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September 17, 2018


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Pope Francis John-Henry Westen/LifeSiteNews
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Public opinion of Pope plummets

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By Doug Mainwaring
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September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis’ U.S. poll numbers have dropped precipitously amid growing criticism by priests and laity alike concerning his handling of the sexual abuse scandals now engulfing the Church. 

According to a poll conducted by CNN, less than half of all Americans (48 percent) now have a favorable view of Pope Francis, down from 66 percent in 2017 and 72 percent during the early days of his pontificate.

The Pope has experienced a similar drop in popularity among Catholics in the United States, falling from 83 percent in 2013 and 2017, down to just 63 percent today.

In recent weeks, Pope Francis has come under fire for his silence in the face of serious and far-reaching sexual abuse cover-up allegations. He preached that “silence, prayer” are the best response to “wild dogs” who “don’t have good will” – apparently a thinly veiled reference to Archbishop Viganò's testimony.

Then during three of the pontiff’s homilies last week, he implied that clergy and laypeople who criticize members of the hierarchy implicated in alleged sexual abuse and cover-up are doing the work of the devil.  

Anger has reached a boiling point among U.S. Catholics, evidenced in letters addressed to the Pope and U.S. prelates and signed by tens of thousands of concerned women and men.  

Over ten thousand men have asked Pope Francis and the bishops to “purge the corruption” that is disfiguring the Church.  

And the highly influential association of Catholic business leaders, Legatus, has put its annual Vatican tithe of nearly a million dollars “in escrow,” citing the current crisis in the Church. Legatus was founded in 1987 and has 3,000 current members.

According to CNN, the poll was conducted from September 6 through 9 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults reached on landlines or cell phones by an interviewer, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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Archbishop Wilton Gregory | Fr. James Martin
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Atlanta archbishop invites pro-LGBT priest James Martin to speak in archdiocese

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By Doug Mainwaring

ATLANTA, Ga., September 17, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – A U.S. archbishop has invited Fr. James Martin, SJ — the most outspoken proponent of the normalization of homosexuality within the Catholic Church — to speak in his diocese.  

“Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta has graciously invited me to his archdiocese to speak,” said the Jesuit priest in a tweet, “so I will be speaking at St. Thomas More Parish (the Jesuit parish) on Sat. Oct 20 and at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the morning of Sun. Oct 21.” 

“I will be speaking on the same topic as I did at the World Meeting of Families: ‘Showing Welcome and Respect in Our Parishes to LGBT People and their Families,’” noted Martin in a follow-up tweet.

Faithful Shepherds has listed Archbishop Gregory as not upholding Church teaching on homosexuality. News broke last month of Gregory’s appointment of a pro-gay priest who heads a gay-affirming parish to be diocesan spiritual director for victims of sexual abuse by clergy. 

The parish of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the first Catholic church built in Atlanta, maintains a “Pride Outreach,” including running a booth at Atlanta’s gay pride week. 

“The Shrine has always welcomed all of God's children. During PRIDE week each year, we celebrate God's diversity by maintaining a booth in the park,” the parish website states.

It has sent a parish group to march in Atlanta’s Pride parade for years and it is registered to participate in the 2018 Pride parade as well.

The parish also offers GLBT potluck socials to promote “a connectedness within the Shrine GLBT community,” and GLBT couples potluck socials, which are “for GLBT couples who are in committed relationships for couple support by providing a venue for socializing with other GLBT couples,” according to the parish website.

A review on the Trip Advisor travel website rates the Shrine as “very Gay Friendly.”

In 2017, Fortunate and Faithful Families held their fifth annual retreat at the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, writes former homosexual Joseph Sciambra, who has since returned to the practice of his Catholic faith. The theme of the retreat was “Building Bridges of Love,” a take on the title of the homosexual-affirming book by Fr. Martin. 

The group is “an offshoot of the dissident Catholic pro-gay marriage LGBT ministry Fortunate Families,” Sciambra notes.

Several deacons and priests attended the Fortunate and Faithful Families retreat, and the music director from the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception led music for a Mass in conjunction with the event. 

“Many thanks to Archbishop Gregory and his phenomenal staff for their care and hospitality!” the group’s website states about the archdiocese’s involvement in hosting its retreat.

While the Catholic Church in the United States has been beaten down, gripped with story after story of predatory sexual abuse and cover-ups by priests and prelates—the vast majority of which are homosexual in nature—Fr. James Martin has continued to use his almost celebrity-status to continue to lobby for the Church to normalize homosexuality and transgenderism.

The Jesuit's record of pro-gay activism is lengthy and ranges from his many speeches and media appearances promoting homosexuality to his retweeting of a complaint that priests can’t “bless” gay unions to suggesting that the Church is full of “homophobia” and “marginalizes” the same-sex attracted.

He supports homosexual men kissing each other during the sign of peace at Mass, says that a Catholic attending a same-sex “wedding” is like attending a Jewish wedding, and suggests that his critics are secretly homosexual themselves.

Fr. Martin says homosexual priests should “come out” about their sexual proclivities, but has publicly declined to say whether he himself is homosexual.

Last month while speaking at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Martin delivered his pro-homosexual presentation to a packed hall, declaring that active homosexuals “should be invited into parish ministries” specifically mentioning them becoming “eucharistic ministers” in order to make them welcomed and accepted in the Catholic Church.

Over and over again throughout his talk, Martin spoke of ‘LGBT Catholics,’ reinforcing the notion that God creates men and women gay, lesbian or transgender. 

“They do not choose their orientation...You don’t choose your orientation or gender identity any more than you choose to be left-handed. It’s not a choice. And it’s not an addiction. Thus, it is not a sin simply to be L.G.B.T. Far less, it is not something to ‘blame’ on someone, like parents,” he said. 

Martin also said that "like any group, L.G.B.T. people bring special gifts to the church."

Martin undermined clergy and laity who continue to embrace the Church’s wisdom and best pastoral practices regarding same-sex attraction, saying, that “most L.G.B.T. Catholics have been deeply wounded by the church.”

The Catholic Church teaches that God created humans as “male and female” and gave them to each other in marriage so they could “increase and multiply.” Sexual attraction and sexual acts between a male and female are specifically created by God for the purpose of procreation. The Catholic Church is logical and consistent when she teaches that homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity” and “intrinsically disordered” since they are “contrary to the natural law” in that they “close the sexual act to the gift of life.” 

“They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

The Church also teaches that same-sex attraction is “objectively disordered” since God created members of the opposite sex to be attracted to one another for the sake of procreation.

Write to Doug Mainwaring at [email protected].

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Is Pampers dropping Sesame Street from diapers for being ‘too masculine’?

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pampers is facing questions over whether it has decided Oscar the Grouch, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Elmo, and the rest of the gang are too masculine to feature on its diapers.

According to the The New York Post, parents accustomed to the Sesame Street characters appearing on their babies’ nappies have been disturbed to find generic figures in their place. They feared the diapers were fakes, which goes to show how successful the 15-year partnership between Pampers and Sesame Street has been: in some parents’ minds, one now implies the other.

One parent was so annoyed that she made a complaint and says a representative from Pampers told her that the reason for the switch was gender-based.

“The Pampers rep said … parents who have daughters thought that the ‘Sesame Street’ characters are too masculine,” mom Susie Wong-Benjamin told the New York Post.

A spokeswoman for Proctor and Gamble, Pampers’ parent company, told the Post that parents wanted “modern, fresh graphics.”

“We talk to thousands of parents every year to understand how our diapers are best meeting their babies’ needs and any new trends they might be interested in,” stated Laura Dressman. “We learned there was a growing desire from Moms and Dads for modern, fresh graphics.”

But when the Post asked Sesame Street why their characters had disappeared from Pampers’ diapers, a spokeswoman sent them a link to a press release about Pamper’s “current support for our gender equality work.”

“The link was to a year-old press release titled ‘P&G [Proctor and Gamble] and Sesame Street partner to promote gender equality,” which highlighted the female character Chamki, “a vibrant, 5-year-old Muppet” who is featured in the Indian version of “Sesame Street,” the Post reported.

The Pampers spokeswoman then went on call the Post story “inaccurate.”

“As a proud partner of Sesame Street for over 15 years, we love featuring Sesame Street’s iconic characters on our Pampers Baby Dry diapers,” Dressman told PEOPLE. In that statement, she said Pampers has “always included a range of Sesame’s characters — male and female (although we know from research that children love the characters equally). This includes Elmo, Zoe, Cookie, Rosita, Big Bid, and Oscar among others.”

However, the removal of Sesame Street characters from their children’s diapers, for whatever reason, may be a plus for some parents.

“I wasn’t interested in getting [my daughter] Yvonne into Sesame Street because of the creepy ideological stuff,” mom Colleen Fimister told LifeSiteNews.  

In his book Primetime Propaganda, columnist Ben Shapiro cited Sesame Street as one of the TV shows that has a not-so-subtle left-wing bias.

“Sesame Street tried to tackle divorce, tackled ‘peaceful conflict resolution’ in the aftermath of 9/11 and had [same-sex attracted actor] Neil Patrick Harris on the show playing the subtly-named ‘fairy shoeperson,’” Shapiro wrote.

At three years old, Yvonne is Sesame Street’s target market, but she won’t be watching.  

Sesame Street celebrated gay “pride” month this year with a rainbow-colored crowd of Muppets.

Not to be left behind in the craze for all things LGBT, Pampers has hired a celebrated same-sex couple to be its brand ambassador in the UK. Olympian diver Tom Daley and his partner Dustin Lance Black, an American film director andLGBT activist, employed a surrogate to produce their son Robby Ray. The name of the Pampers range the men are promoting is called “Pure Protection.”

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Screen grab from leaked Google video showing employees reacting to Trump's 2016 election. Breitbart.com / video screen grab
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Top Google leaders vowed to alter future elections to avoid Trump ‘hiccup’: leaked video

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By Calvin Freiburger

September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Google’s co-founders and other top executives reacted to the 2016 U.S. election of Donald Trump with anguish, contempt, and resolve to alter future elections, according to a newly-leaked video of an internal meeting.

Breitbart reports that an anonymous source supplied the video, which depicts the internet giant’s first “TGIF” (Thank God It’s Friday) meeting after Donald Trump’s surprise defeat of Hillary Clinton. Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Senior Vice President for Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker, Vice President for People Operations Eileen Naughton, CFO Ruth Porat, and CEO Sundar Pichai are among those featured in the hour-long event.

Brin opens the meeting by stating that “most people here are pretty upset and pretty sad” about the election’s outcome. After joking about Colorado’s legalization of marijuana being a silver lining, he bemoans the “deeply offensive” election for “conflict[ing] with many of our values.”

Trump’s ascent signified “tribalism that’s self-destructive [in] the long-term,” according to Walker. “We all need a hug,” Porat says.

Google officials attribute a variety of disreputable motives to the millions of Americans who voted for Trump, including “xenophobia, hatred,” and “privilege.” Brin theorizes that Trump voters were driven partly by “boredom” with their “routine jobs,” which he claims was historically a contributing factor to the rise of “extremism” such as “fascism and also the Communist revolution.”

He also suggests some Trump voters were acting out of emotion rather than reason, because it “feels kind of good to just, like, give DC a big kick when you vote.”

Brin does acknowledge that Trump voters are a diverse lot with diverse concerns, and Naughton even admits that some conservative Google employees told her they “haven’t felt entirely comfortable revealing who [they] are,” though such recognition did not stop the company from firing engineer James Damore almost a year later over a memo criticizing the company’s culture of intellectual lockstep.

But while the confirmation of Google leadership’s political leanings has surprised few, conservatives are far more alarmed by the video’s multiple statements expressing a clear desire to use its resources to influence future elections.

