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April 18, 2018


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Defying Trump, Coast Guard chief will to keep allowing transgender members

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By Calvin Freiburger

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The head of the United States Coast Guard said Tuesday that the force will continue to allow transgender members to serve, despite the ban recently finalized by the country’s commander in chief.

“We are certainly committed to their [transgenders’] continued service in the United States Coast Guard,” Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft told the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, according to Politico. “We will make sure that there is a one policy for all service members.”

He explained that the heads of all five branches of the country’s armed forces were currently discussing how to implement President Donald Trump’s order, but maintained that he would not expel any members until expressly ordered to do so. He added that 17 out of 40,000 active-duty Coast Guard members were estimated to be transgendered or “transitioned,” including one member of his personal staff.

Zukunft made his comments in response to a question from Rep. David Price, D-NC, who criticized the ban as “an invented problem and a waste of time and dollars and military resources.”

The Trump administration revealed the finalized version of the policy late last month. It disqualifies from service “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria,” specifically those who “may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery,” except in “certain limited circumstances.” The White House says the policy was crafted after “extensive study by senior uniformed and civilian leaders, including combat veterans.”

Accompanying the policy was a memo from Defense Secretary James Mattis, which concluded that soldiers diagnosed with gender dysphoria presented “considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality.”

The order applies to all branches of the military. However, a federal judge has temporarily blocked the Pentagon from enforcing it, enabling Zukunft to disregard it until a trial determines its ultimate fate.

Zukunft also made headlines for vocally opposing the policy back when President Donald Trump first announced it.

“I reached out personally to Lt. Taylor Miller, who was featured on the cover of The Washington Post last week,” he declared last August. “If you read that story, Taylor's family has disowned her. Her family is the United States Coast Guard. And I told Taylor, ‘I will not turn my back. We have made an investment in you, and you have made an investment in the Coast Guard, and I will not break faith.’”

At the time, retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, now a foreign policy expert with the Family Research Council, questioned both the wisdom and the loyalty of Zukunft’s pronouncements.

“He admits that there are only 13 of these people that he is aware of in the Coast Guard. And for him to put a marker down in this sort of environment, I certainly wouldn't have advised that even if I were to agree with his position. I just think it's not smart,” Maginnis told OneNewsNow. "If [the commandant] continues in this line, he risks insubordination against the president and probably loses his job.”

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Pope Francis rejects German bishops’ plan to give Holy Communion to Protestants: report

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By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis confirmed a decision by the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith rejecting a plan by the German bishops to give Holy Communion to the Protestant spouses of Catholics, according to the Austrian Catholic news service, Kath.net.

“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Congregation, according to information available to kath.net, has rejected the pastoral assistance of the German Bishops' Conference with express papal approval,” the news agency reported. “Kath.net has learned this from well-informed Vatican sources.”

The “pastoral assistance” offered by the German Episcopal Conference was a guide for priests to use in discerning whether they should allow the Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion. The guide claimed that Protestants could be given communion to end a state of “serious spiritual distress” and to fulfill a “yearning for the Eucharist” after a “deep discernment in a spiritual conversation with the priest or another pastoral worker.”

The guide was approved in February by a majority vote by German bishops but was condemned nationally and internationally as a threat to the Catholic Church’s doctrine regarding the Eucharist.  

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, called the reasoning contained in the guide a “rhetorical trick” that undermines the unity of the faith. “Christ did not institute the Magisterium in order to initiate processes which lead into confusion,” said Müller.

In response, seven German bishops asked the Holy See to intervene and to rule on the case, in a letter that was published by the German newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

Edward Pentin, the Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register, tweeted Wednesday that he received confirmation that a response has been sent to the German bishops by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but did not confirm that the bishops’ guide had been struck down.

If the Kath.com report is correct, Pope Francis may finally have decided to give clarity to the question of Protestants receiving communion in Catholic Churches, an issue that has arisen repeatedly during his pontificate and about which he appears to have been ambivalent.

In 2015, a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic asked Pope Francis in a public audience about the possibility of receiving Holy Communion with her husband. The pope gave an uncertain answer, advising her to “Always refer back to your baptism: ‘One faith, one baptism, one Lord.’ This is what Paul tells us, and then take the consequences from there. I wouldn’t ever dare to allow this, because it’s not my competence. One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord and go forward.”

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California set to vote on banning books about treating unwanted homosexual attraction

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By Calvin Freiburger

SACRAMENTO, California, April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The California State Assembly is slated to vote on legislation that has been interpreted as broad enough to ban the sale of books that address helping people overcome unwanted same-sex attractions.

AB 2943 adds “[a]dvertising, offering to engage in, or engaging in sexual orientation change efforts with an individual” to the state’s list of illegal “unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result or that results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer.”

“Sexual orientation change efforts” are defined as “any practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation.”

The bill makes no exceptions for adults who actively seek such efforts, or minors whose parents have given their consent. (California minors are not currently required to obtain parental consent for abortions.)

The bill passed the assembly’s Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee 8-2 and the Judiciary Committee 8-1, clearing the way for a floor vote. That vote has yet to be scheduled, but the California Family Council says it could take place as soon as Thursday.

“Conversion therapy as a practice implies an inherent wrongness in who I am,” Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low, who introduced the bill, declared on April 10. “There is nothing wrong with who I am or with anyone in the LGBT community. This legislation sets California apart as a state of inclusion, not exclusion.”

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), disagrees.

“Traditional medical ethics, enshrined in the Oath of Hippocrates, requires physicians to prescribe according to the best of their ability and judgment, and to avoid doing harm. And patients have the right to choose their therapeutic goals,” she said. “These bills impose on all Californians, by law, the opinion of an activist lobby that same-sex attraction or the belief that a person is imprisoned in a body of the ‘wrong’ biological sex is always normal, healthy, and immutable.”

Pro-homosexual lawmakers in other states, such as Washington, have pushed similar legislation prohibiting treatment for unwanted sexual attraction, but critics say the scope of AB 2943 is unprecedented.

National Reviews David French, an attorney who specialized in religious liberty with the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), wrote Tuesday that by classifying the subject under prohibited “goods,” the legislation would “actually–among other things–ban the sale of books.” He added on Twitter that it was “terribly drafted.”

“At its core, AB 2943 outlaws speech,” ADF’s legal analysis of the bill reads. It says that licensed counseling, religious conferences, book sales, and paid speaking engagements could all potentially face legal penalties for promoting ways to reverse unwanted attractions or for expressing traditional Christian teachings on sexuality.

ADF further notes that the section of California’s civil code pertaining to “deceptive acts or practices” expressly “commands that it be ‘liberally construed and applied,’ Cal. Civil Code § 1760, resulting in prohibitions against [sexual orientation change efforts] potentially being applied beyond the confines of a traditional counseling relationship to many other constitutionally protected activities.”

If AB 2943 becomes law, it will be all-but certain to face legal challenge.

The United States Constitution expressly forbids federal laws “abridging the freedom of speech” or “prohibiting the free exercise” of “religion” (a provision the Fourteenth Amendment has long been interpreted as extending to state laws). The California Constitution declares that “[e]very person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects,” and that “[f]ree exercise and enjoyment of religion without discrimination or preference are guaranteed.”

“Conversion therapy,” also known as reparative therapy, is controversial largely because it challenges the homosexual lobby’s claim that sexual attraction is biologically rooted and unchangeable. Prominent medical organizations such as the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) have condemned the practice, but many former homosexuals attest to its effectiveness.

Even some homosexual academics have begun dissenting from the “born this way” trope in recent years. In 2016, the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Dr. Lisa Diamond advised LGBT activists to “stop saying ‘born that way and can’t change’ for political purposes, because the other side knows it’s not true as much as we do.”

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New documentary exposes big lie behind euthanasia movement

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By Lianne Laurence
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LONDON, Ontario, April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Nineteen months ago doctors attempted to pressure a Canadian mother into having her sick 25-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy euthanized during an emergency hospital stay.

Sheila Elson recalls in a forthcoming documentary how a doctor in Newfoundland said her daughter Candice Lewis was going to die. The doctor suggested that euthanasia was the best way forward.

Elson was sitting beside her daughter as she retold the story. When she got to the part about the doctor suggesting euthanasia, Candice burst into tears.

“Don’t cry, it’s all done now, it’s over,” says Sheila Elson, hugging her daughter, who pulls off her glasses to wipe her eyes. “We just don’t want it to happen to anybody else, hey?”

It’s a moving moment in “Fatal Flaws,” a documentary on legalizing euthanasia created and produced by Ontario-based Dunn Media in association with the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

EPC executive director Alex Schadenberg maintains the 70-minute documentary will “change the way the culture views assisted death.

The documentary features stories such as Lewis’s, and “incredible stories that have never been told before,” including “shocking” testimony by Margreet, “whose mother was euthanized in the Netherlands without consent,” he told LifeSiteNews.

Fatal Flaws also features unedited interviews with leaders of the “death lobbies in the Netherlands and the United States,” such as the Right to Die Federation and Death With Dignity.

“The film really undoes what the euthanasia lobby has been selling. They say it’s about autonomy,” Schadenberg told LifeSiteNews.

“When you’re watching what they’re saying and you listen to the story of Margreet’s mom, or you listen to the Candice Lewis story, you realize it’s all a lie,” he said. “It’s very powerful when you watch it.”

In Lewis’s case, Elson took her daughter to Charles S. Curtis Memorial in St. Anthony, Newfoundland in September 2016 for treatment for seizures.

The emergency doctor, identified in the media as Dr. Aaron Heroux, allegedly said Lewis’s kidney was displaced and “the lower part of her lungs had collapsed,” she told filmmaker Kevin Dunn.

The next day, the doctor “took me out in the hallway and stood me up against the wall and told me about assisted-suicide death [and that it] was legal in Canada,” Elson related.

She said she wasn’t interested, but the doctor “told me that I was being selfish and he wanted to assist me in doing this.”

Worst of all, Lewis “heard everything,” Elson related. But “not once did she ever say, ‘I want to end my  life.’ Not once.”

On the contrary, Lewis related in the film how she told the doctors: “I don’t want to go.”

