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April 25, 2017

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2017 Rome Life Forum to address ‘tragic errors’ Our Lady of Fatima predicted

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By Claire Chretien

ROME, Italy, April 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Next month, pro-life and pro-family leaders from around the world will gather for two days before the Rome March for Life to strategize on overcoming the crisis in the Catholic Church and international threats to life and family.

"The 2017 Rome Life Forum comes at a critical time in the life of the Church: 100 years after the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima calling for repentance and conversion, and just over a year after the publication of Amoris Laetitia," said John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief and co-founder of LifeSiteNews. "The pro-life and pro-family movement faces increasing persecution inside and outside the Church. Our Lady showed three little children in Portugal a clear path to renewing humanity and saving souls. We must listen to her as disorder reigns in the Church and the world."

"Faithful Catholics must not lose hope despite the rampant confusion coming from the highest levels of the Church," continued Westen. "The Rome Life Forum is an opportunity to share that hope and encourage each other to remain true to the Church’s timeless teachings."

"One hundred years ago, Our Lady warned us of the tragic errors that threatened to ravage the world," Maria Madise of Voice of the Family and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) told LifeSiteNews via email. 

These errors have manifested themselves in various ways, she said.

"Marriage between a man and a woman is the strongest protector of children both born and unborn," said Madise. "The artificial separation of the procreative and unitive ends of marriage is the root of the contraceptive mentality that destroys life through abortifacients, IVF, and other reproductive technologies. Attacks on parents’ rights result in corrupting children through anti-life, anti-family sex education, dehumanizing and desensitizing their minds as young adults and future parents."

The Rome Life Forum "this year focuses on the protection of parental rights, a necessary foundation for defending and rebuilding our Christian civilization," Madise explained. "The imposition of damaging anti-life and anti-family sex education in schools, including Catholic schools, worldwide is bringing many parents to a renewed realization that upholding their rights as primary educators is necessary if they are to bring up their children to lead healthy and virtuous lives."

SPUC, along with Human Life International, LifeSiteNews, Associazione Famiglia Domani (Italy), and Family Life International New Zealand, is a sponsor of the conference. The Rome Life Forum is May 18 and 19, followed by the Rome March for Life on May 20.

Cardinals Raymond Burke and Carlo Caffarra, who both signed the dubia asking Pope Francis for moral clarity on Amoris Laetitia, will speak. So will Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, who is known around the world for his outspoken defense of Catholic orthodoxy. Schneider is one of the strongest critics of various theological errors that have spread throughout the Catholic Church, especially in the wake of Amoris Laetitia.

Duke Paul Von Oldenburg of Federation Pro Europa Cristiana and Italian Professor Roberto de Mattei of the Lepanto Foundation will also speak.

"The attempt to impose so-called 'comprehensive sexuality education' programmes through the United Nations and other international institutions promotes, by its very nature, virtually all other attacks against life and the family, such as contraception, abortion, gender ideology, reproductive technologies, and homosexuality," continued Madise. "Sadly, we are also confronted with language, both direct and ambiguous, from Vatican departments that causes us grave concern. Most notably the Vatican's recent release of its sexuality education programme ‘The Meeting Point’ and the statements made by Vatican representatives concerning the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."

"The Meeting Point" is a sex-ed program the Pontifical Council for the Family released at World Youth Day in 2016. It didn’t mention sexual sin, although it contained sexually explicit images. It also left out parents, which the Catholic Church teaches are to be their children’s primary educators on sexuality.

The Rome Life Forum addresses the connectivity of various bioethics and moral issues, uniquely equipping those present to defeat the entire culture of death.

"There is no more necessary time than now for the pro-life leaders who love the teaching of Christ about marriage, life, and family to gather in the capital of Christendom, show their support for one another, and forge relationships that will carry forward their work on a global scale," said Madise.

The Rome Life Forum is at Hotel Columbus, via Della Conciliazione 33 on May 18 and 19, 2017. Those interested in participating should contact Maria Madise [email protected] for more information. The €120 registration fee includes meals. Participants are responsible for their own travel and accommodations.

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Rep. Jim Jordan receives U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise award. Fr. Mark Hodges / LifeSiteNews
Fr. Mark Hodges


INTERVIEW: Pro-life congressman reveals why he opposed Trump’s healthcare bill

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By Fr. Mark Hodges

LIMA, Ohio, April 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Congressman Jim Jordan is a leading member of the Freedom Caucus, a coalition of conservative Representatives in the U.S. House that President Trump blamed for the failure of his healthcare plan earlier this year.  

Jordan, R-Urbana, held a Chamber of Commerce business update and a local Town Hall on Monday night. He also sat down with LifeSiteNews to explain his perspective on repealing ObamaCare, ensuring abortion is not funded by tax dollars, defunding Planned Parenthood, and the president's threat to work against his and other Freedom Caucus members' re-election in 2018.

LifeSiteNews: Congressman, congratulations on your Spirit of Enterprise award. The Chamber of Commerce said you had a 93 percent voting record favoring business. That's pretty impressive.

Jim Jordan: Thank you. We're doing all we can to support American businesses and grow the economy.

LSN: You were one of the loudest voices for the repeal of ObamaCare. What happened with President Trump and Speaker Ryan's healthcare bill?

Jordan: Some said we should put legislation repealing ObamaCare on President Trump's desk the first day he entered the office. I strongly supported that. We (both houses of Congress) passed complete repeal legislation fifteen months ago, which was vetoed by President Obama. We could have simply submitted that same bill for the president's signature. But that didn't happen.

LSN: So an alternative proposal was made.

Jordan: Yes. Some of it was repeal, some of it was replace. They mixed it all up. Even supporters called it "ObamaCare Lite." We (Freedom Caucus members) wanted something better.

LSN: You and other conservatives were going to vote against the president's healthcare plan.

Jordan: They said it was a 'binary choice ... take it or leave it.' We wanted something much more consistent with what voters want.

LSN: It didn't even come to a vote. But after its failure, President Trump blamed you and other Freedom Caucus members in the House. He even threatened to work against your re-election.

Jordan: Yeah, well, my attitude is tweets and statements don't change facts. The facts are this bill is not where it should be. Our goal is to improve it and make it much more consistent with what we told the voters we were going to do.

LSN: And now, what is the status of ObamaCare repeal?

Jordan: There is a good chance to get healthcare legislation out of the House in the next two weeks. We will work with the President to move forward, not only on healthcare but on other issues.

LSN: One of the concerns of our readers with Trump and Ryan's healthcare alternative was the possibility of using its "savings" accounts for abortion coverage.

Jordan: Yes. There were safeguards put in that proposal to ensure no tax dollars went to abortion services. And in the current proposal, we are making sure the language doesn't allow loopholes for abortion funding.

LSN: Another disappointment for pro-lifers is that under the Trump/Ryan plan, Planned Parenthood would only be defunded for one year.

Jordan: Yeah, that's all this (current) bill does too ... because they're concerned about the 'reconciliation' process (and) senate rules. ... Unfortunately, it's only a year.

LSN: And that's not going to change?

Jordan: No. But we should have gotten rid of Planned Parenthood dollars and defunded them nearly three years ago when the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) videos first came out. Unfortunately, our leaders at the time didn't want to push.

LSN: You were on the oversight committee.

Jordan: Yes. In June, when we had a hearing in the oversight committee, I was pretty aggressive with Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood.   

LSN: What happened?

