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December 12, 2018


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Ronan Oger
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Activist accused of misgendering political candidate stands his ground before human rights tribunal

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) ― A Christian activist is currently on trial before a so-called “Human Rights Tribunal” for having revealed that a “transgender” political candidate was born a biological male.

Bill Whatcott’s hearing began December 11 and will continue until December 14.

The complainant, a businessman named Morgane Oger who was born Ronan Oger, ran as the New Democrat Party (NDP) candidate for the Vancouver-False Creek riding in the province’s May 2017 elections. Oger alleges Whatcott distributed two flyers during the campaign that were discriminatory and exposed him to “hatred and contempt” under Section 7 of British Columbia’s Human Rights Code.

Apparently the first “transgendered” candidate to seek election as a member of B.C.’s legislative assembly, Oger lost by 560 votes.

Whatcott’s flyer, which asserts that Oger “is a biological male who has renamed himself ‘Morgane Oger’ after he embraced a transvestite lifestyle,” can be found here.  

The Tribunal is composed of lawyers Devyn Cousineau, Diana Juricevic, and Norman Trerise.

Initially, Whatcott reported from his hearing, stepping outside the courtroom to keep friends and fellow activists updated. The Tribunal ordered him to stop his Facebook updates after lunch-time complaints by Oger’s lawyer, Suzanna Quail.  

Shortly before his trial began, Whatcott published a short film in which he explained what he hopes to accomplish.

“Hello, this is Bill Whatcott. I am now in front of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal,” he said. “I am on trial today for properly gendering an NDP political candidate who thinks he’s a woman but was indeed born a biological male.”

“I expect today will be acrimonious, unfortunately. It’s sad that this kind of tyranny, fascism and gender confusion can be imposed on tax-paying Canadians,” he continued.

“I do see it as my duty today to stand for the truth, to stand against coercion and trying to force us to use the pronouns that are fake, to call men ‘women,’ and to call women ‘men,’ so please pray for me. Please pray for those who are here supporting me.”

According to Whatcott’s own  “Free North America” blog, his lawyer, Charles Lugosi, began the hearing by arguing that everyone must be free to criticize all aspects of a political candidate’s life for “a functioning democracy to work.”

Susanna Quail, representing Oger, held that Whatcott’s words could lead to violence and prevented Oger from participating in “political discourse.”

A lawyer from the West Coast Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) argued that  people with non-standard “gender expression” need human rights protection. According to Whatcott, she rejected the notion that speaking “in a way that is grounded in reality” is a human right.

The LEAF lawyer also accused Whatcott of wanting to prevent Oger from participating in political life, which Whatcott says is untrue.

“She didn't understand (that I believe) Ronan could run for office just fine, but in a democracy (he) would have to deal with the fact I don't agree he is a woman,“ he wrote.

Both a lawyer  for the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, which is intervening in the case in favor of Ogen, and a lawyer for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom (JCCF), an intervenor for Whatcott, stated that this case will set a national precedent. The JCCF lawyer said it would have implications for election freedom and freedom of speech.

At one point, the proceedings seemed to veer toward comedy when Quail’s objections to Whatcott’s lawyer “misgendering” Oger during cross-examination were followed by one Tribunal member, Norman Trerise, himself referring to Oger as “he.”

Trerise promptly apologized.

Nevertheless, the proceedings seem to have been rancorous.

“When my lawyer was cross-examining Mr. Oger about his subjective experiences, Oger's lawyer repeatedly objected to my lawyer's line of questioning and the Tribunal upheld all of her objections,” Whatcott reported.

“My lawyer found it hard to question, and while he tried to stay neutral with pronouns and mostly referred to Ronan as ‘The Complainant,’ a couple times he slipped up and called Ronan ‘he,’ thereby eliciting the wrath of all three Tribunal members,” he continued.  

When Cousineau “berated” Lugosi for having “misgendered” Oger five times, Whatcott demanded that the tribunal stop bullying his lawyer and shouted, “The Emperor has no clothes; even Norman accidently called Roman what he is: a guy.”  

In response, Trerise allegedly told Whatcott to shut up, and Juricevic allegedly warned Whatcott that if he had an “outburst” like that again, he would be removed from his own hearing and ordered to pay costs.   

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Poland and Hungary block ‘LGBTIQ rights’ from being enshrined in EU legislation

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

BRUSSELS, December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Poland and Hungary blocked the inclusion of “LGBTIQ” rights in a common European Union statement.

Last week representatives from Poland and Hungary annoyed other European Union (EU) member states by vetoing the inclusion of the “LGBTIQ” acronym in a joint statement by employment and social affairs ministers meant to promote “gender equity in the digital era.”

LGBTIQ is a reference to people who derive their identity from lesbianism, homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism, intersexuality, or an experimental “questioning” approach to sexuality.

The European employment and social affairs ministers collectively form the EU Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO), which meets four times a year. Its most recent meeting was held in Brussels on December 6. Brussels is the capital of the European Union.

The official EPSCO Council Conclusions now refer only to “gender equality, youth and digitalization.” To appease the other member states, who were reportedly furious with Poland’s and Hungary’s veto, Austria added a reference to “LGBTIQ” to the document in its current capacity as holder of the Presidency of the European Council. However, this addition is classified as only “presidential conclusions,” which do not have the legal significance of formal Council conclusions.

One of the ministers complained vociferously about the actions of the Hungarian and Polish members.

According to Politico, Wouter Koolmees, the Dutch minister for social affairs and employment, called “LGBTIQ” rights “core values” of the European Union.

“LGBTIQ inclusion and equality are core values of our European Union,” he said. “This is where I draw the line. We will never compromise our principles. This is not up for discussion and should have never been an issue for any member state. So I am happy that the reference is back in the text. Although I do regret we were not able to adopt them as Council conclusions.”

Gaystar News reported that in response to Poland’s and Hungary’s refusal to sanction the pro-homosexual language, the Maltese government drew up another pro-LGBT document. This common paper called on the European Commission to “adopt a strong, EU-wide [LGBT] strategy.” Signed by 19 EU countries, it is not legally binding.   

Poland and Hungary are considered the gadflies of the European Union for not going along with the EU’s far-left, globalist agenda. Both Poland and Hungary have consistently fought against a redefinition of marriage and the family, LGBT indoctrination of children, and the forced resettlement of migrants within their borders.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó made waves when he boldly stated that his country wants to “preserve Europe as a Christian Europe” and that they would like Hungary to remain a “Christian nation.” Poland has been rebuked by the EU for considering legislation that would criminalize the abortion of unborn children with disabilities.

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Google CEO: It’s ‘not possible’ for Trump search results to be manipulated by employees

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By Calvin Freiburger

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Sundar Pichai, CEO of internet powerhouse Google, appeared on Capitol Hill Tuesday to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, where Republican lawmakers posed numerous questions to him about allegations of political bias at the search-engine giant.

GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Steve King of Iowa, and Lamar Smith of Texas were among Pichai’s questioners, Breitbart reports.

“There is talk of suppressing conservative speech, why wouldn’t that be something you would launch an internal investigation in, publish those reports, sanction those employees that may or may not engaged in proper conduct so we can all be involved in the experience?” Gaetz asked. Pichai claimed Google has looked into several allegations, but has not specifically launched an investigation into employee bias because the company’s processes are layered with enough redundancies and review to catch potential harm before it takes effect.

Gaetz then asked about internal employee discussion groups such as the recently-revealed “resist” group in which employees discussed expelling Breitbart from Google AdSense on “hate” grounds. “I promise you that Breitbart is very much on our radar,” AdSense legal team member Emily Garber said.