Brin raises the question of how Google can ensure a “better quality of governance and decision-making.” Walker calls on the audience to “be in the arena” to “make sure” that what he calls the current period of “populism, of nationalism” is no more than a “blip” or “hiccup” in a “moral arc of history bend[ing] towards progress.” Porat tells the audience that Google intends to “use the great strength and resources and reach we have to continue to advance really important values.”

Specific examples that are discussed include making “investments in machine learning” and “conversation AI” to help combat so-called “misinformation, disinformation” and “fake news” supposedly disseminated among “millions of low-information voters”; increasing matched donations by Google employees to left-wing groups; and encouragement to read up on “privilege” and the “real history of oppression” in America.

One audience member called for injecting politics into Thanksgiving dinner conversations, and that leftists not “back down and laugh it off when you hear the voice of oppression speak through metaphors.” Every Google official on stage applauded the call.

The leak of the video follows a leaked email chain earlier this week, also from the wake of the election, in which Google Multicultural Marketing department chief Eliana Murillo explains how she expected the company’s Latino voter mobilization efforts to benefit Clinton. Both are particularly concerning in light of an internal memo from the far-left Media Matters detailing the group’s efforts to get Google to ban certain conservative websites from its advertising platform (Google has in the past flagged multiple LifeSiteNews ads for alleged violations of its policies).

Following Breitbart’s report, Google released a statement claiming that “some Google employees and executives” merely “expressed their own personal views,” and insisting that nothing in the video “suggest that any political bias ever influences the way we build or operate our products.” it did not explain the multiple quotes indicating a desire to use Google resources to prevent 2016 from repeating itself.

Despite its professed independence, Google has been accused of discriminating against conservatives in multiple ways over the years. Complaints include heavily biasing news searches for the term “trump” with results from left-wing website, and the Google-owned YouTube attempting to restrict multiple conservative groups, such as Dennis Prager’s Prager University, under false pretenses.

Google “needs to explain why this isn’t a threat to the Republic” when the video shows it believes they can shape your search results and videos to make you ‘have their values,’” Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said, calling on Congress to investigate. The company refused to appear at a Senate hearing on tech companies’ election practices, Breitbart notes.

It remains to be seen what, if anything, the federal government will do about political discrimination among social media and tech giants.

President Trump has called for unspecified regulations, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, has called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to review Google’s dominance of the search and digital advertising fields, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, has suggested repealing social media platforms’ special immunity from liability for publishing third-party content, and Rep. Matt Gaetz R-FL, has endorsed treating political discrimination as de facto campaign-finance violations.

Should conservatives and Republicans “start conservative companies and platforms to compete with them? Break them up under the Sherman Act? Turn them into regulated public utilities, with public employee-level salaries and no stock options?” PowerLine’s John Hinderaker wrote. “Those are all possibilities. After watching the video, you no doubt will be ready to take action.”

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Márton Gyöngyösi Traditional Britain Group / Youtube screen grab
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Islam isn’t Europe’s main problem, it’s leaders who’ve cast aside Christianity: Hungarian politician

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By Lianne Laurence

DUBLIN, Ireland, September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Europe will collapse under the current migration crisis if it does not reclaim its Christian identity, warned a member of Hungary’s national assembly. 

“Christianity is at the center of our culture and of our civilization,” Márton Gyöngyösi told participants at Lumen Fidei’s A Conference on the Catholic Family in Dublin last month. The conference took place August 22-23 and included speakers such as Cardinal Raymond Burke (video address), Fr. Thomas Weinandy, Dr. Robert Royal, Dr. Gerard van den Aardweg, LifeSiteNews' John-Henry Westen, John Smeaton, Edward Pentin, Bishop Athanasius Schneider (video address), and others. 

“I can say that Europe’s history is the history of Christianity, and res publica Christiana’ is what characterizes our civilization the most,” he added. 

And while massive Islamic migration into Europe makes up a large part of the crisis, the bigger problem is the failure of Europe’s leaders to recognize what is actually happening, he charged.

It’s obvious the “appearance of an alien religion at the border of a civilization is a threat,” Gyöngyösi said, but the “spread of Islam is only a negative consequence of Western nihilism.” 

The crisis is the result of the “self-destructive suicidal nature of our own decision makers and our own political and religious elite, which is incapable of recognizing the features and the character of its own culture and its own civilization.”

The 41-year-old Gyöngyösi is regarded as the rising star of Hungary’s opposition party Jobbik, or Movement for a Better Hungary, which he joined in 2006. Gyöngyösi, who studied economics and political science at Trinity College in Dublin, worked in Hungary as a tax expert before his election to the Hungarian national assembly in 2012. He has been foremost in Jobbik’s efforts in the last four years to distance itself from the more extreme rhetoric and actions of its early years and position itself as a center-right party.

“And we say, that yes, a European identity has to be defined and Christianity has to be at the heart and at the center of the European identity and of the European culture,” Gyöngyösi said to a burst of applause at the conference that ran concurrently with the Vatican-sanctioned World Meeting of Families.

Gyöngyösi said that while some politicians might be able to say that Islam is a “danger” or that migration is a “problem,” they wouldn’t be able to say “what values they stand for, or they wouldn’t say or state that they represent Christian values, and those are the values which their policies are based on.” 

“And this is the real problem, not the Islam threat,” he added. 

Gyöngyösi, who was vice-chair of the Hungarian National Assembly’s foreign committee from 2014 to 2018, contended that Islamic migration to Europe “is the result and consequence of bad foreign policy.”

“We were blind for years, or for decades, when we assisted the United States in pursuing its geopolitical or geo-strategic policies in the Middle East or in North Africa,” he said. 

“And we were tacitly or actively contributing to a foreign policy which has entirely destroyed the neighborhood of Europe.” 

The migration crisis has brought the issue of European identity to the forefront, and made “extremely visible” the differences between the Visegrád group — Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia — and other central eastern European countries, “which happen to be extremely socially conservative,” Gyöngyösi said, “and liberal Western European countries.”

“And we have also experienced the dictatorship of political correctness,” he said, “If you stand up for your own cultural identity, you are going to be labeled a racist.” 

Indeed, the EU voted last Wednesday to discipline Hungary over alleged breach of EU “core values,” the BBC reported.

Gyöngyösi is holding out hope that “the liberal European elite disappears after a European parliamentary election,” to be replaced by politicians who “recognize the importance of a common European identity, and the relevance and the importance of Christian values in the European civilization,” he told the Dublin conference.

“I think that’s the only chance that we stand,” he said. 

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EU trying to force same-sex ‘marriage,’ Muslim migration onto Hungary

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By James Risdon

BUDAPEST, Hungary, September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Union is threatening sanctions against the largely-Christian nation of Hungary to force it to fall in line with liberal beliefs, including the supposed legitimacy of same-sex “marriage” and fictional right of Muslim migrants to walk into any country they wish.

“The European Commission is using the tools we have, launching infringement procedures against countries that don't respect EU law.” I “am in harmony with today's decision,” Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, reportedly said.

It's an unprecedented move.

The 28-state political and economic union’s parliament has never voted to slap sanctions like this on any of its member states until now.

Two-thirds of the Members of the European Parliament have already backed the censure motion.

In the European Parliament, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called the threat of sanctions “blackmail.”

“We will not support immigration and migrants against the better judgement of our nation,” said Orbán. “Regardless of your decision, Hungary will not succumb to blackmail.”

It's now up to the national leaders of each country to either give the thumbs up or thumbs down to those sanctions.

Poland's foreign ministry has already vowed to stand by Hungary's side.

“Poland will vote against any sanctions on Hungary in the forum of European institutions,” Poland's foreign ministry indicated in a statement. “Every [European Union (EU)] member state has the sovereign right to implement internal reforms that it considers to be right.”

Pro-Brexit politician Nigel Farage has criticized the European Parliament in a tweet saying that with its latest move “the authoritarian grip of the EU gets even tighter.” In the European Parliament, he invited Hungary to “come join the Brexit club.”

The EU’s allegations against Hungary run the gamut from stated concern for the independence of the judiciary and rights of judges, through to worries about its constitutional and electoral system, corruption and conflicts of interest, privacy and data protection, freedom of expression, and academic and religious freedom. The report presented to the European Parliament also noted concerns over the right to equal treatment, minority rights, and economic and social rights.

It’s a long list of supposed transgressions by Hungary and it includes concerns over what the EU calls “the fundamental rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.”

That, says Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, is the crux of the matter. He called the EU’s sanctions the “petty revenge” of “pro-immigration” politicians.

Fighting back against the waves of primarily Muslim migrants swarming into Europe, Hungary has taken measures to stop illegal immigration and preserve its Christian heritage and culture.

In February this year, Orbán said in his state of the nation speech that Christianity is Europe’s last hope. He has also warned that European nations which have encouraged migration have “opened the way to the decline of Christian culture and the advance of Islam.”

In the report to the European Parliament, Hungary is lambasted as having passed laws with the potential to “deprive people who are forced to flee their homes of critical aid and services, and further inflame tense public discourse and rising xenophobic attitudes.” Those laws make it a crime for Hungarians to provide aid to illegal migrants.

But the EU is doing more than just criticizing Hungary’s immigration policy. The economic and political union is also throwing its weight behind the homosexual agenda. The report to the European Parliament mentions LGBT six times.

It criticizes Hungary’s definition of a family as consisting of a mother and father, calling that “outdated” and noting that “same-sex marriage is banned.” The report then infers this is somehow tied to a perceived bigotry towards homosexuals in Hungary.

A socially-conservative stronghold in Europe, Hungary also recognizes that pre-born babies have rights.

This is despite the outside influence of wealthy globalists like George Soros, an 88-year-old multi-billionaire who has funded more than 60 non-governmental organizations in Hungary alone. The multi-billionaire has sought to impose his pro-abortion, pro-gay agenda on not just Hungary but Europe, the United States, and nations across the globe.  

In 2016, leaked documents from Soros-funded organizations exposed his goal of eliminating pro-life laws around the world.

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Gay journalist: LGBT media outlets use ‘fake news’ to advance movement

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By Calvin Freiburger

September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-LGBT media outlets and activists groups have been “emotionally manipulating and even entirely misleading LGBT people” with misleading or even entirely false reports of persecution by a "homophobic" government and culture, according to a recent column by Federalist contributor Chad Felix Greene.

Greene, a self-described “conservatarian” who is himself homosexual, used his September 14 piece to highlight six stories that garnered significant traction in LGBT circles, but misrepresented their subject matter with unsupported claims, omitted details, and misplaced emphasis.

His first example was legislation introduced in July by Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-SC, to forbid U.S. embassies from flying any flag other than the American flag, which outlets such as the Washington Blade characterized as specifically targeting rainbow “pride” banners. But as LifeSiteNews covered at the time, while some embassies promoting LGBT “pride” has been a source of controversy, the bill did not target any specific flags.

"The United States flag is the single greatest symbol of freedom the world has ever known, and there’s no reason for anything but Old Glory to be flying over our embassies and posts around the globe," Duncan said at the time.

Greene’s second example is a story from Attitude UK about Seth Owen, an 18-year-old high school co-valedictorian who was supposedly “kicked out by his parents when they discovered he was gay.” As NBC reported and Greene details, however, Owen’s parents actually discovered his attraction at age 15, and after a brief attempt at counseling he continued living with them for more than two years.

“When he was 18 years old, Owen and his father got into a dispute over the family policy of attending church,” Greene explains. “Owen disapproved of the conservative views his parents’ Baptist church expressed, and no longer wished to attend. His father told Owen either he would attend church with everyone in the family or need to move out.”