Jordan: We didn't show the (CMP) videos, because our leadership didn't want to. Those videos were the most compelling evidence we had. They weren't fraudulently edited.  

LSN: The oversight committee didn't view the CMP video evidence against Planned Parenthood?

Jordan: We didn't even show the videos in the hearing prompted by the videos. We should have shown them in the oversight committee: "Look what you guys said; look at what you guys did. This is showing your disgusting and repulsive behavior, and doing it in an organization that receives tax dollars." Unfortunately, we didn't deal with it then, and we've got to deal with it now.  

LSN: What other pro-life gains are you currently working on?

Jordan: We tried to stop the assisted-suicide bill in Washington D.C. with a Resolution of Disapproval. The city council approved assisted suicide, but Congress has jurisdictional authority over D.C. Unfortunately, the leadership wouldn't let us do it. We'll continue to work on that.

LSN: You certainly have been a friend and champion of the pro-life movement.

Jordan: I believe innocent human life is sacred from conception. This informs all that I do in Congress. I call on Republican leadership to keep their commitment to the American people and defund Planned Parenthood through reconciliation.

LSN: And you’ve been a staunch a defender of the family.

Jordan: I oppose the redefinition of marriage, and I support the right of parents to supervise what their children learn and how they are educated.

LSN: Representative, thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

Jordan: Thank you. Please ask your readers to pray for us in the Freedom Caucus, and for all Representatives in the House.

In his Chamber of Commerce update, Jordan praised Trump's pick of Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice. He also stated, "I agree completely with the president's actions in Syria. Something this wrong, this evil, we had to respond to."

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BREAKING: Trump administration is defending Obama’s HHS contraception mandate

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By Claire Chretien

April 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Trump administration's Department of Justice (DOJ) is continuing the Obama administration's court battle with the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious groups over the HHS contraception mandate.

The DOJ asked the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for 60 more days to work with East Texas Baptist University and other religious institutions to find a solution to their religious liberty concerns about cooperating with the provision of contraceptive and life-ending drugs and devices. In June 2016, the Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell ordered the government to do this with the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious employers. 

Instead of dropping the legal battle altogether, for now, the Trump Justice Department is continuing where the Obama administration left off.

It will proceed as the Obama administration was – following the Supreme Court's instruction to continue to work with religious employers to find a way for employees to easily get "free" contraception without forcing religious employers to violate their deeply-held beliefs.

However, thanks to the Supreme Court, the Trump administration is prevented from enforcing the heavy penalties the contraception mandate imposes on non-compliant employers. 

"The new Administration has been in place for only a few months," the DOJ wrote to the Court. "The regulations at issue here are jointly administered by three Departments — the Department of Health & Human Services, the Department of Labor, and the Department of the Treasury— and are the subject of numerous other lawsuits being handled by the Department of Justice. The nominee to be Secretary of Labor has not yet been confirmed, and numerous subcabinet positions at the Departments have not yet been filled. The issues presented by the Supreme Court’s remand order are complex; for example, the original accommodation took more than a year to develop with input from interested parties."

The plaintiffs "have the benefit of the interim relief that the Supreme Court provided in its remand order, which in relevant part stated that 'the Government may not impose taxes or penalties on [plaintiffs] for failure to provide the relevant notice,'" the DOJ noted.

"Hillary Clinton supports forcing The Little Sisters of the Poor who have taken care of the elderly poor since 1839, [to] pay for contraceptives in their healthcare plan (even though they have never wanted them, never used them and never will), and having the government fine them heavily if they continue to refuse to abide by this onerous mandate," Trump wrote to Catholic leaders during his campaign. "That is a hostility to religious liberty you will never see in a Trump administration. ... I will defend your religious liberties and the right to fully and freely practice your religion, as individuals, business owners and academic institutions."

The new Secretary of Health and Human Services, former Georgia Rep. Tom Price, had a 100 percent pro-life voting record in the U.S. House. He has said "there is nothing more fundamental to our humanity than to defend life" and it is our "solemn duty to protect and defend the lives of the most innocent among us."

Price sent a pro-Little Sisters of the Poor amicus brief to the Supreme Court with other members of Congress in January 2016.

"A draft executive order to broaden legal exemptions on the grounds of religious beliefs surfaced during the early days of Mr. Trump’s presidency, triggered a brief controversy, and has never been seen again," the Wall Street Journal noted. "For now, the White House is stalling."

The DOJ's actions "[seem] to be very contrary to what they’ve been saying publicly," Eric Rassbach, an attorney for Becket Law (formerly the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom), told The Washington Post.

The HHS department would not comment and directed LifeSiteNews' request for comment to the DOJ. No pro-life group has issued a statement yet. LifeSiteNews will provide updates as they become available. 

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Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich Lori Solyom / TC Public Relations
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Cardinal Cupich remains silent on ‘LGBT Catholics’ event in his own diocese

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By Claire Chretien

CHICAGO, April 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Next week in the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Catholic bishop of Lexington, Kentucky will speak to a symposium organized by a dissident group condemned by the Vatican and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Chicago's Cardinal Blase Cupich hasn't commented on the event taking place within his archdiocese, nor acted to prevent his fellow bishop from speaking there.

Bishop John Stowe of the Diocese of Lexington is scheduled to speak at New Ways Ministry's 2017 conference, titled "Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis." He's defended his decision to do so, saying "Pope Francis has signaled that we need to take another look at those things."

Defending his scheduled talk for the gay advocacy group, Stowe said Church teaching on homosexuality "was not Jesus’ approach." Catholic doctrine on the issue isn't "immune from ever changing," he said. 

Stowe will offer the conference's opening prayer on Friday, April 28 and morning prayer on Saturday, April 29. The conference includes sessions such as "Lesbian Nuns: Gift to the Church," "Gay Men in Priesthood and Religious Life," and "Transgender & Intersex Identities and the Family." 

According to the Code of Canon Law, "A diocesan bishop can perform pontifical functions in his entire diocese but not outside his own diocese without the express, or at least reasonably presumed, consent of the local ordinary...He is to exercise vigilance so that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline, especially regarding the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and the veneration of the saints, and the administration of goods" (Can. 390 and Can. 392 §2).

The Archdiocese of Chicago didn't respond to LifeSiteNews' requests for comment.

Ironically, it was Cardinal Cupich's predecessor in Chicago who issued the condemnation of New Ways Ministry on behalf of the U.S. Bishops.

Cardinal Francis George, as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in 2010:

I wish to make it clear that, like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of Church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States. Their claim to be Catholic only confuses the faithful regarding the authentic teaching and ministry of the Church with respect to persons with a homosexual inclination.

In 1999, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith permanently banned New Ways Ministry co-founders Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent from any pastoral work involving people who experience same-sex attraction.

The conference schedule lists "Eucharist" as an event for Sunday morning, presumably a Catholic Mass. The day before the conference, pro-abortion Sister Simone Campbell will lead a retreat. One of the questions it aims to ask is, "What spiritual gifts and practices do we need to sustain ourselves as we work for a church that lives the qualities of justice and mercy in regard to LGBT issues?" 

There won't be Mass at the retreat, but there are two time slots reserved for "quiet time for meditation."

Pope Francis made Cupich a cardinal in November 2016. Cupich supports Communion for pro-abortion politicians in defiance of Church law. After the Planned Parenthood baby body parts scandal videos, Cupich said that abortion is just as appalling as unemployment and hunger. 