Pichai said he was “not aware” of the "resist" group and that candid, private expressions by individual employees don’t reflect the company’s view, but claimed he would be “happy to follow up” now that he’s been informed of it.

Gaetz was unimpressed.

“How can I have confidence that you’re protecting the sanctity of your system when you don’t even know your employees are getting together on your own company’s infrastructure to talk about political activity?” the congressman asked.

Jordan used his time to seek answers about leaked emails that revealed in September that Google had engaged in efforts to increase Latino voter turnout in 2016, which Multicultural Marketing department chief Eliana Murillo admitted were essentially a “silent donation” in hopes the voters would back Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Pichai claimed to have “found no efforts to substantiate those claims,” and repeatedly insisted that Google “didn’t have any effort to push out votes for any particular demographic.” Jordan repeatedly pressed him on whether “your own head of multicultural marketing” was “lying when she said you were trying to get out the Latino vote in key states [...] just made it up out of thin air the day after the election.” Pichai refused to give a clear answer.

“Conduct of the sort described by Ms. Murillo would be an unreported, illegal contribution by Google to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign,” PowerLine’s John Hinderaker commented Tuesday. “If we are going to start prosecuting campaign finance violations against someone other than Dinesh D’Souza, let’s go all the way.”

King and Smith both asked Pichai about suspicions that Google manipulates its search algorithms to disadvantage conservative content.

Citing a PJ Media analysis that found 96% of the first 100 results for the term “trump” came from left-leaning news outlets along with research psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein’s assessment that Google likely swung as many as 2.6 million votes to Clinton in 2016, Smith said Google’s stated mission to provide unbiased information was “clearly” not working and asked what he would do to “improve the situation.”

Pichai disputed Epstein’s methodology, and suggested sanctioning offending employees was unnecessary because “it is not possible for an individual employee or groups of employees to manipulate our search results. We have a robust framework, including many steps in the process.”

Perhaps most significantly, Pichai claimed that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a notorious left-wing organization Google considers a “Trusted Flagger” of potentially hateful content on the Google-owned YouTube, has “never flagged a single video on our platform.”

SPLC’s stated mission is to “completely destroy” groups it targets for "strictly ideological"reasons, and has fought to get numerous mainstream conservative organizations barred from apolitical online services. This summer, it agreed to pay $3.4 million in a defamation suit brought by the British-based Quilliam Foundation. YouTube has attempted to restrict multiple conservative groups, such as Dennis Prager’s Prager University, under false pretenses.

Pichai also inadvertently undermined one of tech giants’ main justifications for the content management changes made since 2016, the Daily Caller reports. Google, Facebook, and Twitter have all spoken of the importance of preventing foreign government from interfering in future elections, but Pichai admitted that accounts linked to the Russian government only spent “about $4,700” on advertising during the presidential election.

Similar ads on Facebook amounted to approximately $100,000 and more than $274,000 on Twitter. Taken together, these Russian-backed efforts to sow division among the electorate amount to less than $400,000 – or less than 0.004% of the $9.8 billion estimated to have been spent on political advertising in 2016.

Republicans weren’t the only ones to grill Pichai, however. PJ Media reports that Democrat Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York implored Google to “combat the spread of white supremacy and right-wing extremism across YouTube,” and Steve Cohen of Tennessee suggested the real problem was "overly using conservative news organizations on your news,” based on his experience being a frequent MSNBC guest yet having a Daily Caller piece on him being the first result in a Google search.

Google has also come under fire for leaked private communications in which top executives vowed to ensure 2016 was no more than a “blip” or “hiccup” in a “moral arc of history bend[ing] towards progress.” Google has also come under fire for research it commissioned to explore how it could be a “good censor” to strike a balance between an “unmediated ‘marketplace of ideas,’” and “well-ordered spaces for safety and civility.”

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Abortion activists crash Dutch March-for-Life stage with signs, shouting

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By Calvin Freiburger

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Saturday, December 8 saw the Netherlands’ own March for Life, which had a large turnout of committed pro-lifers but also a handful of pro-abortion party crashers.

Started by the pro-life group Cry for Life in 1985, the Dutch march protests the country’s legalization of abortion in 1980 and seeks to “create awareness for the value of each human life and to pray to God for a change of heart of those who are silent or support abortion,” according to the European pro-life group One of Us.

This year, the event took place at the Hague’s Malieveld field, a popular location for a wide range of events and demonstrations. Last year’s march attracted 14,000 people, and Dutch news outlet Staphorst.Nieuws reports that this year saw more than 10,000 attendees.

The event featured a variety of speakers as well as prayer, music, and singing. Hundreds of civil, enthusiastic participants can be seen in various photos of the event: ​

As Cry for Life leader Kees van Helden was opening the event, six women stepped on the stage, some of whom wore masks. They attempted to shout down the event with chants and signs both declaring “Baas in eigen bulk,” which translates roughly to “masters of our own belly.” They were quickly removed from the stage, but continued shouting as they walked away.

At least some of the protesters were from the area “feminist” group Kattenkwaad, and the slogan was also found defacing a church column along the march route. Two arrests have been made so far.

Kattenkwaad claims to fight against “discriminatory or oppressive behaviour and consider the revealing and rejection of social inequality the first necessary step to achieve change.” The group took credit for interrupting the march on their website, adding that the arrested protesters have been released, declaring that “intolerance to individual freedom of choice should not be allowed to grow!”

One of the messages Kattenkwaad didn’t want “allowed to grow” was a speech by Joanne, a woman who shared her experience with abortion.

"I was not allowed to hear the heartbeat," she recalled. “Although I asked for a photo, I never received it [...] I had a conversation with the abortionist where I indicated that I did not really want it. Nothing was done with this.”

“During the wait, I thought several times: I'm leaving,” she continued. “But the pressure of darkness kept me on that bed.”

Eventually, Joanne says she and her boyfriend (now husband) Gert found peace through faith in Jesus Christ.

“With God, I could come with my intense pain, regret and sadness. With God, I found comfort, forgiveness and healing,” she explained. “This gave us deep and unprecedented peace and confidence for the future.”

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Leaked emails: After Trump victory, Google employees sought to ban Breitbart from ad revenue

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By Doug Mainwaring

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Emails leaked to Breitbart News show that senior Google employees sought to mortally wound the popular news site beginning shortly after Donald Trump won the White House in 2016.

The emails reveal that Google employees explored ways to cut off Breitbart’s ability to earn revenue by banning the website from “Google AdSense,” a program which funnels audience-targeted ads – and marketing dollars – to content publishers.

In a lengthy email thread, officials of the search engine giant, reeling from Hillary Clinton’s loss, reveal they were on a quest to uncover examples of “fake news” and “hate speech” they assumed were being propagated in Breitbart News stories.  

Google employees believed that if they could find a way to legitimately accuse Breitbart of “fake news” or “hate speech,” they would be justified in choking off ad revenue. By demonetizing the website, the conservative news source would soon die.

Combing through the leaked emails

A couple weeks after Trump’s inauguration, the quest to suffocate Breitbart was initiated in a group email from Google employee David Richter, who asked, “Anyone want to hold their nose and look through Breitbart.com for hate speach [sic]?”

Jeff Lakusta, technical support chief for Google’s ad-buying software, chimed in: “This is likely going to be tough to prove that Breitbart is Hate Speech. If we want to tackle it, we’ll need a very thorough approach, which will likely take several people across the group.” Lakusta then offered a spreadsheet so that members of the group could tally examples of what they determined to be “hate speech.”

“We can work together to tackle the site and document cases of Hate Speech,” continued Lakusta. “Once the group feels this is ready, submitting this type of document to AdSense is much more likely to result in meaningful change, given Google’s natural (& understandable) reticence to take action against this site.”

