offices in the U.K., Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and Hungary.

LifeSite will also be sending electronic copies of the petition to every U.S. governor’s office and every Canadian premier’s office where possible.

And, also where possible, our staff will send an electronic copy to the leaders of parliament from every country that contributed signers to this petition.

LifeSite intends on making sure this message is heard, loud and clear. Because while there is cause for concern, there is also cause for hope.

Regarding the concern, late last week, President Trump introduced “Operation Warp Speed,” an ambitious Manhattan Project–style initiative to fast-track the development and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine by January 2021, tapping experts and resources in science, medicine, the military, and the private sector.

Regarding the hope, the president allayed concerns about a mandatory vaccine, saying the new vaccine would be for those “who want to get it,” adding, “Not everyone is going to want to get it.”

While such words are good news, nevertheless, words said at a press conference are cheap. LifeSite will not rest until we see those same words in writing, and not only from the president of the United States, but also from other international and local leaders.

PETITION: No to mandatory vaccination for the coronavirus! Sign the petition here.

This petition, therefore, remains very necessary and “active,” which means that people can go to LifePetitions to sign and share this petition.

As the petition states: “We must not allow the rush by pharmaceutical companies to produce a new coronavirus vaccine to, itself, become an imperative for vaccination.”

Readers can make sure the American government knows about your objection to mandatory vaccination by going to the White House Facebook page and by posting this story as a comment under a White House post.

Arch-globalist Bill Gates, who seems to believe that being a billionaire somehow confers expertise in a vast array of topics, has also asserted that society will not return to “normal” until widespread vaccination for the coronavirus has taken place.

But, unwitting citizens must not be used as guinea pigs for new world order ideologues, or Big Pharma, in pursuit of a vaccine (and profits), which may not even protect against future mutated strains of the coronavirus.

This petition calls on policy-makers to be cool-headed in this regard, not allowing either money, social pressure, or the rush to produce a new vaccine, to influence their decisions about something as personal as vaccines.

“We can now see more clearly that some of our politicians — people who are supposed to work for the public — are attempting to use this health crisis as an excuse to curtail our personal freedoms,” Garcia Jones said. “We cannot allow them to achieve that goal.”

There is a need to continue to speak up all around the world. If you haven’t yet signed the petition, please consider signing and sharing with your like-minded family, friends, and colleagues.

Please CLICK HERE to read and sign the petition. Thank you!

* While LifeSite opposes immorally produced vaccines using aborted fetal cell lines, we do not have a position on any particular coronavirus vaccines produced without such moral problems. LifeSite recognizes that concerns exist over the safety and efficacy of vaccines while recognizing that lives have benefited from them. The issue at stake here, and in our petition, is whether the government has the authority to force adults and their children to take a coronavirus vaccine against their will. The position that we take is that government does not possess that authority.


  coronavirus, petition, vaccines

News

500 doctors warn Trump of ‘millions of casualties’ if shutdown continues

'The millions of casualties of a continued shutdown will be hiding in plain sight, but they will be called alcoholism, homelessness, suicide, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure'
Fri May 22, 2020 - 11:49 am EST
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President Trump delivers remarks at a coronavirus press briefing Friday, March 20, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. Official White House Photo / Shealah Craighead
Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

PETITION: Demand Planned Parenthood return $80M improperly taken from coronavirus emergency fund! Sign the petition here.

May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – As the contrast grows between states that have begun to reopen and those that continue their COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, hundreds of physicians are speaking out about the medical dangers of lockdown itself.

Numerous doctors recently spoke out against the lockdowns’ medical effects in a conference call hosted by Tea Party Patriots Action, Breitbart News reports.

“All you have to do is watch the six o’clock news here in L.A. to know why they are avoiding the health care system,” said Dr. Steven Giannotta, chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Southern California. “They give two statistics every time — they open their newscast with the number of people who have tested positive for COVID and immediately adjacent to that, the number of people who have died with COVID making, unfortunately, in the viewer’s mind, a nexus between COVID positivity and death.”

“The reality is that we are way past the time where being locked down makes any scientific or medical sense,” said Dr. Jeffrey Barke, co-founder of the Person Care Physicians in Newport Beach, California. “We are taking the healthiest folks – the youngest, the strongest, our children – and we are in effect protecting the healthiest herd from being exposed and allowing them to get herd immunity. So this idea that somehow we have to wait for a vaccination or a cure to this virus in order to open up schools just makes no scientific sense whatever.”

In fact, more than 500 physicians have signed a letter to President Donald Trump expressing their concern over the fallout if the shutdowns continue much longer.

“It is impossible to overstate the short, medium, and long-term harm to people’s health with a continued shutdown,” the letter reads. “Losing a job is one of life’s most stressful events, and the effect on a person’s health is not lessened because it also has happened to 30 million other people. Keeping schools and universities closed is incalculably detrimental for children, teenagers, and young adults for decades to come. 