And she pulled through, and a year later, was “back doing what she loves most, painting and being with her family,” notes Dunn.

As well as traveling to Newfoundland, Dunn and his crew visited four countries and logged in over 50,000 km over two years. He was seeking an answer to the “most fundamental philosophical questions of our time: should we be giving doctors — or anyone — the right and law to end the life of another human?" Added to this is the question: "how do these laws affect society over time?”

In the particularly tragic case of Aurelia Brouwers, the 29-year-old physically healthy Dutch woman told Dunn she’s “had a death wish for about six years and I’ve tried to get euthanasia for about four years…and I just want to fight for it.”

The Dutch government subsequently approved Brouwers for euthanasia for psychiatric reasons. She was euthanized January 26, 2018.

“I have to ask: Who has failed her?” asks Dunn.

Fatal Flaws “is not out to demonize doctors, advocates – or anyone for that matter. In fact, most doctors want nothing to do with assisted death. However a small minority do, and the number is growing,” Dunn writes on Fatal Flaws website.

“Rather, this film is about the growing adoption of a new cultural philosophy, one that has the potential to wreak havoc on society’s vulnerable. And let’s face it, we’re all vulnerable.”

Fatal Flaws is set to premiere on May 8 at the Ottawa Little Theatre.

But Schadenberg says EPC needs about $25,000 to finish the project. He’s been forced to send out an emergency appeal to supporters to make up the shortfall.

“As the film nears completion, once again we face a severe financial crunch,” Schadenberg wrote on EPC’s website. “We have staff and office expenses, and have had to make difficult decisions to enable the completion of Fatal Flaws.”

To cover the $25,000 shortfall on the documentary, EPC is seeking both donations, which can be made here, and short-term, no-interest loans.

Supporters can also help by pre-ordering Fatal Flaw DVDs, as well as EPC-produced companion pamphlets. (For more information, go here.)

EPC is sponsoring the May 8 premiere, which will be followed by a live recorded round-table discussion on the dangers of legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide. Tickets are $10, and can be purchased here.

As with its previous documentary, The Euthanasia Deception, EPC is urging people to organize local screenings of Fatal Flaws.

Editor's note: To book a screening with a speaker, contact the EPC at [email protected] or call 1-877-439-3348.  

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Bishop explains how last-minute meeting between Pope Francis and Alfie Evans’ dad happened

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

Save Alfie Evans! Tell the hospital to let his parents take him home. Sign here.

VATICAN CITY, April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The bishop who set up the meeting between Pope Francis and Alfie Evans’ father Thomas said the Pope agreed to receive the young father at the Vatican within 20 minutes of receiving the proposal. 

Francesco Cavina, the Bishop of Carfi, gave an interview to Vatican News today detailing how the headline-making meeting came about. 

READ: Pope Francis takes first steps to bring Alfie Evans to Vatican hospital

“The meeting was decided yesterday morning after a request was sent to me from Liverpool if it would be possible for the Holy Father to meet with Alfie’s father,” said Cavina, “because the decision of the Court of Appeal reaffirmed the decision of the first court, that is that the ventilator must be disconnected and the child should die.”

“I must say that within 20 minutes the Holy Father had expressed his desire to meet Thomas.”  

The bishop described today’s meeting as being one of “great emotion” on both sides, and said that Pope Francis had praised Evans’ courage.

“At a certain point [the Holy Father] said, ‘I admire you for your courage; you are so young but you have the courage to defend the life of your son.’ And additionally at a certain point he said that the courage of this father is similar to the love that God has for human beings in that he never gives them up for lost.”

Cavina said that Evans had shared his pain with Pope Francis about not being allowed to take his son to another hospital. Evans had also told the Holy Father that judges had called his son’s life “futile”, something Francis already knew, the bishop asserted. Evans also reminded the pontiff that Alfie is a child of God.

“Thomas repeated that Alfie is a child of God and precisely because he is a child of God, he has the right--since it is God who gave him life--to ensure that God takes it from him when God believes the time has come,” said the bishop. “And that’s why [Thomas] fights; he’s ready to fight until the end.” 

Cavina said Pope Francis had instructed him to be in touch with the Vatican Secretariat of State so that the Bambino Gesù hospital would do all it could to welcome Alfie there. The bishop said that there will be “difficulties.”

“It is clear that there are major difficulties from a legislative and legal point of view,” he said. “Let’s see if it is possible to overcome them.” 

In blocking Alfie’s transfer, 'we are beyond all human logic'

Cavina said that if the Vatican’s diplomatic efforts did not succeed in finding willingness in the British justices and hospital, the attempt to bring Alfie to Rome would be “much more difficult.” He said that prayer was important, and that everything that had so far been achieved was the fruit of prayer. 

Asked his own opinion, Bishop Cavina said he couldn’t understand why Alfie’s parents are not being permitted to bring their child to Rome. 

“Humanly speaking, it seems incredible,” he said. “From the point of view of common sense, it seems to me that we are beyond all human logic. Two parents who ask to transfer their own child from one hospital to another--if not in Italy than to any other hospital in England--I don’t understand why this should be impeded. It is hard to understand something like this.”

Alfie Evans is neurologically damaged infant at the center of a dispute between his parents and the Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. Alder Hey wishes to remove Alfie’s breathing apparatus and commence palliative care. Alfie’s parents, Thomas Evans and Kate James, want Alfie to be transferred to the Bambino Gesù hospital. On Monday, they lost their bid at the UK Court of Appeal to have Alfie released from Alder Hey hospital.

Italian newspaper La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana has reported that Pope Francis has opened diplomatic channels “so that all initiatives be taken to transfer the child to the Bambino Gesù in Rome.”  

The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales seemed to have distanced themselves from both Pope Francis’s and Cavina’s remarks by releasing a statement fully supporting Alder Hey Children’s hospital and “those who are and have been taking the agonizing decisions regarding the care of Alfie Evans.”

Meanwhile, Alfie Evans will remain on life support until after the UK Supreme Court judges a fresh appeal. 

The parents of Alfie Evans have petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn a decision that the child must remain in Alder Hey hospital. 

On Monday, April 16, Lord Justices Davis and Moylan and Lady Justice King of the Court of Appeal in Westminster ruled that Alfie Evans is not being unlawfully detained in Alder Hey hospital. Lord Justice Davis also decided on a date for the cessation of Alfie’s life support. This date is, however, under a publication ban. 

Immediately after the decision, Paul Diamond, barrister for Alfie’s parents, asked the judges for permission to appeal. They refused him permission but conceded that the parents had the right to directly apply to the Supreme Court. Lord Justice Davis gave the press permission to say that Alfie’s ventilator would not be removed until a judgement by the Supreme Court.

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Irish pro-lifers begin powerful ‘12 weeks’ campaign to protect 8th Amendment

Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
By Society for the Protection of Unborn Children

April 18, 2018 (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) – Save the 8th has launched a new campaign focusing on the humanity of the unborn child. The new campaign shows social media users a video of a scan of an unborn baby at 12 weeks gestation, and asks them if the unborn child is deserving of constitutional rights.

Clump of cells?

Save the 8th's Niamh Ui Bhriain said: "It is important that this debate is informed and that people have access to basic information. The Government is asking us to legalise abortion for any reason up to three months. In effect, the legislation proposed says that these babies are not human at all, and will have no rights.

"The scan shows clearly a developing child, with identifiable form of a human being, moving and kicking inside the womb. The Irish people are being asked to give their approval for a proposal that would allow such children to be legally killed. Many people believe that at 12 weeks, they are voting on 'a clump of cells'. The simplest look at a 12 week scan proves this to be untrue."

Information changes minds

Data from elsewhere has shown that providing information like this can have a huge affect on perceptions of abortion. A ComRes poll, carried out on behalf of SPUC Scotland, found that when 18-34 year olds were shown a picture of a foetus at 12 weeks, and told that it has pain receptors, there was a 20% jump in those saying that abortion should never be available. 

Support Alfie Evans' parents! Sign the pledge here.

Inform the electorate

Save The 8th says this information should be made available to the wider public. "A fully informed debate need not show graphic images, or upsetting images. But it should show, at a very basic level, what a child in the womb at that age looks like. Every mother who has had a child in the modern era has seen one of these scans – but most voters have not...We are calling on RTE and TV3 to include a video of such a scan in their television coverage of the referendum campaign. If they want a fully informed electorate, they will do so."

Betrayal of the disabled

Elsewhere, Inclusion Ireland, the national association for people with an intellectual disability,  joined forces with the Together For Yes campaign, saying that abortion is needed for women with disabilities.

Their spokesman made no mention of how the disabled are disproportionately targeted for abortion in other jurisdictions, something which was highlighted by a number of bishops over the weekend. For instance, another billboard campaign features three-year old Joseph Cronin, a Donegal boy with Down syndrome, and the fact that 90% of babies with the condition have their lives ended before birth in Britain. Health minister Simon Harris also warned campaigners not to make disability an issue in the referendum. 

Published with permission from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.

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Francis-appointed cardinal: ‘The church is moving on the question of same-sex couples’ ​

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By Lisa Bourne

VILLANOVA, Pennsylvania, April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic Church is “moving” on the issue of couples living in homosexual relationships, a prominent Francis-appointed U.S. cardinal said.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin said that LGBT-identifying persons’ place in the Church is not an easy subject for some Church leaders, but they must contend with it.

“I think it’s a very difficult question,” Tobin said in response to a question on the firing of LGBT individuals from Catholic institutions while speaking at Villanova University last Thursday. 

“The Church is moving on the question of same-sex couples,” Tobin said, although not as swiftly as some would like. 

St. Peter Damian, an 11th century Italian Catholic reformer and Doctor of the Church, described homosexuality in his famous Book of Gomorrah as a “diabolical” corruption of God’s plan for sexuality between a man and a woman.​ Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, the Church teaches that homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity” and are “intrinsically disordered” since they are “contrary to the natural law” in that they “close the sexual act to the gift of life.” “Under no circumstances can they be approved,” States the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

The cardinal’s opening address of last week’s Villanova conference centered on the fifth anniversary of the Francis pontificate. It was covered in a report from Jesuit-run America Magazine.

