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August 15, 2018




The Pulse

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Daniel O'Donnell
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Irish singer who voted for gay ‘marriage’ to perform at Vatican’s World Meeting of Families

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By Lianne Laurence

DUBLIN, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — With the World Meeting of Families set to begin next Tuesday, the massive Vatican-sanctioned event has been hit by yet another controversy around homosexuality.

Donegal crooner Daniel O’Donnell is scheduled to sing at the Festival of Families on Saturday, August 25, in Croke Park in front of Pope Francis and an expected crowd of 75,000.

But O’Donnell publicly declared he was voting for homosexual “marriage” in the lead-up to Ireland’s 2015 referendum on the matter.

Meanwhile, the Lumen Fidei Institute has organized the Conference of Catholic Families, an orthodox alternative to the WMF, to be held August 22-23 in Dublin.

Cardinal Raymond Burke will speak via live video feed about “Restoring a Pro Family Culture,” along with Bishop Athanasius Schneider also giving a video address on “The situation in the Church and the Secrets of Fatima.”

O’Donnell’s appearance at the WMF was red-flagged by Irish singer and devout Catholic James Kilbane.

“How can Daniel O’Donnell perform for the Pope when his Yes stance in the gay marriage referendum was directly opposed to the Catholic Church here?” Kilbane told the Irish Sun.

Moreover, O’Donnell’s views may have swayed others to vote against their Catholic faith, Kilbane asserted.

“I believe Daniel O’Donnell’s Yes stance in the referendum may have influenced many Catholic people to vote Yes in the referendum,” he said.

O’Donnell maintained that “I think everyone should be equal” during an Irish national public broadcast radio show interview in May 2015.

“I just feel we’re discriminating against a lot of people who feel their lives would be better," he told Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) host Ray D’Arcy.

“I can’t see anything on the other side that will be detrimental. All of the people who know they’re talking about are telling us that it’s absolutely no difference who brings up the children, as long as they’re brought up in a loving environment,” O’Donnell said.

LifeSiteNews contacted World Meeting of Families media director Brenda Drumm but did not hear back by deadline.

O’Donnell and Kilbane did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

This is not the first time Dublin WMF 2018 has provoked contention over perceived LGBTQ advocacy.

Notably, Jesuit Fr. James Martin, viewed by critics as an LGBTQ activist, is speaking at the conference, despite objections by orthodox Catholics.

Moreover, the initial preparation booklet the Irish bishops published included images of same-sex couples, as well as texts based on Pope Francis’ 2016 exhortation Amoris laetitia that suggested homosexual couples were “a new form of family.”

These problematic images and texts were redacted in the booklet’s second edition published after LifeSiteNews reported on the troubling original.

In May, WMF organizers issued a call for volunteers that used language critics said signaled LGBTQ advocacy.

“We want volunteers from all walks of life from across the island of Ireland,” the WMOF volunteer brochure stated. “We value and embrace diversity and seek volunteers from a range of communities and backgrounds.”

It then adds, “We only ask that our volunteers are sensitive and respectful of our Catholic ethos.”

Critics also point out that, astonishingly, abortion is not on the WMF program, despite Ireland voting to legalize the killing of unborn children in a May national referendum.

Moreover, in the wake of revelations of the homosexual predations of now-disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the sex-abuse scandals in Chile and Honduras — and Wednesday’s damning Pennsylvania grand jury report — at least one prominent Catholic has urged the Vatican to call off the conference.

"It won't happen, but the Church would do well to cancel the Dublin gathering and instead lead a two-day procession of public penitence for what has happened, in Ireland as well,” wrote Robert Royal in The Catholic Thing.

“And while we’re at it, instead of discussing LGBTs and varied ‘forms of families’ in Dublin and at the upcoming Synod on Youth in October, the Church should put such matters on hold, and clean up its own house first.”

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James Risdon


54-day Novena for our Nation starts today in U.S.

James Risdon

August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Today begins the annual 54-day Novena for our Nation in the United States, a massive Catholic spiritual build-up for the Rosary Coast to Coast event in early October on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

"We are living in extraordinary times. Presidential executive actions, U.S. congressional and state legislation as well as court rulings at all levels up to the Supreme Court are in conflict with God’s laws; especially the disregard for the rights of the unborn, elderly and weak in our society and the attacks on marriage and family values," read the Novena for our Nation website. "At the same time society and government are becoming more intolerant towards biblically-based religious belief and practice. In conflict with First Amendment constitutional rights, persecution of traditional religious expression has reached unprecedented levels. We are in a spiritual battle."

Those Americans taking part in that novena starting on the Feast of the Assumption are being joined by Canadian Catholics undertaking a similar 54-day devotion, the Rosary on the Coasts and Border for Life and Faith, Canada.

A video for the American devotion describes it as preparation for a spiritual battle.  

"We are at war, ladies and gentlemen. A bloodless battle affects us all. Whether you choose to fight or you capitulate, no man is exempt, no woman excused," says the narrator in this video for the Novena for our Nation on YouTube. "Few recognize the stakes, let alone are trained for combat. But make no mistake. The cost of being a casualty is devastating."

Inspired by the Rosary on the Border in Poland and the Rosary on the Coast in both Ireland and the United Kingdom, Catholics across the country are being invited to pray together to call upon God through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary to heal the United States — and Canada — and bring them to holiness.

In the United States, the 54-day novena will end Oct. 7 in what is being billed as the D-Day of spiritual warfare with the Rosary Coast to Coast, which will include events at more than 550 locations.

“Powerful, diabolical forces are stopping at nothing to throw everything they have at whatever is good, holy and Godly in our society,” Father Richard Heilman, one of the organizers a campaign to prepare spiritual warriors ahead of this event, wrote earlier this year. “They are doing everything possible to tear down the moral fabric of our society, seeking the ruin of our souls and the souls of our loved ones.”

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Cardinal Wuerl addresses the congregation at the Mass for Life near Georgetown on April 21, 2016. Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews
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Archdiocese deletes website defending Cardinal Wuerl’s handling of sex abuse

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By Claire Chretien

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Archdiocese of Washington has deleted its website on “The Wuerl Record,” designed to defend its Cardinal Donald Wuerl as he faces scrutiny over his role in numerous clerical sex abuse cases during his time as Bishop of Pittsburgh.

“We created the site with the best intentions for it to serve as a resource and be helpful to the media with information,” Chieko Noguchi, director of Media and Public Relations for the archdiocese, told LifeSiteNews. “However, we heard the criticism from people about it and we took it down, and we are being transparent about why it was taken down.” now redirects visitors to the archdiocese’s press releases.

The original “Wuerl Record” website said it “highlights the child protection efforts of Cardinal Donald Wuerl during his tenure as the Bishop of Pittsburgh, from 1988 to 2006, and provides additional context not included in the [grand jury] report on Cardinal Wuerl’s work as a longtime advocate and voice on this issue.”

It contained a statement from Wuerl that read, partly:                                                 

While I served as Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and as our understanding of child sexual abuse increased, the Diocese worked to strengthen our response and repeatedly amended the Diocese’s safeguards and policies. The Diocese worked to meet or exceed the requirements of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the reporting requirements of Pennsylvania law. We showed pastoral concern by reaching out to victims and their families, while reporting allegations to the authorities so they could investigate crimes. The Diocese’s goal was to be transparent and accountable to the public, and to our faithful, for what had occurred within the Church.

Wuerl is mentioned in the 884-page grand jury report more than 200 times. The grand jurors found that Wuerl knew about accusations of pedophilia against priests but allowed them to remain in active ministry.

One case that is receiving much attention from Catholic media is that of Father George Zirwas, who was reported to the diocese as having molested underage boys. Some of these complaints were filed when Wuerl was bishop. Zirwas was later found to have been involved in manufacturing child porn based on religious imagery on Church property. He was part of a group of priests who “used whips, violence and sadism in raping their victims,” according to the grand jury report.

After being shuffled around for years and still allowed to function as a priest, Fr. Zirwas eventually was put on a “leave of absence” and moved to Miami and then Cuba.

In 1996, he wrote to the Diocese of Pittsburgh saying he knew about illegal sexual activity being committed by other Pittsburgh priests. In exchange for this information, the predator priest wanted the money he was receiving from the Church to be increased.

Wuerl responded saying Zirwas was to either send him the names of these predator priests, or state the exact opposite of what Zirwas had just claimed – that he knew nothing about pedophile priests in the diocese.