“The millions of casualties of a continued shutdown will be hiding in plain sight, but they will be called alcoholism, homelessness, suicide, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure,” the letter continues. “In youths it will be called financial instability, unemployment, despair, drug addiction, unplanned pregnancies, poverty, and abuse.”

Other experts have previously spoken out about the mental health toll of the lockdowns.

“The isolation, the fear, the uncertainty, the economic turmoil – they all cause or could cause psychological distress,” Devora Kestel, director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) mental health department, acknowledged recently in a report to the United Nations.

A growing number of medical experts also argue that, in light of the fact that COVID-19 primarily affects the elderly and immunocompromised, but poses relatively little risk to the young, policymakers should pursue a narrower strategy of protecting the former groups while allowing the rest of society to resume normal life. “If we focus on the elderly, we will bring a death rate that is likely no more than 1% down to fractions of a percent,” says Dr. Donald Yealy, chair of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

As of May 21, the United States is estimated to have seen more than 1.6 million COVID-19 cases, with more than 95,000 deaths and 373,000 recoveries. An estimated 40% of those deaths have come from nursing homes (with the percentages for specific states often much higher), and mounting evidence suggests far more of the public has contracted and recovered from the virus than the official count indicates. 

In response, many states have imposed strict limits on “non-essential” activity, including delays of non-urgent medical procedures. As a result, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, with more than 33 million Americans filing for unemployment and studies predicting that tens of thousands of small businesses that have closed down will never reopen.

Defenders of the lockdown strategy have insisted this was a necessary sacrifice to save lives, although mounting evidence suggests that the response to COVID-19 carries public-health consequences of its own, such as the steep declines that have been seen in people seeking and receiving care for everything from cancer to heart disease, either because “non-essential” procedures have been delayed or because patients are scared of catching COVID-19 in hospitals.

Readers can click here for LifeSiteNews’ live updates on the coronavirus and its impact all over the world.


  coronavirus, covid-19, doctors, donald trump, health, healthcare, lockdowns, stay-at-home orders

News

Cdl. Burke: Forced vaccines violate ‘integrity of citizens’

He also added, 'It must be clear that it is never morally justified to develop a vaccine through the use of the cell lines of aborted fetuses.'
Fri May 22, 2020 - 11:03 am EST
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Cardinal Raymond Burke speaks at the Rome Life Forum on May 19, 2017. Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews
Martin Bürger Follow Martin
By Martin Bürger

PETITION: No to mandatory vaccination for the coronavirus! Sign the petition here.

ROME, Italy, May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke spoke out strongly on Wednesday against mandatory forced vaccinations that could take place following the development of a coronavirus vaccine. During his talk at this year’s virtual Rome Life Forum, he said “it must be clear that vaccination itself cannot be imposed, in a totalitarian manner, on citizens.”

According to the American cardinal, “there is a certain movement to insist that now everyone must be vaccinated against the coronavirus.”

He also mentioned that some groups suggest “a kind of microchip needs to be placed under the skin of every person, so that at any moment he or she can be controlled by the State regarding health and about other matters which we can only imagine.”

A state mandating vaccinations or even microchips “violates the integrity of its citizens,” Burke pointed out. “While the State can provide reasonable regulations for the safeguarding of health, it is not the ultimate provider of health. God is. Whatever the State proposes must respect God and His Law.”

The former Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura did not elaborate further on the relationship between the state and the Church on the question of health.

However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that life and health of the body “are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good.”

“If morality requires respect for the life of the body, it does not make it an absolute value,” the Catechism continues. “It rejects a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for its sake, to idolize physical perfection and success at sports. By its selective preference of the strong over the weak, such a conception can lead to the perversion of human relationships.”

Beyond speaking out against forced vaccinations, Burke said “it must be clear that it is never morally justified to develop a vaccine through the use of the cell lines of aborted fetuses.”

“The thought of the introduction of such a vaccine into one’s body is rightly abhorrent,” he added, echoing statements by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and other pro-life leaders, as well as Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas.

The April 17 letter of the USCCB and pro-life leaders called on the Trump administration “to ensure that Americans will have access to vaccines that are free from any connection to abortion.”

“We are aware that, among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies,” the letter pointed out. “Thankfully, other vaccines such as those being developed by Sanofi Pasteur, Inovio, and the John Paul II Medical Research Institute utilize cell lines not connected to unethical procedures and methods.”

Given that “there is no need to use ethically problematic cell lines to produce a COVID vaccine, or any vaccine, as other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available and are regularly being used to produce other vaccines,” the letter asked the government “to encourage and incentivize pharmaceutical companies to use only ethical cell lines or processes for producing vaccines.”

Bishop Strickland released his own pastoral letter on April 23.