“Francis, a Voice Crying Out in the World: Mercy, Justice, Love, & Care for the Earth,” ran April 12-15, and gathered a list of high-level Francis advisors and confidantes. 

Aside from Tobin, the speaker roster included among others editor of La Civiltà Cattolica Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, Honduran Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, a member of Francis’s advisory council of nine Cardinals, Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences President Margaret Archer.

Spadaro, often referenced as the pope’s “mouthpiece,” recently re-tweeted a call for EWTN to be put under interdict “until they get rid of Raymond Arroyo,” after a February World Over segment with a discussion critical of a speech he’d made. Spadaro has been critical of the cardinals who raised the dubia resting clarification from Pope Francis on Amoris Laetitia, and others who’ve questioned the exhortation as well. And he had co-authored an article charging conservative Catholics and Evangelicals in the U.S. as with forming an “ecumenism of hate” in their opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

Cardinal Maradiaga has also been critical of the four dubia cardinals.

Sachs, well known for his support for abortion and population control, has been a presenter at a number of Vatican conferences on climate change

Appointed president of the PASS in 2014, Archer had endorsed the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 despite their containing language calling for “universal sexual and reproductive health and rights,” and denounced a representative of Centre for Family and Human Rights Institute (C-Fam) for raising criticism about the Vatican’s invitation to abortion proponents for a 2015 climate change conference.

The conference by all accounts was a glowing salute to Francis, with a Crux article headline on the event stating, “Pope’s biggest fans celebrate five years of Francis at Villanova.”

“This pope is electric,” Spadaro is reported to have said at the conference, re-tweeting papal biographer Austen Ivereigh’s quoting him saying that around the pope "there are fields of attraction and repulsion." He is squeezing out bad spirit, outside as well as within the Church, as happens in Spiritual Exercises.

Sachs had said at the conference, “there is no voice more important in the world than Pope Francis in the fight for justice, peace, and decency.”

“The church in recent decades has been somewhat marginalized by many for what they see as a preoccupation with sexual ethics,” Cardinal Tobin said in his opening address. “The church cannot reverse itself on its sexual ethics, but Pope Francis has shown that there are other issues on which the church and world can work together. This, too, is a step in the trajectory that leads back to Vatican II.”

Tobin used the term “paradigm shift” to refer to both Amoris Laetitia and the Second Vatican Council, the America Magazine report said. 

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin had described Amoris Laetitia as a “paradigm shift” in January, further confirming the exhortation’s controversial standing for opening the door to Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics and others in non-marital unions. 

The term paradigm shift has been used by Cupich to describe Amoris Laetitia as well, and prompted criticism from Catholics mindful that the Church doesn’t change its doctrine for the world. 

Tobin voiced this mindset with his conference comments, stating of Amoris Laetitia, “As with all paradigm shifts, especially after some ecumenical councils, it provoked controversy.” 

Operation Rescue staff

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Four Florida abortion centers get licenses revoked, two don’t care

Operation Rescue staff
By Operation Rescue staff
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April 18, 2018 (Operation Rescue) – The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has revoked four abortion facility licenses of abortion clinics associated with criminal abortionist James Scott Pendergraft, IV.

The revocations were effective on March 27, 2018. Facilities involved were:

EPOC
Ft. Lauderdale Women's Center
Ocala Women's Center
Orlando Women's Center

The revocations were made as a result of Pendergraft's October 2017 drug convictions in South Carolina. Pendergraft and a female associate were arrested near the community of Spartanburg on October 5, 2015. At that time, Sheriff Chuck Wright stated in a press conference, "We got a guy and a girl early in the week that was a traveling abortionist. He traveled around the state of South Carolina without a medical license, with drugs and with medical tools, performing in-home abortions. So basically, we got an illegal baby killer."

Pendergraft, who was never licensed to practice in South Carolina, was never charged with operating the illegal abortion scheme out of the back of his van.

However, Pendergraft pled guilty on to ten criminal Felony and Misdemeanor counts including Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Marijuana and LSD, Possession and Distribution Prescription Drugs without a Prescription, and Manufacture and Possession of Schedule I & II Substances.

Those convictions disqualified him from owning or operating any medical facility in Florida.

The AHCA filed suit to close Pendergraft's abortion facilities. Pendergraft had appealed the revocation orders, but the court ruled on March 26, 2018, that the revocations should stand.

That should have been the end of it. It wasn't.

While it is true that two abortion facilities had previously closed, others remain open for business under dubious circumstances.

The Ocala Women's Center voluntarily shut down in October 2015. The EPOC clinic, which is still owned by Pendergraft through his 609 Virginia Drive LLC, has been closed for some months, supposedly "for renovations." With the recent facility license revocation, EPOC cannot legally reopen at this time.

Orlando Women's Center name change

The Orlando Women Center, Pendergraft's flagship abortion facility, is one of the clinics that remains open. It has undergone a name change to Center of Orlando for Women. Pendergraft has transferred ownership to Denise Williams, who is reportedly an ex-wife and the mother of two of his children.

"This transaction is most likely a change in paperwork only. I suspect that Pendergraft will still be just as involved in the abortion business as ever," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, who notes that disgraced New Jersey abortionist Steven Chase Brighamemployed the same tactic to keep his abortion businesses open after his medical license was revoked. Brigham, who could be in competition with Pendergraft for the title of "America's Most Deceptive Abortionist," remains involved with his businesses to this day.

The new Center of Orlando for Women applied for an abortion facility license and was granted it despite the involvement long-time Pendergraft employee Megan Clemente, who currently serves as clinic administrator.

But another major issue involves the designated medical director. The Center of Orlando for Women's license application lists troubled abortionist Randall Whitney, a long-time associate of Pendergraft's. However, Whitney's medical license is currently under indefinite suspensionfor improperly prescribing controlled substances, making it legally impossible for him to serve in that capacity. Whitney also has a history of criminal patient abuse.

Ft. Lauderdale Women's Center illegally operating?

The Fort Lauderdale Women's Center's license was revoked on March 27, 2018, and no ownership transfers are on record. Nevertheless, the abortion facility continues to conduct abortions – apparently illegally.

complaint against the facility was filed on April 7, 2018, by Broward Right to Life, which says at least 34 abortions have taken place at the unlicensed facility between March 27 and April 7.

The complaint lists Planned Parenthood abortionist and part-time Pendergraft associate Harvey C. Roth as being on duty during the alleged illegal abortions. Roth appears to be related to the notorious Michigan "Trunk Abortionist" Michael Roth, according to research done by Michigan pro-life activist Lynn Mills. Michael Roth was convicted last year of three counts of larceny for stealing drugs and medical equipment for use in his illegal home abortion scheme after the stolen goods and the remains of aborted babies were discovered in his vehicle's trunk following a traffic accident.

Tell Congress to keep their promise and defund Planned Parenthood. Sign the petition here!

An investigation into the Fort Lauderdale Women's Center is currently underway.

Women's Center of Hyde Park

One of Pendergraft's abortion businesses not subject to the lawsuit is Women's Center of Hyde Park, located in Tampa. Ownership was transferred to Denise Williams on October 28, 2010. Since then, the Women's Center of Hyde Park has been fined seven times, primarily for failure to file termination of pregnancy reports.

However, the Women's Center of Hyde Park is listed as one of five abortion facilities on WomensCenter.com, which boasts with verbosity about its founder, James Scott Pendergraft.

#ShutThemDown

As far as can be determined, it has just been business as usual at Pendergraft's abortion chain since the facility license revocations were issued. The two facilities that were already closed remain shut down. The three facilities that operated prior to the revocations continue to operate today.

The two facilities that have opted to shift ownership – at least on paper – continue to be run by those close to Pendergraft, with the same staff.

The Center of Orlando For Women operates without a currently licensed medical director, and Fort Lauderdale Women's Center appears to be operating illegally without a valid abortion facility license. Both should be shut down permanently.

"Pendergraft is one of the most deceptive and deceitful abortionists in the nation. We have long documented his illegal operations and efforts to evade the law," said Newman. "There can be no redemption for these facilities. They will continue to operate in violation until the ACHA realized their deceptive practices and permanently prevents them from operating. Pendergraft and his cohorts have had a long run killing babies, injuring women, and operating outside the law. Enough is enough. It's time to shut them down."

Note: Some of the documents used in this article graciously were provided by Liberty Counsel and Michele Herzog.

Published with permission from Operation Rescue.

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Rep. Marsha Blackburn speaking at Family Research Council's expert panel discussion on the internet and freespeecr, April 17, 2018. FRC / screen-grab
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Conservative expert panel discusses how to regain free speech on Facebook and Google

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By Doug Mainwaring
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The panel included Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Craig Parshall, and Brent Skorup. FRC / screen-grab

WASHINGTON DC, April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A big question facing lawmakers and public policy experts today is, “Does the internet require government regulation, and if so, how much?” 

A panel of experts gathered at the Family Research Council’s (FRC) Washington headquarters on Tuesday to grapple with those questions. The panel included Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Craig Parshall, and Brent Skorup. They paid particular attention to the fading online presence of conservatives and Christians.

“The entire digital ecosystem is now in the hands of a few very powerful tech companies that have declared themselves arbiters of truth,” pointed out moderator Sarah Perry, “and after losses in the 2016 elections, find themselves with an ideological bone to pick.” 

Mark Zuckerberg's testimony “may be finished on Capitol Hill, but Facebook's new algorithm disproportionately impacts conservatives,” declared a statement from FRC.  “Google and YouTube are using the SPLC as a ‘trusted flagger’ for offensive content. The internet leans further left each day.”  

Answers from conservative experts about regulating the internet do not align neatly and are sometimes surprising.  While greater regulation has instant appeal to those who feel slighted––if not oppressed––by the content gatekeepers of Silicon Valley’s Online Tech Giants, in the end increased regulation might not be in the best interest of Christians and conservatives.  

“Be careful what you wish for,” warned panelist Brent Skorup, Senior Research Fellow in the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He added, “because it might not turn out the way you had hoped.”