Zirwas opted to recant his claim, and the amount of money he received monthly increased.

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Laymen launch website mapping McCarrick’s network in U.S. Catholic Church

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

USA, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic laymen have launched a website that exposes a vast network of high-ranking Catholic clergy and organizations that they say knew or should have known about the sex scandal of disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. includes a dynamic map illustrating the connections between McCarrick and other highly-placed clerics who must have, or should have, known about McCarrick’s sexual misconduct. 

The archbishop emeritus resigned from the College of Cardinals after the Archdiocese of New York admitted that there were “credible allegations” that he had sexually abused a minor. Since the June 20 announcement, several other men have come forward to accuse McCarrick of having sexually abusing them as minors, seminarians, or priests. Others have said that McCarrick’s active homosexuality is “an open secret” that “everyone knew”. But several high-ranking clerics close to McCarrick, including Bishop Kevin Farrell, have stated that they did not know of McCarrick’s unsavory reputation. 

The “Complicit Clergy” blog allows readers to explore McCarrick’s connections to other high-ranking churchmen and to examine the nature of these relationships. 

In a press release for the group, spokesman Michael Hichborn said there appears to be a “code of silence” among American bishops and cardinals when it comes to the sexual abuse of minors and young adults.

“Faithful Catholics are completely fed-up,” he said. “The clergymen closest to McCarrick would have us believe that everyone knew about McCarrick except for them. No way!”

Hichborn pointed out that McCarrick’s actions were not only grave sins but actual sacrilege, violating his vow of chastity and causing serious scandal to the Catholic Church.

“The only thing worse than McCarrick’s actions is that so many bishops apparently knew about McCarrick and failed to act,” he said.  

The “Complicit Clergy” website stated that the project was born of the frustrations of a small group of Catholic laymen disgusted that Theodore McCarrick had been allowed to abuse so many young men over decades. Calling the USCCB’s 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young people “a failure, possibly by design,” the writers pointed out that the bishops had consciously removed themselves from the scope of the “zero tolerance” policy.

“It was clear to us that the Catholic bishops could no longer be trusted to police themselves. We became convinced that a laity-led initiative was required to cleanse the Church and establish a culture of accountability,” states the laymen on the website. 

The “Complicit Clergy” website is a “first contribution” by laity towards cleansing the Church in the USA, identifying which bishops knew, or should have known, about McCarrick’s sexual misconduct and demanding that they resign or be removed from their offices. 

It includes a “bishop list” of McCarrick’s cronies, a petition to Pope Francis to take action, the “McCarrick Connections Map”, an aggregated news feature to keep Catholics informed on developments, a feedback forum for comments, a submission page for those who have new evidence that a bishop should have known about McCarrick’s misconduct, and prayers.

“Because of our vocations, roles and responsibilities, we have decided to keep identity anonymous [for now],” the website added. “Additional initiatives are planned to be rolled-out over time. We entrust our efforts to the patron saint of the United States, Mary our Mother. Mary, Queen of the Church, please pray for us.”

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Cardinal Sean O'Malley
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Cardinal O’Malley pulls out of World Meeting of Families amid sex abuse scandal

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By Claire Chretien

August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley has cancelled his appearance at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin on the heels of sex abuse accusations at his St. John’s Seminary and the revelation that O’Malley fundraised and traveled with Theodore McCarrick after his office received a letter warning of the disgraced now ex-cardinal’s predation.

O’Malley’s decision comes as Catholics protest the family event over its promotion of the LGBT agenda. Catholics have organized an orthodox alternative called the Conference of Catholic Families, to be held August 22-23 in Dublin.

“Though previously scheduled to moderate a panel presentation and discussion at the World Meeting of Families, important matters pertaining to the pastoral care of St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston and the seminarians enrolled in the formation program there require the Cardinal's personal attention and presence,” the Archdiocese of Boston said in a statement.

Former seminarians have accused the rector of St. John’s Seminary, Monsignor James Moroney, of sexual harassment, and O’Malley has placed Moroney on sabbatical while the matter is investigated.

O’Malley, who runs a new papal commission on child sex abuse, has “great confidence in Baroness Sheila Hollins, Ms. Marie Collins, Ms. Barbara Thorp and Gabriel Dy-Liacco, Ph.D., going forward with the World Meeting panel ‘Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults,’” the Boston archdiocese’s statement said.

The World Meeting of Families, scheduled for later this month, has already caused controversy over materials it produced seemingly promoting homosexuality and for inviting the radical Jesuit priest Father James Martin to speak.

Father Martin, a Vatican advisor who uses his large social media following to advocate that the Catholic Church be accepting of homosexuality and transgenderism, has been defiant about his planned speech despite petitions against his appearance.

Father Martin recently said on PBS News Hour that he doesn’t think there is more to be revealed about clerical sexual misconduct as related to adult seminarians.

“No, I don’t,” Father Martin said when the anchor asked him, “Do you think there is more to this in the Church with adult seminarians?”

“I think that Cardinal McCarrick’s case is really extraordinary…” the Jesuit responded.

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a much-awaited grand jury report on decades of sex abuse and Church cover-up across six different dioceses. The report names 301 priests accused of horrific sex abuse and the various bishops who were involved in keeping the cases quiet.

Other prelates slated to attend the World Meeting of Families include Cardinals Kevin Farrell, Joseph Tobin, and Oscar Maradiaga – all of whom are facing tough questions over recent revelations of sex abuse.

Some are calling this the “Summer of Shame” for the Catholic Church.

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Fr. Thomas Rosica. Salt and Light / Youtube
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Vatican advisor Fr. Rosica tells Pope Francis’ critics to ‘go to confession’

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By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Fr. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican advisor and CEO of television network “Salt and Light,” is lashing out at critics of Pope Francis following Rosica’s recent public admission that Francis “breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants" and that Francis rules as “an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.”

In a rebuke to those who have cited Rosica’s article as evidence that Francis is seeking to undermine and even alter the Catholic faith, Rosica told critics to “go to confession” in an angry tweet that implied that his article had somehow been taken out of context.

“For those who have not read the full text [of the article] & go about your daily work of condemning, maligning & distorting anything about @Pontifex, here's the link to the full text: "The Ignatian Qualities of the Petrine Ministry of Pope Francis …. Then go to confession,” Rosica tweeted.

Rosica’s tweet was followed by an avalanche of negative responses from readers, who called Rosica’s remarks “papolatrous,” “idolatrous,” and even “blasphemous.”

Edward Peters, a professor of canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, tweeted, “When the Vatican's own English media attaché angrily dismisses critics of his plainly papolatrous remarks as "condemning, maligning & distorting" folks, and meanly adds that they need to "go to confession", well, kinda tells us all we need to know.”  

READ: ‘Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants’: Vatican advisor Fr. Rosica

Fr. David Palmer responded to Rosica: “You appear to suggest that the Pope is above scripture and tradition, both of which are part of the divine deposit of faith given to us by God. Therefore your article is seemingly blasphemous. It is you who need to go to confession.”

Rosica’s article (PDF here), which states openly what Francis critics have held for years regarding the pontiff, is surprising given Rosica’s close relationship with the Vatican and his strong support for the Francis papacy. It also reveals an apparent lack of respect for Catholic doctrine on the part of an influential cleric who leads a major television network, dismissing the authority of both Scripture and Catholic tradition, and calling adherence to tradition a “disordered attachment.”

“Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is ‘free from disordered attachments,’” writes Rosica. 

“Our Church has indeed entered a new phase,” Rosica continues.  “With the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.”

According to Rosica, Pope Francis has a “commitment to a ‘conversion’ of the papacy as well as the entire church.”

“It’s hard to predict what will come next,” writes Rosica, who calls Francis “shrewd” and imbued with the trait of “holy cunning.”

“The pope's openness, however, also a signature of his Jesuit training and development, means that not even he is sure where the spirit will lead,” writes Rosica. “He has said: ‘I don't have all the answers. I don't even have all the questions. I always think of new questions, and there are always new questions coming forward.’”

The article was seen as so outrageous that the news agency ZENIT, which regularly republishes Rosica’s blog posts, edited the piece soon after Catholic news outlets began to report on it, removing the references to Francis’ disregard for tradition and the Scriptures.

Rosica’s statements seem to confirm the assessment of Francis’ Catholic critics, who call the pope a “dictator” who disregards and openly subverts Catholic doctrine. 