Next, Greene highlights a report from Queerty about a New Zealand woman named Laura Jean Landon who in 2016 used the Grinder app to arrange a meeting with a homosexual man under false pretenses. Along with two other men, Landon threatened the man with a bat and gun, shouted slurs at him, performed sex acts with each other, and sexually assaulted him. They also stole his money, credit cards, jewelry, and car upon leaving.

Landon was sentenced to four and half years in prison, and the disturbing story is real, but Greene faults Queerty for “headlining a single homophobic act fitting a narrative of ignorance and bigotry” instead of “emphasizing the seriousness of this violent crime.” The website used the headline, “Woman breaks into gay man’s home, forces him to watch her perform sex act as ‘example’ of how to ‘behave.’”

Greene’s fourth example is another Blade story, this time concerning the Religious Liberty Task Force announced this summer by Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a Justice Department summit on religious liberty. The story accused the department of “tout[ing] anti-LGBT views” at the event, but its only example was Sessions’ reference to the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. The shop’s owner Jack Phillips fought for the freedom not to create cakes endorsing same-sex “marriage,” but maintained all along he was “happy to sell a cake to anyone, whatever his or her sexual identity.”

Next came a Huffington Post column arguing that the “Religious Right Appears Intent On Criminalizing Gay Sex Again.” But Greene notes that the piece was pure speculation built on “comments by several Christian conservative leaders, some more than a decade old, regarding the nature of homosexuality and the influence of legally recognizing homosexual behaviors”; and that “no one today is even hinting at such an agenda.”

Finally, Greene cites an LGBTQ Nation story that initially ran under the headline, “The State Department is retroactively revoking passports for trans citizens.” It was based on the claims of two men “identifying” as women who claimed their passports renewals were denied over their “gender markers.”

Notably, however, the National Center for Transgender Equality soon admitted that “the longstanding passport gender marker policy has not changed,” and “the incidents we have seen involved unusual circumstances and bureaucratic mistakes by the passport agency.” Within roughly a day of publication, LGBTQ Nation changed its headline to read, “Advocates say fears about trans people’s passports are overblown.”

“A political movement should not have to rely on emotional outrage from truly fake news to be successful,” Greene concluded.

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Archbishop Bernard Hebda YouTube
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Minnesota archbishop: I trust Pope Francis and Viganò

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By Dorothy Cummings McLean

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota, September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – An American archbishop says that he is “at a loss” about a Vatican whistleblower’s allegations against Pope Francis as he trusts both the whistleblower and the pontiff.

In an official statement published on the archdiocesan website, Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis described his quandary.

“Having had good reasons to place my trust in both Pope Francis and Archbishop Viganò, I am personally at a loss as to how to evaluate the claims that have been made by the Archbishop,” he wrote. “Based on my experience in this Archdiocese, I believe that some form of an independent review led by credible outsiders is the only way to resolve such situations and restore trust.”

This confession appears near the bottom of Hebda’s statement. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s testimony alleges cover-up of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual predation among high-ranking prelates, including Pope Francis. 

The principal aim of Hebda’s communication was to address the current crisis raging in the Church and to reassure Catholics that the archdiocese has acted, and continues to act, to prevent future clerical sex abuse and treat victims fairly.

“Working with the lay volunteers on our Archdiocesan Ministerial Review Board, Corporate Board of Directors and Finance Council, along with many other volunteers, employees and clergy throughout the Archdiocese, we have constructively and openly confronted our failures – the failures that led to criminal and civil charges, bankruptcy, a loss of trust and a weakening of our moral voice,” the archbishop wrote.

“Although we have more to do, we have come a long way,” he continued. “In 2015, we entered into a far-reaching Settlement Agreement with the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office that requires us to take verifiable actions to prevent future abuses.”

Hebda assured readers that this agreement has improved how the archdiocese responds to victims, holds priests accountable, accepts and forms seminarians, trains   priests, employees, and volunteers, and educates Catholic schoolchildren.

“It has helped to improve our culture,” he continued. “We have not only abided by that agreement, but have done more than it requires. This has been verified in court every six months. More recently, we worked with victim survivors to file a joint plan in the bankruptcy court that financially compensates those who have been harmed in our Archdiocese.”

The diocese has also given greater oversight to lay leaders in its governance, and lay leaders are already involved in making bishops accountable.

“Based on the Ramsey County Settlement Agreement, when an allegation is leveled against an auxiliary bishop or archbishop, the Director of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment is required to notify the Corporate Board,” the archbishop explained.  

“Thus, the allegation is made known to lay leadership who have duties to provide oversight and fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities. Moreover, a claim today cannot be settled without the knowledge and involvement of our lay leaders. Both of those measures of accountability are new, and critically important.”

Hebda stressed his support for lay leadership even further, and said that any cleric – including a Pope – who abuses minors or enables their abuse should be held accountable.

“Regarding accountability for bishops around the world: I fully support engaging lay leadership,” he explained. “Church leaders must be judged by outsiders who have the independence, objectivity and expertise to be fair and credible. We need the assurance that any cleric – whether a newly ordained priest or a Pope – who abused minors or knowingly protected or enabled such abusers, will be held accountable.”

Hebda did not restrict his thoughts to minors, saying that the same was true for “those who abuse their position to take advantage of vulnerable adults, persons receiving spiritual care or seminarians.”

The archbishop recommended oversight boards worldwide modelled on Saint Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese’s own review board to address allegations of misconduct against bishops and archbishops. He also said the Church would benefit from the appointment of “trusted outsiders” to assist.  

“Locally, former Hennepin County Attorney Tom Johnson fulfills that role as our appointed ombudsperson, giving those aggrieved a safe avenue for pursuing claims without fear of repercussions,” Hebda said.

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Calvin Freiburger Calvin Freiburger Follow Calvin

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Google researcher resigns in protest of company’s plan to aid censorship in China

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By Calvin Freiburger

September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A senior research scientist at Google has resigned in protest over the company’s plans to launch a search engine in China that censors topics disagreeable to the Communist regime.

Last month, The Intercept reported on confidential documents on plans to launch a state-approved search app for Android devices that automatically filters certain websites, terms, and phrases from results. Content typically blacklisted in China includes Facebook, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, books such as 1984, and subjects including free speech, the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and more. The leaked documents specifically mention the BBC and Wikipedia as examples of blocked sites.

Last Thursday, the publication followed up with a report that Jack Poulson, a former Stanford mathematics professor who worked in the internet giant’s research and machine intelligence department, has resigned in protest of those plans. His work focused on the accuracy of Google’s search systems.

Poulson confronted his employers about the report, but to no avail. He decided last month that he had to leave the company. He worked his last day on August 31.

“Due to my conviction that dissent is fundamental to functioning democracies, I am forced to resign in order to avoid contributing to, or profiting from, the erosion of protection for dissidents,” Poulson said in a letter to his superiors. “I view our intent to capitulate to censorship and surveillance demands in exchange for access to the Chinese market as a forfeiture of our values and governmental negotiating position across the globe.”

In an interview, he told The Intercept that he believes he’s one of just five employees who have resigned over the revelations so far. He explained that not only does he see the plan as a violation of Google’s own commitment not to design technologies “whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights,” but that hosting customer data on the Chinese mainland would present a risk of the Chinese government accessing that information.

Only a “few hundred” of Google’s 88,000 employees knew of the project’s existence before The Intercept’s report. Poulson says he was among the majority that did not, but also fears that his work may have contributed to it without his knowledge or consent.

Google's corporate code of conduct since 2000 was "Don't be evil." But that phrase, however, was removed from an updated code of conduct earlier this year. 

“What are Google’s ethical red lines?” Poulson asked. “We already wrote some down, but now we seem to be crossing those. I would really like to see statements about what Google’s commitments are.”

He also lamented the contrast between Google’s latest actions and co-founder Sergey Brin’s 2010 condemnation of China’s “earmarks of totalitarianism,” as the company ended a previous Chinese search engine in response to the government blocking websites and hacking Gmail accounts. “That’s the company I joined, the one that was making that statement,” Poulson said.

Google has yet to publicly acknowledge these reports, and CEO Sundar Pichai refused to attend a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing earlier this month where he was likely to have been pressed on them. More than 1,400 employees signed a letter demanding “an ethics review that includes rank and file employee representatives” into the situation, but so far the company has only moved to restrict access to the relevant documents and footage of company meetings.

The story is only the latest in a string of scandals currently plaguing the tech giant, which has been accused of restricting search results from competitors, cutting businesses it disagrees with from its platforms, letting third-party app developers access users’ emails, politically biasing its search results, and discriminating against conservatives on its platforms and services.

Earlier this week, an email chain and filmed meeting from just after the 2016 election leaked, showing Google executives expressing anger at President Donald Trump’s victory and discussing ways to use the company’s resources to influence future elections.

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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

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Have you met our newest team members?

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By John-Henry Westen
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In a world where almost every aspect of mainstream media seems to be promoting an anti-life and anti-family agenda, our world is in desperate need of a truthful alternative.

That’s why you, and millions of people around the world, turn to LifeSiteNews. Often, we ask ourselves: “What can I do that will make a difference amidst this growing darkness we are facing?”

The world we live in is challenging our most important freedoms at this moment. It can be daunting. Yet, you do have the power to make a difference and change the culture.

If you are contemplating making a donation to support our efforts, consider that it is our readers who have single-handedly made it possible for LifeSite journalists to cover countless crucial stories that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.


Today, you can join the LifeSite community of supporters and be a part of ensuring that countless stories don’t go unnoticed! A gift of $200, $100, $50, or even $35 will enable us to continue to be the truthful alternative to mainstream media.

 

In fact, because of the increasing demand for our reporting around the world, we are constantly growing in order to reach more people - and I’d like to introduce you to our newest team members:

Calvin Freiburger - U.S. Journalist | Calvin is a Wisconsin-based conservative writer and 2011 graduate of Hillsdale College. His commentary and analysis have been featured on NewsReal Blog, Live Action, and various other conservative websites. Before joining LifeSiteNews, he spent two years in Washington, DC, working to build support for the Life at Conception Act with the National Pro-Life Alliance. He then worked as an assistant editor of TheFederalistPapers.org

Danielle Zuccaro - Sustaining Donor Coordinator | Danielle has been active in the pro-life movement since her high school years. During college, she became very active in her Catholic faith and took on leadership in her Catholic Campus Ministry and Students for Life club. After college, she joined the pro-life movement full-time working in the Development field and continues to stay active in Catholic college ministry as well. She is thrilled to be spearheading the Sustain Life program at LifeSite.

James Risdon - Canadian Journalist | James is an award-winning Canadian journalist and former Canadian Association of Journalists National Director based out of northern New Brunswick. A Concordia University journalism graduate, he also holds college diplomas in social sciences and business administration. He has written for publications from coast to coast, including Manitoba's Winnipeg Free Press, New Brunswick's Telegraph-Journal, Nova Scotia's The Chronicle-Herald, Timmins' The Daily Press, British Columbia's Business In Vancouver, St. John's The Telegram, Prince Edward Island's The Guardian, and the Northwest Territories' Yellowknifer. An ex-militia officer, James was trained by members of the Royal 22nd Regiment at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier for service with the French-language Régiment de Maisonneuve as a platoon co-commander.

We are incredibly blessed to have such an amazing and growing team to help us face the greatest issues of our time impacting life, family, faith, and culture!

At LifeSiteNews you will find original, in-depth, professional reporting on every aspect of the culture war around the globe from such a fearless and uncompromising pro-life and pro-family perspective.

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Without the incredible generosity of thousands of readers like you, we simply could not continue functioning and publishing crucial news about faith, life, family, freedom and so much more!

LifeSite is not just the #1 most-read pro-life website on the Internet. We’re also the only global news agency with a team of trained, professional, full-time journalists whose job it is to provide the BIG PICTURE perspective of the battle between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death!