Responding to the news that the governor of Illinois will veto a pro-abortion law, Cupich said on April 19

I thank him for this principled stand. Abortion is a controversial issue in this country, but using public money to provide abortions should not be. The federal government prohibits the practice, and polls show a substantial segment of the American public reject it. I pray that this divisive issue will be put behind us and our government officials will now concentrate on the many difficult challenges facing Illinois. Most importantly, our political leaders must find a way to cooperate and craft a budget that serves all our people. It is essential that we unite in this effort, and I stand ready to help in any way.

At the 2015 Synod on the Family, Cupich outlined how same-sex couples and the divorced and remarried could receive Holy Communion in accordance with their "consciences."

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Catholic teacher under fire for passing out saint’s criticism of Islam

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By Lisa Bourne
Blessed Trinity Catholic School's website displays a quote from St. John Bosco, whose writings led to a reprimand for its religion teacher.

ORLANDO, Florida, April 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic diocese of Orlando has reprimanded a teacher for distributing writings to students from one of the Church’s saints that were critical of Islam. A representative of the diocese called the teacher’s actions an “unfortunate exhibit of disrespect.”

Mark Smythe, a religion and social studies teacher for Blessed Trinity Catholic School in Ocala, had given students printouts of St. John Bosco’s 1853 text “The Catholic Educated in his Faith.” The document presents information in question and answer format regarding varied Christian and non-Christian faiths.

It refers to Islam as a “monstrous mixture” of faiths and also says Muhammad’s doctrines are “ridiculous, immoral and corrupting.” 

The Huffington Post reported on the diocese’s reprimand of Smythe last week, including a statement from the Diocese of Orlando’s associate superintendent of schools.

“We have spoken to the principal of Blessed Trinity Catholic School, Ocala and to the teacher in question and have reprimanded the teacher for this unfortunate exhibit of disrespect,” Jacquelyn Flanigan said in the statement.

LifeSiteNews did not hear back from the Diocese of Orlando on a request for a copy of the statement or whether the diocese had any additional comment.

The text is consistently critical of Muhammad and Islam, saying in one instance that “Muhammad propagated his religion, not through miracles or persuasive words, but by military force.”

Debate continues around Christian and Catholic relations with Islam against the backdrop of a rise in Islamic terrorism in recent years.

The Catholic religion teacher’s reprimand comes as Pope Francis is set to visit Egypt later this week. Pope Francis released a video message to the people of Egypt on Tuesday morning saying the “world needs peace, love and mercy.”

The pope called his impending visit “a message of friendship and respect for all the inhabitants of Egypt and the region, and a message of brotherhood and reconciliation with all the children of Abraham, particularly the Muslim world, in which Egypt holds so important a place.”

The St. John Bosco text says as well “Muhammad degrades and dishonours human nature and by placing all happiness in sensual pleasures, reduces man to the level of filthy animals.”

The document states that “the difference is very great” between the Catholic Church and the faith established by Mohamed.

It continues:

“Muhammad established his religion with violence and arms; Jesus Christ established His Church with words of peace using His poor disciples. Muhammad incited the passions; Jesus Christ commanded the denial of self.”

St. John Bosco lived from 1815 to 1888. His vocation to the priesthood was based upon a dream he had at an early age that inspired him to save young men through their sanctification. He is known for his work with youth, combining catechetical instruction with fatherly guidance, seeking to connect the spiritual life with an individual’s work, study, and play.

The material distributed in Smythe’s sixth-grade Religion class made its way to The Huffington Post via the ProPublica “Documenting Hate” project.

Established in the wake of President Trump’s November 2016 election victory over Hillary Clinton, the project endeavors to create “a database of reported hate crimes and bias incidents."

Composed of various media organizations and left-leaning and/or homosexual advocacy groups, the project aims media attention on “hate incidents.”

Flanigan cited the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate to tell The Huffington Post “the information provided in the sixth grade class is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.” 

The Vatican II document in part “urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.”

Dr. Stephen Kirby, author of several books and articles about Islam, told LifeSiteNews that St. John Bosco’s account of Islam was not inaccurate.

Muhammad’s promise of 72 virgins to the jihadist who dies fighting in the Cause of Allah is classic example of Muhammad’s emphasis on sensual pleasures, he said.

In terms of paradise, Kirby said, according to Muhammad and verses in the Koran, Islamic paradise consists of sensual pleasures for Muslim men, with ever-virgin maidens (Houris) and immortal boys of “everlasting youth” serving the men.

“Muhammad did spread Islam by the use of military force,” Kirby stated further.

“Starting in the eighth century, authoritative Muslim scholars have been writing histories and biographies of Muhammad that are explicit in showing that Muhammad spread Islam at the point of the sword,” he continued. “It was ‘convert or die’ at that time for most of the tribes on the Arabian Peninsula.”

Kirby also addressed the statement made in the material that Muhammad was a “false prophet.”

“This claim was made by others,” he said.  

For example, George Sale, the translator of the “Jefferson’s Koran” — the copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson and used in 2007 by Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, for his oath of office — wrote in the book’s introduction that the Koran was a “forgery.”

Sale wrote as well that Muhammad had imposed “a false religion on mankind,” Kirby noted, “along with many other negative comments about Islam and Muhammad.”

“One might quibble around the edges with what St. John Bosco wrote,” Kirby told LifeSiteNews, “but he was accurate with his essential description of Islam.”

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Church is ‘gravely mistaken’ if refugee crisis is her primary mission: Cardinal Sarah

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By Pete Baklinski

April 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Church would ignore the "real crisis" she faces today if she focuses on social justice issues rather than her basic mission to evangelize, Cardinal Robert Sarah warns in a newly-published interview.

“The Church is gravely mistaken as to the nature of the real crisis if she thinks that her essential mission is to offer solutions to all the political problems relating to justice, peace, poverty, the reception of migrants, etc. while neglecting evangelisation,” the cardinal told Aid to the Church in Need on April 18.

Sarah, who is the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said that while the Church “cannot disassociate herself from the human problems,” she will ultimately “fail in her mission” if she forgets her real purpose. 

The cardinal quoted Yahya Pallavicini, an Italian and former Catholic who converted to Islam, to drive home his point: “If the Church, with the obsession she has today with the values of justice, social rights and the struggle against poverty, ends up as a result by forgetting her contemplative soul, she will fail in her mission and she will be abandoned by a great many of her faithful, owing to the fact that they will no longer recognize in her what constitutes her specific mission.”

The Church’s mission is summed by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel when he sent his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” This mission, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, means “proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God.”

Sarah’s remarks are interesting given the emphasis Pope Francis has placed on the Church working with migrants and refugees. In his addresses to world leaders, Pope Francis frequently highlights political problems, such as migration, with little mention of Christ or the Church's evangelical call.

The Pope’s emphasis on building bridges not walls, on calling migrants “not a danger,” and on calling hospitality to refugees “our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism” has prompted some bishops’ conferences to shift their priorities. 

The U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops, for instance, was pressed by Francis appointees to rewrite its 2016 election guidelines with an emphasis on immigration, poverty, and the environment while downplaying life and family. 

Bishop Robert McElroy, appointed as head of the Diocese of San Diego by Pope Francis, argued at that time that the guide’s emphasis on the evil of abortion was out of step with Francis’ priorities.