Francis’ now-infamous apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia seems to teach that adultery between invalidly remarried couples is morally excusable and unavoidable, and that Holy Communion should be given to such couples, an interpretation that has been upheld by Francis himself. Such doctrines appear to contradict the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church.

His novel teachings in Amoris laetitia led to a “filial correction” of the pope by a large number of Catholic scholars, who called the doctrines “heretical.”

Francis has made numerous other statements that seem to contradict Catholic doctrine, including his apparent denial of the intrinsic evil of contraception, and his purported rejection of the Catholic doctrine of eternal suffering in hell. 

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China cracks down on citizens, scans handheld devices for ‘illegal information’

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By Calvin Freiburger

BEIJING, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Government surveillance against private citizens is becoming more sophisticated, intrusive, and widespread in China, according to a new report.

Technology originally developed to beef up security against separatist violence in territories such as Xinjiang are spreading to cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, according to a Reuters report published Tuesday.

According to documents obtained by Reuters, 171 police stations in 32 out of 33 official mainland provinces, regions, or municipalities have attempted to purchase handheld devices that can be connected to smartphones and scan their contacts, emails, calendar data, photos, videos, social media postings, and more for “illegal information.”

Originally tested in Xinjiang, the devices have been used in places such as traffic stops and are said to be part of the Chinese regime’s expanding crackdown on the dissemination of dissenting information. Since 2016, more than 129 million yuan ($19 million) has been budgeted or spent toward procuring the tools.

“Right now, as I understand it, only two provinces in the whole country don’t use these,” a sales representative at Zhongke Ronghui Security Technology Co Ltd, one of the companies that produces the scanners, told Reuters. “The smartphone has become the most important source of evidence,” added Wu Wangwei, an engineer at the company that trains police to use the scanners.

The one major caveat is that authorities cannot normally crack the security of the newest smartphone models, thanks to companies such as Apple working to maintain the safeguards of their operating systems.

Even so, such setbacks are generally only temporary, as police manage to “persuade” most users to surrender their passwords. “In China, it’s not wise to refuse,” a Ministry of Industry and Information Technology official told Reuters.

Xinjiang often serves as a testing ground of sorts for spying techniques and technology. Other tools to start there and spread beyond include surveillance camera systems, database software, and smartphone forensics hardware, an unnamed technology ministry official said. Those plans have not officially been made public.

Other “black tech” includes police glasses with built-in facial recognition capabilities, cameras that can analyze the way people walk, and drones.

On Tuesday, Breitbart’s John Hayward called the report a “textbook case of surveillance state mission creep, as techniques devised for what the Chinese government described as a unique emergency situation become part of everyday life.”

Hayward quotes a February Engadget profile of Xinjiang that depicts the region as something out of dystopian science fiction, with “facial-recognition cameras; iris and body scanners at checkpoints, gas stations, and government facilities; the collection of DNA samples for a massive database,” and more, to the point where “family members [are] too scared to speak openly to relatives abroad.”

The surveillance technology is so advanced and pervasive that many live in fear not only of what the government can do, but what they imagine it to be capable of, according to Nicole Morgret of the Uighur Human Rights Project.

The Communist regime’s comprehensive invasion of its citizens’ privacy is just one in a long string of human rights abuses China stands accused of by the U.S. State Department and international watchdog groups. Under President Xi Jinping, the regime also works to suppress Christianity including bans of online Bible sales, and has earned global infamy for forcing women to have abortions for population control.

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Christine Hallquist
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Vermont Democrats nominate first ‘transgender’ candidate for governor

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By Calvin Freiburger

VERMONT, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Avowed “progressive” Christine Hallquist won the Democratic Party nomination to become governor of Vermont Tuesday night, marking the first time a major party has given its gubernatorial nod to a transgender individual.

Hallquist, the former CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative, won 48 percent of the vote against three other Democrats and will face incumbent Republican Gov. Phil Scott in November. His campaign website touts both expertise in manufacturing and renewable energy as well as an array of left-wing stances, including legal abortion and a vague commitment to making Vermont communities “welcoming” to “historically marginalized groups.”

But the detail that has given Hallquist national prominence is the fact that he identifies as a woman, despite being biologically male. According to the Burlington Free Press, the 62-year-old nominee is married with three children and two grandchildren, and “transitioned to living as a woman” in 2015.

"I am so proud to be the face of the Democrats tonight," Hallquist told supporters at a victory party Tuesday night.

“Christine’s victory is a defining moment in the movement for trans equality and is especially remarkable given how few out trans elected officials there are at any level of government,” LGBTQ Victory Fund president Houston Mayor Annise Parker declared. Hallquist is one of four LGBT candidates running in gubernatorial races this year, all of whom are Democrats.

"I didn't necessarily think about what it would look like to win, but it is starting to sink in, the historic significance of this nationwide," Hallquist told CNN on Wednesday morning, adding that he is "proud and honored to be making history for the nation."

In that interview, Hallquist also claimed not to be certain “what socialism is,” admitting he did not “have the background to answer that question."

After Hallquist's victory, the Daily Caller highlighted a sampling of past tweets in which he displays hostility toward Christianity, equating “radicalized Christians” to practitioners of Sharia law and speculating that the perpetrators in multiple news stories about anti-LGBT violence or harassment “call themselves Christians.”

Hallquist also said some Christian evangelists were “just downright crazy,” seemingly unaware that the Babylon Bee article he had linked to was satire rather than an actual event.

In response to Hallquist’s victory, the Republican Governors Association released a statement sidestepping his transgenderism and “progressive” stances on social issues, instead criticizing him solely on tax policy.

RealClearPolitics currently predicts that the Vermont governorship will “likely” remain in GOP hands. Scott is a liberal Republican who has said he generally supports legal abortion, and in 2009 voted in favor of same-sex “marriage” as a member of the state legislature.

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James Risdon


Hypocrisy: Feminists back lesbian prof accused of sexual harassment, smear male victim

James Risdon

NEW YORK, New York, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Feminist scholars have rushed to the defense of a New York University professor who is a lesbian as well as a feminist in the face of credible allegations that she sexually harassed a male undergraduate student.

One legal expert has noted the hypocrisy of the feminists, pointing out that they have sided with the accused while going as far as to “malign the complainant.”

After an 11-month Title IX sexual assault investigation, German and comparative literature professor Avital Ronell was deemed responsible in May for sexually harassing Nimrod Reitman for three years during his time as a graduate student at NYU. Title IX, a federal civil rights law, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex — which addresses sexual harassment and sexual violence — in educational programs that receive federal funding.

Reitman, who is now a visiting fellow at Harvard, is a gay man who is in a same-sex "marriage."

According to excerpts of the final Title IX report obtained by The New York Times, Reitman claimed his former graduate student advisor sent him e-mails, calling him “my most adored one,” “Sweet cuddly Baby,” “cock-er spaniel,” and “my astounding and beautiful Nimrod.”

The former graduate student also reportedly claimed Ronell held his hand, e-mailed and texted him constantly, repeatedly touched and kissed him, slept in his bed with him, required him to lie in her bed, held his hand, and refused to work with him if he did not reciprocate.

Despite all these claims, a group of scholars, including such prominent feminists as Gender Trouble author Judith Butler, sent the university a letter in the wake of the Title IX decision praising the professor and dismissing the sexual misconduct allegations against her as nothing more than a "malicious campaign."

“We testify to the grace, the keen wit, and the intellectual commitment of professor Ronell and ask that she be accorded the dignity rightly deserved by someone of her international standing and reputation,” they wrote.

"We wish to communicate first in the clearest terms our profound an enduring admiration for professor Ronell whose mentorship of students has been no less than remarkable over many years," the scholars wrote. "We deplore the damage that this legal proceeding causes her, and seek to register in clear terms our objection to any judgment against her. We hold that the allegations against her do not constitute actual evidence, but rather support the view that malicious intention has animated and sustained this legal nightmare."

That defense of a professor found to have sexually harassed a student is not sitting well with many people in the wake of the #MeToo movement which has repeatedly called for all allegations of sexual misconduct to be treated seriously.

"Imagine that such a letter had been sent on behalf of Peter Ludlow, Colin McGinn, John Searle, Thomas Pogge or anyone other than a feminist literary theorist:  there would be howls of protest and indignation at such a public assault on a complainant in a Title IX case," wrote Brian Letter, director of the Center for Law, Philosophy and Human Values at the University of Chicago, on his blog

"The signatories collectively malign the complainant as motivated by 'malice' (i.e., a liar), even though they admit to knowing nothing about the findings of the Title IX proceedings - and despite that they also demand that their friend be acquitted, given her past 'mentorship of students'," he wrote.