At LifeSite we don’t just cover abortion, but also faith, marriage, the growing threat from gender ideology, euthanasia and assisted suicide, religious freedom, embryonic research, Internet censorship and bias and countless other topics. And we reveal and educate our readers about how all of these attacks by advocates of the Culture of Death are interrelated!

LifeSite now consists of nearly 30 full- and part-time professional pro-life journalists, editors, and support staff - all passionately dedicated to fighting for faith, life, family, and freedom!

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From our extensive news coverage on Church-related issues, Alfie Evans and abortion, to LGBT agenda and euthanasia, our supporters have ensured the world heard the truth -- truth presented professionally and objectively.

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Pope Francis | Cardinal Wuerl
Diane Montagna Diane Montagna Follow Diane

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Cardinal Wuerl arrives in Rome to discuss resignation with Pope Francis

Diane Montagna Diane Montagna Follow Diane
By Diane Montagna

ROME, September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Donald Wuerl arrived in Rome today, just one week after telling priests of the archdiocese of Washington that he intended “in the very near future, to go to Rome to meet with our Holy Father about the resignation I presented nearly three years ago, on November 12, 2015.”

The Cardinal’s flight touched down at Rome’s Fiumicino airport this morning shortly before 8 a.m. local time, sources confirmed. 

Last week, in a letter dated Sept. 11, Cardinal Wuerl, 78, told priests of the Washington archdiocese that: “It was clear that some decision, sooner rather than later, on my part is an essential aspect” of moving forward.

“At issue is how to begin effectively to bring a new level of healing to survivors who have personally suffered so much and to the faithful entrusted to our care who have also been wounded by the shame of these terrible actions and have questions about their bishop’s ability to provide the necessary leadership,” he wrote.

The Cardinal’s letter was issued three days before a Sept. 14 Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington to initiate a “Season of Healing” in the archdiocese. Wuerl’s letter was made public so that the Mass would not “be overshadowed by questions about his status,” an archdiocesan online news agency reported.

At the Sept. 14 Mass in the US capital, Wuerl, who has been accused of not doing enough to deal with predator priests while serving as bishop of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, prostrated himself as a sign of repentance.

In recent weeks, the cardinal has faced a barrage of allegations that he mishandled and covered up instances of criminal sexual abuse by priests while he was bishop of Pittsburgh, from 1988-2006. In a sweeping grand jury report on criminal sexual abuse released on August 14, Wuerl was mentioned 200 times.

In the aftermath of the release of the report, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro accused Wuerl of lying about his involvement, saying Wuerl’s assertions that he “acted with diligence” were “misleading statements” furthering the cover-up. Some, however, contest that many of the allegations in the report have not been substantiated, and point out that the Catholic Church in recent years has done more than any other institution to rid itself of abuse and help victims.

Cardinal Wuerl’s credibility first came under fire when he declared that he knew nothing of the abuse settlements paid to sex abuse victims of his predecessor, disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. His denial of any knowledge of the allegations against McCarrick has been contested even by other bishops as not credible.  

Then, on August 25, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, released an explosive testimony which detailed Cardinal Wuerl’s complicity in the McCarrick cover up.

The cardinal’s “recent statements that he knew nothing about it … are absolutely laughable. The Cardinal lies shamelessly,” Archbishop Viganò said in his testimony, which he dated August 22 for the feast of the Queenship of Mary. 

Viganò, who has been in hiding since the release of his testimony, also alleged that Pope Francis covered up for McCarrick and made him a close advisor, despite having detailed knowledge of his abuse of seminarians and priests. 

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U.S. Catholic bishops on June 14, 2017 at a Mass in reparation for clerical sex abuse Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews
Bree A. Dail Bree A. Dail

Opinion,

Bishops who rehabilitated abusers because they ‘trusted psychologists’ are playing a blame game

Bree A. Dail Bree A. Dail
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September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – I recently came across a posting by author George Neumayr, who has spent the last few weeks trying to track down Cardinals McCarrick and Wuerl. In the video he posted, he stood outside Little Flower Church in Bethesda, Maryland with a small group of protesters who were seeking to speak to the priests gathered there for a meeting with the cardinal archbishop of Washington, D.C.

One particular priest, later identified as a Jesuit, spoke at length with Neumayr. He mentions, early on in the recorded conversation, that he is a psychologist, and begins the tired repeat heard around the world after the Boston Globe’s 2002 exposure of clerical pederast abuse: All of this abuse, although regrettable, really wasn’t understood as such in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He suggests that psychologists recommended rehabilitation, and thus the bishops acted in good faith. When pressed by Neumayr that the law was clear in these cases, the Jesuit finally conceded – but it was clear that the talking points were being formed to defend Cardinal Wuerl, and others like him.

They didn’t know. They are so terribly sorry. Let’s change the subject, shall we?

Back in 2001, I was discerning my vocation within the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, St. Faustina’s order. I was quite young, not yet 20, but even then, after the story of the Boston clerical sex abuse broke, I knew the excuse that the bishops “had trusted psychologists” was an attempt to obfuscate responsibility.

No one in their right mind would think that a member of the reigning clergy – who spent years in theological, philosophical, legal, and psychological formation – was incapable of distinguishing acts of violence and sodomy on children and young men from rightly-ordered heterosexual intercourse between husband and wife.  

I had liked Cardinal Law up until that point. He visited the convent a few times, and encouraged the sisters to take an active role in promoting the Divine Mercy message. As a classically trained vocalist, I appreciated his love of sacred music, which was emphasized at his Masses at Holy Cross Cathedral. When the story broke, however, like so many faithful, I was at a loss. How could a spiritual father betray his children in such a way? How could he not take responsibility when it was clear the psychologists were wrong, and the predators were often repeating their abuses?

How very naïve I was.

The narrative was driven by a political media claiming this was pedophilia (not the homosexual pederasty/grooming it was in reality), and all members of the Catholic Church permitted it. We became the perverted church. One year later, Cardinal Law would resign as other Church leaders like Cardinals Mahony and McCarrick sanctimoniously thumped their breasts and initiated “training” for all who would work with children through the Dallas Charter. Two years after that, Pope John Paul II penned, “Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way,” and far too many thought the worst was behind us.

Alas, for some of us, we found ourselves alone, screaming against an oncoming storm as predators like McCarrick continued to molest and intimidate boys and young men. In the early days of this pontificate, many who expressed concerns were dismissed from all corners of the Church. We were alarmists, “self-absorbed promethean neo-pelagianists” – insisting on spreading “fake news” like those engaged in “the sickness of coprophilia.”

The initial exposure of pederast clergy revealed in the John Jay Report should have rid the Church of those seeking to “build bridges” between homosexually-inclined men and Holy Orders. So much blame was piled onto Cardinal Law, but the rest of the hierachy absorbed so little responsibility, and the scapegoat was slaughtered for the sake of false peace.

In reality, the tip of the iceberg had been exposed in the United States. Underneath the fetid waters, the scum of the earth promoted one another and preyed on the trusting.

Recent whisperings of corruption and abuse coming from every corner of the earth have prompted many believers to hope the Vatican will engage the impending crisis head on. Yet, it is within the Vatican that we see many of the predators (and those who protect them) given prestigious places as advisors to this pontiff.

Reportedly, Pope Benedict XVI received a two-volume “red bound dossier” linking homosexual predators all the way to the highest levels of the curia and resigned shortly after. If true, the pontiff who succeeded him would have also received this dossier. A reasonable deduction would validate Archbishop Vigano’s testimony, on this alone.

Vigano’s personal account solidifies what so many of us have suspected: Pope Francis was fully informed on the extent of the homosexual rot in the clergy. Why, then, did he promote individuals like Cardinals McCarrick, Farrell, Wuerl, Coccopalmerio, Cupich, and Maradiaga to advise and surround him? Why does he have Archbishops Paglia (infamous for commissioning a homoerotic mural in which he himself is depicted) and “Tucho” Fernandez (infamous for his book “Heal Me With Your Mouth”) as advisors? Why promote rebellious heterodox priests like Fathers Rosica and James Martin to speak on behalf of the Chair of Peter? When exposure does occur, the spin is close behind – and the personal attacks on those who dare to ask questions are vicious.

Author and historian Henry Sire was one of the first to provide real evidence of the motivation and machinations behind this in The Dictator Pope.

But it was Archbishop Viganò who finally broke the dam.

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Anonymous

Opinion,

‘Awake and do your duty’: A hermit’s open letter to Catholic bishops amid abuse crisis

Anonymous
By Anonymous

Editor's note: LifeSiteNews is pleased to bring you an open letter to Catholic clergy from a hermit who is well aware of how the abuse crisis is affecting the Church. The hermit's name has been withheld to protect him from repercussion. 

September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Maradiaga has accused Edward Pentin of being a “hitman” who is the “enemy of reform.”  This preposterous accusation comes from one of the Pope’s closest advisers. The mind simply boggles at this kind of language, which ill befits a Prince of the Church. I use this term advisedly, because this is the Achilles’ heel of the Church, namely temporal power and its dazzling attributes, which is the glamour of Satan, that delusory glamour which we must resolutely renounce throughout our lives. One wonders what the Apostles would think of being dressed in the purple.

When the Church emerged from the catacombs after Constantine won the battle of the Milvan Bridge and the Church was no longer persecuted, there came freedom and, worse, respectability. So with this freedom came terrible danger, a danger that is now convulsing the Church, namely what might be called the Imperialization of the Latin West. The pagans poured into the Church. This was a new organization, albeit sacred, where future generations could climb the ladder to power and wealth.

From the moment that the Roman Church, and to a certain extent the Byzantine Church, took on the bureaucracy of the Roman Empire as a model for its working structures, there was a foothold for the Devil. In the hands of a Gregory the Great it was safe, but when popes, cardinals, and bishops became worldly and ambitious then there was more than a whiff of danger, there were darkness and a terrible thing. What was this terrible thing? It was nothing more and nothing less than the re-crucifying of Christ, not by out and out sinners such as gangsters, murderers, and heartless dictators, but by Popes, bishops, and cardinals, and by far, far too many priests infatuated with ambition, wealth, power, and sensuality.  

We must reflect profoundly on the fact that the great St. John Chrysostom and the utterly gentle Robert Bellarmine thought that most bishops go to Hell.  We priests are in no better state, as witnessed by that other great saint, Alphonsus Liguori, who said that most priests go to Hell. Today the great temptation among Catholics, and the mainstream Protestant churches, is the First Temptation of Christ; namely, to turn stones into bread.  As long as we are involved solely in the social Gospel, then that is all that is needed.  This Utopian style Christianity best incarnated in Liberation Theology is exactly what Christ speaks against, when Satan tempts Him to assuage his hunger by turning stones into bread. We must in our materialistic age reflect on Christ’s response to Satan, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4: 4 ). When we become engrossed on feeding and clothing the World’s population and getting everyone jobs, noble as this effort is, it is not enough. There is only one thing that is enough, and that is that we give ourselves totally and utterly to God, holding nothing back.  However, because we are human most of us fail miserably, and before long there are programmes put into place that are anything but Christian. 

God does not ask us to be successful, he asks us to be faithful. 