“Tragically, people are not aware of or have chosen to turn a blind eye to the advances in medical science which allow vaccines to be developed with the wholesale use of aborted children’s bodies,” he wrote.

Strickland emphasized that just because “the crime of abortion is considered legal in our nation does not mean it is morally permissible to use the dead bodies of these children to cure a global pandemic. Emphatically, this practice is evil.”

“As your Shepherd,” the bishop wrote, “I urge you to join me, NOW, in passionately but prayerfully speaking out against this practice. As I said in the beginning of this letter, I will help you navigate this storm as best as I can.”

“We must insist that legislators create legislation which establishes the illegal and immoral nature of any use of the remains of aborted babies for research,” he added. “Further, we must insist that pharmaceutical companies comply with such legislation. I believe this can be a significant building block in a culture of life which eliminates the taint of economic gain that too easily infects the abortion industry.”

In his talk at the virtual Roman Life Forum, Cardinal Burke also addressed the failure of the Church as a whole to insist on her rights to worship God properly amid the restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Yes, it is true that the experience of the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis has marked significantly our lives, but it must not assume the direction of our lives,” Burke said.


  aborted baby parts, abortion, cardinal burke, raymond burke, rome life forum, rome life forum 2020, vaccines

News

Francis pontificate proving to be ‘catastrophe’ for Church: Renowned historian

'I hold, with all respect for the office which he holds, that the pontificate of Pope Francis has proven to be a catastrophe for the Church'
Fri May 22, 2020 - 11:02 am EST
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Pope Francis next to a statue of Martin Luther placed in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. October, 2016.
Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne
By Lianne Laurence

Urgent appeal to the bishops of the world: Feed your flock! Sign the petition here.

May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The “religious and moral crisis” that followed Vatican II was a worse chastisement than the two world wars and led logically to the “catastrophe” of Pope Francis’ pontificate, says Italian historian and author Roberto de Mattei.

"I hold, with all respect for the office which he holds, that the pontificate of Pope Francis has proven to be a catastrophe for the Church," Professor de Mattei said during a question-and-answer session on day two of the virtual Rome Life Forum.

The coronavirus pandemic is a chastisement God is permitting “as punishment for our sins,” and there have been previous such punishments and more will come, said de Mattei, whose talk for the 7th annual forum, which was moved online because of the pandemic, was on “The Judgment of God in History.”

Although chastisements of this century included communism and two devastating world wars, de Mattei rated fallout from Vatican II as worse than the latter.

“The religious and moral crisis which followed the Second Vatican Council was a chastisement even worse than that of the world wars, and the pontificate of Pope Francis seems to be the logical consequence of these religious crises,” he said.

John-Henry Westen, co-founder and editor in chief of LifeSiteNews also referred to the confusion caused by Pope Francis during the May 21 question-and-answer session, when MC John Smeaton asked him if he wasn’t afraid of being condemned by God for speaking out against the current pontiff.

“I would be afraid of condemnation by God if I didn't speak my concerns about the pope,” replied Westen, adding that Canon 212 in the Code of Canon Law says the faithful have the right and even the duty to tell pastors their opinions on matters pertaining to the good of the Church.

“And I do this with love for the faith, and indeed love for the pope, whom I pray for every single day. And it’s out of concern for the pope’s own soul,” said Westen, who gave a talk on “The Pontificate of Pope Francis: why should we expect a divine intervention today.”

Westen related how the “confusing and even erroneous public statements of Pope Francis” have caused the older of his eight children suffering, citing as an example his daughter calling him from college when the Holy Father’s statement that “cohabitation is real marriage and has the grace of real marriage due to fidelity” went viral in 2016.

“I’m duty-bound as a father to correct the pope when he says things that are contrary to the faith publicly,” said Westen. “Or was I supposed to lie to my daughter? Or was I supposed to distort the truth? That’s impossible.”

Westen believes the coronavirus is a chastisement that has the loss of public Mass as its “essence” and that it will “get quite a bit worse before it gets better” so that people, particularly in the Church, “may recognize the need for repentance.”

“There is a grave need for the faithful to rediscover reverence at Mass with proper disposition for Holy Communion. There are today countless sacrilegious receptions of Holy Communion,” he said. 

Our Lady at Fatima warned “entire nations will be annihilated,” and “we have to pray earnestly it doesn’t come to that,” Westen added.

“We must commit ourselves to fulfilling the requests of Our Lady of Fatima, and for the laity that means the daily rosary, scapular, and the First Saturdays devotion of reparation, and our own personal consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

The pandemic is an opportunity for conversion and evangelization, Westen said.

“Countless people, when they are faced with calamity of all sorts, turn their hearts to God, many for the first time, some after a long time of rejecting God,” said Westen. “So there’s never been a better time to evangelize.”

That also holds true within the Church, he said.