The expert in legal theory describes the notion that Ronell should somehow be treated with extra dignity because of her international standing and reputation as shocking.

In Canada, though, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a self-professed male feminist, did exactly that earlier this year, deciding not to launch an investigation or apply the same zero-tolerance standard to himself as he had to other politicians. 

When old allegations of sexual groping a female reporter cropped up, Trudeau simply insisted he did not act inappropriately. 

Conservatives in Canada were quick to chide the Liberal politician for what they viewed as his double-standard. The Rebel Media, a conservative news website, went so far as to start selling T-shirts with Trudeau's face and the word GROPE emblazoned on the front

“Justin Trudeau thinks he can get away with sexually groping a young female reporter. He thinks the public will forget all about it over the summer – and he might be right,” The Rebel co-founder Ezra Levant said in a promotional video.

“Trudeau thinks he can brazen it out. I’ve got a better idea. Let’s remind him of it every day." 

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James Risdon


Abortion activists panic over pro-life billboard pointing out Canada has no abortion law

James Risdon

DARTMOUTH, Nova Scotia, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Abortion activists and supporters are in a tizzy over billboards that state there is no abortion law in Canada, saying the billboards are misleading and disappointing. 

“If you see a billboard in Dartmouth or elsewhere saying ‘Canada has no abortion laws’: (a) that's not true and (b) the link on the billboard takes you to an anti-abortion website. To be clear: *CANADIAN LAW PROTECTS ABORTION ACCESS*,” tweeted Jennifer Taylor, of the Halifax-based firm of Stewart-McKelvey. 

Taylor declined a request to be interviewed for this article.

In a Global News interview, Halifax chair of the pro-abortion Women's Legal Education and Action Fund Sarah Baddeley echoed those sentiments. Baddeley maintains abortion is regulated in Canada. 

"It's disappointing to see a sign like that come up because it's not true that abortion is unregulated in Canada," she said. "Fear and stigma can be really significant barriers to access for a lot of people as they make a choice that's right for them and a billboard like that fosters that fear and stigma by suggesting that abortion somehow exists in a regulatory void, which is not the case."

But Mike Schouten, director of the pro-life We Need A Law organization which put up the 33 billboards across Canada for a six-week blitz, says the pro-abortionists are quite simply wrong. 

Both sides agree abortion was decriminalized in Canada in 1969. Women could then get abortions provided their abortion was approved by an accredited hospital's therapeutic abortion committee. The two sides also agree that In 1988 the Supreme Court of Canada struck down that law as unconstitutional, saying it imposed unreasonable barriers to abortion access. 

That's where the agreement ends. 

Abortion activists claim the Supreme Court's decision created a charter right to abortion in Canada that has been recognized in case law. 

The University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine’s website states: “Since then there has been no federal abortion law in Canada, so it remains a right protected under the Charter, but is unregulated.”

But pro-lifers point out that the Supreme Court never created a “Charter right” to abortion. 

“[A]bortion has never been declared to be a ‘Charter right’ by the Supreme Court of Canada. In fact, the Court has specifically held that there is a legitimate right for Parliament to legislate on the issue, should it so choose,” wrote Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition, in a September 2017 open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Campaign Life Coalition states on its website that the 1988 Morgentaler decision to throw out the 1969 abortion law on the basis that it was “unconstitutional” “created a legal vacuum in which, to this day, no abortion law exists in Canada.” 

Lack of any abortion law means that abortion is guided only by policies put forth by various medical associations.

"The guidelines and suggestions they talk about by the Canadian Medical Association and the colleges of physicians and surgeons are not laws and doctors do not have to abide by them," said Schouten. 

Tabitha Ewert, We Need A Law's legal counsel, also maintains the Supreme Court did not determine there was a right to abortion when it struck down Canada's abortion law 30 years ago. 

"They struck down the old scheme expecting Parliament to pass a new abortion law," said Ewert. "The Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Parliament’s ability to legislate to protect fetal interests especially later in the pregnancy. 

"Since then, Canada has had no laws, either federal or provincial, governing when abortion may not be performed. If you phone the College of Physician and Surgeons of Ontario, as we did, they will tell you there is no abortion regulation, but it is up to each individual physician," she said. 

Prince Edward Island Supreme Court Justice Gerard Mitchell in a letter published in Charlottetown’s newspaper, The Guardian, agreed.

“None of the seven judges held that there was a constitutional right to abortion on demand. All of the judges acknowledged the state has a legitimate interest in protecting the unborn,” wrote Mitchell. “Even Madam Justice [Bertha] Wilson, who rendered the most liberal opinion in favour of a woman’s rights, advocated an approach to abortion that would balance those rights with the state’s interest in protecting the unborn.”

As proof of the lack of laws limiting abortion in Canada, Schouten invites anyone with internet access to read a story published in the Montreal Gazette of a woman who had an abortion when she was 35 weeks into her pregnancy, roughly a month before she would have given birth.

According to that Montreal Gazette article, the pregnant woman was first denied an abortion by the McGill University Health Centre based on the Quebec College of Physicians’ 2002 guidelines. She got around those guidelines by shopping around for another hospital in Montreal and was still able to get the abortion.

“The message that Canada has no abortion laws is an important one,” said Schouten. “In addition to polls … suggesting that 77 per cent of Canadians are unaware that we have no laws protecting fetal interests, this message is also one that abortion rights activists love to tout. But while some extreme abortion activists celebrate lawless abortion, it is our hope that having the facts will cause people to consider whether they are comfortable with the status quo or not."

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Priests: Why we’re urging Cardinals to challenge Pope Francis on death penalty

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By Diane Montagna
Fr. Andrew Pinsent

ROME, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Over 75 clergy, lay scholars and prominent intellectuals today took the unprecedented step of issuing an open appeal to the Cardinals of the Catholic Church, to urge Pope Francis to “withdraw” his new teaching on the death penalty from the Catechism, and to teach the authentic Catholic doctrine on capital punishment.

READ MORE: 75 clergy, scholars appeal to Cardinals: Urge Francis to ‘withdraw’ death penalty teaching

Here below two of the signatories, including well known priest and canon lawyer, Fr. Gerald Murray, and respected British priest and physicist, Fr. Andrew Pinsent, explain why they signed the appeal.

Fr. Gerald Murray 

The Church’s perennial teaching on the morality of capital punishment cannot be done away with, even by the Roman Pontiff. The Church has always taught that the death penalty is not per se immoral and can be applied justly for certain grievous crimes. This teaching is part of the Magisterium and is not subject to change or nullification. The Pope does not have the power to change the Church’s teaching on the question of the inherent morality of capital punishment for grievous crimes. The Pope cannot compel the faithful to believe that, while the Church taught in the past that the death penalty was a moral and therefore just punishment for serious crimes, now the Church teaches that capital punishment is per se a violation of human dignity, and therefore is an immoral and unjust punishment that can never be inflicted without offending God and man. Contradicting the teaching of the Church as expressed in the previous paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic Church dealing with capital punishment is not a development of that teaching, but rather an attempt to overthrow that teaching.

Asked how he would answer those who argue, against the signatories, that the language used in the rescript is ambiguous enough to leave open the possibility that Pope Francis is making a prudential judgment rather than changing doctrine, Fr. Murray told LifeSiteNews:

Pope Francis says that capital punishment is inadmissible because it offends human dignity. It is therefore in itself an immoral act, since it is never moral to offend human dignity. The church has never taught that capital punishment offends human dignity.

If Pope Francis had said, for instance, that capital punishment is inadmissible in our day because too many innocent people are executed, then it would be admissible in those cases where the guilt of the convicted criminal was beyond any doubt and was a certainty.

Rev. Gerald Murray, JCD is a canon lawyer and Pastor of Holy Family Church in the Archdiocese of New York. He is also a member of the “papal posse” on The World Over with Rayond Arroyo. He has appeared as a commentator on religious topics on various television and radio outlets, including EWTN, EWTN Spanish, Fox News, Fox Business News, MSNBC, NY1, Radio Maria, Relevant Radio, Fox News Radio and the Voice of America. He served in US Naval Reserve Chaplain Corps from 1994 to 2005.