Let us heed the words of St. Theophan the Recluse, one of the greatest saints in 19th Century Orthodox Russia. In his The Spiritual Life (And how to be attuned to it), a compilation of letters he wrote to a young middle-class woman, we read these wise words which should be a great caution to those over-enthusiastic advocates of The Social Gospel:

The progressives have in mind all mankind or at least all of its people lumped together. The fact is, however, that “mankind” or “the people” does not exist as a person for whom you could do something right now.  It consists of individual persons: By doing something for one person, we are doing it within the general mass of humanity. If each one of us did what was possible to do for whoever was standing right in front of our eyes, instead of goggling at the community of mankind, then all people, in aggregate, would at each moment be doing that which is needed by those in need, and by satisfying their needs, would establish the welfare of all mankind, which is made up of haves and have-nots, the weak and the strong. But those who keep thoughts of the welfare of mankind inattentively let slip by the opportunity to perform a particular work, they accomplish nothing towards the main purpose of life. -  (The Spiritual Life, and how to be attuned to it; St. Theophan The Recluse, St. Paisius Orthodox Monastery 2003)

It is Christ the true bread on whom we must feed.  We who are priests, bishops, cardinals and popes must conform ourselves as much as possible to Christ.  If we do not, we will find ourselves falling into the everlasting fires of hell. 

Constantly I have to examine myself and see how often I sin. I quite understand how St. Gertrude the Great felt when she said she could not understand how the earth could tolerate her sinfulness.  How I sympathize with the charming and warm St. Jane de Chantal who when asked, in her old age, by her mother superior what her [Jane’s] soul was like, answered: “It is like looking at Hell and I avert my gaze.”  Then St. Francis of Assisi, considered by so many to be the most Christ-like of all saints, what did he say?  “All I can call my own are my sins; everything else is a gift from God.”

Priests must be men of truth

Dear Cardinal Maradiaga, I hope that you understand what I am saying because it is very important.  After all, you are a son of the great St. John Bosco.  You remember how he called the great order that you belong to after his beloved saint, St. Francis de Sales, and also the inspiration of St. John XXIII. All these saints were very gentle men, and Francis de Sales a Gentleman by birth.  What does he say? “Do all by love, nothing by constraint”; “There is nothing so gentle as true strength, and nothing so strong as true gentleness.” 

Above all, we priests must be men of truth.  

If you say such extraordinary things such as anyone who calls on the Pope to resign is committing the Sin against the Holy Spirit, then you are consigning two of the greatest saints of Middle Ages to the fires of Hell, namely the luminous St. Colette of Corbie and “The Angel of The Apocalypse,” St. Vincent Ferrer, who begged the anti-Pope Benedict XIII to resign, and you surely know that no-one was quite sure who the real pope was.  You also consign the entire Council of Constance to Hell for doing the same thing, admittedly they had the problem of three Popes. Surely you must know that Edward Pentin has nothing against you, and is both gentle and a gentleman. All he wishes to do is to find the Truth, for it is the truth, as Christ tells us, that sets us free. 

So turning to all bishops, I say this: Let us admit that we priests have all gone astray. We have become too preoccupied with the world. Even worse, we might suffer from spiritual pride and spiritual envy.  These sins are not seen or experienced as are the sins of the flesh, but they are deadly, for after all Satan is a spirit and not a man.  How many of us have shown the face of Christ to those entrusted to our care?  Have we been his eyes, his voice, his hands, his feet? Or have we lived the comfortable life, while our parishioners have been lacking food; and worse still, lacked what we should give in abundance, namely true kindness and overflowing compassion. Have we failed to teach the laws of God, especially those concerning marriage and sexual morality?  Have we preached by word and example the Gospel? Have people seen in us the early Apostles and disciples preaching the good news of salvation?  If they have not, then we have failed.  We may not be pedophile priests, or homosexual predator priests, but we are guilty of re-crucifying Christ by other sins, one of the worst being lukewarm in carrying out of our ministries.

To those Cardinals, bishops, and priests who have failed gravely in pedophilia and homosexuality and have repented, I say do not be afraid. Trust in the immense mercy of God. Go into solitude and throw yourselves into the arms of the Crucified Christ, and he who has taken all our most terrible sins away will welcome you and make you saints.  For what opens the doors of heaven and the heart of the Saviour is true humility.  To those of you who have covered up for bad priests, quickly accuse yourselves before your lawful superiors and do penance, for the season of Mercy will fast run its course, and God’s judgement will come down upon us.

For far too long, for well over 60 years if not more, the Church appears to have been taken over by a Marxist agenda, which has zapped it of the supernatural and reduced it to something akin to the United Nations which is well known for its corruption. The Bride of Christ has been turned into something between a Soviet Commissar and the harlot mentioned by Ezekiel and Jeremiah.

We must join our hearts with the members of the great Orthodox Churches of the East, and in particular The Russian Orthodox Church, not because they do not have their problems, but because they are profoundly prayerful, penitential, and well aware of their utter sinfulness and dependence on God, and have not been contaminated by the wretched secularism and false humanism of the godless West. We are not here to change the world, we are here to be converted and sanctified, and we are here to cry out “LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME A SINNER.”

Edward Pentin, a model journalist

Let us return to Edward Pentin.  Here we have a model journalist, of whom St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists must surely be proud.  I have only spoken to Edward Pentin once and that was with regard to trying to get a dying little boy of eight to an audience with Pope Benedict at Castel Gandolfo. He was very courteous, for after all that was not his job, and he helped us, and he did not stand on his dignity as a busy journalist.  It was only later when one of my closest and dearest friends told me about his friend, Edward Pentin the journalist, that I realized they were both the same man. My friend is a good priest and judge of character, and if he holds someone in high regard then I trust him. Watching this fine journalist I am aware of a real humility coupled with true professionalism. Here there is nothing flashy; all is understated and balanced. Here indeed is a meek man. “Blessed are the Meek for they shall inherit the Earth.”

Amid the great clouds of spiritual and poisonous darkness that are now engulfing the Church, one feels a bit safer with Edward Pentin modestly walking across the world’s stage. I think particularly at this time of the much-maligned Archbishop Viganò, a man rightly praised for his integrity and courage, and also for his professionalism. Then we have the massively dependable Cardinal Burke who is like some great shire horse carrying the burdens of the Church on his shoulders, all in the cause of the defense of marriage and Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.  Then beside him we have the humble and childlike Bishop Athanasius Schneider who valiantly champions the cause of the truth; he certainly understands the importance of truth, having been brought up under the all-seeing eye of the Soviet Union. He has known martyrs in his time.

These good men are thankfully being joined by others: namely Bishop Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix; Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas; Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison; Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield Illinois; Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma; Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco; and others. But where are the other bishops of Western Europe and the Anglophone world?  Why are they so silent.  We have only the delightfully robust and jolly Monsignor Jean Francois Lantheaume, who is a perfect witness to Archbishop Vigano’s truthfulness, integrity, and honor. When one looks at the photographs of these men we see there an openness in their expressions, that thing we call transparency, and a charming candor.  The camera they say does not lie, and I think that is very true in this case.

Bishops of the Catholic Church, awake and do your duty. For Christ is coming to you on his great white horse with his vast army of white-robed heavenly warriors. If you really wish to be his warriors, his latter-day apostles, then he will come as your generous and magnanimous King. But if you are false shepherds, he will come with his destroying sword and he will pass judgement on you. Surely you do not want this, surely more than anything else you want to be his true knights, his faithful vassals. 

We have now entered the time of Judgement. There is little time. We cannot avoid catastrophe, any more than the people Jerusalem could avoid the destruction of their city at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. For our salvation, we must be punished. Can you not see that the earth itself is revolting at man’s wickedness, and will soon rise up in judgement against the utterly immense and terrible evil that is saturating the earth?  God will intervene, for he will not allow his little ones to be lost.  Come to your senses, and lead your flocks in the ways of gentleness, goodness and peace, and then you will truly be great warriors of Christ. Heed my words, heed them before it is too late.

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Iben Thranholm

Opinion, ,

Catholic abuse crisis is likely no accident, but a strategy to ‘destroy Church from within’

Iben Thranholm
By

September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The shocking accusation by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò that Pope Francis helped cover up sexual misconduct — an accusation the Pope has so far declined to answer — as well as the litany of sexual abuse cases among clerics, force any Catholic to ask the question: how could this possibly take place in the moral institution that is the Roman Catholic Church? 

One possible — little known, but very important — answer dates back to the Bolsheviks and their Communist leader Joseph Stalin.

Recently, I came across a video on Youtube of a presentation by former Soviet KGB propagandist Yuri Bezmenov, aka Tomas Schuman, who worked for the Soviet Union’s Novosti Press Agency until he defected in 1970. In this 1983 video, he claimed that the West was slowly being subverted into Marxism by the methods of “ideological subversion,” a form of warfare the KGB used against America. 

Bezmenov explains that the main effort of the KGB was not conventional intelligence at all. Only some 15 percent of resources were spent on James-Bond-style espionage, while 85 percent was devoted to a slow process called “ideological subversion” or “active measures.”  

The main methods used by Marxists in the West, Bezmenov explains, were to “corrupt the young, get them interested in sex, take them away from religion. Make them superficial and enfeebled [...] destroy people's faith in their national leaders by holding the latter up for contempt, ridicule and disgrace [...] cause breakdown of the old moral virtues: honesty, sobriety, self-restraint, faith in the pledged word.”

The main targets were — and remain — institutions of religious faith, education, media and culture, the targets also of the hippie movement of that day. Although to all appearances America firmly rejected Soviet Communism during the Cold War, Bezmenov correctly observes that there was a massive undercurrent of Marxist-Leninist indoctrination at many, if not most, universities and institutions of learning, in the media and artistic communities in the West throughout the 1960s and 1970s. This indoctrination was never challenged or counterbalanced by fundamental American patriotic values. This was especially true of the entertainment industry. According to Bezmenov, a group of rock or pop-musicians with a message of 'social-justice' sugar-coated in popular 'spiritual' tunes were actually more helpful to the KGB than someone standing in the pulpit preaching Marxist-Leninist doctrine. 

The 1983 video shows Bezmenov explaining that the demoralization process in the US had already been completed to a degree beyond the wildest dreams of the top leadership in the Kremlin.

“This process was done by Americans to Americans thanks to a lack of morals. Most of the people educated in the 1960s, intellectuals are now occupying the positions of power in the government, civil service, mass media and the education system. You are stuck with them,” Bezmenov points out. 

However, Bezmenov omitted mentioning that the Catholic Church was one of the main targets of the Communists. 

Former Communist Bella Dodd spoke on the Communist infiltration of the Catholic Church. Dodd, an important Communist party lawyer, teacher and activist, converted to Catholicism in April 1952 under the tutelage of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. Stating that the Communist infiltration was so extensive that in the future "you will not recognize the Catholic Church,” Dodd testified before the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). She said, "In the 1930s, we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within. The idea was for these men to be ordained, and then climb the ladder of influence and authority as Monsignors and Bishops.” 

According to Catholic philosopher and professor Alice von Hildebrand, who was a friend of Dodd, she told her that “when she was an active party member, she had dealt with no fewer than four cardinals within the Vatican who were working for us, [i.e. the Communist Party].”

In her public affidavit Dodd stated, among other things, “In the late 1920s and 1930s, directives were sent from Moscow to all Communist Party organizations. In order to destroy the [Roman] Catholic Church from within, party members were to be planted in seminaries and within diocesan organizations... I, myself, put some 1,200 men in [Roman] Catholic seminaries.”

Alice von Hildebrand confirmed that Dodd had publicly stated the same things to which she attested in her public affidavit.

Dodd came to the venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, heartbroken and finally realizing the terrible irreparable harm she had done by faithfully and effectively following an order of Stalin, namely to recruit men distinguished by their complete lack of faith and moral virtue, and engage them to “infiltrate Catholic seminaries and religious orders.” Given her talents, her eloquence, her charisma, she was successful beyond all expectations. When her eyes were opened to what she had done, she was tortured by guilt that only God’s infinite mercy could assuage.