“The truth is that the Catholic Church is in a battle like never before; it is an internal battle for the soul of the Church. And we have never needed reinforcements as we do now,” Westen said.

“So challenge those who feel called to the Church even slightly to come in now to join the battle.” 

De Mattei expressed similar thoughts, noting in response to questions that “as with all of the punishments of God,” the pandemic is, “in my opinion, a great act of mercy.” 

“The thing to fear above all is a situation of even greater confusion within the Church, in which even the best Catholics will risk losing their balance,” he said. “I believe we must make an effort to raise our gaze to God rather than lose ourselves in the labyrinth of the tactics of men.”

It is God “and not a man who will save the Church,” but Catholics can “collaborate” with Him by forming a “Catholic army” that is “small, humble, but faithful” and “distinguishes itself for the integrity of the faith and the purity of virtue,” de Mattei said.

“Whatever happens is willed or permitted by God. So we must always welcome His will with joy without ever renouncing the fight for His honour,” he added. 

“Our joy is in the fight.”

The Virtual Rome Life Forum is sponsored by LifeSiteNews and Voice of the Family. To see the schedule or view the talks, go here.


  pope francis, roberto de mattei, rome life forum, rome life forum 2020

News

US pushes back against pro-abortion language in UN health resolution

'There is no international right to abortion, nor is there any duty on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion.'
Fri May 22, 2020 - 9:11 am EST
Featured Image
Alex Wong / Getty Images
Stefano Gennarini, J.D.
By Stefano Gennarini J.D.

NEW YORK, May 22, 2020 (C-Fam) — Health ministers from around the world adopted a resolution on health policies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic early this week at the World Health Assembly that includes “sexual and reproductive health.” The United States objected to the inclusion of the term and rejected the notion of an international right to abortion.

“There is no international right to abortion, nor is there any duty on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion,” read a written statement submitted by the United States as a formal reservation during the first ever virtual meeting of the World Health Organization’s governing body.

U.S. policy supports “the highest attainable outcomes for health, life, dignity, and well-being throughout their lives” and “high-quality health care for women and girls across the lifespan,” according to the U.S. reservation, just not abortion.

In the statement, the U.S. government rejected two paragraphs in the World Health Assembly’s COVID-19 resolution for including the term “sexual and reproductive health.”

“We do not accept references to ‘sexual and reproductive health,’ or other language that suggests or explicitly states that access to abortion is included in the provision of population and individual level health services,” the statement read.

While the paragraphs recognize that health policies and laws are up to states, the inclusion of ambiguous terms like “sexual and reproductive health” in UN resolutions still gives UN agencies cover to promote abortion, as the World Health Organization does routinely and has done during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The United States believes in legal protections for the unborn,” the U.S. statement reads.

The U.S. reservation also repeated the address by U.S. President Donald Trump to the General Assembly in 2019, “Americans will never tire of defending innocent life” and chided UN bodies for promoting abortion as a human right and pressuring countries to remove legal restrictions on abortion.”

“All in all, the U.S. did an excellent job in advancing pro-life positions at this year’s World Health Assembly,” Scott Fischbach, the Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, told the Friday Fax.

While the U.S. position did not prevail because “sexual and reproductive health” was included in the resolution, Fischbach stressed, “The U.S. stood strong for life throughout the negotiations on the document.”

The U.S. statement’s emphasis against an obligation to fund abortion is new. It is a reaction to UN entities and European countries pressuring the U.S. government to allow funding for abortion in humanitarian emergencies like natural disasters and wars.

The U.S. is the largest single donor to the World Health Organization, contributing one fifth of the organization’s budget with roughly $420 million in 2019.

Federal law prohibits U.S. foreign aid funds from being used to perform abortion or coerce anyone into performing abortion. The law, known as the Helms Amendments, first passed in 1973 and applies to all foreign aid, including emergency aid for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal law also prohibits lobbying for or against abortion by international organizations, such as the World Health Organization. President Trump has put in place and expanded the Mexico City Policy to bar foreign nongovernmental organizations that perform and promote abortion from receiving any U.S. foreign assistance.

letter released earlier this week by Acting Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development John Barsa, appears to signal a more aggressive posture of the Trump administration in defending U.S. pro-life laws and policies in diplomatic settings.

Published with permission from C-Fam.


  abortion, mike pompeo, united nations

News

President Trump: ‘I want to get our churches open’

'I want to get our churches open, and we’re going to take a very strong position on that very soon.'
Fri May 22, 2020 - 9:03 am EST
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Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin
By Calvin Freiburger

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump once again expressed his desire to get the United States and especially churches back to normal, hinting to reporters that his administration may have action on the subject in the works.

“I want to get our country back to normal,” Trump told reporters outside the White House Thursday. “One of the other things I want to do is get the churches open. The churches are not being treated with respect by a lot of the Democrat governors. I want to get our churches open, and we’re going to take a very strong position on that very soon.”