Fr. Andrew Pinsent

I signed because Jorge Bergoglio has gone well beyond the powers of his office, forcing Catholics to choose between the perennial teaching of the faith, affirmed by Pope St John Paul II, and his personal views on capital punishment. Of course, the word ‘inadmissible’ might retain sufficient ambiguity to render a formal contradiction deniable, but then what does the revision add? If it adds nothing except ambiguity, then the change is retrograde. If it marks a genuine change, then the change is a contradiction and therefore ‘inadmissible’ in itself.

Fr. Andrew Pinsent is a British physicist and member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at Oxford University.  His most recent book is The Second-Person Perspective in Aquinas’s Ethics: Virtues and Gifts (2012).

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Jack Phillips back in court as Colorado demands he bake ‘gender-transition’ cake

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By Calvin Freiburger

DENVER, Colorado, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips’ June 4 victory at the U.S. Supreme Court failed to convince the state of Colorado to let him operate in accordance with his conscience, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) announced Wednesday.

Earlier this summer, the nation’s highest court ruled 7-2 that Colorado officials had discriminated against his religious beliefs while trying to force him to bake a cake for a same-sex “wedding.” On June 26, the Denver Post reported that Autumn Scardina filed a complaint against Phillips for declining to bake a cake that would be pink on the inside and blue on the outside, to celebrate his “transition” from male to female.

Two days later, Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) director Aubrey Elenis wrote a letter concluding there was probable cause to conclude Phillips had unlawfully denied Scardina “equal enjoyment of a place of public accommodation.” It ordered the two to enter compulsory mediation to reach an amicable resolution.

ADF, the religious liberty nonprofit that represented Phillips in his original case, responded by filing a federal lawsuit against Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper and the state civil rights commission, accusing them of ignoring the Supreme Court’s ruling and continuing to discriminate against Phillips’ faith.

The suit accuses the state of embarking on a six-year “crusade to crush Plaintiff Jack Phillips … because its officials despise what he believes and how he practices his faith.” It notes that the state previously admitted that bakers are free to refuse to create “specific design(s)” that convey messages with which they disagree.

Phillips and ADF are seeking an injunction barring the commission from further attempts to prosecute Phillips, a declaration that the commission violated his constitutional rights, and damages from Elenis for lost work time, profits, emotional distress, and harm to his reputation, the Daily Caller added.

“The state of Colorado is ignoring the message of the U.S. Supreme Court by continuing to single out Jack for punishment and to exhibit hostility toward his religious beliefs,” ADF senior vice president of U.S. legal division Kristen Waggoner declared. “Even though Jack serves all customers and simply declines to create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in violation of his deeply held beliefs, the government is intent on destroying him — something the Supreme Court has already told it not to do.”

“The arbitrary basis on which the state is applying its law makes clear that its officials are targeting Jack because they despise his religious beliefs and practices,” ADF senior counsel Jim Campbell added. “Jack shouldn’t have to fear government hostility when he opens his shop for business each day. We’re asking the court to put a stop to that.”

While conservatives and religious liberty advocates celebrated Phillips’ earlier win, others expressed concern that the narrow scope of outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion would embolden state bureaucrats to continue attempting to force religious businesses to serve LGBT events and messages.

ACLU attorney David Cole, who represented the gay couple that sued Phillips, wrote in the wake of the ruling that his side had “lost a battle but won the war,” interpreting Kennedy’s words to mean “states are free to require businesses, including bakers, to serve gay and lesbian customers equally, including in the provision of wedding cakes.” Cole went so far as to say “Charlie Craig and David Mullins could go right back into Masterpiece Cakeshop today and request a cake to celebrate their wedding anniversary.”

Just days after the Supreme Court handed down its ruling, the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld a Phoenix city ordinance forcing a local wedding invitation business to serve same-sex unions, claiming that “eliminating discrimination constitutes a compelling interest” and accusing Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski’s Brush & Nib Studio of engaging in a “a blanket refusal of service to the LGBTQ community.” Like Phillips, Duka and Koski maintain they happily serve homosexual customers but merely refuse to endorse same-sex “weddings.”

Phillips’ latest trouble “should be a warning to all those who are complacent in this one-sided culture war that this is not, nor was it ever, about ‘live and let live,’” Conservative Review senior editor Daniel Horowitz wrote Wednesday. “That these culture warriors are bold enough to approach again the one man who just won a Supreme Court decision in a similar case demonstrates they will not let us live until we not only accept but participate in every degree of sexual licentiousnes.”

Horowitz chided conservative commentators who declared victory in June for “plac(ing) all their hopes in the courts,” and said Colorado’s latest aggression should “prompt us to push in Congress and in state legislatures civil rights legislation barring any policy forcing private organizations and businesses to violate their consciences.

“You can’t turn around a bad situation unless you fight for it, and you won’t fight for it so long as you think you’ve already won,” he warned.

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‘Transgender’ child fights repeal of Ontario sex-ed at human rights court

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By Lianne Laurence

TORONTO, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An 11-year-old “transgender” child will be lead applicant in a legal challenge to the Ontario government’s repeal of the Liberal sex-ed curriculum, as liberal backlash to the Tory policy intensifies.

Toronto lawyers Marcus Mann and Mika Imai announced last Thursday they were launching a human rights complaint against the Conservative sex-ed repeal on behalf of a half-dozen Ontario families.

The application, which they expect to file within a week, alleges the sex-ed repeal violates the Ontario Human Rights Code section prohibiting discrimination in providing services.

Imai told the Toronto Star they are requesting an expedited hearing, and may seek an injunction to stop the repeal come September.

As well as the 11-year-old from rural Ontario, applicants include Toronto, Sudbury, and Guelph families who claim the Liberal sex-ed curriculum benefited their children, all of whom are under age 13, the Star reported.

Jake Somerville, a parent from Guelph, told the Toronto Star his son began transitioning to a “girl” in kindergarten in 2015, when Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals rolled out the controversial sex-ed curriculum — which teaches there are six genders rather than the two biological sexes.

“The school, the teachers, played a really big role,” in his son’s transition to a girl, he said.

Sudbury parent Sylvie Liard, who has a child she says is “gender non-conforming,” echoed this, telling the Star: “Going back to the older curriculum, where nothing was addressed, is unfathomable.”

Andrea Horwath’s NDP is backing the legal challenge, and the Elementary Teachers' Federation announced Monday it will intervene on behalf of the parents.

ETFO president Sam Hammond also said his union would “vigorously defend” any teacher who defies the government and uses the Liberal sex-ed curriculum come September, the CBC reported.

“Teachers will not be muzzled by a government whose political agenda takes precedence over the protection and education of their students,” Hammond said in an opening address to ETFO’s annual convention in Toronto.

More than 24 Ontario school boards have blasted the Conservative sex-ed repeal, Hammond said, and he urged them “to join us in this action by supporting teachers who demonstrate care and concern for their students.”

But Tanya Granic Allen, president of Parents As First Educators (PAFE), counters many teachers are “relieved” at the repeal. 

“Most teachers don’t want anything to do with the Wynne-Horwath sex-ed,” says Granic Allen, whose organization represents some 80,000 Ontarians, and who collected more than 10,000 signatures supporting repeal in a recent petition campaign. 

“They don’t want to sexualize their students, they know this content is inappropriate.”

As well as teaching there are six genders, the Wynne sex-ed curriculum introduces homosexuality in Grade 3, masturbation in Grade 6, oral and anal sex in Grade 7.

Granic Allen is adamant nixing gender identity theory must be part of the sex-ed repeal.

“We respect parental authority, and parents must make the best situations for their children,” she told LifeSiteNews. 

“However, just because one family has a child who wants to change sexes doesn’t mean that unscientific, controversial gender ideology must be forced on the rest of these children,” Granic Allen said. 

“Gender identity theory is unscientific and is controversial, therefore has no place in a classroom setting,” she added.

Premier Doug Ford promised during his election campaign he would restore the 1998 sex-ed curriculum and consult parents on a replacement.

But his government has stumbled on the file, with Education Minister Lisa Thompson initially saying some issues, notably gender theory, would still be taught, a statement she seemed to walk back later.

Deputy premier Christine Elliott then suggested in late July teachers could answer questions from students about issues not covered in the old sex-ed curriculum in private, “rather than a classroom discussion,” Canadian Press reported.

However, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association released a statement Monday on its website advising teachers to do no such thing.


“Despite the recent statements by Deputy Premier Christine Elliott, having these types of private discussions with students could result in investigation by the police, CAS, and/or OCT,” it stated. 

“This may result in criminal charges and/or loss of your teaching certificate.”

OECTA also advised members “to deliver the Family Life curriculum using the Fully Alive program, as directed by your school board administration.”