“Pope Francis has, in certain aspects of the social doctrine of the Church, radically transformed the prioritization of Catholic social teaching and its elements,” McElroy urged the assembly at that time. “Not the truth of them, not the substance of them, but the prioritization of them, has radically transformed that, in articulating the claims that fall upon the citizen as believer and disciple of Jesus Christ,” he added.

McElroy called  “immigration” the “key [issue] we have to face now in our local church,” in a speech he gave in February to the World Meeting of Popular Movements. 

In his interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Cardinal Sarah criticized charitable organizations, specifically mentioning “Catholic ones,” that focus “unilaterally and exclusively on addressing situations of material poverty” while neglecting spiritual poverty. 

“But ‘man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”, as Jesus tells us,” the cardinal said. 

Sarah said that those who work to make the world more just, mentioning especially priests and bishops, must continually draw strength from God if their work is to bear lasting fruit. 

“For it is true that those bishops and priests who do not take the time – at least for a few days – to place themselves in the presence of God in solitude, silence and prayer, risk dying on the spiritual level, or at the very least, drying out spiritually within,” he said.

“For they will no longer be capable of providing solid spiritual nourishment to the faithful entrusted to them if they themselves do not draw strength from the Lord in a regular and constant manner,” he added. 

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UK Bishop urges Christians to ‘rise up’ against secular totalitarians: ‘Enough is enough!’

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By Pete Baklinski

PORTSMOUTH, England, April 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — UK Catholic bishop Philip Egan is calling upon faithful Catholics to "rise up" and fight back against “dangerous ideologies” threatening the “Christian patrimony” that made England great. He is asking them to reclaim their Christian heritage and to make sure that the heritage is passed onto their children in state schools. 

“We need to rise up to the challenge. We need to roll back the agenda. We need to revive and celebrate our Christian history, art and architecture, music and literature, liturgy and ethics,” he said during his homily delivered during the Easter Vigil Mass on April 15. 

“We need to promote in state schools a renewed knowledge of the Bible, of basic prayers, and basic Christmas carols, of the history of the Church, and of the saints who established and fashioned the character of these islands,” he added.

“In this mission, we Christians are crucial. We Catholics are crucial. Because much of what has made this country great has been nurtured by our tradition. We need by prayer, word, and deed to lead the new evangelization of our land,” he urged. 

Egan said the “two dangerous ideologies” of “fundamentalism” and “secularism” are battling for supremacy in this day, just as “Communism and Fascism” fought each other in the 20th century.

“On the one side is fundamentalism, religion without reason. It breeds fanaticism, violence, terrorism, to cause disruption and to force upon others its extremist views. This is a tragic reality in the volatile nations of the Middle East. It now threatens the west also,” he said. 

“On the other side is secularism, reason without religion. Its champions seek to privatize religion, driving it out of the public domain. Egged on by Stonewall [a homosexual activist group] and by others, secularists are on the rise in local government, in education, in the media, in the social services, in the BMA, in the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, in the European Court of Justice, and in many other institutions too,” he added. 

The bishop said secularists are “hellbent on burying the Christian patrimony of this land,” proposing “Orwellian changes to our language” and placing “ever more draconian restrictions on religious expression, even on what we wear.”

“Both fundamentalism and secularism are extremes. They are totalitarian. They are destructive of the human person. They pose a grave threat to human happiness and to a healthy society,” he said. 

Egan emphasized the dangers of secularism to the nation by quoting from an address given by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 when he visited the UK’s Houses of Parliament. 

“[Benedict] argued that religion and reason, together in fruitful dialogue, both are needed to ground a truly free, pluralist, and democratic society, a home for all. Otherwise, if we let secularism prevail, British culture will become increasingly unhinged, adrift, prey to emotionalism and to the latest pressure group,” he said.

“As we know, this is now having lethal consequences for the weakest, for the unborn child, for the handicapped, the elderly, the dying,” he added. 

Bishop Egan said Christians this Easter need to rise up and say “enough is enough.”

The bishop is known as a faithful witness to Catholic moral and social teachings, especially those involving life, marriage, and family. 

In 2015, he issued guidelines for parishes giving to charities, teaching that the charities must not oppose Church teaching, giving as an example a charity that is connected to the “grave moral evil” of promoting contraception and abortion. 

In 2014, he said before the Vatican’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops that Catholic teaching on marriage cannot simply change because “progressively-minded Catholics” want it to. 

In 2013, the bishop criticized a bill giving homosexuals the right to “marry.” He called “gay marriage” the logical and “inevitable outcome of a process that has been gathering pace since the sexual revolutions of the 1960s.”

Last year, Bishop Egan visited all 76 Catholic schools in his diocese, urging them to “create an authentic Christian ethos.” He proposed that the curriculum focus exclusively on Christ, that the schools emphasize daily prayer, and that they seek to foster vocations to the Christian teaching profession.


Relevant portion of Bishop Philip Egan's Easter Vigil homily, April 15, 2017

In our world, two dangerous ideologies are mounting. Just as in the 20th century it was Communism versus Fascism, so in the 21st a new battle is brewing. 

On the one side is fundamentalism, religion without reason. It breeds fanaticism, violence, terrorism, to cause disruption and to force upon others its extremist views. This is a tragic reality in the volatile nations of the Middle East. It now threatens the West also. 

On the other side is secularism, reason without religion. Its champions seek to privatize religion, driving it out of the public domain. Egged on by Stonewall [a homosexual activist group] and by others, secularists are on the rise in local government, in education, in the media, in the social services, in the BMA, in the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, in the European Court of Justice, and in many other institutions too.

Hell-bent on burying the Christian patrimony of this land, they propose Orwellian changes to our language and place ever more draconian restrictions on religious expression, even on what we wear. Both fundamentalism and secularism are extremes. They are totalitarian. They are destructive of the human person. They pose a grave threat to human happiness and to a healthy society. 

Now, during the papal visit in 2010, Pope Benedict gave an address to the Houses of Parliament in which he argued that religion and reason, together in fruitful dialogue, both are needed to ground a truly free, pluralist, and democratic society, a home for all. Otherwise, if we let secularism prevail, British culture will become increasingly unhinged, adrift, prey to emotionalism and to the latest pressure group. 

As we know, this is now having lethal consequences for the weakest, for the unborn child, for the handicapped, the elderly, the dying. 

This is why this Easter, as Christians, it's time we said, ‘enough is enough!’ 

We need to rise up to the challenge. We need to roll back the agenda. We need to revive and celebrate our Christian history, art and architecture, music and literature, liturgy and ethics. 

We need to promote in state schools a renewed knowledge of the Bible, of basic prayers, and basic Christmas carols, of the history of the Church, and of the saints who established and fashioned the character of these islands. 

In this mission, we Christians are crucial. We Catholics are crucial. Because much of what has made this country great has been nurtured by our tradition. We need by prayer, word, and deed to lead the new evangelization of our land.

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Heath Mello is a Democratic candidate for mayor in Omaha, Nebraska.
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Democrat chief: Abortion is ‘not negotiable,’ all Democrats must support it

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By Claire Chretien

April 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – An internal fight is occurring within the Democratic party after its new chair said it's "not negotiable" that its candidates must support abortion on demand.

It started with former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, campaigning for Heath Mello in his bid for mayor of Omaha, Nebraska. The DNC also endorsed Mello.

The problem? As a Nebraska legislator in 2009, Mello was a co-sponsor of a bill to allow women the option of viewing an ultrasound before having an abortion.

There's actually not that much debate about abortion within the Democratic party, Sanders told CBS as he defended supporting Mello. 