While Trump did not offer details on what that “very strong position” might entail, he could be referring to an expansion of work his Justice Department (DOJ) is already doing to restore the right of religious Americans’ to gather in person for worship services.

US Attorney General William Barr has repeatedly stressed that public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 outbreak do not suspend the protections of the Constitution, and last month directed the DOJ to monitor states and localities for potential religious-freedom violations. Most recently, the DOJ’s Office for Civil Rights informed California Gov. Gavin Newsom that his reopening plan was discriminatory for holding religious institutions to a different standard than secular establishments.

As of May 21, the United States is estimated to have seen more than 1.6 million COVID-19 cases, with more than 95,000 deaths and 373,000 recoveries. An estimated 40% of those deaths have come from nursing homes (with the percentages for specific states often much higher), and mounting evidence suggests far more of the public has contracted and recovered from the virus than the official count indicates. 

At the same time, state bans on “non-essential” activity across the country have caused massive job losses, with more than 33 million Americans filing for unemployment and studies predicting that tens of thousands of small businesses that have closed down will never reopen.

The suppression of religious exercise has been one of the focal points for resistance to the COVID-19 lockdowns across the country, along with prohibitions on peaceful protesting outdoors, even when the protestors abide by “social distancing.”

Advised by Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Trump was previously a supporter of temporarily locking down the country, but over the past several weeks has soured on the lockdowns and come around to favor reopening. He reportedly rejected a CDC proposal for reopening guidelines on the grounds that they were too restrictive of religious liberty and too harmful to the economy.

Readers can click here for LifeSiteNews’ live updates on the coronavirus and its impact all over the world. 


  churches, coronavirus, covid-19, donald trump, lockdowns, religious liberty, reopening, stay-at-home orders

News

Pro-abortion UN top official, charged with false credentials, leaves post in good standing

Kate Gilmore left the U.N. to chair the board of trustees at the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 8:57 am EST
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Kate Gilmore, former deputy U.N. high commissioner for human rights. Norad / YouTube
Susan Yoshihara
By Susan Yoshihara

NEW YORK, May 22, 2020 (C-Fam) — The UN quietly let go a top human rights official and abortion activist rather than hold her accountable for having fabricated her credentials to justify her top-level position and high salary.

Kate Gilmore was expected to serve another term in her post as UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, which she held from 2015 to 2019, but she left to chair the board of trustees at the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the world’s largest network of abortion providers.

In November, Inner City Press reporter Matthew Lee alerted the public to the story. Lee accused the UN of not verifying credentials to justify Gilmore’s job and high pay, some $2 million over the course of her term.

Lee said he informed the UN Secretary General that Gilmore’s biography on the UN website falsely stated that “Ms. Gilmore holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of New England and post graduate degrees in Social Work from the University of Melbourne and Community Development from [Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology] RMIT.”

Two whistle blowers in Gilmore’s office reported the discrepancies in May, 2019, after confirming with the universities that she had not earned the qualifications, Peter Gallo, former investigator at the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services, told the Friday Fax. UN staff regulations state that “staff members must uphold the highest standards” of integrity, including “honesty and truthfulness in all matters affecting their work and status.”

Gallo said that investigations director Ben Swanson and Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Martha Helena Lopez were notified of Gilmore’s untruthfulness, but neither pursued the matter, referring it instead to Secretary-General António Guterres.  Guterres dismissed it as “an error” on the website.

“Junior UN staff have been dismissed for similar fraud,” Gallo said, “but the Secretary-General appears to be willfully blind to the same misrepresentations by UN senior officials.”

Six months later, Gilmore’s online biography was changed to read, “Ms. Gilmore ... has pursued post-graduate studies in social work and community development in Australia.” There is no post-graduate degree on the subject offered at the University of Melbourne, and the reference to Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology was dropped, Lee noted. Ms. Gilmore’s biography at Harvard University gives yet a different version, saying she has a bachelor’s degree, and not graduate degrees, from both University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Institute.

Gilmore faced no disciplinary action and left the UN on full benefits. Before leaving, Gilmore had one of the whistle blowers transferred to a remote, powerless post. Both whistle blowers remain blacklisted, Gallo said, and their accusations against Gilmore for bullying them remain unaddressed.

Gilmore has long been a controversial figure at the United Nations. She held at top spot at the UN Population Fund and was often criticized for heavy-handed tactics with delegates from traditional countries, pressuring them to adopt prostitution and liberalize sexual norms. As Executive Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International, Gilmore spearheaded the 2007 inclusion of abortion advocacy in Amnesty’s work as part of its response to gender-based violence. Gilmore was known for creating such a poor work environment at Amnesty International that the organization paid her handsomely to leave.