Opening the door to regulation would be a mistake 

For conservatives, said Skorup, there is an inherent tension between “their free market orthodox beliefs” and their desire to deal with “media bias” and “Silicon Valley’s political bias.”  

“Zuckerberg was before Congress last week and conceded Silicon Valley is a very left wing place, and it trickles down into its moderation of its platforms,” noted Skorup, adding, “They are well within their rights to decide who can speak on those private platforms.  

“I say this because Conservatives seem to be opening the door to regulation of social media because of this real and perceived bias and I think that would be a mistake.” 

“That would be inviting the fox into the hen house,” said Skorup.  “If you look at history, where there has been regulation of media––where the government has been involved in meda––it has not been a pretty story.  You live and die at the whims of bureaucrats,” who will not be kind to conservatives. 

Skorup pointed out that a couple generations ago, liberals in government “weaponized” the very pleasant, benign-sounding Fairness Doctrine “to bankrupt broadcasters and to drive conservatives and religious out of broadcasting for a generation.” 

Congresswoman: To protect innovation, we need to proceed slowly, carefully

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), said that if Congress were to intervene by imposing increased regulation on the tech giants, “The intervention would have to be done very carefully.”

“Of course, the big tech companies––Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google––are going to say at this point, ‘Give us some regulation’ because it will keep competition and innovation to a minimum.  It will make [life] easier for them.  They would love to have just one agency that they’re dealing with.”

“This is why everything we do is going to be ‘light touch.’  It is why we are going to proceed very, very carefully with anything that we do,” said Blackburn. “You do not want to keep innovation and the next generation of innovation out.  You do not want to squelch that.” 

It is important for Congress “to do their job in a constitutional manner with the appropriate constitutional authority,” she added.

Evangelists for free speech

Civil liberties attorney Craig Parshall spoke about “the slow tendency toward free speech suppression” as the new norm. He gave the example following example: “A college up in New Hampshire recently made the news when its faculty said, ‘Look, don’t talk to us about free speech.  It doesn’t apply to colleges.’” 

The ‘new norm’ goes far beyond suppression of free speech, which is simply a symptom of a radical new secular mindset.  Silicon Valley’s “technologists have a different worldview” from conservatives and Christians.  This became evident nearly twenty years ago when at the turn of the 21st century, an editor for Wired Magazine declared, “Now that religion is dead, technology will be the new hope of mankind.” 

“I don’t think regulation could change that,” said Parshall.  “I think we need to be evangelists for free speech, and why it is important.” 

Parshall said this new mindset os going to be very difficult to deal with.  “We need to find a way to incentivize them … to allow equal space for equal viewpoints on their ubiquitous platforms.” 

Parshall also cautioned that because of the complex nature of the issues presented by the internet, employing trust-busting laws like the Sherman Act would be “a blunt instrument and we need a scalpel.” 

“I think it’s entirely appropriate for private groups to put pressure on these companies to deal in a fair and transparent way,” said Skorup.  “I think they do have problems.  I think that to some extent they realize it, and they will muddle through.  They will make mistakes.  This is new for everyone.  And it will take time, and I am hopeful and optimistic that in time there will be a good equilibrium.” 

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US Christian who refuses to pay taxes until abortion is defunded has first big win in court

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By Calvin Freiburger

COLUMBIA CITY, Oregon, April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Like 60% of Americans, Michael Bowman opposes taxpayer funding of abortion. Unlike most Americans, he is currently squaring off against the Internal Revenue Service to avoid doing so.

Bowman is a 53-year-old Christian and contract engineer in Columbia City, Oregon. He has refused to file a tax return or pay taxes since 1999, The Oregonian reports, citing the federal government’s funding of the abortion industry.

"I'm not a tax protester. I love my country,” he told the paper. “I have a duty to my country. I have a duty to my conscience.”

The IRS has sent him numerous warnings over unpaid taxes from 2002 to 2014, and in 2012 the Oregon Department of Revenue began garnishing money from Bowman’s bank account. In response, he started cashing out his paychecks and leaving only a minimum balance in his account.

This, federal prosecutors say, constituted “remov[ing] his income from the reach of taxing authorities.” They indicted him for felony tax evasion in the amount of $356,857, as well as four misdemeanor counts of willful failure to file tax returns.

Bowman’s attorney, Matthew Schindler, argued that his client was fully transparent every step of the way, from disclosing all of his paychecks to cashing them at his own bank, under his own name.

"Like a player collapsing as they lose Twister, the government has reached too far forward and stretched way too far back,'' his motion to dismiss read.

Last week, US District Judge Michael Mosman sided with Bowman on the felony charge, ruling that the feds failed to show he attempted to conceal income or deceive the government. Prosecutors remain free to re-introduce the charge in the future, and are currently weighing whether to do so.

On Tuesday, Bowman elaborated on his stand in an interview with CBN News.

"First, I would love to pay taxes so as to have a normal life, however, our government is using the tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood; which commits abortions - the death of the innocent," Bowman said. “Apparently, a woman has the right to choose, but evidently, I do not.”

He also took aim at the common rejoinder that every American citizen has to pay taxes for things with which they might personally disagree, such as war. “You see, the Constitution grants certain abilities to the government, e.g. funding the military, but killing children is not a Constitutional backed, compelling interest of the government by any stretch of the imagination,” Bowman explained.

Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million per year from the federal government, and performs more than 300,000 abortions. Federal law forbids taxpayer dollars from being directly spent on abortions, though pro-life groups argue that the money still enables abortion facilities to grow their reach and influence, and spend more revenue from other sources on abortions.

“All the government has to do is put a check box on the tax forms that says check here to support Planned Parenthood, and write in your donation amount," Bowman proposed. "Then, just like any church or charity, Planned Parenthood will be funded by those that have no problem with it, and the 150 million people like me that are pro-life, can pay their taxes and live knowing we kept our conscience clean.”

He vowed that he will continue his resistance as long as the government continues funding the abortion industry.

“My effort [is] about standing up, standing firm for my Constitutional rights, and getting the government to honor title 42 Chapter 21.b  The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, so that I may live a peaceful life, and in the end face God, and hopefully have Him say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant!" he said.

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Clerical clothing for women modeled after what priest and bishops wear, showcased at the 'Heavenly Bodies' fashion show. Heavenly Bodies / screen grab
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Vatican lends sacred vestments to fashion show featuring female-priest clothing

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By Maike Hickson
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A woman's outfit featuring a short black skirt with a brazen sleeveless-and-shoulderless top that features an icon of Our Lady with the Christ Child. Showcased at the 'Heaven Bodies' fashion show. Heavenly Bodies / screen grab
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A woman's dress modeled after a nun's religious habit, with a mock rosary as part of the design. Showcased at the 'Heaven's Bodies' fashion show. Heavenly Bodies / screen grab
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A dress showcasing a naked Adam and Eve that has a revealing transparent top. Showcased at the 'Heaven Bodies' fashion show. Heavenly Bodies / screen grab

NEW YORK, April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Vatican has lent a collection of historical liturgical vestments and other sacred objects from the Sistine Chapel's sacristy to a New York gallery for a secular exhibition. While many Catholics may consider the Vatican's inclusion of the items approaching sacrilege, a Vatican cardinal is defending the decision. 

The event running May 10-October 8 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is titled Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.

The show includes an exhibition of women's dresses modeled after clerical clothing worn by priests and bishops. It also includes a dress showcasing a naked Adam and Eve that has a revealing transparent top. It also includes a woman's dress modeled after a nun's religious habit, with a mock rosary as part of the design.

Also included is a woman's outfit featuring a short black skirt with a brazen sleeveless-and-shoulderless top that features an icon of Our Lady with the Christ Child. 

Many of the items were created by fashion designers who say they are Catholic. Our Lady of Fatima stressed modesty in dress in her 1917 appearances to the three children, warning that “certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.”​

Another clothing item meant to be worn by a man imitates the papal regalia, including the mitre (ceremonial headdress).

Andrew Bolton, the Museums' Head Curator, explained in a promotional video that “the design certainly gravitates toward religious imagery for provocation.” 

The exhibition aims to "examine fashion's ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism," states an overview of the exhibition on the museum's website. 

"Serving as the cornerstone of the exhibition, papal robes and accessories from the Sistine Chapel sacristy, many of which have never been seen outside The Vatican, will be on view," the overview adds. 

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican's “cultural minister,” defended his decision to lend the sacred articles to the secular event. He denied that the Vatican's participation in the event was “unfitting,” reported German bishops' news website Katholisch.de on April 10.

The Cardinal said that there can be a dialogue between the Church and the fashionable world of beauty. He contributed an essay to the exhibition's catalog. 

According to Ravasi, fashion is an important form of today's communication. While the exhibition shows luxury objects – which is not part of the Church's life – Ravasi explained that the Church still has to try to enter “that part of the other world where there exists evil.”

Ravasi, who is the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, has sent to New York more than fifty masterworks from the Vatican collection. 

The Vatican has sent to this art exhibition the following religious items, according to a Vogue article:

The pieces range in date from the mid-18th to the early 21st centuries and encompass more than 15 papacies. The earliest is a mantle worn by Benedict XIV, and the latest is a pair of red shoes worn by Saint John Paul II. Several of the pieces have never been seen outside the Vatican, including a suite of 12 vestments commissioned by Empress Maria Anna Carolina of Austria for Pius IX. Dating to the mid-19th century, they required 15 women more than 16 years to complete.” Another highlight, he added, will include a papal tiara given to the same pope, Pius IX, by Queen Isabella II of Spain that contains 19,000 precious stones, 18,000 of them diamonds. 

The fashion exhibition was made possible with the help of the fashion company Versace, whose founder, Gianni Versace, was an LGBT icon.

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Abortionist critiques conscience rights protections under Trump admin in medical journal

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By Claire Chretien

Updated Wednesday, April 18 at 1:58 p.m. EST to include comment from Terrisa Bukovinac.

April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Planned Parenthood abortionist who has admitted that abortion is “killing” wrote an article in the New England Journal of Medicine this month commenting on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ new office that focuses on protecting conscience rights.