"I have a 100 percent lifetime pro-choice voting record" and most Democrats are pro-abortion, he said. 

"If you have a rally in which you have the labor movement and environmentalists and Native Americans and the African-American community and the Latino community coming together saying, 'We want this guy to become our next mayor,' should I reject going there to Omaha?" Sanders asked. "I don't think so. It was a great rally, and I hope very much he wins."

Mello's opponent "is also of course anti-choice and she is inviting Scott Walker, one of the most reactionary anti-choice governors" to "campaign for her," Sanders complained.

Sanders said the "model of the Democrat party is failing." He said it must become a "grassroots" party that makes decisions from the bottom up.

Mello says his Catholic faith "guides my personal views," but he "would never do anything to restrict access to reproductive health care" as mayor.

The pro-abortion group NARAL slammed Sanders and the DNC for their "politically stupid" backing of Mello. NARAL President Ilyse Hogue told The New York Times that abortion supporters are Democrats' "most active political base" and supporting Mello sent the message that "we’re just negotiable political property."

At first, new DNC chair Tom Perez defended the DNC's decision to back a candidate who's not completely pro-abortion on demand. 

Then, Perez released a statement asserting, "Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state."

"I fundamentally disagree with Heath Mello’s personal beliefs about women’s reproductive health," said Perez. "It is a promising step that Mello now shares the Democratic Party’s position on women’s fundamental rights. Every candidate who runs as a Democrat should do the same because every woman should be able to make her own health choices. Period."

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, said it's acceptable for Democrats to be personally against abortion as long as they don't actually act on that belief publicly.

"I am committed to women's rights under the law – reproductive rights, certainly," Durbin said on CNN. "And our party is. We've made that part of our platform and position for a long, long time.

"I know within the ranks of the Democratic party there are those who see that differently on a personal basis. But when it comes to the policy position, I think we need to be clear and unequivocal. We need to be understanding of those who take a different position because of personal conscience, but as long as they are prepared to back the law, Roe v. Wade, prepared to back women's rights as we've defined them under the law, then I think they can be part of the party."

"What should unify the Democratic party?" NBC's Chuck Todd asked Senate Minority leader Sen. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA. "Can you be a Democrat and [have] the support of the Democratic party if you're pro-life?"

"Of course," said Pelosi. "I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive, my family would say 'aggressive,' position on promoting a woman’s right to choose. But what you asked ... was about what unifies Democrats. ... Our values unify us. We are unified with our commitment to America’s working families about job creation, about budget policies that invest in the future, good-paying jobs. And that's what we'd like to see a debate on."

This is a curious statement coming from Pelosi, who frequently trashes people opposed to abortion and says her pro-abortion views are acceptable for a Catholic to hold.

"There is an enormous disconnect between Democrat and Independent rank and file voters and national leaders like DNC Chairman Tom Perez and Senator Dick Durbin on the issue of abortion," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. "As they push their party more and more to the extreme on abortion, the GOP benefits at the polls. Never has it been so clear: on abortion, there is no room for dissent or exceptions among Democrats, only support for the party’s radical platform which calls for abortion on demand up until the moment of birth, paid for by taxpayer dollars."

"No wonder there are so few pro-life Democrats left advancing past the state legislature these days," said Dannenfelser. "Perez and Durbin won’t even allow a mayoral candidate to be pro-life. It is no surprise Heath Mello of Omaha has already walked back his pro-life position. ... NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of the left’s most extreme pro-abortion groups, called Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Mello ‘politically stupid,’ yet last election revealed their own unbending agenda to be so."

SBA List noted that in the 20 states that have passed a limit on abortion after five months, 277 Democratic legislators – 27 percent – have voted in support of the legislation. 

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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent


Lay Catholics warn of ‘great confusion’ in Church at Rome conference

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

ROME, Italy, April 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — “Only a blind man can deny that there is great confusion in the Church.”

With this comment from Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, one of the four cardinals who signed the dubia regarding Amoris laetitia, Riccardo Cascioli of La Bussola Quotidiana opened a convention last Saturday at the foot of the Vatican, just a few hundred meters down the Via della Conciliazione.

Some would call it provocative. But in calling for “clarity” regarding the Apostolic Exhortation one year later, the organizers created an occasion where learned lay people could voice the grave concerns of many ordinary Catholics.

It was a case of begging for bread from the highest authority in the Church and of explaining why. The “bread,” or clarification, is not forthcoming. But many points were made. The voice of reason and thoughtful analysis cannot be a provocation. The absence of a response is all the more disturbing.

One main impression was made: Amoris laetitia is ambiguous and confusing, deliberately so, and it urgently needs to be clarified before more damage is done.

More than 100 lay people from many countries came to two conference rooms at the Hotel Columbus at the invitation of La Bussola Quotidiana, but few priests were there. It was clearly an event for the laity, but this is perhaps an indication the public questioning of Amoris laetitia and therefore of the precise authority that Pope Francis has brought to the text is seen as risky by the clergy.

Entry was free and many media were present, including Italian national TV broadcaster RAI 3, making clear that in Italy at least a meeting of Catholics who claim fidelity to Rome and the traditional teachings of the Church is big news.

“Our objective is to recall our pastors to their duty,” Cascioli said. “Ours is not an act of rebellion, nor an ultimatum, nor a threat of schism. We are only asking for clarity to be made and manifest. We have never called the Pope’s authority into question.”

On the contrary, it is indeed the Pope who can ultimately resolve the crisis caused by Amoris laetitia.

In the same way, French Catholic lay thinker Jean Madiran in 1972 addressed a public “Appeal to the Holy Father” – then Paul VI – respectfully beseeching him to “Give us back the Catechism, Sacred Scripture and the Mass.” In 2007, Pope Benedict did just that with the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Madiran lived to see his plea fulfilled, after 35 years of grassroots action to save the traditional liturgy in the Latin rite. He saw Pope Benedict’s rehabilitation of the traditional Mass as the indispensable act to restore order in the Church. The Church’s time is not our time, but lay people have their role to play.

Six speakers came to Rome last Saturday from every corner of the world to make clear ordinary Catholics’ love of the Church, the truth she must teach and the responsibility it has toward the sacraments that Our Lord entrusted to her.

German philosopher and sociologist Jurgen Liminski spoke from a naturalistic point of view to make clear that indissoluble marriage conforms to man’s nature and to human beings’ own good. That is the first step: to show that “in all human societies since the time of Herodotus, the conjugal principle constitutes the axis of communal life,” a principle that “Christianity has inflamed and insufflates with a soul,” because “marriage was in a way co-created with Man” (Pope Benedict XVI).

Since recorded history began, and it involves 4,000 to 5,000 societies about which we have at least some to a great deal of information, Liminski insisted, the conjugal family, as characterized by monogamous marriage where the young newlyweds live apart from their respective parents, is the most frequent model.

Christianity was to add the equal dignity of spouses in marriage, and to fully develop the understanding of “conjugal friendship” where the spouse is “in a way the sacrament personified.” Taken in conjunction with duties to the children of the marriage and the good of the children, all things that are so beneficial to society as a whole, one understands that undermining this institution is tragic for human society as a whole.

Liminski left his audience with this fascinating statistic: According to an American study, “Among couples who are religiously married and who also pray together, only one marriage out of 1,429 breaks down.”

This is the good that should not be neglected or minimized. It is also an answer to the crisis of divorce.