Emily Garber, “product counsel” for AdSense policies, joined the discussion offering to address the group’s questions: “I promise you that Breitbart is very much on our radar and our Trust and Safety team is evaluating the site to determine its policy compliance.”

“I know I'm speaking to the choir here,” prefaced Ryan Garza, who works with Google’s large advertising clients. “There is obviously a moral argument to be made as well as a business case.”

Joining the conversation, Google director of monetization Jim Gray assured the group that his team had been reviewing the Breitbart website since the “fake news” discussion kicked off shortly after Trump’s victory over Clinton.

The Google group found disappointing results

After the group spent ten days of sifting through Breitbart, David Motsonashvili wrote, “I've noticed that almost all the stuff there is based on comments, while, as a tactic for getting google to dump Breitbart this may be somewhat successful, I think it’s relevant to note that it may have a seriously detrimental side effect.”

Motsonashvili was alluding to the fact that attacking Breitbart based on reader comments, not published content, would likely incur a backlash against Google.

“Right now over 90% of the things in the spreadsheet are from the comment section,” he added.

Although their efforts have failed so far, the presence of a large contingent of Google senior staff plotting to shut down conservative websites by flexing the tech giant’s considerable control of internet earnings and traffic troubles conservatives, who also say they are noticing increasing censorship from social media companies.

By steering search results and corking ad revenue, Google has the wherewithal to severely limit the presence of conservatives on the internet.

Congress grills Google CEO over discrimination against conservatives

Google CEO Sundar Pichai was subjected to a wide range of questions Tuesday as he testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. In particular, House members grilled Pichai about Google search results being biased against conservatives and conservative points of view.

“This has been a reoccurring narrative over the past year, as Republican lawmakers – and even President Donald Trump – have accused Google and other tech platforms of suppressing conservative voices,” reported CNBC in its coverage of the hearing. “Pichai echoed Google’s previous denials, and repeatedly responded that Google’s search algorithms did not favor any particular ideology, but instead surfaced the most relevant results, which could be affected by the time of a users’ search, as well as their geography.”

“I strongly support an open, decentralized internet that is free of powerful gatekeepers with the ability to discriminate against rivals, threaten innovation, or harm consumers," declared Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who pressed the Google CEO to pledge to end the tech behemoth’s discriminatory practices.

Pichai denied that Google discriminates via search results.  

Despite Pichai’s assertions, Breitbart’s own investigation revealed earlier this year that “Google’s ad department was directing the company’s ad clients to the page of Sleeping Giants, a far-left organization that attempts to blacklist conservative media organizations – including Breitbart News – by spreading slander to their advertisers.”

In the same report, Breitbart showed that senior Google officials “had authored an open letter to Google’s management formally requesting that Breitbart be demonetized. It now appears that the letter was the tail-end of a long process within Google to smear Breitbart as a place for ‘fake news’ and ‘hate speech,’ that began mere months after the 2016 election.”

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16-year-old charged with killing girl, baby because she ‘waited too long’ to get abortion

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By Calvin Freiburger
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MISHAWAKA, Indiana, December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Sixteen-year-old Aaron Trejo has been charged with murder and feticide after reportedly confessing to killing seventeen-year-old Breana Rouhselang because she didn’t tell him she was pregnant until it was too late for her to get an abortion.

Rouhselang, a Mishawaka High School cheerleader, was found dead this weekend in a trash bin behind a Mishawaka restaurant, Fox News reports. She was first reported missing by her family around 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning, after having been seen alive at their home around midnight.

According to an autopsy, she died from multiple stab wounds, had been strangled with her own scarf, and was approximately six months pregnant. Trejo was arrested Monday, and admitted to stabbing her in the heart, disposing of her body in a black trash bag, and throwing her phone and the knife into the river.

Trejo, a member of the school football team, “explained that Breana waited too long to tell Aaron about the pregnancy to get an abortion,” according to Detective Gery Mullins. “I asked Aaron what he did about that, and he replied, ‘I took action... I took her life.’”

Homicide investigator Lt. Alex Arendt said that Rouhselang and Trejo knew each other from the football team, but the exact nature of their relationship was unknown.

The teen will be tried as an adult for the deaths of both Rouhselang and the child, as Indiana is one of 38 states that recognizes pre-born babies as victims of violent crimes against their mothers. A judge denied bail in Trejo’s first court hearing, WNDU reports, where he appeared via closed-circuit television. A preliminary “not guilty” plea was entered on his behalf.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family members and friends who have been affected by this great loss,” the school district said in a statement. It has also made grief counselors available at the high school, where students walked out for a moment of silence Monday.

The Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County and YWCA North Central Indiana have also organized a public vigil for Rouhselang Thursday evening at Ward Baker Park at 811 S. Byrkit Avenue.

Rouhselang’s baby was killed around Roe v. Wade’s recognized cutoff point for “viability,” at which fetal humans can survive removal from the womb, though as science advances newborns are more often becoming capable of surviving earlier deliveries. After viability, Indiana only allows abortions sought for a mother’s “health.”

If convicted of both slayings, Trejo could receive an additional six to 20 years on his sentence for feticide, the Indianapolis Star reports.

“It seems incredibly clear that [Trejo] might be the first case to have a successful feticide charge under this law,” Indiana University law professor Jody Madeira said. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the fetal homicide law in March, and it took effect in July.

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‘Christmas miracle’: Mall overturns nativity set ban after Christians protest with living nativity

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean
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STIRLING, Scotland, December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A shopping mall in Scotland has overturned its ban on displaying a Christmas nativity scene after Christians protested the decision by staging a living nativity, right within the mall. 

Thistles Centre in Stirling released a statement today saying that they had changed their minds and would allow a representative from the Legion of Mary to set up a nativity scene as part of their Christmas decor.  

“We’ve listened carefully to everyone who contacted us about the installation and have decided to reverse our original decision," it said.

"We have offered Mrs Patterson the opportunity to host a nativity scene at the centre this Sunday in line with her original request and we are delighted that she has accepted,” it continued.

Thistles Centre’s decision not to permit the display on the grounds that it “prides itself on being religiously and politically neutral” made national headlines and was covered on LifeSiteNews. 

Both the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and the Church of Scotland had voiced disappointment at the mall’s “Grinch-like” decision. 

On Monday, Scottish Catholics John Mallon and Elena Feick protested actively by visiting the mall dressed as St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mallon chatted with shoppers and discussed the “crib controversy” with them. A video of the dynamic duo “looking for a place at the inn” has been viewed thousands of times on social media. 

John Mallon is delighted by Thistles’ change of heart. 

“It’s a Christmas miracle,” he told LifeSiteNews via social media. “What great news! The real reason for the season!”

Mallon has a message for Scottish readers, too. 

“If you are shopping in Thistles Shopping centre this Advent, why not pay a visit to the Crib and share your picture with us to spread the peace and joy of the Christmas season to all, “ he suggested. 

Mallon is an administrator of Glasgow’s Holy Family Roman Catholic Church Facebook page. 

The Scotsman has reported that the Archdiocese of St. Andrews & Edinburgh has likewise expressed great satisfaction that Thistles Centre has responded with “generosity and inclusivity” to Christians. 

“The management of the Thistles Centre, along with owners Standard Life Investments, are to be commended and congratulated for listening to the general public and responding with such generosity and inclusivity, recognising that contemporary Scotland should be a place that both respects and upholds religious liberty in the public square,” an archdiocesan spokesman said.

“We wish the management, staff and shoppers at Thistles a very happy and very peaceful Christmas indeed.”