Dr. Lisa Harris is best known to the pro-life community for reflecting on what it was like to abort an 18-week-old baby while feeling her own 18-week-old child kick in her womb and complaining at the National Abortion Federation’s conference that abortionists aren’t given a place in “pro-choice rhetoric” to discuss “the heads that get stuck that we can’t get out” and “the hemorrhages that we manage.”

“Given that we actually see the fetus the same way [as pro-lifers], and given that we might both actually agree that there’s violence in here, ask me why I come to work everyday,” Harris said at the abortion conference in a video secretly recorded by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). “Let’s just give them all the violence, it’s a person, it’s killing, let’s just give them all that.”

In her article for the New England Journal of Medicine, Harris suggested that the new conscience protection office at HHS should consider “the complexity of clinical care” as they enforce laws prohibiting medical professionals from being forced to participate in abortions. She also argued: “It is courageous, morally speaking, to complicate our views, and such complication may in fact be needed, psychologically, for conscience to do its job.”

The abortionist said that “loving abortion work and questioning it” can go together for doctors, who “might express an enormous sense of pride, purpose, and fulfillment in their work, and also say they felt weak-kneed the first time they saw a second-trimester abortion.”

Some find themselves questioning how far their pro-abortion views go when they abort babies for superfluous reasons, like the sex of the baby, she wrote.

“Can we understand abortion as both something that ‘stops a beating heart’ and a fundamental right, rather than insisting it’s only one or the other?” she asked.

Harris concluded:

My call is for health care providers across the political spectrum to take note of our lived experiences, especially those that defy the narratives of movements with which we identify; use ambiguities as the basis for humility about our positions, and then for brave conversations with colleagues across ideological divides — not with the aim of changing each other’s minds about abortion but with the more modest hope that we might tolerate one another enough to collaborate toward shared vision in other areas; and ask our professional organizations to follow closely the work of HHS’s new division. “Conscience” and clinical lived experience need each other; the latter is messy and does not necessarily follow partisan lines. Whether HHS leaders and staff embrace complexity or seek to further entrench existing social divisions will reveal whether their interest in conscience is a political strategy or an ethical commitment.

“I agree with Dr. Harris' call for abortion providers to be more open and direct about the violence in abortion practice that ‘stops a beating heart’ of a tiny baby, often only to sell the heart afterwards for profit,” David Daleiden, who conducted CMP’s extensive undercover investigation, told LifeSiteNews.

“But true ethical progress will not come merely from ‘holding in tension’ providers' honest admissions about abortion and their conflicting political ideology,” he continued. “True ethical and medical progress will come when we ‘hold in tension’ the beauty and the imperfection of human life, by embracing it as good despite its complexity and unpredictability, and welcoming even the smallest and most unplanned members of the human family.”

Terrisa Bukovinac, the Founder and President of Pro-Life San Francisco, told LifeSiteNews that as an atheist, she is supportive of conscience rights.

“Dr. Harris’s insistence that abortion is a complex issue does not negate the reality that it is an act of violence,” said Bukovinac. “As a pro-life atheist, these conscious protections put forth are absolutely necessary for the continued ability of our communities to act in accordance with our values, especially in hostile pro-abortion cities like San Francisco.”

The supposedly objective New England Journal of Medicine advertises itself as “the most widely read, cited, and influential general medical periodical in the world.”

There have been a number of liberal articles fretting over the Trump administration treating conscience as a civil rights issue.

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Alfie Evans in a recent photo with his eyes open, sucking his soother. Thomas Evans / Facebook
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UK bishops say hospital acting with ‘integrity’ in Alfie Evans case

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

LONDON, England, April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic bishops of England and Wales have weighed in on the case of baby Alfie Evans, saying that the courts and hospital are acting “with integrity and for Alfie's good” in deciding that removing life-support is in the baby’s “best interest.” 

“We affirm our conviction that all those who are and have been taking the agonising decisions regarding the care of Alfie Evans act with integrity and for Alfie's good as they see it,” the bishops stated. 

The statement follows today’s surprise meeting between Pope Francis and Alfie Evan’s father this morning at the Casa Santa Marta in Rome. (Full text below.)

They say that the “professionalism” and “care for severely ill children” at Alder Hey should be “recognized and affirmed.” They also state, citing chaplaincy staff who work at the hospital, that “reported public criticism of their work is unfounded.” 

Noting that the Vatican’s Bambino Gesù hospital has offered to treat Alfie, they assert that it is up to “that Hospital” to make a case to the British courts.

Alfie Evans is a neurologically damaged infant at the centre of a dispute between his parents and the Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. Alder Hey wishes to remove Alfie’s breathing apparatus and commence palliative care. Alfie’s parents, Thomas Evans and Kate James, want Alfie to be transferred to the Bambino Gesù hospital in Italy. On Monday, they lost their bid at the UK Court of Appeal to have Alfie released from Alder Hey hospital

Alfie Evans and his father Thomas are baptized Catholics. Thomas wrote of his sorrow to the Archbishop of Liverpool after an Archdiocesan memo was leaked to the press, denying that Alfie’s parents were Catholics. (Kate James was baptized in the Reformed tradition.) 

Yesterday morning,  Francesco Cavina, the Bishop of Carfi, received a request from Liverpool that Pope Francis would meet with Thomas Evans. Evans arrived in Rome this morning and had an “emotional” meeting with the Holy Father. Pope Francis praised the young father for his courage and said it resembled the love of God in His reluctance to lose any of His children. 

Italian newspaper La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana has reported that Pope Francis has opened diplomatic channels “so that all initiatives be taken to transfer the child to the Bambino Gesù in Rome.”  

Alder Hey children’s hospital has been praised again and again by judges in the UK’s court system. However, it does not have an unblemished reputation. In 1999, it was at the center of scandal in which it was discovered that the children’s hospital, like other NHS facilities, had been retaining the organs and other tissues of deceased children without seeking their parents’ permission. 

***

Statement on case of Alfie Evans from Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales

Our hearts go out to the parents of Alfie Evans and our prayers are for him and with them as they try to do all they can to care for their son.

We affirm our conviction that all those who are and have been taking the agonising decisions regarding the care of Alfie Evans act with integrity and for Alfie's good as they see it.

The professionalism and care for severely ill children shown at Alder Hey Hospital is to be recognised and affirmed. We know that recently reported public criticism of their work is unfounded as our chaplaincy care for the staff, and indeed offered to the family, has been consistently provided.

We note the offer of the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome to care for Alfie Evans. It is for that Hospital to present to the British Courts, where crucial decisions in conflicts of opinion have to be taken, the medical reasons for an exception to be made in this tragic case.

With the Holy Father, we pray that, with love and realism, everything will be done to accompany Alfie and his parents in their deep suffering.

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Stormy Daniels pledges $130K to Planned Parenthood if she beats Trump in court

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By Claire Chretien

April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The pornographic actress who received $130,000 from President Trump’s personal lawyer right before the presidential election, allegedly to keep silent about an affair with Trump in 2006, says she will donate that same amount of money to Planned Parenthood if she prevails against the president in court.

Stormy Daniels, who has made headlines across the U.S. for filing a lawsuit against Trump over a non-disclosure agreement she signed, says she had sex with Trump once. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, told porn magazine Penthouse she plans to donate the amount of money she received from Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen to America’s top abortion company. A “source close to Penthouse” told this to the Daily Beast, which reports that Daniels will donate that money in Trump and Cohen’s names. The interview with Daniels hasn’t been released yet.

Planned Parenthood commited 321,384 abortions last year. Undercover investigations have revealed the company regularly turns away women seeking prenatal care or ultrasounds for a reason other than abortion, aids and abets sex traffickers, contributes to the baby body parts trade, and helps cover up sexual abuse.

Through its sex-ed programs, Planned Parenthood encourages children to be promiscuous. It also dispenses birth control and transgender hormones and does not perform mammograms.

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Canada cuts Bible camp’s funding after it refused to support abortion

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By Lianne Laurence

LETHBRIDGE, Alberta, April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An Alberta summer Bible camp may have to cut staff this year after it lost out on Canada Summer Job grants for refusing to sign the Liberal government’s pro-abortion attestation when applying for funds.

“It just feels tough that the reason that we got … not approved is because of our beliefs,” said Jon Gartly, executive director of the Southern Alberta Bible Camp told the CBC. “That’s a tough one to swallow.”

It’s a situation critics warned of after the Liberals this year required employers applying for Canada Summer Job grants sign an attestation that their “core mandate” respects abortion and LGBTQ “rights.”

The move sparked fierce and widespread backlash from faith-based charities and non-profits, which protested they could not in conscience sign the attestation.

That was the case for Southern Alberta Bible Camp. It submitted a two-page letter with its application explaining why checking off the attestation box would violate its Christian beliefs. 

Service Canada responded with an email rejecting the application as incomplete and informing the camp that “the attestation cannot be altered or modified,” CBC reported.

The Bible camp, which is north of Lethbridge, has 17 member churches. But it’s not certain these will be able to raise enough money to guarantee salaries for all staff, and without the security of federal job grants, as many as six jobs for students may have to be nixed, according to the CBC.

“With the grants, we’re able to say you get X amount of dollars. We're gonna pay you this much money for this job,” Gartley told the CBC. “It’s just a lot more work of trying to find staff who are willing to come without a guaranteed salary.”

While applications to the Canada Summer Jobs program are up from 41,961 last year to 42,718 this year, the number of rejected applications skyrocketed from 126 to 1,561, the CBC reported.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended the attestation, as has Employment Minister Patty Hajdu, who insists the attestation’s phrase “core mandate” does not refer to “values and beliefs.”

Hajdu has made it clear she won’t change the attestation for 2018, wrote Barry W. Bussey of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC).

“We have been contacted by some 170 of our members across Canada who refused to sign the attestation. They will now have to either modify or cancel programs or be forced to launch emergency fundraising campaigns,” he noted on the CCCC website.

And while Hajdu said the attestation could be modified in 2019, that hasn’t dispelled the worries of Canada’s religious leaders.

After a delegation of faith leaders met with the minister in late March over the matter to no avail, seven of them signed an updated interfaith statement on the controversy.

“[W]e are extremely disappointed that the government has chosen not to make adjustments to the program for this year. This leaves hundreds of programs across the country vulnerable,” read the statement, signed by Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders.