Claudio Pierantoni, a doctor of philosophy and professor of Church history and patristics of Roman origin who teaches mediaeval philosophy in Chile, followed with a reminder that in the history of the Popes, there have been examples of favoring heresy or even of professing heresy.

In the case of Honorius in the first half of the 7th century, he insufficiently clarified the position of the Church as to the two wills of Jesus Christ corresponding to his dual divine and human nature in one Person. Pope Leo II was to condemn Pope Honorius’ answer to the outright heretical letter on the matter of the Patriarch of Constantinople Sergius in 681, accusing his predecessor of not having “illuminated that apostolic Church with the doctrine of the apostolic Tradition, instead trying to subvert the immaculate faith with profane treachery.”

This shows that Popes are obliged with regard to the unity and the coherence of Church teachings to respect the Tradition as received from the Apostles, the definitions of the Councils and the witness of the Fathers, all of which can and must be taken into account to value the pronouncements of Pope Honorius in this case and of popes in general. This clearly indicates that a Pope is not certainly infallible in his ordinary teachings, one might add, and that his negligence in professing the true faith can be condemned.

Dr. Pierantoni also evoked the case of Pope Liberius, elected in 352, and the well-known Arian heresy, which he resisted courageously before caving in to deadly threats by the Oriental Emperor Constantine. At that point, only three bishops openly opposed the heresy concerning Christ’s divine nature as Son of God, “consubstantial” to the Father; and they were exiled.

Interestingly, Liberius was to reaffirm the true faith shortly before his death when Julian the Apostate’s opposition to the Church as such put an end to the Oriental emperor’s attempts to modify her doctrine. The affair shows that the Pope can err – dare we add, even with the approval of the “synodality” of so many of his bishops?

Pierantoni added, however, that their case was different from today’s because their heresy or favoring of heresy came at a time when the doctrine was being disputed and subsequently fixed and defined. Having shown that the question of allowing the divorced and civilly remarried to receive Communion is not a simple point of sacramental discipline but affects the “whole edifice of Church doctrine.” Introducing one “incoherent or erroneous element” because it exists as a whole in which all elements are interconnected.

He called the present process one of “destruction.” First, because creating an exception to the rule of refusing Communion to the validly married who enter into a new union cannot be done without negating the very “nature of the sacrament of matrimony which is not a simple promise before God but an action of grace that acts at an ontological level.” “The action that makes out of two, one flesh, therefore has a definitive character and cannot be cancelled,” the more so because it symbolizes the union of Christ the Bridegroom with His Church, as “a sign but also a reality.”

Second, Amoris laetitia uses a “subjective” approach that suggests that the divorced and remarried can remain ignorant of the gravity of their situation, as if proper “discernment” would not lift this subjective and excusing ignorance. The Exhortation uses this element that can in fact diminish responsibility to arrive to an absurd conclusion: “That the subject would be able to firmly establish that God wants from him a behavior that is objectively contrary to His own law, that law that emanated from His eternal and infallible Wisdom.”

Third – to the amusement of the audience – Pierantoni showed that the very notion of Divine Law is contradicted by creating exceptions. You can break a speed limit because of an emergency because that rule is just, but not absolute, but you cannot put diesel in a benzene car because “no emergency or exception, nor any discernment will make that the car designed to run on benzene can function with diesel.” Filling it with diesel is not bad because it is “prohibited by some external law but because it is intrinsically irrational, because it contradicts the very nature of the car,” he said.

It is that sort of “grave confusion” that resides in Amoris laetitia’s eighth chapter, confirmed by “repeated attacks against the Pharisees and the hypocrites who invoke the law,” where Christ Himself distinguished between “positive,” manmade laws and precepts and “the fundamental Commandments.”

Finally, Pierantoni showed that “subjectivism” is the most profound point at issue, insofar as it resides in a “subjectivist or immanentist gnoseology.”

"If the object of the human mind is not based, ultimately, on the transcendent Truth that illuminates it, (…) then the mind cannot truly know things and its concepts are an empty form that cannot reflect reality,” he said.

“Pope Francis likes to say that ‘reality is superior to ideas’ – this is only meaningful in a vision where true ideas cannot exist, ideas that not only faithfully reflect reality but can judge and guide it.” If the Verb of God is eternal wisdom, then that wisdom is “a model that is superior to historical reality” and can give it its law. “The Gospel, taken in its whole, supposes a metaphysical and gnoseological structure where Truth is in the first place the adjustment of things to the intellect, and where intellect is in the first place the divine one: precisely, the Divine Word.”

In this light, the dubia of the cardinals are above all affirmations of a Truth that is already known, explained Pr Pierantoni. They put Pope Francis in a very difficult position. Either he must respond by contradicting them and thus “denying the Tradition and the Magisterium of his predecessors, becoming formally a heretic, and that he cannot do,” or “if he responded in harmony with the preceding Magisterium, he would contradict a large part of the relevant doctrinal actions of his pontificate, and that would be a very difficult choice,” said Pierantoni.

“He therefore chose silence because, humanly speaking, the situation can appear to have no way out. But meanwhile, confusion and a de facto schism are extending within the Church," he added, concluding his conference with a passionate appeal for a formal “correction” of the Pope to be made.

In the afternoon, the participants at the Rome convention heard the crystal clear critiques of Amoris laetitia by French philosophy professor Thibaud Collin and Australian patristics university professor Anna M. Silvas.

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Irish diocese canceled all Masses today for ‘lay-led’ liturgies

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By Claire Chretien

LIMERICK, Ireland, April 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Every parish in the Catholic Diocese of Limerick will have a "lay-led liturgy" instead of Mass today, meaning the only daily Masses will be in the Extraordinary Form at a community run by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. 

Limerick Bishop Brendan Leahy sent a letter to all parishes to be read during Masses on April 22 and 23 instructing every parish in his diocese to "host a lay-led liturgy of the Word" instead of Mass on Tuesday. Diocescan priests "will be away on important in-service formation," Leahy wrote.

Canon Wulfran Lebocq, Prior of the Institute of Christ the King's Ireland Apostolate, confirmed to LifeSiteNews that there will be two Extraordinary Form Masses on April 25, "but we are not a parish, only a community [residence] on a parish territory."

The Traditional Latin Masses of the apostolate are at 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

"In promoting this initiative of lay-led public prayer, I am conscious that our Diocesan Synod strongly encouraged formation in lay-led liturgies," the bishop wrote. "As we move forward, we need to prepare for a time when, even though priests are not available, each local community will be prepared to arrange for moments of public prayer for various occasions. No parish should find itself deprived or ill prepared for public layled prayers."

"I have specifically asked that the lay-led liturgy not include distribution of communion," continued Leahy. "I’m not saying we might never have such, especially on Sundays, in the future, but on this occasion I feel it is appropriate for a number of reasons."

These reasons include the norm around the world that when the Liturgy of the Word is prayed by lay people alone, Holy Communion usually isn't distributed. Leahy wrote that he didn't want to damage the "Catholic appreciation of the a celebration and an action of the community gathered around the priest who sacramentally represents Christ." 

Leahy also noted that there are various prayers of the Church, like the Divine Office and the Rosary, that don't include Holy Communion. 

"Change is never easy," wrote Leahy. "However, I’m sure this experience will actually deepen our awareness of the gifts the Church has to offer." The "new challenges facing us" require "us to be creative in finding new ways to be a Christian community and we must avoid the temptation to pretend that things can continue as they have been."