To thank Thistles Centre for reconsidering the nativity ban, please contact:

Management
Thistles Shopping Centre
Goosecroft Road
Stirling, UK
FK8 2EA

Tel: +44 178 640-0055
Fax +44 178 646-5443
Email: [email protected]

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Ohio Christians protest city’s removal of nativity scene from courthouse

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By Calvin Freiburger

RAVENNA, Ohio, December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Dozens of area Christians gathered over the weekend outside the local courthouse in the Ohio town of Ravenna to protest local politicians’ surrender to activists who demanded a nativity scene be taken down.

Last year the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a group that agitates against benign religious displays on public property, sent Ravenna’s mayor Frank Seman a letter demanding the removal of a wooden nativity scene that had been painted by a local woman, the Record-Courier reports.

“Cities are allowed to celebrate the secular aspects of a holiday, they just can’t put up anything related to the religious message, because it’s a violation of the separation of church and state,” FFRF legal fellow Chris Line claimed.

Seman agreed, but the creator of the nativity says he didn’t notify her of his decision until ten months later. “This battle isn’t about Christianity,” said the woman, who declined to be identified by the Record-Courier. “This is about any and all religions that have the right to display their symbols of their beliefs on public property without any interference by the government.”

The mayor claims he made the decision not because of the letter, but because other local residents suggested allowing the nativity would violate the U.S. Constitution and potentially risk a lawsuit.

“I’ve had all kinds of people telling me ways to get around it,” Semen claimed. “To me, that’s not the spirit of the law. I’m not comfortable putting the city in jeopardy for a lawsuit. I’m not throwing away city money. It’s just that simple.” He added that he’s spoken to at least six property owners who would be willing to host the scene on their properties instead.

But many insist the scene should be returned to the courthouse. Between 40 and 50 members of Bethel Baptist Church in Ravenna gathered outside the courthouse lawn Saturday evening, facing 20-degree weather (-6 degrees Celsius) to picket the display’s removal.

The crowd sang “Amazing Grace” while carrying signs with messages such as “Wise Men Still Seek Him,” “True Love Was Born in a Stable,” and “Bring the Nativity Back to Ravenna.” At least one participant carried his own miniature nativity scene. Bethel pastor David Ballert said the group also demonstrated on December 1, and planned to do it again on December 22.

“I’m here with my people because we care very much about the Lord Jesus Christ, and we just want to further His name,” he explained. “I believe Ravenna is a great town. I believe that a town deserves to have Jesus Christ in it, and we sure would like to be able to take part in getting the nativity scene back to the Ravenna courthouse.”

The Record-Courier notes that the group also waved and wished “Merry Christmas” to people passing by, who returned the favor with friendly responses and car horns of approval.

“Everybody driving by seems to be saying ‘hello’ to us and ‘Merry Christmas,’” Ballert said. “I have no doubt the people are behind what we’re doing here.”

The religious liberty firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has previously noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has already upheld nativity scenes on public property, recognizing an “unbroken history of official acknowledgment by all three branches of government of the role of religion in American life from at least 1789.” Such displays, the Court ruled in 1984, merely take “note of a significant historical religious event long celebrated in the Western World.”

The ruling also pointed out that Christmas is a recognized national holiday, and nativity scenes depict the “historical origins of this traditional event.”

Other Ohio towns have also seen their nativity scenes challenged, the Christian Post reports, with varying responses. FFRF succeeded in getting Dover to move displays of the nativity and Ten Commandments to private property, as well as to agree to paint over a Latin cross in a choir display near city hall.

But Streetsboro Mayor Glenn Broska defied FFRF’s challenge to a nativity at the city square, noting that the town is willing to erect displays for other faiths, as well.

“I posed the question to the law director how we should respond,” Broska explained. “As long as it’s part of a much wider-ranging display, which ours is, we’re okay. We didn’t use any municipal funding for it.”

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Cdl. Pell to appeal jury’s ‘outrageous’ verdict finding him guilty of sexual abuse

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

MELBOURNE, Australia, December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Australian Cardinal George Pell is in the process of appealing a jury’s verdict that found him guilty of sexually abusing choir boys, LifeSiteNews has learned from a source with knowledge of the case. 

A jury had found Pell guilty of charges related to the sexual abuse of two choir boys in his native Australia in the late 1990s, according to the Daily Beast in a story that broke yesterday. 

Two unrevealed sources told the Daily Beast that the verdict followed three days of deliberations. The trial is under a gag order, and no-one can publish details of the case in Australia. The order was granted to prosecutors so as to “prevent a real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice.” 

A trusted Australian source told LifeSiteNews today that Cardinal Pell’s appeal is already underway. The source called the ruling a "terrible injustice" that revealed the jury's "outrageous bias," adding that there was "total astonishment" in the court at the jury's decision. The source said that the jury came to its decision despite the prosecution having only one witness and no other evidence. 

The cardinal has always maintained that he is innocent of any incident of sexual abuse. His friend George Weigel, who has known the cardinal for fifty years, has compared the case to the Salem witch trials. 

Weigel wrote last June that the charges against Pell were no surprise to “those familiar with the fantastic campaign of false allegations of sexual abuse conducted against the cardinal.” 

Pell was subjected to such claims in 2002 and stepped aside as Archbishop of Melbourne during an inquiry into the matter. After examining the case, retired Supreme Court judge Alec Southwell cleared Pell.

Weigel said that the media’s own trial of Pell had created “a thoroughly poisonous public climate” worsened by “poorly sourced but widely disseminated allegations”, a lack of respect for elementary fairness and a “curious relationship between elements of the Australian media and the Victoria police.” One example of this “curious relationship” was the leaking of information by police to the Sydney Morning Herald about their investigation into Pell.

In May 2017, a tell-all book about Pell titled Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell appeared on bookshelves. Weigel called it "a hatchet job riddled with inaccuracies and replete with unfounded allegations."   

George Pell was born in 1941 in Ballarat, Victoria, and gave up a soccer career to become a priest. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1966  and to the episcopate in 1987. In 1996 he was appointed as the Archbishop of Melbourne, and in 2001 he was named the Archbishop of Sydney. 

St. John Paul II elevated Pell to the cardinalate in 2003. After the election of Pope Francis in 2013, he was appointed the first prefect of the newly created Secretariat for the Economy. It was now his task to sort out the finances of the Holy See. His authority was questioned in 2015 by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, a close collaborator of Pope Francis who was allegedly at the homosexual drug-fuelled party raided by the Vatican police in the summer of 2017 at which his secretary, Monsignor Luigi Capozzi, was arrested.

Pell’s work for the Secretariat for the Economy was interrupted by requests to appear before Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and then in June 2017 to answer charges that he himself had sexually abused boys. 

"I'm innocent of these charges,” Pell said at a press conference after this news broke. “They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me." 

Half of the charges against Pell were dropped by early May 2018, but the Cardinal still had to face two trials. According to the Daily Beast, these trials are being called “the cathedral trial”, relating to the cardinal’s alleged abuse of choir boys, and “the swimmers’ trial”, addressing accusations that Pell inappropriately touched boys while playing with them in a public swimming pool. 

The Daily Beast says also that the guilty verdict it reported yesterday was the conclusion of “the cathedral trial.” According to its sources, the original “cathedral trial” was declared a mistrial earlier this year after a hung jury. A retrial began at once and ended this week with the unanimous verdict of guilt. 

 As Archbishop of Melbourne, Pell took action against clerical sexual abuse and cover-up by establishing Australia’s first independent commissioner to handle abuse claims. Subsequently, however, many Australians held that the “Melbourne Response” was too “legalistic” and not supportive enough of victims. Pell’s demeanor towards victims was also criticized.  

News also broke today that Pell has been removed from Pope Francis' Council of Cardinals, called Group of Nine, or C-9.