And while Hajdu “indicated that changes will be made to the application for 2019 to provide greater clarity and precision,” it said, “many of our organizations remain concerned that the question of ‘reproductive rights criteria’ and other undefined values will remain present in the application form in 2019.”

Some critics have warned the Liberal government is using the Canada Summer Job attestation to lay the groundwork for denying church-based organizations tax-exempt status.

The Liberals have also decreed no pro-life projects will receive funding under the revamped youth volunteer initiative, the Canada Service Corp.

Meanwhile, Toronto Right to Life is in the process of suing the Liberal government on the grounds that the  attestation violates its Charter rights.

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Franklin Graham blasts Democrat: ‘Dangerous’ to make gov’t officials back gay ‘marriage’

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By Claire Chretien

April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In a series of tweets on Monday, Billy Graham’s son Franklin blasted Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, for his hostility toward CIA Director Mike Pompeo over Pompeo’s belief in man-woman marriage.

“So does holding a traditional view of marriage now make you inappropriate for public office in the eyes of some?” Graham asked. “That’s incredibly wrong—and it’s dangerous for the future of this nation.”

Pompeo remained composed as Booker grilled him on whether he thinks it’s “appropriate” for same-sex couples to “marry” and asked him whether he thinks sodomy is perverse.

Booker’s aggression toward pro-marriage Pompeo was reminiscent of a now-infamous jab Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-CA, made to a Catholic judicial nominee: “The dogma lives loudly within you.”

That Trump-appointed nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, was eventually confirmed and is now a federal judge.

The U.S. Constitution explicitly prohibits the enactment of a “religious test” for holding public office. “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States,” Article VI states.

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Trump blasts Turkey for prosecuting U.S. Christian pastor as a ‘spy’

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By Claire Chretien
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – President Trump has expressed his support for American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who is currently on trial in Turkey.

In a Tuesday evening tweet, Trump wrote that Brunson is being persecuted “for no reason.”

“They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is,” Trump wrote.

Brunson has been imprisoned in Turkey since 2016, when Turkish officials allege he supported a failed anti-government coup.

Brunson lived in Turkey for 23 years and served as Pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church. He is accused of “Christianization,” an alleged act of “terrorism” for which he could be sent to prison for 35 years.

This week, his trial took a “bleak turn” when the judge refused to release Brunson, sending him back to an overcrowded prison, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). The ACLJ reports that Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, of Brunson’s home state, and Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback were at the trial.

Brunson “may never touch American soil again unless the world intervenes,” the ACLJ warns, because a 35-year prison sentence would essentially be a life sentence for the 50-year-old Christian pastor.

In March, Tillis visited Brunson in prison.

“Pastor Brunson is strengthened by his love for his family and his faith in God, but his health has deteriorated,” the senator said. “He has lost 50 pounds and spends 24 hours a day in a cell with limited human contact...He fears the possibility that the American government accepts the indictment and forgets about him, which we will not allow to happen.”

Brunson’s trial will resume on May 7, 2018.

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Pope Francis takes first steps to bring Alfie Evans to Vatican hospital

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By Diane Montagna

Rome, April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis has opened diplomatic channels to facilitate Alfie Evans’s transfer to the Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome, after meeting with his father, Thomas Evans, this morning at the Vatican.

According to La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, the Pope has tasked Italian Bishop Francesco Cavina, of the diocese of Carpi, with maintaining relations between the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and the family, “so that all initiatives be taken to transfer the child to the Bambino Gesù in Rome.”  

The news emerged this morning, after 21-year-old Thomas Evans met privately with the Pope at his Santa Marta residence. At the meeting, Evans presented Alfie’s case and pleaded with the Holy Father that he be brought to Italy to receive treatment at the Vatican-run Bambino Gesù hospital (read Thomas Evans’ full statement below).

“We do not understand why our child amongst many more is being treated like this,” Evans said. “We believe it is because he is disabled and the U.K. wants to legalize euthanasia.”

“Please help us save our innocent child and give us the grace of asylum to keep our family safe and to stop all of this,” he added.

After listening to Evans’s plea, Pope Francis told him: “You speak well, Thomas, you are defending your son with courage, the same courage with which God defends his children.” 

Benedetta Frigerio, a journalist with La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana who was present at the meeting, told the pontiff about the heightened police presence at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool, and explained that the rights of other parents are also at stake. She said that, in defending Alfie, “we are defending all children and that is why we are asking you to take steps urgently.”

The Pope agreed and tasked Bishop Cravina — who made possible the private audience — with maintaining contact between the family and the Secreriat of State to find ways to ensure respect for the dignity of the child.

As Pope Francis bid Evans goodbye, he told him: “Thomas, hope is only found where God is.” 

Later this morning, at the end of the Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis called for a moment of silence for Alfie, and for Vincent Lambert, a 42-year-old Frenchman who also faces a hospital and state imposed death sentence (by starvation), against the will of his parents. Unless action is taken, Vincent Lambert’s sentence by starvation will begin on Friday.

The Pope said:

“I would again draw attention to Vincent Lambert and little Alfie Evans, and I would like to reiterate and strongly confirm that the only lord of life, from the beginning to its natural end, is God! And our duty, our duty is to do all we can to care for life. Let us think in silence and pray that the lives of all persons be respected, and especially those of our two brothers. Let us pray in silence.”

There appears to be new hope for little Alfie now that Pope Francis has opened diplomatic channels to transfer him to Rome. Yet a decision from the U.K. Supreme Court is still pending, and the bishops of England and Wales have come out defending the hospital.

***

Thomas Evans’ message to the Holy Father at this morning’s meeting

I cannot thank you enough for allowing me the opportunity to be here in front of Your Holiness today.

Our child is sick but not dying and does not deserve to die. He is not terminally ill nor diagnosed. 

We have been trying our best to find out his condition, to treat or manage it.

I am now here, in front of Your Holiness, to plead for asylum. Our hospitals in the U.K. do not want to give disabled children the chance of life and instead assisting in the death of children.

We now have realized our son’s life does not mean much to the NHS [National Health Service].

We plead to you to help our son.

Alder Hey hospital do not want to let Alfie leave the hospital unless he is dead!

Alfie is not dying, so we don’t want to take him out in the way the hospital wish us to.

We see life and potential in our son and we want to bring him here to Italy, to the Bambino Gesù, where we know he is safe and he will not be euthanized.

When Alfie shows me and his mum any sign of suffering or dying, we will enjoy every last moment with him, but Alfie has not yet shown us he is ready to go, so we continue to fight just as he shows us to.

If Your Holiness helps our child, you will be potentially saving the future for our children in the U.K., especially the disabled. We pray the problem we are facing is solved peacefully and respectfully. No child deserves this.

Especially not a child of God.

The judges in the U.K. have not told the truth about our son and his condition. They have listened to everything the hospital have said and agreed with them. But there is no real medical evidence to say Alfie will die, or that he has this form of disease.

Since Dec. 14, Alder Hey have asked us more than 100 times to remove Alfie’s ventilation, even when he came off the life support three times. Doctors in the U.K. said he would never be able to do this, but Alfie proved top experts wrong and they still pushed me and his 19 year old mum to let him die, even when he came off life support.

Alfie has been on life support, with a tube down his nose and throat, for 15 months. This is very wrong. He should be, and needs to be, on a tracheostomy. This is clinically and professionally very wrong.

We do not understand why our child amongst many more is being treated like this. We believe it is because he is disabled and the U.K. wants to legalize euthanasia.

Please help us save our innocent child and give us the grace of asylum to keep our family safe and to stop all of this.

The hospital are depriving us from sleep and not allowing us to sleep with our own son we have to sit in a chair all night with him to comfort and protect him. 

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News,

Alfie Evans’ dad flies to Rome, pleads with Pope Francis to save son’s life

By Dorothy Cummings McLean

VATICAN CITY, April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis met with Alfie Evans’ father Thomas at the Vatican today. 

The Pope received Thomas Evans, 21, in private audience at his residence, in the Casa Santa Marta, this morning before the Wednesday general audience. Evans was accompanied by a translator and a journalist from an Italian newspaper. 

Both Evans and his son are baptized Roman Catholics. 

The 9 a.m. meeting lasted 20 minutes and was organized by Bishop Francesco Cavina of the Italian diocese of Carpi. 

After listening to Thomas Evans’ plea, the Pope told him: “You speak well, Thomas, you are defending your son with courage, the same courage with which God defends his children...”.

He also tasked Bishop Cavina with maintaining relations between the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and the family “so that all initiatives be taken to transfer the child to the Bambin Gesù in Rome,” La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana has reported

The Evans family has released Tom Evans’ appeal to the Pope. (Full text below.) Evans told Pope Francis that his child was “sick but not dying and does not deserve to die,” and asked the pontiff to give Alfie asylum. 

“We have now realized our son’s life does not mean much to the NHS [National Health Service],” Evans said. “We [beg] you to help our son. Alder Hey do not want to let Alfie leave the hospital unless he is dead! Alfie is not dying, so we don’t want to take him out in the way the hospital wish us to.”

Evans explained that he and Alfie’s mother want to bring him to the Vatican’s children’s hospital, the Bambino Gesù, “where we know he is safe and he will not be euthanized.”

The Bambino Gesù hospital has already agreed to take Alfie and provide him with full care.

The young father contested the British judges impartiality, saying that they listened to everything the hospital said and agreed with them. Evans said that there was “no real medical evidence” that Alfie is dying.

He also criticized the hospital’s treatment of the infant, saying that it is “clinically and professionally very wrong.” Evans then said he believed Alfie was being treated in this fashion because he is disabled and the United Kingdom wishes to legalize euthanasia. 

“Please help us save our innocent child and give him the grace of asylum to keep our family safe and to stop all of this,” he told the Holy Father. “The hospital [staff] are depriving us [of] sleep and not allowing us to sleep with our own son; we have to sit in a chair with him all night to comfort and protect him.” 