In her new role at IPPF, this week Gilmore condemned a letter from acting USAID administrator John Barsa to UN Secretary-General Guterres in which he said “sexual and reproductive health” is not humanitarian relief and should not be included in the UN’s emergency funding for COVID-19.

Gilmore argued that “denying access” to abortion “contravenes humanitarian principles,” though the claim lacks legal basis or international consensus.

Published with permission from C-Fam.


  abortion, international planned parenthood federation, kate gilmore, prostitution, united nations

Opinion

Bishops should defy state rulings that worship is ‘non-essential’

The Church cannot, indeed must not, accept the presumption that the state knows what is good for the Church.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 9:45 pm EST
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Phil Lawler
By Phil Lawler

May 22, 2020 (CatholicCulture.org) — My friend and colleague Jeff Mirus cautions us that we should not rush into judgment of our Church leaders; we should not leap to a premature conclusion that they are bowing to civil authorities by restricting pastoral ministry during the current epidemic. He is right, of course, and I recognize in myself a strong tendency toward rash judgment: a tendency that I need to control.

Nevertheless I cannot escape the conclusion that devout Catholics have good reason to suspect that in this crisis, their pastors have been more worried about the political ramifications of their actions than the pastoral fallout. I say this for three reasons:

  1. Quite often, the restrictions announced by Church leaders have exactly matched, point by point, the regulations issued by civil authorities. In Rome, the police closed down access to St. Peter’s Square (which is within their jurisdiction), and then a few hours later the Vatican announced the closing of St. Peter’s basilica (which is under Vatican control). Was that a coincidence? The same pattern was evident all around the world: Church leaders closed churches as soon as public officials imposed emergency rules. Only rarely did Catholic leaders resist the imposition of civil orders on religious activities.
  2. As a general rule, the bishops who have been most anxious to restrict access to the sacraments — and the lay Catholics most anxious to defend those restrictions — have come from the Church’s liberal wing. On paper that correlation makes no sense. One might expect older and sicklier Catholics to favor stronger public-health measures, while the young and reckless chafed under restrictions. But if my observations are accurate, it has been mostly orthodox Catholics who have pleaded for greater access to the sacraments, while progressives have argued that reopening churches would be unwise.
  3. The remarkable deference to civil authority during this epidemic follows a pattern that has become all too common in recent years. Our Church leaders have carefully avoided public controversy, even at the expense of ecclesiastical discipline. Take, for instance, the manifest unwillingness of American bishops to bar pro-abortion politicians from Communion.

For the past forty years liberal Catholics have told us that the pro-life cause is not sufficient reason to deny anyone the Eucharist. Yet for the past forty days we have been told that the pro-life cause is sufficient reason to deny the Eucharist to everyone. Go figure.

We could not keep the churches open, we were told, because the Catholic Church is a pro-life church, and we must never do anything that would jeopardize the lives of those who come to worship with us. That logic is sound, as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough.

The Catholic Church is not in the business of saving lives, but the business of saving souls. So during an epidemic, while civic leaders rightly have the physical health of the people uppermost in their minds, Church leaders should be more mindful of their people’s spiritual welfare. As important as it is to worry about the health of parishioners, pastors should never do anything to jeopardize the souls of those who worship with us.

Only rarely do the demands of physical health come into conflict with the demands of spiritual welfare. But such a conflict has arisen in these past several weeks. Different pastors have resolved that conflict in different ways, and I am not going to question their judgments. But far too many pastors, rather than making their own decisions, deferred entirely to secular authorities. And that is a choice that I question.

In an excellent column for Catholic World Report, Douglas Farrow observed that some earnest Catholics are reluctant to reopen churches:

They make their appeal to the fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” And to what Jesus identified as the second Great Commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” These they have merged into a justification for the new COVID commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor by staying well away from him, lest thou pass on a virus that might kill him.” And the COVID commandment, they point out, also remains in force.

While readily conceding the need for prudence in attending to health concerns, Farrow adds that a sense of balance and proportion is necessary, because “it won’t do to protect people from a deadly virus only to hand them over to poverty, famine, tyranny, war, or death by neglect.” Yet even that is not his primary concern. The greater danger, Farrow argue, lies in the willingness of Church officials to accept government-imposed restrictions — even extreme restrictions — without demanding that the government understand the Church’s priorities.

My worry is that by their compliance they are endorsing, or will be seen to be endorsing, not the gospel of the kingdom but the gospel of the state; that they are making the priorities of the state their own, rather than the priorities of Jesus.

In an article posted the same day by Le Figaro, Cardinal Robert Sarah makes a similar point, expressing concern that Church leaders, in their desire to be “good citizens,” have too often lost sight of their more important mission. Yes, the Church works for the good of society at large, and offers her guidance on temporal affairs, as befits (in the words of Pope Paul VI) an “expert on humanity.” “But little by little Christians have come to forget the reason for that expertise,” the cardinal remarks.