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Vatican, 164 nations back UN migration pact despite call to restrict ‘intolerant’ media

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By Calvin Freiburger

December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – 164 nations and the Vatican have signed onto an international agreement setting priorities for cooperation on immigration and refugee policy, despite language that hints at restricting freedom of the press, among other controversies.

Inspired by the rising tide of Middle Eastern migrants seeking asylum in Europe since 2015, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration purports to establish a “common understanding, shared responsibilities and unity of purpose” to guide countries’ immigration and asylum policies as well as coordinate international cooperation. Almost 85 percent of the United Nations' member states signed the pact Monday at a U.N. gathering in Marrakesh, Morocco, Global News reports.

One provision causing particular concern among critics is a bullet point under Objective 17 of the pact. It declares an intent to promote “quality reporting of media outlets” by means including “sensitizing and educating media professionals,” “investing in ethical reporting standards and advertising,” and “stopping allocation of public funding or material support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants.” At the end of the paragraph, it claims this would be done “ in full respect for the freedom of the media.”

“I’ve had serious conversations with colleagues about whether the federal government is going to allow me to continue using the term ‘illegal migrants’ in reference to the influx of people at Roxboro Road,” Global News Radio host Danielle Smith wrote about the language last week. “I love the way they throw that last part in — ‘in full respect for the freedom of the media’ — as if the entire paragraph preceding it didn’t just negate the notion of press freedom.”

The pact’s supporters have attempted to quell fears by stressing that it’s not legally binding, and simply expresses values countries should voluntarily work toward. But Pierre d’Argent, a law professor at Belgium’s Université Catholique de Louvain, warned that it could still be used as a tool for activists to push their agenda through the legal system.

“One can imagine that in some cases before international jurisdictions, lawyers use this pact as a reference tool to try to guide them,” d’Argent explained. “But it would simply be the use of this pact as an argument to give a definite meaning to the rules of law. This has already occurred in international or national jurisdictions to refer to instruments that are not legally binding.”

German law professor Matthias Herdegen agreed that the compact was in of a “legal gray area” and, even if not technically binding, would still have an impact by “giv[ing] the impression of [state] liability.”

“One of the things Canadians can be proud of is that we are showing leadership on one of the important issues around the world,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said of making Canada a signatory. “We are demonstrating that rigorous systems and an open policy actually leads to economic growth and economic advantages and stronger communities.” He denied that the agreement would sacrifice Canadian sovereignty.

The pact has received the Vatican's seal of approval as well, with the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin declaring that it “affirms that migration should never be an act of desperation.”

“It is crucial to engage media at every level,” Parolin added. “Considering the essential connection between the Global Compact and the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), the awareness-raising activities should adopt an integrated approach so that migrant issues may be understood as an integral part of the SDGs.”

The Sustainable Development Goals contain pro-abortion language demanding “universal access to sexual and reproductive health.”

Not every nation is on board, however. Breitbart notes that the United States, Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia have all refused to sign it. Brazil's incoming foreign minister Ernesto Araujo announced the country will pull out in January; another seven countries including Israel remain undecided.

Critics also fear the document would force countries to give up their authority to set migrant policies that conflict with international sensibilities, despite many countries facing various societal and economic challenges caused by the sudden influx of large numbers of people without adequate security screening or measures to assimilate them into their new cultures. U.S. President Donald Trump declared last year that such issues “should not be governed by an international body unaccountable to our own citizens.” 

On Friday, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations released a statement on the pact, calling it an effort to “advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of States [...] we cannot support a ‘Compact’ or process that imposes or has the potential to impose international guidelines, standards, expectations, or commitments that might constrain our ability to make decisions in the best interests of our nation and citizens.”

The statement also specifically questioned Objective 17.  

“Calls in the Compact to prevent all instances of intolerance against foreign nationals or to promote certain perspectives for media professionals in how they report on or characterize migrants raise concerns about respect for freedom of opinion and expression and media freedom, core tenets upon which the United States was founded,” it said. “We are also concerned that this language in the Compact could be abused by repressive regimes that seek to limit speech unduly.”

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Quebec doctors now ‘abruptly’ euthanize sick patients as first resort: study

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By Lisa Bourne

December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Sick patients in Quebec are sometimes “abruptly” killed by doctors through the province’s euthanasia program with little or no effort to mitigate or relieve the patient’s suffering through non-lethal medical means, a study in an international medical journal is claiming. 

“Requests for and provision of MAiD [Medical Aid in Dying] as documented in the chart can occur abruptly and without a documented evolution of the goals of care which may imply that requests for MAiD are not treated as having particular moral considerations but merely administrative or legal ones,” the study titled “Situating requests for medical aid in dying within the broader context of end-of-life care: ethical considerations” states. 

“If MAiD is not ethically distinct from other end-of-life practices, then the timing would not appear to add any additional ethical concerns to those already expressed in relation to late discussion of end-of-life care options in general. If, however, MAiD is ethically distinct and should be treated with special consideration, the tendency to avoid, delay or have inadequate conversations about end-of-life care may be especially troubling in the context of their unknown impact on requests for assisted death,” the study added. 

The study was published last month in the Journal of Medical Ethics

A leading bioethicist says the study shows the speciousness of claims by euthanasia advocates that ending a sick person’s life would only be done when nothing else can relieve the suffering.

“Euthanasia advocates are so full of it, promising that snuff medicine will only be a last resort when nothing else can be done to alleviate suffering. It’s never been true,” Wesley J. Smith wrote in a Dec. 10 article in National Review. 

Smith said that once euthanasia is “normalized,” the next logical step is for it to simply become a “banal bureaucratic” process. 

“And what else should we expect?” he asked. “Harnessing the authority of doctors in support of homicide transforms the act into a perceived beneficence, which quickly erodes the perceived intrinsic value of human life.” 

“Over time,” Smith added, “euthanasia practice becomes a banal bureaucratic matter of checking the right boxes or finding ways to maneuver around the ‘protective guidelines’ — now perceived as ‘obstacles,’” he added.

“Humans are a logical species. Once we adopt a principle — here, that killing is an acceptable way to defeat suffering — we take the road wherever it leads,” he concluded. 

Canada legalized euthanasia in 2016, with a reported 2,000 deaths by assisted suicide in the first year, more than were expected. The numbers since have soared with an at least 30-percent increase.

The government has also since pushed euthanasia through advertisements in hospital waiting rooms.

Two Canadian doctors and a bioethicist argued in the September edition of the New England Journal of Medicine for taking of organs from people who have chosen to end their lives through euthanasia while they are still alive. 

This past fall it was reported that the Canadian government is now considering euthanasia for citizens suffering with mental illness, those who wish to produce an advanced directive and euthanasia for children.

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Ian Huntley, 2002.
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Child murderer wants sex change so he can be moved to ‘cushier’ women’s prison

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By Calvin Freiburger

UNITED KINGDOM, December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A 44-year-old man currently serving two life sentences for murdering two ten-year-old girls is requesting a sex-change so he can be transferred to an all-female prison.

According to The Telegraph, Ian Huntley was a caretaker at Soham Village College who lured Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman to his home in August 2002, then killed them and burned their corpses before dumping them in a remote ditch.

Huntley first pretended to aid the search for the missing girls, then during his trial claimed Holly had accidentally drowned in a bathtub and he smothered Jessica to stop her from screaming. Prosecutors rejected the scenario and surmised that his motive for seducing and killing the girls was sexual, based on prior accusations of sexually assaulting schoolgirls. He also impregnated a teenage rape victim with a daughter, who turned eighteen last year.

The killer is currently being held in HMP Frankland in Durham, but now reportedly wants a sex change and a transfer to a women’s prison, the Daily Star reports.