Pope Francis has previously shown support for the hospitalized infant. On Sunday April 15, the pontiff mentioned Alfie to pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square, saying:

“I entrust to your prayer people such as Vincent Lambert in France, little Alfie Evans in England, and others in different countries who live, sometimes for a long period, in a state of grave illness, medically assisted for their basic needs.”

“These are difficult situations, very painful and complex,” he continued. “Let us pray that every sick person will always be respected in their dignity and cared for in a way adapted to their condition, with the joint efforts of families, doctors and other health care workers, and with great respect for life.”

Thomas Evans and his partner Kate James are locked in a struggle with the Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation and the British courts over Alfie’s fate. The children’s hospital says that Alfie has a severe and progressive neurological disorder that has almost destroyed his brain. It petitioned the courts for permission to remove Alfie’s life support against the will of his parents.

On February 20, Mr Justice Hayden ruled that it was in Alfie’s best interests for the hospital to cease treatment, remove Alfie’s ventilator, and begin palliative care.  Since then Evans and James have fought the case through the UK court system and before the Court of European Human Rights, to no avail. 

Alfie’s parents wish Alfie to be airlifted from the Liverpool hospital to the Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome, where a team of medical professionals are willing to continue his care. The famous children’s hospital belongs to the Vatican. This week, after a panel of three justices at the UK Court of Appeal in London rejected Evans’ application to have his son released from Alder Hey, Alfie’s parents brought an appeal of that decision before the UK Supreme Court.

Until now, Pope Francis as not made a public statement placing himself on either side during the ongoing dispute.

Tom Evans made an appeal to Pope Francis on Monday through Evan’s local ordinary, the Archbishop of Liverpool. In response to a leaked internal memo of the archdiocese denying that he was a Catholic, Evans expressed “sorrow”:

“My greatest sorrow results from not having been recognized as a child of Holy Mother Church,” he wrote to Archbishop McMahon. “I am Catholic, I was baptised and confirmed and I’m looking to you as my shepherd and to the Holy Father as the vicar of Jesus Christ on earth.

“That’s why I knocked on the Church’s door asking for help in order to save my son from being euthanised,” he continued. 

Thousands of people calling themselves “Alfie’s Army” have sided with Alfie’s parents against the hospital. Since Evans attempted to remove his child from the hospital on Thursday, there have been daily rallies and prayer vigils outside the hospital, swelling to as many as a thousand on Thursday night. 

Responding to unsubstantiated claims that staff, patients, and parents have experienced “intimidation” from protesters, Evans has asked for the gatherings to cease for now. 

***

Full Text of Tom Evans’ Message Delivered to the Holy Father (first released in English by the National Catholic Register on Wednesday, April 18, 2018)

I cannot thank you enough for allowing me the opportunity to be here in front of Your Holiness today.

Our child is sick but not dying and does not deserve to die. He is not terminally ill nor diagnosed. 

We have been trying our best to find out his condition, to treat or manage it.

I am now here, in front of Your Holiness, to plea for asylum. Our hospitals in the U.K. do not want to give disabled children the chance of life and instead assisting in the death of children.

We now have realized our son’s life does not mean much to the NHS [National Health Service].

We plea to you to help our son.

Alder Hey hospital do not want to let Alfie leave the hospital unless he is dead!

Alfie is not dying, so we don’t want to take him out in the way the hospital wish us to.

We see life and potential in our son and we want to bring him here to Italy, to the Bambino Gesù, where we know he is safe and he will not be euthanized.

When Alfie shows me and his mum any sign of suffering or dying, we will enjoy every last moment with him, but Alfie has not yet shown us he is ready to go, so we continue to fight just as he shows us to.

If Your Holiness helps our child, you will be potentially saving the future for our children in the U.K., especially the disabled. We pray the problem we are facing is solved peacefully and respectfully. No child deserves this.

Especially not a child of God.

The judges in the U.K. have not told the truth about our son and his condition. They have listened to everything the hospital have said and agreed with them. But there is no real medical evidence to say Alfie will die, or that he has this form of disease.

Since Dec. 14, Alder Hey have asked us more than 100 times to remove Alfie’s ventilation, even when he came off the life support three times. Doctors in the U.K. said he would never be able to do this, but Alfie proved top experts wrong and they still pushed me and his 19 year old mum to let him die, even when he came off life support.

Alfie has been on life support, with a tube down his nose and throat, for 15 months. This is very wrong. He should be, and needs to be, on a tracheostomy. This is clinically and professionally very wrong.

We do not understand why our child amongst many more are being treated like this. We believe it is because he is disabled and the U.K. want to legalize euthanasia.

Please help us save our innocent child and give us the grace of asylum to keep our family safe and to stop all of this.

The hospital are depriving us from sleep and not allowing us to sleep with our own son we have to sit in a chair all night with him to comfort and protect him.

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CEC for Life

Opinion,

Abortion mills wreaking havoc in Alabama. What will the Health Department do?

CEC for Life
By

April 18, 2018 (CEC for Life) – A recent deficiency report from the Alabama Department of Public Health reveals that yet another abortion clinic in the state has been found failing to report sexual abuse.  This is the third clinic (there are currently only five in the state) that has demonstrated no regard for young girls who are obvious victims of abuse or neglect.

Citizens are growing more and more concerned that Alabama abortion providers are willfully giving cover to sexual predators – and that the state is letting them.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF BIRMINGHAM (2009-2011)

The first evidence of covering up child abuse came in 2009 – revealed only after a national story broke from the investigative group Live Action.  Planned Parenthood of Birmingham had been one of many clinics that the group investigated.  When the news broke, ADPH responded with an on-site inspection.

The deficiency report that followed showed serious missteps in Planned Parenthood's dealings with minors.  Nine different medical records – all minors – revealed the clinic was failing miserably to report abuse or even obtain a signature from a guardian.

One record in particular revealed a 13-year-old girl who came in for two abortions within four months, each time reporting that she became sexually active at 12-years-old.  She also reported having three partners in the last year.  Planned Parenthood never inquired about possible abuse and never reported her case to officials.

When ADPH asked one employee why she didn't report the case, she said the 13-year-old "never gave her any reason to think she was neglected."

By 2010, Planned Parenthood was placed on a year-long probation – a slap on the wrist, since Alabama law actually states that it is a crime punishable by jail time for a health professional to "knowingly fail" to report abuse of a minor.  Planned Parenthood failed to report at least nine.  Possibly more if ADPH had reviewed more records.

However, with just the evidence on hand, ADPH certainly had the authority and duty to revoke this clinic's license immediately, providing some degree of justice for these young girls left alone with possible abusers, and establishing a "no tolerance" policy for abortion providers protecting sexual predators.  ADPH chose not to do any of that, and just a few years later Alabama could see the effects of that leniency.

PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF MOBILE (2014-2015)

After no serious repercussions for its Birmingham affiliate, Planned Parenthood of Mobile was soon found doing the exact same thing.  An on-site inspection in November 2014 revealed this facility was failing to report child abuse.

Medical records confirmed that in April 2014, a 14-year-old girl presented at Planned Parenthood Mobile seeking abortion.  She had two living children already.  Obvious red flags for abuse, but nothing in the clinic records note any degree of suspicion, or even questioning about the age of the father.  Instead, the abortion was performed.

Four months later, this young girl returned for a second abortion.  Again, no notes about suspicion of abuse.  No questions about the father and certainly no reporting.  Mobile performed the second abortion and told no one – abandoning this girl to a possible abuser, just as Planned Parenthood of Birmingham had often done.

Tell Congress to keep their promise and defund Planned Parenthood. Sign the petition here!

Again, ADPH had the authority and duty to shut this clinic down immediately and even revoke its license.  But, instead, not only did the Department fail to discipline this clinic (it was not even put on probation); it also failed to make the report public for nearly a year.  The deficiency report from November 2014 was not posted on a public forum until August 2015, well after the one-year statute of limitation for the crime of failing to report abuse – if anyone in the state had actually been willing to prosecute.

It's also important to note that, had the public been aware of a second facility's complete lack of regard for reporting abuse, citizens themselves may have called for the closure of this clinic; or, at least the revocation of the medical license for the doctor who performed the abortion.  Again, ADPH – for whatever reason – chose actions that helped this clinic avoid any real consequences for breaking the law, and offered no justice at all for another young girl left alone with a possible abuser.

So, it comes as no surprise that the most recent deficiency report for the Montgomery abortion clinic reveals the exact same crime – establishing a clear pattern among Alabama abortion providers.

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SERVICES OF MONTGOMERY (2016-Present)

An on-site inspection conducted in January 2018 at Reproductive Health Services (RHS) in Montgomery reveals that in January 2016, a 13-year-old girl presented for an abortion.  At the consultation, she told the clinic she was 15-years-old.  At the actual abortion appointment, she brought a birth certificate that said otherwise.  The girl was actually 13-years-old, and only accompanied by an older woman who spoke no English, who the girl claimed was her mother.

Again, Alabama law clearly states that the clinic should have immediately reported the girl to the Department of Human Resources (DHR).  And, again, even if the law didn't say that, common sense should dictate – as it should have in every instance before this one – that this situation indicated child abuse, if not human trafficking.  But RHS did the abortion.  And, just like the other clinics, never told anyone.

Fifteen months later, in April 2017, the girl returned, pregnant again and seeking an abortion.  She was now 14-years-old.  Again, a second pregnancy in so short a time should raise a ton of red flags.  It was undoubtedly the legal obligation of this clinic to report the second pregnancy, just as it had been with the first. But there was no notation in the clinic records of even asking the father's age, much less suspecting abuse.

Even though this child could obviously be the victim of now two rapes, RHS told no one, and performed the abortion.  And it was not until January 2018, two years after the first abortion, that ADPH stumbled across the records during their inspection.  Only then, when clearly caught, did the clinic owner call DHR.

The question now is: What will the Alabama Department of Public Health do?  This is a third opportunity to finally enforce the laws on the books, to finally ensure that victims of abuse are not hidden away and coerced into abortion.  Will ADPH step up and protect its citizens?  Or will it continue to simply wag their finger, then look the other way while the abortion industry does as it pleases.