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Three states to vote on pro-life measures in midterm elections

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By Calvin Freiburger

August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – While abortion activists scramble to insulate abortion-on-demand from the potential fall of Roe v. Wade, pro-lifers are taking steps to expand legal protection of preborn babies in a post-Roe United States.

A total of three initiatives pertaining to abortion have made the November ballots for the 2018 midterm elections, according to Ballotpedia, all instigated by pro-lifers. Voters in Alabama and West Virginia will decide whether to add language to their state constitutions clarifying that they do not guarantee a “right” to abortions or abortion funding, with the former expressly recognizing the “sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children.”

A proposed constitutional amendment in Oregon, meanwhile, specifically seeks to forbid taxpayer funding of abortion. Pro-life activists finally secured a vote on it after multiple failed attempts to make the ballot in past elections.

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Such efforts have taken on a new urgency with the impending confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Pro-lifers are cautiously optimistic that he may provide the long-awaited fifth vote to overturn Roe.

Fearful of that same possibility, pro-abortion activists have taken steps of their own to codify and expand Roe’s provisions at the state level. Last month Massachusetts enacted legislation repealing the state’s unenforced, pre-Roe abortion and contraception bans, New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for codifying Roe’s requirements in state law, and NARAL has launched a campaign attempting to get U.S. House members and candidates to commit to federal legislation forcing states to accept abortion-on-demand.

In July, pro-life activist Rebecca Kiessling warned that pro-abortion groups in states such as Iowa, North Dakota, and Minnesota are filing lawsuits claiming a “right” to abortion rooted in state constitutions rather than Roe, preventing those states from voting on their own pro-life laws regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court does. Such efforts further highlight the significance of Alabama and West Virginia’s initiatives.

Alabama and West Virginia’s votes are not “about eradicating abortion" but rather "laying the groundwork” to do so after Roe, Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler told Fox News. “They’re playing the long game, because if Roe is overturned, states will be able to go any way they want to. But West Virginia and Alabama are good places for pro-life activists and legislators to sharpen their skills should Roe be overturned.”

The news of Kennedy’s retirement came too late to inspire initiatives in other states for this year, Elizabeth Nash of the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute told Politico, but 2020 could easily see more.

“Assuming that we have the same legislative and gubernatorial composition, then I would expect over half the states to be voting on abortion restrictions,” she predicted.

Excluding Massachusetts, there remain nine states that never bothered to repeal their abortion laws after the Supreme Court rendered them unenforceable. Another four states have passed newer laws that will automatically ban abortion upon Roe’s fall, and in all the rest the issue will be left to voters to decide for themselves. Congress could pass a national abortion ban as well, citing its authority under the Fourteenth Amendment.

President Trump has told pro-lifers he needs more pro-life Republicans in Congress to help pro-life legislation reach his desk, while pro-life activists have warned that Democrats currently hold an advantage over the GOP in party registration going into November. Pro-life activists fear that by retaking the House of Representatives Democrats could not only block pro-life and pro-family legislation, but potentially enable an effort to impeach Trump.

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Chelsea Clinton: Roe v. Wade freed women to add $3.5 trillion to U.S. economy

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By Calvin Freiburger

NEW YORK CITY, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton offered an unconventional defense of Roe v. Wade over the weekend, during an event dedicated to supporting the 1973 Supreme Court decision that forced every state to allow abortion-on-demand. 

CNS News reports that during her remarks Saturday, Clinton claimed even people unconcerned about preserving legal abortion on “equal rights and dignity” grounds should appreciate the fact "that American women entering the labor force from 1973 to 2009 added three and a half trillion dollars to our economy."

"The net, new entrance of women – that is not disconnected from the fact that Roe became the law of the land in January of 1973,” she argued. "So, I think, whatever it is that people say they care about, I think that you can connect to this issue.”

The daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton was the special guest of the “Rise Up for Roe” Tour’s August 11 stop in New York City. The nationwide tour is a joint project of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL, and the Demand Justice Initiative. Other guests include Democratic politicians Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Jennifer Granholm, top abortion lobbyists Cecile Richards and Ilyse Hogue, actress Alyssa Milano, and pro-abortion writer Jessica Valenti.

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The campaign is predicated on pro-abortion fears (and pro-life hopes) that President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, will provide the long-awaited fifth vote to overturn Roe and allow American voters to decide abortion laws for themselves. A promotional video features left-wing comedian Samantha Bee declaring that “now is the exact time to get maximum hysterical,” and ShareBlue media executive Jess McIntosh insisting it’s “not hyperbolic” to say that “if we overturn Roe v. Wade, American women will die.”

At the Washington Examiner, Becket Adams pounced on Clinton’s comments, responding by noting two negative economic impacts of abortion, the “drain that the average cost of obtaining an abortion ($300 - $800) has been on the U.S economy,” and the “cost of eliminating an estimated 60 million persons from the national workforce.” 

Almost half of all births are girls, as well, indicating that Roe also kept nearly 30 million females from being born in the first place.

Beyond the economic accuracy of Clinton’s claims, Adams found her focus “unsettling.”

“To endorse it as a money-generator is one step away from endorsing termination-for-profit,” he wrote. “And why not? If Roe added $3.5 trillion to the economy, then let's up those numbers! Let's do it and be rich! If personal profit is the real game – well, at least Clinton is being honest. So much for safe, legal, and rare.”

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75 clergy, scholars appeal to Cardinals: Urge Francis to ‘withdraw’ death penalty teaching

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By Diane Montagna

Note: Clergy and lay scholars who wish to sign the ‘Open Appeal to the Cardinals of the Catholic Church’ may submit their name and credentials at this email address: [email protected] Once verified, names will be added to the list of signatories.

ROME, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — A group of 75 clergy, lay scholars, and prominent public intellectuals have taken the  unprecedented step of issuing an open appeal to the College of Cardinals, urging them to tell Pope Francis to teach the authentic Catholic doctrine on the death penalty. 

The appeal comes just two weeks after Pope Francis ordered the teaching on capital punishment in the Catechism of Catholic Church to be revised.

Entitled An Open Appeal to the Cardinals of the Catholic Church, the letter (see below) was published this morning in First Things, a leading US journal on religion and public life, with a more limited list of signatories based on their own criteria.

Its 75 signatories include Fr. George Rutler and Fr. Gerald Murray of the Archdiocese of New York, respected theologian and writer, Fr. Brian Harrison, and Fr. Andrew Pinsent, a physicist and member of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at Oxford University. 

Also numbered among the signatories are professors of philosophy, theology, law, and history from Catholic institutions across the globe, including Edward Feser and Joseph Bessette, noted authors of By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of the Death Penalty (Ignatius Press, 2017). 

The letter begins by recalling Pope Francis’ recent decision to revise the Catechism of the Catholic Church to read, “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” 

The signatories observe that this statement has been understood “by many, both inside and outside the Church, to teach that capital punishment is intrinsically immoral and thus is always illicit, even in principle.” 

Catholics hold that while a pope has the right to clarify matters of faith and morals, he has no right to introduce new doctrines, or to contradict what the Church has always believed. They likewise hold that a pope must not seek to impose his private opinions on the faithful. 

The petition does not insist that capital punishment must always be used in practice for the worst crimes, since this is a matter which Catholics may freely debate. Rather, it insists on the legitimacy of the death penalty in principle, as consistent with sacred scripture and the constant magisterium of the Church for over 2,000 years.

The clergy and lay scholars call on the cardinals to advise the pope that he must “withdraw” the offending paragraph. They write: 

“Since the present Roman pontiff has now more than once publicly manifested his refusal to teach this doctrine, and has rather brought great confusion upon the Church by seeming to contradict it … we hereby call upon Your Eminences to advise His Holiness that it is his duty to put an end to this scandal, to withdraw this paragraph from the Catechism, and to teach the word of God unadulterated.”

It also advises the cardinals that they have a serious obligation to warn the pope in this way, in order not to fail in their own duty toward God and the Church.

According to the Church’s own law, competent Catholics “have the right and even at times the duty to manifest […] their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful” (Code of Canon Law, Canon 212). St Thomas Aquinas, considered a model for Catholic theologians, likewise held that: “If the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly.”  

The petition has been sent to the cardinals, because they are traditionally considered to be the pope’s own counsellors. There are currently 224 cardinals in the world.

Here below is the Open Appeal to the Cardinals of the Catholic Church regarding the death penalty, with the full list of signatories.