Huntley has obtained eyeliner, demanded that he be addressed as “Nicola,” and requested that pen pals send him women’s clothes and a blonde wig. He reportedly intends to pass psychological tests proving that his desire to “transition” is serious, but the Star’s source indicates the “manipulative and despicable” Huntley has an ulterior motive in mind - greater protection from the attacks and threats he’s received over his crimes.

One of the “most unpopular” inmates at Frankland, the Star says Huntley is considered high risk for attacks, is often relegated to isolated areas, and has even been assigned a personal protection officer. He’s received multiple death threats from fellow inmates, and survived a 2010 attack in which his throat was slashed.

“He joined a Muslim gang in prison for protection but he was forced out after he started claiming that he wanted a sex change,” the source said. “There are now a growing number of trans-prisoners in Frankland and Huntley is desperate to become a member of a group who will offer him a bit of protection.”

But the convict may not have thought his plan all the way through.

“Huntley believes that he will have a much cushier life in a women’s prison. But he is mistaken as he will get a far harder time from female prisoners,” the Star’s source predicted.

There has been growing concern in both the United Kingdom and United States over placing men who claim to be women in female prison populations. A record number of male inmates in England and Wales claim to be female, a subject that’s garnered controversy in no small part due to cases like that of Stephen Wood, who assaulted four female inmates after being housed in a women’s facility because he “identifies” as “Karen White.”

Canada and Scotland have also seen cases of male prisoners claiming “transgender” status in order to secure lighter treatment during their incarceration.

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Mantua Bishop Gianmarco Busca
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Italian bishop seems to approve Communion for some Catholics in adulterous unions

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By Diane Montagna
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The two-page pamphlet is titled: ‘Marriage and Ecclesial Paths of Reconciliation: diocesan directives for a fuller integration of divorced and remarried faithful into the ecclesial community’

ROME, December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The doctrinal dispute over Amoris Laetitia is in the air again this Advent, as one Italian bishop is inviting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to begin an “ecclesial journey” that he says will lead, in some cases, to access to the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist. 

In an Advent letter to the faithful of his diocese, Bishop Gianmarco Busca of the northern Italian diocese of Mantua has said “the faithful who are divorced and remarried, or who live stably in a second relationship, can embark on an ecclesial journey of reconciliation which, in some cases, can lead to the possibility of gaining access to the sacrament of Penance and Eucharistic Communion.”

The city of Mantua is traditionally hailed as the birthplace of the great poet Virgil, who authored the Aeneid and served as Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory in the Divine Comedy.

In his Nov. 30 letter, the Mantuan Bishop adds that “the diocesan guidelines for this journey are contained in a small document that is already available in all parishes.” The new directives (detailed below) avoid the question of whether Holy Communion will be given to couples engaging in sexual relations outside a valid sacramental marriage, and the bishop declined to clarfiy when asked by LifeSite. 

Presenting the Mantuan directives

The new directives are contained in a two-page pamphet, dated Sept. 8, and are titled: ‘Marriage and Ecclesial Paths of Reconciliation: diocesan directives for a fuller integration of divorced and remarried faithful into the ecclesial community.’ 

Bishop Busca presents the new initiative as the fruit of Pope Francis’ 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia (AL).

Appointed by Francis in June 2016, Busca says the Pope “takes a broad view of family pastoral ministry” and “envisages a variety of paths” in Amoris Laetitia. He adds that “the doctrine and tradition on marriage” in AL are “re-read through a ‘pastoral’ lens, that is, with a view to their organic development along the Church’s journey.”

According to the Mantuan bishop, “the ‘novelties’ contained in Amoris Laetitia do not come from a break with tradition and the teaching of the Magisterium.” Nevertheless, he adds, “as the Pope points out, ‘this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it’ (AL n. 3).”

Discernment and mercy

In keeping with Amoris, Bishop Busca tells the faithful of his diocese that the new directives ought to be read in light of the two “key criteria” of “discernment and mercy.” 

Discernment, he said, means considering the experiences of people and couples “on a case-by-case basis.”

“No immediate and general rule is given, which is valid for any cultural context and applicable to every situation, that can relieve us of the duty of carrying out, under the guidance of the Spirit, a prudent and personalized discernment,” he explains.

The Mantuan bishop tells the faithful of his diocese: 

Amoris Laetitia implements the proposal of the 2015 Synod in which the [synod] fathers gave their consent to the assessment, on a case by case basis, by the priest ‘in the internal forum’ (i.e. in dialogue with the conscience of each individual person) about the possibility of admitting to Eucharistic Communion, after Confession, remarried divorcees who are rightly disposed. 

Quoting Pope Francis, and relying on AL’s controversial footnote 351, Busca says:

The Pope agrees, in fact, that “it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace” (n. 301). The criterion of discernment leads us to understand what help the Church can give these faithful to ‘grow in the life of grace and charity’ (n. 305). ‘In certain cases’ — footnote n. 351 specifies — the help could also include ‘the Sacraments.’”

Regarding mercy, Busca continues:

Pope Francis “invites us not to present a ‘far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage,’ with an ‘excessive idealization’ that is ‘far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families’ (n. 36). And he reaffirms that ‘for a long time’ there was an insistence on ‘doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace’ (n. 37).” 

Citing Amoris Laetitia, Busca says the Gospel calls us to avoid “judgments that are ‘unduly harsh or hasty’ (AL n. 308), to act not as ‘arbiters of grace’ but as ‘facilitators’ (AL n. 310) of the encounter between God the Father and his creature who does not exist as an ‘ideal being’ but as a historical, concrete man.” 

Amoris Laetitia, he says, “opens the door to a positive, welcoming pastoral ministry, which makes possible a gradual approach to the demands of the Gospel, taking into account the key criterion of discernment which ‘must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits’ (n. 305).”  

Introducing the new directives 

The introduction to the new directives stresses that Pope Francis “did not want to give a direct and unequivocal response” to those with “problematic family situations from the point of view of the sacraments.” Instead, it says the Pope “wanted to begin a process of detailed reflection within episcopal conferences and the local churches.” The introduction to the directives quotes the following well-known passage from Pope Francis to support its claim:  

Since “time is greater than space”, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. (AL n. 3)

The Mantuan directives point out that “the first to develop a meaningful reflection, and one greatly appreciated by Pope Francis, were “the bishops of the region of Buenos Aires.” 

“Following in their footsteps,” the document adds, “many bishops in Italy” have sought to implement AL Chapter 8, including the bishops of Lombardy who, in April 2018, sent a letter to priests and laity encouraging local churches to “develop diocesan pastoral guidelines and to establish a permanent diocesan service that responds adequately to the demands of discernment.”

The present guidelines, it says, are part of the Church in Mantua’s response to this letter and outline “penitential and formative paths for those who have established a new union, even one civilly recognized, that is characterized by stability and by a desire to walk in the faith.” 

The document specifies that directives are addressed to “couples or individuals who, after celebrating a sacramental marriage, have separated and/or divorced and are civilly remarried” or are “living stably in a second relationship” that places them in an “irreversible situation with respect to the first union,” for example, “through the presence of other children.” 

It adds that “these people, who until now have been excluded from access to the sacraments of Penance and Eucharistic Communion, can develop the desire to participate in the community life in its fullness, including access to these sacraments.”

A four-step plan

The guidelines then outline four steps. In step one, an individual or couple speaks with a priest or layperson of their choosing. “Having listened to and understood the situation and perceived a basic sensitivity to a review of life,” this priest or layperson then invites the individual or couple to contact a priest appointed and prepared by the bishop. A list of 19 priests is provided on the two-page pamphlet.