Tuesday's lack of Mass is "directly related to the fall-off in priestly vocations," the Irish Times reported, and there are no priests under 40 in the Diocese of Limerick. Only 10 are under 50.

The parishioners leading the liturgies have "attended formation and are using agreed diocesan resources," the bishop wrote. The diocescan website features a document of "final resources for April 25" that contains the readings for the day and a fill-in-the-blank section for the faithful's prayer petitions. 

"At our synod the people of this diocese asked that every parish would support and develop local leadership, to lead public prayers and liturgies, so that every parish can say with confidence, 'When we needed to gather together and pray, we were able to,'" a page on the Diocese of Limerick's website explains. "Every parish will now have a clear group who offer a Ministry of Public Prayer, including liturgy when a priest cannot celebrate weekday Mass in the parish – but each parish group will be different, according to the resources and needs of the parish itself."

"Parishes have been asked to offer a Liturgy of the Word, in which we are nourished at the Table of the Word," it continues. This "one day event" is "part of our on-going commitment to support good liturgy in strong local faith communities." 

At the beginning of the liturgy, whoever is leading it "moves to a suitable place in the Sanctuary so that s/he is able to lead the liturgy effectively," according to prayer cards delivered to parishes.

Allowing women in the sanctuary has become common practice in the last forty or fifty years, though it is a recent development. My Catholic Faith, a 1941 version of the Baltimore catechism, reminds the faithful that women and girls "are not permitted to enter the sanctuary." Critics of the practice say it damages an understanding of the nature of the priesthood. 

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We had 100 reasons why we could’ve chosen abortion, but my boyfriend and I chose life


April 25, 2017 (SavetheStorks) -- The gynecologist put her hand on mine as she told me I was pregnant. I was in shock. I couldn’t have a baby right now with everything that was happening in my life—large work commitments, a possible wedding in the future, and my mom’s health. I could think of a hundred more reasons why a baby just wouldn’t work.

My boyfriend, Dan, and I were both raised in very religious families. While our parents were loving and supportive, we knew no one would be happy about a baby coming before the marriage ceremony. We were taught to do things the “right” way and we knew this didn’t fit that mold. Until this point, I fit the role of “perfect daughter” and “perfect Christian.”

Being pregnant would mean that everyone would know who I really am.

I made an appointment at an abortion clinic outside of town—I couldn’t risk the chance of running into someone who knew my family. Dan came to the appointment with me, but made it clear that he didn’t support my decision. However, he loved me and wanted a future with me, so he was willing to put aside his own feelings and beliefs on the subject.

After all, it was my decision and my body. Right?

When we arrived at the clinic, we saw groups of people on the sidewalk holding signs. One sign in particular stood out. It said, “If You Believe, Leave.” It had a large cross on it. I did “believe,” so what was I doing here?

I wanted to turn around right then, but all I could think of was the shame and embarrassment that would come with being pregnant. I knew abortion was wrong, but it was a wrong that I could hide.

We parked and walked toward the clinic. Dan gripped my hand and reminded me that we didn’t need to go in. I just kept walking.

As I filled out paperwork in the office, I began to cry. Was I making the right decision? When my name was called I started to feel like I couldn’t breath. I got up, but instead of going down the clinic hallway, I walked right outside. Dan followed me. I was so confused. Through tears I told him that I didn’t think I could go through with the abortion, but that I also couldn’t go through with the shame of a pregnancy. It felt like I had no options.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

At that moment, I looked up and saw a beautiful purple bus with images of flying birds covering the sides. In bold letters it said, “You Have Options.” A woman standing near the bus was watching me. She walked over and asked if she could do anything for me. She said that she might be able to help us.

She invited us into the mobile unit. The bus was so cool compared to the summer heat outside. She offered me Kleenex and gave Dan and me some cool bottled water. I began to calm down. For the next thirty minutes I shared my story with her.  

We talked about my religious beliefs, my family, and my work situation. As we discussed these concerns, she wrote down the pros and cons of each and we discussed the possible outcomes. After we did this, I realized that all of my concerns were manageable. Some actually weren’t even legitimate.

I looked over at Dan. His head was hanging low and his hands were covering his face. He looked up and, with tears in his eyes, he firmly said, “We are not going to end the life of our child. We don’t kill our children.” He went on to challenge me by asking, “Why do we need to be so concerned about what others think anyways?” And that is exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. I realized that what God says about me was so much more important than what others say about me. 

We decided to keep our baby! From that moment on, my heart has been filled with relief and peace. We are so thankful for the counsel we received on the Stork Bus and the continual support we have found in the local pregnancy center.

Reprinted with permission from Save the Storks.

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Life Institute


Irish citizens are not in favor of abortion-on-demand. Why is the gov’t pushing for it?

Life Institute

DUBLIN, Ireland, April 25, 2017 (Life Institute) — No one who has been following the charade that has been the Irish Citizens’ Assembly will be surprised that its members voted in favour of abortion on demand last weekend. This is a gathering which was sharply criticised for giving a platform to extremist abortion supporters, including an actual abortionist — Patricia Lohr from BPAS — who was brought over at taxpayers’ expense to advise the Assembly as an "impartial expert" in the debate on the 8th Amendment, Ireland’s constitutional protection of preborn children and their mothers.

The whole thing, as we have repeatedly said, has been a farce from the beginning. It was shocking, but not surprising, then to see the Assembly vote for the most extreme and cruel abortion model possible – abortion without any restrictions. In fact, the Assembly went so far as to vote in favour of legalising abortion on poverty grounds, which would make the abortion model they propose even more extreme than legislation in the UK, which has, as we all know, simply led to carnage.

However, we need to remember that, as with most political charades, the recommendations of the Assembly do not reflect public opinion, or the reality on the ground. In fact, the Assembly’s stance is seriously out of sync with public opinion, which, as polls have repeatedly shown, is not in favour of legalising abortion-on-demand.

Most recently, a succession of opinion polls have shown that support for "repeal of the 8th" – for abortion on demand – is actually falling in Ireland. Look at this table produced by Source Watch, for example, which shows support for a liberal abortion model falling to as low as 19 percent in the polls.

This fall in support for repeal of the pro-life constitutional amendment took place as the Life Canvass cranked into gear and began to reach Irish voters door-to-door and in the public square with meaningful, informed conversations about abortion. Popular campaigns like #RepealKills from Youth Defence also exposed the reality of what that glib phrase actually means – with their video exposing the reality of repeal being watched more than 500,000 times.

Abortion campaigners, for all their bluster, are panicking as the support for repeal begins to slip away. The so-called Citizens’ Assembly was designed to give the pretence of consultation and public discourse, but it has been a disaster since the beginning, and seems to me to be a last throw of the dice.

Assembly members had clearly been led to believe that they could take the right to life away from other human beings, mostly because preborn children are weak and defenceless and cannot not defend themselves from attack.

The unborn child was almost totally ignored in the Assembly’s discussion, but that is not happening in the real world, and the government cannot control the debate outside the Assembly.

In fact, pro-life activists have a much greater capacity to shape public debate especially when thousands of them are involved in the most important vehicle for social change in Ireland, the Life Canvass.

The Assembly has no real power at all, so despite all the hysterical headlines, its vote is really pretty meaningless, and even if the government agrees with its recommendations, the government must still put this matter to the Irish people in a referendum.

It is the people who will decide. And when you have the power to reach the people, to talk to the people, and to win the people’s hearts and minds, then that changes everything.