An Open Appeal to the Cardinals of the Catholic Church

By Various

Pope Francis has revised the Catechism of the Catholic Church to read, “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” This statement has been understood by many, both inside and outside the Church, to teach that capital punishment is intrinsically immoral and thus is always illicit, even in principle.

Though no Catholic is obliged to support the use of the death penalty in practice (and not all of the undersigned do support its use), to teach that capital punishment is always and intrinsically evil would contradict Scripture. That the death penalty can be a legitimate means of securing retributive justice is affirmed in Genesis 9:6 and many other biblical texts, and the Church holds that Scripture cannot teach moral error. The legitimacy in principle of capital punishment is also the consistent teaching of the magisterium for two millennia. To contradict Scripture and tradition on this point would cast doubt on the credibility of the magisterium in general.

Concerned by this gravely scandalous situation, we wish to exercise the right affirmed by the Church’s Code of Canon Law, which at Canon 212 states:

The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

We are guided also by the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, who states:

If the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Galatians 2:11, “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects.” (Summa Theologiae, Part II-II, Question 33, Article 4, ad 2)

Hence we, the undersigned, issue the following appeal:

To their Most Reverend Eminences, the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church,

Since it is a truth contained in the Word of God, and taught by the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Catholic Church, that criminals may lawfully be put to death by the civil power when this is necessary to preserve just order in civil society, and since the present Roman pontiff has now more than once publicly manifested his refusal to teach this doctrine, and has rather brought great confusion upon the Church by seeming to contradict it, and by inserting into the Catechism of the Catholic Church a paragraph which will cause and is already causing many people, both believers and non-believers, to suppose that the Church considers, contrary to the Word of God, that capital punishment is intrinsically evil, we hereby call upon Your Eminences to advise His Holiness that it is his duty to put an end to this scandal, to withdraw this paragraph from the Catechism, and to teach the word of God unadulterated; and we venture to state our conviction that this is a duty seriously binding upon yourselves, before God and before the Church.


Hadley Arkes
Edward N. Ney Professor in American Institutions Emeritus
Amherst College

Joseph Bessette
Alice Tweed Tuohy Professor of Government and Ethics
Claremont McKenna College

Patrick Brennan
John F. Scarpa Chair in Catholic Legal Studies
Villanova University

J. Budziszewski
Professor of Government and Philosophy
University of Texas at Austin

Isobel Camp
Professor of Philosophy
Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas 

Richard Cipolla
Diocese of Bridgeport

Eric Claeys
Professor of Law
Mason University

Travis Cook
Associate Professor of Government
Belmont Abbey College

S. A. Cortright
Professor of Philosophy
Saint Mary’s College

Cyrille Dounot
Professor of Legal History
Université Clermont Auvergne

Patrick Downey
Professor of Philosophy
Saint Mary’s College 

Eduardo Echeverria
Professor of Philosophy and Theology
Sacred Heart Major Seminary

Edward Feser
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Pasadena City College

Alan Fimister
Assistant Professor of Theology
St. John Vianney Theological Seminary

Luca Gili
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Université du Québec à Montréal

Brian Harrison
Scholar in Residence
Oblates of Wisdom Study Center

L. Joseph Hebert
Professor of Political Science
St. Ambrose University

Rafael Hüntelmann
Lecturer in Philosophy
International Seminary of St. Peter

Fr. John Hunwicke
Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

Robert C. Koons
Professor of Philosophy
University of Texas at Austin

Peter Koritansky
Associate Professor of Philosophy
University of Prince Edward Island

Peter Kwasniewski
Independent Scholar
Wausau, Wisconsin

John Lamont
Fellow of Theology and Philosophy
Australian Catholic University

Roberto de Mattei
The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story

Robert T. Miller
Professor of Law
University of Iowa 

Gerald Murray
Archdiocese of New York

Lukas Novak
Lecturer in Philosophy
University of South Bohemia

Thomas Osborne
Professor of Philosophy
University of St. Thomas

Michael Pakaluk
Professor of Ethics
Catholic University of America

Claudio Pierantoni
Professor of Medieval Philosophy
University of Chile

Thomas Pink
Professor of Philosophy
King’s College London

Andrew Pinsent
Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre
University of Oxford

Alyssa Pitstick
Independent Scholar

Donald S. Prudlo
Professor of Ancient and Medieval History
Jacksonville State University

Anselm Ramelow
Chair of the Department of Philosophy
Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

George W. Rutler
Archdiocese of New York

Matthew Schmitz
Senior Editor
First Things

Josef Seifert
Founding Rector
International Academy of Philosophy

Joseph Shaw
Fellow of St Benet’s Hall
University of Oxford

Anna Silvas
Adjunct Senior Research Fellow
University of New England

Michael Sirilla
Professor of Dogmatic and Systematic Theology
Franciscan University of Steubenville

Joseph G. Trabbic
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Ave Maria University

Giovanni Turco
Associate Professor of Philosophy
University of Udine

Michael Uhlmann
Professor of Government
Claremont McKenna Collegre

John Zuhlsdorf
Diocese of Velletri-Segni

Additional signatories:

Dame Colleen Bayer DSG, Founder, Family Life International NZ

James Bogle Esq., TD MA Dip Law, barrister (trial attorney), former President FIUV, former Chairman of the Catholic Union of Great Britain

Fr. John Boyle JCL

Judie Brown, President, American Life League

Fr. Michael Gilmary Cermak MMA

Fr. Linus F Clovis, Ph.D, JCL, M.SC., STB

Hon. Donald J. Devine, Senior Scholar, The Fund for American Studies

Dr. Maria Guarini, editor of the website Chiesa e postconcilio

John D. Hartigan, retired attorney and past member, Public Policy Committee of the New York State Catholic Conference

Dr. Maike Hickson, journalist

Dr. Robert Hickson, Retired Professor of Literature and Strategic-Cultural Studies

Fr. Albert Kallio, Professor of Philosophy at Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery, New Mexico 

Fr. Serafino M. Lanzetta STD

Dr. Robert Lazu, Independent Scholar and Writer

Dr. James P. Lucier, Former Staff Director, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Dr. Pietro De Marco, former professor of Sociology of Religion, University of Florence

Dr. Joseph Martin, Associate Professor of Communication, Montreat College

Dr. Brian McCall, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Director of the Law Center, Orpha and Maurice Merrill Professor in Law, University of Oklahoma

Fr. Paul McDonald, parish priest of Chippawa, Ontario

Dr. Stéphane Mercier, former lecturer in Philosophy at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium)

Fr. Alfredo Morselli, SSL, parish priest in the diocese of Bologna

Maureen Mullarkey, Senior Contributor, The Federalist

Fr. Reto Nay

Dr. Claude E. Newbury M.B., B.Ch., D.T.M&H., D.O.H., M.F.G.P., D.C.H., D.P.H., D.A., M. Med; Former Director of Human Life International in Africa south of the Sahara

Giorgio Nicolini, Writer, Director of Tele Maria

Dr. Paolo Pasqualucci, retired Professor of Philosophy, University of Perugia, Italy

Prof. Enrico Maria Radaelli, Philosopher

Richard M. Reinsch II, Editor, Law and Liberty

R. J. Stove, Writer and Editor

Fr. Glen Tattersall, Parish Priest, Parish of Bl. John Henry Newman, archdiocese of Melbourne; Rector, St Aloysius’ Church

Dr. Thomas Ward, Founder of the National Association of Catholic Families and former Corresponding Member of the Pontifical Academy for Life


New Signatories:

On August 15, 2018

Fr. Claude Barthe, Diocesan priest

Donna F. Bethell, J.D. Washington, DC

Prof. Michele Gaslini, Professor of Public Law at the University of Udine

Brother Andre Marie, M.I.C.M., MA (Dogmatic Theology), Prior of Saint Benedict Center, New Hampshire

Fr. John Osman, diocese of Birmingham, England

Fr. Alberto Strumia, retired professor of Mathematical Physics, University of Bari, Italy

Guillaume de Thieulloy, PhD in political science, editor of the French Blog Le Salon Beige

Marco Tosatti, Journalist, Vatican observer

Christine Vollmer, former member of the Pontifical Council for Family and the Pontifical Academy for Life

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Washington's Cardinal Donald Wuerl processes in for Mass at a March for Life Youth Rally. Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews
Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug

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Cdl. Wuerl mounts PR offensive in face of horrific PA grand jury report on clerical sex abuse

Doug Mainwaring Doug Mainwaring Follow Doug
By Doug Mainwaring

WASHINGTON, DC, August 15, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – As the Pennsylvania Attorney General announced the results of an exhaustive, nearly 900 page grand jury investigation into sexual abuse by hundreds of Catholic priests, former Bishop of Pittsburgh, Cardinal Donald J. Wuerl, released a statement calling attention to three words he says are unfairly attributed to him. 