In step two, the priest has three main tasks. First, he suggests that the individual or couple look into the possibility of obtaining a declaration of nullity for their first marriage. Should an individual begin the annulment process, he or she is still encouraged to pursue the formative penitential path. The directives instruct the priest to inform them to refrain from the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist “until the judgment has been given.” Second, the priest is to “verify and motivate” the individual or couple to “observe their civil duties” and “those deriving from their previous relationship,” such as “educating and being close to all the children.” Lastly, the priest meets personally with the individual to define the “steps and content” of the journey. According to the guidelines, these include “personal and ecclesial prayer, individual, ecclesial and social works of charity; wise and well prepared proposals for a possible and progressive reconciliation with the people with whom the person entered into conflict.” 

In step three, the guidelines say “it is to be hoped that both the priest leading the process and the individual are persuaded that the path has been positive.” The priest then invites the individual to go to his or her parish priest “to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and receive Eucharistic Communion.” 

Should the priest discern that the person should not approach the sacraments, the guidelines stipulate that he can bring the case to the bishop or someone delegated by him “to help clear up the difficulties he sees.”

Finally, in step four, the person who is readmitted to the sacraments is “welcomed by the prayer of the community” but “without any reference to the individual person,” out of respect for their “privacy.” The directives say the priest and community should foster the newly reconciled individual’s growth in charity, but note: “This presupposes that Amoris Laetitia, its spirit and its diocesan application, is presented and widely known in the community through ordinary catechesis.” 

No ministries for now

The guidelines stipulate that a “positive outcome” of the penitential and formative path — i.e. readmittance to the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist – does not “automatically authorize” an individual to carry out particular ministries in the parish. The guidelines explain that this depends on the “visibility” of the ministry, and that “decisions that generate misunderstanding” are to be avoided.

The directives also note that the bishops of Lombardy have decided to hold to “the classic norms” on the “various forms of exclusion of remarried divorcees from service in the liturgical, pastoral, educative and institutional forms of service” until the Italian Bishops’ Conference decides otherwise, and say the diocese of Mantua will do the same.

They therefore reiterate that “divorced and remarried faithful, even when admitted to the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharistic Communion,” are excluded “from ministries that ‘demand a fullness of Christian witness such as the liturgical service of lector, the ministry of catechesis, and the role of godfather and godmother.”

Notable omissions

The Mantuan directives make no mention of the fact that extra-marital relations are adulterous according to the teaching of the Catholic Church. Nor is there any mention of the need to repent of or refrain from sexual relations before being absolved in sacramental Confession and receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. This notable lack of clarity makes it difficult to reconcile the Mantuan directives with the Pope John Paul II’s treatment of the issue in Familiaris Consortio, 84, where he clearly states:   

The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples. [John Paul II, Homily at the Close of the Sixth Synod of Bishops, 7 (Oct. 25, 1980): AAS 72 (1980), 1082]

It is also unclear how the Mantuan directives accord with the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism invites priests and the whole community to encourage divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to participate in the life of the Church through “listening to the Word of God, attending the Sacrifice of the Mass, contributing to works of charity, and bringing up their children in the Christian faith (CCC 1651),” but it makes clear that “reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence” (CCC 1650).

LifeSite contacted Bishop Busca by email with a series of questions about his new directives, including if the “right dispositions” referred to in the guidelines include the need to repent of sexual relations outside of sacramental marriage, and the firm resolve to live in complete continence, as indicated by Pope John Paul II in FC 84.

In response to our request, the Bishop’s communication officer, a priest of the diocese, said he would have to “postpone” answering our questions, but added that the local diocesan newspaper would be publishing a fuller explanation of the directives before the end of the year.

Check back with LifeSite in the coming weeks for an updated report. 

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I’m an ObGyn. I’ve seen first hand how ‘abortion access’ helps men who use women

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ANALYSIS

December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – When California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill requiring the abortion pill to be offered in public university health clinics this last September, State Senator Connie Leyva, who introduced the bill, said, “It’s extremely important to women’s health, it’s extremely important to woman’s choice, and for him, a man, to decide what women can do with their bodies was just very disappointing.” Sen. Leyva plans to re-introduce the bill when Gov. Newsom takes office, according to an article in the Daily Californian.

Sen. Leyva, I’m concerned about a different sort of man who will be delighted by the reintroduction of this bill. The man I’m thinking of will be very pleased to see your bill signed by Gov. Newsom. The man I’m thinking about is the one who uses women.

We all know the kind of man I’m describing, the man who just uses women for sex and escapes the consequences. On behalf of men everywhere, I apologize, we’re not all like that, I assure you. But sadly, some men, conditioned by pornography, and a culture that hyper-sexualizes our youth, do use women and won’t be responsible for caring for her, her pregnancy, or her child.

I know this is true because I’m an ObGyn. I hear women’s stories.

Commenting on a prior abortion, women almost always express remorse, and often add something about why they had that abortion. The boyfriend who pressures, threatens to leave or make her move out seems to have powerful leverage with a young woman’s decision-making. Getting her to take a pill is easier than getting her to have a surgical abortion. With Sen. Leyva’s help, she won’t even have to go to an abortion clinic. He will just walk her across campus and together they’ll ask for that pill. They'll say, 'Whew, that was a close one, but it’s all over now.' As they're about to leave the clinic, he'll ask 'How soon afterward can we have sex?'

Abortion kills human beings, but here in California, many of our legislators don’t seem to consider that. Nor do they seem concerned with the consequences of abortion. Women have died after taking the “extremely safe” abortion pill. Given their no-holds-barred ambition for easy abortion access at any cost, I can only hope they come to their senses in realizing that the only ones the abortion pill helps are the ones who benefit the most from abortion: men who use women. 

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In calling Pope Francis a ‘homophobe,’ Late Night comic condemns all faithful Catholics

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By Doug Mainwaring

NEW YORK, December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A lesbian comedy writer for Late Night with Seth Meyers accused the Pope of being a homophobe for saying that gays should not be priests.  

Observing that early in his papacy, the Pope had been dubbed by the secular press as  “Cool Pope,” comedian Jenny Hagel pointed to a picture of the Pontiff and declared, “Here’s the thing: This guy’s not cool.”

“This guy is homophobic,” said Hagel, adding, “We should all care about this because the Pope is a world leader who is giving people permission to be prejudiced.”

“This dude may seem harmless because he’s shuffling around in a white robe,” said Hagel, “but remember:  White robes are the official uniform of people with bad ideas,” an obvious reference to the Klu Klux Klan (KKK).  

Dissing ALL Catholics and Catholicism

When Hagel pointed at the Pope, she was actually pointing her finger at every single faithful Catholic who embraces and defends Church teaching.  

“Hate speech is hate speech,” said Hagel, “and we need to call it out no matter where we see it.”  

Meyers introduced the segment by identifying Hagel as “both gay and a Catholic,” yet it is unclear what the modifier “Catholic” indicates in Hagel’s case.

The comedian used the short segment to take shots at celibacy and communion and promote homosexual parenting.

Hagel blamed the church for the criticism she received from her family when she “came out,” saying, “They got that idea at church.”

This is “the same Church that thinks it’s a good idea for 300 people to drink out of the same cup,” said Hagel as a communion chalice was displayed. “Gross,” added Hagel, to the delight of her applauding audience. “That’s gross!” she reiterated.  

“When he first became Pope, everyone was like, ‘This guy’s cool.’ He hung out with Leonardo DiCaprio; he said all of our pets are going to heaven; and while other popes have driven around in Mercedes Benzes, Pope Francis drives a Ford Focus, which probably helps with the whole celibacy thing,” added Hagel in a snarky tone.