It is also important to note that, at this particular clinic, there is no public record of a single inspection in 2017.  Had ADPH conducted the January 2018 inspection one year earlier, it would have come three or four months before this young girl showed up for a second abortion.  One annual inspection – which should have taken place anyway – might have discovered the first cover of abuse, and completely prevented the second.

ADPH exists to protect its citizens.  If covering for sexual predators doesn't get your licensed revoked, can ADPH please tell its citizens: What does?

Published with permission from CEC for Life.

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Msgr. Charles Pope Msgr. Charles Pope

Opinion,

What if all our modern preaching rules are wrong?

Msgr. Charles Pope Msgr. Charles Pope
By Msgr. Charles Pope

April 18, 2018 (Community in Mission) – The first reading from last Sunday's Mass features an excerpt from St. Peter's first sermon. The contents of the sermon are very similar to others recorded in the Acts of the Apostles by Saints Paul and Stephen. What is interesting is that these ancient sermons break almost every rule (written and unwritten) of modern preaching! Consider the clip from yesterday and note the areas in boldface:

Peter said to the people:
"The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus,
whom you handed over and denied in Pilate's presence
when he had decided to release him.
You denied the Holy and Righteous One
and you asked that a murderer be released to you.
The author of life you put to death,
but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
Now I know, brothers,
that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did;
but God has thus brought to fulfillment
what he had announced beforehand
through the mouth of all the prophets,
that his Christ would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away." (Acts 3:13-19)

Apparently, St. Peter never got the memo that no invective is ever to be used, that it is a bad idea to use "you" instead of "we" and "us," that suggesting people are ignorant or even acting in ignorance is insensitive and demeaning, that instead of telling people to repent of their sins and be converted they should be affirmed and welcomed. Peter accuses them of unjustly handing over one who was holy and righteous and preferring a murderer to Him. They were too dull or ignorant to accept rather than deny the Lord's testimony; they put to death the very author of life.

St. Stephen does something similar:

You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit, just as your fathers did. Which of the prophets did your fathers fail to persecute? They even killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One. And now you are His betrayers and murderers – you who have received the Law ordained by angels yet have not kept it (Acts 7:51-53).

Jesus spared His listeners little when describing their sinful drives:

The Jewish people gathered in the Temple area said to Jesus, "We are not illegitimate children," they declared. "Our only Father is God Himself." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on My own, but He sent Me. ... You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out his desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, refusing to uphold the truth. ... The One who glorifies Me is My Father, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' You do not know Him, but I know Him. If I said I did not know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know Him, and I keep His word" (John 8:40ff).

Yikes! Such fire-breathing preachers would never pass modern preaching class let alone be ordained in a modern seminary setting. Yet Peter's sermon drew 3,000 converts and Stephen, though stoned for what he said, snared (or at least prepared) a pretty important convert: Saul of Tarsus. Jesus of course has had billions of converts!

There is an old preacher's joke that says, "Peter preached one sermon and got 3,000 converts. I have preached 3,000 sermons and have not gotten one convert." These ancient sermons and evangelizing tactics might not be in line modern notions, but they produced abundant fruit.

To be sure, cultural norms should not be wholly ignored. We live in times where "sensitivity" is insisted upon. Although I would argue that we have become far too thin-skinned, simply defying the current cultural norms may not be a great strategy in the short term.

In the long run, good preaching should mold culture and cultural expectations. We who would preach should have a role in reintroducing the biblical concepts that are often lost today. We need to reacquaint people with truths and realities. We must bring back words that have been lost: death, judgment, Hell, sin (venial and mortal), repentance, conversion, accountability, and consequences. We must move from mere abstractions and generalities and speak clearly to the moral issues of our day: abortion, physician-assisted suicide, fornication, adultery, homosexual acts, pornography, greed, unforgiveness, envy, deceit, and malice.

In my own experience, people are at first surprised – even shocked – to hear of these things again after a long absence, but they adjust quickly. Many are even glad to hear clarity from the pulpit again. Speaking to sin is the bad news that points to the good news and renders it even better. If we don't know the bad news, the good news is no news.

The kerygma (preaching content and style) of the early Church is often overanalyzed. Its basic message is quite simple:

"You've got it bad and that ain't good, but there's a doctor in the house and His name is Jesus. He is the longed-for Messiah and Lord. If you will admit your need and invite Him into your life through faith and the sacraments, He will go to work and save you from the mess you are and the mess you have made!"

The earliest sermons honestly, even colorfully, laid out our miserable state. Even we who like to think we're "good people" do some foolish and sinful things. We can be obtuse; we can have the wrong priorities. We can be just plain mean at the drop of a hat. We do have it bad, and deep down we know this and that it "ain't good." In that state, the mercy of the Lord can seem glorious and the medicine of word and sacrament can be precious.

Yes, the ancient sermons break all the modern rules. Perhaps you notice, though, that they were at the helm of a growing Church, and in contrast, we are suffering steady erosion. Despite our claims to be relevant, sensitive, and welcoming, we fail to connect with people and keep them. Many do not find our message compelling, relevant, or helpful. Maybe the ancients knew something that we have forgotten: "If you don't know the bad news, the good news is no news."

Published with permission from Community in Mission.

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Elizabeth Johnston

Opinion, ,

Illinois students facing radical LGBT sex ed indoctrination

Elizabeth Johnston
By Elizabeth Johnston

April 18, 2018 (Activist Mommy) – There is a pervasive plan on the left to prevent trans or homosexual students from being bullied by adding far-left, pro-LGBTQ education to the curriculum, or in the case of a bill in Illinois, to flat-out mandate it, starting in kindergarten, of course.

God forbid we actually hold children accountable to moral standards, embrace discipline as a means of cultivating good behavior, and teach them to respect and treat others with the respect and kindness they would want to be treated with.

You know, like biblical standards? Yeah, those got banned from schools long ago.

What's taken its place is an aggressive plan to indoctrinate every student in America with highly ideological rhetoric that completely alienates students and families who have a religious objection to homosexual lifestyles and transgenderism.

This is the definition of cultural Marxism.

In Illinois, this agenda has taken the form of the so-called "Inclusive Curriculum," which will be mandated by bills SB 3249 and HB 5596, if they pass.

"If passed, this indoctrination bill will require that any 'book or book substitute that will be used as a text or text substitute' in grades K-12 include the 'role and contributions' of homosexuals and of men and women who adopt opposite-sex personas (also known deceptively as 'transgender')," explains the Illinois Family Institute on their website. "In other words, all materials used in schools will be required to address the roles and contributions of people who define themselves by their disordered sexual desires and sexual behaviors."

They explain that, rather than simply teach about historical figures who happen to be homosexual, they will focus on the sexuality of said figures as a positive thing.

Save Alfie Evans! Tell the hospital to let his parents take him home. Sign here.

"Homosexual and 'trans' activists are not centrally concerned about ensuring that the accomplishments of Sally Ride, James Baldwin, and Oscar Wilde are included in curricula; they already are. Homosexual and 'trans' activists from Equality Illinois and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance are centrally concerned about ensuring that students know that Ride, Baldwin and Wilde were sexually and romantically attracted to persons of the same sex. Homosexual and 'trans' activists seek to transfer the good feelings children and teens have about accomplishments to homosexuality and opposite-sex impersonation. It's a ploy to render disordered feelings and immoral actions innocent by association with accomplishment," Illinois Family Institute explains.

The irony that this will be called the "Inclusive Curriculum" is rich, considering how many students and families will see their beliefs trampled all over as their children are taught that something that the God of the Bible clearly defines as a sin is perfectly normal and healthy and should be celebrated.

Sexuality has no place in public schools at all, let alone the glorification of sexual sin. Schools are quickly becoming indoctrination factories for the radical left rather than places where children learn the important educational tools they will need for the rest of their lives, in no small part to be able to form their own opinions based on facts, logic, and reason.

If you are a resident of Illinois, the Illinois Family Institute urges you to send a message to your state representative and state senator and ask them to reject this overreaching bill!

Published with permission from the Activist Mommy.

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Rev. George Rutler

Opinion,

Passive aggressiveness is not for Christians

Rev. George Rutler
By Rev. George Rutler

April 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While it is easy to identify bold personalities that enjoy a good fight, and others that shrink shyly from any kind of confrontation, psychologists do not find it easy to define the middle type that tries to control without seeming to do so. If it is hard to define "passive aggression," you can recognize the indirect expression of hostility when you see it at work: sullen, procrastinating, self-pitying, cold, and silent in a way that is far from golden.

It is wonderful that the Risen Lord did not say to the trembling apostles in the Upper Room, "I told you so." There is no tone of vengeful vindication or even the slightest condescension. He just serenely explains how these events had to be. The Lord has an assignment for the apostles, just as he offers each of us a plan for life. And he takes us seriously, asking only that we take him seriously in return. That is why he shows his wounds. They have not vanished in the glory of the Resurrection, for they are reminders that the new course of history will be fraught with challenges for which the Church must be prepared.

On June 28 in 1245, Pope Innocent IV convened an ecumenical council in Lyon, France, where he would stay for several years for safety from the emperor Frederick II. He opened the council with a sermon on the Five Wounds of the Church. They were 1) public heresy growing out of personal immorality, 2) the persecution of Christians by Muslims, 3) schism in the Church, 4) the invasion of Christian countries by unbelievers, and 5) attempts of civil governments to control the Church. Does this sound familiar?

Tell the Vatican: Stop censoring faithful Catholic journalists. Sign petition here!

In Pope Innocent's day, lax and immoral Catholics were trying to justify their lifestyle by "paradigm shifts" in doctrine, Muslims were terrorizing Christians in the Middle East, the rift between Western and Eastern churches was growing and would not be checked even by the attempt of a second Council of Lyons some thirty years later, Mongol hordes were invading Hungary and Poland, and the holy Roman emperor was claiming political authority over the bishops.

The French philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, said: "Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world." Having risen from the grave, he can die no more, nor can he suffer as he once did. But the Church is his body, and "inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these little ones, you have done it to me." Christ's supernatural agony is a triumph of divine love for those whose salvation he bought with his own blood. He is not passively aggressive, because his confrontation in every age is a direct one against "the Devil and all his pomps." There is no need for revenge, for to get even is never to get ahead.

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