The Catholic Church can offer advice to civic leaders, in pursuit of the common good, because the Church knows what mankind needs to find true and lasting happiness. But civic leaders cannot return the favor; they cannot offer the same sort of guidance to the Church, because the secular world does not comprehend the Church’s mission of salvation. The Church understands the world; the world does not understand the Church.

So the Church cannot, indeed must not, accept the presumption that the state knows what is good for the Church. The state’s business is to know what is good for the temporal welfare of citizens in general. When the state’s laws are designed for that purpose and equitably enforced, the Church does well to obey them. For example, parish churches should comply with local fire-safety regulations. But when the state arbitrarily rules that church services are not essential activities, the Church cannot and must not acquiesce. Worship is essential. The Church knows that because she is an “expert on humanity” and because she is familiar with the First Commandment. To accept designation as “non-essential” is to deny the proper authority of Christ’s Church.

When civil officials issue orders about what is good for public health, Catholic bishops should listen, because civil officials have the proper authority to enforce public-health rules. Indeed a prudent bishop would ordinarily heed those rules even if he personally believes they are misguided, because the bishop is not an expert in the field of public health. But if and when the rules infringe on the prerogatives of the Church — if they compromise the evangelical mission — then the bishop must demur, and protest, and if necessary defy the civil authority. And so must we.

Published with permission from CatholicCulture.org.


  catholic, coronavirus, freedom of religion, police state, quarantine

Blogs

Young Catholics ask Australian bishops, lawmakers: ‘Please bring back Holy Mass for all’

As public restrictions have eased, Mass remains banned or severely restricted in Australia.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 5:14 pm EST
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Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike
By Maike Hickson

Urgent appeal to the bishops of the world: Feed your flock! Sign the petition here.

May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – On May 21, young Catholics in Australia published a new video in which they ask Church and state authorities to “please bring back Holy Mass for all.” 

The reason for this initiative is that, in spite of general easing of restrictions, public Masses in Australia are still being kept either forbidden or strongly restricted. As one youth says, in South Australia, “where there are no active cases of coronavirus, public Masses remain suspended.”

The new video with some 20 young Catholics asking for the return of Mass was organized by a young Catholic Australian named John. He told LifeSiteNews that he was inspired by similar videos from young people in Austria, across Europe, and the U.S. He thought “we had to speak up as well.”

As LifeSiteNews previously reported, youth made numerous videos at the end of April of this year, asking that the Holy Mass be given back to them in their respective countries and offering their practical help to assist with the opening of the churches.

This new video points out clear injustices with regard to new rules coming in. As one young Catholic says in the video, “last week, New South Wales and Victoria began to reopen churches with a capacity limit of 10 worshippers including in cathedrals built to hold thousands, and many churches remain closed due to fear of the virus.” Another young Catholic informs us that in Brisbane, “where cafes are allowed to host up to 10 customers, public Masses remain suspended.”

One young man reminds the audience that, while “essentials have remained available throughout this virus,” the churches were closed. “What could be more essential for us Catholics than the Holy Mass?” he asks.

“Please bring back the Holy Mass for all,” these young Catholics conclude.

John, the organizer of the video, told LifeSiteNews that he was touched by the earlier videos made by young Catholics throughout the world. They “really capture the feelings of young Catholics at this extraordinary situation where the vast majority of Mass goers are being separated from Our Lord, for no justifiable reason.” He went on to say that it was very easy for him to find collaborators among Catholics in his country – from across Catholic university student circles in Australia, with participants from most of the different states in Australia – in order to make this new video.

He especially pointed to the situation in the state of South Australia “where they do not have a single active case of coronavirus yet all public Masses remain suspended.” 

“Brisbane, our third largest city,” he continued, “also has no public Masses, despite the familiar story of department stores and cafes being deemed safe to welcome thousands.”

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, just stated in an interview with EWTN's Raymond Arroyo that there is a danger of the virus being used in an anti-Catholic way by dictatorial states and “some other ideological groups.”

“We have to speak against the instrumentalization of this virus, of this global crisis” by dictatorial states and “some other ideological groups” who wish to “suppress the Church” and promote the “break down of the sacramental life of the Church,” he said. He added that the state cannot forbid the Church to worship God.

“It is absolutely contradictory to open the supermarkets and other assemblies and to close the Church,” the German prelate explained. He pointed out that the Supreme Court of France just told the state that in a sense of proportion and when other institutions are being opened, the churches, too, “must be opened.” The French Council of State – a governmental body that plays the role of a legal advisor to the state and Supreme Court in administrative matters – had ruled that the state needed to open the churches again, due to the specific rights attached to the “fundamental liberty” of public worship.