“I don’t suppose I can blame a gay person who rejects Catholic teaching for being ticked off at the Pope’s upholding it,” wrote Rod Dreher at The American Conservative, “though I can’t recall a late-night comedy show devoting three minutes to a monologue denouncing Francis for the way he’s handled the sex-abuse scandal.”

“This clip shows that the media loves Francis only insofar as he validates what secular liberals hold sacred,” continued Dreher. “He was even celebrated as Person of the Year by a national gay magazine after his ‘Who am I to judge?’ comment.”

“I'm tired of the Catholic hate,” tweeted an observer in response to Jenny Hagel’s posting of her Late Show appearance. “Perhaps if you read the Catechism you would know what the church actually teaches.”

“Also, I expect you to spew the same hate for Islam, Orthodoxy, Mormonism, Judaism for their views on homosexuality,” continued the tweet. “It's not Hate to have different morals.”

Public condemnation of the Catholic Church is not new to Hagel. In 2017, in another Late Show with Seth Meyers episode, the comedian referred to the Vatican as a “gay sex club.”

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Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike

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Did the Vatican just cover-up for Austrian bishop implicated in financial and moral scandal?

Maike Hickson Maike Hickson Follow Maike
By Maike Hickson

AUSTRIA, December 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Monsignor Engelbert Guggenberger, the new administrator of the Diocese of Gurk-Klagenfurt, is in the process of setting straight the economic affairs of the diocese after the departure of Bishop Alois Schwarz who was transferred to the Diocese of St. Pölten, on 1 July 2018. Not only financial, but also moral problems had arisen under his leadership, and Monsignor Guggenberger had wished to publish the findings of a thorough financial audit. However, after Cardinal Schönborn's seeming intervention – he is said not to have wanted the publication of the findings – Rome itself intervened one day before the planned press conference and ordered that the findings be sent, instead, to the Vatican. Guggenberger showed himself to be “somewhat shocked” about this new turn of events.

Different news outlets have reported in the last days once more on the developments in the Diocese of Gurk-Klagenfurt, whose former bishop, Alois Schwarz, was moved to St. Pölten after constant and consistent rumors about his close collaborations with two female employees of his diocese, the divisive role of these two women in the diocese, and some doubtful financial decisions on the part of the bishop.

As a matter of fact, one of the close collaborators of Bishop Schwarz, Andrea E., went with him on trips to Vienna for visits to the opera, and she was largely considered to be much too close to the prelate. (As was the case earlier with another woman, his housekeeper, Eva H., who has now moved with him to his new diocese.) Catholics in Klagenfurt were embarrassed about their bishop who appeared many times in public together with this woman, even though he had been already earlier challenged concerning the propriety of this conduct by one of the most prominent Austrian newspapers, Der Standard. Additionally, Bishop Schwarz is also said to have administered his diocese in irregular ways, namely by disallowing a proper control of financial decisions.

As one Austrian report had it, Schwarz is even accused of covering up for two sexually abusive clergymen.

When Monsignor Guggenberger became the diocesan administrator in the summer of 2018 – after the removal of Bishop Schwarz – he immediately started to straighten out the diocese. One of his first steps was the cancellation of the contract of Andrea E., who had been given by Bishop Schwarz a new contract just before his departure. Another step was to re-set the administrative rules allowing for better control so that they were according to canon law, which had been violated, according to this diocesan administrator. Guggenberger's intention was “to restore lost confidence in the diocesan leadership.” He then also named a commission to investigate the financial situation of the diocese.

Then, on 11 December, Guggenberger had planned to publish the findings of the financial audit, also in order further to promote a transparency that had been lost. As News.at says, there had been many rumors swirling regarding “expensive investments, controversial contracts, and economic irregularities” in the diocese under Schwarz. As the magazine was able to find out, the findings of that audit are “explosive” and even said to be of “criminal relevance.”

As the Austrian magazine News.at reported on 9 December, there had been intense discussions going on within Church circles as to how to handle the findings of the financial audit. Cardinal Christoph Schönborn is said to have put pressure on Monsignor Guggenberger to keep the files secret: “According to accounts received, Cardinal Schönborn – who is also the President of the [Austrian] Bishops' Conference – and the Papal Nuncio, Zurbriggen, are said to have put enormous pressure on the diocesan administrator Guggenberger to deal with the matter inside the Church.” At a meeting with Guggenberger and Bishop Schwarz, Guggenberger is said “to have been unambiguously instructed about the hierarchical order.” “For example,” the magazine continues, he [Guggenberger] is said to have had to wait, together with the chauffeurs, outside of the conference room, while the other clergymen were together inside, conferring about the matter.”

Michael Prüller, Schönborn's press speaker, said that the diocese is free to handle the matter as it wishes and that Schönborn is not the head of the other bishops and thus wishes to be merely the moderator. However, he had asked that Bishop Schwarz be given the opportunity to respond to the findings of the audit. Bishop Schwarz himself has insisted upon his own willingness to cooperate and to enter into a personal dialogue.

As News.at explains, the Diocese of Gurk-Klagenfurt in Carinthia is “by far the richest [diocese] in Austria,” with “several hundred million euro” and many properties and land. Bishop Schwarz was the only one to administer this wealth, and for the last four years, there did not take place a legally required financial audit. According to the magazine, the relevant files have been passed on to the attorney general to determine possible mishandling of funds.  

Then on 10 December Monsignor Guggenberger was ordered by the Congregation for Bishops in Rome not to publish the findings of the financial audit and, instead, he was to send them to Rome – which is according to Canon Law, as the Austrian bishops' news website kathpress.at states. As Austrian media report, both the diocesan priests, as well as the faithful are indignant about this decision from Rome and consider it an obfuscation of “transparency.”

Says Guggenberger himself: “I am somewhat shocked about this procedure, this is of course not a shining hour of transparency.” He sees that the “trustworthiness of the Church in Carinthia has now been further damaged.” “I do my duty here and of course have to follow orders from above and take notice of them,” he added. But he made it clear that the attempt at clearing up this matter of the financial audit and its findings “is being now delayed, for now even stalled.” 

Bishop Schwarz himself thanked the Congregation of Bishops – which is headed by Cardinal Marc Ouellet – that it “has made the decision to demand that the canonically correct path is being chosen.”

In the meantime, Monsignor Guggenberger has continued his path of healing and transparency by replacing the administrative and economical leadership in the diocese, as the Austrian news website Kath.net more fully reports.

Comments under a Kath.net report on this whole ongoing conflict in Klagenfurt go mainly into two directions. Some people are speculating that this conflict is about Guggenheimer's wishing to take “revenge” for past humiliations under Bishop Schwarz and that, in the course of this affair, canon law has been mainly overlooked. The Austrian commentators also point to the fact that he is “merely an administrator” and not himself a bishop. Others, however, see that “Bishop Schwarz perhaps is meant to replace Schönborn in Vienna” – that he is “Schönborn's protege” – and that for that purpose, his reputation has to be preserved. Here, some speak about “cover-up” coming from Rome, as well as from Vienna, and that Rome and Vienna had been informed about the grievous situation in Corinthia for years, without there being any corrective steps taken. 

Finally, another commentator puts this current conflict and Rome's own intervention into the perspective of the current “paradigm shift” in the Church under Pope Francis: “Deja vu. There is a Zeitgeist-pleasing bishop threatened by the revelation of abusive conduct, and Rome immediately comes to his aid and forestalls the truth's coming to light. It does not matter whether it is about (mainly homo-) sexual abuse cases such as those committed by U.S. bishops, or (only?) about financial abuse such as in Austria – what really matters is that the accused persons are otherwise in line with the numerous Roman paradigm shifts and revolutions.”

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