Dodd's testimony — that infiltration of Catholic seminaries went back for many decades — sheds some light on the abominable priestly scandal that has plagued the Church in recent years. Horrified by what she had done so successfully, Bella Dodd told Archbishop Sheen that she wanted to enter the most severe penitential order in the Church to try, in some modest way, to pay her crushing debt. She was told by this venerable prelate that her mission was to remain in the world and open the eyes of blind U.S. citizens to the horror of Communism. She obeyed, and from the early 1950s until her death in 1969 she crisscrossed the country giving talks to shake her fellow citizens and open the Americans’ sleepy eyes to the horror of atheistic Communism.

What we are witnessing today in the Church may very well be the horrifying harvest of this infiltration. Obviously “the agents” have made it their mission to admit more men devoid of morals and Christian faith into the seminaries for decades. Keep in mind that many cases of abuse took place already back in the 1960s. It seems that the abuse never was (and remains) a mere matter of priests giving in to temptation, but a comprehensive and pervasive attack on Christian morality and faith by a cunning and profoundly evil enemy.

Alice von Hildebrand writes, in a piece published on Catholic News Agency’s website in 2016: 

The facts on infiltration are not meant to deny that some bishops, some heads of religious orders and some priests have not fallen into the very grave sin of either closing their eyes to the horrible sins committed by people under their authority, but to make us aware of the fact that a key factor hardly ever mentioned, or mentioned at all, is that many of the worst culprits were not Catholic priests who had fallen prey to “unbridled lust” but infiltrators who had obtained false baptismal certificates and were plainly agents of Communism and demoralization. (…) I heard from Bella Dodd that these evil men had even infiltrated the Vatican – for the Catholic Church is the arch enemy of Communism: and they know it.

Sexual abuse of minors and the practice of homosexuality is the perfect way to demoralize the Church and cause it to lose its moral authority in the eyes of the public and among believers, and cause people to abandon the faith. Thus, the Stalinist anti-Christian mission is now about to reach its goal two generations after Stalin, at a time when the West is facing the second coming of Marxism. With a weakened and demoralized Church, a new Soviet era will face little if any resistance in the West as it begins to take control and subvert the remains of Christian culture. We can already observe the signs: the suppression of free speech, the tyranny of political correctness, and vicious political and psychological persecution of Christians. Only a purified Church is able to stand up to this kind of diabolical regime.  

Most of the priests, bishops and cardinals who have been committing the horrid crimes reported now were very likely at no point true and honest followers of Christ, but planted infiltrators and deliberate enemies of the Church. For this reason, the lay people of the Church must now insist on a total purging of imposters from within the Church. 

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Msgr. Charles Pope Msgr. Charles Pope

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Active homosexuality in the priesthood helped cause this crisis

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By Msgr. Charles Pope

September 17, 2018 (National Catholic Register) – There is a line in the Acts of the Apostles that I once found humorous: So the word of God continued to spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem continued to grow rapidly. Even a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7) Of course the priests referred to here are the priests of the ancient Temple, the Levitical priests. In the past, such a line seemed ironically funny to the average Catholic who heard it.

But that humor, in recent days, seems more darkly true and less ironic. Indeed, in the past two decades – and now, once again – the reputation of the priesthood and episcopacy has been sullied by the deeply sinful, unchaste, unnatural and unconscionable acts of some priests and bishops. They have harmed many victims and disgraced the priesthood. They have engaged in great evils, often repeatedly and with no accountability. But they will answer to God for what they have done.

Add to this the cover-ups, secret payments, the neglect to follow up on many complaints and the seeming refusal to look to the real roots of the problem, and the result is a total collapse of any credibility or moral authority that bishops and priests need to have in order to effectively preach and teach the faith.

I know that words cannot really describe the anger, grief and disappointment of our lay faithful, many of whom have tried to defend the Church, the Bride of Christ and our Mother whom we love.

As a priest of Jesus Christ, I am angry and dismayed that the honorable Sacrament of Holy Orders has been so besmirched and dishonored by the actions of some. I know I do not need to tell most of God's good people that the majority of priests and bishops have been faithful and are zealous and generous servants. I had insisted until recently that the number of malefactors is very small. But frankly, I must say that, while still a minority, the number is far more extensive than I thought.

And while I have at times wanted to insist that the percentage of clerical offenders is the same or lower as other groups of men, I must also say that whatever the percent, the crime is far worse. This is because people entrust to us the most precious and necessary thing they need for salvation – their faith. For any of us to mislead God's faithful or strip them of the trust they need to attain deeper faith is the worst sort of malpractice. And there are clerics up to the highest ranks who have done this, here and throughout the world. For clergy to go so far as to seduce others to sin is a horrific crime.

Jesus said of these who do not repent of such seduction and malpractice: Scandals will inevitably arise: but woe to him through whom they come. It is better for him that a millstone be hung about his neck, and that he be cast into the sea, than that he should scandalize one of these little ones. (Luke 17:1-2)

Whatever new policies some wish to suggest, let's be clear that we already have a policy. It's called the Sixth Commandment.

The policy is also set forth in many other clearly worded texts from the Scriptures that forbid homosexual acts, adultery, fornication and other lewd conduct: Ephesians 5:5-7; Galatians 5:16-21; Revelation 21:5-8; Revelation 22:14-16; Matthew 15:19-20; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; Colossians 3:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Hebrews 13:4; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Genesis 19; Romans 1:1-18, and 1 Timothy 1:8-11, among others.

The Sixth Commandment is clear – there is a universal call to chastity, and no one is exempt. There is simply no provision for sexual intercourse or sexual touching outside of valid marriage, and those who are married live chastity by complete fidelity to one another. No one is ever permitted under any circumstances to engage in sexual acts with anyone to whom they are not validly married. There are no separate rules for heterosexuals or homosexuals. There is to be no sexual intercourse or touching outside of valid marriage.

And this of course leads to the most-avoided topic related to this scandal – the problem of active homosexuality in the priesthood. An honest discussion of this current crisis cannot avoid addressing the issue – shouts of homophobia, intolerance, bigotry and scapegoating notwithstanding.

It is evident that the vast majority of the cases involving both the sexual abuse of minors and of adults involve male victims. The 2004 John Jay Report (The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States), which was commissioned by the U.S. bishops themselves, found that 81 percent of the victims were male and 78 percent of all victims were post-pubescent. Thus, though legally still minors, they were sexually mature in the physical sense. So, the large majority of cases involved attraction by homosexuals to young men who, though legally minors, were physically and sexually mature males, not little children. This is not pedophilia. It is homosexual attraction. Regarding the sexual abuse and harassment of seminarians or priests by bishops or other clergy, obviously 100 percent of those victims were male.

In summary, the large majority of the cases involve sexual misbehavior by priests with same-sex attraction.

We should be clear that most people with same sex attraction do not commit sexual crimes or seek to seduce or sexually abuse younger men. Many people with same-sex attraction do live chastely and follow the teachings of the Church. This is not a sweeping characterization of all people with same-sex attraction.

But the statistical evidence of the recent scandals shows a highly disproportionate level of homosexual involvement. The numbers are well-demonstrated in both experience and in the John Jay Report.

All this demonstrates that seminaries and the priesthood are not good places for those with deep-seated same-sex attraction. It does not take an anthropology or psychology degree to figure this out. Putting a man with same-sex attraction in a seminary is no more advisable than putting a heterosexual man in a woman's dormitory where he shares shower facilities and close quarters with women. A man with same-sex attraction is going to face temptations in all-male settings that would test the strongest.

Add to this the possibility that other men of same-sex attraction are there and soon enough a subculture sets up where temptations are fierce, and compromises and liaisons soon emerge. And this is what we have seen in the "gay" subculture that is demonstrably existent among a significant number of clergy in the Church.

An honest discussion of the recent crisis needs to include a clear setting forth and analysis of these facts. Ignoring them and staying silent through political correctness is malpractice at this point. We must speak charitably and clearly about this. We must not allow charges of intolerance, homophobia and scapegoating to suppress a frank discussion and analysis of the link of much of this misbehavior to active homosexuals, and a subculture among some of them that tolerates and promotes behavior which God forbids.

Pope Francis recently reiterated the policy that the Catholic Church cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called "gay culture." The Pope indicated that these acts or deep-seated tendencies can lead to scandals and can compromise the life of the seminary, as well as the man himself and his future priesthood. (More HERE.)

This story was underreported, likely because it does not fit the narrative the press wants to create regarding Pope Francis. Nevertheless, any conversation that seeks to find real traction or solutions is going to have to include the connection to homosexuality – not as a single cause, but as an essential and highly important one. And honest discussion must also include analyses of institutional problems such as secrecy, unaccountability, abuse of power, and so on.

In short, it is time for a truthful conversation free from political correctness and forbidden topics. If our bishops are not willing to engage a full and honest airing of all the causes, the anger of God's people will only increase, and the credibility of the bishops and the Church will sink from near zero to absolute zero.

The Church should be self-correcting, but we have not been so. Too often it has taken a secular state and threats of severe legal action to compel us to be more inwardly accountable. It is reminiscent of Pharaoh having to rebuke Abram for his crime of putting his own wife Sarai in the harem to protect himself (see Genesis 12:10-20). It is like the pagan sailors who had to tell Jonah the prophet to pray to God (Jonah 1:6). It is like Jesus finding more faith among the Gentiles than his own people. And now, too often, it takes grand juries, judges, financial and legal threats to get us to do what we should have done all along.

As the quote above from Acts said, Even a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. It was once a fun joke for priests. Now, increasingly, we are becoming the brunt of that joke. Pray for a necessary house-cleaning, an honest conversation about all the causes of this crisis, and the purification the Lord wants for his Church. The episcopacy, the priesthood and the very credibility of the Church hang in the balance.

Published with permission from the National Catholic Register.

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The world is puzzled by Pope Francis’s silence

Christopher O. Tollefsen
By Christopher Tollefsen

September 11, 2018 (The Public Discourse) – Pope Francis has remained notably silent in response to the allegations by Archbishop Viganò that he had been made aware of Cardinal McCarrick's predatory behavior in regard to seminarians. When initially asked about these charges on the plane home from Ireland, the Holy Father invited journalists to reach their own conclusions, but said "I will not speak one word on this."

This silence is puzzling to many people, and the pope somewhat indirectly addressed the puzzle the following Sunday in his homily. As reported by the Catholic Herald, Pope Francis said: "'With people lacking good will, with people who seek only scandal, with those who look only for division, who want only destruction,' the best response is 'silence. And prayer.'" Expanding on this in the context of the Gospel reading, the pope pointed to Jesus's response to those who were challenging him and eventually sought to drive him away, while Jesus "passed through the midst of them and went away." Thus, indicated the pope, "the truth is meek. The truth is silent. The truth is not noisy."

This seems to be an empirical claim, and one that is not always verified. Sometimes the truth is best served by silence, but sometimes it is not. Silence can be ally of dishonesty: as Matthew Schmitz has noted, the now-disgraced Marcial Maciel chose the road of silence, in an attempt to appear like Jesus. But his silence was no more than an appearance. It was, in fact, a form of lying. By suggesting that his silence was like Jesus's silence, he falsely asserted his own innocence. In his case, silence was an enemy to the truth.

On the other hand, there are cases where silence is the friend of truth. In at least some of those cases, silence brings the contradictions and inconsistencies in a false account to light. By remaining silent in the face of false and absurd charges, one might give the false accuser "enough rope" that he is shown for the liar he is. But this certainly does not always happen, and it does not seem that Viganò's "testimony" obviously collapses under the weight of its own absurdity. That the pope should have rehabilitated McCarrick while knowing of his past offenses is shocking, but not impossible; there are tensions in Viganò's account, and facts that do not fit all of his narrative, but it is simply not the case that it is self-evidently false in its entirety or essentials.