It is to be hoped that the Australian authorities listen to the voices of young Catholics, as well as to those of other authorities in the world which are attentive to matters of justice.


  australia, catholic, coronavirus, holy mass

Blogs

Harvard prof wants homeschooling banned because kids may not learn her preferred values

Elizabeth Bartholet suggests that Christian homeschooling parents are dangerous ideologues, not being aware that she herself is a dangerous ideologue.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 11:25 am EST
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Elizabeth Bartholet. Harvard Law School / YouTube
Jonathon Van Maren Jonathon Van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon Van Maren

May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Last month, the homeschooling community erupted in outrage with the release of an article in Harvard Magazine titled “The Risks of Homeschooling,” which detailed the views of Harvard’s own Elizabeth Bartholet.

A Wasserstein public interest professor of law and faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, Bartholet has been advocating a limited ban on homeschooling, which she claims violates a child’s right to a “meaningful education,” and notes her particular concern with conservative Christian parents who may be “extreme religious ideologues.”

Apparently unaware of the fact that conservative Christians consider her a dangerous and extreme ideologue (and one advocating for children to be forcibly separated from their parents for a portion of each day to ensure that other people’s children are exposed to her views), Bartholet is doubling down on her proposed ban. In an interview with the Harvard Gazette, she explains why she believes that homeschooling is so dangerous.

Bartholet is honest about whom she is targeting here. When asked what was fueling the fast-growing phenomenon in homeschooling in the United States, she got right to the point:

Behind the rapid growth of the homeschooling movement is the growth in the conservative evangelical movement. Conservative Christians wanted the chance to bring their children up with their values and belief systems and saw homeschooling as a way to escape from the secular education in public schools. They had fought the battle with public school systems to have their children exempted from exposure to alternative values in the schools and lost. When they started withdrawing their children for homeschooling, this propelled expansion of the homeschooling movement.

Bartholet then noted that most other countries regulate homeschooling much more strictly, ensuring that parents are “qualified to teach” and that they often “mandate that the homeschooling curriculum ... includes teaching about the fundamental values of our society.” If those values happen to run contrary to the religious beliefs of the parents — and indeed, might be the entire reason for homeschooling in the first place — all the more reason for the state to step in.

PETITION: Demand Planned Parenthood return $80M improperly taken from coronavirus emergency fund! Sign the petition here.

In fact, despite evidence that homeschooled children often do better than their publicly educated peers, Bartholet explains that many homeschooling parents may be vicious racists and “extreme ideologues, committed to raising their children within their belief systems “isolated from any societal influence.” By societal influence, she means the influence of people who think as she does. The sexual revolutionaries conquered the public school system, and she is upset that some parents have responded to that fact by opting out and raising their children themselves without government interference.

In fact, if these children are not taken out of their parents’ homes and educated by the state, Bartholet told the Gazette, “society may not have the chance to teach them values important to the larger community, such as tolerance of other people’s views.” Again, Bartholet is being up front here: she opposes any education that doesn’t involve the sort of indoctrination she approves of. The parents she accuses of being ideologues are not demanding that the children of others be taught their belief system, but the woman who claims not to be an ideologue is happy to demand, with a straight face, that her views be taught to the children of others — because the parents might be dangerous. The reason they are dangerous is because they prefer the Bible to herself.

It takes a uniquely dangerous form of arrogance to peddle this stuff in public.

Bartholet claims to be doing all of this in order to protect children from being abused, as if a ban on homeschooling were the way to address that. She says that in the wake of her article, people have been expressing their support, and she is hoping “some of us can work together to develop a meaningful action agenda with the goal of better protecting our children’s rights to education and to protection against maltreatment.” And by “our children,” she means, specifically, your children.

Fortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and impromptu homeschooling that has occurred as a result have actually created a surge of support for alternative schooling arrangements. Forty percent of American families have said they are “more likely” to homeschool post-pandemic, and 64% indicated that they support school choice. Dangerous ideologues such as Elizabeth Bartholet never stop scheming about how to ram their values down the throats of other people’s children, and the homeschooling community will need broad public support to ensure she never gets the chance.

Jonathon’s new podcast, The Van Maren Show, is dedicated to telling the stories of the pro-life and pro-family movement. In his latest episode, he interviews Scott Klusendorf about the fundamental flaw Klusendorf sees in the idea of locking down the country under the guise of preventing people from getting coronavirus.  

You can subscribe here and listen to the episode below: 


  education, elizabeth bartholet, harvard university, homeschooling, parental rights, police state, propaganda, public schools

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EpisodesFri May 22, 2020 - 12:37 pm EST

What is our purpose in life?

By Mother Miriam
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Watch Mother Miriam's Live show from 5.22.2020. Today, Mother continues helping listeners grow in their faith. The focus of today's show is our purpose in life. Circumstances and situations change, but our purpose and reason for being does not.

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