What we do in the next 12 months will decide whether abortion is legalised in Ireland or not.

By raising up enough activists to bring the truth and the facts to the doors and to the public square, we will win this referendum. The pro-abortion media elites, the millions of dollars coming in from abroad for abortion campaigners, the glib politicians: none of these are as powerful as one person talking to another, explaining why Ireland should continue to offer a better answer than abortion.

We will also of course be using every other platform imaginable – media, social media, advertising and more – but what matters most is the Canvass. What matters most is that personal, one-to-one conversation: informative, persuasive, meaningful.

It’s game-on for an abortion referendum in Ireland. The lives of mothers and babies are at stake. The real citizens, not this farcical and dishonest Assembly, will rise up to save lives and save the 8th.

Reprinted with permission from The Life Institute.

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Phil Lawler


The Benedict Option—not radical enough

Phil Lawler
By Phil Lawler

April 24, 2017 (CatholicCulture) -- The Benedict Option is the most talked-about book of 2017, at least among religious conservatives. Personally I am pleased with this development, for two reasons. First because I count the author, Rod Dreher, as a friend as well as a gifted controversialist, and I’m happy to see his work prosper. Second because the book examines the same question that I have been examining for years: How should American Christians live out their faith in an increasingly hostile environment?

Asking the right question is, of course, not a guarantee that one will find the right answer. The Benedict Option has been roundly criticized as well as highly praised. Even among reviewers who would accept Dreher’s major premise—that we live in a post-Christian society—there is a lively debate about his proposed solution.

That debate, too, is a reason to welcome the book. Dreher has forced religious conservatives—the Americans who might be lumped together in the category of the “Religious Right”— to examine their assumptions and question the effectiveness of their efforts. That stock-taking is long overdue. For the space of a full generation, Christian conservatives in America have based their plans on the assumption that their goals are shared by most of the American public—by the vaunted “moral majority.” If that ever was true, it certainly is not true today. The defenders of faith and family form a minority. So the question now is whether we will be a “creative minority,” as envisioned by Pope Benedict XVI, enriching the culture around us; or a despised minority, shrinking gradually into desuetude.

Dreher proposes that in order to change our culture, believers must first rebuild our own Christian communities, forming pockets of resistance against the onslaught of Neopaganism. His book is based on the example of St. Benedict of Norcia, whose monasteries eventually transformed the face of European society, and on the words of Alasdair MacIntyre, who concluded his book After Virtue by saying that to escape from barbarism: “We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.”

St. Benedict made a conscious decision to withdraw from the world into a monastery, to establish a new way of life founded on communal prayer. Many critics of The Benedict Option have chided Dreher for suggesting that sort of withdrawal; they see him as a defeatist. I think that criticism is misguided. The problem with Dreher’s analysis is not that he wants us all to become monks; the problem is that he does not take St. Benedict’s example seriously enough.

In order to explain, let me set the stage by recounting a few episodes of my own life.

In 1999 my wife Leila and I moved from a suburb of Boston, where I had been born and raised, to a little town in rural Massachusetts. We made that move for several reasons:

  • We found a bigger house, with more land, at a reasonable price.
  • We wanted a healthy place to raise our children, and we knew that…
  • We already had like-minded friends in the little rural town, and we knew there was an active Catholic community here.
  • We were desperate to escape from the barren spiritual wasteland that is the Boston archdiocese, where we were literally driving past five Catholic parishes every Sunday morning to reach a church where the liturgy was celebrated with reverence.
  • Near our new home was a monastery—a Benedictine abbey, as a matter of fact—where we knew that we could find beautiful liturgy even if things went awry at local parishes.

Were the Lawlers, then, taking the “Benediction Option”—even before we met Rod Dreher (or even read Alasdair MacIntyre)? Not really. Our move was prompted not by a quest to transform the surrounding culture, but by the needs and desires of the Lawler family. We were simply choosing a home where we could raise our family and live our faith.

At about the same time, I plunged into a quixotic political campaign, running for the US Senate, against the late Ted Kennedy. The result was never in doubt, but the process was instructive. When it was over, I made a commitment to step away from politics and concentrate on working for the revival of the Catholic faith. As I wrote at the time, “we cannot expect reform in society at large until we achieve reform within our Church.”

To be honest, I’ve had trouble keeping that commitment. The tug toward activism is strong, particularly for someone who had been involved with political affairs for years. But on my good days, when I am thinking clearly, I recognize that Christian politicians cannot flourish when the Christian churches are weak. If we can repair the Church, the Church can repair society.

But here’s the catch: If you set out to repair the Church in order to repair society, you will accomplish neither. Invariably, Christians who have their eyes on the wrong prize compromise the message of the Gospel in order to seek public favor. When they do, they sap the radical power of the pure Gospel message, and thereby lose their only real claim on the world’s attention.

St. Benedict did not set out to establish Christendom; he sought to help a limited number of men pursue holiness. Paradoxically, through the power of their prayer and their evangelical witness, his monks did transform Europe. Had they set out with that objective, they would have failed.

Dreher’s greatest strength lies in his ability to stir up public discussion. The success of his book reflects the hundreds of blog entries that he has written on the same subject, provoking his critics and answering their objections. He offers a readable and reasonable analysis of how Christian ideas have been supplanted by secularism, and if that analysis fails to satisfy scholars, it will convince most readers. He is at his most persuasive when he argues that the political programs of the “religious right” are doomed to failure:

Today the culture war as we knew it is over. The so-called values voters—social and religious conservatives—have been defeated and are being swept to the political margins.


Benedict Option politics begins with recognition that Western society is post-Christian and that absent a miracle, there is no hope of reversing this condition in the foreseeable future.

But do you see the problem with that last sentence? Dreher writes about “Benedict Option politics.” But politics is the art of the possible, and he himself says that a political revival is virtually impossible. So why search for a political solution, when none is likely to be found? Why not retreat to the monasteries? There is an element of confusion in The Benedict Option, a failure finally to settle between a political or a religious mission.

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Most of us will not become monks. We will raise families, living in the secular world, coping with the problems of everyday life in a non-Christian environment. Dreher is right that we need monasteries, as oases where we can find refreshment. But more urgently, we need parishes that will give us support on a regular basis. My friend David Clayton (co-author, with wife Leila, of The Little Oratory), writes:

I think this may be a practical answer to the desire for community in modern man. Most of us are meant to be parish people, not monastic people (which is a special calling) and when life is organized on the pattern of the ideal pattern we will flourish and evangelize others.

Rather than living as proto-monks, lay Catholics should be engaged in the battle for restoration at the parish level. It is true, as Dreher argues, that our political and educational institutions have slipped out of our control; it is true that we need to set up our own alternative institutions. But we cannot accept the demise of our own churches, the squandering of our own religious heritage. We need the support of the sacraments, and so we have no choice: we must demand, and find, and support, and defend parishes where the faith is lived in its fullness.

If our parishes and our dioceses celebrated the liturgy properly, if we all based our lives on the rhythms of the liturgical calendar, we could bring an entirely different perspective to public life, without needing more than an occasional retreat to monasteries. And since we know that the Gospel message “sells,” and that the sacraments nourish the community, we can be confident that strong parish life would produce conversions and reversions, bringing a new vigor to the Christian community, giving us the strength to confront the secular culture—and ultimately to overcome it, since the secular world has no such source of support. Take care of the liturgy—the cult—and the culture will be transformed.

Reprinted with permission from Catholic Culture.

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