Justice and Mercy

I suspect there is a further thought in mind in the pope's decision to remain silent, one in keeping with a primary theme of his pontificate. When a person is falsely accused of wrongdoing, it is eminently clear that such a person has a rightto defend himself, a right that is a matter of justice. Lies against another person that defame him, take away his good name, and make false charges of immoral or irresponsible behavior do that person a wrong, and the person wronged is owed something: a clearing of his name, and a return, so far as possible, of what he lost as a result of being defamed. Accordingly, the first step demanded by justice in a case of defamation is an assertion of the truth: the charges must be denied, and a retraction sought.

But Pope Francis has made mercy a theme of his pontificate, and mercy can require something more than justice. Consider, for example, Germain Grisez's treatment of mercy and rights. Grisez notes that rights may be claimed for three reasons. The first is "to claim them precisely because they are one's own." This, Grisez holds, is always inappropriate for any one: this manifests a bias toward oneself that "leads one to act out of love of self rather than love of justice." Others assert rights out of a concern for justice, and Grisez writes that since this is founded on "an impartial love of justice, this approach conforms to the common requirements of moral responsibility."

But, Grisez argues, Christians are called to a different response, one that emulates Jesus, and subordinates their own interests to those of others. Thus, "transforming justice into mercy, they should voluntarily forgo their rights and more than fulfill their duties." This seems to me the truth in the pope's approach: it is his right to defend himself, but mercy requires Christians in many cases to forgo the assertion of their rights in order to give witness to the specific task that Jesus has placed on his followers, to love one another as He loved them.

But Grisez notes an important qualification to this principle. Christians "ought not to be concerned about their rights but about the responsibilities entailed by their personal vocations." So "Christians should seek to vindicate their rights when this is required to fulfill their responsibilities, but not otherwise" (my emphasis).

So the question is this: is it more called for by the pope's responsibilities that he keep silent in the face of Viganò's charges, or that he answer honestly and completely?

A Pope's Responsibility to His Church

No doubt, there are cases where silence is the best policy. Any pope is the subject of harangues, defamations, and false accusations on probably a daily, if not hourly basis. No pope would serve the Church well by taking every personal slight as an opportunity for public correction.

But the facts in this case are different. The accusation comes from a fellow bishop, a servant of the Church. The accusations are taken seriously, likewise, by many other bishops, and by many Catholic laypeople. Some people, zealous to defend the pope, have argued or asserted that virtually all who take the charges seriously are aligned in a quasi-conspiracy to overthrow the pope, oppose his reforms, and remake the Church.

SIGN THE PLEDGE: Support and pray for Archbishop Viganò. Sign the petition here.

There are two possibilities: first, perhaps these defenders are correct regarding those who are concerned by the allegations; perhaps the majority of those expressing concern, and asking for greater transparency from the pope, are in fact seeking primarily to bring him down – they have "pounced," in the uncongenial description given by the New York Times.

But if so, surely the effective response by the pope, and hence the response required by his responsibilities, is not silence, but the silencing that comes when false accusations are met with truth and knowledge. No doubt these enemies will not be fully placated by mere "denials" (though they are hardly placated by silence at all). But denials backed by the presenting of evidence would "shine a torch" on their mendacity and malevolence. This would be for the good of the Church – the good the pope is pledged to protect. So, a renunciation of justice in this case seems ill-advised.

On the other hand, the zealous defenders of the pope might be mistaken. Perhaps, rather than malicious plotters, many Catholics who take the accusations seriously include laypeople, priests, and bishops of good will. Perhaps these people wish, for the good of the Church, to know the truth of the matter, believing that the truth is the only source of hope for the reform of corrupt institutional structures.

Such Catholics of good will need not be thought overly credulous in finding the accusations of Viganò credible. Their trust in their leaders has, after all, been deeply shaken in the past two months, first by the revelations concerning McCarrick, surely one of the most influential, yet also most depraved, clerics of recent decades, and by the evidence of extensive cover-ups by Church hierarchs in Pennsylvania over a span of several decades. Given what we have learned about the Catholic hierarchy in that short span (to say nothing of the history of the Church more broadly), the idea of corruption that goes all the way to the top hardly requires an act of faith.

Such Catholics have genuine concern for the good of the Church; their worry that some or all of Viganò's accusations might be true is neither groundless nor irresponsible; their great state of demoralization and distrust is a wound in the entire Church. What are this, or any, pope's vocational responsibilities in such a situation?

Silence is Not Enough

The answer seems clear to me: silence is an inadequate way to meet those responsibilities. It gives the appearance that the pope himself has more to gain by remaining silent than by speaking the truth. But respect for the pope runs deep among these Catholics. If the pope says directly, letting his yes be yes and his no be no, that there are no grounds for the accusation as it bears upon him, and if he then orders a complete and transparent investigation into the allegations insofar as they bear upon numerous other high-ranking Catholic officials, even those personally close to him, then surely this will go a long way toward showing the faithful that the shepherd truly is one with the flock, that he smells like the sheep.

Right now, American Catholics know that for many years, their leaders included wolves. No good pope would knowingly solicit and heed the advice of such a wolf, but Pope Francis very clearly did solicit and heed the advice of McCarrick. The wound of the Church cannot begin to heal until he can, and does, honestly assert or deny that he did so knowingly.

Christopher O. Tollefsen is College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina.

Published with permission from The Public Discourse.

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Bishop Andreas Laun, Emeritus Auxiliary of Salzburg, Austria
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Austrian bishop hopes Pope will speak on Viganò report: ‘Silence would be a form of cover-up’

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By Maike Hickson

September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Austrian Bishop Andreas Laun has tersely said the following about the Viganò report and its claims: “I hope that the Pope will make a statement,” adding that “silence would be a form of cover-up.” Other such voices in European publications have also criticized the pope’s silence.

On September 10, Bishop Laun – the retired auxiliary bishop of Salzburg, Austria – published an article on Kath.net in which he addresses, among other topics, the Viganò report. He says that he himself does not have any personal information about the claims made by the Italian archbishop, but that he himself is “inclined to trust” some of his friends who tell him that the Viganò critique “is correct.”

“Additionally,” Laun adds, “I hope that the Pope himself will make a statement or that he asks his confidants to make an investigation of the individual points.”

“I cannot imagine” that the Viganò report “is a pack of lies,” he explains. With regard to the responses of the Catholic Church under Pope Francis to the Viganò claims, Laun says that to show “only silence would be a form of cover-up and would add more damage to the Church than what has anyway already happened.”

Moreover, Bishop Laun now sees in Austria “the tendency to implement an acceptance of homosexuality in the Church.” He refers back to the recent words of Bishop Marian Eleganti of Chur, Switzerland that one should admit “that in the Church’s clergy, we have been dealing for decades in the majority with homosexual criminals.” Laun welcomes discussions about this matter “in which nothing is being covered-up.” Eleganti himself has publicly stated that the Pope's own silence is a “non-denial” of the Viganò claims.

Many other voices in Europe now argue along the same lines as these two European bishops, who so far are the only prelates from Europe to publicly support Archbishop Viganò.

The prominent French newspaper Le Figaro now asks, “how long will the strategy of silence, as adopted by Pope Francis concerning the sex abuse scandals, last?” As an example, the article continues, the only thing that the Vatican’s communications department published – after last week’s “important papal audience with the head of the U.S. episcopacy – was that it satisfied itself by publishing two pictures [of that meeting].”

Not even a communiqué from the side of the Vatican was issued afterwards.

‘This is the hour of the laypeople’

Both the editor-in-chief and the Rome Correspondent of the Catholic website Kath.net – Roland Noé and Armin Schwibach, respectively – have made statements calling for honesty and transparency with regard to the Viganò report and the McCarrick scandal.

Roland Noé sees that “this is the hour of the laypeople.” He argues, “bishops who now call for a blind obedience toward the Pope, and do not at the same time ask for a clearing-up of the accusations of cover-up with regard to abuse cases, do not serve the Church.” In his eyes, “many bishops now abandon the laypeople and try, instead, to protect a system which continues to cover up abuse cases of high-ranking Church representatives.” Therefore, the journalist argues, since the bishops are too weak “to allow a process of purification,”it “might now be the hour of the laypeople.”

In light of the fact that, so far, the Vatican has not given any answers, Armin Schwibach sees a danger that a struggle in the media is taking place which overlooks the real topic, namely “the fate and the suffering of the victims of ‘predators,’ of predators such as McCarrick and Co.” When speaking about Pope Francis’ comment that he won’t answer questions concerning the Viganò report, Schwibach comes back to the earlier papal words, “Who am I to judge,” and then adds, “today, it is becoming even clearer: this judgment, this ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ is necessary.”

As Schwibach argues, if Viganò’s claims are untrue, it surely would be easy to prove him wrong, with the help of documents.

German academic: Pope Francis ‘seems himself to be part’ of the sex abuse crisis

Over in Germany, Martin Haenel – a professor at the Catholic University of Eichstätt – makes it clear that he is very concerned about the victims of abuse. They “have the right to know that those who abused them are being now named and punished in a fitting way.”

“Any cover-up,” he continues, “is unacceptable since it would continue to protect the abusers […] and at the same time it mocks the victims.” That the Pope is “at peace and relaxed” – as Cardinal Pietro Parolin recently claimed – might be either a sign “of a coming maneuver against a supposed plot” or an “expression of a state of collective denial of reality,” Haenel argues. He quotes the British author G.K. Chesterton, who once said, “silence is the most unbearable response.”

Another German author, Professor Hubert Windisch, recently published an article on Kath.net in which he says that “the current Pope does not only have a problem with the obvious clerical abuse cases, he seems himself to be part of this problem.”

He who does not face this fact, the German theologian adds, “and even though he be a cardinal, a bishop, or a theologian, makes things worse and increases the loss of the Church’s credibility.” Just like Laun and Eleganti, moreover, Professor Windisch points to the root problem of homosexuality as part of the sexual abuse crisis.

Even the German bishops’ website Katholisch.de published an article in which Ludwig Ring-Eifel, editor-in-chief of the news agency Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur (KNA), wonders just “how long can Francis afford to be silent?”

“What the answer will look like,” he adds, “is unclear.” He himself points to the problem that, so far, the Church’s penal law with regard to sexual crimes does not cover some of the acts committed by McCarrick; so far “according to current Church law, everything that McCarrick did with adult seminarians was exempt from punishment!” Ring-Eifel therefore proposes a “tightening” of the Church’s penal law. Additionally, he raises the possibility of establishing “an independent commission that would investigate and control bishops who have violated the duties of their office.”

Finally, Professor Helmut Hoping – a Professor of Theology at the Freiburg University in Germany – has come to the compassionate rescue of those critics of the Pope (first and foremost Archbishop Viganò) who have now been unjustly branded by Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga as “sinning against the Holy Spirit.”

After going through passages in Holy Scripture and also through other doctrinal texts which deal with the sins against the Holy Spirit – such as presumption and despair with regard to one’s salvation, or the disposition to set limits to God’s Mercy – Hoping himself concludes: “To call the Pope to resign or to accuse him of heresy is not a part of the sins against the Holy Spirit.”

“How does an advocate of Bergoglio’s pontificate of mercy, one such as Cardinal Maradiaga, now dare to accuse Viganò of a sin that will remain attached to him forever?” he asks.

Hoping then also reminds his readers that Pope Benedict XVI, during his pontificate, had been confronted with calls to resign. But, “nobody then spoke of a ‘sin against the Holy Spirit,’” comments the Freiburg professor. In light of the fact that Pope Francis himself has promised, with regard to sex abuse cases, “to call all those responsible to an accounting,” Professor Hoping concludes his essay with these words: “Many are waiting that Francis now will let deeds follow upon his words.”