At the same time, the Archdiocese of Washington (ADW) has launched a slick PR-driven website – The Wuerl Record – which appears to serve no other purpose than to protect the embattled Wuerl’s reputation.    

Over the last few years, current and former ADW employees have reported that the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center has trimmed its staff and important programs while beefing up its legal department. Perhaps we now know why.

The sweeping two-year long grand jury probe reveals sexual abuse against mostly adolescent males, with victims numbering perhaps well into the thousands over the course of several decades.  

Page after page of the report documents gut-wrenching sexual manipulation of young men and boys by priests.  

“Predators in every diocese weaponized the Catholic faith, and used it as a tool of their abuse,” noted Pennsylvania Attorney General (AG) Josh Shapiro at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. “These children surrounded by adults enabling their abuse were taught that this abuse was not only normal, but that it was holy.” 

The report alleges a long-standing strategy of “abuse – deny – cover up” by the six Pennsylvania dioceses that were the subject of the investigation: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton.

Wuerl’s name shows up in the document just over 200 times. 

“The pattern not only victimized children who were abused, it served a legal purpose: Church officials manipulated for their advantage,” noted AG Shapiro. “The longer they covered it up, the less chance law enforcement could prosecute [priest] predators, because the statute of limitations would run out.”

The report attributes a handwritten notation, “circle of secrecy,” on one of the uncovered documents to then-Bishop Wuerl. Wuerl headed the Pittsburgh diocese from 1988 until 2006, when he replaced now-disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in the nation’s capital.  

An ADW spokesman said that “portions of the Grand Jury’s Report … dramatically, disparagingly and, most importantly, incorrectly attributed the phrase ‘circle of secrecy,’” to Wuerl.  

Despite informing the Pennsylvania AG that the Diocese of Pittsburgh had “independently confirmed that Bishop Wuerl did not author or use the phrase ‘circle of secrecy,’” in May, and that “the phrase did not relate in any way to efforts by the Church to cover up allegations of abuse,” the AG “refused to acknowledge the mistake and refused to take any steps to correct the dramatic use and misattribution of the phrase in the Report.”  

While those three words may have been incorrectly attributed to Cardinal Wuerl, many troubling stories involving Wuerl in the Grand Jury report remain – and the ADW does not seem to be contesting those. 

A Church Militant analysis reveals that “Cdl. Donald Wuerl, former bishop of Pittsburgh, not only shuffled around notorious predator priests —  including one involved in a sadomasochistic pederast ring — he even paid one off in exchange for his silence.”

In one of the stories chronicling the abuses by three of the Pittsburgh Dioceses’ notorious pederast priests, the Associated Press and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported: 

Washington County District Attorney John Pettit, filed the sexual abuse charges against three Roman Catholic priests for allegedly molesting two brothers who were altar boys, and accused the church of foot -dragging during the investigation. 'It was not the spirit of cooperation we would like to see,' Pettit said, calling it 'minimal at best.'

Pittsburgh Bishop Donald W. Wuerl denied the allegation, saying, 'I think the diocese has made every effort to be cooperative.'

. . .

In more than 150 counts, Pettit alleged that the priests sexually abused the two boys from 1981 to 1987. The homosexual acts allegedly took place in a barn, a church basement, a parked car and at a mountain resort.

. . .

Some of the incidents involved whips, chains, drugs and alcohol, Pettit said. 

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Statue of Mother Mary in the Cathedral of Aveiro, Centro region, Portugal.
Peter Kwasniewski Peter Kwasniewski Follow Dr. Peter


Five lessons Mary’s Assumption teaches Christians about the road to heaven

Peter Kwasniewski Peter Kwasniewski Follow Dr. Peter
By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

August 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – With all the evils inundating the Church of Christ on earth, we can too easily forget to bear firmly in mind, as a consolation and as a constant spur to virtue, the single goal of all our striving: eternal life in the Kingdom of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the Church in her immaculate bridal and maternal perfection, with Our Lord, Our Lady, and all the angels and saints. 

The path we follow to get there is charity today and the pursuit of holiness. The beautiful feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the most powerful reminders of our glorious destiny and of the immense power of God to bring us home.

This feast teaches us so many lessons, but let us consider five of them.

First, our home is indeed not this earth, this mortal, perishable, sin-infested valley of tears. God in His changeless eternity foreknew us, fashioned us for Himself, and placed us in the garden of this world to till it and keep it, until such time as we are ready either to be advanced to the greater and better garden of which this world is a dim shadow, or to be thrust definitively out of all gardens because of our sloth, disobedience, and contempt for their beauty and the call of our Maker. 

Why—one might ask—are we first placed in a temporary garden for a short time before we can be elevated to the everlasting city of the saints? Material creatures such as humans are must achieve their end by steps, not all at once in a single act (as angels do at the beginning of their creation). The human condition, as God willed it, is one of growth towards maturity, growth in understanding and the gift of self. Our life on this earth, therefore, is a school of virtue, prayer, and love, a period of probation to see what we truly value and where we want to end up forever. We see that Our Lady was the best student in this school, the one who listened to the Father, received His Word, and gave Him freely to the world.

Second, our ultimate condition is not that of a ghost or an idea or an angel: purely spiritual. No, we are made up of flesh and blood, we are the crossroads where the visible meets and mingles with the invisible. The Word became flesh to redeem and divinize this rational animal, to perfect both its rationality and its animality. In the resurrected Christ, we see perfection of mind as well as perfection of materiality. That is our final destiny too: to be raised from the dead, with our flesh restored to integrity, and our soul reunited with our body—the human person God made from the dust of the earth and the infusion of His breath.

It is no different with the Virgin Mary: she who knew not the corruption of sin could not know the corruption of the tomb; she in whom the living and life-giving Word dwelt could not be handed over to the jaws of death. Rather, in all of the beauty of her intact, integral, and grace-filled human nature, body and soul, she was raised up to the glory of heaven, having already attained the resurrection in its fullness.

Third, it teaches us that the laws of nature, since they come from God in the first place, do not bind His hands or thwart His will. Our Lady was raised up into the heavenly places, contrary to what we call the “laws of physics”—but altogether in harmony with the supreme law of God’s will. She was taken up into another realm, a realm not measured by the motions of corruptible bodies and the time it takes for them to travel, a realm not contiguous and continuous with ordinary space and time. This is no different from what happened with Our Lord in His Ascension, when he was taken up and “a cloud hid Him from their sight” (Acts 1:9). That is the evangelist’s way of saying that Jesus passed from this created world to God’s own realm, His native land, mysterious and ineffable, hid from mortal eyes, but now opened by His Passion and Cross to those who are saved.

Fourth, this feast day teaches us the immense dignity of the human body, a temple of the Holy Spirit, which we should never defile through unchastity or impurity, deface by mutilation and body graffiti, damage by addictions or slothfulness, idolize through obsession with sports and fitness, or appear to hold in contempt by the cremation of its remains. The body is the worthy dwelling place of the immortal soul and of the Body of Christ in the Holy Eucharist; it is the worthy instrument used by God for the transmission of human life; it is the essential means by which we perform corporal and spiritual works of mercy; and it will be raised again on the last day. Nevertheless, the body is not that which makes us human or that in virtue of which we become God’s children: that is our spiritual soul, which gives life to the body and, through the sacraments, receives the gift of sanctifying grace. Recognizing the value of the body because of its ordering to the soul and to eternal life is the key to opposing so many evils in our world that actually demean the flesh.

Fifth, the Assumption tells us that Our Lady is close, very close, to Our Lord, that she sees our needs and intercedes for us with Him, as she did at the wedding feast of Cana: “They have no more wine.” She sees what we lack; she hears the requests of her children; she takes action for their sake, as any loving mother would, and the most loving mother most of all. And Jesus, who already knows our needs, as He knew the needs of the couple at Cana, willingly listens to His Mother, allowing her the dignity of cooperating in our salvation. The Assumption brings Our Lady closer to us than ever, because it brings her close to the Lord, who is present always and everywhere. We need have nothing to fear with so attentive a Mother, so generous a Redeemer.

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