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Cardinal Müller responds to allegations of leniency in cover-up abuse cases

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By Maike Hickson

GERMANY, September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller has responded to the claims of Professor Christian Pfeiffer, the criminologist who formerly headed an examination of clerical sex abuse and cover-up in Germany, that the cardinal was one of the driving forces behind a 2013 attempt at censoring his research.

Cardinal Müller told LifeSiteNews today that it was the German Bishops’ Conference itself “who changed the research assignment for Professor Pfeiffer,” and that Pfeiffer “of course now looks for scapegoats for his own failure and shame that the assignment was withdrawn.”

Pfeiffer maintains in a new interview that up to the 1990s, the Church “consistently” suppressed abuse cases and even paid “hush money” to some victims. He named Cardinals Reinhard Marx and Gerhard Müller as the two driving forces behind the 2013 attempt at censoring his research.

Pfeiffer withdrew himself from leading the investigation into the German bishops’ handling of clerical sex abuse cases “because the Church wanted to reserve its right to control the resulting research papers — and under certain circumstances even ban their publication,” according to the New York Times.

The findings of that study, the “MFG Study,” were eventually leaked last week. The study found 3,677 victims of clerical sex abuse of minors in Germany from 1946 until 2014. It also was able to show many forms of manipulation and cover-up on the part of the German bishops.

In the new issue of the German magazine Der Spiegel, Pfeiffer – the former head of the Criminology Research Center in Hannover, Germany – discusses the recently published results of study, which was initiated and ordered by the German Bishops’ Conference itself.

In 2012, Pfeiffer himself had made a contract with the German bishops in order to conduct a sex abuse study. This collaboration was terminated a year later.

“The Church asked something from me and my team that the current researchers did not have to accept,” Pfeiffer explained to Der Spiegel. “She insisted upon the right to stop the publication of my critical research findings in a case of doubt. That is why I could not continue the cooperation.”

According to Pfeiffer, it was both Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s vicar general in Munich and then-Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller of Regensburg who were the leading figures that tried “to change the contracts, going even so far as to censor us really.”

“Munich and Regensburg brought down our project,” Pfeiffer said. For him, it was “very dubious” when Müller was later called by the Pope to Rome “to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF),” and “to fight abuse on the international level.” For Pfeiffer, this papal decision did not, therefore, have a good “prospect for success.” Pope Francis, according to Pfeiffer, then later dismissed Cardinal Müller from his position at the CDF: “In the meantime, the Pope however drew already the conclusions and dismissed Müller from that position.” With these words, the criminologist implies that the German cardinal was dismissed for his defective way of dealing with sex abuse cases.

However, as LifeSiteNews was recently able find out from well-placed Vatican sources, Cardinal Müller very well might have been dismissed by Pope Francis for his strict adherence to the Church's sex abuse procedures, for example in the case of the serial child abuser Don Mauro Inzoli.

It was the German Bishops’ Conference itself “who changed the research assignment for Professor Pfeiffer,” Müller told LifeSiteNews. He said that Pfeiffer “of course now looks for scapegoats for his own failure and shame that the assignment was withdrawn.”

The cardinal also states that Pfeiffer’s claim about Müller’s own involvement in the thwarting of the Pfeiffer study is a “free invention.” The German cardinal additionally calls Pfeiffer’s statement that Müller was later dismissed by Pope Francis for his defective way of handling abuse cases “absurd.”

Moreover, the German cardinal makes it clear that he himself had been accused by some “papal confidants” of being too strict in his handling of sex abuse cases – 20 percent of which ended with the laicization of the offender. He praises and defends the three CDF priests whom Pope Francis dismissed in 2016, calling them “exemplary” and “competent.”

Finally, Cardinal Müller also refutes Professor Pfeiffer’s claim that celibacy is at the root of the sex abuse crisis and that that priestly discipline should be abolished.

“The sexual abuse of mainly homophilic offenders is not rooted in the Church’s sexual morality or in the celibacy of the priests, but, rather, in the laxity of morals and in the violation of God's Commandments and the failure to live celibacy,” Müller said. (See the full translation of Cardinal Müller's response to Pfeiffer’s remarks at the bottom of the article.)

Let us now return to Pfeiffer’s other comments on the German sex abuse report.

When asked in the Spiegel interview as to what he himself thinks about how high the real numbers of abuse cases might be, Professor Pfeiffer responded with the words “very high.”

“Some of the reported cases go very far back, and up into the 1990s there was no escape for the victims,” he explains. “The Church at the time consistently suppressed reports about sexual abuse and nearly never contacted the district attorney’s office. […] Money – with the help of which silence was bought – also flowed.” For Pfeiffer, even the now-published numbers of abuse victims are “shocking.” He expresses gratitude that today there exists a “sensibility” in society with regard to this topic, and that victims are more encouraged to speak up.

Pfeiffer shows that the findings of the study – namely, that around 4.4 percent of clergymen were involved in the sexual abuse of minors – are in accordance with other international studies, and he also points out that “only a minority of the abusers had a pedophile orientation.”

With regard to the defects of the new research study, as it has now been finished by another research team, Pfeiffer points out that its “gravest weak point” is “the lack of access to [Church] files.”

“When I started the project in 2012, we had an agreement that retired judges and attorneys would go [to the dioceses] and record the data on our behalf. It is a grave mistake that the Church changed that,” he explains.

A well-informed source in Germany told LifeSiteNews that there is a German law that forbids public institutions from letting outsiders have access to personnel files of their employees, unless there is a criminal charge, which was not the case in the abuse research project.

In spite of his criticism of some aspects of the new study, Professor Pfeiffer himself is nonetheless glad about it since it has been able to show “the huge amount of cover-up and downplaying within the Church, as it has not been known about heretofore.” He proposes that further research now be undertaken which would also include a far range of interviews with many abuse victims. For him, the Church has “in part” done her work in this field but “much still needs to be done.”

For Pfeiffer, who is not a Catholic, one proposed part of the solution of this abuse crisis would be to abandon priestly celibacy.

“The more one can live out freely one’s sexuality,” he suggests, “the better” with regard to abuse cases. He showed himself “surprised” that the new abuse study itself did not specifically point to priestly celibacy as a problem. As we have seen above, Cardinal Müller made some remarks about this comment.

With regard to future steps, the criminologist says that each individual case of abuse should “certainly be investigated.”

“After all,” he adds, the Church has negligently exposed people to dangers because she often only simply moved guilty clergymen into other dioceses – without warning the new parishes. There were many offenders “who then committed new sexual crimes. That is why the Church hierarchy who is responsible for these transfers carries a great part of the guilt of these crimes.”

At the end of the interview, Professor Pfeiffer calls for truly clear conduct on the part of the Church: “The Church has to make clear in a stringent way: he who is a criminal may not work as a priest.”

Cardinal Müller’s full statement to LifeSiteNews:

It was the German Bishops’ Conference which changed the research assignment for Professor Pfeiffer, independently of legitimate questions concerning the scientific method and the juridical foundations of the Pfeiffer study. Mr. Pfeiffer of course now looks for scapegoats for his own failure and for the shame that the research assignment had been withdrawn from him. If he also insinuates a connection between his freely invented claim that the then-Bishop of Regensburg and others had made his project perish, and between the [later] non-renewal of Cardinal Müller’s mandate as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then the absurdity of his claim is transparent for every clear-thinking person. With respect to the satisfaction that Pfeiffer feels and shamelessly announces, it is a question of character. The fact is that in the time of Bishop Müller [in Regensburg], all abuse cases that had taken place prior to his own term of office were dealt with all strictness, as soon as they were reported; and that the one abuse case of an abuser who had been an inherited burden from earlier times was concluded with his laicization.

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith acted within the framework of the collegial commission according to the rules of the Church's law and of the Sacramentorum sactitatis tutela [a motu proprio with regard to the Church’s penal law]. A certain group of people accused the Congregation of too much severity and a lack of mercy with regard to the canonical trials and with regard to the punishments that were imposed (only 20% ended with a laicization, the rest received other punishments (but that was already too much for some of the papal confidants [“Papsteinflüsterer”]!). Three competent employees and exemplary priests were dismissed [from the CDF] without notice and without reason. One could not accuse them of too much laxity, on the contrary! The sexual abuse of mainly homophilic offenders is not rooted in the Church's sexual morality nor in the celibacy of the priests, but, rather, in the laxity of morals and in the violation of God's Commandments and the failure to live celibacy. The reason for adultery, also, is not the indissolubility of marriage, as it has been established by God.

Translated by Maike Hickson

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Our spiritual response to scandals and abuses

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By Dr. Peter Kwasniewski

September 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – “It is impossible that scandals should not come: but woe to him through whom they come” (Lk 17:1). “In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).

In recent months, nothing has been more talked about in connection with the Catholic Church than that bitter, unspeakably sad two-syllable word, scandal. It is almost as if the world, the flesh, and the devil, of whom the secular media are the ready mouthpiece, were rejoicing in full choir that they have been able to draw the attention of so many people away from Christ our King, exalted upon the Cross, towards the muddy depths of human weakness and sin – including not only the reeking sins of lower clergy but also the sins of ambition, mendacity, and cowardice on the part of bishops.

Contrary to what some popes may say on their bad days, we should not be ignoring accusations of episcopal evil as if they were from the devil. Too many chancery offices have tried the approach of whistling in the dark and pretending that nothing’s really the matter; it’s just as unchristian as frolicking in the mud of calumny or detraction.

I believe, however, that we must look at the evils around us and within us peripherally, in the light of the Cross. Our Lord Jesus Christ alone can give us the strength to face evils of this magnitude and overcome them. In His truth we see our sins; in His love we see our liberation; in His grace we find our constant help. He is the only one who can bring any of us to true repentance for our sins and make us whole again. This, then, is how we know we are dealing with scandals in a Christian way: when we think to pray for a bishop’s or cardinal’s repentance and salvation, in addition to demanding that justice be done in the Church.

Here is something that needs to be said to all Christians, especially those whose faith is wavering on account of scandals: the fundamental miracle or miraculousness of the Catholic Church is not her perfection, but her existence.

It is true that Holy Mother Church shows us countless models of supreme holiness in the saints, but they are revelations of what the Church is called and guaranteed to be in her final state, not a democratic cross-section of what she actually is. What is astonishing is the fact that such a thing as the Church even exists in the fallen world – a spiritual temple in which God’s eternal life is shared with man, where God is made truly ours by sanctifying grace, where the Lamb of God is fed to us in the Eucharist. In this, there is cause enough for a hundred or a thousand lifetimes of wonder. Evil tarnishes and diminishes the Church in our midst, but it can never obliterate the miracle of her existence or make the gifts she offers to mankind any less wondrous and glorious than they are.

“No man has ever spoken as this man has spoken,” the Gospel says of Jesus (Jn 7:46). I have often said to my students, I am a Christian because I am in love with Jesus Christ, “the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20); and I am Roman Catholic because there is no other way of being sure to possess Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life except by belonging to the community He founded, making use of all the means of salvation He entrusted to it.

Hence, when I see the sins within me, and I see the corruption around me, even all the way to the top of the Church’s hierarchy, I say with Simon Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). No one can change those words of His, nor the promise He backs up with His death and resurrection, nor the grace He gives to the brokenhearted. This is what brings me peace and joy, if I only pause for a moment and call to mind what Jesus has done and is doing for me and for so many others who strive to follow Him.

Only if I become a saint will I make a difference to anyone else inside or outside the Church; and the only way to become a saint is to become one with Jesus on the Cross. We stand beneath the Cross with Mary and John, at the bleakest moment, when all hope seems lost, when Christ is dying in agony and gives up his last breath, and the storm hits. Even after the resurrection, the Church sojourning in time never leaves the foot of the Cross. The bride has to suffer all that her bridegroom suffered, if she is going to share fully in the victory He won.

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